This year I find myself in a unique situation. With less than two months until the first votes are cast in the primary season, I am undecided who to support. As long as I can remember there was a candidate early in the process who inspired me, or at least attracted my loyal till political death support. To my surprise, shock and bewilderment, that has not happened this year. First off, those who would have drawn my support decided one by one not to run: Senator John Thume, Former Governor Jeb Bush, Governor Bobby Jindal, Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and the list goes on. Those that remain, talented as they may be, have each failed to attract my committed vote, let alone passionate enthusiasm.
The 2012 GOP Presidential Contenders: An Uncertian Decision
In some way I think we have the inverse of the 1992 Democratic race where early on many of the presumed favorites like future Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden took a pass thinking George H.W. Bush was unbeatable. In Washington circles a narrative began to form that 2012 was going to be a good year for President Obama. With the Republican takeover of the house in 2010 the stage was set for a repeat of Bill Clinton’s come back and victory in 1996. Yet over the last year we have seen the Obama administration to be politically inept and selling a radical left wing agenda which has not resonated with the American body politic. The Obama attempts at class warfare and leftist populist rhetoric have fallen flat on all but his hard core base. American voters seem to have concluded he is out of his league and not up to the job of president. The net result is the GOP nomination is increasingly valuable as the 2012 election is ours to lose.
So regrets be damned, the slate of candidates we have are the options to be chosen from. I am not going to invite the wrath of my fellow republicans who have already formed passionate allegiances by going down the list of candidates one by one pointing out why each has not captured my imagination and support. Rather I want to look at what I would love to see in an ideal presidential nominee.
- First, above all else is character. Often discussed, this is a complicated characteristic in people. My nominee has to have core values and the commitment to them to stick by them even when the political winds blow in the opposite direction. If you think of the presidential elections of the past, the issues that defined their presidency are almost never the ones which drove the election which put them in the White House. We need a president who when they get that 3am phone call, will not need to consult a pollster.
- My candidate must have a commitment to conservative values and principles which were not adopted after extensive focus group testing but rater from their long term personal considerations. I have no problems with people who evolve over time, even Ronald Reagan was a democrat once upon a time (he even voted for FDR, more than once!). Yet some candidates who get the words right, just give you the feeling they were written by committee.
- I can’t support stupid any more. Call me whatever, but I want a President who can stand up to the tests of the office and deal with the complexities of the issues we face. Make no doubt we are at a crossroads in the history of our republic, and we cannot afford another president who needs training wheels for the first 4 years, or is simply a puppet for advisors.
- I totally agree with Anne Coulter’s recent column in which she said, in essence, electability is not a bad word! To the contrary I believe in all my heart that if President Obama is reelected with a Democratic congress, America will be taken in a left ward direction from which there will be no turning back. We need a nominee who can take Obama on head to head and emerge from the ideological battle that the 2012 election is shaping up to be victorious.
- No longer will I support any candidate who simply attacks the other contenders. My belief in Reagan’s 11th Commandment that thou shall not speak ill of a fellow Republican is absolute and those who break it will drive me to the primary with absolute certainty I will cast my one vote against them. It is essential our eventual nominee emerge from the primaries stronger for the process and not damaged. Republican unity has always been a strength and any division will simply guarantee a second term for Obama.
For years, I like many conservatives have been looking for another Ronald Reagan, always with disappointing results. However I think the Gripper would have said stop looking to the past for direction, look to the future. So I look for that candidate who reflects my values and also has the ability to capture the imagination and spirit of the American people. This election is just too important to settle of less, or allow victory to slip from our figures.
Filed under 2010 Election, 2012 Election, American Leadership, Barak Obama, Bill Clinton, Jeb Bush, Leadership, Mitt Romney, Politics, Republican Party, Rick Perry, Rudy Giuliani, The Grand Old Party, The White House
If one needs any further proof that the GOP grassroots are not thrilled with the current crop of candidates for the 2012 presidential nomination, a new CNN poll released last night illustrated it in Technicolor. Two of the top three contenders are not even announced candidates, and many of those who are buried deep in the pack. The deeper you dig into the poll the more troubling it is for the current announced candidates. Yet the big surprise is the leader with 16 percent support when asked who they favor, likely GOP primary voters picked former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani followed by Mitt Romney with 15 percent, well within the poll’s margin of error. Sarah Palin was in third place with 13 percent and Ron Paul in fourth with 12. The remainder of the field is fractured with none of the announced candidates gaining traction.
Undeclared Republican Candidate for President Rudi Giuliani
But the presence of Rudy Giuliani at the top is startling in two fundamental ways. Giuliani had a disappointing performance in 2008 where he entered the race as a frontrunner and proceeded to run a campaign which won only one delegate to the convention. His campaign, if you can call it that, this time around has been almost stealth like and surprisingly low profile for the former Mayor who loves the spot light. None the less he has been campaigning and focusing on the early states where he may in fact show a great deal of strength, However more surprising is that while so many have suggested that party conservatives are disappointed with the choices, the leader is a candidate who is often viewed as a moderate.
Most in New York would not call Rudy Giuliani a moderate, but to many social conservatives that is exactly what he is. He is also the real deal. Unlike certain other candidates who have seen many (and in some cases most) of their positions evolve based on who they are speaking to, Rudy is Rudy. His standing as a fiscal conservative is unquestioned and his record of fiscal responsibility and control as Mayor of the largest city in the country is impeccable. He inherited a city with a crime rate that left many uncomfortable on the streets and left as Mayor of the safest large city in the world. That Giuliani would defend and protect the homeland if elected mayor is without doubt.
It is his social moderation that has raised many doubts among conservatives. However he in fact personifies one of the core principals of conservatism, that decisions should be made by communities as close to the governed and not by national governments. True conservatives opposed federal activism and support strict constructionist views of the constitution and Giuliani has advocated that since his days as Associate Attorney General in the first term of the Reagan Administration. Combined with the fact he is simply a genuinely strong leader, Giuliani is much more appealing to many conservatives than the left leaning media would like to think.
This poll makes one thing clear, this race is very much open and the president’s polls continue to show he will be very beatable in 2012. But the time for those on the side line to sit and watch and ponder is running out. There is a fine line between plotting a strategic entrance into the race, and doing a sad impersonation of Hamlet.
Read details of the CNN Poll here.
It seems former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has joined the likes of former conservative Joe Scarborough and deciding he likes work in a Manhattan TV studio over running for elective office. Combined with the disastrous week Mitt Romney had where rather than putting the Romneycare issue to bed he has awakened a potentially deadly curse on his campaign. I suspect that the attention of may will now focus on Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. However I suspect the door is now opened for some of the second tier candidates such as Herman Cain, Rick Santorum or even a yet to be announced candidate such as Ruddy Giuliani to enter the race. However it plays out I suspect it’s not going to be boring!
Rudy Giuliani, 107th Mayor of New York
Tonight the 2012 Republican race for the White House unofficially begins with the first Presidential Debate from South Carolina being broadcast on Fox News. Perhaps most notable about this year’s race is how few candidates have actually entered the race and those who have not such as presumptive front runner Mitt Romney. The state of the Republican race may be best characterized by the rise of Donald Trump in the polls, a man Sen. Rand Paul has asked to provide proof he really is a Republican (a very good question).
I was recently asked by a family friend what I thought about the Tea Party, a question that is far harder to answer than at first it may appear. My first response was what Tea Party? Part of the strength of the movement which in no small way propelled the Republican Party back to power in 2010 was it is not a single organized party and derives its strength as a movement from its grass roots strength. This is demonstrated by polls in 2010 which showed a majority of Americans identified with the Tea Party’s principals while a clear majority oppose the tea party itself. The American electorate is tired of expansive government, concerned about the debt crisis and still worried about our national security. This is a Republican electorate. Some of the so called tea party Leaders have seized this movement and have tried to co-opt it for their own personal and largely social conservative purposes. But the contrast between support for the Tea Party core beliefs and the Tea Party itself remains stark.
Into this divide stands ready to enter the 107th Mayor of the City of New York Rudy Giuliani, the man who in 2008 rivaled former Texas Governor John Connelly for the most money spent in order to win a single delegate to the Republican National Convention. However 2012 is a very different year and Giuliani may well be a more rounded and well suited candidate. I have always felt that in 2008 Giuliani was poorly served by his advisors in two respects. First on the purely tactical front waiting for the Florida Primary to begin his formal fight allowed other candidates, notably John McCain to gain such momentum that Giuliani was largely run over by McCain and second place pursuer Mitt Romney. However the second flaw was much more fundamental, the prominence of 9/11 in the campaign of the man dubbed “America’s Mayor” after his performance on that day which can only be described as Churchillian. So why a mistake? His heroic performance that day was not enough and allowed him to be portrayed by his rivals as one dimensional. Besides, no American needed reminding of Rudy’s performance that day, it was seared into the national consciousness.
So why is the door open for a Giuliani candidacy this year? Because to those of us who lived in the New York area during much of his term of Mayor in the 1990’s, his real strength was his ability to make the unmanageable manageable. In 1993 New York was a mess, a fiscal basket case where the streets were under control of the criminals more than the NYPD. Rather than be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the challenge, Giuliani methodically took control one issue at a time. Budgets were cut because for the first time the reality of limited financial recourses were faced. Taxes were cut drawing a renaissance of investment beyond the traditional financal Services sector. Indeed New York became a center for the emerging internet sector leveraging the vast creative base within the city. Law & Order was brought to the city one block at a time and in his two terms as mayor saw the city transformed into the safest large city in the world. Yes, Rudy Giuliani is America’s Mayor for 9/11, but he also led one of the most effective example of fiscal conservatism in the last century.
But isn’t Rudy a social Liberal? That was and will be the stick used by Giuliani’s critics to beat back a 2012 candidacy? Maybe that underlies the ignorance of many of those critics as to the true nature of conservatism. Conservatism is based upon the belief that most issues are best dealt with not by the national government but rather by the level of government closest to those governed, the states and communities themselves. As a Mayor, Giuliani lead the government in New York which most represented the people of New York. A Republican mayor in perhaps the most liberal City in America. And during his term as mayor he likely prevented more abortions than any of the national politicians in congress because as mayor he could address the root cause of the problems. Are results more important than words? I happen to think they are.
This brings us to the key to a Giuliani candidacy in 2012: A Leader When Leadership is required. If I was to advise Rudy on a 2012 run, I would encourage him to never mention 9/11 because it is unneeded, he will always be the leader most associated with that day. Rather I would have him focus on two words, Toughness and Competence. The American people are ahead of the leaders in Washington in recognizing the challenges which face our country. Government spending and the debt have to be brought under control and Giuliani has the best record of any of the current crop of leaders, and far more than the current occupant of the White House. And not a single person doubts Rudy would go to hell and back to defend America. Tough and competent leadership is what the American people crave and so far seem not to have found. While they have flirted with Donald Trump, it may well be in another New Yorker that they find the real deal.