January 30, 2015

Can Scott Walker Be 2016’s Un-Romney?

“Someone literally sent me a threat that said they were going to gut my wife like a deer.”

Intricate, personal accounts of threats lobbed at him and his family during the recall battle are now a cornerstone of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s stump speech.

On Thursday evening, Governor Walker reiterated this theme at a small, invitation-only reception in the Lakewood, NJ home of former pharmaceutical executive Dr. Richard H. Roberts, a mega GOP donor and supporter of Governor Walker.

The predominantly Orthodox Jewish audience is far removed from the hunting culture. However, the “gut my wife like a deer” line elicited the same audible gasps as it did during the likely presidential candidate’s speech at the Freedom Summit in Iowa this past Saturday.

Scott Walker, victim?

The themes expressed in a likely presidential candidate’s stump speech aren’t there by accident. The abuse Mr. Walker endured at the hands of the left does more than just placate conservatives who relish a real fighter for their favored causes. It goes to the heart of the governor’s political success to date, which defies all conventional odds.

Little could frustrate the left more than the fact that a less-than-charismatic white male conservative governor gets to strongly curtail union power in a blue state and wins elections comfortably – three times in four years. They lobbed everything they’ve got – money, volunteers, protestors, big-name politicians – at Walker, but nothing made a dent.

Riding a wave of positive reviews of his de facto debut in the presidential race, the governor was clearly on a high in Lakewood. Appearing in a black velvet yarmulke – “It covers my bald spot well” – Mr. Walker was all smiles, handshakes and backslaps. He acknowledged with a wink and thumbs-up when individual audience members snapped pictures with their smartphones. He did all this while consistently pointing to the left’s persecution of him. “This last go around, I was the number one target in America,” he stated.

Glancing at Scott Walker’s improbable rise to a top tier presidential candidate, you see that his political sustenance is, in large part, is liberal overkill. Were it not for the historic 2012 recall race the left subjected him to, Scott Walker would be just one amongst a selection of competent but uninspiring white male Republican governors in blue and purple states. Not much different than, say, Rick Snyder of Michigan, or the man many wrongly attempt pegging Walker to: former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.

None of them will be president in 2017. Yet, now Walker is well positioned as a potential rare hero common hero for both establishment GOPers and firebrands like Rush Limbaugh.

An enemy’s enemy is a friend. An enemy’s top enemy is a best friend.

“I think that’s insulting.”

The left’s overkill has not only endeared Mr. Walker to all factions of the right, but also to the Wisconsin independents and, in Walker’s words, “discerning Democrats” who helped him win his three tough races.

Liberals don’t bat an eyelash when making the most outlandish accusations against Republicans, such as accusing Mitt Romney of causing a woman to die from cancer or predicting that Colorado Senator Cory Gardner would ban condoms.

Like clockwork, they tried this shtick on Scott Walker. In September, DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Walker has given women “the back of his hand” and is “grabbing us by the hair.” Yet it backfired big time. Both the campaign of Walker’s opponent Mary Burke and, later, Wasserman Schultz herself, distanced themselves from the remark.

Unlike with most politicians, especially conservative Republicans, you just cannot throw the bunker busting bombs at Scott Walker. It doesn’t work.

At the Lakewood reception, I asked Governor Walker about the lessons he learned while running against a female Democrat in 2014, and how that would translate to the inevitable gender-card-playing should he face Hillary Clinton next November. “I think that’s insulting,” he responded. “I talk to female voters all the time. The women I talk to are not unlike most men; they care about the economy; they care about their neighbor who has been out of work for six months; they care about schools.”

Walker bets on regular guy image

The governor’s retort to Democrats’ “War on Women” is not original, but he is one of its most effective messengers.

While his major 2016 GOP rivals may have more colorful personalities, and/or more intriguing biographies, Mr. Walker is betting that his regular-guy image will win the day. He takes pains to mention his working class childhood, bargain hunting at Kohl’s, and his wife’s part-time jobs. When discussing the need for a strong and consistent foreign policy, he uses as an example the pact he had with wife all the years that they would never contradict each other when one punished one of their sons.

Governor Walker’s persona and demeanor are indeed not dynamic, but he therefore also comes across as too normal and nice to be caricatured as a bogeyman. The glove doesn’t fit. “I don’t take the bait … in the end it didn’t become the kind of wedge issue you’d expect,” he explained to me regarding Democrats’ efforts to paint him as anti-woman.

The upcoming year-plus primary season will be fascinating to watch, but it is distinctly possible that Scott Walker has the perfect balance necessary for a Republican to win the White House these days: strong enough to land a knockout punch, but too agreeable for moderate voters to want to see him punched back.

Just hours before Mitt Romney announced that he would not be making another presidential run, Scott Walker was eager to contrast himself with the previous GOP nominee, who he said lost because he couldn’t connect with everyday American working class voter. “Even when I’m on Fox News and talk radio,” he said, “I talk like I’m talking to a guy sitting on his couch — he works in a factory in my state; his wife works as a nurse in the local hospital; they have two kids going to public school; they’re working hard to make ends meet – in a language that makes sense to them.”

I asked the governor how the GOP can run on the economy in 2016 if leading indicators continue their current positive trajectory. He replied that the party would need to focus on the Americans, particularly those in rural areas, whose economic conditions lag the rest of the nation’s.

While at a closed fundraiser in the home of a super wealthy donor, Scott Walker sounded the polar opposite of what Mitt Romney did in a similar setting two and a half years ago when he made his infamous “47 percent” comments.

Time will tell whether his national ambitions will end up differently too.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

-Simon Blum is a freelance writer and journalist specializing in political analysis and communication. You can follow Simon on Twitter @sbpundit. This article was first published at The Daily Caller.

by @ 5:47 pm. Filed under 2016, Mitt Romney, Opinion, Republican Party, Scott Walker

We Just Might Get a Brokered Convention

It turns out that the rules governing the 2016 convention requires that a candidate have the majority of the delegates in at least eight states before his name can be placed in nomination. That’s not plurality; that’s majority.

Now remember that all the states holding their primary/caucuses before March 15 must award their delegates via proportional representation. And remember that the Republicans are looking at a wide open field with as many as a dozen candidates having a shot.

There could easily be a scenario where nobody qualifies to have their name placed in nomination the first round. The result would be a wide-open convention. It’s anybody’s ballgame. Even a person who didn’t even run in the primaries could conceivably carry off the nomination. It happened Wendell Willkie in 1940.

It’s conceivable that things could get really fun next year. Stock up on popcorn.

 

by @ 3:41 pm. Filed under Conventions

Thoughts on Romney’s Announcement

I have had my eye on Mitt Romney since the time he ran against Ted Kennedy. I’ve watched every step of his career. I became a supporter when he stepped in and rescued the Salt Lake Olympics. That was an awesome demonstration of incredible administration skills and talent. I longed for a man like that to be President of the United States. I still do. I simply do not see anyone in either party who has the same administration abilities as Willard Mitt Romney.

But lets face facts. Before one can be President, one must be elected President. While I am fairly confident that Mitt could win the nomination once again, I am far less sanguine that he could win the general election. He just hasn’t been all that good at the retail politics necessary to win the Oval Office.

I liked the manner in which he bowed out. He has repeatedly stated over the past two years that he wasn’t planning to run, yet countless numbers of people pointed to the poll numbers and urged him to reconsider. He finally agreed to take another look. He spent several weeks seriously examining the data and likely the feelings of his family. In the end, he decided against it, and he said so. He didn’t keep dragging the suspense out trying to suck up as much media attention as possible as countless others have done. He told people he was seriously looking, he seriously looked, and then announced he was not running.

His statement announcing his decision to not run was truly classy. There was no bitterness, no recriminations, no lashing out at anyone. Just a plain statement of his feelings and reasons for not running.

As for those of you trying desperately to read between the lines looking for hidden meanings and nuances, may I offer this free advice? Chill out, you’re trying too hard. If Romney truly has a preference as to whom he would like to see win the nomination, AND he wants share it with us, he’ll tell us. There is no need to slice, dice, dissect, and weigh every word and turn of phrase in the speech looking for secret messages. He’s not running.  Accept it for what it is and move on.

 

by @ 1:11 pm. Filed under Mitt Romney

Romney is Out

From his phone call:

Let me begin by letting you know who else is on this call, besides Ann and me. There are a large number of people who signed on to be leaders of our 2016 finance effort. In addition, state political leadership from several of the early primary states are on the line. And here in New York City, and on the phone, are people who have been helping me think through how to build a new team, as well as supporters from the past who have all been kind enough to volunteer their time during this deliberation stage. Welcome, and thank you. Your loyalty and friendship, and your desire to see the country with new, competent and conservative leadership warms my heart.

After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I’ve decided it is best to give other leaders in the Party the opportunity to become our next nominee.

Let me give you some of my thinking. First, I am convinced that with the help of the people on this call, we could win the nomination. Our finance calls made it clear that we would have enough funding to be more than competitive. With few exceptions, our field political leadership is ready and enthusiastic about a new race. And the reaction of Republican voters across the country was both surprising and heartening. I know that early poll numbers move up and down a great deal during a campaign, but we would have no doubt started in a strong position. One poll out just today shows me gaining support and leading the next closest contender by nearly two to one. I also am leading in all of the four early states. So I am convinced that we could win the nomination, but fully realize it would have been difficult test and a hard fight.

I also believe with the message of making the world safer, providing opportunity to every American regardless of the neighborhood they live in, and working to break the grip of poverty, I would have the best chance of beating the eventual Democrat nominee, but that is before the other contenders have had the opportunity to take their message to the voters.

I believe that one of our next generation of Republican leaders, one who may not be as well known as I am today, one who has not yet taken their message across the country, one who is just getting started, may well emerge as being better able to defeat the Democrat nominee. In fact, I expect and hope that to be the case.

I feel that it is critical that America elect a conservative leader to become our next president. You know that I have wanted to be that president. But I do not want to make it more difficult for someone else to emerge who may have a better chance of becoming that president. You can’t imagine how hard it is for Ann and me to step aside, especially knowing of your support and the support of so many people across the country. But we believe it is for the best of the Party and the nation.

I’ve been asked, and will certainly be asked again if there are any circumstances whatsoever that might develop that could change my mind. That seems unlikely. Accordingly, I’m not organizing a PAC or taking donations; I’m not hiring a campaign team.

I encourage all of you on this call to stay engaged in the critical process of selecting a Republican nominee for President. Please feel free to sign up on a campaign for a person who you believe may become our best nominee.

I believe a Republican winning back the White House is essential for our country, and I will do whatever I can to make that happen.

To all my supporters, friends and family who worked both tirelessly and loyally to support my campaigns in the past, I will always be deeply appreciative. What you have already done is a tribute to your patriotism. We are overwhelmed and humbled by your loyalty to us, by your generosity of spirit, and by your friendship. God bless you all.

by @ 10:18 am. Filed under Mitt Romney

For Mitt, Today May Be The Day

News is breaking that dozens of supporters have received email messages inviting them to a conference call hosted by Mitt Romney himself on the status of the 2016 race this morning. Speculation is strong that he will announce one way or the other.

by @ 7:30 am. Filed under Mitt Romney

January 29, 2015

Poll Watch: Fox Continued, The Democrats

The latest Fox Poll examines the race for the Democratic nomination, as well as the Republican. While not nearly as close as the Republican, it still has an interesting nugget or two to mine from it.

The Horse Race (390 Democrats):

  • Hillary Clinton 55%
  • Joe Biden 17%
  • Elizabeth Warren 12%
  • Andrew Cuomo 4%
  • Bernie Sanders 3%
  • Martin O’Malley 2%
  • Jim Webb 1%
  • Don’t Know 3%
  • None 2%
  • Other 0%

Hillary is the prohibitive leader, but the trend lines are interesting. If you plot them out using the same poll over the last year, this is what you get:

2016 Democratic Presidential Hopefuls Fox Poll 1-26-15

Notice the abrupt drop in Clinton’s numbers after remaining steady for nearly a year north of 60%. Yes, she is still nearly 40 ppts ahead of her closest competitor and no, one dip in the line does not a trend make, but it is interesting all the same. She went from being 52 ppts ahead to “only” 38 ppts. That’s a margin shrinkage of 14 ppts; more than a quarter of her lead evaporated in six weeks time.

Poll Watch: Fox Has Mitt On Top

Fox News released their latest poll.

The horse race (394 Republicans):

  • Mitt Romney 21%
  • Mike Huckabee 11%
  • Rand Paul 11%
  • Jeb Bush 10%
  • Ben Carson 9%
  • Scott Walker 8%
  • Marco Rubio 5%
  • Chris Christie 4%
  • Ted Cruz 4%
  • Rick Perry 4%
  • Bobby Jindal 2%
  • John Kasich 1%
  • Rick Santorum 1%
  • Lindsey Graham 1%
  • Don’t Know 5%
  • None 4%
  • Other 1%

The poll was conducted by telephone with live interviewers January 25-27, 2015 among a random national sample of 1,009 registered voters (RV). Results based on the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Head to head versus (Hillary)

  • Romney 46 / (46)
  • Paul 44 / (47)
  • Bush 43 / ( 48)
  • Christie 42 / (48)

 

Jeb Wins One Over Romney In Iowa

Romney’s former Iowa Strategist has just announced that he is backing Jeb Bush this time around. The Des Moines Register reports:

Jeb Bush has successfully recruited a key political strategist into his inner circle: Iowa’s David Kochel, who has been a close adviser to Mitt Romney since Romney’s earliest days on the presidential campaign trail.

After three months of soul-searching and election forecasting, Kochel decided this week to join Team Bush, he told The Des Moines Register today in an exclusive interview.

Kochel, 50, of Des Moines, will be a senior adviser to Bush’s new political action committee, Right to Rise. If Bush pulls the trigger and runs for president of the United States, Kochel would be tapped to lead his national campaign, Bush’s advisers told the Register.

This promises to be a very entertaining primary season.

by @ 5:03 pm. Filed under Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney

Mitt Speaks At MSU

Mitt Romney spoke to the students of Mississippi State University. As a sign to how seriously he is being considered a major player, it was covered by a multitude of media outlets, from Fox, to the New York Times, to the Boston Herald, and Globe to name just a few.

What did he talk about? Hillary and Obama, for one. Fox reports:

Mitt Romney used a speech at Mississippi State University on Wednesday to strike at Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy and economic credentials in what could be seen as a sneak preview of the 2016 presidential race.

Romney, making his third public appearance since it was revealed he is considering a third run for the White House, addressed students at the university and took pre-selected questions, cracking jokes about himself and making 2016 references. He criticized President Obama’s foreign policy, as well as his handling of the economy.

“Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cluelessly pressed a reset button for Russia, which smiled and then invaded Ukraine, a sovereign nation,” Romney says. “We need to help make the world a safer place.”

He blasted Obama for not doing enough to prevent Iran from expanding its nuclear capabilities, and endorsed House Speaker John Boehner’s controversial invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress.

(more…)

by @ 4:19 pm. Filed under Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney

Walker Releases 2016’s First Ad

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has released the first campaign of the 2016 Presidential cycle.

If there was any lingering doubt that he might be running, this should remove it.

 

by @ 3:22 pm. Filed under Campaign Advertisements, Scott Walker

Poll Watch: PPP (D) Pennsylvania 2016 Presidential Survey

PPP (D) Pennsylvania 2016 Presidential Poll

  • Hillary Clinton (D) 49% {49%} [44%]
  • Chris Christie (R) 39% {39%} [48%]
  • Hillary Clinton (D) 50%
  • Mitt Romney (R) 40%
  • Hillary Clinton (D) 49% {51%} [48%]
  • Jeb Bush (R) 38% {37%} [44%]
  • Hillary Clinton (D) 50% {52%} [51%]
  • Rand Paul (R) 39% {38%} [43%]
  • Hillary Clinton (D) 51% {52%}
  • Mike Huckabee (R) 39% {37%}
  • Hillary Clinton (D) 51%
  • Ben Carson (R) 37%
  • Hillary Clinton (D) 52% {51%} [51%] (55%)
  • Rick Santorum (R) 36% {40%} [42%] (38%)
Survey of 1,042 Pennsylvania voters was conducted January 15-18, 2015.  The margin of error is +/- 3.0 percentage points. Party ID: 44% {46%} [46%] (48%) Democrat; 40% {39%} [43%] (40%) Republican; 16% {15%} [11%] (12%) Independent/Other.  Political ideology: 31% {29%} [30%] (31%) Moderate; 23% {25%} [26%] (19%) Somewhat conservative; 20% {20%} [18%] (20%) Somewhat liberal; 15% {15%} [15%] (15%) Very conservative; 11% {11%} [11%] (15%) Very liberal. Results from the poll conducted May 30 – June 1, 2014 are in curly brackets.  Results from the poll conducted November 22-25, 2013 are in square brackets. Results from the poll conducted March 8-10, 2013 are in parentheses.

-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

by @ 11:23 am. Filed under 2016, Hillary Clinton, Poll Watch

Poll Watch: Washington Post/ABC News 2016 Presidential Survey

Washington Post/ABC News 2016 Presidential Poll

  • Hillary Clinton (D) 53% (53%)
  • Chris Christie (R) 40% (41%)
  • Hillary Clinton (D) 54% [53%]
  • Jeb Bush (R) 41% [41%]
  • Hillary Clinton (D) 54% {53%}
  • Rand Paul (R) 41% {43%}
  • Hillary Clinton (D) 55%
  • Mitt Romney (R) 40%
  • Hillary Clinton (D) 56%
  • Mike Huckabee (R) 39%

Survey of 843 registered voters was conducted January 12-15, 2015. The margin of error is +/- 4 percentage points. Party ID: 33% Democrat; 26% Republican; 33% Independent. Results from the poll conducted May 29 – June 1, 2014 are in curly brackets. Results from the poll conducted April 24-27, 2014 are in square brackets. Results from the poll conducted January 20-23, 2014 are in parentheses.

-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

by @ 10:06 am. Filed under 2016, Hillary Clinton, Poll Watch, Republican Party

January 28, 2015

Poll Watch: Rasmussen 2016 Democratic Nomination Survey

  • Hillary Clinton 59% (62%) {70%} [77%] (63%)
  • Elizabeth Warren 12% (17%)
  • Joe Biden 6% (7%) {10%} [11%] (12%)
  • Bernie Sanders 4%
  • Jim Webb 3% (2%)
  • Martin O’Malley 2% (2%)
  • Some other candidate 5%
  • Undecided 9%

Survey of 648 likely Democratic voters was conducted January 18-19, 2015. The margin of error is +/- 4 percentage points. Results from the poll conducted November 20-21, 2014 are in parentheses. Results from the poll conducted November 7-8, 2013 are in curly brackets. Results from the poll conducted September 16-17, 2013 are in square brackets. Results from the poll conducted August 1-2, 2013 are in parentheses.

-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

by @ 6:45 pm. Filed under 2016, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Poll Watch

Poll Watch: Townhall/Gravis Marketing (R) South Carolina 2016 Republican Primary Survey

  • Mitt Romney 20%
  • Jeb Bush 16%
  • Scott Walker 9%
  • Mike Huckabee 8%
  • Ted Cruz 8%
  • Marco Rubio 7% 
  • Rand Paul 7% 
  • Chris Christie 5%
  • Rick Santorum 4%
  • Rick Perry 4%
  • Undecided 12%

If Mitt Romney does not run:

  • Jeb Bush 18% [22%] (16.0%)
  • Mike Huckabee 11% [19%] (15.8%)
  • Scott Walker 11% [5%] (2.3%)
  • Ted Cruz 9% [8%] (11.1%)
  • Marco Rubio 9% [6%] (7.2%) 
  • Chris Christie 8% [12%] (16.6%)
  • Rand Paul 8% [8%] (9.7%)
  • Rick Perry 5%
  • Rick Santorum 4% [2%] (2.8%)
  • Undecided 17% [19%] (18.5%)

Survey of 831 likely GOP primary voters was conducted January 21-22, 2015. The margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points. Results from the poll conducted March 6-7, 2014 are in square brackets. Results from the poll conducted November 30 – December 2, 2013 are in parentheses.

-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

by @ 12:58 pm. Filed under 2016, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Poll Watch, Republican Party

Poll Watch: Rasmussen 2016 Republican Nomination Survey

Rasmussen 2016 GOP Nomination Poll

  • Mitt Romney 24%
  • Jeb Bush 13% {18%} [12%] (16%)
  • Ben Carson 12%
  • Scott Walker 11% {20%} [5%] (6%)
  • Chris Christie 7% {15%} [22%] (21%)
  • Rand Paul 7% {13%} [20%] (15%)
  • Marco Rubio 5% [16%] (18%)
  • Rick Perry 5%
  • Some other candidate 4%
  • Undecided 12%

Survey of 787 likely Republican voters was conducted January 18-19, 2015. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points. Results from the poll conducted November 20-21, 2014 are in curly brackets.  Results from the poll conducted November 7-8, 2013 are in square brackets. Results from the poll conducted August 1-2, 2013 are in parentheses.

-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

by @ 10:15 am. Filed under 2016, Mitt Romney, Poll Watch, Republican Party

January 27, 2015

Charlie Cook’s Brackets

Since we had some fun yesterday with placing our bets in Vegas, let’s try doing brackets today. Charlie Cook, in the National Journal, divided the Republican field into four groups – the Establishment, Conservative Governors, the Tea Party, and Social Conservatives.

As always, things aren’t this simple — there are Governors in all four groups, for example – but still, it’s an interesting and different way to look at the field. It will probably help clarify things if you read Cook’s article (it’s short) to see how he defined each bracket.

I’ve created a graphic to help in visualizing the brackets (sorry that some of the lines/boxes are not quite lined up, this was my first time using this software).

Bracket

If you don’t agree with the bracket your guy/gal is in, complain to Charlie. I used his categories, with two exceptions – Bobby Jindal and Ben Carson. Cook said he didn’t know where to categorize them, and I can see why. I early on would have said Jindal belonged very much in the Conservative Gov group, but his recent speech in Iowa indicated (to me, at least) that he’s going more for the SoCon vote, so I put him there. Carson could easily go into either the Tea Party or SoCon brackets, but I somewhat arbitrarily put him into the SoCons – he evens out the numbers there, and I figure he’s not a factor anyway.

Cook seems to have included everybody who has made any noise at all about running (except George Pataki and, as noted below, Marco Rubio*), so there are a lot more people here than I hope we ever see on a debate stage, but I guess that will do no harm for this exercise – just ignore those you think will not run, or will not be a factor if they do.

Today’s assignment, class, is to choose the likely winner (please – not just your favorite!) for each bracket. Herewith mine:

Establishment: Carly Fiorina apparently did quite well in Iowa, but I can’t see her as more than (maybe) a VP possibility. Chris Christie I’ll eliminate on the basis of his unfavorables problem detailed a few posts below. I think Mitt Romney’s staleness and stiffness is less of a handicap than Jeb Bush’s name and contempt for conservatives. Marco Rubio (see footnote) could be the darkhorse winner here, if Bush doesn’t freeze him out of money and staff. Still, I’ll cautiously go with … Winner: Mitt Romney.

Conservative Governors: There might very well be a Midwest Regional already going on as a preliminary round in this bracket. If so, Scott Walker may have frozen out Rick Snyder (who I never thought was running anyway), John Kasich, and Mike Pence. The latter two could be making preparatory moves behind the scenes for all we know, but Walker looks to be way out front of them at this point. I think it comes down to Walker and too-much-baggage Rick Perry. Winner: Scott Walker.

Tea Party: This is the most heterodox bracket, which is perhaps fitting, since the Tea Party is a heterodox movement. I think Cook was fair in assembling this group and saying it is for people who are mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore. I’ll also note that in most tournaments there are tough and easy brackets, and this is the easy bracket in this one. Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and Donald Trump are probably not going to run, and if they do, they’re going nowhere. Ted Cruz will shoot himself in the foot at some point. Winner: Rand Paul.

Social Conservatives: Rick Santorum is already showing his weakness with Mike Huckabee as an alternative. He may be forced to withdraw early, if not I expect him to be eliminated in Iowa. Ben Carson, as I wrote earlier, is unlikely to be a factor. Jindal v. Huckabee could be interesting – Jindal, I think has the ability to draw votes from other brackets, but Huckabee has his vaunted charm and deep, deep SoCon roots. A close call, but … Winner: Mike Huckabee.

 

* I didn’t notice Rubio’s omission until after I had created the brackets. So please visualize his name among the Establishment bracket, where I think he fits most easily.

Romney Now Calling Utah Home

According to the Washington Post, Mitt Romney’s primary residence is in Utah, and he has recently registered to vote there.

After losing two straight presidential races, Mitt Romney packed up his home in Massachusetts and journeyed west to Utah, building a mansion here in the foothills of the Wasatch Range that has served as his sanctuary from defeat.

Here in the Salt Lake Valley, first settled by his Mormon ancestors, residents look past Romney’s electoral shortcomings and revere him as a savior for rescuing the 2002 Olympics. Romney won his highest 2012 vote margin in Utah — 73 percent to President Obama’s 25 percent. This is also where Romney has been pondering a potential third campaign, calling out to friends and past supporters and praying with his wife, Ann.

“He feels very at home here,” said John Miller, a close friend in Utah who has been talking with Romney throughout his recent deliberations. “This is a very prayerful thing. .?.?. In the end, it’s really a decision between he and Ann and their belief system, their God. That’s the authentic Mitt.”

There is always the possibility that all this talk about running for President is but a feint, and his real goal is running against Mike Lee in 2016 for the Senate. It is something to consider. Mitt is extremely well-liked in Utah having saved the 2002 Olympics.

by @ 1:55 pm. Filed under Mitt Romney

Race 4 2016 Roundup

It’s only January, 2015, and already the 2016 presidential race seems to be charging forward.

On the upswing today is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. On the heels of his supremely successful address to conservatives attending the Iowa Freedom Summit, the governor now plans to jumpstart his own PAC, aptly named, “Our American Revival.” Gov. Walker continues to impress me in his ability to use a conservative tone and language without doing so in a way that seems confrontational to those voters not fully aligned with the grassroots base and its perception of things. The use of the word, “revival,” for example, has a religious connotation, but the entire focus of Walker’s PAC and Walker’s message so far has been on freedom, and on limiting and reforming government. Like Bush in 2000, Walker seems to understand how to appeal to social conservatives without actually putting forth the kinds of policies that those in the middle may view as nanny state policies from the Right.

Speaking of the Bushes, the country’s current populist mood is giving the Left an opportunity to paint former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as a charisma-free dauphin being crowned by the establishment. From The New York Times today:

Moments after Jeb Bush delivered what many in the audience described as an unremarkable talk at a conference in Washington, Rupert Murdoch turned to his seatmate, Valerie Jarrett, the White House adviser, to gush over its content and tone.

Mr. Murdoch was pleased that Mr. Bush, the former governor of Florida, had listed the economic benefits of overhauling the nation’s immigration system, confiding in Ms. Jarrett that Mr. Bush, a likely Republican presidential candidate, had said all the right things on the fraught issue, according to three people with firsthand knowledge of the conversation.

Democrats and their fellow travelers in the media are already attempting to frame Mr. Bush as a candidate who has more in common with the establishments of both parties than with the broad swaths of middle class Americans on the ground, who may have different priorities, concerns, or viewpoints than those held and parroted by the ruling classes in Washington and New York. Mr. Bush’s challenge will be to overcome the notion that he is an out of touch Aristocrat whose policies would further drive down middle class wages, instead of lifting them.

by @ 1:44 pm. Filed under Jeb Bush, Scott Walker

Walker Forms Committee

The Washington Post reports:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, whose speech to activists in Iowa last weekend drew strong reviews, has taken the first formal step toward a presidential candidacy in 2016, establishing a committee that will help spread his message and underwrite his activities as he seeks to build his political and fundraising networks in the months ahead.

Walker filed papers to set up the committee, called “Our American Revival,” and a new Web site for the organization was scheduled to go live later Tuesday. The steps come after a busy weekend of pre-presidential events that included his address at the Iowa Freedom Summit, a later appearance at a gathering in California hosted by the billionaire Koch brothers and a stopover in Denver for additional fundraising.

Walker’s steps come at a time when other prospective candidates are making similar moves in what has quickly become the largest prospective field of Republican candidates and the most wide open nomination contest in the modern history of the party.

Slowly but surely the field begins to take shape.

by @ 1:35 pm. Filed under Scott Walker

Christie is in Serious Trouble

Harry Enten published the following chart on Five Thirty-eight blog:

enten-datalab-christiescatter

Note the close correlation between name recognition and net favorability? It is practically a straight line graph.

But notice how far below the line Chris Christie is. The article goes on to say (emphasis added):

Christie is 25 percentage points off the pace. … Given his high name recognition, you would expect him to have a net favorable rating of +45 percentage points.

Christie’s net favorable rating is more than two standard deviations below what we’d expect from a candidate like him.

Certainly the race has barely began, and you never know what might happen, but it is obvious that Governor Christie has a very long, steep hill to climb if he hopes to win the 2016 Republican nomination for President. Let’s hope for his sake that none of his big money backers read Five Thirty-eight blog.

January 26, 2015

How Much Establishment Support Does Mitt Romney Have?

There’s some interesting commentary on this video (sorry that I’m too inept to embed it), in which a Fox News Special Report panel places early bets on the Republican field – the premise being that each has $100 to allocate among the candidates at a hypothetical Vegas betting window. If you click the link, I think you’ll find it at least entertaining. For what it’s worth (which is approximately zero), the totals placed by the three panelists added up thus:

Scott Walker $85

Jeb Bush $70

Marco Rubio $70

Ted Cruz $10

The Field $50

It was interesting that nobody put a dime on Mitt Romney, who is leading all the polls (for what that is worth at this stage, which is again, in my opinion, approximately zero).

Romney’s non-support was of course picked up on and was the subject of the closing remarks, which could be summarized as:

“On Capitol Hill, few are for him, and there’s no enthusiasm elsewhere, other than from his loyalists/former staff.”

That, to me, is the most interesting part of this – I had been presuming that Romney and Bush would pretty much split the bulk of the party Establishment, with a some going to Chris Christie (also notable by his absence in the betting), and maybe slivers to Rubio and Walker.

IF this is true, the question, which I present for your comments, becomes: Is Mitt Romney the sort of candidate who can run without substantial Establishment backing? The corollary question is: IF he’s pretty much bereft of support on Capitol Hill, as alleged, will he even run?

by @ 2:34 pm. Filed under 2016, Mitt Romney, Republican Party

Trouble in Paradise, Obama/Clinton Tensions Rise

It would appear that all is not rosy between Barack Obama and his presumptive successor, Hilary Clinton. The Hill reports:

New tensions are emerging in the relationship between allies of President Obama and Hillary Clinton.

At issue is the fate of the political equivalent of gold dust — the enormous email list, comprised of many millions of supporters and donors, that the Obama team has compiled over the course of his two presidential campaigns.

The Clinton camp would dearly love to get its hands on the list, but there is no promise as yet that the president’s aides will comply.

It’s really quite simple. Knowledge is power, and Obama doesn’t want to give up any power even if it might help the Democrats keep the White House and maybe even take back Congress after he is gone. It’s all about Barry. That’s pretty much been his story from the beginning. Why would anyone expect him to change now?

If he continues to horde the list, fellow Democrats must come to him to use it. That means a continual influence in the party. In other words, they would still have to bow and scrape to him (or so he hopes).

by @ 10:07 am. Filed under Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton

Cruz, Paul, and Rubio Debate Foreign Policy

National Review reports:

An economic policy panel discussion sponsored by a Koch-backed free market group turned into a foreign policy debate between Senator Rand Paul (R.Ky.), Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), and Senator Ted Cruz (R. Texas)

“I’m kinda surrounded on this one,” Paul cracked as ABC’s Jonathan Karl opened up a conversation about President Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba, which Cruz and Rubio oppose.

Paul suggested that Richard Nixon’s decision to open up China “has made us less likely to go to war and while China is still an oppress regime they’re less oppressive probably than they were in the 70s.”

Rubio, seated next to Paul, reminded the audience that “there is no contemporary example of where an economic opening by itself made a democratic opening.” As for China, he said that the U.S. economic gestures toward the regime had made it “the richest tyranny in all of human history.” Rubio concluded by faulting Obama for making those concessions to Cuba without getting anything in return.

There was much more to the discussion. The linked article makes a good read.

by @ 9:30 am. Filed under Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz

Another Shoe Drops for Christie

Chris Christie has formed his leadership PAC, “Leadership Matters for America”. NBC News reports:

Christie filed paperwork late Friday with the FEC to form the “Leadership Matters for America” political action committee. Christie is staffing up and plans several political trips in February. Christie aides say the Governor has not made a final decision about a White House run at this time.

“There is a vehicle now for donors to get involved,” an aide said.

This PAC isn’t the same as a presidential campaign committee, but it would allow Christie to raise funds, travel the country and support other candidates. Aides say this “gives a more formal structure” to his political operation and his major donors. Christie’s Iowa trip this weekend to speak at the Freedom Summit fell under this new PAC.

by @ 9:24 am. Filed under Chris Christie

January 25, 2015

Scott Walker Making a Run at All Three Legs of the Stool

I spent a good chunk of the morning clearing out space on my DVR and I came across Governor Scott Walker’s appearance on Fox News as a guest on The Kelly File with Megyn Kelly.

As Bob Hovic outlined this morning, Governor Walker’s speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit certainly had the makings of the beginning of a presidential campaign. Yet his appearance on The Kelly File was an even bigger hint of things to come because the governor was on to discuss…..wait for it…..the crises in the Middle East as regards Al Qaeda, ISIS and the recent collapse of the pro-American Yemeni government.

Now, I might be in the minority here, but when I’m looking for expert analysis on the military and geopolitical goings-on in the most complex region of the world, I seek out the views of a governor from the American Midwest.

Snark aside, and, for the record I like the Dairy State Governor, his appearance on The Kelly File was a clear signal he intends to run for president, especially considering the subject matter of the interview. Governors usually do not appear on cable news shows to discuss foreign policy matters, especially when, as in Walker’s case, the governor is not a former member of Congress, nor a former State or Defense Department official and has never served in the military.

As he did in his speech in Iowa, Walker handled himself well in his appearance with Kelly and it was clear he had been prepped on the subject matter at hand.

Governor Walker’s mere appearance on Fox News – a network watched religiously by many on the right – to discuss matters of foreign policy was a hint in and of itself that he is heavily considering a run. During the course of the interview, Walker hit all the right points one would expect a Republican presidential candidate to hit– he criticized the Obama Administration’s lack of leadership, he used the term “Radical Islamic Terrorists,” he said the Administration’s handling of Iran and Israel sends mixed messages to our closest ally in the region (Israel).

Walker, deftly I might add, made mention of President Reagan (a must for any candidate) and subtly compared Regan’s handling of the Air Traffic Controllers strike as something of a show of force to the USSR about the new president’s seriousness. The obvious implication was that Walker stared down the unions in Wisconsin just as he, as president, would not be afraid to confront the terrorists.

Walker is smartly positioning himself as a conservative candidate who can be acceptable to just about all segments of the base, even if he is not everyone’s first choice. On economic and fiscal issues, he can point to his record governing a blue state in a conservative fashion. Walker’s tenure in Wisconsin has been further to the right than the tenures of another pair of blue state governors – Mitt Romney and Chris Christie – and did so in almost as unfriendly of territory.

By staking out some ground as a hawk on defense matters, or at least defense matters pertaining to the Middle East – but doing so in a manner that looks and sounds reasonable, he can put to rest the concerns of “defcons” who might question a Midwestern governor’s foreign policy chops. He does not have to be John Bolton to get the hawks’ votes.

As an Evangelical Christian, Walker has a natural appeal with “socons” who are large in number in both Iowa and South Carolina. He might not use the same vernacular as other darlings of the religious right like Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum, but speaks the language well-enough that these voters can get on board with him. He also checks all the right boxes on the socon issues.

In addition to appealing to all three legs of the conservative stool from an ideological standpoint, Walker has executive experience as a governor (a sitting governor mind you, not a governor who was last in office ten-plus ears ago). Also working in his favor relative to the other establishment favorites, Jeb Bush and Romney, is that he a fresh face, not someone who has run and lost for president before and is not part of a dynastic political family.

The one criticism of Governor Walker, and it is a valid one, is his rather bland and dry personality. He will not wow voters with fire-and-brimstone type speeches that we are likely to see from Cruz, he is not as charismatic and affable as either Christie or Marco Rubio. However, after electing a president largely because of his ability to give a rousing speech (and suffering the disastrous results) voters, both in the primary and general elections, might not have a problem electing a president who has a bland personality if he can be seen as competent and reasonable. And one must remember that his most likely opponent in the general election – Hillary Clinton – is not exactly a dynamic personality herself.

I think Governor Walker has a chance to be something of a breakout candidate. I would not say he is the odds-on favorite to win the nomination, but he is quickly ascending the ranks to the first tier of contenders.

What say you?  Have at it in the comments section.

by @ 4:51 pm. Filed under 2016, Scott Walker

Left-Wing Populists Win in Greece

I’ve posted a couple times previously on the rise of populist parties in Europe, which is semi-off-topic for this blog, because … well because it’s both important and interesting, and because I see it as very similar to developments here (the Tea Party and Occupy, and a broader-based feeling among many that the average person has been forgotten).

The populist parties in Europe are of both the right and left, and in a few cases fascist. But they have in common a desire to do away with rule by the Elite. As an item posted yesterday in Weekend Miscellany said:

Political earthquakes could be in store for Europe in 2015, according to research by the Economist Intelligence Unit for the BBC’s Democracy Day.

It says the rising appeal of populist parties could see some winning elections and mainstream parties forced into previously unthinkable alliances.

Europe’s “crisis of democracy” is a gap between elites and voters, EIU says.

Today, it appears that the first of maybe several shoes has fallen, as a leftist-populist party, Syriza, appears to have won the election there. Per AP:

Official results from 17.6 percent of polling stations counted showed Syriza with 35 percent and Samaras’ New Democracy with 29.3 percent. An exit poll on state-run Nerit TV projected Syriza as winning with between 36 and 38 percent, compared to ND with 26-28 percent.

Earlier projections had given Syriza 146-158 seats in parliament, and New Democracy 65-75 seats.

151 seats would give Syriza a majority in parliament. Even if they fall a few seats short, there are communist and socialist parties that would likely ally with them. The consequences of this sort of revolt, if it spreads as EIU speculates it might, would be enormous for the European Union, and therefore for the US.

I think it also offers a lesson for the 2016 election in the US, the subject of this blog. Assuming the Democrats go ahead with their coronation of Hillary Clinton, they will be extremely vulnerable to an attack by the Republican candidate based on appeals to small business, blue-collar workers, suburbanites, soft libertarians, socons, and others who feel oppressed by big government and/or tired of condescension and contempt from the media, urban elites, and establishment politicians.

Clinton and the Democrats will be vulnerable, that is, unless the Republicans nominate a candidate equally old and establishment-based and incapable of running a credible populist campaign.

by @ 3:44 pm. Filed under Hillary Clinton, International

Looking More and More Like Walker’s In

Periodically, there has been doubt expressed here that Scott Walker would enter the presidential race. I’ve never been certain of it myself, and I’m still not, but the signs are increasingly pointed that way.

The most obvious sign is today’s yesterday’s speech in Iowa, which I thought was very good (others disagree), you can decide for yourself here). Good, bad, or mediocre, though, it was clearly, to me, a presidential campaign speech (if nothing else, note his comment near the end that he plans to return to Iowa often). He also committed this week to a March speech in New Hampshire.

As he continues to gear up for a likely Republican presidential bid, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is planning his first trip to New Hampshire of the 2016 campaign season.

On March 14, Walker will be the keynote speaker at an event that is being hosted by the New Hampshire Republican Party in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

“We have enacted bold, successful reforms in Wisconsin and we have a great story to tell,” Walker said in a statement announcing his visit. “I look forward to sharing our common sense conservative message with grassroots activists, and I thank the New Hampshire GOP for this exciting opportunity.”

This Time article is a week old and may already have been referenced here (I was mostly computerless then), but it discusses his recent speech at the Republican National Committee meeting:

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker left little doubt Thursday that he is planning to run for the White House in 2016.

Speaking to the Republican National Committee (RNC) at its winter meeting in San Diego, the union-busting Midwesterner cast himself as a “new, fresh leader,” laying out a clear rationale for his candidacy as a blue-state governor with a proven record of reforming government.

“I look at our country, and I’m worried about our country the same way that I was worried about my state back in 2009,” Walker said when discussing his two sons, craftily referencing the year he decided to launch his first campaign for the governorship.

In addition, here’s a Des Moines Register item saying that Walker has signed on Joni Ernst’s top strategist, David Polyansky:

Polyansky, a Texan who played senior roles in two Iowa presidential campaigns and was the top strategist in Republican Joni Ernst’s successful campaign for U.S. Senate this past fall, will be Team Walker’s senior adviser in Iowa, sources told The Des Moines Register Thursday.

The news was confirmed by both Polyansky and Rick Wiley, who is set to manage Walker’s campaign if he opts to run.

Seven years ago, Polyansky helped orchestrate former Baptist minister Mike Huckabee’s victory in the 2008 Iowa caucuses, but for the 2016 cycle, he’s jumping on board with Walker, a pastor’s son known for winning three campaigns in four years in a blue state, and for confrontational government reforms.

The ‘invisible primary’, as has been noted here often, is about assembling a heavyweight team and lining up donors. It appears that Walker is succeeding in at least half that effort. We’ll see about the money game.

by @ 10:00 am. Filed under Scott Walker

January 24, 2015

Iowa Freedom Summit Open Thread

The Iowa Freedom Summit is taking place in Des Moines today and features several 2016 GOP hopefuls. I will post links to the speeches as the become available as well as reactions. The Des Moines Register has a live feed of the event here. Consider this an open thread. Note: Longtime R4’16 reader Joe Hanna is contributing coverage to this event.

Speeches:

Scott Walker

Dr. Ben Carson

Donald Trump

Rick Santorum

Ted Cruz

Carly Fiorina

Mike Huckabee

Rick Perry

Chris Christie

UPDATE: National JournalScott Walker Scores Standing Ovation In Iowa – The Wisconsin governor proves he can connect with these important primary voters.”

Further updates beneath the fold.

by @ 3:08 pm. Filed under 2016, Iowa Caucuses

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