by Charles Gordon
January 16, 2008

To: Republican Candidates for President

From: Your Friendly Republican Base (most of us, at least)

Date: Now

Re: How to Win our Support

(1) To John McCain: We like your courage and prescience on foreign policy, particularly Iraq. You’re acceptable on the social and moral issues. You repented on McCain-Kennedy (immigration bill); it’s time for a change of heart on McCain-Feingold (campaign finance non-reform). And it’s time to learn Supply Side 101 so you can advocate tax cuts with greater conviction.

(2) To Mitt Romney: You’re saying the right things, from war on terror to tax cuts to pro-family matters. You (sadly) have a “Mormon problem”, but you did a credible job addressing it in that big speech of yours. Your far bigger problem is that many people think you’re a flip-flopper because your opinions have changed. Your answer is to present your life as a series of missions accomplished — first in business, then in turning the Salt Lake City Olympics around, then doing a decent job in governing liberal Massachusetts from the right (more or less).

(3) To Rudy Giuliani: You’re fine on taxes and rock-solid against our foes abroad, but…..well, you know the rest. As your poll numbers showed for months, we cut you plenty of slack. Your turn to reciprocate…… Meet with your friend, Pat (Robertson) and make a list of things you’re prepared to support. Let’s see: Judges, retaining Reagan/Bush Mexico City policy banning federal funding of abortion groups abroad…..And about your marital past: It doesn’t help you with us, but how about talking about moral leadership in the areas where you truly displayed it in New York — keeping your promises and putting the public good ahead of the politically expedient? Don’t say we didn’t try to help you, lad.

(4) To Mike Huckabee: You, sir, exasperate us. You’re smart, articulate, eloquent, folksy, and all the rest. Shades of Reagan. You articulate a moral vision with reassuring ease. We want to like you. Yes, you spent too much in Arkansas, but so did most governors — including well-known conservatives. We believe you might be different if you get to Washington. Maybe…..But what’s with the seemingly Carteresque utterances on foreign policy? Get real, man — you actually have a chance with us if you get your head together on how to fight the bad guys abroad. But honestly — we’re not holding our breath. You’ve got until February to get this right.

(5) To Fred Thompson: So you finally arose from your slumber in that last debate. You’re great on the issues. But you can’t win if you’re asleep. It’s very very very late in the game, so no more snoozing.

All of you are immensely preferrable to the Hillary and Obama Show. And barring the unforeseen, we’re probably going to select one of you……But you’re certainly not making it easy for us.