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GOP faces uphill fight in 2008 election

By David T. Pyne
web posted January 15, 2007

There is almost unanimous consensus among political analysts that the most important issue for voters and the primary reason the Republicans lost both houses of Congress in the last election was President George W. Bush's failed war in Iraq. Due to Bush's continued refusal to come up with a victory/exit strategy for Iraq, it is certain to be the most important issue facing voters in the 2008 presidential election as well, which is a very alarming realization for Republican politicians.

According to longtime political prognosticator, Robert Novak, most Republican officeholders in Congress not only blame Bush for losing both houses of Congress in this past election, but believe that Bush must withdraw all US troops from Iraq by early 2008 if not earlier if Republicans are to have any hope of stopping the Democrats from retaking the White House in 2008. Novak reports that only about a dozen of the 49 member Senate Republican Caucus support Bush's plan, announced on January 10th, for an 18-month long surge of 20,000 troops in Iraq. Months of hearings by the new Democrat-led Congress will produce added pressure for Congressional Republicans to prod the President to get us out of Iraq well before the next election. Many self-serving Democrats undoubtedly hope that the President will keep US forces bogged down in Iraq long enough to produce another even more stunning Democrat electoral sweep come November 2008.

Over the last month or so, Republicans have been increasingly outspoken against the President's failed and defeatist Iraq war policy. On December 7th, Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) gave an emotional speech in which he stated "I, for one, am at the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up by the same bombs day after day," He concluded by stating, "That is absurd. It may even be criminal." Having demonstrated such political courage to speak truth to power, it is truly a shame that Smith is not running for President himself. Smith later stated that many GOP Senators commended him on his speech saying that he spoke for them. Asked to comment on it a few days later, Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) publicly defended Smith's comments and said it was long past time for "a new direction in Iraq" a phrase which was the Democrat 2006 election slogan understood as code words meaning a phased withdrawal from the Iraq morass.

In the running for the Republican nomination for President, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani who polls well in Republican circles is widely believed to be too socially liberal to win the nomination as is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to a lesser extent whereas former Speaker Newt Gingrich has lost all credibility with social conservatives since his adulterous affair revealed during the Clinton impeachment trial. The best possible Republican presidential nominee would clearly be realist conservative champion and Vietnam War hero Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE). Hagel has a very strong fiscal and social conservative record well to the right of George W. Bush and most of the other prospective Republican presidential candidates. He is also the only candidate on the Republican side who can say that he was right about the Iraq war from the beginning. His warnings and misgivings with regards to going to war in Iraq seem near-prescient in retrospect. He also has strong bipartisan support and acclaim and has a lot of positive media which would go a long way should he decide to run for President. In the unfortunate event that Hagel decides not to run, we are likely to end up with a two-man race for the GOP presidential nomination between Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MS). Principles aside, Romney has proven to be very capable at persuading people to support him and very adept in raising millions of dollars for his candidacy.

If the Democrats reintroduce and pass legislation aimed at providing amnesty in all but name for twenty million illegals is approved by the Democrat Congress and signed into law by President Bush, the Republican Party will split and McCain's frontrunner status presidential candidacy will implode along with the candidacies of every other Republican presidential nominee who voted for it. Former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MS) would then replace McCain as the front runner as given his recent rightward tack he would be likely to denounce McCain on amnesty and pledge to work to secure America's borders. Given the option between voting for a supporter of US border security in time of war who converted from being a social liberal to a mainstream conservative or voting for the author of a Bush signed amnesty bill who has never been much of a social conservative himself not to mention the principal cheerleader for the Bush "stay the course" policy in Iraq, I believe that most Republican primary voters would choose Romney. I believe that Romney's straight arrow Mormon family values-oriented lifestyle will actually prove an asset as he seeks the presidency. If amnesty is signed into law by Bush, Bush's approval rating will fall into the twenties for the remainder of his term as his conservative base deserts him. Rumored Bush support for a deal with the Democrats which would include increasing taxes on "the rich" in exchange for social security reforms would be the last straw for many Bush supporters.

The other wild-card in the 2008 election race is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire who is rumored to be considering running a strong third-party run for President. Bloomberg who is Democrat in all but name is as socially liberal as the most leftwing Democrats and so would be most likely to take votes away from the Democratic presidential nominee which will most likely be either be Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) or former Vice President Al Gore. A Bloomberg run which takes up to 20% of the vote would be the only way that a pro-Iraq troop surge candidate like John McCain could be elected President in my opinion. Bloomberg could also enable Romney who might otherwise lose the general election, albeit by a smaller margin than McCain, to win. For this reason, Republicans have a lot of reason to hope Bloomberg runs.

A more remote but interesting possibility would be whether a Bloomberg run was so strong as to deprive either major party candidate from obtaining a majority of the electoral vote in the general election. If that were to happen, the House of Representatives led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi would choose the President and the US Senate would choose the Vice President. Since both are Democrat controlled, the outcome of this vote would not be in doubt unless the Democrat presidential nominee came in far behind the Republican in the vote total in which case Democrats who are always crying about disenfranchisement and honoring the wishes of the voters would have trouble getting away with putting the second or third-place finisher in the White House.

One thing is certain. Given the poisonous political environment created for the Republicans by George W. Bush by his disastrous, no-win war in Iraq that resulted in the stunning loss of both houses of Congress by the GOP in the last election as well as historical trends in which one major political party almost never wins three straight consecutive presidential elections, the Democrats are clearly favored to take back the White House in 2008. Unless Bush pulls our troops out of Iraq or Bloomberg runs for President, most likely the next President will be named Clinton or Gore. ESR

David T. Pyne, Esq. serves as the President of the New Mexico Republican Assembly and as a Vice President of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies. Mr. Pyne is a licensed attorney and former United States Army Officer. He holds an MA in National Security Studies from Georgetown University. Mr. Pyne has previously been published on WorldNetDaily.com and has been invited to appear on CNBC and the Regional News Network. Mr. Pyne has also been invited to serve as an occasional Fox News commentator to express his views on assorted public policy issues. David T. Pyne can be reached at swvp@gopwing.com © 2007 David T. Pyne


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