Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Republican Presidential Field

I had the opportunity to talk to a Republican political consultant at dinner tonight at the Boathouse in Isle of Palms, SC. He is the cousin of a colleague, but I didn't plan to recount our conversation until later, so I don't have permission to use his name. Let's just call him Matt. Matt was pretty jazzed about the New York 09 election and its implications on the chance to beat Obama next year. He felt a little discouraged, however, because he felt that the leftist take over of the school system and colleges had brain-washed a generation of Americans. I disagreed; I think Americans are still capable of thinking for themselves and break free of liberal shibboleths as they get older. However, given this exchange between Obama and students in neighboring North Carolina, I can see his point.

He was also discouraged by the amount of damage he thought that Obama had done in his first two years in office. He felt that the country was going to have to kowtow to China because we owed them so much money. I responded with some of my previous discussion on China.

But the thing that really struck me was his lack of enthusiasm for the Republican field of Presidential candidates. He asked me who I liked, as if to see if I had any enthusiasm myself. My response was that none of the candidates really excited me, but Ron Paul was closest to my positions. I hastened to add that even though I voted for Paul in 1988, I didn't think he was electable and I thought he often comes across as a crank. Matt agreed, but also said he didn't like Paul's foreign policy positions. I also mentioned that Gary Johnson couldn't break through to get in the debates. Matt hadn't really heard of him. Matt offered that even though Rick Perry had the lead, he was making too many mistakes and was unlikely to win the nomination as a result. Matt asked me if I knew anything about McCotter; I did not. He comes across as too much about Texas. He mentioned how Perry in some ways reminded him of Bush, which Obama will use. He had come to see Perry announce his candidacy in Charleston. Matt felt like he was going to have to hold his nose and vote for Romney. It was pretty good dinner conversation, and I was glad to meet him.

Later, on the ride back, another dinner companion said he had listened to Perry when he visited San Diego. (Most of us at dinner were from SD.) His take was that Perry was all sound bite and swagger, and he wasn't impressed. It seemed the general consensus that Herman Cain was the most likeable candidate of the bunch, who had the best lines. But no one was supporting him on the basis of one-liners and a sense of humor. They just like the way he smacked down race-baiters.

Overall, it looks like this race is still wide open. With Republicans looking for a candidate to light the fire of enthusiasm. They may be disappointed. Maybe Gary Johnson can get some traction and start looking more serious.

Dinner was great, chipotle crab-stuffed tilapia and a decent Carolina beer, Highland Cattail Peak Wheat.