Although I am a registered Independent, I lean strongly conservative on fiscal and economic issues. I hope the Republican Party ends up with a nominee who can make a compelling case for fundamental reform.
Here is my take on last night’s debate and the current state of the race.
- Rand Paul. He stands up strongly for the Tenth Amendment (State’s Rights) but he is much too isolationist to take over after eight years of Obama.
- Mike Huckabee. His social conservatism appeals to evangelicals but he has a weak grasp of economic and fiscal issues.
- Marco Rubio. He is certainly a gifted political communicator. He is able to talk tough while also appearing moderate and reasonable at the same time. But some of his policy ideas are gimmicky.
- Ted Cruz. He claims to be a true conservative because he won’t compromise on his basic principles, even if they lead to government shutdown. As such he is much too radical for my taste.
- Ben Carson. I don’t see what his attraction is outside of a compelling personal story. His grasp of issues is quite weak.
- Donald Trump. Leading in the polls, he is the wild card for the 2016 election cycle. As much as he disgusts me, his performance is improving. He has pledged to support the eventual party nominee, and not run as an independent. He also hurled fewer insults in the second debate than in the first.
- Jeb Bush. Policy-wise, with his detailed tax plan and generally moderate views, he is outstanding. But it’s not clear that he can overcome the populist, anti-elite mood of the electorate.
- Scott Walker. His outstanding record in Wisconsin gave him an early boost. But he hasn’t made the transition to national policy issues very well.
- Carly Fiorina. She expresses herself in a crisp manner and has a good, general grasp of the issues. She’s rising in this campaign but still has a long way to go.
- John Kasich. He has a superb background as a former Congressman and now as a very successful two term governor of Ohio. He expresses compassion for ordinary people. He deserves to climb in the polls but will he?
- Chris Christie. He’s tough talking but his record in New Jersey isn’t that great. His obesity and reputation as a bully are turnoffs for me.
In short, I don’t want Trump to be the Republican nominee but who is going to emerge from the pack to defeat him? It isn’t clear if anyone will be able to do this.