It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over
A week from now the Florida Republican Presidential primary election will be over, or you may think it will be. As Steve Martin used to say “Not!” Or, let’s intone Yogi Berra’s warning, “it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” That doesn’t mean we have another election to go, but only that we have the Republican National Convention to go ( Tampa in August). That’s where the real action is.
Florida, even though it is the host for the convention, may not get all its delegates seated because the state party violated rules by having a primary election January 31 well before the no-elections before March 6 party rule - except for Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. The Florida party wanted the national attention since Florida is the fourth largest state. They felt the penalty was worth the publicity for state voters. Yet, ultimately, those delegates are more important than which candidate gets chosen by voters in elections or caucuses (like Iowa). If that sounds a little confusing, it is.
All this publicity surrounding the candidates and who wins which primary means something, but not everything. The winner will be decided, as it is in the Democratic party, at the convention. The four guys left standing: Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul have been running to get delegates to back them at the August convention. However, win or lose, delegates in some states aren’t obligated to nominate the winner of their state. Some are, but only for at least three ballots at the convention. More confused? For clarification, several hours of reading can clear it up. Oh, by the way, some states elect their delegates and some are appointed by party powers and some states do both. Delegates can be at large or from congressional districts.
However, by saying that the primary elections don’t mean everything to the candidates, doesn’t mean they don’t mean something. There’s always weight in winning. There is weight in the publicity although some of that might be good or bad. On that subject, Ronald Reagan had a bit to say. In a letter to a friend he explained why he refused to take part in the 1980 Iowa debate. “ I feel so strongly that Republicans candidates should not campaign against each other, but against the opposition. We should let the members of our party decide which one should carry the banner, and, then, all of us should unite behind that one.” He went on to note that debates stress the differences rather than those things in common.
He might have been right, but he lost the Iowa caucuses because he didn’t debate and had to relent and get into party debates in spite of the divisive nature of debates. Democrats haven’t been coy about divisiveness, either. Think Clinton (Hillary) and Obama, Kennedy-Johnson. Kiss and make up comes quickly after a convention unless someone forms a third party. Voters expect the cutting up and accept the kiss and makeup. However, I think voters get tired of the cutting up after awhile (maybe now?) It is good to know what someone stands for rather than just what they are against, or who they are against.
So, with less than a week to go, here we are with four candidates (right now democrats don’t have a say though in some states they do): Newt (motor mouth) Gingrich, Mitt (cool hand Luke) Romney, Rick (listen-up) Santorum, and Ron (wow) Paul. Newt’s a wicked debater - no teleprompter needed and a walking encyclopedia of just about everything. Mitt’s not exactly thrilling, but a presidential-like smart executive. Santorum’s refreshingly candid, knowledgeable, with a focus on the family. Paul’s an all-out isolationist libertarian with a following that attacks critics with the fervor that Newt attacks the media.
Cutting through the chafe my personal choice is for Romney’s steady, serious, focused executive experience, intellect and character although I suspect he’s a bit less conservative than I. I do enjoy Gingrich’s feisty rhetoric and Santorum’s in your face pugnaciousness, and Paul’s sometimes confusing rants. However, we are talking about running the federal government and being a world leader. Pizazz isn’t everything. Competence is.