It will take more than a generic Republican candidate to defeat President Barack Obama next year. Republicans will need a leader that can inspire millions to get involved and take action. Enthusiasm, optimism, and passion are called for to make the movement work.
Three years ago, Barack Obama was elected president of the United States. With barely a year left in his first and perhaps last term, President Barack Obama seems to be teetering on irrelevance or worse. With approval ratings now hovering near 40 percent, we have less hope as a nation and are ready to change leaders.
"U.S. registered voters, by 46 percent to 38 percent, continue to say they are more likely to vote for the Republican presidential candidate than for Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election," according to a Gallup poll released Oct. 14 (876 registered voters, 95 percent confidence level, margin of error 4 points).
Why are we ready for a change? Because Obama's performance has been dismal. Just a few of the highlights:
Total U.S. government debt was $10.6 trillion on Jan. 20, 2009, the day Obama was inaugurated. By this week, the U.S. debt had increased $4.4 trillion to $15.0 trillion in total.
When Obama took office, the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent; by the beginning of last month, it was 9.1 percent. This represents 14 million people unemployed. Another 9.3 million are employed part time who would like to be employed full time, and there are an additional million people who have given up looking for a job.
Total unemployed, underemployed, and discouraged workers equals 25 million Americans.
There were almost 46 million people receiving food stamps at the end of October, up from 32 million when Obama took office.
According to a U.S. Census Bureau release on Sept. 13: "The nation's official poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1 percent, up from 14.3 percent in 2009 . . . There were 46.2 million people in poverty in 2010 . . . the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published."
Not a performance to be proud of. Instead of defending his record, which would be pretty hard, the Obama campaign is going on the offensive, trying to get their troops fired up.
Last week in Tampa, Fla., first lady Michelle Obama called the faithful to action, to do more than vote, to get involved and literally make things happen.
"This is going to require each of you to grab somebody by the shoulders and make them understand what's at stake; how their self-interest is directly tied . . . It's up to each of you to work like you've never worked before," she said.
While a generic candidate might beat Obama if the election were held today, we know that, over the next year, Obama will mobilize and excite millions of leftist, liberal Americans. He has begun to fan the flames already.
In contrast, while Campaign Obama is building its ground game, the Republican field is anything but set.
The field of Republican candidates includes former governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney, former CEO of Godfather's Pizza Herman Cain, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (my father), Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, former congressman and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.
So far in their various campaigns for the Republican nomination, there have been many ups and downs: Gingrich fell rapidly after announcing but has picked up some steam; Bachmann surged, and then fell; Perry surged before he even announced and then rapidly spiraled to earth after announcing; Romney has moved up and down, but has not been able to make huge gains; Cain is surging but faces troubling questions from years ago; and pundits are already talking about the next candidate to surge.
So far, there have been nine debates, and there are eight more scheduled before the end of the year. These debates give voters the opportunity to see the candidates in action. In addition, campaigns are staffing up offices in the early states.
For the Republicans, the challenge is to offer American voters a flesh-and-blood candidate, not a generic one. As the field of Republican candidates narrows, some may be tempted to focus on electability rather than excitability. This is a temptation that Republicans should avoid.
To defeat Obama, the Republican nominee will need to inspire and fire up voters to get involved and make sure that, a year from now, we have a new president-elect and a reason for hope, since there will be change.
Posts by Jackie Gingrich Cushman
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