Three scary men

When the guy who's seen as the moderate in the top three polling candidates to be the Republican nominee proudly states on his website he values "protecting the sacred rights of America's gun owners", and his contribution to the most recent Presidential debate was the observation that America should be putting more people into Guantanamo rather than emptying it out, it's easy to see why the rest of us should be worried about this American election.

Marco Rubio is being touted as the moderate Republican of the top three. But from my perspective, all of them, Trump, Cruz and Rubio, are scary. They all believe in unrestricted gun ownership, they're all in favour of winding back women's reproductive freedoms, and when you look through their policy positions there's really not much to separate them.

Those three top Republicans are all just downright scary.

Ted Cruz favours the death penalty, would allow abortion only when the mother's life was at risk, and is a dedicated opponent of federal health insurance support, although it was rather embarrassingly pointed out recently that while his wife was employed at Goldman Sachs he had the benefit of being on her health insurance plan.

Obviously a brilliant lawyer, he is strongly disliked by his colleagues (think the Cunliffe Experiment anyone?). Being detested by your colleagues is a revealing sign. It's like siblings, they always know where the dead bodies are buried.

Donald Trump's equally misogynistic. His inability to deal with a competent female journalist in Megyn Kelly has been well canvassed. His comment when she bested him by asking a very reasonable question and his later comments that she had blood coming out of her "wherever", widely taken to mean that he was saying she wasn't competent because she was menstruating was outrageous. It's almost unbelievable he could get away with that and still stay in the race.

At least it is to us, apparently not to his supporters.

Trump doesn't support abortion except for rape or when the life of the mother is threatened. Funny how that seems to make a difference to some people. It is almost as if if the sex was consensual she has to have the child, but if it wasn't then she is allowed to have an abortion.

I was stunned recently. I wasn't in New Zealand, I was in the Northern Hemisphere, but not America, and I saw a picture in the paper of Trump presenting in front of a slide of John Wayne.

Yes I thought, that model of leadership, one guy, always a guy, with one off-sider, also male, riding shotgun into town sorting out things with the villagers clapping them as they leave on horseback is still deeply embedded in the American psyche.

It's hard to believe that Michael Bloomberg was at one point considered a moderate Republican. Let's see - Bloomberg is supportive of strict gun control, abortion rights, same sex marriage and a dedicated environmentalist. That makes him mainstream in Europe, mainstream in New Zealand and an absolute Liberal in the US. He is the wild card in this contest. Will he spend a billion dollars of his own money to have a shot at being President as an independent?

He and Hilary Clinton are clearly the most experienced to run the show. Three-times Mayor of New York he understands first-hand the issues around successfully putting policy into action.

I met Hilary Clinton when she came to New Zealand in 2010 and saw first-hand why Obama recently referred to her as "wicked smart". It's impossible to have had a career as long as she has had in the public eye and inoculate yourself against all criticisms. It is very difficult, particularly in a 24-7 news cycle to be in the public eye for years and years and not end up being somewhat defended in approach and occasionally defensive.

I think Hilary has done a remarkable job of trying to stay in integrity with her core principles through all the different assignments of her long and very public life.

Either she or Michael Bloomberg, if he decides to run, have the nuanced understanding of policy and practical application required to even have a chance at being an effective President.

Those three top Republicans are all just downright scary. After two terms of a Democratic President it might normally be that time in the cycle for a shift to the Republicans, let's hope for the sake of the rest of the world it isn't.

Theresa Gattung, The New Zealand Herald