Obama in Jax, Mayor Out of Town

Obama received a cool reception in Jacksonville, FL on Thursday, where his campaign managed to give away about 3,000 tickets to bring a crowd into the smaller venue in town.  Also in attendance were protestors from several GOP groups.  One notable absence was Democrat mayor Alvin Brown.  This is the second Obama appearance he has been out of town for.

Obama greeted by the locals

It is not surprising that Brown hasn’t rearranged his schedule to join the President.  The Mayor has been accused by many of being too conservative to be a Democrat.  Even with the latest budget, he refused to raise taxes and instead sought to cut spending again.  Also, instead of demeaning business owners, Mayor Brown has spent a great deal of time courting businesses and bringing them (along with their jobs) to Jacksonville.

Jacksonville is an important swing city in a very important swing state.  Last time around, Obama drew a crowd of 9,000 at the Veterans Memorial.  It was the day before the election and Obama mistakenly thought he was in Ohio.  It’s still early in the race, and Obama could ramp up attendance as we get closer.  But the vibe in town was certainly different than it was four years ago.  Obama no longer carries the big tent revival aura or celebrity status that he once did.  I would be surprised if he lost northeast Florida by only 8,000 votes this time around.

Obama: Vote for Romney

Obama made a huge ecnomic policy speech in Ohio today.  He reiterated much of his Keynesian stump speeches from the last four years.  Then he gave a clear, unintentional endorsement of Mitt Romney.  Obama said “If you want to give the policies of the last decade another try, then you should vote for Mr. Romney”.

Obama’s self-delusional miscalculation is that he thinks things are better now than they were 6 years ago.  In fact, Democrats in the House and Senate might really want Obama to just shut up now.  Let’s consider the “polices of the last decade”.

When Pelosi/Reid took over Congress, they inherited a 4.4% unemployment rate.  At the end of 2008, it was 7.3%.  The last time unemployment was under 8% was January, 2009.

Since 2002, George W. Bush had 27 months of unemployment under 5%.  Obama had one month, his first in office, with unemployment below 8%.

The last month Republicans controlled the House and Senate, December 2006, unemployment was at 4.4%.  The last month Democrats controlled the House and Senate, December 2009, unemployment was at 9.9%.

In fact, Obama has a job growth chart that he loves to show (right up until May) that shows jobs lost and gained.  But he only shows it since 2008.  I’ve included the graph below since 2001.  Note the correlation between job growth and who controls Congress.

Was Obama talking about Bush, or Pelosi/Reid?

Obama has attempted to hit Romney on job creation by saying Romney’s state was as low as 47th in job creation.  But what Obama does not mention is that at that point Massachussetts already had 4.7% unemployment.  It would be the equivalent of saying LeBron James is short because he grew fewer inches than any fifth grader this year.

While Obama cheers an unemployment rate that has dropped to 8.2%, real unemployment remains at about 14.5%.  This rate includes people who have dropped out of the workforce and people who have taken interim under employment.

The last time the deficit was under $1 trillion was 2008.  The last time the deficit was under $500 billion was 2008.  In fact, even adjusted for inflation, you would have to add up all of Bush’s deficits going back through 2004 to equal one of Obama’s.  The last time we had a monthly budget surplus?  September, 2008.

The message from Obama was clear.  If you want 4.4% unemployment, you need to elect Mitt Romney and Republicans to the House and Senate.  If you want deficits under $500 billion per year, you need to elect Mitt Romney.  If you want unemployment at 9-10%, give Pelosi/Reid control over Congress.  If you want another four years of trillion dollar deficits and unemployment over 8%, re-elect Barack Obama. If you want the policies of the last decade when we had a record number of months of job growth, then do what Obama said.  Vote for Mr. Romney.

Will The Importance of Ohio in the General Election Determine Who Romney Nominates for Vice President?: The Herd Looks at Rob Portman

Bookmark and Share  The Herd is a special White House 2012 series covering the obvious and not so obvious names that Mitt Romney may consider for Vice President.  Each day, White House 2012 will introduce you to one of the many Republicans which we believe that will  at least be considered for the vice presidency by the now inevitable presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.

In addition to biographical information and a brief assessment of each potential nominee and their chances of being selected by Romney, White House 2012′s coverage also includes each potential nominee’s voting records, as well as a listing of their public statements and links to their web sites.

Today White House 2012 offers a look at Ohio Senator Rob Portman

Ohio Senator Robert Portman

Born Robert Jones Portman (1955-12-19) December 19, 1955 (age 56) Cincinnati, Ohio
Political Party Republican
Spouse(s) Jane Portman
Residence Terrace Park, Ohio
Alma Mater Dartmouth College (B.A.) University of Michigan (J.D.)
Profession Attorney
Religion United Methodist

Professional Experience:

  • Owner, Golden Lamb Inn in Lebanon, Ohio,
  • Attorney, Squire, Sanders, & Dempsey
  • Attorney, Patton, Boggs and Blow
  • Congressional Aide
  • White House Aide

Political Experience:

  • Associate Counsel to the President, 1989
  • Director, White House Legislative Affairs, 1989-1991
  • Won, Special Election, United States House of Representatives, May 4, 1993
  • Representative, United States House of Representatives, 1993-2005
  • Senator, United States Senate, 2010-present

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Casual observers of politics may not be very familiar with the name Bob Portman, but in the world of economics Portman is highly regarded as a leading budget hawk, a reputation he established during his 6 terms as a Congressman and as a former Director of Management and Budget. His leadership has been marked by proposals for a balanced budget, fighting against irresponsible earmarks, attempts to put in place new transparency for all federal spending, and when he was Director of Management and Budget, for reducing the size of the federal deficit by more than half of its size at the time.

Prior to becoming the cabinet level Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Senator Portman held another cabinet level post as U.S. Trade Representative. There, Portman implemented and enforced trade policies that successfully reduced barriers to U.S. exports and increased enforcement of trade laws which helped to level the playing field for American farmers, workers and service providers. That is an accomplishment that could have significant appeal to many pivotal, farming oriented states.

Another point that could have vast electoral appeal is that under Portman’s leadership, American exports increased and the U.S. brought its first successful legal case against China.

Through it all, while Portman closely adhered to conservative orthodoxy, he still managed to establish another reputation for himself as a successful bipartisan leader and through his bipartisan efforts effectively maneuvered legislative initiatives through Congress which increased retirement savings, reformed the IRS and added over fifty new taxpayer rights, curbed unfunded mandates, reduced taxes, and expanded drug prevention and land conservation efforts.

Now entering his second year as United States Senator representing the important swing state of Ohio, Portman’s reputation and proven record could make him a prime target for Romney if he wants to balance the ticket with a solid conservative who has particular expertise with the budget matters that are playing such a critical role in this election, and who is not seen as an overly partisan politician, while at the same time can make the difference between winning and losing Ohio in the general election…….a factor which could very well mean winning or losing the presidency of the United States. It is that consideration which has led many political insiders to conclude that Romney will in fact pick Portman to be his rinning mate.

While too much weight is probably being placed on that for anyone to defintively state Portman will be the vice presidential nominee, the Ohio factor is certainly compelling.

Historically, the choice of a running mate has done little to affect the results of a presidential election. The last time it did come very close to making the difference in the presidential election was 52 years ago, when then Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy selected Texas Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson to be his vice presidential running mate. That decision helped to assure that the close election of 1960 (Kennedy defeated Nixon by 0.16% of the popular vote), would swing to Kennedy in the Electoral College where the final 303 to 219 electoral vote count was the closest since 1916. Kennedy and Johnson had no love for one another. In fact it was just the opposite. However, politics makes for strangebedfellows and so the Kennedy-Johnson alliance was born to insure winning the White House.

It is also worth remembering that the last time the state which a vice presidential running mate came from could have made a big difference was in the year 2000 when the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the Florida Supreme Court and order the Democrat led attempts to reinterpret voter intent in only those counties which Al Gore won, be stopped. In that election, had one of Florida’s favorite sons, Senator Connie Mack, accepted the offer from Dick Cheney to be George W. Bush’s vice presidential running mate, the results in Florida would not have been quite as close as they were, and the nation would have been spared the more than one month long anguish and uncertainty of who the next President was going to be.

Data indicates that the selection of a Vice President usually affects most elections by one percent or less, or by the most, two percent nationally. But the same data shows that the selection of a V.P. candidate can affect the vote in the home state of the chosen vice presidential candidate by as much as four percent. Given these facts and the very likely possibility for this election to be close, at least in the Electoral College, a swing of as much as four percent in a battleground state like Ohio or Florida, could make all the difference between winning and losing in the Electoral College. Which is why like Rob Portman in Ohio, Jeb Bush of Florida and Bob McDonnell of Virginia must also be considered as very real a potential running mate for Mitt Romney.

Given these facts and the fact that Republicans may not be able to win the White House without winning Ohio (no Republican has ever been elected President without it), Portman could be the only available favorite son from Ohio who could change that state’s popular vote so significantly that it could swing it and the entire election to Romney. Therefore, when it comes to Rob Portman being on the ticket, at some point the powers that be may decide that they can’t win the election without Portman helping to make sure they win Ohio. Personally I do not believe that Portman is as of yet popular enough in the Buckeye State to ensure a G.O.P. victory there but he also can’t hurt the chances of pulling out a G.O.P. victory there.

All things considered, Senator Portman is probably one of the safest, least controversial, and most logical choices for any Republican presidential nominee to select as their running mate and therefore, like Bobby Jindal, Bob McDonnell, Mitch Daniels, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree, John Thune, Portman becomes a leading contender.

Pros:

  • Portman might influence the results in Ohio by a margin that could deliver Ohio for Republicans and winning Ohio is practicial required in order for Republicans to win the White House
  • Could please conservatives who not yet sold on Romney
  • Portman corners the market for Republicans on the issues most critical in this election…. the economy
  • Is experienced in areas of trade, another important issue
  • He is not a lightning rod for liberal attacks and his addition to the ticket would not invite a litany of distractions during the campaign

Cons:

  • Portman’s ties to the G.W. Bush Administration will be exploited by the Obama team in a way that will take on a life of its own

Assessment:

While Portman is viewed as one of the most likely people for Romney to pick for Vice President because of his probable ability to put Ohio in the Republican electoral vote count, I do not beliueve that Bob Portman has yet established the type of bond with Ohioans that is necessary to overcome the type of treacherous rewrite of history that will be done by the Obama regarding his record. Ohio voters are not yet so familiar with, and loyal to Portman, that they embrace him as one of their own in a way that they did other Ohio politicians such as the legendary Robert Taft or even more recently, John Glenn. Those were leaders so loved by Ohioans that if they were put through the type of character assassination attempt that Portman will experience, it would backfire. But that is not the case with Rob Portman. At least not yet. And if Ohio is so pivotal, Team Obama will do all they can to assasinante the charachter of Rob Portman. And Portman’s short time as G. W. Bush’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget, will be the basis for that character assasination.

Of course, Portman will easily and correctly be able to defend his record by making it quitre clear that most of his reccomendations whil Director of OMB were not followed up on by the Bush Administration, but in many regards, the Obama campaign will have the ability to create the false impression that Portman played a part in creating the current economic crisis.

Understanding that, it must also be said that the opposition will do the same with anyone who is nominated by Republicans. So from that perspective, Portman should not be denied the chance to defend his record, a record that is truly exceptional and could be incredibly helpful in allowing Mitt Romney to advance a powerful case for fiscal conservatism.

Ultimatley though, if fiscal conservatism and budgets are a selling point that Romney wants his running mate to well versed and experienced in, I see him more likely to select someone else. Possibly someone like Mitch Daniels who was also a Director of the Office of Management of Budget under G.W. Bush but has a stronger and nmore loyal following than Portman, and has his economic record as Governor of Indiana to point to when Obama tries to pin the Bush years on him.

Portman certainly is on the short list for Vice President and for good reason. But I do not believe that he will make the final cut.

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Recent Key Votes

S 2343 – Prohibits Increase in Interest Rates for Student Loans (Reid Bill)
Legislation (Nay), May 24, 2012

S Amdt 2107 – Authorizes Import of FDA-Approved Drugs from Canada
Amendment (Nay) May 24, 2012

S Amdt 2153 – Prohibits Increase in Interest Rates for Student Loans (Lamar Bill)
Amendment (Yea), May 24, 2012

More Key Votes

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Portman on The Issues

International Issues Domestic Issues Economic Issues Social Issues
Foreign Policy Gun Control Budget & Economy Education
Homeland Security Crime Government Reform Health Care
War & Peace Drugs Tax Reform Abortion
Free Trade Civil Rights Social Security Families & Children
Immigration Jobs Welfare & Poverty Corporations
Energy & Oil Environment Technology Principles & Values

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Rob Portman Reported to Be Mitt Romney’s Pick for Vice President

 Bookmark and SharePJ Media reports that  a consensus among inside GOP political operatives exists which concludes that Mitt Romney will pick Rob Portman as his vice presidential running mate.  The report however  based on the hearsay of anonymous sources, including what is described as a prominent GOP Super PAC insider who wants to remains anonymous.

According to PJ Media upon asking this unnamed Super PAC leader about their thoughts on Portman as a potential vice presidential nominee, an email reply from them stated the following;

He could bring Ohio!!! And he is very experienced and he won’t spend $100,000 on clothes in two months!  The goal this cycle is “safe, not sorry. But win Ohio!”

Now I do not question the credibility of PJ Media, I do question the intent of this unnamed insider who feels the need to, out of nowhere, come out and take a foul, unjustified, and totally senseless shot at Sarah Palin for circumstances that were not of her own doing and which she rectified.

I also question whether or not this so-called consensus among G.O.P. operatives about Portman being Romney’s pick has anything to do with knowing what only a select few under Romney’s Senior Advisor Beth Myers, know and are discussing amongst themselves?

Myers served as chief of staff during Romney’s term as Massachusetts governor and managed his 2008 presidential campaign.  She is now overseeing  Romney’s vice presidential selection process and is undergoing a vetting process that involves only a select few Romney confidants who discuss aspects of the vetting process among only themselves.  And any discussions of the process among this small group of trusted advisors, is done only on a need to know basis.  Which is why there have not yet been any leaks which have led to the upping or lowering of the odds for of being picked among any of the known potential nominees.  The Romney team is probably one of the most talented and professional political or for that matter, non-political organizations there has ever been.  It is a consequence of Romney’s own managerial expertise and Midas Touch.  Say what you want about Mitt but he knows how to run  things and get a job done.  And so the only way that a leak about who has picked for Vice President would come about is if it was intentional.  And this “consensus” based declaration about Rob Portman was not sanctioned by Team Romney.

Furthermore, I doubt that the leader of a Super PAC, even a pro-Romney Super Pac, would be privy to such insider information.  In addition to it being questionably illegal or at the very least,  unethical for such communications between the Romney campaign and any Super PAC, it would not benefit Team Romney to exercise the type of loose lips that would give away a secret as big as this one.

So while I do not wish to call in to question the credibility of the claim that Rob Portman is going to be Romney’s running mate in November, I must do exactly that.

Portman could very well be the individual Romney picks but only a select few know how truly likely that is and they are not talking.

Speculation about who the Romney’s running mate will be is the last big question that remains in the race, aside from who will ultimately win.  And the suspense is just killing most political junkies, myself included.  However it must be understood that any public discussion about who Romney will pick is simply conjecture on the part of conducting the discussion.  In the case of the latest scuttlebutt concerning Rob Portman, it would seem to be based mainly on his ability to deliver Ohio for Romney in November.  But it has been my sense that Portman is not necessarily established well enough to be counted on for that purpose.  That sense of mine was only verified when a recent Quinnipiac Poll concluded the following;

The presidential race in Ohio remains too close to call as President Barack Obama gets 45 percent to 44 percent for Republican Mitt Romney, with a 45 – 45 percent dead heat if the GOP adds home-state Sen. Rob Portman as Romney’s running mate.

That poll was taken just two weeks ago but it is safe to say that those numbers have not changed much since then and it led Politico to report a story entitled “Poll: Rob Portman no GOP boost in Ohio”

As indicated in an abbreviated White House 2012 Vice Presidential Contender page prepared for for Bob Portman back in April, historically, the vice presidential nominee only affects the presidential election results in their home state by no more than four percent.  If that were to hold true here, according to the closeness of the race in Ohio so far, Portman could actually put Romney over the top.  But the polls do not yet bear that out and  even if they did, we are long way from Election Day and the Obama campaign will not give up Ohio easily.  As such,  in my opinion, the Obama campaign’s ruthlessness and billion dollar campaign war chest will simply inundate every media source with an endless array of stories focussed on destroying the record and reputation of Bob Portman.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe Portman is exceptionally qualified and although he is not my first choice to be the next in line for the presidency, I can easily support him.  His record of fiscal responsibility is far superior to most political leaders out there and he is extremely competent in other areas of concern too.  But Portman’s ties to the G.W. Bush Administration will be exploited by the Obama team in a way that will take on a life of its own and the lies about him will have a way of becoming true in the subconscious of an ad weary electorate.

Such was the case in 2008 with Sarah Palin.

In a documentary entitled Media Malpractice, one is taken on a step-by-step walk through of election history that documented what I call the palinization of Sarah Palin.  It was a process that showed how the left inundated our world with an endless array of salacious stories about Sarah Palin.  Every day some new liberal inspired charges or unseemly story was leaked and for days, each one captured the headlines.    As the documentary then shows at the very end, when asked what was true and what false during the campaign, voters got each answer wrong.

For instance, when asked which person running on either of the major presidential tickets pretended that their daughter’s son was their own, all those questioned answered Sarah Palin.

However, in that same documentary when asked which candidate on either of the major presidential tickets had to drop out of a previous race for President because they were caught plagiarizing the speeches of a British Labor Party leader, voters again answered Sarah Palin.

In both cases the answers to those question were wrong.  As most of us know, Sarah Palin did not pretend that her daughter’s child was her own and as for the candidate who dropped out of a previous race for President in disgrace because of plagiarism, the answer of course is not Sarah Palin.  It’s Joe Biden.

But politics is perception and the Obama campaign successfully created false impressions about the Republican ticket which casual voters believed to be true.

This can of course be done to any candidate, and with Team Obama it will be done.  It will be done to Mitt Romney and whomever he nominates for Vice President.  The problem is that given how pivotal Ohio may be “if” this election is as close as many think it will be, the Obama campaign will invest so much time and money into Ohio and into destroying Portman that in the end, even Ohioans will be embarrassed to support Portman on a presidential ticket.  I say this not because Portman will not be able to defend himself.  He will.  I state this simply because Portman is not yet the kind of established figure in Ohio who I believe can withstand the type of relentless assault upon him that the Obama strategists will engage in.

Bob Portman has not yet established the type of bond with Ohioans that is necessary to overcome the type of treacherous rewrite of history that will be done regarding his record.  Ohio voters are not yet so familiar with and loyal to Portman that they embrace him as one of their own in a way that they did other Ohio politicians such as the legendary Robert Taft or even more recently, John Glenn.  Those were leaders so loved by Ohioans that if they were put through the type of character assassination attempt that Portman will experience, it would backfire.  But that is not the case with Rob Portman.  At least not yet.

So I would not bet the farm on Rob Portman.

As for myself, I have used White House 2012 as the platform for a series called The Herd.  It explores a herd of 25 names which I believe are being or should be considered for Vice President by Mitt Romney.  Each day, in alphabetical order, one of those names is discussed.   We are currently up to the “M’s”.

In each of those profiles, I present a case for why each person is being or should be considered and address the pros and cons of their potential presence on the Republican presidential ticket.  In creating this series, I have established my own assumptions as well as my own preferences.  But deep down I know that in trying to predict who Mitt Romney will actually nominate, no matter how much I try to put myself in his position and try think to like, I know that I am not Mitt Romney and that even after studying Romney’s personal history and management style, no matter how in tune I may think I am with his thought process, I know that only Mitt Romney knows who he will choose and at the moment I do not even think Mitt Romney yet knows who that will be.

But stay tuned because once The Herd has posted the profile of each of those names that we believe are in contention, I will offer my best guest as to whom Romney might pick, as well as the name of the person I believe he should pick and who this conservative wants to see him pick.Bookmark and Share

Obama’s Only Prayer: Forward

Forward.  Please, don’t look back at the last three years.  Look forward to a new set of baloney, magic wand promises, not back to failed bandaid solutions, corruption, out of control spending, and a political ideology that has favored friends and taken freedoms from many Americans.  This is the perfect campaign solution for a President who failed and wants a second chance.   In fact, I found it to be refreshingly honest.

Forward is a complete contrast to Obama’s last implied campaign slogan of “look at the last 8 years”, by which he actually meant look at the last two years.  Of course, look at the last two years was a great slogan in a Presidential race in 2008.  Looking at how Pelosi/Reid had run congress since 2007 turned out to be the Democrat party’s downfall in 2010.  In fact, it is telling that Obama appears to have abandoned his earlier plans to run against a do-nothing congress.

Romney would be wise to run a campaign on contrast.  Romney could contrast Obama’s bliss over 8.1% unemployment to Bush’s unemployment rates in the 4% range. While the media continues to stoke anti-Wall Street sentiment, Romney still connects when he contrasts his years of business experience with Obama’s youthful, socialist ideologies mixed with lack of experience.  On the same note, Romney might also mention the difference between the years of peaceful, clean and respectful TEA Party protests compared to the violent, ignorant Occupy Wall Street groups who caused millions of dollars in damage on May 1st of this year.

To start, Romney could simply contrast the lack of enthusiasm in 2012 with the fainting and worshiping masses Obama inspired in 2008.  For example, in Obama’s “first” campaign speech of this year, he couldn’t even fill a stadium in the swing state of Ohio.

The key for Romney in combating Obama’s “Forward” campaign is capturing the conversation and creating pictures for the American people of what forward will look like under Obama.  Contrast that with a picture of forward under Mitt Romney, and Obama’s best shot at a winning campaign could become his liability.

Is Mitt Bouyant? Or Santorum Sinking?

The day before Super Tuesday, Mitt Romney is looking good.  It’s looking like he will take the key state of Ohio and could take Tennessee.  Both of these are very close races.  But Romney’s ascendency back to the top is marked by Santorum’s dive in the polls, and Newt’s resurgence again.  Newt will win Georgia, which has the most delegates of any Super Tuesday state.  Newt is also now tied with Santorum and within one point of Romney in Tennessee according to one poll.  Just last week, Santorum was looking good in both Ohio and Tennessee.

If Santorum is suddenly seen as faltering, we may see the polls seesaw back to Newt on fears of unelectability.  However, at this late stage that may serve to only help Romney, unless Santorum loses big time.  If Santorum comes in third in Tennessee or Ohio and Gingrich easily wins Georgia, the shift back to Newt could be significant.

Consider this, if Santorum was not in the race and his voters went to Newt, Newt would sweep Ohio, Tennessee, and Georgia.  On the other hand, the same could be said for Santorum if Newt dropped out and his votes went to Santorum.  In either case, Romney is the beneficiary of the social conservative split.  Meanwhile, Ron Paul is fleeing from social issues as he descends back into below 10% irrelevancy.

This could be short lived however, as Republicans revisit the myth that social issues are losers in elections.  As I pointed out the other day, a one dimensional economy candidate is going to struggle against Obama.  Republicans are more likely to be inspired to go to the polls for a bold conservative, and Romney is all pastels.  If Santorum falters tomorrow and Newt remains on message, this one could be far from over.

A Dismal Fight for Relevance

The GOP Presidential debate in Las Vegas highlighted not only some of the candidates’ fight for relevance, but the fight for relevance for many voters in the nation. Nevada joined the growing number of States moving up their primary election. The voters in many States have felt as though their votes did not matter. Key swing States often vote so late that the primary process is basically over and decided before their votes are cast. It has been argued that this has resulted in nominations of candidates that don’t speak to the needs of most Americans, but rather just to the needs of a handful of non-representative States. The power that Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have in the nomination process outweighs that of key general election States like Florida and Ohio. The cost of running a campaign is so staggeringly high that a candidate that does not appeal to the voters in Iowa or New Hampshire may be out of the race regardless of how he or she is polling in more critical States. The problem effects both parties and gave the Democrats Barack Obama and the Republicans John McCain, not the first choices of the majority of people in key general election States at the time of the early primaries. Penalties against States in 2008 from the Democrats are being matched this year by many Republican candidates boycotting Nevada either wholly or in part.

Jon Huntsman was absent from the debate in protest. In reality, his ‘protest’ had more to do with courting New Hampshire voters than it did with any principle. He is seeking to knock Romney down in the New Hampshire polls and lift himself by painting himself as their real ‘friend’ and Romney as not really for their needs. Romney, Perry and Paul decided to leave the placement of primaries to the States and stay out of their affairs. All the others didn’t seem sure of what position to take, so they went to the televised debate but skipped other events. That is sort of like going to the all you can eat buffet and ‘making a stand’ by not eating any oyster crackers. It isn’t a position based on any principles and it isn’t particularly meaningful. In the end, it all comes down to Huntsman trying to make himself relevant by playing up the inflated relevance of New Hampshire while Nevada is trying to make the votes of its citizens relevant by moving up its primary.

The rest of the field used the debate to fight for their relevance. Bachmann and Santorum needed to make a big move. Gingrich needed to put on as good a performance in this debate people could actually watch as he did in the minimal audience Bloomberg debate so they would see his relevance. Perry needed to show that he can be an effective candidate without a teleprompter or he might drop further in the polls to total irrelevance. Cain needed to show that he had foreign affairs ideas and not just 9-9-9 so that he can truly challenge Romney. Paul needed to connect with the viewer better after publishing his plan full of popular conservative ideas so that he is no longer viewed as irrelevant to mainstream voters. Lastly Romney needed to put some passion into his performance and show the voters something to be excited about so that he can see his poll numbers break out of their long-time holding pattern.

Unfortunately none of the candidates succeeded. They could have all come out of the debate better off and advanced the larger conservative cause. Instead, rather than any winners, the debate is better measured in who the bigger losers were. In the effort to make themselves look better at the expense of other candidates, Santorum and Perry generally made themselves look like jerks. The only civility in the debate came, once again, from Gingrich and Cain. Romney, who needed to energize the voters and give them a reason to be excited by his campaign, instead decided to engage in attacks on other candidates in a very condescending manner. Bachmann did better on issues than in some previous debates but still came across as a yipping dog.

Now I’m sure that there will plenty of you who think I am being too hard or too mean to these candidates. You may feel that it is disloyal to the party or the movement for a conservative blogger to call out these candidates. You may think your preferred candidate somehow was justified in his or her actions during the debate. You may think they won the debate. As someone who has yet to make a choice on these candidates, I are weighing them all and I was disappointed in their performances this time. I know they could do better. I expect them to be better. We need them to be better.

That being said, there were many good responses and messages put forth in this debate on security. There was not as much consensus on security issues as there had been on economic issues. Some interesting divides emerged. It was surprising that Bachmann, as Tea Party champion, aligned more with neoconservative Santorum on foreign affairs. She was far more a champion of interventionism than any other candidate on the stage aside from Santorum. How that will play with the less interventionist leanings of most Tea Partiers will be seen in the next round of polls. Ron Paul has generally had weak support from most conservatives on foreign affairs, but he did manage to better articulate his positions on those matters. Herman Cain was able to be a more broad candidate and not just Mr. 9-9-9. Rick Perry appeared prepared and engaged for the debate. So, there are some good parts that came from the debate. It is just unfortunate that most of that was buried underneath a mountain of attacks and counterattacks between the candidates.

The conduct of the candidates is translating to the voters. The audience in the debate hall was far more divided than in previous debates. At times they even booed various responses. That is good news for Obama, but not very good news for the GOP. The only person who really seems to get that is Newt Gingrich. If the candidates continue to drive wedges within the party in their fight, they may only make the eventual nominee so weak that the party itself will have to fight for relevance again. We need to be building on the momentum of 2010, but are slowing our own roll and giving Obama everything he needs to destroy any of these candidates in the general.

To all of the candidates (except Speaker Gingrich), I must say that I am disappointed in your actions and while I came into the debate excited about my choices, I am leaving the debate much less so. We need leaders. Attacking your fellows is not leading. Bashing another’s ideas is not having vision. Grow up.

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