Gingrich Wins at Cain Event

Slated by organizers as the beginning of the Northeast Florida political campaign season, Stand Up for America was an event in Jacksonville Friday night featuring semi-local radio personality Neil Boortz, Karl Rove, Jacksonville political news blogger and reporter Jaime Dupree, and featured a special guest appearance by Herman Cain.

Cain got the audience going at the well attended event with a 20 minute speech on taxes, spending and foreign policy.  But the big winner of the night was Newt Gingrich who won the straw poll at the beginning of the night.  The day before, Newt gathered a crowd of a couple hundred in downtown Jacksonville for a townhall meeting sponsored by the First Coast Tea Party, one of the largest individual TEA party organizations in the United States.

Dennis Miller Signals a Surge in Endorsements for Herman Cain

Bookmark and Share¬† Although comedian, actor and radio talk show host Dennis Miller¬†made no secret tha he was fond of Herman Cain’s presidential ¬†candidacy, he had not endorsed him.¬† Until now.

Today Miller used his nationally aired radio program to officially endorse Herman Cain for the Republican nomination for President.  Click here to listen to clip. In addition to that, Miller is slated to headline a fundraiser for Cain in Los Angeles.

Earlier in the day, there there were a serious of Twitters from bothCain and Miller that went as follows;

Dennis Miller Show
How proud would I be to have Herman Cain as my President? http://dennismillerradio.com/b/Cain-Versus-Unable/144162840843406213.html @THEHermanCain
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Herman Cain
I’d like to thank @DennisDMZ for his support. I look forward to working with him as we continue our journey to the White House!
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Dennis Miller Show
Here’s an idea for Herman Cain’s next bumper sticker: “Cain Versus Not Able.” Herm’s up next at http://dennismillerradio.com/site @THEHermanCain
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Herman Cain
Love it! RT @DennisDMZ: Here’s an idea for Herman Cain’s next bumper sticker: “Cain Versus Not Able.”

Whether Miller’s endorsement of Herman Cain is a sign that others will now be confident enough to publicly declare their support for what has been cosidered a longshot campaign , is not fully known yet.¬† But one certainty is that Cain’s big victory by a wide margin in Saturday’s Florida Republican presidential straw poll, has put Cain on the map and established him as a contender.

Many see Cain’s straw poll victory as a sign of disatissfaction with the political establishment of both major Parties.¬† From this consultant’s point of view, that is true.¬† However, the fact that people would use Herman Cain¬†to send this signal says much about Herman Cain himself.¬† In the recent straw poll, Cain won more votes than the second and third places, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney did.¬† Such a vote total is based not just on sending a message, many of those votes went his way because many of those people also believe in Herman Cain.¬† They believe that he can at the very least bring some of the common sense to Washington, D.C. that the political establishment lacks.

What Herman Cain now needs to do is convince establishment voters that he is more than a vessel being used to signal disatisfaction.¬†¬† He must demonstrate that he is not just the flavor of the day.¬† Not long ago Mchele Bachmann was the flavor of the day when she won the Iowa straw poll.¬† That got her as far as a dead last finish in Florida’s straw poll.

In addition to having to detail his policies on everything and be prepared to defend them against the scrutiny that his new success will bring, he could also use the support of an established politician, especially one that is respected and appreciated within the TEA movement.  Such an opportunity might be in the making with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley who recently indicated that she will be endorsing a person with business experience.  Such a comment could play in to the theme that mitt Romney is attaching to his own candidacy, but it could also be a reference to Herman Cain who has never held elected office but has successfully run several private sector interests and associations.

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Cain’s Florida Shocker

The value of the Florida straw poll was increased dramatically when Governor Rick Scott suggested that the winner of the Florida straw poll would also be the winner of the Presidency.¬† Scott’s prediction is not outlandish.¬† The Orlando event and debate was huge, in an area that represents the swing difference between the conservative north Florida and more liberal areas of the south.¬† The poll represents the party interests as many GOP and TEA party groups throughout the state made appearances.¬† And it would be almost impossible to imagine a 2012 candidate in the general election winning the Presidency without carrying Florida.

But who thought Herman Cain would win the Florida straw poll?

Rick Perry was the favorite going into the straw poll.¬† Perry also stayed behind and continued to work the crowd after the other candidates left.¬† Perry bought breakfasts and schmoozed.¬† He understood how crucial this poll was.¬† But in the end, Cain did twice as well as Perry in the straw poll.¬† While Romney continues to poll well in many northern states, Cain’s victory will at the very least cause undecided voters to take a second look.

While this may not change the scene too much for Herman Cain, it certainly is a tough blow to Rick Perry.¬† Perry struggled in the debate, blaming his performance on lack of sleep.¬† Perry also made a huge blunder by suggesting what amounted to a claim that if you don’t support instate tuition discounts for illegal aliens you don’t have a heart.¬† Even pro-amnesty Republicans will have a hard time swallowing that one.¬† So far the debate performances have not had much effect on the perceived standings of the candidates.¬† This time, Perry is feeling the painful fallout.

Interestingly, Ron Paul did not do well.  Typically his straw poll numbers are inflated, but not in Florida.  Bachmann did terrible and Huntsman barely registered.

Is Paul Electable? Only As GOP Nominee

He came in behind Michele Bachmann.¬† And don’t be fooled, Ron Paul was actually trying in Iowa.¬† So is Ron Paul really a top tier candidate now?¬† Jon Stewart seems to think so.

Actually, Ron Paul probably would win in a head to head with Barack Obama.¬† For a second tier candidate, he polls pretty well in head to head matchups with Obama.¬† The problem is, in his own party primary he comes in a consistent fourth at best.¬† Add Perry, minus Pawlenty, no change for Ron Paul.¬† Real Clear Politics has Ron Paul in sixth place right now behind two candidates who aren’t even running.¬† And I hate to say it, but Guiliani doesn’t have a shot.¬† Still, he outpolls Paul in the GOP primaries.

Is the lack of media attention really because we are afraid of Ron Paul winning?

Is Paul electable?  Sure.  As the GOP candidate he would make up for lost Republicans he has alienated with independents he appeals to.  Unlike McCain who went after fiscal liberal independents, Paul would go after social and national security liberal dependents.  He would actually take these away from Obama.

Shoot, I’d vote for Ron Paul over Obama.¬† But I’d also vote for half the Democrats over Obama at this point.

Www.dailypaul.com has suggested that half the Republicans want a third party.¬† That’s great, throw in half the Democrats and half the Independents, get them to agree on Paul, and you might have a case for a third party Paul run.¬† As it is, polls show Paul would only play spoiler as a third party candidate.

So is it a big deal that Ron Paul came in second behind Michele Bachmann in Iowa?¬† I’m going to say no.¬† Now, if he wins the Iowa Caucus, that might be something to talk about.

Pawlenty’s Demise Focuses Crosshairs on Obama

Tim Pawlenty bowed out of the race  on Sunday morning.  He cited a poor showing in Iowa and no clear path forward.  In his exit statements, Pawlenty offered what had been missing from his campaign.  Pawlenty said:

“I’m doing this because I love this country and I want to defeat Barack Obama because I think he’s got it on the wrong course…but I don’t get my identity or my sense of worth or my values or my faith from politics. I get it from my personal faith in God, and I believe in this country, I love this country, I thought I would have been a great president.”

And with that he summed up what he should have been saying all along in this campaign.

Pawlenty's strategy of attacking frontrunners failed to rocket him to the front

Instead, Pawlenty became memorable for coining the term Obamneycare, attacking Michelle Bachmann and Ron Paul for never accomplishing anything, while allowing himself to easily slip into the category of being a copy of another candidate.¬† Pawlenty was the governor who balanced the budget without increasing taxes beyond a cigarette tax.¬† But that didn’t separate him from nearly half the other candidates.¬† In fact, Pawlenty’s biggest differentiation was that he was the sole candidate outside of Ron Paul to go after his GOP rivals in a race that thus far has been mostly focused on Obama and liberal policies.

The loss of Pawlenty and inclusion of Rick Perry will help focus this race more on Obama as each candidate contrasts themselves with him instead of with each other.

Pawlenty was a good candidate with good credentials coming into this race.  However, after his performance in the last Iowa debate I was surprised that he did as well as he did in the Iowa caucus.  Pawlenty is making the right choice by stepping out of this race, and the tone of the race will be better without him.  The key to winning the 2012 GOP primary is becoming more clear.  Candidates need to contrast themselves with Obama and then win on ideas.  In this stage of the game, going after fellow GOP candidates is not yielding much fruit.

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.

CPAC a Clash of Ideologies

Legalize marijuana? Cancel the fence? Withdraw the troops? Lose in Iraq and Afghanistan and don’t look back? If you only listened to every other speech from CPAC, you might forget where you were. Pollster Tony Fabrizio was jeered for downplaying Ron Paul’s second consecutive straw poll win, but his comments were spot on. The consensus at CPAC is that government is too big. That may have been the only consensus.

Herman Cain also nailed it when he said the reason Obama is President is because too many conservatives stayed home rather than vote for a less than perfect candidate.

Ron Paul’s victory should not be ignored by the Republican Party. While he certainly does not represent mainstream Republicanism, his supporters could represent the difference between a Republican win in 2012 and four more years of Obama.

On the other hand, Paul needs to understand the influence he holds and the responsibility he has to promote conservatism to whatever degree he can. Ron Paul is so infatuated with individualism that I doubt he would call out his supporters for their shameful, liberal-like behavior when Cheney and Rumsfield were on the stage. Paul could learn a lesson or two from his son about how to defeat the left and build bridges with conservatives. Such reconciliation is his only path out of the peanut gallery.

Gary Johnson eliminated himself from the mainstream 2012 Republican primary with his libertarian views on drugs and immigration. However, he too represents a very significant part of not just Republicans, but the conservative constitutional movement. If Republicans truly want to return to the constitution, then federal drug prohibitions, international relations, and other differences appearing from CPAC must be dealt with and debated in a civil manner.

It would be far from fair to portray the libertarian wing of conservatism to be the only division, especially when Politico reports that Palin, Huckabee, and DeMint skipped the conference this year because of the presence of a gay conservative group at CPAC. Perhaps they could learn a lesson from Ann Coulter, a notoriously right wing radical Christian who keynoted a recent GOProud homosexual conservative conference and spoke about the gay conservative movement at CPAC.

I doubt even Paul’s supporters believe the straw poll is representative of the majority of conservative Republicans in the country. But if the various factions of conservatives cannot come together against the Democrat candidate after the 2012 primary, Herman Cain’s history lesson will repeat itself.

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