In the course of the past week, there have been ruminations from Washington D.C. and the liberal media establishment, following the political circus circuit. Rumors are, there is a Romney-Paul split ticket in the works. This would mean, Ron Paul as Vice President to Mitt Romney. Sources are weak and at this point, still very much unsubstantiated.
Whether Ron Paul would accept a Vice Presidential spot, at this point is unclear. He is Mitt Romney’s senior, both in intellect and age. Others report, and speak of, a Rand Paul Vice Presidency; however, at this point into the GOP retake of the vacant White House, Rand Paul (R-KY) is nowhere near the fire of the action.
It is quite obvious, that if Mitt Romney is going to sock Obama in November, he will have to square the Tea Party vote. Segments of which he has neglected, again and again; with big government “corporations are people” rhetoric. Steadily he holds the strongest conservative wing, but a wing does not fly without a body. If Ron Paul considers an Independent presidential run after all, Mitt Romney will feel luke-warm to libertarians, independents, cross-overs, undecideds.
Given Ron Paul’s consistent stance on positions: his remorseless scrutiny and straight-edge in terms of vascillation, it is highly unlikely he will takle a split-ticket such as this. If these comments continue, there will be the possibility that Ron Paul’s integrity is pu to the test. Is he really the stalwart, people say he is? Or, is he another politician who might use his stature, to win the GOP the election in November 2012?
A few days ago, I nearly wrote a post, based on what I was reading from some elections observers, encouraging Ron Paul supporters to calm down over the results in Maine. Paul supporters were arguing that the election had been stolen due to uncounted ballots. Josh Putnam, who blogs at Frontloading HQ and offers insight I generally respect, discounted the “conspiracy” being floated.
But over at the American Spectator, Jim Antle notes that the Maine Republican Party is under scrutiny due to the number of uncounted ballots, which may or may not be enough to question whether Mitt Romney won the caucus:
The Bangor Daily News is reporting that the Maine Republican Party is facing increasing pressure to reconsider its claim that Mitt Romney won the state’s caucuses until all the votes are counted. (Hat tip: Taegan Goddard.) Some caucuses were postponed due to snow and told that they won’t count in the final tally; towns that had their caucuses before February 11 were also inexplicably not counted.
You know from looking at the polls in the Republican primary that conservatives seem to be backing anyone but Mitt Romney, despite the fact that he was the “conservative alternative” to John McCain just four years ago. Some of the reasons for the animosity towards Romney are hypocritical, but others are reasonable.
Among the reasons we often hear from Romney’s critics is that he’s fake; someone that will say anything to get elected. A textbook example of that comes in comments Romney recently made about President Barack Obama’s budget proposal. Here’s what Romney said via Marginal Revolution:
“This week, President Obama will release a budget that won’t take any meaningful steps toward solving our entitlement crisis,” Romney said in a statement e-mailed to reporters. “The president has failed to offer a single serious idea to save Social Security and is the only president in modern history to cut Medicare benefits for seniors.”
Let me address the main issue in these comments first. Romney rightly says that Obama will not address entitlement reform in a meaningful way, but at the same time criticizes cuts to Medicare; which aren’t substantial to begin with. This ignores that fact that cuts to Medicare in entitlement reform is an inevitability. This has to happen in order to bring the federal budget back to a sustainable path.
Back in 2008, Jonah Goldberg explained that Mike Huckabee’s brand of conservatism was inconsistent with traditional conservatism, in that the former Arkansas Governor believes that government exists, not to protect individual liberty, but to make people live moral lives in accordance with his personal beliefs:
When it comes to economic issues, [Mike Huckabee] is hard to distinguish from all sort of different brands of liberals. He is hostile to free trade. He is very friendly to raising taxes. He believes in regulation wherever necessary. He thinks abortion must remain a federal national issue, can’t send it back to the states. And that’s what I mean by “right-wing progressive.” He wants to use government towards conservative ends. He says it’s a biblical duty to fight global warming. The problem with someone like Huckabee is that he much like, in my mind, a liberal sees no dogmatic constitutional limits on the “do-goodery” of the federal government. Whatever he thinks is the right thing for the federal government to do, if he thinks there’s a good thing that can be done by the federal government, he wants the federal government to do it whether it’s constitutional or in accordance with principles of limited government. And maybe what he wants to isn’t what a cultural liberal would want to do but he still wants to use the government the same way. It’s big government conservatism. And that, I think, is the real threat these days to conservatism.
It’s no secret that the editors of the National Review, a highly influential conservative publication, aren’t fans of Newt Gingrich. Back in December, they came out against the former Speaker’s bid for the Republican nomination, despite his lead in GOP primary polls at the time. They weren’t finished. Just last month they slammed Gingrich for his for his anti-capitalist attacks on Mitt Romney’s wealth.
And yesterday, the National Review called on Gingrich to get out of the race and endorse Santorum, using Gingrich’s own logic from last month against him:
At the moment Rick Santorum appears to be overtaking Newt Gingrich as the principal challenger to Mitt Romney. Santorum has won more contests than Gingrich (who has won only one), has more delegates, and leads him in the polls. In at least one poll, he also leads Romney. It isn’t yet a Romney–Santorum contest, but it could be headed that way.
We hope so. Gingrich’s verbal and intellectual talents should make him a resource for any future Republican president. But it would be a grave mistake for the party to make someone with such poor judgment and persistent unpopularity its presidential nominee. It is not clear whether Gingrich remains in the race because he still believes he could become president next year or because he wants to avenge his wounded pride: an ambiguity that suggests the problem with him as a leader. When he led Santorum in the polls, he urged the Pennsylvanian to leave the race. On his own arguments the proper course for him now is to endorse Santorum and exit.
For what it’s worth, I’m opposed to the individual mandate in ObamaCare. I believe it’s a violation of the Commerce Clause for the Congress to compel anyone to purchase a certain product. However, many conservatives are now faced with explaining why they once backed the individual mandate, but now oppose it. Over at Forbes, Avik Roy explains:
As far as I have been able to find, Stuart’s [Heritage health-policy chief Stuart Butler] 1989 brief is the first published proposal of an individual mandate in the context of private-sector-managed health systems. In 1991, Mark Pauly and others developed a proposal for George H.W. Bush that also included an individual mandate. While others credit Stanford economist Alain Enthoven with the idea, Enthoven’s earliest published reference to an individual mandate was an indirect one in the 1992 Jackson Hole paper.
Politico reports that Mitt Romney has won the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) straw poll over Rick Santorum, who has been surging in recent days in the race for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.
While official results have not been released on CPAC’s official website, here is what Politico and other outlets are reporting:
- Mitt Romney: 38%
- Rick Santorum: 31%
- Newt Gingrich: 15%
- Ron Paul: 12%
Romney, who spoke at the conference yesterday, also won in 2007, 2008, and 2009. Ron Paul, who declined an invite to speak this year (though his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), spoke on Thursday), won the straw poll in 2010 and 2011.
While the media focus in recent weeks has been the on the battle between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich — and more recently Rick Santorum, as he begins to pull some conservatives into his camp, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that Ron Paul is now second in the field (though within the margin of error).
- Mitt Romney: 29%
- Ron Paul: 21%
- Newt Gingrich: 20%
- Rick Santorum: 18%
I spoke to a friend last night about the race. He just happened to be in Nevada over the weekend and he explained that it’s a “likeability” factor. Even though he’s not a supporter, he thinks Paul comes across as the most consistant, most genuine with the clearest convictions of the remaining four candidates. Aaron Blake caught this in the entrance polls out of Nevada, showing that caucus-goers viewed Paul as the “true conservative” in the race.
Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that this will translate into primary or caucus wins. Clearly and unfortunately, it hasn’t. But it does show that the libertarian-leaning message Paul presents to Republican voters, even at this late moment in the race, is gaining more traction and may be difficult to ignore in this and future elections.
After finishing a distant second to Mitt Romney in Nevada on Saturday, Newt Gingrich became unhinged during an evening press conference, promising a prolonged battle for the Republican nomination:
Newt Gingrich vowed again to stay in the Republican presidential contest until the convention in August and said he will spend the next several months engaged in a bitter battle with Mitt Romney.
Speaking to the press after the Nevada caucuses Saturday, Mr. Gingrich repeatedly hammered Mr. Romney as a pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-taxes candidate who has the backing of the Republican establishment.
“I am a candidate for president of the United States,” he said. “I will be a candidate for president of the United States. I will go to Tampa.”
Mr. Romney ignored Mr. Gingrich in his victory speech tonight. But Mr. Gingrich seemed insistent on making sure that his rival cannot simply look the other way.
He accused Mr. Romney of purposely leaking false information about Mr. Gingrich’s plans to drop out of the presidential race, calling that Mr. Romney’s “greatest fantasy” in the race.
And Mr. Gingrich said that recent meetings he held with donors were meant to map out a plan to continue getting his message out despite Mr. Romney’s superior fund-raising.
“The entire establishment will be against us,” he predicted. But he said that by appearing on national television and doing interviews in newspapers, he will spread his agenda.
“The American people want somebody who is genuinely conservative, who is prepared to change Washington,” Mr. Gingrich said.
With a win in Florida under his belt, Mitt Romney is looking west to the caucus in Nevada tomorrow where the latest poll shows him leading his rivals for the Republican nomination by a large margin.
The poll, sponsored by the Las Vegas Review-Journal (LVRJ) and the local CBS affiliate, shows Romney taking 45% of the vote among likely caucus-goers, with a substantial amount of support coming from Mormons. Romney also performs well with “strong supporters” of the Tea Party movement, taking 27% of the important faction in the Republican base. Gingrich takes 37% of Tea Party voters.
Here is how the rest of the poll shakes out:
- Mitt Romney: 45%
- Newt Gingrich: 25%
- Rick Santorum: 11%
- Ron Paul: 9%
Gingrich’s numbers have fallen off since the last LVRJ poll, which was conducted just before Christmas. At that time Gingrich was down four points to Romney — inside the margin of error, so they were essentially tied — in a state where many observers didn’t expect much of contest. Fast-forward to today, Romney is enjoying his highest level of support in Nevada.
The poll is disappointing (and surprising) for Ron Paul, who largely skipped out on the primary in Florida to focus on caucus states. As you can see, Paul is set to finish last, despite being “deeply organized” in the state, according to the LVRJ. He finished second there in 2008, though the process was controversial.