Today I begin the process of selecting my personal favorite Presidential candidate, not based on personalities or glitzy campaign promises, but on issues. As I pointed out last month, I have a system to score candidates based on their positions on several topics key to me.
The first two topics are relatively obscure, and the candidates haven’t devoted a lot of time to them. This made it harder to get a good read on the situation; luckily if I’m completely misreading a position it’s only a few points gained or lost. For the most part, I’m betting I have a crop of three to four hopefuls who will stand out above the rest anyway.
Note I haven’t included a few candidates who may yet get into the game. I’m doing the originals as Word files so I can keep them close for reference in the future. And I’m doing both Republicans and Democrats, so let’s start with campaign finance reform and election law.
Michele Bachmann has a limited voting record and comments on the issue, but her positions are fine so I’ll kick her off with one point of three.
With Herman Cain noting in Politico that “civil rights groups encourage voter fraud by opposing voter identification bills…all they’re trying to do is protect the voter fraud they know is going on,” he’s got the right idea. I’m giving him all three points.
While serving in the House, Newt Gingrich had a solid voting record on campaign finance so I’m giving him two points. I don’t think his positions have softened, but haven’t heard the bold sort of statement that Cain made out of him.
Jon Huntsman signed a decent voter-ID law as governor of Utah, so that’s a step in the right direction. But he also signed a bill allowing online voter registration, which wiped out some of that goodwill. Some things are too important to do online. So he gets just one point.
I haven’t been able to discern where Gary Johnson would stand on this issue, so no points for him.
Interestingly enough, Fred Karger supports lowering the voting age to “16 or 17.” And this report states he’s against voter ID. If anything, I question the wisdom of allowing youth to vote (maybe the age of majority needs to revert to 21) so it doesn’t sound like he and I would agree on the issue. He’s docked all three points.
Thad McCotter voted for voter ID on the federal level, but also voted for restricting 527s as well. I’ll give him two of three points.
Roy Moore hasn’t stated a public position on any of these issues, so I can’t give him points either.
Similarly to Gingrich, Ron Paul has made all the right votes on campaign finance and has maintained his position throughout. Since he’s currently serving in Congress, I’m giving him three points.
He got good marks from the Club for Growth on campaign finance as Governor of Minnesota, so Tim Pawlenty gets a good mark from me as well. I’m giving him 2 points.
Buddy Roemer has a key point right on his current home page: “(W)e will talk about a lot of issues in this campaign. But we will start by tackling special interest money that impacts all the rest.” Roemer claims he won’t take any contribution greater than $100 nor will he take PAC money.
It’s a very populist position to take, but it’s the wrong one. I equate money with speech, and placing an artificial restriction on contributions is a limit on speech in my eyes. (It’s also suicidal when you figure Barack Obama to raise $1 billion from special interests.) I’m deducting two points only because he’s consistent with this stance since his days in Congress.
Apparently Mitt Romney has had a change of heart on the campaign finance issue. While he’s come around to the right side, I don’t know how sincere he is on the subject so I’ll not give him any points.
Rick Santorum made mostly correct votes on this subject while in the Senate, and has a long enough body of work that I’m comfortable giving him two points.
Now for the Democrats:
Barack Obama, of course, disagreed with the Citizens United decision and backed the DISCLOSE Act, plus his campaign came out strongly bashing voter ID – three bad moves and a loss of thee points.
On the other hand, Randall Terry doesn’t stake out a position on the issue, so no points.
In the very early stages we have a close race. On the Republican side:
- Herman Cain, 3 points
- Ron Paul, 3 points
- Newt Gingrich, 2 points
- Thad McCotter, 2 points
- Tim Pawlenty, 2 points
- Rick Santorum, 2 points
- Michele Bachmann, 1 point
- Jon Huntsman, 1 point
- Gary Johnson, 0 points
- Roy Moore, 0 points
- Mitt Romney, 0 points
- Buddy Roemer, (-2) points
- Fred Karger, (-3) points
- Randall Terry, 0 points
- Barack Obama, (-3) points
Now I turn to private property rights. Again, this was sort of tough because most candidates haven’t addressed this as directly as I’d like.
Let’s begin with Michele Bachmann, who cited Fifth Amendment rights in castigating the BP settlement. I think she knows government’s place, so I’m giving her four of five points.
Herman Cain hasn’t said much on the subject yet, and aside from a brief mention of property seizure portions of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill on his issues page, there’s not much to go on. I’ll give him one point.
Overturning the Kelo decision would be a good start on Newt Gingrich‘s agenda, and I can give him all five points for that and defending property rights while in Congress.
Jon Huntsman was ahead of the curve on Kelo and advocated for American companies regarding intellectual property rights while Ambassador to China. My only knock is whether he was leading or following in his capacity, so I’ll give him four points.
I would imagine Gary Johnson would oppose the Kelo decision, but when he talks about “civil liberties” he doesn’t speak to private property rights. I’ll grant him one point since he talks about other civil liberties that most GOP candidates don’t.
It doesn’t appear Fred Karger has delved into property rights issues, so no points for him.
Thad McCotter has a reasonable record on property rights by the look of things, so I’ll give him three points of five.
While it was hinted in this article he penned that Roy Moore was against the Kelo decision, the fact that he stood up for private property rights at a rally shows me he’s likely on the right side. Five points.
Ron Paul is an odd case. His voting record would suggest he supports private property rights, but in looking up Gary Johnson I saw that Paul supported the Kelo decision. I can only give him two points based on voting record.
This video explains how Buddy Roemer feels about “imminent” (sic) domain. I essentially like what he says, but that 1% and blowing the spelling will lose him two points of the five. Give him three.
Mitt Romney “believes the Kelo property rights case was wrongly decided.” He’s right, but Massachusetts still ranks among the worst states for eminent domain abuse. So I’ll only give him three points.
Back in 2005 Rick Santorum termed the Kelo decision as “undermining people’s fundamental rights to property.” I think he gets it, so I’ll give him the five points.
Among the two Democrats, Barack Obama made his most egregious assault on property rights when he placed unions ahead of bondholders in the auto bailout. That offense gets him docked five points.
On the other hand, Randall Terry is winning the Democratic side by not having a position. No points.
Updating the standings shows we have a close race among a number of contenders.
- Newt Gingrich, 7 points
- Tim Pawlenty, 7 points
- Rick Santorum, 7 points
- Michele Bachmann, 5 points
- Jon Huntsman, 5 points
- Thad McCotter, 5 points
- Roy Moore, 5 points
- Ron Paul, 5 points
- Herman Cain, 4 points
- Mitt Romney, 3 points
- Gary Johnson, 1 point
- Buddy Roemer, 1 point
- Fred Karger, (-3) points
- Randall Terry, 0 points
- Barack Obama, (-8) points
Can Barack Obama get to (-100)? He just might. But I think it’s shaping up to be an interesting race between as many as 8 candidates for the top spot, and you never know. Two sections in last time I had Duncan Hunter leading, Mike Huckabee second, and John McCain third (they finished first, fourth, and tenth, respectively, in a 10-man field.)
The next time I’ll probably tackle two subjects again before going to individual posts for the remainder as they have more priority. So next up is Second Amendment rights and education, for seven and eight points respectively. Once that’s done, 23 of 100 points will be decided.