Opinion: Carolina Journal Opinions

High Stakes for the GOP

As I write this column, only a few days have passed since the San Bernardino massacre and President Obama has just addressed the nation from the Oval Office.

As it happens, my wife and I are vacationing in California less than hour away from where the terrorists struck.
As always, no one thought it could happen here.

But it has … and it has awakened Middle America to the reality that something is not right with our country.

Clearly America is not feeling safe and they are perplexed with the doubletalk coming out of the Obama White House.

Obama’s address to the nation did absolutely nothing to assuage the public’s fears. Radical Islamic terrorism is on the march in the Middle East and Europe, yet Obama can’t seem to utter the phrase. By in large, only the hardcore Left now trusts Obama to keep our nation safe.

In a larger context, it’s generally believed that seven years into an Obama presidency, things just aren’t working. Our southern border remains porous and the PC culture is permeating every aspect of our lives.

Our inner cities have become killing fields and gangs and drugs are no longer just a big city problem. Obamacare is not sustainable, and 90 million folks have dropped out of the work force — and some 50 million are on food stamps.

During Obama’s tenure the national debt has doubled and the economy is underperforming.

Against this backdrop is the upcoming 2016 presidential election.

Hillary Clinton is the forgone conclusion to be the standard bearer for her party, so all the focus is on the Republican field.

Currently, the top tier in the fight for the Republican nomination is Donald Trump, Texas U.S. Sen, Ted Cruz, Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, and Dr. Ben Carson.

Trump has been discounted and vilified by the establishment, but since July he never has relinquished the lead. The “Teflon” Don continues to defy the pundits and frustrate the donor and consultant class. He is unscripted … but to those who support him, that is part of his appeal.

Trump personifies anti-establishment angst — as do Cruz and Carson.

The Republican base overwhelmingly rejects the establishment; just ask Jeb Bush, who is hovering at around 3 percent in the polls.

In my view, the most disciplined campaign has been that of Cruz. That is reflected in his surge nationally, in key primary states, and in his fundraising.

Since coming to Washington, Cruz has fought the establishment and worked to reform and change the system. At 44, he represents generational change. He is smart, well-versed, and a very effective campaigner.

Rubio also represents generational change.

Like Cruz he is Hispanic, very bright, and a great speaker. He reminds many of us of the late Jack Kemp, full of optimism, ideas, and tireless energy.

His Achilles’ heel may be the immigration amnesty bill he sponsored with Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer and Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, a deal that was resoundingly rejected by the American public.

Dr. Carson is well liked and he is anti-Trump in tone and demeanor. However, he has been in a virtual freefall because of the perception that he is not quite up to speed on national security.

Rounding out the field are Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey, John Kasich of Ohio, and Sen. Rand Paul. They’re long shots at best.

After the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary, many will drop out.

By then there will be two or three contenders. The focus will be intense and the stakes for America will be incredibly high.

Marc Rotterman is a senior fellow at the John Locke Foundation.