Category Archives: Republican

What Did We Learn in Florida? Ugly Politics Work… And They Don’t.

With the results in and the pundits having a field day making wild claims on TV about what Florida means for the rest of the primary season, it’s time to get down to brass tacks. The real question isn’t what Florida means for the rest of the primary season, but what did we learn from it? Did Romney finally show he can unite the Republican party and beat President Obama? Is the style we saw in Florida from Gingrich and Romney going to continue? I offer my thoughts:

What did we learn?

We learned that Romney intends to win this process by any means necessary. He didn’t just take off the gloves, he put on boxing gloves and wrapped them in barbed wire. He and his Super PACs spent an absolute fortune, pundits are saying he outspent Gingrich by $15 million in Florida (that means he spent a minimum of 4x more in Florida than Newt), and they spent almost 100% of it on purely negative ads trashing Gingrich. The attack ads (some of which were immediately disproved by Politifact and other sources, but people don’t normally look into things that well) aren’t a new tactic, we saw how well Romney’s negative tactics worked in Iowa when he demolished Gingrich there. What was a new development was how personal he got on the campaign trail. We didn’t see the Romney that promotes his business and leadership experience in Florida, we saw a new Romney that focused his energy on lashing out against Gingrich and pointing out his past in Congress and as a consultant and using that as a platform to make attacks against him. I wondered if Romney would go for the throat after being put on notice in South Carolina, but I underestimated how far he was willing to go with it. We also saw a different side of Gingrich than we’ve seen to date. The skilled orator who highlights his past as a political strategist and conservative while promoting his “grandiose” ideas was missing in Florida. We saw a Gingrich that appeared uncomfortable while under constant attack and failed to defend himself in an effective way against the attacks, whether they were true or false. He appeared frustrated, defensive, and angry and lost his focus on the issues and passion for his ideas we’ve seen so far. The other candidates, Santorum and Paul, barely register as having done anything in Florida. And before you start yelling at me, yes, I know both of them appeared at some events across the state and participated in the debates. Paul wisely skipped Florida to avoid wasting money and Santorum did what he could with the shoestring budget his campaign has been reduced to. We already knew Ron Paul was in this for the long haul, but it now appears Santorum is going to stay in the race as long as he can despite being flat in the polls too. I still don’t think this can continue all the way to the convention despite his claim that it will- Santorum simply doesn’t have the money or the loyal base of Paul to make it that far. He will have to win another state if he wants to build any momentum back up, and although that’s possible, I don’t think it’s too probable.

Did Romney show us he can unite the Republican Party and beat President Obama?

In a word- No. Romney had his strongest performance to date which is certainly important, but he still has a long ways to go to prove he can unite the Republican base and still appeal to any independents in a general election. Florida was a mixed bag for him. Yes, he won the primary and the delegates, but at a great cost. Not only did his campaign spend more than quadruple the amount of money campaigning in Florida than Gingrich (Santorum and Paul won’t register on the spending scale compared to either in Florida), he also lost a lot of his appeal to independents and potential Democratic defectors with the way he spent the money. Polls now show Romney’s likability numbers have been dropping since his scorched earth attack ad strategy started, and most surprisingly polls now show that Floridians would rather vote for Obama than Romney. This puts a whole new kink in the whole process. It has been assumed up until now that Romney was the most electable candidate and polls to date had shown him as the most likely to beat Obama, but that image of inevitability could be shattered if the way he wins the Republican nomination makes him so unlikable he can’t beat Obama. Romney is going to have to find a new way to beat Gingrich if he wants to be the nominee, because his constant negative attacks are taking a toll on his electability and overall appeal. Jabs here and there are fine and are pretty effective, but his current plan is a two edged sword and it will end up cutting him as badly as it cuts his opponents if he isn’t careful.

Is the style we saw in Florida from Gingrich and Romney going to continue?

No, I don’t think so. Gingrich’s concession speech (well, there wasn’t really any concession going on in it but I’m not sure what else you’d call it) after the results were almost all in was probably a signal of how his campaign will be run from here on out. He knows he didn’t handle the attacks well in Florida and that his own counter attacks failed to do any real damage to Romney and he needs to adjust his strategy if he’s going to be the nominee come August. I think Gingrich will stick to what he does best: promote big ideas, rail against Obama and the media when it’s beneficial to him, and lay out his vision for “rebuilding” America. He’ll have to get some jabs in against Romney here and there, but he needs to appear to rise above the attacks to beat them and I think he now knows that. Romney’s campaign machine is too big and well funded not to know that although they won the delegates in Florida, their current direction could cost them the election in November even if it succeeds in getting them the nomination. I think you’ll see Romney focus more on railing against Obama and trying to paint himself as someone the “common man” can connect with, because right now he’s still not making them believe he is the one that can make the economy work for them again. I think too many of his Gingrich attacks have been called out in Florida and Newt will theoretically be wiser from the mess of Florida and be better prepared for future grilling by the Romney ad machine, so there’s no logic in continuing in the vein of relentless negativity. The Super PACs for both will probably keep the anger dialed up for the rest of the process though, and the candidates will of course claim there’s nothing they can do about that.

So, like I said after South Carolina: Things are getting fun, and it will be interesting to see where things head. Luckily for my study habits February is a pretty slow month for the campaigning, but let me know what you think and I’ll do my best to respond.

-M

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Filed under 2012 Election, Candidate, Florida, GOP, Newt Gingrich, Politics, President, Republican, Romney, Ron Paul, Santorum

Ron Paul gets a raw deal from the pundits…

Tonight’s CNN debate was a mess. I thought Fox News did a mediocre job (they normally do) with the debate earlier this week, but tonight CNN managed to make that one look like it had substance. I don’t know if you could call anyone a winner tonight, no one really excelled they were so bogged down with personal background garbage, but watching the comments/”scorecards” going up on twitter and facebook I think Ron Paul is getting a raw deal. 


Everyone seems to have Dr. Paul as the weakest performer tonight and I think that’s incorrect. In my view, Santorum (who admittedly is my least favorite of the remaining candidates) was the weakest tonight simply because his entire strategy rested on throwing attacks, many of which were completely irrelevant to the issues at hand, at the others and attempting to play a consistent conservative high card with each attack. All three of his opponents put him back in his place repeatedly with answers or stats to counter his attacks and his strategy reeked of desperation and an overall lack of substance. You don’t play the “I’m doing well in the polls and I can take on Obama” card and turn around and pout or throw petty personal attacks at your opponents the next second and then not be able to adequately back them up. He did succeed in bruising Romney a bit, but I thought Romney had a pretty good first hour when he managed to inject some passion and excitement in his ideas for the first time I can remember since I started watching the debates. The rest of the night wasn’t as great for him, and he did a pretty poor job answering the tax and abortion questions, but I don’t think he did badly overall. Likewise, Gingrich has a very strong opening exchange, but you could tell he was a little off his game overall tonight compared to previous debates and I think this personal stuff going on with his angry ex-wife is taking a toll on his concentration regardless of how much of it is true. Paul didn’t do a very good job of delivering real answers to several of the questions tonight, which is a bit unusual for him, but his style was smoother than normal and he got some hits in on Santorum simply by countering Santorum’s statements against him.  It’s the first debate I wish I hadn’t watched, but I was curious to see how things played out with Rick Perry off the stage. The dynamic was certainly different, but it’s impossible to say how much the field has changed when a debate centers around unimportant personal history and petty attacks instead of the biggest issues facing whoever our next President will be. 


With that said, I think Ron Paul did a lot better tonight than the media is giving him credit for and he deserves to be placed ahead of Rick Santorum in any evaluation of the debate. Paul was able to counter every one of Santorum’s attacks and in my opinion did some damage to Santorum’s credibility in the way he handled the issues. I may not have Dr. Paul as my top pick in this race anymore, but I won’t ignore it when the media ignores his strengths. 

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Filed under 2012 Election, CNN, Debates, GOP, Newt Gingrich, Perry, Politics, President, Republican, Romney, Ron Paul, Santorum

I’m a Ron Paul Defector, but Let Me Explain…

In the second South Carolina debate this week, Rick Santorum said he was the best person for the presidency because he could get results in Washington. While doing so, he criticized Newt Gingrich for the “grandiosity” of his ideas and said that Newt rarely gets results. Although I think that’s just factually incorrect, I found it interesting that with the candidates whittled down to the final four, they’re finally getting more serious about who can actually accomplish what they preach. Although I explained in my last post why I think Gingrich is the most logical person to get results as President, I want to explain why I think Ron Paul, my other favored candidate in the race, isn’t the right choice for the nomination. 

My concern with Ron Paul is exactly Santorum’s concern with Gingrich. Ron Paul has a good talk and a lot of pro-liberty/freedom rhetoric, and I do like quite a bit of what he says, but he can’t get results out of any of it because he has little to no interest in working with others. I voted for Ron Paul in the 08 Primary, and I do like him as a politician (which is rare for me), but I can’t get over the feeling he’d be an incredibly ineffective president. He has been in Congress a very long time and his record reflects his beliefs, which I like. Unfortunately he’s largely ignored by both parties and spins his wheels when trying to push for or implement any of his ideas. This is actually a large part of why (other than the intelligence, etc. mentioned previously) I currently favor Gingrich- I think he would actually get results simply because of his history. No, I don’t think he sticks to his beliefs as hardline as Paul does, but I don’t think you can actually be that inflexible and get anything accomplished in Washington D.C. No, I don’t really like parts of Gingrich’s personal background, and no, I don’t agree with everything he has done (this goes for both though), but he did get results in the 90s working with both sides and I think he could do it again.  Gingrich was instrumental in reaching a bipartisan balanced budget even after his very aggressive campaign to put Republicans into Congress in 94 and he actually got Bill Clinton to sign it eventually. I’m sure there were compromises made along the way, but I can’t think of any American right now that doesn’t want their government to get back to a balanced budget and put the ridiculous partisan politics aside long enough to actually get some work done. 



Ultimately, I think that’s what we need this election, whether Republicans realize it yet or not. You don’t need a leader with great ideas that can’t get anyone else to support him- the Presidency is not a bubble of total power. We need someone who can get results out of a dysfunctional government and start getting things back on track. Unfortunately I just can’t find a way to convince myself that Paul is that candidate. Based off his track record of largely standing alone on issues and being known as “Dr. No” even in his own party, I don’t think Paul can get any bipartisan traction going or get many (if any) of his bigger reform goals accomplished. The president can’t stand alone and get anything done, and that is exactly what Dr. Paul has done with his time in Congress, no matter how much I respect him and his views. 

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Filed under 2012 Election, Debates, Gingrich, GOP, Newt Gingrich, Paul, Politics, President, Republican, Ron Paul, Santorum

Why Newt Gingrich Dominates Debates

Tonight’s Fox News debate may have been the worst one I’ve watched from the perspective of loaded or “gotcha” questions. Juan Williams was far from the only one asking loaded questions, but his questions really seemed hell bent on creating racial tensions and judgments out of statements or policies that had little, if anything, to do with race and the audience was getting fed up with it too judging by their noises and twitter. The other moderators were no better, their questions were just spread over more issues. I don’t know if that’s a Fox News thing or what, but it was quite irritating. 

I thought Newt did a very good job tonight because he took his aptitude for these debate settings and injected enough passion into it to make him come across as the most genuine in their views tonight by a good margin. He normally does well in debates, but pretty much everything I’ve read tonight felt he “won” tonight with his performance and the feedback was surprisingly positive from people that I know don’t care for him. Romney had a rare “bad” performance, which is probably what allowed Gingrich to steal more of the show, mainly because he let himself get thrown off his normally smooth style by the others and their questions, most notably Santorum. It wasn’t all bad of course, but he was all over the place tonight and I think it might have actually hurt him a little as far as SC is concerned. Santorum had his best debate performance tonight by a good margin and I think probably scored some points off of Romney by being able to appear more knowledgeable on some policy issues and calling him out on his redirection in how he somewhat avoided questions. Perry did surprisingly well tonight, which I guess is nice, but I think he may almost be a non-issue at this point. Paul had a hit or miss night, he did pretty well until foreign policy and once again let himself get side tracked and preachy, which isn’t helping him out any. I think Paul normally comes across as one of the most genuine and straightforward, so appearing a bit disjointed and indirect tonight was a bit unusual for him from what I’ve seen.



The reason Gingrich’s performance tonight was so powerful isn’t because it was just that much better than all his other performances, it wasn’t. It’s because he has been top dog in the debates since this whole circus started. He may not always have the flashiest one liners (although now that Herman Cain is gone he’s had the most) in a debate, but he stays on message, he answers the questions, and doesn’t waste time with empty rhetoric or loaded questions meant to stir up trouble. He doesn’t lose composure like some of the others and can keep his train of thought when others throw a curveball, unlike Mitt Romney or Rick Perry. Tonight was just chaotic enough to show the American people how competent Gingrich actually is, and although I’ve been warming to him over the past several weeks and I researched his platform and watched the debates, I think tonight solidified his position at the top of my list for the Republican Nominee. Newt Gingrich’s intelligence, history of getting results in a bipartisan way, and overall speaking ability make him a powerful leader and I think that would translate into him being a very effective president. I know some won’t agree with me and there are many (I’ve received messages from more than a few) that think I’m nuts for this viewpoint, but I think that the Republicans, Independents, and defecting Democrats that want to get this economy and this country back on track should be listening to what Gingrich says. Not just because it sounds good, all of the candidates have some very nice sounding ideas, but because he actually has the history demonstrating an ability to get his ideas done, and that is what sets him apart as the most logical candidate to get results.

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Filed under 2012 Election, Candidate, Debates, Fox News, Gingrich, GOP, Newt Gingrich, Paul, Perry, Politics, President, Republican, Romney

No Newt, Positive Campaigns Don’t Work

As much as I liked the idea of a “positive campaign” from any presidential candidate, I knew from the start that there was no hope it would actually work. People like positive messages, but they remember negative ones. Any when you’re the candidate with the most political and personal history for your opponents to pick apart, you can’t afford to sit back and send out happy thoughts while you’re being pummeled with negative ads. Newt Gingrich certainly learned this the hard way in Iowa and has now been forced to defend himself and go after the others to knock them down a notch too. The latest such attacks are against Mitt Romney and how he led Bain Capital. For whatever reason people are now upset for him questioning the ethics of how Romney made his money at Bain (they seemed less upset when people questioned his ethics of working at Freddie Mac or Santorum’s career in D.C., but logic doesn’t play a big role in this process), and he has to pretend to be nice again. . What I’m better though is the SuperPAC supporting him won’t.


The PAC almost certainly will spend a ton of money flinging mud. It’s more than a little amusing this is the same thing he got frustrated with Romney for doing in Iowa, but it definitely worked for Mitt there, so I guess it’s his turn. The bottom line is he just shouldn’t have attempted to play the high ground/victim card in Iowa, because it’s making it hard for him to stay consistent now.

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Filed under 2012 Election, Bain Capital, Candidate, Gingrich, GOP, Politics, President, Republican, Romney, Santorum, Super PAC

Why Romney Isn’t the Inevitable Nominee

I’ve had to defend my view recently of not caring for Mitt Romney since he’s potentially the least polarizing of the current candidates. Let me explain… It’s not that I find any one thing especially discouraging about Romney as a potential nominee, it’s that I find everything about him mediocre as a potential nominee. The sense of inevitability the media is using to talk about his campaign simply isn’t logical, and I’ll try to explain why with a few statements I’ve had thrown my way. 


“Romney is the only one with a chance to win against Obama”
I think that’s a foolish assumption, especially since I remember people saying back in 08 that the Democrats better nominate Hillary if they wanted anyone with a chance of winning the election. Romney’s “strength”, in my opinion, is the general feeling of ambivalence most people have towards him. Unlike Gingrich, Paul, Santorum, Perry, etc. there isn’t a lot of reason to hate the guy, just as there isn’t a whole lot of reason to love him. He’s just “okay” in most ways and doesn’t do much to make people love or hate him it seems. That’s a recipe to get elected if your opponent has a lot of reasons to be hated I suppose, (makes you seem like the lesser of the evils at the very least) but it’s not realistic to say that it’s the only way to win this election. 


“Romney is presidential and good at debates”
From a perception standpoint this may be right. I don’t find Romney likable and I really don’t think most people that actually pay attention to what he says will either. He is a skilled politician in the sense that he can speak for hours and hit his highlighted talking points without saying anything of real substance or actually answering any questions. Clinton was skilled at this too (more skilled, I’d argue) but being able to speak well or redirect a conversation in your favor isn’t the same thing as being likable. I like Paul and Gingrich more from a speaking standpoint simply because they don’t bullshit as much and talk in circles. They answer a question and tell you what’s on their mind (whether it’s the truth or not I have no way of knowing, but that’s true of anyone) in a no-nonsense way and that’s much more likable to me than the “better” speaker Romney. Romney does have a more presidential look to him for intangible reasons I can’t explain, but I don’t find anything about him likable. I liked him more when I hadn’t listened to him in debates and interviews, but like Obama, his speaking ability is a lot less impressive if you’re actually paying any attention to content and I think Romney won’t appeal to the more attentive/educated electorate for any other reason than the general ambivalence I mentioned earlier. That’s just my theory though, maybe I’m alone on this. 


Romney dominates debates
I read this, and I agree that he is possibly the most skilled speaker, but what this guy generally fails to point out is that he uses the same techniques that the author claims lets him “dominate debates” to avoid answering most of the questions he is asked. Stephan-however you spell his name-oppolus had to ask him the same question several times in one instance during the New Hampshire debates and still couldn’t get a straight answer out of him. I respect a candidate who answers a question with substance much more than one that’s skilled at craftily evading it.


“The Republicans don’t have anyone else electable to run against Obama”
Well, I think Perry and Santorum are doomed eventually due to lack of substance and polarizing statements, and I haven’t liked either of them from the start, but that doesn’t mean I’m necessarily right or that they can’t somehow pull it off. I really don’t think the statement is believable though, simply because the Democrats don’t really have a lot in Obama either. The shiny rhetoric and marketing of the 08 campaign has lost all luster simply because it was pretty much a one-time-use tagline and when you get down to substance he doesn’t have a whole lot going for him either. I still think his reasons for getting elected (other than a very unfortunate Republican ticket) have nothing to do with his overall personal strengths or platform and that re-election will be much harder for him because of that. Obviously it’s still anyone’s game at this point, and as such it’s shortsighted to rule out the rest of the republican field. Most people weren’t expecting a McCain nomination or an electable Obama at this point in 08.



Of course, I may be totally wrong about all of this, but I think it’s pretty logical to say nothing is near decided yet.




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Filed under 2012 Election, Candidate, Debates, Politics, President, Republican, Romney

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