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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 3/7/12

Running Unopposed?

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Campaigning politicians and aspiring muggers are essentially the same. They both want to take something that another individual isn't that inclined to give them. Much like the mugger, the best way for the office seeker to accomplish this is to find whatever his or her opponent's main weakness is and bludgeon them over the head with it until they are laying on the ground motionless. Metaphorically speaking, of course. For this to be successful, however, they have to make sure whatever they are swinging works like it had a double dose of Viagra as opposed to fifteen shots of Wild Turkey. I know my analogy is a little crude, but since reproductive health seems to a hot topic these days I figured I would get my two cents in.

President Obama will enter the fall run-in to election day with several built-in advantages. First off, the nature of the electoral map means that in order to win he will have to carry way fewer states than his Republican rival. Second, there are currently twelve million more registered Democrats nationwide than there are Republicans. Third, President Obama will hold a sizable fund raising advantage, with most estimates putting his campaign war chest at well over a billion dollars.

With all that considered, the Republicans face an uphill battle come November and if they want to compete with Obama they better find a point of attack that hits like a lead pipe as opposed to a wet noodle. The problem is, if either Romney, Santorum, or Gingrich is the nominee there really is very little that they can attack the President on and sound credible to anyone outside of a Republican debate hall.

For decades, one of these easiest points of attack for Republicans was to portray Democrats as soft on foreign policy and national security. If they are stupid enough to play that card, President Obama will smack that down as fast as it takes to say, "I killed Osama bin Laden". Not to mention the fact that combat troops are withdrawn from Iraq, Anwar Awalaki is dead, there have been two successful hostage rescues from Somali pirates, and Muammar Gaddafi was deposed at a minimal cost to the taxpayer with no American loss of life. Whoever the nominee is might as well rip that page out of the playbook right now.

In past years, bringing social issues to the forefront has been a big winner for Republicans. In 2004, Karl Rove, in another one of his many displays of political genius, had Republicans in the Senate try to bring the Federal Marriage Amendment up for a vote. Rove knew it had no chance of passing, but that was hardly the point. It was done to politically box in John Kerry and John Edwards , causing them to have to choose between alienating their liberal base or turning off Latino and African-American voters, who oppose gay marriage more than other ethnic groups due to their strong religious convictions but traditionally support Democrats in large numbers. Compare that with 2012, where the Republican opposition to contraception couldn't possibly be any more damaging to their electoral hopes than it already has been.

Theoretically, one of President Obama's biggest vulnerabilities should have been his disastrous healthcare legislation, which piled massive amounts of debt on future generations while accomplishing not one single, significant reform. The problem for Republicans is neither Romney, Santorum, or Gingrich can credibly attack Obama on healthcare. Romney's healthcare plan he instituted while governor of Massachusetts is the model for Obama's plan, so much so that when the President was crafting his legislation he consulted with some of Romney's healthcare team. Gingrich and Santorum were major supporters of George W. Bush's healthcare entitlement, Medicare Part D, which piles on as much debt as Obamacare while also reforming nothing. Gingrich was also one of the earliest supporter's of the individual health insurance mandate, one of the key cornerstones of Obamacare.

Even the state of the economy doesn't currently represent a huge vulnerability to President Obama. When it comes to elections, the discussion of the economy is always murky. The Obama campaign will be able to put forward enough credible voices who will claim that the economy is showing signs of recovery. In addition to that, the Administration will be able to fudge unemployment and growth numbers to present the economy in the best possible light. And let's not forget that President Obama will remind us, more times than we will be able to count, that he inherited a mess of George W. Bush's doing.

Given their past policy positions, the only credible criticism of President Obama that Romney, Santorum, or Gingrich could have had was on debt, deficit, and spending. That was until the three candidates released their own proposals about where they would take the federal budget. In an independent study by the bipartisan U.S. Budget Watch, it was determined that Gingrich would add 7 trillion in new debt, Santorum would add 4.5 trillion, and Romney's debt trajectory was 2 trillion worse than the one proposed by the Obama Administration. Some much for attacking Obama on spending and the debt. This doesn't even take into account that most of their proposed cuts aren't really cuts at all, but cancellations of future spending increases. Sort of like a dieter counting a five pound weight gain as a loss because they thought they had gained ten pounds.

Not surprisingly, the only candidate who's budget proposal actually reduces the debt is Ron Paul, the candidate I support. Now while I love what he does on the spending side with major cuts, I disagree with him on the taxation side given our current fiscal state. Still, the report cited him as the only true fiscal conservative of the four candidates. Congressman Paul pairs a five trillion dollar tax cut with seven trillion dollars of real spending cuts leading to two trillion in debt reduction. Maybe there is a reason he was the Republican running closest to Obama in Rasmussen's latest round of head-to-head national polling. Despite this, I will readily admit his chances of getting the Republican nomination are between slim and none. However, if that is the case, and either Romney, Santorum, or Gingrich is the nominee, given their inability to credibly attack Obama on any of his weaknesses, the President will enjoy the luxury of standing for reelection, for all practical purposes, unopposed.

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