An anonymous reader recently asked: “What is your honest opinion of each of the GOP candidates for president?” Last week I wrote about seven of the nine major Republican candidates before succumbing to a massive headache. Here’s my take on the last two, in alphabetical order:
Gary Johnson: He has gubernatorial experience, he seems unassuming, and he has promised to veto any budget that is not balanced. Given that recent budgets have seen a 40-45% gap between revenues and expenditures, that promise may seem unrealistic. It is a sad sign of the times that the promise is unrealistic, and perhaps sadder that he’s the only one willing to make it. He’s got two big problems, aside from a near-total lack of name recognition. First, in recent interviews he has seemed exasperated that he wasn’t getting more attention and that he was being left out of the debates. No matter what the message is, exasperated won’t score any points. His second and larger problem is that there’s already a candidate who’s staked out the libertarian wing of the party, named…
Ron Paul: He’s got the name recognition he was missing last time around, he’s more consistent than the other Republicans, he’s energetic enough to overcome his age problems, and he (and current events) have made the Austrian school much more popular in recent years. The bad news is that he can come across as a wacky old man, nobody likes a Cassandra, and the electorate will find his foreign policy to be isolationist and unrealistic. The whole “being right about the recession” thing probably won’t be enough to get him the nomination.
They both have another problem: they keep talking about what government shouldn’t do. That’s generally not a good way to win nominations, never mind national elections.
Anyhow, right now I think that Romney’s the most likely to win the nomination. He’s doing well enough in the polls, he’s raised all kinds of money, and the GOP has a habit of nominating candidates who came close to winning earlier primaries (Nixon lost in 1960, Reagan lost in 1968 and 1976, Bush 41 and Dole lost in 1980, Bush 43 is an exception, but can be seen as a re-nomination of his dad, McCain lost in 2000, Romney lost in 2008). But the voting is still a few months away, and anything can happen.