Tea leaves point to Whitman

For most of my adult life there have been discussions, guesses and hopeful predictions on who would be, someday, the first female president of the United States.

After reading the political tea leaves, I am offering up my own prediction. The first female president of the United States will be a Republican.

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Of course, a few things need to fall into place before I can be crowned campaign prognosticator of the year.

First, let me just offer a sincere thank-you to Secretary of State and former Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, even though I disagree with her politics and find it hard to cheer her ascent to the national political stage, since it would not have happened were it not for the fact that she married Bill Clinton. But she has made her mark as a woman in what has solidly and oftentimes painfully been almost exclusively a man’s world, thus paving the way for future generations of women to succeed or fail based on merit instead of gender.

Another huge “Attagirl!” goes to former Alaska Gov. and GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who shocked the political and media establishment by refusing to disappear and slink home to Alaska to lick her wounds and be forgotten after a brutal national campaign. Instead, Palin is a king/queen-maker of enormous influence and power, unlikely to exit the national stage anytime soon. While I tend to doubt she will run for president, her political power will be wielded for a long time to come as she firmly entrenches herself into the political fabric of the true powerbrokers. Everyone wants to know what Palin thinks and whom Palin supports for elective office — something that’s not likely to change unless and until she wants it to.

But California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman is the one who stands the best chance of being the first female president of the United States.

President Barack Obama is unwittingly convincing Americans that solid, extensive, tried-and-true executive experience is vital to a successful presidency. In fact, we are becoming convinced of this harsh fact as rapidly as the BP oil is gushing into the Gulf of Mexico and the president stands helplessly by with a deer-in-the-headlights look on his face.

The largest state in the union, California, more than almost any other state, is in dire need of a proven successful executive to lead it out of its current economic crater ,with a $19 billion budget deficit and an unemployment rate hovering above 12 percent.

GOP gubernatorial nominee Whitman, the former CEO of the massively successful eBay and self-made billionaire, is the obvious best choice to lead California. While California old-timers may still hold a place in their hearts for the quirky, 72-year-old former “Governor Moonbeam” Jerry Brown, so nicknamed for his formerly frugal, offbeat, bohemian lifestyle decades ago, the stakes are now too high to vote on retro sentiment over practical concerns. (It should also be noted that Brown and his wife now own a home overlooking the San Francisco Bay and a view of the Golden Gate Bridge — a home worth nearly as much as

Whitman’s Silicon Valley home, according to The Associated Press.) Brown is also the son of a governor, while Whitman is self-made all the way.

Named by the Harvard Business Review as one of the top eight “Best Performing CEOs” for the past decade, Whitman’s record and credentials seem tailor-made to rescue California. Voters looking to hire the best man or woman for the job of chief executive of California will take note.

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While Jerry Brown led in the polls in the months and weeks leading up to the primaries, Whitman has since closed the gap. A recent Rasmussen poll shows the two in a statistical dead heat, with Whitman gaining momentum. Brown’s attacks on Whitman for spending a portion of her personal fortune on her campaign merely underscore her success as a CEO, reminding voters that if she can do for California what she did for eBay, then they can’t get her into the governor’s mansion soon enough.

If Meg Whitman wins her race for governor of California (and I predict she will), and if she can pull California from the mouth of the volcano (and based on her eBay performance, there is a darn good chance she can), she will be a top-tier presidential candidate for 2016 — perhaps even earlier.

Cheri Jacobus, president of Capitol Strategies PR, has managed congressional campaigns, worked on Capitol Hill and is an adjunct professor at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management. She appears on CNN, MSNBC and FOX News as a GOP strategist.

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