The Herd: A Look at The Republican Vice Presidential Candidates. Newt Gingrich

Bookmark and Share   The Herd is a special White House 2012 series covering the obvious and not so obvious potential choices to be selected as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate on the Republican presidential ticket.  Each day, White House 2012 will introduce you to one the many Republicans which we believe will be at least considered for the vice presidency by the now inevitable presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.

In addition to a biographical information and a brief assessment of each potential nominee and their chances of being selected by Mitt Romney, White House 2012′s coverage also includes each potential nominee’s voting records, as well as a listing of their public statements and links to their web sites.

Today White House 2012 takes a look at former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich

Born: June 17, 1943, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Spouse(s):Jackie Battley (1962-1981), Marianne Ginther (1981-2000), Callista Gingrich(2000-?)

Children: Two daughters, two sons-in-law and two grandchildren.

Residence : Carrollton, Georgia (79-93), Marrietta, Georgia (93-99) McLean Virginia (Current)

Alma mater:Emory University,Tulane University

Profession:College Professor, author, Member of Congress

Religion: Roman Catholic

Political Career :

  • Two unsuccessful runs for Congress in Georgia’s sixth congressional district in 1974 and 1976
  • Elected to Congress in 1978 and subsequently served for 8 more terms until 1999
  • From 1989 to 1995 he served as the 16th United States House Minority Whip
  • From 1995 to 1999 he served as the 58th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

Throughout his continuing career, Gingrich has proven to be a prolific and top selling author. Most of his novels are comprised of innovative, conservative policy initiatives and directions that are rooted in the founding principle of our nation. His first book was published in January of 1982. It was entitledThe Government’s Role in Solving Societal Problems and offered a solid foundation for conservative leadership in America. But his breakout book came in 1985 withWindow of Opportunity, a profound compilation of of path to prosperity in America.

Other works include:

  • Contract with America (co-editor).
  • Restoring the Dream
  • Quotations from Speaker Newt
  • To Renew America
  • Lessons Learned The Hard Way
  • Presidential Determination Regarding Certification of the Thirty-Two Major Illicit Narcotics Producing and Transit Countries
  • Saving Lives and Saving Money
  • Winning the Future
  • Rediscovering God in America
  • A Contract with the Earth
  • Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less: A Handbook for Slashing Gas Prices and Solving Our Energy Crisis
  • Real Change: From the World That Fails to the World That Works
  • To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular-Socialist Machine

Newt has also written a substantial number of historical novels:

  • 1945
  • Gettysburg: A Novel of the Civil War
  • Grant Comes East Thomas Dunne Books
  • Never Call Retreat: Lee and Grant: The Final Victory
  • Pearl Harbor: A Novel of December 8th
  • Days of Infamy

See a more detailed bio of Newt here on his White House 2012 presidential contender page

Newt is probably not going to be Mitt Romney’s choice as a running mate. While he is consistently considered the smartest man in the room, he is also one of the loosest cannon in any room and although he can easily bring some very positive qualities to the ticket, it his baggage that may  prevent us from every seeing how positive those qualities may be on the G.O.P. presidential ticket.

Newt would certainly be impressive in any vice presidential debates, although it is more than likely that the Obama ticket will only allow one vice presidential debate, if even that. Newt would also certainly be able to condense the election down to several very succinct and powerful words that the average voter would be able to relate to in a most convincing way.

But Newt will also shoot from the hip and in what will undoubtedly be a highly negative campaign waged with the near billion dollar campaign war chest of the Obama ticket, any stray bullets fired off by Newt could become lethal distractions that the Romney campaign can ill afford.  Just having Newt on the ticket will be a very distraction.  The left’s venom of Newt is so strong, that a daily rush of personal name calling and attacks will be discussed in a pro-liberal mainstream media to such a great extent, that the Romney-Gingrich message would be overshadowed and muted.

As a play it safe kind of guy, Newt is probably too much of a risk for Romney’s liking and Newt’s long and accomplished political career is most likely open to the type of criticism that Mitt Romney does not want to deal with. Therefore, despite Newt’s ability to compensate for several of Mitt’s shortcomings, such as a lack of innovation and boldness as well as a lack of any popular anti-establishment sentiments, Newt will probably not be Vice President anytime soon.  Add to that a bitter campaign between the two of them and what you have is a personal relationship that does not preclude the idea from consideration, but is not exactly conducive to the creation of an enthusiastic partnership at the top of the presidential ticket.

Pros:

  • Articulate and has a great capacity for shaping issues in a way that makes the conservative approach to our problems seem like common sense
  • Has an anti-establishmentarian streak that can appeal to independents and T.E.A. Party activists and compensate for Romney’s establishment image
  • Great in debate
  • Brings unappalled experience to the ticket
  • Would help Romney among Southern conservatives who are not comfortable with him

Cons:

  • Has personal baggage which can easily become a distraction in the campaign
  • Has been a harsh critic of Mitt Romney and his policies
  • Shoots from the hip and can be a very loose cannon
  • Has the potential to overshadow Mitt Romney

Overall Assesment:

In some ways, Newt would be the perfect Vice President. Having once been the second in line for presidency, his experience is invaluable. He is also incredibly articulate and dogged in his defense of conservative values and tireless in his efforts to find innovative solutions to our problems and ways to remove government from our everyday lives. But Newt has an ego problem and it often gets in his way and it is that ego problem which Mitt Romney will probably not allow to get in the way of his winning the White House.  So when it comes to Newt Gingrich, he would not be the perfect Vice President for Mitt Romney.

Furthermore; while Newt was relatively competitive in the first half of the primary process, he never quite caught on and proved that he can’t be even be counted on as a favorite son of the South who could motivate those Southern voters uninspired by Romney.  And that is an important factor because for Mitt Romney to win this election, he will need to have the Republican base come out to vote for him in near record numbers.

Overall, while the selection of Newt would be a good one from a policy, management, and issue oriented angle, from a political perspective regarding an election, Newt is not the best choice for Mitt.

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Some Past Key Votes

H Res 611 – Impeachment Resolution: Article One

Legislation-Resolution (Yea)

Dec. 19, 1998 – President Clinton was charged with willfully providing perjurious, false and misleading testimony to the grand jury concerning one or more of the following:: – …

H Res 611 – Impeachment Resolution: Article Three

Legislation-Resolution (Yea)

Dec. 19, 1998 – -Accuses President Clinton of obstructing justice by coaching White House Secretary Betty Currie in potential testimony, encouraging Monica Lewinsky to lie under oath and by …

H Res 611 – Impeachment Resolution: Article Two

Legislation-Resolution (Yea)

Dec. 19, 1998 – – Accuses President Clinton of committing perjury on December 23, 1997, during his testimony in a Federal civil rights action brought against him by Paula …

More Key Votes

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Gingrich on the Issues

Foreign Policy Gun Control Budget & Economy Education
Homeland Security Crime Government Reform Health Care
War & Peace Drugs Tax Reform Abortion
Free Trade Civil Rights Social Security Families & Children
Immigration Jobs Welfare & Poverty Corporations
Energy & Oil Environment Technology Principles & Values

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Today should be it

Mitt Romney should easily sweep a handful of blue states today, including New York and Pennsylvania.  If he does, I think the staunchest of conservative holdouts are ready to call it for Romney.  The only thing that will change the trajectory of the primary at this point would be if Romney’s performance is weak in any of these states.

Is that possible?  To a certain extent.  With Romney already the presumptive nominee, media coverage of the April 24th primaries has been minimal.  Additionally, any inhibition towards voting one’s conscience should be gone.   Romney’s refocusing on Obama is certainly not unwarranted confidence, but does signal an end to his scorched earth campaign that ravished his closest rivals.

Will Gingrich show any sort of proof of life in New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, or Rhode Island?  Don’t count on it.  To be sure, there is a conservative underground in each of these states, most strongly in Pennsylvania.  But at the same time, they have been so marginalized by the liberal culture that “most conservative who can actually win” is deeply engrained.

My prediction is that Newt doesn’t break 40% in any of these states.  If that is the case, I am ready to call the 2012 primary for Mitt Romney.  However, if Newt can somehow mitigate his losses and mathematically survive today, he has some friendly states coming up in May.  He may still not survive to the convention fight he is counting on, but he would have a chance.  And something he hasn’t tasted in months: momentum.

Bad News for Romney?

Romney declared today to be a good day for his campaign.  The media easily agreed, following their template that Romney is already the nominee.  However, the good news may end up being all for Gingrich.  The long dead in the water conservative finally has what he has needed for a second resurgence: no competition for the social conservative vote.

In fact, Newt made the point today that he would love to get Santorum’s delegates.  Newt is right, he is far closer to what Santorum’s delegates want than Romney.  While Romney is far away ahead of both candidates on their own, together their delegates number more than 400.

Gingrich’s next hope for a good day won’t come until May 8th, and Romney is sure to sweep the blue states that vote on April 24th.  In fact, nearly certain victories in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island could seal the deal.

On the other hand, Gingrich could start a come back in Indiana and could win North Carolina and West Virginia with some hard work.  In fact, May should favor the remaining social conservative, culminating with the 155 delegates in Texas.  May could be enough to provide Gingrich with the convention floor battle he’s been hoping for.

On the other hand, without a strong ground game, and with limited funds and no media recognition that he even still exists, Newt may never have a chance at realizing the potential the Santorum exit has given him.

Ohio Made Super Tuesday a Superficial Nail Biter

 Bookmark and Share  While Rick Santorum’s Super Tuesday results were far better than predicted, they did little to make a difference other than in the headlines we will be reading and in the cable news teasers that we will be hearing.

While it is true that the results from the ten state Super Tuesday contest can allow one t0 go so far as to say that Rick Santorum came out a winner,  his clear victories in Tennessee, Oklahoma, and North Dakota, and his second place finish in Ohio that was too close for comfort for  Mitt Romney, have undoubtedly established Rick Santorum as the other man in what seems to be a two man race and it will go a long way to energize both Santorum supporters and Romney haters.  However, the psychological perception, as undoubtedly important as it is, does not change the reality that Mitt Romney has created for himself and despite himself.

Although it is too early to establish precise electoral vote counts after yesterday’s returns, the combined results of the nearly 20 states that held binding contests to date, make it clear that Mitt Romney has a much clearer shot at the 1,144 delegates needed to win the Republican presidential nomination, than do his remaining rivals in the race. On Wednesday, Romney’s campaign chief, Rich Beeson, will make a rare public appearance designed to stress that if one does the math, Mitt is the only candidate left in the race who can realistically collect enough remaining delegates to win the nomination.  While mathematics does make it for possible for Santorum to win the nomination, reality does not because it dictates that Santorum would have to rack up at least 60% of all the remaining delegates.  To perform that well, Mitt Romney would have to be caught in bed with an underage boy and Newt Gingrich would have to be caught cheating on his latest wife, Callista and neither are likely to occur between now and the Republican National Convention in September.

Yet Santorum’s outperforming and Romney’s underperforming in many Super Tuesday states, ends nothing except the unlikely ability for Newt Gingrich to comeback.

For Newt, Tuesday’s win in Georgia, the state which he represented throughout his entire political career, was a gimme and barely enabled him to call himself a regional candidate.  Losing to Santorum and Romney in other Southern, Super Tuesday states, denied Newt even that title.

As for Santorum, he has become the last real hope for those who wish to deny Mitt Romney the G.O.P. nomination.  It will allow Santorum to continue raising decent amounts of money and will provide him with a small degree of momentum as we head in to the next contests of Kansas and Mississippi, two states that should be fertile territory for Santorum.  In between those two states, several American territories will be voting and Romney should easily win them, but Santorum’s anticipated strong showing in Kansas and Mississippi will most likely make Illinois the next major and possibly decisive contest to come up.  If Santorum does as well as expected in the next two states and manages to make Illinois as close as Ohio and Michigan were, or worse yet for Romney, was to defeat him there, the race will remain in flux for weeks to come.  At least until Texas on April 3rd, and ultimately the Mid-Atlantic version of Super Tuesday, on April 24th when Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island vote on the same day.

Still though, all the the numbers are on Mitt Romney’s side.

Santorum may be able to hang on much the same way that Mike Huckabee did in 2008 after Mitt Romney saw the writing on the wall and realized that the numbers were on McCain’s side.  But hanging on and winning are two different things.  Sure Santorum may go for a ride a little longer, but unless the small chance of brokered convention arises, he has no shot at the nomination.  And in a brokered convention, with the establishment clearly behind Romney, Santorum still has no chance at winning the nomination.  Even though the race is competeitve with Santorum doing far better than ever expected or predicted, any perception that the outcome of the nomination is in doubt is a deceptive one.

However; the  problem is that just having the numbers on your side does not mean you can win the one thing that that all this is for.  The presidency.

As I pointed out, Mitt Romney saw that John McCain had the numbers in 2008 and dropped out.  But Barack Obama went on to defeat McCain.  In 1996 after winning only 4 states, even Pat Buchanan saw that he could not defeat Bob Dole for the nomination.  But Bill Clinton defeated Dole.  Those defeats occurred because the eventual nominees won the nomination not because they inspired people, but because they were just more acceptable than the other choices.  A similar scenario exists now with with Mitt Romney.  But in some ways its even worse, because a substantial numbers of conservative oriented voters and anti-establishment types, just refuse to accept Mitt Romney.  At least so far.

Ultimately, Mitt Romney has to begin winning Republicans and Independents over because they like him, not because they don’t like his opponents.  If that is the formula Romney is banking on to beat Barack Obama with in November, then let us all just throw in the towel now because it won’t work.   With a billion dollars to spend, President Obama will have the ability to not only make people briefly like him, he will also have the ability to make people hate Mitt Romney, something which Romney seems to make easy to do.

Meanwhile, regardless of how exciting the results of Super Tuesday seem to be on the surface, below the surface is a reality that dictates a fate which gives the Republican presidential nomination to Mitt Romney.  And while Rick Santorum can tempt fate, no matter how promising he may look after Super Tuesday, he will not be able to change fate and we Republicans can only hope and pray that Mitt Romney eventually gives us more reason to vote him than just the fact that he is not Barack Obama.

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Why Drudge is Headlining Newt

Romney barely eeked out a win in his homestate Michigan.  Newt barely registered.  Judging from Arizona and Michigan, which Newt conceded before they even started, Newt is less likely than Ron Paul to be the nominee.  So why is Drudge front paging a 2% Gallup poll increase for Newt as a third comeback?  Simple, Drudge wants Romney to win.

It’s no secret Drudge is a Romney supporter.  Santorum has Romney on the ropes, especially when heading into some of the southern more conservative states.  If Newt’s votes in Michigan went to Santorum, Romney would have lost.  What has kept Romney in this race is a split vote between Newt and Santorum.  Romney needs that split to survive.

I wish Newt would make another comeback.  He is the best candidate with the best ideas.  But don’t get your hopes up.  Romney wants a perceived Newt resurgence almost as much as Newt wants a real resurgence.

 

Wishful thinking?

Santorum’s Campaign Against Himself

Bookmark and ShareBeing a political junkie I do spend time checking out the campaigns of any and all candidates I can manage to follow in local, state and federal races. It’s not necessarily the politics I enjoy as much as the campaigns themselves. I enjoy strategizing and predicting where, why and what candidates do or will do in their campaigns. I even follow those from the “D” word persuasion. As they say, know thy enemy.

There are moves that baffle pundits and followers alike in each and every campaign. No candidate is above or beyond making a move or even a gaffe now and then that leave some scratching their heads in disbelief. As the 2012 GOP candidates rumble through what has been a very tough primary process so far there is one candidate that has stood out to me, at least the past couple of weeks, as being stuck in a perpetual ‘WTF?’ moment. That man is former PA Senator Rick Santorum.

The first issue the Senator got caught up in is what I like to refer to as the social issue wheel of doom. If it was intentional on the part of the Obama administration and the Democrats is up in the air (as a campaign junkie I would like to believe it was intentional) but Santorum took the bait hook, line and sinker. Don’t get me wrong, social issues are important to the Republican base. They are especially important to the evangelical portion of that base to which the Senator appears to be the favored candidate. A base that is well aware of the Senator’s stances on all of the social issues they hold dear. It is because of that that I am baffled as to why a candidate with the experience of Rick Santorum would let himself get caught in the social issue whirlpool? He doesn’t have to convince the part of the GOP base that is concerned with social issues that he is their man. There may be a few Newt supporters out there that he can try and turn but if social issues were number one with them they probably have already moved to the Senator’s camp. The only thing getting into a discussion about Rick Santorum’s stance on social issues can do is turn off the independent voter that any nominee will need to beat the President in November.

Again, I state that social issues are important in any GOP primary. But doesn’t the Senator already have that vote locked in? Wouldn’t he be better served to go after the moderate republicans who are more concerned with fiscal issues and the size of government than to be preaching to the choir who has already named him choir leader? Recent Rassmussen polling has him behind Obama by 2 points nationally while rivals Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, yes Ron Paul, were polling up on Obama.

Although I disagree on many things with the Senator he does have some ideas that would 100% be better than the solutions, or lack thereof, being offered by the current Democrat administration. Every candidate in the GOP field would be light years better than what we have now. What I want in the GOP nominee is someone who can go head to head with the machine that will be the Obama campaign come November. In all fairness the Senator has stated that simply because he holds a personal belief, does not mean he will force that belief on the American people if elected President. I believe him. However in the soundbite world in which we live that information will not be stated or considered by the general electorate and most certainly not by his opponent. In an era of bumper sticker campaigns it is probably not a good idea, fair or not, to allow bumper stickers to hold your personal belief on the case of rape and abortion. The “JFK’s separation of church and state speech made Rick Santorum throw up” t-shirt will probably be a good seller at the Democrat convention.

The social issue wheel of doom aside what seemed to get the ire of even the social base Republicans was his Michigan robo calls for the Democrat vote. In watching the Senator’s Facebook pages and posts today he has been catching the normal flack from the Romney, Paul and Gingrich supporters but what surprised me was the blowback that was there from those that seemed to be supporters (or former as some pointed out) of the Senator. Now I am aware that I said he needs to reach out to the moderates to win in November. However, in reaching out to the Democrats he handed Mitt Romney the steering wheel of his campaign. I mean in all honesty when Michael Moore comes out and says he is going to vote for you so Romney doesn’t win…..you just kicked yourself in the proverbial junk. Romney’s people are already printing posters which point out that the Democrats are scared of him. Scared enough to vote for Rick Santorum who they feel will be an easy win for Barack Obama.

And after the social issue wheel of doom I fear they will be right. And Rick Santorum has no one to blame but his campaign against himself.

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Reality Check

As we head into Michigan and Arizona, the Republican party needs a reality check.  Fortunately, here it is:

Rick Santorum

The media is doing their best to paint Santorum as some sort of radical conservative religious whacko.  Hardly.  Santorum on social issues is saying what most Republicans are thinking.  The thing is, conservatives are scared to death of Obama winning re-election and many will gladly sacrifice what they believe to take the candidate everyone is telling them can win.  But here’s the thing, Obama’s economy has about a 26% approval rating and any Republican looks amazing economically next to Obama.  If Obama wins, it will be because he runs an incredible marketing campaign, race bates, and paints his opponents as somehow more socially radical than he is.  It won’t be because Obama saved the economy, unless moderates and independents are even more gullible and stupid than we thought.

What should keep Republicans up at night about Santorum is his passion on Iran.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want Iran to get a nuclear weapon.  I think they will use it on Israel if they do.  But America is not ready to commit to another war.  I think we would have to see another 3,000 US civilians die on one day before the majority of Americans get the stomach for what Santorum has been talking about.  That includes what he has talked about with central America.

Mitt Romney

Romney is uninspiring by design.  His economic plan is a mixture of timid populism.  In the end, what he is running on is his record of creating a great deal of personal wealth and success, as well as his management skills.  But Warren Buffett, another populist, has also made great personal success through good management, and I think he would be a terrible President.  If this election were solely about the economy,the DNC would be looking for a new candidate and Romney would already be the GOP candidate.  The fact is, as long as Romneyites continue to downplay social issues, they will continue to loose the support of the majority of conservatives who actually care about social issues.  Believe it or not, many Americans on both sides of the aisle hold the value of their social and religious issues higher than the economy.   For example, many pro-lifers would sacrifice a great deal of wealth to stop the murder of the unborn.

What keeps Republicans awake at night about Mitt Romney is the fact that even his economic plan has been as malleable as his social stances.  What was supposed to be Romney’s conservative strength has instead turned into calls to raise the minimum wage and tax the rich to redistribute to the poor.  In each case, this was a reaction from the Romney campaign to criticism from the left.

Newt Gingrich

Newt is the smartest candidate and he has the best ideas.  It is no secret that I believe this.  But Newt is easily destroyed by opponents and the media.  He has tried to run a cheap campaign with little or no ground game, which makes victory as visionary as a base on the moon.  Part of Newt’s problem is that now his electability is questionable instead of Santorum’s.  Newt isn’t going to win anything until he re-establishes himself as the only electable anti-Romney.  Every time Santorum wins another state, Newt’s chances dim even more.  Get ready for things to start looking real bad as Santorum wins Arizona and maybe Michigan.

What keeps Republicans awake at night about Newt Gingrich is how easily he is destroyed by negative campaigning and how weak his campaign structure is.  If Newt can’t beat the unelectable Santorum and uninspiring Romney in every state, how would he propose to beat Obama?

Ron Paul

No one ever thought Ron Paul would win, except maybe his 10% who also think that being obnoxious will win people over.  However, it has been noted that Paul seems to have a cozy relationship with Mitt Romney.  Perhaps Paul also thinks only Romney can beat Obama.  Or, as some have suggested, maybe Paul has a secret deal with Romney to secure a VP slot for him or his son.  Actually, a Romney/Rand Paul ticket would be an incredibly smart idea and might be the only thing that can bring the extremes of the Republican party back together.  The only thing, of course, other than Obama himself.

What keeps Republicans awake at night about Ron Paul is his Iran policy.  Yeah, maybe we aren’t ready to go to war in Iran like we did in Iraq.  But I also don’t think most Americans are ready to stick their heads in the sand and pretend that Iran isn’t a threat.  I think fewer Republicans have an appetite to continue the World America Apology Tour under a different name.

Barack Obama

The real reality check for Republicans should be a refocusing on Barack Obama.  Believe it or not, there are people out there who support him.  After Solyndra, Fast n Furious, reversing Mexico City policy, forcing religious organizations to provide abortion pills, Obamacare, and everything else Obama has done, there are actually cars on the road with Obama 2012 stickers on them.  Somehow, Obama still has a shot in this race.

What should keep Republicans awake at night about Barack Obama is that despite all that he has done to this country and to the rule of law and constitution, there are people who still support him.  The media refuses to vet Obama, even ignoring his radical social positions on abortion.  Meanwhile, in desperation Santorum is releasing economic plans that are going ignored by the party and media.  GOP candidates are doing a great job of getting their message out.  Unfortunately, their message is that each other suck.  Let’s hope that Republicans will find a way to inspire the entire base, and expose Obama on fiscal AND social issues.

Too Bad The Debate Won’t Matter

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

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

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

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

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

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

What if Santorum Wins Michigan?

Rick Santorum is polling just slightly ahead of Romney in Romney’s home state of Michigan.  This is significant for more than just that reason.  Michigan is a blue state that has seen what the Democrat party can do to an economy.  So why is Santorum leading billionaire successful businessman Mitt Romney in a state that is starving for economic turnaround?

If Santorum does win, I think one thing it will demonstrate is how much Romney hurt himself with his scorched earth approach to his competitors. Romney has not set himself up as a policies or ideas candidate.  Instead he has set himself up as the “not the other guys” candidate.  Romney has correctly calculated that Ron Paul supporters would rather see four more years of Obama than vote for someone who has insulted Ron Paul.  So he hasn’t.  On the other hand, Romney knows conservatives will suck it up and vote for him if their guy loses.

What Romney didn’t seem to calculate was what effect his being the presumptive nominee and Ron Paul’s disappointing finish in Iowa and South Carolina would do.  Or what vetting Newt to death would do.  Now Social Conservatives, unburdened by the fear of a Ron Paul ascendency and no longer split now that Newt has descended into irrelevance, are freer than ever to vote their conscience.  It’s no longer about electability.  If you want to know what Social Conservatives with nothing to lose look like, look at the polls in Michigan.

But here is where it gets interesting.  Romney may be on the verge of losing Maine to Ron Paul.  Santorum is capitalizing on the mandatory abortion pill provision Obama has decreed.  Newt is all but finished with no momentum and the March 1 debate canceled.  Suddenly, Santorum is looking more viable than ever.  If Mitt loses Michigan, we could see the impossible: Barack Obama versus Rick Santorum.

The Republicans’ fading colours – The Spectator Magazine

Link to the original article:

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

 

Web exclusive: The Republicans’ fading colours

11 February 2012

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Newt Gingrich? Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

The pressure is again being mounted by some in the conservative media for former Speaker Newt Gingrich to withdraw from the GOP race. I sound a word of warning to conservatives against any such move and in fact, urge them to support Speaker Gingrich in whatever way possible going forward and will explain why.

Today, the influential conservative magazine National Review called for Newt Gingrich to leave the Republican primary contest. Repeating its past criticisms of Gingrich the magazine’s editorial said “it would be a grave mistake for the party to make someone with such poor judgment and persistent unpopularity its presidential nominee.”

I refute this call for a variety of reasons but above all, Republicans need to be careful what they wish for. This GOP race has perhaps being the most widely covered, and without doubt volatile in presidential race history. The reasons for this are many; the introduction of the Super Pacs, the media war between liberal and conservative media outlets, the vast amount of debates and finally social media have transformed this race.

This 2012 election race is I believe, a final opportunity for Americans to divert their great nation away from decline and direct themselves back onto a course of recovery, restoration and once again be the world’s leader in all sphere’s of influence.

If you believe commentators growth, consumer spending, manufacturing, house prices and stock prices are all on the upward trend and unemployment is coming down and the green shoots of a recovery are starting to gather steam. This may on paper be all true at present however; it is the unforeseen and often, quickly dismissed issues, that will determine the real future outlook for most American’s in the coming generations.

The primary function of government has come to be understood as being the protection of the people’s rights from foreign nations and the government itself. These rights, as we all know, are the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. This function of government could not be clearer. It is this failure of government and the lack of an individual with a proven track record to address the issues of the national debt, spending, entitlement reform and pursue a strong foreign policy that are the real threats.

I will state, that I do not believe these very real threats and dangers facing America are all down to President Obama; they have been decades in the making. President Obama however; has failed to halt the decline and above all, has been unable to get all branches of government working for the people effectively under his stewardship that has been his biggest failure.

The U.S. National debt is approaching $15.4 trillion dollars; $4 trillion dollars of this debt has been added in three years under President Obama alone. Commentators in the U.S. often cite Greece as the potential end result for the U.S. if it fails to alter course. I say forget Greece, total European Union debt stands at around $14 trillion dollars however, its 27 nations account for a bigger share of global gross domestic product, possesses a much larger internal market and has a population of over 500 million compared to the U.S. population of roughly 310 million people. The debt burden per person (capita) stands at $48,258 for every American with the U.S contributing 37 per cent of the increase in global debt from 2007 – 2011 and 40 per cent from 2011 to 2016, it is only a matter of time before these financial constraints strangle America’s future and prosperity.

In recent years, all too often have U.S. recommendations or initiatives become to be ignored or dismissed by other leading nations on issues ranging from trade negotiations, military threats, peace efforts,  right through to addressing the recent global economic crisis.

I respect Mitt Romney, and if he is the eventual nominee for the GOP, he’ll have my total support in the race and I believe America will improve to an extent economically under a Romney Presidency. Respectfully, Ron Paul has some very valid and excellent ideas and arguments on a domestic level however; his approach to foreign policy concerns many and justifiably so. Then there’s the latest rise of Senator Rick Santorum. I think he is a strong valued & principled man however; putting the very real challenges of ineffective government, economic and global threats together, I do not believe he is capable of being the type of president America needs at the present time. Santorum is well versed on the issue of Iran however; like Governor Romney, when you take them onto broader international issues and threats, they simply haven’t got the depth of knowledge or experience to hit the ground running from the start.

Conservatives and independents need to be honest with themselves and ask, if they really want to defeat President Obama in the coming fall election. The GOP as a party needs to offer a strong platform and contrast to President Obama and the Democratic Party in terms of policy and vision.

The election is not about personality or an American Idol type contest, this is a decisive moment in history, and as I’ve always maintained, a turning point for America and its future. Don’t be swayed by populist media commentators and partisan coverage. In order for the U.S. to remain the global leader it has become, the entire manner in how the government in Washington operates needs to be addressed.

I’ll say something controversial here, regardless from what side of the political divide you come from, entitlement reform needs to be addressed urgently and fundamental changes made. There needs to be wholesale change of the tax system at all levels and finally, spending needs to be brought back under control and a balanced budget achieved within the next five years.

This leads me onto former Speaker Gingrich, who I’ve always believed substantively, to be the candidate with the most potential. He’s an individual whose strong conservative arguments and mastery of the issues are sometimes ignored due to past behaviour. He’s already been carpet bombed with negative advertisements from the Romney campaign in Iowa and Florida already. Attacked like no other candidate by the mainstream media in this election cycle, and then by many from within his own party. People need to ask why this is? It is not coincidence, or is it due to any past behavourial mishaps on his part. It is because Gingrich has the ability to communicate a sharp contrast between conservative policies and values against the Obama Administration’s better than any other candidate in the field.

Gingrich poses a real threat to the opposition and status quo, he has many achievements during his long political career, playing a key role in passing welfare reform in the 1990’s. He not afraid to upset members within his own party to pursue a vision, a vision he has laid out in his “21st Century Contract with America,” better than any other candidate in the field. It is an organic plan containing some bold but substantive ideas and solutions to the nations’ problems and challenges.

He wants to remove regulatory barriers to boost economic growth understanding fundamentally that less government is the key, not bigger government. He has also worked to and achieved balanced budgets and a budget surplus with former President Clinton.

Gingrich has the proven ability to work across party lines in the national interest, even if it costs him personally and politically. He wants to provide a healthcare system that works; he values and recognises the need for a well educated young nation and values entrepreneurship and innovation. I don’t perceive a candidates’ willingness or preparedness to work with the other party as a weakness, I see it as a distinct positive in these most of crucial times. Above all, I believe he possesses the desire, passion and enthusiasm to lead America from the front and get Washington working effectively again for the people.

I believe any of the other three candidates could be a good Vice-President however; in order to defeat President Obama in the coming election, it will require someone who has the experience, proven ability and vision to transform America and secure its future. America needs a strong president and someone in the Oval office who will not shirk the difficult decisions, and who will ensure a strong and powerful military exists to defend the nation and its people. This is an election of opportunity, and my fear is that conservatives and independents won’t see it in the all important context of securing America’s future for generations to come.

This presidential election race is more about the future and the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Only by choosing a capable and confident leader can America’s future be won! The nation needs strong leadership and a person willing to work with everyone in its interest and Newt is that candidate.

CPAC’s Conservative Message

Despite Romney’s strawpoll win, the anti-establishment message of CPAC came through loud and clear from various speakers.  Alan West, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, and even at times the Presidential candidates: the only way we can truly be free is by reclaiming the role of the church and community from the Federal Government.

For several years now the conservative movement has allowed private charity to flirt with and even get in bed with the Federal Government under the understanding that private organizations can use federal dollars much more efficiently than government bureaucracies.  Then along came Barack Obama.  It makes me think of Star Wars and Darth Vader’s line “Pray I don’t alter the deal any further”.

The problem is that conservatives abandoned their principles.  Trusting a pro-family, pro-conservative President in George W. Bush, we signed on to faith based initiatives.  Perhaps we never expected a President who would leverage those relationships to gain control over Christianity and use Christian institutions to spread liberalism.  We never expected a President who in three short years would be to the point of forcing Christian institutions to provide abortion pills or suffer the consequences.

The Government cannot protect our sacred institutions.  The government is using our tax dollars to control our sacred institutions.

The problem is that only one candidate in this has talked about the sort of shrinking of government necessary to get the government out of the charity and faith business altogether.  While he has appeared impotent when pressed, Ron Paul is the only candidate who will actually say that the government doesn’t belong in the insurance business or the charity business.  Mitt Romney would bring us back to the George W. Bush days when faith based initiatives allowed faiths to still manage themselves.  Newt and Santorum would certainly respect religious freedom, but would also strengthen the ties between government and faith based organizations with the same deadly good intentions W had.

This is not an endorsement for Ron Paul, but it is an acknowledgement that when it comes to the responsibility of Christians and community, Paul is more in line with the 2010 freshmen, and older wise sages like Huckabee, who must rise to the top if conservatism and freedom of religion is to survive in our country.  Perhaps Newt, Mitt and Rick will be persuaded by Paul on this like they were on the Fed.

Romney Wins CPAC Straw Poll But Who Do You Think Made the Best Case?

Bookmark and Share  CPAC’s 39th annual conference concluded with a bang as keynote speaker Sarah Palin, fired up the forces with a speech that tore apart the Obama Administration with accurate characterizations of his actions, policies, and thinking, in a series of sharp and memorable one liners.  Her speech, which you can see here, did not only focus on the president though.  Palin offered some strong words of advice to Republicans and even sent a few warning shots over the bow of the Republican establishment as she reminded them why they were elected in 201o and indicated that in the future, we expect some new conservative faces being appointed to leadership position, not kept open the back benches.

But Palin also reminded the audience that beating the President is the most important first step that Americans must take in their attempt to take government back from the political class.  However, she did make the point that whoever we replace with him, must be a true conservative, one whose every instincts stem from the conservative ideology and our belief in limited government.

After Palin brought down the house, the climax of the event, the announcement of he CPAC Straw Poll results was made.  It was done in a presentation that broke down conservative opinions on a wide range of issues and dissected the demographics behind the opinions.  This year CPAC did something different.  They took both a national online poll of self described conservatives and their traditional straw poll of registered guest at the CPAC conference.

The national survey gave Mitt Romney the win in what was essentially a close race that stood at;

  1. Mitt Romney          – 27%
  2. Rick Santorum       – 25%
  3. Newt Gingrich        – 20%
  4. Ron Paul                   –  8%
  5. Others/Undecided – 20%

But the actual CPAC Straw Poll which gauged the opinion of the over three thousand registered CPAC voters in attendance at this year’s conference, painted a similar picture but in much bolder colors.  The candidates finished in the same order but by much different margins

  1. Mitt Romney          – 38%
  2. Rick Santorum       – 31%
  3. Newt Gingrich        – 15%
  4. Ron Paul                   – 12%
  5. Others/Undecided –   4%

It’s important to note the level of intensity that was demonstrated in these two polls.  The difference between the national poll and the straw poll is that the straw poll reflects the opinion of the activists within the conservative base.  They are the opinions of the people who work hard at shaping opinions and who are part of the get out the vote efforts that can put a candidate over the top in an election.  As for the national poll, while it still reflects conservative opinions, it it more representative of the less active conservative base, those who would not necessarily drop everything and rearrange their lives to go to Washington, D.C. to be inspired by names like Jay Sekulow, Daniel Hannan, and other names that many Americans are less familiar with.  In these polls it would seem that less dedicated or to be honest, the less radical conservatives in the country, give Mitt Romney a little more approval than they do to his rivals, but with 2% separating first and second place and 5% seperating third placce from second place, you can gather that most conservatives are pretty divided on who the nominee should be.

However, the Straw Poll of CPAC conference goers would seem to indicate that conservative activists are far less divided and while it is still close between first and second place, even there Romney receives a majority that beats Santrorum by one point more than he did in the national poll.

But I am not quite sure these polls really offer an accurate sentiment of conservative opinions this year.  Straw Polls are easily influenced by the creativity of each candidates campaign and there ability to get a ballot in the hands of conference goers. Romney has typically had a great straw poll organization at CPAC, hence several previous wins there.  Last year it was Ron Paul who won though.  This year, Ron Paul did not attend CPAC and did not have any effort that coordinated his straw poll operation.  Which accounts for his last place showing this year.

So although Romney won, I still can’t help but get a sense from the greater body of conservatives that the closeness of the race that reflected in the CPAC national online poll is more accurate and maybe even closer than that.

It was clear to me that at CPAC, Mitt Romney was among a significant number of conservatives who are still apprehensive about him and I suspect that there will be some future primaries and caucuses that prove that assessment to be true and that will even produce results that do not always find Romeny in  first place.

Only time tell.

But in the meantime, tell us this. Of the three candidates who attended CPAC this year, who made the best case for why they are the best conservative to lead us and did so most convincingly. Below you will find videos of their CPAC speeches. If you haven;t seen them yet, take a listen to them and then vote in our White House 2012 Poll:



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CPAC and Sarah Palin mark a turn to unity

 

A vintage fiery performance: Palin told delegates we'll keep our guns, God and Constitution, and Obama can keep the change.

The most remarkable event of today’s CPAC was Sarah Palin endorsing unity. Instead of showing her support for any one candidate, she called for unity, saying that whoever the nominee is the GOP must defeat Obama. Whoever the nominee is conservatives must work together, she told an ecstatic audience, and the nation will have a true conservative in the White House.

The unity message, great!

It followed the announcement that Mitt Romney had narrowly won the CPAC Straw Poll, following his mission to the conference to prove his conservative credentials. It seems it may be mission accomplished. Certainly Romney will be feeling a lot better about his appeal to the conservative base after today.

The other remarkable performance came from the ever-popular Daniel Hannan, British Member for the European Parliament. Warning America not to go down the European road, he was amazed that while Europe is driving off the cliff they can see America in their rear-view mirror and overtaking them!

After his talk, I had a good conversation with him, as we walked through the hotel, including a detour through the kitchens! I asked him if he endorsed any candidates? He, just a little coyly, suggested it was difficult to choose, but stressed it was important for the party to unite behind a candidate and get Obama, who earlier in the day John Bolton called the “first post-American President”, out of the White House.

Daniel Hannan warns America not to follow Europe down a path and off a cliff

Hannan also urged me to write that the GOP must stop having so many debates, as it is only serving to divide the party. He also said Republicans need to focus on the budget, not all the side issues that divide conservatives. With that he headed for the airport, though many didn’t want him to leave and asked if he could be made an honorary American instead.

This has been an important few days for conservatives, and may finally signal the road to unity. Romney should start to pull firmly into the lead, and though Santorum and Gingrich will no doubt continue, they will see their numbers dwindle.

The New York Times carried a report ahead of Sarah Palin’s speech that she didn’t think a brokered RNC would be a problem. This is just a liberal wet dream. The reality is, Sarah Palin has signalled this important moment, and shown that there is less stomach for infighting.

I picked up my media credentials on Thursday at CPAC fearful of a divided party that would succeed only in rolling out the red carpet for President Obama. After three days, I happily left making my way through the handful of sorry-looking OWS protesters feeling that I can see November from here.

Newt Gingrich is Yesterday’s Man

 

Will the Dream Team be Benched?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who will bring us a bright tomorrow?

Is Washington alive to the Sound of Santorum?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

A Populist CPAC, but where are the ideas?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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