Florida Makes History Again. Now What?

Bookmark and Share   As is the norm for Florida, the Sunshine State has again made electoral history.  For the first time, the Republican winner of the South Carolina primary, lost the Florida primary.  What it means in the long term is uncertain, but what it means in the short term is quite apparent.  Nationally, Republicans have no real clear favorite for President yet.

Still,  Mitt Romney’s win was significant and he deserve credit for orchestrating it.  He spent $17 million to do it, but he did it and in the end, especially with 50 delegates now in his column, that is all that matters.  However, while Romney once again becomes the frontrunner for the nomination, you will have to forgive me if do not declare this race over yet.

With little more than 5% of the delegates allocated so far, there is no denying that the race is not over yet, but it was made even more obvious to me after hearing Romney deliver his victory speech, and after Gingrich and Santorum gave their concession speeches.

In his speech, Mitt Romney rose to the occasion and sounded enthusiastic, but humble, and most of all, he sounded presidential.  He delivered a speech that allowed people to truly begin to get comfortable with the idea of him being the candidate who can take the fight to President Barack Obama and beat him.  He didn’t seal the deal, but his Florida victory speech helped make people more willing to accept the now almost inevitability of his being nominated for president.  And now back in the frontrunner position, Romney offered not only a brief glimpse of the potential that exists in his carrying the Republican banner,  he even took some steps to put the ugliness of the intraparty battle for the nomination behind him by eloquently making the point that “a competitive primary does not divide us, it prepares us.”

But in his facing the fact that he came in second place to Romney with at least 15% less of the vote than Romney, Newt Gingrich offered a speech which oozed of defiance and held a true thirst for not just beating Barack Obama, but for bringing about the type of reforms that Americans want, but as of late, have not often come to see in either Republicans or Democrats.  He also provided some of the best reasons for his candidacy to date.

While limiting his negative attacks to calling Romney a Massachusetts moderate, Newt introduced what was seemingly a very heartfelt, personal contract with the American people, a spin on the now famous 1994 Contract With America that he spearheaded and guided through Congress.

Newt’s personal  contract consists of two parts.  The first part is conditional and it requires that the people elect conservatives to Congress.  If they do that, Newt promises that before he takes office, he will request that on January 3rd, 2013, the new Congress stays in session and immediately repeals Obamacare, Dodd-Franks, and Sarbanes Oxley, three bills that are being viewed as among  the most  detrimental legislative initiatives effecting our economy.  Gingrich vows that if the American people elect strong conservative majorities to Congress, those three measures can be repealed by Congress and on the day of his inauguration, he will sign the legislation to rid us of those massive government burdens.  The problem there is that unless it is veto proof majority, President Obama will have the opportunity to veto it before Gingrich has the opportunity to sign it.  So Newt might want to hold back on his request for january 3rd vote on those issues.

The rest of Newt’s personal contract is a promise to promptly enact a series of constitutional executive orders that will consist of immediately abolishing the existence of all White House czars, an  immediate order to commence construction of the Keystone Pipeline project, an executive order opening the American embassy in Jerusalem and essentially acknowledging that divided city as Israel’s capital, another executive order which would reinstate the Reagan policy that did not allow  federal money to fund any abortions, anywhere in the world, and last but not least, he promised to enact an order that repeals any and all of the anti-religious acts enacted by the Obama Administration in what Newt described as the President’s war on religion.

Newt’s speech was far from a concession speech, but what it did do was offer voters some good reasons for why Newt should not give up.  With a room full of supporters waving signs that reminded voters that there are 46 more states which have yet to vote, Newt demonstrated that he still has what it takes to continue contesting this election.

The other speech of note came from third place finisher Senator Rick Santorum.

Even though Santorum placed a very distant third with only 13% of the vote in Florida, his speech actually provided a good rationale for his own continued participation in this race.

Knowing full well that he was not going to have a strong showing in Florida, Santorum elected to make his primary night remarks from Nevada, where he is campaigning in advance of that state’s Caucus which takes place this Saturday.

Taking advantage of the very rarely traveled high road in their primary contest, Santorum exploited the bitter battle between Romney and Gingrich by looking like the adult in the room who had his eye on the real prize…….defeating President Obama.

He stated that he was not going to criticize the personal and public successes achieved by both Gingrich and Romney as they have done to one another.  Instead he declared that republicans deserve better, and that he was going to focus on the issues important to the American people.  However, Santorum did argue that Newt failed at taking the momentum he had coming out South Carolina and converting it in to establishing himself as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney.  According to Santorum, Newt proved to make himself the issue and the American people do not need a President who is the issue, but rather a President who can address the issues and solve the problems surrounding them.

All three speeches were actually quite good and they all provided a solid foundation and legitimate reasons for this nomination contest to remain competitive.  The problem is that Santorum and Gingrich will still have to find the resources it takes to convince voters that it really isn’t over.  If Newt can finally stick to the themes he struck in his speech in Florida, themes based on his being the anti-establishment candidate and a true conservative leader capable of achieving very real and very bold reforms, he can survive long enough to see another victory, but it may not happen for another month or more and the longer he goes without a victory, the harder it will be for him to achieve one.

Right now, the only thing we can be certain of is that Mitt Romney is the one in the catbird seat tonight.  The real problem I see here though is that Romney is still the candidate which for numerous reasons, many Republicans seem to be settling for.  Such uninspired support makes it quite possible for someone like Newt to turn things around by actually inspiring people and causing voters say, you know what?  I don’t have to settle for Mitt. We can do better.”

Until Mitt Romney is willing to stop playing it safe, and proves that he too can be a bold leader, he will remain vulnerable to being overshadowed by the boldness of Newt Gingrich’s vision and red meat agenda.  For Mitt it is now a judgement call and a gamble.  Does he continue to play it safe and rely on his giant campaign war chest to suppress the amount of support Gingrich and  risk the possibility of Newt turning things around again?  Or  does he step out of his safety zone and make an attempt to prove that he is more than just a wealthy Republican establishment candidate?

My experience with Romney leads me to believe that he will continue to play it safe with the expectation that Newt will be do just the opposite and a loss it all by taking one too many risks.

On a final note, yes I know that I did not mention Ron Paul and that I did not include his concession speech.  And no it is not because I am afraid that if I give him any ink, people will flock to his side and elect him President.  The reason I did not include Ron Paul is because he has yet to become a significant factor in this election and because he said absolutely nothing new in his speech following his single digit, last place showing in Florida.

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Martinez, Gregg, and Grimm Endorsements Giving Romney an Edge

  Bookmark and Share  Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney received two high profile endorsements today.  One each in the two key early primary states of New Hampshire and Florida.  He also received a third endorsement from a less visible but equally as important freshman Congressman.

In New Hampshire, Judd Gregg, a popular former Governor and three term Senator from the Granite State announced his support
of Romney, and in Florida, former Senator and RNC Chairman Mel Martinez did the same.

Also today, Romney picked up the endorsement of freshman Congressman Michael Grimm.

His endorsement may not attract as much news as Gregg’s and Martinez’s public support but as a former Republican operative in Grimm’s congressional districts which spans Staten Island and Brooklyn, I can tell you, that Grimm’s support is just as important.

Grimm took back the seat formerly held by disgraced Republican Congressman Vito Fossella.   In 2008, the seat went to a Democrat, but in 2010, Michael Grimm won it back for the G.O.P.   The district encompasses the most heavily Republican section of New York City ……all of Staten Island, and the Southwest portion of Brooklyn, which send one of the City’s only Republicans to the New York State Senate.   Beyond that, the political machine that Grimm represents and is controlled by former Congressman Guy Molinari, is an extremely heavy handed, Republican regime with a great deal of influence in the New York G.O.P.  This means that freshman Congressman Mike Grimm’s endorsement of Romney is an early signal of widespread organizational support.  In other words, Romney is locking New York up for himself.

This will help to dissuade others from forcing Romney to spend money on the New York presidential primary, a contest that because of its placement amid very expensive media markets, could be quite expensive.

New York could be important in the nomination process.  It offers 95 delegates, one of the largest in the nation. That’s only four less than Florida,
and because the Sunshine State has violated RNC rules by setting an earlier than allowed date for their primary, they could see their delegate count cut in half.

Unfortunately for Romney though, the New York presidential primary is not held until April 24th.  However; if the early primary contests do not
produce a clear frontrunner thereby allowing us to have a presumptive nominee, New York could be decisive.  In fact mark April 24th on your calendars.  On that day, New York will not be alone in holding its presidential primary.  For the first time, we the 2012 nomination contest will be experiencing a sort of Northeast version of the South’s Super Tuesday.  Call it a Northeast Mega Primary.  On that day 231 delegates will be up for grabs form among  5 Northeastern states:

  • Connecticut – 28 – Primary/Winner-Take-All– Closed
  • Delaware – 17 – Primary/Winner-Take-All– Closed
  • New York – 95 – Primary/Winner-Take-All– Closed
  • Pennsylvania– 72 – PrimaryLoophole Primary – Closed
  • Rhode Island – 19 – Primary/Proportional – Modified

If one of the candidates has not practically wrapped up the nomination by then, Romney could be the one to do it on that day. All 5 of those
states are largely fertile for a Romney.

So while Congressman Grimm’s endorsement may not grab the headlines that Gregg’s and Martinez’s endorsements will, it is as , or even more important.  In the case of Judd Gregg, while he is popular in New Hampshire, his electoral influence is debatable.  In 2000, Judd Gregg, then a sitting U.S. Senator from New Hampshire, endorsed Texas Governor George W. Bush for President and Senator John McCain wound up winning that primary.

Mel Martinez is a different story though.  While how much sway he still has among Florida’s voters is iffy, he does have the potential to influence important parts of the electorate there.  Particularly the higher than average  Cuban-American population. This can only help Romney in a state         where he will need all the help he can to fend off Herman Cain and Rick Perry.

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Yes We Cain! Herman Cain Wins Florida’s Presidency 5 Straw Poll

Bookmark and Share  From a pool of 2,657 registered Presidency 5 voters in Florida’s presidential straw poll , Herman Cain pulled off a significant victory by a significant margin, upsetting both favorite Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.

The Final vote was as follows:

 
 

986 votes  –  37.1%   –   Herman Cain

428 votes  –  15.4%    –  Rick Perry

372 votes  –  14.0%   –   Mitt Romney

289 votes  –  10.9%   –  Rick Santorum

276 votes  –  10.4%   –   Ron Paul

224 votes  –    8.4%    –  Newt Gingrich

  60 votes  –    2.3%    –   Jon Huntsman

  40 votes  –    1.5%    –   Michele Bachmann

 
Herman Cain’s upset victory was a direct result of Perry’s poor performance in Thursday’s Republican presidential debate in which he argued that those who did not believe in offering in-state tuition discounts to illegal immigrants, did “not have a heart”. 
 
Those remarks, combined with good showing by both Romney and Cain, put Cain’s victory in to motion.  During the past two days of Republican electioneering in Friday’s CPAC-FL conference and today’s Presidency 5 convention,there was a clear sense that participants were changing their minds from Perry to Cain and Romney.
 
In addition to that, unlike Perry and Romney, Herman Cain stayed in Florida since Thursday’s debate and attended today’s Presidency 5 event where he delivered a speech that tore the rough of the convention center.  His speech struck at the heart of the limited government cause and beyond that, it conveyed to the audience, that he truly gets the need for real changes in the way government does business.
 
Cain’s vote which was more than twice the size of Perry’s second place vote total, is a strong sign that both Perry and Romney have a long way to go if they intend to win.  The sentiment expressed in Florida today, was a definite indication that the G.O.P. is still looking for a hero and that neither Romney or Perry fit that description yet. 
 
However, Herman Cain just might.
 
He is the perfect anti-establishment candidate.  And that is what voters want.  They do not want politics-as-usual.  On top of that, Cain has an uncanny and quite natural ability to inspire conservatives with his words and tap into their hope for a responsible figure who can be a citizen leader, not a career politician.
 
But the P5 participants are a very Southern evangelical sampling of Republican activists and many of them are also quite familiar with Herman Cain.  Many have made him a part of their lives every weekday via his Atlanta based radio talk show which is widely heard in that region of the U.S..   This gave Cain the perfect opportunity to be the vessel for which voters could send their protest vote through.  That is  not to say that Herman Cain did not earn today’s victory in his own right.  He did.  In his speech he not only demonstrated the capacity to lead, he provided inspiration to a movement that seeks the type of change that is meant to restore liberty to America.  He also showed the career politicians that politics-as-usual will not be good enough this time around.
 
If  Herman Cain can parlay this straw poll win into future victories remains to be seen.   Not long ago, Minnesota Congresswoman Michel Bachmann won the famous Iowa Straw Poll in Ames.  But by her 40 vote, last place finish in Florida, it is safe to say that her Iowa Straw Poll results did not get her very far.
 
One thing that this win is sure to do for Herman Cain, is propel him from back tier candidate, to serious contender.  In addition to raising his name ID, this victory will help him raise money and inject a sizeable dose of dollars into his campaign war chest.  What will also be interesting is whether or not South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s recent claim that she will be endorsing someone who is a true business person, is a reference to Herman Cain or Mitt Romney. After today’s surprise win by Cain, one has to wonder.   
 
An endorsement of Cain by Governor Nikki Haley, is not likely but if it did happen, it would place Herman Cain in a position to win back-to-back primaries in South Carolina and Florida………….a scenario that few have imagined, up till now. 
 
On the flip-side of the coin, the man who probably faired worst in this contest was Ron Paul.
 
Paul’s fans are usually good at hijacking straw polls with ringers brought in from all over the place.  But Presidency 5 is unlike Iowa and other straw polls.  Participants in P5 must be certifies as registered Republicans through their county organizations.  Such certification allows for a more accurate measure of Republican sentiments  than do other forums which do not create conditions similar to actual primary contests.
 
But regardless of anyone else, today belongs to Herman Cain.  Today he stunned the political world and put himself on the map.  There’s a new candidate in town as of today and he promises to make sure that voters don’t just rollover for the perceived frontrunners.  As of today, Herman Cain is going to ensure that the Republican who is nominated president, earns the nomination. 
 
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