Election 2012

Too Much of a Terrible Thing

Between the barrage of debates and parade of activity, it feels like we’re close to finished with the Republican presidential primary. Of course, not only are we more than two months away from the first contest in Iowa, but the large majority of Republican primary voters remain uncommitted to either of the candidates. According to the most recent survey from The New York Times and CBS News, “About eight in 10 Republican primary voters say it is still too early to tell whom they will support, and just four in 10 say they have been paying a lot of attention to the 2012 presidential campaign.” Moreover, about 10 percent of voters say they want someone other than the available choices nominated. Of the Republicans polled, 25 percent say they support Georgia businessman Herman Cain; Mitt Romney garners 21 percent support, and Texas Governor Rick Perry has weakened to 6 percent support. That said, with 80 percent of Republican voters undecided, now is too early to discount Rick Perry, or...

Bob the Builder Bails on Perry

He dropped precipitously in recent polls after conservatives began to question his stance on illegal immigration, but most political pundits still think Rick Perry has a strong chance at winning the GOP presidential nomination. Perry's still in the running in part because of the relative weakness of the rest of the field. Mitt Romney, who looks like the consensus candidate, has made a career of straying from conservative dogma, including passing universal health care as governor of Massachusetts. And the candidates who have stuck close to the Tea Party line, Michele Bachmann specifically, are mostly unserious contenders, whose campaigns appear predicated on book sales rather than governance. With Perry, conservative Republicans were supposed to have a serious candidate who, most importantly of all, brought a fundraising infrastructure to the game. He tallied over $17 million during his first month and a half as a candidate. Super PACs sprung up to tout his campaign before Perry had...

Bachmann’s Staff Revolt

For a time it looked as though Michele Bachmann would be Mitt Romney’s main opponent for the GOP presidential nomination. She launched her campaign in June to significant fanfare, gracing the covers of national magazines and rising to the top of polls in Iowa. She was expected to be a fundraising juggernaut based on her high-dollar US House campaigns. In August she finished first at the Iowa Straw Poll, pushing fellow Minnesotan Tim Pawlenty out of the race in the process. It turned out to be a short-lived streak. Rick Perry stole her thunder when he announced his campaign on the very same day Bachmann won the straw poll, replacing her as the front-runner. Her presence began to recede in the debates, only getting noticed when she made far-out statements scaring parents from vaccinating children. At Florida P5 in September—the next major straw poll after Iowa—Bachmann finished dead last, getting only 1.5% of the 2,600 votes. Now her campaign is officially in tatters. Late last week,...

Iowa Conservatives Still Searching for a Candidate

Photo credit: Flickr/Gage Skidmore
Six of the Republican presidential wannabes traveled to Iowa this past Saturday to try to win over a crowd of over 1,000 evangelicals at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition's banquet dinner in Des Moines. All of the major contenders (except Mitt Romney) spoke, playing up their social conservative bona fides for a crowd that could play a deciding role in the "first in the nation" state. Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition—headed by president Steve Scheffler—is one of the state's most powerful conservative organizations thanks to the voter guides they hand out during elections and the lobbying they do in the state legislature, most often pushing anti-LGBT rights legislation. Scheffler was instrumental in building the coalition of Christian activists that tilted the state's GOP further to the right over the past decade. He spearheaded the Iowa branch of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition in the 1990s, but bolted to form his own group called the Iowa Christian Alliance in the mid-2000s...

Mitt Romney and the Flat Tax

Steve Forbes, famed supply-side guru, has announced his support for both Rick Perry’s presidential bid and his forth coming plan for a flat tax. Says Forbes of the Texas governor’s plan: Perry’s plan places him at the far edge of mainstream politics, but squarely within the consensus of the Republican Party, which has made a sharp turn to the right on issues of taxation. In addition, it places him in a favorable position vis a vis former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who – as The New York Times reports – has a “long record of criticizing such plans and famously derided Steve Forbes’s 1996 proposal as a ‘tax cut for fat cats.’ Of course, with prominent Republicans pushing for a flat tax, it’s likely that Romney will relent and release his own proposal for instituting a single income tax rate. As The Times writes, “Lately…his tone has been more positive. ‘I love a flat tax,’ he said in August.” There are two takeaways here. First is the fact that, as a politician, Mitt Romney has...

Herman Cain Is Even Crazier Than You Thought

A few months ago, I undertook a dangerous mission for the magazine, one that could well have resulted in some post-traumatic stress. It involved reading all the latest books from the then-candidates and possible candidates, including Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich , and Mike Huckabee (the result was this article ). Unfortunately, Herman Cain was not yet running, nor had he produced the inspiring tome that is his latest, This is Herman Cain! (note to self: Make sure next book has exclamation point in title!), so I didn't get the chance to read it. But Michelle Cottle did, and what she found was pretty alarming. Here's the lead of her piece in the Daily Beast : Raise your hand if you have a favorite number. Keep it raised if you believe this number to be your "lucky" number. Now keep it up only if you think this number has a literal, meaningful, ongoing impact on your life. Finally, if your hand is still up, ask yourself this: If you were running for president and...

A Match Made in Hell

In the four years since President George W. Bush failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform, anti-immigrant sentiment in the GOP has grown to a fever pitch. At least three Republican-led states have passed draconian laws restricting every aspect of life for undocumented immigrants – Alabama, for example, has made municipal water-usage a deportable offense – and Republican voters have shunned a presidential candidate, Texas Governor Rick Perry, over his willingness to accomodate the children of undocumented immigrants. Conservatives have grown so hostile to immigrants that, at this point, it has become to alienate some Latino Republicans. Last week, for example, saw one prominent Latino leader leave the Republican Party. Lauro Garza was Texas state director for Somos Republicans – the nation’s largest conservative Latino group – and a well-known figure within Texas Republican figures. In a letter explaining his decision to leave the GOP, Garza cited the party’s inhospitable...

Herman Cain: Yesterday, Totally Pro-Choice. Today, Totally Pro-Life

Yesterday morning, I looked into my crystal ball and boldly predicted that within 48 hours, Herman Cain would walk back his surprisingly pro-choice comments on abortion ("So what I'm saying is it ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make. Not me as president, not some politician, not a bureaucrat. It gets down to that family. And whatever they decide, they decide") and come out for full-on, abortion-should-be-illegal anti-choicism. Well here you go : FOX HOST MARTHA MACCALLUM: Do you believe that abortion should be legal in this country for families who want to make that decision [to abort]? CAIN: No. I do not believe abortion should be legal in this country, if that's the question. MACCALLUM: So then you're saying that if those circumstances come up and the family does make that decision, that they decide that that is the best thing for this young person or she decides that on her own, then if that's what they decided, then it would be an illegal...

"The Romney Rule"

Priorities USA, the Democratic consulting firm backed by former Clinton staffer Paul Begala, is out with its first ad attacking former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. It’s a good one: Like the The Washington Post ’s Greg Sargent , I think that this will be a potent line of attack should Romney become the Republican nominee for president. As the wealthiest GOP candidate for president, Romney is uniquely ill-suited to press against higher taxes for the richest Americans, and for an overall low tax burden on the wealthy. Indeed, given the current popularity of higher taxes on the rich – and the growing popularity of Occupy Wall Street – an election fought on these grounds is bad territory for the Romney campaign. I should say that there is a practical policy danger in devoting so much attention to taxes for the rich. In the medium-term, middle-class taxes will have to go up. Unless we return to Clinton-era rates, there is no way – other than new taxes on consumption or carbon – to...

Blame and How to Give It

That Senate Republicans used the filibuster to kill a Democratic stimulus bill isn’t a surprise – at this point, Republicans have all but announced their plan to keep the economy from significantly improving, and as a result, slash the tires on President Obama’s bid for re-election. What comes as a surprise is the extent to which the press isn’t playing along. In the past, reporters would describe yesterday's event with “balanced” language that obscured Republican responsibility for the obstruction. For example, here’s how The New York Times described last week’s failed vote on the full American Jobs Act: In a major setback for President Obama, the Senate on Tuesday blocked consideration of his $447 billion jobs bill, forcing the White House and Congressional Democrats to scramble to salvage parts of the plan, the centerpiece of Mr. Obama’s push to revive a listless economy. The legislation, announced with fanfare by the president at a joint session of Congress last month, fell short...

Occupy the Rules Committee

For last two months, we’ve been engaged in something of a natural experiment to see if presidential speechifying—in this case, a consistent focus on jobs—is enough to move public opinion in a progressive direction and create avenues for legislative success. So far, that hasn’t been the case. Instead, Republicans have taken their usual position of staunch opposition, and moderate Democrats have given them cover by opposing the administration’s modest efforts to raise taxes and offset the costs of new stimulus. What has changed the direction of public opinion is Occupy Wall Street, so much so that majorities of Americans agree with the goals of the movement, and conservative figures like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor are driven to acknowledge America’s extreme inequality. Of course, even if Occupy Wall Street grows in size and influence, there’s still the question of institutional barriers. As long as a political incentive for the filibuster exists, for example, there’s a real limit...

Perryland

The animosity between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry at Tuesday's debate might have surprised a few viewers, but their their dislike for each other is well known among reporters who follow the candidates. Both The New York Times and the Washington Post ran articles after the debate which highlighted that history. Here's how WaPo describes how the two related as state governors in the 2000s: They did not have a productive working relationship, according to Republicans who worked with both men, and each harbored a disdain for the other that was seemingly driven by cultural stereotypes and their perceptions of each other. They share little in their upbringings, careers, faiths or lifestyles. This isn't the first time Perry has found himself in this kind of tussle with another Republican. Perry and George W. Bush don't like each other either. And when he faced Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the gubernatorial primary last year, Perry viciously attacked her as an emblem of establishment thinking—...

The GOP's Anti-Romney Majority

If there’s anything to pay attention to in the Associated Press’ most recent poll of the Republican presidential primary, it’s not the exact distribution of votes among the candidates. That story is familiar: Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney leads the pack with 30 percent support, followed by Herman Cain with 26 percent, Rick Perry at 13 percent, and Ron Paul with 8 percent. What’s most significant is the extent to which Romney occupies a minority position within the Republican Party. Sixty-two percent of Republicans want a candidate other than him, and of that number, 97 percent want a candidate who is more conservative than the former Massachusetts governor (the remaining 3 percent are Jon Huntsman supporters). This is why it’s too early to dismiss Rick Perry as a failed candidate – Republicans don’t want to nominate Romney, and if Perry can get his campaign into shape, he has a huge pool of anti-Romney conservatives to draw support from. One last thing. Head-to-head don’t...

Herman Cain is Pro-Choice!

The other day, I sorted through Herman Cain 's recent muddled comments on abortion and concluded that he was just unaware that this is an issue that involves laws, both current and potential, that affect what people can and can't do. Every time he got asked about abortion, he would answer as if he were advising a young woman not to get one. So he explained that he believes life begins at conception, and no one should get an abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. But he was far less clear on what he thinks the law ought to be. But now we may be getting some progress. Via Dan Amira , here's Cain explaining his pro-choice -- yes, pro-choice -- views on abortion: CAIN: No, it comes down to it's not the government's role or anybody else's role to make that decision. Secondly, if you look at the statistical incidents, you're not talking about that big a number. So what I'm saying is it ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make. Not me as president,...

One out of Five Ain't Bad

AP Photo/Chris Carlson Texas Gov. Rick Perry didn't win the G.O.P. debate Tuesday but he managed to rattle frontrunner Mitt Romney. Rick Perry is still a bad debater. At last night's Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, he hemmed, hawed and stammered his way through policy statements and attack lines. But for the first time since entering the race, that wasn't a detriment to his overall performance. Perry didn't win the debate, but he didn't lose it either. More importantly, he achieved his main goal: throwing Mitt Romney off of his game. From the beginning, Perry went after Romney's credentials as a conservative. "I'm Texas Governor Rick Perry, a proven job-creator and a man who is about economic growth, an authentic conservative, not a conservative of convenience," he said, introducing himself to the crowd. Later, Perry joined Rick Santorum's attacks on Romney's former support for Massachusetts's health-care reform, and in the most explosive exchange of the evening,...

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