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The Next President Isn’t Currently Running (Updated)

7:35 AM, May 23, 2011 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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There’s no GOP operative for whom I have higher regard than former RNC chair and senior Bush advisor Ed Gillespie. He deserves to be taken seriously when he says (according to Politico): "For all intents and purposes, the field is set. The waiting is over. It's possible someone may get in later on, but Republican activists, officials and donors are going to begin picking a horse from the current field, and things are going to accelerate pretty quickly now. We have a field that will produce a nominee capable of beating Obama next November."

Elephant Drawing GOP

But I’d bet he’s wrong. In fact, I hereby offer this bet: I’ll buy Ed the kind of steak dinner a man of his stature deserves, if the nominee a) comes from the current field and b) goes on to beat President Obama. And I’ll include in the current field (since they seem very likely to run) Michele Bachmann and Jon Huntsman, in addition of course to Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and Gary Johnson.

Meanwhile, I get Peking duck courtesy of Ed if the nominee who goes on to beat Obama is someone not now running and not now saying he intends to run. This includes Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Jeb Bush, and Sarah Palin—and those who’ve gotten out but who could get back in, such as John Thune, Mike Pence, Mitch Daniels, or Mike Huckabee.

Ed and I agree that President Obama is beatable. But in pursuit of that goal, Ed is willing to go with (or resigned to going with) the current field. I’m holding out (at least for now) for someone (or ones) from the current non-field.

UPDATE: Gillespie emails: "You're on!"

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