Tags: Ron Paul

Virginia’s GOP Primary Ballot: Romney, Paul . . . and That’s It.


Looks like my non-write-in options here in the Virginia GOP presidential primary will be limited:

House speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry failed to submit enough valid signatures to qualify for the Virginia primary ballot, state GOP officials said Friday evening and early Saturday. The Republican Party of Virginia announced early Saturday that Gingrich and Perry failed to submit 10,000 signatures of registered voters required to get their names on the ballot for the March 6 primary.

Thus, the Virginia Republican presidential primary ballot will feature . . . Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.

Those signature requirements, by the way, were 10,000 signatures, including 500 in each of the state’s eleven congressional districts. What apparently tripped up Gingrich and Perry was the requirement that petition signers list their addresses.

A Gingrich campaign official prior to the move by the RPV said the problem is how the rules are set up, arguing that the party is, for apparently the first time, cross-checking the addresses that signature-givers gave against the electronic voter database file for accuracies. A name without a proper address match was tossed, the official said.

“What one needs to ask is ‘what percentage of valid, registered voters self-identify a current address that matches voter rolls that the voter might not have updated since 2008?’ Are you 100% certain that your address you and all of your neighbors matches current voter rolls? It strikes me that this is not an accurate means to identify registered voters signing for ANY candidate, not just Gingrich,” the official wrote.

For this reason, the Republican party of Virginia urges candidates to aim for 15,000 signatures, to allow a cushion for those who have not updated the information on the voter rolls.

This morning, Gingrich’s campaign released this response:

Richmond, VA – Newt 2012 released the following statement from Campaign Director Michael Krull regarding ballot qualification in Virginia.

“Only a failed system excludes four out of the six major candidates seeking access to the ballot. Voters deserve the right to vote for any top contender, especially leading candidates. We will work with the Republican Party of Virginia to pursue an aggressive write-in campaign to make sure that all the voters of Virginia are able to vote for the candidate of their choice.”

That darn “failed system”!

UPDATE: And . . . no write-in options, either! Doug Mataconis and Ed Morrissey observe the relevant Virginia law:

At all elections except primary elections it shall be lawful for any voter to vote for any person other than the listed candidates for the office by writing or hand printing the person’s name on the official ballot.

The 2008 Virginia GOP presidential primary counted no write-in votes.

Tags: Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rick Perry , Ron Paul

Yes, Virginia, Your Ballot-Access Rules Are Difficult


In the final Jolt until December 29 . . .

Don’t Forget the Details Like Collecting Signatures, Fellas!

Who will I be voting for in the Virginia Republican primary? Unless I want to write someone in, my menu of options just shrank considerably: “Four Republican presidential candidates – Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Ron Paul — submitted paper work in time to qualify for Virginia’s March 6 primary ballot. No other GOP contender will be on the Virginia ballot. Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Sen. Rick Santorum and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman did not submit signatures with Virginia’s State Board of Elections by today’s 5 p.m. deadline.”

After envisioning me being eviscerated by angry Iowans wielding hog-slaughtering knives, Robert Stacy McCain offers some reporting: “On a conference call with grassroots supporters last week, a top Santorum staffer had discussed ballot-access issues in several states. Virginia was singled out as a tough one, because of the ‘stringent’ factor described in the Politico article: Not just the 10,000-signature minimum, but you have to get 400 signatures in each of 11 congressional districts, and the deadline hit in the middle of the holiday season, at the same time that the campaigns were going all-out in Iowa. The Santorum people on the conference call were asking for Virginia volunteers to help with their ballot-access drive, saying they were hoping for a ‘Christmas miracle.’ Given the low-budget situation with the Santorum campaign, they had no other choice but rely on volunteers. (Romney, of course, could afford to hire professional ballot-access people.)”

Plus, the iconic presidential declaration of, “Let’s see if my credit card still works! . . . It will be really embarrassing if it doesn’t go through.”

Indeed, Mr. President, those credit downgrades are a pain.

Tags: Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rick Perry , Ron Paul , Virginia

Why Must We Care About the Whims of So Few Iowans?


In the next-to-last Morning Jolt before the Christmas holiday, a look at whether Jimmy Carter sent condolences to North Korea, the cost of . . . and this assessment of what’s going on in Iowa, and doubts about why we should care so much about all that:

The Latest From — Yawn! — Iowa

I’ve noticed that in the final days before a caucus or primary, support tends to coalesce around the top two contenders. It’s a bit like Alec Baldwin’s speech from Glengarry Glen Ross: First prize is a Cadillac El Dorado, second prize is a set of steak knives, third prize is you’re fired. We can argue about whether it should be this way (in fact, I’ll argue a bit about this below), but if you’re in third or fourth place in that final week, look out. A certain segment of the voters will decide that it’s more important to help or hurt the frontrunner.

So could next week turn into a showdown between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul? A poll out Wednesday suggested that might be so.

Rasmussen: “The new Rasmussen Reports survey of Iowa caucus participants shows Romney on top with 25% of the vote followed by Paul at 20% and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 17%. Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, both at 10%, are the only other candidates in double-digits. Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann earns six percent (6%), former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman four percent (4%), while one percent (1%) prefer some other candidate and eight percent (8%) are not sure.”

Our old friend Byron York highlights one point, “Results for both Romney and Paul are the highest they have yet reached in Rasmussen polling. But Scott Rasmussen notes a significant difference between supporters of Romney and supporters of Paul. ‘Romney leads, with Gingrich in second, among those who consider themselves Republicans,’ Rasmussen writes. ‘Paul has a wide lead among non-Republicans who are likely to participate in the caucus.’”

But the State Column notes that Paul has been on a hot streak in recent polls: “This is Mr. Paul’s first loss in the Hawkeye State this week. Mr. Paul won Insider Advantage and Public Policy Polling polls of likely Iowa GOP caucusgoers Monday. Mr. Paul also won a ISU/Gazette/KCRG poll of likely Iowa Republican caucusgoers Wednesday. Mr. Paul held a lead of 10 percentage points over Mr. Romney in the ISU/Gazette/KCRG poll and a lead of 6 percentage points over the Bain Capital co-founder in the Insider Advantage poll.”

Jonathan Tobin at Commentary concludes, “it’s clear that Gingrich’s decline is no longer in doubt. Since his campaign was always something of a house of cards, the final two weeks before the caucus may see his support decline even further. That will mean not only an ignominious end for what seemed only a month ago to be a campaign headed to victory in Iowa but the harbinger of a swift end to his hopes elsewhere . . . Paul’s gains will be greeted with dismay by mainstream Republicans who are unhappy about this extremist’s prominence in the party, but if he is taking away votes from conservatives who want anyone but Romney, that will merely strengthen the former Massachusetts governor in the long run because any outcome in Iowa other than a Gingrich win makes his nomination more likely.

“As for Santorum, it appears his months of beating the bushes in Iowa and going to every county in the state to appeal to social conservatives is finally paying off. His support has doubled in the last month and, though it still leaves him with only 10 percent, it is clear that five percent probably came from Gingrich.”

Tom Dougherty writes at Right Sphere, “Where has the Romney move to the top come from? He has been more on message of late and that is resonating with likely caucus goers, but the biggest reason is money. Ad buys totaling $3.1 million has taken its toll on Newt and the rest of the field. Make no mistake, what we’re seeing right now in Iowa is classic politicking where money is king, followed by organization and message. Mitt Romney will continue to have more money, both in his campaign war-chest and through PAC’s that support him, than the rest of the field. His organization is vastly stronger than any other candidate and his message, like it or not, is convincing voters that he is the only GOP candidate that can make Barack Obama a one-term President.”

Having said all that, I dread the news during the rest of this holiday week and the run-up to January 3, with endless breathless Internet and TV updates each time some Floyd Turbo in one of the 99 counties reverses himself and takes back an endorsement and throws his weight behind the newest flavor of the month. Putting aside the quirkiness of Iowa, caucuses are an awful method for picking candidates for a variety of reasons — suddenly the secret ballot doesn’t matter anymore? — but high among them is low participation. The turnout at the 2008 Iowa GOP caucus: 119,000. Turnout at the 2000 caucus: 87,000. Turnout in 1996: About 96,000. Turnout in 1988: About 109,000.

Turnout has never surpassed 23 percent of all eligible Republicans, and even that low threshold was last met back in 1988. The GOP frontrunner is determined by a group roughly the size of the crowd at a University of Michigan football game. If the Iowa caucus turnout is like 2008 (could be higher), it will equal 16 percent of the average population of one congressional district.

At least in primaries, many more Republicans (and in open primaries, independents) get to weigh in on it. In 2008, 234,000 Republicans and independents voted in New Hampshire, and 445,000 Republicans and independents voted in South Carolina.

Tags: Iowa , Mitt Romney , Ron Paul

It’s Been a While Since Mitt or Newt Won a General Election


Recent general-election wins don’t seem to count much in the GOP presidential primary this cycle. Three of the contenders won last year, and while Ron Paul has a shot at winning Iowa, he’s certainly far from being the frontrunner; the other two candidates who won last year, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, will be in considerable trouble with disappointing finishes in Iowa.

It has been roughly a decade since either of the recent frontrunners won a general election, and Romney’s 2002 win in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race was his only general-election win of his career.

Candidates in order of most-recent general election win:

Michele Bachmann: 2010

Ron Paul: 2010

Rick Perry: 2010

Jon Huntsman: 2008

Mitt Romney: 2002

Rick Santorum: 2000

Newt Gingrich: 1998

Tags: Michele Bachmann , Rick Perry , Ron Paul

Look Who Could Come Out of Iowa With a Delegate!


The big headline out of Iowa this morning is that Rasmussen has Mitt Romney jumping ahead of Newt Gingrich, 23 percent to 20 percent, with Ron Paul not far behind at 18 percent. Scott Rasmussen notes that his firm has conducted five polls in Iowa in the past five months . . . with five frontrunners: Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Gingrich, and now Romney.

About half say they could change their mind. Romney’s floor has been 17 percent and his ceiling so far is his current 23 percent.

A couple of interesting notes: Jon Huntsman, who is effectively skipping the state, is at 5 percent in Rasmussen’s latest; that’s 1.5 percent more than Rudy Giuliani finished with in 2008. Ron Paul won two delegates in Iowa with 9.93 percent of the vote, so if Huntsman can maintain his current level, he could achieve the improbable goal of winning a delegate . . . having made one stop in the state for one day so far. A cost-effective approach, no doubt!

Tags: Jon Huntsman , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Ron Paul

Could the First Big Winner of 2012 Be... Ron Paul?


Today’s Morning Jolt looks at the Trump-ed debate, new polls that look good for Republicans, and a sense that perhaps Ron Paul and the Iowa caucuses, like New Jersey and you, are perfect together.

Could the Big Winner of the Iowa Caucuses Be… Ron Paul?

Ron Paul was supposed to do pretty well in Iowa… but this well?

There has been some major movement in the Republican Presidential race in Iowa over the last week, with what was a 9 point lead for Newt Gingrich now all the way down to a single point. Gingrich is at 22% to 21% for Paul with Mitt Romney at 16%, Michele Bachmann at 11%, Rick Perry at 9%, Rick Santorum at 8%, Jon Huntsman at 5%, and Gary Johnson at 1%.

Gingrich has dropped 5 points in the last week and he’s also seen a significant decline in his favorability numbers. Last week he was at +31 (62/31) and he’s now dropped 19 points to +12 (52/40). The attacks on him appear to be taking a heavy toll- his support with Tea Party voters has declined from 35% to 24%.

Paul, meanwhile, has seen a big increase in his popularity from +14 (52/38) to +30 (61/31).  There are a lot of parallels between Paul’s strength in Iowa and Barack Obama’s in 2008- he’s doing well with new voters, young voters, and non-Republican voters.

Readers of this newsletter will recall that I have increasing respect for Ron Paul (particularly his longstanding skepticism of the wisdom of the Federal Reserve) but still find him far from my first choice as a Republican presidential candidate. And while I have no particular beef with Iowans, I find the state and its near-isolationist, agriculture-driven, almost communitarian political culture far from ideal to play such a pivotal role in the nomination process. So in a strange way, seeing Ron Paul win Iowa would be just peachy from where I sit.

At the Daily Caller, Steven Nelson observes, “In early November, pollster John Zogby predicted that if Cain exited the race, his supporters could help buoy Paul’s numbers since so many Cain devotees identified as libertarians. “Anti-government libertarians are running out of candidates to support,” he observed. If Paul does win in Iowa, he could enter the New Hampshire primary with significant momentum.  In most polls in the Granite State, Paul places third behind Gingrich and Romney.”

At Hot Air, Allahpundit sees a formula for chaos – and for some Republicans not that enthused about the current field, that might not be such a bad thing!

I’ll bet Romney’s kicking himself now for not having abandoned Iowa early on. If he had done that, he could have sent his supporters out to caucus for Paul, thereby detonating Newt’s chances; if he tried that now, having competed in earnest in the state, the headlines would be all about Romney’s shockingly poor finish in Iowa, which would actually help Gingrich in New Hampshire even if he finished second to Paul in the caucuses. (On the other hand, per Rasmussen, Paul’s just four points back of Gingrich for second place in New Hampshire too.) Two exit questions for you, then. One: As chances of a Paul upset grow, will Iowa’s Republican leaders swing behind Newt or Mitt? They want the caucuses to remain relevant to choosing the eventual nominee, and if Paul wins, that’ll be two elections in a row where the Iowa winner realistically had no chance. Two: Could a Paul victory achieve a real “none of the above” outcome for the nomination? A brokered convention is unlikely – but, as Sean Trende explains, not impossible if Paul fares well… Ron Paul winning Iowa just might mean the GOP nominating Ryan, Christie, or Daniels. Second look at Ron Paul winning Iowa?

Karl at Patterico’s Pontifications sees this shaking out the same way; Ron Paul will get his moment in the sun (maybe a few weeks, really) and Iowa will be tainted as too quirky and unpredictable to be given such a key role in the selection process: “I would note that we kept seeing polls suggesting Romney is a second-choice vote for many… and yet, voters keep selecting alternate candidates as their first choice, don’t they?  If Paul somehow pulls out a win in Iowa, the real winners may be people tired of the importance pols and pundits have placed on the Iowa caucuses.”

Bachmann’s win in the Ames Straw Poll has certainly proven irrelevant, hasn’t it? Sure, she led through July and most of August, but here is her level of support in the last six polls: 8 percent, 9 percent, 7 percent, 9 percent, 11 percent, 10 percent. She’s not an asterisk, but that’s pretty much an afterthought. And if Ames can become irrelevant… can the Iowa caucuses themselves become virtually irrelevant?

Tags: Iowa Caucuses , Newt Gingrich , Ron Paul

Glenn Beck, Preferring Third-Party Ron Paul Over Gingrich


From the Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt, a look at the latest potential headache for Republicans…

Say What? Glenn Beck Would Prefer a Ron Paul Third Party Bid Over Newt?

Uh-oh: “Glenn Beck said this morning on his radio show that if Newt Gingrich is the nominee and Ron Paul runs third party, he’d consider voting for Ron Paul over Newt Gingrich, and he hates Ron Paul’s policies on the Middle East.”

Bryan Preston is in disbelief: “Beck notes that he hates Paul’s Middle East policies but, gun to his head, he would consider Paul over the “progressives” Romney and Gingrich. There’s much more about Paul to oppose than just his MidEast policies, particularly for someone like Beck who has done so much to promote “9-12″ thinking on terrorism. Ron Paul is a Truther. His 1990s newsletters run straight off into racism and anti-Semitism. The only thing a Paul third-party candidacy would do is re-elect Barack Obama. And if Paul thinks he may have someone of Beck’s influence behind him, he’s that much more likely to bolt once the GOP nomination goes to someone else. Glenn Beck is playing with fire.”

Playing with fire? Well, Beck has been known to pour gasoline every now and then.

The Ace of Spades is pretty furious: “The Rodeo Clown really wants Obama to stay in office, huh? This, of course, will encourage Ron Paul to do what he probably is already inclined to do. Wonderful. Apparently some among us talk a good game about the crucial need of removing Obama from office, but sort of have a kind of Battered Wife Syndrome, and just can’t quit the big lug. Some of us are apparently going to work our very hearts out to make sure the batterer who gives our lives meaning remains president.”

Nice Deb is ready to quit Beck, declaring that he has jumped the shark: “I’ve always been inclined to like the guy – but no more.  No more. I can’t see how any right-minded, self-respecting Republican can  have anything to do with Glenn Beck at this point. He’d throw Israel under the bus over Gingrich?

Unbelievable. I understand that politics gets a little heated at times, and we have our little disagreements over candidates – but this? This is crazy and suicidal. Beck has a large audience, and I hope to heck most of them leave him over this. I can only hope (and pray) that Ron Paul has enough love for his country that he not do this.”

…As for how Newt thinks of Beck’s criticism, he said Monday, “ I don’t know,” Gingrich responded to the charges, laughing. “It depends on what standard you’re using, you know? The fact is that I balanced the budget for four consecutive years. And we did so while cutting taxes and increasing employment so people went back to work, they left welfare, they left food stamps, they left unemployment, they left Medicaid. Who else has a record of that level of achievement? I worked with Reagan in ‘79, ‘80. I worked with Reagan for 8 years in defeating the Soviet Empire. I think those are relatively conservative credentials.”

Tags: Glenn Beck , Newt Gingrich , Ron Paul

Righty Bloggers Want Newt or Perry; Dread Paul and Romney


John Hawkins polled 78 right-of-center bloggers about their preferences in the upcoming Republican presidential primary. While no one should overestimate the influence of bloggers, the news is good for Newt Gingrich, and ominous for Mitt Romney:

If you had to pick a 2012 GOP contender today, which of the following candidates would you select?

7) Jon Huntsman: 2.5% (2 votes)

6) Rick Santorum: 5.1% (4 votes)

5) Michele Bachmann: 6.3% (5 votes)

4) Ron Paul: 7.6% (6 votes)

3) Mitt Romney: 12.7% (10 votes)

2) Rick Perry: 26.6% (21 votes)

1) Newt Gingrich: 39.2% (31 votes)

Which candidate would you LEAST like to see as the GOP nominee in 2012?

7) Rick Santorum: 1.3% (1 votes)

6) Rick Perry: 1.3% (1 votes)

5) Newt Gingrich: 3.8% (3 votes)

4) Jon Huntsman: 9% (7 votes)

3) Michele Bachmann: 11.5% (9 votes)

2) Mitt Romney: 25.6% (20 votes)

1) Ron Paul: 47.4% (37 votes)

I was not one of those 78, by the way.

Tags: Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rick Perry , Ron Paul

During Debate, the GOP Field Contemplates a World of Trouble


The last Morning Jolt of this holiday week is almost entirely debate coverage; here’s the overview . . .

Happy Thanksgiving Travel Headache Day! The Jolt will resume Monday morning.

The Thanksgiving Week Debate: Who Turned Out to Be the Turkey?

So here’s what I liked about last night’s debate: it was pretty serious. In fact, I think I like the stick-to-one-topic debates (the Bloomberg News economic one, last night’s foreign policy one) more than the grab-bag ones, because it seems to give us a slightly more detailed discussion. Having said that, a lot of candidates have perfected the way to handle questions in debates like these, or to at least sound like they know what they’re talking about.

“I’m glad you raised that, Wolf. [X] is a serious issue and represents one of the key foreign policy challenges of time. A lot of people don’t realize that [Memorized Talking Point Number One], or that [Memorized Talking Point Number Two],  or even that [Memorized Talking Point Number Three]. This is an issue that calls for the utmost serious thinking and real leadership, which is something that President Obama has repeatedly failed to provide. Rest assured that as our president, I would not accept this incoherent mush of a policy but make sure that [key American foreign-policy goal] is enacted.”

Left unsaid in the above pleasant blather is any sense of how that key American foreign-policy goal would get enacted.

Still the GOP field managed to garner praise from an unlikely source: The New York Times’s Nate Silver concludes, “I’m not grading on a curve. Honestly think Republican candidates have been pretty sharp tonight. Only Cain really off his game.”

Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer: “This is a good and serious debate, about complicated issues. For all the criticism of politicians, this is a good event.”

Former Bush-Cheney campaign ad man and CNN contributor Alex Castellanos: “Who on this stage can you see debating Obama? Romney, Gingrich, Huntsman and, on outside rail, Bachmann.” Then he meanly snarks, “Could Perry debate Obama? Fear he would be pulling on door marked ‘push’ trying to get to stage.”

University of Virginia professor and human quote machine Larry Sabato: “PROF’S FINAL GRADES: Newt & Paul B+, Mitt & Hunts B, Bach B-, Perry & Santorum C, Cain D. Based on performance not positions.”

Ramesh suspected that some candidates had established their reputations and based their campaign themes on other issues, and were a little uneasy focusing beyond our borders for two hours: “You get the impression these candidates just love getting the debate off foreign policy.”

Todd Herman observed that the GOP is at a disadvantage on some of these issues: “It’s so easy to be a Democrat in debates. Should we secure the border? Nope.”

While border security was discussed pretty thoroughly, a related topic never came up. As my buddy Cam put it, “And another debate ends without a single Fast and Furious question. Thanks for nothing, Blitz.”

Josh Trevino also saw a glaring omission: “Biggest foreign-policy crisis we face right now? The Eurozone collapse. Mentions at this evening’s debate? Zero.”

Tags: Debates , Jon Huntsman , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Ron Paul

In Campaign Merchandise, Cain Slipping Fast, Newt Rising Slowly


According to the folks at CafePress, Herman Cain’s momentum is falling pretty quickly . . . and Newt Gingrich is picking up some steam, albeit much slower than Cain is losing his share of the candidate-paraphernalia market.

CafePress is a website where users can design and produce their own merchandise — t-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers, etc. CafePress touts itself as a “cultural barometer,” and the company has set up an “Election Meter” that tracks merchandise-sales trends for each presidential candidate.

This week, the CafePress Election Meter reports,

Herman Cain-tagged merchandise sales nosedive by 62 percent since October 17 with Cain-related products falling a dramatic 38 percent since last week. Meanwhile, for the first time during this campaign, Newt Gingrich-tagged merchandise sales on CafePress have risen two points, from 4 percent to 6 percent.

Unsurprisingly, it appears that t-shirts and other products tend to reflect the direction seen in opinion polls — as a candidate gets more name recognition and popularity, there is more demand for the paraphernalia.

Notice that Mitt Romney is not actually that high, mired in the single digits. It may be that some candidates’ supporters are buying their bumper stickers and knickknacks through the candidates’ web sites . . . or it might just be that Romney fans aren’t all that enthusiastic about their guy. The consistent high share of Ron Paul in these metrics suggests that it is a useful measuring stick of passion, not necessarily of the GOP primary electorate as a whole.

Rick Perry has seen a free fall in these figures, mirroring his national poll numbers.

Tags: Herman Cain , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Ron Paul

Big Week for Endorsements: Pawlenty, Jindal, Manilow


If you need a laugh at the end of the week, the Morning Jolt will aim to please:

He Can’t Smile Without Him

Yeah, this is one of those headlines I just don’t know what to do with.

Grammy award-winning musician Barry Manilow told The Daily Caller that he agrees with “just about everything” 2012 Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul says, calling him a “solid” contender for the highest office in the land.

“I like him. I like what he says, I do. I like what he says. I think he’s solid,” said Manilow, who confirmed to TheDC in an interview at the Capitol on Thursday that he contributed to Paul’s last campaign for president.

Jon Bershad of Mediaite reacts, “While the words read like a full endorsement, there seemed to be something about Manilow’s delivery that was almost coy. Of course, it could also just be that that’s the only expression his face can make at this point. I kid! I kid! Really though, I think I’m just super bummed Manilow isn’t supporting Ron Paul’s son, thus ruining the opportunity for some perfect ‘Mandy’/'Randy’ jokes.”

Brandon Lancaster is underwhelmed: “Pawlenty endorses Romney, Jindal endorses Perry. Who does Ron Paul get? Barry Manilow.”

Andrew Carden wonders about the still-undecided crooners: “Now that Barry Manilow has endorsed Ron Paul, what’s next? Neil Sedaka for Bachmann? Tom Jones for Roemer? Englebert Humperdinck for Cain?”

ADDENDA: James Taranto sets out to help out AttackWatch, refuting a Washington Post headline: “ATTACK: ‘Democrats turn on Obama.’ THE FACTS: He only has eyes for Michelle.”

Tags: Ron Paul , Something Lighter

Must We Judge Texans by Their Actions in 1988?


Immediately before tonight’s Republican debate on MSNBC, I saw this Ron Paul ad, insinuating that Rick Perry is the inferior choice for Republicans, because he was a Democrat and worked for Al Gore’s presidential campaign in 1988.

Of course, that was 23 years ago. You know what else happened that year? Ron Paul ran for president as a Libertarian. So he may not be the right guy to play the “party loyalty” card.

Tags: Rick Perry , Ron Paul

Top Tier Ron Paul?


Elsewhere in today’s Morning Jolt:

On the Dusty Trail, Republicans Gallup-ing Closer to Obama

Gallup breaks the news to Democrats: “President Barack Obama is closely matched against each of four possible Republican opponents when registered voters are asked whom they would support if the 2012 presidential election were held today. Mitt Romney leads Obama by two percentage points, 48% to 46%, Rick Perry and Obama are tied at 47%, and Obama edges out Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann by two and four points, respectively.”

The Jammie Wearing Fool chuckles at the rapid revision of conventional wisdom: “Please, lamestream media, keep reminding us how Obama is a shoo-in come 2012. He’s already losing to Mitt Romney, is tied with Rick Perry a week after Perry entered the race, and is barely edging Ron Paul. Ron Paul!”

This would be the same Ron Paul who, when discussing the possibility of the Iranian regime developing a nuclear weapon in the last debate, said, “What’s so terribly bad about this?” In other words, the incumbent with big ears is running neck-and-neck with a candidate whose policy towards Tehran is almost literally, “What, me worry?” I find it all Mad, but it does explain why people say this field could use a neu-man.

One Ron Paul fan who thinks this is a big deal is Reason’s Matt Welch: “Those are just amazing numbers, considering where Ron Paul was four years ago. Speaking of which, the chart below is Exhibit A for why I continue to say that it’s WAAAAY too early to be making confident assertions about the very fluid GOP race, and that if you must anoint a ‘top tier’ it had better include a certain doctor-congressman who performed well in 2008 and has only gathered strength since . . . Missed  it by that much, Fred Thompson!”

In 2007, Ron Paul took 9 percent or so in the Ames straw poll; this year he took 27.7 percent.  In terms of raw votes, he more than tripled his supporters in Ames. It’s easy to forget that he finished second in nine GOP state primaries and caucuses in 2008 and third in another 15 states. Stances that seemed obscure in 2008, like doubting the judgment of the Federal Reserve or being skeptical of U.S. military action in the Middle East, are much more prominent in Republican circles this time around.

Paul could easily be “top tier” this cycle. But the space between “top tier” and “frontrunner” or “favorite” remains considerable.

Tags: Barack Obama , Gallup , Ron Paul

Who’s Competing Hard, and Who’s Not, in Ames


In the unlikely chance you’re around Ames, Iowa, today, the Ames Tribune lists the candidate schedules:

9:30 a.m., Thaddeus McCotter, meet-and-greet at the Iowa Botanical Center, 909 Robert D. Ray Drive, Des Moines.

10 a.m., Herman Cain, “Common Sense Solutions” bus tour stop at the Iowa State Fair, 3000 Grand Ave., Des Moines

.10:30 a.m., Herman Cain, Des Moines Register soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, East University Avenue, Des Moines.

11 a.m., Tim Pawlenty, guest pork chef at Iowa Pork Producers Association Booth, Iowa State Fair.

11 a.m., Thaddeus McCotter, Des Moines Register soapbox, Iowa State Fair.

11 a.m., Rick Santorum, Des Moines Register soapbox, Iowa State Fair.

11:30 a.m., Michele Bachmann, town hall meeting, Sports Page Grill, 1802 West Second Ave., Indianola.

Noon, Ron Paul, Des Moines Register soapbox, Iowa State Fair.

12:30 p.m., Herman Cain, “Common Sense Solutions” bus tour stop, Town Square, South Clinton Avenue, Albia.

12:30 p.m., Tim Pawlenty, Des Moines Register soapbox, Iowa State Fair.

2 p.m., Michele Bachmann, “Join me in Ames Tomorrow!” rally, Tulip Town Square, 507 Franklin St., Pella.

2 p.m., Ron Paul, speech, National Foundation for Women Legislators, Des Moines Marriot Downtown, 700 Grand Ave., Des Moines.

2:30 p.m., Tim Pawlenty, Republican Party of Iowa booth, Iowa State Fair.

3 p.m., Herman Cain, “Common Sense Solutions” bus tour stop, 101 South Main St., Sigourney.

3:30 p.m., Ron Paul, meet and greet, Republican Party of Iowa booth, Iowa State Fair.

4 p.m., Michele Bachmann, Des Moines Register soapbox, Iowa State Fair.

4:30 p.m., Michele Bachmann, welcome home reception, Iowa Living History Farms, Urbandale.

5:30 p.m., Tim Pawlenty, College Students for Pawlenty pizza party, Iowa State University, Ames.

7 p.m., Michele Bachmann, Dallas County fundraising dinner, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, 150 S. Jordan Creek Parkway, West Des Moines.

8:30 p.m., Michele Bachmann, Straw Poll tailgate party, Ames.

Notice that for all extents and purposes, the only candidates who are really competing in Ames are Bachmann, Pawlenty, Paul, Cain, McCotter and Santorum. If any of them finish behind the non-competitors – Romney, Huntsman, Gingirch, and let’s throw in Perry and Palin – they’ll really have to evaluate whether they should remain in the race. I might make an exception for McCotter since he wasn’t allowed into last night’s Fox News debate, an omission that I felt was undeserved.

Tags: Herman Cain , Michele Bachmann , Rick Santorum , Ron Paul , Thad McCotter , Tim Pawlenty

Something For Everyone to Love and Hate Last Night


A whole smorgasbord of debate reactions in today’s Morning Jolt, the last for a week:

Chuck Todd said the “cheap cliché” will be that “Rick Perry won the debate.” Stephen Hayes retorted, “Sometimes clichés are true.”

Michele Bachmann:

Emily Zanotti: “Tim Pawlenty believes that God has blessed America. Unless you’re Michele Bachmann. Then, He’s totally not into you.”

Mitt Romney:

Andrea Tarantos: “No clear winner tonight but Romney wins in the sense he escapes unscathed, which is goal as frontrunner. Until Sat, that is.”

Political Math: “Romney has retired to his cigar room to stroke his cat and growl, ‘Excellent. As I have planned.’”

Mark Ambinder: “Good night for Gingrich, Romney, Paul and Santorum. Don’t think Ames calculus changes. Pawlenty and Bachmann fought to a draw.”

J. P. Freire: “Mitt says he believes in people who believe in freedom, though I assume he doesn’t mean freedom from the individual mandate.”

Tim Pawlenty:

Pawlenty had this wonderful joke that began with him saying that if anyone could show a serious reform plan for Social Security, or Medicare, or Medicaid from Barack Obama, he would cook them dinner. (laughter) “Or mow their lawn.” (more laughter) “But if Mitt can find it, I have to limit it to one acre.”


Aw, governor.

David Freddoso: “Pawlenty had the debate performance he needed….in the last debate. Probably not enough now.”

Jonah: “If you hit mute, Tim Pawlenty looks like he’s explaining to a 3rd grader why he has to spend a week in detention.”

Melissa Clouthier: “Pawlenty is over…  I really thought Bachmann and Pawlenty hurt each other.”

Ron Paul:

One of the more interesting topics was Iran, its nuclear program, intelligence-gathering and a dangerous world. Ron Paul played a central role.

Moe Lane: “Did Tim Pawlenty just advocate Mossad’s assassination campaign of Iranian nuclear scientists? I mean, YES, of course, but damn.”

Rick Klein of ABC News: “Ron Paul is ready to “tolerate” Iran getting a nuclear weapon. This is why, if he wins the straw poll, the GOP has a little problem.”

NRO’s Dan Foster summarizes Ron Paul’s view, “nuclear theocracy is okay because the CIA was overenthusiastic in 1953.”

There is increasing consensus that Paul is likely to win Saturday’s straw poll.

Rick Santorum:

Alex Burns of Politico: “Santorum: ‘Iran is not Iceland.’ Politifact ruling: mostly true.”

Jon Huntsman:

Greg Gutfeld pays tribute to Jon Huntsman’s younger days in music: “Huntsman is running on his record. Which is, his record.”

Jonah: “Huntsman looks like he’s waging an epic battle with acid reflux.”

Bethany Shondark: “I like the hope vs. solutions line from Huntsman. First thing about these closing statements that I didn’t hate.”

Tags: Debates , Jon Huntsman , Mitt Romney , Ron Paul , Tim Pawlenty

A Debate to Remember? Eh, Probably Not.


In the last Morning Jolt of the week, a quick roundup of debate reactions:

The First Debate, the GOP’s Version of Preseason Football

“Something very special happened this evening,” declared Fox News’s Wizard of the Dial-Based Instant Polls, Frank Luntz, discussing the reaction to former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain in his focus group. Thursday night was the first GOP debate — but with a limited lineup of Herman Cain, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, and Rick Santorum.

Like with the Hall of Fame Game that kicks off the NFL season, most of the big-name starters remained on the bench: No appearance by Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, or Mitch Daniels. Actually, perhaps we should handle all future debates like preseason football; give the big names like Palin and Romney and Huckabee a series of questions and then let them stand on the sidelines while the rising stars get to play for roster spots. Eh, that metaphor breaks down somewhere.

Erick Erickson has a gripe with the Luntz panel: “OK, I bought the Luntz panel saying Cain came in first. Now I question their mental competence saying Santorum came in second.”

Guy Benson: “If I *had* to pick a winner tonight, it’s Pawlenty. Very strong out of the gate. Seemed solid, pretty polished, & credible.”

Jedediah Bila: “Winner in my opinion tonight: Herman Cain. Why? Authenticity. It comes through. Would’ve liked more specifics from him on foreign policy issues.”

John Podhoretz: “The praise for Herman Cain is basically a choice of ‘none of the above.’ I’m somewhat impressed by Pawlenty, but he needs to lose the spray-on tan.”

The newly-wed Mary Katharine Ham (shouldn’t she be on her honeymoon?) isn’t surprised. “Anyone surprised focus group is saying Cain won: If you’re funny, you win. If you’re charming, you win. Herman Cain both. Charisma matters . . . Cain’s take on political experience, ‘How’s that workin’ for ya?’ is the perfect encapsulation of the current feeling for many voters.” If I remember correctly, Obama offered a similar argument in 2008, citing Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld as the embodiment of experienced Washington insiders to Democratic primary voters.

Phil Klein scores it completely differently: “I thought Santorum helped himself the most tonight. Ron Paul came off better than usual. Everyone else was sort of par.”

Over in the Corner, Kyle Peterson was on-scene and offers a summary.

Tags: Herman Cain , Rick Santorum , Ron Paul , Tim Pawlenty

Tim Pawlenty to Talk Public-Sector Unions at Tea Party Summit


Wisconsin’s teachers, the runaway state lawmakers, the DNC, and President Obama have all ensured that a major issue in the 2012 GOP primary will be reining in runaway expenses for public-sector unions.

Tim Pawlenty will headline an inaugural policy summit being put on by one of the largest national tea party groups in the U.S.

Tea Party Patriots announced Friday morning that the former Minnesota governor and probable 2012 GOP presidential candidate will be the keynote speaker at their event, titled “American Policy Summit — Pathways to Liberty,” which is being held February 25-27 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and businessman and radio talk-show host Herman Cain — who are also considering bids for the White House — are also speaking at the event, which organizers say will bring tea party supporters and public policy analysts together for briefings, discussions and policy debates. The summit is being held as tea party activists mark the second anniversary of their movement’s birth.

“Governor Pawlenty is looking forward to sharing his lessons learned from winning tough battles with the liberals and public employees’ unions in Minnesota,” Pawlenty adviser and spokesman Alex Conant tells CNN. “This tea party group is a great champion for tax and spending cuts — something Governor Pawlenty feels strongly about.”

Tags: Herman Cain , Ron Paul , Tim Pawlenty

Donald Trump, Milking His Fight With Ron Paul Another Day


Who is advising Donald Trump that the way to win the GOP nomination in 2012 is to get into back-and-forths with Ron Paul about his electability?



During a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday, Trump said the Texas Republican was an “unelectable” candidate for president. In an interview on CNN’s “American Morning” Monday, Paul countered that he has won 11 elections.

“I don’t know how many elections he’s (Trump) won so far himself,” Paul said.

Monday on CNN Trump countered that he’s never won an election because he has never run.

“But I’ve employed thousands and thousands of people,” Trump said. “I’ve made billions of dollars, which if I ever decided to run, which is a possibility frankly, I would make lots of money for the American people.”

… If Trump were to win the election in 2012, he said his first action would be imposing a 25 percent tax on Chinese products to make sure the Chinese government is “treating us fairly.”

“I’ve never been elected because I’ve never run in an election and maybe I wouldn’t do well and maybe I would,” Trump said. “But I can tell you one thing, if I ever did get elected this country would be respected again.”

Dear Ron Paul fans: We’ve had our differences in the past. But in the battle against Donald Trump, I stand with you.

Paul may have a Himalaya-like uphill climb in any 2012 bid, but the guy who’s been doing reality shows with Rod Blagojevich and Oreo commercials with the Manning brothers really isn’t the guy to be playing the ‘who’s more electable’ card.

Tags: Donald Trump , Ron Paul

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree, But Not That Close, Either


The first, and least surprising, win of the night is Rand Paul. “Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson has conceded Kentucky’s Republican Senate primary to Rand Paul.”

I noted yesterday that Rand Paul is not his father, or at least not quite his father, in terms of foreign policy. If Rand Paul is an isolationist, or a skeptic of current tactics in the war on terror, he wisely focuses on the elements of nation-building most likely to furrow the brow of the average voter. His tone is measured, almost casual. His style wears easier that his father’s strident combativeness.

I’d also note that while a lot of hawkish conservatives recoiled at the thought of Ron Paul as commander-in-chief, the Paul-ian vision is not so unusual or outlandish that it doesn’t deserve a hearing in the halls of Congress. Even if the Ronpaulians drove me batty during the days of the 2008 campaign, they deserve a seat at the table and a chance to make their case.

Also note that for a fringe candidate, Rand Paul has a strange habit of beating all Democrats in head-to-head matchups

Tags: Rand Paul , Ron Paul

Rand Paul, Not Quite His Father on Foreign Policy


Looking ahead to tomorrow’s Kentucky GOP Senate primary, Patrick Ruffini asks, “Does Rand Paul’s success mean that national security is no longer a voting issue for the GOP primary base?”

If Rand Paul is in agreement with his father on foreign-policy issues, he obscures it well. Back in February, the Paul father-and-son duo did an interview with Wolf Blitzer, and the CNN host fished for a contradiction in their foreign-policy views. But if the younger Paul has an isolationist streak, it manifests itself in a much more soft-spoken skepticism of particular tactics, expressed in a way that would leave your average hawk nodding:

The most important thing that the federal government does is take care of our national security, bar none . . . It’s something that we can’t privatize, it’s something that we need the national government to do . . . It’s not enough to just say our national security is threatened, we need to have a full-scale debate on when our national security is threatened . . . The actual decision on troop deployment is the prerogative of the commander-in-chief and not necessarily of Congress . . . In the overall picture, we have to ask the important questions. For example, it troubles me and many veterans that I talk to that we’re paying the Taliban. We have a works program for the Taliban. We pay them $8,000 per fighter not to fight. We pay the Taliban to take their weapons back from them, and I had a Marine tell me recently, here in Kentucky tell me, he says, “Look, I’m a Marine, I’m trained to take weapons from our enemies, I’m not trained to pay for them.”

When discussing national defense, Paul avoids the now-moot question whether we should have invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and hits red-meat points: a moratorium on visas from about ten rogue nations, support for military tribunals at GITMO, and a preference for congressional declaration of war.

Paul’s campaign manager indicated he’s not for immediately pulling out all of the troops of either Iraq or Afghanistan: “He is not for wholesale withdrawal. Rand has advocated better defining the mission, but now that we’re there we have to win.”

I suspect that if Rand Paul had articulated his doubts about either mission in his father’s unparalleled blunt style, Trey Grayson might have been more able to paint him as out of the GOP mainstream. But the younger Paul sounds like a cautious and wary skeptic, not a forthright isolationist.

Tags: Rand Paul , Ron Paul


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