How does one figure out a potential Republican party nominee’s intentions?
Consider John Thune’s recent CPAC speech. CPAC is a major Republican conference, where potential candidates can get a significant amount of media and insider attention. If one is going to make a speech and is seriously considering running for President, one wants to make a good impression, no? Yet, John Thune gave his speech while making heavy reference to his notes, and his gestures made it look like he hadn’t practiced it that much. After watching, I was left considering two possibilities: 1. He isn’t that good at delivering speeches, or 2. He didn’t think it worth his time to prepare it to a level which would be polished (which at that length would probably take hours). I compared this to Mitch Daniels’ speech, which was delivered at a much higher level.
Shortly after, Thune has announced his isn’t running for President (which I first read through Matthew Newman’s post).
Similarly, consider Chris Christie’s recent AEI speech. Many pundits said it was well-delivered and he didn’t refer to notes. I watched it, and was struck by how poorly it was delivered compared to most speeches Christie gives. He was frequently referencing his notes, and some lines he seemed to stumble over. My conclusion is: Christie is being sincere when he says he doesn’t intend to run for President in 2012. If he were intending to do so, he would have practiced the speech much more.
The basic point is: for politicians who are time-pressed, looking at whether they think it worthwhile to spend several hours rehearsing what would be an important speech (or similar sorts of things) can be an indicator of their intentions.