Evaluating the 2008 Field

On September 8, 2007, in General, by Neil Stevens

We have a great Republican field this Presidential campaign cycle. This is probably top to bottom the strongest Presidential field we’ve had in my lifetime. Well, I may be overstating the case a tad, since we were a mess in 1996 and I was thoroughly turned off by our two leading candidates in 2000. But, we go to the election with the party we have.

And the party we have right now is pretty good. Everpresent mainstream press negativity notwithstanding (Come on, has there ever been a year when there wasn’t some minor Republican scandal being blown up by the Democrats in the press?), I think we have every reason to be excited going into the 2008 election, because if we’re going to lose this one, it’s probably not going to be at the top of the ticket.

Before the 2004 election I made a chart of all my choices, and came to the conclusion that at the time, President Bush was the only person I could vote for. Today, I endeavor to make a similar chart, evaluating the candidates for the Republican nomination and ranking them.

While I consider myself conservative, I make no claims that the issues I choose here are definitively The Conservative Priorities™ or any such silliness. I claim these only to be my preferences, for how little they are worth.

I evaluate every candidate primarily based upon what I see on his website, using his own words to evaluate what his priorities are. However I also fill in the gaps using my own knowledge of the candidate’s track record where I can.

I am also open to correction on any of these guys. My only agenda is to represent my views; I’m not wedded to any particular candidate. I don’t care what his name is; I’ll support whoever represents me best.

Definitions of my categories:

  • War on Terror encompasses the global war on terror fought abroad, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, Indonesia, or anywhere else, as well as efforts at home needed to prosecute the war.
  • Border Security encompasses securing our ports and borders, as well as ensuring people are not allowed to remain in this country without passing through the thorough screening immigrants are supposed to receive.
  • Taxes encompasses the candidate’s willingness to raise or lower taxes of any kind, whether income, gasoline, death, or tariff.
  • Spending encompasses the candidate’s efforts to contain the entire two trillion dollar budget. Mandatory spending efforts dwarf pork.
  • Federalism is a broad category, measuring how quick a candidate is to try to federalize an issue for political gain or because of political expedience, versus a willingness to leave an issue to the states when it it just, even if the fight at the state level will be harder.
  • The Judiciary refers to a candidate’s track record in supporting the placement of good judges on the bench, as well as a willingness to stand up to judges that go too far.
  • Other lets me reward or punish a canddiate who is striking in areas not listed here, such as monetary policy, abortion, or tax reform.

The Chart:

Candidate War on Terror Border Security Taxes Spending Federalism The Judiciary Other
Brownback Good Mixed Good Mixed Poor Good Good
Cox Good Good Mixed Good Mixed Unknown Poor
Giuliani Good Poor Mixed Unknown Good Poor Poor
Huckabee Mixed Mixed Poor Poor Poor Unknown Poor
Hunter Good Good Poor Unknown Poor Mixed Poor
McCain Mixed Poor Mixed Unknown Good Mixed Poor
Paul Poor Good Good Unknown Good Unknown Poor
Romney Good Good Good Mixed Good Unknown Mixed
Tancredo Mixed Good Poor Good Good Good Poor
Thompson Good Good Good Good Good Unknown Mixed


Brownback: Wants government to act on ‘energy independence,’ and ‘decency,’ but gets credit for being anti-UN. Strong on traditional values. Favors Bush ‘path to citizenship?’

Cox: Sounds protectionist, never won elective office before?, seems to have no problem with increasing the federal government on his issues. Site issues page says nothing about judges.

Giuliani: Cut taxes, but a big surplus is troubling. Site issues page says nothing about SS/Medicare/Medicaid. Sued to maintain NYC’s status as sanctuary for illegal aliens. Expressed support for taxpayer-funded abortions as a Constitutional right. Said that his judges could uphold Roe.

Huckabee: Powell Doctrine? Obama-like talk re: Pakistan? Regional summit presumably including Iran? Forget spending and his seeming support for a ‘guest worker’ program, I question Huckabee on the war. Throw in pro-subsidy, ‘energy independence,’ ‘obesity,’ and ‘fair trade,’ and we have a real loser. No word on ‘mandatory’ spending, but seems to favor government ‘health’ programs.

Hunter: Fair Trade, yawn. Big government for values as far as the eye can see. No word on ‘mandatory’ spending. Nothing in his judicial priorities with respect to interpretation of the law. Personally would cost me money re: gambling.

McCain: Spending discussion talks pork, neglects ‘mandatory’ spending. ‘Torture’ amendment shows willingness to make enemy propaganda as senator. Opposed some of the President’s tax cuts. ‘Gang of 14’ blocked some good judges from the bench. Leads vocally as a maverick, but gets quiet when with the majority of our party. Talks dangerously re: ‘global warming.’

Paul: No plan for entitlements. Would cut and run in Iraq. Weird, deflationary monetary policy. Isolationist. No word on judges.

Romney: Talks about Iran, not Pakistan. Committed to keeping our markets open against protectionism. Specifically says what I say: that the key to spending is entitlements, but offers no specifics. No word on judges. Flip flops though? Run for Senate was troubling.

Tancredo: Timetables for Iraq? Blech. Another pro-tariff, protectionist candidate? What happened to us? Team America PAC allies itself with Buchanans and Evilcons.

Thompson: Excellent statement re: UBL. Acting credentials lend credibility to ability to communicate effectively. Prior BCRA support troubling, though he now suggests support for drastic reductions in CFR. Website says little re: Iraq, focusing instead on total war against “Radical Islam.” No commentary up on the Judiciary.

Clearly I have my favorites, but at the same time I’m a tough grader, given how badly the whole field scored in my catchall category. There’s something to knock for everyone. But looking at this table, it’s clear that were it not for Tancredo’s Buchananite tendencies I’d vote for him in a heartbeat. Other than him, though, this exercise makes me favor Thompson and Romney even more, while seeing Huckabee as far worse of a candidate than I ever imagined.

In conclusion: Thompson/Romney ’08!


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