Do the Republicans have a centrist presidential candidate?
With the simple answer out of the way, let’s examine the tougher question. Who is the most centrist candidate in the 2012 Republican field?
If it were not for his phenomenal-flip-flops, Mitt Romney maybe the most centrist candidate of the likely group. Just being a Republican in Massachusetts is enough to consider him a centrist. But you would not know much of his accomplishments in Massachusetts because Romney has swept under the rug in his transparent attempt to become a Conservative.
It is clear, especially after the 2008 campaign, that the Republican nomination cannot be won without the powerful right-wing of the party. That right-wing gained significant power with the ascension of the Tea Party.
So Mitt Romney is left to abandon his most prolific accomplishment in Massachusetts, universal health care. Even though the health care system in Massachusetts is considered one of the best in the United States and even though Romney’s health care plan was not more liberal than Republicans Richard Nixon’s nor Bob Dole’s health care proposal, in todays Republican politics any type of universal health care is considered Socialism.
The old Mitt Romney would be an excellent centrist presidential canididate, the new Mitt Romney is a man with no identiy and has transformed into a text-book, say anything to get elected, politician.
Another centrist possibility would be former Minnesota Governor, Tim Pawlenty. As governor he was considered a conservative, but like Romeny, he was a conservative in a very liberal state. He is a fiscal conservative and has always had a firm belief in the free-market system, yet he was for regulation of the banks, a modified stimulus bill and health care reform. He has stayed away from most social issues that make many Republicans too conservative for the centrist taste.
But that was then and this is the 2012 Republican presidential election. Pawlenty is already flip-flopping with cap and trade. “I’ve said, ‘Look, I’ve made a mistake,'” explained Pawlenty of his change of mind. “I think cap-and-trade would be a ham-fisted, unhelpful, damaging thing to the economy. … It’s misguided. I made the mistake. I admit it. I’m not trying to be cute about it. I just come out and tell you it was a mistake.”
It is possible that Pawlenty has made a honest change of mind after learning new facts? Yes. But the fact is Tim Pawlenty has as been an environmentally conscious politician. This is a good thing as long as it’s not too liberal…unless you are a conservative and that means government should keep their nose out businesses and consumers who pollute and God will take care of it.
The jury is still out on Pawlenty, but it is safe to bet that he will capitualte to the Tea Party wing of the Republican party and sell out his beliefs.
The cupboard is bare after Pawlenty, so it will take a bit of creativity to find a centrist candidate. Could it possibly be a Libertarian like Ron Paul? If it is a mathematical center, well then yes. Ron Paul might be the most centrsit candidate.
Yes he would want to eliminate nearly every social program that the Democrats fight for, but he would balance that with eliminated our “empire” by getting rid of most bases around the world and not having America be the “police” of the world. In addition, he is not a social conservative. In fact, he is such a strict constituionalist that he believes that all drugs should be legal.
In this day there are no centrist in the Republican party who can run for as a centrist and win and therefore there aren’t any centrist candidates. But Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and by pure mathematics even Ron Paul are currently the closest thing there is to having a centrist candidate in the Republican field.