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Friday, August 10, 2007

491 Words on Fred Thompson

(Editor's Note: Over at 1% More Conscious, I have been writing every Wednesday since March. For the summer, I've had an ongoing series about the seven candidates that have a chance at being our next President. Thus far, I've written about five of them and will be republishing those five this week.)

The ’07 Seven Candidates of Summer Series

Fred Thompson (Written on 8/1/07)


What I wrote on the 7th of June this year: "He has conservatives abuzz as possibly the first viable true conservative. Until he gets in the race, however, I don't it can be argued that he's viable or a true conservative. Still, the mere fact that a candidate potentially fits the bill goes to show you how desperate the GOP is for that candidate."

This has never been more true. The Republican primary is a mess. The two top contenders, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, are a Mormon and a social liberal, respectively. The previous frontrunner, John McCain, reported less money than second-tier-at-best Ron Paul in the second fiscal quarter. True conservatives and religious beloveds, Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee, rarely register in Republican polls and have serious problems fundraising with the big boys.

Simply, there is a vacuum of power in the Republican primary. Two Republicans have the ability to fill that void: Newt Gingrich and Fred Thompson. The former may not run, while the latter is about a month away from announcing (Sept. 5?), therefore it is the latter that has the most potential to be a player in this race.

What makes the Thompson candidacy very interesting is that he's doing great in the polls without even being an official candidate yet! For example, in the latest Rasmussen Poll, taken during the week of July 22, Fred Thomson was tied with Rudy Giuliani in first place in national Republican polls with 25%. Other polls consistently have Thomson polling in the top 3 both in national polls and in all-important primary states Iowa and South Carolina. And Thomson hasn't even started spending money yet!

His success before he even gets started is a direct result of the two factors already discussed: the displeasure of most Republicans with their leading candidates and Thompson's potential to be a true conservative. Therefore, before Thompson enters the race, because Thompson hasn't entered the race, he is still the conservatives' dream candidate. There is nothing wrong with him like all the other candidates.

Yet.

See, Thompson is too good to be true for the GOP, I promise you. As soon as this guy gets into the frey, his weaknesses will show, most specifically his role as conservative savior of the 2008 Republicans. Frankly, that just can't be his role to claim. For proof, here's Newsweek, the Washington Times, and a stinging editorial from a conservative author.

So while Thompson looks golden from afar, it's not until the Republican voters see him up close that they realize the 64-year-old (65 in one week) actor-turned-Senator-turned-actor actually has some blemishes on that balding head of his. (And yes, that was a blatant reminder that he's pretty old. Just imagine when he has to start debating Mitt Romney. Can you say Nixon-Kennedy 1960?)

Yes, right now, Fred Thompson looks golden to the GOP, and many believe that there is no more accurate application of the term "fool's gold."

Thursday, August 09, 2007

530 Words on John Edwards

(Editor's Note: Over at 1% More Conscious, I have been writing every Wednesday since March. For the summer, I've had an ongoing series about the seven candidates that have a chance at being our next President. Thus far, I've written about five of them and will be republishing those five this week.)

The ’07 Seven Candidates of Summer Series

John Edwards (Written on 7/25/07)


"This is the cause of my life," said John Edwards. "When I die, if I've done something serious to help eradicate poverty, I'll die a happy man." Someone forgot to tell him poor people don't vote.

"(We can do what it takes) to make it right... and actually end poverty in America within the next 30 years." Hey, John Kennedy's dead. Politicians don't make promises like that anymore.

John Edwards is an idealist, and that will probably cost him the election. He's addressed that poverty is not a "vote-winning issue," but rather a "moral issue" facing America.

Talk about a Democrat.

So is he a single issue candidate? No. He came out swinging on Monday's CNN/Youtube debate with an issue that is as esoteric as it is crucial in politics. "I think the people who are powerful in Washington -- big insurance companies, big drug companies, big oil companies -- they are not going to negotiate. They are not going to give away their power. The only way that they are going to give away their power is if we take it away from them. And I have been standing up to these people my entire life. I have been fighting them my entire life in court rooms -- and beating them."

The guy is as liberal of a candidate as there is in this 2008 race, save the unrealistic Dennis Kucinich candidacy. He was the first to come out with a detailed universal health care plan, but since he came out with it so early (Feb 5), Democratic voters have already forgotten about it. He's been the most radical on the war on terror, specifically saying that it's a "bumper sticker slogan," used to "bludgeon political opponents" outlining the old Republican tactic that says if you were against the war, you were un-American. (I say "old" Republican tactic because many Republicans are backing off their formerly patriotic position.) It's what all candidates want to say, but it wasn't politically wise. He said it anyway. He also blasted the Fox News Channel as a right wing agent, and was the first to pull out of the Fox News debate in Nevada. The rest of the candidates followed.

Yet the liberal Democrat from the south, who doubles as the least unalluring candidates to the Republican base in a general election, stays at a distant third in the polls. He is hands down the candidate with the best chance to win in November 2008, yet is still overshadowed by the political machines run by Clinton and Obama.

He has two options moving forth, as Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have been solidifying their status as frontrunners in the Democratic nomination process.
1. Shake it up, take big swings at Obama and/or Clinton. (Not advisable. Jabs maybe.)
2. Sit tight, let Clinton and Obama attack each other, win Iowa, ride the momentum, and always be there as the alternative to the top 2.

Pay attention to the Edwards' campaign strategy. He's not out of this and he's the only one with the potential to make a run at the top tier fundraisers. How long can he sit still? We'll see.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

559 Words on Barack Obama

(Editor's Note: Over at 1% More Conscious, I have been writing every Wednesday since March. For the summer, I've had an ongoing series about the seven candidates that have a chance at being our next President. Thus far, I've written about five of them and will be republishing those five this week.)

The ’07 Seven Candidates of Summer Series

Barack Obama (Written on 7/18/07)


The man is setting records. Setting records is also known as being the first to do something. Now can he be the first non-white to ever be President? What a record that would be.

While he was pondering the decision to run for President, Barack Obama has made heads turn. He was as charismatic and electric of a candidate as there was in the race to the 2008 White House. His speeches are inspirational. But would that translate?

The numbers started rolling in. The potential of the Obama candidacy was realized and recognized after the second quarter fiscal numbers were released. He set the all time presidential fundraising record, in the process edging out Clinton who was supposed to be the top fundraiser. Equally important, Obama also broke the record for most donors in a quarter with over 250,000.

Despite the positive revelations, the Obama campaign has yet to see a turn in the polls. After the first quarter, he made a strong run at Clinton in the national polls, but never came within the margin of error. Since then, he hasn't been able to close the gap, and has lost a few points, placing him down at least 10 points in almost all national polls. Obama lost his momentum.

The reason Obama lost his momentum is the reason it will be most difficult for him to win the nomination. At the debates, Obama does not seem nearly as competent as Clinton. That's the word, too - competent. He's lackluster, shifty, inexact, and surprisingly inarticulate. Senators Clinton, Dodd, and Biden all sound much better equipped to be commander-in-chief. Senator Clinton especially has done a terrific job at the debates, making it difficult for Obama or John Edwards to cut into her lead in the national polls.

While Obama's base is as passionate as any, it might not be enough. The Obama supporters are fervent. They love their guy as much as any supporters love their candidate. However, you could say the same about Star Trek fans and their (our) beloved television show, and Star Trek didn't exactly win sweeps week.

Can Senator Obama steal away enough voters from those who currently support Senator Clinton? It'll be difficult. Obama, Clinton, and Edwards seem to be strong in the same demographics - namely minorities and the poor. Obama's skin color is undeniably a factor. Hillary Clinton's husband is overwhelmingly popular with the black community. John Edwards had made poverty the core issue of his since 2004.

Therefore, Obama will not be able to win the black vote just because he's black. In past years, a legitimate black candidate would not need to spend a dime in impoverished areas or other areas with a high level of minorities. The candidate could then reallocate those resources. But not this year. He actually has to concentrate on the poor and minorities just like the white woman and the white man he's running against.

Undeterred, Obama will do well. He appeals to voters of all races and incomes. If he wants to cut into Clinton's lead, though, he needs to shake things up. Look for a swing at Hillary in the next couple months... and not just one of these several jabs he's thrown. I'm talking about a right hook, which will undoubtedly be returned by the Clinton camp.

And that's when the fun begins.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

683 Words on John McCain

(Editor's Note: Over at 1% More Conscious, I have been writing every Wednesday since March. For the summer, I've had an ongoing series about the seven candidates that have a chance at being our next President. Thus far, I've written about five of them and will be republishing those five this week.)

The ’07 Seven Candidates of Summer Series

John McCain (Written on 7/11/07)


(Preface: Originally, my plan was to tackle Barack Obama today, in an effort to rotate Democrats and Republicans throughout the summer, but recent developments make an analysis of the John McCain candidacy imperative... while it still exists.)

Okay, perhaps the preface was a bit over the top. John McCain's candidacy is not within a week of death, but let's be honest, it's on life support, and there are many who think the plug should be pulled.

McCain's Hell Week '07 began on Monday morning when it was learned that second-tier-at-best candidate Ron Paul had more cash on hand than the senior Senator from Arizona. This was followed by Monday afternoon and Tuesday's overreactions of what this meant, but the overreactions themselves had ramifications, dragging down the McCain campaign further. (Nothing hurts a candidate like pessimism. Except maybe bullets.)

Then of course came yesterday's news that two of McCain's top advisors, and soon lesser advisors, were acrimoniously departing the sinking ship.

This week, I have received no less than a half dozen emails asking me my thoughts on these developments. After all, I predicted John McCain as the eventual Republican nominee. So here's the question that must be asked: What the hell has happened to the McCain campaign?

Well, where to begin? The top five reasons the McCain candidacy is underperforming:

1. There is never any good news out of Iraq to which he can attach himself. This kills him in a general election.

No news here. He's been President Bush's greatest ally in the war in Iraq, with the possible exception of Dick Cheney and Laura Bush. And while this stance was never popular, it has never been MORE unpopular than it is now. The Iraq War grows more unpopular by the month. Even key Republicans (see: Luger, Dick) are deserting the President. At one point, unequivocal support of the war in Iraq was not political suicide. Now, it just might be.

2. His stance on immigration greatly alienated the Republican base. This kills him in a primary election.

John McCain's immigration stance is an example of him legislating his beliefs instead of what is popular with his party, similar to the famous McCain-Feingold bill. Note to McCain: Teaming up with Russ Feingold or, in the case of the Immigration Bill, Ted Kennedy, on any bipartisan bill will not be looked on kindly by the Republican Party.

3. His strategy of being openly honest and straight-forward, hoping his dedication to unpopular issues because he believed in them would resonate with the voters.

Numbers one and two play a role here. His principled positions on issues he cares about are admirable only in the regard that they are, in fact, principled. He passionately believes in them, and hoped that eventually this facet of his character, seemingly incongruous with his fellow politicians, would set him apart from the pack. Of course, the problem is, voters disagree with these key issues, and because they know he means what he says, they cannot vote for him. Do'h!

4. Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney.

These two men have run terrific campaigns. Rudy Giuliani is on top of most polls despite being out of step with social conservatives. Frankly, it's been a brilliant campaign to date, though this blogger still questions his potential to win the nomination when Republican voters further educate themselves on the issues, especially in Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina. Mitt Romney has taken single-digit polling numbers last year and turned them into competetive ones. In comparison, McCain has ran a very weak campaign. Last year, he was polling ahead of both of these other frontrunners. It was McCain's nomination to lose and he lost it. Can he get it back?

5. A combination of the above has led to an enormous shortfall in fundraising.

No one wants to throw money onto a sinking ship. This perpetuates the mediocrity of the campaign. Without proper funds, John McCain will have a very difficult time pulling himself out of this rut. Indeed, one of the reasons McCain parted ways with two of his top advisors was because McCain expected to have and be raising a LOT more money at this stage of the campaign.

Undeniably, the John McCain campaign is underperforming, and without a John Kerry-like resurgence, he might not make it to Iowa.

Monday, August 06, 2007

562 words on Rudy Giuliani

(Editor's Note: Over at 1% More Conscious, I have been writing every Wednesday since March. For the summer, I've had an ongoing series about the seven candidates that have a chance at being our next President. Thus far, I've written about five of them and will be republishing those five this week.)

The ’07 Seven Candidates of Summer Series

Rudy Giuliani (Written on 7/4/07)


Of the seven candidates that have a chance to be President, it’s former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani who consistently has had the biggest leads over announced candidates in either party's national polls. It’s Republican Rudy Giuliani who most successfully matches up with Democrats in hypothetical head-to-head match ups. It’s cross-dressin’ Rudy Giuliani who has positioned himself as the Republican with most crossover appeal come November 2008.

Yet, of the seven candidates that have a chance to be President, Rudy Giuliani is the least likely to garner his party’s nomination.

How much longer can his lack of conservative values possibly survive the Republican Primary vetting process? Is the conservative base ever going to feel comfortable voting for a guy who is liberal or neutral on core conservative issues like gay marriage, abortion, and gun control? In a party that touts morals and values as central tenets of its ideology, will the candidate with the most troubled family life and personal history be able to overcome this reputation to be the Republican survivor?

It’s unlikely.

Radio host and author James Dobson, who holds significant power over a sizeable conservative coalition, with evangelical influence greater than that of Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson at their peak, is on the record as saying that he, “cannot and will not support Giuliani under any circumstances.” This is not only trouble for a Giuliani nomination, it also means that should Giuliani survive the primary, there is a possibility that a third-party conservative would emerge to the right of both candidates in the general election. Clearly, this would cut into the Republican base, allowing a Democratic walkover, regardless of their candidate, in November.

It’s also uncertain how much longer Giuliani can scare the American people into thinking that he’s the guy that will keep them safe. A spotty security record as a mayor of a city is typically not as great of a security blanket as say, a four-term Senator from Arizona with military experience and tenure on U.S. Senate military committees. It’s generally understood that Rudy Giuliani must keep the focus on terrorism and national security if he has any chance to win this thing, but a seemingly capable security candidate in John McCain, one who is undoubtedly more conservative and proven than Giuliani, would seem to be the better bet for Republicans.

No, the GOP will not nominate Rudy Giuliani. If you ask me, they’re just waiting for the alternative to emerge. No one wants to come out and support a McCain or a Thomson or a Romney if they’re just going to fade come primary time. As soon as one of conservative alternatives clearly emerge as the chief competitor to Giuliani, the base will flock to that alternative. Like James Dobson, most conservatives simply cannot support a Giuliani candidacy.
Finally, perhaps the most important hindrance to a Rudy Giuliani nomination are the early primary states. Iowa is not a Rudy Giuliani state. He’s also behind in Nevada and New Hampshire. Long story short, if he doesn’t find a way to win the early primaries, he’ll have a lot of trouble making up that ground down the stretch. He cannot afford to wait until Super Tuesday on February 5th to make his move. If he’s not doing well heading into that day, Republicans will have yet another reason to not support him. So they won’t.
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