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Posted by on Jan 22, 2007 in Politics | 29 comments

Brownback enters presidential race

It’s one after another now, this time on the Republican side. Kansas Senator (and arch-conservative stalwart) Sam Brownback formed one those required exploratory committees six weeks ago, and on Saturday, in Topeka, he announced that he is indeed running for president.

With McCain and Giuliani running from the center, or at least the Republican conception of the center, that is, from the left of the Republican Party, Brownback will compete with Romney for the conservative vote, that is, to be the anti-McCain and anti-Giuliani. Although he doesn’t quite see it that way: “My positions are where the heart of the Republican Party is.” Yikes. And yet he’s serious. And to some extent he may be right. So extreme is today’s Republican Party.

Wherever the GOP’s “heart” is, Brownback will run as the truest of true social conservatives: “I am a conservative and I’m proud to be a conservative.” Sure, if conservative is defined as extremism on abortion, stem-cell research, and other wedge issues. That is, if it’s defined by the religious right.

In other words, Brownback intends to be the GOP’s theocratic candidate. And, given the theocratic base of the Republican Party, and given lingering concerns over Romney’s Mormonism and past moderation on the issues that matter most to the base, he may well succeed in securing the conservative vote. And with the conservative vote, and with the base longing for an arch-conservative after two terms of Bush’s hypocrisy, he could very well challenge the more moderate frontrunners — McCain, Giuliani, even the more pragmatic Gingrich — for the nomination.

And could he win the nomination? It’s hard to imagine, what with McCain and Giuliani running, two celebrities with national appeal. But Giuliani is far too liberal for his own party and doesn’t stand a chance in the primaries. And McCain — well, what if things continue to go badly in Iraq? What if, as is likely, the surge doesn’t work? McCain will blame the war’s architects for not doing enough early enough, but he will still be the most prominent hawk in the race. What if America, worn out by a losing war, simply doesn’t want an arch-hawk in the White House? And what if no compromise candidate emerges to unify the GOP? What if the Republicans simply can’t get their act together before ’08?

Then it may very well be Brownback who leads them into the next presidential election.

Which would no doubt make the flat-taxers and flat-earthers really, really happy.

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Copyright 2007 The Moderate Voice
  • Aren’t you underestimating Romney a bit? As I see it, quite some conservatives seem to be quite positive about him…

    Also: do you think that it’s still the religious right that will dominate the Republican party?

  • Jim S

    Michael,

    Yes, they still dominate the core of the party enough to in effect have a veto on candidates. Also, Romney’s past positions will be used against him, probably to great effect.

  • CStanley

    My guess (and my hope) is that Brownback will act as a spoiler within the party. He’ll draw the more fanatical religious right voters and single issue voters, which changes the balance between Romney and Guilliani. I would say that favors Guilliani, and helps to nullify the conventional wisdom that he can’t get the nomination because of his stance on social issues.

    The wild card there though is whether Romney’s experience with health insurance legislation in MA might help him. That largely depends on how healthcare reform plays out over the next two years.

    Bottom line though is that I still see the GOP race as being between Guilliani and Romney, and I’m OK with that even though I don’t agree with either of them on all issues.

  • Any ideas who would be also starring on the ticket for Brownback Mountain?
    😀
    (sry, couldnt resist)

  • Lynx

    CStanley, you don’t see McCain being one of the big players? I find it hard to believe that Guilliani would have a greater chance than McCain of getting the Republican vote. Granted, I like Guilliani much more than McCain, but I’m not a republican. Guilliani seems to be more a centrist democrat than a centrist republican, especially as left-center-right has somehow become based almost exclusively on social issues these days.

  • superdestroyer

    Who ever the Republicans nominate, it just will not matter. The Republican candidate has as much chance of winning as Bob Dole had in 1996. The Republicans pissed away any chance they had when they decided that pork barrel spending was better than being fiscal conservatives. There is not a single issue that the Republicans can run on that they have the least bit of credibility.

    The only question is whether the Democrat elected in 2008 has 60 Democrats in the Senate or does he have to wait until then 2010 election to get a enough Democratic senators to close off debate.

  • CStanley

    Lynx,
    No, I don’t think McCain has a chance at all. Have you seen the GOP straw poll?

    Gingrich actually fills in the top three (the only three who even rated positive on acceptability). I don’t think Gingrich can overcome his past, so I’m counting him out too. Of course the dirty laundry issues could hurt Guiliani too, but I think his positives might outweigh those concerns.

  • MSS

    What I find really striking about the field of candidates (announced or anticipated) is how diverse the Republicans are ideologically, in contrast to the Democrats.

    Imagine for a moment that the USA had a multiparty system like most of the world’s democracies. Only one Democrat among those running or expected to run is someone whose positions would place him in a party other than one of the mainstream parties of the center/center-right. That would be Kucinich, who is essentially a Green.

    But in the GOP, you have Tancredo (who should be in the misnamed Constitutionalist Party), Paul (a Libertarian), and now Brownback (who would be at home in a Christian Heritage party).

    How did this happen?

  • jim b

    If Brownback emerges as the “R” in this fight, I think they lose big a la Bob Dole. The country told the right wing of the republican party it was time to go. Santorum, Ney, Delay, Allen etc. This was the hard right of the party on numerous social issues, and all had serious foot in mouth disease. Or in Abramoffs pocket disease, pick your poison. Brownback just doesn’t carry the tone that I think Americans want these days. He has flip-flopped on the war in less than 3 months, that will comback to haunt him. Dems will point it out, and rightly so.
    If the Dems show they can get some things done without sounding like a bunch of jerks doing it, they win in a landslide in the next election. As someone about said, if Iraq continues on the same path it did today (bombs, US Soldiers dying) there is no way McCain can overcome that. Not with the way he has supported the Bush administration lately.

  • MSS

    By the way, how can you still say McCain is running from the left of the GOP? In 2000, he surely did. But he has positioned himself increasingly to the right. And, on many issues (e.g. abortion) he was there all along.

  • Kevin H

    MvdG

    do you think that it’s still the religious right that will dominate the Republican party?

    Yes, I think it will, because the entier political machine of the Republican party has been geared towards the religious right for awhile now. Most of their outreach programs are tied to churches, and many of their big donors are religiously motivated. I don’t think the GOP could overcome the institutional inertia and retool the party’s inner workings in time for the primaries.

    MSS, they say that when a ship starts sinking, people scatter in all directions (I actually have no idea WHO says that, but it seems to fit). I think republicans realise that the 1994 dream of a permient moral majority didn’t work out as planned, and are in search of a new national identity. Wouldn’t it be great if that search actually caused the party to split and form 2 or more parties? I’m not holding my breath tho.

  • Wherever the GOP’s “heartâ€? is, Brownback will run as the truest of true social conservatives: “I am a conservative and I’m proud to be a conservative.â€? Sure, if conservative is defined as extremism on abortion, stem-cell research, and other wedge issues. That is, if it’s defined by the religious right.

    OK, so I’ve got somewhat of a beef to pick with the stem-cell research comment in this post and many previous posts.

    Personally, I support stem cell research. I don’t think science should be held back by a bunch of religious ideologues.

    But having said that, I think the stem research debate as been distorted by some of its proponents. Indeed, there are Americans who oppose embryonic stem cell research on religious grounds, but that fails to tell the entire side of the story. The bill that president Bush vetoed last summer as for federally- funded embryonic stem cell research. It had nothing to do with banning privately funded embryonic stem cell research. So it’s disingenuous for us to continue to argue about stem cell research as if it were a debate between those who support it and those who want to ban it. Like most political issues, it’s not that simple.

    I think it is unfair to relegate anyone who opposes embryonic stem cell research to the “extremist” wing of the Republican Party. Many libertarians and conservatives oppose federally-funded embryonic stem cell research not because they object to this research in general, but because they don’t believe this research should be paid for the federal taxpayer dollars and/or they don’t believe federally-funded embryonic stem cell research is constitutional.

    Some of you might disagree with this argument every bit as much as you do with the argument that opposes embryonic stem cell research for religious reasons. That is certainly your right. I just think we ought not to pretend that all opponents to embryonic stem cell research are right-wing extremists.

    Many people regard embryonic stem cell research the same way they regard abortion. They’re pro-choice in that they feel it should be legal and restrictions on it should be kept to a bare minimum, yet they also feel that government should not be funding it.

    As I said before, I recognize that there are Americans who oppose embryonic stem cell research on religious grounds and would prefer to ban it outright (Brownback might very well be among them). However, it would be a mistake to believe that this is position of all opponents of embryonic stem cell research.

  • One possibility is that Brownback and Romney will split the conservative vote.

    TNR’s The Plank has as post up on a Roll Call piece that suggests that Romney has “picked up the support of House Minority Leader John Boehner and that Minority Whip Roy Blunt may soon follow.” Interesting.

  • Michael S.: I actually consider Romney to have quite a shot.

  • What I find really striking about the field of candidates (announced or anticipated) is how diverse the Republicans are ideologically, in contrast to the Democrats.

    Imagine for a moment that the USA had a multiparty system like most of the world’s democracies. Only one Democrat among those running or expected to run is someone whose positions would place him in a party other than one of the mainstream parties of the center/center-right. That would be Kucinich, who is essentially a Green.

    But in the GOP, you have Tancredo (who should be in the misnamed Constitutionalist Party), Paul (a Libertarian), and now Brownback (who would be at home in a Christian Heritage party).

    MSS,

    I thought that was a very inciteful comment. I agree that the current pack of Republican presidential candidates does seem more diverse than the current pack of Democratic presidential candidates. This is one thing that I find extremely disappointing about the current crop of Democratic candidates. For the most part, they’re all either progressives running on economically populist platforms (Obama, Edwards, Kucinich) or pro-war centrist-leaning liberals whose support for the war has waned (Clinton, Richardson). No libertarian-liberals to speak of, which is kind of sad, given that a socially liberal, fiscally conservative, anti-war Democrat would offer a stark contrast to both the current president and the current field of Democratic candidates.

  • Lynx

    CStanley, I hadn’t seen that straw vote, that’s quite interesting. I don’t have anything nearly as scientific to offer you, but I can’t help but think that this might not go over so well amongst conservative voters. A smart GOP opponent wouldn’t bother with attack ads and would just play this video over and over again instead. Surreal.

  • Kevin H

    Lynx, funniest thing of the day by far! And yes, that alone could ruin his chances. Even if you take away the homophobic tendencies of much of the country, I still can’t see American’s voteing in droves for a man that could be seen as ‘silly’.

  • (I hereby invoke the 90 Minute Rule: If a comment doesn’t show up within 90 minutes of posting it, I repost said comment. If the following comment is a repeat, I apologize.)

    ***********************************************************

    Wherever the GOP’s “heart� is, Brownback will run as the truest of true social conservatives: “I am a conservative and I’m proud to be a conservative.� Sure, if conservative is defined as extremism on abortion, stem-cell research, and other wedge issues. That is, if it’s defined by the religious right.

    OK, so I’ve got somewhat a beef to pick with the stem-cell research comment in this post and many previous posts.

    Personally, I support stem cell research. I don’t think science should be held back by a bunch of religious ideologues.

    But having said that, I think the stem research debate as been distorted by some of its proponents. Indeed, there are Americans who oppose embryonic stem cell research on religious grounds, but that fails to tell the entire side of the story. The bill that president Bush vetoed last summer as for federally funded embryonic stem cell research. It had nothing to do with privately funded embryonic stem cell research. So it’s disingenuous for us to argue about stem cell research as if it were simply a ban on all embryonic stem cell research. It is not.

    I think it is unfair to relegate anyone who opposes embryonic stem cell research to the “extremist” wing of the Republican Party. Many libertarians and conservatives oppose federally-funded embryonic stem cell research not because they object to this research in general, but because they don’t believe this research should be paid for the federal taxpayer dollars and/or they don’t believe federally-funded embryonic stem cell research is constitutional.

    Some of you might disagree with this argument every bit as much as you do with the argument that opposes embryonic stem cell research for religious reasons. That is certainly your right. I just think we ought not to pretend that all opponents to embryonic stem cell research are right-wing extremists.

    Many people regard embryonic stem cell research the same way they regard abortion. They’re pro-choice in that they feel it should be legal and restrictions on it should be kept to a bare minimum, yet they also feel that government should not be funding it.

    As I said before, I recognize that there are Americans who oppose embryonic stem cell research on religious grounds and would prefer to ban it outright (Brownback might very well be among them). However, it would be a mistake to believe that this is position of all opponents of embryonic stem cell research.

  • CStanley

    Lynx and Kevin,
    I’m sure that there are a lot of religious conservatives who lack a sense of humor (and a fair number who are homophobes, unfortunately) but there are also a lot of people like me who just find that clip to be a sign that Rudi doesn’t take himself too seriously.

  • Lynx

    CStanley undoubtedly, but does your kind of conservative outnumber the other sort in the primaries? The way the other candidates are hankering after the theocratic vote seems to say no.

  • Disclaimer: Sorry if this is a repost, but this comment hasn’t shown up in the 90+ minutes since I posted it).
    ***********************************************************

    Wherever the GOP’s “heart� is, Brownback will run as the truest of true social conservatives: “I am a conservative and I’m proud to be a conservative.� Sure, if conservative is defined as extremism on abortion, stem-cell research, and other wedge issues. That is, if it’s defined by the religious right.

    OK, so I’ve got somewhat a beef to pick with the stem-cell research comment in this post and many previous posts.

    Personally, I support stem cell research. I don’t think science should be held back by a bunch of religious ideologues.

    But having said that, I think the stem research debate as been distorted by some of its proponents. Indeed, there are Americans who oppose embryonic stem cell research on religious grounds, but that fails to tell the entire side of the story. The bill that president Bush vetoed last summer as for federally funded embryonic stem cell research. It had nothing to do with privately funded embryonic stem cell research. So it’s disingenuous for us to argue about stem cell research as if it were simply a ban on all embryonic stem cell research. It is not.

    I think it is unfair to relegate anyone who opposes embryonic stem cell research to the “extremist” wing of the Republican Party. Many libertarians and conservatives oppose federally-funded embryonic stem cell research not because they object to this research in general, but because they don’t believe this research should be paid for the federal taxpayer dollars and/or they don’t believe federally-funded embryonic stem cell research is constitutional.

    Some of you might disagree with this argument every bit as much as you do with the argument that opposes embryonic stem cell research for religious reasons. That is certainly your right. I just think we ought not to pretend that all opponents to embryonic stem cell research are right-wing extremists.

    Many people regard embryonic stem cell research the same way they regard abortion. They’re pro-choice in that they feel it should be legal and restrictions on it should be kept to a bare minimum, yet they also feel that government should not be funding it.

    As I said before, I recognize that there are Americans who oppose embryonic stem cell research on religious grounds and would prefer to ban it outright (Brownback might very well be among them). However, it would be a mistake to believe that this is position of all opponents of embryonic stem cell research.

  • Kevin H

    CS, and just curious, do you want a president who “doesn’t take himself too seriously”? Even if you do I think there are many who do not. That’s the point I was trying to get across.

    Even personally I’m a bit torn. I like to think that there’s nothing so serious that you can’t joke about it, but maybe I don’t want to have the person who has to make the hard choices to have the same outlook as me on that issue.

  • CStanley

    Lynx said:
    January 22, 2007 at 12:41 pm
    CStanley undoubtedly, but does your kind of conservative outnumber the other sort in the primaries? The way the other candidates are hankering after the theocratic vote seems to say no.

    Lynx,
    The way I see it, the GOP candidates are all courting the religious right in order to try to get some of that voting bloc, but if a candidate has strong support from fiscal conservative voters (many of whom are fed up with the social issues anyway) and then the rest of the candidates split the religious right vote, the fiscal conservative wins (even without much support from religious conservatives).

    And I also think that the GOP powerbrokers are smart enough to see that Rove’s strategy has outlived its usefulness; the midterm elections showed that the GOP needs to recapture some of the centerground as well as shore up its more traditional base.

    nicrevera:
    Thanks for making that important point about ESCR.

  • CStanley

    CS, and just curious, do you want a president who “doesn’t take himself too seriously�? Even if you do I think there are many who do not. That’s the point I was trying to get across.

    I wouldn’t want someone who doesn’t take the issues seriously but I don’t see anything in Guiliani’s past that indicates that. But to be able to lighten up at times, or to laugh at oneself? I see nothing wrong with that.

  • DBK

    I’ve got five bucks on McCain getting the nomination, but I made that bet before the “surge” announcement, when McCain decided he was going to wear Iraq as a hat. The dumbass. He is gonna cost me five bucks. Well, I’m sticking with that position. I say the Bushies get the religious extremists in order for McCain and push his nomination through. Say what you want about the Bushies, when they owe, they pay off political debts. They cut the deal with McCain and they will swing it his way.

  • Jim S

    nicrivera,

    Brownback is indeed among those who want a complete ban on all embryonic stem cell research as the primary Senate sponsor of a bill to accomplish just that. And I’m sorry, but the position of most of the true opponents of embryonic stem cell research is to ban it. Bush and the other Republican politicians just knew that going that far is political suicide.

  • CStanley

    Jim S,
    Do you think it’s fair when people who disagree with you base their disagreement on what they think you really want (the slippery slope argument) rather than on what you say you are willing to compromise on? Because this is what you are doing in this case: you won’t agree that the ban on federal funding is what it is, you have to argue it on the basis that many of the people who support it actually want something more extreme.

  • les

    But, CS, Brownback does want a total ban. This is the man (my Senator, more’s the pity) who stated publicly that God is his constituency. I’d prefer he represent me, but little chance of that…

  • Jim S

    CS,

    les beat me to it. I’m not guessing what they want. I’m basing it on what Brownback and some of his fellow Republicans in both the House and Senate have attempted to write into law, what Republicans at the state level have pushed for (And succeeded in some cases if I recall correctly.) and what many in the anti-abortion movement have stated they want (And we both know most of them are Republicans.) quite explicitly. How many of the people that Bush was encouraging yesterday feel that all research with embryonic stem cells should be banned? A lot of them if not all of them. There is proof of my statement everywhere that a non-partisan looks, which is why I’m not surprised that you apparently don’t see it.

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