Posts Tagged ‘amspec blog’

“1. The national media doesn’t know squat,” writes Jennifer Rubin in a stream-of-consciousness AmSpec blog-burst titled Thoughts

They didn’t get Huckabee’s appeal and mocked him incessently for his admittedly weird presser. In places in which they have no idea and couldn’t care less who Joe Klein is or whether the NY Times thinks Huckabee made a horrible gaffe they really don’t do a very good job of predicting results or interpreting events. And with due modesty, the voters don’t always pay that much more attention to conservative media.

2. People vote for people for president not a list of policy positions or resume points. Obama and Huckabee connect on a very emotional level. We forget that at our peril. (See #1) […]

Also from Rubin:

If figures are correct and Romney spent about $10M then he spent $322.58 per vote for a projected 31,000 votes. By contrast,
Mike Huckabee spent $47.44 per vote for a projected 42,160 votes […]

We would add that the conservative media performed worse than the national media. At this precise historical moment the conservative movements most formidable enemy is the conservative movement.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.


“Huckabee said that Romney is getting desperate, because he finds himself behind in Iowa despite outspending Huckabee 20 to 1,” writes Philip Klein in an AmSpec Blog post titled Huckabee Rips Romney Back

“When people get that far behind after spending that much money, they get desperate,” he said. “Desperate is one thing, dishonest is something else. When you get desperate and dishonest, it’s not a pretty site.”

In another example of the emerging everybody vs. Romney dynamic of the race, Huckabee came to the defense of John McCain, who has been trading barbs with Romney in New Hampshire over an attack ad. “John McCain is a true, honest to god, American hero,” Huckabee said … etc.

We have harped on the string of the Huckabee-McCain axis for weeks. And: we predicted that Romney’s absurd behavior would provoke his rivals to concert their efforts against him.

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

Here is the problem for Romney. Sen. McCain and Gov. Huckabee can hone their message contra Romney to a razor’s edge while each depicts himself as defending the honor of a friend, and each concentrates on their respective state.

Romney, OTOH, alone, alienated, and estranged, is reduced to dispersing his energies and giving the impression of frantic and random attacks in all directions and across 2 states. Hence: Sen. McCain and Gov. Huckabee’s strategy returns more for a minimal investment, and this is why people often cooperate, collaborate, or otherwise combine their labor, because it is efficient and cost effective.

Also: the high drama of 2 under-organized, under-funded, and rogue-candidate underdogs protecting each other’s backs against the superbly well funded slime machine of Team Romney, the establishment favorite, has captured the imaginations of the press corps, which will generate lots of earned media. Note how the NYT carefully reprises Gov. Huckabee’s rationale for his remarks on Romney:

“But it was the new rhetoric on the Republican side of the ticket that drew the fiercest spark, as former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas hurled a barrage of attacks at the credibility of his chief rival here, former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts,” writes JEFF ZELENY and DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK for the NYT in an article titled Courting Iowa’s Undecided Voters With a Late Push

“If a person is dishonest in his approach to get the job, do you believe he will be honest in telling you the truth when he does get the job?” Mr. Huckabee asked voters in Osceola, Iowa.

Mr. Huckabee said he was escalating his criticism in part because of Mr. Romney’s recent disparagements of a third Republican rival, Senator John McCain of Arizona, whom Mr. Huckabee called “an American hero.”

“It is enough to attack me,” Mr. Huckabee said. “But now to attack John McCain, it is like Mitt doesn’t have anything to stand on except to stand against. And I am saying enough is enough” …

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Romney is up with a negative attack ad– taking on Huckabee’s crime record. What this tells me is he is down, and down so big it’s worthwhile to run a no holds barred spot like this, at Christmas no less,” writes Jennifer Rubin in an AmSpec blog post titled What’ s the Non-Christmas Version

The contrast with the Huckabee ad Phil posted on could not be greater. Steffen Schmidt, political guru at Iowa State University, who I asked about the ad says simply that Romney is in “disarray” in Iowa. The danger is that this type of ad, and image of a flailing candidate, affects his chances elsewhere … etc.

You can find the advertisement here.

Note the opening, “two governors, both pro-life, both pro-family”—this must be the most naive, unsophisticated, and transparent instance of what used to be called triangulation—where a campaign draws close to its opponent where he or she is strong, and tries to draw contrasts only where the opponent is vulnerable—in the entire corpus of contemporary campaign advertising. It is as if an undergraduate communications major read about triangulation in a textbook and tried to write a script.

Ben delivers an apt response here.

We concur with Rubin about Romney’s disarray and desperation. Romney’s operatives have squandered US$7 million dollars on the ground in Iowa—have saturated the airwaves with Romney’s voice and image, have organized even down to the county level—yet they cannot guarantee the hapless candidate even a third place finish against rivals with neither money nor organization.

Here is the problem for Romney: Romney’s own ultra-high negatives—far, far higher than Gov. Huckabee’s—and cold, remote personality will not support a negative message without Romney’s own numbers tanking. See:

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

“Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ today that he wept with relief when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Mormon church, announced a 1978 revelation that the priesthood would no longer be denied to persons of African descent,” writes Mike Allen for the Politico in a post titled Mitt wept when church ended discrimination

Romney’s eyes appeared to fill with tears as he discussed the emotional subject during a high-stakes appearance that he handled with no major blunders …… Moderator Tim Russert asked if “it was wrong for your faith to exclude them for as long as it did.”

“I told you exactly where I stand,” Romney said. “My view is that there’s no discrimination in the eyes of God. And I could not have been more pleased than to see the change that occurred” … etc.

A typical Romney-dodge. Note the bold assertion of intention—articulated in the past tense, as if the question had been asked and answered—followed by a flat non-sequitor in the form of an inarguable truism.

Question: What is Romney afraid of? Why can he not simply admit that his church was in error? Does the Mormon confession forbid critical reflection?


… Russert brought up an old issue of Sunstone magazine, a Mormon publication, which said that Romney discussed his possible Presidential run with the ‘man he admires most in the world: Mormon president Gordon Bitner Hinckley.’

Russert asked if voters should be concerned that he was seeking advice from the leader of the Mormon Church. Romney said he made the decision to run by himself and his family. He talked about our nation’s problems and how he had experience outside government, but that he’s happy to get as much advice as he can from anyone he can. He never mentioned the man he most admires …

Romney needs to release his notes from this interview. Note the assonance between the names Willard Milton Romney and Gordon Bitner Hinckley.


“Maybe it was the pressure of the moment. Being under the Tim Russert spotlight can get to anyone,” writes Michael D. Shear in a Wapo The Trail post titled Romney Claims NRA Endorsement He Didn’t Receive

Comment: Russert broke Romney? How odd. He never broke Mayor Giuliani.

Under Russert’s grilling about guns on this morning’s “Meet the Press,” former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney claimed an endorsement he’d never won.

In answer to questions about whether he would sign an assault weapons ban, Romney said: “Just as the president said, he would have, he would have signed that bill if it came to his desk, and so would have I. And, and, and yet I also was pleased to have the support of the NRA when I ran for governor. I sought it, I seek it now. I’d love to have their support.”

Later in the interview, he added the following:

“I just talked about, about guns. I told you what my position was, and what I, what I did as governor; the fact that I received the endorsement of the NRA.”

The problem?

He was never endorsed by the NRA, and didn’t have their official support during his 2002 gubernatorial campaign. The NRA declined to endorse in that race, as was acknowledged by Romney’s spokesman this morning … etc.

Yuh-huh. But the big lie is Romney himself, Romney2.0, as argued by Amspec’s Jen Rubin:

… “One exchange stands out. He was asked about running as a moderate against [Ted] Kennedy. The sequence is long but you can read it for yourself. He repeatedly rejects the ‘premise’ that he ran in 1994 or in 2002 as anything other than a rock ribbed conservative. If you have spent any time studying those races, watching the debates or reading press accounts you know that’s just hooey. Not even Romney claimed at the time to be a conservative…Given the voluminous public record nicely preserved for all of us via Google and YouTube, it’s unclear why he hasn’t been more candid on all of this and just come right out and said: ‘I was trying to get elected in Massachusetts for goodness sakes’ or ‘I really have changed on a bunch of issues in the last few years.’ It is the pretense of consistency that is so unsettling. Does he not remember or he thinks we’re too dim to ‘look it up’?” …

The governing assumption—and essential premise—of Romney’s candidacy is that conservatives are knuckle-dragging rubes.

We hope to prove him wrong.

yours &c
dr. g.d.

“Here’s an interesting one,” writes NRO’s Byron York in a The Corner post titled McCain Attacks Romney’s Attack on Huckabee

The Romney campaign is set to release the first negative ad of the season in Iowa tomorrow – an attack on Mike Huckabee on the immigration issue. Huckabee will certainly respond – and now, he has help from another candidate, John McCain. A few minutes ago, the McCain campaign released a statement from Iowa chairman Dave Roederer denouncing the attack on Huckabee:

News that Mitt Romney will launch a new attack ad tomorrow is another move by a campaign that continues to insult Iowa voters. Iowa families should not be subjected to this negative style of campaigning, especially during the holiday season.

Governor Romney has flip-flopped on several major issues that voters care about. It’s particularly amazing that Governor Romney would attack anyone on immigration when he’s on his third position. John McCain has run an honorable campaign that all Iowans can be proud of. I call on Governor Romney to drop his plans for this negative attack and follow John McCain’s lead. Candidates need to raise the level of the debate, not lower it …

AmSpec blog’s J. Ruben comments:

[York’s NRO post] tells the latest battle of McCain vs. Romney — over the new ad directed at Huckabee. The response by a Romney “supporter”– ” Hey McCain touted Romney in 2002 ” — shows roughly the same level of self-delusion as the “politically incorrect” ad. In 2002 , of course, Romney had yet to reverse himself on abortion, gay rights, gun rights, campaign finance reform, Ronald Reagan, the Bush tax cuts and immigration … etc.

Dear Team Romney, you have a problem. No one fears you. Nor should they. Your negatives are too high, your poll numbers too soft, and your candidate is too icy-cold unlikable to support or sustain a negative message. Hence the instant blowback you experience every single time you try to go negative.

Dear Sen. McCain, Gov. Huckabee et al, please leave Romney alone. Never interfere when your enemies are determined to commit suicide.

Of course we predicted that the other candidates would begin to concert their activities contra Romney:

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

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

… “Frankly this type of article–don’t want to “surprise” people– exemplifies my objection to the roll out and giving of The Speech,” writes Jennifer Rubin in an AmSpec blog post titled, mysteriously, Re: Specifically

By giving into the howls of the mob he has unleashed a ridiculous exploration of the details of his religion (which seems bizarre in a presidential race- did I miss this with Joe Lieberman?), assured 24/7 Mormon coverage( which let’s face it will make some uncomfortable) and ultimately will make The Speech, I think, seem either disappointing or like he was “pulling a fast one” when The Speech itself doesn’t march through Mormon theology.

[Romney] had to market it as the Mormon speech people have been demanding (to satisfy some pundit group and frankly to get the attention he wants) but indications are from him and others that it will be a rather banal discussion generically of faith in America.

I find the whole effort odd in the extreme and irrelevant to the real issues which concern people about Romney, –not his “faith” but his lack of political conviction and the sense that he will say virtually anything to get elected. As to the latter, there is, unfortunately, no speech to cure that ailment” … etc.

The paragraphing is ours. We’re a little baffled by “the whole effort” too. Here is one explanation:

“… So let’s get to the heart of this,” writes of Erick of in a post titled Allow me to express my cynicism about “The Speech”

Why is Romney doing it? Here is my cynical nutshell opinion: Huckabee talking about faith is working. Romney is incapable of doing it. We saw how he reacted to the Bible question in the YouTube debate. How odd it is that Huckabee is starting to be accused of mixing church and state in a Republican primary. A Republican primary. Good grief. Anyone ever hear of George W. Bush? I do believe he once said his favorite philosopher is one Jesus Christ. You might have heard of him. His birthday is coming up.

Unfortunately for Romney, George Bush’s religion talk worked. And Huckabee’s is too. Look again at the RCP Poll average for Iowa. Notice that precipitous fall in Romney’s support corresponding to the rise in Huckabee’s support? I can’t see it either. Huckabee isn’t taking votes from Romney totally. He’s taking them from everybody and he’s pulling in people who think the rest of them, well, not to repeat myself, but they all suck.

So, the super predictable strategy? Try now to take religion off the table. Romney failed to capture those voters, so now we’re hearing hints of bigotry and suggestions that Huckabee is too much of a Jesus freak for American politics … etc.

Contra Rubin, Erick argues that Romney’s speech issues a clear message in response to obvious stimuli. However: the message—that Romney is a naive and inexperienced campaign ingenue supported by a tight-circle flak-claque of political primitives—is not the message Romney intended.

yours &c.
dr. g.d

“Contrary to advice from David Brody, Romney seems not keen at all about describing with any specificity — even any generality — his faith,” reasons Jennifer Rubin in an AmSpec blog post titled Re: Romney’s Speech

This I think is perfectly appropriate under most circumstances but neatly highlights the dilemma he faces. If: 1) he says his faith informs who he is and all he does and 2) his faith is not one most are familiar with (and some are downright uncomfortable with) can he simultaneously say ‘but I’m not going to tell you anything about my faith’? Well sure he can say it, but with such an approach whose minds will he put at ease?” …

Also, Romney’s reversal on the speech issue has accomplished precisely the opposite of what he wanted to accomplish: he has drawn attention to the Mormon tradition, and is rapidly becoming “the Mormon candidate”:

… Given four days to mull this over the press has begun to discuss, even if Romney won’t, the ways in which Mormonism “diverges from conventional Christianity” and the differences between Romney’s and JFK’s situation ( “Kennedy could take for granted that Americans understood Catholicism, whereas few understand Mormonism. And Roman Catholics make up a large portion of the population.”) Perhaps a Sunday announcement for a Tuesday speech would have cut short some of this …. etc.

Well done, Team Romney. Your “speech” has now failed at every single task that was set for it—e.g. to inoculate your candidate against the Mormon issue, to articulate how Romney’s faith informs Romney’s conduct, to provide a rationale for Evangelicals to support Romney—in advance of it ever being delivered.

In the long and boring history of rhetoric, this has to be a first.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

P.S. Way to not control a message, Team Romney!