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What issues will ultimately decide the Republican nomination?
January 10th, 2012
03:45 PM ET

What issues will ultimately decide the Republican nomination?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

What issues will decide GOP nomination? Economy, foreign policy, health care?

As the Republican candidates for president scramble to try to win their party's nomination, they're appealing to voters on a wide range of issues - everything from the economy to foreign policy.

But the candidate that Republicans wind up choosing may say a lot about what issue matters most.

Recent polls show that Americans on the whole are overwhelmingly concerned about the economy, citing issues like high unemployment and the deficit.

Other top concerns include health care, entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare and the threat from terrorism.

Further down the list are taxes, the size of government, illegal immigration, foreign policy and moral issues like abortion and gay marriage. The so-called wedge issues that always play a large role in the primaries.

If Mitt Romney turns out to be the Republican nominee - as many people expect - to some extent, his support could come from voters who see his business background as a strength in turning around the economy.

Of course all the Republicans have been vocal in slamming President Obama's economic policies.

When it comes to foreign policy, Ron Paul has strong views against the wars and a more isolationist perspective than the other candidates. Jon Huntsman also comes to the table with his experience as ambassador to China.

On health care, Romney could have a difficult time opposing President Obama's health care law due to a similar law he supported as governor of Massachusetts.

As for social issues, Rick Santorum is appealing to social conservatives in large part based on issues like gay marriage and abortion.

Here’s my question to you: What issues will ultimately decide the Republican nomination?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • GOP • GOP Ticket • Republican Party • Republicans
soundoff (133 Responses)
  1. MARK, OKLAHOMA CITY

    Issues? Are you kidding, Jack? Since when have "issues" had anything to do with picking a candidate? The only "issue" that matters is which candidate has enough money to run the most negative ads against their opponents.

    January 10, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  2. Russ in PA

    Unfortunately the important issues – endless wars, endless spending, loss of liberties – aren't being discussed by any one but Ron Paul. The rest of the candidates are willing to pander to neocons and the media, and anxious to show that they represent the "electable" mainstream. The loss will be ours.

    Ron Paul in 2012...

    January 10, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  3. TomInRochNY

    If they're smart, JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!

    January 10, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  4. Wayne Bailey

    With the state of our nation, I think that it is who is ever dumbest to try to take on the problems.. then we will be in worse shape than when Bush was in there

    January 10, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  5. Annie, Atlanta

    #1 issue – Hate for President Obama.

    January 10, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  6. David R Bebeau,Springfield Missouri

    Jack,I would say it would be which one the people trust to keep their promises.And I am saying that on shaky ground
    because the field is a bit thin.
    David

    January 10, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  7. John from Alabama

    Jack: The economy stupid will be the deciding issue for the GOP. It will be the issue the Democrats will run on, because the GOP and its Tea Party Wing have done nothing in Congress to improve the economy. Experts say that alot of people are more optmistic about the economy, and unemployment will drop, but it will go up some, but the trend is for better times for all Americans.

    January 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  8. Teddy Nganga

    Propaganda and personal agendas. Most Republicans nowadays have a personal agenda for themselves and their corporations. It is hard to see a Republican winning the nomination who is not for the big corporations and is actually there to help the average day American. GO OBAMA!!!

    January 10, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  9. Jk from Minnesota

    The one with the most money in their warchest and the least amount of scandal or bad gaffes. It's the sad reality of the American political landscape.

    January 10, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  10. phil, georgia

    Where's the tea party??? For the primaries they wanted a cleansing with all far right conservatives. Now that mitt Romney is leading, a record of being liberal moderate, you don't see none of their buses protesting. They throw all of their morals, values, polices out the window just for the chance of power. Mitt does not relate to the people, him saying I love firing people was a slip of what he really feels. Anytime mitt is off script his true feelings show how out of touch he is.

    January 10, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  11. Conor in Chicago

    There are no "issues" that will determine this primary. Only money determines primaries and elections-especially after Citizens United. Romney has a personal fortune the size of some African countries and every 1%er in the world knows that he will emobolden and impower them in a way the human race has never seen in history so they will support him tooth and nail.

    Romney is already our next President. The bill has already been paid. Wall Street got the memo 3 years ago. China got the memo 3 years ago. The rest is a formality.

    Just wait until Romney gets to classify OWS as a terrorist organization under the new NDAA act. Don't think he will? Listent to him speak for 20 minutes...

    January 10, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  12. Karl in Flint

    No issues will really decide the nomination. The issues will be the same old tired wedge issues they dredge up every election to get the homophobic, Evangelical wing-nuts to vote for them. The nominee will be decided when the old money GOP Billionaires, with a "B", whom we have heard nothing from so far, tell the wannabee GOP clown Millionaires, with an "M", who they are backing. End of discussion.

    January 10, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  13. tom bulger, Canandaigua, NY

    Perceived electability, perceived competence, perceived distance from the Tea Party (Pew research poll found TP unpopular in even Republican districts). Romney has researched what the electorate is looking for and he has chameleoned himself into the research result. He wants to win.

    January 10, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  14. sarah-Dumfries ,VA

    Everyone thinks is JOBS but none of them can creat jobs ,they messed up the economy & now that things are getting better, they want to go back & mess it up again,GOD will NEVER choose a mormon to lead

    January 10, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  15. Steve

    Issues? "...we don't need any sticking issues..." who's got the most money after after tonight, that will be the only issue.

    January 10, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  16. Bizz, Quarryville Pennsylvania

    The main issues in the presidential election will be the economy and going to war. But for a Republican to win the party's nomination you have to be against gay marriage, abortion, protecting the 1% at all costs from paying their fair share and in favor of attacking Iran and going back into Iraq. If a Republican candidate was to show any flip-flopping or weakness on any of these issues they will lose the nomination.

    January 10, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  17. Steve, NY

    The issue that ultimately will decide who will win the Republican Primary will come down to who has the best chance to beat Obama. When the voters finally come to their senses that is what will happen. You need a smooth charismatic candidaste. Sure as hell Ron Paul and Gingrich are not too charismatic. You have only 2 choises Romney and Huntsman.
    Obama is a good speaker when he has notes and his telepromter, but when he has to answer questions he stumbles and he he-haws. While Romney is quick and has good voice delivery. The part that is controvercial is that the Democrats know that Romney is smooth and therfore are afrasid of him. The Democratic leaning Independents have the right to vote in a Primary in New Hampshire. These are the voters that can vote for a weak Republican looser so that Obama can have the edge in November. There should be a rule that states that registered Democrats as well as registered Republicans can only vote for their party in the Primaries. In New York State an Independent can not vote in a Primary.

    January 10, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  18. Bill of New Mexico

    Repeal of Obama Care
    which is problematic for both Romney and Newt.

    Iraan's nuclear achievements
    which will have the flavor of a "wild card."

    The Republican nomination may yet be unsettled.

    .

    January 10, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  19. bonnie from NJ

    RNC knows that most of these people have no chance of beating Obama, so that will be the deciding issue, who has the best shot.

    January 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  20. Doug Ericson

    What nomination? Mitt Romney was chosen by the Republican Establishment bosses over a year ago. Doug, Pepperell, MA

    January 10, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  21. Wilhelm von Nord Bach

    once the Religious Right and Tea Party all sober up, it will be "ELECTABILITY", Jack.

    Willard "Mitt" Romney probably has the best chance against Obama BUT to quote the late, great Governor Ann Richards from Texas, "he was BORN with a SILVER FOOT in his MOUTH".

    January 10, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  22. Jeff in Bishop, Georgia

    jobs... Jobs... JOBS

    January 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  23. K. Williams. from da Bronx

    Jack,republicans don't really care about issues right now ! They could. careless. There main focus is getting President Obama out of the white house they would run Satin. If they were assured he would win

    January 10, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  24. Bert from L.A.

    Hi Jack, Iowa Republicans have already answered what it will take to decide the Republican nomination. The candidate must espouse the ideals of Romney, Santorum and Paul by being one third corporatists, one third Christian fundamentalist, one third modern Confederate and 100% white male with no preception about the demographics of 2008.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  25. Dan from Stewartstown PA

    With any luck, the issues that will decide the GOP nominee will be who will help America the most, not who will help themselves or their financial backers the most. Due to the Baine debate, it sounds as if most of the Republican candidates are telling the truth, that unregulated venture capitalists are doing more to harm our nation's manufacturing and financial might are doing the our country a disservice. After all, the "Golden Rule" is not supposed to mean that he who has the gold, makes the rules.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  26. Burt in Az

    The best swift boater will get the nomination.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  27. Jayne in NH

    I still think the party will split. The most divisive and hateful will back a far right candidate and the sanest of the lot will fall behind Romney. Issues have nothing to do with it.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  28. Dave - Phx

    Whatever it is, it will have nothing to do with making America a better place for everyone.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  29. Pete from Florida

    Both the Republican nomination and the general election, like virtually ALL national elections, will be decided by big money, negative ads, politicians' lies, and the ignorance and gullibility of millions of voters. The issues don't really matter, as the facts get buried under all the rhetoric, most of it incorrect, misleading, and/or downright dishnoest.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  30. Richard, in Kansas

    The republican nomination wont be decided by issues, it will go to the candidate who promises to be the farthest to the right and panders to the extremes of their party just like always. Theyve created a party where purity of thought and loyalty to party trumps everything else as if the more "conservative " you are the more right and just you are and any hint of moderation is pounced on as weakness. Call a republican candidate a "moderate republicaan" and watch him recoil and and ramble off a list of his "conservative" bona fides.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  31. Kenneth in California

    Jack, I think it will always be the economy, especially jobs. The candidate who puts his focus on that will get the attention of the electorate. PAYCHECKS are more important that abortion, gay marriage, family values, foreign policy, terror, or whatever. No job or the fear of losing one transcends all other issues.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  32. Tom in Desoto, Tx

    Issues be damned. Just smile nice for the camera and spew empty platitudes and verbal bumper stickers and promise the moon and blame everyone else. Make sure you have a family portrait on display. I think most voters know more about the "reality TV people" than anything about the politicians beyond sound bites.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  33. Jeanne

    Issues? What does issues have to do with this? It's about money Jack, plain and simple. North Augusta, SC

    January 10, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  34. TOM TYSKIEWICZ

    as always Jack, who has the most money to flood the airways with lies & propaganda.

    tom, forest hills, pa

    January 10, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  35. Brad, Portland, OR

    Whoever is the most intolerant social conservative without being a Mormon will win the Republican nomination.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  36. Richard Texas

    Well Jack to be honest it is no longer abut the economy. People have already written the economy off. Gasoline prices are through the roof, our unemployment rate is still way too high. Our debt is so enormous that we can never pay it off. Our credit rating is in the toilet and our politicians are too busy getting elected and re-elected to do anything about it.
    Both political parties are controlled by lobbyists and a popular peoples vote in America means absolutely nothing. An electoral college of a select few delegates get to decide who gets elected president. The republicans have no one running that can actually beat Obama so the rest of us are all along for the ride and it is going to be a bumpy one at that.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  37. Pete/Ark

    Jack if I knew the answer to that I'd be looking for a bookie to take my bet. The decision will be based on who survives thier scandels,misstatements,and other mistakes. It'll be "Survivor D.C.".

    January 10, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  38. Noel Sivertson New Mexico

    I don't really know. It depends on who wins the struggle between the Tea partiers and those Republicans who have had enough of their party being hijacked.

    I, myself, and many Republicans I know have bolted the party and become independents out of disgust of the inability of the Republican leadership to control their teen-age delinquents.

    The only thing that would bring me back into the fold i a candidate like Jon Huntsman. But I doubt he can survive the frenzy of 'eating their young'.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  39. Janne from NC

    economy economy economy and oh by the way, economy

    January 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  40. Ed from California

    Who's going to give the Koch brothers the biggest tax deduction. I'm sorry..... I mean the rich, or the "Job Creators"......albeit, those jobs are being created in communist China!

    January 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  41. Ray Richardson

    Any negative issue will do, it's only a question of which Super PAC has the most money to pay for the ads to bring down the candidate in front of him. The latest example is Romney's Super PAC against Gingrich. It was no contest.
    Ray Greenfield, Indiana

    January 10, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  42. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    It's not about issues with the RNC, it's about defeating the President and that's been the Republicans goal since January of 2009. They don't really care about the middle class or anyone that has less than several millions. What's sad about this is we know they don't care.

    January 10, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  43. jen - seattle

    electabillity... republicans and democrats ping pong thier powermongering wants while bad trad policy empowers the 3rd world . at the demise of our way of life ,saturated with inebriats and drug pushers who get a pass from the liberals.

    January 10, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  44. Kim , Dodge City, Kansas

    Money. It always comes down to money. This should not be a problem for Republicans, since they make up the majority of the wealthy in this country. And Republicans will need to spend alot if they want to buy the biggest and best political whores that money can buy. I seriously doubt if we will ever see someone elected based solely on their principles, character, and ability to lead. Too bad for America.

    January 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  45. David of Alexandria, VA

    The key issues will be who has the clearest vision for leading America back to the top of the world economy. That would include real leadership, demostrated results through collaboration, jobs across all sectors, a rational federal budget, and absolute honesty about what is entailed to accomplish that. It does not include devisive rhetoric, class warfare, and half-truths. We can argue about wealth disparity, abortion, and every other social issue until the Chinese collapse from laughing. At the end of the day, money may not buy happiness - but it gives you the choice about how miserable you want to be in your own skin.

    January 10, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  46. Michael Bindner, Alexandria, VA

    The ability of candidates to organize the party and to raise funds to do so. Since what the party wants is electability, the choice seems obvious, or did until we found out that Bain Capital files taxes offshore. If this blows up in Romney's face, possiblly the issue will be finding someone who does not seem corrupt.

    January 10, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  47. Sylvia from San Diego

    The economy and reforming the tax system. These should be the highest priority iissues on everyones mind. Our country is still racking up major deficits and the tax burden on those of us who are working, is unsustainable.

    January 10, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  48. Raj

    economy, war with Iran

    January 10, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  49. Kevin in CA

    Money, money, money ... and the winner is – Romney !

    January 10, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  50. Southern Lady

    As an Independent voter, the Republicans have so savaged each other and the information revealed tells me that none of them, with the exception of Jon Huntsman, has the qualifications, intelligence and love of country over party to occupy the White House. My vote goes to the most qualified to run the country – President Obama. And, when reelecting the President, if we can send the Tea Party Republicans in the House packing and replace them with Republican statesman like those that once were the Republican party, then, perhaps, they will work with the President to get the county back on track. The currect crop of Tea Party Republicans have done everything possible to stall the country's recovery and they will do so as long as they are in office. Let's send them back to their districts where they will have to explain their behavior to their neighbors. A little tar and feathers might be nice!

    January 10, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  51. Jenna Roseville CA

    What issues will ultimately decide the Republican nomination?

    The only 'issue' that Republicans are interested in is overthrowing Obama. They have proven over the past 3 years that they are willing to let America and Americans fail just for that issue alone. From day one Mitch McConnell announced that he and the GOP would NOT work with this president (Obama).

    Sadly for them not only is Obama is going to win a re-election, Americans are going to vote out all the do nothing Republicans and give the Democrats a Super Majority so that the real work can get done.

    Jenna
    Roseville CA

    January 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  52. rex in portland, oregon

    The single most important plank in the republican platform is now, was since reagan, and will be until disaster strikes, the continuation of free-market trickle-down non-regulated rich-controlled faith-based friedmann-inspired oft-disproved still-believed ill-conceived self-serving me-first economic policies. Any other stupid questions for today?

    January 10, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  53. Paul - North Carolina

    Everyone knows that Republicans don't know anything about economics; they still think that cutting taxes increases revenue. So enough of them will be duped into believing that Romney does know something about the economy because of his so-called business experience to get him nominated. Soon afterward they'll learn that all Willard really knows is how to suck cash out of ailing companies, cut jobs and benefits, sell off assets and then wrap the carcass in a shiny new package which is sold off to the highest bidder. Hopefully enough people in the general electorate will see through his facade and not let him anywhere near the White Houe.

    January 10, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  54. Terry Wells -Hoosier Hillbilly-Greensburg,IN

    Listen 'real close' to Ron Paul and he'll explain it all to you Jack. Be sure to keep an open mind and don't cut him off short,he starts at the end and works toward the beginning. However that does not mean as president, he won't first explain the what, whys, and wherefores before he does something...bet your not use to that after the last 2 presidents, RIGHT? Maybe he won't make the best president "WE" ever had-don't think he wants to be-his goal is to get things back to statis-quo keeping in mind: of the people, by the people, for the people and his "heart" is set on that goal.

    January 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  55. dave in nashville

    Intelligence, integrity and experience, something Huntsman has all of, not to mention a hot wife and three daughters. I like the guy, he could be the best bipartisan president ever and capable of speaking one on one with the Chinese who is our real threat.

    January 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  56. Fay in Abilene Tx

    Electability will rule in the end.

    January 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  57. Billy

    All topics will be on the table for the candidates. It's just according to whom they are talking to at the time. These topics are like the flavor of the day. Pandering for votes is the candidates main issue, everything else comes second.

    January 10, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  58. David from Herndon, VA

    Same issue it's been from the very beginning. Who can say the craziest, most reckless, most hateful thing about some tangential issue while totally ignoring actual solutions to the problem of no jobs.

    January 10, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  59. Sandstone.

    "I think my views would rely more on: 'Why do you want this position?' What is your reason for thinking you be better at this job than any of the others? (Same questions as any normal employer asks)."

    January 10, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  60. Larry -Denver

    Lets see, not the economy, not foreign policy, not unemployment. I think its abortion, contraception, who likes to fire people and who is the crook who can do the least amount of damage. I think i have this figured out. The Republicans make a sacrifical lamb knowing they will lose in 2012 to get ready for the big new push in 2016. Have you heard any issues come forth from anyone seeking the nomination? I listend to three today saying nothing but how to attack the others.

    January 10, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  61. calaurore9

    It's already decided. It's going to be Zzzomney. Snoozer all summer.

    Carol in Northampton Ma

    January 10, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  62. Ann from Charleston SC

    I don't think any of the issues you name will have any meaning until we do something about the gridlock. Until we clean out Congress, the candidates issues are meaningless.

    January 10, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  63. Pete in Georgia

    Really, there is only ONE issue.
    To select a candidate who can beat the current inhabitant of the White House.........................and save this country from complete collapse and disintegration.
    A simple issue.....................a difficult task when you consider the gullible American electorate being deceived daily by a massive biased main stream media giving aid to the master deceiver of the ages................the current imposter president.
    This will probably be the most important presidential election in the history of America.

    January 10, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  64. Paul From Austin Texas

    No issues will decide the Republican Candidate it will be just who comes out with the best smoke and mirriors to get the the top spot. All of them seem to way for to weak to beat a wet noodle.

    January 10, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  65. Dave, Orlando, FL

    The Republican who promises to give banks, corporations, Wall Street and the wealthiest Americans a tax rate of zero or lower, while cutting SS, Medicare, welfare and as many jobs as possible will win the nomination by a landslide. But that candidate will have a tough time against Obama who has already done all of that.

    January 10, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  66. Robby Barbarian

    Whoever said the republicans cared about the issues? That's a joke,right Jack?

    January 10, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  67. Jim, Denver CO

    Jack,

    It isn't a question of what issue decides who gets the nomination. It is both a question of who is the biggest evangelical right wing wingnut, and gets the most money from the various PAC's and Super PAC's. Until Citizens United is reversed the elections will be bought by the highest bidder.

    January 10, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  68. Sandra Jordan

    Issues have nothing to do with the Republican nomonation. As far as I can tell, they agree on everything.
    They all want to strip social security and medicare for the old, eliminate any kind of help for the poor, strip unions
    in order to lower wages even more for the working class, start another war, and give corporations and the filthy rich their free ride because they earned it .
    Republicans will pick who they always pick. The richest, whitest, male, homophobe in the running. That appears
    to be Mitt Romney, but only because he is the richest.

    Sandra Jordan
    Bonham, Tx

    January 10, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  69. Ed in California

    As Independents it would be nice if the Republicans offered a viable alternative to Obama. Unfortunately, the radical right has adopted a anyone but Romney attitude. I fear the fundamentalist far right in the party may influence the primaries and nominate someone who meets their extreme agenda. You know, anti gay, anti abortion, anti anything but Christianity. Such a candidate won't be electable. Hoping they get divine guidance!!!

    January 10, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  70. Gail, Plano TX.

    The Republican nomination will cone down to one issue, and only one. That is, who can beat President Obama? Who can villify the President the most? Who can smear him with their hate? That is all they care about. Issues, smissues, none matter. They care nothing about the poor nor the middle class. It is all smoke & mirrors to hide their only objective. Let me say here, they don't have a prayer. We see their deceit and hate! The President will be re- elected. The American people are not stupid!

    January 10, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  71. Richard C.

    Simple question, simple answer; stop going after each other and concentrate on Obama's failed regime. If he is re-elected as a lame duck, the country will never recover.
    Malvern, PA.

    January 10, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  72. deborah ballweg Seibert, co

    It will be "electability". If we cannot secure the Whte House, our country is toast. Obama will push full force toward socialism.

    January 10, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  73. marybeth, massachusetts

    Jack,

    It should be the economy and jobs, but it won't. The reason is because the GOP is the party of the mega wealthy, and for them, the economy is doing just fine. Millions of jobs outsourced to China, India, Mexico benefits them. Millions of Americans out of work here benefits them. They don't want the economy to improve, so what will determine the republican nominee will be the same old wedge issues that they so love–religion, abortion, birth control, don't ask, don't tell, guns, gay marriage.

    Funny how all of them are preaching small government, no regulations, but when it comes to the most personal, most private decisions of all, they want the biggest government and to restrict our rights.

    January 10, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  74. Renee Peoria,Ill

    It's already a moot point. The Republicans have given us a circus P.T. Barnum couldn't sell tickets to. Between the lies, the hypocrisy, the nastiness, and the total lack of empathy for anyone without money they've already decided for me; I'm voting for Obama.

    January 10, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  75. Cy Gardner

    Once the primary season gets past Iowa and South Carolina, voters who want a slim chance at winning will outnumber Republicans who are proud to be crazy. Those primaries will be decided on electability. Mitt will be the lesser of various evils. cy from arlington, va

    January 10, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  76. Mitoosense Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    I expect most people will vote against Obama and hisEmployer Based Health Care extorsion. Mitt Romney made a career sending jobs overseas. Mitt should know how to bring them back

    January 10, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  77. Ken - Kingsport, TN

    The Republican Party is made up of the 1% and the under-educated. Period. Greed rules the day within the 1%, while the under-educated are brain washed into buying that which their party is selling to them – slavery. There is no issue that will settle the nomination. The nomination will be settled the old fashioned way, which is the person with the biggest war chest wins via the airwaves. The DNC is pretty much run the same way. You find an elite with little morals and the ability to lie, then promote some fictitious drivel to the sheep while they continue to pillage the country. It is commonly referred to as Plutocracy. There is no single winning issue within either party except Greed for power and money.

    January 10, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  78. Cy Gardner

    The entire reason for the existence of the Republican Party is to prevent rich people from having to pay any taxes or obey any laws. You can't really tell people that. So the candidates will compete to see who can come up with the most extreme polar opposite positions from anything the President of the United States does. If Obama gets his teeth cleaned, Newt will get his teeth pulled. When Obama starts kissing babies, Ron Paul will start tossing them at passing cars. If Obama tries to maintain peace, all the candidates will beat the drums for war, any war. Look out Canada! These are not candidates that anyone with a high school education could take seriously. cy from arlington, va

    January 10, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  79. jim

    Jack, with everything you have seen in your 20+ years of reporting and your ability to tell it like it is, maybe you should give some thought to running for president. I'd vote for you regardless of what party you were in.

    January 10, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  80. Gary - Woodhaven, Michigan

    It doesn't matter.

    Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, tea party or occupy, as long as we allow absolute ideologies to continue to build higher and higher walls, we can never have true freedom.

    My hope is one day there will be a leader who will turn her or his back on these santomonious and absolute ideologies and simply choose and then institute all the best ideas no matter the ideology, then will we begin to be really free and have a deep democracy by knocking down these confining walls.

    January 10, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  81. Richard C.

    The Republican nomination will result in the failure of the Obama administration. It continues to spiral downward. Because of that, the next few months will determine the best Republican nominee that can point out the reasons why Obama should not be re-elected. The one that can properly state the obvious alternatives to a failed economy, foreign policy and obese government will win the nomination. I believe it will be Romney.
    Malvern, PA.

    January 10, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  82. Mr D

    Probably none of the above. Not if the Republicans expect to win in the Fall. They will need someone to come in from the "bull pen" and bail them out. Don't know if there is such a person. It's Obama's to lose.

    January 10, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  83. andyz Lynn, MA

    Jobs, Iran, and the return to prosperity for ALL Americans.

    January 10, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  84. Thinkforyourself, OK

    The issue should and will be what the United States will look like in 5 years if Obama is left in the Oval Office to destroy it further. NO president in my 60 years has so divided this country into Black/White, Rich/Poor, Owner/Renter, Union/Private, and so on. Only God can save this country from the idiots who think they know what you need more than you do. The Democrat Liberal Progressives, seek to become the Elite Rulers of common man, and just like Marxist Socialist, they will make life miserable for us all.

    January 10, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  85. craig in South Carolina

    who's got the most money is the question that should be asked!

    January 10, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  86. Arlene, Roselle, Illinois

    Jack, there are no issues for the Republican White party. Haven't 14 debates told us enought
    which way this party is headed? The best one I heard is when Perry said we should send troops
    back into Iraq. Only agree with him if they all come from Texas.

    January 10, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  87. Kevin in CA

    All the really important issues like gay marriage, birth certificates, Michelle Obama hair style, etc.

    January 10, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  88. Cliff Glass - Rego Park, New York

    There's only 1 issue for most Republicans. Whomever shows the most visceral, irrational hatred of President Obama will get the nomination.

    January 10, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  89. Steve, Clifton, Virginia

    It's been decided already. It's Romney's turn and he's a white male.

    January 10, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  90. Martha Campbell

    The most important issue will be MONEY. Who will have the most money to buy the presidency.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  91. Nick Vaughn

    The economy and state of the nation. I think that Gov. Mitt Romney is the best candidate to go up against Pres. Obama and win the general election.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  92. Andrew

    Economic and Governmental issues are going to decide the nomination, and ultimately the election as well. The social conservatives like Santorum might get some traction in mostly-conservative states such as Iowa and South Carolina, but they're not likely to generate that level of support in the socially-moderate, fiscally-conservative minds. And even if they did, those stances would get them decimated against Obama.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  93. Robert Read

    Jack, Who Cares! Except you people of the Media.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  94. Sam Newton, West Hartford, CT

    Jack, I hate to talk down to you, but, it's the economy, stupid.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  95. Kyle, McHenry, Illinois

    The EcoRomney of course. Oops, I didn't mean to inject my own personal opinion of who I believe the ultimate Republican nominee will be come November.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  96. Tammy--Hot Springs, AR

    What will ultimately decide the Republican nomination has nothing to do with issues but everything to do with political posturing and the willingness of the candidate to prostitute himself to corporate America. When was the last time "we the people" were actually heard in Washington? Not in my lifetime.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  97. Charlie Finn

    I think the two main things voters are concerned about are the economy and the wars.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  98. Joe in Garner, NC

    Issues don't matter. Romney will be the nominee. None of the others have enough money to go the distance.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  99. Pat Wilson, Virginia

    We can live with all of the candidates stands on the major issues. We will nominate the person who we feel has the best chance to defeat president Obama.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  100. Abe M Silva

    Who can reach across the isle and work with the Democrats the best. Americans are tired of the divisiveness in Washington as shown by some of the lowest approval ratings for Congress. Who can lead the GOP so that they can play ball?

    January 10, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  101. Lamar

    What issues will decide? Issues no longer decide who the Republican nominee is! Brainwashed hoards of "zombie voters" do, and they are little more than a collective acting as they are directed by the likes of "their leader" in "the bunker", (a reference to the cult leader Mark Levin), and Glenn Beck nation, Sean Hannity's great American's and the like! The inability for people to think for themselves has us being told we now must consider Gingrich, Romney, and Santorum "Tea Party!"
    REALLY? Wake up people before it's too late because one thing is for sure! You WILL get the government you DESERVE!

    January 10, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  102. Nathaniel Ryan Hamrick

    Voter from Alabama.

    Studying the economy, I understand that foreign policy should highly concern Americans right now. Being a primary cause of tremendous debt, it is to no doubt that a strong leave from the wars, that is, Paul's isolationism, will solve huge monetary issues. I encourage political pundits to ask doctors in economics what kind of benefits the nation would receive from Paul's spending cuts in terms of foreign war technology. The tremendous amount of saved tax dollars can easily add more bang to the American's buck, enriching the lives of Americans, while at the same time:
    Paul's foreign policy is endorsed by former Central Intelligence Agents who guarantee that Paul's route to foreign policy is the safest. You can use a search engine for that last bit of information.

    My entire family and all my friends will be supporting Paul this year.

    I encourage any friends who have read this message to do the same.

    By the way, Mr. Cafferty, much respect due to you for giving the public a chance to speak! God Bless America, God Bless Ron Paul!

    January 10, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  103. Jim P

    Money, whoever spend the most!

    January 10, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  104. Vince Hugh

    Jack, it isn't a single issue or even two issues that will decide the Republican nomination. But rather a combination of just about every issue you mentioned that lean towards conservative economic and social values. Republicans are very much in touch with 'middle America' and favor all things such as immigration, spending controls, prayer allowed in schools, conservative Supreme Court Justices and more. Its a combo of all, and whichever candidate carries them all forward the best will be the accumulative winner.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  105. Michael in Albuquerque, NM

    Statesmanship vs. Crazy/foolish/hatefull and stupid.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  106. Ken

    According to Joe Biden, the issue is a three letter word – jobs, jobs,jobs, jobs – but wait! Isn't that a four letter word? In any event, biden has stumbled onto the truth. It's all about jobs, economic growth instead of stagnation, and the voter's pocketbook.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  107. Alex in Wisconsin

    Clearly, the Republicans only want a candidate who will bash Obama, beat Obama, and undo everything Obama did. After that, its just abortion-restrictions, deregulation, unfunded wars, tax cuts for the upper class, and the reinstatement of DOMA and DADT– aka everything our country had during George W Bush's 8 years. How quickly our country forgets.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  108. Name*Paul of Dayton, OH

    Jack, I don't think it will be a real issue that decides this, but rather it will be personality and persona. We need a leader, someone who can communicate, collaborate and as necessary, rally legislators to progress. It has to be someone who can take a jab and return fire to not only win a battle, but to win the war and lead us out of this unsustainable death spiral. Of the current candidates, we can only hope that one of them emerges as the leader we need.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  109. Gary from Miami

    The issues that concern voters are jobs/economy. There are no issues that mean anything to the Republicans other than win the Presidency at any cost. It'll be interesting, whoever the nominee is, if they select one of the candidates they've been bashing. Hipocrisy, rhymes with Democracy, sort of.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  110. Elizabeth in California

    With the way polls are jumping around, I think the deciding factor will be what happens just prior to each primary. That means the states that vote on super Tuesday and a few large states will have the most influence. In other words, the major crisis that happens the week before Super Tuesday will have a major influence on how people vote that day.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  111. Geoff

    Jack,

    Issues haven't mattered much in the past and this year is no exception. While it should be about improving the economy by putting people back to work, it will all come down to money and the power of negative ads. So far Romney is looking great on that front, but it doesn't mean he's right for the GOP.

    Geoff (Halifax, NS)

    January 10, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  112. Will from south dakota

    I think the economy will be the issue that determines who the nominee will be but it shouldn't. The issue that should determine the nominee is the trust deficit we have in country and the rampant corruption that controls every aspect of our political process. None of the other issues, as important as they are, can be brought under control until the corruption is dealt with. That is why I am voting for Huntsman as he is the only one who has the moral courage to even talk about this issue.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  113. joy redman

    as a female... when I hear that they can't wait to choose the next supreme court justice so that they can overturn
    roe vs wade I know that I can't vote for a republican. that is and has been their goal since roe...they continue to want
    government out of our lives...except the ones they want to rule.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  114. Jim P

    Money, Whoever spends the most!

    January 10, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  115. Denise

    I believe the main issue is the Economy which includes World Economy. I would have a hard time voting for someone who was not able to show experience in being able to talk the language needed in order to make the changes necessary for America to rise again. Romney is not that person he scares me more than any of the other candidate in regard to this issue. He is a completely clueless on how to even talk to America. Using the word "Fire" no matter what the context proves that point.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  116. mary

    What issues will ultimately deicide the republican nomination? Issues that protect the top 1% is what will decide the republican nomination.And it will all be hidden behind God and patriotism.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  117. Evangeline

    My question is, how can the American people fairly choose their nominee when they are told repeateadly by the media who the chosen one was/ is (Obama/Romney) With second place finishers, such as Ron Paul in many polls, not even mentioned but hours and hours of coverage about who the media has chosen is against the government that's for the people and by the people. Ron Paul's support is vastly greater than any of the corporate media networks admit. What are they scared of? Is the media afraid the people don't know what's best for them? Man up CNN and give Ron Paul, Huntsman and Perry more fair coverage.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  118. Louis C California

    Nothing will change in Washington no matter who gets elected. The big issue continues to be political party agendas vs. what is good for the country. Lobbyist and special interest groups must be outlawed, the only interest should be American interest. We cannot please everyone all of the time.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  119. Sue in PA

    Jack, you mention Romney's possible vulnerability on the healthcare issue, but I think he'll do fine if he gets the same media "pass" that's been given to president Obama regarding his own flip-flops. The media seems to overlook the fact that candidate Obama was emphatically AGAINST a public mandate, saying it would no more solve the healthcare crisis than mandating that people buy homes would solve homelessness. Or that as president, he declared that he would not sign a healthcare bill that did not contain a viable public option. We now know, of course, that he abandoned both of those principled positions.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  120. M Fowler

    In my opinion, the comments from Democrats and leftists are irrelevant because neither they nor most of your CNN commenters have any clue how Republicans or conservatives think or feel.

    For me the issue is who will restore the values of America which Obama and his administration have tried to transform with wealth redistribution. Enough, enough, enough. It has to stop. I want to see reforms such as reduced spending, tax reform, debt repayment, reduction of regulation, repeal of Obamacare, and downsizing of government. Obama's foreign policy is disastrous. His military instincts are frighteningly naive and it terrifies me that he has the title of Commander in Chief. He's incompetent at that job and is mostly good at giving teleprompted speeches in a very nice voice.

    Give us back our liberty and turn back the tide against Marxist/Socialist-type policies which we have allowed to occur while asleep at the wheel for so many years.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  121. Drew from PA

    Jack it's a cornucopia, we need a candidate to slim government spending and start deregulating small business to create jobs and increase manufacturing output to rival the Chinese who use oil and oil off shoots as pawns in our diplomatic Iranian conflict that may or may not be supporting terrorism that threatens the US, Israel, and all other holy beliefs in this country.... That's a mouth full.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  122. Denise

    I really don't understand why so many think that Romney is the right candidate to go up against Obama? Is it because he is tall? No Substance what so ever, all about power and then what? He will twist his opinion on a dime in order to make a dollar!

    January 10, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  123. Denise

    I really don't understand why so many think that Romney is the right candidate to go up against Obama? Is it because he is tall? No Substance what so ever, all about power and then what? He will twist his opinion on a dime in order to make a dollar!

    Denise
    Salt Lake City, Utah

    January 10, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  124. Dan fom Az.

    The issues will be the positions on creating jobs. Romney is a desperate power hungry ,political, corporate wallstreeter. Although he is a front runner, he fails to connect with people looking for work. No chance to beat the president.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  125. LStroy

    Well Mr. Cafferty I think that if a Republican can show that they have the best interest of the people at heart he or she may have a chance.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  126. Marco Lapegna

    The economy will obviously decide who the Republican candidate will be and Republicans will vote for whoever they believe will best fix it. However, people need to realize the President does not have the influence most people believe he has in shaping economic policy. Ultimately this is the job of Congress!

    Republican voters should focus on the candidate’s foreign policy view since the President is the Supreme Commander and that is an area the President clearly has influence. That’s why we should all seriously consider Ron Paul’s foreign policy since it’s the only policy that will not multiply our enemies and bankrupt us…

    January 10, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  127. Justin F

    i would have to say that a big chunk of the republican party are more concerned with forcing their own personal beleifs on the rest of the country and indeed the world than actually tackling any real issues or solving the problems.at least ron paul is fair enough to say i beleive "this", but i want the states to have the ability to decide for themselves cuz what i beleive may not be for them. every other candidate beleives in a type of blanket effect which takes away the voice of so many people. ultimately what will decide it will probably be who can fool or scare people into voting for them, but what does that say about a candidate or the mental state of the country? romney is as crooked as ever (buying up harddrives and erasing them screams cover up/corruption), santorum is anti gay,anti brown people(which im sure resonates well with the bigoted base of the party),gingrich is a huge insider who cant be trusted, perry is a joke, etc. the only one who will address the racism and economic destruction in our system and really change anything for the positive is paul. people misconstrue what he says and stands for(calling him isolationist rather than non interventionist which are far apart from each other) because they dont want people to understand his actual message. we should have peace and love. you cant have freedom for some and oppression for others because thats not freedom. how can people say that they dont want corruption or a revolving door from wallstreet to washington when so many ignorant people are saying they want a businessman to run our country?!?Those are the LAST people we should want running our country. we should also address the issue that every single president to date have all come from the same group of families. if we fought the revolution to be free of monarchs and their policies, why is it that we are still ruled by the same aristocratic bloodlines?

    January 10, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  128. Terry

    I'm sure the main issue should be the economy Jack, but the way this race is going with all the slander and negative ads, it may come down to who has the most money to continue. Edward Lewis (romney) should be in pretty good shape with all his Millionaire Moles out there.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  129. Ferris Shelton, Springfield, MA

    How can they fool enough of the 99 percenters to vote for them and allow a continuation the George W. Bush economic agenda even as they represent the interests of the 1 percenters only. Its a magic act complete with the illusion of caring for the middle-class.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  130. JackieInDallas

    Whoever is still standing after all the cuts from below, the stabs in the back, and the knees to the privates from his "friends" who are also running. In theory, it should be whoever has the most reasonable answers to the major issues facing this country - unemployment, the deficit, the locked up Congress, and a Supreme Court trying to decimate the very laws they are sworn to protect, but those won't even play a part, Jack. It is now, and seems always to be, a beauty contest of who has the prettiest promises to big business.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  131. Marco Lapegna

    Ahhhh stop calling Ron Paul an isolationist! He is a non-interventionist how many times do we have to tell CNN about this???

    Isolationists believe countries should not seek to trade with each other and put up barriers to trade. Ron Paul supports friendship, diplomacy and free trade. He also believes we should have our wars declared by Congress as stated in the Constitution. This NOT isolationism.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  132. Adnan from Connecticut

    The issue that continues to be the number one issue concerned by most Americans, the economy/jobs.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  133. Jack - Lancaster, Ohio

    Mr. Cafferty:

    The issues will be peresonal ones, when some candidate can bake an apple pie, speak of his mother (and wife) in positive loving ways and be the honest person he or she tells us they are, have been and will be. Thus the defining issue to determine the future of the greatest nation on the planet (so far) will be identified. I have to go, we got troubles right here in river city.

    January 10, 2012 at 5:55 pm |