Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum speaks at his Iowa Caucus night rally in Johnston, Iowa, January 3, 2012. REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
With his surprise showing in Iowa, Rick Santorum has become the new hope of the conservative movement, or at least some in the conservative movement. Santorum has been getting pummeled at conservative sites like RedState.com for his past support for pork barrel spending and other big spending programs during the Bush years when the GOP abandoned nearly everything they claimed to stand for regarding the size of government. Santorum has not joined the anti-earmark bandwagon pushed by the Tea Party, and Erick Erickson keeps hammering him for that.
At least one prominent conservative, however, is offering support to Santorum – George Will. Will offers up a column defending Santorum’s record, so let’s see if that changes the minds of some Tea Party members who are skeptical of Santorum.
Herman Cain’s stated position on abortion is that he’s pro-life, even in cases of rape and incest. Yet when pressed in this video, he goes on to state that it’s up to each family and the government can’t get involved in the decision. Of course that’s a libertarian, pro-choice position.
Does he even understand the difference? Cain has embraced his own ignorance of issues relating to foreign policy, and apparently that ignorance extends to social issues as well.
This present a huge opening for candidates like Rick Perry and Rick Santorum. Rasmussen now has Cain leading in Iowa. Can that last with statements like this? Can he keep his Tea Party support?
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain waves as he arrives on stage before the start of the CNN Western Republican Presidential Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 18, 2011. REUTERS/Richard Brian (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS)
Few people if any thought Herman Cain could be a viable candidate for the GOP nomination. I certainly didn’t think so, particularly when he made some early gaffes.
Yet he’s leading the polls, presumably because he’s a Tea Party conservative with a sunny personality who has been pushing a simplistic 9-9-9 plan. How long will it last? Who knows when you consider some of the candidates that the Tea Party supported in the 2010 Senate races.
Even before Cain’s embarrassing debate performance last night, Joe Klein called him out in response to this Cain quote:
When they ask me who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan, I’m going to say, you know, I don’t know.
Klein wasn’t impressed:
Let’s say Cain was just joking, which is his all-purpose excuse on the myriad of occasions where his ignorance erupts into public view. Let’s say he actually knows that the name of the country is Uzbekistan. Does a prospective President of the United State really want to make fun of that? I mean–and I hope, Herman, you’re listening–there is a major airport in southern Uzbekistan that NATO has been using as a crucial transfer point for troops and materiel headed into Afghanistan. Wouldn’t want to tick off the Uzbek president, Islam Karimov…because it might make life significantly tougher for our troops over there. Not the sort of thing one jokes about, Hermanator.
I know what I’m about to say is impolite, but Herman Cain strikes me as something of a jerk and an ignoramus. He has made absolutely outrageous statements about Muslims, immigrants and homosexuals; he takes the most extreme position imaginable on abortion. Indeed, I have never, ever seen him acknowledge the idea that complexity exists in the world…or that an ability to weed through complex issues might be a qualification for the presidency.
No, the guy is a marketer. He had other people handle administration and finance at Godfather’s; he was all about the pies. Hence, we have his 9-9-9 plan, a truly rancid scheme to benefit the rich at the expense of the rest of the country, a scheme that would tax a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread.
As if to make Joe Klein look like a genius, Herman Cain had one of those days yesterday that would make normal people cringe. First, he stated on CNN before the debate that he would be open to trading all the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for an American soldier held hostage by al Qaeda. He was called out on this idiotic statement by none other than Michele Bachmann. If Bachmann makes you look stupid, then you really have problems.
He also sounded like a buffoon as he tried to explain his 9-9-9 plan by using fruit metaphors. The other candidates were not impressed, and I doubt that anyone other than die-hard Tea Party fanatics thought me made any sense. The candidates pretty much ignored Cain after that.
Who knows what happens next. I think Romney took some serious shots yesterday and Rick Perry is obviously going to keep on swinging at him.
Republican presidential candidate Texas Governor Rick Perry. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS PROFILE)
Rick Perry has been taking a beating, and not from Democrats. Perry has been pounded by his rivals for the GOP nomination and also by other conservatives after a string of humiliating debate performances. His comments on Social Security along with past positions on issues like HPV vaccines and permitting illegals to get in-state tuition rates in Texas have made him a target. He’s plunging in the polls and his wife is complaining that they’re being targeted for their religious beliefs.
But it’s still too early to count Rick Perry out, mostly because he has a ton of money. He raised $17 million last quarter, and he has a ton of cash on hand to go after Mitt Romney. Of course this is bad news for Romney and good news for Barack Obama, as it raises the possibility that Perry will use his money to weaken Romney and hammer him for his countless flip-flops.
The rise of Herman Cain and Romney’s flat poll numbers suggest that the GOP electorate is desperate for a conservative to emerge to take on Obama. Again, this is great news for Obama. This should also give Perry some hope, as Cain says things on a daily basis that disqualify him as a serious candidate.
That said, we can’t count Cain out either. We’ve seen that the Tea Party wing will nominate anyone as long as they come across as pure enough (see Sharon Angle and Christine O’Donnell), so maybe Cain will last longer that we expect.
In the end, the entire field is looking more and more like a confederacy of dunces. We knew we would have some wackos like Michele Bachmann and some earnest yet strange candidates like Rick Santorum, but this field looks worse and worse each day.