Entries Tagged as 'New Hampshire'

The Road Ahead

January 4th, 2012 at 8:44 am 7 Comments

In the wake of the Iowa caucuses, what matters now is not the exact order of Romney, Santorum, and Paul; the numbers are very close. What does matter is the range between the candidates. Iowa gives us basically a tie between Romney and Santorum, with both at around 25%. Ron Paul comes out a strong third at around 21%. Gingrich, Perry, Bachmann, and Huntsman, who did not even campaign in Iowa, fall far behind.

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Bachmann Blows Off NH

David Frum August 28th, 2011 at 11:56 pm 28 Comments

Fergus Cullen itemizes the neglect in his column in the Manchester Union-Leader:

Bachmann has spent so little time in New Hampshire, she’s one of the few candidates yet to appear at campaign trail staples like Politics & Eggs or WMUR’s “Conversations with the Candidates” series. She has held no town hall meetings. Hers is one of the last campaigns without an office.

Not that voters wouldn’t like to meet Bachmann. Interest was strong enough for the Windham event that local Republicans moved the venue and rented a bigger hall. But a week out, Bachmann cancelled on them. The stated reason was the condition of Bachmann’s mother’s health.

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Debate Highlighted GOP’s Far Right Turn

June 16th, 2011 at 10:01 am 37 Comments

Watching the Republican presidential debate from Manchester, New Hampshire on Monday night was, for me, akin to a two hour dental appointment — without the benefit of “laughing gas”.

Although I remain a Democrat (leaning more and more toward declared political independence), I had hoped for—but didn’t much expect— something better than what I saw and heard in the discussion at St. Anselm College.

I admit to never having voted for a Republican Presidential candidate, and it is unlikely — but not impossible –I ever will. However, over the years I have crossed party lines several times in “down ticket races”, as first a resident of California, then Virginia and now the District of Columbia (talk about futile gestures!). I adhere to no specific or predictable — some of my Democratic friends would argue no discernible — political ideology.

I am devoutly pro-public education. I believe in equal rights for all citizens, and I consider myself a dedicated civil libertarian.

I also believe that government exists, in part at least, to do for the general public that which individuals cannot do on their own. At the same time, I am skeptical of “social engineering”, whether it springs from the left or the right. I am equally resistant to policy overreach, and I worry about unnecessarily zealous bureaucratic intrusion into various aspects of our lives and institutions.

I am hawkish on the federal budget deficit, and I support spending cuts and entitlement reforms to help balance the books. But I also know that increased revenues have to be part of the mix.

Therefore, I support the Bowles/Simpson and Rivlin/Domenici approaches, and I wish fervently that the President and Congress would embrace them; the failure to do so is inexcusable.

I am also an unabashed internationalist, and I support direct intervention (by military and/or other means) when the situation demands it (I put Afghanistan and Libya in that category). I worry equally about the Democratic left’s pacifist tendencies, and the isolationist sentiment that is growing in both parties. When Pat Buchanan and Dennis Kucinich are more or less singing the same tune, I conclude  we — and the world — are in big trouble!

Given all of that, I realize that in the context of today’s politics it is highly unlikely that any potential Republican Presidential nominee would share most (or even many) of my views or concerns. That said, shouldn’t a political centrist expect at least a nod or a wink in his or her direction from candidates in both parties? Don’t we deserve to feel that our votes ought to at least appear to be in play?

Apparently not.

Monday night’s debate represented yet another dramatically rightward tack by the GOP. Not one of the candidates hinted at any appeal to moderates. As the forum drew to a close I concluded that that the dynamic on display was not just about primaries and pre-nomination politics (simply a tactical ploy directed at an activist base), but rather it was an unvarnished expression of where the candidates actually place themselves on the political spectrum.

The 2012 Republican nominee, whoever it turns out to be, is likely  to position him or herself to be the most conservative candidate to seek the Presidency in my lifetime — more conservative, in fact, than Barry Goldwater was in 1964. As someone who is almost certain to vote for Barack Obama’s reelection, I should probably hail that fact; it will give him a lot more running room in the center of the field, where Presidential elections typically are won and lost.

But I don’t feel any giddiness whatsoever about that fact — not because I think Obama might blow it (I don’t think he will), but because real and vigorous competition for moderate, independent voters would mean a better and more enlightening campaign. One result of that would be an improved second term President Obama (and perhaps a more united America).

Sadly, it appears that Mr. Obama will have to do that pretty much on his own, without any help from a loyal and credible opposition, and maybe without critical leverage coming from those in the middle of an increasingly polarized electorate.

Pawlenty Is Debate’s Biggest Loser

David Frum June 14th, 2011 at 7:30 am 85 Comments

Tim Pawlenty was debate night’s big loser. He walked onto that stage with one mission: to prove himself the ultra-base alternative to Romney. He failed, miserably.

Pawlenty’s failure is not the kind of stumble he can correct later. It goes to the core of the guy: offered the chance to confront Romney directly, he flinched. He did not look “nice.” He did not look like he was observing the 11th commandment. He looked uncertain and weak. He  looked like a man fully aware that Romney would best him in a one-to-one discussion of healthcare policy.

Meanwhile, as Noah Kristula-Green writes, Bachmann had a very good night. She overshadowed Pawlenty, the disoriented Gingrich, crazy grandpa Ron Paul, and the absent Palin. (Question: will Bachmann’s rise ignite Palin’s mean-girl jealous streak, and impel her late into the race?)

After last night, Pawlenty’s fund-raising will sputter. He’s not exciting enough for ultra-base small donors. He does not look enough like a winner to mobilize big-dollar donors.

The cratering of Pawlenty opens an alternative space on Romney’s right. Gingrich is too damaged to seize it. Will Rick Perry try? Will Paul Ryan?

If not, I’d guess the future course of the race goes like this:

Bachmann wins Iowa. Romney wins New Hampshire. Absent Perry or Ryan, the field quickly empties out. The establishment rallies to Romney. The party follows just as it did in 1988, 1996 and 2000.

Meanwhile talk radio and Fox News goes angrier and uglier than ever. Despite Hugh Hewitt’s assurances conservative talkers won’t easily rally to Romney. They’ll be compelled instead to focus on the danger and evil of Obama. Romney’s challenge — and only hope — will be to rise above

Bachmann Makes
a Strong Debut

June 13th, 2011 at 10:57 pm 38 Comments

So how did the substance of the Republican candidates debate relate to what we were on the lookout for?

No one attacked Romney. Surprisingly, Mitt Romney’s position as putative GOP front runner was not directly attacked or challenged by anyone. CNN’s moderator John King tried to goad Pawlenty into explaining why he characterized the Obama healthcare law as “Obamaneycare” and Pawlenty was not eager to take the bait. There were also no direct attacks on Romney’s abortion record. Perhaps the candidates think its too early to go negative.

Ron Paul Was the Biggest Sideshow. More than any other candidate, Ron Paul’s answers were characterized by meandering rambles. This was facilitated by a New Hampshire political reporter who kept asking him questions which elicited predictable answers. Why would you ask Ron Paul: “Do you support eminent domain?” Of course Ron Paul does not, and his answer about eminent domain turned into a digression on the housing bubble.

A Hint of Pawlenty’s Medicare Plan. We did not get any firm details from Tim Pawlenty, but we did get a small peak at his Medicare proposal. It sounds like it will keep the Ryan-budget model of having different care options for people 55 and younger. It might be different by keeping Medicare as an option for those 55 and under while also introducing some sort of competition with a private insurance scheme. It’s still not clear how this would work in practice.

Unexpected Standout: Michele Bachmann. Bachmann was well prepped for this debate. She used the forum to announce she was formally running for President — a blatant attempt to get more media attention, but it worked.

Most importantly, she gave answers that were clear and — in some instances — even memorable.Perhaps her best line was her description of the President’s handling of Libya: “All we need to know is that the President deferred leadership on Libya to France”. It managed to touch on both Obama’s apparent lack of engagement on the issue while still getting a jab in at France. A very crafty response.

FF’s Livechat of GOP Debate

June 13th, 2011 at 5:42 pm 27 Comments

FrumForum will be hosting a livechat tonight while we watch CNN’s GOP debate in New Hampshire. This debate will feature three candidates who will be debating for the first time in this cycle: Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich.

Here are some of the key things to watch for:

Will Everyone Gang Up on Romney? Romney maintains a steady lead in polling among GOP candidates, with Gallup reporting that support for him as “increased significantly” to 24 percent, up from 17 percent. Romney’s healthcare law is disliked by the conservative establishment and its similarities to the President’s own healthcare law led Tim Pawlenty to refer to it as “Obamneycare” on Sunday. Pawlenty has said he won’t use that term in the debate so maybe another candidate will step up to the plate.

Will The Sideshows Dominate the Debate? Many of the third-tier GOP candidates lack real seriousness. Here are some of the sideshows we can expect to see: Ron Paul raving about the Gold Standard, Herman Cain elaborating on his recent comments that Obama was raised in Kenya and Newt Gingrich trying to justify his presence on the stage despite losing his entire senior staff.

It will be in the interests of the debate’s moderators to stop the sideshows from dominating the night.

Where Do You Stand on the Ryan Plan? As long as unemployment remains high, any Republican could be competitive against Obama in a general election. One thing that could undermine this is Paul Ryan’s budget which helped the Democrats to pick up a seat in NY-26. The GOP candidates will be pressed on where they stand on Ryan’s budget and on reforming Medicare. It will be important to note which candidates say, “I would sign the Ryan plan into law” and which ones say, “Ryan is a courageous and inspirational figure, and I plan to release my own Medicare plan soon.”


NH GOP Splinters in Climate Fight

April 7th, 2011 at 5:24 pm 18 Comments

Andrew Jackson once noted that one man with courage makes a majority. In New Hampshire, one woman could do the same.

Republican State Senator Nancy Stiles is fighting to preserve New Hampshire’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multistate effort to cut down on carbon emissions. Since joining RGGI in 2008, New Hampshire has become a model of energy efficiency in the Northeast: according to RGGI.org, proceeds from the initiative “are projected to reduce consumer energy costs by $60.6 million over the lifetime of the installed measures.”

However, last week the Republican-led New Hampshire House voted to abandon its commitment to RGGI, due to what one Republican legislator called the “shaky climate science” that supposedly led New Hampshire to join the effort. In other words, because some members of the New Hampshire House want to pretend scientific facts don’t exist, the entire state must suffer.

Luckily, Sen. Stiles isn’t willing to throw away New Hampshire’s commitment to fighting carbon pollution. She says she prefers to revise certain RGGI requirements rather than walk away from them. It’s a common-sense statement—but considering the political environment she’s in, it’s one that requires tremendous courage.

Already, a libertarian outfit plans to apply pressure on the state Senate by running ads labeling RGGI a “cap and trade scheme.” The folks who put these ads together seem to have forgotten that it was a Republican, C. Boyden Gray, who originally came up with cap-and-trade as a means of limiting sulfur dioxide emissions. The “scheme” worked to reduce pollution then, and what these libertarians call a “scheme” is working now for the people of New Hampshire. That’s a truth Sen. Stiles recognizes.

What we are seeing in New Hampshire is a proverbial conflict of visions, a fight between an old-school Republican who remains true to the party’s wrongfully abandoned conservationist legacy and new-school Republicans who believe private industries have a divine right to pollute. This fight pits sensible conservatism against misguided libertarianism—and sensible conservatism has to win.

As New Hampshire resident Jim Grady recently noted, “What RGGI’s cap-and-trade revenue generation actually amounts to is a tiny tax on all — with all getting the benefit. The RGGI law requires the majority of its revenue to be invested back into our state to help reduce aggregate demand for electricity. This works for all of us because the price of electricity tends to decrease when we decrease our need for it.” Sounds pretty reasonable, no?

Sen. Stiles is behaving with absolute moral courage in her effort to maintain New Hampshire’s involvement in RGGI. She recognizes that the initiative is, if not perfect, than the least imperfect way to address the threat posed by excessive carbon emissions. She understands that caving in to the demands of hardcore libertarians could have catastrophic effects decades from now. She sees that the push for “limited government” ought not to be a suicide pact.

Yes, the opponents of RGGI believe that New Hampshire must abandon this commitment in the name of “limited government.” I respect their passion, but they are passionately wrong. Sometimes, government can be too limited—so limited that it doesn’t take necessary action to protect the health of human beings and the environment in which they live, so limited that it doesn’t make the strategic investments to benefit the economy, so limited that it ignores clear and present dangers to our ecology.

Sen. Stiles is cut from that old-school Republican cloth, the kind Teddy Roosevelt was cut from. It’s a vision that says capitalism cannot function if the capitalist doesn’t have clean air to breathe. It’s a vision that says no industry has a constitutional right to pollute. It’s a vision that is, in the truest and purest sense of the word, pro-life.

I have no idea which side will win in New Hampshire. The new-school vision—the one that rejects climate science as some vast left-wing conspiracy, the one that turns a blind eye to the dangers of pollution, the one that spits upon those who believe that conservation is conservative—is prosperous, pugnacious and powerful. Yet it is not right, not on this issue.

Best of luck to Sen. Stiles in her fight—and give me that old-school vision any day of the week.