by MaryEllen Cagnassola
This presidential election year has been riddled with colorful conservative candidates. With religious wingnuts, petty GOP debaters, and a certain alleged sex offender turned politician, one could hardly call them the Reagans of their time. As is too often the case, choosing a Republican candidate is turning out to be a matter of choosing the lesser of the evils. This time, frontrunner Mitt Romney is that lesser.
Romney, a businessman and former governor of Massachusetts, has been called rigid and gaffe-prone by political analysts and journalists alike. These accusations are not entirely untrue. During an interview with CNN on Feb. 1, he said, “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.” This fumble earned Romney almost as much negative press as when he said “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me,” though he later clarified he was speaking of insurance companies that provide inadequate coverage.
Needless to say, Romney isn’t the most eloquent speaker; his indiscretions distort the true intentions of his policies and often give the impression that he is out of touch with Americans.
Romney possesses definitive financial competence and has had a successful business career. Eventually serving as the CEO of management consulting firm Bain & Company, he brought it out of crisis. As the national debt piles up, America needs a leader with an elevated understanding of finances, and a potential leader like Romney is all the more attractive with his business credentials.
“His income is more than that of the past eight presidents combined, and I feel he has a lot of knowledge to get us out of debt,” said senior Abigail Slaugh, a political conservative. “He seems to know how to handle money well.”
Romney also has a lifetime of experience in politics as the son of former Michigan governor George Romney.
Gingrich, a speaker of the House of Representatives in the 1990s, has gained a following through his effective public-speaking skills and political experience. Under his leadership, Congress was able to cut taxes and reform welfare. But on Jan. 26, Gingrich publicly pledged to put thousands of Americans on a permanent moon base by “the end of [his] second term.”
“I’m thinking Newt wakes up in the morning, thinks of the craziest thing to say and decides to campaign about it. Maybe his next plan is to get pigs to fly,” said junior Kelsey Meisch.
Though some argue that this campaign stunt is not lunacy and is based on mainstream science, Gingrich’s deliberate arrogance and unfounded self-certainty is distasteful and repellent.
And let us not forget Gingrich’s deep ties to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—the greed-driven, government-backed housing industry giants that provide a secondary market in home mortgages, purchasing mortgages from the lenders who originate them. Gingrich declines to comment or answer questions regarding his connection to the industry. His failure to clear the air raises questions about his integrity, a glaring red flag in this time of evident corruption in Washington.
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum’s focus lies in the wrong places. Instead of zeroing in on education, unemployment and America’s money woes, he perpetuates the conservative caricature by offering harangues against homosexuality and abortion. He consistently uses Christianity as a political platform, making for a potential disaster of a presidency. Santorum has been known to engage in name calling, asserting that supporters of secular politics are “haters” and “bigots,” despite his own prejudices.
“Santorum is living in a fantasy world,” said Meisch. “Mixing church and state is not okay because then you get theocracies and genocides. Having religion mingle with politics never goes well.”
In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Santorum defended his opposition to women in combat by citing the Israeli military, which allows women to enlist but not to fight. When Blitzer responded by informing Santorum that the Israeli military welcomes gay soldiers, Santorum danced around the issue, making it obvious that there is no basis for his policies, only religious opinion. Later he served up a laughable defense for himself by claiming men would become too “emotional” with women in danger.
Romney, though religious, has the ability to put aside his beliefs rather than imposing them on Americans through Bible-guided policies.
On the whole, Romney is, admittedly, not the perfect candidate. He has some work to do in terms of his public-speaking skills if he wants to be president. Despite this flaw, he is still the clear choice for the Republican candidate in the coming presidential election. If there is going to be a new leader for America, he needs to be financially competent, business-savvy and direct. Romney is all of these things, and with some fine-tuning, he has the potential to be even more.