My Romney guy offers a contrary take to my thought that all of the Republican contenders were comfortable where they were last night: “Maybe it wasn’t that everyone was comfortable. I think they were all just waiting for somebody else to do their dirty work. McCain had to think that Huck and Rudy would blast away at Mitt. Rudy had to think that McCain was going to throw a punch. Huck had to think Rudy was going to get desperate. And I bet they were all shocked as hell that nobody did the deed.”
I talked about all kinds of things with my Romney guy this morning.
On tea leaves in Florida: “I don’t think that crowds at events are a good measuring stick of how candidates are doing in the state, because it’s just such a big state, and a densely populated one. If you can get a couple hundred people to show up to an event in rural Iowa in the middle of winter, it means something. A couple hundred people in Sarasota – is that good? Is that bad? What is a big crowd for a city like that?
Rudy only wins if he’s banked a ton of votes absentee. That seems to be his best hope. As we’ve seen, primary races tend to converge into something binary – the guys in third and fourth place tend to drift back. So I’ve got to believe that Huckabee’s and Rudy’s votes will fall off even further behind at the end.”
On the motivating issues in Florida: “There’s a property tax initiative on the ballot, and I think that’s helping the issue of taxes. I’m not sure about Giuliani’s plan for catastrophic flood insurance. I think it just makes it about $100 a head cheaper, and I’m not sure that my rallying cry for a president is ‘save me a hundred bucks on insurance.’ But they must be seeing something, because they’ve got a lot invested in that issue.
The onrush of the economy as an issue has been pretty tremendous… When you’ve got the stock market gyrating a couple hundred points a day, it tends to make people sit up and take notice.”
On the Delegate Hunt: “In California, if you can win the forty Republicans* who live in Nancy Pelosi’s district, that gets you three delegates, and it’s worth as much as the ones from a district in Orange County. If you don’t have the funds – if you’re McCain or Huckabee or Rudy – you just cherry pick Congressional districts. Right now everyone’s trying to figure out, if I spend money on that media, on that television station, how many districts does that put me in?… It’s just so weird, everybody’s got to be doing this by the seat of their pants. You can’t be doing tracking polls in 200 Congressional districts.”
(*This is hyperbole.)
On the Hillary-Obama race: “They’re killing themselves. Bill Clinton is reminding everyone of the parts of him that they don’t like… They are splitting the Hispanics and African-Americans in ways that are ruthless and destructive to the Democrats. If Obama’s the nominee, they will have done damage to the party’s standing among Hispanics. If Hillary’s the nominee, they will have done real damage to her relationship with African-American voters. Do enough African-American voters stay home to make a difference of a point or two in a few states? Maybe.
I don’t know how they put Bill Clinton back in the bottle. I guess they think they can completely reinvent and reintroduce her at the convention. They did it for Bill in 1992; by the end of the primary all anybody knew about him was Gennifer Flowers, “I didn’t inhale,”, and draft-dodger. But they clearly aren’t playing a general election campaign right now.”
On the Democratic race in South Carolina: “The Hillary campaign has convinced the press that they don’t need to win this, but I’ve got to believe it’s a huge commitment to put Bill Clinton on the ground there for a week, and to walk away with nothing. I’ve heard of people in the Charleston area who are getting 8 or 9 Obama pieces of mail, 6 to 8 pieces of Edwards mail, and no Clinton mail. It’s strange.”