Potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates are tiptoeing around these days and Utah State University Political Science Professor Mike Lyons says that is because President Obama has become a much stronger contender for re-election over the last six months. On KVNU’s Crosstalk show Tuesday, Lyons said once again Mitt Romney seems to be the strongest candidate and last week Romney announced that he has been going without a necktie. Lyons says just like in 2007, Romney is trying to be something he is not. “Rather than a moderate businessman with establishment credentials, he tried to depict himself as a social-issue conservative,” Lyons says. “It came across as less than genuine and hurt him, I think, much more than his religious beliefs as a candidate in 2007-2008. “Shedding the tie? No. This is again Mitt Romney trying to be a populist, trying to be almost a male Sarah Palin.” Lyons says Sarah Palin has not made up her mind about running for president. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is on the verge of declaring candidacy. How about Donald Trump? Lyons says that is about like Warren Beatty running as a Democrat. Lyons says there are highly-qualified people considering a run: Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and former Mississippi Governor Haley Barber, for example. The Tea Party movement still has a major influence on the Republican party but Lyons expects that influence to wane. He says it sprung up in response to a very severe depression as people feared what the bad economy would do to their lives. Lyons says he feels if the economy improves, interest in the Tea Party will wane and, in fact, he does not expect it will have much influence on the 2012 election. “Certainly the Tea Party was a mixed blessing for the Republicans,” Lyons explains. “Tea Party turnout helped many Republicans capture many seats away from Democrats. “But, Tea Party participation in Republican primaries left the party with ultra-conservative and unelectable candidates in key races, such as the one in Delaware, such as the one in Nevada.” Lyons says Tea Party candidates certainly won some elections in 2010. But he says in other elections Democrats won where a more moderate Republican candidate would have probably come out ahead.
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