Newt’s No Strategy Stragey Is Playing Right In To His Rivals Hands

Bookmark and Share   As I have said over and over again, I am fully prepared to enthusiastically get behind Mitt Romney as our nominee, but when given the choice between Mitt’s meager tweaking of policies that steer things slightly more to the right of the liberal establishment, and Newt’s bold solutions that rewrite and reform policies, I am supporting Newt.  I believe that in this election, Republicans are at a crossroads.  We either commit ourselves to being like Democrats and affirm ourselves as being defenders of the status quo or we establish ourselves as the Party of reform.

In a race between Newt and Mitt, for me the issue is not so much which man is more conservative but which man is more representative of the status quo and the establishment and which one is more representative of reform and the anti-establishment sentiments that gave birth to a whole movement that was based in part on a an extraordinary anti-establishment sentiment.  Of the two, given that criteria, Newt wins hands down.  Which is why I have become so utterly disappointed in  Newt Gingrich’s campaign.

While I understand how much pride Newt takes in running an untradition campaign that does not focus on fundraising and consultant rich decision making that forces one to produce poll driven policy positions, I am incredibly frustrated by Newt’s unwillingness to accept the fact that any effective campaign requires a degree of proper planning and strategizing.  It does not necessarily have to be traditional planning and strategizing but it has to be at least a semi coordinated effort that covers some of the most basic aspects of the purpose behind any campaign.  One such purpose is that of delivering a message.

What is Newt’s message?

Well he has had quite a few and most all of them have been good.  But when asked that question, voters should not have to decide what a candidate’s message is.  They should clearly know one carefully crafted message that is clear and immediately resonates.  Unfortunately,  Newt’s message has not been clear.  For that to happen, Gingrich needs to strike a theme or a string of theme’s that easily tie together to form one message.  A smart campaign will use themes that creates a message which not only advance the candidate’s cause, but also takes the sting out of their rivals attacks.  In Newt’s case a perfect string of theme’s that create just the right message for him would consist of his being a reform minded, anti-establishment, leader.

Let’s look at each of these areas individually:

Leadership;

As Speaker of the House, Newt established himself as a true leader and America is yearning for one that can take them in the right direction.  Do they want the type of leader who can create a Contract With America that led America in to a Republican revolution that changed the way Congress does business and led to some of the most conservative reforms in generations while working with Democrats?  Or do they want the type of leadership that worked with Democrats to  create such things as RomneyCare and ObamaCare?

That is a theme not only works for Newt, it works against Mitt Romney?

Reform;

Here again, one can turn one of Romney’s weaknesses in to a Gingrich strength.

Do we we want the type of Gingrich reforms which led to the greatest reform of the last 30 years…..welfare reform, or do they want the type of Romney reforms which created Romney and Obama style government-centric healthcare?

This theme is probably the most fertile for Gingrich.

It allows him to remind people that when Newt became Speaker, he reformed the House and made many changes that forced its members to live by the same rules they create for others.  The scandal which saw members of Congress involved The House banking scandal when it was revealed that the United States House of Representatives allowed members to overdraw their House checking accounts without any penalties, prompted Newt to enforce rules that made it harder for legislators to live above the law.

But there is much more to point to when it comes to Gingrich’s proven record of reform.  Some of the most dramatic include:

All of these major changes offer Newt a wealth of issues to introduce in  to the election and provide all the evidence people need to establish just how reform driven he is and each one of them strike chords among the electorate that are just as important and topical today as they were yesterday and will be tomorrow.

The Anti-Establishment Candidate;

In this anti-establishment, TEA movement environment, the status quo is out and the defenders of the status quo are the enemy.  People do not trust the establishment of either Party.  They believe that each Party has betrayed the ideologies they represent and have forgotten that the people are in charge in government and not the government which is in charge of the people. At this point in time, it seems that the people are having to answer to government, far more than government does to the people.

Meanwhile scores of establishment Governors, Senators, Congressman are coming out and endorsing Mitt Romney.  They are making it clear that the Mitt Romney is the establishment candidate………the defender of the status quo.  Meanwhile those members of the establishment are attacking Newt.  From Bob Dole on down, the establishment has soundly rejected Newt and if that is not enough to convince anti-establishment voters that Newt is one of them, than nothing is.

Add to that Newt’s willingness to stray from Party orthodoxy on occasion, and his instinctual desire to question traditional political thinking and approaches to problems and what you have is a candidate who represents anything but the status quo.

Combined together, all three of these qualities could provide Gingrich with the keys to the Republican presidential nomination.  In many cases,  despite poor messaging by Gingrich’s campaign, they have already been responsible for what success Gingrich has had.  But until and unless he can run a campaign that reinforces these themes with clear, consistent messages, the opportunity to exploit them will be lost.  And right now, Newt is losing.

In his desire to be unconventional, Newt is unwilling to be scripted.  And while there is a degree of political attractiveness to that, it also makes it impossible for Newt to stay on message and drive it home and the result is sometimes disastrous.

It is what led to his hurting himself a few weeks ago when he offended supporters of capitalism by going to far with an improper assault on Mitt Romney for his work as a venture capitalist.  It is also what led to Newt’s most recent blunder, claiming that he could not focus because the audience in the most recent debate was a distraction.

That off-the-cuff remark was so wrong on so many levels that it could very well cost him the winner-take-all, victory in Florida’s Primary.

That statement allowed Mitt Romney to undermine Newt by him seem week and it also allowed Romney to undermine Newt’s greatest strength, his superb debating skills.

Such results are bound to happen when a candidate is unwilling to stay on message and when they fail to settle upon a winning theme that they can build on.

Whatever the result in Florida, if Newt intends to remain in this contest to win, he better get his act together and admit to himself that he needs a competent organization that coordinates his ground game, and does things such as spearhead an aggressive absentee ballot operation in key states, and he must succumb to the fact that if he wants to win, he needs to focus on developing a winning strategy.

Bookmark and Share

Yes, he can?

In the volatility of the Republican 2012 primary, one thing is for sure.  Calling this race now would be like predicting the Superbowl in September.  How ’bout them Eagles.  Of course, I called the Eagles faltering before the season started.  I’m usually pretty good with my football picks.  So, allow me to apply some of that prophetic magic here.  FYI, this post is not for the faint of heart.  I’m just giving it to you straight.

Romney is all set as the Republican establishment candidate.  He has had that spot locked up really since before Mitch Daniels dropped out of the race.  Now the one stable thing in this race is that Romney will get the establishment vote.  He will also get a lot of mainstream Republican votes.  But he is going to run into a real issue, and that is with the anti-establishment movement within the Republican party.  All that is about to blow wide open this week as the NYT releases a story about opinions among establishment Republicans of the TEA party.  The GOP is about to have a civil war on its hands.  Whether they can recover by next November will be huge in determining whether or not Barack Obama is President in 2013.  Mitt Romney absolutely must nail down his conservative support and soon, or he will lose Iowa, South Carolina and Florida.

Cain's 999 plan could be his undoing

I like Herman Cain a lot.  I think he would make a great Vice President.  I think he would be a star on the campaign trail.  I think he would bring a lot of conservatives to the table and would bring the TEA party and anti-establishment wing to the table.  Here’s the problem: Herman Cain’s 9 9 9 plan sucks.  He would do better to drop that plan completely and advocate a Fairtax, which I also oppose for various reasons you can find here.  But even the Fairtax is better than 9 9 9.  Cain’s 9 9 9 plan has several Achilles’s heels hidden in its simplicity.  Perhaps the worst is the 9% flat tax on corporation’s gross profits minus purchases and dividends.  Unless Cain plans to include payroll with purchases, his 9% flat tax could turn into an effective 99% tax, or even higher, on low margin service industries with high labor costs.  But simplicity and feel good soundbites are what drives the Cain campaign.  Sometimes those soundbites are the common sense we are all thinking, but nobody who represents us is saying.  In those times, I love Herman Cain.  Other times it’s not much better than the soundbites written on a Wall Street mob sign.  Great for riling you up, until you stop and think about it.

Right now, we are watching the French Revolution in the TEA party and anti-establishment wing of the Republican party.  And who can blame them?  I should say, who can blame us.  Our party had the President who initially signed TARP.  Now, of course I don’t think Bush ever imagined TARP would be used to give the treasury secretary ultimate powers to steal companies from their bondholders, sell them overseas and give the proceeds to unions.  But he should have.  Conservative Constitutionalists are praying, quite literally, that we don’t get fooled again.  The result has been the rise and fall of Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and now Herman Cain.  Each time, the anti-establishment establishment is looking for that perfect, conservative candidate that we can get behind and support.

Now, suddenly Newt Gingrich is inching back into the top three.  In fact, while Cain tops out the very volatile state of Florida, Gingrich has hit double digits.  As a matter of fact, Gingrich’s facebook page shows a photo of him on the Drudge Report with a story about how he is still in this.  And he definitely is.

The difference between Newt and the other candidates is that Newt’s laundry has been on the line for years now.  Everyone knows who Newt Gingrich is.  He isn’t going to come out with a plan that sinks his campaign a month from now.  No one is going to learn during a debate about him forcing 12 year old girls to get vaccines for sexually transmitted diseases.  Everyone knows how imperfect his past is.  That’s why he hasn’t been in this race up to now.  And that is why he will be very dangerous if Cain falls on 9 9 9.  Of course, I mean “dangerous” in the best way possible.  Newt versus Mitt with no specter of late arrivals and no more candidates left to shoot up to the top could solidify January’s primaries.

Newt can carry Iowa and South Carolina easily once the other social conservatives lose their votes to him.  Newt was the first in the debates to really highlight how Obama was preventing jobs from coming to South Carolina.  And Iowa will pick the social conservative every time.  In a Newt/Mitt race, it will all be about Florida.

Could the debate in Jacksonville, FL determine the next President of the United States?

On January 26th, Republicans will hold the last GOP debate that matters before the primary.  I know, there will be one in Tampa the night before the primary.  No one is going to change their mind because of the Tampa debate.  It will all come down to January 26th in Jacksonville, Florida.  Mitt Romney versus the TEA party favorite.  The last time the Superbowl was held here, the Patriots won.

For Republicans, the First Step Is the Primary Within the Primary

Bookmark and Share    As we finally begin to understand what the likely field of Republican presidential candidates will look like, it is becoming clear that the same dynamics which influenced the 2010 Republican primaries and general election, are likely to play a significant role in the 2012 Republican presidential nominating contest. In 2010, the influence of a strong TEA movement, shaped the platform that incumbents ran on, and determined the outcomes of many primary contests. The now former Congressman from Delaware, Mike Castle, is one of the most notable people who can attest to that.

In Delaware’s Republican U.S. Senate primary, Castle, a former Governor of the state, was an establishment candidate. He was defeated by Christine O’Donnell who, for better or worse, was the anti-establishment candidate. In Nevada, Sharron Angle, another anti-establishment candidate, defeated a number of other establishment Republicans in her attempt to win the G.O.P. nomination. In both cases, those ladies may have lost their general election races, but many other anti-establishment candidates, won both the Party nomination and their general elections. There was Marco Rubio,  Rick Scott, Daniel Webster, and Allen West in Florida, Tim Johnson in Wisconsin, Niki Haley in South Carolina, New Mexico’s Susana Martinez and many more, including hundreds more on the county and local levels. Ultimately, the TEA movement brewed a potent formula that is still infusing itself in to the electoral and legislative process and it will continue to do so in the nomination process of the next Republican presidential candidate.

The same anti-establishment sentiment that propelled statewide and local candidates to victory in 2010 is going to again play itself out in presidential primaries and pit the anti-establishment against the establishment. In fact, in many ways, the race to nominate a Republican presidential candidate is likely to come down to two people……..the establishment candidate and the anti-establishment candidate. Consider it a primary within the primary.

On the establishment side, you have frontrunner Mitt Romney, followed by Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, and possibly other major players like Texas Governor Rick Perry, along with minor candidates like former Governors Buddy Roemer, George Pataki, Bob Riley and possibly even former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. In the end though, the establishment primary will really be only between Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, Pawlenty and if he runs, Rick Perry.

As for the anti-establishment primary, who will be competing in this field is still a bit unsettled. With names like Bachmann and Palin not yet in the race but seriously considering it, this inner-primary has yet to take shape. At the moment, Herman Cain is the anti-establishmentarian frontrunner. Competing against Cain is former two term New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and Texas Congressman Ron Paul.  Both Paul and Johnson have a very low ceilings of support, but we have yet to see how high the roof on Herman Cain’s popularity is.

While Cain has a definite ability to outperform both Johnson and Paul, the entry of Bachmann and/or Palin in to the race, will give Cain a good run for whatever money he can raise.

On the establishment side, while Romney has the inside track, he can easily be thrown off pace and with the specter of RomneyCare hanging around his neck, he could be quickly overcome by Pawlenty, Gingrich, Santorum, Huntsman or Perry.

But in the final analysis, the nomination will most likely come down to the candidate which the establishment gravitates towards and the candidate that the anti-establishment coalesces around. It is hard to say which two will win their primaries within the primaries. I tend to believe that unless Texas Governor Rick Perry enters the race, Mitt Romney will be the system backed candidate.

Despite fears of Romney being a Benedict Arnold to the conservative cause and having a government-centric mindset, Romney will be a strong candidate. Say what you want, but Romney has a good record. Especially when it comes to management and economics, two things critical to the immediate needs of our nation. He will strike all the right chords and do so in a way that could earn him not just the Republican presidential nomination, but the confidence of Republican voters as well. And in the general election, as the nominee, Mitt Romney has the ability to craft a campaign that can beat President Obama. But Mitt can easily be derailed from his seemingly likely road to the nomination and even the White House, if a during the primaries and caucuses, a certain former Governor winds up becoming the candidate that the ant-establishment forces gravitate toward.

That person is Sarah Palin.

In 2010, she was the needle that the TEA movement used to inject its brew into the G.O.P. with. In 2010, she was the TEA Party’s Cheerleader-in-Chief and the quintessential anti-establishmentarian. And right now, it looks like Palin has the staying power to still be that Cheerleader-in-Chief in 2012.

While people like Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann could prove to be quite formidable, Palin is really the only anti-establishment candidate who has the ability to maintain the enthusiastic support of a majority of TEA movement Republicans while also being able to attract a significant portion of support away from the establishment candidate ……..especially if that ends up being Mitt Romney. In fact, if the primaries within the primaries pit Palin against Romney, I believe Palin wins the nomination.

That  is obviously conjecture. For it to even be possible, Sarah Palin will have to first decide to become a candidate for President in 2012. Additionally, the opportunity for any number of game changing events to take place is endless, and I still contend that the logistics of a well run campaign can make a candidate who looks weak now, seem quite strong later. But what is not conjecture is the fact that the G.O.P. will be encountering a primary within the primary. The anti-establishment forces are firmly ensconced within the G.O.P. and they are ready to do battle again in 2012. For these people, trust does not come with “political experience”. In truth, political experience is a minus to them. For these people, being a “good Republican” is not enough. They want a different type of Republican, the type who is willing to push the G.O.P. establishment and who can demonstrate that they are not willing to play the political games that have gotten us to where we are today. These sentiments are going to certainly produce a divide that will lead not to the usual competition between liberal Republicans and conservative Republicans but rather one between Republican insiders and Republican outsiders.

The final outcome will depend upon on which Republican outsider runs against which Republican insider.

Bookmark and Share
%d bloggers like this: