WASHINGTON -- The speculation simply won't die. On Sunday, former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson said that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was "actively" weighing the option of jumping into the Republican presidential race amid voter discontent with the current field.
"I don't think Republicans regard this as a strong field," Gerson said, during an appearance on ABC's "This Week." "So there is still talk of people getting in the race. Not just [Sarah] Palin but last week, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey was in Chicago and had two meetings with serious Republican groups from the Midwest."
"He is actively, I think, considering getting in this race, which would throw things open once more," he added. "But the desire for that to happen ... it shows that they are not happy with the current field, they think it needs to be filled out in an important way. I don't know if that is going to happen, but the desire for many Republicans to expand this field shows that they are not content with it."
Following Gerson, ABC's Jonathan Karl added that he believed Palin was plotting out the concrete steps that needed to be taken in order to organize the campaign infrastructure necessary for a primary bid of her own.
And so, the meme of a Republican Party waiting for its white knight continues, despite the utter unpredictability of Palin's political objectives and Christie's continued insistence that he has no interest in running.
Many Republicans are, certainly, skeptical about Mitt Romney's candidacy. And while Texas Gov. Rick Perry has skyrocketed in the polls partly thanks to that skepticism, he's far from a known quantity in the eyes of voters. Yet that doesn't necessarily mean that those voters are deeply ambivalent about the field, or that they have much of an appetite for new candidates to enter.
An Associated Press-GfK poll released last week found that two-thirds of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents were pleased with the presidential field. Only half had said the same thing in June. And as The Huffington Post's Mark Blumenthal notes:
Last week, our HuffPost-Patch Power Outsiders poll of influential Republicans in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina found two thirds satisfied with the current crop of candidates and only 8 percent offering Palin when asked who else they would like to see run in a follow-up question.
This week, we decided to dig deeper into evaluations of Sarah Palin, starting with a more straightforward question: Should Palin run or not in 2012? We received responses back from 151 of our influential Republican leaders -- 35 in Iowa, 48 in New Hampshire and 63 in South Carolina. Just 15 percent said yes, Palin should run, while 81 percent said she should not.