Mike Needham

In the next few weeks, the Republican presidential field will continue to take shape with Gov. Mitch Daniels and Gov. Haley Barbour expected to announce whether they will compete. There’s a lot of talk around the country – especially among conservatives – about who will be the savior of the Republican Party as the presidential candidate in 2012. All of that talk is premature.

It’s premature based on three premises. First, presidential primaries are, overwhelmingly, about scoring political points rather than confronting difficult challenges. Second, across the nation and in Washington, DC, conservatives are in big ways challenging the establishment and attempting to confront difficult challenges. Finally, conservatives will win the 2012 election only by proving they are trying to tackle our nation’s problems, not by clever political tricks.

So, my fellow conservatives, let’s hold off on getting spun up over the presidential primary and focus on Washington and in the states where the real challenges are.

Think back to four years ago when the last presidential primary was raging. Sure there were some moments where important philosophical differences were brought forth. You immediately think of Fred Thompson’s very clear explanation of why Gov. Mike Huckabee is not a part of the traditional Reagan coalition of conservatives:

“This is a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party and its future. On the one hand, you have a Reagan Revolution; you have the Reagan coalition of limited government and strong national security. On the other hand, you have the direction that Gov. Huckabee would take us in… He believes we have an arrogant foreign policy in the tradition of blame America first… He has the endorsement of the National Education Association. And the NEA said it was because of his opposition to vouchers. He said he would sign a bill that banned smoking nationwide – so much for federalism, so much for state’s rights, so much for individual rights. That’s not the model of the Reagan coalition. That’s the model of the Democratic Party.”

Other than those few moments, however, there was a lot of, frankly, nonsense. There was the snowman asking presidential candidates what they will do about “the single most important issue to the snowmen of this country” – global warming. Hillary Clinton ran around the state of Pennsylvania drinking shots and beer at bars. It was not a process that rose to the level of the challenges facing our nation.

Mike Needham

Mike Needham is the Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Action for America, a grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to advancing legislation that promotes freedom, opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.