The State of the Union address could not have come at a better time for the GOP. No, not because the speech will cause some sort of seismic negative shift in President Obama’s approval rating--these addresses have barely moved the needle in approval polls historically.
The timing is good because Republicans are still deciding on their nominee and that choice should be based on which candidate is best suited to win in November. The State of the Union was a perfect opportunity to remind the Republican voters of what their nominee will be up against.
President Obama was unquestionably eloquent and charismatic. He was also repetitive (see the 2010 and 2011 versions of same speech) and broad (tax fairness in itself is not a policy proposal). The president talked about hope for all Americans but also hit notes of class warfare and railed against Big Banks, Big Business, Big Oil, everything but Big Government. President Obama called for more spending on infrastructure but did not mention where the trillion dollars already spent on those pesky “shovel ready projects” has gone.
Based on the above, what does the GOP need in its presidential candidate? Here is a short list Republican voters can refer to when making their decision:
While Newt Gingrich is riding a new wave of popularity, he does not meet any of the above criteria. Speaker Gingrich has gotten back to the top of the polls by employing the exact tactics that place him 10 points behind President Obama in head to head polls.
On the other hand, the issue of electability against Obama has been the exact reason why Mitt Romney has stayed at the top of the polls while just about every other candidate has bounced up and down. Mitt does meet all of the above criteria and that is more important than his tax return or position on gay rights 20 years ago. That point is made loud and clear by the fact that Gov. Romney is either virtually tied with or leads President Obama in matchup polls.
The GOP would have been well served to have both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney deliver an official response to the State of the Union instead of Gov. Mitch Daniels who is not running for President.
That direct comparison between President Obama and each of the two GOP candidates should help Republican voters make the right choice and nominate Gov. Romney.
Corrected on 1/25/12: An earlier version of this blog post incorrectly said that president did mention the money already spent on “shovel ready projects.”