Ken Connor

This behavior is not helpful, and does nothing to advance the conservative cause against Mr. Obama. Undoubtedly, those who have chosen to withdraw from contention under the GOP banner have good reasons for doing so, but now that they are no longer contenders they should repair to the sidelines and allow the candidates still in the arena to conduct their own campaigns. As non-candidates, the voting public doesn't much care what they may think about their colleagues' qualifications and prospects for success.

If the meteoric rise of Barack Obama taught us anything, after all, it's that in politics anything is possible. In the run-up to the 2008 presidential election, Hillary Clinton was the odds-on favorite for the Democratic nomination; she was the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Barack Obama, for all his charm and charisma, was an inexperienced junior senator dismissed by the Clinton camp as an unlikely threat, a proverbial Don Quixote tilting at windmills. But Hillary counted her chickens too early: Obama tilted, and he won.

This should be a lesson to those tempted to call the score before the last shots have been taken. At this point there is simply no way to know for sure who will emerge as the GOP nominee, and unnecessary chatter from the sidelines will only serve to distract American people's attention from those who are actually in the arena.

The GOP needs unity now, not divisiveness and backbiting. Those who have removed themselves from the running should comport themselves with restraint so that those remaining in the fray have a fair chance to make their case for candidacy. In the end, the American people will decide who they wish to represent the Republican voice in the next election, and they should be left to make this important decision without input from the peanut gallery.

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.