— President '12 —

November 5, 2012

The Final Round of Polls Say?

Carroll Andrew Morse

...The final Gallup poll has tightened...the RCP average is now slightly in Obama's favor...CNN has the race about tied too, but in a sample that was 41% Democratic, 30% Republican...

Blogger Bob Krumm has some interesting speculation about what Presidential election projections from five national major pollsters/poll analysts could mean (scroll down to just below the map at the link, to see the five scenarios he evaluated).

Tomorrow we'll find out who was right.

November 2, 2012

Romney Rally Compare & Contrast

Justin Katz

This Twitter compare and contrast, from an Ohio Romney rally, is too stark not to mark with commentary. The first comes from AP reporter Steve Peoples, formerly a journalist on the political beat for the Providence Journal:

Next comes a picture from somebody in the audience (note that I've seen multiple similar pictures in my feed in the last half-hour or so:

Even with social media, it really is possible to live in your own world, if you want to. Of course, being behind the curtain in Rhode Island makes it a bit easier... at least on one side of the aisle.

Update: Here's a video snippet of that "low energy."

October 22, 2012

Liveblogging/Livetweeting the Third Presidential Debate

Carroll Andrew Morse

October 19, 2012

Gallup's First Fully Post-Vice-Presidential Debate Survey Says...

Carroll Andrew Morse

Gallup's 7-day tracking polls now include only the time period after last week's Vice-Presidential debate (October 12th to October 18th). According to their likely voter results, Mitt Romney has a 51-45 lead over Barack Obama, up from the 48-47 lead that Romney held in the results that ended with the day before the debate.

Romney's lead in the likely voter result is down one point from his 52-45 lead from yesterday, which could be related to changes from Tuesday night's Presidential debate beginning to enter the sample.

Registered voter results show a similar trend, with Obama having held a 48-46 lead on the day before the Vice-Presidential debate, while Romney holds a 48-47 lead as of today.


Nate Silver of the New York Times' FiveThirtyEight blog points out that Gallup's likely voter results are an outlier (h/t Jason Becker)...

[I]ts results are deeply inconsistent with the results that other polling firms are showing in the presidential race, and the Gallup poll has a history of performing very poorly when that is the case.

Other national polls show a race that is roughly tied on average...

Silver's popular vote forecast model shows the race at it's tightest on the day after the Vice-Presidential debate (Obama 49.8-49.1), with Obama gaining some slight momentum since then.

I also checked the RealClearPolitics daily poll average, which I believe is a not-very scientific averaging of poll results. It shows the same basic trend around the Vice-Presidential debate as Silver's model, with Romney having had his maximum advantage over Obama right around the Vice-Presidential debate, then a decline a few days afterward. RCP's "average" now has Obama up by a tenth of a percentage point; Silver's model has Obama up by 1.5.

In a related development, I just remembered why I stopped writing horserace prognostication posts!

October 16, 2012

Obama Vows to Reform Medicare/Social Security....in 2008

Marc Comtois

Andrew Kaczynski reminds us of the promises, promises then-Senator Obama made in the '08 town hall debate (video at the link):

On Budget: "I'm cutting more than I'm spending."

On Budget: I want to go through the budget line by line, eliminate programs that don't work, and make programs that do work cost less.

On Entitlements: I want to reform Medicare and Social Security by the end of my first term as president.

On Green Energy: "We can create 5 million new jobs."

October 12, 2012

Things We Read Today (25), Friday

Justin Katz

Observing the VP debate from within; flight from a failing region; surprising beneficiaries of a government bailout; a fable.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

Veep Debate Aftermath

Marc Comtois

Last night, for those who followed our live-tweeting of the Vice Presidential debate, Matt Allen tweeted out that Biden was killing Ryan. I countered that, no, in fact these debates are often much more about optics than what is being said (for good or bad). After the debate, Charles Krauthammer observed that those listening to the radio would think Biden won, but those watching TV would give it to Ryan.

I used as my frame of reference the CNN meters that were being handled by independent voters. In short, whenever Biden spoke, things went poorly. Especially among women. And one smart woman, Peggy Noonan (who, though a Republican, has been pretty laudatory--and often admiring--of both President Obama's and Biden's political skills in the past) is but one of the many women who confirmed my suspicion.

I have just realized the problem with the debate: it was the weird distance between style and content, and the degree to which Mr. Biden's style poisoned his content.

In terms of content—the seriousness and strength of one's positions and the ability to argue for them—the debate was probably a draw, with both candidates having strong moments. But in terms of style, Mr. Biden was so childishly manipulative that it will be surprising if independents and undecideds liked what they saw.

National Democrats keep confusing strength with aggression and command with sarcasm. Even the latter didn't work for Mr. Biden. The things he said had the rhythm and smirk of sarcasm without the cutting substance.

Richard Fernandez also picked up on Noonan's "Dem's confuse strength w/aggression" theme:
The Democratic debate strategy was apparently to put on a show in which Biden would visually dominate Ryan. This will have two effects. The first is it will convince the Democrats that they “won” the debate. But it will probably not convince anyone else. On the contrary, Biden seems to have infuriated all the conservatives who were watching the proceedings. The basic effect of the Biden-Ryan debate on the Democrats is to reassure themselves that they are not sissies.

Biden is doing a war chant for the benefit of the base....How will this net out? Biden will have not have succeeded in showing Ryan to be unworthy, a bully, unstatesmanlike, or arrogant — that was the principal pitfall that Ryan sought to avoid. But Biden might have convinced enough conservatives that he is a buffoon. The Democrats must be thoroughly demoralized if they found that spectacle bracing. My guess is that Biden has brought the president no net gain.

Michael Barone was the first I saw to summarize the instant reaction polls:
The instant polls: CNBC had it Ryan 56%-36%, CBS Biden 50%-31%, CNN Ryan 48%-44%, AP Ryan 51%-43%. Not nearly as one-sided as the instant responses to the first presidential debate in Denver. My sense: Biden pumped up partisan Democrats, but failed to win over the voters who are taking a serious look at Romney at a point when he is up in national polls.
I also watched the Frank Luntz group of undecideds and the general consensus was that Biden really turned them off with his antics, but not many minds were persuaded either way. That's about right, this was probably a wash.

October 11, 2012

Liveblogging/Livetweeting the 2012 Vice-Presidential Debate

Carroll Andrew Morse

Patrick Laverty >> Amazing that you can be disrespectful, angry and condescending in a debate and still be thought of as having won. #SympathyVote

Justin Katz >> After sleeping on it: That debate was bizarre. This cartoon captures it: http://ow.ly/eqi6b

Justin Katz >> Suspect we'll be seeing much more of this sort of thing http://youtu.be/_FEXI4taZW0

Justin Katz >> For some reason, I awake this morning with this classic movie clip in mind: http://youtu.be/5TPdUK78T64

Justin Katz >> One more. That was fast: http://youtu.be/PCtemaHgjyA

Justin Katz >> Old Seinfeld joke: The finger on the remote control is last bodypart to go to sleep. New reality: substitutes mouse clicker. Goodnight!

David Burge @iowahawkblog >> #ThingsThatMakeBidenLaugh thermonuclear war, dead ambassadors, $16 trillion debts, wacky Hindu convenience store clerks << Retweeted by Justin Katz

Patrick Laverty >> @JustinKatzRI That adds up to just short of 82 minutes. I wonder how they count the time they talked over each other.

Ramesh Ponnuru @RameshPonnuru >> Email reminds me why Biden could say Medicare Advantage rolls are going up: Admin started legally ?able demo project to get through election << Retweeted by Justin Katz

Justin Katz >> Summary of Biden on abortion: I believe human life starts at conception, but I won't tell anybody else when they can kill their children.

William L Patenaude @CatholicEcology >> Amen: "My faith informs me about how to take care of the vulnerable, about how to make sure that people have a chance in life." @PaulRyanVP << Retweeted by Justin Katz

Gerry McCracken @GerryMcCracken >> @EdMorrissey @IngrahamAngle "If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet" Proverbs 29:9 << Retweeted by Justin Katz

Justin Katz >> "More telling is my apolitical wife, who watched the debate for 20 min & left the room. 'I can’t take Biden any more!'" http://ow.ly/epT0j

Steven A. Cook @stevenacook >> I dont understand the spin room? Why report on the lies ppl tell? << Retweeted by Andrew Morse

Justin Katz >> Krauthammer: On transcript, tie. Radio, Biden won. TV, Ryan won.

Continue reading "Liveblogging/Livetweeting the 2012 Vice-Presidential Debate"

October 5, 2012

Losers Make Excuses

Marc Comtois

Yuval Levin explains why liberals and Obama supporters have coalesced around the narrative that Romney won the 1st debate because he lied (and had a secret cheat-hanky...and altitude). They can't conceive of any other way the conservative strawman they created could've won.

This is, first and foremost, an instance of something that a lot of conservatives in Washington have run across when debating liberals: Because they basically control the mainstream media, and because they have created for themselves a fictional conservative worldview (evident in many an Aaron Sorkin project and Barack Obama speech) rather than confront the actual conservative worldview, liberals are often caught off guard when faced with an actual argument for positions they disagree with. What we’ve seen in the wake of the debate is that some on the Left are so wedded to their imaginary right-wingers that when their actual opponents advance positions or make arguments that are different from those imaginary ones they will call those actual opponents fakes and liars. They believed their own caricature of Mitt Romney, and his unwillingness to play into it strikes them as dishonest. Or put another way: Confronted with evidence of their own dishonesty about who Romney is and what he stands for, they call the evidence a lie.
He also refutes the three main contentions put forth by liberals regarding Romney's supposed lies.

Employment: October Surprise or October Miracle?

Justin Katz

A lot of people who watch policy and politics relatively closely were very surprised, this morning, to hear that the unemployment rate had fallen to its lowest level during the Obama presidency — a level last seen in January 2009.  As James Pethokoukis notes, of the seasonally adjusted 873,000 jump in employment from August to September, 582,000 were people who want to work full-time but had their hours cut or were unable to find full-time work, involuntary part time, as they're called.

Given the sheer size of the jump in employment, though, some cynical folks on the political right are finding it to be a bit suspicious. In their view, the move would be in keeping with the Obama administration's request to defense contractors not to notify employees before the election of possible layoffs and promise to cover the cost if they are sued for it.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

October 4, 2012

Things We Read Today (23), Wednesday

Justin Katz

Controlling prices across a continent; a look back at erroneous polls; Matthews in the echo chamber; excuse #2 for Benghazi.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

October 3, 2012

First Presidential Debate Liveblog/Livetweet

Carroll Andrew Morse

WPRI Poll Confirms RI Blueness

Marc Comtois

I know, dog bites man. The WPRI Poll--particularly with regards to the Presidential race and the approval ratings for President Obama--simply confirm what we know to be true. Democrats are the majority party in the state and they march in lockstep more than either Republicans or (by definition, I suppose) Independents.

WPRI sampled 501 voters statewide, with a party breakdown of 41/40/17 Democrat/Independent/Republican. In raw numbers, that translated to about 206/200/85, respectively. Breaking the poll down by party ID, we see that 93.1% of Democrats (192 voters) will select President Obama as will 11.6% of Republicans (10 voters) and 41.7% of Independents (83 voters). Governor Romney will receive 84.9% of the Republican vote (72 voters), 3.9% of the Democrats (8 voters) and 41.7% of the Independent vote (83 voters). The undecided breakdown is 2%/2.3%/13.6% (D/R/I). Clearly, the party advantage held by the Democrats is the difference. Duh.

The same is seen in the Presidential approval ratings. Overall, President Obama receives a 55.2% Excellent/Good rating and the party breakdown shows 77.3% of Democrats give him a Good/Excellent rating (159 of 206 Democrat voters) while 12.8% of Republicans (11 of 85 GOP voters) and 36.2% of Independents (72 of 200 Indy voters) do likewise.

Again, it's all about party advantage in the raw numbers because when we look at Republicans and Independents combined we see that about 71% of them (202 of the 285 GOP/Indy vote) gave the President Poor/Fair ratings. Of that, 43.5% gave him a "poor" rating (124 of the 285).

What to make of it? It's pretty clear that the 3 primary self-identified groups (Dem/GOP/Indy) are really no different in Rhode Island than they are nationally in how rate the President and plan to vote. It's just that there are so many more Democrats in Rhode Island--the blue social/political model, indeed--that it's an uphill climb for non-Democrats to succeed politically.

In Rhode Island, demography is pretty much destiny because "Democrat" is the default position. It's important to keep that in mind when looking at local and Congressional/Senate races. The only strategy is to lock in the "3rd party" GOP vote and really work to appeal to the self-described Independents. That's what Brendan Doherty is trying to do in CD-1, and while he has a lead among independents, CD-1 is much more heavily Democratic than the state as a whole. Michael Riley has a different challenge with Jim Langevin because, well, Jim Langevin is certainly no David Cicilline. Right now Riley is losing 25% of the Republican vote to his Democratic opponent, never mind trying to get the Independent vote (amongst whom Independent Abel Collins is running at 13%, incidentally).

Will Rhode Island ever turn at least Purple? Well, it is interesting that among the age co-horts (18-39; 40-59; 60+), President Obama received the fewest amount of "votes" (54.8%) and has the lowest approval (50% good/excellent) amongst those 18-39. (Update: as Ted Nesi tweeted, Riley is also winning amongst 18-39 year olds in CD-2). So maybe this shows that the demography is changing in the state as the younger cohort may be a little less Democrat-by-default. Well, at least until they get fed up and move away.

September 26, 2012

Things We Read Today (20), Wednesday

Justin Katz

Mainly on media culpability and the economy: RIPEC's unquestioned report; skewed polls; the president's reportorial zombies; and the reluctance to invest in the economy.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

September 25, 2012

President Obama's Early Inklings of the Dependency Portal

Justin Katz

In the battle of hidden video and archived recordings that is sure to characterize political campaigns during the digital age, audio emerged from a 1998 presentation by then-state-senator Barack Obama at Loyola University in Illinois.  The statement that made headlines (at least on the center-right side of the media) was now-President Obama's belief in economic "redistribution" through the government.

Those who've been following the development, in the Ocean State, of what the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity is calling a "dependency portal" may be more concerned about the context.  Throughout the roughly twenty minutes prior to a question-and-answer period, Obama's talk exposes early indications of precisely the model of which the Center has been warning.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

September 21, 2012

Things We Read Today (16), Friday

Justin Katz

The narrative of the candidates; death panels and pension boards; the endgame of government debt; an enemies list.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

Campaign Flags of our Politicians

Marc Comtois

I posted about the new Obama poster that was an impressionistic version of the U.S. flag wherein the "O" replaced the field of stars and there were a few artsy-ish type stripes. You know the one.

Well, apparently the left got their spin machine going and found an example from 150+ years ago to try to legitimize the usage in modern times (h/t to Sam Howard). The example? Why, none other than Honest Abe!
Actually, that's a little more reminiscent of the Obama flag from 2008:
But I can do them several better. (History alert!): It looks like Lincoln wasn't the only one to do such a thing. In fact, it appears as if it was indeed a common political practice during that campaign and contemporary ones....over 100 years ago:

There is an important caveat, though. The way a political campaign was waged and organized back then is completely different than today. In short, none of the above had a centralized campaign store selling items. More often than not, these items were produced at the local level. Basically, while it appears as if it was a common practice to use the U.S. flag, there is no telling whether the candidates themselves explicitly endorsed such usage. Nonetheless, the practice appears--at least going by the latest examples I could find--to have lasted until around the turn of the last century. Apparently by then the usage of a portrait in place of the stars had been discarded.

Since then, nothing. Well, that is unless President Obama would like to be compared to the Presidential Candidate who last used such a device.
All in all, I find it amusing that the left is suddenly interested in the cultural mores of the mid-19th century as a reference point. Oh, and those of Richard Nixon.

September 19, 2012

Things We Read Today (14), Wednesday

Justin Katz

Why freedom demands father-daughter dances; the U.S., less free; PolitiFact gets a Half Fair rating for its Doherty correction; and the mainstream media cashes in some of its few remaining credibility chips for the presidential incumbent.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

September 18, 2012

Revisiting April: Romney's Themes Were the Same

Justin Katz

With the release of a "secret video" supposedly showing presidential candidate Mitt Romney exposing his inner thoughts to a bunch of rich people about the makers versus the takers in American society, I've been having a strange sense that I've heard such things before.  And it isn't just that this is a common argument between left and right in U.S. politics.

Rather, I recalled Romney's saying something similar when he visited Rhode Island in April and spoke to an exclusive audience of hundreds of people and a full complement of media (liveblog).

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

Things We Read Today (13), Tuesday

Justin Katz

Days off from retirement in Cranston; the conspiracy of low interest rates; sympathy with the Satanic Verses; the gas mandate; and the weaponized media.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

September 12, 2012

US Foreign Relations

Patrick Laverty

I seem to remember back around the time of President Obama's inauguration, we were being told that President Bush had done great harm to the reputation of our country and that Obama would fix it. Obama would repair all the damage done with regard to US foreign relations. Am I creating a straw man? Here's one article from November 5, 2008 which indicates this thought:

"President-elect Barack Obama"—the phrase alone does more to repair the tarnished image of America in the world than any action George W. Bush might ponder taking in his final weeks of power. The very fact of a black president with multinational roots unhinges the terrorists' recruitment poster of a racist, parochial, Muslim-hating United States. It revives Europeans' trans-Atlantic dreams just as their own union seems to be foundering. It is bound to inspire reformers everywhere who seek to break through their own socio-political barriers. It revivifies America as a beacon of democracy—not through thumping arrogance and brimstone but, more elegantly and potently, by sheer example.
Then after that, our new president toured around the world pointing out America's past "arrogance" and apologizing for past behaviors. The whole idea was that if the President would make nice with these other countries, then maybe they won't hate us so much and maybe they'll stop doing bad things to America.

Then there's September 11, 2012. In Libya, the US Ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens and three staffers were murdered by protesters. Stevens was working in the country to assist in the transition of power away from Muammar Gadaffi. He was working to help bring peace to the Libyan people when Libyan protesters killed him.

Additionally, in Egypt, protesters attacked the US embassy, tore down the US flag and set it on fire.

I guess at this point, I would ask how that whole "improving foreign relations" thing is working out? A US ambassador murdered on the job hasn't happened since the Carter administration. (h/t Marc)

So here we have a president who said himself that if he didn't turn the economy around in three and a half years, he'd be a one-term president. He hasn't turned it around, and in fact it is worse. So the whole domestic policy and economic policy area isn't working out too well for President Obama. One of the goals for him was to improve US foreign relations. That hasn't worked out so well either.

Domestic, foreign, economic. It seems President Obama has hit the failure trifecta.

Things We Read Today, 9

Justin Katz

No deep theme, today, but bad British commentary, union priorities, stimulus as wishlist, the fame of Dinesh, and a response to Dan Yorke's Congressional District 1 analysis.

September 11, 2012

Things We Read Today, 8

Justin Katz

Today: September 11, global change, evolution, economics, 17th amendment, gold standard, and a boughten electorate... all to a purpose.

September 9, 2012

Exorcising the Totally Non-Political Song Stuck in My Head

Justin Katz

Thanks to Marc, this song has been on my mp3 player for better than a year, and it just happened to come up in the shuffle while I was making my morning Internet rounds. And I suspect I'll have a hard time watching the presidential horse race over the next couple of months without its coming to mind.

So as to ensure that others are similarly afflicted:

September 7, 2012

Barack Obama's Policy Goals

Carroll Andrew Morse

During his acceptance speech at last night's Democratic National Convention, President Barack Obama presented a set of policy goals (and related achievements) that would be his focus, if reelected President...

I'm asking you to rally around a set of goals for your country - goals in manufacturing, energy, education, national security, and the deficit; a real, achievable plan that will lead to new jobs, more opportunity, and rebuild this economy on a stronger foundation. That's what we can do in the next four years, and that's why I'm running for a second term as President of the United States....

We've opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration in the last three years, and we'll open more. But unlike my opponent, I will not let oil companies write this country's energy plan, or endanger our coastlines, or collect another $4 billion in corporate welfare from our taxpayers. We're offering a better path - a future where we keep investing in wind and solar and clean coal; where farmers and scientists harness new biofuels to power our cars and trucks; where construction workers build homes and factories that waste less energy; where we develop a hundred year supply of natural gas that's right beneath our feet. If you choose this path, we can cut our oil imports in half by 2020 and support more than 600,000 new jobs in natural gas alone....

For the first time in a generation, nearly every state has answered our call to raise their standards for teaching and learning. Some of the worst schools in the country have made real gains in math and reading. Millions of students are paying less for college today because we finally took on a system that wasted billions of taxpayer dollars on banks and lenders....and together, I promise you - we can out-educate and out-compete any country on Earth. Help me recruit 100,000 math and science teachers in the next ten years, and improve early childhood education. Help give two million workers the chance to learn skills at their community college that will lead directly to a job. Help us work with colleges and universities to cut in half the growth of tuition costs over the next ten years....

Terrorist plots must be disrupted. Europe's crisis must be contained. Our commitment to Israel's security must not waver, and neither must our pursuit of peace. The Iranian government must face a world that stays united against its nuclear ambitions. The historic change sweeping across the Arab World must be defined not by the iron fist of a dictator or the hate of extremists, but by the hopes and aspirations of ordinary people who are reaching for the same rights that we celebrate today....And while my opponent would spend more money on military hardware that our Joint Chiefs don't even want, I'll use the money we're no longer spending on war to pay down our debt and put more people back to work - rebuilding roads and bridges; schools and runways. After two wars that have cost us thousands of lives and over a trillion dollars, it's time to do some nation-building right here at home....

Independent analysis shows that my plan would cut our deficits by $4 trillion. Last summer, I worked with Republicans in Congress to cut $1 trillion in spending - because those of us who believe government can be a force for good should work harder than anyone to reform it, so that it's leaner, more efficient, and more responsive to the American people. I want to reform the tax code so that it's simple, fair, and asks the wealthiest households to pay higher taxes on incomes over $250,000...And I will never turn Medicare into a voucher. No American should ever have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies. They should retire with the care and dignity they have earned. Yes, we will reform and strengthen Medicare for the long haul, but we'll do it by reducing the cost of health care - not by asking seniors to pay thousands of dollars more. And we will keep the promise of Social Security by taking the responsible steps to strengthen it - not by turning it over to Wall Street.

Two of the questions about policy goals are the same for the incumbent as they were for the challenger: are these things that government should be doing, are these things that government can be reasonably expected to do. We'll modify the third question slightly, and ask where both change and continuity can be seen, relative to the incumbent's first term. (Actually, that's probably the right question to ask a challenger too).

September 6, 2012

Things We Read Today, 4

Justin Katz

Today, I touch briefly (for me) on long-term vs. short-term recovery, who's better off, RI's long spiral (and potential for quick resurgence), and the significance of different ballot types in Cicilline-Loughlin.

September 5, 2012

Things We Read Today, 3

Justin Katz

Today's short takes address misleading labeling at the DNC, misleading fact-checking, fading national competitiveness, and the September 10 mentality.

Obama's Economy

Marc Comtois

Better off?

Under President Obama…Jan-09Today
Gasoline$1.84 $3.84
National Debt$10.6 Trillion$16 Trillion
# Unemployed11.98 million12.8 million
Median Income$53,410 $50,964
# Food Stamp Users31.98 million46.7 million
Poverty Rate13.20%15.70%
Oil (Europe), barrel$41.22 $113
Oil (Texas), barrel$38.57 $95
Gold, oz$853 $1,690
Corn, bushel$3.67 $8.45
Sugar (raw), lb$13.09 $19.34
Hamburger, lb$1.99 $3.45

Everything is higher....except median income.

(Sources after the jump)

Continue reading "Obama's Economy"

September 4, 2012

Things We Read Today, 2

Justin Katz

Today's quick(ish) hits touch on:

  • Partisanship as evidenced by Bill Maher, Rachel Maddow, and Nick Gillespie.
  • The libertarian-conservative divide and this year's election.
  • Ed Fitzpatrick's one-way love of fact checking.
  • The dependency nation as an existential threat.

Read all about it on the Ocean State Current...

September 3, 2012

"We've Heard it all Before..."

Marc Comtois

....and are you better off?

August 31, 2012

Mitt Romney's Five Policy Goals

Carroll Andrew Morse

During his acceptance speech at last night's Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney presented five policy goals that would be his focus, if elected President...

Paul Ryan and I have five steps.

First, by 2020, North America will be energy independent by taking full advantage of our oil, our coal, our gas, our nuclear, and renewables.

Second, we will give our fellow citizens the skills they need for the jobs of today and the careers of tomorrow. When it comes to the school your child will attend, every parent should have a choice, and every child should have a chance.

Third, we will make trade work for America by forging new trade agreements, and when nations cheat in trade, there will be unmistakable consequences.

Fourth, to assure every entrepreneur and every job creator that their investments in America will not vanish, as have those in Greece. We will cut the deficit and put America on track to a balanced budget.

And fifth, we will champion small businesses, America's engine of job growth. That means reducing taxes on business, not raising them. It means simplifying and modernizing the regulations that hurt small businesses the most, and it means we must rein in skyrocketing cost of health care by repealing and replacing Obamacare

There are a few different ways to phrase this, but to honestly evaluate the high-level description of the goals offered by someone seeking the highest office in the land, the basic questions to ask are: are these things that government should be doing, are these things that government can be reasonably expected to do, and are they different from what government is doing now?

The Brilliance of Clint's Empty Chair

Justin Katz

Politicos and policy wonks have been parsing every major speech offered at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, each with his or her own lens.  (The exception is MSNBC, which apparently declined to parse several speeches by ethnic minorities.)  Some have commented on the gender-war content of Ann Romney's statements; some have focused on the deep policy focus of Vice-Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan.

But the most transformative moment — in its way, the most redolent of the Tea Party revolution — was Clint Eastwood's conversation with an empty chair in which President Obama was not sitting.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

August 23, 2012

Umm... Who (and What Policies) Got Us into This Mess?

Justin Katz

I've had the extreme good fortune to shift careers to one that allows me time to create and stare at charts. (Sadly, yes, that's a literal description of some of my afternoons, as well as my feelings about those afternoons.)  So it's with an especially strong "What!?" that I watched this video, via Ann Althouse, via Glenn Reynolds:



To save time for those who don't want to watch a political ad, the important point is that former President Bill Clinton argues for a second term for President Obama on the grounds that Republicans want to return to an era of deregulation — which, he claims, is "what got us into trouble in the first place."  This, he contrasts with the Obama's plan, which "only works if there's a strong middle class."  "That's what happened when I was president."

Let me first say that deregulation did play a role in our current predicament, but it wasn't deregulation alone.  It was deregulation with a de facto government backing when risky ventures went wrong.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

August 15, 2012

Not The Most Qualified Pick for Vice-President

Patrick Laverty

And he even said so himself.

she’s (Hillary Clinton) easily qualified to be vice president of the United States of America, and quite frankly, it might have been a better pick than me.
Then-Vice-Presidential Candidate Joe Biden
September 10, 2008

Ok, the quote is four years old. I'm rehashing old stuff. I get that. But before we go into total crazy Paul Ryan hysteria because of a budget bill he submitted, let's keep things in perspective here. On one hand, we have Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee Chairman who put forward a proposal to cut federal spending and rein in the deficit. On the other hand, we have a sitting Vice-President who continually puts his foot in his mouth.

Now VP Biden is telling us about a President Romney, "They are going to put y’all back in chains."

Sure, Ryan needs to be publicly vetted, I get that. That's why people are going over his budget bill with a fine-toothed comb and quite possibly some other spin from time to time. But is it too late to also take a look at what the other VP candidate in the race brings to the table?

Maybe we can get an idea on how these guys think simply by what they say.

Paul Ryan: "If we don't make tough decisions today our children are going to have to make much, much tougher decisions tomorrow."

Joe Biden: "When the stock market crashed (in 1929), Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what happened."


Paul Ryan: "Look, I am not worried about Washington cutting too much spending too fast. I mean, the kinds of spending cuts we're talking about just right now are $100 billion out of a $3.7 trillion budget."

Joe Biden: "Look, John's last-minute economic plan does nothing to tackle the number-one job facing the middle class, and it happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S, jobs."


Paul Ryan: "The debt and the deficit is just getting out of control, and the administration is still pumping through billions upon trillions of new spending. That does not grow the economy."

Joe Biden: "You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.... I'm not joking."


Paul Ryan: "To my great disappointment, it appears that the politics of division are making a big comeback. Many Americans share my disappointment - especially those who were filled with great hope a few years ago, when then-Senator Obama announced his candidacy in Springfield, Illinois."

Joe Biden: "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."

And that's just a few of the many. Like I said, it makes perfect sense to try to get an idea of who Paul Ryan is and what he stands for and what kind of Vice-President he'd make. But at the same time, take a look at the body of work of our current Vice-President. If the decisions of the #2 guy on the ticket are enough to sway your vote, make sure you get an updated view on the current guy.

August 14, 2012

Ryan on Medicare

Marc Comtois

As the Wall Street Journal writes:

There's no excuse in particular for letting the White House claim that Mr. Ryan would "end Medicare as we know it" because that is demonstrably false.

Late last year, Mr. Ryan joined Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden in introducing a version of his reform that explicitly retains Medicare as we know it as a continuing option. The reform difference is that seniors would for the first time also have a choice of government-funded private insurance options. The Wyden-Ryan belief is that the choices resulting from private competition will be both cheaper and better.

This "premium-support" model has a long bipartisan pedigree and was endorsed by Democratic Senators John Breaux and Bob Kerrey as part of Bill Clinton's Medicare commission in 1999. Wyden-Ryan is roughly the version of reform that Mr. Romney endorsed earlier this year.

James Pethokoukis, working from a suggestion by the American Enterprise Institute's Andrew Biggs, lists the 3 things that need to be stated over and over about the Ryan Medicare Reform plan:
1. No one over the age of 55 would be affected in any way.

2. Traditional Medicare fee-for-service would remain available for all. “Premium support”—that is, government funding of private insurance plans chosen by individuals—is an option for those who choose it. No senior would be forced out of the traditional Medicare program against his will.

3. Overall funding for Medicare under the Ryan-Wyden plan is scheduled to grow at the same rate as under President Obama’s proposals. Is this “gutting Medicare” and “ending Medicare as we know it”? In reality, it’s the market giving seniors cheaper, higher quality choices they can take if they wish, with the traditional program remaining an option.

Back in 2010 President Obama called the Ryan-Wyden plan a "serious" and "legitimate" proposal (though, as Ted Nesi points out, Wyden does not agree with the latest iteration of Ryan's plan). The President also pointed out the "political vulnerability" that all such proposals have, even decrying the tendency in Washington, D.C. for one party to scare seniors, etc. instead of dealing with the proposals put forth by the other. Honest, here's the video (at around the 4 minute mark).

At around 5 minutes in the above video, the President asks: "At what point can we have a serious conversation about Medicare and it's long term liability? Or a serious conversation about Social Security or a serious conversation about budget and debt in which we're not trying to position ourselves politically?"

Oh, I don't know, how about now?

August 11, 2012

Romney Picks Ryan for VP

Marc Comtois

Mitt Romney has selected conservative Congressman Paul Ryan from the swing-state of Wisconsin to be his Vice-Presidential running mate. The possibility of Ryan as VP has been gaining ground over the last few days. Politico ran a piece over the supposed "split" within GOP over the notion:

Ryan advocates, including some of his colleagues and high-profile conservative elites, believe Romney will lose if he doesn’t make a more assertive case for his candidacy and that selecting the 42-year-old wonky golden boy would sound a clarion call to the electorate about the sort of reforms the presumptive GOP nominee wants to bring to Washington. Call them the “go bold” crowd.

Their opposites, pragmatic-minded Republican strategists and elected officials, believe that to select Ryan is to hand President Barack Obama’s campaign a twin-edged blade, letting the incumbent slash Romney on the Wisconsin congressman’s Medicare proposal and carve in the challenger a scarlet “C” for the unpopular Congress. This is the cautious corner.

Cautious indeed. As if the Obama campaign would find anything positive about any choice, right? Rich Lowry explained why Republicans shouldn't "fear" the (at the time) potential selection of Ryan:
In political terms, picking Ryan is presumed to be like hanging out with the No. 2 of an al-Qaeda affiliate somewhere in the badlands of the Middle East. Ryan is a high-value target.

Ryan’s offense is proposing serious reform of entitlements, as part of a budget that puts federal obligations on a sustainable path. He’s already been featured in one attack ad, in which a Ryan look-alike pushed an old lady in a wheelchair off a cliff.

There’s no doubt that the heart of the Ryan budget, Medicare premium support, is a major political risk. But the GOP is wedded to it. House Republicans passed the Ryan budget — twice. Romney himself endorsed it. He is already a “little bit pregnant” on Medicare.

The Democrats’ assault over Medicare will be ferocious, not to mention lowdown and dishonest. They’ve already all but accused Romney of killing someone, and they haven’t even gotten around to Medicare. When the barrage starts, Romney won’t be able to duck and cover. He’ll have to win the argument — or at least hold his own.

This is the broader point. Romney has to carry the argument to President Barack Obama. The state of the economy alone isn’t enough to convince people that Romney has better ideas to create jobs. Neither is his résumé. Romney needs to make the case for his program, and perhaps no one is better suited to contribute to this effort than Ryan.

We'll see. In the mean time, if your looking for more background, the Weekly Standard explained how Ryan "became the intellectual leader" of the GOP.

July 25, 2012

Scott Brown Says It Best

Patrick Laverty

Yes, this is a US Senator from Massachusetts, but I don't think anyone could explain it better. In case you haven't seen this statement from Scott Brown yet, it's moving.

July 19, 2012

Credit for Building, Blame for Dividing

Justin Katz

President Obama's teleprompter style has been the subject of substantial (often mocking) critical commentary, and with some justification, as this nearly parodic 2010 video from a Virginia classroom proves:

Given recent political events, one can sympathize with the desire of public officials to avoid extemporaneous speech. In a world in which one's every public utterance can be recorded, scrutinized, and exploited, one can't rely on an audience's capacity to get your drift and give you the benefit of the doubt. And it's all to easy to blurt out a sentence such as the now infamous, "If you've got a business, you didn't build that."

Predictably, in the realm of commentary, the debate has moved to the meta matter of whether commentators are deliberately misconstruing the President's meaning. On Slate, Dave Weigel charitably infers "a missing sentence or clause" that Obama neglected to utter because he was "rambling." On Reason, Tim Cavanaugh rejoins that "at some point it helps to look at that thing above the subtext, which is generally known as 'the text.'"

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

July 7, 2012

Remember when 310,000 new jobs & 5.6% unemployment just wasn't enough? Barack Obama does....

Marc Comtois

Yesterday we learned that the economy created 80,000 jobs and was at 8.2%, which President Obama called "a step in the right direction". Back in 2004, coming out of a recession, the economy created 310,000 new jobs and unemployment was at 5.6%. But that wasn't good enough--wasn't the real story--for a little-known state legislator running for the U.S. Senate. Instead, then-State Senator Barack Obama criticized then-President George W. Bush and his administration for travelling around celebrating the economic progress indicated by the 310,000 new jobs and 5.6% unemployment rate (h/t).

So remember:

310,000 new jobs and 5.6% unemployment = "too early to celebrate"
80,000 new jobs and 8.2% unemployment = "step in the right direction"

May 17, 2012

How Are The Presidential Polls Looking?

Patrick Laverty

Speaking of polls, how are the polls looking for President? After a tough primary season, what are Romney's chances against Obama?

I think the go-to site for national polling is http://realclearpolitics.com. They're a site that aggregates a few of the major polling organizations and comes up with an average of them all. Currently, they're showing Obama with a 2.5 point lead over Romney.

However, when looking at polls, all pollsters will agree that when your sample includes "likely voters" and not just "registered voters", you tend to get better and more realistic results. Real Clear Politics includes both types, but what happens when we only look at the polls that questioned the "likely voters"?

PollDates TakenSampleObamaRomneyLeader
Rasmussen Tracking5/12 - 5/15 1500 LV 46 47 Romney +1
Wash Times/JZ Analytics 5/11 - 5/12 800 LV4344Romney +1
Politico/GWU/Battleground4/29 - 5/31000 LV4748Romney +1
Democracy Corps (D)4/28 - 5/11000 LV4747Tie
*Data taken from realclearpolitics.com

Well, I don't know if it can get much clearer than that. Who cares if someone is registered to vote. They don't matter. The people that do matter are the ones who will vote. That's why the polls that include the likely voters are often more accurate than those with just the registered voters. And when we look at the likely voter polls, we see that President Obama could be in for a tough run going forward. But there's still a long way to go.

May 1, 2012

Campaigning in Afghanistan*

Marc Comtois

Despite attempts to quell rumors to the contrary, we've learned that President Obama is indeed in Afghanistan and will hold a live press conference from there. The purpose of the trip is to sign a new treaty with the Afghan government.

The countries have been negotiating a strategic agreement that would outline the basis for U.S.-Afghan cooperation after most U.S. and allied troops withdraw in 2014. Obama and Karzai are expected to sign the agreement on Tuesday, according to the senior administration officials who briefed reporters on the flight.

The Strategic Partnership Agreement provides a framework for the U.S.-Afghanistan partnership for the decade following the U.S. and allied troop withdrawal, the officials said on condition of not being identified.

All of this happens on the 1st anniversary of the take down of Osama bin Laden. The President is now on day 3 (or so) of not spiking the football this year.

*File under, "What if Bush had done that?"

April 25, 2012

Official GOP Delegate Tally

Carroll Andrew Morse

State Republican Chairman Mark Zaccaria has sent out an official press release with the delegate allocation decided upon by Rhode Island GOP primary voters last night: 12 delegates for Mitt Romney, 4 delegates for Ron Paul.

The official delegation listing is available here.

Mitt Wins, Paul Places no one else really shows

Marc Comtois

So, to no one's surprise, in the lightly attended primary, Mitt won RI and 4 other Northeastern states and has all but technically locked up the GOP Presidential nomination with Newt ready to throw in the towel (the book tour must be over). Ron Paul marches on and I find I'm in agreement with Politico as to why Paul does well amongst New Englanders of middle/right mindset:

The numerous universities and small liberal arts colleges that dot the landscape probably help his cause, given his appeal to the youth vote. So does the fact that New England isn't as hawkish as other parts of the country. Then there is small town and rural New England -- ancestrally Republican, with distinct libertarian coloring and vestiges of skin-flint fiscal conservatism.
That last bit hits particularly close to home!

April 24, 2012

Unofficial GOP Delegate Tally

Carroll Andrew Morse

OK, based on the rules submitted to the RI Secretary of State, this is my best guess on how Rhode Island's Republican delegates will be allocated.

1. All candidates who received more than 15% of the vote are eligible to receive delegates. For the 2012 Republican primary, that means Mitt Romney (63.0% of the vote, with 14 of 135 precincts left to report with all precincts in) and Ron Paul (23.8%).

2. 8 delegates are awarded from each Congressional district (that part I'm pretty sure of) based the proportion of the statewide vote going to candidates who broke the 15% threshold (that part I'm less sure of, see update II below). At the moment, that means Mitt Romney would receive 5.8 delegates per district and Ron Paul would receive 2.2 delegates per district. Assuming traditional rounding is used, that's 6 for Romney and 2 for Paul.

That means, with 121 of 135 precincts reporting, and under the assumptions that the statewide total is applied to each Congressional district and results are rounded to the nearest integer, the unofficial leaders are:

District 1, Leading Romney Delegates:

John F. Robitaille 3793
Lynda Adams-Robitaille 3152
Daniel Patrick Reilly 2955
Robert J. Gallagher 2339
Amy Lynn Gallagher 2146
Barbara Ann Fenton 1903
Mark Smiley 1874
Peter D. Costa, JR. 1861
Giovanni D. Cicione 1844
Tara L. Pinsky 1746
Steven E. Santos 1455
Joseph H. Lorenz 1444
Rudd C. Hall 1169

District 1, Leading Paul Delegates:

Richard E. Ford 1103
Daniel S. Harrop 1080
Douglas P. Berge 1075
Robert A. Marquis 1063
Paul Andrew Schmidt 1058

District 2, Leading Romney Delegates:

Allan W. Fung 4052
Donald L. Carcieri 4019
Suzanne O. Carcieri 3705
Scott Avedisian 3357
Ruth A. Zaccaria 2620
Doreen Marie Costa 2455
William K. White 1617
Richard A. Mumford 1566
Scott Bill Hirst 1539
Eileen G. Grossman 1499
Elizabeth O. Smith 1464
Clifford M. Carlson 1077
Diane S. Nobles 1070

District 2, Leading Paul Delegates:

Andrew J. McNulty 1120
David J. Aiello 1062
Erik E. Turgeon 1028
Rachael L. McIntosh 981
Justin K. Price 975


CBS News lists last night's result as 13 delegates for Romney versus 3 for Paul, in their estimated delegate count chart.


The delegate selection rules summary on the State Republican Party website says that...

Each presidential candidate who qualifies for delegates and alternates shall receive a proportional share of the delegates and alternates in each CD based upon the percentage of the vote in that CD,
...so using the town-by-town totals on the Board of Elections website, I calculated what the delegate allocation would be in each Congressional District if they were treated separately. Again, using traditional to the nearest-integer rounding on the proportion of votes received by the two 15% qualifiers, Romney gets six delegates in both districts and Paul gets two -- though in the Second District the split came close to being 5/3. If fractional (and not just factional) delegates were allowed, the resulting split would be 5.6/2.4.

It is also worth noting that Burrillville voted in the First District primary last night even though they will be part of the Second District going forward. Was this a mistake? It makes objective sense for a primary election to be carried out according to the rules that its corresponding general will use, but the legislation that realigned the districts is ambiguous on the subject, first saying that it takes effect immediately, but also containing a long section explaining how immediately means after September 2012. Given that one Ron Paul delegate race last night was decided by a margin of 5 votes, whom Burrillville voted with may have had an impact on the final result.

April 23, 2012

GOP Primary Day Update

Carroll Andrew Morse

Courtesy of Dave Talan, here's a quick guide to what's going on, and what's at stake in tomorrow's Rhode Island Republican primary...

You can vote for any 8 Delegate candidates, anywhere on the ballot, no matter who you vote for for President.

Rhode Island is a "Proportional Representation" state. Any Presidential candidate, who gets at least 15 percent of the vote statewide, will get a proportional share of the 16 Delegates and 16 Alternates to be elected (8 Delegates and 8 Alternates in each Congressional District). (R.I. will also have 3 super-Delegates, the 3 National Committee people, who are not on the ballot tomorrow).

We expect a small turnout tomorrow (as little as 15,000 voters statewide), because the news media has told everyone that the race is already over and your vote does not matter. That means that as few as 2,250 votes for a Presidential candidate will be enough to win Delegates for him. So if your first choice is Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul; you should still go vote for them tomorrow, in order to elect Delegates who will promote their issues at the national convention...

You will NOT necessarily be voting at your usual polling place tomorrow. (A lot of polling places are being combined, due to the expected low turnout). Go to the Secretary of State's web site, to determine where you vote.

Sample ballots from the Secretary of State's office, where you can see who's running for delegate, are visible at the links below:Finally, speaking as a fully disclosed Rick Santorum supporter and candidate for delegate, Dave expounds on why it is still worthwhile for Santorum supporters to get out and support their first choice for the nomination, even if the main question in the primary campaign appears to have already been decided...
If you had originally been planning to vote for [Rick Santorum], his R.I. supporters urge you to still go and vote for him tomorrow. Then, if he gets 15 percent of the vote, some of his Delegate candidates will be elected. They will go to Tampa to promote his conservative issues for the Party platform, and to educate the news media on conservative GOP issues.
That reasoning can pretty well be applied to all of the candidates on the ballot.

April 19, 2012

Ron Paul at URI

Carroll Andrew Morse

Over at the Ocean State Current, Justin has posted both video and a liveblog of Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul's University of Rhode Island campaign stop that took place last night.

April 18, 2012

The Republicans Most Unsatisfied with their Probable Nominee

Carroll Andrew Morse

National Review Online's Ramesh Ponnuru calls attention to a Pew Research Center for the People and the Press poll which gauged, amongst other things, which groups of Republican voters were most and least certain in their support for Mitt Romney between April 4th and 15th.

According to Pew's survey of Republicans and Republican leaners, self-described conservatives weren't the group least certain in their support of Romney. 82% of the respondents describing themselves as conservative expressed certainty that they would support Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama in the general election. And support was not highly-uncertain amongst Tea Partiers either, 89% of whom said they were certain to support Romney. ("Certain supporters" are defined in the poll as "those who back Romney and say there is no chance they will support Obama. Not certain are those who only lean toward Romney or say there is still a chance they will support Obama").

No, Mitt Romney's least certain support within the Republican party came from the self-described "moderates" and "liberals", only 66% of whom say they are certain to support Romney in a General election. For not-Tea Party Republicans (who presumably overlap with the "moderate"/liberal crowd) the not-certain figure was 65%.

This puts a serious dent into the idea that Republican unity problems begin with conservative demands for a perfect candidate (which many folks who observe actual Republican politics and not just its caricature could have told you anyway).

By the way, this particular poll had Barack Obama beating Mitt Romney amongst everyone surveyed (including Democrats and independents) 49-45.

April 11, 2012

Wednesday Political Roundup

Carroll Andrew Morse

Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney made a campaign appearance in Warwick today. Justin liveblogged the event at the Ocean State Current.

Anthony Gemma announced a Sunday announcement "regarding his political intentions that will positively impact the political, economic, and cultural fates of Rhode Island and, by extension, the United States of America for the foreseeable future" (via Ian Donnis of Rhode Island Public Radio). I'd offer a remark on this announcement being slightly overblown, but they've already all been taken.

First District Republican Congressional Candidate Brendan Doherty offered a response to Congressman David Cicilline's expression of regret for having described Providence as being in excellent financial condition (via GoLocalProv).

Given all of this other stuff that was going on, Mike Gardiner picked kind of a bad day to officially announce his second-time bid to win the GOP nomination for RI's Second District Congressional seat.

April 10, 2012

Santorum Out

Carroll Andrew Morse

Multiple media sources are reporting that Rick Santorum has suspended his Presidential campaign. An official annoucement is expected soon, if it's not happening at the moment.

March 27, 2012

You Want Flexibility? Try Yoga

Patrick Laverty

The President believes he'll have additional flexibility after the November elections. He was recorded on a live microphone telling Russian President Medvedev, in the context of national defense systems:

“This is my last election,’’ Obama is heard telling outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. “After my election, I have more flexibility.’’
What exactly could that mean? He'll have more flexibility after the election? I don't really understand that. If there's something he wants to do, he should just do it. If he believes it's not good for the US people to do it, he shouldn't do it at all, whether it is before or after the election.

If nothing else, it tells us how he's thinking and what his priorities really are.

March 20, 2012

Romney Wins Illinois, as Chances for a High-Impact Primary in RI Dwindle

Carroll Andrew Morse

It looks like Mitt Romney is on his way to a victory in tonight's Illinois primary, with something close to 50% of the vote (CNN results available here). All 4 remaining GOP contenders were on the ballot, and Ron Paul is hovering around 9%, so even if 100% of Rick Santorum's plus Newt Gingrich's votes could have been combined behind one candidate or the other, it still wouldn't have been enough to beat Romney tonight.

NPR has a nice layout of the remaining primary schedule available here. If Romney follows up by doing as well as a close second in Louisiana on March 24, and then wins decisive victories in Maryland, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia on April 3, then it looks as if the race will be mostly decided by the time Rhode Island votes (along with Connecticut, Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania) on April 24.

March 14, 2012

American Samoa Erases Santorum's Delegate Lead from Last Night

Carroll Andrew Morse

Mitt Romney won Republican caucuses by large margins in Hawaii and in American Samoa last night. According to CNN, his victory in American Samoa by itself was enough to close Santorum's delegate advantage from earlier in the evening, 9 delegates from American Samoa erasing a 9 delegate advantage Santorum had won in Alabama. (CNN is not showing a delegate total for Hawaii, despite the fact that the official RNC website reports that delegates were allocated according to the caucus vote).

I know there is a narrative being advanced that Romney is wounded because he is not winning states where he wasn't tremendously popular to begin with, but the fact of the matter is that, under the current primary rules -- which reflect the popular sentiment, more closely than a winner-take-all system would -- a guy with lots of strong firsts and close seconds is going to be the legitimate frontrunner, ahead of a guy with lots of close firsts and distant seconds. Unless Rick Santorum (or Newt Gingrich) can find several states where they can win overwhelming victories, which really seems to be a stretch at this point, Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee.

The Romney campaign should understand that this dynamic is working heavily in their favor, and risk some magnanimity towards his trailing GOP opponents and, more importantly, towards their supporters.


As of 10 this morning, the Associated Press had the following results for pledged delegate allocation last night, including results from Alabama, Mississippi, Hawaii, and American Samoa:

Romney: 38
Santorum: 35
Gingrich: 24
Paul: 1

March 13, 2012

Santorum Wins Alabama and Mississippi, Romney Third, but Delegates Mostly Proportionally Split

Carroll Andrew Morse

According to CNN, it looks like we're headed for Santorum-Gingrich-Romney finishing 1-2-3 in both Alabama and Misssissippi, where a total of 90 delegates are at stake. (American Samoa and Hawaii also have caucuses that close later tonight, where 29 more delegates will be awarded).

Because of the proportional (Misssissippi) and almost-proportional (Alabama) delegate allocation rules (available here, at the RNC website), there will likely be a slight edge for Rick Santorum in delegates, but not a huge dent in the approximately 200 delegate lead that Romney holds.

For those looking to either board or derail the inevitablity train, the questions are 1) whether there are any places on the remaining primary calendar for Rick Santorum to score some runaway victories; 2) if not, then does momentum or its absence matter to Mitt Romney, as long as he can assemble a combination of first-place and near-first place finishes that preserve his current delegate lead; and 3) how will tonight's result affect Newt Gingrich's longevity in the race, which directly affects the previous two questions.

March 9, 2012

How the Rhode Island Legislature Can Bring More Presidential Campaign Attention to Rhode Island All On Its Own

Carroll Andrew Morse

Supporters of the "National Popular Vote" interstate compact for Presidential elections frequently explain that one of their goals is to have to have Presidential candidates pay attention to more than just a handful of "swing states" during their general election campaigns. But Rhode Island has the ability to increase its share of Presidential campaign attention by acting on its own.

Presently, Rhode Island allocates its Presidential electors according to a winner-take-all rule. The legislature could replace this with a system where winner-take-all only occurs if the leading vote-getter exceeds a certain vote threshold. Otherwise, if no candidate exceeds the threshold, Presidential electors would be assigned proportionally.

If the popular vote percentage was multiplied by the number of electors and rounded to the nearest whole number, and the winner-take-all threshold was set at the same percentage that would move a proportional split from 2-2 to 3-1, then the difference between winning close in Rhode Island and winning a supermajority would be 2 electoral votes. That would make it worthwhile it for candidates to actively pursue a supermajority win, or, conversely, to do enough to deny an opponent a supermajority win. Putting 2 electoral votes into play in this manner would give Rhode Island roughly the same influence it would have in a popular vote system and where landslides in either direction were possible.

There is no obvious Constitutional objection to this method of allocating electoral votes, so it would allow progressives and conservatives interested in more Presidential campaign attention for Rhode Island to unite behind it. And one feature-not-a-bug (depending on your perspective) is that it might provide progressives with an opportunity to laugh at me at a later date (probably not this year), when some future Republican Presidential candidate ekes out a 50.1 - 49.9 victory in Rhode Island, only to get 2 electoral votes out of it.

Finally, the ability to implement this system is fully under the control of the Rhode Island legislature. They don't have to wait for any other state to act. If those legislators who support NPV are truly interested in bringing more attention from Presidential campaigns to the state of Rhode Island, this could be implemented in time for the 2012 election, where the candidates will be going after every vote that's in play.

March 7, 2012

Re: Edging Towards the Inevitable

Carroll Andrew Morse

Here is the delegate total, according to CNN (including North Dakota, whose delegates according to the RNC are unbound), from last night's Super-Tuesday primaries:

Mitt Romney 200
Rick Santorum 73
Newt Gingrich 67
Ron Paul 24
Also, according to the RNC website, there were no winner-take-all races last night. A majority of states allocated A) a portion of their delegates according to Congressional district-by-district results and B) another portion of their delegates according to the statewide result, usually proportionally, to every candidate who bettered a preset vote threshold. As a result of these rules, there is not an overwhelming amount of distortion between last night's delegate result and last night's popular result, though there is some, mostly as a result of some Congressional districts being winner-take-all, which gave Mitt Romney a 26-13 edge over Rick Santorum in Ohio, despite the popular result being nearly tied. (Also, you could cite the 43 delegates Romney received from Virginia as an anomaly, as Mitt Romney and Ron Paul were the only candidates on the ballot there, though it is equally fair to point out that if Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich wanted to win delegates in Virginia, they could have gotten on the ballot too).

I haven't chosen a particular candidate to support in this year's GOP primary (even in the Raimondoian sense, where you support someone without endorsing them), and I know the conventional buzz of late has focused on finding second-order reasons why Romney's victories show that his position is not very strong, but if you are looking at what ultimately matters for winning the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney has won solid victories in the past two weeks, across a pretty fair sampling of Republican voters in the nation as a whole.

March 6, 2012

Super-Tuesday Political Open Thread

Carroll Andrew Morse

Here is the schedule of poll closing times for tonight's Super-Tuesday primaries.

7:00 pm

Georgia (Primary)
Vermont (Primary)
Virginia (Primary)
7:30 pm
Ohio (Primary)
8:00 pm
Massachusetts (Primary)
Oklahoma (Primary)
Tennessee (Primary)
9:00 pm
North Dakota (Caucuses)
About 10:00 pm
Idaho (Caucuses)
12:00 am
Alaska (Caucuses)

The Republican National Committee has the delegate allocation rules available here.

February 29, 2012

Delegate Tie in Michigan?

Carroll Andrew Morse

Multiple media sources are now reporting that Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have evenly split the delegates awarded in yesterday's Michigan primary. CNN reports...

Of the 30 delegates at stake, Romney took 15 and Santorum took 15, with zero unallocated as of late Wednesday afternoon.

The numbers will not be final until the state certifies its ballots in the coming days.

The degree to which states have been unable to 1) schedule meaningful elections and then 2) tally the results in a timely fashion in this primary cycle is starting to become quite worrisome.

In related non-news, my abilities at forecasting Presidential elections seem to be as keen as ever.

February 28, 2012

Romney Projected to Win Michigan and Arizona

Carroll Andrew Morse

CBS News is projecting Mitt Romney as the winner of the Michigan primary. He has a 41% to 38% lead over Rick Santorum, with about 80% of precincts reporting. Ron Paul is 3rd at 12%, Newt Gingrich is 4th with 7%.

And with a little over 50% of precints reporting in Arizona, Romney leads with 48% of the vote, over Santorum (26%) than Gingrich (16%) and Paul (8%). I think it's interesting that Paul did so poorly in the state that, at least at one time, was considered to be the icon of "Western" libertarianism.

But the main story, of course, is that with the candidates pretty well known to the primary voting public at this point, if none of them could beat Mitt Romney on a primary day with just two contests, it's hard to see how any of them will knock off Romney, generally regarded as the best-organized candidate, when 7 states hold primaries and 3 hold caucuses on next Tuesday.

February 14, 2012

Buddy Roemer Qualifies for the RI Primary; RI Primary Field Now Complete

Carroll Andrew Morse

According to the RI Secretary of State's office, Buddy Roemer has qualified for the April 24 Rhode Island Presidential primary.

This should complete the primary field (unless signatures are being counted strictly in the order they came in, and all of the signatures for Mark Callahan were submitted after the other candidates' were, which is less likely than the probability that Callahan filed but got no signatures).

The five candidates who will appear on the Republican ballot will be Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, and Buddy Roemer. (I believe that their ordering on the ballot will be determined by a lottery to be held before the election).

Barack Obama is the only name that will appear on the Democratic ballot.

February 10, 2012

Santorum Qualifies for RI Primary

Carroll Andrew Morse

Rick Santorum has become the 4th GOP contender qualified by the RI Secretary of State for placement on Rhode Island's April 24 Presidential primary ballot, joining Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.

February 8, 2012

Presidential Man of Principle

Patrick Laverty

It's refreshing to see that President Obama is a man of principle. When he takes a stand on something that he believes in, he sticks to it. It doesn't matter how it makes him look, he sticks to his word. Well, I guess except in the case of Super-PACs:

Mr. ‍Obama belatedly decided to give his blessing to so-called super PACs, which can accept unlimited donations from corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals. Both ‍Obama‍’‍s campaign and the White House maintain that the president does not support today’s rules but realized belatedly he must play by them to give himself a competitive chance at a second term.
Very nice. Flip, flop.
Campaigning for Democrats before the 2010 midterm elections, ‍Obama railed against corporate interests spending money directly to sway federal elections, calling it a “threat to our democracy.”
Wow, so during his Sunday night Super Bowl interview with Matt Lauer, Obama backtracks on his word that if he can't get the economy fixed in his first term, he shouldn't get a second and now he's backtracking on his own vows against the Super PACs. He himself is now going to be a part of the "threat to our democracy."

I'm not offering any opinion on the Super PACs themselves, as yes, I know Republicans including Mitt Romney are using them, that's not the point. The point is the president purposely made this a campaign issue two years ago and campaigned against it. Now he's getting into bed with it. I guess I'll just finish with a quote from the House Speaker Oompa Loompa

“Just another broken promise”

ADDENDUM: As commenter David P reminds us, this isn't the first time that Barack Obama reversed course on his campaign finance stances. Remember in 2008, he pledged to stick to the public financing and then later changed it mind, allowing him to raise many millions more.

Ron Paul Qualifies for the RI Primary Ballot

Carroll Andrew Morse

According to the Secretary of State's official totals, Ron Paul has crossed the 1,000 signature threshold, becoming the 3rd Republican contender (in addition to Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, so far) who will appear on the April 24 Republican Presidential primary ballot in Rhode Island.

February 7, 2012

Missouri's Meaningless Primary

Carroll Andrew Morse

If you are wondering why tonight's Missouri Republican primary isn't receiving the attention that it might as a potential firewall for the non-Romney GOP Presidential candidates, it's because no delegates will be allocated based on the results. Kansas City Star columnist Steve Kraske has a good column on the unplanned chain of events that led Missouri to waste a good calendar date on a statewide straw poll...

Missouri will pick its convention delegates at sparsely attended caucus meetings March 17....

In July, [Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon] vetoed an elections bill that moved the presidential primary from Feb. 7 to March 6. Yes, that’s late in the game, but at least we wouldn’t have wasted millions on a February primary that didn’t count....

The Republican State Committee opted Sept. 29 to pick their delegates at those county caucuses. In effect, the GOP played it safe. It caved to pressure from the national party, which had warned that any state holding a nominating contest prior to March 1 loses half its delegates....

The Missouri Senate and Sens. Jason Crowell and Jane Cunningham...missed an Oct. 17 vote that would have canceled the primary after the House already passed it. A 16-16 deadlock was the result.

February 4, 2012

Gingrich and Obama Qualify for the RI Primary

Carroll Andrew Morse

Newt Gingrich (on the Republican side) and Barack Obama (on the Democratic side) have qualified to be on Rhode Island's April 24 Republican primary ballot. (Collection of the signatures needed to get on the ballot is closed at this point; the Secretary of State's office is tallying the totals).

Barack Obama will be the only candidate on the Democratic ballot, having been the only Democrat to file in Rhode Island. Newt Gingrich is the 2nd qualifier for the Republican ballot, with Mitt Romney having crossed the 1,000 signature threshold earlier in the week.

February 2, 2012

Romney Qualifies for RI Primary

Carroll Andrew Morse

According to official figures from the Rhode Island Secretary of State's website, Mitt Romney has become the first candidate (of any party) to qualify for the RI Presidential Primary, to be held on April 24.

January 26, 2012

Liveblogging-Livetweeting the CNN Presidential Debate (But Really Testing out the Twitter Interface)

Carroll Andrew Morse

(Twitterscript from last night's CNN Florida Presidential debate).

18 minutes ago » Andrew Morse
If we put a base on the moon, won't the nuclear waste dumps explode and send it hurtling out of orbit?

18 minutes ago » Andrew Morse
But no one asked the really big question...

18 minutes ago » Andrew Morse
And we're done.

19 minutes ago » Andrew Morse
Santorum set-piece -- Says he's different from the other candidates, then criticizes Obama's SOTU.

19 minutes ago » Andrew Morse
Wolf upset that people aren't directly answering his marginally silly Q.

20 minutes ago » Andrew Morse
Although I have to say that Newt delivers a set-piece as well as anyone can.

20 minutes ago » Andrew Morse
Gingrich: I've paricipated in the two largest Republican sweeps in modern time. Set-piece on freedom versus dependence.

21 minutes ago » Andrew Morse
Romney then goes into a closing set-piece.

22 minutes ago » Andrew Morse
Romney: This will be a critical time. Will we become a social welfare state? We need dramatic and fundamental change...

23 minutes ago » Patrick Laverty
In RI people say "signs don't vote". Hey Ron Paul, polls don't vote either.

23 minutes ago » Andrew Morse
Paul: My freedom message appeals to a lot of people. Mentions "tolerance". My foreign policy will be better than Obama's

24 minutes ago » Andrew Morse
Last Q: Why are you the 1 person likely to beat Obama?

24 minutes ago » Patrick Laverty
Overall, Santorum seems most comfortable. Every answer sounds like sermonizing.

28 minutes ago » Andrew Morse
Santorum also references God-given rights, similar reasoning as Romney but in better detail.

29 minutes ago » Andrew Morse
Gingrich: A Prez faces big enough decisions that justify seeking a higher power.

30 minutes ago » Andrew Morse
Paul: It wouldn't, only my oath office would. Romney references the basic ideas of the founders.

32 minutes ago » Patrick Laverty
Romney would seek the guidance of Providence?

32 minutes ago » Andrew Morse
Q about how your religious beliefs would impact your job as Prez.

32 minutes ago » Andrew Morse
Even Wolf thought the Puerto Rico Q was a bad one. He has Santorum answer, and then moves on.

33 minutes ago » Patrick Laverty
No truth to the rumor that if Puerto Rico is added as a state, Rhode Island gets kicked out.

34 minutes ago » Andrew Morse
And also about Puerto Rican statehood.

35 minutes ago » Andrew Morse
Q from audience: Why aren't you considering the governor of Puerto Rico as a VP candidate.

Continue reading "Liveblogging-Livetweeting the CNN Presidential Debate (But Really Testing out the Twitter Interface)"

GOP Primary Ballot Update

Carroll Andrew Morse

Courtesy of Dave Talan and the R.I. Republicans, here is an update sent out yesterday on the effort to get all of the Republican Presidential candidates on to the April 24 primary ballot...

As of this afternoon, 16 of the 32 Signature Parties have taken place, and we have gathered at least 480 signatures for each of the 5 Presidential candidates. The snowstorm on Saturday probably cost us about 200 from the events that day. (The total # of signatures does not include any obtained by the 45 volunteers who are getting them in their community, independent of the signature parties.). So we need to keep pushing to get all our GOP candidates on the Primary ballot...

We have just 2 weeks to get 1,000 valid signatures for these candidates, from January 19 to February 2. (This is down from the 5 weeks we had previously, in warmer weather). Also, in normal states, signatures are turned in to one central location. In R.I., signatures must be turned in to the City or Town Hall where the signer resides. (So, for instance, if you are a Providence voter, and sign a paper that is turned in to Pawtucket, your signature would be disqualified.). This makes it impractical to gather signatures at shopping centers or at athletic events, where people come from numerous different communities.

And remember: although 1,000 signatures is the official number, each candidate wants to be well over that total, in case a significant percentage are challenged, illegible, etc.

Below the fold is the list of remaining signature parties.

Continue reading "GOP Primary Ballot Update"

January 21, 2012

Gingrich to Win South Carolina

Carroll Andrew Morse

It looks like Newt Gingrich will win the South Carolina Republican primary with about 40% of the vote. Mitt Romney will finish second around 27%, and Rick Santorum and Ron Paul will be 3rd and 4th, with 17% and 13% respectively. (Link to results from CBS News).

Last cycle, I thought that one of the late-starting, non-conventional candidacies (Giuliani, Thompson) was going to have a big impact on the race, but that turned out not to be the case. The Republicans nominated their traditional "next guy in line" who ran an uber-traditional campaign. I learned my lesson and decided that this time around, I would not get pulled into spending any time analyzing scenarios in which the next-guy-in-line frontrunner might lose the nomination to someone else.

The lesson, for me personally, is that I'm so bad at predicting the outcome of the Presidential nomination process, even when I don't make any predictions, I'm still wrong.

January 10, 2012

Open Thread: Talking Out the Increasingly Probable Romney Nomination

Carroll Andrew Morse

If Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee for President of the United States, it means...

Romney to Win New Hampshire; No Consensus not-Romney Emerges

Carroll Andrew Morse

If the New Hampshire primary numbers via CNN as of 9:30, with about half the vote in and all counties at least partially reporting, stay reasonably stable...

  • Mitt Romney will finish first, with somewhere between 35% and 40% of the vote,
  • Ron Paul will finish 2nd somewhere in the 25% range,
  • Jon Huntsman will finish 3rd, with somwhere between 15% and 20% of the vote,
  • Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum will be in a near tie for 4th and 5th place, in the 10% range, and
  • Rick Perry will finish 6th, struggling to gain a single digit percentage of the vote.
So with none of the candidates who's strategy is based on a conscious appeal to conservatives able to crack the top 3, does Mitt Romney now have the Republican nomination for President locked up, or might a single consensus challenger still appear by the time of or during the South Carolina primary?

January 5, 2012

The GOP Three

Marc Comtois

Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum. In some order, they are the three front-runners for the GOP presidential nomination (it looks to me like Perry, Gingrich & Huntsman are just playing out the string or playing spoiler at this point). Here are a few "mixed bag" snippets about each as we set the stage for New Hampshire. Jim Pehokoukis on Romney's tax plan:

the Romney tax plan would a) make permanent the Bush tax cuts; b) cut the top corporate tax to 25 percent from 35 percent and shift to a territorial system; c) end the estate tax; and d) eliminate capital gains and dividend taxes for those earning less than $200,000 a year. Meh. No 9-9-9, no 15 percent or 20 percent flat tax....Yet Romney has given strong hints that he favors comprehensive reform like that devised by the Bowles-Simpson commission: lowering marginal income tax rates and paying for it by eliminating tax breaks. Of course, many of those tax breaks, such as the mortgage interest deduction and child tax credit, have strong constituencies — that’s why they are in the tax code — and calling for their end is politically risky. So Romney’s tax stance is hardly a profile in courage. At least for right now.
Reason's Brian Doherty on the enthusiasm for Ron Paul:
Everyone I talked to was impressed with what the Paul machine achieved in Iowa, working hard for what they got with likely over a million in ads over the campaign, dozens of paid staffers, many hundreds of out of state youthful troops working brutal 10 hour or more shifts everyday and stored away at a YMCA camp, doing advance work for Paul's many appearances, working the phones...doing some door-to-door stuff...

And never forget that no matter how good a job the campaign did at message-spreading and getting out their base, Paul has a problem with lots of voters (one I find Paul mavens surprisingly unwilling to admit): they just don't actually agree with most or all of his beliefs. In that regard, given that Paul's most vivid and forceful departure from conservative and Republican orthodoxy is in foreign policy, the noises round the globe hyping up possible war with Iran probably worked against Paul's interests here in Iowa. Ominous splashes from the Straits of Hormuz may have poured cold water on Paul's chances...

George Will on the "suddenly...fun" candidate Rick Santorum:
Iowa Republicans ignored an axiom that is as familiar as it is false: Democrats fall in love, and Republicans fall in line. Republicans, supposedly hierarchical, actually are — let us say the worst — human. They crave fun. Supporting Mitt Romney still seems to many like a duty, the responsible thing to do. Suddenly, supporting Santorum seems like a lark, partly because a week or so ago he could quit complaining about media neglect and start having fun, which is infectious....Santorum exemplifies a conservative aspiration born about the time he was born in 1958. Frank Meyer, a founding editor of William F. Buckley’s National Review in 1955, postulated the possibility, and necessity, of “fusionism,” a union of social conservatives and those of a more libertarian, free-market bent.
Finally, Ramesh Ponnuru explains that there really isn't a whole lot separating any of the Republican hopefuls:
Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney have the same positions on most of the issues. Where Ron Paul disagrees with those positions, he represents a minority of the Republican Party. The truth is that on public-policy issues, the Republican Party is more unified than it has been in years, even though the demands of primary competition work to obscure that fact.

Both Santorum and Romney, for example, want to cut the corporate tax rate. Both believe that Medicare spending should be restrained and beneficiaries allowed to choose among competing plans. Both favor legal protections for fetuses. There was no consensus in the G.O.P. field on these issues just four years ago....Many social conservatives prefer Santorum over Romney because the former’s record on these issues has been more consistent, he emphasizes them more, and he takes more conservative positions — albeit only on issues that have no practical relevance to the presidency, since neither contraception nor abortion in the cases of rape or incest is going to be made illegal anywhere in this country. These differences are not enough to split a party.

In Paul’s case, some of the issues are large enough — but the movement isn’t. There are plenty of Republicans who want a less interventionist foreign policy than Romney or Santorum favors, but there are very few who want Paul’s doctrinaire anti-interventionism....A lot of Republicans who are voting for Paul are doubtless doing so because they want drastically lower levels of federal spending and regulation and a more tightly constrained Federal Reserve. Those too are issues where Republicans have a consensus; other candidates can appeal to part of Paul’s following on them.Partisans for each candidate, caught up in the daily battles, often have a hard time taking a step back and realizing that the proximate rivals to "their guy" aren't the real opposition. Keep your eye on the ball, folks.

January 3, 2012

Watching the Iowa Caucus Results Come In

Carroll Andrew Morse

I wasn't going to do this, but I couldn't help myself...

[9:02] With 8% of precints reporting, according to the AP vote total (reported via ABC News) it's a dead three-way tie Paul 24% Santorum 23% Romney 23%.

[9:05] Up to 10% reporting: Paul 24% Romney 24% Santorum 23%. Perry (5th place) single digits at 9%. I know it's just one state yadda yadda yadda but does Perry seriously go on after this?

[9:07] CNN's front-page graphic is seriously screwed up. Even though its Paul 24% Romney 23% Santorum 23% Gingrich 13% Perry 10%, all of their graphs are of the same height. (12% reporting)

[9:12] I've been looking for the old Bloom County strip, where Binkley comes up with a scenario where a divided vote gives Mick Jagger the GOP nomination, but it's apparently not online anywhere.

[9:19] Via the ABC News liveblog, Jeff Greenfield makes the crusty old political reporter's point: "So 500 or so votes may separate 1st and 3rd? And we think it's significant, this order of finish?"

[9:23] 15% reporting. Paul 24% Santorum 23% Romney 23%. Perry back into double digits at 10%. Huntsman into triple digits (in total number of votes, 126 to leader Paul's 4,440).

[9:26] With 18% in, CNN figures out that their graphic is broken, and "fixes" the problem by dropping 4th place and below off of their front page graphic. Paul 24% Santorum 24% Romney 22%. Paul has 65 more votes than Santorum.

[9:31] Ye gods. With 22% of precincts in, Romney 23% Santorum 23% Paul 23%. Maybe I should start reporting vote totals. (Romney has 57 more votes than Paul).

[9:40] 27% of precincts reporting. Romney 7,844; Santorum 7,726; Paul 7,655. Gingrich 4th with 4,440 votes.

[9:58] Correction: That's 31% of precincts reporting, representing 27% of the expected vote. Results have been stuck at the same place for about 20 minutes or so.

[10:05] Pure speculation on my part, but I'm guessing we'll be seeing Santorum at a more central podium during the next debate.

[10:10] 48% of precincts in: Santorum 13,339 24%; Romney 13,011 24%; Paul 11,972 22%.

[10:14] Something else to ponder before the next debate: CW is that Huntsman needs to knock out one of the three Iowa leaders, to make a respectable showing (and keep his chances alive for a future run). So who does Huntsman go after? Paul, with the message of "I'm the non-crazy guy that wants to bring the troops home", or Santorum with a message of "Just kidding, I was a conservative all along, and I look more Presidential than Santorum".

[10:17] Chuck Todd of NBC News concedes: They're not going to try and call the race until all the votes are counted.

[10:34] I would like to go on record as saying that doing anything serious on the Tuesday following a New Year's Day long weekend is a bad idea. We do need to think about a way to reform the primary-process, so states stop trying to leapfrog one another to be able to vote ridiculously early.

[10:45] 60% of precincts in, Santorum opening a little lead? Santorum 16,916 25%; Romney 15,688 23%; Paul 14,459 21%.

[10:52] 88% of precincts in. Looks like Paul will be 3rd, Romney and Santorum fighting it out for 1 and 2. Santorum 26,443 25%; Romney 26,398 25%; Paul 22,728 21%.

[11:00] Just another New Year's Eve, just another Auld Lang Syne...

[11:06] Romney edges ahead 27,101 25%; Santorum 26,976 25%. However, unless there's a huge swing in the last 11% of the voting, the result is going to be Santorum and Romney tied for 1st, Ron Paul a close 3rd. Other totals (from the AP via ABC news) are Gingrich 14,576 13%; Perry 11,279 10%; Bachmann 5,576 5%; Huntsman 645 1%.

[11:12] Also for the record, CNN.com got their front-page graphic issue fixed. You can see the difference between Ron Paul's bar, and the two leaders' bars.

[11:20] According to the AP via ABC News, just 13 votes separate Romney and Santorum with 92% of precincts in.

[11:45] 96% of the vote in, no significant change Santorum 28,958 25%; Romney 28,879 25%; Paul 25,044 21%. That's the main result from Iowa.

[Wed. morning] Final results, from CBS News...

Mitt Romney: 30,015 (25%);
Rick Santorum: 30,007 (25%);
Ron Paul: 26,219 (21%);
Newt Gingrich: 16,251 (13%);
Rick Perry: 12,604 (10%);
Michele Bachmann: 6,073 (5%);
Jon Huntsman: 745 (1%).

December 28, 2011

Re 3: GOP's Circular Firing Squad: National (Newt Gingrich) Edition

Carroll Andrew Morse

For over half a century now, the norm of American government has been autopilot increases in the size and cost of government. To stop this, before the country goes irreparably broke (if we aren't there already), someone is going to have to successfully build a consensus around the idea that a different normal is possible. However, moving a nation away from practices that have been in place for multiple decades is not easy. This makes me potentially sympathetic to the reasoning for supporting a Newt Gingrich's candidacy discussed by columnist Jonah Goldberg...

Mitt Romney is still the sensible choice if you believe these are rough, but generally sensible, times. If, however, you think these are crazy and extraordinary times, then perhaps they call for a crazy, extraordinary — very high-risk, very high-reward — figure like Gingrich.
But given the criticisms just offered of Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, can it clearly be said that Gingrich is obviously a better option? In terms of specific policies, Gingrich hasn't been an example of rock-ribbed consistency in the last decade, having gone through some sudden changes, for example, in his positions on global warming and an individual healthcare mandate since the last Presidential election. Given that record, the same worries that apply to Romney apply to Gingrich too -- no one can be 100% sure of which big-government programs he might choose to eliminate or drastically reform, and which he might choose to simply "manage". And while he's never given a policy answer that is as mind-numbing as Paul's explanation of his simultaneous support for and opposition to earmarks, he does share with Paul the fact that his style of presenting his thoughts seems to be much more constant than the thoughts being presented (though, in Gingrich's case the changes occur over time, while in Paul's case the underlying philosophy is something of a jumble at any given time).

Convincing the country that a new normal must be achieved is going to require actively persuading a lot of people both inside and outside of government to support something that's very different from Washington's two favorite solutions to any problem of "let's spend more money on existing bureaucracies" and "let's create new bureaucracies to oversee the old ones". Gingrich, on his good days, is as effective as anyone at explaining why something different is necessary. But on his bad days, he is equally as capable of scaring people away from reasonable ideas. And even if Gingrich truly has "evolved" in his decade and a half outside of government and is better able to moderate his penchant for potentially damaging outbursts, there is a legitimate political question of whether he has already alienated too many people over his lifetime to ever be effective (assuming that he already hasn't alienated too many people to ever be elected).

Finally, this analysis of Gingrich sits upon the idea that his most recent changes in position are his final ones, meaning that it can't be ignored that what has moved Gingrich back towards some of the conservative positions he had drifted away from has been his quest for the GOP Presidential nomination. Would a President Gingrich continue to hold the more-conservative positions, after securing the Presidency? Pondering the answer to this question raises another pragmatic question in turn: if you believe that some energy will need to be spent by the grassroots to remind Newt Gingrich to stay conservative and prevent him from getting sucked back into inside-the-beltway thinking, what is it that's Gingrich's advantage over Romney again?

Re 2: GOP's Circular Firing Squad: National (Ron Paul) Edition

Carroll Andrew Morse

A key problem with Ron Paul's candidacy, indicative of all his others, was by made clear by the biggest unheralded gaffe in the December 15 Sioux City, Iowa Republican Presidential debate, specifically the mess of an answer that Rep. Paul gave on the earmarks he has requested for his district over his Congressional career...

The real message is you should include in your question also you have never voted once for an earmark.

No, it's a principle that I deal with, because if the government takes money from you and you fill out your tax form, you take your deductions. I look at that the same way in our communities. They take our money, they take our highway funds and we have every right to apply for them to come back.

As a matter of fact, it's a bigger principle for me than that. I think this whole thing is out of control on the earmarks, because I think the congress has an obligation to earmark every penny, not to deliver that power to the executive branch. What happens when you don't vote for the earmarks it goes in to the slush fund, the executive branch spends the money then you have to grovel to the executive branch and beg and plead and say oh, please return my highway funds to me.

So if this whole principle of budgeting that is messed up, but I never vote, I never voted for an earmark. But I do argue the case for my -- the people I represent to try to get their money back if at all possible....

[Intervening question, "isn't that the same thing of having your cake and eating it too..."]

Yes, but you're missing the point. I don't complain about earmarks, because it is the principle of the Congress meeting their obligation. But if everybody did what I did, there would be no earmarks. The budget would be balanced and we'd be cutting about 80 percent of the spending. So that would be the solution.

So Rep Paul doesn't vote for the earmarks he requests, and believes that if everybody followed his example and requested earmarks but didn't vote for them, the budget would be cut and "there would be no earmarks" -- which he apparently believes would be bad, since "congress has an obligation to earmark every penny". Huh?

If a John Kerry or a Joseph Biden offered such a bumbling explanation of their position on a piece of legislation, they would be rightly excoriated for wanting to create an image for voters that did not portray accurately the reality of their governing decisions, and there's no reason that Rep. Paul deserves any special exemption here. A Ron Paul presidency would not bring the United States governance by a "philosophically consistent libertarian" or even its illusion, because a President Paul would not have the luxury of being able to cast symbolic libertarian-sympathy votes against legislation that he supports for non-libertarian reasons. There is no voting "present" when you are President of the United States.

Ron Paul's problem is not that he subscribes to some libertarian ideas, or that there's a media conspiracy against libertarianism. His problem is and has always been the poor choices of compromises and alliances he makes with with non-libertarian and non limited-government quarters, which he (and his followers) want to pretend don't exist. Two examples -- that don't even bring us to the issue of the newsletters -- are his belief (acted upon in the earmark example above) in getting yours from government if you are in a position to do so while minimizing public accountability, and his belief that "world law" might not have allowed him to order the Osama Bin Laden raid, an idea which has nothing to do with libertarianism or limited government. These kinds of choices have justifiably placed Ron Paul on the fringe of what most GOP voters are willing to consider.

Re: GOP's Circular Firing Squad: National (Mitt Romney) Edition

Carroll Andrew Morse

In a response to Marc's Presidential primary post from yesterday, commenter Brassband sums up the "electability" case being made for Mitt Romney...

To be elected President, a Republican has to be able to appeal to the "persuadable middle" seven or so percent of voters in about seven or eight key states...

Romney's not perfect, but he's worlds better than Pres. Obama!

I suspect there are some people who might have felt comfortable with this line of reasoning pre-Barack Obama, or maybe pre-George W. Bush, but who have serious reservations in the year 2012.

It has been observed that Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal became a permanent piece of American governance, only after Republican President Dwight Eisenhower accepted that he would govern within its framework, and not try significantly to alter or reduce it. Likewise, Lyndon Johnson's Great Society became permanent when Richard Nixon chose to administrate its massive expansion of government, rather than scale it back. And once Jimmy Carter's you-got-a-problem, I got-a-program polyglot of new cabinet agencies survived the Republican administration of Ronald Reagan that followed, despite Republican talk that has never ended about shutting down agencies like the Department of Energy or the Department of Education, no Republican President or Congress has come close to doing so.

Mitt Romney is having problem gaining a lock on Republican support because many Republican voters are aware of this dynamic. They are worried -- rightly so, in my humble opinion -- that a Mitt Romney administration might choose a basic governing philosophy of "managing" the structural foundation for a Euro-style soft-socialism that Barack Obama has laid, making it permanent in the process, even if that is not the intention. It's not difficult to imagine the message of the first few months of the Romney administration being, we're in an economic crisis now so we've got to work with the government as it is; but don't worry, in a few years, or a few decades, when things are back to normal, then we'll form a study commission to propose a super-committee to discuss passing a timetable to begin to slow the automatic annual growth of government. For a possible likely outcome, see the results of the Eisenhower, Nixon or Reagan administrations on domestic policy.

If candidate Romney wants to increase his support amongst Republicans, he needs to be more convincing than he has been so far that this won't be the case.

December 27, 2011

GOP's Circular Firing Squad: National Edition - None of these guys are beyond reproach

Marc Comtois

I haven't committed strongly to any of the GOP presidential hopefuls, mainly because they're all different flavors of meh. But one of them is going to win and run against Obama. It's up to the GOP to figure out who has the "best chance" of beating the President. The one thing that has annoyed me the most, though, are the various supporters of each candidate getting all "holier than thou" when it comes to defending their pick vs. the others. None of these guys are "all that." Just take the three front-runners.

Mitt Romney has flip-flopped enough to warrant a website devoted to chronicling the pattern. His ideology seems to be "I'm running for President". He seems wooden and too-perfect & it doesn't "feel" like he can relate to the average person.

But before you Gingrich-ites or Paulians get all self-righteous, be careful. Gingrich was for Romney's health care reform before he was against it.

“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 Mr. Gingrich’s former consulting company, the Center for Health Transformation.
Except now, apparently, Gingrich's people are claiming that Newt didn't really write that endorsement. Uh. Yeah. That's kinda what Newt called Ron Paul out on when Paul disavowed the racist stuff in Paul's own newsletters, saying he didn't write them (which is probably correct...or maybe not.). So, memo to self--newsletters written under your own name aren't your responsibility.

As for Paul....his either an isolationist or a non-interventionist, depending on how you interpret his foreign policy stances. But it seems he doesn't let such things as moral imperatives instruct his decision-making. He said he wouldn't have fought WWII if it "only" meant saving the Jews from the Holocaust. And he thought that Lincoln fighting the Civil War to free the slaves was a mistake. 'Cause the slaves would have been freed eventually, anyway. (Of course, the fact that the South kinda started it with that whole secession thing....). Those are two pretty big, albeit theoretical, "take a pass" items.

All of them have good ideas. Despite his flipping and apparent lack of an ideological touchstone, Romney would be competent. Gingrich is a big ideas guy. Paul makes sense in some fiscal areas and when it comes to cutting government. It's just a matter of how much of the negative baggage you think the voting public can take along with the good ideas. Maybe there's some acceptable ratio. Or maybe it will just come down to media spin and "optics." Just like last time. Great.

December 11, 2011

The Des Moines ABC/Yahoo GOP Presidential Debate, Part 3

Carroll Andrew Morse

Here are the traditional liveblogging notes, formatted for readability, that I kept during the latter-half of Saturday night's ABC News/Yahoo News debate co-sponsored by WOI-TV, The Des Moines Register and Drake University

[9:48] George S asks Perry about his describing marital fidelity as an important issue to the Presidential campaign.

[9:48] Marriage is a vow to your wife, and a vow to God, and stronger than a Texas handshake.

[9:49] Perry: Someone who cheats on their wife is likely to cheat on others.

[9:50] Santorum: Character counts, but people make mistakes. The public has to decide, based on someone's whole record. And I've been married for 21 years and have 7 kids.

[9:51] Paul: Character is important, we shouldn't have to talk about it, it should show through in the way we live (and I've been married for 54 years, BTW)

[9:52] Q to Romney: Family and faith feature of your first ad. Romney: It's a response to an Obama ad, saying I have no core values. I am motivated by love for this country, and want to make sure America continues to be a merit based society.

[9:53] Bachmann: Founders spoke of a "measure of a man" (or "measure of a woman") and thought that if a person would keep their word was more important than anything else.

[9:55] And Gingrich says: The questions are legitimate. People have to judge who I am now, am I someone they can trust.

[9:56] Sawyer asks about immigration. She wants it "stipulated"(?) that everyone here wants to secure the borders. Now lets talk about 11 million undocumented people in the U.S.

[9:57] Gingrich: Create citizen review boards based on the selective service system. Doesn't think the people of U.S. will deport people who are good community members.

[9:57] Gingrich: Deportation of people with no community ties should be made easier; English should be the official language of the US.

[9:59] Sawyer asks Romney a long-winded version of "how many people do you want to deport".

[9:59] Romney says let's secure the border first. Then give the people who are here an opportunity to Settle their affairs, and return home.

[10:01] Sawyer simplifies Romney's answer to you want to deport 11.5 million people.

[10:01] Sawyer to Perry, what about people who are in the military.

[10:01] Perry: First we need to secure the border! Then we need to enforce the laws that are on the books. Then we can have a legitimate conversation on immigration reform.

[10:02] Stephanopoulos asks Paul about Gingrich's recent comment that the Palestinians are an invented people.

[10:03] Paul: Under the Ottoman Empire, that was technically correct, but Israel wasn't a state either. People in those regions should be dealing with those problems, we shouldn't be dealing with them. Says his "policeman of the world" meme.

[10:04] Gingrich sticks by his guns. What he said was historically true, and groups like Hamas are willing to say openly that not a single Jew will remain in Israel. There's too much lying about the Middle East.

[10:05] Romney asked to respond: He agrees with most of what Gingrich said, except that the Palestinians are an invented people. US should not jump ahead of Israeli leadership, and make their jobs more difficult.

[10:07] Fanned by Stephanopoulos, some back and forth between Gingrich and Romney.

[10:09] Gingrich compares his remark to Reagan's evil empire remark.

[10:10] Q to Bachmann: who got the better of the arg? Obviously uncomfortable, she goes into a prepared set-piece, starting with her days working on Kibbutz, ending with her confronting the head of the Palestinian authority about textbooks that teach hatred of Jews.

[10:11] Q to Santorum: who got the better of the arg? A: "You have to speak the truth, but with prudence".

[10:12] I wonder if Bachmann and Santorum were told before the debate that their role was to be Greek Chorus to the other candidates.

[10:13] Perry says Gingrich's comment is a minor issue and the media is blowing out of proportion. Criticizes Obama's handling of a crashed drone. This President is the problem, not something that Gingrich said.

[10:14] Sawyer says "I'm a yahoo". Oh, wait, that's "I have a question from Yahoo", right after this next commercial break.

[10:20] Question from Yahoo to the candidates: Has the economy forced you to cut back on any necessities (not just luxuries)?

[10:21] Perry didn't have running water until he was 5 years old, and his mother sewed his clothes until he went to college. But never felt like he had to give anything up.

[10:22] Sawyer complains about candidates going over time.

[10:23] Romney says he didn't grow up poor, but his parents instilled principles of hard work.

[10:23] Sawyer asks Paul if the question she just asked matters.

[10:23] Paul: I grew up in the depression and WWII, but didn't feel deprived. Then pivots to monetary policy, and how overspending and overborrowing will destroy the middle class.

[10:24] Santorum grew up in a modest home, and had his basic needs met. Most important thing: I had two parents. Breakdown of family leads to breakdown of the economy. Marriage should be promoted.

[10:26] Sawyer asks Bachmann about bank bailouts. Bachmann answers that some people on this stage supported bailouts, I didn't. Says she was born in Iowa, and had a job at 13 to help out her divorced single mom.

[10:27] Gingrich: I lived in an apartment above a gas-station for a while. Has several out of work relatives. Callista runs a business, has to meet payroll, etc.

[10:28] Stephanopoulos: I want to keep being a yahoo -- oh wait, that's I want to stick with Yahoo. Yahoo audience wants to hear more about healthcare mandates.

[10:29] Romney: "States can do whatever the heck they want to do", but a Federal mandate violates the 10th amendment.
[10:30] Stephanopoulos actually comes up with a decent follow-up: Gingrich supported the mandate up until May. Gingrich says he opposes the mandate, because it means any majority could make you do anything.

[10:30] More Gingrich: 3rd party payment model has grown more difficult sustain, we need to move back towards a doctor-patient relationship.

[10:31] Sawyer talks about her visit to a pharmacy in Iowa. Listening to her speak is making me want to take painkillers.

[10:32] OK, since I was too busy being snarky in the last line, I missed the specific question that prompted Paul's response of: If you need a system where government protects you from yourself, we're in big trouble.

[10:32] Then Paul adds "All government is force". Ron, you we're starting to sound sane tonight -- don't lose it now.

[10:33] Stephanopoulos asks if anyone disagrees with Paul's point of the government not being involved in regulating behavior. Perry jumps in (disappointing Stephanopoulos, I think): It's up to the states, it should be their call. Goes into set-piece about overhauling Washington, going to a part time Congress...

[10:34] ...except Perry then adds the brilliant point that we need a balanced budget constitutional amendment.

The Des Moines ABC/Yahoo GOP Presidential Debate, Part 2

Carroll Andrew Morse

The second question in Saturday night's ABC News/Yahoo News debate co-sponsored by WOI-TV, The Des Moines Register and Drake University opened the most substantive section of the debate. George Stephanopoulos asked about which candidate was the best combination of consistent conservative and most electable. (The question itself was milquetoast. It's the answers that were good.) The details in the reponses and the point-by-point rebuttals that followed flew by faster than I could keep up with, so I will combine the notes I made about the flow of the debate with the candidates' own words, taken from the official debate transcript released by the debate's sponsors and co-sponsors.

Romney compares himself to President Obama first: Obama wants to transform America into an entitlement society. Romney believes America should be a merit society.

Romney, with prompting from George S, gives a 4-point criticism of Gingrich...

We can start with his idea to have a lunar colony that would mine minerals from the from the moon. I'm not in favor of spendin' that kinda money to do that. He said that he would like to eliminate, in some cases, the child labor laws so that kids could clean schools. I don't agree with that idea. His plan in capital gains, to remove capital gains for people at the very highest level of income is different than mine. I'd eliminate capital gains, interest, and dividends for people in middle income. So we have differences of viewpoint on some issues. But the real difference, I believe, is our backgrounds. I spent my life in the private sector.
George S asks Gingrich for a response. Gingrich asks if he gets to respond to all 4 points. George says yes, but doesn't really look happy about it.

Here's the highlights from Gingrich in the transcript (he wasn't quite as concise as Romney)...

Okay. Let's start with the last one. Let's be candid. The only reason you didn't become a career politician is you lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994...

Now number two, I'm proud of trying to find things that give young people a reason to study science and math and technology and telling them that some day in their lifetime, they could dream of going to the moon, they could dream of going to Mars. I grew up in a generation where the space program was real, where it was important, and where frankly it is tragic that NASA has been so bureaucratized....And I'm happy to defend the idea that America should be in space and should be there in an aggressive, entrepreneurial way. Third, as to schools, I think virtually every person up here worked at a young age. What I suggested was, kids oughta be allowed to work part-time in school, particularly in the poorest neighborhoods, both because they could use the money....I'll stand by the idea, young people oughta learn how to work. Middle class kids do it routinely. We should give poor kids the same chance to pursue happiness. Finally on capital gains taxes...[a] $200,000 cap on or capital gains tax cut is lower than Obama....I'll stick with zero capital gains will create vastly more jobs than your proposal.

Stephanopoulos asks Paul about the negative TV ad he's been running against Gingrich.

Paul answers...

Well, he's been on different positions on so many issues. Single payer: he's taken some positions that are not conservative. He supported the TARP funds. And...he received a lot of money from Freddie Mac. Now, Freddie Mac is essentially a government organization...[Newt is] a spokesman for 'em and you received money for 'em, so I think this is something that the people oughta know about

But, you know, if you were lookin' for a consistent position, I think there's gonna be a little bit of trouble anybody competing with me on consistency.

Gingrich gets to respond...
Well, first of all, as you say...normally in your own speeches, the housing bubble came from the Federal Reserve inflating the money supply. Now, that's the core of the housing bubble and I happen to be with you on auditing the Fed...and frankly on firing Bernanke. Second, I was never a spokesman for any agency, I never did any lobbying for any agency. I offered strategic advice. I was in the private sector. And I was doing things (LAUGHTER) in the private sector.
(What the transcript doesn't show is that Gingrich basically pointed to Romney on that last "private sector" point).

Stephanopoulos tells Bachmann it's her turn to take a shot at Gingrich. Will we hear "frugal socialist"?

No, Bachmann widens the question, to criticize "Newt Romney"...

When you look at Newt Gingrich, for 20 years, he's been advocating for the individual mandate in healthcare. That's longer than Barack Obama. Or if you look at Mitt Romney as the governor of Massachusetts, he's the only governor that put into place socialized medicine. No other governor did. Our nominee has to stand on a stage and debate Barack Obama and be completely different. I led 40,000 Americans to Washington D.C., to the Capitol, to fight ObamaCare. I didn't advocate for it. If you look at Newt/Romney, they were for ObamaCare principles. If you look at Newt/Romney, they were for cap and trade. If you look at Newt/Romney, they were for the illegal immigration problem. And if you look at Newt/Romney, they were for the $700 billion bailout. And you just heard Newt/Romney is also with Obama on the issue of the payroll extension.

So if you want a difference, Michele Bachmann is the proven conservative. It's not Newt/Romney.

I think the rules of the debate are that if canidate X mentions candidate Y's name, candidate Y automatically gets time to respond. Ultimately, this format seems to make Diane Sawyer very unhappy.

Gingrich gets to respond first...

A lot of what you say just isn't true, period. I have never...I oppose cap and trade, I testified against it, the same day that Al Gore testified for it. I helped defeat it in the Senate through American solutions...I fought against ObamaCare at every step of the way...the Center for Health Transformation was actively opposed, we actively campaigned against it...

And most of the money I made, frankly, I made in ways that are totally-- had nothing to do with anything you've described. I did no lobbying, no representation. And frankly, my speech money and other things I did, they had nothing to do with that...

Romney responded next...
Newt Gingrich is a friend of mine. But, he and I are not clones, I promise. (Note: Between the camera angles, and the way Romney delivered the line, this was a pretty funny physical comedy moment)

Let me say this about health care. One, I didn't send a team of anybody to meet with Barack Obama. I wish he'd have given me a call. I wish when he was putting together his health care plan, he'd have had the courtesy and perhaps the judgment to say, "Let me talk to a governor. Let's talk to somebody who's dealt with a real problem that understands this topic," and get on the phone. I'd have said, "Mr. President, you're going down a very, very bad path. Do not continue going down that path because what you're gonna do is you're gonna raise taxes on the American people. You're gonna cut Medicare...And finally, the plan we put in place in Massachusetts, it deals with the 8% of our people who didn't have insurance. The 92% of people who did have insurance, nothing changes for them. If I'm President of the United States, we're gonna get rid of ObamaCare and return, under our constitution, the 10th Amendment, the responsibility and care of health care to the people in the states.

George S asks Perry an amorphous, "it's your turn" question. Perry answers...
Both of these gentlemen have been for the individual mandate. And I'm even more stunned, Mitt, that you said you wished you could've talked to Obama and said "You're goin' down the wrong path," because that is exactly the path that you've taken Massachusetts. The Beacon Hill study itself said that there's been 18,000 jobs lost because of that individual mandate. The study continued to say that there've been over $8 billion of additional cost...But the record is very clear. You and Newt were for individual mandates. And that is the problem. And the question is then, "Who can stand on the stage, look Obama in the eye, and say, 'ObamaCare is an abomination for this country?" And I'm gonna do that. And I can take that fight to him and win that fight.
Romney gets to respond...
A good deal of what you said was right. Some was wrong. Speaker Gingrich said that he was for a federal individual mandate. That's something I've always opposed. What we did in our state was designed by the people in our state for the needs of our state. You believe in the 10th Amendment. I believe in the 10th Amendment. The people of Massachusetts favor our plan three to one. They don't like it, they can get rid of it. That's the great thing about a democracy, where individuals under the 10th Amendment have the power to craft their own solutions.

By the way, the problem with President Obama's plan is it does three things we didn't in my opinion, among others. I understand we disagree on this. But among others, one, it raises taxes by $500 billion. We didn't raise taxes. Two, it cuts Medicare by $500 billion. We didn't do that, either. And three, it doesn't just deal with the people that don't have insurance. It's a 2,000-page bill that takes over health care for all the American people. It is wrong for health care. It's wrong for the American people. It's unconstitutional. And I'm absolutely adamantly opposed to ObamaCare. And if I'm the President of the United States, I will return to the people and the states the power they have under the constitution and they can craft the solutions they think are best for them...

You had a mandate in your state. You mandate that girls at 12 years old had to get a vaccination for a sexually-transmitted disease. So it's not like we have this big difference on mandates. We had different things we mandated over. I wanted to give people health insurance. You want to get young girls a vaccine. There are differences.

Gingrich tries to explain his earlier support for a mandate as being a pragmatic maneuver needed to oppose Hillarycare (he used that word) in the 1990s.

Perry says Romney has re-edited one of books, to downplay his support for the mandate.

Romney bets Perry $10,000 he can't prove that.

Bachmann reiterates that no one who has supported a mandate in the past will be effective at opposing it in the future.

George S tells Santorum it's his turn. Fortunately, Santorum remembers the original question, about conservative consistency and electability...

Back in 1994, when I was running for the United States Senate and I did not support an individual mandate and I was a conservative, I supported something called Medical Savings Accounts that I drafted with John Kasich when I was in the House, because I believe in bottom-up solving the problems in America, not top-down government solutions....

You can't talk about whether someone's consistent unless you look at their record. And I'd agree with Michele. I mean, I think Michele has been a consistent conservative. But, she's been fighting and losing. I fought and won. I was in the United States Senate and I fought and passed Welfare Reform. I was the principal author when I was in the United States House and managed the bill on the floor of the United States Senate. I was the leader on pro-life issues and pro-family issues....I went out and fought on national security issues, conservative things like putting sanctions on Iran....You're not gonna hear them talk about all the positions I took and flip-flopped on. I was there. I led. And I won.

Bachmann gets to respond to Santorum's mention of her...
I think the important thing to know is that you fight and that you lead....when I was in the United States Congress, we were in the minority. Nancy Pelosi wasn't interested in my pro-growth policy on health care. But, I didn't sit on my hands. I saw what was happening to this country. Our country was going to lose because of socialized medicine. And so I did everything I could, including bringing and leading 40,000 people to the Capitol to get the attention of the Congress to get rid of ObamaCare. As President of the United States, my proven consistent record will be that I will take on every special interest. I will take on K Street. And I will pre-lobby. And I'll make sure that I help elect 13 more Republican U.S. Senators so we have 60 senators in the Senate, a full complement in the House. And I won't rest until we repeal ObamaCare. You can take it to the bank.
That' pretty much ended the unplanned but informative round-robin phase of the evening.

The Des Moines ABC/Yahoo GOP Presidential Debate, Part 1

Carroll Andrew Morse

The first question from last night's ABC News/Yahoo News debate co-sponsored by WOI-TV, The Des Moines Register and Drake University. (Most of this I was able to upload to Twitter, up until the last two lines, when I succumbed to my technical difficulties).

Diane Sawyer salutes all of the candidates' commitment to Presidential race and to democracy.

First question is on jobs. At the same time, my Tweet button vanishes from my screen...

Romney had a 7-point plan to create jobs. Gingrich had about 5. Ron Paul says the problem is debt...

Perry positions himself as an outsider who will handle the problem of corruption. Kudos, to whoever's managing his focus groups.

Bachmann goes for the Cain voters -- says she'd have a win-win-win program, like his 9-9-9 program. Says she'd repeal Obamacare.

Diane Sawyer demands a specific number of new jobs that will be created.

Santorum says gov't can't dictate the number of new jobs that will be created. He's right.

Sawyer has a question about the payroll tax-cut, expiring on Dec. 31

Santorum and Bachmann are taking the concept of a Social Security trust fund way too seriously

George Stephanopolus is running down a list of everybody who's in favor of a tax cut, without letting them speak. In a format like this, if you already know the answer to the questions you are asking, they're probably bad questions.

Paul would pay for a Social Security tax cut by cutting spending overseas.

December 10, 2011

Appropriate or Not, One Watcher's Final Score on the Republican Debate

Carroll Andrew Morse

I think Newt Gingrich came out ahead, and Ron Paul may have pulled a few people in his direction. People concerned that Mitt Romney and Rick Perry are lacking in something needed to successfully challenge President Obama probably were not terribly reassured, and Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum had some solid base-hits when they needed home runs.

Liveblogging Tonight's Republican Presidential Debate

Carroll Andrew Morse


I appear to have been, as they say in the software industry, hardware-bound in my attempt to liveblog tonight's Republican debate via Twitter, i.e. for some reason my Twitter input box would hang up, while my hard drive was spinning furiously, and I fell too far behind to be able to catch up in real time. I will convert the notes I continued to keep into a retro-running diary, which I will post over the course of the day tomorrow, and have the Anchor Rising hardware committee perform a top-to-bottom review of all liveblogging procedures in preparation for future events.

Tonight, Anchor Rising will attempt to determine if a Presidential debate can be liveblogged 140 characters at a time, through the magic of linking Twitter and the traditional old venerable blogosphere together.

The debate is being held by ABC News, and begins at 9 pm.

December 9, 2011

Newt Gingrich: Socialist???

Carroll Andrew Morse

In the last week or so, several high profile conservatives have called Republican Presidential non-Mitt Romney co-frontrunner-of-the-month Newt Gingrich a "socialist" or worse:

Michelle Bachmann, in response to a question from Glenn Beck, "Did you just say that Newt Gingrich is a socialist?":
MB: "I'm saying a frugal socialist, yes. Because you’re looking at proposals and programs that are in effect redistribution of wealth and socialism based. And are we going to have real change in the country or are we going to have frugal socialists?"

George Will, in his December 2 Washington Post column: "Gingrich, who would have made a marvelous Marxist, believes everything is related to everything else and only he understands how".

I suspect that Gingrich won't accept the description, having recently called the Congressional Budget Office a "reactionary socialist institution", and called President Obama a "natural secular European socialist", neither in a positive way.

So let me throw this out to Anchor Rising's comments section, where folks were unafraid to call George W. Bush a socialist ("evangelical socialist" was the most interesting term that was used) before it became cool to do so during the few months when we were being told that capitalism was dead, in the wake of the orignal TARP program: Is the charge that Newt Gingrich is a socialist a debateable point, or does it stretch the term beyond meaning?

December 3, 2011

Herman Cain Withdraws From GOP Race

Patrick Laverty

Herman Cain made his announcement today that he is stepping away from his race for the Republican nomination to be the US President.

First, we have no way of knowing for sure if the many allegations against him were true. Nothing was ever proven definitively, but of course where there's smoke, there's often fire. How often do you pay someone $45,000 to keep quiet about something that they didn't do? If that happens often, let me know and I'll sure start accusing anyone that will pay me $45,000 to keep quiet. There's also the more recent allegation of a thirteen-year on-again/off-again relationship with Ginger White. This is another allegation that Cain denied but does admit to giving her money and other gifts for years.

Let me ask you this, if your spouse is giving money and gifts to an opposite gender "friend" for years, would that ever arouse suspicion in your mind? I think somewhere around the very first time it happened I'd be asking a bunch of questions. But for it to go on for almost fourteen years? Cain's wife was unaware of this friend being so needy financially? If Ginger White is such a close friend that she merits financial help from Herman Cain, then wouldn't she be a close enough friend for Gloria Cain to be aware of her?

Unless Herman Cain ever decides to come out and admit that any of the accusations were true, we'll never really know for sure.

But if any of these accusations were true, why wasn't Cain vetted better? Either he lied to people during the vetting process or he told them the truth and they thought he could get through it without this information coming up. If the latter is the kind of advice he received, then he had some really bad advisors. You can't have sexual harassment payoffs in your history or have a mistress on the side for thirteen years and it not come up at some point during the campaign. Even worse, if it does come up, you can't lie your way through it. If even the sitting President of the United States can't lie his way through a scandal ("I did not have sexual relations with that woman") then how can they figure that a candidate will be able to do so. Or, did they never expect that he'd be a front-runner for the nomination? Whichever it is, the whole situation seems pretty poorly planned out and/or advised.

On the other hand, what if not a single one of these accusations are true? What if they are complete fabrications and Herman Cain is completely telling the truth? Then it's really unfortunate that it is so easy to destroy a good candidate's campaign. Just find someone willing to do whatever it takes to destroy a candidate. We've seen something similar right here in Rhode Island.

Remember the state legislator Doug Gablinske? He had lies spread about him by then NEARI deputy executive director John Leidecker which may have cost Gablinske an election. In this case, the person spreading the lies was even convicted but sentenced to a mere $100 fine. For that very small amount, NEARI was successful in removing Gablinske from office.

Whether Herman Cain is guilty of any of the accusations against him, we may never know. But one thing we do know for sure is that politics is a dirty, dirty game.

November 14, 2011

Time for Jon Huntsman to Go Away

Carroll Andrew Morse

If anyone in the Republican Party cared about Jon Huntsman's candidacy, his would have been the biggest gaffe of the CBS/National Journal Saturday night "Commander-in-Chief" Presidential debate. Following an answer from Mitt Romney on possible World Trade Organization action against China, Huntsman said...

First of all, I don't think you can take China to the W.T.O. on currency-related issues. Second, I don't know that this country needs a trade war with China. Who does it hurt? Our small businesses in South Carolina, our exporters, our agriculture producers.

We don't need that at a time when China is about to embark on a generational position. So what should we be doing? We should be reaching out to our allies and constituencies within China. They're called the young people. They're called the internet generation. There are 500 million internet users in China, and 80 million bloggers. And they are bringing about change, the likes of which is going to take China down, while we have an opportunity to go up and win back our economic manufacturing muscles.

Got that? Huntsman thinks that China's "economic manufacturing muscles" will be degraded by its young people partaking in greater freedom of expression.

Huntsman's supporters like to explain his poor poll numbers by claiming that their candidate is too sophisticated and worldly for the Republican base: did you know he's an ex-ambassador to China and fluent in Mandarin? But no exceptional diplomatic, political or leadership skill is evidenced by a candidate who uses his time in the national spotlight to make the claim that Chinese bloggers will help take their own nation down -- a claim which bolsters the internal position of those China who believe that freedom of expression is dangerous at the expense of the young Chinese interested in its expansion.

And while Jon Huntsman's mainly ex- and non-conservative supporters may find a worldly sophistication in the kind of political candidate who cavalierly views increased freedom of expression as a limitation on economic growth, the instinct of Republican voters to disregard him was proven correct on Saturday night.

October 18, 2011

In the President's Own Words

Patrick Laverty

Anyone think the economy is turned around? If not, even Obama thinks he should be a one-term president.

In this one, it seems he left out another, more obvious option:

October 11, 2011

The Dreamy One Chris Christie Will Endorse Mitt Romney

Monique Chartier

FOX broke this a few minutes ago; h/t Fox News Radio's John Gibson.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, just one week after definitively announcing he will not run for president in the 2012 race, plans to endorse Mitt Romney for the job Tuesday afternoon, Fox News has learned.

The event is set to take place in Hanover, N.H., the site of the Republican presidential debate being held Tuesday night. The endorsement will be made in advance of the debate.

In view of Governor Christie's popularity, which has not been (fairly or unfairly) tarnished by the harsh glare of an actual presidential run, this is undeniably a significant endorsement.

Important tangent: the Republican debate, referenced above, begins at 8 pm tonight and willl focus solely on the candidates' economic plans. Supposedly, the debate, sponsored by the Washington Post and Bloomberg, can be watched on line here. The link is to a Washington Post article which previews the debate with "Five Things to watch"; presumably, a "Watch Live" link will magically appear on the page at some point before 8 pm.

UPDATE - Where to watch the debate

That Washington Post link is useless. Bloomberg TV is streaming the debate live on line. Alternately, if you have cable/satellite/dish television, the Bloomberg link has a box where you can enter your zip code to get the channel number for Bloomberg TV.

September 29, 2011

Chris Christie: Will He or Won't He?

Patrick Laverty

Ahh, the neverending presidential race. Here we are, a mere 14 months from election day and we're being told that it's too late for certain candidates to get in the race. Some have already come and gone. One elephant in the room (no pun intended) is Sarah Palin. Will she or won't she get in the race. She is clearly someone that doesn't need a lot of time to garner name recognition or get her views out there. She never really left the limelight from the last election, so there's no major rush for her to get in.

However, there is one new name to the discussion, as if the Republican debate dais wasn't big enough already. Much is being speculated about whether New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will jump into the fray. He has twice denied it himself. He has given no direct indication that he will run. In my opinion, he will. Why else would the Governor of New Jersey go to California to give a speech? In that speech, he talked up his own virtues while attacking not only President Obama's policies, but also not exactly complimenting the current Republican front-runners. It was clearly a "testing the waters" kind of outing and by most accounts, came across positive.

Now Christie is not new to negative press or controversy. First and most superficially, abcnews.com may have put a question mark at the end of their headline, but they may as well have put an exclamation point. "Chris Christie: Is New Jersey Governor Too Overweight to Become President?" C'mon ABC, at least be honest with your journalism here and try to not simply put it all on David Letterman. You are actually trying to tell people that you think Christie is too fat to be president. For whatever that means.

Christie also had a dustup where he used the state helicopter to go see a few innings of his son's high school baseball game and didn't reimburse the state. That's one that I can't really say I agree with. However, on the other hand, he did put a complaining teacher in her place when she told him

she has a master’s degree and that her current salary isn’t compensating her for the value of her higher education as well as her experience.
His response? Pure Christie gold.
“Well, you know then that you don’t have to do it.”
This is the same man who heard reports of people on New Jersey's beaches during Tropical Storm Irene and told them to
Get the hell off the beach!
That sure seemed like good advice to me.

But for all the pop quotes that he's able to offer up, he also seems able to get down to the hard work as well and make hard choices. New Jersey is facing huge budget deficits like many other states except New Jersey has one distinction that not even Rhode Islanders can claim. They are the most taxed state in the country. He called for massive cuts in services and aid and is even able to get support across the aisle in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

[NJ Senate President Stephen] Sweeney said Democrats would work with Christie on a proposed constitutional amendment to cap annual property tax increases at 2.5 percent and a series of "tools" for local governments to cut costs, mainly by reining in employee salaries, pensions and benefits.

Additionally, he can take stances that will get the conservatives in the room to stand up and nod in appreciation. At his State of the State Address, he called for the end of teacher tenure.

“Teaching can no longer be the only profession where you have no rewards for excellence and no consequences for failure to perform…The time to eliminate teacher tenure is now.”

If the country needs anything right now, it seems it needs someone who can talk tough, back up their talk but also be able to work with people on both sides of the political spectrum. Based on his tenure in New Jersey, Christie might be the guy.

We don't know yet if he will certainly run for the Republican nomination, but based on his resume and his recent overtures, I will not be surprised to see his name on a primary ballot next spring.

May 21, 2011

The First Post of an Inevitable Series

Carroll Andrew Morse

Newt Gingrich announced his candidacy for the 2012 Republican nomination for President about two weeks ago and then proceeded to alienate the entire party at record speed, even by his standards. Tim Pawlenty will formally announce his candidacy on Monday. Mitch Daniels, whose stature is at least equivalent to that of Pawlenty (read that any way you would like) has not yet announced when he might make an announcement. Thankfully, Donald Trump has taken himself out of the race, so this is the only sentence I will ever have to write about his Presidential campaign. Herman Cain, who formally announced his candidacy today, is receiving praise for his performance at the first Republican debate (yes, one has already happened). Based on that same debate, there appears to be a possibility that Gary Johnson may cut into Ron Paul’s share of the identity-libertarian vote.

Through the 2008 Republican primary cycle, I bought into the hype that said “this time is different”, and that the Republicans were going to do something different from their traditional practice of nominating “the next guy in line”. I spent some time tracking how a Rudy Guiliani/Fred Thompson dynamic might play out. And then the Republicans nominated the next guy in line (John McCain, in case you’ve already blotted his campaign out of your memory).

So, in addition to any declared candidates, until there is real evidence of non-viability or non-interest, you should keep a political-eye on the two potential candidates who best fit the description of the next [person] in line: Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, even though a conventional wisdom is forming that the Massachusetts health care mandate makes Romney unelectable in a Republican primary. Keep in mind, however, that just before the 2008 Presidential primary season started, John McCain was working as hard as he could to alienate the Republican base on the issue of immigration. Despite this, the Republicans couldn’t stop themselves from nominating the next guy in line.

From a Rhode Island perspective, two other specifics are worth noting…

  1. Mike Huckabee has announced that he is not running. Huckabee received about 20% of the vote in the RI Republican primary in 2008, albeit in an election that occurred after McCain was an almost absolute lock for the nomination, and after Romney had conceded. Still, it’s worth asking in what direction Huckabee’s 20% of primary voters will be looking.
  2. State Representative Doreen Costa is working on bringing possible Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann here to RI for a campaign visit. Could this be the start of a Bachmann boomlet, related to the above item, as Rep. Bachmann pays a visit to the state where the "first blow for freedom" of the American Revolution was struck?

UPDATE (Sunday, May 22)

The Associated Press is reporting that Mitch Daniels sent out an email to supporters last night saying he's not running.