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The Nominee Matters, Not the Field

The liberal writer Gene Lyons echoes the conventional wisdom when he says, “What’’s alarming about the GOP contest isn’’t the indecisiveness or poor reasoning processes of Iowa voters. It’’s the dismal quality of the choices they’’re offered. Is this the best that one of America’’s two major political parties can do?”

I’ve argued before that what will matter in this race isn’t the quality of the field (which I concede is comprised of unusually weak candidates) but the quality of the nominee who emerges. This field will be long forgotten not only years from now, but by the GOP convention in the summer.

To help illustrate the point: last night C-SPAN broadcast a 2000 Iowa debate which featured GOP presidential candidates Alan Keyes, Gary Bauer, Steve Forbes, and Orrin Hatch. This hardly constituted a political Murderer’s Row. It didn’t matter. George W. Bush emerged as the nominee and defeated Al Gore for the presidency.

The Republican Party simply has to hope that its best candidate wins the nomination and that he is formidable. My guess is both things will happen.

 


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