It might be 11 months until the first voting in the opening event of the U.S. 2016 presidential election, but there can be little doubt that the “on” button has been pressed for this highest profile quadrennial contest.
Mitt Romney’s decision not to run again has set a great deal into motion. Jeb Bush, as a result, is now the consensus “frontrunner.”
Following the recent Citizens United unofficial debate in Des Moines, we now also have the first informal “flavor of the news cycle,” Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Mr. Walker stole the show among the potential candidates (I personally thought that non-candidate New Gingrich gave the most important speech) with a shirt-sleeved talk that exceeded media expectations. The governor recently won a hard-fought re-election after initiating a series of controversial but much-applauded (by conservatives) executive actions in the Badger State. He is, of course, a very long way from the nomination (and hasn’t even formally announced), but he now clearly merits elevation to the first tier of GOP prospects, joining Jeb Bush and Chris Christie.
But he will not be the last main flavor of the news cycle in 2015. This process has a certain similarity to a team pitching rotation in major league baseball. Each starting hurler gets to pitch every four or five days. In this case, most of the serious GOP hopefuls will do something unusual to obtain media attention, and following that, they will temporarily lead in the polls. This pattern will be repeated routinely, especially after the first formal debates begin in the autumn, and subsequently after each debate — unless, of course, one frontrunning candidate catches on early and the contest becomes more or less moot.
Look for New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie already in the first tier, to become the flavor of the news cycle later, after the debates (in which he will probably shine) begin. If he decides to run, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, also an excellent speaker, could become the flavor of the news cycle after winning an early primary. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul could also reach high flavor if his supporters succeed in placing him upward in an early primary or caucus. Physician Ben Carson is already a conservative favorite, and is already showing strong numbers in early polls. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum already have been flavors of the news cycle in 2011-12, but it will be difficult for them to repeat this success in 2016 — with the public and the media clamoring, as they always do, for new faces and sensations.
Be also prepared for a surprise flavor of the news cycle after someone now not expected to run gets into the race and steals attention away, at least for a while, from the frontrunners.
Remember Herman Cain?
Copyright (c) 2015 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.
This is the time of presidential trial balloons. With a new president certain to be elected in 2016, hopefuls and aspirants in both major parties are testing the waters, rounding up staff members, and appealing to major donors. It is an old ritual with contemporary procedures and techniques. It is big-time American politics on a grand scale.
The establishments of both parties have a tendency to try to control this process. In the case of the Democrats, they have a frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, who is way out in front, with no one yet in sight who can wrest the nomination from her. She leads in all polls, not only against potential Democratic rivals, but also against every Republican opponent. The Democratic establishment therefore would like to end this contest early, and prepare for the general election. When Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren began making competitive waves from Mrs. Clinton’s left, the liberal establishment got nervous, and started trying to warn Mrs. Warren off the contest. Their nervousness was increased by the fact that Mrs. Clinton’s initial campaign roll-out has been notably less than successful. There are several other Democratic wannabes, including Vice President Joe Biden, former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, former Virginia Senator James Webb and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Should Mrs. Clinton falter or pull out, other big names in the party could enter, including notably New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
On the Republican side, there is no true frontrunner, but there is an establishment favorite, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Another major candidate would be New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Also potentially serious candidates include Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Ohio Governor John Kasich, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Less serious, there are a number of hopefuls who might take a crack at the nomination. (Abraham Lincoln was at the bottom of the list of nine GOP candidates as late as February, 1860, and look what happened only six months later when he won his nomination.)
Then there is Mitt Romney. In 2008, he was runner-up to John McCain in the GOP nominating contest, and in 2012, he was the Republican presidential nominee. He lost to Barack Obama that year by a relatively small margin, but as it turns out, most of what he said on the campaign turned out be right, or rather more right, than what Mr. Obama said. Nevertheless, the GOP establishment does not want Mitt Romney to run in 2016, and are saying so out loud.
It so happens I agree with those who say Mitt Romney is not likely to be the best Republican nominee in 2016, but I do disagree that he should be told not to run. I don’t agree with much that Elizabeth Warren has been saying, but I also don’t think she should be told not to run.
After all, it’s a free country, isn’t it?
Some folks in both parties fear open contests with many candidates. Republicans particularly point to the large field and numerous debates in 2012 as having hurt their ticket in November. I disagree with that strongly. There were perhaps too many debates (27), but the process, in my opinion, made Mr. Romney a better and stronger candidate. Newt Gingrich, for example, was by far the best debater in 2012; Mr. Romney held his own in the debates, but he had to face someone who was formidable early in the process. Romney did not lose because of the number of GOP rivals he had or the debates. He lost because of the successful (and unanswered) personal attacks on him made by the Democrats early and often, and because the Democrats had a much superior get-out-the-vote effort. (That the GOP did not have a better one, truth be told, was Mr. Romney’s responsibility.)
The nation and its political process is best served, as I see it, by open and competitive nomination contests. The number of candidates does not really matter because the process is designed to weed out those who cannot win very early.
So I say to Elizabeth Warren, Mitt Romney, and anyone else who thinks they should and can be president: Be free to run!
Copyright (c) 2015 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.
Citizens United, a conservative group based out of Washington, DC , is hosting an “Iowa Freedom Summit” in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 24, 2015. So far the list of speakers include:
Several of those names have been making 2016 Presidential noises and are looking for more exposure in the state which hosts the first Presidential contest.
I just read the following in the Business Insider:
Mitt Romney held meetings with donors in New York this week that left one attendee convinced he is running for president again in 2016.
A member of Romney’s inner circle who spoke to Business Insider said the former governor of Massachusetts traveled to New York City on Monday where he met with key financial backers of his past campaigns to lay the groundwork for a 2016 White House bid.
In addition to potential donors, the source said Romney met with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) this week.
Christie endorsed Romney during his last race. However, he is expected to mount his own White House bid in 2016.
Romney’s meetings this week are not his first efforts to reconnect with former donors and campaign staff. In October, The Washington Post reported on a “flurry of behind-the-scenes activity” that Romney’s “friends” said was leading him to “more seriously consider” running for president again. This activity included multiple meetings with donors and “supporters in key states” as well as an October dinner in Boston that Romney and his wife hosted for “former campaign advisers and business associates.”
In September, Romney’s wife, Ann, indicated Romney would be discouraged from mounting another White House bid if former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) enters the 2016 field. … Bush has said he is thinking about launching a campaign. In an October interview, Ann said Romney was “done” running for president. However, the source who spoke to Business Insider said she would be fully supportive if her husband does decide to run in 2016.
The Republican National Committee recently began an on-line straw poll asking its members which candidate they would like to see. The respondents are to circle any three. The list includes:
Write-in votes are allowed.
The results have not been published anywhere that I’ve seen, and I don’t particularly wish to sign up just so they can get my email address to spam me. However, if you are inclined to participate, here is the link.
Perhaps one of the most sobering facts about the 2012 election is the fact that Governor Romney of Massachusetts, who picked a Midwesterner as a running mate, failed to carry a single solitary state in the Northeast. President Obama swept the Northeast, mostly by very heavy margins, and racked up 109 electoral votes in the process. That is the equivalent of 2 California’s and aside from New Hampshire, there wasn’t even an effort by the RNC or the Romney campaign or frankly the state parties to put their states in the Republican column. Most Republicans write off the Northeast as hopelessly liberal and Democratic, hardly worth the fight. Best to concentrate on states like Ohio or Colorado than to make a play for Connecticut or New Jersey.
In the short span of time that a presidential campaign occupies, that makes sense. After all, a candidate or campaign has only 6-8 months after winning the nomination to assemble 270 electoral votes and win the White House. But for the Republican Party, this seems like a foolish strategy. Writing off 109 electoral votes in a presidential campaign is deleterious to the Republican Party overall, not just to a presidential campaign. An ineffective Republican Party harms candidates down the ballot as well. If we want more Republican Governors, legislators, Senators and Congressmen, we need to start making a play for the Northeast once again.
Luckily for the GOP, we already know how to do this. Before the 1950’s the South was so overwhelmingly Democratic that it won the nickname “The Solid South”. To put it in perspective, back in 1920 when Warren G. Harding beat James Cox 60%-34% in the popular vote, Cox won South Carolina with 96%, Georgia with 72%, and Louisiana with 69%. Harding became only the second Republican candidate in history to carry Tennessee, and only by 13,000 votes. The South was the electoral bedrock of the Democratic Party.
By the 1950’s, the South had begun to change and after Dwight D. Eisenhower took several Southern states in his elections, the RNC begun to think that the South was finally willing to listen to the Republican Party. The RNC set up a project called “Operation Dixie” which was to work for the long-term build-up of the Republican Party. The RNC spent resources, time and talent in Dixie to start winning in the South.
Here is where fact and myth start to grow apart. The conventional wisdom, particularly given by Democrats and liberals is that the GOP began to replace the Democratic Party as the party of Jim Crow and by using racist “code-words”, began to swing the South. While that might make the left feel all warm and fuzzy, it’s also not true. Subscribers to this theory forget that there were other developments that helped turn the South. Issues like right-to-work and the GOP’s moving towards an internationalist, anti-Communist foreign policy, along with an increasingly liberal Democratic Party on non-racial issues were very important. The most critical development though was the migration of people after WWII to the Sun Belt. Places like Texas, North Carolina, Virginia and Florida became very appealing to young families eager to get away from cold northern winters. Many of these families that came to the South were Republicans. It was this group of voters, generally middle-class suburban dwellers who were the base of the new Southern Republican Party. For instance, in my state of Florida, the first real Republican county was Pinellas where St. Petersburg is. Pinellas County became a GOP stronghold while the most Dixiecrat part of Florida, the Panhandle, stayed Democratic long into the future.
The most important part of Operation Dixie was that it took time. Launched in 1957 the year after Dwight Eisenhower took 5 Southern states, the next cycle in 1960 saw Richard Nixon only win three states. Goldwater won 5 states of the Old Confederacy in 1964 but was annihilated everywhere else. It wasn’t until 1968 when Nixon carried 5 Southern states and won the White House as well. In other words, it took 11 years before Operation Dixie saw its goal obtained.
The lesson from Operation Dixie is that with long-term investment and dedication, even a region as hostile to the GOP as the South can, eventually be brought to consider voting Republican. It is true that outside factors like those mentioned above helped the GOP, but the infrastructure and resources had to be in place to take advantage of these developments.
Honesty compels me to say that the person who got me thinking about this was Newt Gingrich. The former Speaker issued a lengthy memo to the RNC (seen here) where he suggested that the GOP start an “Operation California” to try and make the Golden State competitive once again. While certainly a good idea, I think the better use of resources could be an “Operation Yankee”. Not only does the Northeast have twice as many electoral votes as California, there are many more down-the-ballot races, such as Governorships, Senators and Congressional seats to harvest by building up the GOP.
If there is one undeniable takeaway from the disappointing 2012 election results it’s that we Republicans simply cannot write off huge portions of the country if we want to win national elections. The failure of the GOP to win a single electoral vote in the Northeast should be a red-light to the Party. We need to start winning back that section of the country if we want to really be a nationally competitive Party once again.
Newt Gingrich wrote a new op-ed at Politico on the outcome of the election. The result? Very blunt assessment. Here’s an excerpt:
We were wrong.
We were wrong about the turnout.
We were wrong about the makeup of the electorate.
We were wrong about the advertising mix and message that would work.
We were wrong about the effectiveness of President Obama’s turnout mechanism.
The simple fact is Republicans spent more and achieved less than Democrats in 2012.
This was not just a personal defeat for Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan.
We lost Senate seats we should have won in North Dakota and Montana.
We lost Senate seats we might have won in Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Virginia, New Mexico, and Massachusetts.
We had two candidates throw away Senate seats in Indiana and Missouri.
In 2010, we had three candidates throw away Senate seats in Colorado, Delaware, and Nevada. Why have the Democrats not suffered similarly from candidate missteps (as in Massachusetts)?
We had a chance to pick up four governorships. We won one (North Carolina) and lost three (Montana, New Hampshire and Washington).
We lost a handful of congressional seats but did especially badly in the West.
State legislative results are still coming in but we clearly fell from the 2010 high water mark. After the extraordinary 2010 results of 680 additional elected Republican state legislators and 25 switches, the GOP had more state legislators than any time since 1925.
This was a party-wide defeat and should be thought of as a profound wake up call.
The voting population is different than Republican models.
The turnout mechanism is different than Republican models.
Check out the whole piece.
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.
From the official release:
“Newt Gingrich has brought creativity and intellectual vitality to American political life. During the course of this campaign, Newt demonstrated both eloquence and fearlessness in advancing conservative ideas. Although he long ago created an enduring place for himself in American history, I am confident that he will continue to make important contributions to our party and to the life of the nation. Ann and I are proud to call Newt and Callista friends and we look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead as we fight to restore America’s promise.”
Well, almost, anyway. This morning, Newt 2012 released this YouTube video announcing that he… will announce the suspension of his campaign tomorrow. All indications are that he will endorse Mitt Romney tomorrow during the press conference, continuing his theme of doing everything possible to defeat Barack Obama.