To be perfectly honest, we don't have a good candidate for President on the Republican side for 2012. Our bench will be better developed in 2016 and beyond (with the rise of folks like Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Allen West, etc.), but if Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are the best we have this year... we're screwed. I wish we could put them all into a blender and take the best of them and throw it all into one candidate--then we'd be nigh on invincible. Let me list below the things I like about each guy, and individual posts will follow on my top 2-3 concerns with each candidate.
Newt Gingrich has the smarts and the connections, the experience and know-how (and a track record of actually cutting the deficit, balancing the budget and reducing spending).
Ron Paul has brought focus to economic, fiscal and Federal Reserve issues like no one else in recent history, and he makes a compelling case for focusing on our borders first, and leaving nationbuilding to someone else.
Mitt Romney looks the part--if Hollywood were holding casting calls for the role of President in a movie, Mitt Romney would be your guy, and frankly, he generally has the most articulate surrogate speakers.
Rick Santorum is a great example of faith and family man, the kind that made this nation strong and continue to strengthen the moral fibre of this country.
Today, at the Denver County GOP First Thursday Breakfast, I listened to Representatives from each campaign as they spoke. I got to ask them a question... for each of the candidates many flaws (the examples I used were Gingrich: Global Warming commercial fiasco; Paul: earmarks; Romney: RomneyCare; Santorum: debt ceiling increase x5 and significant earmarks), how can we as conservatives trust that they will actually reduce the size and scope of government and limit spending based on their records (not platitudes, platforms, talking points or rhetoric--but actual facts from their records).
Actually, the answer from the representative of the Paul campaign disappointed me the most (we'll talk about this in his post later). But all representatives gave facts to back why they think their candidate would actually cut spending and government. Romney's surrogate spoke of his efforts to mitigate bad things into less bad (not compelling to me, but a fair point); Santorum's surrogate spoke of his opposition to the bailouts and Paul's representative pointed out that Ron Paul has more "no" votes on record than any other Congressman (just call him "Dr. No") -- Gingrich's representative was not there at the time. So I do applaud each of them for listening to the specifics of my question and actually giving me a straight, simple answer. I didn't necessarily agree with all of them, but they do get points for actually answering my question, which never happens at a political event.