Is Lou Dobbs Planning to Run As Independent Presidential Candidate in 2012?

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Lou Dobbs’ departure from CNN has had many new and old pundits speculating that there is a job for him at Fox News or Fox Business news in his future, even though it’s denied by Fox bigwigs. But could that denial be correct? Salon’s Joe Conason believes Dobbs may have his eye on a different future course: on running for President as an independent candidate in 2012, a Ross Perot type candidacy that could hurt the GOP:

The evening of Nov. 11, when Lou Dobbs formally ended his career in journalism, may mark the beginning of a political nightmare for conservatives. In his departing remarks, he surely hinted at bigger ambitions when he said that “some leaders in media, politics and business have been urging me to go beyond the role here at CNN and to engage in constructive problem solving as well as to contribute positively to the great understanding of the issues of our day.”

The next day, in his first radio broadcast after resigning from the news network, he appealed directly to independent voters, whom he said “dominate the registration rolls in this country for the first time,” and went on to criticize President Obama as a leader who “focuses on the partisan and racial” in a “21st century post-partisan, post-racial society.”

Having observed the former CNN anchor for many years, including a number of recent appearances on his nightly broadcast, I suspect that he may well nurture ambitions to run for president, as reported in the trade press — and could mount a formidable campaign drawing upon the same resentful remnant that Republicans hope to mobilize in 2012. Except that he probably won’t be running as a Republican.

Further down in his piece he writes:

As anyone who has debated him will acknowledge, Lou is smart and informed as well as skillful and telegenic — all of which makes his pandering to the Birthers and the bigots even more disappointing. But the history of third-party movements in modern American presidential politics, from Ross Perot to Ralph Nader to Buchanan, suggests that those who should fear him most are his fellow conservatives.

Not only would he be capable of splitting at least some of the right-wing “tea-bagger” vote away from the GOP, but he might insist on exposing the most damaging effects of the market idolatry that has hypnotized the Republican establishment. Speaking of that establishment on his morning-after radio show, Dobbs warned against the Republicans as “absent” and “inadequate” in the “contest of ideas and values,” while promising to “recommit ourselves” to “a contest of ideas in the open and public arena, unconstrained by notions of orthodoxy or political correctness.”

He sounds like he’s running already.

Of course the problem is funding to run as an independent (not to mention getting on all ballots). And the Republican party is trying to harness the tea bag protest rage and put it to political use. On the other hand, the 2012 battle for the Republican Presidential nomination promises to be bloody: ambitious Republicans who see 2012 as a good year as Barack Obama and the Demmies deflate the support Obama and the Democrats won in 2008 will not just hand a Sarah Palin or Mike Huckabee the nomination on a silver platter.

And with Palin’s new book pointing fingers at and settling old scores with Senator John McCain and McCain’s staff and creating new intra-party controversies, there will be strong pro and anti Palin segments of the party. Meanwhile, Palin remains a divisive figure within the news media itself: there are those in the new and old media who both adore her and can’t stand her. Dick Polman points to this new instance of why he feels she is “without a clue” and a dream candidate — for Democrats.

On the other the other hand: Democrats could have their own third party siphon problems in 2012 if progressives feel that on health care reform, abortion and Afghanistan Obama and the Democratic party establishment proved to only somewhat alter Bush administration policies and were kowtowing to corporate and military interests more than to the party’s liberal base.

Which would raise the question: could there be another Ralph Nader run in the cards for 2012? (Does the sun ever set on given day?)

UPDATE: Newsday has this:

The day after one of the most dramatic exits in CNN history – the most? – the reasons for said exit remain elusive. “I have no idea what Lou’s gonna do,” said one high-level industry source. And apparently, this person’s not alone.

CNN officials declined to comment Thursday, except to announce that veteran political reporter and chief national correspondent John King will become anchor of a new 7 p.m. program starting in January. Otherwise, nada….

…..Dobbs told viewers Wednesday that political issues “are now defined in the public arena by partisanship and ideology” and “I’ll be working diligently to change that as best I can.”

Which means? Politics (his political ambitions have been the subject of speculation for just about his entire CNN run) or academia, or think tanks, or Fox News Channel? FNC denied any discussions about 10 seconds after his on-air resignation.

Mark Feldstein, a veteran CNN investigative producer and now a professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University said, “Clearly, there’s more to the story that has yet to come out.”