Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The state of my presidential-race mind

It is, I admit, unstable in the best of times. But right now, it feels like it's turned to mush.

I said a few weeks ago that I liked Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson. Since then, Mike Huckabee, John McCain and Romney have each won contests, and Thompson is in a dead sprint to catch the nomination train before it leaves the station.

And since then, I may be slightly more clear-headed, but no more decided. (Of course, I don't have to worry about that considering my May primary vote will likely be worthless, as I expect the candidate to be determined by then.)

As far as my position with Romney, the more I watch him, the less impressed I feel. It's gotten to the point where I can't read Hugh Hewitt because his spin for the Mittster is stomach-turning. However, my biggest negative for Romney is that, while I cut him some slack on his supposed flip-flopping, others are not so kind. And that's among Republicans! If Romney wins the nomination, the Democrats will be merciless in their flip-flop message, especially after being on the receiving end of that accusation in 2004.

But I also have trouble swallowing his message of change, when it's been clear for a while that he's the closest thing to George W. Bush that we have in the GOP field. "Change" is not so much a factor of address as it is of mindset, and while Romney certainly has examples where he's changed the direction of a rudderless ship (Olympics, Massachusetts politics), he is no better off than Guiliani or Huckabee from the standpoint of his connection to Washington, DC (and little better than Thompson). And this exchange with a reporter, while red meat to an anti-liberal-media GOP electorate, sounded a little bit too much like a willingness to discuss the definition of "is."

This leads me to think more fondly of Thompson, hoping against hope that he can do well tomorrow in South Carolina. If he can, I think that will give him a big boost against fellow southerner Huckabee, considering that southern states Alabama, Georgia, Missouri and Tennessee vote on Super Tuesday 17 days later. If he can't do well in South Carolina, Thompson may as well hang it up.

I've also been thinking a bit more about Huckabee, and while I still have no intention of voting for him in a primary setting, I think Republicans ignore his populist message at their peril. I believe Huckabee's message is resonating because voters feel he is the only Republican candidate willing to address the fact that the nation's economic numbers have not translated into prosperity in their pocketbooks.

I know this is true in my own life, as my business took a noticeable tumble in 2007, and I can't keep track of all the people I know -- both personally and professionally -- who are in the same boat. One friend (in furniture sales) said she thinks the media covers the economy so negatively that it's scaring people away from spending money. A client (in collectibles) said the government proclaims a strong economy because it's leaving out things like gas prices. A colleague (in commercial real estate) called it a fine line between the American dream and a nightmare. A friend in auto repair saw his business drop 20 percent in 2007. Only now is the party waking to this fact, so I think the fact that Huckabee has been addressing it for months is to his advantage.

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  • At 1/19/2008 11:15 AM, Blogger MAX Redline said…

    The Huckster's a one-trick pony, and if it's all the same, I've had my fill of Arkansas governors. McCain is just - McCain. The Mittster's at least got some good experience in both public and private enterprises, but unfortunately, if you add a touch of butter and a bit of syrup, you've got a great waffle.

    Unlike McCain's "straight talk express", Thompson actually walks the walk. He's been very consistent.


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