In political time, eons will pass between now and the 2008 presidential elections. Events have a way of changing any political forecasts. However, barring any major catastrophes or upheavals, the next Republican presidential nominee will be Newt Gingrich.
The Democrats probably will seize control of one or both houses of Congress in November. They will use that status to cause President Bush a considerable amount of grief over the next two years. Several Democrats have indicated that they will seek impeachment for either Iraq or the FISA wiretaps. (The real reason is retaliation for Bush’s winning the election in 2000.) Democrats will also seek to curb the President’s ability to wage the war on terrorism, as well as his appointments to the judiciary.
Republicans cannot win elections without the support of conservative voters. While not actually applauding the Republican defeats, conservative voters will sit by with their arms folded, nodding and saying "Uh-huh. I told you so." The Republican party is paying the price for neglecting its conservative base. Under Republican control, government spending has exploded; Congress is unable and unwilling to pass conservative legislation, national security is compromised by open borders. The reason for voter disdain is the Republican reluctance to fight Liberal Democrats for the things that are important to Conservatives. The Republicans have not demonstrated the backbone that the conservative philosophy requires.
President Bush’s low poll numbers reflect the dissatisfaction that Conservatives have with his lack of conservative governance. They have also been disappointed by the lack of decisive action and results in Iraq. Many respondents in polls who are unhappy with how Bush is handling the war don’t want America to leave Iraq. They’re unhappy because America is not hitting our enemies hard enough.
Given these circumstances, Conservatives feel they have been abandoned in Washington by both Congress and the President. Although we have had six years of Republican dominance, the Conservative agenda has not been served. If anything, it has taken a battering as the Democrats - united and staying on message - use the media to tear down religion, family values and other core Conservative beliefs. The Republicans have not fought well, despite having every advantage.
In 2008, however, Conservative voters will have a chance to start fresh with a new candidate. Rudy Giulani and John McCain are the frontrunners for the Republican nomination. However, Giulani is pro-choice and supports abortion rights, and John McCain has shown a willingness to compromise rather quickly. Neither of these candidates meets the smell test that Conservative voters will apply.
The two candidates who most closely match the job description are George Allen and Newt Gingrich. Allen is perhaps the most conservative of the bunch, and could be the darkhorse in the presidential race. The election is a long way off, however, and he may not make it through the primaries without a gaff that could cost him dearly in the media frenzy that would surely follow. He also lacks the name recognition nationally that Gingrich enjoys.
Newt Gingrich, despite his negatives, is the leading candidate who meets the criteria. His negatives are powerful indeed, including his failed marriages and accusations of corruption. However, on many fronts he is dominant.
1. Name recognition. Gingrich brought the Republicans to the majority in Congress in 1994. He led a conservative Congressional agenda for several years. He had a best-selling book in 2005. While promoting his book he has had the chance to keep his name on voters’ minds. Best of all, the mention of his name produces knee-jerk screaming by Liberals. Frustrated Conservatives who have been itching for a showdown will find this appealing.
2. Organization. Besides the traditional Republican machine, Gingrich set up a website and organization in connection with his book. Using this method, he built his own network that is ready to move when he gives the word. His opponents may lack this type of well-run political organization.
3. Record. Gingrich’s history is in actions, as well as words. He walks the walk. He received credit for the 1994 Republican victory, as well as much of the success Republicans have had since then. Gingrich’s adherence to conservative principles has been consistent.
4. Ideas. Gingrich outlined his thoughts in his 2005 book, Winning the Future. He addresses the key issues that resonate with Conservatives - the war on terror, religion, immigration, patriotism and personal responsibility. Gingrich is also articulate and a brilliant debater; he can present his arguments coherently in either public debates or soundbites.
After two terms of seeing how the blind (and unsuccessful) pursuit of "compromise" and "bipartisanship" has served their interests, Republicans are in the mood for a tough, smart, articulate Conservative who will fight for what they believe. Courage, loyalty and victory are what they want. I believe Newt Gingrich is the candidate who can deliver.