Saturday, May 23, 2015

Last Call For Sons Of The South

It’s the heartland of the modern Republican Party, the most reliably red region in presidential elections. But as the 2016 GOP campaign for the White House gets underway, the South finds itself yet again without a native son in a leading role.

As party leaders gathered here for the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, a traditional candidate cattle call that draws many of the party’s presidential hopefuls and attracted around 2,000 activists this year, there was no shortage of reminders about the South’s importance, both financially and electorally, to the party’s political fortunes.

Yet the three Republicans who lead the field are a governor from Wisconsin, Scott Walker, and Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush, two candidates rooted in the part of Florida that is most culturally distinct from the South — Miami.

The GOP primary is not without authentic sons of the South — South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, both born in small towns at the dawn of the civil rights era, proudly identify as such. There is also Bobby Jindal, the Baton Rouge-born Louisiana governor.

But all of them — including former Gov. Rick Perry, as a Texan not quite a Southerner but stylistically close enough to pass for one — find themselves trailing far behind in the polls, struggling to demonstrate their viability as 2016 prospects. Two other candidates with tenuous claims to the Southern candidate mantle — Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Canada-born Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — are faring better but still have a ways to go in expanding their voter bases. Should they all fall short, it would mark the third consecutive presidential election that the Republican Party has picked a nominee who doesn’t hail from the South, even in its most expansive definition.

Few here at the SRLC said that it matters, as long as the candidate who captures the GOP nomination shares the same conservative values.

“I just think our people don’t care where they’re from as much as what they believe and how they lead,” said Chad Connelly, a former South Carolina Republican Party chairman.

If that's not a good old-fashioned "Bless his heart" being directed at Jeb Bush, specifically, I dunno what is.

Pretending that it doesn't matter if they can't get a Good Ol Boy into the White House again? That's funny.  But let's face it, the party is bought and paid for by the Romney/McCain Country Club wing, and the Bubbas from the South are just there to be cannon fodder for the GOP and alway will be in the back of the bus.

I'm sure this will come up again in 2020, after they lose again.

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