Mitt Romney is ahead in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union, tells Newsmax.
While pundits and pollsters focus on the national picture, the process for selecting the nominee actually depends on the states that hold the first primaries, Cardenas points out.
“What you really need to look at are the five early states,” Cardenas says. “So you're talking about Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, and Florida.
"What happens in those five states, with rare exceptions, decides the race. My sense is that whoever wins two or three of those early states is going to be the nominee.”
In February, Cardenas replaced Dave Keene as chairman of the ACU, which has one million members and runs the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). The ACU also publishes an annual “Rating of Congress,” the gold standard for assessing the ideology of members of Congress, and is now compiling ratings of state legislators as well.
When he was 12, Cardenas and his family fled Fidel Castro’s Cuba with only the clothes on their back. He became a prominent lawyer in Miami and a successful investor.
He essentially rebuilt the Republican Party in Florida, becoming its chairman and helping Jeb Bush win election as governor. He was a mentor to Sen. Marco Rubio, who was a young lawyer in Cardenas’ Miami law firm.
With Mike Huckabee out of the race, the Iowa caucuses are a “mad scramble,” Cardenas says. “I’m not sure that social conservatives who have been dominating those caucuses lately have picked their horse yet, so Iowa is wide open. Anyone who decides to skip Iowa, in my opinion, is making a big mistake.”
In New Hampshire, “Romney seems to be doing best,” Cardenas says. “Based on the current field, Romney seems to have a lead there.”
Nevada “seems to be a state that is fairly safe for Mitt,” Cardenas says.
“Florida will probably be the real decider,” Cardenas observes. “Mitt has the early lead in Florida, but the field has yet to really take shape formally.
"In terms of resources and early numbers, Romney seems to be doing well in three of the five states. It’s very difficult not to call him the early favorite, not just because of the fundraising capabilities or the fact that he has been around the block or the fact that he’s got a good national organization, but how he’s faring in three of those five states,” he says.
While President Obama enjoys respectable approval ratings, “I do not believe that he has deep support or firm support,” Cardenas adds.
“The ultimate task for any incumbent presidential candidate is to show we are better off than when he took office. And clearly the nation is not better off than when Obama took office. As a matter of fact, he’s left us in far worse shape than when he took office.”
Cardenas believes the Republican contest will be decided by March of next year.
“Once our nominee is decided, there’s a strong likelihood that Obama’s numbers will significantly change,” Cardenas predicts.
The way to beat Obama is to focus on his policies and avoid any personal attacks.
“The political decisions he’s made, whether favoritism toward labor unions or the takeover of American businesses, are fair game,” Cardenas says. “But taking him on personally would be counterproductive to a successful campaign.”
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. He is a New York Times best-selling author of books on the Secret Service, CIA, and FBI. His latest, "The Secrets of the FBI," is to be released in August. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via email. Go Here Now.
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