Updated: 6:36 p.m.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell expects that the 2012 Republican presidential nominee will come from the current crop of candidates.
“I think the field is set. The nominee will be one of these people currently running,” the Kentucky Republican told Louisville radio station WGTK today. “I think the president is in serious trouble, which is one of the reasons I guess he has decided to start the campaign 14 months early.”
McConnell’s pronouncement came one day after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) announced that he would not seek the party’s presidential nomination and the same day that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP vice presidential candidate in 2008, told supporters in a letter that she would not seek the nomination either.
“Everybody’s always dreaming of the perfect candidate,” McConnell said.
The Minority Leader has said that his top priority is keeping President Barack Obama from winning a second term. He said today that putting a Republican in the White House is the only way to advance the GOP policy agenda.
McConnell had called WGTK to discuss his attempt the day before to force Senate Democrats to vote on Obama’s jobs proposal, but he also offered his forecast for the 2012 campaign.
“One of these candidates will become the nominee, and the president is going to take on that person pretty hard,” McConnell said. He predicted a negative campaign and said Obama would seek to portray his Republican challenger as a “totally unacceptable slimeball.”
McConnell indicated that he expects the eventual GOP candidate to paint the election as a referendum on the economy.
“If the American people believe the president made it worse, I think he will lose,” he said.