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.

 

 

Why Newt Gingrich? Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

The pressure is again being mounted by some in the conservative media for former Speaker Newt Gingrich to withdraw from the GOP race. I sound a word of warning to conservatives against any such move and in fact, urge them to support Speaker Gingrich in whatever way possible going forward and will explain why.

Today, the influential conservative magazine National Review called for Newt Gingrich to leave the Republican primary contest. Repeating its past criticisms of Gingrich the magazine’s editorial said “it would be a grave mistake for the party to make someone with such poor judgment and persistent unpopularity its presidential nominee.”

I refute this call for a variety of reasons but above all, Republicans need to be careful what they wish for. This GOP race has perhaps being the most widely covered, and without doubt volatile in presidential race history. The reasons for this are many; the introduction of the Super Pacs, the media war between liberal and conservative media outlets, the vast amount of debates and finally social media have transformed this race.

This 2012 election race is I believe, a final opportunity for Americans to divert their great nation away from decline and direct themselves back onto a course of recovery, restoration and once again be the world’s leader in all sphere’s of influence.

If you believe commentators growth, consumer spending, manufacturing, house prices and stock prices are all on the upward trend and unemployment is coming down and the green shoots of a recovery are starting to gather steam. This may on paper be all true at present however; it is the unforeseen and often, quickly dismissed issues, that will determine the real future outlook for most American’s in the coming generations.

The primary function of government has come to be understood as being the protection of the people’s rights from foreign nations and the government itself. These rights, as we all know, are the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. This function of government could not be clearer. It is this failure of government and the lack of an individual with a proven track record to address the issues of the national debt, spending, entitlement reform and pursue a strong foreign policy that are the real threats.

I will state, that I do not believe these very real threats and dangers facing America are all down to President Obama; they have been decades in the making. President Obama however; has failed to halt the decline and above all, has been unable to get all branches of government working for the people effectively under his stewardship that has been his biggest failure.

The U.S. National debt is approaching $15.4 trillion dollars; $4 trillion dollars of this debt has been added in three years under President Obama alone. Commentators in the U.S. often cite Greece as the potential end result for the U.S. if it fails to alter course. I say forget Greece, total European Union debt stands at around $14 trillion dollars however, its 27 nations account for a bigger share of global gross domestic product, possesses a much larger internal market and has a population of over 500 million compared to the U.S. population of roughly 310 million people. The debt burden per person (capita) stands at $48,258 for every American with the U.S contributing 37 per cent of the increase in global debt from 2007 – 2011 and 40 per cent from 2011 to 2016, it is only a matter of time before these financial constraints strangle America’s future and prosperity.

In recent years, all too often have U.S. recommendations or initiatives become to be ignored or dismissed by other leading nations on issues ranging from trade negotiations, military threats, peace efforts,  right through to addressing the recent global economic crisis.

I respect Mitt Romney, and if he is the eventual nominee for the GOP, he’ll have my total support in the race and I believe America will improve to an extent economically under a Romney Presidency. Respectfully, Ron Paul has some very valid and excellent ideas and arguments on a domestic level however; his approach to foreign policy concerns many and justifiably so. Then there’s the latest rise of Senator Rick Santorum. I think he is a strong valued & principled man however; putting the very real challenges of ineffective government, economic and global threats together, I do not believe he is capable of being the type of president America needs at the present time. Santorum is well versed on the issue of Iran however; like Governor Romney, when you take them onto broader international issues and threats, they simply haven’t got the depth of knowledge or experience to hit the ground running from the start.

Conservatives and independents need to be honest with themselves and ask, if they really want to defeat President Obama in the coming fall election. The GOP as a party needs to offer a strong platform and contrast to President Obama and the Democratic Party in terms of policy and vision.

The election is not about personality or an American Idol type contest, this is a decisive moment in history, and as I’ve always maintained, a turning point for America and its future. Don’t be swayed by populist media commentators and partisan coverage. In order for the U.S. to remain the global leader it has become, the entire manner in how the government in Washington operates needs to be addressed.

I’ll say something controversial here, regardless from what side of the political divide you come from, entitlement reform needs to be addressed urgently and fundamental changes made. There needs to be wholesale change of the tax system at all levels and finally, spending needs to be brought back under control and a balanced budget achieved within the next five years.

This leads me onto former Speaker Gingrich, who I’ve always believed substantively, to be the candidate with the most potential. He’s an individual whose strong conservative arguments and mastery of the issues are sometimes ignored due to past behaviour. He’s already been carpet bombed with negative advertisements from the Romney campaign in Iowa and Florida already. Attacked like no other candidate by the mainstream media in this election cycle, and then by many from within his own party. People need to ask why this is? It is not coincidence, or is it due to any past behavourial mishaps on his part. It is because Gingrich has the ability to communicate a sharp contrast between conservative policies and values against the Obama Administration’s better than any other candidate in the field.

Gingrich poses a real threat to the opposition and status quo, he has many achievements during his long political career, playing a key role in passing welfare reform in the 1990’s. He not afraid to upset members within his own party to pursue a vision, a vision he has laid out in his “21st Century Contract with America,” better than any other candidate in the field. It is an organic plan containing some bold but substantive ideas and solutions to the nations’ problems and challenges.

He wants to remove regulatory barriers to boost economic growth understanding fundamentally that less government is the key, not bigger government. He has also worked to and achieved balanced budgets and a budget surplus with former President Clinton.

Gingrich has the proven ability to work across party lines in the national interest, even if it costs him personally and politically. He wants to provide a healthcare system that works; he values and recognises the need for a well educated young nation and values entrepreneurship and innovation. I don’t perceive a candidates’ willingness or preparedness to work with the other party as a weakness, I see it as a distinct positive in these most of crucial times. Above all, I believe he possesses the desire, passion and enthusiasm to lead America from the front and get Washington working effectively again for the people.

I believe any of the other three candidates could be a good Vice-President however; in order to defeat President Obama in the coming election, it will require someone who has the experience, proven ability and vision to transform America and secure its future. America needs a strong president and someone in the Oval office who will not shirk the difficult decisions, and who will ensure a strong and powerful military exists to defend the nation and its people. This is an election of opportunity, and my fear is that conservatives and independents won’t see it in the all important context of securing America’s future for generations to come.

This presidential election race is more about the future and the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Only by choosing a capable and confident leader can America’s future be won! The nation needs strong leadership and a person willing to work with everyone in its interest and Newt is that candidate.

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.

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.

Romney & Florida an expected success – Can he stand up to the Obama machine?

As I sat up watching the results come in from the Florida primary last evening, two things came to mind once the result was called for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Firstly, was I surprised by the result or margin of victory? No! The second question is more crucial, what does Mitt Romney stand for?

Dealing with the first question, Romney’s victory in the Florida Republican presidential primary was inevitable and has got him his front runner status back for now. The manner of his victory though should concern Republican supporters going forward. In order to win any general election, Romney or any GOP Nominee will need to win over independent voters.  A recent Gallup showed 40% of Americans defined themselves as independent voters compared to 27% who said they were Republicans and 31% who said they were Democrats.

Romney’s victories in New Hampshire and Florida and his second place finishes in Iowa and South Carolina have come on the back of some of the most vicious, and down right nasty attack ads in presidential campaign history. Romney has tried to hide behind the manner in which his campaign has been conducted, saying he has no influence or connection with his Super Pac in this campaign, technically and legally true.

Those pro-Romney supporters have tried to point to his two debate performances as the reason for his Florida victory. Yes, he did have improved performances against a somewhat timid Gingrich in those debates. The truth is Rick Santorum was the stand-out candidate in my view for both debates. Romney’s performances were better, but hardly outstanding or presidential winning performances.

The real other factor in this presidential primary season has been the change in party rules and campaign financing schemes with the arrival of the Super Pac machine. Romney, as I previously wrote, simply carpet bombed Gingrich under a barrage of bitter, nasty and out and out negative attack ads in Florida, like he did in Iowa. What the conservative media commentators won’t tell you is that Romney’s Florida victory came because he overwhelmingly won in all seven of the media markets. The results were much different outside those media markets with Gingrich’s appeal and support proving a lot more solid.

The stats reveal a staggering effort on his behalf with Romney’s campaign and the pro Romney Super PAC “Restore Our Future” outspending Gingrich and his supporting Super PAC by a 5 to 1 ratio in the week leading up to the Florida Republican primary election on Tuesday, this involved a total of 12,768 television ads. According to the Campaign Media Analysis Group, 99% of them were attacks on Newt Gingrich. In the same period, Gingrich and his supporters bought just 210 TV ads. While the majority of them slammed Romney, some were positive advertisements for Gingrich.

Romney and his Super PAC combined to spend nearly $9.9 million on ads aimed at attacking Mr. Gingrich during the week that lead up to the Florida primary on Tuesday. CMAG concluded that, with 92% of the total TV ads going on the attack, the Florida primary set a new record for negativity. The total Florida spend was believed to be a combined total of $17.7 million for Romney versus $5.1 million combined for Gingrich.

I make no secret of my admiration for Gingrich, yes he is a controversial figure and has had personal issues in the past. The reason for my admiration of Gingrich, Santorum and indeed Ron Paul for that matter is that I can tell you what each man advocates, and where they stand in terms of economic policy, job creation, social values and foreign policy.  This brings me to the second question, what does Mitt Romney stand for?

I’ve tried in recent months to see the appeal and unique quality that the GOP establishment have touted in Governor Romney, but I’ve simply failed to find it. I even tweeted asking my followers the question, what does Romney actually stand for? The silence spoke volumes. Romney may be championed by his supporters on a lot of fronts and maybe very justifiably so. However, as I’ve been saying for well over a year, this is the most crucial presidential election in over fifty years. Make no mistake, America’s economy and role in the world is very much under threat, and in very real danger of being lost forever.

On a personal level, Romney seems a decent and likeable enough person. He’s polished in his appearance, has a great family background and has been very successful as a businessman. All these credentials should be very appealing when looking for a candidate yet, I still find myself asking what does Romney stand for?

My big concern about Romney is that he’s great at attacking and deriding President Obama and the other candidates on their records in political life. What Romney won’t stand up and firmly say is this is what I stand for with real passion and conviction. Romney, regardless on what side of the political divide you come from, has a long and tailored record of changing his position on issues, and not being able to defend them strongly when challenged. Gingrich strategically in my view made a fatal flaw in attacking Romney on his business record in New Hampshire and it hurt him in the polls there. I don’t believe in knocking success or the role of capitalism. I do believe however that Gingrich made an error in not focussing on Romney’s record as Governor instead when he wanted to attack.

The Romney team are trying to establish their campaign around Romney being a successful businessman. We hear very little mention of him being a successful Governor of Massachusetts. This brings me to the question, if he isn’t championing and pointing to his record as Governor of Massachusetts everyday on the campaign trail, why do GOP supporters believe he will be able to deliver and perform as President of the United States. Romney will have to decide to run as Romney the successful Governor & businessman, not be selective in what he runs his campaign on. The Obama machine will not afford him that luxury should he emerge as the nominee.

Romney doesn’t under take many interviews, he avoids the Sunday political shows like the plague and when he is challenged in interviews, he has shown himself to be prickly. I don’t doubt the man’s abilities as a businessman, but I want more then rehearsed lines, staged interviews and someone who has won the nomination by simply buying their way to it with attack ads. I want steely conviction and a determined dog like spirit, someone who is prepared to lead and fight for the ordinary person on all levels.

The questions American’s and others should ask is the following, what is Romney’s vision for America and how does he intend to get us there? Simple.

If his vision and message is right, then there’s a second question, has Romney demonstrated that he has the ability to be outspent on a 5-1 ratio and attacked himself and win?. It is on these two questions that I believe the GOP and establishment need to be certain before they coronate Romney  as would be nominee.

As President Abraham Lincoln once said, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time”.

 

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”.

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.

The GOP establishment are more afraid of a Gingrich victory than an Obama victory

The signs are telling, conservative media bias and increasing establishment attacks on former Speaker – Newt Gingrich regarding his challenge on GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney, to explain the nature of his role and undertakings while heading venture capitalist group Bain Capital. Many in the establishment and media have been quick to jump to Romney’s defence, calling the former speaker’s comments, an attack on Capitalism itself.

Congressman Peter King, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, said in an interview in New York today, that the former Speaker of the House is being “totally delusional” about ever winning his party’s nomination.

King when asked if he felt Romney, coming off victories in Iowa and New Hampshire, could now be considered his party’s presumptive Presidential nominee.  “I don’t want to go that far,” King said, adding, “We’ve had so many rollercoaster’s this year.  A month ago Newt Gingrich was the frontrunner. Now he’s just being an assassin, a political assassin out there.”  And King, who has previously lambasted Gingrich, observed, “He has to know he has no chance of getting the nomination but he’s coming down on Mitt Romney with all these charges, charges that a liberal democrat could be making…attacking Romney for being too much a part of the free enterprise system.

To have Newt Gingrich, supposedly a right-wing conservative, making those charges is the height of hypocrisy.”  King said Gingrich is “going out of his way, millions and millions of dollars spent for one purpose, and that’s to bring down Mitt Romney.” However, the real hypocrisy lies in the fact that the conservative media are hiding the sheer scale & ferocity of the attacks Romney’s Super Pac spent in Iowa & New Hampshire attacking Gingrich who only this week got a major financial backer for his bid.

In the lead up to the Iowa caucuses earlier this month, nearly half of the political television ads airing in the state were critical of Gingrich. Former Mayor of New York & one-time presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani chastised Mitt Romney Thursday for a barrage of anti-Newt Gingrich attack ads aired in Iowa on his behalf. “Some of it was unfair,” Giuliani said. “The sheer amount of it. And the fact it’s being done by a PAC and Mitt Romney’s separating himself from it.

During the attacks on Gingrich in Iowa, the same people now jumping to Romney’s defence were standing behind him and his Super Pac’s nasty attacks saying, “It is fair-game in an election cycle to have your record challenged.” However, Gingrich hasn’t been attacking the capitalist system, what Gingrich has been attacking is Romney’s claim of creating 100,000 jobs. Surely, if Gingrich has to explain and defend his career record, then why not Romney? Gingrich seized on a new Romney campaign ad that defends the former Massachusetts Governor’s record when he led the private investment firm, Bain Capital.

The ad states Romney and Bain created “thousands of jobs,” not 100,000 jobs as the former Governor has previously claimed. When asked about the ad, Gingrich laughed. “He’s now himself changing his claim,” Gingrich said.

The former House Speaker called on Romney to produce records from his tenure at Bain to prove his claims. “He’s still not prepared to release any documents from Bain to prove anything,” Gingrich said.

Last month, Romney told Time Magazine he and Bain created 100,000 jobs.

“And so I’ll compare my experience in the private sector where, net-net, we created over 100,000 jobs. We created over 100,000 jobs,” Romney told Time. That jobs claim does not appear in the new Romney ad. “Mitt Romney helped create and ran a company that invested in struggling businesses, grew new ones and rebuilt old ones, creating thousands of jobs,” the spot states.

In an interview with CNN, Gingrich questioned Romney’s claims. “I’m saying that he misstated the facts,” Gingrich said. A New ARG poll finds Romney and Gingrich in a statistical dead heat for the upcoming South Carolina primary.

Many conservative establishment people feel that a Gingrich victory might be scarier than a GOP defeat. Gingrich’s defenders say such fear is a compliment because it shows that he’s a “change agent” threatening the status quo. There is no doubt that those against Gingrich are trying to portray him as the Angry Old Newt however, I’d trust Bill Clinton’s judgement when recently asked if he respected Gingrich, Clinton replied;” I respect his ability to think and do. I eventually hammered out a really productive relationship with him.” The truth is, Gingrich and Clinton although polar opposites in the political sphere proved a winning combination balancing the budget for four successive years, delivered entitlement reform, an issue which the next four term president must tackle, produced a budget surplus and created over 11 million jobs.

American voters must decide if they trust their party establishment more than a man granted with some personal flaws, but brilliant in delivering transformational change on a national level. It is Gingrich’s ability to work in a bi-partisan manner, his ideas and solutions and above all, his willingness to tackle head on the difficult decisions which should make him the only candidate ordinary American’s would vote for to restore America’s economic strength and respect around the world.

The establishment are petrified what a Gingrich presidency would bring to the Washington gravy train. The inner beltway has for too long stumbled along talking big, but doing and achieving little. Gingrich may be a man of many words however; he is also a man who says what he means and does what he says.

The Republican Party hierarchy & playmakers are fearful a Gingrich presidency would solidify the Tea-Party & certain libertarian factions within the party permanently. They do not want this and want to control the status quo. Gingrich is genuinely interested in serving his nation and the American people; he has the record to prove it at a national level. The question quite rightly should be, what will voters get from a President Romney? Challenging a candidate about their claims should not be confused with an attack on capitalism. It is only right and reasonable that Governor Romney should be asked to explain his own claims.
 


Romney will need to beat the strongest campaigner in history should he become the nominee

The result in New Hampshire tonight for Mitt Romney ensured he captured the nation’s first primary election with about 35% of the vote following two tough days, in which the presumptive front runner by the establishment, withstood attack from his Republican opponents.

Romney who has led in New Hampshire, where he owns a summer home, for several months, and where anything less than a double-digit margin of victory might have been viewed as a loss won very comfortably. There is a historical aspect to his victory insofar as, he’s the first non incumbent to win both the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary since 1976.

Ron Paul finished a very credible second in his head to head battle with former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman coming third. Paul and his campaign will have to be pleased with their 25% of the vote and second place finish.

Former House Speaker Gingrich finished fourth as he predicted however, his last two days of attacks hurt the Romney Campaign and sets up a fierce battleground fight for what many neutrals perceive as the first real competitive primary in South Carolina on January 21.

The media bias has been incredible in the run up to the New Hampshire primary, Fox News has literally turned into the Romney adoration channel and their commentary while Romney attacked Gingrich with his Super Pac was, it’s part and parcel of any primary race however, their viewpoint with Gingrich’s Super Pac poised to launch Romney attack ads in South Carolina is, Gingrich is being nasty & angry for criticising Romney. Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry and Ron Paul did not escape Fox News’s condemnation over their sparring with Romney.

The irony for conservative media outlets like Fox rushing to Romney’s defence, is rather then protect and support Romney; they are in fact exposing how weak he could actually be as a potential nominee. Do not misunderstand me, if Romney eventually wins the race, I’ll throw my weight behind his election effort, as I mentioned, this general election in my opinion is unlike any other for generations. America and Western nations are on the economic brink at present, the policies of the Obama administration have proven a failure and we desperately need the American economic engine working on full throttle to get growth, expansion, and job creation underway again in a meaningful way.

I believe all the GOP candidates have very solid economic policies which will be needed to tackle the key issues of managing the national debt, curbing spending and tax reform. What has disappointed me most about the current campaign is how little the discussion has centred on actual policy. If the eventual nominee is to stand any chance of developing their message and vision for restoring America, they need to hone it in the primary race and start talking more about the key issues.

Personally, I don’t think any of the GOP candidates should be attacking each other in the personal manner they are, it only damages themselves, the party and their chances. Romney’s victory in New Hampshire tonight though should not be sold as a ringing endorsement of his candidacy, or his policies. Iowa was a good result for Romney, tonight’s result was expected, and the really important result will come in South Carolina. Romney is currently leading there ahead of Santorum and Gingrich and victory there and in Florida, and one would have to accept that it is highly unlikely with such momentum that anyone could stage a winning comeback.

What Republican’s have to realise is one thing, forget about President Obama’s performance in office, and ignore the current economic statistics and the expected $1 billion war chest. The eventual GOP nominee will have to take on President Obama at what he does best, campaigning and beat him.

I’ve maintained all along, anyone who believes President Obama short of an unexpected scandal or disaster between now and November, is going to be easy to beat in the general election is very badly mistaken.

President Obama is a community organiser by profession, organising, raising funds, communicating a message and rallying people to a cause are his strengths, they are what he can do better then anyone, dare I say it performance aside, he comes across more charismatic and electrifying then most politicians on a campaign trail that I’ve observed.

The GOP establishment and media need to be cautious about what they wish for, it is more important than ever to select the right candidate for the general election. One thing, I learned from New Hampshire, is how organised Romney’s set-up actually is. Popularity is one thing, but victory is only possible with solid organisation & strategy executed well. Romney did it effectively and he’ll need to target the Florida primary to essentially reduce the field of candidates down to the serious contenders.  It is important however to pause and remember that the race could have many twists and turns yet. Victory is not yet guaranteed for Romney and he’ll still have to work hard to secure the nomination.

I liked Romney’s closing remarks about the upcoming election being about “American Greatness,” and his emphasis on the need for everyone to still believe in that America

Post New Hampshire Debates – The GOP have a problem – Winning!

The two New Hampshire debates and mainstream media coverage of the GOP presidential race has convinced me more than ever of one simple fact, the GOP nominee will face an uphill battle to defeat President Obama come November.

Assessing both debates, the ABC News one was without question, the most disappointing one of the campaign to date. The standard and content of the questions was shameful for a presidential debate, and when a major network avoids asking the president’s rivals questions on Obamacare, debt or entitlement reform, it provides an insight into what the eventual nominee can expect in the general election.

Today’s “MeetThePress” debate was much better however, after a fast paced and engaging start, it seemed to run out of steam for the second part of the debate. In fairness, David Gregory and the two moderators made a much better effort to challenge the candidates, and provide a better standard of questions.

The two debates, as events, were disappointing and one can only hope all networks assess how they went and make a better effort for future debates.

I don’t intend to analyze the second debate here instead; I thought it may be useful to discuss some truths and where the GOP race is at present, and look ahead to the challenge and scenario’s in the coming weeks.

On the interesting side, I think Jon Huntsman did himself a power of good during the second New Hampshire debate, and came across as a real patriot for serving his country in his exchanges with Mitt Romney over China.

If Huntsman can finish in the top three in New Hampshire, he could well be the surprise package as I’ve predicted in the GOP campaign. Huntsman is electable as president make no mistake, yes; conservatives may not exactly love his moderate positions however, in this election cycle they may well have to agree to support a candidate who can beat President Obama over their more traditional GOP candidate.

What we know & who can win the general election

Mitt Romney

The mainstream media clearly want Mitt Romney to win. I think Romney is a good candidate and has a lot of positives on his side especially his business background, no matter what allegations are thrown against him. If someone creates even one job or 10,000 they are making a contribution to the economy and they should be commended not criticised for it.

My concern about Romney is two fold, firstly, he is struggling to ignite the support base despite planning his campaign for four years, having the most money of any Republican candidate and the backing of more establishment colleagues and party elders than any other candidate.Despite all these factors he is struggling to fire up the base.  My second concern comes from observing the last four debates in particular is his grasp of foreign policy. Romney can tell us what President Obama is bad at doing however, he can’t tell us what he would do as president. He also tends to buckle and panic when he comes under pressure. I’ll definitely support Romney if he is the nominee however, do I believe he can ignite the enthusiasm and attract enough support to beat President Obama in the general election? I’m yet to be convinced.

Newt Gingrich & Rick Santorum

The truth is former Speaker Gingrich would make an exceptional president in my opinion. I’m not interested in people’s mistakes over a lifetime, I want someone elected this time with the ability, skills and leadership who can make a difference and deliver on what they say without isolating sections of society. The establishment are firmly Anti-Newt no matter how they use their outlets to spin the argument; it is plain and clear for the average person to see. Speaker Gingrich’s biggest challenge is over coming those odds and Senator Santorum.

Senator Santorum did himself a world of good and achieved a massive credible second place in Iowa. We must be clear, can he at this stage of his career beat President Obama in a general election race, truthfully, no! The reality is that both these men may need to make concessions with each other and my honest belief is they would both best be served by uniting.

If they run on a President and V.P. ticket together and win and go on to perform well, the platform would be there for Santorum to be president in the future. If both men fail to reach a consensus, it is likely that both will lose out to Mitt Romney in the primary race. Together, they could both challenge President Obama and I believe, offer a clear contrast in the general election and win!

Jon Huntsman

Yes, my third pick for winning the general election is Jon Huntsman however, it all hinges on him getting a top three finish in New Hampshire. Make no mistake about it; President Obama would not have picked him for Ambassador to China if he and his team weren’t worried about Huntsman making a run for president this time. Also, they would have vetted Huntsman for the role, so there really can’t be too much hidden baggage to attack Huntsman on in a general election campaign.

I would recommend to anyone questioning my logic here to go to C-Span and take time to watch the Huntsman-Gingrich debate. Huntsman is brilliantly clever and respectfully perhaps the most intelligent and knowledgeable candidate in the GOP field except for Gingrich. He has a great economic plan and has an excellent record as Governor.

If the GOP base can take a second look at Huntsman and he starts gaining some interest and accept that like Romney, he is a moderate on some issues, I believe Huntsman could definitely beat President Obama in the general election race. It all comes down to the result in New Hampshire this Tuesday, democracy will decide.

Ron Paul

I do admire the Texas Congressman for his long and consistent record. I think he has some good ideas on domestic issues however; I cannot warm to his foreign affairs positions. I don’t think Paul could beat President Obama in a general election or frankly come close however, Paul will play a very important role in the GOP primary race. He will potentially decide the outcome of the entire primary race and he will insist on certain policy commitments in return. I expect the Texas Congressman to prove the most influential of all the candidates in the eventual destination of the GOP Nomination and to go out on a high.

Rick Perry

I credit the Texas Governor for entering the race and he has achieved many fine things during his tenure there as governor and has improved considerably, as a candidate, at a national level after some disastrous hiccups. Personally, I would like to see the Governor make a final decision whether to bow out or stay in the race following South Carolina’s primary. I think he can attempt another run in four or eight years time and use the experience this time around to prepare for that. Realistically, he can’t win the primary race or a general election campaign this time round after the earlier mistakes.

I appreciate that many people are passionate about their candidates however; the establishment and GOP supporters need to make a conscious decision on whether they want to win back the White House on November 6, 2012, or leave it resting in the hands of President Obama for another four years

An interesting couple of weeks lie ahead.

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.

Disgusting Ron Paul attack Ad against Huntsman brings campaign to new low

The depths of personal attacks in the Republican party race sank to a new low yesterday when a video was released by a supporter of Ron Paul attacking Jon Huntsman, but using footage of his adopted children to question his “American values”.

The video, posted to YouTube by the account “NHLiberty4Paul,” first calls Huntsman the “Manchurian Candidate,” asking: “What’s he hiding?” It then shows footage of Huntsman speaking Mandarin, and photos and video of him and adopted daughter Gracie Mei.

It goes on to ask if Huntsman “shares our values” and is a “man of faith,” before cutting to a picture of him with possibly his adopted daughter from India,  Asha Bharati. It closes with the message: “American Values and Liberty. Vote Ron Paul.”

“It’s just stupid,” the former U.S. ambassador to China said at a gathering in New Hampshire on Friday.

“If somebody wants to poke fun of me for speaking Chinese, that’s OK. What I object to is bringing forward pictures and videos of my adopted daughters, and suggesting there is some sinister motive there. I have a daughter from China who was abandoned at two months of age and left in a vegetable market, picked up by the police and sent to an orphanage.”

Huntsman joked that Gracie Mei, now 12, is “my senior foreign policy advisor.” But more, she and Asha are “part of my family.”

“I have two little girls who are a daily reminder that there are a lot of kids in this world who don’t have the breaks that we do, and who face a very, very uncertain future  . . . and any sense of upward mobility. Now these two girls are on the presidential campaign trail. I say how cool is that?” he said.

Paul’s spokeswoman for New Hampshire, Kate Schackai, responded saying she didn’t know who was responsible for the footage, but said it was not connected to Paul’s campaign.

“The video was utterly distasteful and no one who actually supports Dr Paul’s principles would have made it,” she said.

Abby Huntsman Livingston later speaking to Fox’s Megyn Kelly on the matter referred to her adopted sisters as the “love of my dad’s life” who came from very unfortunate circumstances, saying they have been “what makes us happy every day” on the campaign trail.

“I was surprised to see this ad. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like this, so I think we’re all a little bit stunned by it,” she said, adding that she fears that her sister Gracie, who is 12, will come upon the video.

She also warned the apparent Paul supporters behind the video: “Unfortunately, the Ron Paul supporters don’t realize that these actions really affect the Ron Paul campaign.”  It was brilliant to see a bright young lady putting family before politics and putting the distasteful nature of the attack into excellent perspective, proving she’s a credit to her father.

Later in the day Ron Paul’s campaign called on the person who put up the video to take the spot down, calling it “disgusting.”

More controversy is looming with a five page attack mailing going out to South Carolina residents attacking all of Paul’s competitors with a particularly harsh emphasis on Newt Gingrich. “Newt Gingrich has a long record of liberal appeasement, flip-flopping on key issues, and lobbying for insider millions even calling him a “counterfeit conservative.”

Paul also attacks Texas Governor Rick Perry’s immigration record and Mitt Romney on his flip-flops on abortion and “Romneycare” in Massachusetts.

There is no doubt regardless of the outcome, Rep. Paul will play a decisive part in the eventual destination of the GOP nomination however, at what cost to the party and his legacy.

The New Hampshire Presidential debates – It could be “live free or die” – for some candidates challenge.

The race for the Republican Party presidential nomination heats up this weekend with a set of weekend debates providing what could be, the last chance for some of the Republican presidential hopefuls to prove, who is the best alternative to frontrunner Mitt Romney ahead of next week’s New Hampshire primary.

The six remaining candidates will go head to head in Saturday’s ABC News, Yahoo and WMUR sponsored debate.  Front runner Mitt Romney who has a residence in the state and was governor of neighbouring Massachusetts, appears to have an unassailable lead according to the latest Union Leader poll with 47 percent of New Hampshire GOP primary voters saying they would vote for Romney, compared to 17 percent for Ron Paul and 13 percent for Jon Huntsman.

Saturday’s debate will be followed by another on Sunday in NBC’s – Meet the Press debate, which will be the first time in the campaign that major debates will have been held back to back.

Romney has come under increasing attack since his slim-line victory in Iowa over Rick Santorum and is expected to be very much the candidate under fire in both debates. Romney also suffered a huge blow with the major Newspaper – The Boston Globe coming out in support of Jon Huntsman over Romney, on the eve of the debate.

Romney has the most to lose, not only is he expected to win New Hampshire comfortably, he is expected to win big, so any slip ups in the debates could severely damage his somewhat expectant party nomination. Romney needs to remain on message and appear presidential like as in previous debates. Romney has shown a tendency to be prickly when challenged on his record, and he will need to avoid any reactive snappy comments.

Fresh from his excellent second place finish and injection of campaign cash from donors, it will be an equally big night for former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum who will find himself front and center of the attention for the first time in these debates. Santorum has struggled for air-time in all the previous debates, but his good fortune and excellent Iowa finish brings with it a higher level of expectation. Santorum needs to win the conservative battle with friend and fellow challenger former speaker – Newt Gingrich to be the clear alternative to Romney. Santorum is a good debater but some possible chinks in his armour may be his social stances on Gay-Marriage, Gay members serving in the military and earmarks during his time as Senator. Social issues do not have the same level of weight in New Hampshire as they do in Iowa, and policy and position stances are very much more under the scrutiny of voters. Santorum needs to remain composed and focus on his policy stances as far as possible to maintain his excellent momentum.

The two candidates who could prove decisive in the outcome of both debates are Ron Paul & Jon Huntsman.

Ron Paul’s campaign has raised a massive $13 million in the fourth quarter, behind only Romney’s fundraising of more than $20 million. New Hampshire’s primary has a considerable number of independent voters and it is likely, Paul will place well regardless of the debates. Paul’s domestic policies are popular, but with the increasing current tension with Iran have come increasing scrutiny and attention on his foreign policy stance which has drawn a sharp contrast between him and the other candidates. My belief is that Paul will go after Perry and Gingrich in these two debates strategically, hoping to deal their campaigns the all important fatal blow. A three horse race as opposed to a six horse race would suit Paul considerably more in his efforts to be the Romney alternative.

Turning to the dark horse of the race Jon Huntsman, it depends which Jon Huntsman turns up to the debates. Anyone who observed the Huntsman-Gingrich debates in December would’ve realised here is a candidate who is as equally intelligent as Gingrich, he has a very unique perspective on Asia-Pacific matters and an exceptional record as former Governor of the state of Utah.

Huntsman in my opinion has been too quick to play the “I’m your guy next door” routine in previous major debates. He needs to show he is serious on the issues, remain focussed and appear presidential like, all at the same time as challenging front runner Romney. Many believe Huntsman and Romney are from the moderate side of the Republican Party however, Huntsman has bet his entire strategy on doing well in New Hampshire. Perhaps Huntsman’s strategy was to wait until these debates before really showing what he is capable of doing. If so, it will prove an effective strategy, if however, he performs as in previous debates his entire campaign will be over once voting is completed next Tuesday.

Texas Governor Rick Perry appeared to be on the verge of pulling out of the race following Iowa’s result. In Perry’s favour going into these debates is the fact that expectations couldn’t be lower. Perry has become a hit on YouTube due to a series of blunders in his campaign and previous debates however, he has absolutely nothing to lose and his last few debate performances have been encouraging. I believe Perry will have a few key attack moments prepared for tomorrow night and he can choose his moment to go on the offensive. I actually expect Perry to surprise a lot of people for all the right reasons in both debates, and it could provide the boost he needs ahead of his make or break challenge in South Carolina later in the month.

Finally, I’ve saved the best for last, former Speaker Gingrich who many are saying he’ll be “Nasty Newt”. Other then Romney and despite the claims of many in the media and establishment, Newt as it currently stands, is the only other real electable candidate at a national level in the race. Newt was clearly hurt by the attacks from Romney and Paul in Iowa over the last month, and where he has tried to run a positive campaign, he now realises he has to not turn negative, but stand stronger.

Newt has a brilliant mind and like all brilliant people, they sometimes make mistakes but America as a nation needs a president who is prepared to change the course of Washington, has the knowledge and ability to do it and above all, someone who will not be afraid to explore new departures for the benefit of the nation.

Newt has performed extremely well during all the previous debates but must be careful not to be overly eager at attacking Romney tomorrow night. Newt in my opinion needs to focus on his own ideas & policies, if challenged on his record or a mistake must be honest and if necessary, apologetic. Most importantly, he needs to avoid appearing snarly.

Newt should focus on President Obama and not the other candidates unless they attack him. The watching public want to see the alternative to President Obama emerge and he needs to draw a clear contrast between what he’d do as president, compared to the president. This is where Romney attacking Gingrich has been clever, he has forced Gingrich to remain on the defensive and appear local while he strides forward appearing to look presidential and national level like.

Newt needs to play to his strengths and avoid going on the attack however; he needs to be prepared for them. Where Newt can win these debates in by focussing on President Obama and being firm but assertive in his responses to any attacks from the other candidates against him. If he follows these points and remains disciplined, he’ll win both debates comfortably and remind everyone, why he can be the real alternative to President Obama.

One thing is guaranteed from both debates; expect them to be highly negative and vicious in some cases. It is make or break time especially for Huntsman so the stakes are getting higher as the field is getting smaller. I’m hoping whatever the outcome; an alternative to Romney emerges over the next three weeks who can make the primary race a competitive one and not a foregone conclusion as the establishment and some in the media want for Romney.

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.

Attacking fellow Republicans could leave the GOP facing a wipe out in 2012

Congress’s rating is at an all-time low, the Payroll-Tax Cut Extension has ground to a standstill, and due to some in the media and Republican Party establishment deciding, they want Mitt Romney as their nominee over everyone else, an open “negative smear campaign” led by a political action committee with close ties to the former Massachusetts governor, has been unleashed on Speaker Gingrich in the last few weeks. All these actions and the forced withdrawal by Herman Cain from the presidential race has only convinced me of one thing, the pundits and establishment figures are dictating the GOP nomination, not the ordinary voters.

Any candidate who has led the Republican field, with the exception of Romney, has come under an avalanche of attacks which has damaged their fund raising and campaign capabilities considerably. I have arrived at one very clear conclusion, if Republicans don’t shift their focus from continuing the dire and frequent mistakes in Congress or on the campaign trail behind them, and start focussing on addressing the very real problems facing the nation in 2012, it will be a foregone conclusion that President Obama will be re-elected. More worryingly, the Democrats may hold onto the Senate and make gains in the House of Representatives come November 2012.

The election and America needs a candidate who can provide solutions, address the deficit issues and restore confidence in the American economy. I always maintained, if America truly wants the transformational leader needed to repair the damage after a decade of war, and three years of poor policy and a weak economy, then the Republicans need to cease the attacks on each other and focus on policy.

Many will point to Mitt Romney’s private sector accomplishments and yes, they are impressive however, Romney has stayed away from the media for most of the campaign up until recently. Furthermore, he has been great at highlighting what President Obama and the other candidates represent however, he simply has not been convincing at telling people what he stands for. He’ll say, private sector experience, creating jobs, and family however, is his jobs plan the most robust on the campaign? I would argue no, and by some considerable difference.

Romney has refused to urge the group “Restore Our Future” to halt the attacks on Gingrich, saying that the law prohibits his campaign and such groups to coordinate. “I’m not allowed to communicate with a super PAC in any way, shape or form,” Romney said. “If we coordinate in any way whatsoever, we go to the big house.”

A fired-up Gingrich read Romney’s remarks to reporters and then promptly labelled them “baloney.” He again urged Romney to demand that the negative spots be taken down. Gingrich said Restore Our Future “was created by his former staff and funded by his personal wealth.”

I admire the former Speaker in his efforts to stick to the Republican 11th Commandment of not attacking another candidate. One has to consider, in view of the intensity and nature of the attacks on Gingrich in recent weeks, was it the DNC or someone within the GOP who scuttled Herman Cain’s campaign? If one reflects on the evidence of recent weeks, I would say any impartial person would have to seriously question the source of the allegations against Herman Cain which forced him to abandon his campaign and surmise that perhaps they didn’t originate from the Democratic Party Machine.

I watch a number of the American channels here in Europe over the internet or on Satellite on a daily basis. What has surprised me is how many positive Romney stories have been run by Fox News with little or no negative inferences when compared to the coverage of Gingrich in recent weeks. I even mentioned in an article the other day that Fox appears to have become the Romney channel. I’ll say one thing, if their biased coverage continues, I will vote with my feet and stop watching it with an ample amount of others channels to choose from.

I want the Republican Party not just to win the presidential campaign in November 2012, but to win majorities in the House and Senate. The party is in danger of losing sight of the bigger picture by not stepping in to cease the attacks between candidates. They need to develop their messaging as a vision for rebuilding America, that messaging has to be based on issues, policy and an ability to deliver, not effective media consultants or engaging in a personal smear contest. Ideas and solutions have to be the mantra of the Republican Party going into 2012. If you show voters a clearly defined path to economic restoration and might, they won’t be interested in personality; it has to be about substance.

President Obama and the Democrats want nothing more then a long, damaging GOP primary contest. He can’t run on his record and with the money available to his campaign, President Obama will win a negative and personal attack campaign easily and four more years. Furthermore, Romney has not really had the level of scrutiny or attacks that other GOP front runners have encountered in this campaign. Am I convinced he can rise above a similar level and intensity of attacks that Bachmann, Cain, Perry and Gingrich have experienced and beat President Obama? I do not believe he can. Romney has had an easy ride up to this point and my biggest fear is he wins the nomination only to crumble too easily in a general election race.

2012 is about more than the presidential race, it is about getting a strong leader and effective working government who can lead the country back to greatness. If you allow smooth talking and large media buys dictate your thinking then perhaps the prediction of the Chinese century being the 21st Century is not too inaccurate after all.

The Fox News GOP debate analysis

Newt Gingrich entered last night’s Fox News debate in Sioux City, Iowa, with a political target on his back, as Mitt Romney and the rest of the Republican presidential candidates looked to challenge his front-runner status ahead of the Iowa Caucuses. In a week that has seen unacceptable attacks from a bygone era from the likes of Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, Gingrich, vowed to stay to stay positive. My big fear before the debate was that the Republican candidates would have done so much damage in their primary campaign that any hopes of beating President Obama would be all but disappeared before 2012 had even begun. 

The moderators were Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier, Chris Wallace and Neil Cavuto and they put forward good strong questions and weren’t afraid to challenge the candidates. I was especially pleased to hear a question on the Fast and the furious being placed, as it is a topic certain to raise its head during the general election.

WINNERS

Newt Gingrich

Speaker Gingrich was definitely looking for a big performance on the night to compliment his new found front runner status. Gingrich did receive some tough questioning especially from Michele Bachmann over his involvement with Freddie Mac. Overall though, Newt as in all the previous debates, was the most substantive on policy and tried his best to stay focussed on the policy aspect on the night. He added humour into his responses saying he didn’t want to be viewed as overly critically, so he was standing there editing before responding to a question about President Obama and the Keystone pipeline, he even poked fun at recent critiques of his “zany” reputation. Gingrich delivered a powerful condemnation of President Obama campaigning instead of passing the approval for the Keystone pipeline. One thing I noticed was that while Bachmann was quick to attack Newt at every opportunity, Bachmann on more then one occasion deferred to Gingrich’s response and threw some additional commentary to attempt to build up her response in some instances. Gingrich demonstrated with ease that he has the solid base of policy and in particular foreign policy, that no other candidate can match. Overall a good, solid, winning performance by former speaker Gingrich and after a week where the GOP party machine and many other Republican Super Pac’s, have been running a hard hitting campaign against him.

The two biggest issues of clarification for me on the night were that he possesses the policies to beat President Obama and the toughness to face the attacks that would come in a general election campaign. Newt is tough and in my view, has demonstrated that he desperately wants people’s votes and to challenge President Obama.

Rick Santorum

Contrary to many media commentators, I believe former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum did himself a world of good during last nights debate. While he wasn’t as outlandishly aggressive like Bachmann, he again highlighted his efforts in Iowa. He emphasised the need to restore American manufacturing jobs and gave a very good answer on the Iranian issue, again clashing with Ron Paul. The one thing I think Santorum managed to do very subtlety last night was position himself as the strong social conservative to the Iowa voters. The conservative voters of Iowa will have noticed his performance to their satisfaction even if, the mass media didn’t pick up on it. I thought it was Santorum’s best debate night without appearing desperate as Bachmann did. Should he get a decent result and surprise a few people in Iowa. An area Santorum will need some stronger selling points on is job creation and the economy, if he is to make an impact in later states.

Mitt Romney

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney appeared to heed the general consensus before the debate, that he needed to move away from his ill advised and much publicised attacks in particular against Newt Gingrich. I was extremely surprised to hear in the post debate summary on Fox News that Frank Luntz and Hannity, thought he won the debate. I thought to myself, what! I must have been watching a different debate. Romney’s performance was safe; he managed to provide some good substantive answers on the economy and did well in explaining his role with Bain Capital. Romney was presidential in his delivery, but yet again, almost tripped up in the debate on foreign policy. Like Gingrich, Romney focussed his attacks on President Obama to good effect saying, if he is elected president this century will be an American century, not a Chinese century. Romney explained the narrative about working with an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature in Massachusetts, which was effective to a watching audience.

In my humble opinion, not his best debate performance but a comfortable one nonetheless. My concern with Romney is that he will look like a Republican, but sound too much like a Democrat in a general election match-up against President Obama. I’m yet to be convinced of his ability to take on the Obama campaign machine and win. Romney is too prickly in my view to take the harsh attacks that will inevitably come in a general election campaign.

Rick Perry

The Texas Governor had a relatively quiet first half of the debate until a question by Neil Cavuto brought him to life on his debating skills. I loved the way he put humour but a level of seriousness into his reply saying he would even turn up early to debate President Obama. He did well attacking Gingrich over his perceived inability to distinguish between a lobbyist and a consultant.” An interesting if somewhat equally confusing statement was when he compared himself to Denver bronco’s Quarterback Tim Tebow. The point he was trying to make essentially was he is now an underdog candidate but can mount a comeback against the odds like Tebow. Perry has restored some credibility to his challenge and his call for a part-time Congress is starting to catch some people’s attention. If Perry can finish in the top four in Iowa and with his recent renewed confidence, he could challenge in South Carolina and Florida in a serious way. Perry is starting to show he is resilient and prepared to fight his way back into contention.

Losers

Michele Bachmann

I’ll give Congresswoman Bachmann credit for her gutsy and aggressive performance last night. She took every opportunity to try and steal the limelight but over cooked her fine start by trying to hit Gingrich again on his record with Planned Parenthood. She sounded like a moaning child in a playground saying she’s serious candidate, the mere fact she used that statement immediately made the point that actually, although she’s a serious politician, her day and chances of winning in Iowa are all but gone. I highlighted how she would default to Gingrich’s answer when it appeared to anyone watching, that the question she was asked, stumped her slightly. My point here is, you cannot attack a candidate constantly and when it suits you for playing it safe purposes, defer to their answer as the authoritative response if you want to be president. I did enjoy her tussle with Ron Paul on his position in Iran. Surprisingly she didn’t use the Newt Romney line which has been so effective in the previous debate. Gingrich was clever mentioning her statements as being often factually incorrect, a simple yet effective rebuttal, as it is a charge she has often been accused of in the past. Overall, I credit her for her effort but she over played her hand somewhat and were noticeably exposed in some of her response. An “A” for effort though, but a case of too little, too late.

Ron Paul

As always Ron Paul supporters packed the auditorium and were their usual vocal selves. Paul was energised, direct and articulate in most of his responses and he is clearly enjoying his moment as serious contender for winning the Iowa caucus. Paul as always was consistent, repeated his commitment to cutting $1 trillion from the budget. He looked and acted like a frontrunner however, his isolationist stance on Iran hurt him badly again last night. Only if Paul could find a way of shifting his position on Iran slightly he would have much greater broad appeal but as we witnessed during Bachmann’s brutal and most powerful attack, his foreign policy makes him frankly unelectable in a general election. Paul will have a good result in Iowa no doubt largely due to his organisation and supporters however; he simply isn’t electable with his stance on Iran. Paul got hit hard in the post-debate conversation with Sean Hannity over his Newsletter and he was visibly rattled and agitated by Hannity. I don’t expect to see him appearing anytime soon on the Hannity show.

Jon Huntsman

I have a simple statement here, would the real Jon Huntsman stand up. If anyone watched the debate between himself and Gingrich earlier in the week they will see he was simply brilliant. Last night it was a train wreck, simple. Huntsman’s attempts at humour and using young language such as “we are getting screwed as Americans” fell flat. He didn’t make an impression with any of his answers and seemed too laid back and without any real sense of passion throughout. A very disappointing performance and ironically, he probably did himself some harm in New Hampshire too, where he was starting to make some recent gains.

Summary

Overall, the lesson from the night was the fact that perhaps it was the first night where the GOP candidates are starting to cause damage to President Obama and gain interest from the larger electorate. A promising night for the party and something to certainly start the Obama campaign machine to stop taking re-election as guaranteed.

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