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Republicans need a leader

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By John Barnhart

Hillary Clinton pulled out a narrow victory over Barack Obama in New Hampshire last week. Both campaigns remain well financed and competitive and it appears unlikely that anybody will have a headlock on the "Democratic" nomination after the Feb. 5 mega primary.

On the Republican side, Mitt Romney found himself once again unable to buy an election. In spite of spending lots of money, he lost the New Hampshire primary, coming in second best to another candidate who didn't have much cash to spend. This time, the winner was John McCain. McCain looked like political dead meat six months ago, but he's once again a viable candidate.

While it's not yet clear whether the Republicans will face Clinton or Obama in November, it is clear that the "Democrats" will nominate a liberal. Unless the Republicans want to see a liberal in the White House, they had better come up with a ticket that can win.

Rudy Giuliani is not electable. In the first place, Giuliani is a liberal and nominating him will guarantee a revolt by social conservatives. Most, myself included, would turn out to vote for a congressman and a senator, but would either not cast a ballot for president or write in a protest vote.

Giuliani has other problems. He has sleazy associates ? one of his former New York City cronies is currently under indictment. Back when Giuliani was still married to his most recent ex-wife and having adulterous trysts with another woman, he socked New York's taxpayers for the cost of his whoopee sessions. And, even his own children don't like him, something that speaks oceans to his character, or lack thereof.

Mitt Romney can't be trusted. When he ran for governor of Massachusetts, he ran as a pro-abortion candidate and, as governor, proved himself to be a liberal on social issues. Now, he claims to have seen the light and has done a 180 degree turn on abortion and same sex marriage. Many social conservatives, myself included, don't trust him. It's obvious that nobody can believe anything he says.

Although I've not been a John McCain fan in the past, I believe that McCain would be the Republicans' best choice as their presidential nominee. McCain isn't perfect, but he would bring a lot of positives to the Republican ticket.

McCain led a Navy fighter squadron in combat during Viet Nam. Unlike Giuliani, McCain isn't taking credit for the heroism and sacrifice of others. He was shot down, and injured in the process. He was held prisoner, and tortured, by the North Vietnamese for five years. He would understand, as commander-in-chief of our armed forces, what it means to send men in harm's way because he's been there himself.

Furthermore, McCain was a proponent of the surge in Iraq long before President Bush actually did it. McCain turned out to be right.

Unlike Romney, McCain has a reputation for saying what he means without waffling for political expediency. This means we could actually believe what he tells us. He also has a generally conservative voting record on social issues in the Senate.

McCain is electable. Polls show him as the only Republican who does well against likely "Democratic" candidates. In New Hampshire, he pulled in plenty of independent voters.

If McCain wins the nomination, I think his best choice as a running mate would be Mike Huckabee. Huckabee does well among Christian conservatives, a group that Republicans need in order to win in November. He's shown himself an effective campaigner by coming out of nowhere to beat Romney in Iowa, even though Romney outspent him 15 to one. He also has a proven talent for speaking off the cuff without putting his foot in his mouth, something that will be useful if a McCain/Huckabee ticket hits the campaign trail this fall.

By the way, Virginia holds its "Democratic" and Republican primaries on Feb. 12 and you don't have to be a party member to vote. The nomination should still be open in both parties by that time, so your vote will count.