Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON - Voters go to the polls next month to begin choosing a candidate who can put America back to work and that means preventing Barack Obama from winning a second term.

But the Republican and GOP-leaning electorate has been deeply divided over the past year about who that candidate should be, with its conservative base switching almost monthly from one presidential hopeful to another in search of a contender who will carry their banner and fulfill their hopes and aspirations.

Here are some of the overriding qualifications to look for in a candidate who can do that:

-- Rule out anyone who is not making the persistently weak, jobless Obama economy the number one issue in 2012. Countless national polls over the past three years of this administration show that no other issue comes even close.

Any candidate who isn't tirelessly and angrily pounding this issue in every speech isn't addressing our country's biggest problem.

Lots of other issues are important, like our government's mushrooming debt, but an economically weak America threatens our national security as a major power in an increasingly dangerous world.

And not just address this issue, but set forth an agenda to unleash the capital investment, market-expansion and job creating reforms that are needed to put tens of millions of Americans back to work: A growth agenda that calls for permanently lower tax rates on businesses, investors and workers alike, terminating costly job killing regulations, and expanding our export markets around the world.

-- No qualification is more critical in this weak economic environment than high level executive experience, preferably in both the private and public sector.

We've experimented with Barack Obama's attempts to spend ourselves out of America's Great Recession and he has clearly demonstrated that he's in over his head -- that he does not understand what creates jobs.

His tissue paper-thin resume as a community organizer and a state senator of no accomplishment, with a year or so of actually working in the U.S. Senate, doesn't come close to the experience standard needed to run the largest economic power in the world.

In the modern era, we've looked to governors who have actually run a state government -- FDR and Reagan come to mind, among others.

There's a reason why we don't elect House members to the presidency, especially those who have never held any leadership roles.

That would be virtually comparable to promoting someone in the mailroom to CEO.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.