I have heard recently several conservative commentators marvel about how Newt has risen to the top and stayed there and how Mitt has never gotten over 30%. It shouldn’t be a surprise. I explained it all months ago. I’ve said as long ago as this that Mitt is in deep trouble. He looked pretty good when there were six candidates splitting the other 70% of the vote and 40% were still undecided. But Romney has always only appealed to fiscal conservatives. He coasted through the first several months of this election and many in the establishment, now including George Will and Ann Coulter, assumed that his steadiness and assumed front runner status had something to do with him being the best candidate.
So can Romney win? What about Paul and his recent rise in the polls? Does he have a shot? Here is a strategic look at where the candidates stand right now.
Newt has managed to be that candidate who attracts social and fiscal conservatives. It is his nomination to lose. So far he has handled attacks perfectly. Consider Nancy Pelosi’s claim that if he runs she will have a field day spreading every secret from his ethics investigation. How does he respond? By stating that out of 84 counts, 83 were dismissed and the 84th was a simple mistake he made and how if Nancy Pelosi is willing to spread secrets from the ethics committee investigation that proves just how corrupt she was in that investigation. That’s Newt 2, Pelosi 0. Those type of responses will continue to bolster him.
Next, he has to keep making speeches like he did to the Republican Jewish Coalition. Newt showed the intelligence and wit that makes conservatives like me giddy about him opposing Obama. Newt has to keep running on those ideas, setting the record straight, and not going after fellow Republicans who attack him. I think he slipped up a little when he said Bachmann is factually challenged. Newt’s message has to stay positive and focused on undoing and being the opposite of Obama.
As I said before, Romney’s only prayer in this race is to come out strongly to the social conservative side in a big, public way. Maybe he needs to go protest in front of an abortion clinic, spend some of his Newt attack ad money on an ad clearly denouncing Obama for making bibles illegal at some military hospitals, or something like that. Romney will never win this election with only DC establishment backing and fiscal conservatives. Right now he barely has better electability to run on. And the attacks from his surrogates are easily being linked back to him. His smooth Reaganesque style and kindness on the debate trail is getting ugly with people like George Will calling his opponents book selling charlatans and Ann Coulter accusing Newt Gingrich of wanting to do something similar to teaching school kids how to masturbate. None of this reflects well on Romney.
Romney has to do very well in this next debate at highlighting better ideas, but definitely smaller government ideas. Newt tends to talk about ideas that he could not do as President but would help the country. Romney needs to jump on that and be the smaller government alternative. Romney needs to win the 10th amendment fight in this next debate, while still appearing to be a stronger social conservative than everyone thinks he is.
Paul’s biggest liability is himself. His second biggest liability is his supporters. One of the reasons Ron Paul hasn’t gotten higher in the polls is that people don’t want to support him if they think he is their enemy. Paul has worked very hard to make himself the enemy of anyone he considers to his left. In the debates he comes across as abrasive and angry. His pet issues cloud many great issues that most conservatives would agree with him on. Hint hint, Ron Paul, constitutionalists want to like you. But when I sit there and think about my life, I really can’t think of what I did to cause 9/11 or why terrorists can kill Americans because of Jimmy Carter’s foolish foreign policy and what every President has done since then.
Part of Paul’s problem is that his foreign policy approach reflects history, but not reality. Paul can pontificate all he wants on how we got here, but most conservatives don’t like his solution for how we get home. In a quick draw, when you drop your gun turn around and walk away, Bin Laden types usually just shoot you in the back. Who cares if it’s your fault you got in that situation in the first place. Personally, I don’t want to be shot in the back.
Ron Paul was his best this year when he was talking about domestic policy and when he showed even an ounce of grace in the debates towards his fellow Republicans. One last thing, Paul will never win over conservatives with his states rights approach to abortion. No true pro-lifer is going to vote for a guy who is going to ensure that abortion stays legal in most of the states.
Perry really needs to reassess his chances. His only shot is a good showing in Iowa, as in 2nd place or better. He needs to nail every debate going forward. Perry needs a “My Fair Lady” transformation. For starters, he can learn how to pronounce Nukuler.
His ideas are not bad. His tenth amendment stance is very good. But he has a lot of competition among candidates who are pro-tenth amendment, and his HPV vaccine debacle ruins his credibility on personal freedom.
Huntsman could easily be in the 2012 Presidential race. All he has to do is switch parties. I’m being completely serious. Jon Huntsman could guarantee that Obama does not have another four years by changing to Democrat and running against Obama in the 2012 primary as a moderate. Of course, he would have to kneel before Pelosi/Reid to get the necessary credibility.
In order for Bachmann to win, two things have to happen. First, Obama has to get so low in the polls and believe it or not do even more stupid things so that anyone could beat him (even Trump). Then, Bachmann would have to convince TEA Partiers that she is their candidate more than Newt, Perry or Santorum. Unfortunately for Bachmann, if absolutely anyone could defeat Obama and electability wasn’t an issue, there is another candidate who would still take the TEA Party vote before she would.
If the TEA Party is going to come home to anyone, it would be Rick Santorum. Get ready, it could happen in Iowa. Santorum has never been taken seriously because people doubt his electability. He lost in Pennsylvania. Of course, that year every Republican in Pennsylvania lost. Not only that, but some of our best Presidents won after losing senate races. If you listen to Newt, you know two famous historical names, Lincoln and Douglas. Did you know Lincoln’s victory was a rematch of their senate race two years before? Guess who won that senate race.
If one more star is going to rise before this primary is over, it will be Santorum and it will be because the TEA Party takes Bachmann’s advice and says screw electability. If that happens, Santorum has to be ready for the vetting process with ideas that will knock our socks off and make Romney and Newt look like morons. Santorum has to not be George Bush II on the war and he has to convince fiscal conservatives that he can get spending under control. He also has to convince libertarians that he will stay out of their homes. That’s a tall order for Santorum.
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