When analyzing the 2012 Republican field, the two important elements for us to consider are:
- The candidate who would make the best President.
Attribute #1 does not guarantee #2.
History has shown us that it’s not always the candidate best qualified to be president who wins the election. Look no further than the 2008 presidential election for validation of that proposition. Not to belittle my fellow Americans, but the reality is most voters do not follow politics to the same depth as Redstate readers. To many voters, charisma is more important than the candidate’s position on Afghanistan or addressing the nation’s debt problem. To others, physical appearance will decide who gets their vote. They want someone who “looks” presidential.
Mitt Romney may get votes of some because he has nice hair. Sarah Palin may lose votes of others because they don’t like her hair style or her wardrobe. Huckabee will win some voters over because he is a nice guy and likeable. Newt will lose some support of the electorate because he’s had three wives.
None of those attributes have a tinker’s dam to do with what kind of leader the candidate would make – but they (sadly) have much to do with getting them elected. Barack Obama entered the 2008 race with a resume of qualifications somewhere between zero and zero-minus-one. But he was charismatic and could deliver a speechwriter’s speech from his teleprompter like no other. John McCain had the experience and the qualifications. But he didn’t “look” presidential. He was about as charismatic as someone who’s been dead for twenty years.
As Conservatives, we would all agree that the worst GOP candidate (leadership, policies, courage, etc.) would be a vast improvement over Barack Obama. While we want someone who will return us to the Conservative principles and one with backbone and conviction, the first priority must be to select a nominee that can defeat Obama. Unfortunately, that nominee may not be the best one to carry the torch for the Conservative cause.
In this Conservative’s view, Newt Gingrich ranks on the upper end of “best President” list – but scores low in the “electability” ratings because he is not exactly a shining model of family values. Watching Newt going one-on-one with Obama on the presidential debate stage would be a sight to behold and leave the Great Orator’s shattered ego and image splattered all over the stage and all across America. Huck has the qualities that may make him electable – but his “best President” ratings are not at the top of the chart. Sarah Palin….well…..she is the most loved and most hated – at the same time. The most polarizing and the most galvanizing all in one. Mitt has nice-looking hair and “looks” presidential, but some question his Conservative heart.
Nothing matters more in 2012 than defeating Obama. We may have to sacrifice our “best President” choice in favor of the one with the best chance of winning. Regardless of who that nominee turns out to be, it is incumbent upon us all to give him/her all the support, praise, and attaboy’s we can muster.