Tags: Rick Perry

SEE: Rick Perry’s Mug Shot


While prominent liberals including ThinkProgress, the New York Times editorial board, Jonathan Chait, David Axelrod, Timothy Noah, and others have all joined in giving a thumbs-down to the indictment of Texas Governor Rick Perry, the Travis County District Attorney’s office seems determined to continue its pursuit of Perry. As a result, Perry turned himself in Tuesday and got photographed. 

The good news is that the 2012 presidential candidate and 2016 hopeful remembered a simple but rarely observed rule for preserving one’s dignity while in the clink: ALWAYS SMILE FOR YOUR MUG SHOT!

Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, has overseen an unusually robust era of prosperity and progress in the Lone Star State, but he has been indicted on abuse of power charges for withholding funds from the Travis County office after District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg refused to resign after video surfaced of her going on a rampage against deputies and being restrained during a drunk-driving arrest. Lehmberg, to put it mildly, does not believe in putting her best face forward while in police custody:

Tags: Rick Perry

Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink, Drive, and Remain Prosecutors


From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink, Drive, and Remain in a Prosecutor’s Office

From Right Now Strategies:

Here’s the gist:

A day after a grand jury indicted him on two felony charges, a defiant Rick Perry on Saturday called the prosecution of his conduct a “farce” and “abuse of power.”

The governor promised to fight the charges and concluded brief remarks by bluntly saying, “I intend to win.”

During a news conference at the Capitol broadcast live on national TV, Perry blamed partisan politics for the indictment and focused, in part, on the behavior of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, whose drunken driving arrest last year prompted him to seek her resignation.

“We don’t settle political differences with indictments in this country,” Perry said.

Perry faces charges of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant, which together carry maximum sentences of 109 years in prison and $20,000 in fines. He has not yet turned himself in at the Travis County Jail but is expected to do so in the next several days, when he will be fingerprinted and photographed.

Travis County grand jurors delivered the indictment 14 months after Perry said he would withhold a $7.5 million, two-year state allotment to Lehmberg’s office unless she stepped down.

Lehmberg did not resign, and Perry carried out that threat, saying he would not grant the appropriation because Lehmberg had lost the public’s confidence with her DWI arrest. Her blood alcohol level was 0.239, and while in jail, the district attorney was belligerent.

Perry’s argument: “I very clearly, I very publicly said that as long as that individual was going to be running that agency — I had lost confidence in her, the public had lost confidence in her,” Perry said. “I did what every governor has done for decades, which is make a decision about whether it was a proper use of state money to go to that agency. And I vetoed it. That’s what the rule of law is really about, Shannon. And I stood up for the rule of law in the state of Texas. And if I had to do it again I would make exactly the same decision.”

Quite a few folks on the Left don’t think there’s a legitimate criminal case here, and that we’re witnessing a reckless attempt to paint routine acts of politics – i.e., vetoing a budget as leverage – represents corruption.

New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait:

The conventions of reporting —  which treat the fact of an indictment as the primary news, and its merit as a secondary analytic question —  make it difficult for people reading the news to grasp just how farfetched this indictment is…

The prosecutors claim that, while vetoing the bill may be an official action, threatening a veto is not. Of course the threat of the veto is an integral part of its function. The legislature can hardly negotiate with the governor if he won’t tell them in advance what he plans to veto. This is why, when you say the word “veto,” the next word that springs to mind is “threat.” That’s how vetoes work.

The theory behind the indictment is flexible enough that almost any kind of political conflict could be defined as a “misuse” of power or “coercion” of one’s opponents. To describe the indictment as “frivolous” gives it far more credence than it deserves.

Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod: “Unless he was demonstrably trying to scrap the ethics unit for other than his stated reason, Perry indictment seems pretty sketchy.”

Alan Dershowitz: “ ‘This is another example of the criminalization of party differences, said Dershowitz, a prominent scholar on United States constitutional law and criminal law who writes the “Legally Speaking” column for Newsmax. ‘This idea of an indictment is an extremely dangerous trend in America, whether directed at [former House Majority Leader] Tom DeLay or [former President] Bill Clinton.’”

Remember Tom DeLay? Another prominent Republican who was charged with iffy crimes by an outspoken prosecutor. DeLay was indicted in 2005. Then there were literally years of delays and legal efforts to get the charges dismissed. The jury reached its verdict in 2010. DeLay was convicted of one charge of money laundering and one charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering… and then in 2013, the convictions were overturned by the Texas Court of Appeals. So we may be watching the first shots of a legal battle that will go on for years, maybe a nearly a decade.

There’s been a lot of buzz that this could actually rebound to Perry’s benefit, if he intends to run for president in 2016. He’ll be able to point to this as an example of the politicization of law enforcement and, in related controversies, the U.S. Department of Justice.

Or… in light of the lengthy but fruitless “John Doe investigation” of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, this appears to be the progressives’ newest form of “lawfare”: take routine activities of governors and insist, before a grand jury, that they are crimes. Sometimes, like in the case of Chris Christie, a GOP governor or his staff will give his opponents a scandalous opportunity. But even if the charges are baseless, the headlines of “GOVERNOR INDICTED” inflicts the political damage the progressives seek.

Tags: Rick Perry , Scandals , Democrats , Laws

Rick Perry on Drunk D.A.: ‘If I Had to Do it Again, I Would Make Exactly the Same Decision’


Texas governor Rick Perry came out swinging Sunday against felony abuse-of-power charges that could put him in prison for 100 years.

Speaking with Fox News Sunday host Shannon Bream, Perry strongly defended his decision to withhold $7.5 million in state funds from the office of Travis County district attorney Rosemary Lehmberg after Lehmberg, whose drunken antics following a DUI arrest had been featured in a public video, refused to step down.

A grand jury in heavily Democratic Austin last week charged Perry, a Republican who ran for president in 2012 and remains a 2016 presidential prospect, with abuse of his office. The charges have been met with pans across the political spectrum, however, with noted Perry opponents including Obama administration advisor David Axelrod, liberal columnist Tim Noah, and even ThinkProgress all voicing skepticism about the charges. Texas has a history of throwing heavy charges at prominent Republicans only to see those cases subsequently fall apart. Former congressman Tom DeLay was convicted of money laundering and conspiracy in 2010 but the conviction was overturned on appeal. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison was charged in 1994 with misconduct related to her previous role as state treasurer, but the case was thrown out of court.

Perry has hit back by noting Lehmberg’s “abusiveness,” attacks on police, and need to be restrained during her time in the drunk tank.

“I very clearly, I very publicly said that as long as that individual was going to be running that agency — I had lost confidence in her, the public had lost confidence in her,” Perry said. “I did what every governor has done for decades, which is make a decision about whether it was a proper use of state money to go to that agency. And I vetoed it. That’s what the rule of law is really about, Shannon. And I stood up for the rule of law in the state of Texas. And if I had to do it again I would make exactly the same decision.”

Lehmberg’s drunk-driving arrest made headlines around Texas, and video of her behavior while being held has gotten national attention following the Perry indictment.

Tags: Rick Perry , Sunday Shows August 17 2014

Rick Perry Doesn’t Believe Obama ‘Particularly Cares Whether Border Is Secure’


Texas governor Rick Perry said on Sunday that Obama-administration immigration authorities are “either inept or don’t care” about the crisis of unaccompanied minor illegal immigrants.

In a combative exchange with host Martha Raddatz on ABC’s This Week, Perry said border guards are stretched too thin in the Lone Star State, and he cited the administration’s “catch-and-release policies” for driving a nearly threefold increase in the number of Central American children arriving at the border without adult guardians.

“What has to be addressed is the security of the border,” Perry said. “You know that; I know that; the president of the United States knows that. I don’t believe he particularly cares whether or not the border of the United States is secure. And that’s the reason there’s been this lack of effort, this lack of focus, this lack of resources.”

Raddatz argued that President Obama is “telling people not to come,” and she blamed a 2008 law signed by former president George W. Bush for the skyrocketing rate of illegal immigration by Central American minors in the last two years. That law governs treatment of illegal arrivals from non-contiguous countries.

“The president has sent powerful messages, time after time, by his policies, by nuances, that it is okay to come to the United States, and you can come across and you will be accepted in open arms,” Perry, a 2012 Republican presidential candidate and potential 2016 hopeful, responded.

Raddatz then accused Perry of positing a “conspiracy” to bring illegals into the United States, but Perry stood his ground, pointing out that he has been warning the administration since 2010 about the potential for a surge and sent Obama a letter about the specific issue of unaccompanied minors in May 2012 — to which the administration never responded.

“I have to believe, that when you do not respond in any way, that you are either inept or you have some ulterior motive that you’re functioning from,” Perry said.

Tags: Illegal Immigration , Texas , Rick Perry , Sunday Shows July 6 2014

Hey, Jeb, How About an ‘Act of Love’ for the Grassroots?


From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Hey, Jeb, How About an ‘Act of Love’ for Those Who Disagree With You?

The advantages of a Jeb Bush presidential bid are obvious: “As a presidential candidate, Bush would bring a lot to the table, starting with two terms as a popular, tax-cutting governor, a reputation as a national leader on education reform and school choice, and his family’s extensive and deep-pocketed fundraising network.”

But there are these nagging indicators that he’s either not in touch with the mood of the conservative grassroots, or he’s willfully at odds with the conservative grassroots, and confident he can dissuade the grassroots of their opinion. (See his increasingly fervent defense of Common Core, which infuriates parents on the Right more than any other topic besides Obamacare.) And now we’re on to illegal immigration:

“I’m going to say this and it will be on tape and so be it,” Bush said in an interview with Fox News host Shannon Bream in an event at the Texas presidential library of his father, George H. W. Bush.

“The way I look at this is someone who comes to our country because they couldn’t come legally . . . and they crossed the border because they had no other means to work, to be able to provide for their family, yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony.

“It’s an act of love, it’s an act of commitment to your family.”

Bush, 61, added: “I honestly think that that is a different kind of crime. There should be a price paid, but it shouldn’t rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families.”

What he’s saying is true in some cases . . . and not true in other cases. Sure, some illegal immigrants come here, hoping to make money to provide for their families. But some don’t. I had to hunt to find a decent survey of illegal immigrants, asking why they came to the United States. A not-reassuring conclusion:

Ryo found that while cost-benefit calculations such as perceptions of job availability in Mexico and dangers of crossing the border do play a significant role in Mexicans’ decisions about whether to enter the US illegally, non-economic factors matter as well.

“For example, perceptions about the legitimacy of US legal authority, the morality of violating US immigration laws, and social norms on illegal border crossings are significantly related to people’s intentions to migrate illegally,” she says . . . 

She also found that the odds of intending to migrate illegally were more than doubled for individuals who believed that Mexicans have a right to be in the United States without the US government’s permission.

Interestingly, the vast majority — 78 percent — of people says it is not okay to disobey the law when one disagreed with it. However, 55 percent says that disobeying the law is sometimes justified.

In short, a significant number of Mexicans do not believe that the United States has the moral or legal authority to keep them out. Their concept of the border is fundamentally different from how it is defined under our laws.

Back to Jeb’s “act of love” comment — you know what that sounds like? Flash back about two and a half years, to another governor who was considered a strong contender for the Republican presidential nomination: “If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they’ve been brought there by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart.”

Jeb’s going to have to be very careful on this, because Perry’s comment was one of the first major missteps of a doomed campaign. A Republican front-runner cannot echo the narrative of the Democrat-Media Complex, suggesting that opposition to illegal immigration is driven by callous, selfish, xenophobic white hicks who are afraid of excessively spicy salsa.

“It’s an act of love”? Okay. Judges and juries are allowed to consider motive when a person is accused of a crime and, once convicted, allowed to consider motive when sentencing. But a noble motive doesn’t invalidate the crime. If you shoplift and say you’re just trying to provide for your family, the store may still press charges. If you rob a bank and say you wanted to give some of the money to charity, you don’t get off the hook.

I’m among those who conclude that a safer, better America does not necessarily require the deportation of every single Manuel the Busboy who entered the country illegally. Obviously, everyone who’s entered the country and committed additional crimes needs to get tossed out ASAP; anyone who wants to stay has to pay some sort of significant penalty — fines, national service, etc.

For what it’s worth, the U.S. Senate has a different idea of what constitutes “additional crimes”:

The Senate immigration bill as it currently stands will allow an illegal alien with two convictions “for driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated” to be granted legal status in this country.

But it’s far from a nutty perspective to think, and contend, everybody who entered illegally should be deported — i.e., this country should enforce its laws as they’re written.

I understand why Democrats and progressives would insist that every immigration restrictionist and anti-amnesty type is driven by racism and xenophobia; they’re trying to discourage anyone from ever expressing that viewpoint in public. But why would a Rick Perry or Jeb Bush make comments that concur with that demonization of their opponents?

Tags: Jeb Bush , Illegal Immigration , Rick Perry

Rick Perry, Intellectual


In the process of announcing himself as a serious candidate for the presidency in 2016, Texas governor Rick Perry Friday showed America a new persona that is both more laid back and more souped up than prior Perrys.

Perry, seen above rapidly drawing a crowd to the National Review booth at the Conservative Political Action Conference, needed to his outdistance the legendarily unready impression he gave to voters in the 2012 Republican presidential primaries. That outing is now remembered for a debate flub during which he was unable to name the three federal departments he intended to cut. As seen in this old video, Perry’s memory failed him despite a friendly assist from then-Representative Ron Paul of Texas, who deftly played Karl Malden to Perry’s George C. Scott.

Perry’s roof-raising speech Friday, which was festooned with ten-dollar words and an emphasis on state governance as a mechanism for crowd-sourcing solutions, broke through in part because it came in a new package: Perry the collected-but-not-cool thinking man, wearing a muted tie, a bespectacled elder statesman whose long tenure as chief executive of the Lone Star state bestowed wisdom on him while showering prosperity on Texans.

Here’s the visual package in a blowup of the above picture, from Perry’s appearance with National Review’s Jim Geraghty. You can’t see Perry’s sensible shoes, but he’s working a subdued, knees-together posture, modestly leaning in to his interlocutor, fully committed to the pursuit of better solutions.

Bias confession: This reporter’s heart is with Cruz and/or Paul, but the Republicans have a very deep bench of governors. America’s most recent experiment with electing a senator to the White House has now been exposed as a folly the nation was smart to suppress during the preceding four decades. The 2016 candidate will be a governor. Perry brought a new self to CPAC, and his idea-guy act proved a better vehicle to move the crowd than his previous instantiation as a big Texan in cowboy boots.

Tags: Rick Perry , CPAC , 2016

Rick Perry on the Effort to Turn Texas Blue


One of the rock stars of CPAC is Texas governor Rick Perry, who stopped by to talk about Texas’s perhaps-unexpected reforms to the state criminal-justice system, his welcome at the Davos Summit earlier this year, Democrats efforts to “turn Texas blue,” and what he wants to do after his term ends.

As he entered and left, fans with cameras and phones swarmed around Perry; interviewing him at CPAC must be what it’s like to hang around with a Kardashian.

Tags: Rick Perry

Getting Out the Vote . . . Everywhere


The Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt features a brief look at the Inauguration hoopla, some ominous developments in Mali and Algeria in the war on terror, and then this continuing discussion of how Republicans ought to tinker with new get-out-the-vote ideas and efforts in the races of 2013:

The Importance of Getting Out the Vote in Safe Precincts

The opening section of yesterday’s Jolt was urging Republicans to experiment with getting out the vote in the special elections coming up this year; with most of the races in districts that lean heavily to one party or the other, it’s unlikely any botched experiment would blow a 50-50 race. (If you didn’t receive it, you can read it on Campaign Spot here.)

In response, Morning Jolt reader John E. wrote in:

Appreciated your article today. It brought to mind something I observed in the Presidential election in my neck of the woods. My “neck of the woods” is a county in the Alabama-like Florida Panhandle. John McCain took 72% here and Mitt Romney got 75%. And yet, in 2012, the Obama people had an office in our small town (I think it was donated space), and there was an identifiable presence with signs, bumper stickers and such. In other words, the Obama supporters did not throw up their hands and ignore this area, even though they knew it was hopeless here. Still, their efforts may have squeezed out a few more votes for their candidate. And if you multiply that over several counties in Dixie-ish north Florida, well, you know the state was close and every vote counted.

Indeed; 74,309 votes, or one percentage point, in Florida.

One of the hot political books of last year was Sasha Issenberg’s The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns. The book alternated between fascinating anecdotes and a tough slog for me, as if Issenberg really wanted to tell a dramatic story about a punch of political scientists reviewing tables of data and trying to find differences of one or two percent in turnout. But just as if you’re rolling your eyes at another description of a data-crunching poli-sci geek as some convention-defying upstart, rebelling against the system as defiantly as Marlon Brando in The Wild One, you come across some bit of campaign experimentation that you think future campaigns ought to study.

In a chapter about Rick Perry’s 2006 gubernatorial campaign, Issenberg writes that the campaign agreed to randomize the schedule of visits, to see if there was some measurable impact from each campaign stop. They began the campaign at Texas Tech’s pavilion in Lubbock and then moved on to Addison outside Dallas, where he visited a Texas Instruments plant under construction, then on to Tyler and Beaumont, and so on.

When [data-researching academic and Perry campaign consultant Daron] Shaw reviewed the local media, he saw that Perry’s physical presence had a remarkable ability to drive coverage. In the twelve media markets Perry visited, he earned a report on the evening TV news in nine of them and a story in the next morning’s newspaper in all twelve. And unlike the stories produced by the Austin bureaus of the big Texas papers, which Perry’s aides often felt were unfair to their boss, the local coverage of his trips was almost exclusively positive. When Shaw coded the stories in all twelve markets on a five point scale on how good they made Perry look, they found that the campaign stop warmed the tone of the coverage in all but one. In the eight control markets Perry didn’t visit, the governor was barely covered in the media during the same period.

Shaw could tell that Perry was boosted by the warm reception he got on the road. Contributions went up in the cities that he visited, along with the number of new volunteers. Across the twelve markets, Perry’s approval rating went up from 41 to 46 percent, with his unfavorable number dropping slightly. While Perry gained four points in the four-way horse race, his lead over Chris Bell, the likely Democratic nominee, remained steady, though, each of them appearing to benefit from voters abandoning the two independent candidates. Shaw assumed, sensibly, that this meant that Perry’s presence energized not only Republicans but Democrats, too. When Shaw went back the following week, however, Perry’s lead hadn’t evaporated the way the TV-aided boost had. He held on to four points he had gained.

Obviously, an incumbent governor making a campaign stop is going to attract more attention than a little-known House candidate. But the observation that television advertising’s impact tends to dissipate quickly makes sense, and raises the question if all of that television advertising in spring and summer did much good for the campaigns last year.

If I were a Republican running in Illinois’s second congressional district, South Carolina’s first district, or Missouri’s eighth district in the coming months, I would have campaign “offices” — no matter the size, no matter the demographics of the surrounding neighborhood — in as many communities as possible, and I’d be attending every event down to the opening of an envelope, all over the district. (First step: get the candidate to attend every branch-office opening and invite the local media, all the way down to the local Patch reporters. And order a pizza or two.)

Tags: Campaign Advertising , Campaigns , Florida , Rick Perry , Texas

Gingrich-Perry: A Winning Ticket? Or Inspired Buddy Cop Movie?


The first Morning Jolt of the week looks at the delegate count, a former Florida congressman who’s a menace on the roads of his home state, and then this intriguing rumor breaking late Sunday:

 Newt-Perry 2012: One Won’t Stop Talking. One Always Felt Actions Spoke Louder.

When you’ve only won two of the first twenty-six contests, you don’t have many cards left to play. Naming a running mate may be one of the better cards remaining in Newt Gingrich’s hand. Fox News’ Ed Henry passes along word from his colleague, ‘Campaign Carl’:

Sources close to Gingrich camp tell Fox’s Carl Cameron they’re holding preliminary conversations w/Rick Perry folks about Newt-Perry ticket. Idea is Gingrich camp thinks announcing Newt-Perry ticket well before Tampa will help Gingrich get evangelicals now … We’ll see. As Carl Cameron notes: Newt floating Perry as running mate 2 days before Alabama, Mississippi could energize conservatives or turn them off. A senior aide to Rick Santorum called Gingrich-Perry trial balloon a desperate Hail Mary to create buzz ahead of Alabama & Mississippi.

Late Sunday night, the denials arose:

But Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond said no one in the campaign has reached out to Perry’s camp about a shared ticket.

“While there’s certainly a lot of people who are great admirers of Rick Perry on our campaign. whether or not the campaign has gone as far as to reach out to Governor Perry about a possible VP ticket, any sort of talks along those lines would be premature — it would be something more appropriate for later on in the process,” Hammond told CBS News.

Catherine Frazier, a spokesman for Perry, also called the speculation “humbling but premature.”

Of course, the pick would create as many problems as it solves. For starters, one has to wonder how comfortable Perry would be in a supporting role. Obviously, Perry demonstrated limited appeal on the campaign trail in his own bid, even in states where one might have expected him to catch fire, like South Carolina.

The argument that it would help Newt win two must-win primary states seems quite typical of the candidate: making one of his most important decisions based upon a short-term political need.

Should the Republican presidential candidate really be all that worried about nailing down evangelicals? (Yes, I realize there’s increasing evidence that Mitt Romney has the same problem.) In a field of potential running mates that includes a stellar bench like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, the GOP would end up with… Perry?

And while the concept of geographic diversity on the ticket is overstated, if not overrated… a Georgian and a Texan? Really?

What’s Perry doing these days?

At an intimate event held at CNN’s Grill in downtown Austin, Perry answered questions about his run as a Republican candidate. But being that is was a technology and interactive show, he kicked off the interview talking about his Twitter use.

“In 2009, when we were discussing our campaign, we had heard there was this new thing they are going to be doing called Twitter. We picked up on it, and I thought it was highly successful,” he said. Perry himself tweets from his account and was the only candidate to do so.

“Thank you for reminding me when I misspell something,” he told his followers. Perry noted that he liked to use the service to “bypass the mainstream media” and the fact that “everyone becomes a reporter.” Perry continued to speak candidly on the subject of his loss and the current candidates.

“We still have a lot of time to go,” Perry said when asked who he thought would be the Republican nominee. He did, however, say that Newt Gingrich is still in the fight. Perry endorsed Gingrich when he ended his campaign in January. Perry also addressed Texas as a hub for technology.

Earlier on Friday, he announced that Apple would be creating a $304 million campus in Austin that would make available more than 3,600 jobs. Despite having his arm in a sling because of recent surgery on his right clavicle, Perry was upbeat and humorous. He closed the event by saying that if he were to run in 2016 he would “work on some debate skills and always remember the third thing.”

If indeed Rick Perry has interest in running for president again in the future… will his odds in a future bid be better or worse if he accepts an offer to be Gingrich’s running mate?

As I noted on Twitter, “‘Gingrich-Perry.’ The question is, Rick, Katy, Tyler, The Band, or Platypus?”

Tags: Newt Gingrich , Rick Perry

McDonnell for Romney


This morning brings word that Bob McDonnell, the governor of Virginia, will endorse Mitt Romney and travel to South Carolina to campaign with him.

McDonnell has spoken in the past of his preference for the Republican nominee to have gubernatorial experience, and of his friendship with Rick Perry.

Of course, McDonnell lives in Virginia, where the only names on the ballot will be Romney and Ron Paul. So if McDonnell wanted to endorse a candidate that he could actually support with a vote in the primary, perhaps this decision turned out to be pretty easy.

Tags: Bob McDonnell , Mitt Romney , Rick Perry

Next Hour’s Top Story: Alien Invasion!


So, to review, Rick Perry is leaving the race and will endorse Gingrich, the South Carolina polls are tightening, Rick Santorum won the Iowa caucus as far as the state party can tell, but votes from eight precincts are missing, Marianne Gingrich is airing her husband’s dirty laundry to ABC News, and Ron Paul’s hot-air balloon is snarling traffic on Interstate 85.

Just another slow news day.

Tags: Newt Gingrich , Rick Perry , Rick Santorum , Ron Paul

Everyone’s Analysis, Summarized: Everybody Except My Guy Should Quit!


It is a particularly verbose edition of the Morning Jolt this Thursday. Among those making an appearance: Pres. Barack Obama, Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, Ashe Schow of Heritage Action, Doug Brady of Conservatives 4 Palin, William Keane, James Taranto, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, the Anchoress, Glenn Reynolds, gangster rappers, the Oakland Raiders, Donald Trump, Snooki, the Kardashians, Mitt Romney, and the Ace of Spades.

Two quick bites:

Iowans: Hey, Remember What We Told You Caucus Night? Nevermind!

Breaking this morning: Rick Santorum won the Iowa caucuses. Iowa’s fourth-place finisher, Newt Gingrich, responded by congratulating him and insisting that Santorum withdraw from the race so that he can have a clear shot at Romney.

Should Perry Ride Off Into the Sunset a Bit Early?

I understand the logic of anti-Mitt folks calling on Rick Perry to drop out . . . I just can’t believe that the governor of Texas is being told to drop out days before the first primary in the South, the contest that would seem to be the most-friendly territory among the early states. (I also can’t believe Perry’s total in the past five polls in South Carolina: 6 percent, 6 percent, 5 percent, 5 percent, 6 percent. If I were a pollster, I’d be calling back the respondents and asking, “Are you sure? Really? You’re a self-described very conservative evangelical who describes reducing the government as your top priority and you’re not backing Perry? Are you absolutely certain?”

In the Corner, Brian Bolduc reports, “Today on her radio show, Laura Ingraham called for Rick Perry to drop out of the presidential race. ‘Rick Perry should drop out of this race. . . . And I like Rick Perry, I thought he was pretty cool in the last debate, except for that little problem with calling Turkey an Islamic terrorist regime. I mean, God bless him but he’s not put in the time to kind of know anything about foreign policy and you can’t be president if you don’t know anything about foreign policy.’”

RINO! . . . Wait, did I do that right?*

William Jacobson concurs: “With the precipitous Santorum fall and Perry finding no movement, it’s time for them to make a hard choice — stay in and hand Romney a narrow win and the nomination, or do the right thing and throw their support behind Newt.”

Erick Erickson wants to see it happen: “Perry’s endorsement today or tomorrow morning could offset [Huntsman], shifting undecideds and Perry’s own voters to someone else and get them a leg up on Mitt Romney. With Newt Gingrich surging according to the latest Rasmussen poll and Sarah Palin saying she’d support him, Perry’s withdrawal and endorsement before Saturday could ensure a Gingrich win. Rick Perry’s campaign has come to an end. But he could leave on an unexpected high note — helping conservatives unite around one not-Romney in a way no one else has been able to. Rick Perry could be the catalyst and kingmaker so many have been looking for, even as other conservatives have stood by, unwilling to endorse in the face of long odds . . . Either Rick Perry will leave the race Sunday with no political capital and no deposit of goodwill an endorsement would bring, or he will choose to strike one final blow for limited government conservatism.”

. . . But Robert Stacy McCain can’t believe that the guy who’s been an also-ran so far wants everybody else to clear his path to a mano-a-mano fight with the frontrunner: “What the hell kind of talk is that, coming from a guy who placed fourth in Iowa (13%) and fifth in New Hampshire (9%), especially in regard to Santorum, who fought Romney to a standstill in Iowa? Yesterday, Santorum was endorsed by Penny Nance of Conservative Women for America. Today, Santorum was endorsed by Richard Viguerie, a legendary figure in the conservative movement, and also endorsed by the chairman of the Berkeley County (S.C.) Republican Party. Newt’s suggestion that Santorum should be ‘consolidating into a Gingrich candidacy’ is preposterous and insulting.”

My question is, if Newt Gingrich really is the “most electable” candidate in the field as he keeps insisting, shouldn’t he . . . you know . . . win more votes? I mean, does he have some magic amulet of electability that he’s keeping in a lead-lined box somewhere, held in reserve until he really, really needs it?

*This is parody. Laura Ingraham is not a RINO, and there are way too many knee-jerk cries of ‘RINO’ in this primary campaign season.

Tags: Newt Gingrich , Rick Perry , Rick Santorum

The Latest Rounds From GOP Fight Club


From the Tuesday Morning Jolt . . .

Monday Night Debates? I Miss Regular Season Football Already.

Funny how the debates get sharper and more clarifying as the stage gets smaller. I was reminded of that line from Fight Club: “A guy who came to Fight Club for the first time, his [tush] was a wad of cookie dough. After a few weeks, he was carved out of wood.”

Romney may have had one of his most troubled performances. His SuperPAC came up twice, and in the first exchange, he insisted for what felt like the millionth time that the SuperPAC is independent and that he has no control or influence over what advertising messages the PAC runs. Legally, that’s true, but that more or less avoids the obvious reason to set up a SuperPAC: you set up your own bad cop with nearly unlimited funds (at least if you’ve got some fans with deep pockets). You — or at least your former staffers and allies — can beat the heck out of everybody else, while you shrug your shoulders and lament the Byzantine rules that limit donations to actual campaigns but permit unlimited donations to SuperPACs.

On his second reference, when Gingrich again pointed out how brutally Romney’s SuperPACs had attacked him in the previous states, and asked Romney to tell his SuperPAC to stop it. Romney turned the tables and asked Gingrich whether it was, indeed, a felony for Romney to coordinate with his PAC. Gingrich responded affirmatively, and appeared to admit that he had just asked Romney to commit a felony.

As many observed, Gingrich had some stellar moments (slamming Juan Williams for not-too-subtly calling Gingrich’s rhetoric racially insensitive, ripping Ron Paul on how to deal with America’s enemies), Santorum pinned down Romney as clearly and uncomfortably as anyone has in this primary, in the unexpected topic of voting rights for convicted felons who have served their time; and Rick Perry had a few moments where he simply and succinctly summarized conservative Republicans’ views, to roaring applause from the audience.

(The audience sounded as if they did whiskey shots during commercial breaks. Newt would begin, “Frankly, I believe that fundamental reform requires–” and then you would hear, “WHOOOOO! FRANKLY! FUNDAMENTALLY! WHOOOO!”)

Of course, if you want to see Romney derailed, you didn’t need all three of the non-Mitt, non-Ron options thriving tonight. You would have preferred to see one excel and two stumble, to give one of them a big win in South Carolina, assuming the mantle of ‘Newtrick Peringrichum’ I’ve been writing about. The longer the Three Amigos of Newt, Perry, and Santorum stay in this race, the better the outlook is for Romney.

Of course, I hate to see candidates disappointing supporters in forty-eight or forty-seven states, by denying them the chance to cast a meaningful vote for them. Should two of the three drop out?

Chuck Todd: “Romney didn’t have great night; But because Gingrich, Santorum and even Perry (that order) shared some moments, Romney has to feel OK.”

Kurt Schilchter: “This was a good debate. Our nominee is going to be tested by fire when he faces BHO, who has been sheltered for 3 years.”

“I think this debate makes it a lot harder to choose between Santorum and Gingrich if you hate Romney,” concludes David Freddoso.

Robert George: “Strong debate for Newt. Perry/Santorum better than usual. Mitt rather weak until end. Ron Paul’s foreign policy didn’t work here.”

Guy Benson: “Newt’s = winner. Santorum pretty sharp, too. Romney had good 1st answer, slumped, then recovered in 2nd hour. Perry mixed, Paul incoherent.”

Susan Anne Hiller: “If Mitt cant even win a GOP debate this far into the campaign, how is he supposed to beat back the media and Obama?”

Larry Sabato thought the early Bain discussion went well for the frontrunner: “This subject is a gimme for Romney. 95%+ of Republicans back ‘free enterprise.’ That’s how Bain issue has HELPED him — within GOP.”

Alex Castellanos thought he saw a slip from the frontrunner when he was touting his economic plan and that he felt he had a more detailed plan than the president: “Romney: ‘I’m not even President.. yet.’ Small slip but dangerous. Can’t seem presumptuous or voters will let him know who’s in charge.”

“Mit’s arguments are so much more generic and modular than Newt and Santorum . . . he’s really going for broad, abstract GOP talking points,” Jeff Greenfield notes.

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

Newtrick Peringrichum Still Faces Tough Road Ahead


Looking at some polls out today and yesterday though the lens of “Newtrick Peringrichum,” a figure who would unify all of the supporters of Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry:

Rasmussen’s latest in Florida: Romney 41, Newtrick Peringrichum 36.

Insider Advantage, South Carolina: Romney 23, Newtrick Peringrichum 40.

Gallup tracking, national: Romney 31, Newtrick Peringrichum 37.

The good news is that if two of the three dropped out, and all of the supporters of those candidates unified behind the remaining candidate, that remaining candidate would indeed be in strong position to win, or at least be well situated to fight Romney all the way to the convention.

But it’s still worth noting that the support for the three candidates touted as “the Conservative Candidate” tops out at about 40 percent or so. The notion that the Republican party consists overwhelmingly, or even mostly, of conservatives who find Mitt too moderate doesn’t quite hold water.

Tags: Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rick Perry , Rick Santorum

Richard Land: We Unite in South Carolina, or We Don’t Unite


Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, just said on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown that “if South Carolina gives a strong preference to Rick Santorum, or to Newt Gingrich, or to Rick Perry, that will have an enormous impact on whether social conservatives rally around one candidate. If they split evenly, I don’t think we will be able to unite behind one candidate.”

Tags: Newt Gingirch , Richard Land , Rick Perry , Rick Santorum

Even ‘Newtrick Peringrichum’ Would Have Trouble With Romney


If I follow the thinking of those who insist that somehow “the Establishment” is making Mitt Romney the Republican nominee this year . . .

  • The conservative base vastly outnumbers the so-called “Establishment.”
  • The vision of the conservative base is much more appealing to the country at large than the vision, or lack thereof, of the “Establishment.”
  • But for some reason, the “Establishment” usually wins.

Some of this could be chalked up to the conservative base splitting its support among several candidates. In comments, the candidates who are most often touted as the “true conservatives” are Rick Perry1, Newt Gingrich2, and Rick Santorum3. For example, in Iowa, Santorum, Gingrich, and Perry amounted to 48.1 percent of the vote.

But in New Hampshire, the trio amounted to a mere 25.8 percent of the vote. Sure, Perry effectively skipped the state, but this was a big state for Gingrich (the Union Leader endorsement) and Santorum spent money on ads there.

Obviously, circumstances can change, but in South Carolina, the trio currently amounts to 34 to 37 percent of the vote in the past three polls. Romney ranges from 27 percent to 37 percent in those polls.

In Florida, the trio amount to 24 percent to 31 percent 42 to 45 percent (Dang it, I used Ron Paul’s numbers instead of Gingrich’s) of the past two polls. Romney is at 36 percent in both polls.

Even if the three men were genetically spliced into “Newtrick Peringrichum,” a candidate who could retain all of their current supporters, they would have a tough road ahead in the upcoming primaries. It would be easier than the one that all of them face separately now, but it still would be a challenging fight against Romney.

(Nationally, Newtrick Peringrichum would lead Romney modestly, but I’m a little wary of using polls of “adults” to assess the views of GOP primary voters.)

From this, something in the convenient narrative must be wrong. Either the conservative base does not hold such a numerical advantage over the “Establishment,” or the base selects messengers for their inherently appealing message that are so flawed that they erode that numerical advantage, or the “Establishment” candidate Romney is somehow appealing to some of those voters in the conservative base.

There’s healthy evidence for that last option. According to the exit polls, if the New Hampshire primary had consisted only of self-described “very conservative” voters, the results would have been . . . Romney 33 percent, Santorum 26 percent, Paul 18 percent, Gingrich 17 percent, Huntsman 4 percent, Perry 1 percent. If it had consisted only of self-described “somewhat conservative” voters, the results would have been . . . Romney 48 percent, Paul 19 percent, Huntsman 13 percent, Gingrich 11 percent, Santorum 7 percent, Perry . . . 0.

I doubt this will persuade many of the “the Establishment controls it all!”crowd; it’s easier to believe in vast conspiracies meeting in dark rooms to pull the strings. But in the end, for all of Romney’s obvious flaws and weaknesses, none of his rivals are doing what they’re supposed to do, and what is allegedly fairly easy: convince Republicans — heck, convince conservatives! — that he’s a better choice for the GOP nominee than Romney.

1. The Gardasil-mandating governor who said critics of in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants have no heart and who is suddenly denouncing Bain Capital as “vultures that are sitting out there on the tree limb waiting for the company to get sick, and then they swoop in, they eat the carcass, they leave with that, and they leave the skeleton.”

2. The anti-”right-wing social engineering” $30,000-per-month Fannie Mae “historian” who made a commercial with Nancy Pelosi about the menace of global warming.

3. The “big government conservative” who endorsed Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey in the 2004 GOP Senate primary and ran ads touting his work with Barbara Boxer on open space and Hillary Clinton on federal efforts to regulate violent content in video games.

Tags: Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rick Perry , Rick Santorum

Rick Perry: ‘South Carolina Is Where They Pick Presidents!’


Rick Perry at the Lizard Thicket restaurant in Oak Grove, South Carolina: “New Hampshire winnows the field, but South Carolina is where they pick presidents.”

Each poll that has been released in 2012 has Perry at 5 percent. While I would argue that no candidate should depart the race until they’re ready — why drop out when voters in only one, or two, or three states have weighed in? — if Perry finishes fifth again, one will wonder where he can perform better.

You just knew Rick Perry would campaign at an establishment called “Lizard’s Thicket.”  Slogan: Eat like you mean it!

Tags: Rick Perry

Romney Leads or Has Won the Next Four States


Over in NRO’s election symposium, I conclude that it’s not over, but it’s effectively over:

For Mitt Romney to be derailed, somebody has to beat him somewhere. He’s already won Iowa (by the hair of his chinny-chin-chin), and he’s won New Hampshire. He currently leads in South Carolina, although that could change in the next two weeks if anti-Romney conservatives unite behind another candidate. Romney leads in Florida by 12 percentage points in the latest poll. After that, it’s the Nevada caucuses, which Romney won by a wide margin in 2008. And after that, it’s the Maine caucuses, which Romney won by a wide margin in 2008. It’s a long stretch before you can find a state where you would conclude, “Yeah, that one’s going to be tough for Romney.” Those states are relatively few and far between.

Should some of the Not Mitts drop out to give one of them a better chance to beat Romney? It’s a lovely idea if you’re determined to see someone other than Romney as the GOP nominee, but good luck persuading any of them to drop out. Presume for a moment that Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman are appealing to demographics of GOP primary voters that are not easily transferable to other candidates.

Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry face a version of the “prisoner’s dilemma.” If two leave quick, the last one benefits from the consolidated anti-Romney vote. But each one is determined to be the last one left.

Tags: Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rick Perry , Rick Santorum

You Cannot Undo Liberal Policies by Echoing Liberal Rhetoric


If you’re not listening to the Three Martini Lunch daily podcast — found on NRO’s home page — with Greg Corombus and myself, you’re missing the occasional rant like this one today:

Greg: The sad thing here, Jim, is that yes, Romney could have phrased that a little more artfully, but it was clear the point he was making there is that people like to have choices — I think he was talking about health insurance at the time — people should have the ability to pursue the service and the people who provide the service that do the best job.

Now there are folks like Huntsman and to some extent Gingirich, although he’s backed off a little bit on that one, and some of the others up in New Hampshire saying that Mitt Romney just gleefully likes to fire people who are relying on him and his company for their jobs, and that’s clearly not what he was saying.

Me: Not only is what Mitt Romney saying perfectly fine and not objectionable, it is at its heart a big chunk of the conservative worldview, which is that government tends to give crappy services because it doesn’t have competition.

What are we trying to do in education? Create school choice. Give parents options. Why do we hate going to the DMV? Because there’s no ‘other leading brand’ DMV that we can go to that’s giving competition. They can provide crappy service because you have no place else to go.

Ninety percent of government services are like this. There is no private competition to Social Security, other than individual retirement accounts . . .

One of the basic fundamental concepts of the free-market worldview — which we now see that almost no one in the Republican presidential field has — is that competition is good. One of the problems of government is that in many of the services it provides, it has a monopoly. Because there is no competition, you end up eroding the work ethic and end up eroding the desire to provide something better.

There is no rival Department of Commerce. There is no rival Internal Revenue Service. There is nobody else doing the same things, saying “Boy, if we don’t do a good job, we won’t have our jobs for long.” The same way Radio America faces other radio syndicates, National Review faces other conservative publications . . . All of us in the private sector have some sort of competition that we have to stay on our toes to compete against.

This is the entire concept of what Mitt Romney is saying, and because it sounds like he enjoys the suffering of others, every single one of these desperate losers in the rest of this campaign are grabbing onto it, trying to persuade people that there’s something wrong with it.

Just go ahead and just poop on a police car, guys, because most of the Republican field has just gone and hugged the entire mentality of the Occupy Wall Street movement. They basically deep down are arguing that there is no such thing as a good layoff, there’s no such thing as a necessary layoff. Layoffs are ipso facto immoral, the profits of Bain Capital are immoral . . . and Greg, if this is the mentality that the Republican nominee is going to take . . . You cannot undo liberal economic policies by echoing liberal economic rhetoric. And that’s what Perry, Gingrich and Huntsman have all done. Santorum has been a fairly noble guy, not jumping on the Bain criticism bandwagon . . .

This has been an appalling turn in the Republican debate. I go from having beefs with these guys to basically arguing that these guys will tear down the entire concept of free-market economics if they think it will get them a few extra points in New Hampshire. This tells us everything we need to know about Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Jon Huntsman.

Tags: Bain Capital , Jon Huntsman , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rick Perry

In the End, Any Desperate Politician Will Run on Resentment of the Rich


From the New Hampshire Primary Day edition of the Morning Jolt:

We Are All Occupiers Now.

If Romney’s opponents embrace the rhetoric and class warfare of the Occupy Wall Street crowd any closer, they’re going to start pooping on police cars.

So, here we are, at the day of the first primary, and the main objection to Mitt Romney from Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry is that he fired a bunch of people? More than his liberal-softie sounding rhetoric in 1994 and 2002? More than his crusade to liberate us from the individual mandate of Obamacare in order to leave the states free to enact their own individual mandates? More than the fact that he’s won exactly one general election in his life, in a year that the left-of-center vote was divided?

Objections to private-sector layoffs from the party that wants to shrink government? How do we think all of those employees of the federal bureaucracy will get off the payroll? Mass alien abductions?

When you think about it, isn’t it possible that the layoffs enacted when Romney was at Bain constitute one of the boldest moves of his career? One of the times he’s been willing to do something unpopular because he thought it was right, and in the long-term interest of the institution he was managing, instead of following the polls and telling people what they wanted to hear?

Much of the focus came upon Romney’s comment that he likes being able to fire people who provide services to him, if he’s not happy with the quality of the service.

You know, the way you can’t with the Department of Motor Vehicles, or the way you can’t (or at least not without Herculean determination) with a crappy teacher at a public school. The way you can’t fire a tenured professor at a state university, whether or not he gives good value for his salary and benefits to those who pay his salary (the students and the taxpayers). The way we can’t take our business to some other government, without leaving the country.

(I thought it was almost impossible to fire any federal government employee, but somehow Barack Obama is eliminating 80,000 U.S. Army jobs over the next ten years, from 570,000 to 490,000.)

“You like being able to fire people who provide subpar services? Well, don’t we all. In fact, there’s one guy in particular who I’m itching to fire in November,” quips Allahpundit at Hot Air. “In case you haven’t seen it elsewhere, here’s the outrageous outrage du jour, a Democratic attack so cheap and out-of-context that even lefty Greg Sargent felt obliged to defend Romney from it. The full, entirely unobjectionable quote: ‘I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. . . . You know, if someone doesn’t give me a good service, then I want to say, “I’m going to go get someone else to provide that service to me.”’ Surely, surely, only an especially desperate Democratic hack would stoop to twisting that. Right?

Of course, Huntsman jumped on it. As did Perry. Then Newt.

“Dying to know if second place in NH goes to the guy who disdains me, or to the guy who latently disdains capitalism,” sighs VodkaPundit.

“They sound like a bunch of leftists. Listen to the rhetoric,” sighs Jedidiah Bila. She also quips, “McCain thinks SuperPACs are damaging the GOP field. I think most of the candidates are doing a good enough job of that themselves.”

Plus, I quote “Firefly” in response to Jon Huntsman lamenting the insanity of the modern GOP.

Tags: Jon Huntsman , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rick Perry , Rick Santorum


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