Thursday, March 29, 2007

National Journal Rankings: Giuliani First, Romney Third

The new National Journal Rankings have Rudy Giuliani in first place and Romney in third. Romney has been in third place for a few months now, but the news is that McCain has relinquished the top spot. This is obviously just one organization's opinion, but they do get a lot of respect.

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Endorsements and polls

In honor of my esteemed collegue, Marc, I give you a news update:

Mitt Romney hits the jackpot: “Romney's campaign announced Wednesday that S. Craig Lindner, co-president of American Financial Group and CEO of Great American Financial Resources, will be co-chair of Romney's Ohio fundraising effort, along with Ames Travel Service president Nancy Donovan…Locking down the Lindners is a pretty big score for the Romney campaign, since there are untold numbers of other corporate-types in this part of the world who generally follow the Lindner family's lead when it comes to campaign contributions.”

Beauprez endorses Romney for president: “Former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez of Colorado endorsed fellow Republican Mitt Romney for president Wednesday…Beauprez, in a mass e-mail, said Romney had the right "political philosophy" as well as the experience and leadership skills necessary to be president.”

Finally, the New York Sun reports the results of the latest Zogby poll. The Sun notes a choice that the poll made:

In this Zogby poll, we can't look at Mr. Gingrich's support for a simple reason: They decided to take Mr. Gingrich (and Condi Rice) out of their polls on the assumption that neither is running for president. While, with Condi, I think that makes sense, it's not terribly helpful to have Mr. Gingrich out of the mix.

While the rise of Thompson has had some interesting effects on the polls, most of these early numbers will be aberrational. Essentially Thompson is the flavor of the week and the polls reflect that. Slate describes it this way:

Thompson's chief appeal is emotional…Authenticity and star power conjure visions of Ronald Reagan. But Reagan had genuine experience running something—namely the state of California. Thompson's résumé is thin—an undistinguished eight years in the Senate, an acting career, and a youthful turn as co-counsel in the Watergate hearings. Supporters try to pump up his résumé by boasting that he shepherded John Roberts through his confirmation hearings—but that was the legal equivalent of walking Michael Jordan onto the court.

Update: The DeMoines Register is also reporting the Zogby poll numbers for Iowa:

25% Giuliani
19% McCain
11% Romney
7% F. Thompson

I don't want to make too much of this and the national poll by Zogby, but it seems like Romney has more staying power than the Thompson crowd has given him credit for. We'll see how the polls trend for the next few weeks to see, but it would be very premature to abandon the Romney campaign.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Romney to pay commission to student fundraisers

From a recent Salt Lake Tribune article, "He's offering to pay a percentage-based commission to students collecting cash for his White House bid."

"'It's legal but considered by professional fundraisers to be unethical,' says Paul Ryan, who heads the Federal Elections Commission program at the Washington-based Campaign Legal Center."

My question is not rhetorical: what makes a commission to students any less ethical than the set salary that the GOP pays Ken Mehlman the RNC Chairman in what is largely, albeit nowhere near exclusively, a fundraising capacity?

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A 15 minute speech

The American Thinker blog has a posting entitled “Mitt Romney Is a Big Government Conservative”. What does Steven M. Warshawsky give as evidence? After citing an example of Romney making government more efficient, Warshawsky says:

But instead of returning the saved money to the taxpayers, Romney stated that they were able to use the money for other, more important services. As Romney explained, "efficiency is desperately needed" -- not that the size of government needs to be reduced.
Warshawsky continues that somehow congressional gridlock will prevent Romney from managing effectively:

Perhaps he will be a better manager than President Bush but he will have to contend with a hostile and intransigent Congress and bureaucracy that will oppose any serious effort to bring "business management principles" to the operations of government.
Apparently Warshawsky feels that the Massachusetts legislature was friendlier to Romney and his “business management principles.” Warshawsky then proceeds to criticize Romney for the order of points he talked about and for not mentioning others.
Competition with China: “But the message I came away with is of a top-down, government-led effort in these areas.”

Fighting jihadists: “How this could be a lesser priority than economic competition from China, I don't understand, and Romney did not explain.”

Energy independence: “Frankly, either Romney has forgotten his basic economics or he is pandering on environmental issues.”

Immigration and Health Care: “Incredibly, Romney did not address the immigration problem, or the seemingly inexorably slide towards socialized medicine.”

All this might seem to be a serious indictment of Romney’s speech until you realize that earlier in the post Warshawsky says that “Romney spoke for about 15 minutes.” I guess that Warshawsky has high expectations for a 15 minute speech and how detailed the proposals can be. Warshawsky has some substantive critiques of Romney’s proposals which I will address in subsequent posts.

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McCain on McCain-Feingold

Assessing Fred

Much has been made of the still unannounced candidacy of Fred Thompson and its effect on the Romney campaign. Certainly there is a compelling case for Fred Thompson to run, as with several candidates. Still, the buzz around the candidates is mostly name recognition at this point. USA Today states it this way:
One reason for Thompson's fast start is name identification, says Republican strategist Rich Galen. "More people watch him every week on TV than will vote in total next Feb. 5," he says, the day of primaries in about a dozen states.

Galen also notes, however, that neither Giuliani nor Clinton can yet claim the allegiance of a majority. "In both parties, at least two-thirds of the members are looking for alternatives or at least options," he says. That provides an opening for contenders such as Thompson or Gore who aren't running — at least so far.
So other than name recognition, what does Thompson bring to the table? The Fix’s Chris Cillizza sums it up like this:
Combine Thompson's capacity for fundraising in his home state with his starpower and his acceptability to social conservatives and you have a package that no other candidate in the field offers.
Perhaps it is a unique thing to be able to raise funds in Tennessee, but it is hardly defining of potential presidents to be able to raise funds in their home state. That leaves Thompson’s star power and acceptability to social conservatives. But how acceptable to social conservatives is Thompson? Chris Cillizza lists this collection of positions:

Thompson -- along with McCain -- was one of the main backers of campaign finance reform legislation that is roundly despised by social conservatives.

And when he ran for the Senate in 1994, Thompson was routinely described as a supporter of abortion rights. (Confirmed here, here, and here, although his record appears consistently pro-life)
Whether conservatives will give him a pass on these issues is unclear, but Thompson’s candidacy certainly raises some of the same questions on the issues that Romney’s does.

Lastly, Thompson’s star power. Certainly, as stated by USA Today, Thompson has more exposure than almost any candidate through his TV role. Despite this, Thompson seems to lack a fire for the grind of campaigning. Chris Cillizza again states:
Two factors make a bid by Thompson an ill-advised proposition -- the incredibly early start of the 2008 campaign and the former senator's well-known distaste for the nuts and bolts of campaigning.

Thompson's slow start is not insurmountable, but given his reputation as a less-than-enthusiastic campaigner, the lead he's spotted the front-runners makes more of a difference. This reputation also begs the question: If Thompson doesn't rise to the challenge of campaigning, how can we expect him to rise to the challenge of governing and managing the nation's beauracracy? There is no question that Mitt Romney has the ability and capacity to do both.

Ultimately, Thompson's flirtation seems more a phenomenon of celebrity than of substance. Personally I like Fred Thompson, but more for his role on Law and Order than his politics (which is by no means a knock on his politics). Right now the polls indicate that conservatives are still searching for their ideal candidate. I think this is more a function of the loss of the last election than anything. They’re looking for that person to knock it out of the park instead of looking at the consistent producers already in the line-up. Mitt Romney's ability is what distinguishes him from Thompson, in my mind. Romney has consistently produced great results wherever he has been. Regardless of previous statements, Romney's record of accomplishment stands alone.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Should Romney follow Kennedy’s speech?

Bruce Wilson thinks so. Wilson, previously a self described protestant and now a converted Mormon, writes in the Baltimore Sun that Romney should follow JFK’s speech proclaiming separation of church and personal politics:

If a candidate truly believes in a church, its principles are likely to be the most fundamental building blocks of that person's character. And personal character is always one of the key attributes voters should consider when electing a president. Thus, it seems obvious that voters should try to ascertain both the depth of a candidate's faith and the primary principles of that faith.

But as Mr. Kennedy discovered in 1960, members of other faiths who have an ax to grind are more than willing to fill the vacuum, turning theological molehills into mountains of misconception…Mr. Romney should guard against misinformation defining his faith by speaking openly about it when asked.
The topic of whether Romney should make a grand pronouncement of independence from his church on the subject of national politics has been one that has perplexed me. As Wilson describes, there is a lot of bad information about the LDS Church out there and it will certainly play a role in Romney’s campaign. On the other hand, talking openly, as Wilson advocates, about Romney’s faith invites more questions and emphasis to be put on religious theology than political philosophy.

So what are the benefits versus the detriments of making such a Kennedyan speech? The expected benefit of such a speech is that the religious obstacle will be removed for voters who would not otherwise consider Romney. This argument assumes that the religious barrier for Romney is the same as it was for Kennedy. While not being an expert in the Kennedy campaign or politics at the time, the obstacle for Kennedy was that he would not exercise independence from Catholic leadership. This seems a different point than the one that confronts Romney. It is not his independence that is questioned (while there have been traces of that), but the substance of LDS religious practices and doctrines. To overcome the charge facing Kennedy he proclaimed independence in the political sphere. How does Romney overcome fears about LDS doctrines? He cannot easily proclaim independence from them as Kennedy could quell fears about political independence. Perhaps I have mis-framed the issue, but it seems a tough speech to make.

On the other hand, it could be that by making a speech like Kennedy, Romney would end the questions asked to him about his faith. This would be a significant benefit to Romney by being able to focus on the political issues. He would be freer to quickly direct religious questions to church leaders and focus his message on politics.

I believe, however, that Romney is better off not making a speech about the role of religion in his candidacy. While Wilson makes the point that religion is central to character and should therefore be explored, I think that character is inferred from the way that a candidate speaks and acts. The religious principles that underlie that behavior and speech are less important than the result. By injecting religion into character Romney runs the significant risk of having the LDS standards of behavior (as much as I believe in them) become more important than Romney’s actual behavior. No, I think that emphasizing the commonalities that Romney has with people of other faiths is the right direction. It gives voters the more palatable choice of accepting Romney alone without having to swallow the entire LDS Church as a whole. I think that making a Kennedy-like speech forces voters to make a much bigger leap than Romney alone presents.

In sum, I think that Romney has chosen the right path so far, emphasizing the things that he has in common with voters and allowing them to make their judgment of him be based on politics and not religion. Indeed, it allows Romney to sell his personal accomplishments and qualities, which I believe are presidential.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Romney pulls close in polls

It seems like the Romney campaign is picking up some steam. In New Hampshire and Michigan Romney is making the Republican nomination very competitive. In New Hampshire, Franklin Pierce College polled 400 likely Republican primary voters:

In Michigan, an EPIC-MRA poll shows similar results:

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Hatch On Board

It's official... "Sen. Orrin Hatch is backing Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's presidential candidacy, the Romney campaign announced Monday" (SL Trib).

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Romney News Round Up

Kyle already threw up the LKL videos, but here are a few other nuggets from the press worth looking over:

Swift Boat Money Man Raising $ For Romney (Washington Post) - Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post is reporting that one of primary financiers of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth 527 (he donated $4.5 million to the group) has signed on to raise money for Mitt Romney. Cillizza points out why he thinks this is meaningful:

First, it likely means a significant financial windfall for Romney's campaign.... Second, the Romney team is likely to paint Perry's decision as a slap in the face to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).... Third is the symbolism of Romney linking himself to Perry. No single person is more closely identified with the Swift Boat Veterans and their controversial campaign to discredit John Kerry than Perry.

Romney's Stratified Fundraising System (Washington Post): The same article above also notes that "Romney has created a stratified bundling system based on the "Rangers" and "Pioneers" model employed by Bush in 2000 and 2004. To be a "Founder," an individual must raise $250,000 for the campaign; a "Statesman" is charged with collecting $100,000, and a "Patriot" $50,000."

Book Says Romney Is Able To Overcome (Deseret News): The Deseret News takes a look at conservative pundit and blogger Hugh Hewitt and his book A Mormon in the White House? 10 Things Every American Should Know about Mitt Romney. Hewitt boils down concerns about an LDS president to three general issues:

First, some worry that an LDS president would be controlled by church leaders in Salt Lake City. "That is the easiest of the objections to dismiss," Hewitt said.... The second objection may be the toughest for Romney, Hewitt said. It comes from some evangelical conservatives who worry that a Mormon president "would greater legitimize Mormon missionary work abroad and lead to more converts".... The third objection is that Mormonism is "just too weird," and anyone who believes in such "fantasy" should not be elected.
Romney's Words Grow Hard On Immigration (Boston Globe): The Globe reports, with audio included, on how Romney's rhetoric on immigration and the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill has changed markedly over the past two years. The audio clips are from 2005 (he made similar comments to the Lowell Sun last March).

In a November 2005 interview with the Globe, Romney described immigration proposals by McCain and others as "quite different" from amnesty, because they required illegal immigrants to register with the government, work for years, pay taxes, not take public benefits, and pay a fine before applying for citizenship.

"That's very different than amnesty, where you literally say, 'OK, everybody here gets to stay,' " Romney said in the interview. "It's saying you could work your way into becoming a legal resident of the country by working here without taking benefits and then applying and then paying a fine."

Mitt Romney Scrambles To Raise Cash For White House Campaign (AP): The AP reports on Romney's fundraising push this month:

The former Massachusetts governor had scheduled 20 fundraising events this month, all in advance of an end-of-the-month deadline that will give the first true look at the fundraising prowess of all the 2008 presidential contenders. Reports detailing how much money was raised by March 31, as well as how it was spent, will become public by April 15. The first total is especially important for Romney, who has been trying to elevate his name recognition nationally after placing a distant third behind former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in several national polls gauging the GOP candidates. "What he's trying to do is establish himself as a leading candidate by being able to compete financially with Giuliani and McCain," said Anthony Corrado, a government professor at Colby College who specializes in presidential campaign finance. "If he were to beat one of those guys, that would be a news story."

These fundraising efforts include stops in places that range from unorthodox, like Boise and Southern Utah, to standard fare like Orange County.

Mitt Romney's Son On Dad's 2008 White House Run (Fox News): Tagg Romney was on the Big Story Thursday night talking about his dad's presidential run.

LDS Faith Makes Him Better, Romney Says (Deseret News): The Deseret News reported on Romney's Larry King Live experience, noting in particular his comments on the role of his LDS faith in his campaign and life:
"I have a better marriage because of my faith. My children are better because of my faith. I'm a better person because of my faith," he said. "I think the American public would like to have a person of faith lead the country."
Campaign Additions (Press Releases): Nothing groundbreaking, but a few campaign additions to note:
  • In California this week, Romney announced the co-chairs of his California Finance Committee.
  • In Iowa, Romney announced the chairs of his campaign in Iowa County and also named former Senate Majority Leader Stewart Iverson as an adviser to his presidential campaign efforts in Iowa.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Romney on Larry King - II


Romney on Larry King


One man's switch to Romney

There’s an interesting op-ed in the New Hampshire Union Leader by Michael Moffett, a professor at NHTI-Concord and McCain 2000 supporter. He says that while he supported McCain in 2000 and holds a deep respect for McCain, he feels that Romney is the man that should be president:

The reasons are many, and they include the impressive analysis of the international situation that Romney articulated after his trip to Asia earlier this year…No prospective President can come close to offering the diverse record of executive leadership that Romney can…Our Republican standard bearer should be someone who remains true to our important principles of limited government while celebrating individual responsibility and personal liberty.

Mitt Romney is such a person.
Why the shift from McCain to Romney? Moffett has several reasons ranging from lack of executive experience to ideological differences over McCain-Kennedy and McCain-Feingold.

One notable absence from Moffett’s reasoning: traditional social issues. Moffett does not take the opportunity to distinguish McCain from Romney on social issues. Certainly there are differences, but it is interesting that McCain-Kennedy and McCain-Feingold have become so prominent in conservative circles, even to the point of perhaps eclipsing traditionally prominent social issues like abortion and gay rights. Indeed some of the loudest applause that Romney got in his CPAC speech was for his opposition to McCain-Kennedy and McCain-Feingold. Is this due to the stances of the top-tier candidates on traditional social issues, or is a more significant realignment occurring on conservatives’ priority list?

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Romney "Youtubed" Again

After being distracted by Giuliani for awhile, Youtube has once again turned its gaze back to Romney... this time with Ann and Mitt teaming up on abortion in a 2002 interview:

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Reporter Attacks On The Horizon?

The Hill had an interesting story yesterday on Mitt Romney and the expected Evangelical attacks on his faith that haven't really materialized. GOP Pollster David Hill has a prediction... since Evangelicals haven't attacked, reporters will be the ones that end up attacking:

The Romney campaign has been expecting a torrent of “anti-Mormon prejudice.” But it hasn’t happened. Mitt has mostly been left alone. Most unexpectedly, Evangelical Christians have been reluctant to say much. While my own reading of polls leads me to guess that Evangelicals are evenly split on accepting a Mormon as president, they are united in their silence on the matter.

This is a key development because the liberal mainstream media will now feel free to go after Romney. Most journalists were initially anticipating a Religious Right attack on the former Massachusetts governor. So the press held back from scrutinizing Romney’s faith. In a fight between James Dobson or Jerry Falwell and Mitt Romney, most reporters would have taken the candidate’s side. But barring a situation where “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” Romney is soon going to be fair game for enterprising reporters.

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The Primary Balancing Act

Every presidential primary season candidates face the challenge of reaching out to the party base without painting themselves into a corner by alienating the independents and centrist voters that are required to win a general election. It's a balancing act that successful candidates must master. I'm curious as to how people think Romney is doing in this regard. Two issues in particular have jumped out at me over the past couple of days as I think about Romney and this "balancing act" are immigration and the right to life.
Immigration: Of the GOP front-runners, Romney clearly has the most conservative position on illegal immigration. It makes sense considering it's an issue that many of the conservatives Romney is trying to court feel pretty passionate about. I wonder how his tough talk on "amnesty" will go over in a general election. Hardline stances on immigration purportedly helped to sink a few Republican election bids in the House this past fall and many heavy weights that have influence in the Republican party advocate a much more moderate stance (President Bush, RNC Chair Mel Martinez, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, etc.). There are areas of the country where Romney's hardline clearly doesn't go over well. Florida for instance. This past weekend during his visit there, Romney avoided talking about the issue as much as possible, but still got bruised in the Florida press over it. Yesterday in Arizona, however, he made an effort to emphasize his position, even suggesting state and local police agencies make "deals with the federal government to have their officers trained in enforcing elements of federal immigration law." It doesn't seem to help that this is another issue he seems to have shifted positions on. Just last year he seemed to support what he now lambasts as "amnesty," telling the Lowell Sun that he didn't "believe in rounding up 11 million people and forcing them at gunpoint from our country. With these 11 million people, let’s have them registered, know who they are. Those who’ve been arrested or convicted of crimes shouldn’t be here; those that are here paying taxes and not taking government benefits should begin a process toward application for citizenship, as they would from their home country." Ultimately, I think this is a tough issue for Romney, because he needs the support of the part of the base that feels most strongly about this issue, and yet his position is destined to alienate many who might support him (for example, there is no way anyone who advocates such a hardline on immigration will pick up anywhere near the 41% of the Hispanic vote that Bush picked up in 2004).

Right to Life: Romney's come a long way this past year in his efforts to reassure social conservatives about his position on right-to-life issues. He touts his opposition to abortion and certain forms of stem-cell research at nearly every campaign stop and has brought well-known pro-life advocates like James Bopp onto his campaign. Certainly, this is something that most concede he must do if he wants to burnish his credentials as the "real" conservative in the race and remain competitive in the GOP primaries next year. This past weekend, however, he seemed to push back against social conservatives just a little as he spoke out against the government intervention in the Terri Schiavo case a couple of years ago. Even though this position places him safely with most of the American public, it hurts him among the pro-life base he is currently reaching out to. Many pro-life blogs were quick to denounce his position and Schiavo's brother promptly endorsed Sam Brownback. Add to this Romney's balancing act on stem cell research (opposing somatic cell nuclear transfer (i.e. "therapeutic cloning"), but generally supporting the use of frozen embryos from IVF clinics that would otherwise be discarded. These deviations, again, put him in the mainstream of popular opinion, but they could potentially hurt him in his push for the nomination. He's gone out of his way to brand himself as being with social conservatives on all of these issues, to be contrasted with deviants like McCain and Giuliani.
While the balancing act is a challenge for most politicians, I think it is a particularly difficult one for Romney in this election because he doesn't seem well-positioned to garner the more independent-leaning conservatives who appear to be flocking to Giuliani and McCain at this point. He NEEDS the social conservative voters who are disenchanted with Giuliani and McCain's more moderate positions on a host of issues. Part of me feels like Romney almost has to put off worrying about how he will cast himself as a general election candidate and just focus on the primaries. It may cause a few problems for him image-wise in a general election campaign, but I think he'd prefer to have to deal with those sorts of problems than be watching from the sidelines.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Romney News Round Up

I've been out of commission for almost the past week studying for and taking the MPRE and catching up in school... so I've got a lot of Romney newsclips that I've bookmarked to post. Be prepared for one hell of a news round up:

You Gotta' Have Faith, Mitt (March 7th, Boston Globe): The Globe ran a faux piece on Mitt last week that can at best be described as a pretty pathetic attempt at humor last week. "It was a conversion experience on the road to Des Moines. 'We were driving along in a blizzard and there came a bright beam out of the swirling snow, and then this booming voice,' Mitt Romney says in an imaginary - ah, extraordinary - webcast describing the event. Then, as the former Massachusetts governor recounts things, an authoritative voice intoned: 'You've lost your way. You'd better turn back before it's too late. Follow my light and I'll lead you to the right road.' And so, in that webcast, entitled ''Mitt's First Video Letter to the South Carolinians,' Romney, a Mormon, announces that he is leaving his longtime religion in search of a new faith...."

The Presidential Money Race Is On
(March 8th, McClatchy): "[T]he top three Republicans -- Giuliani of New York, McCain and Romney of Massachusetts-- could raise about $25 million this quarter."

Romney Bets On Tax Cuts To Win (March 8th, Washington Times): The Wash Times notes that "After his well-received speech before the Conservative Political Action Conference here last week, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney met with two key leaders in the Reagan Revolution of the 1980s. Mr. Romney's dinner guests were Jack Kemp, the architect of the Reagan tax cuts that lifted the economy out of a deep recession, and former Rep. Vin Weber of Minnesota, a key leader in the Opportunity Society band of House warriors who fought for lower tax rates to spur economic growth and entrepreneurial expansion." Speaking of the emphasis that Romney has put on conservative economic policies, the paper says "You can tell a lot about politicians by the people around them, and that is especially true in presidential politics. Mr. Romney has already put together a stellar team of economic heavyweights...."

W. Va.'s Coal Part Of Romney's Vision For America (March 9th, Charleston Daily): "Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney included West Virginia coal in his vision of an energy-independent U.S., during the Mountain State's first taste of an already busy 2008 campaign season. Romney advocated coal-to-liquid and coal-to-gas efforts along with other energy sources such as biodiesel fuel and wind, solar and nuclear power." Coinciding with his visit to West Virginia, Romney also released a policy briefing on supporting cleaner coal technologies.

Oops! I'm Where? (March 9th, Cabinet Press): On a recent trip to New Hampshire, Romney seemed to forget where he was mistakenly referring to the town he was in as Hollis, Massachusetts. The local paper reported that the crowd "laughed and forgave him." Romney ended up winning over many in the crowd, even one liberal leaning attendee who said he thought Romney was “honest, intelligent and moral.”

History May Repeat Itself With Romney (March 9th, Deseret News): Columnist Lee Benson discusses the recent Romney-JFK comparisons and concludes that a religion barrier may again be broken.

Mitt Stirs Up Old Caffeine Controversy (March 9th, SL Trib): SL Trib humorist Robert Kirby writes on what concerns him about Romney's run for president... the inevitable focus on caffeine. "For example, several weeks ago the Boston Globe reported that Mitt is strictly prohibited by Mormonism from drinking alcohol, coffee, tea and soft drinks containing caffeine. I winced when I read this. Not for Mitt's sake, but rather my own. It's been a while since the last big (and pointless) caffeine-and-Mormons debate."

Miami Cool To Romney's Stance (March 9th, Miami Herald): The Miami Herald is reporting that Romney's position on immigration might be a problem in Florida. "
After the speech, when reporters asked him about his immigration policy, Romney said he advocates tighter border control and ''employment identification cards'' so businesses don't hire illegal immigrants. Some Republican leaders at the event said his positions could alienate Miami-Dade's influential Hispanic population. 'He's going to have problems in South Florida,' said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose "Pepe'' Diaz, who was part of a group of elected officials that met with Romney before the event." On the 8th, Republican consultant Ann Navarro wrote an op-ed in the Miami Herald declaring Romney to be "wrong on immigration."

Can You Translate A Flip-Flop (March 9th, Boston Herald): The Boston Herald takes aim at Romney for running ads in Spanish just a week after saying "English needs to be the language that is spoken in America. We cannot be a bilingual nation like Canada."

Right Jabs Floors Mitt: Mass. Repubs. Rip Flip-Flopping Mitt (March 9th, Boston Herald): "A
Web-based “truth” squad is poised to chase Mitt Romney in an effort to trip him up on the presidential campaign trail - and its members are Republicans from his very own Bay State. Founded by GOP consultants Holly Robichaud and Ron Vining, the Mass Republicans for Truth plans to launch a nationwide attack on the former governor’s record - including radio and TV ads. he group will post “The Romney Report” on its website on Monday, vowing to expose his flip-flops on a host of key issues, from abortion to taxes to gay rights. Calling its mission “educational,” the group is one of the controversial political action committees labeled “527s” named after the federal tax exemption that allows them to exist primarily as vehicles to influence elections."

The Mitt I Know (March 10th, Tampa Tribune): Over the weekend, Florida's former Lt. Governor Toni Jennings wrote an op-ed that gushed over Romney's candidacy. "I have been very fortunate to get to know Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, on a personal level. Mitt and Ann live their private lives in exactly the same way they live their public lives - with compassion, honesty, faithfulness, and an optimistic and hopeful belief in the strength of the American people. I look forward to telling Floridians about Romney, and why they should believe in him - because I know that Mitt Romney is the strong conservative leader right for the job."

Mitt Romney Courts South Florida Voters (March 10th, AP): "Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney courted South Florida voters Friday, calling Cuban leaders Fidel Castro and his brother Raul, 'Cuban monsters.'" He went on to say "I look forward to the day when the stain of Castro is finally washed from the soil of Cuba...."

Florida Is Key In Romney Campaign (March 10th, AP): "Regardless of whether Florida moves up its primary, the state will remain critical in the presidential election, presidential hopeful Mitt Romney told reporters after delivering a speech to Republican activists on Saturday.... Romney knows the state is important, and the professor went so far as to call Florida 'the cornerstone to his campaign.' If Romney can pull ahead in Florida, other southern, more fundamental states may follow...."

Romney Launches Early Florida Push (March 10th, Palm Beach Post): The Post's Crowley describes how a push for a Florida straw poll in October might have been scuttled by Florida Governor Charlie Crist largely because Romney was in a position to win. "Romney built an organization in Florida so quickly that his top Republican rivals, U.S. Sen. McCain of Arizona and former New York Mayor Giuliani, have been forced to step up their efforts in the Sunshine State.... Romney strategists were carefully laying out plans for recruiting delegates, organizing rallies and using the convention vote, which would be eagerly watched by the national media, to demonstrate that Romney would be a better party nominee than McCain or Giuliani. 'It is a very big deal that he lost having the straw ballot,' said a McCain adviser who has worked on several presidential campaigns. 'If anyone doesn't think so, they are not seeing the forest for the trees.'"

Mitt Camp Fires Back At Critics; Romney Foes Claim Threat By GOP Brass (March 10th, Boston Herald): "Mitt Romney’s campaign blasted a pair of Massachusetts Republicans bent on "exposing" the ex-governor’s record in his race for the White House, while the duo said they were threatened by a top Bay State GOP official. Romney campaign spokesman Kevin Madden lashed out at the founders of MassRepublicans for Truth - GOP strategists Holly Robichaud and Ron Vining - calling them "disgruntled political operatives.'"

In Romney's Bid, His Wallet Opens To The Right (March 11th, NY Times): "
In the months before announcing his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts contributed tens of thousands of dollars of his personal fortune to several conservative groups in a position to influence his image on the right."

Romney Birthday Shows GOP Age Spread (March 11th, AP): "Mitt Romney turns 60 on Monday, a personal milestone but also a line of demarcation in the unfolding race for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. While the birthday moves the former Massachusetts governor closer to the senior set, it leaves him a relative fountain of youth compared to another leading contender for the GOP nomination [... the 70-year-old John McCain]."

Romney Says Government Wrong in Schaivo Case (March 11th, St. Petersburg Times): In a move possibly calculated to show some independence on Romney's part, he says he opposed government intervention in the Terri Schaivo case: "He's campaigning hard for support from Republican social conservatives, but presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Saturday he disagreed with the government's intervention in the Terri Schiavo case. 'I think it's probably best to leave these kinds of matters in the hands of the courts,' Romney said in a television interview airing today." A day after Romney's comments, Terri Schaivo's brother Bobby Schindler endorsed Sam Brownback and some conservative bloggers claimed it cut against Romney's pro-life creds.

Romney Isn't The First To Flip On Abortion (March 11th, LA Times): Jan Hook looks at the many candidates who have flipped on abortion with varying degrees of success (Kucinich, H.W. Bush, Gore, Reagan, Gephardt, among others):
"This year, Republicans are trying to come to grips with the 180-degree turn on abortion executed by Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who has become a top-tier presidential contender and the favorite of many GOP conservatives.... As the history of abortion maneuvers shows, voters have come to accept some changes of heart as sincere and durable." The conservative news source Newsmax ran a similar story this weekend touting Reagan's conversion on abortion.

Romney Places Focus On Family (March 11th, Boston Globe): "At major recent appearances, Romney has gone out of his way to showcase his wife, Ann, their 38-year marriage, and the Rockwell-esque family -- five sons, five daughters-in-law, 10 grandchildren -- it has produced. 'I came in with my sweetheart, who's here in the front row, I think, somewhere,' he said at last weekend's Conservative Political Action Committee conference in Washington. 'Ann, would you come on up and just say hi? Here comes my sweetheart, Ann Romney.' She laid it on thick, too, expressing excitement at their 38th anniversary this month. ('Glad you reminded me!' Romney rejoined.) Such displays of marital bliss may appear warm and spontaneous, but underneath lies a shrewd political calculation. The couple's message is unmistakable: Romney is the lone leading GOP presidential candidate or prospective candidate still on his first marriage. More important , perhaps, he's the only one who isn't an admitted adulterer. With 'family values' a defining principle for many primary voters and competitors' past foibles making headlines, Romney is clearly trumpeting an aspect of his candidacy that none of his top-tier rivals can match, observers say.

Romney's Faith Divides GOP (March 12th, Greenville News): Dan Hoover examines how Romney's is dividing religious conservatives in South Carolina. Some have been won over, others don't seem like they ever could be. Hoover quotes the clairvoyant Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, saying "When this eternal campaign began, I thought that Romney could overcome the Mormonism problem with a JFK-like speech about religious tolerance... Now I am not so sure. The polls have stunned me. People seem to have little hesitation about voting for a black, a woman, a Jew, a twice-divorced person -- everyone except a Mormon. The polygamy angle is hurting Romney. Ironically, he's one of the few top candidates in the family values GOP who has only had one wife."

Romney's Right On Second Amendment (March 12th, Idaho State Journal): US Senator Larry Craig pens an op-ed defending Romney's position on gun rights: "Fact is, if Romney just talked about his support for the Second Amendment and the rights of gun owners, that would be welcome. But Romney has been doing more than talking — he has been taking action for several years, and his approach would be a welcome addition to the gun debates in Washington, D.C."

Blogger Spotlight: Evangelicals For Mitt (March 12th, Hotline): Hotline inteviewed blogger Nancy French. One soundbite: "We started EvangelicalsforMitt in June of 2006, after we saw first hand the excitement that many Southern Christian voters had about Gov. Romney. He placed second at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference’s straw poll held in Memphis (after only Tennessee’s own son Bill Frist, meaning he beat every current candidate). We thought it’d be interesting to explore his candidacy through the lens of our faith."

Intermittent Republican With A Loose Grip On His Ideology
(March 13th, Indianapolis Star): Conservative Fellow Deroy Murdock takes a critical look at Romney's past donations to and support of Democratic candidates: "By itself, Romney's spell as a Democratic donor shouldn't panic Republicans. But given his multifarious inconsistencies elsewhere, this news reinforces concerns that Romney is an ideological construction site, constantly growing into a structure still unseen and perhaps unenvisioned."

"Pink Taco" Publicist Is Romney's Arizona Director (March 13th, Arizona Republic): The Arizona Republic's political reporter highlights the fact that Romney's Arizona Director has some ties with some questionable ties: "Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican presidential candidate who will visit Arizona today, has tapped Jason Rose as his state director here. Rose is the local public relations consultant who last year helped generate national buzz for the provocative Pink Taco restaurant in Scottsdale."

Will Mormon Faith Hurt Bid For White House? (March 13th, USA Today): USA Today explores Romney's faith and the question of whether it will hurt his bid for the White House. I think it's a fair article that has some interesting soundbites: "[BYU Professor David] Magleby and [Boston College Professor Alan] Wolfe say Romney should heed Arizona Sen. John McCain's experience in South Carolina's 2000 primary. McCain was accused, among other things, of having illegitimate children, betraying veterans and being brainwashed while a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Magleby predicts polygamy will be "a major attack point below the radar and maybe above." Wolfe says such attacks will start "the minute you get into the Republican primaries and somebody gets desperate."

The Conservative Right Matures (March 13th, The Citizen): Conservative Pundit Cal Thomas writes "Conservative Evangelical Christian voters have come a long way in a short time. From their nearly unanimous condemnation of Bill Clinton for his extramarital affairs, a growing number of these “pro-family” voters appear ready to accept several Republican presidential candidates who do not share their ideal of marriage and faith." This certainly seems to open the field up for a candidate like Romney, who in the past would have been a hard sell for the religious right. "While “character issues” can overlap with other concerns when considering for whom to vote, conservative evangelicals are beginning to see them as less important than who can meet the multiple challenges faced by the nation."

And Lastly, Some Endorsements and Campaign Additions:
  • Last Wednesday, March 7th, US Congressman Mike Conaway from Texas endorsed Romney. Conaway is the 24th Representative to endorse Romney.
  • Last Friday, Romney announced that Alicia Gonzalez, President of Media Relations Group, would serve as Romney's Florida Hispanic Media Adviser.

Muddled GOP Primary Getting More Muddled

The Republican primary field grew this past week with Congressman Ron Paul announcing his intentions to run for president. In light of a recent NY Times poll showing 6 in 10 Republicans unsatisfied with the current crop of candidates, it seems almost certain that more GOP presidential hopefuls will decide to throw dice as well in the coming months. Expressions of interest coupled with non-announcements on the parts of Former Senator Fred Thompson, Senator Chuck Hagel, and Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have gotten a lot of press and they make the present field murkier than ever.

Another emerging wildcard in the race is the growing number of states that are moving their primaries up to earlier February. “This primary season is turning into the most challenging Rubik’s Cube that we’ve faced in our lifetime,” said Benjamin L. Ginsberg, Romney's legal counsel. The New York Times highlighted the difficulties this poses for the candidates, especially lesser known candidates like Romney, in a recent article:
The trickle of states moving their 2008 presidential primaries to Feb. 5 has turned into an avalanche, forcing all the presidential campaigns to reconsider every aspect of their nominating strategy — where to compete, how to spend money, when to start television advertising — as they gird for the prospect of a 20-state national primary day.... There is near-universal agreement among officials of both parties that the new calendar will give a huge advantage to well-known candidates, in particular Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Giuliani, Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama. Beyond that, California and New Jersey are likely to be more receptive to Mr. Giuliani than are Iowa and South Carolina, with their many conservative voters.
Acknowledging these challenges, Romney seems to be trying to position himself as the only acceptable alternative to the current frontrunners, Giulaini and McCain. If no other formidable candidates enter the race, I think it is a sound strategy. I think Romney is going to have a tough time if a Newt Gingrich jumps in on the action though.

A few notes of interest on a handful of GOP candidates:

Fred Thompson
Former Tennessee Senator and current Law & Order star Fred Thompson hinted over the weekend that he might be interested in throwing his hat into the presidential race. Initial reactions among most conservatives were incredibly positive... Which begs the question, who would this hurt most? At this point I'd have to say Romney. Thompson's dive into presidential politics might result in a Gingrich-like effect, spurring defections from Romney's current cache of congressional endorsements and potentially split the key constituency he is courting in the Republican primaries. Yesterday, Congressman John J. Duncan said he would withdraw his support for Romney were Thompson to run while Bill Frist openly urged Thompson to run on his VOLPAC blog.

Newt Gingrich
The Wall Street Journal had a run-down on Newt on Saturday that discussed the shadow Newt is currently casting over the Republican nomination: "Whether he runs or not, the very notion of a Gingrich candidacy says as much about the glum mood among Republicans and the seeming weakness of the current crop of candidates as it does about Mr. Gingrich." Gingrich's recent revelation to James Dobson of marital infidelity during the Clinton impeachment is viewed by some pundits as a "tactical move in an unfolding strategy" toward an ultimate run for president.

Chuck Hagel
Hagel announced he's not announcing... yet. Is he waiting for conservative dissatisfaction with the current candidates to foment and its unease with Bush and the war in Iraq to solidify in order to pad his candidacy?

John McCain
Lindsey Graham touting McCain (...I think): "'THIS IS NOT Luke Skywalker here,' said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), discussing his friend and Senate colleague John McCain's second run for the presidency. 'This is a totally different campaign.'"

Rudy Giuliani
Giuliani gets "Youtubed" again... The AP is reporting though that Giuliani's moderate stances are not hindering his candidacy. Interestingly, some conservatives seem more unsettled with Giuliani's multiple marriages than his liberal social views. Senator David Vitter, meanwhile, explains his choice to support Giuliani.

Mike Huckabee
In an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune last week, Mike Huckabee, a one-time Baptist pastor, said he thinks a candidate's religion is relevant: "'I think its fair game to ask a person about his or her faith... I mean, I'm asked about mine all the time. I don't find that offensive.' Asked whether Romney's faith is fair game, Huckabee said candidates who say they are religious should speak out about their faith. 'I find that very important because my faith will let people know what my judgments are based on, what my values system is about and where it comes from.' Huckabee said. 'It's a good predictor of how I would likely make decisions and what I think are the important factors in that.'"

I wasn't sure where to throw this, but Time magazine had an interesting article last week on the Republican search for a candidate:
For the G.O.P., 2008 looks like a daunting year. It's hard for one party to win three straight Presidential elections even in the best of times. (It's only happened once in the last 50 years). And the radical unpopularity of the Bush Administration and the Iraq war will make it harder still. So conservatives should be thrilled they have candidates like McCain, Giuliani and Romney, with proven appeal to Democrats and independents. And they should understand that, given the dismal image of the Washington G.O.P., a Republican Presidential nominee must maintain a maverick or outsider image to have any shot at victory. Instead, even as McCain, Giuliani and Romney move frantically in their ideological direction, conservative activists are raising the bar and threatening to stay home next fall.

Hewitt on Hannity and Colmes

Also from last night right after the Romney interview

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Romney on Hannity and Colmes

From last night


Monday, March 12, 2007

The Nation v. National Review on Romney's Riches

The Nation and National Review are bickering over Romney’s money. Max Blumenthal at The Nation says that Romney has been buying off conservatives in his run for the presidency. Blumenthal insinuates that the National Review gave Romney some positive press from Kathryn Jean Lopez in response to some Romney donations:

As I reported in the Nation last November, Lopez was given a private reception by Romney last October. The visit yielded a fawning blog post and a softball interview in which NR editors acknowledged that KLo "has some pro-Romney tendencies." What the National Review failed to acknowledge was that Romney donated $10,000 to its in-house think tank, the National Review Institute, right before declaring his presidential candidacy.
NRO’s Lopez takes Blumenthal to task over his version of the story:

If my — or NRO/NR's — pro-life creds could be bought for $5,000, I suspect candidates would be whipping out their checkbooks much more frequently. The contention that my view of Romney was somehow transformed in October because of the NRI donation is laughable, as any Google search or click on my NRO archive would suggest. My first friendly-to-Romney piece was posted in early February 2005 — as he was taking on Harvard on cloning.
You can read Lopez’s full retort here. Blumenthal, however, does not single out NRO. He goes on to suggest that the Federalist Society, Focus on the Family, and Grover Norquist have been bought off. Blumenthal also notably scathes Jay Sekulow who has endorsed Romney and serves as an advisor to the campaign:

Sekulow happens to be one of the biggest hucksters in American politics: through his 501 c-3, the American Center for Law and Justice, he solicits millions in small donations from little old ladies, then uses it to pay his family, finance his two mansions, private jet, and himself -- Sekulow "earns" over $600,000, an unheard of salary for the director of a non-profit group. Sekulow should feel at home on the mercenary-minded Romney campaign.
Blumenthal suffers from the same prejudices as Daniel Gross from Slate, as outlined here. Blumenthal takes the opportunity to tie together several of his own dislikes, namely Romney, political money, corporate America, and even gratuitously throwing out Jack Abramoff’s name though there is no discernible tie between him and Romney in the article.

Blumenthal is throwing out insinuations that have little to do with Romney and his campaign. Does Romney donate money that he’s raised to causes he supports? Certainly. Does that mean that he’s buying them off? I doubt it, unless national organizations such as the Federalist Society, NRO, and Focus on the Family are so easily bought off. Of course that would seem to be in line with Blumenthal’s world view.

Update: Talk show host and blogger Hugh Hewitt concurs with my analysis and scathes the NY Times article that underlies the Blumenthal article:
If you total the donations "uncovered" by the Times for this article, they total less than $150,000 --hardly chump change, but so small compared to the budgets
of the organizations involved as to mock the premise of the article. The article fails to indicate the number of dry holes Kilpatrick dug and doesn't provide background on the "critics" it cites. Mr. Kilpatrick was personable, and certainly skilled. But this isn't objective journalism. It is agenda journalism.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Newt's Divulgence

Newt Gingrich’s announcement that he was having an affair while pursuing President Clinton for the Lewinsky affair certainly comes at an interesting time. Why now? What purpose is there in announcing? Does this have any presidential impact? Hotair’s Allahpundit has this take:

If anyone benefits from this announcement, I’d say it’s Romney. The more the public finds out about Giuliani’s and Gingrich’s peccadilloes, the more comparatively attractive Mitt becomes. If his camp’s willing to play dirty, I’d expect them to go after McCain’s indiscretions and make the case even clearer to morals voters that there’s only one choice for them among the major candidates.
Do personal indiscretions disqualify someone from representing morals voters? That probably is the question for republican voters in 2008. All three candidates ahead of Romney (I’m lumping in Gingrich even though he hasn’t announced) have had their problems with personal morality. Personally, at this point, I’m not sure how much these types of stories will help Romney. Most notably for Giuliani, voters polled have been willing to overlook the personal lives of candidates. Plus, focusing on the personal past of other candidates opens the door for other candidates to more closely scrutinize Romney’s political past, something that has not been a strong point for him so far.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Romney's numbers on the rise?

So Romney won the straw poll. What does it mean? Will anything change? Well, the new Gallup numbers show a nice change for Romney:
Not all that impressed? Gallup explains the numbers this way:

Mitt Romney stands out as the candidate who is significantly less well known than the others. Over half of Republicans say they don't know enough about Romney to be able to rate him. His image among those Republicans who do know him is quite positive. This suggests the possibility that if Romney maintains his net positive image among Republicans as the campaign progresses, he could be in a position to become more of a factor in the presidential nomination picture.
Admittedly these numbers were taken the same weekend as CPAC and so they likely don’t reflect the increased press received from the straw poll win. However, as Jonathan Martin at the Politico points out, Romney’s numbers have improved since February when he had 27% favorable and 13% unfavorable ratings. The new numbers show a net gain of 12% in favorable versus unfavorable rating.


Hotline TV on Romney's Win at CPAC

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George Will on Romney

In the Washington Post today, George Will argues in behalf of all three GOP frontrunners, quoting an old axiom: "The perfect is the enemy of the good. In politics this means that insisting on perfection in a candidate interferes with selecting a satisfactory one."

In defense of Mitt Romney, Will writes:
At CPAC, Romney gave the most polished speech, touching all the conservative movement's erogenous zones, pointedly denouncing the "McCain-Kennedy" immigration bill and promising to seek repeal of the McCain-Feingold law regulating campaign speech. Romney, however, is criticized by many conservatives for what they consider multiple conversions of convenience -- on abortion, stem cell research, gay rights, gun control. But if Romney is now locked into positions that these conservatives like, why do they care so much about whether political calculation or moral epiphany moved him there?
All three candidates aside, I say there's no one I like to hear talk about "erogenous zones" more than George Will.

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Get Your Romney Campaign Strategy Here

I've been meaning to write a post about this all day, but kept putting it off. Romney's campaign appears to have suffered another "leak" of some sort. The Politico had an interesting article yesterday that discussed Romney's campaign strategy for the next few months. A number of the points it makes, however, seem somewhat obvious. Briefly, he plans to:
  • "Game the system. Romney intends to take advantage of the various and complicated rules governing the primaries." (e.g., target specific districts in California's new "winner-take-all by congressional district" system
  • "Feel the burn. While Romney expects to raise significant amounts of money, his "burn rate," or expenses, will be high.... Romney says he'll spend his money wisely."
  • "Make clear both explicitly and implicitly the differences between himself, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, whether on issues or on lifestyle.... Romney intends to exploit what he perceives as two of McCain's great vulnerabilities in the Republican primaries: the McCain-Feingold law, which restricts campaign contributions, and the McCain-Kennedy bill, which would change immigration laws and allow for a guest-worker program. And while Romney disagrees explicitly with Giuliani on issues such as abortion, gun control and gay rights, he implicitly draws distinctions between Giuliani's rather turbulent personal life -- he has been married three times -- and Romney's own marriage of nearly 38 years."
  • "Make a splash. Romney intends to make a big effort at the splashiest event on the primary calendar: the straw poll in Ames, Iowa, on Aug. 11. The straw poll is the "American Idol" of political events".... Failure at Ames can end candidacies, because campaign contributions can dry up for those who do not do well.
  • "Encourage the media to look into the background of his opponents."
  • "Minimize his own negatives. Romney is vulnerable to accusations of being a flip-flopper -- he admits he was not pro-life until just a few years ago, and he joined the National Rifle Association just last August -- but his biggest negative, according to the polls, is his Mormon religion."
  • "Mend a fence. Romney formally announced for president last month in Dearborn, Mich., at the Henry Ford Museum. Aside from being an inventor and a highly successful businessman, however, Ford was a notorious anti-Semite."
  • "Be funny, even if he has to borrow the jokes."
Both Ankle Biting Pundits and the NRO have reviews of the strategy and dispense their own campaign advice. Even if some of the plans are pretty expected, I wonder how good it is for Romney to have some of his detailed plans circulating about.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Romney News Round Up

Here are a few interesting articles related to Mitt Romney's campaign that I've run across over the past few days:

Mitt Romney
  • A Mormon President? I Don't Think So (Boston Globe): The Globe asks the question "Can a Mormon be elected president in 2008?" and answers it "No." Ostensibly because "most Americans would view [Mormon doctrines and practices] as strange."
  • Who's The Real Mitt Romney (CBN): The Christian Broadcasting Network looks into Romney's candidacy with an extended piece that can be seen via this link.
  • Romney Resurrects A Passe Strategy (Boston Globe): The Globe looks into Romney's "leaked" strategy targeting France. "Romney's campaign still sees political gain in whipping up anger toward France. It's similar to Romney's decision last year to refuse State Police protection for Iran's moderate former president, who was speaking at Harvard, as a protest against Iran's current hard-line president. The common thread is that Romney seems to believe that presidential voters will respond only to the gesture, not the facts behind it."
  • Romneys Highlight Their "Family Values (Hearst Newspapers): "Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Friday showcased his "family values" before an influential audience of conservative Republicans by pointedly introducing his wife of 37 years just hours after thrice-married Rudolph Giuliani made a pitch for support from the same audience."
  • What Romney Could Do For Mormons (Providence Journal): Regent University President Charles Dunn writes "Can Romney do for Mormons what Kennedy did for Catholics? To do so, Romney must negate America's anti-Mormon prejudice, especially among evangelical Christians. Some parallels suggest that he could."
  • Romney Picks Up Jason Roe (Politico): "The Politico has learned that [Capitol Hill veteran Jason] Roe will head north to become Romney's deputy campaign manager, assisting Beth Myers, the manager, in day-to-day operations there.... Roe has been Rep. Tom Feeney's Chief of Staff since 2003, but has considerable campaign experience.
Republican Competitors
  • Giuliani Doesn't Worry Romney Campaign (Standard Examiner): "Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign says it is unfazed by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s recent surge in the polls and insists there is plenty of time to catch up with such better–known rivals."
  • CPAC Embraces Steele, Gingrich (Washington Times): The Washington Times writes that Steele and Gingrich were CPAC's biggest stars (while barely mentioning Romney).
  • Master of Disaster (Newsweek): Newsweek has an in depth piece this week on Giuliani and his candidacy.
  • An Open Letter To CPAC (American Mind): A who's who of conservative bloggers call for a Coulter boycott in the wake of her recent controversial remarks.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Romney's win suspect?

Some commentors have argued that Romney’s organization at CPAC undercuts his strong showing. Matt Lewis at finds this reasoning faulty:
Some people will tell you that Mitt Romney didn't deserve to win (because he bussed in College Republicans to vote for him). That's like saying George W. Bush didn't deserve to win because he raised more money than his opponent. Romney's ability to organize, inspire, and transport college students to the conference is precisely why he did deserve to win! A campaign that has the organizational ability to bus in college students has the organizational ability to do a lot of other things, too. The rules allow for it, so what's wrong with Romney doing what he has to do (within the rules) to win?

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Romney Distances Himself From Coulter's Remarks

Mitt Romney joined Rudy Giuliani and John McCain in distancing himself from controversial remarks that Ann Coulter made on Friday at CPAC. Romney's spokesman Kevin Madden said: “It was an offensive remark. Governor Romney believes all people should be treated with dignity and respect.”

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Romney Wins CPAC Straw Poll

After a well-received speech at CPAC on Friday, Mitt Romney won the CPAC straw poll. It's important to note that these straw polls are not scientific and should clearly be taken with a grain of salt (especially considering the emphasis Romney put on getting out the vote), but, that said, I think it's a pretty remarkable achievement for Romney, who has had a string of pretty bad weeks on the campaign trail. What a difference a weekend makes. The final results from the CPAC straw poll (out of a total of 1,705 voters) were:
  1. Mitt Romney - 21%
  2. Rudy Giuliani - 17%
  3. Sam Brownback - 15%
  4. New Gingrich - 14%
  5. John McCain - 12%
The press Romney has received in conservative circles since his speech has to be pretty gratifying for his camp and definitely gives him some momentum heading into March (I'm sure he's enjoying some of his headlines in the MSM as well).

In spite of losing to Romney, I think Giuliani's showing is still surprisingly strong considering the audience he was addressing. Brownback and Gingrich both fared as well as one would have expected, as did McCain (which is precisely why he didn't make time to attend). What I found surprising is Duncan Hunter's disappearance. This is an audience one would have expected him to pull a lot of support from. I have a feeling Romney might have stolen some of his thunder.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Romney's Speech

This weekend has been a boon for Mitt so far. Continuing the good news is this comment from Paul at Powerline:

Readers may recall that I was disappointed by Mitt Romney's speech at National Review's conservative summit. But Mitt didn't disappoint today at CPAC. Instead, building on the theme of a unified conservative movement articulated by Ronald Reagan at the same forum 30 years ago, Romney presented a fiery defense of all three major strands of conservatism -- economic, social, and security.

In the absence of another first-tier Republican candidate with a longer track-record of up-front social conservatism, Romney is the social conservative in this race as far as I'm concerned. Indeed, one would be hard-pressed to listen to his speech of today and doubt that Romney is the most solidly conservative of the three front-runners, period.
And for those who are wondering why it is that conservatives are so excited, here are excerpts of his speech.

Update: More video here.

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LA Times: Romney Lead Among Insiders

The LA Times reports today that Mitt Romney has the lead among Republican insiders based on a poll it did last month of Democratic and Republican national committee members:
Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Mitt Romney have emerged as the leading presidential favorites among party insiders, according to a new Los Angeles Times Poll, which found deep partisan divisions over the country's direction and top issues in the 2008 campaign....

"The DNC and RNC members are not just delegates" to the national nominating conventions, said Charlie Cook, a nonpartisan campaign analyst in Washington. "They are key organizers and opinion leaders. They can help build or kill a groundswell, make a candidate's challenge in a state easier or much harder. They matter a lot"....

Among Republicans, Romney had the most backing among party insiders, with 20% support, followed by Giuliani with 14%, McCain with 10% and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia — who has said he might enter the race in the fall — with 8%....

In a potentially worrisome sign for McCain, just over 1 in 10 RNC members said they would not support him if he won the party's nomination in his second attempt. "It shows just how much resistance there is within the Republican establishment to McCain and how open the party is to candidates who either aren't very conservative, like Giuliani, or only recently minted conservatives, like Romney," [Charlie] Cook said. "McCain has worked pretty hard since 2000 to be a team player, but these numbers would suggest that there is still a problem for him."

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MSM on Romney at CPAC

Here's a sampling of MSM coverage of Romney's speech yesterday:
  • Romancing the Conservatives (Washington Times): "Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney yesterday delivered a faultlessly tailored appeal to more than 1,000 grass-roots conservative activists hungry for a renewed commitment to limited government."
  • Romney and Giuliani Make Pitch to Conservatives (NY Times): "Mr. Giuliani arrived to a rousing reception, as people stood up and held cameras and cell-phones to captures a photograph of the moment. But the room grew increasingly silent and restless as Mr. Giuliani’s speech stretched to 40 minutes. By contrast, Mr. Romney arrived to a much more subdued reception but left to a rousing roar of applause."
  • Romney, Giuliani Court Conservative Base (AP): "Seizing on issues conservatives detest, Romney assailed campaign finance reform and immigration proposals that include a guest-worker program. In a jab at his rival, he referred to the former as McCain-Feingold, for the Arizona senator and Russell Feingold, D-Wis., and the latter as McCain-Kennedy, including the liberal icon Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass. At the same time, he swiped at Giuliani's moderate social stances without naming him. As governor, Romney said, 'I stood at the center of the battlefield on every major social issue. I fought to preserve our traditional values and protect the sanctity of human life.'"
  • But Did Ginger Rogers Wear Flip-Flops (Washington Post): "The governor began his discussion, sensibly, with economic policy, where his conservative credentials are not questioned. But he didn't quite have his message ready for a bumper sticker. "If I am elected president, I am going to cap non-defense discretionary spending at inflation minus 1 percent!" he vowed. It was time for the social issues, and Romney wasn't holding back. "I stood at the center of the battlefield on every major social issue," said the man who once vowed to best Ted Kennedy in support of gay rights. "I fought to preserve our traditional values and to protect the sanctity of human life. . . . This isn't the time for us to shrink from conservative principles," Romney said before he departed. Indeed, for Romney, it is the time to adopt them.

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Gallup Poll on Mormonism

Gallup has a new opinion poll out on Mormonism that delves into the statistics showing that more than a quarter of Americans will vote for an otherwise well-qualified presidential candidate who is a Mormon. The key findings are:
  • Americans who are more religious (as measured by frequency of church attendance) and those who are Protestant have highly negative views of the Mormon religion. The differences in views of Mormons among groups defined by their church attendance are significant. There is a net negative view of -21 points among Americans who attend church weekly, contrasted with a net positive view of +10 among those who seldom or never attend church.

  • Protestants are significantly more negative in their views than Catholics, who are the most positive group by religion.

  • There are minor partisan differences. Republicans are slightly more negative in their views of Mormons than are either independents or Democrats.

  • There is a major difference by ideological group. Liberals are extremely negative in their views on a relative basis; 28% have favorable opinions and 61% unfavorable opinions. By contrast, conservatives are essentially evenly divided in their views, while moderates break to the positive side, with 48% favorable and 40% unfavorable opinions.

  • Opinions of Mormons are better formed in the West, where the preponderance of Mormons live, and are slightly more positive than negative. Only 3% of those living in the West have no opinion whatever of Mormons.

Opinion of the Mormon Religion by Subgroup







pct. pts.


Total sample


























































Church attendance






Nearly weekly/











Total Christian

























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