It’s a safe bet U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, the five-term Republican congressman from Michigan, won’t win his bid for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. But the lanky, awkward policy wonk with a penchant for guitar playing and chain smoking is all in, declaring the race for the White House is his number one priority — even above winning reelection to Congress at home.
Few voters know him, likely because he’s been excluded from every debate thus far since he isn’t tracking consistently in national political polls — though he did tie with former Utah governor Jon Huntsman and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum in the latest Quinnipiac poll. McCotter is pretty perturbed about being left out, and rightfully so, since Huntsman and Santorum have participated in nearly all the debates thus far. (Two other GOP candidates have been similarly dismissed.) But consistent polling is evidence of support, and even his constituents don’t think he has what it takes to be Commander in Chief. In Michigan, the congressman’s home state, he garnered just five percent of support from likely Republican voters. (Michigan native turned Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney took the lion’s share.) Public Policy Polling stingingly wrote in its assessment that “rarely has a White House contender fared as poorly as Michigan’s Thad McCotter in his nascent, quixotic bid for the GOP nomination.” If there is good news, McCotter did fare better with Michigan voters than former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, who received only four percent support. But more bad news: Pawlenty has already dropped out of the race.
To make matters worse, McCotter’s hometown newspaper is pretty clear that he should just stay home and forget about becoming president. Shortly after he announced his candidacy, The Oakland Press opined in an editorial that the thought of McCotter being president is “a bit scary.”
“The representative comes off as cold, arrogant and egotistical. These are not qualities we’d like to see in a president. In fact, he wouldn’t get too far in private industry as a company chief executive officer. . . . The Oakland Press likes to support native sons, but this is one sibling we think should just stay home here in Michigan and work on his people skills.”
While personality isn’t everything, it is increasingly important. Looking and sounding presidential are cornerstones in assessing whether a candidate is “electable” — an often derisively-used term coined by presidential horse-race watchers and pundits to dismiss longshot candidates. Suffice it to say, McCotter lacks a certain presidential air.
By and large, he’s a mainstream Republican with a boilerplate GOP platform. He favors smaller government and less federal spending, the repeal of Obamacare, passing a balanced budget amendment, and overhauling the tax code to make it simpler for taxpayers. He’s strong on national defense, including maintaining America’s commitment to stabilizing the Middle East and supporting democratic reform efforts. Interestingly, he too calls Social Security a “Ponzi scheme” — it’s not clear whether McCotter or Texas governor Rick Perry used that phraseology first — but he wants to fix it, and he’ll unveil his plan on Monday, Sept. 12. In an unsurprising concession to his Detroit, Michigan community that runs contrary to his GOP opponents, McCotter supported the auto bailout and is relatively friendly to labor and less so to free trade.
But none of that really matters when one considers his chances for winning the 2012 GOP nomination. McCotter’s platform isn’t that unique, and his personal negatives are many. He’ll certainly have a hard time convincing voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina that he’s the man for the job if he can’t even convince those who elected him in the first place to support his run for the White House. Perhaps he should skip the primaries and caucuses and take his band, the “Second Amendments,” on tour instead.