"It's a big day for early Pawlenty obituaries," wrote Ben Smith, citing articles from Neil King and our own Sam Stein/Jon Ward tandem, all of whom provided readers with reasons to question Pawlenty's vitality -- he was "too local," or he lacked a longstanding team of advisers, or his "dynamic personality" was too submerged.
That big day went on to become a big week for early Pawlenty obituaries. And it's easy to see why -- anemic poll numbers, lackluster fundraising, aides working for no pay, conflicting messages about whether he was finally "downplaying" the Iowa caucuses or finally competing in Iowa "in earnest." The New York Times'' Jeff Zeleny wrote that after being "the first in line" to run in 2012, it was looking like Pawlenty was sure to be "the earliest major candidate to be shown the door." Bloomberg's John McCormick wrote a piece with a headline that no one in the Pawlenty camp wants out there: "Failure in Iowa's Straw Poll May Doom Pawlenty's 2012 Presidential Effort." Steve Kornacki went even grimmer in a piece titled, "When a campaign starts to smell like death."
We at the Speculatron will remind you that the obituary page was where Tim Pawlenty began.
While we have Kornacki's piece in mind, we'll allow for a similar visitation from the Ghost Of Campaigns Past.
"WoooOOOOooOO! Don't forget, though! So many people were writing off John McCain early on in the campaign cycle! But he rose and won!" True enough, ghostie. Never forget. But let's recall that John McCain had a run under his belt at the time, a big national profile, a made-for-movie life story, a dedicated team of longstanding advisers, and a record of getting big things done in the Senate -- things people remembered, things that were defined by his involvement. By contrast, as Kornacki points out, Pawlenty's presence in the race begins with the definition that he is an alternative to someone else, and erodes from there:
The unspoken premise of Pawlenty's campaign has been that Romney is simply unacceptable to too many important factions of the Republican Party -- and that once party elites realize this, they'll turn to Pawlenty, who meets the activist base's various litmus tests and is generic enough to be a "safe" general election candidate. Other than that, he really doesn't have much to offer -- no fun, lively or exciting personality or rhetoric, no inspiring life story, no big ideas. He doesn't stand out in a crowd; he blends in.
Indeed. Cellophane. Mister cellophane. That should have been TPaw's name: "Mister Cellophane." Because you can look right through him, walk right by him, and never know he's there.
The same cannot be said of Michele Bachmann, who's running strong in Iowa and is now looking better and better in New Hampshire. And while the media looked right past Ron Paul this week, the fact that he outraised all but Mitt Romney this last quarter speaks for itself. Speaking of Romney -- he's still dedicating himself to the future, in which he's squaring off with President Obama. But Romney's week was defined by errors, portents, and the notion that the win may not be as easy as he thought it would be.
Speaking of Obama, fractures are forming between him and his base as everyone contends with bad jobs numbers and an impending "grand bargain" that could threaten Social Security and Medicare. Herman Cain's found himself in need of a bump, too -- he'll try to obtain one from Stephen Colbert. Does Michele Bachmann really want to destroy a productive sector of the American economy by banning pornography? Can Newt Gingrich get by with niche support? And as we welcome someone named Thad McCotter to the Speculatron this week, we're bidding farewell to someone as well. To find out who, please enter the Speculatron for the week of July 8, 2011.
Michele Bachmann continues to be the hottest brand in the GOP presidential contest. She's performing strong in Iowa, but the biggest news this week is how well she's doing in New Hampshire. Although New Hampshire is long thought to be a safe haven for Mitt Romney, Bachmann's been muscling her way into the conversation and up the poll rankings. She's now in second place, trailing by single digits, and closing in on Romney. And if Bachmann prevails in Iowa, she need only perform respectably in the Granite State to get her ticket punched to the primaries beyond. Right now, if the Bachmann camp has a concern, it's that it's become too big, too soon. But that's a pretty nice problem to have. Bachmann took to the airwaves in Iowa this weekc releasing an ad in which she promised to be "the unifying choice that will beat Obama." Of course, she also promised to default on America's debt and plunge the entire country into economic calamityc so maybe we'll all be unified around total and irreversible destitution. It's okay, though, because she is pretty sure that God will take care of the poorc so there's no need for the government to concern itself with their welfare. Of course, that promise is typically thought to be redeemed in the afterlife, but whatever! The meek shall inherit the Earth as soon as they form a Super PAC and receive unlimited corporate money! Bachmann's newfound popularity has led the media to re-scrutinize her personal lifec though it's uncertain if they're going to tell the world anything they don't already know. Hey, did you hear that Bachmann hates gay people? Did you know that she's out there on the culty fringes of the Christian universe? Yes, you did, because you have been alive for at least the past four years. This is the sort of media coverage that, while critical in its bent, won't bother the Bachmann campaign at all. The only people who will be turned off by this stuff are the already-turned off. For devotees, the media attention will only harden their resolve to turn out for the Minnesota representative. Perhaps less well known is that fact that Bachmann has staked out some hawkish territory on foreign policy and the war in Afghanistan. As Josh Rogin reports: Bachmann, meanwhile, in a marked and seemingly calculated way, has come out forcefully seeking to separate out national security from the Tea Party's cost-cutting, budget-slashing, government-shrinking agenda. In a June 28 interview with NPR, Bachmann criticized Obama's announcement to draw down troops in Afghanistan, accused the president of placing political considerations ahead of national security, and implored the president to follow the advice of outgoing International Security Assistance Force commander Gen. David Petraeus, who recommended a slow pace of withdrawal. "Gen. Petraeus, who's in charge of winning the war effort in Afghanistan, understands that we need to win the war on terror. We must never forget that 9/11 was hatched in the caves and the mountains of Afghanistan. The Taliban has a presence there. Al Qaeda has a presence there. We must defeat them in their backyard. And it's important that Gen. Petraeus and [Lt.] Gen. [John] Allen have the resources that they need to be successful in southern Afghanistan and then also in eastern Afghanistan," she said. If that sounds extremely close to the position of the leading GOP hawk senators, such as McCain, that's because it is. In fact, Bachmann met with McCain in late June to discuss national security issues and Afghanistan, according to two sources familiar with the meeting. That's not to say she is taking his advice directly, but she is seeking his counsel. Of course, as Ben Smith notes, she's taken a non-interventionist stance on Libya. But if she's seeking out advice from McCain, there may be something to her "unifying" pledge, after all. That doesn't mean, however, that she's ultimately going to be seen as electable by independents, who will continue to see her as a person who routinely says supremely daffy things. Bachmann was the first of the 2012 candidates to sign Bob Vander Plaats' "Marriage Vow" pledge. As Judd Legem points out, one of the things Bachmann has committed herself to by doing so is to seek out a way of banning pornography. How is the internet supposed to make any money if she does that? Thanks a lot, job killer!
For a while there, Herman Cain was the hot new thing in politics, riding his Cain Train mainly against the grain: the non-politician's politician was a "problem solver" who was going to run America like he ran his pizza business -- with stock corporate-speak and promises to Always Be Planning To Have Plans To Do More Planning. But now, Cain's train is starting to wane. For the past week, the news out of his campaign has been nothing but turmoil. He's shed staffers in the early states. His poll numbers have plateaued. His fundraising haul didn't exactly light up the sky. And there are all these weird reports that the campaign has been on some sort of "gay purge." Maybe destroying the Cain campaign was an item on the "gay agenda?" We just don't know. But Cain has a "secret weapon to get stuff done," in the form of the corporate-speak bromides he's always saying out loud: "Make sure you're working on the right problem, and assign the right resources." And trust falls, lots of trust falls. Paul Waldman says that this is to be expected of a political campaign that says it's going to run itself like a business: The candidate who says, "I'm not a politician, I'm a businessman!" has always been one of my pet peeves. If someone came to your house and said, "I'm not a plumber, I'm an accountant, which is why I've got just the kind of outside-the-box thinking necessary to fix that leaky toilet," you'd tell him to take a hike. Running a campaign is not like running a business: it's a unique type of organization with unique kinds of demands. Being an effective candidate or legislator requires a different set of skills than selling pizzas. Among many other things, managing campaign staff and volunteers is not like managing employees of a business. They have different incentives, different motivations, and act in different ways. This is what almost every businessman/politician finds out. They almost inevitably fail. It looks like righting this ship is going to require some outside assistance. So Cain is going to go on The Colbert Report, and get himself some of that "Colbert bump," which is weird, because just last week, Cain was whining to anyone who would listen about the Jon Stewart-sized burr wedged in his ass. Speaking of, this week, Cain was also on the teevee criticizing Time magazine's cover story on the Constitution, despite the fact that he hadn't even completed reading the five-page story. Jon Stewart was right! Herman Cain just flat out doesn't like to read!
The good news for Newt Gingrich is that it's possible that his collapsing campaign has finally hit the bottom, with nowhere left to go but up. Or it can just stay there, who knows? Gingrich primed everyone to expect his fundraising numbers from the last quarter to be bad, and lo and behold, they were: His haul was a mere $2 million, bringing up the hind end of the more seriously regarded pack of GOP candidates. His campaign is also $1 million in debt, though God only knows where that money was spent. Gingrich says that he believes that when everything is totaled up in the next quarter, his campaign will be "very healthy," probably because he has many fewer minions now to pay then he did when he began. But his poll numbers have dipped so low that they're only barely measureable, and trending in the wrong direction. And so he's turned to some guy named Greg Ganske, a former Congressman from way back in the day, to help out by serving as his finance co-chair in the Hawkeye State. Ganske, presumably, had nothing better to do, so he's telling people that Newt needs to establish some "credibility," which is something someone should have told him to start doing years ago, when he was doing his sixteen year "I'm thinking of running for President" tease campaign. Gingrich must have spent his two-week long vacation reading the Chris Anderson books that the rest of the world read four years ago, because he now believes that his comeback will come by knitting together enough "niche" pockets of support to build a coalition: For most presidential candidates, Alzheimer's is a third- or fourth-tier subject, at best. But as Gingrich sees it, Alzheimer's, as well as other niche topics such as military families' concerns and pharmaceutical issues,are priorities for passionate patches of the American electorate. By offering himself as a champion of pet causes, Gingrich believes he can sew together enough narrow constituencies to make a coalition -- an unconventional one, yes, but a coalition nevertheless. Yeah, this will work. Gingrich will reach out to Iowa's Albanian community, and Inuits, and dudes who like wearing spats, and whatever Big Bad Voodoo Daddy fans remain, and will ride this shambling wreck of constituents to, who knows? Maybe a sixth place finish in the Iowa caucus. Dare to dream! This is not to say that Gingrich isn't still inspiring. As soon as he found out he could do it for free, he signed up to be on that new Google Plus ka-jigger. And the chat rooms are open! Hopefully people are sharing David Rees' "Ten Point Action Plan For Spending One Million Dollars At Tiffany" with each other. Meanwhile, The Hill's Christian Heinze is wondering if whether this entire "presidential campaign" is really nothing more than an elaborate strategy to sell a bunch of books. We're glad you're finally caught up with the rest of the class, Christian.
The Jon Huntsman campaign, for the moment, is all about a rivalry with Mitt Romney, the guy that Huntsman declared to be lacking in "credibility." So now, it's an undercurrent battle of subtle shots between the front-runner and Mr. Civil. Huntsman responded to Romney flipping and flopping on whether the economy was made "worse" under Huntsman's former boss, President Obama, with a subtle display of undermining: "There's been a very anemic pick-up." His campaign also got into a battle of press releases with the Romney-backing Meg Whitman. Romney, for his part, responded with continual reminders that he plans to beat Huntsman in his own back yard, and he tied a bow on that by snapping up the support of one-time Huntsman ally and current Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz. Some good news for Huntsman, though, as former President Bill Clinton said he "kinda likes" him. I'm sure GOP primary voters will take that to heart. Other than that, Huntsman has basically spent his week doing things like posing for an Annie Leibovitz photo shoot for an upcoming issue of Vogue, a move that caused Peter Feld -- veteran of Democratic politics and the magazine industry -- to quip, "How not to run for president, Jon Huntsman edition."
Gary Johnson's Fourth of July message to America was that "We need another Declaration of Independence." Why? Is the one we have not sufficient to the task of sitting in the National Archives, inspiring tourists and Nicolas Cage's screenwriters? "There's nothing wrong with the old one," Johnson says, "I just think we perhaps need another one." Well, how many jobs can we create in the parchment industry? I'm willing to give this a try. One thing that's very clear this week is that Johnson will definitely extend more independence to poker players. This is a niche voter segment that Johnson thinks could be a key to victory, I guess? Conor Friedersdorf explains: In a campaign stop only he would make, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson is expected tonight at one of the Las Vegas parties that kicks off the World Series of Poker. His attendance is part of a new effort to solicit campaign contributions from the poker community: its membership has been particularly attuned to politics since April, when the federal government shut down the three largest sites for online play by indicting their founders and top executives. It's a perfect issue for Johnson: totally in keeping with his beliefs, and tremendously important to a small community with deep pockets and a libertarian streak. "The federal government should not be involved in restricting lawful commerce that doesn't harm anyone," Johnson has told them. "Support me for President, and I'll support your freedom. Get in the game, donate to the campaign." And don't stick around, endlessly calling when you know your hand is gonna get beat, Johnson donors! He needs all the campaign contributions he can get! Oh, and by the way, legalize pot, KTHXBAI, says Johnson. These are just some of the "strange ways" Johnson gets "media attention."
Fred Karger remains fired up by New York's new marriage equality law, and he's taking on opponents of same-sex marriage of all stripes. Over at Alan Colmes' site, Karger hits Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, for some shadiness: Poor Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown; what a sad couple. The front group they run for the Mormon and Catholic Churches, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), is under an active investigation for money laundering in Maine. This investigation by the State Attorney General and the Maine Ethics Commission has been underway for nearly two years, because NOM likely believes that it is above the law. Well, one or both of these alleged lawbreakers could end up in prison if there was "intent" when they decided not to report the source of the $1.9 million that they raised to take away Maine's marriage equality law back in November 2009. You see, they decided not to report the names of any of their donors as required under Maine's election law. That must be because they promised their contributors that their names would be kept "secret" in dozens of emails that I turned over to that state's Ethics Commission. Maggie and Brian got caught after I filed a sworn complaint against them, and the Maine Ethics Commission voted to investigate NOM on October 1, 2009. Maggie and Brian then sued the State of Maine to stop its investigation. They also sued Maine to get its election law declared unconstitutional. Karger's not content to go after the cartoon villains of the marriage equality battle. He also lit into President Barack Obama for his passivity on the issue in the Guardian: I can't help but wonder: if there had been a "state senator Obama (Democrat, New York)", would he have been the second Democrat opposing week? The president said recently that he is "evolving" on gay marriage. Well, I wrote an article last December that said, "President Obama, Evolve Already!" Would a New York state senator Obama have joined with Maggie Gallagher, chairman of the National Organisation for Marriage (Nom), Archbishop Timothy Dolan and New York state senator Díaz to oppose New York's marriage equality law? Probably - since his official position remains that he is against gay marriage. Yet he is fine about taking massive amounts of money from the gay community. He just did it again, in New York City the day before the vote, raking in millions for his re-election campaign and the Democratic national committee (DNC). Now that takes gall. I am puzzled that a man who is the product of a biracial marriage, whose own parents could not have married in 16 states before 1967, seems unable to understand the extreme pain that bigotry causes. But 15 years ago, then candidate for Illinois state senate, Barack Obama supported gay marriage. It wasn't until he ran for the United States Senate, in 2004, that he switched positions. It sure seems like politics to me, which is sad. I have never heard of anyone switching sides from pro-gay marriage, as the president used to be, to anti-gay marriage. If only the fight in Karger was proportionate to the amount of available campaign cash at his disposal.
Oh, hello, America. We hear that you guys are still really down on the rest of the GOP field. Can we interest you in some Thaddeus McCotter? He's funny! And he plays guitar. He's a Representative from Michigan, so he's the closest thing the 2012 field has to a member of the White Stripes. I know, I know, you GOP voters were hoping for something more like a Chris Christie or something, for some reason. All I got for you is this McCotter stuff. Interested at all? Well, it doesn't matter, Thad McCotter will run for president. And so, we welcome him to the Speculatron. What can we tell you about McCotter. Did we mention that he plays guitar? Oh, yes, we did. Well, McCotter's no fan of Mitt Romney. Or Barack Obama. McCotter's the guy who held a rally in Detroit that coincided with Romney's visit to the state, at which he said, "Motor City Hospitality dictates a Michigan message to Mitt...Our struggling families, entrepreneurs and workers think Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama are not rivals, they're running mates." He's also said that both RomneyCare and ObamaCare are "inhumane." McCotter is also probably the only Republican in the race that labor unions will be predisposed to supporting, no matter how many times Tim Pawlenty says the word "meatpacker." That said, there's likely to be a frost between McCotter and Labor, as Kevin Bogardus reports: McCotter was one of only 13 House Republicans in 2007 to vote for the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), legislation that would have eased union organizing. Labor has campaigned for the bill for years but has been beaten back by opposition from business groups and most Republicans. McCotter rescinded his support for EFCA earlier this year, however, saying the standoff over collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin had changed his thinking about it, according to an interview he gave to Manny Lopez of TheMichiganView.com. McCotter did, however, vote "against an amendment that would have defunded the National Labor Relations Board" -- which is shaping up to be one of the GOP's big bogeymen in 2012. As for a legislative record, here's Dave Weigel: What has he actually gotten enacted? H.Res. 604: Expressing the nation's sincerest appreciation and thanks for the service of the members of the 303rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) upon the occasion of the final reunion of the 303rd Bomb Group (H) Association. H.Res. 838: Welcoming His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on his first apostolic visit to the United States. H.R. 2215: To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 140 Merriman Road in Garden City, Michigan, as the "John J. Shivnen Post Office Building". And we're done. So what's going on here? McCotter's tilt at the White House is the sort of campaign you lay alongside the postcard from Hell you get from the snowballs that reads, "Everything's great! Wish you were here." But he hasn't said yet that he's not planning to run for re-election, either. (Previously, there was speculation that McCotter was taking a flier because he was set to lose his seat in redistricting; it's much less certain that's going to actually happen now.) Allahpundit says that he's previously imagined McCotter was just aiming to "raise his profile ahead of a possible Senate run." He's less sure of that, now that the McCotter campaign is underway, but I'm inclined to believe that his previous instincts were correct.
You know what Sarah Palin got up to this week? Yeah, neither do we. I mean, we could look it up, if we cared to, but we just don't care anymore. There's a whole pack of actual presidential candidates working hard, and Sarah Palin is promoting a movie, so it's become untenable for us to keep including her in this mix, seeing as she's not running for president now, or in all likelihood, ever. Does Palin realize that there's this dude named Peter Singleton who is in Iowa, "making a significant financial sacrifice by volunteering almost all his time to a campaign that does not yet exist?" She should probably tell that guy to stop. The economy is bad, Sarah! Think about maybe getting in touch with real Americans, in the heartland! If she wants to run, she will, and we'll gladly take her back. But we're done. Go home, Peter Singleton! You can keep up with all of Palin's Facebook trolling for free.
Is Ron Paul poised to take his perennial candidacy to the next level? We won't get a clear indication of whether that could happen until August's Ames Straw Poll. All the same, it's hard to not be impressed with the way the Paul campaign have gone about carefully laying the groundwork. Whatever the limitations of Paul's voracious fanbase, the campaign is absolutely a veteran effort, and it shows. This week, the most underreported story, frankly, was Paul's fundraising success. No, he's not anywhere near Mitt Romney levels, but he bested the rest of the GOP field this past quarter. "I'm in this race to win!" exclaimed Paul. You better recognize! Paul has already put his money to good use, snatching up a prime parcel of land at the forthcoming Ames Straw Poll. Now he'll try to grow his Iowa base of support ahead of the poll by getting his message out with a modest radio buy. He's also going to hit the trail in Iowa with his son, Senator Rand Paul, who arguably has achieved what his father is setting out to do -- expand past the Paul fanbase into Tea Party and even establishment GOP terrain. And in Texas, polls show that Paul continues to beat all comers -- including, potentially, Rick Perry. But we know that what really matters to all of you is the news that the Ron Paul Blimp may be making a comeback. May the sky soon flood with the terrifying sight of libertarian dirigibles!
Well, we basically ran down what's going on with TPaw in our introduction, so we will not belabor the point here. We'll just say that circa 2011, if you want to be thought of as having a vital, current campaign, in which you're making a strong case for yourself while pointing out the deficiencies of your rivals, you never want to see sentences like this appear in news stories about your campaign: Tim Pawlenty escalated his war of words Thursday night with former Vice President Walter Mondale. I mean, going to war with Walter Mondale? What decade is this? The whole reason Pawlenty is in this "war of words stems from the fact that he's decided that he should declare himself the "victor" of past Minnesota government shutdown showdowns, even as the state is currently under one. Sure the state is losing money and Minnesotans are being laid off hither and yon, but why doesn't everyone think back to the halcyon days of Pawlenty's governorship and remember how he "won"? Surely everyone can feel good about that! I also have no idea what Pawlenty is going to do in Iowa, going forward. In response to all of the campaign doom-saying, Pawlenty told the editorial board of the Des Moines Register that "this week is the first time that I've campaigned in earnest in Iowa." See, previously, the Pawlenty campaign had just been sending drunk campaign workers door-to-door. But just a day before, Pawlenty was downplaying the Iowa Caucuses in an interview with David Brody. About the only thing we're clear on is that Pawlenty is a fan of Lady Gaga. For what it's worth, we think his assessment of her talents is both well-informed and spot on!
At long last, it appears that Buddy Roemer is going to get his long-shot, burn-down-K-Street presidential campaign off the ground. Or, at least a bit further off the ground. We'll know more tomorrow, as Roemer is planning to have a rally in Bossier City, Louisiana, at which time he is expected to formally declare his intentions to run for president. Signs seem to point in that direction, anyway, as this week, Business First Bank named Robert S. Greer, Jr. as their interim chairman of the bank's board of directors, clearing the way for Roemer to be temporarily replaced in that position. If you want to fund his campaign, bring no more than $100, because that's all he'll take from you. An interesting side note: As Roemer preps for his formal declaration, and old nemesis from his past political career -- white supremacist David Duke -- is apparently mulling a presidential run of his own.
When we last looked in at the Romney campaign, things looked for all the world like all was well. Bachmann was surging in the polls, but also drawing scrutiny away from the former Massachusetts Governor. The money picture looked rosy -- and it got rosier: the $18.25 million he collected this past quarter eclipsed the rest of the GOP field combined. And Romney was campaigning as if he'd already secured the nomination -- targeting the President, not his rivals, on the campaign trail. Despite this, cracks are starting to form in Romney's foundation. I mean, that fundraising quarter was pretty good, but was it great? It actually came in under expectations. And it lags behind his previous candidacy. His polling numbers in New Hampshire -- the first state he'll actively compete in -- are high. But are they solid? Bachmann's looking better and better in his backyard. Jonathan Chait read the internals of the recent Public Policy Polling numbers in the Granite State and concluded: "Even before sustaining serious attacks, his favorable ratings in New Hampshire are dropping at rates that ought to terrify his campaign." In addition, this week, we were reminded that Romney still has miles to go before he's embraced by evangelical voters. He and Mike Huckabee seem even further apart. And Romney still frequently goes out and manages to make little sense: he seems to not have any knowledge about what's been going on between the White House or the Congress on Libya (it's in the newspapers, Mitt!), and he's against the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill...or at least he thinks he is! He's not actually aware of what's in it. But the worst thing Romney has going for him is that he's been flipping and flopping on his campaign's signature line -- that President Obama made the recession "worse." See, part of the problem is that it's not technically true, by any current measure. The economy is terrible, but it's improved over early 2009 levels nonetheless. So, having drawn criticism for that, Romney told reporters from NBC news that he never said it. It was subsequently pointed out that he had said that, repeatedly. So he reversed himself again! The Los Angeles Times Maeve Reston just decimated him: "Don't forget what this is all about," he told the group that crowded around him after he stepped onto a wooden replica of a soapbox in the town green. "We love this country; it's the greatest country in the history of the Earth, and we face extraordinary challenges right now. Our president has failed us. "The recession is deeper because of our president; it's seen an anemic recovery because of our president. The people who want the status quo can vote for him, but people who want real change and jobs for Americans are going to vote for us." Those statements -- that the president had driven the economy deeper into recession but also that an "anemic" recovery had occurred -- not only seemed to be contradictory, but also at odds with what Romney has previously argued. In a June debate in New Hampshire, Romney said Obama "didn't create the recession, but he made it worse and longer." Later, during a New Hampshire visit, he was quoted by NBC as saying the state's voters "want to see an economy that's growing again, and the president's failed. He did not cause this recession, but he made it worse." But when asked to elaborate on those statements in a visit to a closed factory in Allentown, Pa., he backtracked: "I didn't say things are worse." On Monday in Amherst, he combined both messages. It's so embarrassing, that the Manchester Union Leader's editors actually wrote an item that may as well have been titled, "For F--k's Sake, Mittens, Say It Like This!" When the conservative paper in the state you hope to win is giving you line readings, baby, you've got problems.
Rick Santorum insists that "being at the back of the pack is not a bad place to be." Well, that's where he is, so bully for him! If you want to know what we think, well...we really would recommend the front of the pack. It's pretty awesome up there. And Santorum knows that, actually -- witness how he was quick to jump towards the front of the line to sign Bob Vander Plaats' "Marriage Vow" pledge. Rick Santorum has thus far declined to release how much money his campaign raised over the last quarter, which tends to indicate that the amount is probably perilously close to "not much." Santorum's pretty defensive about it, telling Radio Iowa, "We'll wait and see if money is the determiner ... If it was last time, you know, [Romney] would have been the nominee of the party." Well, sure, Rick. But "last time," Mike Huckabee won the Iowa caucus, and then promptly ran out of money. In the meanwhile, Santorum's doing what he usually does, which is to express outrage at this or that. He's still hopping mad about the whole gay marriage thing and the concept of "being a member of the LGBT community" in general. He's mad at Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman because of their plans to basically skip the Iowa caucus, saying: "It shows weakness, not strength." And he's really, really angry at President Obama's call for an end to a "tax break for corporate jet purchases." I mean, who is closer to Jesus right now, than rich dudes riding around on their Gulfstreams? Fly like a G6, to heaven, to receive first class accommodations! There was a funny moment this week where Santorum went on CNN and railed against the fact that the Obama administration had "created only 240 million jobs." If only! That would basically employ a sizable portion of planet Earth. (For the record, we actually need something in the order of 14 million jobs.)
President Barack Obama has famously struggled to maintain the bond between his administration and the progressive activists who provided the energy, during the 2008 campaign, to ensure the existence of an Obama administration in the first place. Despite that, polls have indicated that discontent among the active progressive community hasn't migrated into the overall Democratic electorate. But with a grand bargain on the debt ceiling looming -- one that looks as if it's going to put what remains of the New Deal onto the chopping block-- those flames of disaffection are whipping up anew. Yesterday, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee responded to news of entitlement cuts being offered in a debt ceiling deal rather harshly. In a statement, the PCCC writes: The New York Times reports that President Obama is offering Republicans "substantial spending cuts, including in such social programs as Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security -- programs that had been off the table." [...] "President Obama: If you cut Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits for me, my family, or families like mine, don't ask for a penny of my money or an hour of my time in 2012. I'm going to focus on electing bold progressive candidates who will fight to protect our Democratic legacy." [...] The Washington Post reports that "congressional Democrats were alarmed by the president's proposal." Frankly, it's outrageous. President Obama is on the verge of doing what George W. Bush couldn't do with a Republican Congress: Put Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits on the chopping block. We've done the polling in swing states -- by overwhelming margins, voters oppose these cuts. There's no need for a bad "deal." If we fight, voters are on our side. But if President Obama caves on these core principles, he will be harming all Democrats in 2012 -- and millions of Americans will suffer. It's just wrong. The key part, I believe, is that "by overwhelming margins, voters oppose those cuts." They also oppose the maintenance of Bush-era tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans, which also draw away revenue from these programs, and others. But, as always, we'll wait and see. The Obama reelection campaign is apparently still raising a massive amount of money from donors.
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