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Republican field has GOP cringing

Mac Gordon

Mac Gordon

People with no plans anyway to vote for the eventual Republican nominee for President in 2012 are enjoying laughs galore watching the GOP circus tent unfold before our very eyes.

And I don't care how partisan, or conservative or Democrat-hating one might be, all true-red Republicans must be cringing at the field of candidates hoping to unseat President Obama next year.

One candidate, Michelle Bachman, apparently did not know going into a recent debate on which continent Libya is located (Africa). Gaffes such as that sent her stock, which once was soaring with the eagles, reeling, about as low as most snakes.

Georgia native Herman Cain trotted out a silly ("9-9-9") plan to reform our tax codes that likely would leave many Americans paying more taxes, not less. Cain also is under fire for claims that he sexually harassed two women while he ran a national restaurant trade group. His campaign has blamed another Republican candidate's campaign for leaking the information to the media. He has employed double-speak on abortion, a cardinal sin in most GOP eyes. He also has proposed building an electric fence to protect our borders.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry proposed a flat tax system, but incredibly he included an "out" that would allow taxpayers to continue using the current system. Perry's state gives huge college tuition breaks to illegal immigrants -- squarely the wrong side of an issue that many Republicans see as America's No. 1 problem. He also claims to have created more jobs for Texas than any other state, but most are low-level, minimum-wage positions. And he referred to Social Security as a "Ponzi scheme," irritating millions of retired Americans, including yours truly.

In former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Georgia GOP darling and a chief architect of the "Republican Revolution" of 1994, you have a candidate who probably knows more on domestic and foreign issues than all the other candidates put together, but who has in his past a messy divorce (he's in his third marriage) with a wife who was suffering from cancer at the time. Christian conservatives -- which is how most Republicans describe themselves -- are not apt in the end to support someone with that marital track record, no matter how right-wing or brilliant he is on other matters.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul, a physician, likely has a higher IQ than Gingrich, but as a dedicated libertarian he often strays from Republican-backed stances. He enjoys the limelight but has no chance of being nominated. Neither does former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, who is somewhat the forgotten candidate in the field.

Finally, you have the perceived front-runner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who runs from talk of religious issues because his faith is Mormon, which many Republicans believe, rightly or wrongly, to be a cult. He also initiated a state-run medical program many say is the basis for the so-called "Obama Care" that is anathema to GOP types. Perry accused him of hiring illegals to manicure his lawn.

Could all of this point to a Republican candidate unknown at this point to oppose President Obama? Very possibly.

Mac Gordon is a retired reporter who lives near Blakely and writes an occasional opinion column for The Albany Herald.