Presidential purity?

In the wake of comments many believed exposed Donald Trump as a religious bigot, there was condemnation on both sides. But what happens if he wins the Republican nomination in a deeply divided GOP? Maybe my fellow blogger and Central Committee member from Howard County Dave Wissing gives us a clue. He took to social media yesterday to state:

I usually keep my political posts to a minimum, but after today it has reached the point where I can’t stay quiet any longer. As a lifetime Republican who has always supported Republicans for President, I will not support Donald Trump for President should he get the Republican nomination and will work to defeat him. If this costs me my position on the Central Committee, so be it.

More in my party should be saying this.

I’m not going to look at this from the standpoint of whether what Trump said was right or wrong. Instead it brings up the question of whether members of the Central Committee are supposed to blindly follow the party, even if they nominate a person who would seemingly represent the worst possible face of the party.

In the past we have had discussions about something we dubbed the “David Duke rule,” named for the white supremacist who was successful enough to finish second in Louisiana’s 1991 gubernatorial “jungle” primary. Duke ran as a rump Republican against party-switching incumbent Buddy Roemer and former scandal-tainted governor Edwin Edwards, who eventually won a fourth non-consecutive term over Duke. Duke was shunned by practically every elected Republican in the country up to and including President George H.W. Bush, who backed the Democrat Edwards. While my philosophy is to trust the wisdom of the voters, sometimes circumstance forces you to turn your back on a candidate. For many, including Wissing, this seems to be the case with Trump.

Nor does every Central Committee have a loyalty clause.

In reviewing our county’s bylaws, making a statement like Wissing’s is not automatically grounds for removal. Instead, the only grounds for removal is that of missing meetings or conventions. Further, in our case, a 2/3 vote of the committee would be enough to not endorse Trump (or any other candidate) as far as our county is concerned. If Howard County’s rules are similar, those calling for Wissing’s resignation are out of order despite his proclamation.

Yet there is the average Trump supporter to consider. He or she tends to be the working class voter that Republicans constantly try to keep from defecting to the Democrat Party where they came from to vote first for Ronald Reagan. I know a few Trump supporters who like his tough-talking rhetoric, if not his record of political accomplishment, and they’re bound and determined to see him become President.

They can’t seem to move the Trump needle over 25 to 30 percent in the polls, though. There are still over a dozen candidates in the race, but eventually more will drop out and support will coalesce behind other challengers who may eventually replace Trump as the frontrunner. This may solve the immediate problem but create a second one – disheartened Trump supporters who stay home rather than vote for another Republican.

There is a piece in the Onion that satirically illustrates the perils of underestimating The Donald, though. Things that may sink another’s campaign seem to energize Trump supporters even more. The trick may be to interest them if Trump falls short.

Primary crystal ball predictions

Just for the heck of it, I’m going to do my set of predictions on some key races locally and around the state. In the past we did this among ourselves at the Central Committee meetings but we didn’t discuss it last night. So tell me what you think, and if I turn out to be wrong – well, don’t laugh too much. Most of this is a (somewhat) educated guess.

I’m going to begin with the Presidential race, on a statewide level. There have already been several polls on this, so there’s a little bit of cheating involved; then again, the polls actually pretty much mirrored my gut instinct all along.

In Maryland, I see the race like this:

  1. Mitt Romney – 41%
  2. Rick Santorum – 28%
  3. Newt Gingrich – 16%
  4. Ron Paul – 11%
  5. Fred Karger – 2%
  6. Rick Perry – <1%
  7. Buddy Roemer – <1%
  8. Jon Huntsman – <1%

The polls seem to have Romney winning bigger (Rasmussen has it 45-28) but I think Mitt’s people will tend to figure he’s got it in the bag and turnout will be better in certain areas where Gingrich and Paul may run a little stronger.

How about Wicomico County? This is more of a crapshoot but I think the top 4 results will be a little different:

  1. Rick Santorum – 35%
  2. Mitt Romney – 33%
  3. Newt Gingrich – 18%
  4. Ron Paul – 13%

The voters here tend to be more conservative than the state at large.

The other statewide race is for U.S. Senate. Now I’m really going to go out on a limb here, because there aren’t any polls I’m aware of (aside from the sure fact campaigns have internal polling I’m not privy to) but my gut is telling me we may have a barnburner on our hands:

  1. Dan Bongino – 36%
  2. Richard Douglas – 34%
  3. Robert Broadus – 8%
  4. Corrogan Vaughn – 5%
  5. Joseph Alexander – 4%
  6. David Jones – 4%
  7. William Capps – 3%
  8. Rick Hoover – 3%
  9. John Kimble – 2%
  10. Brian Vaeth – 1%

In Wicomico County, I suspect the top three will be Bongino (42%), Douglas (36%), and Broadus (8%). None of the others will be over 3 percent. Incumbent Ben Cardin will be the opponent, with the over-under line for me being 70% of the statewide vote.

And how about the Sixth District race? It’s the most talked-about Congressional primary since the 2008 First District primary, with the added benefit of mud flying on both sides.

On the Republican side, I think Roscoe Bartlett will hold on to his seat with 33% of the vote, with David Brinkley gathering 29%, Joseph Krysztforski 14%, Robin Ficker 10%, and Kathy Afzali 7%. The other three will split the remaining 7%.

What saves Bartlett’s bacon is the fact that there are so many in the race that people may just throw up their hands and go with the name they know. If there were just four or five in the race I think Brinkley has a shot, although the last-minute release of 9-1-1 tapes featuring his ex-wife may knock a point or two away from Brinkley and provide Roscoe’s margin of victory. It’s the voters on the extreme western end of the district who are likely most swayed by that because they don’t really know David that well.

On the Democratic side, I’m sensing a bit of an upset. We figured that this seat was drawn for Rob Garagiola, but I suspect the charges laid against him by John Delaney have done enough damage that Delaney will squeak out a close win, something on the order of 31-30. Milad Pooran will likely run a respectable third with 21%, while Ron Little grabs 10% and Charles Bailey the last 8%.

The Second District GOP race is also interesting, but I think Nancy Jacobs will win it with relative ease, probably with 40% or so of the vote. Larry Smith comes in around 28%, Rick Impallaria with 19%, and the other two with single digits apiece.

Meanwhile, I think John LaFerla will be the First District Democratic nominee against Andy Harris and he’ll end up just short of a majority – 49% district-wide against Wendy Rosen’s 43%. Kim Letke will get the last 8%. What puts LaFerla over the top in the primary is the endorsement of Wayne Gilchrest. What keeps him from winning in November is being endorsed by NARAL and Planned Parenthood.

GOP winners in other districts will be Eric Knowles (3rd), Faith Loudon (4th), Tony O’Donnell (5th), Frank Mirabile (7th), and Dave Wallace (8th). Wallace gets the nod because the other three candidates will likely split the Montgomery County vote just enough for him to win over Ken Timmerman. Of course, there will not be any upsets among the incumbent Democrats – all of them will get over 75% in their respective primaries.

So what do you think? Am I all wet or do I have a good chance of being correct – and why? As opposed to yesterday, I’m going to leave this up all day until results come in.

Another Republican splits the Presidential scene

Although he hadn’t won a delegate nor garnered more than a tiny fraction of the primary voters to date, it took until yesterday for Buddy Roemer to finally stop seeking the Republican presidential nomination. Blaming his GOP bid’s demise on the lack of participation in the debates, Roemer is now seeking either the Reform Party nod or ballot access via Americans Elect, an internet-based nomination process which was started late last year.

Throughout his campaign, Roemer has been a Republican of a different stripe; for example, he’s backed the Occupy Wall Street movement. Buddy has also made waves by vowing not to take PAC contributions or individual donations exceeding $100, with his point being that 3 million people donating $100 would net him $300 million and make him competitive. Obviously, though, reality has smacked him in the face as he’s collected under $400,000 in this cycle – by comparison, Rick Santorum, the weakest financial link still in the GOP race, had raised $6.6 million by the end of January.

The Americans Elect movement is an interesting one. Unlike most other third parties, they are only interested in one race: the presidency. To that end, they are looking for a choice determined via internet poll, with the winner then getting a vice-presidential nominee from the other party – if Roemer won the nomination as a Republican, the vice-presidential candidate would have to be a Democrat. Meanwhile, the Reform Party has its roots in the long-ago presidential run of Ross Perot.

Over the last forty years, the two elections Perot was instrumental in helped Bill Clinton secure two presidential terms. The elections over that span where a third party succeeded in getting a significant portion of the vote (1980, 1992, 1996, and 2000) generally shook out in such a manner that the third-party nominee took away support from the political side he resided on.

  • In 1980 John Anderson, a renegade Republican, got 7% but didn’t materially affect a 10-point Reagan win.
  • In 1992 Ross Perot picked up 19% of the vote, with Bill Clinton winning by a 43% plurality over incumbent President George H.W. Bush.
  • Perot ran again in 1996, receiving 8% of the vote in an election where Bill Clinton was re-elected with just 49% over Republican Bob Dole.
  • The infamous 2000 election featured Ralph Nader taking just under 3 percent of the vote. Al Gore had the plurality with 48.4% but George W. Bush got the majority of electoral votes with 47.9% of the vote.

So more often than not, the result of an insurgent third party has been the political philosophy of the third-party candidate getting more votes but losing the election due to a split. It can be argued that a large number of Perot voters would have helped Bush and Dole in the 1990’s – I know I would have held my nose and voted for Bush in 1992 had Perot not been in the race. (I voted for Dole in 1996.) The inverse was true in 2000, when it can be presumed that Nader cost Gore the election, particularly in Florida where he got far more than the 500 or so votes that Bush won Florida by.

By many accounts, at least at this early point, the election of 2012 looks to be a fairly close one, with President Obama leading over prospective Republican opponents by a few points in national polls. But an insurgent campaign from the right (such as Ron Paul) may draw voters away from the GOP candidate and assure Obama a second, disastrous term.

But if Americans Elect selects a far-left candidate, such as the Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the Republican could pull the upset. Yet the Left seems a lot more disciplined about not deviating from their chosen candidates, knowing that even a moderately liberal candidate will pull America in the political direction they desire.

Crashing the third party

It’s being reported as a done deal, but the official withdrawal of Gary Johnson from the GOP presidential race will likely occur next week. Supposedly he’s dropping out to seek the nomination of the Libertarian Party, but apparently that’s not a slam dunk because others covet that ballot spot as well.

Gary had little to no chance of gaining the Republican nod despite his obvious similarities in platform to Ron Paul, a candidate who’s currently near the top of the GOP heap. Running as a Libertarian will get him ballot access in most states and might put the state of New Mexico (which went for Obama in 2008 but was thought to be a good chance for a GOP pickup) back into the Obama column. While it’s only five electoral votes, that may tip the balance in a close election.

Continue reading “Crashing the third party”

When do the candidates drop out?

We’re just 45 days out from the Iowa caucuses (believe it or not) but there are still ten serious candidates seeking the GOP nomination.

I bring this up because, in the 2008 cycle, we had already lost a few people when they realized the money wasn’t going to be there or they had no path to victory. This is going to be true among probably six or so of the 2012 contenders, but they soldier on regardless.

Perhaps this is because the person who was counted out a month ago may make a meteoric rise in the polls based on a campaign plank, a great debate performance, or just the fact they were viewed as the hot new item in public perception. Thus far, this phenomenon has benefited several candidates: Herman Cain (twice), Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and now Newt Gingrich. Even Tim Pawlenty had his turn, although once his down cycle arrived (at the peak of fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann’s cycle at the Iowa Straw Poll) he decided to exit the race. Way back when, before the race had really jelled together, Jon Huntsman had a turn at the wheel too. But by the time he actually announced that support was gone.

On the other hand, one has to wonder if the turns will ever come for guys like Gary Johnson, Buddy Roemer, or Rick Santorum. They continue to suffer from abysmally low poll numbers, and the question is now getting to be whether they’ll have the money or manpower to get their message out before it’s too late.

And you’ll notice I didn’t mention Mitt Romney or Ron Paul. It’s because both seem to have a narrow strata of support which ranges in the low twenties for Romney and right around ten percent for Paul. They don’t seem to deviate much from those plateaus, which begs the question of whether the field is too crowded for them right now. Presumably they can tread water until some of the bottom-feeders finally exit the scene.

I’m going to do a poll for a few days and see what you think will be the result of the coming shakeout. I think it’s interesting to speculate who just doesn’t have the horses to continue on.

A secondary election day

I always thought it was the Tuesday after the first Monday, but today was quite the election day on three different fronts.

One election I participated in was a straw poll held at the MDGOP Fall Convention over the weekend, with the results tabulated and announced today. (My analysis comes after the jump.)

Continue reading “A secondary election day”

Cain surges in polls: is he the anti-Romney?

According to a new Rasmussen Poll, Herman Cain and Mitt Romney are now virtually tied on the top of the Republican presidential heap as both garnered 29% in the sampling. And the new number three is Newt Gingrich, who gets 10 percent while former frontrunner Rick Perry has slipped all the way back to fourth, at nine percent.

It’s interesting to note the history of how this race has gone. Mitt Romney has always seemed to have his 20 to 30 percent support and that number doesn’t seem to waver regardless of who’s in the race; it’s enough to keep him on top or a close second in most polls.

But the role of portraying that “other” contender seems to change on a cycle of about a month or two.

Continue reading “Cain surges in polls: is he the anti-Romney?”

Roemer: I will occupy Wall Street

A quick Facebook note I spied:

Throughout our great Nation’s history, its citizens have risen and joined together to fight against many injustices. Today, the Occupy Wall St. Movement stands up to fight against the corruption and greed that has taken over our political sytstem (sic) and financial system. I will proudly join them on Tuesday in NYC.

This came from Buddy Roemer, who is on perhaps the lowest tier of known GOP Presidential candidates. Well, if he’s looking for votes or sympathy he’s not going to find a lot of it there, nor will he attract all that much attention. He’ll just be a sideshow to the freak show that’s going on there.

Continue reading “Roemer: I will occupy Wall Street”

The endorsement

Well, here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for: who do I support for President? (Hint: it ain’t Barack Obama.)

If you’ve been playing along with my “Dossier” series and kept track of the points, this is what you’d find:

  1. Herman Cain – 74 points
  2. Roy Moore – 73 points
  3. Michele Bachmann – 71 points
  4. Ron Paul – 68 points
  5. Rick Perry – 59 points
  6. Rick Santorum – 57 points
  7. Thad McCotter – 51 points
  8. Gary Johnson – 50 points
  9. Newt Gingrich – 48 points
  10. Mitt Romney – 40 points
  11. Buddy Roemer – 39 points
  12. Jon Huntsman – 25 points
  13. Fred Karger – (-11) points

It seems pretty cut and dried, right? Well, not quite.

One thing I noticed as I was having a bit of fun with the numbers (figuring out that my “perfect” candidate in this go-round would have only 94 points of 100) is that Herman Cain came out on top through consistent scoring, not necessarily high marks across the board. So I did a second run using factored placements in each category – the top finisher got 1, second was 2, and so forth. Anyone who was tied for a spot got the lowest number of points.

It changed the standings at the top quite a bit:

  1. Roy Moore (2nd in points)
  2. Ron Paul (4th)
  3. Herman Cain (1st)
  4. Michele Bachmann (3rd)
  5. Rick Perry (5th)
  6. Rick Santorum (6th)
  7. Gary Johnson (8th)
  8. Thad McCotter (7th)
  9. Newt Gingrich (9th)
  10. Jon Huntsman (12th)
  11. Mitt Romney (10th)
  12. Buddy Roemer (11th)
  13. Fred Karger (13th)

In essence, my top four were turned around. The only reason Ron Paul didn’t finish first in points, though, was his isolationist stance. He actually scored well enough on the most important categories to make up for it and that’s why he moved up the scale. Roy Moore was helped along by having good marks across the board, but none of the key factors except for taxation and the role of government leaped out. And Bachmann and Cain were dragged down by a lack of specifics in some areas.

So the next step was placing them head-to-head against each other.

Once you do that it’s clear Michele Bachmann doesn’t do as well, while the other three are essentially a draw when compared that way. So I guess I have to revert to my original findings and also think about electability. I just can’t see Ron Paul being the nominee, nor can I trust him in the key aspect of foreign affairs. To me there’s a difference between entangling alliances and our very security. Declared or not, I believe we are in a state of war and we weren’t the ones who caused it.

And while I really like Judge Moore, the fact that he hasn’t advanced beyond the exploratory stage five months after forming the committee tells me he probably doesn’t have the support base to make a serious run.

Thus, after weeks of thought and study, I stand as a member of the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee – and while I don’t speak for the committee as a whole – I heartily endorse Herman Cain to be the next President of the United States.

If you would prefer to explore other candidates, my strong recommendations for the position are Michele Bachmann, Roy Moore, and Ron Paul. Each is a good candidate, but as noted above I have one or more reservations about their qualifications and eventual prospect for success – however, you may see it differently.

And by the way, I am going to do a dual Dossier on the two major declared Democratic candidates. That should be a riot.

Dossier: Buddy Roemer

Political resume: Roemer failed in his initial bid for Congress in 1978 (as a Democrat) but won election in 1980 and served in the House from 1981-88. He left after winning election as governor of Louisiana, where he served from 1988-92. In 1991 he became a member of the Republican Party, but lost the gubernatorial election later in 1991 as well as a 1995 comeback bid.

He formally entered the 2012 Presidential race on March 3.

On campaign finance/election reform (three points): He 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.

On property rights (five points): This video explains how he 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.

On the Second Amendment (seven points): I have the feeling I’m missing something, but the limited amount I can find on Buddy (like saying “I’m a Second Amendment guy”) would make me guess he won’t trifle with the Second Amendment. Three points seems fair enough.

On education (eight points): As governor, he linked teacher pay to performance and enhanced accountability standards. But that’s all I know and he hasn’t really touched on the subject yet in his one-man debates. So I can only give him one point.

On the Long War/veterans affairs (nine points): He is half-right on Libya, but seems to have a pretty good train of thought on the Long War in general. It’s perhaps his strongest issue to date. He gets six points.

On immigration (eleven points): This video gives a pretty good summary of Roemer’s viewpoint. There’s a lot to like, although it’s still a bit short on specifics. He gives the Chamber of Commerce some necessary criticism as well. I think six points is fair.

On energy independence (twelve points): “No more subsidies.” That’s at the heart of his energy remarks. And while it sounds like he’s foursquare for more drilling (after all, he comes from an oil state) I worry about the tariff on Middle Eastern oil he’s proposing because that sets a bad precedent. So I’m only giving him three points.

On entitlements (thirteen points): Like many others, he will ‘reform’ items within the system rather than change a flawed paradigm. He likes the Ryan Plan, “but it’s not good enough.” I like his idea of the opting out of Medicare option, though, so I’ll bump him up seven points. Maybe we can get Medicare to ‘wither on the vine’ yet.

On trade and job creation (fourteen points): Here is where I have some issues with Buddy, since he’s speaking about protectionism. The problem with this approach is that we cut ourselves out of other markets as they ratchet up a trade war, and the jobs won’t be created. I can’t give him any points.

On taxation and the role of government (fifteen points): Buddy has a pretty unique feature on his website where he takes and answers reader questions. In reading some of these, I can see where he would cut a number of unnecessary departments, and that’s a good start. He would also simplify the tax system but doesn’t go as far as to support the consumption-based tax system. I think I can give him ten of the fifteen points.

Intangibles (up to three points): Buddy is pro-life and believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, which are definite pluses. So he nets two points.

Continue reading “Dossier: Buddy Roemer”

If Perry is in, then who’s out?

Since a number of published reports have Texas Governor Rick Perry entering the 2012 Presidential race as soon as tomorrow, the obvious question is – who will have their share of the support pie taken?

Personally I’m of the opinion that, if one was to compare this situation to the stock market, a Perry run has already been priced in. A certain number of people have already been sitting on the sidelines just waiting for an official announcement from Rick and now they will join the game – so the “pie” is a little bit larger.

Yet another school of thought intrigues me as well. Let’s break the remaining thirteen or so in the field into three groups – they’re ranked within each group in order of national support, more or less. An asterisk (*) denotes that the candidate is entered into tomorrow’s Iowa Straw Poll.

The Legislators:

  1. Michele Bachmann (House member from Minnesota)*
  2. Ron Paul (House member from Texas)*
  3. Newt Gingrich (former Speaker of the House from Georgia)*
  4. Rick Santorum (former Senator from Pennsylvania)*
  5. Thad McCotter (House member from Michigan)*

This group will likely have little change in the order or in their amount of support. Some think that Bachmann has the most to lose from a Perry candidacy, but I tend to disagree.

The Outsiders:

  1. Herman Cain (former CEO, radio host, and onetime U.S. Senate candidate from Georgia)*
  2. Roy Moore (Alabama Supreme Court justice and candidate for Governor)
  3. Fred Karger (longtime political consultant from California)

Again, since Herman Cain is by far the class of this small group there’s probably little for them to lose if he gets in, although it would make life somewhat more difficult for Roy Moore if he indeed decides to stop exploring.

The Governors:

  1. Mitt Romney (former governor of Massachusetts)*
  2. Jon Huntsman (former governor of Utah)*
  3. Tim Pawlenty (former governor of Minnesota)*
  4. Gary Johnson (former governor of New Mexico)
  5. Buddy Roemer (former governor of Louisiana)

This is the group most hurt by a Perry bid, because there are many voters who feel having some sort of executive experience is the best attribute for a President. Four of our previous five Presidents before Obama served as a governor, with George H.W. Bush the exception. And that exception deserves an asterisk of sorts because the elder Bush was Vice-President for eight years under Ronald Reagan.

I believe a Perry candidacy hurts Mitt Romney to a small degree because he’s sort of the anointed, establishment candidate and Rick Perry isn’t really an establishment darling. On the other side of the coin, Buddy Roemer has little support to lose and Gary Johnson is playing to a libertarian group that splits its allegiance between him and Ron Paul.

The two candidates who really have the most to fear about Rick Perry getting into the race are Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman. Pawlenty is running as a candidate who won as a Republican in a Democratic-leaning state by being just moderate enough to appeal to independent voters. But Perry trumps that because he’s won twice in a state where, in theory, demographics should be favoring Democrats – Texas has a growing Latino population.

Huntsman loses out because his good economic record in Utah pales in comparison to the job creation in Texas. Jon has had trouble establishing a base of support anyway because the establishment prefers Romney and conservatives are distrustful of someone who worked for the Obama administration.

Since the Iowa Straw Poll has a write-in ballot space, it will be interesting to see how much support Rick Perry gets from those who don’t like the other nine choices presented to them. Some who are skipping the Ames gathering will probably pooh-pooh the results regardless of how they do (unless they win, of course) but I suspect the bottom three will find it more difficult as time goes on to make an impact in the race.

Yet the biggest question of all may be whether the last big name candidate will finally decide to jump into the fray. Time is running short for Sarah Palin, as building a grassroots effort takes some planning and we’re just about five months away from the start of primary season – even less time than that to qualify for the ballots.

And fourteen to me seems about four to five too many to be sustainable. If you take the four who didn’t secure a place on the Iowa Straw Poll (Johnson, Karger, Moore, and Roemer) you can probably make a pretty safe bet that the latter two won’t find their way onto a ballot. Gary Johnson will fight on to continue bringing the libertarian small-government argument into the race while Fred Karger will go as far as his status as the lone gay candidate will take him. Neither will come close to winning the nomination but they’ll press on for principle’s sake.

The two odd men out I see among those who made the Iowa Straw Poll ballot are Thad McCotter and Rick Santorum. McCotter should have started his bid much sooner because he doesn’t stand out in a crowded conservative field already dotted with more well-known House members, while Santorum probably can’t shake either the label of “biggest loser” from 2006 or the ill-fated Arlen Specter endorsement two years earlier.

By January I think the field will look like this, in about this order:

  1. Mitt Romney
  2. Sarah Palin
  3. Rick Perry
  4. Michele Bachmann
  5. Ron Paul
  6. Newt Gingrich
  7. Jon Huntsman
  8. Tim Pawlenty
  9. Herman Cain
  10. Gary Johnson
  11. Fred Karger

Crucify me if you must – especially those who like Bachmann and Cain – but once people begin paying attention I think they’ll retreat to the candidates they feel are most safe. I think Bachmann makes a good run but the press is out to destroy her and there’s still enough of an establishment base of Republicans out there to prevent her from winning. Nor would they let a complete political outsider like Herman Cain emerge, either.

Obviously that’s not the order of my preference, either, but I’m sure I occupy a place somewhat to the right of the GOP electorate at large – particularly in several early primary states where the balloting is open to independents as well. I’m sure I’ll be disappointed with the early state primary results like I was in 2008.

But I won’t give up the fight – come on America, I dare you to prove me wrong.

For President 2012: Entitlements

First of all, let me define the parameters of the discussion: to me, entitlements are Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare, and the like. Anytime the government redistributes wealth that wasn’t earned by the recipient, that’s an entitlement – which means Social Security and Medicare do count once the amount originally contributed by the recipient is reached. Thirteen points are at stake this round.

Michele Bachmann has as her “number one priority” to repeal Obamacare, and decries the “entitlement mentality” many Americans have. She advocated “reform” before she got into the Presidential race, and what she said is a pretty good start. I’d like a faster pace myself, but she’s got the right ideas. Seven points.

He starts down the right road, but doesn’t go all the way down it. Moreover, he advocates more tinkering with the tax code and that conflicts with some of his other positions. Nevertheless, Herman Cain has the right ideas about who should be the safety net, though, so I’ll give him nine points.

I have a big problem with some of Newt Gingrich‘s so-called solutions because they begin with the argument that the current Medicare/Medicaid model just needs to be tweaked, with government remaining firmly in control. It’s the replacement of Obamacare he calls for rather than a repeal. I don’t buy it as “fundamental reform.” And this from the guy who got welfare reform passed? His record on Social Security is a start, but doesn’t go far enough. He gets only three points.

Jon Huntsman hints at the idea of using states as laboratories, calls Obamacare ‘top-heavy,’ and likes the Ryan Medicare plan. But I’m troubled that he’s ‘comfortable‘ with a mandate. I’m not sure where he stands on other entitlements, though, so I can only give him five points.

“Responsible entitlement reform” is Gary Johnson‘s mantra. He wants to “revise the terms” of entitlement programs as well. But I thought he’d be more bold than the tinkering around the edges he seems to be advocating – a better step is doing away with Medicare Part D. I’ll give him eight points.

Fred Karger thinks the size of entitlements needs to be on the table. But that’s about all the service he gives to it so I have no idea what else he wants to do. I’ll grant him one point.

There’s a lot to like about the approach that Thad McCotter takes, but he has the same basic flaw Newt Gingrich does – he maintains entitlement programs with some tweaking. If the current systems are “unsustainable” I don’t think making a few fixes (which could be wiped away at any time) is the answer. Only weaning people off dependence is. He’ll get five points.

I like one statement Roy Moore makes: “Churches and charitable organizations should be encouraged to help the needy and poor.” Now, if he has fidelity to the Constitution as he says he does I think he should follow through on eliminating entitlements altogether – please find for me the point in that document where Americans have a right to entitlements. I’m going to give him nine points.

You know, I thought Ron Paul would go farther in health care, But abolishing Social Security – that’s a winner in my book. Let’s hope he hasn’t changed his mind – he gets 12 points.

Tim Pawlenty made some aggressive health care reforms in Minnesota. He also worked to “slow down, limit, or negate Obamacare” while governor. He’s a little more tepid when it comes to Social Security, though, as he favors means testing and perhaps raising the retirement age. While he makes sense at a state level I’m not sure his ideas there will translate nationally. And as for Social Security, that’s not real reform, so I’ll only give him six points.

Like many others, Buddy Roemer will ‘reform’ items within the system rather than change a flawed paradigm. He likes the Ryan Plan, “but it’s not good enough.” I like his idea of the opting out of Medicare option, though, so I’ll bump him up seven points. Maybe we can get Medicare to ‘wither on the vine’ yet.

The problem with Mitt Romney is that this sounds reasonably good but it belies his record as governor of Massachusetts. And I don’t want to reform entitlements, but set ourselves on the path to eliminate them entirely. I’ll give him five points for saying nice things.

Once again, the vision of Rick Santorum is “reform” and not eliminate. He’s absolutely right when he says the entitlement ‘addiction’ is bad for the country, but doesn’t go far enough to end it. We need more like cold turkey for the younger generation – including myself. He gets seven points.

So it’s beginning to look like a two-person race. But notice that Ron Paul has come back into contention, Roy Moore is still hanging close, and Rick Santorum is still a dark horse. The rest are fading farther behind because they don’t have that vision thing about limited government or they wish to limit some of the wrong things.

  • Michele Bachmann – 53 points
  • Herman Cain – 50 points
  • Roy Moore – 46 points
  • Ron Paul – 42 points
  • Rick Santorum – 40 points
  • Thad McCotter – 38 points
  • Newt Gingrich – 33 points
  • Tim Pawlenty – 26 points
  • Buddy Roemer – 26 points
  • Gary Johnson – 24 points
  • Mitt Romney – 23 points
  • Jon Huntsman – 6 points
  • Fred Karger – (-15) points

There’s one word for Barack Obama: Obamacare. That alone is worth the full thirteen point deduction.

“We will run ads talking about, in honest terms the end of entitlements.” That’s what Randall Terry said in January. “All entitlements should be phased out.” I can’t wait to see them, but for me that message is winner, winner, chicken dinner. He gets 12 points, but only because I haven’t seen the actual plan. It puts him ahead of a couple GOP stalwarts; then again, he’s running as a Democrat only to be in Obama’s primary. I bet he’d be in decent shape if he were more forthcoming.

  • Randall Terry – 11 points
  • Barack Obama – (-60) points

We move next to trade and job creation. Most Republicans should score well, but this has some potential to shake up the top contenders – particularly when 14 points are at stake and five players are within that margin (not counting negative totals.)