Republican leaders should be pestering Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Paul Ryan every day, telling them they have to make a late entry into the presidential race to save their party, talk show host Joe Scarborough said on Thursday.
The former GOP congressman said the party’s only chance of winning back the White House in November is if its candidate is someone who is not in the race now.
Scarborough said that, if he were head of the Republican National Committee, he would be on the phone every day urging others to get into the race.
“I'd be asking — still be asking — Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, or somebody else,” Scarborough told the “Today” show’s Ann Curry.
“I’d say I know you're uncomfortable, I know the timing's not right, but you have a responsibility to your party and your nation to get engaged.”
Scarborough was talking two days after front-runner Mitt Romney failed to come up with a crushing victory in the 10 states that voted on Super Tuesday, meaning that the bruising race is now likely to go on at least until May.
And recent polls show conservative voters are none too enthused with the candidates. In the latest national poll, Romney continues to do well against Rick Santorum, leading him by 12 points, 39 to 27 percent, according to Rasmussen Reports. Newt Gingrich is at 17 percent, with Ron Paul dead last at 10 percent. But the poll shows at least 41 percent of likely voters could still change their minds.
The only bright spot for Santorum came as one poll showed he had a slight lead over Romney in Alabama, according to the Alabama State University’s Center for Leadership and Public Policy. That poll, however, was conducted on March 1, before Super Tuesday's contests.
Former Florida Gov. Bush, New Jersey Gov. Christie, and Wisconsin Rep. Ryan all have been mentioned previously as possible compromise candidates but so far have shown no sign that they would be interested. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels also has been suggested, and on Tuesday, 2008 vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin said she “wouldn’t close the door” if she were asked to allow her name to go forward at the party’s national convention in August.
But Scarborough, a four-term congressman from Florida who resigned in 2001, made it clear he believes a new candidate has to get involved before the Tampa convention. He said Republicans he speaks to simply do not believe any of the current crop of candidates can beat President Barack Obama.
“Three months ago, things were different,” he said. “But you look at the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, you look at the divide between men and women. The gender gap now is over 20 percent. That's a landslide waiting to happen.
“Only 14 percent of Hispanics say they would vote for any of these Republican candidates. George W. Bush in 2004 barely won by getting 44 percent of the Hispanic vote. This is a party that's on its way to a historic defeat in the fall unless they're able to drag in some other candidates.”
Scarborough said he isn’t yet at the same point as columnist George Will, who has said that Republicans need to realize they are not going to win the presidency and concentrate on making sure they win both Houses of Congress.
“There are a lot of people concerned not only with how Barack Obama’s been spending money over the past four years, but how George W. Bush and the Republicans spent money the eight years before that,” he said.
“We had a $5 trillion national debt when I left office in 2001. We're at $16 trillion right now. If Barack Obama has another term, we'll be over $20 trillion. We're not that far from having the dollar getting beaten around like Greece and Spain and Italy and other parts of Europe are having their currency beaten up right now.
“These are dangerous times, and I don’t think the Republican Party wants to throw in the towel just yet.”
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