Al Cardenas: GOP 'Hand-to-Hand Warfare' Benefits Obama

Thursday, 09 Feb 2012 06:15 PM

By Paul Scicchitano and John Bachman

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Al Cardenas, chairman of the influential American Conservative Union, tells Newsmax.TV that President Barack Obama has been the ultimate beneficiary of the divisive “hand-to-hand warfare” being waged by GOP hopefuls Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.

“The meaner we’ve gotten with each other, that’s driven our negatives up and it’s given the president some advantage,” he declared in an exclusive interview at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington on Thursday.

“Now is that insurmountable? Absolutely not. But the sooner we finish with this contest the better off we are in terms of the number of months we need to deal with the general election,” Cardenas acknowledged.

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A former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, Cardenas also said that Rick Santorum’s triple play in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri on Tuesday has catapulted him into a three-way race for the GOP presidential nomination with Gingrich and Romney.

“Basically, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have been in a six-week, hand-to-hand warfare. Both of their negatives have gone up. Santorum’s been by the side, and not yet impacted by this,” according to Cardenas. “Now that he is catapulted to a status equal to the rest, we’ll see what the scrutiny does.”

Unlike some prominent conservatives like Sarah Palin, who view a protracted nomination battle as a positive, Cardenas believes that the nominee will need as much time as possible to prepare for Obama’s much anticipated billion-dollar re-election war chest.

He said that next month’s Super Tuesday contests may go a long way to settling the question as to how long the nomination fight will last when voters in 10 states take to the polls.

“If March 6 brings mixed results, that means this thing will drive on for a while,” he said. “I’ll live with it.”

But Cardenas for one would like to see a cleaner fight. “Frankly, I’d like them to go back to a feisty race but about the issues — not about personalities,” he explained.

Cardenas attributes the record crowds at this year’s CPAC event to a growth in the number of Americans who have identified themselves as conservatives over the past 20 years. Some 40 percent of Americans identify themselves as conservatives compared with only 20 percent who identify themselves as liberals, he said.

“You see tea partyers, new activists and others who identify themselves not by political party but by philosophy,” according to Cardenas, who pointed to the growing Newsmax audience as an example of American interest in conservative issues.

“I love how we’ve grown. This will be the biggest best we’ve ever had. The movement is alive and it’s that passionate turnout that will determine the winner in November,” he predicts, adding that the high turnout is also due to the presidential race.

“It’s the first truly competitive presidential race we’ve had in two decades,” said Cardenas. “So that’s part of the enthusiasm that we have here.”

He predicts that the various factions of the GOP will ultimately rally behind the eventual nominee to defeat Obama in the general election.

“There’s a big glue here in terms of the electorate. That is — they want to beat the president in the worst way and it’s the first time in a long time they’re looking not only, who shares my values, but who can best beat the president,” he said. “I think they’re down to that point where they say, ‘you know what, all of these candidates are within my sandbox of values and I could have any one of them.’”




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