The Republican Primary Fight Has Once Again Become A Circus


We’re at nine candidates now with six more expected to announce. Fifteen Republicans and a stage that gives them license to tear each other apart. What could possibly go wrong? Hillary must be loving this.

How many more Republicans have to announce their bid to run for President before we say enough is enough?

Right now, there are nine Republicans already declared with at least six more who are expected to announce their intentions soon. The Democrats, meanwhile, have three declared candidates (Clinton, Sanders & O’Malley), which is more manageable and provides less possibility for a longer, more nasty primary fight. In my last article, I spoke about Senators Paul and Cruz, of Kentucky and Texas, respectively and their philosophical arguments and the voters they’ll attract. Since they jumped into the race, Sen. Rubio of Florida has announced, as well as neurosurgeon. Dr. Ben Carson, former HP executive Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (who did well in the early 2008 primaries), former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum (who did well in the early 2012 primaries), former New York governor George Pataki and Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina. Other candidates who have not yet announced include Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Rick Perry, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie.

That’s a lot of Republicans. And, let’s be honest, in all likelihood, it’s going to be a contest between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, right? Well, not so fast. A new poll released just yesterday by CNN/ORC show Mrs. Clinton’s dissatisfaction ratings at their highest in 14 years, with just 46% of respondents saying they view the Democratic Party’s frontrunner favourably, compared to 50% who view her unfavourably. The news is not much better for Mr. Bush, whose favorability ratings are at a mere 42%, and that’s among Republicans. However, no G.O.P. candidate, declared or not, gains more than 11% in any poll among themselves, and only Mr. Bush is competitive with Mrs. Clinton in states such as New Hampshire and Virginia, where he actually leads her.

So, if Governor Bush is so widely accepted to be the Republican Party’s nominee against Secretary Clinton, then why are the other 11 candidates running as well?

For starters, some actually would have a chance. Gov. Walker of Wisconsin, Sen. Rubio of Florida, and Sen. Paul of Kentucky all have a clear base and national recognition which could propel them forwards in the early primary states (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, etc.)

The other candidates, almost outwardly, are running simply to make a point. Lindsay Graham wants to make the center-piece of the campaign about foreign policy while Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum have a similar message focused on protecting American workers and social issues. Carly Fiorina makes the case for a business executive fixing America’s economy and Ted Cruz wants to talk about the Constitution and the role of government. I don’t think anyone truly believes any of these Republican candidates, or even those like Kasich or Christie, have a serious shot at facing a Democratic nominee in the fall, but politics, at least today, is about money- the ability to raise a lot of it, and to make a lot after running for President, especially if unsuccessful.

After candidates run and lose, they write books, give paid speeches and even join news networks as contributors. They’ll join boards or lobbying firms and their counsel will be trusted because, well, they ran to be leader of the free world. Unfortunately, I believe this is the driving force behind many of those who are running to win the Republican nomination. They run to promote themselves and make money afterwards, while rallying against the frontrunner and, in the process, making him or her weaker against their general election opponent. Romney was severely wounded after the 2012 G.O.P. primary because his fellow Republicans spent months trashing his record and, in turn, giving ammunition to the Democrats.

I’m happy the Republican National Committee has taken some serious steps to limit the number of people on a debate stage to anyone polling over 5%, which I think is reasonable. This primary is going to be a long and hard-fought campaign and will only mean that whoever is the nominee will, in all likelihood, face Hillary Clinton, and have months’ worth of attacks and negative ads spent against them which can only hurt the Republican Party’s prospects at winning the White House in 2016. If the G.O.P. truly wants to prevent the Democrats from winning a third consecutive term, they should try to weed out the candidates who are there for the spotlight and the money prospects only. If Republicans continue to eat their own and tear themselves apart at the seams, they will lose time and time again. We’re at nine candidates now with six more expected to announce. Fifteen Republicans and a stage that gives them license to tear each other apart. What could possibly go wrong? Hillary must be loving this.

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