Trunkline 2012: Wednesday’s Campaign Tidbits

A roundup of todays tidbits from the campaign trail;

Bookmark and ShareWednesday, February 2, 2011

For previous previous Trunkline 2012 daily tidbits visit here

Republican Presidential Candidates to Attend Spending and Jobs Summit in New Hampshire

Bookmark and Share The New Hampshire chapter of the fiscal conservative watchdog group Americans for Prosperity has announced that they will be sponsoring a summit on spending and jobs. Invited to this event are Sarah Palin, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Atlanta radio talk show host and former Godfather Pizza CEO Herman Cain, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, South Dakota Senator John Thune, and South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint

DeMint had previously stated that he was not interested in running for President in 2012, but as of last week has changed his mind and is now willing to look at a run for the White House as a means to insure that he plays a role in the nomination process and the agenda that the GOP debate is centered around. Without any explanation, the New Hampshire AFP has stated that former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has no been invited yet.

The event is planned for April 29th and will be centered around a dinner reception at which the New Hampshire AFP organization will name Ovide LaMontagne as their Conservative of the Year. LaMontagne was the TEA Party backed candidate for the republican nomination to replace retiring Republican Senator Judd Gregg. LaMontagne ran a close race but failed to defeat his opponent, Kelly Ayotte. Ayotte went on to win the general election in November.

This unofficial presidential summit on jobs and spending in America will take place approximately one before a WMUR/CNN/Union Leader sponsors what they call a presidential debate.

Currently, Mitt Romney is a seemingly strong frontrunner in New Hampshire. But his hold on frontrunner status is a tentative one that is largely due to an as of yet established field of candidates for him to run against, and the fortune of seeing the most conservative of New Hampshire voters split their support among a host of potential conservative rivals such as Gingrich, Palin, Huckabee, Santorum and other names that many hope ultimately decide to run for President.

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Mitt Romney’s TEA Problem

Bookmark and Share A mixed message came out of the recent straw poll of New Hampshire Republican Party power players. While Romney won the poll and defeated a field of more than 20 names by surpassing his closest rival by as much as 24%, the same people who voted in that poll also elected a TEA Party candidate as the Chairman of the New Hampshire G.O.P.. The election of TEA Party backed Jack Kimball over the establishment candidate was a clear signal that conservative outsiders were increasing their influence and beginning to dominate over moderate political insiders.

The initial wins of Romney in the straw poll and Jack Kimball in the election for Party chair, may on the surface seem related and an indication that the former Governor of Massachusetts is fairing well among TEA Party voters. However a closer look reveals that only a bit more than half of those who voted for Kimball in the election for Chairman, voted in the straw poll. And of those with TEA Party sentiments, their vote was divided between a number of favorites, including second place finisher Ron Paul, fourth place finisher Sarah Palin, followed by Michelle Bachmann-5th place, Jim DeMInt-6th place, Herman Cain-7th place, and arguably Gary Johnson-16th place. Their combined total percentage was one point shy of Mitt Romneys 35% share of the vote.

This begs the question, if the TEA Party got behind one candidate, could they pick the winner of the New Hampshire presidential primary, just as they did the chairman of the New Hampshire Republican State Party?

This is a question which Mitt Romney must look at closely. Up to now, Romney has seemingly had a bad taste for TEA Party politics.

The Boston Globe reports that Mitt Romney has kept Tea Party activists at arms length. And while some like Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum and even Haley Barbour seem to be going out of their way to court influential TEA Party leaders, the chairman of New Hampshires TEA Party influenced Republican Liberty Caucus, Andrew Hemingway, claims Romney for the most part is inaccessible,” and adds. Pawlenty, I could call him right now and say, Let’s have coffee.’ ”

An advisor to Romney suggested that Romneys issues are the TEA Partys issues when told the Boston Globes Matt Viser I would hope the kind of issues the Tea Party cares about are issues he can address and will address,”.

The answer is a sensible one but it does not address the politics behind the politics. Part of that game is perception. In fact politics is all about perception and currently, in this atmosphere of pro anti-establishment sentiments, Mitt Romney is rapidly being perceived as an establishment candidate, a position that will not be to his benefit in the long run.

By all rights, Mitt Romney should be a clear frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. In many aspects he is, but only by the most tentative of definitions. Part of the reason for that is distrust among conservatives who are not convinced that his right-to-life conversion from his pro-choice stance is genuine and another part is widespread dissatisfaction with the fact that as Governor of Massachusetts, Romney created a state version of Obamacare before Obamacare ever came to fruition. This has Romney entering the race for the Republican nomination as a flip-flopping, big government Republican. Is that an accurate description? In truth, it isnt. But unless Mitt Romney embraces the strongest elements of the thriving, decisive, small government TEA Party wing of the G.O.P., he will not have a snowballs chance in hell of changing that perception.

Romney could be trying to keep the TEA Party at arms length because he fears that being linked too closely to them will hurt his chances in the general election. For that reason he could be wanting to distinguish himself from others like Sarah Palin, who risk being perceived as too extreme. Rudy Giuliani recently revealed that as his own strategy in a potential bid for the G.O.P. nomination. Romney could also be hoping that just as was the case in the New Hampshire straw poll, maybe a crowded field of TEA Party favorites like Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Sarah Palin, and others, could split the TEA movement vote and allow him to walk right up the middle.

If that is his strategy, he needs to plot a new one.

He should take a lesson from John McCains failed campaign and realize that the same people whoRomney is keeping at a distance, are the same people who were not thrilled by John McCain as our nominee and the same people who sat on their hands in the general election. He should also realize that for many Republicans, Sarah Palin was the only thing that energized McCains candidacy. In other words, Romney can not become President without embracing the TEA movement and without the TEA movement embracing him.

It’s time to talk TEA Mitt. You may not want to start campaigning too early, but you have a lot of repairs to make before you let the train leave the station and now is as good a time as any to start fixing them.

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Republican Presidential Hopefuls Headed for Hard Times in the Granite State

Bookmark and Share Campaigning in New Hampshires first in the nation primary is always tough. New Hampshire voters expect to meet a candidate in person at least two or three times before they make a decision on who to nominate for President. But for some, that process is usually made a little easier by favoritism from state Party leaders. Organizational support, even unofficial organizational support, is often half the battle in tight races. For this reason, candidates and potential candidates spend a lot of time schmoozing G.O.P. leaders and members of the New Hampshire Party apparatus.

Long before the 2008 Republican presidential primary, people like Mitt Romney were trying to cozy up to the most influential Republicans leaders in the state. And in Romneys case, he has been continuing to forge such relationships ever since the 2008 presidential election was over.

The problem is that the midterm elections of 2010 changed the entire political landscape of New Hampshire. The state saw a total turn around from the bottom up. It switched both state legislative houses with the Senate going from 14 Democrats and 10 Republicans, to 19 Republicans and 5 Democrats and in the State House of Representatives the G.O.P. picked up 124 states and gained their largest majority ever.

This means that thereis a large new slew of Republican players in the state whom are virtually unknown to the 2012 presidential contenders and little time to start forging those close, valuable political relationships with them.

Even more dramatic then themassive influx of Republican legislators though is thecoming of newleadershipin the state Republican organization, an organization that for decades was powered by the Sununu and Gregg families. But now John Sununu is stepping down as state Chairman and Senator Judd Gregg just retired from politics. So now, with new players taking over, potential G.O.P. presidential candidates have to start forging those organizational relationships allover again.

The man probably most negatively affected by the changing landscape in New Hampshire is the former governor of New Hampshires neighbor—-Massachusetts. Mitt Romney now has to start from scratch in his own New England backyard. But before he or anyone can really get to work on that, the Party leadership must be put in place and that is currently a struggle.

It seems that the Republican establishment is being challenged by the anti-establishment TEA Party movement. They are supporting a TEA Party organizer named Jack Kimball while Sununu and the establishment is supporting the Chairman of the Cheshire County Republican Committee. Currently both the establishment and the anti-establishment have each one a recent battle. The TEA Party lost their primary challenge to incoming U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte and the establishment lost their choice for Speaker of the State House of Representatives to a TEA Party backed conservative. So the race for State Party Chairman could determine the balance of power in New Hampshire.

Now the question becomes, are any of the possible presidential contenders willing to put their money on one side over the other in the hopes of the winner being indebted to them? If any of them do, they better make sure they pick the winning team because if they don’t, they could kiss that acceptance speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention goodbye.

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