The editors of The National Review have decided to endorse Mitt Romney as their choice for the next president of the United States. They raise a number of issues in their editorial that I think all serious voters need to consider. But their stated criteria for endorsing a candidate is very clear:
“Our guiding principle has always been to select the most conservative viable candidate.”
Mark these words from the previous sentence: “conservative” and “viable.” By conservative, the editors mean to support the candidate that most embodies a conservative governing philosophy, which they define as “a supporter of free-market economics and limited government, moral causes such as the right to life and the preservation of marriage, and a foreign policy based on the national interest.” By viable, the editors mean to support the candidate that has the best chance of beating the Democrats in November 2008.
These two criteria aren’t bad, and they are not unlike the criteria that I use to evaluate the current field of candidates. I can put my criteria in the form of questions. (1) Which candidate advocates policies that I believe to be the best for the country? (2) Which candidate has the most personal integrity? (3) Which candidate has the best chance to beat the Democrats in November? When you read my number three, you see that I agree with the editors of The National Review that the best candidate is the one that is viable.
How do I analyze the current field of candidates using these criteria? Here are some thoughts:
(1) Which candidate advocates policies that I believe to be the best for the country?
In America, the greatest human rights crisis of our time is the regime of Roe v. Wade, which has presided over the legal killing of over 40 million babies since 1973. Rudy Giuliani and the entire slate of Democrat candidates would support policies that would prolong this outrage, and so in my view they are all disqualified from consideration.
All that leaves us with is the Republican field of candidates (minus Rudy Giuliani), but many of them have problems of their own. John McCain supports federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, which despite his otherwise prolife voting record suggests he really doesn’t get it. Fred Thompson wants Roe v. Wade overturned, but he doesn’t support a human life amendment. That latter fact suggests that he doesn’t get it either (despite his views on federalism). Ron Paul has run a principled campaign, but unfortunately his principles are wrong when it comes to his view of the war in Iraq.
If the names above are eliminated, the only serious candidates left are Romney and Huckabee. Huckabee’s greatest assest is that he is solid on life-issues and would make a great spokesman for the cause. In terms of policies, one of his liabilities is that he supports a path for citizenship for illegal immigrants (though he does support building a fence at the border). Romney is pro-life, though he has come to this position very late in his own life.
(2) Which candidate has the most personal integrity?
When I consider a candidate’s personal integrity, I look at his family. Is he married, and has he kept his marriage vows? If a man’s wife cannot trust him to keep his promises, then why should I? Obviously, that criterion eliminates Rudy Giuliani from consideration. Of the family men in the race, I like Huckabee, Romney, and Edwards (though I would never vote for the latter). I also like McCain, though I suspect that he may have problems controlling his temper.
(3) Which candidate has the best chance to beat the Democrats in November?
Why do I think it’s important to select a candidate who will be able to defeat the Democrat nominee in the general election? It’s not for partisan reasons. It’s because all the Democrats are wrong on the greatest human rights crisis of our time, so I think their candidacies (and that of Rudy Giuliani) must be defeated.
The editors at the National Review make a strong case that Romney is the most viable candidateâ€”the one with the best prospect for winning in November. Others think that Huckabee would fare well against the Democrat nominee. But Huckabee has some things in his record that might make it difficult for him in the general election. Matt Drudge reports that one Democrat operative says that Huckabee’s recent negative press “ain’t even scratching the surface of what we’ve got on him.”
Here’s one additional item to note. With the exception of one poll, no one Republican candidate beats any one of the Democrat candidates in head-to-head polling. In a single CNN poll, John McCain edges out Hillary Clinton while getting beat by all the other Democrat candidates. See the poll here.
So who will I vote for? I haven’t made up my mind yet. But I will make a decision soon, and my candidate will be the one whose policies I agree with most and who I think can win in the general election.