Slow as a Tortoise - the GOP primary race.
The wise Elephant - GOP symbol.
Are the Republican presidential candidates being treated with kids gloves?
Why is there so much frustration about the way the Republican presidential candidate primary race is progressing? At the time of writing, we’ve just completed the “Super Tuesday” primaries (on March 6), with the National Convention still several months away. And so it is rather surprising that many party veterans and a large section of the media believe that the race has gone on too long and a quick result is in the party’s best interest. But the sympathy that the candidates have been receiving for “enduring” a grueling, bruising battle in the primaries so far makes one wonder why the candidates are being treated with kids’ gloves.
Right after the Florida primary in mid February, it was reported that Newt Gingrich was exhausted. A recent article in the Time magazine talked about “exhausted contestants staggering glassy-eyed towards Super Tuesday.” The article sympathized with Romney for displaying tremendous energy in keeping up with this “Republican Marathon” and went on to compare the race to the Dance Marathon in the movie “They shoot horses, don’t they?” A recent article in the Dallas Morning News was headlined “ Drip, drip, drip – Super Tuesday prolongs GOP agony.” And Time magazine in a subsequent issue, labels the ongoing travails as “GOP: Grand Old Problems.”
Now I may be accused of being short on memory (unlike the Elephant, the party’s symbol, who is credited with possessing a very long memory!), but I do not recall similar sympathy being expressed four years ago as Hilary Clinton and Barrack Obama battled it out in a bruising Democratic primary that stretched several months until July. In fact, the Republican Party then liked the idea of a long contest and changes were made to deliberately prolong the primaries, so that the candidates would have ample opportunities to prove their competency to win the party’s nomination, the way Obama eventually did for the Democrats. All candidates and their supporters knew the schedule for the primaries, and thus no one should have expected an outcome so early in the race. So why have the four republican candidates been garnering so much sympathy as they continue to slog out this race? After all, every profession needs certain skills or attributes and politicians, and more particularly those vying for the presidency, need no sympathy if they do not have the energy or the stamina to last the campaign for the most coveted position any politician can aspire for.
It is interesting that several Republicans continue to despair at the direction this race is heading and even former First Lady Barbara Bush has called this campaign “the worst ever.” Such comments probably provide a clue as to what the real problem with this primary is - that the candidates so far have not been focusing on the issues that would help the party’s eventual nominee to defeat Barrack Obama this November. They would love to see the focus during the campaign to be on issues that matter most to the voters – jobs and economy.
But even though there are many that are talk about John McCain having sealed the nomination at this stage four years ago, the fact is that’s not going to happen this time around. Until then, the four candidates will continue to plod along – a bit perhaps like the party’s emblem, the Elephant. But the Elephant symbolizes wisdom along with a slow ascent to success. Hopefully the eventual winner succeeds in imbibing a large dose of both these qualities!