Thursday, February 23, 2012

Post Debate Thoughts

Ari Fletcher was quick to sing accolades for Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich after last nights debate. He obviously knows more than I. Still, I disagree with him. Rick Santorum didn't "miss a chance." In fact, Santorum overcame some difficult assertions; from both Romney and Ron Paul.

The subject of "earmarks" has surfaced in the Republican primary. But everyone has participated! Paul explained his rationale clearly. Governor Romney has spent millions casting Senator Santorum as the "earmark king." This is slightly hypocritical.

We must never forget that the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic funding was courtesy of the same "earmarks." Perhaps the former Massachusetts Governor figured that it was okay; due to the importance of the project!

Did I hear Governor Romney remind millions that he "had balanced the Massachusetts budgets four times?" It's true! And Santorum added in cagy fashion that it was "required by the Massachusetts constitution" and that "Michael Dukakis had balanced that budget ten times." In other words, Governor Romney can "teach a blind man how to talk."

It took "courage" to support Arlen Specter over conservative Pat Toomey. Specter chaired the Senate judiciary committee. The GOP held a 51-49 advantage and there were critical Supreme Court appointments on tap. Santorum insured Specter's support of John Roberts and Samuel Alito. This was the right decision. Specter was the consummate R.I.N.O., something that he proved when he switched parties one year later! Without Santorum's support, he may have joined liberal Democrats and blocked those appointments. It was a tough, courageous call. Leadership does require such from time to time!

True, Santorum supported Romney in 2008. He did reference the Massachusetts Governor as a "conservative." No doubt, he was comparing him to John McCain. McCain's opposition to drilling at ANWAR(the Arctic National Wildlife reserve) was a decision that Americans are seeing every time they fill up at the gasoline pump. McCain joined Democrats and voted to block drilling. The measure failed by one vote. Romney did favor drilling in ANWAR at that time. Santorum has always favored domestic energy exploration and development. In his view, McCain had turned on his party in favor of the environmentalists.

Gingrich? David Gergen suggested that Newt had "wrapped up Georgia and Tennessee" with his debate performance. Newt appeared relaxed. There was almost a mischievous look on his face, as if he relishes the thought of a brokered convention.

Ron Paul made some good points, especially about his own electability. His appeal to "millinials" is solid. These "under thirty" voters could impact the election. Paul's hope is to "back into" the nomination. His supporters continue to stress his strength in a face off with Barack Obama.

Santorum's closing argument centered around his appeal in the industrial midwest swing states. This is real. Unlike Romney, Santorum connects with "blue collar" Democrats. In a general election, his message could easily expand to "anti-outsourcing and protectionism." He has many anti-right-to-work votes to his credit. In their zeal over Santorum's social issue liabilities, Democrats may be overlooking this. Union votes cannot be taken for granted! Ask Jimmy Carter!

Naturally "blueblood Republican" aren't impressed! That's why they have enbraced Mitt Romney. But what about working people in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan? Odds are Republicans only need to win one of these states to retake the White House.

Interestingly enough, Santorum wasn't bashed as much as expected on social issues. Maybe it's because the rest of the field, especially Romney feel that it's risky to oppose him. Evangelicals recognize Santorum as the true social conservative. For them, the rest are suspect.

Social issues will be a general election issue. So will education. But as everyone agrees, the economy and jobs will be first in line. If, by convention time, Santorum is able to position Romney as a "pro-outsourcing globalist, in bed with the big banks and Wall Street," he wins. At the very least, he could kill Mitt Romney's chances for the nomination.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The "Pros and Cons" of a Brokered Convention

Let us start with the "cons." If you support Mitt Romney, you are obviously horrofied with the utterance of a "brokered convention." It is easy to understand why! "Brokered convention" translates to Mitt Romney not having sufficient delegates to have wrapped up the nomination.

The former Massachusetts Governor and the Republican Establishment all but concluded that Romney would the be the nominee. And, he may well be. BUT, there was the hope that it would be a fast, painless process. There was some concern when Rick Perry came on the scene. He had money and an organization. But his late entry and endless stumbles did him in.

Herman Cain came from nowhere and for a few exhilerating weeks, looked like Cinderella. But, the shoe didn't fit!

Nobody expected Ron Paul to do as well as he has done. His core of Litertarians were expected to get him on ballots. But support estimates of 5-7%, not 12-16% were projected. Unexpected was his appeal to the "millinials." More on that!

There were entirely too many debates. But that spearheaded a flawed Newt Gingrich into a South Carolina win and some serious help from "sin city."

Totally unexpected was the emergence of Rick Santorum. His legislative experience commanded attention. But an eighteen point Senate loss underlined his departure. It didn't help that he had no money!

In the end, it looked like an easy Romney jaunt. Yet, amid discussions centering around "who" would be Mitt's best running mate, Rick Santorum swept Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri. Romney's people naturally downplayed it. But with Michigan looming, followed closely by Ohio, Romney insiders are deeply worried. In essence, if Romnney loses both, even if he wins Arizona, it will probably be the end of his campaign.

Not to say that it will be over. It won't be! But with Gingrich spending big bucks in the South and Santorum likely to corral a handful of Super Tuesday delegates, it becomes improbable that Mitt Romney will have the necessary 1144 delegates come Tampa time.

Paul Ryan said on NBC's "Meet the Press," Sunday that it was too late to go outside the present GOP field for a potential nominee. He was listed along with Governors Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Mitch Daniels as alternative selections in a brokered convention.

So what happens if Romney shows up to Tampa with 850 delegates, Santorum with 650, Gingrich with 450 and Ron Paul with 250? Could a deal be struck?

Smart money would suggest that Gingrich would never support Romney. But, his Vegas "money bags" has listed Romney as their "second choice." Santorum appears ideologically closer to Gingrich. And Newt isn't above cutting a deal! But money talks!

Paul doesn't seem to like any of the remaining candidates. But he has been less critical of Romney than any of the other candidates. Could he be sending a signal? Mitt could certainly use those "twenty-somethings" that make up a large part of Paul's base. It has even been suggested that the Texas Congressman might be tapped as Romney's running mate!

What about the alternatives? Pundits say that Jeb Bush "isn't interested" and Mitch Daniels doesn't "exite social conservatives." It is unlikely that Chris Christie would be the nominee for both reasons. The two remaining options not mentioned are, Sarah Palin and Marco Rubio.

Palin may have aspirations to be drafted as the nominee. She did, after all, suggest a "brokered convention." She continues to refrain from endorsing any candidate. We remember in the early days of the primary season, everyone was holding their breath in anticipation of her announcement. That obviously never came. However, if Romney fails to win Michigan and Ohio, look for her to step up the "alternative to Romney" argument. "Who" that might be will remain undisclosed.

Rubio has been on the top of everyones' Vice Presidential wish list. He has repeatedly expressed no interest in the position. Even more so than Ryan, Marco Rubio is the rising star of the party. He has recently drawn accolades for his "Reaganesque" positions on foreign affairs. A consummate "supply sider," the freshman Florida Senator is the closest answer to everything the party represents. Like Santorum, he appeals to "blue collar" workers. He received 58% of the female vote in Florida's 2010 Senate election. Ron Paul's "millinials" view him as a "rock star."

Suppose Ryan is correct? Why would Santorum not be the better option? Ed Gillespie went on record Sunday suggesting Obama's "arrogance" and "mishandling" of the recent contraception issue could cost him three states. He is talking about Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan. Obama predicted that he would "crush" Santorum in a general election. He "hoped that the Republicans nominate him." This prompted Gillespie to remind the President "better be careful what he wished for!"

The normally reliable National Review favors Mitt Romney. It has concluded that Rick Santorum's proposed economic plan is an anachronism, based on "America in the early 90's." That may be true. But there is a longing in America to return to the days of the factory job, the family unit and faith based existence. This has defined the America that most white, blue collar males relate to.

Santorum's plan would bring some manufacturing jobs home. It might ultimately lead to inflation. But it could rekindle a spirit of "buy America." Coupled with conservative social values, this position would not be unwelcomed in the rust belt. But are we talking about everyone? Or, only "angry white males?"

Polls show Romney doing better with female voters. Democrats are confident that Santorum would be a disaster with Independent women. They are attempting to position him as dogmatic and judgemental. It's working inasmuch as it's placing him on the defensive. The media is relishing the exchange.

Then there is the question of Hispanic voters. Much to the chagrin of Democrats, they aren't enthralled with Obama! Would social conservatism and the church be enough to sway them toward Santorum?

Hispanics are typically "pro-life" and believe in the "sanctity of marriage." But the big need here as with the rest of the country is jobs. Promoting blue-collar factory jobs will gain traction with Latino voters. But is Senator Santorum's proposal realistic? There won't be a second chance if it isn't!

What about the women? Romney will be stronger with them, offsetting potential liabilities with Latinos. But that won't be enough; even with the unlikely "Paul marriage." His real problem rests with the same blue collar workers who have propelled Santorum to a narrow lead. They simply don't connect with him.

In short, the Republicans have no perfect candidate currently in their field. Against these opponents, with the possible exception of Santorum, Obama looks like a winner. But that's today. A serious spike in gasoline prices, or if unemployment goes no lower in the next few months, everything changes. All eyes are on Europe and the Middle East. Any hint of a calamity in either region could spell doom for Democrats!

Is it too late for another entry? It depends on circumstance, name recognition and how uncomfortable the party leaders are with the present field.

Sarah Palin is known. She is practical and gets to the heart of the issue, which stirs mainstream America. But she may be too polarizing to win the general election. While her endorsement could be pivotal, it's probable that she wouldn't be "new" enough to be novel.

Marco Rubio is "new" and "novel." But a lot of voters will admit that they know little about him! Television can remedy some of the questions. Rubio is the master of social media and extremely well spoken. He would be a formitable debate opponent for Barack Obama. Most significantly he exudes the passion that reflects American exceptionalism.

Mitch Daniels comes off as a steady, experienced executive. He would be the Establishments' Midwestern answer, though the excitement might be lacking. He would probably make an excellent Vice President.

Jeb Bush may want to wait another four years, although he would win Florida by double digits tomorrow. Insiders note that "if Jeb had wanted it, he would have been the nominee."

Chris Christie is pro-choice and has supported gun control legislation. That dooms him in the south. But what a great Attorney General he would make!

Paul Ryan is a smart, articulate comer. But he may lack the passion that has vaulted Santorum past Romney in recent weeks.

Possibly it will come down to which candidate is most successful at making Barack Obama defend his record. Obamacare and Cap and Trade are unpopular with the majority of Americans. If the discussion centers there, the Democrats will lose!

All in all, Romney supporters continue to say that their candidate is "most electable." Paul backers claim their candidate "is the only Republican who can beat Obama." Gingrich thinks he'll have another surge. With ten million dollars of new money in his bank account, he probably will.

Expect the real discussion to begin if Romney doesn't win Michigan and Ohio. Don't rule anything out!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

No time for either side to "pigeonhole" Hispanic voters.

Reviewing an "anti-Marco Rubio" blog on "The Nation," some pieces fell into the puzzle!

Not that it was surprising that this left leaning blog would portray the Florida Senator in the most skeptical way! That was pretty much expected. But what was unexpected was the certainty held by most Liberal Democrats(along with many Establishment Republicans)that the Latino vote was fairly secure in the "blue" column.

Marco Rubio represented "hope" that the Republicans could still convince Hispanic Americans that there was an alternative. What wasn't referenced in the blog was the simple point of "shared values." Evidently the left has forgotten that most Hispanics are "pro-life," and believe that marriage is defined as a "union between a man and a woman."

These inconvenient "hiccups" along the road to "social justice" are not expected to cause any detours. However, when the Roman Catholic church is brushed aside as "a impediment to womens' rights" it becomes a bit more sticky. The Obama Administration was quick to recognize this. Hence, an alteration in the methodology of payment for controception. Problem solved! Let's move on!

What if it's not a satisfactory answer?

Nobody will know for certain until after the Supreme Court rules in March on the constitutionality of Obamacare. If it's thrown out,we'll have a different general election. If it is upheld, the battle lines will be drawn in fierce fashion. Social conservative, Rick Santorum will likely benefit from the divide.

Would Hispanics support Santorum? Chances are they might! He represents what so many identify with: "A self made success, both professionally and family." The son of an Italian immigrant, Santourm is a devout Roman Catholic. His message is targeted at small business and workers.

Does the Republican Establishment see Hispanic support as pivotal? George W. Bush did! Assuming that they do, do they think it's attainable? Conservatives think so. But there is also the belief that Mitt Romney has long written off the possibility of Hispanic support. It would certainly be more comfortable for him to look at Bob McDonald or another "like minded" soul for his Vice Presidential pick.

Those counting electors know that this conclusion would be dangerous for Republicans. Literally every pollser confirms that the GOP must gain "minimum 30% of the Hispanic votes" to win the election. That was obviously behind the thought of Romney choosing Marco Rubio as his running mate. All indications suggest that Rubio will pass if asked.

Would Rubio run with Santorum? That's a million dollar question! If he did, it would be a difficult ticket to combat for the Democrats. Both Rubio and Santorum are traditional, Roman Catholics. No Presidential ticket has ever included two Roman Catholics. In 2008, 54% of Roman Catholics voted for Barack Obama. Obamacare is suddenly at odds with the church and freedom in general. A serious shift in Catholic voters would spell defeat. Furthermore, Santorum and Rubio represent states that the Democrats cannot afford to lose!

There still might be an outside shot at a brokered convention. Either way, Establishment favorite, Mitt Romney loses. Democrats are quick to profess that Romney would be the most difficult opponent. But, make no mistake! It's a ruse! They intensely fear Marco Rubio. Santorum represents an ideological adversary to Obamacare. Nobody truly knows how Latin surnamed Americans would react to this message; not to mention this GOP ticket.

For Democrats to assume that Hispanics are safely in their camp is foolhardy. For those Eastern Elites who largely comprise the Republican Establishment, it's evidence at how "out of touch" they are with the base of their own party.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

"Why Gingrich, Paul and Santorum MUST stay in the hunt!"

Oh, how the Republican Establishment would love if one or all of the three remaining Romney challengers would exit the race! If history is a predicter, they'll get their wish.

The rules are slightly different this year. There will be no "winner take all" states prior to April first. Even Florida is a good bet to have their delegates divided along the new guidelines. This makes it more difficult to have an early winner. It's a good thing! Even one third of voters selecting Mitt Romney are saying that they would have preferred someone different.

Nary a day passes when another rumor of Newt Gingrich calling it quits is heard. A lot of these "predictions" can be traced to national Romney headquarters in Boston. Newt continues to deny that he's folding. His attacks on the former Massachusetts Governor are sharper. He is joined by the other two suiters. Ron Paul proclaims that "less" and not "more" government is the answer. Rick Santorum insists that he is the "real conservative" in the race.

For now, both the Texas Congressman and former Pennsylvania Senator are in the race. Paul's performance in Nevada wasn't totally discouraging. 19% of the vote should translate to six delegates. A little here, a little there can add up! He's a good bet to pick up more delegates in Minnesota and Maine, two caucus states. He has money. But can he do anything more than influence the platform?

Santorum hopes that with Gingrich not on the Missouri ballot, he stands to win. These delegates are non-binding. That could throw a different variable into the race. We recall that John McCain eeked out a 900 vote win over Mike Huckabee in 2008. He ultimately ended up with all of Missouri's delegates. Little twists like the "Show me summation" could lead to a brokered convention.

What if Mitt Romney falls short of the necessary 1144 delegates on first ballot. While it's not likely, it's certainly not out of realm of possibility! If so, then what?

I think it's a safe bet to rule both Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich out! Polls would suggest that Newt would lose decisively to Obama. Paul's position on defense "scares the dickens" out of most Republicans.

The most loyal Paul supporters continue to insist that he is the only Republican who can win the general election. But smart money suggests that Establishment, Wall Street, Mitt Romney types would opt for Obama over Paul.

Newt Gingrich is a smart man and an entertaining speaker. He has some very plausible ideas. But he often seems scattered. Then there's the baggage. A lot of Republicans like Newt with their heart, but their head says "better stay with the more electable Romney."

Is Romney as electable as he first appeared? There have been some minor gaffes that reflected an out-of-touch patrician who is not truly in sinc with mainstream America. He seems content to coast on "the economy" as the single issue that will be enough to replace Barack Obama. But what if unemployment drops under 8% by election day?

Rick Santorum could emerge at the 11th hour as the best alternative. Evangelicals trust him. The Tea Party likes him. "Blue collar" Democrats gravitate to him. But, he needs to win and quickly! A victory in Missouri would keep him in the race. If he were the eventual nominee, he would bring signifcant strengths to the table. Topping them all would be his inside track on the "Keystone State." Pennnsylvania is 54% Italian and 77% Roman Catholic. Unemployment officially tops 10%. This is a state that the Democrats cannot lose. Obama would have an uphill climb making his case for re-election against a "favorite son."

Assuming that Romney didn't tally 1144 delegates on the first ballot, could Santorum, Paul and Gingrich supporters agree on a Romney alternative? This is the million dollar question. It is not definite but probable that Gingrich would have the most delegates of the three. If he came to Tampa with 600 delegates he would be in the best position to nominate a Romney alternative; other than himself. While it wouldn't be Paul, it might be Santorum. But Paul would need to agree and that might not be forthcoming, considering the former Senator's penchant for earmarks and excessive spending. Then what?

A growing number of conservatives are openly talking about "drafting" freshman Senator, Marco Rubio for the nomination. True, at 41 he would be the youngest president in history. His experience, while limited exceeds President Obama's at this same point in 2008. Rubio has rebuffed any and all speculation about interest in the Vice Presidency. Chief Executive is another thing. Let's examine some other reasons why this might be the Republicans best option; assuming they want to win in November.

Currently the economy is tepid at best. It is almost impossible to get hired if you are 55 or older, or if you are just entering the work force. The latter groups is greatly disappointed in Obama. They passionately supported him in 2008. Now, they are looking hard at the Republican field. Rubio would connect with these voters like no other politician. The Florida Senator proved to be the master of social media in his 2010 election. He would be their champion. Pitted against Rubio, Obama would become the "cynical old man," who made excuses and blamed others for his failings.

Many older workers feel that they are being thrown on the garbage heap. In reality, many 55+ workers have been self employed in past times. The Obama regulations have been especially unkind to small business. Marco Rubio is exceptionally small business friendly. Where Mitt Romney caters to Fortune 500 companies, Rubio applauds "mom and pop business started in the bedroom or basement."

Rubio talks American exceptionalism. He makes the case of "why" our system is and always has been the world's best. He positions the Obama agenda as akin to Western Europeon socialism. His message is truly to the self made man and why people come to America. While the other candidates attempt to compare themselves to Ronald Reagan, Marco Rubio is Ronald Reagan; with a flavor of Thomas Jefferson. Americans, young and old, of all races see this.

That's why Marco Rubio would defeat Barack Obama. And defeat him decisively, perhaps with as many as 400 electoral votes! Married to an immigrant, the son of exiles, he is the ultimate nightmare opponent for Obama and the Democrats.

True, Marco Rubio has no foreign policy experience. But a thoughtful V.P. select would be Condoleeza Rice. The former Secretary of State expertly fills the gap and with it brings another key voting block to the table: Professional women, many of whom would be Independents.

A Rubio-Rice ticket would signal a new day in the Republican party. Gone would be the "party of old white men." It would be replaced by a new generation of Americans who embraced the traditional American standard. Both Marco Rubio and Condoleeza Rice know the meaning of "American Exceptionalism."

That is why it is important for Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum to stay in the race. None might win the prize. But the winner would be America.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Game Changer Needed for Romney Victory.

As difficult as it may be, Republicans throughout the country need to face the hard, cold facts. One of three "game changers" need to take place if Mitt Romney is to defeat Barack Obama in the general election. Let's evaluate them.

"Game changer number one"- The U.S. unemployment rate will need to do a quick reversal. As of February 3rd, 2012, it is 8.3%. Republicans point out that the number is skewed by the shrinking work force. Eric Erickson of Red State points out that we are "deriving the final number based on a ratio and not an absolute number." The "ratio" method puts the real unemployment rate "slightly higher than 11%." Most Republicans conclude that it is much higher than that! The Democrats are dancing in the streets with the new numbers. Expect the media to spin them in Obama's favor. Mitt Romney will have an uphill, if not impossible task of discrediting them.

Game Changer Number two"- Something big, likely catastrophic must happen in the world causing oil prices to drastically spike. For example, if Isreal hits Iran, it would almost certainly lead to a confrontation and a delay in oil shipments. The strait of Hormuz might temporarily close. Nobody knows where Libya might go! Eqypt is looking increasingly unstable. The Syrian Government, with the support of Russia, is holding its ground, unappologetic and defiant. The slightest altercation could result in a spike in oil prices. If the price of a gallon of gasoline reached $5 per gallon, Obama would be blamed. This would benefit Romney who has supported domestic energy production.

"Game Changer Number three"- As unlikely as it appears, there may yet be
a challenge to Barack Obama's citizenship. A Georgia lawsuit that would have kept him off the March 6th ballot failed. While the president has posted his birth certificate on the White House website, many remain unconvinced. The mainstream media has attempted to whistle this suggestion down the road of absurdity and insanity. But, make no mistake! There are millions of Americans who believe that Barack Obama was not born within our shores. The slightest new evidence could tip the scales in favor of the Republicans.

These "game changers" aside, Republicans look to be following the same losing path of 2008. A flawed, archaic process again has resulted in their nominating the wrong candidate. A "Maverick" moderate who had gone against conservative positions was the recipe for a loss four years ago. This years choice has historically demonstrated changeable positions on most key issues!

Haven't we learned something! Or is it simply a matter of the system being rigged to benefit America's ruling class. It goes back to two liberal, Democrat leaning states choosing the Republican nominee. The result is a mess and likely another general election defeat.

A hopelessly flawed Newt Gingrich is floundering. Any hope of a brokered convention will rest on how long Gingrich can stay in the race.

Ron Paul might end his candidacy sometime in March. His support is solid and he does have money to continue. But could he actually show up in Tampa with enough delegates to make an impact? His hard core supporters continue to insist that he is the "only Republican who can win" in November.

Which bring us to Rick Santorum. He actually might make things interesting. He has Evangelical support. The Tea Party should follow suit. He would be a "favorite son" of Pennsylvania, a "must win" state for Democrats. But, there is one major concern: He's broke! Like Paul and Gingrich, the question becomes, can he go the distance?

It is important that Gingrich, Paul and Santorum stay in the race. If they do, there is an outside chance that Romney will fall short of the necessary number to win on the first ballot. If he does, the election could be saved for Republicans!

In the unlikely event that Romney fails to win the necessary votes on the fist ballot, would the alternative be limited to Gingrich, Paul and Sautorum? No. That's what could truly make for an interesting finish.

Stay tuned.