Guy Benson will be filling in for me this week as I vacation. I regret not being there to review Tim Pawlenty’s extraordinary career to date and to state that the race is much poorer without him. The former Minnesota governor is one of the country’s genuine good guys and committed public servants, and the Republican nominee ought to call on him during the campaign and as a senior appointee in the new Administration.
UPDATE: Politico’s first installment in the Bachmann-Perry battle foreshadows what will be one of the most interesting political struggles in years as they both compete for the affection of Iowa’s evangelicals. I have watched both up close on multiple occasions, and each has formidable campaign skills. Expect Bachmann to talk Thatcher and Perry to talk Texas.
In the three-way competition that the New York Times predicts, the endorsement of key national security figures will matter greatly. John Bolton must be getting a lot of phone calls from Team Romney as well as the Bachmann and Perry camps.
Very few figures will matter as much in the early GOP primaries for a certain key subset of Republican primary voters. Similarly, if Peter Pace or other senior military figures declare for one of the three, the impact will be disproportionately important in this particular showdown. I can’t imagine former Vice President Cheney or Secretary of State Rice declaring a preference in the primaries, but obviously if they did it would carry great weight as well among the defense-minded GOP voter.
In 1998 I wrote a piece on the country’s “six party system” for the Weekly Standard. Three of those parties –the party of faith, the party of wealth or growth and the party of national security– existed then and continue to exist today within the GOP. The Perry-Bachmann battle in Iowa is for the allegiance of the “party of faith,” while Romney is campaigning with the party of growth as his key audience. The GOP voters who remain most concerned about national security and foreign policy dominated the party through the first ten years of the war, but less so in this political season, thus far. In a close fought primary, however, their impact will be huge.