Of all the congressional races in the country this year, the one with the greatest potential for revolutionary change is that of Robyn Hamlin.
Robyn is a small business owner, small-government firebrand, and Republican candidate for US Congress in Missouri’s first district. For nearly half a century, Missouri CD-1 has been represented by one family. First Bill Clay, then his son William Lacy Clay. This Democratic family dynasty has gone in lock step with increasing the national debt, instituting a government takeover of health care, and slashing civil liberties. The local GOP establishment has provided no support to any of its congressional candidates, and many believe that it has actually made an under-the-table deal to keep the seat in Clay’s hands.
Robyn Hamlin was the party nominee in 2010 and garnered only 26% of the general election vote, but there has been a sea change in the district since then.
1). Because of the 2010 US census, Missouri lost a congressional district, and so CD-1 absorbed a lot of new voters from surrounding districts, which has caused Republican numbers in CD-1 to rise by a whopping 10% or so.
2). Because of redistricting, incumbent Congressman Russ Carnahan is challenging incumbent Congressman William Lacy Clay in the same primary, and it’s shaping up to be a bloodbath. Whichever Democrat emerges will be badly bruised amongst his own party in the general election.
3). No Republican nominee in Missouri’s CD-1 has ever been able to receive any support or resources for the local GOP establishment, but this year, Robyn went over the local party’s heads and hired David Adams (campaign manager for Rand Paul’s 2010 Senate run) and Dave Nalle (strategy advisor to Ted Cruz for Senate 2012). Together, they have put together a strong and serious campaign.
For the first time in half a century, conservatives have a chance to flip a long-standing blue district into the red column. Consider sending $20 or $30 her way and contributing to what may be one of the biggest upsets of the season.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I am also proud to be consulting her campaign.)
From the official release:
The Romney for President campaign today announced that Ed Gillespie, the former Republican National Committee Chairman, will join the campaign in a voluntary role as a Senior Adviser.
“I am pleased that Ed is joining my team,” said Mitt Romney. “He brings a wealth of experience that will prove invaluable in the political battle that lies ahead. Barack Obama is building a $1 billion campaign war machine, and Ed will play an important role in countering it. He’ll help in bringing Republicans and all Americans together behind my campaign and in communicating our message that America can do better than the chronic high unemployment, slow economic growth, and bitter political divisions that are Barack Obama’s primary accomplishments.”
On joining the campaign as a Senior Adviser, Ed Gillespie said, “I’m excited to join Mitt Romney’s campaign team. His plan to reduce taxes, balance the federal budget, strengthen our national security and protect innocent human life stands in sharp contrast to the ruinous policies of President Obama. His record of strong leadership as governor and proven history of great accomplishment in both the public and private sectors show he has the ability to make the tough decisions needed to be a good president, which is sadly missing right now.”
Background On Ed Gillespie:
Ed Gillespie Is The Former Republican National Committee Chairman And A Former Counselor To President George W. Bush. For 25 years, Ed has worked to advance conservative principles and elect Republican leaders. He was a longtime top aide to former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and helped craft 1994’s “Contract with America.” He worked on President George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign and served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee in the 2004 presidential election cycle.
In 2007, he was named Counselor to the President of the United States.
One of the most impressive things to witness in the 2012 Republican Primary for me has been to see the organization and collaboration of Mitt Romney’s campaign team. Where other candidates did their best to criss-cross the early states, attend fundraisers, cut advertisements, do TV appearances and radio interviews, hold conference calls, and do all the other things that are part of running for President largely on their own, Mitt Romney’s team was a political hydra. While Tim Pawlenty and Jason Chaffetz held a teleconference for reporters, Chris Christie was doing townhalls for supporters, Mitt was out giving speeches on the stump, and the Florida Congressional delegation was cutting ads for the campaign. It was a lesson not only in multi-tasking, but in the full utilization of all available resources – and Mitt schooled everyone at it.
This is one of the reasons I am confident that Mitt Romney, now our presumptive nominee, is by far the greatest candidate available to take on Barack Obama. For the general election, it is not going to be just Mitt Romney by himself out there taking on the Obama machine. Chris Christie, Tim Pawlenty, Bob McDonnell, Nikki Haley, Kelly Ayotte, John Sununu, and dozens more will be out campaigning for him as well. Defending him on morning news shows. Attacking Obama for him. Talking to their constituents on his behalf. Leading multi-pronged attacks.
Who does Obama have? Nancy Pelosi? Harry Reid? David Axelrod? Seriously? You think those folks are going to sway American opinion?
If you are looking for a reason why endorsements matter, just take a glance at how Romney has utilized his endorsers as surrogates this primary season. And then imagine him using them again as surrogates in the general election against Barack Obama. The Romney campaign’s ability to drive a very focused message across several fronts at the same time has been impressive to watch, and we will get more displays of Romney’s organizational prowess and competence come general election time. I can hardly wait.
Update: I’m not the only one taking note of Romney’s use of his supporters as surrogates: CNN Political Ticker has a story out about how Romney won the Florida primary, noting that “Romney’s campaign unleashed an army of surrogates” to campaign for him and take down Newt Gingrich. This is really fun to watch – unless, of course, you are on the receiving end of that army’s offensive.
Politico has an interesting piece up about Perry’s campaign relaunch, as he attempts to resurrect his chances in the primary race. The relaunch begins with the tax plan announcement today in South Carolina, and then moves to stage two: a blitzkrieg of negative advertisements, focused like a laser at Mitt Romney.
“[T]hey believe that if they can kill Romney, no one else can get the nomination but Perry,” Castellanos said. “I expect that a few Perry positives will soon hit the TV airwaves, but they will just be cover for a brutal assault on Romney from the Perry campaign and his super PAC.”
He warned: “Perry won’t just go negative. He’ll make your television bleed and beg for mercy.”
One Republican operative familiar with the work of Perry’s new team expressed concern that the coming campaign could be so negative as to “jeopardize the general election.”
“They want to destroy Romney, and they don’t care if there is no GOP elephant left,” the operative said. “Total destroy mission. And Perry’s bought into it.”
Another Republican braced for a savage assault on Romney that could weaken the GOP for the fight against President Barack Obama: “If there’s no party left, there’s no party left, and that’s what Axelrod and Obama’s guys are hoping for.” (Emphasis mine.)
Rick Perry has $15 million to spend on this “savage assault”… and whether you’re a Romney fan or not, you’ve got to be concerned about Team Perry’s attitude. This does not bode well for the party after the primary is over.
One Rick hires another Rick’s team:
As his campaign seeks to re-establish itself in the top tier of the Republican presidential nomination fight, suggest that Texas Gov. Rick Perry is hiring on a series of consultants who last worked together on the 2010 campaign of Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
Curt Anderson… and Nelson Warfield will bulk up Perry’s media and advertising operation while Tony Fabrizio will help direct polling. Anderson, Warfield and Fabrizio were the strategic core of Scott’s operation in the last election — a race where the one-time health care executive spent tens of millions on ads that blanketed the Florida airwaves and delivered him a somewhat unexpected victory.
It has long been known (or at least strongly suggested) that Rick Perry will get Rick Scott’s endorsement (if Perry is still in this thing by the time Florida rolls around), so that angle to the story is no big surprise.
The interesting aspect is that this would suggest Perry is doubling down on Florida as the last great hope for his flailing campaign. Given the final primary calendar, it makes sense (although, if he can’t win Iowa or South Carolina, he’s going to find himself in Rudy Giuliani ’08 territory). Also, as Hotline notes, the fact that Perry has extended his inner circle to include these three guys would seem to indicate that Perry knows he’s flailing and needs some help that his current team cannot provide to him.
Romney has released the list of folks that are on his Foreign Policy & National Security Advisory Team, and it is nothing short of incredibly impressive. For the full list of names, jump below the fold – here are some highlights:
Again, the full list is below the fold. This is a highly and impressively experienced foreign policy team the likes of which I would venture to guess no other candidate will come close to replicating. This team is unveiled the day prior to Romney’s major foreign policy speech in South Carolina tomorrow.
Yesterday was the Day of Endorsements in the GOP primary race: Mitt Romney won some love from Camp Pawlenty, Iowa, and New Hampshire; Huntsman got a nod from Georgia, and Perry nabbed an important Florida leader.
In addition to picking up the backing of Vin Weber, Romney was also endorsed by two other former Pawlenty supporters: Iowa State Representative Linda Miller and Dallas County (Iowa) Recorder Chad Airhart. Two other Iowa political activists endorsed Romney yesterday as well – Kristin Moran and Jacqui Norman – for a total of four Iowa endorsements.
Adding to his nods from Team T-Paw and Iowa, Romney was also endorsed by former New Hampshire Senate President Tom Eaton, a big name in New Hampshire politics. During some of Romney’s campaign stops in New Hampshire yesterday, he previewed what is likely to become a key line in his stump speech as he attempts to regain some momentum and blunt the ascension of Rick Perry:
“There will also be some differences, and in my case I won’t just have been somebody who watched jobs be created, I actually created jobs. I’ve had that experience. I spent my life in the private sector. I’m a business guy; I’m a conservative businessman; I’m not a lifelong politician,” Romney said. “I spent four years in government. I joke that I didn’t inhale.”
Meanwhile, Jon Huntsman visited the homestate of Gingrich and Cain to speak to their state House of Representatives. While there, Huntsman announced the support of the longest-serving Republican in the state House, Earl Ehrhart. Ehrhart’s son is currently serving with Huntsman’s son at the Naval Academy, so the family connections probably mean this endorsement isn’t quite the big shot in the arm the Huntsman campaign is looking for as they try desperately to gain traction in the race.
And finally, Rick Perry got in on the endorsement action as well, landing a big get in the key battleground state of Florida: speaker of the House Dean Cannon. As Politico notes, “The Republican legislator is one of the highest profile figures in Florida politics, and his backing will help Perry establish a beachhead of official-side support in the Sunshine State. Cannon will also play a key role in determining the date of the Florida primary, which is currently set for Jan. 31, in violation of Republican National Committee rules.”
Hogan Gidley, the executive director for Mike Huckabee’s PAC, has signed on to Rick Santorum’s campaign to lead the communications and press department for the longshot candidate.
This is the third notable former Huckabee backer who has chosen sides in the 2012 race, with Ed Rollins joining Team Michele and Huck’s daughter going to T-Paw. As GOP12 notes, “it’s clear that Huck World isn’t feeling particular pressure to back a specific candidate.”
I would add that the splintering of the Huckabee socon juggernaut looks to be indicative of the dissatisfaction many are feeling with the current field. With no one candidate for their support to gel around, it may be that nobody ends up the clear winner of the so-called “Huckabee primary”.
Evangelical Christians will finally have their candidate in this race if (and when) Rick Perry finally jumps in the fray – or at least their leaders will. Since early June, evangelical leaders have been coordinating support for Perry and urging him to run.
TIME Magazine has the scoop:
TIME has learned, a group of prominent figures on the Christian Right held a conference call to discuss their dissatisfaction with the current GOP presidential field, and agreed that Rick Perry would be their preferred candidate if he entered the race. Among those on the call were Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council; David Barton, the Texas activist and go-to historian for the Christian Right; and John Hagee, the controversial San Antonio pastor whose endorsement John McCain rejected in 2008.
Religious conservatives have often played a substantial role in choosing past Republican nominees, but leaders on the Christian Right have been conspicuously quiet so far in this campaign season. Privately, however, they are enthusiastic about Perry and are encouraging the Texas governor to throw his ten-gallon hat into the ring…
Perry has been doing a lot of praying in the past year. On the morning of his inauguration to a new term as governor, he appeared at a prayer breakfast attended by some Christian Right heavyweights who have been following the Texan’s activities on their behalf. “People flew in from across the country for this,” said one participant. The breakfast was organized by David Lane, an activist from California who has set up “Pastor Policy Briefings” in at least 14 states over the past several years that have been attended by nearly 10,000 pastors. Doug Wead, a conservative historian who is close to the Bush family, described Lane this way on his blog: “Lane is the mysterious, behind the scenes, evangelical kingmaker who stormed into Iowa in 2008 and tilted the whole thing from Romney to Huckabee.”
Lane is the man to have on your team if you want to organize religious conservatives to support your campaign. And he’s the one behind that June conference call in which key players of the Christian Right decided to do just that for Rick Perry.
Meanwhile, Americans for Rick Perry, an independent group supporting Perry for President, is building a campaign organization likely to transfer over to Perry when he jumps in the race. Today, the group announced that they have hired Craig Schoenfeld, a veteran Iowa strategist who had been leading Newt Gingrich’s Iowa campaign up until the Newtiny. Schoenfeld has a long history in Iowa politics, including being George W. Bush’s political director back in 2000.
Schoenfeld has already been busy contacting other Iowa players and reportedly offering them six-week contracts to work with the organization — a term which would take them through the Ames Straw Poll in mid August.
Bob Schuman, who runs Americans for Rick Perry, says he has also been in contact with other key Iowansregarding a Perry run – including Bob Vander Plaats, a key figure in the Huckabee primary.
Mike Huckabee’s daughter Sarah has officially signed on as one of Tim Pawlenty’s “senior advisers”:
The campaign said Ms. Sanders would help Mr. Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, achieve the victory that Mr. Huckabee captured in the Iowa caucuses in 2008. Mr. Pawlenty is facing tough competition in Iowa, including Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a Tea Party favorite who was born in the Hawkeye State…
Mr. Pawlenty’s campaign said Ms. Sanders would initially focus on expanding the governor’s grass-roots efforts in Iowa with the aim of winning the summer’s straw poll.
But the campaign is clearly hoping that the staff-level hire will suggest that Mr. Pawlenty will have the support of Mr. Huckabee, who swept to a victory in Iowa with support from the many evangelical Christians in the Republican primary.
Hey, at this point Pawlenty needs any kind of help he can get. Perhaps Sarah’s presence will attract some former Huckabee supporters over to Tim’s side.
UPDATE: Politico reports that Sarah will take over the “Iowa Straw Poll effort” for the Pawlenty campaign.
A couple stories about Huntsman’s growing campaign, showing just how serious of a competitor he may turn out to be.
First, Hotline has news of some impressive staff hires in the key early state of Florida:
David Johnson, a former executive director of the Republican Party of Florida, has worked on slew of campaigns and ballot initiatives in the state. He helped oversee the Presidency III straw poll won by Bob Dole, an experience that could be valuable to the Huntsman team as it competes in the Presidency V straw poll in September.
Marc Reichelderfer was a consultant to Mitt Romney’s campaign in Florida in 2008 and has close ties to state Sen. John Thrasher, the former state party chairman, who has endorsed Romney. He has advised the state GOP’s House and Senate campaign committees and helped elect a number of lawmakers, including House Speaker Dean Cannon.
Alex W. Castellanos Jr., is the son of the veteran GOP media consultant with the same name to the Bush family. He is a partner at Purple Strategies.
And Mark Halperin has the news of a key endorsement for party insiders:
C. Boyden Gray backs Utahan’s bid, poised to become chair of policy team.
This is the first, but by no means the last, of eye-catching endorsements Huntsman will get from the GOP Establishment, including many with ties to Ronald Reagan and Bushes 41 and 43. Gray’s endorsement will be a semiotic dog whistle for a lot of big-time bundlers. It doesn’t mean Huntsman will get the nomination, of course, but combined with the Wall Street and corporate America backing he is already in line to receive, it will give him a leg up on becoming the Romney Alternative. And, at this point, becoming the Romney Alternative is the whole ball of wax.
If bundlers have already begun lining up behind Huntsman as was reported last month, this is sure to give Huntsman’s 2Q fundraising numbers an even bigger shot in the arm.
Well, this didn’t take long:
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s presidential campaign announced today that former Governor Sonny Perdue will join its national efforts. Until today, Gov. Perdue was Newt Gingrich’s national campaign co-chair.
“Tim Pawlenty is a great man, he was a phenomenal governor, and he is the person I now believe stands the greatest chance of defeating President Obama. He is the only candidate who has laid out a real plan to grow the American economy, and his track record in Minnesota is proof he’s the right man for the job,” Perdue said.
And the bloodletting continues… Astonishingly, Gingrich claims he intends to continue his campaign. Perhaps Purdue, a former Chairman of the Republican Governors Association, will use that connection to lure Haley Barbour over to Team Pawlenty? Stay tuned.
Regardless, bringing on a prominent former southern governor should help bolster Pawlenty’s standing in South Carolina. Adding Joe Wilson doesn’t hurt, either.
Breaking news from ABC:
Experienced Republican operative Ed Rollins will play a key role, likely that of campaign manager, when Rep. Michele Bachmann announces her bid for the White House later this month, he told ABC News…
Rollins said he just returned from a two-week vacation and he was “trying to get his hands around” what it will take to put together a campaign organization for the Minnesota congresswoman and Tea Party favorite.
He also said he wanted to avoid some of the “stumbles” of other candidates in their initial campaign launches. Bachmann, he said, would be a “first-rate candidate, she deserves a great launch.”
Rollins, an experienced campaign manager, ran Mike Huckabee’s national bid in 2008 and helped Ronald Reagan win in the White House in 1984.
Rollins helped former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee win the 2008 Iowa caucus, the state where pundits think the socially-conservative Bachmann has the best chance of victory. Bachmann is expected to make her candidacy official later this month in Waterloo, Iowa the town where she was born.
This is big news for the once-third-tier candidate – especially and particularly in Iowa, where it will most likely propel her to first-tier status at Ames and in the caucuses. Rollins has the experience, knows the lay of the land, and understands how to win the state of Iowa. Bringing his expertise to Bachmann’s campaign lends her more of an air of legitimacy that she has been lacking.
UPDATE: CBS News also notes that Bachmann has hired “Brett O’Donnell, who advised George W. Bush and John McCain and is considered the best debate coach in politics.” Some big name gets for Bachmann…
Tim Pawlenty announced Friday that top Iowa fundraiser Nicole Schlinger will join his presidential campaign.
In 2007, Schlinger ran Mitt Romney’s Iowa straw poll campaign, delivering the former Massachusetts governor a victory. She also founded a telemarketing firm, Campaign Headquarters, that could be key to helping Pawlenty reach Iowa voters.
Ouch, not an insignificant loss for Mitt, but another nice “get” for T-Paw. Does this further suggest that Romney may not contest the Ames Straw Poll?
Most probably already know about this, but Herman Cain has officially announced his candidacy:
“In case you accidentally listen to a skeptic or doubting Thomas out there, just to be clear … I’m running for president of the United States, and I’m not running for second,” he said.
“Let me tell you what the Cain Doctrine would be: We ain’t raising the debt ceiling,” he said, to loud cheers. “We are going to cut cut the spending.”
…Cain has said he supports a strong military, lower taxes, less regulation, a return to the gold standard and he has openly been critical of President Obama’s health care plan.
While I doubt the ultimate viability of a candidate with zero prior political experience, even in this environment of unprecedented levels of anti-Washington sentiment, I must admit that Cain seems almost tailor-made for talk radio-types and much of the Tea Party.
The South Bend Tribune had an interesting write-up on Mitch Daniels, in which they discussed his habit of boarding with his constituents, instead of in hotels, while traveling within Indiana:
Mary said the governor quipped, “Here comes Mitch the Mooch,” upon entering the house.
The Kahls, who described themselves as not very political, had never met Daniels before. That didn’t matter, though. Having him over felt like a low-key visit from a friend, they said.
Daniels and the family sat at the dining room table, eating chips and salsa and chatting until about 11:30 p.m. Ben and Gabe were allowed to stay up past their usual bed times.
They talked about their families, Indiana, garage sales, wrestling, the Kahls’ former home in Iowa. Politics and the presidency never came up.
“It was really easy to talk to him,” Kevin said.
“There were times during the conversation,” Mary added, “when I thought, ‘This is the governor sitting in our dining room.’ He’s just so down to earth.”
Although Daniels clearly avoided discussing the issues during his stay, this report nonetheless shows his impressive skills in retail politics. He’ll need them in the early states, should he choose to run.
And last but not least, Tim Pawlenty has made another noteworthy addition to his Iowa campaign organization:
Prospective presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty announced a key staff addition Friday: Ed Failor Jr., former president of Iowans for Tax Relief.
Failor, of Muscatine, will serve as a senior consultant to Pawlenty’s exploratory team.
Failor recently departed from Iowans for Tax Relief, one of the most powerful political action organizations in Iowa, and, for Republican presidential candidates, a much-sought pool of fiscally focused Iowans.
The article also mentions three other members of Pawlenty’s Iowa inner circle, including Eric Woolson, Mike Huckabee’s Iowa Campaign Manager in 2008.
Despite the relative lack of headlines he has received, T-Paw clearly intends to play for keeps in the Hawkeye State.
Team Romney has made a couple eyebrow-raising hires in the past couple of days.
Yesterday he hired Mark DeMoss, an evangelical leader and founder of The DeMoss Group (the nation’s largest public relations agency serving Christian leaders) and DeMoss News. DeMoss will serve as a senior adviser to the Romney campaign.
This morning, Romney announced the hire of David Raad in South Carolina. Raad served as George W. Bush’s regional director in South Carolina for the 2000 election, and then led W’s re-election efforts in Missouri in 2004.
These hires are particularly interesting because of all the chatter about the problems Romney has with evangelicals and the questions of whether or not he will fight to contest South Carolina. While the pundits are busy talking and speculating, Romney is busy building a campaign team.
Tim Pawlenty recently hired two campaign operatives in vital states. First, in South Carolina:
Kurt Pickhardt, the South Carolina Republican Party’s operations director, started work Monday as Pawlenty’s political director in the state.
…The former Minnesota governor’s recently-hired pollster, Jon Lerner, also has South Carolina ties. He advised both Govs. Mark Sanford and Nikki Haley.
And next, in Florida:
Tim Pawlenty has turned to a familiar source for advice as he makes his bid for the Republican presidential nomination: longtime Florida political and education insider Phil Handy.
Handy served as chairman of the state’s board of education under former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush—who has ruled out a 2012 White House bid—and thus had a role in shaping that state’s ambitious and influential policies on school choice, charters, and testing and grading schools.
He brings high-level campaign experience to Pawlenty’s team. Handy served as a top adviser on school issues during Sen. John McCain’s unsuccessful 2008 bid for the White House.
This comes on the heels of word that the Governor held his biggest fundraiser yet tonight in Minneapolis. The campaign extended invitations to many leaders of the Minnesota business community.
With Mitt Romney’s much-discussed fundraising blitz and more suggestion than ever that Mitch Daniels will throw his hat in the ring, things have become that much tougher for Pawlenty. However, T-Paw appears far from ready to take it lying down, as he has shown that he will continue charging ahead and introducing himself to Republicans across the nation.
From the official release of Huckabee’s 2008 SC Chair, Mike Campbell:
“Like all of us who worked so hard for my good friend Mike Huckabee’s 2008 campaign, I was disappointed he decided not to run for president this year. However, in the quest to replace Barack Obama, we must quickly look to the future.
“On his recent visit to South Carolina, I had the opportunity to meet with Governor Jon Huntsman, and I was extremely impressed. As Governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman demonstrated he is the type of problem-solver our country needs. He’s a proven conservative who cut taxes, grew jobs, passed free-market health care reform, and signed strong pro-life legislation.
“Like my Dad, Huntsman was a popular Governor who kept his promises and left office with a powerful record of achievement. As more South Carolinians get to know Governor Huntsman, I believe they will come to the same conclusion I have — that he is the right leader for our party and our country in this important election.
“Governor Huntsman and I spoke on the phone today, and we had a great conversation. I strongly urged him to run for the Republican nomination for President and offered my enthusiastic support if he does.”
When Haley Barbour announced he wasn’t running for President, the big question quickly became: where will his campaign staff go? Specifically, Barbour made seven rather marquee hires during the run-up to his aborted bid that I am hereby dubbing “Haley’s Seven”:
As you can see, these seven folks represent a wealth of campaign talent spread over numerous different areas – from early states to establishment support to online presence. Where these seven folks will end up has been the topic of many postulations and guessing games since Barbour released them.
This morning comes news that the first one of them has signed on with a new suitor: James Richardson is going with Jon Huntsman.
Jon Huntsman has added former Haley Barbour communications aide James Richardson to his campaign-in-waiting… Richardson was the RNC’s online communications manager in 2008 and is the first former Haley Barbour staffer to commit to one of the other presidential campaigns.
A big (and somewhat surprising) “get” for Huntsman, on the tail of his visits to South Carolina and New Hampshire, provide his campaign-to-be with some great momentum. It’s no wonder he has rocketed up to third place on Intrade behind Romney and Pawlenty.
We’ll keep you posted as the rest of Haley’s Seven find other homes for this primary campaign. Until then, anyone else want to join the guessing game?
Bruce Keough led Romney’s New Hampshire steering committee in 2008, but when he was asked to join Romney’s 2012 team he declined. Afterwards, he ran to Mother Jones to explain why he isn’t re-upping with Romney:
Keough says Romney’s wishy-washy political identity and inability to stake out firm, consistent positions as a candidate were the reasons for his decision to cut ties with Romney. “He struggled with that in the last campaign,” Keough explains, “and to some extent I think he’s still struggling with it.”
That news was tempered a bit by the Romney campaign’s announcement of two new supporters in New Hampshire — former House Speaker Doug Scamman and his wife, former state Rep. Stella Scamman. Both worked against Romney in 2008 as they supported Rudy Giuliani. Politico describes the two as a “power couple” in New Hampshire politics and notes that their endorsement was highly sought after, explaining that “The Scammans’s New Hampshire farm has become a regular campaign stop for Republican presidential primary candidates.”
Tim Pawlenty hasn’t yet officially announced his candidacy, but there he was yesterday talking to the AP and promising a relentless focus on Iowa.
AMES, Iowa – Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has aggressively laid the foundation for an Iowa caucus campaign, and on Tuesday he promised a relentless focus on the state with plenty of time for one-on-one meetings with activists.
“It seems to me that in Iowa, meeting people and retail politics matters,” Pawlenty told The Associated Press after a meeting with about 50 activists. “Getting to know them, and them you, matters. Part of the process is showing up and getting acquainted.”
Pawlenty has formed a presidential exploratory committee and has been the most determined of potential Republican hopefuls in building a network in Iowa. Last week, he named an Iowa legislator to manage his campaign in the state and hired a dozen other top staff to help him organize for the state’s leadoff nominating caucuses.
Other Republicans also have made moves in Iowa. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has also formed an exploratory committee, has identified a top staffer to run his Iowa effort, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has hired an Iowa director, and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota has identified operatives who would be expected to organize her Iowa campaign if she opts to seek the GOP nomination.
But none has focused as intently on Iowa as Pawlenty, who made it clear that he would follow the traditional strategy of seeking to meet as many Republicans as possible.
Any hopeful in the top tier who takes Iowa for granted is a fool.
Tim Pawlenty isn’t giving up New Hampshire without a serious fight: this morning he is set to announce eight new hires in the state who will lead his New Hampshire steering committee. They are:
A handful of former McCain folks drifting over to Pawlenty this morning, along with Huck’s New Hampshire co-chair (to mirror Huck’s loss of his Iowa co-chair a couple days ago).
All in all, an impressive announcement from Pawlenty, who continues to follow nearly the exact same path this primary season as Romney did in 2008 — focus on Iowa and New Hampshire and hire huge teams of people in both states.
In contrast, Romney’s campaign announced last night that they added just one person to their New Hampshire team: the familiar face of Ryan Williams. Williams worked for Romney’s 2008 NH campaign, and in 2012 will fill the role of regional press secretary.
Newt Gingrich is hiring two lobbyists to work for his campaign in the state of Iowa. In other news, the Iowan House Majority Leader, Linda Upmeyer, has offered to work for him.
It is beginning to look like Newt may really be serious this time about running.
Roy Moore becomes the fifth candidate to make it official and file paperwork for an exploratory committee with the FEC:
Republican Roy Moore, who believes he was wrongly removed from Alabama’s supreme court, will file federal paperwork today to create a presidential exploratory committee, he said in an interview. And the Iowa co-chairman for Arkansas’s Mike Huckabee 2008 campaign is shepherding him around the state on a volunteer basis…
Moore will make 25 appearances this week on a 6 1/2-day tour of Iowa, home of the nation’s earliest caucuses, according to MoorePAC, a Gallant, Ala.-based political action committee…
Danny Carroll, a former state legislator who is a full-time lobbyist for the Family Leader, a socially conservative advocacy group, is Moore’s lead Iowa contact. “He’s my guy,” said Carroll, who worked for Huckabee’s campaign in the 2008 cycle.
From the official release:
GAIL GITCHO JOINS ROMNEY FOR PRESIDENT EXPLORATORY COMMITTEE AS COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
Today, the Romney for President Exploratory Committee announced that Gail Gitcho, a well-respected, 10-year veteran of Republican campaigns and elections, will serve as Communications Director.
Gitcho most recently served as U.S. Senator Scott Brown’s (R-MA) Communications Director in Washington, where she helped manage a barrage of press for Brown after he found himself in the limelight for his stunning, come-from-behind victory to replace Ted Kennedy.
She also served as National Press Secretary for the Republican National Committee from 2009 to 2010. Prior to that, she was Mid-Atlantic Communications Director for John McCain’s 2008 presidential bid. She started the 2008 presidential cycle as a Regional Press Secretary for Romney for President. She was also Communications Director for U.S. Representative Clay Shaw (R-FL) from 2004 to 2007.
Gitcho is a graduate of Ripon College.
The Fix has the scoop:
Tim Pawlenty has signed Jon Lerner as the pollster for his soon-to-be-announced presidential campaign, the latest in a string of high-profile hires for the former Minnesota governor.
“I took a lot of time to look at the candidates and the records of the candidates in the field,” said Lerner in an interview with The Fix. “The more I looked at it, the more I was impressed with what Tim Pawlenty was able to do in Minnesota.”
Lerner is one of the lowest-profile consultants in Washington but has a long list of wins under his belt. In the 2010 cycle, he helped elect Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), as well as Govs. Nikki Haley (R-S.C.) and Sean Parnell (R-Alaska). Lerner has also long been involved with the Club for Growth’s political activities.
Like Pawlenty, Lerner spent his formative years in Minnesota, but the two men’s paths never crossed before last year. (Pawlenty served as the vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association, and Lerner was one of the organization’s lead consultants.)
Lerner explained that he was drawn to Pawlenty because of his belief that the governor can effectively articulate the economic message so central to most GOP primary voters.
“The candidate who becomes the nominee of our party is the one who can most credibly speak to the cluster of voters that are heavily motivated by economic and size-of-government concerns, and Tim Pawlenty’s record and positions on those issues are very compelling,” said Lerner.
Lerner joins a rapidly-expanding senior political team for Pawlenty that includes Nick Ayers, the campaign manager, and Jon Seaton, the political director — moves that should put to rest any lingering doubts about whether the former governor is running for president.
The hirings, while largely ignored by most voters, will almost certainly build on the positive buzz for Pawlenty in the political chattering class. Success in the staff chase shows seriousness and, Pawlenty hopes, will help drive donors to invest in his campaign.
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Redstate editor Erick Erickson had this to say regarding the Pawlenty campaign’s hire of Nick Ayers:
I have done my best to ignore Tim Pawlenty. He has never struck me as the most exciting politician. His global warming position made me squeamish. He’s always had an okay record as Governor, but around the edges he struck me as not really a movement conservative.
So I haven’t paid attention to Tim Pawlenty. Then he went and hired Nick Ayers.
For those of you who do not know Nick Ayers, he just finished a very successful tenure as Executive Director of the Republican Governors Association. Wunderkind is a word typically associated with Ayers.
He is a young, principled conservative grounded in an unapologetic faith in Christ. I know him pretty well. He started out in politics and I just took him for being a bright kid in the right place at the right time for Georgia’s Republican tidal wave back in 2002. But he kept being successful. At some point, people like me who were willing to assume it had all been about being in the right place at the right time had to realize Nick Ayers is sharp.
This is all a long way of saying that this hire forces me to pay attention to Tim Pawlenty and you should too now. Putting a twenty-something in such a position is a bold and risky move. But Nick Ayers’s track record suggests Pawlenty is suddenly a force to be reckoned with — especially for guys like me who were counting him out before he really got started.
Single staff picks are rarely, if ever, game changers. But they can be game starters. To me, that’s what this is. Tim Pawlenty is in it to win it in a way I didn’t think he really would be.
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Hotline on Call is reporting this morning that Tim Pawlenty is set to announce Nick Ayers as his campaign manager. Ayers is the former director of the Republican Governors Association, and considered one of the brightest rising stars in the Republican campaign firmament. It was widely expected that Ayers would end up in the inner circle of his former boss at the RGA, Haley Barbour, or at a high position within the RNC (where he is very highly regarded). Ayers is a huge get for Pawlenty, and his signing on with T-Paw raises the question: what is Haley Barbour’s next move?
Wes Enos was Mike Huckabee’s political director in Iowa and a “key aide” during the 2008 campaign. This morning, he announced he was leaving the Huckabee camp to work for Michele Bachmann.
As Ben Smith notes at Politico, “the cost of a late decision is becoming pretty clear… the key players in Huckabee’s always sparse infrastructure are now mostly gone, and his late dive into Iowa that much harder to see.”
I don’t know about the “mostly gone” part of that statement, but one thing is becoming abundantly clear: if Mike Huckabee decides to run for President in 2012, he will have to do so without the talent and “organization” he used in 2008. While the top talent is scooped up by other campaigns, his team will be a cut-rate one if assembled this summer.
Perhaps the silver lining in all of this for Huckabee is that he never really had an organization in 2008 to begin with, so maybe losing it doesn’t hurt him as much as the talking heads think it will.