Romney’s win in New Hampshire, coupled with his victory in the very different state of Iowa, cements his status as the clear frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination – albeit one about whom many Republicans have yet to embrace, as evidenced by national polls showing him unable to win more than 30 percent support. More Here
The important line in the above quote is “one about whom many Republicans have yet to embrace.” The Republican field is suffering from several political dilemmas. I’ll try to outline a few of them here within this post, as well as to introduce y’all to the contenders (and maybe a few non-contenders). I’m by no means an expert on this topic, so part of this post is an exercise in educating myself on the candidates. Feel free to share your own observations and questions in the comments. Let’s make this a team effort.
Let’s start with the current front runner…
Mitt Romney: Won Iowa (by 8 votes), Won New Hampshire
The Basics: 64 years old, Romney was raised in Michigan where his pappy was the Governor. He is married with 5 grown boys. He became uber rich by running one of the most successful investment firms in the country.
The Pros: Romney has been a largely successful businessman in the private sector and he has leadership experience at the executive level. He was the Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, reducing the MA deficit and passing a rather progressive mandate for health care coverage. He also gets some props for turning the 2002 Winter Olympics into a highly profitable and successful event.
The Cons: There are two major electoral issues facing Romney. The first is his religion; Mitt is a Mormon. Regardless of your personal thoughts on Mormonism, it is painfully clear the many Evangelicals have a problem with Mormonism. Not only is this a problem for Mitt in the GOP primary; it’s potentially a problem for the entire GOP in the general election against Obama. Though most Presidential elections are won by moderate “swing voters” – a candidate still needs to mobilize his base. There are strong worries within the Republican Party that Evangelicals will simply stay home in Novmeber rather than casting their vote for Mitt Romney. That could prove costly in places like Missouri – a swing state with a large Evangelical base. The second problem for Mitt Romney is that he’s not a conservative’s conservative. He passed universal health care in MA, so his GOP cred takes a huge hit. Should he survive the GOP primary his moderate stances will actually help him against Obama. But he has to get there first.
Ron Paul: 3rd in Iowa, 2nd in New Hampshire.
The Basics: A 76 year old Libertarian running as a Republican, who has also run as an independent candidate for President in several previous election cycles. Paul is a married physician with 5 grown kids. Paul named one of his kids Rand out of his admiration for Ayn Rand, a Social Darwinist who paraded around like an intellectual (last sentence completely an Earhart opinion that can be disregarded).
The Pros: Out of all the candidates (Republican and Democrat), Ron Paul is the most honest and consistent. He tells you where he stands and he has the voting record to prove it, as he’s been a TX Congressman 5 more years than I’ve been breathing (1981). Paul has a huge, dedicated base of supporters, many of whom are young and willing to volunteer their time and money to campaign for him. Paul’s fiscal conservatism (if he could he would eliminate every big government agency: Federal Reserve, Department of Eduction and Commerce, EPA, etc.) plays well with the GOP and the Tea Party. He was a Captain in the Air Force, so Paul gets some military cred.
The Cons: Paul tends to attract the crazy crowd (Paul is one of the only candidates to say he’d legalize marijuana and prostitution, so stoners and working gals love him), and more traditionally conservative voters are leery of Paul’s libertarian tendencies on social issues. Paul’s stance can be summed up as “no government is good government,” and that means he’s OK with same-sex marriage. Paul is pro-life, citing his personal belief that life begins at conception, but Paul will never support legislative measures that have the government making decisions that he believes individual Americans should be making. Social conservatives don’t like Ron Paul, and even though Paul is a military veteran, his opposition to large defense spending and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have many of the neo-conservatives (pro-military, hawkish Republicans) up in… oh, dare I say it… arms.