Jason Pye

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GOP Presidential Power Rankings

There wasn’t a shake up in the race for the Republican Party’s nomination for president in the last week. It certainly looks like Newt Gingrich is tightening his grip as the frontrunner and Mitt Romney is becoming desperate to knock him down. Meanwhile, Ron Paul is emerging as a legitimate candidate.

You can see the latest polling out of Iowa here. And in case you missed it, Saturday evening’s debate at Drake University in Des Moines, you can watch it below.

Please note that we’ve removed Herman Cain (suspended campaign) and Gary Johnson (likely running for the Libertarian Party’s nomination) from the power rankings.

The News

Jon Stewart on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

On Wednesday, Jon Stewart covered the Senate’s passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contains language that would allow the federal government to detain American citizens indefinitely without formal charges or trial.

Listen carefully and call your members of Congress:

Could Romney be Gingrich’s VP pick?

During a recent sit down with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Newt Gingrich, who is leading the polls in the race for the GOP nomination, said that Mitt Romney is on his list of potential running mates (video at the link):

Newt Gingrich has at least one name on his list of potential running mates: GOP rival Mitt Romney. “I think Mitt Romney is a very admirable person, and I’m not going to pick a fight with Mitt Romney,” Gingrich said in an interview Wednesday with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

When asked if he would ever ask Romney to be his vice presidential nominee, Gingrich didn’t mince words.

“I think the consensus is that he’d certainly be on the list, whether he’d want to or not,” Gingrich said. “He’s a very competent person. This is a very serious man. I would certainly support him if he became the Republican nominee.”

Um, no thanks. Both Gingrich, who is the source of skepticism amongst conservatives, and Romney have supported an individual mandate for health insurances, bailouts, and other big government programs. Gingrich lobbied for GSEs like Freddie Mac, which helped inflate the housing bubble. Romney changes his beliefs almost daily. Neither of them are serious about reducing the size of the federal government.

A Gingrich/Romney ticket would essentially be asking voters to sign off on everything wrong with the GOP. That would be an electoral disaster.

Ron Paul has a good shot to win in Iowa

With his poll numbers in rising, some pundits, observers, and veteran Republicans are noting that Ron Paul may have a real shot of winning in Iowa. The National Review’s Robert Costa explains:

Rep. Ron Paul rarely makes news, and his candidacy is frequently ignored by Beltway reporters. But headlines, his aides say, are overrated. In fact, the Texas Republican’s low-key autumn was strategic. As Paul’s competitors stumbled and sparred, he amassed a small fortune for his campaign and built a strong ground operation. And with January fast approaching, his team is ready to surprise the political world and sweep the Iowa caucuses.

“This was a movement when he first started running in 2008,” says Trygve Olson, a senior Paul adviser. “Now it’s turned into a highly professionalized campaign, but the energy from that last run is still there, and at the heart of what’s keeping up his momentum.”

The latest polls back up that confidence. In the influential Des Moines Register poll published over the weekend, Paul placed second. Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, captured 25 percent of likely Iowa GOP voters, but Paul garnered 18 percent, two points ahead of Mitt Romney, who in 2008 placed second in the caucuses.

If Paul wins Iowa, the upset could upend what many politicos say is a two-man race between Gingrich and Romney. According to state GOP insiders, a Paul victory is a real possibility. In background conversations, many say Paul is much stronger than outside observers believe, with deep and wide support among a frustrated electorate. With Herman Cain’s departure from the race, operatives see Paul potentially collecting a quarter of caucus attendees.

Rick Perry declines invite to Trump debate

Rick Perry became the latest Republican hopeful to decline an invitation to the debate that will be moderated by Donald Trump on December 27th in Iowa:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is the latest GOP presidential candidate to decline an invitation to the controversial debate that will be hosted by Donald Trump, saying that “retail campaigning” in the days leading up to the Iowa caucuses is his “top priority.”

“Gov. Perry has talked to Donald Trump in recent days and respects him and the folks at Newsmax very much,” said campaign manager Ray Sullivan in a statement. “In the coming weeks, Gov. Perry will be in Iowa almost continually, meeting with real voters, doing town-hall meetings and events and talking American jobs, faith and overhauling Washington, D.C., to Iowa voters.”

The campaign also pointed out that there are two debates in the next seven days.

Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, and Mitt Romney have already declined invitations. Michele Bachmann backed out yesterday. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has urged candidates not to attend, largely because Trump is still kicking around the idea of running in an independent or third party bid.

Jim DeMint backs Ted Cruz in Texas

Among the candidates that are getting support from conservatives and grassroots groups, Ted Cruz, who is running for U.S. Senate in Texas, has received a lot of support. Unfortunately, Cruz has a mountain to climb as polls currently David Dewhurst with a sizable lead.

But Cruz is hoping to rally support from conservatives in Texas, and is hitting Dewhurst on taxes and his inability to stand up to the TSA. And with help from prominent conservatives, Cruz may be able to do just that. During an interview on the The Michael Berry Show, Jim DeMint, the tea party-minded Senator from South Carolina who runs the Senate Conservatives PAC, noted his support for Cruz.

Congress must shoot down the defense authorization bill

A few days ago, I wrote that the compromise is the Senate over the detainee language in the defense authorization bill was a good thing. Well, after reading more about it, it’s clear that Americans are still in danger of being detained indefinitely by their own government without formal charge, as Sheldon Richman of the Foundation for Economic Education explains at Reason:

Permit me to state the obvious: The government shouldn’t be allowed to imprison people indefinitely without charge or trial. It shouldn’t be necessary to say this nearly 800 years after Magna Carta was signed and over 200 years after the Fifth Amendment was ratified.

Yet this uncomplicated principle, which is within the understanding of a child, is apparently lost on a majority in the U.S. Senate. Last week the Senate voted 61-37 in effect to authorize the executive branch to use the military to capture and hold American citizens indefinitely without trial—perhaps at Guantanamo—if they are merely suspected of involvement with a terrorist or related organization—and even if their suspected activity took place on U.S. soil.

The provision, which is included in the National Defense Authorization Act, was drafted without a public hearing by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.). Sen. Mark Udall (D- Colo.) sponsored an amendment to remove the power, but the amendment was defeated. A related provision requires that terrorism suspects who are not citizens be held by the military rather than being tried in a civilian criminal court. (The executive branch can waive this requirement after certifying to Congress that the waiver is a matter of national security.)

Gingrich defends Trump, Romney declines debate invite

As noted on Monday, Donald Trump will moderate a Republican debate hosted by Newsmax on December 27th in Iowa. There has been some pushback inside Republican circle as Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul almost immediately declined invites. Mitt Romney has also declined. Michele Bachmann has not actually said whether she plans to attend, but did express “concern” about the debate.

Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum accepted the invitations, and Gingrich also defended Trump against criticism from Paul that it would be a circus:

After a nearly hour-long meeting at Trump Tower, Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich emerged for a joint news conference, during which the former House speaker defended The Donald from slams from Ron Paul that Trump moderating a debate would create a “circus” atmosphere.

Obama’s top 10 violations of the Constitution

Let’s get away from the fight for the GOP nomination for a moment. Over at The Daily Caller, Ilya Shapiro, senior fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute, has listed in detail the top 10 constitutional violations committed by President Barack Obama. The list is obviously long, and there is a long to say about them, so I’ve listed excerpts of the main points, though you really should read the entire piece:

The first item on the Shapiro’s list is the individual mandate:

No list of President Obama’s constitutional violations would be complete without including the requirement that every American purchase health insurance, on penalty of civil fine. The individual mandate is unprecedented and exceeds Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce. If it is allowed to stand, Congress will be able to impose any kind of economic mandate as part of any kind of national regulatory scheme. Fortunately, the Supreme Court has a chance to strike this down during its current term.

Shapiro also lists the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB; better known as “death panels,” which is part of ObamaCare):

Ron Paul is the “big dog”

Speaking of new ads, Ron Paul has dropped one of his own in Iowa and New Hampshire — the first two state that will cast ballots in the race for the Republican nomination. While Newt Gingrich’s new ad portrays him as a frontrunner by not at all mentioning his rivals in the race, Paul’s hails him as the “big dog” when it comes to fighting for limited government and cutting spending.

How does Paul cast his opponents, you ask? Well, they talk a big game, but they’re “little shih tzus” when it comes to being friends of the taxpayer:

Paul’s campaign also released this ad in Iowa knocking Gingrich. It’s a shortened version of the web ad they released last week:

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