Archive for December, 2011

Ads and 30-Minute Special Will Promote Gingrich

DES MOINES — His cash-short campaign unable to buy much advertising of its own, Newt Gingrich’s well-financed allies are coming to his rescue in Iowa, securing large chunks of airtime across the state.

Newsmax, the conservative magazine and Web site, will show a 30-minute special on Mr. Gingrich throughout the weekend in all of Iowa’s major television markets. The program is hosted by Michael Reagan, son of the former president, and makes the case that Mr. Gingrich is the strongest candidate to carry forward Ronald Reagan’s legacy.Romney Raiders

“We are featuring a person that we believe will help continue my father’s vision,” Mr. Reagan says. “A man who believes that President Obama’s vision for America is a dangerous one, and must be stopped and reversed. That person is Newt Gingrich.”

A second major player in conservative circles, Liberty University, the evangelical institution founded by Jerry Falwell, is also giving Mr. Gingrich some help in Iowa, running 30-second commercials in which Mr. Gingrich extols the virtues of a Liberty education.

Neither video explicitly endorses Mr. Gingrich as the Republican nominee, but their pro-Gingrich messages raise a host of election law questions and highlight how loopholes in the law allow politically motivated groups to influence the outcome of elections. Liberty, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, is prohibited by law from participating in campaign activities on behalf of any candidate. Newsmax, a corporate entity, is also restricted in its political activities.

Liberty is the second organization in recent weeks to advertise on Mr. Gingrich’s behalf in Iowa. Citizens United, the nonprofit that produces conservative films, has been showing old commercials featuring Mr. Gingrich, the former House speaker, and his wife, Callista, promoting a video on Ronald Reagan.

The Newsmax special is the first time in this Republican primary campaign that an entire television time slot has been dedicated to promoting a single candidate. Though campaigns have broadcast television specials promoting themselves before — President Obama did so in 2008 — it is highly unusual to see one so early in the primary calendar.

Christopher Ruddy, Newsmax Media’s chief executive, said he felt compelled to help Mr. Gingrich because the former speaker was one of only two candidates who agreed to participate in the debate Newsmax planned to host with Donald J. Trump. Mr. Trump pulled out of the debate, and Newsmax canceled it after most of the candidates balked.

“We’re very supportive of Newt,” Mr. Ruddy said Friday. “Newt never asked it, nor did we ever have to do it. But we do feel that Newt really is the conservative standard-bearer right now.”

Mr. Ruddy said the special would run 200 times over the weekend in all of the state’s major media markets, including on stations in Omaha and South Dakota that reach into parts of Iowa.

Newsmax and Mr. Ruddy have soured on Mitt Romney after endorsing him in 2008, when it called him “the Reagan candidate” on its cover.

Mr. Ruddy’s feelings now? He said Mr. Romney has been too dismissive of Newsmax, whereas Mr. Gingrich has not. “So we have a comfort level with Newt. Woody Allen says 85 percent of life is just showing up. Well, Newt shows up.”

Source: NY Times


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A defection, allegations and a floundering end to Bachmann’s challenge

Bachmann In Iowa

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann went on offence today after the defection of her Iowa chairman, Kent Sorenson, to endorse Texas Congressman Ron Paul on Wednesday night.

Bachmann pressed her allegations that the former head of her Iowa presidential bid was bribed by the campaign of rival Ron Paul to endorse him, even as one of her own aides denied the charge. “He told me that he was offered money, he was offered a lot of money by the Ron Paul campaign.”

Bachmann’s political director released a statement saying, “I won’t say much about the situation or the conflicting statements beyond this; I can say unequivocally that Kent Sorenson’s decision was, in no way financially motivated.

“His decision had more to do with the fact that the Ron Paul supporters have been something of a family to him since he was first elected in 2008 and here in the end, as it becomes more and more apparent that the caucus cycle is coming to an end, Kent believed that he needed to be with them as they stand on the cusp of a potential caucus upset.

“While I personally disagree with Kent’s decision, and plan to stay with Michele Bachmann because I truly believe in her, I cannot, in good conscious watch a good man like Kent Sorenson be attacked as a ‘sell-out’ ….That is simply not the case, and it was not the basis of his decision,” said Mr. Enos.”

Bachmann also targeted Paul for criticism on other fronts, including the Texas congressman’s calls to withdraw U.S. troops from overseas commitments and to legalize drugs as a way to better regulate their sale and reduce profits to violent drug cartels.

She termed Paul’s foreign policy “dangerous,” and said he is “willing to legalize drugs in the United States, including heroin and cocaine.”

Bachmann denied that her campaign is struggling in Iowa, where she has placed her greatest emphasis. She also said she would finish he quest to visit all of the state’s 99 counties today.

Sorenson, who was a Bachmann Iowa co-chairman before he resigned Wednesday and endorsed Paul, accused Bachmann of fabricating a story about a conversation they had before he bolted. Asked if he was offered money to leave Bachmann, he said, “absolutely not.” Rather, Sorenson cited past political support he received from Paul’s people and said he jumped over to Paul to help him beat Mitt Romney at a critical time in the race.

“I gave (Bachmann) 110 percent. I believe we’re at a time where Michele is not going to win Iowa,” he said. “I decided that it was time to come to his aid and help put him over the top.”

Sorsenson said it’s “unfortunate” that Bachmann is making these claims, but said: “I did not accept any money from the Ron Paul campaign.”

Sorenson’s former campaign manager Susan Geddes vouched for Bachmann’s assertion that money was behind the move. Geddes said on Fox News that Sorenson told her as early as March that Paul was offering him money to join the team.

Bachmann, who was set to wrap up a 99-county tour of Iowa Thursday, said the polls don’t reflect what’s happening on the ground. “We saw over and over what energized people at these stops was that Ron Paul would be dangerous,” Bachmann said. “We saw, literally, hundreds and thousands of people flipping and deciding that they were turning away from Ron Paul, and they were turning toward my campaign.”

The Hawkeye state’s 3 January gathering marks the start of the six-month period during which each US state will hold primary elections or caucuses to pick a Republican candidate, who will be officially nominated at the party convention in August.

Bachmann has put in a determined performance winning the Iowa Straw Poll early in her campaign however, with the larger financially backed campaigns asserting themselves over the course of the run in to Iowa and a down sizing of her campaign in other locations she is fighting a rearguard action with little or no hope of winning the Iowa campaign.

It is difficult to envision Bachmann staying in the race beyond Iowa or New Hampshire. A lack of finance is likely to force her out of the race sooner rather then later.

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The GOP candidates are simply failing to cut the mustard.

The Iowa Caucus is less than a week away now and the GOP has another contender surging in the polls in the shape of former Senator Rick Santorum. A CNN Poll released yesterday showed Santorum at 16 percent in Iowa, which currently would place him third with former speaker Newt Gingrich now placed fourth with 14%.GOP

Although Iowa holds considerable tradition in American presidential elections, the fact is only 119,000 voters will take part in the caucus next Tuesday. The GOP race has been in truth too topsy-turvy over the last year to seriously worry the Obama campaign machine entering into 2011.

The mainstream media has done an excellent job at picking off the declared GOP candidates one by one most recently, Newt Gingrich and by the look of things Ron Paul is likely to join the ranks of the chastised and demonised before the week end. The traditional conservative news channel Fox News has clearly being touting for Romney subtlety since Gingrich hit the front in the polls. The punditry of Dick Morris who had lent advice to Romney and his campaign is neither impartial nor objective in its content. Morris should take his famous dog “Dubs” out for a long walk if his commentary can’t be objective. He wants Romney to win that fact is clear for all to see.

Most of the GOP candidates are hoping a strong showing will propel them into top tier status and improve their chances in New Hampshire, which votes Jan. 10, and in other early voting states. Only 5 percent of Iowa’s electorate is Hispanic and only 3 percent is black, compared with a national electorate that is 16 percent Hispanic and 12 percent black. I believe this year is different, I believe due to the shifting dates in the caucus and early primary races this year, the real battle and potential winners will only emerge when Super Tuesday occurs on March 6, 2012.

The challenge for the GOP candidates is to try and raise enough finance, to stay in the race until then and hone their messaging. I believe former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman has been the cleverest politician in the GOP field, not squandering money or time on what essentially is, a tiny proportion of overall voters. He has focussed his efforts on New Hampshire, which I believe, has been the most prudent ad effective decision made by any GOP candidate to date.

It is good to see Santorum finally making a surge, he must be credited for the huge effort he has put into the state of Iowa and due to his socially conservative values, and it was a good decision strategically too. He couldn’t hope to compete with some of the other candidates financially or in terms of media coverage, he has adopted the retail politics approach holding over 350 town halls meetings and is now reaping the rewards. Santorum was the first candidate to visit all 99 counties, garnering solid support throughout the state. I like Santorum however, he will come under much more scrutiny then he has been used to up to now. Santorum is clear where he stands on Iran and traditional value’s but his economic policies and vision are less specific and detailed.

While Santorum’s rise is positive for the GOP field, Ron Paul’s high standing and foreign policy stance has to worry republicans and surely, they recognise the damage it is doing from a credibility viewpoint?

The truth about the field is that it simply isn’t dynamic enough. No candidate has stepped up to the challenge of proving themselves to be durable enough to take on President Obama in the General election. I had hoped former speaker Gingrich would’ve demonstrated some of his old fashioned fighting spirit, to fend of the attacks. He has tried to stay positive however, Gingrich, just didn’t lay the foundations required in each early state, to enable his to focus his efforts in fighting off the attacks mostly from fellow conservatives and republicans.

Romney in my view hasn’t been tested yet. Sure he’ll put up a good campaign if nominated, but can Romney really inspire? I simply don’t believe he can energise voters in the manner required to beat President Obama in 2012.

The lesson of 2011 has been that the GOP field have failed to distinguish themselves enough, so as to be identified as the natural alternative to President Obama. There has been a series of blunders, scandals, faux pas’s and favouritism evident in the GOP race thus far, which simply has left voters and supporters without the required inspiration or passion.

The result has been a Gallup poll showing President Obama getting 46 percent approval rating from American adults. This is the highest rating he has achieved since July. It is unimaginable that an incumbent president with such a disastrous economic record, polarising approach and arrogant enough, to compare himself above other brilliant presidents like Truman, Jackson & Coolridge appears on course for re-election.

Unfortunately, the cost of ignoring the president’s economic performance may prove too much, five years from now for Americans.  Surely there has to be a Republican somewhere out there prepared to step up and challenge the president who is capable of earning the confidence and support of the electorate. A disappointing end to the year for republican supporters and it is hard to see anything else but an Obama re-election come November 2012 unless there is a major shift in messaging.

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Santorum: ‘I’d Vote For Anybody Over Barack Obama’

Rick Santorum

DUBUQUE, Iowa:  If Ron Paul were the nominee, despite their completely opposing views on foreign policy — Iran in particular — Rick Santorum would vote for him over President Obama.

“I’d vote for anybody over Barack Obama, but I would have a lot of heartburn on the national security issues with Ron Paul,” Santorum told reporters after a gathering outside a coffee shop here. Yesterday, Newt Gingrich said he would not vote for the Texas congressman if he were the nominee.

Santorum believes the United States should go into Iran if there is evidence that Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon. Paul, on the other hand, has repeatedly stated that there is no proof Iran is trying to make a nuclear bomb and if Iran were able to develop the weapon, it would be prove no danger to the U.S. or Israel.

The International Atomic Agency released a report last month that stated Iran was in fact trying to develop a nuclear weapon.

Ron Paul has one of the best organizations in Iowa; he and Mitt Romney are the frontrunners in the first caucus state.

Close to 100 people came to listen to Santorum make one of his final stops before Tuesday’s caucuses. The former Pennsylvania senator, sporting a brown sweater vest and navy jacket with a Rick Santorum sticker displayed prominently, said he thinks Paul would be “the least likely to win against Barack Obama out of any of the candidates out there.”

“My objective is to win the election, and you have someone who I think the vast majority of America would disqualify as commander-in-chief of the country,” Santorum said, referring to Paul. “That makes it very, very difficult for us to be, to have him as our nominee.”

He was also asked about Michele Bachmann’s current 99-county, 11-day tour. Santorum said he “respect (s) the fact that she is trying to get around.

“But we did a courtship, we didn’t speed date,” he said, referring to his own campaign. “I mean, we went out and talked to folks and had coffee with them and talked to them and answered their questions.

“We didn’t sort of run in and say, ‘Hi, I’m great, see ya.’ I don’t think that’s what Iowans are looking for. I think Iowans are looking for someone who respects them enough to listen to them, not just talk at them.” Santorum has another event at a furniture store in Dubuque this afternoon before holding a rally in Cedar Rapids this evening.

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Bachmann does Texas two-swipe against Paul, Perry

CRESTON, Iowa (AP) — Republican Michele Bachmann did the Texas two-swipe Wednesday in her push to gain ground before next week’s presidential caucuses in Iowa.

The Minnesota congresswoman, trailing in the race for her party’s presidential nomination, went after Texas Gov. Rick Perry for “27 years as a political insider” and said Texas Rep. Ron Paul would be “dangerous as president” because of his hands-off views on national security, especially toward nuclear weapons-seeking Iran. 

The aggressive tone underscores Bachmann’s role as a chaser in the final week of campaigning. She has bet heavily on Iowa, where she was born.

Bachmann came hardest at Perry, who this week began a television ad lumping Bachmann with other Washington figures seeking the GOP nomination in his attempt to come off as the outsider in the race.

“Just because he’s held office outside of Washington, D.C., does not mean he is not a political insider. It’s what you do in your office that matters,” she said outside a small-town cafe. “There aren’t very many politicians who have spent more time paying off political donors than Gov. Rick Perry has.”

Perry has served Texas as a part-time legislator, agriculture commissioner, lieutenant governor and governor.

Bachmann also said Perry has engaged in “crony capitalism” by helping donors with Texas government contracts or giving them political appointments. And she called Perry a double-dipper for collecting his gubernatorial salary and state pension at the same time.

As for Paul, who is among the candidates leading in Iowa, Bachmann criticized him as misguided about foreign threats to U.S. interests.

“Ron Paul would be a dangerous president. He would have us ignore all of the warning signs of another brutal dictator who wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. I won’t. He would wait until one of our cities is wiped off of the map until he reacted. I won’t wait.”

On Wednesday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told CNN that he would find it personally difficult to vote for Paul if the Texas congressman were to become the party’s choice to go up against President Barack Obama next fall. Bachmann refused to go that far, dodging two direct questions about her willingness to back Paul later on. “He won’t win the nomination,” she said.

At stop after stop, Bachmann is casting herself as America’s “Iron Lady,” the nickname assigned to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Bachmann sits on the House Intelligence Committee, which she said gives her a firm grip on world affairs.

Bachmann is nearing the end of a two-week campaign sprint through Iowa’s 99 counties. She expects to hit the final three on Thursday.

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Mitt Romney takes aim at Ron Paul over Iran

Mitt Romney

Reporting from Muscatine, Iowa— Mitt Romney swatted at Ron Paul on Wednesday, a shift for the candidate who has largely ignored the Texas congressman and a possible sign at the shifting nature of the race in the state that in less than a week holds the first presidential voting contest in the nation.

During a stop at a coffee shop here on the banks of the Mississippi River, a voter asked him about America’s relationship with Israel. After arguing that President Obamahas deeply damaged relations with a nation that is a vital United States ally, Romney turned to Iran and criticized Paul’s isolationist foreign policy, though not by name.

“The greatest threat that Israel faces and frankly the greatest threat the world faces is a nuclear Iran,” he said. “One of the people running for president thinks it’s OK for Iran to have a nuclear weapon. I don’t. I don’t trust the ayatollahs. I don’t trust Ahmadinejad. I don’t trust those who backed Hamas and Hezbollah. I’m concerned that fissile material ultimately will find its way into the hands of terrorists and ultimately create mayhem in the world.”

Paul has led many recent polls in Iowa, but Romney has left him alone, with many political observers believing that if Paul does well, that hurts former House Speaker Newt Gingrich‘s bid, so it ultimately benefits Romney because Paul’s prospects beyond Iowa are dim.

But as Paul has risen in the polls, he has faced increased scrutiny, such as over newsletters published under his name that contained racist and inflammatory language. (Paul has said he did not write the words and was unaware they were printed in this publication). If such scrutiny continues, and Paul follows Gingrich’s path and falls in the polls, Romney’s shot at winning the Iowa caucuses becomes clearer.

Romney demurred when asked to speculate about the outcome of the caucuses on Tuesday, saying he didn’t want to play the expectations game.

“My expectation is to get a good start here in Iowa. I want to get a real boost from the people here and then take that across the nation,” he said in an interview with the NBC affiliate in Davenport. “I want to win, of course. Everybody wants to win.”

Romney made the remarks on the second day of a four-day swing through the state. He began the day with the early morning stop at Elly’s Tea and Coffee, where an overflow crowded filled the café and spilled outside waiting to greet the former Massachusetts governor. As is his custom, Romney aimed his fire at President Obama, and aside from the reference to Paul, he didn’t go after his GOP rivals for the nomination.

“I really need your help at the caucuses. I want you to bring friends, get neighbors and say, ‘Come with me to caucus.’ I’d love to have your help and your support,” he said. “To beat President Obama we have to have someone who has the vision for what America can be to make us stronger and more prosperous and create jobs.”

Although Romney’s public schedule was light – three events – he was doing saturation media, from the local Muscatine reporter who got to interview him on his bus to a satellite interview with CNN’sWolf Blitzer from a diner in Clinton, Iowa.

In an interview on Fox News Channel in the morning, he continued to tweak Gingrich. Last week, Gingrich failed to gather the requisite signatures to obtain a spot on Virginia’s ballot, an organizational failure that his campaign likened to the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Romney earlier in the week said a more apt comparison was to Lucille Ball‘s classic “I Love Lucy”scene in a chocolate factory, where she is overwhelmed by the candy that must be wrapped. Gingrich had bristled at the remark, saying Romney ought to say it to his face and “at least be man enough to own it.”

Romney responded that the comment was a joke.

“Well, we all make mistakes and sometimes our campaigns don’t get things done quite right,” he said on “Fox and Friends.” “It’s such a classic scene. Those of us who have gotten a little behind can identify with poor Lucy.”

“I hope the speaker understands that was humor and I’m happy to tell my humorous anecdote to him face-to-face,” he said.

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Mitt Romney tops CNN poll for Iowa

CLINTON, IowaMitt Romney has jumped to the top of a new CNN-Time poll in Iowa, putting him in the lead just six days before voters make their selection and raising expectations for a campaign that has spent the past year trying to tamp them down.

Twenty-five percent of likely caucus-goers said they would vote for the former Massachusetts governor, compared with 22 percent for Representative Ron Paul; 16 percent for former Senator Rick Santorum, of Pennsylvania; and 14 percent for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

GOPThe poll signifies a deep drop in support for Gingrich, who led the poll at 33 percent just three weeks earlier. It also shows a rapid rise for Santorum, who was at 5 percent in the previous CNN poll. The poll, which was taken Dec. 21-27, had a 4.5 percentage point margin of error.

The poll – and large crowd sizes Romney has been drawing throughout the day – indicates that he could be in a position to win Iowa, a state that has been vexing for him after he lost in 2008. He has kept the state at arm’s length this year, making few trips as his advisers downplay his chances.

“I can’t possibly allow myself to think in such optimistic terms,” Romney said, when asked whether the race would effectively be over if he won Iowa and New Hampshire. “I just have to put my head down and battle as best I can.”

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