Commenters had a variety of views on which Republican presidential contender could garner the support of social conservatives and whether character matters as a criterion in selecting a nominee. Fans of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) made their case for their favorites. Others think social conservatives no longer matter. (In fact, in certain states social conservatives are highly influential and, in fact, many fiscal conservatives are also strong social conservatives.)
For example, on Santorum, the Statistquo writes:
Consistent social, national security and fiscal conservative. He’s baggage free, does not try to finesse around controversy, knows how Washington works. How does a guy whose last election ended in a landslide loss be a viable Presidential candidate? Well, he lost when Iraq was most unpopular, so were his fellow Republicans. . . . If social conservatives cannot put Santorum in the top three in Iowa, he’ll be toast. But, after the next four weeks of Mitt v. Newt, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida and Colorado just may embrace both the non-Romney, but the non-Gingrich as well.
Others thought Santorum would turn off independents. A couple of readers argued that the GOP would eventually get around to accepting Mitt Romney. NDC1963 wrote: “It won’t take much longer before people realize that he is a strong candidate. Part of the problem is media spin. On the left, because they will unleash hell after he gets the nomination. And on the right, due to overly idealistic expectations that nobody can live up to.”
DonaldJohnson is in the not-Gingrich camp:
Social issues Republicans must decide whether they will give the benefit of the doubt to Gingrich, who has betrayed conservatives over a 40-year career, or to Romney, who flipped to pro-choice as a U.S. Senate candidate and then back to his real beliefs when he decided to run for president.
If anti-abortion and gay marriage Republicans fall for Gingrich and try to make a statement, Obama will be re-elected and appoint the next four members of the U.S. Supreme Court. Roe vs. Wade and gay marriage will be safe for another 30 to 50 years and probably forever. That would be fine with me, but I really want to unseat Obama. Only Romney can beat Obama.
A Gingrich presidency would be as disastrously ego-driven, incompetent and divisive as Obama’s. And if you’re mad at Barney Frank for creating the housing boom and bust and the financial crisis, remember that Gingrich had as much to do with the housing boom and bust as Frank. Gingrich is the GOP’s Barney Frank and Bill Clinton.
I suspect that a great many GOP primary voters are having the same difficulty that Right Turn readers are: They don’t buy Gingrich as the not-Romney, but they haven’t yet agreed upon an acceptable alternative. It strikes me that readers’ negative comments about candidates’ flaws are much more plentiful and heartfelt than the positive sentiments. Maybe one or more of the candidates will redeem himself or herself in the upcoming weeks. Or perhaps there is an opening for a late arrival who will be greeted as the ultimate compromise candidate. (Where is Tim Pawlenty when you need him?) For now, the not-any-of-them vote is on the rise.