The GOP's sad, intolerant 2012 field

At the weekend's Values Voters Summit, Republican presidential candidates and conservative kingmakers proved that bigotry is among their chief values

Robert Shrum

There's a good reason for the otherwise inexplicable reality that in most surveys President Obama, despite his currently desiccated job approval ratings, leads all but one of his Republican rivals — and even against him, the president nonetheless runs neck and neck.

And there's a deeper reason, beyond the inchoate, predictable, and perennial yearning to find an alternative, why so many of the GOP's smartest strategists and most prodigious fund-raisers fought so hard to broaden their field of candidates. They sought someone else, anyone both serious and authentic — from Indiana's diminutive but economically literate Gov. Mitch Daniels, who once committed the conservative capital offense of contemplating a tax increase, to New Jersey's blunt, at times bullying, and comprehensively heavyweight Gov. Chris Christie, who believes in the heresy of global warming.

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Robert Shrum has been a senior adviser to the Gore 2000 presidential campaign, the campaign of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and the British Labour Party. In addition to being the chief strategist for the 2004 Kerry-Edwards campaign, Shrum has advised thirty winning U.S. Senate campaigns; eight winning campaigns for governor; mayors of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and other major cities; and the Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. Shrum's writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The New Republic, Slate, and other publications. The author of No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner (Simon and Schuster), he is currently a Senior Fellow at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service.