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.

 

Capitalism a Casualty of Campaign

What is happening to the Republican field?  It made some sense when Cain was attacked for being a businessman with no foreign policy experience and no political experience.  That was perhaps a fair shot at an outsider businessman candidate.

Then came the attacks on Newt for having Freddie Mac as a client.  Newt not only had Freddie as a client, but his firm made over a million dollars.  Suddenly, it was like Newt himself had caused the economic collapse.  Reasonable conservatives told me that this was insurmountable.  How could Newt, a high level business consultant, have Freddie Mac as a client?  His fellow candidates tried to make it sound like Newt was on their payroll.  Suddenly populism had overtaken the Republican party.

Then came the attacks on Romney for his time at Bain Capital.¬† Romney’s company created new businesses, reorganized and saved businesses, and occasionally tried to save businesses and failed.¬† As with any free American enterprise, Bain Capital sometimes downsized and let people go.¬† Romney’s opponents have seized on this, especially with the ignorant populist anti-wall street sentiment in the country today, and have tried to use this against Romney.¬† They have painted him as an out of touch, insanely rich “Mr. Burns” who would go in, take over small companies, and fire everyone just to make a buck.¬† Here’s an idea, how about a millionaire’s surtax on evil rich people like Romney?¬† Oops, we just became liberals.

I know, political rhetoric is political rhetoric.¬† You say whatever it takes to win.¬† But then came the really disappointing moment.¬† GOP rivals jumped on Romney’s statement that he likes to be able to fire people.¬† Romney was not saying that he likes to randomly fire people, or likes to fire employees like Bain Capital did.¬† Huntsman attacked Romney directly for the comment, while Newt released a video exploiting workers who had been fired as a result of Bain Capital’s work.¬† Romney was actually talking about the ability to not have to buy insurance, or to drop an insurance company that isn’t serving his needs.¬† But what does context matter in politics?¬† Shame on them for this line of attack.¬† You know it’s bad when you are attacking a moderate Republican, and even Ron Paul is standing up for the moderate.¬† In fact, my hat is off to Ron Paul for defending Romney against this dishonest line of attack.¬† Newt also eventually came to Romney’s defense about the misquote.

Newt at this point will likely lose Florida, which means he will lose the primary.  Up until this week, at least he had the opportunity to exit with his head held high.  Up to now he had run a very honest, positive campaign.  When he did go negative, it was with honesty.  His best shot at salvaging the honor in his campaign at this point is a humble apology for attacking Romney for being a capitalist.

One final note, may the best capitalist win.¬† Since when has populism won over conservatives?¬† Heck, what’s the point?¬† If Newt is evil for having Freddie Mac as a paying client and Romney is evil for what he did with Bain Capital, then we need to re-elect Obama.¬† Imagine if Trump had stayed in the race.

 

Editors note: correction from the originally posted article.  Newt did defend Romney against the attack based on his statement about firing insurance companies.  However Newt has attacked Romney for the jobs lost through Bain Capital.

These Debates Could Be Game Changers

Come on.¬† We’ve heard these candidates in just over one million debates so far this year.¬† Another one?¬† Another two actually, this weekend leading up to the New Hampshire debates.¬† And these two debates could definitely wreak havoc on the standings going into New Hampshire.

Mitt Romney is the undisputed front runner.¬† Ron Paul and Rick Santorum fans at this point are dreaming if they think their candidates are on a solid trajectory to win.¬† Not winning Iowa should be a clear sign to heavily religious social conservatives like Bachmann, Perry, Santorum and Newt that getting past Romney is going to be nearly impossible with a crowded field.¬† Bachmann got the hint, and Perry almost did.¬† As for Ron Paul, maybe if he runs two more times he can win enough support to break out of his traditional 5-10% polling finish.¬† Look, he’s already doing better this year than last time, and last time he did better than the time before.¬† That was Ross Perot’s and Ralph Nader’s problems.¬† They quit trying too soon.

Back to Mitt Romney.¬† You know he is back on the punching bag hook tonight, a place he hasn’t been since the very first debates.¬† Santorum wants a piece of him, Newt wants a piece of him, Jon Huntsman finally qualified for another debate and you know he wants to take Romney down a peg.¬† I think Perry will try to just get through the night and might take a few shots at Santorum.¬† As far as the #1 conservative attack dog of other conservatives, Michele Bachmann will not be there tonight to claim that Perry is in bed with pharmaceutical companies,¬† Newt Gingrich is pro-partial birth abortion and the number one Freddie Mac adviser responsible for the economic collapse, and whatever she might cook up about Rick Santorum while mostly leaving Paul and Romney alone.¬† So I think Romney will be taking the hits and the other candidates can relax their guard a little bit.

Now, on to the x factor in debates.¬† Newt Gingrich was finished this summer after his campaign collapsed and he proved he was in the top 1% by buying his wife jewelry.¬† I mean how out of touch can you get.¬† But, he has climbed back into contention through powerful and commanding debate performances.¬† Just two weeks ago, Gingrich was the front runner.¬† The difference between Gingrich’s fall and other candidates falls is that their demises can be tied directly to debate performance.¬† Bachmann with her claims about HPV and other wild attacks on the candidates, Perry with his glaring gaffe, Cain who offered 999 and 999, oh yeah and 999.¬† It wasn’t enough substance to save him when scandal gave nervous supporters a reason to doubt.¬† Huntsman affirmed his global warming stance.

Gingrich hurt himself with his illegal immigration stance, but his downfall can be attributed to the harsh attacks he faced over the last two weeks from Romney’s friends, paid allies, and former foes.¬† Ron Paul also attacked Newt, not Romney, with harsh ads in Iowa.¬† Paul has probably done the same math I have, but mistakenly thinks he has a shot with Newt’s base over Romney’s.

The debates are ad free.¬† They are also friend free.¬† The only way Romney can attack another candidate tonight without attacking that candidate directly is to pay off the moderator or a fellow candidate.¬† On that stage, it is going to be Santorum’s “what smells” debate face versus Perry’s memory versus Huntsman’s out of touch moderate stances versus Paul’s old shaky finger wagging versus Romney’s slick hair and nice demeanor versus Newt’s heavy hitting and quick wit and ideas.

If these debates garner an audience, this is all upside for Newt, and downside for front runner Mitt Romney and social conservative front runner Rick Santorum.  In an instance of incredible luck for the candidates in this New Hampshire debate, the New England Patriots get this weekend of playoff action off.

Be Careful Who You Pick As Friends

Ron Paul never had a chance.  It was part him and his abrasiveness,  part his foreign policy that he failed to connect with voters on.  For me, it was also his pro-choice in the states stance on innocent human life.  But one of the reasons Paul never connected with mainstream Republican voters who would normally be drawn to his small government message was his annoying, in your face, loud, obnoxious, and sometimes downright mean supporters.

In fact, much of Paul’s candidacy has seemed like a mean spirited romp that he frankly has had little control over.¬† A perfect example is the racist, black helicopter newsletter that he either edited, or in some cases signed, but claims to have never read.

One thing is clear, the friends of Ron Paul have not helped Ron Paul in this election.

Take note, Mitt Romney, your friends are getting out of hand too.¬† Romney is a great candidate.¬† He is a Reaganite, and I believed even in 2008 in his conversion to pro-life, pro-family issues.¬† He is cool headed on foreign policy, and great on fiscal conservatism.¬† I believe him when he talks about states rights and the tenth amendment separating what he did in Massachusetts from what he would do in the Whitehouse.¬† I’ve said before that I think it is criminal what his opponent did in 2008, insinuating that he was going to cut and run from Iraq.¬† I will admit that I had hoped Newt would run in 2008, but when he didn’t, I supported Mitt Romney.

Now Mitt needs to be careful.¬† His friends are getting a little crazy.¬† I have been chronicling Ann Coulter’s conversion from right wing radical conservatism to mainstream moderate in her love affair support for Mitt Romney, and it appears the conversion is complete.¬† In her latest newsletter, she blasts Rick Santorum as a “right wing zealot” and calls him a Catholic, not a conservative.

Coulter also lists why only Romney is electable.¬† Ready?¬† Pay attention kids.¬† If you were merely a congressman or congresswoman, you can’t win.¬† If you have a Texas accent, you can’t win.¬† If you ever had a business with prominent clients who did bad things later on in life, you can’t win.¬† If you are a Catholic, you can’t win.¬† If you have ever cheated on a spouse, you can’t win.¬† If you’ve been divorced, you can’t win.

Apparently, if you are a Mormon, you can win, but not if you are a Catholic.  If you started your career as a pro-choice candidate, you can win, but not if you ever had dinner with a pro-choicer.  If you instituted and still defend a personal insurance mandate you are electable, but if you at any time thought one would be a good idea, you are unelectable.  If you believe in Global Warming, you are OK by Ann.  If you do an ad with a Democrat saying you believe in generic climate change, forget it.

As John McCain taught us yesterday, campaign rhetoric is campaign rhetoric.  If Newt or Santorum wins, Coulter will have a lot of backstepping and bridge rebuilding to do.  Judging from what she says now, we might be tempted to think she would vote for Obama over Newt or Santorum.  Time for a reality check.  Coulter is in full campaign mode for Mitt Romney.  Give it a few months and we will get back the fiery, anti-liberal conservative Ann Coulter we used to know and love.  The question is if she will get us back.

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?

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.

Debunking Newt Mythology

Ok, hold on a minute.¬† Let’s talk about Newt.

The left has gone all in on Newt.  After three years of seeing that the Democrats have an empty hand with Obama, they have put all their chips on the table and dared us to run Newt.  And as usual, we are folding.  Same thing happened in 2008 when the left and the media scoffed at Mitt Romney and said that the only candidate who could ever beat their guy was John McCain.  Believe it or not, we listened.  For the smarter party, Republicans sure can be stupid.

Now the left is saying it will be a cake walk if we run Gingrich and the only serious candidate who can beat their guy is Romney, or maybe Huntsman, although they seem to have figured out that one is a hard sell.  So why are we listening again?  Ann Coulter came out slamming Newt and endorsing Romney.  George Will has attacked Newt Gingrich.  And what for?

Newt got $1.8 million from Freddie Mac.¬† Not really, it was actually Newt’s company.¬† But he did it by lobbying.¬† Well, again, no.¬† Newt did not lobby for Freddie Mac, but his company did provide consulting services to Freddie Mac.¬† Now, I am a businessman and a lot of what I do involves consulting.¬† Does that mean I can never run for President in case one of my clients does something bad someday despite my advice?¬† Maybe.

Let’s take it out of the business realm.¬† Pretend you own a garage and you fix cars.¬† If George Soros drives up and asks you to change the oil, will you turn him away?¬† Are you a liberal if you change his oil?¬† What about Bernie Madoff before he was caught?¬† Are you part of his illegal pyramid scheme because you changed his tires?

It would be one thing if Newt counseled Freddie Mac on how lose billions of dollars, get bailed out, and pay everyone huge bonuses.  But if you are looking for that smoking gun, you are looking at the wrong person.  Try Franklin Raines, Jamie Gaerlick, etc.  Enough with the guilt by association.  Newt did consulting for large businesses, and they paid his company rates that large, multi-billion dollar businesses pay for high level consulting.

Ok, but Newt sat on a couch with Nancy Pelosi.¬† Yes, he did.¬† He also had debates with Cuomo, Kerry and Sharpton.¬† Newt Gingrich is not going to implement cap and trade to prevent global warming.¬† That’s about as crazy as saying Mitt Romney is going to support partial birth abortion.¬† Seriously, you have my word that neither of those will happen.¬† Newt wasn’t endorsing Nancy Pelosi any more than Al Sharpton was endorsing Pat Robertson.¬† If Sarah Palin stood next to Michelle Obama and did a PSA saying its good for kids to have a healthy diet, would you suddenly think that Palin supports federal government takeover of school lunches? Newt has fought vigorously against cap and trade.

Well, what about Newt supporting a healthcare mandate?¬† When Hillary was pushing Hillarycare, which would take responsibility away from people, Newt signed on with the Heritage Foundation’s alternative that included an individual mandate. After researching it, Newt backed off that position.¬† He never implemented it for an entire state, or for anyone actually.¬† Newt is not going to implement a healthcare mandate on the entire country.¬† Guess what, neither is Romney.

In fact, let’s talk Romney for a minute.¬† Mitt Romney is pro-life.¬† He opposes gay marriage.¬† He makes Huntsman look like Hillary.¬† He supports tax cuts for the middle class and not raising taxes on employers and producers.¬† As much as Romney has been painted as the liberal in this bunch, he was the most conservative viable candidate in 2008 after Fred Thompson dropped out.¬† He may not be a card carrying TEA Party member, but he has said himself that he supports the TEA Party and shares all of their goals.¬† By the way, I never got a card either.¬† I really don’t think they issue them, even if Bachmann has one.

Why did Romney lose in 2008?¬† It all came down to two reasons.¬† Number one, Romney was not moderate enough to get the “independents”.¬† He was too conservative.¬† Only John McCain could beat the Democrat in 2008 by reaching across the aisle and not being so extreme.¬† Reason number two, the infamous time-table for withdrawal charge.¬† Romney said that when the time came to draw down the troops from Iraq, he supported a time-table for an orderly withdrawal.¬† His opponents turned that into Democrat style cut and run.¬† No matter how many times he tried to explain that was not what he believed, that became the mantra.

What about Rick Perry?¬† Why aren’t we going around saying that Rick Perry is going to implement cap and trade because years ago he was a Democrat working on the campaign of the future Nobel prize winner and global warming snake oil salesman, Al Gore?

The only person we have to actually worry about doing half the crazy stuff he’s been accused of thinking is Ron Paul!

So let’s not let people choose our candidate for us.¬† Research what you hear about candidates.¬† Just because George Will thinks you are too dumb to vote doesn’t make it so.¬† Each of the candidates left have some great ideas, and each one will do a far better job at running this country than the current President.¬† Did Cain have some foreign policy gaffes?¬† Shoot, the last three years have been an Obama foreign policy gaffe.

Part of this election cycle that Romney has skipped sofar has been the knife in the back from the right and the dare to run that candidate from the left.¬† Considering how well Newt is handling this complete onslaught from the right and left, wouldn’t you rather have him going up against Obama than the candidate that no one is vetting?¬† McCain got plenty of vetting after Romney dropped out in 2008.

This is not an endorsement of Newt.  I will make an endorsement of a candidate after the Jacksonville, Florida debate in January.  But this is a serious question to our party.  Why do we have to self destruct again?

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