A Republican Frankenstein’s monster

By Nikhil Rao

Courtesy of MCT

As a politics wonk, I have been following the race for the Republican presidential nomination since May 2010. I’ve witnessed it all: from the rise of Michele Bachmann to the ignominious fall of Herman Cain. I’ve agreed with the pundits about each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. What I feel hasn’t been touched upon is how to piece together parts of each candidate’s positions in order to create the perfect, centrist Republican.

In a bid to keep matters simple – and somewhat sane – I will proceed to consider only a few candidates: namely Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman. For those who don’t already know, Romney is the easy target for the masses, worth over $250 million and paying around 15 percent capital gains tax on his income. Gingrich is the infamous former Speaker of the House who makes statements exceedingly dubious in nature and Paul is the untiring and affable deficit hawk and champion of liberty. Lastly, we reach Huntsman, which is all the more fitting given his natural ability to be constantly overshadowed. He strikes me as the most pragmatic, least partisan and the seemingly most rational of the current crop.

Romney has a tedious habit of changing his views. True, politicians must cater to their voter base that can easily change their minds, but when his views happen to distort ever so slightly each time he runs for public office, it can be disorienting. However, he does seem to have reliable expertise in the private sector and his time at Bain Capital would definitely help him. As David Rubenstein of the Carlyle Group attested on the Jan. 22 episode of ‘Fareed Zakaria GPS,’ Romney has laid out a plan to boost the economy’s upturn and has enacted moderate policies. While he may not be the person who gets your vote, he does possess some desirable qualities.

Gingrich is the only candidate to garner the anti-Romney votes twice and both have faltered after their initial peaking of popularity. I haven’t the faintest explanation for his popularity apart from the fact that very conservative voters vehemently despise what they perceive as Romney’s incongruity and blandness. Gingrich has an annoying tendency to provide terse but absurd retorts at debates to what he perceives as attacks on the GOP in an attempt to make the misled crowd stark raving mad. But I digress. This piece is meant to touch upon some of the candidates more agreeable points and in that light, appreciation for Gingrich’s cunning and presence of mind may be in order.

Next we have the cult-favorite Paul whose support is quickly fading – the latest Real Clear Politics poll allots him 10.3 percent of the vote. His foreign policy ideals are motivated by an interest in peace and America’s welfare and his distrust for the Federal Reserve is one of his most attractive stances. He believes that the federal government should, at the very least, be audited, a stance many agree with. Unfortunately for him, his pro-liberty stance puts him on the left on some issues, namely foreign policy and abortion, and explains why some deem him ‘unelectable’ with a cursory wave of the hand.

Huntsman, on the other hand, has been the most centrist of the lot. A couple of his lovely quotes are, “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy and “… I’m not going to pander.  I’m not going to bluster.  I’m not going to contort myself into somebody I am not.  And I’m not going to sign those silly pledges like everybody else has done.  And I’m not going to make that sojourn to Donald Trump’s office…” He is by far the least partisan Republican of this day and age. His stance on relations with China is antithetical to Romney’s in that he will not risk a trade war. I believe that his stints as the Ambassador to China and Singapore under President Barack Obama and George W. Bush make him experienced both in foreign policy and fostering compromise. In addition to all of that, he has had experience in the private sector and had a successful term as the Governor of Utah.

You may think that this column is akin to one of those yearnings for a ‘true moderate’ that lambasts the Republican Party for being so far right that sunlight takes eight minutes to reach them. But you are forgetting something: this happens to be a presidential primary where many of the voters are indeed very conservative. The candidates – apart from the relative paragon of sensibility Huntsman – may appear to be largely disconnected from the median voter, but they are merely trying to cater to their current audience. Expect a gradual shift back to the center once the other states begin voting.

Nikhil Rao is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]