Question for Republican/Conservative Readers

You all know my thoughts on this year’s pack of GOP candidates, but then I’m a known pinko commie socialist and am deeply unlikely to be voting for any of them. So: Can you articulate for me your own honest feelings about this election cycle’s slate of candidates? I am genuinely interested.

So that the comment thread actually produces the results I am interested in, let me lay down some comment thread rules.

1. This comment thread is for people who are US potential primary voters who identify as Republican and/or conservative (libertarian is also fine, if you see your libertarianism more aligned with general Republican/conservative principles and/or intend to vote in the GOP primaries). If you’re not any of these things, don’t comment, please. Seriously. We have enough politics back and forth on other threads; this one is not about that.

To amplify this point I will also stay out of the thread except in my capacity as site moderator.

2. For the purposes of this thread, please take as given that you likely believe the policies and practices of the Obama administration to be varying levels of bad, so it’s not on point to go on about that. I’m interested on your take on the actual candidates running for the GOP nomination and your thoughts on their individual pluses and minuses as well as on the group as a whole.

3. If you are a Whatever regular but don’t generally discuss politics and/or don’t want (for whatever reason) to out yourself as a Republican/conservative, go ahead and use a different name when you comment. I don’t mind.

4. Commenting between the people in the thread (who have already identified themselves as Republicans/conservatives) is of course fine but in general I’m more interested in people’s individual opinions regarding the candidates/group than I am in people trying to argue to others in the thread for their favorite candidate. So if you’d keep campaigning to a minimum and focus on the actual question, I’d be appreciative.

5. If you’re coming here from elsewhere and you’re new here, and have never posted a comment before, it might be worth it to read the site comment policy.

Okay, then. Republican/conservative readers, please tell me your thoughts on the candidates!

158 thoughts on “Question for Republican/Conservative Readers

  1. My honest feelings? I look at those that have a genuine chance to be the nominee and I’m embarrassed. Not embarrassed enough to ever consider being a Democrat, but I don’t know what I will do come primary time in Colorado. I suspect I would like Romney better if he honestly said what he really believed instead of what he thinks I want to hear. I may, for the first time in a long time, skip the primary.

  2. I guess although I’m registered Republican, I’m really a Libertarian with conservative leanings (ironic about the conservative leanings, since I started out as a radical Berkeley left winger). However, right now I’m totally distressed by the Republican candidates and may simply switch to Libertarian just so I don’t get bombarded with all the political advertising.

    I feel very strongly that government “fixes” for everything in the past five years has simply made everything worse. I’m also not very happy with the dichotomy that the left and right insist on maintaining at all costs. I’m pretty darned tired of rhetoric and would like people to get off their bandwagons and start addressing the issues with logic and compassion and perhaps just a wee bit of consideration of the Constitution.

    So perhaps this isn’t an answer to your question about my feelings about candidates, but I guess that’s because I don’t see any who are acceptable. Honestly? Maybe we could do without a president for a few years and see how that goes. Would anyone except the hate mongerers even notice?

  3. Rick Perry is my planned vote in the Texas primary which seems to be moving from March to May now due to Federal courts messing around with our state redistricting. Texas has a part-time legislature that meets only once for five months every two years. The standing joke is lock up your daughters when they come to Austin. When this bunch of yahoos gets together, it seems that Perry is the only adult in the room when it comes to fiscal responsibility.
    If Perry is out by then, I will probably vote for either Gingrich or Romney. Gingrich has personal morality issues that I am not happy with. But, I am concerned that Romney is not a fiscal conservative. I am looking for fiscal conservative first and a social moderate second.

  4. I can vote for Jon Hunstman or Gary Johnson. I will let Ron Paul or Mitt Romney try to convince me during a general election, but they are both starting out in negative territory.

    I was a lifelong Republic driven somewhat independent during the Bush years, though I would have 100% voted for McCain over Obama if Palin wasn’t McCain’s vice president – but I had to vote Obama because I couldn’t risk the country on McCain’s ticker. Not exactly strong Republican bonafides, but with your readers political leanings I don’t thin you’ll get a lot of commenters if people like me are filtered out.

    Over the last couple months I’ve been believing more and more that Huntsman or Johnson can win out but simply failing to implode. Palin, Bachman, Perry and Cain have each had their shot at the media’s attention and collapsed. I am hoping that one of my two guys can make to the top simply by process of elimination. I still think they have a decent shot! This is not a normal year. But if my party puts up another looney, I’ll pull for Obama. I’d rather have tax and spend than batshit crazy.

  5. I tend to be socially liberal and fiscally more conservative, so any candidate that wants to build a religious plank into their platform is not one in which I’m interested. That leaves Santorum and Bachman out (and I completely agree with you about the crazy eyes).

    Ron Paul doesn’t have anything like a realistic view of international relations, which leads me to tune out. I’m not sure what else he has to say and don’t really care – the president of the US can’t afford to be isolationist.

    Rick Perry…seems like he’d be fun at a party, but bluff joviality isn’t something I particularly look for in a president. He doesn’t seem to me to offer much more than that, although I will say that I appreciate his ability to laugh at himself.

    Newt is probably the smartest fellow running, but I remember when he was Speaker. I just don’t trust him to make good decisions after he’s made so many poor ones on so public a stage.

    Romney has always struck me as cold and opportunistic. It appears that he is willing to change his position for political expediency. While I’m sure that a good president has to be able to play the game – Reagan and Clinton both played well – I feel that there is a difference between willingness to compromise in pursuit of a common goal and adopting whatever position seems most popular.

    Huntsman has always seemed to me to be the most reasonable and thoughtful candidate. When I was reading your post about why you donated to him, I found myself nodding a lot. In fact, I fear that he is too reasonable and thoughtful to attract all of the attention that he could – “moderate” seems to be a dirty word in both parties now.

    So there you go. I could go into specific opinions, but this is a broad overview of my thinking.

  6. What Lif Strand said, especially the second paragraph. Honestly, at this point I feel like no matter how this election goes, we as a nation are pretty much screwed.

  7. They are so very much worse than I thought we’d end up with. I haven’t actually watched many of the debates, because I’ve wanted to reach through the screen and start punching them. I had hoped they could come up with someone better than John Kerry was in 2004, and these idiots won’t even have the “This should have been a cakewalk” chance he had. The worst part about it is, I think a really good candidate would have a great chance of beating Obama. God forbid any of these jackasses become President. Lets just do four more years where we are, and hope like hell someone decent comes along in 2016.

  8. Conservative, yes. Republican, no. I think the Republican Party is going to throw away another Presidential election. Even a little bit of game analysis would show that picking someone closer to the middle of the road would be a much better strategy, there are a number of disgruntled Democrats who would actually support such a Republican candidate.

    As far as Governor Goodhair, I don’t want to go through another 4 (or 8) years of “Somewhere in Texas a village is missing its idiot”.

    There are a number of things I like about Ron Paul, but he is too old to take on the strain of being President. I expect it would kill him within 18 months. He seems to be the only one who is actually in favour of downsizing the government.

    Huntsman is too much of a nobody to stand much of a chance at this point. He just doesn’t have the political capital.

    At this point, I can’t see voting for either the Democrat or Republican candidates.

  9. I’ll bite.

    At this point, it looks like there are only two candidates with a real chance to win the nomination: Romney & Gingrich.

    Perry is just too awkward in a debate to put on a stage with President Obama.

    Bachman comes across as sort of crazy.

    Ron Paul is too hardcore to win a national election.

    Santorum…who is he again?

    The fact that an avowed liberal such as yourself likes Huntsman should be enough of an explanation why conservative/libertarians like me don’t.

    Between Romney and Gingrich, I’m starting to lean towards Newt.

    I’m as surprised as anyone.

    It was his debate performances that won me over. Every time I’d watch a debate, I’d ask myself and the people around me, “Why aren’t we taking Gingrich seriously?”

    The answer was always, “his baggage.”

    But here’s the thing: we already know all about his baggage. Reagan was divorced, be he still got elected. We all knew Clinton was a tomcat, but he still won. Heck, Ted Kennedy arguably drowned a woman and it didn’t stop him from being reelected and reelected and reelected.

    It’s not so much the baggage that gets you, it’s the surprises. And what the hell is left to be surprised about when it comes to Newt?

    And remember, Newt is associated with two pretty good periods in American government: the Reagan years & the Clinton years. I’d be happy to be living in either of those two time periods at the moment.

    Why not Romney?

    He’s not a horrible choice, and I’ll gladly support him if he wins the nomination. But he has a number of things going against him:

    1. Romneycare

    2.) Almost constant flip flopping.

    3.) And the press hasn’t really laid into him, yet. It’s the feeling among many of us that they’re just waiting for the main campaign to start the attacks.

    Is that what you were looking for?

  10. Personally, the Newt/Romney battle Personally, the Newt/Romney battle makes me sad. Neither candidate is acceptable, and it leaves open the immense possibility of abject failure on a number of levels.

    First off, if the election becomes another battle of personality, then it doesn’t matter because Obama wins. This has to be an election about IDEAS, not who’s cooler, more likeable, gives a better teleprompter speech, etc. Newt has a slight edge here, but honestly, they can both fall into this trap.

    Secondly, as someone who thinks the constitutional limits on our government are important, repealing Obama-care is a #1 priority. Not “reform”, “repair”, or any other form od meddling, but full repeal. I’m concerned that either one of these candidates are going to me tempted to “fix” the monstrosity the democrats passed, which can only end in failure. (See also: Social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and every other big-government money pit).

    Lastly, the left was hoping for a squishy RINO candidate like Romney, who would be another McCain. A candidate who would fail to fire up the base, fail to articulate a clear alternative to Obama’s Liberal-left policies, and essentially offer a Deomcrat-lite platform. This is why a number of strong GOP candidates were systematically targeted by the liberal media whenever they looked like they might win the top slot. Herman Cain is a great example of a candidate subject to “high tech lynching” – Peel back the heresay and speculation, and the actual facts of the story were extremely limited and hardly suitable for the gossip rags, yet it was parroted night after night until his campaign died. Perry can have one “oops” moment and his campaign is pronounced doomed. This sends a clear message to the stronger potential candidates (Christie, Ryan, etc) – “Don’t jump in the race, or your kids will read sh*t like this on the front page of the newspaper tomorrow”.

    Imagine for a moment if Candidate Obama in 2007 was subject to this kind of targeting? it would have been a McCain Hillary matchup.

    That’s why I think (and hope) that there’s going to be a pushback against BOTH candidates.

  11. I’m fairly republican/libertarian. I think that, like everyone else, I’m not exactly happy with the slate of candidates we have. It’s like, just about “any” republican candidate would win against a weak Obama, but just to make it a race, we are going to pick our nominee from a terrible collection of flawed candidates.

    If I had to sum my feelings for each of the leading candidates in one sentence:
    Mitt: I just don’t trust you, you say what you think I want you to hear, and the only thing you haven’t flipped on is your support of individual mandates (which is the only thing I would like you to flip on).
    Paul: I like you, but you’re too libertarian. You’re the flower-generation/60’s version of libertarianism. Too extreme, I actually don’t mind some Government/Defense/laws. I want a practical/electable libertarian, not a dreamer.
    Newt: Ideas-wise he would be my favorite candidate. He’s somewhat of a space-cadet, pro-science and technology, and was only a couple votes short of a BBA, worked well (if reluctantly) with Clinton, etc. etc. He’s a pragmatic conservative and can communicate his ideas well. Alas, he’s also a mess of a candidate, a blow hard, and not exactly good at managing people.

    Huntsman has a good record, but he also gives me the creeps. He oozes insincerity. He says what will get him elected, and is trying too hard to present an “electable” persona instead of honest believes.

    Bachman/Santorum: Just you’re classic GOP fringe conservative/religious candidates. Meh.

    And finally Perry: I really liked him. I wanted him to be a good candidate so badly. Alas, he’s an idiot. He can’t hold a conversation/communicate an idea to save his life. I would trust him to be conservative, and to make the right decisions, but I’m not voting for someone who can’t hold it together/is incoherent.

  12. I am pretty libertarian I suppose (“with a small l”), mostly more conservative, registered Republican, believe the market and freedom will result in better solutions than most government intervention, etc etc.

    I am a fan of Hunstman and Johnson though they take pretty different positions, Paul is a little kooky, Romney does not believe a single thing he says, and the rest are outright nuts. I mean loonytoons, Even worse is that they are jokes. The entire party is becoming a big joke. So here I am, a lifelong republican, feeling like the party has run off the rails. Johnson isn’t even allowed in the debates. I don’t see anyone to vote for except Obama at this point.

    While Bush was President I felt like my liberal friends had all gone crazy with the conspiracies and hatemongering. Now that Obama is President I feel the same about Republicans. I wrote a lot of ranting above but deleted it all, it’s not important, you just want to know how we feel. I do really enjoy the new blog BleedingHeartLibertarians though, that is my only place of solace right now.

  13. I am a right leaning libertatian. I think this is the weakest primary field I have ever seen. It look as if the GOP has decided to punt and hope for the best in ’16.

    My master plan is to back my guy (Ron Paul) in the primaries, then go see a movie on election day. I would, however, vote for the Libertarian candidate if it were Huntsman or Paul.

    I have a suspicion that Ron Paul went this last time to mainstream his beliefs in order to smooth a run for his son, Rand, in ’16. You heard it here first.

  14. I live in California, so my primary vote is nearly as utterly irrelevant as my general election vote: not sure I’ll bother with the primary this year. But if I do vote in the primary, it’ll certainly be the Republican one, and I’m mostly libertarian, so I Qualify To Comment.

    The short answer: Ron Paul is the only non-loathsome candidate in the Republican field right now (Gary Johnson would be fine, perhaps even superior, but he’s not even realistic as a spoiler “oh, you should try to woo his base” candidate, much less a front runner).

    The long answer:

    Mitt Romney is robotic, soulless, amoral, and opportunistic. Under ordinary circumstances, that’s about the best you can hope for in a presidential candidate, and they don’t do a lot of harm. But right now, the country actually needs someone with an ideology in the White House, to reverse 12 years (and counting!) of disastrous radicalism. So, yeah.

    Newt Gingrich is just as soulless as Romney, actively evil rather than merely amoral, and, for someone whose entire candidacy is based on technocratic competence, shockingly stupid.

    John Huntsman: If you really like Mitt Romney’s platform, but want someone with much less chance to be elected, Huntsman’s your man.

    Rick Perry appears to have an IQ well below room temperature, and his campaign imploded a month ago. I sometimes think about figuring out what he actually stands for, and then ask myself why I’d bother.

    Rick Santorum stands out in a crowded field as the most evil Republican. Congrats, Rick!

    Michelle Bachman is still in the race, right? Oh, not by any realistic standard? Good.

    So, yeah, Ron Paul. His immigration stance is fairly evil, but unexceptional for any candidate in both parties. The gold standard is kind of hilarious as a concept, but won’t happen. He’s obviously the best candidate on civil liberties and foreign policy, to such a degree that we have to call him “unserious” just because of his dangerous radical position that maybe we shouldn’t be spending hundreds of billions or trillions of dollars on making enemies abroad and restricting rights at home.

    Of course, should he actually get elected, he’d probably rip off the Ron Paul mask and prove to be Dr. Evil in disguise. But just winning Iowa would perhaps legitimize the aforementioned dangerously radical ideas. So there’s that.

  15. Huntsman is the only real candidate. I would for Tina Fey as Palin, and with the country being as it is, I think she could win. Would anyone not in on the joke know?
    I thought if Hillary Clinton won it would destroy the Democrat Party. Never would I have imagined that Barack Obama would win and cause the Republican Party to not be able to put forth a serious candidate. What happened? In my opinion, too much attention paid to the religious right. For the most part, how can you get a serious candidate who might have answers to problems we have and force the country to make the hard choices we need, and believe in Creationism over evolution?

  16. I am certain that I will be voting Republican in the next election. I am at this time an anybody but Obama voter. But I will admit that I am not finding what I hope for in the Republican field, just more of it than I get from Obama or the Democrat field generally.

    I am a self described Conservative or Libertarian. To me there is a distinct difference between actual Conservatives and the elected people that have claimed to be so I have no choice but to forgive Democratic voters for mischaracterizing Conservatism. I characterize people like Bush, McCain, Romney and Perry as Neoconservatives. The difference is the justification of Government interference. A true Conservative has a low threshold for this but a neocon like a progressive has a unlimited threshold for more government.

    My unhappiness is that there is really no intellectual disagreement between the parties that the government is not only empowered to intrude, but right to intrude on every day aspects of our lives. The difference in the parties is which special interest do they think either deserves the money I earn more (the poor) or can better utilize it (the successful). Both are increasingly abhorrent conclusions to me. They are two sides of the same coin; taking it from me that earned it. I am looking for an alternative truly committed to reversing the regulations, spending, borrowing and taxing.

    To this end, my favorite is Ron Paul. I know from past Whatever blogs that he is easily dismissed. I feel that is a mischaracterization by people that have not discovered Libertarianism for themselves yet. I read his book Liberty Defined last year (listened on Audible actually) and it awakened me to the realization that the two Parties are more alike than not. I highly recommend the book. I have been interested but dismissive of Libertarianism since the mid 90s but it is only recently that I gave myself to some study of it. It is more than a platform for a political party. It is not easily summarized and I cannot recommend investing some time in it enough.

    I am increasingly interested in Jon Huntsman who has received favorable attention at Whatever, but I need to do more research on him. I am not prepared to defend him at this time. I have his latest debate with Newt on DVR and will listen tonight.

    Entirely aware of the baggage he brings, I like Newt. If you want an efficient big government, then Newt just might deliver, but criticisms that he is awe struck by the intellectual idea of the day are not easily denied. I also believe that their is enduring bitterness on the Left toward Newt because he helped oust Tip O’Neil and outsmarted Bill Clinton, at least for a while. Where Obama is promoted as smart, Newt is. But being smart does not make one a good leader. Newt was a good Speaker of the House and deserves at least shared credit for the things Bill Clinton gets credit for. Newt is a better choice than many.

    I read Romney’s book when it was down to him or John McCain vs. Hillary or Obama. He totally gave in to the Massachusetts Legislature on Romneycare and his every defense of the compromise is another nail in his coffin for me. He would be better than Obama, but he will just be a different version of Bush, compromising and allowing Govt to continue to grow. I disdain this man who may have been a successful businessman but is a failed politician.

    So why anyone but Obama? Obama is committed to his failure. I’m not sure if he realizes that further taxing of the Wealthiest 1% cannot close his revenue to spending gap no matter how big a chunk he could get all the way to 100%, but whether he is pursuing it for reasons of misplaced political fairness or out of ignorance of the accounting table’s debit and credit columns, he is no more respectable for either reason. I don’t seek fairness from the Government as it is not an appropriate function of it. Fairness is a moving target; it cannot be achieved and the nature of Government bureaucracy makes it ill equipped to adapt readily. The failures of Welfare and Affirmative Action are two examples of why Government should not get involved in fixing societal problems. The damage to public schools is another. It is better not pursue it and to let proven free market forces correct the damage that Government has been doing for nigh 100 years now. By the time Obama debated Joe the Plumber in 2007 I think, we already had how many politicians defend taking just a little bit more to help those in need? Why hasn’t what was taken in the past enough to help them already? He is committed to this failure. Obama is touted as smart, but he cannot comprehend the implicit inflexibility and failure of government solutions. He believes that more money and force of will can overcome past failures; a metaphor for the definition of insanity.

    I believe my reasons for disliking Obama are economic and policy based and not a result of the presumed Right wing hatred but I can only do so much to convince any one and I am learning that it is not worth stressing over.

    Thanks John for reaching out for alternative thoughts.

  17. I’m much more of an economic libertarian and foreign policy hawk, and could care less about social issues.

    I’m very disappointed with the Republican field. Romney is a fish. Perry, despite the strong economic performance of Texas, seems dopey. Bachman is inexperienced. And nuts. Cain is unknowledgeable and damaged goods. Santorum is too strident, too focused on social issues. I like some things about Ron Paul, but he’s too extreme, too dovish, and has some very distasteful baggage from the content of some of his newsletters.

    That leaves Gingrich and Huntsman. Gingrich, along with Clinton, is responsible for the last balanced budget we had, which is a very good point in his favor. And he has a wealth of experience in DC, for better or worse. I’m not sure, to say the least, about his temperament. And some of the ideas he has expounded in the past have been too compassionate-conservative for my taste. He seems to be enamored of technocratic government, with a conservative persuasion, true, but I just have no confidence in the ability of government to not screw up whatever it gets its grubby fingers in.

    Hunstman is actually a pretty darn good fit from what little I’ve read about him. Too bad he’s polling in the nether-regions, but maybe the worm will turn and it will be his chance to be front-runner.

    Because of their policies, their history (the Confederacy, Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow, Espionage and Sedition Acts, Palmer Raids, Japanese Internment, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the Case-Church Amendment, and the Great Society) and their generations-long plundering of the economic and social capital of our once great cities, I can’t see myself ever pulling the lever for a Democrat. And I live in PA, so by the time we get to vote in the primary it’s already usually a done deal. My guess is that I’ll be holding my nose and voting for Romney.

    TL;DR – WTF?! Ugh! …ABO.

  18. @Matt 3:11:
    “Even a little bit of game analysis would show that picking someone closer to the middle of the road would be a much better strategy, there are a number of disgruntled Democrats who would actually support such a Republican candidate.”

    Wrong, wrong wrong.

    Remember 2008? That line of thinking was what got us Candidate John McCain. It sounds tempting, and I totally understand the appeal of “Let’s just nominate a ‘moderate’ who everyone can like!” but that isn’t what happens. When you think about oit a bit, you’ll realize that it CAN’T be. In the battle of a moderate versus a left-winger, the left winger sounds like a candidate with strong beliefs and convictions while the moderate just sounds like a wimp who agrees with the liberal on too many things. The liberal sounds like a LEADER, someone who;s willing to change hearts and minds and move mountains. The moderate seems like a follower, who wants to please everybody and has no objectionable (or original) ideas. The impression quickly forms that the two canddiates are identical on all of the “important” issues, and who cares about anything beyond that?

    Liberals will vote left, because they only care that the moderate says to many things they DON’T LIKE.
    Conservatives will stay home, because the moderate doesn’t say very many things they DO LIKE.

  19. I have a few thoughts here:

    First, I’m in general agreement with Scalzi’s view of Huntsman, but the reality is he’s going nowhere. I also am a fan of Gary Johnson, but again — a nonstarter in current Republican circles.

    That said, there are only two candidates of consequence: Romney and Gingrich.

    It has been said that there is not a single conservative who has not — at some point in the last twenty years — had a political crush on Gingrich. Partly, it’s that he’s bursting with a million ideas: 99.9% of them are ridiculous but that’s 1,000 more ideas than most people in Washington. His ideas are often so specifically interesting (e.g., helping kids build a work ethic by allowing them to work for a sub-minimum wage at a school) while so specifically annoying many interested groups to whom conservatives are opposed (again, in that case, public sector employees unions) that it makes one cheer, loudly and often. He’s done this throughout his career: Free enterprise to get us to the Moon! Recognize Taiwan! Move the US Embassy to Jerusalem! NATO membership for suburban Moscow! Some of them are constructive and useful ideas, some of them are pretty low-down (e.g., the Jim Wright business) but *all* of them have some very strong appeal to some specific segment of the conservative movement.

    But he’s the lousy boyfriend. He’s politically charming, but he’s arrogant, a bit vindictive, and someone you always have to apologize for. No one in the conservative movement has any illusions that Gingrich is either easily electable or a particularly reliable guy. But, gosh, if you only knew him. That thing he promised me? He’ll come through. However, he’s also the lousy boyfriend of 20 years ago and while he took us on that one great date (read: the 1994 takeover of Congress), we’re all a little skeptical of him that he’s changed. But *maybe* he’s reformed himself. And that’s the question for the next six weeks. Can Gingrich get the movement back in bed with him before we realize that he’s really the same old unreliable cad.

    (Finally, I’m not going to defend Gingrich or his personal foibles. He’s a cad and a hypocrite. I’d still happily vote for him in the fall if it comes to that (N.B.: I’m in California, my vote is meaningless))

    As to Romney, the guy is a flip-flopper and probably politically unreliable. He is, I think in disposition, very much like George HW Bush. A New England/Rockefeller Republican at heart. And big tax compromises are probably not outside the realm of possibility in a Romney administration. I think Romney would ultimately mean the enshrinement of most aspects of Obamacare, with maybe a few of the worst parts carved out. But his current position is mostly to the right of Ronald Reagan and therefore I like the guy. He’s obviously a very smart guy, accomplished, and — why I think he’ll ultimately win the nomination and the general — boring. I don’t believe he can be made out to be a conservative boogeyman. But one thing I do like is that while he’s not an evangelical, I don’t think he looks down on the evangelical types and will want to work with them constructively when he can. George W Bush was an evangelical. John McCain hated evangelicals. Romney isn’t one, but there’s no deep seated distaste for them. I think this can make for a useful, constructive conservative government, if we get that far. A bit of resistance built in at the top to the most overtly conservative social things (one might see abortion restrictions, but he’ll never push for a constitutional amendment against it), while still promising a very intelligent, technocratic guy at the top. I’m opposed to most social conservative things. But I’m opposed to the economic direction of the country even more.

    It’s not a thrilling candidate, but I think he’d make a good President. I can live with that. I intend to vote for that. Warts and all.

  20. I voted for Bob Barr in 2008, but I’m a registered Republican. I’m deciding between Huntsman, Romney, and Ron Paul.

    I’ll probably vote Huntsman since I agree with him on the most issues, but Romney is a pretty well spoken guy – quite reasonable, so if it weren’t for his blandness, he’d have my vote. (I liked Cain for precisely the opposite reasons – not too smart, but very exciting to listen to).

    Ron Paul I really respect for his integrity and his ability to stand up to party leadership to do what is right (like the recent vote to close several sessions that have very important privacy implications for us all), but he’s crazy on some issues, like moving us to the Gold Standard.

    Gingrich was responsible for the Republican Revolution of 1994, which introduced modern conservativism to America, but he’s a terrible leader (I was 3 feet away from him when he got booted out of the party leadership) and a complete sellout to Fannie Mae (almost as bad as Barney Frank). He’s the anti-Ron Paul in that sense.

    Perry and Bachmann represent to me the fundamentalist Christian / anti-science crowd that irks me so much about the modern Republican Party.

  21. Candidate Obama in 2007 was subject to this kind of targeting?

    Did you watch the same election as I did? Bill Wright, Jerimiah whatshisface, “Whitey” tapes etc…

    And Cain? A lynching? Sorry – we must be living in different places, because, in the one I live in, if I was phoning ANY woman at 4:30am in the morning and hadn’t told my wife, I would a) be looking for a new place to live and b) probably guilty as charged…

  22. Anyhoo… the interesting thing for me is that by British standards I’d probably be considered quite conservative, the fact that by US standards I actually find Obama to be quite uncomfortably right wing on a number of issues really surprises me.

    Of all of them, the only one who seems to have the intellectual clout and general demeanor of a potential president is Jon Huntsman, and it looks like his campaign is dead in the water.

    As I can’t vote it’s all academic, but it does make for fantastic theatre for an ex-pat.

  23. I’m a registered Libertarian and will probably vote that way in the presidential election.

    If I was voting Republican, as I sometimes do, I’d prefer Ron Paul. The Republican that I think has an actual chance of winning and would do a decent job is Mitt Romney. Gingrich leaves a bad taste in my mouth and I’d definitely vote for a random Libertarian candidate rather than him.

  24. @Daveon:

    Yeah, I watched it: Ayers was diavowed as someone who “committed crimes then [Obama] was eight” and nobody cared that they were still friends, or that he was an unapologetic domestic terrorist. Anyone pointing out Jerimiah Wright was slammed as racist and intolerant. Anyone pushing to look into Obama’s background was attacked. Heck, all you had to do to get the SWAT treatment from the mainstream media was ask Obama a question, so long as his answer betrayed his socialist roots.

    Just because those topics made the news, does not mean he was targetted. They were never covered from the “Obama’s unelectiable because of his history of X” , they were covered from the “Hate-filled racist evil republicans trying to slander Obama by talking about X” angle instead.

  25. I have traditionally vacillated between the two parties because, like many others, I I am liberal on social issues and extremely conservative on fiscal issues. My main problem with the Republican party in general and the candidates specifically is the movement away from fiscal conservatism and towards the fringe elements of the party.

    Now we have two parties who care nothing about raising and spending money prudently. Honestly I can’t see any difference between Obama and GW Bush. It amazes me how people are so polarized against one and embrace the other. How would you distinguish to two from each other? I can’t.

    Left with that, I think Huntsman is actually sane and thoughtful and fiscally conservative without being a wingnut. Ron Paul has some pull for me because he actually is the ‘other’ party. One of the few politicians not beholden to campaign funds even though I don’t agree with some of his policies. I doubt either will be nominated and so I might simply bow out of this election. I mean, Romney or Obama? Can someone enlighten me how things will be different if either becomes president?

  26. I have two opinions about the Republican primary race:

    1) Every single Republican candidate for president is deeply flawed. This is not the slate of candidates I would have chosen, had I the power to influence the candidate slate.
    2) Notwithstanding their flaws, every single one would be an improvement as president over Barack Obama. Maybe not much of an improvement over a first-term Obama, but absolutely an improvement over what I expect an Obama second term would be like, based on what tendencies the man has already displayed a penchant for while in office.

  27. Pete – and hoping this doesn’t come across as smite-able. I think the issue there is neither of those were technically things that made him unelectable, because no matter what was pulled up by the media (note lack of labels because I don’t find your media all that liberal myself). Cain, on the other hand, was already mis-stepping on lots of issues before the women starting popping up. If anybody, especially the Clinton team had had something real on Obama I don’t believe for a second they wouldn’t have nuked him from orbit. The reality is, they didn’t. Cain was not prepared for a run for political office, that’s what sunk him. I’ll point out that Gingrinch, who’s dealt with his infidelities and related hypocrisy in a different way has had that stuff bounce straight off him.

  28. I’m conservative in some axies but libertarian in others and left-wing in others. I vote republican often enough to consider myself eligible here, so what the heck.

    My personal biases – Not religious. Not fond of the Tea Party (or Occupy); yes, I understand you’re angry, and there are legitimate grievances, but the resulting policy proposals have largely been outside of the spectrum of reality. Until 2004 I had little faith in Democratic party foreign policy and defense matters; now I have skepticism on all fronts there. I have a fairly libertarian economics viewpoint, but little-L, in the “Government does many things badly”. The current Republican tea-party pandering is in a technical economics sense insane, but the Democrats typically don’t do much better historically. I am intellectually Ok with the tax rate I pay given the social services I see necessary around me however. I am not in the 1%, though I’m somewhat above the 90%tile line. I am pro gay marriage and pro responsible gun ownership. My wife is further left wing on just about everything, but equally libertarian and independent. I will mention her views somewhat as we often bounce stuff back and forth, but if I misrepresent her I apologize.

    Romney – Brand X, not really impressing me but nothing grossly wrong. My wife is concerned that his social conservatism is deeper than it appears and his mormonism will at some point cause a problem (she reacts this way to many aggressive christian denominations).

    Gingrich – I remember Newt 1.0 and am concerned. I also am concerned about replacing a left-moderate professor-president with a right-moderate professor-president. That said, he’s smart and he thinks outside the box, and the personal stuff doesn’t bother me. Can debate.

    Huntsman – I think this is not his year, but he’s impressing me. Also seems to think outside the box, seems intellectually and morally reasonable. The Republicans could do far worse than having him be the running mate or the next presidential candidate.

    Perry – Don’t think so. Worries me on multiple levels.

    Santorum – Don’t think so. Honest but far too socially conservative.

    Bachman – No. Not there. Not ready for the wider national stage, not electable in a main election, not intellectually interesting, pandering to Tea Party to dangerous degree. Nope.

    Cain – Interesting in some ways but the sexual problem is a real problem; an open marriage or an affair is one thing, but a bunch of them and serial harrassment is not the sort of person I want in power. I doubt that enough of the claims are false to materially change my impression, though I am not convinced of all particulars yet. Thinks outside the box. Weak on foreign policy to the extent that he’d need a Newt or Huntsman VP to run the foreign policy department. Total package at this point is a no.

    Ron Paul – The honest man in congress right now, but too libertarian. Doesn’t get foreign policy, I disagree too much on what roles government must play (many of which it does badly, but there is no alternative). I’m glad he’s there and that he’s had his say, but I would not vote for him. Would like to meet him and get to know him perhaps, despite that.

    My guess today for final nominee is 50% Gingrich, 30% Romney, 10% Huntsman, 10% someone else. It’s early still but that’s the way I see the field. I suspect that any of those three will win the general election unless bread and fishes break out and unemployment dives, which I suspect is a No because I think Europe’s about to crash economically (what sort of idiot puts Greece and Italy and Spain on the Mark standard? ???) and the side effects will reach us. Obama is not to blame for the economics here but will be blamed by the populace; statistics are that presidents whose economic situation deteriorated take the blame in the next election.

    If by some chance they nominate one of the others I think that their electability may be impaired enough to open the race up and give Obama a fighting chance.

  29. Like most, I am not excited about our options. I preferred Thompson from last election, but he’s too boring for most.
    Personally, I want someone with the brains to actually address our financial long term future. This includes health care, lending, overseas oil, and taxes. Someone willing to make the right decision, not the expedient decision, and someone smart enough to get help when he needs it, and GOOD help, not yes-men or porkbarrelers. So I guess I’m leaning Newt at the moment, although I’m as surprised as anyone.
    Why do I not mention moral issues even though they matter to me a lot? Because most of the folks in the moral bracket I prefer are clearly unqualified, and frankly, the president is going to spend a lot more time trying to fix the economic quagmire than anything else. Most of the moral legislation and battles happen on a state level anyway right now.
    It’s a magical year and election: BOTH parties are unhappy with their candidates, and no one has a clue what to do about it.

  30. Socially liberal, fiscally conservative. Hunstman is the only one I’d consider voting for, because he’s the only one who strikes me as understanding that progress takes time, work, and compromise, and that scorched earth policies in politics are just stupid. You take the gains you can get.

    The rest are drooling idiots.

  31. So my order of preference right now is pretty much anyone viable but Romney is better than Romney, and it’s going to be very important if Romney’s the nominee to elect a bunch of conservatives to the house (Senate’s a lost cause, whatever’s in the water in DC makes them all go off the reservation in one term or less). If I have to hold my nose and vote for him that will be two presidential election cycles in a row, and I won’t be happy. Probably a good 30-40 percent of the base feels the same way, which won’t be good for the long-term for the party – you keep angering them and eventually they leave.

    Right now? I’m going to be supporting whichever ‘not Romney’ is in the lead of that category when I get the chance to vote. None of them are perfect, and they’re all flawed in different ways, but they’d all be an improvement. And outside of Ron Paul, they’d all be viable to actually win the general election. Perry? He’s someone who twenty-five years ago was a moderate Southern Democrat. He hasn’t changed, the Democrats just moved away from him. Gingrich? Ex-professor who tends to ivory-tower things too much, and some moral issues. Huntsman? Being left-of-center, he’d be a great Democrat nominee. Republican? Not so much. Ron Paul is, erm, Ron Paul.

    Romney’s problem is he has no core principles, other than ‘what do I need to appear to believe in order to get elected’. Need to be pro-choice to win in Mass? No problem. Need to switch to pro-life for a national election? No problem. Similar issues on a wide range of issues. So you _know_ he’s just pandering. He is, however, at least pandering to the right people now, which is why it’s important to put conservatives in congress to keep him in check.

  32. I am a republican. I have voted for two democrats in my history of voting, both times because the republican in the race said something so degrading about members of a different race or religion that I could not, in good conscience, support him.

    I have donated to Huntsman and obnoxiously support him on twitter and facebook. I think it is time that we have a president with true foreign policy bona fides, and I think that he can work with people with whom he disagrees. He reflects my views on almost every issue (with a couple of notable exceptions).

    With respect to the rest of the field, here are my thoughts:

    Bachmann and Santorum: I think both candidates truly believe every word they say, and that scares me. I do not think campaigning on evangelical Christian principles is consistent with promising to limit the federal government to its constitutional role.

    Gingrich: I think he is an interesting character, and I would love to take a class with him as my professor. I think he has a somewhat helpful perspective and would be a great advisor to a president. I think he is 100% unelectable, and for good reasons. I do not think the president should be so well-versed in condescencion.

    Perry: I think he should withdraw from the race before he alienates more voters from the republican party.

    Romney: I wanted to support Romney, and I think he might, once elected, be a good president. He has rendered himself unelectable by his ineffective campaigning.

    Paul: I respect Ron Paul’s consistency and ideas. I think he is mostly right about economic policy. I do not, however, support an isolationist foreign policy (I do support withdrawal from Afghanistan and peace, but I think foreign aid is essential to peace).

  33. I think those seriously considering Gingrich’s chances should watch this enjoyable horse race flash animation from Slate:
    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2011/10/horse_race_politics_an_animation_of_the_2012_republican_campaign.html

    It shows all the polling over the last two years for the Republican candidates. And the overwhelming pattern is: someone jumps to the front to challenge Romney, and then that person collapses. I think Gingrich is just as likely to follow in the footsteps of Palin, Bachman, Cain and Perry.

    That is why I’m not writing off Huntsman moving up via process of elimination. Sadly, he looks to be moving towards the party’s base, as he recently somewhat backed off his strong pro-science global warming stance. But that is smart for him to move next in line to be considered after Gingrich torpedoes himself.

  34. I don’t know whether I’m more appalled by the candidates, by what their overall make-up says about our country, or by my own reaction to them. You wanted honest opinions? Bachmann and Perry scare me. How could people so fundamentally stupid rise to the level they’ve reached? Ron Paul? Seriously? Do we need another incarnation of H. Ross Perot? I have never felt that Mitt Romney was someone that could be trusted and he’s done nothing this year to change that opinion.

    Which brings us to Newt Gingrich. I find him personally despicable. Unlikable in every way. I wouldn’t want him near any member of my family. But our country faces such serious problems, it’s entirely possible that as dishonest and self-aggrandizing as he is, that arrogant so-and-so may be the one best suited to lead the country out of its current mess. Did I just actually say that?

    There’s another possibility that people are starting to talk about. If Republican/Centrist Michael Bloomberg ran as an Independent, he’d have my support in a heartbeat.

  35. I used to vote Democrat…but they have strayed way to far left for me on nanny state type issues…that being said, I like others here am fiscally conservative and somewhat socially liberal… My first choices, Chris Christie and Marco Rubio are not running. Of those remaining, although I think Newt is smart (much smarter than the opposition)…he is too prickly of a personality to run and win. I, therefore am with Romney. Some accuse him of flip flopping…no more so than any other politician (except for Ron Paul) and in particular our current chief exec.

  36. I guess I’m a libertarian or moderate Republican. What that means here in CA is that I believe in small government, fiscal responsibility and a lot less laws telling us what we can or cannot do. I’m an atheist as well, which means I find myself on the liberal side of most social issue debates (like abortion or gay marriage) and I don’t believe we should be out there invading every country we disagree with. That said, my favorite thus far (and for a while now) is Ron Paul.

    Keep in mind that I don’t agree with everything he stands for. However, I agree with how he says it. That is, I like a leader who’s honest with me and doesn’t seem to pander to special interests. I don’t care how electable the other candidates are, when they get in office, they’ll do what every other politician does which is kowtow to special interests in order to get reelected. Democrat or Republican, I think that’s the number one problem with our current government and Ron Paul seems to be the only one who rises above that problem.

    Unfortunately, I don’t believe Paul will be the nominee which means, come November, I will once again be voting for the lesser of two evils rather than a candidate I truly believe in.

    As an aside, I got my citizenship in 1999 and I haven’t missed an election since (didn’t vote for Bush either time and was going to vote Obama last time right up until the end when I changed my mind). Unfortunately, I also haven’t had a single election since then where I’ve truly believed the candidate I voted for had our best interests in mind, and I say that about local and state elections too, not just federal. Makes me a little sad because it feels like that right to vote I worked so hard for is almost meaningless.

  37. Not sure if I meet the qualifications to comment here, but you can always delete my comment if I don’t, so I’ll give it a go.

    I’m a Libertarian with Republican leanings, but more out of expediency than sympathy. I think the Republican Party has long been an uneasy, mutually antagonistic coalition of three wings (fascist, theocratic, free-market fundamentalist), and the antagonism was papered over by being the perpetual minority party. Now that they’ve had some back-to-back majorities in Congress, the cracks are starting to show, the discipline that goes with being a perpetual minority party is fading, and the coalition is starting to break up. (The Democrats manage it because their disagreements are mostly about degree, not fundamentals. They’re an ideologically more unified, but less disciplined party. But the ideological unity counts for a lot.)

    Since the Republican Party is breaking up, now is the time for the libertarian branch of the three to start asserting itself and negotiating for better terms. So, I would vote for Gary Johnson in the Republican primary (and I will be volunteering for his campaign if he seeks and gets the LP nomination), regardless of his chances of winning, on the theory that the more votes he polls, the more cards the libertarian wing has in its hand. I’m not motivated by who wins this time around (since I think a Republican winning the big election is probably not in the stars this time around anyway) but rather what direction the party takes from here. Preferably a more libertarian one.

  38. Im not sure I qualify as a conservative since Ive been tarred and feather for disagreeing with some friends who are way to the right of me, but I voted for Reagen & elder Bush my 1st three elections so…. I originally became a Republican in spite of being in a strongly democratic district with a democratic family because in 1980 (my first) the Democrats had gotten to the point where you expected the candidates to show up together in VW bug and pile out wearing shows 5 sizes to large. I wanted to vote for people I felt could actually run a country.

    Fast forward to now and I feel like Im back in 1980. I look at the GOP field and I have flashbacks. We even have the attention seeking lunatics with bad hair. There are a couple GOP candidates that I would like to talk to in person because they seem nice enough (Paul and Huntsmen) even if I dont think they have the depth for the presidency, but the rest of them ……. Dear God, the rest of them. Perry with nuclear weapons? NEWT?? I mean really have any of you actually seen one of his meltdowns? (in his old district btw)

    I tend to be socially more liberal and conservative on money and foreign relations so Im not entirelly thrilled with Obama but I may have to vote for him. the GOP field scares me quit honestly.

  39. My Credentials: Voted Regan, Bush, and Bush (but neither Bush for re-election.) I very much like smaller governments, local control, flat taxes, and strong defense. (The Soviets needed defeating not negotiating.)
    In 1988 I first began constructing my ‘future history’ with American as a third rate power bankrupted by fiscal madness and crippled by group-think pigeon-holed PC mentalities. I see little to dissuade me from this viewpoint.
    1994 I cheered the GOP take over of the House of Representatives. I am pro-death penalty, and I consider the vagrants on the streets bums not ‘homeless.’ {and yes there are exceptions, but they are just that exception.}

    The current GOP and the current slate of candidates? God help us, we are doomed as a nation.
    Gingrich: An ego without disciple who is too enamored with the latest fads and the certainty he’s the smartest man in the room. A President must be able to know when others right and he is wrong.
    Romney: save me from another son trying to use politics to live up to Daddy’s expectations. Clearly a man willing to say and do anything to be president and strikes me as coreless.
    Perry: All hat and no cattle. Bush 41 without the drive and talent. A man who thinks being glib is enough and not willing to work.
    Cain; Well he’s gone but he was just on the biggest book tour ever not really running and clueless to the real world. (yes, China has Nukes and I could have argued flat-footed against the Libyan policy.)
    Bachmann: A person who denies evolution is either ignorant, idiotic, or lying, any of the above disqualifies.
    Santorum: He is a one note pony, gays are bad and we need good moral laws. I hate moral laws from both the right and the left. You can’t make people into good people and that’s not the government’s business.
    Ron Paul: Sorry dude you’re too far out on the small government. We cannot have a 19th century style of taxation, currency, or government in the 21st century. There is zero chance we’re going to become Victorians with poor house and no safety net. Any president has to deal with reality not an idealized world.
    Gary Johnson: I like and would vote happily for him over Obama, sadly the GOP fetish with small government doesn’t extended to reality.
    John Hunstman: I have areas of disagreement, but I could support and work with this man. He’s more socially conservative than I would care for, but not a red-meat take back our God fearing country back type.
    Sadly the GOP I used to be proud to count as my party left me. This know-nothing, anti-evolution, sex obsessed God’s Own Party is not mine.

  40. Personally I mostly agreed with your post on Huntsman, but given our last 2 presidents’ experiments with big Government, IMO, failing, Ron Paul may sound like a lunatic but he’s the only one that’s not a big Government person, so if I had to vote I’d vote for him.

    Given that Romney is a former hedge fund owner coupled with the banks’ looting of the Treasury recently, I’d say he’s the worst candidate possible. He’ll actually accomplish something, and from what I’ve seen anything government accomplishes makes things worse.

  41. I didn’t read all of the comments, but those I read suggest that a common theme is wishing for a better candidate. I’ll start by noting that I believe we make these decisions at a gut level, and all of the rationalizing and explaining about why are simply the result of our rational brain’s trying to justify that gut decision. That said, I was serially disappointed as Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, and Mitch Daniels gradually weeded themselves out. In particular I liked Ryan’s ability to articulate the principles behind his policy prescriptions. I think Marco Rubio has this rhetorical gift as well, but he has even less experience than Obama had at the time of his election, so I don’t think Rubio was ever realistic as a nominee. So anyway, that’s where my gut was.

    That leaves me with the current crop.

    Gingrich: Smart, great talker, consistently wins the debates, most disliked by those who know him best. I think many Republicans are fooling themselves that his debate skills will somehow sway an Obama-leaning voter. If you have already decided that you are emotionally OK with Obama, then even if Gingrich wipes the floor with him in a debate, Newt will just end up looking like a smug prick. People are unhappy with Obama’s leadership, but they really hate a smug prick. The economy would really have to suck for him to win in November. Beyond the practical, I just despise Newt’s temperament. He is an intellectual magpie, attracted to the shiny and new, and all too willing to be taken in by the latest faux intellectual scam (i.e. sitting on the couch with Pelosi). With Gingrich, we might get genius, but we could just as easily (or more likely) get disaster. Marginally better than Obama for my values.

    Perry: Kind of the anti-Newt, in that he will not soon be mistaken for a great debater. However, as far as general temperament and instincts, he is not nearly as bad as he has been portrayed. Has probably the better limited government credibility of the electable candidates. It’s not impossible for him to climb back, but he seems to be flailing.

    Paul: While I’d be willing to accept some of the harsh medicine for fiscal stability, the 9/11 Truther, anti-Israel, isolationism, and associated nutbaggery that comes with it makes him a non-starter. Also, I’m generally repelled by candidates who are so willing to consider a third party run. Since the history of the US indicates that this is a) doomed to fail and b) much more likely to elect the candidate of the opposite party, it is kind of a litmus test of seriousness.

    Bachman: Was never going anywhere, and only surged briefly due to the limitations of the field. Even more so for Cain, who seemed totally unprepared to be taken seriously as a candidate. Running to burnish your resume or sell books is an annoying distraction.

    Huntsman: Would support in a heartbeat over Obama, and may win by being the acceptable none-of-the-above. He really seemed to delight in pissing off the conservative base, though. This makes me question his overall judgment. If he had taken a slightly more big-tent approach to the people who vote in the primaries, he’d be better poised to supplant Romney as the Establishment pick.

    Romney: Has that demeanor of the guy you eventually settle for after having a wild fling or two (Newt, Cain). Would have been much better served if a year ago he would have had a Road to Damascus moment when he realized that Romneycare was a mistake. In an election where Obamacare should be a main issue for conservatives, he has hobbled one of the best lines of attack. He gives off a too-earnest vibe that can be off-putting, but I think will be a credible nominee as a guy who fixes things that are broken. I don’t trust his instincts much more than Gingrich, but I think Romney plus a conservative congress would actually generally tack in the direction I would like. I think he will be the eventual nominee.

    None-of-the above: This cycle, there is a real chance that Gingrich, Romney, and Paul will all fail to get to 50%. In that case, a brokered convention might be enough to convince one of those men I mentioned earlier to reconsider.

    John, thanks for the forum. It’s a shame when online discussions turn into echo chambers. It becomes too easy to dismiss our opponents as the “other”, and hence unworthy of serious consideration or debate. While Whatever readers clearly skew left of center, you generally keep things civil for those who disagree. (sorry if this double-posts, getting wierd screen view from comments

  42. Count me as another fiscal conservative and social moderate/liberal in the reddest city in the reddest county in the reddest state of the Union. Color me purple.

    As pointed out earlier in the thread, the primary will probably be a done deal by the time Texas holds theirs. In fact, it often is. 2008 was an exception. I was leaning toward McCain until he selected his running mate.

    At this point if I were to vote in the Republican primary I’d choose Huntsman, if he happened to be still in the race. In a Gingrich/Romney race I’d probably go with Gingrich. I can’t bring myself to vote for Perry. The reasons are myriad and I won’t go into them here. I’ll just say that after ten years in office he’s worn out his welcome in my book.

  43. I’m fairly depressed by the choices. I feel that the Republican Party used to be the party of logic and responsibility, but has become far too ideological in recent years. I wish we had better candidates. Romney probably has the best shot of winning, but he lacks charisma and conviction. I feel like he will say whatever is necessary to win. He seems like the guy who rises in organizations, because he is unreadable. However, he also seems like the last guy you’d want next to you in a fox hole because you never know where he really stands. I think Gingrich is the most intelligent candidate. I also think he would eviscerate the President in a debate. That said, his personal life is a disaster to the point that it could jeopardize a win in the general election. I like Huntsman the most, but he is too moderate to win the Republican primary. Watching the remaining candidates debate (e.g., Perry, Bachmann, etc.) is like being in the front row at a clown show.

    The problem for me is that the principles of today’s Democratic Party are so alien to my own that I really fear for my country. I am distinctly unhappy that my vote will not be for a candidate I love, but against a candidate I oppose.

  44. I technically can’t post, because I don’t fall under Rule #2. I generally think that Obama is doing a pretty good job. Given the state of the economy, I generally support his policies: the deficit is bad, but austerity spending is worse right now. Also, I’m not sure if I’m a Republican anymore, with the drift of the party far too the right. However, I live in Massachusetts now, so I’m a elephant round these parts.

    Bachmann: plain crazy

    Gingrich: probably the intellectual heavyweight of the bunch, but he’s a weasel. Wait, not a weasel, a ferret. With cold dead eyes that calculate disembowelment.

    Huntsman: oh, look, Reagan is running, and he is far too left for the Republicans? WTF. My #1 pick.

    Paul: by far, the most honest and consistent politician of the bunch. Quite possibly the most consistent Legislator. Too bad that his ideas work better on paper than in reality.

    Perry: Bush2, but without the brain. Egads.

    Romney: A carpetbagger and nobody knows what he really stands for. Wait, we all know what he stands for: he wants to be elected. That is his only issue stance. It is telling that he is my #2 pick.

    Santorum: too frothy.

    As an added bonus: the VP will be Huckabee. You read it here first.

  45. I’m a conservative Republican. Supply-side, rule-of-law, gun-rights, abolish-the-Department-of-Education, roll-back-Roe and defund-NPR conservative.

    In my opinion the field sucks, modulo some high points. Here are my assessments of the current candidates.

    Ron Paul: the man is batshit insane. And borderline anti-Semitic. A caricature of Libertarianism I wouldn’t trust to park my car, let alone run a country.

    Jon Huntsman: actually possesses a more conservative record than the rest of the field, but decided to repudiate conservatism and conservatives and run from what Republicans consider the center-left. Also is oddly orange, and somehow evokes televangelism. Might govern decently, but evidently can’t campaign worth a damn. Has slim-to-no shot at election, and I find him personally unlikable.

    Michele Bachmann: more Palin than Palin, more Tea Party than Tea Party. Shrill as Hillary, sensible as Biden. No, no, no. God, no.

    Rick Santorum: whiny and hackneyed. Way too much of a social-conservative for my preference, which is really saying something. No shot, and that’s a good thing.

    Herman Cain: out of the race now, but I’m glad. 9-9-9 would have been a disaster, especially if it ever passed. Also a dangerous foreign-policy lightweight.

    Rick Perry: the guy I wish had a shot at winning. Sadly our system of political discourse prizes the ability to deliver glib sound bites on cue over morals, character or ideological bonafides, and always will. Also, bad luck: we only just finished up with an aggressively competent yet tongue-tied Texan barely able to defend himself on camera. Doubt it will work out for Perry.

    Mitt Romney: what does (or doesn’t) the man stand for? I defy anyone to find a statement he’s made that he hasn’t also contradicted. He’s our party’s John Kerry, and to the Republican ear that damned well ought to mean we have no business allowing him near the ballot.

    Newt Gingrich: smartest guy on stage, and don’t think he’ll let you forget it. Lacking in consistently conservative cred, prone to set off rhetorical tac-nukes at his own feet, serial adulterer, loose cannon and megalomaniac: have I missed anything? Yet his knowledge of today’s issues is encyclopedic, he actually gets technology (a perennial Republican Achilles’ Heel), and for all he may not be conservative, he’s managed to advance the Republican cause better than any man in recent history, to wit: the 1994 breaking of the 40-year Democrat hammerlock on the House. But above all, to wax Lincolnian, we cannot spare him because he fights: he’s collected moderator scalps throughout the debate process, he articulates conservative positions fearlessly when it suits him, and he has the speed and fluidity of wit to meet the Teleprompter-in-chief head-on. Provided he doesn’t blow himself in half with a verbal IED, of course.

    So, yeah, Newt is probably going to be my choice, though IMO Perry would do a better job. Crazy primary season.

  46. John,

    I just found your website via a link from the email newsletter the Transom. Great post on lava/Gollum in the LOTR. Anyway, I’m a raging conservative so when I went to your homepage I figured I should throw my two cents in.

    I was a big Perry fan based on his record and early commercials — obviously, like others have said, the debates have proven he just isn’t that smart and I tend to agree with Hay’s comment above.

    That said, I should obviously like both Newt and Mitt as they are smart and capable of debating Obama and explaining to the American people why he’s wrong about policy X or Y. In the end, I tend to agree with my fellow conservatives who don’t trust Mitt’s instincts (see e.g. Romneycare). Newt also has a problem with his instincts (he tends toward crazy, grandiose ideas) but his track record in the 90s is solidly conservative (some could argue that welfare reform is the most important conservative reform of the welfare state since LBJ) and he knows how to speak the truth while exciting conservatives like me (see e.g. his comments about the Palestinians). I just wonder if those comments will turn off independents and so I should hold my nose and vote for Mitt since he might be better in the general election?

    I live in Illinois (Chicago) and at this point I’m leaning heavily toward Newt, but I still might change my mind if I could be convinced that only Mitt can beat Obama in the general.

    By the way, you and your readers might get a kick out of this: http://newtjudgesyou.tumblr.com/

  47. This current field of candidates is lacking and I don’t see how it is that the Republicans can’t put up a more viable candidate to take on Obama. With the way his polling numbers are going, it shouldn’t be too hard to defeat him provided there was actually a candidate that people could get excited about.

    As for the current crop, if I had to choose today, I would pick Gingrich. He has the experience of working with the other side of the aisle and with the polarization of the country, this is a job prerequisite at this point.

    On the issues, there isn’t much difference between Gingrich and Romney but I just don’t think Romney has the chops to pull it off. I would like to see the cage match between Perry and Romney as these two guys really seem to hate each other.

    Ron Paul is not electable because of his laughable foreign policy views. Isolationism is not the answer.

  48. I’ve always struggled with Republican candidates because, while I consider myself fairly conservative, I just can’t get on board with the religious rhetoric. Jon Huntsman seems closest to my own views, though I still don’t agree with him on everything. I get a positive feeling from him in my gut though, whereas the rest of the GOP candidates leave me feeling cautious… or disgusted, in some instances.

  49. Another libertarian-leaning California Republican whose primary vote is probably irrelevant. If he’s still on the ballot when the primary happens, I’ll vote for Ron Paul, because screw Washington. In the real election, I’ll vote against the inclumbent, like I always do, even though I know his replacement will suck, like he always does.

  50. Yet another for the fiscal conservative, foreign policy moderate, social liberal dogpile… Former libertarian, but I’m not dogmatic enough about it anymore to stay in the party. The nascent “bleeding heart libertarian” movement I find very interesting at the moment, though.

    I was not quite of age to vote back in the day when there was room for Lowell Weickers and Scoop Jacksons who could plausibly reach across the aisle while maintaining their integrity. Looking back, I wonder just how we got from there to here in only one generation.

    My takes:
    Paul – Voted for him twice (even shook his hand when he came to our campus in ’88), in part because there was no reasonable chance of him winning. The only one who’s a real positive on civil liberties (which don’t seem to be a priority for either party), but too naive on foreign policy. Which is important right now, regardless of how the economy goes.
    Gingrich – Very good at looking like a smart person. Might not be the worst choice if there was a guarantee that everything would go well, but I don’t want a technocrat at the controls when things go badly wrong. And I don’t trust him not to be the guy who makes them go wrong in the first place.
    Romney – Call me when he holds a position with some conviction. Any position. Then I’ll give an answer.
    Huntsman – I don’t mind what I’ve seen. A bit more conservative than I might prefer, but doesn’t seem too aggressive about it.
    Santorum – Everything that is, to me, wrong with the party. Unabashedly pro-government as long as it’s in support of an explicitly theocratic agenda. And there’s no room in his worldview for the compassion that was supposed to be a hallmark of his faith.
    Perry – George W. Bush, part deux. In addition, throw in most of Santorum’s flaws.
    Bachmann – Some say about the Stig that “he knows only two facts about ducks, and both of them are wrong”. Replace “ducks” with “anything” and you have Bachmann. In addition, throw in most of Santorum’s flaws.

    So basically there’s Huntsman, who might be something. And Romney, who isn’t anything in particular. And Paul, who’s the wrong prescription. But he’s not as dangerous as Gingrich. And he, in turn, is not as evil as the field.

  51. My first reaction to the current crop of candidates is complete disgust.

    I feel like I’m watching a rerun of the Harry Reid/Sharron Angle Senate election. Reid was a guy seriously disliked and polling poorly. Not only was he eminently beatable, but the common wisdom was that he was toast. Instead, a fringe faction of the Republicans nominated a complete crackpot in Angle. The GOP should have won Nevada… easily! But due to either extremist ideological fervor in the Tea Party, or else criminal mismanagement in the Nevada GOP machine, they pissed away an almost certain thing. Same deal with the Delaware senate race with O’Donnell/Coons.

    So to circle back to the national level, it’s the same thing. You have ideological extremists in Santorum, Bachmann, to a only slightly lesser degree but in a different direction, Ron Paul. You have generally unlikeable unprincipled power hungry guys in Romney, Gingrich and again, to a lesser degree, Perry. Huntsman and Johnson, while perhaps more reasonable, aren’t enough of a blip on the radar screen to matter. The inability of the GOP to field a reasonable candidate again speaks to a complete mismanagement of political strategy. Hell, you could point to the Boehner led Congress for even more evidence of this.

    Personally, I was really pulling for Mitch Daniels. Unlike some of my more inflexible brethren, I *liked* his comment about ‘declaring a truce on social issues’ to focus on the economy. Plus, you have to respect anyone who decides not to run to avoid putting his family through the meat grinder. I also suspect that Daniels would even have had some appeal to even some moderate Democrats. Oh well.

    Given that I’m in PA, my primary vote is meaningless, so I may do a write-in ‘none of the above are acceptable.’ I may hold my nose and pick someone, probably Gingrich, because as flawed as he is, he’s at least got a good grasp of policy. Personally, though, I feel like I’m pissing in the wind regardless of who I vote for, because I’d bet a decent amount of money that Obama gets reelected no matter which of the current crop of Republicans gets the final nomination.

    And just like with Harry Reid in Nevada, Obama’s on the ropes and defeatable. It’s just that the Republicans will once again prove to be their own worst enemy.

  52. I am probably more Libertarian, but that said, usually find myself voting against the incumbents. Don’t like Obama at all, but the other choices are just sad. Will likely vote for the random Lib candidates. Wish John Scalzi, Travis Taylor, or John Ringo were on the ballot.

  53. I’ve been a Republican/neo-conservative for as long as I can remember. Don’t really care about the social issues too much, with the exception of being concerned the culture of divorce in our society is not going to be beneficial to family stability in the long term. That aside, I tend to focus more on foreign-policy and economic issues. I am slightly disappointed in this batch of Republican nominees as it is filled with weak candidates and perennial runners (I’m looking at you, Mitt Romney). Several candidates I would have gladly supported decided not to run (Christie, Daniels) or don’t have enough national political experience under their belt to be taken seriously (Rubio, Paul Ryan).

    Here’s my take on the current/failed candidates:

    Romney: Good manager, would trust him not to totally lose his head in a crisis. Can’t trust him to not pander shamelessly for votes and/or once in office, shamelessly allow himself to get rolled by the Democrats in pursuit of a legacy. One should note that George W allowed himself to get rolled on Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind in support of both goals. Only way to block this would make sure the House and Senate are Republican and more conservative in fiscal matters.

    Cain: Nice guy, never took him seriously as he didn’t have any political experience whatsoever aside from a couple failed campaigns (not sure when? Senate race?). Lightweight on foreign policy, which would be ok if he managed to pick a good SecDef, SecState and had a VP with foreign policy experience.

    Bachmann: Zany robotic repetitious religious nut with bug out eyes. ‘Nouf said there.

    Huntsman: What ruled him out for me is the fact that despite his conservative record and executive experience, he chose to hop on board the Obama bus and be his Ambassador to China. That and his loud and early proclamations in support of “global warming”.

    Ron Paul: Batshit insane; the world economy is never going to go back on the gold standard and his isolationist impulses are scary. Grudging respect for an incorruptible politician who refuses to take a Congressional gold-plated pension.

    Gingrich: Smart guy, loads of personal baggage. Extremely good debater who would make Obama look like a fool with good speechwriters and a teleprompter. Like others have said, has the tendency to spout off ideas at the top of his head, which is good for brainstorming and strategy sessions, not so much in front of a microphone.

    Santorum: Who?

    Perry: Some of my friends who live in Texas don’t think too much of the guy, but he was my first choice before his failure to remember which federal agencies he’d downsize (Ethical disclose: I work for a law enforcement federal agency and I think there is plenty of bloat across the board) and his general verbal stumbling. Lots of executive experience, which I like, but hasn’t shown the ability to debate skillfully or present conservative ideas coherently.

    All things considered, if Romney were the nominee, I would hold my nose and vote for him like I did with McCain and Dole and hope like hell there were enough conservative Republicans in the House and Senate to shoot down any wacky ideas.

    Cheers!

  54. Okay, well, as a little bit of background, I consider myself a libertarian Republican. I generally don’t like the government in my business at all – and I don’t generally want to get in anyone else’s business, though in fairness, twas not ever thus, and I voted for George Bush in 2000/2004. Worked for the campaigns, in fact.

    I was a huge Ron Paul fan in 2008, but became less of one the more moderate my libertarianism became (without student aid, which Ron Paul eventually wants to get rid of, I’d have never gone to college, so I don’t mind paying taxes so kids nowadays can have it). I still despise the FED, so I haven’t lost all my Ron Paul love.

    For the 2012 race, I really liked Huntsman – mostly for his statement that the GOP isn’t going anywhere in the next generation if they don’t embrace science (evolution and climate change – the former which I accept due to study, the latter which I trust scientists who are smarter than I am… but I still don’t think it’s worth blowing billions on to fix). I also liked that he was willing to go serve President Obama when asked because it was service to the country. That’s patriotism, right there. And Ambassador to China? What man knows better about how to deal with our trade policy?

    Then I decided Huntsman was on incredibly shaky ground after he came forward and said that he just loved the Defense of Marriage Act (which I find to be a disgusting bit of legislation, meant to keep gay Americans from full marriage equality as long as it’s on the books – thank you, Clinton). Most of the Republican candidates defend DOMA nowadays (it goes contrary to conservative values, but there’s no need to get into that).

    The only choice that feels -reasonable- now is Gary Johnson, the former governor from New Mexico, who made his debut in the first couple of debates, but that we haven’t seen since then (despite Huntsman and Santorum having equally low polling numbers). He cut the 10% annual growth of the budget, and expanded the use of the veto to cut off spending so much he set a national record for its use (more than the other 49 governors combined!). He came out for marijuana decriminalization (not my thing, but hey – doesn’t hurt me, and I don’t like seeing kids going to jail for smoking a joint in college), against the Defense of Marriage Act, and against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which is especially important for me as an Army vet who always thought that law was really dumb (again, thanks Clinton). I saw a lot of good men lose their livelihood because XOs and COs couldn’t deal with the fact that they had boyfriends at home.

    But then again, if the ultimate goal is to remove Obama from the White House (pretty much), then I would consider voting for Huntsman (first choice), Ron Paul (second), or mayyyybe Romney (last resort. He and Obama are basically the same candidate, but Romney rides with the tide, and so he’ll be more conservative than he used to be). I don’t love either man on their position on gay rights, but in the end, I think SCOTUS will decide DOMA, not the president, so I’m not terribly worried.

    I will vote for a ham sandwich before I vote for Gingrich, Santorum, or Bachmann.

    Ham. Sandwich.

  55. As a small/self employed business owner I just cannot in good conscience vote Democrat any longer. (This coming from someone who voted for Clinton twice!). However, I must admit that I’m seriously underwhelmed by the current crop of candidates. I may not particularly care for the Rep. candidate, but cannot stomach the thought of four more years of Obama and will in all likelihood vote Rep. in the Fall.

  56. I have to add this, because I see it mentioned up there: Ron Paul is not an isolationist. He is a non-interventionist. There is a very real difference.

    He loves trade. Trade’s amazing. What he DOESN’T like is when the government decides the business of the world is always OUR business. There’s a war with Iran coming if we don’t get our big nose out of their business pretty soon. They’re already planning war games that’ll shut down the Strait of Hormuz if Israel (read: with the US’ backing) attacks Iran’s nuclear facilities. Hope you filled up, because most of the oil in the world goes right through that Strait.

    So great, we get out of war with Iraq (not Afghanistan yet, though we’ve been there longer), and we go right into another one? That level of hawkishness needs to die. The whole world does not have to be a democracy. It is not our job to enforce our values on the world.

    (See? Libertarian Republicans are not typical Republicans, lol).

  57. Gag me. 2008 McCain was NOT a moderate. He was trying to appeal to the base more than anyone but the stone cold crazies like Huckabee. Year 2000 John McCain? THAT was a moderate.

    Romney has cross-appeal to independents precisely BECAUSE he is so flip-floppy. They’re uncertain if he’s really going to enforce the straight GOP talking points he’s spouting now…. so am I, but that’s a different story.

    Romney has the best shot at beating the president. I hate it, but it’s true. Real Clear Politics puts a Romney/Obama race within the margin of error – not so for Gingrich, or Perry, or Bachmann, or Paul, or ANYBODY.

    [Okay, I'm done for a while. Sorry.]

  58. Like many others who’ve posted, I consider myself a fiscal conservative/social liberal. I’m a registered Libertarian, but not a member of the LP. I voted for Obama in 2008, but won’t be doing so again. I have no clue who is even running for the Libertarian Party nomination, but as usual, they don’t have a chance

    I’m also very unhappy with the Republican candidates at this point. The further we go in this process, the worse things seem to get. Some thoughts:

    Gary Johnson: Like him, but he never had a shot.
    Ron Paul: Sympathetic to his hard core libertarian philosophy, but find it unrealistic. Unless you want to do a Heinlein style fresh start with your libertarian state in space, it isn’t going to happen.
    Mitt Romney: I actually like him, but he’s a definite flip-flopper. A big win here on personal integrity though.
    Huntsman: Never really heard much about him.
    Bachman: Total nut job.
    Santorum: Never liked him.
    Perry: Too far right wing religious for me. His latest gay-bashing ad is ridiculous.
    Gingrich: Thought his campaign was over back in June, and still shocked he is somehow the front runner. He can be brilliant when he isn’t running off the rails entirely. I suspect he would eat President Obama alive in a real debate.

    Is it too late for Paul Ryan to jump in? VP?

    .

  59. Socially a Libertarian, Financially a Conservative. Looking for someone who can effectively lead and govern. This means being able to work with and influence a broad enough spectrum of Congress to make things happen. Not an ideologue.

    Would have been happy with Christie, but of course he isn’t running.

    Current favorite is Huntsman, but he hasn’t been able to assemble much of a campaign. If you can’t assemble and lead a campaign, how do you expect to run a country? He is a bit liberal for my taste. Then again, anyone who kicks off a Presidential campaign with a video of him riding his dirt bike through the Utah desert gets extra bonus points. If he rode a KTM instead of a Honda, he would be a shoo-in.

    My next choice would reluctantly be Romney. He actually would seem to be the most capable and experienced by far, but his only – and I mean only – core principle is “Elect Romney”. Too Big Government for my taste.

    GIngrich is an intellectual Romney with much more baggage and far less scruples. Way too Big Government.

    I had hopes for Perry early on, but he turned into an inarticulate train wreck. He also seems to have turned hard right in a failing attempt to salvage his campaign.

    Bachman: too far right.Too socially conservative. Crazy ideas.

    All better than the incumbent. Bachman just barely.

  60. Really? Over three hundred million people in the country, about half of which are Republicans, and this is the best we can come up with? All I am asking for is a one in a million person. There should be three hundred of them. Where are they?
    We are doing something wrong and we really need to figure out what it is.

  61. I’m a Republican, but I can’t see myself voting for any of the potential candidates this year. The GOP has pretty much been a trainwreck since Palin was taken on as a VP candidate in 2008. At least that’s my opinion. Michigan always goes blue, so my presidential vote means little — but even still, I can’t say mine will be a red vote this time…

  62. I’m generally a tad to the right of center, which makes me a Pinko-commie-leftist-elite according to the modern American Republican Party. This year I’ll be caucusing with Republicans long after the nominee is picked when the primary process finally makes it to Kansas.

    I find this cast of charactors so dispicable that I’m garanteed not to vot for most of them. If Buddy Roemer is still running by the point I can vote, he’s got my vote. If not, there is a good chance he’s got my vote as a 3rd party candidate this year. He is the only talking about reducing corruption in politics, and that is the central political issue of our generation. If Buddy has dropped out I may consider Ron Paul who favors a more corrupt society with a slightly less corrupt government. If he isn’t availible I’ll go with whichever candidate seems least likely to win the General Election. I would love to see 2 candidates running (say Obama and Bachman) that are pretty unappealing to the electorate as this is most likely to result in either the rise of a 3rd party or some form of election reform which is what it will take to bring the Republican party back in line with Reality / Morality / Productivity.

    My lifelong dream is to see a Republican president that cares more about America than some Special Interest Business or another. A Democrat with a similar belief that people are more important than business would be almost as good. Right now I’m inclined to think I won’t live to see such a day.

  63. Everyone knows the GOP candidates suck. The question is: why? There are some strong names out there: Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, and a handful of other governors all come to mind. Why didn’t they run? Hell: think about all the speculation around Sarah Palin. Where did they all go?

    They each have some reasons, privately, but I think what it really comes down to is that he GOP establishment made its mind up a long time ago: Romney is their man. So who threw their hat into the ring? Losers and outsiders.

    Bachman and Cain weren’t even valid contenders. Bachman’s vote against raising the debt ceiling makes her unqualified. Cain’s inability to handle even rudimentary basics of politics–not to mention his incompetent failure to prepare his campaign for the sex scandals headed his way–indicate he wasn’t even seriously running. Ron Paul is also in the list of disqualified candidates. I really admire his principles and commitment, but his views are so radical that even if he won he couldn’t possibly govern.

    Newt, Santorum and Perry aren’t unambiguously disqualified in my mind, but they are all third-stringers. Huntsman is just clearly not tied into the GOP machine. He’s got a personal fortune and some political contacts (he was governor after all), but as much as I think he’s a good candidate he doesn’t really have a prayer.

    The GOP lined up behind Romney starting in 2008 when the economy tanked and everyone realized that McCain was in over his head. He paid his dues just like Reagan and others have done before him (getting pwned before being nominated). I know he’s not exciting–and his strategic positions changes are too transparent even though they aren’t actually any more frequent than any other politician’s–but I agree with the National Review’s endorsement of him in 2008 and the more recent defense David Brooks has offered for him. I understand why people don’t like the man–I really do–but I continue to support him for the same reason that I did in 2008. He’s the only candidate (then or now) to talk seriously about the nuts and bolts of substantive reform to government. All the other stuff–like his support for corn ethanol subsidies or flip-flopping on social issues–is just window dressing that’s necessary because Americans treat the presidential race like American Idol.

    We’ll see the GOP bring their A-game to the 2016 race (if Obama goes 2-terms) or the 2020 race (if Obama loses in 2012 to Romney).

  64. I’m pretty strongly conservative in my personal views; within a larger framework I fall into the libertarian–anarcho-capitalist camp, which makes me a Ron Paul fan.
    That said, I think at this point the only two serious contenders are Gingrich and Romney. I never liked Romney, going back to ’08; for obvious reasons I doubt the sincerity of any of his “convictions”. There are lots of things to like about Newt, his personal baggage notwithstanding. However, his comments about the Palestinians being an invented people.
    I have very little sympathy for the Palestinians, but if you’re not willing to accept a two-state solution (which is what his comments suggest), you’re either
    a) being disingenuous, or
    b) not willing to address the issue seriously.
    Incidentally, I actually don’t see Obama as a real dyed-in-the-wool liberal, and get irritated when I hear people calling him a Socialist (Keynesian? Yes. So what Bush, albeit to a lesser degree). Had Obama made a truly moderate move (e.g. endorsing the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction plan) I might could bring myself to vote for him. The individual mandate on health insurance doesn’t bother me as much as it does others, considering that hospitals have an unfunded mandate to provide health care to the uninsured with EMTALA et al (this is something Obama actually broached in his Superbowl face-to-face with Bill O’Reilly.) As things stand, however, he’s still too Big Govt./Left Field for me; depending on where I’m living after July, I’ll either (gingerly and reluctantly) vote Republican if I’m in Ohio or Virginia, Libertarian if I’m in a safe state.

  65. Yet Another Financial Conservative/Social Liberal Small L libertarian, here, and being a Hoosier, I had SO hoped for Mitch Daniels to run, but alas.

    The rest of the pack, eh. It’s like the Bush/Kerry election all over again — Bush was so despised at that point, he should’ve been a cinch to beat, but no, the Democrats nominated Kerry and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Looks like the Republicans are shaping up for a copycat performance.

  66. A Goldwater-style conservative old enough to have voted for Barry in 1964 after I finished four years in the military.

    Which of the current Republican candidates do I prefer? None of the above. A herd of loons pursuing a couple of mediocrities (no, Newt is not a great intellect; he just sounds like one to people who aren’t great intellects either) is not an appealing field of candidates.

  67. Dear John, I don’t usually post and certainly not on political issues, but I did read this one to see how the commenting went. Seemed good and civil to me, very interesting, with a little bit of voice from you. Would you consider, on these “I’m interested in what you think” threads, doing a follow up post on whether or not (or what) you got out of the conversation? Persuaded of something? Change your mind? I realized I always feel a little left hanging…you are a smart guy, which is why I read your blog and no others, and I’m always interested on the blog’s impact or impression on you. Just my $.02. I assume this will be deleted for being off topic but wasn’t sure how to leave a general comment. Happy holidays, Michele

  68. I’m waiting for the ‘top’ candidates to eat each other and hoping maybe the GOP will turn to Huntsman. Unfortunately the GOP is waiting for the top candidates to eat each other so they can draft Palin.

    Emigrating to New Zealand sounds better all the time…

  69. I’ll admit to being as dissatisfied with the current crop of Republicans in the race as the many who’ve already posted here. These are mostly second string candidates (excluding Romney and Gingrich who are disliked by much of the party) who made the decision to run I think probably to enhance their name recognition. At the time the candidates jumped in, I think that calculation was based on the money required to run a successful campaign. No one was going to be able to compete with Obama in terms of raising money.

    But things have gotten worse for Obama. His healthcare plan is less popular, the economy is still performing sluggishly, and he is less popular. I’m guessing some the first string candidates are probably regretting their decision not to jump into the race. But the race is what the race is.

    The Gingrich bump as the current non Romney is sure to be temporary. Gingrich is a great debater and when it comes to entertainment, he brings it. You could probably actually sell tickets to an Obama/Gingrich debate, but there isn’t going to be one. Gingrich isn’t getting the nomination. He’ll implode long before then. He can’t help it, he has too many skeletons and he won’t be able to stay disciplined over his big yap for the long haul.

    Although to me, none of the candidates are likable, I usually don’t care about that anyway. But probably the best qualified in the race (not counting Gingrich) is Huntsman, who as part of his inscrutable campaign strategy decided to be as unlikable as possible by attacking conservatives and went out of his way to denigrate and insult them as “morons” I guess he was going for the New York Times vote. So no surprise he has stayed in the 1 to 2% range. As far as campaign strategies go, it rivals Guliani’s decision to avoid campaigning until the Florida primary. After Gingrich falls from grace, there is an opportunity for Huntsman to be the next non Romney. He actually is legitimately more conservative, and more consistent, than Romney. But that would require a change in campaign tactics. Right now he is following a modified Guliani strategy by holding his powder for New Hampshire. Although he gets plenty of media praise for being highly intelligent, one aspect of intelligence is being able to learn from mistakes. So after the Gingrich fall there will be a window of opportunity for him. Let’s see if he can take it and stop insulting the people he wants votes from. Then maybe a second stringer might pull up to the head of the pack.

    It’s possible. Clinton was a second string candidate too…

  70. I still have a suspicion that the decision not to campaign against Obama was probably the right one for a lot of potential candidates. The reality is the economy isn’t going to recover inside of the next 4-5 years, regardless of what policies you try – and, based on what we’re seeing in the UK, even less chance with hardline austerity. Based on what I’m seeing from the Talking Heads, Healthcare reform is starting to get popular as the main changes start to impact, so that’s a hard one to hit Obama with, and there’s not a lot to be said against his foreign policy.

    Coming in as president in 2012, with, in all probability another 5+ years of poor growth, p’d off people and all the rest isn’t going to be a good thing for re-election in 2016. If you’re young and thinking strategically and NOT Mitt Romney then holding off on the probability that Obama will pull off a Bush II re-election (i.e. I didn’t meet many people who voted for him…) is a sensible course.

  71. Ugh… sorry… pressed send too soon.

    I was going to finish by saying, that I wouldn’t want to go up against an incumbent, even with 9%+ unemployment who had approvals in the mid-40s but $1BN in the bank for the campaign.

    That probably says more about the need for campaign reform than the strength of a particular candidate though.

  72. [Deleted because it's a hyperbolic complaint that's not really on point. Anonymouser, if you are a Republican/conservative and not just here to gripe about Gingrich, you may repost if you can be a little more focused on the topic at hand. Thanks -- JS]

  73. Jon Huntsman is the closest to my political stripe, but he has zero chance of getting the nomination with the blue-blood republicans leading the party.

  74. I have some social leanings that keep me out of the conservative tent, but for the most part, at least the last 12 years or so, I’ve found that I may disagree with one candidate on some things, if I agree with him on more I’ll vote for him. Am I getting everything I want? No, but in this day and age I’ll gladly take 60% of a Republican over 20% of a Democrat, or vice versa.

    This year, unless the Republican campaigns goes completely off the rails and somehow someone like Bachman or Paul gets the nomination, I’ll vote for the Republican candidate.

    That said, I think at the end of the day whomever is President isn;t my biggest worry, it’s what the Congress will look like that really bothers me.

    Andrew

  75. I am from Utah. I would say that I am a conservative from Utah but that would be redundant. Even our openly gay Democrats are conservative. I am a registered republican but probably identify more with Libertarian ideas.

    That aside I was impressed with John Huntsman Jr. when he was our Governor. He is a businessman concerned with people and the environment. He has executive experience. He has foreign experience as ambassador to China. I believe he is a very moral person. I don’t get the idea that he is an overly religious person.

    I would vote for Mitt Romney as well. I believe that I might be related to him a few generations back so that may be nepotism. I believe that he is qualified, but have been disappointed that he has changed what I believe are his real feelings to seem more acceptable in the Republican primary.

    Newt? I don’t think he can attract a swing vote.

    Ron Paul is persistent if nothing else. Many of his ideas resonate with me. I would not want him as President because I don’t think he would be able to compromise.

    The rest? I roll my eyes.

  76. I’m a conservative leaning libertarian, who either usually votes libertarian or republican – rarely democrat.
    I liked Cain. He felt like an outsider who really wanted to bring his business knowledge to the job. He is gone now and I think the rest of the candidates are political insiders and jokes. I’m really disappointed in what the GOP has to offer. Newt is no more electable than Nancy Pelosi.

    I’m hoping another outsider see the lack of quality in this group and jumps in.

  77. I’ve said before, for me Gary Johnson is the one candidate I think I could be happy with. I know, he has no shot at the nomination (and in fact, there’s talk of him changing parties.) I don’t know enough about Hunstman, and Ron Paul is (a) too old (b) too socially conservative and (c) too focused on fringe ideas right now (gold standard, ending the Fed). I do find Ron very amusing though, because he is giving other candidates fits. And I do agree with him on many issues, but I think he’s just not an electable candidate.
    None of the other main Republican candidates appeal to me in the slightest.

    I’d love to know why Gary has gotten so little mention by the media. He seems to be a younger Ron Paul with executive experience (2 terms as a governor), no craziness, and highly likely to have crossover appeal in the general election.
    If he does actually register Libertarian and wins their nomination process, I could vote for him with a mostly clear conscience. Back in 2008, the LP candidate sucked.

  78. I think every single front-runner-of-the-week so far has been varying levels of horrible. Out of the current top contenders, only Ron Paul seems to actually care about the country rather than his own ratings. So he would get my vote.

    I was watching John Huntsman for a while, but he seems to have slid off the radar completely. A shame.

    My second choice would be Mitt Romney, since he seems like the least crazy out of the remaining candidates. By that I mean I haven’t heard anything come out of his mouth that immediately makes me wish I had reconsidered labeling myself a conservative.

    Of course, I just learned that Newt Gringrich wants to build Moon mines, so maybe he’s just the kind of crazy this country needs.

  79. [Deleted because while interesting it is wildly off topic. Folks, remember for this thread we're focused on the current crop of candidates. Thanks -- JS]

  80. I can’t say that I am as upset at the field of candidates this year as most others. I probably have lower expectations of todays politician. Sure, I wish that one of them was a true fiscal conservative that had my libertarian views on social issues. But anyone, and I do mean anyone, would be better than what we have. And that is a pertinent criticism because it makes me sure that in spite of the compromises I will make in my vote in 2012, a vote for the GOP candidate will not include voting for someone who will make our country worse instead of better.
    With that in mind, I am down to choosing which of the people in the race is the best candidate. And I’m not sure what I can say about each person that hasn’t already been said. I do agree with a statement that someone made earlier questioning that these are the best we can come up with. But I think this goes for both sides of the aisle. The people choosing politics as a career now are not our best and brightest.
    And that is not good for the rest of us.

  81. As someone who’s voted for conservative candidates in the past, I can’t believe this is what we have to work with this year. Just because a voter’s conservative doesn’t mean we have to lower ourselves to this level.

    Bachmann would actually do harm to the world as president. I do not consider this an exaggeration. I’d rather elect the guy at the bus terminal who argues with the statues in the fountain.

    Santorum is so deep in denial about his own homosexuality that he’s practically an SNL skit. And frankly, no homophobic candidate is going to get my vote, ever. Which brings us to …

    Perry. Has there ever been a candidate dumber than this guy? And I’m including GWB in that. The man’s a haircut positioned above a vacuum.

    Huntsman was reasonable until he decided that pandering to the rabid religious right by pretending not to believe in evolution after all was a wise choice. Now he’s just Romney in sheep’s clothing.

    Johnson basically doesn’t exist, so why bother?

    Paul is a freaking nutjob. He’s the right’s Nader — not a serious candidate at all, and far too ideologically strict, although at least he isn’t part of the mindless groupthink of the modern GOP. Shame his son’s such a tool, though.

    Romney has never met a principle he wouldn’t reverse his position on if he thought it would get him elected. I have no idea what he really believes, and that’s dangerous as hell. Plus, being from Massachusetts, I remember how readily he sold us out halfway through his term as governor and decided it would be fun to tour the south bitching about how terrible Massachusetts is. That kind of crap doesn’t get rewarded with my vote.

    Gingrich is soulless and vile, both personally and professionally, and his temper makes McCain look like Leo Buscaglia. I don’t want that man anywhere near the nuclear football, ever. Also, he’s 68 and fat. We see with every president the toll the office takes, and everyone was worried that McCain would croak and leave the country to (shudder) Palin. People aren’t worried that Newt would go belly-up within six months? Because I’m pretty sure he would. Also, the man is just smart enough to trick stupid people into thinking he’s smart. But he’s not actually smart. And he shut down the government over his seat on a plane. AND HE WAS RUN OUT OF TOWN ON A RAIL last time, when things were going reasonably well in the country before Bush and his not-actually-conservative crew wrecked the place (something, incidentally, that Newt greased the wheels for). So why does anyone take him seriously as a candidate? Is it just because he’s the latest Not Romney?

    You know who’s kicking his own ass right now about all of this? Tim Pawlenty. I bet a lot of people would be going for him now if he hadn’t chickened out after that one state fair straw poll said the corndog-munchers didn’t like him. But he’s out, and he can’t get back in.

    Frankly, I’m voting for Obama unless a real conservative of substance is available. Obama’s right of center and not insane or bag-of-hammers dumb, and after four years we at least have a read on him.

    Now if we just had some kind of viable alternative to McConnell and Boehner and the assorted teabagging looptydos who are determined to paralyze the country on ideological grounds rather than compromise one whit with the president. Essentially, I want people from both parties who can actually get along with the other party, and the Republicans of today just aren’t doing it. Because, conservative or no, stagnating the country through intransigence isn’t governance; it’s juvenile gamesmanship.

  82. On the other hand, thinking it over a little more, maybe voting for Bachmann in the primary seems fun, because while no way she gets elected, at least the election would be good cabaret, plus it would put a pretty serious bullet in the head of the teabagger maniacs AND force a reset of some sort in the Republican party, maybe in the direction of finding some reasonable, non-crazy, non-country-destroying real conservatives. I mean, come on — who doesn’t want to see that nutbar in a presidential debate against Obama? She’d make Palin look like a reasonable, deliberative deep thinker by comparison.

  83. [Deleted because it's responding to the off-topic deleted post above. Sorry, guys, but this is not the thread for it -- JS]

  84. I’m a libertarian leaning Republican, who’s personally socially conservative but (libertarianism again) isn’t particularly strongly concerned with a candidate’s social conservatism. That said, here’s where I am now:

    Gingrich – Probably my current choice out of of the field available. He’s a shameless political opportunist, but (a) he appears to be basically competent and (b) he did help shrink (or at least slow the growth of) the Federal government the last time he was in office. Given that my hot-button issue is spending, that’s good enough for me.

    Huntsman – In theory, I should like Huntsman – his tax plan is exactly the sort of thing I’m looking for. In practice, I’m disturbed by his lack of expertise on China, given that he keeps citing his Ambassadorship as relevant experience. The Colbert report “Mandarin incident” doesn’t bother me as much as his statement in the August 2011 debate that he would “absolutely” consider “cyber attacks as acts of war” – I’d really prefer a candidate able to address the issue with a little more nuance. Right now, I’d probably put him second to Newt.

    Perry – I was considering him primarily due to the economic performance of Texas, but the debate blunders have put me off of him. The “Strong” ad has also been a nail in the coffin – at the very least, it was an idiotic move to run that ad, and he didn’t even have the excuse of being under pressure on live television.

    Romney – As opportunistic as Newt, but without Newt’s basic commitment to smaller government. Spending is my primary issue, and I have no belief that Romney will do anything about it.

    Johnson – I like his domestic policies, I dislike his isolationism.

    Paul – See Johnson.

    Now, all of those pass the “syphilitic camel rule” – they may not be my favorite, but I’d vote for them over President Obama. Bachman and Cain both fail that rule, because I’m convinced – as a Republican – that putting them in office would be worse than a second term for Obama. Bachman’s anti-vaccine pandering and “close the Iranian embassy” comments, along with Cain’s ignorance of the Palestinian “right of return” debate, have convinced me that those two are either too stupid or too ignorant to be trusted in the Oval office.

  85. I don’t like to identify with a party, but I’m a conservative libertarian, so I have moved to voting almost exclusively Republican in the last decade or two. I can’t say any of the current crop of candidates inspire me. All of the candidates flaws are exposed on 24 hour news channels and the internet. videos of the different positions they have taken are routinely shown. The Republicans should have learned from the Obama election, and run a charismatic, relatively unknown candidate. Alas, there is no time for that option now.

    Realistically,Newt and Romney are about the only choices now. Both are true politicians, i.e. slimy. It is a tie for me policy wise, but Newt is really a quite intelligent man. Unfortunately he thinks he is even for intelligent than he actually is, but I would still hold my nose and vote for him over Romney if no other viable candidates pop up.

  86. I’ve wondered for years why we don’t really have a separate socially libertarian yet fiscally conservative/small government political party, and comments on this thread just make me wonder that all over again.

    I just wanted to say that I really appreciate how many people have taken the time to write out their thoughts on this thread. What with the baby and all I haven’t really had time to follow the debates, etc, and I feel like I have much better insight on things having read the above. So thanks, everyone, and thanks, John, for providing the forum.

  87. Thank you John for posting the question. I’m learning alot from everyone. I’m a conservative republican and right now, unhappy with the whole field. I’m waiting to see who will be left just before the primary, then spend my time getting to know them better. Too fluid right now and I frankly can’t stand listening to any of them. Sad really. Hoping someone comes out of the woodwork.

  88. I’m going to leave Anne’s comment because of its complementary nature to the folks on the thread, but a reminder that this thread is meant for Republicans/conservatives to discuss their thoughts about the current GOP field. Thanks!

  89. I refuse to vote for someone whose stated policies I vehemently disagree with. That pretty much rules out Gingrich, Perry, Bachmann, Romney, and Santorum. I wouldn’t rule out voting for Paul, but that would be unlikely.
    My feeling about voting is that you are picking someone to act as your agent for 4 years. I don’t want to hear about how some candidates are much more likely to win the primary, or the election next year, that doesn’t matter to me one bit. What matters is their views. I support gay rights and gay marriage, legalizing marijuana, keeping aborting legal, bringing our troops home from most other countries, and not picking fights with Iran (or any other country for that matter). Very few candidates agree with those points.
    And also – would Gingrich or Romney really try to eliminate all of the federal agencies that Paul would? Probably not.

  90. abortion, not “aborting” of course. I also support openly gay troops. DADT shouldn’t be brought back.
    This economy is lousy and most candidates are worried about social issues? Feh.

  91. I guess you can call me a “Bleeding Heart Libertarian” Give me my guns, let me marry a man (although i have been married to a wonderful women for 20 plus years), stay out of my wallet, don’t care about religion, teach science in the schools, support public education, squishy on the national healthcare debate (family health issues have changed me on this), let me smoke pot, say the pledge everyday in school, but no praying, we can burn the American Flag, uphold the immigration rules we got and would like to see a balanced budget amendment and support a flat tax system.

    I voted Bob Barr last time around. (Or should I say my daughter did since she pushed all the buttons. Oh’ probably shouldn’t have mentioned that.)

    Newt is a a piece of garbage. He left his wife when she was practically on her death bed. Cheated on his second wife. That make him a bad man. The whole thing with Freddie MAc etc just stinks. Come on Newt, own up to the fact you were a lobbyist. If you stopped B**ls**ting us we might like you more.

    Mitt – Meh. I’ll take a Mormon over these wacko right wing Christian nut jobs like Santorum (Google his name, that’s AWESOME!!) and Bachman. He has some business sense and in the end may get my vote.

    Huntsman – If he were there I would vote for him. But I am still lukewarm on him.

    Johnson — That’s the man right there. If he is still in the race when it comes time in Colorado I will vote for him. I don’t get why the middle doesn’t get on board with him. He is a man that I truly believe speaks for the majority of americans. He did really good things in NM and when he was in the House.

    For me this really come down to who is really willing to speak truth to the masses. Chances are no one. We have big issues and we need to make sacrifices. Everyone does and until they start speaking the truth I will continue to look for options.

    Thank John.

  92. I’m pretty unmoved. I’d prefer to have a former governor on the ticket – Romney, Huntsman or Perry fit the bill. But Gingrich has great ideas and I’m intrigued by someone who actually is thinking and knows what the background and history are to many of the key issues of the day. Whenever Ohio has its primary, I’ll figure it out then.

  93. romney- liberal RINO, won’t vote for him.
    bachmann- please stop calling yourself the ‘tea party’ candidate. we will decide who our candidate is. that’s the thing about this grassroots movement, we formed out of distaste for the establishment telling telling us they were like us. also, the 9-9-9/666 devil in the details ‘joke’ made you look like a fool. won’t vote for her.
    perry- hasn’t apologized for backing gore. won’t vote for him.
    huntsman- doesn’t have a chance, so i haven’t wasted time learning about him. what little i know about him suggests that i would vote for him if i knew more about him.
    santorum- same as huntsman.
    johnson- wait…who?
    paul- we agree about the fed and the war on drugs. we disagree about everything else, and i hate his rabid followers. won’t vote for him, though i’d love to see him appointed as fed chair!
    gingrich- still haven’t forgiven him for lousing up the contract with america when i was in middle/high school. too wishy-washy. too belt-way insider. won’t vote for him.
    cain- i will vote for him if i have to write him in. this goes for the primary and the general election.

  94. I identify strongly with Libertarian views, and don’t vote along party lines.

    Michele Bachman/Rick Perry: Way too crazy into religion. I don’t want another Jimmy Carter or Harry Truman stirring up even more trouble in the middle east.

    Newt Gingrich: guy is a rhetoric machine. He would do nothing in the President’s chair besides make a huge mess of foreign policy.

    Mitt Romney: Passable i suppose, but leans more left than a Texas democrat. I feel like Obama is more thoughtful and articulate about his methods so of those two i vote Obama.

    Ron Paul: Great Candidate, but his monetary policy would instantly put us into depression/inflation loop.

  95. Thanks for providing this forum John. I’ve been following The Whatever for a long time and generally don’t jump into this sort of conversation, but I’m in the right mood to vent right now so what the heck?

    I’m a registered Republican in the state of Florida, meaning my vote has a fair amount of sway in both the primary and the general. Perhaps especially so since my absentee vote belongs to the all-important I-4 corridor. Though a registered R, I’m actually more of an independent swing-voter. My last three Presidentials were Bush, Bush, Obama because Sarah Palin scared the living bejeesus out of me. Politically I describe myself as a “Realistic Progressive Libertarian.” Realistic because I understand that there are certain obligations the United States has, both domestic and foreign, which we must meet; realistically, we cannot change our current path drastically, only by degrees. Progressive because I believe that limited government should favor the lower and middle classes – having been a member of both my entire life that may be self-interest, but I justify it with, you know, the science of economics. And Libertarian because I do believe that a smaller government would generally be in our favor. That being said, I also do believe very strongly that government exists for a reason – to regulate public goods and correct externalities.

    Which brings us to the current crop of Republican candidates. Let’s go through the clear losers first, shall we? Hermain Cain – I only think it’s a shame he dropped out because I enjoyed Jon Stewart skewering him on the Daily Show. His meteoric rise appalled me, as it clearly demonstrated that “likely voters” don’t use reason at all. His 9-9-9 plan was TERRIBLE for anyone not in the middle class, and it was the ONLY plank in his party, yet people loved him. Well, no one ever said the voting public is rational. I find both Bachmann and Santorum repellant for their social policies, and generally disagree with them fiscally as well. Michelle surprised me a couple of times with her insight into certain matters, especially about foreign policy, but I could still never bear to vote for her. Rick Perry = Bush without the brains. Just because the Army has me stationed in his state doesn’t mean I support him. Huntsman? Of the remaining candidates, he’s my favorite. Strong track record in business and government, smart, educated, well-traveled, BELIEVES IN SCIENCE. Wait, why isn’t he polling any higher? I guess because of the Mormon thing, and we’ve already got one of those, don’t we? I completely agree that he should be the nominee, but realistically it’s just not gonna happen.

    So we arrive at our top three candidates. As a Libertarian, you would think that I would support Ron Paul. Except he isn’t really a Libertarian. For one thing, he’s socially conservative – against gay marriage and abortion among other factors. He also expressed a disbelief in evolution, calling it a “theory.” Well, technically it is a Theory – except that when politicians dismiss theories as such, they are doing so rhetorically rather than using the scientific definition of the word. They’re ignoring the fact that there are a bunch of other theories out there like, say, Gravity. More importantly, to me at least, is that he follows the Austrian School of economics which EXPRESSLY REJECTS THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD. Admittedly, mainstream economics remains the “dismal science.” But as computing power and statistical methodologies advance year by year, economics becomes progressively less dismal. We’re also constantly expanding our knowledge through economic imperialism and cross-pollination with other social sciences. I firmly believe that the expansion of sub-topics like behavioral and evolutionary economics will vastly expand our understanding of the free market as a whole over the next couple of decades. Well, to sum up all my tangents, I just don’t want to vote for kooky Uncle Ron.

    On to the front-runners…Newt hasn’t really changed since the last time he was in the public spotlight. He’s admittedly very intelligent – I just disagree with most of his conclusions. I also think he’s all about big government, he’s just smart enough to conceal that from the average Tea Party voter (which isn’t saying much). I generally don’t care all that much about politicians’ personal lives, but Newt’s track record is particularly spotty. I don’t care that he can’t keep it in his pants, I care about his hypocrisy in going after Clinton for the same problem. Also, even if I actually bought into his “brilliant conservative” image, I just don’t think he’s charismatic enough to be a good president. Is that really who we want representing the United States to the rest of the world? In my mind he’s the perfect White House Chief of Staff, but not the person I want sitting in the Oval Office. Now Romney is certainly charismatic enough. And God, have you seen that hair?!?! I haven’t had hair like that since I was eighteen! Now, Romney is at least as smart as Newt – it seems like people have forgotten he went through the JD/MBA program at Harvard. He was a very successful businessman, though that success largely consisted of downsizing the labor force. It’s hard to tell where he actually stands socially. Did he drift to the left from his natural Mormon leanings when he was governor of Massachusetts, or is he drifting right from his actual beliefs now that he’s running for the nomination? I don’t care as much about the flip-flopping, I understand that’s the necessary evil of our political system, I just want to know. Regardless, of the three candidates (two really) most likely to get the nod, he’s the one I would be most comfortable with. I still don’t like him though. I think he’ll do or say anything to become President, I disagree with a lot of his platform, and I think he’s a much more fervent Mormon than Huntsman. Generally religious beliefs shouldn’t be that much of a ding against Mormons, but have you seen the South Park episode about them? They didn’t have to make anything up, they just presented what members of the LDS church truly believe. And the thought that we might make one of them President sort of bothers me. So at the end of the day, I don’t like ANY of the current front-runners.

    Why aren’t we talking about Gary Johnson again? An actual Libertarian – socially liberal, fiscally conservative. Created jobs both as a businessman and as a governor. Vetoed more laws than the other 49 governors combined, and yet still managed to pass balanced budgets. Plans to end the “War on Drugs,” which would bring about a massive savings in legal and prison budgets around the nation. Willing to make the hard decisions and downsize the military, which I assure you as an active-duty soldier needs to happen. (Admittedly kooky Uncle Ron says those things too.) Believes in science, to include biology, climatology, astronomy (Kolob – look it up or ask a Mormon), and economics. Reasonable immigration policies, wants to keep the government out of the bedroom. There’s nothing not to like, except the fact that everyone is ignoring him. So there you have it, my 1200 word response which basically boils down to “I’m throwing away my vote.” But in good conscience, he’s the only one I’m can put my name to. Let’s hope he gets the nomination from Americans Elect.

  96. Hmmm…should have edited before I posted. Sentence about Romney uses the word “Mormons” when I meant “politicians.” Oh well, it’s late and I think you’ll catch my drift regardless.

  97. Paul Ryan would be my top pick, but alas, he’s not running this time around. He seems capable of articulating his ideas, and willing to think outside the box for solutions. I like that. I hope he’ll run in 16 or 20.

    Of the current crop, I’m not on fire for anyone. I suppose I’d call myself an anyone-but-Obama person at this point, and I will vote R next November. Newt impresses me in many ways, but I worry about him. At the same time, he’s been in politics for so long, at least you know what you’re getting (4 years ago, we did the whole tabula rasa thing, not a good idea IMHO). Romney makes me want to shower. Ron Paul is brilliant on some things, but ridiculous on others. Perry is an idiot who would be another teleprompter-in-chief, he just does as his handlers tell him and has good hair.

  98. I was raised in a strong Democratic family but was an economics major in college and so landed on libertarian as a political preference. I’m not a fan of either party, as both want to intrude into my life in one manner or another and spend way too much money. They differ in the details but the big picture ends up about the same. In the same vein, I don’t see much difference between the last two presidents. Both spent too much money, spent too much time in unnecessary wars and were appalling on civil liberties.

    Now on to the candidates.

    Huntsman is okay, I guess. I can think of worse candidates certainly. I like Gary Johnson a lot more as one of very few politicians who seems to have some understanding of economics. If he can stay alive, he’s a viable candidate for me. Neither seems destined to make big waves.

    Romney I can’t take seriously because his entire political career seems to be built on telling people what will get him elected. As a result I have no idea what he really believes in and that’s not going to win my vote. Gingrich reminds me of Nixon. Wicked smart and his own worst enemy. The man is a political implosion waiting to happen.

    Perry, Bachman and Santorum are just variants on the same theme. Conservatives who put way too much of their emphasis on religion. I’ll pass.

    That leaves me with Paul, He’s a bit too dogmatic for me at times but his core message of always trying to increase freedom warms my heart. He’s also the most principled GOP candidate, although that’s a pretty easy bar to clear. That so many people in both parties call him crazy works for me too. Going back to my belief that the parties aren’t terribly different, I like a guy heading in a direction neither one wants to go.

  99. [Deleted. This thread isn't for non-Republicans/conservatives to debate those who are. There will be lots of other chances on this site for that, trust me -- JS]

  100. Matthew in Austin, you pretty much nailed my vies on the matter. I am so disgusted with my party and what I think they should represent to watch they are actually representing. So, to quote you/”

    “I can vote for Jon Hunstman or Gary Johnson. I will let Ron Paul or Mitt Romney try to convince me during a general election, but they are both starting out in negative territory.

    I was a lifelong Republic driven somewhat independent during the Bush years, though I would have 100% voted for McCain over Obama if Palin wasn’t McCain’s vice president – but I had to vote Obama because I couldn’t risk the country on McCain’s ticker. Not exactly strong Republican bonafides, but with your readers political leanings I don’t thin you’ll get a lot of commenters if people like me are filtered out.

    Over the last couple months I’ve been believing more and more that Huntsman or Johnson can win out but simply failing to implode. Palin, Bachman, Perry and Cain have each had their shot at the media’s attention and collapsed. I am hoping that one of my two guys can make to the top simply by process of elimination. I still think they have a decent shot! This is not a normal year. But if my party puts up another looney, I’ll pull for Obama. I’d rather have tax and spend than batshit crazy.

  101. Of all the candidates running, I lean towards Romney on the basis of electability. As a Republican in a “mixed marriage” — I’m right-wing and she’s wrong-wing — I get insights into the views of disaffected Democrats on the GOP candidates. My darling wife has said she might not vote in November if the candidate is Romney — but will actively campaign for Obama if Newt is the nominee. Frankly, Gingrich is too much of a boogie-man for the Left to be credible.

    But when it comes down to it, I’m not happy with the current crop of candidates, hence my recent post “My Endorsement – Brokered Convention In 2012″ — http://rhymeswithright.mu.nu/archives/324662.php — suggesting that we can do better and get someone more electable that way.

  102. An entry under an alternate identity to confuse the innocent.

    Social libertarian and fiscal conservative here. Enough introduction. To business:

    Romney: A penultimate politician who will say what is needed to be said to get your vote. For Heaven’s sake, haven’t we had enough of those idiots over the years?
    Gingrich: See Romney. No. Seriously. He’s just like Mitt on the electioneering front.
    Perry: He’s Dubya with better looks. Which, come to think of it, is probably the exact reason why he got elected to be Governor of Texas. And the last thing this country needs is another “all hat, no cattle” in the White House. I’d vote for Obama before I voted for Perry.
    Bachman: Is insanity truly a desirable trait for an elected official? I wouldn’t vote for her to be President of the PTA, much less of the USA.
    Santorum: There are more notes on a cellist’s sheet music for Johann Pachelbel’s Canon and Gigue in D Major than there are in his entire arsenal. At least he’s not a MadLib of NOUN-VERB-9/11 like Rudy was four years ago, but that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.
    Cain: Well, he’s out anyways. No sense worrying about him letting his wild oats get sown again and again and again and again and… (And please, stop it with the “librul media character assassination” crap. It doesn’t fly outside of the FOX-osphere, which is where the majority of registered American voters live.)
    Johnson: He’s really still in the race?!? Maybe I actually should watch one of the debates sooner or later so I can see it for my own eyes.

    Now. Who is left.

    Yup. It comes down to Old Uncle Ron or Ambassador Huntsman. Both get high marks for non-traditional thinking. Huntsman gets knocked down a couple of notches due to his fondness for waffling, but those notches are regained by his obvious intelligence and oration. Paul gets the benefits for his grand, sweeping plans for pruning some dead weight from the government, and especially from the budget, yet reaps the penalties for having some of those niggling little what-if questions go unanswered. (For example, if the Department of Energy is completely eliminated, who then inherits the duties of Nuclear Stockpile Management? Defense? If so, then what happens to the purely civilian power reactors out there? Private sector firms? Then who gets to watch over them and make sure nobody pulls a Mission: Impossible while they improve profit margins and walks away with enough material to irradiate the entire Northern Plains? Questions like this keep me up at night.)

    I’ll pull for Huntsman. However, my time in the booth comes very late this season due to changing states in hopes of a better job market (It has been entered as Unforced Error Number 18,937,261 on my official score card.), so it won’t matter if I write-in Miss Piggy again like I did for the 2000 campaign.

  103. I am a registered republican, but actually a moderate libertarian. I generally just lean that way because most democrats (pelosi, reid, ect) are just off putting to me. To me, a good idea is a good idea, and I don’t really give a damn about parties. That said, I am registered as a republican, and I do actively participate in all elections I can. Even internet polls! I mainly just don’t think that the government should have any role in determining my morality, which where I tend to digress from the republican mainstream.

    John Huntsman is hands down my favorite of the GOP herd. He’s smart, articulate, and has a sense of humor. Furthermore, he’s a great diplomat that was an ambassador to China. I think mending fences with China is one of the most important things we can do.

    Newt Gingrich is also off putting for me, but I’ll have admit that he’s said fairly intelligent things. I find myself agreeing with him more often than not, and I don’t know what that says about me. I think that Newt’s stance on immigration is fairly intelligent, and that other candidates seem to by trying to organize a witch hunt. I don’t care about his past infidelities or how many times he’s been married. It seems to me like he’s trying to evoke Reagan imagery, but seems to be trying a bit to hard.

    Romney is as vanilla as you can get. There is not controversy, and he doesn’t take strong stands. I don’t mind him, but I don’t like him either.

    Perry is the biggest idiot I’ve ever seen, much worse than W.

    Bachman has moments of rational thought inbetween her christianity-fueled craziness. Seriously, the whole gay rehab thing did it for me. She shoudln’t even be in the race.

    I did like Cain at first, because he was theo only nominee with a financial plan…but we see how that went. I actually don’t care if he had affairs. But sexual assault/harassment should not be publicly acceptable behavior.

    Anyways, I’m a republican that is pro-gay rights, pro-abortion (for medical/rape/ect.), pro-prostitution, and pro-marijauna (i’ve never done an illicit drug in my life, but legalization makes sense to me). And thats pretty much how I feel about the GOP nominees.

  104. As a little “l” libertarian I’m interested in the moderate candidates as they’re most likely to match my own political leanings. At this point it looks like we’re going to have a Romney / Gingrich battle for the nomination and I can’t say that I’m too worked up about that. I think either COULD do an acceptable job as President given that they’ve both proven themselves able to compromise and get things done. I think I could actually vote for Huntsman and that’s something unusual for any candidate. I might be really interested in a Huntsman – Gingrich ticket if that came about.

  105. I vote republican, always have, always will. I am financially conservative and socially ambivalent. None of the candidates really excite me to be honest and I certainly do not expect republicans to win this round because of the cult of personality around Obama. But I will vote against democrats no matter what. The biggest reason I am republican is the because of the financial conservative aspect as opposed to the hand-out position of democrats. Also I find democrats somewhat hypocritical in their defense of personal rights yet want to force their ideals on others.

  106. Another fiscal conservative/social liberal. I could live with Romney or Huntsman.

    If the GOP nominates a real Jesus-jumper it’s going to be a tough choice between evils, trying to figure out the lesser of and what not.

  107. Thinking about it overnight, I’m not sure there’s any real solution to this. Frankly, it drives one to despair. We didn’t have a decent candidate in 2008. Before that was Bush, who was a disaster — should’ve been McCain then (who was a different guy from the frightened old man who ran three years ago), but, well, Karl Rove, that’s why. God, that was the last time we had someone running for the nomination who wasn’t red-meat-for-the-religious-loonies-cuckoo, twirly-eyed-as-practical-in-reality-as-communism-libertarian, or Romney/Gingrich-style-meh-I-don’t-like-him-at-all-but-maybe-he’ll-be-electable? Is this really where our ideology leads us, that you can have brains, charisma, or electability, but you have to pick just one? At least in Obama the Democrats got all three, even if he’s turned out to trust our side way too much in practice, and chosen to compromise with us too often for his base (whew). Jesus, we even considered Trump for a brief while! What is WRONG with us?

  108. It’s arguable as to whether I qualify to post in this thread, but there’s not likely to be a thread for my tiny little demographic, so here goes. I’m a weak anarchist (I believe that it’s possible that there are desireable goals for which a central government is the best way to achieve those goals but that we have no proof of that to date) who tends to vote Libertarian when possible because a) it’s hard to vote anarchist, and b) I do believe in the need for managed transitional stages from where we are now to where I would like for us to be. I’m an Alabama voter, which means that this post will affect the world more than my actual vote.

    First of all, a couple of deck-clearing general observations. My best guess is that this will be the second time in this young century when there was an easily beatable incumbent and the opposition somehow managed to fail to produce a single viable candidate on the way to producing a weak nominee, in both cases from Massachusetts. I have no idea what part of that sentence is significant, and I’m not cynical enough (or, perhaps, am too cynical, since I don’t think the parties are organized enough to collude) to think that this intentional, but it is interesting to me.

    Secondly, I’ve never been able to understand the notion of not voting for someone because they weren’t going to win. Even ignoring the fact that that gives the media too much power, since, well, how do you know that they can’t win, there are other side goals that are possible in an election, and influencing what goes into the mix for future platform planks can be quite valuable.

    In the primary, I’m going to vote for one of Paul, Huntsman, or Johnson, in that order currently. I do have concerns about Paul’s age, but since this is largely a symbolic vote anyway, I’m probably going to ignore that. More seriously, I’m not sold yet on Rand Paul, and I’m afraid that an overly good showing by Ron this time around might encourage Rand beyond his abilities. Huntsman is showing signs of being too willing to compromise in hopes of election, but his general history looks good, and recognizing that cyber attacks need to be handled by the State Department and the DoD and not entirely by the asset owners is a big plus (*). Those concerns are the reasons that I haven’t decided yet, but for now I’m in the order above.

    The rest have no interest in dismantling the State, so I have no interest in them. In the general, I’ll vote for any of the three above or, if as expected none of them are the nominee, most likely vote for Bob Barr or whoever the Libertarian candidate ends up being.

    (*) During the transitional phase when national defense is still handled by the Federal government, of course. In the long run, assuming that we don’t prove by experiment that defense should stay a government function, I’d assume that the best answer is a set of industry-funded defense consortiums, but that answer may well have changed because the technological changes in this area will outpace the political changes.

  109. Main issues:

    Finances (taxes and budget). First and foremost, and above all other reasons, this will be the deciding factor in my vote. We need to slash the federal budget now, not 10 years from now.

    Supreme Court nominees. A distant second. 4 of the 9 justices are north of 70. We need to a president who will only appoint strict constructionists to the bench, not “moderates”.

    Jobs, Energy and Regulation. I think the three are linked. I think all the Republican candidates will be superior to Obama on these issues.

    Based on the above, I’m planning to vote for Gingrich. The most important issue is government finances. He has a positive track record on that issue, and has both brains and a spine. He lacks human empathy which is a flaw, but I believe we’re at the point that we need a hatchet man to get government back on course.

    I’m not voting for Huntsman or Romney as they have been too changeable. They both come across as fakes.

    I liked Cain, but he’s out. In my mind it was a coin toss between Cain and Gingrich, with Cain having the practical business know how and Gingrich the practical government know how.

    If Gary Johnson could gain some traction he might have a shot, but I don’t see it happening. I’m certainly sympathetic to many of his positions.

    Bachman is erratic.

    Ron Paul would be good on domestic issues and scary on foreign issues.

    Perry is a cowboy. Which is normally a big positive, but after Bush (whom I voted for twice) I prefer cowboys who can string together coherent sentences. Push comes to shove, he’d be my second choice.

  110. I’ve been watching the polls, talking to people and observing the mainstream media’s attitude about the candidates and I think I have a pretty good guess about what’s coming. Here is the future, as foretold by the great and mysterious Sirperry:

    I see Ron Paul making a very good showing in the first primaries, coming in first (by a nose) or second to Newt, Romney will be a few points behind them. Paul will slowly gain points in the polls, mainstream media will ‘discover’ him and he will suddenly be seen as electable. Newt and Romney will gradually loose points (unless they do something stupid and implode). Everyone else will realize they are done for and drop out. Paul will become the media favorite and win the nomination. In the general election, Paul will pull in almost all of the Republican votes (and the Libertarians, not that they matter), a great deal of the independents, and a surprising number of Democrats.

    Tell all of your friends, you heard it here first.

    Please deposit 25 cents for another fortune.

  111. Sirperry:

    I’m not sure if your post is on point — I’m interested in Republicans’/conservatives’ personal view of the candidates in the field, not necessarily a from above prediction of what might happen.

  112. Further musings on the Republican mindset.

    As I stated in my earlier post, I think the evidence is good that we decide these things at a gut level first, then engage the brain to try to justify after the fact. Part of what’s going on here, with the marked ambivalence to the candidates, is that the gut has decided something that the brain just can’t come to terms with, at least not yet.

    I think one thing that left and right agree on is that we are entering an era where the stability, or at least the appearance of relative stability, of the post WWII era is ending. The current spending/tax/debt mix is unsustainable, and there is a need for a dramatic course correction. I think many on the left must have thought that Obama was that change, perhaps still do. On the right, maybe we are looking for our version of Obama. We sense a need for a dramatic change. Our guts are pointing us toward the “change-y” candidates and away from the traditional, and our brains are saying “Okay, I get that we need change, but seriously Newt? Cain?? Paul?!?!”

    So either our brains will have to convince themselves that Newt or Paul is electable or that Romney, with a Republican congress, a vigilant electorate, and some good luck will become an agent of change, or that Huntsman has just had his visionary light under the proverbial bushel, and that ANY DAY NOW he will start to inspire.

    Praying for a brokered convention.

  113. At this point I would probably vote for Huntsman, though I could stomach Gingrich if I had to. He’s a smart guy, but needs a firm hand to keep him from doing stupid things. I won’t go into the others because I think everyone else has covered them pretty well.

    In reality though, who ever is the President, they’re screwed. With all the problems and the imploded Congress, there’s almost no way to get anything done. Rather than vote for a President, I’d rather vote out a few rules in Congress. If I had my way I would:

    1) Get rid of gerrymandering (which is leading to a lot of our extremism issues) by mandating non-partisan redistricting based on a sane level of rules.
    2) Get rid of the Filibusterer rules or make it much harder to use (it used to be a rarely used tactic) or at least require that they actually have to stand on the Senate floor and talk for three days.
    3) Get rid of Secret Holds in committee. This allows anonymous members of congress to stop bills in committee.

    By getting us back to functioning politics (which by its nature is still a mess) then we might be able to have a real president that can actually work on the major issues of our time.

  114. I wish there was a Social Libertarian Party, then I wouldn’t have to describe myself as a “Repubican-but…”. From reading this blog and many others, I’m not alone in wondering why the Party can’t find any stronger candidates. To my thinking none of the declared Republican candidates are strong enough to defeat Obama. Though, I’d like to see or hear a Obama/Gingrich debate.

    I stole this comment from another blog; “I’m writing in for Cthulhu, I’m sick of the lesser evil.”

  115. [Deleted because I asked folks to avoid general kvetching about Obama and instead to focus on their thoughts about the specific candidates. Again, for the purposes of this thread, a dissatisfaction with Obama and his administration -- to a greater or lesser extent -- is taken as read - JS]

  116. [Deleted as it is a followup to a now-deleted post. Which is not to say it wasn't a fine post, mind you. Just trying to keep things on target. Apologies if this all seems overly strict on my part; things are usually looser here, but I want this thread to stay focused -- JS]

  117. I’m a socially conservative, economically liberal Republican sort of guy. I don’t think there’s many people that will cop to that combination. After voting for Bush twice and McCain once, I’ve become more and more cynical with the state of our politics, and I’m tired of enabling evil policies by voting for the lesser evil. My current voting rubric is:
    1) I will refuse to vote for anyone who directly advocates gravely evil policies. That rules out essentially all Democrats since they have systematically excluded anti-abortion politicians from their party. In the last 10 years or so, it also rules out most Republicans, since they have begun to systematically exclude anti-torture politicians from their party.
    2) Given the choice between multiple politicians who do not advocate grave evil, I’ll choose the one who I think will effect the most prudent policies. Although lately there hasn’t been much to choose from in this category.

    In the current field of Republican candidates, #1 rules out everybody but Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, and Gary Johnson, since all of the others have explicitly advocated the use of torture. Of those three, I’m inclined towards Jon Huntsman. Ron Paul, well, I love the guy, but it’s hard to deny he’s a bit of a kook. It’s great to have him out there, but I don’t think he’d be a good executive. Gary Johnson I honestly don’t know much about. Jon Huntsman has pretty damn impressive credentials, has solid foreign policy background and domestic policy background, and he doesn’t advocate murder and torture.

    Incidentally, I think it’s incredibly depressing that excluding people who advocate murder and torture is something that I actually have to do. One would hope that would be assumed.

  118. I started in politics with Goldwater. Stayed a republican for years, worked the system, precinct, district, state offices. Small-government, least-government, pro-choice, pro-gun, pro-gay. Someone once said I was so old-time conservative I was a tea-tossing liberal. Became slowly more and more disgusted, especially when the Pro-Life movement captured my state’s republican party in the 1980’s. I played with the idea of being a Libertarian, then with being a libertarian, and have finally settled on being in Professor de la Plaza’s fictional Rational Anarchist group, and I tend to vote for a lot of non-Statist-party candidates. Yes, I see the Republicans and the Democrats as two faces of the same party, and I think that’s why both parties come up with such abysmal choices for candidates. It’s not a conspiracy, just human greed, foolishness, and stupidity; add in a large dose, on both sides, of refusing to see reality.

    The only current candidates running for the Republican Presidential Nomination that I might vote for in a Republican primary are Huntsman or Johnson. The others … you’ve already had the long list of complaints; Gingrich is poor but probably the best of a bad lot. In the last two decades, candidates I’ve voted for have done poorly in general elections; the last one I can think of who won was Jesse Ventura. I don’t think that either Huntsman or Johnson will be on the Republican ticket. I will firmly hold my nose and cast my ballot for the Republican in an attempt to defeat Obama. In Minnesota, my current state, this is a silly notion; voting for a third party would only help Obama.

    If the Republicans nominate either Huntsman or Johnson, the “rabid right” will close their checkbooks and stay home on voting day, and the party will run a campaign that will guarantee that the Statists stay in power.

  119. All right, here’s some perspective from my view…

    The first thing is, I think all conservatives can agree: Obama MUST be stopped. Four more years of this administration and we’ll be talking about “America-That-Was,” like Firefly and “Earth-That-Was.”

    That said, we’ve got a rather poor selection of candidates this time around to choose from…and the poorest of the lot, Mittens Obamney, is the one that the Gentry GOP Establishment seems hell-bent on shoving down our throats. If Mittens runs, and Hussein al-Chicago doesn’t get re-elected outright, we’re essentially in for “Obama Lite” for the next four years, and that’s almost as bad. Having Mittens as a candidate essentially takes the Obamination Obamacare off the table, for instance, as he successfully rammed through the same damn thing on a state level!

    The process hasn’t been helped by all these “debates” among the GOP candidates, most of which have been run by members of the Left-stream Obamedia, who would love nothing more than to basically tarnish the entire field and thereby ensure the re-election of their God-King. In my opinion, the candidates are fools for believing these debates will result in anything good for them.

    Of the candidates that (a) have a hope of actually getting elected, or (b) haven’t already adgered their own campaigns, I’d have to say the better choices are either Gingrich or Perry (though opinions are divided on whether Perry has self-adgered already). Newt has the advantage of being pretty much the smartest guy in the room, no matter which room you’re in, and I’d love to see him in a proper debate against Hussein al-Chicago; Newt would be wiping the floor with Teh Won. There’s still some concern that he’s too squishy and apt to compromise with the other side (and we all know the liberal definition of “compromise” is “you give me everything I want, and I give you…um…something. Later. Maybe.” And then they renege on the deal.), and I have no idea what on God’s green Earth possessed him to sit on a couch with Nancy Lugosi to talk about Glowbull Wormening, but he at least gives some indication that he actually has balls. Perry certainly has plenty of balls, and furthermore, he knows how to recognize when he’s wrong and correct his mistakes (see: the Gardasil affair), but there’s the question of whether (a) he’s already flamed out, and (b) whether voters will elect another Texan governor this soon after GWB.

    For my part, I’ll go with Anybody But Romney in the primary and Anybody But Obama in the general…though if the choice is Romney or Obama, I would be sore tempted to vote for Bill Still (the Libertarian candidate) or just vote for Beelzebub (why screw around with the lesser of two evils?).

    Aside from sheer partisan issues, the larger concern is, there is no candidate, Donk or Pack, who seems ready to recognize what needs to happen: either government quits spending more than it takes in in current tax revenue, double pronto, or we’re screwed. It’s happening now in Europe. It will happen here, unless it’s stopped…and no one seems inclined to stop it.

  120. Erbo,

    Well, this is only tangentially topical, so the half-life on this post is likely not long.

    Dude, “God-king”? “Obamedia”? “TehWon”? Seriously? If you want people to take your argument any _less_ seriously, you could add “TTYL, off to the NAMBLA meeting”.

    I think this is actually relevant for this discussion, as the whole point of picking a candidate should be trying to win an election. I’m going to take you at your word and infer that we actually share many political views. However, if we are to see those views enacted, we will need to convince our fellow citizens that their goals are better advanced by the Republican than by Obama. Jargon that might be common in a right wing blog is just going to make your point of view that much easier to dismiss.

  121. I’m a long time reader/lurker and while, I don’t normally like discussing politics, you are one of my favorite authors and seem genuinely interested so here goes.

    The tl;dr version is that I’m a conservative that votes almost always Republican in federal/state elections, the exception being my support for James Traficant :) . The slightly longer version is that I’m definitely a fiscal conservative, a mostly social conservative and sprinkled throughout with the occasional tendency towards both libertarianism and – what I just discovered on Wikipedia as being called – techno-progressivism.

    From day one I thought the Republican slate of candidates was uninspiring.

    I personally find Mitt Romney profoundly creepy; there’s just something about him that subconsciously gets to me. Luckily, I’ve never had to tell my subconscious to shut-up since his credentials are such that I could never support him as a candidate. If he became the Republican nominee and was elected president I don’t think he’d actually repeal what needs repealed so I’d vote third party or write-in Paul Ryan’s name or Jesus or George Washington or something in the general election.

    On the domestic side of things Ron Paul says many things I deeply agree with like the patriot act being unpatriotic and that he would repeal it but his foreign policy ideas are horribly impractical and dangerous to the long term survivability of the country. If he was the Republican nominee I don’t think I could vote for him either since his foreign policy is as potentially harmful as Obama’s policies are towards the nation and once again I’d vote third party or write-in Paul Ryan’s name or Jesus or George Washington or something.

    There are some tenants of social conservatism that I’ll quibble with or disagree with but I need whoever I vote for to be pro-life. I don’t want a President making life-and-death decisions when he/she is able to say a whole group of humans are not humans and don’t deserve the same protections as the rest of humanity. Therefore, I normally like the social conservative candidates but this season’s crop – Bachmann and Santorum are less-then stellar (to put it lightly). The other problem with candidates running on their social conservatism nature is right now the economy is priority one, the long term financial stability of the USA a close second, and energy independence a still important third. They need to running on their positions on these issues.

    When Perry was governor I kept seeing him doing things that I really liked and I was hoping he’d step in because he seemed like a better pick then everyone else but he’s run a completely horrible campaign to this point. At this point he doesn’t seem to be presidential enough to earn the nomination but of the people so far listed he’s the one I have the least problems with.

    As for Huntsmen – I don’t think he’ll repealed what needs repealed and the idea of running a moderate to attract potential Democrat votes was conclusively proven wrong with the 2008 Presidential election another no go.

    And finally we’re at Newt Gingrich. I’ll be the first to admit that he’s not perfect and that I snickered over his chances back 6 months ago but the more I hear him talk the more I’m actually thinking that I could actually support him. I think he has a very important quality that will be necessary in the election – he doesn’t mind attacking Obama and can live with the media backlash this will generate. In 2008, I think McCain was worried about being called a racist if he attacked Obama and we don’t need another candidate like that. Also, all the dirt on Gingrich has been dug up already. People call him crazy but that doesn’t really bother me, then again I liked when James Traficant was my US representative. Right now I could actually see myself voting for him in the general election.

  122. John,

    Can do. It’s just FOTCOMS (fingernails on the chalkboard of my soul) for me. It seems rude to get invited in to a polite discussion and then go off like that. Plus it’s a self-inflicted wound to publicize one’s views in a way that is likely to marginalize them at the same time.

  123. I would classify myself as a conservative who is thoroughly disgusted with our foreign policy. Most of our conflicts since 1950 have been at best ill-advised and at worst has been outright foolish. Perhaps the most misguided were the early 1950’s removal of Iran’s Mossadegh (sp) followed by Vietnam and the recent Iraq war. Bearing this in mind I see Romney, Perry, Bachmann, Santorum, and GIngrich to be unacceptable, I see each as a continuation of President’s Bush and Obama on foreign policy. I have supported Ron Paul since 2008 and see no reason to change now. He has been almost prophetic with foreign policy and the housing bubble. Yes, there are areas of disagreement such as his legalization of drugs and prostitution but I would see Congress overruling him on those. I am mostly on board with his economic policy – audit/end the Fed et.al and the return to the gold standard. Subjugating education to the states works too…

  124. – small “l” libertarian here….

    still, think Mr. Paul is a little too crazy and a little too old. Can’t see any viable candidate who might tackle our self destructive spending. Wish that Paul Ryan was running, or maybe Mr. Christie — folks who are financial straight talkers with little truck for the social issue sillies of our friends the republicans. Will probably end up unenthusiastically voting for Romney. Might use first-person pronouns someday.

  125. I am writing in your name Mr. Scalzi on my ballot. While i don’t always agree with all of your political views, at least if we elected you, I’d be able to sleep nights knowing there was an honest and intelligent man at the helm of America.

  126. Sure, we don’t love Obama, but can we really say the country would be better off with ANYONE else?

    Frankly, if it came to a matchup between Santorum or Bachmann and Obama, I’d actually vote for Obama. I’d hold my nose and do it, but there are bad people out there with very, very bad ideas (read: Santorum/Bachmann), and I think the country would take a nose dive if they got the reins.

    Oh, our fiscal policy might be grand, but our social policy would spell doom for our country’s future. I wouldn’t want to live under an administration with either of them… I’m downhearted enough that both of them managed to win any other representative office. I will not let them have another, more powerful one.

  127. I am a SMALL GOVERNMENT libertarian. I believe in progress but am absolutely anti Progressive.

    Why can’t my man Gary Johnson get some traction.

    My problem with Romney is that he has no ideology. He doesn’t want to shrink the federal government he just thinks it needs better management. I’ll vote for him if it’s him or another for years in the wrong direction.

    Ron Paul, good domestic policy but an idiot on foreign.

    Bachman, Santorum, both too religiously oriented.

    Huntsman might be acceptible.

    Perry, I like the policies he pushes. He is religious but seems willing to keep faith a personal matter. Unfortunately, he has been shooting himself in the foot too much. Still my second favorite. I think he would surround himself with good people.

    Cain had some interesting fiscal ideas. But… Totally clueless about the rest of the world.

    Gingrich, I prefer him to Romney. He’s my third choice. Still better than Obama.

  128. Voted for Reagan but did not vote for either Bush (started going Independent). If I were still registered a Republican when these candidates came up, I wouldn’t be making the gradual move as I did, I’d jump ship. In a time of high unemployment, all they can focus on is cutting the debt, but only at the expense of the poor, unemployed, elderly, and disabled. I couldn’t in good conscience bring myself to vote for any of them. I once was proud of being a Republican. Not any more.

    So, ultimate answer to the question? Couldn’t vote for any of them, not even when I was a Republican, and certainly not now.

  129. Sounds like we’re in the same boat, domynoe. Really, the stench of this bunch — and pretty much anyone of note in the party these days — is beyond the “hold my nose and vote for them” category. And it’s really Gingrich’s fault that the party’s gone this direction (well, him and the religious right), and abandoned all sense of … well, sense … in such a way that our party’s Kucinich, Ron Paul, actually seems like a reasonable candidate rather than the fringer he’s always been. You know you’re in trouble when the pie-in-the-sky libertarians are the saner-sounding choices. The fact that Gingrich is actually even considered a viable option, let alone the current front runner, is downright embarrassing. He started this whole party-of-no thing that’s made us such a laughingstock, and it’s only gotten worse with the somehow lesser men who’ve succeeded him. The fact that the major figure I’d most likely vote for if a gun were held to my head is Romney, FREAKING ROMNEY, whom I have spent the past decade hating, who’s been such an obvious gladhanding empty-suit-and-haircut not-even-a-shadow-of-his-father whatever-it-takes-to-get-elected ambition monster ever since the SLC Olympics (and probably before), is just downright bewildering.

    The more I think about it, the more likely it seems that I should follow in your footsteps and go independent rather than clinging to the party that left me, like, 15 years ago. Maybe if enough of us disgruntled sane people finally do it — just stay home, or vote for Tinfoil Hat Bachmann to raze the party to the ground in the general — we can start to reclaim our party, and the center, from the maniacs and cynics. But I’m still not too hopeful, even about that.

  130. Unfortunately, I have nothing new to add to the discussion. I am a regular reader here at Whatever (a few days behind, I usually read it at work but have been busy) but have not commented on a single blog entry… but this one intrigued me. However, now that I have read through (not all) the posts above me, it seems that I, like many of the Conservatives who have posted on this thread, am just as disgusted with the current field of Republicans as they are. I see no clear choice, and therefore may abstain from making one.

    I would classify myself as someone who believes strongly in our individual rights, and also believes in small government. I also would like our leadership to be more fiscally responsible- basically spend less money on frivolous programs that do not work. I would like to point out that I am a Christian, but before someone jumps on me for that, I am want to point out that just because I am Christian, it does not mean I think everyone else should be. Which is partially why I have problems with a few of the candidates. I do not feel that our religious beliefs should be forced upon those with other beliefs. An example of this would be the issue of gay marriage… Do I care who people marry? No. Because it does not affect me. You could fall in love with and marry a tree for all I care. Do I think the federal government should be involved in that discussion at all? No. It is a power left to our states, and it should stay that way… because that is what the constitution says.

    Most of the candidates have chosen sides on many issues that I think are irrelevant. Which makes it hard for me to see them as smart enough to hold the job of President of the United States.

    That being said… we really need to work on removing President Obama from office. So what to do?

  131. Your question at the end is kind of inviting off-topic wanderage and resultant comment-crushing, Brett, given that it’s a setup for people to gripe about how terrible Obama is, so let me wrest it back by giving this answer: what the Republican party has to do is find a candidate who isn’t a joke, but will at the same time capture the attention of Republican voters. As noted in my previous comments, this appears to be a bit of a challenge, as the very things that make a candidate appealing to the Republican base tend to alarm the general populace, while the people that might be appealing candidates in a general get gun-shy about facing the crazier elements of the right, probably for good reason. It’s a real problem in a party that needs to cater to wacky extremists of multiple sorts (fundies, libertarians, rabid corporatists) but also toe the line for moderates like most of us. I’m honestly not sure there’s a candidate who would want to run against an incumbent Obama who also wants to face the teabaggers, megachurches, lobbyists, Fox News, and so forth. I know I wouldn’t. I mean, the National Review is devoting an entire upcoming issue to trying to destroy Gingrich! How extraordinarily weird is that? And they won’t even directly endorse Romney. Like all of us, they’re waiting for an imaginary dream candidate to sweep aside all the deadwood we’ve currently got. But that dream candidate is NOT coming.

    Which is why I’m voting Bachmann for kicks and in the hopes that she’ll torch the party in a way even GWB somehow couldn’t, then waiting till ’16 to see what emerges from the wreckage.

  132. Every two years here in Texas the 254 county Voter Registrars sends us all fresh new voter registration cards. Then we show up a which ever partisan primary we care to meaning we can switch back and forth from Republican to Democrat to Republican every two years. Come spring I plan to show up at the Republican primary. So here are my thoughts on the Republican field after dipping in and watching segments of the various debates this summer and fall.

    Not for Ron Paul. While I like his concern for walking us back to our Consitution which limited the powers of the Federal government, I cannot abide his isolationist leanings. He would be a disaster in the arena of foreign policy.

    Not for Michelle Bachman. Even if I like some of her viewpoints (some, not too many though) her resume is too shallow. Being a congressional representative does bring to the table the skill set of an executive, certainly not the chief executive officer of our national government.

    Not for Rick Perry. I’m Texan. I have never voted for Perry for any Texas elective office. Ever. Why? There were always better candidates on the ballot opposing him. And there are now in this race for the Republican nomination better candidates. Perry has a long history of taking credit for things that he shouldn’t take credit for. Example? Perry claims he created millions of jobs in Texas this last decade. Uh, Governor Perry, the world marketplace price of oil had far more to do with the health of our Texas economy and job creation than anything you ever did in the Governor’s office.

    Probably not for Santorum or Huntsman, unless they have surged to much higher popularity among the Republican voters by the time for our Texas primary. I have this personal policy of not voting for a candidate that is already too weak and far out of the running for a reasonable chance of victory. Now, if Huntsman is contesting the nomination as a front-runner or runner-up, then oh yes, I could vote for Huntsman for many of the same reasons Scalzi send some political contribution dollars his way. Bottom line, I think Huntsman would make an effective US President and find my own political thinking represented in much of what he has to say.

    Which leaves the current front-runner Newt Gingrich and runner-up Mitt Romney to consider. I could vote for either one of the them. My true preference is Newt, baggage and all. Newt as Speaker of the House working with Clinton as President achieved welform reform and balanced Federal budgets that actually produced a suplus in Clinton’s final year in office. That took true leadership skill. I am convinced that Newt has the skill set it takes to be a very effective US President. Romney likely has a good enough skill set to be a good President as well, but Newt knows the reality of getting things done for the good of the nation and working with the opposition across the partisan divide. We need some of that going forward. Typing here today, I am far more likely than not to vote for Newt next spring in our Texas primary.

    At the end of the day I want our next President to be effective at doing what needs to be done for our future as a nation. Newt’s conservative principles are bonafide and his skill set strong enough to lead us to a better future. If he crashes and burns between now and the primary? Maybe Huntsman will be on the rise by then. Or Mitt still hanging in there. My dream candidate for our next President, Dr. Condolessa Rice, doesn’t even have her hat in the ring.

  133. Gary Willis, I’d be happy to vote for Dr. Rice, too. I suspect she’d refuse to take the oath of office if elected, though.

  134. Elgar, my intent was not to drag everyone into a let’s-complain-about-Obama thread, but simply to mention that I feel it is important to stop some of the things that he is doing … because I feel those things are not in the best interest of our country and the people in it. And that I am having a hard time with the current slate of candidates that the Republican party is placing in front of us. “What to do?” was more rhetorical than anything else. I do not need a dream candidate, just one who is practical, and I do not see that as one of our options. So, what the heck do we do? I have no answer, I guess.

  135. Fair enough, Brett. Unfortunately I agree with you that there’s no answer. Things look well and truly screwed this time around, particularly assuming the economy continues to slowly and steadily improve. And really, given the way the right wing’s behaved over the past 15-20 years (really, ever since Clinton won his first election), and the “slash and burn” mindset that’s come to predominate in conjunction with kowtowing to anti-gay, anti-immigrant bigots, PLUS eight years of kissing George Bush’s butt no matter what godawful thing he and Cheney and the rest of that lot did, the Republican party has nobody to blame but itself.

  136. The problem that I see is the interaction of the Republican Party becoming part of the moving dead, a number of statutory requirements expecting a robust contest between them and the Democrats, and the Democratic Party being triumphant (and it would be the same the other way ’round) is that we end up with effectively one-party rule (cf. Mexico and PRI, 1930-2000.) It’s better to have a strong third party replace the weaker party (as the Republicans did the Whigs.)

  137. The best I can tell, Mr. Gingrich (wow, I hope I spelled that correctly) is my top choice. My impression is that he is smart, honest, and likeable. And yes likeable does matter. Of course, I doubt that I really know that much about any of the candidates. FWIW, I loathe debates, not that those provide any great insight anyway. Mr. Romney may be smart, but IMHO is rather lacking in other desirable attributes. The rest, well… BTW, some days I think I’m actually either a Republicrat or a Democlican. One thing I’m pretty sure of is that our national government has way too much power and way too many resources. I just heard a piece on NPR today re. Patrick Henry. I think I might like to vote for him… ;-)

  138. Entering this thread kinda late, but for what it’s worth, my somewhat disjointed thoughts:

    I look at the current Republican field, and my overwhelming emotion is despair. 300,000,000 people in this country, at least 100,000,000 of them fulfill the technical, constitutional requirements for the presidency, most if not all of those could do a better job than the entity that’s in there now … and this bunch are the best candidates we can find?

    Bachmann is crazy stupid, she lost me for good the day she started talking antivaxer nonsense.

    Romney is a Northeastern Republican, meaning that anywhere else in the country he’d be a Democrat and a fairly liberal one.

    Gingrich … possibly based on what he says. Not based on what he’s done.

    Cain had some interesting ideas (note that I didn’t say ‘good,’ I said ‘interesting’) and I continue to think he was the victim of an organized hit by somebody, but he’s gone and there’s no bringing him back.

    Ron Paul — Some of his ideas on domestic policy sound good, but on the whole he’s even more crazy stupid than Bachmann — friend to Truthers and white supremacists, with a foreign policy right out of the 1930s.

    Huntsman — don’t know much about him. Haven’t found any sources I can trust.

    Santorum – don’t know much about him either, but he doesn’t impress me.

    Rick Perry — a possibility, but I have trouble getting past some of his social positions, since I am a social moderate (on most issues) and strong fiscal/economic conservative.

    All in all, I don’t like any of ‘em. Then again, I’m also having more and more trouble convincing myself it matters. Being a naturally pessimistic sort I believe we’re past the point of no return in this country. The last three years nailed down the coffin. Deficit at 40% of the total annual budget, debt at over $15,000,000,000,000 and counting, and anyway when things are running the way they’re supposed to, the President doesn’t control economic or fiscal policy. Congress does, and Congress is run by big-government politicos. The odds of them passing the kind of cuts we need just to survive are effectively nil.

  139. Small-l libertarian here, former Republican. I didn’t leave the party so much as the party left me: during the 2000s it seemed as if it was going further in the direction of all-around autocracy — autocratic control of the economy (stimulus and TARP were both on Bush’s watch, and prior to Obamacare the largest expansion of government healthcare was Bush’s Medicare prescription drug benefit) and autocratic control of our lives (DOMA, etc). The Republican Party I joined was supposed to stand opposed to autocracy, not advance it. I didn’t leave the party: the party left me.

    The only credible candidate on the GOP side right now is Gingrich. A lot of people like Romney, I know, but I don’t see it. Romney strikes me as the Second Coming of Bill Clinton: he campaigns principally on two things, good hair and ruthless triangulation. He’s opposed to Obamacare, but proud of Romneycare, and he needs to be elected so he can overturn Obamacare (and presumably but Romneycare back in). He strikes me as a guy who’s saying the right things to the right crowds and deliberately playing them off each other in order to get ahead in the primaries. Clinton showed in ’92 and ’96 this could be an effective strategy, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    The other candidates besides Gingrich are also-rans and has-beens, for various reasons: some of them good reasons (Bachmann) and others because of well-orchestrated political hits (Cain).

    Gingrich is eight pounds of trouble packed into a five-pound bag. I don’t like the guy. He seems to have a curiously flexible interpretation of his historical record, which is kind of ironic from a history professor. He’s needlessly combatative. He’ll mobilize the Democrats like no other candidate (except, possibly, Bachmann). But unlike every other candidate, he’s at least a credible candidate for the office.

    The choice is between Gingrich and Romney. I think this is a choice between execution by firing squad and being shot to death in a mugging. You don’t really want to choose either, and on some level you’re certain that whichever route you go it’s all going to be so painfully similar.

  140. I used to be conservative, so I think I qualify. Voted for Bush twice, longtime ditto-head, was actively excited about the Contract with America. But apparently I am no longer a conservative. I am not sure what changed more, particularly over the last decade… my own political views and suppositions, or the definition of what conservative means. At any rate, my take on the GOP field is that we’ve gotten what we’ve asked for, or at least what Roger Ailes has told us we wanted. To summarize, I believe this now means (in relative order of importance):

    – We are (and always have been) a Christian nation.
    – Lower taxes. Whatever they are, they must be lower, particularly on higher income brackets.
    – Defer to Israel. Hell, might as well hold the inauguration there.
    – Deficits don’t matter.
    – The US is under an existential threat from (insert middle eastern bogeyman here, those people are all the same anyway), and hence must act in a preemptive manner to remove the threat.
    – China too. They are out to destroy us.
    – Climate change is either an outright lie, or something that would be happening anyway.

    The GOP field, with 2 exceptions, buys into most of this. In normal circumstances, the GOP would also have soothsayers pointing this out, and those people would be polling at the top of the list. The fact that this isn’t true means we need a real smackdown, after which we should return to our corners and reassess ourselves. Ideally, this would return us to a saner, practical, and potentially electable conservative (see the Tories).

    I believe a Newt Gingrich nomination would achieve this. So although my political and personal instincts suggest Huntsman would, far and away, be our strongest candidate, I will be voting for Newt, if he is still an option when the Illinois primary comes around.

  141. Disappointed with all candidates, right down the line. This is my first time on this blog. I came here while looking for places to post a link to my first novel (military sci-fi Western) but my story has a pro-libertarian theme so I see I am in the wrong place. However, that fact does leave me qualified to post to this topic. Can’t a candidate be both a limited government, fiscal conservative AND non-wacky in foreign policy and social issues? Of course, I contend that if we followed the libertarian theme of very limited government, it wouldn’t matter if a presidential candidate of any political party was inadequate. A full-time, professional political class does not serve our great country well.

    David Couzins, Author of “Domers” (http://www.domersbook.com)

  142. As a old style conservative republican with libertarian leanings, I have to say the best GOP candidate remains Obama. The fact that he’s currently President, and mislabeled as a member of the Democratic party, doesn’t change that. He’s center right, not anywhere near left.

    He has my vote despite his woeful record on civil liberties. Others in the running now or in the past would do no better, and almost certainly worse (look at McCain writing the constitution-violating portions of NDAA).

    Huntsman would be my choice of the labeled GOP, as he’s got the experience, attitude, and ability to work together even with opponents, but I fear he’s been drowned out by the crop of brinksmanship wackos.

  143. “This is my first time on this blog. I came here while looking for places to post a link to my first novel (military sci-fi Western) but my story has a pro-libertarian theme so I see I am in the wrong place.”

    And yet… you left two links.

    (I know it’s OT, John – but it was too whiny to let go without comment… Mallet away as you see fit.)

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