Romney May Not Get All 50

Gingrich Shows Some Fight

Don’t count him out yet.  Newt Gingrich is fighting for his slice of Romney’s 50 Florida delegates.  According to RNC rules, no state can hold a winner takes all primary before April 1, 2012.  Florida was warned of this back in December.  This means that Newt could cut into the 50 delegates that Romney is expecting from his Florida win.  If this works for Newt, Romney’s delegate lead will be cut about in half.  But Newt faces an uphill battle, fighting an RNC and RPOF stuffed full of Romney supporters.

Romney Supporters as Annoying as Paul’s?

After the Florida primary, it might have been nice for there to be some healing in the state after one of the most negative campaigns in Florida’s primary history.  Instead, the theme from Romney’s supporters is that Newt should stop whining about the negative campaigning and his supporters should fall in line with the presumptive nominee.

If you think that is bad, Romney’s number one cheerleader, Ann Coulter, is now praising Romneycare as a constitutional, conservative solution to healthcare.  In fact, Coulter is now saying that “The problem isn’t health insurance mandates.”  Perhaps someone should tell that to Pam Bondi, Florida Attorney General and Romney supporter who is leading the fight against Obamacare in the courts based on the health insurance mandate.

Don’t get me wrong, I get the whole “states have the constitutional authority to take away your rights, the fed doesn’t” argument, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to agree that Romneycare was a good idea.  Perhaps Coulter is trying to set up the future conversations for the presumptive nominee.  But are most Americans going to be ok with the argument that it as ok for Romney to take away their rights and force them to buy health insurance because it was on a state level?  Personally, I’d like to see less government intrusion in my life on every level.  Coulter used to feel the same way.  What happened?

If Romney wants to win in 2012, he has to get his supporters to change their message.  Romney needs to start focusing on Obama and reassuring conservatives that he is in fact principally opposed to Obamacare and the health insurance mandate, not simply offering it pandering lip service.  And for goodness sakes, he has to stop making Newt supporters his enemies.  He’ll have quite enough enemies in the general election without turning off fellow conservatives.

Santorum Shines, Paul Respected

The only thing worse than endless political ads is political ads being tossed back and forth in a debate format with no fact checker.  Well, almost no fact checker.  Romney himself got caught when he tried to famously disavow any political negativity coming from his side only to discover that he had indeed approved an attack ad against Gingrich.

What was lost in the mix was serious debate.  The average listener might think that Romney and Gingrich’s stance on immigration actually differed.  What we discovered instead is that they really are basically the same, making their attacks on each others immigration policy pretty funny.  In fact, they all seemed to have the same view on illegal immigration except for Ron Paul who seemed to be saying that the problem is we have a bad economy and if we had a good economy we would all want illegal immigrants to come here and take the jobs Americans won’t.

Of course, with Paul sometimes it is difficult to differentiate his “this is what I would do as President” with his “this is the way things ought to be” with his “this is the way things are” rhetoric.  It keeps him safe with both the radical constitutionalists and the ignorant populists in his base.  Of course, I myself am a radical constitutionalist, but most of Paul’s constitutional rhetoric falls under the “this is the way things ought to be” column.  I couldn’t have any alcohol last night because of an early morning medical procedure Friday morning, but if I had a drinking game it would have been how many times Paul redirected a question by making his answer about the war, how bad the fed has made the economy, or how small a constitutional government should be.  The immigration question got both the war and the economy.

Paul did receive a great deal of respect from the other candidates.  It was the sort of respect Romney showed to Bachmann early on in the race.  It was that sort of “you have no shot of winning, but I would really like your supporters to like me down the road so I’ll smile and pat you on the back” respect.

Gingrich fell into a trap that I warned about a few months ago.  He has big ideas, but he has also become more and more of a states rights conservative.  Gingrich’s problem is communication in small soundbites.  I understood that he was speaking about encouraging private ventures to establish a moon colony, but the three candidates up there either willingly or ignorantly seemed to think he was talking about NASA doing it.

Gingrich also dropped the ball on something he has done very well at in previous debates, not taking media bait.  Blitzer played Romney and Gingrich all night long.  In fact, it was Rick Santorum who had to bring the debate back to the issues.  Unlike the early debates where Gingrich ran the show and the other candidates followed his lead, this time it was Santorum who reminded the other candidates what the debates and this whole process is all about.  Because of it, Santorum shined last night.

Mitt Romney has hired Bachmann’s former debate coach and it shows.  He laid down persistent attacks, mostly inaccurate, and was distracted from the issues all night.  Newt attempted to rebut, but his responses were too involved for the average American viewer.  Romney easily turned Gingrich’s responses on their head.  A good example was when Newt brought up Romney’s investments in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.  I think Newt’s point was that Romney shouldn’t be attacking him for doing consulting work for Freddie Mac when in fact Romney himself is making money on Freddie Mac stock.  In the end though, both sides lost that debate and viewers were left with a disgusting taste in their mouth.

I said that Jacksonville, Florida would be the most important debate of this election if one candidate could shine like Gingrich has in the past debates.  In the end, Gingrich saw his shadow and this primary will continue far beyond Florida.  And unfortunately, it will continue to get nastier.  The candidates have already said many things about each other that they will not be able to take back in the general election.  So in the end, Santorum won the debate, but the Republican party was the big loser.

 

Libertarian “Golden” Boy/Bachmann Tebow Complex

Ron Paul’s Golden Portfolio

Ron Paul is well known for his pro-gold policies.  He is a little less well known for his golden portfolio.  While most Americans have been watching their retirements quickly shrink, Ron Paul is doing OK.  He might not be as rich as Mitt Romney, but he could buy Tim Pawlenty.

Is Paul ready for the leftwing media meat grinder?

The question is if this will become an issue for Ron Paul down the road.  Unlike half the GOP field this year, Ron Paul had not been considered a threat so no vetting (as the left calls it) or smear (as the right calls it) has taken place yet.  Still, could Paul’s golden investments and golden ambitions of a gold backed currency be viewed by liberal opponents as a conflict of interest?  Already liberal bloggers are pointing out Paul’s use of earmarks, so more “vetting” may be on the way.

One question that had me scratching my head is why Paul would advocate fixing the debt ceiling deal by having the Fed write off the QE1 and QE2 loans it had printed and made to the Treasury.  Of course, this would make the hundreds of billions involved unrestricted cash and could result in inflation. At the same time he voted (contrary to his son Rand) against Cut, Cap and Balance.  Ron Paul’s constant votes against any appropriations bill that doesn’t adhere strictly to the constitution should be viewed as a principled approach to representing the people who sent him to DC.  But it sure hasn’t hurt his portfolio either, as imperfect but more conservative bills fall to more liberal compromises that can pass without him and others who vote like him.  Paul has bet on instability and it has paid off.

By the way, Paul’s holdings don’t include major stockpiles of gold, but are actually all in gold mining companies.

Should Bachmann Be Third String?

Meanwhile, on the mainstream side of the GOP Michele Bachmann is suddenly finding herself where Pawlenty was just a couple weeks ago: a solid third place.

This made me think of Tim Tebow who was recently put at the Broncos’ third string behind Brady Quinn and Kyle

Tebow was local hero as a Gator

Orton.  I love Tim Tebow.  When he gets the ball and runs, or dumps those short touchdown passes over the defensive line’s heads, we all go nuts here in Florida.  Bronco’s preseason makes Floridians happy because we get to see Tebow.  He was a local champion who got everyone on fire for him, and when he went pro his Broncos’ #15 jersey was the number one seller in the whole NFL.

But Tebow is not a polished player.  His faith endears him to Christian NFL fans.  The excitement he brought to the Gators with his competitive and unpredictable playing style built him a huge fan base.  But his accuracy is off.  He is no Tom Brady or Peyton Manning.  He might fill the stadium, but he is not the quarterback to bring the Broncos to the Superbowl this year.

Can Bachmann be the GOP starter?

So why does he make me think of Michele Bachmann?  Bachmann has a huge fan base.  She became a national sensation as the darling of the TEA Party.  She fills stadiums and is exciting to watch and listen to.  But she is unpolished.  Her accuracy is off.  She’s no Mitt Romney or Rick Perry.

So for now, like Tebow, Bachmann is going to remain third string until she can prove she’s a starter.

Believe it or not…Ron Paul could win

Ron Paul is notorious for stacking and winning straw polls.  So his latest victory at the Republican Leadership Conference comes as no big surprise.  In fact, national front runner Mitt Romney came in fourth behind Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann and John Huntsman, if that tells you anything.

But this time around it just may be too early to write off Ron Paul.  In the past he was rarely taken seriously as anything more than an ultra-libertarian issues candidate.  This time, his issues speak to America’s condition as an overbloated bureaucracy in debt up to our ears, in a new war with no meaning, a weakened currency, and a whole lot of social issues that would be a lot easier to live with if the government didn’t have to take a stand either way.

Third time a charm?

Unlike 2008, we are now wrapping up the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and they are no longer playing such a perceived crucial role in America’s defense.  Instead, we are now bombing our allies in Libya and fighting both sides of a civil war at a cost of a million dollars a day.  Unlike 2008, we are living with an administration whose deficits every year have nearly matched the entire 8 years of the Bush administration.  We have a Federal Reserve that seems out of control, especially after printing $500 billion to buy US debt under QE2.  And lastly, we have a weakening dollar which is helping to drive up commodity prices and inflation.

But in addition to the issues being more conducive to a Ron Paul candidacy, many of Paul’s liberal grass roots liberal supporters haven’t figured out yet where stands on the issues.  It never ceases to amaze me how many Obama voters would have made Ron Paul as their number one choice if given the opportunity.  My amazement stems from the fact that no two candidates could be further from each other when it comes to worldviews and ideologies.  Ron Paul’s anti-establishment, bring the troops home (something Obama promised and failed to deliver) and social libertarianism on issues like gay marriage seem to be his liberal aesthetic.  But this could give him the momentum he needs to be taken seriously.  Why?

Because there is no Democrat primary.  New Hampshire is a semi-open primary, meaning that the voters with no party affiliation can vote in either the Democrat or Republican primary.  This is sure to help Ron Paul this year as social liberals who would normally vote in the Democrat primary have the opportunity to use their vote to help decide the Republican nominee.  South Carolina is another early state with an open primary.

Many Republicans find Ron Paul to be abrasive, sometimes outright annoying, and he never seems to answer the question he was actually asked in a debate.  But with no Democrat primary this time around, it might not be Republicans who make the final decision on Ron Paul.

Paul Ryan v. The Fed

Ben Bernanke is warning the US of a dire future filled with high interest rates, crushing debt, and a weak dollar. He is calling on Congress to save the day. However, Bernanke is also warning Republicans to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Bernanke has just cause to be concerned. After the Fed’s $600 billion cash creation used to buy US debt, Republicans are focusing on limiting the Fed’s ultimate fiscal power. Led by Paul Ryan, Republicans are looking to take away the Fed’s responsibility to create jobs. This would mean a much less powerful position for Ben Bernanke.

Normally, such an idea would be discarded. But after years of Fed manipulation creating no job growth and looming inflation that Bernanke swears is not there, the public might be ready to rein in the Fed’s power. Even crazy idea’s like Ron Paul’s idea to audit the Fed are gaining traction. Congressional oversight of the Fed? Truly a novel concept.

If Paul Ryan succeeds in bringing down the Fed’s unlimited economic power, he will be a household name by this time next year. But it won’t just be taking on Bernanke that makes him infamous.

Republicans are betting on austerity. They are counting on cutting debt and returning more money to the private sector as the way to restore our economy. Across Republican run states and in DC this is the strategy. Paul Ryan has been chosen to spearhead this effort. His ambitious plans include revamping Social Security and Medicare, and spending cuts in many areas politicians are normally wary about touching. If it works quickly, Paul Ryan could be very popular in 2012.

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