Ronald Reagan vs George W. Bush

Obama screwed up.  Instead of portraying Romney as George W. Bush, which has been a major campaign goal of the left, he instead tied Romney to Ronald Reagan.  Oh, Obama was so clever.  “The 80s called, they want their foreign policy back”.  The modified version of the old high school punchline is backfiring.

The problem with tying Romney to 1980s foreign policy is that we didn’t fight any major wars during Reagan’s Presidency.  Instead, our greatest enemy sat across the ocean with thousands of nuclear warheads pointed at us, not daring to attack out of fear of mutual destruction, until eventually they just collapsed under the weight of their own oppressive economic system.  That’s a foreign policy I could live with.

Biden Smiling

The real reason we are out of Iraq

Contrast that with Obama, who defended the Bush doctrine with his surge in Afghanistan and his own foreign policy which came across as a comedy of errors.  Obama praised himself for getting us out of Iraq.  The truth is, he barely managed to keep to Bush’s timeline.  Then Obama tried to negotiate to keep some of our intelligence troops in Iraq, but he sent “Chuckles” Biden to secure the terms and we ended up getting kicked out of the country.  After all the work, and blood, we have little influence over the direction of Iraq and we share their friendship with Iran.  Great job, Mr. President.

Romney was no cowboy in the debate.  He was calm, collected, and unfortunately even pulled his punches.  But I would feel much more comfortable with Romney sitting across the table from our foreign leaders than Obama.  Obama’s cowboyish attacks and disrespect showed the greatest evidence for why his foreign policy is a trail of failure and disaster.  We can only pray that his meetings with foreign leaders didn’t follow the same tone.

And of course we saw arrogant Obama in the debate last night too.  When he talked about killingsmiling obama Bin Laden and having Bin Laden in his sites, I had to laugh.  I’m picturing Obama with a sniper rifle.  I wonder if it was just a Freudian slip when Bob Scheiffer accidentally said “Obama’s Bin Laden”.

Commentators can say what they want about Obama’s new found aggressiveness and ability to attack Romney with zingers, truth be damned.  But I think most American families watched last night and saw a clear choice between which candidate they would like to see sitting down with Assad’s replacement to discuss the future relationship between our country and Syria, or which candidate they would like to see negotiating how we end our involvement in Afghanistan.  Or perhaps which candidate they would like to see negotiating trade with China.  I think we would prefer Reagan-esque Romney to arrogant Obama and “Chuckles” Biden.  The 21st century called, and we could use a little 80s foreign policy.

Vice President Biden is Laughing… But Are You?

  Bookmark and Share  Ol’ Joe may find the facts about such things as a nuclear armed Iran, the irresponsible leadership that left 4 Americans dead in Benghazi, and 24 million Americans out of work to be funny, but most Americans can’t seem to find the lighter side of those issues that allowed our Vice President to laugh, chuckle, and cackle his way through the first and only vice presidential debate that took place this past Thursday.

That point is driven home in a recent ad from the Republican National Committee.  (See ad at the bottom of this post)

The commercial powerfully states “Vice President Biden is laughing…”, before stating “Are you?”

The ad is an ingenious use of the extraordinarily smarmy and disrespectful demeanor exhibited by the Vice President during the debate.  And it goes a long way in driving home the point that his unstable attitude is not exactly what most American want to see in a Vice President.

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Ryan Wins Debate as Biden’s Bizarre Laughing Grabbed the Spotlight

  Bookmark and Share    The first and only vice presidential debate consisted of substantive questions that were occasionally met with equally substantive answers, at least in the case of a well prepared Paul Ryan.  Unfortunately the content in the answers were overshadowed by the awkward, bizarre, and often discomforting laughing fits that Vice President Biden consistently launched in to for the first three quarters of the forum. (See video of the full debate here)

Each time Paul Ryan offered an answer to a question, ol’ Joe reacted with a disturbing, uncontrolled, obnoxious, laugh that often made him look like the crazy guy on the bus that mother’s shield their children from.  At one point, Biden’s grimaces and forced cackles made him a perfect candidate for Jack Nicholson’s role in a remake of Stanley Kubric’s “The Shining”‘.   All that was missing was a wild eyed Biden writing “Redrum” across the desk that he sat behind on the stage of debate.

In between Biden’s exaggerated and disrespectful, chortling and snickering, the two men did ignite fireworks as they hammered each other on such issues as Libya, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, taxes, and Medicare.

The sparks flew immediately after moderator Martha Raddatz asked the first question on the hot button issue of the terrorist attacks that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya on the anniversary of 9/11.  Raddatz essentially asked if there was a failure of intelligence leading up to the attack.  For his part Biden, never directly answered that question but he tried to claim that the Administration knew everything it needed to know and acted responsibly and appropriately to the circumstances leading up to the attack, and in the response to the attacks in the days following them.

Congressman Ryan took the opportunity to hammer the Obam-Biden ticket on the issue as he launched in to a familiar but well stated criticism of the way Benghazi was handled.

“It took the president two weeks to acknowledge that this was a terrorist attack,”

 Ryan said;

“This Benghazi attack would be a tragedy in and of itself, but unfortunately it’s indicative of a larger problem,” adding that Obama’s policy toward the Middle East is “making the world more chaotic and us less safe.”

Ryan also charged;

“What we are watching on our tv screens is the unraveling of the Obama foreign policy,”

Laughing Joe responded “Not true,” and added;

“With all due respect, that’s a bunch of malarkey,”

The Vice President continued his attack on Ryan’s remarks by also falsely suggesting that proposed Republican cuts in embassy security of $300 million were the reason for the lack of security that made the attacks possible.  Biden further lied by claiming that the Administration knew of no requests for additional security in Benghazi.

Paul Ryan came back by making it clear that we now know there were requests for additional security but the  requests were denied by the Administration.

One of the best lines of the night came from Ryan who reminded voters of just how often Biden puts his foot in his mouth.  After the Vice President tried to distort Mitt Romney’s past controversial remark at a fundraising about 47% of voters, Ryan fired back;

“With respect to that quote,  I think the Vice President very well knows that sometimes the words don’t come out of your mouth the right way”

To which a still laughing Joe responded”

“But I always say what I mean”.

For his part, throughout the debate, Paul Ryan was articulate, knowledgable, convincing, respectful, confident, and firm.  As for the Vice President, he was quick but disingenuous, as he performed in a way that was childish, disrespectful, arrogant, smarmy and at times goofy .  While Biden often made remarks that contained a perfect working class pitch to his base, between his demeanor and attempts to interrupt Ryan a total of 82 times, any possibly strong statements made by the Vice President were overshadowed by his disrespectful, cocky and often flippant attitude.  All of which was compounded by his disconcerting, wacky fits of laughter.

It was clear to me that after President Obama’s disasterous debate performance last week, several strategic decisions forced the Obama-Biden campaign to approach this debate in a way that was intended to make Ryan seem like he did not know what he was talking about and that his ticket was detached from reality.  So they decided to have Biden go on the attack.  Then they also decided to try to take advantage of Biden’s lengthy political career and advanced age as compared to the younger Ryan who was only four years old when Biden was first elected to the Senate.  They had hoped that by laughing at Ryan, Biden would look like the experienced elder statesman who was facing off against the clueless, young punk.  The strategy could have work were it not for two things.  The first being that Ryan knew what he was talking about and lacked the type of arrogance that could have allowed him to fall into that trap.  The second problem with the Biden strategy was that Biden’s laughing was taken to a level so exaggerated and flamboyant, that it came off as unnatural , dismissive, and inappropriate.   In the end, the strategy backfired on Joe and his ticket.

In the final analysis this debate did not reveal anything new to us about the candidates or their positions.  But it did go a long way in  leaving voters with  another negative impression of the Obama-Biden ticket and another positive impression of the Romney-Ryan ticket.  And while  Joe’s shots at Paul Ryan did whip up liberals who were already voting for Obama, he failed to make the case for why another four years of Obama-Biden will be any better the last four.  As for Paul Ryan, his steady demeanor and performance combined with his command of the issues, went a long way in convincing the all important independent and undecided voters that the Obama-Biden ticket is failing us.Bookmark and Share

Why Obama Thinks Romney is Lying

Obama stunk up the stage, no one is questioning that.  Even Seth Meyers on Saturday Night Live had a hard time finding ways to take jabs at Romney’s debate performance.  That means Romney did something special in that first debate.  So what do you do when your opponent so completely mops the floor with you that your most loyal allies can’t even find a nice thing to say?  Accuse your opponent of lying.

In fact, Obama hasn’t just accused Romney of lying.  Obama has accused Romney of so completely abandoning his beliefs and principles that Obama didn’t even know how to respond.  The spin now is that Obama was so shocked by how far Romney would go to lie about his record that Obama was overcome with moral outrage and simply couldn’t get over it enough to respond or call him out.

That’s right, when Romney said he actually doesn’t want to cut taxes on the rich by $5 trillion and raise taxes on the poor and middle class to pay for it, Obama figured every American out there would know that was an outright lie.  When Romney said he wants a healthcare plan that is determined by the states but ensures that people with pre-existing conditions can get coverage, Obama figured he wouldn’t have to respond to such an obvious distortion of the truth.  Or perhaps Obama was so disgusted by Romney’s lies that he simply couldn’t stammer out a response.

Obviously that’s a bunch of baloney to try to excuse the worst debate performance since…well maybe ever.  Or is it?

Barack Obama is a pretty smart guy, but surely he tunes in to watch his friends in the mainstream media talk glowingly about him and attack Romney.  When the Tax Policy Center said that Romney’s tax plan was going to raise taxes on the middle class to pay for a tax break for the rich, Obama may have actually believed them.  When Chris Matthews and the left portray the Republican party as some sort of gathering of vampires seeking to suck the life-blood out of the poor and minorities, perhaps Obama began to actually think such wild leftist representations of Republicans must be accurate.

When Obama said that Romney wants to cut taxes by $5 trillion for the rich and raise taxes on the poor and middle class to pay for it, maybe Obama truly believed that was an honest attack.  When Obama, who himself cut $716 billion out of Medicare, talked about Romney taking away Medicare for seniors, maybe he thought the charges were accurate.  And since the debate, perhaps the leftist media has Obama convinced now that Romney would actually like to put Big Bird in the unemployment line.

Republicans really aren’t evil.  We don’t want to raise taxes on the poor.  We don’t want to do horrible things to people’s “lady parts” as one Obama internet ad suggested.  We don’t want to put blacks back in chains as Biden suggested.  Honestly, we don’t want to keep Hispanics out of the country or go to war with every country with a majority Muslim population.  Republicans are not racists by nature either.

If Obama doesn’t figure out that the other half of the country isn’t evil, he will look just as lost and bewildered in the next debate too.  And in the next debate, if Romney doesn’t admit to being a monster who wants to chain women to the kitchen sink or station troops at churches to stop gay weddings, I’m sure the Obama campaign will try to get more mileage out of the “Romney is a liar” argument to defend his next debate performance.

Illegals Debacle Shows The President Has No Clothes

Too true to be funny anymore?

The famous poem is inviting:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Is this the spirit behind the president’s announcement of an immediate end to the deportation of illegal immigrants who came to the US as children? Obama thinks so, saying this is “the right thing to do,” just like everything else he decides.

The true spirit behind this action is the hubris of a President with no clothes. This announcement and the anger it has sparked gives an anatomy of how the president does things, to the point of obscuring the issues involved. Let’s look at the anatomy which is exposed:

 

First, Obama speaks objective truth which he then feels pragmatically he has to contradict.

It was only a year ago at a 2011 Univision Town Hall, President Obama admitted it is beyond his power to suspend deportations for anyone because there are laws he’d be breaking by doing that, and would be a breach of separation of powers. If he believed this then, then today he must believe he is violating the separation of powers. You can see the clip here: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/shock-video-obama-admits-he-cant-do-what-he-did-today/?utm_source=co2hog

Did the law change since? The jurisprudence? Of course, stupid me, last year was not election year. This year, Obama is naturally addressing a key Latino concern….in an election year.

 

Second, he ignores due process in an increasingly monarchical sense of self

As Charles Krauthammer explains: “He proposed the DREAM Act of which the executive order is a variation… He proposed a DREAM Act. The Congress said no. The Congress is the one who makes the laws. What the administration does is it administers law.” Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2012/06/15/krauthammer-new-obama-immigration-policy-out-and-out-lawlessness-video/#ixzz1xwzPGJip

The plan goes into effect immediately, affecting some 800,000 people, without discussion. He hath spoken, it is done.

Justification? Speaking at the White House, Obama said the initiative was “the right thing to do,” adding that “it makes no sense to expel talented young people” from the US. Is it me, cynicism, or are we really to believe there are 800,000 talented people out there, surely some of them are duds?

 

Third, a Machiavellian Prince who seeks to control and coerce rather than convince

Maybe the real story is the sense of visible shock when the President was interrupted by a Daily Caller reporter during his announcement. How dare anyone interrupt, that’s, well that’s like someone interrupting a monarch, just not done! The reporter ought to be expelled from the country!

The reporter, Neil Munro, explained Munro says open press events at the White House are “well designed by the president and his staff…He comes out of the Rose Garden, gives a short statement and then turns his back and walks away very quickly without taking questions,” he said. “Sometimes he takes questions. He took a question on Trayvon Martin in March. Sometimes these shouted questions at the end work — not today: He refused to answer an obvious and conventional question about the impact of his policy on American workers at a time of record unemployment.”

Munro said “Timing these things is a little awkward. He speaks very well, very smoothly — very nice delivery. It’s hard to know when he’s about to end. I thought he was going to end today. I asked my question too early. He rebuked me. Fair enough.”  In the future, Munro hopes the White House will “arrange events so the reporters can ask the president or his senior staff about the important policy changes.”

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2012/06/15/video-neil-munro-explains-his-exchange-with-president-obama-in-rose-garden/#ixzz1xx05KPCS

 

Finally, he sets himself up as a savior, but watch out for those “sell by “ dates folks!

In order to be eligible under the new initiative, illegal immigrants must:

  • have arrived in the US when they were under the age of 16
  • have lived continuously in the US for at least five years
  • be in school, or have graduated from high school or be honourably discharged veterans of the US military
  • have no criminal record
  • be under 30 years old.

If successful, applicants would receive a work permit for two years that can (note my italics) be renewed an unlimited number of times. In other words, they’re safe until after the election and the end of Obama’s long-running campaign for office and re-election.

 

In running for this office, Republican opponent Mitt Romney needs to highlight this shameful anatomy and he himself must be: consistent, truthful and make long-term commitments. His reaction to this latest move from the White House was a good one: “I believe the status of young people who come here through no fault of their own is an important matter to be considered and it should be solved on a long-term basis so they know what their future will be in this country….I think the action that the president took today makes it more difficult to reach that long-term solution.”

More of this please, Governor!

Too Bad The Debate Won’t Matter

It is way too late in the game for the groundswell of Santorum supporters to turn back and take a gamble on Newt.  At stake is handing the Republican nomination to an establishment Republican with a liberal tax plan, timid economic plan, and nothing more than a strong business reputation to run on.  But after last night’s debate, the choice for the Republican nominee is as clear to me as the day I endorsed him.

I was proud of Newt for making a supremely important point in the debate over contraception.  The issue isn’t a debate between someone who wants to keep birth control pills legal and someone who wants to ban all contraception and chain women to the kitchen sink.  The debate is between someone who voted to make it legal for doctors to kill babies after they are born and the eventual GOP candidate who simply wants to protect religious organizations from having to pay for abortion pills.  The radical here is most definitely Obama and both Newt and Mitt pointed that out.

Santorum struck out more than once.  He came across as arrogant, angry and mean.  He has already taken a great deal of heat for dismissing unprincipled votes as “taking one for the team”.  This is the opposite of what anti-establishment Republicans are looking for.  I will give Santorum one very good mark though for making clear that when he talks about what is wrong with the family in America, he id not proposing that we use the government to solve it.  I mentioned that a couple days ago as something Santorum has not done a good job making clear.

Romney did a poor job connecting.  He has put up a conservative facade, but his opponents consistently poked holes in it.  In the end, he will keep his diehard supporters and establishment Republican allies, but he continues to disappoint.

Ron Paul continues to live in a time machine fantasy world where we supposedly can ignore what Iran is doing because we made them do it in the first place and ignoring them will make them go away.  Ron Paul does not seem to understand that on a scale of rationality, radical Islamic terrorists make the communists and fascists seem like Locke and Des Cartes.  Mutual guaranteed destruction is no great incentive for peace when offered to suicide bombers.

Unfortunately, Newt does not have the ground organization to convince Santorum voters to switch back.  But after last night’s debate, we may be kicking ourselves for a long time for overlooking him in 2012.

The Republicans’ fading colours – The Spectator Magazine

Link to the original article:

http://www.spectator.co.uk/essays/all/7648068/web-exclusive-the-republicans-fading-colours.thtml

 

Web exclusive: The Republicans’ fading colours

11 February 2012

CPAC Review essay by White House 2012 writer David Cowan published on The Spectator magazine website

 

Growing up in the 1960s, my primary school in Cambridge had an outdoor roofless boy’s toilets, and we happily enjoyed urinating up the wall. It was a sign we were getting further up the school when one day we were able to urinate over the wall itself — much to the annoyance of people on the other side. This memory came to mind this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington DC over the weekend, the annual gathering of some ten thousand political activists. This year CPAC was a pissing contest to see who was the most conservative.

The three Republican frontrunners, Santorum, Romney and Gingrich, in that order, sought to reach the base and convince activists about their conservative qualities. The themes they all offered were: what’s wrong with the Obama administration; a shopping list of what conservative policies would work better; an appeal to American exceptionalism; and a return to the founding principles of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

The three candidates are looking for the right to fight an Obama administration seen as somewhat Carteresque, from failed election promises through to the ideological infighting. Obama, though personally liked (Ann Coulter joked he would make a nice neighbour, unless you’re Chinese, then he’d keep borrowing stuff), is seen as ineffective and evasive.

To reenergise America, the candidates laid claim to the mantle of Ronald Reagan, frequently invoking his name and sunny disposition. Yet herein lies the rub. Reagan defeated Carter with ideas for the economy and foreign policy, successfully combining a conservative vision and charm to appeal to swing voters. At CPAC 1974, Reagan gave his famous ‘bold colours, not pale pastels’ speech, asserting conservative principles. This weekend showed that some of the colours have long since faded.

Things were certainly off-colour last time I was here, back in 2009, as defeated activists sought to pick themselves up after Obama’s coronation. The biggest cheers then were for Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh, as they offered succour. Newt entered to his incongruous theme tune ‘Eye of the Tiger’, but instead of entering stage right he walked in through the crowd, parting them Moses-like, shaking hands and hugging supporters.

The danger three years on is, of course, an election that will see CPAC 2013 take place after a second Obama inauguration. Expect then a sinking sense of what might have been. For many American conservatives a Republican failure this year will exacerbate what they fear most: n irreversible dependency culture and Europeanisation. Daniel Hannan flew into DC to warn on just this point, expressing his amazement to rapt delegates that while Europe is driving off the cliff they can see America in their rear-view mirror, overtaking them.

Back in 2009 something else happened at CPAC. Sarah Palin was slated to speak, but failed to appear either in person or via a hastily announced satellite link. This was the signal that Sarah was taking the celebrity high road, rather than the political low road. This year, however, she did appear as closing speaker to offer the benediction — but not the one most people expected. She did not endorse Gingrich, as he himself alluded to in his own speech by quoting her husband Todd. She called for unity, but convoluted as ever, Palin said ‘whoever our nominee is we must work together to get him over the finishing line, and then next year we will have a true conservative in the Oval office’ — only to go on Fox news on Sunday afternoon to say she is still to be convinced Romney that is indeed a conservative.

Despite this, and despite the Santorum surge, Romney will see this conference as mission accomplished — reinforced by the CPAC Straw Poll narrowly backing his candidature. Out of the three candidates it looks seemed that Romney pissed the highest this weekend. And, while still divided, all the delegates would agree about who should be standing on the other side of the wall, on the receiving end.

Newt Gingrich is Yesterday’s Man

 

Will the Dream Team be Benched?

Newt Gingrich was introduced at CPAC by Calista, who generously thanked the many kind Americans they have met on the campaign trail. When he came on stage to an excited crowd, it was clearly no 2009, when he had entered through the crowd to his signature “Eye of the Tiger.” Maybe it’s the effect of copyright denying him playing his tune, but it seemed to take Newt a while to get going.

His focus was on the economy, though if he’s going to present an economic plan to America he will have to find a better way than invoking the name of Reagan every two minutes. He recalled Reagan’s bold colors speech at CPAC, and recalled what he achieved, which liberals thought then was “unrealistic” but turned out so successful.

It was almost halfway through the 10 minute slot that he finally got the crowd going, when he sent Prime Minister Harper a message that Canada won’t need China in a Gingrich White House.

He joked that we can track Fedex parcels, but the government can’t track 11 million illegal immigrants. Newt offered his own innovative solution, to send 11 million parcels to immigrants and track them to find them.

Newt promised he intends to change Washington, not accommodate it, prompting this observer to ponder when he decided to stop accommodating DC, given his ultimate insider status. Really, his attacks on the Washington, Republican or political “establishment” rings hollow for this consummate DC schmoozer.

His schmoozing has led him to form his own “conservative dream team” to challenge his supposed bête noire establishment, and you can count how many failed presidential nominee candidates are in the line-up for yourself.

The speech in truth hit the two problems: the GOP will not win by trumpeting Reagan in favour of substance, and Gingrich will not convince many beyond his base that he is anything but an establishment man. In both cases, he simply comes across as yesterday’s man.

Who will bring us a bright tomorrow?

Mitt Flashes His Credentials with a Smile: See His CPAC Speech in its Entirety Here

Will Romney show his conservative rivals the door?

Bookmark and Share  A smiling Mitt Romney came to CPAC today with one thing on his mind, the need to prove his conservative credentials to the base of conservative activists. Telling the audience that he knew many of them came to conservatism via Hayek or Edmund Burke, Romney said his path to conservatism was paved by family, faith and his work.

Romney said he believes “we are poised for victory in November”, but beating Obama is only the first step to saving America, which has suffered from weak leadership and a bankrupt ideology. Obama has created so much unnecessary pain for Americans, he told the audience.

Romney reminded listeners that America is made exceptional by the people, before making the obligatory attack on Washington. He said Obama is the poster child for arrogant government.

It has always been clear that Romney’s kind of conservatism is fiscal, and he argued “if you are not fiscally conservative, you are bankrupt”. He told a cheering audience that he will finally get rid of the deficit, and “as the first step I will eliminate Obamacare.”

Referring to his competitors for the nomination, Romney said GOP nominees are not different in opposition to Obama or conservatism, but by experience and judgement. He also distinguished himself by saying “I have never worked a day in Washington.” He then joked “I served in government but didn’t inhale.” He said he wants to take his experience to Washington, ending his speech by declaring “I will come to Washington, I will change Washington, then I will go home to the family I love.”

After his speech, Romney joined the crowd, no doubt to judge just how much this crowd has embraced him as a conservative.

Is Washington alive to the Sound of Santorum?

Santorum after his speech walks by WhiteHouse12, will he walk into the White House?

Rick Santorum appeared on stage with his family, introducing them he said they were not the von Trapp family and they weren’t about to sing. However as he set out on his speech to offer sweet music to conservative ears, he seemed to stumble a little, the speakers version of being out of tune.

But, he did get warmed up. He hit a number of high notes:

We must trust in “the conservative vision of bottom up” and show “how Obama policies have failed” America. This is what wins the race, Santorum crooned.

But he struck a bum note when he said we are not going to win this election with the candidate with the most money to beat up his opponent. Who could he possibly mean?

A sweeter note was sounded when he explained how liberals use sentimental ideas of stewardship to advance radical environmental policies.

Then onto a higher set of notes, when he reminded delegates that our rights come from a higher authority than the government. He was as clear as a bell when he chimed in that he is in this race because Obamacare is a game changer.

Rick Santorum was introduced as the only chance of winning in November as a fresh face, but there was little fresh material in this show.

Karen Santorum makes plans to let Rick go to exhibit hall, will she be making plans to change the White House decor?

That said he ended on a high note with “You are blessed to live in a time when America needs you”. He called on delegates to live in honor, ending with “The ‘how’ we are of America is the Constitution, the ‘who’ we are of America is the Declaration.”

To those who support Santorum, this speech will have been music to their ears. Whether he can light up the election with the sound of his brand of music remains to be seen.

 

 

 

A Populist CPAC, but where are the ideas?

Bookmark and Share Meeting Donald Rumsfeld today, the man who knows his knowns from his unknowns, he saw my media badge saying WhiteHouse12 and asked me “You’re from the White House?” I explained I was not, and we are a website covering the election, but I can’t be sure whether he was disappointed or not.

Being an election year, you would expect CPAC 2012 to be a populist fest of election themes, peppered with attacks on the Obama administration, and today’s line-up did not disappoint on that front. The worrying thing is that the slate of speakers, while inspiring the crowd, did not have ideas to inspire the folks with outside the conference hall. The speakers were long on broad principles but short on specifics.

CPAC 2012 Kicked off with a populist energy, but are speakers offering enough?

Marco Rubio got the crowd all whipped up, ready to be severely unwhipped by a windbag speech from Mitch McConnell. The House Senate Majority leader did the math well when he said that if you lose your job in the Obama economy it will take you 40 weeks to find a new one. However, his math failed him when he exceeded his 10 minute slot by some 20 minutes. Some disciplined editing down to 10 minutes would have given him a better speech. When he got a cheer at the end I couldn’t work out whether it was for his message or the fact that he had finished.

The schedule ran 30 minutes late for the rest of the day, and Michele Bachmann followed. Her speech was probably the most detailed of the day, focused on the series of foreign policy failures by the Obama administration. The former candidate launched a sustained attack on the policy failures, and blasted the president for not backing Mubarak, saying “Obama failed to stand by Mubarak and that helped fuel the revolution in Egypt … The president spurned the President of Egypt when he took his first foreign trip to Cairo. In an absolutely shocking move, he invited the Muslim Brotherhood to hear his speech when Mubarak’s policy was to keep the Brotherhood at arm’s length.”

Bachmann attacked the president for not standing by Israel, “Before Obama was elected, no one had ever heard of a United States president saying to the world that the United States is not a judeo-christian nation.  I am here to say we are.” She concluded “The president’s foreign policy does change the history of the world, which is why Barack Obama cannot have a second term as president.”

Rick Perry got the crowd going as well, focusing on the economy he said “Success on Wall Street shouldn’t come at the expense of Main Street.” With the crash on the way, Perry said “Folks on Wall Street who saw it coming, they made millions; folks who didn’t see it coming, they got bailed out.” His parting shot was intended to strike an ominous note, saying “I’m fearful of what the score’s gonna be if we let the president start the second half as a quarterback.”

More populist notes were struck by Herman Cain, who told CPAC “A lot of people thought that after the character assassination that was launched against me that Herman was going to shut up and sit down and go away… Ain’t going to happen.” On his 9-9-9 plan, Cain told conservatives to press candidates for federal office to embrace his flat-tax solution before they are elected. He also invited “Joe The Plumber” Samuel Wurzelbacher, who is running for Congress in Ohio’s 9th District, to take a bow.

None of the main speakers offered endorsement messages for the 2012 GOP nominees, preferring instead to talk more generically about the need to stop a second Obama term. A late addition to the speaker slate was Rand Paul who arguably matched, perhaps exceeded, the rapturous applause received by Cain. Paul asked if the President hated rich people and poor people with jobs, but then went on to state “The president doesn’t really hate all rich people, just those who don’t contribute to his campaign.” He then rallied “If you’re a crony, if you’re a buddy, just stop by the White House.”

Paul rightly reminded attendees of Ronald Regan’s “optimism,” a president who he said “turned a whole generation of Democrats into Republicans.” His parting shot was “Who will be that next Ronald Reagan?” This gets to the heart of what folks are feeling, which ran though this whole first day, feeling the need for inspiration, the need for a positive approach, the need for American exceptionalism.

What was lacking was any real depth to the conservative messages today, and it will take more than the invocation of the name of Ronald Reagan and repeating the wrongs of the incumbent to put a conservative into the White House. Reagan brought more than sunny optimism to the White House, he brought some strong and deep ideas on the economy and foreign policy as well. I didn’t hear the equivalent depth of ideas today.

Tomorrow will see Gingrich, Romney and Santorum take the stage, but will they bring any more than today’s speakers? I may not know the knowns or unknowns of what tomorrow holds, but I know I won’t be holding my breath.

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Politics IS a Contact Sport

Newt hopes to land knock-out punch with attack ads, but is Mitt's mitt bigger and stronger?

So, Newt has launched an attack ad on Mitt, and no doubt the Democrats are watching with glee.  There are no doubt worries that attack ads damage the Republican Party, just as many worry that American politics is too divisive. Does all the “infighting” damage Republican chances?

Well, no.

Attack ads are part of politics. Politics is divisive. This is because folks disagree, and they rightly disagree on important points of principle and policy. Of course the candidates attack each other, and why not? The prize is big; these are passionate people who feel they deserve a run at the number 1 job on the planet. Otherwise, they might as well play paper and scissors for the right to run.

Cast your mind back to 2008, and the exchange of “shame” accusations by candidates Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton.

You can see her attack here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pPV1yd7sQg&feature=share and Obama’s response here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkR9kw81Cx8&feature=share. You can also see the Obama attack ad, comparing Hilary Clinton to Big Brother in Orwell’s 1984 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6h3G-lMZxjo, which is quite a laugh given that Democrats are the Orwellian nightmare party!

Both parties share the tactics of attack, and it goes a long way back. Hilary’s barb that Obama was following Karl Rove’s playbook was foolishness; it doesn’t take a village to work out that attacking the candidate, or in soccer parlance playing the man rather than the ball, goes back a lot further than Rove.

In fact, the earliest example of attack ads was launched by Lyndon B Johnson in 1964, in his attack on Barry Goldwater. Known as the “Daisy Spot”, it showed an innocent girl picking daisies followed by a countdown to nuclear catastrophe, which shocked audiences at the time. The idea was that Goldwater’s aggressive stance on the Cold War would lead to nuclear destruction. [You can view the ad here: http://www.lbjlib.utexas.edu/johnson/media/daisyspot/]This will be the same Johnson who thought escalating Vietnam was a good idea.

Hilary and Obama attacked each other without pulling their punches. She lost, Obama won, and despite all the punches Hilary laid on Obama he won the White House. Like Hilary’s husband said in 2008, “This is a contact sport, politics. You can’t complain about being attacked. It’s like Yao Ming complaining about being fouled playing basketball.”

The narrative that the attack by candidates is damaging is simply a way of attacking the Republicans, while President Obama as incumbent and the official nominee come September can stand serenely above the action and appear, well, presidential. That is, until his Republican opponent is selected and can turn his attention to attacking Obama’s record 100%.

For this reason ending the attacks is important, we need to see the main bout start. The chief result of Newt’s attacks on Mitt is to bring Mitt onto the canvas ready to land his punches. Newt’s attack ads are the last attempts to land some body blows on Mitt, but Mitt’s mitt appears to be the bigger and stronger of the two. Once the attacks are done, the choice is made, the Republican nominee can step onto the canvas and win the prize fight that will take him to the White House.

Bill Clinton was right, this is a contact sport. He was wrong to compare it to basketball though. This is a fight, and it is a fight to the end. Unlike Johnson’s Daisy ad the countdown is not to nuclear destruction, but losing to Obama will see more destruction of the American economy and the nation.

Santorum Shines, Paul Respected

The only thing worse than endless political ads is political ads being tossed back and forth in a debate format with no fact checker.  Well, almost no fact checker.  Romney himself got caught when he tried to famously disavow any political negativity coming from his side only to discover that he had indeed approved an attack ad against Gingrich.

What was lost in the mix was serious debate.  The average listener might think that Romney and Gingrich’s stance on immigration actually differed.  What we discovered instead is that they really are basically the same, making their attacks on each others immigration policy pretty funny.  In fact, they all seemed to have the same view on illegal immigration except for Ron Paul who seemed to be saying that the problem is we have a bad economy and if we had a good economy we would all want illegal immigrants to come here and take the jobs Americans won’t.

Of course, with Paul sometimes it is difficult to differentiate his “this is what I would do as President” with his “this is the way things ought to be” with his “this is the way things are” rhetoric.  It keeps him safe with both the radical constitutionalists and the ignorant populists in his base.  Of course, I myself am a radical constitutionalist, but most of Paul’s constitutional rhetoric falls under the “this is the way things ought to be” column.  I couldn’t have any alcohol last night because of an early morning medical procedure Friday morning, but if I had a drinking game it would have been how many times Paul redirected a question by making his answer about the war, how bad the fed has made the economy, or how small a constitutional government should be.  The immigration question got both the war and the economy.

Paul did receive a great deal of respect from the other candidates.  It was the sort of respect Romney showed to Bachmann early on in the race.  It was that sort of “you have no shot of winning, but I would really like your supporters to like me down the road so I’ll smile and pat you on the back” respect.

Gingrich fell into a trap that I warned about a few months ago.  He has big ideas, but he has also become more and more of a states rights conservative.  Gingrich’s problem is communication in small soundbites.  I understood that he was speaking about encouraging private ventures to establish a moon colony, but the three candidates up there either willingly or ignorantly seemed to think he was talking about NASA doing it.

Gingrich also dropped the ball on something he has done very well at in previous debates, not taking media bait.  Blitzer played Romney and Gingrich all night long.  In fact, it was Rick Santorum who had to bring the debate back to the issues.  Unlike the early debates where Gingrich ran the show and the other candidates followed his lead, this time it was Santorum who reminded the other candidates what the debates and this whole process is all about.  Because of it, Santorum shined last night.

Mitt Romney has hired Bachmann’s former debate coach and it shows.  He laid down persistent attacks, mostly inaccurate, and was distracted from the issues all night.  Newt attempted to rebut, but his responses were too involved for the average American viewer.  Romney easily turned Gingrich’s responses on their head.  A good example was when Newt brought up Romney’s investments in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.  I think Newt’s point was that Romney shouldn’t be attacking him for doing consulting work for Freddie Mac when in fact Romney himself is making money on Freddie Mac stock.  In the end though, both sides lost that debate and viewers were left with a disgusting taste in their mouth.

I said that Jacksonville, Florida would be the most important debate of this election if one candidate could shine like Gingrich has in the past debates.  In the end, Gingrich saw his shadow and this primary will continue far beyond Florida.  And unfortunately, it will continue to get nastier.  The candidates have already said many things about each other that they will not be able to take back in the general election.  So in the end, Santorum won the debate, but the Republican party was the big loser.

 

The Fox News GOP South Carolina post-debate review

The Fox News South Carolina debate and GOP race was blown apart by two brilliant performances last night from Texas Governor Rick Perry, & former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Both men turned in factual, solid, cool and collected performances. What was also noticeable about the night wasn’t so much that both men attacked establishment favourite Mitt Romney, it was the manner in which the former Massachusetts Governor fell apart all on his own. Romney must have been glad that Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s consistent approach on foreign policy proved its usual unpopular self with the attending audience.

The sharpest contrast that was highlighted between Gingrich, President Obama and Mitt Romney was the desperately worrying fashion in which the conservative media and establishment favourite Romney fell apart. Make no mistake ladies and gentlemen; this was a train wreck of a performance by Governor Romney, which in a national debate with President Obama would certainly have secured another four years for the current incumbent.

The former governor of Massachusetts faced tough questions over negative campaigning and his failure to release his tax returns and fell apart on a seemingly straight forward question on hunting. The biggest damage to Romney was how many lines of questioning Perry, Gingrich and Rick Santorum opened on Romney during the course of last night’s debate, and how ineffective he was in closing them off or responding to them.

Only if Rick Perry had of turning in debate performances like last night four months ago, this race could look very different now. Perry has some good sound bites like, “South Carolina is at war with this federal government!” Perry’s masterstroke was when he challenged Romney to release his tax returns; Romney was very visibly hesitant and awkward in his response. Perry also argued forcefully against cuts to military spending and condemned the administration’s condemnation of the Marines caught urinating on Taliban corpses

Santorum challenged Romney over his Super Pac’s attack ad on Santorum’s voting record over felon rights, Santorum, went for the jugular demanding that Romney say where he stood on the issue. When Romney said he did not believe “people who committed violent crimes should be allowed to vote,” Santorum pointed out that Massachusetts under Romney had even more lenient rules for felon enfranchisement than the ones Santorum supported. “If in fact you felt so passionately about this, why didn’t you try to change that when you were governor?” he asked. Romney’s response was weak and those watching knew it. Santorum however, had his mantle as the challenger to Romney stolen very firmly away from him last night by Speaker Gingrich, and it showed in the post-debate interview with Sean Hannity when he seemed to lose his composure.

Gingrich was pressed into his best debate performance of the season by the Juan Williams over his comments calling President Obama “A Food Stamp President.” in a brilliant response littered with the very best elements of the concept of the American Dream. The excellent Juan Williams, who asked many thought provoking questions all night asked: “Speaker Gingrich, you recently said black Americans should demand jobs, not food stamps. You also said poor kids lack a strong work ethic and proposed having them work as janitors in their schools. Can’t you see that this is viewed, at a minimum, as insulting to all Americans, but particularly to black Americans?”

“No. I don’t see that,” Gingrich replied. Gingrich argued that many children could learn good vales and the value and respect of having a paying job as opposed to the employment of one expensive janitor in New York, “they’d be getting money, which is a good thing if you’re poor.”

“New York City pays their janitors an absurd amount of money because of the union,” Gingrich said. “You could take one janitor and hire 30-some kids to work in the school for the price of one janitor, and those 30 kids would be a lot less likely to drop out. They would actually have money in their pocket. They’d learn to show up for work. They could do light janitorial duty. They could work in the cafeteria. They could work in the front office. They could work in the library.”

“They’d be getting money, which is a good thing if you’re poor,” he added. “Only the elites despise earning money.”

Williams stressed that some had perceived Gingrich’s comments about child labour, as well as remarks he made this month singling out blacks when speaking about food stamps, as offensive to poor people and racial minorities.

“The suggestion that he made was about a lack of work ethic,” Williams said. “And I’ve got to tell you, my e-mail account; my Twitter account has been inundated with people of all races who are asking if your comments are not intended to belittle the poor and racial minorities.”

“You saw some of this during your visit to a black church in South Carolina, where a woman asked you why you refer to President Obama as ‘the food stamp president,'” Williams continued. “It sounds as if you are seeking to belittle people.” Williams’ points resulted in loud boos from the audience.

“Well, first of all, Juan, the fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history,” Gingrich said to applause. “Now, I know among the politically correct, you’re not supposed to use facts that are uncomfortable.”

“I believe every American of every background has been endowed by their creator with the right to pursue happiness,” he said. “And if that makes liberals unhappy, I’m going to continue to find ways to help poor people learn how to get a job, learn how to get a better job and learn some day to own the job.” Gingrich’s response was met with a standing ovation from many in the audience.

I’ve maintained throughout the last few months that Romney, is not strong enough under pressure or on foreign affairs. These weaknesses again came rushing to the front and if Gingrich wanted to press home his advantage last night, he easily could’ve done it.

Above all, I was pleased that despite a huge concerted effort by the conservative media and establishment, to anoint Romney this weekend in South Carolina, the ordinary viewer and supporter observed saw for themselves how weak a front runner Governor Romney actually is. People should not dismiss President Obama, and the scale of the challenge facing any GOP nominee in an election.

You will hear a lot of attempts in the coming days from media commentators saying,” Gingrich can’t win in the General election”. Ignore their efforts; this 2012 election has to be about issues, ideas and solutions. If the American people go for personality, the election is already a foregone conclusion. Only the voters and your average American person can make it about the issues that matter to them, jobs, the economy, health, housing and security.

ABC News/Yahoo Debate GOP New Hampshire post-debate analysis

I stayed up until 02:00hrs (UK Time) tonight to watch with anticipation the expected slug feast that was meant to be the GOP ABC News /Yahoo debate. Sadly, the standard of debate questions were the poorest of any to date, and I actually felt more sorry for the moderators asking the questions, then for the candidates, who had to stand through this whole debacle which was capped off with the most amateurish of finishes.

Ron Paul was put on the spot early by moderator George Stephanopoulos, over his accusation of corruption against Senator Rick Santorum in his campaign ads.

“It was a quote,” explained Paul. “Somebody did make a survey and he came up as one of the top corrupt individuals because he took so much from lobbyists.”

There was a good composed opening by Romney and Santorum on the issue of the latest jobs report although Santorum was reluctant to repeat his criticism of Romney when urged by the moderator.

At that moment, there was a loud noise and the microphone had some feedback, Santorum seized the moment saying, “They caught you not telling the truth, Ron.”

Mr. Paul quickly went after Mr. Santorum as well, faulting him for his “big government” votes while in Congress, controversy regarding his residency, and money he has taken since leaving office.

“I wish I had 20 minutes to answer this,” Mr. Santorum said. “It’s a ridiculous charge, and you should know better.” He defended his earmarks on behalf of Pennsylvania and the work he has done in the private sector.

“You’re a big spender,” Mr. Paul insisted. “You’re a big-government conservative, and somebody has to say it.”

Governor Perry did well citing his record and Washington outsider status in his quest for the presidential role and accused Ron Paul of taking earmarks for his district and then voting against the Bill saying it hinted of hypocrisy. Ouch! Perry also did well on the military question highlighting the $1 Billion in cuts under the Obama administration in three years, not just the recent cuts.

The next heated exchange came between Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich in a fiery heated exchange following a remark earlier in the week by Paul that Gingrich was a “Chicken Hawk” for supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan even though he himself has never served in the military.

Asked whether he stands by the remark, Paul responds:

“Yeah. I think people who don’t serve when they could and they get three or four or even five deferments, they have no right to send our kids off to war. … I’m trying to stop the wars. At least I went when they called me up.”

Newt clearly annoyed but disciplined not to appear snarly coolly responds, “Dr. Paul makes a lot of comments. It’s part of his style,” he says. He adds: “Dr. Paul has a long history of saying things that are inaccurate and false. The fact is, I never asked for a deferment.”

Paul responds, ““I have a pet peeve that annoys me to a great deal, because when I see these young men coming back, my heart weeps for them.”

Gingrich then notes his father’s years in the military and chides Paul: “I think I have a pretty good idea of what it’s like as a family to worry about your father getting killed, and I personally resent the kinds of comments and aspersions he routinely makes without accurate information, and then just slurs people.”

The debate then turned to a social values question on Contraception which Romney, Huntsman and Santorum all did their level best at ducking the question and trying not to sound too controversial.

Step up Newt Gingrich! “I just want to raise a point about the news media bias,” he says. He goes on to say that there is more “anti-Christian bias” than bias against other religious groups under this current administration and attacks the administration for their treatment of the Christian faith and receives rapturous applause from the audience.

The debate continued with some further questions and probing on the Patriot Act and privacy, with Ron Paul delivering a good response on the right to privacy under the constitution.

The next controversial issues was the right to Gay Marriage which Romney ducked again, and clearly did his level best to view it as a states rights issue with Santorum effectively agreeing with his assessment and Jon Huntsman distinguishing between traditional religious rights and legal rights. Newt stepped up again with a good answer on gay rights and designation and contrasted his position well to the right of marriage.

On the issue of Iraq, a huge talking point will be no doubt Rick Perry’s tearing up of the textbook by saying he’d send U.S. troops back into Iraq. Nobody expected that response and no doubt his team will try and walk back his response.

There was some discussion over tax and economic plans but to be fair to the candidates, the questions were of such a poor standard that we learnt nothing new and the questions didn’t enable us to learn anything factually new.

All the candidates struggled on the issues of Afghanistan, Iraq and foreign policy in general with the exception of Newt Gingrich who gave a master class in the level of thinking and vision a president needs. “If you want to stop Wahabbism, get an American energy policy so no American president ever again bows to a Saudi king and rattled of a number of ideas and solutions with so much ease frankly, it made the other candidates look poor. Romney was again exposed showing he is great at saying what President Obama isn’t doing but can’t tell us what he’d do as President.

Santorum did well when talking about being a president who would bring every American together not be a divider like President Obama saying, “If you want someone that’s a clear contrast, that has a strong record, has a vision for this country that’s going to get this country going – an appeal to blue-collar workers in Pennsylvania, and Ohio, and Michigan and Indiana, and deliver that message that we care about you too, not just about Wall Street and bailing them out, then I’m the guy that you want to put in the nomination.”

Gingrich came out with a very humourous but well driven home point about President Obama’s attempt to develop a radical European socialist system in the United States which went down very well with the audience.

All the candidates did relatively well with the possible exception of Jon Huntsman who despite an encouraging start got completely slammed on the issue of trade with China by Mitt Romney and desperately resorted to speaking Mandarin to try and save the point, he didn’t.

Overall, the debate was the most disappointing so far, largely because of the lame questions being asked & it made of mockery of it, supposing to be a presidential standard debate being put on by the network. It left the viewers and candidates short changed. I couldn’t believe that throughout the entire debate there was no question on Obamacare, debt or entitlement reform.

Newt & Romney are in a league of their own compared to the rest of the field; I just wish we could narrow down the field and have some real substantive debates.

All candidates generally had a good night, Newt was the quality class responder however, Romney was the winner purely due to the fact that, nobody laid a glove on him and he hammered Huntsman on China.

P.S. I’d like to thanks Tina Revers for her input & contribution in producing this analysis.

32 Years Ago Today, Ronald Reagan Showed Us What a Difference a Debate Can Make

Bookmark and Share  Tonight the Republican presidential candidates will be gathering in New Hampshire for a presidential debate and in a matter of hours, they will be having another one on Sunday morning.

Both of the debates may not change the outcome of the New Hampshire primary being held on Tuesday, but they will have effect on it and the momentum that is established will play a role in the  South Carolina primary that follows New Hampshire’s contest.  How much af an effect is the big question.

My opinion is that of all the candidates still running, Newt Gingrich is the candidate skilled enough to maximize these two forums and use them to his advantage in ways that far exceed the others on the stage with him.

But the right opportunity could just prove to be pivotal to any of the participants.

Exactly 32 years ago today, Ronald Reagan literally established himself as a man  to reckon with in  politics when the moderator of another New Hampshire debate tried to silencehim.  When that man asked that his mic be turned off, Reagan turned to him and shouted, “I am paying for this microphone, Mr. Green”.

From that point on, in the minds of voters, Ronald Reagan established himself as fighter who will stand up to anyone and say it like it like it is.  He also established himself as a determined man who will stand up for all that he believes in and who was not afraid to do so.

As seen in the video below, Reagan’s forcefulness received not only a rousing standing ovation of shouts, cheers, and applause, you might also note that the men he was running against, stood behind Reagan and were giving their own energetic round of applause to their opponent.

Such a moment may not come up tonight or tomorrow morning, but you can rest assured that each man on stage tonight will be looking for the just the opportunity to repeat history and follow in Ronald Reagan’s footsteps.

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The New Hampshire Presidential debates – It could be “live free or die” – for some candidates challenge.

The race for the Republican Party presidential nomination heats up this weekend with a set of weekend debates providing what could be, the last chance for some of the Republican presidential hopefuls to prove, who is the best alternative to frontrunner Mitt Romney ahead of next week’s New Hampshire primary.

The six remaining candidates will go head to head in Saturday’s ABC News, Yahoo and WMUR sponsored debate.  Front runner Mitt Romney who has a residence in the state and was governor of neighbouring Massachusetts, appears to have an unassailable lead according to the latest Union Leader poll with 47 percent of New Hampshire GOP primary voters saying they would vote for Romney, compared to 17 percent for Ron Paul and 13 percent for Jon Huntsman.

Saturday’s debate will be followed by another on Sunday in NBC’s – Meet the Press debate, which will be the first time in the campaign that major debates will have been held back to back.

Romney has come under increasing attack since his slim-line victory in Iowa over Rick Santorum and is expected to be very much the candidate under fire in both debates. Romney also suffered a huge blow with the major Newspaper – The Boston Globe coming out in support of Jon Huntsman over Romney, on the eve of the debate.

Romney has the most to lose, not only is he expected to win New Hampshire comfortably, he is expected to win big, so any slip ups in the debates could severely damage his somewhat expectant party nomination. Romney needs to remain on message and appear presidential like as in previous debates. Romney has shown a tendency to be prickly when challenged on his record, and he will need to avoid any reactive snappy comments.

Fresh from his excellent second place finish and injection of campaign cash from donors, it will be an equally big night for former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum who will find himself front and center of the attention for the first time in these debates. Santorum has struggled for air-time in all the previous debates, but his good fortune and excellent Iowa finish brings with it a higher level of expectation. Santorum needs to win the conservative battle with friend and fellow challenger former speaker – Newt Gingrich to be the clear alternative to Romney. Santorum is a good debater but some possible chinks in his armour may be his social stances on Gay-Marriage, Gay members serving in the military and earmarks during his time as Senator. Social issues do not have the same level of weight in New Hampshire as they do in Iowa, and policy and position stances are very much more under the scrutiny of voters. Santorum needs to remain composed and focus on his policy stances as far as possible to maintain his excellent momentum.

The two candidates who could prove decisive in the outcome of both debates are Ron Paul & Jon Huntsman.

Ron Paul’s campaign has raised a massive $13 million in the fourth quarter, behind only Romney’s fundraising of more than $20 million. New Hampshire’s primary has a considerable number of independent voters and it is likely, Paul will place well regardless of the debates. Paul’s domestic policies are popular, but with the increasing current tension with Iran have come increasing scrutiny and attention on his foreign policy stance which has drawn a sharp contrast between him and the other candidates. My belief is that Paul will go after Perry and Gingrich in these two debates strategically, hoping to deal their campaigns the all important fatal blow. A three horse race as opposed to a six horse race would suit Paul considerably more in his efforts to be the Romney alternative.

Turning to the dark horse of the race Jon Huntsman, it depends which Jon Huntsman turns up to the debates. Anyone who observed the Huntsman-Gingrich debates in December would’ve realised here is a candidate who is as equally intelligent as Gingrich, he has a very unique perspective on Asia-Pacific matters and an exceptional record as former Governor of the state of Utah.

Huntsman in my opinion has been too quick to play the “I’m your guy next door” routine in previous major debates. He needs to show he is serious on the issues, remain focussed and appear presidential like, all at the same time as challenging front runner Romney. Many believe Huntsman and Romney are from the moderate side of the Republican Party however, Huntsman has bet his entire strategy on doing well in New Hampshire. Perhaps Huntsman’s strategy was to wait until these debates before really showing what he is capable of doing. If so, it will prove an effective strategy, if however, he performs as in previous debates his entire campaign will be over once voting is completed next Tuesday.

Texas Governor Rick Perry appeared to be on the verge of pulling out of the race following Iowa’s result. In Perry’s favour going into these debates is the fact that expectations couldn’t be lower. Perry has become a hit on YouTube due to a series of blunders in his campaign and previous debates however, he has absolutely nothing to lose and his last few debate performances have been encouraging. I believe Perry will have a few key attack moments prepared for tomorrow night and he can choose his moment to go on the offensive. I actually expect Perry to surprise a lot of people for all the right reasons in both debates, and it could provide the boost he needs ahead of his make or break challenge in South Carolina later in the month.

Finally, I’ve saved the best for last, former Speaker Gingrich who many are saying he’ll be “Nasty Newt”. Other then Romney and despite the claims of many in the media and establishment, Newt as it currently stands, is the only other real electable candidate at a national level in the race. Newt was clearly hurt by the attacks from Romney and Paul in Iowa over the last month, and where he has tried to run a positive campaign, he now realises he has to not turn negative, but stand stronger.

Newt has a brilliant mind and like all brilliant people, they sometimes make mistakes but America as a nation needs a president who is prepared to change the course of Washington, has the knowledge and ability to do it and above all, someone who will not be afraid to explore new departures for the benefit of the nation.

Newt has performed extremely well during all the previous debates but must be careful not to be overly eager at attacking Romney tomorrow night. Newt in my opinion needs to focus on his own ideas & policies, if challenged on his record or a mistake must be honest and if necessary, apologetic. Most importantly, he needs to avoid appearing snarly.

Newt should focus on President Obama and not the other candidates unless they attack him. The watching public want to see the alternative to President Obama emerge and he needs to draw a clear contrast between what he’d do as president, compared to the president. This is where Romney attacking Gingrich has been clever, he has forced Gingrich to remain on the defensive and appear local while he strides forward appearing to look presidential and national level like.

Newt needs to play to his strengths and avoid going on the attack however; he needs to be prepared for them. Where Newt can win these debates in by focussing on President Obama and being firm but assertive in his responses to any attacks from the other candidates against him. If he follows these points and remains disciplined, he’ll win both debates comfortably and remind everyone, why he can be the real alternative to President Obama.

One thing is guaranteed from both debates; expect them to be highly negative and vicious in some cases. It is make or break time especially for Huntsman so the stakes are getting higher as the field is getting smaller. I’m hoping whatever the outcome; an alternative to Romney emerges over the next three weeks who can make the primary race a competitive one and not a foregone conclusion as the establishment and some in the media want for Romney.

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