The Day after Iowa

Last night I thought the world was coming to an end.  Today, I’ve walked myself back from the cliff, taken a deep breath, and decided to take a fresh look at the GOP primary.

Since things are always changing in politics, here’s where I see the race standing as of today.  I’ll give each candidate’s qualifications for office, detractions, and some general comments.  My comments will be a mix of my opinion and prognostication.


Mitt Romney:

Qualifications:  Experience as governor of MA, Success in the private sector, success in running the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

Detractions:  Was only a one-term governor, allowed MA to keep moving to the left, Romneycare, perceived as a flip-flopper.

Comments:  As much as I don’t like it, Mitt looks like he’ll be the nominee this year.  If that’s the case, I hope he proves my gut feeling about his candidacy against Obama wrong.

I’ve been amazed this whole cycle at the power of the GOP machine and their “its his turn now” mindset.  Obviously, you can tell that I’m not a Romney guy but I look at him and wonder who decided that of all the GOP governors, he would be a good candidate for president.

That said, I don’t think he’s moved to the left since 2008.  The fact that he’s a “moderate” in this race is more indicative of the liberality of the 2008 field.  Looking back at the pack leaders from 08, its easy to see how he was branded as the conservative.

I think that Mitt will quite easily carry the New England states, perhaps with competition from Jon Huntsman, depending on how New Hampshire shakes out.  But he’ll struggle to win states across the south, where people value things like honesty, integrity, fidelity, and the like.   His success in the south depends on how long the other candidates – Perry, Newt, and Santorum stay in the race.  If all three stay in, he can win in the south.  But if two of the three drop out, I don’t think he has a chance.


Rick Santorum:

Qualifications:  Experience as a Senator and Representative of PA.

Detractions:  No executive experience, lost his last election by a sizeable margin, went along with big-government conservatism under Bush 43.

Comments:  Rick Santorum almost always sounds good in a radio interview.  He’s a good speaker, he’s clear and articulate in his points, and he did really well in Iowa.

That said, he’s never had the guns pointed at him, as every other candidate but Romney has.  I don’t think he’ll do so well in the spotlight, since he’s never really been in it before.   If he wants to continue in the front, people will examine his record for flaws for the first time.  They’ll probably discover that one social issues, he’s solidly right.  But on fiscal issues, he’s gone along with the big-government Republican agenda more often than not.

Add to that the fact that he’s invested so much in Iowa that now he’s bound to be incredibly behind in NH, SC, and FL.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he drops from 2nd in Iowa to 5th in SC and FL.   He’s someone that I could support only if he became the nominee.  It seems to me that there are better choices in this primary process.

Ron Paul:

Qualifications:  long standing member of congress, experience in the medical field

Detractions:  truther-tendencies, been running for president for how many consecutive elections and hasn’t won?

Comments:  I don’t think too many voters know the real Ron Paul.  They like what he says about constitutional government.  They like what he says about not sticking our military nose in places where it doesn’t belong and not fighting a war unless congress declares it.  They like what he says about the fed.

But they don’t seem to know the depth of his positions on those things.   They don’t know that going back to the gold standard would kill us if we did it today.  They don’t know the depth of his isolationist ideology, which makes him sound very much like a truther.  They don’t know about the newsletters, the anti-Israel position that occupies and shapes so much of his policy.  They don’t know the left-of-Obama position on just allowing Iran to have nukes.  IF these positions come out in the open, and if he’s top three, they will, he’s not going to last long among republicans.

I don’t see a way that he can be the nominee.  But his constitutionality would still make him better than Obama.  He might do okay in NH, but will lose all traction in SC and FL.


Newt Gingrich:

Qualifications: served as congressman and speaker of the house.  Has political leadership skill evidenced in the reforms passed by the 1994-96 congress.  Excellent and articulate speaker.

Detractions: personal baggage leads many to question whether he can be trusted, others have claimed he has too many ideas and not enough accomplishments, the couch with Pelosi and other environmental issues, support for that “individual mandate”.

Comments:  There are some myths propagated about Newt and the individual mandate.  The mandate that he supports isn’t a mandate to buy insurance per se, but a mandate to pay for your own health care, whether it be through insurance or not.  There is quite a difference between the two.  I don’t have a problem with saying that everyone has to pay for their health care.  I do have a problem with being mandated to buy health insurance.

At any rate, the person with the best shot at being ABR is either Newt or Perry.  Since Newt currently polls higher than Perry, he might have the best shot of the two.  For him to win, he needs to gain all of Bachmann’s support and he needs Perry to drop out and endorse him.   It seems that many who have Perry as a first choice have Newt as their second.  But I don’t think Perry will drop out any time before SC and FL vote.

If current trends keep, the longer he has the guns pointed at him, the more he will drop in the polls.  He has a good shot of carrying SC and FL, but after that, who knows what will happen.


Rick Perry:

Qualifications:  11 year governor of one of the largest states in the USA, proven track record of conservative government, actually moved TX to the right during his time as governor, displays strong personal character.

Detractions:  struggled in early debates, talks like a southerner, sometimes misspeaks.

Comments:  Even before he entered the race, I was hopeful that he would.  I wasn’t very enamored with the field as it was, since I didn’t see anyone who would stand and fight the Obama agenda.  But then Erick shared rumors that Perry was getting in.  I read every post on Rick Perry from early August on, and was excited when he formally announced.  I thought, “He’s the guy for the job.”  A few debates later, I was wondering what happened.  I started looking for another candidate to support – Herman Cain, Newt, Bachmann, but I couldn’t get over Perry’s record of governance and his willingness to stand up to the Obama agenda whether it be Obamacare or the EPA.  I decided to stick with my man, even as he fell in the polls.   And I don’t regret that decision, not one bit. I will support him until he either wins, drops out of the race, or loses.

His 5th place finish in Iowa was disheartening.  I was hoping for 4th or 3rd and was praying for a late night surprise top two.  But all is not lost for Perry.  Consider Iowa’s poor record of “picking the winner” over the past 20 years, and  along with that, I can’t see how Rick Santorum and Ron Paul will account for 45% of the votes in any other state.  That leaves an open door for the governor.  He needs to gain all of Bachmann’s support to have a chance moving forward.  I think that is a realistic possibility because even though Michelle pointed her arrows at him the most, their policy positions aren’t that different from one another.

The second thing he needs is help from Newt.  If I’m Rick Perry, I’m on the phone with Newt today devising a plan for both of them to be on the same team going forward.  The only way that either of them will beat Romney is if the other is out of the race.  Of course, my preference is that Newt drop out and support Perry, since I feel that Perry would be a more viable president than Newt.

He’s got a tough road ahead.  He’s wise to all but skip out on NH, minus the debate this weekend, and focus his attention on SC.   He needs a better showing there and in FL to have any hope of winning the nomination going forward.   He doesn’t need to win there, just improve and hope the other candidates start to drop out before he does.


Jon Huntsman:

Qualifications:  a record of conservative governance in Utah, foreign policy experience, energy experience in Utah.

Detractions:  seems to struggle with reading audiences and people (evidenced by his bad jokes), position on global warming, trying to run to the left of Romney.

Comments: I find myself agreeing with many on this site that whoever told Huntsman to run to the left of Romney should be fired and never hired again as a political consultant.    He has many good conservative platforms and a good conservative record, but the fact that early on he chose to give the finger to conservatives has led many to simply ignore him.

We could do much worse than Jon Huntsman (see: Romney, Mitt).   Perhaps when Santorum fades, Huntsman will get a look from conservatives.  Who knows?  If he’s going to go anywhere in this election, he needs to do well in NH, top two to be exact.  If he can’t get at least 2nd in a place where he’s spent a ton of time and energy, he has no shot across the country.

I think he’ll stick in the race through FL and then if he hasn’t gained any traction, will drop out at that time.

I’m in many ways a political newbie, but I can’t imagine a primary season where there so many variables going forward.  At this point, it wouldn’t surprise me if Romney was the nominee, nor would it surprise me if Jon Huntsman was the nominee, and of course, I hope that Rick Perry is the nominee.

I hope that people find this helpful.  Thanks for reading!