Romney’s CPAC FL Speech. “If you’re opposed to illegal immigration, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a heart. It means that you have a heart and a brain.”

Bookmark and Share    After his well received debate performance in Thursday evening’s Florida Republican Fox News/Google debate, Mitt Romney today delivered a casual but compelling speech to the Conservative Political Action Committee Florida conference. [hear speech below this post]

In his approximately 14 minute speech, Romney laid out the argument that his lifetime of private sector experience afforded him the knowledge and ability to make government work correctly.  He cited several examples of  how the state bureaucracy of Massachusetts operated before he took office and how it wasted time, money, and manpower on initiatives that he reformed for the better.  In general, Romney presented a case for his commonsense conservative touch and how it can effectively reform government, and limit it.

Romney also took the opportunity to lay in to his chief riva at the moment, Texas Governor Rick Perry.

After Perry used Thursday night’s debate to double down on his support for giving in-state tuition discounts to illegal immigrants and claimed that if you didn’t see it his way, you had no heart, Romney took advantage of his opportunity to address the large Florida CPAC audience and tried to place a nail in Perry’s electoral coffin.

Romney told the conservative activist’s;

“My friend Gov. Perry said if you don’t agree on his position to give in-state tuition to immigration, you don’t have a heart,” Romney said. “If you’re opposed to illegal immigration, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a heart. It means that you have a heart and a brain.”

While not your typical rah-rah speech, Romnney’s time addressing Florida’s CPAC conference was well spent.  He positioned himself as the man who possesses all the right conservative credentials, experience, and accomplishments, to effectively take on President Obama as the G.O.P. presidential nominee.

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In the Third Debate, Romney Wins,Cain, Gingrich and Santorum Shine. Rick Perry Bombs.

Bookmark and Share    Before we get in to the details, while White House 2012 is happy to provide you with one opinion of last night’s debate, we are also happy to provide you with both a complete transcript of the debate which can be found here and with a complete video version of the debate which is below this post.   Also, take the White House 2012 poll and let us know who you think won last night’s debate.

Now for the assessment;

With nine candidates and over 20,000 questions submitted by American voters, as one White House 2012 reader put it, last night’s Republican presidential debate was more of a Q and A than a debate.  Still, the forum did provide the opportunity for some engaging, albeit brief exchanges.  While most of those exchanges and some of the longest ones too, were between frontrunners Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, others like Rick Santorum also took advantage of the those exchanges, land some punches, and score some points……….at Rick Perry’s expense.

Insofar as winners and losers go, if there was a winner, it would have to be Mitt Romney.  Not so much for the quality of his answers,  but for his performance and ability to use the rules of the debate to his advantage and his main rivals disadvantage.  One such example was Romney’s presence of mind while under pressure, to deny Rick Perry the chance to counter any of his verbal punches, by not mentioning Perry by name. 

One of the debate rules was that if a candidate referred to you by name, you would have 30 seconds for rebuttal.  On issues such as Social Security and immigration, while Romney laid into Perry’s record quite extensively, he would go so far as to look straight at Perry, but never mentioned him by name.  At the same time there, was no misunderstanding who he was talking about.  But Perry was left leaning against the ropes and unable to fight back.

As for Romney’s answers to the questions he was asked, the former Massachusetts Governor made no mistakes and never once departed off of the conservative line.  Throughout the debate, Romney offered decent answers that no conservative could have a problem with.  On that score, since he walked away from this debate without giving any Republican a reason to vote against him, he most certainly wins.  The only area in which Romney failed was his passing up of the chance  to break new policy ground and  prove himself to be a bold leader who will think outside of the box and be the anti-establishment hero that many are looking for.

 At the same time, not ony did Perry miss the chance to become that bold hero many are looking for, he walked away from this debate with less than he had when he first walked on to the stage.

At times, Perry seemed lost for words and when he tried to throw some body blows to his critics, he missed.  Such was the case when after Rick Santorum stated that he found Governor Perry to be soft on illegal immigration.  To that charge Perry could only say, “I’ve got one question for him. Have you ever even been to the border with Mexico?”

To which Santorum replied simply “Yes”.

For Perry, Thursday’s debate took him two steps back, not one step forward.  This was especially the case on the issue of illegal immigration.  On that Perry  threw out a remark that will leave a negative impression of him in the  minds of many conservatives for quite some time. 

When he and Mitt Romney engaged in debate over Perry’s approval of offering discounted in-state tuition rates for the children of illegal aliens,  Perry claimed  “If you say that we should not educate children (illegal immigrant children) who come into our state for no other reason than that they’ve been brought their through no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart,” .  That remark seemed to cross a line, and not one with just the other candidates on the stage, but with the millions of conservatives in the American listening audience.  For many, it was the type of liberal attempt to make one feel guilty for the justified logic behind their own position.  Perry’s answer was a strange spin on another famous Texans attempt to be a “compassionate conservative”. however, while Perry’s slant on that phrase may have been compassionate,  it was not conservative.

But neither Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney let Perry get away with his claim.  In fact Romney swung a home run right over Perry’s head on the issue. 

“I’ve got be honest with you, I don’t see how it is that a state like Texas — to go to the University of Texas, if you’re an illegal alien, you get an in-state tuition discount. You know how much that is? That’s $22,000 a year. Four years of college, almost $100,000 discount if you are an illegal alien go to the University of Texas. If you are a United States citizen from any one of the other 49 states, you have to pay $100,000 more. That doesn’t make sense to me.” , said Romney.

But illegal immigration was not Perry’s only weakness last night.

Tell us who you think won the presidential debate

Right off the bat, Perry was asked about the number one issue in America today…….jobs. When asked where his jobs plan was? Perry answered, “Well, you will see a more extensive jobs plan.”    Sorry buddy, but telling voters that the dog ate your homework does not cut it in the real world.  Perry just looked stupid on that one. 

So we have our winner of the debate and the loser of the debate.  What about those in between?

Michele Bachmann had a few strong but routine answers but essentially, she was just there.

Ron Paul was Ron Paul.  While his cheering section hooted and hollered at his every word, his words were the same as usual and lacked the explanation of how he could successfully apply his libertarianism to government. 

Performing better than Paul, was former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson.  Despite being a Republican libertarian who is little known, Johnson was able to do something that Paul could not.  he was able to point to actual accomplishments.  At times, he even provided answers that put him on an equal footing with some of his better known opponents such as Romney and Perry.  When asked why he would be a better choice as a libertarian-Republican than Congressman Paul, Johnson replied I’m not going to presume to make that assumption” , but he then went on to  to distinguish himself from Pau quite well……… 

“I would like to say that I do bring a unique perspective to this stage. I started a one-man handyman business in Albuquerque in 1974 and grew it to over 1,000 employees. I have run for two political offices in my life: governor of New Mexico and reelection. I promise to submit a balanced budget to congress in the year 2013. I promise to veto legislation where expenditures exceed revenue. And if anybody doubts my willingness to veto bills, I think I vetoed more bills than any governor in the history of the United States. I think I vetoed more bills than all the other governors in the country combined.  Add to that, throwing out the entire federal tax system and replacing it with a consumption tax, the fair tax, which would absolutely reboot the American economy because it does away with the corporate tax to create tens of millions of jobs in this country.”

Johnson’s answer was strong and compelling.

In the  case of Newt Gingrich, he proved once again that he is ideologically the most true conservative and the most savvy.  But he did not distinguish himself as the one who could best institute his conservative concepts into government and he failed to overcome his biggest hurdle…..electability.   Interestingly though,  based on a question asked about picking a running mate from among those on the stage, most of the candidates chose Newt to be their wingman.

Herman Cain had a solid performance but not one that was strong enough to push those at the top of the field out of his way.

Perhaps the saddest performance came from Jon Huntsman. 

As in his first debate appearance, Huntsman tried to be funny, but as he waited for burst of laughter to ring out whenever he reached his punchline, crickets were heard.   It was very uncomfortable.  And to make matters worse, he really offered nothing worth while.  The most he seems tohave for us are boilerplate answers with hands extended outwards and a stiff delivery of bad attempts at humor.

All in all, given the understandable parameters of the type of debate we were presented, it was a worthwhile gathering that gave at least a brief sampling of the type of president each candidate would be or try to be.  However it set nothing in stone.  While Romney won, he has still not provided those who doubt his conservative credentials with the confidence they need to become believers.  While he did not say anything that conservatives can be unhappy with, he also did nothing to inspire them.  What will be interesting though is to see how much of a difference this debate has on Romney’s popularity among Independents.  In many state primaries, Independents and even Democrats are allowed to vote in the G.O.P. contest.   Being dissatisfied by President Obama, many of these Independent could show up at the Republican primaries to support the candidate that  they believe is most capable of beating the President. 

In that sense, I believe Romney helped himself immensely.  He certainly came off as one of, if not the most electable candidates on the stage.

Perry’s poor performance, while being a setback, was certainly not enough to knock him out of the race.  He is still very much in the race.  However, he must really be on his A game in the coming weeks.  He also needs to go in to the next debate much more prepared than he was for this one.

As for the others, they are essentially doomed to linger around the the back of the pack.  I think Michele Bachmann peaked with her straw poll win in Iowa and the rest is downhill from there.  Herman Cain will be able to hang in, but hanging out in the bottom tier is about all he is likely to do.  The only thing I believe we can expect from Huntsman is his withdrawal from the nomination contest.  Ron Paul is mired in the middle where he will remain not dead, but not exactly living either.  You might say that he is comatose. 

Were it not for an inability to raise money, I would have to say that after his debate performance, Rick Santorum would be able to emerge as a strong alternative candidate.  He is spirited and passionate, does not come off as scripted and is satisfactory to the G.O.P. base.  But money talks and Santorum just can’t raise enough money to really be heard. 

That leaves us with Newt Gingrich. 

I still can’t write Newt off.  He has great potential and the rebirth of his campaign that will occur when he unveils his new Contract with America could be very attractive to voters.  But even if that is so, Newt will still have an extremely high hurdle to jump in proving that Newt Gingrich, the man, is as good as Newt Gingrich’s  ideas.  If he can somehow prove that the messenger is as good as the message, he could give Romney and Perry a run for their money that will be expensive and exhausting. 

Now, the awards………..

Most Memorable Lines

Funniest Line of the Night:

“My next door neighbor’s two dogs have created more shovel ready jobs than this President.” 

 – Gary Johnson

Sharpest Attack Line of the Night:

“He [Rick Perry] doesn’t want to build a fence. He gave a speech in 2001 where he talked about bi-national health insurance between Mexico and Texas. I mean, I don’t even think Barack Obama would be for bi-national health insurance.” 

-Rick Santorum

 Most Sarcastic Line of the Night:

“I spent my life in the private sector. Not in government. I only spent four years as a Governor. (Turns head, looks at Rick Perry and says) I didn’t inhale” 

-Mitt Romney

 Most Logical Line of the Night:

“…sex is not an issue.  It should not be an issue. Leave it alone.  Keep it to yourself, whether you’re a heterosexual or a homosexual.”

-Rick Santorum

Next Most Logical Line of the Night:

“….but I believe that it is fundamentally wrong to give people money for 99 weeks, for doing nothing.  That’s why we had welfare reform.”

-Newt Gingrich 

Worst Line of the Night:

 “If you say that we should not educate children (illegal immigrant children) who come into our state for no other reason than that they’ve been brought their through no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart,” 

-Rick Perry

Best Line of the Night:

“It’s important to remember, this month, in the Reagan administration, September 1983, we created 1,100,000 new jobs. Obama’s socialist policies, class warfare, and bureaucratic socialism, we created zero in August.”

-Newt Gingrich 

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And here is the debate in its entirety:

Trunkline 2012: Thursday’s News from the Race for the White House – 9/22/11

 
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Romney Picks Up Conservative Support From Congress

Bookmark and Share    Darrell Issa , the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has announced that he endorsing Mitt Romney for President. On the surface, the importance of the endorsement is undeniably significant. Issa is considered by many a leading Republican figure in the G.O.P., particularly among Conservatives. As a candidate in desperate need of conservative credentials, Issa’s support helps. But below the surface are two contradicting factors at play with the Issa endorsement.

While Congressman Issa is appreciated in conservative circles, how convincing his endorsement of Romney will be to many Conservatives is in doubt. What is not doubted though, is that Darrel Issa is viewed as an establishment politician and Mitt Romney is not in dire need of support from the establishment. What he needs is anti-establishment support. Particuarly from the TEA movement, a large, active portion of the electorate that is disenchanted with politicians and politics-as-usual. The Issa endorsement does not help Romney on this front.

On the flipside, Darrell Issa’s endorsement does have a significant numerical, if not ideological benefit.

The 172 delegates that California sends to the national convention make up for a tad over 7% of the entire Republican delegation in the country or over 14% of the number of delegates needed to win the presidential nomination. And with California being a winner-take-all primary, that is a significant accumulation of delegates for the winner. That makes Issa’s influence important in California where he may have sway over a significant number of republican activists and leaders in his California congressional district. This will go a long way in providing volunteers for Romney, and organizing his Get Out the Vote operation.

Ultimately, while Darrell Issa’s endorsement of Romney may not exactly be the catalyst for a surefire Romney win, it will make a difference in California, a delegate rich state that will boost any candidate’s chance at winning the nomination.

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Palin’s Presidential Write-In Candidacy

Bookmark and Share    Sarah Palin had originally indicated that she would make a decision about a run for President in 2012 by the end of September. Yet in a recent interview with Sean Hannity she seemed to indicate that her decision might not come until November. When asked about her intentions and after being reminded by Sean Hannity that crunch time is approaching soon, Governor Palin responded by stating;

“There is still time, Sean, and I think on both sides of the aisle you’re going to see people coming and going from this race,”

According to Palin;

“In the Republican race, in this primary, I think people are still going to be coming and going because there is still time. And I’m still one of those still considering the time factor.”

When Hannity asked she didn’t need to make a decision by November, her response was;

“You do, legally you do, because you have start getting your ducks lined up to have your name on these ballots.”

But probably the most telling comment she made during her interview was;

“This is going to be such an unconventional election cycle. … Mark my word, it is going to be an unconventional type of election process.”

Trying to dissect Palin’s words is probably futile. The former Governor and Vice Presidential nominee is keenly aware that her every word is scrutinized, and from them are extrapolated some wild hypotheses . As such, she quite smartly, and intentionally throws out phrases that keep speculation about her front and center.

But there are several realities that can’t be denied. The most glaring one is that if Governor Palin intends to run, in order to get her name on the ballot in South Carolina and Florida, she must make her candidacy official and file the proper paperwork within the next 5 ½ weeks.

Or does she?

As Palin said in her interview, “Mark my word, it is going to be an unconventional type of election process.”

When it comes to unconventional, Sarah Palin is the quintessential queen of unconvential. No politician is as unconventional as her. And while some suggest that her unpredictable nature makes her an unlikely political leader, it can not be denied that much of Palin’s popularity is based on her unconventional tendencies. It is what makes her the anti-establishment candidate at a time when the popular TEA movement that decided the 2010 midterm elections, is looking for an anti-establishmentarian figure to lead our nation.

So what could Palin have meant when after admitting that by typical legal standards, one would have to make a decision about the presidential election soon, but then suggested that this election is not going to be typical?

It is true that Palin would have to make her candidacy officially within the next several weeks if she intended to have ballot access in the South Carolina and Florida primaries. But it is also true that Palin could still win both those contests without appearing on the ballot. If an aggressive write-in effort were waged, Palin could actually catapult herself into frontrunner status and turn this election on its ear. That would certainly live up to her promise that we are about to enter into “an unconventional type of election process.”

To help make that promise come to fruition, Palin could remain an undeclared presidential candidate and continue to draw thousands to the appearances she she is already making around the country. But with a shifted focus on visits to Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida, and a few additional words, she could be in this race until the Republican national convention concludes.

With all the talk about Republicans not being very confident or excited by any of the existing candidates, Palin can appeal to those dissatisfied Republicans, and TEA movement voters by remaining the anti-establishment Republican. She can simply suggest that if you really want to send a message to Republicans and Democrats alike, we should think outside of the box that the establishment has put us in and do not limit ourselves to the candidates that the two Parties offer. And then all Palin needs to say is……

“Write in the name of the person you want to lead this nation, don’t just mark off one of the names that the Party machine allows you to choose from”.

From then on, a movement will be born, a movement that will make writing Sarah Palin’s name in as a symbol of protest and dissatisfaction with the establishment……of both Parties.

In the end, Governor Palin may not be able to win the nomination solely as a write-in candidate, but it could also be that Governor Palin does not intend to be President. Such an effort could simply be an ingenious way for her to insure that her voice is heard and that she continues to influence politics in the way that she intends to………… by keeping the establishment on their toes and preaching the virtues of limited government and bountiful freedom.

Then again, no one can say that Palin would have to remain simply a protest vote. A strong write-in candidacy could actually provide Palin with enough delegates to significantly influence such things as who the next vice presidential nominee is and numerous planks in the Republican Party’s platform. And if this happens to be a very close nomination contest, she could even garner enough delegates to select who the next presidential nominee is.

But that’s not to say that Palin won’t be the next President herself.

If her promise of an unconventional election bears out to mean a Palin write-in candidacy, a strong showing in Florida or South Carolina as a write-in candidate could create enough waves to propel her ahead of the official candidates. If that were to happen, all bets are off.

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New Poll Shows Perry Has Lots of Work To Do

Bookmark and Share    A new poll of New Hampshire Republicans by Suffolk University has begun to raise doubt about Texas Governor Rick Perry’s electability outside of the South. According to the poll, Romney leads Perry by 33 points. Even more depressing for the Perry camp is that not only is the gap between him and Romney so wide, but he also trails behind Texas Congressman Ron Paul and even former Ambassador and Utah Governor Jon Huntsman. According to the results, Romney takes 41 percent. Texas Rep. Ron Paul garners 14 percent. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman finishes third with 10 percent, followed by Perry with eight percent, Sarah Palin who is not even an official candidate at 6%; Michele Bachmann 5%; Newt Gingrich at 4%; and Herman Cain, Rick Santorum and Buddy Roemer at or around 1%.

Perry’s fourth place showing in New Hampshire according to one poll which is not among any of the four that are typically used to gauge how a candidate is doing, is certainly not a sign that things are over for Perry, not even in New Hampshire. But it does suggest that Perry has a lot of work to do outside of the delegate rich South.

Between January and April 24th of 2012, 351 delegates are up for grabs from within the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states alone. In that same time period, Midwest and upper-Midwest states will have 238 delegates in play. This means that unless Perry locks up the nomination with substantial early wins in at least South Carolina and Florida, followed by substantial victories in California, Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri, and North Dakota which are scheduled to hold their contests on the same day in February, than Mitt Romney can assure Rick Perry a long and drawn out battle that Romney could easily win.

Currently, while Perry’s strength lies in the South, Southwest and possibly even places like Iowa, Romney has a leg up on Perry in the Northeast, upper Midwest and West. For Mitt, states, like Michigan, which he won in 2008, and Wisconsin and Minnesota are strong territory for him. In the Northeast, states like new York, New Jersey, Delaware, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and others, make it the region that is strongest for him.

And then there is of course California, which is a winner-take-all contest that is closed to only registered Republicans. A win there in early February will earn the victor 172 delegates. That is equal to the number of delegates in play in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida combined.

What this means is that Rick Perry will need to quickly show some strength outside of Iowa and the South. New Hampshire would be the perfect place for him to do that. But asking Perry to win New Hampshire over Mitt Romney is like expecting Mitt Romney to defeat Rick Perry in Texas……..it ain’t gonna happen.

Still, coming in behind both Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman is embarrassing for a so-called frontrunner. So Perry is going to have to work at New Hampshire. Even though a Southern strategy that would have him win the early states of South Carolina and then Florida can work, being blown out in New Hampshire will not allow Mitt Romney to stay in the game and survive until the states favorable to him allocate their delegates. At the same time, it must be realized that the earlier we decide who the Republican nominee is, the better it will be for the Party.

Until we have a nominee, the contenders will be beating up on each other. A protracted nomination contest will therefore only help to weaken the nominee up for President Obama to beat on. But a contest that wraps up the nomination decisively and early will allow everyone to focus on beating up on President Obama. As such, having a frontrunner for the Republican nomination blown out in New Hampshire, does not help anyone…..accept for Mitt Romney. Therefore if Perry wants to have any chance of securing the nomination early on in the process, he is going to have to do better in New Hampshire and demonstrate to voters that he can get votes outside of the South.

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Perry Calls Obama “President Zero” and Romney Calls Perry “Governor Sub-Zero” in Response

Bookmark and Share    Ahead of Thursday’s Republican presidential debate in Florida and the second debate appearance for Rick Perry, the Texas Governor has released a new a ad entitled “Rick Perry – Proven Leadership”[see ad below this post]. In it Governor Perry hammers President Obama on his economic record.

With depictions of barren land, boarded up homes, empty factories, and desolate scenes of decrepit urban ruin, Perry’s ad tags Obama as “President Zero”, a reference to his creating “zero“ jobs since he has been in office. But after the first half of the ad, a more optimistic tone is set with images of a happier, more pleasant America that include horses galloping through the surf , sun drenched cities, American flags, the statue of liberty, and happy factory workers shaking Perry’s hands. Perry’s point is driven home as you hear him describe the type of leadership that will lead to a thriving America as opposed to the ailing America that President Obama’s leadership has created.

The ad is somewhat reminiscent of the dramatic, quick cutting imagery, and shaky shots done at angles, with jagged audio cuts, and a booming motion picture-like soundtrack that became a staple of Tim Pawlenty’s web ads that he ran during his short-lived presidential campaign. And that is for good reason. It was produced by Lucas Baiano, a 23-year-old video prodigy who was once the director of visual media and film for The Republican Party.  Baino also did ads for the Republican Governors Association and in 2008 he  cut some spots for Hillary Clinton.

When Tim Pawlenty closed shop, Bainao was scooped up by Perry’s campaign earlier this month.

Lucas Baino

For his part, Mitt Romney, the man who is seen as Perry’s biggest rival (or vise versa depending on which side you’re on) issued a press release entitled “Governor Sub-Zero,”in response to Perry’s “President Zero”. In the release, Romney’s campaign alleges that that while the US economy produced zero net jobs in August, Texas produced even less. Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul added

In his campaign’s latest video, Governor Perry criticizes President Obama for an economy that added zero jobs in August, yet Texas added even fewer and has over a million people unemployed,”

While Romney’s distortion is less accurate than the exaggerations of Perry’s ad, attacking Perry’s record right now is a political necessity. Perry’s three terms as Governor of Texas have outshined the accomplishments of Romney’s one term as Governor of Massachusetts. However, the better strategy for Romney might be to play Perry up as the career politician and himself up as a successful entrepreneur who understands how government works, or in most cases, doesn’t work. But in order for such a strategy to fly, Romney needs to exhibit anti-establishment positions and make bold proposals that don’t just tinker with out arcane tax code, but instead scrap it and do things like create a flat tax. In order for Romney.

Meanwhile, Perry’s ad effectively sets a tone and while it says more about President Obama than himself, it is a good indication that Perry’s campaign does know the issue that can get him votes.

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