The GOP has assembled a “very strong field” of presidential contenders, and attempts to deride it as weak come from Democrats hoping to give cover to President Barack Obama’s own shortcomings, American Crossroads President Steven Law tells Newsmax.TV.
The former President George W. Bush administration official ticked off the attributes of the current candidates, noting the field is made up of three governors, a former speaker of the House, a former senator, a nationally known congresswoman and a former CEO of a restaurant chain.
“I think if you look at all the candidates, it is a remarkably very strong field,” he said. “The left and Democrats have been saying that the field is very weak because what they don’t want to admit is that President Obama’s own substantial weakness in the polls is drawing a huge number of very talented people into the debate. … So it’s a very strong field overall, each one of them with their own strengths as well. But I think we’re pretty pleased with the selection voters will have.”
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American Crossroads was founded with the help of Bush guru Karl Rove and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie in 2010. The two remain as informal advisers to the group that supports “individual liberty, limited government, free enterprise and strong national security.” Before serving as its president, Law was general counsel of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor under Bush and was the executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee for both the 1998 and 2000 election cycles.
In the exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Law also looked at the strengths and weaknesses of the Republican candidates’ performances at the recent debate in New Hampshire.
He described former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as a very successful executive in and out of government with a naturally comfortable style. “He’s got some issues to overcome in order to make sure he connects with voters and assures them he’s got the ideological strength that voters are looking for,” Law said. “I think he clearly comes in as the solid front-runner. He did a very good job Monday night.”
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., “wowed everybody,” he said, adding that she is very smart with a tremendous personal story. “She has less experience than some of the others. She would need to catch up to put together the kind of team and organization that a couple of the other candidates have.”
Law said businessman Herman Cain was able to boil down very complex issues into common-sense tones, and his greatest strength of not having government experience is also a liability. “He had a couple of stumbles in there in a couple of places, but certainly nothing of big concern.”
Law said that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is obviously one of the party’s most brilliant idea men who brought facts, thought and vision to the debate. “The challenge obviously … to run for president is a very, very sustained exercise in discipline and organization. Some folks say that is not his strong suit. We’ll see.”
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty took some criticism for not going after Romney during the debate on his Massachusetts heathcare measure, but Law said “I think what he decided to do with the first debate was just sell himself rather than tear someone else down.”
Law said that Pennsylvania’s Rick Santorum was a great senator who appeals to the party’s right flank. “I think it a little bit harder for him because there are a few others who might fill that niche – particularly Michele Bachmann, I think. So he’s got maybe tougher road to get into that top tier.”
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, comes into the field with very strong core of supporters, Law said. “I don’t know that he expands much beyond that, which might make it difficult for him to get into that top tier. But on the other hand he probably has more totally dedicated grass roots supporters than anybody else in the room that night.”
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