GOP Primary 2012

This Week in the Race for the GOP Presidential Nomination

This week will be the busiest that we’ll see in the race for the Republican presidential nomination this month. Coloradans and Minnesotans will be headed to the caucuses today while Missourians will be voting in the nonbinding primary that precedes their March 17 caucuses. We can also expect to see the results of the Maine caucuses this Saturday. After this week, we’ll see only a handful of caucuses and primaries in Guam, Arizona, Michigan, and Washington before Super Tuesday on March 6.

Public Policy Polling shows former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) with a comfortable lead in Colorado with 37%. Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) trails Romney with 27% while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.) clock in with 21% and 13% respectively. It looks like we can expect another big win for Romney in the Centennial State.

The race could get a little more interesting in Minnesota, Missouri, and Maine. Santorum leads the field in a tight race for the North Star State, but that race is still very much up in the air with a range of only 13% between Santorum and Paul, who is polling in fourth place. Santorum looks to be headed for a win in the Show-Me State’s nonbinding primary; he leads with 45% to Romney’s 32%. Meanwhile, Politico is calling the race for the Pine Tree State a two man race between Romney and Paul.

If these numbers hold, what could all of this mean for the race going forward?

Ron Paul Could Have a Very Good Weekend

Former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) was the big winner last night in Florida. The Sunshine State is a winner-take-all state, which means that Romney took all fifty of Florida’s GOP delegates and is now leading in the delegate count. But as The Christian Science Monitor points out, Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.) could emerge as another big winner by week’s end:

This week, Ron Paul is likely to win more delegates to the 2012 GOP convention than either Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum. In fact, he’s likely to win more delegates than Gingrich and Santorum combined.

 

“Hold it”, you’re saying, “How can that be? Rep. Paul’s polling in single digits in Florida. He’s going to finish behind Gingrich and Santorum, as well as Mitt Romney, in Tuesday’s Florida primary. How can that translate into beating any of his rivals at all?”

 

We’ll tell you how – because he’s not winning those delegates in Florida. He’s winning, or will probably win, at least a few delegates in Maine.

Indeed, while the other three remaining Republican candidates have been busy in Florida, Paul has been focusing his time and energy on a strong finish if not a win in the Pine Tree State and in Nevada. Solid performances this weekend could give Paul momentum and energize his supporters headed into the Colorado and Minnesota caucuses next Tuesday.

Ronald Paul Assails GOP Establishment

It’s not often that the media give Ronald Paul (R-Texas) a chance to speak.

There were reasons, why I didn’t watch the second GOP debate on Sunday.

Ronald Paul cleared the field on Saturday, he was the last man standing! After some initial tampering with his microphone, and pitch, he opened his arguments by restating his offensive tactic on “big-government Republican”, Rick Santorum. The only two real Tea Party contenders: Ronald Paul and Rick Perry, were left to languish on stage for the better part of 15 minutes, until allowed to join the discussion.

Mitt Romney was busy arguing how many jobs were, lost and gained under his CEO leisure. Newt Gingrich quoted the New York Times. Paul smoothly stepped back, blocked Santorum’s smugness by raining down: “he voted to raise the debt [ceiling] five times.”

Rick Santorum let loose liberal counter-attacks, naming sources “leftist”, and calling Mitt Romney class-consciously dangerous. In so doing, Santorum looked less Republican, more like a blue-state lawyer from the Northeast. Neither Paul nor Romney delved deep into his attacks, mostly picking up on their own strengths. Santorum was a negative force, not a positivist in this debate, Saturday night January 7th.

When Ronald Paul raised his hand for a response, the slick Stephonopilis retorted back to Paul (his senior by quite a few years): “we’ll stay with the subject, don’t you worry.” Brilliance in public debate rarely comes to the fore, especially on television. Paul showed it by counterstriking first Santorum, then defecting the attack from Rick Perry, onto Santorum and Newt Gingrich.

Jon Huntsman decided not to attack. Mitt Romney largely left the debate unscathed. Only because Ronald Paul made no concerted effort to attack the former Massachusetts blue-state Governor. It was easy for Paul to slice-down the cryptic schizophrenity of Gingrich, whose attempted slur of Ronald Paul on “style”, many see as hearnestness.

What do the Iowa Caucuses Really Mean?

I woke up this morning with news that Ron Paul got a third place finish. It was, most certainly, a disappointment, when we had earlier heard reports he could win the state. However, after crunching the numbers, Paul did surprisingly well, doubling his support from 2008 and was only a few thousand votes behind Romney and Santorum. He did very well, and his team should be proud of that.

Of course, the media is going to use it as an excuse to completely ignore Paul, just as Chris Cilizza did in his post about the different tents of the GOP that Romney and Santorum depended on in the caucus. Yes, I realize the post wasn’t really about Paul, but but in trying to show that there is a “socio-religious conservative” faction and an “Establishment” faction, Cilizza completely ignored the new “faction” that is growing within the Republican Party, the libertarian faction (and no, I don’t mean the Tea Partiers; they have some libertarians, but they also have a bunch of right-wing social conservatives who are just focusing on spending for the moment.) This is not something that should be ignored, since it may just well take over the party and push the other “factions” to the side, as more and more voters desire something approaching sanity.

Ron Paul Must Repudiate Lew Rockwell

RonPaul

Ron Paul needs to ditch Lew Rockwell.

As he climbs in the polls and gets within striking distance of winning the Iowa caucuses, it is inevitable that his newsletters would come up. You know the ones: written in the late Eighties, that contain racist material, that are really, really stupid, and that Paul swears he didn’t actually write. At least, that’s his line, and in an investigative piece by reason magazine writers Dave Weigel and Julian Sanchez back in 2008, it looks like the source is Ludwig von Mises Institute founder Lew Rockwell:

The self-destruction of the #GOP

The only certainty in this year’s GOP nomination battle has been uncertainty (that, and “Whoa nelly, has this been a ride or what?”) Republican primary voters have hopped from Bachmann to Perry to Cain to Gingrich and now seem to be settling into a confused Gingrich/Romney/Paul split. Part of this is because the entire race, so far, has been a farce (though Paul’s recent ascendency leaves one to hope it’s not entirely a farce), but I think another part is the increasing heated and intense Republican litmus test being applied by those within the “conservative movement.”

I’ve noted here previously that “We’re All RINOs Now,” citing Dan Drezner and David Frum. As I wrote there, using Drezner’s language, the Republican Party has turned into a “cargo cult,” moving farther to the right on several points, especially on LGBT issues, and I think it’s beginning to place itself outside of the “Overton Window,” the selection of policies considered politically acceptable by the public. Gay bashing, abortion banning, and putting a greater emphasis on religious morals in government may appeal to a segment of the conservative movement, but compared to the general populace, that is gradually disappearing.

This narrative is quite popular among the left, who want to paint the Republican Party as more and more radical and opposed to the general beliefs of the American population, but as I pointed out, a lot of people you would consider conservative feel the same way. One explanation is to place the blame at the feet of talk show pundits like Hannity, Limbaugh, and O’Reilly. I think, however, there is a much better explanation to be had.

Rick Perry’s New Groove (Maybe)

Rick Perry, looking to get back on top of the GOP primary, has unveiled a new reform plan that will “uproot, tear down and rebuild Washington, D.C. and our federal institutions,” as he puts it:

Blasting the congressional “creatures of Washington” for being overpaid and detached from the struggles of the people outside the Beltway, Texas Gov. and GOP presidential hopeful Rick Perry vowed Tuesday to eliminate federal agencies, set term limits for federal judges and push for a part-time Congress where both members’ pay and office budgets are sliced in half.

The three-term governor, speaking on a campaign swing in Bettendorf, Iowa, said he would lead by example by cutting his salary as president until the federal budget is balanced, and said that lawmakers who use information to profit from stock trades should go to jail — in what appeared to be a clear reference to recent news reports alleging insider trading involving House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

“I do not believe Washington needs a new coat of paint, it needs a complete overhaul,” Mr. Perry said, according to prepared remarks. “We need to uproot, tear down and rebuild Washington, D.C. and our federal institutions.”

I’m reading his actual plan right here, and I have to say, there are some good ideas here, and one very bad one.

Occupy the Republican Party: YES

Conor Friedersdorf has an interesting idea: instead of occupying Zucotti Park, disgruntled liberals and democrats should Occupy the Republican Party:

What if the left registered its discontent with Obama and its disgust for the GOP frontrunners by registering Republican? It would only matter during primary season. And what a message they could send! One long-shot Republican candidate, Gary Johnson, visited Zuccotti Park, affirms that Wall Street banks got unseemly favors, wants to legalize marijuana, opposed the Iraq War, favors bringing the troops home, and even wants abortion to stay legal. Another, Buddy Roemer, has made the centerpiece of his campaign “fighting the corrupting influences in Wall Street and Washington, ending favors to big donors and the misuse of federal funds to benefit major corporations.” Though the typical Democrat would disagree with both of them on various issues, they’d surely prefer either to Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, or Rick Santorum; elevating either would send a powerful message on several of the most important issues that has the left upset; and like all quixotic stunts worth trying, there is a huge upside and no downside.

Think about it.

Is this the best the GOP has?

I was at the Defending the American Dream Summit last Friday, put on by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation. I was really there just for the Free Market Job Fair, sponsored by the Leadership Institute and ConservativeJobs, but I also managed to see the speeches by Romney, Cain, and Giuliani in the ballroom. (Fortunately, I left long before the OccupyDC nutcases appeared, but that’s another post.)

Sitting there in the back, the room illuminated only by the four gargantuan TV screens projecting the speaker’s face, and the light on the stage, I was awestruck by how cavernous the place was. No, really—you could have parked the Nimitz in there and still probably had enough room for a Space Shuttle or two. That feeling, however, was quickly replaced by awe at the candidates who graced us with their presence—and the fact that one old guy up in the front was really spry, to be hopping around like that.

Namely, though, the awe was, “This is the best the GOP has?”

To me, Romney’s biggest plus was he has a voice that belongs in nearly every commercial about life insurance and in cartoons. It has that deep texture that you look for in voice actors, and seriously—could you not imagine this guy being the voice of Skeletor? Aside from that, however, I was disappointed. He offered up the same conservative talking points of cutting government spending and working from one’s bootstraps (including a story about creating Staples in the back room of a warehouse with used Naugahyde chairs), but those are words: will they actually translate into action?

“Let’s Flatten This Joint”

One suspects that the above title might be the new slogan for the Republican Party, with the joint being the Internal Revenue Service’s buildings. Why? Because now Gov. Perry has unveiled a flat tax plan:

 

The code that Perry is proposing would feature a 20% personal income and corporate tax, the elimination of Social Security and capital gains taxes, and the preservation of popular deductions for mortgage interest and charitable giving. Under the “cut, balance, and grow” plan, tax loopholes for corporations would be phased out while the standard exemption for those earning $500,000 or less would be increased to $12,500.

His economic team believes that those changes, combined with deep spending cuts and entitlement reforms including a gradual increase in the retirement age, will encourage so much growth and save families and corporations so much in compliance costs that the budget could be balanced by 2020.

One thing I am glad Perry’s team admits is that the tax, by itself, will not fix our problems. They say “combined with deep spending cuts and entitlement reforms”. That is what we need to fix our problems; however, if we need to have a discussion about tax policy first to get there, then so be it.


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