• Lillie Burke

GOP: The race is on … and on, and on

Is it 2012 yet?

During the past few weeks, cable TV seems to have turned into debate central. Although it still is three months until the Iowa caucuses, candidates for the GOP nomination have been stumping relentlessly in key primary states.

The national media, as it does in every election, continues to hype up coverage for the race. Every few weeks, the media seems to prop up a new “best candidate,” someone hailed as having a chance of uniting the fractured GOP and challenging incumbent Democrat Barack Obama.

In the revolving door that has determined who’s hot and who’s not in this three-ring circus of an election, it seems the only thing this field can do is strengthen the neo-conservative archetypes they’ve already fit themselves into.

The purest of the pure in this race, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, has a growing grassroots base. His staunch beliefs and unwillingness to change any of his libertarian stances has gained him respect from his base as well as national attention, but the his unwavering positions would also make it hard for him to win the nomination or general election. This leaves a Texas-sized hole for one certain governor.

It’s a space Gov. Rick Perry could thrive in, especially with his Southern roots and persona. Perry though, thinks he has bigger fish to fry than just getting the vote below the Mason-Dixon line. His campaign is betting that the ticket to win a unanimous nomination is capturing a GOP trifecta: the South, evangelical Christians and the tea party. His spotty debate showings, combined with the possibility that America is not ready to call George W. Bush’s replacement in the Lone Star state up to the big leagues, means Perry still has a long way to go, and that has to start with claiming the GOP nomination.

Other stereotypes, ones that have worked previously in the race, are starting show their wear as the campaign moves into the fall. The simplifier that is Herman Cain brought early headlines to his campaign with the arguably quick and easy solutions he offered. They are now keeping him from gaining any further momentum into the fall.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich is the old pit bull of the race, still wanting to pick a fight with fellow candidates and the media for not taking him seriously nearly a decade after his heyday.

The evangelicals that originally flocked to the campaign of Michele Bachmann, a congresswoman from Minnesota, are now bailing out to join Perry’s attempt to take over the party.

All the while, the businessman of the field and former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney is hovering near the lead, despite doing little to define his candidacy like the other candidates. He seems to have learned from his campaign four years ago when his positions changed with the wind. Better to say little and get little repercussions.

Presidential re-elections tend to look like this, however. Look at 2004. When then-President George W. Bush got into the race after an uncontested primary, the Democratic Party had already tried yelling and screaming its way into the White House.

With the President’s current approval ratings low and the nation’s unemployment rate high, the time couldn’t be more right for a reputable and remarkable conservative to take the Presidency. With this field though, the road to a Republican White House has gotten a whole lot harder.

Vision editor Brian Wilson is a junior journalism major.

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