Time for the other Thompson to withdraw
There are only three, possibly four likely winners of the Republican nomination at this point. After losing in South Carolina, Fred Thompson is not one of them.
Of the remaining choices, Romney, Huckabee, McCain and Giuliani, only former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has a chance of carrying the conservative standard in November. None of the other three candidates are capable of pulling together all the fragile strands of the Republican Party and still present a conservative program. None of the other three would want to.
Senator John McCain is the front runner. Within the GOP there is a certain sense of “It’s his turn”, always a strong sentiment with Republicans. There is also a sense of gratitude for the senator’s long service, his military record, and his willingness to stand firm in support of sending more troops to Iraq before even the White House had the idea.
If resume alone were the determinant of the Republican nomination, McCain would have to be the Republicans’ first choice.
However, McCain has been wrong on so many issues, and has been willing to put his personal vanity ahead of that of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. Conservatives fear less that he’ll be another Eisenhower than he’ll be something else entirely, maybe an Andrew Jackson. McCain’s stands on immigration, tax cuts, health care, global warming and even judicial nominations would make most conservatives wary to support him. But there should not be one conservative supporter for the senator given his disdain for the First Amendment, especially his continued support for suppressing free speech in the name of “campaign finance reform.”
I have no doubt Senator McCain would willingly die for his country if it was asked, but who could speak up for our country if he was elected?
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is a strong voice for the unborn. Huckabee also has appeal in that he is a strong voice for returning religious values to the public arena. But Huckabee demonstrates the limits of one faction within the GOP trying to succeed without the others. Abandoning economic conservatives in the hopes of getting Democratic populist voters is not a winning coalition and undermines the very ideas of American conservativism.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has finally decided to contest a primary, only to see his national standing gone and real alternatives to his candidacy emerge. If Fred Thompson is to be criticized for a lackluster campaign, Giuliani should be disqualified for squandering every advantage he had.
Setting aside the issues for a moment, Giuliani’s personal scandals are not the personal story of a president. Even Ulysses S. Grant’s drinking and Grover Cleveland’s child out of wedlock pale in comparison to Giuliani’s story.
Giuliani’s strength is his commitment to the War on Terror. Perhaps more than any other politician he understands how much the world changed on September 11th. However, if foreign policy were the only issue, why wouldn’t Senator McCain be the first choice?
Giuliani’s commitment to lower taxes is admirable. His record on crime unsurpassed. But when it comes to the social issues, Giuliani would be a disaster to the Reagan Coalition. While he has committed to supporting strict constructionists to the Supreme Court, that is not the only role of the President when it comes to defending life and standing for traditional values.
Which leaves us as Governor Romney. While Romney is a recent convert on the issue of being Pro-Life, his record in Massachusetts is one of a sincere conversion. Romney fought for traditional marriage. On economic issues, Romney is a fiscal conservative. And on the War on Terror, Romney also has a mature world view that sees the war as ongoing and necessary. No candidate is perfect, but Romney is one candidate capable of bringing the whole of the Republican Party together in time to win in November. Romney is also the once candidate remaining that could defeat McCain, Huckabee and Giuliani, all of whom would be counter to the interests of the conservative movement.
The next contest is Florida on January 29th. A Romney win there, with all four of the major candidates in a contest for the first time, could give him the momentum needed to win a clear majority of delegates on February 5th.
By withdrawing now and endorsing Romney, Thompson’s support could be enough to provide Romney the edge needed to win. But the key is to withdraw now so the endorsement has time to affect the voters’ choice, especially as early voting has already begun.
It pains me to offer that advice. As regular readers know, Sean Hackbarth of the American Mind is on staff with Thompson and my wife is a “Fred Head.”
But by supporting Romney now, Thompson will have done his part to advance the conservative cause and propel a conservative to the Republican nomination.