Defamation and Felony

While a felony can land you in court, slander and libel can get you in legal trouble too.  However, in the dirtiest of political campaigns, defamation is the name of the game.  That is what Obama is running: the dirtiest of political campaigns.    Even still, cries of one’s opponent being a “felon” are usually relegated to the third party shenanigans of an “issues” candidate who has no hope of winning.  Such charges could also be associated with peanut gallery observers and shock personalities like Sean Hannity or Bill Maher.  However, now it is also a tactic of the Obama campaign.

Can Obama sacrifice all credibility and still win?

Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager for the Obama campaign, suggested that Mitt Romney is either a liar or a felon and could face criminal prosecution.  Why?  Because either she is a liar, or the Obama administration is incompetent when it comes to corporate structures and SEC filings.

At issue is whether Mitt Romney was running the show at Bain Capital after 1999.  Everyone at Bain Capital, including Democrat Obama supporters, say no.  Everyone at the Olympics say Romney was there.  The only people who think Romney was at Bain after 1999 are in Obama’s campaign.  They blame Romney for everything that happened in Bain up to 2002.  Kind of like how they still are blaming Bush for 8.2% unemployment.

So why do Cutter and Obama think Romney is a felon?  The Boston Globe came out with a story showing that Romney signed SEC documents as the President, Director and CEO of Bain Capital up until 2002.  The Washington Post, Fortune Magazine and Factcheck.org explain this.  Romney left to save the Olympics before any sort of replacement could be found and remained listed as President and CEO until his shares were passed on.

Typically liberal Washington Post embarrasses Obama even more with a follow up fact check story, giving Obama another three Pinocchios.

Obama’s outright false and defamatory Bain attack is designed to get Romney to release more tax returns.  Obama believes he is gaining ground by highlighting the low percentage Romney pays in taxes.  However, another Washington Post factcheck story shows that even this line of attack is dishonest.  In fact, one of the reasons Romney’s tax rate is lower is because he gives as much to charity as he pays in taxes.

Media organizations have not been able to back Obama up on this one.  Even CNN’s John King backed up Romney’s side of the story.

In addition to exposing himself as a liar and a dirty campaigner, Obama has exposed himself to an easy rebuttal from the Romney campaign.  In fact, while Obama’s campaign is cheering any unfair negative press they can get on Romney, the result is Romney sitting in front of CNN, Fox, CBS, ABC and NBC cameras, on their dime, explaining how Obama is wrong and not living up to his promises of running an issues centered campaign.

In fact, as John Sununu pointed out, Obama’s bringing up things like felonies and outsourcing is really a liability for Obama.  Obama can be tied to Tony Rezko, Rod Blagojavich, Bill Ayers, and more recently Eric Holder and the Fast and Furious scandal.  You want to talk about secretive.

Here is my challenge to the Obama campaign.  Bain executives, Olympic executives, and anyone who knew Romney in 1999 knew that he was no more running Bain Capital than Bush was running a timber company in 2004.  So why doesn’t Obama send Eric Holder to arrest Mitt Romney for listing himself as CEO of Bain in 2002?  It wouldn’t be a waste of Holder’s time, he’s busy not turning Fast and Furious documents over to Congress and not enforcing Congress’s vote of contempt against him.  Send Holder to arrest Romney for supposedly committing the felony of being the president of a company he wasn’t running or involved with.  Then we can all have a good belly laugh at Obama and get on with our lives.

Obama has been consistently dishonest in this election season.  Eventually more people than just the political junkies like you and me will figure this out.  When a President lies several times during a campaign, the average joe on the street might miss every instance.  When a President lies continually, eventually every American will experience his dishonesty.  And when not even CNN and the Washington Post can backup Obama, his credibility is gone.  Can Obama win with no credibility?

The Fox News GOP debate analysis

Newt Gingrich entered last night’s Fox News debate in Sioux City, Iowa, with a political target on his back, as Mitt Romney and the rest of the Republican presidential candidates looked to challenge his front-runner status ahead of the Iowa Caucuses. In a week that has seen unacceptable attacks from a bygone era from the likes of Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, Gingrich, vowed to stay to stay positive. My big fear before the debate was that the Republican candidates would have done so much damage in their primary campaign that any hopes of beating President Obama would be all but disappeared before 2012 had even begun. 

The moderators were Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier, Chris Wallace and Neil Cavuto and they put forward good strong questions and weren’t afraid to challenge the candidates. I was especially pleased to hear a question on the Fast and the furious being placed, as it is a topic certain to raise its head during the general election.

WINNERS

Newt Gingrich

Speaker Gingrich was definitely looking for a big performance on the night to compliment his new found front runner status. Gingrich did receive some tough questioning especially from Michele Bachmann over his involvement with Freddie Mac. Overall though, Newt as in all the previous debates, was the most substantive on policy and tried his best to stay focussed on the policy aspect on the night. He added humour into his responses saying he didn’t want to be viewed as overly critically, so he was standing there editing before responding to a question about President Obama and the Keystone pipeline, he even poked fun at recent critiques of his “zany” reputation. Gingrich delivered a powerful condemnation of President Obama campaigning instead of passing the approval for the Keystone pipeline. One thing I noticed was that while Bachmann was quick to attack Newt at every opportunity, Bachmann on more then one occasion deferred to Gingrich’s response and threw some additional commentary to attempt to build up her response in some instances. Gingrich demonstrated with ease that he has the solid base of policy and in particular foreign policy, that no other candidate can match. Overall a good, solid, winning performance by former speaker Gingrich and after a week where the GOP party machine and many other Republican Super Pac’s, have been running a hard hitting campaign against him.

The two biggest issues of clarification for me on the night were that he possesses the policies to beat President Obama and the toughness to face the attacks that would come in a general election campaign. Newt is tough and in my view, has demonstrated that he desperately wants people’s votes and to challenge President Obama.

Rick Santorum

Contrary to many media commentators, I believe former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum did himself a world of good during last nights debate. While he wasn’t as outlandishly aggressive like Bachmann, he again highlighted his efforts in Iowa. He emphasised the need to restore American manufacturing jobs and gave a very good answer on the Iranian issue, again clashing with Ron Paul. The one thing I think Santorum managed to do very subtlety last night was position himself as the strong social conservative to the Iowa voters. The conservative voters of Iowa will have noticed his performance to their satisfaction even if, the mass media didn’t pick up on it. I thought it was Santorum’s best debate night without appearing desperate as Bachmann did. Should he get a decent result and surprise a few people in Iowa. An area Santorum will need some stronger selling points on is job creation and the economy, if he is to make an impact in later states.

Mitt Romney

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney appeared to heed the general consensus before the debate, that he needed to move away from his ill advised and much publicised attacks in particular against Newt Gingrich. I was extremely surprised to hear in the post debate summary on Fox News that Frank Luntz and Hannity, thought he won the debate. I thought to myself, what! I must have been watching a different debate. Romney’s performance was safe; he managed to provide some good substantive answers on the economy and did well in explaining his role with Bain Capital. Romney was presidential in his delivery, but yet again, almost tripped up in the debate on foreign policy. Like Gingrich, Romney focussed his attacks on President Obama to good effect saying, if he is elected president this century will be an American century, not a Chinese century. Romney explained the narrative about working with an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature in Massachusetts, which was effective to a watching audience.

In my humble opinion, not his best debate performance but a comfortable one nonetheless. My concern with Romney is that he will look like a Republican, but sound too much like a Democrat in a general election match-up against President Obama. I’m yet to be convinced of his ability to take on the Obama campaign machine and win. Romney is too prickly in my view to take the harsh attacks that will inevitably come in a general election campaign.

Rick Perry

The Texas Governor had a relatively quiet first half of the debate until a question by Neil Cavuto brought him to life on his debating skills. I loved the way he put humour but a level of seriousness into his reply saying he would even turn up early to debate President Obama. He did well attacking Gingrich over his perceived inability to distinguish between a lobbyist and a consultant.” An interesting if somewhat equally confusing statement was when he compared himself to Denver bronco’s Quarterback Tim Tebow. The point he was trying to make essentially was he is now an underdog candidate but can mount a comeback against the odds like Tebow. Perry has restored some credibility to his challenge and his call for a part-time Congress is starting to catch some people’s attention. If Perry can finish in the top four in Iowa and with his recent renewed confidence, he could challenge in South Carolina and Florida in a serious way. Perry is starting to show he is resilient and prepared to fight his way back into contention.

Losers

Michele Bachmann

I’ll give Congresswoman Bachmann credit for her gutsy and aggressive performance last night. She took every opportunity to try and steal the limelight but over cooked her fine start by trying to hit Gingrich again on his record with Planned Parenthood. She sounded like a moaning child in a playground saying she’s serious candidate, the mere fact she used that statement immediately made the point that actually, although she’s a serious politician, her day and chances of winning in Iowa are all but gone. I highlighted how she would default to Gingrich’s answer when it appeared to anyone watching, that the question she was asked, stumped her slightly. My point here is, you cannot attack a candidate constantly and when it suits you for playing it safe purposes, defer to their answer as the authoritative response if you want to be president. I did enjoy her tussle with Ron Paul on his position in Iran. Surprisingly she didn’t use the Newt Romney line which has been so effective in the previous debate. Gingrich was clever mentioning her statements as being often factually incorrect, a simple yet effective rebuttal, as it is a charge she has often been accused of in the past. Overall, I credit her for her effort but she over played her hand somewhat and were noticeably exposed in some of her response. An “A” for effort though, but a case of too little, too late.

Ron Paul

As always Ron Paul supporters packed the auditorium and were their usual vocal selves. Paul was energised, direct and articulate in most of his responses and he is clearly enjoying his moment as serious contender for winning the Iowa caucus. Paul as always was consistent, repeated his commitment to cutting $1 trillion from the budget. He looked and acted like a frontrunner however, his isolationist stance on Iran hurt him badly again last night. Only if Paul could find a way of shifting his position on Iran slightly he would have much greater broad appeal but as we witnessed during Bachmann’s brutal and most powerful attack, his foreign policy makes him frankly unelectable in a general election. Paul will have a good result in Iowa no doubt largely due to his organisation and supporters however; he simply isn’t electable with his stance on Iran. Paul got hit hard in the post-debate conversation with Sean Hannity over his Newsletter and he was visibly rattled and agitated by Hannity. I don’t expect to see him appearing anytime soon on the Hannity show.

Jon Huntsman

I have a simple statement here, would the real Jon Huntsman stand up. If anyone watched the debate between himself and Gingrich earlier in the week they will see he was simply brilliant. Last night it was a train wreck, simple. Huntsman’s attempts at humour and using young language such as “we are getting screwed as Americans” fell flat. He didn’t make an impression with any of his answers and seemed too laid back and without any real sense of passion throughout. A very disappointing performance and ironically, he probably did himself some harm in New Hampshire too, where he was starting to make some recent gains.

Summary

Overall, the lesson from the night was the fact that perhaps it was the first night where the GOP candidates are starting to cause damage to President Obama and gain interest from the larger electorate. A promising night for the party and something to certainly start the Obama campaign machine to stop taking re-election as guaranteed.

Why is Mitt Romney Any Less Conservative Now Than He Was in 2008?

Bookmark and Share    In 2008, I supported Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination.  I found him to be a strong conservative oriented leader with experience, vision, and all that we need in a President, including a record of success.  Romney has proven himself to know how to turn things around and while prudent, can at times be bold.  In addition to his economic expertise, I found him to be a managerial genius, who knows how to get the right people to do the right job, the right way, at the right time.  I still feel this way about Romney. 

And I was not alone in this opinion. 

In 2008, Mitt Romney won the endorsement of most of those in the conservative talk radio community, including Sean Hannity, William Bennett, Mark Levin, Dennis Prager, Glenn Beck, Hugh Hewitt,Laura Ingraham, and even the king of conservative talk radio himself,  Rush Limbaugh.

On February 4th, of 2008 Rush told listeners of his program ; 

“I think the one candidate of the three still out there on our side that matter… in saying who more closely embodies all three legs of this conservative stool, you’d have to say that it’s Mitt Romney. There’s actually no choice in the matter.”

The second most listened to radio talk show host, Sean Hannity, had this exchange about Romney with a caller on January 31st, of 2008;

Hannity: I am voting for Romney.

Caller :…but you had [Guiliani] on the show all the time!

Hannity: I had him all the time, Romney all the time, Fred Thompson all the time, Huckabee all the time, we’ve even had Ron Paul on this program a number of times, we’ve had Alan Keyes whose running, we’ve had Sam Brownback, Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter on all the time …and having come to know and like all of these guys, I’m making a decision on issues. And if you ask me who the conservative, the most conservative in the race is, that most represents my values at this time, it is by far and away, Governor Romney!

On that same show, Hannity decalred;

”I’ll tell you right now, and I’ve not announced this, but I will be voting for Mitt Romney in this campaign. It’s the first time I’ve stated it publicly, I’ll state it now!”

The abrassive and less listened to conservative talking head Michael Savage told listeners of his May 4 th, 2007 broadcast;

”Romney on the other hand has movie star good looks, he’s the governor of a state, he made a fortune on his own, he has a history, and I believe Romney could easily be the next president of the United States, which is good news because he’s a, I think a very good candidate and a very good American. I’m very encouraged by this. I didn’t know Romney before the debate. He came across really well, and on my poll, now I didn’t vote, you voted– he’s the clear winner…”

He added;

”I’ll tell you, Romney is super articulate, very handsome, and he’s very articulate. More over he was very comfortable, the others were shaking, their hands were shaking. They got frightened. No, I’m sorry, we disagree. I think the new president has emerged, unless they smear him, which of course we’re going to see in a few months…”

On November 29th in 2007 Glenn Beck  told listeners;

”Do you know why I lean towards Mitt Romney? … I lean towards Mitt Romney because I watch his family. I know his family and I know the people around him. That’s why I lean towards him… the reason why I think we have to look at the man, … not just his record, but I need to look at the man because I really, truly believe we’re entering a period where things are going to happen faster and faster and the President has got to feel something in the core of his being.”

And then there is this from my two favorite conservative radio warriors, Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham.

Mark Levin;

”Let’s face it, none of the candidates are perfect. They never are. But McCain is the least perfect of the viable candidates. The only one left standing, the only one, after all these weeks of voting, who can honestly be said to share most, most of our conservative principles is Romney… If conservatives, people who care about the future of the Republican Party, don’t unite behind Romney at this stage, and I mean right now, and become vocal in their support for him, if they don’t coalesce around this one candidate, I’m talking about you folks who continue to vote for Huckabee knowing full well he can’t win, then you will get McCain as the republican nominee and you will likely get Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama as president of the United States.”  – (Jan. 31, 2008)

Laura Ingraham;

In response to a guests remarks, Ingraham stated….. ”Alright I’m going to see your endorsement and raise you an announcement. February 12th is the big D.C. primary– I’m pulling the lever for Mitt Romney! No doubt about it. No hesitation.”

The there was this from Michael Medved on February 4th, 2007;

”It is a great day for increasing political clarity, why? Well, because lots of people have talked about the Christian conservatives, the religious conservatives, the values conservatives, and the difficulty that people have had in the social conservative movement coalescing around one candidate. It appears, increasingly, that, that sort of unity is occurring, and its in behalf of a candidate named Romney, and he is the former Governor of Massachusetts, … Matt Lewis at Town Hall, my colleague, says its official, Romney is now the social conservative alternative.”

Can you imagine that, Romney was “the social conservative alternative”?

I could go on with some more glowing praise from the likes of numerous other conservative airwaves hall of famers but you get the point, or at least you should.  Back in 2007 and 2008, more than a year after Romney finished accruing his political record in elected office as the Governor of Massachusetts, leading conservatives were praising Mitt as the conservative standard-bearer, the one to lead us, the man with all the conservative bona fides needed to lead the conservative cause as the Republican presidential nominee.   So much so that he was called “the social conservative alternative”.

Now the theme of 2012 is “who is the alternative to Mitt Romney”

Why?

What has Romney done between now and 2008 to make him any conservative today than he was yesterday?

It certainly can’t be anything he did as Governor, because all these conservatives endorsed him based in part, on that record which he had already achieved.

Then there is CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Committee.

Each year CPAC holds it’s February convention.  For three days every year, it has become to conservatives what Mecca is to Muslims.  And in 2007, 2008, and 2009, Mitt Romney was the winner of their famous presidential straw poll.

But now he is somehow too liberal for conservatives.

The bottom line is that it just doesn’t make any sense.

If anything, Romney has become more conservative since he ran in 2008 and there are no new positions that he has taken which could be considered to be to the left of any of the other candidates running against him.

Perhaps it is time for conservatives to stop listening to their own campaign rhetoric.  Perhaps it is time for those who oppose Mitt Romney, to state their case on based on something other than distortions that try to make Mitt look like a 60’s Greatful Deadheader, spinning in the mud of Woodstock. 

Romney has his faults.  They are the same ones he had in 2008 when conservatives coalesced around him to defeat John McCain in 2008. 

They failed to do that with McCain back then and now they are trying to find someone whom they can coalesce around to defeat Mitt Romney.  Now it is hard for me to argue the case for Mitt Romney in 2012, because I am supporting Newt Gingrich as my first choice for the nomination.  But at the same time, I am not going to pretend that Romney is an incompetent conservative.   An imperfect conservative, yes, but he is no liberal.  And had Newt Gingrich ran in 2008, I believe I would have supported him then as well as I do now.  But given the choice between the two in 2012, I favor Newt because not only is he a conservative, he has proven himself to be more of a conservative innovator than Mitt.  Newt is a person of ideas with an important anti-establishmentarian streak that I believe is quite necessary if we want to make the type of reforms that we need.  It is that area where I believe Mitt Romney is lacking, at least when compared to Newt.

But what I will not do is what conservatives like Ann Coulter have done.

I will not support my choice for the nomination by trashing Mitt Romney.

Ann Coulter warned that conservatives better be prepared to get behind Mitt Romney if we want to defeat Barack Obama in 2012.  However; she did so by trashing Newt Gingrich based on his personal life.  I on the other hand am urging that conservatives make the case for their first choice by building that person up, without tearing the others apart.    And I am also reminding them that Mitt Romney is the same man that he was when social conservatives coalesced around him in 2008 and picked him as their choice for President three years in a row at CPAC. 

Perhaps it is  not Mitt Romney who needs to come to grips with his past changes of mind.  I think it is those who supported Mitt in 2008, but now consider him too liberal to support in 2012, who have to come to grip.  And before they accuse Mitt Romney of flip-flopping, they need to take a good long look in the mirror.

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Rush Hits Newt Again

Six months ago, I wrote an article about Newt Gingrich’s attempt to clarify his views on healthcare.  Newt had gotten himself in trouble when it came out that in 1993 Newt agreed with the Heritage Foundation on an insurance mandate.  At the time, Newt said that he felt there should be a law that made it so that people would need to either buy health insurance, or post a bond when they receive medical care as a guarantee that they will in fact pay for that care.

At the time, I warned Newt that this would cause problems.  Of course, we didn’t have as large a readership back then, so I’m sure he didn’t get my warning.  Shortly before that, Newt was secretly my number one pick to eventually win it all.

With great influence comes great responsibility

Sure enough, right about that time Newt called in to Rush Limbaugh’s show and tried to explain exactly what I said in the first paragraph here.  Rush didn’t buy it, and the godfather of Social Conservatism cast doubt on his blessing of Newt’s candidacy.  Listen to the interview here.  The result was that a couple weeks later I was writing about the rubble of Newt 2012.  In that article, I said that it would take a miracle to revive Newt, that miracle being upward movement in the polls.  Hallelujah, we now know the political gods did not forsake us after 2008.

Today, Rush once again expressed his reservations about Newt.  In what he framed as analysis of Newt’s rise to the top, Rush once again mentioned Newt’s baggage including his support of a mandate in 1993.  While doing his best not to appear against Newt, Rush laid out everything Conservatives should be careful about with Newt.  To be fair though, he did the same for Mitt Romney at the same time.

In the end, Rush chalked up Newt’s rise to the top as two things.  Newt doesn’t defend his mistakes (like Romney does with Romneycare), and he does go after the media for their bias.

It’s a little bit more than that.  Newt has a proven fiscal conservative track record.  He balanced the budget for four years in a row.  The Federal budget, not just one of the 50 states.  That doesn’t even seem in the realm of reality these days.  It would be like saying he walked on water in the context of today’s deficit.  But speaking of walking on water, Newt has the social conservative credentials as well.

In a speech in Jacksonville, Florida yesterday (that yours truly had the privilege of attending), Newt said that under his education reforms, teachers who could not adequately explain what it meant to be endowed by your Creator with certain inalienable rights would be asked to resign.  This was in response to a question from the audience regarding a neighboring county where the government was putting pressure on a pastor there to stop school flagpole prayer meetings.  Newt said that he would seek to end funding for Planned Parenthood and use that money to help promote adoption.  He is pro-school choice.  He has well rounded conservative credentials and unlike Romney, conservatives trust Newt when he says things like supporting a mandate and sharing a couch with Pelosi were stupid.

Frank Luntz on Sean Hannity’s show this afternoon said that everyone was shocked about Newt’s resurgence.  It wasn’t a surprise for me.  I predicted that as the Cain-Gingrich debate received acknowledgment and replay, Newt would rise.  On November 3rd, I said that people were taking a fresh look at Newt Gingrich.  But even better than that, on October 13th, I laid out the path to victory for Newt Gingrich going through South Carolina and Florida.  In a blog titled “Yes He Can”, I analyzed how Cain was preparing to fall on his 9-9-9 plan and how Newt would take early states Iowa and South Carolina, leading to a showdown in Florida between Newt/Mitt.  So no, it wasn’t a shock.  If you’ve been reading this blog, it wasn’t a shock to you either.

In that same article, I said that Newt’s dirty laundry has been airing out for a long time.  It doesn’t smell as “fresh” as Cain’s or Perry’s.  The same is true for Mitt, although Newt knows when to admit to a mistake.  Therefore, in this up and down race where nothing is certain and things change every minute, I am sticking to what I said over a month ago.  Newt/Mitt, for the championship, the second to last GOP debate in Florida in Jacksonville.  Newt will be carrying South Carolina and maybe Iowa to the table, Mitt will have New Hampshire under his belt.  Then the two smartest, most articulate, and strongest leaders will have one last significant chance to make their case.

Rush, Coulter, and any other big-time rightwing players who still think Bachmann, Cain, or Santorum could come back and win, keep dreaming.  It’s more likely that Tebow would win the Superbowl.

PS, I have absolutely nothing against Tebow.  In fact, after Thursday’s game against Rex Ryan and the Jets, Tebow is my second favorite quarterback.

Ron Paul 2012! The Chad Doesn’t Fall Far From the Ballot.

Bookmark and Share   This is  funny, but sadly it’s true!

I have said long ago that Ron Paul followers are a bit out of touch.  I also believe that many of Ron Paul’s most ardent and boisterous supporters are teens and college age kids.  

Video by Chunkage75

As exemplified by the young man seen in the video above, most of Ron Paul’s supporters are men between the ages of 18 and 30.   His support among both men and women progressively declines from the age of 27 and up.    In other words, most of Ron Paul’s support comes from the very kids that you see on MTV during Spring Breaks specials at Senor Frogs in Cancun, or surrounding a stage on Miami Beach while drinking beer through funnels and flailing their booties and hands about to Fifty Cent’s latest rap about those he deems as bitches and hos.  As portrayed by the very civic-minded young man in the video above, this is what accounts for a significant portion of Ron Paul’s support.

The problem is that much like the irresponsible fool in the video, many of the minds in this young demographic are not as  inspired by Ron Paul’s respect for the Constitution as they are for the excuses they come with up based upon Ron Paul’s interpretations of the Constitution.  What they do with Ron Paul’s message is say “Yeah, that’s right.  Government has no right to tell me anything”.    While government should in fact play much less a role in our lives than it currently does, Ron Paul’s lack of any willingness to acknowledge many of the proper responsibilities for government, allows for an almost anarchist-like interpretation of his message by those who wish to legitimize their own unfettered conduct.

Paul’s mousey toned, but impassioned description of  the Constitution helps the  typical young rebel who feels  invincible and naïvely believes they are of superior intellect,  to make excuses for irresponsible behavior.   The largest demographic supporting Ron Paul likes the idea of freedom but they do not quite grasp the fact that with freedom also comes great responsibility and personal control.  And so like the punk kid in the video, they do not respectfully regard the Constitution for the freedom it defends, they instead use it as an excuse for avoiding the personal responsibility that comes with freedom.

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Airtime for the backups

Aside from Tim Pawlenty, going into last night’s debate I think most pundits considered these to be second tier candidates. After last night, I will admit that the perception that most of these candidates don’t have a viable shot probably hasn’t changed. However, there were clear winners and clear losers. Here is my take on the debate, which at times will be blunt and harshly honest:

Tim Pawlenty

Pawlenty demonstrated why he is a top tier candidate. He was professional, studied, and Presidential. He took clean shots at Obama and did not make missteps. However, his answer to Cap and Trade may come across to the base as a weak answer. Cap and Trade is already widely unpopular with the TEA party and conservative right. It is almost as unpopular as humbling yourself before the media and admitting a mistake. I think it was the best answer Pawlenty could give, but it highlighted that unfortunate decision to initially support Cap and Trade. Pawlenty’s other disadvantage coming into last night was that everyone expected a polished performance. He will be judged at a higher standard. I was pleased to see Pawlenty show some charisma and get the crowd motivated. However, when it came to charisma, Pawlenty was not the candidate who stole the show.

Herman Cain

Cain provided the night with a dose of Donald Trump charisma mixed with Sean Hannity conservatism. Cain was unequivocal and commanded the stage. He was a crowd pleaser who handled each question without a gaffe or misstep. I think Cain’s performance brought many conservatives to believe that he could be the conservative answer to the straightforward, no nonsense approach that Trump had become so popular for. My prediction is that we will begin to see Trump wane in popularity now that the birther issue has run its course and Cain stands to benefit. We will see if Cain can capitalize on his performance.

If Cain’s popularity does grow, he will need to find answers to a lot of questions on issues that have not seen the light of the mainstream media yet. For example, Cain defended his support of the Fairtax by mentioning the concept of a “prebate” paid to every family at the beginning of the month for essentials. But is Cain prepared to face scrutiny on the prebate idea? The IRS paid out billions in fraudulent stimulus checks as a one time deal. Kiplinger says that the IRS estimates that 25% of earned income credit payouts were incorrect and fraudulent. Can the government cut a check to every family in America at the beginning of every month without an Internal Revenue Service, individual tax returns, and massive fraud? Also, getting rid of the IRS sounds nice, but who is going to make sure businesses remit the fairtax and prebates are paid out without a revenue department in the government? Perhaps we will see in the course of this primary if Cain is running on answers or populism.

Rick Santorum

Santorum did a good job as a whole, and will appeal to the same conservatives that Bush appealed to. The question is if Santorum can position himself as more likely to win than Obama. Santorum’s message resonates with social conservatives, and he made it clear last night that his message hasn’t changed. Will conservatives vote for Santorum? While presenting himself as a solid candidate, he did not say anything last night that distinguished himself or rocketed him into the top tier. Santorum’s win for the night was the fact that he showed up, while Gingrich, Huckabee and others did not. But he is still overshadowed by other conservative heavyweights, including Gingrich, Bachmann, Huckabee, and now Cain.

Ron Paul

Paul hasn’t changed since 2008. While he says many things that make sense to conservative constitutionalists and libertarian Republicans, Paul still comes across as the enemy of all things Democrat and Republican. This is great for wooing independents and libertarians, but will not win Paul the Republican primary. For most of the night, I felt myself agreeing with and cheering Paul, but he will once again be the martyr of the protectionist, states rights conservatives. They understand what Paul is saying, they just can’t figure out why non-Paul Republicans don’t. Here’s a hint, Ron Paul still comes across as abrasive, obnoxious, and anti-Republican. This man could be President if he could figure out how to sell himself and explain why what he believes would actually work. I spent a good part of the evening asking myself why Republicans don’t support Ron Paul, but the answer is the same as last time he ran. He is an uncompromising and radical philosopher campaigning in a world of soundbites, and soundbites are not kind to Ron Paul.

Gary Johnson

Picture a more abrasive and whiny version of Ron Paul, but without the name recognition. With Ron Paul in the race, who needs Gary Johnson? He did not distinguish himself, except to come down on the traditionally liberal side of Iraq, Afghanistan (supported it before he was against it), and drugs. His “cost/benefit” approach to drug legalization portrayed a dollars above principles approach to policy. Whether his views on the cost benefit of the war on drugs are right or wrong, such a calloused approach to a moral question will not win him a conservative majority. Johnson only made matters worse by dismissing the conservative majority in the Republican party as unnecessary in the primary and guaranteed to be loyal in the general election. He should ask John McCain if Republicans need social conservatives to defeat Obama.

Johnson’s moment of charisma showed itself in the form of scolding the moderators for not asking him enough questions, a move that screams “I am unpolished, second tier, and everyone knows it but me”. He will find his frustrations at not being taken seriously will continue to grow, mainly because he is not a serious candidate.

Summary

After last night, I think Herman Cain moved up, Santorum, Paul and Pawlenty remained unchanged, and Johnson moved down. Gingrich was probably hurt the most by not showing up, Romney was hurt the least. Gingrich could have used the exposure and chance to showcase his debate skills. Romney sofar has seemed to transcend any primary activity in early polls as an assumed front runner by most whether he shows up or not. Mitch Daniels was probably the most unfairly represented absentee at the debate itself. In the end, the only lasting effects of this debate will be a bump for Herman Cain.

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