Harper 2012


Josh Barro suggests a solution to the Republican Party’s current predicament.

On @mattyglesias‘s point re: moving successful public sector leaders to bigger markets, why not make Stephen Harper the GOP nominee?

Barro figures Mr. Harper has always wanted to the President of the United States and Yglesias says Mitt Romney would be better off running in Canada. Barro ventures Mr. Harper is “massively more charismatic and relatable” than the current Republican frontrunner.

Setting aside the citizenship requirement, this makes for some fun speculation: How would Stephen Harper do in a race for the Republican presidential nomination? Or, put another way, how would Stephen Harper do in a race for the Republican presidential nomination if he was able to carry his record from Canada? I’m tempted to say he’d do very well. But he would conceivably have to directly engage social conservative issues like abortion and same-sex marriage and that would require a fairly major deviation from how he has handled himself as a party leader here.


Harper 2012

  1. It`s definitely a fun thought experiment.  I have to imagine that Harper would do pretty well in a race for the Republican nomination–better than Romney or Santorum.  Too bad there`s that pesky “natural born citizen” clause in the U.S. Constitution.

    • I can think of a few other politicians I’d like to export as well. Wonder how we’d calculate their worth in terms of GDP and the Canada/US trade balance? We’d probably have to pay them to take Toews and Clement…

    • Harper is bookish nerd and you need charisma to become President. If Harper was exactly same now, but running for Repub nominee, he would be nowhere. 

      Canadian politics is so different than American – completely different personalities needed. American system promote individualistic extroverts who are comfortable with worldwide attention while Canadian pols seem to hide and don’t like scrutiny. 

      A few weeks ago, I think Newt Gingrich was asked in tv debate about his ex’s claim that he wanted open marriage. Could Harper handle that question?

      Harper might have right skills needed to become US pres but he would need to acclimatize himself for decades first, I think.

      • He wouldn’t leave for us?

      • I disagree.  I think there are a few GOP individuals in the US for whom many in the GOP have longed to run in this election cycle.  This group includes Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels and Paul Ryan. 

        Two are very similar to Harper: Daniels and Ryan.  Both are very popular, not due to charisma, but due to their leadership and in Daniel’s case, his success as governor.  Ryan is a leader in Congress. Daniels has little personal charisma in fact.  Both are tough like Harper. Both have policies are worldviews similar to Harper. Both are bookish.  Like Harper, neither are great orators, but at the same time, both are great debaters and both know how to get their message across, and both have no trouble handling the spotlight. Like Harper, both are not known for being part of a political family or dynasty (like Trudeau, Martin, Bush). Like Harper, Ryan’s education was not ivy-league or elite (Daniels is ivy-league). Both Ryan and Daniels are largely self-made, like Harper. Both have been widely called upon to run for the GOP leadership, but both have declined the repeated requests.  In my opinion either one could have won and beaten Obama.

    • Forget the “natural born citizen” problem, this is the REPUBLICAN PRIMARY we’re talking about. The “I’m the candidate to the left of Barack Obama” problem would be the big one!

  2. He will do fairly well, and he does have on sharp mind and quick tongue. He’ll find his way to deviate from the conversation.

  3. Might as well ask how he’d do against Obama? Poorly IMO , although better in the US than here in Canada.

  4. You are mind-bogglingly obtuse if you think Harper would fare well in the 2012 gop primary.

    Think of the main accusations against Mitt Romney one the right – he supported the stimulus, and authored the blueprint for Obamacare. When Harper was in office he launched his own stimulus, and of course, did nothing to reverse Canada’s system of government-run healthcare. This is not to mention that Harper presides over a country that legalized gay marriage, that Harper pulled out of Afghanistan before Obama did, or the fact that Harper has been traveling the world singing the praises of Canada’s highly regulated financial system.  

    Harper has a record that is probably to the left of Obama, much less Romney, whatever his personal beliefs may be. It would be very difficult for him to defend that record against GOP primary voters. Keep in mind that even Rick Perry tanked (well before the “oops” moment) because of perhaps the only two liberal positions he had taken as governor (HPV vaccinations for girls and scholarships for the children of illegal immigrants). 

    And if you think people will give Harper a pass because, after all, he was running Canada not Alabama, why haven’t those folks done the same for the former governor of Massachusetts – America’s most liberal state.

    • “Harper has a record that is probably to the left of Obama …. ”

      I was thinking exactly same thing but I decided to go with my bookish nerd rant instead. Harper has governed as a socialist, he would be ripped apart by tea party types and the social conservatives. 

  5. Harper’s record would definitely be painted as “more liberal than Obama”, and Republican partisans give their leaders a lot less leeway to chase “the ethnic vote” than Canadian conservatives have (which may be their undoing). Any one of Harper’s trips to a mosque or Sikh festival with the thing on his head (don’t know what they call it, not being insensitive, I promise) would be in every attack ad. Theoretical American pol Harper would be a different man entirely, but it would still be tougher. In essence what he has done here is spend the first half of his career building Tea Party (Reform) credibility within his own movement, and then selling it out as needed to win the broader population, keeping his old movement on board because his bona fides as one of them are so well established (a bit like Obama in that regard). Step 1 would be easier in the US. Step 2, much harder.

  6. Yeah, I gotta say, I don’t understand how this is even an interesting thought experiment.

    Take a party that’s having trouble accepting Mitt Romney because he’s too damned liberal, and present them with a candidate who’s arguably to the left of Barack Obama.  Yeah, I wonder how that would turn out?

    I think that I could make a persuasive argument that Stephen Harper isn’t conservative enough to run for the DEMOCRATS in a U.S. Presidential election.

    Then again, there was a time when Stephen Harper seemed to think that Jean Chretien wasn’t a good guy, and today, he models his Prime Ministership after him, so I suppose he’s flexible enough for anything.

  7. Chris Christie is a reasonable facsimile of Stephen Harper.  Christie decided it was impossible to an intelligent conservative to win the Republican nomination.

    I think Jon Huntsman would agree with that sentiment.

    Another somewhat sensible Republican, Mitch Daniels, decided it was impossible also.

    Besides there really is not difference between the Republicans and the Democrats.  They are the same party, both owned by Wall Street and the 1%, and the two parties are basically just cutouts with fake made-up differences to put on the pretense of a democratic election.

    Obama, in the end, was just a third term of Bush.

  8. Mr. Harper is “massively more charismatic and relatable” than the current Republican frontrunner. 


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