Next week’s Iowa Caucus will further muddy the waters for republicans.
A couple months ago I told a few people that Rick Santorum might just win the Iowa caucus. His poll-numbers were around two per cent then. A few of them laughed at me. One cynically asked me if I owned a crystal ball. Another questioned my punditry. Another said I was getting too full of myself. All these comments were similar to those made when I called the Obama caucus-victory four years ago.
I wasn’t kidding about Rick Santorum’s caucus chances. The former two term senator from Pennsylvania is the sleeper in Iowa. I will explain this further in another column (post-caucus). He has run true-blue grassroots campaigns in both Iowa and New Hampshire. He will do better than his poll-numbers suggest.
I know I haven’t written about this race for some time now. At least not since Herman’s wayward cane was exposed for its adulterous self/lol. Now Cain is gone gone gone; and those of us who were perpetually embarrassed by his presence in this race can laugh laugh laugh. Fact is this: Herman Cain was never in the race to win. This was one great big book signing-tour for him. He did that well.
Herman Cain had no real organization anywhere. He barely had a campaign structure. He went months without a real campaign manager. He had no genuine communications apparatus. He had very few true staffers. He had no reputable political consultants. He had no visible team. He was opening up a campaign office in Atlanta the very day he was pulling out of the race. He was a joke that wasn’t funny for serious students of presidential-campaign politics.
The shame is this: mainstream media has ignored two other former- republican governors presently running, but featured Herman Cain instead. Buddy Roemer and Gary Johnson were ten times more credible than Cain; and yet they were excluded from the major presidential debates. This is one of the flaws of this system: the vetting process by mainstream media often leaves a lot to be desired. Roemer is the only republican candidate with an economics degree. Think about that during this Great Recession folks. Between Roemer and Johnson they hold more new ideas for problem-solving and handling troublesome issues, than this whole field combined (not that I agree with them).
A few months ago I warned folks about a possible Santorum surge. Next week he will wake up to gain one of the first three positions at the finish. Many will be surprised. Not me. I will be surprised if he finishes lower than second.
Rick Santorum is the most consistent conservative in this republican field. The Iowa caucus-goers are strange folks. They like purists more than pragmatists (Romney). They like ideologues/hard-liners more than compromisers/ accommodators (Romney again). On Caucus-night they engage in a process of horse-trading, bartering, deal-making and such. Caucus night is a fascinating adventure in democracy. This is where politics is truly on display: naked and raw.
I believe it will come down to Ron Paul or Rick Santorum as the winner. Paul has an edge right now but he has peaked. Santorum can only keep climbing. In my estimation Mitt Romney will do no better than second place. I expect him to come in third. I will be very surprised if he wins Iowa (his religion hurts here); just as I will be very surprised if he (Romney) loses the New Hampshire primary the following week. If Romney wins Iowa, New Hampshire and North Carolina this thing is over: done. You can stick a fork in all his opponents if that scenario plays out.
As I intoned in earlier columns, Newt Gingrich is dead man walking; so too Rick Perry. Michelle Bachman has emerged as a fairly good debater of late but she cannot go forward with a disappointing performance in Iowa (her birth-state). Yesterday she lost her main Iowa supporter -the state chairman of her campaign- to Ron Paul’s camp. It appears as though he was bought off: so much for the political intrigue and subterfuge always plying the underbellies of competitive political races.
Jon Huntsman is a decent candidate (on the issues). He was the subject of one of my columns some time aback. He is also a consistent conservative (Republican red-meat); but he is being punished for working with the Obama administration (a former Ambassador to China). Plus he brings nothing exciting to the table. He tried (see his introductory commercials) but failed to generate the kind of energy and excitement that charismatic candidates naturally bring to the battle front.
The republican’s only decent chance of defeating Barack Obama is in the hands of Chris Christie. And he can only become the nominee via a brokered convention.
The real challenges for either Santorum or Paul lie beyond the caucus. Both are viewed as too extreme by independent voters. If Michele Bachman drops out to endorse Santorum then the dynamics of this race can change. Santorum can energize the Tea-Party base. He can also draw stark contrasts to the others in this race.
Santorum is a hardworking campaigner. He has been all over Iowa and New Hampshire. He has campaigned harder than any other republican. He has been under rated throughout this coverage. He was under rated when he upset an incumbent some years ago in his home state. He has boyish charm and good looks.
He will however, have a major problem with the LGBT crowd. He obviously sees homosexuality as a sin -given his strong religious beliefs. He will also have a problem with the female vote given his hard-line views against abortions. He will also be a stark contrast to Barack Obama in a general election. He wants a constitutional amendment to make marriage strictly between a man and a woman. He will be a dream candidate for hard-core conservatives. He is a hawk on foreign policy. He doesn’t have Newt Gingrich’s baggage, or Rick Perry’s gaffes. He has made more than a few controversial statements in the past but nothing that will hurt him with the republican base. Santorum is a sleeper: no doubt. If he can raise the money to stay competitive he can become an alternative to Romney down the road.
Ron Paul has a solid and loyal following all across the nation; but some of his positions border on the inane. Plus he has major ghosts from the past which will come back to haunt him big time. He doesn’t look presidential (if you catch my drift) aesthetically speaking; and this may hurt his presidential chances when compared to BO.
It is starting to appear that Mitt Romney will be the nominee unless there is a brokered convention: but then Romney’s coronation has been shrouded in a cloak of inevitability from the get-go. It has been looking this way for some time now. The problem here is Romney cannot beat Barack Obama even if the sky opens. Many republicans know this. What are they going to do?
Stay tuned-in folks.