November 21, 2014

OPINION: Help Us, Chris Christie, You’re Our Only Hope

The 2014 midterm elections were long expected to go well for Republicans. What was surprising was just how good a night the GOP wound up having, and that is in large part due to the extraordinary success of Chris Christie and the RGA.  Long thought to be the Democrats’ silver lining in 2014, the governors races ended up delivering a succession of crippling blows to the President’s party. Holding key states like Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida, while adding blue states like Massachusetts, Maryland, and Illinois, was the unexpected highlight of the election and the crowning achievement of Christie’s record-breaking tenure as RGA chairman. This accomplishment has rightly put Christie back in the frontrunner’s position for 2016.

Naturally, his return to the top has angered some on the far right, as well as some Bush loyalists in the establishment. But despite the naysayers, Christie is still better positioned and better suited to be the party’s standard bearer in 2016 than anyone else. This is due not only to Christie’s strengths, but also the profound weakness of his competition. Here are a few reasons why the 2016 field doesn’t stand much of a chance against the New Jersey governor:

1. Bush Baggage – The notion of Jeb Bush as a frontrunner has been a perplexing one for me. True, his family connections and donor base will give him a early jump on some of the new faces looking at the race, but other than that what does a third Bush run offer? The former Florida governor has been out of office for over a decade, a lifetime in politics. He champions a number of policies despised by the conservative base and attempts to sell these positions with a stage presence and style that would make Al Gore seem exciting. Worst of all, after painstakingly moving the party out of the shadow of George W. Bush, brother Jeb would pull us right back in. In a field of candidates unburdened by votes for the Iraq War or a bailout for the financial industry, Jeb Bush will be made to defend both. He is uniquely positioned to be the only Republican still carrying those albatrosses around his neck.  Add that to the fact that the Democrats are relying on a dynastic relic of their own for 2016, and it all seems incredibly stupid for the GOP to do the same. Why would we want to create a contrast between the Clinton economy of the 1990’s and the Bush economic collapse of 2008? Why hinder ourselves with the burden of the Bush family when we can finally run a new generation candidate in a change election? Without question, Jeb Bush is the worst possible option for 2016.

2. Empty Resumes – After two terms of Barack Obama and years of complaining from the GOP faithful about how unqualified and unprepared this half-term senator was for the job, the conservative base seems eager to offer up even less qualified candidates of their own. Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio all have resumes even weaker and devoid of accomplishments than Sen. Obama offered in 2008. While some would argue that Rubio doesn’t belong in this group due to his short time in the Florida legislature, I would argue his flip-flop on immigration reform (a bill he helped write) has damaged his credibility even more so than his unqualified fellow senators. If these three were not unfit enough, conservatives are also pushing Dr. Ben Carson, a man with no political or governing experience whatsoever. None. Zip. Zilch. The shocking lack of qualifications among this group would be funny if it wasn’t so pathetic.

3. Untested Governors – The common refrain among Republicans is that the 2016 field is so deep and talented. This notion seems to stem from the accomplished crop of governors that the party has cultivated. At first glance this seems to be the case, but upon further review, this group of big talents appears to be a collection of paper tigers. Take Rick Perry, the outgoing governor of Texas, who humiliated himself in the last presidential race despite his state’s good economic record. There is Bobby Jindal, often cited as a big thinker, who has also made himself a punch-line on the national stage when he wasn’t busy being the South’s most unpopular Republican. Even Mary Landrieu, the about-to-be-ousted senior senator from Louisiana boasts a high approval rating. Gov. Mike Pence checks a lot of boxes for the GOP, but he has a stunning lack of accomplishment for someone who has been in office as long as he has. Compare his record as governor to his predecessor and you will quickly see that Pence is as big a do-nothing governor as he was a do-nothing congressman. He also has no real experience dealing with the opposition, a gaping hole in the resume shared by Perry and Jindal.

4. Retreads – The rest of the field of pretenders is full of candidates who have run and lost before, and in some cases multiple times. Rick Santorum is planning to run again, despite having spent the last 15 years losing elections and saying embarrassing, bigoted nonsense every time he’s on television. Mike Huckabee, a moderately successful television and radio entertainer, is pondering another run to be President of Iowa, but like his previous campaign proved, he has little appeal outside the tiny, caucus electorate.  Mitt Romney has seen a bit of a comeback in the media, almost entirely due to the failures of the man who soundly defeated him. While he would have a few “I told you so” points to make in another race with Obama, he has no real appeal in a race against anyone else. Paul Ryan could be considered the “next-in-line” candidate due to his role as Romney’s defeated running mate, but he faces the same daunting realities that plagued other defeated VP nominees. Add in the fact that no member of the House has won the presidency in over a century and his path becomes even more unrealistic.

5. Real competitors – For all the problems the field has, there are a few bright spots who could lead to real challenges for Christie. Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio can claim to be just as tested and even more accomplished than the New Jersey governor. True, only Christie has a powerful Democratic legislature to deal with, but Kasich and Walker faced fierce opposition from labor unions, and came out winners. While neither can command a stage or a late night show with Christie’s charisma, their mid-western charms may be compelling to voters in search of candidates to relate to. Most importantly, both men have shown they can win in purple states, which is one of Christie’s biggest assets. Both men have a long way to go to be able to stand toe-to-toe with the New Jersey governor, but they have a better shot than anyone else considering a run.

When you really examine this “deep bench” you begin to see that it doesn’t live up to the hype. Gov. Christie became a national star for a reason; he possesses the intangibles and talent that often accompany successful politicians. He can masterfully play both wrecking ball and common man, someone who can both feel your anger and your pain. He has accomplished a lot in a state long bereft of leadership, and with a mountain of problems thirty years in the making. He showed real leadership during a natural disaster that tore through his state. He demonstrated a level of accountability unseen on the presidential level in years during his marathon Bridgegate press conference. He has withstood a full-court assault from the media in an attempt to destroy his 2016 prospects. Through it all he has shown a remarkable resiliency, even more amazing considering just how blue his home state is. Some will nitpick about New Jersey’s economic numbers, or they’ll attempt to hype non-scandals, but these efforts will likely fail, just as they did when they were used to attack Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton.

Gov. Chris Christie is the best chance the GOP has at defeating Hillary Clinton and taking back the White House, and it will take an extraordinary effort by someone far less talented to change that reality.

November 20, 2014

Rick Perry: Texas May Sue Obama

From Politico:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said the Lone Star State might sue Barack Obama’s administration over the president’s planned executive order to grant relief to as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants.

“I think that’s probably a very real possibility,” Perry said during a panel here at the Republican Governors Association’s annual meeting.

Perry, who is considering another presidential bid in 2016, said the cost of illegal immigration is “extraordinary.” He said his state spends $12 million a month on securing the border.

by @ 1:01 pm. Filed under 2016, Rick Perry

Kasich Draws First Blood

It looks like John Kasich and Scott Walker had a bit of a set-to at the RGA, with Kasich coming out on top (if this article can be relied upon).

Kasich drew upon his deeper experience in Washington, which will be an asset if he decides to run.

The occasion was a panel discussion at the RGA meeting in Florida featuring five possible presidential contenders – Kasich, Walker, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, and Mike Pence.

Read the article, it’s not that long, but it will provide plenty of fodder for everyone’s viewpoints in the comments.

by @ 12:52 pm. Filed under Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, Mike Pence, Rick Perry, Scott Walker

Get Ready for Rick Perry?

The Washington Post reports:

BOCA RATON—Texas Gov. Rick Perry isn’t ready to announce his candidacy for president in 2016; that decision will come in May or June of next year. But the longest-serving governor in the history of his state said Wednesday that this time, he will be ready if he decides to try again.

“I was a bit arrogant” in 2012, Perry said in an interview at the Republican Governors Association meeting here in Florida, as he looked both back and ahead. His arrogance, he said, stemmed from his belief that, as a sitting governor from one of the nation’s most populous states, he could “step into that role of candidate and stand up in front of the American people…I was mistaken.”

He has spent, by his own admission, most of the past two-plus years paying penance and doing due diligence, trying to undo the damage from his 2012 campaign.

Yes he was — arrogant, I mean. He honestly thought he could show up late, slam Romney, throw out some red meat, talk in his Texas drawl, and the nomination would be handed to him. I suspect that he, like Fred Thompson four years before, made the mistake of listening to the people clamoring for him to run, and didn’t sit back and take serious stock of all the hard work and preparation that must go into a successful run for President. “Never listen to the flatterers”, was the first rule he broke, and it doomed his 2012 run.

If he runs in 2016, we shall see if he has learned his lesson. Who knows, it just might work. Americans love to give second chances.

by @ 6:27 am. Filed under 2016, Rick Perry

November 19, 2014

RNC 2018 Straw Poll Lists 33 Possible Candidates

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:

  1. New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte
  2. Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour
  3. Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton
  4. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush
  5. Businessman Herman Cain
  6. Dr. Ben Carson
  7. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
  8. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz
  9. Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels
  10. Former CEO Carly Fiona
  11. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich
  12. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley
  13. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee
  14. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal
  15. Ohio Gov. John Kasich
  16. New York Rep. Peter King
  17. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez
  18. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin
  19. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul
  20. Former Rep. Ron Paul
  21. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty
  22. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence
  23. Texas Gov. Rick Perry
  24. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman
  25. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
  26. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio
  27. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan
  28. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval
  29. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum
  30. South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott
  31. South Dakota Sen. John Thune
  32. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
  33. Former Florida Rep. Allen West

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.

November 12, 2014

A Personal Appraisal of the Early Field

Since some of the other posters from R4’12 seem to be returning (great to see you, Matt and Mark), I thought I might do the same. A good place to start might be with a very preliminary assessment of the field that is shaping up. In order to do that fairly, however, I think I need to first position myself, so that you know from what perspective I’m coming (or, if you prefer, what my biases are).

In the run-up to ’12, I was an ardent Mitch Daniels supporter. After Daniels withdrew, I never really settled on another candidate, though I tried to get hyped up about several, most notably Tim Pawlenty; hell, I even gave Jon Huntsman a look (and then quickly backed away). Eventually, of course, it became obvious that Romney would get the nomination, but I couldn’t work up enthusiasm about him, either, since I was fairly certain he’d lose (admission: there was a point in October where I came around to thinking he might pull it out – wrong again!). However, I was out of the country by then and unable to do anything other than go to the nearest consulate and vote for him).

Which brings us to 2016. I would still support Daniels in a heartbeat, but he seems perfectly happy at Purdue, and getting him to change his mind about subjecting his family to the ugliness that American politics has become is about as likely as the Romney and Palin supporters of R4’12 organizing a ‘Draft Bob Hovic’ movement.

So I’ll have to find someone who can fill the same slot – reformist, executive experience, competence, able to relate to ordinary people, fiscally conservative, socially conservative, and defense-minded.

On those last three points let me add this: our party (and any party that is going to be more than a splinter movement – I’m looking at you, Libertarians) is a coalition. Any candidate that is going to unite a coalition must be acceptable to all major factions. Not that s/he is the favorite of all of them (or any of them). But s/he must not be obnoxious to any of them.

Matt Coulter listed a number of subgroups in his recent (excellent) post, but I’ll be old-fashioned and go with the old ficons, socons, and defcons. The Republican nominee need not be a hard-core deficit hawk, but must not go far in the opposite direction; need not be a culture warrior but must not be pro-choice (or even weakly pro-life); need not be an interventionist, but must not be isolationist. Which means the candidate must be able to thread needles quite nicely.

Oh – and one more qualification: I refuse to support anyone who can’t win.

For an early choice I’m leaning toward Scott Walker. Walker is identified primarily with fiscal and reform issues (especially reining in public employee unions), but his social policy credentials are sufficient that I think my most ardently socon friends would find no problem accepting him (part of why I think this is because he is well to my right on social issues). I know nothing about his defense views (having held only local and state offices, he has not had occasion to take positions on defense). I’ll look forward to seeing what he has to say about defense and foreign policy.

He also comes from a solidly middle-class background (mom a bookkeeper, dad a Baptist minister) and can relate to the suburban and blue-collar people Republicans must get in order to win. He has that Midwestern Nice thing going for him (though it did nothing for Tim Pawlenty). Coupled with his inoffensive (some say ‘bland’ and/or ‘boring’) manner, he (like Daniels) seems able to take strong positions without being offensive to middle-of-the-roaders.

My early second choice is Bobby Jindal, who shares many of Walker’s qualities – a proven record of reform at the state level (including a successful school voucher program), plus strong ficon and socon credibility. In addition, his grasp of policy is legendary, and to be blunt, his skin color is a positive. As with Walker, I know nothing of his defense views, and I’ll be waiting to learn more.

On the negative side, I have a perception of Jindal as being very outspoken on social issues – to the point that it might create problems for him with social moderates (whether or not strongly-held socon positions are a big political negative in a national race is, in my opinion, dependent on words and tone more than the positions themselves). This is just a perception, I admit, and only time will tell. I also think a Midwesterner would be a better choice than a Southerner.

It’s no accident that my two main choices are both governors. I strongly prefer governors for two reasons: 1) If Obama has proven anything, it is that executive experience matters greatly; and 2) I think the anti-Washington mood will continue into 2016, and these two will have little difficulty painting Hillary as an ‘insider’ and contrasting her to themselves.

These are the two I’m most interested in at this point. There’s a long way to go, obviously (at this point last time, Mark Sanford headed my list – but I’d rather not discuss that, thank you), so I retain my option to change at any time.

As for the others, just a few words on why I choose not (for now) to back them.

Mitt Romney – Obviously meets my executive experience criterion, in spades. He totally fails on appealing to blue-collar types and is past his sell-by date. In any case, I’m inclined to think, for now, that he isn’t running.

Mike Huckabee – Another governor who can sell socon positions with a smile, though I think he is so closely identified with social issues that he comes across as a one-issue candidate. His Arkansas record makes ficons like me uneasy, to put it mildly. I can’t support him for that reason, and I think he will have problems with a big enough bloc of Republicans that he’ll be stymied.

Rand Paul – Certainly a better salesman for libertarianism than his father, though that isn’t saying much. (As a libertarian myself, I prayed nightly for Ron Paul to just go away). Unless he starts quickly to moderate his foreign policy views, however, I think he has zero chance of getting the nomination. Also – no executive experience.

Jeb Bush – If only he had a different last name. By all accounts an excellent governor, but … well, let’s put it this way: We have an opportunity to run against a hard-core insider and we are contemplating nominating a Bush? Really?

Marco Rubio – No executive experience. Shot himself in the foot on comprehensive immigration reform, but probably backed away sufficiently that it will be forgiven/forgotten. Probably hasn’t been in Washington long enough to be perceived as being one of them. My problem with him is that I see no reason to support him other than his ethnicity. (We do owe him thanks for ridding the party of Charlie Crist).

Ted Cruz – Another short-term Senator. In addition to having no executive background, the guy is a loose cannon. Heaven only knows what he’d spout on the campaign trail.

Rick Perry — We’ll see if he learned anything from 2012. If he did, he might be worth giving attention to (though I think he’s damaged goods). If he didn’t, we won’t have to wait long for him to be gone.

Chris Christie – “Shut up and sit down!” might go over big in NY/NJ, but it will get real old real fast in the rest of the country. The guy just lacks the temperament for a long national campaign. I’ll never forgive him for embracing Obama right before election day – that finished the guy for me.

Paul Ryan – A ficon’s wet dream and one of my ABR options late in the 2012 primary season. On sober reflection, I don’t think a Representative can do it – though he has the advantage of having run a national campaign (losing, but still …). My objection is no executive experience, but I certainly wouldn’t be upset if he were the nominee.

Rick Santorum – He apparently hasn’t figured out that the only reason he did so well in ’12 is that he was the final ABR. If Huckabee gets in, Santorum will be eliminated in Ames, otherwise he might make it to New Hampshire.

Ben Carson – Okay, I’m scraping bottom now. Time to quit.

Whom do the National Security Professionals Favor as Future Commander-in-chief?

Defense One, a website dedicated to National Security, recently ran a poll of “…427 individuals currently serving within the national security community, including from the State Department, Defense Department and Department of Homeland Security”. They were asked whom they preferred as the new Commander-in-chief in 2016. The results are rather telling.

Defense One has not released the percentage results yet; those will be revealed next week. They did, however, release the order of finish. Here it is:

  1. Mitt Romney
  2. Jeb Bush
  3. Hillary Clinton
  4. Paul Ryan
  5. Chris Christie
  6. Rick Perry
  7. Rand Paul
  8. Joe Biden
  9. Marco Rubio
  10. Ted Cruz

I am surprised to see Mitt Romney’s name atop that list. He has never struck me as the sort of person that a National Security professional (aka: “hard men who put their lives on the line so we can sleep safe at night”) would prefer as CinC.

November 10, 2014

And So Begins the Race for 2016: GOP Edition

With the midterm elections in the rearview mirror and the Republican Party celebrating greater-than-expected gains across the board (Senate, House, and Gubernatorial races, as well as state houses), the electoral attention of politicos nationwide has now snapped to 2016 and the greatest prize of all: the presidency.

Specifically, who will run? Because of several factors coming to a head at the same time, we anticipate this being one of the largest Republican fields in history. The more interesting question might be: who will decide not to run?

This is where things get incredibly interesting for the Republicans. We are aware of a schism within the Democratic Party between the DLC’ers and the liberal wing of the party (and we will explore that schism, and what it means for their primaries, in a future piece). But we are now seeing a similar schism becoming more well-defined than ever in the Republican Party as well.


The Reagan Coalition which propelled the Gipper to massive victories in the 1980s (and which provided George W. Bush with two narrower victories in the 2000s) – fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, and foreign policy hawks — has fractured and faded, despite the dreams of well-meaning conservatives to the contrary. Replacing the now-tired three-legged-stool analogy is a much more greatly splintered party: neoconservatives, paleoconservatives, Paulite libertarians, soft libertarians, the Tea Party, social/religious conservatives, secular moderates, and on and on.

The galvanizing effect of the Obama presidency along with the local nature of midterm elections allowed those various factions to sweep Republicans to victory last Tuesday; however, with the national race for the presidency the factions will almost certainly turn on one another in an attempt to get “their guy” (or girl) into the White House.

Truthfully, though, the chasms of difference between the groups is largely overstated. The true schism in the Republican Party is a much simpler one, and is familiar to armchair pundits: the “establishment” versus the “conservatives.” Nearly every faction of the Republican Party can be placed (sometimes with a little force) into one of those two camps. True, this divide has always existed at some level, but never in the forefront like it’s about to, and never with the practical ramifications it will have for the 2016 race.

On This Side of the Ring…

On the grassroots/conservatives side you have candidates like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and Ben Carson (who has said the “likelihood is strong” that he will run, and who is airing what could be considered 2016’s first campaign ads this weekend). On the establishment side, to counter their firebrand version of conservatism, is… well, that is the $25,000 question.

Two big names loom large over the establishment, with a third now gaining traction as well, thanks to the midterm results: Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, and Scott Walker. The big question for 2016 is this: will Jeb run? He’s given a personal deadline of the end of 2014 to make that decision (not to announce it, but to make it), and that decision will set off a domino effect of sorts which may determine how the 2016 Republican primary plays out.

First, let’s face the facts: none of the candidates on the other side of the equation stand a legitimate chance of winning the nomination. If you support one of these candidates, you are, of course, free to argue and fight against that assertion, but history is not kind to those types of candidates. That does not mean one or two folks out of the Paul/Cruz/Perry/Carson/Santorum group will not win a few primaries, be vocal, and drive some of the agenda during the primary fight. They certainly will do all of the above. But ultimately, they will not be the GOP nominee. How can I say this with such certainty? Two reasons: money and organization (we will explore both of those aspects in a later piece as well).

The establishment, for all its negative stereotypes (milquetoast, squishy, moderate), prevails during GOP primaries election after election after election because they are smarter about how they go about the process. This is the domino effect I spoke of earlier. The establishment is made up of the money men and women of the Republican party as well as the top tier of the campaign staff talent pool. To say the establishment is monolithic would obviously be overstating things; however, they do tend to recognize electoral reality a tad better than the conservative wing of the party.

Here’s what I mean by that: the conservative wing will run as many candidates as they can. All of the candidates mentioned earlier (Paul, Cruz, Perry, Santorum, Carson) will almost certainly run. Other candidates who appeal to the Tea Party, libertarian, or non-interventionist wings of the party will jump in as well. They all believe the splinter of the Republican Party they represent would best represent the American people (or at least best benefit them) in the White House. Meanwhile, the establishment is hanging back, planning and calculating. If Jeb Bush decides to run, they will throw their massive weight behind him. If he doesn’t run, Scott Walker may well be an attractive alternative for their support. Winning three gubernatorial elections in four years in a blue state has a tendency to make everyone sit up and take notice; only Walker’s vanilla personality and extreme stance on abortion might keep the establishment from fully embracing him. If neither of those men choose to run, then the door is flung wide open: Mike Pence, Bobby Jindal, or John Kasich may choose to jump in the race. Or, difficult as it is to believe, Mitt Romney may attempt a third try to win the Oval Office.

Strategy and Collaboration

The establishment of the Republican Party is well aware of this dynamic, and all the money people and staff and campaign talent are talking through 2016 strategy already. This is the benefit the establishment has, for better or worse, over the grassroots/conservative side of the campaign. Where the grassroots splinter among many different choices (think Santorum/Gingrich/Perry/Cain/Bachmann in 2012), the establishment are more determined than ever to win back the presidency in 2016. Their collaboration and strategizing is with the intent to make that happen.

Many in the establishment are urging Romney to run again. Of course, his former advisors and campaign staff are largely behind the push, but the idea garners more support within GOP circles than one might think at first pass. On the record, Romney says no, over and over again — but then notes that circumstances could change. Those circumstances that Romney is watching, according to those inside the proverbial smoke-filled room, all center around who else is running and who else is winning.

If Jeb Bush (and perhaps, to a lesser extent, Scott Walker) decide not to run, or if a candidate on the other side of the equation actually looks like they stand a chance of winning, then, say those with inside information, Romney will likely jump in and run for a third time. Romney has had several meetings with the big-name donors and talent already, and has remarked to them that he is deeply concerned with the possibility of the GOP being represented and defined on a national level by “ideological hardliners” and foreign policy “non-interventionists.” These concerns are shared by the establishment players and will drive them to Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, or Mitt Romney in droves during the primary (or, absent those three, Kasich, Pence, or Jindal).

The Wildcard

The one name that hasn’t been mentioned yet is the final piece of the 2016 puzzle: Chris Christie. He is the 900 pound gorilla in the room (no pun intended), because he does not align himself with either side of the schism. He is the wildcard in the 2016 race because he is primarily only concerned with one thing: Chris Christie. He will almost undoubtedly throw his hat in the ring, and when he does, it will be fascinating to see how things shake out. His moderate-to-liberal policy positions align more with the establishment wing of the party, but his blunt demeanor plays better with the grassroots. On the surface, one would expect him to therefore be the perfect candidate to unite the two sides and win the GOP nomination, but the exact opposite is more likely.

Chris Christie has alienated a large portion of the establishment thanks to his actions in the 2012 and 2014 elections. There is certainly no love lost between Mitt Romney and Chris Christie because of the way Christie acted during the VP vetting process (arrogant, above the rules) and the way he acted days before the 2012 general election (embracing President Obama). The relationship between Romney and Christie is cold at best, which is a problem for Christie because most of the establishment are firmly aligned with Mitt. Further exacerbating the issue is Scott Walker’s similar coldness toward the New Jersey Governor. While Christie is being rightly praised for the wins of GOP gubernatorial candidates across the country last Tuesday, Scott Walker publicly feuded with Christie over RGA support in the days leading up to the midterm election, separating himself from Christie and making sure the Wisconsin voters knew he stood on his own and didn’t need Christie. Finally, the relationship between the Jeb Bush camp and Chris Christie is cold as well, stemming from the attacks on not only Jeb Bush but the entire Bush dynasty by Chris Christie aides and supporters earlier this year. Christie has managed to alienate the backers and supporters of the three biggest establishment players, and in so doing has lost his most natural path to the nomination.

The even bigger problem for Christie with the establishment, though, comes in closed-door comments that have been leaked to the press: nobody in the establishment think Christie is capable of winning the election. Coupled with an already cold relationship, that spells doom for Christie among the establishment.

As far as the other side of the schism goes, Christie faces struggles there as well. The fondness the grassroots feels for Christie because of his demeanor and blunt opposition to unions stands to dissipate quickly once they, those of the ideological purity camp, discover Christie’s liberal stances on issues such as illegal immigration (including in state tuition), gun control, and Obamacare. Poll after poll is already showing the conservative wing of the party overwhelmingly rejecting a Christie candidacy. They view him as establishment, and the establishment doesn’t want him either. He is the homeless wildcard.

The Stage is Set

And so the race for 2016 begins. The board has been unfolded. One side is rushing to fill it with pieces and the other side is patiently observing, nervously hoping they can find a winning piece to place on the board. Meanwhile, across the aisle the Democrats are gearing up for their own race — and while it does not appear to contain any of the drama of the GOP race on the surface, there is plenty going on which stands to make it just as interesting, as we will see in the second installment of this series.

August 7, 2014

Poll Watch: SurveyUSA Florida 2016 Presidential Survey

SurveyUSA Florida 2016 Presidential Poll

  • Hillary Clinton (D) 50%
  • Rick Perry (R) 40%
  • Rick Perry (R) 44%
  • Joe Biden (D) 43%

Among Men

  • Hillary Clinton (D) 44%
  • Rick Perry (R) 43%
  • Rick Perry (R) 47%
  • Joe Biden (D) 39%

Among Women

  • Hillary Clinton (D) 55%
  • Rick Perry (R) 37%
  • Joe Biden (D) 46%
  • Rick Perry (R) 40%

Survey of 859 registered voters was conducted July 31 – August 4, 2014 for WFLA-TV.  The margin of error is +/- 3.4 percentage points. Party ID: 41% Democrat; 33% Republican; 24% Independent. Ideology: 45% Moderate; 30% Conservative; 19% Liberal. Gender: 52% Female; 48% Male. 

-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

by @ 4:00 am. Filed under 2016, Hillary Clinton, Poll Watch, Rick Perry

July 29, 2014

Poll Watch: Fox News 2016 Republican Nomination Survey

Fox News 2016 GOP Nomination Poll

  • Jeb Bush 12% [14%] (12%)
  • Rick Perry 12% [5%] (3%)
  • Rand Paul 11% [14%] (11%)
  • Chris Christie 10% [15%] (16%)
  • Paul Ryan 9% [9%] (12%)
  • Marco Rubio 9% [8%] (8%)
  • Ted Cruz 9% [7%] (12%)
  • Scott Walker 4% [5%] (6%)
  • Bobby Jindal 4% [2%]
  • Rick Santorum 3% [5%] (3%)
  • John Kasich 2%

National survey of 358 registered Republicans was conducted July 20-22, 2014. The margin of error is +/- 5 percentage points.  Results from the poll conducted April 13-15, 2014 are in square brackets. Results from the poll conducted December 14-16, 2013 are in parentheses.

-Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

by @ 11:11 am. Filed under 2016, Jeb Bush, Poll Watch, Rick Perry

March 29, 2014

Romney Redux?

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.

July 8, 2013

BREAKING: Rick Perry Will Not Seek Reelection in 2014

Next stop, Iowa?

SAN ANTONIO – After more than a decade of principled conservative leadership that has helped make Texas’ healthy economy a beacon for job creation and the envy of the nation, Gov. Rick Perry today announced he will not seek reelection to a fourth full term in 2014.

“Texas is home to a unique people with limitless inspiration and perseverance, and leading this state for the first part of the 21st century has been nothing less than extraordinary,” Gov. Perry said. “I remain excited about the future and the challenges ahead, and will spend the next 18 months working to create more Texas jobs, opportunity and innovation.”

Since taking office in December 2000, Gov. Perry has worked to create a Texas of unlimited opportunity by focusing on creating jobs and preserving freedom, while investing in our people and our future. The governor’s leadership has made government more efficient and accountable to Texas taxpayers and kept the tax burden on job creators and families low, while making historic investments in infrastructure and education to meet the demands of our state’s fast growing population.

“Our communities are thriving with unlimited potential, arts and culture, and a tremendous quality of life. Today, Texas is better positioned to take advantage of the opportunities of the 21st Century than any other state,” Gov. Perry said. “Thirty percent of the net new jobs created in America over the last decade have been created in Texas. This is a tribute to the entrepreneurial spirit of Texans. It’s the private sector that creates wealth and jobs. The public sector can only create the right environment to make this possible. In this regard, we have done our best work.”

To prepare Texans to compete in the workforce of tomorrow, Gov. Perry has led the effort to raise educational standards in Texas public schools, and better prepare students to pursue college or enter the workforce. He has also worked to increase accountability, accessibility and affordability in higher education to ensure more Texans have the opportunity to earn a college degree.

Additionally, Gov. Perry has proudly led the fight to protect traditional values in Texas. He remains a strong champion for life, calling lawmakers into a second special session to protect the unborn. He has signed pro-life legislation into law requiring parental consent when their minor daughter seeks an abortion, and that women who seek abortions must first be provided a sonogram to better understand the impact of their life-ending decision. He also championed a constitutional amendment defining marriage in Texas as a union between one man and one woman.

“I make this announcement with the deepest sense of humility and appreciation for the trust the people of this state have given me, and knowing I will truly miss serving in this capacity – the greatest job in modern politics,” Gov. Perry said. “Our responsibility remains to the next generation of Texans, who will inherit a state of our making. We alone are responsible for the kind of Texas that will greet them. It is my hope that tomorrow’s leaders build on our legacy of opportunity so Texans born into any circumstances have a chance to experience the American Dream.”

by @ 3:02 pm. Filed under 2014, 2016, Rick Perry

June 30, 2013

The Specularazzi Go Hyper-Forward To 2016

We remain only in the first year of the second term of Barack Obama’s presidency, and the media specularazzi are already churning in predictions and conclusions. It seems, in recent cycles, it always to go this way with breathless prognostications, meaningless polls, and reports of instant political “nosedives”of frontrunners and other presidential hopefuls.

On the Democratic side, the race has been declared “over” by virtually all the specularazzi, i.e., that Hillary Clinton already has the nomination in her handbag, and thus no more need be said. The fact that the identical conclusion was reached by consensus in 2006, and did not come to pass, seems to be of no import to the specularazzi. Of course, Mrs. Clinton has “total” name recognition, and it has been declared that it’s “her turn”by her old supporters. She will, of course, be nearly 70 years old in 2016, her record as secretary of state now judged to be “controversial” and uneven at best. She is a poor public speaker, and has no distinction as an administrator. Nevertheless, she is “inevitable.” Fast-forwarding is so much fun, is it not?

By the way, I wonder if Andrew Cuomo, Mark Warner, Evan Bayh, Cory Booker, Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Manchin, Ron Wyden and other talented younger Democrats are so willing to throw in the towel this far in advance. Perhaps. Perhaps not.

On the Republican side, there is more debate. Early favorite Senator Marco Rubio has gambled big-time on immigration reform legislation that is very unpopular with many in the GOP grass roots. Likewise, high profile New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been declared to have “crossed the line” with his handling of a U.S. senate vacancy and his “moderate” views. The new darling on the right is first-term Texas Senator Ted Cruz, an outspoken and smart conservative who seems to be filling a temporary political void. Concurrent with the seeming decline of Mr. Rubio, there has been a revival of the only man in recent U.S. history who has been disqualified for the presidency solely because of his surname, i.e., former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, a man with genuine accomplishments, proven intelligence and, oh yes, all kinds of Hispanic credentials.

Of course, the Republicans also have a stable of old war horses, including Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, et al, but unlike 2008 and 2012, there are none who might legitimately claim that it’s ”their turn.”

As I see it, Governor Christie, Senator Cruz and former Governor Bush, albeit with differing points of view, are rather talented fellows, and should make the 2016 contest (when we finally get to it) rather interesting.

In 2005, by the way, hardly anyone had heard of the person who swept to election as president only three years later.


Copyright (c) 2013 by Barry Casselman.   All rights reserved.

October 30, 2012

Mitt’s Rope-a-dope Strategy

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.

May 29, 2012

Mitt Romney’s Statement on Clinching the Republican Nomination

From the official release:

“I am honored that Americans across the country have given their support to my candidacy and I am humbled to have won enough delegates to become the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nominee. Our party has come together with the goal of putting the failures of the last three and a half years behind us. I have no illusions about the difficulties of the task before us. But whatever challenges lie ahead, we will settle for nothing less than getting America back on the path to full employment and prosperity. On November 6, I am confident that we will unite as a country and begin the hard work of fulfilling the American promise and restoring our country to greatness.”

[Update] Rick Perry issued the following statement:

Anita and I congratulate Mitt Romney on securing the Republican nomination and think it is appropriate that the strongest economic leader and jobs state has put him over the top in an election where President Obama’s failed jobs and economic record will be front and center.

Texas voters again demonstrated their strong commitment to conservative values to keep our state on the fiscally responsible path leading to jobs and opportunity. I’m proud to have supported strong fiscal and social conservatives across Texas who will join me in working to support stricter limits on government spending, opposing tax increases and preserving a strong rainy day fund.

Now, more than ever, we must work to send a proven conservative leader like David Dewhurst to Washington, where he can put the Texas approach to work to overhaul Washington.

by @ 10:35 pm. Filed under Mitt Romney, Rick Perry

April 26, 2012

Rick Perry Endorses Mitt Romney

ABCNews reports:

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.

by @ 5:13 am. Filed under Endorsements, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry

April 13, 2012

How Romney Won the GOP Nomination

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…

March 22, 2012

Speaking of VP Speculation

From the National Journal:

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…

by @ 11:12 am. Filed under Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Veep Watch

February 12, 2012

February 1, 2012

Final Florida Tally

Final vote tally for the Florida Primary with all precincts reporting:

Votes Percentage
Romney 771,842 46.4%
Gingrich 531,294 31.9%
Santorum 222,248 13.4%
Paul 116,776 7.0%
Perry 6,742 0.4%
Huntsman 6,182 0.4%
Bachmann 3,947 0.2%
Cain 3,481 0.2%
Johnson 1,186 0.1%
Total 1,663,698 100.0%

Margin of victory for Romney over his three main rivals:

Votes % Total % of Romney
Gingrich 240,548 14.6% 31.2%
Santorum 549,594 33.5% 71.2%
Paul 655,066 39.9% 84.9%
Gingrich + Santorum 18,300 1.1% 2.4%

So even if every single Santorum voter had voted for Gingrich, Romney would still have won. And we know from both anecdotal evidence as well as several polls that there was a large percentage of Santorum voters who would voted for Romney over Gingrich.

For reference, here are the results from the 2008 Florida Primary:

John McCain 701,761 36.0%
Mitt Romney 604,932 31.0%
Rudolph W. Giuliani 286,089 14.7%
Mike Huckabee 262,681 13.5%
Ron Paul 62,887 3.2%
Fred D. Thompson 22,668 1.2%
Alan Keyes 4,060 0.2%
Duncan Hunter 2,847 0.1%
Tom Tancredo 1,573 0.1%
Total: 1,949,498 100.0%

So Mitt improved upon McCain’s percentage by 10 points and his own by 15.  Mitt has 70,000 more votes than McCain had in 2008 and improved his own total by 166,000 votes.

January 19, 2012

BREAKING: Perry To Drop Out Today; Endorse Gingrich

Per CNN:

Charleston, South Carolina (CNN) – Rick Perry is telling supporters that he will drop his bid for the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday, two sources familiar with the plans told CNN.

Rick Perry is expected to drop out later this morning at an 11 a.m. press conference and endorse Newt Gingrich, two sources confirmed to POLITICO.

by @ 8:15 am. Filed under 2012 Misc., Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry

January 18, 2012

Erick Erickson Calls for Perry to Withdraw, Endorse Gingrich

Redstate’s Editor argues that Perry has the chance to play kingmaker. From the Op-Ed:

Barring a miracle, this is Rick Perry’s final act in the 2012 elections. On Saturday, he will come in last in South Carolina. It will be only the third time in a generation Rick Perry has lost an election, with the only other two times being Iowa and New Hampshire this year.

For a generation, Rick Perry was undefeated. Now he will go back to Texas and everyone who ever lost to Rick Perry will seek to settle old scores. It will be a tough, bloody fight. He will have to be ready for it.

Perry, however, has a potential trump card up his sleeve as he rebuilds political capital. It’s simple: he can drop out today, and endorse someone else. Doing so today, before the CNN Debate tomorrow, gives the news time to sink in.

But who to endorse?Mitt Romney makes no sense. To endorse Romney would be to turn Perry’s message throughout the campaign into a joke. It would buy Perry no good will. He would return to Texas a joke.

Rick Santorum makes no sense either. While closer to Perry than Romney on some points, Perry campaigned on reducing the size and scope of Washington, privatizing social security, and fixing entitlements. Endorsing Santorum may leave Perry in good stead with his fellow evangelicals, but it would fly in the face of the limited government principles he outlines both on the campaign trail and in his national bestseller Fed Up!

Then there is the man who wrote the introduction to Fed Up!, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

I’m willing to bet that among activists in Texas, Newt Gingrich is more popular than Romney. His message has been rather consistent to Perry’s, including a man on a mission to gut Washington, D.C. While Gingrich lacks Perry’s limited government bona fides, he is the only other candidate in the race emphasizing that business as usual in Washington is not acceptable if the nation we love is going to survive – as Gingrich wrote in his introduction: “Devolving power out of Washington is critical to our long-term survival.” And that’s the truth.

If Rick Perry stays in the race, conservatives opposed to Mitt Romney will be legitimately able to blame Rick Perry for dragging down either Newt or Santorum. If the person he endorses doesn’t win the nomination, it still doesn’t hurt him as much as staying in to take a few deciding votes.

Read the full piece here.

by @ 2:26 pm. Filed under Endorsements, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry

January 16, 2012

The Wheels Begin to Come off For Rick Perry

Rick Perry is losing an early supporter in South Carolina who is facing the reality Perry ignores:

(CNN) – A key Rick Perry supporter, South Carolina state Sen. Larry Grooms, withdrew his support for the Texas governor and urged Perry to drop his presidential bid, the legislator’s office announced Monday.

“I still believe he would be a great national leader, but campaigns are tough and early mistakes and missed opportunities have taken their toll,” the state senator said in a statement. “Now is the time to get out and pass the baton to another leader that can take the message to the next level.”

I think one of the big flaws of our current primary process is how it forces us to take sides and at some point, support for a candidate is as much about ego as it is principle, if not more so. To quote the game show, in this race, Rick Perry is the weakest link.


by @ 6:22 pm. Filed under Rick Perry

January 12, 2012

Rudy Brings Down the Hammer

Today on Fox and Friends, Rudy Giuliani took issue with The Occupy Republicans:

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who ran for President in 2008 and dipped a toe in the waters of the 2012 contest, professed himself “shocked” by Newt Gingrich ’s attacks on Mitt Romney ’s private-sector career during a “Fox and Friends” appearance this morning.

Giuliani asked, “What the hell are you doing, Newt?  I expect this from Saul Alinsky!  This is what Saul Alinsky taught Barack Obama, and what you’re saying is part of the reason we’re in so much trouble right now.”

Giuliani broadened his criticism to include the attacks on Bain Capital launched by both Gingrich and Texas Governor Rick Perry, who he described as “a very close friend of mine.”  “I’m shocked at what they’re doing,” said Giuliani.  “It’s ignorant and dumb.  It’s building something we should be fighting in America, ignorance of the economic system, playing on the dumbest, most ridiculous ideas about how you grow jobs.”  He characterized the attacks on Romney’s private sector career as “unfair and bad for the Republican Party.”

Perry endorsed Rudy in ’08.

by @ 9:30 am. Filed under 2012 Misc., Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Rudy Giuliani

January 10, 2012

Judge May Rule on VA Ballot by Friday

Heritage Foundation’s the Foundry is reporting that a Virginia Judge has indicated that the requirement for Virginia resident’s to pass out petitions for ballot access may be unconstitutional. If so, that may lead the way for Gingrich, Perry, and Santorum from receiving ballot access in the Virginia primary. Here’s an excerpt:

A very big development in the ballot access lawsuit filed in federal court in Virginia by Texas Governor Rick Perry and joined by Newt Gingrich, Rich Santorum, and Jon Huntsman. Judge John Gibney just filed a five-page order in which he states that “…there is a strong likelihood that the Court will find the residency requirement for petition circulators to be unconstitutional. The authorities make clear that circulating petitions for candidates is a form of protected speech, and that the Commonwealth has a heavy burden to justify the restriction on speech by showing not only that the limitation achieves a valid state interest but also that the limitation is no broader in scope than necessary to achieve that purpose. As in all strict scrutiny cases, the state has a difficult task to demonstrate the propriety of its limitation on protected speech. For this reason, the Court believes that the plaintiffs have a substantial likelihood of succeeding on the merits, at least on the issue of the validity of the residency requirement.”

Yesterday, Judge Gibney ordered the Virginia State Board of Elections to notify all local county electoral boards that they are barred “from ordering any ballots” or “from mailing out any absentee ballots” until after the judge holds a hearing on the case on January 13. The judge says in the order that he will make a decision on the merits of the temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunction being sought by the candidates on the 13th.

Additionally, the ACLU of Virginia filed an amicus brief today on the side of the Republican presidential candidates, arguing that Virginia’s 10,000-signature requirement for a presidential candidate to appear on the ballot “reduces the quantity of [political] speech available in Virginia, and directly infringes on the First Amendment rights of candidates, voters, petition circulators, and political parties.” The ACLU also argues that Virginia’s residency requirement for petition circulators is not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest. In fact, the ACLU says that Virginia has “fail[ed] even to articulate a compelling interest.” It asks the court to grant the plaintiffs’ request for a TRO and a preliminary injunction. Looks like the judge agrees with the ACLU.

So we should know by the end of the day on Friday whether Perry, Gingrich, Huntsman and/or Santorum will be added to the ballot or if the only choices for Virginia voters will be Mitt Romney and Ron Paul in the Republican primary on March 6. With this latest order from the judge, it is highly likely that there will be additional candidates on the ballot.

HT to RightSphere



-Matt Newman is a conservative blogger from Maryland who blogs at Old Line ElephantPundit League and Tweets far too often.

by @ 4:24 pm. Filed under 2012 Misc., Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum

This is the *Republican* Primary, Right?

I want to give a huge thumbs up to my colleague Matthew E Miller for describing exactly how I feel (odd how often that happens) last night in his outstanding piece, “It’s Good to be a Conservative Again.” I, too, have been watching the attacks on Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital with my jaw on the floor. It’s not disbelief in the fact that Romney’s opponents are throwing everything and the kitchen sink at him now. After all, none of them have much of a greater chance than I do at winning the GOP nomination at the moment, and that realization has birthed an intense desperation in them – a desperation which is bearing itself out in the pursuit to bring down Mitt Romney no matter the cost.

I understand that. What I am in disbelief about is what’s inside that kitchen sink they’re hurling in Romney’s direction. Of all the vulnerabilities Mitt has – flip flopping, Romneycare, perceived timidity on foreign policy issues, love of the Department of Education, just to name a few – to make the conscious choice to attack him for his time at Bain shocks me. Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich are lifting language directly from the Democratic Party philosophy and playbook as they tilt at windmills and delay the inevitable.

Over at the Campaign Spot this morning Jim Geraghty says with incredulity,

“On MSNBC a moment ago Harold Ford Jr. just asked, ‘Can Romney recover from his association with private equity?’ The demonization of the free market is complete. This is, of course, in the context of a discussion of the Republican primary.”

Emphasis his. All of this wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact that Republicans are now complicit in helping to build a negative narrative and define their nominee-to-be before America gets to know him. Gingrich’s and Perry’s speeches and interviews are tailor made for Obama attack ads this summer and fall. I’ve even seen several places where GOP commentators asked something to the effect of, “Do you think Obama went halfsies on those Gingrich and Perry attack ads?”

If there is one positive development from Gingrich and Perry becoming Obama’s attack dogs, it is this: Romney is now the most acceptable candidate to both the moderate and the conservative wing of the Republican Party, according to Gallup:

Gallup accept

In fact, as you can see, Romney is the only candidate who is acceptable to both wings of the party. Contrary to the kicking and screaming of a tiny minority, conservatives actually don’t hate Mitt Romney. In fact, they like him the best out of all of the options. And as Perry and Gingrich continue their despicable attacks from the far left, that support is only likely to be strengthened.

by @ 10:24 am. Filed under Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry

January 8, 2012

Poll Analysis: Gallup Tracking Poll

Below you can find an article containing all the raw data from the Gallup daily tracking poll. Here, courtesy of Gallup, is the data in graphical form:

Four things are immediately obvious from the above graph:

  1. Gingich’s slide continues with no sign of bottoming out.
  2. Santorum is surging and has just taken over second place from Gingrich.
  3. Romney is also surging. He’s broken through the 30% level. His infamous 25% “ceiling” is looking more and more like a “floor” instead.
  4. Nobody else is doing much of anything. Paul has been gradually improving his numbers, but it is only a little here, a little there. There is no sign of any big movement in his direction, and he is rapidly running out of time.

If Gallup’s numbers can be trusted, it would appear that this has settled down into a four man race: Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul. If the trends shown above continue, Gingrich will drop below Paul into fourth place nationally somewhere around Tuesday’s New Hampshire Primary. With his expected poor showing in the Granite State, there is little reason to believe any sudden turnaround in his fortunes is imminent.

Another thing to note about Gingrich is that this is a big slide in his national numbers, not just his Iowan numbers. He cannot blame it on the negative ads ran in Iowa.

Poll Analysis: Suffolk Poll New Hampshire Trends *Updated*

Suffolk University has been conducting a series of daily tracking polls on the New Hampshire Primary since the first of the year. Its makes a good metric to show what has been happening in the Granite State since the voters there have become serious about voting for our nominee this year.

Here are the raw data (minus those who have dropped out):

(1/1) (1/2) (1/3) (1/4) (1/6) (1/7) (1/8)
Gingrich 11 8 9 9 7 10 9
Huntsman 9 9 10 7 7 9 11
Karger 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
Paul 15 17 16 14 18 17 20
Perry 2 2 2 1 0 1 1
Roemer 1 1 0 1 1 0 1
Romney 41 43 43 43 41 39 35
Santorum 3 3 5 6 8 9 8
Undecided 16 15 13 16 17 15 15

Here are the data for the major candidates in graphical form:

As can been seen in the chart above, not much is happening in the State of New Hampshire. Mitt Romney continues to have a commanding lead. Ron Paul continues to be second between 15 and 20 percent. Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman are having a modicum of drama determining who will end up third at just under 10%. And Rick Perry has last place sewn up at around 1%. He is down there with the minor candidates Roemer and Karger.

There is some movement to report. Mitt appears to be coming down to earth. (The result of Gingrich’s kamikaze attack, perhaps?)  Paul is creeping up to 20%, and Rick Santorum has risen from the bottom where he was once contending with Perry for last place. He is now in the next tier up where he is can be seen duking it out with Gingrich and Huntsman in a three way contest for third place.

There are now only two days left before the New Hampshire Primary. Barring any unforeseen meltdown by Mitt Romney, Mitt should still win the state. Three questions remain:

  1. How big is Mitt’s margin of victory going to be?
  2. Will anybody else manage to overtake Paul for second?
  3. What effect will the results from New Hampshire have on South Carolina only 11 days later?

*Update Note:* When I first wrote this article this morning, Suffolk had not yet released their results for today. When they did, it required some serious rewriting of the post. My apologizes to my readers for any inconvenience.

Poll Analysis: PPP Releases Their Latest South Carolina Poll

While everyone was watching the debate, PPP released their first post-Iowa poll of South Carolina. I am not going to do a separate post for that poll. Instead, I am going to combine it with the three South Carolinian polls from yesterday to try to get some picture of what’s happening in the Palmetto State.

Rasmussen ARG CNN/Time PPP Average Distance back
Romney 27 31 37 30 31.3 Leader
Santorum 24 24 19 19 21.5 -10
Gingrich 18 24 18 23 20.8 -11
Paul 11 9 12 9 10.3 -21
Perry 5 2 5 5 4.3 -27
Huntsman 2 2 1 4 2.3 -29

In common with the other polls, PPP shows Romney on top with a comfortable but not overwhelming lead.  It differs from the others, however, in that it shows Gingrich second and Santorum third — a swap from what Rasmussen and CNN/TIME show. ARG had them tied.

The combined average of all four polls shows Romney with a double digit lead with exactly two weeks to go before the primary. Santorum and Gingrich are neck and neck fighting for second place. Paul has fourth place all to himself, and Perry and Huntsman are still competing for dead last.


by @ 12:16 am. Filed under Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Poll Watch, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul

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