I Get Emails: Fred’s Out, So What Now? Pick Your Poison.
With Fred Thompson out of the race, there are probably a lot of Fredheads wondering who to back now. The good news is that there are still 5 candidates left in the race. The bad news is that all of the candidates are extremely flawed and have more weaknesses than strengths.
Here’s a short and sweet primer on all of them.
Candidate: John McCain
Strengths: He’s fiscally conservative, a hawk, and has a strong pro-life voting record. He’s also the candidate who currently has the best head-to-head numbers against Obama and Clinton by far.
Weaknesses: Beyond the issues above, McCain is basically a Democrat who seems to take perverse enjoyment in picking fights with conservatives. For this reason, he is richly despised by a lot of people on the Right and having him as the nominee would cause conservatives to become despondent. He’s also pro-amnesty, didn’t support the Bush tax cuts, and is undependable on judges — and just about everything else — despite his protests to the contrary.
Candidate: Mitt Romney
Strengths: He has a solid business background, has run a skilled, organized campaign; he’s anti-amnesty, pro-life, hawkish, and if you believe his promises, he’ll govern more conservatively than the other candidates.
Weaknesses: He is a “promise anything to anybody to get elected” flip-flopper who really can’t be trusted once he’s in office. An unknown percentage of evangelical Christians won’t vote for him because he’s a member of what they consider to be a heretical, Christian cult. Moreover, although conservatives don’t loathe him, he inspires very little enthusiasm and his head-to-head poll numbers against Obama and Clinton are just terrible. Romney turns states that Huckabee and McCain win by 20 points into toss-ups and seems highly unlikely to win a general election.
Candidate: Rudy Giuliani
Strengths: He’s hawkish, fiscally conservative, personable, and has proven his leadership in the aftermath on 9/11.
Weaknesses: He’s the single least conservative candidate running; he’s pro-amnesty, pro-abortion, and has a lot of baggage. His act, “I was in charge after 9/11, I cut crime in New York, and George Will says I’m conservative,” has gotten very stale. Moreover, despite the claims that he would be the most electable candidate that the GOP could run, there are no poll numbers that show him beating the Democratic candidates in any state that John Kerry won in 2004. In other words, the whole “Rudy puts all sorts of blue states into play” line doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. Last but not least, like McCain and Huckabee, conservatives would be upset if Giuliani wins the nomination.
Candidate: Mike Huckabee
Strengths: Huckabee is well liked by social conservatives, is extremely charismatic, has pledged that he will oppose amnesty, and is more conservative than he’s given credit for. Furthermore, because of his charm, his appeal to Southerners, and because his populist message would probably go over well in the Rust Belt, he would probably be the 2nd most electable candidate still in the race.
Weaknesses: He is gaffe prone, despised by the conservative media, overdoes it with the religious references, comes across terribly on foreign policy, and has run an unorganized campaign. Additionally, he has a good bit of baggage, turns off a lot of fiscal conservatives, seems to be disturbingly fond of big government at times, and his selection as the nominee would infuriate a lot of conservatives.
Candidate: Ron Paul
Strengths: He’s fiscally conservative, favors small government, cares a lot about the Constitution, is anti-amnesty, and could probably pull in some of “Big L” Libertarians and anti-war liberals.
Weaknesses: He’s abrasive, an isolationist, and at times, utterly irrational (What else do you call someone that wants to shut down the CIA?). He also associates with all sorts of unsavory truthers and white supremacists. He’s also a Libertarian, not a conservative, and conservatives would find him to be frustrating and irrational if he ever got into office. Of course, he would have absolutely no chance of winning a general election, so what kind of President he would be is nothing more than a theoretical discussion.
PS: Personally, if I had to vote tomorrow, I would reluctantly vote for Mike Huckabee, but I have very little enthusiasm for him or any of the other candidates.