As reported, Gov. Rick Perry has dropped out of the presidential race.
Which candidate will I support now?
Backstory: Originally, I favored Mitch Daniels- a solid fiscal conservative who pushed for, and got, a balanced budget multiple years in a row, an increase in Indiana’s credit rating to AAA for the first time ever; and substantial reform in Medicaid with the Healthy Indiana Plan. Mitch is also solidly pro-gun and pro-self-defense; indeed, after the devastating Indiana Supreme Court decision curtailing an individual’s right to defend his home, I wrote a letter to Governor Daniels expressing my outrage, and received a wonderful reply from his staff. His message of a social issues moratorium- criticized by some on the right as proof of Mitch’s “closet liberalism”- was sound advice, proven more sound every day this Presidential primary continues. This moratorium allowed him, among other things, to defund Planned Parenthood by approaching it as a budget issue rather than a social issue.
But “My Man Mitch”, one of our party’s few Democrat Whisperers, announced he wasn’t running. I was devastated. After a few months of searching for a similarly authentic personality, one with fiscal bona fides to match Mitch’s, I found one: Governor Rick Perry of Texas.
Perry’s authenticity resounded in me; his eleven-year record of economic performance in Texas couldn’t be seriously challenged; he wasn’t afraid to part ways with generic GOP thinking when he disagreed with it, particularly on immigration issues; and he attracted a loyal following. On that last point, I must say this: Some of the nicest people I’ve met recently on Twitter and Facebook are people I’ve encountered by advocating on behalf of Rick Perry. He didn’t just attract supporters, he attracted good and decent supporters. Unfortunately, he didn’t attract enough of them.
Rick couldn’t overcome his initial debate performances- likely a result of the pain medication he took following his back surgery. His later debate performances were extraordinary, but too late to save the campaign.
So now that he has dropped out, who should I support?
I suppose it’s fair to say I’m on the “Anybody But Obama” bandwagon. We’re not just choosing the next President. His success or failure will also decide our success or failure in retaking the Senate- which is crucial to our cause- as well as success or failure, to some degree, in state and local elections. Whomever occupies the White House for the next four years will also replace at least two, perhaps as many as four, Supreme Court justices- determining the composition of the Court for the next twenty years. We must, at any cost, win in November. To quote a great fictional leader, “all other concerns are secondary”.
We have four contenders for the nomination now. We can safely eliminate two right away: Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. Paul doesn’t have enough support among registered Republicans to win the nomination, and Santorum, despite the recent endorsement of the Family Research Council, doesn’t appeal enough to moderate elements of the party to win the nomination either.
So, I am left with two choices: Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney.
I’m not going to get into either candidates’ record, since both are substantially lacking in genuine conservatism. My one and only concern is stated above: Which has a better chance of defeating Barack Obama.
And my choice- this is difficult to type- is Mitt Romney.
Romney has the better organization of the two, by far. Gingrich’s campaign staff have already walked out on him once, and his organization failed to get him on the ballot in Virginia. Romney’s organization, by comparison, has made no missteps.
Romney is inoffensive to the middle. Let’s remember that he won election in a heavily-left state. He has appeal to moderates and independents. Some people on the right discount the notion of “electability”- I don’t. We won’t win by “energizing the base”, which is merely political speak for “preaching to the choir”. We win by getting 270 electoral votes, and that means convincing the- gasp– moderates and independents to vote our way. By comparison, Gingrich has a history of turning people off. For example, he recently told gay people to vote for Obama. Let’s also remember that he once was so offensive, his own party turned on him and pushed him out of leadership in the House.
Central to our success in November is convincing the unconvinced middle that our view of deregulated, free market capitalism holds the key to our economic success. Romney, as is already known, spent a career as a venture capitalist. Dan Henninger at the Wall Street Journal makes a great argument that venture capitalists like Bain contributed heavily to salvaging the American economy in the early 1980s. By comparison, Gingrich has argued against venture capitalism, dipping into the bag of leftist talking points.
Let’s be honest: Mitt Romney is a salesman, and a damned good one at that.
I have reservations about Romney: He’s not entirely gun-friendly, he signed RomneyCare, and he’s spoken favorably of a national VAT tax. Gingrich has negative points against him, too: He’s not entirely gun-friendly either, he also has a long history of supporting government health care, his welfare reform plan is pretty shabby, and he believes FDR was “the greatest President of the 20th century“.
Let’s remember what I said earlier: This is not a choice of which candidate is ‘slightly more conservative’ than the other; it’s a choice of which has the best chance of winning the middle and becoming the next President of the United States.
I believe the man with the best chance is Mitt Romney.