Ron Paul, Herman Cain et al: Why are so many GOP candidates running?

After Mitt Romney and RIck Perry, the polls indicate that few of the other GOP 2012 presidential candidates are drawing much support. DCDecoder looks at what motivates Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Buddy Roemer, and the rest to run.

Scott Audette /Reuters
GOP Debaters: Rep. Ron Paul, (R) of Texas, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov.Mitt Romney, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) of Minn., and businessman Herman Cain before the Republican Party of Florida presidential candidates debate in September 2011.

POLITICO’s Reid Epstein and Ericka Bolstad of McClatchy put together very similar stories in recent days asking a simple question: What the heck are all of these no-shot presidential contenders doing in the GOP field?

Before the sparks fly, Decoder sympathizes - sort of - with Ron Paul supporters who are melting down right now at the suggestion that Paul belongs in this group. Yes, he polls above everyone else in the POLITICO photo montage shown above. And we would not put him remotely in the same category as, say, Buddy Roemer (anyone heard of him? We think not). But when it comes to Paul’s actual chances of winning the nomination… C’mon. It’s not going to happen.

Candidate by candidate, here is the DCDecoder take on why GOP presidential hopefuls – not named Rick Perry or Mitt Romney – are still hanging in there.

Ron Paul:

If you don’t think Paul is in it to win it, then he might be engaged to further the libertarian cause for his son, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (R). Paul’s “pretty motivated to win now,” Paul’s New Hampshire campaign chairman, state Sen. Jim Forsythe, told POLITICO. “But I know a lot of people in the movement are looking at Rand Paul further down the road.”

Gary Johnson:

Beat Ron/Rand Paul to the punch as the libertarian movement’s next standard bearer. Johnson’s campaign manager told POLITICO: “Ron Paul is 76 years old, this is wearing him out. A lot of people will see that Ron is a fantastic prophet, and he’ll need an Aaron at some point. I think that’s the way it’s going to go.”

Herman Cain:

Elevate himself to “party elder” status. Cain, who has spent 0 percent of his life up to this point as a politician, could ensconce himself as a thought leader and part of the public face of a segment of the Republican party. (Also, he’s selling a book).

Rick Santorum:

Rebuild brand Rick. Santorum, smarting after being absolutely dismantled in his third bid for the US Senate, has improved his public image by serious debate performances and his decent fourth-place finish in the Iowa straw poll. As the chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican party noted, Rick has seven kids and needs a job: he “is exposing himself to a lot of different people, and a lot of different people will want him to work for them.”

Buddy Roemer:

Get national attention for two issues that drive Buddy Roemer bonkers: big money campaign contributions and America’s trade policy with China.

Newt Gingrich:

A combination of Santorum and Roemer. Gingrich’s debate appearances let him show off his broad intellectual approach and help shape the GOP’s discussion of various issues. He may also be hanging in there to gain distance from his early gaffes, including his massive credit line at luxury jeweler Tiffany’s, his vacation to Greece, staff defections, and his knock on Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R) budget plan. Brand Newt needs some time to rebound.
We would also add two other candidates - that escaped mention in these articles - to the list:

Jon Huntsman:

Playing for 2016. Huntsman is hoping his introduction to a national audience this year puts him in a better position to run in 2016 (if the GOP doesn’t win this year’s election, of course). At that point, Romney would likely be off the national scene and Huntsman would be a significant player in New Hampshire, where a recent poll put him in third place with 10 percent support.

Michele Bachmann:

Cement her status as a leader of the most conservative wing of the GOP and tea party. Bachmann has consistently portrayed herself as a “fighter” in the debates, recently arguing that conservatives should not “settle” for a candidate who doesn’t represent their views well. While her momentum has died after winning the Iowa straw poll, Bachmann could solidify her role as Queen of the Tea Party. (Also, she’s selling a book).

Want more?
Check out RealClearPoliticsexcellent site for tracking the latest in polling data to see how the candidates stack up in the eyes of the public.

Like your politics unscrambled? Go to

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.