My Presidential Pick
Many influential conservatives, such as Kathleen Parker, Ann Coulter, and of course Sean Hannity, say that the Republican Presidential field one the best in recent years. They point out that our choices include two distinguished Senators, an extremely successful businessman, the best major of a major city in recent memory, and perhaps the most articulate politician in either party. (I am, of course, referring to Mike Huckabee, and if you doubt his charm, take a look at this video). While many Republicans are unenthusiastic about any of these options, many pundits are of the opinion that Republicans should be happy with the candidates they have. They say the current crop of candidates is the best we have had for several election cycles.
That, of course, isn't all that hard. In 2000, it was John McCain against George W. Bush. Neither of these candidates was all that good, especially going on what we knew at the time. (George Bush's inspirational leadership after 9/11 was something of a pleasant surprise for many). In 1996, we had such choices as Bob Dole, Steve Forbes, and Phil Gram, who didn't exactly inspire anyone. And in 1992, are choices were George H.W. Bush, Ross Perot (an Independent, but popular among conservatives), and Pat Buchanan. Nobody to get excited about there.
With Republican precedents like these, it's not really that hard to find a field better than these groups. But even with the campaigns of Republican past as the standard, our present field of candidates is terrible. Some frontrunners are far too liberal, others are unelectable, and others are running decidedly second-rate campaigns. These categories overlap-- some candidates are all three.
Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, and Mitt Romney are all too liberal (in my estimation), to be acceptable nominees. Rudy Giuliani is effective on the issues of crime, fiscal responsibility, and the War on Terror, but is liberal on abortion, global warming, gay rights, gun control, and immigration. In addition, there is little chance he will get the Republican nomination, especially since his drop in Florida polls. Huckabee is good on social issues, but is weak on global warming, foreign policy, taxes, and immigration. Neither of these candidates is a Reagan conservative.
Mitt Romney is seen as a conservative alternative, but a hard look at his record shows him to be a moderate at best. Some say that he has flip-flopped on gun control. He hasn't. He has been a consistent liberal on the issue. He supports the assault weapons ban, as well the Brady Bill.
On immigration, he is equally weak. He supported the Bush-McCain-Reid amnesty bill, calling it reasonable. McCain's support for this proposal sank his campaign. Romney, conversely, managed to keep his support for it under cover until it was brought up by Tim Russert on Meet the Press. Romney is every bit as bad as McCain on illegal immigration.
John McCain is, of course, liberal, but his primary problem is his moribund campaign. The lingering ill will conservatives have felt for him since his 2000 run, plus his support for the shamnesty bill, make his odds of getting the nomination impossibly long.
The only true conservative candidate in the race is Fred Thompson. Unfortunately, his campaign is in worse shape than McCain's. He was masterful as a non-candidate, and did a good job of playing hard to get over the summer. Now, however, he is running a toothless and miserable campaign. He has been reduced from a national frontrunner to one desperately driving across Iowa searching for votes.
The candidate I support is Fred D. Thompson. He is the only candidate out there who fully supports my conservative principles. However, I live in Ohio, so I will vote on March 4. The race at that point will almost certainly consist of two, perhaps three, viable candidates. Given Thompson's recent performance in polls, he will probably not be a viable candidate. Neither will John McCain, my second choice. My options will probably be limited to some combination of Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, and Mitt Romney. The options are a candidate weak on social issues, one weak on fiscal issues, or one weak on immigration and gun control. (Though better on both than Giuliani). Abortion is the most important issue for me. Mike Huckabee will probably get my vote, and will probably also get the nomination. (He leads in Iowa, South Carolina, Michigan, Florida, and nationally). That is depressing.
The only bright spot is the fact that Huckabee may have the best chance of beating Hillary Clinton. Likeability is important in politics, and the candidate the average person would rather go to the ballgame with usually wins. (Bush was more accessible than Kerry or Gore, and Clinton more so than either of his opponents. The last President who would not have easily won the ballgame question was Nixon). The only politician of either party who can even compare with Huckabee's sheer magnetism is Barack Obama. So while Huckabee may not be a conservative, any Republican is better than Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. If Huckabee wins, he would at least keep Hillary out.
(As you read this, keep in mind that the Republican race is very votile, and in two weeks everything could change).