Chris Saxman: Cold Fusion Friday

Happy warmer Friday to you! Blessedly we are more than halfway through the month of February. There is a reason why February is only 28 days – do you know what it is?

Right – to end it sooner than the other months. I know everyone seems to have a top ten list for this or that but I have to be honest, February would not make my Top 12 Months.

So you can probably imagine how excited I am about next year’s February line up – Feb 4th – Iowa Caucus, Feb 14th Mom’s birthday (YAY mom!) but that joy and St. Valentine’s Day will be off set by the New Hampshire Primary on the same day – can’t wait for the February 15th headlines “New Hampshire St. Valentine’s Day Massacre – Candidates X, Y and Z “suspend” their campaigns”, and then the Nevada Caucus on February 18th.

One year from today, we will have a clearer picture who the the Republicans will nominate to run against Obama. Yes, I still think for a number of reasons Barack Obama will be re-elected, but that is presumptuous and somewhat designed to get people in gear.

Let’s get it in gear!

First of all, I will likely cross off my list of POTUS candidates any candidate who tries to lay claim to being the heir of Ronald Reagan. Who wants to support someone who is trying to be someone he or she can never ever be? Why is Chris Christie so popular in GOP circles? Authenticity. Palin? Same way. Huckabee? To a degree, but that is not his strength.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Ronald Reagan was a great president (even though I voted for the Libertarian in the 1980 Lee High Presidential election as a sophomore – let it go – it was once) and is rightly held up as a great president.

I just think that people have so mistreated and mislabeled the Reagan brand of conservatism in order to justify their current positions. It seems candidates like to say that they are “Reagan Conservatives” when the Reagan record as president would be hard to defend in the early primary states – the fall of communism notwithstanding.

Last week I asked you to consider whether Ronald Reagan could win the GOP nomination for POTUS. Just think about it. Mull it over. I did not get a lot of feedback on it which was interesting to say the least.

Okay – the path to nomination is pretty well set – Iowa, NH, Nevada and SC. In 1980, there were seven candidates who got percentage votes in Iowa, but Reagan lost to Bush 1. He then came back to win New Hampshire and other states including South Carolina.

If there are going to be about 10 candidates attending the debate this coming May 2nd at the Reagan Library, how many of them, give or take 10, are going to hail Ronald Reagan for raising taxes, increasing the deficit, increasing the debt, increasing spending, and granting amnesty to illegal immigrants? How many, give or take 10, will say Reagan was a great compromiser with Senate and House Democrats? Abortion? Wasn’t he pro-choice as governor of California? That will sell in Upstate South Carolina. Not.

It is entirely inappropriate to take Reagan and offer whether or not he could win the 2012 primary – hell, I might even write him in – it was an academic exercise. Who knows what would happen if Reagan was in the mix with the current crop of potential candidates. My point is this – people are very selective when it comes to branding themselves as a Reagan conservative and I really think they all ought to examine Ronald Wilson Reagan the person, the authentic person that he truly was and not what they think won him elections – their positions in 2011.

Governing is not campaigning but you have to campaign while you govern even in Virginia with a one term (thank God!) governor. It’s always about selling the public on the issues of the day. But governing demands compromise which is a tough sell early in the nomination process. Compromise is essential to governing well. The critical point is in which direction are you compromising. Are you doing it from a position of strength or weakness?

What is the #1 legacy of Reagan? He defeated Communism, right? To get there, he had to make a lot of deals, stand a lot ground and win a lot of battles. He did not campaign touting his ability to compromise (govern) and neither will the current crop.

At CPAC last week, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels (a top 3 candidate for me) stated that our “Red Menace” is our fiscal situation. He also said that he was not going to sacrifice the republic in order to say “I told you so”. Refreshing. Honest. Authentic.

The question these days in not whether it will sell in Peoria, but rather will it sell in Greenville/Spartanburg. Upstate South Carolina, in my honest opinion, will determine who the Republicans nominate for POTUS.

Yes, I still say the RNC should have the convention in Philadelphia on April 15th and not Tampa. Just saying…..Winning Florida is critical, but where was the convention in 2004? New York City – it was about the narrative of winning the war on terror with a 9/11 backdrop. In 2012, the theme should not be winning Florida or for the DNC winning North Carolina (they picked Charlotte). The theme should be centered on our fiscal “Red Menace” and governing.

We are running a deficit of 1.6 trillion and Obama is touting light rail. Dis. Connect. Tampa….The GOP picked Tampa. Connect in Florida. The other 49? Dis. Connect.

Tampa has a great steak house – Bern’s. Hell, I would a hop a plane now to eat there tonight. But I think Reagan might have picked Philly….the 1980 convention? Detroit.

Column by Chris Saxman



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