(CNN) – Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said Donald Trump has "absolutely no chance of winning" in a presidential contest during an interview with CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley on Sunday.
Alexander and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson discussed 2012 politics on CNN's "State of the Union," where Alexander weighed in on the contenders for the 2012 GOP nomination.
"There's always someone like Donald Trump who has absolutely no chance of winning," he said. "He's famous for being famous."
The GOP senator claimed that "there are only two to three people on either side who have any real chance to be president of the United States." And for him, the contest depends who has "the capacity and ability to be President of the United States."
"So Tim Pawlenty has a much better chance than Donald Trump of being the Republican nominee," Alexander said.
He also divided the GOP presidential hopeful pack into those who have the ability to run, and those who are still unsure. "Mitt Romney is most likely to run and is clearly someone who has the ability to do it," he said. But, "There are others who could but they haven't indicated they're sure to run, like Mike Huckabee, Mitch Daniel, Haley Barbour, Governor Pawlenty. And then you've got Newt with the force of his ideas, and Sarah Palin with the force of her personality."
Describing the field as "a pretty interesting primary," Alexander stated, "It will boil down to two or three and basically it will be the ones who are willing to start and finish."
While noting that "any incumbent president is formidable," he cautioned against the belief that President Obama has an easy road to re-election.
"I wouldn't assume there won't be a primary challenge…this is a lot harder than it looks," he said.
Richardson, who sought the Democratic nomination for president in 2008, imagined that Obama's biggest opposition would come from a "dark horse candidate that is strong with their conservative base." He observed that the GOP candidates "haven't started out well" and said that he'd thought Sen. John Thune of South Dakota could have been a contender against Obama. Thune announced that he would not seek the presidency in February.
When it comes to what it takes to go the distance, Richardson recalled his days as a candidate and observed that half the battle is fundraising.
"I asked my campaign manager, David Contarino, what were the six steps we needed to take before we made the run. And three out of six were can we raise the money to do it. So that's a big factor. Secondly, do you have it within you to go through two years of very intensive personal and professional trials and tribulations running for president? Third, do you have a theme?"
And he singled out the importance of a candidate's ability to stand out saying, "And then lastly, where do you fit in within the current crop?"
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