ACU Chairman: Candidates Will Never Be Perfect

Wednesday, 05 Oct 2011 09:43 AM

By Ronald Kessler

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The ups and downs of Republican presidential candidates reflect the fact that no one with a public record is going to look perfect, Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union (ACU), tells Newsmax.

A candidate like Herman Cain is moving up in part because he is an outsider and — unlike Mitt Romney or Gov. Rick Perry — has never held public office. Cain therefore has no record of government service to pick apart, Cardenas says.

“For candidates who have held elected office before, it is not so easy,” Cardenas says. “Some of them have had to deal with the reality of a particular legislative body or the need for compromise, and their decisions may not have fully reflected their own personal beliefs,” Cardenas says.

In addition, “Never in the history of American politics have folks been scrutinized as much as we are doing today,” Cardenas says.

“The starvation for content in the media is such that flaws are going to be heightened and certainly uncovered, and that makes it very difficult, especially with a prolonged primary season. Therefore, candidates henceforth will appear far less perfect than we’ve determined them to be in the past,” he adds.

As a result, Cardenas says, “No candidate with a public record is going to look like a perfect candidate. So we have a favorite ice cream of the month, with candidates rising and then falling.”

A mentor of Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Cardenas is a businessman and lawyer who was elected chairman of the one-million-member American Conservative Union last February. Through its foundation, the ACU runs the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). The ACU also publishes an annual “Rating of Congress,” the gold standard for assessing members’ ideology.

In part because the Republican field is constantly changing, “Most Republican leaders have held back their insights on the candidates because no one has been sure that our field is truly complete,” Cardenas says.

However, he adds, “Practically speaking, it’s impossible to be a viable candidate unless you jump into this race in the next week or two,” Cardenas says. “So I don’t see anyone else jumping in besides those who are presently running.”

Cardenas notes that a longer primary season before the 2012 election means successful candidates will require more resources than in the past.

“My number one objective is to see that President Obama is defeated and that a conservative majority takes over the U.S. Senate,” Cardenas says. “The longer this primary process goes, the more we deplete our resources and the more difficult it is to be able to compete against the president. His party is going to assemble a war chest of $1 billion and will not have to spend it until much later in the campaign season.”

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows Perry is losing support by Republicans and GOP-leaning independents. Perry’s share of the Republican primary vote has fallen to 16 percent from 29 percent last month. He is now tied with Cain and 9 points behind Romney, who is supported as the GOP nominee by 25 percent of Republicans.

In the end, Cardenas says, “The candidate who can muster the best effort both in terms of individual excellence and ability to have sustainable strong campaign resources is the candidate who is most deserving and will be the strongest competitor against President Obama.”

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. He is a New York Times best-selling author of books on the Secret Service, FBI, and CIA. His latest, "The Secrets of the FBI," has just been published. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via email. Go Here Now.








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