In my last article (Part 3) I evaluated the two presidential candidates from the 2008 Republican primary, Mike Huckabee, and Mitt Romney, giving Romney the edge on both his business experience and his governorship. Today we will look at the remainder of my favorite candidates, Jon Huntsman, Sarah Palin, and Allen West, ending with a ranking of my favorite five potential candidates.
Jon Huntsman, Jr. Huntsman gave the vice-presidential nominating speech for Sarah Palin, and has all but been endorsed for a presidential run by John McCain. To most of America Huntsman is an unknown. He has been an insider in Washington since the 1980s serving in the Reagan, G.H.W Bush, and G.W. Bush administrations as (respectively) White House Staff Assistant, Deputy Secretary of Commerce then Ambassador to Singapore, and Deputy US Trade Representative. He is currently serves in the Obama Administration as Ambassador to China.
He was Governor of Utah for two terms, winning the second term with almost 78% of the vote. The Cato Institute rated him the top governor on tax policy, and the fifth highest on overall fiscal policy. During his administration Utah was listed as the best run state government by the Pew Center on the States.
His business experience includes an executive with the Huntsman Corporation, an international Chemical Company with annual revenues topping $8 billion and over 10,000 employees; and CEO of Huntsman Family Holdings Company. He has also headed major philanthropic organizations including the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, the Utah Opera, Envision Utah, and The Family Now Campaign.
His stand on fiscal matters, taxation, and business is strongly conservative. He is more mixed on his social positions, being strongly conservative on abortion, and gun rights, but he has liberal positions on climate change, same sex domestic unions, the Department of Education, and the Obama Stimulus. He signed Utah up in the Western Climate Action Initiative, basically a western states cap and trade arrangement. He has shunned the Tea Party conservatives but has broad appeal to old school Republicans.
Sarah Palin The candidate for vice-president on the 2008 McCain ticket has a strong appeal to deeply conservative Republicans, the religious right, Libertarians, and the Tea Party movement. The fact that she shared the ticket with McCain has given her some standing with moderate and old-line Republicans.
Upon becoming Governor of Alaska, Palin embarked on two gutsy missions: To clean out corruption in Alaska politics and to cut spending; she did this with gusto rooting out criminal activity and cronyism not just from the state government, but even within her own party. She pared back government programs, size, and waste starting with getting rid of the perks of the office of the governor.
Besides being governor, Palin served on the town council, then as mayor of Wasilla, and as a member of the Alaska Oil and Gas Commission.
Her time on the commission gave her a good practical insight into natural resource issues. Her political position is solidly conservative on both fiscal and social issues. She has experience in operating family businesses and has worked as a correspondent on Alaskan TV Stations. She has shown a great sense of fiscal responsibility and is business friendly.
Because of her run for vice-president, authoring two books, hosting an excellent documentary series on Alaska, being supportive of and responsive to the Tea Party movement, and being a frequent topic of conversation and controversy on talk shows and news commentary she is now well known. In fact, she might be too well known; she is as disliked by the left as she is liked by the right.
While I really like her positions on all the issues, she doesn’t have the level of leadership that most of the other candidates have, and certainly not the degree of financial education and experience of most of them.
Allen West The newly elected congressman won his seat on the strength of Tea Party support. Some would point to this, his only elective office, as being not enough political experience. However, one does not work as a battalion commander in a war zone without learning a lot about practical politics. He holds a master’s degree in political science from Kansas State and a master’s degree from the Military Command College in political theory, military history, and military operations. So is probably better versed in political processes and institutions than 90% of congressmen.
He served twenty-two years as a commissioned officer in the military including both Gulf Wars serving in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He earned a bronze star, Meritorious Service Medal (2 oak clusters), Army Commendation Medal (2 oak Cluster, Valor Device), Army Achievement Medal (1 oak cluster), Valorous Unit Award, Air Assault Badge, and Parachutist Bade, as well as ten service medals. After his retirement he worked as a high school history teacher, a college ROTC instructor, and a regional director for a military consultancy to the Afghan army.
West is both a fiscal and social conservative. He sees the last fifty years of liberal social programs and policies as trapping the poor in a culture of welfare and dependency. He has an overriding respect for the U.S. Constitution and is a deeply committed patriot. He has probably the clearest understanding of any person in Congress of the Muslim religion and the threat of both conquest by migration and conquest by aggression that exists from the radical elements of the faith. He has great clarity of thought and a direct and unapologetically sincere mode of speech. He is a motivator and is himself very motivated – he is able to think on his feet, does not need a teleprompter, and is unafraid of debate and discussion.
So the way I rank my favorite five candidates is:
1. Mitt Romney
2. Allen West
3. Sarah Palin
4. Mike Huckabee
5. Jon Huntsman
I could happily support a ticket that has any two of these five on it, but feel the strongest ticket would be Mitt Romney and Allen West, because they nearly perfectly complement each other with their individual strengths. Romney is excellent in economics, business, fiscal responsibility, Administration, and practical day to day politics. West is excellent in international politics, national security, the military, crisis management, and Middle East issues, a critical gap in the current administration. It is important that the ticket have truely qualified candidates, that they form a strong team, and that they appeal to voters accross the broad spectrum of Republican politics. To win the must pick up independents, Libertarians, and Democrats.
If this ticket should come about, I could see Palin as Secretary of Interior, Huntsman as Secretary of State, and my preferences for Huckabee include chairman of the FCC (this wouldn’t be possible if he still has ownership in radio and TV stations), or as a white house assistant for reducing government, combining and eliminating cabinet positions and moving functions that belong to the states back to the states, or as transitional Secretary of Education or Energy to transition the department out of existence.
The final segment, part 5, of this series of blogs, will look at those not on my list who are considered or are considering becoming candidates.