Republicans pick 2010 contender

2010-04-08 18:24

Washington – Who will rise from the Republican Party to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012? The first blush of an answer could come this weekend in New Orleans.

As many as 3 000 party activists are to attend the four-day Southern Republican Leadership Conference, the most prominent gathering of Republicans outside of their presidential nominating conventions.

Several potential presidential wannabes will address the conference, testing themes and messages as Republicans gird for congressional elections this November and ponder who should represent them in 2012.

The headliner is Sarah Palin, the 2008 vice presidential nominee and former governor of Alaska, who is hugely popular among the party's conservative base.

She is to address the gathering on Friday with a speech criticising Obama's offshore oil drilling plans, unveiled last week, as insufficient to add significantly to US fuel supplies.

"Instead of 'drill, baby, drill,' the more you look into this the more you realise it's 'stall, baby, stall,'" she said last week.

The Republican conference presents the party faithful an opportunity to search for the best ways to attract voters, taking advantage of Americans' concerns about the weak US economy and the healthcare overhaul that Obama's Democrats pushed through Congress.

Contrast with Democrats

"You have a lot of folks right now who want to speak to a lot of the party faithful about how we best go about drawing a contrast with the Obama administration and Democrats and how we best articulate those contrasts," said Republican strategist Kevin Madden, an adviser to Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor seriously considering a 2012 presidential run.

Also speaking are other leading Republican lights, and possible candidates, such as former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.

Not attending are Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who is expected to address the group by video, and Romney, who lost the Republican nomination to John McCain in 2008. Both had scheduling conflicts.

Attendees will conduct a straw poll of who they like in 2012. Its significance is uncertain, since then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist won the poll in 2006. His presidential campaign never got off the ground.

While Republicans are optimistic about making inroads into the Democrats' strong majorities in the House and Senate this November, they have no clue as to which candidate they should rally behind to face Obama in two years.

"It's completely unclear who the Republican Party presidential nominee is going to be," said Merle Black, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta. "There is no candidate right now who unites all the Republicans."

Grass-roots activists

Katon Dawson, former chair of the Republican Party in South Carolina, said the New Orleans conference would provide grass-roots activists an early look at possible candidates to determine who they might want to work for in 2012.

"You've got the leadership, elected officials, some potential presidential candidates. It's still early yet to put their names in the public arena, but it's not too early to put their names in the private arena," he said.

The New Orleans conference of party faithful comes as Republicans face good and bad news.

Republicans are poised for victories in the November congressional elections in which all 435 House seats and more than a third of the Senate's 100 seats are up for grabs.

It is the most optimistic time in years for Republicans after losses in 2006 and 2008, but the party has been grappling with a distraction surrounding Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele, who will address the conference on Saturday.

Steele is facing heavy criticism from within the party for spending the party's money too freely, a reputation he is trying to reverse after a party organiser billed the RNC for $2 000 spent at a sex-themed nightclub in Los Angeles.

Republican leaders have also not figured out how to ensure the backing of activists from the Tea Party and persuade the largely conservative movement not to form a third political party.

"I am sure that the Democrats and the White House have worn out three sets of kneepads down on their knees praying for ... the Tea Party to actually become a third party, because if you can have a third party that's a conservative party, that's the Democrats' dream, to split the conservative vote," Barbour told CNN.

Read more on:    john mccain  |  barack obama  |  sarah palin  |  us

Read News24’s Comments Policy


Inside News24


Land reform process lawful - Zuma

The land reform process is being done according to the law and the Constitution, says President Jacob Zuma.


Latest elections multimedia

11 Julius Malema quotes you'll never forget
DA won't get 30% - Zille
The EFF's ad was banned, see why
Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
  • Tuesday Century City - 05:58 AM
    Road name: Ratanga Road Southbound
    ROADWORKS - lane closure between Ocean Spirit Avenue and Century Boulevard (until mid April)
  • Tuesday Mitchells Plain - 05:58 AM
    Road name: Spine Road
    ROAD CLOSED between Weltevreden Drive and Seafarer Drive due to roadworks (until mid April)
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get 50% off selected books!

Buy 2 books and get 50% off the second book. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mother’s Day special offers!

Spoil mom with these awesome specials that will warm her heart. Shop now!

Twisp – the smoking alternative

Buy any 2 refills for R250 and save R149. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Mother’s Day specials on appliances

Browse our range of Mother’s Day appliances to spoil and pamper mom. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Torch 9810

The BlackBerry Torch 9810 gives you the powerful combination of...

From R2815.00

I'm shopping for:


You may be more sensitive today and can be influenced easily by the energies around you. Try not to be swayed too much by more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.