Gary Johnson, a former two-term Governor of New Mexico, announced this morning that he is leaving the field for the Republican nomination and switching parties to seek the Libertarian Party’s nomination next May in Las Vegas.
Despite his stellar fiscal record and support for limited government, Johnson struggled to be included in the Republican debates; only appear in two out of nearly two dozen. Many debates set criteria for inclusion based on polling, which was unfortunate for Johnson since he was often not included in many of these surveys. Johnson had been flirting with this idea for some time, making it a horribly kept secret.
Johnson winning the Libertarian Party’s nomination isn’t a sure thing. He’ll have to go through the process like the rest of the candidates. He’ll also face scrutiny because he was Republican.
In case you haven’t seen the statement from the campaign, here is what was e-mailed out to supporters less than an hour ago.
By now, you have probably heard the news.
This morning, I stepped before the microphones at a news conference in the New Mexico capitol and announced that I am seeking the Libertarian nomination for President of the United States. The Libertarian Party nominee will be on the ballot in all 50 states – as was the case in 2008.
It was both a difficult decision – and an easy one. It was difficult because I have a lot of Republican history, and a lot of Republican supporters. But in the final analysis, as many, many commentators have said since watching how I governed in New Mexico, I am a Libertarian - that is, someone who is fiscally very conservative but holds freedom-based positions on many social issues.
Much has been made in recent days about the newsletters that were written in Ron Paul’s name some 20 years ago. A few of us here have weighed in on the controversy, and you’ve no doubt seen it on other blogs; some believing Paul’s explantion of the events, others using it as yet another opportunity to criticize him.
As I recently noted, I plan on voting for Ron Paul in the March 6th primary in my home state of Georgia. However, I also made mention of some issues I have with him, though I only mentioned his love of earmarks. Another point that was in the back of my mind when I wrote that post was the newsletters.
Personally, I don’t believe Paul wrote the newsletters. Did he know about their content? I think that is debatable. Do I believe that Paul is a racist or anti-gay? Absolutely not. As he has so frequently said, though he is borrowing from Ayn Rand, to be a racist is to view people as groups, not individuals; and that is anathema to the libertarian viewpoint. Paul also voted to get rid of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which prevented gays from serving openly in the military.
Nevertheless, this controversy has again caused somewhat of a headache for libertarians since the man who is largely carrying our mantle is being cast as a racist — or, at the very least, someone who associates with them. Steve Horwitz explains the dilemma:
Earlier this month it seemed as though Newt Gingrich was rolling. Herman Cain’s exit forced conservative voters to look for yet another “anti-Romney,” which led them to settle on Gingrich. There were three things that could hurt Gingrich’s campaign moving keeping them momentum; 1) his past record and statements 2) his arrogance and 3) lack of campaign organization.
The first two have certainly played part, though his record has been a more glaring problem than his arrogance as campaigns have pounded his relentlessly for backing big government. But the lack of campaign organization is just embarassing. Just last week, Gingrich was booted from the ballot in Virginia because he failed to turn in the proper amount of signatures (Rick Perry also failed to meet the requirements):
The Republican Party of Virginia announced early Saturday that Gingrich and Perry failed to submit 10,000 signatures of registered voters required to get their names on the ballot for the March 6 primary.
“After verification, RPV has determined that Newt Gingrich did not submit required 10k signatures and has not qualified for the VA primary,” the party announced on Twitter.
The rejection is a significant setback for the Gingrich campaign since he is leading the polls in Virginia among likely Republican voters and is seen as a strong contender for the nomination.
Perry’s campaign told state election officials it had submitted 11,911 signatures, and Gingrich’s campaign said it submitted 11,050 signatures. State party officials spent Friday night validating the signatures.
As we approach the Iowa caucus, we’re seeing several new polls released that show Newt Gingrich’s lead over Mitt Romney has completely evaporated. Take the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll showing both at 30%, with Ron Paul following well behind them in third:
- Mitt Romney: 30%
- Newt Gingrich: 30%
- Ron Paul: 15%
- Rick Perry: 7%
- Michele Bachmann: 7%
- Rick Santorum: 3%
- Jon Huntsman: 3%
- None/No opinion: 5%
The Hill has some important takeaways from the poll, including that 36% of Republican voters could still change their minds before they cast their ballot:
The poll shows Romney might still be winning the electability argument, as 38 percent believed that of all the candidates, Romney “has the best chance to defeat Barack Obama in the general election,” compared to Gingrich’s 28 percent. However, Gingrich wins 43 percent compared to Romney’s 23 percent when voters were asked who “has the best experience to be president.”
Healthcare — and likely his support of the individual mandate in Massachusetts — still seems to be the major obstacle for Romney to overcome with voters, as 36 percent named it a “major reason to oppose” him as the nominee.
With the last couple of polls out of Iowa showing him at the front of the pack (though one of them is within the margin of error) — thanks in large part to younger voters, Ron Paul has rolled out another new ad in early primary states.
The new ad, rolled out like a movie preview, shows Washington as a “lost city” that has “lost hope” where none of the political parties can agree on anything and shift blame on each other for failures. The ad shows Paul emerging as someone that has always remained constant, voting against every tax hike and will pushing for $1 trillion in spending cuts during his first year.
Here’s the ad:
With the Iowa caucus just a couple of weeks away, camapaigns are working hard to make a good impression on voters and to push down rivals. Polls earlier this month had showed Newt Gingrich doing well in the Hawkeye State, but as his record has been attacked, his base of support has dropped.
Recent polls had showed Gingrich in a statistical tie with Paul and/or Mitt Romney in the state; but according to the latest survey from Public Policy Polling (PPP), Gingrich has bottomed out and Ron Paul now leads (though Romney is in the margin of error):
- Ron Paul: 23%
- Mitt Romney: 20%
- Newt Gingrich: 14%
- Rick Perry: 10%
- Michele Bachmann: 10%
- Rick Santorum: 10%
- Jon Huntsman: 4%
- Other/Not sure: 7
PPP dives into Paul’s numbers:
Paul’s ascendancy is a sign that perhaps campaigns do matter at least a little, in a year where there has been a lot of discussion about whether they still do in Iowa. 22% of voters think he’s run the best campaign in the state compared to only 8% for Gingrich and 5% for Romney. The only other candidate to hit double digits on that question is Bachmann at 19%. Paul also leads Romney 26-5 (with Gingrich at 13%) with the 22% of voters who say it’s ‘very important’ that a candidate spends a lot of time in Iowa. Finally Paul leads Romney 29-19 among the 26% of likely voters who have seen one of the candidates in person.
With roughly 75% of the Republican electorate choosing another candidate, Mitt Romney is making an appeal to the Tea Party-minded voters. Romney is hoping that the endorsement of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who was backed with Tea Party support, will convince these voters that he is worthy of their backing:
In a state where the Tea Party may hold greater influence than in any other early primary contest, Mitt Romney told reporters in South Carolina today he could be the “ideal” candidate to earn Tea Party support.
“I believe on the issues as well, that I line up with [Tea Party supporters]: a smaller government, a less intrusive government, regulations being pared back, holding down the tax rates of the American people, maintaining a strong defense – and so many Tea Party folks are going to find me, I believe, to be the ideal candidate,” Romney said.
The former Massachusetts governor also contrasted his personal background with that of the state’s current frontrunner, Newt Gingrich, in making his appeal for Tea Party support.
“I think the Tea Party is anxious to have people who are outside Washington coming in to change Washington, as opposed to people who have been in Washington for 30 years,” Romney said.
At his side, Governor Haley noted that there was “no such thing as a Tea Party candidate,” but that a candidate can be supported by the Tea Party.
“That is what makes the Tea Party great. They’re independent people,” Haley said.
Over the last several months, we’ve noted numerous times that Mitt Romney is incredibly inconsistent. He’s been on just about every side of issues that are important to conservatives. And the guy comes across like the typical politician; someone that will say anything to get your vote.
While I’m not fan of Newt Gingrich and believe he is just as inconsistent, Romney’s bomb-throwing on his rival’s record is laughable. I know, it’s a primary and every candidate is going to play the “I’m more conservative” card whenever they have a chance. But with Romney, there is just so much to counter this. And it’s not in the way of support for statist policies, Romney has litterally run away from conservatism.
During his race against Sen. Ted Kennedy in 1994, Romney played down the Contract with America, which was key to the Republican takeover of Congress, saying that it “is not a good idea to go into a ‘contract’ like what was organized by the Republican Party in Washington”:
Yesterday, I noted new polling from the American Research Group showing that Rick Perry was making a bit of a comeback in Iowa. That may or may not be true. Polls are difficult to read and nearly everyone shows something different, but what we do know is that Newt Gingrich’s support is fading.
The latest poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP), which is a Democratic firm, shows that Ron Paul is now in a statistical tie with Gingrich. Here is how the field shapes up in the Hawkeye State, at least according to PPP:
- Newt Gingrich: 22% (-5)
- Ron Paul: 21% (+3)
- Mitt Romney: 16% (—)
- Michele Bachmann: 11% (-2)
- Rick Perry: 9% (—)
- Rick Santorum: 8% (+2)
- Jon Huntsman: 5% (+1)
- Gary Johnson: 1% (—)
- Other/Not sure: 7%
PPP also shows Paul with the highest favorability, 61%, of any of the Republicans candidates. Only 31% have an unfavorable view of the Texas Congressman.
When these results were release yesterday, I saw several conservative scoff at them. For example, RedState’s Dan tweeted this:
Folks, Ron Paul can’t crack 20% in IA http://bit.ly/rPwWkZ in 2008 he drew 9% there to Mitt’s 26%. His ceiling’s too low.
During a recent sit down with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Newt Gingrich, who is leading the polls in the race for the GOP nomination, said that Mitt Romney is on his list of potential running mates (video at the link):
Newt Gingrich has at least one name on his list of potential running mates: GOP rival Mitt Romney. “I think Mitt Romney is a very admirable person, and I’m not going to pick a fight with Mitt Romney,” Gingrich said in an interview Wednesday with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
When asked if he would ever ask Romney to be his vice presidential nominee, Gingrich didn’t mince words.
“I think the consensus is that he’d certainly be on the list, whether he’d want to or not,” Gingrich said. “He’s a very competent person. This is a very serious man. I would certainly support him if he became the Republican nominee.”
Um, no thanks. Both Gingrich, who is the source of skepticism amongst conservatives, and Romney have supported an individual mandate for health insurances, bailouts, and other big government programs. Gingrich lobbied for GSEs like Freddie Mac, which helped inflate the housing bubble. Romney changes his beliefs almost daily. Neither of them are serious about reducing the size of the federal government.
A Gingrich/Romney ticket would essentially be asking voters to sign off on everything wrong with the GOP. That would be an electoral disaster.