Former House majority leader Dick Armey (R., Tex.) told Fox News today he expects former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty to win the Republican nomination for president in 2012. But in an interview with National Review Online, Armey laments the lack of his first choice in the race: Rep. Mike Pence (R., Ind.)
“I tried very hard to get him in the race,” Armey says, stressing Pence’s acceptability to both economic conservatives and evangelical voters. “He knows his Austrian economics,” the former economics professor adds. “Every strength he has is shared by at least one other candidate but nobody has all of them.” Armey also believes Pence may not have a better chance at the presidency anytime soon: “By 2016, we’ll have [Gov. John] Kasich in Ohio [and] these young people in the Senate. He may have lost his moment.”
What does the ex-congressman think of his former speaker, Newt Gingrich, who is hinting at a run? “I think Newt is the personification of old news,” Armey quips. In response to rumors that Gingrich believes former Alaska governor Sarah Palin won’t run and he’ll be the frontrunner by June 2011, Armey says, “As usual Newt is half-right: Palin won’t get in.”
Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, however, earns Armey’s praise. “I think Mitch is a good option,” he says. When asked if Daniels might experience difficulty on foreign-policy issues, Armey muses, “Mitch has a disciplined awareness of his own limitations.” He thinks Daniels would bring in advisers to help him bone up on national-security policy.
But what does he like about Pawlenty? “He has a leg up on the others,” Armey reasons. “He’s a new face so he can define himself.” What of the criticism that Pawlenty is too vanilla for people’s tastes? “People have charisma fatigue,” Armey says. “They want someone who can produce.”
Finally, what does Armey think about Palin? He notes that he’s never met the ex-governor, a fact he thinks is strange. “You’d think we would have run into each other at some point,” he observes. “The grassroots adore her but don’t want her as the nominee,” he argues. “I don’t understand that, but that’s their disposition, I think.”