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.

If a Bush were to ever get back into politics…

On November 3rd, 2008 the idea of a Bush ever running for political office again seemed pretty silly. We had a bad taste in our mouth from George H.W. Bush promising not to raise taxes, and then raising them. We had an even worse taste in our mouth from George W. Bush with his wars and deficits in the couple hundred billions. The name had become synonymous with bad politics and even most Republicans knew that the words “Bush” and “good president” in the same sentence was political suicide.

With all that, very little attention was paid to the Bush in Florida who retired five years ago after reaching the state’s term limit on the governor’s office. Jeb Bush left Florida in a far better position than he found it and still enjoys incredible popularity today in the state.

Jeb Bush is still very popular in Florida

I remember going to a McCain rally in NE Florida during the 2008 campaign. When Jeb was announced to introduce John McCain, I wasn’t the only Floridian on my feet enthusiastically cheering. In fact, we cheered harder for our former governor than we did for McCain.

Jeb still maintains great popularity in the state. A few months ago, Public Policy Polling reported that Bush was the only Florida potential candidate who would defeat Bill Nelson for the Senate seat in 2012, if he ran. This was before Nelson walked away from his seat on the Armed Forces Committee which may seal his 2012 doom no matter who he runs against.

George Bush won Florida in 2000 and 2008. In both elections, those 27 electoral votes would have been the difference between a Gore or Kerry Presidency. In 2008, Obama won Florida, but he could have afforded to lose it. I have little doubt that Florida would go the Republican’s way in a Jeb Bush presidential run.

But what about the rest of the country? For the other 49 states, Jeb is not even on the radar and the name Bush still scares a lot of people. On the other hand, as we face a third year with deficits in excess of a trillion dollars and war under Barack Obama, the name Bush isn’t quite as scary as it used to be.

Bush is fluent in Spanish and has a very good relationship with the Hispanic community. He has been quick to advocate for them and to point out how Democrats use that issue as nothing more than a political advantage. He also has been able to maintain a reputation as a moderate and a conservative; a tricky balancing act that voters can easily see through if not done right.

Bush does have some strikes against him with far right conservatives. He opposed the Arizona immigration law and supports state bankruptcy. This puts him in company with others like Pawlenty and Gingrich, but would certainly raise eyebrows in a 2012 primary that is certain to still be riding the TEA party sentiments of 2010.

Bush has sofar elected to stay out of the 2012 race, but has hinted that he may seek the nomination in the future. Given the political landscape going into this race, this may be a wise decision. While Bush is a solid conservative choice and a proven leader, the current issues and divisions on the right do not favor him. So far he has also opted out of the 2012 Senate race. But if a Bush could ever go back to DC in our lifetimes, it would be Jeb.

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