Republican candidates fail to wow voters

Thu, Dec 1, 2011, 00:00

THE RACE for Republican presidential nominee will begin officially with the Iowa caucuses 33 days from now. In the meantime, voters continue to mull over which candidate they dislike the least.

The former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, momentarily fills the role of the much sought after “un-Mitt” or “not Romney” candidate, but the longevity of Mr Gingrich’s appeal is in doubt.

Commentators are disputing which candidate will pick up support hitherto devoted to Herman Cain, the African-American former pizza executive who starred as “not Romney” before Mr Gingrich. Mr Cain has not yet withdrawn from the race. He and Ginger White, the woman who announced on Monday night that she carried on a 13-year affair with him, relay their respective versions of events via the media.

In a letter to fundraisers on Tuesday night, Mr Cain called Ms White “a troubled Atlanta businesswoman” who promulgated “a fabricated, unsubstantiated story”.

One troubled woman we might believe; even two. But five? (Four women earlier accused Mr Cain of sexual harassment.)

While Mr Cain attempted to gauge how much money and support he has left, Ms White went back on television yesterday, telling ABC that her relationship with Mr Cain was “very casual . . . not a consistent love affair . . . on and off”.

One of Mr Cain’s rival candidates, the former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, called on him to withdraw, saying that “every time another accusation comes up, it diminishes our ability to stay focused on the issues that really matter for the American people”.

Hoping for a comeback in the polls, Representative Michele Bachmann predicted that, “As people have been shopping around for candidates they’re going to come back home to see I’ve been the consistent constitutional conservative who’s going to fight.”

Texas governor Rick Perry, another erstwhile frontrunner, made his umpteenth gaffe on Tuesday night, telling an audience in New Hampshire that he hoped everyone over 21 would vote for him next November 12th.

The legal voting age in the US is 18, and the presidential election will take place on November 6th. Mr Perry brought the rabidly anti-immigrant sheriff Joe Arpaio from Arizona to New Hampshire in the hope that Mr Arpaio’s endorsement would shore up his own anti-immigrant credentials.

Rivalry is most intense between Mr Gingrich and Mr Romney, who are virtually tied for first place.

Mr Perry lashed out at both on Fox News yesterday, calling the former governor of Massachusetts and the former speaker “substantial insiders of Wall Street and Washington DC”.

In a blow to Mr Romney, the New Hampshire Union Leaderthis week gave its endorsement to Mr Gingrich.

The same newspaper yesterday said Mr Perry does not belong on the presidential stage.