We're continuing the rundown of BetVega.com's odds for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
We discussed the supposed frontrunners -- Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal -- here.
Now, the supposed longshots:
Tim Pawlenty: 10-1
Of the possible choices to lay money down on, Pawlenty at 10-1 is clearly the best bet. I see he, Romney and -- if he runs -- Mitch Daniels, eventually rising to the top of the heap. To prepare for his run, Pawlenty has (i) announced he won't seek a third term as Minnesota's governor; (ii) shelled out favors (money, appearances) on the campaign trail; (iii) made appearances everywhere from the Daily Show to Fox News, and (iv) most critically, wooed the big-dollar donors that are imperative to a successful presidential run. Pawlenty also will play well in his neighbor to the south, Iowa. He's a wonderful story -- the first person in his family to graduate from college -- and projects the kind of common-sense conservatism that Republicans desperately need to to take down Barack Obama. And unlike his principal rival, Romney, Pawlenty is a heckuva likable guy.
Mark Sanford: 12-1
Charlie Crist: 12-1
Yeah, right. Sanford was a rising star in the Republican Party until a bizarre episode involving an Argentinian mistress torpedoed his career. If Eliot Spitzer can make a comeback, perhaps Sanford can too -- but definitely not in 2012. Crist, likewise, is doing his best to destroy his carefully manicured career in the Republican Party by mounting a third-party challenge to the wildly popular Marco Rubio's Senate campaign. While the Democrat involved, Kendrick Meek, doesn't stand a chance despite Crist and Rubio bludgeoning each other, Crist has managed to turn every conservative in the country against him, including me -- and I'd probably vote for him if I lived in Florida. We explained here why Crist's decision will backfire on him.
Rudy Guiliani: 15-1
After deciding not to challenge Kristen Gillibrand for the New York Senate seat, Rudy's career is probably finished. He ran an abysmal campaign in 2008 and, even if he had competed seriously before Florida, it's not clear voters would have cared much for a guy who, as Joe Biden pointed out, made sure every sentence included "a noun, a verb and 9/11."
Newt Gingrich: 15-1
This is the most intriguing name of the lot. I still haven't decided whether Gingrich -- tossing out terms like "secular socialist" and "Kenyan anti-colonialist" -- is actually running for president or just trying to sell books. The pros? He's probably the smartest man in Washington and is an absolute idea factory. He has serious conservative credentials and formidable intellectual gravitas. The cons? While he was impeaching President Clinton, Gingrich was busy cheating on his second wife. He was thrown out of Washington in disgrace. His enemies list is a mile long -- and it includes a lot of Republicans. His bombastic rhetoric is completely unpresidential. There are a lot of skeletons in this closet, and Newt would be best served to keep the door closed.
David Petraeus: 15-1
Minimal analysis necessary here. With economic issues likely to remain paramount in 2012, a career military man won't have a shot. Petraeus could be an outstanding choice for Secretary of Defense, however.
John McCain: 20-1
As much as we still admire the Senior Senator, he will have no interest in taking a third shot at the presidency at age 75.
Jeb Bush: 20-1
If his last name was "Smith," the popular former governor might be at the head of the 2012 field. Perhaps in 2016, Bush could be a formidable contender, but voters will remain spooked by his surname. It's impossible to overstate how badly George W. Bush damaged the Republican brand, and his brother is paying the price.
Ron Paul: 20-1
The libertarian stalwart will most likely run, make noise and fight to the bitter end. On the one hand, Paul has been a prophet of doom on the growth of government -- criticizing the Bush administration long before it was the hip thing to do -- Iraq, civil liberties and bailouts. On the other, his haphazard answers make him seem erratic, and some of his policy prescriptions -- such as his insistence that America return to the gold standard -- are simply nutty. Despite his strong showing in the CPAC straw poll last year, Paul has neither the resources nor establishment support to make a serious run for the presidency. But he's still good for the party.