Forget Donald Trump, Here Are the GOP's 2012 Dream Candidates

Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, and Chris Christie make the list of unofficial GOP contenders.

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This week’s CNN poll shows Donald Trump tied for the lead among the GOP 2012 presidential contenders, along with Mike Huckabee. Trump and Huckabee came in at 19 percent, Sarah Palin at 12 percent, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich tied at 11 percent, followed by Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul in single digits. This poll says to  me that many Republicans are still looking around, waiting for Superman to arrive.

Here are the names of folks on my unofficial Republican dream team--not scientifically compiled, just me picking up names around town at cocktail parties and charity dinners. Many of them have said they’re not interested in running, and some have never held elective office--but heck, a girl can dream ...

Paul Ryan--I can’t tell you how often his name comes up among wistful voters who would love it if the fiscal conservative from Wisconsin would run. He’s the perfect anti-Obama candidate. My friends who loved Jack Kemp adore Paul Ryan. But the feeling is that the work he’s doing now as House Budget Chairman is far more important than anything he’d do as president. Deep down, we all know that the country can’t really afford to let him quit his day job right now. But maybe by 2016 ...

David Petraeus--He’d be the ultimate foreign policy heavyweight who could win independent voters. His name is being floated as a possible CIA director, and that’s what started all the buzz. Son of immigrants, strong on defense, and can give a clear-eyed view of where we should go in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Another plus: he’s a resident of New Hampshire. [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP candidates.]

Jeb Bush--Strong on education, has a vast network of donors and supporters, would carry Florida. Plus he’s available as a former governor who hasn’t made clear what he’s going to do next. Downside: Bush fatigue among voters. 

Chris Christie--A straight-talker like Donald Trump, only without the weird hair and birther obsession. The popular governor of New Jersey has cut spending, blocked tax increases, and runs a relatively liberal state as a unapologetic fiscal conservative.

Condi Rice--The first African-American female Secretary of State and National Security Adviser, now back at Stanford University. Although she’s never run for office, she’d be a great addition to the GOP ticket for her foreign policy experience. She’s got a moving life story, growing up in Birmingham, Alabama during the civil rights era. Downside: Bush fatigue again.

Bob McDonnell--The current governor of Virginia who ran on the slogan “Bob’s For Jobs.”. Has stayed away from social issues, and could win a lot of independent voters with his common-sense talk on holding the line on taxes. He’s got a great record: Virginia will have its second year of budget surpluses since he was elected in 2009.

Marco Rubio--The freshman senator from Florida is the son of immigrants and is known for his stands on immigration and deficit reduction.  Won the Senate race decisively in a three-way race and, like Jeb Bush, would carry Florida.  Downside: just vowed on Andrea Mitchell’s show yesterday not to run.  But hope springs eternal. [See a slide show of the 11 cities with the most Hispanics.]

Jeff Immelt--The CEO of General Electric and a lifelong Republican, now head of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Made headlines recently when it came out that GE did not pay any corporate taxes last year. Plus side: he knows how to hire good accountants.

The crazy list of people from outside of politics we’re not sure are Republicans: Astronaut Mark Kelly (husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords could be the Republican answer to John Glenn, if in fact he’s a Republican), American Idol Judge Steven Tyler (higher name recognition than all of Congress combined), first baseman Albert Pujols (sports hero, role model, and superstar player for the St. Louis Cardinals, could carry the entire Midwest). After all, a girl can dream, right?

  • Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the GOP 2012 candidates.
  • Read more about the 2012 presidential race.
  • See photos of the Obamas behind the scenes.