Mitt Romney is still flip-flopping even as he seems ever more confident of the Republican nomination. Rick Perry is breathing life into his campaign, after his poor debate showings, with his new flat tax plan, which has been fairly well received. Herman Cain, the intelligent, accomplished, and optimistic man he is, nevertheless is encountering flip-flopping problems of his own, particularly around his stance on abortion and the question of the number of “9’s” in his economic plan. Ron Paul, polling the strongest he ever has over the years, still needs to convince more Americans that the elimination of major agencies of the federal government won’t make the country fall apart. Michele Bachmann may be fizzling out, despite her conviction to repeal Obamacare, and Rick Santorum, another individual of strong conservative convictions, still can pull ahead.
And from the shadows of what is called his “personal baggage,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is gradually rising. Turns out Mr. Gingrich had a flat tax plan way before Mr. Perry, one that is favored by many conservatives/libertarians because of its flat 15% tax rate, as opposed to Mr. Perry’s 20%. Speaker Gingrich provides a comparison of both his and Rick Perry’s plans on his website.
An informal poll taken at Hot Air on Tuesday shows that Ron Paul’s economic plan garners 56% of voters’ support, followed by Newt Gingrich’s plan at about 25%. Rick Perry’s plan received about 9% of the vote, and Herman Cain came in with about 7%. Mitt Romney’s more complicated plan received under 2% of the vote.
We are now coming to terms with the fact that none of the Republican candidates for President are perfect. Many of us like different qualities in each of them and would like to “build” our own candidates from various components. We soothe ourselves a bit by considering the matrix of presidential/vice-presidential ticket possibilities. Perhaps if we pair them up, we can get the best qualities of at least two of them? But really, there can only be one President.
By vetting the candidates in as many venues as possible we can make the best decision. Over the weekend, C-SPAN covered the Iowa Faith and Freedom Fall Banquet, which included short speeches by many of the Republican candidates, and- something that is missing in the traditional debates- the same questions posed to each of them.
Newt Gingrich brought the house down. Yes, the same Newt Gingrich who has “personal baggage.” He had an affair of his own during the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal. He did a climate control ad with Nancy Pelosi. He may have reached too far over the aisle. He slammed Paul Ryan’s budget, then clumsily apologized. True, some conservatives have declared his candidacy null and void, but given the imperfections we are discovering in each of the candidates, Mr. Gingrich is a steady contender.
For one thing, Newt Gingrich, like Ron Paul, is an accomplished Constitutional historian. Conservatives and libertarians who want to get the country back on the track of the founders’ principles can trust his understanding of the documents they drafted. Second, Mr. Gingrich is a highly competent debater, fully able to spar on the details without losing sight of the main point, as evidenced by his continued theme:
The coming economic boom will begin the minute the television networks announce the defeat of President Obama’s reelection bid on Election Day 2012.
In contrast, Rick Perry has decided that, since he is not skillful at debating, Americans should not pay attention to his performance during these events. “It’s not like he’s going to have to debate anyone when he’s President” seems to be the line taken by his campaign. A few things contradict that: first, the Republican nominee will have to debate President Obama. Does Mr. Perry plan to decline those invitations? If he and the president agree to debate, shouldn’t Republicans want their nominee to be able to articulate his positions? Remember the smooth-talking Barack Obama of 2008? Shouldn’t Mr. Perry hope to gain the votes of any independents watching those debates? Assuming Mr. Perry wins the general election, shouldn’t Americans want their President to clearly articulate the issues the nation is facing, particularly when he is likely to be put through the liberal media meat grinder? We have just been through three years of a President and administration who care little about the mixed messages they give to the American people. Perhaps we could expect our next president to make clear communication a priority.
In addition, the ability to debate cannot be written off as small potatoes. It involves critical thinking skills and requires one to assess statements quickly and coherently, usually under the pressure of time. The Presidency requires all of these skills, especially in the role of Commander-in-Chief. Rick Perry may have been a very effective governor for the past decade, but whether he will simply dismiss skills he does not have as inconsequential for the presidency begs the question of whether he is, in fact, ready to be President.
Newt Gingrich also appears to have purposefully avoided serious arguments with the other candidates, keeping the focus, instead, on the current President and calling out the media for its attempts to whip up hostility among the Republican candidates. On Sean Hannity’s radio program Tuesday, Mr. Gingrich spoke in positive terms about his opponents, mentioning only differences about policy or ideas. He is the candidate who has followed Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment thus far.
By the time Republicans choose their nominee, all of the candidates will have “baggage” of some type. It’s the human part of the vetting process. Plan to look at the candidates in as many forums as possible in order to find a) the person who can assuredly beat Barack Obama in 2012 and b) the person who can best restore constitutional authority to this nation.