Republican Presidential Candidates 2012

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If anyone isn’t familiar with TalkingPointsMemo.com I insist you go and check it out immediately. TPM has provided excellent coverage of the Republican race so far, particularly with the ‘Campaign in 100 Seconds’ which they periodically upload to YouTube. Every segment provides an overview of each candidate and where they have been going wrong.

For those who are behind, I’ll provide a brief summary on each candidate still going for President and, more interestingly, why they haven’t been successful yet.

Mitt Romney

Romney was the former Governor of Massachusetts and you might well recognise his name from the 2007 race for the Republican nomination. Mitt was wildly popular as the down-to-earth Republican candidate.

Romney served Massachusetts well as Governor. His fiscal management was highly praised and he was able to introduce the state-wide healthcare reform act. This act served as a model for the type of healthcare Obama would later try to introduce nationwide.

Not only this, but the state which he represents is located smack in the middle of the Democratic North-East. This has encouraged favorable comparisons to Bill Clinton who was the Governor of Arkansas and was popular enough to beat incumbent George Bush Sr in 1992.

Likable, competent and good on camera. The perfect candidate right? Well the Republicans have had problems with Romney…

What’s wrong?

Romney wants to be President. Actually, Romney really wants to be President!

This has been a massive problem as it has encouraged him to switch positions according to public opinion. Thus he has been labelled a flip-flopper and the last person who enjoyed that title (John Kerry) was defeated convincingly by George W Bush.

In fact Romney has always wanted to be a public servant… or possibly he’s always wanted to be in power. This has encouraged many unsuccessful bids for public office. He was defeated in the race for Senator by the popular Ted Kennedy in 2002 and so had to settle for Governor.

But what’s wrong with wanting something and trying hard for it you might ask? Well, it seems that Romney didn’t want to project the ‘young man with a big dream’ image. Instead he settled for one that sounded a lot better, the man from outside of politics. He has constantly argued against candidates who have spent their entire careers in politics. As such, it was all to easy for Newt Gingrinch in the Republican debates to point out that all he was trying to do was get into politics!

 

Rick Perry

Rick Perry is the former Governor of Texas. Remember the last President who used to be the Governor of Texas? Well it seems that the example of old GW hasn’t put off Governor Perry at all.

So why would anyone take a former Governor of Texas as a serious candidate? Jobs! Lots of jobs! Texas has a higher proportion of people in employment than almost anywhere else in the country. So its kind of easy to see in the midst of economic downturn why the guy who gets you a salary could be appealing.

Not only that but Rick Perry is potentially the best looking candidate. This may not sound like a hugely important thing but a candidate who looks bad on TV is going nowhere at all. Think of the last Republican President who was actually liked (Ronald Reagan) and you can see why Perry seems an attractive option.

What’s wrong?

Where to begin?! Well, as I said, Perry came into the race as the guy with the jobs. Unfortunately he dropped this image pretty much as soon as he entered the race. Instead he pitched himself as the ‘the guy who isn’t afraid to be a Christian.’

So he’s dropped a job-centered campaign for a faith centered campaign. America isn’t crying out for a return to the good old days of Harper Lee, where the family donned their Sunday Best and said their prayers every night. America is a cultural melting pot with Jews, Muslims and Atheists who were all just alienated by Perry.

This is combined with some horrific advertising in which Perry strolls through his ranch and talks about the pains of an America in which ‘Gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas.’ Can you spot the soundbite? Even worse than this he pledges to ‘end Obama’s war on religion.’ Oh dear.

Even worse than this, he’s the candidate who can’t debate! Here he forgets the third department of Government he wants to axe.

Did I mention that the name of his hunting ranch in Texas is (formerly) ‘Niggerhead’? Come on Rick, this is getting ridiculous.

 

Newt Gingrich

10 years ago Newt was Speaker of the House of Representatives. No one wanted to hear about him running for President. Yet now he’s one of the top contenders for the Republican nomination. How did this happen?

Firstly he is a truly excellent debater. I suppose it’s more a consequence of a lifetime in Congress than by any natural circumstance, but the fact remains that he is able to wow people non-stop in debates.

Secondly, he has kind of pitched himself as the middle ground. He’s not as right-wing as Rick Perry but he’s not a ideational Marxist either. He’s a good old fashioned Conservative and reflects the direction the Republican Party would have gone in had George W Bush not been elected President.

Third and finally, he is widely respected and liked in the Republican Party. He was Speaker of the House of Representatives, third most powerful position in Washington, for 5 years. He co-authored the widely popular ‘Contract with America’, a type of Republican manifesto launched in the mid-1990s to win back support after the loss in 1992.

What’s wrong?

You know all those scandals Politicians get caught up in? Sex, money, power etc? Well Gingrich has done them all.

Infidelity is Newt’s middle name. He’s been married three times and each time as a consequence of his extra-marital affairs. He reportedly dumped his first wife whist she was in the hospital after being diagnosed with cancer. As if this wasn’t bad enough though, he dumped his second wife due to an affair with a staffer in the office of another Representative (cliche right?) whilst he was leading the investigation into President Clinton and the Lewinsky scandal!

As for money, well he adopted those infamously expensive politician habits and claimed all of them on expenses. This prompted an ethics investigation whilst he was Speaker of the House and forced his resignation.

Post-Washington he started selling himself on the speaking tour market and charged for first class travel and expensive hotels on every trip. He also started working as a lobbyist within politics in exchange for perks provided by businesses. The most famous example was the $500 000 credit line he had at Tiffany & Co.

None of this, however, even comes close to the $1.6m he was paid by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (if these names aren’t familiar, Google banks that collapsed in the Sub-Prime mortgage collapse). He received this money in spite of publicly condemning the banks reckless investments and the politicians who tried to bail them out!

Newt has worked as a lobbyist and his campaign donations are a cause for concern. In short, Newt embodies everything people hate about politics … but somehow they’re willing to put him in the White House?

 

Rick Santorum

Have you ever Googled Rick Santorum? Do it now, I dare you! Santorum was the victim of a hugely successful Google bomb in 2003 after he likened gay sex to sodomy. As such his name now has a secondary meaning as… well read it for yourself.

Santorum was a Senator for Pennsylvania and, if you thought Perry was too religious, you haven’t met Santorum. As you might have guessed from his comments on gay sex, he has overly Conservative views which led him to be labelled a ‘bigot’ by Piers Morgan (that’s right, Piers Morgan is on American television).

It’s not that Santorum was a bad Senator, if fact he was once a popular Senator. He was never really considered a good Senator though either. The type of America we’d be likely to see under Santorum is the kind of old-fashioned right wing nation we all thought had died with the Bush Premiership.

What’s wrong?

I tried to not be critical in the last section but it’s getting hard. Santorum is not a good candidate. He’s been compared continuously and unfavourably to Sarah Palin. A young hard-nosed, right-wing with religiously inspired views which are way too out there.

So why was it that even Sarah Palin was popular for at least a little bit? Well a hard-core conservative woman in public office is a rarity in America. White men, however, are everywhere and simply remind us of Deliverance.

 

Herman Cain

Herman Cain was the CEO of Godfather Pizza. A self-made man with good leadership qualities and good ambition.

He hasn’t spent a day inside Congress, but then again look at the candidates who have. Are they so superior? Maybe Cain is a cure to all the political ailments America has had to bare.

Not only this, but he’s the only black candidate. Considering that Obama won over 95% of the African American vote in 2008 maybe Cain is the only guy who can split this vote.

Maybe it’s his shock factor, or maybe it was the lack of good opposition but Cain won the Florida Straw Poll. However much of a joke he might have seemed at first he’s no laughing matter now…

What’s wrong?

… OK, maybe we spoke too soon. Can a businessman really run a country? Probably not. Everyone was panicking that he’d bring his managerial approach to the country and that everything would come to a stand-still.

Other problems include the fact that he didn’t know enough about politics. He made stupid gaffes about taxation and foreign policy. Particularly during the Republican debate he was torn apart by his opponents who, for better or for worse, definitely know their stuff more than he knew his.

Not only did he not know enough about politics, he didn’t know enough politics. When Obama first thought about running for President, he was in Harvard Law School and he published his first book, Dreams from My Father. In the 12 years between this book and being elected, he published three more books. The point is that the majority of a campaign is done well in advance of declaring yourself in the race. Herman Cain was desperately trying to play catch up by peddling his own new book whilst simultaneously running his campaign.

Michelle Bachmann

There isn’t much to say about this Congresswoman from Minnesota. The only really notable thing she did was the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act and she keeps reminding people of how valuable that was.

Bachmann wins a few points as the only remaining female Republican candidate (turns out that still no one wants Palin in the White House) but that’s about it.

What’s wrong?

Hmmm … well it’s hard to say that she is even less informed that Palin, but then again it’s hard not to. Her gaffe reel on YouTube is ridiculous. My personal favourite is her accusation that Obama deploying troops to Libya is dangerous as he may well now deploy troops to Africa. Closely followed by her belief that the Soviet Union still exists!

Perhaps though she was doomed from the start, by her ties to the infamous Tea Party. This is the party that Morgan Freeman called racist (questionable) and that people have long since admitted is outdated. Those who don’t think it’s outdated think that it lacks direction and central leadership. It’s a wing of the Republican Party that lots of people are trying hard to ignore.

Bachmann struggled in debates and has failed to motivate the kind of grassroots campaign she needed to go anywhere.

Ron Paul

Yes, this is the guy Bruno tried to seduce. Ron Paul is a Congressman from Texas and is possibly the most controversial candidate in the Republican race, but not necessarily in a bad way.

Paul was a certified Doctor before he entered Politics. He then went into public service after reading about the Austrian School of Economics.

He is a self-described Libertarian which, for many, is a scary term. Paul’s use of the term basically advocates a commitment to Mill’s style Liberalism, allowing people freedom to live their lives however they want so long as they don’t harm anyone else.

This has encouraged policies such as abandoning the social war on drug use. He has some very good reasons for this policy but people are unlikely to listen to this before hurling abuse.

What’s wrong?

Libertarianism scares people! Its hard to be the rational political candidate when you’re fighting the popular political candidates. Especially people like Romney.

Paul has been largely ignored by the media for much of the campaign. Reasons for this are varied but the biggest is that each network has an interest in who they want to win the nomination, and not one of them is backing Ron Paul.

Does anyone remember John McCain, or more accurately, why he lost? He was the old renegade and no one really liked that image, right? Well, Ron Paul is even older and even more of a renegade. The Republicans aren’t about to risk a failed strategy twice.

Perhaps this doesn’t belong here but its important; Ron Paul has enjoyed support from a new source recently. Former Democrats who are either disenchanted with Obama or value Ron Paul’s ideas have started to register as Republicans in order to vote for Ron Paul. There are a particularly high number of young voters in this epidemic. Will it be enough to save Paul’s campaign though?

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Discussion6 Comments

  1. avatar

    I hope Ron Paul gets it… I started following some of his policies before the last election and he just seems like such a level headed guy. I suppose I’m quite liberal, so I would agree with him… but he just seems to be more about the science and what’s best for people, rather than the usual ‘politics’. Best of luck to him.

    Really good article, Will. Great catchup on it all 🙂

    Samuel Gilonis
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    Being liberal explains your support for by far the most right-wing candidate?

    Matty
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    He’s not right wing. He’s Center up. Classic Liberalism, before it became and ignorant, jealous moaning position.

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