I can’t seem to turn on the television these days without hearing some pundit, “expert,” former adviser to whomever, or analyst insist that it’s too late for potential 2012ers to enter the presidential race—or that they’re harming the party with their indecision.
You know what’s harming the party? Pundits who have elected themselves 2012 timetable managers and think it’s their job to tell potential candidates to fish or cut bait. Who’s to say that today must be the day to announce? Or tomorrow? Or any day short of the actual filing deadline?
I want the GOP primary packed. I want all candidates who are in it to win it making their case to the nation, laying out specific policy initiatives, holding others accountable for their records, highlighting the abomination that is our President’s record, and fighting the good fight for a spot to defeat Barack Obama in 2012. However, I haven’t put any timing deadlines on them. And I don’t plan to.
As much as I would love to think that primary debates offer a real chance to get to know candidates, the truth is that they typically don’t. Sure, we get to see a bit of the candidates’ debate skills and how they choose to defend—or not defend—aspects of their records. But what we hear for the most part—with some minor exceptions—are platitudes and ambiguity, intermixed with some bickering here and there.
If Barack Obama’s “spread the wealth around” 2008 encounter taught us anything, it is that we don’t discover the essence of candidates via staged debates, campaign videos, or rehearsed speeches. We discover it through honest, spontaneous moments at events, town halls, and the like.
So what have 2012ers arriving late to the scene actually missed thus far? Not much.
There will be plenty of debates for them to partake in. There will be plenty of time for them to acquaint voters with who they are, what they have accomplished, and what their vision for the country entails. There will be plenty of time for voters to assess their competence or lack thereof. And there will be plenty of time for us to decide who we would like to donate to and potentially volunteer for.
In short, there will be plenty of time for everything.
In fact, one could argue that it is smart for candidates to sit on the sidelines and observe the potential competition for awhile, assessing their strengths and weaknesses while digging deep within themselves to discover if their hearts are really in it and they are up for the challenge.
Ronald Reagan announced his candidacy on November 13, 1979. No harm, no foul, folks.
Potential 2012ers, speak up when it is the right time for you to do so. I, for one, hope as many of you hit the stage as possible. But I want you to do it on your timeline, not mine.