SO WHEN the hell are you launching your presidential campaign? Got your PAC started yet? OK, maybe you won’t but you certainly could, or so it seems. Running for the American presidency is cooler than a mobile wallet. A dizzying number of aspirants to the Big Chair in the Oval Office have recently announced presidential aspirations no less far-fetched and impossibly quixotic than your own. The latest one happened on Thursday. There was one who announced a day before that. There’s another one coming a day or two from now. They can’t all win, of course, but they all think they can win. Democracy is a wonderful thing.
Since Hillary Clinton revealed the thoroughly open secret of her presidential campaign on April 12, no fewer than seven other political notables have announced the launch of their own campaigns. And since six candidates are on the Republican side (some declared before Clinton did) and other pols like Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie have formed exploratory committees, we’re moving beyond the previously ridiculous rhetorical vehicular yardstick.
The GOP clown-car metaphor isn’t big enough. We need a clown bus right now. Let’s look at three of the riders.
Pataki: Another governor heard from
In the video, we’ve caught Pataki on one of his mornings in America: dressing for some business engagement with the help of his wife, in the dawn’s early light. Pataki borrows from the intrinsically emotionally images of Freedom Tower and the 9/11 Memorial — incidental touchstones of a tenure in office that coincided with the worst terrorist incursion in American history. And he calls on the untied states to be, once more, the United States. “If we are to flourish as a people,” he says, “we have to fall in love with America again.”
Pataki’s campaign gets the patina of the new for a little while longer. He’s reportedly about to be eclipsed on the newness meter by former Democratic Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, whom several news sources say is about to jump into the White House game with an announcement from Baltimore on Saturday.
Santorum: Junior elder statesman maybe
“As middle America is hollowing out, we can't sit idly by as big government politicians make it harder for our workers and then turn around and blame them for losing jobs overseas. American families don't need another president tied to big government or big money,” he said from Cabot, Pa. “And today is the day we are going to begin to fight back.”
For all the talk going on offense, Santorum in 2012 didn’t do that well. “Santorum has done a great job of making first downs on fourth and seventeen plays,” said Steve Schmidt, who managed McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, to The Washington Post. Sooner or later, that kind of football gets you in trouble.
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It’s time for Santorum to play those cards. If he’s ever again to be taken seriously as a candidate, 2016 may be his best year. Like Mitt Romney, he lays claim to having run a presidential campaign at a high level. The fact that he lost is almost inconsequential right now. In a field this crowded, previous campaign experience is its own gravitas. This year, way more than 2012, there are options the Republican electorate has, right now, and that conveys an emeritus status to someone who’s done this rodeo before. Among those with the highest and most viable profiles in the GOP, that means Romney and Santorum.