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10 contenders, and that my not be the whole field...who will "break thru the noise?"
Published on May 1, 2007 By Sean Conners aka SConn1 In The Media
Last week, the 8 declared candidates for the democratic nomination squared off in what turned out to be a mostly uneventful "meet and greet" in South Carolina. Outside of an impressive performance and the "line of the night" from Senator Joe Biden, not much was learned except that Barack needs to prepare better for his next debate and Hillary is prepared as advertised.

There are 10 participants in the 90 minute show, moderated by MSNBC host of "Hardball, " Chris Matthews. So don't expect the candidates to be real "detailed" in their responses. This, like last week, should be another "meet and greet" where the candidates, especially those with measurable poll numbers, won't be taking too many jabs at each other. Expect most of the bombs to be thrown at the democrats, instead of each other. The only mud thrown at each other will be from the lower tier candidates trying to move up.

But unlike the democratic field, which, outside of Al Gore's final decision, is a pretty well decided field, the republican meet and greet might not even show the republican voters who might be in contention next winter when primary season actually arrives.

There's Newt Gingrich, Fred Thompson and others who haven't even gotten in the race yet, but are reportedly coyly "researching" the notion. And polls showing a general discontent with the field on the right, especially in the conservative camp could change the race dramatically in the next year.

But for now, this is the field. And for the sake of this preview, we aren't going to worry about people who aren't in the race yet.

Let's take a look at each candidate and see what we might get from them on Thursday...

Rudy Giuliani - So far, he's the front runner. Rudy has done this by carrying the neoconservative torch for the administration and playing up his post 9/11 role as mayor. expect him to provide more of the same. He will downplay his differences such as his abortion and gay rights stance, possibly even borrowing a page from the Obama camp by talking more about common ground than differences. Rudy's key to victory is hoping his pro war rhetoric outshadows his lack of marital stability and past stances that the right frowns on. He's also not going to want to talk much about his shortcomings before 9/11. This format should suit Rudy well as he will be able to get his message out and no one will have the time to go after him if they wish to get their message out.

John McCain - McCain, who has been courting the evangelical conservative base over the past year now finds himself in 2nd place, out of the front runner status he enjoyed early on. McCain will emphasize his record on conservative issues and experience to try to win favor with the religious right. He'll probably also score points with them if he continues his ultra pro war stance. But he probably won't be too verbose there as he can lose as many moderates as he gains conservatives every time he reminds us theat he's the biggest hawk on the stage. But McCain has the tendency to forgo political correctness to speak his mind, that could serve him well, or could sink his ship.

Mitt Romney - Romney has spent 10's of millions trying to convince America to forget that he is a member of a religious group that is considered a "cult" by some standards. Thursday, he will continue on that quest. His biggest problem, however, will be trying to explain his lack of consistancy on important "base" issues like abortion and gay marriage, which became law under his watch as governor. In my view, this is the "Steve Forbes" of the campaign this time around. Lots of spending power but lacking the poll numbers after loads have been spent. Forbes tried to buy the nomination and Romney seems to be trying the same tact. And like Forbes, he will fail. Thursday will be the beginning of that inevitable end.

Duncan Hunter - Like the Democrats have a field that does represent theirvalues on the whole, the republican field has a host of real conservatives with long track records of conservative voting. And like the democrats, the voters who are paying attention this early are having a hard time even getting a look at the candidates who aren't in the "elite 3" that garner 95% of the media coverage thus far. Duncan Hunter will be one of the "conservative" contenders that will try to get noticed. Hunter is no nonsense in his approach, but like Joe Biden, has the tendency to bloviate and never shut up. He also has the tendency of exaggerating or making stuff up when he is defending a position. Republican voters won't fact check him as long as most of his bombs are thrown to the left of center and that should give him the ability to possibly break thru the 2nd tier cieling that the media has created.

Tom Tancredo - Like Hunter, Tancredo is a staunch conservative who is a hardliner on immigration. Like Hunter, he would like to move up to that top tier and will be the "Bill Richardson" equivalent in that repect. As long as Tancredo doesn't go too far in his rhetoric and doesn't look like a confused, deaf old man like Richardson did, he should be fine.

Mike Huckabee - The former Arkansas governor is a really nice guy from everything I have seen. Huckabee is a conservative, but a much more religious one than the previous 2. When I watch him, he tends to go too far with the religious rhetoric, as he wears his faith on his sleeve. But they are not pandering to me, and his born again conservatism could play well with the base. Huckabee might have trouble "breaking thru " the noise as he is a very polite politician unlike the brassier styles of some of the other conservatives vying for top tier status.

Tommy Thompson - Probably the biggest unknown in the race. He says he's a conservative and i'll take him at his word there. I suspect that like a lot out here, we just don't know who this guy is. He's not a media whore, and works behind the scenes in recent years. Liek Huckabee, his main challenge will be to break thru the noise. I'm sure he's working on his zinger file.

Ron Paul - Paul is the old school libertarian of the bunch. Which at times, takes him seemingly to the right of the field, and other times, seemingly left. Paul has the potential to show a national audience what many libertarians have known for a long time. This man is brilliant, honest and the kind of principled politician we all want, regardless of our stances on individual issues. Hopefully, his views, which are never GOP talking points, won't come off as radical like Mike Gravel managed to do last week when he made dennis Kucinich look mainstream, moderate and almost presidential.

Sam Brownback - This is the guy that many scratch their heads and wonder why he hasn't gained much traction in this race. Brownback is a most popular congressman from Kansas and most of his popularity comes from religiously right circles. Yet, in the polls, he has not shown much in the way of numbers. Out of all the contenders who are on the 2nd tier, Brownback might have the most to gain here. IF anyone is able to politely break thru the noise and still "look presidential" it is Brownback. He knows when to "get his religion on" and when to "put it away" depending on who or what he is speaking to or about, unlike Huckabee. And unlike Hunter and Tancredo, isn't as "in your face." It could be a winning combination.

Jim Gilmore - The former Virginia governor will be another trying to claim the prize that is the right wing of the party. Gilmore is a pretty effective communicator who only recently officially joined the race. This event could put him on the map or make his run a short one depending on his ability to break thru the noise. Republicans have a history of liking right wing southerners, especially in recent decades, and Gilmore is certainly a good example of a prototypical one.

Of course, the "cluster fu*k format of 10 people on 1 stage for only 90 minutes will be an inhibitor. But like the democrats, expect one or 2 "good lines" to make the news and maybe 1 or 2 of the "non top tier" candidates to get some more exposure. By next winter, there will only be room for 3-5 serious contenders at the very most on either side. And while it may not be fair, it is what it is. Thursday will be the 1st serious opportunity for these 10 to be one of those lucky few come next year.


on May 01, 2007
I am intrigued by the back and forth about how each GOP candidate is in tune, or not, with the Conservatives. WHY does the GOP not seem to understand that the majority of Americans are NOT CONSERVATIVES. That is what has been one of the major problems that has caused the polarization the past 6 plus years. Bush and the GOP want conservatives on the Court. They want social and tax policies that fit the conservative agenda. That would be fine in the majority were conservative in this country. A President should span the entire electorate not just the far right or far left. We need both parties to realign and get in tune with what the MAJORITY want not what Just the Conservatives or Liberals want!
on May 02, 2007
We need both parties to realign and get in tune with what the MAJORITY want not what Just the Conservatives or Liberals want!

well, the recent data that tells us that more people are independent than subscribe to either party. this is evidence that people are moving away from the ways the pundits of both parties, parties that have become synonomous with the respective ideologies.

that doesn't make everyone else "mushy moderates" who lack spine or convictions. some may be, but spinelessness isn't exclusive to any part of the political spectrum.

what more and more people are realizing is that our society can benefit from ideas from all sorts of places. and we are best served when the debate is open, honest and all views are expressed instead of a narrow argument between 2 polarized camps trying to "dominate" each other.