Sure, the upcoming election will be influenced by the debates, television commercials and efforts to get out the vote. However, a major factor will be whether the GOP can convince the American people that their candidates and their ideas are mainstream. Although the GOP was able to muzzle their craziest members for the most part two weeks ago, it will be a much bigger challenge in the next two months.
The GOP Convention was like putting lipstick on a pig. They wisely kept most of their farther right-wing fringe off the stage during prime time, choosing to highlight Republican governors and somewhat rational people like Susana Martinez, Tim Pawlenty, Jeb Bush and Condoleezza Rice, as opposed to Republican members of the House and Senate with their 10 percent national approval rating.
But the GOP has been hijacked by the extreme right-wing of their party who continue to show their ignorance. Last month, former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough lamented the abortion statement by Missouri Congressman Todd Akin as well as the actions of Kevin Yoder, the Republican Congressman from Kansas who skinny dipped in Israel, stating on MSNBC's Morning Joe that, "I'm just tired of it (Republicans) being the stupid party. I'm tired of us having stupid people saying stupid things and scaring off independent voters and swing voters."
During the Republican presidential primary campaign last year, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman mocked the rest of the GOP field when he tweeted, "To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy."
Moderate and centrist Republicans are a dying breed. The Tea Party's influence has been enormous and has resulted in the election of ideological extremists. Radical statements by Republicans aren't just gaffes; they reflect a cold-hearted, insensitive, mean-spirited, dishonest and ignorant attitude that is reflected in the way that they govern and make laws.
The GOP's alleged big tent is actually a circus. In light of this, I've come up with a Top 10 list of right-wingers that the GOP will want to hide in the basement for the next two months, but won't be able to.
10. This incident flew under the radar, but Republican Lubbock County, Texas Judge Tom Head recently warned that an Obama reelection could lead to Civil War with President Obama handing over U.S. sovereignty to the United Nations. Many Democrats have called for his resignation and a U.N. spokesman told Reuters that the U.N. has no plans to invade Texas.
9. GOP Congressman Mac Thornberry, a climate change denier who rejected government attempts and "flawed climate science" to solve the severe droughts in Texas, had instead asked people for "prayers for rain."
8. Rush Limbaugh is always good for a chuckle. Two weeks ago, he suggested that President Obama had ordered the National Hurricane Center to exaggerate Hurricane Issac's threat to Tampa in order to disrupt the Republican Convention. Last week, he said that Obama wasn't authentically black, didn't have slave blood and couldn't fill "Black Panther Stadium." It would be one thing if he were just a run of the mill commentator; however, his influence on the GOP and policy makers is undeniable. None of them have the courage to rebuke Limbaugh on his outrageous statements.
7. Believe it or not, Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher is a candidate for Congress in Ohio. Last month, he stated at an Arizona fundraiser that the United States needs to build a fence along the Mexican border and start shooting. "Put troops on the border and start shooting," he said. "I bet that solves our illegal immigration problem real quick."
6. Florida Tea Party Republican Congressman Allen West stated last year that liberal women's rights advocates had been neutering American men and that the Democratic Party was a 21st century plantation. Last week, the Romney campaign appointed West and two others to chair a Black Leadership Council.
5. Minnesota Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has been out of the limelight for a few months, but she emerged again two weeks ago when she said that a spiritual hurricane was coming and that President Obama couldn't relate to the common man because he is too wealthy. At least she didn't commend the Founding Fathers again for abolishing slavery.
4. Even Fox News realized that Sarah Palin was toxic for a national mainstream audience. According to Palin, Fox News canceled her television appearances during the GOP Convention. However, there's no doubt that she'll be back in the next couple of months lampooning the "lamestream media" and the "hopey, changey" policies of Obama.
3. Bloviating ignoramus Donald Trump had been scheduled to speak at the GOP Convention, but the GOP lucked out when Hurricane Issac canceled the Monday program. Last month, Birther King Trump had received the spokesman of the year award by the Sarasota, Fla. Republican Party. He's always good for an outrageous statement every week. Last week, he tweeted this about Arianna Huffington:: "@ariannahuff is unattractive both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man -- he made a good decision."
2. Ron Paul delegates made their voices heard during the convention, after they were disenfranchised when party rules were changed and the roll call was expedited. The Paul supporters walked out in protest and shouted in the convention hall, engaging in shouting matches with Romney supporters. Many Paul supporters have talked about how they might not vote for Romney in November. While Paul might choose to be a good soldier and publicly support Romney, his supporters might not.
1a. Clint Eastwood. He made Jon Stewart's day.
1. Look for Grover Norquist to get a lot of publicity in the next two months. Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, has successfully pressured most elected members of the Republican Party to oppose any form of tax increases, even as part of a budget or deficit reduction deal. Democrats and the media are likely to highlight this pledge and emphasize that it's hurting the country. Two weeks ago, 60 Minutes featured him and his Pledge in a segment. Republicans seem to forget that their hero, Ronald Reagan, raised taxes several times during his administration. Congressmen should be pledging their allegiance to the United States of America, not Grover Norquist.
Others receiving votes: Newt Gingrich, Todd Akin, Sharron Angle (former GOP Nevada Senate Candidate who suggested that people could barter chickens for health care), Christine O'Donnell (not a witch, asserted that humans were being cross bred with mice and called Obama a Marxist earlier this month), Joe Walsh (the Illinois Congressman, not the Eagles' band member), South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson ("You lie"), Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Pa. Senate Candidate Tom Smith (equated pregnancy from rape with having a baby out of wedlock), Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (hardline stance on immigration), Herman Cain (a noun and a verb and 999), The Koch Brothers, Chuck Norris (last week, he warned that there will be 1,000 years of darkness if Obama wins), and Glenn Beck.
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Note: This is an updated version of an article that Larry Atkins wrote for thephillypost.com, which is Philadelphia Magazine's website