Hard Landing

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Newt Gingrich is limping out of Florida with no momentum, little money and not much to be happy about. After his substantial victory in South Carolina and visions of soaring to the moon, Newt has crashed back to earth. His supporters are pinning his loss on negative ads from the Romney side, but that argument is just sour grapes. The truth is that Newt hurt himself more than Romney did and very likely hurt the conservative cause in the process.

First, let’s dismiss the argument that negative ads are what sank Newt. That was true in Iowa. Conservative voters abandoned him and voted instead for Santorum. In New Hampshire without the attacks, the conservatives split fairly evenly between Gingrich and Santorum. In South Carolina, even with negative attacks, Newt won solidly. In Florida, Gingrich still won the conservatives – his voters did not run to Santorum as in Iowa. The negative ads didn’t bring Gingrich down. He secured his base, but it was a smaller base than in South Carolina. Hence, he lost.

To the moonHis real weakness was an inability to steal moderates from Romney. He only has himself to blame for that. His debate attacks were exposed as little more than stunts and his boasts exploded like over-inflated balloons. His image as a man with great knowledge and serious solutions backed by past experience suffered greatly. When he was caught with flagrantly incorrect ‘facts’ during the debates, it weakened trust in his criticisms of Romney. When his big spending promises in each State he’s campaigned in were called out during the debates, it weakened confidence in his ability to have real solutions. When his great claim to fame of balancing the budget was admitted to be false because it was done by robbing Social Security, it undermined his claim to be the experienced fixer the country needs. Gingrich didn’t just have some bad debates, he collapsed during them. His strong supporters may not see that nor admit it, but those who are not Newties were able to see it and the exit polls confirm it.

The real disservice Newt did in Florida was convince people that he is the only conservative who can beat Mitt. As a result, when Newt started to implode only voters who were shaky for Mitt stayed with him rather than go with another candidate. The race was viewed as being between Mitt or Newt and undecided voters found themselves with little choice than to support Mitt under the circumstances. Even if you add together the Gingrich and Santorum votes, Mitt still wins. That isn’t because of negative attack ads on Newt, but rather the inability of Santorum to gain undecided voters because they felt the only candidates who could win in November were Mitt and Newt. That two man view is something only Newt has been pushing and for which he must take the blame when his campaign stumbles resulted in an overall conservative loss.

Newt will likely double-down on his themes. He’ll say that he’s the only conservative that stands a chance. He’ll say that only he has the experience needed. He’ll whine about negative attacks. He’ll launch new attacks of his own which will likely be as weakly supported as his most recent ones in Florida that backfired. As I wrote after his loss in Iowa when he lost his temper and started his attacks on capitalism, Newt is his own worst enemy and his own undoing.

46 States to go…or so he says.

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Operation Old TEA Bag: President Obama’s Inevitable Reelection Strategy

Bookmark and Share As the sun came up over Brooklyn on September 13th, 2011, Lewis Fidler received a phone call reminding him to support Democrat David Weprin in the special election taking place in CD-9. 
 The recent special election in New York’s 9th Congressional District did more than just elect a Republican to a seat that hasn’t been in the hands of the G.O.P. since 1923. As evident in Bill Clinton’s get-out-the-vote phone call, it also shed some light on the desperation of Democrats and what direction they will throw the ball in when they try to salvage their 2012 election fortunes with a last minute Hail Mary pass.  It offerred us insight in to the type of campaign that President Obama will resort to once he catches on to the fact that things like his third stimulus plan and his latest spending program to create jobs aren’t working for the country and aren’t being bought by the people.

In the race that pitted liberal incumbent Democrat Assemblyman David Weprin against retired businessman, Republican Bob Turner, Democrats struggled to find the issues that their candidate could run on to win voters over. Initially they did not even do that. At first it was assumed that as always, whichever Democrat they ran, would sail to victory and succeed sex texting addict Anthony Weiner. But then in August, Democrat polling showed something strange. It showed that Democrat Weprin was not getting the amount of support that Democrats usually get. This then suggested to them that they actually had a real and competitive election on their hands.

So they got to work and started to develop the issues they would campaign on.

What they found was that Weprin and Democrats had no positions on the issues that would excite voters and convince them that Weprin was their man. Even in a relatively liberal district like the ninth, there were no issues which Democrats held a popular position on.

There was the issue of gay marriage which Weprin recently supported the passage of in the New York State Assembly. But with a heavy Hassidic Jewish population in the ninth, legalizing marriage between two people of the same sex was far from popular.

There was the issue of our national debt. On that issue, Weprin held a typical Democrat line which supported big government and big government social programs. But even in a left leaning district like the one that spans the working class neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens, voters know that our debt has become a deepening crisis for our nation and as such, they understand that more government spending is not realistic. That left Weprin with the opportunity to use the traditional liberal language of tax increases to pay for all the spending. But in the middleclass communities of NY-9, tax increases, even for those who earn $250,000 or more, doesn’t really go over well. The ninth congressional district is comprised largely of those people in the middle……the ones who get hit from both ends and are not poor enough to benefit from government social programs, but are not wealthy enough to take advantage of the tax loopholes and credits that the political establishment has arranged for. So these people did not want to hear the Obama “make the rich pay their fare share” rhetoric. Many of them are afraid that a liberal definition of “rich” would include them.

There was the issue of immigration. However on that issue, Weprin has a liberal “Dream Act” position that does not solve the illegal immigration issue that impacts on his district’s residents. They do not want their money going to fulfilling the dreams of illegal immigrants. These people, many of which remember seeing the World Trade Center from their windows and worked within its shadows, want our borders secured.

So like many other issues, that was out.

There was Israel. After all, with a population of Jewish voters that is disproportionately larger than in many other districts throughout the nation, as an Orthodox Jew himself, Weprin could certainly and convincingly argue his support for Israel and ride high on the popularity of that point. Unfortunately though, being a Democrat, most voters linked Weprin to President Obama’s unfriendly policies towards Israel. And Weprin’s argument to voters that they should trust him on israel because he would fight for Israel from within, didn’t have wings.

Short of a total condemnation of President Obama by Weprin, the Jewish vote in his district simply viewed Weprin as a congressional rubberstamp for Obama’s polcies.

The further Democrats went down the list of issues important to the middleclass voters of the ninth, the more they realized that there were no issues which allowed them to present a position that they could derrive district-wide support for.

So what is a candidate with a competitive election ahead of him to do?

Why, resort to the liberal playbook, of course!

That meant scare citizens. That meant to try and distort the Republican position to preserve Social Security and Medicare for those on it and those expecting to soon be on them. It meant denying the Republican position to preserve those programs for future generation with reforms that will strengthen Social Security and medicare. It meant do your best to make vulnerable senior citizens believe that if a Republican won, they would deny them the money that many seniors have come to rely upon.

That was a good start but Weprin and his Democrat strategists and Washington puppet masters needed something else to attract some voters outside of the senior citizen demographic. That’s when the orders from Washington came down. And that is when the strategy to run against the TEA Party came into play.

So in early August Operation Old TEA Bag went into effect. That is when Weprin campaign spokesperson Elizabeth Kerr first argued the following:

“Bob Turner’s doing anything he can to distract voters from his plan to end Medicare as we know it, which would cost seniors in Brooklyn and Queens an extra $6,400 every year,” .

And from there, the tactics to scare senior citizens began

Then when the news that Standard & Poor’s had downgraded the country’s credit rating because of fiscal uncertainty came out and dominated the headlines, Weprin’s campaign defined Bob Turner as a TEA Party extremist and charged that because of their “irresponsible demands”, “Republican Tea Party extremists” facilitated the downgrade and the fallout from it.

From that point on, the Democrat campaign for Congress in NY-9 began.

It was a constant barrage of trying to make the TEA Party the enemy that voters had to unite against. It was a never ending campaign to define Bob Turner as the TEA Party candidate. In Between those lines of attack was tossed in the same old scare tactics intended to frighten senior citizens that predate the Reagan Administration.

For his part Bob Turner campaigns argued;

“Career politicians like David Weprin have taxed and spent this country into a crisis. They have jeopardized the entire social safety network by irresponsibly borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend,”

And as one Turner campaign aide put it;

“Businessman Bob Turner is running to protect Social Security and Medicare for every American over 55 years old and to put those essential programs on a sustainable path for everybody younger than that.”

But Bob Turner didn’t just defend himself against Operation Old TEA Bag. He spent most of his time denouncing the Obama policies that even urban, middle-class Democrats have lost faith in. Like the days of Ronald Reagan, Bob Turner found himself addressing a new generation of Reagan Democrats. Democrats who do not appreciate the condition of our nation and do not have faith in the direction their Party is heading in under a liberal President.

Yet as the campaign continued and the polls tightened, D.C. Democrats from the DCCC, DNC, and from the state and local Party apparatus, double-downed on their last hope……Operation Old TEA Bag. Even when only days before the special election was to take and polls showed that Turner turned the tables and was now ahead of Weprin, Democrats found themselves desperately trying to make a success of their fear campaign of senior citizens and their efforts to make the TEA Party the common enemy.

The plan was perfect. It even concluded on a high note…….a recorded phone call from former President Clinton which tied the TEA Party and Medicare together as he stated “and he’ll oppose the TEA Party plan to destroy Medicare” But ultimately, what Democrats thought was the perfect strategy, proved to be as unsustainable and useless as their economic policies.

Like driving a car on empty, it was a last ditch, desperate attempt to run a camping not on any issues, just on fear. The only problem is that in the end, senior citizens were less afraid of distortions about Bob Turner than they were of the truth about the current direction our nation is headed. In the end, the voters of the ninth district decided that the TEA Party was not their problem. Democrats were.

Unless Democrats start singing a different a tune, they will still be the problem in 2012. And just as Operation Old TEA Bag did not work for them in CD-9, it will not work for them in the 2012 elections. With few accompishments of his own to point toand with most Americans wanting to repeal his signature achievement…..Obamacare, President Obama is likely to  do little else but resort to scaring senior citizens and trying to run against the TEA Party.  Operation Old TEA Bag did not end in the streets of Brookjlyn and Queens.  It is really only just starting at Pennsylvania Avenue.

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