Home and Abroad

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Last week Gov. Haley Barbour was visiting neighboring Alabama and received the unofficial endorsement of Gov. Bob Riley.  That effectively removed a potential challenger from the 2012 field.  It wasn’t headline news.  Out of Alabama or Mississippi, it wasn’t news at all – except perhaps here.  Here we look at more than the spotlight grabbing stories that make mediocre candidates temporarily look like contenders.  We look at the things that hint at what’s going on under the surface of the real contenders.  Haley Barbour is one of those.

Haley Barbour is the front-runner, even though most Americans don’t yet know who he is and he is polling in the single digits.  It will be awhile before he officially enters the race and makes his record known to the voting public.  The only overt action he’s taken recently was the mailer to Republicans in Iowa.  In the mean time, he’s building momentum behind the scenes.  It is that effort that will build into the kind of real support that wins elections.

The major media is not covering the announcement of an “understanding” Gov. Barbour worked out with the Panama Canal Authority.  Barbour and members of the Mississippi State Port Authority traveled to Panama and worked out an agreement that would bring more shipping to the Port of Gulfport.  This agreement is more than just a good news story for Gulfport or Mississippi.  It tells much about the forward thinking, follow through and savvy of Haley Barbour.

Barbour plans ahead rather than just reacts to the present

Barbour has taken some criticism for spending $600 million of Hurricane Katrina relief money as part of a $1.6 billion expansion of the Port of Gulfport.  The expansion wasn’t needed then and that money could have been used to rebuild other things.  Barbour isn’t a reactive thinker.  He didn’t look to only put back what was lost, but rather to turn disaster into opportunity.  He knew that the Panama Canal would be expanded in a few years to accommodate larger ships.  He knew that the Port of Gulfport would need to be expanded in order to handle the traffic of an expanded Panama Canal.  So rather than build to the past, he built for the future and then did the work to ensure that future became a reality.

It would have been easier for Barbour to do as his critics suggested and simply put the money into subsidized insurance for gulf coast housing.  After all, he’ll be out of office long before the benefits of his efforts pay dividends.  Had he simply handed the money out to people, he could have gained popularity and praise right now.  He didn’t do that.  He knows that pouring money into insurance subsidies doesn’t fix the underlying problem nor does it do anything to make people self-sufficient.  Bringing in more jobs and a stronger economy will do more to solve problems than subsidizing them.  It doesn’t matter that the benefits will come after he has left office.  He’s doing the right thing rather than the politically expedient thing.  That’s real leadership.

It is stories like this of what Barbour has done and is doing that explain why he is so successful.  It is this kind of thinking and leadership that gains the praise and support of the people and networks necessary to run a successful campaign and, more importantly, a successful administration after winning the campaign.  That network is growing based on the sensible and forward thinking policies of Haley Barbour.

It was announced at the end of last week that Gov. Barbour will be the key note speaker at the Florida GOP “Victory Dinner” in September.  The major media picked that story up because Florida is a consequential State in the 2012 electoral math.  That was the focus of their reporting.  That may be important in 2012, but it isn’t the story today in 2010.  The story is that the Florida GOP tapped Barbour when they needed a key note speaker who would bring in the big donors and energize the party prior to entering the home stretch of the 2010 campaign season.  Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and other Florida GOP figures are going to be lined up behind Barbour and many will owe Barbour some thanks after he helps get them funded and on to victory.  The State’s electoral votes may be important in 2012, but equally important is sidelining any potential challengers from Florida and locking out current challengers from gaining the support of that State’s party machinery.

Just as he did with rebuilding after Katrina and negotiating with the Panama Canal Authority, Barbour is sowing the seeds that will grow into tomorrow’s harvest by his efforts in Florida this year.  He has already done so in Alabama, New Jersey and Virginia just to name a few.  He’s not looking at getting into the spotlight today.  He’s not even looking at the delegate or electoral math of 2012.  He’s looking at having the support in place to be able to effectively govern after a 2012 victory.  I say that not to imply that Barbour is taking anything for granted nor that he thinks he’s got the election in the bag.  I say it because it shows how Barbour is different and why that difference will win the election.

Haley Barbour is a leader who plans ahead.  He has learned that preparing to govern effectively is more important than focusing on winning.  It requires building coalitions of support that tend to not only be there for the future, but also help in the present.  People recognize a real leader.  When the people of the United States get the chance to meet Haley Barbour, they’ll recognize the leader in him.  They’ll recognize it by not only what he says but also by the fact that so many people they have grown to trust and lead will be working with him.  In the end, that will make the difference.  The major media is missing that story and completely missing what makes Haley Barbour so different and why he has been and will continue to be so successful.

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Sarah Palin; Leader or Cheerleader?

Bookmark and ShareSarah Palin can continue to be a rising star. Or she can plummet like a meteorite. I am one of those who sees the potential for her to be a star that continues to grow as bright as the sun. I believe she has a record and solid foundation in being the anti-establishment politician with the ability to tap into the prevailing sentiment of the day which is less government and more personal responsibility.

However; I have been disappointed in what is becoming an extremely commercial image. She is becoming more of a commodity than a leader. That is a dangerous position for Palin to put herself in. I believe that if she has any ambitions for national elected office, she must soon start looking more like the elder statesman than a cheerleader.

While she can continue to make lots of money and cheer on Conservatives to aid the cause, the truth is that while Sarah is energizing the Conservative base, that’s all she is doing. Let’s face it, given a good Republican candidate to vote for, most Republicans and Conservative will vote for that candidate. But to win countywide, citywide or statewide elections, you need Independent and some Democrat votes too. Sarah does not attract those votes to those whom she endorses. Many Democrats and too many Independents don’t take her serious, and if Sarah simply continues to act like a cheerleader, when the halftime show is over, the audience is just going to start paying attention to the rest of the game and leave Palin standing on the sidelines.

I have yet to see any sign of Palin broadening her base. I fail to see where she reaches out to those beyond the Conservative ranks and while her motivation of the Republican base is important, she needs to also expand the base and that Palin is just not doing. If she would just do something like present her own economic recovery plan and her own ideas for tax reform, maybe people would  begin to see Sarah as a much more substantive figure than some see her as today.

It is great that Sarah Palin’s stated mission is electing “good Conservatives “ to office but if you want to lead, you must be a leader. You must put forth the ideas, proposals and plans that can help give solid solutions for Conservatives, and others, to rally around.

Instead Sarah Palin is simply repeating anecdotal and philosophical platitudes that, while sounding good and inspirational, leave you hanging and after a moment of reflection, make you wonder……”but what’s the plan that will allow us to do all those things and achieve all those goals?”

As someone who joined with Adam Bricker, the creator of the original draft Sarah Palin for Vice President movement in 2008, I am confident that Sarah has the capacity to lay out those plans and lead, but she just isn’t doing that.

Sarah Palin has much to offer. She can and often does convey a necessary sense of being one of us, someone who genuinely understands our frustrations with an overreaching government and overbearing bureaucracy that at times seems too ridiculous to have any faith in. She takes strong stands and she does so unapologetically. On the issue of abortion she is uncompromising. On spending she is a deficit hawk and on national defense, she is polar bear——-strong and self sufficient when left to themselves but ominous and brutal when threatened. Her short record as Governor of Alaska was a solid one and her decision to resign was an example of politically uncharacteristic self-sacrifice. While some accuse her of giving up and being a quitter, unlike other political leaders such as Charlie Rangel, Palin made the decision she believed was best for her constituents, not her career. Instead of putting the people of Alaska through a relentless tabloid and legal circus based on frivolous lawsuits that would have distracted from the issues and forced the state to incur undue legal costs, she stepped down knowing full well that her Lt. Governor was more than capable of carrying forward the torch that she lit.

Few politicians would make such sacrifice. But that’s Sarah. She does what is best for the people, not politics and politicians.

But if Sarah really wants to do some good for the people, then she must start leading the people down the path of common sense conservatism, not just talk about it.

Give those “good conservative” candidates that she is trying to elect , something to get elected on. Lead them, don’t just cheer them on.

Until Sarah starts offering that leadership, she will fail to establish the statesman-like image, that she will need if she wants to be taken seriously as a presidential contender. Right now Sarah is in a very precarious position. She can be like the pet rock of the 70’s, a big hit that quickly faded into undistinguished and unremarkable history, or a Reaganesque figure that changes the course of history.

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Waiting in the Wings

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One name that came up often as a running mate for John McCain was Tom Ridge. Last year his name came up to run for the U.S. Senate when Arlen Specter (D-PA) switched parties from Republican to Democrat. He would have had the backing of the party machinery had he taken the offer, but he turned it down rather than face a primary battle with Pat Toomey who had already declared his candidacy. Recently his name has come up as a potential Presidential candidate. Ridge says he has no plans to re-enter politics…unless the party asks him to.

As a pro-choice moderate Republican with ties to the Bush administration, Ridge is positioned in much the same way that John McCain was in 2008.


McCain and Ridge

With many of the leading candidates coming from a more traditional conservative viewpoint, the party members aligned with Bush policies are still looking for a candidate who will champion that philosophy. The War on Terror often overshadows the Bush administration’s other major activities: a massive expansion of the federal government’s role in education through No Child Left Behind, a massive expansion of Medicare through the Prescription Drug Benefit and a series of other big government programs that attempted to steal the Democrats’ issues and control them. Ridge, being more moderate, is more open to those kinds of big government programs than most of the current contenders for the nomination.

Yet all is not smooth between the former Bush administration and Tom Ridge. After Bush was re-elected, Ridge resigned. He later accused the administration of pushing him to raise the terror alert status in 2004 before the election when it was not warranted; basically an accusation that terror concern was being used for political gain. Many of those who championed Bush and McCain are still supportive of Ridge, despite his accusations. In some ways, a man who criticized a President who is still a punching bag isn’t such a bad thing. It makes him look far more different than he really is, a sort of new ‘Maverick’ for 2012.

Ridge does have an attractive resume for consideration. He grew up fairly poor in veterans housing, his father having served in the U.S. Navy. He graduated with honors from Harvard which he was able to afford by working construction jobs in addition to an academic scholarship he’d earned from high school. After his first year of law school, he was drafted and served as a Staff Sergeant in the Vietnam War earning multiple decorations before suffering a ruptured appendix and being discharged from the service. His hearing in one ear was also permanently damaged and he has worn a hearing aid ever since. After returning from Vietnam, he completed his law degree from Dickinson School of Law. After 8 years of private practice, he became an Assistant District Attorney and then two years later was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He served in the House for 12 years before being elected Governor of Pennsylvania. A popular Governor, he was reelected in 1998. He resigned near the end of his second term as Governor to become the first Secretary of Homeland Security. He has never lost an election.

With conservatives split between multiple contenders as they were in 2008, the possibility that the former Bush faction of the party might draft Ridge isn’t unrealistic. With funding and support split across several conservatives, a perceived moderate could easily raise money and rack up some primary victories from a solid group of Republican moderate voters and former Bush supporters. Like McCain in 2008, Ridge could easily become the favorite of the media and thereby gain free exposure while his opponents buy ad time trying to convince conservative voters why one of them is better than the others.

There won’t be any of the usual tell-tale signs of a run. With Ridge sitting things out unless the party ‘drafts’ him, all the work on setting up a Ridge campaign will be done through re-starting the McCain network. Keep an eye on McCain’s donors from 2008. If their money isn’t going to one of the current field of candidates, it could very well mean they are planning to work together on behalf of a single alternate candidate. Ridge tops the list of people to whom they would turn. Keep an eye also on McCain after the 2010 elections and see if he starts re-connecting with his former network. As unlikely as is may sound today, Tom Ridge stands a better than average shot of becoming the 2012 Republican nominee. After all, no one expected McCain to win the nomination either.

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Romney Raises Cash Fast & Spends It Wisley

Bookmark and Share    This week Mitt Romney launched a phone bank operation through his Free and Strong America PAC. It is for the sole purpose of asking known supporters to make a financial contribution to his PAC. 

It is an example of just how close Mitt has been holding his supporters to him since 2008.  The phone banks are being conducted by actual live callers who are well-trained volunteers and the pool of people they are calling come from lists that have been carefully culled through and compiled by all of his former 2008 state campaign chairs.  Since

Free & Strong America Membership Card (front)

 2008 these supporters have received 6 mailings.  One included their enrollment in the Free & Strong America PAC as a member, along with a credit card-like membership card.  

Every aspect of Free & Strong America PAC has been used to hold on to his supporters.  Even Mitt’s Free & Strong America website works well at this with such things as essay contests and other interactive events.

But beyond holding on to what he’s got, Romeny is using Free & Strong America to build on that base and he is doing it with style, smarts and efficiency.

Free & Strong America Membership Card (rear)

To date Free & Strong America has endorsed over a hundredand fifteen candidates in this 2010 election cycle and contributed over $350,000 to them since the beginning of the cycle. And more endorsement and contributions are to come. Just the other day, Mitt Romney’s Free & Strong America PAC endorsed five North Carolina candidates and boosted their war chests with a combined total of $15,000 in Romney campaign contributions.

The newly initiated phone bank operation that Romney is running is of course designed to replenish his Free & Strong America PAC, something which never stopped and never had a tough time doing since he  dropped out of the Republican presidential race in 2008.

July’s mandatory financial filings with the FEC show that in the second quarter of this year, Romney raised a total of $1,834,689.71. The combined first and second quarter fundraising total for Romney was $3,438,978.41. This is a significant amount of money for an off-year fundraising machine.

The nearest that any of Romney’s potential Republican presidential rivals have come with their PACs so far this year was Sarah Palin with SarahPAC which ended the same reporting period with more than $1 million on hand after receiving more than $865,800 in contributions during the second quarter of the year.

Both potential rivals donated a relatively similar percentage of their haul to fellow Conservative candidates who are running this November. But Palin’s $87,500 in contributions were split up between candidates throughout the nation, while Romney’s $350,000 in donations went mainly to a regional concentration of candidates in the South, along with a $30,000 contribution to New Hampshire‘s state Republican Party organization.

The spending habits between the Romney and Palin political action committees, demonstrate the difference between a campaign organization that is practicing shrewd political strategy and a potential campaign organization that is merely following traditional strategies.

All presidential contenders use the midterm elections to demonstrate their generosity by giving candidates some much-needed financial support in the hopes of having those same candidates swing their support and volunteers back to them when it comes time for the nominating primaries and caucuses.

Having the advantage of running in the primaries and caucuses before, Romney has established that he was weakest in the South where he failed to rake in any significant victories during the 2008 race. So now he is using his political action committee money to shore up his base in the South, a region that if he expects to be the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, he will need to draw a few victories from.

Palin on the other hand, is probably going to be reasonably competitive in the South, at least initially. So while she must not ignore it, she would  probably serve herself well by doing what Romney is doing but mainly in areas like the Northeast and Midwest. Instead, Palin’s less substantial financial donations are  much more spread out and in truth, will probably not bring her as much of a return on the dollar as Romney’s strategic donations will.

Romney is very wise to spend his money the way he has so far and he will have to be.

While his campaign will be able to continue to raise plenty of money and keep outpacing people like Palin, Pawlenty, Johnson, and others for the near future, there is a great risk that people like Haley Barbour will be able to dry up some of the resources that Romney is currently drawing from and find his fundraising strength eclipsed by Barbour, and if he runs, Newt Gingrich too.

Barbour’s fundraising prowess is probably better than any potential candidate in 2012. As the former Republican National Committee  Chairman and well-connected political guru who joined forces with Newt Gingrich in ‘94 to successfully orchestrate the Republican Revolution  that gave both houses of Congress back to the GOP for the first time in 40 year’s, Barbour is a master at raising money. During the past year that he has been chairing the Republican Governors Association, he has broken all of its previous fundraising records within that organization and when he starts focusing on raising money for his own PAC, Haley’s PAC, you can expect Barbour to be  just as successful with that effort as he has been with the RGA.

As for Newt, well he could end up really hurting Romney, especially if Barbour is also in the race. In just the second quarter filing alone, Newt raised over $3.2 million between his 527 called American Solutions for Winning the Future and a PAC that he started by the same name. The 527 acts as a school of politics that trains candidates and of the $3.2 million it raised, after holding several seminars throughout the nation, especially in New Hampshire and Iowa, it has $1 million in cash left on hand. His PAC however has only raised $61,000 since he started it which was only during the most recent quarter of this year. But you can expect Newt to start focusing his fundraising efforts on his PAC in the coming months and anticipate him pulling in amounts similar to the totals he raised for his 527.

So Romney’s financial edge may be short-lived and if he plans on collecting as much money as he can for the primaries and caucuses, now is probably his best chance to get as much of it as possible and as shrewd as Mitt is with money, he is certainly spending it wisely by investing most of his contributions in the South where he can not afford to receive another dismal delegate count in 2012.

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We’re Here and the Race Is On!!!!!

Bookmark and Share  Welcome to Whitehouse 2012. Here you will find an online resources for coverage of the 2012 presidential election.

The race for President in 2012 is already underway and Whitehouse 2012 will start covering it and delivering to you all the latest buzz, details, analysis and links you need to stay informed and making your own educated decision as to whom is the right man or waoman to replace President Barack Obama.

On the each page you will find links to the left and to the right. Each one is a clickable entrance into a a new world of prospective and information.

On the left you will find links to the existing websites associated with the Republican presidential contenders and other sites of interest as well as a link to the Republican Party’s platform, and the contributing staff of White House 2012.  Mike, Jsmashmouth, IkeFriday and Kempite are your hosts and in addition to their coverage of the candidates, in this section you will also find their personal White House 2012 page which is a mélange of their thoughts, concepts, opinions and an open window into the mind of today’s contemporary conservative.

On the right side of the page are  links to the White House 2012’s biographical pages of all the contenders. There you will find videos of each candidate, their political careers, access to their voting records and an initial analysis of each individual  potential candidate by Kempite.

At the top of each page are easily marked tabs that take you to the Home Page which offers the latest news and editorial editorial posts. You will also find tabs for a detailed description of White House 2012, information on the contributing staff , a central page  that lists all the contenders, and two special sections called “ The Other Side” and “Where They Stand

The Other Side” will offer a weekly perspective of the shaping race and events surrounding it, from a Democrat. And in the “Where They Stand” section you will be offered White House 2012 consensus of how the candidate would stand if the convention were held today.

I hope that White House 2012 can become  a must stop for those interested in making an informed decision during the republican primary process. It is a collection of data and opinions that could offer you some new insight into the 2012 race while also letting you know who’s doing what and who is making up the most ground in the race for President.

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