Many observers feel that Barack Obama has a very good shot at re-election this fall as Mitt Romney — who often performs the best out of the GOP field in head-to-head matchups against the president — has given Democrats plent of firepower in recent days. But even with today’s good jobs report, the economy should be a concern for Obama’s campaign, reports Ian Swanson at The Hill:
Recent economic reports could have the Obama White House worried.
All of the reports suggest the pace of economic growth is still slow, and that unemployment could rise, and not fall, by the end of the year.
2012 has been a good year for markets so far, despite unease over Europe. Every major index reported strong gains in January, and the rally on Wednesday continued a good year. Improving 401(k) plans might put voters in more of a mood to give Obama four more years in November.
Still, there are plenty of reasons to think the markets and jobless rate will go in a different direction later this year.
Here’s why the White House should be nervous:
• The Federal Reserve has announced it will keep interest rates low through 2014, a sign of its pessimism about the pace of the economic recovery.
• The Commerce Department found the nation’s economy grew at a 2.8 percent rate in the fourth quarter of 2011, a faster pace than the rest of the year but worse than expected. If the economic growth slows in the next quarter, it will be tough to keep unemployment down.
After some early morning confusion, Donald Trump, who had flirted with the idea of running for the GOP nomination last year, has endorsed Mitt Romney:
Celebrity business magnate Donald Trump endorsed Mitt Romney for president Thursday, telling reporters he will not mount an independent campaign if Romney is the Republican nominee.
Trump, who has repeatedly flirted with the possibility of his own White House bid, revealed his decision in Las Vegas two days before Nevada’s Saturday caucuses.
Media outlets had said that Trump would endorse Newt Gingrich, which made sense given that the former Speaker pandered heavily heavily to the reality TV show host. However, these have obviously turned out to be false.
The endorsement is interesting for a couple of different reasons. Trump’s endorsement is actually a negative in the minds of voters. Let’s face it, it became clear that his consideration of a presidential bid and Birtherism were nothing more Trump being a publicity whore, and voters saw right through it.
The other reason is because Romney snubbed Trump at the end of last year by declining an invitation to a Newsmax-sponsored debate that he was slated to moderate. Gingrich and Rick Santorum had opted to attend.
In case you haven’t already, Mitt Romney, the day after a very strong showing in Florida, stuck his foot in his mouth during an interview on CNN by saying that he is “not concerned about the very poor”:
After winning the Florida primary, GOP presidential nominee hopeful Mitt Romney explains to CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien that he is focused on a particular portion of the American population in his campaign. Romney says, “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair , I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich…. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.”
O’Brien asked him to clarify his remarks saying, “There are lots of very poor Americans who are struggling who would say, ‘That sounds odd.’” Romney continues, “We will hear from the Democrat party, the plight of the poor…. You can focus on the very poor, that’s not my focus…. The middle income Americans, they’re the folks that are really struggling right now and they need someone that can help get this economy going for them.”
Both anti-Romney conservatives and Democrats reacted to the comments, using them as another example of Romney being out of touch. Other, more reasonable conservatives, are just concerned that it feeds perceptions about Romney. For example, the Washington Examiner’s Conn Carroll writes:
On my drive home on Tuesday, I tuned into a Sean Hannity’s show for a few minutes, managing to catch a couple of minutes of the conservative talk show host’s conversation with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Toward the end of the interview, Hannity brought up that “Birthers,” this strange group of folks that have questioned President Barack Obama’s eligibility to serve, are now raising Rubio’s eligibility now that he has beem mentioned as a possible running mate for the Republican nominee. Hannity was dismissive of Birthers, calling them “idiots,” which is really too kind of a characterization.
Among the group now target Rubio is Joseph Farah, a prominent Birther and editor of WorldNutDaily, spoke with Hannity on Wednesday after hearing his exchange the previous day; and, well, made absolutely no sense:
Conservative Joseph Farah on Tuesday evening predicted that “10 percent of the Republican vote” would fail to get behind Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) as the hypothetical vice presidential nominee because they will believe the circumstances of his birth make him ineligible.
“Rubio is not eligible,” Farah told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “He’ll lose 10 percent of the Republican vote because he is not a natural-born citizen. We’ve been through this with Obama now for four years.”
Rubio was born in Miami in 1971. Farah’s argument against Rubio’s “natural born” status relies on a strict definition also used by Farah and others who raised doubts over Obama’s eligibility. The strict definition requires that both parents be legal citizens at the time of the birth.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is often viewed as a bastion of liberalism. It’s regularly excoriated by Republican politicians and pundits alike who want to pander to social conservatives because the ACLU has often led the opposition against SoCon attempts to impose their religious practices and moral values on the entire nation. Even libertarian and libertarian-leaning Republicans are often afraid to make nice with the ACLU. One libertarian who’s not afraid is former Governor Gary Johnson (L-N.M.), who met recently with the ACLU executive board and a group of staffers. From Reason:
It wasn’t until he got started on legalizing marijuana that the crowd (figuratively) lit up. A steady stream of applause followed Johnson’s declarations after that.
“I support gay marriage equality. I support repealing the PATRIOT Act. I would have vetoed the Department of Homeland Security, because I think it’s redundant. I would’ve never established the department of—the TSA agency. I think we should end the practices of torture. Period. I can understand the complexities in the following, but I think we should end the practices of detainment without being charged. There is nothing I want to see the government come in and fix with the Internet.”
Johnson also emphasized differences between himself and Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.):
“I don’t think that Ron Paul is going to win the Republican nomination. For the most part, we are talking about the same message, but we do have differences. And when he drops out, or finds an end to the Republican primary, I don’t see this agenda moving forward,” Johnson said.
The race for the Republican presidential nomination has turned ugly over these past few weeks thanks primarily to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.), whose campaigns have resorted to an “everything but the kitchen sink” smear campaign to destroy former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Mass.). Both Gingrich and Santorum have attacked Romney’s success in the private sector by criticizing his work at Bain Capital and relentlessly demanding that he release his tax returns. Gingrich’s campaign upped the ante when it unleashed a robocall slamming Romney for vetoing additional funding for kosher kitchens in nursing homes as Governor of Massachusetts. Apparently fiscal restraint has now joined business success in this race’s growing list of taboos.
As had come to be expected in days prior, Mitt Romney took Florida easily last night over Newt Gingrich, who defiantly promised to press on for the forseeable future despite the struggling to win a state where he had a lead a week before the primary.
Here are the results of the Florida Republican primary:
- Mitt Romney: 46%
- Newt Gingrich: 32%
- Rick Santorum: 13%
- Ron Paul: 7%
Romney wins all of the state’s 50 delegates, which was cut by 50% per Republican National Committee rules due to the Florida GOP holding its primary before March 6th (Super Tuesday). Gingrich wins nothing and the momentum he had built after South Carolina has been squandered after a couple bad debate performances, particularly the one in Jacksonville last Thursday.
So where is the race as it stands now? It appears that Gingrich doesn’t have high hopes for the Nevada and Minnesota caucuses. You’d have to expect Ron Paul to be a factor in both of those states, where his campaign directed its focus instead of competing Florida. However, Super Tuesday, which will include his home state of Georgia, may offer more to Gingrich. We’ll get a clearer picture of what to expect next month in the coming days as polling firms will no doubt provide us with plenty of numbers.
For those of you saying that Rick Santorum should get out of the race for the Republican nomination and endorse Newt Gingrich — the thinking being that it would unite the anti-Romney vote, there is new polling showing that this may not help knock off the GOP frontrunner:
Perhaps the most important number in the NBC-Marist poll was what happens when Santorum is removed from the race. Santorum’s vote splits off evenly if he’s removed, and Romney has an even WIDER lead over Gingrich, 49%-33%. So, Gingrich can’t make the argument that if conservatives weren’t divided he would win. The numbers just don’t bear that out. What’s really interesting — Santorum probably could argue that if GINGRICH weren’t in the race, he’d have a better chance against Romney. Santorum’s image is as good as it’s been since the campaign began.
That may be counterintuitive, but when you look at it, you’d have to make a lot of assumptions about Santorum’s supporters. I suppose some of it makes sense, being that evangelical Christians make up a lot of Santorum’s support, voters that may have an issue with voting for a Mormon.
And as much as I dislike diving into a candidate’s personal life, keep in mind that Gingrich’s has been married three times and has owned up to an affair. This is obviously going to be an issue to many religious-minded voters.
We’ll see what happens after tonight, but Santorum can justify sticking around for the time being. Whether he’s able to gain traction before Super Tuesday is an entirely different story. I’d never vote for the guy, but I think he may have another surge left in him before this is all said and done.
While wondering around Facebook and Twitter yesterday, I saw quite a few of my conservative friends — proud members of the anti-Romney faction in the Republican Party — pointing to video from 2006 where then Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was preparing to sign RomneyCare into law.
The reason the video is getting play is because Romney notes that he collaborated with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) in pushing the law through, obviously a moment that’ll make many Republican groan, and rightfully so:
The Massachusetts healthcare reform law, which — as we’ve noted many times here before, including today, served as the template for Obama. But conservatives that hammer Romney on this issue and push Newt Gingrich as the alternative are conveniently forgetting that he supported many of the same ideas that became part of RomneyCare, and later ObamaCare.
Over the weekend, Verum Serum posted audio from a May 2009 Center for Health Transformation conference call where Gingrich very clearly calls for some form of a requirement on individuals to purchase health insurance coverage:
If libertarians don’t want the Republican establishment to choose this year’s GOP nominee, a brokered convention is the last thing they should want.
Writing at The Fiscal Times, Ed Morrissey takes on conservatives who are hoping for a brokered Republican convention this year, arguing that a brokered convention is not only unlikely but undesirable because it would pave the way for the GOP establishment to choose a nominee who is more to their liking. Morrissey writes:
But let’s say for the sake of argument that no one candidate has a majority of the delegates, and none manages to wangle (sic) a majority on the first ballot at the convention. How does this benefit conservatives, who have fought the “establishment” that has pushed Romney for the nomination? The nominating process will then fall into the hands of the Republican National Committee, comprised of state party chairs and other power brokers, where the Tea Party has little or no influence. The fantasy in this case will be that the assembled party bosses and delegates, many of whom are part of state-party establishments, will crown a completely new candidate.
Who would that candidate likely be? It’s not going to be Sarah Palin or Herman Cain, who are the antithesis of this kind of back room wheeling and dealing and who aren’t necessarily trusted by the people negotiating the question. Assuming that it’s not one of the candidates who couldn’t close the deal in the primaries, it might be Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels, or another establishment figure that chose not to run and get vetted in the first place.