1. We always have a choice and we must choose to rally around a conservative candidate early in the process. It might be fun to flirt with the possibility of supporting the Ron Paul’s and Herman Cain’s of the world, but they will never under any circumstances win the nomination or defeat Obama even if they did. I’m not saying we need to support who we view as the most electable (which often is a John McCain type candidate) but we need a balance – like Ronald Reagan. Looking at the current field I see a handful of candidates who could fit this description:
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour – Conservative to the core, successful governor, and shrewd politician Barbour has the fundraising network in place as head of the RGA and the credentials to united conservatives. His biggest drawback is the optics associated with a southern governor versus the first black POTUS. Every GOP candidate is going to be accused of racism from the Left, so I don’t think we really need to worry about it. He is soft on immigration and that could be a problem too in Iowa but I still don’t see this being a major hurdle.
South Dakota Senator John Thune – Thune’s biggest problem is that he’s a senator, which doesn’t normally produce great candidates. However, he is well respected by the conservative base and has the charisma and the right policies to excite the country. He doesn’t have much of a national network though, but with the right campaign he could combat this pretty quickly. After all Obama didn’t have much experience on the national stage and he took the presidency.
Texas Governor Rick Perry – His biggest drawback is the Texas Governor parallel to George W. Bush that will be argued by his critics. This far removed from W’s presidency I think this is an obstacle he can overcome. Just listen to one of his fiery speeches and you’ll see what I mean. His immigration policies are pretty weak too. But if he avoids highlighting that he could be ok.
2. We must pound the issues that get Americans fired up even if Obama refuses to talk about them. The growing federal deficit and size of government need to be hit on at every campaign stop. We need to have a conversation on the role of the federal government and states rights.
3. After deciding on a candidate (hopefully soon after everyone has officially announced) we need to support them financially. Micro donations are key to a campaign if you can pile up enough of them. Obama got most of his money in $10 here and there over the Internet. Commit to send a few dollars a month to that candidate, as much as you can afford. Times are tough and we need as much money as we can get, but if Obama wins another 4 years you can be sure your money will go to more frivolous things like socialized health care.
4. Don’t get cocky, this race is far from over. Defeating an incumbent President is no small task. November 2012 are light-years away. We might not even be talking about the economy then. Don’t forget in 2007 we were talking about Iraq and immigration, and neither issue really played that much of a role in the election. We have to fight this battle like we’re 10 points behind at all times.
It’s going to be a long road to November 2012 and a lot can change between now and then. We must avoid fracturing the conservative base. In 2007 we split hairs on the issues with subpar candidates and John McCain won the nomination. We can’t let that happen again. The candidates will be far from perfect and there might not be the next Ronald Reagan in the bunch – don’t let that discourage us. In every election we have to do what we have to do to win. Keep your eye on the prize.