Republican candidates lack focus


Fate has given the Republican Party an incredible opportunity to take back the White House in 2012. Presidential elections are inextricably linked to the economy, and President Obama thinks he can buck a 76-year trend by being re-elected with such high unemployment.

According to a Rasmussen Report survey published in December, an astonishing seven in 10 Americans think the country is on the wrong track.

Independent voters who flocked from the Democrats in the last midterm election are poised to do the same in this election. By every historical metric, this election should be a cakewalk for Republicans. All they have to do is focus on the incumbent president’s handling of the economy.

But instead, they have offered unrelated abstractions that can only help our incumbent president’s chances.

The media has begun penning this story by correctly citing the Republican Party’s stubborn resistance to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Conservative leaders have pleaded for anyone else to jump in to replace him without success.

The result is a party split 75-25. Three in four republican voters pray that anyone but Gov. Romney will be their nominee — not too different from 2008.

But Mitt Romney might very well have the last laugh. Not only has he accrued the most support of any candidate, he has been the only candidate to stay mostly on message.

The other candidates haven’t realized focus is important. They’ve talked about economic policy in weird abstractions that do not relate to the president’s record. A prime example was former presidential hopeful Michele Bachman bragging she would not have allowed the debt ceiling to increase and therefore defaulting the full faith and credit of the United States government.

A soldier in one of my classes last semester who was paid late disagrees with Rep. Bachman, and I’d bet most Americans would too.

This bad behavior trumpeted by other candidates refusing to focus on the economy has caused Mitt to start trying to be just like the rest of them. In a recent debate, Romney has threatened to label China a currency manipulator knowing full well, as the Wall Street Journal reported, it would lead to an ugly trade war.

This statement sparked a chain reaction of the other Republican candidates to feel left out of the very important subject of foreign affairs. It doesn’t help that they’ve been really, really bad at it.

Former presidential hopeful Herman Cain warned that China has ambitions to gain a nuclear arsenal despite the fact that China has had nuclear capability for 40 years. Presidential hopeful Rick Perry declared we should zero out foreign aid, disregarding the fact countries like Pakistan have nuclear weapons but are on the verge of becoming a failed state.

These statements don’t just distract from the economy, which will be the defining issue for this election. It goes after President Obama on his strongest issue. Like the plurality of the American people, Obama has held the position to responsibly leave Iraq and finish the job against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Republicans, of all people, should know the country doesn’t believe in hope and change anymore than they believe in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. The country wants and deserves a clearly articulated alternative to an economic record stained with a historic debt downgrade and an incredibly high unemployment rate.

The question of this election season is not whether Rick Santorum has legs in South Carolina or if Mitt Romney can sweep New Hampshire. The question is whether the GOP is willing to throw away a chance for the White House in order to defend abstractions unrelated to the issue of our time: the economy.

Ameek Singh is a State News guest columnist. Reach him at

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