Writing a book (preferably, a memoir) has become a prerequisite for any candidate thinking about a presidential run.
Every GOP primary contender in 2012 except for Jon Huntsman could count him- or herself an author before launching a White House bid.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal: Leadership and Crisis
Before publication, Jindal’s book was saddled with the frothy title Real Hope, Real Change, but after a Gulf oil spill plagued the waters off his state, the title was changed to Leadership and Crisis. The cover shows Jindal, flanked by law enforcement and military, charging forward with a confident gait — much more presidential than professorial.
But the book isn’t entirely about the spill, leadership, ideology and attacks on President Obama. Jindal also tells the story of his meteoric rise to governor of Louisiana, and as in any good political memoir, explains how his conservatism was shaped by life experiences.
Jindal’s book was published in 2010, and timing-wise, almost seemed more appropriate for a 2012 presidential run than a 2016 run. But presidential hopefuls often release two or more books before their bids, and Jindal has plenty of material for a second.
Soon after Obama won a second presidential term, Jindal accused his party of “dumbed-down” conservatism that needed an overhaul. Another book could elaborate on what that overhaul should look like and would be read closely as a blueprint for his presidential message.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
Christie is currently bookless, which is somewhat surprising considering his heady rise, penchant for self-promotion and impressive record of standing up to powerful interests.
He’s up for reelection in 2013, so don’t expect a book until after he takes his second oath of office. As it turns out, that would put the potential book’s release in the 2014-2015 time frame — perfect for presidential purposes.
Junkies would be particularly interested to see how or if he handles his controversial behavior in the 2012 general election. Would he use the book to further explain his Obama bear-hug, his self-aggrandizing convention keynote address and critics’ accusations that he snubbed Mitt Romney on the campaign’s last weekend because he was bitter about not getting picked as his vice
presidential running mate?
A chapter or two could go a long way toward resolving those questions. The only potential hiccup for Christie? There’s no way to put YouTube videos into books.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio: An American Son: A Memoir
Rubio’s autobiography has everything a good memoir needs — riveting personal story, honest reflection and politics that’s free from bullet points.
One notable passage recasts the debate over illegal immigration in a decidedly apolitical light that challenges party orthodoxy.
“If my kids went to sleep hungry every night and my country didn’t give me an opportunity to feed them, there isn’t a law — no matter how restrictive — that would prevent me from coming here.”
Rubio also spends a fair amount of time acknowledging mistakes he’s made — both as a legislator and human being. It’s both smart and admirable. Smart, because it’s a way of immunizing oneself from outside attacks — the political equivalent of saying you’re fat before others can accuse you of it. And it’s admirable because political memoirs often read like campaign websites, and websites are rarely the habitat of honest self-reflection.
The big question is whether Rubio will pen another book before 2016. Now that he’s checked the biography box, one can see him moving on to a deeper, more philosophical tome.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley: Can’t Is Not An Option: My American Story
As it turns out, she — like Rubio — also has “an American story,” and hers is also as modern as you can get, as she touches on what it was like to grow up as an Indian-American in the South and take the reins of power in a state dominated by good-ol’-boy politics and white men.
Her memoir was published in April of 2012, just after Romney had effectively clinched the GOP nomination and, conveniently, just as the vice-presidential speculation was getting started. But thanks to mediocre popularity at home, she was never really considered a vice presidential contender, and consequently, her book was largely overlooked.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush: Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution
While Bush hasn’t released a memoir, he does have a book slated for 2013 release that could have huge political implications.
He is co-writing Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution with Clint Bolick, a lawyer and research fellow from the Hoover Institution.
According to its publisher, Threshold Editions, the authors will tackle the potent issue of immigration and try to strike a balance between compassion and law and order. That’s a very tricky balance to find, but a potential Bush run for president is likely to stand on two major pillars: education reform and immigration reform. Bush’s upcoming book could form his opening argument.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich:
With his popularity rising, the Ohio governor is getting more attention as a presidential possibility, and there are already three tomes bearing his name, Stand for Something: The Battle for America’s Soul (published in 2006), Courage is Contagious (published in 1998) and Every Other Monday: Twenty Years of Life, Lunch, Faith and Friendship (published in 2010).
The latter is his most intriguing work, as it centers on questions his Bible study group has asked and discussed over the past 20 years. Kasich is primarily known as a passionate advocate for the free enterprise system, but Every Other Monday could pique the interest of Iowa’s powerful evangelical population, which drives the Iowa caucuses.
Some of the top prospects for 2016 — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — are still bookless. But if they’re truly interested in a presidential bid, book deals should be just around the corner.
Heinze, the founder of GOP12.com, is a member of staff at The Hill.