Absent Republicans bring race to life

Withdrawals by Palin and Christie give frontrunners new problems

The decisions by Sarah Palin and Chris Christie to sit out the 2012 presidential race left Republicans yesterday mulling whether to support either of the frontrunners, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, or to switch their votes to the businessman and commentator Herman Cain.

A CBS poll this week confirmed Mr Cain was in a tie for first place with Mr Romney, ahead of Mr Perry, the Texas governor, whose campaign has stumbled. They were followed by the former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the Kentucky Congressman Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann, of the Tea Party, who is backed by only 4 per cent of Republicans. The rise of Mr Cain is the latest sign of the restless mood of a party still unable to take Mr Romney to its heart and worried that Mr Perry may not be prepared for the rigours of the campaign trail, its supporters say.

"Cain basically is the 'none-of-the-above' candidate," one party strategist said. The large proportion of those unstill decided – 18 percent, according to the CBS poll – makes a similar point.

Nowhere is that uncertainty greater than among ultra-conservative Tea Party activists, who rallied behind Ms Bachmann, then Mr Perry, and who would probably have flocked to Ms Palin had she taken the plunge.

Now they are taking a closer look at Mr Cain.

"He's a straight talker, with business experience, and has a lot of momentum and is one to watch," said Amy Kremer, a Tea Party spokeswoman. But she stressed that the field was very volatile and said that the party was "not endorsing any candidate at this point".

However, Mr Perry and Mr Romney remain the candidates with the most money, best support networks and widest national reach.

After his recent troubles, stoked by controversy over his stand on immigration and a dismal showing in the most recent debate between candidates, Mr Perry yesterday received a much-needed boost, with figures emerging that showed he had raised $17m of funds in the third quarter, outstripping his rivals. Mr Romney was expected to collect at most $13m over the same period.

If Mr Perry stands to benefit from the fact that Ms Palin has not thrown her hat into the ring, the absence of Mr Christie, the New Jersey governor, from the race should help Mr Romney.

The latter now has no obvious rival for the favours of the traditional Republican east coast establishment, a reduced, but still important, constituency within the party. As pressure on Mr Christie to run grew last month, many top Republican donors, especially those on Wall Street, refused to commit themselves. But with the New Jersey governor definitely out of the race, they are expected to back Mr Romney, boosting his efforts to raise campaign funds.

But time is running short. Following Florida's decision to move up its primary to January 31, the four states that always go first – Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada –are also expected to move their votes forward. The Iowa caucuses that kick off the primaries could be held as early as 2 January, less than three months away, or even in late December.

That also puts a premium on organisation, which should favour Mr Romney as he has been preparing for 2012 from the moment he lost the 2008 nomination battle to John McCain.

Palin's progress

11 September, 2010 "Evidently, I'm supposed to make a big announcement here, Glenn and I together, make some big announcement, maybe about the 2012 election or something." Addressing a rally with conservative firebrand Glenn Beck

12 January, 2011 "Within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible." Palin responds in a damaging row over whether confrontational politics contributed to the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

3 September, 2011 "Polls? Nah... They're for strippers and cross-country skiers," she said as the latest surveys showed her lagging well behind the leading candidates in the race for the Republican nomination

5 October, 2011 "As always, my family comes first and obviously Todd and I put great consideration into family life before making this decision. When we serve, we devote ourselves to god, family and country. My decision maintains this order."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor