Why not Judd Gregg for president?
Already, potential presidential candidates looking at 2012 are lining up. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and, of course, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin are being mentioned.This has me thinking about the qualities that make a good candidate for president, especially given recent criticism of President Obama that he lacked experience and on-the-job training.First, a president needs Washington experience. The issues facing the federal government are different from those facing states, cities and counties, and mere experience as a governor (especially two years of a four-year term, in Palin’s case) do not give national experience dealing with the issues a president faces.Next, a president should have executive experience. Service as a corporate executive or governor is helpful because presidents, like governors, have to deal with budgets, various department heads, policy issues, hard choices and provide actual administration. Legislators, while familiar with the issues, usually do not have this kind of experience. Also, looking at a candidate’s record in office as a governor is a good guide to the ability of the candidate to serve as an executive.Also, it is helpful if a president served as a legislator and knows the details of drafting, analyzing and implementing legislation.Finally, and perhaps most important, is intelligence, a clear and known philosophy (not ideology), judgment and experience.Taking all of those characteristics into account, it occurs to me that New Hampshire’s retiring U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg fits all of the criteria well. Gregg was an executive councilor, congressman, two-term governor during difficult economic times and served three terms in the U.S. Senate, where he was in influential and responsible positions.*****Gregg combines the desired traits and experience like no other person being mentioned. Palin was a governor for two years and a failed vice presidential candidate. She is now a media phenomenon. Gingrich was a member of Congress and speaker of the House and is obviously intelligent but has no executive experience. Huckabee was a governor but has no Washington experience and, frankly, has some fairly quirky ideas. Romney was a one-term governor but lacks Washington experience.Gregg is not afraid to speak his mind, regardless of the ideology of the moment. His pronouncements about the TARP program and its quality, cost and effect were refreshing compared to the “pile-on” mentality displayed by Republican candidates during the 2010 election, when they all claimed they would not have voted for the TARP Program that undoubtedly they would have voted in favor of had they been in the Congress at the time.Also, Gregg is not afraid to tackle budget issues and was one of the first sitting officeholders to endorse the report of the recent deficit commission on which he served.Recently, Gregg has been rumored to be in contention for the presidency of The Business Roundtable, an industry organization in Washington representing large corporations in their dealings with the federal government. The fact that he would be mentioned for such a prestigious position shows the respect business leaders have in him and their estimate that he can get things done, working both with Republicans and Democrats.The same evaluation was made by Gregg’s colleagues in the U.S. Senate when they elected him to leadership positions repeatedly. President Obama briefly selected Gregg to be his secretary of Commerce before that appointment fell apart. The laudatory comments by Republicans and Democrats at the time were instructive.Gregg is a respected conservative without being ideological about it, knows what he thinks, knows how to apply it practically, and knows how to deviate from a playbook when crises arise.His cumulative experience comes from a career in which he performed each job better than the last, showing his ability to grow, develop and lead.So, when considering what kind of candidate we should want to have run for president in 2012, instead of those who indicate they want to (and that in itself may be a disqualifying factor!), I come to this conclusion: Judd Gregg for president in 2012.Of course, Senator Gregg probably would not agree with the final conclusion of this column and certainly has not suggested it. Perhaps, someone should suggest it to him.Brad Cook is a shareholder in the Manchester law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green and heads its government relations and estate planning groups. He also serves as secretary of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire.