Policy "Pledges" Stacking Up For GOP Candidates

The Republican Party’s 2012 presidential candidates are under pressure from special interest and advocacy groups seeking pledges of support on an expanding list of social agenda and fiscal issues, from short-term vows on debt-ceiling talks to personal promises of pursuing pro-life laws.

Republicans seeking to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012 have been asked to sign at least four pledges: Americans For Tax Reform’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” the Susan B. Anthony List’s “Pro-Life Presidential Leadership Pledge,” the Family Leader’s “14 Point Pro-Marriage Pledge,” and FreedomWorks’ “Cut, Cap, and Balance Pledge.” The pledges are designed to put candidates on the spot and force them to take a stance on key issues, but critics lament their inflexibility and say they have become ideological litmus tests for an increasingly conservative party.

It is a candidate’s choice to sign whatever he or she wants to. No candidate needs to feel tied down to any special interest or advocacy group. In fact, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman has repeatedly pledged in front of crowds to sign no pledges.

“I don’t sign pledges - other than the Pledge of Allegiance and a pledge to my wife,” Huntsman often says at campaign rallies.

Republican frontrunner and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has also taken heat for not signing some of these pledges. Candidates like Romney and Huntsman are looking at the bigger picture.

Signing these pledges will look great in the short-term when competing in the primaries for the GOP nomination. But, when Obama and whoever the Republican candidate is are competing for the votes of centrists, moderates, and independents in the general election next year, I do not understand how the Bachmanns and Santorums of the GOP expect to win over the majority of these voters. Let’s face it, the Republicans always vote Republican and Democrats always vote Democrat; the 10% in the middle decide elections.

Republicans need to prioritize. What are going to be the biggest issues that will take up the spotlight in 2012? They will be the economy, unemployment, and the debt. Even former 2012 hopeful Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels said the GOP needs to call a truce on social issues to focus on the economy. He knows that the GOP will need to unify all voters to get the right people in charge to fix this economy.

That is why signing the Taxpayer Protection pledge and the Cut, Cap, and Balance pledge are no-brainers. With the exception of Huntsman, most other GOP candidates have signed those. But, signing anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage social agenda pledges will only give Obama and the Democrats more ammunition to use against the 2012 GOP candidate when they are competing for centrist votes.

As I have highlighted before (and as CEO Steve Wynn reinforced this week), this administration is the most anti-business administration in a long time, and has enacted policies that have only created uncertainty in the private sector that keep this economy stagnant and unemployment high. The GOP cannot risk angering enough people through social pledges, which will cost them the White House and keep this economy indefinitely dead in the water.

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