Posts Tagged ‘super-duper apocalypse tuesday’

[…] “Apparently the word is going around Team Romney that McCain will need 77 percent of the delegates remaining to win,” writes Romney sycophant Jim Geraghty in an NRO Campaign Spot blog burst titled Romney Fighting All The Way To The Convention?

(I’m pretty sure that’s wrong, if the numbers 720-256-194 are accurate. And if McCain, the guy in the 600-700s needs to win an extremely high percentage, doesn’t Romney, the guy in the 200s, have to win an even higher percentage?)

However, if Romney stays in, it’s very plausible to see a scenario in which he denies McCain the nomination on a straight delegate victory. This would result in some really, really rough coverage and criticism. I’m hearing some fans of Mitt talk about doing something like this to “keep McCain honest” and to broker concessions in St. Paul.

We’ll see. If the sense is that his campaign isn’t being run to win, but being run to make a point, I think you’ll see his support in subsequent states drop … I’m not sure the Romney campaign was built to be a protest candidacy […]

Um, we’re not so sure either. A protest candidate? Romney?

[…] “Al Cardenas, a member of Mr. Romney’s national finance team and his Florida chairman, said the campaign could still achieve certain goals, including pushing a conservative agenda, while hoping for the outside possibility of winning the nomination,” writes Michael Luo in a NYT article titled Losses Aside, Romney Puts Convention on Calendar

“You’ve got a chance to win the nomination based on either getting the required number of delegates in the first round,” Mr. Cardenas said, “or having a campaign that results in no one have the required number of delegates in the first round, which is maybe a more tangible goal.”

Mr. Romney’s advisers had said that if he reached only 300 delegates by Tuesday, a threshold he fell short of, he would essentially have to win every remaining contest, often by large margins because most of them allocate delegates proportionally.

Charlie Black, a senior strategist for Mr. McCain, put out a strategy memorandum on Wednesday that made a similar argument. McCain advisers said that, by conservative estimates, they expected to wrap up the nomination by early March.

“I will not say, in order to stay consistent with my boss’s superstition, which I share, that it’s impossible for these guys to get nominated,” said Mr. Black, referring to Mr. Romney and Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, “but it is virtually impossible just based on the arithmetic of the matter.”

But Mr. Romney’s advisers have been discussing three categories of delegates: those that have been already been awarded and bound to a candidate; those that have been promised but are not technically bound; and those that have not yet been allocated.

The goal would be to continue to battle, hoping that Mr. Romney starts to sweep up states, and then arrive at the convention with no clear winner and the momentum to wrest some of those promised but not officially bound delegates into his column.

Mr. Romney appeared to allude to this possibility in his speech on Tuesday night, promising to take the Republican race “all the way to the convention” […]

The emphases are ours, all ours.

We harp more on this string here:

Romney attempting to engineer a brokered convention, hints at plans to foment mutiny among promised but not officially bound delegates

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“Mitt Romney knew John McCain would be a tough competitor on Super Tuesday,” writes Michael Levenson in a http://www.boston.com article titled After tough Tuesday, Romney forces to meet on next steps

What he didn’t count on was Mike Huckabee’s strong showing, which stopped Romney from staying close to McCain in the delegate chase for the nomination.Romney, however, vowed to continue on stay in the race, and his spokesman played down Huckabee’s victories.

‘‘A Southern candidate who appeals on social issues had an appeal to a Southern constituency on social issues,’’ spokesman Kevin Madden said last night. ‘‘It’s not a surprise.’’

The contrast between them is clear, he said.

‘‘The case we’re going to make to Republican voters is that Governor Romney is the full spectrum conservative, whereas Mike Huckabee is only a social conservative’’ […]

Note that Romney compares himself favorably to Gov. Huckabee, not Sen. McCain. Conclusion: Romney assumes that Gov. Huckabee split the conservative vote. So his message is to Gov. Huckabee voters in particular and conservatives and value voters in general.

We disagree with this assumption. And so do others.

Back to Levenson:

Romney and his inner circle plan to huddle today at the campaign’s North End headquarters and consider their next steps […]

Oh, what we would not give to be allowed to stand in that huddle, shoulder to shoulder with the mighty men (and women) of valor who have delivered Romney triumph upon triumph. John King and Dana Bash of CNN’s Political ticker also harp on the string of Romney’s Wednesday morning huddle in a post titled Romney set to huddle with top advisors

[…] “It is tough to saddle up this AM,” said one top Romney adviser who spoke only on condition of anonymity.

Romney has poured more than $35 million of his personal fortune into the campaign, and after a rough Super Tuesday faces a decision of whether to spend more. Several advisers said there was a plan, in place before the Tuesday votes were counted, to begin advertising in the Washington, DC and Baltimore markets. Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia hold primaries next Tuesday.

“As of early this AM it was a go,” said one of the campaign sources. “We can do the math but there are still openings,” said another.

The official agenda for the meeting was discussion strategy though the March 4 GOP contests. Romney has no public events scheduled and aides say there are, at the moment, no plans for any public statement. An address to a major conservative gathering in Washington is planned for Thursday; McCain is also addressing the group […]

Here be the problem: there is pressure developing from every direction—party elites, media, punditry, even from within Team Romney itself—to withdraw now that a clear front-runner has finally emerged. The political primitives of Team Romney are faced with the daunting task of developing and disseminating a new rationale for the Romney campaign in light of yesterday’s losses. At the moment the message is “I am the full spectrum conservative; Gov. Huckabee is but a half-formed, only partially realized conservative.” We shall see how long they can hold their diminished position on the strength of so limp an argument. Here is the reasoning that the finest minds that Romney can buy must rebut, refute, or counter with their own narrative:

[…] “The Super Tuesday shake out has left Arizona Sen. John McCain riding high with more than twice as many delegates as GOP rival Mitt Romney, who despite spending millions of dollars of his personal fortune was left out in the cold yesterday,” writes Jessica Fargen in a news.bostonherald.com release titled Pundits: Romney may be out soon

McCain, who won the big-delegate state of California, has 613 delegates, followed by former Bay State Gov. Romney with 269 and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with 190 delegates, according to the Associated Press. It takes 1,191 to win the GOP nomination.

“I think Romney will probably not be in the race that much longer,” said Republican media consultant Todd Domke, who is not affiliated with any GOP campaign. “He performed below expectations. Romney has rasied the expectations so high that when he failed it was all the more devastating” […]

In other words, once again Romney outflanked Romney—i.e. the campaign botched its own expectations game. Sen. McCain’s campaign adds its own voice to the chorus in the form of a memo, as reported by Jessica Van Sack in a bostonherald.com Presidential Briefings blog burst titled McCain internal memo leaves Romney for dead

From the memo:

[…] Senator McCain went into Super Tuesday with nearly a two-to-one lead in the Delegate count. He ends Super Tuesday (unofficially) with nearly 750 delegates in his column (estimates based on proportionally divided states and unofficial returns) while Romney has only 236, just a few ahead of Huckabee. Our unofficial count shows Mitt Romney trails by 510 delegates. As of today, more than 1400 delegates have been assigned or decided through primary or caucus contests.

The remaining contests account for roughly 963 delegates. For Mitt Romney to match our delegate count, he would have to win more than 50% of those delegates. And, he would have to win nearly every single delegate still available in order to become the nominee. And, many of these contests are proportional, so Mitt will have to win by big margins in many states to garner every last delegate. For example, in this weekend’s Louisiana Primary, he would have to win the with more than 50% of the vote in order to win (1191 delegates to win, 963+236=1,199) […]

The super-duper apocalypse Tuesday contests have passed into their archival phase. Now the struggle becomes what to make of the data that the voters and caucus goers returned when they were asked to express their views on the candidates with their ballots or other means. Sen. McCain’s message: The process is over. Allow me to address the several blocs that make up the base of the party and attempt to develop grounds for going forward together. And Romney’s message so far today? The conservative base has yet to speak. And when they do, they will speak through me. I am the authentic conservative.

Only here is the problem for Romney: the conservatives have already spoken. In contest after contest, they issued their ruling on Romney’s clumsy and caricatured, unreconstructed, newly acquired conservatism. Their answer to Romney’s call was simply not the answer that Team Romney wanted to hear.

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dr. g.d.

[…] Romney vowed publicly to trudge on despite the series of disappointing losses; even after his wife, Ann, said that “The one thing that’s clear tonight is that nothing’s clear,” writes Thomas Burr of the Salt Lake Tribune in an article titled Despite few victories, Romney vows to campaign on

“I think she’s wrong; one thing that’s clear is this campaign is going on,” Romney told supporters in Boston. “I think there’s some people that thought it was all going to be done tonight, but it’s not done tonight.”

McCain, meanwhile, relished his new spot as the leader after many pundits had declared his candidacy dead last year.

“Tonight I think we must get used to the idea that we are the Republican Party frontrunner for the nomination of the president of the United States. And I really don’t mind that one bit,” McCain told a revved-up crowd in Arizona that included Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.

With Romney taking so few of the key states on Super Tuesday, political observers were doubting the former head of the 2002 Winter Olympics could turn around his campaign from the trouncing he sustained.

Romney may plan to continue on, but the GOP establishment likely will be calling on him to suspend his campaign, says Allan Lichtman, a professor of history at American University in Washington.

“There’s going to be a tremendous push in the Republican Party to unite behind the front-runner,” Lichtman says. McCain may not be the establishment’s dream nominee, but it’s better to seem unified and not fractured, Lichtman added.

Romney is “young” and can run again if he wants, Lichtman says, guessing he probably doesn’t want to burn a second chance at a run […]

[…] But Romney still may soldier on, she adds, because he has tremendous financial resources.

“What keeps Romney in this game is money, his ability to fund the campaign, keep the lights on,” Duffy says. “It’s hard for him to make a case after today [to continue], but my guess is he may” […]

[…] “Once again, conservatives have rejected Romney’s conviction-less campaign,” said Huckabee’s campaign manager, Chip Saltsman. “No amount of Mitt’s money is going to overcome what a growing number of Americans – and the Wall Street Journal – are seeing first hand: Mitt has no convictions at all” […]

And what has Romney spent to arrive at this point?

[…] “By Republican strategist Alex Vogel’s calculation, Mitt Romney is giving Gramm a run for his money,” writes Jonathan Wiesman in a washingtonpost.com The Trail post titled Romney’s Expenses Per Delegate Top $1M

The former Massachusetts governor has spent $1.16 million per delegate, a rate that would cost him $1.33 billion to win the nomination.

By contrast, Mike Huckabee’s campaign has been the height of efficiency. Delegates haven’t yet been officially apportioned, but roughly speaking, each $1 million spent by Huckabee has won him 20 delegates […]

All that spending, and all that re-inventing, yet voters still do not consider Romney a conservative:

[…] “This week, conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, and Ann Coulter all rallied against John McCain, telling their listeners to back Mitt Romney,” writes the estimable John Dickerson in a slate.com article titled McCain Not Stopped; But Romney is not seen as a true conservative

Forget Huckabee, they’ve argued, a vote for him only ensures that the apostate McCain will win. On Tuesday, James Dobson, the religious broadcaster, blasted McCain: “I am convinced Senator McCain is not a conservative and, in fact, has gone out of his way to stick his thumb in the eyes of those who are. He has at times sounded more like a member of the other party.”

These loud voices of protest were thoroughly ignored. Conservatives did not rally to Mitt Romney. They rallied to Mike Huckabee, who won Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Alabama. “A lot of people have tried to say that this is a two-man race,” he said after winning, “You know what? It is, and we’re in it.”

That was a stretch, but Huckabee could argue Romney was out of the running because in the ideological and geographic heart of the Republican Party, Romney could not make a scratch, just as he couldn’t in the South Carolina primary. In Arkansas, Tennessee, and Alabama, he didn’t even come in second. For Romney, the problem is not just that he couldn’t win the delegates, but that he could not make the sale to Republicans at the heart of his party. He has spent money, bought organization, and now has the firepower of revered conservative voices behind him, and he still can’t win.

This is the worst possible outcome for those who want party unity or to stop John McCain. While Romney was denied, McCain won New York, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, and Missouri and racked up delegates, putting him closer to the nomination. The states at play in future contests are only going to get better for him and worse for Romney […]

Yet evidence accumulates to suggest that Romney’s efforts to destroy the GOP’s chances in November have not been entirely without effect:

[…] Exit polls nevertheless show that McCain’s problems with conservatives run deep. He lost among conservatives in almost every state except Connecticut and New Jersey, where he split them evenly with Romney. McCain also lost conservatives even in the states he won. Conservatives went for Romney in New York and Illinois. “Hard to do well with conservatives when everyone with a microphone is beating hell out of us,” says a top McCain aide. While the conservative voices weren’t enough to stop McCain, or to elect their guy, tonight they were enough to bruise him […]

Romney’s only purpose now is to keep driving Sen. McCain’s negatives up.

The emphasis is ours, all ours.

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“An interview with John McCutcheon, a state consultant for Mitt Romney, made clear why he is expected to win easily,” writes the estimable Michael Luo for the Caucus, The NYT Political blog, in a post titled Romney at the West Virginia Convention

[Credit: Kavon W. Nikrad]

“We have had the only organizational presence in West Virginia to speak of,” said John McCutcheon, a state consultant for Mr. Romney. “It’s all Romney all the time.”

Mr. McCutcheon, who has been working with Mr. Romney since 2006, when he had only a national political action committee. The campaign’s field director, Wendy McCuskey, was hired over the summer. In all, the campaign has three paid people in the state, along with hundreds of volunteers.

Early on, the campaign had believed West Virginia might be one of the early voting states before Feb. 5. Even after it became clear that would not happen, the campaign still poured out significant resources in the state.

Mr. McCutcheon described an ambitious county-by-county ground operation, complete with phone-banking, direct mail and radio advertisements, compared to only modest efforts made by all the other candidates.

“Any presence that has come in has been last minute and skeletal,” he said about the other campaigns […]

Yet Romney’s investment was all for naught. Romney got out-maneuvered by his under-funded rivals. Romney’s response? A burst of rage in the form of a press release:

Campaign Manager Beth Myers On The West Virginia Convention

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Kevin Madden (857) 288-****

Boston, MA – Today, Romney for President Campaign Manager Beth Myers issued the following statement regarding the outcome of West Virginia’s Republican Party convention:

“Unfortunately, this is what Senator McCain’s inside Washington ways look like: he cut a backroom deal with the tax-and-spend candidate he thought could best stop Governor Romney’s campaign of conservative change.

“Governor Romney had enough respect for the Republican voters of West Virginia to make an appeal to them about the future of the party based on issues. This is why he led on today’s first ballot. Sadly, Senator McCain cut a Washington backroom deal in a way that once again underscores his legacy of working against Republicans who are interested in championing conservative policies and rebuilding the party.”

Yuh-huh. Note the anger. Note the name-calling. Note to Romney: This is the price you pay for alienating the other candidates. See:

how friend and foe alike make careful note of Romney’s duplicity—on Santorum’s endorsement of Willard Milton Romney, where we discuss the “I hate Romney club”

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dr. g.d.

ATLANTA — Mitt Romney is leading a citizen revolution, or at least that is what he has been telling people these last few days as he has tries to right his bid for the Republican nomination,” writes the estimable Michael Luo in a NYT article titled Meet the New Mitt Romney, the Anti-Insider Populist

It may seem an unlikely role for a PowerPoint-loving, buttoned-down multimillionaire, but there Mr. Romney was, on stage Monday here in his starched white shirt and tie, raising his voice to be heard above the crowd and portraying himself as the anti-establishment insurgent.

“It’s time for the politicians to go and the citizens to come into Washington!” he said, drawing a roar from the several hundred gathered at his feet […]

[…] It was in New Hampshire that he settled on a theme about Washington’s being broken and his ability to bring change.

But with Mr. McCain now threatening to run away with the nomination, Mr. Romney has melded the old with the new, lobbing conservative grenades once again while talking about change. His latest script is calculated to sound the alarm over the prospect of Mr. McCain as the Republican nominee.

“In our party right now, there’s a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” he said, addressing an enthusiastic audience on Sunday at a community college in Glen Ellyn, Ill., a rock-ribbed Republican suburb of Chicago. “Which way are we going to go? Are we going to take a sharp left turn in our party, get as close as we can to Hillary Clinton, without being Hillary Clinton?” […]

[…] Conservative commentators, including Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, have thrown their support behind him or sharply criticized Mr. McCain, something that Mr. Romney now regularly cites.

Their influence, he said, helped lead him to victory in the Maine caucuses over the weekend.

“All the power structure was behind him,” Mr. Romney said in Glen Ellyn, in reference to Mr. McCain. “But you know what? Conservative voices on talk radio and news magazines, they got behind me and said, ‘This guy Romney’s the guy’ ” […]

[…] Mr. Romney has been making more of an effort to cultivate the news media as part of his refashioned candidacy. When he sauntered back onto a flight on Saturday, he broke the ice with an unusual remark.

“What did they say in ‘Star Wars?’ ” he asked. “What’s that line? ‘There’s nothing happening here. These droids aren’t the droids you’re looking for.’ ”

Eric Fehrnstrom, his traveling press secretary, said it had actually been rendered: “These are not the droids you are looking for.”

“These are not the droids you’re looking for,” Mr. Romney said. “Sorry” […]

Smooth.

So why has Romney suddenly recast himself from android data-cruncher, problem-solver into an outraged everyman Howard Beale figure? Bryan Dumont, a guest contributer to Virtual Vantage Points offers us a clue. His conclusions are based on an APCO World Wide emotional factors analysis of the GOP and Democratic candidates. Says Dumont:

[…] On the Republican side, McCain has a stronger link with voters on all the nine emotional dimensions essential to building a strong brand relationship. However, he has a slightly weaker link on Approachability, relative to other key emotional factors. Compared to other emotional dimensions, Huckabee’s key emotional strength is building a sense of Identification with Republican voters. Meanwhile, the Emotional Factor tool indicates that Republican voters have yet to connect to Romney on an emotional level. He falls far behind all of the other Republican candidates on every emotional dimension […]

From the APCO study itself:

[…] Gov. Mitt Romney has the weakest emotional connection with GOP voters overall. Romney is also building weaker emotional links with his supporters than the other candidates are with their supporters. Our study indicates that Romney has a particular vulnerability on Warmth—described as a sense of personal admiration and fondness […]

[…] All of the nine emotional dimensions are fairly equal in their impact in driving voters’ candidate preferences. However, among both Democratic and Republican likely voters, Relevance is the most important emotional driver. Building a sense that the candidate “fits who I am” and “speaks to me” is the most important emotional link in driving voter choice; while Approachability and Familiarity are less decisive. Republican voters are slightly more driven by Pride in their candidates than Democratic voters as a deciding factor in how to vote […]

The emphases are ours, all ours.

Comment: Yuh-huh. So Romney’s “anti-insider populism” is Romney’s absurdist, fantasy-land solution to the problem of how to develop an emotional connection with voters. It is a play for Relevance, however misguided. This is beyond farce. This is risible on its face. This is vanity politics.

Oh, and by the way, according to Wonkosphere, Romney has dropped to less than half of Sen. John McCain’s buzz share on the very eve of super-duper apocalypse Tuesday.

Romney descends to 12; Sen. McCain remains steady at 30.

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dr. g.d.

[…] “Lots of talk in the media about McCain vs. The Mighty Wombats of Talk Radio,” writes the insipid Richelieu in an insipid Campaign Standard blog burst titled Richelieu: Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene

Ask President Tancredo about that one. The talkers can raise an issue to prominence, they can entertain, but they do not really deliver actual votes. Sorry Rush […]

That should be “Sorry Romney.

Still, however, Romney wants to capitalize on the new love radiating from talk radio

[…] “It might be preaching to the choir, but the members of this choir are precisely the people Mitt Romney needs to stop John McCain from getting a stranglehold on the Republican nomination on Super Tuesday,” writes the estimable Foon Rhee, deputy national political editor, ina http://www.boston.com blog burst titled Romney puts ad on Limbaugh show

Romney aired an ad today on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show that excoriates McCain’s record on taxes and immigration.

“John McCain, he’s been in Washington a long time,” the announcer says, before the ad cites conservative commentators and the National Review.

Limbaugh, while not explicitly endorsing Romney, has been warning his listeners for weeks that McCain’s nomination would destroy the Republican Party. He repeated those warnings again today. Romney and McCain have been sparring over who is the true conservative […]

The always a little baffled and befuddled Ed Morrissey laments what he foresees as a growing rift between the media figure of the right-wing shock jock and the Republican Party:

[…] But this showdown isn’t just about the media. It looks like the first really open GOP primary in decades will test a couple of widespread assumptions. First, does conservative talk radio have the influence that many presume to impact an election? Second, if it does not, what will that say about the future of conservative talk radio?

The answer to the first question will, I think, demonstrate that listeners have never been the monolithic, Clone Army style force that its critics presume. While they appreciate and enjoy the programs, listeners think for themselves. Anyone who spends any time at all listening knows the diversity of opinion unleashed through the call-in lines. Having spent time behind the mike as Hugh’s replacement on occasion, I can tell you that the callers are smart, informed, and sometimes have a much different opinion than me or Hugh.

So the answer to the second question follows from there. People will continue to listen to talk radio as they always have — for entertainment, information, and debate. The hosts will influence the opinions of the listeners, but they’re independent and will go their own way.

I expect that the hosts will change some minds before Tuesday. I expect the endorsements of the party’s establishment figures to do the same. In the end, most of the voters will make their decision based on their own logic, as they usually do. However, there will be one part of the showdown that may not survive, and that is the affinity of the conservative hosts for the Republican Party as an entity for conservative values. For that, High Noon has been a long time coming, and a McCain win may have some activists feeling very forsaken […]

We grieve for those forsaken activists. We truly do.

Morrissey does understand the distinction between the activities of corporate content providers and the task of political parties, right?—the one is not the propaganda arm of the other. And if the one—or elements among the one—elect to promote a faction within the GOP at the expense of a governing coalition, then it deserves whatever it gets. The party is not the movement; the movement is not the party. And talk radio is neither party nor movement; it is information, entertainment, and opinion provided by organizations whose business is business.

Our prediction: our brothers and sisters in talk radio will soon learn why journalists and other media figures cherish the integrity that a sense of independence confers on them.

Meanwhile, Michael Graham of the NRO muses on the Sen. John McCain nomination that hasn’t happened yet, and answers the question that Morissey never posed but should have:

[…] John McCain didn’t win this nomination. Everyone else lost it. Mitt Romney had every chance — and then some — to win this nomination. He campaigned hard, and with lots of money, in every key primary state. And in every key state where his father never served as governor, he lost. He came, he saw (and was seen), and he got 31% of the vote. He wasn’t defeated by McCain. He’s just a mediocre candidate” […]

This isn’t about talk radio. Nor should it ever have been. This is not even about the conservative movement. Note to Morrissey: Romney is not the conservative movement. The conservative movement is not Romney. Conservatism is for Romney a means to an end and that end is power.

This is, and has always been, about Romney, a surpassingly mediocre candidate.

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dr. g.d.

“MINNEAPOLIS — Republican hopeful Mitt Romney said Sunday he was counting on the ‘voices of conservatism’ and a non-binding caucus in Maine to propel him to within fighting distance of frontrunner Sen. John McCain, who has opened a double-digit lead in polls before Tuesday’s pivotal votes,” writes Andrea Stone in a USA Today article titled Romney courts ‘voices of conservatism’

Speaking on ABC’s This Week, Romney said his win in Maine “shocked” McCain, who had been endorsed by the state’s senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both widely viewed as moderate Republicans. The results showed Republicans were “staying in the house that Reagan built,” Romney said.Romney reiterated a litany of McCain positions he says are out of the mainstream of their party, including votes against drilling for oil in the Arctic preserve and President Bush’s tax cuts and for campaign finance bills and “amnesty” for illegal immigrants.

Asked about the McCain campaign accusations that he has changed positions on issues such as a 50-cents-a-gallon gas tax that Romney now rails against at campaign stops, the former Massachusetts governor rejected what have now become familiar charges of flip-slopping.

“They have stretched, twisted and completely walked away from the truth,” Romney said […]

Truth? Just what is the truth to a person like Romney?

Here is the problem for Romney: Romney’s icy-cold persona and ultra-high negatives cannot support a negative message. Romney’s own poll numbers crash whenever he does so. Yet here is, again, in person, attempting to slime McCain at the expense of whatever slim chances the GOP may have had in November against Senators Clinton or Obama.

Rasmussen Reports: Romney has the least core support, and the most core opposition of all the leading candidates, Republican or Democrat—these findings predict the sudden and fierce backlash against Romney’s negative attacks on other candidates

Say for the sake of argument that Romney succeeds in driving up Sen. McCain’s negatives to the point that Sen. McCain is no longer viable. History would predict that the result would be equally disastrous for Romney. This is because whenever Romney lurches to the right, he alienates the very moderates and independents that comprise Sen. McCain’s coalition of voters. Yet Romney will need those very voters—voters Romney has ridiculed for not being real Republicans—in the general election. See:

Romney outflanks himself yet again!–poll indicates Romney’s pull to the right alienates independents, centrists, and moderates

In other words Romney’s fight is not with Sen. McCain. Romney’s fight is with the GOP itself.

[…] While McCain has racked up endorsements from governors and other high-profile Republicans on a wholesale basis since his Florida victory, the conservative commentariat of radio and TV have rallied to Romney. Long-time fan Rush Limbaugh was joined this week by Fox News personality Sean Hannity and right-leaning radio talkers Laura Ingraham and Lars Larson. Conservative commentator Ann Coulter went so far this week to say that if McCain, who has angered conservatives with his stands on immigration, taxes and other issues, were the GOP nominee, she would vote for Sen. Hillary Clinton.

” I don’t think you can buy as much advertising” as radio talk show hosts have provided for free, he said […]

Not entirely for free. Romney’s Bain Capital acquired Clear Channel—the carrier of conservative “voices” like Rush Limbaugh—over a year ago.

The price tag was more like US$26.7 billion.

And the effectiveness of the sale is, at least to date, still in doubt. See:

Here is yet another take on Romney’s sudden bout of Tourette’s syndrome

[…] “ROMNEY ON TW. Mitt Romney came out with guns blazing, accusing John McCain of trying to characterize his positions while he characterized McCain’s,” writes Mark Kilmer in a http://www.redstate.com blog burst titled The Sunday Morning Talk Shows—The Review

Romney said he was winning the “battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” the “house Reagan built.” (He’s still invoking Reagan.) Romney boasted of the conservative commentators “coming out for me in record numbers.” Which begs the question, what is the old record which he claims to be breaking? Also, how many of these commentators are supporting him and how many are trying to flex their muscles concerning McCain?

Romney pointed out that McCain’s positions on ANWR, BCRA, immigration, and global warming “cause many conservatives to rally to my camp.” Is this a big Romney rally or a STOP MCCAIN fest?

Romney did allow that he and McCain agree on Iraq. (But he moved to McCain’s position, not v/v.)

Wallace asked Romney about his support for a cap and trade program to reduce carbon emissions, and Romney accused McCain of twisting his position around. Yes, though, he said that he did support cap and trade.

Romney launched waves of attacks into McCain and McCain’s positions as characterized by Romney.

This was Romney knowing that the numbers do not look good for him right now trying to draw sharp distinctions between his rival and himself. It would have worked better, I think, if he could have focused on a few areas at a time, rather than a general broadside, but time is short. We’ll see how this plays on Tuesday […]

[…] ROMNEY ON CNN. Mitt Romney was Wolf Blitzer’s first guest on CNN’s Late Edition this morning; Romney was in Minnesota. Blitzer pointed out that McCain blames Romney for the nastiness in this campaign. Romney said that he attacks only on issues, while McCain got personal in Florida. He said that he was not going to talk about that. (Romney’s stance vis-à-vis the surge is oriented toward an issue. Romney promised that he would keep mentioning that John McCain had repeated reports that Romney had talked of a timetable for withdrawal.)

Romney said that McCain’s “lack of understanding of the economy” was bad for the country, adding that we have to have someone who has had a real job in the private sector in the Oval Office. (That is a personal attack on the former chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.)

Romney belittled “reaching across the aisle” and “making political deals.” He said that he is a man of action, of getting things done.

Comment: Say what!? How does one “get things done” if one sorely lacks the political skill necessary to build coalitions? For more on this melancholy theme see:

Why do only 3 out 22 Republican governors support Romney?—yet more evidence of Romney’s incompetence and lack of political skill

Back to Kilmer:

Romney said that McCain-Feingold hurt the Republican Party (it didn’t) and McCain-Kennedy granted amnesty to oodles of illegals (it didn’t even pass). He said that the Florida primary was close, “only a few points.” (Five points is a big win.) He said that conservatives were rallying behind him as a way to stop John McCain, which is why he won the uncontested caucuses in Maine at which no delegates were awarded. (Maine is a bastion of conservatism, electing Senators Collins and Snowe, both of whom endorsed John McCain after co-chairing his exploratory committee last year.)

Blitzer pointed out that polls show McCain beating Hillary and Obama with Romney losing. Romney claimed that the polls swing wildly.

Romney repeated that with our economy “struggling,” we need to elect someone who has held a “real job.” He compared himself again to Ronald Reagan […]

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dr. g.d.

[…] “Operating in survival mode, Mr. Romney’s circle of advisers has come up with a detailed road map to try to salvage his campaign,” writes Michael Luo in a NYT article titled Romney Maps a Strategy for Survival

The plan is complete with a new infusion of cash from Mr. Romney, a long-term strategy intended to turn the campaign into a protracted delegate fight and a reframing of the race as a one-on-one battle for the future of the party that seeks to sound the alarm among conservatives about Mr. McCain.

The advisers have drawn up a list of states, dividing and ranking them into those considered relatively easy and inexpensive targets, along with a broader grouping of more costly battlegrounds where the advisers hope that Mr. Romney can be competitive.

Some states like Arizona and Arkansas, the home states of Mr. McCain and Mike Huckabee, respectively, are largely written off.

The question is whether the planning, along with the campaign’s one trump card, the candidate’s vast wealth, can overcome the growing sense of inevitability that has begun to attach itself to Mr. McCain.

Complicating the outlook, Mr. Romney’s campaign has been racked by infighting over advertising strategy between some senior advisers, including some consultants who joined the campaign after leaving Mr. McCain’s […]

[…] The most serious obstacle in many places is Mr. Huckabee, who continues to pull social conservative voters from Mr. Romney.

“The more the Romney strategy hinges on picking up red states, the bigger a factor Mike Huckabee is going to be,” Mr. Harris said […]

Only Romney precluded the possibility of ever reaching out to Gov. Huckabee voters when he went viciously negative against the candidate so many, many moons ago.

But here would be a positive development for Romney. Romney’s anger may have turned on Team Romney itself. Romney may finally be thinking over whether his own organization is the cause of many of his woes.

[…] “The day after Feb. 5, Mr. Romney said he anticipated he would begin reviewing with his campaign team what states to go to next, as well as the budget. Mr. Romney seemed to allude to the possibility of downsizing his staff after Feb. 5,” writes Michael Luo in another NYT article, this time titled Romney Vows to Push on Past Tuesday

Yes. Only Romney may be pushing on past Tuesday with fewer of his hirelings and hangers-on to attend him.

“I mean, we have a very substantial staff, as you know, not what’s here but back in Boston,” he said. “And we had a big staff in Iowa, Florida, New Hampshire. That’s a much larger staff than you have as you go on to these subsequent primaries, so who are the people needed, where are we going to need them, what’s the campaign budget going to look like, all of those things.”

In typical Romney fashion the hapless candidate turned and flatly denied what he had just stated.

But then when pressed about the issue during a news conference in Minneapolis, he said there had been no discussions about downsizing […]

But note what Romney said: “There had been no discussions”—does Romney mean that no one among his staff had discussed the issue of downsizing?—so was Romney riffing with reporters about plans he is developing independent of the candidate’s spectacularly ineffective personnel? Recall: This is the same lavishly funded and superbly equipped organization that delivered Romney Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, and other humiliating defeats.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“With a commanding lead in most super Tuesday states GOP frontrunner John MCCain is looking for a put away punch in Mitt Romney’s homestate of Massachusetts,” writes Carl Cameron in a FoxNews.com Cameron’s Corner blog burst titled McCain tries to put Mitt away in Massachusetts; McCAIN PLAYS TO DEFEAT MITT ONCE AND FOR ALL IN MASSACHUSETTS

McCain hopes to win a big majority of the 1,023 nomination delegates that are up for grabs in the 21 states that have contests 2/5 (there are 15 primaries, 5 caucuses and 1 state convention, Ten of the races are winner take all) But Romney has signaled that may not push him out of the race.The McCain campaign believes beating Romney “in the state where people know him best” would be a decisive blow that would force Romney to reconsider and ultimately withdraw.

As FOX was first to report Wednesday, McCain plans to watch the Super Bowl and campaign in Boston!! Sunday night and Monday morning […]

On the other hand, the MA GOP are “rallying for Romney!”

“BOSTON—Former Gov. Weld and former Lieutenant Gov. Kerry Healey are among the prominent Massachusetts Republicans supporting Mitt Romney’s presidential bid,” writes some anonymous somebody in a boston.com release titled Massachusetts Republican leaders stick by Romney

The former governor also has the support of two state senators and 18 of the state’s 19 GOP representatives.

Other notables supporting Romney include district attorneys Tim Cruz, Michael O’Keefe and Elizabeth Scheibel […]

Romney for his part has vowed to fight on past super-duper apocalypse Tuesday:

“MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. — Though he once expected to have the Republican nomination nearly locked up by now, Mitt Romney said that he’s now ready to hunker down for the long haul,” writes Scott Conroy for cbsnews.com in a From the Road blog burst titled Romney: GOP Race Won’t Be Decided On Tuesday

“Looking at the numbers of delegates and the numbers of states, I don’t think somebody’s going to walk away with the needed numbers, so I think this thing goes on well beyond Tuesday,” Romney said at an impromptu press conference aboard his campaign plane. “I don’t look early at the calendar beyond Tuesday, but I know there is one, and I intend to keep on battling.”

Although he lags behind John McCain in many of the delegate-rich states that vote on Tuesday, Romney said he was heartened by the recent coalescing of support he’s received from influential conservative talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham […]

Yes, well, about Limbaugh, Coulter, and Ingraham, Ruffini writes:

[…] There is a message in these returns to conservatives busy soldering together the coalition below decks: do not assume that just because they’re all pro-life, that Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham speak for the social conservatives Romney needs next Tuesday. They don’t. Being pro-life and pro-marriage is not enough […]

[…] It’s instructive to study how George W. Bush united the conservative coalition eight years ago. He did so not as a Mitt Romney Republican but as a Mike Huckabee Republican. The only thing Bush offered fiscal conservatives was tax cuts. The rest was Catholic social thought. Say what you will about him, but Bush has never gone squishy on a single social issue in eight years. But has gone wobbly on fiscal issues, leading to a revolt in the conservative establishment. As Bush knew, and as we are re-learning with the rise of John McCain and the intransigence of Mike Huckabee’s base, fiscal conservatism is where the opinion leaders are, and social conservatism is where the votes are […]

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“The Romney campaign’s February 5th math is simple: move all the voters from the Huckabee pile onto theirs and claim a majority of conservatives,” writes the estimable Patrick Ruffini, an “Ex-Bush aide/Giuliani aide/current Romney endorser,” as described by Marc Ambinder, in a blog burst titled Intransigent Huck Voters

Unfortunately, continues Ruffini, it’s just not that simple.

In the South — still more delegate-rich per capita than NY, CA, NJ, IL, etc. — the “conservative” vote, defined as Romney + Huckabee, is splitting down the middle. Most polls down South look like McCain 30, Huckabee 25, Romney 25. We’ve seen how this played out in South Carolina, except there it was establishment conservatives refusing to take the advice that they play ball with Huckabee to strengthen their hand in Florida. We also saw it in rural northern Florida, where in many cases it was a three man race (and often a two man race between McCain and Huck).

The problem with this analysis is that I’ve seen no evidence that Huckabee voters would go to Romney. On a county level, the Romney and Huckabee votes are negatively correlated, with Romney representing the conservative side of the Chamber of Commerce/Rotary Club vote and not really showing outsized strength with Evangelicals […]

[…] There is a message in these returns to conservatives busy soldering together the coalition below decks: do not assume that just because they’re all pro-life, that Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham speak for the social conservatives Romney needs next Tuesday. They don’t. Being pro-life and pro-marriage is not enough. To understand what Huckabee voters want, you need to actually appreciate what Mike Huckabee brings to the table, which is an emphasis on faith, undiluted. Many conservatives, particularly those around here, do not. While many of us agree on the social issues, the conservative establishment resented how he injected his religion into the campaign. Never have I seen conservatives so readily repeat the Barry Lynn/ACLU line on the “wall” between church and state.

It’s instructive to study how George W. Bush united the conservative coalition eight years ago. He did so not as a Mitt Romney Republican but as a Mike Huckabee Republican. The only thing Bush offered fiscal conservatives was tax cuts. The rest was Catholic social thought. Say what you will about him, but Bush has never gone squishy on a single social issue in eight years. But has gone wobbly on fiscal issues, leading to a revolt in the conservative establishment. As Bush knew, and as we are re-learning with the rise of John McCain and the intransigence of Mike Huckabee’s base, fiscal conservatism is where the opinion leaders are, and social conservatism is where the votes are.

Mitt Romney is trying to unify the party as a business guy from Belmont who is culturally as far removed from Suwannee County, Florida as you can get. He’s going about it very clinically: vote for me because I’m not McCain. But I’m not sure that message holds much sway with an audience that takes its cues from Christian radio not News/Talk and certainly not National Review. And notice his message: it’s all about the economy, and nothing about Life and only a little bit about marriage. Christian voters have noticed.

Romney is pinning his hopes on brining in the social “leg of the stool.” But though they’re not wild about McCain, I’d venture that a plurality of these voters would rank Romney third […]

[…] Specifically, it seems to me that the conservative establishment’s decision to go nuclear first on Huckabee (who never had a shot but speaks for voters we need in November) before McCain (who always had a shot but speaks mostly for himself) will rank as a pretty serious strategic blunder […]

We concur. Only it was Romney went nuclear on Gov. Huckabee, and at great cost. See:

Marc Ambinder comments on Ruffini’s analysis in a blog burst titled Republican Coalition Politics

[…] Left unasked is precisely why the establishment felt more threatened by Mike Huckabee that it did by even John McCain. And not just the pro-business, anti-tax wing of the professional conservative establishment: the faith wing, too, from the Family Research Council to various members of the Arlington Group who cast their lot with Fred Thompson, a conservative, to be sure, but someone of an undefined protestant faith who didn’t seem to go to church much.

My theory — and it remains a theory — is that Huckabee threatened these interests so much because he never depended on them in the past and would never depend on them in the future. In the sense that these interests mediated between leaders and rank-and-file conservatives, Huckabee was able to bypass the mediators and speak directly to faith voters — the hard core corps of moral conservatives who tend to compromise about 20 to 35% of any given electorate, more so in the South and Midwest […]

Only now it begins to dawn on Republicans just how much damage Tribe Romney has done to the base.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.





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