Change? Obama Worse than Bush

The verdict is in, and Barack Obama did not produce the change he promised.  In fact, as he blames all his ills on the last 8 years, it is interesting to compare the Bush years to the Obama years.  Consider the following:

Average Annual Increase in Public Debt (in millions):

Bush: $543,818        Obama: $1,497,601

Total Increase in Public Debt (in millions):

Bush (8 years): $4,217,261   Obama (4 years): $5,990,407

Average Annual Unemployment (Also see here):

Bush: 5.26%                    Obama: 9.2%

Median Household Incomes:

January, 2009: $55,198       August, 2012: $50,678

The Average Annual Price of Gas (not even including 2012):

Bush: $2.14                     Obama: $2.89

Cost of Higher Education (adj. for inflation, not even including 2012):

Bush 2008: $16,661     Obama 2011: $18,497

But isn’t health insurance cheaper now with Obamacare?  No.  In 2012 the amount a family with employer provided coverage pays in annual premiums has increased to about $16,000.  For families with private individual plans, the amount is up to $5,615.  And before you ask why families don’t all just switch to private individual plans, remember that Obamacare taxes medium-large businesses up to $3,000 per employee that they don’t cover.

But we know Obama has handled the economy terribly.  The other thing people elected Obama for was to end the wars.  Obama promised to close Gitmo, which didn’t happen, and to end the war in Iraq.  He ended the war in Iraq by sticking to Bush’s timeline, but that wasn’t the whole story.  Obama intended to continue the war and leave troops in Iraq, but Biden could not negotiate simple immunity for our troops.  Don’t look now, but the Afghanistan war isn’t ending in 2014.  The administration is already negotiating to keep up to 25,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014.

Let’s look at war by the numbers.

Involvement in Major Foreign Conflicts:

Bush: 2 countries           Obama: 3 countries

Military Spending as % of GDP:

Bush, 2008: 4.4%          Obama, 2011: 4.7%

Average Annual War Spending:

Bush: $99.3 Billion       Obama: $155.1 Billion

Obama boasts of ending the war in Iraq, but how is the peace President doing in Afghanistan?

Average Annual Troop Deaths:

Bush: 606                        Obama: 445

Iraq:  528                         66

Afghanistan: 78              379

But what about Bush’s handling of Katrina?  Surely Obama has done better than that, right?  Former NYC Mayor Guiliani says no.

What about taxes?  Obama boasts about cutting people’s taxes, but most of the tax hikes he passed don’t go into effect until next year.  Obamacare has 20 different tax hikes in it, and many of those affect the poor and the sick.

But Obama saved the auto industry, right?  Actually, the only Detroit major that survived was Ford.  Ford didn’t take Obama’s bailout.  Chrysler did, and is now owned by an Italian company called Fiat.  GM took Obama’s bailout and is now owned by the taxpayers.  This was after Obama spent billions to bailout the unions before letting the two companies go through bankruptcy.  If that’s Obama saving the auto industry, I hope he doesn’t do me any favors.

Add these factors to Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the Black Panther polling case, Solyndra, and the other various scandals and overreaches of the Obama administration, and there is no reason to re-elect Obama.  Except of course if you got an Obama phone and are afraid of losing it.

How Obama Could Still Win:

Several states in play are ties or tossups in the latest polls.  In some, Obama is leading by 3-5%, but 3-5% are either undecided or going third party.  Obama can still win, even with his horrible statistics, if people vote third party or stay home.

I know many out there are voting third party or not voting to protest Romney.  I, like you, am a very libertarian leaning constitutionalist.  I’d love to see us out of the Middle East.  I’d love to see government spending cut in half.  I’d love to see us hold to our 10th amendment.  But Mitt Romney is NOT Barack Obama.

If anything, Mitt Romney is far closer to Reagan.  Despite being hailed as a conservative hero, Reagan is not as conservative as I would have preferred.  In fact, many Ron Paul and Gary Johnson voters would probably not vote for Reagan either.  But Mitt Romney is not the candidate you should be protesting.  You should be protesting Barack Obama.

Consider your goals and which candidate will get us there:

Less involvement in the Middle East: Mitt Romney has a comprehensive energy plan that gets America using its own resources to lower our dependence on OPEC.  Obama spent billions of your tax dollars on green energy companies that went bankrupt, and we are no closer to independence from foreign oil.

Simpler, fairer tax system: Romney’s plan reduces rates in order to remove loopholes and deductions based on the government’s definition of what a good citizen looks like without raising taxes.  Obama’s plan is higher taxes, more redistribution and a more complex tax system designed to pick winners and losers.

Foreign wars: Obama has proven himself to be an interventionalist.  He is not the peace President people hoped for.  He hasn’t closed Gitmo.  He only left Iraq because he was too incompetent to negotiate a way to stay there.  But he is already negotiating to keep 25,000 troops in Afghanistan.  Romney’s approach is to show the kind of strength Reagan did.  What major war did we fight when Reagan was President?  The Cold War, where we sat across the ocean from each other and didn’t pull the trigger for eight years.  Finally, the Soviet Union collapsed under their economic system.

More personal freedom and responsibility: Nothing took us backwards further as a nation than Obamacare.  Obamacare mandates that every American buy private health insurance or pay a tax.  Obamacare takes deciding power away from doctors and patients and gives it to the government.  If you protest Romney, Obamacare is here to stay.  If you vote to protest Obama, we have a shot at repealing this monstrous tax on the sick and the poor.

Does My Vote Count?

If you are thinking of voting third party or not voting because Romney is not as conservative as you’d like, you could be part of the margin that gives Obama four more years to take us down the path towards socialism at hyperspeed.  So where does Romney need your vote the most:

Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Florida, Nevada, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Mexico, Arizona.

But believe it or not, he also needs you in Oregon, Minnesota, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Maine. If nothing else, vote to tell the liberals in your state that they do not have a mandate.  The country is changing and is leaning to the right.  You will never get the conservative, limited government you want if you let the country fall off the socialist cliff because the most conservative candidate who can win is not conservative enough for you.

When you walk into the voting booth, consider what you want America to look like in 2016.  Do you want to move forward the way Obama does?  Do you really want four more years of this?

What if Santorum Wins Michigan?

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

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

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

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

Santorum Will Remain in the Race Regardless of Where He Finishes In South Carolina

Bookmark and Share  According to officials in the presidential campaign of former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum have stated that no matter where Santorum finishes in tonight’s South Carolina Primary, he will not drop out of the nomination contest and promises to campaign aggressively in Florida which holds its primary in 10 days.

Before polls even closed in the Palmetto State, it was already established that Rick Santorum is locked in a race for third place with Texas libertarian Congressman Ron Paul.

Whether he comes in third or fourth, a loss to both Romney and Gingrich who are locked in their own tight race for first place, would essentially put an end to any momentum that Santorum had after his surprise showing in Iowa several weeks ago.

Despite being endorsed by 150 evangelical leaders, pressure will begin to mount on Santorum to step aside, especially since while Gingrich is doing better the long race goes, Santorum is doing worse the longer the race goes on.

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President of the A.V. Club

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Whoopidee doo, Ricky Santorum maybe, kind-of, possibly won in Iowa, but we’ll never know. We’re in South Carolina now and voting in Florida in less than two weeks. Those are big league primaries. No offense to Iowa, but who cares what they think? (Actually, I guess that is an offense to Iowa – but given their track record, they only have themselves to blame.) The froth may have floated to the top in Iowa, but Santorum had few champions in New Hampshire and isn’t exciting many in South Carolina either.

Sure, Rick can now tout maybe having won in Iowa. Of course, that will sway about as many voters as saying he was elected President of the A.V. Club back in grade school. No one in South Carolina really cares. The only people who might care are that small segment of the population who think sweater vests are hip. Oh, wait… The only people who think that are already Santorum lovers: hipsters voting for Obama and people who have already lined up to support Rick Santorum. (Just read it again and you’ll get it and if not, just Google Santorum).

Anyway, my point is that Santorum isn’t going to the White House unless it’s as an invited guest. It doesn’t matter if he maybe, possibly won in Iowa. The only thing that matters out of the Iowa story is that the GOP in Iowa can’t figure out who won. It raises doubts about how effective they’ll be in helping the GOP in the general election if they are that disorganized as to mess up the only thing anyone pays attention to Iowa about.

When Santorum finally drops out of the race, he can rock gently back and forth in a darkened closet clutching a sweater vest repeating to himself, “I maybe won Iowa. I maybe won Iowa. I maybe won Iowa.”

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Effect of Debates vs. Campaign Fatigue

South Carolina is within reach for Newt.  However, he must now combat something other than superpacs and media.  Newt now has to overcome campaign fatigue.  I’m sure that all of the candidates are tired and have been traveling a lot, but that isn’t what I was referring to.  You probably noticed about a month ago that every time there was a new debate, you were sure to have a friend who commented “Really?? Another one??”

Add to the non-stop debates at least 5 major lead changes among social conservatives, a growing, wearying Ron Paul movement, and the constant drum-beat from the establishment that Romney always was going to be the candidate and it is purely undeniable fate, and Romney gets the advantage among Conservatives who are tired of the infighting and want to get on to the main event.

Romney has flaws.  In fact, as I watch his superpac advertise Newt’s baggage (more than an airliner, according to the ad), I have to wonder why Romneycare, running on a pro-abortion platform, and all that does not count as baggage for Romney.  He has not yet been able to get the social conservatives to give him the unanimous thumbs up.  But one thing he has been flawless at has been this particular campaign.  His biggest missteps seem like manufactured class warfare attacks that only make him stronger among conservatives.  For example, he tried to bet $10k in a debate.  Who cares?  So he has $10k to throw around.  Duh, he’s rich.  Not only that, but only a moron, leftist, or member of the mainstream media (but I repeat myself) would think that Romney was actually trying to get Perry to make a financial wager, not just making a point that Perry was off his rocker.

Romney’s comment that he would like to fire his insurance company led to dishonest attacks from fellow conservatives, and perhaps one of the most boring Saturday Night Live opening sketches in history.  Attacks on Bain capital have left most conservatives scratching their heads, wondering if suddenly supporting small businesses and risk taking is no longer GOP approved.  The funnier thing was Obama attacking Romney’s record at Bain, after Obama used our tax dollars against our will to do the same thing with Chrysler against their will.  At least with Bain they were using investor’s money willingly given to help companies who came to them for help.  I can’t imagine the Chrysler bond-holders were hoping Obama would steal Chrysler, sell it to Italy and give the proceeds to the unions.

A couple days before South Carolina, Gingrich’s biggest advantage in the debates may become his worst liability.  Yes, the New Hampshire debate earned top ratings.  But Romney remains unflappable.  On the other hand, in Huckabee’s South Carolina forum on January 14th, the viewership was not quite so wide but Gingrich’s attack on Bain and the crowd’s booing response can be quickly found on youtube.  Going forward, more average voters are going to start relying more on soundbites and replays than taking time away from the playoffs to watch these debates from start to finish.  Without something to rally behind, Newt will not be able to recover the lost ground.

Romney won Iowa and New Hampshire, continuing to cement his front runner and assumed nominee status.  A South Carolina win will make it nearly impossible for any other candidate to catch up despite the fact that Romney continues to come no where near grabbing a majority of Republicans.  By the time Santorum and Perry drop out, Romney may have enough momentum to convince conservative holdouts to stop fighting him and start fighting with him against Obama.

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.

Groundhog Day Came to Iowa Early and Rick Santorum Saw His Shadow

Bookmark and Share   Iowa proved to be an incredibly dramatic opening contests for the Republican presidential nomination that even included the added suspense of missing and improperly recorded vote totals.  But by 2:30 in the morning, all was resolved and the results gave Mitt Romney a 8 vote victory.  The closeness of the race did not help Mitt Romney but it certainly helped Rick Santorum, the candidate who came from so far behind and so close to defeating Romney, that in the end Iowa really goes down in the books as more of a near loss for Romney than a real win.  And it was the incredible closeness of the race that changed everything, at least in the short term.

Several days prior to the Caucus, I correctly predicted the order in which the candidates would finish.  So the fact that Santorum finished second should not have been a total surprise.  But the fact that he came within 5 votes of winning is what changed everything.  As a result, contrary to other predictions, Iowa wound up mattering more than many expected, including myself. Exactly how much more though is up to Rick Santorum.

In addition to ending Michele Bachmann’s campaign and giving movement conservatives a chance to divide their vote up among fewer candidates, Iowa shifted the focus on to a new contender…..Rick Santorum.  But how much that matters depends upon Rick Santorum’s ability to capitalize on his new found fame.  If he fails to come out of New Hampshire and South Carolina stronger than he was going in to them, then Iowa’s impact on the nomination will prove to have been minimal.

The one thing we do know is that the strong showing they provided Rick Santorum with was a political version of Groundhog Day……not the movie, but the actual holiday.  Santorum, the former Senator from Pennsylvania, emerged from Iowa much like Punxsutawney  Phil, the famed Pennsylvania groundhog who the nation watches as he emerges from his burrow.  If he sees his shadow, it is said  to indicate that winter weather will last longer than we may want.  In Rick Santrorum’s case, his come from behind split decision in Iowa has cast a shadow on the Republican race which means that this nomination contest remains contested and will probably do so far longer than Republicans would like.

That situation was arrived at due to both Romney and Santorum.

In addition to running a strong campaign that was waged on principle, persistence, and elbow grease, Santorum never became the type of target that everyone who surged to the top found themselves to become. This helped him win voters over and keep them in his column.  Had Santorum surged to the top like Newt Gingrich did weeks before voting began, he probably would have fallen victim to the same circumstances of those before him and now he will have a hard time proving that he can withstand such scrutiny.

As for Romney, although he technically won, to really win, he needed to stun Republicans with a strong first place finish with 30 or more percent of the vote.  That would have changed the entire storyline coming out of Iowa.  Instead of Rick Santorum being the main focus of the results, the real headline would have been that Mitt Romney finally exceeded the 25% ceiling of support that has become his greatest hurdle.  And he would have done so in a state where he was hardly considered a favorite.  Instead, not only did Romney almost lose to someone who was in the single digits a week before the caucuses, he actually won with 6 votes less than he received in 2008 when he came in second to Mike Huckabee.  In 2008, Romney received 25.19% of the Iowa Caucus vote, just about the same as he did this time, but the raw total was 30,021 votes.  In yesterday’ s caucus Romney won with 30, 015 votes.

Given that this was Romney’s second time around and he actually lost support, last night was really  not a win for him.  In the end, all that Iowa did for Romney was confirm that Republicans are still not excited about him and would like a better candidate.

So the race goes on and Romney is poised to become the first non-incumbent Republican presidential candidate to ‘technically’ win Iowa and New Hampshire.  The problem is that between the reality of his poor showing in Iowa relative to Rick Santorum’s near defeat of him, and  Romney’s win in new Hampshire being considered a given, those victories may not provide Mitt with the momentum he needs to assure himself of a win in South Carolina where Mitt may find himself either in his last stand or finally on course to winning the nomination.

Newt Gingrich, who currently leads in New Hampshire has been trying to build a firewall in South Carolina in the hope of finally establishing himself as the alternative to Romney.  And Newt is looking for a fight with Mitt and is ready to provide him with some payback for all the negative ads that he believes Romney is behind.

Then there is Rick Perry.

Perry had time to sleep on his fifth place finish in Iowa and while he headed to bed with thoughts of ending his campaign dancing in his head, he woke up ready to fight and even Tweeted a battle cry that declared he is moving on to the Palmetto State.

And not to be Rick-rolled will be the other Rick, Rick Santorum, the new great conservative hope.

If Santorum can run strong enough in South Carolina to prevent Perry and Gingrich from getting out of the single digits or mid teens, at least one of the two will drop out and give Santorum the opportunity to bring their numbers in to his vote totals in the Florida primary which immediately follows South Carolina.

As for Ron Paul, given how far out of the mainstream his national security policies are and given his lack of  legislative accomplishments in almost two decades in Congress, in order for him to have a major impact on future primary nomination contests, he needed a big win in Iowa.  Add to that the buzz about polls which showed him actually in first place over the course of the weekend prior to the Caucus, and what you have is a candidate who failed to live up to expectations, and failed to meet a level of support that would have helped him overcome his perceived electability problems.  Although Ron Paul ran well and his strong showing can not be denied, it was not strong enough to help him gain the type of traction that he needs.   As a result, Ron Paul’s 22% percent in Iowa was probably his high watermark and from here on out, while he will remain a presence in the race, his impact on it will be about as significant as it was in his previous two runs for President.

Meanwhile the immediate effects of Iowa are apparent.

Since last night, interest in Santorum reached such heights that his website crashed and he collected $1 million in donations.   That is a good indication of just how his strong showing in Iowa has indeed provided him with the opportunity to become the real viable alternative to Romney that many have been looking for.

Another good sign for Santorum is that several national evangelical leaders have decided to get together and determine which of the remaining candidates they can all get behind in an attempt to be certain that Romney is denied the Republican nomination.  Given the circumstances, at the moment, Santorum would seem to be the most likely beneficiary of such an alliance.

At the moment I am not sure what will happen.  I have a feeling that while Rick Santorum may now be considered the Great Conservative Hope, he will ultimately be like another great hope……Duane Bobick, the 197o’s boxing star who was jokingly refered to as the “Great White Hope”.   Back in 1977, the biggest sporting event of the year became a much anticipated match between Bobick and future legend Ken Norton.  Bobick had a a 38-0 record with 32 KO’s and when he entered the ring with Norton, millions were anticipating an epic fight between two extraordinary athletes.   Less than 40 seconds in to the first round, Norton landed  an overhand right to Bobick’s throat and after just one minute into the fight Bobick was counted out.  A large part of me believes that this is Romney’s nomination and that Santorum will be the Duane Bobick of presidential politics.

Romney is still best poised to lock up the nomination soon after Florida.  However; if the inevitability of a Romney candidacy becomes so obvious, and triggers the far right base of the G.O.P. to finally unite behind one candidate in an attempt to stop Romney, this could be either a long, drawn out battle or a quick turning of the tables.  My biggest fear is that if conservatives really can not accept Mitt Romney and do not settle on who his one opponent should be, we could just find ourselves with the first brokered convention since 1976.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Santorum’s words, Game on!

Iowa’s King Predicts a Third Place Finish for Gingrich

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Iowa” – A great tradition in its finest form, but not the decisive point many believe

The waiting is finally over, the first real election day of the 2012 campaign, kicks off in the U.S. State of Iowa this evening, with the latest polls still showing some 41% of caucus going Republicans no closer to a decision on who to support, then they were six months ago. One thing is certain, they will arrive at their decision at one of 1,774 GOP precinct caucuses shortly after 7 p.m. EST this evening.

The settled top three candidates by most polls appears to be Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and the grandstand finisher, former Senator Rick Santorum making up the top three. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich who has been the target of almost $3 million of negative advertising by Ron Paul and the Mitt Romney affiliated Super Pac groups has seen his support in the polls plummet.

A number of different pundits have been casting their varying opinions over what the outcome will mean for the GOP candidates and the GOP race as a whole post Iowa. Iowa matters not so much in terms of who wins, but it does matter in terms of who loses and campaign finance. Iowa is a launching pad, but is not the finishing point and people need to keep that fact in perspective. The media presence alone in Iowa tells you it does matter and positive or negative reporting can benefit or hurt candidates is equal measure.

Credit should go to Senator Santorum who has practically lived in Iowa with his family for the last three months, travelling around in a pick up truck visiting all 99 counties and shaking hands. There is no doubt that his commitment to the state and his social conservative values has resulted in him gaining the evangelical support in the closing week. Santorum will receive a vital and much needed financial boost ahead of the three remaining January primaries.

In truth however, the GOP race is really about three candidates, Mitt Romney the millionaire former Governor from Massachusetts, former speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Governor Rick Perry. Romney and his campaign team have been very effective at dealing Gingrich a major blow in Iowa, but Iowa was always an aspirational rather than a likely victory for Gingrich. Gingrich really must win in South Carolina where Romney will do well to place third. The real driver of this GOP race will be decided in Florida and who goes forward thereafter.

Iowa & New Hampshire have great traditions, the other candidates whether it is financial constraints, poor strategy or eccentric policy positions will not be electable in the long run. The Republican race will essentially be Romney against the conservative candidate who will either be Gingrich or Santorum come the party convention in Tampa, Florida, come August.

Contrary to popular opinion, I still believe Texas Governor Rick Perry could emerge to be the biggest threat to Romney for a number of reasons. He is a proven traditional conservative in his values, he can attract large financial support to prolong his campaign where other candidates will struggle and above all, he has a very successful record of governing.

Former Governor Romney clearly has been the establishment pick for the nomination and pollsters will try their level best to convince you, that he is the only candidate capable of beating President Obama. I do not concur with that opinion; I believe there are five candidates out of the remaining seven on substantive policy issues that could beat President Obama. My over riding concern with Mitt Romney is that he simply doesn’t like to be challenged and will fall apart under a relentless barrage from the Obama campaign. Romney hasn’t been challenged yet and if he does come under any real sustained attack, I believe he will crumble.

The Obama team have spent considerable time and money expecting a likely Romney win and an early Romney victory in the GOP primary campaign will assist the Democrats and hurt the Republicans in the general election. The longer the primary campaign goes on and the more, all the candidates are tested on their positions and policies in a meaningful and constructive way, the better it will be for party and country. America needs candidates who have a vision with the ideas, solutions and leadership to restore it to greatness. It doesn’t need another election delivered on sound bites and expensive media buys, substance has got to be the issue.

Iowa does matter because it will reduce the size of the field in a matter of weeks however, more importantly, it will also leave less places for those remaining to hide away from their records and policy positions.

I love the tradition of Iowa and all it offers presidential politics however, we must get it into the right perspective, it is not a decisive part of the election race, it is not the end all or be all that some commentators try to portray it as, there are still 49 state races to follow.

Iowa plays host in its finest traditions to the real presidential politicking we all crave, and what it does deliver is a whittling down of the field. The whittling down of the field in this election year is unlike elections will be crucial, as the focus has to be on policy and not personality going forward.

The Republican Party can only win the 2012 election by selling a vision with ideas and solutions to the American people. If the candidates and party make it about personalities in the primaries or general election then they are certain to lose.

Observers should be aware that with the revised primary calendar and changed party rules, the race for 2012 could well be much longer and less predictable then many people and commentators believe.

As I Asked Before, Does It Make Sense to Endorse the People You Want to Run Against?

Bookmark and Share    Last week I was criticized for criticizing now former Republican presidential candidate Gary Johnson for endorsing Ron Paul for the Republican presidential nomination while at the same time seeking the Libertarian presidential nomination.  I made a bit of a stink about the stupidity of endorsing the candidacy of someone who you intend to oppose.

As it turned out, when Johnson made it official that he was changing his Party registration from Republican to Libertarian, dropping his bid for the G.O.P. presidential nomination, and seeking the Libertarian Party’s nomination, he did not come right out and endorse Ron Paul.  That made sense.

However, this week, one day before the Iowa Caucuses, Gary Johnson lived up to expectations and came out with the following statement.

“While Ron Paul and I are both libertarians, we don’t necessarily agree on every single issue.

However, on the overriding issues of restoring our economy by cutting out-of-control spending and the need to get back to Constitutional principles in our government, Ron Paul and I are in lock-step.”

….I am hopeful that in urging my supporters in Iowa to vote for Ron Paul in the coming caucuses, a victory for the principles we share can be won.”

Thank you Gary Johnson.

Thanks for redeeming me and my previous post on this topic.  You have helped make my questions more relevant than ever and it is my greatest hope that you will in eventually  decide whether you want to be President or whether you want Ron Paul to be President. Once you make that decision, maybe you will finally be able to do a little good for either yourself or Ron Paul.  Until then you are  just being a fool and playing us for fools.

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Iowa’s Mold Breaker Might Matter

We are discovering the 2012 election cycle dynamic every day.  One thing we have learned already is that things that didn’t matter last week are crucial this week.  The thing we are learning this past week is that money matters, as Mitt Romney surrogates bought waves of negative airtime, Ron Paul bought Michele Bachmann’s Iowa campaign chairman, and Newt suddenly began to realize what a nice thing it would be to have campaign staffs, ground crews, or even counter advertising money.

To Huntsman’s dismay, we may be discovering that Iowa matters.  Let me put it this way.  If Newt Gingrich wins Iowa, it doesn’t really matter.  If Santorum wins Iowa, it will give him some false momentum but Iowa alone won’t matter.  If Bachmann wins Iowa, we will all drop our jaw and then move on with the real race.  If Paul wins Iowa, mainstream Republicans will spend the next few days complaining about how he did his usual ballot stuffing tricks, but then move on.

However, if Mitt Romney wins Iowa, that will be huge.  Iowa has typically stuck to mainstream, evangelical, more conservative than moderate candidates.  Iowa has granted hope to Mike Huckabee in recent years, and Michele Bachmann this year.  Now, with Mitt Romney leading in the polls, it appears that more conservative, evangelical voters are accepting that Romney will win the nomination.  In fact, in this case I wonder what type of dynamic Ron Paul is attributing to Romney’s rise.  Are Iowans viewing Gingrich, Perry and now even Santorum as third party spoilers?

I think with the Iowa dynamic, voters may actually prefer Santorum in the current field.  Instead, it appears that Iowa may end up being about who can beat Barack Obama, or more immediately, who can beat Ron Paul.  At any rate, if Mitt Romney wins, Iowa matters.  As McCain proved in 2008, voting for a candidate primarily because of electability is a tough paradigm to crack once it is set.

One thing is for sure.  If Romney does win in Iowa, Newt is dreaming if he thinks he can turn everything around in New Hampshire.

And the Winner of the Iowa Caucus is……….

Romney and Santorum may surprise all with a first and second place finish, respectively, but South Carolina will be the real winner of the Iowa Caucuses.

Bookmark and Share I am predicting that Mitt Romney will in Iowa and it will go a long way in establishing a sense of inevitability that will help him wrap up the nomination sooner than later.   However; unless Romney racks up a win with 30 or more percent, the results will not matter a great deal and in the end, the real winner will be South Carolina.

Iowa’s caucus history shows that the winners of their nominating contests do not usually go on to become the nominee and President.  More often than not, Iowa caucus voters seem more intent on sending a message to the establishment than sending a nominee to the White House.  This time may be different in the sense that Iowa Republicans may believe that their support for most of the existing candidates will not send any strong message and that Ron Paul, the only candidate for whom a protest vote for would send a clear message, is not in any way a responsible and realistically, viable candidate.   As it is, most Iowa Republicans do not support Ron Paul.  His perceived success in the state so far is due mainly to the Independent and Democrats who are allowed to vote in the caucuses if they change their Party affiliation.

This is something which Paulbots have been planning on taking advantage for a very long time and they are doing a good job at it.

But not good enough.

In the end I believe that between all the back and forth of frontrunner status for one candidate or another, Mitt Romney who has been consistently at the top of the polls in Iowa and who has the strongest organization of all the candidates in the state, will benefit from a social conservative and evangelical vote that is sharply divided between at least four candidates, and from his perceived electability against Barack Obama.  These factors will allow Romney to win the caucus, but unless he wins by an overwhelming amount, it will not do much to help him convince people that he will definitely be the nominee.  That job will be left up to South Carolina, which will actually be the big winner coming out of Iowa.

Everyone knows that Romney will win New Hampshire, so there is little suspense there.  That leaves South Carolina which follows the Live Free or Die State, as the most pivotal of all the early state contests and the greatest beneficiary of the results in Iowa.

It is where Newt Gingrich has been trying to build a firewall and hoping to establish himself as either the frontrunner or the only real viable alternative to Mitt Romney.

South Carolina is also a prelude to the Florida and the momentum provided to the candidate who wins in South Carolina will go a long way in helping that candidate’s chances of winning in the Sunshine State’s primary. 

Even in the unlikely event that Romney blew out all his rivals with a win of  30% or more,  South Carolina will still be an early contest that either solidifies Romney’s lock on the nomination or gives someone else the opportunity to be Romney’s true chief rival as the race moves forward.

These are just simple facts which will not be changed by any result that Iowa produces.  If Senator Rick Santorum happened to pull off a Huckabee-like, 2008, come-from-behind victory, Romney will still dominate in the New Hampshire primary and South Carolina will still host the contest that play a somewhat more decisive role than either New Hampshire or Iowa.

When all is said and done, Iowa will serve one chief purpose.  It will help weed out the field of candidates.  It will help to begin sealing the deal for several of the lower tier candidates, especially Rick Perry.  But even in that capacity, Iowa is not likely to end anyone’s candidacy.  Once again, that mission will be accomplished in South Carolina.

That said, in the tradition of making predictions as one year ends and a new one begins, while I hold true to the belief that Iowa will really only matter if Romney comes in anywhere under third pace, or wins with a large plurality, I also believe that the candidates will finish as follows:

  1. Mitt Romney – 26%
  2. Rick Santorum -21%
  3. Ron Paul – 17%
  4. Newt Gingrich -16%
  5. Rick Perry – 11%
  6. Michele Bachmann – 7%
  7. Jon Huntsman – 2%

I am quite uncertain about those totals, but very confident in the order of each candidate’s placement.

These results will produce several storylines coming out of Iowa.  One will be about whether of not Mitt Romney has a lock on the nomination as he is now on a path to becoming the first non-incumbent Republican presidential candidate to sweep both Iowa and New Hampshire?  The other story will be is Rick Santorum, the new Mike Huckabee and can he translate his strong Iowa showing into a victory elsewhere? 

The other stories that will provide the filler for 24 hour cable news programs, will be can Newt comeback “in South Carolina”? What happened to Ron Paul’s surge? And is this the end for Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann?

The answer to all these questions will be determined by the state which I argue will be the ultimate winner in the Iowa Caucuses…..South Carolina.

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If It Were Up To Republicans, Ron Paul Would Still Be a Second Tier Candidate

Bookmark and Share   Ron Paul’s recent surge to the front of the pack certainly makes this an exciting time for those who subscribe to his rhetoric and feel that his lack of actual accomplishments makes him an ideal President.  It’s also an exciting time for those who are simply fed up and looking for a way to register a significant protest vote against the system ans politics in general.  But for true conservative Republicans, Paul’s rise in recent Iowa polling is little more than a means of assuring the reelection of President Barack Obama and if left up to them, Ron Paul would still be lumped together with names like Jon Huntsman, Buddy Roemer, and Michele Bachmann in the bottom third of the Republican presidential field.

However, in states like Iowa, and even New Hampshire, the Republican presidential nominee is not chosen just by Republicans.

According to state Party rules governing the Iowa Caucus and several other state nominating contests, only registered Republicans in the state of Iowa can participate in the Republican caucus but individuals registered as Independents or affiliated with other parties, may switch their Party affiliation at the caucus site and cast their vote for the Republican candidate of their choice.  In other words, a non-affiliated voter or a liberal Democrat can walk in out of the snow, change their Party registration,  and vote for Ron Paul.

For some, the opportunity for people of any political affiliation to vote in a partisan primary or caucus is a good thing, and seems logical, but as a proud partisan conservative Republican, I can tell you that it is not.

For the record, while I am an American first and foremost, I must admit that I am a proud and devout, partisan conservative Republican.  My committment to the Party is based on ideology, and I am often not the most politically popular person in the Party because I am often at at odds with many of  its leaders who I believe spend most of their time playing politics and forsaking our conservative based ideology for political expediency.

That stated, I defend my ideological partisanship on the grounds that it is my deep conviction that ultimately, the conservative-Republican ideology is the best thing for America.  So my political partisanship goes hand in hand with my love of country and I do not separate the two.  That’s why I have never supported so-called open primary or caucus contests that allow people of opposing ideologies to choose the nominee that represents  my beliefs and Party.

The way I see it, as a conservative, why should I have the ability to pick the liberal nominee?  If  I had the chance to do that in 2008, I would have done my best to make sure that Dennis Kucinich won the Democratic presidential nomination for President.  Kucinich would have been a sure loser for liberals.

I am of the opinion that if Republicans and Democrats, or for that matter Libertarians, are to nominate the candidate that best represents their beliefs and can be the strongest one to represent their Party, then those who subscribe to the ideologies represented by those parties should be responsible for deciding who represents that Party.  In some ways, these open contests make about as much sense as us opening up the general presidential election to the citizens of other nations.  Which by the way, is not so unfathomable when you consider the lengths to which Democrats are trying to go  in with legislative initiatives designed at specifically making  it possible for illegal immigrants to vote.

Now some of you may be saying that I am blowing this all out of proportion.  Some may even suggest that crediting Ron Paul’s predicted success in Iowa to the opportunity for independents and Democrats to vote in their Caucus is overstated.  To them I must ask…………are you that stupid!!?

One need not look very hard to find that my assertion about the effect of independents and Democrats is true.

A recent American Research Group poll of  Iowa voters makes the case that if left up to Republicans, Ron Paul would not be a real contender.

According to ARG, among Republicans who intend to vote in the Iowa Caucus, Mitt Romney leads with 23% and he is followed by Newt Gingrich who comes in at 19%.

As for Ron Paul, strictly among Republicans, he pulls 12% of the vote which leaves him tied with Rick Santorum.

Among Republicans:

  • Mitt Romney 23%
  • Newt Gingrich 19%
  • Rick Santorum 12%
  • Ron Paul 12%
  • Michele Bachmann 9%
  • Rick Perry 8%
  • Jon Huntsman 6%
  • Buddy Roemer 1%
  • Other 1%
  • Undecided 9%

In the same poll, a deeper look at Iowa Republicans that breaks them down along TEA Party lines finds that Ron Paul does a little better among those voters most focussed on a limited and more constitutional government but not by much.   Ron Paul receives a 16% share of the vote from them,  but that is 9% behind Gingrich and 10% behind Mitt Romney.

Among Tea Party Supporters

  • Mitt Romney 26%
  • Newt Gingrich 25%
  • Ron Paul 16%
  • Michele Bachmann 10%
  • Rick Perry 9%
  • Rick Santorum 7%
  • Jon Huntsman 0%
  • Buddy Roemer 0%
  • Other 0%
  • Undecided 7%

In fact, the only segment of Iowa residents who Ron Paul gets a majority of the vote from in the “Republican” Iowa Caucus are Independents.  Among them, Paul polls 30% of the vote, 8% more than Romney, and 18% more than Newt Gingrich.

Among Independents

  • Ron Paul 30%
  • Mitt Romney 22%
  • Newt Gingrich 12%
  • Rick Perry 11%
  • Michele Bachmann 6%
  • Rick Santorum 6%
  • Jon Huntsman 6%
  • Buddy Roemer 0%
  • Other 1%
  • Undecided 9%

If that is not enough to convince you of the undue influence that non-Republican entities are having on the Republican Caucus in Iowa, maybe you will believe it coming from Ron Paul’s own people?

Back in March of 2011, the hero worshippers behind the propaganda based website entitled The Daily Paul, posted a call to arms entitled “2012 Open Primary States: The key to Ron Paul’s Republican Nomination”.  It basically calls upon Pauliacs to sabotage the Republican nomination process and steal the nomination from the Party by asking Democrats and Independents to flood the primaries and caucuses of the 17 specific states that have open primaries which allow Democrats and Independents to vote without even having to register as a Republican.

The article reads;

“We must organize and put the strongest efforts in these states to encourage Democrats and Independents to vote for Ron Paul and capture all the Delegates of these Open Republican Primary States”

By the count of the author behind the plot, winning those states would give Ron Paul 874 of the 1,212 delegates needed to win the Republican nomination.

Fortunately for rational conservatives though, not only is that a substantial number short of the delegates needed, most of the states do not have election laws that allow for opposing parties to easily and blatantly circumvent the democratic process in the general election by sabotaging a Party’s nomination process and leaving them with a nominee who is the weakest possible candidate they could have representing them.

Additional good fortune is the fact that Iowa is one of the few state’s that Ron Paul is actually doing that well in.  Nationally, Ron Paul’s average standing in the polls is half that of Romney and less than half that of Newt Gingrich.  While national polls do not mean much to a process that is based on the collective results of individual state contests, that national average does accurately reflect most state polls.

In the final analysis, while excitement erupts about Ron Paul rising to the top, the truth is that such excitement is based on a lack of any real depth of truth, and thankfully, it is the G.O.P. which will still determine their own nominee.  Even so, I still think it is about time that state parties and their representatives rethink their willingness to allow the political opposition to influence who our own Party’s nominees are.

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The GOP candidates are simply failing to cut the mustard

The Iowa Caucus is less than a week away now and the GOP has another contender surging in the polls in the shape of former Senator Rick Santorum. A CNN Poll released yesterday showed Santorum at 16 percent in Iowa, which currently would place him third with former speaker Newt Gingrich now placed fourth with 14%.

Although Iowa holds considerable tradition in American presidential elections, the fact is only 119,000 voters will take part in the caucus next Tuesday. The GOP race has been in truth too topsy-turvy over the last year to seriously worry the Obama campaign machine entering into 2011.

The mainstream media has done an excellent job at picking off the declared GOP candidates one by one most recently, Newt Gingrich and by the look of things Ron Paul is likely to join the ranks of the chastised and demonised before the week end. The traditional conservative news channel Fox News has clearly being touting for Romney subtlety since Gingrich hit the front in the polls. The punditry of Dick Morris who had lent advice to Romney and his campaign is neither impartial nor objective in its content. Morris should take his famous dog “Dubs” out for a long walk if his commentary can’t be objective. He wants Romney to win that fact is clear for all to see.

Most of the GOP candidates are hoping a strong showing will propel them into top tier status and improve their chances in New Hampshire, which votes Jan. 10, and in other early voting states. Only 5 percent of Iowa’s electorate is Hispanic and only 3 percent is black, compared with a national electorate that is 16 percent Hispanic and 12 percent black. I believe this year is different, I believe due to the shifting dates in the caucus and early primary races this year, the real battle and potential winners will only emerge when Super Tuesday occurs on March 6, 2012.

The challenge for the GOP candidates is to try and raise enough finance, to stay in the race until then and hone their messaging. I believe former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman has been the cleverest politician in the GOP field, not squandering money or time on what essentially is, a tiny proportion of overall voters. He has focussed his efforts on New Hampshire, which I believe, has been the most prudent ad effective decision made by any GOP candidate to date.

It is good to see Santorum finally making a surge, he must be credited for the huge effort he has put into the state of Iowa and due to his socially conservative values, and it was a good decision strategically too. He couldn’t hope to compete with some of the other candidates financially or in terms of media coverage, he has adopted the retail politics approach holding over 350 town halls meetings and is now reaping the rewards. Santorum was the first candidate to visit all 99 counties, garnering solid support throughout the state. I like Santorum however, he will come under much more scrutiny then he has been used to up to now. Santorum is clear where he stands on Iran and traditional value’s but his economic policies and vision are less specific and detailed.

While Santorum’s rise is positive for the GOP field, Ron Paul’s high standing and foreign policy stance has to worry republicans and surely, they recognise the damage it is doing from a credibility viewpoint?

The truth about the field is that it simply isn’t dynamic enough. No candidate has stepped up to the challenge of proving themselves to be durable enough to take on President Obama in the General election. I had hoped former speaker Gingrich would’ve demonstrated some of his old fashioned fighting spirit, to fend of the attacks. He has tried to stay positive however, Gingrich, just didn’t lay the foundations required in each early state, to enable his to focus his efforts in fighting off the attacks mostly from fellow conservatives and republicans.

Romney in my view hasn’t been tested yet. Sure he’ll put up a good campaign if nominated, but can Romney really inspire? I simply don’t believe he can energise voters in the manner required to beat President Obama in 2012.

The lesson of 2011 has been that the GOP field have failed to distinguish themselves enough, so as to be identified as the natural alternative to President Obama. There has been a series of blunders, scandals, faux pas’s and favouritism evident in the GOP race thus far, which simply has left voters and supporters without the required inspiration or passion.

The result has been a Gallup poll showing President Obama getting 46 percent approval rating from American adults. This is the highest rating he has achieved since July. It is unimaginable that an incumbent president with such a disastrous economic record, polarising approach and arrogant enough, to compare himself above other brilliant presidents like Truman, Jackson & Coolridge appears on course for re-election.

Unfortunately, the cost of ignoring the president’s economic performance may prove too much, five years from now for Americans.  Surely there has to be a Republican somewhere out there prepared to step up and challenge the president who is capable of earning the confidence and support of the electorate. A disappointing end to the year for republican supporters and it is hard to see anything else but an Obama re-election come November 2012 unless there is a major shift in messaging.

The Fox News GOP debate analysis

Newt Gingrich entered last night’s Fox News debate in Sioux City, Iowa, with a political target on his back, as Mitt Romney and the rest of the Republican presidential candidates looked to challenge his front-runner status ahead of the Iowa Caucuses. In a week that has seen unacceptable attacks from a bygone era from the likes of Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, Gingrich, vowed to stay to stay positive. My big fear before the debate was that the Republican candidates would have done so much damage in their primary campaign that any hopes of beating President Obama would be all but disappeared before 2012 had even begun. 

The moderators were Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier, Chris Wallace and Neil Cavuto and they put forward good strong questions and weren’t afraid to challenge the candidates. I was especially pleased to hear a question on the Fast and the furious being placed, as it is a topic certain to raise its head during the general election.

WINNERS

Newt Gingrich

Speaker Gingrich was definitely looking for a big performance on the night to compliment his new found front runner status. Gingrich did receive some tough questioning especially from Michele Bachmann over his involvement with Freddie Mac. Overall though, Newt as in all the previous debates, was the most substantive on policy and tried his best to stay focussed on the policy aspect on the night. He added humour into his responses saying he didn’t want to be viewed as overly critically, so he was standing there editing before responding to a question about President Obama and the Keystone pipeline, he even poked fun at recent critiques of his “zany” reputation. Gingrich delivered a powerful condemnation of President Obama campaigning instead of passing the approval for the Keystone pipeline. One thing I noticed was that while Bachmann was quick to attack Newt at every opportunity, Bachmann on more then one occasion deferred to Gingrich’s response and threw some additional commentary to attempt to build up her response in some instances. Gingrich demonstrated with ease that he has the solid base of policy and in particular foreign policy, that no other candidate can match. Overall a good, solid, winning performance by former speaker Gingrich and after a week where the GOP party machine and many other Republican Super Pac’s, have been running a hard hitting campaign against him.

The two biggest issues of clarification for me on the night were that he possesses the policies to beat President Obama and the toughness to face the attacks that would come in a general election campaign. Newt is tough and in my view, has demonstrated that he desperately wants people’s votes and to challenge President Obama.

Rick Santorum

Contrary to many media commentators, I believe former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum did himself a world of good during last nights debate. While he wasn’t as outlandishly aggressive like Bachmann, he again highlighted his efforts in Iowa. He emphasised the need to restore American manufacturing jobs and gave a very good answer on the Iranian issue, again clashing with Ron Paul. The one thing I think Santorum managed to do very subtlety last night was position himself as the strong social conservative to the Iowa voters. The conservative voters of Iowa will have noticed his performance to their satisfaction even if, the mass media didn’t pick up on it. I thought it was Santorum’s best debate night without appearing desperate as Bachmann did. Should he get a decent result and surprise a few people in Iowa. An area Santorum will need some stronger selling points on is job creation and the economy, if he is to make an impact in later states.

Mitt Romney

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney appeared to heed the general consensus before the debate, that he needed to move away from his ill advised and much publicised attacks in particular against Newt Gingrich. I was extremely surprised to hear in the post debate summary on Fox News that Frank Luntz and Hannity, thought he won the debate. I thought to myself, what! I must have been watching a different debate. Romney’s performance was safe; he managed to provide some good substantive answers on the economy and did well in explaining his role with Bain Capital. Romney was presidential in his delivery, but yet again, almost tripped up in the debate on foreign policy. Like Gingrich, Romney focussed his attacks on President Obama to good effect saying, if he is elected president this century will be an American century, not a Chinese century. Romney explained the narrative about working with an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature in Massachusetts, which was effective to a watching audience.

In my humble opinion, not his best debate performance but a comfortable one nonetheless. My concern with Romney is that he will look like a Republican, but sound too much like a Democrat in a general election match-up against President Obama. I’m yet to be convinced of his ability to take on the Obama campaign machine and win. Romney is too prickly in my view to take the harsh attacks that will inevitably come in a general election campaign.

Rick Perry

The Texas Governor had a relatively quiet first half of the debate until a question by Neil Cavuto brought him to life on his debating skills. I loved the way he put humour but a level of seriousness into his reply saying he would even turn up early to debate President Obama. He did well attacking Gingrich over his perceived inability to distinguish between a lobbyist and a consultant.” An interesting if somewhat equally confusing statement was when he compared himself to Denver bronco’s Quarterback Tim Tebow. The point he was trying to make essentially was he is now an underdog candidate but can mount a comeback against the odds like Tebow. Perry has restored some credibility to his challenge and his call for a part-time Congress is starting to catch some people’s attention. If Perry can finish in the top four in Iowa and with his recent renewed confidence, he could challenge in South Carolina and Florida in a serious way. Perry is starting to show he is resilient and prepared to fight his way back into contention.

Losers

Michele Bachmann

I’ll give Congresswoman Bachmann credit for her gutsy and aggressive performance last night. She took every opportunity to try and steal the limelight but over cooked her fine start by trying to hit Gingrich again on his record with Planned Parenthood. She sounded like a moaning child in a playground saying she’s serious candidate, the mere fact she used that statement immediately made the point that actually, although she’s a serious politician, her day and chances of winning in Iowa are all but gone. I highlighted how she would default to Gingrich’s answer when it appeared to anyone watching, that the question she was asked, stumped her slightly. My point here is, you cannot attack a candidate constantly and when it suits you for playing it safe purposes, defer to their answer as the authoritative response if you want to be president. I did enjoy her tussle with Ron Paul on his position in Iran. Surprisingly she didn’t use the Newt Romney line which has been so effective in the previous debate. Gingrich was clever mentioning her statements as being often factually incorrect, a simple yet effective rebuttal, as it is a charge she has often been accused of in the past. Overall, I credit her for her effort but she over played her hand somewhat and were noticeably exposed in some of her response. An “A” for effort though, but a case of too little, too late.

Ron Paul

As always Ron Paul supporters packed the auditorium and were their usual vocal selves. Paul was energised, direct and articulate in most of his responses and he is clearly enjoying his moment as serious contender for winning the Iowa caucus. Paul as always was consistent, repeated his commitment to cutting $1 trillion from the budget. He looked and acted like a frontrunner however, his isolationist stance on Iran hurt him badly again last night. Only if Paul could find a way of shifting his position on Iran slightly he would have much greater broad appeal but as we witnessed during Bachmann’s brutal and most powerful attack, his foreign policy makes him frankly unelectable in a general election. Paul will have a good result in Iowa no doubt largely due to his organisation and supporters however; he simply isn’t electable with his stance on Iran. Paul got hit hard in the post-debate conversation with Sean Hannity over his Newsletter and he was visibly rattled and agitated by Hannity. I don’t expect to see him appearing anytime soon on the Hannity show.

Jon Huntsman

I have a simple statement here, would the real Jon Huntsman stand up. If anyone watched the debate between himself and Gingrich earlier in the week they will see he was simply brilliant. Last night it was a train wreck, simple. Huntsman’s attempts at humour and using young language such as “we are getting screwed as Americans” fell flat. He didn’t make an impression with any of his answers and seemed too laid back and without any real sense of passion throughout. A very disappointing performance and ironically, he probably did himself some harm in New Hampshire too, where he was starting to make some recent gains.

Summary

Overall, the lesson from the night was the fact that perhaps it was the first night where the GOP candidates are starting to cause damage to President Obama and gain interest from the larger electorate. A promising night for the party and something to certainly start the Obama campaign machine to stop taking re-election as guaranteed.

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