View Allen West’s Entire CPAC 2012 Speech

Bookmark and Share  Florida Congressman Allen West delivered a speech filled with lots of red meat for conservatives and raised the roof on CPAC in a way that few others can do.  In both the content of his speech and the delivery of speech, Allen West proves that he gets it and makes you wonder why others don’t, including those who are running for President.

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Newt the “Great Articulator” wins big in South Carolina

Not since President Ronald Reagan has a Politician stirred the deepest heartfelt passions & spoken to the sense of disillusionment, about every American household’s current struggle & experiences, then former Speaker Gingrich has this past week. “It’s not that I am a good debater,” Gingrich said, “It is that I articulate the deepest-felt values of the American people.” President Reagan may have been known as the “Great Communicator,” I welcome Speaker Gingrich as the average ordinary person’s “Great Articulator.”

Gingrich won 40% to Mr Romney’s 28% in South Carolina, a victory that seemed most unlikely a week ago. It proves that focussing on the issues and being prepared to stand up for traditional American values and speak directly to the people about the real issues, not the sugar coated spin often associated with the media’s interpretation of the issues, is what really appeals to the ordinary person. Other Republican hopefuls, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum and Texas representative Ron Paul, were trailing badly with 17% and 13% respectively.

In his victory speech Gingrich went out of his way to praise his presidential rivals, getting an especially lively response when he cited Rick Santorum’s “enormous courage” for campaigning, and winning, in Iowa when he had no money, organization, or media coverage.  He was careful to cite the issues the other candidates have championed, as well as offering personal praise. Gingrich also said, ”Obama is the most effective food stamp president in history, I would like to be the best paycheque president in American history.”

Newt Gingrich’s thumping victory last night was based not only on his willingness to stand up against the media bias, which has traditionally attacked Republican candidates. It is also founded in the support base and homes of every American household, it is jobs and shows true people power is still the effective tool in American politics.

Gingrich spoke about a pro-growth strategy similar to the proven policies used when he was Speaker to balance the budget, pay down the debt, and create jobs. Political commentators and the media in general, have grossly underestimated the influence of social networks such at Facebook, Twitter and others have had in this result. The support base are now better informed and more independent then in any previous election, due to their willingness and ability, to undertake their own research on allegations and facts on the internet.

This election is without a doubt a watershed in American history, it will dictate whether America recovers from its slow economic decline over the last decade, and have its American spirit and love of free enterprise restored. The election boils down to the traditional question and bottom line. “Are you better off now then you were four  years ago?”

President Obama who is a very likeable person and rode a wave of public disillusionment in 2008 to win the White House with the message of hope and change, respectfully has proved an ineffective and at times weak leader. The near $5 trillion dollars of spending, and a perceived detachment from how ordinary American’s are feeling, is a world away from the optimism he espoused. American’s sense that their society, and indeed government, have never been as divided before. The ordinary voters haven’t switched off from President Obama the person, they have switched off from his administration’s poor policies, and all too frequent politicking in crucial matters. American’s want jobs and action, not political rhetoric.

Gingrich’s victory, should also send a clear and distinct message to Governor Romney, who has already spent $7 million dollars in Florida on media ads, the message is that dirty personal attacks are not what is going to make him president in this election. Voters want to know what the candidates stand for and what they will do to help them, with a passion.  I still believe Romney will win in Florida due to his spending advantage. However, Romney needs to win over the hearts and minds of the voters. He is coming across as too insincere, too out of touch and too much the professional politician. Fundamentally, people are sick and tired of the personal attack ads he so frequently uses.

Voters don’t want their votes and support taken for granted any longer, and political consultant’s will need to adapt their long held strategies and rule books and recognise, and respect, the reality is the modern voter is better informed and educated on the issues than ever before. Ordinary grass root supporters are also fed up of having a preferred establishment candidate being jammed down their throats, as if their own views and choices don’t matter.

This election is about restoring the American Dream, restoring jobs, rebuilding the education system, rebuilding communities, and above all, restoring the American dream with its unique exceptionalism together with a clear vision about the American future.

People are no longer interested in the trash talking that most of the television networks engage in, while reality T.V. may have made the debates more attractive and appealing to the younger generation. People want to know they can have a secure pay check at the end of each month and are able to meet their commitments and have the personal security that brings. They want a leader who puts America and Americans first, not their party or themselves. Gingrich has a record for delivering large scale improvements and for putting the people first, not the political elite.

The most evoking line that signalled Gingrich’s intent going forward against the GOP establishment and media attackers was, “We want to run, not a Republican campaign, we want to run an American campaign.”

Gingrich is slowly becoming the champion of the American dream and American exceptionalism for its people. More importantly, Gingrich is starting to make the ordinary American believe again in their leadership and country, that with optimism, hard work and some sacrifice, the American Dream can and will shine brightly for generations to come if he is elected.

Welcome Gingrich, the “Great Articulator”.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell Endorses Mitt Romney

Bookmark and Share   Early this morning, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell who once declared that he would not be endorsing a candidate in the Republican presidential contest has seemingly reversed course and thrown his considerable clout behind Mitt Romney for President.

McDonnell called Romney a “results-oriented conservative” who can appeal to Democrats and independents and he told CNBC that his message is that if you want to win the race in November, vote for Mitt Romney.

On Fox News, Governor McDonnell stated that Romney has a proven record in the public and private sector of getting things done and argued that there are only three issues that will really matter in the election………. one being job creation, another being the need to get rid of “this crushing national debt” and finally, leadership.  And it is on those issues that McDonnell says Romney can win.

While McDonnell’s support has some value, the most interesting aspect of the endorsement is the timing.  It comes one day before what could be a game changing result in the South Carolina Primary.  It is pretty clear that the Romney camp, which has mastered much of the art of political campaigning, has begun to sweat and so they decided now was the time to unleash the endorsement of the popular Southern Governor in the hopes that it will help stem the perceived surge that Newt Gingrich is riding as the race in South Carolina wraps up.

In case you haven’t heard, timing is everything and its not any different in politics.

If you recall, back in December, Newt Gingrich flew to the front of the then crowded G.O.P. field.  The problem was timing.  He peeked too early and in the two weeks leading up to the Iowa Caucuses, he saw that rapid rise to the top erode and ceded ground to Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.  This time, in South Carolina, thanks to Newt’s ability to catch the crest of his wave at just the right moment, combined with a few well timed breezes at his back which consisted of Sarah Palin’s quasi-endorsement, Rick Perry’s suspension of his own campaign and endorsement of Newt’s, and two well executed debate performances, Gingrich looks like he is peaking just in time to be the first one to ride his wave across the Palmetto State finish line.   All of these conditions which have been beyond Romney’s control have forced him to play some cards that he has been holding close.  In this case, it is obvious that Gingrich’s success has Romney sweating enough to have forced his hand and play the McDonnell card.

How much it will help is questionable.

McDonnell promises to spend the closing hours of the campaign stomping in South Carolina, but Mitt already has the personal and organizational support of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and the insularly access to support from the state Party apparatus that comes with her.  And at the moment it is not stopping Gingrich from pulling ahead in the latest polls.

In my own estimation, I have concluded that even though McDonnell is a rising conservative star and a positive name to have your on side, in the case of Mitt Romney, McDonnell’s endorsement will actually benefit Newt Gingrich more than Mitt.  As the perceived “establishment” candidate, getting the endorsement of another elected  “establishment” politician, will help urge still undecided voters from among the large anti-establishment voting bloc, to move more Newt’s way than Mitt’s way.

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Newt under attack from a hidden source but is endorsed by Perry as the right man

Texas Governor Rick Perry stepped out of the Republican Presidential race in a dignified and gentlemanly manner this afternoon.

Perry is abandoning his run for his party’s nomination to face Democratic President Barack Obama on November 6, campaign sources said, and will endorse Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Perry scheduled a news conference in North Charleston, South Carolina, for 11 a.m. EST just two days before this Saturday’s crucial Republican presidential primary in the conservative Southern state, where he had hoped to revive his campaign.

“I’ve never believed that the cause of conservatism is embodied by one individual,” Mr. Perry said at a news conference here. “Our party and our conservative philosophy transcends any one individual.”

“I have come to the conclusion that there is no viable path forward for me,” Mr. Perry said. “I am suspending my campaign and endorsing Newt Gingrich.”

“Newt is not perfect, but who among us is,” Mr. Perry said, in an apparent allusion to his three marriages. “The fact is, there is forgiveness for those who seek god. And I believe in the power of redemption for it is a central tenant of my Christian faith.”

Mr. Perry’s decision comes as Mr. Gingrich has picked up support in South Carolina during the past week of campaigning with the latest Rasmussen Poll showing Gingrich at 33%, leading Romney at 31% in South Carolina.  Monday’s debate performance on Fox News combined with the unofficial nod from Sarah Palin, has seen Gingrich surge in the polls over the last few days. Gingrich had called on his other conservative rivals to drop out so that conservative voters can coalesce around him as the alternative to Mr. Romney.

Perry’s support and endorsement of Gingrich couldn’t have come at a more welcome and critical time for the Gingrich campaign, as his second and former wife Marianne, is due to give an interview to be broadcast this evening on ABC news. It alleges former Speaker Gingrich asked her for an “open marriage” or a divorce in 1999, at the same time he was giving speeches around the country on family and religious values.

Most of the allegations have previously appeared in an interview printed last year in Esquire magazine. The general feeling and belief among commentators and supporters is that this is a “put-up,” by a non Democratic source in an attempt to derail Gingrich’s rise in the polls again. There are many who are concerned that Gingrich’s commitment on doing away with some of the poor practices in the Washington inner-belt, if elected, are motivating some of the dirtiest tricks seen in recent elections mostly from within his own party.

Gingrich has been direct and honest regarding the mistakes he has made in his personal past; he states that he has gone to god and sought forgiveness and reconciliation over those events.

Some sources in the media have gone as far as accusing those in the GOP establishment aligned to Romney with the attempted smear although; these are yet to be confirmed. However, even most Democratic commentators are surprised with the timing of the attack, and are steadfastly insistent that the source lies within the GOP, and not the Democratic machine itself.

Perry was clearly aware of the allegations to be broadcast on ABC tonight when saying, Newt is not perfect, but who among us is.” It is noteworthy in possession of the information surrounding the allegations to be broadcast tonight, Perry still felt strongly enough that Gingrich was the right candidate to lead the party into the general election and beat President Obama.

While South Carolina has been a renowned slugfest in the past, this campaign season has seen a determined effort by many in the establishment and conservative media, to anoint Romney ahead of Gingrich, Santorum & Perry and have the primary process over even before it has started.

The conservative and grassroots Tea Party movement have noticed the efforts to make a Romney victory in South Carolina, a coronation of his candidacy & seal the party nomination. There is no doubt, voters and supporters are now more concerned with issues of policy, and the need to have a strong powerful candidate, capable of beating President Obama in the fall.

If the latest effort to slur Gingrich, over widely known, and long held allegations, is identified as coming from a Romney source. Not only will Romney’s efforts to defeat Gingrich have been in vain, his political career will be well and truly over, regardless of the vast sums of money he has built up for the primary campaign.

How Far Will Perry’s Endorsement Go?

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Rick Perry bowed out of the race for the Presidency and endorsed Newt Gingrich. Given how poorly Perry was doing in the polls, his endorsement isn’t worth squat if all it gives Newt is Perry’s voters. What Newt needs and Perry has are money and contacts. With the Florida contest only a short way off, Gingrich needs to hit the airwaves there with ads right now.

We should find out within 24 hours if Perry’s endorsement comes with real campaign support (donors, contacts, etc.) or not. If Newt goes in for a significant media buy in Florida to capture early voters before the weekend, then we know that Perry is fully behind Newt. If not, then Perry’s endorsement may not matter at all. The Texas primary is too far off to matter if Gingrich can’t get money for ads and an organization going on the ground in upcoming States.

Perry may have failed in his run for the nomination, but the reason he was considered a major player was not for his debate skills. Even when he struggled in the debates he was still considered a danger to the other candidates. The reason is simple: money. Perry is an effective fund-raiser and the only one thought capable of challenging the Romney war chest. If that power is fully behind Gingrich, then Romney could be in serious trouble.

Money not only buys ad time, but also the organization necessary to keep Newt from going off the deep end another time. Sometimes the candidate needs to be managed for his own good to protect his campaign image. Newt has benefited from basically running his own show and not getting bogged down in ‘candidate packaging’, but as he becomes the de facto conservative alternative to Romney – he’s going to need to be more careful. Having the money to blanket the airwaves helps with that as it will relieve some of the pressure he’s been under to ‘score a knock-out blow’ against Romney. With money, Newt only needs to be smart, responsible and conservative and he’ll defeat Romney.

The next 24 hours are the tell. If Newt hits the Florida airwaves with a large buy before the weekend, then he’s expecting money from former Perry donors. If he waits until after the SC results, then he’s expecting to have to raise money on his own. It may only be the matter of a day’s difference in buying ad time (before or after SC votes), but that day speaks volumes as to the level of help Perry will actually be.

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The Impact of Perry’s Decision to Suspends His Campaign and Endorse Newt Gingrich

Bookmark and Share   In what was probably the most sincere and eloquent speech of his 5 month long race for the Republican presidential nomination, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced that he was suspending his campaign and endorsing the candidacy of Newt Gingrich for President.  The decision which came in advance of what was an inevitable, single digit, last place showing in this Saturday’s  South Carolina Primary was not totally unexpected, but both its timing and the endorsement that came with it were.

In recent days it became clear that despite an endorsement of Rick Santorum by over 150 evangelical leaders, the evangelical base and conservative base of the G.O.P. was not coalescing around Santorum and continued to see both blocs dividing their vote between Gingrich, Perry, and Santorum.  At the same time, while Santorum seemed to be losing steam among those voting blocs, Newt was gaining momentum among them.  So much so that he even suggested that if Perry and Santorum really cared about the conservative cause, the two of them would drop out and get behind him.

Rick Perry apparently agreed and in his announcement, he issued a subtle call to arms for conservatives to indeed get behind Gingrich.

According to Perry, Gingrich is a “conservative visionary” and in a clear attempt to blunt the blow from an anticipated ABC News interview with Newt’s ex-wife Marianne, Perry stated;

“Newt is not perfect, but who among us is?” 

He added;

“The fact is, there is forgiveness for those who seek God and I believe in the power of redemption, for it is a central tenet of my own Christian faith.”

The latter remarks will probably have more of a positive impact on Gingrich’s candidacy than Perry’s actual endorsement.

Some recent polls indicate that Perry only has the support of 2% of South Carolina primary voters and while not all of those supporters will simply flock to Newt because of Perry’s decision to support him, Perry’s words about redemption will resonate quite well among the broader base of evangelical voters at large in South Carolina.  Those words will go a long way in helping many of those undecided evangelicals to break for Newt rather than Santorum.

To a great degree, Perry’s decisions to suspend his campaign and endorse Newt Gingrich are less important than the timing of those decisions.

Before the day was less than half over, Perry’s announcement blurred the focus of two other headline grabbing bits of news that had it not been for the distraction of Perry’s announcement would have captured the headlines and all the attention.

The first was the continued leaking of the ABC News interview with Newt’s ex-wife, who described her revelations as career ending for the former Speaker.  The other news was the declaration by the Iowa State Republican Party to “unofficially” certify Rick Santorum as the actually winner in that state’s caucus.  Even though a recount has given Santorum 34 more than Mitt Romney the Party oficially ruled the caucus a virtual tie between Santorum and Romney.  The unusual ruling was based upon the fact that the results from 8 different precincts are missing.

The glitch allowed Santorum to technically declare himself the winner and give him the hope of changing the narrative that has until now, dominated the Republican nomination caucus, a narrative which made Mitt Romney the clear frontrunner as the first non-incumbent Republican presidential candidate to win both Iowa and New Hampshire.

Given the few votes that separated Santorum from Romney in Iowa, and the fact that there are votes missing, Santorum would have already had a difficult time trying to change the existing perceptions about Romney’s electoral strength, but Governor Perry made it practically impossible for Santorum to do after he quickly replaced the Iowa Caucus headline with his own about the end of campaign and endorsement of Gingrich.

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Is Newt The Comeback Kid?

Bookmark and Share    Newt was focused and seemed to be resonating with the SC Republicans at the last debate. He made Santorum and Perry seem like lesser alternatives for the conservative vote. He’ll have to convince people finally in the debate on Thursday that he is the single conservative candidate to rally around if he hopes to win in South Carolina and hope to stop the Romney coronation. If anyone can do it, it is Newt Gingrich. At the same time, Newt is also the man who will have the hardest time doing it.

His attacks on Romney’s time at Bain were stupid and he now knows it. Many who found his attacks reckless turned to Santorum. They could be wooed back since Santorum was not their first choice and he is a fairly weak candidate. To get them back, Newt has been explaining his attacks and distancing himself from the SuperPAC that launched the worst of them. He doesn’t have much time to heal the wounds, but is making excellent progress. Whether he can pull it off this week without making another mistake remains to be seen. If he can pull it off anywhere, it would be easiest in South Carolina where he has many past supporters.

A victory for Newt in South Carolina can come in two ways: he can beat Romney or he can be at least 10 points ahead of Santorum. With either outcome, he can campaign on the ‘strongest conservative’ strategy fairly successfully and probably win back all those who lost confidence in him outside South Carolina. However if he stays tangled up with Santorum, the two of them will have to get in a room and decide who is going to drop out in order to unite the conservative vote before it is too late to make a difference.

But, let’s say that Gingrich pulls off the win in South Carolina by at least distancing himself from Santorum and Perry. Perry will, if he has any sense for his political future, drop out of the race so as not to split the conservative vote. Santorum should do the same, but would probably try to make one last stand in Florida hoping that Newt would only be strong in SC. All that aside, the question remains: would Newt uniting the conservatives be a good thing?

We have learned that the new Newt is just the old Newt with a couple dozen extra pounds. He is still mercurial and gets sucked into conflicts without seeing the bigger picture. The Bain mistake will likely not be his last and conservatives could find themselves without a candidate if he implodes later in the race. If he manages to hold it together and win the nomination, he is still a hard candidate to sell to the all-important independent voters. No one can question his debate skills, but if he can spin out of control so easily under the pressure of Romney’s attacks it certainly raises doubts that he will be able to battle the vicious lie machine called the Obama campaign.

Can Newt be the Comeback Kid? Would the party benefit if he were? I think he will succeed in being the final conservative standing and challenge Romney. I’d give him a 30% chance of winning the nomination if he pulls that off. I’d then give him a 25% of winning the Presidency if he were the nominee. I, and pretty much every Republican, would end up voting for him because of our intense desire to see Obama out of office. Yet, independents are fickle and can be bought by slick ads and accusations – especially with a complicit media helping at every turn. Newt would only need to make one mistake and he would be beaten over the head with it constantly. While I am entirely convinced he would mop the floor with Obama in a debate, I doubt Obama will give him the opportunity. Sure, Newt says he’s just hound Obama like Lincoln after Douglas. That would work if the media weren’t in the bag for Obama and would report Newt fairly. Since that is not the case, Newt would make a lot of good points no one he needs to reach would hear.

Don’t get me wrong. I think Newt is great. I’d love to see him force Santorum and Perry out of the race and get this nomination process focused between the three wings of the party with one candidate each. I think that the party needs that debate and to pick a direction on issues rather than personal bickering. I just don’t think Newt can pull off the final victory due to the mistakes he’s already made and the likelihood that he’ll make more when the pressure really comes on. In his defense, I think Santorum and Perry stand even less of a chance and if anyone can pull it off for the conservatives – it is Newt.

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The Fox News GOP South Carolina post-debate review

The Fox News South Carolina debate and GOP race was blown apart by two brilliant performances last night from Texas Governor Rick Perry, & former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Both men turned in factual, solid, cool and collected performances. What was also noticeable about the night wasn’t so much that both men attacked establishment favourite Mitt Romney, it was the manner in which the former Massachusetts Governor fell apart all on his own. Romney must have been glad that Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s consistent approach on foreign policy proved its usual unpopular self with the attending audience.

The sharpest contrast that was highlighted between Gingrich, President Obama and Mitt Romney was the desperately worrying fashion in which the conservative media and establishment favourite Romney fell apart. Make no mistake ladies and gentlemen; this was a train wreck of a performance by Governor Romney, which in a national debate with President Obama would certainly have secured another four years for the current incumbent.

The former governor of Massachusetts faced tough questions over negative campaigning and his failure to release his tax returns and fell apart on a seemingly straight forward question on hunting. The biggest damage to Romney was how many lines of questioning Perry, Gingrich and Rick Santorum opened on Romney during the course of last night’s debate, and how ineffective he was in closing them off or responding to them.

Only if Rick Perry had of turning in debate performances like last night four months ago, this race could look very different now. Perry has some good sound bites like, “South Carolina is at war with this federal government!” Perry’s masterstroke was when he challenged Romney to release his tax returns; Romney was very visibly hesitant and awkward in his response. Perry also argued forcefully against cuts to military spending and condemned the administration’s condemnation of the Marines caught urinating on Taliban corpses

Santorum challenged Romney over his Super Pac’s attack ad on Santorum’s voting record over felon rights, Santorum, went for the jugular demanding that Romney say where he stood on the issue. When Romney said he did not believe “people who committed violent crimes should be allowed to vote,” Santorum pointed out that Massachusetts under Romney had even more lenient rules for felon enfranchisement than the ones Santorum supported. “If in fact you felt so passionately about this, why didn’t you try to change that when you were governor?” he asked. Romney’s response was weak and those watching knew it. Santorum however, had his mantle as the challenger to Romney stolen very firmly away from him last night by Speaker Gingrich, and it showed in the post-debate interview with Sean Hannity when he seemed to lose his composure.

Gingrich was pressed into his best debate performance of the season by the Juan Williams over his comments calling President Obama “A Food Stamp President.” in a brilliant response littered with the very best elements of the concept of the American Dream. The excellent Juan Williams, who asked many thought provoking questions all night asked: “Speaker Gingrich, you recently said black Americans should demand jobs, not food stamps. You also said poor kids lack a strong work ethic and proposed having them work as janitors in their schools. Can’t you see that this is viewed, at a minimum, as insulting to all Americans, but particularly to black Americans?”

“No. I don’t see that,” Gingrich replied. Gingrich argued that many children could learn good vales and the value and respect of having a paying job as opposed to the employment of one expensive janitor in New York, “they’d be getting money, which is a good thing if you’re poor.”

“New York City pays their janitors an absurd amount of money because of the union,” Gingrich said. “You could take one janitor and hire 30-some kids to work in the school for the price of one janitor, and those 30 kids would be a lot less likely to drop out. They would actually have money in their pocket. They’d learn to show up for work. They could do light janitorial duty. They could work in the cafeteria. They could work in the front office. They could work in the library.”

“They’d be getting money, which is a good thing if you’re poor,” he added. “Only the elites despise earning money.”

Williams stressed that some had perceived Gingrich’s comments about child labour, as well as remarks he made this month singling out blacks when speaking about food stamps, as offensive to poor people and racial minorities.

“The suggestion that he made was about a lack of work ethic,” Williams said. “And I’ve got to tell you, my e-mail account; my Twitter account has been inundated with people of all races who are asking if your comments are not intended to belittle the poor and racial minorities.”

“You saw some of this during your visit to a black church in South Carolina, where a woman asked you why you refer to President Obama as ‘the food stamp president,'” Williams continued. “It sounds as if you are seeking to belittle people.” Williams’ points resulted in loud boos from the audience.

“Well, first of all, Juan, the fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history,” Gingrich said to applause. “Now, I know among the politically correct, you’re not supposed to use facts that are uncomfortable.”

“I believe every American of every background has been endowed by their creator with the right to pursue happiness,” he said. “And if that makes liberals unhappy, I’m going to continue to find ways to help poor people learn how to get a job, learn how to get a better job and learn some day to own the job.” Gingrich’s response was met with a standing ovation from many in the audience.

I’ve maintained throughout the last few months that Romney, is not strong enough under pressure or on foreign affairs. These weaknesses again came rushing to the front and if Gingrich wanted to press home his advantage last night, he easily could’ve done it.

Above all, I was pleased that despite a huge concerted effort by the conservative media and establishment, to anoint Romney this weekend in South Carolina, the ordinary viewer and supporter observed saw for themselves how weak a front runner Governor Romney actually is. People should not dismiss President Obama, and the scale of the challenge facing any GOP nominee in an election.

You will hear a lot of attempts in the coming days from media commentators saying,” Gingrich can’t win in the General election”. Ignore their efforts; this 2012 election has to be about issues, ideas and solutions. If the American people go for personality, the election is already a foregone conclusion. Only the voters and your average American person can make it about the issues that matter to them, jobs, the economy, health, housing and security.

Hollow Victories?

One aspect of the Republican race for the nomination that may yet become a serious issue is the penalty assessed on NH, SC, FL, AZ and MI because they held their primaries before February. It has been the case that no Republican has won the nomination without winning SC and either IA or NH. Yet, this year those victories are more a public relations victory than ones that really build a delegate base. Even if Mitt Romney swept the January primaries, he won’t have amassed the type of delegate count candidates would have historically had by Michigan. When he is only polling on average at 25% across the country and a couple other candidates still with money and a national campaign staff, Romney could be unexpectedly wiped out on Super Tuesday.

While the traditional conservatives are split right now between three candidates, there is time to unite even after Michigan and still effectively challenge Romney. That was not the case four years ago when the split among the conservatives allowed McCain to build not just a list of victories, but a strong foundation of delegates. With half of the delegates stripped from the early primary States and the proportioning of delegates splitting them even further, Mitt Romney will not have the lead that McCain had by Michigan even if he runs the table. That has to be cause for concern.

Complicating the issue is the candidacy of Ron Paul. He’s not going anywhere. He can raise the money and has the grassroots network to at least maintain his current percentage of the votes. As the conservatives coalesce around a single candidate, this will become a three man race. Even if the final conservative candidate cannot fully consolidate all of the support currently spread across three, he will only really need around 40% of the electorate to win the election if Paul stays around 20%. Romney voters are not energized for him, generally speaking. Already he is tied with Ron Paul when they are polled against Obama – meaning Romney’s ‘best candidate to defeat Obama’ pitch is already losing its power. When the conservatives finally settle on a single candidate (probably after Florida), that person will likely also pull even with Romney and Paul on head to head match-ups with Obama. With the moderates split, a conservative could cruise to victory.

Super Tuesday could also redefine the election from the current Romney vs. non-Romney into Paul vs. non-Paul. This is possible because the conservative candidate will battle Romney mainly as the main rival, leaving Paul to his 20%. Once the delegates get tangled up between Romney and the eventual conservative candidate, Paul’s slowly accumulating delegate count will become an issue. More moderate Republicans could begin to shift from Romney to Paul as Romney’s chances of victory wane. Gingrich, Santorum and Perry are all polarizing figures. Unifying each others’ supporters will be hard enough, but winning over the more moderate voters could be very difficult, especially if the kinds of attacks on Romney that have been made by them recently continue over the next six weeks. Disgruntled Romney supporters (the elderly in particular) may shift over to Paul giving him both the elderly and the youth. If the vitriol between the eventual conservative and Romney were bad enough, Romney could even endorse Paul just to stick it to the person who ‘robbed him’ of his nomination.

Of course, the conservatives uniting may not happen. An angry Perry or Santorum or Gingrich could pull out and endorse Romney rather than join with a conservative they are angry with. That would give Romney more conservative credentials and be just enough to let him steamroll over the final conservative candidate. With Paul pulling out at least 20%, Romney doesn’t need to be stellar so long as the conservatives don’t fully unite.

Certainly this is all speculation. However, the stripping of half the delegates from the early primary States has bought time for the conservatives to unify that they lacked in 2008. Combine that with a stronger Ron Paul who has gone all in this year (abandoning his seat in the House) and the early primaries just don’t hold the power they normally do. A third party run in the general election is very unlikely. But the dynamics of such a race playing out for the Republican nomination is not only possible but probable. The conservatives will unite. Paul will continue on. Romney will not be safely ahead in the delegate count after FL. How that plays out just can’t be predicted right now. Just don’t think that it is over even if Mitt sweeps right through FL. The victories are hollow when it comes to actual delegates gained. He’ll still be vulnerable. There are States that only Romney and Paul are on the ballot and conservatives could support Paul in those just to weaken Romney, complicating the delegate picture. This isn’t over and won’t be over for quite some time.

ABC News/Yahoo Debate GOP New Hampshire post-debate analysis

I stayed up until 02:00hrs (UK Time) tonight to watch with anticipation the expected slug feast that was meant to be the GOP ABC News /Yahoo debate. Sadly, the standard of debate questions were the poorest of any to date, and I actually felt more sorry for the moderators asking the questions, then for the candidates, who had to stand through this whole debacle which was capped off with the most amateurish of finishes.

Ron Paul was put on the spot early by moderator George Stephanopoulos, over his accusation of corruption against Senator Rick Santorum in his campaign ads.

“It was a quote,” explained Paul. “Somebody did make a survey and he came up as one of the top corrupt individuals because he took so much from lobbyists.”

There was a good composed opening by Romney and Santorum on the issue of the latest jobs report although Santorum was reluctant to repeat his criticism of Romney when urged by the moderator.

At that moment, there was a loud noise and the microphone had some feedback, Santorum seized the moment saying, “They caught you not telling the truth, Ron.”

Mr. Paul quickly went after Mr. Santorum as well, faulting him for his “big government” votes while in Congress, controversy regarding his residency, and money he has taken since leaving office.

“I wish I had 20 minutes to answer this,” Mr. Santorum said. “It’s a ridiculous charge, and you should know better.” He defended his earmarks on behalf of Pennsylvania and the work he has done in the private sector.

“You’re a big spender,” Mr. Paul insisted. “You’re a big-government conservative, and somebody has to say it.”

Governor Perry did well citing his record and Washington outsider status in his quest for the presidential role and accused Ron Paul of taking earmarks for his district and then voting against the Bill saying it hinted of hypocrisy. Ouch! Perry also did well on the military question highlighting the $1 Billion in cuts under the Obama administration in three years, not just the recent cuts.

The next heated exchange came between Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich in a fiery heated exchange following a remark earlier in the week by Paul that Gingrich was a “Chicken Hawk” for supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan even though he himself has never served in the military.

Asked whether he stands by the remark, Paul responds:

“Yeah. I think people who don’t serve when they could and they get three or four or even five deferments, they have no right to send our kids off to war. … I’m trying to stop the wars. At least I went when they called me up.”

Newt clearly annoyed but disciplined not to appear snarly coolly responds, “Dr. Paul makes a lot of comments. It’s part of his style,” he says. He adds: “Dr. Paul has a long history of saying things that are inaccurate and false. The fact is, I never asked for a deferment.”

Paul responds, ““I have a pet peeve that annoys me to a great deal, because when I see these young men coming back, my heart weeps for them.”

Gingrich then notes his father’s years in the military and chides Paul: “I think I have a pretty good idea of what it’s like as a family to worry about your father getting killed, and I personally resent the kinds of comments and aspersions he routinely makes without accurate information, and then just slurs people.”

The debate then turned to a social values question on Contraception which Romney, Huntsman and Santorum all did their level best at ducking the question and trying not to sound too controversial.

Step up Newt Gingrich! “I just want to raise a point about the news media bias,” he says. He goes on to say that there is more “anti-Christian bias” than bias against other religious groups under this current administration and attacks the administration for their treatment of the Christian faith and receives rapturous applause from the audience.

The debate continued with some further questions and probing on the Patriot Act and privacy, with Ron Paul delivering a good response on the right to privacy under the constitution.

The next controversial issues was the right to Gay Marriage which Romney ducked again, and clearly did his level best to view it as a states rights issue with Santorum effectively agreeing with his assessment and Jon Huntsman distinguishing between traditional religious rights and legal rights. Newt stepped up again with a good answer on gay rights and designation and contrasted his position well to the right of marriage.

On the issue of Iraq, a huge talking point will be no doubt Rick Perry’s tearing up of the textbook by saying he’d send U.S. troops back into Iraq. Nobody expected that response and no doubt his team will try and walk back his response.

There was some discussion over tax and economic plans but to be fair to the candidates, the questions were of such a poor standard that we learnt nothing new and the questions didn’t enable us to learn anything factually new.

All the candidates struggled on the issues of Afghanistan, Iraq and foreign policy in general with the exception of Newt Gingrich who gave a master class in the level of thinking and vision a president needs. “If you want to stop Wahabbism, get an American energy policy so no American president ever again bows to a Saudi king and rattled of a number of ideas and solutions with so much ease frankly, it made the other candidates look poor. Romney was again exposed showing he is great at saying what President Obama isn’t doing but can’t tell us what he’d do as President.

Santorum did well when talking about being a president who would bring every American together not be a divider like President Obama saying, “If you want someone that’s a clear contrast, that has a strong record, has a vision for this country that’s going to get this country going – an appeal to blue-collar workers in Pennsylvania, and Ohio, and Michigan and Indiana, and deliver that message that we care about you too, not just about Wall Street and bailing them out, then I’m the guy that you want to put in the nomination.”

Gingrich came out with a very humourous but well driven home point about President Obama’s attempt to develop a radical European socialist system in the United States which went down very well with the audience.

All the candidates did relatively well with the possible exception of Jon Huntsman who despite an encouraging start got completely slammed on the issue of trade with China by Mitt Romney and desperately resorted to speaking Mandarin to try and save the point, he didn’t.

Overall, the debate was the most disappointing so far, largely because of the lame questions being asked & it made of mockery of it, supposing to be a presidential standard debate being put on by the network. It left the viewers and candidates short changed. I couldn’t believe that throughout the entire debate there was no question on Obamacare, debt or entitlement reform.

Newt & Romney are in a league of their own compared to the rest of the field; I just wish we could narrow down the field and have some real substantive debates.

All candidates generally had a good night, Newt was the quality class responder however, Romney was the winner purely due to the fact that, nobody laid a glove on him and he hammered Huntsman on China.

P.S. I’d like to thanks Tina Revers for her input & contribution in producing this analysis.

A Republican Occupy Protester and Republican Gay Activist Lead Rick Perry in New Hampshire

Bookmark and Share  If a recent Suffolk University poll is an accurate indication of voter sentiments in New Hampshire, Rick Perry is going to have a tough time not only explaining why he should be President, but simply explaining why he should still be running for President.

According to the Suffolk University poll, Rick Perry shares last place in New Hampshire with activist gay Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger and is being beaten by former Democrat and Governor of Louisiana Buddy Roemer, a pro-Occupy Wall Street candidate who whines about how nobody cares about his candidacy.

The poll question and results were as follows;

Q7. If the Republican Primary for President of the United States were held today and the candidates were {alphabetical} Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Fred Karger, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Buddy Roemer, Mitt Romney, or Rick Santorum for whom will you vote or toward whom would you LEAN at this time?


Now I am not willing to conclusively state that Perry is done.  Some very strange things happen in politics…….very strange.  And we find ourselves surprised all the time.  Between that and the fact that a week in politics is a lifetime, you never know what miracle may occur to propel Rick Perry in South Carolina and beyond.

But at his point in time, if Rick Perry can not beat a relatively unknown, gay Republican who runs to the left of the Republican base, Perry will likely be the butt of more jokes in the conservative South Carolina Republican presidential primary, than a recipient of votes.

Just something for Perry think about before Saturday nights, debate.

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Perry’s Very Telling Decision to Stay in the Race

Bookmark and Share    When it became clear that Rick Perry was going to come in fifth place in the Iowa Caucus, it seemed as though his hopes to recapture the lead that he once held in the G.O.P. nomination contest were dashed.  The only two good bits of news to come out of Iowa for Perry was the fact that he won two of the 99 counties, the only candidate to win any county aside from Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul, and that he did not have a totally embarrassing last place showing.  That distinction went to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, whose sixth place finish put her ahead of only Jon Huntsman, the one major candidate who did not do any campaigning in the Hawkeye State and who summed up his appreciation for Iowa by saying “who cares”.

Then the writing seemed to be on the wall when Governor Perry came out to address his supporters and told them that he was going back to Texas to reassess his campaign.

But a strange thing happened to Governor Perry on his way home.  Between the time he decided to reevaluate his campaign and the time he woke up the following morning, an infusion of optimism compelled him to type a Twitter feed that read;

“And the next leg of the marathon is the Palmetto State,” Perry tweeted, “Here we come South Carolina!!!

The electronic announcement came as a pleasant surprise to his campaign staff and stunned the political world.  Few thought it possible for Perry to continue with his campaign after making an inference to how bad things were by stating the need to “reassess” his chances of winning the nomination.  Most experts agree that given the poor showing and all the time and money that he invested in Iowa,  no sincere evaluation of his campaign have  possibly found any promising reason for Perry to stay in the race.

From my vantage point, I can only assume that  Rick Perry believes that if doesn’t give up too early, the short history of this election which has created a new frontrunner every month, will repeat itself enough times to give him another opportunity to be in that position.  Perry probably assumes that Rick Santorum will not be able to sustain the attacks he is undoubtedly about to face and will not have the money to respond to those attacks effectively.  As a result, he is holding out hope for another opportunity to became the clear viable alternative to Romney.

But there may very well be another reason why Perry has found the strength to continue his fight.

Not long before the Governor tweeted his battle cry and aimed his campaign guns at South Carolina, it was revealed that a group of national evangelical leaders will gather in Texas for the second time in five months and determine who other Mitt Romney, they can all get behind.

Having a very good relationship with these religious and their associates, Perry may know something about what they are inclined to decide and it just might be responsible for his going from the need to take a close look at if and how his campaign could move beyond Iowa, to determining that he still has a chance to make a last stand in  South Carolina.

No matter what was exactly responsible for Perry’s change of heart, it is mainly a leap of faith.  Especially since Rick Santorum’s surprise strength in Iowa makes him the more likely candidate for movement conservatives to get behind.

Iowa Faith and Family Leader Bob Vander Plaats, a leading voice among evangelicals, had already issued a personal endorsement  of Rick Santorum before the Iowa Caucus but now, in its wake, he called on Newt Gingrich to reassess his candidacy, in hopes of mobilizing conservatives to rally behind Santorum.  Gingrich came in ahead of Perry but Vander Plaats’ plea to Gingrich came before Perry surprised everyone by his decision to stay in the race.  Had it been known that he intended to remain in the race, Vander Plaats would have certainly requested the same of Perry that he requested of Newt Gingrich.

So it would be hard to imaging that evangelicals leaders would choose to get behind Perry instead of Santorum, but either way, it would seem that Rick Perry is counting on some kind of divine intervention to turn things around for him.  And as for those evangelical leaders, I have a word of advice.  It took God seven days to create the earth but with less time than that remaining before New Hampshire, if their main goal is stop to Mitt Romney, they better get moving fast.

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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.

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!

“Iowa” – A great tradition in its finest form, but not the decisive point many believe

The waiting is finally over, the first real election day of the 2012 campaign, kicks off in the U.S. State of Iowa this evening, with the latest polls still showing some 41% of caucus going Republicans no closer to a decision on who to support, then they were six months ago. One thing is certain, they will arrive at their decision at one of 1,774 GOP precinct caucuses shortly after 7 p.m. EST this evening.

The settled top three candidates by most polls appears to be Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and the grandstand finisher, former Senator Rick Santorum making up the top three. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich who has been the target of almost $3 million of negative advertising by Ron Paul and the Mitt Romney affiliated Super Pac groups has seen his support in the polls plummet.

A number of different pundits have been casting their varying opinions over what the outcome will mean for the GOP candidates and the GOP race as a whole post Iowa. Iowa matters not so much in terms of who wins, but it does matter in terms of who loses and campaign finance. Iowa is a launching pad, but is not the finishing point and people need to keep that fact in perspective. The media presence alone in Iowa tells you it does matter and positive or negative reporting can benefit or hurt candidates is equal measure.

Credit should go to Senator Santorum who has practically lived in Iowa with his family for the last three months, travelling around in a pick up truck visiting all 99 counties and shaking hands. There is no doubt that his commitment to the state and his social conservative values has resulted in him gaining the evangelical support in the closing week. Santorum will receive a vital and much needed financial boost ahead of the three remaining January primaries.

In truth however, the GOP race is really about three candidates, Mitt Romney the millionaire former Governor from Massachusetts, former speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Governor Rick Perry. Romney and his campaign team have been very effective at dealing Gingrich a major blow in Iowa, but Iowa was always an aspirational rather than a likely victory for Gingrich. Gingrich really must win in South Carolina where Romney will do well to place third. The real driver of this GOP race will be decided in Florida and who goes forward thereafter.

Iowa & New Hampshire have great traditions, the other candidates whether it is financial constraints, poor strategy or eccentric policy positions will not be electable in the long run. The Republican race will essentially be Romney against the conservative candidate who will either be Gingrich or Santorum come the party convention in Tampa, Florida, come August.

Contrary to popular opinion, I still believe Texas Governor Rick Perry could emerge to be the biggest threat to Romney for a number of reasons. He is a proven traditional conservative in his values, he can attract large financial support to prolong his campaign where other candidates will struggle and above all, he has a very successful record of governing.

Former Governor Romney clearly has been the establishment pick for the nomination and pollsters will try their level best to convince you, that he is the only candidate capable of beating President Obama. I do not concur with that opinion; I believe there are five candidates out of the remaining seven on substantive policy issues that could beat President Obama. My over riding concern with Mitt Romney is that he simply doesn’t like to be challenged and will fall apart under a relentless barrage from the Obama campaign. Romney hasn’t been challenged yet and if he does come under any real sustained attack, I believe he will crumble.

The Obama team have spent considerable time and money expecting a likely Romney win and an early Romney victory in the GOP primary campaign will assist the Democrats and hurt the Republicans in the general election. The longer the primary campaign goes on and the more, all the candidates are tested on their positions and policies in a meaningful and constructive way, the better it will be for party and country. America needs candidates who have a vision with the ideas, solutions and leadership to restore it to greatness. It doesn’t need another election delivered on sound bites and expensive media buys, substance has got to be the issue.

Iowa does matter because it will reduce the size of the field in a matter of weeks however, more importantly, it will also leave less places for those remaining to hide away from their records and policy positions.

I love the tradition of Iowa and all it offers presidential politics however, we must get it into the right perspective, it is not a decisive part of the election race, it is not the end all or be all that some commentators try to portray it as, there are still 49 state races to follow.

Iowa plays host in its finest traditions to the real presidential politicking we all crave, and what it does deliver is a whittling down of the field. The whittling down of the field in this election year is unlike elections will be crucial, as the focus has to be on policy and not personality going forward.

The Republican Party can only win the 2012 election by selling a vision with ideas and solutions to the American people. If the candidates and party make it about personalities in the primaries or general election then they are certain to lose.

Observers should be aware that with the revised primary calendar and changed party rules, the race for 2012 could well be much longer and less predictable then many people and commentators believe.

The Importance or Lack of Importance of Iowa to Each of the Candidates

Bookmark and Share    While readers are free to disagree on this point, it is nonetheless a political reality, that the Iowa Caucuses will bolster or diminish the chances of several candidates but in the end will do little to determine the ultimate Republican nominee.

The fact of the matter is that the lack of an undeniable favorite consensus candidate among Republicans and a higher than average number of undecided voters at this stage in the game will allow for wide swings in popularity for one candidate or another based upon regional idiosyncrasies and local influences in ways that are far more significant than in recent presidential nomination contests.

With the economy still proving to be the issue at the forefront of the election,  Mitt Romney and his succesful background in such things as business and even his incredibly well engineered turnaround of the 2002 Winter Olympics, has allowed him to squeak by as one of the most promising figures when it comes to that critical issue.  However; Romneycare and doubts about his committment to social conservatives issues have prevented Romney from capitalizing on his positive economic credentials as much as he could have.  Meanwhile, social conservatives have failed to find a single figure that they can comfortably get 100% behind.

Given these circumstances, Iowa’s results will still leave the field with very inconclusive results that will not begin to get any clearer until South Carolina and Florida hold their primaries. Nevertheless, at this point in time, the stakes are higher for some than others in Iowa.

Do or Die:

For Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum, anything less than a third place showing will leave them struggling for relevance, a position that will only be compounded by the difficulty they face in New Hampshire where Mitt Romney’s victory is a foregone conclusion and which is the only state that longshot candidate Jon Huntsman finds himself to be much of a factor.  This will make South Carolina Bachmann, Perry, and Santorum’s only hope of becoming viable candidates as the nomination contest moves ahead.  So for these three candidate the race is on for third place.  Anything better than that would be considered a surprising finish tha will give them a brief opportunity to take advantage of the spotlight.

Establishing Themselves as the Clear Alternative to Romney:

Newt Gingrich is the candidate who has the best chance of truly establishing himself as the alternative to Mitt Romney, in order to do this he can ill afford anything less than third  a place finish.  Short of that, Newt will have a hard time maintaining momentum as he heads in to South Carolina and Florida.

Saving Face:

There is a low bar for Mitt Romney to meet in Iowa.  He merely needs to avoid being embarrassed with a finish any lower than third place.  But even if he did happen to finish towards the very bottom of the pack, chances are he will still win in New Hampshire and go in to South Carolina with a strong organization and the backing of the state’s popular Tea Party Republican Governor, Nikki Haley.  But on the flip side, a first place showing by Romney will go a long way establishing the type of impression of inevitability that could stymie the momentum that other candidates may be establishing in their plight to become the candidate with the best chance of beating Romney.

Mattering:

Jon Huntsman is considered the top of the bottom tier candidates that consist of Gary Johnson and Buddy Roemer. However being slightly ahead of two candidates who nobody really knows is running for President or really cares if they are running for President, does not say much. And Iowa is a state that that Huntsman simply ignored in order to focus on New Hampshire.  For this reason, Jon Huntsman is essentially of no consequence in the Iowa Caucus and just wont matter.  The only way his name will even be mentioned is if he somehow manages to beat anyone else and not come in last place.

Achieving Undeniable Viability:

Ron Paul’s rise in statewide polls of Iowa has now put him in the unenviable position of needing to meet very high expectations.  With such high expectations anything less than second place will generally be seen as a setback and will do little to help Ron Paul to begin turning around his numbers in other states, most of which place him in the middle of the field.  But if Ron Paul does meet current expectations with either a first or second place finish, he will merely remain a significant barrier between Romney and the emergence of a viable alternative to Romney.

A first or second place finish for Paul in Iowa will make him an undeniably significant candidate who can not be ignored, even by me, a die-hard anti-Paul conservative, or as Pauliacs call me, a neo-con.  However; as Newt Gingrich stated, it will be hard to imagine that Ron Paul will fly among mainstream Republicans and “decent Americans”.   While his limited government views are applauded, his isolationist tendencies which he denies having, will ultimately disqualify him in the eyes of voters who understand that the first constitutional responsibility of an American President and our federal government, is our national security and foreign policy.  Ron Paul’s unwillingness to come up with a proper defense and foreign policy, will ultimatelylead to the type of conclusion of Ron Paul that  Newt Gingrich expressed in his Tuesday afternoon interview with Blitzer, when he stated;

“As a potential President, a person who thinks that the United States was responsible for 9/11, a person who believes,…who wrote in his news letter that the World Trade Center bombing in ’93 might have been a C.I.A. plot,  a person who doesn’t believe that it matters if the Iranians have a nuclear weapon, I’d rather just say, you look at Ron Paul’s record of systemic avoidance of reality,”

Ultimately, I believe rational Republicans will come to the same conclusion that Newt believes they will.

The But:

Given the incredible anti-establishment sentiment within the electorate and a deep TEA movement-like desire to send a message to both Republicans and Democrats, and the lack of a singular candidate with very strong support behind them, even I can’t be sure that Ron Paul will fail in his attempt to draw the nomination down to a contest between himself andMitt  Romney.  If there is one thing I know in politics, it is that you never say never and given the volatility and indecision of the Republican electorate, Ron Paul might benefit from a social conservative vote that is deeply divided by far too many candidates, and an unusually high desire by voters to cast a protest vote for Ron Paul and make him the vessel through which they make their anger known.  Realistically, such circumstances will merely help assure Mitt Romney of the nomination in the end but it will still make Ron Paul a far more significant figure in the 2012 election than many other than Paulites, assumed possible.

Key Factors in the Closing Days

In these final days of the Iowa Caucuses, several factors will have a significant effect on the results.

A very large undecided vote can be swayed  in to the camp of one candidate or another by any number of things.  Most powerful of all would be an embarrassing last minute disclosure that could cost the unlucky victim support they already have and the support of those who were leaning towards them.  The other would be a successful pitch that inspires social conservatives to get behind one candidate and that candidate’s ability to coordinate the type of Get Out the Vote operation that delivers that social conservatives support to their caucus locations on Tuesday night.

Organization and momentum will be key and anyone who inspire and channel that momentum in these closing days, could pull off a surprise finish.  The two candidates with the greatest potential in that area are the two Ricks.  Both Perry and Santorum are best situated for such a result.

The final influence over the results in the Iowa Caucus will be something that no campaign can really effect……..the weather.

Bad weather favors Ron Paul.

His supporters are fanatics who will not allow anything to prevent them from voting for him.  If there is 6 feet of snow falling and a windchill factor of 6 below, expect Ron Paul to land a big win.

Others who would benefit from bad weather, but to a lesser degree than Ron Paul, are Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum.

Their supporters tend to be more deeply committed than are those of Romney, Perry, and Gingrich and they too will show up in significant numbers despite any foul weather.

Good weather favors Romney and Gingrich.

Both these men have established relatively wide support that does not run very deep.  This means with good weather, their large but not highly motivated number of supporters will actually show up to cast their caucus vote for them.  Such would not be the case if  bad weather made getting to their caucus location seem more trouble than that it was worth to them.

At the moment, it looks like the weather in Iowa on the day of the Caucus will be cold but clear.

Bottom Line:

Iowa will will have at best, a minimal effect on the race.  Just as it did in 2008 when the eventaul Republican nominee, John McCain, came in fourth place behind Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and Fred Thompson, and just as it did in 1988 when then Vice President George H. W. Bush found himself in third place behind Bob Dole and Christian Broacast Network founder, Rev. Pat Robertson.  And it will probably matter as much in 2012 as it did in 1980 when George H. W. Bush defeated Ronald Reagan in that year’s caucus.

The start of the real race won’t occur until January 21st.  It is then that South Carolina’s primary will set up the race between Mitt Romney and one other candidate as they race moves on to Florida which holds its primary on January 31st.  And it is Florida which will produce the best indication of who the ultimate nominee is likely to be.

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