The race for the Republican presidential nomination has turned ugly over these past few weeks thanks primarily to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.), whose campaigns have resorted to an “everything but the kitchen sink” smear campaign to destroy former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Mass.). Both Gingrich and Santorum have attacked Romney’s success in the private sector by criticizing his work at Bain Capital and relentlessly demanding that he release his tax returns. Gingrich’s campaign upped the ante when it unleashed a robocall slamming Romney for vetoing additional funding for kosher kitchens in nursing homes as Governor of Massachusetts. Apparently fiscal restraint has now joined business success in this race’s growing list of taboos.
If libertarians don’t want the Republican establishment to choose this year’s GOP nominee, a brokered convention is the last thing they should want.
Writing at The Fiscal Times, Ed Morrissey takes on conservatives who are hoping for a brokered Republican convention this year, arguing that a brokered convention is not only unlikely but undesirable because it would pave the way for the GOP establishment to choose a nominee who is more to their liking. Morrissey writes:
But let’s say for the sake of argument that no one candidate has a majority of the delegates, and none manages to wangle (sic) a majority on the first ballot at the convention. How does this benefit conservatives, who have fought the “establishment” that has pushed Romney for the nomination? The nominating process will then fall into the hands of the Republican National Committee, comprised of state party chairs and other power brokers, where the Tea Party has little or no influence. The fantasy in this case will be that the assembled party bosses and delegates, many of whom are part of state-party establishments, will crown a completely new candidate.
Who would that candidate likely be? It’s not going to be Sarah Palin or Herman Cain, who are the antithesis of this kind of back room wheeling and dealing and who aren’t necessarily trusted by the people negotiating the question. Assuming that it’s not one of the candidates who couldn’t close the deal in the primaries, it might be Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels, or another establishment figure that chose not to run and get vetted in the first place.
It’s pop quiz time. Which of the following sounds least like the description of a Washington, D.C. establishment candidate?
a) A former one-term state governor never elected to federal office who spent decades prior to running for public office as a businessman in the private sector;
b) A former Speaker of the House who spent just eight years working as a college professor before serving for twenty years in the House of Representatives, who as Speaker was reprimanded and fined for an ethics violation, and who after resigning from Congress spent nine years as a paid consultant for Freddie Mac;
c) A former congressman and senator who spent just four years practicing law before serving for three years in the House of Representatives and another twelve in the Senate, who in 2004 offered a pivotal endorsement to an establishment squish (and later a party switcher) over a more conservative primary opponent, and whose work since leaving office has primarily included media commentary and political consultancy.
If you chose option a, you’re either a Mitt Romney supporter or perhaps simply an honest person. If you chose option b or option c, you’re probably a supporter of either Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum who refuses to face reality. Because RomneyCare and stuff. You may also be one of the unfortunate folks who in 2008 voted for either former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.), a big government social conservative, or Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), who had at the time spent 25 years in Congress following distinguished military service but no time working in the private sector. Because abortion. And maybe Mormonism, just a little.
Irony. It’s what’s for dinner.
In keeping with the goal to educate readers about the dangers of SOPA and PIPA, here is a piece by Nate Nelson, originally posted on January 17, 2011.
Given President Obama’s first instincts to centralize power in Washington and expand his own executive power, it might seem unlikely that he would issue a veto threat against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act (PIPA). But we might be able to persuade him if we speak in language that is well understood at the White House, which is the language of reelection. While the Obama campaign might think backing SOPA/PIPA will help the president’s reelection efforts by way of generous campaign contributions from Hollywood, the White House might want to consider that signing SOPA/PIPA into law could damage his chances of reelection in at least five important ways.
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.
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.