In 2012, the GOP has a unique opportunity to unseat an incumbent president and make major gains in Congress. Barack Obama has not kept his promise to bring bi-partisanship to Washington, and he has been incapable of navigating through serious economic and foreign policy problems. If the GOP nominates a credible candidate like Mitt Romney, I believe Obama will likely be defeated. But, the surging popularity of candidates including Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), pizza tycoon Herman Cain and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is troublesome. These contenders are questionable in many ways and could never win the presidential election. It feels as if the Tea Party has hijacked the GOP and is intent on marketing its brand of conservatism even if it results in the reelection of Obama.
Romney represents the GOP’s only real opportunity to win in 2012. True, Romney has changed his mind about certain issues over time (What politician has not?). True, Romney is not “Mr. Excitement” (Very few politicians are). But, Romney is an exceptional businessman and administrator, and he was able to win the governorship of Massachusetts as a Republican giving him great credibility as a politician. And finally, he made his bones in the 2008 election, where he lost to another inept GOP candidate.
Romney has all the tools to win in 2012. His organization is extensive, so he will be able to compete “door-to-door” for votes. His economic policies are well thought out even if they are too verbose; but they can be abridged to create an understandable and effective campaign document. Romney can debate with the best of politicians; he never (almost anyway) loses his cool and is well versed in all aspects of economic and foreign policy. His major issue is that he as had to cater to the radical wing nuts in his party to compete for the nomination.
Romney’s polling has been consistent if not impressive as he has been waiting for the GOP supporters to finish evaluating the other contenders. Unfortunately, the loudmouth right-wingers have a stranglehold on the primary process. The middle-right and independents have yet to be heard from, so outrageous GOP candidates have enjoyed undeserved opportunities. Some of these same candidates are very inexperienced in federal matters, have bouts of amnesia and some know nothing about foreign affairs.
Unfortunately, the most dangerous contender, Gingrich, has surged as of late and will be very competitive in New Hampshire (where Romney now leads) and in Iowa and South Carolina (where Gingrich has a slight advantage). America’s inane primary process enables three of the smallest states in the union to have a disproportionate influence on the selection of nominees. So, early success in the primary is critical. Many believe that Gingrich does not have the organizational wherewithal to compete beyond South Carolina.
What inspired me to write this piece was a rant by Chris Matthews of MSNBC, who I usually disagree with on every issue. He was outraged this week by the success of such a horrible slate of GOP candidates culminating with the unholy alliance of Gingrich and Donald Trump (Trump again?). Like Matthews, I asked myself whether it was really possible for such a flawed individual like Gingrich to win the nomination for president. The man’s morals, ethics and interpersonal skills have come into question numerous times during his career; he is often described as a pariah. What is this man doing at the top of the GOP list of candidates? The good news is that I am sure he will lose decisively in the general election as Barry Goldwater did in 1960; I certainly will not vote for the man. But, the GOP will fritter away a golden opportunity to make huge political advances if Gingrich goes much further.
GOP voters should not give Gingrich an opening. The only chance the GOP has is to nominate Mitt Romney.
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