The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

A Presidential Candidate Must Want More Than Exposure and a Bigger Fundraising Base


Over in the Corner, Rich lays out why a Michele Bachmann presidential campaign would be just about all upside for her.

For her, of course. A good question is whether the GOP or the Right is well served by having the Republican presidential campaigning and nominating process turned into a vehicle for any party officeholder interested in “getting more national exposure and building a bigger fundraising base” who has “low expectations” and who could be a “real force” in any early primary state.

The party teems with figures who fit the above description. It’s not terribly hard to imagine that the entry of too many (any?) of these figures will be ultimately harmful to the party and harmful to the process of selecting a candidate.

Florida senator Marco Rubio, Pennsylvania senator Pat Toomey, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, and Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, among others, are all great and promising recently elected GOP lawmakers who have said they’re not running for president. All or almost all of them would say either that they aren’t experienced enough and don’t feel ready to be president, or they feel that they need to keep their word to their constituents in their home states. Bids by any of them that aimed merely to “get more exposure and build a bigger fundraising base” would probably do more harm to their political future than good.

At this early point, with such a wide-open field, Republicans can and probably should take the perspective of “let a thousand flowers bloom.” There is little harm in any particular figure jumping in, testing the waters, and seeing how folks respond to their speeches and pitches.

But for all of these aspiring candidates except one, the reception will be insufficient to win the nomination. And as the days turn to weeks and the weeks turn to months, if the grassroots reception is consistently tepid, these candidates shouldn’t fool themselves that their breakout moment is just around the corner. You could see it as the primaries progressed last cycle; after a while, the also-rans were just taking up space and taking up air time during the debates.

Republican primary voters have a serious decision to make. Their time should not be wasted by any ambitious pol whose real goal is more television appearances, a post-campaign book or television punditry deal, or a longer list of e-mails of potential donors.

Tags: 2012 , Michele Bachmann


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