If you’ve spent enough time around here, you know that I’m not a fan of Mitt Romney. He hasn’t given conservatives or libertarians a real reason to support him given that he is unapologetic for RomneyCare, which served as the blueprint for ObamaCare.
However, there has been some criticism of Romney that is out of bounds. When Newt Gingrich was being attacked last month for lobbying services as a historian for Freddie Mac, the former Speaker fired back, suggesting that Romney should “give back all the money he’s earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years at Bain.”
This populist line of attack from a so-called conservative is troubling since it sounds like it could have come from Barack Obama, and it no doubt will in the fall. David Harsanyi, at the time, criticized Gingrich for his anti-capitialist tone and defended Romney:
As mentioned in today’s GOP Presidential Power Rankings, Mitt Romney now leads in South Carolina, an important early primary state, and Newt Gingrich has fallen to third thanks to a surging Rick Santorum.
Here are the results of the new Rasmussen poll:
- Mitt Romney: 27%
- Rick Santorum: 24%
- Newt Gingrich: 18%
- Ron Paul: 11%
- Rick Perry: 5%
- Jon Huntsman: 2%
Romney’s lead has also been confirmed by surveys conducted by Public Polling Polling and CNN/Time, and he’s outside of the margin of error in those polls. This is obviously good news for Romney, who may wind up with a clean sweep of the four January primaries. The bad news for Romney is that Gingrich still has time to impact the race in the two weeks between the New Hampshire and South Carolina primary.
Speaking of Santorum; yes, he has managed to receive a bump in the polls, but his numbers are really limited to social conservatives. Fiscal conservatives are rightfully skeptical of him and are largely staying with other candidates. That gives you the feeling that Santorum has reached ceiling.
It certainly sounded, on Tuesday evening, like Texas Gov. Rick Perry was about get out of the race for the GOP’s presidential nomination. But by yesterday afternoon, Perry said he was still in the race and headed for South Carolina:
Perry tweeted a message to supporters earlier in the day suggesting he would remain in the Republican presidential race.
“And the next leg of the marathon is the Palmetto State … Here we come South Carolina!!!” Perry tweeted from his account, along with a picture of himself, dressed in workout gear, giving a thumbs-up to the camera.
“I was out on the trail when it kind of came to me,” Perry told reporters, according to The Des Moines Register.
“It’s there, it’s clearly there,” he said, apparently speaking of the path forward for his campaign.
Perry also knocked the process in Iowa and suggested that many caucus-goers weren’t “real Republicans,” which was a probably a poor move. In fact, saying in the race is probably a poor move. Perry is currently polling, according to Real Clear Politics, at 5.7% in South Carolina; far behind Newt Gingrich, who leads in the state, and Mitt Romney.
During his classless concession speech last evening, Newt Gingrich claimed that his campaign stayed positive, unlike others in the race. This has been a complaint in the last of couple weeks from Gingrich. During a TV interview yesterday, Gingrich called Romney a “liar,” a charge that stems from attack ads against him from a “super PAC” supporting Romney.
Reading between the lines from last night, Gingrich certainly seems ready to run a scorched earth campaign against Romney the rest of the way. It’s going to get nasty, folks:
After criticizing Romney for running a negative campaign and promising to stay positive, Gingrich appeared before supporters to criticize the former Massachusetts governor as someone who couldn’t bring change to Washington. He also planned to run television ads against Romney in the next three states to vote - New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.
The former House speaker called Romney a “Massachusetts moderate who, in fact, is pretty good at managing the decay.” He said the ex-governor has “given no evidence in his years in Massachusetts of any ability to change the culture or change the political structure.”
Gingrich’s planned a full-page ad in the New Hampshire Union Leader that was to appear as he touched down in the state early Wednesday. It labels Gingrich a “Bold Reagan Conservative” and Romney a “Timid Massachusetts Moderate.”
At least one pro-Gingrich super PAC also was getting into the mix.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has released a candidate report card, dubbed Liberty Watch 2012, that weighs the Republcians hopefuls, now-Libertarian Gary Johnson and President Barack Obama on various civil liberties issues, including ending torture, closing Gitmo, and ending the surveillance state.
To be clear, I don’t necessarily agree with the ACLU on all of the issues weighed, but the group has been great on fighting for privacy and personal liberty. The ACLU’s rundown on these issue, from the perspective of the Republican candidates, is interesting:
Just in time for the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, we’re releasing a report card today, with the ACLU’s Constitution and civil liberties experts providing a critical assessment of the major candidates of all parties, grading them with four to zero constitutional “torches” on seven key issues, including national security, immigration, marriage equality and reproductive choice. More issues will be added.
We may surprise some people in that the scores in the report card — which is viewable here — don’t divide along party lines. In fact, the report card reveals a deep ideological rift in the GOP.
Our experts found that Republicans Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman earned solid scores, with four, three and two torches across most major categories, although both received one torch on marriage equality and none on reproductive rights.
We have yet another new poll out of Iowa today showing that the Rick Santorum surge is for real; at least right now. The poll, released by NBC, echoes others polls released this week by CNN and Rasmussen that show Santorum moving into third place overall. However, the NBC poll also shows Gingrich dropping to fifth.
- Mitt Romney: 23%
- Ron Paul: 21%
- Rick Santorum: 15%
- Rick Perry: 14%
- Newt Gingrich: 13%
- Michele Bachmann: 6%
Gingrich’s drop was aided by a substantial number of attack ads being run against by by super PACs and other campaigns. Perry has also seen a window of opportunity in recent days and attacking Santorum’s abysmal fiscal record, including his use of earmarks. Santorum’s defense is terrible.
The strangest development out of the state today is that Ron Paul will take this weekend off from the campaign trail to spend with his wife. With the caucus just a few days away, many observers are questioning the wisdom of such a move when public appearances to rally supporters are important. With that said, Paul does have a dedicated base of supporters that will no doubt continue working hard, but it helps to have the candidate there actively campaigning.
One of the most frequent, and perhaps best, arguments for Mitt Romney winning the Republican nomination is that he the most electable candidate. Of course, that relative given that the voters in a general election haven’t been exposed to his flaws the way Republicans have in what is his second bid for the nomination.
With that said, most polls do show Romney doing the best against President Barack Obama, including this most recent survey from Rasmussen, a polling firm that tends to favor Republicans:
- Obama: 39%
- Romney: 45%
Rasmussen has conducted recent surveys testing the strength of some of the candidates in the GOP field against Obama, and none of them poll quite as well. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum trail by 10 points. Rick Perry trails by 12 and Michele Bachmann by 13. Trailing by 8 points, Ron Paul has the smallest margin with Obama among the rest of the field.
Interestingly, Romney does better in a head-to-head matchup with Obama than the “generic Republican.” In past polls, the so-called “generic Republican” often did better against Obama than the actual candidates in the field.
While I’m not much of a fan of Romney and would probably vote third party if he were the nominee, many friends and colleagues ask me which of the candidates can beat Obama. At this point, here’s your answer.
Via the National Review comes a look at new ads on the air in Iowa from Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, both of whom are hoping to raise their numbers in advance of Tuesday’s caucus.
Newt Gingrich’s latest ad touts his jobs plan, which he says would lower taxes on small business and promote energy independence:
And Ron Paul’s latest ad strike familiar themes of targeting Washington and criticizing Gingrich and Mitt Romney as “serial hypocrites” and “flip floppers.” The ad also promote Paul’s plan to cut spending by $1 trillion and balance the budget:
Among my frequent criticisms of Newt Gingrich was his support of Medicare Part D, which was passed in 2003 with the support of President George W. Bush. Medicare Part D, which covers prescription drugs, is expansion of an already troubled government-run insurance program that has been estimated to add anywhere between $7 trillion to $9.4 trillion in unfunded liabilties.
Keep in mind that Medicare and Social Security together represent some $61 trillion in unfunded liabilties. So the last thing we should be doing is adding to that. Yet, that’s exactly what Newt Gingrich did when the bill was before the House, according to former Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO):
Former Colorado Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, now a director at the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, said Gingrich called her at the height of the 2003 debate urging her to vote for the bill.
“Newt called me to vote yes,” Musgrave told CNN by phone on Wednesday.
“He asked for a yes vote on a Medicare prescription drug benefit,” she said. “Dick Armey” – former House Majority Leader – “called me and wanted a no. But I had already made up my mind to vote not to expand an entitlement that we were going to have to pay for down the road.”
Musgrave was one of 19 House Republicans who voted against the plan, which passed 220-215.
Two more Republicans who served in Congress at the time, Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake and Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, told the Des Moines Register this week that Gingrich lobbied them to vote in favor of the Medicare provision.