By Doug Patton
Unless someone drops out before you read this, there are four men left standing in the race for the Republican presidential nomination: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul. One of them will face Barack Obama in November. Who will it be? More important, who should it be?
At the risk of getting cyber hate mail from the Ron Paul brigade, even he knows he will not be the nominee. Santorum should be on the short list to be anyone's running mate, but he will probably run out of what little money he has long before the finish line. He is a good man, but we most likely will not be calling him Mr. President anytime soon.
So it has come down to this, and the pundits and the politicos are choosing sides — Romney or Gingrich. Acid-tongued author-commentator Ann Coulter has endorsed Romney, which is a mystery to me (but then, I'm still trying to understand her irrational political crush on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, so I'm not really sure where Ann is coming from anymore.)
Sarah Palin, who broke my heart when she decided not to run, has said that if she were a voter in either South Carolina or Florida, she would "vote for Newt just to keep this thing going. "
MSNBC host and former Congressman Joe Scarborough has all but thrown himself into traffic to get people to listen to his diatribes about what a horrible leader he claims Gingrich was when he was Speaker of the House. Scarborough, who served under Gingrich, seems positively apoplectic about the Gingrich candidacy. Concerning Newt's tenacious nature, Scarborough has written that three species would likely survive a nuclear attack: "Cockroaches, Cher and Newton Leroy Gingrich. " It was not meant as a compliment.
Michael Reagan, son of former President Ronald Reagan, has enthusiastically endorsed Newt, as has former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, who took a run at the GOP nomination himself four years ago.
Perhaps more telling is the list of aging RINOs who have come rushing to Mitt Romney's defense since Newt cleaned his clock in South Carolina — DC dinosaurs like Bob Dole, who joined geriatric political establishmentarians like John Sununu and John McCain in attacking Newt and promoting Mitt.
Let me just state that I have grave reservations about both these candidates. Romney has demonstrated little to suggest that he is the conservative he claims to be. A look at the timid proposals on his web site belies the notion that he would be bold in dealing with the aftermath of an Obama presidency.
With Newt, despite the fact that we all love him in debates, we should ask ourselves how his pugnacious demeanor will come off against the suave, slick persona of Barack Obama.
I have had the opportunity to meet Gingrich on a couple of different occasions. I found him to be a driven visionary with a great love of country and an even greater love of self. He does, indeed, have an idea a minute. Some of them are brilliant; some are completely off the wall. One of his wrong-headed notions was to advocate for an individual mandate to purchase health insurance. Romney has also embraced this idea. Two major differences: Newt has repudiated the concept while Romney still defends it. And it is Romney, not Gingrich, who has actually enacted it into law.
Newt Gingrich has been a movement conservative for the last three decades. No such claim has ever been made about Mitt Romney. Newt engineered the first Republican House majority since the fifties in 1994, and then held it during re-election in 1996 for the first time since the twenties. And as Speaker, Newt pulled Clinton far enough to the right to pass major welfare reform, tax relief and four balanced budgets.
I know there are those who still long for a Sarah Palin or a Mike Huckabee, a Marco Rubio or a Paul Ryan. But they are not running. Newt, Mitt, Rick and Ron are. Make your choice. Because the one thing is certain: the United States of America, as we know it, cannot survive four more years of you know who.
© 2012 by Doug Patton
Doug Patton describes himself as a recovering political speechwriter who agrees with himself much more often than not. Now working as a freelance writer, his weekly columns of sage political analysis are published the world over by legions of discerning bloggers, courageous webmasters and open-minded newspaper editors.