So now that I've recovered, at least somewhat, from New Orleans (it was hot, hot, hot!), here is my impression of the Republican candidates I've met. Well what can I say about Newt Gingrich? In person, he's exactly like he is on TV. In fact, he was exactly as he was on TV 20 years ago. In any case, I don’t think he'll stay in the race long anyway.
Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico: Came across as nice and sincere, sort of a younger and much more boring version of Ron Paul. His no-government-in-our-lives policy isn't my cup of tea - or it wouldn’t be if I were an American. Being German, though, I have healthcare, Social Security, and a bullet train on my doorstep to visit my brother in less than two hours. So I would appreciate it is the Americans got rid of its current big brother state and eliminated taxes. Also, knowing New Mexico, I understand where he's coming from. However, he has, as one lady put it, “the chance of a Chinaman.”
Hermann Cain talked of himself as being like a bumblebee: he's not supposed to fly, yet he does. And he cares about his grandchildren, likes pizza, and would send the U.S. military into motion to defend Israel. Other than that, I don’t remember much. He talks in a black preacher kind of way and received a lot of applause, but few straw poll votes. I think his basic function is to convince Republicans that they aren't racist. He does that well.
Ron Paul received tremendous support from his supporters, many of who are fairly young (in fact, he was the only one with young fans), and he won the straw poll by far (and was booed for it). I kind of like his no-frills attitude, taking a stand against the Federal Reserve, Wall Street, the Pentagon, the military industrial complex, speaking out against the war on Iraq, Afghanistan, and drugs and so forth (he even wants to plant hemp). Sadly, his idea of freedom doesn't include my womb. In any case, if he gets elected he'll be assassinated the next day. By the way: His people were the only ones worth having the proverbial beer with, while the Bachmann folks were more like my late grandmother.
Bachmann will eat Sarah Palin’s lunch! She struck me as very energetic, talented, and smart. The older women just loved her. I know she has been quoted as saying lots of crazy stuff, but I got the impression that she doesn’t believe most of it herself - she's just pandering. For instance, she said she believes in Intelligent Design; I'm fairly sure, though, that her own children go to good universities that don’t teach ID.
She was introduced as a business women, although in fact she's made a living as an IRS attorney, a foster mother and a politician all her life. She wants to curb the deficit by cutting funding for NPR, Planned Parenthood, bullet trains, and some Cowboy Poetry Festival, but leave Medicare untouched. Again, this isn't going to happen - and she knows it. But she can present it with a smile and a straight face. She also didn't join in with the overall Hispanic-bashing; as president, she will create jobs for Latinos. I wasn't aware that governments create jobs - with the possible exception of bullet trains and those Bachmann has held, but people kept on cheering.
Rick Santorum I couldn’t hear, because I had to follow Bachmann working the room and then follow her to a press conference; as was everyone else. This lady ate Santorum's lunch. I listened to Louisiana’s Buddy Roemer, though. He sounded like an Anarcho-Syndicalist from 1968 Berlin - or Huey Long. You tell me. Also applause.
Perry got even more applause. He uttered mostly boilerplate catchphrases, like, freedom, liberty, strong military, Ronald Reagan, American exceptionalism, greatest country of all times (they should invent an acronym for that, like, Grecat), but said zilch, nada, niente - about curbing immigration. If he runs, he has a good shot at winning.
And Huntsman, while not even being in New Orleans, finished second in the straw poll. He would have a much harder time getting the nomination than Perry, but could cut into the non-crazy vote. So if I were a Democrat, I would push for Hermann Cain. I'm just sayin'!