The White Knights

March 1st, 2012 - The Editor

The American people have gotten used to the idea of having either Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum square off against Barack Obama in November, but what if something unusual happened at the Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay?

With some faith fading amongst Republicans as to whether any of their candidates stand a chance against Obama, the idea of seeing a brokered convention or an alternate candidate is starting to seem like a welcome idea.

A brokered convention hasn't happened in decades. It happens when no standing candidate wins the required majority of delegates to secure the nomination. Those delegates must then choose one candidate in a series of elimination ballots. Sometimes these ballots will contain last-minute candidates as alternatives – candidates with no delegates and that never spent a single penny trying to win them. This is what has made the idea of a brokered 2012 convention not only appealing, but appalling to some Republicans. A Canadian-style brokered convention often signifies a lack of unity within a political party. Some voters find it troubling that a candidate can step in and win the nomination from a field that has spent millions of dollars campaigning for over six months. Others find it hopeful that a fresh, powerful candidate could serve as an alternative to what has become a lackluster field of candidates.

A last-minute candidate is often someone popular. They are called a “white knight” and they must willfully put their name on the ballot at the convention. If no white knights step forward, it is guaranteed that one of the field will win the nomination.

Names of potential white knight candidates have been circulating amongst the Republican establishment for weeks. Often white knights are tapped and encouraged by other Republican heavy weights to put their names on the ballot and offer themselves up for the presidency. Former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, has admitted that he has been inundated with calls to offer himself up.

The fact that others, including New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, have also been the target of calls to step in, suggests that the Republican establishment is riddled with anxieties and doubts about their abilities to dethrone Barack Obama.

The most feared and potentially fatal white knight candidate for the Republicans, and one who has suggested that she would offer herself up if needed, is Sarah Palin. The Tea Party favorite has made it clear on several occasions that she would be happy to do whatever her party needs.

Other potential candidates, but ones who have made their lack of interest very clear, include Marco Rubio, Mitch Daniels, and Paul Ryan.

Although brokered conventions have become rarities in the 21st Century, they were the norm for the Democrats up until 1952. The most popular and well-known candidate to win a brokered convention was Franklin D. Roosevelt.

However unlikely it is to see a Republican white knight take the fight to Obama's door, the possibilities still remain. Without a white knight, the likelihood of Mitt Romney becoming Obama's nemesis is the highest. A Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, or Newt Gingrich win would spell disaster for the Republicans and probably guarantee a second Obama term. Some Republicans feel that their chances may not be any better with Romney as their nominee.