State of the Mormon Presidential Hopefuls

For disclosure, I admit to supporting Michele Bachmann above any other current candidate. She seems to me the most consistent with my own political positions. If it wasn’t for the fact that I live in a last to vote in the primaries State (how is that for all votes count?) my involvement in the process would be much more. For the moment I can only hope that primary voters who do have some power will give her more of a shot. As this year’s Iowa Ames straw poll shows, newspaper and national polls don’t tell the whole story.

That out of the way, this isn’t directly about her. Two Mormon contenders are in the Republican Party who want to be the next U.S. President. Their chances could not be more different.

Mitt Romney used to be the presumptive front runner before Gov. Rick Perry entered the race. Even if he remained in the front runner, there are weaknesses that trouble many Republican voters. First and foremost he is Mormon. It may only be a concern for 19 percent of Republicans, but that is still a lot of voters who would never choose a Mormon. This is particularly true in the South where the future of a Republican Presidential candidate is decided.

He has his supporters, but mostly elitist and Eastern old school Republicans that the grassroots are becoming increasingly upset with. Attacks against Rick Perry’s definition of Social Security as a “Ponzi Scheme” might sound like a winning strategy (and perhaps they are in the general election), but a large and influential primary voting block sees it as support for Big Government. His views on the existence of Global Warming and even Evolution draws lots of criticism. Most importantly, right or wrong, his version of Healthcare set up as Governor continues to be a heavy albatross probably more than his religion.

His only saving grace is a history in the private sector with jobs and the economy. Many conservatives like his plan presented to the public right before Pres. Obama spoke about another plan. That might not be enough for a primary electorate hungry for a no-gloves fighter against Democrats and not members of his own party. He is weakest economically on taxes where a “fair tax” or a “flat tax” is popular among many Republicans while he wants to remain with low taxes, but chides against the newer ideas.

Lots of press aside, it would take a miracle for Jon Huntsman to win anything in the primaries. Him and Romney are too identical ideologically and follically. Referring to Utah for examples of his economic success doesn’t help much, because it is viewed as an irrelevant State in the desert that isn’t Nevada. He does have other problems that add to low poll numbers.

The press, liberals, and some elitist Republicans love him. Endorsement by those who are supposed to be your political nemeses makes the grassroots see him as loathsome. Many don’t consider him even worthy of the “Rino” label, but a Democratic operative who should switch parties. They are upset that the press and Democrats picked McCain as the nominee the last time and don’t want that to happen again.

Declaring proudly to those who decide your future that you believe in science while a large segment who disagree with Global Warming and Evolution do not, implying stupidity and lack of education, cannot be a good way to get elected. His views are so far apart from such a large segment of the Republican voters that its any wonder he is still in the race. At least Ron Paul has a semblance of economic and constitutional ideas that are ideologically similar to conservative Republican notions.

His distancing himself from “Mormonism” doesn’t help with the religious social conservatives. They see it as slouching toward atheism and relativism than a moderation. They want someone who stands for a religious conviction, while admittedly rejecting them if they don’t stand for what is considered the right religious convictions. He is between a rock and a hard place here, but “squishy” spirituality is seen more as a negative than specific devotions.

The end result is always hard to tell at this point. What I personally predict is that, polls notwithstanding, the race is really between Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann. Right now Gov. Perry has the lead, but that can change if Bachmann and the others can prove he isn’t the conservative many believe. What can be known is that he currently has both parts elitist and grassroots conservatism sides to positions. Final results will show if the elitists or the grassroots have the most fight in them and largest numbers. No matter what, both Mormons I predict will lose and perhaps early.

For a little more opinion background to see what conservative Republicans are saying, read:

GOP Debate: Tampa!

CNN/Tea Party Debate

19 thoughts on “State of the Mormon Presidential Hopefuls

  1. The race for the Tea Party vote is between Bachmann and Perry. The race for the Republican candidacy is between the winner of that race and Mitt Romney.

    Romney is showing himself to be a pragmatic Conservative. Guess what? Reagan was the same way. Reagan did not call Social Security a “Ponzi Scheme” or seek to end it. Instead, he fixed it to last several more decades. That is the Romney plan.

    I prefer Bachmann over Perry, myself. He is playing well to the Tea Party crowd, but his wild statements are leading him to a loss in the final election.

    Personally, I don’t mind any of the Republican candidates, except for Perry.

    As for Romney, I’ve only heard two people besides you note his Mormonism, and one was Chris Matthews. I think it will be less a factor than we think, unless Perry gets his act together. But he’s showing himself to be about as bright as the former Republican governor of his state. He has statements, but cannot easily connect the dots.

    Romney easily handled Perry’s attacks in the last two debates. If that continues, more and more people will see those problems. He also has not been vetted very well, and his skeletons are coming out of the closet.

    If Perry melts down, and Romney continues doing well in debates as he done in every one so far, his star will rise. Mormonism will be less an issue this year, I believe, than it was 4 years ago.

    As for Huntsman, he is not a strong debater so far. He needs a lot of polishing up before he’ll be ready for prime time. Even the commercials leading to his announcement were completely confusing (guy riding a motorcycle). And the confusion continues, as last night he tried to play a twist of words on Romney’s book, “No Apology” with a Kurt Cobain song on apology from the early 1990s. It went over everyone’s head, and I didn’t understand it until it was explained this morning on the news.

    Then again, I think Huntsman is using this as his first start year, like Romney did 4 years ago.

    I’m thinking that unless Perry can learn to stop crash and burning, he isn’t going to be strong 6 months from now when the Primary season begins, as he is right now. And there are lots of debates and time for skeletons to come up between now and then.

  2. I actually agree with Huntsman on some issues like pulling out of Afghanistan, and his economic plan is quite good. But he has got to be the most arrogant candidate I have seen in some time. I wonder if he strikes others that way. He seems to spend his time lecturing everybody else.

    I am comfortable with Romney and would be Ok if he were the candidate, although we need to accept he would not make any major positive changes except to calm Wall Street and main street a bit. A Romney presidency would be better than Bush and better than Obama, but would not deal with our fundamental problems, and I fear Romney would the kind of president who would have no problem with invading Syria or Iran.

    Perry had a horrible debate Monday night but I’m not convinced yet it really matters to the voters who seem likely to jump on the Perry bandwagon. Perry is better on immigration than anybody else in the field and also said we should get out of Afghanistan, so this image that people have of Perry as some fire-breathing right-wing wacko is so far from reality that it is actually quite humorous.

    Bachmann would make a great Cabinet member but not a good president.

    Ron Paul is still the most principled candidate, and he is the only one guaranteed to shrink the size of government and get us out of these wars, so I will be voting for him in the caucuses, although I recognize he almost certainly will not win the nomination.

  3. Huntsman obviously wants Secretary of State or to make a run on 2016, why else would he skip pandering to the Tea Party and the anti-Science among Republicans? It’s laughable that anyone would consider Huntsman

    Democratic operative who should switch parties.
    Agreeing with liberals on one or two issues doesn’t make you a Democrat, it makes you a Reagan Republican.

    How is being a Mormon a negative for Romney, and being not-quite-Mormon also a negative for Huntsman? Shouldn’t the bigots be happy he’s turning away from a cult?

    Judging by the last debate, the Tea Party seems to want a Ron Paul who hates Muslims, loves invading Iran, and doesn’t want to educate anyone that is “illegal — I mean Latino”. And there isn’t anyone like that in the field.

    Bachmann will fade away, Paul will be considered a kooky old man by everyone other than the hardcore, and Romney or Perry will get the nomination. If I want Obama to win I’d hope Perry gets the nod, if I want him to lose I’d want Romney to get the nod.

    If Romney gets the nomination, the Tea Party will fade into obscurity, becoming the cranky minority that pops their heads out whenever the GOP machine needs someone to scream at whatever Democrat is in the White House, and never really accomplish much.

    “We’re the party of life…We ought to be coming up with ways to save lives,”

    – Rick Perry today on the cheering that went on last night at the idea of letting the uninsured die.

    Quick question for the Bachmann fans, do you agree with her that the HPV vaccine causes mental retardation, despite there being absolutely no facts to back it up? She’s a strange candidate because she seems to have no problem in throwing out complete fabrications as truth, even after being confronted with facts (Nancy Pelosi having a $100,000 bar tab, 30% of physicians would leave the field if Obamacare passed, the Swine Flu broke out under jimmy Carter, etc). She just seems to make stuff up off the top of her head, and won’t accept that she’s wrong. It’s so strange.

  4. Oh crap. Can someone fix my tags, or is it still understandable without them?

    Perry is a softer, less-extreme version of Bachmann that the old-school Republicans can get behind. I think her fate was sealed the minute he entered the race.

  5. Geoff,
    Huntsman does seem arrogant at times. He took several little snipes that didn’t really engage anyone on any real issues.

    Ron Paul looked good, except on one point that concerned me. He was asked about his website that blamed America for 9/11. While our foreign adventurism may have made enemies, it should not excuse them to kill 3000 civilians. Ron has some great ideas, but he seems to put a huge bomb out there on occasion that shocks everyone, and so no one listens to the rest of his message. The day after 9/11, there he was speaking and digging himself further and further into a hole. He received a bigger “boo” than Mitt Romney or anyone else, and this before the Tea Party people, many of whom support him! Want to end the Libertarian progress? Have Ron Paul put his huge foot into his mouth!

    I think Romney would stay out of most wars. He’s noted before that he would return to the concepts of the Weinberger/Powell doctrine.

  6. Ron Paul’s point was that it was due to the US involvement in the middle east that created the hate towards us, consequently leading tours the 9/11 attacks and I understand where he is coming from with that. Of course, that does not strike in the right direction with hawkish republicans.

    Huntsman has some great ideas, and Perry sounds like a “realist” about various heated issues such as Immigration. I’m surprised by the guy.

    Michelle Bachman, I honestly don’t think she’ll go far.. and it is already showing on the polls.
    As far as Romney, he has not been consistent. I like the guy but he is not genuine. He’ll go where the wind blows.

  7. I like Romney more all the time. I think he could be the best president by far, but he has a long way to go to win an election. I had thought that Huntsman was the LDS version of Obama (an empty suit full of ambition), but I was favorably impressed by his economic plan and his good behavior in the debates. I still think of him as more of a Democrat by inclination, but he does seem to have more good points than I thought. Having two Mormons in the race has been very good for Republicans. Hopefully, Mormon Democrats can make a good impact on that party too.

    I really don’t think it is good to look for a president to solve all wrongs and make everything better. I hope to see the best candidate elected, but I don’t expect him (or her) to part the Red Sea.

  8. Huntsman’s policy positions are very attractive to me, but he does come across as arrogant and it is hard to like him personally. I can’t fathom his strategy of sneering at segments of the Republican base, although I guess it has gotten him a lot of favorable press attention.

  9. Maybe it’s not a strategy, maybe he’s being honest. There is a segment of the population that looks down on the “keep the government out of my medicare” party.

  10. Next year’s election should be a victory for a Republican, but as a dyed in the wool Democrat, I am so happy the Republicans have such “wonderful” candidates
    Newt “Three Times A Lady” Gingrich
    Michelle “While I obey my husband I’ll be President” Bachmann
    Rick “Not as bright as Bush” Perry
    “The other Rick” Santorum
    Jon “Not as TBM as Mitt” Huntsman
    Mitt “TBM, the only thing I am consistent about” Romney
    Ron, “Do away with any government program that helps people” Paul

    It is just too bad. When the country has the problems we have today, we cannot find
    the “best and brightest” who are able both to run and win. Assuming Obama wins, the Democrats may have the same problem. Only someone from the second or third string can win the nomination in 2018.

  11. How amusing to hear tea party sentiments defined as “the Republican base.” In the not too distant past, the Republican Party had room for all kinds of people and the right wing was the right wing, not the whole wing. Now we are beyond even the mythology of Reagan who could not be elected in the current climate, possibly because he was more pragmatic than his rhetoric suggested. I suggest that Romney has not caught on more than he has because he is not a true tea party conservative, his rhetoric notwithstanding, and if you listen to him carefully you will hear the moderate to liberal Republican he used to be coming out. That encourages me, but I doubt many of you young libertarians who attended BYU and received a tithepayer-subsidized education will buy that.

  12. I’m a pragmatic Libertarian. I like Romney, and would not mind voting for him as president. Is he everything I would like in a president? No, of course not. But as President Reagan used to say, “the guy who agrees with me 80% of the time is not my enemy.”

    Many libertarians understand that we cannot easily get back to minimalist federal government overnight. We are very happy to take a few steps at a time in that direction, as long as we are headed in that direction.

    The problem is when Republicans are not heading in that direction. When much bigger government comes from the Republicans, especially unfunded programs like the prescription medical program, then we have problems that affect all of us. Slowing down the rate of deficit increase from $3 Trillion to $2 Trillion is not really reducing anything in reality. In the end, you still have an out of control default or bankruptcy.

    Many would be glad to elect Reagan again (although I agree that most do not look at his entire record, nor see him as a pragmatic conservative Republican, rather than a staunch or neo-con one).

    There is room for compromise. But it must be real compromise, and not just the fake stuff being offered by many Democrats today. Ed Koch was on Hannity’s radio program yesterday (one of the few reasons I would listen to Hannity). He said he voted for the Republican to replace Weiner, because he was a sane liberal, not one of the many insane ones we now find out there. I could vote for an Ed Koch. He looks at the real needs and solutions. I don’t see that in hardly anything we’ve been offered by Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, or Pres Obama in the last many years.

  13. Don, I am an middle-aged libertarian who attended Stanford, a private university, and paid for it myself. As for the Republican moderates and liberals, well, we got that with Dole, both Bushes and McCain. Didn’t do us much good as a party, and in fact did more to destroy the party than all of the Democrats combined. If the Republican party keeps on listening to the “moderates” (at least on spending and taxes), there will be no Republican party left.

  14. Romney’s the right man for the job but his Mormonism will probably ultimately prevent him from winning. I think it’s possible we’ll see Perry as the nominee with Huntsman as his running mate.

  15. John F, I agree Perry is very likely to win (although a million things can happen between now and February, when things will likely be decided). I don’t see any advantage for Perry picking Huntsman. He has no natural base (except fo the Eastern political establishment and media). Republicans are going to win Utah no matter who the VP is. Romney helps in Michigan, so he would make more sense (barring a complete Obama meltdown, Republicans are not taking Mass). Everybody is pointing toward Marco Rubio as the natural VP pick, and I see some excellent arguments there (Florida is a swing state, and Rubio is an extremely polished young guy, although I disagree with him on foreign policy — of course it doesn’t hurt that he is Hispanic).

  16. Perry could pick Huntsman because he has an irrational dislike of Romney but he needs someone who knows the first thing about business on board with him. But you are right about the political implications. Perry will go with a frat boy type. I doubt he will choose Rubio.

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