Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Schmidt: Romney's the 2012 frontrunner

Hugh Hewitt had a fascinating chat yesterday with former McCain strategist, Steve Schmidt, as the two touched base on Sarah Palin, the general election, and who's likely to emerge as the GOP nominee in 2012.

Re: Sarah Palin, Schmidt doesn't think she was treated unfairly in the Couric and Gibson interviews, but he's also quick to note the media held a bias against her.

HH: .... Let’s start with Governor Palin. Do you think Charles Gibson was fair to her in the first opening interview that she granted?

SS: I do. I think it was a tough interview. I know Charlie Gibson well.... And when you look at the problems that occurred in coverage during the 2008 campaign, I don’t think Charlie Gibson was one of them.

HH: How about Katie Couric and Governor Palin?

SS: Again, in my view, there was nothing that Katie Couric asked in that interview that was unfair to Governor Palin. It was not a good interview from the perspective of the McCain campaign, but there were no questions that were asked that were gotcha questions or where unfair questions. It was a devastating interview for Governor Palin when you look back on it.

I think as I said the other day, I think it was the most consequential interview from a negative perspective that a candidate for national office has gone through, not since Roger Mudd interviewed Ten Kennedy in the late 1970s. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think that Governor Palin was treated fairly. She was treated unfairly by a lot of the media during the course of the campaign.

In fact, in places Schmidt is very quick to praise Palin, calling her convention speech "one of the great convention speeches of the last generation by a candidate of either party".

As far as crying over spilled milk, he sheds a few tears of remorse, only to conclude that Palin was, in the end, the right decision (possibly, because he was influential behind it?)

.... no, I don’t regret it, and I still believe electorally, her pick helped the Senator in the election. And I think that when you look at all the things that we had stacked up against us, I believe it was the right pick to make, politically, still.

Now onto the future -- who's going to be the Republican nominee in 2012?

HH: Let me ask you just as a professional, not your hope for, not your wishes and dreams, who would you have to predict right now is going to be the Republican nominee in 2012?

SS: If I had to bet money on it, if I had to bet money on it today, you’d have to say that the people that I think look very good, very strong right now are Governor Romney, Governor Huntsman. I think Newt Gingrich, should he run, is going to be a very formidable, very formidable candidate..... in that instance, in this instance, it would be Governor Romney. I thought he was a very scary opponent looking from the other side of the table in that he was almost like a learning organism at the end. He just kept getting better week by week by week, and kept becoming stronger.... I think Mitt Romney is a candidate, is a far stronger candidate, prospectively, for the ’12 race because of his experience in ’08 than he was heading into the ’08 race.

Palin's absence from his 2012 list is duly noted. Read the full transcript.