Posts Tagged ‘Rick Perry’

Iowa Caucus: Wild Night for Santorum, Network News, Pickup Trucks, and Sweater Vests

In ELECTION 2012 on January 4, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Republican presidential candidate former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum shakes hands during a meet and greet campaign stop in Iowa. | AP Photo

Last night, the Iowa Caucus held on to its reputation as an electoral circus with wildly unpredictable results, while politicos throughout the nation were captivated by its demonstration of rural backwardness bringing ever stranger results.

Until the last percent was counted, all national news networks were delayed in waiting for 2 precincts to report their result. This was done, according to Bret Baier and the Fox News team (later denied by the Iowa GOP) by having some farmer drive them over in his truck to have them counted, instead of just calling them in. Read the rest of this entry »


Why Not Newt?

In ELECTION 2012 on November 9, 2011 at 1:16 pm


Despite many of my readers accusations, I am not working for, nor have decided to support one Republican primary candidate over another. GOP candidates have been flying at the electorate like rounds in a revolver, hitting their mark, only to bounce off the Kevlar armor of the overly critical voters that await to see whether the next round out of the barrel will be the piercing shot of conservatism they think they  felt under President Ronald Reagan. I admit there is fault in this analogy. What would Mitt Romney be?

The voters have seen so many rising stars: Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and now Herman Cain, all who seemed unable to withstand the increased media scrutiny that is afforded to the frontrunner.

If Herman Cain is reasonably upset at the media’s scrutiny of sexual harassment allegations, most significant of which coming from the tenacious Gloria Allred’s client Sharon Bailek, who provided graphic details of her alleged encounter with Cain 14 years ago – the first one of four accusers to reveal herself to the public – then he greatly underestimates the inhumanity American politics.

So far, the Cain campaign has handled the situation with embarrassing ineptitude, underscoring his self proclamation  that he is not a politician. Even so, he has sounded incredibly similar to a politician in recent weeks in the way he has been dodging pointed questions from the media until yesterday afternoon’s press conference. Is he now realizing why it takes a politician to be good at politics?

Nobody can claim that they know for certain whether the allegations against Cain are true or not, but there isn’t any question that his campaign will not survive this disaster. Some are already beginning to make him a martyr, claiming that this is usually the way that  media treats prominent black conservatives. But when you have paperwork as evidence of payoffs, some accusing and Cain unequivocally denying, doubts will certainly arise.

Most of the public may agree that these allegations could be false or frivolous, but the uncertainty to the details will no doubt drive supporters away, as evidenced by the latest polls showing Cain quickly losing favorability and his lead among the candidates. Voters do not want a bad feeling in their stomach about their candidate. Furthermore, false accusations levied by Cain Chief-of-Staff Mark Block against former staffer Curt Anderson and former POLITICO reporter Josh Kraushaar, are scuttling gains achieved by Cain’s strong denial of even knowing Bailek.

These allegations, are not Cain’s only problem. Last Saturday’s Lincoln-Douglass debate, between Cain and Speaker Newt Gingrich, exposed a much more troubling problem that politicos everywhere would rather focus on: Cain’s lack of  policy knowledge, the kind that politicians, especially Newt Gingrich, are familiar with. It is doubtless that when Cain agreed to debate Gingrich, he did not consider that he was going to be scrutinized as a frontrunner, believing that little attention would be focused on the debate. Otherwise, it shows hubris to think he can face a seasoned professional and academic like Gingrich. Despite the amicable disposition of the event, viewers saw a clear discrepancy between the two candidates. The enthusiasm the audience payed Gingrich’s answers were not matched for Cain. Cain also asked to pass and let Gingrich go first on two questions that were initially addressed to him, prompting some observers to tweet, “Is that allowed in a debate?” Yes, it was in this amicable debate, nevertheless, Cain’s weakness was exposed.

This is not a good sign for his supporters. Cain needs to further refine his knowledge – even though it is much better than when he began – but will be nearly impossible if he has to handle his harassment scandal. How can a poor debater be pitted against an incumbent with Barack Obama’s eloquence?

Voters may now be forced to make a jump to another candidate in this campaign cycle that many have compared to speed dating. Though some blame “liberal media” for fueling allegations against Cain, he is most likely correct about its origin in Rick Perry’s camp. But if Perry’s staff thinks that Cain’s declining poll numbers will mean that voters will come back to Perry, they have made a serious miscalculation. It is never good to have your candidate appear as the one who purposely smeared  another in your own party.

Until now, the electorate has been picking a new candidate every time they fall out of love with a front runner, I do not see why this will be any different this time around, and it seems that Gingrich has positioned himself to be next out of the barrel.

As hard as I try, I see no reason why Gingrich should not be the frontrunner, or the nominee. It seems that many conservatives are asking themselves the same question, and so far there is no outstanding reason why he shouldn’t be.

Bachmann can already be considered gone from contention. Perry has shown himself to be the weakest candidate intellectually, despite having plenty of campaign cash on hand from when he was the frontrunner. Santorum, Paul, and the others stand no real chance of winning a real caucus or primary. If Gingrich continues to rise in the polls and further shows himself to be the smart and mature candidate – keeping himself well above the bickering among other candidates –  he could soon take the lead among the “Not-Romneys.” Just in time, with Iowa coming in January, Gingrich’s timing could not be more perfect. As comfortable as Mitt Romney’s position is in the polls, I can’t help but feel that his inevitability will encourage the always contrarian and traditional conservative Iowans to reject him in favor of someone with more credible conservative bona fides, having exhausted many other candidates, the currently third place Gingrich would not seem like a bad choice. Especially since Gingrich has received overwhelmingly favorable responses at every event he participated in Iowa.

Gingrich’s private life may not be that clean for a traditional presidential candidate – many voters calling him “undisciplined” – his long career in politics may mean that we may already know everything there is to know in order not to have any Cain-like surprises. Dependability seems to be what Republican voters are craving right about now. His supporters can only hope that his early statements on climate change and calling Paul Ryan’s budget plan “conservative social engineering” will not come back to haunt him.

Follow me on Twitter: @dmitriyshapiro

Speaker Newt Gingrich’s Stealthy Rise

In ELECTION 2012 on October 13, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Speaker Newt Ginrich and his wife Callista, address Columbia Tea Party at screening of their new film, "City Upon A Hill." -- Columbia, SC.

It would be a tragic mistake to count any GOP candidate out of the primary race, if recent events are any indication. With the cloud of speculation over potential entrances by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie having dissipated, voters are beginning to re-analyze the candidates who have so far been committed to seeking the nomination. The decline of Governor Rick Perry in the polls, and the rise of Herman Cain, goes to show just unsettled the field still is. Enter former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has been considered dead in the water almost as soon as the 2012 race began, especially, as consultants jumped ship early, citing lack of organization and discipline from Newt Gingrich himself.

Yet, on a shoe string budget, left to fend for himself, and having been written off by everyone including Saturday Night Live – which featured a skit of Gingrich being asked if he really wanted to be President by the moderator, to which his impersonator simply replied, “no” and cheerfully left the debate stage – Gingrich has been slowly and meticulously piecing together a sturdy and intellectually formidable campaign. Finally, the results of Gingrich’s effort seem to be paying off with recent polls showing him holding at an average of 8.2%, and steadily rising.

Last week, I had the fortune of meeting Speaker Gingrich at a screening of his and his wife’s new film, A City Upon A Hill, an event held by the Columbia Tea Party, in Columbia, South Carolina. The movie, a montage of historical scenes from American history, pieced together to highlight its theme of American Exceptionalism; overlaid with narration from Gingrich and numerous other conservative thinkers. Yet Gingrich was the real magnet of the event.

It is not hard to understand why Gingrich is attractive to GOP voters. His conservative record extends decades before the political emergence of the others. He is seen as a hero within the GOP for engineering the “Contract with America” in 1994, giving Republicans their first majority in Congress in forty years. Gingrich’s brain was once described as a “National Treasure,” complimenting his immense intelligence, that judging from this event, is even more impressive in person. Fortunately, his importance was not lost on the attendees; most members of the Columbia Tea Party were above middle age or retirees.

Gingrich’s speech or answers to audience questions was not a compilation of talking points. He didn’t talk down to the voters as other candidates often do, and the audience thanked him with their numerous standing ovations. Gingrich also did not attempt to play to the desires of the crowd, remaining authentic throughout. When asked by an audience member whether he would support the “fair” tax – a popular issue among Tea Party voters – Gingrich politely responded with a “no,” and went into a detailed explanation why not, and his own solution. Yet, this did not affect his support from the audience.

The Tea Party seems to be split on their choice of candidates, but Gingrich is still a contender. On September 26th, Tea Party Nation founder, Judson Phillips, announced his endorsement for Gingrich, citing electability, conservatism, overall vision, and skill displayed in debates as key motivators. Unfortunately for Gingrich, the form of the Tea Party movement has a number of organizations, and is not very cohesive generally. Phillips’ support only shows that Gingrich still has a fair shot at the nomination. A large number of Tea Party voters are pulling for Hermann Cain as well.

Gingrich himself attributes his success to his demeanor in debates; keeping his campaign positive and focused on the message. He feels the public does not want to see him attacking other candidates. So far, Gingrich has upheld his promise – also known as Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment  to not attack other Republicans – and his exceptional comments during the debates receive favorable acknowledgment from viewers. Tuesday’s Bloomberg TV/Washington Post debate was no exception. Part of the excitement is what he will say when he gets a chance at the microphone, and rarely does Gingrich disappoint.

It is nice to see Gingrich back on track, although he must beware to avoid his old campaign pitfalls. As mentioned earlier, Gingrich’s campaign seems to be run solely on his own persona, and not that of advisers. The floaters visible at this event seemed disorganized and off-putting. Even though they were low level volunteers, it is important for Gingrich to make sure that nothing is holding him back. He may be brilliant and eloquent, but there is still a void in quality campaign tactics.

He revealed to attendees at the next day’s breakfast meet and greet, that he wanted to put together a youth movement for his campaign. His idea focused on getting college and high school organizers talking to their peers about the future of Social Security. For those wondering what careers the future holds for them, as most students are, retirement is not an issue that motivates them into action. Rachel Keane, 17, of Stanley, North Carolina, who will only be old enough to vote in the general election, yet is still remarkably involved politically, remarked “I think Social Security must be an important issue. I am tired of people complaining about it, but not telling me why.” Through my discussion with her and her father, Whit Keane, an entrepreneur, this is not a small matter, as her knowledge of political issues far exceeds many twice her age. Despite this, both expressed that Gingrich’s platform resonates well with them, and that it would be a shame if Republicans overlook such an important political thinker, with such a wealth of knowledge and experience.

Perry Passes Peak, Begins Decline in Polls

In ELECTION 2012 on September 21, 2011 at 2:08 pm

By Dmitriy Shapiro     Twitter: @dmitriyshapiro

Texas Governor Rick Perry, a star competitor for the Republican nomination, may have recently reached the summit of the favorable poll results he has been receiving, according to Real Clear Politics average.

Political commentators have been widely debating whether Perry’s extraordinary ascent to a significant lead against other GOP hopefuls would continue on its meteoric rise, or begin to decline from media overexposure; now it seems the latter is almost certain.

It is hard to make claims over such results yet. Unless Mitt Romney makes a significant campaign blunder, it is most likely that Perry’s poll numbers will begin to approach those of other candidates as time passes without any candidate dropping from the field.

It isn’t that Gov. Perry is a bad candidate, he is still and will be, the most prominent candidate whose views follow the traditional republican mindset, but his sliding numbers are most likely caused by not meeting the unrealistic expectations of being the perfect candidate, awaited by discontent and divided republican voters before Perry entered the race.

Perry’s performance thus far has been standard; coming off as natural and direct, but not faultless, as demonstrated by the controversy stirred up when he said that Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke “would be treated pretty ugly” in Texas if he continued his inflationary policies. Statements like these may look bad to liberals and in the media, but it does nothing but strengthen his grassroots and Tea Party support.

Perry’s real struggle has been distinguishing himself in the televised debates, where primary voters first get a good glimpse of their slew of candidates. In the two debates that Perry has so far appeared – the MSNBC/Politico Reagan Library and CNN/Tea Party debates – he disappointingly did not come off as the legendary, Chuck Norris-like figure that so many have joked about and hoped for. Dreaming aside, Perry seems unable to find the sweet spot between long-winded political explanations and simplistic sound bites that are not catching on as well as those by his biggest Tea Party rival, Michele Bachmann.

The RCP Average line graph shows that Perry reached his peak on the 12th of September, polling a double digit lead over Mitt Romney.  Until then, his supporters hoped that he would perform better in that night’s CNN/Tea Party debate, but in the following days, it seems that some of Perry’s supporters have lost hope. As of now, the CBS News/New York TimesUSA Today/Gallup, and Rasmussen Reports polls span the interval following the last televised debate, but I would suspect that further poll announcements will show Perry’s lead over the rest of the field, especially Mitt Romney, shrink.

In the CNN/Tea Party debate, Bachmann, Romney and the rest of the field successfully pinned the “big government” Republican label on Perry, which he appeared unable to shake. Bachmann gained sympathy points saying that having “12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just wrong…” Bachmann and her campaign quickly capitalized and coined “Perrycare.” Other times, Perry’s unconventional stance on Latino immigration was criticized by all. In the eyes of primary voters, these are serious blemishes on what they hoped would be a perfect conservative record.

Thursday’s Fox New/Google debate will be crucial to the Perry campaign. It will be imperative for Perry to competently deflect all attacks to be expected from Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney to his left, and Michele Bachmann to his right. He needs to makes certain that the talking points he prepares are clever enough to grab the attention and approval of the primary electorate and media while keeping his renegade conservative image intact. But Perry should also aim for balance. There is a group of conservatives that had hoped for an alternative to Romney, but less socially conservative than Bachmann, this has initially boosted Perry’s numbers, although some seem to be going back to Romney; probably a result of the controversial pronouncement Perry has made on issues like climate change.

Perry campaign’s straddling of the divide between mainstream and Tea Party republicans and drying up funding for slightly more conservative candidates could bring some comfort soon, since it puts him in the best position to receive the supporters of Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Rick Santorum if they run out of funds. Bachmann, being all but invisible in the MSNBC/Politico debate, makes me curious to know where she receives her campaign money from, and how long will it last? Where is Newt Gingrich in all of this? My guess is as good as yours.