tea party movement
As he comes closer to securing the Republican presidential nomination, Ron Paul’s delegate strategy notwithstanding, Mitt Romney is no doubt weighing the various names that could partner with him on the ticket. There are a few safe picks that would appease conservatives, but not many that would appeal to independent voters; at least not without a proper rollout and a lot of selling.
But yesterday at the National Review, Robert Costa floated our old friend, Tax Hike Mike Huckabee, someone that has been under radar when it comes to a possible vice presidential pick:
[A]ccording to several sources close to the Romney campaign, who insisted on anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the vice-presidential search, the 56-year-old Arkansan may be included in the veep mix.
To many Republicans, a ticket with a Mormon bishop and a Baptist preacher isn’t far-fetched. “In a way, it’s almost a dream ticket,” says Ed Rollins, the chairman of Huckabee’s 2008 presidential campaign. “He’s substantive and knows domestic policy, and his personality wouldn’t overshadow Romney’s.”
For now, it isn’t clear whether Huckabee is going to be vetted, or that he’s anywhere near Romney’s short list. But he is, at the very least, being discussed. As one Romney ally puts it, tapping Huckabee would energize tea-party conservatives, evangelicals, and related voters who soured on Romney during the GOP primaries. He’s also not a sweat-inducing pick, since he was vetted by the Beltway press during his presidential run four years ago.
Last year, comedian Chris Rock made some disparaging remarks about Tea Party activists, calling them “insane” and “crazy” and insinuating that they are racists. The comments were certainly disappointing, but they weren’t much different from what other actors and have said about the Tea Party since it came on the scene in 2009.
But when Jason Mattera, a conservative author, asked him about the comments in January at the Sundance Film Festival, Rock reacted violently, ripping the camera from Mattera’s camerawoman and throwing it some 50 feet:
I’m not a big fan of this sort of “journalism,” nor do I particularly care for Mattera’s tactics. And I can understand that Rock felt trapped. But he could have obviously handled the situation in a way that doesn’t make him look like a complete psycho. Rock owes Mattera and his camerawoman an apology and a new camera.
It’s no secret that national grassroots and Tea Party groups, including our friends at FreedomWorks, are gunning for Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN), who is one of the poster children (metaphorically speaking) of everything wrong with the Republican Party from a fiscal standpoint.
His primary opponent, Richard Mourdock, is seizing on that point, recently launching an ad hitting Lugar on wasteful earmarks, including supporting the now-infamous Bridge to Nowhere and a teapot museum:
Lugar’s absence from Indiana is also becoming a point for many conservatives and Democrats in the state. Apparently, Lugar lists a home he sold some 35 years ago as his primary residence. So when he visits his “constituents” in Indiana, he winds up staying in a hotel at taxpayer expense (emphasis mine):
The Indiana Democratic Party has combed through records going all the way back to Lugar’s first year in the Senate, 1977.
With a win in Florida under his belt, Mitt Romney is looking west to the caucus in Nevada tomorrow where the latest poll shows him leading his rivals for the Republican nomination by a large margin.
The poll, sponsored by the Las Vegas Review-Journal (LVRJ) and the local CBS affiliate, shows Romney taking 45% of the vote among likely caucus-goers, with a substantial amount of support coming from Mormons. Romney also performs well with “strong supporters” of the Tea Party movement, taking 27% of the important faction in the Republican base. Gingrich takes 37% of Tea Party voters.
Here is how the rest of the poll shakes out:
- Mitt Romney: 45%
- Newt Gingrich: 25%
- Rick Santorum: 11%
- Ron Paul: 9%
Gingrich’s numbers have fallen off since the last LVRJ poll, which was conducted just before Christmas. At that time Gingrich was down four points to Romney — inside the margin of error, so they were essentially tied — in a state where many observers didn’t expect much of contest. Fast-forward to today, Romney is enjoying his highest level of support in Nevada.
The poll is disappointing (and surprising) for Ron Paul, who largely skipped out on the primary in Florida to focus on caucus states. As you can see, Paul is set to finish last, despite being “deeply organized” in the state, according to the LVRJ. He finished second there in 2008, though the process was controversial.
Next Tuesday evening, President Barack Obama will deliver his fourth State of the Union address — and hopefully, his last. While we don’t yet know the themes and issues that Obama will discuss, we got a hint of what is to come in the Republican response as House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels will counter Obama’s address:
In a statement, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) praised Daniels as “a fierce advocate for smaller, less costly and more accountable government” and said that he “has the record to prove it.”
“For making tough choices and keeping his promises, Mitch Daniels is the right choice at the right time to deliver the Republican response to President Obama’s address,” Boehner added.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called Daniels “an eloquent spokesman for limited government” and said that he “knows that President Obama’s three-year experiment in big government has made our economy worse and our future more uncertain, and he knows that Americans want a government that’s simpler, streamlined and secure.”
“He is a forceful advocate of pro-growth policies like fundamental tax reform, regulatory reform and energy security,” McConnell said. “And he is the right choice to explain the challenges we face and to outline a hopeful, common-sense vision for moving America forward by growing the economy, not the national debt.”
Over the last few weeks, Rick Santorum has made it increasingly clear that he is not a libertarian. We already knew this. Last summer, Santorum expressed concern about libertarian influence inside the Republican Party, not just in terms of our views on social issues, but he seems to have rejected economic views in the Tea Party movement:
Without question, Santorum’s record is one of supporting big government. As noted last week, he likes to knock others on entitlements, but never seems to own up to his own support for expanding them. Others in the conservative movement are noting Santorum’s backing for increased government power in the economy.
Now that Rick Santorum has managed to get some attention after a good showing in Iowa, more information is coming out about his big government past. I touched on this earlier this week, noting that Santorum backed expanding entitlements and bloated budgets. But more pundits are starting to pay attention to his record.
Writing at the National Review, Michael Tanner explains that Santorum is pretty much in line with the “compassionate conservativism” offered by George W. Bush:
When Hillary Clinton was justly excoriated by conservatives for her book It Takes A Village, which advocated greater government involvement in our lives, Rick Santorum countered with his book, It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good, which advocated greater government involvement in our lives. Among the many government programs he supported: national service, publicly financed trust funds for children, community-investment incentives, and economic-literacy programs in “every school in America” (italics in original).
Santorum’s voting record shows that he embraced George Bush–style “big-government conservatism.” For example, he supported the Medicare prescription-drug benefit and No Child Left Behind.
There had been some speculation over the last few months that Ron Paul may decide to continue his campaign as a third party or independent candidate, but The Weekly Standard picked up some comments yesterday by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) that offers some insight into what his inner circle may be thinking:
Following an interview at a Des Moines radio station, I asked Rand Paul if he has encouraged his father to stay in the Republican party if he doesn’t win the GOP nomination. ”I’m encouraging him to try to win the Iowa primary. It’s kind of hard to think about leaving your party when you might be the nominee,” he said.
Asked if he would support his father as a third-party candidate, Paul replied: ”I’ve always said I think the Tea Party movement is best and most effective within the Republican party. The Tea Party movement as a separate movement would divide some of the Republican vote.”
“I have not been publicly in favor of a third party candidate and I have not been in favor of the Tea Party splitting off,” Paul said. “But I think people really need to rethink that question when a guy’s leading the polls in Iowa—to be asking about running as a third party when we’re still talking about winning the Republican nomination.”
The second paragraph is key, and it’s not just a concern about keeping the Tea Party movement unified. Even though Ron Paul is retiring and would seemingly have nothing to worry about in terms of punishment from running as an independent or third party candidate, such a move would probably hurt his son’s political career. You may say that’s not fair or deny that this would actually happen, but politics has a cruel way of eventually coming back around.
Opposition to ObamaCare has been among the themes in the race for the Republican nomination. The conservative and Tea Party base of the GOP electorate is firmly against the individual mandate and other aspects of the law. And, unsurprisingly, every candidate is pledging to repeal it.
Mitt Romney has received some criticism, however, since his Massachusetts plan served as the blueprint for ObamaCare. Conservative voters have been weary of his candidacy because of this, and justifably so.
But Romney can no longer claim a monopoly on this as comments by Newt Gingrich made back in 2006 showing that he was fond on RomneyCare have recently been brought to light:
Newt Gingrich voiced enthusiasm for Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health care law when it was passed five years ago, the same plan he has been denouncing over the past few months as he campaigned for the Republican presidential nomination.
“The health bill that Governor Romney signed into law this month has tremendous potential to effect major change in the American health system,” said an April 2006 newsletter published by Gingrich’s former consulting company, the Center for Health Transformation.
The two-page “Newt Notes” analysis, found online by The Wall Street Journal even though it no longer appears on the center’s website, continued, “We agree entirely with Governor Romney and Massachusetts legislators that our goal should be 100 percent insurance coverage for all Americans.”
The earlier bullish comments about the Romney health care plan are another potential embarrassment for Gingrich, who is leading Romney in most national polls for the GOP nomination.
The question of whether Mitt Romney would really fight for the repeal of ObamaCare (assuming the challenges to the law fail in the Supreme Court) has been on the minds of many conservative and Tea Party voters. It’s a reason why Romney has been unable to runaway with the nomination in this very unimpressive field.
Despite guarantees that he will work to repeal the law, the distrust of Romney is legitimate. As we’ve noted before, he frequently changes positions when it’s politically convenient…and, of course, opposing ObamaCare, which was based on RomneyCare, is certainly convenient. But as Philip Klein points out, Romney has given another reason to doubt his sincerity on this issue:
Mitt Romney talks a big game about repealing Obamacare on the campaign trail these days. But in the wake of the law’s passage, he had a more modest goal: “repeal the bad and keep the good.”
That’s a line that Romney himself used at a 2010 appearance that has now resurfaced. In the video, which Ben Domenech has more on and I’ve posted below, Romney makes many of the same arguments that would be familiar to those following the GOP primary. He says that his Massachusetts plan was different because it was at the state level and argues that his plan didn’t raise taxes (I’ve rebutted those arguments before). But he also does something you’ll never hear him do these days —note the similarities between the two laws.