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Baggage check: Who is really our best candidate?

As this presidential nomination fight is heading into the election year, the above question really will be the determining factor in whom the GOP voter will cast their vote for to take on Barack Obama.  There is no question that all the candidates have noticeable flaws, some more than most.  But in the end, who really is best?  The final four candidates that I am seeing for the GOP nomination are:  Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and Newt Gingrich.  Not really a bad field to choose from.  Not lets take a look at the following candidates:

Mitt Romney

I have made no qualms about my reservations about Mitt.  By all observation, he seems to be a self-ambitious public servant with an aristocratic streak, willing to say anything to be elected.  Harsh?  Maybe, yet truth in most cases never is gentle.  So here is Mitt’s baggage.

Support for global warming, ethanol subsidies, abortion flip flopping, Romneycare that Obamacare was modeled after, and recently questions with immigration that Rick Perry brought to light in recent debate.

Mitt’s record yields to a classical big tent political campaign for the presidency.  John McCain tried this in 2008 and got slaughtered.  This is the establishment’s flawed political model.  They are trying to control the outcome, manufacture a result.  They don’t like it when they cannot control the outcome.  And yet they are blinded that by adopting this political model, trying to dictate the outcome, that they do so at the cost of courage and principle.  They are banking that the conservative bloc will fall in line.  This isn’t happening anymore.  They would be well served to remember that the last president not to adopt this approach was Ronald Reagan.  What both of these men do not realize that the GOP’s power and enthusiasm lives with the conservative bloc.  If you alienate them by trying to reach across the middle, you will not be able to increase your support and stagnate at a certain level.  This is because there is no enthusiasm for the campaign.  Voters who hold their nose to vote for someone at the polls won’t be motivated to tell their friends who they are voting for and most importantly, generate that enthusiasm for their candidate to their friends and family.

One thing that I do wonder about.  Mitt Romney had the misfortune of being governor in a state where the opposing party had supermajorities.  I wonder how he would be with a GOP Senate and Congress.  History seems to indicate he would placate to the other side to try to retain his political office.  George W. Bush redux would then take place.

Rick Perry

The other very well funded candidate of this field.  My initial pick for the GOP nod.  Three-time governor of Texas who has passed conservative issues like torm reform, has increased jobs, and balanced budgets with keeping spending down.  The perfect candidate on the surface because his record is strongest where the election of 2012 really is about:  Jobs and the economy.  Perry does have his baggage:

Terrible debater who doesn’t think very well on his feet, Gardisil, and an apparent Achilles’ heel in the form of immigration.

Perception and impression is very important in politics.  Seeing Perry’s performances in these debates with save the exception of maybe the most recent has made me wince at the thought of him debating Obama.  The last thing we need is a candidate who will make Obama look good.

I consider Gardisil a non-issue now.  Perry felt very strongly about this issue but pulled back when the legislature challenged him.  This shows that Perry does listen and has restraint.  It also shows that he does keep his ego in check as well.

Immigration?  He hasn’t handled this well.  Also, he does appear to be like George W. Bush by mirroring the belief of compassionate conservatism.  Calling the people who will be voting for you who don’t agree with you heartless is a terrible gaffe of enormous proportion.  I don’t have a problem with someone wanting to immigrate to this country.   However, they have to play by the laws.  That means going through the legal process of becoming a citizen of this country.  Those whom try to shortcut the process by not following the laws are more likely to not abide by our country’s other laws.  So what if it takes a long time.  I’m actually glad it does.  It tests their commitment to see if they really are serious about wanting to become a citizen of this country.  I really like Rick, but he really has some difficult things to overcome.  The Flat Tax rollout could very well resuscitate his campaign.  We’ll see.

Herman Cain

What a great story this guy is.  Cancer survivor, not a politician, successful businessman, strong conservative, highly educated, great speaker and debater, bold ideas.  He does have some baggage:

Small infrastructure and organization, not a lot of money, and a bad case of sticking his foot in his mouth.  Poor answers with statements in interviews which indicates either a lack of discretion, poor answers that confuse voters as far as where his convictions lie and answers that highly reveal his lack of inexperience in the biggest political battle any politician will wage.

I really like Herman Cain.  However, I don’t know if he’ll ever catch fire from a fundraising standpoint.  It also does concern me how he will perform if he winds up winning the nomination.  I do have real concerns with him but, I just don’t know.  That just tells me how much of a wildcard that he really is.

Newt Gingrich

This guy is about skilled a debater, speaker, campaigner, and knowledgeable politician as they come.  He has been for the most part a solid conservative for many years.  He has had a lot of great ideas and has crossed swords with many a formidable foe.  However, he does have his flaws.  In this case I will yield this to an incredible diary and hat tip to wonkish1.  Also, some wonderful insight for the case for Newt is in another diary right here by J Leg.

Newt does have a particular problem with fundraising right now and his “right wing social enginnering” comment which undercut Paul Ryan a while back hurt his campaign a lot.  However, Newt has rebuilt himself quite well with his debate performances and now his platform rollout is getting some buzz.

If I had to make a guess right now, I would probably be leaning towards Newt Gingrich right now and I sure won’t vote for Romney in the primary but would swallow hard and vote for him in the general election.  I do know a LOT of GOP voters will not do so though.  I just relish the potential thought of a Gingrich/Rubio ticket and watching both those guys debate Barack Obama and Joe Biden.  That should make a liberal cringe. However, things could change.  January is not far away but a lot can still happen.  It is going to be an interesting couple of months.

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