SURVEYING THE (POCK-MARKED)
REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL FIELD
Thursday, December 29, 2011
by Richard E. Berg-Andersson
As I type this piece, Iowa's "first in the Nation" caucuses are less than a week away and New Hampshire's "first in the Nation" Presidential Primary but a week thereafter. It is actually rather hard for me to believe that the 2012 pre-National Convention Primary/Caucus "season" is really just about to get underway... but such is, in fact, the case and, therefore, it is now time to preview what this writer best perceives while looking at the Republicans, the Major Party currently out of power as regards the Presidency (with the incumbent, Democrat Barack Obama, seemingly headed for re-nomination without a serious challenge from within his own Party):
The Republican Party US is, in reality, in at least some trouble going into 2012 to begin with. This may seem more than a bit counterintuitive considering the current state of the American (not to also mention the Global) Economy while, yes, a Democrat currently occupies the White House but there is, first of all, that old political adage to the effect that, if the principal issue in a national election is National Security, the Republicans tend to benefit while, when the Economy is the primary concern, it generally helps the Democrats.
Once the dust and other detritus from the political battlefield that was the 2010 Midterms had finally most fully settled and the 112th Congress- with the Republicans controlling one chamber while the Democrats managed to hold onto the other- had finally gotten down to business as the year 2011 got underway, I thought that what we were about to see unfold would be something similar to that which took place back in 1964: an insurgent (more doctrinairily) conservative faction taking over the Party on the "outs" re: the White House and, while able to field a candidate of principle (their principles!), only ending up losing the Presidential Election itself.
Of late, however, I have been beholding similarities to something more along the lines of 1948: in which an incumbent President eligible for re-election (and also- like Obama- a Democrat) was besieged on three sides: by 'Establishment' Republicans; by conservative Populists (in 1948, these were primarily the 'Dixiecrats' who ended up bolting the Democratic Party in order to wage a Third Party campaign; going into 2012, said Populists are represented primarily by the 'Tea Party' Movement- split between those [the larger number] who are trying to influence, where not outright take over, the Republican Party and those [a minority] who still dream of a Third 'Tea' Party apart from the two Majors); and by the disaffected Left (in 1948, these formed the Progressive Party of Henry A. Wallace which only ended up, in more than a few cases, fronting for the Communist Party USA; in contrast, the 'Occupy' Movement going into 2012 seems either unable or unwilling to either create such a Third Party or at least seriously contest Obama from within the Democratic Party and it also seems highly unlikely- despite claims to the contrary from, in particular, many a 'Tea Party'er- that 'Occupy' as a whole will become merely a front for Anarchists and Nihilists who did lurk within many an 'Occupy' encampment over the past few months).
Back in 1948, the Democratic incumbent was pushed into the Center (in which a presidential candidate most needs to be in order to win, let alone govern after said victory) by the resultant political triangulation, which is why Harry Truman- despite at least one famous newspaper headline trumpeting otherwise- nonetheless won... it seems likely, if only at the time of this typing, that much the same thing might well take place in 2012...
we, of course, have yet to see but this is precisely why the Republicans are, however strangely, the ones in trouble-- at least at the start!
Secondly: in the case of a Grand Old Party which would, other than what I have just opined, be in a great position to seize the Presidency as a result of the continuing economic woes besetting the Obama Administration, a major problem is simply that said Party still needs its own 'Grand Old Establishment' in order to win while it is much of said 'Establishment' that is being blamed for the recent economic problems to begin with: for most titans of Industry and lords of Finance tend to be the more conservative and, thus, hardly likely to support the re-election of President Obama yet it is from these very persons (persons with large wallets and even larger bank accounts that fund national political campaigns, by the way) that the 'Tea Party' Movement has sought to take away "their" Republican Party!
And these titans of Industry and lords of Finance are certainly not helping ease the 'Tea Party' Movement's loathing: one of said titans/lords recently appeared on a cable network business channel I happened to be watching and repeated the oft-stated mantra that those in the 'Occupy' Movement should, more or less, "stop whining and get jobs" before further opining that, were these to do so, "they, too, could be part of the 1 percent"... all of which merely goes to show that this particular titan/lord simply doesn't "get it":
for he did not at all suggest that the "1 percent" might someday include at least 2 percent (if not even more!)... then again, the historic tendency of elites- of whatever type- is to not be all that much enamored of so expanding its own membership in any event!
At any rate: whether one be leftie 'Occupy'er or rightie 'Tea Party'er, so being told- in effect- that the "great Unwashed" on either side of the American ideological divide "need not apply" is a pill not likely to be swallowed all that well by denizens of either Movement... yet it is these very titans/lords that whomever wins the 2012 Republican presidential nomination will need in order to fill his (or her) campaign coffers come the Fall campaign: the eventual GOP presidential nominee, thereby, faces something of a 'Hobson's Choice'-- maintain 'Tea Party'-style "purity" (where not also "puritanism"!) in political discourse leading up to the General Election?-- or try and actually win the next Presidential Election in the usual manner a Republican presidential candidate, once nominated, must utilize?!
Having noted all this (by way of overview), I will now take a look at at least the leading contenders (that is: as of this typing [again, a little less than a week before the Iowa caucuses]) for the Republican Party's next presidential nomination:
We'll start with Texas Congressman Ron Paul- if only because he happens to be topping the latest (and most reliable) polls coming out of Iowa as I type this:
By all accounts, Congressman Paul, one-time Libertarian Party candidate for President (back in 1988), who ran as a libertarian Republican presidential candidate in 2008 is the GOP presidential contender most "on message"; the problem, however, is in just what Congressman Paul's message actually is: for as true as he might be to his own views and principles (certainly laudable in a politician, even where I myself might disagree- even, at times, strongly- with him), those views are just not all that popular-- even amongst many conservatives.
For instance: when asked about the re-training of people for jobs that are- despite the recent economic downturn- lacking bodies with which to fill them, Paul has proposed a system of apprenticeship at lower wages that sounds like something much more amenable to a system of guilds in the England of the late Middle Ages than it might be within the economic system of a continentally-based superpower of the 21st Century... and, when even conservative Republicans contemplate such a thing, they don't at all see the relationship Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge once had with "Old Fezziwig" but, rather, much more perceive the later relationship one Bob Cratchit had with Scrooge himself!
And, where Congressman Paul talks about "weaning" the country ("weaning" being a most insulting term, actually: as it all too strongly implies the voter-as-child) off of such as Social Security and/or Medicare, he refers to the days when religious institutions were the principal charitable organizations of society... yet one cannot help but hear, in the back of one's mind, the phrase "Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?" from that very same one of Dickens' most popular literary works.
Paul also talks about (to here use the title of one of his own books) "end(ing) the Fed"-- that is: dismantling the Federal Reserve System, which would be the best way to destabilize the value of the American dollar (but who knows? Perhaps something along the lines of the German hyperinflation of the early 1920s might actually be most desirable to some people, though my own sense is that most of those who so wildly applaud "end(ing) the Fed" don't really know any better ["uh... hyper-what?!" ;-)])
He is, however, not all that above engaging in the abject fear-mongering found within the campaigns of many other Republican presidential contenders (minus only these others' at times blatant Islamophobia). For example: Congressman Paul has recently talked about- among other things- the United Nations potentially taking over the American money supply (while, as someone who knows quite a bit, from a long period of studying the subject of international relations [admittedly as one of my many strange hobbies and pastimes over the years and decades], about the history, development and organization of the UN, I have absolutely no idea just what he is talking about! But, of course, I certainly realize that actually knowing about something is not even the issue here [many of the e-mails I have received at The Green Papers over the dozen years this website has been online has certainly taught me that my even admitting I know a lot about the United Nations already taints me- among all too many- as being at least somewhat "un-American"... which, of course (where not also obviously, were one to actually peruse that which I have contributed, over the past dozen or so years, to the many pages of this website), is the purest drivel!]...
in the end, this well reminds me of something from my Boston University days some three and a half decades ago now, when I attended a party which included someone who was not only a "UFO buff" but also incredulous that I (especially since I had actually taken a few Astronomy courses at B.U. [at the time, in fact, I was taking a course in Cosmology-- my mistake was in my even having mentioned it to this guy!]) did not accept the (to him) "obvious fact" that extraterrestrial beings quite regularly visited Earth. "Well", he said- almost resignedly regarding his failure to so convince me of that which he most fervently, where not also strongly, held- "*I* happen to believe that aliens very often come to our planet"; to which my own terse response was "Why?"
My antagonist started to sputter a rejoinder: "Just take a look at the Great Pyramids! How else can you explain- given the limited technology of that time...?"
I interrupted him: "No-- not why do you believe what you might believe!... rather: why would aliens from Space even bother to visit a planet dominated by a foolish and hairless ape, species Homo sapiens!!"
Looking back on this little encounter, I can perceive- within it- at least the germ of what is well behind the fervor the "Paulites" have for their candidate.
At its core, belief that extraterrestrials regularly see Earth as something of a "must visit"- no less, to be fair, than the belief in Man having been created in the Image of God- means that Earth in general- and Humanity in particular- is important... that- damnit!- this small, yet well-watered, speck of rock circling about a otherwise nondescript star- one of Class G along the Main Sequence of a Hertzsprung/Russell Diagram- itself within some outlying arm of the Milky Way Galaxy means something!! ["They like us... the Universe really likes us!!!" [;-)])
Thus: any attempt to convince my protagonist at that long ago party in Allston, Mass. otherwise would have been futile simply because his belief alone was- and is- so necessary, for without it... well... why would advanced civilizations "out there" want to study, or even interact, with we out here in some galactic backwater?
Likewise: beyond the question of how the UN might, somehow (through some bizarre- yet altogether unlikely- circumstances), take over the American dollar, there is the mostly unanswered question of why they would even bother doing so in the first place!
Yet, Congressman Paul's notion that foreigners (of course, mainly through their utilizing some kind of multi-national monolith like the United Nations [even if their doing so makes little, if any, sense in that "real world" in which *I* have to life day in and day out]) are taking direct aim at the "Almighty Dollar" holds great sway among so many out there (and I do mean "out there"! [;-)]): for the very premise, flawed as it might be, is no less than an affirmation that, thereby, the American dollar still means something, is important within a global economic whirlwind of euros and rubles, yen and yuan (after all: Economics 101- something is only a thing of value if someone else wants it: and just how valuable would the US dollar be if no one were so trying to control it?). And this is why an attempt to argue with the average 'Paulite' against their man's contention on this score by someone, such as yours truly, who actually knows stuff is altogether useless-- for the knowledge I might have is here nowhere near as important as the mythos in which the truest believer believes- indeed, must believe: come hell or high water!
Put another way: It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument-- so said William McAdoo (President Woodrow Wilson's Treasury Secretary [as well as Wilson's son-in-law]; unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination during the 1920s and later U.S. Senator from California]).
Four years ago, Congressman Paul's campaign survived long enough to gain delegate votes on the floor of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul (though not quite a many delegate votes as he might otherwise have received, thanks to a combination of no little chicanery in, above all, Nevada prior to the Convention and misreporting [purposeful or not] of the voting, from the Chair, during the actual Roll Call of the States at the Convention itself: the Republican Party as an institution and the Ron Paul campaign have since "made nice" as regards the official results as reported in the final version of the Journal of that Convention [to the point that this writer has received a fair number of angry communications asking why The Green Papers continues to report the 2008 Republican Convention presidential nomination vote as if such changes were never made. My answer: as a Commentator, I was commenting on the Convention I actually watched, as opposed to some later fantasy- conjured up for institutional political purposes- of what that Convention, perhaps, should have done in the first place (Horrors! Someone- especially an Internet-based journalist, of all people!- writing about what had really happened!!): simply put, unlike a political Party, *I* don't really feel the need to engage- indeed, should not even engage- in such abject Revisionism!] but this does not at all change the fact that- back in 2008- Ron Paul did get royally screwed by the powers-that-were and, in some case, continue to be within the Grand Old Party [though not anywhere near the level often claimed since then by many a Ron Paul-supporting (where not even worshipping!) "conspiracy theorist"]... and please know, dear reader, that- despite the aforementioned "making nice" so enshrined within the pages of the now-official Journal of the '08 GOP Convention- those very same screws are already emerging again now as Paul shows such strength in the polling!)
In any event: the question well begs, can the purveyor of a message including that which I have already outlined above actually win the Republican presidential nomination to begin with (let alone the Presidential Election itself)? Especially as, however 'Scrooge-like' or not, the very aforementioned titans/lords who- as I've already said- bankroll the Grand Old Party certainly wouldn't want the Federal Reserve system itself to go down! But don't worry, all of you who might fear the specter of Ron Paul as President, for not only the screws used back in 2008 but even the most steely of knives have already been pulled out from the deep pockets of the Republican 'Establishment': references to racist newsletters more than two decades ago; a person (one described- by the Ron Paul 2012 campaign- as a "disgruntled employee") publicly expressing the wackier, as it were, views of the septuagenarian Texan still seeking to become our Nation's Commander-in-Chief...
Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now, therefore, and let us slay him...: and we shall see what will become of his dreams [Genesis 37:19b & 20 (excerpted): King James Version]... for the methodology is ancient and the slaying need not be at all literal!
The conventional wisdom is that many, if not most, of those who would very much like to so "slay" the dreams of Ron Paul and his supporters are most likely to support former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (currently a close second behind Ron Paul in the best polling of Iowa). It is also the conventional wisdom that, amongst all of the current field of GOP hopefuls, Romney is the Republican Party's best hope of defeating President Obama come November.
I happen to agree with the conventional wisdom (at least until it is proven otherwise) precisely because Romney once- less than a decade ago now, in fact- was actually elected Governor of what is, arguably, the most liberal State in the Nation! Clearly, he has already proved that he can potentially attract the votes of more moderate Republicans who make up an at least significant portion of the "bell curve" of the American electorate in the center of the ideological spectrum, a center that will- as usual (unlike hard-core "true believers" to either the left or the right)- ultimately determine just who will be inaugurated President of the United States on the steps of the West Front of the United States Capitol come Noon Eastern Time on Monday 21 January 2013 (why the 21st this time, by the way? Because the 20th will be on a Sunday that year and it has long been customary, in such a case, for the person elected President in the most recent election to take the Oath of Office "privately" on such a Sunday and then wait to take the Oath in a more public ceremony until the next day [to those of you who still sincerely believe Ronald Reagan so delayed his Second Inaugural back in 1985 primarily because the constitutionally appointed day just happened to be that on which Super Bowl XIX was being played, I can only say: "BZZZZZZZ-- but thanks for playing!"])...
however, and at the same time: these moderate Republicans whom Romney has the best chance to attract to his cause are the very GOP'ers the more conservative within the Party- 'Tea Party' or no, "Paulite" or no- tend to refer to as "RINOs" (that is: 'Republicans In Name Only') and the invective launched against Romney by the "anti-RINO" crowd- should he, early on in the upcoming Primary/Caucus season, seem to be catching on as the most likely Republican nominee (via his doing well in, where not actually winning, Iowa; winning New Hampshire; and then holding his own in a South Carolina thought to be potentially hostile to Romney because of his Mormonism)- might well be rivaled only by that used against his own father by the likes of the late William Loeb, publisher of the Manchester Union-Leader back in the "good old days" [;-)], who was not- back in 1968- at all above referring to George Romney (then Governor of Michigan) as "that wetback" (because George Romney happened to have been born in Mexico to Mormons who, despite their presence in Mexico, remained American citizens-- no, Barack Obama was not the first seeker of the Presidency to be the target of so-called "Birthers"!)
The situation, then, is here rather simply grasped: Mitt Romney must yet run a gauntlet of the barbs of many a fellow Republican before he can claim the presidential nomination that he, of course, must claim in order to even have the chance to take on President Obama in the Fall; but this not at all changes my view that only he- at least right now (and, obviously, this could always change-- and quickly, too!)- is the Grand Old Party's best hope as regards winning the White House in 2012.
Now, note well- gentle reader- two important caveats: 1. this does not mean any other current GOP presidential contender who might otherwise win the Party's nomination (even Ron Paul, should he so succeed) can't win nor 2. does it mean that Romney will beat Obama should he be the GOP nominee after all... all this is is merely an observation that Mitt Romney is the one presidential candidate- seemingly above all others- who can potentially appeal to the largest number of 'Grand Old Establishment' Republican voters... voters that (the 'Tea Party' and Ron Paul be damned) the Republicans need to attract come the Fall of 2012.
Now we must come to the presidential candidacy of one Newt Gingrich, former Congressman from Georgia and one-time Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (currently a close third behind Mitt Romney and Ron Paul in the best polling of Iowa).
By way of disclaimer, let me just inform the reader of this piece that I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, Mr. Gingrich's biggest fan. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Newt Gingrich gets my own vote for 'worst Speaker of the United States House of Representatives since at least 1900'...
"What?", I can already hear many a conservative (Gingrich-supporter or no) crying, "what about Nancy Pelosi?"... well... why do so many conservatives so despise Mrs. Pelosi? Primarily because she successfully rammed through the Federal House of Representatives many an element of the Democratic Party agenda they so disdain...
which, of course, is what a Speaker of the House (regardless of Party or ideology) is supposed to do!
By contrast, most of Gingrich's 'Contract with America' was not even adopted by a House dominated by Republicans in the immediate wake of the so-called "Gingrich Revolution" (the big victory by the GOP in the 1994 Midterm Elections in the midst of Bill Clinton's first term in the White House)... say what you will: the "Reagan Revolution" was at least somewhat long-lasting; but Gingrich's own "Revolution" lasted, at best, but months!
Ever the apocalyptic back-bencher, even as Republican House whip (a position to which Gingrich ascended because the incumbent, future Vice President Dick Cheney, had been tapped to become George H.W. Bush [#41]'s Secretary of Defense-- one has the distinct impression that Gingrich gained the position for much the same reason Adolf Hitler was named Chancellor of Germany ["We can control him better this way", said former Chancellor Franz von Papen (who became vice-chancellor in Hitler's first Ministry)-- yeah-- right!]), his ascent to the Speakership was the stuff of messianism. I still well remember watching (on C-SPAN) his very first press conferences as Speaker-elect in which he handed out what amounted to a syllabus [!?] of recommended- if not required reading- to his fellow Congressmen (and one still wonders if that first quiz was "open book"!)... my immediate reaction was that, at some point, karma would yet prevail (that is: Gingrich was- later, if not sooner- doomed to fail).
Come the Budget Crisis of 1995, Gingrich's political apocalypticism came back to bite him: while Gingrich and his minions fervently believed that a government shutdown could only harm President Clinton, Clinton- ever the "LBJ style" political operator- played the Republicans in Congress like the proverbial "Stradivarius" (for instance: Clinton negotiating the Dayton accords re: the Balkans while Gingrich "burned"-- thereby deftly playing Napoleon Bonaparte's famous tactical maxim: Never interrupt your enemy while he is making mistakes). The results of all this are, of course, well known: Clinton winning re-election (by running against Gingrich as much as he ran against actual 1996 GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole) with about as many Electoral Votes as he had gained four years before; the quixotic 'Impeachment Crisis' [re: the Monica Lewinsky Affair] in 1998; and Gingrich- despite having just won re-election to an eleventh term in Congress with nearly 71% of the vote in his District in the 1998 Midterms- not only resigning as Speaker, but from Congress altogether!
In short: Gingrich had lost control of his Party (whose new real leader in Congress- despite affable Dennis Hastert as the new Speaker and Dick Armey continuing as Majority Leader- was to be "the Hammer", Tom DeLay) and this whole sorry episode shines a rather bright light on just what Newt Gingrich might well bring to the Presidency
So, just what is Gingrich's core message anyway?: 'Vote for me because at least I'm still not as incompetent as many of my opponents for the nomination'?!
And nothing seemingly portends "incompetence" quite like the name Michelle Bachmann, Congresswoman from Minnesota. She is portrayed- by both her supporters and her detractors (particularly those within the Mainstream Media) alike- as the "darling" of the 'Tea Party' Movement. Granted, while she does enjoy a fair amount of 'Tea Party' support (as does- by the way- Ron Paul, albeit for different reasons), I'm actually rather surprised she's still an active presidential candidate (though this may well be only because former Alaska Governor and 2008 GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin [who really is the "darling" of the 'Tea Party' (at least that larger part of that movement not so enamored by Congressman Paul)] isn't even in the race [Memo to Mrs. Palin: it's already too late, no matter what those who yet adore you might think!]); yet there are still many within the 'Tea Party' (judging from much of the stuff I have received in my e-mail Inbox over the past year or so) who don't like her at all (largely because, after having successfully jumped on a 'Tea Party' bandwagon already getting ready to leave the piazza, she then ran up to the front in order to claim her right to actually steer the jeezly thing!-- sadly, more than enough people associated with the 'Tea Party' Movement so willingly gave her the keys [yet another argument for that concept known as 'the Designated Driver'! ;-)]).
Bachmann has been- if nothing else- this Presidential Election cycle's 'Master of the faux pas'. I've already written an admittedly scathing Commentary about her comments- late this past August- that a 5.8 earthquake felt all up and down the Eastern Seaboard followed, but a few days later, by flooding rains from Hurricane 'Irene' over that same coastline were a message from God to Washington, D.C. (like *I* needed to watch my venetian blinds swing wildly in and out of the windows of my second floor bedroom while still deciding- at least until all the shaking finally subsided- whether or not to "surf the bed" should the floor suddenly give way and then, that following weekend, have wind-driven rain water seep in through the roof above my attic in the middle of the night!... I can assure you my immediate reactions to such natural phenomena did start off with my invoking the name of the Almighty but, The Green Papers being a site that at least high school and junior high/middle school students use from time to time, I won't dare divulge the rest of my utterance here!). Bachmann, predictably, later claimed she was joking (Humor being the last, safest refuge of the scoundrel)--
Perhaps, in the end, Bachmann's own candidacy for the Presidency is the cruelest joke of all for, truth be told, I have neither seen nor heard anything from Mrs. Bachmann in the some four months since I first wrote that August 30 piece that might well have me now considering a change in either mind or opinion. Therefore, the less said after this about her still quite quixotic presidential candidacy, the better.
Then there is Governor Rick Perry of Texas, who jumped into the presidential race seemingly without much real preparation (although I am certain there was much "behind the scenes" work for a long time beforehand). Of all the 2012 GOP presidential candidates who have been the "Republican flavor du jour" (first, a Mrs. Palin who didn't even run; then Bachmann as "Palin Lite"; then Perry [clamored for as an at least palatable alternative to Bachmann]; then businessman [and African-American] Herman Cain [before being driven away from- if not yet officially out of- the nomination sweepstakes by the taint of sexual innuendo]; then Gingrich, if only for a time; and now... Ron Paul?]), Governor Perry seems to have entered the nomination contest merely because it appeared to be the right jour on which to do so!
The best I can fathom is that Perry intended to take a page or two out of the book of the man for whom he had once served as his State's Lieutenant Governor, George W. Bush [#43]- indeed, Perry first ascended to the Governorship when Bush resigned in preparation for becoming President. Perry was going to be the "Common Man"'s candidate- the guy with whom you could quaff a few while knowledgably discussing the best weapons Ruger had to offer: so what if- to here quote 'W.' hisself- the guy happened to "mangle a syl-LAB-le or two"?
Problem is: 'Dub-ya' was running- back in 2000- in what was, in the main, a two-man Republican field... and it was not yet principal challenger John McCain's turn (thus, McCain would have to wait eight years): no, back then, it was 'Dub-ya''s turn!
Perry didn't- and still doesn't- have W.'s luxury: thus, his mangling of syl-LAB-le's and forgetting the names of all the Cabinet departments he intends to disband, if elected and the like doesn't well wash within such a veritable plethora of equally mediocre choices among those seeking the 2012 Republican presidential nomination!
The interest in Iowa, then New Hampshire, followed by South Carolina next month as regards Rick Perry- and, for that matter, Michelle Bachmann- is in how these may well answer this question: just how much longer can their respective candidacies even survive?
Put another way: if either Bachmann or Perry- if not both- are still around as active (however viable or not) presidential contenders well after South Carolina Republicans have voted on Saturday 21 January, then the new "Super Tuesday"- 6 March 2012- should be a real "barnburner"!
And now: a brief word about former Utah Governor (and, for a time, President Obama's Ambassador to China) Jon Huntsman:
Like Romney, Huntsman is a Mormon... unlike re: Romney, very few seem to have much noticed, nor even cared!
This can be viewed as either a good thing or a bad thing: it is good, in that Huntsman seems to have escaped much of the negativity from the Christian evangelical Right directed at Romney (and which may yet cost Romney South Carolina, as I've already said); but it is bad in that it is also quite likely that this may well indicate far too many Republicans may not be aware he is even running!
For Huntsman has adopted a "New Hampshire or Bust!" approach-- he is trying his hardest to win the Granite State's Republican Presidential Primary... and, because of this, he must win New Hampshire or his run for the Presidency is almost certainly over.
Finally, we come to former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. All I can say about Santorum is that he well reminds me of what I thought about the candidacies of Joe Biden and Chris Dodd for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination: why is he even running? Doubtless, his supporters- few as they might be- would say that he is advancing a (mostly sociocultural) conservative agenda that has, in their eyes, become lost in the hands of the other Republican presidential hopefuls...
but does he really have a chance?... or is he just the Republican "Dennis Kucinich"?
Having said all this, just watch Senator Santorum win the Iowa caucuses next week! ;-)
Shortly after the above Commentary had been completed, newly released polling data out of IOWA indicated that Mitt Romney was in first place among likely Republican voters, with Ron Paul in second: Rick Santorum had moved up to third, ahead of Newt Gingrich in fourth place.
Hmmmm... perhaps Senator Santorum can win the Iowa caucuses, after all!