August 25, 2015

Rumor Mill: The Three Faction GOP Battle

  11:30 am

No hard sources on this one, just whispers, rumors, and rumblings… hence the Rumor Mill tag. Take it all with a grain of salt, but I found it incredibly fascinating… We’ve covered bits of this before here at Race, but never to this depth.

When Mitt Romney declined to enter the Race 4 2016, he did so because he had what he believed to be a plan that would help the Republican Party regain not only the White House, but the popularity they had lost with the public recently as well. Romney identified at least three key problems when he lost in 2008 and 2012, and he is known in the business world for learning from his problems and not repeating mistakes. He was eager to use those lessons to catapult a Republican into the Oval Office and the GOP back into the American people’s good graces.

In 2008, Romney learned the value of political alliances. Romney was hated on a visceral level by everyone else in the GOP field that year. Stories abound about Fred Thompson, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, and Mike Huckabee, give or take one or two of them, hanging out in the green room before a debate or in a restroom during a break, laughing and joking with one another; Romney would walk in, and the room would get quiet. Romney was despised because of his tactics: he attempted to rise to the top by bringing others down, and he earned no friends along the way because of it. Eventually, he was forced to fight a two-front war against Huckabee and McCain, who had teamed up against him, with Giuliani as a proxy still working against Romney from the sidelines.

In 2012, then, Romney set out to make friends (and politically beneficial alliances) with his opponents. Bachmann and Cain quickly signed on, and even though there was nothing reciprocated with either Pawlenty or Huntsman, Romney decided early on to never hit back against their attacks (i.e. “Obamneycare”). Of course, there were three candidates who created a different alliance against Romney – Perry, Gingrich, and Santorum – and the three of the them caused Romney massive headaches both in the primary and in the general. But the friendly alliance angle helped tremendously (lesson number one). Romney saw lesson number two shortly thereafter: if the GOP had only coalesced around their sure-to-be nominee more quickly (instead of having Gingrich and Santorum hanging around damaging him when they had little to no chance of winning), he could have entered the general election in a much stronger position.

In the general election campaign, Romney learned lesson number three when his hardline stance on immigration — especially his “self-deportation” line — and his complete lack of meaningful minority outreach came back to haunt him. Romney has stated in numerous interviews since 2012 that his biggest mistake and regret in that election was his approach to minorities in general, and specifically to Hispanics and Latinos. If he had it to do all over again, that is the first and biggest thing Romney would change.

Many people think Romney was on the brink of doing it all over again by running for a third time in 2016. But even when that did cross his mind, he became convinced early on that it would never work. His old words, stances, and weaknesses would weigh him and his party down. The temptation to go on the national stage and point out that he was right about pretty much everything during the 2012 election surely would have been strong, but Romney understood that if the GOP was to regain the White House, it would have to be a fresh face to lead them there.

So Romney began carefully hatching a plan. He would play kingmaker, but not for his sake — for the sake of the nation he truly cares about. Romney had a goal: assemble an alliance of mainstream Republican candidates to wage a positive campaign, ultimately present a fantastic candidate to the U.S. people, and to coalesce quickly around that candidate once he or she was chosen. (As an added side benefit, the plan would also ensure candidates like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul would not get the nomination.) Romney slowly began reaching out to various potential candidates to see if they might be interested in forming this friendly political alliance.

Eventually, a handful of candidates were on board. Christie, Fiorina, Walker, Graham, and Rubio formed an informal alliance. It is important to note that none of them gave up their own desire to be president by agreeing to be allies; it was understood that everyone would campaign as hard as they wanted to and strive to be the nominee themselves, but in so doing they would refrain from attacking one another. They would be off limits to each other and help each other, treating one another essentially like Romney, Bachmann, and Cain treated one another four year ago. And when one of them did drop out, they all agreed to support the strongest candidate from their group in order to help everyone coalesce around them quickly (thus avoiding unnecessary damage to the nominee in a prolonged primary).

The allies understood what they were up against: Jeb Bush and the old GOP establishment. Hundreds of millions of dollars and an unmatched political pedigree would be backing Jeb in this contest. But with Romney’s “new establishment” of donors and politicians, and the six of them teaming up and backing one another, they felt like they had a chance against him. Specifically, they calculated (correctly, so far) that Jeb would play the role of 2008 Romney: isolated, generally distrusted and disliked among the field.

Of course, after it became evident that Jeb was going to run, Romney tried to onboard Bush and asked him to join their group. Many pundits assumed when Jeb and Mitt met in Utah last January that they were two goliaths both wanting to enter the race. The conventional wisdom was that after a political staring contest, Romney blinked and backed out, allowing Jeb to run. In reality, by the time that meeting had taken place, Romney had already decided not to run. The meeting was an attempt to get Jeb to not run, or, short of that, to join the team. Jeb refused, for obvious reasons: it was his turn to be president, and he had the money and the backing to do it. He wasn’t going to give up this opportunity to do this his way.

One week after that Utah meeting with Jeb, Romney announced publicly he wasn’t running. Three days later, Romney ate dinner with Chris Christie and signed him onto the team. It is also no coincidence that the rumors Marco Rubio would enter the race began swirling right around the time of that Jeb/Mitt meeting as well. The pieces were slowly falling into place.

When John Kasich finally decided to enter the race in June, Romney saw another opportunity for an ally and invited him to lunch to get him on board. It is, again, no coincidence that Romney and Kasich had lunch at Romney’s home just two days after the Ohio Governor declared his candidacy. Kasich was receptive to the idea and grew the alliance to six members. Again, no requirement was made to give up his own desire for the nomination, but Kasich agreed not to attack the other five, and to throw his support behind the strongest of the six if he did drop out.

Here, it is important to note that the members of this group never pledged to support a specific candidate if/when they dropped out — just that they would all throw their support to the candidate who looked to be the strongest and had the greatest likelihood of winning the nomination. While that is true, Romney certainly has his favorite from the six – Marco Rubio – a view shared by at least one other on the team (Lindsey Graham). However, Romney has been very careful not to impose his preference on anyone else in the group. For all the work to form alliances and strike deals, this is still a process in which campaigns must be waged, strength must be proven, and – most importantly of all – voters must cast votes. This was not a ruse to get Rubio the nomination, it was a plan to present the strongest nominee possible to the American voters for November 2016. This is why, for instance, Romney invited the entire group to his E2 Summit so they could meet and woo hundreds of his top donors from the 2012 campaign. The donors were not encouraged to support a specific candidate, but they were strongly encouraged to support someone from within that group.

While this team of upstarts was stretching their legs, another alliance was forming that we just learned about last week: that of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. While Romney’s plan took into account an eventual challenge from the Tea Party/grassroots wing of the party, it did not account for the strength of Donald Trump (how could it have?) or the fact that he would team up with a Tea Party candidate to strengthen his position even further. And so at this moment, rather than viewing this race as a campaign between seventeen candidates, we should instead be viewing it as a race between three factions: Jeb Bush (with the support of the old GOP establishment), Romney and the alliance of the six (with the support of the new GOP establishment), and Trump/Cruz (with the support of the Tea Party and grassroots).

This means the other candidates are, for the most part, left out in the cold. The three currently warring factions represent nine of the seventeen candidates; a quick glance at the remaining eight shows not much to fear electorally speaking: Pataki, Perry, Jindal, Huckabee, Santorum, Gilmore, Paul, and Carson. With the possible exception of Carson, who is being wooed by the Trump/Cruz faction right now (and may have been successfully wooed, given his recent comments about running mates and drone strikes to stop illegals), none of them have a legitimate shot at the nomination. (Even though Carson’s easygoing and quiet demeanor doesn’t seem to fit with Trump and Cruz at first blush, he would actually strengthen their identity as a team of outsiders. With Walker stumbling, it’s looking more likely that one of those three will win Iowa.)

As of now, we have Bush vs. Christie/Fiorina/Walker/Graham/Kasich/Rubio vs. Trump/Cruz/(possibly Carson). The old, versus the new, versus the outsiders. Watch as alliances are strengthened, tested, expanded, and leveraged in the weeks and months to come. Once we understand the race from this perspective, it helps explain candidate behavior and actions, and gives insight into the headlines of the campaign. It also helps us ask the correct questions in order to better understand the race – and shows why all the “Romney is thinking about jumping in again!” rumors are nonsense. Romney and his team (Fehrnstrom, Zwick, Weber, Gage, et al) are busy not coordinating a third Romney run, but helping the team of six and developing a strategy to ensure one of the other two factions does not end up on top when this race is over.

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June 9, 2015

Bush Shakes Up Campaign Staff

  7:12 am

imgresAfter a 6-month exploratory phase has left Jeb Bush flush with cash but sinking in early state polls, the former Florida governor has reshuffled his political team just one week ahead of his official campaign launch.

Dave Kochel, the top Iowa operative successfully wooed away from Mitt Romney’s camp, moved to Miami to serve as campaign manager.  Instead, Danny Diaz, a hard-charging consultant, will take the job, hoping to refocus the flagging Bush effort to establish himself ahead of his rivals. Kochel was informed of the change just one week ago.

The campaign reshuffling comes amid reports that Bush, who long suggested he’d run a “joyful” campaign, is preparing a bare-knuckle negative campaign to tear down his chief rivals. Sally Bradshaw, Bush’s longtime adviser and former Chief-of-Staff, cited the gains of Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Marco Rubio as particularly worrisome.

For their part, the Bush team has denied any internal strife, claiming Diaz and Kochel are both well suited to their respective roles. The campaign also claimed they’ve raised more than $100 million in the first 6 months, a figure they’ve shied away from but are now embracing amid reports of donor angst and staff struggles.

Still, Bush is facing a tougher race than he ever expected, and this last minute change signals both an awareness of the difficulty he faces and a struggle to find a path forward against a group of younger, more exciting opponents than confronted by establishment frontrunners of the past.

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May 1, 2013

RUMOR: Ted Cruz Considering Presidential Run

  9:20 am

Robert Costa has the scoop:

Freshman senator Ted Cruz is considering a presidential run, according to his friends and confidants.

Cruz won’t talk about it publicly, and even privately he’s cagey about revealing too much of his thought process or intentions. But his interest is undeniable.

“If you don’t think this is real, then you’re not paying attention,” says a Republican insider. “Cruz already has grassroots on his side, and in this climate, that’s all he may need.”

“There’s not a lot of hesitation there,” adds a Cruz donor who has known the Texan for decades. “He’s fearless.”

Read the full story here.

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December 4, 2012

Fox News and General Petraeus

  10:35 am

There is a rather interesting article in today’s Washington Post by none other than Bob Woodward that details a conversation between General David Petraeus and Fox News contributor Kathleen T. (Troia) McFarland back in 2011.  Woodward’s piece also contains a digital audio record of the conversation in which Ms. McFarlan tells Petraeus that the Fox News head, Roger Ailes and uber-boss Rupert Murdoch, wanted him to run for president in 2012 and that they would bank roll and run the campaign.  The Woodward revelation is offered here without assessment or comment [other than to say that I had some interaction with Ms. (Troia) McFarland during the Reagan Administration].   Race readers can draw their own conclusions concerning its significance, especially the concept of news organizations attempting to recruit presidential candidates.

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October 23, 2012

Trump’s October Surprise Revealed?

  6:46 pm

According to New York Magazine, The Donald’s “October Surprise” is divorce papers which were drawn up for the Obama’s but never filed:

For a while today, it seemed like Donald Trump’s “big … very big … very big” bombshell revelation about President Obama, which he has promised to unveil on Twitter tomorrow, might be an anonymous rumor that Obama sold cocaine in college, but Trump’s right-hand man, Michael Cohen, has denied it. Trump’s scoop is “substantially more important to the American people,” Cohen told Daily Caller. Or … is it?

Douglas Kass, a Florida-based investor who appears on CNBC’s talkshow ‘Squawkbox’ where Trump is often a commentator, tweeted to his 48,000 followers: ‘High above the Alps my Gnome has heard that Donald Trump will announce that he has unearthed divorce papers between the Prez and his wife.’

There is no mention as to why the Obama’s would have supposedly considered divorce.

Take this with about a truck load of salt, OK…

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September 28, 2012

Counting Chickens

  7:46 pm

A lot of Republicans have become alarmed in recent days, and a lot of Democrats elated, by media and poll reports showing Barack Obama with a growing lead in the presidential race. These reports, and their conclusions are based almost entirely on poll results, most of which are plainly (and transparently) overweighted with Democratic voters (weighting based on 2008 turnout). There is no indication whatsoever, even by the most optimistic partisan analysts that the turnout in 2012 will resemble 2008. If anything, it is much more likely to resemble 2010 when the voter intensity was on the Republican side.

There is a double edge to the consequences of these faulty polls. The intended consequence is to demoralize Republicans and conservatives, and to stampede undecided and independent voters to the liberal side. The unintended consequence, however, might well be to make Democratic voters overconfident and to diminish their energy in the remaining days of the campaign.

As I have pointed out many times. pollsters can “play around” with the numbers, either out of bias or ignorance, rather freely when the election is many months or weeks away. Sheer self-interest and survival instincts reduce this tendency, however, as the election itself approaches. No pollster wants to be humiliated by being on the record with a ridiculous poll just before the election.

I am speaking here of media polls, that is, polls that are conducted primarily to be very public news events. There is another kind of polling going on simultaneously by campaigns themselves, usually referred to as “internals,” which are rarely reported, but which serve as guides for candidates and their campaigns about how they are doing. These are much more expensive polls, and are weighted very realistically. No campaign is going to pay a lot of money for an internal poll that gives them a false picture.

There are many more media polls, particularly state and national ones, in 2012 than in previous cycles. The all-important sample number varies widely. The weighting (which is simply adjusting the raw results) of a poll sample by party varies even more erratically. Many pollsters and their polls are paid for a by a political party. It is clear that reporting poll numbers has become part of the “warfare’ of a political campaign. In my opinion, few polls should be taken very seriously because few polls are successfully trying to avoid the bias that comes from bad weighting, inappropriate technological inquiry procedures (such as using only land-line telephones and not cell phones), or from the statistical consequences of repeated sampling to get a response.

One of the few national polls which seems to be trying most fastidiously to reach an accurate result is Rasmussen. Their methodology seems to be the most energetic to avoid a distorted result. While Gallup and other national polls are showing a 4-6 point margin for Obama currently, Rasmussen is showing it be either an exact tie, or depending on the day, a one-point margin for either Romney or Obama. These are simultaneous polls, so someone has it wrong.

Whether or not Mr Romney has fully “sold” his point of view to voters can be debated, as can the impact of his “47%” video remarks, but there has not yet been any real evidence presented that his campaign is “falling behind.” It might be true, on election day, that he will fall short, and that Mr. Obama would be re-elected. Similarly, there is no real evidence yet that the president’s campaign is certain to fail. The presidential debates are ahead, and I suspect that they will be more significant than usual in this campaign cycle. Voters already know Mr Obama, but many do not know Mr. Romney, especially standing next to and confronting his opponent,

Finally, the current poll distortion, if it is that, offers a greater danger to the Democrats than to the Republicans. With less than six weeks to go, a mood of overconfidence, provoked by currently reported poll numbers, could easily be transformed into utter panic for Democrats, if, as election day approaches, the polls are reversed favoring the Republicans. As any experienced political observer will tell you, momentum is a huge force just before and on election day.

Every pollster, good or bad, will say that a poll is only “a snapshot in time.” But there are snapshots, and there are snapshots! That is why good cameras cost more than cheap ones.

No one should think this campaign is over, nor that it is in a final trend, nor that the information they are receiving via polls is accurate. Much more lies ahead, including most importantly, what we will see when the two presidential candidates are in front of us together.

—————————————————————————————-
Copyright (c) 2012 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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August 29, 2012

Report: Clint Eastwood Traveling to Tampa

  10:10 am

Mystery speaker revealed? Via Townhall and Hot Air:

A well-placed Republican source tells Townhall that Oscar-winning director and actor Clint Eastwood will travel to Tampa, Florida to attend Mitt Romney’s nominating convention this week.

As the news media scrambles to identify the so-called “mystery speaker” scheduled to address GOP delegates on Thursday evening, some have speculated that the iconic Hollywood figure could fit the bill. Our source — who spoke on the condition of anonymity — could not confirm if Eastwood is, in fact, the intriguing “to-be-announced” speaker, but stated unequivocally that the Dirty Harry star will arrive in Florida late on Wednesday or early on Thursday, and will return to southern California on Friday.

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July 18, 2012

VP RUMOR MILL: Pawlenty’s Website Taken Down for Updating

  10:13 am

Well, this is certainly interesting…

Visitors to www.timpawlenty.com this week only found a white screen with the message “Please come back later.” Maybe Pawlenty is relaunching his website? Or maybe the Romney camp has taken over and is rebranding it?

In this day and age, reading tea leaves has gone digital. It may be nothing – but then again, why else would Pawlenty completely take down his website and leave the tantalizing “Please come back later” up as a teaser?

Maybe the site goes live on Friday with the big “America’s Comeback Team” branding…?

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July 16, 2012

The Race 4 2012 Rumor Mill – “Back End” Edition

  5:50 pm

Just had a 3 minute convo with “The Eagle”….

July 23rd & 24th was seen to be cleared for a roll-out for VP, and for the most part they still are clear, and this was seen by The Eagle’s contacts on July 8th and was reported in The Rumor Mill on July 10th. Now The Eagle is telling me dates of July 19-20-21-22 have also been cleared….even in GOP DC land.

The Eagle told me if these cleared dates are not for a VP roll-out then Matt Rhodes should be replaced. The Eagle says the chatter is very heavy on a early roll-out because of all these cleared dates being so close to Mitt ‘s trip, and the Olympics, that if not used for a VP roll-out than the calendar is not being used to
anywhere near full capacity.

The Eagle says the dates in the campaign July 19-24 do have marks in them…but they are open in the sense that none of the VP candidates have anything scheduled on these dates,.and neither does Mitt,or Ann,or major Fundraisers,or,well,you get the point. There is nothing major that can not be changed or folded into a VP roll-out schedule on these dates.

I was thinking July 23rd and the 24th were too early, now it may be that these two dates are the back dates of the VP roll-out.
I thought “The Eagle” was jumping the gun on his July 23rd and/or 24th proclamation, but now it looks like “The Eagle” only saw part of the puzzle, or was told only part of the puzzle.

Could this be true? A VP roll-out this week? Only time will tell…

___________________________________________________________________________

-Gregory J. Flugaur can be contacted at flugempire@yahoo.com.

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July 11, 2012

The Race 4 2012 Rumor Mill – Mark These Dates on Your Calendar Edition

  2:00 am

I had dinner with “The Eagle” the other night. We talked about life while we ate some chicken wings and finished off a couple bottles of Coronas. Our conversation was brief because of family duties. But the conversation centered around July 23rd & 24th:

The Eagle: Mark these two dates down on your calendar, July 23rd & 24th.

Greg: Repeat please?

The Eagle: Mark down July 23rd and 24th. Something is going down on one of those two days. It will not happen after the 25th, because, well, it can’t.

Greg: What in the heck is this about? What is going down on the 23rd or 24th of this month?

The Eagle: I got a guy who said those two dates are clear

Greg: I have no idea what that means. Is this something about the VP pick? Is there an announcement planned on the 23rd or 24th of this month?

The Eagle: There is no way I can say anything more, because if I could, I would have told you already. But there will be something going down, something big enough on one of those two days that you know, well, you’ll just know.

Greg: Well it can’t be the VP selection because that is too early. And it doesn’t make sense because they haven’t made their decision on the VP yet. And even if they had they would not know when the roll out would be, or how it would be.

The Eagle: I have not told you that this is about the VP thing, but I can only promise you it’s of importance, and you will be very interested on what goes down on one of those two dates.

Greg: Is there some scandal going to be broken on one of those two days? Are we talking Fast & Furious stuff, like a memo, or an email is going to be produced at a Congressional hearing, or something?

The Eagle: Maybe, but all I can say it’s a planned type of thing. The thing is planned, or is in the process of being planned. Those two dates pop out because they are clear.

That’s it, that’s all I got.

I have no other details on what this July 23rd or July 24th could be all about. For many of you, this Rumor Mill will come up short. I do acknowledge that sentiment and share the same feelings. However, I could not just let this information stop with me and not have it pass on to our readers here at race42012.

Feel free to speculate on what you think The Eagle could have possibly been alluding to when stating, “Mark down July 23rd and 24th. Something is going down on one of those two days”.

But stay tuned and stay close to Race42012. Especially on those two days…

___________________________________________________________________________

-Gregory J. Flugaur can be contacted at flugempire@yahoo.com.

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