With 21 months until the 2016 presidential race, the GOP field of candidates is large and impressive. Approximately two dozen prominent Republicans have expressed an interest in running for President. Most of the candidates are strong conservatives with solid credentials. Unfortunately, the field also includes two well known moderates, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who both have the ability to raise large sums of money and become a major factor in the upcoming election.
The most serious establishment candidate is former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who is the odds on favorite to secure the presidential nomination. Bush is actually leading in the polls with the most name recognition. With a brother and father who served as President, Jeb Bush will be difficult to beat.
In recent weeks, he has been aggressively working to lock up big donors and key activists. His campaign organization has been growing so steadily that it forced former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney to exit the race. In early January, Romney announced to a small gathering of donors that he was interested in running for President a third time. However, when he started trying to build a campaign network across the country, Romney realized that Jeb Bush has already signed up many of the top GOP contributors and consultants. Romney soon came to the realization that he could not raise enough money to seriously challenge Bush for the nomination. Thus, three weeks after floating a trial balloon expressing interest, Romney officially decided not to run for President.
Bush is a good man from a good family, but he is wrong on an array of issues such as taxes, immigration and common core. He made the ludicrous comment that Romney lost in 2012 because he ran too far to the right. The country does not want or need another person with the last name of Bush as President. Even Barbara Bush admitted as much in an interview last year. Unfortunately, too many big Bush donors do not realize this fact, showing how seriously out of touch they are with real Americans.
For those moderates who are not enamored with Bush, they have a viable alternative: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who is currently in Europe trying to burnish his foreign policy credentials. Christie met with Romney last week, as the former Massachusetts Governor left the race. Christie is considered a moderate on social issues, such as gay marriage. He is soft on immigration and has supported the Dream Act. In addition, Christie is a strong supporter of strict gun laws, which may be popular in New Jersey, but is likely to be very unpopular in the South. Sadly, like Bush, Christie is just wrong on too many issues.
The moderate wing of the Republican Party, otherwise known as the establishment, has controlled the GOP nomination process since the Reagan years. This wing of the party is usually at odds with the more conservative or grassroots wing of the party, which is often associated with the Tea Party movement. Most moderates view the Tea Party activists with disdain and will work tirelessly to prevent a conservative from achieving the nomination in 2016.
The problem with this scenario is that the moderates are very successful at winning the Republican Party nomination, but horrible at winning the presidential election. As evidence, we can view the failed presidential campaigns of George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney. The last true conservative, who won the Republican nomination, Ronald Reagan, won a 49 state electoral landslide.
If the Republican Party wants to win the White House again, a conservative needs to be nominated for President. This should be a foregone conclusion, but it is a subject of much debate within the GOP. The establishment wing of the party believes that only candidates like Bush and Christie can reach the Independent voters who are in play for every presidential election. In contrast, only a conservative nominee can reach the blue collar Reagan Democrats who are not typically Republican voters and unite the various groups within the party such as libertarians and evangelicals. Only a conservative presidential nominee will be able to draw a sharp distinction with a liberal Democrat candidate, such as Hillary Clinton, on the critical fiscal, social and foreign policy issues that will be addressed in the campaign.
In 2016, it will take a strong conservative to win the White House for the GOP and defeat the Democrats. By the next election, our country will have suffered through eight years of a dangerously liberal President. It will be essential for a true conservative to become our next President and rebuild our economy and bolster our national security.
Conservatism works as a framework for both governing and winning elections. Hopefully, a majority of Republican Party voters will come to this realization in time to save their party and, more importantly, save their country.