Thursday, May 3, 2007

Fineman Sizes Up Tonight's Second Tier Candidates

Howard Fineman, in a Newsweek web exclusive, considers most of the second-tier Republican Presidential candidates participating in tonight's debate:

Consider Rep. Ron Paul, a Libertarian Republican from Texas who has opposed the Iraq War from the beginning because of his small-government, isolationist worldview. He is not a nut case but rather a doctor with a degree from Duke Medical School. And he’s steeped in a branch of conservative intellectual history that traces its modern lineage to the Founding Fathers.

Most people back East know nothing of Rep. Duncan Hunter of San Diego, but he is a serious character, too—a Vietnam vet and student of military matters who should not be confused with the Duke Cunninghams of the world. You know the anti-illegal fence near his city, the one that is now a model for a larger fence along the Mexican border? That was Hunter’s project. Living at the other end of the foreign-policy spectrum from Paul—there is no more dedicated supporter of the use of military power in world affairs—Hunter represents the big-stick tradition now known as neoconservatism. He mixes it up with Democrats, big time.

Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado has made a name for himself as the leading proponent of tough immigration rules and sanctions—far tougher than the ideas the GOP front runners are daring to discuss. You think this doesn’t resonate in the core of the base? Of course it does, and the big names know it.

Former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore has some anti-tax cred, not so much for what he did as governor per se but for having been a key player in the drive—so far successful—to prevent the imposition of government taxes on Internet transactions.

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is best known for having lost 100 pounds, but as I see it he is one of two candidates—the other is Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas—who represent the pure strain of religious conservatism in the party. Huckabee has the best credential of all on that score: he is an ordained Baptist preacher, and that was his day job before he entered politics. If you are an evangelical Christian, why not be for Huckabee? That way you eliminate the middle man.
I don't know why Fineman left former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson out of his commentary

With the focus always on former New York City Mayor Giuliani, Arizona Senator McCain, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, most folks don't hear much about the other prospective candidates.

Like Kucinich and Gravel in the Democratic candidate's debate held last week, the seven lessor known candidates will likely be much more strident during this chance to bask in national attention. The big three will concentrate on trying to avoid making any mistakes.

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