Bob Moser

Bob Moser is senior editor at National Journal and author of Blue Dixie: Awakening the South's Democratic Majority (Times Books). He is the former editor of The Texas Observer, senior editor/writer at The Nation, and executive editor of The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Rick Rolls, Newt Rockets

Had everything gone according to expectations, Saturday’s South Carolina primary would have been the first in a series of showdowns between the surefire Iowa caucus winner, Rick Perry, and the inevitable New Hampshire primary victor, Mitt Romney. But if a presidential candidate has ever failed more spectacularly than Perry to live up to his hype, it’s hard to recall one. The Texas governor’s withdrawal from the race this morning, and his endorsement of “visionary” Newt Gingrich—who is making a run at Romney, and leading in three new South Carolina polls—was belated, but also timely. With Sarah Palin edging closer to endorsing the former house speaker, and Rick Santorum’s Iowa momentum stalled, Gingrich appears positioned—especially if he wins on Saturday—to become the “non-Romney” conservative going forward. But first, he’ll need another rabble-rousing debate performance tonight in Charleston. And then he’ll have to cook up a savvy response to his second wife’s ABC News interview,...

Can a Republican Elitist Win?

Mitt Romney’s off-hand revelations about his low tax rate and high speaker fees , combined with his growing list of Clueless Things Only a One-Percenter Could Say, raise a fundamental question: Is it possible for an elitist Republican to win a presidential election? Starting in the early 1970s, when Richard Nixon adapted George Wallace’s right-wing populism to Republican purposes, the GOP has won national elections by appealing to blue-collar and middle-class whites as the rhetorical champions of anti-elitism. From Nixon’s dog whistles about “crime” and “forced busing” to Ronald Reagan’s welfare queens to George W. Bush’s fake ranch and regular-guy patter, the party of the rich has won the White House by posing as exactly the opposite—the natural home of good ol’ boys and gals. Only one Republican nominee has conveyed a sniffy air of privilege—George Bush I, who beat a hapless Democratic technocrat in 1988 only to be crushed by the one-two punch of plain-speaking Ross Perot and “...

This Year's Jesse Jackson?

It was the most annoying and insulting refrain of the 1988 Democratic primaries: “What does Jesse want?” What the Reverend Jackson wanted, of course, was the nomination—which he came closer to winning than anybody seems to remember. And now it’s back , Ron Paul-style. “His goal is to make himself leader of the opposition—within the Republican Party,” writes Charles Krauthammer. “He is Jesse Jackson of the 1980s.” (Unless he’s the Pat Buchanan of 1992, that is.) The Hill was a bit less subtle, asking in a headline: “What does Ron Paul want?” Jackson probably likes this version no better than the original, particularly with more racist passages from Paul’s 1990s newsletters being unearthed all the time. But we’re sure to keep hearing the question repeated for months, as Paul piles up delegates. Does he want a big speech at the convention where he can espouse his contrarian views in prime time, a la Buchanan’s infamous culture-war speech ? Does he hope to have enough delegates to...

The Right's Quixotic Quandary

With the South Carolina primary eight days away, and Rick Perry having morphed into the Incredible Shrinking Candidate , conservative Republicans are down to two options in their quixotic quest for a non-Romney. The only problem: One has already displayed more political personalities than Sybil, and the other specializes in social issues that nobody especially cares about in 2012. Newt Gingrich can of course be both vicious and charming, potentially a winning combo for a Romney foe—but he can’t seem to decide whether to bash Mitt over Bain Capital or return to his pre-New Hampshire incarnation as the happy warrior of clean campaigning. Rick Santorum, meanwhile, has a promising anti-Mitt idea—appealing to blue-collar workers by promising to bring back manufacturing jobs—but he can’t seem to stop comparing gay marriage to polygamy , contraception to wantonness , and the Obama presidency to the Apocalypse . The polls show Gingrich and Santorum splitting the non-Romney vote in South...

Mitt Is It

AP Photo/Elise Amendola
Mitt Romney took another big step toward the Republican nomination on Tuesday night. Romney was expected to cruise to victory in New Hampshire—but even the former Massachusetts governor probably didn’t anticipate giving a victory speech at 8:25 p.m. With the early returns matching the latest polls, with Romney leading Ron Paul by double digits and more than doubling the vote for Jon Huntsman, there was no Iowa-style drama in his unofficial home state. The call was made early. And Romney, beaming in front of his toothy family while the crowd chanted “Mitt Mitt Mitt Mitt,” was clearly pleased with the orderly nature of things. Making excellent use of his teleprompter, Romney delivered a vigorous speech—short on specifics, void of originality, but crisply hitting every talking point that a Republican consultant could want. Romney painted a bright-skies picture of a free-market future, and he trained his fire on both President Obama and his Republican opponents, particularly Newt Gingrich...

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