Romney’s Critical Debate Slip

Romney is a classy debater.  He has style, smoothness, and grace.  Were it not for Newt in these debates, Romney would also have the market cornered on ideas and frankly the air of honesty.  I know most politicians are liars by nature, but when Romney refused to back down on Romneycare, he won some points in the straight-forwardness arena.  That has not hurt Romney, in fact it has been an asset, until perhaps now.

Romney emerged from the pro-life doghouse Thursday night after skipping the Personhood forum in South Carolina.  In the debate, Romney made a clear pro-life stand, but he also slipped up when he tried to deflect criticism from Santorum about abortion funding.

“Is there any possibility that I ever made a mistake in that regard?” Romney asked. “I didn’t see something that I should have seen? Possibly.”

As Rick Perry would say, “oops”.  What was one of the biggest problems with Obamacare?  The only people who actually read the bill were the grassroots groups who were against it.  Take the 1099 rule, for example.  The 1099 rule, written into Obamacare, would have required every business to send every other business a 1099 form for any amounts they paid for services.  For example, a mom and pop shop would have to send McDonalds a 1099 form if they ate there enough during the year.

Obama quickly recognized the stupidity of the 1099 rule based on the overwhelming response from businesses.  In his State of the Union address, he chalked it up to a “flaw” in the Obamacare legislation.

“We can start right now by correcting a flaw in the legislation that has placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses.”

Bravo, Mr. President.  Why was it there in the first place?  Because nobody read or thought about Obamacare.  Now is Romney excusing his funding for abortion through Romneycare by admitting he didn’t see something he should have seen?  That is not what we are looking for in a President, especially on an issue as crucial as abortion.

I see a developing pattern.  It started with Romney’s distancing himself from superpacs that support him.  His excuse for the negative ads run against his opponents?  He has no control over what they run.  Then Romney responded to questions about his money in the Caymans by saying he has a blind trust that manages his money and he has no control over that either.

There are two things grassroots conservatives don’t want in a President.  The first is a President who has no control and is aloof from the actual governing processes.  We already have that with Barack Obama. The second is a President who is in control, but will not take responsibility for his actions.  Oh wait, in many areas that is Barack Obama too.

Romney MIA for Pro-Life Forum

Romney is playing it safe, taking advantage of the luxury of his front runner status.  Part of that means skipping tonight’s Pro-Life forum in SC.  Romney’s hubris is not unfounded.  As Social Conservatives split for Santorum and Gingrich, Romney is set to take another state with well under 50% of the vote.

Romney should be careful.  His support base includes many conservatives who are voting for him because he is the presumed nominee and they believe he can beat Obama.  So why didn’t they support Huntsman?  Because Huntsman was not a conservative on certain key issues that are non-negotiables for conservatives.  Romney is…or is he?

Romney has a history of running on both pro-life and pro-abortion platforms.  Politicians have a long established practice of flip flopping and pandering, so Romney is not doing anything radical by changing his position.  What sunk John Kerry wasn’t his flip flopping, it was the position he landed on.  Romney himself has done well landing in a solid pro-life position.  So why won’t he show up tonight?  This question is not one Romney should want conservatives asking themselves going into South Carolina.  It will be even worse if anyone on that stage mentions his absence.

Romney is coming fresh off another uncharacteristic campaign gaffe where he said he probably pays taxes at 15% (referring to his capital gains taxes on investments).  Romney failed to mention that his investment money is first subject to corporate tax rates of up to 35%.  In fact, if Romney were to add up his capital gains tax of 15% and corporate tax of 35%, the result would be much higher than Obama’s 23% income tax rate paid in 2010.  In fact, the Buffet induced myth of CEOs paying less than their secretaries is pretty ridiculous when you consider that Romney could probably have paid Obama’s entire income (including book sales) for 2010 with the taxes he paid.  But instead, Romney shot from the hip and wound up with a tax rate estimate of 15%.

One thing is for sure, this race is still far to volatile for Romney to think he can sit tonight’s debate out.  It may not be a huge mistake, but it is a mistake.  We will see if it affects him.

Is Cain Trying in Iowa?

No, if you believe his now former Iowa director Tina Goff and Kevin Hall who was in charge of coordinating for the Iowa straw poll in just over a month.  Jim Zeiler has also left the Iowa staff and Cain lost his New Hampshire director earlier this week.  When it comes to managing a campaign, things are not looking good for Cain.

On the other hand, Cain is looking good in the Iowa polls.  Most recently he came in second only to perpetual front runner Mitt Romney and remade Michelle Bachmann.

Will the Guiliani gamble work for Cain?

The problem is that Cain has not done or said anything to differentiate himself from Michelle Bachmann.  Going into this race he had perhaps set himself apart as a more “serious” candidate, and certainly took on early momentum from the TEA Party.  But Bachmann easily out-shined him in the debate and continues to make the right steps even in the face of extreme character assassination.  Bachmann’s successes have made her detractors appear to be less “serious”.

In the meantime, Cain is reducing himself to soundbite worthy quips and small government platitudes while his substance seems to be a foggy mirror of the clarity Bachmann has produced.  The result is that Cain is quietly slipping into the shadows where other candidate copies, like Gary Johnson (generic brand Ron Paul) and Jon Huntsman (Mitt Romney clone only the media is excited about) reside.  Bachmann is quickly taking the TEA Party energy.

In some ways, Cain brought this on himself.  His radio host style speeches leave little substance to hang one’s hat on and his brief handling of gay marriage in the debate has alienated him from the religious section of the TEA Party.  In addition, at times he has seemed clueless on some of the more detailed issues such as right of return for a Palestinian state.  This still puts him miles ahead in knowledge from someone like Joe Biden who wanted a three state solution for Iraq.

Cain does have one demographic that still turns out strongly in support of him, and that is the African American conservatives, moderates, and independents.  Many of these who helped turn Florida blue for Barack Obama and are now disenchanted with his policies are indicating strong support for Cain.  Whereas Iowa is turning out to be a fiscal versus social conservative battle between Romney and Bachmann, all important Florida may end up being a fiscal versus social conservative battle between Romney and Cain. Real Clear Politics shows Cain in second place to Romney in Florida out of current candidates, but large percentages going to Huckabee and Palin.  It will be interesting to see how those Palin and Huckabee supporters break by the time we reach Florida.  It won’t be for Mitt Romney.

If Cain can survive until Florida and then capitalize on it, losing Iowa might not be that big a deal.  Then again, perhaps he should talk to Rudy Guiliani about that strategy.

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