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The biggest danger for the GOP is that the media will pick their candidate, like they did in 2008.
Who Is The Best Candidate For The Job
So here is my open and honest take on the field of GOP candidates. I don't believe that I have every candidate pegged 100 percent, but I must say that I am disappointed in who is out front and who has a lot of ground to cover to have a hope of winning the nomination.
I didn't write these in any particular order, and just for the sake of randomness, they are presented to you in alphabetical order... by the third letter in each candidate's last name.
Michele Bachmann Having heard Bachmann in several debates and interviews now, her level seems to depend a lot on who is interviewing her -- which is tantamount to saying she would be positively shredded in a general election bid. I do agree with Bachmann on a lot of issues, including the issue that she has chosen to define her campaign: the repeal of Obamacare. But despite this, Bachmann has already been given enough of the Palin treatment by the mainstream media to ensure that she will never gain enough support to win the nomination, much less the presidency -- especially once you throw in her "pray away the gay" clinic. Bachmann has come across as amateurish and petty too many times, making it much to easy for the Left and the media to portray her as crazy.
Buddy Roemer Because AND Magazine did a feature on Buddy Roemer, I felt compelled to include him in my assessment of the GOP field. I first heard of Buddy Roemer in the AND feature, and have since done some research into his candidacy and his positions on the issues. I must say, I was a bit surprised that a man with Roemer's history and credentials has thus far been virtually unknown in the race. I agree with him on almost every issue I've seen him take a position on, save one: the Occupy movement. I've made my opposition to Occupy very clear, and while I agree wholeheartedly with Roemer's stance against corruption and the entanglement of big business and big government, I find his support for Occupy Wall Street to be very troubling. It's a long way to go from protesting crony capitalism and the entanglement of business and government to supporting a group of people who think nothing of wanton property destruction, who have, on many occasions, tried to provoke law enforcement into violence in order to allege police brutality, who seem to want nothing more than a hand-out because they feel they aren't getting what they think they are entitled to... and don't seem to have much of a problem with public urination and defecation. This tells me that Roemer likely supports Occupy Wall Street based on the issues, but may or may not be paying attention to the sort of bedfellows he is choosing when he throws his support behind "the 99 percent".
Mitt Romney As much as he loves to tout his "private sector experience," Mitt Romney is the politician's politician. He has the politicians hair, the politician's smile, and the politician's way of contradicting himself while trying to sound totally reasonable for doing so. The biggest monkey on Romney's back is Romneycare, the state-run health care system he signed into law in Massachusetts, and has been running away from ever since. While his excuse that state-run health care is okay at the state level because it doesn't violate the US Constitution like a federally-mandated system does, the fact that he was willing to sign state-run health care into law even at the state level shows that he isn't serious about standing up for conservatism when it matters. We already have a Speaker of the House who caves too easily in the face of opposition by Democrats and the mainstream media; we don't need a President running that same game plan.
Perhaps the thing that bugs me the most about Mitt Romney is that he left the 2008 primary as the presumptive 2012 nominee, and he kept that status coming into the 2012 primary season, despite the fact that he had been virtually invisible in between times. Throughout every debate and poll thus far, there has been a sort of assumption that Romney is the man to beat, despite the fact that he doesn't garner a whole lot of enthusiasm from the Right. One thing that worries me about Mitt Romney is that he hasn't come under any major attacks by the mainstream media. In the 2008 primary, you couldn't take a step without hearing some talking head going on about how Americans would never elect a Mormon to the White House... but now they are strangely silent -- as if they are waiting to play the Mormon card until Romney makes it to the general election. And frankly, his religion is about the only thing about Mitt Romney that doesn't bother me. Romney is the kind of candidate that people will vote for because "he's better than the other guy." That strategy doesn't win elections, and it won't work for Romney if he faces up against Barack Obama.
Newt Gingrich Gingrich is ahead right now, but now that he is in the spotlight, all indications are that he could be dragged down by a hostile media (who would rather see Romney face up against Obama). Right now, Gingrich has two things going for him: he's very smart, and he's an excellent debater. In fact, it was his debating skills that first drew me to him. Add to this the fact that a lot of his dirty laundry was aired out back in the '90s -- meaning that he likely won't go the way of Herman Cain -- and you have a pretty good candidate. He could tear up Barack Obama in a debate, and a lot of Republicans are just itching to see what could happen in a Gingrich/Obama match-up. Conservatives who may normally be turned off by extramarital affairs or sex scandals don't seem to care when it comes to Gingrich, primarily because it's old news. We've been there, done that.
But while Gingrich may be a very smart man and a great debater, conservatives are starting to voice concerns on his record. Yes, he presided over the GOP Congress in the '90s that saw a balanced budget and welfare reform, but conservatives who were in-the-know in the '90s are questioning Gingrich's role in all of that. Yes, Gingrich was leading the party at the time, but was the party also keeping Gingrich's progressive streak in check? I was in high school during the '90s, and wasn't paying particular attention to the political scene, but enough trustworthy conservative voices are starting to question Gingrich's conservative credentials that I'm beginning to wonder whether he would be the right choice.
Rick Santorum Of all of the GOP candidates running today, Rick Santorum is the most conservative. He has a solid conservative record as a United States Senator. If there is anything bad about Rick Santorum as a candidate, it is that he came into the campaign with the opposite assumption of Mitt Romney. Conservatives like his conservative record, but wonder if he could win elections, given the sparse attention that has been paid to him throughout the primary race. He isn't seen as a dynamic candidate, but personally, I disagree. Each and every time I have heard him get time in a debate or appear in an interview, he gets me energized and excited about the possibilities of having a real conservative in the White House. If you are a Republican and/or a conservative and are still on the fence, give Rick Santorum another look. You won't be disappointed.
John Huntsman Is John Huntsman still in the race? I think so, but I'm not sure, and frankly, I don't really care enough to check. I don't know much about John Huntsman. I don't know where he stands on the issues. About the only thing of substance that I do know about Huntsman is that the only people I've heard supporting his candidacy are flaming liberals... and that's about all I need to know. Huntsman's near complete lack of support from Republicans and conservatives means that even if he had a prayer of winning the nomination, he would never gain enough support to win a general election.
Rick Perry I almost didn't write about Rick Perry, because in my opinion, his candidacy amounts to little more than a bad joke. Perry has a history of dirty politics, and questionable credentials as a conservative -- most notably with his Gardasil executive order.
I know too many Texans to ever cast a ballot for Rick Perry. Every Texan I've asked about Perry tells me the same thing: he's not that smart, he's a dirty politician, and they don't like him. That's enough for me.
Ron Paul I think I share the feelings of most people on the Right when I say that I agree with a lot of what Ron Paul says, but every now and then he says something too crazy for me to ever feel comfortable voting for him. I've spoken to a few of my libertarian friends who support Paul, and it seemed to me that a lot of their support was based on their assumptions of the positions he would take, rather than basing their view of the candidate on his actual statements.
I think Ron Paul is great on matters of domestic and fiscal policy. It's on foreign policy that he loses my vote -- and even there I still partially agree with him. Audit the fed, pull back on regulations, and WTF? Let Iran get nukes if they want them? Who is this guy and why is he running for national office? I agree with Ron Paul when he says that we are too entangled militarily around the world, but I feel that he would go too far too fast into a laissez faire approach to foreign policy, and that ultimately, this would do more harm than good. The real danger with Paul, however, is that he will launch a third-party bid if he loses the primary (something he has already hinted at), causing another Ross Perot-esque situation and handing the election to Obama.
I am a bit disappointed that Herman Cain is no longer on this list -- I supported Cain's candidacy for quite a while, and while he was torn down by relentless media attacks in the face of questionable and unprovable sexual allegations, the allegations against him never bothered me. Personally, I was bothered by several significant foreign policy gaffes that Cain made, but I believe his conservative fiscal stance was right on. I was very disappointed to see a good man brought down by a hostile media.
So this is the choice for Republicans as the voting starts this primary season. I think that Republicans across the nation are united in one thing: almost any of these candidates would be a better president than President Obama. But the biggest danger for the GOP is that we will see a repeat of the 2008 primary, where the media relentlessly dragged down each candidate, protecting the "Maverick" they defended throughout the primary, who didn't have a prayer of ginning up enough support or enthusiasm among conservatives to defeat the Obama machine.
The important thing to remember is that there is no perfect candidate. I think I've made it clear who I will be voting for in the primary election, but there are a few candidates on this list that I would willingly vote for in the general election. For everyone else, I would bite the bullet and cast my ballot, full in the understanding that, while I may not fully support the candidate, just about everyone on this list would be a better president than the one we have now.
Robert Cleveland, Senior Conservative Editor: Robert Cleveland is the IT Director for a document management services company. When he isn't working on computers and scanners, he's spending time with his wife and kids, or writing about just how jacked-up Washington politics is. He is a strong believer that hard work and freedom are what make America the greatest nation on the planet, and it is of the utmost importance that we never lose those values. Robert's other writing can be found at his blog, more...)