Which GOP presidential candidate can ‘git’r’dun?’

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with Maine Gov. Paul LePage in Portland in advance of the 2014 election. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with Maine Gov. Paul LePage in Portland in advance of the 2014 election. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Mike: Cynthia, is Hillary going to waltz to the nomination unimpeded? Or will Democrats provide a credible alternative to force some intra-party debate? I’m guessing they aren’t going to follow the “brawl” strategy of the GOP, with a new candidate entering the fray seemingly every day.

Cynthia: We might finally get an experienced and capable woman on the ticket, and suddenly the GOP clamors for choice? Please.

Democrats are wise to rally behind Hillary and focus on the more important debate about the direction in which we want this country to head in 2016. Do we follow the lead of the Obama administration that led us out of the recession and jump-started the economy for American families? Or do we want someone mirroring the LePage administration, that enabled deals that paid financiers millions of dollars of taxpayer money while Mainers struggle with crushing poverty and slow growth?

Mike: A little competition is a good thing in presidential politics. There are more people in this country than just Clintons and Bushes. It may be bloody, but you’ll hear a lot of different ideas in the Republican primary. Like whether or not it was a good idea for the Obama administration — with GOP help — to bail out financiers, businesses and banks with billions of borrowed taxpayer dollars.

And let’s skip the attempts to lay the New Market Tax Credit program solely at the feet of the governor. The Press Herald pointed out that your Democratic leader, Emily Cain, sponsored the bill, while a majority of your Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate voted in favor. How about both sides learn their lesson and get out of the tax credit and government grant game?

Cynthia: The Cate Street deal was the governor’s baby, Mike. The “bill” that set the stage for the tax deal was sponsored by Senate President Kevin Raye, but then it was later rolled into the biennial budget and signed by Paul LePage. We the People now have the “opportunity” to pay Wall Street investors millions of dollars of our tax money while we’re stuck with a vacant mill and picking up the tab for the polluted Dolby landfill that contains toxic waste generated at the now-defunct mill. Maine under LePage is “business friendly”, indeed!

The Obama administration bailout deals, on the other hand, were buttoned up enough so almost all money lent by taxpayers has been repaid — with interest — and Americans are earning a profit on their investment.

And that’s why we need Hillary in the White House and not some wet-behind-the-ears frat boy harping about being “business friendly.”

Mike: Except that the political push for “profit” from the misadventure may mean Fannie and Freddie will require another bailout in the near future. And state public pension funds got whacked by being forced to accept nickels on the dollar. And the fact that taxpayers paid interest on the original principal amounts while frugal households receive almost no return on their savings, or that we have incentivized future bad behavior, or any of the other negative repercussions.

But all of those costs don’t hit the financial statements, so they must not exist. Like Greece’s debt. Or Hillary’s emails.

Cynthia: Or any big ideas from Republicans about how to fix the economy so it works for regular people and their families. You say a little competition is good for presidential politics, but how has it helped Republicans? From my view, it’s a spectacle seeing these guys strut and preen before the NRA, the Koch brothers’ super PACs and the religious right competing to be the most radically right-wing of the pack to get a check.

Mike: How do you fault an economy that isn’t working for “regular people” while praising the Obama administration for “jump-starting the economy for American families?” No wonder the Democrats don’t need multiple candidates — Hillary can debate herself!

Meanwhile, if all people see is strutting and preening, then they are not paying attention. There are significant differences between Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and all the other candidates. The question for the GOP is: who can carry the big pole of the big tent?

Cynthia: That’s the question for Republicans? Which guy has the biggest pole? No wonder people aren’t paying attention.

Clearly there are differences between national policy and state policy that impacts families. The White House has a hand in regulating Wall Street, managing programs like Medicare, Social Security and Obamacare, and making decisions about fighting wars and immigration. On these issues, Obama, Hillary and the Democrats have helped American families.

Maine policies pertaining to New Market Tax Credits, whether to expand Medicaid or raise the minimum wage under the LePage administration have not helped regular people and their families.

But do tell us, Mike. Who’s your favorite?

Mike: It is too early for favorites. I like some of Jindal’s wonky ideas, while Cruz and Paul are correct in returning power to the states and Walker and Christie both know how to “git’r’dun.” Fortunately, we will get to see each candidate make their arguments before anyone needs to decide. But since we seem to know who the Democrat is, which Republican could conceivably win your vote?

Cynthia: Hmm. Let’s see. “Louisiana’s budget is hemorrhaging red ink,” thanks to Jindal and getting worse. He inherited a $900 million surplus when he became governor, and now his state is facing deficits of more than $1 billion, thanks to “wonky” tricks and gimmicks. So he’s out.

Ted Cruz is way too slick, shut down the government and loves the soundtrack from Les Miserables. Enough said.

And Jeb Bush isn’t really running, apparently. He’s delegating that job to a super PAC.

So other than my father, Sen. Collins looks like the only Republican who could conceivably win my vote at this point.

Mike: So you’re saying there’s a chance? Unlike Hillary’s emails, let’s hope it doesn’t disappear!