Writing at the National Interest, Robert O’Brien joins a chorus of conservative commentators happily reminding the world that Mitt Romney was right to tag Vladimir Putin’s Russia as America’s top geopolitical foe, even going so far as to compare Romney to Winston Churchill. This has elicited eye-rolling from Daniel Larison, who in 2012 dismissed Romney’s criticisms of Putin’s Russia as “bizarre” and “outdated”:
Romney assumed that Russia was an inveterate foe of the U.S. on everything because Russia sometimes opposed U.S. policies. This took an unremarkable observation–Russia strongly disagrees with the U.S. on a few high-profile issues–and turned it into an absurd, discrediting exaggeration. He seemed to think that any kind of diplomatic engagement or accommodation with Russia on any issue was equivalent to appeasement. It didn’t matter that he couldn’t ever explain how the U.S. had “appeased” Russia (or any other government)–he was just reciting from an ideological script that he picked up from other people in his party.
In light of this year’s events, it is perplexing that anyone could any longer reduce the moral and diplomatic chasm between the United States and Russia to “disagreement on a few high-profile issues” — as if the clash between the two nations is nothing more than a petty ideological shouting match.
One may question the wisdom of Romney’s particular policy prescriptions — and it is no great surprise that the leader of a national political party would “recite from an ideological script” — but the question at hand is not about Romney per se, but about President Obama’s blindness toward Vladimir Putin’s imperial ambitions. In the campaign against Romney, Obama mocked him for being stuck in a “Cold War mentality.” But the so-called “Cold War mentality” is little more than a recognition of the stubbornly persistent primacy of power politics in foreign policy.
As Robert Kagan has cogently written, liberal internationalists have long dreamed of a Kantian world of ‘perpetual peace’ in which reason, diplomacy, and economic incentives will finally replace the need for projections of power — but this is a seductive illusion. The self-congratulating American narrative is that, as a threat to the prevailing liberal order, authoritarianism was vanquished at the end of the Cold War. To acknowledge that Russia is once again a geopolitical threat would be to admit that the ‘End of History’ has not arrived after all — and a war-weary public, tired of the burdens of global leadership, is loath to confront yet another imperialist autocrat who provides moral and material support to the world’s bloodiest dictators, seizes foreign territory, criminalizes dissent, and makes a fool of our president on the world stage. But this year’s events have decisively proven that Vladimir Putin intends to reassert Russia as a great power — and that his vision for the world is unquestionably hostile to American interests — and to the moral vision of classical liberalism.
At the bottom of Larison’s ambivalence toward Vladimir Putin is a sort of benign neglect; a lazy moral relativism that, while well-intended, cannot reliably distinguish between good and evil, seeing in Obama and Putin just two sides of the same belligerent coin. But the distance between the United States and Russia is not simply a “disagreement” over “a few issues” — it is a fundamental conflict of visions about the world order. In 2012, Larison approvingly quoted Heather Hurlbert, who argues that the ‘Cold War mentality’ is a sort of psychological need to rely on the “comfortable certainties” of the 1980s. But it is those who would ignore or dismiss Vladimir Putin who are retreating into the mirage of certainty; the implicit assumption that the existing geopolitical order will persist for all time if we would only leave well enough alone. But America’s enemies will never accept the unipolar order — it must be constantly, vigorously defended. If we choose to shirk from our responsibility to uphold the world order, others will step in and remake it in their own image. Vladimir Putin is taking the long view in his pursuit of power. America must do the same.
There are a number of serious Republicans interested in running for president, at this early point, in two years.
Some of them, such as Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio don’t seem to have a broad enough base that would enable them to win the nomination, but they have motivated and vocal supporters, and if they run, they will be notable factors in the Republican primaries and caucuses.
Others, including Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee and Rick Perry might be seen as figures of the past, and might not run (although Governor Perry is making serious noises about another run in 2016).
2012 vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, Governors Susana Martinez, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, and John Kasich are frequently mentioned, but have yet to indicate their serious interest in 2016.
The two figures who would probably be frontrunners, Governor Chris Christie and former Governor Jeb Bush, have current political problems to overcome (although it is more likely than not that one of these two men will be the GOP nominee).
On the other hand, if the field is large, the primaries and caucuses very bitter, AND the frontrunners falter, the resulting stalemate might propel forward a name which has not really been mentioned seriously, 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, back into contention.
Romney was perhaps the wrong candidate for 2012 because his persona played into the negative Democratic media campaign that year, and because he did not, at the end, assemble as competitive campaign as did Barack Obama. But 2016 promises a very different political environment. After two terms of Mr. Obama, the voters may be weary of any Democrat (as they were in 2008 of any Republican). We must await the results of the 2014 midterm elections to draw more precise and verified conclusions, but Obamacare almost alone seems to be moving the electorate to the GOP, and threatening to ruin the Democratic Party brand for years to come.
In spite of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, changing our approach to the Middle East by diminishing our long alliance with Israel in a trade-off for (so-far) feckless relationships with other players in the region, and reducing our military and defenses, Mr. Obama’s numbers are very low in polls about his performance in foreign policy. He has been out-dueled so far in his relationship with Russian President Putin. His first term secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, is the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party in 2016, but, although she will surely try to do so, it might be difficult for her to separate herself from Mr. Obama and her own actions (including her “re-set” with Russia) when working for him. (Remember Hubert Humphrey attempting to do this in 1968?)
Mr. Romney’s assertion that Russia and Mr. Putin were a major problem for the U.S., an assertion he made in the 2012 campaign, and subsequently ridiculed by Mr. Obama, looks rather prescient these days. So do many of his views on the domestic issues he ran on in 2012.
Only twice in the past 100 years has a defeated Republican presidential nominee been renominated by his party. Thomas Dewey lost in 1944, and lost again in 1948. Richard Nixon lost in 1960, but won in 1968 (and again in 1972).
In spite of his recent public visibility, there are no indications that Mitt Romney is even thinking about running again in 2016, nor under present circumstances, would he be considered a serious candidate. But in spite of the large number of major GOP candidates, the Republican field is not yet in focus for one of them to win the nomination.
Considering Mr. Romney’s stature, it is not without some curious interest to speculate, and it’s only speculation, that, in certain circumstances, he might resolve a GOP convention stalemate, or even earlier, return to the campaign field.
I’m just saying.
-Copyright (c) by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.
- Mitt Romney 25%
- Rand Paul 18%
- Chris Christie 17%
- Jeb Bush 13%
- Ted Cruz 7%
- Bobby Jindal 5%
- Someone else 4%
- None of the above 2%
- Not sure 9%
Survey of 535 likely Republican primary voters was conducted January 21-23, 2014. The margin of error is +/- 4.2 percentage points.
-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal
In the interest of equal time…
The back-and-forth carnage between Israelis and Palestinians appears to possibly be headed towards a (temporary) lull. As we reflect upon this harsh period of rockets and sorties, we cannot overlook one of Operation Pillar of Defense’s greatest bombshells: Credit where credit is due, President Obama and his administration have clearly articulated Israel’s right to self-defense and have only very tepidly urged any restraint.
This has no doubt been the most pro-Israel posture that this administration has taken during any trying period between our respective countries since Barack Obama took office. Perhaps Obama woke up after being reelected and suddenly recognized the wisdom of hawkish military operations initiated by Bibi Netanyahu, a man he implied was a liar and who subtly urged Americans to vote for Mitt Romney. But perhaps Obama’s changed attitude had –at least something- to do with American Politics 101.
Little noticed in Romney’s slaughter by minorities on November 6th was the fact that –even on a terrible night- he garnered 30% of the Jewish vote, the highest GOP share in 24 years. In the last 5 presidential elections, the GOP nominee garnered an average 18.4% of the Jewish vote.
How did Mitt Romney beat that number so significantly?
A close look reveals some crucial lessons for the GOP as it desperately attempts to gain ground among Hispanics, Asian Americans and other minorities. Jews have for long been a tough nut for Republicans to crack. A very large segment of American Jews descend from immigrants who arrived to major urban centers during the World War Two era, who saw FDR and labor unions as sacred cows to be idolized from generation to generation. Outside staunchly Orthodox circles, Jews’ outlook on life tends to lean to the left as well.
At the same time, Jews have shown a little-known openness to voting Republican in the mid-to-late 20th century. Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon in 1972, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush in 1988, all earned over 30% of the Jewish vote – but it was downhill from there. Bush 41’s share of the Jewish vote slid from 32% in 1988 to 11% in 1992 and the GOP never quite recovered from that until this year.
Yes, even George W. Bush, minority friendly and regarded by many Jews as the most pro-Israel president of their lifetime, could not get more than 24% of the Jewish vote against John Kerry in 2004. John McCain, another hawkish pro-Israel stalwart, could not get more than 22% against Barack Obama, a man with links to Palestinian sympathizers and notorious anti-Semites.
These numbers suggest that Bush 41 did heavy residual damage to the GOP brand. It is fair to say that the primary factors in this are Bush’s perceived weak support for Israel, and particularly his outspoken cool-to-Israel underlings such as Chief of Staff John Sununu and Secretary of State James Baker. Most importantly, you cannot underestimate the damage that Baker’s infamous comment, “(Expletive) the Jews; they don’t vote for us anyway,” and Pat Buchanan’s 1992 “culture war” convention speech inflicted on the GOP image among Jews.
The Republicans and their Jewish allies have been playing catch-up ever since and it appears to have taken over a generation to have finally been corrected. (Jews remain overwhelmingly Democratic, but a much larger segment of them are at least open to voting for either party.) It took extensive grassroots outreach by Jewish Republicans, a staunchly pro-Israel Republican president for two terms and a Democratic president whose first term was more hostile to Israel and its leaders than any administration in memory for that to occur.
Additionally, it took a GOP ticket comprised of a northeastern Ivy League educated businessman from a historically persecuted religious minority and a soft spoken young Catholic from Wisconsin to finally make the sale. Fair or not, Sarah Palin hurt McCain’s prospects among Jews and polls showed, for instance, that Newt Gingrich fared worse than Romney among Jews despite his unflinching pro-Israel record. The ability to culturally relate to a candidate matters.
It takes a scenario as peculiar as Election 2000, when the fate of the presidency rested upon a sliver of Floridian votes, to have a swing among the Jewish vote decide a presidential election. However, even relatively mild swings among Hispanics can have an outsized influence on national elections, and Republicans would be wise to learn from their journey with the Jews to woo more of this demographic into their camp.
Like Jews, Hispanics have always voted solidly Democratic –even, as conservatives like to note, when pro-amnesty Ronald Reagan was the GOP nominee- but the GOP trajectory among the group was likewise headed upwards not all that long ago. Elections 2008 and 2012 saw the trajectory turn sharply downward, with a historic near-lethal resistance to national GOP candidates. No doubt, fierce GOP opposition to immigration reform in 2007, Arizona’s immigration law, and Romney’s heated anti-immigration stand during the primary scared off potential Hispanic GOP voters.
As Republicans scramble to win Hispanic support, they must bear in mind that it won’t be simple –or quick. Changing policy and tone regarding immigration will merely stop the damage. It can easily take a decade or more to go from Romney’s 27% of the Hispanic vote to the 40% or so earned by George W. Bush, and even longer to potentially gain parity. It will take years of aggressive community outreach and a series of culturally relatable GOP candidates –Hispanic or otherwise- to make significant inroads.
At the same time, Republicans can take heart that –like the Jews- Hispanics have historically shown a far greater openness to voting Republican than, say, African-Americans have. These voters are there for the taking. Even if Republicans will see little or no progress among Hispanics during the initial post-2012 cycles, they should not despair. Patience and perseverance will ultimately win the day.
For their part, Hispanic voters would be wise to listen to Obama’s new found courage on behalf of Israel and recognize the enviable clout they can gain if they show even a modest level of flexibility between the two major political parties.
-Simon Blum is a freelance writer and journalist specializing in political analysis and communication. You can follow Simon on Twitter @sbpundit.
Gov. Christie discussed Romney’s controversial statements on Morning Joe:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said Friday that he agreed that former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s recent comment on a conference call with donors that President Barack Obama won reelection because of “gifts” to minority and young voters was wrong.
Christie was asked if he concurred with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who called Romney’s remark “wrong.”
“Yeah, sure,” he said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” and then pivoted to discuss his fellow Republican governors.
Pressed on the remark, he said, “You can’t expect to be a leader of all the people and be divisive. You have to talk about themes, policies that unite people, and play to their aspirations and their goals and their hopes for their family and their neighbors.”
When asked if it was time for Romney to move on, he said, “That’s up to him. Listen, Mitt Romney is a friend of mine. I understand he is very upset about having lost the election and very disappointed,” adding that he’s a “good man.”
“Do I wish he hadn’t said those things? Of course. But on the other hand, I’m not going to bury the guy for it,” said Christie.
Full story here.
Politico has the story:
“No, I think that’s absolutely wrong,” he said at a press conference that opened the RGA’s post-election meeting here. “Two points on that: One, we have got to stop dividing the American voters. We need to go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent. We need to go after every single vote.
“And, secondly, we need to continue to show how our policies help every voter out there achieve the American Dream, which is to be in the middle class, which is to be able to give their children an opportunity to be able to get a great education. … So, I absolutely reject that notion, that description. I think that’s absolutely wrong.”
He reiterated the points for emphasis.
“I don’t think that represents where we are as a party and where we’re going as a party,” he said. “That has got to be one of the most fundamental takeaways from this election: If we’re going to continue to be a competitive party and win elections on the national stage and continue to fight for our conservative principles, we need two messages to get out loudly and clearly: One, we are fighting for 100 percent of the votes, and secondly, our policies benefit every American who wants to pursue the American dream. Period. No exceptions.”
Then, without prompting, Jindal circled back to the topic as the press conference wrapped up.
Considered a likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, he blamed Romney’s defeat last week on his failure to outline a vision for where he wanted to take the country.
“Gov. Romney’s an honorable person that needs to be thanked for his many years of public service, but his campaign was largely about his biography and his experience,” he said. “And it’s a very impressive biography and very impressive set of experiences. But time and time again, biography and experience is not enough to win an election. You have to have a vision. You have to connect your policies to the aspirations of the American people. I don’t think the campaign did that, and as a result this became a contest between personalities. And you know what? Chicago won that.”
Be sure to read the full story here.
Hat-tip: The Argo Journal
In a conference call with campaign donors, Romney states his belief that government benefits to minorities and young voters propelled Obama to victory:
Mitt Romney told his top donors Wednesday that his loss to President Obama was a disappointing result that neither he nor his top aides had expected, but said he believed his team ran a “superb” campaign with “no drama,” and attributed his rival’s victory to “the gifts” the administration had given to blacks, Hispanics and young voters during Obama’s first term.
Obama, Romney argued, had been “very generous” to blacks, Hispanics and young voters. He cited as motivating factors to young voters the administration’s plan for partial forgiveness of college loan interest and the extension of health coverage for students on their parents’ insurance plans well into their 20s. Free contraception coverage under Obama’s healthcare plan, he added, gave an extra incentive to college-age women to back the president.
Romney argued that Obama’s healthcare plan’s promise of coverage “in perpetuity” was “highly motivational” to those voters making $25,000 to $35,000 who might not have been covered, as well as to African American and Hispanic voters. Pivoting to immigration, Romney said the Obama campaign’s efforts to paint him as “anti-immigrant” had been effective and that the administration’s promise to offer what he called “amnesty” to the children of illegal immigrants had helped turn out Hispanic voters in record numbers.
“The president’s campaign,” he said, “focused on giving targeted groups a big gift — so he made a big effort on small things. Those small things, by the way, add up to trillions of dollars.”
The Wednesday donor call was organized by Romney’s finance team and included a final rundown of fundraising efforts as well as an analysis by Romney pollster Neil Newhouse, who has been criticized by some Republicans for misleading the candidate about his chances.
Full story here.
Hat-tip: The Argo Journal
A lot of pundits in the past several days have eagerly taken to lambasting Mitt Romney as a candidate and an individual, picking apart his every mistake, and moaning about how we could have done so much better with a candidate other than Romney. While, to an extent, this is a natural reaction, especially for Republican voters sorely disappointed at the prospect of four more years of Obama, I submit that Mitt Romney performed valiantly, and that there was little he could have done to change the outcome last Tuesday. In this post, I am not arguing that we should not use this opportunity to reflect upon how we as a party can improve ourselves and learn from our mistakes–merely that we must pause for a moment and say a “thank you” to a man and his family who devoted more than half a decade to attempting to spare America from a disastrous Obama presidency.
IF NOT ROMNEY, THEN WHO?
For all of Mitt Romney’s imperfections, his candidacy made a lot of good sense. No one seriously believes that Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, or Rick Perry would have done any better than Romney this week. I’m not even sure that my horses, Gary Johnson (before he jumped ship to the Libertarian Party) and Ron Paul, would have done any better. I believe Johnson and Paul’s platforms would have had a wider appeal, but they both suffered from an awkwardness and lack of oratory polish that would have made them painful to watch in the one-on-one debates. (Perhaps Sen. Rand Paul can combine the widely appealing platform with a more refined presentation in 2016.) We can speculate about whether Mike Huckabee or Mitch Daniels or Chris Christie would have improved upon Romney’s performance, but the fact is that they chose to sit this one out, and that lack of fire-in-the-belly would have certainly manifested itself in the final, crucial, grueling leg of the campaign season.
Mitt Romney had everything any smart pundit would have said the Republican nominee needed in 2012. An executive whose career history was tailor-made to advancing the argument that the GOP is the party that knows how to create jobs; a Governor of a blue state, who proved he can work with both parties; a man with a closet surprisingly empty of skeletons; a guy who chose to focus his message on the economy and job creation, and not get bogged down in losing issues like social conservatism or prolonging the wars in Iraq/Afghanistan. How many potential nominees could have checked off all of those boxes?
ROMNEY PERFORMED VALIANTLY
Taking down an incumbent politician is challenging. Having the unenviable task of running against the first black President in American history, and doing so in a respectful, professional, and yet competitive way is altogether daunting. Simply the emotional/historical nature of Obama’s presidency is enough to have scared away any Republican with the slightest hint of a yellow streak.
Despite this challenge, Mitt Romney managed to never make any major, singular gaffes that defined his campaign. Perhaps a few, tiny slip-ups here and there, but most other candidates under that kind of pressure would undoubtedly have imploded in some way that would be memorable for generations (think Obama’s “you didn’t build that” comment). In fact, to the contrary, Romney managed to deliver one of the best debate performances in a generation–a debate performance so spectacular that it broke several polling records. Moreover, what better Vice Presidential pick could Romney have made than Paul Ryan? Which of the other candidates could have been trusted to make such a wise decision? Another candidate may have flailed out with some sensationalist VP pick like David Petraeus (imagine how that might have turned out, knowing what we know now) or some other inexperienced/underqualified running mate picked perhaps for their skin color or gender rather than their résumé or character.
FOUR UNCONTROLLABLE FACTORS
Yet, even with such a well-oiled and thoughtfully-planned campaign, there were four key factors that undercut Romney’s campaign just enough to result, I believe, in the loss we suffered on Tuesday. All four factors were entirely out of Romney’s control, and while he did as good a job as anyone could do in coping with these challenges, it was just bad luck on his part.
The first was Candy Crowley’s disdainful intervention into the second presidential debate, when she interrupted the discussion to state that Obama had indeed acknowledged the 9/11/12 Benghazi incident was a “terrorist attack” immediately on 9/12. This, of course, was deeply questionable, as Obama did not seem to refer to the Benghazi incident directly as a “terrorist attack” and the administration irrefutably spent weeks afterward calling the attack a spontaneous riot caused by a YouTube video. Romney had been clearly winning the debate up until that point, and when it came, Romney looked–justifiably–like a deer in the headlights. He knew he was right, but with the moderator inserting herself in such an unprecedented and irresponsible fashion, and without the transcript of Obama’s Rose Garden speech directly in front of him to prove his point, he was forced to back down. That was just terrible optics for the Romney campaign, and that contributed hugely to the stunting of Romney’s momentum. Crowley ought to issue a formal apology for that travesty of a debate.
The second was the implosion of multiple half-witted Republican candidates around the country, most notably Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock. These few social conservative hardliners singlehandedly changed the entire campaign narrative from Obama’s terrible handling of the economy (and deadly negligence in Libya) into a referendum on “women” and “abortion rights”. Romney did the best he could have done with this debacle. Denouncing Akin’s remarks in no uncertain terms and calling for his withdrawal from the Senate race was the right thing to do, and had Akin merely swallowed his pride and read the handwriting on the wall, the issue may have never snowballed the way it did, Romney’s economic narrative might have won the day, and we might have successfully retired Claire McCaskill and Barack Obama.
The third was, obviously, Superstorm Sandy. I’m not entirely angry at Gov. Christie for attempting to put aside partisan politics and work with the president during this crisis, but it certainly made Obama look good, and that couldn’t be helped by the Romney campaign. Romney did his best to look presidential during the crises of 2012. Remember when Romney rushed off to visit Hurricane Isaac-ravaged Louisiana, while President Obama had not even thought to schedule a tour of the storm-hit areas? Romney’s concerted efforts to use his campaign apparatus as a tool to help raise funds and provide support for the victims of Superstorm Sandy were admirable as well, and it was the best thing Romney could have possibly done, under the circumstances.
The fourth and most damaging was the terribly poorly constructed GOTV machinery handed to the Romney campaign by the GOP. While the Democrats smartly built up two national volunteer networks–one for local races and one for Obama’s campaign–the RNC tried to run the presidential campaign out of the same offices they were running the congressional and gubernatorial races out of. There were no dedicated offices focusing solely on the Romney campaign, like there were for Obama. Layered upon an unfortunate crash in the volunteer software on election day, which left many volunteers and poll-watchers stranded without materials or instructions, who knows how many thousands of votes were lost by sheer incompetence and unpreparedness on the part of the national Republican organization?
If just one or two of these factors had gone the other way–if the weather had behaved a little differently, or a certain moderator had simply made the decision not to open her mouth, or a certain Senate candidate had gracefully bowed out–enough votes may have been spared in the hotly contested Battleground States so that Mitt Romney would at this moment be President-Elect. Unfortunately, Romney was dealt a terrible hand in the last few weeks of the election season. Romney played his hand brilliantly, all things considered. The President simply got lucky.
NOW IS A TIME FOR RESPECT
Mitt Romney is an extraordinarily decent man who full-heartedly sought to better his country, and waged one hell of a fine campaign. He and his wife and children gave up more than five years of their life to work for their country and their principles, and we all owe them a great debt of thanks.
We will have plenty of time to examine what went wrong in 2012 and plan to not make the same mistakes in 2016. In the meantime, let’s have a little respect for our party’s nominee and show a bit of gratitude for all the hard work he did on our behalf. I hope this is not the last we see of Mitt Romney, and I don’t believe it will be. Romney’s accumulated wisdom will be a source of great wealth to the party in the future (as Barry Goldwater, after his 1964 loss), and the next Republican president would be well-advised to include Gov. Romney in their Cabinet.
Mitt Romney is a fundamentally decent man with conservative instincts. I think that he could have been a good president, had he been given the chance. But his temperament simply did not match the times.
Mitt Romney lost because the electorate did not trust that he actually understood their problems. He bested the president in the exit polls on questions about the economy, the deficit, managerial competence — yes — data points on a sheet of paper. Nobody in the world believes that Mitt Romney doesn’t understand business.
But ultimately, he’s all business.
Consider his willingness to play ball with a man like Donald Trump, for instance. Donald Trump is a notorious self-promoter, a media tycoon whose claim to fame in the 2012 cycle was his bombastic insistence that President Obama isn’t a citizen of the United States. Mitt Romney not only staged a spectacle of an endorsement by this man — but he actually went above and beyond, sponsoring a contest in which a donor could have dinner with the two of them!
In the conservative media bubble, we often brush these things off — Oh, Romney’s doing what he has to do, kissing the right asses, covering the right bases. But consider what something like that means to the broader electorate. The election’s over, so we don’t have to finesse anything, right? — Donald Trump is a buffoon. He is a clownish, self-promoting ass who likely uses hundred-dollar-bills as toilet paper. And here was the future president of the United States, wining and dining this guy, this graceless ape of a man whose public political persona consisted of questioning the president’s very citizenship. Donald Trump, this shameless, race-baiting, conspiracy-mongering clown — and the future president of the United States was at his beck and call, lining up his endorsement, kissing his ring.
Are we supposed to believe that these things don’t matter?
In business, you most definitely can succeed while playing ball with the crazies. The CEO’s playbook is one of being all things to all people — making sure everybody’s happy, all the way up the chain. But the president is supposed to be a larger-than-life figure. He’s supposed to rise above the absurdities and injustices of everyday life to represent something grand. So when the future president of the United States can’t stand up to the Donald Trumps of the world — or those who call for “self-deportation,” or those who call for using the Constitution as a political weapon against minority groups – it says something to people. And it creates a barrier of trust that prevents people from even beginning to examine extremely important conservative ideas about pressing issues. Entitlement reform, tax reform, restructuring the bureaucracy, shaking up education policy — all of these are ideas that Romney discussed in his campaign book, and which doubtless he would have liked to pursue had he been given the opportunity. But he won’t have that opportunity, because he engaged in a cover-your-bases strategy that forced him to suppress those ideas.
Mitt Romney gambled his life’s dream on translating his businessman’s instincts to presidential politics. But successful presidential candidates don’t analyze problems like data points on sheets of paper, and they don’t court people in the same way that they would in a business venture. Successful presidential candidates speak to people’s lived experiences — their dreams, their aspirations, their visions. They speak to the country as a whole — they see not only where the country is, but where the country is going. They refuse to play ball with the crazies. They have the ability to, somehow, rise above it all, and look like a leader. Successful presidential candidates present a shared vision for the future and persuade people to come in line behind them.
What conservatives need right now is leadership and vision — someone to to push out the clowns from the rodeo, modernize the party, and pull us into the 21st century.
Who’s it gonna be?
This is a very interesting discussion that sheds light on how Team Obama developed a strategy from very early on in the campaign regarding how to defeat Mitt Romney:
Watch How They Did It: Political Tactics That Helped Obama Win on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.
It’s a beautiful November day in Madison, Wisconsin. Just right for a massive political rally. And so Barack Obama came to town along with Bruce Springsteen. A crowd of 18,000 showed up.
Impressive, no? Until you consider that for a comparable event back in 2004, John Kerry and Bruce Springsteen drew a crowd of 80 thousand or more to the same venue. That is more than FOUR TIMES larger than Obama’s showing today.
Don’t get me wrong. 18K is nothing to sneeze at. But Wisconsin has long been considered a solid blue state. For attendance to drop 78% between these two rallies only reinforces the notion of Obama being a fading rock star trying to eke out one last tour. There is a reason it’s been referred to as the “Spinal Tap Campaign” more than once.
Oh, but Obama’s already been in Wisconsin, right? His supporters are just suffering from “campaign fatigue”, right? Then why isn’t the same thing happening to Mitt Romney?
Mitt had a massive rally at Red Rocks near Denver a couple of weeks ago. The venue maxed out at 10K. He pulled in 17K in Denver just last Saturday. His Denver venue nearly doubled attendance in two weeks. Both venues had thousands of people in overflow. Many thousands more were turned away. The same thing with his 30K+ in Pennsylvania last night. Thousands were turned away, or stood outside the venue listening to the rally.
Obama, by contrast, had overflow space reserved but not used.
I am as excited about the next two days as any of you, but let’s not forget in the hectic lead up to such a crucial election what’s really important. Consider this image:
Eric Draper photo: Gov with his grandson Parker. twitter.com/dgjackson/stat…
— Mitt’s Body Man (@dgjackson) November 4, 2012
When I saw it, I couldn’t help but think of one of my favorite songs. Louis Armstrong did the original. Here is Rowlf the Dog’s cover of it:
We truly do live in a wonderful world and a wonderful country, and we support a wonderful man.
Exclusive: Christie was Mitt’s first choice for VP
One of the most tantalizing subplots of the 2012 campaign has been the curious and sometimes controversial performances of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Now, campaign insiders tell POLITICO that Christie was Mitt Romney’s first choice for the Republican ticket, lending an intriguing new context to the continuing drama around the Garden State governor.
The strong internal push for Christie, and Romney’s initial instinct to pick him as his running mate, reflects how conflicted the nominee remained about choosing a running mate until the very end of the process. At least on the surface, Christie and Paul Ryan are about as opposite as two Republicans could be: a brash outsider from the Northeast versus a bookish insider from the heartland.
And yet Romney switched from Christie to Ryan in a span of about two weeks, according to a detailed inside account provided to POLITICO.
Well, maybe. These “insider” stories need to be taken with a grain of salt. Not one source in the article is named. It could very well be true. It could also be true that Mitt seriously considered a number of candidates; each one in their turn being his “favorite”. He gives them all a fair shot that way. That is in line with what we know about Mitt and his decision making process. He likes to thoroughly investigate all the possibilities without prejudice.
The bottom-line is his final choice was Paul Ryan.
GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has landed an endorsement from Green Bay Packers legend Bart Starr.
Bart is also a former Packers head coach. As a player, he led his team to two Super Bowl championships: Super Bowl I in 1967 and Super Bowl II in 1968.
This should shake things up a bit in Wisconsin. Or is Starr now ancient history in the Badger State?
Christopher Hennessey, a gay writer over at the Huffington Post, has penned a piece slamming Republicans who are supporters of same-sex marriage, yet support the Romney-Ryan ticket:
If I hear one more person explain how, even though they believe in gay rights, they’re voting for Romney, I’m going to lose my mind. We need to find ways to reach these people who say they love us and call us friends.
Below I share the most salient moment from each post. The first is from Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning playwright Doug Wright, who said:
I wish my moderate Republican friends would simply be honest. They all say they’re voting for Romney because of his economic policies (tenuous and ill-formed as they are), and that they disagree with him on gay rights. Fine. Then look me in the eye, speak with a level clear voice, and say, “My taxes and take-home pay mean more than your fundamental civil rights, the sanctity of your marriage, your right to visit an ailing spouse in the hospital, your dignity as a citizen of this country, your healthcare, your right to inherit, the mental welfare and emotional well-being of your youth, and your very personhood.” It’s like voting for George Wallace during the Civil Rights movements, and apologizing for his racism. You’re still complicit. You’re still perpetuating anti-gay legislation and cultural homophobia. You don’t get to walk away clean, because you say you ‘disagree’ with your candidate on these issues.
The moment I read this I felt that it encapsulated feelings and ideas I’d been stewing in for weeks. “Yes!” I shouted at my computer screen. “I want you to face me! Tell me these are your priorities!” Can you imagine the cathartic moment? But more importantly, think about all the people who might not vote for Gov. Romney if they knew they had to look their gay and lesbians loved ones in the eyes after they did so.
Mr. Hennessey explicitly directs his post toward friends and family members of gays and lesbians, blithely assuming that no gay person could possibly have any interest in voting for Mitt Romney. Yet, here I am — I exist! — a gay man who is voting — well, voted early — for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, despite my support for same-sex marriage. Why?
Well, let’s begin at the beginning: Marriage is not a “fundamental” civil right, and the comparison between George Wallace and Mitt Romney is demagogic and outrageous. The sleight-of-hand trick is this: Gay activists have adopted marriage as a proxy war for the public acceptance of homosexuality, thus inappropriately smuggling what should properly be a cultural issue into the realm of electoral politics. Obviously, as a gay man, I believe that homosexuality should be publicly accepted — yet, I really do not think that electoral politics is the appropriate arena in which to conduct this argument. Astute Republican professionals have long recognized that same-sex marriage is inevitable and that, at this point, it is largely a matter of waiting for demographic shifts to take place. Can anyone recall any Romney-Ryan ad campaigns slamming the president’s support for same-sex marriage? Of course not — they don’t exist. Mitt Romney is a traditional man and opposes same-sex marriage, yet, he is not a fool: he understands that this is not a winning issue, and that embarking on a lost-cause crusade against same-sex marriage is not a particularly important issue during a time when we face a $16 trillion (and growing) public debt, the economy is stagnating for the middle-class, and a narrative is being written about American decline.
As a gay man, I’d like to call for a moratorium on comparisons between the fight for same-sex marriage and the Civil Rights Movement — are gay teenagers being forcibly segregated from their peers? Are gays and lesbians made to drink from separate water fountains? Are gay protesters being hosed by the police, or having dogs unleashed onto them? This is an utter farce. Liberals have a visceral urge to be “part of history,” so they cook up these phony narratives so they can feel like they’re “part of something.” I voted for same-sex marriage on my ballot here in Maryland, and I hope that I’m fortunate enough to meet a man worth marrying, one day — yet, as a rational human being with a functioning brain, I find that cannot bring myself to engage in the kind of self-congratulation that is required to compare what I’m facing to what black people dealt with in the South during the era of segregation.
The fixation on same-sex marriage as a political issue, though, reveals a classic left-wing blind-spot. Over the past decade, public opinion has dramatically moved in favor of gay people and same-sex marriage — yet, which politician has taken the lead on this issue? Barack Obama has been utterly useless; he was officially opposed to it until he needed to whip up support among his gay supporters during this campaign season. No, the politicians have all but been silent. The prime movers here have been found in the culture. In 2004, when I was first beginning to recognize that I was gay, I faced a culture that, in my young eyes, seemed disapproving and wary. Here, just a decade later, the love that dare not speak its name has transformed into the love that won’t shut the hell up! From Lady Gaga to Glee, there has been an explosion of public support for gays and lesbians, especially in the youth culture. It is perplexing beyond belief to me that so many left-wing gay activists spend less time celebrating these gains than slavishly devoting themselves to the drudgery of politics. Politics is slow and messy — but when it comes to the social issues, the politics invariably responds to the culture. Again: If anyone can show me the Romney-Ryan ad campaign or stump speech slamming the president’s support for same-sex marriage, I’d love to take a look at it. But no politician produced this sort of climate. Instead, it is the culture. Ironically, given their dominance in music, movies, and television, liberals tend to lack an appreciation for the role of culture in shaping society, instead pouring their devotion into political crusades. How can it be that a pro-same-sex-marriage celebrity can look into the camera and tell average people that the most important work that they can do on behalf of gay marriage is to vote for Barack Obama? These people are oblivious to their own influence. Left-wing obliviousness to culture — and my own classical conservative appreciation for its role — goes a long way in explaining the gulf between us on this issue.
Yet, given all that we face as a nation, what can explain the manic obsession with this issue? I look at my own lived experiences, for answers. I was obsessed with my sexuality when I was younger. As a gay man, I’ve had to devote an inordinate amount of time thinking about what straight people take for granted. Yet, the reason that I was so fixated on it was so that one day I wouldn’t have to be so fixated on it. Once I’d figured it out, I could stop obsessing over it. Thinking about the basics of one’s identity is like a ladder: You climb it so you can get to where you want to go — and then you leave the ladder behind. When I was 18, I wanted a gay roommate in college, I went to gay clubs, I had a GLBT button on my messenger bag (which is pretty gay in itself, no?), I posted on gay forums, I made sure that I met all the gay people that I could. Now, at 22 — Enough! Obsessing about my homosexuality is a relic of my younger years. As it is for heterosexuals, my sexual orientation is background noise in my mind at this point. Hence, when I walk into the voting booth, I’m doing it as a citizen, not as a homosexual. My homosexuality is a part of my identity, yes — but I’m also someone who holds a share of the public debt, a student, a worker, a patriot who values American global leadership, a taxpayer. (My gosh! — It’s almost as if there were more to me than my homosexuality!) It seems to me that these activists are locked in an adolescent mindset.
I voted for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in the hopes that they might address entitlement reform, tax reform, and deficit-reduction. They may or may not succeed; what we know for sure is that Barack Obama is indifferent toward or incapable of addressing these issues. As an American citizen, I believe that these are among the most pressing issues of our time. Yet, I am supposed to cast aside these priorities of mine because the president personally supports — finally, in the heat of a campaign! — same-sex marriage? I am supposed to forget about everything but my sexual orientation when I enter the voting booth? And this is supposed to be…liberating? If same-sex marriage is legitimately the most important issue of our time, then let’s hear the case for it — but for God’s sake, with so much potentially at stake, with a debt crisis looming, with our international stature in decline, with the economy stagnating — don’t give me this patronizing nonsense about my homosexuality being the be-all and end-all of my “dignity as a citizen of this country.“
- The radicalism of Barack Obama (abortion): … [M]ake no mistake, Barack Obama is radically pro-abortion. He was willing to shut down the government to keep funding Planned Parenthood (the nation’s largest abortion provider), he imposed a contraceptive/abortifacient mandate even on religious employers, he voted against the born-alive infant protection act, and his party’s platform demands direct taxpayer funding for abortion. I’m aware of no legal limit on abortion that Barack Obama supports. How can a Christian vote for such a man?
- The radicalism of Barack Obama (religious liberty): … Simply put, if the HHS regulations stand, the entire concept of religious liberty as a foundational American liberty is upended.
- The values of Mitt Romney: … Mitt is a good man, and he’s a humble man. Mitt Romney became first acceptable, then — ultimately — admirable.
- The Paul Ryan pick: … In one stroke, Mitt told economic conservatives he was serious about the budget and values voters that he was serious about life.
- The vicious opposition: As the Left bared its claws and tore into Mitt — including his stay-at-home wife, his squeaky clean image, and his “1950s” values — many evangelicals felt their values were being mocked (again). … Mormon Mitt Romney became “one of us” because the media made him one of us.
That would be the height of delicious irony if the Mormon candidate, whom so many people claimed would never be able to rally the evangelicals to him, were to pull the biggest evangelical vote of any president in history.
Mr. French also references yesterday’s Henninger article in the Wall Street Journal:
Romney’s Secret Voting Bloc
Mitt Romney’s margin of victory in Ohio could be evangelical Christians.
You’ve heard about Mitt Romney’s problems with the women’s vote, the black vote, the Hispanic vote, the union vote and the young Democrats vote. But there’s one major voting group that’s fallen off the map since the primaries.
The evangelical vote.
When Mitt Romney’s 2012 candidacy was gaining traction in the primaries, the conventional wisdom instantly conveyed that the evangelical vote, skeptical of Mormonism, would sink him.
What if in Ohio next week the opposite is true? There and in other swing states—Wisconsin, Iowa, North Carolina, Florida—the evangelical vote is flying beneath the media’s radar. It’s a lot of voters not to notice. In the 2008 presidential vote, they were 30% of the vote in Ohio, 31% in Iowa and 26% in Wisconsin.
Back in April, the policy director of the Southern Baptist Convention, Richard Land, predicted that evangelicals in time would coalesce behind Mitt Romney. Yesterday he endorsed Mr. Romney, the first time he has done so for any presidential candidate.
We are definitely living in some interesting times.
The Washington Post did a survey of 2008 Obama voters who are likely to vote this year. They came up with the following data:
- Voting Obama: 84%
- Voting Romney: 13%
- Undecided: 3%
*Note: These are 2008 Obama voters. They do not include voters joining the voter pool since the last presidential election.
Obama got 52.9% of the vote last time. Doing some simple math shows the following:
Assuming a best case scenario for Obama where all undecideds come home to the president, that still leaves him four ppts short of a majority. Worst case where they all go to Romney leaves him nearly six ppts down. This means he has to pick up enough new voters, unlikely votersand McCain defectors to make up the difference.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but haven’t the statistics been showing that the Republicans have the edge in new voter registrations in most districts? So I don’t see much relief for the president coming from that quarter. Nor do I see much help coming from McCain defectors. I am sure there are some, but certainly not enough in numbers to make much difference for the president.
That leaves getting the unlikely voters to the polls for Obama. That is going to prove problematic since Democrat enthusiasm is way down this year, especially compared to the Republican side.
Obama definitely has his work cut out for him if he expects to win reelection.
Here is a graphic provided by the WaPo showing how the demographics for his 2008 voters break down:
A look at the Romney campaign’s confirmed events over the next four days is quite telling about where the state of this race sits. First, the schedule:
- 10/31 – Florida (Tampa), Florida (Coral Gables), Florida (Jacksonville)
- 11/1 – Virginia (Roanoke), Virginia (Richmond), Virginia (Doswell), Virginia (VA Beach), Virginia (Strongsville), Colorado (CO Springs)
- 11/2 – Wisconsin (Milwaukee), Ohio (Etna), Ohio (West Chester)
- 11/3 – New Hampshire (Portsmouth), Colorado (Engelewood), Colorado (CO Springs)
- 10/31 – Wisconsin (Eau Claire), Wisconsin (Green Bay), Wisconsin (Racine)
- 11/1 – Colorado (Greeley), Nevada (Reno)
- 11/2 – Colorado (Montrose), Iowa (Cedar Falls), Ohio (West Chester)
- 10/31 – Ohio (Hamilton)
- 11/1 – Ohio (Columbus), Ohio (Heath), Ohio (Strongsville)
- 11/3 – Colorado (Englewood), Colorado (CO Springs)
Notice what Romney is doing: today, he sews up Florida. Tomorrow, he sews up Virginia. Then after that, no stops in either state for the rest of the campaign. Interestingly enough, President Obama has no stops planned in either state at this point as well. So it may be safe to say that today and tomorrow are the finishing touches for Romney to secure Florida and Virginia… Romney seems to be using today and tomorrow to close out one phase of his campaign and then launch into the final, intense phase at the end. After tomorrow, it’s all WI, CO, and OH — with a couple stops in IA and NH.
It makes sense. With IN, NC, FL, and VA in the win column, Romney truly has two plausible routes to victory at this point:
That’s it, really. They are very narrow paths to victory, but either route takes him to 270. Romney’s hundred surrogates will be out storming eleven battleground states over the last four days — probably in PA, MI, MN, OR, and states like those around the periphery — but meanwhile, Romney and Ryan will be working hard on the core states necessary to win.
Obama’s campaign schedule seems to indicate that he is seeing the same map. Tomorrow, he will campaign in Wisconsin, Colorado, and Ohio. Then on Friday, he is spending all day making a tour of Ohio. Joe Biden will spend tomorrow in Iowa and Friday in Wisconsin.
The Salem Statesman-Journal has endorsed Mitt Romney:
Today the Statesman Journal Editorial Board endorses Mitt Romney for president.
We do so despite endorsing Barack Obama four years ago. On Oct. 19, 2008, we wrote: “America needs a profound leader — a leader who can rebuild our economy, regain our respect around the world and restore our faith in our future. That person is Barack Obama.”
It’s impossible to know whether anyone could have done better, but Republican Mitt Romney now deserves the opportunity to try.
It’s not exactly a full-throated endorsement (it is a liberal Oregon paper, after all), but it is an endorsement all the same.
The rest of news out of Oregon hints at a surprisingly close race. Let’s hope more and more Oregonians are thinking along the same lines as the editors at the Statesman-Journal.
J. R. Dunn discusses Mitt Romney’s campaign strategy over at American Thinker. He entitles his article, “Mitt’s Royal Slam”. You could just as easily call it, “Mitt’s Rope-a-dope”.
What’s the explanation for Mitt Romney’s unparalleled breakout? A few weeks ago, the Romney campaign was regarded as dead in the water. The polls (with the exception of Rasmussen) had the campaign uniformly down, giving Obama up to half a dozen points. Voter interest was phlegmatic at best. A combined Chicago-media offensive appeared to have put Romney on the ropes. The consensus was that Obama would cruise to another victory, one paralleling and perhaps even exceeding his triumph over John McCain four years ago.
Today, little more than an electoral-cycle heartbeat later, the situation is utterly reversed. The big mo belongs to Romney.
This remarkable turnaround is unmatched in recent American political history, and as such, it requires an explanation. Not many have been floated as of yet. The most popular so far holds that Anne and Tagg Romney, acting as Mitt’s consiglieres, pushed aside most the campaign’s professional political operatives in a successful effort to encourage “Mitt to be Mitt.”
Everyone involved denies that anything of the sort occurred, and that may well be the truth. Occam’s razor applies to politics as much as any other field, and the simplest and best explanation in this case is that no large-scale change occurred within the campaign or without — that in fact, things are unfolding pretty much as they were planned to. That it’s happening this way because it was meant to.
A pattern had already begun to emerge in the early months of the primaries. During the “anyone but Romney” phase that the GOP was going through, a new figure on a white charger was offered every couple weeks as the great hope to take down Obama the Usurper. Almost as soon as they popped up, down again they went. Presidential boots proved slightly too large for Rick Perry. Michele Bachmann was felled by a frustrating tendency for her words to outrun her thoughts, and Herman Cain by his purported eye for the ladies.
The two members of this squadron with real potential of taking the nomination were Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. Both were similar — figures who appealed to the core conservatives of the GOP by means of images that were largely synthetic. Newt Gingrich was the Cincinnatus willing to leave his beloved historical studies to save the country, while Santorum was Ozzie Nelson. As is often case, these roles were a poor fit to the actual individuals.
That was the key element where Romney was concerned. As a businessman, he’d encountered plenty of figures who were all hat and no cattle, who talked a good game but were never around when it came time to toss some change into the kitty. It was in no way difficult to recognize many of the same traits in his GOP competition. So he treated them the same way he would have treated a hustler back in his investment days. He didn’t fight them, didn’t go blow for blow, didn’t so much as answer them back to any real extent. He let them each go through their schtick, until their essential hollowness was inescapable to all but the most hardcore true believers. He then, in the next debate, presented once again the basic Mitt Romney as the natural opposition figure. Newt and Rick both faded.
What Romney found himself facing in the presidential contest was very much the same thing — to a fault. Obama, the Illinois Redeemer, missionary from the Planet Zong, groveler to sheiks, reincarnation of FDR, and harbinger of the new age, was bogus enough to make Gingrich and Santorum look like avatars of authenticity.
Romney … essentially gave the late summer months to Obama, to the despair of the GOP, sneers from the Dems, and bewilderment from the political pros. Much as he did during the primaries, Romney let Obama take center stage, well aware that he wouldn’t accomplish anything with the time and opportunity he was being given, because he couldn’t.
Obama capered. He took the messiah routine to the point of burlesque. He turned himself into a caricature of Mr. Hope and Change, not grasping the facts that it was no longer 2008 and that no one was looking for a savior anymore. His campaign, the national left, and the kept media carried out relentless attacks on Romney, none of which ever stuck because Romney never did anything to draw attention to them.
By the time the debates rolled around, Obama had used up all his ammo and had become one of those pop items nobody wants to see any more of — last year’s hit sitcom, a burnt-out singer, an actress on her fifth or sixth breakdown. So it goes with messiahs who hang on too long.
It’s a great article. I encourage you to check it out.
President Barack Obama flew Air Force One…
“… to Florida on Sunday night to hold campaign events on Monday but canceled them and flew back to the White House on Monday morning. The only campaigning he did was to deliver pizzas to a campaign office — prompting one reporter, Bloomberg’s Hans Nichols, to tweet: “Obama’s 12 hour trip to Orlando. … Most expensive pizza delivery in history?”
Due to deteriorating weather conditions in the Washington, DC area, the President will not attend today’s campaign event in Orlando, Florida. The President will return to the White House to monitor the preparations for and early response to Hurricane Sandy.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is encouraging people to find ways to help and suggests donating to the Red Cross.
“Sandy is another devastating hurricane by all accounts, and a lot of people are going to be facing some real tough times as a result of Sandy’s fury,” he said in Avon Lake, Ohio. “And so if you have the capacity to make a donation to the American Red Cross, you can go online and do that. If there are other ways that you can help, please take advantage of them because there will be a lot of people that are going to be looking for help and the people in Ohio have big hearts, so we’re expecting you to follow through and help out.”
It’s a clean sweep. Every single major newspaper in Iowa has endorsed Mitt Romney. They are:
Latest RCP Iowa average: Obama +2.3