I have a remarkable number of friends who have solicited my support for Mitt Romney, here, a full nine months from Iowa. Another has asked me to help throw a Gingrich event. Things are heating up, but I have a policy that I never donate to more than one candidate for a given position. It makes no sense unless you're trying to hedge your bets and curry favor, a practice I find repugnant. (Perhaps overlooked in Atlas Shrugged is that Rand eviscerates the private sector favor-curriers as much as she does government socialists.)
I am at least six or seven months away from deciding on a candidate, and I am completely open right now. Normally, Republicans have this self-defeating habit of picking the "next-in-line," but this time feels different to me. I feel we need to let someone emerge from the crucible of the campaign, the way a relatively unknown Bill Clinton did in 1992. For instance, I plan to take a close look at Gary Johnson, the former Governor of New Mexico. He's a libertarian who favors legalizing pot, but he was also a complete ball-buster on spending while governor. I'm talkin' Dr. No.
I am not, strictly speaking, a libertarian. Historically, I have not favored withdrawing into ourselves, foreign policy wise. But unfortunately, being the world's policeman - pax americana - is no longer an option because we don't have the money. Legalizing pot? I don't favor that either, but there's far more that I like about libertarians than not. On economic matters, their agenda is highly compelling. And here's the thing: they are principled. I know where they stand. No flip-flopping or hidden agendas.
Can we say the same about Mitt Romney? Is he a principled candidate, or would he fall prey to the "sophisticated" and "nuanced" positions of Beltway panjandrums, become one more in a line of spineless purveyors of liberalism-lite like Ford, Dole, and McCain? We just don't know. His words say no, but don't they always during the primaries? His actions, historically, suggest otherwise. (I will say this about Romney: based on the calls I’ve been getting, he seems to have a substantial organizational lead at this point.)
I also plan to look long and hard at Michelle Bachmann and Newt Gingrich, and maybe Mitch Daniels. Bachmann has principles and balls, but can a congressman manage the executive branch? Maybe, but there just might be a reason it's never been done. Gingrich has principles as well, and I'd pay good money to see him mop the floor with Obama in a debate. But is he a manager? Many say no. We'll see how well he can manage a campaign. Mitch Daniels? He's got the management chops, but does he have the fire-in-the-belly? Seems bland. Too bad we can't splice him with Bachmann or Gingrich.
I'll say this, though: this is an election that must be won. A crazy amount at stake, including the Supreme Court.
In the meantime, I'll leave you with the current nomination probabilities, as shown in prediction markets:
Forgot to mention Trump or Palin, but that's because I don't think either is a candidate. If either becomes one, my views are this: Trump is a joke with no ideological consistency. Palin is nothing if not consistent, but the media has effectively - and unfairly - branded her in such a way as to make her election impossible. She's a dead end.
In the general, the market says Obama has a 60% probability of winning re-election. I view this as far too high for the simple reason that he’s going to have enormous difficultly with Ohio and Florida, and he’s not winning without those. Also, I believe 20% of America voted for him in 2008 as a fashion statement more than anything – sophisticated person on board – and buyer's remorse runs rampant through that group (many of them here on Wall Street). They have checked the “enlightened” box and don’t need to check it again.