George W. Bush pollster Jan van Lohuizen considers some of the Republican candidates who are running (or considering a run) for president. What's particularly interesting are the liabilities that van Lohuizen notices.
On Rick Perry, van Lohuizen cautions:
His assets are that he is a good communicator, appeals to tea party types, and he can point to the strength of the Texas economy. On the liabilities side, however, he did not get the things he introduced for that purpose, and the criticism of the balanced budget he passed is getting rougher and rougher: it is basically as flimsy as [J]erry Brown’s balanced budget. Add to that that he never really has done all that well in Texas. He got a 2nd full term with less than 40% of the vote in a 4 way race, and barely avoided a runoff in his own primary against a weakened Senator and an unknown.
Add as well that some of the issues he is associated with are deeply problematic to conservatives, including his record on property rights, increasing taxes, ‘pay to play’ fundraising and any amount of other raw material for opposition researchers that 10 years as Governor generates.
On Tim Pawlenty:
He is utterly lacking in charisma. I usually avoid these, but I agreed to speak at a regional organizing meeting for the party in Minnesota just to see him speak: he was utterly boring and I decided not to pitch his campaign. At a cocktail reception for the event, attended by 125+ activists, he and his wife were standing by themselves – no one was interested in talking to him and he made no effort to work the crowd. The first presidential campaign, I worked for John Connally’s; at an event like this one 120 of 125 attendees would have been all over him and he would have found the remaining 5. And Connally got 1 delegate, but in fairness he was running against Ronald Reagan.
And on Mitt Romney:
I worked for the Romney campaign 4 years ago and it was one of the worst if not the worst campaign experiences I’ve had. I personally liked (and like) Romney, and he’s clearly very bright, but I came to the conclusion that to be a successful venture capitalist you mostly have to be a great pitchman, much more so than a great manager.
Romney clearly is a good pitchman, and I think that in ’08 this was more a liability than an asset: he sounded as convincing telling people he was pro-choice (on tape in his campaign for Senate against Kennedy) as he sounded telling people he was pro-life 4 years ago. That made a lot of people very nervous. It might have been survivable if he switched on just one issue, but he switched on so many that he lost his credibility. I think the damage has proven to be lasting.
In his current campaign he made the right decision to try to become the leading economic expert in the field. However, if you read what he actually says it sound very hollow and mostly consists of safe conservative dogma; if he has said something original on the economy I missed it. I do think he will be a strong candidate against the President if he manages to get out of the primaries, but whether he does remains to be seen.