It’s election season, and I think I’ve been away from the blogosphere long enough. There are issues to discuss, events to cover, and politicians to mock! I’ll be writing throughout this election season, and am open to any suggestion to what to blog about. So let the games begin!
We’ll start off slow and easy tonight, just setting up the table for future entries…
At this stage in the election process, the candidate field is still extremely crowded. The race is wide open and there are different scenarios that could play out for each candidate to win each of their respective parties’ nominations. Here’s a snapshot look at some of the candidates’ strengths and weaknesses…
John McCain, U.S. Senator (Arizona)
A former war hero serving in Vietnam, Sen. McCain has been in the Senate for over 20 years. He has had the reputation of being principled, fair-minded, as well as having a slight maverick independent streak. Generally, he is considered to be the candidate of either party to have the most foreign policy experience. Sen. McCain was among the handful of people calling for the “troop surge” that has helped reduce violence in Iraq.
Sen. McCain has not always endeared himself to the Republican Party. He opposed President Bush’s tax cuts and voted against them in 2001. McCain was best known for years for his work on campaign-finance reform that was fiercely opposed by most of the members of his own party. The Senator is also in favor of a pathway of citizenship for illegal immigrants, joining President Bush on the side of legislation in favor of what some call “amnesty for illegals.” Sen. McCain’s age can also be an issue because at 71, he would become the oldest man ever elected to the presidency.
Rudy Giuliani, Fmr. Mayor of New York
“Hizzoner” as he is affectionately called by supporters, Rudy Giuliani rose to notoriety as Mayor of New York City. He served two terms as Mayor, and previously as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in the Reagan Administration. His steady leadership during the 9/11 terrorist attacks gave confidence to an entire nation. Giuliani is seen as a strong leader, a candidate who has had executive experience in New York, being tough on crime and being effective in a city where Democrats outnumber republicans 9 to 1. He has also called for a tough foreign policy and strong national defense. He is a social moderate, pro-choice, pro-gun control, and pro-gay rights. Because of his more moderate views, those in the Giuliani camp will argue that his nomination will put states in play (California, New York, Illinois), that would not normally be winnable for Republicans.
Giuliani, for all intensive purposes is a liberal in terms of social issues. His personal life is also messy, going through two divorces, and questions about his relationship and possible use of city funds for weekends with his current wife. There are also questions on whether the jump from mayor to president is too much and whether or not he is qualified for the office.
Mike Huckabee, Fmr. Governor of Arkansas
Gov. Huckabee has burst on the political scene. Once a third tier candidate best known for being the governor who lost 100 pounds, playing the guitar and doing quirky commercials with Chuck Norris, he shocked the political world by finishing first in the Iowa Caucuses. A former Baptist pastor, Huckabee is extremely devoted to his faith and his political decisions are reflective of that. While he is fiercely pro-life and for traditional marriage, Gov. Huckabee also expounds on the need for government to help people. As governor, he was willing to raise taxes and increase social programs. Gov. Huckabee is one of the most articulate candidates in the field. He has a folksy persona that seems to connect with people.
While Gov. Huckabee’s faith is a strength to some, it is a weakness to others. Also, he has limited foreign policy experience and at times seems to be ill informed of events. Some in the Republican establishment have accused Gov. Huckabee of not being a genuine conservative. His record of raising taxes, granting clemency to some prisoners, as well as calling on the need to help “all people” (usually a code word for being anti-corporate) have him the target of those on the right as well as the left.
Mitt Romney, Fmr. Governor of Massachusetts
If there is a candidate that “looks” the part of president, it is Gov. Romney. Handsome, articulate, energetic, he served as a one term governor of perhaps the most liberal state in the union. Prior to becoming governor, Romney ran the Salt Lake City Olympics, bringing the games out of debt and on track. For years he worked in the private sector, accumulating a private fortune. In terms of issues, Gov. Romney’s positions are taken right from the platform of the mainstream of the Republican Party. Anti-tax. Pro-defense. Pro-life. Pro-traditional marriage. Pr-border enforcement. Those positions, combined with his “presidential air” should make him the ideal candidate.
However, there are several major problems that Republicans have with Gov. Romney. The first is the genuineness of his positions. In prior attempts at running for office, he has taken markedly different stances on issues like abortion and gay-rights. This makes Gov. Romney susceptible to accusations of being a “flip-flopper” who changes positions because of political expediency. Second, while he is articulate, Gov. Romney does not seem to connect very well on a personal level with people. Third is religion. He is a Mormon. While there can be discussion on both sides on the appropriateness of using one’s religion as a test, in reality, for many voters it is relevant. And for many voters, Mormonism makes them feel uncomfortable, to say the least.
Fred Thompson, Fmr. U.S. Senator (Tennessee)
For television fans, you may best remember Fred Thompson as District Attorney Arthur Branch from the Law & Order series. Also a conservative, Sen. Thompson has a folksy manner to him combined with experience being an actor, a flair for the dramatic in public speaking.
Issues that come up for Sen. Thompson are questions on his desire to be president and fire to see the campaign through. This has led to his collapse in the polls and probable exit from the race altogether.
The Players (cont.) - A look at the Democrats