Post-Debate Analysis: A Difficult Choice for Conservatives?
As I sat down to watch the Republican Gubernatorial Primary debate this evening, I anticipated that it would simplify my decision on who to vote for. I hoped that Gallagher was going to appear as the Conservative Avatar, well poised, polished, and prove to Republicans that he is ready to assume the mantle of leadership for our State, and our state party. I the alternative, I hoped that Crist was going to have a strong rebuttal to Gallagher's persistent attacks with the pledge that he is, in fact, a true Conservative with Conservative positions on critical social issues and will advance our cause.
I didn't get either.
Tonight, Charlie Crist looked like the next governor of Florida. Gallagher's attacks didn't stick, and Crist was all too effective at shrugging them off as the desperation of the guy who is losing. His performance, from a political standpoint, was phenomenal. Gallagher tried to come out of the gate strong claiming Crist is a liberal and keep the debate on that point. But he fumbled far too much and allowed himself to get tied up in his attacks rather than his positions. Look, I don't really think Crist is a true social Conservative, but you would be hard pressed to convince me that he is a liberal, and I don't think many Republicans are buying the argument either despite the fact that Crist may have some differences from Gallagher on social issues.
So what is a Conservative to do? They both present fiscally conservative platforms through various suggested tax cuts or maintaining current cuts. On the social points, Crist gave lip service. "I'm pro-life, pro-gun, pro-family, and pro-business." But what he didn't say was, "I would sign a bill to end abortion in Florida." He acknowledged support for civil unions. He supports a form, though he won't call it that, of amnesty. As a word-smith, he performed well tonight, but he didn't give the answers a true social Conservative would.
On the other side, Gallagher had all the right answers, but just couldn't get any traction against the would-be, and at this point, probably will-be Governor.
So what is a true Conservative to do? Though the decision, especially after tonight, seems difficult, I encourage my Conservative brethren to vote for the true social Conservative; Tom Gallagher.
Charlie Crist is an amazing politician. And honestly, I don't foresee him actively opposing Conservatives on any of the above mentioned social issues. Mark my words, Charlie Crist will not be done with politics after this election, he has his sights set on higher goals and this is a step in the process. When the critical social issues come up, if governor, I anticipate that he will do the same thing he did during Terry Schiavo's last days on earth and completely disappear. Only to return all is calm, with no position on the matter so that he can't be stuck to it later.
But just because he won't oppose Conservative causes, I didn't hear much tonight to support the idea that he would be an active ally in advancing them. And that is exactly what we need.
Gallagher may not have the political smoothness of Crist, but if we take him at his word, he is a true Conservative and he will fight for our cause. We cannot afford a four, possibly eight, year pause on support of Conservative positions from the seat of Governor. There is too much at stake, and shame on us if we don't try.
As it turns out, the choice for Conservatives really isn't that difficult at all.
Conservatives, I encourage you to join with me and make a stand; vote for the stand-out social Conservative - Tom Gallagher. But more than that, encourage our Conservative brothers and sisters to do the same.