It's been less than three weeks since the Ames Straw Poll, and the narrative of this still-young campaign season is flush with Rick Perry triumphalism. He's blown up the field, established early beachheads and kept his high numbers consistent and persistent. Perry has started stealing Mitt Romney's lunch money, and in one poll (STANDARD CAVEAT: National head-to-heads aren't all that predictive in September before the primaries begin and give more of an indication of near-term media narrative futures than long-term electoral results), Perry managed to top President Barack Obama for the first time.
Oh, and we're not mucking about when we say that poll numbers like that affect the near-term media narrative. Here's what near-term media narrative-mongers at Politico have done just this week with Rick Perry:
In his two weeks as a presidential candidate, Rick Perry has done something that neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney could do: wake up the left.
Perry panic has spread from the conference rooms of Washington, D.C., to the coffee shops of Brooklyn, with the realization that the conservative Texan could conceivably become the 45th president of the United States, a wave of alarm centering around Perry’s drawling, small-town affect and stands on core cultural issues such as women’s rights, gun control, the death penalty, and the separation of church and state.
Now, naturally, you should read "from the conference rooms of Washington, D.C., to the coffee shops of Brooklyn" and think, "LOL, Christ, that's maybe the dumbest sentence I've ever read." But here's D.C.'s Ezra Klein and the Brooklyn-adjacent Daily Intel crew saying, "Those guys have a point." And here is Planned Parenthood's Cecile Richards (daugher of Ann) basically fulfilling the original hypothesis.
And the new narrative tropes haven't just agitated the left. A day earlier, Jonathan Martin's piece, "Is Rick Perry dumb?" was getting the right's knickers in a twist as well. For example, it led Jim Geraghty to to file this litany of musings/complaints under the banner, "Is Media Coverage of Rick Perry Dumb?"
Well, we're not sure that any of this bothers Rick Perry at all. People are talking about him. He's a sensation, and it's taken very little effort. What's to worry about.
On the flip side of Perry's effortless ability to garner attention, let's consider the plights of Gary Johnson, Fred Karger, Thaddeus McCotter and Buddy Roemer. These are your Frozen-Out Foursome, caught in the Catch-22 of debate rules and regulations. See, these guys really need to get some name recognition and a spot in a public forum in order to boost their polling numbers. But the best means of doing so is participating in a GOP debate, and the barrier the Foursome keep hitting is that they haven't gotten their polling numbers high enough to be invited onstage. But a debate could solve everything.
Last week, Roemer's campaign manager sent out a scathing email, throwing hellfire and damnation on the whole debate cartel and its "bullshit rules." This week, CNN announced that the polling criteria for its upcoming debate was even more pick-and-choosey than previous guidelines -- allowing debate organizers to save the name brands who've cratered in the polls of late, without having to extend the courtesy to the Foursome, whom voters nationwide haven't had a chance to evaluate yet (and who occasionally aren't even named in the polls in which they need to do well).
Well, those two events seemed to have set all four of these candidates complaining anew, with Johnson claiming conspiracy, Karger crowing about the FEC's decision to investigate his exclusion from the Fox debate and McCotter complaining about getting shut out of the forthcoming NBC News debate. Will the Frozen-Out Foursome's complaining get them an invite? Or do they risk becoming known as candidates who are all about complaining about debates? We're going to find out soon enough.
Beyond the saga of the haves and have-nots, the week was not bereft of interesting moments. Michele Bachmann told a joke about God that few found funny. Ron Paul called for the end of a government agency at a moment few found timely. Some wag predicted a "shoo-in" Obama victory according to a model few found plausible. Jon Huntsman talked jobs, Mitt Romney switched gears, and is Newt Gingrich poised for a comeback? (No. No, he is not.) For all of this and more, please feel free to enter the Speculatron for the week of Sept. 2, 2011.
Last week, Michele Bachmann and her campaign found the strength of their once-surging candidacy ebbing away in the wake of Rick Perry's decision to enter the race. Suddenly, she was looking like a presidential aspirant whose moment had come and gone. And based upon the widespread reports this week that Bachmann has all but conceded the state of New Hampshire, it seemed like some amount of circling-the-wagons was happening. Any silver lining out there? Why yes! Apparently, in the form of confused Jewish voters: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is facing a new challenge: He's having trouble raising money from some Jewish donors who mistakenly believe one of his opponents, Michele Bachmann, is Jewish. Some Jewish donors are telling fund-raisers for Romney, a Mormon, that while they like him, they'd rather open their wallets for the "Jewish candidate," who they don't realize is actually a Lutheran, The Post has learned. LOL, what now? Is this true? As it happens, that hot campaign scoop from the New York Post was the subject of some thorough vetting from the Washington Post's Erik Wemple and New York mag's Dan Amira. They weren't able to find anyone who was both (a) Jewish and (b) somehow confused about Bachmann's well-known religious leanings. (Wemple did get good quote from veteran GOP bundler Mel Sembler, however.) Of course, the matter got considerably easier to determine after Bachmann, in the wake of Hurricane Irene's devastating run up the East Coast, said: "I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?' Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending." After it was pointed out to Bachmann that her comment was, you know, somewhat crass, she claimed that she was only joking. But frankly, it didn't sound like something that anyone steeped in either Judaica or the comic stylings of the Borscht Belt would say. Not to worry, though, because soon enough Bachmann was pivoting to some other crazy new campaign trail idea. Say, people of the perennial battleground state of Florida, how does the idea of drilling the bejeezus out of the Everglades grab you? Yes, Michele Bachmann decided that the time was right to revive a long-since scuttled plan to open up Florida's beloved swamp for oil exploration, despite the fact that "There is no known evidence that there is a significant hydrocarbon deposit beneath the Everglades." It was not a very popular proposal, as you might imagine! It was not a very popular idea when Fred Thompson proposed it back in 2008, either. At the time, George W. Bush and Mitt Romney both opposed it. Florida's own Tea Party mascot Rep. Allen West very quickly offered to "straighten out" Bachmann for resurrecting the plan. But Bachmann would have none of it, saying that only a "radical environmentalist" would oppose the idea of digging through the Glades, looking for crude. So Allen West is a radical environmentalist now, we guess. Beyond that, Bachmann also promised to finally rid America of the scourge of anchor babies and job outsourcing -- by entertaining the idea of bringing down the minimum wage so that American businesses could have labor costs comparable to ... um ... overseas sweatshops. Take that, Rick Perry's "Texas Miracle"! Of course, maybe the problem with Bachmann isn't that Perry is better liked among her core supporters and all she has on hand to win them back are crass jokes about hurricanes and a promise to bring a new wave of impoverished workers to these shores to re-enact "There Will Be Blood" in Alligator Alley. Maybe she's just become boringly mainstream? Per Alex Pareene: Bachmann's already had all her entertaining edges smoothed out. She's on the trail doing an about-face on farm subsidies in Iowa. The clip of her saying "who likes white people" is actually a clip of her talking about "wet people," because of rain. The quote about God causing hurricanes to convince the government to stop spending was a bad joke, not a serious statement of sincere religious belief. She officially quit her controversial church, just like Barack Obama. She's practically ceding the gay-hating vote to Rick Santorum, declining to defend the strident bigotry that made her famous in Minnesota. At this point, she's a standard right-wing Republican with a nuttier-than-usual past. That nuttier-than-usual past has been well documented by journalists, and will be softened for mass consumption in her official campaign memoir. (Though maybe she'll clarify which Gore Vidal book made her a Republican.) Bachmann dialed back on the anti-gay and anti-abortion rhetoric once the Tea Party moment happened, sounding less like Pat Robertson and more like Ron Paul. Once she became a legitimate contender for the nomination, she went even more vanilla. The most interesting Bachmann stories of the summer have been about things she said and did years ago. She's boring now! Thank God Rick Perry's book came out before he made up his mind to run. Pareene goes on to note that rumor has it that Bachmann's memoir has been ghostwritten by fusty hack John Fund. Fund has denied that he has anything to do with Bachmann's book, which is precisely the sort of thing you do when someone asks, "Dude, I hear you are ghostwriting Michele Bachmann's campaign memoir. What happened to you?"
When we last left Herman Cain, he was off in Israel, seemingly cementing his also-ran status by hanging around with Glenn Beck on his "Restoring Courage" thingy. We thought that all signs pointed to Cain having peaked, but Jim Geraghty assures us that Cain had a good week because ... well ... he won the Georgia Straw Poll? Did you hear there was a Georgia Straw Poll? Well, there was one. Herman Cain won it. Apparently, it's significant that he beat Newt Gingrich, whose presidential campaign is all about taking vacations. Geraghty also says Cain had a good week because he got to "address a joint session of the Georgia legislature." Jon Huntsman did that a week ago, so I guess Huntsman was having a good week then, and nobody noticed. Cain also has a book coming out, and I bet he'll be able to score at least one free copy of that, so, you know, everything's coming up Cain. In the meantime, Cain is set to participate in the Florida Presidency 5 straw poll, the winner of which has always gone on to get the nomination. Right now, only Cain, Huntsman and Ron Paul are set to participate, so look for the Florida Presidency 5 straw poll's hot streak to come to an end.
Newt Gingrich, as you know, left the campaign trail last week and went to Hawaii, because he loves vacations and because he needed some time to regroup with his wife Callista, and eat poi off each other's bodies, or something. What can a 2012er achieve, in terms of doing something even remotely useful, by going to Hawaii in the late summer of 2011? Not much. But ... now that we think about it ... we suppose it might be useful to win the endorsement of former GOP Rep. Charles Djou, who served in that seat for five hot minutes. How did that turn out? According to Politico: "The former Republican congressman from Hawaii has snubbed Aloha State campaigner Newt Gingrich, throwing his support to Mitt Romney instead." Oh, well! In other Gingrich-related events, it seems that his 527 group American Solutions For Winning The Future has shut down and laid off its few remaining employees. As Ryan J. Reilly reports: American Solutions quietly sent a letter to the Federal Election Commission on Aug. 8 which dissolved their political action committee. The 527, according to an Aug. 18 filing with the IRS cited by Stone, spent $2.9 million in the first six months of the year, but raised just $2.4 million. When we last checked in with American Solutions, their PAC was raising just $34 per day. A more recent filing from June shows they raised just $3,000. Still, Paul Bedard says Newt Gingrich is poised for a "comeback." Because he ... um ... criticized the super committee in a debate and won some new donors. Jon Huntsman won a lot of new donors this week too. But it's Gingrich who's poised for a resurgence. Bedard became convinced of this after talking to a single, unnamed "GOP analyst," whose rosy take was confirmed by ... Newt Gingrich. Dave Weigel countered with an unnamed GOP analyst of his own, who said of this comeback notion: "It's far-fetched, bordering on comical." Of course, Bedard reminds us that everyone thought John McCain was dead in the water back in 2008, and so there's no reason to believe that Gingrich could ... Wait. What's that? Oh. We're being told that Gingrich "rejects that model." Maybe Gingrich is poised to "come back" to Hawaii at his earliest possible convenience! Elsewhere, Gingrich told reporters that the time he got "glitterbombed" by gay activists was an "assault." Said Gingrich: "When someone reaches into a bag and throws something on you, how do you know if it is acid or something that stains permanently or something that can blind you?" Here's a hint: It's really hard to carry acid in a bag? And also, you know it's acid when your flesh starts burning. And that's when it rises to the level of assault. It's too bad he's so down about that time he got glitter dumped on him, seeing as that was the last time his campaign was remotely "glittery."
Things have not been going well for Jon Huntsman, despite his game-changing appearance before the Georgia State Legislature, one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon someone polling in the single digits. This week, the Huntsman campaign continued to reshuffle deck chairs, sacking their New Hampshire campaign manager and replacing him, in what's considered to be Huntsman's make-or-break state, with a dude who used to work for ... Tim Pawlenty. Oy. But never mind that. Huntsman is "stepping up his game." You want a Jon Huntsman jobs plan? Boom. You got a Jon Huntsman jobs plan! And what is the Jon Huntsman jobs plan? Ezra Klein: Cut taxes on the rich. Deregulate everything. Drill baby frack baby frack baby drill. Do some trade stuff. Benjy Sarlin: Cut taxes on the rich. Some Paul Ryan stuff. Cut taxes on the rich. "Revenue neutral tax reform" ... which we remind you is like "cake neutral baking" or "cocktail neutral bartending." Cut taxes on the rich. Do some "Simpson Bowles stuff" that's not entirely "Simpson Bowles stuff." Seth Hanlon: Cut taxes on the rich. Oh, did we mention we do this by raising taxes on seniors and veterans? Travis Waldron: Oh, Jon Huntsman is done with that idea he had a few days ago where he said he might ask the rich to join in shared sacrifice and raise the capital gains tax. Jamelle Bouie: "In other words, Jon Huntsman has a tax plan that puts him in line with Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and other Republicans ... with this proposal, I'd be hard-pressed to call him a 'moderate.'" Yes, this may have been the week that everyone realized their favorite evolution-hugging, pro-science, civil unions-supporting, best-ever GOP pal who loves science and Captain Beefheart may actually just be a boring old doctrinaire conservative whose economic policies come straight from Heritage Foundation cocktail parties, who has "tricked billionaires" into supporting his quixotic campaign. (Some South Carolina Democrats seem to be fooled as well.)
Gary Johnson is one of many candidates who are starting to get more and more agitated at the sense that their constant exclusion from debates is evidence that the fix is in. It's ironic that, in this complaint, Johnson finds an ally in Fox News' Neil Cavuto, who told him this week that "the system's screwing you." You know, Neil, part of the "system" is your own organization, which locked Johnson out of the most recent Fox News debate, so why don't you toddle on down to Roger Ailes' office and give him what for? Here's what Johnson -- who's also excluded from next week's NBC News/Politico debate -- had to say about this: "I'm getting the sense that they come up with the rule after they look at me. I can't help but think that," Johnson said Tuesday, during a conference call with reporters. He has begun to wonder whether there was a small conspiracy to keep him out. "How do you pair the fact that I should be at 2 percent of the poll when these other guys who [poll] equal to me have outspent me 30 to 1? How is that even possible?" The hosts of the debate set rules that every participatant must be an officially declared candidate and get at least 4 percent in a national poll. Only about one in five Republican voters even know who Johnson is, according to Gallup polling. Johnson received 2 percent in the latest CNN poll, tying with Herman Cain and coming ahead of Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman. All three of those candidates, however, were in the last debate and will be in the next one. "Here it is, a poll comes out yesterday, has me ahead of these folks basically for the first time ever," Johnson griped. "The point is, I should be included. ... It appears as though they all get together and invoke 'the Gary Johnson rule.'" The most frustrating thing about constantly having to make your case for inclusion is that eventually, you start getting headlines about how you're fighting to be included. Pretty soon, you're best known as a guy whose whole platform seems to be about getting into a debate. The public starts to associate you with being a one-note complainer, and they figure, "Well, if that's all this guy is about, maybe he shouldn't be included. And that's how you end up being the brilliant ally of your own exclusion. To break the cycle, Johnson needs to do something pro-active. And here's Mike Riggs with some wonderful advice to start off: Johnson should go hard after the Hispanic vote. It's unclaimed territory, it puts some pressure on your opponents, and who knows? Maybe you start to move that poll needle in a way that can no longer be discounted and ignored.
Fred Karger, like Gary Johnson, is basically spending a considerable portion of his campaign bandwidth trying to get someone to let him into one of the GOP debates. This week, Karger reached out to the organizers of the NBC News/Politico debate to seek inclusion in the upcoming debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Naturally, Karger played up his connections to the late president: America needs a president like Ronald Reagan now more than ever. President Reagan was a true leader who was able to put partisan differences aside in order to do what was best for the country. Through Stu Spencer and Bill Roberts, I had the honor of working actively on the 1980 and 1984 Reagan-Bush campaigns with Stu and Bill. I worked with Bob Gray and Charles Wick on the First Inaugural Committee. I moved back to Washington and we ran the Governor's Participation office. [...] President Reagan was more than my boss; he was my mentor. President Reagan taught me about optimism, toughness, and getting along. He taught me about the diversity of this country and the Republican Party, how to get along and how to bring us together. The nation loved his decisive leadership. I have built my Presidential Campaign to emulate that Reagan spirit. In my speeches in Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida, South Carolina, my home state of California and throughout the country, I share with Americans that true Reagan spirit, his optimism and his ability to get along. Let America see a true Reagan Republican on the televised debate from the Reagan Presidential Library on September 7th. I hope that you and the other sponsors will let me on that stage. I promise to invoke President Reagan's memory and spirit at every turn, like no other Republican candidate for President can. Karger got a modicum of good news this week when the FEC told his campaign that they would investigate whether Karger was improperly kept out of the previous Fox News debate. According to a campaign email: Presidential candidate Fred Karger received confirmation today from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that it is now looking into the complaint he filed against Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch. The FEC considers it an official "Matter Under Review," and assigned Karger's request for investigation an FEC case number - MUR 6493. The FEC has also notified Murdoch, who must respond to the charges (see FEC letter below). Karger filed his 82 page complaint under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, because Fox News executives Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes did not allow him to participate in the Fox News Channel sponsored Presidential Debate held on August 11, 2011, even though he met their "pre-established objective criteria." Karger met all requirements established by Fox News to participate in its Ames, Iowa debate by reaching an average of 1% in five national polls when he received 2% in the Harris Interactive national survey released on August 4, 2011. In that poll, Karger was tied with former governors Tim Pawlenty (MN) and Jon Huntsman (UT), both of whom were allowed in the Fox News Debate. After meeting their requirement, Fox changed its criteria in order to exclude Karger. "I qualified for last month's Fox News Channel Debate fair-and-square, and was fully expecting to be on that stage in Ames," said Karger in a campaign press release. "For some reason, Fox News did not want me debating the other presidential candidates."
Thad McCotter is the third member of the Frozen-Out Foursome (along with Gary Johnson, Fred Karger and Buddy Roemer) who keep getting excluded from debates, and -- in what's becoming a broken record for this week's Speculatron Roundup -- he's complaining about this as well: McCotter failed to reach the one percent polling plateau Fox News required for participation in a debate earlier this month, and the Livonia Republican says MSNBC raised the bar for a debate it will broadcast live next week from California. "The new one is MSNBC's Reagan Library debate will be a four-percent standard," McCotter said this morning on The Dennis Miller show. "Now the irony is they gave people the chance to get that in one of eight polls, but the poll that came out today from Quinnipiac shows us tied with some of the people that will be on the stage again. "We're points behind the others, and yet we'll still be shut out of there." Can we just say that Michigan Live's Jonathan Oosting has such a smart, succinct take on all of this? Because Michigan Live's Jonathan Oosting has such a smart, succinct take on all of this: The public exposure afforded by a presidential debate -- even one trumped by the actual president -- would benefit longshots like McCotter, but the absurdity of such early debates is leading the networks to pick favorites a year before voters will have to decide. McCotter, who's been campaigning as best he can in the early primary states, also took the time to talk rock-and-roll: "Hey look, I'm Generation X. I'm the youngest candidate running for president of the United States and so one of the things that comes across is obviously I grew up in a period of time where rock 'n' roll was what we listened to, is what we played. So I don't find anything unusual with this despite my Republican colleagues wondering what this is all about," he said. For more on how a 2012er "Battle of the Bands" might go, here's Alyssa Rosenberg.
For the past few weeks, the big story on Ron Paul is that there haven't been enough stories written about Ron Paul. But what if maybe the best thing for Ron Paul is for Ron Paul to get as little coverage as possible, so more people don't find out about some of the things he believes? That's an argument made by Maggie Haberman, and as her colleague Ben Smith noted, right on the heels comes stuff like this: Just how far does Ron Paul's libertarianism go? Pretty far. He said FEMA isn't necessary. Paul, in an interview with NBC's Kent, dismissed FEMA as "a great contribution to deficit financing." He added, "We should be like 1900; we should be like 1940, 1950, 1960." Paul said, "I live on the Gulf Coast; we deal with hurricanes all the time. Galveston is in my district." But on Sept. 8, 1900, Galveston was hit with a massive hurricane that killed more than 6,000. And the sea wall that was built - and repaired after Ike -- was done so with federal dollars. And that's how Ron Paul became the 2012 primary's "Suck it, hurricane victims," candidate. This provided Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy a nice opportunity to call Paul an "idiot," point out that "Paul's state of Texas has benefited more from FEMA disaster relief than any other state," and remind Paul -- who's wont to criticize our foreign misadventures himself -- that "the U.S. is spending $900 million per week in other countries for war and rebuilding, which equals FEMA's remaining annual budget." So there's some news coverage. Enjoy the filleting! Ron Paul is apparently going to change it up and do some town hall-style campaign events, and it would be hilarious if he had to hold them exclusively in venues that had been busted up to all hell by Hurricane Irene's winds and rains and floods.
As we talked about in our introduction, Rick Perry remains the guy in the race who's got the joint jumping. He's still killing it in the polls, and the numbers tell us that the media narrative is going to shift to depicting both Mitt Romney and President Obama possibly staring at Perry's back as he bolts around the campaign season's first turn. As always, we caution you about believing that anyone's got it made in such an early stage of the campaign. Rick Perry could blaze his way to a general election showdown, or he could go the way of Fred Thompson. And as Evan McMorris-Santoro notes, there are "Clouds On The Horizon": The polls show Texas Gov. Rick Perry is the clear frontrunner at the moment when it comes to Republican support in the presidential nomination fight. But as he treads further into the center stage, Perry's facing down growing media scrutiny -- especially over his own past statements. How he plays this next phase of his campaign will be key to his viability over the long haul -- if Perry ignores the growing questions about his record, he risks damaging the electability quotient that has helped rocket him ahead of Michele Bachmann by appealing more to Republicans beyond the Tea Party. But if he bows too much to critics, shifting his stances to be more in line with a mainstream electorate, he risks alienating those Tea Partiers who are still the voters Republicans running for president are afraid of. So far, it seems that Perry is sticking with the Tea Party and letting the attacks fall where they will. As McMorris-Santoro notes, the potential for a negative headline is high, and "Democrats certainly seem to think talk like this is playing into their hands." What sort of stuff is coming down the pike that the Democrats (and Perry's main primary opponents) could try to exploit? Well, his primary opponents might jump on his past praise for Hillary Clinton's health care reform efforts. Perry's already done a lot to finesse this, but the fact that he was down on "military adventurism" might raise the dander of all those neo-con pundits who got overexcited about the "neo-isolationist strain" that they saw breaking out in the 2012 field. With the GOP going full "down with the reconquistadors," the fact that Perry mulled a binational health insurance plan with Mexico may not sit well with the base -- especially those Tea Party faithful. That Ezra Klein likes the plan doesn't help Perry one bit. (I can see the attack ad now: "Liberal columnist Ezra Klein says Perry's Amerexica-Care Plan was 'a good idea.' Can we afford a President who'd cede government control of the death panels to Ezra Klein's Mexican pals? We say ... [cut to a three-shot of Klein, Perry and a Mexican drug lord] ... 'Adios, mofos.'") Democrats have the opportunity to focus on aspects of Perry's record, too. There's his cronyism -- like that time he took campaign cash from private prison interests and then pushed to privatize the prisons, and the other time he tried to help a donor out with the nuclear waste dump he wanted to build. There's the book he's reading about how "changing the country's direction" involves converting all the Jews and Muslims. And, of course, the AARP set can't be happy to hear Social Security referred to as a "Ponzi scheme." (When you think about it, that's pretty insulting to Charles Ponzi as well.) Perry's only just now started to draw fire -- mainly from Michele Bachmann's super PAC and members of the Islamophobe Loony-Tunes Industry. But the campaign is young, and Perry is already getting questions from his ostensible allies about whether he has "skeletons" in his closet. (Does Cameron Todd Willingham count as a "skeleton"?)
Buddy Roemer is the fourth name on the list of the Forced-Out Foursome who've been blocked from participating in the debates, but let's face it -- last week's full-on laceration of the process and its "bullshit rules", courtesy of Roemer's campaign manager Carlos Sierra, was the standard setter. He expanded on his comments this week, in an interview with the Daily Advertiser: "They knew what they were doing when they crafted the rules," Sierra said. "They knew exactly who they wanted to include and who they didn't want to include in the debate. It's just sad the media is basically choosing who our nominee is." Sierra said he still hopes Roemer will be invited to participate in the Sept. 12 debate in Tampa, Fla., hosted by CNN and Tea Party Express. "It's very important that he gets on stage and is allowed to give his side of things," Sierra said. Sierra went on to say that the campaign's "biggest hurdle" is "building name recognition." Which is something you can get by participating in a debate. But that you have to have before you participate. Which is a conundrum. Well, Roemer benefits from a feature piece written by Slate's Dave Weigel, anyway. Of Sierra's outburst, Roemer tells Weigel, "I wish he hadn't done that," adding, "I wouldn't use that word. I would call them 'B.S.' rules." This is basically what Roemer is all about: Slate: So, what's your theory? Why aren't you getting taken more seriously? When you do appear in the media, the hook is usually, "Why isn't he getting more media?" That's actually why I'm talking to you, come to think of it. Roemer: It's very sporadic. It's a great deal of focus, and then nothing for a while. And it depends on the quality of the reporter, I find. Some of them are just concerned about the money you raise and where you stand in the polls. That's the wrong way to look at it. When I ran for governor, I started in last place -- I mean, I was at 3 percent, 4 percent, I was just discounted day after day. Slate: Like now. Roemer: Well, some reporters got what I was doing. They got that I was running against corruption. They got the "Roemer Revolution." They got that. I'm hoping we'll have the same two-step here. If I can get on the debate stage and point at the other candidates, and ask them, "Where are you getting your money?" then that'll be big. "Who runs your Super PAC? How will you get done what you want to get done, because you're owned by your donors?" And then, once the prairie is ablaze, there's no puttin' it out. That can happen 100 days before an election, 30 days before an election. The Speculatron promises: We get the Roemer Revolution.
So, we're closing in on the end of Week Three of the Rick Perry presidential campaign. Mitt Romney tried to look past it. He tried to ignore it. He tried to just stay focused on his intended target, President Barack Obama. But lo and behold, this Perry guy just wouldn't fade. In South Carolina, Perry started eating the moderate slices of the pie that Romney had hoped to polish off himself. Bill Kristol posited that Romney might have to try to mount a fight in Iowa, after spending many months silently conceding the state. Romney still got love from "insiders," who sweat the issue of electability, but the image he's been carefully cultivating -- as Kid Inevitable -- is just no longer in the cards. Jonathan Martin reported that Romney's camp was still hoping that some future beneficial event might happen to get their candidate back in the groove. Taegan Goddard summed up the Romney wish list thusly: Hope "1) that Sarah Palin jumps into the race and pulls Tea Party voters away from Perry, 2) that Michigan moves up its primary in the GOP calendar, and 3) that Perry will make a mistake in the series of post-Labor Day debates." Hey, maybe one of those things could happen. What did happen this week is that Romney got chided by House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for picking the campaign season as the moment to start expanding his gigantic mansion: McCarthy said he wonders who told wealthy former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney now was a good time to nearly quadruple the size of his family's beach house in La Jolla. [...] "He needs to stop staying in hotels and start staying with volunteers at every campaign stop," the House majority whip said. "His job should be to take out the trash every day, and if that bag breaks, he needs to clean it up." And McCarthy is one of them GOP franchise boys that Romney needs to win over to get over. So it's time to adjust. To "take it up a notch." Time to start defining Perry, oppositionally. (Bill Galston's idea: "Rick Perry wants to repeal the 20th century. I don't. And neither do the American people.") So the new Mitt Romney? Well, he's the scrappy underdog! Perry is the "career politician." Mitt's just a "conservative businessman." Is that an awkward fit, given the fact that Perry can boast being a deregulator par excellence and that Romney -- let's face it -- has been running for president for a decade, while Perry comes to the race looking like he was drafted to the task? A little. But it's not as awkward as it is to listen to Mitt Romney, Harvard alum, disparage ... Harvard alums! Speaking of awkward, Mitt Romney suddenly has all kinds of time to kiss Jim DeMint's ring and go to the Tea Party rallies he's studiously avoided. And the Tea Party resistance to Romney in the form of FreedomWorks -- which was signaled long ago, but has for the most part been muted -- is raring to roar: FreedomWorks will end its participation in the Tea Party Express "Reclaiming America" tour, and instead stand with local New Hampshire tea party leaders to protest Mitt Romney's participation as the featured speaker in the tour's Sunday evening event. The decision was made following the announcement of Romney's headliner speech on the tour, and a speech made earlier in the tour by big-government Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. "Mitt Romney and Orrin Hatch have actively and consistently supported expanding the role of government through government-run health care, Wall Street bailouts and spending hikes. Those positions are unacceptable to the tea party principles of lower taxes, less government and more freedom," commented Matt Kibbe, President of FreedomWorks. "For these reasons, we have decided to end our participation in the Reclaiming America tour." It's going to be a hard slog. Still, Mitt can take comfort in the fact that polls suggest he is "winning the economic debate" against Barack Obama. Though the Obama camp says that's only because the voters don't know Romney well enough yet.
Oh, hello. This is your weekly reminder that the Rick Santorum campaign is still just some kind of avant-garde performance art piece about how much Rick Santorum hates gay people. We honestly didn't imagine this could become a weeks-long running joke, but when you're on the campaign trail, losing arguments about gay marriage to random college students, what can you do? Santorum says that it's bigotry to go around saying he's a bigot and that the LGBT community has declared a "jihad" against him. In case you're unfamiliar with the concept of irony, that's rich coming from a guy whose primary motivation to do ANYTHING is rooted in extreme religious fundamentalism. Santorum did mix things up, saying that every fertilized egg deserves legal rights. Unless two fertilized eggs are of the same sex and want to get married. Those fertilized eggs should be converted, with hoodoo, or aborted, we guess?
Way back when the Obama administration took over the White House, they made a bunch of predictions right off the bat about the unemployment rate that ... well ... have not panned out! Most of the president's critics treat this as a promise that he's broken, as if he doesn't want unemployment to go down. The more accurate way of looking at it is to say that the White House saw rallying consumer confidence as the best way to get the economy moving again, so they put their trust in the "animal spirits," got what stimulus they could get from Sens. Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman and Evan Bayh, etc., tossed it out into the world, and just sat back and hoped for the best. As it turns out, the economy needed more stimulus than Nelson and Lieberman and Bayh and the other would-be 60th Senate votes were willing to provide, and, years later, we learned that the growth projections of the period before the stimulus weren't as good as anyone thought they were and needed to be downgraded to reflect reality. That was then. What's happening now is that the White House is just now conceding the point -- unemployment is going to suck well into 2012. Think around 9 percent. This is a more Real Talk way of looking at it, alas. Still, it's expectations management -- you plant the seed early that there's not much to hope for, and any glimmer of hope gets magnified. Maybe if the rate falls to, say, 8.7 percent, people will do their "vote from the pocketbook" act on a scale adjusted for what's been promised. Of course, maybe Obama has nothing to worry about at all! Per Kevin Drum: Remember all those models that say presidential elections are won or lost based on the economy? The ones that increasingly make Barack Obama look like a doomed one-termer? Well, here's some good news for the Obama camp: a different model, from American University professor Allan Lichtman, "whose election formula has correctly called every president since Ronald Reagan's 1984 re-election," says Obama is a shoo-in. So how does that work? Well, Lichtman's model is based on 13 binary keys, and although Obama loses both of the keys that are based on economic performance, he wins nine others. Since any score of seven or more means the incumbent party wins reelection, Obama should prevail easily no matter who the Republicans nominate. Is this right? Beats me. But you can't argue with seven successful predictions in a row, can you? Here are the nine keys that go in Obama's favor: (1) no primary challenge, (2) he's a sitting president, (3) no third-party challenge, (4) major policy changes enacted (healthcare and stimulus), (5) no social unrest, (6) no scandal, (7) no foreign policy debacles, (8) at least one big foreign policy success (killing bin Laden), and (9) no opponent with lots of charisma. Oh, so, lock up the bar and cancel the election, right? Well, sorry, but we're going to piss all over this for a minute. This model has never been proven wrong? That's wonderful, but I'll remind you that here on Earth, every plan is foolproof and every system is perfect right up to the very instant it stops being foolproof and/or perfect. Did any of you used to work for a company that used to be known as Lehman Brothers? Then you probably know what we are talking about. Remember, the winner of the Florida Presidency 5 straw poll has always won the GOP nomination. This year, the contestants are Cain, Huntsman and Paul. That winning streak is coming to an end. Beyond that, we have issues. It seems to us that some of the keys that Lichtman says tilt in Obama's favor are actually up for grabs -- like the charisma one or the "no social unrest" one (Wisconsin, anyone?) -- or eminently debatable by reasonable people (no foreign policy debacles? I mean, Libya is arguably a debacle). Beyond that, the economy, it seems to me, is not a factor equivalent to "no primary challenger." It can't possibly be just two components on a list of 13 things, where all things are equal. The economy is a classic poli-sci fundamental determinant of these kinds of electoral outcomes. It deserves greater weight. People don't walk into the voting booth and think, "I've got no job and no future, but I really like the way Obama kept primary opponents out of the race, so I'll vote for him." Look, here's about 30,000 words from Nate Silver to explain why this Lichtman model is a bunch of shiny balderdash, but if you can't wade through it all, just know that if Obama's lost "both of the keys that are based on economic performance," then you don't DARE call him a shoo-in.
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