Santorum’s Campaign Against Himself

Bookmark and ShareBeing a political junkie I do spend time checking out the campaigns of any and all candidates I can manage to follow in local, state and federal races. It’s not necessarily the politics I enjoy as much as the campaigns themselves. I enjoy strategizing and predicting where, why and what candidates do or will do in their campaigns. I even follow those from the “D” word persuasion. As they say, know thy enemy.

There are moves that baffle pundits and followers alike in each and every campaign. No candidate is above or beyond making a move or even a gaffe now and then that leave some scratching their heads in disbelief. As the 2012 GOP candidates rumble through what has been a very tough primary process so far there is one candidate that has stood out to me, at least the past couple of weeks, as being stuck in a perpetual ‘WTF?’ moment. That man is former PA Senator Rick Santorum.

The first issue the Senator got caught up in is what I like to refer to as the social issue wheel of doom. If it was intentional on the part of the Obama administration and the Democrats is up in the air (as a campaign junkie I would like to believe it was intentional) but Santorum took the bait hook, line and sinker. Don’t get me wrong, social issues are important to the Republican base. They are especially important to the evangelical portion of that base to which the Senator appears to be the favored candidate. A base that is well aware of the Senator’s stances on all of the social issues they hold dear. It is because of that that I am baffled as to why a candidate with the experience of Rick Santorum would let himself get caught in the social issue whirlpool? He doesn’t have to convince the part of the GOP base that is concerned with social issues that he is their man. There may be a few Newt supporters out there that he can try and turn but if social issues were number one with them they probably have already moved to the Senator’s camp. The only thing getting into a discussion about Rick Santorum’s stance on social issues can do is turn off the independent voter that any nominee will need to beat the President in November.

Again, I state that social issues are important in any GOP primary. But doesn’t the Senator already have that vote locked in? Wouldn’t he be better served to go after the moderate republicans who are more concerned with fiscal issues and the size of government than to be preaching to the choir who has already named him choir leader? Recent Rassmussen polling has him behind Obama by 2 points nationally while rivals Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, yes Ron Paul, were polling up on Obama.

Although I disagree on many things with the Senator he does have some ideas that would 100% be better than the solutions, or lack thereof, being offered by the current Democrat administration. Every candidate in the GOP field would be light years better than what we have now. What I want in the GOP nominee is someone who can go head to head with the machine that will be the Obama campaign come November. In all fairness the Senator has stated that simply because he holds a personal belief, does not mean he will force that belief on the American people if elected President. I believe him. However in the soundbite world in which we live that information will not be stated or considered by the general electorate and most certainly not by his opponent. In an era of bumper sticker campaigns it is probably not a good idea, fair or not, to allow bumper stickers to hold your personal belief on the case of rape and abortion. The “JFK’s separation of church and state speech made Rick Santorum throw up” t-shirt will probably be a good seller at the Democrat convention.

The social issue wheel of doom aside what seemed to get the ire of even the social base Republicans was his Michigan robo calls for the Democrat vote. In watching the Senator’s Facebook pages and posts today he has been catching the normal flack from the Romney, Paul and Gingrich supporters but what surprised me was the blowback that was there from those that seemed to be supporters (or former as some pointed out) of the Senator. Now I am aware that I said he needs to reach out to the moderates to win in November. However, in reaching out to the Democrats he handed Mitt Romney the steering wheel of his campaign. I mean in all honesty when Michael Moore comes out and says he is going to vote for you so Romney doesn’t win…..you just kicked yourself in the proverbial junk. Romney’s people are already printing posters which point out that the Democrats are scared of him. Scared enough to vote for Rick Santorum who they feel will be an easy win for Barack Obama.

And after the social issue wheel of doom I fear they will be right. And Rick Santorum has no one to blame but his campaign against himself.

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The GOP Debate Gauntlet – Deciding The Nominee Or Face Time For Media Hounds?

Bookmark and ShareAs GOP primary voters wind down to the last couple of months before the selection process of a nominee begins there has certainly been no shortage of opportunity for the top polling candidates to get their message out.

Is it me or is there a GOP presidential debate every week?

For political junkies it is a fantastic schedule. The candidates squaring off on our tv’s, the trip up’s and slip up’s, the scolding of the media, the embellishing of records and the bickering about who has the biggest…….plan. All kidding aside there have been a few bright moments and some instances where policy has been articulated well to allow the voters to hear and decide who the best candidate would be to put the country back on the right track.

But does the grueling debate schedule also serve another purpose?

Lets be honest here, there are candidates whose funding, message and 15 minutes have dried up during the process but yet they remain there, on the stage, for nothing more than a little self promotion and face time. To steal a quote from ESPN’s weekly blooper segment: “C’Mon Man!”.

Michele Bachmann came out like a lion and is leaving like a lamb. Winning the Iowa straw poll gave her some hope but realistically the big dogs had yet to get on the porch in Iowa at the time. Although she has had some good moments in the debates her chances are slim to none. 28 foster children is admirable but repeating it time after time to people who want to know what you are going to do to help the job market won’t help a withering campaign bank account. Sorry congresswoman but after Iowa it may be time to sit down and pen that book you seem to be promoting. Get off the stage

Rick Santorum has spent a ton of time and money in Iowa. He has spent enough time in Iowa that he may have to file his state tax return in the Hawkeye state. Despite his near residency he is still polling at or near the bottom in the state that kicks off the election cycle. That alone should be enough to tell the former Pennsylvania Senator that it may be time to hang it up. In a socially conservative state, the socially conservative candidate has not been able to gain traction. Not a good sign. He has performed well in the debates don’t get me wrong but if he can’t get off the ground in Iowa he isn’t getting off the ground at all. Especially after all of the effort he has put into it. If he is staying in for VP consideration or to gain viewers for a new Fox News show is unclear but staying in to win is not an option at this point. Your best in Iowa was not good enough. Get off the stage.

Jon Huntsman has also not made any major gaffes in the debate cycle but has yet to make a name for himself in a muddled field. China this, China that. Pointing to his foreign policy experience should be an asset to Huntsman but instead has made him seem like a 1 trick pony. Throw that in with his time in the Obama administration and although it may be unfair, he comes off to the everyday voter as Obama’s China guy and using the words Obama and China in the same sentence doesn’t bode well with GOP voters at the moment. Noting your experience with China every time you get a chance to speak however may land you a spot in the next GOP administration but other than that there is no reason for Huntsman to remain in. Get off the stage.

Ron Paul has been polling well. That is to say better than he has in past presidential primaries. However even his supporters, of which I am one, realize his chances of winning a GOP nomination are almost non-existent. His values are more Libertarian than Republican, everyone knows it and he is unapologetic for it. Some of the ideas he was ostracized for in past primaries have become GOP rallying calls but it still doesn’t hide the fact that he simply is not what GOP voters are looking for. He is still raising enough money and polling well enough to stay in the race but is he going to stay in to win or to gain a national stage for his Libertarian philosophy? I think everyone with an ounce of sense knows it is the latter. He would do much better as a 3rd party candidate and would in the end probably help the GOP nominee by siphoning some of Obama’s more fiscally responsible but socially liberal supporters from the President. It pains me to say it but Dr. Paul – Get off the (GOP) stage.

Rick Perry is a car wreck on the side of the highway. It is very difficult to watch but you can’t help yourself from wanting to take a peek. Gaffe after gaffe has made him the poster boy for SNL skits. Couple that with a very poor decision to pick a fight with Mitt Romney in which he got his rear end handed to him and you have a flash in the pan campaign that started like it was shot out of a cannon and then exploded before it made impact with anything. debates are not Perry’s strong suit. Unfortunately for him there are a bunch of them. Another Fox News gig in the wings? He does have great hair. Governor, Get off the stage.

Hopefully these candidates will see the light after Iowa and bow out gracefully. They have nothing but a prayer of winning the GOP nomination and if they truly wan to show fiscal responsibility will quit wasting their donors money trying to do so. There will probably be a couple that remain in until the coffers run empty simply for self promotion and grandeur, but that’s what we get for scheduling this many debates.

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A Two Horse Race

Bookmark and ShareWith the 3rd major Republican primary debate in the books there are 2 candidates whom have begun to distance themselves from the pack. Mitt Romney looked and sounded presidential as he took shots from and at the man who has unseated him as the early polling frontrunner, Texas governor Rick Perry. Perry was the self described ‘pinata’ as he wore the target as the newest candidate and he did not disappoint, handling well the shots coming at him as well as throwing some shots towards his main opponent.

There were other candidates on the stage but the debate quickly became the Romney/Perry show.

Rick Santorum didn’t do anything to hurt himself but certainly didn’t help himself either. He looked as if he were either miffed that the debate was becoming about the 2 top candidates or that he had just sucked on a lemon. Newt, always the smartest guy in the room, had some good answers but again went after the record of the media instead of the records of his opponents. Michelle Bachmann didn’t have the opportunity that she did in the first two debates to showcase her TEA party credentials and didn’t do anything to stand out. She has simply been overshadowed by the entrance of Perry. Herman Cain stuck to his buisness leader guns but is quickly fading away as he fails to have the power or ability to shine above the other candidates. Jon Huntsman was doing a good job until he got led into his global warming stance which is a quick turn off for most GOP primary voters. Ron Paul did something he normally shy’s away from and took some shots at fellow Texan Perry but again fell prey to his lack of communication skills and undoubtedly hurt the small amount of momentum he gained in Iowa.

In my opinion Romney looked more presidential, whatever that means, and remained calm and well spoken. Romney deserves the win in the 1st head to head showdown between himself and Rick Perry. Perry handled the expected barrage of shots across his bow from his opponents and came out strong in the beginning. As the debate went on Perry seemed to fade and Romney still stood out. Perry also made some bulletin board comments that his opponents, and especially liberals, will pin up and go after every time he speaks. For that he gets the 2nd place finish. The polls in the next week will be interesting. Will Perry hold onto his entering momentum….or will Romney have gained back the spot he has held since the beginning?

It would be hard pressed for any conservative who is voting Republican to deny that after this debate there are 2 candidates that distanced themselves from the rest. Mitt Romney and Rick Perry.

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The Disadvantage of Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann

Bookmark and ShareThe debt. The deficit. The debt ceiling. Default. Social security checks. Medicare payments. Balanced Budgets. Tax increases. Gang of six. Cut, Cap and Balance. Headlines all in the past week. Headlines that, for the most part, the Republican candidates for President have been able to take a stand on without actually having to take a solid position. That is unless you are Ron Paul or Michele Bachmann, the 2 candidates who are sitting members of the House Of Representatives.

2012 GOP Presidential leader and former MA Governor Mitt Romney has stated that “The answer for the country is for the president to agree to cut federal spending, to cap federal spending and to put in place a balanced budget amendment.” “If the president were to do those things, this whole debt issue would disappear.” He has declined to say whether he would support a compromise.

Former MN Governor Tim Pawlenty said in Iowa this week, “Eventually you run out of money, but what you do is you buy yourself a bunch of time to have the debate about real reform.” A vague statement but one that allows him to offer an opinion without having to land solidly behind a plan.

Paul and Bachmann however are forced, through their House seats, to vote for or against the actual plans. They are not afforded the luxury to simply make broad statements without taking a position that the other candidates are. Both Paul and Bachmann were also among the nine House Republicans who voted Tuesday night against the ‘cut, cap and balance’ bill that would reduce 2012 spending by more than $100 billion, cap it over the next decade and prohibit more government borrowing until Congress passes a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. Harry Reid has vowed it will not pass the Senate and the President has vowed to veto it if it does.

Ron Paul said it wouldn’t live up to it’s promises, passing the cuts off for years and Bachmann said it didn’t go far enough to cut spending.

So are candidates that hold seats in Congress at a disadvantage when it comes to being able to use the rhetoric on an issue? Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who was a top economic policy adviser to Republican Party presidential nominee John McCain in 2008 but not aligned with any of the contenders this time around stated, “What they would like to have is the issue and that’s the difference between them and the congressional leaders. They need an issue. The congressional leaders need a result.”

We will see in the coming days and months leading up to the Iowa caucus if the other candidates try to pull the votes of Paul and Bachmann into the fray. While the other candidates can rely on rhetoric and easily take the stance that the polls dictate are popular, sitting members of Congress have to take a solid stand on the bills before them. A disadvantage for sure in a large candidate field with a mere 2 current legislators in it’s ranks.

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Is Eric Cantor Out Leading The Leaders?

Bookmark and ShareAs debt ceiling talks heat up I have been asking myself, “Self, who is leading the charge with the conservative message?” Speaker of the House John Boehner certainly has been spending a lot of time with the President. What he has been doing however is not making public those discussions. Do Republicans want secret meetings behind closed doors with President Obama? Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has kept mostly silent until recently when he laid out a plan that led most of his own party to question his sanity if only temporarily. Most of the 2012 candidates have weighed in as well with the line mostly being that those in Congress need to stand firm against tax increases but few have laid out actual plans of their own. The leader that has emerged in the debt ceiling talks has beenHouse majority leader Eric Cantor.

As Speaker Boehner and minority leader McConnell play nice with the White House in trying to reach an agreement, House majority leader Cantor has been outspoken and brash in, as the President himself stated, “calling his bluff.” Far from being politically correct Cantor has emerged as the voice of the GOP during the debt ceiling debate. One reason is his seemingly fearless disposition for going straight to the media after each and every closed door meeting at the White House. Whether the other leaders in the GOP like it or not, Eric Cantor has become the voice the public hears when they want to know what happened during the closed door discussions with the most ‘transparent’ administration ever. When McConnell unveiled his plan Cantor was the first face on the tv screen rejecting it followed by almost the entire Republican party. To the casual observer, who looked like he was in control? It wasn’t Mitch McConnell.

His un-PC ways have made him the poster child for the media in trying to paint the GOP as being, in the words of Senate majority leader Harry Reid “childish’. But in a political environment in which the GOP has come to rely on the votes of the TEA party followers to put them over the top, Cantor’s attitude may be what they need to pull in the support for their debt plans, whatever they may be. The TEA party followers are fed up with the spending and dead set against any tax hikes. They don’t trust the establishment and Cantor is positioning himself as the anti-establishment guy in these talks. Balking at the establishment by making public every thing that is happening during the discussions at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. He is also incurring the wrath of the major Democrat players including the big kahuna himself, President Obama.

Depending upon which version you believe, Obama either stormed out of the talks upset at Cantor’s stubbornness and constant interrupting every time tax increases were brought up or he dressed down the House majority leader and left. Knowing President Obama’s famously thin skin and Cantor’s increasing lack of fear of the bully pulpit, I tend to believe that Eric Cantor “called the bluff”.

As a libertarian leaning fiscal conservative I don’t agree with Eric Cantor all of the time. I do however recognize and appreciate leadership when it comes from unlikely places. Although he won’t run for the White House in 2012 (can you say VP pick?) let me be the first to say, before Anthony begins work on White House 2016 should Obama be re-elected, that Eric Cantor would be one of the 1st names I would toss in the ring.

If Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer dislike you…….you’re ok with me.

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No Guts….No Glory (A Tribute To Dennis Miller)

Bookmark and ShareWith all due respect to Congresswoman Bachmann – Does anyone in the current GOP Presidential field have a pair?

For a second it appeared as if former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty did. That was until the debate in New Hampshire where T-Paw turned into T-Aww as he failed to follow up on the opening he himself created with his coining of the term “Obamaney Care” just the day prior to the debate. He looked as if he were the guy that was talking about how bad he would beat up the schoolyard bully and then realized the bully was standing behind him the entire time as he was asked if he would like to follow up on his term while the former MA Governor was standing there. Was the question intended to bait Pawlenty into a battle with Romney? Sure it was but if you don’t want a door open don’t put your foot in it. As I watched the remainder of the debate the question I wanted asked was “Do any of you actually WANT to win?”.

Before you are allowed to run against President Obama you have to defeat each other.

The field stood in unison against President Obama and the Democrats. They all gave safe answers and didn’t have much to say about each other as they attacked the President’s policies. In my eyes..they all said the same thing on almost every issue except for Ron Paul who seemed to ignore some of the questioning all together in an attempt to show his Libertarian views. Even as he tried to differentiate himself, Paul failed to make a move to point out the short falls of his opponents. It was like watching a family reunion where everyone was waiting for the drunk uncle to start a fight over who gets the last Pabst Blue Ribbon but never does.

This is a primary fight people. Grow a pair!

If I wanted to see my candidates make love not war and sing kumbaya I would go sit outside the Democrat National Convention in a drum circle with the peace, love and hippie crowd. Mitt Romney’s campaign team must have had Joker perma-grin for 2 days afterwards. He went in as the polling favorite with very little effort on his part to that point and came out unscathed even on the eve of ‘T-Paw’ tying him up to Obama like Sean Connery to Harrison Ford in the fire scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Obama is a former constitutional law professor. Although he obviously doesn’t know much about that he does know how to run a campaign. Maybe he can help the Republican’s by telling them that they are running against each other and not him……yet.

So far Michelle Bachmann is the only woman running. But she is not the only candidate without a pair of cajones. On that issue she has much company.

If you are afraid to campaign against each other, how do you plan on beating one of the most well oiled campaign machines in modern history? Driving in the Partridge Family bus isn’t going to cut it. Unless Danny Bonaduce starts running your campaigns.

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Tim Pawlenty: ” I Would Sign Paul Ryan’s Medicare Plan”

Bookmark and ShareOn ABC’s “This Week” former Minnesota Governor and Republican presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty addressed his stance on the budget changes to privatize Medicare proposed by the House of Representatives and backed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

“If the only choices were doing nothing like President Obama is doing and Paul Ryan’s plan, I’d sign it,” Pawlenty stated. Without going into specifics the former Minnesota Governor also said he would do some things differently from Ryan’s plan such as ” address Social Security”. During a stop in Iowa on Monday the GOP presidential hopeful told a group at Point of Grace Church Waukee that another change he would make to Ryan’s plan would be to change the way providers are paid by including ‘performance pay’ into the plan.

With the field slowly taking shape, a couple of major players deciding against a 2012 bid and others not yet making a decision at all, Pawlenty could stand to make gains if he connects with the electorate on the big issues. Advocating Ryan’s plan while adding some issues of his own may be what he needs to grab some support from a GOP voting base who has yet to find a candidate to get behind. It may also help Pawlenty cozy up to the TEA party voters who advocate budget and entitlement cuts. Although some in TEA party voters don’t feel Ryan’s proposal goes far enough, adding a few extra’s such as performance based pay and Social Security reform could be what Pawlenty needs to show he is willing to expand on those issues.

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