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The Republican Presidential Primary: Let's Make Sense of the Mess
With roughly a year and a half remaining before Election Day, a slew of Republican candidates are gearing up for a presidential run. As an independent voter (liberal on social issues, moderate on foreign policy and fiscal issues), I frankly have no idea who I'll vote for come November 6th, 2012. Given the current situation, I'm curious: how are Americans supposed to make sense of the bumper crop of presidential hopefuls and aspirants the Republicans seem to have cultivated? More simply: can any of these candidates challenge President Obama in the 2012 race?

Looking at the candidates so far, probably not. Some have glaring flaws that preclude them from ever taking the highest office in the land. Take Tim Pawlenty, for example--who might as well have "generic conservative" branded on his forehead--the Minnesota Governor so unremarkable that the only thing that sets him apart from your garden-variety conservative is his self-proclaimed "red-hot smokin' wife". Please give me someone with fire and charisma, an actual unique take on the issues, and perhaps a public speaker who doesn't have to use his wife as a crutch because he doesn't know how to open his speeches.

Then there's the winner of the Republican debate from a few weeks ago, Herman Cain. Very recently, Cain made it official: he's running for president! Well grab some noisemakers and hit the dance floor, 'cause we got ourselves a party! More specifically, a Tea Party. Cain's a Tea Partier with a capital "Tea", which in a general election will probably translate to slim chances of ever winning broad appeal. He's a great public speaker, and he cuts right to the point--he's certainly no politician. His answers in the video below, from the debate, are quite emphatic and well-said:
Ultimately though, his strict conservative view on social issues cuts off a large swath of Democrats; his lack of governmental experience personally turns me off. He also lacks the temperament that the President of the United States requires on today's international stage. I admit, he's got a fiery rhetoric and even though I disagree with plenty of what he says, he completely captures my attention. But I can't imagine Herman Cain being like Obama and giving a speech in Egypt:
There's a part of me that admires his willingness to speak his mind. But I can't see him as president.

Moving along, Newt Gingrich is running, but since I couldn't stop myself from laughing while watching his campaign introduction video, I figure he's really not the candidate for me. Ron Paul is once again running, but I much prefer his less-libertarian, younger, healthier version: Gary E. Johnson.

The former governor of New Mexico, Johnson is one of my favorites so far. Here's a guy who I'd love to vote for: he's clearly got administrative experience, he knows how to balance a budget (having left New Mexico with a budget surplus at the end of his term,) and he's liberal enough on social issues like gay marriage, abortion, and the drug war that he could definitely attract attention from Independents and even Democrats too. I couldn't find a video of his performance at the debate (which was rather poor), but there's this:
Unfortunately he's something of an awkward speaker--he doesn't have the oratory flair that Obama has, which could easily dash his chances of getting nominated. He's got great ideas though, and at the very least I'd love to see him as a Vice President.

Sadly, Mitch Daniels recently withdrew from consideration and Chris Christie won't run, so there goes two great candidates--particularly Christie, whose straight-shooting and willingness to make tough, unpopular decisions in my home state of New Jersey really made him stand out to me. Other possible candidates whom I haven't mentioned include Michele Bachmann (shudder), Rick Santorum (double shudder), and Sarah Palin (my head exploded).

Also there's Mitt Romney, but I prefer my candidates to be genuine on the issues instead of shifting their feet whenever the political winds slightly change.

As such, all of this leaves Jon Huntsman, my ideal pick. He's got an uphill battle ahead of him though if he wants to make the run, which he's still exploring, but if he does run he needs to get his name out there--a recent poll showed that 71% do not recognize his name. On the issues, Huntsman beats out Johnson; besides his social moderateness, he's got plenty of foreign policy experience and a knowledge of China that other candidates can only dream about. Plus, while he was governor of Utah, the state was rated by the Pew Center as the #1 best-managed state in the nation. Not too shabby.

That about sums up the chaos that is the Republican Party right now. So what would their ideal ticket be? Personally, I think a Huntsman/Johnson ticket would have the experience, the foreign policy cred, the moderation on social issues, and the fiscal conservativeness required  to beat Obama. I'm hoping Huntsman can attract more public attention and that perhaps Johnson can get more skill behind a podium. They're definitely the figures I'm watching right now.

That's my take. What do you think? What makes an ideal Republican candidate? Who should run? And do they even have a shot against Obama?
Thanks for that post. It was highly informative about the potential (or lack thereof) coming up to election season. 

Not schooled so hot on the possible candidates, I can only offer what I think are the most important issues America faces. Should any candidate convince me that his or her platform actually addresses these issues, then I'd be tempted to vote against Obama, but at this stage in the game, I highly doubt anyone will take him down. 

It's going to be hard for any republican candidate to come up on Obama and his team via a campaign of excellence in foreign policy. With America's international queasiness following the recession, the realm of international relations has become a highly visible political landscape. Questions about american stability abroad will continue to butt heads with China's imminent rise. A strong candidate for me will make his platform about international political and fiscal relations and tie that strongly to a decreasing standard of living domestically. A strong candidate for me will highlight the increasing economic disparity at home. Those with and those without, the gap is only widening. 

A moderate could potentially slip in here to address the fact that neither republicans nor democrats have the right approach. The social funding model of democrats vs the budget tightening one of republicans does little to address the reality that america is running a huge deficit and real people are paying the price.

it's all pretty yucky and discouraging. reminds me that it's always prettier to look locally, where maybe a candidate will actually help my life. What does a dead Osama do for me and my rent? 
With an incumbent president I imagine campaign season will be more about his record than anything else. Unless for some reason Obama tanks in popularity over the next 1.5 years he'll probably have another 4-year go at the white house.  In trying to tear him out of office, election season will probably end up focusing on his last 4 years more than anything.

The last time an incumbent was defeated was Bush the Elder. Not having been very politically conscious then I'm unable to speak on Clinton's campaign model, but were a republican to make a successful takeover of the white house in 2012 it'll probably have a lot to do with Obama messing up and though that is possible, I don't see it as likely. They're going to make moves for the senate though for sure. Man. I hate election season and we're still a ways away. 
Saw Gingrich dropping $500k on jewelry for his wife. That won't fly. 
 I read  yesterday that in a national survey it was found that 50% of Americans would not be able to produce $2000 in a hurry should a sudden unforeseen expenditure arise. Money is most certainly going to be the topic of the next election so it's ludicrous that we even entertained the idea for half a second that Donald Trump might take over the presidency. 

How come it's always the richest who are so convinced they know how to raise the rest of us out of our pockets? 

What's costing Americans money? that'll be the question we hear for the next 18 months. Obamacare returning to televisions near you.


(Great speech by Gary Johnson, seems like a very interesting candidate with realistic ideas)
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