Mitt Romney and The Rest of the Republican Field
Posted by Mr. Earhart on January 10, 2012
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.
Rick Santorum: Tied Romney in Iowa (lost by 8 votes), tied for a third in New Hampshire
The Pros: The first thing Santorum has going for him is that he’s actually a genuine Republican. Rick’s a conservative’s conservative. He’s fiscally conservative and socially conservative. Santorum plays well with the Republican base, which is why he performed very well in Iowa (though he just got kicked in New Hampshire). Santorum has been a US Congressman and Senator for PA for 15 years, so he has significant Capital Hill experience.
The Cons: Santorum may be too conservative. His stances are off-putting to many moderates (abortion, same-sex marriage, intelligent design, etc.). Therefore, his electability in a general election against Obama is questionable. Rick also has a tendency to say some pretty radical stuff; he can’t seem to keep his mouth shut. He openly talks about bombing Iran, and is seen as a hawk, so the neo-cons love him, while moderates worry that a Santorum foreign policy might lead a to nuclear holocaust.
New Gingrich: 4th in Iowa, Tied for 3rd in New Hampshire
The Pros: Career Washingtonian who has advocated for conservative causes for many a moon. He’s a conservative’s conservative who holds the admiration of the “old guard” GOP. He knows Capital Hill and is the biggest GOP insider of this Republican field. He’s fairly charismatic, and has the intellect to not say the dumb stuff that comes out of Santorum’s mouth. Odds are that when one of Newt or Santorum drop-out of the race for President, the remaining campaigner will snag up the other’s supporters.
The Cons: Running a campaign as the utmost Washington insider when Congress has less than a 10% approval rating ain’t exactly going to win many hearts and minds. Gingrich was vote out as Speaker of the House after he was forced to pay a $300,000 fine for ethics violations – the first ever Speaker of the House to have to do such. Though many have forgotten about these former transgressions, it’s certainly going to come-up again and again should he run against Obama. Also doesn’t play well with the GOP base that he’s been married three times.
Jon Hunstsman: Did not campaign in Iowa, 3rd in New Hampshire
The Pros: Huntsman is young and has some impressive credentials. He’s served under 4 different Presidential administrations, Reagan, Bush Sr., W, and Obama. He was most recently the Governor of Utah, until he agreed to be Obama’s Ambassador to China in 2009 (previously serving in Singapore, Qatar, and Deputy Secretary of Commerce). He resigned a year ago to pursue his Presidential campaign. Huntsman is unknown and he doesn;t have a voting record that can be critisized like Santorum or Gingrich. Having been chosen by Obama to work in a Democratic administration showcases Huntsman’s appeal to moderates, which could play well in a general election, as well as offer him a unique position to attack Obama. Huntsman has what one would consider more liberal positions on health care reform, civil unions, and immigration – so if he can survive the primary he could be a big threat to Obama. Everyone loves an underdog, so if Huntsman can have a good showing in South Carolina, don’t be surprised if he makes a run.
The Cons: Well… we’re back to that whole Morman thang. See Romey, Mitt. Those same liberal positions that help him in a general election hurt him in the primary.
I’d cover Rick Perry, but it looks like that ship has sailed.
It is my prediction that Romney wins the nomination, but my dark horse is Huntsman. Jon Hunstsman is Obama’s worst nightmare in a general election. If the GOP can figure this fact out he will be their best shot at ousting an incumbent with the strongest field organization (Organizing For America) a sitting President has ever had – it certainly pays to be a former community organizer.