Trying to figure out why someone supports a given candidate can always be a difficult and frustrating endeavor, so instead of answering the same question a zillion times on Twitter and elsewhere, I thought I'd do my best to explain my thinking here.
At the beginning of this race, I decided on five criteria that I'd like to see in a President:
1. Executive experience in business or government, preferably both.
2. Knowledgeable on the issues
3. Ideologically conservative
4. Relatively scandal-free
5. Able to get broad, bipartisan support.
12 months ago, there were a number of candidates who fit most or all of these criteria: they included Tim Pawlenty, Haley Barbour, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman,Mitch Daniels, Bob McDonnell, Mike Huckabee, and others. At the very beginning,I wanted Huckabee to join the race. I think he could have run the optimistic 'believe in America' campaign that a lot of Americans are looking for after the Obama nightmare. When he decided not to run, I decided to support Tim Pawlenty.I felt that he was energetic, likeable, knowledgeable on the issues: a more conservative 'generic Republican' who did not have the RomneyCare liability like Mitt does. Well, the voters decided they didn't like him (because,boring!) and he dropped out after the Ames Straw Poll.
At that point, I was a little depressed but 'so what?' I thought. Politics is about ideas, so I decided to take a look at Rick Perry.
For about a month, I really liked what Rick Perry was saying. He was telling the truth about our entitlement programs and about the out-of-control spending happening in Washington DC. He presented a bold plan to deal with the entitlement crisis and to balance the budget. He really seemed like a candidate who cared deeply about the issues facing America. I watched some of the debates, and unlike many of my friends, my support for Perry didn't disappear with his cringe-inducing performances.Instead, my support for Perry vanished because of four elements: 1. The anti-gay ad in Iowa. I don't really care about 'teh gay' but this was political pandering at its worst. Overwhelmingly, voters care about jobs and the economy and you're telling us that we should care about gay soldiers and prayer in school? Come ON man! 2. Saying that TARP was 'the biggest act of theft in American history.' Say what you will about TARP (I think it needed to be done given the circumstances) but the idea that it was the greatest theft in American history is absurdity on steroids. Rick Perry was perpetuating the myth that hundreds of billions of dollars were handed to banks never to be seen again. Forget that most of the money has been repaid: theft! 3. His insistence that we eliminate entire cabinet-level departments in the federal government without ever going into detail about what would happen to the actual functions those departments perform. Even a basic plan of what you would do with the activities and the people in those departments would have been helpful.Otherwise, it was just shameless pandering. 4. Joining Newt Gingrich's silly attacks on Bain Capital. As someone who claims to be an economic conservative,he should have known better than to use phrases like 'vulture capitalism' and perpetuating the liberal lie that 'the rich' are somehow screwing everyone else through greed and manipulation. Fail.
At this point, I was left with Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman. Had Jon Huntsman sold himself as a conservative with a solid record, things might have been different. Unfortunately, he tried to convince everyone he was a liberal, and you know how that went. At this point, the only candidate left who comes even close to meeting my criteria is Mitt Romney. Yes,I'm aware of his weaknesses on health care. Yes, I'm aware of his flip-flops.Yes, I'm aware of his alleged timidity. Yes, I'm aware he's not particularly likeable. None of that matters.
The bottom line is this: if Republicans are going to win in 2012, it will be because America repudiates the Obama economic agenda. We need to nominate the candidate who can best keep the country's focus on Obama's terrible jobs record and present a solid, believable plan to clean up the mess. We do NOT need a candidate whose personal flaws and baggage become the focus of the campaign. If we allow that, we'll most likely lose in a horrible, embarrassing way.
There is too much at stake to blow this election on a temper tantrum.
Mitt Romney for President.
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