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John Phillips: Post-debate, which GOP candidates are really auditioning for talk shows?

June 14, 2011 |  6:16 am

GOP New Hampshire Debate 6-13-11

Mt. Rushmore or Cable News...Where Will These Heads End Up Next?

If you're a political junkie like I am, this is a fantastic time of year.  Even though we're 17 months away from the 2012 presidential election, the Republican primary campaign is already as hot and heavy as a late-night Facebook conversation with a Vegas blackjack dealer. 

It seems like every time you pick up a newspaper there's a new Republican candidate running for president. (They're on page 3, behind the pictures of Rep. Anthony Weiner's naked body.) Rep. Michele Bachmann made her announcement during Monday's GOP debate in New Hampshire.

Republicans from the North. Republicans from the South. Republicans from here, there and everywhere are ready to rumble.

And then there's the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., and heavy favorite for reelection, President Obama. 

As ripe for the picking as many in the GOP think he is, let's not forget the White House isn't....

...some flop-house on Hollywood Boulevard with an inflatable noodle outside, where $40 moves you in and the sheriff moves you out...people sent to the Oval Office generally kick off their shoes, socks and interns' undergarments and stay a while. More often than not, we reelect our presidents. Three of the last four got two terms each.

However, despite all of the excitement and fervor for the candidates, we can only have one winner. 

To win an election for the presidency it takes a ton of dough, dedication, name identification and a wee bit of luck. That being said, the number of candidates who actually have a chance can be counted on one of Dick Morris' hookers' feet.

That means we'll end up with some losers. Many, many, many losers. Lots of tears. Probably a few scandals. Plenty of debt.  And most importantly, a whole new crop of cable TV talking heads.

Which leads me to my theory: Many of these candidates are smart people who realize that they have no chance to win -– but they're running so they can raise their profile, sell books and end up as TV pundits. 

Of the 2004 and 2008 unsuccessful candidates for president and VP: General Wesley Clark, the Rev. Al Sharpton and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean landed gigs with MSNBC;  Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and former Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh ended up on the Fox News Channel; and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich was picked up by TLC as a celebrity judge on 'Toddlers and Tiaras.' 

OK maybe that last one hasn't happened....yet.

Needless to say, we'll end up with fresh faces on the boob tube this election cycle...but who will make the cut?  Here are the odds:

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty

As a two-term governor of a key Midwestern purple state, T-Paw has a strong possibility of connecting with Middle America. Conversely he also possesses the unique ability of turning a sex tape into a yawner. 

It's too bad that Michael Jackson didn't live to see 2011....he wouldn't need propofol to get to sleep, just the Pawlenty announcement speech. 

Chances: As the most boring candidate in the race....he'd be perfect for the CBS Early Show! 

Businessman Herman Cain

Herman Cain is an impressive man with a commanding voice. Almost unanimously, the pundit class declared the former Godfather Pizza CEO and radio talk show host as the winner of the first GOP debate.  The downside of winning that debate is that only four people saw it...and that's counting Wolf Blitzer's beard as a separate person. 

But it hasn't all been smooth sailing for Cain...while appearing on "Fox News Sunday" he seemed to be confused when Chris Wallace asked what he thought about the Palestinian “right of return” to Israeli territory.  

If memory serves me right, he was able to clarify his position on the “right of return” immediately after the show: Anyone should be able to send a pizza back if it takes more than 30 minutes to get there.

By the way, that's the former radio talk show host speaking, not the former pizza CEO.

Chances: Good. Very good.  In fact, I'm already setting my TiVO on the Fox News.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich

This has been a rough couple of months for the former speaker. 

First, Newt gets into a cat fight with Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan over his entitlement reform package...after deriding it as right-wing social engineering  on one Sunday show. Almost immediately after he said it, Gingrich had to back-pedal, apologize and do everything short of offering to go to rehab.

Then, his campaign essentially fired him as a candidate – with his top staff resigning all at once. This is particularly damaging because it opens up the door for President Obama to blame the bad unemployment numbers on Republicans: 40% of the job losses in June came from Newt's campaign.

Chances: With this kind of toxic luck, he's sure to end up on the cast of "Saturday Night Live."

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann

Without a doubt, the Iowa native is the funnest candidate to watch on TV -– mainly because she lacks any sort of filter. You never know what she's going to say next....the only thing you do know, is that she is completely sincere and believes what she says 100%.  She's the white Tracy Morgan. 

The bad news for Michele is that the public really doesn't want politicians to tell them the truth if they disagree with them. If their position is popular, we want the truth. If it's not, we want an epic tale of twitter hacking. That's how we roll.

Chances: As often as Bachmann's been discussed on "Hardball," she should be a paid employee of MSNBC right now.

Retired California political consultant Fred Karger

As soon as I figure out who he is, you'll be the first to know.

Chances: There's only one place for Mr. Karger to maintain his anonymity: CNN's primetime line up.

Also by John Phillips:

For Republicans in '12, it's Sarah Palin or another big, fat L

Why Hillary Clinton must run in 2012

The lessons of a political visit to Washington

John Phillips at CPAC and other infectious diseases

-- John Phillips

John PhillipsStrangely enough, a man named John Phillips hosts “The John Phillips Show” on Talk Radio 790 KABC in Los Angeles, which can be heard weeknights from 6 to 10 p.m. Pacific.  Outside Southern California, his show is available live online at KABC.com  Also follow Phillips on Twitter  @JohnnyDontLike

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Photo: Emmanuel Dunand / AFP / Getty Images

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