By Max Turgeon
NEWINGTON, Connecticut, U.S.A. – I would be remiss if I didn't start out by saying that this Republican presidential primary race has been loads of fun. In the history of American politics, we have rarely seen a race as interesting as this one.There are a lot of characters running for the Republican nomination, and even with as much criticism as we get from the Democrats, I really like the personalities. President Ronald Reagan was a personality, and he did all right for himself.
It's not a “clown car,” as the media will try to tell us. The Republican candidates are a group of passionate individuals, who want to “Make America Great Again.” And that was not a Donald Trump endorsement.
Two years ago, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie won re-election in a crushing victory, and was the front runner for the GOP nomination. He was moderate, yet such a straight talker he could garner enough conservative support. But then there was some issue with a bridge and well, you know the rest.
After Christie sputtered out, a man with a familiar last name rose out of the ashes, and once again, we were looking at possibly a third President Bush.
Max Turgeon visits the chamber of the Connecticut
House of Representatives, trying out the desk of
Rep. Gary Byron of Newington.
Jeb, Jeb, Jeb. What can I say? Jeb Bush certainly does not have the charisma of his brother, President George W. Bush. He is a lot like his father, a kind of awkward, yet smart man. But the father, President George H.W. Bush, was able to connect to people on a personal level.
Jeb Bush is very stiff and tries to be tough or funny, but the problem is, he is neither of these things. I'll get back to this.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, my favorite candidate, had his month of fame, before his campaign violently collapsed, due to a lack of passion. I really liked Walker. He has a long history of passing conservative policies that have helped his state. He just was not ready.
Then we had a man enter the race – one we have never seen the likes of – who changed the entire picture.
Billionaire real estate investor and television celebrity Donald J. Trump had always talked about running, but he finally did it. And boy, did he do it.
So, we sit here today with still more than a dozen candidates and I have to ask the question, “Why are people like George Pataki and Lindsey Graham still in the race?” It truly is a waste of their time and our time, and I think it is bad for our party.
The vast array of candidates reflects badly on Republicans because it makes us look disorganized to have all these candidates this late in the race, and it doesn't help that they keep slamming the front runners.
So, I'm sorry Jim Gilmore, but Barry Goldwater has a better chance of getting the nomination than you and he died in 1998.
I do believe though, that the field will begin to narrow down. Gilmore, a former Republican National Committee chairman, isn’t even registering in the polls.
Pataki, a former New York state governor, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, and former Senator Rick Santorum need to make an exit soon. Expect Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Mike Huckabee, a past governor of Arkansas, to also leave the race. They have a lot to offer in my opinion, but clearly do not have the support to win.
I would also call on Christie, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, and yes, the magnificent Carly Fiorina, to pack it in.
Christie is having trouble gaining any sort of traction.
Paul is the only candidate I really don't like. I don't care what he says – he is an isolationist and that is not the strategy we need to beat ISIS.
Fiorina, the former boss at technology giant Hewlett Packard, is tough as nails. She’s super smart and she's is not a Washington insider. She has been the most consistent debater and is a great representative for our party.
She has been greatly hurt by fellow outsider candidates Dr. Ben Carson and Trump, who’ve eaten into support she might have had. She just does not have the clout behind her to get the nomination, but that doesn't mean she won't be on the ticket.
So that leaves Bush, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Carson and Trump.
Bush is the guy who was “supposed” to win, and in any other year, he would. But he lacks the passion of other candidates and Trump is resonating instead.
Bush's problem is he continues to try to attack Trump, like we saw in the debate last week. Trump has proven he will take down anyone who attacks him, and Bush is no tough guy, either, as Trump mentioned. We want to hear what you are going to do if you become president, Jeb, not why Donald would be bad. I don't see Jeb getting the nomination.
I really like Carson, but only as a man and a pundit. He would not be a good nominee. He is intelligent and kind, and believes in conservative principals.
Cruz is a great conservative alternative to Carson. He probably has the best organization of any candidate, and he is a terrific debater. I love his positions on eliminating multiple government agencies and departments, and how he wants to simplify the tax code. Cruz has what it takes to be a great, true conservative leader of our party for years to come.
Rubio is a great candidate as well. Marco can appeal to both the establishment and conservative wings of the party. While I'm not thrilled about some of his immigration policies (boy, am I a hard liner when it comes to that), he has by far the best foreign policy to satisfy this hawk.
He's young, he's passionate, and he would give Hillary Clinton – the likely Democratic nominee – a run for her money.
Then we have Trump. Let me start by saying this: Donald Trump is not an extremist. He is not racist. He is not a fascist. He does have an ego the size of a small Eastern European county, however.
Trump did not make racist comments about Hispanics when he began his campaign. He simply stated the simple truth that illegal immigrants are criminals. By law, they are criminals when they step over our border without taking the proper steps like millions of others. Not enforcing the law with people who are breaking it is unfair to people who come here legally, and I am happy Trump has made this an issue in the campaign, because it has to be.
But then he made comments about banning Muslims from coming into the country. He didn’t say simply being in the country, as some liberals have spun it, but just entering.
That scared me a little, to be honest. That is borderline unconstitutional based on the First Amendment. I have Muslim friends, and I ask myself, can I look them in the eye and tell them I don't think people of their religion should be able to enter the country?
The answer is, I don't know. If it would truly make our country safer, then I am all for it. Whether President Obama will say it or not, we are at war with radical Islam, and war for calls for extraordinary measures at times.
However, I think a more plausible measure would to be pause immigration from certain countries, rather than a whole religion. But think about this: how many Christian countries are there in the Middle East? The answer is zero, and we need to be thinking about the poor Christians, along with Muslims, being slaughtered in massive numbers there.
That said, I like 85 percent of what Trump says, but his ego may hinder him, as it has with many prominent politicians. I have my doubts, too, whether he would be competitive with Clinton, in part because of that ego. Let's see how he does down the stretch.
We have a long way to go and it will continue to be exciting. Look for people to begin to drop out. As of right now, my gut is telling me Rubio will be the nominee. He has a lot going for him and again, he can appeal to moderate and conservative Republicans.
In the end, every single Republican – even Gilmore – would make a much better president than Hillary Clinton.
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