Posts Tagged ‘Ames’

“While Romney’s favorable rating is the same as it was earlier this month, his unfavorable rating has increased and is now at its highest point to date (35%),” write the estimable team of Frank Newport and Joseph Carroll in a report aptly titled GOP Update: McCain Gains While Romney Fades

Romney’s ratings had improved following his win in the Iowa straw poll in August, after which 33% rated him positively and 24% negatively. Since then, his ratings have quickly deteriorated. Romney now has a net negative image in the eyes of Americans (27% favorable, 35% unfavorable), as was the case in several polls this summermore [emphasis ours]

This has not gone unnoticed at Team Romney’s tony waterfront headquarters:

David S. Broder describes the fuhrerbunker-like gloom that hangs over the waterfront headquarters of a besieged Team Romney

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[New Gallup poll data suggest that] Minor gains by John McCain have solidified his position as a very solid number 3, now way ahead of ahead of Mitt Romney. Actually, McCain is now within 4 points of Thompson, writes the estimable Frank Newport in a USA TODAY Gallup Guru post appropriately titled McCain gains, Romney continues to fade.

Romney’s stock has faded since his mini-bounce following the August Iowa straw poll. (Does this mean that the immediate impact of a Romney victory in Iowa or New Hampshire might also fade?)

Bottom line: This race at the moment is back to the point where it has three leading candidates: Giuliani, Thompson, and McCain, in that ordermore

Just so. Aron Goldman posts the same Gallup numbers to MetroRepublican comments on the polling: Romney second tier! We heartily concur.

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“BERLIN, N.H. (AP) — Mitt Romney said Friday that presidential rivals Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee need to raise a jaw-dropping $20 million in the next few months to join him in the top tier of the Republican GOP field, raising the stakes in a nomination fight altered by a tumultuous week,” reports the estimable and precise Ron Fournier in a story titled Romney Ups Stakes for Volatile GOP Field.

Feeling the heat of his rivals, the former Massachusetts governor dismissed the notion that a late-entering Thompson and an up-and-coming Huckabee were poised to squeeze into the GOP top tier now occupied by Romney and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

“I think you’re going to have to see what level of ground support that they have and what level of fundraising they have,” Romney said in an interview with The Associated Press. “If Huckabee raises $20 million this quarter, like we did in the (first) quarter, then he’ll become a front-tier candidate.”

“And I think from Thompson’s standpoint, I think he certainly has to look at $20 million as sort of the — this is, if you will, the low hanging-fruit quarter for him,” Romney said, adding that it’s easier to raise money in the first weeks of a race when friends, family and allies are tapped.

Romney was trying to raise expectations. His $20 million challenge assumes that Thompson and Huckabee would need as much money to compete in the final four months of the race as Romney needed to jump-start and sustain a yearlong bid.

That may be a false assumption more

Yet this assumption is a frequent Romney trope, one uttered not just by the candidate but by his many flaks, flunkies, and flatterers. See:

Romney supporter: the White House is for sale, and Romney has the money to buy it

We would argue—pro Fournier—that the assumption is indeed false. Consider: Romney’s campaign is US$9,000,000.00 in the red, yet the candidate remains viable owing to his vast, personal fortune. So while it matters how much money you can raise, it matters less in Romney’s case, as he can, and often does, write his own checks. See:

Romney has funded, staffed and organized his campaign akin to an independent candidate, e.g. Ross Perot. He operates largely independently of GOP sources of funding, organization, and support. See:

Gronke asks: “will Mitt Romney be the John Connally of our age?”

Pro Fournier, what matters as much as the money you can raise—or in Romney’s case, the money that you simply have on hand because you happen to be fabulously wealthy owing to accidents of birth, class, and opportunity—is the relative spending power of your dollars—Romney’s campaign suffers from a frighteningly low, and growing ever lower, marginal return on investment. EXAMPLE: Romney spent upwards of US$500.00 for every vote he got at Ames; Huckabee spent US$58.00 for only marginally fewer votes. Also see:

Back to the article:

Thompson, Huckabee and a crowded field of fellow Republicans — including the not-to-be-underestimated John McCain — argue that momentum is as important as money in the post-Labor Day push.

Thompson — a former lobbyist, senator and actor — announced his candidacy this week and hopes a cascade of attention carries him past longer-running candidates just as voters are starting to pay attention.

“Money may be the primary rationale of Mitt Romney’s campaign, but the rest of us know this election is about ideas and who has the best conservative message,” said Thompson spokesman Todd Harris. “Fortunately for us that is something money can’t buy” … more

… [Romney] is an able campaigner. What he lacks in charisma he tries to make up with an almost robotic discipline.

He can come off as a bit cold, as he did during the debate when he dispassionately apologized to a man offended by Romney’s comparison of those serving in Iraq to his son’s work on his presidential campaign.

In Conway, N.H., Romney claimed credit for reducing mercury levels in Massachusetts and struggled to remember the exact percentage of the drop.

“Was it 90 percent?” he said, scanning the crowd for aide Eric Fehrnstrom.

“I don’t know the percentages, governor,” the aide replied loud enough for the crowd to here, “but you reduced mercury emissions from the smokestack industries and also reduced mercury pollution in the environment.”

Romney beamed. “Isn’t this great? I’ve got a verifier over here. So we went after mercury …”

As so happens, Romney enacted anti-mercury regulations initiated by his Republican predecessormore [emphasis ours]

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P.S. Here is Kilmer of’s apt and appropriate rejoinder to Romney’s absurd and arrogant claim that to be considered top tier, a candidate needs to raise US$20,000,000.00:

Mitt Romney has a point, in that Huckabee and Thompson will need to raise money to compete for the nomination; that being said, much of Romney’s money has been spent piddling around, building an organization and chasing after telephone poll results and pay-per-play straw poll fundraisers.

Kilmer’s point is redolent of ours. Yes, Romney has funds. But he has no idea how to spend them efficiently or effectively.

Thompson at least has avoided this early nonsense, with Huckabee keeping his spending to relatively reasonable levels. What all candidates – Rudy, Thompson, Huckabee, and Romney – need right now is enough money to keep the message alive in the minds of the voters and to generate excitement. Huckabee seems now to be creating a modicum of excitement, and Thompson has a vast potential for doing it. Giuliani seems not to need to do so, and Romney has shown so far that he cannot generate excitement. This would mean, if it be the case, that Romney would need to spend more money in this endeavor than would Thompson more [emphasis ours]

Just so. Rule of thumb: a Romney campaign dollar—based on Romney’s low-gain performance so far—is worth about 20% of an e.g.  Giuliani or Huckabee campaign dollar. So: to remain competitive with Romney in any US media market, a competent campaigner would only need about US$5,000,000.00. In a Southern state they would probably need significantly less—they would probably need to simply not be Romney.

Moral: The other candidates have demonstrated that they can do far more with far less than Romney.

This is leadership? No. This is management by checkbook, and not even sound management. Read about it here.

This is a pattern for Romney. See: [Romney] has spent $32 million for eight Gallup points

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In a web log post titled Is David Brooks onto something? someone named PQuincy writes:

In his op-ed this Friday (behind the NYT firewall), Brooks swoons over Mitt Romney’s intelligence in private conversations, contrasting it with Romney’s public stance as a doctrinaire social conservative. He notes that the Republican primary electorate has in fact become both more conservative (self-described) and older, and suggests that Romney’s public stance is simply a matter of winning the primary. And then, Brooks slips in a aside that does make me wonder if, just maybe, he’s started to worry about the pony he’s hitched his cart to.

Here’s what he says:

“(Why do the Democratic candidates pretend to be smarter than they really are, while the Republicans pretend to be dumber?)”

Ummmm….David, maybe it’s because Democratic voters actually value intelligence in their elected leadership? … more

Aside: then why do Democrats nominate, and often elect, blithering idiots?

Quincy’s reading of Brooks is consonant with other readings; e.g. slavish Romney sycophant Jim Geraghty of the formerly conservative NRO quotes the same Brooks issuing paens to how Romney will “open up new “vista[s] of how government might operate.” See:

Romney abandons conservative line; reverts to previous line

E.J. Dionne Jr. concurs; he nearly swoons about what he describes as Romney resisting the “conservative orthodoxy.” See:

the Romney message in total flux—where is the real Romney amidst all the obfuscation and conflicting testimony?

Publicly Romney assumes the line of a doctrinaire conservative and bristles at questions about the convenient timing of his alleged “conversion.” Privately Romney confides to media figures that his conservative line is a front to win Republican primaries.

Now that the smoke of Ames has cleared and it is clear that the conservative and Evangelical base has balked at Romney’s claims and assertions (see here), what will happen next? Will Romney

(a) Dig in his heels, redouble his efforts to affect a conservative line?


(b) Rush to reclaim a center, center-left position?


(c) Are there other options?

History would predict (a). It has worked for Romney before when he shifted positions (see here). But will what worked for Romney in Massachusetts work for him in Florida or South Carolina?

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Writes the estimable author of

With Brownback and Huckabee being the obvious evangelical picks, it should be noted that their collective total is 4,779 – which exceeds Romney’s.

Most had wondered when the evangelicals would revolt against the Romney, Giuliani, McCain clan more

We predicted this. Please see:

Conclusion from Ames: the Romney electoral von Schlieffen Plan is in tatters. Romney’s right flank remains woefully insecure.

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In a puff piece that borders on a love note, the shameless, although ordinarily sober and reliable Justin Miller of RealClearPolitics holds forth:

More important is tomorrow’s Ames straw poll, where Romney enters as the heavy favorite. If Romney meets expectations with a convincing victory after being attacked on abortion by Sam Brownback, on immigration from Tom Tancredo, and seeing Mike Huckabee gain traction, he can show that his right flank isn’t weak. However, it could still be vulnerable from Fred Thompson or a second-tier candidate that catches fire this fall.

An Ames win reinforces Romney’s position as frontrunner in Iowa and will allow him to focus on two early-voting states where he is weakest: South Carolina and Florida. In the RealClearPolitics’ average, Romney is fourth in South Carolina and tied for third in Florida. In both states he’s more than 15 points from first place. However, Romney finished second in South Carolina and Florida fundraising last quartermore

Call this the Romney electoral von Schlieffen Plan, a lightening strike on 2 fronts to secure the center. On the right he attempts to feign a conservative line; on the cultural front he will attempt to use an Iowa win to leverage gains in SC and FL., difficult states for a dull and ponderous North Easterner to carry.

Alas for Romney but fortunately for the fortunes of our troubled republic, Romney’s inept and indecisive attempt at maneuver has bogged down into grim attrition as he has failed, and failed again, to secure his right flank. See:

And even if Romney takes Iowa, which he will—well, so what? See:

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In a tedious puff piece titled Romney Adapts Business Plan to Politics the formerly estimable—although not in this particular case—Glen Johnson of the AP writes:

That’s not just the plan in Iowa, where Romney had 12 town hall meetings scheduled in the final three days before the poll. His stops Friday included the Iowa State Fair, where he was serving as the Iowa Pork Producers’ “celebrity chef of the day.”

He’s employing the same business model in New Hampshire, where he’s hired veteran GOP strategist Tom Rath; in Florida, where many of former Gov. Jeb Bush’s top aides are in senior positions on his campaign; and in Michigan, where Romney’s father, George, once served as governor and is fondly remembered.

Romney has bombarded Iowa, South Carolina and the other states with television commercials. They are part of an unprecedented $5 million early ad buy — financed with loans from the multimillionaire himself — aimed at boosting his name recognition.

The campaign’s overall strategy is to win in Iowa and New Hampshire and then use the momentum to roll into the Feb. 5 mega-primary in which 20-odd states from California to New York are planning to vote. Romney’s fellow Bay Stater, Democrat John Kerry, won his party’s 2004 presidential nomination in similar fashionmore

Here is the result of the Romney von Schlieffen Plan:

For our commentary on all this useless noise and bustle, see:

Romney the attritionist of Ames—even if he wins, he loses

We ask: whither the storied Romney competence?

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“URBANDALE, Iowa, Aug. 9 — Mitt Romney is undergoing the stiffest test yet of his effort to win over conservatives wary of his ideological credentials,” writes the estimable duo of Nagourney and Luo of the venerable NYT in a story titled Romney Pushed on Conservative Credentials. (The crack journalist Jeff Zeleny contributed to the report from a bomb-proof bunker in Urbandale.)

… In the days leading up to the Iowa Straw Poll in Ames on Saturday, Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, has come under a furious assault from some of his rivals and the powerful network of abortion opponents in this state. He has been pummeled in videos on YouTube, in automated telephone calls, in daily barrages of e-mail to lists of Republican caucus voters and on the airwaves of the state’s conservative talk radio network.

In almost all cases, the attacks are built on the idea that because Mr. Romney became an opponent of abortion rights only relatively recently, he cannot be counted on as a committed social conservative.

“I’m amazed at the number of people who come to the conclusion to be pro-life when it comes time to run for president,” said Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, who is competing against Mr. Romney in the straw poll …

… In an interview, Mr. Huckabee said that should Mr. Romney do well in the straw poll, it would be a mistake to interpret that as evidence that he had overcome conservative wariness about him.

“He’s been able to advertise almost completely unchallenged,” Mr. Huckabee said, citing one way in which Mr. Romney’s fund-raising advantage is helping him. “So I don’t know if voters are going to have much of a contrast. Most of the message voters has seen has been his message.”

For Mr. Romney, the question about his past support for abortion rights has been a persistent problem. Although he has been questioned about his consistency on gay rights, gun control and immigration, abortion is the issue that his opponents have used more than any other to try to plant doubts about principles.

“You’re not going to find a YouTube moment of me where I’m saying something different from what I’ve said before,” Mr. Huckabee told voters in West Des Moines the other night … more [Emphasis ours]

As we predicted, the Romney SUDDEN CONSERVATISM line has become increasingly difficult to sustain. See:

the Romney message in total flux—where is the real Romney amidst all the obfuscation and conflicting testimony?

Further, we agree with Huckabee: Iowa will not decide the issue of Romney’s claim to be a “conservative” candidate.

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Read about it here.

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