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January 11, 2012

Romney Cruises

It's Mitt Romney in a walk in the 2012 New Hampshire Primary.  Romney got just under 40% of the vote with Ron Paul finishing second at 23% and Jon Huntsman third at 17%.

Major broadcast networks declared Romney the winner as soon as all polls closed at 8 p.m.

But will Romney's margin of victory be viewed as wide enough to portray him as a clear, strong front-runner?

It appeared that the answer is yes.

As returns poured in, Romney had 39 percent of the vote with nearly 90 percent of the voting precincts reporting.

A battle for second place was expected, with Huntsman riding a late mini-surge to battle Paul.

But Paul was at 23 percent and Huntsman at 17 percent, while former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum split the hard-line conservative vote, with 9 percent each.

I'd have to say this makes Romney the prohibitive favorite going forwards.  His most serious remaining obstacle is the $2.3 million negative ad campaign that Newt Gingrich supporters have recently launched in South Carolina. 

A super PAC supporting Mr. Gingrich will start running anti-Romney ads this week, painting him as a businessman who sought to enrich himself by buying companies, closing them down and leaving people out of work.

We'll see how that plays out.  It didn't help Gingrich here in New Hampshire.

Posted by Tom Bowler at 06:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 10, 2012

Gingrich The Progressive

I sat in amazement, and a bit of disgust, as Sean Hannity gave two segments of his show over to a vindictive attack on Mitt Romney by Newt Gingrich.  Maybe it was Hannity's way of contributing to the Gingrich campaign.  In any event Gingrich missed his target, instead smearing capitalism itself.  I don't find a transcript of last night's show, but Gingrich reiterated things he'd said earlier.

Newt Gingrich took Mitt Romney to task Monday for his role with Bain Capital, arguing that the former Massachusetts governor “looted the companies [and] left people unemployed” when the venture firm took control.

“They apparently looted the companies, left people unemployed and walked off with millions of dollars,” Gingrich said on NBC’s “Today” show. “Look, I’m for capitalism, I’m for people who go in to save a company … if somebody comes in takes all the money out of your company, and then leaves you bankrupt while they go off with millions, that’s not traditional capitalism.”

I suspect the former history teacher, congressman, lobbyist Gingrich wouldn't know traditional capitalism if it bit him on the ass.  The facts of Romney's tenure are Bain Capital are much different from picture presented by the former house speaker.

The Wall Street Journal, aiming for a comprehensive assessment, examined 77 businesses Bain invested in while Mr. Romney led the firm from its 1984 start until early 1999, to see how they fared during Bain's involvement and shortly afterward.

Among the findings: 22% either filed for bankruptcy reorganization or closed their doors by the end of the eighth year after Bain first invested, sometimes with substantial job losses. An additional 8% ran into so much trouble that all of the money Bain invested was lost.

Another finding was that Bain produced stellar returns for its investors—yet the bulk of these came from just a small number of its investments. Ten deals produced more than 70% of the dollar gains.

With Staples, Dominos, and Sports Authority among the winners, it's easy to see how Bain Capital could make so much money. At the same time Bain's investment strategy explains why there might be a higher than average failure rate.

Asked in an interview about Bain's bankruptcy and failure rate, Mr. Romney said that in buyout deals, "our orientation was by and large to acquire businesses that were out of favor and in some cases in trouble." He added that Bain wasn't the type of firm that stripped companies and fired workers, but instead, "our approach was to try to build a business. We were not always successful."

Apparently Gingrich really does not understand how private enterprise works, and it turns out he, rather than Romney, is the man who will say anything to get himself elected.  It's gets him in trouble sometimes.  Last may after trashing Paul Ryan's budget plan as right wing social engineering, he got some unexpected feedback from an Iowa voter.

As he was getting ready to leave a speaking engagement Dubuque resident Russell Fuhrman approached him in the lobby of the Holiday Inn:

“Get out now before you make a bigger fool of yourself,” Fuhrman said directly to Gingrich.

Gingrich, visibly stunned, quickly moved forward to talk with other guests.

Fuhrman told The Register afterward that he just happened to be at the hotel.  He said he’s upset with Gingrich’s disagreements with parts of the House Republican Medicare reform plan.

Fuhrman said he’s a solid Republican but that Ginrich “is a jerk.”

“I’m a strong Republican but he’s an embarrassment to our party,” Fuhrman said.

Gingrich's lip might get into even more trouble than merely embarrassment, according to Ross Kaminsky of the American Spectator.

I've never seen a baseball player get three strikes on one pitch, but former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich just accomplished the political equivalent. During a Sunday morning Republican debate in New Hampshire, Gingrich suggested that a Super PAC supporting him will be attacking former Massachusetts governor and venture capitalist Mitt Romney's business history.

Strike one: As Quin Hillyer notes, Gingrich may have inadvertently tipped his hand exposing illegal coordination between his campaign and a PAC.

Strike two: Regardless of the impact of criticisms by Newt-backers on Romney, Newt has shown himself to be too bitter, petulant, and vengeful -- in short, too immature -- to be a serious candidate for the presidency.

And -- the most important and least discussed -- strike three: The PAC's impending assault combined with Gingrich's words during Saturday morning's debate that "I think it's a legitimate part of the debate to say OK on balance are people better off by this particular style of investment?" show less an attack on Romney than attack on capitalism itself, something that should be anathema to a self-described "Reagan conservative."

Gingrich is the loose cannon who proves himself to be guilty of the charges he brings against Mitt Romney.  That is, he'll say anything to get elected.

Posted by Tom Bowler at 10:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 09, 2012

This May Explain

Almost inexplicably the "not Romneys" just come and go.  Hopes for the more perfect conservative candidate propel the "not Romneys" upwards in the popularity polls only to see them sink away after we get to know them a little better.  We had Rick Perry and Herman Cain.  And after them Newt Gingrich made his remarkable and unlikely rise in voter esteem.  He's now history, which paved the way for Rick Santorum.  Like the rest who came before, Santorum enjoyed a brief moment of adulation which unsurprisingly did not ignite similar infatuation among voters in New Hampshire where Romney maintains a solid lead.

In the meantime, a Rasmussen poll of likely US voters says that Mitt Romney is the only Republican candidate who is likely to beat Obama.

While the Republican presidential hopefuls continue to fight it out on the campaign trail, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is the only GOP contender that most voters view as having a chance against President Obama.

Fifty-three percent (53%) of Likely U.S. Voters think Romney is at least somewhat likely to beat the president in November.

I think this explains why Romney continues to maintain his consistent lead, in spite of a certain level of dissatisfaction with him.  It's a manifestation of Obama's unpopularity.  A large block of voters, myself included, believe the candidate most qualified among the current crop of Republicans is the one with the best chances of defeating Obama in the general election.  Romney wins among these voters, who will make up a large enough block to hand him the nomination.  

Meanwhile progressive wishful thinkers look to Romney's inability to attract more than 25% support in Iowa and claim that this shows him up as a weak candidate.  Looking on as the Occupy Wall Street protesters suck up all the media attention, progressives convince themselves that the Tea Party movement has lost its potency.  They underestimate voter unhappiness.

Democrats have created a phony crisis — income inequality — and settled on a campaign against a do-nothing congress that supposedly refuses to address it.  Even congressional Democrats are campaigning against congress.  In normal times it might work.  But with unemployment at 8.5% and the workforce at the lowest percentage of the population in since 1983, voters are looking for something more than rhetorical smoke and mirrors.  Obama hasn't got anything like that. 

In fact, Obama himself is providing the best argument in favor of supply side economics with his ongoing demonstration of everything we could possibly do to kill off a recovery.  He burdens the economy through over-regulation.  He subsidizes friends like Solyndra, and punishes enemies like Boeing.  He demonizes anybody who manages to stay productive in spite of all the ill effects of his economic policies, and he promises to tax them at higher rates.

Mitt Romney is right.  This election is about the soul of America, and people recognize that.  There is no chance that the 75% who didn't vote for Romney in Iowa are going to swing over and vote for Obama.  There is no chance that those 75% will stay home.  We Tea Partiers are biding our time.  Contributing our money and biding our time.  There is no point to marching anywhere to protest anything, whether it's on Wall Street or Washington.  Instead, we quietly wait.  In November we drop the hammer.

Posted by Tom Bowler at 12:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 08, 2012

The New Hampshire Debate — Romney's Night

Michael Barone:

At about 10:28pm tonight, as Mitt Romney pivoted from a question on tax loopholes and started in with, “the real issue is vision,” I had recorded this thought in my notes, “He just clinched the nomination.”

Ryan Mauro:

Mitt Romney clobbered Huntsman on China when he pointed out that he’s been in charge of implementing Obama’s China policy for two years. Voters recognize that our relationship with China isn’t working in our favor. And Huntsman just came off like a show-off when he replied by speaking in Chinese. He’ll be gone next week.

Matthew Boyle:

When questioning former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Stephanopoulos, a former senior advisor in the administration of Democratic President Bill Clinton, premised some inquiries on the assertion — offered without supporting facts — that Romney’s job-creation statistics were inaccurate.

Associated Press:

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Mitt Romney brushed aside rivals’ criticism Saturday night in the opening round of a weekend debate doubleheader that left his Republican presidential campaign challengers squabbling among themselves and unable to knock the front-runner off stride.

Guy Benson:

Tonight's highly-anticipated slugfest never materialized as billed. Instead, Mitt Romney glided through nearly unscathed, some of the sharpest exchanges came over ancillary or inane issues, and the ABC News team dreamed up some of the worst debate questions recent memory.

Ruth Marcus:

MANCHESTER, NH—Nothing happened at Saturday night’s debate to touch Mitt Romney or shake his seemingly insurmountable lead in the polls here.

It was clearly Romney's night.  Meanwhile, the Obama-friendly Washington Post stretched mightily to make the case that it was a bad night for the GOP.

The GOP heads into Tuesday’s first-in-the-nation primary in an unexpected and uncomfortable position. The party that once seemed to have so many advantages going into 2012 — a fired-up base, an unpopular Democratic president, a struggling economy — now finds itself stuck, ambivalent about its front-runner and unable to decide on an alternative.

It's looking more and more certain.  Mitt Romney will win the Republican nomination, and he will go on to win the November 2012 general election in convincing fashion.

Posted by Tom Bowler at 08:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 06, 2012

There Are Things You Can Joke About

Grieving over the death of a child isn't one of them.   Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinsion went on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show to make these comments about Rick Santorum, and how he and his family grieved over the death of one of their children.

"He's not a little weird, he's really weird," Robinson said of Santorum. "And some of his positions that he has taken are just so weird that I think that some Republicans are off-put. Not everybody is not going to be down, for example, with the story of how he and his wife handled the stillborn child. It was a body that they took home to kind of sleep with it, introduce it to the rest of the family. It's a very weird story."

A day later when taken to task by Joe Scarborough on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Robinson said he didn't mean to offend.

“I certainly didn’t mean to offend anybody, especially Mr. Santorum,” Robinson added. “But it was in a discussion of his views, and, you know, which I consider extreme, and Santorum himself who is a cultural — culture warrior extraordinaire, whose faith — and we all appreciate someone of deep faith — but it is — it is extremely deep, and it’s a kind of faith that some people, I think, are going be… if not surprised by… at least want to know more about.”

“That’s fair enough, but is it the decision about what you do with an infant that passed away a highly personal decision?” Scarborough pressed. “This was not a stillborn child. This was an infant that was born and that lived for a few hours, and there are actually pediatric specialists who say the family needs to say good-bye to that sort of child. Children, if you make that decision, parents, could get closure that way too. Why touch it? Why would you even talk about it? That’s a really personal decision, isn’t it?”

“It is a personal decision,” Robinson noted. “And I’ve certainly been educated on the subject since — in the past day, so I do understand that — that this is not — it’s not something that’s in any way beyond the pale or considered inadvisable and that many grief counselors do advise a period of saying good-bye to a child who tragically dies in that way.”

“Do you wish you hadn’t written that part of it?” Scarborough asked.

“I didn’t write anything,” Robinson corrected. “I didn’t write this at all. It’s something I said on the air.”

“Do you wish you hadn’t said it?” Scarborough clarified. “You can see how prepared I am.”

“I wish I hadn’t said it that way, Joe.

I'm trying real hard to imagine some inoffensive way to describe how "really weird" it was for the Santorums to grieve over their loss, however they chose to deal with it.  Can Robinson be such a blockhead that he really didn't mean to offend?  Maybe, but I get a certain sense of viciousness in his description of "a body that they took home to kind of sleep with it."  And now he says he wishes he hadn't said it that way.  But he's clearly not sorry that he said it.

I think when Robinson was spouting off he pictured himself in the vanguard of the attack on Santorum.  He confirms the answer to a question Sissy Willis posed just yesterday: Is Rick Santorum the new Sarah Palin?  The answer is undoubtedly yes, Santorum is the latest liberal media target and Robinson wanted to be one of the first to jump on him with both feet.  Santorum is not just weird, he's really weird.  Maybe Robinson thought his idea might get picked up for Saturday Night Live skit to make his hilarious point.  A Pulitzer Prize for comedy?  Of course he never meant to offend.

By way of Hot Air.

Posted by Tom Bowler at 05:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 04, 2012

Forget What The Pundits Say

Mitt Romney has won the Iowa Caucuses.  Oh sure, pundits will tell you that the real winner is the one who beats expectations and comes out of Iowa with momentum.  That would be Rick Santorum with his late surge that left him only 8 votes shy of outright victory.  But Santorum is only the latest in a parade of "not Romneys" who come along and then fade.  He is the last gasp from the conservatives-for-purity crowd, a candidate whose socially conservative positions are not necessarily in sync with a majority of voters, a candidate who seems not to have noticed the surging libertarian trend, even as the libertarian Ron Paul took a strong third place with 22% of the Iowa Caucus votes.

So now it's on to New Hampshire where Romney holds a commanding lead in the pre-primary opinion polls.

The next nominating contest will take place in New Hampshire, where Romney holds a commanding lead. The latest Suffolk University two-day tracking poll out of New Hampshire showed Romney with 43 percent support with Paul coming in second with 16 percent.

In remarks late Tuesday night, Paul argued that he won "one of three tickets out" of Iowa -- "and one of two that can actually run a national campaign and raise the money." Paul has attracted an ardent base of supporters with his libertarian views and has the organization to carry his campaign beyond Iowa.

While he couldn't pull off a victory in Iowa, Paul said his campaign has been successful in "reintroducing some ideas that Republicans have needed for a long time, and that is the conviction that freedom is popular."

Coming out of New Hampshire at 2-for-2 Romney will be in position to run the table on the rest of the Republican field.  Whether he will or not depends in part on the question framed by Sarah Palin in a caucus night Fox News interview. 

Sarah Palin gave her analysis of the Iowa caucuses tonight, refusing to give any single candidate anything close to an endorsement. She also noted rather passionately though, that the GOP had better not marginalize Ron Paul and his supporters after tonight because their fiscal concerns are very legitimate and the GOP had better work with them.

With the Republican establishment backing him, will Mitt Romney ignore the libertarians?  And if he does, will it cost him the support of libertarian leaning Republicans?  It's my guess that Romney will be careful to do nothing that offends the libertarians or the social conservatives, and that will win him enough of their support as the single best chance for ending the disaster that the Obama presidency has become.  There is actually nothing more important than that.

Posted by Tom Bowler at 09:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack