With nearly 20 debates set for just the Republican primary season, keeping track of the candidates can get messy. For the last two weeks, the focus has been on seeing how newly entered Republican candidate for President Governor Rick Perry will fare in the land of a thousand candidates.
There are a lot of points to be drawn from the vast field of candidates, but the one that most conservatives should be upset about and most liberals should be happy about is this:
The two frontrunners each have fundamental problems in their conservative bona fides. And what’s left over in the field isn’t pretty either.
With two debates marking his debut to the American audience, Perry is worse for wear among conservatives who are likely to vote. Why is that? After defending his stance on allowing illegal immigrants in Texas to say in-state tuition and also disregarding conservative calls for a border fence, Perry has one strike.
Next, Perry used his executive authority to require young girls to receive a vaccination for a sexually transmitted disease to decrease their risk of getting cervical cancer. Perry has said that was a mistake, and it’s probably the least offensive mistake he could make in the eyes of most Americans. But the fact of the matter is that it’s another strike against conservative values.
Then there is the combination of him previously being a Democrat, supporting Al Gore in 1988 and his (refreshingly honest) statement on New York’s recent legislation on gay marriage.
“Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That’s New York, and that’s their business, and that’s fine with me,” Perry said.
These issues would help Perry if he were to face up against Obama, but they present a challenge for him in making it out of the Republican primary. Even if Perry makes it past the conservative test, conservatives should be savvy enough to realize that Perry is going to look a lot like Bush up against Obama. That’s like giving away whatever advantage they might be going in with.
Next on the list is Governor Mitt Romney. Romney is not well known for being extremely conservative as it is. Having overseen an individual mandate-driven healthcare system in Massachusetts, Romney lost all conservative credibility possible. To make it worse, the program isn’t doing well in one of the most liberal states in the union AND Romney continues to defend it as “what was right for Massachusetts.”
Almost any other approach to his involvement with the individual mandate would be better suited to his run against Obama. If the program were doing well, he could stand up against Obama strongly.
Other candidates have issues that come in second only to the fact that they can’t break through in the polls or fundraising the way the front-runners can.
Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) has some momentum this summer, but has been on a decline for the last several months. What makes Bachmann strong with the Tea Party makes her unelectable versus Obama.
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich seems to be running as head coach of the candidates, perhaps vying for a cabinet position if a Republican wins in 2012. He also gave himself a black eye early with a “misunderstanding” on his position with the budget plan created by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) will never be elected (google his border fence comments last debate), but his presence does keep the candidates in conservative check.
The other candidates have a variety of issues, the biggest of which is their inability to break out of the pack. They all have a lot of clean up to do if they want to earn the votes that begin being cast in February.