In remarks captured by the Portland Press Herald, Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage unloaded on the GOP 2012 field Saturday, decrying all the candidates as damaged goods after having battered each other. He said the country “deserves better” than the current crop and called for a brokered convention to pick a dark horse candidate to challenge President Obama.
“The candidates in this primary have beat themselves up so badly it would be nice to have a fresh face that we all could say, ‘Okay.’ The country deserves better than having people stand up and keep criticizing each other,” said LePage, according to the Press Herald.
He told reporters at the National Governors Association meeting that the remaining candidates have all “injured themselves and injured the party” to the point where he’d “love to see a good old-fashioned convention and a dark horse” emerge from it. LePage’s spokesperson later told the Press Herald that the governor would support the eventual nominee for president.
The remarks come as party insiders fret that a GOP primary battle between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum may not end any time soon.
The first-term governor’s comments are a stinging rebuke to what is widely seen as a weak GOP field. They give a prominent establishment face to such conservative frustrations, and augment the hopes of some in the party that a “savior” candidate will emerge as its nominee in a brokered convention this fall.
Most party insiders see that as political suicide, however. The last time the GOP had a brokered convention was 1976, when Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan battled it out, only to lose to Jimmy Carter later that year.
Rep. Paul Ryan (WI), the House Budget chair who has been touted as a potential GOP “savior” candidate, has himself said he believes it’s too late for any other candidates to vie for the presidential nomination.
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.