December 01, 2006

2008 GOP Field May Be Slim Pickings For Conservatives

Yes, it's 21 months before Republicans pick their next Presidential nominee in the Twin Cities. But in this current era of politics, campaigns for the next election start, almost literally, the day after the last one. And as of now, the three declared candidates (officially and unofficially) are Sen. John McCain, NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and MA Gov. Mitt Romney. And considering the early steps that they're taking, they are getting a jump at hiring the best campaign staff and attracting the early funding.

John Hinderaker at Powerline gives his assessment:

McCain has a conservative voting record, but is widely mistrusted by the Republican base because of his support for restrictions on citizen political activity, his occasional squishiness on issues like tax cuts, and his general willingness to sell out the party when it suits his purposes.

Giuliani is widely admired for his solid stance on the war on terror, his history as a crimefighter, and his leadership qualities and administrative talents. But Giuliani is a social liberal. Not a moderate, a liberal. I can live with that, as long as I'm convinced he will be solid on judges. But can the Republican base? I don't know.

Romney is an impressive guy in many ways, but a relative newcomer to the national scene. His positions on the social issues appear to have "evolved" since he ran for Governor of Massachusetts. And his Mormon faith may turn out to be an issue; I don't know.

In other words, for the GOP's base, each of these front-runners would represent a compromise nominee. George Allen is done and Bill Frist is out. Yes, there is Newt - the Conservative dahling - but as Hinderaker notes he just carries too much baggage: "As someone memorably said, Newt's flaw is that he has never in his life had an unspoken thought. That's fine for an idea man, which is what Gingrich has become since leaving Congress; not so fine in a Presidential candidate."

There are other credible Conservatives out there who can (and will) run but I don't think they'll get very far because the Big Three (as I will refer to McCain, Giuliani and Romney going forward) are already dominating the pursuit of available resources in terms of support, money and campaign infrastructure. The issue of the GWOT will still be of as much importance (perhaps more so) in selecting a Commander-In-Chief in 2008 as it was in 2004. And my guess is that this is what will ultimately unite Republican voters behind a nominee, once the fighting is over.

None of the Big Three are taking anything for granted. And Captain Ed notes that McCain is even poaching support among Republican Governors - Romney's territory.

On the Dems' side there is Hillary and everyone else (mostly candidates who ran before and lost). The x-factor, I suppose, is IL Sen. Barack Obama. NRO's Rich Lowry sees him as a safety net for Democrats who are growing weary of Her Shrillness and all the baggage she brings to the table. But in terms of pure political power, Hillary isn't going to go away and already has everything she needs to claim the mantle in 2008 - everything that is, except the delegates. But she can muscle them to her side during the primaries. As of now, it's her party until she says otherwise. She hasn't spent the last six years padding a resume of Senatorial prestige just to be pushed aside by some untested punk from Illinois.

[Sidebar: This reminds me of the infamous quote from Dr. Evil in the first "Austin Powers" movie: "I didn't spend six years in Evil Medical School to be called 'mister', thank you very much". End Sidebar]

As for the General Election, the winner will depend on the unaffiliateds, the independents, the "moderates". And this is where Hillary has a big disadvantage. These voters are getting sick and tired of having a President that a huge bulk of the population hates. Yes, I mean "hates", as in rage-inducing wrath. During the Nineties you had the Clinton-haters and over the last six years it's been the Bush-haters. So, all things being equal, they will crave the candidate who is the least partisan (or most bi-partisan), the least polarizing and who at least appears to be the most reasonable.

Not convinced? Just approach a friend, relative or acquaintance who is by and large not very politically-charged and start ripping into the most high-profile leaders of either party and watch the "Oh, jeez" eye-rolling. They've had enough of it. In that sense, I think any of the Big Three has a good chance in the General Election. The task for Conservatives is to vote for the one they find most acceptable but line up behind the eventual winner even if he isn't their first choice. The key is electing a Commander-In-Chief who will prosecute the GWOT decisively and aggressively. If we don't have that in January 2009, how much does all the rest really matter?

Posted by: Gary at 09:45 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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