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The Last Word

The Conservative Choice

By John Burris, Guest Writer

The field of candidates for the Republican Party presidential nomination is large in size and heavy on experience.

The Obama years have given us Christie, Rubio, Sandoval and others, just like the Bush years gave us McCaskill, Franken, and Obama. So the 2016 race is littered with governors, senators and other leaders who all have accomplishment to talk about. It should be a conservative year. We have some level of competing messages and personalities. That means Republicans have options.

Predictions are always foolish. Hundreds of events, fundraisers and gaffes stand between the present and the final decision of the future.

Still, the candidate’s experiences and personalities are worthy of discussion. Those won’t change, which is unfortunate for some.

Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz shouldn’t be serious contenders. Cruz is a grandstander with no accomplishment. Trump benefits from America’s celebrity culture. His popularity is not an indictment of the Republican Party unless he actually gets the Republican nomination, which he won’t. Poll numbers now are simply celebrity driven and nothing more. Democrats want him in the race because of the damage he does to their opponent’s brand and the way he consumes the media coverage and narrative. Republicans want him out of the race for the same reasons.

Senator Marco Rubio is one of the most promising. He’s young, articulate and comes from critical electoral states. He’s not shone as brightly in the Senate as some expected. He did risk boldness on immigration reform, but retreated fast. There should have been more engagement on serious topics.

Jeb Bush, dullness aside, is easy to respect. He shows some level of depth, both politically and personally. He met his Hispanic wife, Columba, while living in Mexico, an event that shapes many of his current views. He’s gone against the overly simple political logic on issues like Common Core and immigration. Even if his position is wrong, you know he didn’t arrive there by following the path of least resistance. That alone is refreshing in a cycle where the lowest common denominator is chosen too often.

There is Bush fatigue, unfortunately. Baggage from a previous president shouldn’t hold him back, but it probably will.

Governor John Kasich is likely the most qualified, by résumé and accomplishment. But personality matters too. His would be brashest of all, were it not for Gov. Chris Christie.

There are many others. Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Rand Paul started as frontrunners because of unique appeal to certain groups of voters: Huckabee with evangelicals and Paul with the Dale Gribble type (a “King of the Hill” character who personifies government distrust). But both also have unique flaws. Huckabee has run out of one-liners. Paul’s isolationist ideas only work in theory and are only popular in peacetime. Both should drop out soon.

Others should also drop out after the first of the year.

We’re less than two months from the Iowa Caucus, the first real ballot in the 2016 presidential election. More candidates should drop out soon, after completing the required prayer, talking to supporters and visiting with family members.

Two things are certain:

First, we’ll have a chance to nominate a serious contender for the White House. It won’t be Trump.

Secondly, God must love Republican primaries. He’s told plenty to run, at least according to them. Maybe people run for different reasons, not just the ones they say publicly.

Regardless, conservatives will have plenty of choices.

I just hope I like the outcome.


Burris is a political consultant with Capitol Advisors Group in Little Rock, Arkansas.

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Arkansas Trucking Association
PO Box 3476 (72203)
1401 West Capitol Ave.
Little Rock, AR 72201

(501) 372-3462 | Phone
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  • PROTECT the collective interests of trucking companies in the political and regulatory arenas.
  • PROMOTE the dynamics of trucking so that people have a better understanding of the link between America's primary freight delivery system and the standard of living they enjoy.
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