Vox Pop

The Prospect's politics blog

Which Mitt Is Your Mitt?

Herman Cain isn't the only candidate who dropped out this fall. Dozens of Mitt Romney doppelgangers who've outlived their usefulness have, too. Some of the Romneys haven't even dared to show their faces again—pro-choice, pro-health-care Romney, for instance, hasn't dared go out in public this primary season. We've compiled a list of many of the different Romneys that have popped up over the years below in the hope that it will help voters, not in a quest to find the real Romney—we doubt his existence—but to help you discover which one you could vote for. E-mail me at jfuller@prospect.org if you think of any other Romneys, and I'll update the list as the election goes on. Click on the arrows to go to the next Romney. *** East Coast Moderate Republican Romney This presidential candidate is running on nostalgia (not to be confused with Reagan Romney or Son of my dad, George Romney). This Romney harkens back to a time when Republicans could be moderate and still get elected. Polling shows...

Introducing: Vox and Friends

In this week’s episode of Vox and Friends , The American Prospect podcast, Patrick Caldwell , Jaime Fuller , and myself discuss President Obama’s speech on the economy — and his attempt to channel Theodore Roosevelt — as well as Occupy Wall Street’s success in influencing the political conversation and Newt Gingrich’s odd place in the Republican presidential field...

Jon Huntsman Is in It to Win It

When it comes to the presidential campaign of former Utah governor (and ambassador to China) Jon Huntsman, the general assumption among pundits is that he’s actually running for the 2016 Republican nomination. After all, if President Obama wins re-election, Huntsman would be a natural fit for a (presumably) chastened Republican Party—a conservative governor with a moderate temperament and solid bipartisan credentials. The problem with this view, as Ross Douthat points out , is that it ignores the likely landscape of a 2016 Republican presidential field: If Barack Obama is re-elected and the Republican nomination is up for grabs in 2016, there will be a long list of heavyweights ready and rested and ready to compete for the prize— Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, Bob McDonnell, and probably other up-and-comers as well. […] All of them will be able out-raise, out-organize and out-buzz a guy who couldn’t rise to the top of the weakest presidential primary field in my...

A Rare Moment of Hope For Santorum

While most of the Republican presidential candidates have bypassed the typical ground game route, Rick Santorum has practically moved to Iowa, hoping that he can shake enough hands to convince the state's social conservatives that he is the real deal. But so far, it hasn't paid any dividends. He wallows near the bottom of Iowa polls, never breaking out of the single digits. He's set to make a "major announcement" today, and if early leaks are correct, it's a big endorsement for his campaign. According to The Hill 's Daniel Strauss, Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz will endorse Santorum's campaign. Schultz is a Tea Party favorite in the state, after he won a highly contested Secretary of State race last fall, knocking off the Democrat who had held that position. He's used his office to promote many of the causes popular among the grassroots right such as photo ID bills. Democrats successfully blocked that bill, but Iowa still suffered as a part of the 2011 wave of voter supression...

The Electability Argument Begins

If there's one thing Mitt Romney probably believed he could count on in this race, it's the electability argument. I'm not a loose cannon, he could say, and so my candidacy won't implode because of a sex scandal or a crazy comment. And since we all know that debate over the economy will dominate the fall campaign, I'm best positioned to win that argument, as someone with business experience. It seemed to make perfect sense, but now, polls are showing that Republican voters actually think Newt Gingrich is the more electable one. To clear-eyed observers, this seems akin to believing that while Charlie Sheen is fun to party with, he's also the kind of responsible caretaker to whom you'd entrust your children for a week. But it isn't surprising that the polls show Newt winning the electability argument. It's because he's winning. When you tell a pollster that you've decided to support Candidate A, you're unlikely to then tell them that Candidate B is the one who's more electable. We work...

So Much For That Donald Trump Debate

Once Newt Gingrich accepted the invitation to Donald Trump's debate, the oh-so-wise political pundit class predicted (well, I predicted ) that what was supposed to be a sideshow event would turn into a full-on debate. After all, Newt is currently leading the polls, so what candidate would pass on the opportunity to attack the former House speaker exactly one week before the Iowa caucuses? Turns out, it's an offer most of them felt fine refusing : Michele Bachmann has officially said “no” to the Donald Trump-moderated Newsmax debate scheduled for later this month… this leaves just two candidates— Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum—who plan to show up at the Dec. 27 event in Des Moines. Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry, Ron Paul have all declined to attend. Perry became the latest to decline Trump’s invitation on Thursday. Beyond owning up to my own mistaken predictions, it's interesting that Gingrich will be debating Santorum one-on-one, a format Gingrich has favored of late. He went...

That Didn't Take Long

Yesterday I noted that the pro-Mitt Romney Super PAC Restore Our Future was launching its ad campaign on a positive note. Sure, their commercial started off by attacking Barack Obama's early career as a community organizer, but it refrained from vilifying Newt Gingrich. That was somewhat unexpected; all signals indicate that Romney's campaign has entered panic mode over Gingrich's unexpected rise in the polls. But disparaging an opponent can backfire. So far the Romney campaign has avoided going negative. The Super PAC, on the other hand, has free reign to impugn Gingrich's integrity and Romney can disavow any influence on the ad (as his campaign must, since legally Super PACs and candidates cannot coordinate their efforts). It didn't take long for Restore Our Future to take the predictable turn. A new anti-Gingrich ad showed up online last night that attacks Gingrich's "baggage." The former House speaker has been accused of ethics violations, took...

What to Read Before You Unwonk Tonight

The Economist summarizes Obama’s campaign strategy thus far, and places it in the context of America’s rich history of decisive presidential campaigns. In an excellent must-read piece, Conor Friedersdorf coins a new label for Newt Gingrich: He's the anti-thesis of a Nike ad. "Don't just do it -- it won't work till you change everything!" Republicans thought they had the nostalgia vote in the bag with Newt Gingrich. Then Obama pulled out the Teddy Roosevelt card, and they realized they need to go back in time. Welcome the new dark horse Republican candidate, William Howard Taft! Speaking of old school historical references, Is Europe about to have an Articles of Confederation moment? Although mainstream coverage of the election has been relatively neutral, to no one’s surprise, Twitter offers far harsher and snarkier commentary on the candidates. Infographic of the Day: Mother Jones’ depicting the tangle of super-PACs as an ever-expanding universe. In his efforts to dampen Gingrich’s...

So It Begins

The 2012 Republican nomination has been defined as much by what it lacks as its actual substance. At the start of the year, it was about a lack of any official candidates. Unlike the last presidential election, when Tom Vilsack announced his candidacy just after Thanksgiving 2006, and both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were running by February 2007, no one wanted to take the early plunge this year. Gary Johnson was the first to officially enter the field in April this year, and most candidates didn't file their paper work until May or June. Then the story was about all the candidates that lacked the requisite ambition to enter the field, as everyone from good on paper candidates (John Thune or Mitch Daniels) to media celebrities (Sarah Palin or Chris Christie) all ignored their pleading supporters and took a pass. The fall was primarily defined by the absence of a real challenger to Mitt Romney. Republican voters cycled between various flavors of the month before settling on Newt...

Today in Smackdowns

Mitt Romney, speaking to the editorial board of the Washington Examiner : I am very concerned that this president is putting America on a path toward appeasement internationally and entitlement domestically . That we go from being a merit-opportunity society to an entitlement society. And it’s going to require a dramatic change in Washington by someone who knows how to lead. [Emphasis mine] President Obama, speaking to reporters following a Republican filibuster of his nominee for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray: Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22-out-of–30 top al Qaeda leaders who’ve been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement. Or whoever is left out there, ask them about that. [Emphasis mine] Something tells me that Romney’s “appeaser” attack won’t work well in a general election.

Rip It Up and Start Again

Democrats were fed up at the start of the year. They had held 59 seats in the Senate for most of the previous two years, their largest majority since the 1970s. But that near-supermajority wasn't enough to overcome a Republican fillibuster. A 60-vote hurdle became a common deathtrap for every Democratic bill or Obama nomination confirmation, leaving the executive branch understaffed and the federal bench depleted. It looked like Democrats had finally had enough and developed the backbone to fight back when the Senate reconvened in January. There was talk of rewriting Senate rules to end the filibuster. Republicans would have moaned about how Democrats were breaking with all sorts of historical norms, but ending the filibuster falls well within constitutional limits; no previous body can dictate the procedural rules for a future Congress. It never reached that point, though, because Republicans—no longer concerned with progressive legislation originating in Speaker Nancy Pelosi's House...

The Continued Decline of the Religious Right

Christian conservatives in the Republican Party have at times in the past felt that their hard work for the GOP has gone unrewarded. They work their little hearts out during the campaign to get Republicans elected, and then once those Republicans take office, they're given little but table scraps. Sure, the Mexico City policy will get reinstated, they'll get some money funneled to churches, and some other small items here and there, but the big pieces of their agenda languish. Abortion is still legal, gay people continue to walk amongst us, and prayer has not been returned to public schools. And every four years, a bunch of Republican presidential candidates tell them, "Elect me, and I'll fix all this." But this year, those candidates have barely bothered. The economy has dominated the debate, and opposition to government in any and all its forms has pushed the culture war to the side. Last year, the head of the American Enterprise Institute (the right's No. 2 think tank) wrote a...

Why Conservatives Love Newt Gingrich

Yesterday saw Mitt Romney launch his first major attack on Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign with an ad that highlights one big distinction between the former Massachusetts governor and the former House Speaker — their personal lives: There’s no doubt that this is a swipe against Gingrich for his long history of adultery, as well as his recent conversion to Catholicism. What’s more, Romney has followed up this ad with attacks from two campaign surrogates, former senators Jim Talent and John Sunnunu: “If the nominee is Newt Gingrich, then the election is going to be about the Republican nominee, which is exactly what the Democrats want,” Talent said, per Reid Epstein. “If they can make it about the Republican nominee, then the president is going to win.” […] “For Newt Gingrich in an effort of self-aggrandizement to come out and throw a clever phrase that had no other purpose than to make him sound a little smarter than the conservative leadership,” Sununu said. “Gingrich’s...

Is It Too Late for Another Candidate?

By this point, conventional wisdom is that it’s too late for another candidate to enter the GOP presidential contest. In addition to building a campaign organization in crucial primary states, a new entrant would have to develop a network of fundraisers, corral endorsements, and find a place within the primary electorate itself. And given the extent to which most party actors have already committed themselves to one candidate or another, it’s hard to imagine success for a latecomer to the race. Arguing against this view is Crystal Ball columnist Rhodes Cook, who isn’t so sure that the situation is hopeless for someone who wanted to enter the Republican primary at this stage. As he sees it , the “elongated” shape of the GOP primary calendar creates the space for a late entrant to the race: But the elongated layout of the nominating calendar this time provides the opportunity for a late-starting candidate to emerge. Should Mitt Romney stumble badly in the January events in Iowa, New...

Why Gingrich Should Be Afraid of Paul

Gage Skidmore
Newt Gingrich’s rise to front-runner status has dominated the news cycle for the past few weeks, and the main question that's plagued analysts is this: Will the former speaker be able to overcome his many mistakes— i.e. , the affairs—and trounce Mitt Romney? The general arc of these arguments is right: Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich will be the Republican nominee. They are the only two candidates who come close to having the right mix of electability, popularity, and approval by party elites to become the GOP nominee. While the Mitt-Newt showdown may seem inevitable, it is wrong to take for granted that either one will win in Iowa. Given polling there, there is a good chance Ron Paul could win. What would this mean for the rest of the campaign? According to a Des Moines Register poll released this past weekend, 25 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers in the state support Newt Gingrich; 18 percent support Ron Paul; and 16 support Romney (a drop from last month’s 22 percent). Nate...

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