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Acting Presidential (Part II)

By Kevin Robinson in News on Feb 1, 2007 2:50PM

2007_1_white_house.jpegYesterday we gave you a preview of who might be running for president in the Democratic camp. Today we turn our focus to the right, looking at the Republican side of the primaries. Since Dick Cheney isn't going to seek the presidency this time around, the field is wide open for any Republican to join the fray, hoping that his agenda is the one that will resonate most with conservative voters. And not unlike the Democratic field, the Republican contest looks like it will be just as crowded, with a whopping ten white guys in suits all vying to be the front-runner. Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, Chicago Republican John Cox (former president of the Cook County Republican Party), and Riverside, California, Congressman Duncan Hunter have all officially filed with the FEC as candidates. Among people that have formed exploratory committees but haven't formally announced their intentions are former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Arizona Senator John McCain, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney, suburban Denver Colorado Congressman and paleoconservative Tom Tancredo, and former Wisconsin Governor (and former Secretary of Health and Human Services under George W. Bush) Tommy Thompson.

The early front runners in this race are not as obvious as they are on the other side of the political spectrum, with the Republican Party dealing with some in-fighting over the direction of the party after the losses in last November's elections. Most potential candidates are also over-shadowed by both whats left of the Bush presidency, and decisions yet to be made about the course of the war in Iraq. One thing is clear at this point, though: whoever emerges as a front runner will have to both carry the conservative base and be able to reassure voters that he has a plan to deal with the problems in the Middle East.

That said, several Republicans either are regarded as being strong candidates with a lot of potential, or have to ability to influence the direction of the Republican Party in the upcoming national elections. It goes almost without saying that John McCain will go far, at least early on. Known for being an independent within the party, he is widely regarded as a leader in "common-sense conservative" circles, carrying the mantle of smaller government and lower taxes while guiding federal spending to the states. He has struggled recently to define his position on the war in Iraq, and in maby cases seems to have snuggled up with Bush on this issue.

Rudy Giuliani, known by some as "America's Mayor" in the weeks and months after 9/11, faces an uphill battle if he is serious about not only getting the nomination, but also winning the presidency. He delivered a keynote speech in '04 to the Republican National Convention, but if he plans to run on 9/11 and terrorism, he's in for a surprise. As a "leaked" campaign playbook pointed out, Giuliani is vulnerable on many fronts, and the days of cage-rattling and drum-beating about jihadists seem to be waning.

Mitt Romney has widely been considered by many conservative commentators to have the best chance to win the nomination, and he has beat both Giuliani and McCain in fundraising efforts. While he painted himself as a moderate in his gubernatorial run in '02, he has moved decidedly to the right since then, especially on social issues. He'll have to contend with Huckabee, Tancredo and Brownback for those votes, though, as all three are quite conservative on an array of issues that are dear to the hearts of many conservative voters.

We won't take sides on this one. McCain is clearly the most moderate of the bunch, but Chicagoist takes issue with his fundamental economic values. We will make this prediction, however: this primary will be definitive for the Republican Party, and with so many conservatives running on so many different issues, the early front runners will set the tone for the right side of this election. With an unpopular president leaving office, and a legacy of an unpopular war facing the next White House, we're sure this election will be a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party, pitting social conservatism against economic conservatism. With so many candidates talking about security and values, and more than a few running on the ideals of Ronald Reagan, we'll leave you with this campaign ad from a different time and place in American politics.