Choosing a political candidate is similar to dating. There are men with whom you flirt. There are men who you date. And then there are the men who are so exceptional that you take them home to meet the parents. Women learn the difference between these kinds of men with varying speed. The Republican Primary voters (according to the polls) have flirted with most candidates and even dated a few - Romney, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, and Gingrich. Each one of the aforementioned candidates have surged in the polls and generated excitement in the Republican Party only to lose attention later. This primary reminds me of those who are serial monogamists – being head over heels for someone for a month or so and then moving on to the next “best” shiny thing.
After flirting with and/or dating Romney, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, and Gingrich, Republican voters have yet to seriously consider Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. Admittedly, after finding out Rick Santorum was running, I instantly thought he was the best man for the job. But, like many, I later got distracted by some of the other bright shiny things. I “flirted” with a few candidates and even dating one.
Governor Mitt Romney
For the record, I have never trusted Romney. He is the “too good to be true” guy. He is the guy that admits that he cheated in the past, but promises to never do it again. He is good-looking and well spoken and will tell you anything you want to hear. In my earlier naïve years, I may have flirted with Romney. I may have even been stupid enough to date him. However, I learned long ago that this kind of man will disappoint you in the end with either infidelity or inability to commit. Romney is definitely not the marrying kind.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann
Bachmann is included in this list of those who Republicans have “dated” because of her early surge in the polls before Perry announced his candidacy. I strongly considered Bachmann as her values closely align with mine. However, I was disturbed by what I thought to be intellectually dishonest comments attacking other candidates. This made me question her ability as candidate. It also made me wonder if I could trust her. As with any relationship, trust is imperative. I am not sure why she chose to misrepresent the Gardasil issue. If it was a mistake, it was a big one in my book.
Governor Rick Perry
After seeing Rick Perry speak at CPAC 2011 in Washington D.C., I really wanted him to enter the race. He has strong conservative principles and a proven record of success as Governor of Texas. His stance on State’s rights and promise to make Washington irrelevant was all the sweet-talking a lot of us Republicans needed. He is charming with his Texas swagger, confidence, and patriotism that is so lacking in the White House today. However, that charm started waning with each passing debate where Perry turned in disappointing performances. Furthermore, many Republicans disagree with his stance on immigration reform in the State of Texas. Aside from a few issues, Rick Perry is one of the most proven conservative candidates in the race. He will need to recapture that spark among voters again and convince them that he can stand toe to toe with Obama in a campaign. Perry is a datable guy if he can just work hard enough to make us believe in him again.
Cain was certainly an attractive candidate – a man whose confident and straight-forward way of talking gained attention among Republicans. Cain was a refreshing change from the field of professional politicians. His strong conservative convictions and unique delivery caused many voters to flirt and even date Cain for some time (there is no pun intended here). However, his lack of knowledge on foreign policy coupled with his reputation as a “ladies man” (whether deserved or not) destroyed his chances to ever be brought home to meet the parents.
Speaker Newt Gingrich
Who could resist a flirtation with Gingrich, a former conservative hero that ushered in a Republican majority in Congress for the first time in 40 years in 1994? In debate after debate, Gingrich proved that he wasn’t just a flash in the pan from the 90’s, but a powerhouse of intellect and debating prowess. This combination caused a large jump in his polling numbers as many Republicans decided to take the plunge and date Gingrich. Unfortunately for Gingrich, many of those voters were reminded of Gingrich’s entire record. Not only had he supported liberal policies in the past, he continues to express his admiration for one of the most far left Presidents in history – FDR. Hearing this made me want to break up with him on Twitter instantly. Like all relationships, when you realize your values do not align on serious issues, it is probably best not to proceed forward. Many are still dating Gingrich, perhaps hoping that they are dating the Gingrich who wrote “The Contract with America.” I hope that he is that man. But, I think that his recent statements have shown that while he is a conservative sometimes, he still believes in using big government to achieve his goals. So, that leaves us with Ron Paul and Rick Santorum.
Congressman Ron Paul
I don’t think conservative voters have ever given any real consideration to dating Ron Paul. Let’s face it – Ron Paul supporters have married and pledged their life-long fidelity to him long ago. These libertarians are like enthusiastic newlyweds proclaiming to the world their love. Conservatives have flirted with Paul’s ideas more than the man himself. He has raised the bar for many other candidates on economic issues such as the Federal Reserve and even on some foreign policy issues. However, while many Republicans are open to suggestion that America is suffering from battle fatigue and our military is overextended around the world, what we really want is a hawk in the White House. We want to be protected from those in the World who would destroy America. Republicans can’t date or marry Paul because we just don’t think he can protect our country. We can’t trust him to be Commander in Chief. Everyone knows that a relationship without trust is really no relationship at all.
Senator Rick Santorum
For me, it began and will hopefully end with Rick Santorum. He was the first guy in the room I noticed. He is smart, has strong conservative convictions, and conveys them well. Unfortunately, I think many voters have put him in the “friends” category because they didn’t really feel that “spark” they felt with other candidates. Rick Santorum is the good guy. He doesn’t have baggage. He is consistently conservative. He is a family man. He is the guy the girls pass over to date the bad guys. He is the guy that is a great friend to those girls even though they repeatedly make mistake after mistake. After some period of time, girls turn into women and learn that the bad guys are not the ones to marry. Then they turn their attention to the “marrying kind”. They turn their attention to a man like Rick Santorum. It is time to stop flirting with candidates whose values don’t align with ours with the false premise that only they can win. This primary is time for conservatives to choose. It is time to find that candidate to take “home to meet the parents.”
Rick Santorum has a consistent, proven record of social and economic conservative principles and an impeccable character. He believes in American Exceptionalism. He is a hawk on foreign policy. He has a proven record in the United States Senate working to reduce dependency on welfare and protecting the sanctity of life. He is also a fiscal conservative who has obtained high scores from the American Taxpayers Union and pledged to end crony capitalism in Washington. Rick Santorum is the total package. As Rush Limbaugh said on Wednesday – “I love Rick Santorum, if he won I would never have to wonder if he would do the right thing.”
The question confronting conservative voters in this primary is will we do the right thing? Will we vote for the person we believe in and trust? Or, will we let Washington insiders and pundits tell us to lower our standards and support a more “electable” candidate? We have several great candidates running in this primary. As any good friend would advise, life is too short to settle when choosing a mate. As I advise here, this election is too important to settle for anyone but the best. This is why I am supporting Rick Santorum.