The turtle is an amazing creature. It ambles along at a steady pace….seemingly going nowhere but shuffling towards its goal. The rabbit ricochets all over the place with frenzy and appears quite often to be off the path to victory. Aesop and his fabulous fable about the tortoise and the hare provide the background for today’s column. If you recall the story, the hare dashed ahead of the tortuously slow tortoise. Thinking that he had easily won the race, the hare lay down for a pleasant nap, and the steady tortoise passed the sleeping bunny to win the race. This old and informative fable can be used to illustrate the contest for the Republican presidential nomination.
As the GOP campaign begins to develop, we have had some sputtering starts and withdrawals. In addition, we continue to have speculation around the possible entry of others into the fray. So far various straw polls and preference polling have lent a “flavor of the week’ element as different individuals have managed to capture the fancies of voters in different states. Michele Bachmann stunned the pundits with her victory in Ames, Iowa, and Ron Paul was within breathing distance of her victory. Herman Cain has garnered victories in Denver at the Western Conservative Summit and more recently in Florida. Ron Paul has, in addition to his 2nd place in Iowa, won the New Orleans republican Leadership Conference straw poll, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) preference, and the California favorability vote.
The media and Establishment-anointed leaders, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, have NOT won any of the straw of preference polls although they have been performing rather well in general polling for primaries and the general election. Although the media and their resident pundits enjoy speculating about the horse-race aspects of the contest for the GOP nomination, it seems as of this point in time, some 13 months until the people trudge to the polls, that no one has a clear advantage. The two most likely candidates for the role of the “hare” appear to be Romney and Paul. Dr. Paul has polled consistently well but does not have the support of the moderate or RINO wing of the party. The entrenched self-designated leadership of the Republican Party tends to favor a middle-of-the-road candidate whom they believe would have a greater appeal to a broader segment of the electorate.
Former Governor Romney seems to have collected the support of much of the staid establishment GOP although some are attempting to convince Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey to enter the race despite his repeated refusals to do so. If Christie holds fast and stays out of the race, then it will probably be Romney versus whoever has staying power (i.e. cash). Cain’s dramatic victory in Florida will rocket him to the upper tier of candidates for the present time, but he must use his new-found celebrity status to raise some serious cash to continue the momentum. Dr. Paul is well-funded, and his organization grows stronger every week. In addition, Congressman Paul has an energetic and loyal cadre of young people who can add “feet on the ground” to his media advertising purchases. He will need every dollar and every volunteer to overcome the GOP Establishment opposition. They enjoy the benefits of big government nearly as much as their Democrat counterparts do, and they do not want a Paul candidacy that is pledged to downsizing the federal government.
As the hares hop around the landscape seeking to attract attention and support, the battle for TOP TORTISE is shaping out to be between Romney and Paul with Cain and Perry getting fitted for shells. Perry’s mercurial beginning has faded quickly, but enough anti-Romney people exist to keep his hopes alive. The Perry supporters might be defined as “pragmatic conservatives.” They are people who generally lean conservative but are unwilling to rock the electoral vote by supporting someone whom they believe too extreme or too inexperienced. The Republican movers and shakers seem somewhat schizophrenic as the moderates and token conservative pragmatists seek to boost their preferred candidates. The moderates believe that most Independents prefer milquetoast non-entities, and the conservative pragmatists sense that the conservative base will abandon the party if a sufficiently conservative candidate is not nominated.
Meanwhile, Dr. Paul continues to plug along as Herman Cain catches fire.
Exciting times are ahead, but we must NEVER forget that the goal is to preserve and restore our Republic. A victory for more-of-the-same will be a pyrrhic one. Trust the tortoise, and beware the hare.
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