What are the odds GOP can pick a winner?

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Column by Jim Flynn

If Republican presidential hopefuls continue to abuse each other through a dozen more caucuses and primaries from Maine through Super Tuesday, their nominee will be dog meat come November.
Mr. Obama is loading up on Republicans’ ill-conceived mutual nastiness. Rarely has one party’s potential nominees served up so many revelations of their rivals’ political vulnerabilities and defects of character.
The basic disagreement among Republicans centers around who is a true conservative. The problem is conservatives come in 57 varieties and 28 flavors.
Mitt Romney, a progressive fiscal conservative, has a recurring case of foot-in-mouth affliction. If he captures the nomination he’ll get pounded from March to November by allegations that he enjoys firing people and that his main concern is middle-class folks, not the poor or the wealthy. His comments may have been unintended and taken out of context, but that doesn’t make them less bumbling.
Newt Gingrich is a campaign fashion conservative. He’s the brightest and most glib loose cannon since Theodore Roosevelt. Like TR, Gingrich has an idea per minute, many of which are entertainingly bizarre, such as an embassy on the moon and colonization of the planet Mars. Gingrich is the Republican counterpart to Mr. Obama – too many ideas for which there will never be enough money.
Rick Santorum is a righteous social conservative. He’s an advocate for the working middle class, whose voters Romney has been chasing with dumb comments and whose allegiance Gingrich believes belongs to him. Although he says he’s a fiscal conservative, Santorum has baggage from his time as a Senator — pork for his district, disliked by colleagues, and insider work in Washington after he lost his seat. Santorum’s fuzzy foreign policy includes a regime change in Iran — a familiar justification for another unprovoked war. Focus on the family is Santorum’s curative for all domestic problems — marriage, birth, work ethic, and other social values. It’s unlikely to appeal to independent voters.
Congressman Ron Paul is a constitutional conservative, who advocates if it isn’t authorized by the Constitution, then government shouldn’t be doing it. His goals are less spending, lower taxes, taking back control of the money system from the Federal Reserve, and elimination of unneeded government agencies. His maverick common-sense advice may be several generations late in Washington, but his message deserves to be heard.
So what are the odds that a Republican can capture the White House next November? Unemployment is gradually declining; jobs are increasing; and the only question Republicans need ask is “Which candidate can win?” According to bookmakers, none of the above: Rick Santorum 100/1, Ron Paul 50/1, Newt Gingrich 20/1, and Mitt Romney 13/10. President Obama is odds-on 5/8 to win re-election. A conservative Republican has to receive a substantial percentage of independent votes to win the presidency. Considering the nasty atmosphere among the potential nominees at this point in time, we wouldn’t bet on it.