- Romney & Santorum will probably be roughly equal on defense, abortion, taxes, marriage, judges, and immigration.
- Romney will probably be somewhat better on spending/entitlements, though whether he’ll be aggressive enough remains questionable.
- Santorum is right that he’d campaign much more effectively against ObamaCare (though I trust both to repeal it). ObamaCare and RomneyCare can be sufficiently distinguished to neutralize the issue for Mitt, but Romney himself needs to do it – and so far, he hasn’t.
- Both candidates are gaffe-prone & have trouble refuting false narratives, though I’m unsure which will be a bigger liability: “Santorum as theocrat” or “Romney as corporate fatcat.”
The following rankings are based strictly on their performance last night, not their overall merit as candidates.
First Place: A tie between Michelle Bachmann and Newt Gingrich. I was surprised to see Bachmann at all, simply because she hadn’t made her intentions to run official before last night, and I didn’t expect to be as impressed with her performance as I was (I’ve always liked her passion for conservatism, but she has had a few foot-in-mouth issues). Bachmann was clear, polished, passionate, and generally delivered a performance that stood in stark contrast to the Left’s caricature of her as an unserious nut. Gingrich, unsurprisingly, delivered a performance that showcased his unmatched command of the details and a no-nonsense attitude that I think would have taken him far if…well, if he wasn’t Newt Gingrich, weighed down by all the baggage that entails.
Second Place: Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney. Solid performances, but more or less interchangeable in my view. Romney may have been a little more polished, though he’s lucky nobody forced him to get too specific about health care. Speaking of which…
Third Place: Tim Pawlenty. He would have been in a tree-way tie for second with Santorum and Romney, were it not for chickening out when given a chance to back up his attacks on RomneyCare. Tim does realize that, if he wins the nomination, he’ll have to say uncomplimentary things about Obama to his face, right?
Fourth Place: Herman Cain. I never expected to be as disappointed as I’ve been in Cain. Despite being able to speak with great confidence and clarity on economics, it’s clear he hasn’t made any effort to improve his foreign policy credentials. He also stumbled badly when trying to explain his remarks on the loyalty of Muslims, and I was disappointed to learn he wouldn’t support the Federal Marriage Amendment.
Fifth Place: Ron Paul. His delivery is so terrible that I can’t fathom how this guy managed to develop a cult of personality around himself. He comes across as the crazy uncle you’re constantly praying won’t embarrass you in front of dinner guests.
My latest NewsRealBlog post:
Before I sat down to write this article, I pinched myself just to make sure I was awake and today’s subject wasn’t some weird dream. But alas, talking heads on both sides of the political spectrum really are seriously entertaining the possibility of President Donald Trump.
At the Daily Beast, Jim DeFede reports on why several Florida Tea Partiers have said they’re backing the Donald:
“We need a real businessman,” said Linda Kogelman, 63, a retired postal worker. “The lawyers don’t know how to run the country. They bow down to too many people.” Kogelman said no one else in the Republican field excites her.
“There is no one there,” she continued. “Romney is old hat. Newt is old hat. It’s just the same old same old. We need new blood.”
Her husband, Ken, 64, who closed his crane business in 2009 because of the downturn in the economy, nodded in agreement.
“They’ve destroyed this country,” he spit. Who?
Standing nearby, 78-year-old Richard Walters was holding on to a letter he had written. He was hoping to be able to hand it to Trump.
“I used to be the Rolls Royce dealer in Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach,” said Walters, who is now retired. “And he was one of my customers.”
Fond memories of The Donald?
“I didn’t like him,” Walters said. “He was an arrogant bastard. But I love him now. He is the only person in this country who can right the ship.”
Lest you think DeFede has cherry-picked some outliers to exaggerate Trump’s popularity, note that The Donald has some formidable poll numbers in the Republican primary field (he fares worse, however, in general election match-ups). Among the conservative punditocracy, the reaction is more mixed—Sean Hannity has been giving Trump substantial interview time, while Mark Levin has been intensely critical, and with good reason—Trump has flip-flopped on abortion, healthcare, and his party affiliation, used to be far more favorable to Barack Obama (calling George W. Bush “evil” in the process), and has donated substantially to Democrats.
Trump is now in a position where he could be extremely dangerous. Conservatives are aching for someone with the gonads to take it to Obama and really shake things up in Washington if he happens to win. Many are so fed up that they are willing to jump on almost any bandwagon that even appears to be headed in that direction, even if the driver, like Trump, is totally unreliable.