Various media outlets are reporting that Rick Santorum, who received a boost late in the presidental race from social conservatives, is suspending his presidential campaign. The announcement comes just days after Santorum met with prominent conservatives about his campaign and his young daughter’s hospital stay.
Santorum’s decision to put his campaign on hold leaves only Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich as challengers to Mitt Romney, who is, for all intents and purposes, the presumptive Republican nominee.
Due to a new claim of a 13-year affair, Herman Cain told several dozen staff members and advisors that he was “reassessing” whether he wanted to continue his quest for the Republican nomination:
In a morning conference call with his advisers, Mr. Cain said that he would make a decision in the coming days about whether to stay in the race after his campaign was rocked by another round of allegations about his sexual conduct.
The call, which was first reported by National Review, came as Mr. Cain was heading to Michigan for a campaign stop on Tuesday evening. He said that he was discussing the future of his campaign with his family and was considering his options.
“This is cause for reassessment,” Mr. Cain said, according to one participant on the call who spoke on condition of anonymity. “During the summer we had to make some reassessments based on our financial situation. We were able to hang in there.”
Mr. Cain denied the accusations from the Atlanta woman, Ginger White. But he acknowledged that the latest report of sexual misconduct might be more difficult to overcome, considering that the first voting is set to take place in five weeks at the Iowa caucuses. He said that he had not lost his enthusiasm to run, but suggested it was a distraction that could be difficult to recover from.
“With this latest one, we have to do an assessment as to whether or not this is going to create too much of a cloud in some peoples’ minds as to whether or not they should support us going forward,” Mr. Cain said, according to the participant on the call.
Looking for away to bring conservatives together even as Republicans being to coalesce around Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum met with movement leaders in hopes to come up with a last ditch effort to make a comeback and take the GOP nomination:
The conversation focused on the struggling candidacy of former House speaker Newt Gingrich and whether a final push could be made to unite conservatives and stop the likely nomination of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. The idea of Santorum leaving the race was not raised.
“It was a discussion of how to win, not a discussion of anything other than that,” said Gary Bauer, a prominent social conservative leader who was at the meeting.
Despite this optimism, there are signs that the wear and tear of the campaign trail and the daunting odds against his winning the nomination are weighing on Santorum.
“He is exhausted,” said one influential Republican who has talked to Santorum in recent days. “He is very, very worried about losing Pennsylvania. He is trying to find a way to throw a very long pass that could change the game.”
That search for game-changers seems unlikely to produce success for Santorum. A Gingrich decision to exit the race and endorse Santorum in an attempt to unite conservatives seems unlikely to happen or to affect the outcome of the nomination fight.
With Gingrich falling in the polls, the very real prospect of Ron Paul winning the Iowa caucus has some, including Chris Wallace of Fox News, saying that it will cheapen its significance. None of that is to say he will win, but it’s clear that there is an element in Republican politics that is going to downplay Paul’s impact in the race.
Over at The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf explains that downplaying Paul and his views — as so many, including the National Review, are trying to do — is a mistake:
Dismissing the burgeoning number of Americans on the right who are suspicious of interventionism and hawkishness is intellectually suspect and unwise. A majority of Republicans now think that the Iraq War was a mistake. The general non-interventionist impulse on the right has never completely gone away. Paul is by no means the ideal vehicle for non-interventionism. But insofar as he plays a significant role in the GOP primary, it will be partly due to the fact that the legitimate concerns he articulates are taken up by no other viable candidate. One needn’t be an ardent Paul supporter to suspect that National Review would rather that no viable GOP candidate spoke up to challenge the hawkish impulses on the elite right .
Things are really getting interesting in Iowa. Polls have shifted during the course of the week. What looked like a strong lead for Newt Gingrich diminished into a tie with Ron Paul. But the latest survey from Rasmussen of likely caucus-goers shows Mitt Romney emerging with a slight lead.
- Mitt Romney: 23%
- Newt Gingrich: 20%
- Ron Paul: 18%
- Rick Perry: 10%
- Michele Bachmann: 9%
- Rick Santorum: 6%
- Jon Huntsman: 5%
- Other: 2%
- Not sure: 8%
Byron York explains the significance of the poll:
In the new survey, every candidate but Gingrich gained support in the last few weeks. The biggest gainers were Romney, up four points; Paul, up eight points; and Perry, up four points. Michele Bachmann climbed three points, as did Jon Huntsman, who has been to Iowa a grand total of one time in the campaign.
Gingrich, on the other hand, fell 12 points.
Gingrich has been the target of a barrage of attack ads on Iowa television and radio, particularly from Paul, Romney, and Perry. The consensus among Iowa GOP insiders is that those ads are beginning to take a toll. “That stuff has an impact, where people are at least going to pause” in their enthusiasm for Gingrich, says Bob vander Plaats, an influential Iowa social conservative leader.
After coming on strong in August and September and largely stealing Michele Bachmann’s thunder, Rick Perry was knocked down a peg after a some bad debate performances and gaffes. But don’t look now, Perry may be making a comeback in Iowa, at least according to a new poll from the American Research Group (ARG).
- Newt Gingrich: 22% (-5)
- Ron Paul: 17% (+1)
- Mitt Romney: 17% (-3)
- Rick Perry: 13% (+8)
- Michele Bachmann: 7% (+1)
- Rick Santorum: 7% (+1)
- Jon Huntsman: 5% (+2)
- Other: 1%
- Undecided: 12%
As you can see, Perry has seen an 8 point jump in his numbers since the last ARG poll, while Gingrich and Romney have declined. Here are some other key points from the poll from the Houston Chronicle:
Perry’s in fourth with 13 percent, almost as much as the 14 percent support he had in September when his campaign trail looked a bit smoother than it’s turned out to be.
Perry, however, jumps slightly ahead of Paul (still within the four-point margin-of-error) with strong Republican respondents, pulling 14 percent of their support to Paul’s 13 percent. But Paul rules the Independent vote in Iowa—a full 39 percent of respondents identifying as Independents say they’ll vote for him. Gingrich is first with Republicans and second with Independents, but Jon Huntsman, perennially stuck at the bottom of the pack, is close behind him with Independents, polling with 13 percent of their support.
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.
We just can’t seem to get rid of Donald Trump. This attention whore and advocate of big government was at one time considering a bid for the Republican nomination, but in the end it turned out to be a publicity stunt for his show, The Apprentice.
Unfortunately, those of us hoping that this race would become serious with the departure of Herman Cain are in for some bad news as it was announced on Friday that Trump will moderate the Newsmax-hosted Republican debate on December 27th:
Donald Trump will moderate a Republican presidential debate later this month in Iowa.
The reality TV star and real estate mogul was selected by the conservative media outlet Newsmax to host a Dec. 27 debate in Des Moines, Iowa.
“We’ve interviewed him several times over the last few years,” said Newsmax Editor Brett Sandala. “We see him as a truly great American and his vocal conservative voice reaches millions, so we wanted a moderator that resonated with that base.”
The debate would be the last one scheduled before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucus.
As you know, Herman Cain suspended his campaign on Saturday, effectively ending his bid for the Republican nomination and the strange ordeal that he put his family through. Many are wondering what is next for Cain, whether he’ll go on to form a PAC and/or endorse another candidate in the race. Both seem likely, and we already know which way Cain is leaning (and it’s not a surprise):
A top Cain adviser tells us the former candidate plans to endorse in the next few weeks – certainly this month, in order to affect the Iowa caucuses – and is most likely to go Gingrich. They have a personal relationship that goes back to Gingrich’s days as Speaker, a much longer relationship than Cain has with any of the others. And they disagree on few issues. Cain can offer some Iowa organization and his power as a surrogate in the African-American community (including churches), a weakness for the GOP.
Despite his potential to be a “kingmaker,” some conservatives are taking issue with Cain. Over at the National Review, Rich Lowery very pointedly says that Cain should give back money he received from donors. Some of you may say that this isn’t a big deal, but it has been noted that since Cain hasn’t formally ended his campaign, merely suspended it, he would still qualify for federal matching funds, which he may be able to transfer to whatever PAC he creates with leftover campaign dollars.
It has been no secret that I was backing Gary Johnson, who comes closest to what I believe on both personal and economic liberty, for the Republican nomination. As a businessman and former two-term Governor of New Mexico, Johnson has the experience necessary to govern effectively with libertarian and free market principles.
It has been no secret that Johnson has been considering running for the Libertarian Party’s nomination. On Friday, his campaign sent out an editorial from the Santa Fe New Mexican noting this and piece from Richard Viguerie’s Conservative HQ written by my friend Andrew Davis, who works for Johnson’s campaign, making the “conservative case” for Johnson to pursue a third party bid.
Johnson is rightfully bothered with how he has been treated by the Republican establishment and the media during the course of his campaign. But now that he is considering a third party bid, I will not continue to support him in the Republican primary.
I had no illusions about Johnson when I decided to back him months ago. I knew that casting my vote for him was more about making a point, rather than determining the outcome of the race. But with Ron Paul rising and Johnson seemingly moving on — and understandably so, I’d rather cast my ballot where it can be effective and still support someone that is largely in line with what I believe.
To be clear, I have absolutely no problem with Johnson leaving the Republican field to run as a Libertarian and am I certainly not a Republican partisan — I consider myself a strongly libertarian-minded independent voter when it comes to national elections these days.