Romney was at one of the nerve centers for the campaign to pass the Issues. CNN’s Peter Hamby asked a simple question: Did he support them?
Rep. Ron Paul rarely makes news, and his candidacy is frequently ignored by Beltway reporters. But headlines, his aides say, are overrated. In fact, the Texas Republican’s low-key autumn was strategic. As Paul’s competitors stumbled and sparred, he amassed a small fortune for his campaign and built a strong ground operation. And with January fast approaching, his team is ready to surprise the political world and sweep the Iowa caucuses.
“This was a movement when he first started running in 2008,” says Trygve Olson, a senior Paul adviser. “Now it’s turned into a highly professionalized campaign, but the energy from that last run is still there, and at the heart of what’s keeping up his momentum.”
The latest polls back up that confidence. In the influential Des Moines Register poll published over the weekend, Paul placed second. Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, captured 25 percent of likely Iowa GOP voters, but Paul garnered 18 percent, two points ahead of Mitt Romney, who in 2008 placed second in the caucuses.
If Paul wins Iowa, the upset could upend what many politicos say is a two-man race between Gingrich and Romney. According to state GOP insiders, a Paul victory is a real possibility. In background conversations, many say Paul is much stronger than outside observers believe, with deep and wide support among a frustrated electorate. With Herman Cain’s departure from the race, operatives see Paul potentially collecting a quarter of caucus attendees.
The choices for libertarian oriented Republicans in this year’s Republican field are, admittedly, better than they have in the past. Not only is Ron Paul doing much better than he did four years ago, getting more press attention, and seemingly surging into second place in Iowa, but we’ve also got Gary Johnson, former two-term Governor of New Mexico.
There’s been much to lament about Johnson’s campaign, of course, not the least being the near disaster caused due to a campaign miscommunication that almost kept Johnson off the New Hampshire ballot, as well as staff problems inside the campaign. At the same time, though, Johnson has largely been ignored by the media, and kept out of nearly all the debates due to low poll numbers (although, as Johnson has noted himself, it’s hard to do well in the polls when they don’t even include your name on the list of prospective candidates).
The possibility that Johnson could run for the Libertarian Party nomination for President next year is also encouraging. It’s not perfect, of course, and libertarian Republicans have had to sit back and watch a bunch of incompetents like Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain rise in the polls and get far more media attention than either their qualifications or their accomplishments would seem to warrant while a two-term Governor is ignored. Nonetheless, it’s better than we’ve had it in the past, and hopefully a sign that libertarian-leaning candidates are gaining wider acceptance in the Republican Party as a whole.
Guess what? The race for the Republican nomination has been shaken up again. Many of us saw Herman Cain’s downfall coming, it was only a matter of time. But still the fact that he lasted this far into the race is concerning given his lack of experience and complete lack of knowledge on some of the most basic issues, including foreign policy.
It looks as though Newt Gingrich has been able to capitalize on Cain’s misfortune and, as noted earlier, seems like to receive an endorsement. Gingrich leads in six of the last nine national polls, hold a single-digit lead in Iowa, and double-digit leads in Florida and South Carolina. Mitt Romney still leads in New Hampshire, but Gingrich and Ron Paul are gaining steam.
The emergence of Newt Gingrich as frontrunner for the Republican nomination is without doubt very odd. Many pundits thought that Gingrich’s campaign dead in the water after making some incredibly dumb comments about Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan. We were all wrong, apparently.
It’s not like the conservative base has embraced Gingrich. After all, Herman Cain excited the base at the beginning of the race. But that eventually moved to Michele Bachmann, who had her brief time in the limelight and won the Ames Straw Poll in mid-August. But after Rick Perry jumped in the race, Bachmann became a distant memory. After Perry proved himself to be an incapable debator and gaffe-prone, where did the support go? Not Gingrich, but back to the inexperienced and unproven Cain.
But now with Cain tapering off again, it’s Gingrich — not Rick Santorum or Ron Paul — who is reaping the benefits. Why? As I noted recently, it’s because GOP voters remember him and respect him as a some sort of intellectual conservative (laughable, I know, given all the statist policies he’s supported).
The reason conservatives aren’t flocking to Paul are sort of obvious, though I don’t expect his average supporter to grasp them. Paul isn’t a neo-conservative, so he doesn’t appeal to warmongers defense-minded GOP voters. While he is personally opposed to gay marriage, he is also a defender of the Tenth Amendment and opposes the Federal Marriage Amendment. And let’s face it, he doesn’t come off as that great of a debator. Sure, his ideas are sound on paper and in practice, I believe. But when it comes articulating them, he just isn’t that great.
Due to a new claim of a 13-year affair, Herman Cain told several dozen staff members and advisors that he was “reassessing” whether he wanted to continue his quest for the Republican nomination:
In a morning conference call with his advisers, Mr. Cain said that he would make a decision in the coming days about whether to stay in the race after his campaign was rocked by another round of allegations about his sexual conduct.
The call, which was first reported by National Review, came as Mr. Cain was heading to Michigan for a campaign stop on Tuesday evening. He said that he was discussing the future of his campaign with his family and was considering his options.
“This is cause for reassessment,” Mr. Cain said, according to one participant on the call who spoke on condition of anonymity. “During the summer we had to make some reassessments based on our financial situation. We were able to hang in there.”
Mr. Cain denied the accusations from the Atlanta woman, Ginger White. But he acknowledged that the latest report of sexual misconduct might be more difficult to overcome, considering that the first voting is set to take place in five weeks at the Iowa caucuses. He said that he had not lost his enthusiasm to run, but suggested it was a distraction that could be difficult to recover from.
“With this latest one, we have to do an assessment as to whether or not this is going to create too much of a cloud in some peoples’ minds as to whether or not they should support us going forward,” Mr. Cain said, according to the participant on the call.
Dan Drezner, a columnist at Foreign Policy magazine, has a great blog post up explaining why he calls himself a “RINO,” or “Republican-In-Name-Only,” that epithet usually utilized by such sagacious and distinguished intellects as Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, and Ann Coulter. While it does lean towards foreign policy (naturally), the whole thing is a good read. Here’s the snippet I want to focus on, though, his three reasons for being a RINO:
In my case, at this point in time, I believe that last appellation to be entirely fair and accurate. I’m not a Democrat, and I don’t think I’ve become more liberal over time. That said, three things have affected my political loyalties over the past few years. First, I’ve become more uncertain about various dimensions of GOP ideology over time. It’s simply impossible for me to look at the aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the 2008 financial crisis and not ponder the myriad ways in which my party has made some categorical errors in judgment. So I’m a bigger fan of the politics of doubt during an era when doubt has been banished in political discourse.
Second, the GOP has undeniably shifted further to the right over the past few years, and while I’m sympathetic to some of these shifts, most of it looks like a mutated version of “cargo cult science” directed at either Ludwig Von Mises or the U.S. Constitution (which, of course, is sacred and inviolate, unless conservatives want to amend it). Sorry, I’m not embracing outdated concepts like the gold standard or repealing the 16th Amendment. Not happening.
I went into Saturday night’s debate on foreign policy fully expecting to be depressed. Despite the party’s claims that it has learned its lessons from Bush’s mistakes, one area where the GOP is entirely unreformed is in foreign policy. A decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan has not deterred the hawks of the party who still see aggressive military action as both viable and even desirable. And yes, the party still wholeheartedly endorses torture.
The torture support is truly baffling from a party that claims to be about morality and traditional values. On issues like abortion and gay marriage, we are told that the federal government needs to have an activist role that extends far beyond strict Constitutional mandates because the issues are so important. On these matters, the moral case is simply so compelling that small-government ideas go out the door. (As an aside, I am not necessarily against state-level action here, but the federal government has NO role.)
Yet when it comes to fighting terrorists, despite the moral weight clearly being on the side of humane treatment and the rule of law, Republicans line up and endorse treatment of prisoners that justified execution when the Japanese did it during World War II. The only explanation I can come up with is that the average Republican voter is so terrified of terrorists that they take a pass on the moral dilemma here. It’s sad to say the least that they have ceded the high ground on this issue, all for the illusion that brutal interrogations make us safer.
As we role merrily right along into November, I, along with the rest of the libertarian crowd, am watching the Republican Party blissfully make the same tired mistakes yet again. Watching what appears to be unsynchronized cat herding under penalty of broken knee caps can be entertaining, but at this point, I’m really close to pulling out a speech worthy of a spot in Pulp Fiction on Samuel Jackson’s cue cards.
On saying “we have to remove Obama” out of fear and we can only support whoever the eventual GOP Nominee is: I’ve already written about this subject in The Strategy of Hating One. In the current cycle, it’s President Obama, but the previous installment was Bill Clinton and little blue dress. You can point to a general belief that the President is a Marxist or Socialist without too much opposition. You can make the point that the closest description of our country is Fascism. But I have to challenge you to point out the differences between the last Republican President or the alternative of McCain, and this Democrat President. We have stayed in Iraq until they are kicking us out, we have escalated Afghanistan, Libya, kept Gitmo open. Leaving the main differences that the increase in spending has been larger than say a McCain might have done, and Obamacare has been pushed through. And frankly, Obamacare could very well be named McCain-Care given the same congressional make-up.
Mitt Romney, who many believe is the inevitable Republican nominee, just keeps burning bridges with conservatives. We’ve explained them here over the course of the last year, so there is no need to go back over them.
But with labor unions becoming a target for many conservatives, and rightfully so, after the reasonable measures pushed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker earlier this year and the Boeing debacle in South Carolina, it’s an incredibly dumb move to snub the party’s base. Yet Romney did just that yesterday by declining to endorse or even give a position on a ballot measure in Ohio that would limit the collective bargaining rights of public-sector workers:
Mitt Romney stopped in Ohio today, where polls show him competitive with Herman Cain in the March 2012 primary. He stopped by a Republican phone bank where volunteers were drumming up support for two ballot measures — one of them a national cause celebre for the left. Issue 2, if passed, would affirm the collective bargaining reform Republicans pushed through this year. The measure is on the ballot because unions want to beat it, and overturn the law, and polling suggests that they can. Issue 3, if passed, would prevent Ohio from participating in any health care mandate — federal, state, whatever.
My write-up from Friday concerning Ron Paul and Gary Johnson created quite a stir. I wanted to take an opportunity to write a follow-up to address some of the questions and concerns of several of the readers. For those who haven’t read the original write-up, please do so here.
I thought that I had made it pretty clear that this wasn’t just some guy commenting on a page. This was the actual page owner posting an update that was going out to the page’s readership. There were several pages on Facebook that posted it. Those pages include Ron Paul 2012 (18,500+ fans), Ron Paul Revolution (20,000+), several state pages (with readerships ranging in the hundreds), and at least a couple of others. Once again, these were the actual pages, not just random people commenting. I would bet money there were many other pages on Facebook as well as countless blogs, forums, and other webpages posting this same line. Regarding the ones on Facebook that I saw, there were hundreds of responses and of those, a majority felt like there was a conspiracy or at least an orchestrated effort to get Johnson in the debate as it might hurt Dr. Paul. So we’re definitely not talking one person. We’re talking hundreds with exposure to thousands. In all fairness, there were several responses on these pages discounting that theory.