A stunning success for Santorum in Iowa – Romney’s lack of appeal strikingly worrying

The morning shows were full of the reaction to last night’s Republican Iowa Caucuses. It proved to be a transformational night for former Senator Rick Santorum and his campaign, narrowly losing a virtual tie for the top spot to established front runner Mitt Romney by only 8 votes with each capturing 25% of the vote.

Romney received 30,015 votes to Santorum’s 30,007 votes, according to the Iowa Republican Party, Ron Paul finished with 21 percent of the vote, while former Speaker Newt Gingrich came in fourth with 13 percent and Rick Perry was fifth with 10 percent.

Team Romney and indeed the candidate himself were front and center on all the networks trying to sell last nights victory as a great result. In truth, the reality is quite different. Romney despite a massive spending advantage and running his second campaign in the state in four years still didn’t manage to break through the electoral conservative ceiling once again. He won 25% of the vote which essentially means there are 75% of conservatives in Iowa, who lacked a certain enthusiasm about his candidacy.

While the second place finish was a stunning success and just reward for Santorum following months of travelling throughout Iowa, and will provide the huge cash injection his campaign badly needs, lady luck also played her part in his result. Santorum’s rise was largely due to the hammering Speaker Gingrich took in attack ads over the last month of the campaign. There was also little time for the other candidates to attack Santorum before Tuesday’s vote although Ron Paul did make a late effort. This is a luxury Santorum will not enjoy going forward.

The unexpected result while allowing Santorum to claim the mantle of conservative challenger to Romney as the primary race moves on to New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida through the balance of the month should not be over estimated either. While Santorum’s strong showing represented a stunning resurgence for a politician whose career came to a dramatic halt six years ago with a devastating loss to Sen. Bob Casey, the steepest margin of defeat for any incumbent senator on the 2006 ballot winning just 41% of the vote. The result on balance overall, does not argue well for the GOP challenge going forward against President Obama.

One thing that certainly helps Santorum for the future against Romney was the announcement by Rick Perry that he would be returning to Texas to figure out what’s next – instead of going straight to South Carolina to campaign following a disappointing fifth-place finish in Iowa.

Perry speaking to his supporters Tuesday night, saying he would return to Texas to “reassess” his candidacy.

“When I began this campaign nearly four months ago, I didn’t do it because it was a lifelong ambition to be president of the United States, I did it because our country was in trouble,” Perry said.

“They’re looking for someone to stand up and give them hope that we can get this country back on track again, but with the voters’ decision tonight in Iowa, I have decided to return to Texas, assess the results of tonight’s caucus and determine whether or not there is a path forward for myself in this race.”

Whatever Perry decides, I consider him a gentleman, who regardless of the occasional gaffe brought a sincerity and series of values to the campaign, which raised the profile of the GOP race at a crucial time and gave it some credibility.

Michele Bachmann, came last with only 5% of the vote having won the Ames Iowa Straw Poll only last summer, but was steely in her determination to continue telling her supporter she won’t be dropping out. In her speech, a clearly upset Bachmann said;

“I believe that I am that true conservative who can and who will defeat Barack Obama in 2012,” and over the next few days, just be prepared, the pundits and the press will again try to pick the nominee based on tonight’s results. But there are many more chapters to be written on the path to our party’s nomination and I prefer to let the people of the country decide who will represent us.”

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin urged Bachmann to consider her presidential challenge yesterday saying,” She has a lot to offer, also, but I don’t think it is her time this go-around. She added: ‘And I believe that unless she, too, wants to spend her own money or borrowing money and perhaps go into debt, which – heaven forbid – you do that to your family?’

Speaker Gingrich was resolute in his challenge going forward making it clear he will try his best to take apart Romney’s record, labelling him the “Massachusetts Moderate.”

“We are not going to go out and run nasty ads,” said Gingrich, “but I do reserve the right to tell the truth,” Gingrich said to loud cheers from his supporters.

“And if the truth seems negative, that may be more of a comment on his record than on politics,” Gingrich added.

So looking ahead to New Hampshire; we have Santorum definitely with the momentum as the anti-Romney candidate for now. Ron Paul and his supporters have proven they are a force to be reckoned with in this campaign and cannot be dismissed or ignored. Newt is in fighting spirits and ready to change tactics and take on Romney and Paul on their records; with Perry seemingly ready to quit and, Michele Bachmann virtually but respectfully. irrelevant.

Romney will win New Hampshire, but it will not be by the 30 point margin some were predicting a few weeks ago, as the field shrinks and the race stretches out, Romney’s chances of winning through the primaries and getting the nomination reduce.

Do not dismiss Jon Huntsman’s make or break strategy in New Hampshire either, if Huntsman actually manages to spring a surprise positive result, he could do Romney serious damage and who would bet against him winning the moderate vote within the GOP either.

The real challenge and best chance of a Republican Party victory against President Obama in November firmly rests with the right conservative side of the party and on the candidate’s ability to raise money, get organized and stay disciplined.

In Santorum’s words, Game on!

Romney Wins The Iowa Caucus By 8 Votes!

Bookmark and Share   With 99% of the vote in, 4 votes separating the first and second place candidates, and blurry eyed anchors and reporters on their seventh hour of live broadcasts struggling for things to say, Iowa State Republican Party officials have reported that they could not find the results from the precinct in one county and two precincts in another county may have incorrectly transposed the results for one candidate to another.
However, with all the proper adjustments made and vote verified by monitors from both the Romney and Santorum camps, it was decided that Romney wins the Iowa Caucus by 8 votes.

For Rick Santorum, the good news is that the results are so  close that he will still be considered a big winner.  The good news for Mitt Romney is that he did what he failed to do 4 years ago after spending $10 million dollars.

The bad news is that Iowa Republicans are not exactly helping Republicans outside of their state, feel confident in their stewardship of an election that has as profound an effect on national politics as the Iowa Caucus.

For political junkie, the evening could not have been more extraordinary.  Between Santorum’s remarkable underdog campaign roaring from behind, Mitt Romney’s struggle to hold on to frontrunner status, a second tier battle for relevance between Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul, and the added tension and intrigue of human error, the night was truly one for the history books.

The initial story here is the emergence of Rick Santorum.  The story that is yet to unfold is how well Santorum can build upon his surprise victory.

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Game On! Santorum Emails Voters and Declares Himself the “Full Spectrum Conservative”

Moments before Rick Santorum took to the stage to make a victory lap in the Iowa Caucus and declare “game on”, his campaign issued an email declaring himself the only authentic, passionate conservative wo can unite the GOP.

The message was essentially designed to capitalize on his surprise, come from behind victory with some much needed fundraising, but as you will you read in yourself, Santorum is dead serious when he says “game on”.

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Dear Patriot:

It’s Now or Never for Conservative voters. We can either unite now behind one candidate and have a conservative standard bearer in 2012, or have the GOP establishment choose another moderate Republican who will have a difficult time defeating Barack Obama in November.

I don’t think that’s what you want. Neither do I. My name is Rick Santorum, and I am the only authentic, passionate conservative who can unite the GOP.

I need an URGENT contribution of at least $35 today to unite conservative voters and win the Republican nomination.

 We shocked the world last night in Iowa. We did it with a coalition of conservatives, Tea Party members, and values voters who recognized that my successful conservative record gives the GOP the best chance to defeat Barack Obama.

No more sitting on the sidelines. Now is the time to act or get stuck with a bland, boring, career politician who will lose to Barack Obama. Tomorrow will be too late. Will you unite with me, merge conservative support, and help us hold our banner high? Your contribution of $35, $50, or even $75 can make sure this happens.

 The next test is New Hampshire … a state Mitt Romney has campaigned in for over four years. This is why I need your immediate support. I’m counting on conservatives around America to respond to this call for help. If we are divided in New Hampshire, we will lose this opportunity to keep the momentum.

I will be the most conservative President since Ronald Reagan. I am not going to Washington to blend in and hope people like me. I am running to dismantle the Obama Agenda and lead–like Reagan did.

The Washington Post said, “Rick Santorum was a tea-party kind of guy before the tea-party even existed.” As a conservative U.S. Senator from the swing state of Pennsylvania, I led the overhaul of welfare that moved millions from welfare to work. I authored the bill banning partial-birth abortion, and I passed legislation that protected America from Iran’s growing nuclear threat.

If you want a President who will stand up for conservative values, who is consistent on the issues, and who has a record to back it up, then I need you to join my campaign.

I need you to join me today. Right now. Not tomorrow or next week. If you want to roll back the Obama Agenda with a real conservative, this is your chance. The future of our country depends on what conservatives like you do in the next 72 hours.

Will you join us today with a generous contribution of whatever you can afford?

I give Republicans the best option to put a full-spectrum conservative in the White House. Help me make history!

Sincerely,

 

 Rick Santorum

P.S. I went from longshot to the Iowa Caucus “surprise candidate” overnight. Now conservatives must unite or be defeated. Please donate today and take a stand with my campaign. Join the fight!

Rick Perry Considers If There is a Way Forward for Him on the Road to the White House

Bookmark and Share  After a poor fifth place showing in the Iowa Caucuses, Governor Rick Perry gave a a very gracious concession speech in  which he announced that with great prayer and reflection, he would head home to Texas and determine if there is a way forward for him in the Republican presidential nomination.
Perry polled a sobering 11% percent in the Caucus with a total of approximately 12,300 votes.  It was less than 3,000 votes behind 4th place finisher Newt Gingrich and twice as many votes as Michele Bachmann who took 6% of the vote and finished ahead of only Jon Huntsman who did not campaign in Iowa.
Given the large amount of time and financial resources that Perry invested in to Iowa, his inability to break through as a top tier candidate would seem unlikely to change as the campaign moves to New Hampshire and beyond.  The poor showing will severely hamper Perry’s ability to raise money and now finds himself in a tough position to build the confidence in voters that he needs to prove to them that he will be electable.
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Final Iowa Caucus Vote Totals

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A Political Week Like No Other

Bookmark and Share    This first week of the new year is probably one of the most politically important of this entire year. At least for Republicans.

In many ways it will be an unprecedented week of decisions and opportunities. Most of the decisions are likely going to deal more with who can’t become President, than who will become President and the opportunities that will be made available deal with candidates establishing themselves as frontrunners or as the alternative to the frontrunner.

In addition to Iowans making their choice for the Republican presidential nomination known on Tuesday, several days of interpretations of what those results mean will lead in to not one, but two presidential debates………..one on Saturday night and the other on Sunday morning.

The existing dynamics of the week will be unlike that of anything we have seen ever before in a presidential election.

Not only will the results of tonight’s Iowa Caucus have a significant impact on the Republican presidential field, win or lose, each of the candidates will have two highly publicized chances to either redeem or discredit themselves. Despite the lack of prime time placement of both these debates, they will be held in an echo chamber of instant and constant news cycles, that will reverberate far beyond the size of the actual live audiences that view them on Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

The possible scenarios coming out of the Iowa Caucus are infinitesimal, but you can rest assured of three basic storylines. One is of a frontrunner playing it safe enough to to assure them of not making a blunder that can steal their thunder. Another is of a significant challenger to the frontrunner trying to land the type of political punches that can allow them to perform better than expected in New Hampshire and the final scenario which is several candidates like Bachmann, Huntsman and at least two others, struggling for relevance and the hope to survive long enough to make a final successful in South Carolina.

So buckle up my fellow Republicans. This is going to be one hell of a week in politics and the Iowa Caucuses are merely going to be the first big climb of many on this rollercoaster ride.

Saturday’s debate will be sponsored by WMUR, the ABC-affiliate in Manchester, New Hampshire. It will be held at 9 p.m. ET on the January 7th, and will be moderated by ABC’s Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos and WMUR anchor Josh McElveen.

Less than 12 hours later, NBC News, Facebook will hold a debate on morning of Sunday, January 8, during a special edition of “Meet the Press”. It will be moderated by host David Gregory, who will be assisted in the questioning of the candidates by reporters from The New Hampshire Union Leader. The debate will air on NBC and MSNBC, and stream live as part of a unique experience on Facebook.

Viewers and users can go to facebook.com/MeetThePress and facebook.com/USPolitics to share questions for the debate and interact with others interested in the event.

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Iowa’s King Predicts a Third Place Finish for Gingrich

Bookmark and Share   Iowa Congressman Steve King is a sort of conservative kingmaker in the Hawkeye State, yet he refused to playthat  role in the Iowa presidential caucuses.  Instead he is going down to wire claiming to be one of the 41% of caucus goers who are still undecided about who to support when the Caucuses begin at 7:00 PM.

But according to New York Times national political correspondent Jeff Zelney, King has predicted a third place showing for Newt Gingrich.

The prediction mirrors my own optimistic hopes for a decent showing by Gingrich.  As I have previously contended, a third place finish for Newt will allow him the opportunity to remain realistically viable.

While King is now predicting that Gingrich will fare better than polls currently indicate, he did not explain who he thinks will not live up to the expectations set by the existing polls and underperform.  In my book, the candidate who is most likely to not meet expectations is Ron Paul.  And if King is right, Gingrich’s third place showing would most likely mean a fourth place showing for Ron Paul.  That would be a disastrously poor showing for poll.

In recent days, the bar for poll was quite high as poll numbers indicated that he was at times in first place.  Those expectations will prove to be a humongous let down if Paul is beaten by Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich.

Going in tonight’s caucus, I am standing my own earlier prediction and am giving the edge to Ron Paul over Newt Gingrich simply due to Newt’s lack of any truly effective organization to coordinate his ground game in Iowa.  But I am quite hopeful that Steve King is right.

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