If a historian 50 years from now was searching for a common thread that wove together some of the 2012 GOP Presidential primary candidates, he or she would find it in the father-son links. The majority of the remaining candidates: Ron Paul; up until today, Jon Huntsman; Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich all have daddy issues that seemingly worked their way into their respective campaigns.
Whether out of vindication, for revenge, for foundation laying, faithfulness or allegiance each are waging a battle that reaches beyond the office sought.
Pundits pontificate that Rand Paul may be considering a 2016 run if his dad does not win the 2012 GOP nomination. Political strategists think that’s a long shot. Certainly, compared to past attempts, this has been Ron Paul’s most successful presidential campaign race to date – coming in 2nd in the Ames, Iowa straw poll (up 3 spots from 2007) and landing a second place spot in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries this year.
However, despite calls from his uber enthusiastic and supportive base to seek a Libertarian or third party candidate run, Ron Paul may not want to antagonize the Republican establishment. An independent run would easily split the Republican base and secure an Obama 2012 win for sure. He may be more interested in keeping peace to make sure his son, whom he adores, is able to run without opposition or under a cloud.
Similar to how Joseph Kennedy personally bankrolled his son John F. Kennedy’s way into the presidency, Jon Huntsman Senior is at the helm of a SuperPAC that was – for whatever it was worth – helping his son’s bid. The elder Huntsman, owner of Huntsman Chemicals, is a self-made millionaire and is said to have funneled millions into his son’s campaign via the Our Destiny PAC.
Huntsman senior was quoted last year saying he was uncertain as to why his son’s campaign had failed to take off. If Huntsman, before dropping out, had made a miraculous turn in South Carolina and Florida in the top three – which he reasoned was very likely, obviously – he could have easily thanked his dad for keeping the bid alive.
Mitt Romney could be said to be vicariously reviving his father’s failed bid for the White House. George Romney, who was born to American parents in Mormon colonies in Mexico, was at one point a front runner, but fell behind Richard Nixon during his 1968 attempt. He served as the governor of Michigan from 1963 to 1969 before serving as HUD Secretary under Nixon. He was never an effective campaigner and with this run, besting his competitors in what is shaping up to be a three peat, Mitt Romney may be well on his way to vindicate his father.
Newt Gingrich always felt a stronger bond to his biological father Newton McPherson, who abandoned Gingrich and his mom when Newt was a very young child. His step dad, Bob Gingrich, a military blue collar guy, and Democrat, would never ever “get” his studious brainy stepson. In a way, it could be possible that Newt, an adopted son of man who was also adopted himself, has had triumphs and occasional missteps which could be subconsciously linked to those male figures in his life. Perhaps his ambition to win the presidency, beyond wanting to implement a vision for America, is also tied to Newt’s interest in proving to his fathers (natural and step) that he could be everything they never could have imagined for Newt and more.