Beginning bright and early on the morning of Wednesday, November 3, the Presidential primary will begin. Already we are hearing buzz from Iowa, where candidates have conveniently been dropping by for visits.
So, I must once again remind Republicans, as I did in 2007, that “The Nominee is Key.” Back then I warned that if the GOP chose the wrong nominee, if we split our votes between too many candidates, if we bungled our primary process, we would lose. And sure enough, we did. Very few voters supported John McCain going into the primary. He ended up winning in a convoluted and illogical way mainly because of the crowded field of candidates. So when he emerged as the nominee, support for him was tepid, to say the least.
The same thing happened in 1996 when Republicans chose Senator Bob Dole as the Republican nominee for President. Dole never had a chance. McCain didn’t have much of a chance. Both of those Senators were not the best candidates Republicans had to offer; instead they were the most senior members of the field. Dole and McCain are both war heroes. They are both good men. But they were not good presidential candidates. Regardless of seniority, Republicans need to look for the most excellent candidate available. And the quality of “electability” is the most important quality in a candidate – otherwise it is all for naught. So when I hear names like Newt Gingrich and Haley Barbour being bandied about, I get nervous. Seniority is not an asset in a presidential race. See: Barack Obama.
The process is about to start again for 2012. It seems to begin earlier each cycle. Because of the sheer number of candidates who ran last time, we are hearing many of the same names again. Sarah Palin. Mitt Romney. Mike Huckabee. Some new names, also. Mike Pence. John Thune. Chris Christie. Even John Bolton. The bottom line: Republicans in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina will in effect choose the GOP Nominee for 2012. By the time the primary elections come to large states like Texas, the drama is usually over. GOP leaders in those early primary states must look at each candidate and decide who is the most viable conservative candidate. None of them will be perfect. But one of them must be chosen, and that one candidate must be able to beat Barack Obama. It is a daunting task. Let’s not drop the ball this time.