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The 2012 Republican Presidential Front-runners

By Daniel Brooks on December 14, 2011 in Other

Given that what happens in the US inevitably affects us here in the land down-under, The Beast will be featuring a few articles over the coming months exploring some of the finer points of the upcoming presidential campaign.
The race to see who will face up to President Barack Obama in the US Presidential election next year kicks off in earnest in the coming months. Here’s a quick look at the four candidates who have the best chance of becoming the Republican nominee for President.

Mitt Romney
The former private equity investor turned governor of Massachusetts is in many eyes the one to beat. He is well-funded and well-organised, and has backed this up with strong and consistent performances so far.

Why he will probably win
Romney looks a much better candidate than the one who lost to John McCain in 2008. On the economy, which will be the key issue in this election, he has a wealth of experience from which to reference. Furthermore, the feeling that it is ‘his turn’ is a not insignificant factor in a party that tends to reward persistence in presidential primaries.

Why he might not
There remains a strong anyone-but-Romney movement within certain parts of the Republican Party. Romney has been a front-runner because he has been able to count on a solid 20% level of support. The question remains whether this support is a floor or a ceiling.

Herman Cain
‘The Herminator’ has burst onto the scene as the proud anti-politician in the race. Having never held public office, Cain is most famous as the former CEO of Godfathers Pizza. The centrepiece of his campaign is his 9-9-9 tax plan, which promises to reduce the rate of income tax to 9%.

Why he might win
The Tea Party sentiment in the Republican Party means that there has never been more support for an ‘outsider’ candidate like Cain. His 9-9-9 plan perfectly encapsulates his appeal: it is new, different and easily understandable.

Why he probably won’t
Neither the 9-9-9 plan nor Cain have withstood scrutiny particularly well. Analysis of the tax suggests that it may actually increase the taxes of many middle class Americans. Cain has also previously been the subject of several sexual harassment complaints, which combined with his tendency for wackiness remain considerable risks.

Rick Perry
The current governor of Texas, and immediate successor of George W. Bush, has never lost a major election. Blessed with a prodigious fundraising organisation and excellent conservative credentials, Perry’s late entrance into the race initially sent shockwaves through the GOP field.

Why he might win
Perry is the antithesis of Barack Obama’s professorial intelligence. Where Obama will seek to consider and weigh up all the options, Perry is instinctive and decisive. Importantly, his state of Texas has led the nation in job creation.

Why he probably won’t
Apart from sounding like Bush, Perry also gives off ‘Dubya’s’ anti-intellectualism. Many Americans still blame the current economic crisis on this attitude. Unfortunately, several anaemic debate performances have done nothing to assuage these concerns.

Newt Gingrich
The prominent former speaker of the House of Representatives, Gingrich is a formidable name in the Republican Party. However, he has so far failed to put together the compelling and coherent performances that defined his earlier political career.

Why he might win
No other candidate can match Gingrich’s genuine interest in, and understanding of, public policy.

Why he probably won’t
His early campaign troubles have left him with little organisational structure, and have robbed him of momentum in the early stages.