About a month ago, I profiled the current contenders for the Republican nomination - fast forward four weeks and the picture has changed somewhat with Donald Trump'swithdrawal and the subsequent pullouts of Mike Huckabee and Mitch Daniels have narrowed the field somewhat - not helped by the fact that for all their flaws, both Daniels and Huckabee might have had a respectable chance of putting up a reasonable show!
The rest of the post will concentrate on those other candidates not mentioned in the original post who have or are rumoured to be on the verge of putting themselves forward. A subsequent post later in the week will consider the four potential candidates who could really give the Democrats a scare were they to declare themselves.
A definite 'Mos Eisley' addition to the field were he to announce his candidacy is Roy Moore. No prizes for guessing that Moore doesn't hail from either the West or East coast of the States. His most famous moment in the public eye came back in 2003 when he was removed from his office as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing to abide by a US district court instructing that he remove a granite monument to the Ten Commandments which had he had placed in the Alabama Supreme Court building. Extremely popular with the 'religious right', he would be expected to surpass the defeat of Walter Mondale if selected for the nomination.
Slightly more credible for moderate opinion is John Huntsman Jr. He served the Obama administration for 2 years as its ambassador to the PR China. Hunstman was a former governor of the Mormon state of Utah, arguably one of the most socially conservative in the entire Union. Nevertheless, his positions on Climate change and support of the economic stimulus plan suggested by the President make him one of the few candidates likely to have some appeal to moderate voters. however, as with a number of other runners, the likely upshot of his relative moderation is to make him UNACCEPTABLE to the extremes of the Republican base. He is also said to lack charisma and a degree of name recognition with ordinary Americans.
A somewhat unexpected runner entered the campaign in the form of former Pizza magnate Herman Cain. Perhaps the most interesting things about him are that he has never held elected office (which in an era when the US, just as much as the UK has been brought to its knees by 'professional' politicians is arguably not necessarily such a bad thing) and that he, like Obama is black. In terms of political positions, he is the usual pro-Israel, anti abortion and anti big government which seems to be the currency of many Republican candidates. His selection for the nomination seems unlikely.
Another candidate who has formally declared is former New Mexico Gary Johnson Johnson does have the commendable policy of legalising Marijuana across the board, and unlike many Social conservative commentators, from his former position in Santa Fe he would have had first hand experience of the violence accompanying the increasingly lucrative Mexican drug trade. His argument is that legalisation would undercut this trade and reduce violence levels. He is a costcutter proud of vetoing 750 bills to fulfill a campaign pledge not to raise taxes. I can see the drug policy being what the focus attaches to, however!
Two other candidates who may be familiar to readers are John Bolton, the former American ambassador to the UN under the previous administration of George W Bush. A fierce conservative, and indeed one of the leading 'Neocons' under Bush, Bolton was critical of supranational organisations such as the UN itself, the ICC and EU. whilst likely to endear him to many Americans, his links with the Bush regime are likely to prove highly problematic were he to enter the fray. He does attack the Obama administration , unusually, primarily on foreign, rather than domestic policy grounds.
George Pataki was the governor (as opposed to Rudy Giulani , who was the Mayor of New York City) of New York State during the September 11th attacks. A critic of the Quantitative easing policy of Obama, and fiscal conservative, Pataki's resume is relatively light on what he would do differently beyond reducing expenditur across the board (another cutter!) There is also a significant gap on social policy. It's relatively tricky in New York to appeal to the entire state given its racial diversity on a 'Tea Party' ticket, so these may be more moderate than some other candidates.
Another very much in the mould of Ron Paul would be Buddy Roemer , a former governor of Louisiana,and four term congressman, also representing that state. He last held office in 1992 before being voted out. His cornerstone appears to be to limit campaign donations to $100 per contribution - an element of self-interest surely not withstanding.
Thus, the crowded field of 17 candidates has now dwindled to 14 - to summarise:
OUT: Huckabee, Trump, Daniels
CONSIDERING: Palin, Bachmann, Pataki, Bolton, Roemer, Moore, Huntsman
IN: Romney, Gingrich, Paul, Santorum, Pawlenty, Cain, Johnson.
Thus seven candidates have thus far declared - of these the favourite were noone else to stand would surely be Mitt Romney - I doubt Obama's supporters will be overly concerned. The third part of this trilogy will look at four candidates who could seriously worry Obama - but look to be holding their powder dry for 2016.