In every election season a different issue or leadership quality resonates with the voters. After a long, drawn out campaign cycle that seemed to be overly “celebritized,” for lack of a better moniker, nothing resonates more than authenticity and ability to connect with voters. In this cycle electing a candidate with a record of authenticity will resonate, while electing another fine man whose genuineness is widely, albeit unfairly, questioned or who comes across as too polished, and therefore too out of touch, will not go over well with the electorate.
On the GOP side, while none of the may embody the ideal conservative position, Gov. Huckabee and Sen. McCain have long track records of supporting over 80% of conservative causes and their promises to adhere to the conservative base ring true, as even their opponents attest to their strong record of keeping promises. No presidential candidate has ever agreed with the conservative position on all issues, yet many have advanced the conservative cause by effectively using their true leadership skills and their ability to connect with voters.
Say what you want about Sen. McCain. When he makes a promise he keeps it. He’s also been a staunch conservative on all issues except for those that were most publicized, which although they received much attention, were actually few and far between. He is also widely trusted by the public and deservedly so. For this reason there are few candidates who can bring independents back to reality on the importance of the War on Terror and few people who can garner the support, and therefore the votes, of the public on as wide a level as Sen. McCain.
Gov. Huckabee is also such a candidate. Whether you like him or not, he is extremely trustworthy and the public knows this. Many of his ideas on education as well as his general down to earth ability to connect with voters will be crucial assets in a general election. He has agreed to implement conservative fiscal policies and supports tax relief. Those who suggest that he may break with these policies fail to realize that doing so would be so large a death nail on his support from the base that the possibility of him doing so while in office would be nonexistent. There are some mistakes that all politicians learn from and never forget and the effects of candidate campaigning on a fiscally conservative policy and then deviating from it in any way is one such colossal mistake that will not be repeated.
When Gov. Huckabee or Sen. McCain say something they can be believed and the public knows this. Additionally, their personalities resonate with the voters. The first of these qualities also applies to Sen. Thompson but his ability to rally the electorate seems questionable. Other candidates who may be trustworthy but who cannot project this image with the voters won’t be able to convince voters of it or have any effect in terms of getting independents and those sitting on the fence to listen to them and whether we like it or not, election battles are fought on these very abilities.
And both the war hero and the long serving governor both have a long history of vocal support for 80% of conservative causes. In other words, both start out just as well as some of our best conservative presidents. Both can be believed to keep their promises to adhere to conservative social, fiscal and security policies because both do keep their words and in terms of an election match up, it’s hard to picture a candidate who can get swing voters to listen to the side of reason better than either of these two. In fact, it’s doubtful that others can, making nominating one of them essential to the election effort.