The VP Matrix

Excitement continues to brew about who Mitt Romney might choose as his Vice President.  Today a story hit the news circulation that Marco Rubio is not being vetted, but Tim Pawlenty is being given serious consideration.  Romney found himself on the defensive this evening.  But before you get too excited about a Marco Rubio candidacy, or too upset about it, you may want to take a breather and consider who Romney is and what kind of campaign he is running.  Flash and splash are not the orders of the day.

Mitt Romney’s campaign need do no more than promise a stronger economy and let Obama continue to create a weaker economy.  In fact, Mitt Romney’s tour through small town USA promoting the private sector and values of competition is exactly where he needs to be.  Obama is spouting a controversy mixed with a gaffe every day.  Why jump in front of a train wreck?  Romney’s VP choice will be about as blockbuster as a sandwich from a WaWa vending machine.

Get out your VP scorecards and consider the following:

Mitt’s VP choice will not be a fresh face.

Mitt Romney is not looking for a candidate with little national experience.  Nor is he looking for a candidate who everyone on the far right loves.  Romney doesn’t need a shot of adrenaline or steroids.  The last thing he needs is someone who is going to distract from the national disaster of the Obama Presidency.  Romney does not need a divisive TEA party figure.  He certainly doesn’t need someone who could be perceived as inexperienced.  If Romney picks a veteran, the media will be cautious about trying to embarrass them as a rookie.  But media types smell blood in the water when there is fresh meat.  Even a studied, prepared candidate might not be able to field a trick question like “do you support the Bush doctrine”.  However, a veteran is less likely to be asked that question.

Obama’s inexperience took a back seat in the media when McCain brought in Palin

This is bad for Allen West, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Susana Martinez, Scott Walker, and Paul Ryan.  Could be good for Mitch Daniels, Tim Pawlenty, Jeb Bush, Condi Rice, or Rudy Guiliani.

Mitt’s VP choice will not be old and tired.

The death knell for a Republican candidacy, fair or not, is being old and grey.  Nothing plays into stereotypes of Republicans more than an old, grey haired, slow talking wrinkly man.  While Romney doesn’t need a shot in the arm, he also doesn’t need something contributing to the stereotypes more than he does already.  Right now Romney is Reaganesque in his looks and style.  But an older veteran running mate would turn his campaign into the old rich white people’s ticket.  Again, it may not be fair or right, but don’t expect a VP over 55 years old.

Don’t expect Newt Gingrich, Fred Thompson, or Rob Portman.  Could be good for Bobby McDonnell, Nikki Haley, Chris Christie

Jack Kemp and Bob Dole combined had nearly two centuries of experience

Mitt’s VP choice may not be female or minority.

There is this idea that the only way to defeat Barack Obama is by running a female or minority VP candidate.  Aside from that strategy failing miserably with Sarah Palin, the problem is that Republicans pay far less attention to race and gender than Democrats do, and Democrats virulently hate conservative women and minorities.  We have seen in recent years just how much visible hatred has been directed toward Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell, Allen West, Nikki Haley, Michelle Bachmann, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, etc.  There is a clear desire on the left for female and minority Republicans to fail.  In Mitt Romney’s case, he is not looking for diversity for diversity’s sake.  That’s not to say he won’t pick a female or minority candidate, but if he does it will be someone respected by both sides and unassailable.

This makes Allen West, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, Nikki Haley, and Susana Martinez less likely.  However, it doesn’t necessarily knock Condoleeza Rice out of the running, although she will carry the stigma on the left of being chosen for diversity’s sake.  Again, might not be fair, but since when were politics fair.

Mitt’s VP choice will not be controversial.

It’s bad when your VP candidate has almost as many quotable gaffes as Joe Biden

Mitt Romney is not looking to cause trouble for himself.  He doesn’t need a loudmouth or a controversial character.  Don’t expect any candidate who is going to make serious waves.  As I said before, Romney doesn’t need a distraction from the freak show of the Obama economy.  Expect a well respected candidate who is as smooth politically as Romney himself.

You can scratch the Donald, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Allen West, and Newt Gingrich off your list.  This is a strike against Jeb Bush and Condoleeza Rice as well.  But it favors Mitch Daniels, possibly Bob McDonell, and John Thune.

Expect a strategic pick.

Romney’s not going to choose a popular governor from a red state.  But he might choose a popular candidate from a purple or blue state.  And there are a few to choose from.  Rubio would lock of Florida.  Bob McDonnell could secure the nearly must win blue state of Virginia.  Tim Pawlenty could inspire votes from the teetering Great Lakes states.  Rick Snyder of Michigan could really bring in some blue states, but he is likely disqualified for being old and a fresh face at the same time.  Brian Sandoval might help swing Nevada to Romney while also providing the opportunity to highlight Harry Reid’s role in the destruction of our economy.

This set of criteria will hardly provide a definite pick.  In fact, some points are contradictory.  But it should provide some ideas for people who are looking at the potential VP picks.  I could hardly make a prediction even based on this criteria.  But I do believe it comprises the factors that Romney will be looking at when making his pick.

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.

Bookmark and Share

Romney May Not Get All 50

Gingrich Shows Some Fight

Don’t count him out yet.  Newt Gingrich is fighting for his slice of Romney’s 50 Florida delegates.  According to RNC rules, no state can hold a winner takes all primary before April 1, 2012.  Florida was warned of this back in December.  This means that Newt could cut into the 50 delegates that Romney is expecting from his Florida win.  If this works for Newt, Romney’s delegate lead will be cut about in half.  But Newt faces an uphill battle, fighting an RNC and RPOF stuffed full of Romney supporters.

Romney Supporters as Annoying as Paul’s?

After the Florida primary, it might have been nice for there to be some healing in the state after one of the most negative campaigns in Florida’s primary history.  Instead, the theme from Romney’s supporters is that Newt should stop whining about the negative campaigning and his supporters should fall in line with the presumptive nominee.

If you think that is bad, Romney’s number one cheerleader, Ann Coulter, is now praising Romneycare as a constitutional, conservative solution to healthcare.  In fact, Coulter is now saying that “The problem isn’t health insurance mandates.”  Perhaps someone should tell that to Pam Bondi, Florida Attorney General and Romney supporter who is leading the fight against Obamacare in the courts based on the health insurance mandate.

Don’t get me wrong, I get the whole “states have the constitutional authority to take away your rights, the fed doesn’t” argument, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to agree that Romneycare was a good idea.  Perhaps Coulter is trying to set up the future conversations for the presumptive nominee.  But are most Americans going to be ok with the argument that it as ok for Romney to take away their rights and force them to buy health insurance because it was on a state level?  Personally, I’d like to see less government intrusion in my life on every level.  Coulter used to feel the same way.  What happened?

If Romney wants to win in 2012, he has to get his supporters to change their message.  Romney needs to start focusing on Obama and reassuring conservatives that he is in fact principally opposed to Obamacare and the health insurance mandate, not simply offering it pandering lip service.  And for goodness sakes, he has to stop making Newt supporters his enemies.  He’ll have quite enough enemies in the general election without turning off fellow conservatives.

Florida Makes History Again. Now What?

Bookmark and Share   As is the norm for Florida, the Sunshine State has again made electoral history.  For the first time, the Republican winner of the South Carolina primary, lost the Florida primary.  What it means in the long term is uncertain, but what it means in the short term is quite apparent.  Nationally, Republicans have no real clear favorite for President yet.

Still,  Mitt Romney’s win was significant and he deserve credit for orchestrating it.  He spent $17 million to do it, but he did it and in the end, especially with 50 delegates now in his column, that is all that matters.  However, while Romney once again becomes the frontrunner for the nomination, you will have to forgive me if do not declare this race over yet.

With little more than 5% of the delegates allocated so far, there is no denying that the race is not over yet, but it was made even more obvious to me after hearing Romney deliver his victory speech, and after Gingrich and Santorum gave their concession speeches.

In his speech, Mitt Romney rose to the occasion and sounded enthusiastic, but humble, and most of all, he sounded presidential.  He delivered a speech that allowed people to truly begin to get comfortable with the idea of him being the candidate who can take the fight to President Barack Obama and beat him.  He didn’t seal the deal, but his Florida victory speech helped make people more willing to accept the now almost inevitability of his being nominated for president.  And now back in the frontrunner position, Romney offered not only a brief glimpse of the potential that exists in his carrying the Republican banner,  he even took some steps to put the ugliness of the intraparty battle for the nomination behind him by eloquently making the point that “a competitive primary does not divide us, it prepares us.”

But in his facing the fact that he came in second place to Romney with at least 15% less of the vote than Romney, Newt Gingrich offered a speech which oozed of defiance and held a true thirst for not just beating Barack Obama, but for bringing about the type of reforms that Americans want, but as of late, have not often come to see in either Republicans or Democrats.  He also provided some of the best reasons for his candidacy to date.

While limiting his negative attacks to calling Romney a Massachusetts moderate, Newt introduced what was seemingly a very heartfelt, personal contract with the American people, a spin on the now famous 1994 Contract With America that he spearheaded and guided through Congress.

Newt’s personal  contract consists of two parts.  The first part is conditional and it requires that the people elect conservatives to Congress.  If they do that, Newt promises that before he takes office, he will request that on January 3rd, 2013, the new Congress stays in session and immediately repeals Obamacare, Dodd-Franks, and Sarbanes Oxley, three bills that are being viewed as among  the most  detrimental legislative initiatives effecting our economy.  Gingrich vows that if the American people elect strong conservative majorities to Congress, those three measures can be repealed by Congress and on the day of his inauguration, he will sign the legislation to rid us of those massive government burdens.  The problem there is that unless it is veto proof majority, President Obama will have the opportunity to veto it before Gingrich has the opportunity to sign it.  So Newt might want to hold back on his request for january 3rd vote on those issues.

The rest of Newt’s personal contract is a promise to promptly enact a series of constitutional executive orders that will consist of immediately abolishing the existence of all White House czars, an  immediate order to commence construction of the Keystone Pipeline project, an executive order opening the American embassy in Jerusalem and essentially acknowledging that divided city as Israel’s capital, another executive order which would reinstate the Reagan policy that did not allow  federal money to fund any abortions, anywhere in the world, and last but not least, he promised to enact an order that repeals any and all of the anti-religious acts enacted by the Obama Administration in what Newt described as the President’s war on religion.

Newt’s speech was far from a concession speech, but what it did do was offer voters some good reasons for why Newt should not give up.  With a room full of supporters waving signs that reminded voters that there are 46 more states which have yet to vote, Newt demonstrated that he still has what it takes to continue contesting this election.

The other speech of note came from third place finisher Senator Rick Santorum.

Even though Santorum placed a very distant third with only 13% of the vote in Florida, his speech actually provided a good rationale for his own continued participation in this race.

Knowing full well that he was not going to have a strong showing in Florida, Santorum elected to make his primary night remarks from Nevada, where he is campaigning in advance of that state’s Caucus which takes place this Saturday.

Taking advantage of the very rarely traveled high road in their primary contest, Santorum exploited the bitter battle between Romney and Gingrich by looking like the adult in the room who had his eye on the real prize…….defeating President Obama.

He stated that he was not going to criticize the personal and public successes achieved by both Gingrich and Romney as they have done to one another.  Instead he declared that republicans deserve better, and that he was going to focus on the issues important to the American people.  However, Santorum did argue that Newt failed at taking the momentum he had coming out South Carolina and converting it in to establishing himself as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney.  According to Santorum, Newt proved to make himself the issue and the American people do not need a President who is the issue, but rather a President who can address the issues and solve the problems surrounding them.

All three speeches were actually quite good and they all provided a solid foundation and legitimate reasons for this nomination contest to remain competitive.  The problem is that Santorum and Gingrich will still have to find the resources it takes to convince voters that it really isn’t over.  If Newt can finally stick to the themes he struck in his speech in Florida, themes based on his being the anti-establishment candidate and a true conservative leader capable of achieving very real and very bold reforms, he can survive long enough to see another victory, but it may not happen for another month or more and the longer he goes without a victory, the harder it will be for him to achieve one.

Right now, the only thing we can be certain of is that Mitt Romney is the one in the catbird seat tonight.  The real problem I see here though is that Romney is still the candidate which for numerous reasons, many Republicans seem to be settling for.  Such uninspired support makes it quite possible for someone like Newt to turn things around by actually inspiring people and causing voters say, you know what?  I don’t have to settle for Mitt. We can do better.”

Until Mitt Romney is willing to stop playing it safe, and proves that he too can be a bold leader, he will remain vulnerable to being overshadowed by the boldness of Newt Gingrich’s vision and red meat agenda.  For Mitt it is now a judgement call and a gamble.  Does he continue to play it safe and rely on his giant campaign war chest to suppress the amount of support Gingrich and  risk the possibility of Newt turning things around again?  Or  does he step out of his safety zone and make an attempt to prove that he is more than just a wealthy Republican establishment candidate?

My experience with Romney leads me to believe that he will continue to play it safe with the expectation that Newt will be do just the opposite and a loss it all by taking one too many risks.

On a final note, yes I know that I did not mention Ron Paul and that I did not include his concession speech.  And no it is not because I am afraid that if I give him any ink, people will flock to his side and elect him President.  The reason I did not include Ron Paul is because he has yet to become a significant factor in this election and because he said absolutely nothing new in his speech following his single digit, last place showing in Florida.

Bookmark and Share

Florida Chooses Safe and Electable

In a repeat of 2008, Florida is betting on electability.  The only difference is that this time around Mitt Romney is the one who has been deemed “electable”.  After pouring millions of dollars into off the wall, and in some cases outright dishonest, advertising portraying Newt Gingrich as a disgraced philanderer, hated by anyone who worked with him, Mitt got one huge point across.  Newt can’t stand up to a multi-million dollar smear campaign.

The argument for Mitt in Florida seems to be, “if Mitt Romney can do that to Newt, imagine what Obama would do”.  The implication seems to be that Obama has more money and could even be dirtier and more dishonest than Romney was.  That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for Mitt Romney.

Romney made a bit of his own gamble.  He won Florida with a scorched earth campaign that pulled out all the stops.  Frankly, most Floridians have a sour taste in their mouths.  Forgiving Mitt and getting excited for him may end up being a tough pill to swallow for Newt supporters, and Santorum/Paul supporters are pretty well disgusted with both candidates. McCain used some of the same tactics against Romney in 2008 and many Floridians had a hard time getting excited for McCain.

Had Gingrich performed well in the last debate and won Florida, this race would be close to done.  Instead, Romney is now back in front and has a clear path to the Republican nomination.  He is once again the presumed nominee.  At what cost?  That is the question leaving Florida.

In an interesting development, Romney garnered more votes than Newt and Santorum combined.  Just further proof that Florida conservatives surrendered to electability.

My Endorsement

In the interest of full disclosure, today I voted for Newt Gingrich and I am officially endorsing him for President.  Newt has one thing the other candidates lack, bold accomplishable ideas.  Newt’s 15% flat tax plan is the best tax plan of the remaining candidates.  Unlike Paul who talks about how we should leave the Middle East alone, Gingrich actually has a viable American energy plan that would help us avoid the next war in the Middle East.  Newt has a proven track record of being revolutionary and putting better policies above political games.  He leashed Clinton and accomplished welfare reform and balanced budgets.  Newt also has the determination and vision to argue the 14th amendment in the abortion debate to protect the unborn.

I have forgiven Newt for his personal past, as I think all Christians should.  Newt testified against Freddie Mac, against giving them money, and in favor of reforming them.  Mitt Romney has a funny idea of what lobbying is.  I also have no issue supporting a conservative who has made enemies among establishment, middle of the road Republicans.  We used to call moderates RINOs before we started consistently nominating them.

Don’t get me wrong, I will support Mitt Romney over Barack Obama.  I’ll even get a yard sign and show up at rallies like I did with McCain.  But Newt is my first choice, and Romney has greatly disappointed me with the way he ran his Florida campaign.  Shame on Mitt Romney for not having enough bold ideas and vision to keep him from having to resort to negative campaigning to get elected.

Gingrich Campaign Makes Desperate Calls to Jewish Florida Senior Citizens

Bookmark and Share   In what has got to be one of the most desperate attempts to target a message to a critical voting bloc an election, Newt Gingrich’s campaign approved a robocall that went out to Florida’s large Jewish vote.

The call went specifically to elderly Jewish senior citizens which is a smart move, Senior citizens are the most reliable voters in the nation and they show up to polls in percentages than larger all other demographics.

However, the Gingrich call was an uttrerly shameful pitch to Jewish senior citizens that essentially chose to exploit the Holocaust and make a comparison that suggests even the Nazi’s didn’t force Jews to eat non-kosher food, but Mitt Romney did.

The allegation is based on a measure which Romney vetoed as the Governor of Massachusetts but the truth is the bill never actually prevented kosher food from being served to Jewish residents in various facilities, and Romney’s veto did not cut any funding for kosher food services have but merely vetoed additional funds. The ultimate decision not serve kosher food certain nursing homes was actually made by individual nursing homes which did have a substantial enough Jewish population in their facilities.

As a supporter of Newt, even I must admit that this robocall was in extremely poor taste and in many ways, even offensive.

The Holocaust is too significant a tragedy in world history to exploit and trivialize by introducing it in to shallow politics with distortions, lies, and such sheer maliciousness.

After South Carolina, I was confident that Newt needed to go after the Jewish vote in Florida.  One reason was because he has an incredible record on Israel that could have greatly appealed to the Jewish community.  But I never meant for him to go after the Jewish vote by angering senior citizens over the Holocaust and comparing Mitt Romney to Nazi’s.

Bookmark and Share

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.

John McCain Wants the Presidential Candidates to Stop All These Silly Debates

Bookmark and Share   While defending Mitt Romney, his choice for President, in an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press,  failed 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain told host David Gregory that he wishes the Republican presidential candidates would stop participating in all the presidential debates that are taking place.

According to McCain, the debates “are driving down our candidates favorable ratings” and are making it harder whoever the nominee is to defeat President Obama in November.

The statement begs the question, is John McCain losing his mind, or has he already lost it?

McCain’s objection to the presidential candidates having as many as 19 debates in the last 8 months is both dumb and a quintessential example of establishment thinking.  Only a true established member of the political class would take issue with politicians having to discuss the issues and defend their records and policies in front of an audience comprised of the American electorate.  The political elite may not like being held accountable in a forum that is not scripted so tightly that it allows for a one way conversation of the candidate telling the voters what they think the voters want to hear, but voters do appreciate having the opportunity to see their potential President have to think on their feet.

Furthermore; even if John McCain is correct in his assertion that all the debates are responsible for driving down the favorability numbers of the G.O.P. candidates, then so be it.  If it is true that the more the candidates seeking the Republican presidential nomination talk, the more they less people like them, then we do not deserve to win the presidency in November.  If we as a Party can not find a true leader based upon the realistic expectation that they can effectively articulate our cause and the solutions to our problems, than we deserve to lose.

But what it comes down to is that John McCain can’t actually believe his own words.  He can’t really be suggesting that debates are a bad thing.

What McCain is really suggesting is that Newt Gingrich survived this campaign and surged in it because of he outperformed the man that McCain is supporting……Mitt Romney.  And it is clear to McCain that had there not been 19 debates, Mitt would not have been dominated by Newt on 19 different occasions.    So here is Senator McCain actually calling for fewer debates because they are not helping his hand picked choice for President win voters over.

What it comes down to is this.

McCain’s call for the debates to stop is offensive and counterproductive.  It is typical establishment, inside-the-beltway, thinking that is designed to shelter the political class from those whom they seek to govern and it is quite arrogant and antithetical to democratic process.  It is the type of thinking that could only come out the mouth of a from a person who has spent over thirty years in the bubble that is Washington.  They are certainly not the words or thoughts of a so-called “Maverick”.

I will concede that it is quite unfortunate that Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have resorted to attacking one another with distortions that are absolutely over the top.  I feel it is a shame that Newt Gingrich saw fit to travel down the same low road that Mitt Romney and the establishment led us down and that Mitt Romney finds it impossible to build himself up without first tearing down everyone else down.  However I will not go so far as to say that the answer is to stop the debates and limit the discussion to sanitized forums which do not allow candidates to raise and debate legitimate issues before the American people.

To his credit, Mitt Romney has not taken the same position as his establishment surrogate, Senator John McCain.  So while I will not hold McCain’s ignorant and offensive comments against him, but as someone who can easily support Romney if he is the nominee, I would like to suggest to him that he stop trying to embrace the political establishment so tightly.  Instead of using the Dole’s, McCain’s, and Tom DeLay’s of the political world as a ladder to which he can climb to power with, Mitt Romney should be running away from the establishment and building himself up as a candidate of independent, conservative thought, who brings to the table something that the establishment doesn’t……real life and business experience.

Whether Mitt realizes it or not, the establishment support he is receiving is not helping him among the voters he needs most.  The anti-establishment voters who are far removed from the political class and who are disdainful of Beltway politics.  Another thing that Mitt should realize is that the more the political establishment attacks Newt Gingrich, the more the anti-establishment coalesces around Gingrich.

In other words, Mitt Romney should tell surrogates like McCain to shut the hell up.

While he might think that the public pitches that Washington insiders are making on Romney’s behalf are helping him in places like Florida, he should realize that every time the establishment wins, the voters rally behind the anti-establishment candidates.  So even if Romney does wins Florida, if he does so through a strategy that employs tactics designed at assassinating the character of Newt Gingrich through the political class, then the voting class will lash out against him somewhere else, primarily in Minnesota, Missouri, and Arizona, which hold their nominating contests in late february and early March.

Bookmark and Share

Cain Changes Endorsement, This Time Makes Sense

I have to admit, I was not very impressed when Herman Cain made an unconventional endorsement by endorsing “the American people”.  I mean, how cliche can you get.  Today, Cain redeemed himself by actually stepping out on a limb and endorsing an actual candidate.  Cain, not too surprisingly, endorsed Newt Gingrich.  This makes Cain the second former candidate to come out supporting Gingrich, the other being Rick Perry.

Newt meanwhile is struggling to cross the finish line in Florida after an up and down week.  What he failed to do Thursday night was seal the deal with one last stellar debate performance.  Instead, Newt seemed stunned for part of the night, and all too willing to tangle with Mitt the other part of the night even though he seemed to know it was a bad idea.  Without that stellar performance, and with a constant barrage of negative advertising against him, Newt is now struggling in Florida polls with no national event to put him back in Florida’s good graces.

 

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.

 

Does Newt Really Have The Momentum to Keep Winning?

Bookmark and Share  If one were to look at Florida, the answer is yes.

Since his exceptionally strong, first place, landslide victory in the South Carolina Republican presidential primary, Newt Gingrich has at least temporarily established himself as the only candidate with momentum on his side.

Ron Paul, and his supposed ever growing massive number of supporters doesn’t seem to be quite as massive or as rapidly growing as once thought, since his last place showing in South Carolina, and he has all but conceited the election and admitted that he is just in this thing not win, but to pick up enough delegates to finally become politically relevant.

Rick Santorum, has gone from being the surprise underdog winner of the Iowa Caucus to being the man who many question why he is still running.  And Mitt Romney has seen himself gone from a frontrunner and the inevitable nominee, to being the candidate who many are  beginning to feel that if he hasn’t locked up the nomination yet, he may never do it.

But Newt Gingrich’s recent resurrection, from political death which propelled him to become the winner of the first in the South Primary has clearly set the stage for him to finally hit a stride that will make this a two man race between himself and Mitt Romney.

In less than 24 hours of his winning South Carolina, Newt raised a million dollars and since than he has more than doubled that total. Furthermore; in Florida, Gingrich has opened seven  offices with two more yet to be opened, hired 14 paid staffers and signed up 5,000.  By contrast, Romney’s campaign had just five staffers and three offices in Florida by early this week. And on top of that, when it concerns the polls, Gingrich has gone from 27% last week, to 35% this week, a swing of eight percent which now finds Romney falling two percent and in to second place.  Such dramatic numbers would certainly indicate that Newt has the wind at his back, while Romney and the others are now encountering strong headwinds in Florida.

Normally, even though these are solid signs for Newt, I would not be very confident in his ability to keep this recent turn of events moving in his direction.  In the past Newt’s proclivity for the untraditional has forced him to rely on instincts which motivate him to go with unconventional strategies, strategies which, like his previous attempt to attack Mitt Romney from the left and go off the deep end by distorting Mitt’s record of success in the free market, have hurt him.  However after Monday night’s debate, Newt demonstrated a degree of political maturity which he has not often displayed prior to now.  He carried himself as a humble frontrunner and held back any desire he may have had to respond to Mitt Romney’s own distortions with any exaggerated flare that could have undermined Newt’s credibility.  Instead it was Mitt Romney who appeared to be desperate and stretching to find any fatal flaws in Newt Gingrich’s record.

In addition to that, up to now, Newt has not had the type of financial resources that permitted him to to take proper advantage of media advertising which helps to carry his message beyond the audiences that may sit and watch the debates which he typically excels in.  And at the same time, even though Mitt Romney has already spent upwards of $10.5 million on Florida advertising,  he is losing ground.  This bodes quite well for Newt who with his coffers filling up, and with the aid a $5 million single donation to a Gingrich Super PAC in Florida, can now chip away at the dominance of Romney’s campaign in the Sunshine State.

But that’s not the only reason I remain optimistic for Newt at least in Florida.

In his attempt to stop the newtmentum, Romney seems to be making some of his first strategic stumbles.  In the most recent debate, while hoping to paint Newt as a Washington insider and influence peddler, he brought up the issue of Medicaid Part D and claimed that Newt was paid by health companies that could benefit from a piece of legislation, to lobby Congress Medicaid Part D’s passage.  During Monday’s debate he said to Gingrich;

“If you’re getting paid by health companies, if your  entities are getting paid by, and you then meet with Republican congressmen and  encourage them to support that legislation, you can call it whatever you  like. I call it influence peddling” .

The argument could potentially have legs, but not in Florida, where the nation’s largest population of senior citizens benefitted from the program and where Gingrich successfully dismissed Romney’s claims and accused Mitt of being a serial twister of the truth.   Gingrich countered Mitt’s charge in part by stating

 “I think it’s pretty clear to say that I have never,  ever gone and done any lobbying,”

 He also added that he was  proud of the fact that he publicly, openly advocated the prescription drug program.

That last statement was essentially the punch that ended and won that round for Newt.  It successfully appealed to the very large senior citizen voting bloc in Florida, the voters who when it’s time to cast their ballots, happen to turn out in the largest numbers .

Additionally, Romney seems to be counting on tieing Newt Gingrich to the tide of foreclosures in Florida.

Florida took a hit second only to Nevada in the housing crisis and by claiming Newt made money from Freddie Mac which essentially oversaw the creation and bursting of the housing bubble, he is hoping that Floridians who lost their homes will see Newt Gingrich as the villain who profited from their losses.  The problem is that Republicans are not buying what Mitt is trying to sell in that area of political campaigning.  And another thing to note is that those individuals who lost their homes because they provided mortgages that they were not qualified for in the first place, are not voting for either Newt or Mitt.  So clearly, Mitt Romney is throwing a wildly wrong  pitch and throwing it to the wrong people.

Then there is something else working against Mitt in Florida.

Unlike the previous three contests, Florida is a closed primary.

In a closed primary or caucus, only registered members of a Party may vote in that Party’s primary and Independents, those not registered with either major Party, are not permitted to vote in either major Party’s primary. Democrats who may like Mitt Romney’s moderate image, will not be able to influence who Republicans nominate as their Party’s candidate.  This is the way I believe it should be.  It is also one of the reasons why Ron Paul has written Florida off.  Since his hero worshippers from outside of the G.O.P. and within the sphere of liberal-tarian lunacy, can not sabotage the Republican process, they are picking up their toys and not playing in the Sunshine State.  All of this is good news for Newt, who if he keeps it together, just might be able to extend his good fortune into the forseeable future.

But even if he does hold it together in Florida, he will still forced to confront some very rough seas.

Following Florida will be two contests that Mitt Romney so far looks unbetable in….Nevada and Michigan.  This will provide at least a psychological sense of momentum that swings back towards Mitt  and away from Newt.  When that time comes, Newt will have to confront his challenge, a challenge that will force him to prove he has the staying power to comeback, and put Romney back on the ropes.  So far Newt has proven that he has considerable political stamina, but if he wins Florida, he will have to turn that stamina in to a knockout punch that he can land sometime after Nevada and Michigan.  If he can’t land such a punch, Republicans could very easily end up seeing this race last longer than the 2008 Democrat nomination between President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, or worse…….maybe even the first brokered convention since 1976 when President Gerald Ford was almost dumped by the Party in exchange for future President Ronald Reagan.

Bookmark and Share

Gingrich Drops a Knockout Punch Money Bomb, Santorum Goes on the Attack, and Romney Tries to Stay Intact

Bookmark and Share   The three major candidates that will be moving on to compete in the Florida primary on January 31st, are all trying to set a tone that will allow them to come leave South Carolina with the type of momentum and enthusiasm that they will need to do as best as they can in the Sunshine State.

Following his third place showing in South Carolina, Rick Santorum, sent an email out to his supporters that tried to stress how this nomination is anyone’s to win.

According to Santorum’s email;

“For the first time, three different candidates have won the first three contests of the Republican nomination contest.  It’s a clear signal from voters that this race is still wide open. And that’s why we must keep the pressure on.”

Santorum goes a step further and tries to motivate his supporters by getting them angry at Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich while also taking swipes at their electability.  In the case of Mitt Romney, he writes;

“The Romney campaign is now nervous. Just a few weeks ago they were talking about a “clean sweep” in the first three primary states. Now it looks like they are one for three — just like our campaign and Newt’s.

That’s why the former frontrunner’s Boston-based consultants launched a series of misleading robocalls against me in South Carolina. I guess they think that’s the way to win elections.

I’ve got news for them. You can’t fool voters, and when you try, they turn on you. That’s why Romney’s campaign is on the ropes and, frankly, acting desperate.”

In regards to Newt Gingrich, Santorum states;

“Newt, on the other hand, thinks if he puts his ego on display, voters will like it. There’s no doubt Newt talks the talk. Problem is, when you look at his record, he doesn’t walk the walk. Leading Republicans have said nominating Newt would be “a disaster” for the Party. When I point that out, Newt starts attacking my “electability”. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

Santorum adds;

Our campaign won’t stand for attacks like these. At the same time, we won’t sink to their level. I intend to continue pushing my positive, values-based campaign without taking cheap shots at my opponents. Voters who hear our message like what we have to say — and I will continue to draw a sharp contrast between our vision for America and that of President Obama’s.

For his part, moments after he delivered his remarks following the release of the Palmetto State primary election results, the now again, former frontrunner for the nomination, Mitt Romney, tried to convey a sense of urgency to his own supporters by trying to make them aware of how important Florida is to his campaign and letting them know this nomination contest is a real fight.  He stated;

“This is a hard fight because there is so much worth fighting for.  Tomorrow we take our fight to Florida — a state that knows too well the failures of President Obama.  A lot is at stake in Florida in 10 days. But we cannot stop there. The road to the White House this November will go through Florida.”

Right before he took to the stage in South Carolina to declare his first primary election victory, Newt’s campaign emailed supporters a message that was intended to insure that they remain motivated by their almost inherent disgust for the mainstream and Washington establishment.

Newt wrote;

“Our success in yesterday’s South Carolina primary is a result of one thing: a national movement of conservative patriots who want to see bold solutions enacted to rebuild the America we love. The political establishment in Washington and their allies in the liberal media have written our campaign off as dead – not once, but twice! But here’s something they couldn’t account for: the American people know that we need a Reagan conservative to debate Obama, to draw stark contrasts with Obama, and to make sure we defeat Obama!”

And in an attempt to undermine Rick Santorum, Newt also tried to establish himself as the one viable conservative alternative to Mitt Romney and uses Sarah Palin and Rick Perry as evidence of the type conservatives who are behind him.  He writes;

“Over the last few days, we’ve seen conservatives in South Carolina – and across the country – unify behind our bold campaign of ideas. With support from great conservatives like Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, Michael Reagan, 100 Tea Party leaders, and millions of proud Americans it doesn’t matter how despicable the attacks from the media get, together we will continue to persevere. This election is about fundamentally changing the direction of our nation, and I am honored to represent the ideas of freedom and prosperity for the conservative movement.”

The Gingrich campaign then makes a pitch for some of the much needed money that they will have to raise if they intend to compete effectively against Romney in Florida.  They launch a money bomb called the “Knockout Punch” and Gingrich adds;

“If you want to watch us run circles around Barack Obama in the debates with bold conservative ideas, then please make a donation today as part of our two-day “knockout punch” money bomb! Help us solidify the conservative momentum, join our campaign today!

 Clearly, South Carolina has put the pressure on each of the three most serious   candidates remaining in the race.
Romney must finally try to convince conservatives that he really is one of them.  Rick Santorum must try to remain relevant by avoiding another third place showing.  And Newt Gingrich must try to prove that his landslide victory in South Carolina was not a fluke and that he really is capable of going all the way.
And with each of these three men having won one statewide nomination contest apiece, each of them wants to desperately break that tie.  Right now the money is on Romney in Florida, but if you recall, less than ten days prior to the South Carolina primary, the money was on Romney to win there too and look how that turned out for him.
Bookmark and Share

A Close Look at Newt Gingrich’s Landlside Victory in South Carolina

Bookmark and Share   Newt Gingrich’s victory in South Carolina was nothing less than astonishing and while it marked Newt’s second return to life during this election cycle, it hardly makes the race for the Republican presidential nomination any clearer than it was after the two previous state contests.  What it did do though was make clear that Mitt Romney has some big problems.  So does Gingrich, but Newt’s problem seems to be more with the general electorate than the Republican electorate.

Final Results for the South Carolina Republican Presidential Primary

According to a breakdown of the votes which produced an impressive 12% lead over Mitt Romney, the rival to come closest to him, in addition to so far winning 23 of the 25 delegates from the state, Newt won almost every single Republican demographic in the state.  He defeated all the other candidates among just about every voting bloc.  He took a majority of the vote among women, men, urban voters, suburban voters, voters with high school level educations and college educations, voters of all income brackets, and he even won a majority of votes among those who describe themselves not just as conservative Republicans, but even among those who describe themselves liberal Republicans.  However; Romney did beat Gingrich among self described moderates with 36% of them for Mitt,  to 31% for Newt.

Gingrich not only won a plurality of evangelical Christians, he won Catholics and Protestants, as well as both married and single voters.

The only demographics that Newt did lose were those between the ages of 18 and 29, and  those who said that a candidates religion either mattered very little in their choice of candidate, or not at all.

Ron Paul won the 18 to 29 year old age group with 32% of their vote, to 27% of their vote for Gingrich.  As seen in the table below, that 5% margin between Newt and Ron Paul tightens up in the older half of that age bracket, where 25 to 29 year olds gave Ron Paul 31% of the vote and Newt Gingrich 29% of their vote.

As for those who find little or no importance in a candidate’s sharing similar religious beliefs with them, Mitt Romney beats Gingrich by anywhere from 3 to 10%, as seen below;

The only real significance that can be found within those numbers have less to do with Romney and Gingrich, and more to do with Rick Santorum.

Last week, 150 national evangelical leaders gathered in Texas and decided to endorse Rick Santorum.  Their hope was to essentially unite the evangelical vote behind one of Mitt’s Romney’s rivals in an attempt to deny Romney the ability to win the nomination.  As I predicted at the time, the move did not work.  Clearly, evangelical voters said those 150 religious leaders can do what they want, because they were going to do their own thing.  In this case, they went for Newt, not Santorum.  As I stated at the time, those evangelical leaders did more harm to their cause than good. In addition to looking unorganized, they now look powerless and have diminished the amount of clout that their future endorsements may carry.

Meanwhile, while Ron Paul narrowly defeated Gingrich among the younest voters, who accounted for 9% of the total vote in South Carolina, he quite surprisingly lost two groups that he desperatley needed for a strong showing.

One of those groups were Independents.

South Carolina’s open primary system allows Independents to vote in the Republican primary.  This was the case in  Iowa and New Hampshire too, and in both those states, Independent voters were in fact the main reason Ron Paul did as well as he did in those states.  I have often stated, if left up to Republicans, Ron Paul is nothing but a second tier candidate and exit polls in South Carolina supported that conclusion.  But in addition to receiving the least support from Republicans, Ron Paul also lost the Independent vote. And not just to Newt Gingrich, but to Mitt Romney as well.

Among Independents, Gingrich beat Paul by 7%, and Mitt Romney beat Paul by 1%.

Another big defeat for Ron Paul was his loss of the military vote.

Ron Paul prides himself on a statistic which he uses to claim that he receives more support from our military service members, than any other candidate.  Paul likes to make this claim because he believes that his statistic regarding fundraising from servicemen and women, provides him cover for his reckless and dangerous isolationist foreign and national defense policies.  The suggestion is that if the military supports him more than any other candidate, they must like his defense and foreign policies and therefore, they are good policies.

If such were really the case though, South Carolina would be extremely fertile territory for Ron Paul to pull off an electoral coup in.  With several substantial military installations in the state, South Carolina has one of the largest active duty and veteran populations in the nation.  Between that and the state’s open primary system which allows Independents and even Democrats to vote in the Republican primary, if Ron Paul could win any state, South Carolina is that one.  But in addition to losing the Independent vote, Ron Paul also lost the military vote.  And not just by a little and not just to Newt Gingrich.  He lost to Rick Santorum by 4%, Mitt Romney by 20%, and Newt Gingrich by a whopping 27%.

In general, while the results were incredibly good for Newt in South Carolina, they were actually very embarrassing for Ron Paul.

All in all, these numbers help to establish that Newt Gingrich is most certainly a serious threat to Mitt Romney.

While South Carolina is not a the most accurate example of national consensus, it is a relatively good representative picture of national Republican sentiments and an even better predictor of Republican presidential nominees.  But if nothing else, it is a an excellent indicator of how tough it may be for Romney to survive the Southern primaries.

Florida will be the real test for both Romney and Gingrich though.

If there is any Southern state which Romney has an excellent chance of winning, it is Florida.

Florida, may be very Republican, and very conservative, but it has a significant Jewish population. The largest Jewish population in all the South.  That voting bloc tends to be more moderate and liberal, and therefore perfect prospective supporters of Mitt Romney, the man Newt describes as a “Massachusetts moderate”.   In the general election, this Jewish vote in Florida will be critical to winning the state and the presidency, and if recent history is any indication, they may easily be persuaded to vote Republicans, or at least against President Obama.

Several months ago, in a special election to replace disgraced New York liberal Congressman Anthony Weiner, a Republican won that heavily heavily Jewish congressional seat which crosses New York City’s counties of Brooklyn and Queens.  It is a district which has been in Democrat hands for practically a hundred years, yet thanks to a Jewish vote that is very unhappy with President Obama and his policies with Israel and his horrible treatment of Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, Jewish voters elected a relatively conservative, Republican to replace Anthony Weiner.

This all means that the Jewish vote will be quite important and in Florida, it could make the difference between winning and losing in the primary between Mitt and Newt, and winning and losing in the general election between President Obama and whoever the eventual Republican presidential nominee is.

If Newt were smart, he would be headed for Florida right now and direct his campaign operatives to focus in on the Jewish vote and accentuate what is Newt’s very real, very pro-Israel policy record.  As Speaker of the House, Newt accumulated an extremely powerful and very lengthy, positive record on Israel, and that record could provide the margin of victory for Newt over Mitt in Florida.

If Newt can prevent Mitt Romney from winning Florida, he will have a better than 50-50 chance at becoming the Republican nominee. The numbers behind the numbers  in South Carolina, support that.  But in order for Newt to reach those odds, he will have to undermine Romney’s strengths in the Sunshine State.  One of them is money.  Another is organization, and the other is the moderate and liberal element of the Republican Party.  Newt will have the support of conservatives and evangelicals, so long as he does not start attacking from the left again.  All he needs is to win over enough of the moderates to prevent Mitt from getting another Santorum-like 34 vote victory and his uphill battle for the big prize will get a lot less steeper.

For a more comprehensive look at the numbers behind the final election numbers you can visit here .

Bookmark and Share

Effect of Debates vs. Campaign Fatigue

South Carolina is within reach for Newt.  However, he must now combat something other than superpacs and media.  Newt now has to overcome campaign fatigue.  I’m sure that all of the candidates are tired and have been traveling a lot, but that isn’t what I was referring to.  You probably noticed about a month ago that every time there was a new debate, you were sure to have a friend who commented “Really?? Another one??”

Add to the non-stop debates at least 5 major lead changes among social conservatives, a growing, wearying Ron Paul movement, and the constant drum-beat from the establishment that Romney always was going to be the candidate and it is purely undeniable fate, and Romney gets the advantage among Conservatives who are tired of the infighting and want to get on to the main event.

Romney has flaws.  In fact, as I watch his superpac advertise Newt’s baggage (more than an airliner, according to the ad), I have to wonder why Romneycare, running on a pro-abortion platform, and all that does not count as baggage for Romney.  He has not yet been able to get the social conservatives to give him the unanimous thumbs up.  But one thing he has been flawless at has been this particular campaign.  His biggest missteps seem like manufactured class warfare attacks that only make him stronger among conservatives.  For example, he tried to bet $10k in a debate.  Who cares?  So he has $10k to throw around.  Duh, he’s rich.  Not only that, but only a moron, leftist, or member of the mainstream media (but I repeat myself) would think that Romney was actually trying to get Perry to make a financial wager, not just making a point that Perry was off his rocker.

Romney’s comment that he would like to fire his insurance company led to dishonest attacks from fellow conservatives, and perhaps one of the most boring Saturday Night Live opening sketches in history.  Attacks on Bain capital have left most conservatives scratching their heads, wondering if suddenly supporting small businesses and risk taking is no longer GOP approved.  The funnier thing was Obama attacking Romney’s record at Bain, after Obama used our tax dollars against our will to do the same thing with Chrysler against their will.  At least with Bain they were using investor’s money willingly given to help companies who came to them for help.  I can’t imagine the Chrysler bond-holders were hoping Obama would steal Chrysler, sell it to Italy and give the proceeds to the unions.

A couple days before South Carolina, Gingrich’s biggest advantage in the debates may become his worst liability.  Yes, the New Hampshire debate earned top ratings.  But Romney remains unflappable.  On the other hand, in Huckabee’s South Carolina forum on January 14th, the viewership was not quite so wide but Gingrich’s attack on Bain and the crowd’s booing response can be quickly found on youtube.  Going forward, more average voters are going to start relying more on soundbites and replays than taking time away from the playoffs to watch these debates from start to finish.  Without something to rally behind, Newt will not be able to recover the lost ground.

Romney won Iowa and New Hampshire, continuing to cement his front runner and assumed nominee status.  A South Carolina win will make it nearly impossible for any other candidate to catch up despite the fact that Romney continues to come no where near grabbing a majority of Republicans.  By the time Santorum and Perry drop out, Romney may have enough momentum to convince conservative holdouts to stop fighting him and start fighting with him against Obama.

Iowa Recap

Romney won, Bachmann quit, Santorum is rising, Paul is maintaining his status quo, Newt is struggling, Perry has faith, and Huntsman….who?  Iowa recapped:

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney won in Iowa. Honestly?  No big deal. Romney will gain momentum from winning, but when people look at the numbers they will realize that if Michele Bachmann wasn’t in the race, Santorum would have won comfortably.  If Santorum wasn’t in the race, Newt and Perry probably would have both outpolled Romney.  In Iowa, he got his fiscal conservatives and the social conservatives split the rest.  But it’s not all bad for Romney.  In fact, while Romney may have come to a predictable finish, he won by choosing his opponent.  Gingrich was a shoe in to win Iowa barely more than a week ago.  Instead, Santorum now has the social conservative momentum and Romney should easily win New Hampshire and could win South Carolina.  So Romney’s win is:

Good for: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum      Bad for: Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman

Rick Santorum

A shocking surprise to some, a mild surprise for others, Santorum has Huckabee’d Iowa.  With a great ground game, time, hard work, and the luck of Newt Gingrich being destroyed by Romney, Inc, Michele Bachmann, and the Republican establishment, Santorum is finally getting his shot at vetting.  Already, he is being called a war monger and “big government conservative”.  But Santorum’s rise may be too late in the game for a vetting process to destroy him.  Many social conservatives have been waiting for a reason to believe that Santorum could win.  From the day he started running the narrative has been that Santorum is simply unelectable on a national scale.  So, Santorum’s second place finish is:

Good for: Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney   Bad for: Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann

Ron Paul

Paul’s third place finish is certainly not what the Paul camp was hoping for.  Ron Paul came very close to breaking free from his libertarian ceiling, but in the end social conservatives showed they would rather take a gamble on the unvetted Rick Santorum instead of giving Ron Paul the ‘turn’ he was starting to experience.  Paul has been passed over as the anti-Romney.  He may be able to turn things around in New Hampshire, but a third or worse finish in New Hampshire should be a clear signal to Paul that the revolution is over.  Paul’s third place finish is:

Good for: Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney  Bad for: Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich

Even if Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann dropped out of the race and split their votes on a pro rata share, Newt would still not have passed Mitt Romney.  The fact is, Romney ran an incredible, strategic dismantling of Newt without even breaking a sweat.  In the meantime, Newt refused to go dishonestly negative, but managed plenty of headlines saying “Newt Goes on the Attack”.  Newt is realizing in time for New Hampshire, he won’t win with a positive campaign.  Can he win with a negative one?  New Hampshire will probably go Romney’s way.  But Newt needs South Carolina.  Without South Carolina, he won’t have the momentum to take Florida and Florida is the key.  So Newt’s dismal fourth place finish is:

Good for: Mitt Romney   Bad for: Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann

Rick Perry

Perry’s fifth place win got him to re-think his campaign.  But with Michele Bachmann choosing to drop out, perhaps Perry thinks he still has hope.  He should have decided to stay in Texas.  Perry’s placing is:

Bad for: Rick Perry

Michele Bachmann

Bachmann barely registered.  Iowa was her last hope to connect with social and evangelical conservatives and she failed.  Fortunately, this provided the wake up call she needed to see the end of the race.  Bachmann has decided to drop out of the race and return to Minnesota.  Unfortunately for Bachmann, she has not built the cult following that Sarah Palin did.  Hopefully she will continue to be a strong voice for the TEA party.

Good for: Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry   Bad for: Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney

As for the other contender, Jon Huntsman’s disrespectful snub of Iowa, especially in light of Romney’s stronger finish in the state and momentum, seals Huntsman’s irrelevancy.

Rush Hits Newt Again

Six months ago, I wrote an article about Newt Gingrich’s attempt to clarify his views on healthcare.  Newt had gotten himself in trouble when it came out that in 1993 Newt agreed with the Heritage Foundation on an insurance mandate.  At the time, Newt said that he felt there should be a law that made it so that people would need to either buy health insurance, or post a bond when they receive medical care as a guarantee that they will in fact pay for that care.

At the time, I warned Newt that this would cause problems.  Of course, we didn’t have as large a readership back then, so I’m sure he didn’t get my warning.  Shortly before that, Newt was secretly my number one pick to eventually win it all.

With great influence comes great responsibility

Sure enough, right about that time Newt called in to Rush Limbaugh’s show and tried to explain exactly what I said in the first paragraph here.  Rush didn’t buy it, and the godfather of Social Conservatism cast doubt on his blessing of Newt’s candidacy.  Listen to the interview here.  The result was that a couple weeks later I was writing about the rubble of Newt 2012.  In that article, I said that it would take a miracle to revive Newt, that miracle being upward movement in the polls.  Hallelujah, we now know the political gods did not forsake us after 2008.

Today, Rush once again expressed his reservations about Newt.  In what he framed as analysis of Newt’s rise to the top, Rush once again mentioned Newt’s baggage including his support of a mandate in 1993.  While doing his best not to appear against Newt, Rush laid out everything Conservatives should be careful about with Newt.  To be fair though, he did the same for Mitt Romney at the same time.

In the end, Rush chalked up Newt’s rise to the top as two things.  Newt doesn’t defend his mistakes (like Romney does with Romneycare), and he does go after the media for their bias.

It’s a little bit more than that.  Newt has a proven fiscal conservative track record.  He balanced the budget for four years in a row.  The Federal budget, not just one of the 50 states.  That doesn’t even seem in the realm of reality these days.  It would be like saying he walked on water in the context of today’s deficit.  But speaking of walking on water, Newt has the social conservative credentials as well.

In a speech in Jacksonville, Florida yesterday (that yours truly had the privilege of attending), Newt said that under his education reforms, teachers who could not adequately explain what it meant to be endowed by your Creator with certain inalienable rights would be asked to resign.  This was in response to a question from the audience regarding a neighboring county where the government was putting pressure on a pastor there to stop school flagpole prayer meetings.  Newt said that he would seek to end funding for Planned Parenthood and use that money to help promote adoption.  He is pro-school choice.  He has well rounded conservative credentials and unlike Romney, conservatives trust Newt when he says things like supporting a mandate and sharing a couch with Pelosi were stupid.

Frank Luntz on Sean Hannity’s show this afternoon said that everyone was shocked about Newt’s resurgence.  It wasn’t a surprise for me.  I predicted that as the Cain-Gingrich debate received acknowledgment and replay, Newt would rise.  On November 3rd, I said that people were taking a fresh look at Newt Gingrich.  But even better than that, on October 13th, I laid out the path to victory for Newt Gingrich going through South Carolina and Florida.  In a blog titled “Yes He Can”, I analyzed how Cain was preparing to fall on his 9-9-9 plan and how Newt would take early states Iowa and South Carolina, leading to a showdown in Florida between Newt/Mitt.  So no, it wasn’t a shock.  If you’ve been reading this blog, it wasn’t a shock to you either.

In that same article, I said that Newt’s dirty laundry has been airing out for a long time.  It doesn’t smell as “fresh” as Cain’s or Perry’s.  The same is true for Mitt, although Newt knows when to admit to a mistake.  Therefore, in this up and down race where nothing is certain and things change every minute, I am sticking to what I said over a month ago.  Newt/Mitt, for the championship, the second to last GOP debate in Florida in Jacksonville.  Newt will be carrying South Carolina and maybe Iowa to the table, Mitt will have New Hampshire under his belt.  Then the two smartest, most articulate, and strongest leaders will have one last significant chance to make their case.

Rush, Coulter, and any other big-time rightwing players who still think Bachmann, Cain, or Santorum could come back and win, keep dreaming.  It’s more likely that Tebow would win the Superbowl.

PS, I have absolutely nothing against Tebow.  In fact, after Thursday’s game against Rex Ryan and the Jets, Tebow is my second favorite quarterback.

%d bloggers like this: