The 2006 elections may have been only a mere five months ago, but in the era of the billion-dollar presidential campaign, that means only one thing: time for another election, baby!
The fundraising numbers for the presidential primary campaigns have just been released and for the first time in an eternity, the Democrats raised the majority of the cluster of cash. With the three Democratic frontrunners consisting of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards, the Democrats have reason to be energized. Unfortunately for the GOP, the top three Republican candidates have left their voters frustrated and disheartened. The leading Republican trio, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney, are each at serious risk of alienating substantial portions of their base.
First, there’s Rudy. Giuliani may be known nationally for his heroic handling of 9/11 as mayor of New York, but GOP primary voters are going to learn about a different Rudy. A good portion of the Republican voting bloc does not yet know that Giuliani is pro-choice, pro-gay, anti-gun and currently married to his third wife. They haven’t heard the stories about his connections to the now-indicted corrupt police commissioner Bernard Kerik. They haven’t yet viewed the YouTube video of a media event featuring Giuliani dressed in drag, having his fake tits caressed by none other than Donald Trump. Whisper campaigns and push polling will hit the primary states and Giuliani will be slimed worse than when Karl Rove insinuated McCain had illegitimate black children back in 2000. By the end of the ’08 primaries, Giuliani will be a corrupt, secretly homosexual, liberal trial lawyer turned mayor. And as much as the current crop of Republican politicians seem to love corruption, they hate secretly gay, liberal trial lawyers turned mayor. Probably enough to sink Rudy’s nomination.
Next we’ve got old Johnny. Senator McCain’s maverick image has always left the Republican faithful a bit uneasy. In order to ease the base’s doubts, he has recently taken a sharp right turn and embraced the one issue sure to get Republicans wet and sweaty: Iraq. However, even some conservatives have grown a bit uneasy about the war. Furthermore, McCain has now attached himself to the one issue that, should he be the nominee, is likely to thwart his candidacy in the general election.
Lastly, there’s Mitt Romney. The former Governor of Massachusetts has raised more money than both Giuliani and McCain and attempted to position himself as the “true conservative” in the race. But he’s got problems. Formerly pro-choice yet now, conveniently, pro-life, Romney oozes opportunistic ambition. So much so that he has been dubbed “Multiple Choice Mitt” and has brought up Republican evocations of a certain other Massachusetts flip-flopper. Not to mention, Romney’s Mormon faith may give him some trouble with die-hard evangelicals who view his religion skeptically. Additionally, his biggest accomplishment in office was a quasi-universal healthcare program – a big-government proposal that doesn’t exactly give one bragging rights in conservative circles.
Though the Republicans must nominate someone, each of the three candidates has his own ostensibly deal-breaking baggage. The nomination of Giuliani, McCain, or Romney would likely keep key conservative constituencies home on Election Day. Even worse for the GOP, the wrong nomination could open up a spot for a right-wing third party candidate to siphon off enough votes to kill a Republican quest for the presidency.
Of course, the Republicans could always nominate a more radical dark horse candidate such as former U.S. Senator from Tennessee turned “Law & Order” star Fred Thompson, or former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson, or some other conservative figure with the last name of Thompson. Although, nominating a conservative risks potentially losing too many moderate votes already disenfranchised by the Bush presidency.
Now, I’m not prescient, and the 2008 election could take a number of unforeseen turns, but I just call them as I see them and right now I’m confident in our candidates. The Democrats have the Three Musketeers and Republicans have the Three Stooges. We’re thirsty to take back the White House and they’ll hold onto power for as long as they can manage. The election will be long and unrelenting. Personally, I can’t wait.
Eric Goldman is a third-year political science major.