Where is the 2012 Battleground?
We have to see where each of the four candidates will primarily focus their campaigns to defeat President Obama.
The 2012 Republican Primary is well underway and the field has been shrunk to four candidates. Three of the four are seeking to be President, while the other is mainly seeking to lead a movement. Each one of these candidates has defined themselves in ways to show how they want to direct the country. The most important thing for Republican primary voters is to determine which one of these four men is best equipped to defeat President Obama. To do that, we also have to see where each of the candidates will primarily focus their campaigns.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is probably the biggest enigma to me in this campaign. Mr. Gingrich has great speaking ability and is able to articulate conservative ideas better than anyone else on the debate stage. He can see right through the biased media panelists and put them in their places. On the other hand, Mr. Gingrich attacks former Governor Mitt Romney for his work at venture capitalist firm Bain Capital and badgers Mr. Romney to release his tax records, which he is not required to do. These are very populist stances that seem more in line with the Occupy Wall Street protesters. When Mr. Gingrich sat on the couch next to Democratic then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi and advocated for climate change reform, this was also a very populist move.
So where will Mr. Gingrich wage his campaign against President Obama? Will it be solely a battle of wits on the debate stages before a national audience? Is that were the campaign should be waged? Is that not conceding and meeting the enemy on their own turf? The deck would be heavily stacked against Mr. Gingrich in such a contest. I fear that the battle would be uphill.
Representative Dr. Ron Paul has already conceded the fact that he does not expect to be President. Rather, Rep. Paul is leading a movement that has been building roots and is focused more on pressuring some concessions from the GOP and whoever ends up being the nominee this year. Rep. Paul’s battleground is the entire Washington establishment and he is not solely focused on ousting President Obama. He is the anti-establishment candidate this year even while leading his charge from within an established party. Even though I suspect that he will not win the GOP nomination much less the presidency, really the 2012 election hinges upon him and his loyal base of supporters. Will Rep. Paul be able to move the 2012 GOP platform or will he be marginalized enough that he is forced to run a third-party candidacy that will allow him to continue to air his message but will also ensure President Obama’s reelection? If he doesn’t run as a third-party candidate, will he be able to rally his supporters to the Republican nominee? Will some of them support President Obama or just not vote at all? The answers to these questions will determine the outcome of the general election more than anything.
How far are Rep. Paul and his supporters willing to take their battle? Will they rally together with the GOP nominee to end Obama’s miserable presidency while working from within the GOP for change? Will he derail the whole process with a futile third-party run? These questions are far from being answered, but they must be asked.
Former Governor Mitt Romney is the most even-keeled candidate in this race. He has not been overly passionate in the debates. Rather, he has been the bar against which all of the other candidates have been compared. While other candidates jump up and then drop back down in this race, he has not. That steady reliability is probably what will win Mr. Romney the GOP nomination. Mr. Romney has laid out his credentials from the private sector. This is where Mr. Romney wants to wage his campaign against President Obama. The fact that Mr. Romney has been both a public and private sector leader is precisely where his campaign should be focused. President Obama had no prior leadership roles and no executive experience when he was elected president and look where that got us. While I believe that Mr. Romney would be able to wage a strong battle against President Obama on that front, I’m also concerned about the attack from behind, mainly Romney Care. Unless Mr. Romney does a better job of explaining how he plans to dismantle the Obama Care plan and how it contrasts with what he envisioned for the program in Massachusetts that Obama Care was supposedly fashioned after, there will be those attacks on him all the way through November.
Will Mr. Romney be able to focus the bulk of the battle against President Obama’s lackluster economic policies while fending off attacks on his supposed public record in Massachusetts? Will the GOP base need to be rallied more so by Mr. Romney or will the mere thought of ousting President Obama be enough of a rallying cry? Will there be a subversive attack against Mormonism to raise unsubstantiated fears about the Mormon church having undue influence over our government? These are all things that Mr. Romney must be prepared to face when it comes to the general election. While most of it has already been discussed at length in the Republican primary, the general election is a whole new battle.
Former Senator Rick Santorum pulled off an amazing win in Iowa, but his strengths have not translated into real national momentum. I tend to see Mr. Santorum more in the lines of former President George W. Bush. He espouses what I consider to be compassionate conservative ideas. He has a strong moral center, but has not been as strong in fiscal matters where some of his congressional spending habits were a bit too bloated for Tea Party tastes today. However, Mr. Santorum wages a strong war on the moral relativism that has come upon this country and which increased under the hand of President Obama. Mr. Santorum is also a strong supporter for the working class who have struggled during the Obama presidency and many of whom are also fed up with the democratic support of union leadership. But will it be enough?
Will Mr. Santorum be able to win the hearts of those longing for a better economic future with a sound economic policy while allaying the fears of those in the Tea Party that he will not continue on the congressional spending sprees of years past? Will he be able to bring his moral center to the general election without raising the concerns of those with different beliefs? Right now I think his lack of a strong economic policy coupled with the concerns of his congressional record will be too much to overcome.
The 2012 Republican primary has some very distinct battles going on, but in the end we must all focus on doing what’s best for this country by defeating President Obama.