A remarkable success by Santorum – a devastating night for Team Romney

Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum claimed a remarkable trifecta of wins and massive surge of momentum by sweeping Mitt Romney in all three contests in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri.

Santorum’s victories are all the more remarkable considering Romney’s advantage in financing and organization. Tuesday’s results included losses in two states – Colorado and Minnesota – that he won in his unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign. Minnesota also became the first state where Romney did not end up in first or second place despite having the support of former presidential candidate and State Governor Tim Pawlenty.

The stunning results by Santorum have raised fresh doubts about whether establishment favourite and perceived frontrunner Romney, can in fact win a General election or even the nomination itself after struggling to get support from the party’s conservative base.

Santorum has now finished first in four of the first eight primaries and caucuses, after his narrow victory over Romney in Iowa’s caucuses on January 3.

The former senator said his campaign was already bringing in more donations, an important consideration for a candidate who trails far behind Romney in the fund-raising race.

As he has before, Romney had seemed on track to win the nomination after big wins in Nevada and Florida last week. He had been expected to win easily in Colorado and did little campaigning in Minnesota and Missouri.

In Minnesota’s caucuses, Santorum won with 45 percent of the vote. But the state became the first this year in which Romney did not finish first or second. Congressman Ron Paul was in second place with 27 percent and Romney was third at 17 percent.

Santorum trounced Romney by 30 percentage points in Missouri, 55 percent to 25 percent. That vote was a non-binding primary, but has symbolic value as a measure of support in a big Midwestern state.

The race was closer in Colorado where Santorum won by 5 percentage points over Romney, 40 percent to 35 percent.

Santorum in his victory speech also appeared more presidential then before, setting up a contrast between himself and President Obama as more of the aloof and arrogant policies from a person out of touch with the American people, or a true conservative alternative who will listen to the voice of the people. Santorum essentially positioned himself as the champion of the American people, economic policy, social values, and defender of the constitution and first amendment in particular. It was a passionate and heartfelt speech that connected with the audience.

“I don’t stand here to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney, I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama,” Santorum said. On health care, cap and trade and the Wall Street bailout, he charged, “Mitt Romney has the same positions as Barack Obama.”

Romney addressing his supporters said, “This was a good night for Rick Santorum. I want to congratulate Senator Santorum and wish him the very best. We’ll keep on campaigning down the road, but I expect to become our nominee with your help.”

I asked the question in a recent article about Mitt Romney – What does he stand for? (worldviewtonight.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/romney-florida-an-expected-success-can-he-stand-up-to-the-obama-machine/)

The reason I asked the question was not out of any dislike for Romney, I admire a lot about Governor Romney and his business success in particular. The reason I asked the question was that Team Romney were very effective at attacking President Obama and Newt Gingrich with his powerful advertising spending however; I honestly didn’t know what his vision for America was and where he stood on the key issues of the day.

Team Romney will need to have a very detailed reassessment of their strategy going forward. The tried and tested approach of going negative on his opponents, and touting his business experience combined with large rallies, has left voters and supporters devoid of enthusiasm for his candidacy.

Romney’s speech last night was almost parrot fashion repetition of his talking points from the last week. He is failing to connect with the ordinary voter and too often has appeared rehearsed and uncomfortable when put in personal one to one interviews. Romney will need to throw off the consultant shackles and be more energetic, more personal and more natural on the campaign trail or face certain defeat.

Ironically, despite his poor showing in contests which he barely contested, Santorum’s victories may also be good news for former Speaker Newt Gingrich. Team Romney will now need to develop a strategy to attack Santorum and need Gingrich to stay in the race. The longer Gingrich stays in the race, the longer it will split the conservative vote. Three weeks out of the cross hairs for Gingrich may enable him to lay the ground work for a series of victories himself on Super Tuesday, March 6, 2012.

The Romney strategy was based on spending massive early to knock-out his rivals and claim the nomination early before turning his attention towards President Obama. Last night’s remarkable series of wins by Santorum, now appears to have changed the GOP race into a near certain long drawn out affair, and even if Romney prevails as the nominee, his chances of defeating President Obama in the race for the White House in November have been damaged.

There are three winners from last night’s results. Santorum’s victories give him the momentum he needs going forward and hopefully an injection of much needed financial support. They give President Obama renewed confidence that former Governor Romney is not as strong an opponent as initially believed and the longer the race GOP race on, the more damaged he will become. Finally, it gives Gingrich hope and time to re-organise his campaign and ground work ahead of Super Tuesday to deliver a series of southern victories himself.

A bad night for Romney.

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You’re the Nominee – “The Donald” endorses Mitt

Dynamic Businessman – Donald Trump turned the Republican presidential race into a scene resembling one of his Apprentice shows by keeping everyone guessing on whom he would endorse for president. The rumours had been back and forth that he would endorse Newt Gingrich, then it was leaked that he would endorse Mitt Romney however, in true Trump fashion, he kept everyone waiting until the end before confirming his support behind Mitt Romney.

The Romney campaign did not release their public schedule until Thursday morning in an unusual move for them and even then their 20:30hrs GMT slot stood vague, offering only: “Romney for President Event. TBD Location. Las Vegas, Nevada.” Mr. Romney will appear with Mr. Trump at his Trump International Hotel & Tower.

Mr. Romney and Mr. Trump have not always enjoyed the strongest of relationships with Romney as recent as December, referring to Trump as a real estate mogul and reality television star and declined an invitation to attend a Republican debate, which “The Donald” had planned to host, but was later cancelled after other candidates pulled out and included a very public spat with Jon Huntsman.

A spokesman for Mr. Trump suggested the Romney camp would be releasing an official statement soon, and in manner typical of Trump showmanship, said, “I strongly suggest you be there no matter what.”

Trump is a controversial figure and the world’s greatest self-promoter however, like him or loath him, he brings considerable media attention where ever he speaks and when he speaks. Trump did toy with the idea of entering the race last year himself and actually led the polls prior to pulling out with catchy sound bites on U.S. trade policy being weak towards China and regarding Iran. Trump has been one of the most vocal critics of President Obama and his economic record as president. He has made no secret of his concern about the direction and future of America under another four year Obama term and has also criticised the president on the polarising approach to his presidency and his failure to unite American’s in a common cause.

Trump promised to “push our president and the country’s policy makers to address the dire challenges arising from our unsustainable debt structure and increasing lack of global competitiveness.” Following his announcement last May, that he would not be a candidate for the GOP nomination, Trump welcomed other hopefuls to his office at Trump Tower on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue for strategy sessions. Romney made the trek, as did former candidates Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain and Rick Perry. Gingrich visited in December when he was topping polls in Iowa and nationally.

Trump’s weeks of will-he-or-won’t-he run last year, stole the media coverage and his decision to question the validity of President Obama’s birth certificate, caused such a news media firestorm that the White House was forced to publicly release the document. A feat even Hillary Clinton her campaign team had failed to achieve during the heated Democratic primary campaign four years ago.

Many will question the impact of a Trump endorsement, I believe it will not have a considerable impact on Republican voters, but most certainly on Independent voters where Romney has an increasing negativity rating in recent weeks, due to his attack ads in Iowa and Florida against Gingrich. Trump will be able to command a media audience and spotlight that no other previous endorser of Romney could hope to deliver. The media love “The Donald” and he equally loves them.

Trump said he made the decision after getting to know Romney after meeting with him several times in the past few months and it was his real honour to endorse Mitt Romney. He said Mitt was tough, his smart and he’s sharp and he’s not going to allow bad things to continue to happen to the country. Trump also cited Romney’s performances in presidential debates and his tough stance on China and OPEC as reasons for his support.

It is certain that Trump’s announcement has all but ruled out a third-party run for the White House which he threatened if the wrong GOP candidate was selected to run as the nominee. One would also have to say that with Trump’s ability to command a media audience and great communication ability, Speaker Gingrich’s hopes of winning the nomination appear to be dwindling by the day now. It will come down to his performance in the Lone Star state of Texas on 3 April, 2012. A poor showing by Gingrich in Texas will effectively finish his campaign and hand Romney the nomination.

Polls encouraging for Gingrich & Romney however, ideas and solutions must be the key factors.

As I predicted back in May of this year, Newt Gingrich’s ideas and solutions based approach to campaigning is starting to show that perhaps, he isn’t so unelectable after all. New Quinnipiac polls of general election voters in three key battleground states released Thursday show the former House speaker increasingly competitive against President Obama next November, if Mr. Gingrich wins the Republican nomination.

The challenge for Gingrich rests in his ability to pull together the ground organisation in the early states to convert his poll numbers into state wins and look to secure the nomination. Be under no illusions, the Obama Campaign and media will attempt to cast former speaker Gingrich as unelectable, in fact, they’ll throw the kitchen sink at Gingrich to prevent him being nominated. Gingrich is a tough, experienced and battle hardened politician who is rising like a Phoenix from the flames, in his second political coming.

I appreciate Gingrich may not be liked by all within the Republican Party however, I wish those representatives would keep their own counsel for the present time and stop assisting the media and Obama campaign machine with attacks on both Romney and Gingrich. There is nothing more that the Democrats want then a long, drawn-out, heated GOP primary campaign. The longer the battle goes on, the more likely the GOP field are to tear themselves apart and make themselves look like damaged goods to likely electors, effectively handing the election to President Obama next November.

The polls actually look encouraging too for the other front runner in Florida, Romney beats President Obama 45 percent to 42 percent, but Gingrich isn’t too far off the mark. He trails President Obama with 44 percent of the Florida vote, compared with 46 percent for President Obama, within the margin of error, according to the Quinnipac University Poll, based in Hamden, Connecticut. In Ohio, Romney and Gingrich have the exact same numbers against President Obama. Each Republican gets 43 percent versus 42 for Obama. Pennsylvania is President Obama’s strongest state of the three, narrowly beating Romney 46 percent to 43 percent, and beating Gingrich handily, 48 percent to 40 percent.

At present, Gingrich beats Romney in all three states for the GOP nomination, although only Florida holds its primary early in the nominating calendar. Florida Republicans vote on Jan. 31, after Iowa (Jan. 3), New Hampshire (Jan. 10), and South Carolina (Jan. 21). In Florida, Gingrich beats Romney 35 percent to 22 percent. In Ohio, Gingrich beats him 36 to 18 percent. And in Pennsylvania, the former speaker is up 31-17. No other candidate scores in double digits.

Quinnipiac’s numbers are a reflection of the national trend with Gingrich cementing his front runner status among GOP voters. The latest Gallup national tracking numbers show Gingrich ahead with 36 percent and Romney second with 23 percent. But more important are the numbers in early-nominating states, where success can change the shape of the race overnight.

New Hampshire remains Romney’s only stronghold of the first four states, at 35 percent, though Gingrich is closing in on him with 26 percent, according to CNN/Time. In South Carolina, CNN/Time has Gingrich way ahead of Romney, 43 percent to 20 percent.

Although the polls look like good news for Gingrich, I don’t think the Romney campaign need to push the panic button just yet.  Gingrich’s campaign cannot match the funds or the infrastructure the Romney campaign already has in place. Gingrich is hoping his meteoric rise in the polls will result in a large injection of badly needed cash, enabling him to build the organisational structure and team to deliver a winning national campaign.

I certainly hope Gingrich can overcome all the attacks which are coming his way from within his own party and from the Democrats. I’m not interested in what mistakes someone made 10, 15 or 20 years ago, I want a person elected president who is willing to put the nation’s interests first and foremost, above all else. Yes, Gingrich has made mistakes then again, he has openly admitted them and discussed a vast majority.

Why I would like Gingrich to stay the course is for many reasons. Gingrich possesses a unique vision of how he will make America great again, his 21st Century Contract with America is better and wider ranging than anything, any other candidate including the president can put on the table at present. It is a live working document but yet, we know where he wants to take America and what he stands for. Honestly, after three years in the White House, can you say with any clarity what President Obama stands for with all respect? Anytime, I pose that question to people, it generates more negative and defensive responses than anything else.

Gingrich possesses brilliant communication skills, a steadfastness on key difficult issues which only Romney can almost equal in the GOP field. He has ten ideas and solutions for everybody else’s one, and is passionate about putting America first and foremost in all he will do as president.

The now campaign departed Herman Cain was right about one thing, the 2012 election should be about “We the people,” not decided by the media or political elite. Look at the performance members from both parties are doing in Congress at present. American’s need a president in the White House who can provide leadership, vision, ideas ad solutions for the wholesale problems the nation faces on both domestic and international levels.

I would like to think that the people will not be swayed by politicians and cheap media attacks. I would encourage everyone to give Gingrich a second chance, and if he doesn’t deliver within four years, use the ballot box. However, can American afford four more years of President Obama? My honest answer based on policy is absolutely not. I will restate my view that winning the GOP nomination will prove a harder challenge for Speaker Gingrich then beating President Obama in November 2012. It is just starting to get interesting!

How does Team Romney deal with Gingrich “The Comeback Kid?”

Bookmark and Share   Mitt Romney and his team have been caught blind sided by the resurgence of former Speaker Newt Gingrich in recent weeks. Romney and his team have until now, run a fairly steady professional campaign, appearing to see off all challengers from Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann and last month, Herman Cain. The only challenger, who appeared likely to threaten Romney and his front runner status seriously, was Rick Perry, who had the finance and organisation to worry Romney before his debate performances tripped him up.

Former Speaker Gingrich was dismissed as a serious potential nominee last summer when political strategists and operatives left his campaign and with it a large debt. It appeared Gingrich would be forced out of the race early however; Gingrich launched a low-key strategy of maximising his resources to keep his ailing campaign going until he could make an impact during the many presidential debates. The debates have changed the electoral picture significantly, in a nation where leadership, ideas and willingness for bi-partisan co-operation seemed all but lost. Gingrich the often ridiculed professor like character, suddenly burst through the efforts of the mainstream media and began sounding like the presidential voice American’s and others have been crying out for. Gingrich not only could answer the questions substantively, he apologised where he made poor decisions in the past, offered creative and visionary solutions to many of the problems America faces and stuck to Ronald Reagan 11th Commandment of not attacking another Republican.

Romney and his team have been preparing for this presidential run for six years. Romney has been polished, smart, and professional, styled himself as the business candidate who could save the economy. He was able to look Commander in Chief like when compared to Herman Cain. He appeared practical and focused on foreign affairs when compared to Ron Paul’s stance on Iran and even when pressed into a clash by Perry, was able to remain composed and calm.

Romney and his team didn’t expect the near perfect rise of former Speaker Gingrich five weeks away from the first primary and caucus race. A Rasmussen Poll released today shows if the election were held today, Gingrich would receive 38% of the vote and Romney now a distant second on 17%.

Gingrich’s rise is due to his ability to cover a range of topics and invoke the patriotic passion and American spirit within the American people. Gingrich didn’t just rely on beating President Obama on his record like Romney, he is selling a vision, a future and able to say to voters, ”Here is what the country looks like after three year of an Obama presidency, can you afford four more?”.

Gingrich rhetorically uses specific examples, as he uncovers the Obama presidency then says, this is what I will do on jobs, education, national security & controversially, immigration. The trick Gingrich has cleverly used when selling himself, is on the notion that while he has a clear vision for America’s future, he is prepared to listen to anybody and above all, he talks about getting both political parties to work together again. He passionately believes the mantra of American togetherness is essential in rebuilding the nation and its fortunes.

Team Romney knows they cannot dismiss Gingrich’s rise like the previous pretenders. Gingrich has vast political and private sector experience; he has an exceptional mind and brilliant ability to offer three of four ideas on an issue, where others struggle to provide one. Team Romney know the stakes are higher then ever before with only five weeks to go before caucuses and faced with a challenger who poses their most substantial and credible threat to a Romney nomination victory.

How will Romney and his campaign team respond? It is already evident; they intend to launch a strong, robust and sustained attack that labels Gingrich as a Washington insider and serial flip-flopper who can’t be trusted. The big strategic question however remains; will Romney engage Gingrich through political advertisements or in the remaining debates?

It is an extremely tricky position Team Romney find themselves in. Any attack against Gingrich could rebound and hurt Romney among GOP supporters and only help to solidify Gingrich’s support more. It is likely they view the Gingrich threat as one which they’ll have to execute steadily and cautiously, by initially focussing on the Romney’s strengths personally and professionally such as his stable family and long marriage, his private sector experience on a whole, indirectly highlighting Gingrich’s Washington ties and former personal flaws.

If Gingrich is still in the lead two weeks away from Iowa, then expect a change in tactics and an all out attack campaign from Team Romney. Gingrich will not be like other challengers, if Romney’s team engage and attack him directly, Gingrich is very capable of putting it into perspective and force attention back on Romney. The late Gingrich challenge appears to have also unsettled Romney personally, he appeared annoyed and angered when questioned on the healthcare issue by an interviewer this week. Romney needs to ensure he doesn’t adopt a prickly personality which could bring on a media tsunami of close scrutiny and pressure at the very time he doesn’t need negative attention.

My own advice to Romney and his campaign team is to remove the protective shackles from and let him demonstrate some real passion and determination to win. Romney needs to convince voters why he would make a great president but more importantly, how much he wants it. Removing some of the protectionism which has surrounded Romney up to now, may in fact be the best strategy of all, to beat Gingrich. To challenge or attack Gingrich directly is a political tight rope for any GOP candidate with the potential for supporter backlash or abandonment.

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