The GOP candidate in next year’s presidential election will automatically be “odds-on favorite” to win the White House due to Barack Obama’s unpopularity, former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie believes.
Whoever it is that finally wins through the Republican primaries will be in a very strong position to win the ultimate prize, he tells Newsmax.TV.
Even the rank outsiders like Rep. Thad McCotter or Rick Santorum could shock the political system and upset the more established candidates, he said.
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“It’s a long process and we’ve seen folks emerge,” Gillespie said. “I remember Gov. Huckabee was dismissed as a second-tier candidate or a long-shot candidate. He ended up at the end of 2008 with more delegates than anyone else.
“It’s good for the party to be patient, to allow for candidates to make their case, to emerge. It’s a healthy process. Whoever emerges from the Republican Party primaries is going to be a very formidable candidate for president.”
Gillespie would not be drawn on who he thought would make the best candidate, but he spoke highly of Newt Gingrich, whose campaign has faltered badly in the first few weeks. Gillespie and Gingrich worked closely on drafting the 1994 “Contract with America.”
“This is a time where the country is looking for big ideas,” he said. “This is going to be a big election in 2012 and it’s not going to be over small things.
“It will be over very clear, stark choices between the direction President Obama would continue to take this country, moving it away from free market-based economic policy to more managed control of our economy. Newt Gingrich is one with a proven record of offering big ideas and solutions.”
When it came to other candidates, Gillespie said front-runner Mitt Romney is showing everyone this is not his first time at the rodeo. “Gov. Romney has run a much better campaign. He clearly has the markings of a second-time candidate,” he said. “He’s got a relentless focus on jobs and that is very much in sync with where a majority of the voters are.”
He also had high marks for pizza mogul Herman Cain. “People are looking for a fresh face and Herman Cain provides a fresh face and a fresh voice. “The business experience he brings to bear right now is very pertinent to the number one issue … jobs.
“Herman Cain has proven himself to be a very dynamic campaigner for someone who has never run for office before.”
Gillespie said ex-Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman will be in the race longer than most people expect. “He is making an appeal to more moderate voters,” he said. “They are not the majority of voters in the Republican primary process but there is a steady base of them in a lot of these primaries, and … he’s the only one really making a direct appeal to them.
“He may surprise people with how many delegates he racks up along the way,” Gillespie predicted.
Of former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Gillespie said, “He has an impressive record as a two-term governor in a pretty blue state and making his case for his brand of fiscal conservatism will serve him well.”
And Gillespie said he was not surprised that Rep. Michele Bachmann is doing so well in opinion polls. “I’ve seen her before and I know that she has great instincts and a very strong connection to the concerns of middle class voters, the conservative voters. And she’s very smart.”
Gillespie said that if Texas Gov. Rick Perry enters the race, he too would make a formidable candidate. “The Republican Party has a tendency to look to governors and look for executive leadership in our nominee and he will bring that quality to bear as well as a pretty solidly conservative record that will resonate with a lot of Republican primary voters and caucus-goers.”
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