Thursday, February 17, 2011

White House Wanabees Fall Into Three Categories Of Uncertainty

White House Wanabees Fall Into Three Categories Of Uncertainty
ABC News' Amy Walter reports:

We are less than a year out from the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary and the best known and most experienced Republican presidential candidates are still coy about their 2012 intentions.

Only businessman and radio talk show host Herman Cain has actually formed a presidential exploratory committee.

In conversations with sources close to the campaigns, however, it’s becoming clear that there are essentially three categories of potential candidates.

The first is the “almost certain to run” category: in this camp you’ll find Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum.

These candidates aren’t ready to say that they are 100 percent in this thing. But, they have the building blocks of a campaign in place including a coterie of experienced staffers, a calendar chocked full of trips to early primary states and a fundraising base.

The second is the “very serious, but still undecided” category.

This includes: Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, and Mike Huckabee.

All but Huntsman and Daniels have visited the early primary states. And none are tamping down the speculation.

But, they are still clearly wrestling with the decision. Most in this camp have formal or informal advisors, but they don’t have the sophisticated operations that the folks in the “almost certain to run” camp have.

Sarah Palin, meanwhile, gets her very own category.

With almost universal name recognition and access to a national fundraising base, Palin is almost certain to wait until the last minute to make any sort of decision.

Even so, it’s clear that no one but the former governor can say whether or not she’s going to do this.

To be sure, there are lots of potential candidates out there who may ultimately jump in, such as 2008 candidate Rep. Ron Paul who recently won the CPAC straw poll.

And, of course, there the Republicans who have said they aren’t running, but get mentioned anyway.

The best example of this, of course, is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. However, Christie doesn’t exactly shun the national spotlight, and given the fluidity of this field, it’s hard to write him off.

 In fact, if there’s one thing that almost every person we’ve talked to agreed with it’s that this nomination contest was the most wide-open that they’d seen in their political lifetimes.