Monday, January 16, 2012

Quick Hits: Volume XLVIII (GOP Presidential Candidates edition)

-Of the seven GOP Presidential candidates who participated in the Iowa caucuses a couple of weeks ago, nearly all have had their turn as "flavor of the week/month" with the exception of one. So it's no surprise what took place Monday morning.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman withdrew from the Republican presidential race Monday and endorsed front-runner Mitt Romney, while a supporter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry called for him to also drop out for the sake of conservative unity.

"Our campaign for the presidency ends, but our campaign for a (better) American continues," Huntsman declared. "I believe it is now time for our party to unite around the candidate best equipped to defeat Barack Obama. Despite our differences and the space between us on some of the issues, I believe that candidate is Gov. Mitt Romney."

Many have said that Huntsman's biggest downfall was he denied his conservative credentials in an effort to draw in more moderate Republicans and even some Democrats who have become disaffected by the Obama presidency. Unfortunately for Huntsman, this strategy backfired miserably, as he rarely (if ever) registered above single digits in any of the polls.

I guess it should come as no surprise that Huntsman chose to drop out right after the New Hampshire primary results had him finishing a distant third behind Romney and Ron Paul. If he truly had any appeal with the block of supporters he was targeting, it would have been apparent in New Hampshire. You see NH is an open primary state where Independents and Democrats were allowed to vote. Having finished nearly 24 points behind Romney, Huntsman either didn't sway as many non-conservatives/non-Republicans as he had hoped or they simply didn't turn out.

So long, Governor Huntsman. We hardly knew ye.

-Star Tribune political reporter Rachel Stassen-Berger asked the following question via Twitter on Monday:

Pawlenty back in the "veepstakes" speculation. Do you think he belongs there?

My answer was "No", for the simple reason that (assuming Romney is the GOP nominee) there needs to be a VP candidate which energizes the conservative base. Romney himself certainly isn't that candidate, so his running mate will have to have that draw.

Personally, I believe Marco Rubio is the most viable (and obvious) option, for the reasons Mike Huckabee recently laid out in a Newsmax interview.

“I think Marco Rubio is the much stronger candidate, mainly because Mitt needs to balance himself geographically. Florida is going to be a very key swing state,” said Huckabee, who noted that Romney has not asked for his advice on a running mate.

“If he could get Rubio on the ticket, you’ve got a person with great ties to the Hispanic community, an amazing communicator, a terrific leader, a Floridian and someone who has impeccable values voter credentials with the pro-life and pro-family crowd,” Huckabee said.

Lest we forget that 2008 GOP candidate John McCain received a lukewarm reception amongst the Republican base until he chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. Granted it wasn't enough to defeat the "Hope and Change" juggernaut, but there was no question that the conservative base of the GOP was more engaged once Palin came on board. Solidifying and energizing the base is a must in November if we hope to defeat an incumbent President.

-I like Newt Gingrich. Really, I do. And I don't believe for a second that he's "anti-capitalism" despite the digs regarding Mitt Romney's tenure at Bain Capital.

But his latest attempt to denigrate Romney's candidacy is just plain silly.

"Why would you want to nominate the guy who lost to the guy who lost to Obama?" Newt asked a standing-room only crowd in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Obviously Gingrich is referring to 2008 when Romney lost the GOP nomination to John McCain who in turn was defeated in the general election by Obama. That logic is flawed in a couple of different ways.

Do you recall who won the GOP nomination in 1980 to take on incumbent President Jimmy Carter? Yes, it was Ronald Reagan. Suppose if in the 1980 GOP nomination process that candidate Howard Baker tweaked Reagan by saying he was the guy (in 1976) who lost to the guy (Gerald Ford) who lost to Carter. As we see now, that clearly was not enough to consider disqualifying Reagan.

The other flaw is the GOP is now taking on a vulnerable incumbent President whose economic policy failures can be highlighted with statistical data. But four years ago they were opposing an unstoppable juggernaut who used charismatic speeches to sway an electorate which was weary (rightfully so) of eight years of a big government Republican. But people now realize one cannot alleviate issues incurred from eight years of "Compassionate Conservatism" with an even more substantial power grab.

These are different times indeed. But lately Gingrich seems to have reverted to his 1990s persona when the phrase "loose cannon" often preceded his name.



Gino said...

i saw where Rubio has said he wouldnt accept a VP nod.

personally... the GOP needs to stop reaching into the minor leagues for VPs and get somebody who's a little more experienced than one uncompleted term as a senator or governor.

Brad Carlson said...

i saw where Rubio has said he wouldnt accept a VP nod.

Initially he indicated as much, but he's warmed to the idea in the past few months.

Experience is overrated (see Biden, Joseph R.). The issue is aptitude, which many who know Rubio and work with him are confident he possesses.