We already know that Missouri Speaker of the House Rod Jetton supports former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for president, but in his latest column, Jetton provides his assessment of the top Republican candidates:
For the last three weeks I have written about my support of Mitt Romney for President. The first week I covered Mitt's business and family background. Then I talked about the changes and reforms he made in Massachusetts while Governor. Last week I talked about his message for strengthening our families, the military and our economy as well as some of the specific proposals he has put forward to address these concerns.
This week I want to write about the current political situation and give my opinions on the other candidates in the race. We are just 38 days away from the Iowa caucuses and 43 from the New Hampshire primary. In Missouri we are just 71 days away from being one of the 22 states voting on "Super Duper" Tuesday on February 5th. Most experts think that is the day the nominee for President will be chosen because the states voting by February 5th contain 75% of all delegates.
I meet voters everyday who say they haven't paid much attention to the presidential campaigns, but they need to realize we are just a few short days away from having our two nominees set. These last 71 days will be your only opportunity to effect who the parties will nominate for President.
There are five main contenders left in the Republican primary including Giuliani, Romney, McCain, Thompson and Huckabee. I think they are all good candidates, but here is my opinion on why I think Mitt is best.
Like most Americans I think Rudy did a great job reforming New York City, and I think he handled the 9-11 tragedy wonderfully. On many fronts he would make a great president, but I have to disagree with his support of gay rights and abortion. As a lifetime NRA member I totally disagree with his anti-gun position, although I was glad to hear he has pledged to appoint good conservative Supreme Court judges. However, in the end, he is just too liberal for a Missouri boy like me.
Way back in 2000 I liked John McCain. I guess it's the Marine in me who thinks a guy who served his country like he did deserves my support, or maybe it was his way of telling it like it is and speaking his mind. Either way I liked him, but this is 2007 and McCain is getting older. He seems too caught up with politics as usual in Washington and unwilling to be the reformer I think we need. I also didn't think the McCain Feingold campaign finance law was good nor did I appreciate him bolting from his leaders during the Supreme Court filibuster by the Democrats. Finally, his stance on immigration is a major concern, and to me he just doesn't seem like the same guy who ran in 2000.
Then there is Fred Thompson. At first I thought here is a guy who can make it happen. What our party needs is someone who not only will do the right thing, but can also explain it to the American people. I thought an actor like Fred would be great. Then he started campaigning and ruined that image. I watched him give a speech and I saw that he really can't communicate very well.
Plus as a former Washington lobbyist he wasn't very conservative and it will be hard for him to carry a reform and change message to Americans next November. On top of everything he waited too long to enter the race and once in he hasn't hit it very hard. If we are going to beat Hilary we need a candidate who can communicate and work harder than ever. Fred is showing us all he's just not that guy.
Mike Huckabee was someone early on I really liked. I read his book on losing weight and fitness and thought he was right on. It's an issue I have worked on here in Missouri. Also he was a Baptist preacher (just like my dad) who was elected in a very Democrat leaning state. I waited and watched and he campaigned and campaigned but he never seemed to get anywhere. He just doesn't seem able to build an organization, raise money or communicate a clear vision for where he wants to take America. I'll be honest I was a bit disappointed.
Then I saw him in the debates. He was great. He was funny, humble, seemed smart and showed he cared. By this time I had already endorsed Romney but Huckabee was impressive. I thought it was too bad he couldn't build a winning organization. Since the debates he has gotten more attention and with that attention I learned more about his time as Governor. I was very disappointed to learn that as Governor he supported giving welfare benefits and college scholarships to illegal aliens. I was also shocked to learn how much he raised taxes in Arkansas. I still like Huckabee and I understand Governors have to do things in their states that may be the right thing for their state but not other parts of the nation. With companies like Tyson and Wal-Mart I'm sure he didn't have much choice on the immigration issue. The bottom line is Huckabee is running a much better campaign in Iowa now, but that is still the only place he is running one. You can't win the nomination by only winning one state.
It seems to me we have two well-funded and organized campaigns with candidates (Mitt and Rudy) who have a proven track record as reformers. We also have two candidates (McCain and Thompson) who are Washington insiders and are dropping in the polls. Then we have one late bloomer (Huckabee) with no money, a small one state organization, and no real chance of competing in a multistate primary with the new condensed schedule.
So here is the problem for many voters. Only Rudy and Mitt have a real chance at winning the nomination, and some voters are not totally happy with either one. Rudy and Mitt are leading all the other candidates in fundraising support by very large margins and they are first and second in most state polls. Fred is dropping daily in the polls, and McCain has been dropping in all states for several months. Huckabee is moving up in Iowa but that's the only state and his campaign is barely raising enough money to keep him afloat there.
Next week I will finish this series by running down all the polling information from several of the early states and some of the big states on Super Duper Tuesday. I will also talk about the strategies of the top campaigns and what I feel the top issue of the general election will be.