Gingrich Predicts His Own Loss in Iowa and Bachmann Hopes for a Miracle

Bookmark and Share   After more than six weeks as the candidate with the target on his back and nearly 10 million dollars in negative ads against him, New Gingrich saw his Iowa poll numbers fall from a near 30% to his current standing in the mid teens.

The loss of just about half of his support has led Newt to admit now that he is not likely to win the Iowa Caucus but at the same time, he believes that a likely third or even fourth place showing will still it make him possible for him to remain competitive beyond the Hawkeye State’s nomination contest.

That assessment is actually true, but short of a first or second place showing, Newt’s future viability will rely on two things.  First, he must hope that if Mitt Romney wins, he does not win by very much.  Then Newt must hope for a third place showing.  While a fouth place finish will not derail his candidacy, it will make fundraising and the establishment of momentum quite an uphill battle as he moves ahead.

If Newt can fisinsh third or second and keep Romney from winning by a very large margin, he will remain competetive and may be come the benefiicary of an anti-Romney phenomenom.

If opposition to Romney is as strong among conservatives as many believe, victories in Iowa and New Hampshire could finally force the anti-Romney vote to charge behind one final alternative to Romney.  Newt is in the best position to be that alternative candidate but anything less than a fourth place finish in Iowa will make that impossible.

Meanwhile Michele Bachmann says “We’re believing in a miracle because we know, I know, the one who gives miracles,” .

At Oral Roberts University, Bachmann’s alma mater she told ABC ;

“We’re going to see an astounding result on Tuesday night — miraculous,”

Current polling has apparently forced both Bachmann and Gingrich to be unconditionally honest about the results tomorrow, for under the circumstances, Bachmann does in fact need a miracle to pull off a finish above 6th place.  For Gingrich, given the nearly 41 percent of Iowa caucus goers who remain undecided on the eve of the contest, a better than expected showing is not out of the question and as a Gingrich supporter a biased optimism has me still believing that he could surprise everyone with a third or second place finish.  However, when factoring in current voter trends, Newt’s poorly run campaign and lack of an organization on the ground, along with the undeniable momentum behind Rick Santorum, logic would dictate that Newt is right.  He will not win the caucus tomorrow night.

As for the other candidates, Ron Paul is seeing the helium in his balloon be overwhelmed as the weight of the oxygen in the atmosphere surrounding the reality of his reckless national security views and general unelectability brings his number back to the floor.  In an early afternoon speech to supporters, Paul reminded his fans that the Caucus will involve small numbers of people but the message they send will be a big one and he urged his supporters to stick together and be sure to show up at their proper caucus locations.

Mitt Romney spent most of the day trying to remain focussed on the one person which unites him and his rivals together in their desire to defeat in  November…..Barack Obama.  That focus was designed to play on the perception that he is the one Republican who has the best chance of actually being the one who can defeat Obama.  The hope there is that as Romney solidifies his frontrunner status in Iowa, there is a good chance that the large undecided bloc of voters will break in his favor and provide him not only with a win, but a bigger than expected win that could make it  possible to wrap up the nomination sooner rather than later.

Rick Perry, the wildcard going in to tomorrow night, spent his time on the campaign trail trying to make sure that his supporters don’t jump ship and while trying to also give those caught up in the surge for Rick Santorum  reason to think twice about actually casting their ballots for the wrong Rick.  A new Perry ad attacks Santorum for his willingness to defend pork barrel spending.

Perry goes in to tomorrow night as the spoiler.  Between his heavy ad buy and a good deal of retail political campaigning in Iowa, he remains the one candidate left who could perform better than expected and could benefit from a surge that has gone undetected by the polls.  The strength of such an undetected surge will not be enough to allow Perry to finish in one the top two or three positions, but he could pull the type of numbers that may prevent people like Sanoturm and Gingrich from outpolling Ron Paul.

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Iowa’s Mold Breaker Might Matter

We are discovering the 2012 election cycle dynamic every day.  One thing we have learned already is that things that didn’t matter last week are crucial this week.  The thing we are learning this past week is that money matters, as Mitt Romney surrogates bought waves of negative airtime, Ron Paul bought Michele Bachmann’s Iowa campaign chairman, and Newt suddenly began to realize what a nice thing it would be to have campaign staffs, ground crews, or even counter advertising money.

To Huntsman’s dismay, we may be discovering that Iowa matters.  Let me put it this way.  If Newt Gingrich wins Iowa, it doesn’t really matter.  If Santorum wins Iowa, it will give him some false momentum but Iowa alone won’t matter.  If Bachmann wins Iowa, we will all drop our jaw and then move on with the real race.  If Paul wins Iowa, mainstream Republicans will spend the next few days complaining about how he did his usual ballot stuffing tricks, but then move on.

However, if Mitt Romney wins Iowa, that will be huge.  Iowa has typically stuck to mainstream, evangelical, more conservative than moderate candidates.  Iowa has granted hope to Mike Huckabee in recent years, and Michele Bachmann this year.  Now, with Mitt Romney leading in the polls, it appears that more conservative, evangelical voters are accepting that Romney will win the nomination.  In fact, in this case I wonder what type of dynamic Ron Paul is attributing to Romney’s rise.  Are Iowans viewing Gingrich, Perry and now even Santorum as third party spoilers?

I think with the Iowa dynamic, voters may actually prefer Santorum in the current field.  Instead, it appears that Iowa may end up being about who can beat Barack Obama, or more immediately, who can beat Ron Paul.  At any rate, if Mitt Romney wins, Iowa matters.  As McCain proved in 2008, voting for a candidate primarily because of electability is a tough paradigm to crack once it is set.

One thing is for sure.  If Romney does win in Iowa, Newt is dreaming if he thinks he can turn everything around in New Hampshire.

Lessons From History

There is a saying often attributed to Mark Twain that goes, ‘History does not repeat itself but it does rhyme.’ Any fools with a nostalgia for the late 70’s learned the truth of that in the past few years. Being President is about more than smiling and speaking in grand platitudes. It is a harsh reality of perpetual crisis both foreign and domestic – many of which the American people never really learn about unless they spin out of control.

We like to look at candidates for the office and project onto them the mantle of some previous President. It gives us a false hope of how they will handle the unknown future. Sometimes the candidates try on the mantle of a previous President themselves and try to convince us that they wear it best. Call me crazy, but Michele Bachmann doesn’t look convincing in her Reagan costume.

For all the best hopes of pundits and packaging of candidates themselves, rarely are the mantles draped upon candidates accurate. Obama is no Kennedy nor FDR as claimed in his campaign in 2008 nor a TR as he claims now. He’s a Carter. It’s no wonder he is seeking a different comparison.

The Republican field is not full of Reagans nor does it have a Jefferson or Jackson in its midst. However, if we look closely at the candidates, their records, the political reality of today and history – we may be able to figure out which President each would most likely resemble once actually in office. Here in short form is my take on who each candidate actually would be most like if elected:

Mitt Romney – Romney claims to be Reagan. Romney is not a hard core anything. He is a pragmatist. He has a track record of working across the aisle and changing his position to side with prevailing opinion. He is slick, managerial and focused more on accomplishing something than on getting what he wants. Gerald FordRomney strikes me as being most like Gerald Ford. Government would probably hit a few bumps with him in office, but he’d learn to navigate the prevailing political moods and generally make things better. He wouldn’t distinguish himself or ever really connect with the American people. Congress would get more credit for any success than he would and while no one would really hate him, few would champion him.

Newt Gingrich – Gingrich claims to be Reagan and Jackson. Newt is mercurial, knowledgeable, an insider who sees himself as an outsider, not the ally of many in his own party and has a drive to prove he is better than his reputation from Congress. He was written off by most, yet inexplicably manages to keep hanging around. Richard NixonGingrich strikes me as being most like Richard Nixon. He is likely to fight with his own party and even go against the popular will of the American public to do what he thinks is the right thing to do. He’d use use his ability to speak plainly to the people to rally just enough support to maintain his ability to assert his agenda. Yet, his insecurities and anger at a media that jabs at him would detract from an ability to even enjoy his successes. He would likely have difficulty maintaining an administrative core.

Ron Paul – Paul claims to be Jefferson. Paul is a stubborn yet principled politician who would rather be right by his own views than compromise on anything. He has no real friends in Congress and is the enemy of the very machine he would seek to operate. He is constitutionally astute. Andrew JohnsonPaul strikes me as being most like Andrew Johnson. He’ll fight not only the opposing party, but the leaders of his own in Congress. The machinery of the bureaucracy assembled by previous administrations would be his main target as it would be something he thought he could change. A long train of vetoes, overrides, wiggling free from Congressional attempts to wrangle him and generally four years of being right, but equally disliked by all.

Rick Perry – Perry claims to be Reagan. Perry is a man of great ego, personality and amorphous convictions. He surrounds himself with advisers who define most of his actions and control access to him. That limits his ability to see more than just one side of an issue and sometimes puts him in a predicament. George W. BushPerry strikes me as being most like George W. Bush. He’s as likely to expand government to be ‘compassionate’ as he is to cut some part of it. He would likely be often caught misspeaking as the policies of his staff would not be his own and his answers to questions about them would lack grounding. He’d make numerous gaffes that pundits on both sides would wonder how he could have ever been able to be so stupid, but those gaffes would come as a result of the bubble his advisers would keep him in.

Rick Santorum – Santorum claims to be Reagan. Santorum is a strong social conservative who believes in using the power of the federal government to dictate domestic issues that were previously State and local matters. He is a party man who went along with government expansion and big spending when his party committed it – although he claims he realizes that was a mistake and wouldn’t do it again. John AdamsSantorum strikes me as being most like John Adams. He would likely push his ideology fiercely and fail to see when he had gone too far. He would surround himself with advisers and policy makers who once worked for or around his beloved mentor (in this case Reagan) but lack the wisdom of that mentor to know when those advisers and policy makers had drifted too far from the will of the people. He would not understand why his administration would become unpopular and instead entrench himself further.

Michele Bachmann – Bachmann claims to be Reagan or Jefferson. Bachmann is a wannabe ideologue. She clings to the banner of the Tea Party, yet is easily dragged towards neoconservatism whenever she feels that she needs to sound tough. She is generally over-matched by the enormity of the Presidency even as a candidate. While she can spew soundbites, she is slow to hit the mark when thrown an unexpected question. Barack ObamaPolitical ideology aside, Bachmann strikes me as being most like Barack Obama. She would most likely struggle to find effective ways to get her big ideas turned into actual policies even with GOP control of Congress. She’d feel the need to embark on military adventures to prove she wasn’t weak on defense. She would reverse herself on executive orders and start issuing many of them as an alternative way to implement her agenda.

Jon Huntsman – Huntsman claims to be a Reagan. Huntsman has great executive experience and deeply understands the geopolitical and economic position of the Unites States in the world in relation to past, present and emerging world rivals. He is measured, reasonable and yet considered an outsider by even his own. Dwight EisenhowerHuntsman strikes me as being most like Dwight Eisenhower. He would likely chart a course that looked far more into the future than the leaders of Congress. He would be strategic rather than tactical in military and foreign affairs. He would challenge the status quo and risk rebellion from his own party when he put pet projects on the chopping block. He would be seen more as a fatherly President than a partisan one.

I could be very wrong in these associations, but I think they are fairly accurate. We just can’t really know until they sit in that office. But, we do have their histories and personalities as well as those of the men who already held the office and how that office changed them. From those, we can construct better guesses as to which President they will not repeat, but most rhyme with. In all cases, it is not the one they think they are – at least in my opinion.

In doing this exercise, my views of the candidates have changed a bit. Thinking not of who I would like them to be or who they sell themselves as, but who their history and personality most aligns them with has left me questioning my leanings in this race. I don’t accept the general media criticisms of our candidates or the wild histrionics by the champions of one candidate against opponents. However, viewing these candidates in an historical light and how their strengths, weaknesses and personalities would likely mix with the current economic, political and international reality does raise some new questions for me. Of Ford, Nixon, G. W. Bush, A. Johnson, J. Adams, Obama or Eisenhower, who could not only best beat Obama in 2012 but best address the foreseeable problems? Would stagnation and infighting in Washington be worse than misguided progress or the other way around? Is victory today and four years a stability worth backing a candidate that could probably be beaten in 2016? When there is no Reagan clone, on whom can we settle?

I don’t have the answers to those questions for you. They are for each of us to decide on our own when choosing a candidate. I don’t even have the answers for myself which is why I remain undecided and uncommitted. I’ve ruled out three of the seven, but have a long way to go before I get down to one.

Early Demises and Second Chances

Mitt Beats Obama in Rassmussen Poll

Over the past week, Rassmussen conducted three Presidential matchup polls, the most recent being between Romney and Obama.  Romney easily won the poll contest by 45% to 39%.  What is significant is who struggled in the polls earlier that week.  Bachmann lost with 35% to Obama’s 48%, and Gingrich only did a little better with 37% to Obama’s 47%.

One more element deserves recognition in this polling.  Obama himself had an up and down week according to Gallup.  Around the time Rassmussen was polling the Bachmann and Gingrich head to heads, Obama’s approval rating had climbed to 47% only to fall back down to 41% by the end of the week.  What would explain such a wild swing?  I’m guessing a little too much holiday eggnog putting people in a generous mood.

Virginia’s Florida Moment

Ah the good old days of hanging chads and voter intention.  Like when Democrats argued that people in Florida intended to vote for Al Gore because they had also voted for good ole’ boy NASA astronaut Democrat Bill Nelson.  Now in Virginia, we have the case of signatures being tossed out enough to get both Perry and Gingrich off the ballot.  Perry’s campaign is fighting back, but Gingrich is getting help from an outside source: the TEA Party.

Attorney and TEA Party activist Jonathon Mosely is suing Virginia over signatures that may have been incorrectly invalidated to put Newt under the 10,000 signature requirement.  If he wins, a potentially campaign ending gaffe could be turned into a vindicating legal victory.

Iowa Last Minute Insanity

Ron Paul Buys Bachmann’s Campaign Chair

Bachmann campaign chair in Iowa, Kent Sorensen, has jumped ship as Bachmann becomes the latest candidate to contract the deadly disease AIDES.  AIDES (former aides to be exact) have already helped bring down Herman Cain’s campaign and have hurt Newt Gingrich’s campaign.  Now, with Sorensen opting for the bigger paycheck at the Paul campaign, Bachmann looks like a jury member on Survivor trying to pontificate about injustice, honor, lies and blindsides.  Welcome to politics.

Huntsman Disses Iowa

“They pick corn in Iowa. They pick presidents in New Hampshire.” Who would say something like that? Obviously a candidate who knows they have no hope of winning the Iowa caucus, and doesn’t seem to really care about Iowa in the general election either.  Huntsman would have done much better for himself to just say “We are focusing our efforts on New Hampshire.” and leave it at that.  Of course, this may help explain why Huntsman, an only slightly more moderate clone of Mitt Romney on most issues, is barely surviving on the crumbs that fall from Romney’s feast in the polls.

Coulter’s Temporary Insanity

Ann Coulter is in love with Mitt Romney.  And she obviously is no fan of Newt Gingrich.  In recent articles, she has accused Newt of being everything from pro-choice to big government, to being behind the bailouts of Freddie Mac.  Of course, all of this is Bachmann style campaign hyperbole and exaggeration at best.  Then Coulter let out a real shocker: she prefers Ron Paul to Newt Gingrich.  What??

Somewhere in a closet, the real Ann Coulter is tied up with duct tape over her mouth mumbling for this evil clone to let her out.  Meanwhile, Barack Obama and the media, who have convinced us that only Mitt Romney can beat Obama in 2012, are laughing all the way to re-election while Republicans fall for the same premise they did in 2008: vote for the candidate you think can win, not the candidate you really want.

What else would explain Coulter’s blanket acceptance and love for a former Massachusetts liberal who ran on a pro-choice platform, gave Massachusetts Romneycare, and voted for Paul Tsongas while she is treating a conservative who reformed welfare, reigned in Bill Clinton, and led Republicans to their first majority in the House in 40 years as a raving liberal.  What is it that the rest of us don’t know about Newt Gingrich?

Newt v. Virginia

You might be waking up this day after Christmas, pulling out your political websites and discovering a much different landscape than last week.  If I didn’t know any better, I would think Romney has this wrapped up from reading the headlines today.  I would also think Newt was incompetent.

Newt Gingrich did not qualify for the Virginia ballot.  The reason that is the big headline is because while you were eating Christmas turkey, wrapping presents, and watching NORAD radar for Santa Claus, the headline was that neither did Santorum, Perry, or Bachmann.  In fact, Virginia will be a race between Romney and Paul.  So the question is, does this say something about Newt’s relevance?  Or Virginia’s?

Actually, what it does speak to is Virginia’s exclusivity. Some of the candidates may have been caught off guard when Virginia changed their ballot requirements in December.  So far even the media hasn’t seemed to catch up with developments in Virginia’s balloting situation, except that Virginia won’t allow for write ins.

This does speak though to the irrelevance of candidates who do have a ground game in Virginia, and to the folly of candidates who are shooting from the hip and choosing to forgo the developed ground game.  It also shows the disadvantage of a political movement like the TEA Party which is not affiliated with any specific candidate, but might have preferred options in Virginia beyond Centrist versus Radical.

Gingrich can afford to lose Virginia.  What he can’t afford is a threat to his front runner status.  That status is propped up by its own existence.  In other words, part of the reason Newt is the front runner is because he is the front runner and he is not Mitt Romney.  Nothing could be more detrimental to Newt’s campaign right now than headlines saying Newt is too incompetent to get on to the Virginia primary ballot.

Merry Christmas, Mitt Romney.

In Bachmann’s Mind

I would think Michele Bachmann would be more gentle with some of her Republican competitors.  She herself has faced everything from the bigotry of the Left against conservative women to the watchfulness of the one-eyed media who has gleefully remarked on her every gaffe while turning the blind eye to the Obama/Biden circus.

Yet, to hear from Bachmann at the Foxnews debate, you would think Newt Gingrich was a pro-choice, pro-partial birth abortion candidate who used to run Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and will be a President to the left of Obama himself.  This is no exaggeration.  However, her characterizations were.

Now, Newt and Bachmann come from different perspectives on the Republican party.  Bachmann would have done well to note that clearly.  Newt is not going to close off the Republican party and say ‘no pro-choicers, homosexuals, immigration reformers, anti-war candidates allowed’.  Bachmann, as a TEA Party activist, seems to lean more towards that hardline stance.  There is definitely a point to be made there.  There are many Republicans who desire party purity to the point of ditching the big top and settling for a camping tent.  Newt is not one of those.  Such a point is sufficient to distinguish Bachmann from Newt.

Newt Gingrich is not pro-choice.  He is not pro-partial birth abortion.  His firm took an average of $225,000 a year from Freddie Mac in consulting fees over  an 8 year period.  That is not a whole lot for high end consulting by a multi-member firm in Washington DC for a multi-billion dollar company.  Think about it.  Freddie Mac represented about 3% of the Gingrich Group’s total revenues.  It was an exclusive group with about 300 clients.  Clients paid on average $200,000 a year for membership.  Newt himself did not do any lobbying for Freddie Mac.

But that isn’t what she said.  Bachmann’s characterization was so outlandish that she lost all credibility.  What could have been an intellectual differentiation turned into a wild and false assault on one of the two best hopes of defeating Obama in 2012.

Bachmann will not win her way back into the hearts and minds of the Republican majority with this sort of outlandish hyperbole.  She certainly won’t win with a kill ’em all attitude towards Republicans who don’t fit her cookie cutter.  For this reason, I will make the same call on Bachmann that I have for Huntsman and Johnson:

Michele, you are not going to win.  You have done too much already on your own to destroy your own campaign.  As far as destroying other candidates campaigns, your attacks are effective only on the ignorant.  Now you are no longer contributing value to this primary.  You are not contributing fresh ideas, you are not drawing new blood into the campaign.  It is time to end your campaign.  Whether or not you realize it, it’s already over.

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