Rich Tucker

Barack Obama’s overwhelming win in North Carolina seems to have ended the lengthy Democratic presidential primary process. Sure, Hillary Clinton’s vowing to fight on, and maybe she’ll keep running all the way to Denver -- but the media, eager to get on with the business of attacking John McCain, have already moved on (see, for example, TIME magazine).

Assuming Obama’s the nominee, there’ll be plenty of time in the months ahead to analyze a race between two candidates who are mirror images of each other in one critical way: John McCain wrapped up the Republican nomination by winning states (Massachusetts, California) he probably won’t carry in the fall, while Obama gained the Democratic nod by doing the same thing (North Carolina, Georgia).

So let’s look at another other national race. Or more correctly, the 435 local races that make up a national race. Things don’t look good for the House minority party going into the fall. In recent months, Republican candidates lost special elections in Illinois and Louisiana, giving up seats that had been in GOP hands for decades.

The congressional majority of President Bush’s first six years lost its way when it jacked up spending, increased the number of earmarks and created an expensive new entitlement plan (Medicare Part D). Not much for conservatives to brag about.

Over the next few months, though, conservative ideas could serve as guideposts for a new “Contract with America.” There are at least three good ideas just waiting to be articulated.

First is a topic near to every American’s heart: gas prices. They’re soaring, with no ceiling in sight. This presents a temptation for politicians to go with a cheap shot, but it’s pointless to say “gas prices have increased $1.50 per gallon since Nancy Pelosi was sworn in.” People see through that as a cheap political attack and rightly dismiss it, the same way they see through the silly claims that John McCain wants us to be fighting in Iraq for the next 100 years.

Instead, conservatives should offer substance. A key reason gas prices are so high is because the world isn’t producing enough crude oil. Supply and demand is pretty simple. If we want the price of something to come down, we must produce more of it.

Here’s where Pelosi leaves herself open to attack. “Drilling is the failed energy policy of yesterday that has brought us record gas prices today,” she announced at a recent news conference. But she’s wrong -- it’s our failure to drill that’s created a shortfall of supply.

Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for