Who Do You Want Mitt Romney to Pick for Vice President?

Bookmark and Share As the race for President seems to have entered a perpetual state of boredom that is filled with a bumper sticker mentality of shallow stump speeches that offer little insight and a whole lot of repetitive pot shots and one liners, concerned voters find themselves left with but one last intriguing question —- who will Mitt Romney pick for Vice President?

Rob Portman

Aside from the actual election results, the question of who Romney will pick for Vice President is perhaps the only moment of suspense remaining in the campaign.  And as such, who he picks could actually make more of a difference than it has in most of the presidential elections in our recent past.  In fact, according to a CBS News/New York Times  poll released last Wednesday, 74 percent of registered voters said that a candidate’s running mate  matters “a lot” or “somewhat” to their vote,(26 percent  said that it matters a lot, while 48 percent said that it matters somewhat). At  the same time, 25 percent said that it doesn’t matter at all.  However; that sentiment is often expressed at this point in every presidential election, but by the time Election Day rolls around, it is a sentiment that is usually proven wrong.  Yet in the case of Mitt Romney and this extraordinarily polarized electorate, who he picks could make the difference between winning and losing.With swing states like Ohio, Florida, and Wisconsin at stake, Rob Portman, Marco Rubio, or Paul Ryan  could add the percentage or two to the election result in their respective states that is responsible for putting Republicans over the top in the Electoral College.But with figures like former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice or New Mexico’s Susana Martinez also on the list of possible contenders, the combination of their being women and being representative of different minority groups, has the potential to erode an important part of President Obama’s base vote just enough to make a small difference in a multitude of states that Romney is currently considered less competitive in.

Marco Rubio

What Romney is thinking is anyone’s guess though and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. The only thing we know for certain right now is that some names are less likely to be selected than others.  Take Mitch Daniels for example.  He’s a highly successful and popular two term, conservative Governor of Indiana who I originally hoped would be our presidential nominee.  With his command of matters of the budget and fiscal conservatism in general, he would be a perfect running mate for Romney in a campaign that will be based on fiscal responsibility.  Daniels also has crossover appeal and would be a perfect balance for Mitt.  Unfortunately though, Mitch  has agreed to become the President of Perdue University at the end of his term in January.  So he’s out.  Unless of course that decision was thrown out to throw us off the track?

Paul Ryan

The there’s Chris Christie, or at least there was.  He has supposedly been given the honor of delivering the highly coveted keynote address at the Republican National Convention.  That essentially means he won’t be delivering an acceptance speech at the convention.  Unless of course the rumors about his being the keynoter were intentionally thrown out for public consumption to throw us off the track?Another very striking contender was Virginia’s popular conservative Governor, Bob McDonnell.  With his national star rising from Virginia, another key battleground state in this election, his presence on the ticket could deliver a state that is practically a must win for Republicans.  But McDonnell has been named chairman of the Republican platform committee, a job that brings with it the type of contentious floor fights and baggage that automatically scratches him off of any V.P. short list.So those are is at least one name you can take out of contention and two which you can stop taking bets on.  Maybe.

McMorris Rodgers

But that still leaves us with a mix of both likely and unlikely contenders who can potentially be nominated to join Romney on the G.O.P. ticket.  They range from names such Senator Kelly Ayote of New Hampshire, to Washington State Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and from Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, to Tennessee’s former U.S. Senator, Fred Thompson and a host of names in between such as Florida’s Allen West and Jeb Bush, or South Dakota’s John Thune and Minnesota’s Tim Pawlenty.  In one scenario, even a Blue Dog Democrat, North Carolina’s Heath Shuler has been floated as a game changing decision for Romney. Polls about who most Republicans want Romney to pick vary based on the audiences that frequent those platforms offering such polls.  For instance, the conservative site Town Hall is probably seeing it’s far right readers choose dark horse contender Allen West, while other more libertarian geared sites might find that Rand Paul is the choice that it’s audience most wants to see selected by Romney.But when it comes to less partisan entities that happen to do professional polling and are therefore far more accurate at polling than those who conduct online opinion surveys , there is one name that keeps emerging as the favorite among voters —– Condoleezza Rice.

John Thune

A Rasmussen Reports poll that was conducted between July 15-16, found  that 65% of likely U.S. voters share at least a somewhat favorable view of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, while just 24% view her unfavorably. Those results included 29% who have a Very Favorable opinion of Condi Rice and 6% who had a Very Unfavorable opinion of her. Twelve 12% were undecided in the poll.  (To see survey question wording, click here).  Other professional polling surveys have had similar results and for good reason.Condoleezza Rice is regarded as a very respectable, likeable, admirable leader.  She is also viewed by most voters as someone who is guided more by personal conviction and ideology than Party and partisan politics.  Such a persona could do nothing but help the G.O.P.  and hurt Democrats.  This is especially the case when you consider the fact that as both an African-American and a woman, Condi Rice does have the potential to make significant inroads into a base vote that President Obama needs to keep in his column and that Mitt Romney desperately needs to peel off and bring his way.  Furthermore; Condoleezza Rice can help Romney with the all important independent vote that will essentially determine who wins in November.Whether Romney agrees with that assessment or not is anyone’s guess but I will state this.  If he doesn’t agree with that opinion, he’s a dope.

Condoleezza Rice

While I like many of the potential candidates for Vice President, I believe that Condoleezza Rice is the one person  who can bring everything that Romney needs to the ticket.  And I mean everything.  Not only does she cover the electoral aesthetics of being a women and being African-American, her presence on the ticket adds a degree of historic value that can benefit Republicans much the same way it benefitted Democrats in 2012.  Add Rice’s ability to articulate conservatism and the traditional American values of independence, freedom, personal responsibility better than practically anyone else other than Allen West and what you have is a running mate who is an electoral goldmine.But it’s not just the electoral politics that makes Rice such a good choice for Romney.  It is her ability to be a great President that makes her not just a good choice, but also a potentially good President.  And afterall, is that not what a Vice President is suppose to be? Few politicians have the experience and knowhow that Condoleezza Rice has and few Vice Presidents would be more immediately prepared to assume the office of President at a moments notice as she.Still, there are three things that stand in the way of a Romney-Rice ticket.

One is the fact that Rice herself has not seen fit to show any interest in the job.  Yet despite the lack of interest, her recent penning of an inspiring editorial in the Financial Times raises some question as to exactly how disinterested the former Secretary of State is in getting her country back on track.  Problem number two is Rice’s stance on abortion.  Rice does not support banning abortion.  She does however strongly support placing many restrictions on how its practice.  While that position may be tolerated by some on the right, it will not be acceptable by others, especially those who are already doubtful about Mitt Romney’s own committment to the right-to-life cause.

Lastly is the political fear factor that Romney and his consultants may have regarding Condoleezza Rice’s ties to the Bush Administration.  They may fear that teaming Rice with Romney will provide Team Obama with an unintended campaign theme that links Romney to the not so popular former President.   While such political fears are worthy of considering, political reality should lead Romney to realize that Condoleezza Rice brings far more positives to the ticket than negatives.  And Team Romney should also realize that if the Obama campaign wants to revisit Condoleezza Rice’s record, they will be entering in to a very dangerous zone.  Rice will be able to defend her record and the Bush record better than anyone else and she will also be able to remind the American electorate that it is President Obama who essentially carried out her policies in Iraq and Afghanistan even though he and his Vice President ran against those policies in 2008.

All things considered, I believe Condoleezza Rice would be the best choice for Romney and while I would certainly be gleeful over the selection of someone like Marco Rubio or even the man whom I believe Romney will ultimately choose, South Dakota Senator John Thune, I can’t help but believe that only Condoleezza Rice can provide the momentum, gravitas, and appeal that Romney will really need if he wants to win the independents, and undecideds who will decide who the next President is.

What do you think?  Cast your vote for Vice President here.

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The Herd: A Look at The Republican Vice Presidential Candidates. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels

Bookmark and Share   The Herd is a special White House 2012 series covering the obvious and not so obvious potential choices to be selected as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate on the Republican presidential ticket.  Each day, White House 2012 will introduce you to one the many Republicans which we believe will be at least considered for for the vice presidency by the now inevitable presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.

In addition to a biographical information and a brief assessement of each potential nominee and their chances of being selected by Mitt Romney, White House 2012′s coverage also includes each potential nominee’s voting records, as well as a listing of their public statements and links to their web sites.

Today White House 2012 takes a look at  Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels

Born: April 7, 1949 (1949-04-07) (age 61), Monongahela, Pennsylvania

Spouse(s): Cheri Lynn Herman Daniels

Children : Meagan, Melissa, Meredith and Margaret

Residence : Governor’s Residence, Indianapolis, Indiana

Alma mater: Princeton University, Georgetown University Law Center

Profession: Businessman (pharmaceuticals)

Political Career :

  • Worked on the unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign of William D. Ruckelshaus.
  • Interned in the office of then-Indianapolis Mayor Richard Lugar.
  • Worked on Lugar’s re-election campaign, joined then Mayor Lugar’s staff and soon became his Chief of Staff.
  • When Lugar was elected to the U.S. Senate, Daniels joined him in Washington as an administrative assistant and eventually as one of his top aides.
  • Daniels went on to become executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee,
  • He was also the campaign manager of three successful Senate campaigns for Richard Lugar.
  • In 1985 Daniels became a part of the Reagan Administration when he became chief political advisor and liaison to President Ronald Reagan.
  • In January 2001, Daniels accepted President George W. Bush’s invitation to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) where He served from January 2001 through June 2003 and in that role after proving to be a real cutter of budgets, he earned the nickname “the Blade”
  • Daniels also served as a member of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council.
  • In 2004 and 2008, Daniels was elected Governor of Indiana.

(Click here for Mitch Daniels’ White House 2012 page)

By all rights, Mitch Daniels should have been the frontrunner, not just for Vice President, but for President. He has sailed Indiana through the tough seas of a terrible national economy and created a state that is one of the three best to do business in and for job creation. He came in to office with an $800 million deficit and by the time he was running for reelection in 2008, that deficit was turned in to a $1.3 billion surplus.

That is one reason why he won his 2008 reelection by an 18% margin. Not a bad margin of victory, especially when you consider the fact that at the same time, while a majority of Indiana voters pulled the lever for Barack Obama for President, Mitch Daniels received more than 20% of the African-American vote for Governor. That is an unusually high percentage of the black vote for any Republican, anywhere. But on top of that, the makeup of Mitch Daniels reelection victory was comprised of 51 percent of the youth vote, 67 percent of the elderly, 57 percent of independent voters and even 24 percent of the Democrats in the state. All of which means that Mitch Daniels has crossover appeal.

And like John Thune, Daniels has that Middle American appeal that can allow him to connect with Midwest voters, including and especially those in his own state of Iowa and neighboring Illinois and even the more important delegate rich state of Ohio.

While this Harley Davidson riding governor is understated and even meek, when he starts talking you know you are dealing with a man who like Newt Gingrich, is the smartest person in the room. But unlike Newt, Mitch Daniels’ homespun, midwestern, charm puts you at ease and makes you realize that while he is smart, he is not an elitists. He’s the type of guy who never forgets that he puts his pants on one leg at a time. While some like John Thune may be considered consistent conservatives, Mitch Daniels is consistent but comes across as more of a commonsense conservative. He has an uncanny dry wit, that will slowly rise and surprise you with a slew of knee-slappers. Mitch is both a policy wonk and people person. And what is probably most important of all is that his area of expertise is in the budget…….the budget that has now reached a crisis level, something which Mitch has repeatedly warned us about.

After coming close to running for President but deciding against it largely due to concerns about the pressure on his family, it is unclear if Mitch Daniels would suddenly believe that the pressure will be any less if he runs for Vice President. But you never know. Combine that with the fact that he would be a balancing force on any ticket, and has the experience and ability to lead our nation in the right direction and what you have is absolutely no reason why Mitch Daniels should not be on anyone’s short list.

Pros:

  • A highly successful, popular two term Governor
  • The favorite son of a state Republicans need to win the 270 electoral votes required to take control of the White House
  • His expertise on the economy and budgets will help dwarf any claim of expertise that the Obama Administration will boast
  • Has great appeal in the all important Midwest region
  • Executive experience
  • Considered a budget hawk
  • Has proven to appeal to African-American voters, even winning a majority of them in his state during the same 2008 election that saw Indiana voters elect Barack Obama President

Cons:

  • Daniels’ marriage, divorce, and remarriage to his wife may be come an issue and the Daniels’ are discouraged to seek higher office because of the lack of privacy that would come with such an office
  • Evangelicals were turned off by remarks Daniels made suggesting that social issues needed to go on to the back burner until we resolved our economic problems
  • Daniels is not a firebrand that typically fires up the forces
  • His position as Budget Director for G.W. Bush will provide the opposition with powerful rhetoric linking the economic downturn to Bush, Daniels and ultimately Romney.

Assessment:

Mitch Daniels is one of my prefered candidates for the job. The only thing that would make him the perfect composite for all that the G.O.P. could want their vice presidential nominee to be would if Mitch Daniels was actually Mitchie Danielsita, a Latina Governor of Florida or Ohio.  But shallow demographics aside, not only is Mitch Daniels one of the most responsible choices a presidential nominee can make, he would be a strong and effective voice on economic matters, and has a way of being able to bridge the political divide without caving on conservative principles. He is a solid, stable figure who is methodical, efficient and innovative.  Despite small pockets of criticism to the contrary, his credentials are impeccable and he is an extremely intelligent and likeable fellow. Mitt Romney may be inclined to pick Daniels for many reasons including his gravitas on the economy, his expertise in matters of budgets and his handling of Indiana’s budget, his strong and consistent anti-abortion record and his political demeanor. But criticism about Daniels comment suggesting that social issues must take a backseat to economic matters, may cause Romney to seek a running mate that could help bolster his own standings among social conservatives who still view Romney with great skepticism. Another hitch in this nearly perfect picture is Mitch Daniels relationship to the Bush Administration.  Having held that position, the left will paint him as the architect of the existing federal budget deficit and economic problem we’re in.  However Daniels served only 29 months as Budget Director and in that time most of the cuts Daniels proposed were not passed by Congress.  Such was the case in 2001.  when he helped craft the Bush tax cuts. At that time , the $2.13 trillion budget that Daniels submitted to Congress included deep cuts in many agencies in order to accommodate for those tax cuts.  But against Daniels’ own judgement, very few of the spending cuts were actually approved by Congress.     But try to explain that to the nation when President Obama is pumping a billion dollars into an effort that tries to deny those facts and to make Mitch Daniels the fall guy.

It’s a close call but if Mitt is not afraid of how the left will try to distort Daniels’ record during his time at OMB, Romney’s proclivity for playing it safe may just make Mitch Daniels his near perfect running mate.  I for one will be ecstatic if Mitt picks Mitch.

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Recent Key Votes

SB 1 – Authorizes the Use of Force Against Law Enforcement Officers in Certain Situations

Legislation (Sign)

March 20, 2012

HB 1269

Legislation (Sign)

March 19, 2012

HB 1149 – Prohibits Smoking in Public Places

Legislation (Sign)

March 19, 2012

More Key Votes

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Mitch Daniels on the Issues

International Issues Domestic Issues Economic Issues Social Issues
Foreign Policy Gun Control Budget & Economy Education
Homeland Security Crime Government Reform Civil Rights
War & Peace Drugs Tax Reform Abortion
Free Trade Health Care Social Security Families & Children
Immigration Technology Corporations Welfare & Poverty
Energy & Oil Environment Jobs Principles & Values

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Trunkline 2012: Tuesday Tidbits From The Republican Presidential Race – 1/24/12

Bookmark and Share Today’s campaign trail news gives us a glimpse at how Billion Buck Barry intends to campaign for President, thoughts on Mitch Daniels’ entry in to the presidential race, news about how Ann Coulter and Chris Christie are sharing bunched panties, and news about Romney pulling even with Gingrich in favorable ratings, Democrats taking charges against Newt too far, and much more.  All in White House 2012’s Trunkline 2012.
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Three Points and a Poem

Paul’s Talking Points Get Stale

I’ve heard some good three point sermons.  In fact, in my youth I traveled with some pretty good preachers.  Occasionally it would be a preacher who used the same three point sermon at every stop.  Eventually, you know it by heart.  That is how I would describe Ron Paul’s campaign.  We saw it on display last night when a question about sugar subsidies came up.  Paul’s answer basically began with “Well, with all the wars out there, and economic turmoil…”  It reminded me of when he was asked about Medicare Part D.  He fell back to one of his three talking points, the wars, the fed, and smaller government.

Now, I like a lot of Paul’s principles.  But where he is overflowing with principles, he is short on plans.  Paul’s record is one of a loud, dead weight.  His padding bills with pork and then voting against them is really no different than Barack Obama abstaining.  Of course, that is just one of the similarities between Paul and Obama.  Another is an invisible record of legislative accomplishment, masked by the ability to get people to scream, hoot, and yell at political rallies (whether it is his rally or not).

Honestly, the young generation and Ron Paul deserve each other.  I know liberal pro-choicers who are supporting Ron Paul.  He has certainly connected on his talking points and has no problem leading a successful altar call.  Most voters might be satisfied with his answer that we need to focus on ending the wars and then worry about the details of domestic policy, or that he needs to study the issue more which was his second answer on sugar subsidies.  For me, that does not instill confidence.

Dude, where’s Mitt Romney?

Calm, smooth, classy, gracious, these are all words I’ve used in the past to describe Mitt Romney debate performances.  There was none of that in the Tampa debate where Romney stuttered and choked his way through all the attacks he had chided his superpac for running just a week ago.  Romney is full speed ahead on the attack, and in the process losing everything voters like me liked about him for so much of this race.  It’s getting so bad that the establishment is looking for a new candidate, like Mitch Daniels, to dust off and toss back in the ring.  Has it occurred to the establishment that maybe they are  part of the problem?

Romney’s attacks made him sound like a desperate candidate who has run out of ideas.  Honestly, it made him sound like Michele Bachmann.

Yes, he can?

In the volatility of the Republican 2012 primary, one thing is for sure.  Calling this race now would be like predicting the Superbowl in September.  How ’bout them Eagles.  Of course, I called the Eagles faltering before the season started.  I’m usually pretty good with my football picks.  So, allow me to apply some of that prophetic magic here.  FYI, this post is not for the faint of heart.  I’m just giving it to you straight.

Romney is all set as the Republican establishment candidate.  He has had that spot locked up really since before Mitch Daniels dropped out of the race.  Now the one stable thing in this race is that Romney will get the establishment vote.  He will also get a lot of mainstream Republican votes.  But he is going to run into a real issue, and that is with the anti-establishment movement within the Republican party.  All that is about to blow wide open this week as the NYT releases a story about opinions among establishment Republicans of the TEA party.  The GOP is about to have a civil war on its hands.  Whether they can recover by next November will be huge in determining whether or not Barack Obama is President in 2013.  Mitt Romney absolutely must nail down his conservative support and soon, or he will lose Iowa, South Carolina and Florida.

Cain's 999 plan could be his undoing

I like Herman Cain a lot.  I think he would make a great Vice President.  I think he would be a star on the campaign trail.  I think he would bring a lot of conservatives to the table and would bring the TEA party and anti-establishment wing to the table.  Here’s the problem: Herman Cain’s 9 9 9 plan sucks.  He would do better to drop that plan completely and advocate a Fairtax, which I also oppose for various reasons you can find here.  But even the Fairtax is better than 9 9 9.  Cain’s 9 9 9 plan has several Achilles’s heels hidden in its simplicity.  Perhaps the worst is the 9% flat tax on corporation’s gross profits minus purchases and dividends.  Unless Cain plans to include payroll with purchases, his 9% flat tax could turn into an effective 99% tax, or even higher, on low margin service industries with high labor costs.  But simplicity and feel good soundbites are what drives the Cain campaign.  Sometimes those soundbites are the common sense we are all thinking, but nobody who represents us is saying.  In those times, I love Herman Cain.  Other times it’s not much better than the soundbites written on a Wall Street mob sign.  Great for riling you up, until you stop and think about it.

Right now, we are watching the French Revolution in the TEA party and anti-establishment wing of the Republican party.  And who can blame them?  I should say, who can blame us.  Our party had the President who initially signed TARP.  Now, of course I don’t think Bush ever imagined TARP would be used to give the treasury secretary ultimate powers to steal companies from their bondholders, sell them overseas and give the proceeds to unions.  But he should have.  Conservative Constitutionalists are praying, quite literally, that we don’t get fooled again.  The result has been the rise and fall of Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and now Herman Cain.  Each time, the anti-establishment establishment is looking for that perfect, conservative candidate that we can get behind and support.

Now, suddenly Newt Gingrich is inching back into the top three.  In fact, while Cain tops out the very volatile state of Florida, Gingrich has hit double digits.  As a matter of fact, Gingrich’s facebook page shows a photo of him on the Drudge Report with a story about how he is still in this.  And he definitely is.

The difference between Newt and the other candidates is that Newt’s laundry has been on the line for years now.  Everyone knows who Newt Gingrich is.  He isn’t going to come out with a plan that sinks his campaign a month from now.  No one is going to learn during a debate about him forcing 12 year old girls to get vaccines for sexually transmitted diseases.  Everyone knows how imperfect his past is.  That’s why he hasn’t been in this race up to now.  And that is why he will be very dangerous if Cain falls on 9 9 9.  Of course, I mean “dangerous” in the best way possible.  Newt versus Mitt with no specter of late arrivals and no more candidates left to shoot up to the top could solidify January’s primaries.

Newt can carry Iowa and South Carolina easily once the other social conservatives lose their votes to him.  Newt was the first in the debates to really highlight how Obama was preventing jobs from coming to South Carolina.  And Iowa will pick the social conservative every time.  In a Newt/Mitt race, it will all be about Florida.

Could the debate in Jacksonville, FL determine the next President of the United States?

On January 26th, Republicans will hold the last GOP debate that matters before the primary.  I know, there will be one in Tampa the night before the primary.  No one is going to change their mind because of the Tampa debate.  It will all come down to January 26th in Jacksonville, Florida.  Mitt Romney versus the TEA party favorite.  The last time the Superbowl was held here, the Patriots won.

Is It Too Late?

Some very wise political analysts wrote that things have changed since 1992 when Bill Clinton got into the race late and managed to win. The need to build a national campaign network, raise money and meet the demands of 24/7 campaigning without making a single mistake are hurdles that put late joiners at a serious disadvantage. Mitt Romney has been raising money, performing in debates, bringing in endorsements and satisfying local political committees necessary for the early primaries. He can do it because he has a network in place to do most of the work for him, leaving him free to focus on interviews, debate prep and meeting with the big donors. Gov. Perry, as a relative late-comer, is floundering by comparison. The overwhelming demands on his time in places he has no network and from people with whom he has no intermediaries have strained his ability to focus on improving his debate abilities. His big lead has slumped and he is at risk of simply fading away. By the time he gets a full national campaign in place, his mistakes may have made him irrelevant. Soon Herman Cain will face the same problems. These were the reasons various pundits said Christie should definitely not get into the race. It was too late, even if he had changed his mind.

But is it too late? Being in early and ahead in the polls is no guarantee of success. The pages of campaign history are littered with the failed campaigns of big names, with national support and early planning. Perhaps the right question is not whether it is too late, but rather is it too soon? It is clearly too late to get into the race and compete against the established campaigns. There is not enough time to get a national campaign up and running effectively between now and the early primaries while simultaneously engaging in frequent televised debates. But, that doesn’t mean it is too late to get into the race at all. It just means it is too early to be a late entrant.

Look at the poll numbers Perry pulled in just due to hype. Christie saw the same, although he ended up not running. Cain made one great debate appearance and his numbers shot up. However, Perry and Cain now have to find a way to sustain that popularity for months before it can translate into votes. Just ask Michele Bachmann how that straw poll victory is treating her now. Frankly, getting in early opens the door to constant attacks by a vengeful media and the inevitable mistake that will get blown out of proportion just to have a news story to report. Romney and Paul are somewhat immune to these problems because they were already attacked in the last election and there just isn’t much new to attack them with. Their names are already out there and they have a base of support in place, so they don’t need the big performance to gain a position in the rankings. They just need to not trip over themselves and wait it out until the primaries get closer and they start spending the piles of money they built up. Everyone else has an uphill battle and has as much to fear from sudden success as from a major mistake.

With so many primaries happening so close together and so early in the year, a late entrant could ride the newcomer media hype to a handful of early victories. Then, by absorbing the staff and network of candidates who are forced to drop out, basically walk into a national campaign with enough time remaining to still effectively raise funds for the general election in November. This would not work for just any random candidate, but there are some big names who stayed out who have the skills, policy knowledge and connections to pull it off if they time it right. A December entry could steal the nomination.

I’m not saying that is what should happen, will happen or would be desirable. It is just that the old logic that there is a time after which a new campaign cannot succeed is very likely no longer valid. Like it or not, the media does manipulate public opinion in elections. Playing the media against itself may be a better strategy than traditional campaigning. After all, then Sen. Obama had nothing to offer on policy or experience, but the media carried him to victory. The media may be generally against conservatives, but they just can’t help themselves from hyping anyone new. Even if the hype is full of negatives, it raises the recognition of that candidate and usually results in a rise in the polls – at least until the hype dies down or the candidate withers under the spotlight.

A well-timed late entrant would face significant challenges, but could play the media hype into a surge in the polls just in time for it to translate into real votes. I’m sure Rick Perry wishes the early primaries had been in August when he was the talk of the town. Had they been, he’d probably be in this against Romney alone instead of falling back into a still crowded pack. The lack of consensus on a candidate and the infighting between them during the debates could be justification enough for one of the big names that decided not to run many months ago (when Obama looked stronger) to reconsider and come in to ‘unify the party against Obama’. While such an entry would never work if it came this month or in November, it could potentially play in December – especially if the field doesn’t slim down between now and then.

Second Thoughts?Who could pull off this last minute capture of the early primaries and the nomination? There are two that immediately come to mind: Haley Barbour and Mitch Daniels. Conversely, two names that couldn’t pull it off are Sarah Palin and Chris Christie. They both bowed out too recently to change their minds so soon. Barbour and Daniels could be ‘drafted’ back in if they plan such an effort. They are not the only ones, but the ones with the best name recognition (Daniels) and existing connections (Barbour) to generate the necessary media hype and channel it into sudden victories. With the voters still divided, no real excitement for the ‘inevitable candidate’ and a compressed primary schedule, there may never be a better time than December to capture the race without having to face the withering pressure of public scrutiny of every minor decision they ever made. With so many of the big names that got out early still sitting silently and not endorsing anyone, one has to wonder if they are pondering the same thing I am. But, only one could pull it off. If two jumped in, they would both lose. If Barbour and Daniels go to dinner, Romney should start to worry.

Haley Barbour Says Mitt Romney is “Less Conservative than Most Republicans”

 Bookmark and Share  In a recent forum discussing political strategy for Republicans and President Obama in the 2012 presidential election, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour spoke about the need for the G.O.P. to make the election a referendum on President Obama’s employment and economic policies, while Democrats will have to try to portray the Republican Party as unacceptable or disqualified. Afterward, he answered questions from John Harris of Politico and the audience.

In one of those questions, Barbour was asked why Republicans seemed to be uninspired by the candidacy of  Mitt Romney despite the fact that he seems to be the most electable candidate in the general election, especially among independent voters.

In his response, Governor Barbour began by stating;

“Mitt is less conservative than most Republicans”

He went on to explain that many Republicans remember Ronald Reagan so, in his words;

“they (Republicans) don’t accept the idea that nominating a moderate is the pathway to victory”

Governor Barbour added that there are a lot of soft Republicans and independents who vote Republican and want a more moderate nominee.  He writes it off as a “process you just have to work through.”

Whether Barbour intended it or not, his opening statement will make for a perfect soundbite in a thirty-second commercial spot for any of Romney’s opponents such as Perry, Cain, Santorum, and Gingrich.  Specifically in the South, where Romney will have some of his toughest primary challenges and where Haley Barbour, the Governor of Mississippi has significant influence.  This is particularly the case in the important early, delegate rich primary state of Florida, where Barbour has significant sway.

Barbour who was himself almost candidate for for President, had been endorsed by Ohio Governor John Kasich, eleven days before Barbour decided not run.  After that decision it was said that Barbour was prepared to join with Chris Christie and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in endorsing Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels for President.  But Daniels, a close friend of Barbour also declined to run for President.

Who Haley Barbour will endorse for the Republican presidential nomination now, is anyones guess.  For the time being, it would seem that he is remaining neutral.  But is Barbour’s description of Mitt Romney as “less conservative than most Republicans” a sign that Mitt is not on Haley’s short list?

If Mitt Romney hopes to avoid a long, drawn out nomination battle, he will need someone like Haley Barbour behind him.   Barbour’s support could help Romney do well in the South, or at least better than expected.  That is the only way to insure that none of his opponents come out of the Southern contests with enough steam and momentum to compete with Romney in the primaries and caucuses held outside of the South, where Romney should be the strongest.  The question now is, will Haley Barbour be willing to endorse a Republican who “is less conservative than most Republicans” for President?

One thing to consider is this.  If anyone has been listening to the candidates, not just reading the media’s interpretations of the candidates, they will find that Mitt Romney has not taken a single position that would indicate he is less conservative than any of the other candidates running.  It comes down to this  ……….. Is anyone listening and if they are, do they believe what Romney is saying?

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Trunkline 2012: Friday’s Campaign Trail News – 9/30/11

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  • Mitt Romney takes on Rick Perry in his own illeghal immigration ad.  See a pattern here?

The 2012 Election Must Be Used to Reestablish the GOP as the Party of Ideas

Bookmark and Share Once the dust has settled and the final field of Republican presidential candidates has emerged, the Republican Party will have the opportunity to capture the nations political attention for anywhere from a good three or four months. The fact that President Obama is unlikely to face any significant challenge to the Democrat Partys presidential nomination in 2012, will to a large degree, give Republicans the stage to themselves. That opportunity is too precious to not take advantage of in significant ways. But for the G.O.P. to make the most of this opportunity, they must be unconventional. Instead of using the long nomination process that Democrats will not be experiencing, to simply have the candidates attend a string of conventional debates, Republicans need to transform those debates into forums that allow the nation to participate in a national discussion of ideas and reforms.

Little more than three decades ago, New York Democrat Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously declared that the G.O.P. had become the Party of ideas. He was correct. Since the early 1960s a growing segment of dissatisfied Republicans were beginning to coalesce around a group of core beliefs..limited government, less taxes, the defense of traditional values and the sanctity of the U.S. Constitution. At a surprisingly early stage in the development of this Republican coalition, they succeeded in dominating the thinking of the G.O.P. by successfully orchestrating the presidential nomination of Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater. In November of 64, President Lyndon Johnsons landslide defeat of Goldwater could have been the end of the beginning for the modern conservative movement. But it was not. Part of the reason for that was Johnsons implementation of liberal extremism with Great Society, big government programs. These acts of government overreach only helped to fuel the energy of the novice Goldwater conservatives. And from then on and into the 1980s, figures like Ohio Congressman John Ashbrook, activists F. Clifton White, William A. Rusher, and many others including later in the game, New York Congressman Jack F. Kemp, fueled the emerging conservative movement with an injection of strong anti-communist postures, a belief in American superiority, and reforms which ranged from the limiting of the federal governments powers, to basing the prosperity of individuals on a tax system that took less but afforded more opportunity through free markets.

By the time Senator Moynihan came to his conclusion about the Republican Party being the Party of ideas, former California Governor Reagan had brought these ideas to the legislative steps of Washington and the conservative movement which was brutally defeated in its first national contest, became the status quo and the modern conservative movement. But thirty years later, that same conservative wave can no longer be considered modern if it runs on the same old ideas. That is why it is time for the contemporary conservative dominated Republican Party to modernize and rejuvenate itself.

For the most part, many of the concepts that were once considered new conservative ideas, have been applied with so much success, that today they have become principles that are taken for granted and even agreed upon by Democrats. So when it comes to things such as the belief that lower taxes empower the people and strengthens our economy, these principles need not be turned away from. Rather they need to be built upon. The success of ideas based on conservative principles, such as Jack Kemps creation of Urban Enterprise Zones, must be expanded upon and applied in new ways to new areas of life in America. The conservative belief that over taxing the rich does not help the poor must be turned in to a coherent policy that is derived through a new innovative tax system. The principle of school choice must finally go from the conceptual stage on some federal drawing board and turned into a legitimate, realistically applied path for states to take advantage of.

By turning his ideas into actual legislative action, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, the Chairman of the House Budget Committee, has set us on the right road with his economic Path to Prosperity. It offers the American people a forceful legislative alternative to the failing application of big government programs. Through a wealth of reform minded ideas, Ryans plan goes beyond rhetorical vision and provides us with substantive options for the way we govern.

Ryans example needs to be followed by all those who are running in the 2012 race for the Republican presidential nomination.

The rejuvenation of the G.O.P. and its ability to continue to be the Party of ideas, can not occur through the use of the normal format that has come to typify todays modern presidential debates. Such forums only allow for the type of simplistic, tabloid soundbites that merely serve to echo some sort of shallow, pseudo-populism. Instead, the G.O.P. needs to recapture the inspirational intellectualism of innovative ideas that it had prior to the mid 1980s. And one of the fastest ways to begin this process, or at least create this impression, is for our candidates to come forward with more than just issue positions but precise programs.

The time has come for our Party to move the government reform discussions of the last three decades to the launching pad. Let us take talk about true tax reform and take it from the drawing board to the Presidents desk. Instead of talk about tinkering with the existing, arcane, tax code by lowering tax rates for all or just for some, let us present plans to scrap it and adopt a new, and fair tax code that is equitable and related to economic growth and greater opportunity. On this front, Herman Cain has taken the lead. Although I disagree with his particular suggestion of a national sales tax, I give him credit for coming forward with the fortitude and courage to approach an old issue in a new way, and to create a debate that as the Party of ideas, the G.O.P. needs to be in the forefront of.

This lead should be followed by the likes of Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich and others like Mitch Daniels and Sarah Palin, if they too enter the race. But beyond the need for the individual candidates to utilize the political center stage that the G.O.P.s 2012 nomination contest will provide them with, the time should also be used to specifically devote time to the driving conservative convictions that are at the heart of the G.O.P.. It would behoove conservatives to take advantage of the national election process by a string of debates that are sponsored in conjunction with, or directly by, the Republican National Committee. These prime time events should be designed to give the Republican candidates an opportunity to prove their understanding and conviction to our core conservative beliefs.

In addition to the usual debates, let there be four debates specifically designed to discuss the issues of:

  1. Limited Government and lower taxation
  2. Peace Through Strength
  3. Freedom and Personal Responsibility, and
  4. The American Free Market

Such debates can help articulate and define the message that is behind conservatism and demonstrate the type of intellectual seriousness that can inspire many just as it did during the early days of the movements evolution. These forums can take those who up to now, have had only the most abstract and detached understanding of what conservative thinking represents and promote a better understanding for the reasoning behind Republican thinking. Such forums will also give true conservatives the opportunity to get a feel for which Republican candidate has the best and most sincere understanding of conservatism.

Elections are only as valuable as the candidates involved in them, make them. For Republicans, the process to nominate our standard bearer could and should be used by the presidential candidates to do more than promote themselves. It should be used to advance the conservative thinking that they are suppose to be representative of. If they are willing to do that in a contest of ideas rather than just soem stump speech-like recitation of policy positions, and during a discussion of the future role of conservatism in America, then and only then will this election be profound enough to effect not only the next four years, but the next few generations.

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Daniels-Rice 2012? Not a Smart Answer at This Stage In The Game

Bookmark and Share After his wife gave the keynote address at an Indiana Republican State Party fundraiser, Governor Daniels accepted an invitation for drinks with 55 members of the highly active Students for Daniels presidential draft effort. The casual sit down took place at a bar several blocks away from the Marriot location where the state G.O.P. dinner was held.

The get together featured one on one conversations with members of the group and the main topic of discussion prompted by the Governor consisted mainly of hearing about what the college students plans for their own futures were. But it was reported by the conservative outlet The Weekly Standard that one student asked the Governor who he would lean towards selecting as a Vice President. Stipulating that his answer was only hypothetical, he offered up the name of former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice as someone whom he wouldlike to pick.

While certainly not a declaration of who he would pick as his running mate if he were to run for and win the Republican presidential nomination, the choice affords us a positive glimpse of the Governors strategic political thinking and an indication of an instinct that does not bode well for his relationship with the conservative base of the Party that is needed to win the nomination.

On the political and strategic fronts, the most telling aspect about Daniels off the cuff favoritism of Condi Rice as a running mate, is a clear indication of Mitch Daniels continued close ties to the former political organization of President George W. Bush and that Mitch Daniels is concerned about his own lack of foreign affairs credentials. Apparently while Daniels is quite confident in his ability to win people over on matters of the budget and the economy, he is well aware of the need to establish an overall ability to cover all the bases if he became the Republican candidate for President. The addition of Condoleeza Rice to a Daniels candidacy would certainly go a long way in bringing the type of foreign affairs credentials that can compensate for any perceived lack experience that Daniels might have in that area.

But as much as a Rice vice presidency might help Daniels to cover all the bases in a general election for President, among Republicans, her selection would also become explosively divisive. On Rices supposed strong suit, foreign affairs and national security, many conservatives, particularly neo-conservatives, claim that as Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice opposed the surge in Iraq that ultimately turned our effort there around for the better. But at the same time, Rice was a proponent of the Clear, Hold, Build, Strategy in Iraq that Secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush opposed. In the end it was this strategy which proved to be the key to the successful use of those deployed in the surge

While neo-cons will have a mixed argument for and against Rice, social conservatives will be less divided in their opposition to her. For social-conservatives, Rice has gone on record with a position on abortion that they view as unacceptably pro-choice. While she holds her own personal opposition to abortion, she states that she is uncomfortable with the federal government being involved in the issue, however she does support parental consent and opposes the practice of late term abortions. Still, this will not satisfy the hardcore movement conservatives who already doubt Daniels commitment to traditional conservative positions on social issues.

This is something which if Daniels did become the presidential nominee, would erupt into very public disruptive divisions at the Republican national convention. And no matter how it was handled at the convention and in the days to follow, the selection of a pro-choice Vice President and the aggressive opposition to such a decision would dominate headlines and overwhelm the very economic issues that Mitch Daniels could win the election on, by relegating them to obscurity. Although the media frenzy that would ensue upon the creation of a such a deep division within the G.O.P. would eventually die down, it would still successfully halt any momentum coming out of the convention and ultimately, on Election Day, leave a small but significant number of conservatives staying at home and not voting, or voting for a third Party candidate.

At the same time, the selection of a pro-choice Vice President on the Republican ticket will not persuade any pro-choice Democrats or Independents to vote Republican.

Of course it is very possible that Condoleeza Rice could change her position and decide that the government should be involved in the issue of life. Mitt Romney did. That would not necessarily make Right-to-Life voters support Rice for Vice President, but it would do much to prevent them from opposing her having the number two spot on the ticket.

Either way, what is most important to understand here, is that Mitch Daniels made a big mistake by answering the question about who he would hypothetically like to pick as his running mate. The issue is one that is totally inappropriate as a topic of discussion for someone who has supposedly not yet made a decision about whether or not they will even be in a position to select a running mate. And in the case of Mitch Daniels specifically, after all the skepticism that his remark about having a truce on social issues produced among the conservative base of the G.O.P., to inject the controversy of a pro-choice running mate into the primary debate, was a horrible political misstep.

As a conservative who hopes that Mitch Daniels can prove himself in an open and honest debate and contest for our support, I know that Mitch Daniels is conservative both fiscally and socially. His record speaks much louder than any words do. The last people in the world that have been placated or pleased by the decisions Mitch Daniels made, are those of the likes of Planned Parenthood, NARAL, or big unions. On social issues, he has been one of the most reliable and productive leaders that conservatives have. But it is the perception created by a twisting of his words which makes any campaign by him for the support of the social conservatives, an uphill battle. In my estimation, Mitch Daniels can certainly overcome any steep hills, but he need not unnecessarily burden himself with baggage that will make his climb to the top of the mountain a longer and harder process. Affording the opportunity to let slip that a pro-choice running mate is your preferred choice for a running mate did not make things any easier and was totally unnecessary.

Not only do we not know how much serious consideration Daniels gave to his response to the question of who he would pick for Vice President, no one even knows if Condoleeza Rice would willingly allow herself to be considered for the position.

But now, it doesnt matter. Like it or not, this casual but private, hypothetical answer to a hypothetical question, will come up again, and again, and again. By answering the question, Daniels just injected Condoleeza Rice in to the 2012 presidential election, and he did so at a time, and in a way that wont help him much.

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Handling of Cheri Daniels Speech is Quite Telling About Governor Daniels’ Decision

Bookmark and Share Over 1,100 Republican activists crammed the Indianapolis Marriot for an annual G.O.P. fundraiser that featured Indiana First Lady Cheri Daniels as the keynote speaker. The mere fact that Cheri Daniels accepted such an engagement fueled speculation about the likelihood of her husband, Governor Mitch Daniels, leaning towards a run for President.

Cheri Daniels’ 6 year tenure as Indianas First Lady has been marked by her reluctance towards participating in major public appearances. While she has been an active First Lady who has spearheaded literacy efforts, promoted volunteerism, and religiously participated in Indiana traditions like it state fair, the political spotlight is something that she has shied away from. Given that history, with about a year left to her husbands term limited tenure as Governor, Cheris delivery of a speech at a major, purely partisan political event, seemed uncharacteristic of someone getting ready to retire to private life.

But despite the suspicion stirred by her accepting to give the keynote address at the State G.O.P. fundraiser, as promised by the Daniels camp, the speech itself did not give any hints about what Governor Daniels has described as his familys decision to run for President. Keeping in her nature, Cheri Daniels delivered a purely non-political speech that took listeners on a tour of everyday life in Indiana as seen through her eyes.

Prior to that verbal tour, to chants of Run Mitch, Run, amid a sea of green and white signs that read the same and were being waved with frantic enthusiasm, Governor Daniels took to the stage to introduce his wife. In his remarks, he stated that despite the expectations of others, they would not be hearing any news on the presidential front. The same point was mentioned by Mrs. Daniels in her own opening remarks as she indicated that those who were in attendance for such a reason, would be terribly disappointed.

Still though, as the evening unfolded, the question of whether or not Governor Daniels will run for President was the ever present elephant in the room and by nights end, that elephant only grew bigger with the Daniels camps aggressive attempts to avoid the question. As seen in the video report below, members of the Governors staff stopped short of using physical force to dissuade reporters from asking Cheri Daniels any questions about the Governors decision.

This strong handed approach to avoiding the question raises a methinks thou doth protest too much syndrome that is indicative of the intention to eventually carry out a well designed announcement and roll out of a presidential candidacy.

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Why Doesn’t Rush Like Daniels?

Rush Limbaugh has had his finger on the pulse of mainstream conservatism and mainstream media for decades. When the media said only McCain could beat Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, Rush was sounding the alarm. So why is Rush now sounding the alarm on Mitch Daniels?

Daniels has received some pretty glowing endorsements, or as glowing as a Republican can get, from the Washington Post and others. He has been described as the candidate in 2012 who has a serious shot at beating Obama. No doubt, Rush is hearing echos of the media love McCain received right up until the end of the 2012 primary.

Best hope of the Right? Or the Left?

In many ways, Daniels has brought this on himself. Instead of going to CPAC and announcing that if a bill cutting off all abortion funding came across his desk he’d sign it, Daniels appealed to fiscal conservatives across the country calling on a truce on social issues so that we could solve our debt crisis. When he did sign the bill banning funding even for Planned Parenthood in Indiana, for the most part it was ignored by the media. When Obama was being praised for killing Osama Bin Laden and Daniels was taking questions on Obama’s foreign policy, Daniels admitted he wasn’t ready to debate Obama on foreign policy.

Remember when McCain said the economy was not his strong suit? Trust me, if Obama has his way the economy will not be a debate topic in 2012. Foreign policy will be. By continuing Bush’s foreign policies, Obama has found something he can campaign successfully on. By wavering on foreign policy, Daniels is certainly not setting himself up as the candidate who can beat Obama.

On the other hand, Daniels has been slowly and methodically implementing his very conservative (both socially and fiscally) agenda in Indiana. After cooling off a showdown with unions in Indiana when Democrats walked out, Daniels has quietly passed many of the same provisions including limiting teacher’s union negotiating to wages and wage related benefits. Compared to the messy protests in Scott Walker’s state over the issues, Daniels is enjoying anonymity in his war on public unions. Indiana has been one of the few fiscally sound states under Mitch Daniels.

Perhaps Daniels would be a great conservative President. It’s difficult to tell at this point if he is a silent leader who could change our country for the better, or if he represents everything that was wrong with McCain, Thompson, Guiliani and the rest of the 2008 Republican class.

Airtime for the backups

Aside from Tim Pawlenty, going into last night’s debate I think most pundits considered these to be second tier candidates. After last night, I will admit that the perception that most of these candidates don’t have a viable shot probably hasn’t changed. However, there were clear winners and clear losers. Here is my take on the debate, which at times will be blunt and harshly honest:

Tim Pawlenty

Pawlenty demonstrated why he is a top tier candidate. He was professional, studied, and Presidential. He took clean shots at Obama and did not make missteps. However, his answer to Cap and Trade may come across to the base as a weak answer. Cap and Trade is already widely unpopular with the TEA party and conservative right. It is almost as unpopular as humbling yourself before the media and admitting a mistake. I think it was the best answer Pawlenty could give, but it highlighted that unfortunate decision to initially support Cap and Trade. Pawlenty’s other disadvantage coming into last night was that everyone expected a polished performance. He will be judged at a higher standard. I was pleased to see Pawlenty show some charisma and get the crowd motivated. However, when it came to charisma, Pawlenty was not the candidate who stole the show.

Herman Cain

Cain provided the night with a dose of Donald Trump charisma mixed with Sean Hannity conservatism. Cain was unequivocal and commanded the stage. He was a crowd pleaser who handled each question without a gaffe or misstep. I think Cain’s performance brought many conservatives to believe that he could be the conservative answer to the straightforward, no nonsense approach that Trump had become so popular for. My prediction is that we will begin to see Trump wane in popularity now that the birther issue has run its course and Cain stands to benefit. We will see if Cain can capitalize on his performance.

If Cain’s popularity does grow, he will need to find answers to a lot of questions on issues that have not seen the light of the mainstream media yet. For example, Cain defended his support of the Fairtax by mentioning the concept of a “prebate” paid to every family at the beginning of the month for essentials. But is Cain prepared to face scrutiny on the prebate idea? The IRS paid out billions in fraudulent stimulus checks as a one time deal. Kiplinger says that the IRS estimates that 25% of earned income credit payouts were incorrect and fraudulent. Can the government cut a check to every family in America at the beginning of every month without an Internal Revenue Service, individual tax returns, and massive fraud? Also, getting rid of the IRS sounds nice, but who is going to make sure businesses remit the fairtax and prebates are paid out without a revenue department in the government? Perhaps we will see in the course of this primary if Cain is running on answers or populism.

Rick Santorum

Santorum did a good job as a whole, and will appeal to the same conservatives that Bush appealed to. The question is if Santorum can position himself as more likely to win than Obama. Santorum’s message resonates with social conservatives, and he made it clear last night that his message hasn’t changed. Will conservatives vote for Santorum? While presenting himself as a solid candidate, he did not say anything last night that distinguished himself or rocketed him into the top tier. Santorum’s win for the night was the fact that he showed up, while Gingrich, Huckabee and others did not. But he is still overshadowed by other conservative heavyweights, including Gingrich, Bachmann, Huckabee, and now Cain.

Ron Paul

Paul hasn’t changed since 2008. While he says many things that make sense to conservative constitutionalists and libertarian Republicans, Paul still comes across as the enemy of all things Democrat and Republican. This is great for wooing independents and libertarians, but will not win Paul the Republican primary. For most of the night, I felt myself agreeing with and cheering Paul, but he will once again be the martyr of the protectionist, states rights conservatives. They understand what Paul is saying, they just can’t figure out why non-Paul Republicans don’t. Here’s a hint, Ron Paul still comes across as abrasive, obnoxious, and anti-Republican. This man could be President if he could figure out how to sell himself and explain why what he believes would actually work. I spent a good part of the evening asking myself why Republicans don’t support Ron Paul, but the answer is the same as last time he ran. He is an uncompromising and radical philosopher campaigning in a world of soundbites, and soundbites are not kind to Ron Paul.

Gary Johnson

Picture a more abrasive and whiny version of Ron Paul, but without the name recognition. With Ron Paul in the race, who needs Gary Johnson? He did not distinguish himself, except to come down on the traditionally liberal side of Iraq, Afghanistan (supported it before he was against it), and drugs. His “cost/benefit” approach to drug legalization portrayed a dollars above principles approach to policy. Whether his views on the cost benefit of the war on drugs are right or wrong, such a calloused approach to a moral question will not win him a conservative majority. Johnson only made matters worse by dismissing the conservative majority in the Republican party as unnecessary in the primary and guaranteed to be loyal in the general election. He should ask John McCain if Republicans need social conservatives to defeat Obama.

Johnson’s moment of charisma showed itself in the form of scolding the moderators for not asking him enough questions, a move that screams “I am unpolished, second tier, and everyone knows it but me”. He will find his frustrations at not being taken seriously will continue to grow, mainly because he is not a serious candidate.

Summary

After last night, I think Herman Cain moved up, Santorum, Paul and Pawlenty remained unchanged, and Johnson moved down. Gingrich was probably hurt the most by not showing up, Romney was hurt the least. Gingrich could have used the exposure and chance to showcase his debate skills. Romney sofar has seemed to transcend any primary activity in early polls as an assumed front runner by most whether he shows up or not. Mitch Daniels was probably the most unfairly represented absentee at the debate itself. In the end, the only lasting effects of this debate will be a bump for Herman Cain.

Mitch Daniels Makes a Point To President Obama?

Bookmark and Share Before President Obama delivered a speech in Indiana, on the economy, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels caught up with the President as he got off of Air Force 1.

It is not yet been disclosed what the two men, and possibly two opponents for the presidency in 2012 spoke about and we’ll probably never know. The standard answer to that question in politics is “I will not discuss the private conversations I have with someone”.But in what was either a stroke of genius on the part of Governor Daniels or just a perfectly timed stroke of luck for him, an AP photographer snapped a shot of the two engaged in conversation, that implies a thousand strong words for a potential Daniels campaign. As seen below, the photo gives the impression of a confident man sending a strong message to the President. It can almost be construed as though Daniels is “setting the President straight” on something.

Photos by Charles Dharapak/AP

From the smile on the Presidents face, I am sure Mitch Daniels was not being in anyway disrespectful or out of line. Knowing the nature of Daniels, he was probably telling him a joke that was only enhanced by the pointing finger. But Mitch Daniels is quite a shrewd man and he knew that many highly publicized photos would come from this briefmeet and greet. As such, Daniels may have quite intentionally created a situation where his finger in the Presidents face was perfectly natural and appropriate in regards to the discussion he was having . But at the same time, he knew that the image of that one moment in time, could help create the impression of a man who is not afraid to speak his mind and set the President straight, something which many Republican primary and caucus would love to do themselves.

Whether the finger pointing gesture was designed or not, the image speaks louder than words, even if we dont really know what the image is really a reflection of. In many ways this seemingly innocuous image could become one of those totally unexpected turning points.

Who could forget this image:

This picturewas taken during a photo-op that the Dukakis campaign intended to use in order to convey the Massachusetts Governors military gravitas. But its actual translation wound up creating a clown-like impression that made it seem like Dukakis could not be taken seriously as a Commander-in-Chief.

Images that happened to have been caught at just the right moment, have helped to change the course of many events in history, be they intentional or accidental. So I would not just write off this photo of Mitch Daniels addressing the President. Eventually, be it by design of a future Daniels presidential campaign, or through a proliferation of its reproduction in the blogosphere, this picture could at some point be responsible for sealing just the right image of Daniels in the minds of Republican votersand possiblymake the difference in who they nominate to run for President.

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Mitch Daniels Makes The Right Decision

Update: Indiana is the first state in the union to officially ban funding not only for abortions, but for abortion providers. Recognizing the abortion funding shell game, Daniels signed the Indiana bill even though it did not need his signature to pass. The bill also requires abortion doctors to explain fetal pain to expecting mothers before they go through with the procedure to kill their unborn child.

This was not an easy bill for a politician to sign. I wrote last week about how Daniels had declared a social truce at CPAC leaving doubts as to whether he would sign such a contentious bill. In the end, Daniels decided to leave his mark on the abortion debate and through his actions assured conservatives that he is on our side.

Daniels’ hardline on abortion has received little media play, drowned by Bin Laden’s demise. But in 2012, this decision is sure to make waves. For purposes of the primary, Daniels chances have just drastically improved. While already being a strong fiscal conservative, Daniels has just shown that he can be the candidate of social conservatives too.

Will the Killing of bin Laden, Effect Mitch Daniels’ Decision to Run for President?

Bookmark and Share Although the recent events that led to the execution of Osama bin Laden are likely to postpone any announcement to run, they do not seem to have become a factor in Mitch Daniels’decision itself. In fact, the Indiana Governor isdefinitely still seriously considering a run for President and he is doing so in a way that is bit more obvious than in the past. During a Tuesday morning interview with Fox News, Daniels admitted to recently discussing the issue with former President George W. Bush, but he refused to divulge the details of that discussion.

In the same Fox interview, when asked if he would like to run, Daniels responded;

“Would I like to? No,” . “What sane person would like to? I’m not one of those peoplethat sat around scheming and dreaming [about running for President]. I’ve agreed at the behest of a lot of people to give it some thought.”

Daniels is a rather humble and understated gentleman. That being the case, it is more than likely true that he has not spent his adult life cutting throats and stabbing people in the back in an attempt to climb the political ladder of power. He has also probably not been carrying out his gubernatorial agenda in Indiana around the desire to craft a perfect platform to launch a presidential candidacy from. In other words, Mitch Daniels has been quite sincere in his politics. He has stood for what he believes in and what is best for the people of his state. Such sincerity is admirable and even desired. But does such sincerity allow one to be elected President?.

As noted by Governor Daniels close friend, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, you must have a real fire in the belly to run for President. Barbour claimed that he was unsure that he had a big enough fire in his belly to go for it himself. And by all indications, Mitch Daniels does not either. He openly admits that running for President is not a passion of his.

YetDaniels sincere passion for the issues still allows him to continue to contemplate a presidential run. He has made it clear that if the G.O.P. field lacks a candidate that he believes can address, prioritize, and advance the solutions to our dire debt and economic problems, that would force him to run. So the question becomes what factors would qualify for determining thatall the existing potential candidates lack the ability to address our economic problems? One must also ask that if he is still considering a run for President, does that mean that he is convinced that other likely and possible candidates such as Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and others cannot properly address these problems? Or is he simply not convinced that any of these names can beat President Obama?

If Mitch Daniels is anything, he is a realist and as realist, his decision is more than likely a mix of both his sincere passion for the issues, along with politics. This is why he is consulting with people like former President Bush. Daniels must decide if what he brings to table canfill any needed voids and if he and his leadershipqualities can catch on to the type of popular enthusiasm that will allow him to consolidate the Republican base, and enough ofthe generalelectorate, to be not only competitive, but to win. Daniels character and apparent hesitance to run makes it painfully obvious that he does not want to run simply for any fame or fortunes. He is not considering a run to make a specific point or for the purpose of insuring that his name is considered for a cabinetposition in the next presidential Administration. It is clear that Daniels will only run if he is quite confident in his ability to not only win the Republican presidential nomination, but to win the presidency as well.

Given that Mitch Daniels has, out of fairness to his supporters, promised to make his decision sooner rather than later, the current indifference concerning the evolving Republican presidential field makes it quite possible for him to automatically become a frontrunner with strong odds for success. So between timing and the criteria he has set for a presidential candidacy of his own, the likelihood of Daniels presidential campaign seems quite good at the moment. However if such a decision to run is going to be announced anytime soon, it is not likely to occur this week when he makes a major speech on education at American Universityon Wednesday.

To announce that one will try to eventually oppose President Obama during a week when the nation is euphoric over President Obamas single greatest, bipartisan, achievementthe capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, would be an indication of a severe lack of good political instincts. If Daniels is to make announcement any this week, it would be to declare himself to not be a candidate for President. Anything other than that would be extremely poor timing. This week, politics is owned by President Obamas and the issue that makes it his, deserves to play itself out before we return to blatant partisan politics. For this reason, if Mitch Daniels has not yet made up his mind, he has more time to do so.And even if he hascome to adecision, do not expect it to be announced for another two or three weeks.

I personally believe Mitch Daniels will run. If he does not intend to run and knows it, he has nothing to gain from postponing the announcement of that decision. And within the self-imposed timeframe he has made to announce a decision, there remain few factors or conditions that could change the criteria which has caused Daniels to still continue consider a run for the presidency.

That, in addition to the promise of his candidacy gives me hope. The G.O.P. and the nation will only benefit from his candidacy. While there are in fact a number of competent and even promising candidates, the addition of Mitch Daniels in to the contest will force an intense debate on the issue that poses a greater threat to our nation than terrorism had. Our national debt is so severe that it has seeped its way in to therealm of national security . And it is on our national debt and the budget and economy that revolve around it, that Mitch Daniels is of the stature that makes him a leading national voice. For that reason, his input in the presidential election process is quite valuable.

But beyond that, the very qualities that may make Mitch Daniels an unlikely presidential candidate, are the same qualities which may make him the perfect person to run against Barack Obama. Unlike Obama, Mitch Daniels has not plotted a path to the White House all his life. He has not spent years of basing decisions and votes on positioning himself for higher office. He has not carried out his responsibilities, bethey as an aide to Ronald Reagan, as a national budget director, or as a Governor, for the purpose of obtaining the spotlight and getting national attention. Instead he has a lifetime record of committing himself to his beliefs and responsibilities, and doing a good job for the sake of the people he does the job for. Mitch Daniels lack of drive for self-promotion is uncharacteristic for a politician, but it is also the sign of a needed quality that many of our political leaders lack ..sincerity.

Mitch Daniels sincerity may just prove to be his most attractive quality as a candidate. He puts the issues before himself and brings more substance than flash to the table. Yet he has a capacity to appeal to people by connecting to them through his vision, his confidence, and a down-to-earth mannerism which makes people comfortable with him. Indeed these are the very qualities which allowed him to win a landslide reelection in Indiana. That despite the fact that his 2008 reelection as Governor occurred during a very anti-Republican year and in a state that went for President Obama at the top of the ticket.

All of this makes Mitch Daniels the true anti-Obama and if President Obama and his policies remain as unpopular as they have been till now, nominating a candidate that contrasts President Obama in as many ways as possible, may be the best way for the G.O.P. to go.

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Draft (fill in name here) for President

Bookmark and ShareAs the Republican presidentialcontest begins to sort out who is running and who isnt running, public anxiety over who can actually be a viable candidate to run against President Obama, mounts. At the moment, there is a great deal of chatter about how the G.O.P. has no one who can mount a credible challenge to President Obama in 2012. Such an assertion is ludicrous, but natural. Without any single name to naturally gravitate towards as the logical leader and face of the opposition to the President, it is easy to believe that misconception. But it is important to remember that recent history shows us that the existence of an undeniably obvious nominee for the Party opposing an incumbent President is rare.

While there are always names that may seem to have the inside track for the nomination, at this early stage in the game, you usually do not have a name that is the clear frontrunner and logical candidate to lineup behind.That’s the case for republicans right now.And it is that sentiment which has forced many who are opposed to a second term for President Obama,to goon the hunt for the perfect candidate. Such pre-primary activity is a natural manifestation of the desire to insure that the incumbent President is not reelected. History has been laced with efforts to draft popular figures to run for the Oval Office.

Perhaps the most famous and one of the only truly successful draft efforts in American electoral history was that of General Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952. That effort actually began in 1948 when Democrats believed that President Harry S. Truman had no chance of getting elected. An active duty General, Ike had believed in being non-partisan when it came to politics, so for Democrats, having him carry their mantle was quite possible. And when it seemed as though Republicans might nominate General Douglas MacArthur as their candidate for President, Harry Truman himself offered to run as Eisenhowers vice presidential running mate if he would accept the Democrat Partys nomination.

Four years later Republicans who had not held the White House in twenty years and Democrats who had noincumbent to run for reelection for the first time in 16 years, clamored for a nominee who could easily win the presidency in 1952. Republican standard-bearerThomas Dewy had been the Partys nominee twice and twice he was defeated. As a result, Dewey was not inclined to run for a third time and Republicans were not inclined to let him run as their nominee again. But Governor Dewey and Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot Lodge worked to persuade Eisenhower to run for the Republican presidential nomination through an organization called “National Citizens for Eisenhower”. Up till then, the closest name that Republicans had to a frontrunner was Robert Taft.

Senator Robert Taft

Taft was the establishment’s choice, but a schism between isolationist Republicans, represented by Taft, and internationalist Republicans who wanted someone else, gave the draft Eisenhower movement much momentum. At the same time, the spread of Communism was an issue of most importance and it was the one issue most responsible for Eisenhowers willingness to accept a run for the White House.

Ike believed in the use of diplomacy to contain the red menace in Europe. But Taft had a McCarthy-like belief in weeding out subversion at home. Things finally came to a head behind closed doors when Eisenhower told Taft that he would absolutely refuse to run if Taft agreed to collective security of Europe. But Senator Taft refused and so Ike allowed the draft movement to proceed. He also decided that if he would accept any nomination it would be the Republican nomination. This he determined when he realized that he was not in synch with the Democrats big, central government, liberty eroding approach to all the issues facing the nation.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower

By early January of 1952, Eisenhower made it clear that if he was offered the Republican presidential nomination, he would accept it. And so without Eisenhower even knowing, Henry Cabot Lodge placed Eisenhowers name on the New Hampshire Republican Primary ballot. But Eisenhower still did not campaign. In fact he told people that he did not believe that support for him was a popular as many tried to claim.

Then in February, a Draft Eisenhower for President rally was held in New Yorks Madison Square Garden. The event was expected to draw a whopping 16,000 people to it. But those projections were wrong. An overwhelming 25,000 people showed up. A month later, General Eisenhower won every single delegate in the New Hampshire primary as he defeated Robert Taft by 50% to 38%. The rest is history.

The next closest example of a draft effort, came in 1964. The effort itself though, actually began in 1961.

With the defeat of Nixon in 1960, the Republican Party began its long, contemporary evolution towards the right. The leaders of the Republican Eastern establishment seemed to have exhausted its hold on to the type of influence it had been wielding. And at the same time a growing number of conservatives were beginning to organize. These numbers first took root within the ranks of the National and State Young Republican organizations. but while all this was happening, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater began serving as the Chairman of the Republican Senate Re-elect Committee. In this position he traveled thousands of miles, spoke before tens of thousands of people and quickly became the most popular face of the growing conservative movement.

By the time 1961 approached, with no clear choice for the 1964 Republican Presidential nomination, Conservatives itching to take the Party over from the liberal establishment, began to organize and think about who their candidate for President would be. Among a small group of political insiders, the consensus was Barry Goldwater. But Goldwater refused to run. He did not believe that he could win and he did not want his family exposed to the rigors of such a national campaign.

Then in June of 1961 Time magazine placed Goldwaters picture on their cover and did a story on his growing national popularity. They wrote;

“Goldwater is the hottest political figure this side of Jack Kennedy…. No Republican is more in demand. Since March, Goldwater’s Washington office has received more than 650 written invitations for the Senator to put in an appearance, plus hundreds of telephone requests. Goldwater’s mail runs to a remarkable 800 pieces a day…[and] visitors crowd around Barry Goldwater’s fourth floor suite in the Old Senate Office Building hoping to earn a passing hand clasp or a hastily scrawled autograph.”

This added to the motivation that a small group of activists already had. F. Clifton White, William A. Rusher, and Ohio Congressman John M. Ashbrook, began a process that combined tens of thousands of conservative contacts and began to organize a process that would get them in to Republican Party leadership positions. The most important of these positions were those of delegates to the 1964 Republican National Convention. This behind the scenes, group of three, eventually became a group of 22 and continued to grow from there. Soon it became known as the Suite 3505 Committee. 3505 being the address number of its New York City office.

Congressman John Ashbrook

After intense networking of Young Republicans, women s groups, and conservative oriented voters of all kinds, the expanded executive committee of this group concluded that Barry Goldwater was their only real choice for President in 64. But Goldwater still rejected the notion. So the committee quickly became an official draft organization that would seek to force Goldwater to run. It expanded and created state committees and between petitions, publicity and aggressive persuasion, Barry Goldwater decided on November 20, 1963 to run for the Republican presidential nomination.

Two days later, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. This changed everything. Kennedy was a friend of Goldwater and the two had come to look forward to a sincere campaign that would test their ideologies. Goldwater also knew that with President Johnson now as his opponent, his own Southern base would be undermined. Two weeks after President Kennedy was assassinated, Goldwater announced that he would not be a candidate. However, The draft movement that had been in place never stopped and on December 11th, 1964, with polls showing Goldwater to be the clear frontrunner for the Republican nomination, he reentered the race.

Both of these draft movements teach us lessons that are relevant to todays approaching presidential election.

The draft efforts of 1952 and 1964 were both successful in getting the person they intended nominated. But both campaigns involved figures who had some sort ofundeniablyobviouspopularity. For Eisenhower it was popularity among the general population. For Goldwater, it was popularity among a growing movement within the population. Each provided momentum but equally as important, each had a candidate that was at some point in time willing to run. So the question is, can a successful draft effort be waged for the 2012 election?

It is clear that the G.O.P. is not in a position to use 1952 as a model. There is no single figure who is as popular among both Democrats and Republicans as Eisenhower was. But there are some parallels to 2012 that can be drawn from the 1964 draft Goldwater effort. Here we have a comparison that can be made between the emergence of the Conservative wing of the G.O.P. in the 60s, and the rise of the TEA Party movement of the past two years.

But there are two important distinguishing factors that come with this comparison.

The organization of the Conservatives movement in the 1960s involved coordination from within the political establishment, four years before the next presidential election. This allowed for an expedited path to organizing the movements ability to takeover the Party from within and, to elect Party officials and delegates to the National Convention. The TEA Party began on the outside of the establishment and even though it now has a few of its own on the inside, they have much less time to organize than did the effort of 1960. But perhaps the most important of all differences is that unlike the case with Conservatives in 64, the TEA movement has no one person that it is solidly behind. In 64 the Conservative movement had Barry Goldwater as their clear favorite, the consensus candidate. The Taxed Enough Already movement lacks that clear consensus choice. Is it Sarah Palin? Is it Michele Bachmann, Donald Trump, Herman Cain, Allen West, Marco Rubio, or someone else?

Sarah Palin is the one contender with whom a draft movement could possibly be most successful. But even if all the right pieces were to fall into place and a successful 1964-like Barry Goldwater draft effort helped make Sarah Palin the Republican presidential nominee, that draft model failed to win the general election.

Draft efforts that are based only upon movements within a particular segment of society are able to influence the smaller electorate of partisan politics, but they have less of a chance to influence the vast majority of the larger electorate as a whole. This is not to say that the TEA Party movement cant influence the nomination of a Republican candidate that can win the presidential election. They can. But that influence can not come through a draft effort that labels the nominee as the TEA Party candidate. Just as it did not work when Goldwater was labeled the Conservatives candidate. Being a conservative candidate and being the Conservatives candidate create two vastly differently images. The latter is a direct negative connotation implying that one is owned by a particular group. The former indicates ones own sense of conviction. It may be shared with others, but it is not owned by others.

Probably one of the most successful draft campaigns that Republicans could run is one which seeks to make General David Petraeus our nominee. Like Eisenhower he is not seen as particularly partisan, he is not viewed as being owned by any Party or movement, and at a time when our nation is waging one war, possibly getting involved in another, and winding another one down, the choice of a General as our nations leader carries a certain populist logic.

Then again, the sense of the electorate is that our economy and the national budget are our most immediate top priorities. Who would be a natural candidate to draft given that consideration?

If Donald Trump were not such a dangerously fowl mouthed, often irrational and egomaniacal, loose cannon, he could have been a strong draft pick. Were it not for RomneyCare, Mitt Romney with his private sector, managerial, and business experience, would have been another perfect fit for solving economic problems. But we all knew that Romneyhas beenrunning for a long time now, so a draft effort was never even needed for him. In factfor all intents and purposes, he should be the frontrunner without a draft effort.

Governor Mitch Daniels

The person perfectly suited for a successful draft campaign based on the economy would be Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. As a former budget director he earned the nickname The Blade” and his leadership inIndiana, particularly on the state budget, is unmatched. Indiana is one of the most solvent state’s in the nation and its economy has been one of the strongest of all during the current economic malaise. Of course for Mitch Daniels, there is already a very active draft effort underway.

Students For Daniels has aired commercials in Iowa, organized college campuses on state levels, created an active and effective website and maintained a degree of pressure that is all good. But Mitch Daniels seems reluctant to make a decision to run and as such, the draft effort begun by Students for Daniels would need to quickly expand beyond students if it is to achieve its goal. But even then one must ask, could a person like Mitch Daniels attract a crowd of 25,000 to Madison Square Garden as the draft effort for Eisenhower did in 1952? Its unlikely.

Truly successful drafts are rare and at this stage in the game, it is unlikely that such an effort would be very productive. Although there are a handful of names that I believe are worthy of draft efforts and have an ability to generate popular support, many of those names are clearly unwilling to run. Two personal favorites of mine include Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan. But with 17 months or so to go, it may not be possible to coordinate the type of effort that could generate the national euphoria for their candidacies that would be necessary for them to accept the nomination. Paul Ryan is quite satisfied with the extraordinary power that he wields as Chairman of the House Budget Committee and while Marco Rubio is a sort of new phenomenon, he clearly intends to pace himself. Rubio does not want to be a flash in the pan.

That is why, all things considered, the Republican Party is probably best left to a process that involves the unforced participation fo candidates. We will be best suited by a contest that allows the eventual nominee to have to earn his or her popularity based on their ability to demonstrate the courage of leadership, their innovative solutions to our problems and the capacity to translateconservatism into the practical application of government. A contest that allows for suchabilities to be publicly tested through a hard fought campaign, can truly make those who currently believe that a viable candidate is not on the horizon, begin to believe that the right person has been right in front of eyes all this time.

Political campaigns have a way of producing heroes. Some quickly fade when the campaign ends, others linger on as trusted elder statesmen. But either way, the winner of those campaigns earn themselves at least a temporarydevout following and the 2012 primary process will be no different.

In the mean time, we the people, still seek that perfect candidate. And that search has produced no lack of current draft efforts. Here are just some that can be found:

2012 Draft Sarah Committee

Draft Jim DeMint for President in 2012

Draft Paul Ryan for President

Chris Christie for President

We Need Michele

Draft Cain 2012

Draft Allen West for President 2012

Jeb Bush 2012

Draft Rudy Giuliani for President

Students for Daniels

Draft Rand Paul for President

Draft General David Petraeus for President

Draft Michael Bloomberg 2012

Draft Lou Dobbs for President

Should Trump Run

Draft Gates 2012

Draft Mike Huckabee for President 2012

Draft Jesse Ventura

Draft Dick Cheney for President

Draft Marco Rubio for President 2012

Judge Andrew Napolitano for President

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