Why Mitch Daniels Should Enter the Race: The Real Conservative Alternative
The truth, as Daniels went on, is that Republicans “alone have passed bills to reduce borrowing, reform entitlements, and encourage new job creation, only to be shot down time and time again by the President and his Democratic Senate allies.” He and we stand for a pro-jobs, pro-growth economic policy, the kind that the blue-collar working-class (that the Democrats have abandoned) understand and will support. If we fail to do this, he concludes accurately, “there will never be enough public revenue to pay for our safety net, national security, or whatever size government we decide to have.”
The question is: Why cannot the current crop of proclaimed candidates have the ability and the wherewithal to make this case so cogently and in a way that does not seem threatening to independents and swing voters? Let us face the truth. If nominated, Newt Gingrich will be Obama’s greatest gift, producing a majority for Obama that in a normal political climate should be an easy defeat for him and victory for the Republican Party in 2012. As Ryan Mauro points out in Frontpagemag.com, the polls show Romney outperforming Gingrich in every major swing state -- precisely those that have to be won if Obama is to be defeated. He concludes:
If the election were held today between Obama and Romney, the president would win with 301 electoral votes. If Obama ran against Gingrich, he’d be re-elected with 357 electoral votes. Based on the polls today, it is undeniable that Romney is much more electable.
In a similar vein, the editors of National Review write that,
Gingrich as nominee would have to train his fire on Obama, who will be able to fight back as John King could not. Nor will the public at large be as impressed by Gingrich’s willingness to attack Obama as a clueless radical as Republicans are. (If voters decide in 2012 to reward the most slashing or sardonic debater before them with the presidency, it will be a first.) When Republicans found themselves in tight spots during the Reagan presidency, they waited for their leader to give a speech to show them the way forward and rally the troops. When Gingrich was Speaker, Republicans never sought him to intervene in legislative debates to turn the tide.
The main point as to why Gingrich is so vulnerable, they argue, is that “only Gingrich has never been elected to office from anything larger than a congressional district; only Gingrich has never had to reach beyond the Republican base vote to win an election.” The only constant in his lengthy decades-long career is that “Gingrich has never been popular. Polls have never shown more than 43 percent of the public viewing him favorably at any point in his career. Gingrich backers say that he is inspiring. What he mostly seems to inspire is opposition.”
The NR team is correct. Newt Gingrich’s high votes are the result of a Republican unrepresentative base that wants a bloody fight and a shouting match -- one that in fact will not occur in the two scheduled presidential forums, whose character is determined by the administration’s committee, and which will be anything but the model of a Lincoln-Douglas debate that Gingrich continually promises.
Gingrich also falsely continually compares himself to Ronald Reagan, with whom he says he worked to overthrow the Soviet empire, among other things. But as Elliott Abrams points out in a devastating review of where Gingrich actually stood when Reagan was president, more often than not Gingrich levied dangerous and false charges against Reagan, when he was developing a policy that actually led to the Soviet Union’s eventual collapse.
Of Daniels, Bill Kristol says somewhat with tongue-in-cheek, “if Mitch Daniels’s effective tax rate is 30 percent rather than 15 percent, and if he was never paid $1.6 million by Freddie Mac, he can be the next president.” To put it another way, Daniels does not have the negatives for the general electorate of both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.
Yes, Daniels is not running, and for personal reasons, he decided long ago not to enter the race. I understand that there are family considerations. But if this election is so critical for our future as conservatives argue, a candidate with a chance to defeat Obama should put country ahead of family. Daniels is a man who has both private sector and government experience, is popular with Democrats and independents, and has won elections from the votes of both these groups in Indiana.