GOP Presidental Contenders: It’s the Marketing, Stupid!

By | March 8, 2011

When Brigham Young entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 he raised himself up from the bed of the wagon he was riding in and, weakened by a bad case of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, stared out at the desolate landscape before him. He then uttered those famous words “This is the Place,” settling once and for all the question of where the Mormons would settle.

Heber C. Kimball, Brigham Young, and Wilford Woodruff statues at the This Is The Place monument in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The joke goes that historians got the words right but that they failed to accurately record Young’s inflection of those words. Supposedly what Young actually said while gazing upon the bleak wilderness stretching out beneath his viewpoint at the mouth of Emigration Canyon was really “THIS is the place?”  We can certainly commiserate with how Young felt as we stare at the field of GOP candidates for the presidential race in 2012. THESE are the candidates? Yup, these are the candidates. And they represent a pretty bleak field from which to choose a challenger to the Communist-In-Chief.

Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole won the Republication nomination for President of the United States in 1996. Dole has all the charisma of a desiccated turnip at a freeze-drying festival. He should have changed his name to Bob “Dull.” Dull never quite figured out that presidential politics is all about marketing. And he was the presidential equivalent of a can of Spam® while his opponent, Mister Charisma himself, Bill Clinton, was spiral-sliced and glazed to perfection. Substance didn’t matter. Marketing and style were the name of the game and Dull was just that – Dull. The presidential election wasn’t even close as Clinton rode the triangulation wave to victory. Any political analyst worth his salt could see the Dull disaster coming at conservatives like a runaway freight train the moment it became clear that Dull was going to be the GOP nominee. So why didn’t Dull see the same thing that everyone else saw regarding his chances to win the presidency? It is really quite simple. Dull’s ego, vanity, and obsession with the acquisition of power clouded his judgment and assessment of his own foibles. He cared more about himself and winning the GOP nomination than he did about his country. Dull couldn’t win. He didn’t stand a chance. Everybody knew it but Dull. And, unfortunately, it appears we have come full circle. The leading GOP challengers to Barack Obama possess personalities and shortcomings that are reminiscent of the days of Bob Dull. Isn’t there viable candidate out there that “gets it?” Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

Jon Huntsman Jr.

“Not that I condone fascism, or any -ism for that matter. -Ism’s in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon, “I don’t believe in Beatles, I just believe in me.” Good point there. After all, he was the walrus. I could be the walrus. I’d still have to bum rides off people.” – Ferris Bueller

RINOism thy name art Jon Huntsman. Huntsman is the son of billionaire Jon M. Huntsman. The elder Huntsman once authored a book titled “Winners Never Cheat: Everyday Values We Learned as Children (But May Have Forgotten).” Sorry to tell you this, Jon Sr., but your son, Jon Jr. has managed to forget.

Jon Huntsman Jr.

What did Jon Huntsman, Jr. forget, you ask? Simple, he forgot conservatism. Huntsman has mastered the art of pandering to his inner liberal. He maintains a sterling record in fiscal matters but has a nasty habit of straying from conservative principles. For example Jennifer Rubin, a conservative columnist with the Washington Post, once stated her opinion that “Huntsman isn’t, and never has been, a rock-solid conservative.” Ed Kilgore of the New Republic said that Huntsman holds “progressive stances on climate change, immigration, civil unions for gay couples, and education.” And let us not forget Huntsman’s warm embrace of Obama’s stimulus debacle. Huntsman publicly supports gay civil unions. And Huntsman, while Governor of Utah, signed up with the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative, which is nothing more than a regional cap-and-trade system.

When it comes to personality Huntsman takes the cake. He is nothing but an opportunist and the public has him pegged. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, Huntsman makes it obvious by his demeanor that he is an opportunistic elitist. He had no qualms about abandoning his job as Governor of Utah when the opportunity arose to become U.S. Ambassador to China under the Obama Administration. He obviously figured that he would use Obama just like Obama was using him. Huntsman didn’t shirk at all from being tainted as a conservative traitor by joining the Obama Administration. Well, now he has to live with it. Huntsman used the ambassadorship to polish his foreign policy credentials – something he clearly lacked and just as clearly needed if he was going to run for president.

Like Obama, Huntsman couldn’t buy a clue even if Vanna White beat him over the head with it. If Huntsman does indeed declare himself a presidential candidate he will stake out the RINO territory and screw the conservatives in the GOP. Next thing you know he’ll be telling the conservative wing of the GOP “Don’t worry, I’ll use a condom.” Like Arlen Specter, Huntsman has the tendency to proclaim himself a Republican as long as it suits his purposes. His pandering to liberalism betrays that claim. The last thing conservatives need as a nominee is Al Gore Lite. He may be less filling but he still doesn’t taste great.

Mitt Romney

“Oh, he’s very popular Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads – they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.” – Grace

Romney doesn’t have to cultivate an image of being a righteous dude…He IS a righteous dude.

Mitt Romney

He also is a standoffish, Harvard elitist that craves the presidency more than life itself. He has spent the past couple of years laying low and quietly putting his team back together. He evidently has also spent some time with an image consultant. Notice how he now dresses down (for a Harvard guy) with open shirt collars? But his problem is the same as Huntsman’s. How do you make an über rich elitist popular with the working class? Show him shopping at Wal-Mart? Check! Hobnobbing with the vast unwashed masses while sporting a new pair of skinny jeans straight off the rack at the Gap? Check! Check! Prowling around the NASCAR pits at Daytona? Check! Check! Check!

The problem is that this newfound populist image is just marketing fluff and we all remember how it turned out for Bob Dull. In other words, Romney’s carefully and professionally crafted image is fake. It isn’t the real Mitt Romney. And fake doesn’t cut it. As the garage attendant said to Cameron, “You guys got nothing to worry about, I am a professional.” To which Cameron replied, “A professional what?” Bingo! That’s Romney’s problem in a nutshell. He is a professional, but what kind of a professional is he?

A lament heard across this conservative land is a cry for real statesmen, not for more politicians. Where are the true leaders of America? Poland got a gem in Lech Walesa. Why can’t America produce someone like that? England had Winston Churchill and we got Barry Soetero. Obama happens. Nancy Pelosi should never have happened. Barney’s Frank used to happen. Joe Biden never happened. And Mitt Romney never will happen. Romney’s magical mystery tour is over. He’s well-known. He’s got RomneyCare hanging over his head. His conservative credentials are suspect because of RomneyCare.

Martin Luther King once said “I have a dream.” Mitt Romney wouldn’t be far off the mark if he were to retort “I have a scheme.” Romney may very well pull off a masterpiece in winning the GOP nomination. But Romney’s natural stiffness and standoffishness isn’t going to contrast well with the well-preened charisma of Captain Kickass. Romney would be in the fight of his life against Obama. And I don’t like his chances in that kind of a fight. There is one Republican that could out-charisma Obama, and it ain’t Romney!

Sarah Palin

Palin is a double-edged sword. The merciless attacks from the left have achieved their purpose, but at a cost. Palin is now hated by many independents who haven’t stopped to think for themselves but have mindlessly input the Palin hate into their brains.

Sarah Palin

And that’s a problem because the independents represent the great center of American politics. How the independents vote decides elections. On the other hand those widespread attacks have given Palin name-recognition that the other candidates can only dream about. The personal attacks have solidified the support for Palin within the conservative wing of the GOP. The left has done the marketing job for Palin. You either love her or hate her. Will she run? It depends on what her internal polls are telling her. If she still has what she considers to be a large enough percentage of the independents on her side it is a good bet she will get into the race.

Palin would represent a formidable challenge to Obama. Obama faces his own marketing challenge if he criticizes her directly. You don’t attack women in American society. It is a taboo. So what would Obama do? Simple, he would use his vast network of surrogates to attack her – all the while appearing to be above the fray. Compounding Obama’s problem in facing Palin is that Palin doesn’t lay down and take hits without firing salvos right back at her attackers. Just ask David Letterman about that side of Sarah Palin.

Palin possesses both the charisma and the intellect to flay Obama alive in a debate. Expect Obama to minimize debates with Palin if it indeed comes down to a general election fight between these two. It would be an interesting battle between Obama and Palin. Think the media juggernaut that is socialist/progressive politics versus Palin’s Facebook account. Wow!

Newt Gingrich

Pardon my French, but Cameron is so tight that if you stuck a lump of coal up his ass, in two weeks you’d have a diamond. – Ferris Bueller

Oh, Newt! Your potential is so great and your squandering of your conservative credentials is even greater. I mean, you supported Dede Scozzafava? You sure squandered your legacy by supporting an unabashed liberal with close ties to both organized labor and ACORN.

What is so sad about the Gingrich situation is that he has the charisma and quick intellect that could literally crush Obama in a debate. But Gingrich has some serious personal image problems to deal with. He got scozzafaved. Kind of like getting Jimmered in basketball this year.

Tim Pawlenty

[singing] When Cameron was in Egypt’s land…let my Cameron go!” – Cameron

If you are yearning for a Jewish Evangelical Christian lawyer who was raised as a Roman Catholic then Tim Pawlenty is your man. It must be rather confusing in the Pawlenty household at Christmas time but at least we aren’t left holding his stocking. There is nothing really wrong with Pawlenty. He is a conservative who brought some sense back to Minnesota in the wake left by Jesse Ventura.

The downside to Pawlenty is the same old familiar refrain. It’s all about the marketing, stupid! I mean, really…who, outside of Minnesota, has really ever even heard of Pawlenty? That’s right, he’s a nobody! Think Bob Dull redux. Can he win the nomination? Certainly. Can he beat Obama in the general election? Not a chance.

Chris Christie

“Ferris Bueller, you’re my hero.” – Cameron

Christie has charisma dripping out of every pore in his body. He is blessed with a wickedly pointed and sarcastic wit that could drive Obama nuts. Imagine Christie and Obama in a debate. Who wins? Yup, Christie would wipe the floor with Obama’s overgrown ears. Obama would talk his usual nonsense and Christie would slap him upside the head. Who needs primetime TV when you’ve got Christie cutting Obama down to size? I see a pattern forming…Eric the Great. Ivan the Terrible. Obama the Failure.
The only problem is that Christie has taken himself out of the race, declaring that he is not ready to be president.

Governor Chris Christie

Christie shot himself in the foot with that comment. Now if he decides to run the Obama campaign machine will go into high gear and we will be deluged with campaign ads in which we would endlessly hear Christie declare himself to be unprepared for the job of president. What a shame. Can Christie be rehabilitated? Certainly, but it is going to take a lot of public relations work to straighten out the mess Christie created with that comment.

Conclusion

“I did not achieve this position in life by having some snot-nosed punk leave my cheese out in the wind.” – Ed Rooney

Okay, I’m not feeling so dismal about the GOP field of potential presidential candidates as I was when I wrote the lead paragraph. Both Palin and Christie would be fun to watch going up against the Obama machine. Romney may be a stiff-necked elitist but at least he could match Obama dollar for dollar, as could Huntsman. Gingrich’s sharp tongue would be going full blast at Obama’s expense. I know I’ve left out several other potential GOP candidates such as Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee, Haley Barbour, and Mitch Daniels. But I don’t think any of those men stand much of a chance of winning the nomination. Ron Paul has been typecast by the left as a loon. Huckabee would find himself in a fight with an energized Mitt Romney who has financial resources at his disposal that would leave Huckabee in the dust. Daniels and Barbour just don’t seem to have the name recognition to make a serious run at the GOP nomination. Remember, it is all about marketing. Just ask Bob Dull.

My problem is what it has always been. I look at the potential candidates and think to myself “Are these the best leaders our country can produce?” And my answer is always the same – No! For example, I think Jon Huntsman, Jr. is an opportunistic free-loading elitist who has leveraged his family fame and wealth into a political career. What would he have ever achieved without his daddy’s name and pocketbook? Yup. Nothing. He is a product of his bank account and his lineage. In fact, if it was his father who was running instead of him, I would be on the Huntsman bandwagon. Jon Huntsman Sr. is one of America’s greatest men. He is vastly superior to his son. Jon Huntsman Sr. is a self-made man. Jon Huntsman Jr. is nothing more than a carnival huckster out to make you believe he is something special. I’m not buying Huntsman and neither should you.

Romney is more of a mystery to me. I get the feeling that he is much more conservative than Jon Huntsman Jr. But I still have a niggling doubt about Romney concerning his commitment to socially conservative positions on the issues of the day. Romney has flip-flopped in the past – most notably concerning his position on abortion. I prefer a leader who stands firm on principle – bless you, Ronald Reagan! I despise politicians who shift with the political winds, ever seeking safe ideological harbors in the face of the moral storms that buffet our nation. I’m not convinced Romney would stand firm on the conservative side of major issues. Why? Because I’m not convinced that Romney deeply believes in his heart that conservatism is the rock upon which his principles are anchored. Romney flip-flops and that does not impress me.

Palin leaves me in no doubt that she is a conservative. But she has been ripped a new one by the MSM. Has the smear campaign run by the leftists ruined her chances in the Republican primary race? Possibly, but we will never know for sure unless she tosses her hat into the ring. Regardless, the constant attacks on Palin seem to point to the fact that the left is genuinely afraid of her. You sure don’t see Haley Barbour getting the same treatment. The left has perceived a rising star in Palin and has set out to destroy her. I’d support Palin whole-heartedly if I thought she could win. I’m still undecided.

Tim Pawlenty and Newt Gingrich don’t have much chance of winning in my book. Pawlenty doesn’t have the name recognition or the charisma to captivate the nation. Gingrich has squandered his good name at the altar of Dede Scozzafava. What an error! What was he thinking?

So I am left with Chris Christie. The Governor of New Jersey would be a formidable opponent to Obama. I think Christie could win it all. But he has laid down the law that he isn’t running. Bueller?… Bueller?… Bueller?

So all I can conclude at this point in time is that we are going to have to wait a bit longer for a real leader to emerge. Hopefully, it will be one of those named above. But if it is a stealth candidate who rises up like the Phoenix from the ashes of those who have been ordained the front-runners then so much the better. But whomever it is, they better remain faithful to conservatism. Appeasement doesn’t work. Moving to the center doesn’t work. RINOism is a losing strategy. We need a president that stands for truth. We need a president who champions fiscal discipline. We need a president with a backbone. Who is it going to be? I don’t know and I don’t care. The name is irrelevant to me. What matters is conservatism.

Right now we have a president who walks softly and carries a wet noodle. We’ve learned from Obama that voting “Present” means never having to say you are sorry. So this is what leadership from a Nobel Peace Prize winner looks like? Crime is merely liberal politics without the excuses. Obama has no excuses left. He is a miserable failure.

Let’s hope a conservative candidate emerges that captivates America and sweeps the filth that is the Obama Administration far out to sea. Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

 

to see more candidate profiles, visit our 2012 Election Page

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