By Sonjay Singh ’15
As the 2012 Presidential Election looms closer, the fight for the GOP nomination has become increasingly brutal, leaving only four candidates remaining to fight for the prize.
Here is what they stand for, their strengths and weaknesses in the coming election and our hypotheses for their success.
A Long-time Congressman from Texas and former OB-GYN, Paul is best known for his anti-war sentiments, opposition to “The War on Drugs” and conservative fiscal policy. A staunch libertarian, Paul believes that “the proper role for government in America is to provide national defense, a court system for civil disputes, a criminal justice system for acts of force and fraud, and little else.”
Pros: Paul has an extremely loyal base of support, can speak knowledgably about the economy and also has some potential to win over democrats with his anti-war, pro-drug stances. Obama’s support when polled is lowest when Paul is on the ballot.
Cons: His stances on drugs, war and his opposition to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” put him at odds with the majority of the Republican Party. Although he has a strong core group of supporters, it will be hard for him to expand it. Also, the media tends to ignore him, despite his success in the polls.
Chance of Winning the Nomination: Very low, Paul’s views are too extreme to win over the majority of Republican voters.
An Evangelical Christian who is opposed to same-sex unions and birth control, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is as Conservative as a politician can be. He has pledged to eliminate growing libertarianism in the Republican Party. He believs that the idea of a “right to privacy” does not exist in the United States Constitution.
Pros: Santorum is a strong speaker who is successful in debates. He is clearly very conservative and resonates particularly well with Evangelical voters.
Cons: Santorum doesn’t believe in global warming, gay marriage, contraception or privacy. He is not only too far to the Right to win over Democrats, but also too extreme for many in his own party. His tax policy has also been heavily criticized as ineffective.
Chance of Winning the Nomination: Nonexistent. Santorum is too extreme to win all but the reddest of states. His showing in the South Carolina primary (third place, with 17%) shows that he has no appeal with moderate Conservatives.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has gained a reputation as a strong Conservative and a brilliant debater. Although he was written-off earlier in the election cycle, he has recently had a surge of support, making him a real contender.
Pros: Gingrich is probably the strongest speaker among the Republican candidates and the only one who could debate successfully against Obama. He has influenced and driven forward key Republican legislation such as the Defense of Marriage Act, welfare reform and impositions of term limits. He is considered a staunch Conservative and has the record to prove it.
Cons: His support in the past for Cap-and-Trade legislation and recent shift towards support of bigger government will definitely be used against him. He also has a messy personal history which includes cheating on his wife while she was suffering from cancer.
Chance of Winning the Nomination: Decent. If Gingrich can continue to ride his newfound support to a win in Florida, he may have a chance. However, it is more likely that he ends up being the runner-up.
Former Governor of Massachusetts and runner-up for the 2008 GOP nomination, Mitt Romney has been the frontrunner since this race began. He has strong name-recognition, a history of Conservative achievement and a backing team that knows how to fundraise and campaign effectively.
Pros: Romney has a high-level of support among Conservative voters and a history of political success. He has endorsements from Dan Quayle, Chris Christie and Tim Pawlenty among others and has generally enjoyed little criticism from the media.
Cons: Because of a lack of support from Conservative Democrats, it is unlikely Romney could win the general election. He also implemented and defended a healthcare plan in Massachusetts that is extremely similar to “Obamacare” and has a primarily pro-abortion record.
Chance of Winning the Nomination: Very high, unless Gingrich can really surge, Romney will win the nomination. However, it remains to be seen if he can beat Obama.