The Bigger Picture
Published on January 1st 2012 in Metro Éireann By Charles Laffiteau
I hope all of you have enjoyed the Holidays and that the New Year of 2012 will bring you good health, happiness and the realization of your hopes for the future. But back in the states voters will troop to the Iowa caucuses this week to initiate the process of choosing the Republican Party’s next presidential candidate. So in this week’s column I will provide you with a snapshot of the Republican Party’s remaining presidential candidates and will provide a more in depth analysis of each candidate and their chances of success in my future columns.
I have already discussed the first casualty, former Governor Tim Pawlenty, in a previous column. Of the remaining candidates another three are also former governors, one is a sitting governor, one is a former member of the US House of Representatives and two are sitting members, one is a former US Senator and the other one has never held elected office.
Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, was the first to announce he was running for the 2012 GOP nomination. As governor, Johnson used his veto powers more often than the other 49 American governors combined to build a strong record as a fiscal conservative. Johnson was the founder of one of New Mexico’s largest construction companies before he became governor and although he has no chance of winning, is one of the more interesting candidates because of his socially liberal libertarian positions as a strong critic of the ‘War on Drugs’ and as an advocate for the decriminalization of marijuana.
Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, was the next Republican to announce he was running for President. Gingrich is currently running fourth and has been nothing if not controversial throughout his career with his conservative fiscal and social positions. He converted to Catholicism in 2009, has a PhD in modern European history and along with Ron Paul is considered to be one of the two intellectuals in the field.
U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas declared his candidacy on May 13th and is an intellectual who has adopted controversial positions on many issues. Paul was a physician prior to running for Congress and was a strong opponent of the Iraq War. But like Gary Johnson, he is a fiscal conservative and socially liberal libertarian with no chance of winning.
Herman Cain is the former CEO of Godfathers Pizza who announced he was running for President on May 21st of this year. Cain is also a former lobbyist who has a history of sexually harassing women while he was lobbying Congress and is now considering withdrawing from the race because he was exposed as an adulterer. In spite of this, Cain became one of the top four Republicans and a Tea Party favorite because of his strong anti-tax anti-government views. Although he was considered to be a fiscal and social conservative, Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan was also widely derided by economists and the other GOP candidates.
On June 2nd, the former governor of Massachusetts and 2008 Republican presidential aspirant Mitt Romney made his long anticipated entry into the 2012 contest and is also one of the top four candidates. Romney is popular with establishment Republicans, but has been unable to gain traction with social conservatives despite his moves to adopt their positions.
Former Pennsylvania Senator, Rick Santorum announced he would run for the GOP nomination on June 6th. Santorum is a fiscal conservative but is much better known for his very strong pro Iraq War and anti-abortion, anti-immigration, anti-Islam, anti-evolution and anti-homosexual views. I’m happy to say he also has no chance of winning the nomination.
The former governor of Utah and US Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman entered the race on June 21st and is the only Republican candidate whose views appeal to moderate and independent voters like me. He is a fiscal conservative but is the polar opposite of Tea Party favorites, Perry and Cain, on climate change, evolution, immigration and gay marriage.
Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota declared her candidacy on June 27th and is also one of the favorites of Tea Party activists. She is a fiscal and social conservative whose win in the August 13th Ames Iowa Straw Poll drove Tim Pawlenty out of the 2012 presidential race.
The sitting governor of Texas, Rick Perry, entered the race for president on August 13th and is currently in third place. He is another fiscal and social conservative, who joined the field late because of the dissatisfaction of Tea Party activists with the other candidates.
I will begin a more in depth analysis of each of these candidates and also discuss the results of the Iowa caucuses and their impact on the Republican field in my next column.