November 2, 2011

Republicans' Least Objectionable Option

That title can apply to a lot of things but what I have in mind is the GOP candidates for president.  With a very short window until the caucuses and primaries start, it's about time conservatives start getting serious about who to suggest as the eventual nominee in the race to face Obama.  Let's face it, there is no Ronald Reagan in the race this year.  But that's not to say each candidate doesn't have something that they bring to the table.  But since there is no Reagan, a lot of conservatives are thinking they have to hold their nose and select their best available choice.

Who might that be?  The candidate has to be the most conservative, but electable according to William F. Buckley.  I'd expand on that latter category by saying that the candidate has to be charismatic, a great communicator and debate-ready.  The candidate has to go head-to-head with Obama in debates and come out on top.  That's really important.  Obama has to go - at all costs.

Mitt Romney:  The problems with Mitt Romney are pretty clear - he's a flip-flopper on a number of issues and he's the author of Romneycare.   Those are big items.  They are the reason Mitt Romney can't get past the 24% support level.  But he's polished 

Herman Cain:  The latest on Cain is a possible sexual harassment scandal which could turn out to be minor or it could turn out to be a major albatross around his campaign's neck.  Beyond that he has some softness on foreign affairs and he isn't the best debater in terms of making his points clear (remember apples and oranges?).

Rick Perry: He's weak on illegal immigration, he's a bad debater, and he's accused conservatives of being heartless.  In addition, he's being accused of being loopy and he's also being accused of being behind the Cain harassment charges.  Given that he went after Romney for a tenuous illegal worker problem shows that he can fight dirty, the Cain campaign claims that he's behind the re-emergence of the harassment issue plausible.

Michele Bachmann:  She's lost her momentum and by association, her presence.  It's as though she's faded from the race.  She needs to maximize her appearance in the debates and she reverts to talking points.  Obama could probably, sadly, argue circles around her.  She moved away from the fiscal issues to consolidate the social conservatives, but that doesn't play well in the fiscal emergency climate of today.

Rick Santorum:  A solid candidate with all the appeal of a wet sponge on a rainy day.  He doesn't have the presence needed to carry the day.  Being a solid candidate is not enough. The nominee has to also be able to debate and have the charisma to carry the message to the audience.  There's a reason Reagan was called the great communicator.

Newt Gingrich:  He's alienated conservatives.  He's sat on a couch with Nancy Pelosi on global warming.  He's got personal baggage.  He has presence, but not necessarily charisma.  But he's smart, he can debate Obama and win.

Jon Huntsman:  Too liberal.  He's got no shot.

Ron Paul:  He's strong on the fiscal stuff, but otherwise he's just too kooky.  He's okay with Iran having nuclear weapons?  Please.  I'm sorry to break it to his supporters, but he's not electable.  Some great ideas but it doesn't matter because of the electability issue.

There it is in a nutshell.  Draw your own conclusions - none of the candidates are perfect.  But if you factor in electability (including the ability to win the debate), the only conclusion I can draw is it has to be one of Romney, Gingrich, Santorum and possibly Cain.  If you factor in the charisma piece, Santorum drops off the list.  That leaves Cain, Gingrich and Romney as the three 'best' options.

The candidate has to beat Obama.  That's paramount. Romney and Gingrich are the most polished and debate ready.  Cain is the most conservative, Gingrich is pretty conservative too, and Romney is just not believable in that regard.  If Cain can weather t5he scandal and get the debate skills down, he'd be the choice.  That can certainly still happen, but as it is I'd have to rank Gingrich as the first choice, Cain the second and Romney the third choice.  

I'm not really thrilled with that ranking but it seems like the least objectionable option to me.  It's probably different for others, and it may not be my final answer but right now, I'm saying Gingrich.

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