Saturday, January 26, 2008

Main St. for Mitt

UPDATE: The McClain-Clinton closeness. New Insider Advantage poll puts Mitt up. RCP tight.
(Still UPDATING all day to a fare-thee well, scroll down!)
Well, the story in the Tribune on Mitt Romney in Florida is dripping with sarcasm (you'd think the reporter was a blogger). How novel to have opinions shine through in a news story.

The story is datelined Tampa, at the western end of the I-4 corridor, swing voter territory. Nice big picture though of Mitt shaking hands with enthusiastic crowds, this one looking like young married women in the heart of should be McCain, or Huckabee territory--Pensacola on the Panhandle.

McCain got an endorsement yesterday from Sen. Mel Martinez, but it remains a tight race. RCP average here. Tampa Tribune:

Republican Martinez's 11th-hour backing of McCain on Friday, four days before Tuesday's primary, comes as the latest polls show Romney either moving slightly ahead or to within a narrow margin of the Arizona senator.

Analysts say the endorsement could help McCain blunt Romney's gains, but they also downplayed its ability to create a major swing in GOP-voter sentiment in the winner-take-all race for Florida's 57 delegates.[snip]

Romney's Florida campaign chairman, Al Cardenas, noted the endorsement comes too late for Martinez to do any fundraising for McCain before Tuesday's primary.

"It was a good get," Cardenas acknowledged, saying Romney also had courted Martinez.

Florida Times Union, Primary loyalties divided:

But when it comes down to it, the names touted by the candidates probably won't be enough to sway the vast majority of voters who don't pay attention to inside politics. Two of Florida's most well-known political figures, [former governor Jeb] Bush and Gov. Charlie Crist, haven't endorsed anyone publicly.

"If everybody in the so-called Florida establishment were behind one candidate, that would be one thing, but there are some divided loyalties here," said Matthew Corrigan, a University of North Florida political science professor. "The contacts help - I'd rather have them than not have them - but they won't carry you to victory."

Along with the presidential primary, there is also a constitutional amendment on the ballot to cut property taxes, which should concentrate the minds of voters on who has the best record on taxes.

Amusing headline from China News (yes from the People's Republic), "NY Times Backs Clinton, McCain in bid for presidential candidacy":
...have received the golden blessings of the influential New York Times newspaper, marking a big boost to their bids
(no they're not running together, or maybe they are:) After all, they both like this guy, who makes money talking down the US economy so he can fund Leftie groups who hate America and trash General David Petraeus, a man McCain claims to revere.

Meanwhile, the MSM carries McCain's water, he's on the cover of Time and the NY Times, which I retrieved from the snow this morning (I like the blue bags--they come in handy while walking the dogs) has a front page, mid-Left (oh, I should say mid-page, far-Left) story on McCain, pix in profile, holding a pen like a weapon "Fiscal Mantra for McCain: Less is More" (emphasis mine):

In an interview outlining his economic approach, Mr. McCain emphasized his experience working on economic matters in Congress and laid out an unorthodox version of conservatism. After initially opposing President Bush’s tax cuts, he has become a supporter of making them permanent and of pursuing additional tax reductions, saying they are the best way to encourage economic growth.

But unlike Mr. Bush — or other Republican presidential candidates this year — Mr. McCain favors government mandates to halt global warming and slow the growth of Medicare costs.
Sounds like a flip-flopper to me. As yes, unorthodox, the NY Times approves. Consistent tax-cutters are Neanderthals. Government mandates (read higher taxes) are a good thing. There's more:
Noting that he also later ran the Senate Commerce Committee, Mr. McCain said in the interview that he would feel no need to select a vice president with expertise in economic policy to balance his own foreign-policy experience.

He also pointed to a recent Wall Street Journal survey of economists, many of them from Wall Street firms, which found that he was easily their top choice for president. “I don’t need any extra help,” he said.

McCain, the darling of Wall St. Well, the rest of the country may have something to say about that thank you very much. Governor Romney on the campaign trail in Florida, not giving interviews at some NYC lawyer's office to the NY Times:

Romney said that McCain has “detoured from what was some straight talk,” as he gleefully read from two quotations in newspaper articles—one from 2005 and another from just last month — in which McCain suggested that his own knowledge of the economy was limited.

“That’s straight talk,” Romney said. “Now he’s engaging in Washington talk. Washington talk says that somehow because you’ve been in Washington and you’ve been on a committee that you somehow — somehow know about how the jobs of this country are created. And I’ll tell you this: somebody who’s been in the real economy, who’s created real jobs, someone who’s been on Main Street knows a lot more about the jobs and the economy of this nation than someone who’s spent his time in K Street and in Washington, D.C.”

Main St. for Mitt.

UPDATE: News from Gina in Gulf Breeze.

UPDATE: Mitt's schedule today.

UPDATE: Gov. Romney gets an important Midwest endorsement today from a former Fredhead:

Today, former U.S. Congressman David McIntosh (R-IN) endorsed Governor Mitt Romney and his candidacy for President of the United States. McIntosh most recently served as a senior policy adviser to former Republican presidential candidate Senator Fred Thompson. He is a co-founder of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies.

"I am proud to make today's endorsement. Governor Romney has the vision to bring true conservative change to Washington and strengthen our economy. As President, he will advance a pro-growth agenda that strengthens our economy, encourages innovation and creates jobs. From business and the Olympics to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Governor Romney is the proven leader we need in Washington today. I also am convinced that Governor Romney will appoint judges who will exercise judicial restraint, respect the rule of law and appreciate the Constitution as written," said David McIntosh.

McIntosh will serve as a Co-Chair of the Romney for President Advisory Committee on the Constitution and the Courts with Professor Douglas W. Kmiec, former constitutional legal counsel to President Ronald Reagan. He replaces Professor Mary Ann Glendon who was recently appointed to be U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See.

UPDATE: RCP's Tom Bevan with Poll-o-rama. (In Illinois McCain leads in this first poll 31-20 to Romney, with Giuliani at 13, the Huckster 11 and UNDECIDED 18%.)

UPDATE: Rasmussen presidential tracking poll, taken after Fred Thompson bowed out. McCain and Romney pulling away from the rest of the field. 40% of voters see economy as top issue.

UPDATE: Romney campaign release on McCain's: Straight Talk Detour with lots of new quotes and links. Here's one:

Sen. McCain Took The Lead With Democrats Opposing President Bush's 2001 And 2003 Tax Cuts. "On taxes and spending, Mr. McCain ... has been disingenuous in explaining his opposition to Mr. Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. He claims to have cast these votes to protest the fact that the tax cuts were not accompanied by spending cuts. But the fact is that in opposing these measures, Mr. McCain joined liberal Democrats like Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Tom Daschle in employing class-warfare rhetoric and pushing in favor of higher taxes - voting on the pro-tax side on 14 different occasions." (Editorial, "McCain vs. McCain," The Washington Times, 1/25/08)

And this:

Sen. McCain Took The Lead With Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) On Immigration Reform, Which Many Conservatives Derided As "Amnesty." "On illegal immigration, Mr. McCain said that anyone who says he supported amnesty is 'a liar' and says he has 'never' supported Social Security benefits for illegals. However, in 2006 and 2007, he joined with Ted Kennedy to support Senate bills that would have granted amnesty to millions of illegals. In 2006, Mr. McCain denounced in a floor speech and cast the deciding vote against an amendment by Sen. John Ensign, Nevada Republican, that would have denied Social Security benefits to illegals who work under a Social Security number obtained through identity fraud." (Editorial, "McCain vs. McCain," The Washington Times, 1/25/08)

Washington Times link to read the editorial in full, "McCain vs. McCain"

One more key quote from the editorial:

On abortion, Mr. McCain has a generally pro-life voting record (although he has supported embryo-destroying stem-cell research). In a 1998 letter to Roman Catholic bishops, Mr. McCain declared himself to be a "lifelong, ardent supporter of unborn children's right to life." But in 1999, he told the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board that "in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe vs. Wade, which would then force X-number of women to undergo illegal and dangerous abortions." Later that year, he sent a letter to the National Right to Life Committee stating his "unequivocal support for overturning Roe v. Wade." On Jan. 22 of this year, the 35th anniversary of Roe, Mr. McCain sent a letter to pro-life marchers in Washington praising them and criticizing the seven Supreme Court judges who made up the majority in Roe.
UPDATE: Also from the release:
- John Locke Foundation's Roy Cordato: McCain-Lieberman "Would Dramatically Raise The Tax On All Carbon-Based Fuels." "What is not widely understood is that [McCain] is currently sponsoring legislation that, in the name of fighting global warming, would dramatically raise the tax on all carbon-based fuels, including gasoline, home heating oil, coal, and to a lesser extent, natural gas. ... Higher energy costs will, among other things, raise the cost of manufacturing big-ticket items in American factories. And higher gas prices will likely raise demand for those classes of automobiles that tend to be manufactured overseas." (Roy Cordato, "McCain's Costly Tax On Energy," National Review,, Posted 1/10/08)
Illinois already has some of the highest gas prices in the country-- a lot of it is state and local taxes. That's all we need, when the Dems here are raising taxes left and right already, and we're already losing jobs to lower tax states. (Not to mention chronic corruption and incompetence. Front page story today.)

UPDATE: LA Times, "Florida's midsection key to GOP hopefuls":
Central Florida accounts for "almost half the primary vote in the whole state, so it's ordinarily considered the battleground," said McCain strategist Charles Black. "That's where all the potential undecided voters are."

"It's a key area for everyone," said Romney spokesman Kevin Madden. "There are many counties there that have a growing population and face economic uncertainty and economic challenges, and that is an area where we focus from a strategic standpoint of getting out the vote."

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, was warmly greeted at a Wednesday stop at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. Alluding to the nation's economic problems, Romney said his business experience made him the right leader for the times.

It's a theme that resonates with voters like Cheryl Bartolomeo, a Tampa resident who works at the cancer center and who grew up in Boston. "I like his business approach to running the country," said Bartolomeo, 35, who plans to vote for Romney. "He seems to be a straight shooter."
UPDATE: WSJ, "Romney's New Groove":

Starting at the southern tip of the Sunshine State before flying north Friday to the Panhandle, Mr. Romney, a former head of Bain Capital, was every bit the confident executive. To a crowd standing in the parking lot outside a military-technology manufacturer, Mr. Romney heralded the focus on the economy. "I particularly like the fact that the other candidates are increasingly talking about the issues that you want to have talked about," he said.

It is what he has wanted to talk about all along. Mr. Romney has served up the economy as part of his stump fare for months. At a debate in Iowa in August, he was asked about fixing roads and bridges following the Minneapolis bridge collapse. As part of his answer, he prescribed: "Invest in the future of the economy." In December, the first slide of a PowerPoint presentation in Manchester, N.H., was titled, "What is the future of the U.S. economy?"

Now, with troubles from the housing sector spilling over into other markets, Mr. Romney's financial background gets a warmer reception. "What you want is someone that's competent," said Luis Espino, a 38-year-old attorney from Miami and undecided Republican, "someone that's able to engage with the people that make decisions about the economy." He paused before adding: "Just like the president does when he's talking to generals to make military decisions.

Mr. Romney's economy-heavy stump speech plays well in Florida, the state with the highest population -- roughly 17% -- of residents 65 years and older. Many are retirees who worry about their income. "I live on a fixed income, mostly from investments in the Wall Street," said Mildred Klemp, an 80-year-old Republican living in Naples, who hasn't decided between Messrs. Romney and McCain. "The bulk of my estate is in the stock market, and I don't know about that," she said of the turbulent markets last Tuesday. "Had me worried.
They have a graph of their poll on issues.
UPDATE: Boston Herald, "Outlook Bright for Romney in Sunshine State":

Revved up by a well-received debate performance and rising in the polls, former Bay State Gov. Mitt Romney has boomeranged from losses in early voting states to now pose a serious threat to opponents just days before the GOP contest in winner-take-all Florida.

“He is on a roll,” said David Johnson, a Tallahassee-based Republican strategist who is unaffiliated with a campaign. “He’s got the best organization and best resources in place to keep going even after Florida.”

UPDATE: Virginia getting in Fredheads for Romney. Five Brothers welcome Fredheads. An apologetic Lowell Brown with more on the Brian Williams question, which I also relied on and retracted. But I also said this:
It's still a disgusting question to ask in a poll, and in the debate. It's a measure of political correctness and "tolerance" which apparently doesn't extend to people of faith.
Some rising blogger buzz, tracking a WaPo article on the curse of the Senate in presidential runs. The Monkey Cage, "Why is it hard for Senators to become President?"
The Post piece puts forth these explanations: citizens prefer “executives” (namely, governors); Senators are too often “bogged down in legislative complexities that confused voters”; and Senators, especially committee chairs, “have been showered with attention by lobbyists and corporate executives seeking legislative fixes,” which presumably (although the article does not say) means that voters perceive Senators as having been corrupted.
Interesting discussion, he cites some research and makes this key comment:
Governors who run tend to hail from larger states than senators who run, suggesting that the governors who run are more strategic: “only the best [governors] will make serious runs for the presidency, and they tend to be from the largest states with the most professional governments."
UPDATE: Huckabee's fried squirrel recipe--tested. Via The Corner. (Not for the squeamish tho the laughs are worth it:)

UPDATE: McCain charges, Romney countercharges on Iraq. Romney praises Bush, bashes Washington. From Leftie source Reuters.

UPDATE: Am back, went out to forage for food, etc. Missed this yesterday from one of my blogger buddies, Flying Debris--McCain Advisor: "America Not Corrupt Enough!"

UPDATE: Stephen Hayes, Weekly Standard, "Charge of the anti-McCain Brigades"[calling us "enemies"? such intemperate language]:

West Palm Beach
John McCain spoke through gritted teeth. "I respect Rush Limbaugh," he said, days after America's most influential talk radio host proclaimed that his nomination would ruin the Republican party.

Straight talk?

For two weeks, as the Republican presidential race moved south and he notched important victories in New Hampshire and South Carolina, John McCain has been subject to a series of withering attacks from the stars of talk radio and other prominent conservatives. Some of the criticism is warranted. McCain seems to delight in taking positions that upset conservatives, as he did at virtually every campaign stop in New Hampshire by going out of his way to talk about global warming.
Yeah. Note this great post in rebuttal of greenie-lunacy from over at Hugh Hewitt. Good myth-busting of the hysteria. Key graf from an economic standpoint:

SH: Well, you know, McCain has endorsed this crazy idea of a 65% reduction in American greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050. Now by the way, he’s just being a low budget liberal, because the Democrats are all asking for 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050. Well, you know, you hear percentage terms, and you know, billions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions, and what does that mean to an ordinary person who drives a car and lives in a house? Well, I’m doing the math on this right now, and it’s very hard on radio to go through the numbers, and it’s quite complicated, and the math is difficult. But the bottom line is this. To reach even McCain’s somewhat more modest target would require essentially replacing the entire fossil fuel energy infrastructure of the United States – coal, natural gas and oil, completely – in forty years. Now by the way, one estimate by a couple of very good economists at Princeton suggest that staying even, meaning holding our greenhouse gas emissions where they are now, with our growing economy and population, would cost at least $3 trillion, trillion with a T dollars, over the next twenty years.

Just ridiculous and irresponsible for a senior member of the Senate to advocate this kind of craziness.

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt on McCain's blatant lie today about Romney's position on Iraq, with the full record. (scroll down). Also on those absentee votes. Survey USA:

"29% Have Already Voted: 2,100 Florida adults were interviewed by SurveyUSA 01/23/08 and 01/24/08. Interviews were completed immediately before the Republican debate began at 9 pm ET on 01/24/08. The impact of that debate is not reflected in these numbers. Of the adults, 1,795 were registered to vote. Of them, 550 were determined by SurveyUSA to have already voted in the Florida Republican Primary, or to be likely to vote on or before 01/29/08. Of the 29% who tell SurveyUSA they have already voted, Romney and McCain are tied, 30% each."

UPDATE: Very thoughtful piece on McCain's demonizing former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. Sec. Rumsfeld used to be the congressman from my district, before my time, but many here remember him fondly and he has been gracious enough to come back to the local high school from time to time to speak to students. I would also add, that Sec. Rumsfeld was strapped by the Clinton "peace dividend" which drastically cut the size of our military, and one more point--his light footprint strategy that foundered in Iraq was a stunning success in Afghanistan.

UPDATE: New poll, Insider Advantage, ROMNEY 26, McCain 24. RCP average tight.

UPDATE: New turnout estimates, via the Politico:
The Florida GOP sends over some fairly eye-opening numbers.

427,018 Florida Republicans have already voted either via absentee ballot or in early voting.

Most campaigns and observers here expect about 1.2 or 1.3 million total votes in the GOP primary.
UPDATE: MSNBC carries McCain's water:
Romney also addressed McCain's claims that he is the only one who can beat Clinton and Obama. Romney said, "Let’s let the people decide that. Not the candidates."

As for Clinton, Romney said in MSNBC's GOP debate in Boca Raton on Thursday that he can't imagine Bill Clinton left with nothing to do in the White House, prompting some to call it a personal attack. Romney has denounced personal attacks and said that's part of the reason he was successful in Massachusetts.

Asked today how he would determine what a personal attack is if he and Clinton are the nominees, Romney was vague in saying that it's "in the eye of the beholder." He went on to clarify his comments with: "I think my comment about Bill Clinton was only that I'd just as soon have one president of the United States, not two."

"And President Clinton in the White House with nothing to do is going to try and be a co-president and try and help manage the economy and help manage the world affairs," he went on, adding, "I think that's a mistake. I think you want to have one president, not two."
Look, everybody laughed after that remark at the debate, even Chris Matthews. The words themselves were innocuous and not a personal attack. It's the truth about Bill Clinton that invests them with such meaning--and everyone knows it.

UPDATE: The choice is Romney's Economic Turnaround Plan. NRO piece.

UPDATE: The RCP Blog is leaving McCain (for now--4:42 central) with the last word on his falsifying Gov. Romney's positions. Here is the full record with quotes sourced from a year ago:


Governor Romney Criticized Withdrawal Timetables And Instead Talked About Setting Metrics To Measure Progress:

Governor Romney: "You want to have a series of things you want to see accomplished in terms of the strength of the Iraqi military and the Iraqi police and the leadership of the Iraqi government." (ABC's "Good Morning America," 4/3/07)

Governor Romney: "Could you imagine the setting where during the Second World War we said to the Germans, 'Gee, if we haven't reached the Rhine by this date why we'll go home,' or if we haven't gotten this accomplished we'll pull up and leave?" (ABC's "Good Morning America," 4/3/07)

Governor Romney Has Warned About Bringing American Troops Home Too Quickly:

Governor Romney: "Well, there's no question we all want to see our troops home as soon as we can possibly have them home. But we have to recognize that if we bring them home too quickly or in a way which leads to a collapse of the country or perhaps the Iranians grabbing the Shia south or Al-Qaeda playing a dominating role among the Sunnis or a Kurdish population destabilizing the border with Turkey, you could then end up with a regional conflict which would cause Americans to somehow have to get involved again – this time at a much more ugly situation with more casualties." ("Laura Ingraham Show," 3/9/07)

Governor Romney: "I Don't Think We Should Run Our Foreign Policy Based Upon Elections, Election Schedules Or Anything Of That Nature." "But Mr. Romney said he did not agree with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the New York Democrat, that President Bush needed to resolve the war he started before he left office and not hand it off to his successor, as she said while campaigning in Iowa on Sunday. 'She can do what she likes – but I take exception to her conclusions,'” Mr. Romney said in an interview while campaigning across this state today. 'I don’t think we should run our foreign policy based upon elections, election schedules or anything of that nature.'" (Adam Nagourney, "Romney: Clinton's Wrong About Bush," The New York Times, 1/29/07)

Governor Romney Has Consistently Said There Must Be "Clear Objectives And Milestones":

Governor Romney Said There Must Be "Clear Objectives And Milestones" In Iraq. "This effort should be combined with clear objectives and milestones for U.S. and Iraqi leaders." (Romney For President, "Governor Mitt Romney On Iraq," Press Release, 1/10/07)

President Bush Has Himself Talked About The Importance Of Setting Benchmarks In Iraq:

President Bush: "Iraq's Leaders Must Continue To Work To Meet The Benchmarks That Have [Been] Set Forward." "As we help the Iraqis secure their capital, their leaders are also beginning to meet the benchmarks they have laid out for political reconciliation. … There's been good progress. There's a lot more work to be done, and Iraq's leaders must continue to work to meet the benchmarks that have set forward." (President George W. Bush, Remarks On The Fourth Anniversary Of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Washington, D.C. 3/19/07)

President Bush "Pleased" Iraqi Government "Meeting Benchmarks." "I was pleased that he's meeting benchmarks that he had set out for his government. One of the benchmarks was to move Iraqi troops into the city of Baghdad – troops that will be complemented by our own troops. He is meeting those obligations. A second such benchmark is that he would change the rules of engagement so that criminals, regardless of their religion, would be brought to justice in equal fashion. He is meeting that benchmark. Thirdly, he passed a budget of which $10 billion is available for reconstruction. He said he would do that; the budget has been passed, he has met that benchmark." (President George W. Bush, Remarks Meeting With Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Ambassador-Designee To Iraq, Washington D.C., 2/16/07)

UPDATE: Watching Mort and Fred. Fred says Bill Clinton is the Third Rail of American politics--touch him and you die. NRO getting dueling press releases, Ramesh at the Corner:
While McCain trumpets the fact that Lawrence Eagleburger and Conrad Burns—incidentally, a man who is single-handedly responsible for the fact that Harry Reid is the Senate majority leader.
He thinks Mitt's release is silly on Hillary but I think it's very illustrative of McCain's coziness with the Washington elite. Kathryn Jean Lopez with the footage under discussion, which she calls "weak point of outrage":

UPDATE: David Freddoso in Florida with a number of thoughts--he thinks McCain will win because the seniors are out in force. More:
I've been criss-crossing the state here, and I haven't had a chance to post much. I'm just back from a McCain town hall in Fort Myers, so here are a few points before I go to dinner:

1) A full 120,000 Republican absentee ballots in Florida have yet to be returned. Based on the current early-voting numbers, and absentees received, there will probably be more than 500,000 votes cast in the Republican primary before Election Day even begins. Usually there are tens of thousands of absentees that don’t get returned, but many Republicans also waited until late in filling them out and mailing them in. This will minimize the premature vote for Fred Thompson, as well as the vote for Rudy. Floridians wanted to see what voters did in South Carolina before they made their choice.
UPDATE: Question on McCain's ACU ratings---yes they have slipped in recent years. No wonder he quotes his lifetime rating.

UPDATE: Well Obama wins South Carolina. Live blogging at RCP. Hillary may come in third? John Edwards is from the state. Is Bill a detriment? I don't know about this, but it could be--Democrats operate largely on emotion. How ugly:

Former Clintonista Dick Morris knows. He knows better than anyone alive how the HillBillys think, and he sees what I see. He’s figured out the brilliant if repulsive campaign strategy of the Clintons, and how they have turned South Carolina into their Venus Fly Trap. The Obama campaign will fly in, breathe deep the sweet smell of electoral success and then never escape.

In fact, it is possible Obama won’t win a single state after South Carolina. He could even lose his home state of Illinois.


As Morris puts it:

“If Hillary loses South Carolina and the defeat serves to demonstrate Obama’s ability to attract a block vote among black Democrats, the message will go out loud and clear to white voters that this is a racial fight. That will trigger a massive white backlash against Obama and will drive white voters to Hillary Clinton.
UPDATE: Time reporter says McCain's charge against Romney on Iraq is a "misleading low blow"

UPDATE: McCain must be pulling in all his favors because his grassroots support is falling off. This following his low blow on the war, now he seeks and gets the endorsement of Governor Crist of Florida at the last minute. The governor was going to stay neutral, but McCain must really need him. We'll see how it all stacks up, as a number of former Governor Jeb Bush's (who has not endorsed anyone) allies are supporting Romney.

Previous posts: Sunshine State Mapped Out, Here Comes the Sun!, Mitt's the Conservative Choice, GOP Illinois, Focus on the Race

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