"Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you”

Pericles



Friday, November 30, 2007

The Money Game - Paul Leading the GOP

Insurgent Libertarian Ron Paul appears poised to win the Q4 money race according to a story over at Politico today:

In the first two months of the quarter that began Oct. 1, Paul already has raised more than $9.75 million, putting him easily within range to best the amount rival Mitt Romney received from donors during the entire third quarter.

The influx of funds is Internet-driven. The Paul campaign has set a one day goal of $2.5 million today, which would be a follow-up to the record-breaking day Paul had earlier this month. Despite this surge, the DC punditocracy predicts this is a case of too little, too late and won't affect the dynamics of the GOP nominating contest.

“It’s highly improbable that he will get into the first tier. But he’s colorful,” says David Gergen, a former White House adviser.


I'm not sure why the ITB talking class and GOP strategists are summarilly dismissing the Paul boomlet. He is clearly striking a chord with a sector of the electorate that the remaining GOP candidates aren't. Is it his anti-war position? Or is it the fiscal argument? If I were a Republican strategist, I'd be trying to figure out how to tap into these voters for their support.

TGIF Random Thoughts

The Manchester Union-Leader poses the question: Can Huckabee play in New Hampshire? Will his evangelical background be an obstacle as he tries to win over Granite State voters? They report an ARG poll due out today will show the former Arkansas governor breaking into double digits for the first time.

"Hey, Rudy, Don't Bring Your Love to Town" - get a room in the Hamptons.

Apparently, I wasn't the only one noticing the fact that the war in Iraq was almost an afterthought during the GOP YouTube debate the other night. Two big topics from the Democratic tussles - a looming crisis with Iran and healthcare reform - didn't even get mentioned. Talk about parallel universes and an ideological divide.

Does the cancellation of the Dec 10th Democratic debate due to the WGA strike work to Hillary's benefit? It was to be the last group gathering before the Iowa caucuses and with the holidays underway (and an expected hiatus from negative politicking) does it mean the voter sentiment will remain static? Or is the Iowa electorate as fluid as South Carolina, where 49% of Dem voters remain undecided according to a Clemson University poll?

Can the Baptist Minister Win in '08?

In the aftermath of the YouTube mashup in Florida the other night, I got to thinking about which GOP candidate might pose the biggest challenge to a Democrat winning back the White House 11 months from now. In a general election, I rate these GOPers as the most worrisome (as in, they have the better chance of winning):

1) Huckabee
2) McCain
3) Romney
4) Giuliani
5) Thompson

Huckabee is a genial ("Reaganesque") guy. He has a sense of humor. He seems reasonable on fiscal policy (anyone who raises the ire of the Club for Growth gang scores some points for bravery in the GOP, IMO), he joined McCain in challenging the rightwing orthodoxy on immigration by rebuking Mitt with "We are a better country than to punish children for what their parents did."

There is no doubt in my mind his folksy manner puts many people at ease. My dad (no evangelical at all) said this past weekend, "I can picture voting for that Huckleberry guy." Of course, as he gets better known, that may change.

McCain came across at the YouTube confab as the one who hasn't gone off his rocker on immigration - which I think makes him competitive in a general. If the news out of Iraq continues to be one of lessening violence and (somehow) they begin to make progress on political reconciliation, he could increase his general election chances. His problem, as it has been for months, is actually winning the nomination with a base who has become increasingly rabid in their devotion to right wing causes.

Romney - if he can frame the general election about managerial competence, he could be the "change" agent in 2008. That's a HUGE "if" of course. He can actually make the argument that he is the one capable of cleaning up the mess left by Dubya just like he did in the SLC Olympics. He can also say he knows how to be a pragmatic governing executive. After all, he did manage a librul state like Massachusetts. He is certainly no ideologue like Bush. (Although my dad does say, "He didn't leave the Bay State in a mess because he wasn't here long enough.") Not sure how accurate that statement is.

If Romney succeeds in avoiding the ideological issues in a general election, I can see him becoming palatable to general election moderate voters. His biggest liability in my opinion is that he comes across as an elitist intellectual, a la Gore and Kerry. But, Shrub's daddy won overcoming a similar flaw. Sometimes the country wants a leader who doesn't have the "vision thing."

Giuliani - I think that as people see him more, he becomes a truly frightening and delusional figure. This means he could win the nomination and I think the Democrats will have a field day with this one. If the GOP makes the mistake of choosing Rudy because he's electable, I think the general becomes MUCH easier. There are FAR too many skeletons in Rudy's closet. The one thing is that if the contest is between Rudy and Hillary, I believe there will be a third party candidate - whether it's Bloomberg, Ron Paul or someone like Al Gore, I'm not sure.

Thompson - although he did show a few brief moments of awareness during the YouTube gathering, I think his candidacy has been dead for quite some time. There is no fire here - and I can actually picture him midway through a first term deciding, "Nevermind. This isn't as fun as Law & Order." Really. I can.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Demystifing Paulomania

Inside the Beltway talking heads who are wringing their hands and pondering the nearly fanatic appeal generated by libertarian Ron Paul need look no further than Rep. Paul himself:

"We all went to Washington to change Washington and Washington changed us. I don't think that applies to me. Washington did not change me."


~YouTube Debate 11/28/07


The vast majority of Americans nod their heads in agreement while the punditocracy continues to scratch theirs.

Immigration: The "Get Tough" Approach Too Simple

The first half hour of the Republican YouTube debate was dedicated to immigration, with each of the candidates seeming to "out-Tancredo Tancredo" by staking hard-line anti-immigration positions.

Sanctuary cities? Bad!
Guest worker programs? Worse!
Immigrant children going to college? Even worse!

The conservative audience cheers them on!

When McCain discusses comprehensive immigration reform, the crowd hisses its disappointment. Immigration, the wedge issue of 2008, continues to gain steam within the GOP nomination contest, despite it's failure to secure GOP victories in congressional races in 2006 and in Virginia state legislative contests in 2007. Despite the electoral evidence, Republican campaigns are following the Tancredo Talking Points fearful of a base frothing at anything resembling AMNESTY.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side the well-documented stumbling and mumbling by the presidential frontrunners on the driver's licenses for illegals question reveals the issue's potency to divide progressives as well.

The power of the wedge issue is revealed: articulating a complex and thoughtful approach to difficult issues is once again trumped by simplistic, emotional (and typically unworkable) answers designed to appeal to voter's fears.

America can do better.

McCain: We Are Failures

Sen. John McCain - once the frontrunner for the GOP nomination - provided the rationale any American voter needs to understand why the Democrats should be handed the keys to the White House in 2009:

"We said we'd enforce the borders. The American people didn't believe us. They don't believe us because of our failure in Katrina, our failure in Iraq, our failures in reigning in corruption and out-of-control spending."
YouTube Debate, November 28, 2007

Thank you for making the Democratic general election rationale for us, Sen. McCain

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Huckabee Surging to the Top In Iowa

Rasmussen Reports shows Mike Huckabee in first place in Iowa opinion polls for the first time today, just in time for the citizen-driven YouTube GOP debate from St. Petersburg, FL. Huckabee and insurgent libertarian Ron Paul are the only two candidates showing forward motion while all the others are losing support.

Huckabee: 28 (+12)
Romney: 25 (-4)
Giuliani: 12 (-3)
Thompson: 11 (-3)
Paul: 5 (+1)
McCain: 4 (-2)
Tancredo: 4 (nc)
Hunter: 1 (-1)

Will the former Arkansas governor find himself the target of Mitt, Rudy and Grandpa Fred as a result?

Or will the GOP candidates find themselves flummoxed and confused by actual questions from real citizens regarding health care, education and the economy?

I was wondering what the odds were that someone out there decided to pose a question to Mitt from a snowman or a polar bear? And, it turns out the NY Times is reporting in the affirmative. Will CNN include the question? And will Mittster's reply be, "I reject the premise of the question because the questioner is a muppet?"

Random Thoughts 11.28.07

Presidential Liabilities: What is Bill Clinton thinking? How smart is it for the former POTUS to be tacking to the left of his presidential candidate spouse at this point?

Endorsement Mania: I'm a firm believer that endorsements are a bunch of hooey --- most of the time. I mean, the idea that trumpeting the support of the local alderman, the city dogcatcher or even the A-List Hollywood celebrity reeks of a condescension to the average voter. The assumption is: "Mr & Mrs Smith, you don't have the time (or the intellect) to determine who would make the better president, so because Angelina Jolie says she's voting for me, you should support me too!" Nevermind Angelina's concerns may be far different from Mary and Joe Shmoe.

The frenetic race to collect the most endorsements has always seemed a tad bit overdone. Having sad that, the upcoming Oprah for Obama campaign swing through the early states is the exception. Oprah has proven over and over again how her "Seal of Approval" carries tremendous weight. While recommending a book or other product is very different from backing a political candidate, her millions of supporters are certainly going to give Obama a serious look simply because she's telling them to. I think it makes him an even more competitive general election candidate.

As a response, the Hillary campaign rolls out their endorsement of the day...Barbra Streisand.

Really?

Sorry, Babs, selling millions of recordings isn't the same as having millions of voters invite you into your living room each afternoon. Oprah wins this one hands down.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Oh, Trent, How Shall We Replace Thee?

Sen. Trent Lott's surprising retirement announcement has the gay blogosphere wondering if he's the next GOP Senator to have the closet door blown wide open. Or, is it along the lines of "Show Me the Money!" as the denizens at DailyKos speculate? I tend to agree with the K Street storyline, but do believe there is a possibility Lott may join Sen. Widestance and Rev. Haggard in the GOP Hall of Self-Hating Homophobes. No evidence, just a hunch.

Regardless of his motivation, Sen. "Segregation was a Good Thing" Lott's sudden decision has caused turmoil in Mississippi, a reliably Red State at the presidential level. Will former RNC Chair (and current MS governor) be forced to schedule a special election prior to next November's presidential polling to determine Lott's successor? The state Democratic Party is vowing to fight for a separate date, upholding state election law. A special election's smaller turnout would increase Dems' chances of stealing the seat from the GOP.

Can one of the Mississippi Senate seats (Sen. Thad Cochran is up for re-election in 08) be claimed by a resurgent Democratic Party in the heart of Dixie?

The Republican's grim Senate 2008 prospects got a whole lot dimmer on Monday.