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Archive for Monday, May 16, 2011

GOP still seeking strong candidate

May 16, 2011

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— Stand in the center of this famous old town and look to the north. There’s Mount Washington with its early-May mantle of white clinging to the ravines. Look to the east and there’s Mount Cranmore, the storied ski hill still with traces of snow. All about there is the feeling that the transition to the new season hasn’t quite arrived.

So it is with the political season that is beginning in this state, for six decades the site of the first presidential primary. The struggle for the Republican presidential nomination hasn’t really begun. Indeed the field, like so many of the old farms along the rural byways, seems almost empty right now.

In other years when the political field seemed incomplete, there was a giant on the sidelines, contemplating his options. One time it was California Gov. Pete Wilson, another it was Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson. Both Republicans were duds once real campaigning began in North Country towns like this and in the cities and suburbs to the south. Once it was New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo. In the end, a plane destined for Concord, N.H., to file campaign papers never took off, and so the Cuomo campaign didn’t take off either.

This time is different. There is no giant abroad in the land, weighing a campaign, consulting pollsters and fundraisers about his prospects. The main figure in that position isn’t a giant at all, but a diminutive man with an iron will and a gold-plated resume, Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana, whose prospects shot up when a truly large figure, the husky Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, stepped aside.

There’s another reason this time is different. It’s the utterly changed landscape since the slaying of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in a Pakistan mansion where he hid in plain sight. Now President Barack Obama seems like a giant killer, in part because he ordered the killing of a giant figure — perhaps the biggest so far of the 21st century.

Where once the president seemed weak, indecisive, even lacking in audacity — I wrote these things myself only some weeks ago — now he seems strong, decisive, audacious. Where once he seemed overwhelmed by the problems that came to his in-box, he now seems confident and efficient in dealing with them and perhaps even ready to begin some new initiatives of his own.

There has been no more dramatic a transformation of an American president in decades. Ones that come close include Gerald R. Ford’s pardon of Richard M. Nixon, which worked to his disadvantage in the polls but not in history; Nixon’s trips to China and Soviet Russia, which worked to his advantage both in the polls and in history; and Harry Truman’s firing of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, which now is regarded as having re-established one of the bedrock principles of American civic life.

The other major effect of the bin Laden killing is to diminish some of the peripheral figures on Republican lists, especially businessman and television figure Donald Trump, who was transformed from caricature to cartoon in a few hours’ time.

I have argued in this space that the eventual challenger to Obama will rise in stature and in prospects merely by possessing the Republican presidential nomination. I still believe that. But Joel Goldfield, the St. Louis University political scientist, maintains that major party candidates who win their nominations against a weak or depleted field may be inherently weaker in general elections than those who prevail over a stronger field.

The best example: John F. Kennedy was able to defeat Richard M. Nixon in 1960 in part because he defeated a formidable group of opponents, including Hubert H. Humphrey, Lyndon B. Johnson and Stuart Symington. The same was true of Ronald Reagan, whose 1980 campaign against Jimmy Carter was enhanced because he was able to defeat such rivals as Senate Minority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr., former director of central intelligence George H.W. Bush, former Treasury Secretary John Connally and former GOP vice presidential nominee Bob Dole.

“A strong field greatly helps the candidate who ultimately gets the nomination,” says Scott Reed, who managed Dole’s later campaign, when he won the 1996 GOP nomination only to be defeated by President Bill Clinton. “It makes him or her more substantive, more knowledgeable and more capable in the general-election fight. It really helps to be tested in the primary and caucus season. It’s a great warm-up for the general election — and it’s one of the few big advantages you can’t buy.”

True — as long as the fight isn’t vicious and long, in which case, as James A. Johnson, who managed Walter F. Mondale’s 1984 campaign, argues, “The strong field emphasizes everybody’s weakness, because a strong field is about differentiation.”

Still, the Republicans seem to be seeking the presence of someone else. This new figure — and his or her identity still seems unknown — would have plenty to run on, the bin Laden episode notwithstanding.

The public is frantic about gasoline prices, which are in the $4-per-gallon range. The success against al-Qaida hasn’t brought any sense of bipartisanship to Capitol Hill, nor any realistic prospect of attacking a deficit that seems incomprehensible and a set of entitlements that seem insupportable.

So while the president isn’t home free yet, the Republican search continues.

Republicans control 29 of the nation’s governors’ offices, but none besides Daniels is widely known. The situation is the same in the Senate, where Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida are perhaps the most appealing names, but Rubio has stepped aside and Dr. Paul’s father already is running. So for now — perhaps for a while — the GOP wait continues.

— David Shribman is executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Comments

jayhawklawrence 2 years, 11 months ago

The best Republican candidate is DeMint because he is so honest and sincere. But he is immature as a candidate. I think he knows it.

For DeMint it starts with his religious conviction.

I do respect this man. He may be the best of the bunch.

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tolawdjk 2 years, 11 months ago

Would the Governator's ten year old child of infidelity have a room at the White House?

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yourworstnightmare 2 years, 11 months ago

At this stage, Mitt Romney is clearly the only GOP candidate who would stand a chance in the general election.

However, Rom-bama-care is a big issue for him, as is his mormon religion.

Too bad the Governator was born in Austria and not the USA.

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oldbaldguy 2 years, 11 months ago

We are screwed both parties are out to retain power. They cater to their base and not the rest of us. Both are firmly in the pockets of lobbyists. Obama promised change. Anybody seen it yet? Except for the National Healthcare act, there would probably be no difference with McCain in office.

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tolawdjk 2 years, 11 months ago

Right now, the best republican option in the one that keeps his or her mouth shut. Gingrich is dead on delivery. I've read and reread what he said on Sunday and I just can't help but wonder what he was thinking.

And then his damage control yesterday was beyond befuddling. To blame it on gotcha media, or not enough time to fully explain an answer...the question was asked, and the words came out of his mouth. I'm not quite sure how you justify all of that.

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overplayedhistory 2 years, 11 months ago

It sucks when your most viable possibilities wont survive the litmus test by the facts are inconvenient crowd in Iowa.

I love how the two best options are Mormon. Karma sucks, the intellectuals in the party have been manipulating the Christian Quacks to their 1% of the population agenda for so long, now they have to suck on the seeds they have sown.

Take it from an ex Catholic, they do not under any circumstances consider Mormons to be Christian.

Maybe you could get the Koch Bros. to help a broad appeal non-Christian candidate build a huge ethanol facility in Iowa. Better get creative to circumvent the crazy Christians.

What is a party to do when the population of brown people and non believers are on the rise? Gosh, I guess a free condoms program might of been a wise business investment. Then again, since the word investment has been removed from the business party's vocabulary and replaced by the dirty words spending and taxes, it is no wonder your business is having problems.

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Kontum1972 2 years, 11 months ago

what about Arnold ....the Gov?

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Kontum1972 2 years, 11 months ago

The Fantasy is accepting applications for dancers.

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beatrice 2 years, 11 months ago

What if they just didn't run a candidate? Imagine if they put all their effort into Congress. I have no idea if would be beneficial, but it might be the best move the GOP could do right now.

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jayhawklawrence 2 years, 11 months ago

What the Republicans need to do is demonstrate some character. That's what McCain did today when he spoke out against the use of torture.

Some of them might be salvaged but most belong somewhere else.

If the party begins to splinter into separate groups they might have a chance to make a fresh start and dump some baggage.

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 11 months ago

Jeb Bush is the favorite son. He will show up late in the game to avoid scrutiny while millions upon millions in corporate special interest money are blown which BTW increases our cost of living.

Suddenly Jeb Bush will just happen to come into big time election money.

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Paul R Getto 2 years, 11 months ago

Beck/Palin in 2012: It's a no brainer.

I think they will get stuck with Mitt, just like they did with the Senator from Arizona. Obama can win, if he runs a good campaign.

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yourworstnightmare 2 years, 11 months ago

Ron Paul also wants to:

-eliminate the Federal Reserve. -eliminate medicare, medicaid, and social security. -eliminate public education. -eliminate jobs training. -eliminate the Departments of Education, Energy, HUD, EPA, HHS, and really almost every one, except for maybe Defense.

Ron Paul is a radical ideologue whose religion is libertarianism. He is irrational, combative, refractory to reality, and angry, like most dogmatists.

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wtfusa 2 years, 11 months ago

Ron Paul is the best candidate for America right now. We are fighting a racist drug war that literally fills our prisons and jails with non violent offenders. We are spending trillions overseas with foreign aid and pointless invasions of countries like Libya. There is no respect of private property, and we are subjected routinely to unconstitutional searches and gropings. Lastly our current generation of retirees is focused on destroying the futures and freedoms of our youth that do not need central planning to live their lives.

Look, if Ron Paul becomes President our country is not going to get rid of all social programs and business regulations. Congress will always prevent that, but we will make a major step towards common sense governance.

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jafs 2 years, 11 months ago

"But for" any number of things, the mess wouldn't have happened.

But for greed and stupidity,... But for credit rating agencies being paid by issuers of securities,... But for the ability to bundle, securitize, and sell sub-prime backed mortgage securities,... But for the lack of regulation of bank-like entities,...

Etc.

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ibroke 2 years, 11 months ago

george bush is the cause of-global warming the libian conflict the flooding in the south the crappy programming on tv the cold weather this spring rising gas prices the pirates that hijack ships my water bill going up my sore knees the wrecks on 10 hwy my computer crashing my clock stopping anyone becoming a homeless person my toilet stopped working Add here____

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yourworstnightmare 2 years, 11 months ago

The problem with the GOP is that their base is so extreme that any candidate that appeals to that base looks like a joke to the majority of Americans.

At the same time, GOP candidates that might have wide appeal would never win in a primary dominated by the extreme GOP base.

It will be interesting to witness the uncomfortable double speak flip-flopping as the GOP try to balance these two factors.

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tolawdjk 2 years, 11 months ago

I still can't believe Gingrich threw Ryan under the bus like he did. I don't think I have ever seen a launch and self torpedo happen any faster.

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Liberty_One 2 years, 11 months ago

Vote for Ron Paul, the only peace candidate running in either party.

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somedude20 2 years, 11 months ago

No no, you guys have great candidates already! Gingrich, Palin,Trump, Paul (yes he is), Santorum (he is a good one) and Bachmann. With that cast of characters even Rupaul would stand of beating them. Caribou Barbie will bring you the change you want!!!!! Maybe Newt and Caribou could cheat on their partners with each other and form the perfect ticket

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jayhawklawrence 2 years, 11 months ago

The problem with the Republicans is not a lack of Pizazz or personality as in the so called stiffness of Romney. The problem is that their political ideology is out of touch with reality, their rhetoric is not reasonable or rational and their political stars look more like cartoon characters than real people.

Everybody knows that all they want to do is get rid of taxes and social programs by demonizing social safety nets and praising tax cuts as the absolute way to fix everything.

When I see people on Fox news, oftentimes, young highly educated people, saying that tax cuts increase revenue then I know I am listening to people who are brainwashed.

Here is the skinny on tax cuts according to FactCheck.

http://www.factcheck.org/taxes/supply-side_spin.html

http://www.factcheck.org/here_we_go_again_bush_exaggerates_tax.html

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BornAgainAmerican 2 years, 11 months ago

Remember that Obama was relatively unknown at this time in '07 and few gave him a chance to win the Democratic nomination. Of course, he was not properly vetted by the Liberal biased press and his talent for lying and pandering won the day. A strong Republican candidate may yet emerge and blow this poor excuse for a leader out of the water. One can only hope. God have mercy if we continue down the road to European style Socialism.

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jayhawklawrence 2 years, 11 months ago

I don't know if our society can handle Phase II of a Republican style economic stimulus of gutting social programs and slashing taxes.

It seems like this is the foundation of their political ideology wrapped in moral platitudes.

Looking at the damage that Bush did I worry about the future.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 11 months ago

The power of the incumbency has always been strong and should be again. I'd put he chances of a Republican beating Obama at no more than 10%.

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mloburgio 2 years, 11 months ago

cato you have such a short memory, we would not be in this mess if not for gw bush. you have to give credit where credits due cato. How George Bush Destroyed The U.S. Economy

...And The Congress That Let Him

September 27. 2007

Record Number Of Citizens Lose Their Homes To Foreclosure

This year a record 3 MILLION Americans have lost their homes, breeding the worst mortgage crisis in U.S. history that George Bush does not have the mental capacity to fix.

Said mortgage crisis has caused foreign banks with a culminated trillions in assets to pull out of American financial institutions, freeze assets abroad and adopt a, "We're not lending you anymore money until we see where this crisis is going" attitude. U.S. Dollar Declines Banking Industry Allowed To Gouge And Swindle Citizens Terrible Economic Ripple Effect Higher Cost Of Living Bad Credit Industries In Trouble Home Builders Going Under Furniture Stores In Financial Straits Farmers Unemployment Bush Administration Accused Of Rigging Big Tobacco Verdicts Enron ThBad Financial Ideas Senate agrees to raise U.S. credit limit Not to mention two unfunded wars Unfunded medicare d. And i can go on and on with more truth about bush. Bush quote, " i screwed everything up, but thanks for blaming the black guy" http://www.judiciaryreport.com/how_george_bush_destroyed_the_US_economy.htm

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 11 months ago

Obama's "bounce" in the polls has all but disappeared, the unemployment rate is still 9.4%, the underemployment rate is 19.4% and the housing market continues to receive bad news on almost a daily basis. A good Republican candidate could knock Obama off the map, but one still has yet to be found.

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