LAMBRO: Finally voters start to get a say

Iowa caucus goers have tough decisions

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Voters go to the polls next month to begin choosing a candidate who can put America back to work, and that means preventing Barack Obama from winning a second term.

But the Republican and GOP-leaning electorate has been deeply divided over the past year about who that candidate should be, with its conservative base switching almost monthly from one presidential hopeful to another in search of a contender who will carry its banner and fulfill its hopes and aspirations.

Here are some of the overriding qualifications to look for in a candidate who can do that:

c Rule out anyone who is not making the persistently weak, jobless Obama economy the No. 1 issue in 2012. Countless national polls over the past three years of this administration show that no other issue comes even close.

Any candidate who isn’t tirelessly and angrily pounding this issue in every speech isn’t addressing our country’s biggest problem. Lots of other issues are important, including our government’s mushrooming debt, but an economically weak America threatens our national security as a major power in an increasingly dangerous world.

The candidate must not just address this issue, but set forth an agenda to unleash the capital investment, market expansion and job-creating reforms that are needed to put tens of millions of Americans back to work: a growth agenda that calls for permanently lowering tax rates on businesses, investors and workers alike; terminating costly job-killing regulations; and expanding our export markets around the world.

c No qualification is more critical in this weak economic environment than high-level executive experience, preferably in both the private and public sectors.

We’ve experimented with President Obama’s attempts to spend ourselves out of America’s Great Recession, and he has demonstrated clearly that he’s in over his head, that he does not understand what creates jobs.

His tissue-paper-thin resume as a community organizer and a state senator of no accomplishment, with a year or so of working in the U.S. Senate, doesn’t come close to the experience standard needed to run the largest economic power in the world.

In the modern era, we’ve looked to governors, who have run state governments: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan come to mind, among others.

There’s a reason why we don’t elect House members to the presidency, especially those who never have held any leadership roles. That would be virtually comparable to promoting someone in the mailroom to CEO.

It helps to have run a state where you’ve balanced the budget, engaged a willful legislature in the give-and-take of statecraft and built a record of legislative accomplishment.

c A qualified presidential candidate should be fully and exhaustively vetted by the voters - and not just in a single election cycle. Republicans have a habit of making most of their nominees run through the campaign spin cycle at least twice before nominating them for the job. Reagan tried three times before he was ready.

Shaking off defeat and trying again shows persistence and old-fashioned determination and ambition.

Winning the presidency shouldn’t be easy, and the four-year political gantlet and 50-state primary contests, even before the general election begins, are deliberately set up to weed out the weakest candidates.

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