GOP Primary race is in full swing in Florida- a key swing state and a very crucial one, a must-win for the contenders in order to clinch the nomination. Florida has enhanced its leverage this year by holding an early primary, albeit at the cost of losing half of its delegates. With three different winners in three states so far, the race is a dead heat. For Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, this race might seal their fate and future prospects. Governor Romney has seen his comfortable lead in the earlier weeks eroding as Speaker Gingrich caught momentum and narrowed the lead. Speaker Gingrich gained impetus after his South Carolina win. However, Florida is no South Carolina, given its cultural and ideological diversity. Gingrich’s performance in the last debate in Jacksonville FL lacked the luster of his earlier performances in South Carolina. Romney was well prepared and boosted his performance despite his earlier fumbles.
Congressman Ron Paul is the only candidate in the GOP primaries who comes across as a credible, sane voice. He’s the only one who appears principled and true to his vision of upholding the constitution and the liberties it guarantees. The other candidates are marred by their lack of a principled stance. Their political posturing and nuanced messages tailored to the audience as they trek across the country are becoming increasingly evident. This leaves the GOP struggling to find an ideal candidate committed to its base and core values. The results of the primaries so far highlight such an inadequacy in this race.
Speaker Gingrich’s idealism about a ‘colony on the moon’ borders on a sense of naiveté. The applause to this fantastic and bold ambition did not resonate beyond the ballroom of the hotel in Cocoa, FL where he outlined this fantastic plan. This is a prime example of his political posturing. Lack of insight about the space exploration program is just one of the many areas where speaker Gingrich gets exposed. It also contradicts his prime selling point- lower taxes and a leaner government. No wonder his ‘moon’ talk was out rightly rejected by his fellow contenders.
On a question about the importance of religion, speaker Gingrich declared in Jacksonville, FL on Thursday that “one of the reasons I’m running is there has been a war on religion, particularly on Christianity in this country.” This is the same candidate who voraciously stirs the propaganda about ‘Shariah’ law being a grave threat to the US. By creating hype about an illusionary threat, he has repeatedly demonstrated his ignorance about the issue. ‘Shariah’ is a highly misunderstood term and for a US presidential candidate to take it out of context and propel myths is nothing short of despicable. ‘Shariah’ cannot be imposed upon people of other faiths and those who intend to do so or currently acting under its guise are misguided.
‘Shariah’ is a set of guidelines and obligations intended solely for the followers of Islam and this concept is not unique to Islam and Judaism and Christianity have similar guidelines for their followers. Speaker Gingrich intends to act as a defender of his faith ‘Christianity’, once he assumes the mantle of the President of the United States. Is that not in stark contrast to the Constitution that disallows and prohibits the federal government from establishing or preferring any religion? How would he react if a Muslim running for office makes a similar claim?
Hypocrisy is not easy to cloak and majority electorate can see through it. This is a prime reason the GOP race has been so obscure. Governor Romney despite his extraordinary organizational skills and pouring millions of dollars into his campaign faces a similar dilemma. When he distances from his past actions- his famous health care reform in Massachusetts now dubbed RomneyCare and his previous contrary stance on various social issues like abortion, his credibility is tarnished. He might clinch the nomination (solely due to an absence of viable alternatives); nevertheless, his inability to come clean with a clear, unambiguous ideological front will be hard to explain in the general elections. Moreover, simply bashing President Obama and painting him as the root cause of all the ills would not be enough. Citizens of the United States deserve to hear concrete, viable solutions and alternatives and not plain rhetoric, for fixing the economy. Government is no way like running a company. Despite Romney’s luminous business career, success in business does not automatically guarantee him greater credence as the commander in Chief.
Another bothersome fact in this GOP primary has been the eerie silence of its contenders on the foreign policy triumphs of the last three years. GOP is renowned for its hawkish stance in foreign policy issues. Despite President Obama’s exemplary achievements- ending the Iraq war and getting rid of Osama Bin Laden; GOP contenders remain mum and there isn’t even a passing mention of these grave threats that once were the cornerstone of GOP policy. Elections are won by drawing sharp contrasts and all’s fair in campaign season, but the GOP contenders must not overlook the fact that President Obama simply cleaned up the mess of his predecessor, George W Bush. In all fairness, it makes sense to give credit where it is due, especially when someone cleans up after you!