Mitt Romney

Multiple Choice Mitt strikes again!

Writing on Tuesday over at the National Review, likely 2012 GOP hopeful Mitt Romney claimed that he would give waivers to each state allowing them to withhold complying with ObamaCare:

If I were president, on Day One I would issue an executive order paving the way for Obamacare waivers to all 50 states. The executive order would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services and all relevant federal officials to return the maximum possible authority to the states to innovate and design health-care solutions that work best for them.

As I have stated time and again, a one-size-fits-all national plan that raises taxes is simply not the answer. Under our federalist system, the states are “laboratories of democracy.” They should be free to experiment. By the way, what works in one state may not be the answer for another. Of course, the ultimate goal is to repeal Obamacare and replace it with free-market reforms that promote competition and lower health-care costs. But since an outright repeal would take time, an executive order is the first step in returning power to the states.

Several states have sought waivers from different parts of the program. More than 1,000 have been issued to businesses, unions and local and state governments.

Tim Pawlenty forms presidential exploratory committee

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has announced the formation of an exploratory commitee for the Republican nomination for president in 2012. Among the themes Pawlenty discusses in the video are creating jobs, limiting government and reforming entitlements:

“This is our country. Our founding fathers created it, Americans embraced it, Ronald Reagan personified it, and Lincoln stood courageously to protect it. And that’s why today, I’m announcing the formation of an exploratory committee to run for president of the United States,” Pawlenty declared in the two-minute video.

The Republican ex-governor invokes his hard-luck upbringing in the video. “At a young age, I saw up close the face of challenge, the face of hardship, and the face of job loss,” he says. “Over the last year, I’ve traveled to nearly every state in the country and I know many Americans are feeling that way today. I know that feeling—I lived it.”

Here is the video of his announcement, which was released on his Facebook page yesterday afternoon:

Gingrich doesn’t regret expansion of Medicare

Given his all but certain entrance in the Republican presidential primary, you’d think that Newt Gingrich would be shifting to the right on economic issues. He’s not. In fact, he recently told a reporter during a press conference that he doesn’t regret expanding Medicare, an entitlement already projected to have trillions in unfunded liabilities over the several decades, by supporting and lobbying for passage of prescription drug benefit - Medicare Part D - in 2003:

At a press conference on Friday, CNSNews.com asked Gingrich, “You were a prominent supporter of the Medicare prescription drug plan that President Bush signed into law in 2003. The Medicare trustees now say that plan is $7.2 trillion in unfunded liabilities over the next 75 years. Do you regret your support for the plan looking back?”

“No,” said Gingrich. “I think that we—I mean, I am for dramatic reform of Medicare. I chaired the Medicare reform task force which saved it in 1996 when the trustees said it was going to go broke, and we passed changes which enabled them to say that we had postponed any problem for well over a decade.

Here is the video with Gingrich’s full comments:

DeMint won’t back Romney without repudiation of RomneyCare

Despite backing Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination in 2008, Sen. Jim DeMint says he won’t do so again unless the former Massachusetts Governor apologizes for the health insurance reform law - known as RomneyCare - that he still defends:

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) “would never consider” endorsing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for president again in 2012 unless Romney repudiates the health reforms he sought as governor, a source close to DeMint said Thursday.

A source close to the conservative icon emphasized that, despite comments to The Hill indicating that Romney shouldn’t shoulder all the political blame for the Massachusetts healthcare plan, DeMint wouldn’t endorse Romney again unless he admits the plan was mistaken.

“It’s obvious Jim was just trying to be nice to the guy he backed over McCain, as many conservatives did in 2008,” the source said. “But he would never consider backing Romney again unless he admits that his Massachusetts healthcare plan was a colossal mistake.”

DeMint says that Romney shouldn’t shoulder all the blame for it. I think he should since, as noted, Romney suggests to this day that his plan is a free market alternative and he defends the individual mandate - also a central part of ObamaCare.

As Jeff Jacoby notes, RomneyCare has been a disaster:

No leader in GOP race

Blogs all over the conservative blogosphere are all chattering about the unprecedented fact that there is no GOP leader for the party’s presidential nomination.  Apparently, there is usually a front runner at this point and that front runner ultimately wins out, at least according to Gallup.

Of course, Ed Morrissey offers this tidbit:

Interestingly, the sequence has two anomalies.  John McCain trailed Rudy Giuliani by 17 points in Gallup polling at this point in 2007, but ended up outlasting everyone to get the nomination.  In 1979, Reagan only had a five-point lead over Gerald Ford, which recalls the discomfort of the GOP establishment with Reagan even after Ford’s futile attempts to hold office in 1976.

Otherwise, the history of the GOP in open cycles is to give the nomination to the candidate perceived to be next it line.  But in this year, that could describe all three of the candidates leading the polling so far.  Huckabee and Romney finished second and third in 2008′s primaries in delegates, and Palin ran on the ticket.  However, more and more people wonder whether Huckabee or Palin will actually run — and whether Romney will suffer as a result[.]

The truth of the matter is that the GOP of today has been shaped (some would say warped) by the Tea Party, possibly to such an extent that historical trends may well be meaningless.

Morrissey is dead on about the indecision of Palin and Huckabee impacting the polling numbers.  Some will back them if they announce but won’t commit without that announcement.  That will throw things in almost any direction though.

Obama outpaces GOP candidates, Paul performs better than Trump

As President Barack Obama continues to move to the center as he begins to launch his bid for re-election, polling indicates that he leads potential Republican opponents - though he is still vulnerable:

Republican chances of taking down Obama are going to depend a lot on the type of candidate the party puts forward. Tested against a generic Republican we find Obama tied at 47%. When you ask about a couple more specific types of GOP candidates though the numbers move in different directions. Against a generic moderate Republican candidate Obama actually trails by 2 points at 46-44. But when you ask voters whether they’d go for Obama or a Tea Party conservative Republican he leads by 4 points at 49-45.

There’s a particularly large difference in how independents lean depending on the type of nominee the GOP ends up going with- they prefer a moderate Republican over Obama by 7 points, but they prefer Obama over a Tea Party style GOPer by 5 points. There’s no doubt Republican chances of defeating Obama will be best with a centrist. Whether the party base is really going to be willing to sacrifice some ideological purity to get that candidate is another question.

He may be tied with a generic Republican but Obama leads against all of the named candidates in this poll. He has a 3 point advantage over Mike Huckabee at 47-44, a 5 point one over Mitt Romney at 46-41, a 9 point one over Newt Gingrich at 49-40, a 9 point one also over Ron Paul at 48-39, a 12 point one over Sarah Palin at 52-40, a 14 point one over Jeb Bush at 50-36, and a 14 point one over Donald Trump at 48-34.

Part of the problem is nearly every candidate is viewed negatively by voters. If only “Generic Republican” could run in 2012.

Reflections on CPAC 2011

I was sitting in the Atlanta airport reflecting on this year’s CPAC, and I realized I was slightly disappointed.  While it was still a great conference and boasted a record crowd, it lacked some of its usual energy for me.  Maybe it was due to all the controversy surrounding the event, maybe it was just the overall dissatisfaction with the current crop of presidential candidates (57% of attendees were not satisfied with the current field and wanted stronger candidates—CPAC Straw Poll), or maybe it was the less stellar than ususal speaker line up, but I didn’t sense the enthusiasm of years past.

I was surprised at the number of high profile conservatives that skipped the conference this year.  Sarah Palin claimed it was a scheduling problem for the second year in a row.  I find that interesting because if I were gearing up to run for president, I think I would make time for the largest gathering of conservative activists in the world.  I also think it is worth noting her lackluster performance in the straw poll coming in 9th with 3% of the vote.

Several would be presidential candidates showed up at CPAC, but only a couple generated buzz—Haley Barbour and Mitch Daniels.  Daniels spoke at the Reagan Banquet on Friday night, and according to those in attendance, he hit a home run.  I watched the video of his speech on the CPAC website, and I agree that he did an excellent job.  I even heard some Paul supporters would be willing to get behind Daniels should Dr. Paul not run.

CPAC 2011 straw poll results

For the second year in a row, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) won the CPAC presidential straw poll. According to organizers of CPAC, more than 11,000 people attended this year’s conference, with 3,742 of them casting ballots in the straw poll (also a record number).

Here are the results of the straw poll. You can see last year’s results here:

  • Ron Paul: 30%
  • Mitt Romney: 23%
  • Gary Johnson: 6%
  • Chris Christie: 6%
  • Newt Gingrich: 5%
  • Tim Pawlenty: 4%
  • Michele Bachmann: 4%
  • Mitch Daniels: 4%
  • Sarah Palin: 3%
  • Herman Cain: 2%
  • Mike Huckabee: 2%
  • Rick Santorum: 2%
  • John Thune: 2%
  • Jon Huntsman: 1%
  • Haley Barbour: 1%
  • Other: 5%
  • Undecided: 1%

Other highlights from the straw poll:

Liberty Links: Morning Reads for Friday, February 4th

Below is a collection of several links that we didn’t get around to writing about, but still wanted to post for readers to examine. The stories typically range from news about prominent figures in the liberty movement, national politics, the nanny state, foreign policy and free markets.

David Axelrod credits Mitt Romney for parts of ObamaCare

Like it or not fans of Mitt Romney, this is a valid criticism that you had better get used to as we enter the Republican presidential primary:

Top Obama advisor David Axelrod, who left the White House last week to lay the groundwork for the president’s reelection campaign, is already needling a potential Republican rival.

In an interview with USA Today, Axelrod goes out of his way to credit Mitt Romney for implementing a universal health care plan when he was governor of Massachusetts that shares many similarities with the White House-backed law that has proved so unpopular with Republicans.

“We got some good ideas from him,” said Axelrod in a clear effort to highlight Romney’s involvement with implementing a law similar to that which is so disliked among Republicans nationwide.

Romney has stood by the 2006 implementation of universal health care in Massachusetts, but has said it was drafted to address Massachusetts’s problems, no those of the entire nation.
As for the Republican field as a whole, Axelrod said it is the “most unfathomable… of my lifetime.”

“I don’t think anybody in the media or in either party can tell you with any degree of certainty who the Republican nominee will be,” he said.

The individual mandate, the centerpiece of the health care “reform” law passed last year, was also a part of the Heritage Foundation-backed law in Massachusetts, which has proved to be a drain on the state’s budget.


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