Change? Obama Worse than Bush

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

Average Annual Increase in Public Debt (in millions):

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

Total Increase in Public Debt (in millions):

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

Average Annual Unemployment (Also see here):

Bush: 5.26%                    Obama: 9.2%

Median Household Incomes:

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

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

Bush: $2.14                     Obama: $2.89

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

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

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

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

Let’s look at war by the numbers.

Involvement in Major Foreign Conflicts:

Bush: 2 countries           Obama: 3 countries

Military Spending as % of GDP:

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

Average Annual War Spending:

Bush: $99.3 Billion       Obama: $155.1 Billion

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

Average Annual Troop Deaths:

Bush: 606                        Obama: 445

Iraq:  528                         66

Afghanistan: 78              379

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

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

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

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

How Obama Could Still Win:

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

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

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

Consider your goals and which candidate will get us there:

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

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

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

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

Does My Vote Count?

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

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

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

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

Suffolk Stops Polling Presidential Race in Fl, NC and VA. Says Romney Is Certain to Win All 3

 Bookmark and Share   Since 2002, the Suffolk University Political Research Center has conducted polls and survey analyses with a 96% record of accuracy in predicting outcomes in Massachusetts, key battleground states, and nationally.  As such, Suffolk is considered far more reliable than not. So it should come as a surprise to those who believe that Barack Obama will defeat Mitt Romney handily when a reliable polling outfit like Suffolk announces that it is so clear to them that Romney has locked up wins in three key battleground states so securely that they are discontinuing any future polling of the presidential election in those states.

Pollster David Paleologos, the Director of the Suffolk University Research Center recently declared to Bill O’Reilly on his Fox News show “The Factor”, that his organization will not be taking anymore polls of the presidential election in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia.  According to Paleologos, a look at the existing polling data in those states indicates overwhelming evidence of the depth of Romney’s support in those states as compared to the president.  Paleologos adds, “we’ve colored those states red.” (See the video below)

This is an extraordinarily significant development in the race for President. Polling is a lucrative business and a decision such as the one Suffolk has made here would not have been made unless they were absolutely certain with of the results they now predict.  It signals the beginning of what White House 2012 has predicted to be Romney’s winning of the presidential election in the Electoral College by a much larger than margin than many believe possible.  Currently White House 2012 has Governor Romney defeating President Obama by 281 electoral votes to 257, but with with a stated expectation of soon putting New Hampshire and Nevada in Romney’s column, White House 2012 is sure that that Romney’s electoral vote count is on the rise.

If it is indeed true that Mitt Romney has a lock on Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia, President Obama finds himself facing an election that is totally different from the one he was running prior to last week’s presidential debate.  If those three states are solid for Romney, the number of paths that are available for the President to piece together the 270 electoral votes he needs in order to win reelection, are greatly reduced and it makes his need to deny Romney a win in Ohio almost essential to his reelection effort.  Meanwhile multiple polls from a range of independent survey outfits are now showing Mitt Romney to either be ahead of the President in Ohio or nearly tied with him.  These polls also show Romney pulling ahead in other battleground states and nationally.

But the decision by Suffolk to stop polling the presidential race in Fl, NC and Va, is a surefire sign that the race is over for President Obama in those states.  Pretty soon his own internal polls will probably make that inconvenient truth evident to his own campaign.  We will come to realize when they have reached that same conclusion as we soon begin to notice a lack of visits by the President to Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia and a noticeably larger amount of his time spent in Ohio, Iowa, Nevada and a few states that up to now, the President was so far ahead in that he did not to waste his time visiting.  Those states include Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, three states which the Romney-Ryan ticket is cutting in to the Obama-Biden tickets once double digit leads.

As early as two weeks ago, an analysis of polls and other factors by White House 2012 had reached almost the same conclusion that Suffolk did about Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia.   In fact, in White House 2012’s Electoral College Projection we stated that we no longer consider North Carolina a battleground state.  As for Florida and Virginia, White House 2012 has projected them to be red for Romney but we have not yet been confident enough to suggest that President Obama will at some point become more competitive in those two states again.  So far though, Suffolk’s polls and decision are o confirm that White House 2012 is doing a good job at analyzing the electorate.  In fact it just so happens that White House 2012 and Suffolk are independently in agreement with one another.

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New White House 2012 Projection Has Romney Winning By 24 Electoral Votes

  Bookmark and Share With 29 days remaining in the race for President, White House 2012’s latest analysis of polls, circumstances, and conditions, concludes that there is a swing towards Mitt Romney in the Electoral College that is so pronounced that the Romney-Ryan ticket has increased its lead over the Obama-Biden ticket by at least 24 electoral votes.  The last White House 2012 projection had Mitt Romney winning 273 electoral votes to the presidents 265 electoral votes.  Today Romney stands at 281 electoral votes to 257 for the President.

For the first time, the latest projection gives Romney the all important state of Ohio, which up to now has been written off by White House 2012 as an almost certain win for President Obama. However, small shifts which have revealed themselves in most of the polls figured in to the Real Clear Politics average of polls since Romney’ stellar debate performance last Wednesday, now indicate that if the numbers hold up, Romney will win Ohio, a change that significantly increases the number of ways that Romney can reach the magic number of 270 that is needed to win the presidential race in the electoral college.

While Romney seems to be gaining momentum, it is too early to call it a steady trend, especially given the fact that while Romney has picked up Ohio in the newest projection, New Hampshire and Nevada which Romney did have in column last week, have flipped back to President Obama today.  The good news is that combined, New Hampshire and Nevada have a total of only 10 electoral votes while by itself Ohio has a total of 18 electoral votes.  So even if Romney did lose Nevada and New Hampshire, he stands on better ground after picking up the Buckeye State.  However; it is important to note that White House 2012 is being very conservative by flipping New Hampshire and Nevada to the Obama-Biden ticket.  While the RCP average has pushed the President’s lead in those two states to be in excess of the 3.7% margin of error which we give to Mitt Romney to compensate for each polls poor judgment in the use the 2008 turnout models, other factors prove to be working in Mitt Romney’s favor and allow us to give the President those states by only the slimmest of margins. So both New Hampshire and Nevada are now only barely light blue for the President and they could easily turn pink for Romney at a moment’s notice.

While most states are clearly leaning towards one candidate or the other, White House 2012 is currently only considering there to be seven battleground states.  They are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia.  Of those states, White House 2012 currently projects the following outcomes;

White House 2012 does see the potential for Romney to become much more competitive in Wisconsin, New Mexico, and possibly Michigan but for now, we do not consider them to be battleground states.

Other Favorable Indicators for Romney

As the race continues to evolve, this projection will change, however; at the moment the race is shaping up to be one that is moving in Mitt Romney’s direction.

For instance, it is with good reason that we continue to forecast Romney victories in the critical states of Florida and Virginia.

While some polls show small Romney leads in those states, most all other polls show Romney to have at least closed the small previous gap that existed between him and the President by as much as half or more.  For example, the latest number from PPP, a Democrat leaning polling outfit, shows that in Virginia, Obama’s lead has shrunk from +5  to +3.  While that Obama lead might not seem like good news for Romney, it is actually very good news when you consider the fact that by using the same turnout model from 2008, the PPP sampling finds this smaller Obama lead even after still giving Democrats a +6 advantage over Republicans.

Furthermore; it is that same Democrat advantage that polls are giving to the President which we see in other states such as Ohio, Florida, New Hampshire and all the other critical swing states.  Yet despite this Democrat advantage, Romney is gaining on the President.  So much so that WH12 sees evidence that indicates the Romney-Ryan ticket will probably not only win the election, they will probably win it by an even wider margin than anyone thinks possible.

Adding to this positive direction for Romney are indications that his own internal polling in at least two states. Currently, those internal polls are said to show Virginia and Ohio show him beating Obama by as much as 3.0% and 4.5%, respectively.

Conclusion;

The recent questionable jobs report has provided a slight spike in consumer confidence but it has not yet translated in to a bounce for the President.  At the same time, President Obama’s approval ratings continue to remain at or below 50%, a position not conducive for reelection of an incumbent President. 

Meanwhile, after his initial debate performance Mitt Romney has established himself as a real threat to the reelection of President Obama.  For the first time since their conventions, Romney is seeing evidence of his base becoming excited with his candidacy and there are signs that undecided voters are moving in his direction.  But Republicans must be careful to not consider this a trend until and unless future polls over the course of the next week show these recent numbers to still be moving in the right direction.  However; at the moment the Romney-Ryan ticket seems to have blocked President Obama’s own forward momentum in the polls and at the same time has finally gotten his campaign moving at pace that could turn the tables on the Obama-Biden and make them the ones with fewer paths to victory.  But to do that, Romney must be sure to keep the momentum moving in the right direction and at the right pace.  To do that, Romney must avoid any stumbles on the campaign trail and he must make sure that an endless repetitive stream of his well crafted 30 second ads are driving home his message and allowing it to sink in among the voters who have a new found respect for Romney after his first debate and are now more receptive to his message than they have been at any other point in this election.

The Projection Formula

The White House 2012 projection takes the Real Clear Politics average of polls and compensates for the outdated 2008 turnout models being used in each in poll by compensating for the under-counting of Republican turnout by adding to Romney’s total, the 3.7% average margin of error in the seven key swing states of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia.  Then along with a dose of personal political instinct, our projection incorporates other factors in to the equation such as the unemployment rates of individual states and the organizational strength of each state’s Party. 

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Internal Polls Have Romney Ahead in at Least 2 Pivotal Swing States

  Bookmark and Share   According to Breitbat editor Mike Flynn, the Romney campaign has internal polls that now show the Romney-Ryan ticket ahead of President Obama in two important battleground states… Ohio and New Hampshire.  According to two tweets posted by Flynn  on his Twitter feed, Romney’s internal polls have him beating the President in New Hampshire by 3.0%, and an almost unimaginably wider margin of 4.5% in Ohio.

If these numbers are true, this would suggest that my own estimation of a Romney victory that will be much bigger than most people think possible, could be shaping up.   Especially if Mitt Romney is ahead in Ohio.

While I have sensed that this race is not quite as close as most polls indicate, my inability to totally discount the preponderance of public polling numbers that are out there has been leading me to conclude that in 2012, the G.O.P. may win the White House without Ohio for the first time in history. Part of the reason for that opinion has been due to the available polling data.  The other part is my knowing that President Obama is going to do everything possible to win the Buckeye State for himself.  Doing so would leave Romney with significantly fewer paths to victory.  But aggressive campaigning by Romney in several other key states, specifically Iowa, Colorado, New Hampshire, Nevada and of course Virginia and Florida, has led me to conclude that while Team Romney has by no means written off Ohio, they are actively working on Plan B…. the plan to win the election without Ohio if necessary.

But if these leaked internal polls are accurate, Mitt Romney is currently on his way to being able to carry out his preferred plan of winning the election with Ohio and the way I see it, if he can do that, Americans will be stunned to find out on November 7th that Romney beat President Obama by far more than anyone predicted.

If the Romney-Ryan ticket can win Ohio, that bodes quite well for additional victories in swing states like Florida, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado, and New Hampshire.  Given the make-up of Ohio, it is very good bellwether of the sentiments that exist in those aforementioned states.  Furthermore, a lead in Ohio would also indicates that Nevada is quite winnable.  Even more stunning is that it could be a sign that Romney is in contention for wins in other states like Wisconsin, which according to most polls is currently slipping away from the G.O.P. presidential ticket.  No matter what though, a lead in Ohio would significantly turn the tables on the Obama-Biden ticket by suddenly making them the ticket with fewer paths available to them to reach the magic number of 270 in the Electoral College.

Unfortunately for Romney backers, the reliability of this second and now third-hand information is not enough for us to hang our hats on yet.

While all campaigns conduct internal polls, they do not spend much time publicly talking about them or releasing the data and information contained in them.  By law, if a campaign releases any numbers from their internal polls, they must release the entire poll.  However, as is always the case with politics, campaigns can and do find ways to see that certain tib-bits somehow leak out for public consumption without being caught.  In this case,  no one can be sure of where or how Mike Flynn got hold of these numbers.  But if he did somehow get a look at the Romney campaign’s actual internal poll numbers for Ohio and New Hampshire, the news contained in his two tweets changes the narrative of this election by turning President in to the underdog in the race.

If the numbers Flynn released are actually from the Romney campaign’s internal polls, you can rest assured that they are accurate.  Mainly because of Neil Newhouse, the man who put those numbers together.

Neil Newhouse is Romney’s chief pollster and globally, one of the best pollsters around.   He is a co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies, a national political and public affairs survey research firm that has been described as “the leading Republican polling company” in the country and in 2011 he was named “Pollster of the Year” by the American Association of Political Consultants for his work on Scott Brown’s winning Senate campaign in Massachusetts.

At Public Opinion Strategies, Newhouse developed a culture and approach to winning that is practically unsurpassed as he successfully helped political candidates win tough campaigns and scored hard-fought successes in the public affairs arena for some of America’s leading corporations and associations.  Through his polling efforts Newhouse has been a master at taking accurate polls and using the information derived from them to successfully tailor the type of winning messages that have allowed his candidates to get elected.  So if Neil Newhouse’s polling does actually have Romney up by as much as 3.0% in New Hampshire and 4.5% in Ohio, chances are that the vast majority of public polls which are basing their models on outdated 2008 turnout models, are offering us a very misleading perception of just how tight the election will actually be.

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President of the A.V. Club

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

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

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

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

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Effect of Debates vs. Campaign Fatigue

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romney will need to beat the strongest campaigner in history should he become the nominee

The result in New Hampshire tonight for Mitt Romney ensured he captured the nation’s first primary election with about 35% of the vote following two tough days, in which the presumptive front runner by the establishment, withstood attack from his Republican opponents.

Romney who has led in New Hampshire, where he owns a summer home, for several months, and where anything less than a double-digit margin of victory might have been viewed as a loss won very comfortably. There is a historical aspect to his victory insofar as, he’s the first non incumbent to win both the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary since 1976.

Ron Paul finished a very credible second in his head to head battle with former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman coming third. Paul and his campaign will have to be pleased with their 25% of the vote and second place finish.

Former House Speaker Gingrich finished fourth as he predicted however, his last two days of attacks hurt the Romney Campaign and sets up a fierce battleground fight for what many neutrals perceive as the first real competitive primary in South Carolina on January 21.

The media bias has been incredible in the run up to the New Hampshire primary, Fox News has literally turned into the Romney adoration channel and their commentary while Romney attacked Gingrich with his Super Pac was, it’s part and parcel of any primary race however, their viewpoint with Gingrich’s Super Pac poised to launch Romney attack ads in South Carolina is, Gingrich is being nasty & angry for criticising Romney. Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry and Ron Paul did not escape Fox News’s condemnation over their sparring with Romney.

The irony for conservative media outlets like Fox rushing to Romney’s defence, is rather then protect and support Romney; they are in fact exposing how weak he could actually be as a potential nominee. Do not misunderstand me, if Romney eventually wins the race, I’ll throw my weight behind his election effort, as I mentioned, this general election in my opinion is unlike any other for generations. America and Western nations are on the economic brink at present, the policies of the Obama administration have proven a failure and we desperately need the American economic engine working on full throttle to get growth, expansion, and job creation underway again in a meaningful way.

I believe all the GOP candidates have very solid economic policies which will be needed to tackle the key issues of managing the national debt, curbing spending and tax reform. What has disappointed me most about the current campaign is how little the discussion has centred on actual policy. If the eventual nominee is to stand any chance of developing their message and vision for restoring America, they need to hone it in the primary race and start talking more about the key issues.

Personally, I don’t think any of the GOP candidates should be attacking each other in the personal manner they are, it only damages themselves, the party and their chances. Romney’s victory in New Hampshire tonight though should not be sold as a ringing endorsement of his candidacy, or his policies. Iowa was a good result for Romney, tonight’s result was expected, and the really important result will come in South Carolina. Romney is currently leading there ahead of Santorum and Gingrich and victory there and in Florida, and one would have to accept that it is highly unlikely with such momentum that anyone could stage a winning comeback.

What Republican’s have to realise is one thing, forget about President Obama’s performance in office, and ignore the current economic statistics and the expected $1 billion war chest. The eventual GOP nominee will have to take on President Obama at what he does best, campaigning and beat him.

I’ve maintained all along, anyone who believes President Obama short of an unexpected scandal or disaster between now and November, is going to be easy to beat in the general election is very badly mistaken.

President Obama is a community organiser by profession, organising, raising funds, communicating a message and rallying people to a cause are his strengths, they are what he can do better then anyone, dare I say it performance aside, he comes across more charismatic and electrifying then most politicians on a campaign trail that I’ve observed.

The GOP establishment and media need to be cautious about what they wish for, it is more important than ever to select the right candidate for the general election. One thing, I learned from New Hampshire, is how organised Romney’s set-up actually is. Popularity is one thing, but victory is only possible with solid organisation & strategy executed well. Romney did it effectively and he’ll need to target the Florida primary to essentially reduce the field of candidates down to the serious contenders.  It is important however to pause and remember that the race could have many twists and turns yet. Victory is not yet guaranteed for Romney and he’ll still have to work hard to secure the nomination.

I liked Romney’s closing remarks about the upcoming election being about “American Greatness,” and his emphasis on the need for everyone to still believe in that America

Post New Hampshire Debates – The GOP have a problem – Winning!

The two New Hampshire debates and mainstream media coverage of the GOP presidential race has convinced me more than ever of one simple fact, the GOP nominee will face an uphill battle to defeat President Obama come November.

Assessing both debates, the ABC News one was without question, the most disappointing one of the campaign to date. The standard and content of the questions was shameful for a presidential debate, and when a major network avoids asking the president’s rivals questions on Obamacare, debt or entitlement reform, it provides an insight into what the eventual nominee can expect in the general election.

Today’s “MeetThePress” debate was much better however, after a fast paced and engaging start, it seemed to run out of steam for the second part of the debate. In fairness, David Gregory and the two moderators made a much better effort to challenge the candidates, and provide a better standard of questions.

The two debates, as events, were disappointing and one can only hope all networks assess how they went and make a better effort for future debates.

I don’t intend to analyze the second debate here instead; I thought it may be useful to discuss some truths and where the GOP race is at present, and look ahead to the challenge and scenario’s in the coming weeks.

On the interesting side, I think Jon Huntsman did himself a power of good during the second New Hampshire debate, and came across as a real patriot for serving his country in his exchanges with Mitt Romney over China.

If Huntsman can finish in the top three in New Hampshire, he could well be the surprise package as I’ve predicted in the GOP campaign. Huntsman is electable as president make no mistake, yes; conservatives may not exactly love his moderate positions however, in this election cycle they may well have to agree to support a candidate who can beat President Obama over their more traditional GOP candidate.

What we know & who can win the general election

Mitt Romney

The mainstream media clearly want Mitt Romney to win. I think Romney is a good candidate and has a lot of positives on his side especially his business background, no matter what allegations are thrown against him. If someone creates even one job or 10,000 they are making a contribution to the economy and they should be commended not criticised for it.

My concern about Romney is two fold, firstly, he is struggling to ignite the support base despite planning his campaign for four years, having the most money of any Republican candidate and the backing of more establishment colleagues and party elders than any other candidate.Despite all these factors he is struggling to fire up the base.  My second concern comes from observing the last four debates in particular is his grasp of foreign policy. Romney can tell us what President Obama is bad at doing however, he can’t tell us what he would do as president. He also tends to buckle and panic when he comes under pressure. I’ll definitely support Romney if he is the nominee however, do I believe he can ignite the enthusiasm and attract enough support to beat President Obama in the general election? I’m yet to be convinced.

Newt Gingrich & Rick Santorum

The truth is former Speaker Gingrich would make an exceptional president in my opinion. I’m not interested in people’s mistakes over a lifetime, I want someone elected this time with the ability, skills and leadership who can make a difference and deliver on what they say without isolating sections of society. The establishment are firmly Anti-Newt no matter how they use their outlets to spin the argument; it is plain and clear for the average person to see. Speaker Gingrich’s biggest challenge is over coming those odds and Senator Santorum.

Senator Santorum did himself a world of good and achieved a massive credible second place in Iowa. We must be clear, can he at this stage of his career beat President Obama in a general election race, truthfully, no! The reality is that both these men may need to make concessions with each other and my honest belief is they would both best be served by uniting.

If they run on a President and V.P. ticket together and win and go on to perform well, the platform would be there for Santorum to be president in the future. If both men fail to reach a consensus, it is likely that both will lose out to Mitt Romney in the primary race. Together, they could both challenge President Obama and I believe, offer a clear contrast in the general election and win!

Jon Huntsman

Yes, my third pick for winning the general election is Jon Huntsman however, it all hinges on him getting a top three finish in New Hampshire. Make no mistake about it; President Obama would not have picked him for Ambassador to China if he and his team weren’t worried about Huntsman making a run for president this time. Also, they would have vetted Huntsman for the role, so there really can’t be too much hidden baggage to attack Huntsman on in a general election campaign.

I would recommend to anyone questioning my logic here to go to C-Span and take time to watch the Huntsman-Gingrich debate. Huntsman is brilliantly clever and respectfully perhaps the most intelligent and knowledgeable candidate in the GOP field except for Gingrich. He has a great economic plan and has an excellent record as Governor.

If the GOP base can take a second look at Huntsman and he starts gaining some interest and accept that like Romney, he is a moderate on some issues, I believe Huntsman could definitely beat President Obama in the general election race. It all comes down to the result in New Hampshire this Tuesday, democracy will decide.

Ron Paul

I do admire the Texas Congressman for his long and consistent record. I think he has some good ideas on domestic issues however; I cannot warm to his foreign affairs positions. I don’t think Paul could beat President Obama in a general election or frankly come close however, Paul will play a very important role in the GOP primary race. He will potentially decide the outcome of the entire primary race and he will insist on certain policy commitments in return. I expect the Texas Congressman to prove the most influential of all the candidates in the eventual destination of the GOP Nomination and to go out on a high.

Rick Perry

I credit the Texas Governor for entering the race and he has achieved many fine things during his tenure there as governor and has improved considerably, as a candidate, at a national level after some disastrous hiccups. Personally, I would like to see the Governor make a final decision whether to bow out or stay in the race following South Carolina’s primary. I think he can attempt another run in four or eight years time and use the experience this time around to prepare for that. Realistically, he can’t win the primary race or a general election campaign this time round after the earlier mistakes.

I appreciate that many people are passionate about their candidates however; the establishment and GOP supporters need to make a conscious decision on whether they want to win back the White House on November 6, 2012, or leave it resting in the hands of President Obama for another four years

An interesting couple of weeks lie ahead.

Ron Paul finally gets airtime in the debates

Saturday night, Paul got caught.  Santorum flushed him out, but Perry nailed it.  Ron Paul was mid-attack against Santorum for adding earmarks when the subject of Paul’s own earmarks came up.  Paul then gleefully announced that sure he added earmarks, but he never voted yes on any of the appropriation bills.  Dr. Paul, that is a smoke screen.  You put everything you wanted in bills that you knew would pass anyway, and then voted against those bills to pad your record?  Sorry, not impressed.

Things got even worse when Paul attacked Gingrich again, apparently for not being eligible for the draft.  Paul referred to deferments insinuating that Gingrich received deferments in Vietnam, and Gingrich had to set the record straight that his father was in Vietnam and Newt himself was not eligible for the draft.

While continuing unfair attacks on fellow candidates, Paul once again defended his newsletter by saying he never wrote the ones he signed or read the ones he edited.  Paul did repeat a common liberal racist claim that illegal drugs  and wars adversely affect African Americans and perpetuated the stereotype that blacks are inherently poor.  His solution seemed to be to end wars and make drugs legal, but using the racism angle is a dishonest argument.

Paul made a gaffe when he talked about the US picking up Iranian seamen, which Santorum picked up on pointing out that if Paul was in charge our men wouldn’t have been there in the first place.

Paul’s answers on economics amount to vague elitism.  Something many of us on the TEA Party side have been hungry for in Paul’s rhetoric is the what and how of what he wants to do with the economy.  Yeah we get it.  Paul is a constitutionalist.  He is the doctor of democracy and champion of freedom.  But what does that mean?  Paul’s answer, liquidate debt and cut spending.    I suppose we could all just go read his website to see what exactly he wants to cut, but I’m not convinced Paul even wrote whats on his website.  I’m sure if something objectionable was found on there, Paul would have plausible deniability.

Fortunately, Paul did basically rule out a third party run.

 

32 Years Ago Today, Ronald Reagan Showed Us What a Difference a Debate Can Make

Bookmark and Share  Tonight the Republican presidential candidates will be gathering in New Hampshire for a presidential debate and in a matter of hours, they will be having another one on Sunday morning.

Both of the debates may not change the outcome of the New Hampshire primary being held on Tuesday, but they will have effect on it and the momentum that is established will play a role in the  South Carolina primary that follows New Hampshire’s contest.  How much af an effect is the big question.

My opinion is that of all the candidates still running, Newt Gingrich is the candidate skilled enough to maximize these two forums and use them to his advantage in ways that far exceed the others on the stage with him.

But the right opportunity could just prove to be pivotal to any of the participants.

Exactly 32 years ago today, Ronald Reagan literally established himself as a man  to reckon with in  politics when the moderator of another New Hampshire debate tried to silencehim.  When that man asked that his mic be turned off, Reagan turned to him and shouted, “I am paying for this microphone, Mr. Green”.

From that point on, in the minds of voters, Ronald Reagan established himself as fighter who will stand up to anyone and say it like it like it is.  He also established himself as a determined man who will stand up for all that he believes in and who was not afraid to do so.

As seen in the video below, Reagan’s forcefulness received not only a rousing standing ovation of shouts, cheers, and applause, you might also note that the men he was running against, stood behind Reagan and were giving their own energetic round of applause to their opponent.

Such a moment may not come up tonight or tomorrow morning, but you can rest assured that each man on stage tonight will be looking for the just the opportunity to repeat history and follow in Ronald Reagan’s footsteps.

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Disgusting Ron Paul attack Ad against Huntsman brings campaign to new low

The depths of personal attacks in the Republican party race sank to a new low yesterday when a video was released by a supporter of Ron Paul attacking Jon Huntsman, but using footage of his adopted children to question his “American values”.

The video, posted to YouTube by the account “NHLiberty4Paul,” first calls Huntsman the “Manchurian Candidate,” asking: “What’s he hiding?” It then shows footage of Huntsman speaking Mandarin, and photos and video of him and adopted daughter Gracie Mei.

It goes on to ask if Huntsman “shares our values” and is a “man of faith,” before cutting to a picture of him with possibly his adopted daughter from India,  Asha Bharati. It closes with the message: “American Values and Liberty. Vote Ron Paul.”

“It’s just stupid,” the former U.S. ambassador to China said at a gathering in New Hampshire on Friday.

“If somebody wants to poke fun of me for speaking Chinese, that’s OK. What I object to is bringing forward pictures and videos of my adopted daughters, and suggesting there is some sinister motive there. I have a daughter from China who was abandoned at two months of age and left in a vegetable market, picked up by the police and sent to an orphanage.”

Huntsman joked that Gracie Mei, now 12, is “my senior foreign policy advisor.” But more, she and Asha are “part of my family.”

“I have two little girls who are a daily reminder that there are a lot of kids in this world who don’t have the breaks that we do, and who face a very, very uncertain future  . . . and any sense of upward mobility. Now these two girls are on the presidential campaign trail. I say how cool is that?” he said.

Paul’s spokeswoman for New Hampshire, Kate Schackai, responded saying she didn’t know who was responsible for the footage, but said it was not connected to Paul’s campaign.

“The video was utterly distasteful and no one who actually supports Dr Paul’s principles would have made it,” she said.

Abby Huntsman Livingston later speaking to Fox’s Megyn Kelly on the matter referred to her adopted sisters as the “love of my dad’s life” who came from very unfortunate circumstances, saying they have been “what makes us happy every day” on the campaign trail.

“I was surprised to see this ad. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like this, so I think we’re all a little bit stunned by it,” she said, adding that she fears that her sister Gracie, who is 12, will come upon the video.

She also warned the apparent Paul supporters behind the video: “Unfortunately, the Ron Paul supporters don’t realize that these actions really affect the Ron Paul campaign.”  It was brilliant to see a bright young lady putting family before politics and putting the distasteful nature of the attack into excellent perspective, proving she’s a credit to her father.

Later in the day Ron Paul’s campaign called on the person who put up the video to take the spot down, calling it “disgusting.”

More controversy is looming with a five page attack mailing going out to South Carolina residents attacking all of Paul’s competitors with a particularly harsh emphasis on Newt Gingrich. “Newt Gingrich has a long record of liberal appeasement, flip-flopping on key issues, and lobbying for insider millions even calling him a “counterfeit conservative.”

Paul also attacks Texas Governor Rick Perry’s immigration record and Mitt Romney on his flip-flops on abortion and “Romneycare” in Massachusetts.

There is no doubt regardless of the outcome, Rep. Paul will play a decisive part in the eventual destination of the GOP nomination however, at what cost to the party and his legacy.

These Debates Could Be Game Changers

Come on.  We’ve heard these candidates in just over one million debates so far this year.  Another one?  Another two actually, this weekend leading up to the New Hampshire debates.  And these two debates could definitely wreak havoc on the standings going into New Hampshire.

Mitt Romney is the undisputed front runner.  Ron Paul and Rick Santorum fans at this point are dreaming if they think their candidates are on a solid trajectory to win.  Not winning Iowa should be a clear sign to heavily religious social conservatives like Bachmann, Perry, Santorum and Newt that getting past Romney is going to be nearly impossible with a crowded field.  Bachmann got the hint, and Perry almost did.  As for Ron Paul, maybe if he runs two more times he can win enough support to break out of his traditional 5-10% polling finish.  Look, he’s already doing better this year than last time, and last time he did better than the time before.  That was Ross Perot’s and Ralph Nader’s problems.  They quit trying too soon.

Back to Mitt Romney.  You know he is back on the punching bag hook tonight, a place he hasn’t been since the very first debates.  Santorum wants a piece of him, Newt wants a piece of him, Jon Huntsman finally qualified for another debate and you know he wants to take Romney down a peg.  I think Perry will try to just get through the night and might take a few shots at Santorum.  As far as the #1 conservative attack dog of other conservatives, Michele Bachmann will not be there tonight to claim that Perry is in bed with pharmaceutical companies,  Newt Gingrich is pro-partial birth abortion and the number one Freddie Mac adviser responsible for the economic collapse, and whatever she might cook up about Rick Santorum while mostly leaving Paul and Romney alone.  So I think Romney will be taking the hits and the other candidates can relax their guard a little bit.

Now, on to the x factor in debates.  Newt Gingrich was finished this summer after his campaign collapsed and he proved he was in the top 1% by buying his wife jewelry.  I mean how out of touch can you get.  But, he has climbed back into contention through powerful and commanding debate performances.  Just two weeks ago, Gingrich was the front runner.  The difference between Gingrich’s fall and other candidates falls is that their demises can be tied directly to debate performance.  Bachmann with her claims about HPV and other wild attacks on the candidates, Perry with his glaring gaffe, Cain who offered 999 and 999, oh yeah and 999.  It wasn’t enough substance to save him when scandal gave nervous supporters a reason to doubt.  Huntsman affirmed his global warming stance.

Gingrich hurt himself with his illegal immigration stance, but his downfall can be attributed to the harsh attacks he faced over the last two weeks from Romney’s friends, paid allies, and former foes.  Ron Paul also attacked Newt, not Romney, with harsh ads in Iowa.  Paul has probably done the same math I have, but mistakenly thinks he has a shot with Newt’s base over Romney’s.

The debates are ad free.  They are also friend free.  The only way Romney can attack another candidate tonight without attacking that candidate directly is to pay off the moderator or a fellow candidate.  On that stage, it is going to be Santorum’s “what smells” debate face versus Perry’s memory versus Huntsman’s out of touch moderate stances versus Paul’s old shaky finger wagging versus Romney’s slick hair and nice demeanor versus Newt’s heavy hitting and quick wit and ideas.

If these debates garner an audience, this is all upside for Newt, and downside for front runner Mitt Romney and social conservative front runner Rick Santorum.  In an instance of incredible luck for the candidates in this New Hampshire debate, the New England Patriots get this weekend of playoff action off.

The New Hampshire Presidential debates – It could be “live free or die” – for some candidates challenge.

The race for the Republican Party presidential nomination heats up this weekend with a set of weekend debates providing what could be, the last chance for some of the Republican presidential hopefuls to prove, who is the best alternative to frontrunner Mitt Romney ahead of next week’s New Hampshire primary.

The six remaining candidates will go head to head in Saturday’s ABC News, Yahoo and WMUR sponsored debate.  Front runner Mitt Romney who has a residence in the state and was governor of neighbouring Massachusetts, appears to have an unassailable lead according to the latest Union Leader poll with 47 percent of New Hampshire GOP primary voters saying they would vote for Romney, compared to 17 percent for Ron Paul and 13 percent for Jon Huntsman.

Saturday’s debate will be followed by another on Sunday in NBC’s – Meet the Press debate, which will be the first time in the campaign that major debates will have been held back to back.

Romney has come under increasing attack since his slim-line victory in Iowa over Rick Santorum and is expected to be very much the candidate under fire in both debates. Romney also suffered a huge blow with the major Newspaper – The Boston Globe coming out in support of Jon Huntsman over Romney, on the eve of the debate.

Romney has the most to lose, not only is he expected to win New Hampshire comfortably, he is expected to win big, so any slip ups in the debates could severely damage his somewhat expectant party nomination. Romney needs to remain on message and appear presidential like as in previous debates. Romney has shown a tendency to be prickly when challenged on his record, and he will need to avoid any reactive snappy comments.

Fresh from his excellent second place finish and injection of campaign cash from donors, it will be an equally big night for former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum who will find himself front and center of the attention for the first time in these debates. Santorum has struggled for air-time in all the previous debates, but his good fortune and excellent Iowa finish brings with it a higher level of expectation. Santorum needs to win the conservative battle with friend and fellow challenger former speaker – Newt Gingrich to be the clear alternative to Romney. Santorum is a good debater but some possible chinks in his armour may be his social stances on Gay-Marriage, Gay members serving in the military and earmarks during his time as Senator. Social issues do not have the same level of weight in New Hampshire as they do in Iowa, and policy and position stances are very much more under the scrutiny of voters. Santorum needs to remain composed and focus on his policy stances as far as possible to maintain his excellent momentum.

The two candidates who could prove decisive in the outcome of both debates are Ron Paul & Jon Huntsman.

Ron Paul’s campaign has raised a massive $13 million in the fourth quarter, behind only Romney’s fundraising of more than $20 million. New Hampshire’s primary has a considerable number of independent voters and it is likely, Paul will place well regardless of the debates. Paul’s domestic policies are popular, but with the increasing current tension with Iran have come increasing scrutiny and attention on his foreign policy stance which has drawn a sharp contrast between him and the other candidates. My belief is that Paul will go after Perry and Gingrich in these two debates strategically, hoping to deal their campaigns the all important fatal blow. A three horse race as opposed to a six horse race would suit Paul considerably more in his efforts to be the Romney alternative.

Turning to the dark horse of the race Jon Huntsman, it depends which Jon Huntsman turns up to the debates. Anyone who observed the Huntsman-Gingrich debates in December would’ve realised here is a candidate who is as equally intelligent as Gingrich, he has a very unique perspective on Asia-Pacific matters and an exceptional record as former Governor of the state of Utah.

Huntsman in my opinion has been too quick to play the “I’m your guy next door” routine in previous major debates. He needs to show he is serious on the issues, remain focussed and appear presidential like, all at the same time as challenging front runner Romney. Many believe Huntsman and Romney are from the moderate side of the Republican Party however, Huntsman has bet his entire strategy on doing well in New Hampshire. Perhaps Huntsman’s strategy was to wait until these debates before really showing what he is capable of doing. If so, it will prove an effective strategy, if however, he performs as in previous debates his entire campaign will be over once voting is completed next Tuesday.

Texas Governor Rick Perry appeared to be on the verge of pulling out of the race following Iowa’s result. In Perry’s favour going into these debates is the fact that expectations couldn’t be lower. Perry has become a hit on YouTube due to a series of blunders in his campaign and previous debates however, he has absolutely nothing to lose and his last few debate performances have been encouraging. I believe Perry will have a few key attack moments prepared for tomorrow night and he can choose his moment to go on the offensive. I actually expect Perry to surprise a lot of people for all the right reasons in both debates, and it could provide the boost he needs ahead of his make or break challenge in South Carolina later in the month.

Finally, I’ve saved the best for last, former Speaker Gingrich who many are saying he’ll be “Nasty Newt”. Other then Romney and despite the claims of many in the media and establishment, Newt as it currently stands, is the only other real electable candidate at a national level in the race. Newt was clearly hurt by the attacks from Romney and Paul in Iowa over the last month, and where he has tried to run a positive campaign, he now realises he has to not turn negative, but stand stronger.

Newt has a brilliant mind and like all brilliant people, they sometimes make mistakes but America as a nation needs a president who is prepared to change the course of Washington, has the knowledge and ability to do it and above all, someone who will not be afraid to explore new departures for the benefit of the nation.

Newt has performed extremely well during all the previous debates but must be careful not to be overly eager at attacking Romney tomorrow night. Newt in my opinion needs to focus on his own ideas & policies, if challenged on his record or a mistake must be honest and if necessary, apologetic. Most importantly, he needs to avoid appearing snarly.

Newt should focus on President Obama and not the other candidates unless they attack him. The watching public want to see the alternative to President Obama emerge and he needs to draw a clear contrast between what he’d do as president, compared to the president. This is where Romney attacking Gingrich has been clever, he has forced Gingrich to remain on the defensive and appear local while he strides forward appearing to look presidential and national level like.

Newt needs to play to his strengths and avoid going on the attack however; he needs to be prepared for them. Where Newt can win these debates in by focussing on President Obama and being firm but assertive in his responses to any attacks from the other candidates against him. If he follows these points and remains disciplined, he’ll win both debates comfortably and remind everyone, why he can be the real alternative to President Obama.

One thing is guaranteed from both debates; expect them to be highly negative and vicious in some cases. It is make or break time especially for Huntsman so the stakes are getting higher as the field is getting smaller. I’m hoping whatever the outcome; an alternative to Romney emerges over the next three weeks who can make the primary race a competitive one and not a foregone conclusion as the establishment and some in the media want for Romney.

Iowa Recap

Romney won, Bachmann quit, Santorum is rising, Paul is maintaining his status quo, Newt is struggling, Perry has faith, and Huntsman….who?  Iowa recapped:

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney won in Iowa. Honestly?  No big deal. Romney will gain momentum from winning, but when people look at the numbers they will realize that if Michele Bachmann wasn’t in the race, Santorum would have won comfortably.  If Santorum wasn’t in the race, Newt and Perry probably would have both outpolled Romney.  In Iowa, he got his fiscal conservatives and the social conservatives split the rest.  But it’s not all bad for Romney.  In fact, while Romney may have come to a predictable finish, he won by choosing his opponent.  Gingrich was a shoe in to win Iowa barely more than a week ago.  Instead, Santorum now has the social conservative momentum and Romney should easily win New Hampshire and could win South Carolina.  So Romney’s win is:

Good for: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum      Bad for: Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman

Rick Santorum

A shocking surprise to some, a mild surprise for others, Santorum has Huckabee’d Iowa.  With a great ground game, time, hard work, and the luck of Newt Gingrich being destroyed by Romney, Inc, Michele Bachmann, and the Republican establishment, Santorum is finally getting his shot at vetting.  Already, he is being called a war monger and “big government conservative”.  But Santorum’s rise may be too late in the game for a vetting process to destroy him.  Many social conservatives have been waiting for a reason to believe that Santorum could win.  From the day he started running the narrative has been that Santorum is simply unelectable on a national scale.  So, Santorum’s second place finish is:

Good for: Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney   Bad for: Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann

Ron Paul

Paul’s third place finish is certainly not what the Paul camp was hoping for.  Ron Paul came very close to breaking free from his libertarian ceiling, but in the end social conservatives showed they would rather take a gamble on the unvetted Rick Santorum instead of giving Ron Paul the ‘turn’ he was starting to experience.  Paul has been passed over as the anti-Romney.  He may be able to turn things around in New Hampshire, but a third or worse finish in New Hampshire should be a clear signal to Paul that the revolution is over.  Paul’s third place finish is:

Good for: Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney  Bad for: Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich

Even if Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann dropped out of the race and split their votes on a pro rata share, Newt would still not have passed Mitt Romney.  The fact is, Romney ran an incredible, strategic dismantling of Newt without even breaking a sweat.  In the meantime, Newt refused to go dishonestly negative, but managed plenty of headlines saying “Newt Goes on the Attack”.  Newt is realizing in time for New Hampshire, he won’t win with a positive campaign.  Can he win with a negative one?  New Hampshire will probably go Romney’s way.  But Newt needs South Carolina.  Without South Carolina, he won’t have the momentum to take Florida and Florida is the key.  So Newt’s dismal fourth place finish is:

Good for: Mitt Romney   Bad for: Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann

Rick Perry

Perry’s fifth place win got him to re-think his campaign.  But with Michele Bachmann choosing to drop out, perhaps Perry thinks he still has hope.  He should have decided to stay in Texas.  Perry’s placing is:

Bad for: Rick Perry

Michele Bachmann

Bachmann barely registered.  Iowa was her last hope to connect with social and evangelical conservatives and she failed.  Fortunately, this provided the wake up call she needed to see the end of the race.  Bachmann has decided to drop out of the race and return to Minnesota.  Unfortunately for Bachmann, she has not built the cult following that Sarah Palin did.  Hopefully she will continue to be a strong voice for the TEA party.

Good for: Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry   Bad for: Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney

As for the other contender, Jon Huntsman’s disrespectful snub of Iowa, especially in light of Romney’s stronger finish in the state and momentum, seals Huntsman’s irrelevancy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then there is Rick Perry.

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile the immediate effects of Iowa are apparent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Santorum’s words, Game on!

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