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.
Texas Governor Rick Perry endorsed Mitt Romney today, ahead of Newt Gingrich dropping out of the race, which is expected to happen next week.
“Mitt Romney has earned the Republican Presidential nomination through hard-work, a strong organization, and disciplined message of restoring America after nearly four years of failed job-killing policies from President Obama and his administration,” said Perry in a statement.
“So today I join the many conservative Republicans across the nation in endorsing Mitt Romney for President and pledge to him, my constituents and the Republican Party,” Perry’s statement said.
So another former opponent who had previously endorsed Gingrich moves over to Romney.
I will always remember the 2012 Rick Perry not for his debate brain freezes (that could happen to anybody), but for his utter lack of preparation. There was little if any study of the issues done. No position papers. No advisory groups. No debate prep. No defenses prepared for his vulnerabilities. Nothing. It was almost as if he thought that all he had to do was show up, talk big in a Texas drawl, strut around in cowboy boots, slam Mitt Romney a few times, and the nomination would be his. That always struck me as a little arrogant on his part. It’s either that or stupidity, and Perry never struck me as stupid.
I do respect the fact that he continued on until his money ran out. His supporters donated x amount of money to spend on becoming the nominee, and he spent it all trying to do just that. Too often unsuccessful candidates drop out with millions of dollars left in their coffers, and they use that money to further their own interests later down the road — not for what their supporters gave them the money for in the first place. Rick didn’t do that. Even when the odds became very long for him to win, he kept at it until his funds ran out in South Carolina. I definitely respect him that.
FOX News has the story:
Newt Gingrich plans to formally leave the Republican presidential race next Tuesday, senior campaign aides told Fox News.
The former House speaker will “more than likely” endorse Mitt Romney when he makes his announcement to either suspend or end the campaign, a source said.
The decision comes after Gingrich huddled with senior advisers following the five primaries Romney swept on Tuesday night. Romney’s victories made it virtually impossible for Gingrich to secure the 1,144 delegates needed for the Republican nomination.
For several weeks, Gingrich staffers have been reviewing accounts and making preparations. Gingrich had been holding out hope for a strong performance at least in Delaware Tuesday night. Absent that, Gingrich decided to plan for his exit next week.
He will complete his North Carolina schedule this week, making it something of a goodbye tour while supporters, friends and family arrive from across the country for his departure from the race.
Read the full story here.
Newt Gingrich is hinting that today might be his last for his campaign:
Newt Gingrich suggested Monday that the end may be near for his struggling presidential campaign.
In an interview with NBC News, the former House speaker acknowledged that he would have to “reassess” his bid if he fares poorly in Tuesday’s Republican primary in Delaware, a state where he has spent considerable time campaigning.
“I think we need to take a deep look at what we are doing,” Gingrich said. “We will be in North Carolina tomorrow night and we will look and see what the results are.”
He told NBC, “I would hope we would do well here — either carry it or come very, very close.”
Gingrich has won only two states so far — South Carolina and his home state of Georgia — and his campaign is $4.3 million in debt, according to FEC filings.
A vanity run is fun, but somebody has to pay for it. He is now over four million bucks in debt, and the hole gets bigger every day he stays on the campaign.
My understanding is things back home aren’t much better. Both his non-profit and his for-profit enterprises have gone belly up. He is financially ruined.
His post-Florida kamikaze meltdown didn’t help things, either. For about two weeks the entire world watched as the guy lost it. It was almost like Newt became unhinged. It shredded his reputation.
How very sad it is.
Memories and Lessons of a Just-Completed Campaign
Now that the primary season has all but officially ended (mercifully and at last), it is time for political analysts to look back at the yearlong trek that got us Nominee Romney and see what conclusions we can draw from this prolonged fight. There are several things that led to Romney’s success this time around:
The Job Interview
At first glance, it may seem the most cogent lesson is the simplest one: the Republicans once again nominated their next-in-line candidate. Just as John McCain, Bob Dole, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Gerald Ford before him, Romney was widely perceived as “earning his turn,” so to speak. But there is something going on at a deeper level here – why (with the notable exception of George W. Bush) does the modern GOP seem to hand their nomination to the next-in-line? After all, this is a truism, a force, strong enough to revive John McCain from political death a thousand times over in 2008. And it was enough to protect Romney from one of the most anti-establishment, angry conservative electorates in recent memory. How?
It has been said that the Republicans treat their primaries much like a job interview, while Democrats treat theirs like a dating game – a comparative analogy that has some heft behind it to be sure. Democrats get excited about insurgent candidates that send thrills up their legs, whereas Republicans like to sit back and determine whether our candidates have the experience necessary for the job. Looking at the 2008 primaries in an parallel universe, then, we wouldn’t have been surprised to see a Mike Huckabee vs. Hillary Clinton general election matchup – where Huckabee had won the Democratic primary and Hillary the Republican one.
Insurgent candidates are just not built to survive modern Republican primaries. And so Romney perhaps had the huge advantage in this way from the outset: with no Huckabee and no Palin in the mix, he was the only “serious” candidate applying for this job. Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum were never going to pass the job interview process. Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry both had a chance based on the resumes they had submitted, but as soon as they were called in for a face to face interview they were both summarily dismissed from contention. And so, after inspecting each of the job applicants in turn, ultimately the Republican Party ended up calling the candidate that looked the most attractive at the beginning of the process and saying, “You’re hired.” It’s a familiar process that makes sense for the “party of business” to follow.
Continue reading for Cycling Seppuku, I Can be Your Friend, Where in the World is Romney Sandiego, and “Establishment” Support…
Former Senator Rick Santorum has bowed to reality, and withdrawn from the Republican contest for the party’s presidential nomination. This in itself is to be applauded, and the presidential campaign can now move more appropriately to its next stage.
Mr. Santorum won in eleven relatively small primaries and caucuses, all of them in the South and Midwest. He did have the second highest number of delegates to date, but he was not ever truly in a position to win the nomination. What he did win he gained through hard work, especially in Iowa, and primarily with his appeal to a particular range of social conservative voters.
Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul remain in the race, and will probably continue until Mitt Romney, now the prohibitive frontrunner, actually reaches 1144 delegates, the number necessary for his to win the nomination on the first ballot. That will probably take place some time in late May or early June.
Mr. Gingrich now rightly claims to be the last major conservative person in the race, and when the totals are made, will now probably come in second to Mr Romney. He might even win at least three remaining states, and thus qualify to be nominated at the convention in Tampa. Mr. Romney and Mr. Gingrich were the two candidates of the highest stature to actually run for president this year, so this conclusion makes sense. Furthermore, by casting himself as the true conservative remaining in the race, and by suggesting Mr. Romney is the “moderate,” I think Mr. Gingrich actually is helping his opponent by reinforcing Mr. Romney’s acceptability to independent and centrist voters (perhaps as high as one-third of all voters) in the general election against Barack Obama. That is perhaps not Mr. Gingrich’s intention at this point, but that is, I believe, the real result.
Meanwhile, Mr. Gingrich and Ron Paul, the other remaining candidate, can continue to offer their ideas for the party platform. Mr. Gingrich, as I have often pointed out, is the best Republican “idea man” of his generation, and Mr. Romney and his team would do well to welcome and incorporate the best of Mr. Gingrich’s ideas into the platform in Tampa and in their campaign.
It is true that Mitt Romney did not start out as a “movement conservative,” and came later in his political life to some of the most cherished conservative ideas, including opposition to abortion and calling for complete repeal of “Obamacare.” But it seems to me that he is now irrevocably committed to these and other conservative principles, and if elected president, would be a genuine conservative president. Whether he would be the strong “reform” president that many in the conservative base want to take office in January, 2013, will depend on how successful Republicans are in keeping control of the U.S. house and winning back control of the U.S. senate in this autumns elections.
With their presidential nomination all-but-settled, Republicans would be well-advised to turn their attention to the many close races upcoming in the congressional elections. Is 2012 to be a continuation of the conservative landslide national elections of 2010, or a return to the Democratic control of the Congress won in 2006 and 2008?
There is no question, their bravado pubic optimism notwithstanding, that serious Democratic and liberal political strategists are very worried about the autumn campaign coming. The economy remains unsettled, unemployment extraordinarily high, gasoline prices rising to politically unacceptable levels, the stock market quite volatile, and the public statements by the incumbent president increasingly out of touch with the electorate. This does not mean necessarily that the Democrats will lose in November, but it does mean that independent and centrist voters are less and less inclined to go their way in the balloting.
-Please visit Mr. Casselman’s personal site.
It is unambiguously clear to any political observer who does not have partisan preferences, and even to most who do, that the 2012 Republican contest for the party’s presidential nomination is over. Mitt Romney will be that GOP candidate against Barack Obama in November.
On Sunday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich acknowledged as much in a forthright and professional way. He also said that if, as he expected, Mr. Romney were the nominee, he would do everything he could to assist his election as president. This is what serious and mature politicians do. It is what Mr. Romney himself did, as soon as he realized he could not win the nomination in 2008, by promptly endorsing John McCain and then working hard to help Mr. McCain in his November campaign.
Rick Santorum has apparently not reached the same conclusion as Mr. Gingrich has, and continues his campaign, now risking that his hard work in Iowa and his late emergence as a contender will be forgotten, and his conduct from here on will be regarded as pathetic and a self-caricature, possibly ending in two weeks in his home state of Pennsylvania where he might well be humiliated by losing there.
Mr. Romney, for all intents and purposes, has moved on to the next level, i.e. his contest with Mr. Obama. He had planned a massive ad buy immediately in Pennsylvania, but in the face of the illness of Mr. Santorum’s daughter, he suspended these ads until the former Pennsylvania senator returns to the campaign, presumably at mid-week. He thus demonstrates a professionalism and personal stature that, alas, Mr. Santorum so far has failed to show. (This, too, will likely not be lost on Pennsylvania voters.)
Ron Paul also remains in the race. He has not won a single primary or caucus. Nontheless, he has consistently made his points about the economy, and that was his purpose. He has indicated he would not, having lost the race for the nomination, now turn and run for president as an independent. He has had foreign policy disagreements with all the other GOP candidates, but now at the end of his political career, he appears ready to bow out gracefully.
Hillary Clinton retired from the 2008 Democratic nomination contest although that race was much closer than the 2012 GOP race is now. She might have contested some of Mr. Obama’s delegates at the Democratic convention, but the resulting bitterness and acrimony would have likely doomed the Democrats’ chances in November.
Electoral politics is a profession and a business. Those who are successful in it know how it works best, and how, with room for individual personality and imagination, a politician conducts himself or herself in a manner that commands respect and admiration.
-Please visit Mr. Casselman’s personal site.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich once led his rivals for the nomination in polls. Today, he’s millions in debt and describing Mitt Romney as “far and away the most likely” GOP nominee.
Running for president “turned out to be much harder than I thought it would be,” he said Sunday.
Gingrich said he has a little less than $4.5 million in campaign debt, and he’s operating on a shoestring budget.
“I hit him as hard as I could. He hit me as hard as he could. It turned out he had more things to hit with than I did. And, that’s part of the business. He’s done the fundraising side brilliantly,” Gingrich said.
So why is this guy still in it? He cites this as the reason:
Despite Gingrich’s acknowledgment of what appears to be his inevitable defeat, the former House speaker Gingrich isn’t ready to drop out. Gingrich wants to influence the party’s platform, which is a statement of principles on the issues. He’s interested in promoting increased domestic oil production and personal Social Security savings accounts.
That’s all well and good, but sticking it out in a cause he knows he is going to lose, having to maintain the public fiction that he still has a chance, having to pile on millions into debt, and having to live the hectic unsettled life of the presidential candidate on the “rubber chicken” circuit seems an awful big price to pay just so he can ” …influence the party’s platform”.
The Republican convention in Tampa in August will not feature smoke-filled rooms and a brokered nomination for president.
The only smoke produced will come those delegates and media who enjoy cigars. Those smoke-filled rooms will be far from the convention floor. (Tampa is a center of U.S. cigar production.)
Well before Tampa, Mitt Romney and his political team will have taken complete control of the convention. My conservative tallying has Mr. Romney at a minimum of 1250 delegates at the end of the primaries, more than a hundred more than he needs for a first ballot victory. That’s a minimum. The actual number will probably be closer to 1400. Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Paul, and Mr. Santorum, if they wish, will be placed in nomination. Unless Mr. Romney’s team are complete amateurs and incompetents, they will design that first ballot to end promptly and orderly, make all the other presentations on the four-day program enhance the Romney campaign agenda and themes, and have their nominee make his acceptance speech timed precisely to be delivered at prime time.
As for speeches by Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Paul and Mr. Santorum, that should depend on how they act between now and convention time. At a minimum, they should warmly endorse Mr. Romney. As history has demonstrated, a nominee who allows a less-than-enthsuiastic former opponent to speak at the convention is courting disaster. Senator Ted Kennedy’s speech at the 1980 Democratic convention, after a bitter nominating battle between him and a renominated Jimmy Carter, overshadowed the unpopular president who then lost to Ronald Reagan that November. Incumbent President George H.W Bush let his major opponent for the GOP nomination in 1992, Pat Buchanan, make a major speech at the convention that year (the so-called “cultural war” speech). That speech is generally credited to contributing to Mr. Bush’s defeat in November by Bill Clinton because it turned off so many independent and centrist voters from the GOP candidacy.
(SIDE NOTE: I was present on the floor of that 1992 convention when Mr. Buchanan made that speech (having just obtained a one-hour floor press pass), and distinctly remember how inflammatory it was. I had met President Bush’s son George W. Bush five years before, and saw him on the convention floor, trouble-shooting for his father, while Buchanan was speaking, and distinctly remember him telling me how upset he was at Buchanan’s remarks.)
While Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Paul have already muted their criticism of Mr. Romney, and appear to have accepted the likelihood of his nomination, Mr Santorum has not done so. It’s a free country, and Mr Santorum has the right to make a complete political ass of himself, something at which he seems quite successful. Unless Mr. Romney and his convention team are suicidal, they won’t let the former Pennsylvania senator near the podium in Tampa. (They could send him to a smoke-filled cigar store in Tampa to huff and puff the local wares.)
As President Obama and his convention team will almost certainly demonstrate in Charlotte, North Carolina a week after the GOP convention, these events are totally-choreographed public relations shows for the nominees of their party. The Democrats have already shortened their convention by one day, and the remaining three days will undoubtedly showcase Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden as faultless champions for the course of America’s next four years. Four years ago in St. Paul, Mr. McCain and his team showed how this can be done. Mr. McCain’s primary opponents, Mr. Romney and Mr. Huckabee did not speak in prime time, and when they did, it was brief and in warm support for McCain. Mr. McCain lost in November, but it was not because of the GOP convention in St. Paul in August.
The idea of a brokered convention in Tampa was an illusion. Mr. Santorum apparently still believes it can happen. His illusion has now become a delusion, and he has increasingly become a figure of political ridicule. From the beginning I said he was not ready for prime time, that his rise came about solely because he was the last social conservative standing.
Now virtually everything he says about Tampa and Mr. Romney is self-parody.
-Please visit Mr. Casselman’s personal site.
Do you remember this scene from the start of Shrek I where a platoon of soldiers came to arrest Shrek?
Captain of Guards: [to Shrek, after finding him and Donkey in the woods] You there! Ogre!
Captain of Guards: [to both Shrek and Donkey] By the order of Lord Farquaad, I am authorized to place you both under arrest and transport you to a designated resettlement – facility.
Shrek: Oh, really? You and what army?
[the Captain looks behind him and notices that his soldiers have run away, leaving their spears behind. He does the same]
So it would seem with Rick Santorum. Rick imagined himself at the head of a vast group of defiant conservatives ready to take on the evil RINOs and “establishment”. They were all willing to fight to the death, or at least to the convention to place him at the head of the Republican party. But now he is finding himself in front of a rapidly diminishing force.
Sarah Palin, who has long advocated a fight to the convention, stated last night it’s over. Dr. Richard Land, one of the top Southern Baptist leaders in the country, stated yesterday it is time to end this thing. The panel last night on Fox stated it was time to end it. Even Newt Gingrich, the defiant one from just two months ago, has bowed to the inevitable and continues his campaign in name only.
And so it is around the web this morning. On site after site, hard-nosed “True Conservative” after “True Conservative” are all starting to bow to the reality of the situation. It’s over. It’s time to start focusing our attention on Obama. Certainly there will continue to be defiant ones, but they are now in a distinct minority. The party is coalescing behind Mitt Romney.
Will Rick be able to withstand the pressure, now coming from all sides of the Republican coalition? It will be interesting to watch.
According to the AP, Mitt Romney is now exactly halfway to sewing up the nomination:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Mitt Romney is halfway to clinching the Republican nomination for president.
The former Massachusetts governor inched up to 572 delegates on Monday — exactly half the 1,144 needed — after the Tennessee Republican Party finalized delegate totals from its March 6 primary. Results in several congressional districts were too close to call on election night, leaving three delegates unallocated.
Romney got all three delegates. He also picked up an endorsement from a New Hampshire delegate who had been awarded to former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. Huntsman dropped out of the race in January and endorsed Romney.
According to the Associated Press tally, Romney has more than twice as many delegates as Santorum. Santorum has 273 delegates, followed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 135 and Texas Rep. Ron Paul with 50.
Yesterday I asked the question, “Is Reality Starting to Catch Up With Newt Gingrich?” Today, we get our answer. Fox news reports:
With his campaign seemingly running on empty, GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich acknowledged Friday that rival Mitt Romney is clearly in the lead and likely will get enough delegates to win the party’s nomination.
“I think Mitt Romney is clearly the front-runner,” Gingrich said while campaigning in Wisconsin ahead of the Tuesday primary. “I think he will probably get 1,144 (delegates), but I think he has to earn it.”
Newt goes on to say:
“I am comfortable that the day (Romney) gets 1,144 delegates, we will all unify and support him,” Gingrich told WTMJ News Radio. “But he has to finish earning the delegates, and that’s how the process goes.”
I have no argument with any of this. I am not one to count chickens so I refuse to claim that Mitt has this thing won. He hasn’t. “There be many a slip twixt cup and lip”, is an old saying packed full of a lot of wisdom.
At this point I see the odds are very much in favor of Mitt winning all the delegates needed before the convention. I place them close to a hundred to one. Those are very good odds, but the flip side of that is there is still a chance that he might fail.
So should Newt and Rick Santorum just drop out giving him a clear shot? No, I do not support that.
I have no problem with Newt or Rick staying in to make Mitt “earn” it. It is far better to have our nominee fully vetted by fellow Republicans than to wait until the Democrats get a crack at him. By then it will be too late. It also allows the Romney skeptics to have their say and not feel like they’ve had Romney rammed down their throats. As long as Newt and Rick keep their criticisms above the board and on the level, let them fire away. The party will be stronger for it.
Newt appears to have decided that that is the best course of action to follow. He has toned down his anti-Romney rhetoric considerably, even before this past weekend’s “secret meeting” with Romney. Now if Rick Santorum can be convinced to do the same, we will go a long way to uniting this party behind the eventual nominee, no matter whom it turns out to be.
Noises coming out of Santorum’s camp suggest that he might be dialing back his rhetoric, as well. Perhaps that “Vote for Obama” debacle woke him to the dangers of that sort of thing. It might well of sobered him up in a hurry. If it had, him blowing up at that NYT reporter makes a lot more sense. Here he was trying to be “a good boy” and the NYTimes reporter decided to see if he could twist his words into something he didn’t say.
The next few days will be interesting to see if Santorum really has turned over a new leaf. Time will tell.
Two recent articles suggest that Newt is finally having to face reality. The first one from the Washington Times tells of the former Speaker of the House meeting with Mitt Romney over the weekend.
Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich met secretly with GOP rival Mitt Romney on Saturday, according to a source close to the campaign, but the former House speaker says he has made no deal to end his bid for the GOP nomination.
Mr. Gingrich, responding to questions from The Washington Times, did not deny the meeting, but explicitly said he hasn’t been offered a position in a potential Romney administration in exchange for dropping out.
Nor, he said, is there a deal to have Mr. Romney’s big donors help retire Mr. Gingrich’s campaign debt of more than $1 million.
“There is no agreement of any kind, and I plan to go all the way to Tampa,” Mr. Gingrich said, referring to the August GOP presidential nominating convention in Florida.
If that be the case, then just what did the two of them talk about? Well, Newt has decided for whatever reason to soldier on to the convention, but if he can see that Mitt is going to be the nominee, there’s no time like the present to start to mend some fences. What happened after the meeting suggests that might be the case.
According to a source close to the Gingrich campaign, the two GOP rivals met early on the day of the Louisiana primary at Mr. Romney’s hotel in New Orleans.
On Tuesday, the former House speaker signaled that he is toning down the anti-Romney rhetoric he has used on the campaign circuit, telling reporters while campaigning in Annapolis that, “Obviously I will support [Mitt Romney] and will be delighted to do anything I can to help defeat Barack Obama.”
I am guessing the meeting probably went somewhere along the lines of, “Mitt, don’t take it personal. It’s just business, right? You don’t really mind, do you? No hard feelings? Good.”
Politico has the scoop:
Newt Gingrich is cutting back his campaign schedule, will lay off about a third of his cash-strapped campaign’s full-time staff, and has replaced his manager as part of what aides are calling a “big-choice convention” strategy, communications director Joe DeSantis told POLITICO.
Michael Krull, a former advance man and a college friend of Callista Gingrich’s who took over the campaign after a staff exodus in June, was replaced last weekend by Vince Haley, who has worked for Gingrich for nine years and currently is deputy campaign manager and policy director.
“We’re focusing exclusively on what it’ll take to win what we’re going to be calling a big-choice convention in August,” DeSantis said in a phone interview Tuesday night.
Gingrich officials declined to specify who else besides Krull would be leaving. “Not getting into it right now besides Krull,” DeSantis said.
But another campaign official said the layoffs would largely affect junior and advance staff, the latter of which was contracted out to Gordon James Public Relations. Gingrich consultant Kellyanne Conway and political director Martin Baker will both retain their roles, according to officials. The advance staff also received word on Tuesday afternoon to submit their final expense reports.
Be sure to read the full story here.
With the Republican Primaries winding down and Mitt Romney now the overwhelming odds-on favorite to win the Republican nomination, the attention of the GOP will now focus on two things. One will be the selection of the Governor’s running mate on which much ink has been spilled already. The other will be the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Governor Romney will have the majority of the delegates and by then all of them will want to show a united Party. However, to get Santorum, Paul and Gingrich delegates enthusiastic about him, Governor Romney might have to give them something. The easiest place for this to happen is in the party platform and it is here that we might see some diplomacy from the Romney campaign to help unite the Party.
The most particularly vexing group at the convention will no doubt be the Ron Paul supporters. With Congressman Paul having such different views than his fellow Republicans on a variety of issues, coming to an agreement him and his forces will require some delicate maneuvering. Even though Congressman Paul will probably end up at least giving verbal support to Governor Romney, his supporters will want something in return. A good speaking slot will be a must for Congressman Paul, but another thing that could give the Paul supporters something to cheer about will be in the platform. Paul’s foreign policy is clearly unacceptable to the majority of Republicans, but his economic views are closer to the GOP mainstream and it is here in the platform that the Paulites can show their influence. A plank calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve would make Paulites happy, as would a plank setting up a commission to look at the nation’s monetary policy. Congressman Paul has made both of these things major talking points in his campaign. These two planks should help satisfy the Paul supporters and to be blunt, a man who only has 71 delegates at this point doesn’t deserve any bigger concessions.
The Gingrich and Santorum camps shouldn’t require too much negotiation; after all the differences between the top three contenders aren’t that great. Suffice to say, Romney will have to have to include a strong pro-life and socially conservative plank in the platform to make Senator Santorum happy. A specific plank on restoring America’s manufacturing competitiveness would also show Santorum’s message has been acknowledged by the GOP. As for Gingrich, he’s been talking a lot recently about energy issues, so letting him have some say on the energy plank would help soothe the Speaker’s ego. The Speaker is an idea’s man, so if Romney discusses the platform with Gingrich, would fit with Gingrich’s desire to be a policy voice inside the Party.
To be sure, there will be other things as well that will be done to help unite the GOP around Governor Romney: endorsements by both his competitors, a good running mate choice, and the thought of beating President Obama will all heal whatever interparty wounds have developed from this primary season. But if Romney wants to give his rivals some policy influence, the GOP platform could be the way to do it.
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Rick Santorum played off of the Mitt Romney campaign’s Etch A Sketch gaffe today when he told an audience that the country might be better off with President Obama than with a candidate who will shift his positions with ease and who he believes is not very different from the president.
“You win by giving people a choice. You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who’s just going to be a little different than the person in there. If you’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk with what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate of the future,” Santorum told a crowd at USAA.
Even well-know Romney-skeptic AllahPundit is not convinced:
Question for Team RS: What “risk” is there, exactly, that President Etch-a-Sketch would be worse than Obama? Even if his political instincts carry him towards the center, he knows he can’t stray too far from the base on big-ticket items like, oh, say, Supreme Court appointments. That’s a big difference, not a little difference, and a pro-life advocate as passionate as Santorum surely knows it.
I suspect Rick Santorum can read the polls and do the delegate math the same as everyone else. So it is now desperation do-or-die time. Time to start throwing the wild haymakers.
He needs to be careful. Right now, Santorum is only in danger of losing the nomination. If he isn’t careful, he will lose something far worse, his reputation as a serious presidential candidate. That is what happened to Newt Gingrich last January with his post-Florida meltdown. Newt has never recovered, nor is it likely he ever will.
*** Update ***
Newt Gingrich just tweeted:
Rick Santorum is dead wrong. Any GOP nominee will be better than Obama.
When you’ve got Newt Gingrich scoring high road points off of you, you are in deep doo-doo.
*** Update 2 ***
Here is a video of it:
Rumors have been flying that Newt Gingrich may offer Rick Perry a vice presidential slot if he wins the GOP nomination, but the Texas governor denied Thursday that a Gingrich-Perry ticket is in the works.
Perry, who has endorsed Gingrich for the GOP nomination, said on Fox News’s Fox and Friends that he would not accept a VP nod from Gingrich, adding that he prefers to remain governor of the Lone Star State.
“Texas governor versus VP? The balance on that one isn’t even close,” Perry said. “I would suggest to you that’s deep in the rumor category and I got a better gig where I am, thank you.”
I don’t think I would want to give up being Texas Governor for being Gingrich’s VP candidate either. That assumes, of course, that Gingrich can miraculously come back from the dead and win the nomination.
While it is true that Perry did endorse Gingrich when he bowed out, that was then. This is now. At the time Gingrich was riding high from his win in South Carolina and was either rapidly gaining or leading in all the national polls. Newt’s epic post-Florida meltdown was still in the future. So it made perfect sense back then for Rick to endorse Newt. Now, however, there is no way Rick Perry would want to hitch his wagon to this proven unstable candidate. Rick might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he is not stupid.
Now if Mitt were to ask…
If you thought Newt Gingrich campaign was a long-shot, it just got harder. From the GOP rulebook:
Nominations(b) Each candidate for nomination for President of the United States and Vice President of the United States shall demonstrate the support of a plurality of the delegates from each of five (5) or more states, severally, prior to the presentation of the name of that candidate for nomination.
So Newt must win at least five states before he can get his name placed in nomination. He has won two: South Carolina and Georgia. Is there anyone out there that thinks he can win three more? Remember in Illinois, he came in fourth behind Ron Paul. He also lost to Santorum in Mississippi and Alabama.
There is an out. If he can manage to convince enough uncommitted delegates to give him a plurality in five states, he can get his name placed in consideration. But how likely is that to happen? He’s been stuck at about 15% and hasn’t been in the twenties for at least six weeks. When Santorum had that slide a month ago, it didn’t help Newt one bit. And if that weren’t enough, his donations have pretty much dried up. If it weren’t for his friend in Nevada continually funding his super-PAC, Newt would have no money left.
Speaking of Ron Paul, he’s even worse off than Newt. He hasn’t won a single state. However, most observers have long speculated that winning the nomination was never Paul’s real goal. It would be great if it happened, but his true purpose was supposedly to amass enough delegates to be a force in drawing up the platform. So getting nominated is likely not high on his priorities.