January 24, 2015

Zogby Poll: GOP Presidential Race

A number of people have linked to this poll in the comments, so I thought I would go ahead and give it its own thread.

This is a Zogby poll, which is not exactly considered the gold standard of polls. To begin with, it is an on-line poll. That means it is not a random sample. The people participating signed themselves up to do so. Second, it attempts to take a snapshot of the entire nation using a sample of only 223 likely Republican primary voters — a very small number four or five times smaller than any reputable polling firm uses. As it is, they claim a MOE of 6.6% which means Rand Paul could be in first place for all we know.

Anyway, here it is:

  • Romney 16%
  • Bush 13%
  • Rubio 13%
  • Christie 11%
  • Huckabee 9%
  • Walker 6%
  • Jindahl (sic) 4%
  • Paul 3%
  • Perry 3%
  • Cruz 3%
  • Haley 0%
  • Portman 0%
  • Martinez 0%
  • Santorum 0%

As I said, it’s Zogby, so take it with a grain of salt. About the only thing that can be said is once again Romney’s in first place, Bush is in second, and Santorum is at or near dead last.

January 23, 2015

Hot Air Poll

The Conservative blog, HotAir recently polled its members on the nascent 2016 GOP presidential primary race. The results are as follows:

  • Scott Walker 25% (682 votes)
  • Ted Cruz 25% (671 votes)
  • Mitt Romney 20% (542 votes)
  • Ben Carson 8% (209 votes)
  • Rand Paul 5% (146 votes)
  • Rick Perry 5% (132 votes)
  • Bobby Jindal 3% (77 votes)
  • Marco Rubio 2% (52 votes)
  • John Kasich 1% (36 votes)
  • Jeb Bush 1% (35 votes)
  • Mike Pence 1% (28 votes)
  • Mike Huckabee 1% (25 votes)
  • Chris Christie 0% (11 votes)
  • Rick Santorum 0% (4 votes)
  • —-
  • Other 3% (85 votes)

Some observations:

  • These guys eat, drink, sleep, and breath politics so blaming “Name Recognition” for any of the results just doesn’t cut it.
  • Walker and Cruz came in far stronger here than anywhere else. The HotAir crowd really likes these guys.
  • Romney finishes in a very strong third place. He is only five ppts off the leaders. This is rather unexpected given the makeup of the HotAir readership.
  • No one else broke double digits.
  • Jeb Bush, who is supposed to be Romney’s main competition for the nomination, is way down the list barely registering a weak 1%.
  • Chris Christie, the other supposed big competitor in the Establishment wing is so far down in the mud that he registers a mere 0%.
  • Rick Santorum, as he often does in almost any poll, anywhere, shows up dead last. Nobody drags bottom like Rick.

 

January 22, 2015

POWER RANKINGS: January *UPDATED*

1. Mitt Romney  former Governor of Massachusetts
Third time’s the charm? That old cliche will be alive and well among the throngs of donors, activists, staffers, and volunteers who have been asking Gov. Mitt Romney, the GOP’s 2012 standard bearer, to run again in 2016. After many denials, the former nominee has let it be known that he is seriously considering another bid. Romney’s name recognition, fundraising machine, political operation, and decade of recent campaign experience send him back to the top of the ladder. While Romney’s flaws are well known, and his 2012 failure is sure to be used against, he has cultivated much goodwill among GOP office holders and activists across the country. He is also primed for a major “I told you so” victory lap regarding many of President Obama’s second term failures. In the crowded 2016 lineup, a third Romney run is no more outlandish than a third Bush family campaign. As of now, it is the son of George Romney, not George Bush, in the best position to win.

2. Jeb Bush  former Governor of Florida
The scion of the Bush dynasty has all but declared his candidacy, launching a surprisingly early bid into the 2016 fray. Bush announced on Facebook that he would explore a bid for president, but the release of emails from his time as Governor of Florida and his resignation from many corporate boards signals he’s far past the exploratory phase and is already running. The early jump by Bush gives him both a head start on consolidating establishment support and puts pressure on his main establishment rivals, former nominee Mitt Romney and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, to get in sooner than he may have wanted. Still, family connections and money can only take Bush so far, and he will have to shake off the rust and prove himself a modern candidate if he is to prevail in 2016.

3. Rand Paul  U.S. Senator from Kentucky
The libertarian-leaning senator remains a top contender due to his his strong grassroots organization in Iowa and New Hampshire. Paul has successfully capitalized on his father’s prior campaigns to gain a foothold in the early states. Still, Paul’s unconventional positions, such as his isolationist foreign policy and his ideas for policing and social justice, put the senator out of step with the establishment he has tried hard to win over. Paul’s chances rest more on attracting a new coalition of younger, more diverse conservative voters than by winning over the GOP elite, who will have centrist heavyweights to rally around.

4. Scott Walker  Governor of Wisconsin
The governor of Wisconsin’s third election in four years in a state carried twice by President Obama and in the face of unprecedented liberal opposition has made him a party favorite. On paper, Walker could be a top contender and his battle-tested tenure has given him a huge donor base and the most diverse group of admirers in the field, from business leasers to grassroots activists. He could be positioned as the best compromise candidate, uniting both the Bush/Christie wing and the Cruz/Paul wing of the party.

5. Marco Rubio  U.S. Senator from Florida
Sen. Rubio was an early frontrunner for the 2016 nomination, but the combination of his troubles with immigration reform and the entry of Jeb Bush into the field have complicated the young senator’s path. Rubio’s team says they will not be pushed out of the race by Bush, but the competition for staff and donors in their shared Florida base will likely favor the former governor. Still, Rubio has proven in the past that he can cut an establishment favorite down to size and may be able to do it again. The son of Cuban immigrants is may be the most talented Republican communicator in the country, and should not be underestimated.

6. Chris Christie  Governor of New Jersey
With unexpected victories in the 2014 midterms tied to his tenure at the RGA, his own landslide reelection in a blue state, and the flop of the Democratic-led investigation into Bridgegate, Gov. Chris Christie is now ready to rally the national support and favors his accumulated these last several years. Once the unmistakeable establishment favorite, Christie’s 2014 hardships have opened the door for Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, and if both establishment heavyweights enter the field, Christie’s path will narrow dramatically. With top contenders and Democrat investigators both smelling blood, Christie will need to show a new level of resolve to regain his footing.

7. Mike Huckabee  former Governor of Arkansas
Gov. Huckabee is once again considering a presidential bid, and once again his strengths and weaknesses are clear. The author and former Fox News host retains positive favorable numbers and a deep connection to the party’s evangelical Christian wing while struggling with the donor class. Despite strong name recognition, Huckabee hasn’t been able to build a viable fundraising network outside of the evangelical grassroots. He will need a serious national effort to win over the party establishment if he is to overcome his 2008 pitfalls.

8. Ted Cruz  U.S. Senator from Texas
The Tea Party firebrand will be the favorite of many hardcore activists and religious conservatives. But Cruz has burned a lot of bridges with the establishment, and will likely struggle to build a significant national operation with both his senate colleagues and the business wing of the party working against him. With both Jeb Bush and Rick Perry likely to run, Cruz may also struggle to rally support in his own backyard. The conservative darling will need to rely on a strong grassroots effort, his network of evangelical leaders, and his debating and media savvy to break through against the support aligning against him.

9. Bobby Jindal  Governor of Louisiana
Bobby Jindal has been one of the more active potential candidates, leaving little doubt that the term-limited governor will launch a 2016 bid. Jindal’s campaign will be centered around his record as a conservative reformer with real achievements in education and tax policy. He has worked hard to win over the evangelical and activist base of the party without burning bridges to the establishment. The Louisiana governor will have to over come doubts about his stage presence and slipping numbers in his home state if he is to climb into the top tier.

10. Mike Pence  Governor of Indiana
The conservative governor of Indiana is a rare find in GOP politics; he is someone both well liked by the establishment and grassroots. The former congressman has a strong fiscal conservative record to match his staunch but friendly social conservatism. Pence is a gifted communicator with a background as a talk radio show host prior to entering politics. Despite a solid resume of experience, he will likely be criticized for a lack of accomplishments as a governor with a strong GOP majority in the legislature. Still, if the establishment and grassroots are looking for a compromise candidate, Pence could be their man.

Honorable Mention: Ben Carson, John Kasich, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina

No Chance: Lindsey Graham, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump

Dropped Out: Rob Portman, Paul Ryan

January 20, 2015

Free To Run

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.

January 13, 2015

Santorum Fires Shots at Fellow Republicans

The New York Times reports that Rick Santorum attacked four of his potential rivals for the 2016 GOP nomination.

On first term Senators Rubio, Cruz, and Rand Paul, he had this to say:

“Do we really want someone with this little experience? And the only experience they have basically — not Rubio, but Cruz and Paul because I don’t think Rubio is going to go — is bomb throwing? Do we really want somebody who’s a bomb thrower, with no track record of any accomplishments?”

So you say you don’t like bomb throwers. And what exactly are you doing right now?

On Mike Huckabee:

“He has to talk about Common Core. I love talking about Common Core. He has to talk about immigration and the Dream Act. I love talking about immigration and the Dream Act. He has to talk about taxes; I haven’t voted for a tax increase. I have a 100 percent record on taxes, signed every pledge every year.”

Mr. Santorum then turned to an aide and asked: “What’s the other one?”

Reminded that Mr. Huckabee had once backed a cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon emissions, Mr. Santorum exclaimed: “Climate change. This guy was for climate change.”

The Times report the response of three of his targets. First Ted Cruz’s response:

Jason Miller, an adviser to Mr. Cruz, said the senator had “done exactly what he promised he’d do,” contending that Mr. Cruz had led “the fight to repeal Obamacare, protect the border and defend American sovereignty.”

That was a fairly measured response. Now for Huckabee’s reply: (emphasis added)

Mr. Huckabee’s spokeswoman declined to address the individual issues, instead criticizing Mr. Santorum for “pulling the pin on grenades tossed in our own G.O.P. tent.”

“Governor Huckabee’s actual views — not the distortions of them — are fortunately well documented in his own voice through 12 published books, six and a half years of television and radio commentary, and daily postings on his blog and Facebook,” said Alice Stewart, Mr. Huckabee’s spokeswoman and a former spokeswoman for Mr. Santorum.

She has a point. If you are going to criticize others for being bomb throwers, you really shouldn’t be tossing that many bombs (or grenades in this case) yourself, especially into the tent of your fellow Republicans.

And finally Paul’s response:

Mr. Paul’s top strategist responded that the party should not take advice from a politician who was soundly defeated in 2006.

“Senator Santorum lost re-election in his home state by 18 points nearly a decade ago, and has spent the time since then trying to convince people to elect him to an even higher office than the one he was booted out of,” said Doug Stafford, senior adviser to Mr. Paul. “We will pass on responding to his alleged wisdom.”

Speaking of accomplishments, Santorum was a two term Senator. What exact accomplishments does he have to show for his twelve years in the upper chamber? I don’t recall any, at least none that he would want to brag about. If he did, he doesn’t seem to be all the eager to talk about them, does he?

One last thing. Did you notice he didn’t say a word about any of the so-called “Establishment” candidates? He only attacked his fellow “Conservative” competition. What a guy! No wonder most observers pick Huckabee to clean his clock.

by @ 4:47 pm. Filed under Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz

Thomas Fitzgerald’s Analysis of Rick Santorum

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Rick Santorum won the Iowa Republican caucuses in 2012 with a sweater vest, a gray Dodge Ram 1500 pickup, and a prayer. … Now, poised to run again, Santorum finds himself facing a crowd of competitors for the loyalties of social conservatives — former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist preacher who won Iowa in 2008, and others.

Santorum has been focusing on economic issues, saying that Republicans need to address income stagnation and inequality and the economic anxieties of the middle class.

He probably won’t have the working-class message to himself, as several elements in the GOP are pushing the party in a more populist direction. The Heritage Foundation think tank, for instance, is hosting a conference next week on conservative policy ideas that would address the concerns of middle-class and working-class Americans rather than corporations.

Even Bush, the son and brother of presidents, has gestured in this direction.

The clash of the social conservative candidates will be a primary within the primary, and some analysts believe that the Iowa caucuses, the first nominating contest next January, will be crucial. Social conservatives have outsize influence in Iowa because caucuses attract fewer participants than primaries.

“There’s room for a social conservative, but not three or four of these guys,” said Craig Robinson, former political director of the Iowa GOP and founder of a conservative news website.

For Santorum and Huckabee, the state will be especially tricky.

“Even if one of them wins in Iowa, it will be discounted a bit, because they won it before,” Robinson said. “And if they don’t win in Iowa, it’s game over.”

by @ 10:42 am. Filed under Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum

January 12, 2015

Why Is Santorum Doing So Poorly In the Polls?

I find it rather telling that Santorum is polling so poorly. The Republican party is legendary for giving the 2nd place finishers of their last contest a head start in their upcoming contests. Given the GOP’s history and reputation, Rick should be at or near the top of most the 2016 polling. He should at least be comfortably in the second tier within striking distance of the first. Yet poll after poll after poll has him at or near rock bottom of the pile. He’s even dragging bottom in Iowa, a contest that he won a scant three years ago.

How do we explain this? The only explanation that seems remotely plausible to me is that Santorum was never really all that popular except among some of our social conservatives. For the rest of the party, he was merely the last in a string of hapless 2012 ABRs.

Does anybody else have a more plausible reason as to why our 2012 2nd place finisher is lagging so far behind in recent 2016 polls? I’m am certainly willing to listen to them if you’ve got ‘em.

by @ 1:10 pm. Filed under Rick Santorum

December 17, 2014

Bush is “Instant Frontrunner”, says Krauthammer

Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer claims that Jeb Bush is an “Instant Frontrunner”.

I think it is a big deal because those who would be on his wing of the spectrum are going to have to rethink whether they are going to go up against Jeb Bush and how good of a chance they’re going to have. I think it will clear out some of his wing. As for the others, there are a lot of people who would otherwise be on the fringe. It would look like a free for all. It would look like the most open seat in the history of the presidency, so why not throw in your hat. And I think it will, because it creates an instant frontrunner, for good or for ill, it will discourage some of the fringe candidates

Well, maybe. Take a look at these two recent polls, one from the Washington Post, the other from Fox.

Washington Post Fox Poll
w/ Romney w/o Romney
Romney 20 Romney 19
Bush 10 Bush 13 Bush 10
Paul 9 Paul 11 Christie 8
Ryan 8 Ryan 10 Paul 8
Cruz 7 Cruz 9 Huckabee 8
Carson 6 Christie 8 Don’t Know 8
Christie 6 Carson 7 Walker 7
Huckabee 6 Huckabee 7 Carson 6
No Opinion 6 No Opinion 7 Ryan 6
Walker 5 Walker 6 Cruz 5
Perry 4 Perry 5 Rubio 4
Rubio 4 Rubio 5 Kasich 2
Jindal 3 Jindal 4 Perry 2
Kasich 2 Santorum 3 Jindal 1
Santorum 2 Kasich 2 Santorum 1
Other 0 None 0 Other 0
None 2 Other 2 None 2

Bush leads nobody by more than two ppts in either poll — with or without Romney. I don’t know about you, but I have difficulty thinking of someone as a “frontrunner” whose lead is less than the Margin of Error of the poll.

One thing that jumps out at me from either of these polls is the really poor showing of Rick Santorum. These early polls tend to be mainly about name recognition; we all know that. Now remember that Santorum finished the last race solidly in second place. Name recognition should not be a problem for him. So people should know him, and yet his position still sucks.

He has been making noises about running again. Maybe he should save himself some aggravation and a whole lot of money and not bother.

December 16, 2014

More On The Latest McClatchy – Marist Poll

The lastest McClatchy-Marist Poll has been posted already, yet there is still some information to be gleaned from it. For example, on the question to Republicans as to which possible 2016 GOP candidate they would favor:

w/ Romney   w/o Romney
Romney 19 Undecided 18
Bush 14 Bush 16
Undecided 13 Huckabee 12
Christie 9 Christie 10
Huckabee 9 Carson 8
Carson 8 Ryan 7
Paul 5 Paul 6
Cruz 4 Cruz 5
Perry 4 Perry 5
Ryan 3 Rubio 3
Santorum 3 Walker 3
Rubio 3 Kasich 3
Walker 3 Santorum 3
Kasich 2 Jindal 1
Jindal 1 Fiorina 1
Fiorina 1

Note that Bush comes in second whether Romney is included or not. With Romney, Romney is in first place. Without Romney, Undecided leads the pack.

Also notice that Christie is always fourth behind Undecided, Bush, and either Romney or Huckabee. I’m not seeing a real big mandate for Christie here. That’s really not much of a vote of confidence in Christie trying to run as the “Establishment” choice.

With Bush essentially throwing his hat into the ring, that pretty much slams the door on Christie, Rubio, and any other candidate wishing for the backing of the “Establishment”. Perry comes to mind. The only other candidate who would stand a chance is Romney, but Bush’s announcement pretty much closes the door on any Romney 2016 run. Why?

  • One, the “Establishment” likes to consolidate behind their candidate as quickly as possible. If Romney were to run, he’d have to announce before the year is out. He’d then appear as the spoiler, and the “Establishment” doesn’t like spoilers. He’d have to provide very good reasons why they shouldn’t back Bush, and I don’t think Mitt could do that.
  • Two, Bush could crash and burn, and the establishment would go looking for a white knight. This highly unlikely scenario only happens in the movies. Bush would really, REALLY have to screw up before that happened.

So Romney is about 99.9% likely NOT to run.

December 10, 2014

WaPo: Santorum Is In

The Washington Post reports that Santorum is definitely in this cycle:

Rick Santorum is running for president again — and says this time will be different

Rick Santorum won primaries and caucuses in 11 states in 2012, coming in a respectable second in the GOP presidential primary season. And Republicans have a history of bestowing their nomination on the next guy in line, usually an also-ran from the last contest.

Yet the former senator from Pennsylvania is rarely mentioned in the already feverish pre-game 2016 chatter among the political commentariat and the donor class.

That’s just the way he likes it. Or so he says.

“America loves an underdog. We’re definitely the underdog in this race,” he said in an interview Tuesday. Santorum added that being underestimated — again — “has given me a lot of latitude.”

“America loves an underdog”. True, very true, Rick, but it depends upon the dog. Every single poll that has his name on it has him at or near the bottom, even in Iowa, the state that gave him his big leg up last time. He won the state, but now he ranks 11thELEVENTH!! — in pre-primary polls.

by @ 6:20 pm. Filed under Rick Santorum

December 8, 2014

Iowa Freedom Summit to Host Several Possible 2016 Hopefuls

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:

  • Ted Cruz
  • Rick Santorum
  • Ben Carson
  • Mike Huckabee
  • Newt Gingrich
  • Marsha Blackburn
  • Mike Lee
  • John Bolton
  • Carly Fiorina
  • Sarah Palin

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.

 

by @ 9:50 am. Filed under Ben Carson, John Bolton, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz

December 7, 2014

Rick Santorum Has Been Busy

Former PA Senator and 2012 Rick Santorum has been busy.

First he has made more trips to Iowa than any other likely GOP candidate since 2012.

Second, he was stumping in the last Wednesday for now Senator-elect Cassidy in Louisiana. The Washington Post reports:

SHREVEPORT, La. — Supporters of Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) eagerly filed into a Baptist church here to see the front-running Senate candidate campaign with Rick Santorum Wednesday evening.

But they had to make do with just Santorum, who they welcomed warmly.

Cassidy’s campaign announced shortly before the event that he would be absent due to votes in the House.

Santorum, the former presidential candidate, spent much of his speech lambasting President Obama and closely associating Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) with the president’s record.

Finally, he spoke last Thursday in Midland, Michigan, at the Living Word Church, the home of televangelist Mark T Barclay. The event was a National Leadership Conference. Rick spoke about the freedom of religion. The Midland Daily News reports:

Possible 2016 presidential candidate Rick Santorum was in Midland Thursday.

But the topic wasn’t politics as Santorum spoke to a sanctuary full of pastors during a National Leadership Conference at Living Word Church.

Instead, Santorum’s message centered on American religious liberty.

“The greatest power that we have on this issue of religious freedom is knowledge,” he said. “We must first understand who we are as Americans, the basic values and principles upon which our country was founded.

“We are the only country in the history of the world that has a government based on the premise that rights come from God and not the government. That is the struggle right now. There is a fundamental struggle going on and it all centers on whether the government is there to give you rights or the government is there to protect the rights you already have,” Santorum said.

Does he have a chance in 2016? I’m not sure he does.

In 2016, he won the Iowa Caucuses after practically living in the state for weeks. Mitt Romney, who had spent hardly any time at all in the state showed up at the last minute and almost won. In fact Mitt did win until a recount put Santorum ahead by a mere 24 34 votes. Rick then went on to become the last ABR standing.

What makes me doubt his chances is that after winning the Iowa caucus in 2012 and making more trips to the state since than anybody else, he still trails Romney, Paul, Carson, Ryan, Huckabee, Perry, Cruz, Bush, Christie, and Walker. That’s ten people ahead of the man who won last time. 10 People! That’s not a good sign.

Those ten include Romney who effectively tied with him and went on to win the nomination last time, Paul whose supporters always seem to do well in caucus states, and Huckabee who would be competing for the same demographic with Santorum. And in my opinion, Mike tends to be more likable than Rick.

Things simply do not look all that promising for Rick Santorum.

But who knows? It’s still extremely early. Anything can happen.

(edited to correct the 2016 Iowa Caucus vote margin. Thanks, Ryan.)

by @ 11:38 pm. Filed under Rick Santorum

What’s Been Happening in Iowa?

Iowa is home to the Iowa Caucuses, the first real contest on the road to becoming the next President. The Des Moines Register recently published a tally of what possible future Presidential primary candidates have been up to in their state:

Fifteen Republican potential presidential candidates are on Iowans’ radar, ranked here by their events in Iowa since the 2012 elections. Also presented: their support in an Oct. 1-7 Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll.

Candidate Trips Events Days Caucus Support % First Choice % Second Choice %
Rick Perry 8 *33* *15* 13 7 6
Rand Paul 6 24 10 18 10 8
Rick Santorum *9* 19 12 8 3 5
Ted Cruz 6 12 8 13 7 6
Bobby Jindal 4 10 7 5 1 4
Chris Christie 4 8 4 11 6 5
Marco Rubio 4 8 5 5 2 3
Mike Huckabee 5 7 6 17 9 8
Rob Portman 1 7 2 0 0 0
Ben Carson 2 6 3 18 11 7
Paul Ryan 3 4 3 18 8 *10*
Mitt Romney 2 4 3 *25* *17* 8
Scott Walker 2 3 2 9 4 5
Mike Pence 1 1 1 1 0 1
Jeb Bush 0 0 0 12 4 8

Thoughts on the above:

  1. Rick Perry appears to be serious about running. He’s been to more Iowan events in the past two years than anybody else — eleven more than his closest rival, Rand Paul.
  2. Rand Paul has as much support as either Ben Carson and Paul Ryan, yet he has made more trips and has more than doubled the events that they have done put together.
  3. Rick Santorum was the last ABR (Anybody But Romney) standing in 2012. He’s made more trips to Iowa than anybody else. He even won the caucuses last time, yet he registers only single digits in support.
  4. Mike Huckabee has only made a handful of trips to the state yet pulls in a respectful 17% support. He’s a man to watch.
  5. Rob Portman has been to seven events in Iowa during a two day marathon, yet he is the only person with 0% support.
  6. Ben Carson and Paul Ryan only have a small number of visits and events yet each pulls a respectful 18% support. They are definitely men to watch.
  7. Mitt Romney has only made a couple of trips to Iowa. He continues to say he’s not planning on running, yet he has considerable more support in Iowa than anybody else. If you recall in 2012, he didn’t even campaign in Iowa except in the last week or two before the caucuses were held, yet he finished second by less than 25 votes.
  8. Scott Walker doesn’t seem to be doing that well in spite of being a fellow Midwesterner. (Shades of Pawlenty and Bachmann perhaps?)
  9. Jeb Bush has not visited Iowa at all in the past two years yet pulls down double digit support.


Edited to add Jeb Bush line to chart and the comment about his level of support in my thoughts.
MBL

December 3, 2014

We Have A Front Runner. Wait, Romney’s Not Running. Never Mind.

Two surveys came out last week polling Republicans as to the 2016 presidential choice. The results are as follows:

Quinnipiac 11/26 CNN 11/24
Romney: 19 Romney: 20
Bush: 11 Carson: 10
Christie: 8 Bush: 9
Carson: 8 Christie:8
Paul: 6 Huckabee: 7
Ryan: 5 Paul: 6
Walker: 5 Ryan: 6
Huckabee: 5 Cruz: 5
Cruz: 5 Walker: 5
Rubio: 2 Perry: 4
Jindal: 2 Rubio: 3
Kasich: 2 Kasich: 2
Perry: 2 Santorum: 2
Santorum: 1 Jindal: 1
Portman: 0 Pence: 1
Portman: 0
Other: 1
Won’t Vote: 1 Other: 6
Undecided: 16 None: 2
No Opinion: 3

• Quinnipac polled 707 Republicans with a MOE of +/- 3.7%
• CNN polled 510 Republicans with a MOE of +/- 4.7%

Both show pretty convincingly that Mitt Romney is currently the undisputed front runner for the 2016 GOP nomination. One problem though, Romney has repeatedly stated that he has no intention of running. So when the polls recalibrate for that and exclude Mitt, the results were anything but clear cut:

Quinnipiac 11/26 CNN 11/24
Bush: 14 Bush: 14
Christie: 11 Carson: 11
Carson: 9 Huckabee: 10
Paul: 8 Christie: 9
Ryan: 7 Ryan: 9
Huckabee: 7 Paul: 8
Walker: 6 Cruz: 7
Cruz: 5 Perry: 5
Rubio: 3 Walker: 5
Jindal: 3 Kasich: 3
Perry:3 Rubio: 3
Kasich: 2 Santorum: 2
Santorum: 2 Jindal: 1
Portman: 1 Pence: 1
Portman: 0
Other:1
Won’t Vote: 1 Other: 6
Undecided: 19 None: 2
No Opinion: 4

Yes, without Romney Jeb Bush leads in both polls, but only by 3 ppts. That’s well within the margin of error of both polls. And if you look even closer, the race is even tighter. The Quinnipiac Poll shows three candidates within five ppts of each other, CNN shows five within five.

The conclusion is inescapable. Jeb Bush might be the current titular leader in the race, but the race is wide open. (And him making comments about not needing conservatives to win won’t help him to pull away from the pack.)

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 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.

February 7, 2013

Kill Me Now…

Rick Santorum is “Definitely Not a No” regarding a 2016 run…

This is terrible news for a party and movement that is attempting to re-brand itself after the shellacking it took in November, for I believe that for every minute that Rick Santorum speaks publicly, the Republican Party and conservative policy positions lose .01% of support/approval in public opinion. The damage that Santorum did to the GOP brand in 2012 cycle really cannot be understated. He was worth more to the Democratic Party than all of the Super PAC and other outside money that was spent in the race.

Of course, I cannot prove this scientifically – yet. But if I had the time and opportunity, I would dub the phenomenon “The Santorum Ratio” or “The Santorum Effect.”

by @ 12:02 pm. Filed under Rick Santorum

November 27, 2012

Santorum 2016? He’s open to it

Rick Santorum said recently he’s open to a run in 2016. Here’s more from the Weekly Standard:

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum says he is “open” to another run for president in 2016. Santorum was asked about a possible presidential campaign Monday at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

“I’m open to it, yeah,” Santorum replied. “I think there’s a fight right now as to what the soul of the Republican party’s going to be and the conservative movement, and we have something to say about that. I think from our battle, we’re not going to leave the field.”

In 2012, Santorum won nearly 4 million votes and 11 GOP primary contests—the same number of states, he pointed out, Ronald Reagan won in his failed 1976 presidential bid. The nomination eventually went to Mitt Romney, whom Santorum argued did not focus on what he considered the “main issue” of the race: The role of government in the lives of Americans.

“We didn’t make that argument in this race. Our candidate didn’t make that argument, as some of us said during the campaign, because he was not capable of making that argument,” Santorum said. “In my opinion, what could have been and what should have been a referendum election on what it means to be an American, what it means for us as a country to head down the road toward European socialism, we just simply didn’t make the argument at a time when I think America was ripe to hear the argument.”

The former senator argued the GOP could have performed better in the Midwest with a candidate, and a party, that did not “look askance” at a populist economic and social message. Santorum said he will be working with his organization, Patriot Voices, over the next couple of years. “We’re going to talk about all of the issues with an emphasis on cultural issues,” he said.

by @ 3:12 pm. Filed under 2016, Rick Santorum

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.

September 21, 2012

Christie, Jindal, and Santorum to Iowa

Is the race for 2016 already underway? If it’s not, Iowa is certainly becoming a popular hub for potential Republican presidential contenders these days. First, a certain New Jersey governor seems to have found his way to Sioux City:

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie officially endorsed Iowa Congressman Steve King today, at an appearance in Sioux City as keynote speaker for King’s 5th Annual Defenders of Freedom fundraiser.

King, however, wasn’t at his own event! According to his campaign, King flew to Washington D.C. yesterday to continue fighting for the passage of the Farm Bill.

That didn’t stop Governor Christie from coming out and supporting King, and the Romney campaign.

Christie campaigning for Romney and for down-ballot Republicans may just be the governor displaying his creds as a good party man, but still, the choice of venue seems…interesting.

And who could miss Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal, riding the So-Con Express to the Hawkeye State!

Former Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Rick Santorum heads to Iowa next week to join a bus tour led by the social conservative group the Family Leader, furthering speculation that he’s looking ahead to another presidential run in 2016 if President Barack Obama defeats challenger Mitt Romney in November.

The bus tour, which takes place Sept. 24 to Sept. 27, will take Santorum to Des Moines, Pella and Ottumwa on Monday the 24th. It’s intended to protest retaining Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins, who joined the 2009 ruling that made same-sex marriage legal in Iowa.

The Family Leader endorsed Santorum for president in 2011.

Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal will also join the tour and is scheduled to travel to Mason City, Marshalltown, Fort Dodge and Carroll on Wednesday the 26th.

More than once I’ve suggested that the race for 2016 would begin on the morning of November 7th. I was wrong. It’s already here.

by @ 8:28 pm. Filed under 2016, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, Rick Santorum

August 7, 2012

More Convention Speakers Announced Including Santorum

Reuters has the story:

Wolfeboro, New Hampshire (Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s most bitter rival for his party’s nomination has agreed to speak at the nominating convention in Tampa, Florida, later this month.

Rick Santorum, the former presidential candidate who lobbed harsh criticism at Romney during some bitter primary contests, will join a host of other big-name Republicans as headline speakers, according to Republican sources.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will also speak at the convention, along with Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and Tea Party hero and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

So add Rick Santorum, Jeb Bush, Mary Fallin, and Rand Paul to the list.

by @ 7:15 am. Filed under Conventions, Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum

July 15, 2012

Mitt and Rick Copacetic Now?

As reported here earlier, Rick Santorum opened a Romney’s campaign office in Pennsylvania yesterday. It seems to have gone well.

CNN covered the event:

Greensburg, Pennsylvania (CNN) – It appears the hatchet is officially buried.

After a bitter and prolonged primary battle involving Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney, Santorum on Saturday attended his first high-profile campaign event on Romney’s behalf since he endorsed Romney in May. Santorum helped open a Romney campaign office in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, that’s shared with the state Republican Party.

Not only did Santorum offer high praise for Romney, but he played political offense and defense for his former rival.

Claiming the “republic is at stake” in the presidential election because of President Barack Obama’s failed policies, Santorum said, “One man is who we have to put our trust in to go out and fight that battle, and win that battle. And we must rally behind and do everything we possibly can to support Governor Mitt Romney so he’s the next president of the United States.”

 

by @ 9:24 am. Filed under Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum

July 13, 2012

Santorum to Stump for Romney

ABCNews reports:

This weekend former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum will hold his first formal campaign event for Mitt Romney since he became the presumptive Republican nominee, sources close to Santorum tell ABC News.

Santorum, who emerged as one of Romney’s last opponents standing after a hard-fought  primary season, will appear on Saturday at the opening of the Romney campaign’s Greensburg, Pennsylvania victory office. It’s familiar turf for Santorum who used to represent that area of southwestern Pennsylvania in Congress.

Saturday’s event represents another step in the peace-making process between Santorum and Romney, and it is also a sign that the Romney campaign believes Santorum can be a helpful surrogate in the country’s economically-struggling Rust Belt area.

Santorum was asked to participate in the Greensburg office opening by the Romney campaign and Republican party officials, and “he was happy to accept the request,” according to a source familiar with the planning of the event.

It’s nice to see Rick Santorum coming on board. If he can help deliver Pennsylvania in the fall, it would be next to impossible for Obama to win. Even if he forces Obama to spend money there that they didn’t plan on spending, he would have done his duty to the party and Mitt.

by @ 4:49 pm. Filed under Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum

June 8, 2012

Santorum To Form Conservative Advocacy Group

Santorum declared last Monday that he would have a big announcement this Friday. Well it’s now Friday, and his big announcement has been made. He is forming a conservative advocacy group.

Rick Santorum announced Friday that he would be forming a new outside political advocacy organization to advocate for conservative issues as the former presidential hopeful enters the next chapter of his political career.

“One of the things we found as we traveled around the country is that people came up to me and said I was out there speaking about things that gave voice to their concerns… that a lot of people had some basic anxiety of where America was going,” Santorum told Fox News on Friday. “We wanted to put an organization together that reflected those voices across America, and we’re calling it Patriot Voices.”

Santorum said the group would work to push candidates to embrace conservative principles.

“We’re going to be holding candidates responsible, and supporting them, and of course supporting Mitt Romney and make sure he becomes the next president and we get rid of the scourge that has been the bane of the economy and our country, which is Barack Obama and his administration,” Santorum said.

Speaking of Mitt Romney, Rick had this to say about the relationship between him and the former Massachusetts Governor:

Santorum also looked to downplay speculation of lingering tension with former rival Mitt Romney on Friday, saying those who suggested his late-night e-mailed endorsement of the former Massachusetts governor were off base.

“We wanted it to be in their mailbox first thing in the morning so it didn’t get buried in the middle of the day. We laid it out very clearly as to why I’m supporting Gov. Romney, the meeting went exceptionally well,” Santorum said.

 

by @ 7:27 am. Filed under Rick Santorum

June 4, 2012

Santorum Announcement on Friday?



Former US Senator and Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum will be making a big announcement on Friday. Feel free to pointlessly and wildly speculate on it below.

My money is on a new line of designer sweater vests. (I kid).

by @ 11:27 am. Filed under 2012 Misc., Rick Santorum

May 8, 2012

Santorum Endorses Romney

In an email to supporters, Sen. Santorum has announced his endorsement of Gov. Romney:

On Friday, Governor Romney came to Pittsburgh for an over-hour long one-on-one meeting. The conversation was candid, collegial and focused on the issues that you helped me give voice to during our campaign; because I believe they are essential ingredients to not only winning this fall, but turning our country around.

While the issue of my endorsement did not come up, I certainly have heard from many of you who have weighed in on whether or not I should issue a formal endorsement. Thank you for your counsel, it has been most helpful. However, I felt that it was completely impossible for me to even consider an endorsement until after a meeting to discuss issues critical to those of us who often feel our voices are not heard by the establishment: social conservatives, tea-party supporters, lower and middle income working families.

Clearly without the overwhelming support from you all, I never would have won 11 states and over 3 million votes, and we would not have won more counties than all the other candidates combined. I can assure you that even though I am no longer a candidate for president, I will still continue to fight every day for our shared values – the values that made America the greatest country in the history of the world.

During our meeting I felt a deep responsibility to assess Governor Romney’s commitment to addressing the issues most important to conservatives, as well his commitment to ensuring our appropriate representation in a Romney administration.

The family and its foundational role in America’s economic success, a central point of our campaign, was discussed at length. I was impressed with the Governor’s deep understanding of this connection and his commitment to economic policies that preserve and strengthen families. He clearly understands that having pro-family initiatives are not only the morally and economically right thing to do, but that the family is the basic building block of our society and must be preserved.

I also shared with Governor Romney my belief that we cannot restore America as the greatest economic engine the world has ever seen until we return America to being a manufacturing superpower. He listened very carefully to my advice on this matter, and while our policy prescriptions differed, he clearly expressed his desire to create more opportunities for those that are feeling left behind in this economy.

As it is often said, “personnel is policy.” I strongly encouraged Governor Romney as he builds out his campaign staff and advisors that he add more conservative leaders as an integral part of his team. And you can be sure that I will work with the Governor to help him in this task to ensure he has a strong team that will support him in his conservative policy initiatives.

Of course we talked about what it would take to win this election. As you know I started almost every speech with the phrase that this was the most important election since the election of 1860 and four more years of President Obama is simply not an option. As I contemplated what further steps I will take, that reality weighed heavy on me. The America we know is being fundamentally changed to look more like a European socialist state than the land of opportunity our founding fathers established.

Freedom and personal responsibility are being replaced with big government dependency. The greatest and most productive workers in the world are being hamstrung by excessive regulations making it impossible to compete. Our healthcare system had been socialized, and the worth of each life dictated by some government bureaucrat. Our allies are insulted while our enemies are appeased. And our religious beliefs and freedom have come under attack.

What is even more troubling is what a second term of an Obama administration could bring. President Obama’s admission to the Russians that he will have more flexibility in a second term can only be translated to “if you thought I was liberal in the first four years you haven’t seen anything yet!”

The primary campaign certainly made it clear that Governor Romney and I have some differences. But there are many significant areas in which we agree: the need for lower taxes, smaller government, and a reduction in out-of-control spending. We certainly agree that abortion is wrong and marriage should be between one man and one woman. I am also comfortable with Governor Romney on foreign policy matters, and we share the belief that we can never allow Iran to possess nuclear weapons. And while I had concerns about Governor Romney making a case as a candidate about fighting against Obamacare, I have no doubt if elected he will work with a Republican Congress to repeal it and replace it with a bottom up, patient, not government, driven system.

Above all else, we both agree that President Obama must be defeated. The task will not be easy. It will require all hands on deck if our nominee is to be victorious. Governor Romney will be that nominee and he has my endorsement and support to win this the most critical election of our lifetime.

My conversation with Governor Romney was very productive, but I intend to keep lines of communication open with him and his campaign. I hope to ensure that the values that made America that shining city on the hill are illuminated brightly by our party and our candidates thus ensuring not just a victory, but a mandate for conservative governance.

Karen and I know firsthand how difficult the campaign trail can be particularly as governor Romney faces relentless attacks from the democrats. We have been praying for him and his family and will continue to do so in the weeks and months ahead.

Thank you again for all you have done for us, and I look forward to working together to defeat President Obama this fall and to protect faith, family, freedom and opportunity in America.

With Gratitude,

Rick Santorum

by @ 12:00 am. Filed under Endorsements, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum

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…
(more…)

April 11, 2012

Santorum Has Already Discussed 2016 Run

The Hill has the scoop:

A senior aide to Rick Santorum said Tuesday that the former Pennsylvania senator had already had discussions about a 2016 presidential bid.

Hogan Gidley, Santorum’s national communications director, was asked by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews whether the Santorum team was already considering a 2016 run.

“I’m not going to say we haven’t talked about it, of course, you look and you say what are you going to do in the future … a lot of people said ‘prepare for 2016,’ ” Gidley said.

Some political observers have hypothesized that Santorum chose to exit the race before the Pennsylvania primary to preserve his standing in the party — and avoid an embarrassing home-state loss.

All I can say is, “Good luck with that, Senator!” in a field which may consist of such conservative luminaries as Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Nikki Haley, Governor Mike Pence, and Rand Paul – among many others.

Be sure to read the full story here.

by @ 3:00 am. Filed under Rick Santorum

April 10, 2012

Mr. Santorum Withdraws. What’s Next?

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

by @ 6:15 pm. Filed under 2012 Misc., Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum

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