The Big Questions: Libya, 2012 and the GOP Kingmakers

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Mark Halperin’s answers this week in TIME.

“Is Obama taking a big political risk with Libya?”
Critics have accused the President of haste, dithering, weakness, lack of clarity and an obsessive hunger for multilateralism. But Obama has defanged his opponents with a policy that balances U.S. interests, values and capacities. The Administration has achieved the high ground by acting in concert with NATO, and Obama is being careful to avoid a military quagmire if Gaddafi holds on.

“Forget the 2012 Republican candidates: Who are the GOP kingmakers?”
The trumpeting call from Beltway salons, New York boardrooms and elite-elephant watering holes: Where, oh, where is the one candidate with the focus, drive and character to beat Obama? Party titans like Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and Rick Perry of Texas are seeking a viable nominee. If potential candidates Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels and Mike Huckabee pass on the race, they will join the kingmaker caucus. What do all of these leaders and many of their financial backers have in common? No great enthusiasm for the de facto front runner, Mitt Romney.

“The new Census shows huge Hispanic population growth. What do the numbers mean for Republicans?”
Demographic devastation, unless they act fast. The number of Hispanics nearly doubled in the past 10 years, to more than 50 million, adding many new and future voters to the Democratic Party. Almost every county in the nation saw an increase, from both immigration and births, including such traditional GOP redoubts as Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and South Carolina. The trend toward Democratic dominance is inexorable unless the Republicans can engage Hispanics with a more appealing immigration policy and — by showcasing leaders such as Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval — a more inclusive face.

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