The candidate I endorsed has withdrawn; now, whom do I pick?

As our long-term readers are aware, your editor endorsed Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) for the Republican Presidential nomination early on in the process. I still believe that Governor Perry is just the kind of man we need for President: a strong conservative with real executive experience, leading a state which has led the nation in job creation for several years.

Unfortunately, while Mr Perry might make a good President, it became apparent that he didn't make a good presidential candidate: he flubbed up in several debates, and even though his debate performances got much better toward the end, the damage had been done. And earlier today, Governor Perry dropped out of the race.


Perry Abandons Presidential Bid


By Carol E Lee And Neil King, Jr, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

COLUMBIA, S.C.—Texas Gov. Rick Perry dropped out of the presidential race Thursday and threw his support behind Newt Gingrich for the Republican nomination.

Mr. Perry, speaking at a news conference, said he saw no viable path forward and was therefore suspending his campaign and endorsing Mr. Gingrich.

The endorsement came just as polls suggested that Mr. Gingrich was closing in on front-runner Mitt Romney in South Carolina ahead of the state's primary on Saturday.

Mr. Perry said that while he and Mr. Gingrich have had their differences, he believed Mr. Gingrich was the Republican candidate who best represented “bold and conservative leadership.”

“I believe Newt is a conservative visionary who can transform our country,” Mr. Perry said, with his wife, Anita, at his side. “We've had our differences, which campaigns inevitably have, and Newt is not perfect, but who among us is?”

Mr. Gingrich said he was humbled by Mr. Perry's endorsement and urged the governor's South Carolina supporters—while a small percentage of GOP voters—to support his candidacy.

More at the link.

I can't say that this is much of a surprise: Governor Perry has pretty much pinned whatever hopes he had of staging a comeback on the South Carolina primary, and it just wasn't happening for him.

For your editor, this leaves a bit of a quandary: with my preferred candidate out, whom should I support? When I was first looking at the candidates, I had three criteria in mind:

  1. Someone with strong executive experience;
  2. Someone with strong conservative values; and
  3. Someone who could defeat President Obama.

Using those three criteria, Rick Perry seemed to me to be the only man who fit all three. However, while it's possible that he could have beaten President Obama — something we'll never know now — one thing he couldn't do was beat the other Republican candidates.

We have just four candidates remaining: former Governor Mitt Romney (D-MA), former Representative Newt Gingrich (R-GA), former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), and Representative Ron Paul (R-TX).

Of those four, only Mitt Romney has any significant executive experience; none of the other three have ever run anything in their lives. However, Mr Romney lacks one thing that Messrs Gingrich and Santorum certainly have, a record of strong, conservative values. Dr Paul is certainly conservative on some things, but his isolationist world view is simply impractical.

Which of these four men can defeat President Obama? Of course, no one can know until the nominee actually takes on the President, but it is my judgement that Dr Paul simply could not. Ron Paul has raised some interesting issues, but, in my criteria, he fails on the first and third criteria, and is only partially in the second one. If he winds up winning the nomination, I will vote for him, but I know that President Obama would win re-election.

Of the remaining three, the conventional wisdom has Mr Romney as the one with the greatest probability of defeating the President, but the conventional wisdom has been wrong before. However, based upon what I've seen in the campaign thus far, one thing is clear: Mr Romney's campaign organization has shown itself to be superior to either Mr Gingrich's or Mr Santorum's, and really better than anyone else's. I'd note that only Mr Romney and Dr Paul qualified for the Virginia primary ballot, because the campaign organizations of the other candidates couldn't manage to meet a standard that Dennis Kucinich and Fred Thompson managed to meet in 2008; that speaks very poorly of their ability to defeat President Obama.

Right now, my only qualm with Governor Romney is that I have serious doubts about his conservative credentials. If you read his positions on his campaign website, they are fine, very much in line with conservative Republican ideas. But as a Senate candidate in Massachusetts, in 1994, he was specifically pro-abortion, and his 2006 “Commonwealth Care” state-run health care program in Massachusetts specifically provided state taxpayer support for abortions. Perhaps that was simply unavoidable in very liberal Massachusetts, but I do not like it, not one little bit.

However, I would note that then-Governor Ronald Reagan (R-CA), on July 14, 1967, signed the Therapeutic Abortion Act into law. Under that law, legal abortions in the Golden State rose from 518 in 1967 to over 100,000 per year. Governor Reagan believed that, had he vetoed the bill, his veto would have been overridden by the state legislature, and:

he decided to do what he could to make the bill less harmful, arguing for the insertion of certain language that eliminated its worst features and allowed for abortion only in rare cases — such a

s rape or incest, or where pregnancy would gravely impair the physical or mental health of the mother.

Naturally, the “mental health” exception was thoroughly abused, and became an exception for everything. Whether this article, written many years after the fact, is really accurate, or involves some postmortem scrubbing of President Reagan’s history I do not know. Would a veto have been over-ridden? We don’t know, because he never tried. If he was opposed to abortion then, and he believed it would have been worse had he vetoed the bill, could he have not let it become law without his signature? Maybe such a consideration never entered his mind.

And we have had a few other switches of position concerning abortion, with the elder George Bush being one of the more famous. The elder President Bush didn’t get much of an opportunity to do much on the issue, save with two Supreme Court appointments, and there he had one bad one — David Souter — and one truly excellent one, Clarence Thomas.

There were, however, rather more years between their switches than what we’ve seen with Governor Romney, who signed the Commonwealth Care Act into law in 2006, and was pro-life by 2007, when he started to run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. Is he pro-life, pro-abortion, or simply pro-convenience, his convenience? I simply do not know.

Now, if Messrs Gingrich or Santorum seemed to me like top-flight candidates, it would be an easy choice to back one of them. However, I have serious reservations about both. I live in the Keystone State, and I saw just how pathetically Senator Santorum campaigned in his failed 2006 re-election campaign, losing to Bob Casey. Mr Casey's had a political history in Pennsylvania, being the son of a former Governor, but Mr Casey, when he ran for the 2002 gubernatorial nomination, was trounced by Mayor Ed Rendell of Philadelphia. Mr Casey, now Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), was very beatable, but Senator Santorum couldn't do it. And if he couldn't beat Bob Casey, I have a difficult time seeing how he'd beat Barack Obama.

Which leaves Newt Gingrich. I clearly trust Mr Gingrich's stated political philosophy to actually be what he believes; I have few worries that Mr Gingrich, as President, would be a flip-flopper. But while Mr Gingrich was a true revolutionary leader, leading the Republicans from their forty years in the wilderness to the majorities in both Houses of Congress in the 1994 elections, in history, revolutionary leaders have often proved themselves to be far less capable of governing well once they win their revolutions.

So it was with Speaker Gingrich. The Republican-controlled 104th Congress accomplished some significant things . . . but Speaker Gingrich's leadership allowed President Clinton to take the credit for them. Where President Clinton decided to be strongly opposed to Speaker Gingrich's proposals, the President beat him like a drum. In 1998, when the Republicans were trying to impeach President Clinton, and the Speaker had an agreement from the Democrats for a censure of the President, Mr Gingrich went ahead with an impeachment that everybody in the country knew would not succeed, because removal of the President would have required the votes of twelve Democratic senators. That, to me, demonstrated very poor judgement. All that Mr Gingrich accomplished there was to lead the Republicans to a hitherto unexpected loss of seats in the 1998 elections. I am concerned that Rick Santorum has no executive experience, and might not be able to handle the job of President, but we've seen how Mr Gingrich handles real leadership responsibilities, and the answer is: not well. He wouldn't, he couldn't, be worse than President Obama in that regard, because our current President is simply inept, but a conservative President who can't achieve his goals isn't all that much of a plus for us.

Which brings me right back to Mitt Romney. I am unsure just how conservative he really is. However, there is a fourth point which gives me a lot of hope concerning the man: along with having been a successful governor, he was also a successful private businessman, and he rescued the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics from a near-crushing failure due to internal corruption. He understands business, he understands economics, and he understands what government needs to do to help our economy, and that's stay out of the way of free enterprise to the maximum extent possible. 83% of Americans in this country who have jobs work in the private sector, whether as sole proprietors, for small businesses or large corporations. If we want to have more jobs in this country, what we need to do is make this country as friendly as possible to free enterprise and the sector which actually creates new jobs. President Obama and the Democrats see corporations as just a source of tax dollars, but seem to turn up their noses at the idea that the private sector is where American jobs are; the denial of the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline clearly demonstrates that the President, after just a day less than three years in office, still doesn't understand where jobs are created, or just doesn't care. My guess is that Messrs Gingrich and Santorum would not have cancelled the pipeline either, but what they know from books and from reading about economics, Mr Romney knows from personal experience, from being in business.

I am not happy that Mr Romney is our best remaining candidate, but, in my judgement, that is exactly what he is. He certainly isn't perfect — no human being has been perfect for almost 2000 years — but the voters have winnowed the field, and the man I thought would make the best President was one of those winnowed out. The Republican nominee will not be Rick Perry, whom I wanted to win. The Republican nominee will not be Sarah Palin, whom John Hitchcock wanted to win; she declined to run at all. Republican nominee will not be Mitch Daniels or Jon Huntsman or Chris Christie or Michele Bachmann. The Republican nominee will be one of the four men running for the office right now, and it is from those four we must choose our candidate. None of them meet all of the criteria I have for selecting a candidate, so I must take a decision based on the one I believe would make the best candidate and the best President.

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12 Comments

  1. Of the four remaining, who do the radical Liberals want the Republicans to choose (knowing full well they will never vote for him)? Don’t pick him.

    Of the four remaining, who is an absolute nutball on foreign policy and very clearly and historically anti-Israel? Don’t pick him.

    That leaves Santorum and Gingrich, neither of which have me all that excited. But of the two, who has the better record of Conservative achievement in DC? Who forced Clinton to triangulate and assume much of the Republican agenda as his own? That leaves ony Gingrich.

    That said, I’m still not certain Gingrich should be the one over Santorum. But I know a Romney win (especially in the General) is death to Conservatives, because Romney never was nor ever will be a Conservative, but Liberals (which includes 99 percent of the Mainstream Media) won’t let that stop them from proclaiming him as such. And I also know a Paulnut win in the General would guarantee the annihilation of our sovereignty and sway in the world, and most likely, multiple major preventable catastrophes that would dwarf 9/11 in our future, and the near-death experience of Israel in its future (which is bound to happen, as prophesied, but we needn’t make it quite yet).

    But I agree, a Paul win in the Primaries would guarantee an Obama win in the General, because far too many Conservatives, myself included, would immediately jump to a Third Party candidate, preventing any opportunity for Paul to win the General.

    Also, Palin’s non-endorsement endorsement of Gingrich, Perry’s outright endorsement of Gingrich, over 100 TEA Party leaders’ endorsements of Gingrich should carry a bit of weight among Conservatives.

  2. All that said, I’m still leaning toward endorsing Gingrich over Santorum because I believe he has the better chance to quickly close the deal for Conservatives over the absolute squish, 3 sides of every issue, ObamaCare grandfather, Willard Romney, and finally consolidate the votes of the Conservatives for one man, over a man whom most of the Republicans don’t want.

  3. Mr Hitchcock wrote:

    Also, Palin’s non-endorsement endorsement of Gingrich, Perry’s outright endorsement of Gingrich, over 100 TEA Party leaders’ endorsements of Gingrich should carry a bit of weight among Conservatives.

    It’s clear that I would have fewer worries about either Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum jumping ship on conservative philosophy, and going all “compassionate conservative” on me, but I have far more serious reservations about their abilities to do the job of President if they ever become President; we’ve already seen what a disaster it has been to put a man with no executive experience at all in that office: he didn’t know what he was doing when he became President, and in three years — three years today, as it happens — he hasn’t gotten any better. When he had Rahm Emanuel doing the heavy lifting for him at the beginning, his Administration was a bit more effective in getting things done — albeit, getting bad things done! — but now, he can’t seem to get anything done save those things in which he has unchecked authority, and even there, he’s taking bad decisions, from canceling the Keystone XL pipeline (and its thousands of new jobs) to his handling of Iran (where he has taken the one guaranteed way of preventing Iran from building atomic bombs off the table and been weak in his response to Iran’s threatened closure of the Strait of Hormuz) to the economy in general (where all he wants to do is add new regulations to hinder business and invest in pie-in-the-sky.)

    Rick Santorum has no executive experience at all, and Newt Gingrich’s leadership experience didn’t turn out all that well: the things he did get accomplished, he let President Clinton take credit for, and his bad moves had disastrous consequences for conservatives.

  4. Hitch is right. Santorum’s an also-ran, it’s Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich and both are unacceptable for a long list of different reasons among which are Romney’s refusal to repudiate RomneyCare in Massachusetts, and Newt’s public support for Dede Scozzafava before she dropped out, endorsed the Democrat candidate, and registered as a Democrat.

    Nether Newt or Mitt is a reliable Conservative, both are squishy GOP establishment Republicans (Mitt’s close to being a RINO), but either one should be able to lower taxes, cut spending, reduce regulation, and restore representative government.

    Dana, take your pick for the top spot, or hold out for a brokered convention, but if you just can’t get off the fence, consider the option Mitt and Newt might make a pretty good team.

  5. ropelight suggested:

    Dana, take your pick for the top spot, or hold out for a brokered convention, but if you just can’t get off the fence, consider the option Mitt and Newt might make a pretty good team.

    Actually, that might not be a bad idea: Newt Gingrich as Vice President would also be President of the Senate, and he has a demonstrated ability to be able to lead a legislative body, both when he has a parliamentary majority or is in the minority. He might be able to really get the Republican senators in line better than Senator McConnell.

    And everyone expects the Vice Presidential nominee to be the attack dog during the campaign. In a debate, he’d mop the floor with Joe Biden.

    How much influence he’d have on Mitt Romney with Mr Romney as te President, I don’t know, but when George Bush strayed too far off the reservation with the Harriet Miers nomination, conservatives were able to bring him back into the fold, and we got a truly top-notch justice in Samuel Alito out of that.

  6. I would like to make one valid argument to Mr. Hitchcock’s excellent post, (and Mr. Editor’s) concerning Mitt Romney, specifically the state in which Romney was governor—one of the most liberal states in the union. Romney did not have control of any state legislature during his tenure. Indeed, to be a “Republican” elected in this state had to require that Romney cater/compromise many of his values and principles to achieve the position. All policies, (and ideologies) HAD to pass muster in a completely liberal environment. My point here is, if Romney were to become President, (especially with a Republican House and Senate), he would certainly NOT have to compromise with the liberals any longer to provide conservative ideas, free market principles, or respecting the Constitution “as written”. His credentials in his private sector leads me to believe, (or hope to believe), the man would embrace the business model of keeping the federal regulators in check, while insuring the market-based principles of free enterprise and an investor friendly atmosphere. Did Romney compromise his social and fiscal policies in Massachusetts? Most certainly. But, he does not have to, (and I believe will not), when leading as a President. We can judge Romney (justifiably) on his past record. Could we trust that he would govern differently in a non-liberal environment? And, most importantly, could he defeat President Obama? The idea of a “pure conservative” Tea Party Presidential candidate is not a reality that can be achieved in this election cycle even if this is what we all want. Do we then (while choosing not to compromise), cede the office to Obama for four more years—which will inevitably add two or three more liberal justices to the Supreme Court—or could we compromise to prevent this disaster, and press on electing more local and state Conservative Republicans that embrace our ideals? If our long range goal is to put an end to this liberal ideology of a socialist big government in control of our daily lives, then assuring that Obama does not serve another term IS THE SHORT RANGE GOAL. If this is our quest, then the best person suited will be the one that can defeat Obama, not the one that best suits our perception of what he should be.

  7. I understand that you folks are having a little family discussion here, but you all know that I would feel compelled to throw in a few words.

    I honestly do not think that either Romney or Gingrich are competent to be our next President. Gingrich, though he is certainly bright and experienced regarding the operations of our government, he does not have the temperament or the character to be a respected leader. His explosion last night when the character issue was raised is just the latest example. Moreover, Santorum bore witness to his awful leadership style: he was there! On Romney, not only is he a serial flipflopper, he has no feel for the needs of the middle and the poor. His saying the $374K speaking fees last year is just one of many indicators. Neither man is very high in the principles category.

    They will face President Obama who, despite his lack of business experience, has managed his Presidency very well indeed, which you all know down deep but will never admit, because you despise his politics and hate him personally. Tell me if you think I am wrong about that. Here is a synopsis of the Obama Presidency written very well, using factual information laced with opinion, by a fiscal conservative who believes in limited government, and is a classic libertarian on social issues. I suggest you read it through with a clear mind.

    I am hoping that in the privacy of the voting booth next November, that you will cast your vote based on reason, not on ideological rhetoric unhelpful to the current serious needs of our country. Of all times, we need a President with a vision, a President who takes a long view to issues and their solutions. Without this kind of a leader, without this leader, we will founder, in my view. Additionally, we do not have the time to wait for a new leader to come up to speed, let alone change everything back to demonstrably failed policies.

  8. Brokenwheel presents a reasonable rationale for Conservatives to rally around Mitt Romney. However, I cannot let this comment go by without comment, because it exhibits what I believe to be a serious flaw in Conservatives’ idea of governing, which we have been witnessing most prominently since President Obama took office. Here is what Brokenwheel wrote:

    “My point here is, if Romney were to become President, (especially with a Republican House and Senate), he would certainly NOT have to compromise with the liberals any longer to provide conservative ideas, free market principles, or respecting the Constitution “as written””

    This continuing uncompromising, absolutist rhetoric represents a continuation on the path to oligarchy and eventual anarchy in response.

    With this approach in place and followed, the middle and poor will have less of a word in their government, wealth will continue its movement into the hands of the 1%, more money will be devoted to the DoD, we will be involved in a war with Iran in short order, social security, Medicaid and Medicare will be severely curtailed, and we will be losing many more private sector jobs due to the imposed severe austerity imposed on the rest of us.

    How do I know this? The Republican candidates have been campaigning on these issues in this manner throughout the campaign!

  9. Wagonwheel, provide 5 non-Liberal sources to back up your claim that Republicans have been campaigning on the issues of destroying the poor and middle class. You cannot back up your blatant lies with any sourcing and you know it.

    If you ever want an intelligent debate, you are going to have to find a surrogate to do your debating for you, because you have proven you cannot provide your side of an intelligent debate, ever. At least three years of historical record proves you are incapable of such.

  10. “Wagonwheel, provide 5 non-Liberal sources to back up your claim that Republicans have been campaigning on the issues of destroying the poor and middle class. You cannot back up your blatant lies with any sourcing and you know it.”

    The sourcing, Mr Hitchcock, is to be found in the policies on which your party is campaigning, as I just mentioned. So your need to reread my last post.

    As far as lying, Mr Hitchcock, I have told you before that disagreeing with you does not constitute lying, except in your absolutist mind. That has been apparent as long as I have participated in the same blog as you. So when you call me a liar, I simply slough it off, knowing the source, a seemingly profoundly confused and disturbed individual, seemingly consumed with hatred for those with whom he disagrees.

  11. “Wagonwheel, provide 5 non-Liberal sources to back up your claim that Republicans have been campaigning on the issues of destroying the poor and middle class. You cannot back up your blatant lies with any sourcing and you know it.”

    The sourcing, Mr Hitchcock, is to be found in the policies on which your party is campaigning, as I just mentioned.

    So, you refuse to give any sourcing for your outright lies? And you expect us to actually believe anything you say to be accurate in any way? While you demand, absolutely demand, sourcing for anything we say, including responses to the mutterings you provide and refuse to source yourself? And you expect to be allowed into actual adult conversations with your absolute double standards? It is to laugh.

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