The Michigan and Arizona primaries are now history and Mitt Romney has them in the bag, an outcome that was considered a foregone conclusion up until a few weeks ago. Rick Santorum managed to catch the spotlight and the momentum after the last big election night. This momentum, to the surprise of almost all the pundits, brought him to the brink of a victory in Michigan, an outcome that would of shook the Romney camp and the political establishment to its core. The fact Santorum almost won is amazing enough but if it weren’t for a couple of slip ups and unwarranted attacks he probably would have.
Rick lost much of his momentum after the last debate where he regretted voting for the ‘No Child Left Behind’ bill but then went on to defend it by saying he was just “taking one for the team” and people should understand that is how things are done. Santorum was not astute enough to understand that the ‘Good Ole Boy‘ politics is one of the things people are upset with and getting along does not make a good excuse in today’s political climate. A simple I was wrong and made a mistake should have been the complete answer. Add to this the attacks by the Romney attack machine (probably the best since the Clinton machine) and a media that stooped to bringing out 6 year old footage from a church meeting and portrayed although it was part of his presidential platform and it was enough to stop the candidate’s momentum.
Today it again it looks like this maybe Romney’s race to lose. A fact that is certain to add to the discontent among many Republicans. Many feel Romney is not the best man for the job with some even saying he is only a step or two above Obama. This maybe an overstatement but the problems with Romney are many. He is manager not a leader, he triangulates and measures his every move. He says he is for smaller government but his record does not support such a conclusion. The truth is his goals are moldable to the environment he finds himself in with being on top the ultimate goal, whatever that takes. This might describe the ultimate Democratic candidate; it does not describe someone most Republicans feel comfortable with. It seems Romney’s main attribute is he is the one most feel has the best chance to beat Obama.
Santorum in the end might be a better candidate but that does not make him a perfect candidate. His statement on ‘No Child Left Behind‘ highlights one of his most significant weaknesses, his attachment to Washington parlay politics. He has other shortcomings for sure but these are not structural items. His religion is on his sleeve and that has and will be exploited and misrepresented by the media but the truth is he does not have any radical religious agenda. His economics are basically solid but some of his reasoning is often faulty. He declared minimum wage an inflationary problem (not an employment problem which is what it is) and he wants to pick winners and losers (0% for tax on manufacturing?). This said his plans are basically solid and will probably get better. His greatest strength is he has a core, a set of values and ideas he will not compromise. Besides Ron Paul, he is the only candidate still standing that seems to have one (of course Ron Paul’s core is part of his problem!).
As far as the other candidates go, Gingrich is damaged goods and Paul‘s foreign policy is unacceptable. Much of the damage to Gingrich may have been done by Romney but better Romney now then Obama later. At this point it is unlikely there are any big ideas that can salvage the Gingrich run. Ron Paul on the other hand polls well but it is unlikely in a security age he could really win. This is because although Ron’s economics are probably the most solid of the candidates, he is a foreign policy nightmare.
This all said, none of the candidates are great, there are no Ronald Reagans or even any good imitators. The United States may be at a point in its history where it needs a strong leader with the guts and convictions to take on nearly insurmountable problems but the truth is there is one like that available. Each brings something to the table but no single one has all the qualities needed. It would be nice if one could take a little from each candidate and make a fifth one. Since that is not a possibility the only point Republicans can take solice in is they are all better then President Obama. It is also a fact even now the latest poll data shows three of the four are still competitive with Obama. Polls of course are a fleeting measure of electibility this far out from the election;even Reagan was predicted to lose by a landslide to Jimmy Carter according to the polls at this point in the 1976 election. The only thing for certain is, freedom wise, financially, in the realm of national security, and of course economically, four more years of Obama would be disastrous for the country. Obama promised to radically remake America and only the voters can stop him from keeping that promise.
Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule – and both commonly succeed, and are right. H.L. Mencken
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