If you have not watched the YouTube video of Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich’s debate performance dubbed in Abbott and Costello’s famous, “Who’s On First" comedy routine, you should.
In many ways, GOP voters have been left feeling much like the late Lou Costello wondering not only, “Who’s on First,” but just what kind of game is the GOP playing in their 2012 presidential race?
The 2012 GOP presidential campaign was assumed by mainstream voters to be one that would focus on the economy, an economy which while improving by the majority of statistical measures includes around 50 million Americans living in poverty, 46 million Americans receiving food stamps, and 25.1 million Americans either unemployed or underemployed.
The majority of Republicans further believed the “fiscally conservative movement,” which changed the balance of power in the House during the 2010 election, would be resonating from the candidates.
Instead the race has devolved into a never-ending attempt by candidates to promote their conservative credentials, a growing attempt to elicit voter support via deficit inflating tax reduction plans, and a back to the future litany regarding social values.
If there is a lesson the GOP should take forward from its campaigning in February it might be, “What you are selling isn’t what the majority of voters are interested in buying.”
There is a reason none of the remaining candidates in the GOP field have been able to secure majority support even as that field has dwindled. None of the remaining candidates are sounding a rallying cry which elicits closure.
None of the remaining contenders in the race have held support levels reached by former front runners. Michele Bachmann, Donald Trump, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain all reached out to specific segments of the Republican Party searching for someone who would promote their core values. While all eventually failed to hold that mantle, the remaining field would do well to revisit what made each candidate momentarily the GOP’s lead runner.
While it is an overstatement to reduce the prior front runners to one or two positions a case could be made: Bachman was viewed as a stalwart against spending, Trump lambasted foreign competition for stealing American jobs, Perry promoted energy growth as a means to both ending foreign conflicts and producing jobs, Cain’s 9-9-9 plan represented the common sense approach the common man identified with.
Common Sense in today’s complex geo-political environment of economic intra-dependencies is a very, very difficult intellectual position to promote. Much like the answers supplied by Bud Abbott to Lou Costello, even the Truth can be confusing no matter how factual. Yet there is at least one advantage to presenting a common sense message, you broaden your appeal as opposed to alienating potential supporters.
Over the next week, the remaining GOP candidates will all “spin” the upcoming primary results attempting to claim they are now the front runner, “who’s on first?” What they truly need to do is stop pretending this is a game and providing the common sense answers to, why they should be elected the next president of the United States.
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