To read most of the media most of the time — mainstream, alternative, or even the political blogosphere, it is hard to find much mention of Roy Moore. This is somewhat odd, since the announcement of his exploratory committee made national news.
Moore, the disgraced former Chief Judge of the Alabama Supreme Court is very publicly considering running for the GOP nomination for president. On his testing the waters tour, he has spent a lot of time in Iowa. He is now in the early primary state, South Carolina. He says his strategy is to focus on the early states. And while it is hard to know how seriously to take his campaign, I think the best approach is with a certain willing suspension of disbelief.
What news coverage Moore gets tends to be in the places he visits on his testing the waters tour. The Spartanburg Herald-Journal reports, for example:
The possible presidential contender will continue his four-day tour of the Carolinas with stops in Charleston, Cheraw, Aiken, Myrtle Beach and Lincolnton, N.C.
Moore spoke at a Greenville Tea Party rally before the country’s first 2012 presidential debate earlier this month, but did not meet eligibility criteria to participate in the debate.
Campaign spokesman Zachery Michael said Moore is focusing his attention on states with early presidential nominating contests, and has spent a significant amount of time in Iowa.
This old fashioned retail politics (his new media is pretty far behind) probably takes effective advantage of his popularity on the Tea Party circuit. And while he remains a hero to many on the Religious Right for his effort to put a monument to the Ten Commandments on permanent display in the Alabama state court house, we can’t say with any certainty that Moore will ever be much of a factor in the campaign. At the same time, we can’t rule him out either. Consider for example that unlike much of the possible GOP field so far, he has actually won statewide office. Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum, have, while Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann have not.
There are obviously many factors that make for a successful candidate but the evidence of history tells us that that kind of experience is no small thing. Not since Dwight Eisenhower has a nominee of either of the two major parties not previously served as Governor or U.S. Senator. The sole exception was George H.W. Bush who was the two-term incumbent vice president before running for president on his own. (But the former U.S. Representative, diplomat, and CIA Director first lost to former Governor Ronald Reagan for the GOP nomination for president in 1980 before Reagan selected Bush as his running mate.)
Again, this is not to say that Moore has any chance of getting the GOP nomination. Rather, as candidates toy with the nomination before demurring (Barbour, Huckabee, Trump, Daniels), eventually the field will become clear. And when it does, it is likely that Moore will still be in it. If so, Moore’s brand of theocratic politics will be featured on the national stage in ways that would have been unthinkable a few decades ago.
[Crossposted from Talk to Action]
Frederick Clarkson is an independent journalist, author and editor who has written about politics and religion for thirty years. He is the co-founder of the group blog Talk to Action, Senior Fellow at Political Research Associates, and lives in Massachusetts.
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