The GOP's Food Strategy

In a democracy, it's not just a right to consider all of the candidates. It's a responsibility. And with nine GOP debates already completed, the distinctions between the Republican presidential candidates are becoming more clear.

Of course, let's first mention that one should always vote with one's stomach. In the last election, President Barack Obama's eclectic food inclinations, having grown up in Hawaii and Indonesia and living in Chicago, made him the obvious choice. It's hard to dislike a guy who loves chili, spicy food, shaved ice and pizza. And now, with Michelle Obama being the First Lady of Veggies, it's harder still to knock the incumbent. But let's take democracy for a spin and consider the alternatives.

You've got to start with Herman Cain, who worked for 30 years in the food industry as an executive, for companies like Coca-Cola, Burger King, and, most notably, as CEO of Godfather's Pizza. And, as detailed in a recent New York Times story, he also worked for several years as a lobbyist, turning a moribund trade group into a heavy hitter. He fought off cigarette bans, tried to resist the lowering of blood-alcohol limits so that people could drive more drunk, and tried to stop the increase of minimum wages.

So, the docket is pretty full on Cain and food. And none of it is very good. (Not to mention that his 9% sales tax on food would spoil appetites from coast to coast.) If anyone out there has ever had a slice of Godfather's Pizza and can tell us it's half as good as a New York slice, maybe we'll reconsider.

Then there's Mitt Romney, the GOP frontrunner. It's a tried-and-true crutch in presidential campaigns to show one's working-Joe status by eating at greasy spoons on the campaign trail, but Romney has made it one of the central memes of his push to the top. We've seen him eating corn dogs and Subway sandwiches, but he's been most associated with Carl's Jr. Some might appreciate his affinity for the fast food franchise but be warned, Romney has been rumored to peel the skin off his fried chicken, which shows a wishy-washiness that's not befitting a commander-in-chief.

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is Romney's closest competition. Perry is more direct about the intersection of politics and food, having stated that he doesn't want Big Government telling him how much salt he can put on his food. That's respectable. But he has also condemned Obama's food stamps programs while expressing his own preference for biscuits and gravy over toast, which suggests he doesn't mind himself being fat and lazy, while condemning others for being so. It's been written online that if Obama is arugula salad, then Perry is beans and cornbread. And this was said in admiration of Perry! But if this nation needs anything, it's austere, healthy greens—not to be even more bloated.

The only GOP candidate who has really taken a compelling culinary stand is Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann. You may know her for some batshit crazy statements that she's made, but do you know her unequivocal favorite food? Celery. She even said that, at Thanksgiving, she loves to have a plate of green stalks nearby. Now, this is a woman who can think outside the box. Plus, she's got conviction.

It's way too early to tell, but Mr. Obama should be on the lookout: Bachmann is the GOP candidate to beat. We can regroup further down the campaign trail, to see if she is still standing.