Romney Outpacing Obama as Conservatives Relent

With Santorum out of the race and Gingrich out of money, social conservatives are beginning to embrace their fate.  The last man standing between us and four more years of the failed Obama administration is Mitt Romney.  Gallup and Rassmussen are giving Romney a lead over Obama, and the Gallup lead is increasing.  This has been an improvement over recent weeks for Romney.

Part of the shift in the polls can be attributed to an administration in a sort of free-fall as they are racked by scandal, gaffe, and misstep.  In recent weeks, Obama was caught on mic telling the Russians his current policies are a charade, a Democrat adviser declared mothers to be out of touch and unaware of economic issues, one of Obama’s biggest donors backed up the idea declaring that Ann Romney never “got her ass out of the house” and to work, Obama’s secret service is hiring hookers, the GSA is throwing extravagant parties, and Obama is joking about finding new spots for the wealthy first family to vacation.  While Democrats criticize Ann Romney for being too wealthy and out of touch to comment on economic issues that women face, Obama is defending his wife’s extravagant vacation spending by saying it’s not his fault they have to travel with secret service.  In the meantime, Obama is tossing out vague populism and praying that something sticks.

On the other hand, Romney is being helped by social conservatives who are less and less offended when the pollster acts like Romney is the only Republican left in the race.  Santorum supporters are less willing to have their heart broken twice and are accepting that Romney is the man.

Here is where Romney has to be careful.  He is making a good move by focusing wholly on Obama, but his quest to funnel independents into his big tent could result in a simple relocation of his big tent leaving conservatives out in the cold like 2006 and 2008.  Romney has recently said he supports eliminating certain tax breaks for more wealthy filers, which quickly blurs the lines in the sand between him and Obama.

Conservatives are not looking to associate their good name with a better candidate.  They are still looking for the best candidate.  If Romney makes himself unworthy of the title, some conservatives will stay home.  He needs them more than he needs wishy washy independents.

Bad News for Romney?

Romney declared today to be a good day for his campaign.  The media easily agreed, following their template that Romney is already the nominee.  However, the good news may end up being all for Gingrich.  The long dead in the water conservative finally has what he has needed for a second resurgence: no competition for the social conservative vote.

In fact, Newt made the point today that he would love to get Santorum’s delegates.  Newt is right, he is far closer to what Santorum’s delegates want than Romney.  While Romney is far away ahead of both candidates on their own, together their delegates number more than 400.

Gingrich’s next hope for a good day won’t come until May 8th, and Romney is sure to sweep the blue states that vote on April 24th.  In fact, nearly certain victories in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island could seal the deal.

On the other hand, Gingrich could start a come back in Indiana and could win North Carolina and West Virginia with some hard work.  In fact, May should favor the remaining social conservative, culminating with the 155 delegates in Texas.  May could be enough to provide Gingrich with the convention floor battle he’s been hoping for.

On the other hand, without a strong ground game, and with limited funds and no media recognition that he even still exists, Newt may never have a chance at realizing the potential the Santorum exit has given him.

Is Mitt Bouyant? Or Santorum Sinking?

The day before Super Tuesday, Mitt Romney is looking good.  It’s looking like he will take the key state of Ohio and could take Tennessee.  Both of these are very close races.  But Romney’s ascendency back to the top is marked by Santorum’s dive in the polls, and Newt’s resurgence again.  Newt will win Georgia, which has the most delegates of any Super Tuesday state.  Newt is also now tied with Santorum and within one point of Romney in Tennessee according to one poll.  Just last week, Santorum was looking good in both Ohio and Tennessee.

If Santorum is suddenly seen as faltering, we may see the polls seesaw back to Newt on fears of unelectability.  However, at this late stage that may serve to only help Romney, unless Santorum loses big time.  If Santorum comes in third in Tennessee or Ohio and Gingrich easily wins Georgia, the shift back to Newt could be significant.

Consider this, if Santorum was not in the race and his voters went to Newt, Newt would sweep Ohio, Tennessee, and Georgia.  On the other hand, the same could be said for Santorum if Newt dropped out and his votes went to Santorum.  In either case, Romney is the beneficiary of the social conservative split.  Meanwhile, Ron Paul is fleeing from social issues as he descends back into below 10% irrelevancy.

This could be short lived however, as Republicans revisit the myth that social issues are losers in elections.  As I pointed out the other day, a one dimensional economy candidate is going to struggle against Obama.  Republicans are more likely to be inspired to go to the polls for a bold conservative, and Romney is all pastels.  If Santorum falters tomorrow and Newt remains on message, this one could be far from over.

Reality Check

As we head into Michigan and Arizona, the Republican party needs a reality check.  Fortunately, here it is:

Rick Santorum

The media is doing their best to paint Santorum as some sort of radical conservative religious whacko.  Hardly.  Santorum on social issues is saying what most Republicans are thinking.  The thing is, conservatives are scared to death of Obama winning re-election and many will gladly sacrifice what they believe to take the candidate everyone is telling them can win.  But here’s the thing, Obama’s economy has about a 26% approval rating and any Republican looks amazing economically next to Obama.  If Obama wins, it will be because he runs an incredible marketing campaign, race bates, and paints his opponents as somehow more socially radical than he is.  It won’t be because Obama saved the economy, unless moderates and independents are even more gullible and stupid than we thought.

What should keep Republicans up at night about Santorum is his passion on Iran.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want Iran to get a nuclear weapon.  I think they will use it on Israel if they do.  But America is not ready to commit to another war.  I think we would have to see another 3,000 US civilians die on one day before the majority of Americans get the stomach for what Santorum has been talking about.  That includes what he has talked about with central America.

Mitt Romney

Romney is uninspiring by design.  His economic plan is a mixture of timid populism.  In the end, what he is running on is his record of creating a great deal of personal wealth and success, as well as his management skills.  But Warren Buffett, another populist, has also made great personal success through good management, and I think he would be a terrible President.  If this election were solely about the economy,the DNC would be looking for a new candidate and Romney would already be the GOP candidate.  The fact is, as long as Romneyites continue to downplay social issues, they will continue to loose the support of the majority of conservatives who actually care about social issues.  Believe it or not, many Americans on both sides of the aisle hold the value of their social and religious issues higher than the economy.   For example, many pro-lifers would sacrifice a great deal of wealth to stop the murder of the unborn.

What keeps Republicans awake at night about Mitt Romney is the fact that even his economic plan has been as malleable as his social stances.  What was supposed to be Romney’s conservative strength has instead turned into calls to raise the minimum wage and tax the rich to redistribute to the poor.  In each case, this was a reaction from the Romney campaign to criticism from the left.

Newt Gingrich

Newt is the smartest candidate and he has the best ideas.  It is no secret that I believe this.  But Newt is easily destroyed by opponents and the media.  He has tried to run a cheap campaign with little or no ground game, which makes victory as visionary as a base on the moon.  Part of Newt’s problem is that now his electability is questionable instead of Santorum’s.  Newt isn’t going to win anything until he re-establishes himself as the only electable anti-Romney.  Every time Santorum wins another state, Newt’s chances dim even more.  Get ready for things to start looking real bad as Santorum wins Arizona and maybe Michigan.

What keeps Republicans awake at night about Newt Gingrich is how easily he is destroyed by negative campaigning and how weak his campaign structure is.  If Newt can’t beat the unelectable Santorum and uninspiring Romney in every state, how would he propose to beat Obama?

Ron Paul

No one ever thought Ron Paul would win, except maybe his 10% who also think that being obnoxious will win people over.  However, it has been noted that Paul seems to have a cozy relationship with Mitt Romney.  Perhaps Paul also thinks only Romney can beat Obama.  Or, as some have suggested, maybe Paul has a secret deal with Romney to secure a VP slot for him or his son.  Actually, a Romney/Rand Paul ticket would be an incredibly smart idea and might be the only thing that can bring the extremes of the Republican party back together.  The only thing, of course, other than Obama himself.

What keeps Republicans awake at night about Ron Paul is his Iran policy.  Yeah, maybe we aren’t ready to go to war in Iran like we did in Iraq.  But I also don’t think most Americans are ready to stick their heads in the sand and pretend that Iran isn’t a threat.  I think fewer Republicans have an appetite to continue the World America Apology Tour under a different name.

Barack Obama

The real reality check for Republicans should be a refocusing on Barack Obama.  Believe it or not, there are people out there who support him.  After Solyndra, Fast n Furious, reversing Mexico City policy, forcing religious organizations to provide abortion pills, Obamacare, and everything else Obama has done, there are actually cars on the road with Obama 2012 stickers on them.  Somehow, Obama still has a shot in this race.

What should keep Republicans awake at night about Barack Obama is that despite all that he has done to this country and to the rule of law and constitution, there are people who still support him.  The media refuses to vet Obama, even ignoring his radical social positions on abortion.  Meanwhile, in desperation Santorum is releasing economic plans that are going ignored by the party and media.  GOP candidates are doing a great job of getting their message out.  Unfortunately, their message is that each other suck.  Let’s hope that Republicans will find a way to inspire the entire base, and expose Obama on fiscal AND social issues.

Too Bad The Debate Won’t Matter

It is way too late in the game for the groundswell of Santorum supporters to turn back and take a gamble on Newt.  At stake is handing the Republican nomination to an establishment Republican with a liberal tax plan, timid economic plan, and nothing more than a strong business reputation to run on.  But after last night’s debate, the choice for the Republican nominee is as clear to me as the day I endorsed him.

I was proud of Newt for making a supremely important point in the debate over contraception.  The issue isn’t a debate between someone who wants to keep birth control pills legal and someone who wants to ban all contraception and chain women to the kitchen sink.  The debate is between someone who voted to make it legal for doctors to kill babies after they are born and the eventual GOP candidate who simply wants to protect religious organizations from having to pay for abortion pills.  The radical here is most definitely Obama and both Newt and Mitt pointed that out.

Santorum struck out more than once.  He came across as arrogant, angry and mean.  He has already taken a great deal of heat for dismissing unprincipled votes as “taking one for the team”.  This is the opposite of what anti-establishment Republicans are looking for.  I will give Santorum one very good mark though for making clear that when he talks about what is wrong with the family in America, he id not proposing that we use the government to solve it.  I mentioned that a couple days ago as something Santorum has not done a good job making clear.

Romney did a poor job connecting.  He has put up a conservative facade, but his opponents consistently poked holes in it.  In the end, he will keep his diehard supporters and establishment Republican allies, but he continues to disappoint.

Ron Paul continues to live in a time machine fantasy world where we supposedly can ignore what Iran is doing because we made them do it in the first place and ignoring them will make them go away.  Ron Paul does not seem to understand that on a scale of rationality, radical Islamic terrorists make the communists and fascists seem like Locke and Des Cartes.  Mutual guaranteed destruction is no great incentive for peace when offered to suicide bombers.

Unfortunately, Newt does not have the ground organization to convince Santorum voters to switch back.  But after last night’s debate, we may be kicking ourselves for a long time for overlooking him in 2012.

Is a Romney/Paul Ticket in our Future?

After the most recent Republican presidential primary debate, the Santorum campaign beganfloating rumors that the Ron Paul and Mitt Romney campaigns had teamed up to take out the socially conservative politician.  The rumors come at a time when the Michigan campaign is heating up ahead of its February 28th primary election and the candidates are competing for every vote.

Following Wednesday’s Republican debate, Santorum suggested that Ron Paul and Mitt Romney had teamed up in their attacks against Santorum, telling reporters that “You have to ask Congressman Paul and Governor Romney what they’ve got going together, their commercials look a lot alike and so do their attacks”.
Rick Santorum’s top campaign strategist took the rumor even further, suggesting that the two have a “tag-team strategy” and an “alliance”, and even went as far as to suggest that Romney was planning on taking Ron Paul on as his vice presidential running-mate.  Ron Paul has said in the past that despite significantly different foreign policy positions and disagreement over the Federal Reserve, he and Romney get along well.
The Mitt Romney campaign responded by denying that there was any coordination between the two campaigns, his chief strategist Stuart Stevens telling reporters that “I think that’s a sort of whiney silliness…to say ‘people are ganging up on me’ in a debate where there’s only four people in the debate and they’re raising questions kind of speaks for itself.”

Isn’t Obama a Theocrat?

Much has been made of Rick Santorum’s recent comments about Obama’s bad theology.  The media has tried to turn it into Santorum questioning Obama’s Christianity.  This is odd since the media at the same time is attacking Santorum for his Christianity.  Apparently Democrat brand Christianity is fine.

But this got me thinking, isn’t Obama a theocrat?  Obama definitely believes in the religion of Global Warming.  How can we forget Obama’s speech that generations from now people will look back and see his Presidency as the moment that the oceans would stop rising and the planet would begin to heal?  And Obama has accomplished his religious purpose by stifling American energy production, funneling billions of dollars to “green” energy, and engineering a takeover of a large portion of the US auto industry.  No where is federal ownership of private companies or green energy subsidies in the constitution.  These are things that Obama has done under the loose legislative framework of the stimulus package and TARP.

What about Obama’s belief in social justice?  Obama’s presidency is a prime example of liberation theology in action and the search for the religious concept of social justice.  Obama has taken Christ’s commands to give to the poor, help the afflicted and needy, and he has turned those things into federal responsibilities mandated by law.  No longer must someone tithe or give in order to be charitable.  Obama, like the Presidents before him, has turned the federal government into the largest charitable organization on the planet.

Obama invoked God when it came to his housing bill.  He indicated that God wants the federal government to provide jobs to people.  Obama unwittingly danced around a conservative idea of self-sufficiency while promoting his bill as God’s will.

Unlike Bush, who used faith based organizations to defray costs of social programs, Obama has leveraged the government’s relationship with faith based organizations to infiltrate them with his own social justice theology.  Obama now holds these institutions hostage by threatening them with fines and forcing closures of charities who don’t obey the radical liberal theology.  The unholy infiltration of religious institutions by the religious left has led to things like closures of Catholic orphanages.  This is all part of the Obama religion.

When it comes to taxes, Obama famously misquoted Jesus, saying that to those whom much is given, much will be required.  Of course, Jesus may have had spiritual things in mind.  But Obama’s interpretation is that people who have a lot (because if you have wealth it must have been given to you) should pay more in taxes according to Scripture.

Early on in Obama’s Presidency, CBS noted that Obama invoked Jesus Christ far more often than evangelical Christian President George W. Bush did.  Obama invoked God several times in his prayer breakfast speech, crediting God for his inspiration on everything from Obamacare, which forces Christians to pay for abortion, to Dodd-Frank.

Obama is a global warming believing social justice Christian, and he has tailored his governmental policies around that.  Included in Obama’s religious view of social justice is a brand of social equality for women that demands that contraception and abortion be provided by employers, even if the employers are religious institutions.  Access to abortion at no cost to the mother is a less advertised plank of mainstream liberation theology.  Don’t be fooled by his lack of explicit rhetoric on the issue, Obama’s theology inspires his determination on providing free federal abortion more than it does any piece of Wall Street regulation.

So why are we scared of Rick Santorum?  Don’t be fooled into thinking that it is because Santorum is the theocrat.  It is because Santorum is not a liberation theocrat.  Santorum does not believe that the government should redefine marriage.  Santorum does not believe that the federal government should provide equality of circumstances and end the perceived societal oppression of blacks and women.   Santorum is much closer to the brand of Christianity that authored the first amendment, not Obama’s brand that seeks to overturn it.  He believes that baby murder should be illegal, not free and equally distributed.

Once upon a time, the GOP agreed with Santorum.  Today we are too afraid of Obama’s faithful followers and their witch hunts.  GOP candidates are refusing to speak up for personal freedom, responsibility, and the lives of the unborn because they see Santorum burning at the stake.  In fact, some establishment GOP’ers are standing along side the liberation faithful, tossing sticks on the fire to prove their own loyalty to the social liberal faith.

Make no mistake, 2012 is all about religion.  Will we continue to have freedom of religion and self determination?  Or will we all be forced to become worshipers of Obama’s God, even more so than we are already.

Romney fighting for political appeal and support in Michigan.

Mitt Romney’s presidential bid enters a real make or break phase this week ahead of the Michigan primary. The GOP campaign has had no less than seven frontrunners in this campaign, and the worrying aspect for the largely organised and heavily financed Romney campaign is his struggle to break through the field.

Rick Santorum’s surge is consistent Texas Governor Rick Perry’s at his peak. A little higher than Herman Cain’s surge and slightly than Newt Gingrich’s lofty pre-Christmas heights, and nobody can rule out another Gingrich surge either.

The current debate involving the Catholic Church and Obama Administration has in no doubt aided the Santorum surge, with his values based appeal to the conservative support base. One has to wonder whether the much publicised spat was a strategically placed controversy by the Obama Administration to kill off Romney’s bid, or a calculated risk on their part however; Santorum’s rise is potentially the most serious yet. The previous negative advertising used by the Romney campaign against in particular, Gingrich may not be as effective in this instance. I asked the question some weeks ago, what does Romney stand for?

Herein, lays Romney’s biggest flaw in his campaign to date. He has been effective in ripping apart previous challenger’s surges without people asking what does Mitt Romney stand for? In this instance Santorum, unlike previous challengers has demonstrated an ability to learn, identify himself clearly and definitively as the social values candidate, while at the same time, slowly but steadily attacking Romney on his record in public office. Santorum is oozing confidence at present and appears sincere, natural and passionate on whatever issue he is speaking about.

Santorum combines a deeply held social conservatism with a genuine blue-collar appeal. Romney has appeared out of sorts at CPAC constantly using the phrase “Conservative values” and at one point referring to himself as “Severely Conservative”, he has also seemed uneasy and unnatural when trying to appear passionate on describing his love for his native birth state Michigan, appearing almost desperate, when citing his love of the trees and lakes in one speech, ouch! Romney has also found it troublesome to shake the label of being out of touch and being a member of social elite attributed to him by the Obama team.

The Romney campaign has already made large ad purchases, which are not likely to feature positive Romney bio slots. The problem the Romney Campaign has is their inability to frame a negative attack label on Santorum to date. Turning negative has contributed to the surge in unfavourable feelings voters have about Romney, and independents like other voters favour a politician who plays dirty. This presents the risky proposition that any such negative attack ads may not work and actually be used against Romney himself. Romney has been unable to manipulate Santorum’s electoral weakness on cultural issues, as Santorum has gone to great lengths and efforts to question the role of women in the workplace and in the military, and emphasise his opposition to contraception.

Santorum on the other hand has a strong record on supporting global health programs and earned a reputation for being a champion of faith-based anti-poverty efforts. Santorum also appears to be a more acceptable candidate to the GOP establishment who raced to attack former speaker Gingrich when he assumed the front runner status, the language and commentary used in their description of Santorum is subtlety complimentary, yet composed.

Another major factor working against Romney in Michigan is his well-publicised opposition to the federal bailout of General Motors who only last week announced its largest ever profits in history, which undermines Romney’s argument that bankruptcy would have been a better way to go for the auto companies. This makes Santorum’s appeal to ordinary blue collar worker all the more prominent in the state’s primary battle.

Romney has failed to win over supporters and the conservative base despite six years of campaigning largely due to a fundamental lack of enthusiasm. He has to win Michigan it is as simple as that, it is a battleground state in the general election and a failure to a secure victory here, will raise new doubts ahead of the critical Super Tuesday contest and Romney’s fragile front-runner status once and for all.

Romney’s best chance of victory is message, he needs to give voters and supporters a clear vision on where he will take the country and present a break-out policy initiative to seize the upper hand. He can no longer depend on his tried and tired tactics of highlighting his business credentials, attacking President Obama’s record and tearing down fellow GOP rivals.

Romney needs to inspire American’s and give them a reason to vote for him. One good policy initiative, which he can take to the country, may enable him to display a dynamism, passion and level of enthusiasm that will make him the all-appealing stand-out candidate. Failure to change step and stick with the old tried and tested tactics will only lead to his challenge for the highest office in the land falling apart slowly but surely.

 

 

From one radical to another?

Just how radical is Rick Santorum?  Yes, it is very frustrating that the media will ask this about Rick when they completely ignored any sign of Obama’s radicalism or the radicalism of many of the Democrats in Congress.  But that is what separates conservatives from liberals.  Conservatives don’t seem to actually want a candidate who appears too radical.  We have this unhealthy fear of independents and moderates.

Not so with Obama.  Obama has no fear of those middle of the road voters as demonstrated by his decision to force religious institutions to to pay for abortions.  In fact, it’s been a long three years so many might not remember that one of the first things Obama did in office was reverse the United States’ Mexico City policy making it so that our tax dollars are going to pay for abortions overseas.  Obama’s latest budget is textbook tax and spend liberalism.  Instead of funding our military, Obama’s budget cuts funding for our troops and adds funding to buy off radical Islamic groups in the middle east.

Is Rick Santorum as radical as advertised in comparison?  There is no question that Santorum is a very conservative Christian.  There is no question about whether he has been paying attention in church for the last 20 years.  Santorum may or may not use contraception, but would he really ban it?  One thing is for sure, he wouldn’t make catholic charities and institutions pay for it.

There is a candid interview circulating liberal circles because of some things Santorum says about his social conservative values.  In the interview he also talks about the limited size of the Federal government, but most liberal bloggers are ignoring that part.  Santorum also talks about moving more funding to the states and decentralizing of the government.

Santorum is not nearly as radical as Obama because Santorum does not believe the government is the answer to everything.  However, Santorum does have an unhealthy view of the government’s role in encouraging the traditional family.  Santorum would do what every politician before him and likely every politician after him would do and would use the tax code to encourage the traditional family and the bully pulpit to keep the national conversation going on the way a family should be.  Basically that puts Santorum in the same class as every politician except Ron Paul and Rand Paul.  But don’t expect a flat tax from Santorum.

Part of Santorum’s problem is that his bully pulpit is easily mistaken for gestapo type policy advocacy where government officials would enter people’s homes and steal their condoms lest they have sex with their spouse for any reason other than procreation.  Let’s get real.  Santorum is not Obama.  I doubt he will have websites where you can report your friends who disagree with him.

Santorum may make it easier for states to ban abortion.  Since when is that not a plus for conservatives?  Oh yeah, since we became scared of the moderates and independents.  Just a refresher for my conservative friends, abortion can be the brutal, torturous death of a human being.  Best case scenario, it is the end of a human life.

I don’t agree with Santorum on some social issues.  The question is, when Santorum talks about what he believes, is he saying what he will do as President or simply what he believes to be true?  Obama doesn’t say what he believes on the campaign trail, then he forces his beliefs on the country.  Santorum needs to be clearer about what he will implement as President.  In this interview he says many things that liberals have jumped on, but at 24:04 Santorum gives a key response to the question of what his ideas about education would look like on the federal level.

“It wouldn’t happen on the federal level.”

He needs to say that more.

 

CPAC’s Conservative Message

Despite Romney’s strawpoll win, the anti-establishment message of CPAC came through loud and clear from various speakers.  Alan West, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, and even at times the Presidential candidates: the only way we can truly be free is by reclaiming the role of the church and community from the Federal Government.

For several years now the conservative movement has allowed private charity to flirt with and even get in bed with the Federal Government under the understanding that private organizations can use federal dollars much more efficiently than government bureaucracies.  Then along came Barack Obama.  It makes me think of Star Wars and Darth Vader’s line “Pray I don’t alter the deal any further”.

The problem is that conservatives abandoned their principles.  Trusting a pro-family, pro-conservative President in George W. Bush, we signed on to faith based initiatives.  Perhaps we never expected a President who would leverage those relationships to gain control over Christianity and use Christian institutions to spread liberalism.  We never expected a President who in three short years would be to the point of forcing Christian institutions to provide abortion pills or suffer the consequences.

The Government cannot protect our sacred institutions.  The government is using our tax dollars to control our sacred institutions.

The problem is that only one candidate in this has talked about the sort of shrinking of government necessary to get the government out of the charity and faith business altogether.  While he has appeared impotent when pressed, Ron Paul is the only candidate who will actually say that the government doesn’t belong in the insurance business or the charity business.  Mitt Romney would bring us back to the George W. Bush days when faith based initiatives allowed faiths to still manage themselves.  Newt and Santorum would certainly respect religious freedom, but would also strengthen the ties between government and faith based organizations with the same deadly good intentions W had.

This is not an endorsement for Ron Paul, but it is an acknowledgement that when it comes to the responsibility of Christians and community, Paul is more in line with the 2010 freshmen, and older wise sages like Huckabee, who must rise to the top if conservatism and freedom of religion is to survive in our country.  Perhaps Newt, Mitt and Rick will be persuaded by Paul on this like they were on the Fed.

Conservative Formula Plays Out

Imagine if you single-handedly picked Presidents.  The choice is up to you.  No need to consider electability, lesser of two evils, third parties, spoilers, or anything else.  Your choice is it.  Now, imagine you live in Montana, Minnesota, or Colorado and delegates aren’t rewarded based on your primary vote.  It’s pretty much the same situation.

The result?  Ron Paul got his standard 10-20% of libertarians and conservatives seeking radical constitutionalism, Romney got his standard 30-40% of fiscal conservatives who want a strong businessman, and the social conservatives split the rest.  Except in states where electability, lesser of two evils, third parties, and spoilers don’t matter, Newt Gingrich barely registered.  Instead, Rick Santorum, deemed unelectable from day one, swept bigtime.  It’s like “What’s My Line” where the points don’t matter.

Social Conservatives demonstrated what they really want, and it ain’t Mitt or Newt.  Mitt Romney is striking out with Conservatives, first with support of increasing labor price floors, then with information about his imposing abortion coverage on private companies like Obama is doing now.  Both of these are huge question marks on Romney’s record.

But Newt hasn’t done much better, with most of the country now thinking he was Freddie Mac’s number one lobbyist and had more sex partners than your average Mormon.  Romney has succeeded in dragging Newt down, and Newt hasn’t helped himself.

So does Santorum have a shot?  Probably not, but he does have something Iowa didn’t really give him: momentum.

Now Santorum can face the Romney attack machine for a while.  It started with the Donald saying that since Santorum lost in Pennsylvania he can’t possibly win the Presidency. Of course, that is a pretty funny standard to be judged by when it comes from a multi-billionaire business-owner who has declared bankruptcy four times.  I would think Trump would be able to relate to Santorum’s tenacity.

The problem with Santorum is that he doesn’t have that Presidentiality  that stupid, ignorant, and independent voters look for in a President.  He doesn’t have the hair or the chin.  Oh, and as Scarlett Johannson pointed out, he is unelectable because he wears sweater vests.  What Johannson underestimates is how many people out there who would take a bag of rocks wrapped in a sweater vest over our current President.

I pick on independents, but social conservatives aren’t much better.  When delegates are back on the table, don’t hold your breath for another Santorum sweep.  That would require conservatives looking themselves in the mirror and asking what they actually want in a President, not just who can beat Obama.  Tuesday’s message was loud and clear.

Florida Chooses Safe and Electable

In a repeat of 2008, Florida is betting on electability.  The only difference is that this time around Mitt Romney is the one who has been deemed “electable”.  After pouring millions of dollars into off the wall, and in some cases outright dishonest, advertising portraying Newt Gingrich as a disgraced philanderer, hated by anyone who worked with him, Mitt got one huge point across.  Newt can’t stand up to a multi-million dollar smear campaign.

The argument for Mitt in Florida seems to be, “if Mitt Romney can do that to Newt, imagine what Obama would do”.  The implication seems to be that Obama has more money and could even be dirtier and more dishonest than Romney was.  That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for Mitt Romney.

Romney made a bit of his own gamble.  He won Florida with a scorched earth campaign that pulled out all the stops.  Frankly, most Floridians have a sour taste in their mouths.  Forgiving Mitt and getting excited for him may end up being a tough pill to swallow for Newt supporters, and Santorum/Paul supporters are pretty well disgusted with both candidates. McCain used some of the same tactics against Romney in 2008 and many Floridians had a hard time getting excited for McCain.

Had Gingrich performed well in the last debate and won Florida, this race would be close to done.  Instead, Romney is now back in front and has a clear path to the Republican nomination.  He is once again the presumed nominee.  At what cost?  That is the question leaving Florida.

In an interesting development, Romney garnered more votes than Newt and Santorum combined.  Just further proof that Florida conservatives surrendered to electability.

My Endorsement

In the interest of full disclosure, today I voted for Newt Gingrich and I am officially endorsing him for President.  Newt has one thing the other candidates lack, bold accomplishable ideas.  Newt’s 15% flat tax plan is the best tax plan of the remaining candidates.  Unlike Paul who talks about how we should leave the Middle East alone, Gingrich actually has a viable American energy plan that would help us avoid the next war in the Middle East.  Newt has a proven track record of being revolutionary and putting better policies above political games.  He leashed Clinton and accomplished welfare reform and balanced budgets.  Newt also has the determination and vision to argue the 14th amendment in the abortion debate to protect the unborn.

I have forgiven Newt for his personal past, as I think all Christians should.  Newt testified against Freddie Mac, against giving them money, and in favor of reforming them.  Mitt Romney has a funny idea of what lobbying is.  I also have no issue supporting a conservative who has made enemies among establishment, middle of the road Republicans.  We used to call moderates RINOs before we started consistently nominating them.

Don’t get me wrong, I will support Mitt Romney over Barack Obama.  I’ll even get a yard sign and show up at rallies like I did with McCain.  But Newt is my first choice, and Romney has greatly disappointed me with the way he ran his Florida campaign.  Shame on Mitt Romney for not having enough bold ideas and vision to keep him from having to resort to negative campaigning to get elected.

Santorum Shines, Paul Respected

The only thing worse than endless political ads is political ads being tossed back and forth in a debate format with no fact checker.  Well, almost no fact checker.  Romney himself got caught when he tried to famously disavow any political negativity coming from his side only to discover that he had indeed approved an attack ad against Gingrich.

What was lost in the mix was serious debate.  The average listener might think that Romney and Gingrich’s stance on immigration actually differed.  What we discovered instead is that they really are basically the same, making their attacks on each others immigration policy pretty funny.  In fact, they all seemed to have the same view on illegal immigration except for Ron Paul who seemed to be saying that the problem is we have a bad economy and if we had a good economy we would all want illegal immigrants to come here and take the jobs Americans won’t.

Of course, with Paul sometimes it is difficult to differentiate his “this is what I would do as President” with his “this is the way things ought to be” with his “this is the way things are” rhetoric.  It keeps him safe with both the radical constitutionalists and the ignorant populists in his base.  Of course, I myself am a radical constitutionalist, but most of Paul’s constitutional rhetoric falls under the “this is the way things ought to be” column.  I couldn’t have any alcohol last night because of an early morning medical procedure Friday morning, but if I had a drinking game it would have been how many times Paul redirected a question by making his answer about the war, how bad the fed has made the economy, or how small a constitutional government should be.  The immigration question got both the war and the economy.

Paul did receive a great deal of respect from the other candidates.  It was the sort of respect Romney showed to Bachmann early on in the race.  It was that sort of “you have no shot of winning, but I would really like your supporters to like me down the road so I’ll smile and pat you on the back” respect.

Gingrich fell into a trap that I warned about a few months ago.  He has big ideas, but he has also become more and more of a states rights conservative.  Gingrich’s problem is communication in small soundbites.  I understood that he was speaking about encouraging private ventures to establish a moon colony, but the three candidates up there either willingly or ignorantly seemed to think he was talking about NASA doing it.

Gingrich also dropped the ball on something he has done very well at in previous debates, not taking media bait.  Blitzer played Romney and Gingrich all night long.  In fact, it was Rick Santorum who had to bring the debate back to the issues.  Unlike the early debates where Gingrich ran the show and the other candidates followed his lead, this time it was Santorum who reminded the other candidates what the debates and this whole process is all about.  Because of it, Santorum shined last night.

Mitt Romney has hired Bachmann’s former debate coach and it shows.  He laid down persistent attacks, mostly inaccurate, and was distracted from the issues all night.  Newt attempted to rebut, but his responses were too involved for the average American viewer.  Romney easily turned Gingrich’s responses on their head.  A good example was when Newt brought up Romney’s investments in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.  I think Newt’s point was that Romney shouldn’t be attacking him for doing consulting work for Freddie Mac when in fact Romney himself is making money on Freddie Mac stock.  In the end though, both sides lost that debate and viewers were left with a disgusting taste in their mouth.

I said that Jacksonville, Florida would be the most important debate of this election if one candidate could shine like Gingrich has in the past debates.  In the end, Gingrich saw his shadow and this primary will continue far beyond Florida.  And unfortunately, it will continue to get nastier.  The candidates have already said many things about each other that they will not be able to take back in the general election.  So in the end, Santorum won the debate, but the Republican party was the big loser.

 

Newt Wins, on to Florida

With Perry gone and Newt’s second resurrection complete, non-Romney supporters seem to have found their man in Newt.  I predicted Santorum would probably pull a Huckabee and win in Iowa.  I also predicted Romney would easily win New Hampshire.  South Carolina was the setup for the defining moment in this race scheduled for January 31 in Florida.  Had Romney won South Carolina, he would nearly have Florida locked up.  Instead, Romney will be going for the fight of his life again in Florida.  He has one week to show South Carolina is a fluke, because if Newt Gingrich can come back and beat Romney so handily in South Carolina based solely on a two strong debate performances, Romney has already lost the electability argument.  Newt swept all but two counties.

Liabilities for Newt include a strong negative campaign against him in Florida which is already underway.  Also, Santorum may not realize it, but he is in danger of doing to Newt what Huckabee did to Romney in 2008.  Newt was right, Santorum should get out of the race.  However, one thing is clear: Romney is not breaking out of his support base and he has fewer opponents to split the remaining votes.  If Santorum were to drop out of the race, Romney may as well join him.

Floridians watch a lot of TV.  They also are concerned with electability.  I will repeat my prediction that the key in the race for Florida will be the January 27th debate in Jacksonville Florida.  If Newt does well in that debate, the momentum from South Carolina will carry him.  If Newt wins Florida, it will be very difficult for Romney to make a comeback.  If Newt loses in Florida, then the assessment that non-Romney supporters need to make is what Newt plus Santorum’s votes combined would have been.

Oh, and one last parting thought.  The late breaking rumor is that Jeb Bush, the most popular Florida governor in decades, is choosing to stay neutral.  Most had been expecting him to endorse Romney.  I think Jeb sees the writing on the wall.

Romney’s Critical Debate Slip

Romney is a classy debater.  He has style, smoothness, and grace.  Were it not for Newt in these debates, Romney would also have the market cornered on ideas and frankly the air of honesty.  I know most politicians are liars by nature, but when Romney refused to back down on Romneycare, he won some points in the straight-forwardness arena.  That has not hurt Romney, in fact it has been an asset, until perhaps now.

Romney emerged from the pro-life doghouse Thursday night after skipping the Personhood forum in South Carolina.  In the debate, Romney made a clear pro-life stand, but he also slipped up when he tried to deflect criticism from Santorum about abortion funding.

“Is there any possibility that I ever made a mistake in that regard?” Romney asked. “I didn’t see something that I should have seen? Possibly.”

As Rick Perry would say, “oops”.  What was one of the biggest problems with Obamacare?  The only people who actually read the bill were the grassroots groups who were against it.  Take the 1099 rule, for example.  The 1099 rule, written into Obamacare, would have required every business to send every other business a 1099 form for any amounts they paid for services.  For example, a mom and pop shop would have to send McDonalds a 1099 form if they ate there enough during the year.

Obama quickly recognized the stupidity of the 1099 rule based on the overwhelming response from businesses.  In his State of the Union address, he chalked it up to a “flaw” in the Obamacare legislation.

“We can start right now by correcting a flaw in the legislation that has placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses.”

Bravo, Mr. President.  Why was it there in the first place?  Because nobody read or thought about Obamacare.  Now is Romney excusing his funding for abortion through Romneycare by admitting he didn’t see something he should have seen?  That is not what we are looking for in a President, especially on an issue as crucial as abortion.

I see a developing pattern.  It started with Romney’s distancing himself from superpacs that support him.  His excuse for the negative ads run against his opponents?  He has no control over what they run.  Then Romney responded to questions about his money in the Caymans by saying he has a blind trust that manages his money and he has no control over that either.

There are two things grassroots conservatives don’t want in a President.  The first is a President who has no control and is aloof from the actual governing processes.  We already have that with Barack Obama. The second is a President who is in control, but will not take responsibility for his actions.  Oh wait, in many areas that is Barack Obama too.

President of the A.V. Club

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

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

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

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

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Effect of Debates vs. Campaign Fatigue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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