Romney Taking Heat Over Position on Auto-Bailout in Michigan

Throughout the media Mitt Romney has taken heat for his position on the auto-industry bailouts.  Voters are noticing, too, as recent polls show that Santorum has taken the lead in the state.  It comes at a particularly bad time as the Michigan primary is just weeks away.

Earlier this week, Mitt Romney penned an op-ed in the Detroit News criticizing the 2009 bailout of Detroit’s Big Three automakers.  In it, he stands by his position at the time of letting the companies go through a managed bankruptcy, which was eventually done by Obama, and touts his Michigan roots as the son of former American Motor Company and Michigan Governor George Romney.  Romney goes on to blast Obama, calling the bailout and subsequent caving to union demands “crony capitalism on a grand scale”. Continue reading

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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Capitalism a Casualty of Campaign

What is happening to the Republican field?  It made some sense when Cain was attacked for being a businessman with no foreign policy experience and no political experience.  That was perhaps a fair shot at an outsider businessman candidate.

Then came the attacks on Newt for having Freddie Mac as a client.  Newt not only had Freddie as a client, but his firm made over a million dollars.  Suddenly, it was like Newt himself had caused the economic collapse.  Reasonable conservatives told me that this was insurmountable.  How could Newt, a high level business consultant, have Freddie Mac as a client?  His fellow candidates tried to make it sound like Newt was on their payroll.  Suddenly populism had overtaken the Republican party.

Then came the attacks on Romney for his time at Bain Capital.  Romney’s company created new businesses, reorganized and saved businesses, and occasionally tried to save businesses and failed.  As with any free American enterprise, Bain Capital sometimes downsized and let people go.  Romney’s opponents have seized on this, especially with the ignorant populist anti-wall street sentiment in the country today, and have tried to use this against Romney.  They have painted him as an out of touch, insanely rich “Mr. Burns” who would go in, take over small companies, and fire everyone just to make a buck.  Here’s an idea, how about a millionaire’s surtax on evil rich people like Romney?  Oops, we just became liberals.

I know, political rhetoric is political rhetoric.  You say whatever it takes to win.  But then came the really disappointing moment.  GOP rivals jumped on Romney’s statement that he likes to be able to fire people.  Romney was not saying that he likes to randomly fire people, or likes to fire employees like Bain Capital did.  Huntsman attacked Romney directly for the comment, while Newt released a video exploiting workers who had been fired as a result of Bain Capital’s work.  Romney was actually talking about the ability to not have to buy insurance, or to drop an insurance company that isn’t serving his needs.  But what does context matter in politics?  Shame on them for this line of attack.  You know it’s bad when you are attacking a moderate Republican, and even Ron Paul is standing up for the moderate.  In fact, my hat is off to Ron Paul for defending Romney against this dishonest line of attack.  Newt also eventually came to Romney’s defense about the misquote.

Newt at this point will likely lose Florida, which means he will lose the primary.  Up until this week, at least he had the opportunity to exit with his head held high.  Up to now he had run a very honest, positive campaign.  When he did go negative, it was with honesty.  His best shot at salvaging the honor in his campaign at this point is a humble apology for attacking Romney for being a capitalist.

One final note, may the best capitalist win.  Since when has populism won over conservatives?  Heck, what’s the point?  If Newt is evil for having Freddie Mac as a paying client and Romney is evil for what he did with Bain Capital, then we need to re-elect Obama.  Imagine if Trump had stayed in the race.

 

Editors note: correction from the originally posted article.  Newt did defend Romney against the attack based on his statement about firing insurance companies.  However Newt has attacked Romney for the jobs lost through Bain Capital.

Iowa Recap

Romney won, Bachmann quit, Santorum is rising, Paul is maintaining his status quo, Newt is struggling, Perry has faith, and Huntsman….who?  Iowa recapped:

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney won in Iowa. Honestly?  No big deal. Romney will gain momentum from winning, but when people look at the numbers they will realize that if Michele Bachmann wasn’t in the race, Santorum would have won comfortably.  If Santorum wasn’t in the race, Newt and Perry probably would have both outpolled Romney.  In Iowa, he got his fiscal conservatives and the social conservatives split the rest.  But it’s not all bad for Romney.  In fact, while Romney may have come to a predictable finish, he won by choosing his opponent.  Gingrich was a shoe in to win Iowa barely more than a week ago.  Instead, Santorum now has the social conservative momentum and Romney should easily win New Hampshire and could win South Carolina.  So Romney’s win is:

Good for: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum      Bad for: Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman

Rick Santorum

A shocking surprise to some, a mild surprise for others, Santorum has Huckabee’d Iowa.  With a great ground game, time, hard work, and the luck of Newt Gingrich being destroyed by Romney, Inc, Michele Bachmann, and the Republican establishment, Santorum is finally getting his shot at vetting.  Already, he is being called a war monger and “big government conservative”.  But Santorum’s rise may be too late in the game for a vetting process to destroy him.  Many social conservatives have been waiting for a reason to believe that Santorum could win.  From the day he started running the narrative has been that Santorum is simply unelectable on a national scale.  So, Santorum’s second place finish is:

Good for: Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney   Bad for: Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann

Ron Paul

Paul’s third place finish is certainly not what the Paul camp was hoping for.  Ron Paul came very close to breaking free from his libertarian ceiling, but in the end social conservatives showed they would rather take a gamble on the unvetted Rick Santorum instead of giving Ron Paul the ‘turn’ he was starting to experience.  Paul has been passed over as the anti-Romney.  He may be able to turn things around in New Hampshire, but a third or worse finish in New Hampshire should be a clear signal to Paul that the revolution is over.  Paul’s third place finish is:

Good for: Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney  Bad for: Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich

Even if Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann dropped out of the race and split their votes on a pro rata share, Newt would still not have passed Mitt Romney.  The fact is, Romney ran an incredible, strategic dismantling of Newt without even breaking a sweat.  In the meantime, Newt refused to go dishonestly negative, but managed plenty of headlines saying “Newt Goes on the Attack”.  Newt is realizing in time for New Hampshire, he won’t win with a positive campaign.  Can he win with a negative one?  New Hampshire will probably go Romney’s way.  But Newt needs South Carolina.  Without South Carolina, he won’t have the momentum to take Florida and Florida is the key.  So Newt’s dismal fourth place finish is:

Good for: Mitt Romney   Bad for: Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann

Rick Perry

Perry’s fifth place win got him to re-think his campaign.  But with Michele Bachmann choosing to drop out, perhaps Perry thinks he still has hope.  He should have decided to stay in Texas.  Perry’s placing is:

Bad for: Rick Perry

Michele Bachmann

Bachmann barely registered.  Iowa was her last hope to connect with social and evangelical conservatives and she failed.  Fortunately, this provided the wake up call she needed to see the end of the race.  Bachmann has decided to drop out of the race and return to Minnesota.  Unfortunately for Bachmann, she has not built the cult following that Sarah Palin did.  Hopefully she will continue to be a strong voice for the TEA party.

Good for: Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry   Bad for: Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney

As for the other contender, Jon Huntsman’s disrespectful snub of Iowa, especially in light of Romney’s stronger finish in the state and momentum, seals Huntsman’s irrelevancy.

Early Demises and Second Chances

Mitt Beats Obama in Rassmussen Poll

Over the past week, Rassmussen conducted three Presidential matchup polls, the most recent being between Romney and Obama.  Romney easily won the poll contest by 45% to 39%.  What is significant is who struggled in the polls earlier that week.  Bachmann lost with 35% to Obama’s 48%, and Gingrich only did a little better with 37% to Obama’s 47%.

One more element deserves recognition in this polling.  Obama himself had an up and down week according to Gallup.  Around the time Rassmussen was polling the Bachmann and Gingrich head to heads, Obama’s approval rating had climbed to 47% only to fall back down to 41% by the end of the week.  What would explain such a wild swing?  I’m guessing a little too much holiday eggnog putting people in a generous mood.

Virginia’s Florida Moment

Ah the good old days of hanging chads and voter intention.  Like when Democrats argued that people in Florida intended to vote for Al Gore because they had also voted for good ole’ boy NASA astronaut Democrat Bill Nelson.  Now in Virginia, we have the case of signatures being tossed out enough to get both Perry and Gingrich off the ballot.  Perry’s campaign is fighting back, but Gingrich is getting help from an outside source: the TEA Party.

Attorney and TEA Party activist Jonathon Mosely is suing Virginia over signatures that may have been incorrectly invalidated to put Newt under the 10,000 signature requirement.  If he wins, a potentially campaign ending gaffe could be turned into a vindicating legal victory.

Paths to Victory

I have heard recently several conservative commentators marvel about how Newt has risen to the top and stayed there and how Mitt has never gotten over 30%.  It shouldn’t be a surpriseI explained it all months ago.  I’ve said as long ago as this that Mitt is in deep trouble.  He looked pretty good when there were six candidates splitting the other 70% of the vote and 40% were still undecided.  But Romney has always only appealed to fiscal conservatives.  He coasted through the first several months of this election and many in the establishment, now including George Will and Ann Coulter, assumed that his steadiness and assumed front runner status had something to do with him being the best candidate.

So can Romney win?  What about Paul and his recent rise in the polls?  Does he have a shot?  Here is a strategic look at where the candidates stand right now.

Newt Gingrich

Newt has managed to be that candidate who attracts social and fiscal conservatives.  It is his nomination to lose.  So far he has handled attacks perfectly.  Consider Nancy Pelosi’s claim that if he runs she will have a field day spreading every secret from his ethics investigation.  How does he respond?  By stating that out of 84 counts, 83 were dismissed and the 84th was a simple mistake he made and how if Nancy Pelosi is willing to spread secrets from the ethics committee investigation that proves just how corrupt she was in that investigation.  That’s Newt 2, Pelosi 0.  Those type of responses will continue to bolster him.

Next, he has to keep making speeches like he did to the Republican Jewish Coalition.  Newt showed the intelligence and wit that makes conservatives like me giddy about him opposing Obama.  Newt has to keep running on those ideas, setting the record straight, and not going after fellow Republicans who attack him.  I think he slipped up a little when he said Bachmann is factually challenged.  Newt’s message has to stay positive and focused on undoing and being the opposite of Obama.

Mitt Romney

As I said before, Romney’s only prayer in this race is to come out strongly to the social conservative side in a big, public way.  Maybe he needs to go protest in front of an abortion clinic, spend some of his Newt attack ad money on an ad clearly denouncing Obama for making bibles illegal at some military hospitals, or something like that.  Romney will never win this election with only DC establishment backing and fiscal conservatives.  Right now he barely has better electability to run on.  And the attacks from his surrogates are easily being linked back to him.  His smooth Reaganesque style and kindness on the debate trail is getting ugly with people like George Will calling his opponents book selling charlatans and Ann Coulter accusing Newt Gingrich of wanting to do something similar to teaching school kids how to masturbate.  None of this reflects well on Romney.

Romney has to do very well in this next debate at highlighting better ideas, but definitely smaller government ideas.  Newt tends to talk about ideas that he could not do as President but would help the country.  Romney needs to jump on that and be the smaller government alternative.  Romney needs to win the 10th amendment fight in this next debate, while still appearing to be a stronger social conservative than everyone thinks he is.

Ron Paul

Paul’s biggest liability is himself.  His second biggest liability is his supporters.  One of the reasons Ron Paul hasn’t gotten higher in the polls is that people don’t want to support him if they think he is their enemy.  Paul has worked very hard to make himself the enemy of anyone he considers to his left.  In the debates he comes across as abrasive and angry.  His pet issues cloud many great issues that most conservatives would agree with him on.  Hint hint, Ron Paul, constitutionalists want to like you.  But when I sit there and think about my life, I really can’t think of what I did to cause 9/11 or why terrorists can kill Americans because of Jimmy Carter’s foolish foreign policy and what every President has done since then.

Part of Paul’s problem is that his foreign policy approach reflects history, but not reality.  Paul can pontificate all he wants on how we got here, but most conservatives don’t like his solution for how we get home.  In a quick draw, when you drop your gun turn around and walk away, Bin Laden types usually just shoot you in the back.  Who cares if it’s your fault you got in that situation in the first place.  Personally, I don’t want to be shot in the back.

Ron Paul was his best this year when he was talking about domestic policy and when he showed even an ounce of grace in the debates towards his fellow Republicans.  One last thing, Paul will never win over conservatives with his states rights approach to abortion.  No true pro-lifer is going to vote for a guy who is going to ensure that abortion stays legal in most of the states.

Rick Perry

Perry really needs to reassess his chances.  His only shot is a good showing in Iowa, as in 2nd place or better.  He needs to nail every debate going forward.  Perry needs a “My Fair Lady” transformation.  For starters, he can learn how to pronounce Nukuler.

His ideas are not bad.  His tenth amendment stance is very good.  But he has a lot of competition among candidates who are pro-tenth amendment, and his HPV vaccine debacle ruins his credibility on personal freedom.

Jon Huntsman

Huntsman could easily be in the 2012 Presidential race.  All he has to do is switch parties.  I’m being completely serious.  Jon Huntsman could guarantee that Obama does not have another four years by changing to Democrat and running against Obama in the 2012 primary as a moderate.  Of course, he would have to kneel before Pelosi/Reid to get the necessary credibility.

Michele Bachmann

In order for Bachmann to win, two things have to happen.  First, Obama has to get so low in the polls and believe it or not do even more stupid things so that anyone could beat him (even Trump).  Then, Bachmann would have to convince TEA Partiers that she is their candidate more than Newt, Perry or Santorum.  Unfortunately for Bachmann, if absolutely anyone could defeat Obama and electability wasn’t an issue, there is another candidate who would still take the TEA Party vote before she would.

Rick Santorum

If the TEA Party is going to come home to anyone, it would be Rick Santorum.  Get ready, it could happen in Iowa.  Santorum has never been taken seriously because people doubt his electability.  He lost in Pennsylvania.  Of course, that year every Republican in Pennsylvania lost.  Not only that, but some of our best Presidents won after losing senate races.  If you listen to Newt, you know two famous historical names, Lincoln and Douglas.  Did you know Lincoln’s victory was a rematch of their senate race two years before?  Guess who won that senate race.

If one more star is going to rise before this primary is over, it will be Santorum and it will be because the TEA Party takes Bachmann’s advice and says screw electability.  If that happens, Santorum has to be ready for the vetting process with ideas that will knock our socks off and make Romney and Newt look like morons.  Santorum has to not be George Bush II on the war and he has to convince fiscal conservatives that he can get spending under control.  He also has to convince libertarians that he will stay out of their homes.  That’s a tall order for Santorum.

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