Romney? Perry? Cain? Dems say it doesn’t matter — Obama will win

Congressional Democrats say all the fuss about who will win the Republican presidential nomination is moot, claiming President Obama will defeat any of the GOP front-runners.

The Hill asked two dozen House and Senate Democrats if they would prefer Rick Perry, Mitt Romney or Herman Cain to face Obama in the 2012 general election.

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Most lawmakers wouldn’t answer the question directly, expressing confidence that Obama will triumph regardless of who wins the GOP nod.

But others revealed which candidates they are rooting for and against.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said, “I think [Perry is] the weaker candidate. I think Romney has avoided some of the more obnoxious elements of the extremism, so I think Romney would be a stronger candidate.”

“From a purely selfish point of view I’d like it to be Perry, but for the history of the country and the existence of the Republican Party, they better pick Romney,” said Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.). “We can beat Romney, but he at least makes this not a joke.”

Rep. Hank Johnson (D), who hails from Cain’s home state of Georgia, said the former chairman and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza would be the “easiest to beat,” adding that Cain doesn’t “have any foreign policy experience.”

Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) echoed Johnson: “Cain would be preferable. We would love to have Cain … Perry would not be a tough, tough opponent. Romney would be the toughest. So in that order: Cain, Perry, Romney.”

Pressed on whether he is worried that Romney could beat Obama next year, Clay responded, “Anything is possible.”

The Hill asked members about the front-runners in the Republican race, but Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) offered his own pick: “[Rep. Michele] Bachmann’s [R-Minn.] my candidate.”

Asked for his rationale, Welch simply said, “I like Bachmann.”

Some Democrats declined to name names.

Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said, “Let’s just say I hope they have a spirited primary.”

“Oh, please,” said Rep. Louise Slaughter (N.Y.). “I just want Obama to win.” 

Privately, Democrats on Capitol Hill are worried that Obama could hamper their efforts to retain the Senate majority and recapture control of the House. 

Recent polls show that a generic Republican challenger would beat Obama. Noting the ailing economy, Obama earlier this month called himself the underdog in his bid for a second term.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) predicted Obama would beat all comers, calling the president “a great campaigner” and criticizing Republicans on job creation. 

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who faces a tough reelection race next year, told The Hill, “The problem with this place is that everyone wants to ask horse-race questions. I’m not going to answer horse-race questions.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), another politically vulnerable Democrat in 2012, said Cain, Romney and Perry are “all beatable.” Brown did, say, however, that he enjoys watching the debates.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) has also tuned in, saying with a laugh that after watching the debates, he’s “not impressed” with any of the candidates. 

“[Obama] is going to be just fine,” said Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.).