Gary Johnson Shoots the Moon in NH

Gary Johnson is in. He announced Thursday morning outside the New Hampshire statehouse that he intends to run on a platform of ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, cutting defense, Medicaid and Medicare by 43% each, raising the retirement age for Social Security, and legalizing marijuana.

Johnson stated that he has never supported the Iraq war, and while he once supported the war in Afghanistan, now believes that it is time to bring the troops home. AP reports that Johnson made the official announcement to about a dozen supporters.

Johnson is a relatively obscure candidate who served as governor of New Mexico from 1995-2003. He received a mix reception at CPAC earlier this year and is generally viewed as outside of the Republican mainstream. However, he is sure to turn some independent heads. In addition to calling for a repeal of Obamacare, Johnson also called for a repeal of the Republican passed Medicare Part D prescription drug subsidy.

Johnson is not considered by most to be a contender, but he hopes to change that with a strong showing in libertarian leaning

Gary Johnson puts it all on the line in New Hampshire

New Hampshire. Johnson feels that New Hampshire can rocket him “…from obscurity to prominence overnight with a good showing in New Hampshire.”

If a Bush were to ever get back into politics…

On November 3rd, 2008 the idea of a Bush ever running for political office again seemed pretty silly. We had a bad taste in our mouth from George H.W. Bush promising not to raise taxes, and then raising them. We had an even worse taste in our mouth from George W. Bush with his wars and deficits in the couple hundred billions. The name had become synonymous with bad politics and even most Republicans knew that the words “Bush” and “good president” in the same sentence was political suicide.

With all that, very little attention was paid to the Bush in Florida who retired five years ago after reaching the state’s term limit on the governor’s office. Jeb Bush left Florida in a far better position than he found it and still enjoys incredible popularity today in the state.

Jeb Bush is still very popular in Florida

I remember going to a McCain rally in NE Florida during the 2008 campaign. When Jeb was announced to introduce John McCain, I wasn’t the only Floridian on my feet enthusiastically cheering. In fact, we cheered harder for our former governor than we did for McCain.

Jeb still maintains great popularity in the state. A few months ago, Public Policy Polling reported that Bush was the only Florida potential candidate who would defeat Bill Nelson for the Senate seat in 2012, if he ran. This was before Nelson walked away from his seat on the Armed Forces Committee which may seal his 2012 doom no matter who he runs against.

George Bush won Florida in 2000 and 2008. In both elections, those 27 electoral votes would have been the difference between a Gore or Kerry Presidency. In 2008, Obama won Florida, but he could have afforded to lose it. I have little doubt that Florida would go the Republican’s way in a Jeb Bush presidential run.

But what about the rest of the country? For the other 49 states, Jeb is not even on the radar and the name Bush still scares a lot of people. On the other hand, as we face a third year with deficits in excess of a trillion dollars and war under Barack Obama, the name Bush isn’t quite as scary as it used to be.

Bush is fluent in Spanish and has a very good relationship with the Hispanic community. He has been quick to advocate for them and to point out how Democrats use that issue as nothing more than a political advantage. He also has been able to maintain a reputation as a moderate and a conservative; a tricky balancing act that voters can easily see through if not done right.

Bush does have some strikes against him with far right conservatives. He opposed the Arizona immigration law and supports state bankruptcy. This puts him in company with others like Pawlenty and Gingrich, but would certainly raise eyebrows in a 2012 primary that is certain to still be riding the TEA party sentiments of 2010.

Bush has sofar elected to stay out of the 2012 race, but has hinted that he may seek the nomination in the future. Given the political landscape going into this race, this may be a wise decision. While Bush is a solid conservative choice and a proven leader, the current issues and divisions on the right do not favor him. So far he has also opted out of the 2012 Senate race. But if a Bush could ever go back to DC in our lifetimes, it would be Jeb.

Rand Paul – Sweet Spot or Easy Target?

Bookmark and Share    In 2008 we were introduced to the Ron Paul Revolution.  Everyone from right-wing libertarians to hardcore liberals were donning Revolution shirts.  Ron Paul, a staunch pro-lifer and limited government candidate, gained support from right-wingers who were tired of bailouts, debt and big government.  As an anti-war candidate, he drew in many Bush hating moderates and liberals whose biggest beef was the Iraq war.

Despite stocking conventions and straw polls with loud, rambunctious supporters, Ron Paul remained a second tier candidate throughout the primary and eventually refused a third party run.  The biggest hit Ron Paul took was from establishment Republicans and supporters of the war on terror.  Many of us viewed his protectionist ideas as nice on paper, but naive after 9/11.

2010 Kentucky Senate Candidate Rand Paul

Enter Rand Paul in 2010.  Dr. Rand Paul is running for the Kentucky Senate seat previously held by Jim Bunning.  Paul is running against state attorney general Jack Conway.  So is he a viable 2012 candidate simply because he shares the family name?

Rand’s family name will certainly help usher him into the spotlight and could attract many of the libertarians, independents and moderates who who loved his father,  however the very thing that made his father so popular with those groups will make Rand popular with his own party.  Rand is not as protectionist like his father.  Rand’s views on war and national defense may not match up with the so-called Neocon view of spreading freedom or the Bush doctrine, but he does understand the importance of winning the wars we are in.  He also supports a strong national defense as the number one constitutional job of the federal government.

Rand Paul’s doctrine is one of Conservative Constitutionalism.  With an eye on returning to the Constitution, staunch pro-life stance, and fiscal conservatism, Rand Paul will be a darling of the Right.  At the same time, his message of limited government, relegating social issues to the states, desire to shed light on the Federal Reserve, and anti-UN stance will continue to attract Libertarians.  Finally, just like his father, his genuineness and political prowess may capture the hearts of many non-political, average Americans.

So is Rand Paul a potential sweet spot candidate for the Republican party?  He must be doing something right because of the attacks he has already faced on a national level.  For example, Rand Paul believes in constitutional limits on the Federal government.  For him, that means the government cannot legislate racial equality in people’s minds and should not force private individuals with private businesses to serve people they don’t want to.  In the minds of his opponents, it means that Rand Paul is a racist who believes blacks should drink at different fountains, and they have been very effective at leveling this attack.

Rand Paul also opposes abortion, even in the case of rape and incest.  However, he supports use of the morning after pill.  These two views are enough to give everyone on every side of the abortion debate enough ammo to gun him down.  On the other hand, the average American who opposes abortion, taxpayer funded abortion, and especially taxpayer funding of overseas abortion still elected President Obama, and Obama supports all three.

It is too early to tell if this Conservative Constitutionalist will be a 2012 contender.  At this point he has less political experience than our current President.  My guess is that he will make an attractive Vice President pick.  Paul’s political future has two speed bumps before we can get a clearer picture.  The big one is winning his 2010 Senate campaign.  The second is Steve Beshear’s 2011 governor’s race.  If Democrat Beshear wins a second term, Rand Paul may not be willing to sacrifice his seat in a tightly controlled Senate.  In Kentucky, the governor fills Senate vacancies.

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