Posts Tagged ‘Iowa’
September 15th, 2014 at 7:02 pm
Harkin Lashes Hillary to ObamaCare

In what some observers presume is an early sign of a presidential run, over the weekend Hillary Clinton spoke at a high-profile political event for Iowa’s retiring Democratic U.S. Senator Tom Harkin.

Though Clinton had her own gaffe, the biggest surprise was how much credit Harkin heaped on her for passing ObamaCare – even though she wasn’t even in Congress!

“One of the things she always worked on was advancing this concept, this idea that health care should be a right and not a privilege in this country,” said Harkin. “So, Hillary was not there when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, she was of course secretary of state, but I want you all to know that her fingerprints are all over that legislation. It would not have happened without her strenuous advocacy in that committee all those years.”

Any hopes Clinton had of distancing herself from a law that only gets more unpopular is gone. All opponents have to do is show her smiling behind a gushing Harkin to make the connection.

Don’t like ObamaCare? Blame HRC.

No conservative could have said it better.

December 29th, 2011 at 12:10 pm
Can Santorum Continue Into NH and SC?

In one of a spate of stories today about Rick Santorum’s surge in Iowa, Byron York notes in print the same potential drawback I’ve been hearing from all across the conservative spectrum:

A number of commentators have observed that even if Santorum flies high in Iowa, he faces trouble ahead.  That is true.  In the RealClearPolitics average of polls in New Hampshire, Santorum is in sixth place, with 3.8 percent of voters.  In the same average of polls in South Carolina, he is in seventh place, with 2.7 percent.  So yes, a Santorum surge could be short-lived.  But his answer would likely be: First things first; do well in Iowa and see what happens then.

The answer to that is that Santorum actually has done a lot of the same, or at least very similar, nuts-and-bolts organizing work in those next two states as he did in Iowa. In South Carolina, for example, where well-liked conservative former U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett is Santorum’s state chair, Santorum has county organizations in 42 of the 46 counties — by far the most of any candidate (according to the Santorum campaign), with Gingrich reportedly in second with 33 counties organized. And in NH, according to the Santorum campaign, the Pennsylvanian has more “endorsements” than any candidate other than Romney.

If this campaign has shown anything thus far, it is that the electorate is very volatile and that support for a single candidate can double, triple, quadruple, even quintuple in the matter of just a few weeks. It happened for Cain, Bachmann, Perry, and Gingrich. Is there any doubt that if Santorum does really well in Iowa, his “flavor of the month” status could quickly boost him elsewhere?

Finally, as I was writing this, Fox News just reported that Rasmussen is out with a new poll that confirms the CNN poll: Santorum in third, with 16 percent….

December 28th, 2011 at 3:22 pm
Romney Win in Iowa Would Be a Surprise Too

At CFIF, we’ve spent some time arguing that Rick Santorum could produce a surprise win in next week’s Iowa caucuses.  Ron Paul continues to top the leader board in the Hawkeye State, rising to a level of support that most consider surprising.  But with news that a Super PAC is switching its support from Michele Bachmann to Mitt Romney, and spending almost $500,000 on an ad-buy for him, it looks increasingly likely that the former Massachusetts governor could be the biggest surprise winner in Iowa.  Why?  Because his campaign took a decidedly hands-off approach to Iowa for much of 2011, preferring to focus its efforts – and locate its headquarters – in New Hampshire.  Now, Romney is peaking at just the right moment.

It’s probably true that there are really three GOP contests in Iowa right now.  Ron Paul’s libertarian caucus, the establishment caucus between Newt Gingrich and Romney, and the conservative caucus between Santorum, Bachmann, and Rick Perry.  Unless Paul wins both Iowa and New Hampshire, he’s likely done after next week’s voting.  (But what if he did win both?)  A Romney win in Iowa probably knocks out Gingrich, with whomever survives to win the conservative caucus having an uphill climb against a strengthened Romney.

Because of his record and light campaigning in the state, Romney wasn’t supposed to win Iowa.  If he does, his march to the nomination may be a short one.

December 27th, 2011 at 4:20 pm
Santorum Surge Chic

Now the stories about a potential Santorum Surge in Iowa are coming more and more rapidly, with Stacy McCain at the American Spectator (who has been tracking and praising Santorum for weeks) reporting in today, as does John McCormack at The Weekly Standard. This comes after both Dick Morris and Mike Huckabee (along with Cokie Roberts from the center-left) said that Santorum is the one to watch.

It reminds me of our discussion several weeks ago (meaning me, Ashton, and Troy) in which I said just this sort of thing could happen: “[I]n all his winning races, Santorum closed fast right at the end. He’s trying to do the same thing here, without much campaign cash but with plenty of hard work. It may look like a long shot, but only a fool would completely write off his chances.”

Will his surge be big enough or soon enough? We’ll see a week from now. But he, not Rick Perry, may be the Rick to watch, with a real chance to win, as the nomination fight moves forward after Iowa.

December 9th, 2011 at 5:00 pm
Perry, Bachmann Bow Out; Only Santorum and Newt at Debate with Trump

It is not necessary, but oh so fitting that the week ends with news that GOP presidential candidates Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann will not be attending the December 27th debate “moderated” by Donald Trump in Des Moines, IA.  After a spirited exchange with Quin and Troy, I’m glad to see my musings about a Lincoln-Douglas style debate between Gingrich and Santorum taking a turn toward reality.  With other candidates Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Jon Huntsman already declining – and Herman Cain out of the race – that leaves Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich as the only participants in what could be a decisive event one week before Iowa Republicans caucus to pick a presidential nominee.

Perhaps the twists and turns in this wacky pre-primary season aren’t done just yet.  Next up: Santorum publicly challenging Newt to a one-on-one debate over the past, present, and future of America.  Something tells me it’s the kind of challenge a ‘world historical figure’ like Gingrich won’t pass up.

December 6th, 2011 at 2:42 pm
Re: Santorum

I hope Troy, Tim, and whomever else will weigh in on this, too, and that Ashton will have more thoughts as well, about Ashton’s excellent questions about Santorum’s viability.

The deal is this: Santorum, first, has indeed been creeping up the polls in Iowa, and earning several key local endorsements. But he can’t get a big break or make a big move, it seems. All along he’s been doing the kind of painstaking grassroots work that sets the predicate for victory but that doesn’t itself achieve victory UNLESS a spark is lit. It’s like patiently gathering firewood, of all kinds, from tiny kindling to great big logs, and building a spectacular would-be fire — but not yet having a match, or even any flint, or even a magnifying glass to concentrate the sun’s rays to set the whole thing ablaze. The man has an incredibly well-constructed organization in Iowa, but it needs to be lit on fire.

Part of his problem is that he has received so little chance in the debates to make an impression. I’ve actually counted the number of times in several debates that each candidate was allowed to speak, and Santorum comes out on the bottom every time. The moderators have just given him short shrift.

Second, while he has been almost universally praised for his knowledge and his articulation of issues in the debates, he hasn’t been praised for style points. He has come across as the ace high school debater outpointing everybody on stage, but not out-charming everybody. He seems a striver endlesslessly trying to prove himself, rather than somebody who exudes a particularly executive authority of the sort of person who just expects his right to lead to be taken for granted.

Third, he has the tag of a loser. It’s crazy, but it’s there. He lost his last race by 18 points. Never mind that Gingrich oversaw the loss of House seats in what should have been a year for big GOP victories in 1998, nor that Gingrich poisoned the well so badly in 1996 that no GOP candidate for president was going to win. Never mind that if Romney had had the guts, as Santorum did, to run for re-election in 2006, he would have lost by about the same margin. Never mind that Santorum still outpolled the GOP candidate for governor in Pennsylvania that year, and most GOP candidates for the House in their respective districts, nor that he was running in the worst GOP year (other than Watergate) in 3/4 of a century, nor that his opponent was the namesake son of the most popular Pennsylvania governor in 70 years, nor that registered Dems outnumbered Repubs in PA by a cool million people. Never mind that Santorum won in a big upset in 1990, that he beat another incumbent in 1992 (dedistricted into the same space), that he won a big upset for the Senate in 1994, or that he won another upset for re-election to the Senate in 2000, holding his seat by five points as GW Bush lost the state by four points. Somehow, none of that matters: He’s a loser, dontcha know, because, well, he lost one race. Crazy.

But in all his winning races, Santorum closed fast right at the end. He’s trying to do the same thing here, without much campaign cash but with plenty of hard work. It may look like a long shot, but only a fool would completely write off his chances.

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December 6th, 2011 at 12:43 pm
Romney, Gingrich and…Santorum?

Though there are many positive things to say about Rick Santorum’s candidacy – battle-tested conservative on national security, welfare reform and foundational issues like family and marriage – he has yet to catch anything resembling a break while seemingly every other Republican running for president has (witness the regrettable Jon Huntsman ticking up in New Hampshire).

Unlike frontrunners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum has no personal baggage, and has not flip-flopped on any principled issue since entering public life twenty years ago.  As we’ve discussed before, Santorum has great ideas on personal and corporate tax reform that would lead to real economic growth.  So, with the base refusing to support Mitt Romney and others skittish of Newt Gingrich’s past and future, why can’t Rick get a break?  Is it media bias over his stance on social issues?  Bad debate performances?  Does he lack contacts with big donors?

Byron York has written several pieces anticipating an Iowa surge for Santorum, but so far…nothing.


December 2nd, 2011 at 6:11 pm
Trump to Moderate GOP Debate in Iowa

Earlier today Newsmax invited the main Republican candidates to a December 27th debate in Des Moines, IA.  One catch: it will be moderated by Donald Trump.  Somehow a “moderate” Donald Trump doesn’t seem possible.

In a way it’s fitting that Trump, erstwhile Republican presidential candidate, will be preside over what may be the final GOP debate before the January 3, 2012 Iowa caucuses.  Trump started the anti-Romney conservative popularity surges that later carried Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain and now Newt Gingrich to prominence.

But for all his popularity, the choice of Trump is a bit curious since he’s recently admitted to thinking about running for president again – this time on a third party ticket.  While the venue and media exposure may preclude candidates from staying away, I would be wary of taking questions from a guy who could use his moderator’s role to pin down potential rivals.

November 22nd, 2011 at 7:27 pm
Huckabee Endorses Romney, Tells Tea Party To Do the Same

In a head-scratching move, Mike Huckabee told South Carolina Tea Partiers that it’s time to support Mitt Romney for president.  How’s this for emphasis:

“I think Republicans and conservatives and the Tea Party need to get behind him and say, ‘You may not be our first choice, but between you and Obama, I’ll vote 40 times to get you elected,” Huckabee said.

The biggest loser with the socially conservative Huckabee’s endorsement of the socially moderate Romney is GOP candidate Rick Santorum.  Pundit chatter pegged Santorum as the beneficiary of the anti-Romney social conservatives in Iowa, but current poll numbers show Santorum still trailing badly.  There’s still time for him to make a move, but Huckabee’s endorsement of Romney just cut it in half.

August 8th, 2011 at 6:46 pm
Huntsman Charting McCain Path Without the Record

The Washington Examiner reports that GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman is trying to retrace the steps Senator John McCain (R-AZ) took to the 2008 nomination.  Citing his moderate stances on just about everything, Huntsman and his advisors (many former McCain hands) avoiding the conservative-dominated Iowa caucuses and hoping for “a good showing” in the New Hampshire primary.  Thereafter Huntsman hopes to win the South Carolina and Florida primaries with a pure economic message.

What a riot.  McCain was the undisputed national security candidate last time around, and was able to paper over many of his moderate-to-liberal heresies with a compelling military background.  By contrast, Huntsman has been a well-connected ambassador to the Far East (China and Singapore), and has never served in uniform, let alone suffered torture.  Moreover, McCain won the New Hampshire primary by 6 percentage points over Romney.  Alternatively, Huntsman wants a “good showing”?  Hopefully, that’s more than the 1.8 percent he’s polling nationally, or else he won’t make it to South Carolina.

The truth about the Huntsman campaign is that it features a candidate in search of a constituency.  Anyone in the Republican Party who is repelled by the Tea Party and trusts Wall Street more than Main Street is already voting for Mitt Romney.  Huntsman is a slightly different version of the same formula.

If history is any guide, the GOP tends to give the presidential nomination to the next guy in line.  In 2008 it was John McCain.  In 2012, it will be Mitt Romney.  Only a big name with big money like Texas Governor Rick Perry or Michelle Bachmann seems poised to spoil the party.  Refusing to campaign to an entire wing of the Republican base by skipping the Iowa caucuses isn’t at bottom a campaign strategy – it’s an acknowledgement that Jon Huntsman is the answer to a presidential question no one is asking.

June 16th, 2011 at 1:13 pm
Renewed Interest in the Gold Standard

Politico’s Ben Smith reports that Jeffrey Bell of American Principles in Action is engaged in a 19-stop bus tour of Iowa to drum up support for returning U.S. monetary policy to the gold standard.  According to Bell, focus groups of Tea Party activists in the Midwest were “astonishing” in their support for the issue.

Bell’s goal is to get the Republican presidential field to incorporate the gold standard into their platforms.  Politico’s Smith explains the issue’s allure:

Arguments over the gold standard date back more than a century, and their ideological charge is linked in part to the fact that making dollars convertible to gold would in theory limit the government’s capacity to act in the economy.

For that reason alone, putting a spotlight on the gold standard would be a good investment of time for American voters.

June 10th, 2011 at 3:47 pm
Media Faults Perry for being Conservative

Well, that didn’t take long.  On the day after Rick Perry for President speculation gained new momentum with two of his longtime political aides bolting Newt Gingrich’s campaign, the liberal media is attacking the Texas Republican governor for coordinating a “day of prayer and fasting” for national healing in Houston on August 6.

Putting aside the arguments for and against Perry’s event, the more the media explains Perry’s commitment to an evangelical Christian worldview, the more social conservative primary voters in Iowa are sure to perk up.  Moreover, Perry is already considered the first-in-the-nation-governor to pick up the Tea Party mantle of limited government, so perhaps those flinty New Englanders in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation-primary might take a look at a guy who takes the 10th Amendment seriously.

But what about foreign policy?  Let’s just say that as a former Air Force fighter pilot from Texas, Perry should have no trouble articulating something pleasing to pro-military Republican voters.

As with Sarah Palin, the mainstream media doesn’t seem to realize that highlighting Perry’s conservatism actually makes him more attractive to Republican voters.  So go ahead, journos!  Keep knocking Perry for being a social, fiscal, and national security conservative.  It only helps grow the brand.

May 27th, 2011 at 5:30 pm
Romney Supports Ethanol Subsidies

Or, to use Romney’s phrasing, “I support the subsidy of ethanol.”  Forget the passive voice; Mitt Romney is actively standing on his principles!

Two weeks ago, the former Massachusetts governor has defended his version of an individual mandate in health care.  Now, he’s declaring fealty to a $5 billion program to create a source of energy the free market will not support.

In 2008, Romney was tagged as being inauthentic because he tried to remake himself into a social conservative when he’s really more a country club Republican.  With his background in big business, Romney’s 2012 dalliances with corporate welfare may be more authentic, but they risk being out-of-step with free market tea partiers.

Mitt Romney seems like a genuinely nice, earnest guy.  Too bad he’s just not a conservative.

May 24th, 2011 at 3:55 pm
Don’t Sell Pawlenty Short
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It is well known throughout the halls of CFIF that one challenges our own Troy Senik at one’s own risk.  That principle carries additional weight on a week in which George Will, the dean of conservative commentators, cited Troy by name in his column.

In a fit of feistiness, I’ll nevertheless do the unthinkable and metaphorically run down those same halls with exposed scissors by responding to Troy’s thoughtful piece “Presidential Race Freefall.” In his column, Troy laments Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels’s decision not to run for president in 2012, saying, “we’re essentially left with Huntsman, Pawlenty, or Romney.  Out of that group, Huntsman is too moderate, Romney is too elastic, and Pawlenty is more acquittable than embraceable.”  He concludes with a fear that, “it’s time to start proceeding to the exits in orderly fashion.”

Those are certainly understandable and justifiable sentiments.  But I have a hunch that a lot of people may be selling Pawlenty short.  Consider that he won the relatively liberal state of Minnesota’s highest office not once, but twice.  That accomplishment included a reelection victory in 2006, a devastating year for anyone running with an “R” next to his or her name, particularly in a state like Minnesota.  In fact, the Democrats recaptured both state legislative houses that November.  So we’re not talking about a candidate whose campaign for national office rests on a flimsy resume constructed in the fair weather of some deeply red state .  Pawlenty’s feat becomes even more impressive when one considers that despite governing a state so blue that it was the only one to support Walter Mondale over Ronald Reagan, he was one of only four governors to earn an “A” grade for fiscal management in 2010 from the Cato Institute.  Notably, Governor Daniels earned a “B” that year.  Then, in announcing his candidacy in Iowa yesterday and appearing afterward on Rush Limbaugh’s show, Pawlenty boldly called for an end to ethanol subsidies from which many in Iowa benefit.

In other words, Pawlenty is a man who has managed to win in difficult electoral environments while maintaining a remarkably strong conservative record.  There may be some steel beneath that mild Clark Kent exterior.