Posts Tagged Mitt Romney
Donald Trump is showing no signs of curbing his battle with Fox News, the GOP Establishment and several presidential primary rivals, all trying to desperately gain some traction in the race against Trumps massive support with GOP Base voters.
Trump’s unconventional, insurgent campaign has excited many anti-establishment conservatives while confounding Republican Party leaders already facing the prospects of a bruising fight among 17 candidates.
The latest controversy started Thursday night when Fox News debate moderator Megyn Kelly recounted Trump’s history of incendiary comments toward women. Angry over what he considered unfair treatment at the debate, Trump told CNN on Friday night that Kelly had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” That remark cost Trump a prime-time speaking slot at the RedState Gathering, the Atlanta conference where several other presidential candidates spoke to about 1,000 conservative activists.
RedState host Erick Erickson said in a statement that Trump had violated basic standards of decency, even if his bluntness “resonates with a lot of people.” The Trump campaign retorted by calling Erickson a “total loser” who backs other “establishment losers.”
Jeb Bush, the presidential favorite for many top Republican donors, said at RedState that Trump’s bombast would hurt the GOP’s chances with women, who already tilt toward Democrats in presidential elections. “Do we want to win? Do we want to insult 53 percent of our voters?” the former Florida governor asked.
A parade of other candidates criticized Trump as well. Mike Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, seemed exasperated by it all, at one point snapping at reporters after being asked several Trump-related questions. “I’m running for president,” he said. “I’m not running for social media critic of somebody else who’s running for president.”
By Saturday evening, Trump’s campaign announced that he had fired one of his top campaign consultants. Roger Stone retorted on Twitter that he’d “fired Trump,” not the other way around. According to an email obtained by the Associated Press, Stone wrote to Trump, “The current controversies involving personalities and provocative media fights have reached such a high volume that it has distracted attention from your platform and overwhelmed your core message.”
Trump’s campaign manager said he never received that message.
Among RedState attendees, opinions varied about whether Trump should be criticized for the remark he made about Kelly. But if there was anything close to a consensus, it was that the activists still want to hear from Trump and hope that other candidates heed his rise.
“It sounds like Republicans want to cherry-pick someone as the nominee,” said Jane Sacco of New Port Richey, Florida, who was angry at Erickson’s decision to dump Trump. “And,” she added, “they want everyone to fall in line.”
The treatment of Trump by Fox News and the establishment, is not unlike the treatment of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich following his South Carolina primary win in 2012. Then Gingrich won a popular victory against the spending power of eventual GOP Nominee Mitt Romney, only for Fox News and conservative outlets to drown out the Gingrich challenge with negative stories and positive Romney coverage in the weeks that followed, dooming the Gingrich insurgency to failure.
Republican Rick Santorum, who fell short in his 2012 presidential bid, launched another run for the White House on Wednesday with a promise to restore the economic power of middle-class American workers.
Santorum, 57, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, emphasized his working-class roots as he formally opened his long-shot 2016 presidential bid near his childhood home in Cabot, in western Pennsylvania.
Looking to build support beyond the social and religious conservatives who bolstered his 2012 campaign, Santorum said “big government” and “big business” had left behind American workers.
“Today is the day we are going to begin to fight back,” he said. “As middle America’s hollowing out we can’t sit idly by. Working families don’t need another president tied to big government or big money.”
Santorum promised to eliminate the Internal Revenue Service, back a flat tax and crack down on illegal immigration that he says has robbed jobs from American workers. He also vowed to cut federal spending and revoke “every executive order and regulation that costs Americans jobs.”
In the 2012 race, Santorum won Iowa’s kickoff contest and 10 other state contests with strong support from voters drawn to his social and religious conservatism and wary of the more business-oriented Mitt Romney.
Santorum outlasted other White House hopefuls to become the last remaining challenger to Romney, who ultimately captured the 2012 Republican nomination.
Santorum, whose support has languished in the low single digits in most polls ahead of the 2016 race, faces a stronger and potentially tougher field of Republican hopefuls this time.
He is the seventh Republican to formally declare a bid for the nomination, more than a year ahead of the November 2016 presidential election, joining a group that includes U.S. Senators Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. Other Republicans expected to jump into the race include former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
Santorum will face competition for Christian conservative voters, who helped propel his 2012 bid, from former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Cruz and others, while his low poll ratings raise the possibility that he could be excluded from the early Republican debates, which begin in August.
At his launch event, Mr. Santorum pledged to restore the manufacturing industry, to create more jobs for American workers and to restore the U.S.’s global standing. Of the extremist group Islamic State, he said, “They know who I am and I know who they are,” and said as president he would defeat the group.
He also promised to shrink the size of government, saying the U.S. “doesn’t need another president tied to big government or big money.”
“I know what it’s like to be an underdog,” Santorum said, adding he managed to win 11 state nominating contests because “I stand for someone, the American worker.”
“The last race, we changed the debate. This race, with your help and God’s grace, we can change the nation,” he said.
Republican Jeb Bush’s initial foray into New Hampshire has shown that he may have learned from the mistakes his father and brother made in losing the state that will be crucial for him should he run for president in 2016.
Not that this is going to make it easier for him.
The state’s voters are notoriously fickle and want candidates to appear personally again and again to make their case. Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush, never spent the time needed and lost here in 1992. His brother, George W. Bush, had the same fate in 2000.
Keenly aware of that history, the 62-year-old Jeb Bush found himself on Friday night in the kitchen of a state politico’s home with potential supporters crowded around him, snacking on hors d’oeuvres. A battery of TV cameras recorded his every utterance.
This kind of one-on-one politicking was a different experience for the former Florida governor thus far in his exploration of a run for the Republican presidential nomination. His public appearances so far have mostly involved speeches to sizeable groups of people.
“This is kind of up close and personal,” Bush chuckled as the crowd pressed around him at the home of Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party.
“Welcome to New Hampshire,” laughed Cullen’s wife, Jenny.
If Bush is going to be successful, he will need to make many similar appearances in New Hampshire, a state whose first-in-the-nation primary is significant for him since it comes right after the first nominating contest early next year, the caucuses in Iowa, where he faces a stiff challenge.
It took 2008 Republican nominee John McCain 100 town hall meetings in New Hampshire to win over the state.
While McCain had Mitt Romney to deal with in 2008, Bush has a host of rivals led by Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor who is increasingly putting Bush in his sights.
Walker leads Bush in Reuters/Ipsos’ current five-day rolling average of polls of likely Republican voters, with 20.4 percent support to 14.9 percent for Bush.
In his New Hampshire appearances, Jeb Bush stressed his conservative beliefs in limited government and, pressed by a variety of questioners, explained why his moderate views on education and immigration fit into that.
He said he sees no need for a national increase in the minimum wage, and said he would repeal and replace Obamacare while retaining its popular parts, like the requirement that people with pre-existing health problems be granted insurance.
On his controversial support for Common Core education standards, Bush said whatever those standards are should be decided at the local, not national, level but that he would not back down from on an issue he has long prioritized.
Many Republicans at the Cullens’ home liked what they were hearing.
“Jeb is more of a centrist, and that’s important to us,” said Bob Decolfmacker of Dover.
The still-unofficial campaigns of several Republicans have assembled internal memos, research papers and detailed spreadsheets that highlight and track Walker’s shifts on positions from immigration to ethanol to abortion.
They say Walker has a broad pattern of flip-flopping that will be his greatest vulnerability.
The rush of what’s known in political campaigns as “opposition research” comes as Walker is in the midst of a swing through two early voting states. He travels next week to South Carolina after spending this weekend in New Hampshire.
Steve Duprey, a Republican national committeeman from New Hampshire who is not aligned with any candidate, said Walker is relatively unknown among voters in his state meaning the governor is subject to definition by his opponents.
“You have to be an authentic candidate,” Duprey said. “If people think you’re flipping left and right, that sticks with you.”
Walker has leapt into the top-tier of the possible 2016 Republican presidential class after earning strong reviews for early performances in Iowa and at several forums. That’s made him a target among his GOP competitors.
In the past week, aides working for other Republicans expected to run in 2016 have circulated materials that highlight Walker’s change in position on immigration, ethanol mandates, Common Core education standards, abortion and right-to-work legislation.
“The only major issue out there is immigration, and we listened to the people,” Walker told The Associated Press on Saturday during his New Hampshire tour when asked about his critics. “The other ones out there are just ridiculous.”
One campaign has a spreadsheet that outlines when Walker changed a position in comparison to 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney. The analysis found that Walker’s shifts on more than a dozen issues came an average of 15 months before the Iowa caucuses almost a year later than did Romney’s.
“Voters still don’t know the real Scott Walker,” said veteran Republican operative John Feehery, who is not aligned with any of the potential candidates. “And if he thinks he can get them to like him merely by saying things that they want to hear, he is going to run into the same problem that plagued Mitt Romney: authenticity.”
AshLee Strong, spokeswoman for Walker’s campaign-in-waiting, said each issue needs to be examined in detail to better understand his positions.
“Gov. Walker has a proven record of championing big, bold reforms in Wisconsin to limit the government and empower people,” Strong said. “It’s lazy and inaccurate to simply lump all issues into one narrative instead of actually examining the facts.”
Walker has acknowledged changing his some positions, most notably on immigration. As early as 2002, he publicly supported creating a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally. In an interview with Fox News this month, Walker said he no longer supports what he termed “amnesty.”
He defended his shift in view, saying he had done so after talking to governors of border states and voters nationwide. “My view has changed. I’m flat out saying it,” he said. “Candidates can say that. Sometimes they don’t.”
In the heat of his re-election campaign last year, Walker softened his position on abortion, saying the decision was between “a woman and her doctor” in a television ad about legislation requiring women to have pre-abortion ultrasounds.
This month, after drawing criticism from conservatives, Walker said he would sign a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Walker’s team says he has not changed his abortion stance and cites his perfect rating with Wisconsin anti-abortion groups.
As a candidate for governor in 2006, Walker was critical of the requirement that gasoline contain a certain amount of corn-based ethanol. “Mandates hurt Wisconsin’s working families,” he said at the time. “And whether they are from Washington or Madison, we as fiscal conservatives should oppose them.”
Speaking at an agriculture summit in Iowa last week, Walker said the fuel standard that requires the use of ethanol is “something he’s willing to move forward on.” His team says he still supports the gradual phase-out of the ethanol policy.
Walker’s first budget as governor supported the Common Core academic standards in 2011, but he called for their repeal last summer. During his recent re-election campaign and in the months that followed, Walker said an effort to pass right-to-work legislation in Wisconsin would be a distraction and he urged lawmakers not to address it.
Last week, after the Wisconsin Legislature did so, he signed the bill into law.
A former Republican National Committee chairman, Michael Steele, said he has heard from other Republicans about Walker’s shifts on policy positions. Steele said it is a matter that will play in the presidential primaries.
“If you’ve taken positions and done things, you’ve got to stay true to that. You cannot reframe it for a presidential race,” Steele said. “Everyone’s trying to find a way to carve these men and women up before they even get out of the gate.”
For the third consecutive year, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul grabbed a victory in the Conservative Political Action Committee’s presidential straw poll. Paul won 25.7 percent of the 3,007 votes cast, down slightly from 2014, when 2,459 total attendees gave him 31 percent of the vote. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who placed fifth in 2014’s poll, floated to a strong second place– 21.4 percent–continuing a run of successes with conservative activists that started last month at the Iowa Freedom Summit.
The days of potential presidential candidates barreling into CPAC with full campaigns, buying up blocks of tickets for straw-poll voters, are largely past. Paul, Walker, Ben Carson, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz all had street teams of various sizes; Paul was supported by Young Americans for Liberty, Carson by an unofficial draft presidential campaign. But Santorum, Walker, and Paul focused more on barnstorming events in the conference hotel than on making an obvious show of support on the convention floor.
“The constitutional conservatives of our party have spoken in a loud and clear voice today,” Paul said in a statement. ” I plan on doing my part and I hope you will join me as I continue to make the GOP a bigger, better and bolder party.”
Walker’s second-place showing at 21.4 percent represented a significant show of support among conservatives and suggested his potential candidacy will have real staying power as he seeks to remain among the front-runners for the nomination.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz came in third with 11.5 percent of a total of 3,007 who registered votes at the CPAC gathering.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, an establishment candidate who is amassing millions of dollars for a campaign should he decide to run, took fifth place with 8.3 percent of the vote, a not-unexpected showing given conservative opposition to some of his moderate stances.
Boos rang out in the audience when Bush’s tally was announced. The Bush camp made clear that he did not compete in the straw poll, which is a survey of people attending the conference.
The straw poll concluded the four-day conference at a hotel along the Potomac River, where conservatives heard from more than a dozen potential contenders for the chance to represent the Republican Party in the November 2016 election.
Walker, 47, was clearly among the most popular at the event.
But Paul had a strong showing from activists, and his victory in the straw poll marked the third year in a row in which he came out on top, dominating the event just as his father, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, had.
The CPAC straw poll, however, does not necessarily identify the next Republican presidential nominee. Mitt Romney won the straw poll in 2012 and went on to win the nomination. But the 2008 nominee, John McCain did not win the poll.
The poll also asked respondents about other issues, with 41 percent saying they would like to legalize marijuana.
Potential candidates are scrambling to sort through the rosters of campaign veterans in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire and elsewhere in a talent search that reflects the fact that the Republican field for 2016 is the largest in recent memory.
The competition, dubbed by some as a “staff primary,” aims to find the right of mix of get-out-the-vote organizers, digital experts, fund-raising stars and messaging professionals able to set up a functioning campaign.
“There is a known universe of operatives with many of them headquartered in early primary states,” said Republican strategist Kevin Madden, a senior adviser to Mitt Romney in his 2012 presidential campaign. “Right now I think the contest is focused on all the candidates trying to go after that universe of staffers.”
As many as 21 Republicans are in various stages of considering a presidential run, far more than the dozen or so who gave it a go four years ago. Of these, probably 10 or 12 are really serious and the rest are testing the waters or are trying to promote their personal brand.
Every ideological slice of the Republican spectrum is represented, from mainstream former Florida Governor Jeb Bush to Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a favorite of the small government Tea Party movement, to libertarian Kentucky Senator Rand Paul to retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
Retired surgeon Ben Carson said on Sunday that he could form a committee to explore a bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination this month and make a formal announcement in May.
‘That’s a reasonable time frame,’ Carson told Fox News Sunday when asked by host Chris Wallace about the timing of an exploratory committee and formal announcement. ‘We’re putting all that together,’
Carson is a former Fox News contributor who is popular with Tea Party conservatives and ranked fourth among possible Republican candidates in a recent Fox News poll of potential voters in Iowa. He finished behind former Florida Governor Job Bush, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
Others exploring presidential runs include New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and former Texas Governor Rick Perry.
The field is so large because there is no nominee-in-waiting as there is in the Democratic arena, where former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is widely seen as having a lock on the Democratic nomination should she choose to run. There is also a younger generation of Republican leaders eager to make their mark like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who is 47, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, 43.
Also, several Republicans have found it profitable for their careers or personal brands to flirt with a candidacy. Personalities like former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and businessman Donald Trump frequently appear at Republican events but have made no actual moves toward a candidacy.
Because of that, many Republican officials believe the actual number of people who will formally launch campaigns could be closer to the usual 10. Rubio, for example, is under pressure to run for re-election in his home state and could easily set his sights on future presidential campaigns instead of 2016.
“There’s a big difference between talking about running and actually running,” said Republican strategist Scott Reed. “Anyone can talk about running, anyone can go to New Hampshire and Iowa. There’s a very select few who actually file the papers and enter the race.”
The better-known candidates, who are seen as having a solid chance to advance beyond Iowa and New Hampshire in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, are the most likely to attract top staff talent.
Bush’s hiring of top Iowa operative David Kochel, who was a Romney backer in 2012, was a major boost to his Iowa prospects, and now other Romney loyalists in other states are listening to offers and searching for the right home.
The move by Christie to place former aide Matt Mowers as executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party gave him an early opening in the key state. Mowers left the job last month amid speculation he would join Team Christie.
Walker, who wowed conservatives at an Iowa event last month, is on a mini-surge in Iowa and New Hampshire but has yet to develop much of an organization in New Hampshire.
“He has yet to come to New Hampshire,” said Mike Dennehy, a long-time Republican campaign veteran who has signed up to work for Texas Governor Rick Perry. “He doesn’t even know anyone here.”
When candidates seek top-level talent in states like New Hampshire or Iowa, they sometimes have to sell themselves. Political operatives look for personal chemistry as well as direct access to the candidate, who also needs to demonstrate they are serious about competing in the state.
Being a top operative in an early state can be a career booster. White House press secretary Josh Earnest was the Iowa communications director for Barack Obama in his winning 2008 presidential campaign. Sara Taylor Fagen was a top Iowa staffer in George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign and wound up as a senior White House political aide.
“Each cycle produces new talent that we may not have heard from yet. One of the advantages of being in Iowa is top talent tends to be cultivated here,” said Iowa Republican strategist Tim Albrecht.
Original Source and Copyright: The Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics
Presidential stage newcomer Scott Walker, the conservative reform pit bull who inspired death threats from the left, has become the one to watch in the race for the Republican nomination a year out from the Iowa caucuses.
At 15 percentage points, he leads a big, tightly packed field of potential contenders in a new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll of likely Republican caucusgoers. The caucuses are scheduled for Feb. 1, 2016.
The Wisconsin governor is also the No. 2 most popular choice for likely caucusgoers who want an establishment candidate, and he’s the No. 2 for those who want an anti-establishment candidate, the poll shows.
“He’s in a sweet spot,” pollster J. Ann Selzer said. “People who don’t want an ultra-conservative think he’s OK. People who don’t want a moderate think he’s OK.”
Just one point behind is Rand Paul, a U.S. senator from Kentucky and the son of three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul, a hero to dissidents who want to shake up government. Paul draws support from the same anti-establishment well.
Rounding out the top tier are Mitt Romney, the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee; Mike Huckabee, the 2008 winner of the Iowa caucuses; Ben Carson, a best-selling author and famed brain surgeon; and Jeb Bush, a relative to two past presidents.
The day after polling wrapped up, Romney announced he’s out of the competition. When the numbers in this poll are shuffled by giving Romney’s votes to the contenders his supporters named as their second-choice pick, the five others in the top tier gain support.
Huckabee, a former TV commentator and two-term Arkansas governor, benefits the most, picking up 3 percentage points. The pecking order doesn’t shift, though.
For the bottom tier, the horse race ranking shifts slightly without Romney in the mix. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie moves up a notch to tie with Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz for sixth place. Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania stays in eighth. Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio climbs one spot into ninth, followed by former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is next, followed by a three-way tie among TV star and real estate developer Donald Trump, former computer company CEO Carly Fiorina and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence doesn’t register on poll respondents’ radar.
Sophisticated campaign operatives will now decide which candidate they have to topple for their candidate to rise and begin targeting them with negative information, said Katie Packer Gage, a Washington, D.C.-based strategist who was deputy campaign manager for Romney in 2012.
“This is where campaigns start to matter,” Gage said. “Huckabee will go hard after Santorum. Jeb and Christie will go to war. Cruz and Paul will figure out that they have to take Carson down, then each other.”
The poll of 402 likely Republican caucusgoers was conducted Jan. 26-29 by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
Historically, caucusgoers have rewarded those who show up in Iowa and get involved in early activist conversations. Six months after the 2012 election, Walker gave a political speech in Iowa, then shunned 2016 activities to focus on winning re-election as governor in Wisconsin in fall 2014.
Last weekend, he made his big debut as a potential presidential contender, delivering a forceful speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit that elated the audience. Extensive national media coverage billed Walker as the best of show among nine potential candidates who spoke at the summit.
“He got a big bounce,” Selzer said.
Walker’s support has jumped 11 points since the last Iowa Poll. In October, only 4 percent of likely caucusgoers named Walker as their first choice for president.
Meanwhile, Romney’s support in the Iowa horse race tumbled 4 points, from 17 percent to 13 percent.
The trinity of big establishment contenders all saw feelings toward them sour since the last poll. The percentage of likely caucusgoers who view Romney favorably slid 8 percentage points since October. Bush, the only one of the three who hasn’t yet come to Iowa since the 2012 election, dropped 4 points, and Christie 3 points.
At the same time, the favorability rating for Walker has climbed 11 percentage points; Carson, 9; Huckabee, 7; Cruz, 6; Santorum, 5; and Paul, 5, the new poll shows.
“The candidates perceived as more conservative are not only leading but are gaining,” GOP strategist Vin Weber, a former Minnesota congressman, noted after looking over the results.
Electability is secondary for these likely caucusgoers, the poll found.
Sixty percent say it’s more important to vote for the person who aligns with their values, even if that candidate isn’t electable, compared with 36 percent who say winning the White House for Republicans is more important.
A majority 51 percent of likely GOP caucusgoers, would prefer an anti-establishment candidate without a lot of ties to Washington or Wall Street who would change the way things are done and challenge conventional thinking. That compares to 43 percent who think the better leader would be a mainstream establishment candidate with executive experience who understands business and how to execute ideas, the new poll shows.
For respondents who say they want an establishment candidate, Romney is their first choice. With Romney out of the picture, Walker leads. Huckabee is next, then Bush.
The vote share is spread thinly across the 16 contenders, but with a large field, the Iowa caucuses could be won with less than 20 percent, political strategists say.
Look at the extremes in the favorability ratings for clues about what the future might hold, Gage said.
It’s bad news for Trump: 32 percent say their opinion of him is “very” unfavorable, the worst in the bunch. Christie’s number is the next worst, with 22 percent who view him very negatively, and Bush is next, at 18 percent.
In contrast, Walker has the highest percentage saying they feel “very” positively about him 32 percent. No one else tops 30 percent on that score.
“The passion is in the ‘very favorable’ and ‘very unfavorable,’ ” Gage said. “Everyone else is movable.”
About the poll
The Iowa Poll, conducted Jan. 26-29 for The Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, is based on phone interviews with 401 registered Iowa voters who say they definitely or probably will attend the 2016 Democratic caucuses and 402 registered voters who say they definitely or probably will attend the 2016 Republican caucuses.
Interviewers contacted 3,813 randomly selected active voters from the Iowa secretary of state’s voter registration list by telephone. Responses were adjusted by age, sex and congressional district to reflect all active voters in the voter registration list.
Questions based on the subsamples of 401 likely Democratic caucus attendees and 402 likely Republican caucus attendees have a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. This means that if this survey were repeated using the same questions and the same methodology, 19 times out of 20, the findings would no
t vary from the percentages shown here by more than plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. Results based on smaller samples of respondents, such as by gender or age, have a larger margin of error.