Reader note/up front disclaimer: I am a Perry supporter and havent changed my mind much. The analysis below is meant to be fair.
All through the summer and fall I waited to write this observation. Waited for the right time to see how things were setting and more importantly, for us to get to know the candidates a little better.
I am certainly glad I did, as my mind was changed about a great number of things.
Still. The more things change, the more they remain the same.
We must focus our energy on defeating President Obama and Democrats this fall. To believe other wise is fool hardy and ignores the peril of the past three years.
Whom ever is the candidate, I will vote for.
That doesnt mean they will get my financial support or enthusiam or sign off on volunteering in four years *if* they were to win election.
In the end we must remain true to our conservative principles and focus on breaking the shackles of excessive government forged by this current administration and return America to her greatness.
With that in mind I present to you the following candidate analysis in alphabetal order.
Pros: Arguably our best in-the-trenches fighter. She is tenacious and will not stop. Ever. No question about whether or not she is conservative.
Cons: Shrill. Part of being President of the United States means you must work with the other side while winning. Michelle would try to steam roll them. Not that steam rolling Democrats is a bad idea in the short term - but if you do not have the votes to do so, then what?
The debt ceiling fight is a perfect example. People voted for massive change last November to act as a check against President Obama. However, many did not vote to shut the government down. Some did (including many on this blog). People like my self did not and see it as a failure of leadership on the part of both parties to rise above talking points and do their job for the benefit of the nation.
Conclusion: Would prefer to see her still fighting hard in the House of Representatives and shake up the leadership team a bit. That is her strength. Governing in the executive capacity is not.
Pros: Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Gingrich enacted all the reforms we dream about today - with a Democrat sitting as President of the United States. Balanced budget? Limited government? Newt delivered.
Cons: Since floundering in 1998 and resigning from Congress his solutions sound a bit wonky. I can look past the on-the-couch-with-Pelosi bit. It is the solutions, including backing individual mandates and Heritage did at one point that troubles me greatly.
Infidelity does matter. Just ask Gary Hart.
However, if he honestly got on his knees before God almighty and asked for repentence and made changes - I cannot cast the first stone.
I also have serious reservations regarding what seems to be a haste to use military power in Iran. Do not misunderstand me. We must do what we must do - but to boast about wanting an engagement? Speak softly and carry a big stick.
Then there is the whole judge thing. Yes, judges are out of control. No, you should not usurp Constitutional authority to beat them into submission. Sorry Newt, your wrong on this.
Conclusion: Mixed bag. The man knows how to get it done in the past. I would love to see Newt shread President Obama in an Lincoln-Douglas style debate where we actually get to see what they mean and know. That will not happen.
Pro: Solid, conservative record in Utah. I know, *gasp.* That is the reality of the matter. His plan to fix the economy was given the thumbs up by the Wall Street journal. He fits the bill of credibility in many places, once one examines his record, which we would all hope a conservative would.
Con: Does this guy really want to be a conservative? Working for the Obama administration is a huge strike. Trying to find your nitch during the GOP primary as a “moderate” is bad, bad strategy. The only people who are really jazzed about this guy is, drum roll please, the Washington media.
Conclusion: Huntsman deserved a closer look that what he got. Based on his record and understanding of policy I would vote for him before Romney and Paul. Still, my oldest child was able to point out he was totally avoiding questions during an interview we watched with Bob Schieffer. What does that say?
Pro: I love parts of his libertarian streaks. He is right about being suspecious about the government.
At moments when other candidates feel free to jump on legislation which is poorly thought out or may violate the Constitution Paul speaks up.
I also feel that we should have an official declaration of war during engagements such as Iraq and Afghanistan. I also believe that there are many red flags with the government intruding on basic individual rights. This is what I believe is driving his supporters in Iowa.
Con: His foriegn policy is beyond laughable. I do not have the time or patience to discuss what I would call extremist (near anti-jewish?) views on the middle east and other odds and ends.
Conclusion: If Paul gets the nomination I would vote for him. Yes. Would work like the dickens to make sure Congress would keep him in check and from abandoning our allies and interests across the globe.
Pro: Burried somewhere in all the smears pushed out the door by rival campaigns and scared media types is a proven record of a governor who is generating the most jobs of any other state. Perry gets it on _all_ the issues ranging from Healthcare to medicaid to social security and of course the role of the 10th amendment.
If there ever was someone who was qualified to be President of the United States of America, and who embodied full spectrum conservatism, its Perry.
Con: He’s not The Great Communicator. Lets get that out of the way now.
Perry also had problems during a session with Mike Huckabee when three state attorney generals quested him about how he would tackle healthcare. Instead of specifically citing how the law allows for vouchers, he came across as stating he would create an executive order to repeal any legislation he didnt like. Ugh.
Conclusion: Perry is still my first choice through thick and thin. Ive seen what he did in Texas, and how he understands what this nation needs. He is absolutely correct.
Pro: Battle tested. Willing to do what ever it takes. Conservative principles are at least sketched out. Understands power base and is willing to work with it.
Con: No soul. Changes positions based on what is needed to win.
Conclusion: I will vote for him without any problem if he is the candidate. However I really dunwanna.
His back and forth position on abortion irritates me. How he feels like he doesnt need to be vetted - especially after tearing Huckabee apart for being overly religious - makes my skin crawl.
It also tells the tale of a man who is willing and knows how to do the little things to win a nasty campaign. Never underestimate these people or discard them.
Like Paul (and Newt to a lesser extent), we would need to lean on Congress to keep in check.
Pro: Santorum is a straight shooter. I can think of no one else more consistent with ideas. I like the battles he’s fought and why he fought them.
Cons: Whines too much. Instead of thinking of how to create a message, like Cain’s 999 plan, Santorum whines a lot after debates about time he got to speak.
If you get the big chair, you need to act like it and press ahead. Be creative. Tell us what sets you apart and show us your leadership.