Politics put on restaurateurs’ menu by Laura Ingraham

Opening one of the restaurant industry’s largest conventions, commentator Laura Ingraham asked attendees of the packed Restaurant Leadership Conference to raise a hand if they were inspired by any of potential contenders for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. A hush filled the room and not a hand was raised.

Ingraham, a conservative radio host and television personality, agreed with the gathered restaurant industry leaders, saying she’s disappointed in the Republican Party, too.

“Nobody is offering inspiring alternatives to the current administration…nothing to make Americans stand up and cheer,” said Ingraham. She then proceeded to run through the list of potential candidates, taking a straw poll of sorts of the audience.

  • Mitt Romney: He is the most promising, with a war chest to match Obama’s, but he has the lingering problem of “Romneycare”—the “disastrous” health care program he introduced in Massachusetts. Still, Ingraham said, he’s likely to get the nomination.
  • Tim Pawlenty, former governor of Minnesota: He won’t move the needle among the American public, Ingraham suggested.
  • Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana: The RLC crowd indicated with its sparse applause that he was far from a favorite, and Ingraham noted that he’s not well known among the general public.
  • Newt Gingrich: Too much political baggage and some difficult infidelity issues, Ingraham asserted.
  • Hailey Barber: As a southern governor, he’ll have a hard time playing against Obama.
  • Michele Bachmann: She has enormous support in the Tea Party movement, but may be too divisive, according to Ingraham.
  • Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and the National Restaurant Association: He ran a very successful franchise organization and everyone can learn from that, said Ingraham; he will hold everyone’s feet to the fire.
  • Mike Huckabee or Sarah Palin: They’re a sideshow to the main event; “I'd be surprised if either one of them were to run," because they are making money doing what they’re doing, Ingraham said.
  • Donald Trump: For Apprentice fans only, but wouldn’t it be great if he could tell Obama, “you’re fired?”

Ingraham mentioned a couple of Republicans who should run, and could win, but don’t want to step up to the plate. She noted that Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, is the most popular politician on YouTube. He tells voters the truth and they respond, especially when it comes to spending cuts, she told the audience.

In closing, Ingraham urged RLC attendees—with their collective experience in balancing budgets and running successful businesses—to get involved. “This country has to be saved and every person in this room who has something to contribute to this political season should do so...perhaps running for the school board, a local office or even Congress,” she said.

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