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How Will You Judge Presidential Candidates?
When evaluating potential presidential candidates, we should expect high quality, if somewhat flawed, candidates. But as I looked at how the field might shape up, I wondered how people might decide on who might have potential, and who would be completely out of the running. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed that many of us seem to have clear preferences, but I’m frequently not clear on the criteria people use. In these times, it’s fruitless to try to find an ideal candidate: too many have baggage or have demonstrated attributes that we dislike or even hate.
I started to think about my choices at this point, and I have very clear reasons for a couple of the potential candidates, but beyond those two, I’m not sure how I feel about the others. There are people who we are now in the running—Donald Trump and Nikki Haley—but I wonder what attributes, positive or negative, stand out for you when you look at some of the others, like Mike Pompeo, Ron DeSantis, Glenn Youngkin, Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, Kristi Noem, Mike Lee, Mike Pence, Greg Abbott.
I realize that much more information will be discovered about all of these people, but are there any that you think should be definitely considered or ruled out? Could you give a reason or two for your assessment?
To me, integrity, meaning you do what you say you will do, is very important; of course, I expect them to agree with me on important positions. People who lie are off my list—whatever the reasons for their lies. I don’t care whether people supported Trump or not. I do worry about those who have already served in the federal government (which, interestingly enough, might rule out DeSantis). I’ve already said many times the reason I wouldn’t want Trump to be the candidate. But I know a number of people have criticized Nikki Haley, Mike Pence and Greg Abbott. Putting aside Trump, who would you want to be in the running, and why? Who are the ones you definitely wouldn’t support, and what are your reasons?
Published in Politics
My criteria (meets at least 4 of 7). May be updated at any time:
1) Has an obvious understanding for and appreciation of the U.S. Constitution.
2) Has successful executive experience.
3) Has never been a U.S. Senator.
4) Speaks plainly.
5) Has military experience.
6) Quotes Thomas Sowell and/or Victor Davis Hansen, and at least three founding fathers.
7) Has no ise for pharma money.
I want (not necessarily in this order):
— a willingness to boldly reject the established viewpoint, even at the risk of media criticism,
— self-control, so I can spend my time defending substantive decisions, not excusing peccadilloes,
— unselfconscious patriotism and a firm rejection of fashionable globalism,
— enough populism that he (and I’d much prefer a “he”) champions the rights of parents over experts of all stripes,
— a stated belief that government does and regulates and spends too much, and must be smaller, and
— a kind of eloquence that will reach normal Americans as it exposes the absurdity of what too many have come to accept as the status quo.
If you’re over the age of 60, don’t even bother running. We’ve had enough gerontocracy.
Excellent, Mark. I agree with all of them!
Edit: I do like the idea that a person only needs to meet 4 our of 7.
Another great list, Hank. I have a special liking for your “self-control” comment, but all of them are substantive, in my view.
Convince me that you’ll win restorative battles against the deep state.
There’s a lot packed in there, including a requirement to break through the noise and pierce my nearly no-news bubble. I’m not excited about dull drinkwaters who cannot excite anybody else.
Today’s 60 for many is yesterday’s 50. But I still can’t argue with you, MWM.
I agree with all that’s been said here. I’ll add this:
A record of rolling back Leftist initiatives, such as DEI, “grooming,” etc.
Excellent point! The person will definitely need to be a fearless fighter. Some of the people I listed may be reticent about taking on those battles.
Oh, that’s so important! These efforts would show a willingness to fight the progressive agenda, not just make conservative noises. Thanks, MWD.
Willing to break the military-industrial complex.
Willing to break Big Pharma.
Willing to break Big Tech.
Willing to break Big Journalism.
Willing to break stuff. A lot of stuff. And not give a rodent’s hindquarters if it makes Conservatism, Inc. really sad.
Understands that we are in a war between the Citizens (left and right) and the Political Class (left and right) — and sides with the citizens.
Not just efforts, I want to see a record of success.
Well, in theory, I want the most conservative candidate who can win. That likely means that I will be voting in the Democratic primary for the first time since 1992. All of this discussion about whom should be the GOP nominee is useless since the GOP is incapable of actually running a winning election anymore. I was hopeful that Harmeet Dhillon taking over the RNC would create some change, but instead, McDaniel retained her seat and so the three primary architects of the midterm disaster in 22 have maintained their leadership positions. The GOP heads into the 24 cycle still running campaigns like it is 12 (they lost), 18 (loss), 20 (loss), or 22 (massive loss). Why do we think that suddenly McConnell is going to support conservative candidates that might not vote for him as Speaker? Why do we think that the RNC will organize a ballot-harvesting effort and encourage people to vote via mail-in ballot so that they can maximize the number of ballots collected as opposed to convincing people to vote for GOP candidates? The GOP doesn’t have to resort to cheating as the Dems do, but rather they need to ensure that every person that voted in the primary casts a ballot. Ensure that every person that they think is a Republican casts a ballot and that all of those ballots make it to the ballot return boxes. Then the GOP needs to turn out legions of poll workers…not watchers…workers who get trained and work the polls. Even in the deep blue cities, finding 100 people to work the polls so that one is at each precinct and can participate in the election, not just observing it will go a long way towards making it more likely that a fair result will ensue. Then they need to get workers on the staffs of the elections clerks in every county around the country, and even get Republicans as election clerks at the county and state levels. Until they do those things, it really won’t matter who the GOP nominee is, and while it might be fun to talk about it, realistically we aren’t going to win, even with the EC advantage that we possess.
I judge mainly by foreign policy. That’s the president’s actual constituional duty. Yet, that was completely absent from the last presidential debate.
Almost everything else is up to congress.
Do people want to talk about specific people and why they demonstrate the standards you hold, or violate them? I must admit that I’m especially interested in people’s thoughts on Nikki Haley. I know that Mike Pompeo went after her in his book; from what I understand, he was disturbed that she didn’t stick out her term as UN Ambassador.
In a time when politicians seem to ignore the will of the people, I completely agree. I’d love to hear someone campaign on how he or she will address the needs of the citizens for a change. Thanks, Drew.
Pompeo is CIA. Given that the “Intelligence Community” needs to be uprooted and tossed onto the pyre, I wouldn’t trust him to do the necessary housecleaning.
Anyone connected with our intelligence agencies is an automatic “no” for me.
Actual success might be a challenge. I guess governors could take on the DEI groups, or people at their local levels.
I only highlighted this portion, but it’s hard to argue with what you say, David. I hope the Repubs. get it together, because I can’t imagine voting for a Democrat. I think I’d rather not vote at all.
My highest criteria is what policies they offer and will they implement them (using their track record). Assuming that there are more than one candidate that passes that criteria, my next is electability. This is kind of a version of “the most electable conservative candidate” back when “conservative” had a commonly understood meaning. Now it is a cloak, and you need to go under it to see if the personal philosophy is congruent with your own.
Against this here is my current assessment —
Donald Trump: meets all of my highest criteria. I know some think he has electability issues (because he does energize enemies in both Dems and GOPe) but I think it is too soon to make that judgement.
Nikki Haley: Unknown commodity to me. Maybe I have listened to too many naysayers about her maneuverings for political power.
Mike Pompeo: Bit of a stretch to go from Representative to Secretary of State to President. But I am open to listen.
Ron DeSantis: meets all of my highest criteria. I have expressed concerns that he will get the Trump treatment from everyone, so might be a better VP candidate for Trump’s last term.
Glenn Youngkin: probably meets all of my highest criteria, but need to hear more. Has some work to do for national name recognition.
Tom Cotton: Has impressive personal history and much to commend. Probably needs to be for Arkansas Governor before running for President.
Ted Cruz: I think his window for a presidential run has closed. He has been all over the place at times.
Kristi Noem: Needs a stronger national image, but seems to meet my highest criteria. Her kerfuffle over women’s sports seemed a bit of a stumble (she needed to be more convincing as to why her strategy was in the best interests compared to her critics). But her Covid stance was strong (IIRC).
Mike Lee: Like Cotton, I think he needs to be Governor before running for President.
Mike Pence: Waaaay to GOPe for me.
Greg Abbott: Great personal story, and talks a good game, but has a whiff of GOPe.
Ronna McDaniel will get right on it. After her shopping sprees and spa weekends.
Never forget that he folded like a lawn chair when Indiana’s RFRA got pushback (can’t recall which fascistic corporation led the charge). He fails the criterion I noted before. But he didn’t even make an effort to fight, never mind succeed. Bye Mike.
When I do look at candidates though it is not on a single issue that I judge them, but rather more of a gestalt. In ’16, I really liked Carly Fiorina. Partially because she is a savvy businesswoman, partially because she led a tech company (I work in tech), and partially because she was a woman and I felt that her nomination could help get her elected (well not really, but it would be a cudgel to beat the lefties who refused to vote for her).
I also liked Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz for different reasons (though both being Hispanics like me was a plus, similar to Carly). As for the rest, I despised Kasich, Bush, and Trump for various reasons. So, I cannot point to specific evaluation criteria. For me, the ability to articulate a conservative ideology is likely the most important. I used to think that character was important, but it’s not like we are going to find great people who are willing to run for President. One thing I always liked about Trump was that he did not concede anything to the press, while most of the GOP just rolls over for them. Newt’s takedown of the media in the ’12 cycle is another example of how it can be done, but few are able to do it consistently on the fly as Trump did. DeSantis seems to be able to do that and recognizes that the media is an opponent to be fought as much as the opposing candidate.
You know . . . we also need a President willing to take on the El-Jibbity Jihad and not give a damn if they call him a bigot.
That will probably mean completely tearing down the Department of Education and breaking the backs of the Teachers Unions, and that’s okay by me.
But we need more leadership in combating this garbage. Maybe some prison sentences for these groomers.
Maybe, but he also worked to reform them. I don’t think that Pompeo could win the nomination, nor the general.
Which is one thing that I don’t see anyone talking about…can they actually win, and what is the path to victory that they can achieve. One has to look at it bluntly…what is Pompeo’s path? Can he win swing states? What special something does he bring to the table that makes one think that he could win PA?
Right now, today, what I want is someone who can add, subtract, multiply, and divide.
Someone who understands the work that went into producing a dollar of profit and a megawatt of electricity.
Someone who has grown his own tomatoes.
Someone who has shoveled the snow and chopped the wood.
A person who understands what private property is.
Someone who understands that he who governs least governs best.
A person who has run a successful American company that is not from the world of finance where profit accrues from playing with other people’s work.
I would take almost any local carpenter, electrician, bricklayer, innkeeper, or truck driver over anyone currently in government.
Well, maybe in the primary if there is a conservative Dem running…but since they likely won’t win the nomination, it would be no one in the general. For me, I am not voting for any GOP candidates until they fix their problems. They didn’t before 22 and they didn’t after 22, and there are no signs that they are going to resolve anything by 24.
I supported almost all the same people that you supported. I felt that Carly would have been a great choice and still do, but that moment has passed. I’m still not quite sure (except for Trump’s nasty comment) why she didn’t get further.
I so agree, Drew! Anti-semites have to be called out directly (and lumped with every other kind of bigot). And the Dept. of Education is a disaster, as well as the unions. DeSantis is taking on education and the unions in FL; more governors should take his example! If elected as president, I’d love to see him move to get rid of that Department!
Hear! Hear! Especially the fiscal part, Marci, whether we’re talking about running a company or using a budget!