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With Democrats fleeing the Democrat convention, the DNC has turned to local popular mayors.  Now, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will be providing the keynote address.  Not too long ago, Obama mistook Mayor Castro for a Whitehouse intern.

Along with Senator Claire McCaskill, several other prominent Democrats are skipping out, including nearly every Democrat from West Virginia.

Mayor Alvin Brown, D-Jacksonville, FL

But even among popular Democrat mayors, Obama is struggling to gain traction.  I have noted before how Mayor Alvin Brown of Jacksonville has been notably absent from Obama’s visits to the city.  Jacksonville.com reports that even if Mayor Brown was in town, he wouldn’t have been at the event.  While stopping short of endorsing Romney, Brown has stated that he intends to steer clear of the election and not get involved at all, including offering no endorsement for Obama.

He had no such inhibitions as a staffer for the Clinton Whitehouse.

Then again, Clinton and Obama are two completely different kinds of Democrat.  Clinton was a liberal, but he knew how and when to moderate.  Clinton understood that not only did business owners “build that”, but they were essential to a growing economy.  Brown understands the same thing and has been growing Jacksonville by going out and bringing business to town.  He hasn’t tried to grow the city through wasted stimulus spent on friends and campaign supporters, and in fact he has refused to raise taxes. Instead, he has cut the size of local government to close budget gaps.
If Obama had any illusions of bi-partisanship, support for businesses, or winning Florida, Mayor Brown is the type of person he would want to pursue for things like making key speeches at the convention.  Yes, Castro is more popular in San Antonio.  He got 82% of the votes (totaling about 34,000).  Brown on the other hand, with about 97,000 votes, only barely eked out a victory over his Republican challenger.  Or perhaps Obama believes that Texas is a more attainable prize than Florida.

Obama has already lost the Reagan Democrats, but he may also be in danger of losing the Clinton Democrats.  They won’t vote for Romney, but if they don’t vote for Obama, he’s sunk.

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Today should be it

Mitt Romney should easily sweep a handful of blue states today, including New York and Pennsylvania.  If he does, I think the staunchest of conservative holdouts are ready to call it for Romney.  The only thing that will change the trajectory of the primary at this point would be if Romney’s performance is weak in any of these states.

Is that possible?  To a certain extent.  With Romney already the presumptive nominee, media coverage of the April 24th primaries has been minimal.  Additionally, any inhibition towards voting one’s conscience should be gone.   Romney’s refocusing on Obama is certainly not unwarranted confidence, but does signal an end to his scorched earth campaign that ravished his closest rivals.

Will Gingrich show any sort of proof of life in New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, or Rhode Island?  Don’t count on it.  To be sure, there is a conservative underground in each of these states, most strongly in Pennsylvania.  But at the same time, they have been so marginalized by the liberal culture that “most conservative who can actually win” is deeply engrained.

My prediction is that Newt doesn’t break 40% in any of these states.  If that is the case, I am ready to call the 2012 primary for Mitt Romney.  However, if Newt can somehow mitigate his losses and mathematically survive today, he has some friendly states coming up in May.  He may still not survive to the convention fight he is counting on, but he would have a chance.  And something he hasn’t tasted in months: momentum.

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.

Santorum Will Remain in the Race Regardless of Where He Finishes In South Carolina

Bookmark and Share  According to officials in the presidential campaign of former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum have stated that no matter where Santorum finishes in tonight’s South Carolina Primary, he will not drop out of the nomination contest and promises to campaign aggressively in Florida which holds its primary in 10 days.

Before polls even closed in the Palmetto State, it was already established that Rick Santorum is locked in a race for third place with Texas libertarian Congressman Ron Paul.

Whether he comes in third or fourth, a loss to both Romney and Gingrich who are locked in their own tight race for first place, would essentially put an end to any momentum that Santorum had after his surprise showing in Iowa several weeks ago.

Despite being endorsed by 150 evangelical leaders, pressure will begin to mount on Santorum to step aside, especially since while Gingrich is doing better the long race goes, Santorum is doing worse the longer the race goes on.

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These Debates Could Be Game Changers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Careful Who You Pick As Friends

Ron Paul never had a chance.  It was part him and his abrasiveness,  part his foreign policy that he failed to connect with voters on.  For me, it was also his pro-choice in the states stance on innocent human life.  But one of the reasons Paul never connected with mainstream Republican voters who would normally be drawn to his small government message was his annoying, in your face, loud, obnoxious, and sometimes downright mean supporters.

In fact, much of Paul’s candidacy has seemed like a mean spirited romp that he frankly has had little control over.  A perfect example is the racist, black helicopter newsletter that he either edited, or in some cases signed, but claims to have never read.

One thing is clear, the friends of Ron Paul have not helped Ron Paul in this election.

Take note, Mitt Romney, your friends are getting out of hand too.  Romney is a great candidate.  He is a Reaganite, and I believed even in 2008 in his conversion to pro-life, pro-family issues.  He is cool headed on foreign policy, and great on fiscal conservatism.  I believe him when he talks about states rights and the tenth amendment separating what he did in Massachusetts from what he would do in the Whitehouse.  I’ve said before that I think it is criminal what his opponent did in 2008, insinuating that he was going to cut and run from Iraq.  I will admit that I had hoped Newt would run in 2008, but when he didn’t, I supported Mitt Romney.

Now Mitt needs to be careful.  His friends are getting a little crazy.  I have been chronicling Ann Coulter’s conversion from right wing radical conservatism to mainstream moderate in her love affair support for Mitt Romney, and it appears the conversion is complete.  In her latest newsletter, she blasts Rick Santorum as a “right wing zealot” and calls him a Catholic, not a conservative.

Coulter also lists why only Romney is electable.  Ready?  Pay attention kids.  If you were merely a congressman or congresswoman, you can’t win.  If you have a Texas accent, you can’t win.  If you ever had a business with prominent clients who did bad things later on in life, you can’t win.  If you are a Catholic, you can’t win.  If you have ever cheated on a spouse, you can’t win.  If you’ve been divorced, you can’t win.

Apparently, if you are a Mormon, you can win, but not if you are a Catholic.  If you started your career as a pro-choice candidate, you can win, but not if you ever had dinner with a pro-choicer.  If you instituted and still defend a personal insurance mandate you are electable, but if you at any time thought one would be a good idea, you are unelectable.  If you believe in Global Warming, you are OK by Ann.  If you do an ad with a Democrat saying you believe in generic climate change, forget it.

As John McCain taught us yesterday, campaign rhetoric is campaign rhetoric.  If Newt or Santorum wins, Coulter will have a lot of backstepping and bridge rebuilding to do.  Judging from what she says now, we might be tempted to think she would vote for Obama over Newt or Santorum.  Time for a reality check.  Coulter is in full campaign mode for Mitt Romney.  Give it a few months and we will get back the fiery, anti-liberal conservative Ann Coulter we used to know and love.  The question is if she will get us back.

Perry hopes we are laughing WITH him

Idea for a better Perry debate performance...

Following an awkward and frankly embarrassing stumble at the GOP debate in Michigan, Rick Perry made things all better by poking fun at himself on David Letterman.  Actually, if this was 2000 and Perry was running against George W. Bush and John McCain, this wouldn’t have been that bad a move.  On the other hand, even George W. Bush did well enough at the debates that whackos on the left thought he had a transceiver hidden between his shoulderblades.

Going on latenight television is not unheard of at all for candidates.  But for GOP’ers it usually doesn’t fare as well as for Democrats.  Letterman is pretty notorious for a left leaning slant.  Perry’s delivery was also reminiscent of his debate delivery.  So will his Letterman appearance make everything ok?  Or was this Perry’s falling off the stage moment?  My guess is the later.  But here they are, Perry’s top ten excuses for forgetting something like what departments he would eliminate as President:

10. “Actually there were three reasons I messed up last night. One was the nerves, two was the headache and three was, and three, uh, uh. Oops.”

9. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I think things went well.”

8. “Hey, I was up late last night watching ‘Dancing With the Stars.'”

7. “I thought the debate was tonight.”

6. “Hey, listen. You try concentrating with Mitt Romney smiling at you. That is one handsome dude.”

5. “Uh, el nino?”

4. “I had a five-hour energy drink six hours before the debate.”

3. “I really hoped to get on my favorite talk show, but instead I ended up here.”

2. “Hey, I wanted to help take the heat off my buddy Herman Cain.”

1. “I just learned Justin Bieber is my father.”

Well, don’t forget Mr. Perry: Republicans don’t want the candidate who can make them laugh.  They want the candidate who can beat Obama.

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