Posts Tagged ‘Politico.com’

[...] “Glover Park Group, founded by and stocked with some of Washington’s best-known Democrats, is suddenly going bipartisan despite the possibility of a Republican wipeout in November,” writes Mike Allen of politico.com in a story titled Democratic firm adding Republicans—not terribly bright, nominal Republicans, anyway.

The strategy firm announced Wednesday that it is hiring Kevin Madden, 36, who appears frequently on television as a Republican analyst and was a top official in Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign [...]

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dr. g.d.

[...] “As chairman of the Republican Governors Association in 2006, Mitt Romney crisscrossed the country to elect GOP governors and broke the group’s fundraising record by hauling in $20 million,” writes Charles Mahtesian in a politico.com article titled Most GOP govs shun Romney

Yet just two of the 16 governors he worked to elect then are supporting his presidential bid.

In fact, just three of the nation’s 22 Republican governors have endorsed him.

There are plenty of reasons that might explain the former Massachusetts governor’s surprisingly weak support among his former colleagues. But one of them stands out: He appears to have inadvertently alienated a good many of his fellow governors as RGA chairman.

“Right or wrong, the general impression was that he spent way too much time on himself and building his presidential organization,” said a top Republican strategist who has worked closely with the RGA in recent years. “I don’t think anyone ever questioned Romney’s commitment to the organization or the work he put in. They questioned his goals or his motives. Was it to elect Republican governors, or to tee up his presidential campaign?”

A campaign manager for an unsuccessful 2006 Republican gubernatorial campaign echoed the sentiments. “We definitely got the vibe from the staff that our state was never a national player when it came to the strategy that the RGA was putting together,” he said. “Everything they were telling me was about Michigan. They were dumping everything into Michigan.”

For Romney, his inability to win over the governors he worked closest with has proven costly. On the eve of Tuesday’s crucial primary in Florida, Gov. Charlie Crist announced his support for John McCain — despite the fact that Romney, as chairman of the RGA, had greenlighted a $1 million check to Crist’s campaign in 2006.

McCain won Florida by 36 percent to 31 percent over Romney. And the exit polls found that 42 percent of the voters said the popular governor’s endorsement was very important or somewhat important.

On Thursday, two more big-state governors who were on the 2006 ballot, Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and Rick Perry of Texas, lined up behind McCain. Schwarzenegger’s decision came just days before California Republicans vote in this Tuesday’s primary. Perry switched to McCain after his first endorsed candidate, Rudy Giuliani, ended his campaign.

Altogether, six of the 16 Republican governors elected or reelected in 2006 are backing McCain. South Dakota’s Michael Rounds is supporting Mike Huckabee. Nebraska’s David Heineman and Rhode Island’s Donald Carcieri are behind Romney. But the rest of the class is sitting it out, having declined to endorse anyone.

One reason, said a Republican consultant familiar with the thinking behind some of the governors’ decisions, is that Romney rubbed some governors the wrong way during his tenure at the RGA.

“Everything seemed to have strings attached to it,” the consultant said. “If they were going to make a donation, they wanted a quid pro quo like an endorsement or a donor list or a volunteer program. There’s no interest like self-interest in politics. So when [governors] think their political lives are in a do-or-die situation, that’s not the time to offer help with strings attached” [...]

Ed Kilgore of the Democratic Strategist comments on Romney’s failure to recruit support from Republican governors:

[...] Mitt has a total of three governors on his endorsement list, none of them exactly household names: Heineman of NE, Carcieri of RI, and Blunt of MO (who’s retiring this year). McCain has six, including such biggies as Ah-nold of CA, Crist of FL, and Perry of TX. True, the other former governor in the race, Mike Huckabee, has just one: Rounds of SD. But given Mitt’s money, organization, and recently acquired conservative-movement street cred, his poor standing among governors is surprising. Hell, he hasn’t even been the beneficiary of the obligatory David Broder column about the superior qualifications of governors for the White House [...]

[...] As Barack Obama so aptly said of Romney during last week’s Democratic presidential debate, for a guy with such a rep as an entrepreneurial whiz, Mitt’s had an exceptionally lousy return-on-investment rate for the money and preparation he’s devoted to this campaign (though not as lousy as Rudy Giuliani, who spent $50 million to win exactly one delegate). His proselytizing work, financial and otherwise, among Republican govenors is another case in point [...]

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dr. g.d.

[...] “Neither Hillary nor McCain can claim the economy as an especial preserve,” argues Dick Morris in a http://www.dickmorris.com blog titled McCain may win, Romney can’t

Can Romney? Inexplicably, the McCain campaign has not spoken of the layoffs that must have accompanied Romney’s efforts to “turn around” failing companies. Hedge funds are notorious for cutting jobs and the Clintons will make Mitt eat every single one. McCain has no such vulnerability and, hopefully, will make Romney’s layoffs an issue before Super Tuesday.So McCain can win and Romney won’t. That’s the long and the short of it [...]

More on this issue:

“On the stump in economically struggling Michigan and South Carolina recently, Mitt Romney has been making the case that ‘it always makes sense to fight for every single good job,’” writes Lisa Lerer for the Politico in an article titled Romney changes tune on layoffs

But this position seems to be at odds with the Republican contender’s one-time role as chief executive officer of Bain Capital, a large private equity firm.

In 1992, the firm acquired American Pad & Paper. By 1999, the year Romney left Bain, two American plants were closed, 385 jobs had been cut and the company was $392 million in debt.

The next year, Ampad was forced into bankruptcy.

Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs bought Dade International for about $450 million in 1994.

The firm quickly fired or relocated at least 900 workers. Over the next several years, it sunk increasingly into debt and laid off 1,000 workers.

In 2002 — after Romney had left Bain — it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

A 1997 buyout of LIVE Entertainment for $150 million resulted in 40 layoffs, roughly one in four of the company’s 166 workers.

The job cuts affected all aspects of the company, from production and acquisition to legal and public relations.

In 1997, Bain bought a stake in DDI Corp., a maker of electronic circuit boards.

Three years later, Bain took the company public and collected a $36 million payout.

But by August 2003, the company filed for bankruptcy protection, laying off more than 2,100 workers.

Four months after the bankruptcy, unhappy shareholders sued company executives, the initial public offering underwriters and Bain for mismanaging the IPO and failing to disclose company financial information. (Romney was not named in the suit.)

In March, all the defendants settled for $4.4 million.

Some job losses can be a natural part of the private equity business.

Firms like Bain Capital buy controlling stakes in troubled companies, then revamp them and sell them for a profit — a process that can include management changes and “cost-cutting,” often code for job cuts [...]

Yuh-huh. See:

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dr. d.g.

When someone lies to us unabashedly it offends us. It is an insult to our intelligence when someone tells us that up is down or darkness is light. Now: Imagine the plight of the poor journalists assigned to follow the Romney campaign—those forced to endure one assault upon brute fact after another—as you watch this painful video.

From CBS News’ Scott Conroy:

“I don’t have lobbyists running my campaign,” Romney said. “I don’t have lobbyists that are tied to my … ”

“That’s not true, governor!” Johnson suddenly interjected. “That is not true. Ron Kaufman is a lobbyist.”

Romney then issues a strained distinction to resolve the contradiction, a distinction that hinges on the term “run” (this quote is from Mike Allen of the Politico.com—the emphasis is ours, all ours):

“Did you hear what I said — did you hear what I said, Glen?” Romney replied. “I said, ‘I don’t have lobbyists running my campaign,’ and he’s not running my campaign. He’s an adviser. And the person who runs my campaign is [campaign manager] Beth Myers, and I have a whole staff of deputy campaign managers.”

Apparently some woman named Beth Myers and her many deputies run Romney’s campaign, as she is Romney’s campaign director. And apparently what Romney meant by “running” was “running” in the technical sense of campaign administration.

Here be the problem: If this technical sense of the term “running”—as in plotting strategy, scheduling appearances etc., the sort of work that a campaign director would do—is the sense in which Romney meant that he had no lobbyists “running his campaign,” then no one, not anyone whether Republican or Democrat has lobbyists “running” their campaigns and Romney’s claim is meaningless on its face. It would be as meaningful saying that bears do not ride bicycles in the Romney campaign. (Well, do bears ride bicycles in any campaign?)

The Boston Herald’s Ms. Jessica Van Sack makes the case more elegantly:

[...] Romney’s argument basically came down to this: Kaufman’s not running my campaign – therefore, lobbyists don’t run my campaign. So, following Romney’s logic, if his campaign director isn’t a lobbyist, and every other campaign worker is a lobbyist, lobbyists still don’t aren’t running his campaign.

Folks, you can’t make this stuff up [...]

So Johnson’s rejoinder clearly has merit. Lobbyists do hold positions of influence in the Romney campaign—for example, Ron Kaufman. To insist that lobbyists are not running the Romney campaign in some technical sense is like saying that generals never fight wars; only soldiers fight wars.

We would like to offer a special blessing for the parents, the children, and the loved ones of one Mr. Glen Johnson of the Associated Press, a man possessed of integrity, a man who possesses soul.

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dr. g.d.

[...] “NPR reports that Mitt Romney is shaking up his staff today and taking more control himself,” writes Erick of Redstate.com in a blog burst titled Sources Say

Also, I hear from multiple sources that he has shifted some staff around, pulling people from Florida and sending them to Michigan [...]

Loses learn. This is one of the uses of adversity. Not so Team Romney, we used to argue, because Romney’s vast personal fortune insulates Team Romney from the costs of its failures.

But now there is evidence that the Romney is attempting to rationalize its organization and its operations. This could allow them to, you know, develop a message that connects with voters.

Regard:

“Mitt Romney hasn’t extended his television presence into next week in South Carolina and Florida, an aide confirms,” writes Jonathan Martin of the politico.com in a blog burst titled Mitt not re-upping his S.C. and Fla. TV time

Romney has been on TV for months in both states, owning the airwaves long before his GOP rivals purchased their first spots.

But his multimillion-dollar investment in the two key states that may ultimately decide the GOP nominee has not paid off as he continues to lag behind rivals there.

Spokesman Kevin Madden declined to say whether their decision was based upon strategy or money [...]

[...] Ten days before South Carolina and 20 before Florida it’s difficult to see why he’d go dark in either crucial state, unless he’s decided to limit how much of his own cash he’s using on what has so far been a disappointing campaign.

UPDATE: Another indication that Romney is easing back on the self-funding — an adviser tells AP’s Glen Johnson that they recognize that their ad campaign wasn’t terribly effective and that now they’re going to focus on earned media. Also known as free media [...]

Martin interprets this move as weakness.

We interpret it as strength, amazing strength, strength combined with a stern resolve. Viz.: Romney has the money. So this is not the voice of grim necessity. Rather: This is a rational choice, a sober choice, and the correct choice.

These corrections suggest a more accurate interpretation of the upcoming contests and the players involved. These corrections also suggest a more accurate assessment of what is achievable and for what cost. Here is the money quote from the Glen Jonhson AP article that Martin links to:

[...] Conceding Romney had been hurt by a backlash against the hard-hitting television commercials the former Massachusetts governor ran against Huckabee and McCain, the adviser said the campaign hoped to “get away from the paid media and get more of the earned media.”

The shift would suggest a greater emphasis on generating newspaper, Internet and television coverage, especially in Michigan, where Romney was born and which is next on the primary calendar on Jan. 15. Romney flies to Grand Rapids, Mich., on Wednesday after a fundraiser in Boston [...]

A targeted, earned-media strategy will allow Team Romney to correctly assess the effectiveness of their messages. The data and experience that accrues from their efforts can help them increase their ROI and develop more effective messages. They will have at last organized themselves into a learning loop more closely coupled to their audiences and sources of support. They will in the very least be be spending less which will improve their image. In other words, they will have caught up with the other campaigns.

However: In the same article, Johnson also reports this:

[...] Nonetheless, Romney chided McCain and Huckabee for cherry-picking contests, with Huckabee having focused on Iowa while McCain focused on New Hampshire. Romney spent more than $7 million on advertising in each state, and held as many, if not more, events in both places than any of his GOP rivals [...]

But reports are that Romney is withdrawing staff from SC and FL to invest in MI. Also: reports indicate that Romney is scaling back his ad buys in SC and FL. In other words, Romney too has learned to cherry-pick. As we have argued elsewhere, what Romney calls “cherry-picking” is the most rational strategy in an election cycle with no clear coalition. Politics specifies itself in space—demography, geography, and ideology all intertwine and pass into one another—to build a coalition from the ground up you need to first establish a regional base.

The other candidates have staked out the parts of the map they want to contest. (The first candidate to recognize and act on the new reality was Mayor Giuliani. His strategy has yet to encounter its first real contest.)

Romney has yet to do that.

But: Evidence indicates that he now moves in that direction.

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dr. g.d.

P.S. Hypothetical questions: What if Romney were to campaign on who he is instead of an invented Romney? What if Romney were to organize a rational and ethical campaign? What if Romney were to cease his grimly negative campaigning?

Answer: the governing assumptions of this web log would be all, and in an instant, overturned. And we would be forced to admit that this was the case or risk being accused of being irrational ourselves. At that moment we truly would become a Blog for Mitt as we would no longer have a case against a Romney presidency.

Question: Is such an outcome even possible?

Go Mitt!—i.e. stop lying, stop shape-shifting, stop sliming other candidates, and stop spending money that you did not raise through your own hard efforts, and go and be our President.

“NASHUA, N.H., Jan 6 (Reuters) – Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney said on Sunday he would balance the U.S. budget deficit within “a few years” if he won the 2008 race for the U.S. presidency,” writes Jason Szep in a reuters release titled Romney says would balance budge in “few years”

Asked by a voter at a rally in the southern New Hampshire city of Nashua whether he would balance the budget by March 2009 if elected, Romney said he wouldn’t give a timetable because of the cost of financing the U.S. war in Iraq [...]

This is beneath comment. So let’s consider another point.

“At the Intrade Prediction Market, Romney has dropped to fourth place with only a 12.6% chance of winning the Republican nomination, behind McCain (who is now the favorite), Giuliani, and Huckabee,” writes the writer of Half Sigma in a post titled Time for Romney to withdraw?

When Romney loses to McCain in New Hampshire tomorrow, it’s time for him to withdraw. If he can’t win New Hampshire, which is sort of a suburb of Boston, where is he going to win besides in Utah and Massachusetts? [...]

We’re beginning to wonder about what Romney’s plan truly is. The so-called “data driven” candidate must know by now that the primary process—as it is conventionally construed—will not support a Romney nomination. Here may be the secret of Romney’s intentions:

[...] “Romney’s campaign team is already preparing their Wolverine State campaign and they’ve already filled his schedule with retail events there, hitting conservative-dominated western Michigan for the first few days before turning to population centers like Detroit and Lansing,” Jonathan Martin and Jim VandeHei in a politico.com feast-for-the-mind titled Romney dials down expectations hard
In mail and TV spots there, they’ll drive the candidate’s change message, and if he loses here, they will continue to contrast with McCain on Washington experience, immigration and taxes.Should Romney’s New Hampshire loss be close, an adviser previewed their spin as: “Look at our body of work over 10 days. We came in first in Wyoming and second in Iowa and New Hampshire. Who else can match that?” [...]

Translation: In what Team Romney specifyies as Romney’s receding regional stronghold strategy, you can detect the outlines of Romney’s new national strategy. It consists in fighting to remain a player until the convention, accumulating delegates by means of grim attrition. It is a hard, despairing, and enormously expensive strategy.

Think of it this way: the task of the primary campaigner is to develop the coherent story of a message passing into a general movement from the fragmented, particular, and variable character of the contests themselves. Romney’s strategy now becomes the precise opposite. He must simultaneously

Resist like grim death the other candidates’ attempts to beat their way out of their regional redoubts—holding them off until the convention

-and-

Eke out as many victories, near-victories, or rationales for non-victories (Iowans are religious bigots!) as possible to maintain the semblance of vialbility—again: until the convention

For Romney to prevail, he needs to develop disorder, disunity, and fragmentation. How do you accomplish this?—relentlessly negative campaigning. Every one must get slimed beyond viability. This is what happens in a game when you have a player who neither respects the game nor even the field it’s played on.

Meanwhile: expect lots more grandiosity from the hapless candidate as he fights to stay in the headlines.

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dr g.d.

“Mitt Romney, a dominant favorite in New Hampshire just weeks ago, said Sunday that a “close second” to Arizona Sen. John McCain would be a significant feat on Tuesday,” write Jonathan Martin and Jim VandeHei in a politico.com feast-for-the-mind titled Romney dials down expectations hard, which is an interesting use of the of the word “dial”

The almost frantic downsizing of expectations for the former Massachusetts governor came as the candidate and his staff are publicly and privately preparing to explain away what would be a disheartening loss and shift to a last-ditch strategy predicated on his ability to outlast and outspend his rivals, according to sources inside the campaign.

Last ditch strategy? Precisely the opposite is the case. To outlast and outspend his rivals has always been Romney’s strategy, his only practical strategy.

Romney’s early-state von Schlieffen plan was a ruse, a subterfuge to suggest the cover of a legitimate primary campaign with legimate primary campaign objectives. And this expectations bull roar emitted by the Romneys is but a ruse within a ruse.

Back to Martin and VandeHei:

“This is a must-win state for him,” Romney said of McCain, in a Politico interview Sunday. “If he doesn’t win here, I don’t know where he is going to win. So for me it’s can I catch John McCain — can I keep him from getting this?”

We predicted Romney would say this. What is eerie is that we predicted that Romney would say precisely this. Here is what we predicted Romney would say on 01.01:

  • NH is Sen. McCain’s to lose,
  • Team Romney assumed from the beginning of time that Sen. McCain would surpass them in NH by a million points,
  • Even a close number 2 for the Romneys behind Sen. McCain finish would be a disaster for Sen. McCain’s campaign and a breakthrough for Team Romney

More evidence of Romney’s inexperience and naivete—more evidence of his amateur-hour campaigning. In a realclearpolitics post titled Mitt’s Ham-Handed Campaign, Jay Cost opines:

[...] This is par for the course for the Romney campaign, in my estimation. His candidacy has been the most transparently strategic this cycle. McCain is up? Go after McCain. McCain is down? Leave McCain alone. Thompson enters the race and seems a threat? Take a cheap shot about Law and Order. Thompson fades? Ignore him. Rudy is up? Go after Rudy. Huckabee is up? Go after Huck. You need to win a Republican primary? Make yourself the most socially conservative candidate in the race. And on and on and on.

If somebody asked me which candidate on the Republican side has won just a single election (in a year that his party did very well nationwide) — I would answer Mitt Romney, even knowing nothing about anybody’s biography. This kind of transparency is, to me, a sign of political inexperience. He’s only won one election, and it shows [...]

Back to Martin and VandeHei:

Left unsaid was that Romney has led in state polls for much of the race, and McCain only caught him recently.

The Romney campaign has the feel of one bracing for a possible loss, including the tell-tale emergence of behind-the-scenes clashes. Several Romney advisers described internal disputes over strategic missteps leading up to Iowa — with some contending Romney should have focused earlier on his ability as a Washington outsider and businessman to change the political process and fix Washington’s big problems [...]

Romney’s solution? Focus on both strategies. What got sacrificed? Any chance at a coherent message:

Luo: “Ever since Mr. Romney began his presidential bid, his campaign has oscillated between two distinct, some would say contradictory, themes—Mr. Romney as a conservative standard-bearer and him as a pragmatic problem-solving businessman”

Back to Martin and VandeHei:

[...] Romney said tension inside his campaign over strategic decisions has not been a big deal. He blamed reporters — not his advisers — for forcing him to focus intensely on his conservative views instead of the message of change he is carrying to every event in New Hampshire.

“I get asked a lot about my conservative credentials, largely by members of the media,” he said in the interview. “I go on TV and it’s like: ‘Tell me about your church, tell me where you stand on abortion.’

“There is no question the focus of my campaign has been on changing Washington” [...]

Romney blamed reporters? Does the press corps work for Romney now? Is the press corps responsible for promulgating Romney’s message, or do they pursue other goals? Is it wise for the hapless candidate to cast himself as at the mercy of bully reporters?—what sort of “leader” allows others to control his message?

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dr. g.d.

“MANCHESTER, N.H. — For months, there has been an open secret among insiders working in or covering the 2008 Republican campaign: The rival candidates despise Mitt Romney,” writes Jonathan Martin in a Politico.com article titled Rivals pile on Romney

After Saturday night in New Hampshire, it’s no longer a secret. The contempt was obvious, and relentless. And it was harnessed for clear strategic purposes at the debate. Everyone — even candidates who don’t seem to be in the center of the New Hampshire action — felt it was in their interest to pile on the former Massachusetts governor.

Romney may have been knocked from front-runner status in Iowa, but this night he was at the center — of a rhetorical firing squad. Four of Romney’s Republican opponents joined together to put him through a grueling evening, taking turns offering derisive quips and questions about his authenticity and throwing him on the defensive at a critical moment for his campaign [...]

[...] Combined it was a brutal gang attack, the likes of which have been unseen in any previous debate.

And it couldn’t have come at a worse time for Romney. With two new New Hampshire polls out showing him now down 6 points in this critical state, he needed to set himself apart tonight.

He had hoped to sound his outsider message and discuss his private sector credentials.

Instead he looked rattled at times, unprepared for the waves of attacks.

After McCain’s final salvo, he seemed to plead for mercy: “The continued personal barbs are interesting but unnecessary” [...]

Romney is the establishment candidate. He bought and paid for that singular distinction.

So: What do you call it when all of your other candidates rebel against—and concert their arguments against—your party establishment in the person of the establishment candidate?

These are not good times for the conservative institutions—talk radio, new media, The National Review etc.—who joined their fortunes to those of Willard Milton Romney.

abcnews.com’s Rick Klein concurs with Martin:

[...] But I saw that as a pretty bad night for Mitt Romney. I think he was outflanked on immigration by McCain and Giuliani — that’s not easy to do. And you can tell that nobody on that stage likes him. He’s a frontrunner here, so he can expect the heat, but so is John McCain, and yet everyone rushed to defend McCain and attack Romney. Why would Romney say he likes mandates? How could he have let Fred Thompson best him on a debate over healthcare? Just a few of the many questions he’s going to have to sort out, against the backdrop of some McCain momentum in New Hampshire? [...]

Team Romney concurs too, as eye of eyon08.com argues:

[...] only two surrogates were in the spin room: Tom Tancredo and Bay Buchanan. None of the national surrogates in town. No Senator Judd Gregg, Romney New Hampshire campaign chairman. Where was Judd?

That leads me to my second fact. Judd Gregg was the first person to leave the debate. [...]

We long ago predicted that the other campaigns would concert their efforts to defeat Romney. Events continue to confirm our surmise:

“MANCHESTER, N.H. — Mitt Romney absorbed repeated attacks from his rivals tonight, as competitors joined in common cause to take down the one-time New Hampshire frontrunner,” writes Elizabeth Holmes in an online.wsj.com article titled McCain Leads Attack on Romney in New Hampshire Debate

The harshest blows during the ABC News/Facebook debate came from Arizona Sen. John McCain, Mr. Romney’s fiercest opponent in this first-in-the-nation primary state. Mr. Romney, who was badly beat in Iowa Thursday, has been campaigning ever since as a “change agent” able to fix Washington.

But Mr. McCain turned his words on him, derisively referenced his changing positions on social issues, calling him the “candidate of change.” Later, during a discussion of immigration, Mr. Romney complained about being misquoted. Mr. McCain responded: “When you change…positions on issue from time to time, you will get misquoted.”

The attack on Mr. Romney continued throughout the evening in the only Republican debate to fall between Iowa’s and New Hampshire’s contests. The assault came not just from Mr. McCain but from other Republicans in the hunt as well: Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson.

Although each is fighting his own battle, the quartet appeared united in trying to eliminate Mr. Romney from the race sooner rather than later [...]

Romney for his part would be well advised to suck-it-up. For Team Romney it may be useful to study Sen. Clinton’s attempts to play victim after a similar debate debacle.

Her complaints were counterproductive.

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dr. g.d.

[...] Romney [...] must find a new rationale for a candidacy that was based almost entirely on the prospect of scoring early victories in Iowa and New Hampshire and using them to build national momentum,” write John F. Harris and Jonathan Martin in a surprisingly inept politico.com account titled Iowa leaves GOP in total dissarray, only the writers, despite themselves, somehow do discover an underlying structure. We just need to try to clarify it for them.

[...] If Romney loses again in New Hampshire, where he had until recently been leading, his candidacy will go on life support.

Some aides suggested that the former Massachusetts governor’s last-stand effort would be later this month in Michigan, where Romney grew up and where his father was governor in the 1960s.

But the Iowa results underscored problems of a candidate who had money, organizational skill, good looks and the support of many establishment politicians and Washington operatives.

Conservatives had questions over his consistency and qualms over his Mormon faith and a personal style that leaves many cold.

These reservations trumped what had been a skilled organization and millions of dollars spent from his own fortune on television ads — many of them unsuccessful attacks on Huckabee as outside the mainstream of conservative thinking.

Huckabee can be sure that there are more attacks ahead [...]

Translation: In the space of one evening Romney has defacto been beaten back from his so-called national strategy to a regional strongholds strategy, as described by Brownstein of the NYT.

Our take: Romney’s von Schlieffen plan—a lightening strike on two fronts to secure the center—is finally dead.

Recall: Romney’s von Schlieffen plan consisted in

(a) Securing the social conservative base by running far to the right of the other candidates as Pres. Bush the younger did in 2000, and by spreading around a lot of love to conservative elites and intellectuals

-and-

(b) Developing the organization on the ground to guarantee victories in the early states

Team Romney has failed at both tasks. Only they had failed at both tasks by last summer, as we have argued over and over on this blog using only secondary sources as our grounds or data.

What interests us is how facts and developments on the ground fail to register at the posh, waterfront headquarters of Team Romney. In the very teeth of contrary data or testimony Team Romney always respond by doing what they had been doing only harder, faster, and more frantically. And for what? Iowa? Further, Romney had to have seen this coming—no one polls on the ground like Romney. It was as if Romney was at war with the laws of physics as opposed to trying to persuade a quirky and eccentric regional segment of the US electorate.

Regard:

[...] Each candidate will focus on different elements of the conservative coalition, and who wins could say much about what issues are paramount to a party in transition.

Romney will press economic and cultural issues, hoping to contrast his views with those of McCain and Huckabee on taxes on immigration and those of Giuliani on immigration and abortion rights.

Despite his moderate past, he’ll argue that to be successful the party needs a candidate who can appeal to social, economic and security conservatives [...]

Translation: Expect Romney to have learned nothing. Romney’s record of governance and his character do not support this message. Perhaps the party does need “a candidate who can appeal to social, economic and security conservatives.” But Romney has never done that, nor has he demonstrated that he can do it now. Precisely the opposite is the case. 

Back to Harris and Martin:

[...] There is no question that evangelical support — estimated by network entrance polls as 60 percent of the Republican caucus turnout — was critical to Huckabee’s victory.

But some strategists said that Huckabee has the ability to widen his support.

“His success was also due to his appeal as an authentic and genuine candidate that connected with middle America,” veteran conservative strategist Greg Mueller e-mailed.

“This is an important characteristic of his campaign as it heads to New Hampshire, where [former] Gov. Huckabee now needs to broaden his populist appeal by using the bully pulpit to contrast with McCain on populist themes such as his fair tax plan, immigration and fair trade. In each of these issue areas, Huckabee can position McCain as a Washington insider that represents special interests [...]

Yes, only no. Gov. Huckabee will never attempt to position Sen McCain as anything other than a friend and national hero. Have Harris and Martin not been watching or listening to anything so far in this election cycle? And Gov. Huckabee will bypass NH altogether to invest his modest resources where he can be guaranteed a higher return, because this is how you develop a coalition from the ground up. Yes, “each candidate will focus on different elements of the conservative coalition, and who wins could say much about what issues are paramount to a party in transition,” but these “elements” specify themselves regionally—as we have argued elsewhere, politics specifies itself in space—ideology, demography, and geography all intertwine.

Apparently observers and commentators still need time to reflect upon the lesson of the 2008 Iowa caucuses.

Apparently so does Romney.

Wake up, dudes.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Mitt Romney is up with well over 1,000 gross ratings points in every major Iowa television market this week, a footprint that that is significantly larger than that of his nearest competitor,” writes Jonathan Martin for the politico.com in a post titled Romney saturating Iowa airwaves

Romney has purchased over 2,000 points on Cedar Rapids TV, just over 1,700 in Des Moines and just shy of 1,500 in Davenport. The three markets comprise the vast swath of central and eastern Iowa and are the largest in terms of Iowans reached in the state. The records were provided by a Democratic source who tracks media buys.Roughly speaking, 1,000 points means that the typical viewer will be exposed to an ad 10 times in a given week. Ad buys larger than 1,000 points are generally considered as having reached “saturation.”

Beyond these three markets, Romney also has ads up in the four cities that serve Iowa viewers (including 1,900 points in the heavily GOP Sioux City market) … etc.

Further, while Romney hemorrhages money in Iowa for continuously diminishing marginal returns, he hemorrhages credibility in New Hampshire as

(a) No newspaper has endorsed him while the more liberal Concord Monitor and the conservative NH Union Leader have un-endorsed the hapless candidate

and

(b) Gov. Huckabee and Sen. McCain have formed an Iowa-New Hamphshire axis, as reported by Michael Levenson of the Boston Globe in a story titled McCain, Huckabee form unusual alliance against Romney

John McCain and Mike Huckabee have become unusual allies, united by their desire to stop Mitt Romney from winning the early presidential nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.

While Huckabee and McCain have repeatedly criticized Romney, they have showered each other with affection. McCain has lauded Huckabee as “a man of integrity, honesty, and decency.” And Huckabee has praised McCain as “a true, honest-to-God American hero.”

The warmth between them may be heartfelt, but both men recognize that they need each other over the next two weeks. McCain needs Huckabee to beat Romney in Iowa’s Republican caucuses on Jan. 3, so that Romney is weakened for the New Hampshire primary five days later. And Huckabee needs McCain to draw votes from Romney in Iowa. Polls indicate McCain and Romney are in a statistical tie in New Hampshire, and Huckabee is leading Romney In Iowa … etc.

We predicted long ago that other campaigns would react by acting in concert to Romney’s ill-advised attempts to shut them out of the early states:

Romney bravely—or unwittingly—faces the gathering storm, er, we mean swarm

By concerting their activities, Sen. McCain and Gov. Huckabee significantly lower the costs of engaging Romney while forcing Romney to divide and disperse his efforts to resist them.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.





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