Walter Palmer, the dentist who shot and killed the beloved African lion Cecil, has become the latest candidate to enter the crowded Republican presidential race. The Minnesota doctor made the announcement via Twitter.
Early polls among Republican voters show Mr. Palmer ahead of many GOP hopefuls including Marco Rubio, Lindsay Graham, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie but trailing Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. As Mr. Palmer noted in his Twitter feed, ‘In America, and certainly the Republican Party, the most improbable things are possible’.
Republican strategist Mark Albert doubts Mr. Palmer can remain in the public eye much longer but says he does add an interesting challenge to the other candidates . “Palmer has virtually no chance to win the nomination but he still can influence the race.
‘Like Sarah Palin, his story resonates with segments of the party’s base – gun rights advocates, disenfranchised voters and wealthy people leading double lives. And Palin, a virtual unknown before the GOP convention, almost became Vice President. In the end, Palmer may be able to use his supporters as a bargaining chip to strike a deal with a front running candidate.”
Mr. Palmer has already received an A rating from the National Rifle Association and donations from Freedom Partners Action Field, the conservative PAC funded by the Koch Brothers. Celebrities such as Ted Nugent, Gary Sinise and the late Charlton Heston have also thrown their hats behind Palmer.
Some, however, see Mr. Palmer’s sudden declaration to seek political office as a shrewd attempt to deflect the intense criticism he has received because of his actions in Zimbabwe. Dr. Stanley Collet, a professor of political science at New York University, says that the public “has long shown a remarkable tolerance of transgressions committed by politicians and athletes. And, frankly, I don’t see Walter Palmer leading the NFL in rushing anytime soon.
’If Palmer can get people thinking of him as politician rather than a dentist his actions, no matter how offensive, become just another example of a politician doing what politician’s do.” Collet said.
A spokesperson for Mr. Palmer denied that his entering the race was a publicity stunt. She noted that he “has a great deal more foreign experience then many of the other candidates having put boots on the ground around the world and as a physician he knows first hand the failures of Obamacare. When it comes to making the tough decisions Walter Palmer knows when to be patient and when to pull the trigger.”
The spokesperson added Mr. Palmer, “will begin making campaign appearances as soon as liberals and their radical followers stop hunting him like an animal. Its not like he went into a school and shot it up.”