I long have preferred ex-governors or former vice-presidents as potential president of the US. Both roles are part of the executive branch of government and are fundamentally different than the legislative branch. My primary concern about Barak Obama was that he had no experience to prepare him to be president.
I know my preference is not the only criteria. Here is how the last ten presidents break out:
- Had been governor Had not been governor
Richard NixonJohn Kennedy
- Richard Nixon
- Jimmy Carter Lyndon Johnson
- Ronald Reagan Gerald Ford
- Bill Clinton George Bush
- George W Bush Barak Obama
(I made an error on Nixon, he ran for governor but lost - thanks to the person that pointed that out to me)
The two most effective presidents were Clinton and Reagan, clearly the worst by any measure was George W Bush. Carter, I still think he was a better president than most people give him credit for and understood what he could do given a hostile congress.
Four of the presidents that had not been governors had been vice-president.
Nixon, he was a crook but actually on the whole governed well. John Kennedy was a decent enough president but honestly did not govern all that well. Johnson knew how to govern as becomes very clear in Robert Caro's four, eventually five, volume epic on Johnson. Ford and Bush 1 were both mediocre at governance.
Barak Obama, I am not sure how to view him yet, it is too soon to decide how to slot him into the historical record. I will say I have been more impressed with him than I expected and completely understand what circumstances are limiting his ability to move his agenda forward. I think much of his weakness comes from not having had any sort of role in the executive branch of government. He has learned and I expect him to be able to govern better in his second term.
I think the evidence shows that you are more likely to get a better quality of government from a former governor. This all relevant because Mitt Romney and Gary Johnson are both ex-governors.
In 2008 I wanted Bill Richardson to be the Democratic nominee but his campaign went nowhere. Bill Richardson was a good Governor of New Mexico and I think would have made for a very good US president.
The 2012 Candidates:
- Barak Obama - Democrat
- Mitt Romney - Republican
- Gary Johnson - Libertarian I am including him because he is polling at 5-8% nationally and at 15% in New Mexico. The party is also on the ballot for certain in 34 states, likely seven more and DC and collecting signatures in eight more. There are two that they will not be on the ballot for - Michigan and Oklahoma. He is not going to win
- 1968 George Wallace 9,901,118 13.5% 46 electoral college votes, the last 3rd party candidate to do so
- 1980 John Anderson 5,719,850 6.19%
- 1992 Ross Perot 19,743,821 18.91%
- 1996 Ross Perot 8,085,294 8.40%
Even though Romney has a nutbar for his running mate, I really am not worried about him governing like a right wing ideologue. You only need to look at how he governed in Massachusetts. He was a decent Governor and understood how to work with the legislative branch. Ultimately the Vice-President rarely has real power.