Paths to Victory

I have heard recently several conservative commentators marvel about how Newt has risen to the top and stayed there and how Mitt has never gotten over 30%.  It shouldn’t be a surpriseI explained it all months ago.  I’ve said as long ago as this that Mitt is in deep trouble.  He looked pretty good when there were six candidates splitting the other 70% of the vote and 40% were still undecided.  But Romney has always only appealed to fiscal conservatives.  He coasted through the first several months of this election and many in the establishment, now including George Will and Ann Coulter, assumed that his steadiness and assumed front runner status had something to do with him being the best candidate.

So can Romney win?  What about Paul and his recent rise in the polls?  Does he have a shot?  Here is a strategic look at where the candidates stand right now.

Newt Gingrich

Newt has managed to be that candidate who attracts social and fiscal conservatives.  It is his nomination to lose.  So far he has handled attacks perfectly.  Consider Nancy Pelosi’s claim that if he runs she will have a field day spreading every secret from his ethics investigation.  How does he respond?  By stating that out of 84 counts, 83 were dismissed and the 84th was a simple mistake he made and how if Nancy Pelosi is willing to spread secrets from the ethics committee investigation that proves just how corrupt she was in that investigation.  That’s Newt 2, Pelosi 0.  Those type of responses will continue to bolster him.

Next, he has to keep making speeches like he did to the Republican Jewish Coalition.  Newt showed the intelligence and wit that makes conservatives like me giddy about him opposing Obama.  Newt has to keep running on those ideas, setting the record straight, and not going after fellow Republicans who attack him.  I think he slipped up a little when he said Bachmann is factually challenged.  Newt’s message has to stay positive and focused on undoing and being the opposite of Obama.

Mitt Romney

As I said before, Romney’s only prayer in this race is to come out strongly to the social conservative side in a big, public way.  Maybe he needs to go protest in front of an abortion clinic, spend some of his Newt attack ad money on an ad clearly denouncing Obama for making bibles illegal at some military hospitals, or something like that.  Romney will never win this election with only DC establishment backing and fiscal conservatives.  Right now he barely has better electability to run on.  And the attacks from his surrogates are easily being linked back to him.  His smooth Reaganesque style and kindness on the debate trail is getting ugly with people like George Will calling his opponents book selling charlatans and Ann Coulter accusing Newt Gingrich of wanting to do something similar to teaching school kids how to masturbate.  None of this reflects well on Romney.

Romney has to do very well in this next debate at highlighting better ideas, but definitely smaller government ideas.  Newt tends to talk about ideas that he could not do as President but would help the country.  Romney needs to jump on that and be the smaller government alternative.  Romney needs to win the 10th amendment fight in this next debate, while still appearing to be a stronger social conservative than everyone thinks he is.

Ron Paul

Paul’s biggest liability is himself.  His second biggest liability is his supporters.  One of the reasons Ron Paul hasn’t gotten higher in the polls is that people don’t want to support him if they think he is their enemy.  Paul has worked very hard to make himself the enemy of anyone he considers to his left.  In the debates he comes across as abrasive and angry.  His pet issues cloud many great issues that most conservatives would agree with him on.  Hint hint, Ron Paul, constitutionalists want to like you.  But when I sit there and think about my life, I really can’t think of what I did to cause 9/11 or why terrorists can kill Americans because of Jimmy Carter’s foolish foreign policy and what every President has done since then.

Part of Paul’s problem is that his foreign policy approach reflects history, but not reality.  Paul can pontificate all he wants on how we got here, but most conservatives don’t like his solution for how we get home.  In a quick draw, when you drop your gun turn around and walk away, Bin Laden types usually just shoot you in the back.  Who cares if it’s your fault you got in that situation in the first place.  Personally, I don’t want to be shot in the back.

Ron Paul was his best this year when he was talking about domestic policy and when he showed even an ounce of grace in the debates towards his fellow Republicans.  One last thing, Paul will never win over conservatives with his states rights approach to abortion.  No true pro-lifer is going to vote for a guy who is going to ensure that abortion stays legal in most of the states.

Rick Perry

Perry really needs to reassess his chances.  His only shot is a good showing in Iowa, as in 2nd place or better.  He needs to nail every debate going forward.  Perry needs a “My Fair Lady” transformation.  For starters, he can learn how to pronounce Nukuler.

His ideas are not bad.  His tenth amendment stance is very good.  But he has a lot of competition among candidates who are pro-tenth amendment, and his HPV vaccine debacle ruins his credibility on personal freedom.

Jon Huntsman

Huntsman could easily be in the 2012 Presidential race.  All he has to do is switch parties.  I’m being completely serious.  Jon Huntsman could guarantee that Obama does not have another four years by changing to Democrat and running against Obama in the 2012 primary as a moderate.  Of course, he would have to kneel before Pelosi/Reid to get the necessary credibility.

Michele Bachmann

In order for Bachmann to win, two things have to happen.  First, Obama has to get so low in the polls and believe it or not do even more stupid things so that anyone could beat him (even Trump).  Then, Bachmann would have to convince TEA Partiers that she is their candidate more than Newt, Perry or Santorum.  Unfortunately for Bachmann, if absolutely anyone could defeat Obama and electability wasn’t an issue, there is another candidate who would still take the TEA Party vote before she would.

Rick Santorum

If the TEA Party is going to come home to anyone, it would be Rick Santorum.  Get ready, it could happen in Iowa.  Santorum has never been taken seriously because people doubt his electability.  He lost in Pennsylvania.  Of course, that year every Republican in Pennsylvania lost.  Not only that, but some of our best Presidents won after losing senate races.  If you listen to Newt, you know two famous historical names, Lincoln and Douglas.  Did you know Lincoln’s victory was a rematch of their senate race two years before?  Guess who won that senate race.

If one more star is going to rise before this primary is over, it will be Santorum and it will be because the TEA Party takes Bachmann’s advice and says screw electability.  If that happens, Santorum has to be ready for the vetting process with ideas that will knock our socks off and make Romney and Newt look like morons.  Santorum has to not be George Bush II on the war and he has to convince fiscal conservatives that he can get spending under control.  He also has to convince libertarians that he will stay out of their homes.  That’s a tall order for Santorum.

Positively Entertainment?

Earlier this election season, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain sat down in a one on one debate that displayed Newt’s intellectualism and fast thinking, and Cain’s graciousness.  It’s starting to look like Newt will have a shot at another one on one debate as only he and Rick Santorum have agreed to The Donald’s debate on Ion Television, sponsored by Newsmax. 

Mitt Romney politely declined, Paul said no and Huntsman inferred that the whole thing was about Trump’s ratings.  George Will has also infamously declared that the Trump debate is below Presidential politics.  Perry and Bachmann have not confirmed, although Bachmann said she believes Trump will be biased because he is already leaning towards a candidate.  How that makes this debate different from any MSNBC or CNN debate where the moderators are already in the bag for Obama, I’m not sure.

Who is going to be hurt from backing out of the Trump debate? Trump has already declared his position on many things.  Huntsman and Paul would both find themselves on opposite sides from Trump.  Romney probably won’t be hurt by snubbing Trump.

Will Santorum or Gingrich be hurt by accepting the debate?  For Newt, probably not.  For Santorum, the possibility for damage to his campaign is pretty big.  While he will be getting a great deal of facetime, Santorum will be answering questions from a very strong willed and strongly opinionated Trump while going up against Newt one on one.  It is a very risky move.  The risk will be compounded if Trump then endorses Newt.

Bachmann and Perry’s non-committal stance currently is only making them more irrelevant. It also comes across as indecisive.

Or is it helping to make Trump more irrelevant?  Trump has said that if the candidate he wants doesn’t get in the race, he will run as a third party candidate.  Is it better to cater to the crybaby?  Or ignore him?  And honestly, would Trump get any votes as a third party candidate, when four more years of Obama is on the line?

Debunking Newt Mythology

Ok, hold on a minute.  Let’s talk about Newt.

The left has gone all in on Newt.  After three years of seeing that the Democrats have an empty hand with Obama, they have put all their chips on the table and dared us to run Newt.  And as usual, we are folding.  Same thing happened in 2008 when the left and the media scoffed at Mitt Romney and said that the only candidate who could ever beat their guy was John McCain.  Believe it or not, we listened.  For the smarter party, Republicans sure can be stupid.

Now the left is saying it will be a cake walk if we run Gingrich and the only serious candidate who can beat their guy is Romney, or maybe Huntsman, although they seem to have figured out that one is a hard sell.  So why are we listening again?  Ann Coulter came out slamming Newt and endorsing Romney.  George Will has attacked Newt Gingrich.  And what for?

Newt got $1.8 million from Freddie Mac.  Not really, it was actually Newt’s company.  But he did it by lobbying.  Well, again, no.  Newt did not lobby for Freddie Mac, but his company did provide consulting services to Freddie Mac.  Now, I am a businessman and a lot of what I do involves consulting.  Does that mean I can never run for President in case one of my clients does something bad someday despite my advice?  Maybe.

Let’s take it out of the business realm.  Pretend you own a garage and you fix cars.  If George Soros drives up and asks you to change the oil, will you turn him away?  Are you a liberal if you change his oil?  What about Bernie Madoff before he was caught?  Are you part of his illegal pyramid scheme because you changed his tires?

It would be one thing if Newt counseled Freddie Mac on how lose billions of dollars, get bailed out, and pay everyone huge bonuses.  But if you are looking for that smoking gun, you are looking at the wrong person.  Try Franklin Raines, Jamie Gaerlick, etc.  Enough with the guilt by association.  Newt did consulting for large businesses, and they paid his company rates that large, multi-billion dollar businesses pay for high level consulting.

Ok, but Newt sat on a couch with Nancy Pelosi.  Yes, he did.  He also had debates with Cuomo, Kerry and Sharpton.  Newt Gingrich is not going to implement cap and trade to prevent global warming.  That’s about as crazy as saying Mitt Romney is going to support partial birth abortion.  Seriously, you have my word that neither of those will happen.  Newt wasn’t endorsing Nancy Pelosi any more than Al Sharpton was endorsing Pat Robertson.  If Sarah Palin stood next to Michelle Obama and did a PSA saying its good for kids to have a healthy diet, would you suddenly think that Palin supports federal government takeover of school lunches? Newt has fought vigorously against cap and trade.

Well, what about Newt supporting a healthcare mandate?  When Hillary was pushing Hillarycare, which would take responsibility away from people, Newt signed on with the Heritage Foundation’s alternative that included an individual mandate. After researching it, Newt backed off that position.  He never implemented it for an entire state, or for anyone actually.  Newt is not going to implement a healthcare mandate on the entire country.  Guess what, neither is Romney.

In fact, let’s talk Romney for a minute.  Mitt Romney is pro-life.  He opposes gay marriage.  He makes Huntsman look like Hillary.  He supports tax cuts for the middle class and not raising taxes on employers and producers.  As much as Romney has been painted as the liberal in this bunch, he was the most conservative viable candidate in 2008 after Fred Thompson dropped out.  He may not be a card carrying TEA Party member, but he has said himself that he supports the TEA Party and shares all of their goals.  By the way, I never got a card either.  I really don’t think they issue them, even if Bachmann has one.

Why did Romney lose in 2008?  It all came down to two reasons.  Number one, Romney was not moderate enough to get the “independents”.  He was too conservative.  Only John McCain could beat the Democrat in 2008 by reaching across the aisle and not being so extreme.  Reason number two, the infamous time-table for withdrawal charge.  Romney said that when the time came to draw down the troops from Iraq, he supported a time-table for an orderly withdrawal.  His opponents turned that into Democrat style cut and run.  No matter how many times he tried to explain that was not what he believed, that became the mantra.

What about Rick Perry?  Why aren’t we going around saying that Rick Perry is going to implement cap and trade because years ago he was a Democrat working on the campaign of the future Nobel prize winner and global warming snake oil salesman, Al Gore?

The only person we have to actually worry about doing half the crazy stuff he’s been accused of thinking is Ron Paul!

So let’s not let people choose our candidate for us.  Research what you hear about candidates.  Just because George Will thinks you are too dumb to vote doesn’t make it so.  Each of the candidates left have some great ideas, and each one will do a far better job at running this country than the current President.  Did Cain have some foreign policy gaffes?  Shoot, the last three years have been an Obama foreign policy gaffe.

Part of this election cycle that Romney has skipped sofar has been the knife in the back from the right and the dare to run that candidate from the left.  Considering how well Newt is handling this complete onslaught from the right and left, wouldn’t you rather have him going up against Obama than the candidate that no one is vetting?  McCain got plenty of vetting after Romney dropped out in 2008.

This is not an endorsement of Newt.  I will make an endorsement of a candidate after the Jacksonville, Florida debate in January.  But this is a serious question to our party.  Why do we have to self destruct again?

Trunkline 2012: Sunday Election News Review-12//4/11

Bookmark and Share ****Cain gone, Newt Ahead in Iowa, Coming in second: Ron Paul?? *****

With Cain gone, the field is looking more and more like Gingrich/Romney.  Meanwhile, liberal pundits and even some conservatives seem to be praying that Newt’s rise will be as long lived as Bachmann’s, Perry’s and Cain’s.  Is it really Santorum’s turn?  How about Ron Paul’s?

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Jon Huntsman – Manchurian Candidate to Washington President?

Former Ambassador to China and Utah Governor Jon Huntsman has been rarely talked about when it comes to contenders for the Republican Party Presidential nomination. Huntsman is often referred to as the other the moderate candidate, Huntsman’s disadvantage is because he has served his country abroad in a number of high-level government positions under both Republican and Democratic presidents. It also stems from the belief that his policies although conservative, are not as right leaning as those of most of his rivals.

While other candidates attack each other and news networks finding it fantastic for viewing figures, it is likely that most of the current field will be too badly damaged after the primary process to seriously challenge President Obama in the national election campaign. Huntsman has adopted a very shrewd approach highlighting other candidate’s weaknesses, but remaining focussed on policy and his own consistency up to this stage.

Mitt Romney is often referred to as the moderate candidate with Huntsman the other moderate candidate. Like Romney, Huntsman is a Mormon and some narrow minded people have tried to raise the religious issue in the race. My answer is simple, people didn’t want a Catholic in the White House not so long ago, and JFK managed to inspire a young nation and set in motion the ambition for NASA to get a man on the moon, not bad for a Catholic I say but moreover, what could a Mormon achieve? Should religion be a factor in this race, no, the only thing that should matter is someone’s ability to do the job and deliver. Huntsman has ample ability and like Bill Clinton, has a record of proven ability as governor, but also recognises the need for strong and effective diplomacy, to meet the world challenges facing us all.

So what is my case for Huntsman being able to mount a serious late surge and cause an upset? It is simple, he has policies which although may not be the extreme conservative stances most GOP supporters would wish for. Huntsman would appeal to both GOP supporters and independents in a general election and his appeal will only increase more, once his face recognition improves.

Huntsman as former governor of Utah possesses an excellent executive record built on cutting taxes, reducing waste and growing Utah’s economy. Utah weathered the economic storm and grew jobs while the rest of the country saw substantial job loss. He also has extensive foreign policy experience and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and able to speak Taiwanese Hokkein. Huntsman also has executive job creative experience working for his family’s business expanding its operation globally.

Huntsman has been blunt in saying America currently faces an economic deficit and a trust deficit. He promises to create a manufacturing renaissance and encourage “Made in America” jobs. He promises to focus on reducing joblessness across America.

Huntsman also advocates raising the retirement age in order to reduce the government’s Social Security and Medicare obligations, change the formula by which cost-of-living adjustments are determined and reduce benefits for high-income individuals.

Huntsman wants to repeal President Barack Obama’s “unconstitutional and unaffordable” health care law. In terms of broad reforms, he wants to streamline the Food and Drug Administration’s approval process to make it less expensive for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies to develop health care products.

On foreign policy, Huntsman calls for a withdrawal of United States troops from Afghanistan and says it “has evolved into an ill-advised counter-insurgency campaign which continues to carry heavy costs in terms of blood and treasure.” Huntsman supports the withdrawal of most U.S. troops from Iraq, but he opposes the planned withdrawal of all troops by December. “President Obama’s decision … to not leave a small, focused presence in Iraq is a mistake and the product of his administration’s failures.”

On the Iran issue Huntsman has been more measured but nonetheless firm saying he does not want Iran to get Nuclear weapon capability and is supportive of continuing efforts to make sanctions work. Huntsman has alluded to the real case scenario that if sanctions didn’t work then military action in conjunction with Israel would be the only option in the end: “My sense is that their ultimate aspiration is to become a nuclear power, in which case sanctions probably aren’t going to get you there. And that means likely, we’re going to have to have a conversation with Israel at some point.”

So why is Huntsman struggling in the polls, it is simple, face recognition. Most American’s outside of the state of Utah probably haven’t heard much about him, or even know what he looks like because of his overseas’s postings. Huntsman has based his efforts in New Hampshire for the early primaries making somewhere approaching on 120 stops throughout the state however; he still only gets 11 percent in the state polls.

What Huntsman needs to do is a better job at selling himself throughout the state and in the media. Three of his daughters have mounted an effective social media campaign which has probably done more for raising his profile then any marketing or communications consultant has up to this point.

Huntsman is currently struggling because he is the least known candidate domestically. If Huntsman can manage to find a way to sell himself more effectively and deliver a surprise result in New Hampshire, I believe he could be the one candidate who could take such momentum all the way across the finish line.

If I were a democratic strategist, Huntsman is the one candidate President Obama does not want to face in a General election. Bill Clinton defied expectations as a relatively unknown Arkansas governor to become one of the best modern American presidents in my opinion. I believe Huntsman is not as controversial as some of the other GOP candidates. He has the proven track record, is strong on policy and will not flip flop for the sake of gaining votes like Romney. The democrats would of had to vet him before appointing him to the most high profile Ambassadorial role that United States has China. Therefore, there cannot be too many, if any at all, hidden secrets to cause potential damage to him or his campaign.

Huntsman I believe would appeal republican, democratic and independent voters in an election and win their votes. Team Obama would not be able to run the negative campaign they want to run should Huntsman be the GOP nominee. Huntsman has an excellent record but more importantly, it would cripple their whole anticipated 2012 strategy and bring attention to President Obama’s economic and domestic record. The president can’t win on his record that is fact.

My tip, don’t bet against Huntsman going from the Manchurian Candidate, to Washington President.

 

 

 

The GOP Debate Gauntlet – Deciding The Nominee Or Face Time For Media Hounds?

Bookmark and ShareAs GOP primary voters wind down to the last couple of months before the selection process of a nominee begins there has certainly been no shortage of opportunity for the top polling candidates to get their message out.

Is it me or is there a GOP presidential debate every week?

For political junkies it is a fantastic schedule. The candidates squaring off on our tv’s, the trip up’s and slip up’s, the scolding of the media, the embellishing of records and the bickering about who has the biggest…….plan. All kidding aside there have been a few bright moments and some instances where policy has been articulated well to allow the voters to hear and decide who the best candidate would be to put the country back on the right track.

But does the grueling debate schedule also serve another purpose?

Lets be honest here, there are candidates whose funding, message and 15 minutes have dried up during the process but yet they remain there, on the stage, for nothing more than a little self promotion and face time. To steal a quote from ESPN’s weekly blooper segment: “C’Mon Man!”.

Michele Bachmann came out like a lion and is leaving like a lamb. Winning the Iowa straw poll gave her some hope but realistically the big dogs had yet to get on the porch in Iowa at the time. Although she has had some good moments in the debates her chances are slim to none. 28 foster children is admirable but repeating it time after time to people who want to know what you are going to do to help the job market won’t help a withering campaign bank account. Sorry congresswoman but after Iowa it may be time to sit down and pen that book you seem to be promoting. Get off the stage

Rick Santorum has spent a ton of time and money in Iowa. He has spent enough time in Iowa that he may have to file his state tax return in the Hawkeye state. Despite his near residency he is still polling at or near the bottom in the state that kicks off the election cycle. That alone should be enough to tell the former Pennsylvania Senator that it may be time to hang it up. In a socially conservative state, the socially conservative candidate has not been able to gain traction. Not a good sign. He has performed well in the debates don’t get me wrong but if he can’t get off the ground in Iowa he isn’t getting off the ground at all. Especially after all of the effort he has put into it. If he is staying in for VP consideration or to gain viewers for a new Fox News show is unclear but staying in to win is not an option at this point. Your best in Iowa was not good enough. Get off the stage.

Jon Huntsman has also not made any major gaffes in the debate cycle but has yet to make a name for himself in a muddled field. China this, China that. Pointing to his foreign policy experience should be an asset to Huntsman but instead has made him seem like a 1 trick pony. Throw that in with his time in the Obama administration and although it may be unfair, he comes off to the everyday voter as Obama’s China guy and using the words Obama and China in the same sentence doesn’t bode well with GOP voters at the moment. Noting your experience with China every time you get a chance to speak however may land you a spot in the next GOP administration but other than that there is no reason for Huntsman to remain in. Get off the stage.

Ron Paul has been polling well. That is to say better than he has in past presidential primaries. However even his supporters, of which I am one, realize his chances of winning a GOP nomination are almost non-existent. His values are more Libertarian than Republican, everyone knows it and he is unapologetic for it. Some of the ideas he was ostracized for in past primaries have become GOP rallying calls but it still doesn’t hide the fact that he simply is not what GOP voters are looking for. He is still raising enough money and polling well enough to stay in the race but is he going to stay in to win or to gain a national stage for his Libertarian philosophy? I think everyone with an ounce of sense knows it is the latter. He would do much better as a 3rd party candidate and would in the end probably help the GOP nominee by siphoning some of Obama’s more fiscally responsible but socially liberal supporters from the President. It pains me to say it but Dr. Paul – Get off the (GOP) stage.

Rick Perry is a car wreck on the side of the highway. It is very difficult to watch but you can’t help yourself from wanting to take a peek. Gaffe after gaffe has made him the poster boy for SNL skits. Couple that with a very poor decision to pick a fight with Mitt Romney in which he got his rear end handed to him and you have a flash in the pan campaign that started like it was shot out of a cannon and then exploded before it made impact with anything. debates are not Perry’s strong suit. Unfortunately for him there are a bunch of them. Another Fox News gig in the wings? He does have great hair. Governor, Get off the stage.

Hopefully these candidates will see the light after Iowa and bow out gracefully. They have nothing but a prayer of winning the GOP nomination and if they truly wan to show fiscal responsibility will quit wasting their donors money trying to do so. There will probably be a couple that remain in until the coffers run empty simply for self promotion and grandeur, but that’s what we get for scheduling this many debates.

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Foreign Policy Reveals Different Strengths

Whether or not you think the GOP has a strong field, one thing is for sure.  Any of these candidates would be better than Obama when it comes to foreign policy.  That came across clearly from more moderate voices like Jon Huntsman in addition to the two front runners.  Overall it was a great performance by all the candidates.  The contrast between the GOP field, including Ron Paul, and Barack Obama was clear.  So, here are the winners and losers:

Mitt Romney won the debate because of his smooth ability to introduce ambiguity on some issues to give all Conservatives a cushion of comfort.  See Newt’s performance below.  Mitt also took on Ron Paul and I think Mitt won that debate.  It seems pretty clear that Al Qaida terrorists and Timothy McVeigh do not represent the same sort of threat.  In fact, I would argue that lumping McVeigh, a disgruntled anti-American government citizen attacking the system, in with the 9/11 hijackers, foreign terrorists attacking and targeting United States civilians, is a very dangerous way of looking at foreign and domestic terrorism.  I sure hope we would treat a foreign terrorist crossing our border illegally differently than a citizen radical trying to build a bomb in their basement because the IRS just sent them another tax notice.

Jon Huntsman demonstrated his firm control of foreign policy issues.  I think he overcame some fears when he affirmed our strong relationship with Israel.  Huntsman also expressed sentiments on Afghanistan that have been felt by many Conservatives who were mislabeled as “neo-cons” over the last decade.  Many Conservatives supported both wars, but do not support something for nothing nation building in nations that don’t respect us and don’t appreciate the sacrifices we have made.  Huntsman turned again and again to the economy and the failures of Obama and Congress to solve the problem.  Huntsman’s point on how we leave North Korea alone because they have a nuke, but invaded Libya after they gave up their nuclear ambitions is a great diagnosis of the inconsistency in America’s position towards nuclear ambitious countries.

Newt had a great, issue free performance.  Here is the problem.  Newt comes across hawkish, and he is far too honest.  In the end, Mitt agreed with him on long-time illegal immigrants, but Mitt said it in such a way that will be taken better by anti-illegal alien Conservatives.  Newt also hurt himself by endorsing and calling for an expansion of the Patriot act.  This could help guarantee that Ron Paulites stay home and let Obama get re-elected in 2012.  What Newt should have said was that he supported the Patriot Act, but recommends examining it for things that could be eliminated or added.  I think Newt is too straight forward on a subject that honestly Americans would prefer some ambiguity on.  Same with covert operations.  His answer regarding opening our oil resources is not new, but continues to be a very strong point for him.

Ron Paul continued to solidify his base and add some fringe Conservatives who are weary enough of the wars to want to radically change America’s relationship with the world.  For these people, Paul’s angry old man persona, scoffing and reacting to opponents’ answers, and idea that if we leave terrorists alone, they will realize the error of their ways and leave us alone, will not affect his support.  Still, Paul would make a better foreign policy President than Obama.  At least his disengagement would be total, not mixed with war hawkishness like Obama’s.

Rick Perry’s substance earned him a higher spot after this debate.  I still think his idea of zero based budgeting for foreign aid resonates with Americans.  His refusal to dabble in hypotheticals about illegals who have been here more than a quarter century is going to help him as people weed out Romney and Gingrich’s immigration comments and discover the softness there.

Herman Cain did well not to hurt himself in this debate.  He has come across as unknowledgeable on foreign policy.  In this debate he showed he has a recognizable set of foreign policy principles, although he kept things pretty vague.  He didn’t hurt himself and that is a victory for him on foreign policy.

Rick Santorum comes across as a neo-con.   This debate didn’t really change that, and only a change in that perception would cause his status to change as a result of this debate.  No mistakes, but also no movement for him after this debate.  He continues to maintain that we should be paying Pakistan for friendship.

Michele Bachmann is either a career politician or has issues with comprehension.  On multiple occasions she seemed to not be able to grasp her opponent’s position.  A glaring example was when she interpreted Newt’s soft approach to long-time established illegals as some sort of call for general amnesty to 11 million illegal aliens.  She played the same role in Rick Perry’s demise, but now it seems more like a desperate cry for relevance.  Rising and falling as the Social Conservative choice at this point will require superiority on the issues, not loud misunderstanding of opponents, even though that usually produces success with the general electorate.

No matter who the nominee is, what is clear from last night is that we cannot afford four more years of Obama’s foreign policy.

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