The field of candidates seeking the GOP nominee for President this year appears to be the weakest since 1964, when Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater wound up with the nomination. At the outset of the current battle to pick a standard bearer, I really thought that Texas Gov. Rick Perry would wind up with the nomination. But Gov. Perry soon took himself out of contention, as did Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain, who at one point had surged to the top in the polls. Two other candidates, Rep. Michelle Bachman and former Utah Governor John Huntsman, never seemed to get off the ground and they too dropped out of the race. That left four candidates in the race, but most observers believe only two of them have any real chance of getting the nomination.
Of the four, Texas Rep. Ron Paul may be the most sincere and certainly speaks his mind on all of the issues. But even with very good support among younger voters, Dr. Paul is too extreme on most issues even for the Tea Party zealots. For that reason, he is unacceptable to the top dogs in the national Republican Party. It doesn’t appear that former Senator Rick Santorum, who won the Iowa caucus, will have the money necessary to last much longer in the race. Some believe he will be out of the race by the time this issue is mailed.
That leaves two candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, who regardless of what happened in Florida – will likely slug it out right up to the convention. Since we had to send this issue to the printer on January 30th, we don’t know the outcome of that state’s primary. But based on recent polling I suspect Romney will emerge as a double-digits winner in Florida. But regardless of who wins there, the contest will continue.
Frankly, I am not sure which of these two men would be worse for America. Mitt Romney, who doesn’t have a job but still paid taxes on over $40 million in earnings in the last two years, comes across as perhaps the weakest of an extremely weak field. Nevertheless, Romney still appears to be the leader for the nomination. That’s because Gingrich, who won big in South Carolina, and who up until the Florida debates had surged in the polls, is far too scary to be President. Newt is highly intelligent, quick on his feet, and extremely well prepared on the issues. But he has lots of things in his background that, if he gets the nomination, would haunt him in the general election.
If Gingrich were to win in an upset in Florida that will virtually guarantee that the campaigns will go on to March 6 when 11 states will vote. Even if he loses, however, most believe the former speaker is in for the duration. That means that February – with few states voting – will feature more candidate debates and lots of campaigning in the Super Tuesday states. That is most likely when the real leader going into the convention will finally emerge.
I will concede that Gingrich is smart, knowledgeable on issues and a fighter who goes for the kill when the opportunity arises. But this man simply has no business being President of the United States of America. Because Romney simply can’t connect with ordinary folks, I believe Gingrich has a good chance of winding up as the nominee. Of course, the GOP leadership could wake up, realize neither Gingrich nor Romney can win, and start looking for a “good” candidate. If that happens, another name may surface and that name could be “Bush” or “Daniels.” We may well be looking at a brokered convention. Stay tuned!
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