My Unwanted Advice to the GOP Presidential Candidates (Yes, All of Them)

By John Zmirak Published on August 25, 2023

I’m not equally enthusiastic about all of the GOP presidential candidates. That’s putting it mildly. But I know for a fact that each one of them has the support of at least some of my fellow Americans and fellow Christians. 

Each person running has his reasons for entering the race. I think it’s a useful exercise to imagine what each of them is seeking (apart from the obvious) and suggest how each might achieve it with the least possible damage to our listing, battered Republic. I’ll list the candidates in ascending order of their position in the race, according to polling, and offer the best counsel I can.

I said on The Eric Metaxas Show that a debate minus Donald Trump was like watching Oompa-Loompas dance on Willy Wonka’s grave. That much is true. But we can still learn from the exercise, however grotesque we might find it.

Asa Hutchinson

I don’t think you’re delusional. You don’t see a path to the White House here, or else you wouldn’t have adopted the bitterest NeverTrump talking points. Sounding like a politicized DOJ prosecutor trying to imprison Rudy Giuliani isn’t going to win many hearts and minds. So what are you up to?

Perhaps you hope to cement your speaking status in Establishment GOP circles and remind Arkansans who you are. They seem now perfectly happy with Trump ally Sarah Huckabee Sanders as governor, so I don’t think that you’re doing yourself any favors with them. If you’d ever dreamed of coasting to a seat in the U.S. Senate, you dashed them at the debate.

By all means stay in the race for as long as you can. You provide a healthy reminder to the GOP voting base of why they voted as they did back in the 2016 primaries. As long as you can keep reaching the threshold to take part in the debates, you’ll serve a useful purpose in the contest. Run, Asa, run!

Doug Burgum

I’ll admit that I’d never heard of you before this debate. You gave a decent answer defending federalism as the correct incremental pro-life strategy. (Though I wasn’t convinced. Federalism only cuts in one direction, as the Democrats push abortion pills into drug stores in 50 states.)

More powerfully, you brought up “small town values” as the answer to our current problems. Maybe I’m just a dark and cynical person, but when you said that my first thought was: “Does he mean Fentanyl?” Most Americans know that the opioid plague, along with other serious social problems, now afflict even tiny, “salt of the earth” communities. Here’s your chance to address that.

Tiny towns in rural Texas now offer “trans” propaganda to tots in children’s libraries. Our enemies won’t leave a single square inch of America unpoisoned, alas. That’s not how totalitarians roll. As long as you’re in the race, make yourself the voice for rural, working class Americans who sit in the crosshairs of the social engineers. Maybe such a campaign could help you end up in the Senate, and do some good.

Chris Christie

When you walked on the debate stage, I’m pretty sure you were “hangry.” Next time, make sure you eat a good, sustaining meal beforehand — think hobbit fare like “pork chops and taters” — so that you come across as a little friendlier. Yeah, you’re from New Jersey, but try to register more “Joe Piscopo” and less “Sopranos.” Given that most Republicans will find out sooner or later that you were the genius who recommended Donald Trump hire Christopher Wray to run our KGB (oops! I meant to write “FBI”), you’re not winning the nomination this year. You could barely be heard above the booing from the crowd.

Given the wave of financial scandals that drove you out of New Jersey politics (with a 15% approval rating!), you’re probably not the best guy to invoke the “rule of law” when condemning Donald Trump and his attorneys as deserving long prison terms. Nor are you likely to become the favorite choice of wealthy NeverTrump donors, who sniff at you as disdainfully as they do at OrangeMan himself. So why are you in the race? Is it just revenge on Donald Trump, for siding with his son-in-law Jared Kushner (who despised you for imprisoning his father)?

Well, the best way to get that isn’t staying in the race, triggering MAGA hecklers. Why don’t you do what the smartest Trump-haters do, and feign a change of heart? Go to Mar-a-Lago hat in hand, and get Trump to hire you. Then you can stab him in the back, as a long list of Establishment Republicans have (including several of your rivals for the nomination this year).

Tim Scott

You have an inspiring personal story — up from poverty in a single mother’s household — and you’re an eloquent spokesman for America’s universal principles. This at a time when mindless anti-white and anti-American Marxist tribalism runs rampant in BLM circles and elite faculty lounges. I hope you can stay in the race for a good long while, and voice the enduring value of our founding documents, which Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., unforgettably called a “promissory note” to black Americans.

Think of yourself as the ambassador to those Americans disenfranchised by their own supposed leaders, and you might earn yourself an enduring place in our politics.

Nikki Haley

If you’re running for President of Planned Parenthood, you’re right on track, Ambassador Haley. You couldn’t keep a wicked witch grin off your face as you taunted your (authentically) pro-life rivals, sneering that even anemic protections for unborn children after 15 weeks wouldn’t pass the U.S. Senate. I swear at that moment I thought you had morphed into Hillary Clinton. I expected you to say, “At this point, what difference does it make?” No wonder that pro-lifers pleaded in vain for you to take a stand against global abortion when you represented the U.S. at the United Nations.

So if that’s the job you really want, keep it up, ambassador. I think you might actually get it. As for president? Well, you won’t get that one, but you can chalk that up to the “racism” with which you tarred America in one of your two (count ‘em, two!) autobiographies. That’s Obama-level self-regard, right there. Count me impressed.

Mike Pence

Okay, Mr. Vice President, we get it. You’re a Christian. For your own sake, we’re glad to hear that. We’d like to hear a little more about why we ought to trust you with the office that most of the populace thinks Donald Trump rightly won in 2020. You don’t seem terribly … loyal to the man who rescued you from political oblivion. After you threw Christians under the bus in 2015 to placate the LGBTQMYNAMEISLEGION lobby, you were all set to lose your governor’s race. But Trump plucked you out and made you his running mate.

Then during his transition, you convinced him to fire Gen. Mike Flynn over the FBI’s fake charges of Russian collusion. That left Trump utterly vulnerable to Deep State persecution, and ruined his whole term in office. Your office was the one where pro-life Catholic bishops went to beg for a pro-life alternative to the Dead Baby COVID vaccine. You didn’t come through.

Now you’re quite proud of the fact that on January 6, you refused even to try to examine evidence of ballot fraud, and let the states with contested electors dig into the charges. You’ve accused Trump of putting himself “above the Constitution,” and won’t promise to pardon him if he’s convicted of these new, outrageous charges.

I worry that if we elect you, you’ll see us as your benefactor. And we see how you treated Trump ….

So my advice to you is: Start talking about election fraud, and pushing for states to quash it at the root. Admit that you didn’t see a Constitutional path to fixing 2020, but do so with the proper regret you ought to feel about the fraud that was perpetrated on all of us. That would be the Christian thing to do.

Vivek Ramaswamy

Okay, so you won the debate. You were the most entertaining, and the closest to real Republican voters. You’re willing to question the mad rush to risk a nuclear war with Russia. You get that Donald Trump is being legally railroaded like Lech Walesa in Communist Poland. Your talk of “revolution” might be premature, but it resonates with those who see a tyranny dawning here, where the Deep State colludes to imprison the political opposition.

All that was great.

But we all have a bunch of questions. If you want to be more than a flash in the pan (remember Michael Bloomberg? Anyone?) you are going to have to answer them.

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First, are you pro-life? Nobody seems to know. Spell out exactly your position on this key moral issue. Maybe also throw in a bit about your own religious beliefs. Your billboards say “God Is Real.” Since you’re apparently a Hindu (correct me if I’m wrong here!) it’s not unfairly snarky to ask “Which one?” Are you of the Hindu school which claims an ultimate monotheism, above the vast pantheon that fills up Hindu temples? In a country founded by Christians where millions of them feel threatened by the government, that’s not too personal a question.

Here’s a personal question we have every right to ask: Did you in fact solicit and get a scholarship from a Soros foundation? Since you were already a millionaire, did you even need the money? Why did you hire a professional to get that scrubbed from your Wikipedia page? How can we be sure, in an age of Soros prosecutors, that you won’t prove to be a Soros president?

Ron DeSantis

You’re a wonderful governor and you’d make a great president. I think I speak for most of your well-wishers when I say … so far you’re not a compelling candidate. That’s extremely frustrating, especially for those of us who worry that the lawless Democrats of our dawning dictatorship will actually manage to make Donald Trump ineligible for office. You’re the obvious heir. But we need you to step up.

Fire everyone who works for you who has any link whatsoever to the Bush family dynasty. Where else would a phrase like “listless vessel” have entered your vocabulary, except via one of those overpaid operatives? Stop attacking Trump, or responding to his (foolish) attacks on you. Instead attack the FBI, Jack Smith, and other operatives of our dawning authoritarian state.

But most of all, do much more of what you did during the debate: Talk about COVID, that vast moral panic and dry run for a public health dictatorship. You did much better than Trump himself all through that crisis. In fact, that’s what made you famous. Don’t let Americans forget how their jobs were lost, kids kept from school, grandparents murdered in nursing homes, churches closed, and rights stripped away. Except in Florida. Thanks to you.

You were also the most obviously sincere and eloquent pro-life candidate up on the stage. You walk the talk, having signed a six-week “heartbeat” bill. We honor you for your courage, and urge you to keep standing strong. 

Talk about that and almost nothing else. You’ll carve out a place in our hearts, and end up president sooner or later, I’m sure.

Donald Trump

Okay, I’m one of the millions of Americans who watched your interview with Tucker Carlson first, then later reluctantly hunted down the GOP Lilliputians’ debate over on YouTube. I stand with you and your co-defendants in this outrageous prosecution. (By the way, you ought to be paying their legal bills, every last dime of them.)

But you need to do better. You need to do something you might never have done in your life, which we Christians know is in fact a power move: Admit when you made a mistake.

No, really, I’m serious. Consider, at long last and at your age, owning up to having done something that you now wish you hadn’t. For instance, hiring so many people who envied and hated you, so they betrayed you and our country. And listening to Dr. Fauci for so long, as he peddled medical fascism and lies about COVID’s origin. And firing Mike Flynn. And so on.

Believe it or not, it’s a sign of strength. The only adult in history who didn’t need to repent died on a cross, and redeemed the world. We don’t need that from you.

Those of us who supported you most fervently in the past are more keenly aware than anyone else of the ways in which you let yourself down and left us vulnerable. You can’t keep blowing smoke up your own kilt about your “very good relations” with members of the Deep State. It’s trying to imprison you. What part of that don’t you get?

Maybe your next interview shouldn’t be a soft-ball talk with Tucker Carlson, but a hard-hitting conversation with January 6 investigator Julie Kelly. She knows where the bodies are buried. (Literally.)


For other views of the GOP debate, see The Stream’s video coverage here.

John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He is co-author with Jason Jones of “God, Guns, & the Government.”

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