Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Romney or McCain?

Well we’re back on the air after overcoming some "technical difficulties." (Let that be a lesson to you Crunchies; sometimes there are technical solutions to technical problems.)

Although no two polls from Iowa agree, it does seem that Romney is rebounding and Huck is slipping, at least among the most likely cacusers. The outcome is in doubt, but the big news will probably be that the overwhelming majority of the people of Iowa chose Huckabee or Romney. Right now it looks like the bronze medal will be given to someone (likely McCain) who finishes a distant third.

Things are looking better for McCain in New Hampshire, although apparently the famous independent vote there is leaning strongly toward Obama. He’s more "independent" of Bush than John, it seems.

All in all, many analysts seem to agree, as Peter indicates subtly below, that Giuliani, Thompson, and Huckabee have become very unlikely nominees. The real race, before even a single vote has been counted, may (may!) now be between Romney and McCain.

Although I was wrong on some obvious details, I was surely right to say that the Huck surge would benefit Mitt (as the socially conservative alternative to Huck) and John (as the authentic alternative to Huck). The Republican establishment, for no reason that makes any sense to me, persists in the shrill "anybody but Huck" mode. And that has produced the realization, as Peter suggests, that Giuliani and even McCain are insufficiently conservative. So there’s a lot of embracing, if not a lot of hearting, of Romney (see the three guys from Ohio Peter discusses below).

McCain, of course, operates best as an outsider and from behind. He clearly stunk as a front-runner and is back in business as a horse moving up from the outside. Will he stink again if he becomes a front-runner again? It’s time to take a hard look at the downsides of a McCain candidacy, just as we have a duty to continue to examine Romney critically and urge him to present himself more effectively. (Huck, too, flourished as an outsider and has been very tentative and mistake-prone as a frontrunner.)

The fact that John and Mitt are far from the best candidates ever suggests to me that Giuliani is not quite washed up yet. He could still surge in Florida and on Feb. 5. But I stand fast in my opinion that he would be the weakest of the Republican candidates.

One thing we can learn from the unexpected success of the Huckabee campaign is why Giuliani’s would fail either to energize the Republican base or appeal to the increasingly anxious members of the middle class.

The only candidates in my part of the world that have generated any enthusiasm are Huck and Ron Paul. Paul, we have to admit, is so authentic that he doesn’t worry about being authentic. In his own way, he’s the least demagogic candidate. He would, of course, be a terrible president.

Discussions - 7 Comments

I have just come from a wedding where the dinner conversation was on the campaign and "But WHO?" was the question of the evening. "Who not" is easy, except that everybody's "who not"s seem to extend to most of the Republican field. One guy was trying to get people to agree to register for the primary as Democrats to vote for Obama. "Anything to stop Hillary and in the general election Obama hasn't got a chance."

People would like to like McCain, but his campaign-finance reform still has people upset. "If he'd do that as senator, what might he do as president?" This was a Christian crowd and they would like to like Huckabee, but his politics remind folks of John Edwards (yes, I know, not quite true, but...), so he's out. People were regretful of Thompson and a few seemed to hope he might show himself better in coming months. "He's just laying back till the others are exhausted, then he'll charge ahead." was one guy's hopeful prediction. This crowd did not heart Romney and are skittish of Guiliani on the abortion issue. There is just dread out here of what the Iowans are going to do as if the nation is stuck with their choice.

Almost incidentally, even the few Democrats at this event were discouraged by their candidates responses to the Bhutto assassination. Everyone was disgusted by the various candidates trying to look "presidential" in advance of the Presidents statement and of the statements themselves. "I liked him, but he said ---- and how stupid can you be?"

But even the waitresses were hovering to hear the political talk. People are paying attention and are worried about their own dissatisfaction. They are at once hopeful and fearful of the early primaries. Hopeful that someone will emerge as the right candidate and fearful that they are going to be stuck with someone they don't like, once again.

It is disconcerting that the people who pay attention feel imprisoned by a strange process beyond their control. They get stuck with the results. I have no idea whom I'm going to vote for in the Georgia primary coming up. If the Republican race is over and the Democratic one alive, I'd probably go ahead and vote where I can have the illusion of impact. I wouldn't vote for Huckabee if I thought he could win, but I might if I thought that Giuliani had it wrapped up. And voting for Romney does depend, for me, both on his performance in the early contests and his personal performance on the campaign trail. I might vote for him or even McCain as the best we're stuck with...This process is mighty short on real deliberation or generation of responsibility or enthusiasm.

"He would, of course, be a terrible president."



Well of course. We wouldn't want a President who actually tried to follow the Constitution. That would be silly.

I have voted for the Republican Presidential candidate in every election since 1964. Under no circumstances ... none ... will I vote for Mitt Romney. I do not know what he really stands for. I do know that as Governor of MA he destroyed the health insurance business there (just take a look at the long list of carriers who will not do business in the state, and the un-affordability of coverage). I do not trust the guy, and I am thoroughly dismayed by the way he panders to the anti-immigration segment of the electorate.

wouldn't vote for Huckabee if I thought he could win, but I might if I thought that Giuliani had it wrapped up

Do you really treat votes so cheaply that you use them as protests. It's only worth voting for someone you really believe in, especially in a party primary. This of course adds up to why I will (and I think the GOP) will choose Huckabee or McCain. They are the only two guys who take stands near to the heart of me and the GOP and don't back down-they have character. (Giuliani and Paul have character but their views stray too far from the GOP majority to win. I've never believed the standard bs that the contest will be G vs. R. Yeah right.)

I frequent this blog and usually agree; however, I, like Red Phillips above, would also like to know why the authentic and Constitution-loving Ron Paul is being dismissed by a group of academics who present themselves as students of the Constitution? What would make him a terrible president?

Academics need or at least want power. To keep power they need an establishment candidate, hence they support neither Paul nor Huckabee. Of course, if and when Huckabee wins, they'll suddenly be his best friend and cozy up to keep in power.

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