GOP Primary 2012: Getting to know Ron Paul

Every primary needs a lark, and Ron Paul is definitely that. Mr. Paul is a hard core libertarian with an obsession with ending the Fed; but what worries me most about Ron Paul is his determination to return to the Gold Standard. This would shrink an already contracted economy miring the country in a double dip recession turned depression.

Also his non-interventionist strategy has him on the outs with the largely hawkish party.  And he will have trouble recruiting African-American votes after declaring that the Civil Rights Movement and the Civil War were a waste of American money and time.

But in Mr. Paul’s defense, he takes the idea of small government and pushes it to it’s extreme.  His declaration to end certain government cabinets such as the Department of Education may scare some, but endear him to the fringe of the party. And his respect for individual liberties and civil rights is commendable.

But most of his ideas are fairly radical which is a bit dubious coming from a ‘conservative’ party like the GOP.  He won’t be the nominee, but he has taken his campaign to help shape policy in some form, as well as pave the way for a future run by his son, Rand (named after Ayn).

GOP Primary 2012: Getting to know Newt Gingrich

photo credit AP

One thing is for certain during this primary: nothing’s for certain.

The media had written off Newt Gingrich before the race even started, and to be honest, for good reason.  His campaign was incredibly disorganized, and Mr. Gingrich seemed more interested in cruising the Greek islands than running for president.

But that all changed quickly after Rick Perry and Herman Cain’s individual implosions.  The GOP faithful needed anyone other than Mitt Romney and immediately latched onto Mr. Gingrich. And at first things went well. His forceful presence in the South Carolina debate endeared him to the Southern base. And his attacks of President Obama as the ‘food stamp president’ won him a sturdy base of followers.

But this bellicose nature eventually is what did him in. Many of his former colleagues began stumping for Mr. Romney.  His willingness to say or do anything to garner a vote became evident, not to mention his prior backing of programs like health insurance mandates and his work for Fannie and Freddie began to drag his campaign into muddy waters.  Oh, and he had a plan to replace janitors with school children.  The jig was up.

And rightfully so. Mr. Gingrich has turned his campaign for presidency into a ‘Mitt Romney must not be the next GOP nominee’ campaign.  His infatuation with Mr. Romney’s chances of winning has sprouted a disease from within the party.  The lack of a clear candidate at this stage of the race has issued Pres. Obama the biggest gift he’s been afforded since he entered Washington, D.C. Well, at least since the McCain/Palin ticket.

GOP Primary 2012: Getting to know Rick Santorum


Rick Santorum has been easily the biggest surprise in this race. After narrowly winning an Iowa recount, Mr. Santorum was soon-after left for dead. But in this primary, full of swings, dips and surges, Mr. Santorum has leaped to the top of the field.  Although Mr. Santorum may lead a few national polls, serious doubts remain about  the legitimacy of his campaign, so we’ll call Mr. Romney the front-runner.

A deeper look into the candidacy of Rick Santorum finds a stark counterpoint to Mr. Romney. There are no doubts whatsoever about Mr. Santorum’s convictions. His stance on anything from women in the workplace to gay rights are tried and true social conservatism at it’s nth degree.  According to a former aide, Mr. Santorum is “a Catholic Missionary who happens to be in the Senate.”

From an economic standpoint, his preoccupation with the federal deficit is troubling.  And his latest attacks on Pres. Obama’s religious beliefs have been extreme to say the least.  While most of his campaign hinges upon ideals that are divergent from the so-called ‘mainstream American’, no one doubts the sincerity of Mr. Santorum, who refused to back down from statements as outlandish as the one made about JFK’s speech about religious equality quote, “made him sick.”  This quality, and simply the fact that he’s not Mitt Romney, seemed to have endeared him to prospective GOP voters.

But he also carries the baggage of whole-heartedly embracing George W. Bush’s big government agenda (see compassionate conservativism).  Not to mention he was thoroughly drubbed in his last campaign for Senate.  And if you aren’t of the faint of heart, you can go ahead and google Santorum.  It goes without saying that he draws the ire of a large portion of the population leaving his likely electability in question.

That being said, he provides an interesting and stark alternative to the man that everyone was eager to crown the GOP nominee just a month or two ago.

GOP Primary 2012: Getting to know Mitt Romney

photo credit: AFP

While the race for the pleasure of taking on our beleaguered incumbent ramps up, I figured we ought to take a second to look at these men in-depth. We shall start with the front-runner himself, Mitt Romney.

Son to Michigan Governor George Romney, Mitt was raised as a devout Mormon. His mission work, were it for a more traditional faith, would be heralded by conservatives around the country. Instead his faith remains undoubtedly dear to him but shrouded in a bit of mystery (unlike other candidates want to wear theirs on their sleeves).

He’s an Ivy League grad from an affluent family that is unafraid of hard work. His time at Bain reincarnated our present economy, helping upend the domination of companies’ boards and replacing it with the interest of the shareholder. By buying up lagging companies and tweaking them into growth monsters, companies such as Bain buoyed the American economy into the boom of the 1990’s.

But with his successes come scrutiny. Making these businesses better often involved sacking workers which is taboo in current times of heavy unemployment. And ugly practices by Bain (after he had left the company) of lining their pockets while running businesses into the ground, still dog him today.

Post-Bain, he entered politics, and in the meantime, rescued the Olympics from a certain quagmire. His Governorship of Massachusetts was widely portrayed as a massive success (in a much different political environment), weaving his way through a legislature dominated by Democrats. And his Health Care Reform bill was the template on which Pres. Obama based his reform.

And I haven’t even mentioned his personal life because there isn’t much to mention. He’s squeaky clean when it comes to personal affairs with a loving wife and family.

All of this would seemingly make him a dream candidate for the party that heralds Ronald Reagan as their political ‘Lord and Savior’. Instead, Mr. Romney has been pushed by his colleagues in the GOP field, and by voters no doubt, to run away from his most admirable qualities as a pragmatic centrist. Add to this his insistence that we take a hard line with China on currency, that the deficit is what is dragging our economy, and that somehow tax cuts will improve employment, Mr. Romney seems to me to be the wrong man for this country at this pivotal moment.

But he also seems to be the best the GOP currently has to offer. And if Paul Krugman is right that Mitt Romney really is a closet Keynesian, then he most definitely is the best man for the job on the GOP side.

But his lack of ability to connect with voters has left him extremely vulnerable. He often seems out of touch with the common man, likely because he is. His father’s life is one of the American Dream, where hard work and playing by the rules will allow you to succeed in this country, and hopefully will allow your kids to have access to the things you didn’t growing up. George was able to provide Mitt with opportunities that most parents would dream of affording their children. And to Mitt’s credit, he did the most with it. His personal wealth is enviable. But stumping to a man with a family that has lost everything over the past five years will remain his greatest challenge, and ultimately his downfall.