Although it would take a Richard Nixon like resurrection to make it happen, it would be wise not to count out Rants in this race. That’s because Rants has something Nixon had as well when he brought his political career back from the doldrums in the 1960s: pure, unadulterated political ambition.
That kind of ambition doesn’t serve one well in a leadership position, and the fact the Republicans lost seats in every election he was in leadership for is evidence of that in Rants’ case. However, as a candidate there are few characteristics more important.
That ambition makes you make that extra campaign stop your opponents view as not worth their time, make those extra fundraising phone calls in the 11th hour your opponents don’t want to make, and leads you to take advantage of all the free media you can get your hands on.
As a candidate Rants can do what he does best: become an amoeba. Amoebas can absorb and change based on the surroundings that are best for their viability. You can’t pin them down, and that allows voters to project what they want to see upon a candidate as opposed to what’s actually there. For instance, Rants took the parliamentary lead on forcing a marriage amendment vote in the statehouse this session, and that bold move suddenly made a lot of the same Christian conservatives who used to tell me how much they loathed him for neglecting their issues suddenly love him again.
He’s also telling folks I know about this spiritual awakening he supposedly experienced while on a recent trip to Israel. Since it’s coming from Rants, you’re not sure if it’s sincere or not, and of course it would be great if the man who makes Machiavelli proud did actually realize he has a spiritual side after all these years. But Rants understands that’s the kind of language a lot of soft-headed evangelicals want to hear, so expect to hear more of it whether it is true or not.
Still, can you imagine the Democratic campaign against Rants? The idea the Republicans would nominate someone for governor that the party just removed from nearly a decade of party leadership is something you can bet Lt. Governor Chet Culver would get a lot of mileage out of.
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