Paths to Victory

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 surpriseI 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 Gingrich

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.

Mitt Romney

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.

Ron Paul

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.

Rick Perry

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.

Jon Huntsman

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.

Michele Bachmann

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.

Rick Santorum

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.

Debate Caliber

With Newt inches from running in the 2012 primary, the one comment I have heard most from Republican friends is much fun it would be to watch a Newt/Obama debate. Whether you love, hate, or are indifferent on McCain, I think most of us would admit that he was a great campaigner, but not the best debater.

George W. Bush was a good debater. So good in fact that I remember the conspiracy nuts saying that Bush had a hidden earpiece and a box shaped transmitter between his shoulderblades for one of his debates with John Kerry. I was always impressed that the guy who single-handedly planned and carried out 9/11 so that he could start a war for oil, couldn’t afford a small CIA wire instead of a large box-shaped transmitter. Come on now people.

Gingrich is an incredible debater. For example, in his debate with Mario Cuomo, he got Cuomo to admit that if Democrats ran on their actual agenda, they wouldn’t win elections.

Gingrich went to Al Sharpton’s National Action Network convention and debated Sharpton, who is also the founder of National Action Network. They debated among other things, race and education. He debated John Kerry on energy policy. Gingrich has not backed down, and has carried himself as an absolute gentleman in the debates.

Many have written Gingrich off before he leaves the gate. Liberals, who somehow manage to see through the plank in their own eye, have quickly attacked Gingrich’s 16 year old marriage infidelity. Some on the right fear that Gingrich will lack the energy and charisma to take on the Obama youth machine and will end up becoming the Fred Thompson of 2012.

But there is no denying that a Gingrich/Obama debate would be epic. Gingrich has more than quick thinking and intelligence on his side. He also has a vast knowledge of history, both recent and distant.

When McCain went on the View, Whoopi Goldberg asked him if returning our country to the US Constitution would mean that she should have to worry about slavery coming back. McCain couldn’t answer the question. Gingrich would have no problem quickly pointing out the folly of the question itself because Gingrich knows what the constitution says and why it says it.

Too many Republicans are facing 2012 with a fatalist attitude. Unfortunately, many have already written off the upcoming election. I challenge you to think this way: imagine a debate between Newt Gingrich and Barack Obama. If that doesn’t get you re-invigorated about 2012, I don’t know what will.

Hung Out to Dry

If ever there was a time for conservatives to stand up for Sarah Palin, now would be it. Palin is certainly a front runner for the Presidency, even as a TEA Party outsider in the Republican Party. This makes her an easy target.

Oops, did I say target? The absolute ridiculousness with which the left has attempted to tie Jared Loughner to Sarah Palin should have every Republican up in arms. The ease with which Loughner’s actual political leanings and mental stability can be documented should add fuel to a conservative fire that overturns years of a subtle left-wing bias in the media. It should be pretty obvious right now which way the mainstream leans.

So why aren’t conservatives standing up for Palin? When given the chance to stand up for Palin and shred the media’s unjust attacks, Newt Gingrich stated that Palin is the one who needs to be more careful about what she says. Immediately left-wing bloggers seized on Gingrich’s words and reposted them with glee.

Shortly after the Tuscon shooting, left-wing loudmouth Keith Olbermann associated Loughner with Palin. Though he obviously put his foot in his mouth, speaking out of ignorance, mainstream Republicans did not respond. Finally Palin did.

The result? Palin was attacked by the left for responding. But she was also attacked by the right. Ross Douthat, supposedly a conservative New York Times columnist (yeah, I hear they found bigfoot and UFOs too), echoed the establishment complaint that Palin’s response was unpresidential. I wonder if anyone ever confronted Andrew Jackson, blood flowing from an open wound, gun still smoking, fresh from winning a duel (or losing as he did on one occasion) that he was acting unpresidential.

This one was a slam dunk. Loughner was a druggie, fed on 9/11 conspiracy theories and hatred of women in power. He didn’t listen to talk radio and certainly wouldn’t have followed the details of Palin’s TEA Party successes this past fall. Republicans had a chance to take on the the lies that were coming out and show the country exactly how the left had chosen to politicize the shooting. But they didn’t.

I have tried to reconcile the lack of conservative response. The person who came closest to defending Palin and the TEA Party movement was the President himself when he called on Americans not to blame each other or point fingers.

Most likely, mainstream potential candidates are trying to avoid putting themselves in a situation where they face the same grueling attacks that Palin has. Possibly, some establishment candidates may be secretly satisfied to see their stiffest competition for the 2012 primaries knocked out as a result of the media’s unnecessary roughness.

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