GOP candidates overview

Say what you will about Ron Paul — we know if he were elected president, he would use a butcher's knife to cut the Washington bureaucracy and the federal budget.

Of all the candidates, he is a true believer in small government and individual freedom. He has clearly read and understands the Constitution. He is like a born-again Christian who has a solid commitment to the New Testament. But for his isolationist and unrealistic views of foreign policy, he would make a tremendous change agent as president of the United States.

Gingrich and Romney are committed to fiscal conservatism, but they are not committed to minimum government and individual freedom in the same spirit as Ron Paul.

Romney will be a good conservator of the status quo. He has proven himself as a capable manager and administrator. His vision is for a well-run, efficient and low-cost government, but not necessarily a small government.

Gingrich is perhaps the most effective political operative on the presidential stage. He may be more committed to a smaller government than Romney, but he's constrained by the realpolitik of Washington, D.C. This will severely limit what he can and will achieve.

Santorum and Perry are making an appeal to the social conservatives as their support base. In my judgment this is a mistake, because the real issue in this race is the financial integrity of the United States government.

The social issues are a side- and ineffective show. The candidates all did an impressive job at this week's South Carolina debate in outlining their positions on the critical issues. The GOP has nothing to be ashamed of with the field that now exists.

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