Today in honor of Super Tuesday we introduce you to Elizabeth, our guest political blogger. In her words: “I consider myself an independent. I am probably more liberal when it comes to social issues and more conservative when it comes to fiscal issues. I have voted for both Democrats and Republicans in presidential elections: so I think I can fairly say that I am neutral.”
Today I want to give you a basic overview of the candidates running for president. Obviously this isn’t every single detail about each of these candidates, but hopefully this will at least permit you to have a cocktail party conversation about each of them. We are going to focus upon what distinguishes them, makes them interesting and what they are best known for. Obviously, President Obama will be the nominee for the Democratic Party and as of this point, no third party candidate seems viable enough to be part of the national conversation, so we will take a closer look at the four main Republican contenders.
This guide is in alphabetical order – to prevent any assumptions about my preferences, predictions or otherwise!
Positives: He presided over the House when Bill Clinton was president and has many years of experience in politics. He worked with President Clinton to balance the budget. He is considered the best debater of the four and has repeatedly requested to have a series of Lincoln-Douglas style debates with President Obama.
Negatives: Additionally, he was in part responsible for Congress coming to a halt in the mid-90s which resulted in the Republican Party losing control of Congress. He also has somewhat of a sordid personal history. He left his first wife when she was diagnosed with cancer for a staffer that worked for him. He began an affair with another staffer while he was with his second wife and then divorced his second wife and married the staffer, who is his current wife, Calista. Since marrying Calista, he has converted to Catholicism and has proclaimed he is a changed man.
Issue he focuses on most: Economy
Ron Paul: Congressman Paul is a former physician and is currently a Congressman from Texas which he has been since 1997. He is considered a libertarian, although some of his social views and policies arguably preclude this label.
Positives: Is arguably the most consistent of the four candidates in regards to his positions. He has long argued for abolishment of the Federal Reserve. He is the most relatable candidate. He has organized a phenomenal grassroots organization which has been likened to that of President Obama’s in 2008. He draws from the entire demographic. Congressman Paul is strongly in favor of taking stronger action to secure America’s borders. He is the most fiscally conservative of the four candidates.
Negatives: Some view his politics as too radical, particularly when it comes to foreign policy. He has advocated removing America’s troops from all foreign lands and refrain from entering into foreign conflicts (isolationism). Further, there were pamphlets issued from his organization in the past that contained anti-Semitic language. While he has disavowed these newsletters and claimed he did not review them, this could come back to haunt him.
Issue he focuses on most: Foreign Policy
Positives: Is considered the most “electable” versus President Obama. He has experience successfully running a business and this is seen as a quality needed in a President, particularly with the economy in its current state. Additionally, he is the sole candidate that has executive experience in politics. Finally, Governor Romney is also seen as the most “presidential” in appearance, speech and mannerisms.
Negatives: Some experts have argued that Romney’s Mormon faith may prevent him from being elected. Additionally, in working to get the Republican nomination, his policy stances have shifted more towards the right, leading people to question his sincerity. Also, many of his positions seem forced. Governor Romney, when he was governor of Massachusetts, created a universal health care program for the state which is what President Obama’s healthcare program is arguably based on in part. Governor Romney’s immense wealth also seems to create a disconnect with “normal” Americans.
Issue he focuses on most: Being a Conservative
Positives: Santorum is currently surging in the polls and he is definitely the most socially conservative candidate. He has been consistent with his positions on abortion, marriage, and contraception. Senator Santorum has been very successful in getting his constituents the most for their money by bringing many projects to Pennsylvania.
Negatives: Fiscally, his conservatism is called into question, as he has repeatedly claimed he is the proud receiver of the most pork for his district (money for special projects in a politician’s home district). Additionally, he supports increasing military spending and America’s military presence around the world. He has been adamant about taking military action against Iran and doing anything possible to prevent the Iranians from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Further, his extreme stance on social issues may prevent him from being electable in a national election. As an aside: don’t use Google to search for ”Santorum” unless you want your results to show up as an NSFW Google-bomb.
Issue he focuses the most on: Being the “real” conservative.
Okay readers, time for those inevitable questions: Any one of these guys get you excited? Do you think they will carry any momentum going into a general election? Do you think a dragged out primary helps or hurts the candidates? Are they a distinction without a difference? Does any one of them enrage you?
From what I have observed from the primary elections thus far, it appears the Republican party is looking for anybody but Romney. I say this based upon the huge swings in momentum the other candidates have had (see Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Rick Perry): although once one of them rises to the top of the polls, media attention is on them, past “ooops” moments are dredged up, people realize they really don’t want that individual as commander in chief, and the votes get reallocated. However, notably, Governor Romney has remained relatively stable and won the last two primaries.
Super Tuesday thoughts: While it may sound strange, the goal is not to win the highest percentage of each state. The key is… to get delegates. This is the number you should pay attention to. It is not who wins the popular vote of each state. For example, a number of states, Missouri and Colorado come to mind initially, have what are called non-binding primaries. This means that essentially that the votes cast by individual citizens carry absolutely no weight when it comes to how the state’s delegates vote once their turn comes at the convention. So if your particular candidate doesn’t “win” some of these primaries, don’t worry, just look at the numbers. In order to become the nominee, a candidate needs 1144 delegates at the convention. As of today, the candidates have the following numbers of delegates guaranteed: Romney – 180, Santorum – 90; Gingrich – 29; Paul – 23. This could change dramatically after Super Tuesday’s votes are tallied.
Any thoughts about this process? Should candidates be required to become a nominee in the same manner as they would become President? Should each state get to create the rules? Should each party have to create uniform rules?
Please note that due to the sensitive nature of political posts, all opinions are welcome but comments attacking other readers or writers will be deleted.
Elizabeth is a 30-something attorney, recently transplanted to Colorado due to her husband’s job, and a love of the mountains and outdoors. She is currently adjusting to her new life, after being born and raised in Chicago. She has a love of fashion and keeps herself busy running, doing yoga, and cooking. She is your stereotypical Virgo, with her Type A personality and obsession with organization and perfection. A former college athlete, she must keep moving, and seems to do well at it.