The GOP Candidates: Sizing Up The Competition

four candidates


Republican presidential candidates, from left, Ben Carson, Donald Trump, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush pose for a group picture during the CNN Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, in Simi Valley, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Republican presidential candidates, from left, Ben Carson, Donald Trump, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush pose for a group picture during the CNN Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, in Simi Valley, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

With fifteen candidates battling for the coveted prize of Republican Presidential nominee, and the next debate scheduled for Wednesday, October 28, I thought it might be a good time to compare and contrast our GOP lineup.

The polls fluctuate from day to day, but six candidates consistently stay in the top tier. They are, in no particular order, Carly Fiorina, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz. That leaves nine who seem to stay at the bottom of the pack. Again, in no particular order, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, Rand Paul, John Kasich, Chris Christie, Jim Gilmore and Mike Huckabee. I look for several of these last candidates to start backing out of the race over the next few weeks. Since it is doubtful at this time that any of these last nine will overtake the top six, I will limit my analysis to the top tier of candidates.

Trump has been the front-runner, but Ben Carson is closing in on him, and even pulling ahead of him, depending on the poll. Third place seems to fluctuate between Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, with Carly Fiorina and Ted Cruz trading places day to day. Of these six candidates, three of them are political outsiders, Trump, Carson and Fiorina, which seems to be a large part of their appeal.

Donald Trump: on the upside, he is larger than life, with a strong personality. His campaign is self-financed, which keeps him from having to please any special interest groups. He shakes things up because he speaks his mind, saying what most everyone else is thinking, but would probably never have the nerve to vocalize. He has been a public figure for many years, so he has great name recognition. On the downside, he does not have a lot of depth as a candidate; his political rhetoric is not substantive. He is not well versed in foreign policy, which is and will continue to be of major importance in our country. His political and moral views have fluctuated over the years, and he remains controversial. He alienated the Hispanic population with his derogatory comments about the character of Mexican illegals, and with his immigration policy. He has personally attacked most of the other GOP candidates repeatedly, including a scathing remark about Carly Fiorina’s physical appearance. His performance in the debates has been mediocre, although that has obviously not cost him politically. Overall, I would say that as the field narrows, his lack of political knowledge will become more apparent, and that could cost him among serious voters. I think Hillary Clinton would destroy him in a debate.

Dr. Ben Carson: on the upside, he is a highly intelligent and renowned neurosurgeon. He is a self-made man, who grew up in poverty, but who managed to beat the statistics and become hugely successful. He is a deeply spiritual and devoted family man, who speaks about traditional values with a common sense delivery which appeals to the conservative base. He gained public attention at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, where he openly criticized the direction of the country in front of a noticeably uncomfortable President Obama. Carson, like Trump, speaks his mind, and he does not back down with the media. Unlike Trump, he does it in a soft-spoken and non-confrontational way. On the downside, he also lacks knowledge on foreign policy. He has performed decently well in the debates, but his low-key manner is not what we normally see in a presidential candidate. Some voters might think he could be easily trounced by political heavyweights. I think Dr. Carson has the intelligence to problem solve, and to surround himself with the right people to make up for any deficit he has in political knowledge.

Carly Fiorina: on the upside, she is a successful former Hewlett Packard executive who has considerable experience in international business, as well as personal connections with many of the foreign leaders in both the public and private sector. She is the only female candidate in the GOP, and that negates Hillary Clinton’s edge with those that would like to see the first female President. She has performed very well in the debates, managing to move out of the lower tier of candidates after the first Republican debate. She is articulate, exudes self-confidence, and she can hold her own against Donald Trump and her other male competitors. On the downside, she comes across aloof, and she has not managed to connect with voters on a personal level. However, she would be a formidable opponent in a debate with Hillary Clinton.

Marco Rubio: on the upside, he is a product of the American dream, the son of Cuban immigrants, which makes him appealing to Hispanics. His modest upbringing gives him the ability to relate to the lower and middle class voters more easily than say, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush or Carly Fiorina. He is a young family man with traditional values, and he comes across as very authentic, with a genuine concern for the welfare of the United States at home and abroad. He is a first term US Senator, but prior to that, he served in the House of Representatives in Florida for eight years, the last two of them as Speaker of the House. He is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and he speaks knowledgeably on foreign policy. On the downside, it is questionable as to whether he can raise the money he will need to stay in the race, and he is still relatively unknown to a large percentage of voters.

Jeb Bush: on the upside, he is a former Governor of Florida and a member of the “first family of Republican politics”, but his last name is both a blessing and a curse. He is an establishment politician, although probably more moderate in his views than his brother or father. He has tremendous financial backing, and a well-seasoned campaign staff. On the downside, he has underperformed in the polls and in the debates. He lacks passion in his message, and his personality and demeanor may be too lackluster to attract much of a following. His weak debate skills may continue to erode his chances.

Ted Cruz: on the upside, he is as conservative as they come, and arguably, the tea party favorite, but I am not a fan. Like Rubio, he is a first term US Senator, but he has the least political experience among the three insider candidates, which is not necessarily a bad thing. He is passionate about his positions, and he has garnered exposure for his incendiary remarks about President Obama and about fellow Republicans. On the downside, when I listen to him orate, I feel like I am at a tent revival. To me, he comes across as contrived and pompous. He doesn’t have a lot of name recognition, and it’s doubtful that he can raise the funds he’ll need to stay in the running.

Personally, if I had to vote today, I would vote for Ben Carson, with Marco Rubio running a close second. We need integrity and authenticity in our president, and both of these men have it in spades. I think a Carson/Rubio ticket would be a winner, with Rubio giving Carson the foreign policy background, and Carson providing the anti-establishment appeal. According to a Quinnipiac Poll, one of the swing states in the 2016 Presidential election will be Florida. If Rubio does not manage to make it into the top spot, he will be a smart choice for the number two slot. He can definitely deliver Florida to the GOP.

Don’t Rule Out Biden

Biden not running

Well, I have to admit I was surprised to hear Vice President Joe Biden say that he will not be entering the 2016 Presidential race. I was sure he would run. Something about this just does not make sense to me, though.

First, it is no secret that Joe Biden is interested in the Presidency. He has entered two primaries before, though unsuccessfully, and at his age, this is more than likely his last shot. Before his death in May, his son Beau, even encouraged his Father to run for office in 2016. In fact, Biden has cited his grief over his son’s death as the main reason he does not feel up to the challenge of a grueling campaign.

Secondly, I cannot see the DNC taking a chance on having Bernie Sanders as their candidate if Hillary Clinton’s legal issues implode her campaign. Maybe they know something that we don’t. Joe Biden would be a logical choice for the DNC, and he has enjoyed very favorable poll ratings, despite not being an official candidate. He actually fared better against Republican candidates than Hillary did in a recent Quinnipiac University poll.

Finally, Biden certainly has more real political experience than Hillary Clinton does, with his 36 years in the Senate, and two terms as Vice-President. Beyond that, people actually like him. There is a running joke about Biden’s political gaffes and blunders, but I think it is sometimes part of his appeal. He is authentic and genuine, where Hillary is fake and scripted. While I do not agree with his political views, I think he truly believes his and President Obama’s agenda is helping America. I also think he is sincere in his desire to serve his country. Hillary is only interested in serving Hillary.

His announcement today was also interesting in that it came across as more of a campaign speech than an “I am not running for office” speech. In his lengthy dialog, he managed to take a shot at Hillary when he said that “Republicans are not our enemy”. He has made this remark several times now, and it is obviously a reference to a comment Hillary made during the Democratic Debate, when she was asked who she was most proud to have as an enemy.

It may be that Biden will just be waiting in the wings to resurrect the Democrat’s chances should Hillary’s campaign take a plunge. I am just guessing here, but I don’t think that we have seen the last of Joe Biden.

The Left’s Latest Move on Gun Control

Dont tread on meIn case you missed it on Tuesday evening’s Democratic Debate, Hillary Clinton is formulating a new strategy to further her agenda for gun control. Going after Bernie Sanders on the gun issue, she said, “Senator Sanders did vote five times against the Brady bill. Since it was passed, more than two million prohibited purchases have been prevented.  He also did vote, as he said, for this immunity provision.  Everybody else has to be accountable, but not the gun manufacturers.  And we need to stand up and say: Enough of that.”

Her reference to making gun manufacturers accountable goes to the “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act”, which was passed in 2005 under President George W. Bush, and which she voted against. It was a victory for the NRA, who called it a significant piece of pro-gun legislation. The law shields gun manufacturers from liability from the harm caused by the unlawful or criminal misuse of their products. In outlining her plans for stricter gun control, Clinton called the law dangerous, saying, “It is past time to repeal this law and hold the gun industry accountable just like everyone else.”

Bill O’Reilly pointed out on Wednesday night’s “O’Reilly Factor”, that Hillary Clinton’s proposal is a way for the Democrats to get around the second amendment, saying, “If the federal government allows lawsuits against gun makers that would destroy the industry, as liberal lawyers would sue them into bankruptcy”.

Clinton’s strict views are most likely politically motivated. She is setting herself apart from her main competition, Bernie Sanders, who has not been aggressive on gun control. Coming from Vermont, the country’s most gun-friendly state, Sanders sees gun control as primarily an issue for the individual states. Incidentally, Vermont boasts the lowest incidence of gun-related crime. Clinton’s views were quite different in 2008, when she was running against then Senator Obama for the Democratic nomination. She denounced his comment about small town working-class voters who, “get bitter and cling to guns or religion”. In a speech in Valparaiso, Indiana, Clinton openly disagreed with the remark by recalling her own childhood,

You know, my dad took me out behind the cottage that my grandfather built on a little lake called Lake Winola outside of Scranton and taught me how to shoot when I was a little girl. Some people now continue to teach their children and their grandchildren. It’s part of culture. It’s part of a way of life. People enjoy hunting and shooting because it’s an important part of who they are. Not because they are bitter.”

It will be interesting to see how Hillary Clinton’s extremes on gun control will play out with the voters. She might want to consult with her husband, who has commented that his administration’s 1995 ban on assault weapons might have been instrumental in Al Gore’s 2000 Presidential election defeat.

Time To Narrow The Field

I was surprised to see Governor Scott Walker exit the 2016 Presidential race as quickly as he did. I would have sooner expected Senator Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, Governor Bobby Jindal, or Jim Gilmore to step down first. At least Scott Walker was among the top ten candidates in the last two Republican debates.  I think we are at a point now where we need to winnow a few more. How about Graham, Pataki, Jindal, Gilmore, Paul, and Kasich? As much as I personally like Rick Santorum, he probably needs to bow out as well. Paul and Kasich have stayed in the top ten so far, but I think they are most likely at the bottom of the pack. We need to start weeding out some candidates so we can get a better read on how the remaining are really polling among voters. The debates will be more substantive if we can get a more manageable number, and each candidate will have more air time to make their case.

A Biden Candidacy

DemsThere is a fair amount of speculation as to whether Vice-President Joe Biden will enter the Democratic Primary race for the 2016 Presidential Election. The current contenders are Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the latter a self-proclaimed Socialist. Clinton has long been considered the leading candidate for the Democrats in 2016, but her legal woes with the email controversy may derail her chances. Add to that her ineptitude in the 2012 Benghazi attack, and the fact that a recent Quinnipiac University poll shows that 51% of voters have an unfavorable impression of her, and her candidacy may just implode. Biden, on the other hand, ranks favorably in that same poll, as well as enjoying a lead over Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.

At this time, the Vice-President is undecided on a possible candidacy, citing his emotional state after the recent death of his son, Beau Biden, the former attorney general of Delaware. Reportedly, Beau Biden’s dying wish was that his father would run for president in 2016, and his brother, Hunter, has urged his father to enter the race. Aside from his positive poll numbers, the Vice-President would likely have the blessing of President Obama, and that would appeal to those voters who would like to see the “Hope and Change” of the present administration continue.

The Democratic Party may likely see Biden as their best chance to retain residency of the White House for another term. Although Bernie Sanders is leading Clinton in states like New Hampshire, many political pundits doubt he will ride his current wave of popularity into the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. His extreme political views are likely the reason the media does not treat him as a serious candidate, and why Hillary ignores him.

The spotlight will be on Vice-President Biden as the country awaits his decision, which is sure to come sooner than later. If he does decide to throw his hat in the ring, the Democratic race will quickly become a lot more interesting.

Why Romney Should Run in 2016

Romney Can WiMitt Romneyn In 2016


          Donald Trump and Ben Carson are currently the top two candidates in the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary, with Carly Fiorina holding in third.  With political outsiders in the lead, voters are saying they are tired of establishment politicians.

          Although these candidates are highly intelligent and successful individuals, their common appeal may be their political undoing. We are living in a dangerous world, and ultimately, we will need a leader who can handle himself or herself on the world stage. None of these three has experience in government protocol, legislating, or foreign relations.

Enter Mitt Romney. Although Romney has not declared himself a candidate in the 2016 Presidential race, he still has time. History has a strange way of repeating itself. In 1960, Richard Nixon lost his bid for the Presidency to John F. Kennedy, but came back in 1968 to win against Hubert Humphrey. In 1976, Ronald Reagan lost out in the primary against Gerald Ford, but came back in 1980 and beat incumbent Jimmy Carter. It can happen.

Romney is a devoted family man with a proven business background, and he is a polished and charismatic Statesman. He embodies the best qualities of Trump and Carson. While he does have a political background, he is not a Washington insider, or a career politician.

Mitt Romney is a thoroughly vetted candidate and this places him in a unique position. While the current candidates exchange insults and claw their way to the top of the pack, Romney can afford to sit out this portion of the process. Like Nixon before him, he can wait and announce his candidacy just before the New Hampshire primary, and rescue the Republican Party in the process.

Trump’s Personal Attacks on Candidates Getting Old

If Donald Trump wDonald Trumpants to call out his fellow candidates, he needs to do it on substance and not on personal attacks. He hit an all time low at the Values Voters Summit in Washington, D. C. today when he called Senator Marco Rubio a “clown”. His comment brought boos from the crowd.

A few weeks ago, he was insulting Carly Fiorina’s appearance, with “look at that face”. Now really Mr. Trump, this is not high school. If you want to degrade your opponents, find something in their platform that you disagree with, or that you think is off the mark. If you want to present yourself to the American public as a viable candidate for President, you should strive to come across as Presidential.These juvenile comments are beneath anyone who seriously considers themselves Presidential material.