As GOP candidates drop left and right, voters are left with a handful of unappealing options to choose between
How far is too far? Many already believe former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has been having the best and worst several weeks a primary candidate could ever ask for.
On one hand, Romney won New Hampshire comfortably after a squeaker of a win in Iowa—or so he thought. As of Jan. 19, it appears Rick Santorum actually won, though the Iowa Republican Party is calling it a “split decision.”
On the other hand, Romney’s status in the eyes of many conservatives is that of the bland but electable candidate who they believe stands an appreciable chance of beating President Barack Obama rather than someone they’re genuinely excited to vote for.
For conservative voters, voting for Romney is like when you’re alone at home and you can’t cook, so you forage about like a stray animal for some scrap of ready-to-eat food. Unfortunately, all you can find in the pantry is a box of old, stale, saltine crackers. You’re none too happy about it, but you realize your choices are to eat the dreadful things or go hungry.
It’s not hard to see what issues conservative voters might have with Gov. Mitt Stalecracker. He has, as has been pointed out by fact-checking website Politifact, flip-flopped on hot button issues such as abortion and gun control. The healthcare plan he helped push through in Massachusetts has been accurately compared to President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by the law’s critics and proponents alike (not the least of which being President Obama himself). The fact that he’s from a state with a well-deserved reputation as a liberal bastion probably hasn’t done him any favors either.
Still, Romney beats most of the other Republican candidates by a long shot. Each of them had their moment in the sun before fizzling out.
Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann’s prospects looked good before the actual voting started, but “suspended” her campaign after an abysmal showing in Iowa, as was the case with Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman after New Hampshire.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has proven that he can’t be allowed to speak in public, botching debates and putting out an online ad that quickly became the most disliked video on YouTube. And as of Jan. 19, Perry has dropped out of the race as well.
Herman Cain’s folksy charm and winning sense of humor proved popular for quite some time before a rapid volley of sex scandals sent him down in flames.
Libertarian sweetheart Ron Paul, Congressman Rick Santorum and the aforementioned Speaker Gingrich remain legitimate but trailing candidates, and each of them has their share of baggage as well. Paul, for example, opposes all foreign aid, including aid sent to Israel, a sore spot for many conservative Christians. Santorum has a history of making inflammatory remarks in public and is known for going farther on some issues than your average social conservative. Gingrich’s two extramarital affairs and subsequent divorces still dog him to this day.
So there the conservative voter is, hungry for something substantial but faced with a pantry full of food that is either rotten or about to turn at any moment. And there Romney, the stale, bland box of saltines sits, smiling, as if to say, “I bet I look pretty good right about now, don’t I?”