Entries Tagged as '2012 primary'

The Expectations Game

David Frum January 4th, 2012 at 7:57 am 118 Comments

Byron York has a tough read on the meaning of the Iowa result for Romney.

In the end, Romney escaped humiliation, and he did it at far less cost than in 2007-2008, when he gave Iowa everything he had in his first run for the GOP nomination. “If you look back four years ago, we had 52 paid staff in Iowa, and this time around, we have five paid staff,” top Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said a few hours before Tuesday night’s results came in.  “In terms of advertising, we spent $10 million in the run-up to the caucuses four years ago, and we’ve spent a fraction of that this time.  And in terms of the candidate’s own appearances in Iowa, he was here 100 days or so four years ago, and this time we’re at about 15 days.”  [It was actually a few more, but that doesn't change Fehrnstrom's point.]

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Admit it, it Could be Newt

November 11th, 2011 at 8:04 am 111 Comments

I note with smug satisfaction the growing buzz for Newt Gingrich.

For months now, I’ve felt like the Prophet Jeremiah, prophesying destruction to people who won’t listen or believe me. Yes, Newt has a staggering number of very ugly skeletons in his closet. Yes, his campaign stumbled badly out of the gate. But everything that’s happened since then has only helped him.

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The Coming Herman Cain Culture War

David Frum November 1st, 2011 at 3:52 pm 156 Comments

It’s only a matter of time before the Herman Cain sexual harassment settlement is unsealed. The exact nature of the charges against Cain will be revealed. They will most likely turn out to be very ambiguous: banter, innuendo, etc.

At that point, here’s what will happen:

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It WILL be Romney

September 26th, 2011 at 12:07 pm 117 Comments

Rick Perry’s propensity for gaffes, poor straw poll performance, and lackluster debating skills are already forcing many people who thought he would surely be the Republican nominee to reconsider. They’re right to have second thoughts, yet while Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and even Jon Huntsman may go on to win some primaries, none have a real chance of becoming the nominee either.

This leaves only one person standing: Mitt Romney. Whatever ups and downs take place for the Romney and Perry campaigns, it’s pretty obvious what will happen: Romney will prevail.

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Romney’s Dangerous Windfall

September 26th, 2011 at 8:11 am 33 Comments

Rick Perry seems to be reeling after his debate performance in Florida last week. It’s early yet to see anything in public polling, case but his subsequent flop in the Florida straw poll into which he had invested significant money and energy is causing serious concern for his campaign. However, before Romney gets too excited about Perry’s dilemma he should take a closer look at the cause.

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Huntsman: The Truer Conservative

September 7th, 2011 at 1:02 am 31 Comments

Here’s a brief biography of two candidates:

One of them presided over arguably the best business climate in the nation, hospital so good that Forbes magazine ranked it as the best state for business and careers. As governor, treat he enacted free-market health care reforms, balanced the budget, and thus far is the most public advocate of the Ryan plan to reduce long-term entitlement spending.

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Preventing Another Palin Disaster

David Frum August 17th, 2011 at 7:13 pm 185 Comments

In my column for The Week I discuss the lessons that Republicans must learn for 2012 and beyond, so they don’t repeat the same mistakes they made with Sarah Palin:

The people who promoted and celebrated the Palin pick have disavowed — or at least abandoned — their former enthusiasm. They no longer accuse those who objected to the pick of “elitism” or “snobbishness” or “misogyny.” It’s now considered very bad form among Republicans even to remember what the people said and wrote about Palin three years ago.

But before the episode is consigned to forgetfulness, there are some lessons to be learned of urgent value for 2012 and beyond.

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Rick Perry’s Shrewd Move

August 16th, 2011 at 4:00 pm 32 Comments

Texas Governor Rick Perry may have just made a very shrewd move.  No, I’m not talking about declaring himself to be a candidate for president on the same day of the Iowa Straw Poll.  I’m talking about this:

John Sharp, the former Texas comptroller who was student body president at Texas A&M in the early 1970s, is in line to head the entire 11-university A&M System.  Sharp, 61, won approval Monday from the A&M Board of Regents as the sole finalist to become A&M System chancellor.  Under state law, the appointment becomes final in 21 days.

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Pawlenty Spins His Fundraising Numbers

July 2nd, 2011 at 9:28 am 6 Comments

Today, Governor Tim Pawlenty’s spokesman, Alex Conant, released this statement:

“Gov. Pawlenty will report that his campaign has raised about $4.2 million, and begins the third quarter with more available cash-on-hand than the Republicans who won the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary had in July 2007.”

That’s very impressive, considering Mike Huckabee and John McCain won those primaries back in 2007.  Huckabee went on to become a major contender for the nomination, and still has name recognition today.  McCain, as everyone knows, went on to win the GOP nomination.  The only problem is that this is a ridiculously misleading statement.

Huckabee had hardly any name recognition at this point in 2007, and there is a reason McCain was called “The Comeback Kid.”  Comparing himself to two candidates who were considered underdogs at this point in their campaigns is rarely a good sign.

Such a spin denotes trouble in the Pawlenty campaign.  If he is compared to his current rivals in the primaries, Pawlenty is in sore shape.  Jon Huntsman (who many say is faking his campaign so he can make a better run in 2016) seems to be the only major player with less funds: $4.1 million — half of that being his own cash.  Tea Party movement godfather, Ron Paul, has raised over $4.5 million this week alone. And Mitt Romney is estimated to have three or four times as much cash on hand as Pawlenty just reported.  The fact that they are being forced to spin this kind of report to the press doesn’t bode well for Team T-Paw.

The GOP’s Gay President?

May 1st, 2011 at 12:00 am 26 Comments

What do you do if you’re running for president, pharm but have no name recognition and no experience in elected office? Like Republican Fred Karger, diagnosis who is in just that situation, order you’ll probably be making a lot of trips to New Hampshire and Iowa.

“I have a five state strategy, which is really just a two state strategy,” said Karger in an extensive interview with FrumForum. Since April 2010, when he announced that he was running for president – making him the first openly gay candidate for president from a major party – he has been to Iowa seven times, and New Hampshire thirteen times.

Most prominently known in California as a gay activist who fought to reveal the role of the Mormon church during the Proposition 8 referendum, Karger feels that that the Republican Party has drifted too far to the right. In 2008, Karger openly supported Hillary Clinton, donating thousands of dollars to her campaign (he supported some of her policies, but “just economically”, he says).

“It was a very difficult decision” at the time, Karger tells FrumForum. “I never really actively supported a Democrat at that level. But the Republican Party has moved so far to the right, even someone like John McCain, who I had always admired, seemed to compromise his positions.” Despite his flirtations with the Democratic Party, he says, he’s back to reform the GOP for the better – “to bring younger people in, and open up the party to all.”

Karger is an amicable enough fellow, and recognizes his weaknesses: his campaign slogan is ‘Fred, who?’ But being such an unknown figure means that he’s been spending a lot of time battling for people to take him seriously, often going to extreme efforts to garner even the tiniest amounts of attention.

Just a month ago, in order to win a straw poll at St. Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire – student population: around 1900 – Karger spent a week shaking hands, handing out Frisbees, and manning a table. After a week of working the crowds, he managed to come in first, with 79 of 322 ballots cast, just five ahead Mitt Romney. But what is the effect of a full week’s hard work? Nearly nil.

It must be frustrating not to be noticed, and Karger is facing exclusion everywhere he looks. CPAC wouldn’t respond to his request for a speaking slot, and told him that they didn’t have room for his booth in the convention hall. The debates have largely shut him out. His campaign’s most successful achievement has been to get an invite to the South Carolina GOP debates in May. That is, if he can get 1% or more in five national polls by then – he has only one: on Friday, a FOX poll had him at 1% in the first national poll he was listed in.

But Karger is not a man to give up. Having cut his teeth as a political operative and worked under President Reagan (whose inner circle during the early California gubernatorial years was “quite gay”, he says), Karger wants “to bring that optimism that President Reagan had, and the ability to get along with people, I think that is something that I can do and bring to this campaign.” So despite the odds, Karger is at least a man who looks on the bright side.

However, Karger’s situation is not a result merely a result of exclusion. As a gay rights activist and former political consultant, he’s got a keen mind for organization and research, but faces genuine challenges on the ideas front. In fact, he’s downright unimpressive on the policy side.

He’s got an rousing enough idea: to restore the American entrepreneurial spirit. But what’s lacking is how to get there. Consider what he told FrumForum about fixing the economy:

“I want to empower people, I want to encourage people who are unemployed to take some of their own initiative. And that’s what’s lacking” he said. “People are just waiting at home for that phone to ring, or for some magic job to appear – well, let’s get out, start creating your own dog-watching service, or… make a candle, that is the entrepreneurial spirit of America. Go out, and buy a candle-making kit for $19.95, make five candles and sell them… those are the kinds of things I want to talk about.”

There’s a real argument behind the notion that the American spirit is wounded, but encouraging people to make candles or walk dogs isn’t a particularly faith-inspiring jobs plan. Doubtlessly, the candle market is down in this distressed economy. In any case, the American spirit jobs plan is, well, a bit too abstract to hope for success.

When asked about the Paul Ryan budget proposal, Karger couldn’t say whether he would vote for or against the Republican plan for reforming entitlements, telling FrumForum he “can’t say right now… I haven’t looked that closely at it. I’m just going to have to take a wait and see attitude right now.” It is simply not excusable for a serious presidential candidate to not have looked closely at the Paul Ryan budget plan.

To add to this problem, Karger’s campaign website doesn’t even have a platform, only a few bullet points on gay rights issues he’s hoping to address. There’s substantially more about his resume, however impressive, than what he would want to do with the power he is seeking.

Karger provides a refreshing reminder that the attitudes of younger voter are changing, especially towards gay rights. And perhaps there is a small niche in the electorate for a gay Republican presidential candidate. But if that candidate is to be Fred Karger, he still has a long way to go in order to prove that he’s worthy of being seen as a serious contender.