Somehow the constant bickering on cable news has not educated the public on the possible contenders for the Republican nomination for president. I know, hard to believe. As the GOPers jockey for position in the upcoming battle, a slightly disconcerting Times/CBS News poll has revealed that most people haven’t quite formed an opinion about them. Here’s a quick primer on who these guys (and gals) are.
Tim Pawlenty: The former Minnesota Governor is perhaps best known for losing the VP slot on John McCain’s 2008 ticket. McCain instead chose another little-known governor from the state of Alaska, forever changing the course of history (and Jon Stewart jokes). Pawlenty is a mild-mannered social and fiscal conservative who was goaded into announcing his presidential intentions on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight. 80 percent of GOP respondents did not have an opinion of him.
Haley Barbour: This former Mississippi governor and K Street lobbyist has an unabashedly Southern style of campaigning. After being thrust onto the national stage after Hurricane Katrina, Barbour has come under scrutiny for defending the racist White Citizens Councils of the ’50s and ’60s. He has also made head-scratching remarks about KKK leaders and watermelons. This has been summed up by Salon.com as “Haley Barbour’s Google problem.”
John Huntsman: A staggering 90 percent of polled GOPers have no opinion of this guy. He’s President Obama’s Ambassador to China, for chrissakes. Well, at least he will have the job until the end of April when he leaves the position to … I don’t know, run for president. In order to run an effective GOP primary, the prospective candidate needs to convince voters he doesn’t agree with his current boss. This will be difficult after they read this letter, in which Huntsman calls President Obama a “remarkable leader.” Good luck with that.
Michele Bachmann: A Tea Party favorite, Ms. Bachmann has given Sarah Palin a run for her money in the crazy category. Bachmann has called President Obama un-American. Her factually unsound and historically inaccurate statements are too bountiful to list. I’d say she’s an early front-runner.
Rick Santorum: Santorum was Pennsylvania’s GOP Senator and conservative firebrand. His moral certitude and ideological extremism has made him a great addition to the Fox News team. In other events, his rabidly anti-gay stances made him target of activists and writers like Dan Savage, who concocted one of the most epic Google bombs in history.
Mitch Daniels: This Indiana governor formerly worked in the Bush administration, which should give him some notes on what not to do in the Oval Office. He rides a motorcycle, wants to privatize stuff, bust unions—all the things the kids are into nowadays.
Sarah Palin: Ms. Palin is a reality TV star and pundit who has worked extensively for Fox News. Little-known fact: Palin was actually a small-town mayor and governor of the state of Alaska before she became an international phenomenon. The people of Alaska haven’t forgot about her, though; a recent USA Today poll says 61 percent of Alaskans view her unfavorably.
Mitt Romney: Maybe the weakest front-runner ever, Romney will enter the race with only 42 percent of Republicans viewing him favorably. This former Massachusetts governor implemented a successful statewide health-insurance plan that looks a heck of a lot like the one Obama has implemented across the nation.
Donald Trump: Seriously? Not going to entertain this one.