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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Brokering For A Better Candidate

Hoping for a brokered Republican convention to cast aside the current slate of candidates and nominate the next Ronald Reagan?

Not me. This isn't how a brokered convention can lead to a better conservative candidate.

I was drawn early to Romney until Fred filled in for Paul Harvey's radio spots and began his pre-campaign campaign. Clearly, Fred is most closely aligned with the Party's conservative principles. But, let's face it, he didn't have what it takes to be a candidate for the office of the President of the United States. He did his best campaigning as Harvey's fill-in.

Dare I say it, but electability is a factor in any race. Not the biggest factor, but a factor nonetheless. Unfortunately, too many Republican candidates fail to understand that their electability can actually be enhanced if they were more willing to embrace and articulate conservative issues.

Still, one needs to be able to connect with the electorate, to build a good campaign team, and to inspire contributors to support his/her candidacy. It disappoints me, but Fred failed to do so even among like-minded voters in South Carolina. Nominating Fred through a brokered convention will not make him a better candidate.

In contrast, the primary process can make a better candidate out of Romney. To succeed, he will need to impress more of the conservative base. Romney cannot out McCain McCain, but he can beat McCain if he fills the conservative void left by Fred Thompson. And, herein lies Mitt's greatest opportunity.

Within the Republican Race to St. Paul, there is no better surrogate for a Democrat candidate that Senator John McCain. Should Mitt Romney effectively contrast himself against McCain, he will effectively position himself against HillaryObama. More importantly, to contrast McCain* is to embrace conservatism.

So, what about a brokered convention?

Should the delegates convening in St. Paul be given the freedom to nominate the candidate of their choice, then a brokered convention just might give us a more conservative candidate. Not by adding a new conservative to the mix (or resurrecting an old one), but my mixing more conservatism into the candidates we have. To win the support of grass roots Republican delegates, candidates will have to take a stronger stand on conservative issues – a stronger public stand that will be harder to shake during the general election.

This is a good thing. But, only one or two candidates can carry it off. The Republican Convention in St. Paul might not only inspire more conservatism in a candidate like Romney, but it will give a larger public platform from which to launch a conservative general election campaign.

*For what its worth, I don't give Senator McCain much credit for his stance on the War on Terror. Sadly, he has allowed his bitterness toward President Bush get the best of him. When Democrats were loudest with lies about the President's reasons for entering the war, McCain was silent. When Democrats desperately fought for defeat in Iraq, McCain was AWOL. Only when it benefited McCain, did he speak up.


Blogger Right Hook said...

One advantage of a brokered convention is that someone outside of the current field has a chance of getting the nomination. I know the chance of this happening is slim because, like the primary process has evolved into little more than "American Idol", conventions have evolved largely into coronations of the chosen.

But a slim chance is better than none as I am very concerned about the lackluster choices of the GOP primary field.

I don't want someone getting the nomination just because they can sound more conservative when they have to when they need the votes of the base. This type invariably seems to toss conservatism aside once they get into office (e.g. our Greenie Weenie governor).

The GOP needs to wake up. The Democrat choices are such lamers that a well run campaign should be able to smoke whoever gets the nomination if we can put up even a reasonably conservative offering (e.g. Thompson). If we put up a "Democrat Lite" (most, if not all, of the remaining GOP field) I'm afraid of a repeat of '06 which would be a total disaster for the country.

1/25/2008 6:46 AM  
Blogger G-Man said...

Right Hook, this is the point of my post. A brokered convention that yields a candidate outside the current field is what I fear. I understand the perception that the grass will be greener in the house that Norm built (St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center), but I don't share it.

First, I do think that a hotly contested primary race is good training ground for the general election. It gives the base more vetting opportunities. We get to see how candidates react under the pressure of liberal influences to moderate their tone. Further, resources like Rush, Hannity, Hewitt, and the like have a greater opportunity to flush the phony rhetoric out of the candidates.

Second, keep in mind who will attend the convention. If we have a brokered convention, by the virtue that McCain and Huckabee may collectively have the most delegates, then the majority of delegates will likely be swayed by the "electability" factor. Herein lies the rift within the party activists – at least the ones who are still active. Is electability defined be "moving to the middle" or "moving the middle to the right"? Do you have to compromise to get elected or can you attract more of the middle by making the case for conservative issues as Reagan did?

Keep in mind that many of the conservative base abstained from the 2006 elections. I simply don't know if they will be back this year and these are the folks that we want actively seeking positions as delegates to the National Convention. Also note that delegates get elected based on their commitment to their candidate (McCain, Huckabee, Romney, Rudy, or Paul). Put these two things together, and the "move to the middle" delegation is likely to be larger than the "move the middle to the right" delegation.

Finally, a candidate who has NOT been through the rigors of a national campaign is likely to be swayed heavily by his/her campaign handlers. Unfortunately, too many handlers seem driven to ride conventional wisdom rather than try to steer it. For example, too many handlers will advise our candidate that the green movement is too big to buck and embracing it is the key to winning. I fear that such handlers could turn the next Reagan into another Ford.

1/25/2008 10:36 AM  
Blogger Right Hook said...

G-Man -

Clearly the primary process is broken - a lot of good candidates are out of the process before contests where only Republicans vote. I cringe at the thought that we Conservatives may yet again get stiffed with a moderate for a standard bearer. This will cause a lot of the base to stay home this fall.

The GOP had better figure out real fast that they cannot win a general election without the support of the Conservative base. Of the remaining candidates only Romney appears to be close enough to a real conservative to have a chance to garner such support, and, assuming he can fend off McCain and Huckabee, he still has a lot of convincing to do.

You are more than likely correct about the "middle" being in control of things if it comes down to a brokered convention. I'm pulling for Romney to first vanquish McCain and Huckabee and then to find Conservative religion in a very convincing way.

If Romney cannot evolve into a convincingly conservative candidate our only hope, though slim, would be for an outsider to take it at the convention. There are reasons candidates like Thompson, Hunter, and Tancredo didn't do well in the primaries that would not come into play in the brokered convention setting (i.e. lack of funding, cross-over voters, media manipulation). I think the base would be much more likely to come out in the fall if one of these three (or a non-politician like Steve Forbes) got the nomination instead of one of the "moderates" left in the race.

God help us if McCain or Huckabee ends up as the GOP candidate.

1/25/2008 12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't give two hoots and a holler for a candidate that starts spouting conservative ideas just to get the nomination. You KNOW they will "run left" once they get it. Having to run right for six more months should weed out these opportunists, but has the down side of maybe weeding out ALL of our candidates!

What I like about a brokered convention, regardless of outcome, is that it keeps the Democrats from tossing mud at our candidate, or causes them great expense to shoot at all of them. Frankly, most of the voters are going to be either sick of the contest by convention, or just not paying attention until afterwards. A good conservative, backed by a united party, ought to be able to be Cur Hillary (pronounced Sir Hillary, after her supposed namesake, RIP).

1/25/2008 3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"House that Norm built"? More like the incredibly overblown concrete palace that Norm and the other politicians suckered the taxpayers into financing.

I'm with RH: the remaining Repub choices are mediocre at best and downright liberal at worst. It's obvious the Dems and their media hack pals want McCain. This can only mean Bill and Hill think he is the easiest to beat of the ones that have a chance of getting the nomination. Rudy has almost as many negatives as Hillary but also has more positives and is not afraid to get in a street brawl. Huckabee is toast with maybe even more corruption in AK than the Clintons. It's clear they don't want Romney, although I'm not so sure conservatives do either.

Discouraging and depressing to say the least.

1/25/2008 3:59 PM  
Blogger G-Man said...

I don't have any easy answers, but I agree that the primary process is broken.

Democrat strategist Larry Sabato recently proposed a lottery of primaries where the nation would be divided into four (or more) regions. Each state within its region would hold its primaries or caucuses on the same date. The first date would be in March with successive dates several weeks apart.

This stretched out the process and offered more vetting opportunities. However, what made this idea interesting was the lottery. On New Year's eve, a lottery would be held to determine which region went first, second third, and so forth. The intent of the approach was to force candidates to "work the nation" rather than live in Iowa for a year ahead of the first caucus.

I'm not endorsing the idea, but it has elements that may be an improvement over today. Still, getting the states to agree to the plan (or a similar one) is a problem.

But, our problems aren't with the primary process alone:

-- How do we convince a conservative candidate to take on the mainstream media head on and seek the presidency by boldly advancing conservative ideas?

-- After decades of influence by liberals in the media and in entertainment, how do we steer conventional wisdom back toward common sense? How do we expose the hoax of global warming, the myth that oil industry is evil, the fact that taxing the rich hurts jobs, that mandated minimum wage hikes hurts the poor – so much "wisdom" to fix, so little bandwidth.

-- It is easy to say that the GOP needs to get its act together, but that means you and I – and all of those too fed up to get involved – have to do the heavy lifting. How do we energize a movement from within to tackle the above challenges?

1/25/2008 9:41 PM  
Blogger Thrifty Scot said...

Things look somewhat bleaker here, post-Florida. Juan McCain will never be acceptable to me as the GOP candidate. There is nothing he can say that will convince me that he's conservative.

One problem is that Romney is an idiot, to put it bluntly. He ran phone calls in Florida knocking McCain for voting against the new prescription drug benefit. Did he (or more likely his worthless, braindead, squishy consultants) think that was the road to victory in a GOP primary? What a moron.

G-Man, I second your comments about McCain's credentials on the war.

1/30/2008 9:41 AM  

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