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opinion | Dan Payne

Democrats’ guide to Republicans for president

Will a Republican succeed President Obama?AP/file 2014

With Mitt Romney out and the field of Republican candidates so large, you can’t tell the players without a program. They fall into various categories:

Hot-headed heavyweights

■  Chris Christie: Took family vacation to Israel paid for by king of Jordan, then refused to take questions about it. Took all-expenses trip to Dallas Cowboys football game. Refused to comment on it. Gave lucrative contracts to firm run by pal John Ashcroft, another to pal Governor Charlie Baker. At Hurricane Sandy anniversary event, publicly blasted angry questioner, “Sit down and shut up!” Bridgegate, anyone?

Doctors without sense

■  Rand Paul: Darling of Tea Party. Believes life begins at conception. Eye doctor wasn’t board certified, created own board led by family members. On measles: “I have heard of many tragic cases of . . . normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.” Would end all foreign aid; abolish federal departments of commerce, education, energy, and housing; repeal Affordable Care Act; and privatize Social Security. Makes father seem normal.


■  Ben Carson, neurosurgeon with Nazis on the brain: Admitted plagiarizing parts of his book. African-American physician who says, “Obamacare is really the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.” “America is very much like Nazi Germany.” For better idea of Barack Obama’s politics, recommended, “Read ‘Mein Kampf.’ ” Nazi fetish?

Flavor of the month club

■  Jeb Bush, bully pulpit: Boston Globe profile revealed Bush was pot-smoking bully in prep school. New York Times found many letters to father’s White House urging help for friends. Advice to women on welfare: “Get your life together and find a husband.” Helped brother W. win presidency in Florida by 537 votes. Husband of brain-dead Terri Schiavo called Jeb “vindictive, untrustworthy coward” who put him “through hell” by interfering in her case. Miami Herald asked what he’d do specifically for black people if elected governor. Answer: “Probably nothing.” Wants path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Wife is Mexican-American whose peasant father entered United States illegally.

■  Scott Walker, hard-hearted union buster: Stock soaring, wowed Iowa’s religious right at cattle show. As Wisconsin governor, pushed anti-union law that slashed benefits and eliminated collective bargaining rights for state workers. Claim: Soviets treated Ronald Reagan more seriously after he fired air traffic controllers. Possible illegal help for his recall campaign from groups backed by Karl Rove and the Koch brothers. Declaring war on highly regarded state university, urging $300 million cuts. Asked recently if he believed in evolution, “I’ll punt on that one.”


Obsessed with Obamacare

■  Ted Cruz of Texas, via Canada: Born in Calgary to American mother. Will birthers say he’s not eligible to run for president? Said President Obama’s desire for nuclear “deal with Iran is going to be the Obamacare of the second term.” Called net neutrality “Obamacare for the Internet.” Against raising minimum wage because it would harm “young people, African-Americans, Hispanics, and single women.” Lemme see your birth certificate, eh?

Obsessed with Beyoncé

■  Arkansas’ Mike Huckabee: Rapped Beyoncé for “explicit dance moves.” Criticized president and first lady for letting daughters listen to Beyoncé’s music – called it “obnoxious and toxic mental poison.” Appalled that “trashy” women in New York City cursed in business meetings.

As Arkansas governor, solicited and accepted $112,000 in gifts and gave gift-givers state posts. Favors banning all abortions without exception, supports personhood legislation, believes wives should “submit graciously” to husbands. Beyoncé included?

Lightweight division

■  Rick Perry, thick-rimmed glasses to look smarter: Highlight of 2011 GOP debates: “The third agency of government I would do away with . . . ” Never came up with third one. “Oops.” Evolution “is a theory that’s out there. It’s got some gaps in it . . . In Texas we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools.” Texas has 5th highest poverty rate in United States, tied with West Virginia. Glasses don’t magnify your IQ.


■  Marco Rubio, psuedo-scientist: Claimed family fled Cuba for Florida when Fidel Castro came to power. Actually left three years prior. Told Fox News, “Human life begins at conception . . . It’s a proven fact.”

Asked about age of earth, replied, “I’m not scientist, man. I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States.”

“I’ve never denied the climate is changing, it is always changing.” But denies that excessive carbon is cause: “Despite 17 years of dramatic increases in carbon production by humans, surface temperatures in the earth have stabilized.”

Perhaps he could come to Boston to shovel mountains of snow, which some scientists tie to warming of oceans.

Bizarre Caucus

■  Rick Santorum, Pennsylvanian: Told white audience: “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.” Said creating right to consensual sex in home would lead to legalized bigamy, polygamy, and incest. Led effort to require schools to teach intelligent design, questioned separation of church and state, compared abortion to slavery, said birth control did not work and called it harmful to women. Frequently compared same-sex relationships to objects like trees, basketballs, beer, and paper towels.


“I have no problem with income inequality.” Gay soldiers “cause problems for people living in close quarters . . . they obviously shower with people.” Obama should oppose abortion “because he’s black.” Says we don’t need food stamps because obesity rates are so high. How’d this guy finish second to Romney?

■  Allen West, once served in Congress (!): Likened Democrats to Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels. Urged liberals to take message of equality to Europe. Said liberal women have been “neutering” American men. Ouch.

Romney lite, sees porn in oil spill

■  Carly Fiorina, now of Virginia: Forced out as CEO of Hewlett Packard. Shipped 18,000 HP jobs overseas. Left California after losing senate race to Barbara Boxer. Blessed by NRA. Cancer survivor, said parents might think twice about vaccinating preteen girls for cervical cancer. Wants parents to have right to oppose measles vaccination. On BP’s Gulf oil spill: “It’s pretty clear that the regulators were not doing their jobs, were in bed with the industry — literally — not to mention watching porn.”

Yosemite Sam Caucus

■  John Bolton: Biggest hawk in Washington. Bashed United Nations for years, then George W. Bush named him UN ambassador. Supported Vietnam War but joined National Guard to avoid combat. Outspoken support for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and for targeted assassination of Libya’s Moammar Khadafy. Brian Williams admires his macho pretension.


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Dan Payne is a Boston-based media consultant who has worked for Democratic candidates around the country and does political analysis for WBUR radio.