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PW logo Romney Holds Double-Digit Lead in Florida Huntsman, Paul Battle for Second in New Hampshire
Looking for a Political Job? Romney Struggles to Handle Confrontation
Time is Not on Huntsman's Side Pious Baloney

News from the Votemaster

Romney Survives Debate Unscathed     Permalink

While almost everyone in the country knows that unless Mitt Romney can be yanked off his pedestal fast, he is going to be the Republican nominee for President in 2012, the five other people on stage with him at last night's debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH, haven't gotten the word yet. Romney didn't come under much fire. Instead, the five remaining dwarfs went after each other. For example, Newt Gingrich had a testy exchange with Ron Paul about why Gingrich didn't serve in Vietnam 40 years ago. Gingrich claimed that was because he was married with a child, but Paul retorted that he was married, had two children, and served anyway. Boys and girls, the country has a lot of problems and figuring out precisely how Gingrich escaped the draft isn't going to solve them. Paul also went after Rick Santorum for being a big spender. Santorum shot back that he was a conservative, not a libertarian, and he believed in some government. There was lots of this back and forth but nobody laid a hand on Romney. This was the chance for Romney's rivals to take him down a peg or two but they not only failed, they didn't even try. It is as if each one thinks he will at least get a silver medal if he comes in second. But that is not how it works.

This should have been Jon Huntsman's moment. He has basically lived in New Hampshire for nearly a year, much as Rick Santorum moved to Iowa. So far, Huntsman has little to show for his efforts, but maybe he will pull off a surprise upset in Tuesday's primary, but so far he hasn't budged from the low single digits in the polls. Of course, the voters of New Hampshire love to surprise people. In 2008, all the polls showed Barack Obama with a huge lead over Hillary Clinton the weekend before the primary there, but in the end, she won and saved her campaign for a few months. Maybe Huntsman can pull a rabbit out of his hat Tuesday, but so far, the odds are in favor of a rabbit-free Tuesday. About the only noteworthy thing Huntsman has done of late is whine about the debate format not being fair (the higher your poll standing, the closer to center stage you are). He would prefer placement by random drawing. The odd thing about Huntsman is that he is kind of a Romney clone without the drawbacks. He is a former governor, has conservative positions on most issues, is personally very wealthy, and looks like a president. But unlike Romney, he has never flipped or flopped on the issues and has never supported an individual mandate requiring people to buy health insurance. The rap against him is that he believes in science and served as U.S. ambassador to China. In any other country, believing in science and having major foreign policy expertise would not disqualify you from high office, even in the most conservative party.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it     Permalink

George Santayana's famous aphorism is as true now as when he said it. In particular, in 2008, after Mike Huckabee won a surprising victory in the Iowa caucuses, he scooted off to New Hampshire to try to convince the flinty New Englanders they should vote for a folksy, guitar-playing Southern Baptist. It didn't work. He came in a distant third with 11% to John McCain's 37% and Mitt Romney's 32%. Had he skipped New Hampshire and headed straight to South Carolina and campaigned hard there, he might have won instead of barely losing to McCain, 33% to 30%. It was McCain's victory there that convinced people he could win in the South and sealed his nomination.

That's the history. Who's going to repeat it? Rick Santorum. Instead of skipping New Hampshire, where he has no chance at all (not only due to an ideological mismatch with Granite State voters, but also because Romney is a semi-home-town candidate), he should have gone straight to South Carolina where his ideas on abortion and gay marriage are popular. He will take a hit on Tuesday, no matter whether he beats Ron Paul for second place or not, and this will greatly reduce his momentum going into South Carolina. The same holds for Rick Perry, but he's finished anyway, so it doesn't matter much what he does. But if Santorum had skipped New Hampshire and won South Carolina, he would probably become the not-Romney on the spot. It is still possible, but he has made his life a lot harder by entering a contest he has no chance of winning and wasting a week he could have spent campaigning in more friendly territory.

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Previous headlines

Jan05 Bachmann Drops Out
Jan05 Perry Hesitates, but Stays In
Jan05 Movement Conservatives Attempt to Find a Consensus Candidate
Jan04 Iowa: Romney 24.6%, Santorum 24.6%, Paul 21.4%, Gingrich 13.3%
Jan03 All Eyes on Iowa Today
Jan03 The Horse Race as a Horse Race
Jan01 Happy New Presidential Election Year
Jan01 Iowa Caucuses Are This Tuesday
Jan01 Final Selzer Poll: Romney and Paul on top but Santorum Rising
Dec16 No Fireworks in Final GOP Debate
Dec11 Romney Offers Perry a $10,000 Bet During Debate
Dec11 Where is Sarah Palin?
Dec11 The 2012 Contest: Whole Foods Clients vs. Cracker Barrel Shoppers
Dec07 Gingrich Way Ahead in Iowa
Dec07 Obama Gives Fiery Speech Attacking the Republicans
Dec07 Pelosi Backtracks on Releasing Dirt
Dec04 Herman Cain Drops Out
Dec04 Gingrich Pulls Away in Iowa
Nov29 Woman Accuses Cain of Long-Running Affair
Nov23 Romney's Extended Family Could be a Problem
Nov23 Republicans Ignore China, Eurocrisis in Debate on Foreign Affairs
Nov19 Newton Defies Gravity
Nov10 Perry Stumbles Badly in Debate
Nov09 Anti-Union Bill Repealed in Ohio
Nov09 Republicans May Take over Virginia State Senate
Nov09 An Egg is Not a Person in Mississippi
Nov06 Romney's Choice
Oct22 Cain First, Romney Real Winner in NV Straw Poll
Oct12 Mitt the Inevitable?
Oct06 Steve Jobs and Politics
Oct06 Palin Will Not Run for President
Sep30 Senate Races 2012

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