Ryan Chartrand

Happy New Year! Welcome back to school. I hope you’ve all had a wonderful break. I know many of you are looking forward to this year, especially those graduating seniors. Of course, most of us wish we were back at home snacking on Grandma’s cookies and sleeping until noon, but alas, all good things must come to an end.

Unfortunately for my fellow Republicans and me, this year does not seem to bode well for our election hopes. While most Republicans seem to be relieved that Hillary Clinton lost in Iowa, a lot of us were actually slightly disappointed, although we won’t admit it. Don’t get me wrong, we love to see Clinton lose and we would never want her to be president. However, many of us were really rooting for a showdown with her this fall because Clinton is someone we know that we oppose. Most Republicans, myself included, naturally assumed that Clinton would automatically get the Democratic nomination. We were also counting on the fact that she would draw more Republican voters out, simply because they opposed her. The game plan was simple; in the fall, Republicans would launch a massive and effective anti-Clinton campaign that would propel a Republican into the presidency. It wouldn’t matter which candidate, just as long as it wasn’t Clinton.

Now this Obama guy is throwing a monkey wrench into the whole Republican plan. Yes, Obama definitely has his faults, but they’re harder to attack. To most voters, Barack Obama seems to be a nice young guy who seems awfully charismatic. Never mind the fact that the guy always talks in generalities and never seems to give any specifics. He also doesn’t seem to have very much experience, something that most political analysts consider a negative, but which, ironically, many in the American public consider a positive. If Obama were to win the Democratic presidential nomination, it seems he would have a much greater chance to defeat a Republican contender than Clinton. For instance, in polling data collected by RealClearPolitics.com, which averages several national polls, Obama holds more than a 7 percent advantage over Rudy Giuliani in a general election match-up while Hillary only holds less than a 2 percent advantage against Giuliani. Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney all trail Obama in an election match-up by more than 10 percent, although John McCain (surprisingly) would be tied against Obama in a mock election.

On the Republican side of things, the situation seems to be a mess with no candidate having a clear advantage. Of course, there is this Mike Huckabee, preacher and governor of Arkansas, who seems to be on a roll after winning Iowa. Mike seems to be a nice guy, a clever speaker and a media darling, making recent appearances on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “The Colbert Report.” However, he seems more equipped to be a high school football coach than to be president. Mike Huckabee’s win really concerns many mainstream Republicans who consider themselves part of the Reagan Coalition, a coalition that combines the interests of both social conservatives and economic libertarians. While Mike Huckabee certainly makes legitimate appeals to social conservatives with a strong pro-life record, he completely ignores the interests of economic libertarians, who want smaller government and less taxes. If it weren’t for his positions on social issues, Mike Huckabee’s rhetoric on economics is nearly identical to John Edwards; they both complain about a shrinking middle class and corporate greed.

(On a side note, it is true the middle class is shrinking – the percentage of Americans making between $30,000 to $100,000 a year is less now than it was in 1979 – but according to economist Stephen Rose and columnist George Will, the percentage of Americans earning more than $100,000 a year has doubled while the percentage of Americans making less than $30,000 remains unchanged.)

Continuing on, Mike Huckabee has no foreign policy experience, something that most Republicans consider a vital prerequisite, and, on top of all of this, he freely admits that he doesn’t believe in human evolution.

Of course, it is unlikely that Mike Huckabee will win the Republican nomination, but his success so far bothers me and many other Republicans. While the real presidential election isn’t until November, whichever Republican candidate wins the nomination will have a difficult battle ahead of him, especially if it is against Barack Obama.

Brian Eller is a materials engineering senior and a Mustang Daily conservative columnist.

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