Trunlkine 2012: Thursday’s Summary of News and Views from the Campaign Trail– 1/26/12

Bookmark and Share  Today’s Trunkline 2012 discusses tonight’s presidential debate in Florida, the personhood amendment, Bob Dole’s freak out on Newt Gingrich, Bob McDonnell’s view of all the VP talk, Romney and paul running in Nevada, what Newt learned from Dick, and much more.

The CNN Las Vegas Debate – A Bad night for Republican supporter’s

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich summed up Tuesday nights’ GOP debate best when he stated,” Maximizing bickering is probably not the best way to the White House.” The Former Speaker was right, there were better dust ups in last night’s GOP debate, then in any boxing match held in Las Vegas for months.

The sharpest exchanges were between, Texas Governor Rick Perry who accused former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney of lying about hiring illegal immigrants. Romney countered calling Perry effectively, an Al Gore Democrat in Texas when George Bush was running and accused him of creating one-third of all jobs in Texas for illegal immigrants. Romney did come under fire from a number of the candidates again throughout the evening, but still managed to come out looking the most presidential at the end of the debate, but perhaps, a little more rattled then in previous debates.

Herman Cain got attacked by Perry, Santorum and Bachmann over his 9-9-9 plan with all three calling it a value added tax and saying the people of New Hampshire won’t want to pay another 9 percent sales tax on their goods. Cain did well in defending it using the apples and oranges analogy. Cain did get tripped up by moderator Anderson Cooper over comments he made earlier in the evening regarding negotiating with terrorists and didn’t really manage to convince people on his position.

Texas Governor Perry put in a much more assertive performance on the night overall. I think it is fair to say that he will never be an outstanding debater, but he did rattle Governor Romney a number of times, especially when questioning his record on jobs as Massachusetts governor, and said it did not compare to his accomplishments in Texas. The two men, standing side by side in the middle of the set, frequently interrupted each other in what became an increasingly bitter exchange as the night went on, Romney even calling for the rules to be abided by at one point. Perry managed to put forward his achievements as Texas Governor much better then is previous debates.

I thought Ron Paul had a much better debate this time out, then previous debates. I may not agree with his view on every issue, but his is absolutely historically and factually correct about all big empire’s greatness coming to an end by their sheer size and financial cost of maintaining their empire. The 900 or so U.S. bases in over 150 countries are financially unsustainable and Rep.Paul is quite correct in his assertion. He played to his base and supporters well last night and his performance was energised compared to previous debates.

Rep. Bachmann tried her level best to make an impact in the debate however, her every effort now has the news impact equivalent of watching a BBC 24 News Channel show, it sounds the same every time and simply doesn’t change. It is full of sound bites and she’s used them all before too often. A geography note for future debates, Libya is in Africa! Rep. Bachmann is quick to attack other candidates on their plans and proposals but simply doesn’t sound convincing in selling her own or putting forward solutions for the nation’s current problems. People need to hear more then President Obama will be a one term president as a way of intending to run a country. Unfortunate, I do believe Rep. Bachmann has lots of potential but she simply hasn’t evolved as a candidate since her early burst.

I did Like Senator Santorum’s performance again last night, he gave the most substantive answer in defending Governor Romney and the attack on his religion and managed to explain his own valued stance and why the Latino population are important in American society because they understand the importance of family and want the American Dream. Santorum has performed well in all the debates and should be proud of his efforts to date.

Speaker Gingrich as ever delivered confident, assured and factual answers but again struggled to get air time among as he framed it, all the “Bickering.” I would love to see him engage President Obama in Douglas-Lincoln style debates, although I suspect, even in the unlikely eventuality of Gingrich winning the nomination, I very much doubt President Obama would want to engage Gingrich in debates as he simply wouldn’t stand a chance in them.

Overall, the debate highlighted some serious concerns with the Republican field. The mess that has ensued over the primary season following Florida’s decision to move its primary forward, has only served to create more problems then it solves. It doesn’t lend any advantage to the eventual Republican nominee, going up against President Obama next year in the election which above all, should be the priority.

If last nights’ debate is anything to go by, the Republican Party need to seriously look beyond personal loyalty and start looking at who can actually beat President Obama in 2012. The only true winner from last nights’ debate was President Obama.

If the Republican candidates keep tearing strips off each other like they did last night, they will have done all the undermining and character assassination of each other necessary, to convince the electorate to vote for President Obama over the eventual nominee regardless by the time they choose him or her.

Personally, I think the Republicans need to ask themselves what they want more. Do they pick a candidate in 2012, which represents their traditional conservative party values but will most likely lose to President Obama in 2012? Or do they go with a moderate like Romney or a Gingrich substantive conservative who can beat President Obama on substance in a general election? I know people may not like the fact I’ve said this, however, this in my view is the harsh reality.

The fact is you cannot make a difference to how the country is being run, if you are not in power. The Republican Party may have to concede on one or two areas of their traditional foundation in electing their eventual nominee this time around. The choice is simply this, would they prefer to take back the White House in 2012 and work with a Republican President, or put forward a candidate who cannot beat President Obama and stay in opposition for another four years?

Looking at last nights’ debate, time is running out for the Republican Party to adopt Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandant and move forward the discussion on issues in an informative and open manner, instead of attacking each other. If they continue attacking each other, they may as well hand the election to President Obama, a disappointing night from a Republican perspective.

Verdict: Victory to Team Obama

A Dismal Fight for Relevance

The GOP Presidential debate in Las Vegas highlighted not only some of the candidates’ fight for relevance, but the fight for relevance for many voters in the nation. Nevada joined the growing number of States moving up their primary election. The voters in many States have felt as though their votes did not matter. Key swing States often vote so late that the primary process is basically over and decided before their votes are cast. It has been argued that this has resulted in nominations of candidates that don’t speak to the needs of most Americans, but rather just to the needs of a handful of non-representative States. The power that Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have in the nomination process outweighs that of key general election States like Florida and Ohio. The cost of running a campaign is so staggeringly high that a candidate that does not appeal to the voters in Iowa or New Hampshire may be out of the race regardless of how he or she is polling in more critical States. The problem effects both parties and gave the Democrats Barack Obama and the Republicans John McCain, not the first choices of the majority of people in key general election States at the time of the early primaries. Penalties against States in 2008 from the Democrats are being matched this year by many Republican candidates boycotting Nevada either wholly or in part.

Jon Huntsman was absent from the debate in protest. In reality, his ‘protest’ had more to do with courting New Hampshire voters than it did with any principle. He is seeking to knock Romney down in the New Hampshire polls and lift himself by painting himself as their real ‘friend’ and Romney as not really for their needs. Romney, Perry and Paul decided to leave the placement of primaries to the States and stay out of their affairs. All the others didn’t seem sure of what position to take, so they went to the televised debate but skipped other events. That is sort of like going to the all you can eat buffet and ‘making a stand’ by not eating any oyster crackers. It isn’t a position based on any principles and it isn’t particularly meaningful. In the end, it all comes down to Huntsman trying to make himself relevant by playing up the inflated relevance of New Hampshire while Nevada is trying to make the votes of its citizens relevant by moving up its primary.

The rest of the field used the debate to fight for their relevance. Bachmann and Santorum needed to make a big move. Gingrich needed to put on as good a performance in this debate people could actually watch as he did in the minimal audience Bloomberg debate so they would see his relevance. Perry needed to show that he can be an effective candidate without a teleprompter or he might drop further in the polls to total irrelevance. Cain needed to show that he had foreign affairs ideas and not just 9-9-9 so that he can truly challenge Romney. Paul needed to connect with the viewer better after publishing his plan full of popular conservative ideas so that he is no longer viewed as irrelevant to mainstream voters. Lastly Romney needed to put some passion into his performance and show the voters something to be excited about so that he can see his poll numbers break out of their long-time holding pattern.

Unfortunately none of the candidates succeeded. They could have all come out of the debate better off and advanced the larger conservative cause. Instead, rather than any winners, the debate is better measured in who the bigger losers were. In the effort to make themselves look better at the expense of other candidates, Santorum and Perry generally made themselves look like jerks. The only civility in the debate came, once again, from Gingrich and Cain. Romney, who needed to energize the voters and give them a reason to be excited by his campaign, instead decided to engage in attacks on other candidates in a very condescending manner. Bachmann did better on issues than in some previous debates but still came across as a yipping dog.

Now I’m sure that there will plenty of you who think I am being too hard or too mean to these candidates. You may feel that it is disloyal to the party or the movement for a conservative blogger to call out these candidates. You may think your preferred candidate somehow was justified in his or her actions during the debate. You may think they won the debate. As someone who has yet to make a choice on these candidates, I are weighing them all and I was disappointed in their performances this time. I know they could do better. I expect them to be better. We need them to be better.

That being said, there were many good responses and messages put forth in this debate on security. There was not as much consensus on security issues as there had been on economic issues. Some interesting divides emerged. It was surprising that Bachmann, as Tea Party champion, aligned more with neoconservative Santorum on foreign affairs. She was far more a champion of interventionism than any other candidate on the stage aside from Santorum. How that will play with the less interventionist leanings of most Tea Partiers will be seen in the next round of polls. Ron Paul has generally had weak support from most conservatives on foreign affairs, but he did manage to better articulate his positions on those matters. Herman Cain was able to be a more broad candidate and not just Mr. 9-9-9. Rick Perry appeared prepared and engaged for the debate. So, there are some good parts that came from the debate. It is just unfortunate that most of that was buried underneath a mountain of attacks and counterattacks between the candidates.

The conduct of the candidates is translating to the voters. The audience in the debate hall was far more divided than in previous debates. At times they even booed various responses. That is good news for Obama, but not very good news for the GOP. The only person who really seems to get that is Newt Gingrich. If the candidates continue to drive wedges within the party in their fight, they may only make the eventual nominee so weak that the party itself will have to fight for relevance again. We need to be building on the momentum of 2010, but are slowing our own roll and giving Obama everything he needs to destroy any of these candidates in the general.

To all of the candidates (except Speaker Gingrich), I must say that I am disappointed in your actions and while I came into the debate excited about my choices, I am leaving the debate much less so. We need leaders. Attacking your fellows is not leading. Bashing another’s ideas is not having vision. Grow up.

Trunkline 2012: Monday Tidbits From The Republican Presidential Race – 9/12/11

Pawlenty Pummels Romney With “Obamneycare” in Republican Debate Preview

Bookmark and Share    As previously pointed out in detail by WH12, Mitt Romney is the biggest target that will be on the stage in tonight’s Republican presidential debate. The most recent evidence of that fact comes from former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty who is so eager to hit the bull’s-eye that he has already begun taking some early practice shots at Governor Romney.

As seen in the video below, during an interview on Fox News Sunday with host Chris Wallace, Pawlenty launched what is for Romney, a MOAB (Mother of All Bombs), a memorable hit on Romney’s Achilles heal……Romneycare. In describing Governor Romney’s Massachusetts healthcare plan as the model for President Obama’s national healthcare plan, commonly referred to as  Obamacare, Pawlenty called it Obamneycare. Pawlenty’s ability to coin a one word phrase that negatively links Mitt Romney to President Obama in such a memorable way, is a stroke of political genius that will prove to be a particularly potent strategic weapon as the Republican race for President moves forward.

Not only does the word help to move Romney’s thinking closer to President Obama’s thinking in the eyes of voters, it also provides Pawlenty with a perfect short and snappy soundbite that requires no explanation and continues to put Mitt Romney on the defensive and in the awkward position of having to spend valuable time trying to explain away. While Pawlenty need only to say the word “Obamneycare” to make his point, Romney has to exhaust time and spend money on using many words to defend himself against Obamneycare. While Tim Pawlenty’s campaign could now make money selling anti-Romney shirts emblazoned with the word “ObamneyCare” on them, Mitt Romney has to spend money on ads and mailings to explain Obamneycare away.

During the rest of the interview, host Chris Wallace afforded Pawlenty many opportunities to take more shots at Mitt Romney on an array of issues. But Governor Pawlenty resisted and instead maintained his focus on Obamneycare, adding,

“President Obama said that he designed Obamacare after Romneycare and basically made it Obamneycare… What I don’t understand is that they both continue to defend it.”

The one thing I do find questionable here though is Tim Pawlenty’s strategic decision to release his useful verbal weapon a day before tonight’s CNN/WMUR-TV/ Manchester Union Leader debate in New Hampshire. The newly created word was certainly laid on the desks of Mitt Romney’s talented team of experienced strategists, consultants, media mavens, and assorted opinion makers. This gives them more than 24 hours to come up with a creative response to any use of Pawlenty’s new verbal assault weapon during the debate. The question is, is Romney and his team talented and creative enough to come up with a rebuttal to “Obamneycare” that takes 15 seconds or less to articulate and sting Pawlenty with to boot?

No matter how Romney prepares to address Pawlenty’s new tool in an old line of attack against Romney, the seat that Mitt is in is only going to get hotter when the five other candidates on the stage tonight, follow Pawlenty’s lead and go for Romney’s jugular.

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