I hate how early presidential campaigns get kicked off nowadays. In a culture where information travels so fast, I would think we need less time for campaigning, not more. But, sadly, that's not the way it works.
I doubt I'll be voting for President Obama. I didn't in 2008, and he hasn't really done anything to convince me to change my mind. I have a great deal of respect for the President, but I simply have too many policy differences with him to be able to support his reelection.
So, I've begun to pay attention to the crop of Republican hopefuls. About the only Republican out there who excites me is Gov. Chris Christie of NJ, but he has said repeatedly that he is not running in 2012. Without him or former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (yet?) in the race, I feel like I am very far from picking a candidate. I guess it's a good thing that votes won't start being cast for a year.
I did catch most of the Republican presidential debate that CNN hosted this week. And it left me with some questions. Here are my questions about the candidates, announced and yet-to-be announced, that will need to get answered before I can vote for one of these men or women:
Congresswoman Bachmann strikes me as obviously intelligent and accomplished. She’ll get a bad rap from Democrats and the media for her Tea Party association, but isn't she just the front-runner in the Veepstakes?
Mr. Cain is interesting to listen to and has a great story, but I generally don't think of him as any more electable than Papa John. How long will it be before the Alan Keyes comparisons begin?
In 1989, I had a signed picture of Newt hanging on my wall. Keep your Alex P. Keaton jokes to yourselves. Newt was fresh and cool then. He is no longer fresh and cool. Can the Speaker come back from having a stepford wife, no advisors, and a man dump glitter on his head?
America's Mayor totally blew his opportunity in 2008. He had a short-sighted Florida-only strategy and a myopic 9/11 message. If he jumps in again, can he demonstrate that he learned his lesson and be a viable, national candidate?
Jon Huntsman Jr.
I follow politics pretty closely. I've been known to recognize obscure legislators in shopping mall parking lots and airports. I know he was Utah's governor and President Obama's ambassador to China, but still, I'm asking, "Who?"
Palin has a way of connecting with people that the media can't figure out and doesn't respect, and so I'm skeptical of how she's portrayed and often quite sympathetic toward her. Yet, I'm tired of her. Fatigue doesn't usually set in until a President's second term. How can she overcome Palin Fatigue when she hasn't even been elected yet?
Congressman Paul strikes me as the smartest person in the race. He's principled and charismatic in an old man kind of way. But why can't he attract more than 10% of primary voters?
I don't know much about Governor Pawlenty, but I'd be willing to bet he's the most effective and pragmatic leader of the bunch. Tell me, Governor, why shouldn't I think of you as just another boring white guy in a blue suit?
A Governor of Texas with a track record of reaching across the aisle and getting stuff done. What could go wrong there?
Mitt RomneyThere are many of us who want Mitt Romney to be the second coming of Ronald Reagan, and we can’t figure out what he’s missing. What is he missing?Rick Santorum
Senator Santorum appeals to the social conservatives, the Religious Right. I'm not part of the Religious Right, so why should I pay any attention to him?
There is plenty of time to get these questions answered. But the sooner I learn what I'm seeking about the candidates, the sooner I'll be ready to throw my support behind one of them.
By the way, I didn't make up that Newt-glitter thing: