Review of the CNN GOP debate from across the Big Pond

Last evenings CNN Republican Candidate debate was moderated by Wolf Blitzer, regular host of the Situation room.  This debate, co-hosted in Washington, D.C., by the Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute, focussed on four main issues — national defense, the economy, international relations, and terrorism issues and lasted two hours in total and marked the 11th GOP debate of the election season.

The evening was introduced with an introduction highlighting National Security to any president as being the most important and daunting responsibility. CNN showed some footage of major security issues from previous presidencies which put the evening and topic very much into context.

The questions varied on content and context but consisted of the following:

Question1 – Focussed on there being 42 attempted terrorist attacks on the USA since 9/11.

Question 2 – The use of drones and efforts in Pakistan to defeat Al-Qaeda.

Question 3 – The cost to the US for its involvement in Afghanistan and was US involvement to prevent a terror safe haven worth it.

Question 4 – Should Israel be attacked by Iran, would the candidates support/help Israel in their efforts.

Question 5 – Focussed on the effect of sanctions in stopping Iran getting a nuclear bomb.

Question 6 – Focussed on development assistance for poor countries and economic development.

Question 7 – Focussed on spending and cuts to the military budget.

Question 8 – Focussed on the failure of the Super Committee and the $600 billion cuts.

Question 9 – The issue of the massive deficit the nation is facing and entitlement reform.

Question 10 – Focussed on the Mexico border and on how to stop the Mexican drug cartels.

Question 11 – Focussed on the need for High Skill immigration and immigration assistance for high skilled workers

Question 12 – Focussed on the violence of Syria and the impact on US allies in the region.

Question 13 – How to deal with Al-Shabab (Al-Qaeda)

Question 14 – The last question focussed on the one unexpected thing that could happen as president and what issue do the candidates worry about.

I’ve summarised the candidate’s responses and ranked them in order of how I believe they performed on the night.

1 – Newt Gingrich

Gingrich had the first question directed at him and drew the distinction between homeland terrorism and foreign threats and stated, he would not change the Patriot Act but would in fact enhance its powers. Gingrich responded citing the example of Timothy McVeigh as to why, he wanted powers to protect Americans in his response to Ron Paul’s view.

On the issue of Afghanistan, Newt put the questions into context stating,” We should start with Pakistan”. He used the killing of Osama Bin Laden as a reason why the US should be furious with Pakistan. He suggested some alterations and to pursue the fight intensively.

On Iran, Gingrich said the first efforts in dealing with Iran should be made at home in building US energy resources to reduce the impact of any sanctions against Iran. He called for a much strategic approach in dealing with Iran.

On the issue of spending and military cuts, Gingrich replied that there were things we could be better and invoked the memory of American efforts to win previous wars, and said the US could open up oil reserves within a year, and just get the job done and make the Millennium challenge work.

Gingrich commenting on the massive structural deficit referenced his own proposals and used Chile as an example of a model, which, he would use for the US to bring down the entitlement spending.

On the immigration issue, Gingrich called for the issuance of visa’s for highly qualified students to encourage them to stay in the US. He called for a comprehensive approach starting with border control, a visa program and a review of current illegals. Gingrich provided an excellent answer saying the party of the family should not force or break up long established families.

Gingrich said the three biggest threats were a dirty bomb in a major city, an electro magnetic pulse and cyber attacks in the unexpected area.

Assessment

Gingrich won the night again despite sticking his neck out on the Immigration issue which he managed to do in a very eloquent manner. He is realistic and practical on the issue, there is no chance the estimated 11 million illegal’s in the United States will ever be deported. It needs to be dealt with as part of a big package of measures. His assessment for future unexpected threats though was also brilliant.

2-      Jon Huntsman

Huntsman said the Homeland couldn’t be secured out of Washington D.C. but required a collaborative and national approach.

Huntsman opened the account on the second question, saying Washington needs to be fixed before the US turns its attention to foreign nations, but called Pakistan a nation waiting to fail and the US should not be nation building in Afghanistan.

Huntsman disagreed with Romney’s viewpoint and called for an honest conversation and called for a reduction in the 100,000 troops and focus on special-forces presence and the use of drones in Afghanistan.

On the issue of spending and military spending, Huntsman said the first issue needing attention was a deficit in trust among the people in the nation. He called for spending for defence to follow a determined strategy and must be driven by economic policy.

Huntsman responded to a Twitter question regarding the Arab Spring saying, history will tell going on to say the US missed the Persian Spring and reminded all that Israel is a friendly ally. He said sanctions won’t work because China and Russia won’t co-operate.

Huntsman said the biggest unexpected threat was joblessness in America and it needed to be dealt with.

Assessment

The best debate performance by Huntsman to date and I have him tied with Gingrich on the night. He nearly dealt Romney a fatal blow in their heated exchange and Romney was saved by Wolf Blitzer as there is no doubt, had the exchange continued, Huntsman would’ve exposed Romney.

3 – Ron Paul

Rep.Paul disagreed with Gingrich and put forward the view that the Patriot Act is unpatriotic. He asserted his view that you do not have to give up liberty to secure your environment. Santorum’s stance on the use of profiling was attacked by Rep.Paul and said liberties should not be sacrificed because people are suspects.

Unsurprisingly, Rep. Paul said he would not support Israel in any attack on Iran. He said Israeli interests are not US interests and they are capable of looking after themselves. He said the US should be very careful in the nation’s willingness to go to war abroad.

Rep.Paul said he didn’t support financial assistance for foreign development saying it was taking money from the poor in America and giving it to the rich in those countries.

On the Mexico border issue, he called for a cancellation on the war on drugs. Paul went on about eliminating benefits which attracts illegal immigrants.

Rep.Paul in response to the Al-Qaeda threat in the Middle East region he put forward the friendly state policy of non-intervention/retaliation.

Paul said the biggest unexpected threat was an over reaction on the part of the US.

Assessment

Rep.Paul had a very good night and was afforded a lot of time most likely due to his many different views on the issues. As always, Paul talked a lot of sense but his exchange with Gingrich on the Timothy McVeigh exchange damaged him along with his stance on how to deal with Iran. A good night overall though for Paul, ignoring his differing views from the other candidates.

4 – Mitt Romney

The TSA systems was the first question directed towards him which he responded to quickly before shifting back to the terrorist threat and agreed with Speaker Gingrich saying the US needed tools to fight threat both domestic and foreign. He asserted that US involvement should continue and withdrawal gradual based on military advice on the ground.

Romney got engaged with Huntsman in his criticism of Romney’s statement on Afghanistan. He was firm that US involvement in Afghanistan should not be a case of cut and run, the cost was too high.

Romney on the issue of development funding and security and drew the comparison between the trillion dollar cuts from the military as being exactly the amount President Obama needs to fund healthcare. He said Obama was cutting the capacity for America to defend itself. He said Pres. Obama was friendly to America’s foes and disrespectful to its friends and promised Israel would be his first foreign trip.

Romney on the immigration issue called amnesty a magnate and said the US needed to attract highly qualified people. He said the country needed to stop the causes of illegal immigration and for the securing of the border.

On the Al-Qaeda issue and the Middle East again Romney cited Pres. Obama’s appeasement and policy of apology in the region and called for the use of covert action and sanctions in dealing with Syria.

On the threats to the US is Iran, China and the unexpected one is Latin America.

5 – Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann opened her night on the role of Commander in Chief and the technological aspects of the new threats and attacked President Obama on giving up protection for interrogators fighting the threat.

Bachmann called Pakistan the epi-centre of Al-Qaeda and raised the threat about the vulnerability of access to their nuclear facilities. Bachmann said on the issue of cutting funding to Pakistan that she would continue it but demand more for the present time. Bachmann called Perry’s view naïve and said people needed to consider the realities of the nuclear threat on the ground.

Bachmann echoed the other candidate’s views on the Iranian issue and again went after President Obama on his failure to pursue energy independence and reminded the audience that it was Iran threatening Israel back in August not the other way around, calling Obama’s approach in dealing with Iran a doctrine of appeasement.

Bachmann on the issue of deficit reduction went back to her stance from earlier in the year and the raising of the debt ceiling. Bachmann said she would first look to balance the budget then look at paying down the deficit.

Bachmann didn’t agree with Gingrich’s approach on immigration and she then went on to reference Steve Jobs. She said America needed to offer visa’s to worker which the nation needed.

Bachmann said domestic home grown terrorism was the biggest potential threat.

Assessment

Overall, a more assured performance from Bachmann on the night and her insight on intelligence and security issues came to the fore. She did her wavering chances no harm.

6 – Rick Santorum

Santorum opened his account by reasserting his stance on the use of passenger profiling. Santorum also supported the use of the Patriot Act and called for the balancing of interests.

On Afghanistan, Santorum said he agreed with Ron Paul and gave an insight into what Radical Muslim leaders teach their recruits. Santorum said radical Muslim’s tell their members that they only need to out wait American involvement.

Santorum responded first on the issue of development assistance calling it absolutely essential and a key component in national security and called for more efforts and the promotion of key values.

Answering a question on a Ronald Reagan quote of getting 75-80% of what you want, you should accept it and move on. Santorum said it depends on what you get, but you should not undermine the ability of the country to grow for the sake of partisan politics.

Santorum answered the question on high skill immigration and praised the innovation that has been produced in the US by immigrants and said America should continue to be the beacon for such immigrants.

Santorum said he was concerned about Central and South America and the spread of socialism.

Assessment

Santorum always presents himself as very capable and competent. He struggles to get time during any debate, and his exchange with Ron Paul on the profiling of Muslim’s was not authoritative.

7 – Rick Perry

Rick Perry opened his account saying he would privatise the TSA and get rid of the Trade Unions. He returned to the issue of the Patriot Act saying it needed strengthening and cited the current administration a failure in their efforts to develop and gather intelligence around the world.

Governor Perry on the Pakistan issue reasserted his previous viewpoint of not sending any funding to the nation until they demonstrate themselves to be willing partners and not representing American interests.

Perry on the Iran sanctions issue called them the first measure in any fight against Iran and would include Syria in the equation and criticised President Obama for inaction.

On the issue of the super committee failure Perry said it is no surprise to anyone that it failed and said President Obama has been a complete failure on the entire budget process. He said Pres. Obama’s threat of the veto puts American lives at risk and said Leon Panetta should resign in protest. Perry referenced his ten years of bi-partisan working in Texas as proof that both sides can work together.

Perry called for a 21s century Monroe Doctrine to deal with the infiltration of the United States through the Mexican border. He said border security with Mexico was paramount to the security of the Western world and he would put boots on the ground. Perry said the whole issue of the border and immigration could not begin to be tackled until the border is secured, it is a must.

Perry said he supported a No-Fly zone over Syria but it was only one of a number of measures to deal with the problem and if implemented it might encourage others in the military to cross over.

Perry cited China as the biggest oncoming threat to the US national security.

Assessment

Perry had a decent debate but when Michele Bachmann called him naïve, the clip was played on all the major networks following the debate and his call for Leon Panetta to resign in protest was not a good strategic move. It is very hard to see Perry coming back from here.

8 – Herman Cain

Cain when asked on his stance on profiling as proposed by Santorum said he called it target profiling. He said terrorists want to kill all of us and every means possible should be used to prevent attacks. He slipped up calling Wolf “Blitz”, but quickly corrected himself.

Herman Cain answered the Iran/Israel question first and stayed on safe ground referring to the content of any plan as the basis of any decision. Cain responding to Paul said he would support Israel because Iran poses a threat in the region.

On development assistance Cain said it depended on priorities and the success of programmes and said he wanted to see the results before making a decision.

Herman Cain said yes the Mexican border was a threat and outlined reasons why it was a threat. He called for securing the border, enforcing the current laws and promotes the path to citizenship and empowers the states to do what the government can’t deal with themselves.

Cain said he would not support a No-Fly zone over Syria and said he would work with US allies to stop buying oil from Syria.

Cain said Cyber attacks were the biggest area of unexpected concern.

Assessment

Cain was sadly very exposed last night for his lack of comprehension of the major international events and security issues required of a Commander in Chief. He constantly adopts a default position reply of assessing the issue, seek advice from the General’s or experts and then plan or act. While on the face of it appears fine, you cannot use such a response when replying to nearly every question. As I mentioned before, the damage to Cain’s campaign was done in his team’s management and handling of the recent allegations, not the allegations themselves. There have been too many missteps on Foreign affairs and security issues for Cain to win the nomination but he is above all else, a gentleman and has added much to the GOP race. Last night unfortunately, only confirmed what many people suspected, he lacks the knowledge and grasp of the major issues to be President and Commander in Chief.

Foreign Policy Reveals Different Strengths

Whether or not you think the GOP has a strong field, one thing is for sure.  Any of these candidates would be better than Obama when it comes to foreign policy.  That came across clearly from more moderate voices like Jon Huntsman in addition to the two front runners.  Overall it was a great performance by all the candidates.  The contrast between the GOP field, including Ron Paul, and Barack Obama was clear.  So, here are the winners and losers:

Mitt Romney won the debate because of his smooth ability to introduce ambiguity on some issues to give all Conservatives a cushion of comfort.  See Newt’s performance below.  Mitt also took on Ron Paul and I think Mitt won that debate.  It seems pretty clear that Al Qaida terrorists and Timothy McVeigh do not represent the same sort of threat.  In fact, I would argue that lumping McVeigh, a disgruntled anti-American government citizen attacking the system, in with the 9/11 hijackers, foreign terrorists attacking and targeting United States civilians, is a very dangerous way of looking at foreign and domestic terrorism.  I sure hope we would treat a foreign terrorist crossing our border illegally differently than a citizen radical trying to build a bomb in their basement because the IRS just sent them another tax notice.

Jon Huntsman demonstrated his firm control of foreign policy issues.  I think he overcame some fears when he affirmed our strong relationship with Israel.  Huntsman also expressed sentiments on Afghanistan that have been felt by many Conservatives who were mislabeled as “neo-cons” over the last decade.  Many Conservatives supported both wars, but do not support something for nothing nation building in nations that don’t respect us and don’t appreciate the sacrifices we have made.  Huntsman turned again and again to the economy and the failures of Obama and Congress to solve the problem.  Huntsman’s point on how we leave North Korea alone because they have a nuke, but invaded Libya after they gave up their nuclear ambitions is a great diagnosis of the inconsistency in America’s position towards nuclear ambitious countries.

Newt had a great, issue free performance.  Here is the problem.  Newt comes across hawkish, and he is far too honest.  In the end, Mitt agreed with him on long-time illegal immigrants, but Mitt said it in such a way that will be taken better by anti-illegal alien Conservatives.  Newt also hurt himself by endorsing and calling for an expansion of the Patriot act.  This could help guarantee that Ron Paulites stay home and let Obama get re-elected in 2012.  What Newt should have said was that he supported the Patriot Act, but recommends examining it for things that could be eliminated or added.  I think Newt is too straight forward on a subject that honestly Americans would prefer some ambiguity on.  Same with covert operations.  His answer regarding opening our oil resources is not new, but continues to be a very strong point for him.

Ron Paul continued to solidify his base and add some fringe Conservatives who are weary enough of the wars to want to radically change America’s relationship with the world.  For these people, Paul’s angry old man persona, scoffing and reacting to opponents’ answers, and idea that if we leave terrorists alone, they will realize the error of their ways and leave us alone, will not affect his support.  Still, Paul would make a better foreign policy President than Obama.  At least his disengagement would be total, not mixed with war hawkishness like Obama’s.

Rick Perry’s substance earned him a higher spot after this debate.  I still think his idea of zero based budgeting for foreign aid resonates with Americans.  His refusal to dabble in hypotheticals about illegals who have been here more than a quarter century is going to help him as people weed out Romney and Gingrich’s immigration comments and discover the softness there.

Herman Cain did well not to hurt himself in this debate.  He has come across as unknowledgeable on foreign policy.  In this debate he showed he has a recognizable set of foreign policy principles, although he kept things pretty vague.  He didn’t hurt himself and that is a victory for him on foreign policy.

Rick Santorum comes across as a neo-con.   This debate didn’t really change that, and only a change in that perception would cause his status to change as a result of this debate.  No mistakes, but also no movement for him after this debate.  He continues to maintain that we should be paying Pakistan for friendship.

Michele Bachmann is either a career politician or has issues with comprehension.  On multiple occasions she seemed to not be able to grasp her opponent’s position.  A glaring example was when she interpreted Newt’s soft approach to long-time established illegals as some sort of call for general amnesty to 11 million illegal aliens.  She played the same role in Rick Perry’s demise, but now it seems more like a desperate cry for relevance.  Rising and falling as the Social Conservative choice at this point will require superiority on the issues, not loud misunderstanding of opponents, even though that usually produces success with the general electorate.

No matter who the nominee is, what is clear from last night is that we cannot afford four more years of Obama’s foreign policy.

Republican and Democratic big hitters campaign in Iowa, but Romney a notable absentee.

Just over a month before the Iowa caucus, Mitt Romney has opened an Iowa campaign office. Romney has recruited five paid staffers in the state as well as volunteers. Romney’s decision to open an office comes long after many of his GOP counterparts laid groundwork in Iowa. Rep. Michele Bachmann and businessman Herman Cain both opened headquarters in the state in July. Ron Paul set up an office in May, Sen. Rick Santorum in June and Gov. Rick Perry in October. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich plans to announce his Iowa staff and headquarters soon.

Romney has made just three trips to Iowa since announcing his candidacy in June, and is scheduled to make another one this week. His effort in the state has been vastly reduced compared to that in 2008, when the candidate spilled millions into his campaign effort to come in second to Gov. Mike Huckabee.

The other Republican presidential candidates seeking to become the main alternative to Mitt Romney in Iowa spoke to 3,000 conservatives gathers at a Des Moines church yesterday attacking the Occupy Wall Street movement amongst other things.

The Democrats not to be out done and ramping up President Obama’s campaign mode sent out Chicago mayor, and former White House Chief of Staff – Rahm Emanuel for the annual Democratic fundraising dinner also in Des Moines. Emanuel called for President Obama’s re-election and mocked the Republican challengers saying, “The Republican event was called the “Thanksgiving Family Forum, which is fitting because I have never seen such a collection of turkeys.”

Interestingly, Emanuel kept Democratic Party efforts focussed on Mitt Romney attacking his alleged “flip-flopper” status on a series of issues mentioning his name 15 times and attempted to highlight contrasts between President Obama and Romney. Mayor Emanuel described Romney a man he sees as a calculating businessman-turned-politician, whose shifting positions on abortion, gay rights, gun control, climate change, immigration reform and health care reveal no principled core.  “Mitt Romney says he’s a man of steadiness and consistency,” Emanuel said. “And if that’s true, then I’m a linebacker for the Chicago Bears.”

Former Governor Romney was a notable absentee in Des Moines yesterday deciding to skip the Republican forum that was sponsored by a coalition of Iowa groups opposed to abortion rights and gay marriage, a gathering that offered six of his challengers a spotlight before an influential voting bloc and often consisted of each of the candidates complimenting each other.

Governor Romney was in New Hampshire yesterday for a town hall event in Peterborough promising reporters that he will be making a bigger push in Iowa. “I’ve said from the very beginning that we intend to play in Iowa, that I want to do very well there.”

Romney was coy on the exact details of his campaign strategy in Iowa saying, “It will come as no surprise to you that, in the business world and in the political world, that we tend not to reveal our strategies to our competitors, and so you’ll wait and see what we do.”

Mr. Romney reminded reporters gathered around him in the Peterborough town hall to “expect that as we get closer to the caucuses and the primaries you’ll see us visiting those early states more, spending more money there, turning out more volunteers and being more active because, as we get closer to the election, not surprisingly we want to draw people to the polls and support us.”

Mr. Romney attributed his absence at the Family Leader event to scheduling.

Romney needs to make a concerted effort in the coming weeks otherwise he may be accused of disrespecting the base by not committing or engaging in Iowa. In some respects, it appears Romney is following a more traditional campaign approach in opening an office in Des Moines and by recruiting volunteers, using phone banks and holding regular campaign events. It is clear that Romney is keen to learn from his mistakes in the 2008 campaign when he spent $10 million in an effort to win Iowa only to lose to former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

The time line is shortening so it is important for Team Romney to be more visible in their efforts on the ground or face missing out on a top three spot in the Caucus. Iowa like most early states has some of the most passionate and committed supporters in any state nationally and they want their candidates to win their vote on merit, as Romney learnt to his cost in 2008 they can’t be bought.

Iowa will be very interesting and although there is much campaigning to do, I expect a surprise in the eventual result with my prediction that Rep. Ron Paul will win the caucus, with Cain, Gingrich and Santorum making up the other slots along with Romney. The only question to be decided is where will Romney come? A failure to secure a top three finish will not be a good result for his campaign to start the race for 2012 with.

Thanksgiving Family Forum Review

The GOP candidates faced something Saturday night that they haven’t seen in a long time, a friendly moderator.  In a round table discussion without buzzers, all but one of today’s contenders shared personal stories, tears, and their faith.  It was a very personalizing debate where Americans got to see these candidates discuss the issues facing family values voters.  So here is the official review:

Newt Gingrich opened up and shared a real personal side of himself with the audience.  He personalized the healthcare debate in a way that would make pro-Obamacare liberals rethink centralized health planning.  He also was the most genuine in sharing his failures with the crowd.  His failure and the resolution of turning his life around through God’s help is exactly what resonates with this crowd. He presented solutions on judicial activism without betraying a sort of militant anti-homosexuality that will be a turnoff to some states rights conservatives who shy away from a marriage amendment, but in a way that should satisfy pro-amendment conservatives who see the courts stampeding over states rights on marriage.

Rick Santorum had a chance to connect with audiences and take enough time to overcome some of the perception of irrelevance that comes with mainstream media consumer based debates.  This will help him especially in Iowa where social conservatives are searching to an anti-Romney with a clean record.  Santorum helped his changes in Iowa, although even if he wins in Iowa he will probably not take any other states.

Herman Cain played to his strength: being real.  Although there are questions about Cain’s foreign policy know how and tax plan, one thing that has made him endearing to Republicans is his realness and his ability to connect on that personal level.  He may have harmed himself though when as a failure he pointed out that he spent too much time working to the top of the corporate ladder and not enough time with his family.  That is a regret that will not resonate with most Americans, and for those who it does it will not be seen as a good thing.

Michele Bachmann did well, but was once again forgettable.  Her answer on schools was good by itself, but was a shadow of answers given by other candidates.  She must find a way to distinguish herself if she hopes to be relevant again.  Perry tried to make himself relevant, but his tax plan was trumped by Gingrich’s flat tax.  Santorum has not been able to make himself relevant again.  Bachmann’s best shot recently at making herself relevant has been apparent support for a $10 surtax on all Americans to make sure everyone is paying something in.  That is not a defining plan that will rocket her back to relevance.

Ron Paul was able to be personal and share his faith, which is important for him among social conservatives.  However, it may also be damaging among libertarian voters.  Paul showed support for DOMA, which will hurt him with libertarians.  His advocacy for moving issues like gay marriage to the church and family are admirable, but naive like his foreign policy.  Paul does not seem to understand the militancy of some liberal homosexual groups.  Paul also hurt himself with his greatest failure, suffering sports injuries that kept him from playing football in highschool.  Honestly, if someone told me that in a job interview I would probably only continue the interview out of politeness.

Rick Perry had a typical bumbling debate performance.  At one point he said “We’ve all heard that saying…” and I was afraid he might forget what it was.  When he talked about his greatest failure, I think he was saying he impregnated his wife (possibly not his wife at the time?) and had to drop out of veterinarian school.  Overall, unimpressive.

The biggest loser was Mitt Romney.  Mitt will not win this election with just the establishment and fiscal conservatives.  This was a must attend debate if he hopes to win over any social conservatives of family values voters.  Then again, if Mitt could not stand toe to toe with these candidates on family values, perhaps it is best that he didn’t show up.

Other no shows, Gary Johnson, Fred Kargar, Buddy Roemer, and Jon Huntsman.  Let’s be honest, who cares.

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.

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.

Trunkline 2012: Friday’s Campaign Trail News – 10/28/11

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Occupy protesters take a step towards defeating Democrats in 2012, more Republican candidates run for president in  New Hampshire than ever before, TEA Party group wants Bachmann out,Coulter sees Romney easily beating Obama,  Romney sits in hot Global Warming water and Huntsman throws him an anchor, Democrats claim GOP likes Cain because he’s a Negro who knows his place, and Rick Perry starts to reiforce his flat tax and economic reform message.  All that and more are among some of the campaign trail tidbits you will in this Friday’s Trunkline 2012.

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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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Newt Gingrich: Phoenix Rising or Leader Emeritus? Can Newt be the Next Frontrunner?

  Bookmark and Share  While Mitt Romney maintains a steady 25% in most Republican presidential polls, the polling numbers for other candidates have seen wide fluctuations that provide them with five minutes of fame in frontrunner status. That has been a phenomenon mainly to the desire of the G.O.P. base to find a viable alternative to Romney that they can get excited about. For a while that alternative was Mike Huckabee Mitch Daniels, and Donald Trump.  Then it was  Michele Bachmann, and soon after her it was Rick Perry.  When Perry stepped in and did not meet expectations, the enthusiasm shifted back towards the hope that a new name would jump in to the race.  Paul Ryan again declined and then Chris Christie spent an hour in a press conference convincing people that he was not running.  Soon after that, Herman Cain catapulted to the top.

At the moment, Cain still remains in the lead in several state and national polls, but it is a slim lead that seems to be slowly fading.  Meanwhile Romney stays mired in the mid twenties.

So what’s next?

Will Cain build on his lead?

It is possible but not very likely.

Herman Cain has had a few hiccups such as his contradictory remarks regarding abortion.  These bumps in Cain’s road to the White House have stalled his momentum a bit and it provides a little space for a new name to move up in the polls.  And while Cain can certainly recapture that momentum, he is still quite limited in the sense that he has not been able to coordinate any significant organizational strength on the ground in any of the early states.  Without such organizational strength, high poll numbers are in truth artificially inflated.  Coordination of an operational organization that keeps a close track on voters is the only way to insure that those high poll numbers translate in to actual votes.

But between now and when the first votes in Iowa take place, perception is the name of the game.  Voter perceptions will continue to be the driving force behind the polling numbers and if I am right, I believe that perceptions will soon find Cain being viewed in a much dimmer light and cause Newt Gingrich’s name to the forefront.

As Rick Perry focusses on tearing Romney down instead of building himself up, and as Herman Cain is forced to waste time correcting and explaining himself, candidates like Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Ron Paul will continue to look for opening that will let them get in to contention.  Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich has recently found his opening.  An average of polls as indicated by Real Clear Politics, shows that Newt Gingrich is practically tied with Ron Paul for third place.  Paul’s numbers are basically as high as they can go in a Republican primary or caucus.  That essentially leaves Newt as the candidate in third place and that ultimately gives Newt Gingrich the best chance to become America’s next new Top Model………….,  I mean candidate.

Up to now, Newt has been running g a low-key campaign.  That is mainly due to the fact that he has had no choice in the matter.  His fundraising has been relatively meager, many conservatives have not wanted to give Newt much of a chance because of his personal marital infidelities, and the establishment has not wanted to give Newt much consideration because of what they see as a general image problem that makes Newt unelectable.

But all that may change and Gingrich is ready to force that change upon voters.

Mitt Romney is eventually going to have to move in one direction or another.  He will have to break out of the mid-twenties and break in to the at least the low  to mid-thirties.  Unfortunately, this is not likely to happen until Romney wins a primary or caucus other than New Hampshire, where he is an obvious favorite.  Until Republicans who are apprehensive or unhappy with Romney have concrete reasons to resign themselves to an inevitability of Romney winning the nomination, they will either remain on the fence or commit themselves to another candidate.  Right now, Rick Perry, the candidate seen as having the most potential to be the alternative candidate,  is not picking up many votes and he is not having an impact on the 25% that Romney steadily maintains.

Perry also has many troubling hurdles.  While his Republican rivals will continue to chip away at his strong suit……..job creation, and hammer away at his unpopular illegal immigration positions, Perry is stuck with other problems.  He is not good on the stump.  Perry does not do well in unscripted environments.  Whenever he is left to his own devices, he fumbles and stumbles and does not portray the type of command of the issues and confidence that is necessary.   While in time, he may improve, right now there is little room for on the job campaign training.

As for the others, Herman Cain faces the same problem and I believe that he and his cornerstone 9-9-9 plan are not going to hold up to the scrutiny that comes with being a frontrunner for very long.  Ron Paul has hit his usual 8 to 14 percent ceiling of support, Bachmann will fight for her life and exhaust her resources in Iowa to compete for a stop spot and in the end, she might pull off a win in Iowa but that is becoming increasingly unlikely and even if she does take the Iowa caucuses, she will have little ability to translate that in to a victory in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, Nevada or any other contested races.

In regards to Rick Santorum, while he will campaign well, he has not demonstrated an ability to catch on with voters and without any significant money available to him, it is not possible for him to become a contender for the top spot.

This leaves Jon Huntsman and Gary Johnson.

Johnson is just not a factor and will not be.  He is investing all his time and very limited resources in New Hampshire where he is counting on pulling off a miraculous upset victory over Mitt Romney and suddenly become the man to beat.  But that won’t happen.  Huntsman may be able to surprise many with a second place finish in the Granite State but that too is unlikely.  And regardless of how well he does, he will not gain the type of momentum from his New Hampshire finish that can  propel him to a top spot in South Carolina, Nevada, and/or Florida.

This leaves Newt Gingrich with multiple windows of opportunities to become the next best alternative to Mitt Romney and the next flavor of the month, or at least the week and he knows it.  He already believes that he has a chance to do well in New Hampshire, and states that Romney does not have a lock on that state’s primary. And he may be right.  That is why Gingrich is finally building an organization in New Hampshire.  More so than any of the other candidates, Newt has the potential to sneak up on Romney, a state which recent primary history has shown to be the scene of many surprises.  If Newt has the resources, he could take advantage of New Hampshire by pulling off a surprise second place showing.  That would be a great start to the firewall Newt has stated that he will build in South Carolina.  With a good showing in New Hampshire, Gingrich may be able to build what could more accurately be called a large sand dune in South Carolina, but not a firewall. Nonetheless, he can establish himself there and turn what is currently a campaign to talk about in passing, in to a campaign that grabs the headlines——positive headlines.

Leading up to the first nominating contests, in order for any of this to be possible, Newt can and must begin to take control of the agenda through successful strategic messaging.  By turning his numerous ideas in to the topics of discussion, he can quietly rise in the polls, as he has already been doing, but at a significantly faster rate.

If and when that happens it will be quite possible for Newt Gingrich to make his move and turn the nomination contest in to a two or three man race between himself, Mitt Romney and either Herman Cain or Rick Perry.  If that does occur, all bets are off because Newt can not be underestimated.  He is a man of superior intellect and his ideologically passion can be infectious among conservatives.   Add to that the undeniable fact that Newt is a  figure who has helped shape contemporary conservative thinking and what you have  is a candidate who in a mano y mano environment, will allow Newt to score many points and finally begin to tap in to all that is needed to unite critical factions of the electorate into a winning coalition of voters, a coalition that even includes the TEA Party.

While Newt is not considered a darling of the TEA movement he has the ability to tap into them and win them over. In New Hampshire he has already begun to tap in to the TEA Party.  He recently hired Andrew Hemingway, a Tea movement activist and former state chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire, as his state campaign director.  In line with his potential TEA movement appeal, while Newt was once part of the establishment, he is far from an establishment thinker or player and that bodes well for him in an anti-establishment electorate.  When it comes to the conservative base of the Party, few true conservatives can turn their back on Newt if he positions himself as “the’ alternative to Romney.  Social conservatives may still put their noses up at Newt, but their vote may be end up being divided between players like Cain, Perry, Bachmann, and even Santorum.

Of course none of this is definite.  Newt has been reluctant to demonstrate a willingness to allow his campaign to operate in carefully structured environment, and while that may be refreshing and have a degree of popular appeal, it prevents Newt from avoiding pitfalls and from organizing the type of ground game that is needed to keep support once you get it.  However, as demonstrated by his new hires in New Hampshire and the opening of 5 offices in  New Hampshire, there are signs that he is resigning himself to the reality of the need to employ some type of  basic and traditional campaign structure.

All of this leads me to suspect that Newt is the next name to become the focus for the Republican presidential nomination.  The question is, will he have the ability and resources to keep his name at the top once he gets his turn, or will he fall back into the ashes like others have done?   The answer  will either start a new chapter for Newt as President or close the book on his political career and forever remain simply, the former Speaker of the House.

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Trunkline 2012: Tuesday Tidbits From The Republican Presidential Race – 10/25/11

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Perry puts proposal on the table, Reince Priebus penalizes pushy states, Newt builds a firewall in South Carolina, Mitt gets flack for flipping before he flops on Ohio’s SB2, Barry beats Herman, Joe wants to investigate why reporters ask him questions and Fred Karger wonders about Marcus Bachmann………….all that and more in today’s tales from  the campaigen trail.

Gay Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger, recently passed on a message to White House 2012 that dealt with a White House 2012 post that had a little fun with Karger’s recent “UnDesicion 2012” interview on Comedy Central which ended with a casual reference to Michele Bachmann’s husband Marcus being gay. It came with the following pic and a note that read;

“Marcus and me form the Iowa Straw Poll. he gets you in a bear hug when posing for the pic……..”

When inititally writing the commentary on Karger’s Comdey Central interview, I mistook the program’s host reference to Michele’s husband to mean Michelle Obama. So I thought Fred Karger’s comment “he seems gay to me” referred to President Obama. That would have been a better story. But the he was talking about Marcus Bachmann, who by the way is White House 2012’s biggest loser of the 2012 presidential campaign so far.

Like her, love her, or hate her, you know that living with and being Michele Bachmann’s husband ain’t easy. But now the poor guy’s wife runs for President and what does he get for it? He gets a big closet with his name on it that the whole nation suspects he lives in. At least Marcus can be content with the fact that when it is all over, he won’t have to put up with jokes about him being the First “Lady” if his wife was elected President. That doesn’t seem likely to happen any time soon.

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GOP Presidential Candidate States That Bachmann’s Husband Seems Gay to Him

Bookmark and Share  While few are paying close attention to Fred Karger, the first openly gay Republican to run for President, Fred Karger is going around and giving plenty of attention to the endless number of audiences that he has been chatting it up with in New Hampshire and even Iowa.  Meanwhile there are more than few outlets who don’t mind giving Fred a little bit of the limelight.

Take for instance Comedy Central’s “Undcision 2012″ segement.

They recently sat down with Fred for what proves to an amusing piece.

While much of what Karger says is innocuous, he tends not to be very amusing when he digs in to the man he has been gunning for ever since the primary process began ——-Mitt Romney.

With Karger, competing against Mitt Romney is more personal than anything else.  Karger takes offense to Romney’s Mormon faith, the same people who used their faith to help defeat a gay marriage referendum in California Karger was in the forefront of the battler for.  In some ways, Karger has a legitimate beef with Mormons.  The faith has taken on an anti-gay tone and level of activity that  doesn’t just discriminate against gays and lesbians, it almost seems that it is going out of their way to insure that gays are treated like second class citizens.

If that is the case, they are  quite wrong for such actions.  But much to Karger’s charging, however wrong their actions may be, when compared to some moral standard, it is not illegal.   So as indicated in the brief interview below this post, Karger has taken on the role of the Mormon Church in his own attempt to persecute Mormons.  In some instances, when talking about Mormons, Karger almost sounds as far fetched as Rev. Jeffress, the loony stereotypical fire and brimstone preacher who states that Mormons are suited to run this country.

Like Jeffress, Karger even suggests what Jeffress charges, which is that Mormonism is a cult.  In Karger’s case he claims that Mormons are controlled by their church and tha Mitt Romney is the best example of that.

Personally I am not sure how far Fred Karger can get by trying to combat discrimination and negativity towards by being discriminatory and negative, himself.  Perhaps it is best to make his case, by not practicing that which he preaches is against.  Oddly gays and Mormons have a few things in common.  They are one of the few religions that is fair game when it comes to intolerance for in America.  Romney’s Mormonism is one reason why evangelicals are unwilling to give Romney a chance.  And the same problem exists for homosexuals.  It would almost seem that homosexuals are the last group in society to be taken seriously enough to be represented in the federal government by more than just a handful of gay and lesbian members of Congress.  Perhaps at soome point, they can work to combat the discrimination that both sides are the victims of.

Through it all though, Karger keeps it fun and as seen in the interview below, makes for quite an interesting presidential candidate.  Although I do not know how well his parting chuckle will go over with members of the evangelical community.  Im not sure how joking at the end of the clip,  about Michele Bachmann’s husbanmd seems gay will play out.  I’d love to see a Rasmussen poll on that one.

Time to thin the herd

All is not lost!  Yes, it was an ugly night for several GOP candidates.  Newt’s frustration with the format is certainly understandable.  It made for great television, but it was a bad debate.  However, there were some glimmers of hope, starting with the Vegas Champ…

Newt Gingrich.  I didn’t give Newt the win last time because I didn’t think his campaign would see a boost.  After this debate, I think it will.  Newt once again is the adult in the room.  He puts himself above the fray and really acts as a second moderator.  Voters should give Newt a second look.  Give Newt seven debates with Barack Obama and Obama might even drop out of the race before November.  I would love to see these debates as more candidates drop out and more time is given.  Newt has been so supportive of other candidates that his questions of other candidates carried a great deal of weight and were therefore more devastating.  Cain will not survive the 999 barrage, look for Newt to pick up steam.  Newt’s statement on faith put him squarely in the majority of conservative thought.  Newt’s biggest slip up was on appearing weak on states rights.  Another candidate who performed well, but likely won’t see much change because of it was…

Mitt Romney.  Romney was once again the big punching bag, and once again hit back.  He continued to defend his healthcare program as a state program and did pretty well.  But here Newt hit him hard on the big government aspect of it.    Romney kept his cool when being shouted down by Rick Santorum and talked over by Rick Perry.  Romney screwed up on Cain’s 999 plan trying to argue that Cain’s plan would add federal taxes to state taxes.  Excuse me, Mr. Romney, but you already pay bushels of apples and oranges.  Don’t feel bad, every candidate but Cain and Newt seemed to forget that 999 would eliminate our current tax code.  In the end, especially with no Huntsman, Romney’s got his support base solidified and did nothing to hurt that. Unfortunately, this is the last good report on a candidate performance in this review.  Although, it wasn’t terrible for everyone, especially…

Michele Bachmann.  Michele, Michele, Michele.  First, Obama took us to Libya, THEN, he took us into Africa!  Oops, Libya is in Africa.  But again, if Joe Biden can be VP, we shouldn’t be too hard on Bachmann for her frequent misspeaks.  Aside from that, she did well in another forgettable performance/turned stump speech.   As a tax litigation attorney though, I am disappointed in her evaluation of Cain’s 999 plan.  A VAT because every corporation in the manufacturing process pays 9%?  What does our current corporate tax do?  Same thing.  Shame on you Michele.  But most people won’t figure that out, so you’re good.  We will see if the media picks up on Bachmann’s idea of a $1 poor tax.  Bachmann won’t see any uptick from this debate.  Another candidate with no uptick or downtick…

Ron Paul. Paul is good on state’s rights.  The other candidates would do well to learn some things from him.  On the other hand, we heard a lot of the same platitudes and fuzzy one liners that leave us scratching our heads about if Paul actually has a viable plan.  Get rid of the income tax?  Oh, ok.  Is that like repealing Medicare part D?  Would be nice, but not a priority?  Paul came out with a new economic plan that cuts a trillion in spending.  Worth taking a look at, but didn’t get much play last night.  He will maintain his small support base, but with his vagueness and legend over substance approach this debate won’t give him a bump.  But at least he won’t lose support, like…

Herman Cain.  Cain gave the media some pretty good quotes last night.  Would he shut down Guantanamo to negotiate with terrorists?  Kinda sounded like it.  Apples and Oranges?  Cain, that is simply not Washington speak.  Cain looked amateurish.    He is an amateur though, so he may get a pass for the inability to articulate his 999 plan in a way that Americans can understand and latch on to.  Fortunately, his opponents weren’t much better.  In fact, only Newt seemed to have a clue how 999 works, but he wasn’t about to throw Cain a bone.  Cain right now is riding on populism, but poor debate performances can sink that ship (Bachmann, Perry).  In fact, I think it did sink two ships last night, starting with…

Rick Santorum.  Rick continues to be an advocate for the family.  He continues to present strong conservatism.  But his discussion with Romney early on just set a bad tone.  He reminded me of an angry teenager.  It was unprofessional and amateurish.  It’s been good to have Santorum in these debates for the most part, but after last night he needs to drop out and endorse a social conservative who can still beat Romney.  You’re not going to win, Rick Santorum.  At this point you are hurting more than helping.  But at least Santorum did better than…

Rick Perry.  Geez.  I don’t want to sound politically incorrect, but Perry seemed…slow.  Can we still use that term?  When Romney was answering and Perry was slowly drawling over him and droning on, I couldn’t help but laugh.  But it got worse as the night went on.  Perry, who gave instate tuition to illegals and opposes a full border fence, went after Romney for hiring a landscaping company that hired illegal aliens.  And that wasn’t the only 2008 unfair attack that Perry dug up.  Even when Perry made a good point (We need to uh, look at, uh the…darn, which amendment was it again?  Oh yeah, tenth amendment for uh…issues) it was lost in translation.  Perry was put in his place over and over.  It was a complete dud.  Even his distancing from Pastor Jeffers was not believable.  The best we got from Perry was a promise that next week he will have a tax plan. The good news is that even Rick Perry had a better week than…

Barack Obama.  Rumor has it, after a bunch of his tour supplies were stolen, that his teleprompter is currently being interrogated by Iranian sponsored Al Qaida terrorists in Mexico.  Although, there have also been alleged sightings of his teleprompter in Zuccoti park, smoking a joint and displaying a message about being overworked and underpaid.

The Launching of “Americans for Herman Cain,” a Project of the “9-9-9 Fund”

Bookmark and Share  It is rare for a an outside group that is campaigning independently of and for a particular candidate to campaign better than the candidate than that they are supporting but that is exactly the case with with a newly organized outfit called the 9-9-9 Fund and which has launched what it calls Americans for Herman Cain.  The new committee amounts to what is commonly called a super-committee

Jordan Gehrke

In the groups first mass email which was sent out while the CNN Republican presidential debate was taking place, its campaign director, Jordan Gehrke, penned a missive that presented a case for Herman Cain  that Herman Cain’s own campaign has not effectively laid out for voters.

In what is a very succinct and articulate fundraising email, Gehrke demonstrates superior strategic political skills with a succinct but articulate letter that demonstrates how effective direct messaging can be when done right and provides Herman Cain’s campaign with a sample of how they should be communicating to voters.

In his email, Jordan Gehrke combines Herman Cain’s positives with the negatives of Mitt Romney and Rick Perry in a way that makes the combination of the two, one of the most powerful cases for why Herman Cain should be the nominee that I have seen yet. Up to now, Herman Cain seems to be too much of a gentleman to go after his Republican opponents too harshly. But this is not an ad war between Dominos and pizza Hut, this is presidential politics and pretty soon Mr. Cain is going to have to do what Mr. Gehrke is willing to do …. land some meaningful, hard hitting punches. So far, Mr. Cain has criticized his opponents with light jabs distinguishing them as politicians and himself as a problem solving outsider. That will not seal the deal. However; by showing that he has a powerful uppercut and a lethal left hook, Herman cain can do exactly what he needs to do right now, while the iron is hot. He must not only gain some ground, he must also cause his opponents to lose some ground.

So far the race for the Republican presidential nomination has seen candidates burn quite bright but quickly fade out and be outshined by the steady little flame that is Mitt Romney’s dull glow. If Herman Cain does not want to be the next Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry, he must take advantage of the newfound popularity that he saw since the Florida Straw Poll and establish himself as a truly viable alternative to Mitt Romney. If he fails to take advantage of this surge now, it may be too late and he will likely find himself being a flash in the pan that will easily be written off as another “also ran”.

In order to avoid that, Cain must take two steps forward while simultaneously pushing his opponents two steps back.

In his fundraising email to supporters, Jordan Gehrke does just that.  See Gehrke’s 9-9-9 Fund email below and you too will realize how effective Cain’s positive message is when combined with the negative realities of his opponents.
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great herman cain vid
Jordan Gehrke, Americans for Herman Cain to you
From: Jordan Gehrke, Americans for Herman Cain info@americansforhermancain.com
To:   liberalsrlosers
Date: Tue, Oct 18, 2011 9:05 pm
`
What if we didn’t have to choose between the lesser of two evils for  President? What if we had a conservative choice we could be proud of? Let me explain.
`
Conservatives have been told they have to pick Mitt Romney, despite his flip-flops on abortion, immigration, gun control. Plus, he’s the intellectual father of ObamaCare. No conservative really LOVES Mitt Romney. But they think they might be stuck with him.We were told Rick Perry was the “Tea Party” alternative to Mitt Romney, until we found out he mandated 12-year-old girls receive a vaccine f or HPV without their parents’ permission, opposed building a fence along America’s southern border, and supported free college tuition for illegal aliens.
`
We have a real choice this time: Herman Cain. Herman Cain is surging in Iowa and New Hampshire. Just this week, a new poll showed that if the election were held today, Herman would beat Barack Obama.  Will you help him today?
`
Today we are launching “Americans for Herman Cain,” a project of 9-9-9 Fund.
`
I wanted you to be among the first to see our new video about our efforts. I hope you’ll like it, and share it across Facebook and Twitter:
Herman Cain has grassroots support. He has the poll numbers. He is a conservative. He can beat Barack Obama. Now it’s our job to propel him to victory in Iowa, N ew Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, Florida, Michigan, and Arizona.
`
We’re going to do everything from TV ads, voter mail, advocacy phones identifying Herman’s supporters, to get out the vote programs. But we can’t do it without your help. We’re fiscal conservatives like you, and we won’t waste a dollar.
`

Together, we will take our country back.

For America,
Jordan Gehrke
Campaign Director
AmericansforHermanCain.com

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Personally, I’m impressed.

In my opinion, this solicitation is a perfect example of what Herman Cain and his campaign needs to be articulating and driving home. However, as is often the case, when it comes to negative campaigning, like most successful criminals know, it is best not to leave your own fingerprints on the weapon used in committing your crime. That is why surrogates are often called upon to do the attacking for them.

But Gehrke is not associated with Herman Cain.  You will note the disclaimer at the bottom of his email which states that AFHC and the 9-9-9 Fund is not authorized by any candidate or committee.

Mr. Gehrke is an experienced political operative who once led the Internet activism division at Eberle Communications Group and was the Director of Business Development for BMW Direct, a national direct mail fundraising firm, where he also led their voter contact mail division. Some of his past clients include Sen. David Vitter and Reps. Jim Ryun, Geoff Davis, and Robin Hayes, Sharon Angle, and also involved in some controversial dealings with the campaigns of Tim Cahill who ran a primary for the Republican gubernatorial campaign of  also Nevada’s Sharon Angle.

In the case of Cahill, during the 2010 primary, Cahill sued  Gehrke who beiefly served as Cahil’s political director, and he tried to insure that Gehrke did not from hand  any confidential information and documents over to Cahil’s chief opponent for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, Charlie Baker. Gehrke and three other cahill campaign official had suddenly resigned from Cahill’s campaign.

But the most questionable involvement of Gehrke comes from his positions with  Base Connect, which was formerly known as BMW Direct.  The company described itself as “a full-service creative agency for conservative candidates running at the national level.”  But it was noted that for several election cycles, the political consulting firm would go out and find  longshot conservative candidates that were  running against a well funded Democrat incumbents and then launch a national fundraising campaign by sending direct mail to a list of loyal but small pocketed conservative donors around the country.

The real problem though was that as much as 95% t of the money Base Connect raises  is funneled backt o Base Connect and partner companies that are based in the same suite in the same building off K Street.   According to one report, GOP consultant  Bill Pascoe called the Base Connect  process “subprime fundraising.” And Erick Erickson once said that” candidates who use the firm are in danger of losing Red State’s endorsement, presumably because conservative donors’ money is going to a fundraising agency rather than actually helping the cause. Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA) dropped all ties with Base Connect after Talking Points Memo reported in March he was paying the firm 75 percent in fundraising ”

So while I am impressed by the effectiveness of Mr. Gehrke’s work, I am forced to question the sincerity of his involvement in a so-called super PAC that is designed to promote the candidacy of a not so well connected political candidate who s running for the highest office in the land.

When White House 2012 approached Mr. Gehrke for an interview and asked some basic questions, he offered an email response that went as follows:

“There is zero relationship with Americans for Herman Cain and the Cain campaign. We are simply a SuperPAC that exists to put together an experienced team in early primary states for Cain that can win in IA, NH, SC, NV, FL, MI, AZ, etc.

I think Herman and his team have done a great job turning him into a tier one candidate despite the media and the establishment telling us he can’t win.

Now, it’s our job to provide reinforcements. That’s what we intend to do. We’ll be announcing the team in the coming days.

Thanks for your interest.

Jordan”

To be clear, neither Mr. Gehrke or his former employers at Base Connect have been officially charged with any wrongdoing and in America one is innocent until proven guilty.  So we give Jordan Gehrke the benefit of the doubt and for Herman Cain’s sake, we hope that Mr. Gehrke’s obvious abilities raise the money that will allow his talents to deliver plenty of votes to Herman Cain.

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.

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