by Tom Donelson on September 27, 2011 at 6:54 PM
The political landscape has changed. Rick Perry's boomlet took off and is now slowly imploding as Rick Perry has had trouble putting sentences together and has proven a less than exhilarating debater. He may be an effective governor and his records shows a record that Obama and even Romney must envy, but in a race where ideas matter, it will be nice to have a President who can explain conservative principles. One of Ronald Reagan's strengths was that he could make conservatism not only understandable to the main street, but he showed that it worked. Perry has yet to demonstrate an ability to explain his philosophy in a way that main street comprehends.
Romney has proven to be a smooth debater and much improved since 2008. For many conservatives, he says most of the right thing, but there is this nagging feeling that Romney can’t be trusted to put conservative ideas in place; beginning with ending Obamacare. Romney has shown the kind of toughness to defend his position, but he has the instinctual ability to pull back when his opponents seem content to destroy themselves.
Michele Bachmann has taken a dive and if Perry collapses, it may not be Michele who takes advantage. She had her moment in the debates, but her attack on the HPV vaccine post second debate may have doomed her or reinforced in the minds of many voters a woman who can often say the wrong thing at the wrong time. For many conservatives, Rick Santorum may be the man who replaces Perry and Bachmann as their alternative to Romney. Santorum has shown deftness in attacking selected opponents, in particular Ron Paul, on foreign affairs and Perry on the governor HPV program that was reversed.
Herman Cain's 9-9-9 program actually catches one imagination both in its simplicity and boldness. 9% income tax, 9% business and 9% national sales tax and you have an economic plan that promotes not only efficiency but fairness since everyone will pay something and participate in the general economy. Cain’s ultimate goal is to eliminate the income tax system with a national sales, tax but his 9-9-9 plan is actually a plan that stands on its own. Even GE and Obama's friend, Jeffrey Immelt will pay taxes. And Warren Buffet's secretary will pay the same rate as Buffet. I like Herman Cain, and I have to admit to the readers that I have worked with Herman Cain as he did PR work for Americas PAC, a group that I presently head.
I must admit the one man who I am getting to like more is Newt Gingrich. There are a hundred reasons not to nominate the guy, not of the least is his prickly personality and past personal life. In debate after debate, Gingrich has shown to be most informed of all the candidates and the one debater who has been consistently brilliant. If there was a guy who can go toe to toe with Obama, and if Obama decides to retire; his replacement including Hillary, it is Gingrich.
Gingrich can claim some significant accomplishments. During the Clinton Presidency, he led the opposition to Clinton's initial plans including Hillarycare, which was the forebear of Obamacare. Gingrich stopped Hillarycare, put together a national agenda that united moderates and conservatives with a plan that captured the House for the Republicans; a first after a five decade in the wilderness for House Republicans. Despite losing his budget battle in 1995, he won the war by getting Clinton to reverse his early leftist trend and move to the center. That included balancing the budget, cutting capital gains tax, passing free trade agreements that represented trillion of dollars in tax cuts for American consumers, welfare reforms, and if he had not resigned and Clinton not been impeached, we may have had serious Medicare and social security reform that would have benefited conservative goals.
The 90’s was a decade of prosperity, and Gingrich played a significant role, but history books will not credit Gingrich. He successfully forced Clinton to the right and strengthened the hand of Democrat moderates including now conservative activist Dick Morris. Compare Gingrich's years as Speaker with Nancy Pelosi's who has proven to be one of the worst and least informed Speakers of the House ever to serve the position. Under her Speakership, we have seen one recession, a recovery not worth much, and her efforts to pass Obama's agenda could lead to another recession. Between Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, we have seen two of the dumbest congressional leaders when it comes to policy. Remember, it was Nancy Pelosi who stated that we needed to pass Obamacare so we can see what's in it. Now that is really good reason to pass a bill.
Gingrich is one of those candidates who the media hates but as he has gotten older, one gets the sense that the Gingrich who screwed up two marriages won’t screw up this one. His conversion to Catholicism seemed to have tempered and the days of a Gingrich sex scandal have long past. Gingrich has been a major player on the national scene as a politician and spent over a decade in the wilderness studying issues. You may not agree with everything he says, but you know the guy has given some thought to it. Not one candidate on the Republican side can match his depth of the issues and accomplishments on a national level. Gingrich would destroy Obama in a debate, and he could actually explain conservatism. Republicans have been looking for the next Reagan and they may be overlooking him, for Gingrich is the closet thing Republicans have to Reagan.