Diary

My initial impressions of the 2016 GOP presidential candidates (part 2)

This is part 2, continuing my diary about the 2016 GOP presidential candidates, in no particular order . …

 

Chris Christie-     I believe he has the necessary qualities to be a good president.  Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean I think he’ll be a good president, just that he has the potential to be based on certain traits he possesses.  There are many reasons why he’s not conservative enough for me, which I’m sure other conservatives have documented already, so I won’t go into detail on those things here.  But I think if he surrounded himself with the right advisers and conservative policy makers, he could be a good president.  He isn’t afraid to speak his mind and tell the truth about various things, which he did regarding pension reform in a blue state.  But he’s also been less than honest about other issues, such as the economic growth in New Jersey, and the jobs that have been added since he’s been governor.

Despite these things, I think he will be a formidable candidate for president for several reasons.  As I saw in the speech he gave in Iowa, he doesn’t pander to the audience he’s speaking to nearly as much as other candidates do.  He has a message he wants to get across, and he makes sure it gets across, whether people like it or not.  He has a certain presence and confidence that other candidates may lack.  Sometimes he can be overconfident, so he’ll have to be careful about not taking that too far.  He understands that just spouting facts and rhetoric isn’t enough, you have to really connect with your audience, and the best way to do it is to tell stories, like the story he told of his upbringing and talking to his mom before she died.    The only other candidates who did this that I saw were Walker and Carson.

Furthermore, he’s already had controversy and has overcome it, the main issue being the bridge controversy.  That experience will prepare him for the kinds of conflicts that a president must face often.  I thought he handled it well.  He had a press conference and answered every question asked of him at the time, and gave a detailed account of what he knew and why he was innocent, while also taking responsibility for what happened since it happened on his watch.   That’s something Obama’s never done.

As he mentioned in his speech, he won election twice in a blue state, and won easily, while getting a high percentage of votes from latinos, blacks, and women.  We certainly need a candidate who can do that at a national level in order to win the presidential election.  Overall, his policy decisions alone allow me to easily rule him out as the candidate I would vote for, but that doesn’t change my objective analysis and belief that he has the traits necessary to be a good president.

 

[mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ]-    In terms of oratory, nobody is better than Cruz.  He can give a speech better than anyone.  However, a weakness I see in his speeches compared to other candidates like Walker and Carson is that he tends to speak at his audience rather than connect with them.  He’s great at firing up the base, but that’s not enough to win an election.  You have to bring at least a few new voters into the fold for your party, and [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] doesn’t seem to be able to do that, or to have any desire to.  This is just my opinion, but to me he doesn’t make the average guy at home think, “I can actually relate to him, and I think he really cares about my plight”.  Instead, I think the average person who doesn’t follow politics and knows nothing about Cruz will see him speaking and think, “Man, he can give a good speech, but he seems to care more about getting those people he’s talking to to like him and about his conservative agenda than about helping me”.

I have nothing bad to say about Cruz personally, because I like him as a man and as a senator.  I think he’s a good and decent man who’s very principled and has the courage of his convictions.  All of my criticisms of him are from a political point of view, not a personal one.

There are several reasons why I don’t think he’s ready to be president, and may never be ready.

1)He has no leadership experience-  He’s been an incredibly gifted and successful lawyer, and I’m well aware of his victories before the Supreme Court.  But with all due respect, we already have enough lawyers in Washington, and look where we are now.  I believe right now America needs a problem solver and a conflict resolver rather than someone who can win debates and persuade us he’s right.  We need someone who’s actually created and implemented successful policies, rather than someone who’s just talked about them.  Governor Walker and other governors are in the former category, Cruz is in the latter category.

2)He has no experience working with people who think differently than him or disagree with him, either in politics or in the private sector

3)He hasn’t had to overcome a major conflict or time of adversity in his life or in his career that would prepare him for the inevitable conflicts and crises that arise during one’s time as president.

4)His past statements and style of politics are more polarizing than other candidates like Walker, Perry, and Paul, which will provide a ton of material for the democrats to hit him with in the general election and for the liberal media to play in a loop.  It would force him to spend much of his time on the defensive instead of explaining why conservative policies will turn this country around.  It’s the same problem Romney had, only with Romney it was due to his background in business and then his now infamous 47% comment.

I think he shouldn’t run for president in 2016 because we need a conservative fighter in the Senate, not only to oppose Obama’s policies, but to put pressure on the GOP leadership and the next president to pass conservative bills in 2016 and beyond.  If he has success in doing that, maybe then we can talk about him running for president in the future.

 

[mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ]-     For many of the same reasons I gave for why Cruz isn’t ready to president,  I don’t think Rubio is ready either.  He clearly has a vision for where he wants to take this country and has the proposals and details to back it up, but having an agenda isn’t enough to make one qualified to be president.  You have to have past experience in actually creating and implementing an agenda, whether it’s in the private sector or in government, and Rubio doesn’t have it.  In my opinion he would just be the conservative version of Obama.  He’s good looking, has charisma for days, and can give a great speech, but can’t point to anything he’s done in his life that would actually give us proof that he’s capable of leading people and governing a country.

Like Obama, he went from being a lawyer to being a congressman at the state level, to then being one at the federal level, with no experience in the real world in between that would actually enhance his ability to resolve conflicts, solve problems, and persuade people his ideas and principles are the best to get the job done.

That being said, I do believe Rubio would make a great VP choice.  He’s hispanic so he can attract latinos, he’s young and has a sense of humor so he can attract young voters, and he’s attractive but personable and charismatic, so he can attract some women voters too.  Combined with the gravitas and experience of someone like Walker at the top of the ticket, I believe this is our best chance to win in 2016.  That’s why as of right now I believe the best possible ticket for 2016 is Walker/Rubio.

 

Mike Huckabee-     I actually thought he was the best candidate in 2008, although that was mainly because we had such a poor choice of candidates.  But since then I’ve lost some respect for him, particularly due to his support for Common Core and now his attempts to lie about it.

Now that he’s running for President and in the media spotlight, he’s changing his tune about Common Core, saying he only supported an earlier version of it that was “led by the governors”, and that it’s now morphed into some giant federal education program that he can’t support.  Yet as recently as last year, he met with one of the organizations that helped create the state Common Core standards, and told them, “Rebrand it, refocus it, but don’t retreat.”

As a pastor, he should know better than most that lying is a sin.  I could go into all the pros and cons of having him as our nominee, but I simply can’t get past his position on Common Core.  It was bad enough that he supported it in the first place, but as they say in politics, the cover up is always worse than the crime.

 

[mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ]-

This interview pretty much sums up why Paul isn’t qualified to be president, and cemented my decision not to vote for him in the primary.  Compare and contrast this interview to the one Walker did on This Week that I linked to above.  There couldn’t be a starker contrast.  Both were grilled by tough liberal interviewers and were asked tough questions, but Walker never got flustered or defensive, whereas Paul did and showed his thin skin.

In terms of how republicans handle the media, this contrast is a model to study.  We’re just not gonna win people over to our side if we handle criticism or even just a tough interview the way Paul does here.  The model is Walker.  He shows how to handle those questions by being humble and not arrogant, but also being assertive and making sure he gets his points across whether the host likes it or not.  He finds a balance between getting pushed over and attacking or blaming the host for being unfair.  Why is Walker clearly so much tougher than Paul and has a thicker skin?  Because he’s handled lots of conflict and criticism before, and has experience in how to deal with it properly.  Paul doesn’t have any experience with that, and it shows.

 

One final note:  I’m well aware of the concerns conservatives have about Walker regarding gay marriage, Common Core, and immigration.  I share some of those concerns.  However, this diary wasn’t meant to be a piece on policy criticisms or achievements, but rather on what I think of the candidates who hold those policy positions and whether or not they have the traits necessary to be president.  Policies can be changed or adapted, but most traits can’t be, which is why I chose to focus on that.  Any candidate can check the boxes in order to prove they’re a conservative candidate, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be a good president.  We need both a good candidate and good policies from that candidate, but if we pick an unqualified candidate, the policies he or she supports don’t matter.