Category Archive 'Jim Pethokoukis'

29 Apr 2011

Bill Kristol Makes a Great Proposal

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Ryan-Rubio in 2012

Bill Kristol is perfectly right. Conservatives need to field serious candidates capable of debating the fundamental choices for this country’s future direction. 2012 is a potential watershed election in which the voters will be looking for a real alternative to deficits, inflation, and submission to national decline.

The current Republican field does not present many principled conservatives, and Sarah Palin has not, so far, demonstrated that she has the ability to debate Barack Obama and win.

There are no safe choices. And the 2008 election proves that the politics-as-usual conventional next-in-line approach to presidential nominations can be a certain recipe for failure.

Young, vigorous, and dynamic candidates have terrific voter appeal. Both Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio represent the best leadership of the Republican Party, and we should field that leadership in this time of national crisis.


James Pethokoukis, at Reuters, is also climbing on board the Ryan for President bandwagon.

It’s not just Bill Kristol, gang. There’s desire at the highest ranks of the Republican Party, according to my reporting and sources, to see House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan seek the 2012 presidential nomination. Here’s why:

1) Since Democrats are determined to hang Ryan’s bold “Path to Prosperity” budget plan around the neck of every Republican running for office in 2012, why not have its author and best salesman advocate for it directly vs. President Obama?

2) Ryan — to borrow a favorite Simon Cowell phrase — is “current.” He’s smack in the middle of budgetary and ideological clash between Democrats and Republicans and would immediately energize conservative and Tea Party activists.

3) Ryan is a strong national defense conservative, as well as pro-life.

4) Ryan is from a battleground state, Wisconsin, and a battleground region, the upper Great Lakes.

5) Ryan’s youth, vigor, likability and Jimmy Stewart persona — well, a wonky version of George Bailey — would be an immediate shorthand signal to voters that he’s a different kind of Republican. He also has a compelling life story to tell.

6) Obama suddenly and unexpectedly to Washington insiders looks beatable — by the right candidate.


Jon Ward, at HuffPo, pitched Kristol’s Ryan-Rubio trial balloon as a failure, but conceded that the idea has real appeal to some conservatives.

An attempt by conservative author Bill Kristol to excite interest in the idea of a presidential run by Republican congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) –- with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) as his running mate -– fell flat with the conservative political establishment on Monday.

“Sounds like an idea my good friend Bill Kristol would float, but that is not the nominating process of the Republican Party,” said Mel Sembler, a major Republican fundraiser and businessman. “Paul Ryan has already stated he is not interested in running and Marco Rubio just got to town as senator.”

“I guess Bill Kristol will just have to stick to prognosticating,” Sembler told The Huffington Post. …

Yet a broad cross section of GOP political figures –- many of them in off-the-record conversations — echoed Sembler’s opinion, even as they sang Ryan’s praises. Some even admitted that Ryan is one of the few Republican politicians who they think could beat Obama in a debate, pointing to his exchange with Obama at last year’s health care summit.

In withholding their support, they cited Ryan’s unwillingness to jump into the 2012 presidential race, his lack of executive experience, and a strong belief that the Republican primary should proceed methodically and traditionally, without the kind of disruption that a surprise candidate would bring.

“If people want to run, let them run and subject themselves to the rigor and scrutiny of the process,” said Jim Rickards, an economic analyst who works with top GOP politicos in Washington. “This business of anointing unvetted fantasy tickets seems a bit sophomoric.”

Nonetheless, Kristol’s second try at floating a Ryan-Rubio trial balloon –- after first doing so in early January -– is just another indication of how unsettled many conservatives are with the quality, or lack thereof, on the party’s 2012 roster of potential presidential candidates. …

Despite the pessimism among the political establishment, there are small signs that Kristol’s desire for a compelling alternative to the current field -– and to the other much-discussed dark horse candidate, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey –- is catching on, at least among conservative writers.


Jennifer Rubin, at the Washington Post, agreed with Jim Pethokoukis and added that the unattractiveness of the current field of candidates required a solution

With fewer candidates than expected in the race, there is plenty of campaign talent around. (And did anyone notice how professional and effective was the ‘campaign’ to roll out his budget?) And, I suspect, that should Ryan enter the race he’d have no problem raising the needed cash.

Ryan has said he doesn’t want to run, but sometimes the question of “want to run” is a luxury. There are times when the moment presents itself, the party and the country are receptive, and there is no one else quite as compelling. Think Bill Clinton in 1992. Ryan has some time, though not much, to decide whether he wants to fill the obvious gap in the GOP field. And if party activists, insiders, Tea Partyers and operatives think Ryan is the man, then they’d better start making their wishes known.

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