As Santorum surges, and the GOP look for an alternative to Romney- any alternative- it’s fitting then that I reflect back on one of the few losses the GOP suffered in 2010 races. Harry Reid versus Sharron Angle was battled out mostly in and around Las Vegas at a time when I was an activist there.
That race is one of the reasons why the Democrats managed to hold on to the US Senate in 2010.
If Newt Gingrich- or Santorum- expects to be hanging tough with the other presidential hopefuls by March, they’d better be willing to prove that they're no Sharron Angle- or Barack Obama.
Obama needs no introduction. But it’s worth noting that Obama- who once upon a time was expected to be an also-ran to “inevitable” nominee Hillary Clinton- was elected with an assist by a partisan press corps; a press corps which challenged him on nothing and was anxious to buy the hope hype he dealt in. Instead of helping Obama, all it has done is enable him to fall back on sloppy habits of partisan rhetoric when nothing else works.
And “nothing else working” is a common condition for our budgetless, jobless, recoveryless president.
So, when all else fails he scolds and campaigns and demands.
It worked in the past.
The press corps’ painful subjectivity back then has contributed to three doleful years of a guy refusing to learn how to be president while on the job.
Angle, you’ll remember, was the GOP nominee who went up against Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada because she was the alternative to Sue Lowden, Nevada's Barbie, to Romney's Ken. Angle went on to badly lose the race in the Silver State, even as other conservatives, in other states, swept all before them.
Angle lost because, while she is a very fine person, she wasn’t prepared or disciplined enough to run for the United States Senate. She wouldn’t learn how to be a nominee on the job.
She once told a group of Hispanic kids that they “look a little more Asian” to her than Hispanic. Cue ABC News.
Why she should have been talking about anything other than unemployment in a state that led the nation in joblessness during that campaign made her “look a little more stupid” to me and also, apparently, to voters too.
She refused to learn on the job and voters were turned off. Her campaign, like Obama’s presidency, was sickening to watch because the mistakes she made were predictable and repeated habitually. She, like Obama, never learned.
Both Angle’s candidacy had and Obama’s presidency have a Jackass: The Movie quality to them.
Newt Gingrich, surprisingly, seems to be having similar difficulties in making the transition from an also-ran to a contender, albeit a long-shot contender.
He’s certainly had some attention, but that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Everyone likes the idea of a Bold America, but a moon colony as Newt has suggested is something Moonbeam California Governor Jerry Brown might propose.
There are three things that happen when you campaign for a major policy position. And only one of those things is good.
The press, punditry and public can hear you accurately off message; or they can hear you inaccurately off message; or they can hear you accurately on message.
And guess who is responsible for the outcome?
The candidate. That’s who.
Communication is part of the politics of leadership.
Clearly Newt’s campaign was not ready for the immense scrutiny and the intense discipline that comes with being the big kid in the sandbox.
So here’s a suggestion for all candidates not named Romney. For any questions asked up until you secure the nomination, the proper response is:
"That's a good question. But I think the thing most Americans are concerned about is why Mitt Romney and Barack Obama socialized medicine while the country is facing grave financial problems. They ought to be fixing our debt problems, not adding to them.”
No matter what the press asks the candidates, they should just answer that. And only that, so help me, God.
You can tell a great deal about candidates by how they campaign. Or won't.
And the last thing the GOP needs is another candidate not disciplined enough to be the nominee.
And the last thing the country needs is another president not ready to lead.
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