Friday, May 11, 2007

Handicapping the GOP candidates

Recently, there was a GOP press conference *ahem* debate featuring 10 candidates for president. As I find elections fascinating and this election season is starting up extremely early, I thought I would spend some time discussing the potential nominees and their chances.

All candidates that are clearly a joke are excluded from this discussion, as are candidates that have not currently declared (Fred Thompson, Newt Gingrich). And, all predictions herein are based solely on the candidates currently running. I make no predictions about Bill Clinton-style sleeper candidates that come out of nowhere (except that George Allen won’t win even if he tries).

That means I only consider Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and John McCain to be serious candidates. Tancredo is excluded because his views are radically stupid, especially on immigration, and he has no hope of winning the general election. Huckabee is excluded because no one is going think “President Huckabee” sounds presidential enough and voters always vote with image first. Hunter, Paul, Brownback, Thompson, and Gilmore are all excluded because they don’t have the fundraising capability and really, it always comes down to the money.

That being said, I also believe that of the currently talked about names, the only ones with a serious shot are Romney, Giuliani, and McCain. They’ve got the bulk of the money and the national recognition.

I believe Fred Thompson (DA on Law & Order) has little to no hope because he is a political novice, he’s not well known enough as an actor (the anti-Reagan), and he doesn’t seem to have any concrete views or strong positions on anything. At this point, I believe he’s vying for the Vice-Presidential nomination.

Also, I believe Newt Gingrich to be excluded because not only does he have a number of serious skeletons in his closet, a fairly disastrous period of leadership as Speaker of the House, and some bizarrely anti-mainstream views, I just don’t think the American people are ready for a President Newt. Perhaps if he changed his name to George or something. At any rate, former Speakers of the House that flamed out over BJ scandals presidential candidates don’t make.

Now, to the field:

Mitt Romney: Romney has been garnering a number of headlines and press of late, but that’s mostly because he declared first. At this point, I’m not sure if he’s better known for his helmet hair or the fact that he’s a Mormon. Either way, he’s screwed by two factors:

He was for abortion before he was against it.
He’s a Mormon.

Right now, Romney could just be renamed the “flip-flop” candidate and if the Kerry disaster proved anything, it’s that voters, especially swing voters, care about consistency. Romney is the anti-consistency candidate. Not only has he not been a bedrock of conservative principles (if there are any left in the world), he has hard policy backing his liberal views. He was the Governor of Massachusetts after all.


He was for environmental (air) regulations before he was against it.
He was for stem cell research (!!) before he was against it.
He was for abortion before he was against it.
He was for gay rights before he was against it.

These are not small issues. Dr. Dobson, the practical voice of the Christian Conservative movement in America told Bob Dole in 1996 that there would never be a Republican President “squishy” on abortion. Dole famously lost the election to what most consider, a vulnerable Clinton.

To have supported all of the above essentially nails the coffin shut on a Romney candidacy. But, if that wasn’t enough, he’s also Mormon. The Mormons, as some of you may know, have very strange beliefs that are not altogether Christian. In fact, I wouldn’t refer to Mormonism as Christian in any way, shape, or form.

This presents two problems. The first is that the same Dr. Dobson recently said that he didn’t believe that Conservative Christians would vote for a Mormon candidate. He’s probably right. Conservative Christians want a candidate that believes Jesus was the savior. Just as I find it hard to believe that they would vote for a Muslim or Jew, I find it equally difficult to believe that they would support someone who doesn’t believe Jesus was God.

Moreover, Romney admitted today or yesterday that his great-great-great grandfather had multiple wives. That may not mean much to you or me, but to the Christian nuttery, constant reminders of all things that are traditionally associated with Mormonism in history or today isn’t likely to help with the GOP base.

Ultimately, Romney is the candidate the Dems dream about. Destroying him in the election would exceedingly easy. I just wish that they would stop opposing Romney now. It’s not worth the time or effort to counter him in any way.

Chance to win the GOP nomination: 10%

Rudy Giuliani: The Mayor is the favorite of many. This much we know to be true. The images of him on the streets of New York after 9/11 ring vividly in the minds of his supporters and it’s his strongest selling point.

But I think those who believe him to be a strong candidate to be missing the obvious. Nationwide poll numbers don’t mean diddly in the primary season. All that matters is that the base, the real core who vote in primaries, vote for you. And I just don’t think that Giuliani is ever going to garner the support to win the primary season. (That being said, if he did, I believe he would be the most formidable candidate.)

Why can’t he win? Essentially, he has a similar problem with Romney. He supports abortion rights. Not only does he support them, he isn’t wavering. Bully for him, even if he is committing political suicide. The GOP base, the primary voting base, won’t support a candidate openly advocating abortion rights, not to mention rights for gays or any other “liberal” views one has to have to win the mayorship of NYC.

They’re also not going to like his multiple marriages or his relationship with Bernard Kerik, While Giuliani is never going to be a bastion of Conservative Christian morals or a shining example for those values, his relationship with a mob-tied, corrupt cop isn’t likely to go over well. In fact, it’s just the type of scandal that ruins political careers. Just watch.

Ultimately, Giuliani is screwed by abortion. It doesn’t matter how presidential he looks or how much people respect him for 9/11. The reality is, he’s not particularly conservative on social issues and those are the deciders of the day.

Chance to win the GOP nomination: 15%

John McCain: This leaves “I voted for torture” Johnny. Not exactly the ideal candidate by anyone’s estimation. However, McCain has the national recognition, the stately appearance, and the right lines on the right social issues. He has to be considered the frontrunner of the Conservative (Christian) base.

That being said, between McCain, Giuliani, and Gingrich, there are 8 wives. So he’s had his problems there too. McCain is a confessed adulterer. And he’s got a long, legislative history that makes him vulnerable to attack.

But more than any other factor, he supports the war. Although, it’s not just the war, it’s also the surge. He’s looking to follow the Bush model of hard on terror, strong foreign policy, fighting the war, etc. That shit works for the base. When you see those polls that say 70% of Americans oppose the war, the other 30% is the GOP base. Neither Giuliani nor Romney has been as aggressive or as hawkish on the war/Iraq. They probably don’t want to come across too strong since the GOP has essentially conceded that the war is their albatross essentially guaranteeing that the next President is a Democrat. But McCain either didn’t get that memo or he just decided, hell with it, get the nomination then worry about the vast unpopularity of the war.

In the end, I believe this nomination is McCain´s to lose. Unless someone comes out of nowhere and steals the show a-la-Bill Clinton 1992.

Chance to win the GOP nomination: 75%

Finally, comes Gingrich. I mentioned briefly above about his history of legislative failure and his vast unpopularity during the period. It remains to be seen if he can overcome those factors with the base, not just the general public.

However, I wanted to mention one other factor. Gingrich is a serial adulterer. He divorced his first wife in 1981 and haggled with her over the terms while she was in the hospital recovering from uterine cancer surgery. In 1995, a former mistress explained that he preferred oral sex because then he could say he never slept with her. This would be the Bill Clinton defense, a man that Gingrich personally persecuted for saying “I did not have sex with that woman” a technical truth in Gingrich’s world. Contradiction obviously wasn’t enough, however, as Gingrich was caught having an affair with a 33-year old staffer in the heat of the Clinton impeachment proceedings.

This is politically toxic in the world of the Christian Conservative and is probably the reason why Gingrich hasn’t entered the race. He has literally no hope of winning the Christian base and thus, no hope of winning the White House, not to mention the nomination.

Chance to win the nomination: 0%

Now we’re getting an idea of why the GOP is desperate for a Fred Thompson to step up. This is, without a doubt, the worst set of candidates that the GOP could field and they know it. Of course, they made this bed with the Christian nuttery and they have to lie in it, but absent another Bush stepping forth (God forbid) or an unknown, but virtuous candidate miraculously appearing, I’d say the GOP voters out there are stuck with McCain.

Ultimately, however, it doesn’t matter. The next president will be a Democrat. The Cowboy President continues to press a wildly unpopular war that has no end in sight. And the Democrat field is very strong. It’s hard to believe that they will fail this time around, even they do make the unfortunate selection of Hillary Clinton.

Final Prediction for 2008: McCain loses to a Democrat.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

You wrote:

"Conservative Christians want a candidate that believes Jesus was the savior."

I can't think of a more central and fundamental theme of the Mormon Religion than that Jesus is the savior of the world. Romney has publicly stated that he believes that Jesus is his personal savior.

No where in my Bible does it say that it is my place to determine who is and who is not a Christian.

I don't see how that is your decision to make!

I could care less whether you vote for the man or not, but telling the man what he believes and prescribing for him whether he is or is not a Christian is just plain ignorant.

He does not believe in Jesus like I believe in Jesus therefore he is in a cult is about as stupid an assertion as there is from a "true Christian."

4:21 PM  
Blogger SJH said...

Ignorant or not, this is a sentiment very present in the Conservative Christian movement.

(And, don´t mistake me for a "true Christian" or anything absurd like that. And, I shall have to look into your Jesus is the savior claim. I don´t remember that part from my visit to the church in Salt Lake City, but that was a long time ago.)

5:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Political Novice?

Fred Thompson

- Served on the US-China Economic Review Commission
- AEG Scholar specializing in Diplomatic Relations and Foreign Intelligence
- Special Counsel to both the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations under President Reagan
- Chairman of the International Security Advisory Board currently; a high-level panel charged with evaluating long-term threats to U. S. security
- Member of the powerful Senate Committee on Finance, which has jurisdiction over, among other things, international trade.
- Member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
- Member of the National Security Working Group, which observes and monitors executive branch negotiations with foreign governments.
- Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, an organization that promotes improved understanding of international affairs through public and private discussion.
- Member of the American Enterprise Institute for Policy Research, studies national security and intelligence, with a focus on China, North Korea, and Russia.
- Chairman of the Government Affairs Committee 1997-2001
- Ranking Republican Minority Member of the Government Affairs Committee 2001-2003
- Chairman of the Youth Violence Committee 1995-1997
- Chairman of the Senate Government Oversight Committee
- Foreign Relations Committee, 1995-96
- Member, Judiciary Committee, 1995-98
- Member, Constitution, Federalism and Property Rights, 1997-98
- Member, Technology, Terrorism and Gov't. Information, 1995-98
- Member, Finance Committee, 1999-2002
- Finance subcommittees
Member, International Trade, 1999-2002
Member, Taxation and Oversight, 1999-2002
Member, Social Security and Family Policy, 1999-2002
Member, Health Care, 1999-2002
- Earned "Restoring the Balance" Award from National Conference of State Legislatures; given annually to national policymakers committed to federalism and its impact on issues involving state legislators
- Recognized by Citizens Against Government Waste for his report documenting the federal government's staggering levels of waste, abuse, and mismanagement. Thompson presented the report, which includes his recommendations for addressing those problems, to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mitch Daniels at a press conference in Washington. Report includes analysis of the four biggest challenges facing the federal government: workforce management, financial management, information technology management, and overlap and duplication. In addition, the report includes an agency-by-agency appendix citing examples of waste, fraud, and abuse. The report also contains a list of the "Top Ten" worst examples of mismanagement in the government. CAGW is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse in government.
- Interest Group Ratings:
- National Abortion Reproductive Rights: 0 (perfect score)
- US Chamber of Commerce: 100%
- ACLU: 11%
- American Conservative Union: 85%
- AFT: perfect 0
- League of Private Property Owners: 90%
- National Tax Limitation Committee: 97%
- National Taxpayers Union: 88%
- ADA (liberal): perfect score
- Supported Newt’s Contract with America 100% of the time
- Planned Parenthood 0%
- NARAL 0%

Important Proposals and Inclusions Introduced while in the Senate:
- Nuclear Proliferation Act
- Special Counsel Act
- Aviation Security Bill Amendment
- FY 1999 Omnibus Appropriations Bill
- Regulatory Right-To-Know Act
- Homeland Security Workforce Act
- Homeland Security Education Act
- The Thompson amendment in the Treasury-Postal Title (Section 646) of the Consolidated Appropriations Bill
- Regulatory Improvement Act (S. 981)
- Thompson Amendment to the National Homeland Security and Combating Terrorism Act
- Thompson Amendment to the National Employee Savings and Trust Equity Act
- The Federal Emergency Procurement Flexibility Act
- The Federalism Accountability Act
- The Government Information Security Reform Act (GISRA)
- The Thompson Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act
- The Truth in Regulation Act

7:20 PM  
Blogger SJH said...

Nice resume. Perhaps I should have been more clear. When I said "political experience" I was referring to campaign experience. Giving speeches, shaking hands, etc. That's a clear area where he lacks.

You may have noticed that his speech he gave was relatively poorly received. That's evidence enough of my point. He's not a great speechgiver, nor is he greatly experienced in that capacity. Which is the basis of a national campaign.

But really, until he officially declares, I'm not going to analyze his chances too much.

9:02 AM  
Blogger SJH said...

Re: Mormonism

I'll eat crow. Obviously Christians. Obviously believe in Jesus.

BUT, their John Smith and 3rd testament story and their historical oddities still don't set well with vast majorities of the Christian Conservative momevement. That's what Dobson was referring to, I believe.

Whether that is prejudice or not is not my concern. What is of issue is that large tracts of the GOP base that he is attempting to appeal to are not going to find him an attractive candidate given his membership in the Mormon church. That's just the reality of American politics at the moment, right or wrong.

9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thompson had a weak showing the other night. However, he has given great speeches before, and I have witnessed them. I watched the man come from 20 points down in the polls to win by the largest margin in the history of Tennessee. I have never seen anyone stronger with a crowd than him. Remember, he has not campaigned for a while, so it may take a month for him to shake off the rust, and that is why he's making speeches again now, so that when he is able to announce, he will be ready. I am familiar with his strategy that will be used in the early states and possibly the Iowa caucus. It has a very good chance of winning over a lot of people.

Another anonymous poster on here said:
"No where in my Bible does it say that it is my place to determine who is and who is not a Christian."

You're right in that aspect. However, Joseph Smith wrote "“I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true” (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith—History 1:20)."

I am not a scholar on religion and don't care whether it is a Christian religion or not, but are Christians supposed to be accepting of it when it is not accepting of them? I am not criticizing, but am curious of the thoughts of someone who might have a background or better understanding of the context.

11:04 AM  

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