The Race to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Some people get jittery when they don’t have their morning coffee. Some people feel completely disconnected if they miss the morning news. Still others get anxious if their cell phone isn’t within arm’s reach. I, however, pace around when I haven’t been able to post for longer than a few days! Ok, fine- I’ll admit it; I need my coffee, news, and cell phone too.

Some of you may remember that a while back I promised an analysis of the GOP Presidential Field.

Expect nothing ground-shaking; merely the pros vs. cons opinions of a novice participating in the grand old sport of armchair politics. These summaries and analysis are basic, elementary, and simple in nature, for after all, a book could be written about each individual running! I’ve also had the privilege of meeting of a few of these candidates in volunteer positions I’ve held. Not that a few moments can tell a person everything they need to know about an individual, but I like to think that I’ve got a unique angle from these experiences.

Hold onto your seats, boys and girls, because here we go! Feel free to chime in on this with your two cents and bolster the educational process that is the race for the presidency.

Mitt Romney

Current Gallop Polling: 21%

I’ve heard more than a few people say that he appears the most presidential. As the GOP establishment’s favorite, he seems to exude confidence and tends to sail through debates with the greatest of ease. It’s like this is all old hat to him. (I suppose running for president once before will do that to a person.) Despite other candidates’ ups and downs, he has held fairly fast to his 20-something percentage points throughout this whole thing. And frankly, he seems like a genuinely likeable guy. When I worked at CPAC in 2010, I remember the day prior to the convention’s start, when I along with a dozen or more volunteers were prepping guest packets. He was around a day early and popped in to say thanks to the volunteers. No cameras were around; no staff. Just him and the volunteers. Despite his fairly moderate past, he seems to fight pretty hard for generally conservative principles in his speeches and debate statements. The problem is, of course, his past. Not that one cannot change; after all, Ronald Reagan had been a Democrat for a great deal of his life. I just fear that compromise is way too much a part of Romney’s style. His flip-flopping between right and left, and of course , Romneycare raises concerns for me about whether or not he will really govern in the conservative manner he’s promising.

Herman Cain

Current Gallop Polling: 21%

He’s not a politician, and the fact that he has appeared from the onset to be a breath of fresh air in the dank, dark world of politics drew me to his campaign like a bug to a lamplight. He has bold, bright ideas (i.e. his 9-9-9 plan) to reform the swamp (you know, the one Nancy Pelosi was supposedly going to drain?) that is Washington D.C. Of the entire bunch, he seems the most “real.” He’s anther one I’ve had the pleasure to briefly meet; as he shook hands with several convention goers and volunteers as he hurried backstage for his speech at RightOnline 2011 in Minneapolis. His speech was captivating, not only in its content, but in the way it was delivered. I was listening to someone who meant what he said. So what’s wrong? He’s not a politician. My husband pointed out to me a few weeks ago that while Cain’s fairly constant reiteration that “he’s not a politician” is welcoming, at some point the phrase starts to ring hollow when one sits back and realizes that we’re now months deep into presidential campaigns and while Mr. Cain hasn’t been given the title yet, he is in fact running for the highest political office in the country and he will in fact have to learn to handle himself as a politician. I believe that this recent string of (what I believe to be false) allegations have brought this fact to life more than anything else. Let me be very clear with this- I am not suggesting that he “act” like a politician. I am not insinuating that he handle this or any other controversy in a slick, sly, Bill Clinton-esque fashion; rather, I am suggesting that Mr. Cain needs a refresher in crisis management, because frankly, these are the minor leagues. If he secures the nomination, the political mud-slinging that will come from the billion-dollar Barack Obama campaign will be epic. It will make this look like a round of Candy Land. Granted, this last debate inspired a little more confidence in his ability to ride out this storm, but it may be a little too late.

Newt Gingrich

Current Gallop Polling: 12%

He is by far the most intelligent of any of the candidates running. He has also been one of the steadiest risers aside from Herman Cain in this whole race. His performances in the debate have been nothing less than stellar; his ability to successfully and adequately answer a question while neatly putting the at-times insidious moderators in their place is more than entertaining, it inspires confidence. Just imagine Newt Gingrich in a head-to-head with a teleprompter-less Barack Obama. He has a record of leadership, and while there have been bumps in the road (i.e. certain straying from conservative principles and some morality issues that have some concerned), his knowledge of the workings of Washington is excellent. From the onset I’ve said that one of his biggest problems (outside of any political baggage) is his likeability. There are people who are just so incredibly smart that they exude a sort of confidence that at times comes across as haughty. CPAC once again granted me another chance to meet a political great, and while his wife Calista spoke eagerly and energetically with me, he was polite but aloof; a quality I fear may distance him from voters. Let’s face it: the average citizen looks for charisma and pizzazz as they go to the polls.

Rick Perry

Current Gallop Polling: 11%

At least from the start, he looked and talked like a good ol’ American cowboy; an American boy from the heartland ready to tackle the elite class that has taken over Washington. He seems like a likeable guy. . . and initially he had conservatives readily whipping out their pocketbooks in the hopes that he would be the alternative to Romney. His speeches prior to throwing his hat in the race were inspiring, and even had me interested for a while, as did his potential to out-fundraise other political heavyweights. He does have the experience of governing a large border state. He’s also got experience using an executive order to force vaccines on underage girls. Subsidizing college education for illegal aliens seems to be another gubernatorial pastime. Not exactly encouraging to a crowd of people looking for a principled conservative to bring down the most liberal president in American history. More frustrating still are his debate performances. While I cannot begin to imagine what the rigors of campaigning must do to a person, forgetting the third agency one wants to eliminate if elected president doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Besides, can’t you just see the ads? “If you hated Bush, you’re gonna love his former lieutenant governor Rick Perry,” and “Say NO to Bush 2.0.”

Ron Paul

Current Gallop Polling: 8%

At the almost certain risk of offending the dedicated following that Ron Paul enjoys, I have personally never fully understood his popularity. This summary is tainted with the fact that I’ve never been particularly drawn to his personality and approach, but I suppose that’s merely peripheral in nature. Certainly, he is solidly grounded in Constitutional principles (and for that I applaud him), but his views on foreign policy are what truly have me worried. Among other things, anyone who does not see a nuclear Iran as particularly dangerous needs to have his head examined. With all due respect to the Congressman and his commendable accomplishments and firm adherence to prinicple, I do not see in him the leader our nation needs at this point in history.

Michele Bachmann

Current Gallop Polling: 3%

She is one of the most ardent conservatives in Congress. She’s fought hard for the Tea Party movement and the principles for which it stands. She even spearheaded the Tea Party Caucus in the halls of Congress. She has stood in staunch opposition to the President’s agenda and probably ranks as one of his biggest headaches. I think her accomplishments in Congress have been pivotal in the effort to keep this administration’s carte blanche behavior in check, even if only symbolically. She certainly found her niche in the political world. I have no problem with the prospect of a female president; in fact, one only need to look across the pond to England to see the phenomenal accomplishments of former prime minister Lady Margaret Thatcher. That said, I feel that there are very, very few women who can carry out such a role. With all due respect to the Congresswoman and her accomplishments, she is not one of them. There must be a certain “e ne sais quoi” bout a woman who intends to hold such an office, because let’s face it, (as I offend every feminist out there) men tend to make better leaders. Not always, but usually. In an election where victory matters more than I believe it ever has, we need an unquestionable leader. Should that person be a woman, she must be unequivocally an Iron Lady.

Rick Santorum

Current Gallop Polling: 2%

The former Senator from Pennsylvania has been solidly conservative throughout the race. He just hasn’t been able to get a hold on a significant portion of the base despite his unwavering positions on traditional values, lower taxes, smaller government, and a belief that America is indeed an exceptional success in the history of nations. Money is probably his biggest problem (though he’s been able to cover significant ground in Iowa despite that), along with the fact that debate after debate he’s coming across as somewhat less than graceful. There have been times in past debates in which I half expected to see a temper-tantrum over the fact that moderators weren’t giving equal time to the Senator. I can understand the frustration while candidates such as Mitt Romney (whom the media has already crowned the nominee) receive what seem like eons of airtime in the debates, Santorum is left off to the side somewhere, having to raise his hand to be heard. Nevertheless, perception is everything. If you come across as a sore loser, you’re not going to score points.

Gary Johnson

Current Gallop Polling: Less than 1%

Frankly, former New Mexico Governor Johnson would be more comfortable with a “D;” or a minimum an “L” behind his name. I’m honestly having a hard time trying to figure out what he’s doing in a GOP primary. While he does hold to certain conservative stances such as fiscal responsibility and entitlement reform, he goes on to make statements like “Life is precious and must be protected. A woman should be allowed to make her own decisions during pregnancy until the point of viability of a fetus.” So I’m confused. . . life is precious, but ditch the kid if you want as long as the fetus isn’t viable? Another gem: “Stem cell research should only be completed by private laboratories that operate without federal funding.” Mhmm. So once again, destroying a life is fine as like as certain stipulations are followed; in this case, the use of private funds makes it all ok? I was also amused when I read his website’s description of his foreign policy. “Lead by Example” was one of the attributes. Among other things, enhanced interrogation is a no-no, (except for when it leads to Osama?) and “unjustly incarcerated” foreign nationals should “have the ability to seek compensation through the courts.” Huh? I’m all for not spending every ounce of our resources on military ventures, but I have to say, Johnson sounds a lot like a certain commander and chief we’re trying to fire. And I have to say; kudos for all the mountain climbing he’s done in his life, but call me crazy, when I visit a campaign site I really don’t want to feel like walked into a Sports Authority outlet.

Jon Huntsman

Current Gallop Polling: 1%

The former governor of Utah and former ambassador to China (hand-picked by the Obama administration, I might add) has been in recent times named “the most electable candidate” by the New York Times. With all due respect to The Times. . . , in what universe is Jon Huntsman the most electable? With the President’s poll numbers at abysmal levels (Gallup has his disapproval at 49%) and Hunstman’s support hovering around a wildly successful 1% , I have a difficult time understanding how such a statement can be made with a straight face. Yes, I’m well aware that poll numbers can be virtually meaningless in the grand scheme of things (just look at how far John McCain climbed the last time around), but still. It seems a stretch to even entertain the idea that Huntsman will emerge as our nominee. Where is the excitement about this candidate? Where are the issues where Americans turn to Huntsman and answer with a resounding “YES”? Trying to appeal to both sides is not only makes one appear quite milquetoast, but it makes a person’s principles pretty hard to decipher. Which is probably why Jon Huntsman and Gary Johnson’s summaries were the hardest for me to try to write. After all, it’s really hard to nail down jello.

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