The Name Game
Many of you know that one of my favorite aspects of the invisible primary is watching political elites and the media engage in the kabuki ritual of mentioning as potential presidential candidates a number of individuals who have no chance of ever winning their party’s nomination. The practice is considered good manners for political elites, and also provides additional journalistic fodder for the media’s instantaneous news cycle. For the 2012 presidential election cycle, it will be Republicans (and the media covering them) who will partake in this time-honored political tradition.
I came across a brilliant example of this in today’s Union Leader, courtesy of veteran New Hampshire political strategist Mike Dennehy. When asked about the presidential potential of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who will be speaking in the Granite State later this month, Dennehy provided this assessment:
Dennehy said Gingrich "should always be considered a potential presidential candidate because of his history as Speaker of the House, his leadership in electing Republicans and his continued involvement in public policy."
I have written previously about why Gingrich has no chance of winning the Republican nomination in 2012, even though we hear his name mentioned with some regularity. Dennehy is a veteran political strategist who likely understands that Gingrich has zero chance of getting his party’s nod, but he is also shrewd enough to know that he cannot say so publicly. I do think, however, that we would agree on the proposition that Gingrich will certainly have an impact on the party’s campaign discourse, even as he inevitably bows out, just as he has done in the past.

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