A Two Horse Race

Bookmark and ShareWith the 3rd major Republican primary debate in the books there are 2 candidates whom have begun to distance themselves from the pack. Mitt Romney looked and sounded presidential as he took shots from and at the man who has unseated him as the early polling frontrunner, Texas governor Rick Perry. Perry was the self described ‘pinata’ as he wore the target as the newest candidate and he did not disappoint, handling well the shots coming at him as well as throwing some shots towards his main opponent.

There were other candidates on the stage but the debate quickly became the Romney/Perry show.

Rick Santorum didn’t do anything to hurt himself but certainly didn’t help himself either. He looked as if he were either miffed that the debate was becoming about the 2 top candidates or that he had just sucked on a lemon. Newt, always the smartest guy in the room, had some good answers but again went after the record of the media instead of the records of his opponents. Michelle Bachmann didn’t have the opportunity that she did in the first two debates to showcase her TEA party credentials and didn’t do anything to stand out. She has simply been overshadowed by the entrance of Perry. Herman Cain stuck to his buisness leader guns but is quickly fading away as he fails to have the power or ability to shine above the other candidates. Jon Huntsman was doing a good job until he got led into his global warming stance which is a quick turn off for most GOP primary voters. Ron Paul did something he normally shy’s away from and took some shots at fellow Texan Perry but again fell prey to his lack of communication skills and undoubtedly hurt the small amount of momentum he gained in Iowa.

In my opinion Romney looked more presidential, whatever that means, and remained calm and well spoken. Romney deserves the win in the 1st head to head showdown between himself and Rick Perry. Perry handled the expected barrage of shots across his bow from his opponents and came out strong in the beginning. As the debate went on Perry seemed to fade and Romney still stood out. Perry also made some bulletin board comments that his opponents, and especially liberals, will pin up and go after every time he speaks. For that he gets the 2nd place finish. The polls in the next week will be interesting. Will Perry hold onto his entering momentum….or will Romney have gained back the spot he has held since the beginning?

It would be hard pressed for any conservative who is voting Republican to deny that after this debate there are 2 candidates that distanced themselves from the rest. Mitt Romney and Rick Perry.

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The Disadvantage of Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann

Bookmark and ShareThe debt. The deficit. The debt ceiling. Default. Social security checks. Medicare payments. Balanced Budgets. Tax increases. Gang of six. Cut, Cap and Balance. Headlines all in the past week. Headlines that, for the most part, the Republican candidates for President have been able to take a stand on without actually having to take a solid position. That is unless you are Ron Paul or Michele Bachmann, the 2 candidates who are sitting members of the House Of Representatives.

2012 GOP Presidential leader and former MA Governor Mitt Romney has stated that “The answer for the country is for the president to agree to cut federal spending, to cap federal spending and to put in place a balanced budget amendment.” “If the president were to do those things, this whole debt issue would disappear.” He has declined to say whether he would support a compromise.

Former MN Governor Tim Pawlenty said in Iowa this week, “Eventually you run out of money, but what you do is you buy yourself a bunch of time to have the debate about real reform.” A vague statement but one that allows him to offer an opinion without having to land solidly behind a plan.

Paul and Bachmann however are forced, through their House seats, to vote for or against the actual plans. They are not afforded the luxury to simply make broad statements without taking a position that the other candidates are. Both Paul and Bachmann were also among the nine House Republicans who voted Tuesday night against the ‘cut, cap and balance’ bill that would reduce 2012 spending by more than $100 billion, cap it over the next decade and prohibit more government borrowing until Congress passes a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. Harry Reid has vowed it will not pass the Senate and the President has vowed to veto it if it does.

Ron Paul said it wouldn’t live up to it’s promises, passing the cuts off for years and Bachmann said it didn’t go far enough to cut spending.

So are candidates that hold seats in Congress at a disadvantage when it comes to being able to use the rhetoric on an issue? Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who was a top economic policy adviser to Republican Party presidential nominee John McCain in 2008 but not aligned with any of the contenders this time around stated, “What they would like to have is the issue and that’s the difference between them and the congressional leaders. They need an issue. The congressional leaders need a result.”

We will see in the coming days and months leading up to the Iowa caucus if the other candidates try to pull the votes of Paul and Bachmann into the fray. While the other candidates can rely on rhetoric and easily take the stance that the polls dictate are popular, sitting members of Congress have to take a solid stand on the bills before them. A disadvantage for sure in a large candidate field with a mere 2 current legislators in it’s ranks.

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Tim Pawlenty Could Stand To Gain While The Big Names Sit On The Sidelines

Bookmark and ShareThe 1st GOP Presidential debate is in the books. There are those who feel it lacked the “Wow” factor that it would have had if the top polling candidates had taken part. With Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin all declining to attend, the field was filled with candidates whose names are not well known on a national scale. Texas congressman Ron Paul is probably the exception to that statement but his public persona and Libertarian views have never played well to most in the GOP.

Of the remainder of the field that included former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and conservative talk show host Herman Cain, Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, it may have been Pawlenty that came out with the most to gain from the absence of the big name candidates.

Most of those polled said that they came away with a better opinion of Herman Cain than any other candidate. I agree. Cain came away as the non-politician’s politician but he is an unknown to most voters and will need much more than this debate to get the recognition he will need to mount a serious run. Santorum is known to a certain degree through his work on Fox News but has established himself as the social issues candidate so far in a time where the economy will likely reign supreme. Gary Johnson is the poor man’s Ron Paul and did little to move up the ladder in the debate and at points looked uncomfortable on the stage. Ron Paul is simply Ron Paul. Most Republican’s tend to agree with his economic stances and most independents with his social stances but he has difficulty communicating them in a manner that helps him in a conservative GOP primary.

That leaves Pawlenty, who did little to “Wow” the audience but came across as a solid candidate when put next to the CEO with little experience, the Libertarian’s with little communication skills and the evangelical social issue guy, as a possible challenger to the big name candidates who themselves have issues that will be exploited if and when they decide to enter the race. Romney has to answer for his health care program he implemented while Governor of MA. Gingrich has had marriage issues that have haunted him for years. Huckabee has issues regarding his stances on crime while Governor of Arkansas and Palin, well she has always incurred the wrath of the media and I expect if she decides to run in 2012 it will be no different.

So although he may have not brought the “wow” factor with him to South Carolina last Thursday night, it could be Tim Pawlenty who very well takes away the most from the debate. Although Herman Cain may have hit the “wow” factor it was Pawlenty who by reason of recognition stands to gain the most from the decision of the big names to sit this one out. If he stays on message and the more recognizable names continue to sit dormant, Tim Pawlenty has one up on the other candidates.

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Where They Stand. White House 2012’s Monthly Ranking of the Republican Presidential Contenders

Bookmark and Share For the fourth month in a row, Mitt Romney remains ranked number one on White House 2012’s ranking of the Republicanpresidential contenders. Each month a formula that combines the ranking of each member of White House 2012’s contributing staff establishes the final results. And they are as folLows:
  1. Mitt Romney
  2. Mitch Daniels
  3. Tim Pawlenty
  4. Newt Gingrich
  5. Sarah Palin
  6. Rick Santorum
  7. Mike Huckabee
  8. Ron Paul
  9. Gary Johnson
  10. Donald Trump
  11. Jon Huntsman
  12. Michele Bachmann
  13. Herman Cain
  14. Rick Perry
  15. John Bolton
  16. General David Petraeus
  17. Jim DeMint
  18. Rudy Giuliani
  19. Chris Christie
  20. Buddy Roemer

During the month of April, therewere notruly dramatic shifts from the previous month. The top ten remains largely the same with a few moves up or down for some.

Although not an announced candidate, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels continues to hold on to the number two spot, while Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty switch places asNewt drops a notchto fourth place and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty moves up oneto third. Former Alaska Governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin holds on to fifth place and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorummaintains sixth place.

The most significant jump up in the ranking for any candidate, comes from to self-describedLibertarian-Republican and former Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson. He moves up four slots to ninth place. Fairing the worst in the WH12ranking is conservative South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint. DeMinthas repeatedly stated that he will not run for President, but with his intention to be a part of the process in order to shape the debate, there is still a perceived lingering chance for him to become a late entry in the race, especially if there does not rise to the surface a clear conservative choice in the field. But the chances of that are slipping as DeMintfallssix places, to 17th.

New to the WH12ranking this month is former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer. Out of twenty slots, he comes in 20th. He may begin to rise a littleafter Thursday’s presidential debate in South Carolina on Fox News. With only a few of the possible candidates attending, this will probablybe one of Roemer’s only chances of getting noticed and for people to learn that he is running.

If there is anything to berealized from this month’s WH12ranking, it is that there have been no events or movements by potential candidates that have swayed people one way or the other. Thus confirming that the 2012 election is running on a later schedule than it did in 2008. Aside from the confirmation that Haley Barbour is not running and that Donald Trump is looking like he may run, little has changed the conventionalthinking regarding Mitt Romney’s tentative frontrunner status which is a natural result of his 2008 campaign for President.And there is nothing that has changed the ability for Mitch Daniels to be a significantly competitiveforce if he decides to run. At the same time, according to WH12’sranking, based upon the current pool of possible candidates, names like Gingrich, Santorum, and Palin seem to show that they have a good chance of also being competetive, top-tier candidates.

In the end, at this point in time, it is anyone’s guess who Republicans will have opposing President Obama in 2012. That lack of a solid and obvious choice simply creates more and more doubt as many speculate that some yet unnamed, late entries in to the race will surface. With some names having announced that they will definitelynot run in 2012, we are left wondering who those late entrants might be. Could Texas Governor Rick Perry be pulled in to the race? Will one of the dynamic, but still untested, new governors be drawn in to the nomination contest? Is it possible that any number of them can enter the race, such as Nevada’s Brian Sandoval, New Mexico’s Susana Martinez, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker or even slightly more senior newbies like Virginia’s Bob McDonnell or New Jersey’s powerhouse, Chris Christie? It is possible but highly unlikely. Any one of them have a much better shot at ending up on the presidential nominee’s vice presidential short list.

Could a fed up Republican from the senate enter? That too is possible. Maybe someone like Wyoming’s Senator, Dr. John Barrasso, or Alabama’s Jeff Sessions decide there just isn’t a suitable candidate in the race and so they jump in themselves.While the chance is there, it is quite slim. If any name that has not yet been discussed becomes a surprise candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, expect it to come from somewhere outside of politics. Like from the ranks of successful entrepreneurs. Maybe some wealthy, virtually unknownname like that of former naval reserve intelligenceofficer John Crowley,will stepon to the stage and sucks the air out of the room. John Crowley is the highly successful owner of a biotech company. But his business was not based on money, it was based on love. Love for his children who had a disease so rare, that the biotech industry had no incentive to pursuea successful treatment for it. So against all odds, Crowley started his own biotech company. Not only did the risky move produce a succesful treatment that keeps his children alive, his company continues to make new breakthroughs within the industry.

In 2010, because the Crowley story was so powerful, it was made into a movie, “Extraordinay Measures” starring Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser.

A person like Crowley has the type of intelligence, personal fortitude and can-do spirit that is truly American and that American’s can truly appreciate. And Crowley’s ability to translatethat into political success can not be underestimated.

fortunatelyfor President Obama, Crowley is not likely to run for President. Instead, to the fortune of the state of New Jersey, John Crowley may be running for the United States Senate against Bob Menendez. But there are many other compelling success stories andexamples of true leadership that exist outside of the halls of Congress or governor mansions. So there could still be a surprise candidate who could shake things up, but the clock is ticking and the opportunity to be a viable candidate is dwindling. Short of that, this month’s White House 2012 ranking is the way we see the nomination going so far.

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Romney’s Iowa Strategy; Surrender or Fight?

Bookmark and Share Reports have it that Mitt Romney is mulling over the possibility of skipping the Iowa Caucuses in 2012 and having his campaign launch in New Hampshire, the state with the second nominating contest in the nation.
In 2008, Romney ran an aggressive and expensive campaign in Iowa. In fact, Romneys Iowa journey began in 2007 when he was the first to start airing campaign ads. Just in preparation for the Ames. straw poll, an important summertime precursor to the Winter caucus Mitt Romney had hired a legion of 60 statewide, so-called super-volunteers, that were paid between $500 and $1,000 per month to campaign for him; over $2.4 million in television ads, a top notch direct-mailing campaign that along with other non-TV campaign materials cost another $2.5 million in , and a consultant who managed Mitts straw poll campaign for $200,000. None of the other Republican contenders came close to either Romneys organization skills or size, or the financial investment he dumped into the state. And that was just up until the time of the straw poll which was held in August of 2007. When the straw poll results were in , Romney won with 32%, which consisted of 4,516 votes. Translating in to financial costs, that meant Romney spent approximately $1,107 per vote for a total of about $5 million.

By the time the actual Iowa Caucus rolled around , five months later in 2008, Romney more than doubled the $5 million he had spent up till the straw poll. But in the end, he lost the Iowa Caucus to Mike Huckabee by 9.18%. Huckabee spent a fraction of what Romney spent and he received 40,841 votes or 34.41% and Romney garnered 29,949 with 25.23%. Interestingly, John McCain, the man who ultimately went on to win the Republican nomination, he came in fourth place with 15,559, 13.11% of the vote. So was Romneys investment in Iowa worth the bang for his buck? In retrospect, it sure wasnt. Having saved his money in Iowa didnt hurt John McCain. But McCain went on to win in New Hampshire, a state that by nature of demographics, Romney should have won. This time, it looks like Romney is realizing that.

Despite the rash of recent reports about Romney skipping Iowa are not new. The thought of bypassing Iowa in 2012 has been in play by the Romney camp for quite a while now. In an October 20, 2009 article for the Iowa Republican by Craig Robinson, Robinson pointed out that Mitt had over $400,000 in his Iowa state PAC, when his presidential campaign ended in early February of 2008 and since the fall of 2008, he had been draining the funds from that PAC.

Robinson also pointed that in June of 2009, Romneys Iowa PAC was down to $203,380.91 and instead of making contributions to county party organizations and legislative candidates, Robinson writes he was using the state PAC to subsidize the salaries of aides, like his former campaign manager, Beth Myers, and Eric Fehrnstrom, his former communications director. They were expenditures that had nothing to do with supporting Iowa candidates or building an organization for his leadership PAC.

All things considered it is easy to see that that the notion of ignoring Iowa has been in the back of Romneys mind for a while and it is also easy to understand why.

After the all out effort that Romney put into Iowa in 2008 and recent polls which show Iowa Caucus voters preferring Mike Huckabee to him, Mitt has to consider the possibilities of not only Huckabee running again, but of the possible candidacies of people like Sarah Palin, Mike Pence, John Thune and possibly even Rick Santorum. If all of these candidates were to run in Iowa, they could sharply divide the large evangelical vote that Romney is not fairing well with, thereby giving him the chance of consolidating the rest of the vote into a win. But if from that group, only one or two of them run, such as Huckabee or Palin, than Romney risks coming in second or even worse. That result would probably grab the headlines more than the winner would. This would make Romney vulnerable, not so much in New Hampshire but especially in South Carolina, an increasingly important lead in state to the delegate rich Southern contests.

The question becomes this. If Romney cant win in Iowa, can he win in South Carolina, a state that has an evangelical vote of similar influence to that of Iowas? And if Mitt cant win South Carolina, can he seriously compete in the significant string of Southern states that follow?

Mitts thinking could easily be to focus on insuring that he wins the New Hampshire primary that should be in his pocket but lost to McCain last time, and then build up at least the impression of momentum with a win in Nevada followed by even the smallest of wins in South Carolina. Perhaps by taking the money and time that he would have placed into Iowa, and invest it in South Carolina instead, will help provide his campaign with the type of long term strategy that he needs to keep him alive in places like Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and other high delegate count states.

As for Iowa, Mitts strengths exist in the Northeastern and Western border counties of the state. These are some ofIowas most highly populated counties. If Mitt was able to target these approximately 18 counties and increase his pluralities in them, he could have a shot at reversing the results of 2008. And if Huckabee is his major opponent in Iowa, it is worth noting that Huckabee has a rather large Achilles heal that all his rivals could easily exploit. The issue of the multiple clemencies that Huckabee gave as Governor of Arkansas, and subsequently resulted in additional crimes, including the death of 4 police officers in Washington state, will take some of the shine off Huckabee. It is also an issue which could be a decisive factor in Huckabees decision to run or not to run.

But Mitt has to make a decision regarding Iowa soon. If he does plan on competing in Iowa, he cant wait too long to snap his organization back together. But Romney has made sure that a final decision has not yet been made on Iowa. Since Craig Robinson’s, 2009 piece in the Iowa Republican, reported more than $100,000 in expenditures from his Iowa political action committees in the final fundraising report of 2010. His Iowa PAC also contributed $10,000 to the gubernatorial campaign of Terry Branstad, $1,000 to Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey and State Auditor David Vaudt, as well as a $2,500 contribution to Senate candidate Joni Ernst and $1,500 to Iowa Senate candidate Andrew Naeve All totaled, Romneys Free and Strong – Iowa PAC ended the year with more than $108,000 in cash on hand.

So Romney has not closed the door on Iowa just yet. That decision will likely come when he knows who he will be running against.
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