I try not to front page all the individual legislators that endorse presidential candidates, but I’ve got to highlight this one just because she is my Representative from the wonderful state of Wyoming: Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) has thrown her support behind Mitt Romney.
Lummis was a welcome replacement here in the Cowboy State for the much-maligned Barbara Cubin back in 2008. Then in 2010, Lummis was one of the original members of Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party caucus (you know, the group that supposedly doesn’t like Mitt Romney).
She may be most well known nationally, however, for this bit on the Colbert Report. Heh.
Also announced today was an endorsement from Robert Dold (R-IL), giving Romney all three of the Illinois Representatives who have endorsed thus far in the race.
Our Destiny PAC has yet to file a report detailing either its donors or financial activities with the Federal Election Commission. It was officially formed in late August and boasts Fred Davis, the ad maker behind Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) 2008 presidential campaign, as its main strategist.
A source close to the ad buy suggested it would be “substantial” but would not discuss specifics. One GOP media buyer said the initial expenditure was $132,000 in the Manchester (N.H.) medi market but the group has also bought time in Boston and Burling, Vermont — meaning it is likely in excess of $500,000.
At first glance, this seems like yet another attack piece from the Huntsman faction. However, once you move past the initial frames, things start to get more positive, and Huntsman’s major achievements flash across the screen. For a candidate who most voters don’t even know, he’ll need more of this if he hopes to gain any measurable traction in the Granite State. After all, as many here and elsewhere have noted, people rarely, if ever, simply cast a vote for someone out of protest against another candidate; rather, they need at least some reason to vote for someone.
Despite his initial struggles, Huntsman doesn’t appear ready to throw in the towel. Perhaps he believes President Obama will win re-election, prompting the party to seek a more moderate standard-bearer in 2016 and thus giving him plenty of reason to continue positioning himself as the heir to John McCain. Maybe he wants to remain relevant to increase his chances of landing a Veep or Secretary of State spot. Maybe he has simply become a victim of delusion.
Whatever the case, pondering Huntsman’s situation reminded me of an intriguing piece I read a couple months ago, from everybody’s favorite Republican, David Frum. At the time, Frum surmised that Huntsman’s speech to the Florida CPAC conference may portend the Ambassador running to Mitt’s right in an end-around attempt to become the Tea Party-backed Romney alternative.
Similar whispers have popped up more recently. And with the unexpected (to say the least) volatility of the Tea Party vote throughout this nomination process, it would behoove us to at least avoid dismissing the idea out of hand.
After all, it’s not too hard to imagine; notwithstanding his confrontational rhetoric toward the party base, Huntsman does sport arguably the strongest records of any candidate on some key Republican issues, such as life, taxes, and guns. And if the primary polling has taught us anything, it’s that the Tea Party support remains incredibly fluid and receptive to rhetoric and tone (to that point, none other than Erick Erickson has already started expressing openness toward J-Hunt). Therefore, Huntsman could conceivably charge after the base by emphasizing the highlights of his resume as he introduces himself to voters (and especially New Hampshirites).
He could also take an even bigger risk and attempt to ideologically position himself as a fusion of a conservative populist (a niche that no candidate has truly seized) and a McCain-esque, Independent-friendly maverick. It sounds inherently contradictory and would certainly prove difficult, but it’s actually not impossible, especially in this current political environment.
First and foremost, a candidate with this strategy would have to rail against concentrated power in virtually all forms – big government, big corporations, an adventurous foreign policy, etc. They would have to describe themselves as pro-market, not simply pro-business. Huntsman has already taken a step in this direction with his tax proposal, as it would remove the myriad deductions and credits in the tax code that distort markets, pick winners and losers, and place power in the hands of a select few instead of empowering individuals with more equitable opportunity to pursue their happiness.
A candidate like Huntsman could also thread the aforementioned ideological needle by advocating means desirable to Independents to achieve ends favored by Conservatives, and vice versa. As a means to reduce the deficit (desired by Conservatives), he could call for combining or eliminating federal programs and departments, which he would describe with Independent-friendly adjectives like “wasteful”, “excessive”, and “duplicative”, in addition to describing his intentions to reduce America’s military footprint in economic and cost-benefit terms. On the issue of entitlements (hot-button for Conservatives), he could call for his own version of a bipartisan panel directed to devise a plan to “strengthen” entitlements and make them more “sustainable” (money for Independents, who also love bipartisanship). As a means to create jobs (what Independents want first and foremost), he could trumpet his tax plan (embraced by Conservatives). On the social front, he could align himself with the polling trends we’ve seen emerge by playing up his pro-life record, especially in the primary, and then re-affirming his support for same-sex civil unions in a general election. And throughout the endeavor, he could remind voters of the “courage” he has shown in “standing up to the entrenched interests in all areas of government” and “addressing tough issues [such as the environment in Utah] by bringing all sides together and taking innovative approaches”.
These represent only a few examples that would become available to the Ambassador (or does he prefer Governor?) if he adopted this strategy. Of course, in the end, he would face two enormous – and potentially insurmountable – obstacles: his service in the Obama administration (the scarlet “O”, if you will) and his even-mannered disposition (too vanilla for the Republican electorate, to the less charitable). However, I would argue again that the polling thus far in this race has showed us that nearly any candidate can pique the interest of the Tea Party with the right wording and emotion.
Critics may also charge that this approach would require Huntsman to change past positions. Now, I don’t purport to know enough about his background to categorically discount this claim, but I would counter that with so few people knowing much about him, he could avoid the flip-flopper perception surprisingly easily by making it a point to define his record on his own terms.
It remains a remote possibility that Huntsman will win the nomination. However, a possibility still exists, should he choose an appropriate strategy and, of course, fall in the good graces of Lady Luck
The Polling Company (R) Iowa 2012 GOP Caucus Survey
- Herman Cain 20%
- Newt Gingrich 19%
- Mitt Romney 14%
- Michele Bachmann 10%
- Ron Paul 10%
- Rick Perry 5%
- Rick Santorum 4%
- Jon Huntsman 2%
- Gary Johnson 1%
- Undecided 13%
Survey of 501 likely Republican caucus-goers was conducted November 11-13, 2011. The margin of error is +/- 4.4 percentage points.
–Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal.
Dick Morris accidentally met up with Mitt Romney in a restaurant at the Detroit airport last Friday. Here is Dick’s report on that chance meeting:
Dick reports that Romney appeared quite loose, very relaxed, and in control. Mitt seemed pleased with the way the campaign has been going. Dick mentions that he was very impressed and feels that Mitt would make a great president.
- Newt Gingrich 28%
- Herman Cain 25%
- Mitt Romney 18%
- Rick Perry 6%
- Michele Bachmann 5%
- Ron Paul 5%
- Jon Huntsman 3%
- Rick Santorum 1%
- Gary Johnson 1%
Our national poll, out this afternoon, finds Newt Gingrich taking the lead in the GOP race.
CNN/ORC 2012 Presidential Poll
- Mitt Romney 24%
- Newt Gingrich 22%
- Herman Cain 14%
- Rick Perry 12%
- Ron Paul 8%
- Michele Bachmann 6%
- Jon Huntsman 3%
- Rick Santorum 3%
- Someone else (vol.) 1%
- None/No one (vol.) 4%
- No opinion 4%
Well, this is an interesting twist on things. Exactly one week ago, NBC/WSJ released a national Republican primary poll that we reported here at Race. In the midst of that survey, they identified 102 respondents who were willing to be re-contacted and re-surveyed one week later to see how the race was changing.
So the numbers below are how those 102 respondents answered a few days ago, and the numbers in parentheses are how they answered a week or so ago during the initial survey. Yes, the sample size is small, but doing a completely non-random sample is an interesting take on measuring how a race is changing — something that, to the best of my knowledge, hasn’t been done before.
- Romney – 32% (27)
- Cain – 27% (28)
- Gingrich – 22% (17)
- Paul – 9% (10)
- Perry – 4% (8)
- Bachmann – 2% (4)
- Santorum – 2% (4)
- Huntsman – 1% (1)
Initial survey of 102 Republican voters was taken as part of a larger survey on Nov 3-5. Re-survey was conducted Nov 10-12.