This primary season has been very interesting for me, and it has also been the hardest I’ve ever had to think about who I planned to vote for. Unfortunately, none of the candidates excite me very much. There are quite a few people I had hoped would run that didn’t. Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, and maybe even Mitch Daniels. I think each of these men would have made an excellent choice, however they chose not to run this time around. I suspect mostly the reason being age for most of them. Ryan, Rubio, and Jindal are all still very young, and I think the probably expect 2016 or 2020 to be a better time to run for them.
Back to the present and this election, we started with roughly 10 candidates, depending on how far back you want to go. Some were out before the voting even started. Of those candidates, I personally like Tim Pawlenty. I think if he had stuck around he might have had a chance seeing how things have played out so far. He didn’t though, and there have been many other casualties including Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Donald Trump, and Jon Huntsman. I wasn’t especially sad to see any of them go.
So for those of us voting tomorrow on Super Tuesday in states like Tennessee, Georgia, Ohio and others, we are left with 4 choices:
Mitt Romney - former Governor of Massachusetts
Rick Santorum - former Senator from Pennsylvania
Newt Gingrich - former Speaker of the House from Georgia
Ron Paul - current Representative from Texas
There are pros and cons to each of these, but at the end of the day you have to pick someone. I’d prefer to pick someone because I really liked them and what they stand for, but sometimes it’s process of elimination.
Ron Paul is an interesting candidate. I really like most of what he has to say, unfortunately I can’t get behind his isolationist foreign policy. I read his book The Revolution: A Manifesto and really enjoyed it. He explained his policies far better there than he is able to in a debate or short sound bites. When explained well, he comes off as far less crazy than many would believe.
That being said, while I am able to agree with him that we are too stretched and interfere with too much, I think he goes too far in the opposite direction. Germany under Hitler in World War II was almost able to take over all of Europe because of our isolationist policies. If we hadn’t gotten into the war because of Pearl Harbor, the world would be a very different place today. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Because of this, I won’t be voting for Dr. Paul.
Mitt Romney has been the frontrunner all along, which is probably because he’s been campaigning for about 6 years now. I personally think he would make a pretty decent president thanks to his background in business where he has been very successful. Unfortunately, I don’t think he is very conservative and that frustrates me.
As a governor he was very centrist. He was pro-choice for a long time, and he said things about gun control that bother me a great deal. Now, running as a conservative for President, I’m not concerned he can or would actually do anything about those things, but the fact that his principles are so easily swayed bothers me. Trying to get elected in a liberal state he said one set of things, and trying to get elected as President (and specifically winning the Republican primary) he has said a different set of things. I understand that might be what needs to be done to win in politics, but that isn’t what I think a person should do. You should form your opinions and stick to your principles. While I think he would make a decent president, and I will vote for him in November if he gets the nomination, I won’t be voting for him in the primary.
Now we are left with Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. The 2 remaining “Not Romney’s” have been hard for me to choose between. Santorum has been running as a conservative family man who has made family values a key part of his campaign. Unfortunately when he was a senator he did quite a bit of pork barrel spending to be considered really fiscally conservative. While that might not be a huge deal, it is at least a black mark for me. The real problem for me though is that he doesn’t seem to be focused on the issue that is going to decide this election. As has been said many times before, “It’s the economy stupid.”
For me in the debate he just came off as an angry white guy, and half the time I wasn’t even sure what he was angry about. There is a fine line sometimes between passionate and whiny. I get passionately angry about a lot of things in politics today, the rampant spending in Congress being on the top of the list usually. He came off as whiny to me, and about the wrong things usually. As I noted above, he was a part of the spending problem when he was in Congress. Once again I’d still definitely vote for him in November if he gets the nod, but he isn’t my first choice.
Finally we get to Newt. Unfortunately, I can fill this paragraph with plenty of bad things as well. The biggest being that he spent a lot of time cheating on his multiple wives. That being said, he has been with his current wife for a significant amount of time, and I think has gotten past those issues he had in the past. The reason I’m choosing him is simple. Frankly, he is the smartest man on the stage. His knowledge of history, government, and the economy is really impressive.
As far as foreign policy goes, I think he is tops by a large margin. As far as the economy, I think he gives Romney a decent run for his money, and he does it without having supported abortion and gun control. In the 90’s Newt’s Contract for America was a great thing, and it helped conservatives take back Congress. Romney ran for the Senate that year, refused to support the Contract, and ran as a candidate that wasn’t very similar to the one we have today. Newt is the same conservative he was then.
As Speaker, Newt helped as we balance the budget for 4 straight years. Just think how nice that would be. Everyone gives Clinton credit for having a balanced budget and a surplus, well Newt and the Republican Congress was a big part of that. Our current Democratic Senate hasn’t even passed any budget, let alone a balanced one.
One of the biggest arguments people have to tried to make in this primary season is who is the most electable? For most of the time the argument has been for Romney. Recently, Santorum has risen in the polls against Obama. For me, that is an argument that does a good job of pulling someone in, but in the end it doesn’t hold water. McCain and Dole were also the establishments “most electable” candidates. They both got beat very badly. The elections weren’t even close. Granted McCain had a ridiculously hard task because of the way things were, but he did a terrible job choosing a running mate, and he was just hard to get excited about.
Dole had the same problem. It was just sort of his turn to run. Nobody really got excited about him. Getting people excited about the election is how you really win an election. It doesn’t take a majority, it takes a very passionate minority. Elections are won because of volunteers making phone calls, knocking on doors, putting up signs, talking to neighbors and making donations. That is why Romney is going to have a hard time winning. Because of his change of positions and centrist standing, he will have a hard time getting that grassroots support needed to run a successful campaign. People suggest that he is more palatable to the middle. That may be, but if doesn’t get the right excited enough to work for him, campaign for him, and get out the vote for him it won’t matter.
Like I said at the beginning, there are several people I would have really liked to support. I didn’t get to pick any of them, so I have to make do with what we have. I think Newt is the smartest and most consistently conservative choice we have. I think that makes him the most likely person for the Right to get excited about. Frankly this is going to be a hard election to win, and it will probably be decided by the economy and the price of gas in November. If things are going well, Obama will be elected again. If things are worse, he won’t.
At the end of the day though this is a primary. I have to vote for the person I think is the best person for the job and not just who might be more electable. So much can change between now and then. In 2007 when Obama started running for president, how many of you would have said that a man named Barack Hussein Obama had a good chance of getting elected as the president of the United States. If you did, can I take you to Vegas with me? In September of 2008, McCain was leading in the polls. In November he got crushed. So tomorrow, I’ll be voting for Newt Gingrich in the Tennessee Republican primary for president. I think he is the smartest man on the stage, and I’d love to see him debate Obama this fall. I’m voting for him because I think he would make the best president out of the choices we have.