Examining the Candidates

I spoke last night at a local Republican club. My assignment was to examine all the Republican contenders for the presidential nomination. I knew this might be a tough assignment simply because each one would have some supporters in the audience. My approach, therefore, despite my own personal leanings, was to be as impartial as possible. For each candidate, I shared what the candidate himself/herself identified as strengths, and why voters should choose them. Then I turned to the critiques that have been aimed at each one—not necessarily my critiques, but the most common ones in the perceptions of the electorate.

There were some things I didn’t say, such as there are only three that have any real chance of getting the nomination, in my view. Neither did I express my grave concerns that if Romney is the nominee, the Republican Party will be going in reverse. I was told by those who spoke with me afterward that I achieved my goal of impartiality. Some said they deeply appreciated the “summary” I provided. So I guess I traversed this minefield successfully.

One thing I could tell everyone is that if the Florida primary were held today, I would be unsure which candidate would get my vote. For those of you who read this blog regularly, you know I’ve been partial to Cain. I like his unconventional approach to campaigning—not bowing to the gods of traditional electioneering who say you have to spend 90% of your time in Iowa, and you cannot spend time promoting your book. For Cain, promotion of his book is effective electioneering. It allows voters to get a better sense of the man. I also like his ultimate goal for establishing the Fair Tax, which will eliminate the personal income tax.

Neither am I convinced that the accusations of sexual harassment have much weight. I don’t think the character of the accusers should give anyone confidence that they are practiced truth-tellers.

I have growing concerns, though, on two fronts. First, Cain’s campaign staff has handled this challenge poorly. They began lobbing their own unproven accusations against others, with Cain participating. They’ve had to walk back far too many comments. For someone who says he will choose the best advisers as president, this doesn’t inspire confidence. The second concern is whether Cain really can come up to speed on foreign affairs. While I trust his instincts on knowing the difference between a true friend and an enemy, he needs to exhibit more expertise in that arena.

Lately, I’ve been giving Gingrich a second look, which surprises even me. He’s very intelligent and can dominate a debate when he’s “on.” I’ve commented often on his personal baggage from the past. That won’t go away. I am prepared to believe he has undergone a sincere repentance over his self-initiated divorces, but the consequences of those actions will stay with him into any general election. So will his history of low public approval polling during the Clinton years. Can he overcome all of that? I don’t know.

Here’s what I do know for sure. Regime change is essential. If we’re going to even have a nation that in any way resembles what the Founding Fathers sought, the Obama administration must become a thing of the past. That is so important that I would even vote for Romney in the general election, if necessary. It would be a anti-Obama vote, not a pro-Romney vote, for sure.

But wouldn’t it be nice to have someone to vote for, rather than against?