National Commentary

Gaffes, Not Gains, For GOP

The Republican candidates who are challenging President Barack Obama for the highest office in the land all leave something to be desired – even for party loyals.
Among those considered front runners for the presidential nomination are former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry, but neither seems to captivate the dwindling Republican support.

Whether charisma or character is at fault, the needed party following is still lacking.

Most of the GOP candidates seem to fall into the category of Hawks regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Two exceptions, who are considered moderate and more of the kind that would give peace a chance, are Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and veteran diplomat Jon Huntsman. Unfortunately, neither one seems to have a prayer of a chance for the presidency.

The problem with the Republican hopefuls is that none has tackled the country’s leading problem – unemployment. At least Obama has boiled the issue down to the need for jobs. What do the Republican candidates have to offer in terms of putting 14 million Americans back to work?

It’s hard to believe businessman Herman Cain’s rise in the polls. Is he a stalking horse for another candidate or is he for real?

Cain is in the embarrassing position of being accused of sexual harassment, by multiple women, when he headed the Restaurant Association.

He is evidently proud of his conservative credentials, but not appealing to most Republicans because he lacks passion and likability. Bottom line – Herman Cain is no real challenge for Obama.

Regarding Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Cain, it is hard to believe either one is still in the race.

The flubs by some of the Republicans are being highlighted in the campaign, and maybe unfairly, but that’s the way it is in the high stakes game for the White House.

Perry suffered a senior moment in a recent debate, which may be from now on a “Perry moment,” when he said he wanted to eliminate three federal departments and could only name two. He was able to recall Education and Commerce, but couldn’t seem to remember the Department of Energy, which oddly would significantly affect his oil-producing state of Texas.

Perry was put on the defensive for helping undocumented immigrant children to pursue their education – and why not?

Perry, who came on strong at first, seems to be all hat and no cattle. He is hanging in there – Perry is not the type to run from a fight.

Romney is the GOP’s best qualified candidate and currently leads the polls, but the party is reluctant to anoint him with the nomination. Romney is being questioned because of his flip flops as he tries to move toward the Tea Party.

The question is, are these candidates ready for primetime?

Of course, the GOP candidates could blame the media who are focused on the flubs or lack of substance in the debates, but they are in the spotlight and are being judged mostly by their peers and fans, who want them to measure up.

Nancy Reagan once complained that husband and former President Ronald Reagan’s campaign handlers had over prepared him for the campaign debates, thus confusing the President. Reagan usually deflected tough moments with humor. Reagan got away with a quip or two instead of digging into the debate. Politico noted Reagan once hit a lighter moment in a debate, when he said, “I paid for this microphone.”

The question of over exposure of the candidates has not come up, although it usually does in long-running campaigns.

It seems lightning will have to strike before the Republicans get their act together. At this point, the election is Obama’s to lose. His opponents are not galvanized. Clearly they are not satisfied with the Republican roster of presidential candidates. So far, it’s the best they have to offer, and Obama has a heads up.