Rudy: Fresh Candidate or Romney Clone?

Some are convinced that Rudy is ready to step into the 2012 primary.  But is Rudy going to bring something fresh to this race?  Or will he simply join the race as one more fiscal conservative who will turn off social conservatives and join McCain as one more perfect GOP candidate who goes down to the Left?

Rudy is focusing on New Hampshire and recently used an opportunity in that state to rip Romney for Romneycare as the “inspiration” for Obama’s own unconstitutional healthcare mandate.  The idea for the Rudy camp seems to be that he lost last time because he bet the farm on Florida and was crowded out by Romney and McCain.  Will things be different this time around?

This time, Rudy is betting the farm on New Hampshire and perhaps a game changing late entry.  Even if Rudy Guiliani pulls off an upset in New Hampshire, will that mean he represents the GOP?  Hardly. Rudy will need to contend with the Southern/Midwest social branch of conservatism, and if 2010 is any clue, he may very well lose Florida again.  Both Rick Scott and Marco Rubio captured the swing state on a complete social and fiscal conservative platform.

More likely, Rudy will capture the fiscal conservatives who can’t abide Romney’s weak explanation of his healthcare plan, and Romney will capture fiscal conservatives who are not as socially liberal on issues like abortion as Rudy Guiliani.  Could this provide an opening for a strong social conservative even in New Hampshire?

25% Chance Rand Paul Will Run?

According to Rand Paul, there is a 50-50 chance that one of the Pauls will run for President in 2012. Will it be him? Only if his father, Ron Paul, decides not to run this year. That makes the chances of a Rand Paul candidacy closer to 25%.

Which Paul do you want to see in 2012?

Rand Paul has been considered a top contender for the 2016 primary, among other freshmen like Marco Rubio. But few expect him, Rubio, or any of the other 2010 Republican first time victors to step into the ring, especially after how much criticism Obama has received for his measly two years of experience. The fact that Obama’s inexperience continues to conspicuously display itself won’t help.

On the other hand, Ron Paul had little shot of winning the Republican primary in 2008. If he chooses not to run in 2012, will Rand run to highlight the same conservative constitutionalist issues his father did? Perhaps, but not all the same issues since Rand is more mainstream on foreign policy. In fact, the differences between the two Pauls could be the difference between a fringe candidate with an obnoxious group of libertarian outcasts and a mainstream candidacy by a conservative/libertarian hybrid who could garner a Republican majority in 2012. He could also scrap up some of the anti-war Democrats his father charmed in 2008.

One thing is for sure, if Rand Paul runs it will be a boon to debate buffs who are excited about the intellectual dialogue that a Newt/Romney debate already promises. Having Rand on the stage will also guarantee that conservative constitutionalist issues are well represented.

CPAC a Clash of Ideologies

Legalize marijuana? Cancel the fence? Withdraw the troops? Lose in Iraq and Afghanistan and don’t look back? If you only listened to every other speech from CPAC, you might forget where you were. Pollster Tony Fabrizio was jeered for downplaying Ron Paul’s second consecutive straw poll win, but his comments were spot on. The consensus at CPAC is that government is too big. That may have been the only consensus.

Herman Cain also nailed it when he said the reason Obama is President is because too many conservatives stayed home rather than vote for a less than perfect candidate.

Ron Paul’s victory should not be ignored by the Republican Party. While he certainly does not represent mainstream Republicanism, his supporters could represent the difference between a Republican win in 2012 and four more years of Obama.

On the other hand, Paul needs to understand the influence he holds and the responsibility he has to promote conservatism to whatever degree he can. Ron Paul is so infatuated with individualism that I doubt he would call out his supporters for their shameful, liberal-like behavior when Cheney and Rumsfield were on the stage. Paul could learn a lesson or two from his son about how to defeat the left and build bridges with conservatives. Such reconciliation is his only path out of the peanut gallery.

Gary Johnson eliminated himself from the mainstream 2012 Republican primary with his libertarian views on drugs and immigration. However, he too represents a very significant part of not just Republicans, but the conservative constitutional movement. If Republicans truly want to return to the constitution, then federal drug prohibitions, international relations, and other differences appearing from CPAC must be dealt with and debated in a civil manner.

It would be far from fair to portray the libertarian wing of conservatism to be the only division, especially when Politico reports that Palin, Huckabee, and DeMint skipped the conference this year because of the presence of a gay conservative group at CPAC. Perhaps they could learn a lesson from Ann Coulter, a notoriously right wing radical Christian who keynoted a recent GOProud homosexual conservative conference and spoke about the gay conservative movement at CPAC.

I doubt even Paul’s supporters believe the straw poll is representative of the majority of conservative Republicans in the country. But if the various factions of conservatives cannot come together against the Democrat candidate after the 2012 primary, Herman Cain’s history lesson will repeat itself.

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