Now that the mid-term elections are over, the race for the Republican Presidential nomination begins in earnest. Who appears as the best choice at such an early date?
Many name Mitt Romney as the current front runner. Yet it is doubtful that he could gain the support of Tea Party conservatives. He may have valuable experience in the private sector, but his support for the Massachusettes health care plan which was enacted while he was governor should make conservatives think twice about supporting him. He was a Republican governor in a Democratic state; this caused him to compromise with the Democrat majority. Has the experience solidified the habit of compromise in Romney so that he would cooperate with the Democrats in pushing their agenda if he were President? I would not be the only Conservative asking this question. If Romney were to get the nomination, conservative support may be lacking, which could lead to a Democrat victory in the general election. Romney was a more viable alternative in 2008. I voted for him in the primary; I was not about to vote for McCain. But this time around, nominating him may lead to a failure to regain the White House.
Mike Huckabee may cause damage to the conservative cause. I wouldn't label him as a conservative, but he could siphon off enough votes from a viable conservative candidate that could lead to a moderate winning the nomination. He himself has little chance of winning the nomination, but he could cause harmful division within conservative ranks. This is a greater danger if the Republicans fail to close their primaries to cross-over voters who want to sabotage the Republicans by saddling them with a nominee who can't win in the general election.
Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty is touted by some as a conservative with enough experience to get support from voters. However, he comes off as very shallow to me. He says he would run on his biography, how he rose from humble origins. Yet this seems to indicate that his view of the average voter is one who responds to impressions rather than content. One lesson to heed from the mid-terms is that voters have become more concerned over a candidate's positions on issues rather than their impressions. I don't think Pawlenty will get any traction.
Neither will Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana, get any traction with his statements that Republicans should abandon social issues and concentrate solely on economics.
Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio are rising stars, but it is probably too early in their careers for them to consider a 2012 run. I like Jindal, but I am not sure he could connect with people.
That leaves Sarah Palin. Yes, she has negatives, but I think she could overcome them, especially if she was running against an unpopular Democrat incumbent like Obama or Hillary Clinton. While she is sometimes inarticulate, so was Bush and that didn't stop him from winning. Yet she still has a rhetorical ability to advocate conservative policies so that she inspires as well as informs. I see no such ability among other possible contenders. At this point, the only viable candidate for the conservative voters who gave the Republicans control of the House of Representatives, is Palin. As for me, she is the only one I could trust to govern conservatively, not just in economic matters, but on social issues as well. The only person I could consider as a viable choice other than Palin is Rick Santorum, if he would choose to run.