Iowa’s Mold Breaker Might Matter

We are discovering the 2012 election cycle dynamic every day.  One thing we have learned already is that things that didn’t matter last week are crucial this week.  The thing we are learning this past week is that money matters, as Mitt Romney surrogates bought waves of negative airtime, Ron Paul bought Michele Bachmann’s Iowa campaign chairman, and Newt suddenly began to realize what a nice thing it would be to have campaign staffs, ground crews, or even counter advertising money.

To Huntsman’s dismay, we may be discovering that Iowa matters.  Let me put it this way.  If Newt Gingrich wins Iowa, it doesn’t really matter.  If Santorum wins Iowa, it will give him some false momentum but Iowa alone won’t matter.  If Bachmann wins Iowa, we will all drop our jaw and then move on with the real race.  If Paul wins Iowa, mainstream Republicans will spend the next few days complaining about how he did his usual ballot stuffing tricks, but then move on.

However, if Mitt Romney wins Iowa, that will be huge.  Iowa has typically stuck to mainstream, evangelical, more conservative than moderate candidates.  Iowa has granted hope to Mike Huckabee in recent years, and Michele Bachmann this year.  Now, with Mitt Romney leading in the polls, it appears that more conservative, evangelical voters are accepting that Romney will win the nomination.  In fact, in this case I wonder what type of dynamic Ron Paul is attributing to Romney’s rise.  Are Iowans viewing Gingrich, Perry and now even Santorum as third party spoilers?

I think with the Iowa dynamic, voters may actually prefer Santorum in the current field.  Instead, it appears that Iowa may end up being about who can beat Barack Obama, or more immediately, who can beat Ron Paul.  At any rate, if Mitt Romney wins, Iowa matters.  As McCain proved in 2008, voting for a candidate primarily because of electability is a tough paradigm to crack once it is set.

One thing is for sure.  If Romney does win in Iowa, Newt is dreaming if he thinks he can turn everything around in New Hampshire.

And the Winner of the Iowa Caucus is……….

Romney and Santorum may surprise all with a first and second place finish, respectively, but South Carolina will be the real winner of the Iowa Caucuses.

Bookmark and Share I am predicting that Mitt Romney will in Iowa and it will go a long way in establishing a sense of inevitability that will help him wrap up the nomination sooner than later.   However; unless Romney racks up a win with 30 or more percent, the results will not matter a great deal and in the end, the real winner will be South Carolina.

Iowa’s caucus history shows that the winners of their nominating contests do not usually go on to become the nominee and President.  More often than not, Iowa caucus voters seem more intent on sending a message to the establishment than sending a nominee to the White House.  This time may be different in the sense that Iowa Republicans may believe that their support for most of the existing candidates will not send any strong message and that Ron Paul, the only candidate for whom a protest vote for would send a clear message, is not in any way a responsible and realistically, viable candidate.   As it is, most Iowa Republicans do not support Ron Paul.  His perceived success in the state so far is due mainly to the Independent and Democrats who are allowed to vote in the caucuses if they change their Party affiliation.

This is something which Paulbots have been planning on taking advantage for a very long time and they are doing a good job at it.

But not good enough.

In the end I believe that between all the back and forth of frontrunner status for one candidate or another, Mitt Romney who has been consistently at the top of the polls in Iowa and who has the strongest organization of all the candidates in the state, will benefit from a social conservative and evangelical vote that is sharply divided between at least four candidates, and from his perceived electability against Barack Obama.  These factors will allow Romney to win the caucus, but unless he wins by an overwhelming amount, it will not do much to help him convince people that he will definitely be the nominee.  That job will be left up to South Carolina, which will actually be the big winner coming out of Iowa.

Everyone knows that Romney will win New Hampshire, so there is little suspense there.  That leaves South Carolina which follows the Live Free or Die State, as the most pivotal of all the early state contests and the greatest beneficiary of the results in Iowa.

It is where Newt Gingrich has been trying to build a firewall and hoping to establish himself as either the frontrunner or the only real viable alternative to Mitt Romney.

South Carolina is also a prelude to the Florida and the momentum provided to the candidate who wins in South Carolina will go a long way in helping that candidate’s chances of winning in the Sunshine State’s primary. 

Even in the unlikely event that Romney blew out all his rivals with a win of  30% or more,  South Carolina will still be an early contest that either solidifies Romney’s lock on the nomination or gives someone else the opportunity to be Romney’s true chief rival as the race moves forward.

These are just simple facts which will not be changed by any result that Iowa produces.  If Senator Rick Santorum happened to pull off a Huckabee-like, 2008, come-from-behind victory, Romney will still dominate in the New Hampshire primary and South Carolina will still host the contest that play a somewhat more decisive role than either New Hampshire or Iowa.

When all is said and done, Iowa will serve one chief purpose.  It will help weed out the field of candidates.  It will help to begin sealing the deal for several of the lower tier candidates, especially Rick Perry.  But even in that capacity, Iowa is not likely to end anyone’s candidacy.  Once again, that mission will be accomplished in South Carolina.

That said, in the tradition of making predictions as one year ends and a new one begins, while I hold true to the belief that Iowa will really only matter if Romney comes in anywhere under third pace, or wins with a large plurality, I also believe that the candidates will finish as follows:

  1. Mitt Romney – 26%
  2. Rick Santorum -21%
  3. Ron Paul – 17%
  4. Newt Gingrich -16%
  5. Rick Perry – 11%
  6. Michele Bachmann – 7%
  7. Jon Huntsman – 2%

I am quite uncertain about those totals, but very confident in the order of each candidate’s placement.

These results will produce several storylines coming out of Iowa.  One will be about whether of not Mitt Romney has a lock on the nomination as he is now on a path to becoming the first non-incumbent Republican presidential candidate to sweep both Iowa and New Hampshire?  The other story will be is Rick Santorum, the new Mike Huckabee and can he translate his strong Iowa showing into a victory elsewhere? 

The other stories that will provide the filler for 24 hour cable news programs, will be can Newt comeback “in South Carolina”? What happened to Ron Paul’s surge? And is this the end for Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann?

The answer to all these questions will be determined by the state which I argue will be the ultimate winner in the Iowa Caucuses…..South Carolina.

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Mackinac Straw Poll Shows Michigan is Still Romney Territory

Bookmark and Share    While the big news of this weekend is Herman Cain’s incredibly strong first place showing in the Florida’s Presidency 5 Straw Poll, a straw poll in Michigan announced Mitt Romney its winner.

Out 681 votes cast from among 1,800 attendees gathered at the 29th Biennial Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference, Romney garnered 346 votes or 51 percent. The candidate who came closest to Romney was Texas Governor Rick Perry who captured 16.8% with 114 votes.

On Saturday, both Perry and Romney had forgone the opportunity to address the P5 Straw Poll in Orlando, Florida and instead opted to address the Mackinac event.

Perry did speak to P5 participants during a Saturday morning breakfast event. And before voting began in that contest, a pre-recorded video message by him was seen by all.

In the case of Mitt Romney, he has made it a policy to not compete in straw polls this year because he would prefer to invest the large amount of resources they require in the actual election rather than contests that have no bearing on the delegate count needed to win the Republican presidential nomination. In 2007, Mitt Romney spent more than $1 million in the Iowa Straw Poll, which he won. But he went on to lose the Iowa Caucuses to Mike Huckabee. Four years later, Romney does not want to divert the time and money from his 2012 campaign to such beauty contests.

Unlike Herman Cain’s win in Florida, Romney was widely expected to win the Michigan event, just as he is expected to win the Michigan Republican presidential primary in 2012. Romney is a native of Michigan and his father was a popular Governor of the state. Romney also won the Michigan primary in the 2008 election cycle.

Since 1953, Michigan Republicans have gathered for the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference every two years at historic Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.. The event allows Party activists to discuss ideas, learn how to articulate the Republican message, and to interact with fellow Republicans from across the state—and the country. The Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference has become one of the premier Republican events in the Midwest.

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Mitt Romney Wants Sarah Palin to Run for President

Bookmark and Share    In an interview with USA Today’s Susan Page, Mitt Romney states that he hopes Sarah Palin runs for President.

According to Romney;

“I think it would be a good thing if she did. She would make the race that much more exciting, bring more people to watch the debates, and I hope she gets in.”

Romney is totally correct on those points.

Palin’s entry into the race would have an incredibly positive affect for Republicans in the 2012 election. It will especially take a lot of ink away from President Obama.

However Romney does not mention the real reason why he would like Palin to run.

With Sarah Palin in the nomination contest, candidates like Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain, will have their vote totals suppressed by Palin’s candidacy which will absorb much of their support. And while she holds down the vote totals of candidate like Bachmann and Perry, Romney has a good chance to see his establishment conservative vote totals surpass all others and wrap up the nomination earlier rather than later.

Of course, with Palin running, there is also a good chance that Romney will lose…………..to her.

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Romney Picks Up Conservative Support From Congress

Bookmark and Share    Darrell Issa , the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has announced that he endorsing Mitt Romney for President. On the surface, the importance of the endorsement is undeniably significant. Issa is considered by many a leading Republican figure in the G.O.P., particularly among Conservatives. As a candidate in desperate need of conservative credentials, Issa’s support helps. But below the surface are two contradicting factors at play with the Issa endorsement.

While Congressman Issa is appreciated in conservative circles, how convincing his endorsement of Romney will be to many Conservatives is in doubt. What is not doubted though, is that Darrel Issa is viewed as an establishment politician and Mitt Romney is not in dire need of support from the establishment. What he needs is anti-establishment support. Particuarly from the TEA movement, a large, active portion of the electorate that is disenchanted with politicians and politics-as-usual. The Issa endorsement does not help Romney on this front.

On the flipside, Darrell Issa’s endorsement does have a significant numerical, if not ideological benefit.

The 172 delegates that California sends to the national convention make up for a tad over 7% of the entire Republican delegation in the country or over 14% of the number of delegates needed to win the presidential nomination. And with California being a winner-take-all primary, that is a significant accumulation of delegates for the winner. That makes Issa’s influence important in California where he may have sway over a significant number of republican activists and leaders in his California congressional district. This will go a long way in providing volunteers for Romney, and organizing his Get Out the Vote operation.

Ultimately, while Darrell Issa’s endorsement of Romney may not exactly be the catalyst for a surefire Romney win, it will make a difference in California, a delegate rich state that will boost any candidate’s chance at winning the nomination.

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All Ahhhh Board! Tim Pawlenty Endorses Mitt Romney

Bookmark and Share    Today Mitt Romney pulled off one of the first surprising twists to the 2012 Republican presidential nomination contest as former Minnesota Governor and the first former 2012 presidential candidate, Tim Pawlenty, endorsed Romney for President.   The Governor described Mitt as the most knowledgable and capable candidate in the field.

The original announcement came on Fox News’ Fox and Friends in the late morning hours of Monday……..

Pawlenty had promised not to endorse any candidate or assist any candidate in the nomination process but in what was a bit of a surprise, not only did the man who was once trying to aggressively oppose Romney, endorse him, later in the day Mitt Romney announced that T-Paw would serve as a national Co-Chair of the Romney for President campaign.

The endorsement is yet another sign of how succesful Romney is becoming at solidifying establishment support.  It is also a sign that many are beginning to perceive Romney as the person who will ultimately be the winner of the Republican nomination.  Pawlenty’s endorsement signals a “get on board before the train leaves the station” mentality that is building despite the rather big splash that Texas Governor Rick Perry made when he cannonballed into the nomination contest on the day of the Iowa Straw Poll and the day before Pawlenty pulled out of the race.

For his part, Pawlenty is not exactly the most obvious of former rivals to endorse Mitt Romney, especially so early on.  For T-Paw, Romney’s candidacy was one of the biggest hurdles to his own presidential candidacy.  As such, Pawlenty aggressively targeted Romney and his record, particularly Mitt’s Massachusetts healthcare plan which Pawlenty famously called ObamneyCare.  But much worse has been said by former rivals who have later gone on to throw their support behind the winning candidate that they once opposed.  In recent history, the race between President Obama and Hillary Clinton for the 2008 Democrat presidential nomination is a prime example of how politics can make strange bedfelows. 

During the 2008 presidential nomination contest, Clinton oozed derision for Obama.  On one occasion she cracked;

 “Now, I could stand up here and say, ‘Let’s just get everybody together. Let’s get unified. The sky will open. The light will come down. Celestial choirs will be singing and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect.'”

The crack was designed to malign the messianic image that many were establishing for then candidate Obama.

During another exchange Clinton stated;

“Sen. Obama’s insistence on repeating attacks that have been demonstrated to be false by independent entities proves once and for all that his speeches about the new politics are just words.”

As for Barack Obama, he took plenty of shots at Clinton.  At one point his campaign even launched a minisite called “Hillary Attacks”. It had the singular purpose of tracking and highlighting Clinton’s negative comments about him.

A year later, candidate Clinton was president Obama’s Secretary of State Clinton.

So there is nothing new with the coming together of former political rivals, but as history shows, the rivals usually ony unite with the winner.  They rarely unite with one another during the election process.  In this case, it is obvious that Pawlenty believes Romney is the winner and he is trying to insure himself a ticket on that gravy train.

Shortly after Pawlenty made his announcement on Fox News, the Romney campaign’s website had posted on it, the following open letter from Pawlenty on their website:

By: Tim Pawlenty

Great crises often produce great leaders. Unfortunately, sometimes the timing isn’t right, and neither is the leader. 

Barack Obama came into office in the midst of a great economic crisis. Although hopes were high, he did not rise to the occasion. Now that the clouds of enthusiasm and excitement have parted, we see he was obviously unsuited for the task at hand.

President Obama has failed to meet America’s economic challenges. 

His three years of spending, regulating and taxing have not restarted the economy. Unemployment remains at a shocking 9.1 percent. Economic growth is hovering on the edge of a renewed recession. 

Abroad, the standing of the United States appears uncertain and adrift under the failed leadership of a president who prefers chastising allies to condemning foes.

Fortunately, America may get a second chance: Mitt Romney is running for president, and I am proud to endorse him. 

Alone among the contenders, he possesses the unique qualifications to confront and master our severe economic predicament. His abiding faith in our country’s exceptional historical position as a beacon of freedom will make him the most important leader in a world that depends upon a strong America to stay at peace.

Having served as Governor of Massachusetts, he turned that state’s budget around from deficit to surplus while simultaneously cutting taxes, but that is not the full measure of what he will bring to the Presidency.  His time in government was a moment of service – a way to give back to our country—following a distinguished career in the private sector, where he launched companies and turned around troubled ones.

When the 2002 Winter Olympics were on the verge of collapse thanks to a bid-rigging scandal, Romney was asked to take over. The attacks of September 11 created a security nightmare. Romney presided over a highly complex security mobilization, addressed the management troubles plaguing the games, and staged one of the most memorable competitions ever seen on American soil.

Romney is running for president because he is deeply committed to our country, troubled by its current condition, and I believe he can turn it around.

He’s formulated an economic plan—a set of alternatives to the government-oriented programs that Barack Obama has put in place—that is unparalleled in the history of American electoral campaigns.  By pressing for fundamental change in the way that Washington taxes and spends, issues regulations, uses energy, interacts with our major trading partners, and deals with our labor force, he fully envisions a way to place America back on the path toward rapid economic growth and full employment.

And at his core, Mitt Romney is a man of great character. He and his wife Ann have been married for more than four decades.  She is the love of his life.  Together, they have five sons and sixteen grandchildren.

But he’s not only a family man, he is a man of principle. He believes in the bedrock conservative ideals of limited government and free enterprise. He will stand up for America’s allies when they are threatened, with fortitude.  And he will face down our adversaries. He is a formidable person, and he will certainly be a formidable president.  Our allies can count on it, and our enemies should expect it. 

Crises indeed produces great leaders.  Sometimes it just takes awhile.

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Romney Shows Some Passion in Exchange with Liberal Iowa Hecklers

Bookmark and Share    A group of liberals set out early this morning to stake territory right in front of a makeshift stage where Mitt Romney was going to speak. The group has been identified as think-tank called Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. Some reports identified them by the name Scrap the Cap . Whatever you call them, they were nothing but as rude as a bunch of Ron Paul fanatics in the back row of a debate.

In the footage below, Mitt Romney can be seen handling one liberal relic from the group who refused to give Romney the chance to speak and answer the question he was being asked. After a long lasting tirade from the questioner, Romney answered the question which essentially was how he would save Social Security and Medicare without reducing benefits.

Once Romney made sure the liberal heckler was finished he said,

“good, now I will give you my answer and if you don’t like it you can go vote for someone else.”

And what was Romney’s response,

 “You ready for my answer? I’m not going to raise taxes”.

The exchange continued as at least three more members of the liberal think tank asked questions. In the Fox News video put together for you by White House 2012, Karl Rove offers an excellent critique of Romney’s handling of the situation. On balance, I gave him an A+. Romney showed that he was human and can be angered, but still maintain his composure. More importantly, he demonstrated some passion. And it is that passion that voters need to see more of if he wants to remain the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination.

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