The GOP choices
Republicanpresidential debates are underway; thepublic has been introduced to the candidates. It's time to form a few basic ideas about them, and about therelationship of their messages to the mood of the nation.
Theelection landscape is not favorable to President Obama. A few poll numbers demonstrate this:
Obama isvulnerable, but he still has bite. Dedicated Democrats will support him; his personal charm will woo others(Give the nice guy another chance), and his hair-raising ability to give astump speech will continue to attract emotional voters. To beat him, the Republican nominee mustfocus on what Obama has done, not on what he says he will do.
Ninecandidates are in the field -- Michele Bachman, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich,John Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and RickSantorum.
Thereare two ways to evaluate the candidates: Who can win? Which man has a message that correlates best tothe needs of the nation?
Who Can Win?
Accordingto a Fox News poll (September 2011), the candidates rank as follows: Romney (23%);Perry (22%); Cain (17%); Gingrich (11%); Paul, Bachman, Santorum, Huntsman,Johnson (below 10%).
Paulmay have peaked. He has a loyal base,but his age (76) is a major drawback.
Bachmanhas a good war chest, and she should last for at least three primaries. But time is running out - she must recapturethe voters that left her for Perry if she is to survive.
Santorumperformed well in all of the debates, but he hasn't drawn much voter support -his cash reserves are minimal. At thepresent time he must be ruled out.
Huntsmanand Johnson have never drawn much voter support and they will probably soonwithdraw.
NewtGingrich is the smartest Republican candidate; in many respects he is the mostqualified to lead. His performance indebates has been impressive. But he confronts two things over which he hasno control that could permanently disqualify him: 1) Age - he looks like, andhe sounds like, a voice from the past, which may not work well for him; 2) Hispersonal history, which features multiple divorces, could alienate much of theconservative base despite his more recent conversion to a faith-driven lifestyle. Gingrich has a small war chestand he must show well in Iowaand New Hampshire primaries. It'stoo soon to count him out, but he's hanging on by his fingertips.
HermanCain may be the most charismatic Republican candidate. He has done well in debates, especially thelast one in Florida, which was followed by a straw poll that he won (37%) withalmost as many votes as the next three candidates combined (Perry, Romney,Santorum). This victory was followed bya Fox News national poll that placed Cain in the top three4 - a major upgrade for Cain. Watching his progress could become the mostinteresting aspect of the primary season.
Perryentered the race a few weeks ago with a big splash. In the process he made Bachman a second tiercandidate. The debates have brought thepersonable Texan down to size as questions concerning Social Security, theeducation of illegal aliens, border control and foreign policy brought to lightsome of his positions that do not sit too well with conservatives. Once the top man in the polls by a widemargin, he has dropped to second place.4 Perry has notyet established his fund raising capabilities and it's fair to say that he'llhave trouble matching Romney on this score until he develops a more favorablepublic image.
Romney,a seasoned campaigner, is saddled with Romneycare, which he introduced in Massachusetts, and which is similar in many respects toObamacare. All Republicans (includingRomney) and 56 percent of likely voters want to repeal Obamacare. Romney handles this problem deftly, but the fact remains that if he's the nominee,Obamacare will not be the issue that conservatives want it to be. Romney is the best fund raiser of the group -his war chest is four times larger than the nearest competitor (Bachman). Considering poll trends, money and Perry'spublic demeanor, Romney must be considered the favorite in the nominationcontest.
Accordingto Real Clear Politics (October 2011), Obama would beat the Republicanfrontrunners despite the record he has created domestically andinternationally. Personality, promisesand rhetoric won the election for him in 2008, and so far the same formula isholding him up in the polls. Republicanshave not yet made their substantive case for change in a way that captures thepublic mind.
Which ManHas The Message That Correlates Best With The Needs Of The Nation?
Thisis a special election. The nation hasreached a crossroads, forced by different views of how Government shouldwork. Should the original constitution limit, as it had for more than a century, thescope of federal power, or should the living constitution free the federal government to expand without restraint, as it hasfor more than a half century?
Adherenceto the original constitution brought wealth and power to the United States. After the 1960s, guided by the living constitutionalists,America has morphed into the largest Welfare State in theworld, bringing with it a back-breaking level of debt.
IfObama (a socialist in deed if not in intent) is re-elected, or if he isdefeated by a go-along, get-along, backslapping Republican politician, Americawill sink into oblivion - it will become in decades (or less) one more bone inthe graveyard of once-great nations.
Maybea Romney or a Perry can fill the curative roll that history has created forthem. But there is no certainty in that statement. There are, however, existing candidates who seemmore surely to have the backbone and the brains to lead America back to the size and the form that was wiselyenvisaged by the Founders.
· Herman Cain: Onemust listen to a man who holds that the present tax system must be junked. He would probably be the best candidate ofall for the economy - he would need a professional team to help him on foreignpolicy. Cain is a highly under-ratedcandidate whose fortunes are rising rapidly.
Anyone of the above four candidates would lead America to a better tomorrow. One would hope that either Perry or Romney would do the same, butcertainty is not as high. Of the two,Romney would be the better bet because he has a life outside of politics -- hecould afford to be more courageous.
A dourprediction: If a constitutionalist is elected, and if he institutes all of thecorrective policies that are needed, the public will probably reject his bidfor re-election in 2016 on the grounds that he's heartless. A liberal would succeed him and he/she would proceedto re-establish Obama's socialist agenda.
Inother words, America may no longer have the moxie to tolerate the cure forits ills