Yes, Peter Schiff is on a roll. He’s raised a zillion dollars, his potential candidacy has drawn national attention, and now he’s landed on the front page of the state’s largest newspaper. A run seems almost inevitable.
Let’s state the obvious: this is a real long shot, and Schiff’s chances are lousy.
Why? Let’s make a list with bullet points!
Why Peter Schiff is Probably Doomed
- Schiff represents the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. Ron Paul didn’t generate a huge amount of support in the presidential primary here, libertarians are not traditionally strong in Connecticut, so he’d have to gain an awful lot of converts. He is good on TV, so he can sell a message, but it’s difficult to think enough Republicans will bite.
- He’s in a crowded field, and his niche is kind of small. Think about it this way: Rob Simmons is kind of like John McCain, a quirky, experienced member of Congress with a lot of credibility with moderates. Foley’s like Romney, he has business credentials and money, and Caligiuri’s a little like the likeable, more socially conservative Huckabee. Plus, there’s Linda McMahon, who gets all the wrestling fans. That leaves Schiff to be Ron Paul (sans wrestling fans). Not good.
- He, uh, doesn’t like voting. No, this does not make him the cool rebel kid. It makes him seem disengaged from the political process in his state and his country.
- He has economic credentials. Those can’t be disputed (or can they?). But what else does he know? A debate about foreign policy will be… interesting. Foley has actual international experience as a diplomat, and Simmons was a CIA officer and extremely knowledgeable about foreign affairs. Schiff?
- While the conduct of family shouldn’t necessarily be campaign fodder, Schiff’s father is in prison for not paying his taxes. It will, as Schiff admits, be an issue.
- Inexperience. He has never run for any office before. Foley also has this problem.
To be fair, Schiff does have some important things going for him.
A few bright spots
- Money and a network of nationwide support. Ned Lamont had that, too, though the field was obviously less crowded.
- An economic message different from that of every other candidate. He could be in the best position to capitalize on the anger and alienation a lot of conservatives are feeling.
- He’s the ultimate outsider, and his economic predictions make him look like a prophet.
- The media seems to like him. And why not? He’s a member of the tribe.
The second point is the only one that should give Schiff’s potential GOP opponents pause. Schiff is the kind of guy who has the credentials and the message to turn the kind of free-floating anger we see at town halls and at tea party protests into something real. It isn’t that he’s a demagogue, but he could be seen as a sort of anti-government white knight.
That scenario, however, is like catching lightning in a bottle. Doable, but hardly likely.
I expect Schiff will announce soon, and then we’ll start to see what kind of candidate he makes. At this point, however, his is a stock I would pass on.