These Debates Could Be Game Changers

Come on.  We’ve heard these candidates in just over one million debates so far this year.  Another one?  Another two actually, this weekend leading up to the New Hampshire debates.  And these two debates could definitely wreak havoc on the standings going into New Hampshire.

Mitt Romney is the undisputed front runner.  Ron Paul and Rick Santorum fans at this point are dreaming if they think their candidates are on a solid trajectory to win.  Not winning Iowa should be a clear sign to heavily religious social conservatives like Bachmann, Perry, Santorum and Newt that getting past Romney is going to be nearly impossible with a crowded field.  Bachmann got the hint, and Perry almost did.  As for Ron Paul, maybe if he runs two more times he can win enough support to break out of his traditional 5-10% polling finish.  Look, he’s already doing better this year than last time, and last time he did better than the time before.  That was Ross Perot’s and Ralph Nader’s problems.  They quit trying too soon.

Back to Mitt Romney.  You know he is back on the punching bag hook tonight, a place he hasn’t been since the very first debates.  Santorum wants a piece of him, Newt wants a piece of him, Jon Huntsman finally qualified for another debate and you know he wants to take Romney down a peg.  I think Perry will try to just get through the night and might take a few shots at Santorum.  As far as the #1 conservative attack dog of other conservatives, Michele Bachmann will not be there tonight to claim that Perry is in bed with pharmaceutical companies,  Newt Gingrich is pro-partial birth abortion and the number one Freddie Mac adviser responsible for the economic collapse, and whatever she might cook up about Rick Santorum while mostly leaving Paul and Romney alone.  So I think Romney will be taking the hits and the other candidates can relax their guard a little bit.

Now, on to the x factor in debates.  Newt Gingrich was finished this summer after his campaign collapsed and he proved he was in the top 1% by buying his wife jewelry.  I mean how out of touch can you get.  But, he has climbed back into contention through powerful and commanding debate performances.  Just two weeks ago, Gingrich was the front runner.  The difference between Gingrich’s fall and other candidates falls is that their demises can be tied directly to debate performance.  Bachmann with her claims about HPV and other wild attacks on the candidates, Perry with his glaring gaffe, Cain who offered 999 and 999, oh yeah and 999.  It wasn’t enough substance to save him when scandal gave nervous supporters a reason to doubt.  Huntsman affirmed his global warming stance.

Gingrich hurt himself with his illegal immigration stance, but his downfall can be attributed to the harsh attacks he faced over the last two weeks from Romney’s friends, paid allies, and former foes.  Ron Paul also attacked Newt, not Romney, with harsh ads in Iowa.  Paul has probably done the same math I have, but mistakenly thinks he has a shot with Newt’s base over Romney’s.

The debates are ad free.  They are also friend free.  The only way Romney can attack another candidate tonight without attacking that candidate directly is to pay off the moderator or a fellow candidate.  On that stage, it is going to be Santorum’s “what smells” debate face versus Perry’s memory versus Huntsman’s out of touch moderate stances versus Paul’s old shaky finger wagging versus Romney’s slick hair and nice demeanor versus Newt’s heavy hitting and quick wit and ideas.

If these debates garner an audience, this is all upside for Newt, and downside for front runner Mitt Romney and social conservative front runner Rick Santorum.  In an instance of incredible luck for the candidates in this New Hampshire debate, the New England Patriots get this weekend of playoff action off.

Iowa Recap

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

Mitt Romney

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

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

Rick Santorum

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

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

Ron Paul

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

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

Newt Gingrich

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

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

Rick Perry

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

Bad for: Rick Perry

Michele Bachmann

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

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

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

Early Demises and Second Chances

Mitt Beats Obama in Rassmussen Poll

Over the past week, Rassmussen conducted three Presidential matchup polls, the most recent being between Romney and Obama.  Romney easily won the poll contest by 45% to 39%.  What is significant is who struggled in the polls earlier that week.  Bachmann lost with 35% to Obama’s 48%, and Gingrich only did a little better with 37% to Obama’s 47%.

One more element deserves recognition in this polling.  Obama himself had an up and down week according to Gallup.  Around the time Rassmussen was polling the Bachmann and Gingrich head to heads, Obama’s approval rating had climbed to 47% only to fall back down to 41% by the end of the week.  What would explain such a wild swing?  I’m guessing a little too much holiday eggnog putting people in a generous mood.

Virginia’s Florida Moment

Ah the good old days of hanging chads and voter intention.  Like when Democrats argued that people in Florida intended to vote for Al Gore because they had also voted for good ole’ boy NASA astronaut Democrat Bill Nelson.  Now in Virginia, we have the case of signatures being tossed out enough to get both Perry and Gingrich off the ballot.  Perry’s campaign is fighting back, but Gingrich is getting help from an outside source: the TEA Party.

Attorney and TEA Party activist Jonathon Mosely is suing Virginia over signatures that may have been incorrectly invalidated to put Newt under the 10,000 signature requirement.  If he wins, a potentially campaign ending gaffe could be turned into a vindicating legal victory.

Iowa Last Minute Insanity

Ron Paul Buys Bachmann’s Campaign Chair

Bachmann campaign chair in Iowa, Kent Sorensen, has jumped ship as Bachmann becomes the latest candidate to contract the deadly disease AIDES.  AIDES (former aides to be exact) have already helped bring down Herman Cain’s campaign and have hurt Newt Gingrich’s campaign.  Now, with Sorensen opting for the bigger paycheck at the Paul campaign, Bachmann looks like a jury member on Survivor trying to pontificate about injustice, honor, lies and blindsides.  Welcome to politics.

Huntsman Disses Iowa

“They pick corn in Iowa. They pick presidents in New Hampshire.” Who would say something like that? Obviously a candidate who knows they have no hope of winning the Iowa caucus, and doesn’t seem to really care about Iowa in the general election either.  Huntsman would have done much better for himself to just say “We are focusing our efforts on New Hampshire.” and leave it at that.  Of course, this may help explain why Huntsman, an only slightly more moderate clone of Mitt Romney on most issues, is barely surviving on the crumbs that fall from Romney’s feast in the polls.

Coulter’s Temporary Insanity

Ann Coulter is in love with Mitt Romney.  And she obviously is no fan of Newt Gingrich.  In recent articles, she has accused Newt of being everything from pro-choice to big government, to being behind the bailouts of Freddie Mac.  Of course, all of this is Bachmann style campaign hyperbole and exaggeration at best.  Then Coulter let out a real shocker: she prefers Ron Paul to Newt Gingrich.  What??

Somewhere in a closet, the real Ann Coulter is tied up with duct tape over her mouth mumbling for this evil clone to let her out.  Meanwhile, Barack Obama and the media, who have convinced us that only Mitt Romney can beat Obama in 2012, are laughing all the way to re-election while Republicans fall for the same premise they did in 2008: vote for the candidate you think can win, not the candidate you really want.

What else would explain Coulter’s blanket acceptance and love for a former Massachusetts liberal who ran on a pro-choice platform, gave Massachusetts Romneycare, and voted for Paul Tsongas while she is treating a conservative who reformed welfare, reigned in Bill Clinton, and led Republicans to their first majority in the House in 40 years as a raving liberal.  What is it that the rest of us don’t know about Newt Gingrich?

In Bachmann’s Mind

I would think Michele Bachmann would be more gentle with some of her Republican competitors.  She herself has faced everything from the bigotry of the Left against conservative women to the watchfulness of the one-eyed media who has gleefully remarked on her every gaffe while turning the blind eye to the Obama/Biden circus.

Yet, to hear from Bachmann at the Foxnews debate, you would think Newt Gingrich was a pro-choice, pro-partial birth abortion candidate who used to run Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and will be a President to the left of Obama himself.  This is no exaggeration.  However, her characterizations were.

Now, Newt and Bachmann come from different perspectives on the Republican party.  Bachmann would have done well to note that clearly.  Newt is not going to close off the Republican party and say ‘no pro-choicers, homosexuals, immigration reformers, anti-war candidates allowed’.  Bachmann, as a TEA Party activist, seems to lean more towards that hardline stance.  There is definitely a point to be made there.  There are many Republicans who desire party purity to the point of ditching the big top and settling for a camping tent.  Newt is not one of those.  Such a point is sufficient to distinguish Bachmann from Newt.

Newt Gingrich is not pro-choice.  He is not pro-partial birth abortion.  His firm took an average of $225,000 a year from Freddie Mac in consulting fees over  an 8 year period.  That is not a whole lot for high end consulting by a multi-member firm in Washington DC for a multi-billion dollar company.  Think about it.  Freddie Mac represented about 3% of the Gingrich Group’s total revenues.  It was an exclusive group with about 300 clients.  Clients paid on average $200,000 a year for membership.  Newt himself did not do any lobbying for Freddie Mac.

But that isn’t what she said.  Bachmann’s characterization was so outlandish that she lost all credibility.  What could have been an intellectual differentiation turned into a wild and false assault on one of the two best hopes of defeating Obama in 2012.

Bachmann will not win her way back into the hearts and minds of the Republican majority with this sort of outlandish hyperbole.  She certainly won’t win with a kill ’em all attitude towards Republicans who don’t fit her cookie cutter.  For this reason, I will make the same call on Bachmann that I have for Huntsman and Johnson:

Michele, you are not going to win.  You have done too much already on your own to destroy your own campaign.  As far as destroying other candidates campaigns, your attacks are effective only on the ignorant.  Now you are no longer contributing value to this primary.  You are not contributing fresh ideas, you are not drawing new blood into the campaign.  It is time to end your campaign.  Whether or not you realize it, it’s already over.

Positively Entertainment?

Earlier this election season, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain sat down in a one on one debate that displayed Newt’s intellectualism and fast thinking, and Cain’s graciousness.  It’s starting to look like Newt will have a shot at another one on one debate as only he and Rick Santorum have agreed to The Donald’s debate on Ion Television, sponsored by Newsmax. 

Mitt Romney politely declined, Paul said no and Huntsman inferred that the whole thing was about Trump’s ratings.  George Will has also infamously declared that the Trump debate is below Presidential politics.  Perry and Bachmann have not confirmed, although Bachmann said she believes Trump will be biased because he is already leaning towards a candidate.  How that makes this debate different from any MSNBC or CNN debate where the moderators are already in the bag for Obama, I’m not sure.

Who is going to be hurt from backing out of the Trump debate? Trump has already declared his position on many things.  Huntsman and Paul would both find themselves on opposite sides from Trump.  Romney probably won’t be hurt by snubbing Trump.

Will Santorum or Gingrich be hurt by accepting the debate?  For Newt, probably not.  For Santorum, the possibility for damage to his campaign is pretty big.  While he will be getting a great deal of facetime, Santorum will be answering questions from a very strong willed and strongly opinionated Trump while going up against Newt one on one.  It is a very risky move.  The risk will be compounded if Trump then endorses Newt.

Bachmann and Perry’s non-committal stance currently is only making them more irrelevant. It also comes across as indecisive.

Or is it helping to make Trump more irrelevant?  Trump has said that if the candidate he wants doesn’t get in the race, he will run as a third party candidate.  Is it better to cater to the crybaby?  Or ignore him?  And honestly, would Trump get any votes as a third party candidate, when four more years of Obama is on the line?

Debunking Newt Mythology

Ok, hold on a minute.  Let’s talk about Newt.

The left has gone all in on Newt.  After three years of seeing that the Democrats have an empty hand with Obama, they have put all their chips on the table and dared us to run Newt.  And as usual, we are folding.  Same thing happened in 2008 when the left and the media scoffed at Mitt Romney and said that the only candidate who could ever beat their guy was John McCain.  Believe it or not, we listened.  For the smarter party, Republicans sure can be stupid.

Now the left is saying it will be a cake walk if we run Gingrich and the only serious candidate who can beat their guy is Romney, or maybe Huntsman, although they seem to have figured out that one is a hard sell.  So why are we listening again?  Ann Coulter came out slamming Newt and endorsing Romney.  George Will has attacked Newt Gingrich.  And what for?

Newt got $1.8 million from Freddie Mac.  Not really, it was actually Newt’s company.  But he did it by lobbying.  Well, again, no.  Newt did not lobby for Freddie Mac, but his company did provide consulting services to Freddie Mac.  Now, I am a businessman and a lot of what I do involves consulting.  Does that mean I can never run for President in case one of my clients does something bad someday despite my advice?  Maybe.

Let’s take it out of the business realm.  Pretend you own a garage and you fix cars.  If George Soros drives up and asks you to change the oil, will you turn him away?  Are you a liberal if you change his oil?  What about Bernie Madoff before he was caught?  Are you part of his illegal pyramid scheme because you changed his tires?

It would be one thing if Newt counseled Freddie Mac on how lose billions of dollars, get bailed out, and pay everyone huge bonuses.  But if you are looking for that smoking gun, you are looking at the wrong person.  Try Franklin Raines, Jamie Gaerlick, etc.  Enough with the guilt by association.  Newt did consulting for large businesses, and they paid his company rates that large, multi-billion dollar businesses pay for high level consulting.

Ok, but Newt sat on a couch with Nancy Pelosi.  Yes, he did.  He also had debates with Cuomo, Kerry and Sharpton.  Newt Gingrich is not going to implement cap and trade to prevent global warming.  That’s about as crazy as saying Mitt Romney is going to support partial birth abortion.  Seriously, you have my word that neither of those will happen.  Newt wasn’t endorsing Nancy Pelosi any more than Al Sharpton was endorsing Pat Robertson.  If Sarah Palin stood next to Michelle Obama and did a PSA saying its good for kids to have a healthy diet, would you suddenly think that Palin supports federal government takeover of school lunches? Newt has fought vigorously against cap and trade.

Well, what about Newt supporting a healthcare mandate?  When Hillary was pushing Hillarycare, which would take responsibility away from people, Newt signed on with the Heritage Foundation’s alternative that included an individual mandate. After researching it, Newt backed off that position.  He never implemented it for an entire state, or for anyone actually.  Newt is not going to implement a healthcare mandate on the entire country.  Guess what, neither is Romney.

In fact, let’s talk Romney for a minute.  Mitt Romney is pro-life.  He opposes gay marriage.  He makes Huntsman look like Hillary.  He supports tax cuts for the middle class and not raising taxes on employers and producers.  As much as Romney has been painted as the liberal in this bunch, he was the most conservative viable candidate in 2008 after Fred Thompson dropped out.  He may not be a card carrying TEA Party member, but he has said himself that he supports the TEA Party and shares all of their goals.  By the way, I never got a card either.  I really don’t think they issue them, even if Bachmann has one.

Why did Romney lose in 2008?  It all came down to two reasons.  Number one, Romney was not moderate enough to get the “independents”.  He was too conservative.  Only John McCain could beat the Democrat in 2008 by reaching across the aisle and not being so extreme.  Reason number two, the infamous time-table for withdrawal charge.  Romney said that when the time came to draw down the troops from Iraq, he supported a time-table for an orderly withdrawal.  His opponents turned that into Democrat style cut and run.  No matter how many times he tried to explain that was not what he believed, that became the mantra.

What about Rick Perry?  Why aren’t we going around saying that Rick Perry is going to implement cap and trade because years ago he was a Democrat working on the campaign of the future Nobel prize winner and global warming snake oil salesman, Al Gore?

The only person we have to actually worry about doing half the crazy stuff he’s been accused of thinking is Ron Paul!

So let’s not let people choose our candidate for us.  Research what you hear about candidates.  Just because George Will thinks you are too dumb to vote doesn’t make it so.  Each of the candidates left have some great ideas, and each one will do a far better job at running this country than the current President.  Did Cain have some foreign policy gaffes?  Shoot, the last three years have been an Obama foreign policy gaffe.

Part of this election cycle that Romney has skipped sofar has been the knife in the back from the right and the dare to run that candidate from the left.  Considering how well Newt is handling this complete onslaught from the right and left, wouldn’t you rather have him going up against Obama than the candidate that no one is vetting?  McCain got plenty of vetting after Romney dropped out in 2008.

This is not an endorsement of Newt.  I will make an endorsement of a candidate after the Jacksonville, Florida debate in January.  But this is a serious question to our party.  Why do we have to self destruct again?

Trunkline 2012: Sunday Election News Review-12//4/11

Bookmark and Share ****Cain gone, Newt Ahead in Iowa, Coming in second: Ron Paul?? *****

With Cain gone, the field is looking more and more like Gingrich/Romney.  Meanwhile, liberal pundits and even some conservatives seem to be praying that Newt’s rise will be as long lived as Bachmann’s, Perry’s and Cain’s.  Is it really Santorum’s turn?  How about Ron Paul’s?

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Bachmann’s Gamble

Michele Bachmann believes she is the best candidate for the job.  She should, she’s running.  However, unlike the two front runners, Bachmann has chosen not to differentiate herself based on ideas, but instead to attack the front runners as being more liberal as she is.  Her most recent target is Newt Gingrich, but she can also be traced to the fall of Rick Perry.

The two front runners, and Herman Cain, have done a very good job of not attacking other candidates.  The “attacks” between Romney and Gingrich over the last week have amounted to points scored on differentiation in back ground and complementary assessments of each others abilities with subtle hints as to who is better because of it.

So why does Bachmann think that attacking the other GOP candidates is a winning proposition?  Simply put, she does not believe Barack Obama can win.  In Bachmann’s mind, the GOP candidate could be Tom DeLay and Obama would still lose.  Technically, she should be right.

The administration got the best news it’s had in three years this past week.  Enough people dropped out of the job hunt to join Occupy Wall Street that unemployment (which only measures who is looking for a job) fell to 8.6%.  Now, Obama’s justice department has released a new round of incriminating documents on a Friday night to avoid the media cycle and Obama is skipping town for an extended Christmas/New Years vacation that us working schlubs could only dream of.

But Bachmann’s faith in Republicans’ will to vote for the lesser of two evils is unfounded.  Just look at how quickly Republican supporters are backing off of Cain after the most recent affair allegation.  Sure some of it is fears over electability, some of it is dislike for his 999 plan and foreign policy, but a good portion of it is different standards.  It’s the kinds of standards that make Republicans resign for tapping their toes in the men’s room while Democrats can shove a cigar in their young intern’s….well anyway.

Bachmann’s gamble is that since Obama is going to lose anyway, Republicans need to take this glorious opportunity to choose the best candidate for the job (Michele Bachmann) and not settle for a RINO (Mitt Romney), a crony capitalist (Rick Perry), or a flip flopping environmentalist (Newt Gingrich).  Instead, we should choose the TEA Party image of perfect conservatism, the reincarnation of Ronald Reagan mixed with Sarah Palin: Michele Bachmann.

Bachmann seems to think her negativity will make her be the first candidate to be a front runner, lose it all and end up in 5%ville, and then rise from the ashes a second time.  She needs to be careful that it won’t accomplish that for Obama instead.

Rasmussen Shows Gingrich Over Obama

In what may be a bad sign ultimately for Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich has overtaken Barack Obama in a hypothetical poll for the 2012 General Election.  Newt 45, Obama 43 is the Rasmussen headline.

Certainly this is bad news for Barack Obama.  Gingrich has a great deal of distance to cover in order to win over moderates and and establishment Republicans without losing the Social Conservative base.  He has already been attacked by watchdog/attack dog Michele Bachmann for not being conservative enough on illegal immigration.  Mitt Romney is trying to portray Newt as a Washington insider, and liberals like Bruce Bartlett and Paul Krugman are trying to feed a new portrayal of Newt as someone who only sounds smarter than them.  Even Mark Steyn got in on the action while filling in for Rush Limbaugh on Tuesday, saying essentially that Newt only sounds smart because he uses big words.  Yet Newt has accomplished something other flavor of the week Social Conservatives haven’t with this poll.  Falling to Newt this early in a national poll is very bad news for Obama.

So why might it be worse news for Romney?  How about some de ja vu.  Click here for a 2008 New Hampshire poll that might remind you of how the 2008 primary went down. Romney had been the clear choice until polls started showing McCain as being the best candidate to beat Hillary Clinton.  Up until now, Romney has consistently been the best candidate to beat Obama in 2012.

Let’s be honest.  The number one concern of most Republicans when determining who to vote for in this primary is who can beat Barack Obama.  Even though any of the candidates running should be able to beat Obama, many Republicans are basing their vote on that one key: electability.  If Newt continues to beat Obama in the polls, Romney could find himself watching the November results from home for the second time in a row.

Is Bachmann’s Immigration Stance Electable?

One of the keys to winning the Social Conservative vote is electability.  Many voters out there aren’t asking which candidate has the best ideas.  They are asking which candidate can beat Barack Obama.  On the Social Conservative side, they are asking which candidate can beat Mitt Romney first.

Bachmann has chosen not only to level questionable attacks against Newt Gingrich for his immigration policy, but she has also taken the hardline stance that as President 11.2 million illegal aliens should be deported no matter how long they have been here, their other legal history, or their family and community ties.  With the intensity that Bachmann has attacked Gingrich, I would be comfortable assuming that this would be a national priority for her.

Mitt Romney tried to come down hard on Gingrich in the debate, but admitted himself that there must be exceptions to the rule for mass deportations.  Bachmann, who has played the role of attack dog against more than one candidate, was far more rigid in her approach.  But can a zero tolerance, deport them all approach to Illegal Immigration win in 2012?

Amnesty was a big loser for Republicans in the past.  McCain’s involvement in a potential bill to grant a path to citizenship for illegal aliens nearly ended his career.  But far too often this complex issue is reduced to a soundbite, or single word (such as “amnesty”).  What would happen in a debate between Michele Bachmann and Barack Obama where Bachmann was asked if she would make deporting 11.2 million illegal aliens a national priority and how she planned on doing that?

This issue is a loser all around for Conservatives.  Not because they are wrong, but because like so many other issues there is no easy solution, but they are willing to try.

So far, Mitt Romney has dodged a huge bullet.  No one seems to have noticed his exception caveat to his immigration hardline.  Bachmann has managed to stay on the attack, but it won’t take the media forever for someone to ask her how she plans on deporting 11.2 million illegal immigrants.  For now though, Gingrich is taking the heat just as he predicted in the debate.  As far as what Conservatives actually want, many want Michele Bachmann’s hardline and may stay home if they see weakness in a candidate on this issue.  Others will see Bachmann’s stance as making her unelectable and will avoid her because of it.  Either way, the best thing for the GOP right now is for this issue to run its course in the media cycle and go away soon.  With Bachmann’s perceived chance at spoiling another rival’s campaign, don’t count on it.

Rush Hits Newt Again

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

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

With great influence comes great responsibility

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ann Coulter Rips Newt, Endorses Romney

In case you wanted to see the laundry list of reasons to stay home in 2012 if Newt gets the nomination, an influential member of the media provided them in a weekly newsletter last night.  No, I am not talking about George Soros.  Believe it or not, Ann Coulter’s signature is on the blade firmly implanted in Newt’s back.  Newt has been anticipating mainstream media attacks since his turn at the top began, and so far he has been handling them beautifully.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t looking over his shoulder.

Coulter, normally a reliable Reaganite, dredged up every non-rightwing conservative thing Newt has done throughout his career, and added her own arrows in the unfair Freddie Mac attack on Newt for consulting work he did over the last decade before the financial collapse.

Coulter stated that “…everyone knows the nominee is going to be Romney.”  While highlighting Newt’s couch moment with Pelosi, Coulter ignored Romney’s liberal past transgressions aside from Romneycare, whose relevance she equated to Romney being a Mormon.  Romney is a great candidate, but to hear it from Coulter, you would think he is the only viable candidate Republicans can find.

Ann, let me take a moment to address  you as one blogger to another.  First of all, if you’ve been reading my blog then you would know that Romney very well may not be the nominee.  Second, if you have been reading the polls, then you know that Romney is not the only person on planet earth that can beat Barack Obama.  Third, if you’ve been reading Obama’s record, then shame on you for even accepting the premise that he is any more electable than even Gary Johnson.  And fourth, if you had been listening to Newt Gingrich, you would know that such unfair attacks like the one you leveled against him in your newsletter will not help to defeat Obama in 2012.

The reason for the rise and fall of Socially Conservative candidates in this race is that the non-establishment wing of the Republican Party wants a Socially Conservative candidate who can beat Barack Obama.  They thought they had it with Bachmann, but it became clear she could not beat Obama.  They thought they had it with Perry, but he turned out to be an embarrassment.  They thought they had it with Cain, but his ideas on taxes and his mishandling of media attacks are threatening his chances.  They have never thought they had that with Romney.  Romney has been the man for the establishment, and he has done very well.  But he is certainly not cleaner than Newt when it comes to his record.

I have a great deal of respect for Ann Coulter.  Most of the time I agree with her.  Today, my advice to Ann Coulter is come back to our side.  If someone is going to attack Newt, let it be the enemy, not those who should be his friends.  And let the American people decide whether they want Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich to take on the worst President in our nation’s history.  If you need some ideas of things to write about, shoot me an email at whitehouse2012blog@gmail.com and I’ll be happy to talk about Solyndra, Jon Corzine, Fast and Furious, Occupy Wall Street’s assassination attempt, Obama thinking Hawaii is in Asia, UNICEF’s US funded war on foreign adoption, the debt super committee, or a whole host of other topics your readers would rather read about than a hit piece on Newt Gingrich.

As Predicted

Newt is finally getting to taste the view at the top.  In the latest Public Policy Polling poll, Newt has climbed to the top, edging out Cain and Romney.  In fact, in this poll Newt was the only candidate with noticeable upward mobility.  Both Cain and Romney saw declines, while Perry slipped far closer to 5% oblivion with fellow candidates Bachmann, Paul, Santorum, Huntsman and Johnson.

Newt's turn as king of the hill

Newt’s ascension is no surprise to this staffer after Cain’s sexual harassment troubles refused to go away, his 9-9-9 plan came under scrutiny, and he gave a foreign policy debate performance where he may as well have said on a clear day he can see advisers who know something about foreign policy from his front doorstep.  Ok, low blow.  But you have to admit his debate performance was not up to Newt/Mitt standards.

Mitt Romney continues to occupy his base of supporters, but this poll may indicate that many who supported him as the only viable candidate are also giving Newt a second look.  This is especially true considering things like the latest Whitehouse12.com poll that shows high negatives for Cain and Romney, but relatively low negatives for Gingrich.

What Newt Gingrich needs to do now is avoid saying anything stupid.  The top spot in the GOP race is precarious.  And Newt is not spotless.  At times he means well, but is misunderstood.  While he has chalked up his couch time with Pelosi and his weak campaign start as stupid mistakes, such an excuse will not carry him through January.  Gingrich needs South Carolina and Florida to go his way before he can start feeling at all comfortable, and that is a ways away still.

And that’s time

In a short hour and a half, made up of minute responses and thirty second followups, the GOP candidates once again took the stage to answer questions from semi-respectful moderators.  In a debate most looked forward to by Ron Paul fans, Paul received very little time. We have seen pretty much all there is to be seen about candidate style, and many of these questions were repeats.  So here are the winners and losers:

The Good

Mitt Romney won this debate.  His answers were calming, yet clear and determined.  He portrayed the very stature Americans are looking for in a Commander in Chief, and he highlighted American Exceptionalism.  This area is a strong suit for Mitt, and one that does not involve any sort of past flip flops or policy changes.  His answers should give him a bump among social conservatives who are inspired by terms like American Exceptionalism.

Newt at one point had to school the moderators on war versus criminal law.  In some ways this debate seemed frustrating for Newt, but that is an aspect of him his followers often like to see.  Newt brings the fight to the moderators and to the left and usually wins.  Many of his answers were right on, but others were somewhat vague.  One thing that Newt will lose points for is how loosely he called for covert operations in countries like Iran and Syria.  This is something Newt has brought up as a policy in debates and speeches in the past, but is something better left unsaid.

Jon Huntsman did well in the debate.  The question on a tradewar with China is a favorite of most media moderators because it gives them a chance to toss Huntsman an easy softball.    Foreign policy hits many of Huntsman’s strong points without touching many of the issues that conservatives hate him for.  It won’t matter though, Huntsman is done.

The Bad

Santorum did pretty well.  He has the unfortunate bad luck of being a candidate on the back end of two long wars and sharing a policy that sounds eerily like Bush’s.  On the other hand, Santorum seemed to be saying that we need to keep funding Pakistan and being their friend because they have a Nuke.  True or not, Santorum is not going to win American hearts saying implying that we must borrow from China to pay off Pakistan to be our friend.

I have a feeling that media moderators purposefully cut Paul’s debate time short on debates like this to get his supporters riled up.  Get ready, we are going to hear about that for the next week or so.  Paul didn’t do bad for most of the debate, but some of his stances are really not correct.  The idea that the United States must capture a citizen who has declared war on the United States and bring them in to face civilian court, or that non-uniformed terrorists have any sort of rights under US law is wrong and violates precedent.  Gingrich and Perry were absolutely right on those counts.  Paul’s supporters were being their typical selves in the debate as well, to the point where the mods had to admonish them to be respectful.  They are another liability of Paul’s with the overall GOP.

Herman Cain reminded me a lot of Rick Perry in recent debates.  Without 9-9-9 to fall back on, Cain was slow in responses, vague, and seemed as though he would happily defer to a future self, surrounded by knowledgeable generals and advisers.  That’s great, but that is not leadership.  In that respect, Huntsman showed up Cain, and even Gingrich, when he said if a nuke was loose in Pakistan he would secure it.  Cain really did not give a performance that screamed “I am a leader”.  Instead, each response sounded like “How can I answer this without ruining my campaign”.

The Ugly

Michele Bachmann continues to be unimpressive and unmemorable.  She scored some points rebutting Ron Paul, but seemed to spend most of the night trying to get the moderators to let her respond to other candidates.  She also seemed to get less time.  However, I will give her a great deal of credit for her answers on ways to trim military spending without hurting the military.

Rick Perry still doesn’t debate well.  And once again he found himself as the butt of several jokes, made both by the moderators, himself, and Senator Graham.  Perry’s idea of zero based budgeting for foreign aide is a great idea, but the only reason it’s his is because he got to say it first.  Gingrich and Romeny both articulated it better when Perry was done.

But allow me a Newt Gingrich moment to say this.  The real loser was Barack Obama.  The candidates made it clear, once again, that every single one of them would run foreign policy better than Obama.  Several drove home the point that Obama had a range of good choices and bad choices and made all the bad ones and none of the good ones.  The only ambivalent candidate who actually seemed to end up on Obama’s side for some things was Ron Paul.  This is one of the aspects of Newt Gingrich’s leadership because he has focused these debates on defeating Barack Obama, and when Newt sets the tone the other candidates usually follow.

CNBC versus the GOP

Last night the GOP candidates went into hostile Michigan to face a hostile set of moderators who were booed into sticking to economic issues by the crowd after an unfair detour against Herman Cain.  In all, the night turned into somewhat of a circus.  Hopefully, the GOP will shun CNBC in the future, as this was the worst and most unprofessional case of moderation we have seen.    But aside from that, let’s get to the winners and losers.  First up…

It floored me when they tried to ask if companies should be making a profit or growing jobs.  Excuse me, but how the heck do you create jobs if you aren’t making a profit?? Gingrich’s response was beautiful. Watching the moderator rolling her eyes when Gingrich said a 30 second answer on healthcare was ridiculous was fun to watch.  But my favorite answer of Gingrich’s was on education, where he offered a real life example of a real life solution that addresses the issue of education that is getting exponentially expensive with much cheaper results.  As someone who works full-time, is a full-time grad student and has been in college for a decade following various business and religious pursuits, I connected with Gingrich’s answer and could not agree more.  This morning Neil Boortz in a morning phonecall to WOKV implied that Republicans needed to worry about who could beat Obama, not who would be the best President speaking of Newt Gingrich.  Bull.  Gingrich keeps winning debates because he is the smartest man on that stage.  And he made a joke out of those bombastic, rude moderators.

Rick Santorum did well.  This doesn’t mean anything, he still can’t win.  But he did highlight his leadership on things like medical savings accounts and gave viewers no reason to mark him down.  He has struggled in debates, but performed well last night.  Ron Paul also did a good job.  He avoided saying anything outlandish and produced a solid, constitutionalist approach.  Bachmann did well, but was once again forgettable.  Huntsman also did pretty well, though his attempt at “answer this in 30 seconds?” humor sounded like a lame, screwed up retelling of a good joke.

Mitt Romney needs to understand his precarious position.  He is stuck at 30%.  The rest of the GOP voters are looking for not-Mitt-Romney as their candidate.  His smoothness, economic savvy, and gaffe free debate performances have gotten him this far (along with a great deal of establishment money).  He needs to figure out how to get himself the rest of the way.  He has to find a way to make Social Conservatives trust him. Mitt, if you are listening, make a major statement in favor of state personhood amendments.  Consider that step one to breaking into the 40s in the polls.

Herman Cain also has hit a roadblock, but it is a policy roadblock.  I think many viewers were left with the feeling that if nuclear missiles were airborne from China heading for the US, President Cain would be on the phone with the Chinese President telling him how his bold plan, the 9-9-9 plan, could solve their problems by growing China’s economy.  9-9-9 is to Herman Cain what Windex was to Tula’s family in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  This one dimensionalism will leave him open to a Gingrich rise.  On the other hand, Cain did very well defending himself against accusations which are more and more looking like racist smears from the Axelrod/Democrat machine.

Rick, Rick, Rick.  By the way, if you want to see the sexism of the left, just watch how long Perry’s crash and burn stays in the media cycle and blogosphere compared to a Palin or Bachmann gaffe.  Talk about not being ready for primetime.  I think Perry likes to start talking and get rolling, and that’s why he sometimes forgets what he was talking about mid-sentence.  No excuses.  You are running for President of the United States.  Running before you secure the ball is how you lose games.  Running your mouth before you have your answer and grasp on the issues is what makes Presidents say stupid things.  E.g. Barack Obama talking about police officers who arrested his professor friend.

Michele Bachmann: Is She Gambling Her Congressional Seat Away?

  Bookmark and Share  Congresswoman Michele Bachmann called in to Wednesday night’s broadcast of Mark Levin’s radio program and discussed her blueprint for economic prosperity and job creation. Toward the end of her interview, Mark asked Bachmann indicated that he is not sure how it works in Minnesota but he asked if she is also running for reelection to her congressional seat.

The question was a good one, because there are some states where you can run for two separate offices on the same ballot.

The ability to do that makes the decision to run for higher much easier if you hold , say a safe House seat and wanted to run for the U.S. Senate, or even Vice President or President.  You could still run for one of those offices and be secure in the fact that if you lose, you will likely still be reelected to Congress.  But such an opportunity is varies from state to state based upon such allowances in their individual state election laws.

In Minnesota, state law prevents a major party candidate from running for President and Congress at the same time.

In Bachmann’s case, that means she would have to give up on running either for President or for reelection to her congressional seat.

In answering Mark Levin’s question, Bachmann made it clear that she is running for President and nothing else.  The Congresswoman indicated that she feels  that our nation is at critical crossroads and the direction we go is so important that she will put all of her energy in to becoming President and assure that we head in the right direction.

Then Bachmann casually added;

“I think the filing deadline to run for office in Minnesota is in the summer and we will know who the nominee is by then”. 

That statement suggests that Bachmann is definitely aware of the fact that she will have the opportunity to seek reelection to her seat in the House of Representatives and more than likely knows what her answer is.

The truth is that the cutoff period for filing is not in the summer but it’s close enough.  According to the deadlines established on Minnesota Secretary of State’s website, the filing deadline for Bachmann is May 5, 2012, and by that time, we will surely know who the Republican nominee will be.  If Republicans do not know who their nominee will be by May of next year, then they will be in big trouble.

So while Bachmann may indeed be sincere about her desire to run only for President, she knows very well that she will probably be running for reelection to the House.

On a side note, there is precedence for candidates running for two offices at the same time, on the same ballot.   In 1960 LBJ ran for Vice President and for reelection to his Senate seat from Texas.  In 1988, Democrat Lloyd Bentsen, also from Texas, did the same thing as Michale Dukakis’ running mate.  Texas law specifically permitted them to do so. The Texas state legislature passed what is commonly called the LBJ law, specifically for his benefit back in 1959. But while Texas law allows you to run for any two seats simultaneously, other states like Missouri and Connecticut only one of the two offices that a candidate simultaneously runs for to be for that of the Presidency or Vice Presidency, only.

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One of the most recent such cases occurred in 2000 when Democrat Al Gore chose Connecticut’s Joe Lieberman as his Vice Presidential running mate.  Luckily for Lieberman, he was able to run for Vice President and reelection to the senate at the same time.  While Al Gore lost his home state of Tennessee and the general election, Joe Liberman carried Connecticut for the democratic ticket and won reelection to his senate seat.

Aside from examples of dual presidential and senate candidacies, in 1968, Pennsylvania Democrat Rep. John Dent ran for both renomination to the House and for his Party’s  U.S. Senate nomination.  Dent won renomination for his congressional seat but he lost the senate Democrat Senate nomination to incumbent senator Joseph Clark.

As for Michele Bachmann, she clearly can run for one or the other not both.  But with 100,000 voters needed to be cut out of her current seat due to redistricting, it is not known how strong a Republican seat her congressional district will be.  Insiders suggest that it will still lean Republican.  Another good sign for Bachmann is that there are still no Republican names knocking down the door to replace her.  Still, when asked about running for reelection to her 6th district seat in the recent past, Bachmann has for the most part, avoided the question.
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