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Tag Archives: Mitt Romney

Being the chief executive of a state government is the best on-the-job training you can get for being the chief executive of the Federal government.  Many of the same elements are in play; budgetary concerns, legislative relations, muckraking opponents, the press, and a hundred other mundane challenges that the average person never hears about.

Sarah Palin had the opportunity to gain more executive experience – heck, she had the job! – and she just blew it off.  This is a problem for Palin’s fans and a boon for her detractors because Palin (to date) has given no coherent reason for her resignation.  The most likely reasons for the resignation seem to be that (1) She was unable to adequately perform the duties of her office due to the numerous (bogus) ethics complaints and attendant investigations pending and (2) She hopes to cash in on her fame by selling a book and/or giving speeches.  Unfortunately for her, Palin hasn’t personally gone on the record stating (1) and her ex-future-son-in-law has gone on the record theorizing (2).

Expanding on my theory that gubernatorial experience is the ideal training for the presidency, let’s look at Palin’s potential competition for the Republican nom in 2012:

  • Mike Huckabee served one half-term (appointed) and two full terms (elected) as governor of Arkansas. 
  • Tim Pawlenty is serving out his second term in Minnesota.
  • Haley Barbour is serving out his second term in Mississippi.
  • Mitt Romney served one full term in Massachusetts.
  • Bobby Jindal of Louisiana has less experience as governor than Palin, but by 2012 will have surpassed her.

In this sample group of sixRepublican prospects, Palin will come be the least experienced executive come 2012, and she is no longer gaining experience.  At the same time she is tied for the least legislative experience, with none.  Please, Palin backers, don’t try this at home.  Touting her mayoral experience won’t cut cheese with me.

I’ve waited this long to express an opinion on Sarah Palin’s resignation because I kept thinking that there’s more to it, that there’s a statement or revelation forthcoming that will make it all make sense.  But that isn’t happening, and if hasn’t by now, I don’t think it will.

It’s over, Sarah.  You were a longshot, but you still had a shot.  And now you’ve blown it.

That’s it, I’ve convinced myself.  Not only to the point of certainty, but so much so that I’m convinced that my certainty is certainly justified: Tim Pawlenty is going to be John McCain’s running mate in 2008.

John McCain with future vice president Tim Pawlenty

John McCain with future vice president Tim Pawlenty

Pawlenty is a conservative Evangelical Christian with a compelling “poor-boy-makes-good” story, legislative and executive experience, and a good reputation.  He’s been elected as a conservative twice in a majority-liberal state, and he’s quick with an answer and (usually) clever with a quip.  Pawlenty has been a personal friend of McCain for more than twenty years, he has been a loyal McCain supporter since the very beginning of McCain’s campaign (he was the co-chair of McCain’s exploratory committee) and he stuck with McCain even during the darkest hours of the campaign when his staff was abandoning him for Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson.

It seems that lately the chatter about potential Republican veep candidates has centered around the runner-up and second runner-up in the Republican contest, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney.  But neither man is likely to get the nod.

Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee

Despite frequent praise and compliments during the campaign, McCain isn’t going to name Mike Huckabee because Huckabee is scorned by the fiscal conservative establishment and the East Coast intellectual class.

And despite the demands of the fiscal conservative establishment, McCain isn’t going to name Mitt Romney because he already knows that Romney is a man without honor – and honor is important to McCain.  Romney is a plastic man, a man without principles, who only turned conservative in his late fifties when he began to eye the White House.  Besides, Romney wrote the book on how to waste millions of dollars while losing an election.

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney

Pawlenty will be a darling of conservative Christians and he can pick up many of the Southern voters who would otherwise have voted for Huckabee.  Pawlenty came from humble roots (unlike Romney) to put himself through college and law school (unlike Romney) and has legislative experience (unlike Romney).  Like Romney, Pawlenty ran for governor in a liberal state and won, but he did it by campaigning as a conservative (unlike Romney).

It would be a great public relations gift for McCain to announce Pawlenty as his running mate at the national convention in St Paul – the capital of the state that Pawlenty has been governing since 2002; the networks would have a irresistible opportunity to fawn over a new name and a fresh face in an adoring environment.

If you happened to watch McCain on Jay Leno’s show on August 25, you saw him praise Pawlenty (when Leno asked specifically about Pawlenty) by calling him a great governor with whom he has ideals and principles in common.

Final clue that McCain plans to pick Pawlenty: Pawlenty has already been designated as a featured speaker on the final day of the Republican convention.  Seriously, John McCain, this is no way to keep a secret!

Here’s a rundown of some possible Republican vice presidential candidates and why they won’t be picked.  Bear in mind that this article doesn’t represent a prediction, but an analysis.  Prospects are named in alphabetical order:

Charlie Crist – Because of the slick metrosexual image he projects, Crist won’t appeal to a large portion of the meat-and-potatoes Republican crowd.  The too-tan skin, the snow-white hair and the waxed eyebrows are just too much for most regular guys, even if they do appeal to some fractional portion of the female conservative electorate.

Mike Huckabee – So many religious conservatives are demanding that Huckabee be added to the ticket, it just might provoke McCain’s contrarian nature into giving Huck the old heave-ho.  There’s also the concern that having two gaffe-prone white guys on the ticket is too risky in the age of the modern media, where every mistake and mispronunciation is published on a million blogs and websites within hours.  Huckabee has a fantastic future ahead of him, but it may not include the senior Senator from Arizona.

Kay Bailey Hutchison – Hutchison is no spring chicken at 65 years old, and she has said publicly that she doesn’t even want the job – she’d rather be governor of Texas.  There’s also the little nitpicky fact that Hutchison is a centrist Republican, as is McCain.  So this would be a moderate-moderate ticket, not likely to appeal to the conservative base.

Bobby Jindal – Though Jindal’s conservatism is manifested in very practical ways (i.e. opposition to corruption, reform of Louisiana’s state government), his devout Catholicism and his youth can be used against him.  Critics will draw attention to what they see as a quaint and backward perspective on the world, and they will point out that at age 37 he is younger and less experienced that Barack Obama.

Joe Lieberman – Despite McCain’s close friendship with Lieberman, this is a mistake that must never be made.  Lieberman is a liberal hawk, which is exactly how  many conservatives see McCain.  The Lieberman option would be a disaster for McCain’s candidacy and for the Republican party, and Senator McCain is smart enough to know that.

Tim Pawlenty – Like John McCain, Pawlenty is a very intelligent and very glib individual who sometimes makes off-the-cuff remarks that he later regrets.  Pawlenty is in some respects a younger version of McCain, and despite their mutual admiration, the two don’t make a complementary pairing.

David Petraeus – A McCain-Petraeus ticket would be an all-military ticket (remember that McCain was a naval officer), and though most conservatives would love it, at the same time it would give many Americans the willies.  In this case, the upside is the downside.  Besides, not enough is known about Petraeus’s views on moral and political matters.

Rob Portman – Portman is just the sort of wonky politico-type whose expertise would compensate for McCain’s non-detail-oriented approach to politics.  Portman’s experience is extensive and varied, his resume dazzling.  But the campaign might have a hard time selling this former member of the Bush administration to the American public, and anyway, he’s believed to have his eye on the Ohio governor’s mansion.

Condoleeza Rice – Though some may consider it a coup for McCain to have a black woman for his running mate, Rice is probably too closely associated with George W. Bush to help McCain win any significant portion of the black vote.  Besides, Ms. Rice has repeatedly and adamantly stated that she has absolutely no desire to be anyone’s vice president.  After nearly eight years of working in the White House, Rice is believed to be yearning for the quiet academic environment of her beloved Stanford University.

Tom Ridge – Ridge certainly has the homeland security chops and serious demeanor to head up the anti-terrorism front of a presidential campaign (or adminstration), but he’s old and white and boring.  Ridge won’t dazzle the younger voters and he won’t win over the swing voters.  He’s better suited to a role in the cabinet than to one on the campaign trail.

Mitt Romney – If McCain is looking for someone to perform as a surrogate campaigner, he’d better look elsewhere.  No one has ever spent so much money to perform so dismally on the campaign trail and at the polls as Romney in the Republican primaries.  Romney can occasionally put together a few good minutes on the campaign trail, but he’s too surly and too obnoxious – and too ambitious – to be an effective running mate.  Romney is also a pathological flip-flopper, and that means that he isn’t to be trusted.

Mark Sanford – Sanford is a youthful and appealing party loyalist, an ideological conservative, and a good public speaker.  Sanford might be an effective campaigner among the southern conservative set; those who want their politicians to be like their pastors: true believers.  The evangelical community is leery of McCain’s conservative creds, and it may be that Sanford can seal the South for McCain.  Unfortunately for Sanford, he’s a southern white man, and if McCain wanted one of those he would probably pick his friend Mike Huckabee.

Michael Steele – The Republicans would love to have a conservative black leader step up to the plate, and Michael Steele’s name has frequently been mentioned in that context.  Unfortunately, it seems to this commentator that Steele’s reputation exceeds him.  His supposedly great oratorical skills are dwarfed by those of such stalwarts as Allan Keyes and Mike Huckabee, and his career seems to be stalled somewhere between minor state office and the major national stage.

John Thune – The future of the Republican party resides in people like Thune, a regular looking guy who can appeal to Southern conservatives, midwestern evangelicals, and western libertarians alike.  His resume isn’t as thin as some would suggest, with three terms as a member of the US House of Representatives and one term as a US Senator, but he is still rather young and Republicans do prefer their politicians to be rather more seasoned.  More importantly from the strategic standpoint, Thune is from South Dakota, a state with only three electoral votes.  And his profile is very low even in neighboring states, so he brings very little to the table electorally.

Have I missed anyone?  Please let me know with a comment if there’s anyone else whose resume you would like me to shred.

Mike Huckabee has his work cut out for him. 

With Mitt Romney’s departure from the contest for the Republican nomination for the presidency, the only remaining (serious) competition for John McCain is going to be Mike Huckabee.  So what does Huckabee do now?  The first thing Huckabee has to do is make it clear that he isn’t following Romney out the door.  There are still a number of Southern and Midwestern states in which he can be competitive, and his support is bound to increase with Romney’s former supporters shopping for a new candidate to support.

This brings me to the second thing Huckabee must do, and that’s to consolidate these confused Romney supporters in his camp.  Most Romney people are going to feel betrayed and be stunned and may take a while to contemplate which candidate to support now.  A good many of them – the anybody-but-McCain crowd – will probably opt for Huckabee as a protest against McCain’s seeming inevitability.  An even larger subgroup of Romney’s supporters are those who never disliked Huckabee as much as Romney wanted them to, and they’ll move to Huck as their natural second choice.  There’s also a subgroup of former Huckabee supporters who abandoned Huckabee when he lost in South Carolina.  Huckabee can hope that this group will return to him, but the fact is they left him once because he was looking like an underdog…and he’s still the underdog even with Romney gone.

The third thing Huckabee needs to do is start raising money.  I don’t mean one or two good days, and I’m not talking about raising $250,000 in one day, which up until now would have been considered a banner day for Huckabee.  He needs to persuade some of the big-money Romney backers to start making the same $2300 maximum contributions to his campaign that they so willingly gave to Romney back in 2007.  And he absolutely has to get the grassroots growing again – the real strength of politics is found when thousands and thousands of ordinary people give $20 each week or each month.

There’s going to be a strong media movement to crown McCain as the inevitable winner of the party’s endorsement now that Romney is out.  While winning the party’s nod outright seems like a longshot, Huckabee has been a longshot ever since he declared for the presidency.  He isn’t going to back down just because the pundits say he can’t win.  So the fourth and final step that Huckabee has to take is to begin winning at least half of the states from here on out.  As long as he can match McCain state for state beginning now, he should be able to prevent McCain from winning outright before the convention.  That’s when the deals start being made and surprises start happening.

Well it must mean something.  In politics, nobody ever wins or loses without meaning, do they?  So here’s what I think about the Republican side of the contest for the presidency.

John McCain had a good night.  He won about half of the states in play, and the remainder are split between his opponents.  Still, he hasn’t put it away, and that’s what frontrunners do.  The fact is that if the Huckabee and Romney votes were united (which may or may not have been possible), McCain would be in an even race.  In the most conservative states to vote today – the Deep South – he lost to Huckabee, whose votes were sapped (to borrow a term) by Romney.

So what does this mean for McCain?  It means that he isn’t winning; until he puts away Romney and particularly Huckabee, he’s only leading.

Mitt Romney, formerly the “conservative alternative” and fomentor of the “Huckabee should drop out and let Romney assume his votes” whispering campaign, has suffered a cruel blow.  His finances are trashed, his reputation is damaged, and his momentum is dead.  The cable news commentators are eager to sign the Romney campaign’s death certificate.

What does it all mean for Romney?  It means that he now has to make the same uphill march that Huckabee has been making since South Carolina, with public perception, the other candidates, and the news media aligned against him.  The guess from Righty Loosey is that he doesn’t have the temperment to keep on, and his big fade began today.

Mike Huckabee only won five states today, but he only had remote hopes of competing in six.  In other words, Huckabee batted 5 for 6 in the states to which he devoted his resources.  And suddenly, he has momentum.  At this moment, as I write, he’s being coronated by the media elite as the second man in the new two-man-race.

What does it all mean for Huckabee?  It means that crunch time starts now.  Conservative Kansas votes on Saturday.  Southern states yet to vote are Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas (which is an enormous bonanza of delegates), and Virginia.  He can reasonably expect to do well in a few other states.  But winning all these states without breaking through in the rest of the country will only get him a respectable second or third place finish.  Huckabee needs to break out

Conclusion: I’ve made no secret of the fact that I detest Mitt Romney, and I’ll admit to you now that I find the events of this day thrilling.  I’m a Huckabee guy, and I think McCain is just okay.  So my bias is out in the open.  That said, I think John McCain is still the obvious frontrunner, but his big lead may be deceptive and he may yet lose.  I think that Romney’s campaign is in its death throes because his money and his credibility are running out.  And I think that Mike Huckabee will never have a better opportunity to make hay.  He needs to rake in all the money he can and run like a madman.  Last of all, I think there’s never been a more fun, interesting Republican contest in my lifetime, and that’s something to savor.

As Mitt Romney attacks Bob Dole (“He’s the last person I would want to write a letter for me…”) and as his surrogates complain about his loss to a coalition of McCain and Huckabee supporters in West Virginia today, Mike Huckabee is gaining on him both in the polls and on the ground.

Fox News reports the following:

Back on his home turf of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee counter-punched Mitt Romney on his ” no whining” comment after Huckabee accused him of “voter suppression”. The contentious squabble initiated after Romney, while on  FNC’s Hannity and Colmes equated a Huckabee vote, essentially, to a wasted vote for McCain.

“I’m hoping he’ll live up to that because he’s the one that everytime, he’s spends millions of bucks on John McCain, or me then we push back then he just jumps up and down and screams and hollars and says ‘oh its a personal attack, its a personal attack.’ This is running for the presidency, this ain’t bean bag.”

It must be really hard to run for president.  Lots of people you don’t know are saying unkind things about you, commercials on national TV exploit your past mistakes for someone else’s political gain, and if you aren’t careful, you can begin to associate your self-worth with your performance in the world’s most important popularity contest.  I have some sympathy for Romney (not a lot) as he surveys his current situation.  He’s spent nearly $90 million to get about 25% of the vote, his campaign is $35 million in debt, and his main conservative rival (Mike Huckabee) has spent only $8 million to get 20% of the vote.

Under the circumstances it’s probably natural to want to lash out.  But as Romney said a couple of days ago, “there’s no whining in politics.”  Suck it up, Mitt.

In a two-ballot squeaker, Mike Huckabee has pipped Mitt Romney as the Republican winner in West Virginia.

Here’s how it happened:

In the first round of voting Mitt Romney had a 41% plurality, which gave him the lead over Mike Huckabee with 33% and John McCain with 16%.  The McCain people know that Romney is a man without honor, and they also know that it’s to McCain’s strategic advantage for Huckabee to outperform Romney today.  So most of them threw their support behind Huckabee.  In the second round of voting, Huckabee prevailed with a 52% majority compared to Romney’s 47% and McCain’s residual 1%.

No whining now, Mitt Romney!

Mitt Romney today released a statement urging the New York Giants to withdraw from the Super Bowl so that the New England Patriots can be assured of an undefeated championship season.

 Willard Mitt Romney

The statement reads: “As most people know, the NFL Championship will be determined today by a contest between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants.  While this championship game will include both teams, there can be no question that the Patriots are actually more deserving of the win.  Since everyone knows that the sporting thing for the Giants to do would be to drop out of this contest and allow the Patriots a guaranteed win, and everybody knows this is true and wants the Giants to drop out of the game, I am officially not taking a position today.  The Giants should do whatever makes them happy; they have a perfect right to stay in the game for as long as they want.  They can even try to win it.  I have no problem with the Giants playing in this game today in Arizona, and I have no opinion about whether they should forfeit, which everybody knows they should do, but I want them to do whatever makes them happiest.  As long as they know that they can’t win and they shouldn’t even be trying.”

I won’t pretend that I don’t have a favorite; if you’ve been reading my bloggerations, you know who I’ve endorsed.  This article is a look at the relevant attributes of the remaining presidential candidates of both parties, as I see them.

Democrats first:

  • Barak Obama has a tendency to be pompous and windy, but people don’t seem to mind…yet.  When properly directed Obama can be a charismatic script reader, but when left to improvise (as in a debate) he inserts long undramatic pauses…and…torturous…moments where…for some reason…he can’t…seem to decide…to determine…to assess…to decide what exactly he wants to express, or convey, or to to tutu communicate.  You get the idea.  Obama’s camp has cultivated the popular image of a genius wonderkid, almost – but not quite – too good to be true.  He appears to be an amazingly bright, worldly, charming, refined, incredibly handsome, absolutely idealistic-and-yet-pragmatic family man (with a beautiful family, to boot).  The image doesn’t hold up all that well under scrutiny, although there doesn’t seem to be much of a compulsion on the part of the press to scrutinize it at this time.  What one can say of Obama with some certainly is that he is smart, he is savvy, and that on the scale of idealistic-to-cynical he is far more idealistic than his main competitor, Hillary Clinton.
  • Hillary Clinton is the old pro, smart and experienced…and cynical.  Hillary is used to the harsh glare of the spotlight, and has long since made peace with the indignity of the profession.  Her attitude is professional, and she shows up prepared for every appearance and every interview.  But all this comes at a price, and that price is the death of idealism.  Hillary doesn’t seem to be the thin-skinned, contemptuous rager that she (allegedly) was back in ’93 when her husband first took office, but she isn’t the same energetic ball of fire, either.  What drives her now?  It must be ambition, otherwise it can only be described as an unexplained compulsion – and that would suggest that some therapy is in order.
  • Mike Gravel?  What can one say about Mike Gravel?  Most of us don’t even know anything about Gravel!  He had a real political career in the ’60s and ’70s, but it ended badly when he lost a re-election campaign for his seat in the US Senate.  After years of retirement, he declared for president on a lark in 2007.  Gravel has a sense of humor (positive), but his experience in politics is mainly on the legislative side (negative).  Gravel is old, and not in the endearing way that Reagan was or in the gritty way that John McCain is; he’s just old.  He looks old, he acts tired, and at this point in his life he doesn’t seem to have much drive or imagination.

And now the Republicans:

  • John McCain is about as unconventional a politician as one can be, and yet he has the establishment backed into a corner.  That’s not an accident; it’s the result of his drive to accomplish and his unexceeded patience.  McCain has a well-earned reputation for being a loose cannon and a bully.  On the positive side, McCain has political capital that can only be earned the hard way, and I’m not just talking about his five and a half years as a tortured and disfigured prisoner of war in North Vietnam.  I’m also talking about seven years of sucking up his disappointment at losing to George W Bush in 2000.  McCain not only put the episide behind him, he campaigned enthusiastically for Bush in 2004, and for other Republicans across America in other years since.  The “straight talker” reputation McCain has among the media isn’t an illusion; he really is a loudmouth, and that can work for him or against him, depending on the circumstance and how much sleep he’s been getting.  McCain is tough, both mentally and by reputation, and the press loves him.
  • Mike Huckabee, the record shows, is a brilliantly intelligent man with great personal charisma and a gift for speaking.  How does this make him different from Jimmy Carter?  Actually, that isn’t my question; it’s Mitt Romney’s, and that question is a simple yet brilliant strategy for defeating a candidate whose single greatest weakness seems to be that the wrong people are supporting him.  It’s true, Huckabee is popular among Evangelical Christians in America.  And it’s also true that Evangelicals are viewed with contempt by much of America.  What’s been surprising is how many of the people who view Evangelicals contemptuously are members of the Republican party.  Back on topic, Huckabee does have one other significant flaw, and that’s his penchant for speaking extempraneously.  Huckabee, unlike most politicians, can speak at length and with great specificity on a variety of subjects, without notes.  Unfortunately, in those circumstances he has so far shown a tendency to say things that reflect poorly on him – only on rare occasions, but often enough for some people to think he’s a half-wit.
  • Mitt Romney is both the beneficiary and the victim of his own background.  The same things that make him a formidable political foe – his looks and his polish and his money – are at least partially a heritage from his famous father George Romney, a three-term governor of Michigan and briefly a candidate for president in 1968.  Romney has a tendency to come off stiff and awkward when speaking extemporaneously, but when properly prepared he makes a very attractive candidate.  Couple his deceptively youthful good looks with some polish and good preparation, and it isn’t difficult to imagine Mitt Romney running successfully, up to a point.  One negative that I cannot fail to mention is his willingness to give his approval to strategies and advertisements that deceive, but Romney isn’t facing any evident scrutiny on the subject, and that makes the issue almost irrelevant.  Romney’s Mormon faith also is a non-issue to most Americans, and it is to me as well.

According to Joy Lin of CBS News:

Joy Lin of CBS

On morning talk television yesterday, Mike Huckabee called Mitt Romney a “man who didn’t hit political puberty in the Conservative ranks until he was sixty years old.”

Asked to explain the comment today at a press conference, Huckabee described his opponent as a Johnny-come-lately to issues central to the Republican Party. Huckabee landed in the area after 4am and was up and dressed by 7:30 to deliver a speech at a rally. Despite having had only about two hours of sleep under his belt, Huckabee gave a detailed, blow-by-blow account of why Romney wasn’t fit to be the nominee.

“On the second amendment – [Romney] supported Brady, he supported an assault weapon ban and still does. So if he says to anybody he’s a second amendment supporter, anybody who’s a true second amendment supporter knows if you support Brady and assault weapon ban, you’re not a second amendment supporter.”

“Secondly,” Huckabee continued, in an aggressive attack that eclipsed the last time he went negative (Iowa), “He was very pro choice, supported strong positions for same sex relationships, said on television that he would do more for the gay/lesbian agenda than Ted Kennedy. That’s pretty bold. He said he was not a part of the Reagan Revolution, said he was not a part of that Reagan/Bush thing — that’s on camera, that’s not something I’m making up.”

“Said he marched with Martin Luther King but he didn’t, said he saw his father march with Martin Luther King but he didn’t. Claimed that he was in law school when his church reversed its doctrine on African Americans, turned out he had been out of law school for three years – on the issue of even taxes, he said he never raised taxes but he did raise fees by $700 million.”

Not letting up, Huckabee concluded, “I just think you can’t just have a change of opinion on fundamental issues over and over and wait until you’re running for President to do it. “To say that you’ve never thought about the origins of human life until you were nearly 60 years old — I find that hard to believe even for somebody who hasn’t run for office before, but certainly for somebody who had.”

It’s about time Huckabee put the whack on Willard Mitt Romney.  From Romney’s deceptive statements about Huckabee’s record as governor of Arkansas to his smirks and eye-rolls when Huckabee has the floor during their debates to the more recent calls by Romney’s campaign for Huckabee to give up, drop out, and get out of Mitt’s way…Romney’s been asking for this.