Category Archives: Huntsman

The Iowa Caucuses… What the heck happened?

Like most people not living in Iowa, I was baffled last night to see Santorum come out on top in the Iowa Caucuses. He hasn’t been in the news, hasn’t had strong performances in the debates, and hasn’t been all that successful in promoting himself. So how the heck did he end up winning? 

I’ve been doing some reading today and he was actually pretty ingenious in his methods in Iowa. He didn’t have much money so big time advertising wasn’t possible, and he didn’t make much of a splash in any debate (I thought he seemed like a combative jerk with no real substance in the debates, but his rants were brief) or national polls so his opponents ignored him and fought among themselves. While they were busy lashing out at each other and doing damage to the “big” candidates that were supposed to do well, like Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, he was visiting every county in the state and having small meetings with social conservatives/Christians/etc. every day and building a strong grassroots network of people that had actually met him and talked to him and were therefore theoretically more loyal. It obviously worked. He got a huge chunk of the “evangelical” vote and no one landed a real blow on him before the primary to scare any of those social conservatives away from his ticket. I think it’ll be a different game now and the increased visibility will lead to his campaign imploding (like Rick Perry), but it was a clever and cheap way to make a lot of noise in the early primaries. 

As far as where this is headed, I was glad to see Bachmann close up shop after Iowa, and I really expected Rick Perry to do the same. I’ll be surprised if he survives until February, there is just too little substance to his platform and too many missteps to allow most people to take him seriously as a candidate. I think Santorum will fade simply because he also doesn’t have anything really going for him other than a clever campaign strategy in Iowa that he can’t really repeat in other states now that he is in the spotlight, and he doesn’t have the funds or the overall appeal to survive the whole process. He might raise a ton of money due to Iowa I suppose, and he might get a good portion of the hardcore evangelical crowd until a good smear ad comes out about him, but I can’t see him being a serious contender for the nomination. Huntsman seems to be betting it all on New Hampshire but I don’t see that working out well for him. He’s also just not particularly likable when he is on debates or interviews, and isn’t very well funded, so I don’t see him lasting long either. That’s where things get interesting though, because The Romney-Ron Paul-Gingrich line up it a lot harder to get a feel for. 

-Romney has been consistent in his level of support but consistent also means he’s been stagnant overall. I think this is because he’s just not that exciting or interesting. He doesn’t appeal to the social conservatives due to some past stances and recent “changes of heart” and people like me don’t like him much because he comes off as just another slippery politician that says very little of substance. But he’s a favorite of the cynical Republicans who just want someone they think can beat Obama and find him as the least objectionable overall, so he’s not to be underestimated. 

-Ron Paul has a very loyal following and a high anti-establishment appeal due to his views and voting history, but isn’t loved by the social conservatives due to his hands-off approach to some issues they feel strongly about and he alienates some that might support him with his foreign policy views and near fanatical rants about gold and the Fed. 

-Gingrich is an interesting candidate simply because he’s been through every kind of political trial by fire I can imagine over the years and yet still somehow survived and evolved to become a contender. He comes across as the most rational and intelligent in debates and has a relatively interesting platform, but his past also makes him really easy to run a smear campaign against as the last few weeks in Iowa has proven. 

I have no idea how this will all play out of course, but I think it will be interesting to see how New Hampshire and South Carolina play out and who gains support when people like Rick Perry and possibly Santorum or Huntsman close up shop. 


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Filed under 2012 Election, Bachmann, Candidate, Caucus, Gingrich, GOP, Huntsman, Iowa, Paul, Perry, Politics, President, Republican, Romney, Santorum

My take on the Western Republican Presidential Debate

I participated in a CNN iReport tonight after watching the Western Republican Presidential Debate. The video can be viewed here:, the text transcript is included below.
In regards to tonight’s CNN Republican debate, there are a few things that stuck out to me as a potential republican voter.
First and foremost was that Herman Cain handled himself well under pressure. Although we don’t have enough details on his 9-9-9 plan yet, he was under heavy attack from the beginning and came across as straightforward and confident.
Second: Romney, Perry, and Santorum all spent too much time arguing and yelling and too little time proposing real solutions to the problems facing America. Their choice to argue instead of answer the questions is discouraging.
Third: Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich both came across as honest and transparent and that makes me think they’re worth paying attention to.
And finally, Michelle Bachmann, much like Romney, is a strong speaker that often chooses to ignore the question to promote their own campaign rhetoric.
I think Herman Cain is the man to watch right now, but ignoring Gingrich or Paul would be a mistake. Romney will continue to be significant due to his recognition and finances, but was not tonight’s strongest performer.

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Filed under 2012 Election, Bachmann, Cain, Candidate, CNN, Debates, Gingrich, GOP, Huntsman, Paul, Perry, Politics, Republican, Romney, Santorum

Initial GOP Field Impressions

In the very early stages of the 2012 election cycle as the GOP field was solidifying, I began watching the televised debates to learn more about the candidates. The first such debate I watched was on October 11th, 2011 and I made a quick candidate by candidate assessment after the debate. For the sake of full disclosure, I have posted it below. I think some of you will find it interesting to compare my initial thoughts about the candidates to how I view them now and to see why my perceptions changed. As of October 2011, The following candidates were still in the race: Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum. Here’s what I thought of them in the first debate I was able to watch:

Bachmann: She handled herself very well and is actually a pretty good speaker. She didn’t always answer the question being asked, and wasn’t really put on the spot by anyone, but was pretty skillful at the wordplay and will likely leave a good impression with some people. I still think she’s borderline crazy and full of crap on many of her promises, but she’s at least charismatic and that is bound to lure a few people in. 

Cain: This was the first time I’d seen him live and I was impressed. He was grilled the most of the candidates presence on actual economic issues (Romney probably got the most heat overall, which isn’t surprising, but his was on a broader range of issues) and he never seemed frustrated or lost composure. He seemed honest and upfront and answered the question being asked without going into a bunch of party line rhetoric and fake patriotic ramblings like some of the others. He didn’t let people misrepresent his views (when they gave him time to rebut) but he never stooped to insulting anyone else to win an argument. I can see that being a very good feature for our future leader and I think he would probably do well at diplomacy without being a pushover. I did some looking into 9-9-9 after the debate and it’s interesting and I do think he truly believes it would work, but I don’t know enough about how it would work to think it’s a totally realistic option at this point. However, his history in business and ability to turn around under-performing companies may be exactly what the country needs right now. He’s a new face, he’s not a career bureaucrat, he seems to have good ideas and experience, and I’ll keep him on my short list of people to watch.

Gingrich: Possibly my favorite from last night performance wise, but not my favorite candidate right now. He called it like he saw it last night and it was refreshing to hear someone that isn’t afraid to speak the truth (as they see it, at least). He didn’t try to blame every single problem we have on the current administration (like a few last night did), and I enjoyed listening to him speak. He strikes me as a very smart man, but I think his political baggage and history in D.C. will make him too unappealing to the voters to be a realistic candidate.

Huntsman: Last night was the first time I had listened to him live as well and he did a reasonably good job. I didn’t agree with everything he said, but he was also very upfront and had some good ideas. He seemed a little combative at times and didn’t offer a lot in the way of real solutions (he just kept leaning back on how well Utah had been doing under his tenure instead of offering a specific plan), but he seems like a smart guy who could probably cater bipartisan support for some issues and has diplomatic experience with our biggest economic partner. I don’t like him a whole lot overall, but he might not be a bad candidate if more people knew who he was.

Paul: I like Ron Paul overall because he has a good handle on many aspects of economic theory and he’s not afraid to call out whoever he feels is doing a bad job (regardless of party affiliation). However his solutions are so ambitious/seemingly impossible that he sometimes comes across as crazy and there is probably an endless bank of soundbites out there that would be turned against him in a campaign. I think that he would try to do what he felt was right if elected and he means what he says, but his passion is both an asset and a liability.

Perry: Easily the most disappointing performance of the night, especially considering his “front-runner” status. He didn’t answer the questions, instead all he did was talk about his unknown plan to bring energy independence to the US and promised an economic plan to come in the “next few days”. He strikes me as an easily rattled speaker that didn’t know his own platform well enough to defend himself in a debate and had to resort to talking in circles to avoid looking completely incompetent. I think he needed to perform well last night to be taken seriously and he didn’t. His decline in the polls should continue.

Romney: As the top pick right now, I watched him closely and came up with a few thoughts on him. First, he is a good politician in that he speaks well and can turn attacks on his past into awkward promotions for himself or his platform. That said, he comes across as a bit of a used car salesman and I have a hard time trusting what he says. He’s likely to be the republican’s top choice, but I also think he’s one of the least likely to offer any real solutions. He strikes me as another typical politician who will come up with complicated solutions and poor compromises to our country’s problems. I don’t see him being very effective at appealing to bipartisan support for his issues, and I think most of his tough talk on Obama and China is just that- talk. I don’t dislike his stance on most issues, but he managed to avoid answering the tough questions last night by talking in circles and sliding the subject to something he’d rather discuss and it makes me very skeptical of him as a potential leader.

Santorum: Had one or two good points but seemed to spend the whole time trying to pick fights and belittle others’ ideas without offering anything of substance of his own. It was off putting, and I don’t see him being a realistic candidate or a good choice for the country.

How they would perform against President Obama in a debate: It is my personal view that President Obama is nowhere near the gifted speaker many claim he is. His 2008 campaign speeches were very well delivered, but in press conferences, interviews, and other on-the-spot settings, he frequently loses composure or has difficulty answering questions. As such, I view him as a teleprompter-dependent speaker. He isn’t a bad speaker when his speech and notes are prepared, but in a debate setting he won’t have a teleprompter to guide him.  Romney (regardless of my feelings about him one way or another) is good at debates, even when he’s not really saying anything of substance. He comes across as confident and collected, and the only times I’ve seen Obama unscripted he stumbles all over himself (much like Perry did tonight). He loses all charisma without preparation and a Republican nominee with decent debate skills (like Romney, Cain, Gingrich, or even Bachman all have the necessary speaking abilities) could make him look incompetent. With the most recent polls showing under 40% expecting him to get reelected and his approval rating continuing a downward trend (around 40% now), he doesn’t have the energy of a popular candidate for this campaign and his old tricks are going to need some tweaking to have a real chance at re-election. 

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Filed under 2012 Election, Bachmann, Cain, Candidate, Gingrich, GOP, Huntsman, Paul, Perry, Politics, Republican, Romney, Santorum