Joe Gandelman, 10/11/2011 [Archive]

Will 2012 Be the Republican Party's 'Oh No You Don't' Year?

Will 2012 Be the Republican Party's 'Oh No You Don't!' Year?

Independent's Eye by Joe Gandelman

HOLDERNESS, N.H — Reports suggest New Hampshire voters haven't focused on the national politics invading their state yet, and it's hard to understand why. Republican Presidential nomination hopefuls are visiting here as dutifully, hungrily and reverentially as Republican politicos at a private Koch Brothers seminar.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, ex-conservative-flavor-of-the-week and latest victim of changing Tea Party tastes, insisted on a four-day bus trip that she's committed to winning the New Hampshire primary. But polls show New Hampshire isn't committed to handing her a win. Jon Huntsman, supported by 4 percent of Republicans here in a recent Harvard and St. Anselm poll, insists his campaign is on track but it must be a track built by the builders of the Bridge to Nowhere.

And then there is New Hampshire's hosting a major Republican presidential debate, with international media types having poured into the state due to the high stakes drama. The question: in the long run will it hurt former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (38 percent in the poll), former Godfathers' Pizza CEO and Tea Party darling Herman Cain (20 percent and also surging in a national Gallup poll), or the seemingly-jilted Texas Gov. Rick Perry (5 percent in the state poll)? Perhaps it isn't wise to advise Perry to leave no stone unturned after what happened with the stone at his family's rented hunting lodge in Texas.

But the big political news is that New Hampshire has become the "Oh no you don't!" state.

Florida has decided to move up its primary date to January 31. So now New Hampshire officials, wanting to preserve their state's historical status as the first presidential primary state, have basically said "Oh no you don't!" and are seriously considering moving up New Hampshire's primary date to Dec. 6 -- in what is becoming an "Oh no you don't!" political season.

Tough talking New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie just gave his party and the news media a big "Oh no you don't!" after weeks of smug predictions that he would definitely, certainly, most likely, you-can-bet-on-it, I'm-really-not-joking-now announce that he'd run for President.

Christie could have posed a threat to Obama. He's a charismatic, fresh national political commodity and is more moderate than Tea Party favorites. So he could have made inroads with independent voters, who'd have filled in undefined parts of his identity with their own hopes just as many did with Obama in 2008.

Christie would have easily survived comedians' inevitable fat jokes. All a comedian had to do was rewrite old jokes if Christie had been nominated. Such as: "Republicans worship the ground Chris Christie sits on: New Jersey, New York and parts of Pennsylvania." There would have been backlash at some commentators' silly suggestion that Christie's weight disqualified him from the Oval Office and somehow showed a "lack of discipline." You mean Christie's agonizing, Mario Cuomo-like deliberations on whether to run and deciding not to run even as Henry Kissinger, Bill Kristol and Rupert Murdoch were down on their knees begging him to run showed a LACK of discipline?

Another "Oh no you don't!" came from a prominent evangelical supporter of Perry's and some Republican presidential wannabes' response.

In a "Profiles in Political Jellyfish" moment, some of them avoided definitively repudiating mega-church the Rev. Robert Jeffress's statement that Romney shouldn't be the Republican candidate because he is not a real Christian but a Mormon and his religion is a "cult." The Great Hedge of India was dwarfed by the Great Hedge of Republicans.

Romney has produced enough flip flops to stock a Costco and has been compared to Sen. John Kerry and Richard Nixon. If he loses his nomination battle because he's not conservative enough, it'll be one thing.

But if he loses due to bigotry, then a large chunk of independent voters and excommunicated Republican moderates may say "On no you don't!" to the GOP on election day — and say"Oh, yes you can for four more years!" to Barack Obama.


Copyright 2011 Joe Gandelman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States. He has appeared on cable news show political panels and is Editor-in-Chief of The Moderate Voice, an Internet hub for independents, centrists and moderates. CNN's John Avlon named him as one of the top 25 Centrists Columnists and Commentators. He can be reached at and can be booked to speak at your event at

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.

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