He’s the only Mormon in the presidential race, but that doesn’t mean Mitt Romney is the only candidate Mormons support. Another favorite White House hopeful? Ron Paul, whose demand that Washington strictly adhere to the Constitution has some members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints singing his praise.
“You cannot grow up in the church and not hear of and be taught that the Constitution is an inspired document,” says Connor Boyack, a Mormon who heads the Utah Tenth Amendment Center. “And when it comes to who best supports and defends the Constitution, Ron Paul is that guy.”
In Paul’s hunt for convention delegates, the Mormon vote will be key in early caucus states such as Nevada, where 25 percent of GOP caucus-goers in 2008 were LDS members. Exit polls from 2008 show nine of 10 Mormon voters cast ballots for Romney, but the Texas congressman is seeing a surge in support there and elsewhere.
While the Salt Lake City-based church does not officially endorse any candidate for president, members like Boyack have been preaching the gospel of Ron Paul. Boyack explains that Romney might be a brother in faith, but Paul’s commitment to upholding the tenets of the Constitution make him a more ideological choice for Mormons. A controversial and sometimes persecuted group, Mormons have historically looked to the Constitution as a safeguard to preserve their religious freedom. The Constitution is even mentioned in the church’s Doctrine and Covenants, described as revelations to the church’s founder, Joseph Smith. Brigham Young University religion professor Richard Bennett says the devotion to the Constitution came after an 1833 attack on a Mormon church in Missouri. Bennett says God told Smith to use the Constitution to fight the persecution of his church.
Paul’s team has been quick to highlight the Mormon support, setting up a special “Latter Day Saints for Ron Paul” Facebook page (“liked” by over 1,300 fans). It’s one of a number dedicated to pro-Paul coalitions, including evangelicals, Protestants, and Catholics, as well as truckers, gamers, and accountants. The candidate is also featured in a five-minute Web ad, recycled from the 2008 campaign, titled, “Ron Paul preserves, protects, defends LDS Constitution view.”
Paul spokesman Gary Howard says, “Members of the LDS church make up one of those important coalitions, all of which are great assets in this campaign. Dr. Paul’s message resonates with everyone who believes in the principles he espouses: limited government, personal and economic liberty.”
By; Lauren Fox, U. S. News and World Report, January 30, 2012
When the empire strikes back, it hits hard. The Republican establishment is deploying every weapon and every soldier — even Bob Dole — in an increasingly desperate attempt to pulverize the Newt Gingrich rebellion. Eventually, the shock-and-awe campaign may work.
But then what? In the establishment’s best-case scenario, the party is left with Mitt Romney, a candidate whose core message, as far as I can tell, seems to be: “Yes, I made a ton of money. You got a problem with that?”
It is remarkable that the well-orchestrated blitzkrieg to save Florida for Romney was designed solely to raise doubts about Gingrich’s character and electability — rather than convince voters that Romney, on the merits, should be president. It makes you wonder whether the GOP luminaries supporting this guy really believe in him.
A statement issued last week by elder statesman Dole began by arguing that “if Gingrich is the nominee it will have an adverse impact on Republican candidates running for county, state and federal offices.” Dole went on to criticize Gingrich as highhanded and erratic, before ending his brief missive with another dose of realpolitik.
“In my opinion if we want to avoid an Obama landslide in November, Republicans should nominate Governor Romney as our standard-bearer,” Dole wrote. “He has the requisite experience in the public and private sectors. He would be a president we could have confidence in.”
“Requisite experience” isn’t much of a hallelujah, yet it’s typical of the pro-Romney chorus that has been singing so loudly since Gingrich won the South Carolina primary. Meanwhile, the voices of some key potential choristers haven’t been heard at all: Two of the most prominent Republicans in Florida, former governor Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio, have declined to endorse anyone for the nomination.
But what has Romney given his supporters to work with? Yes, he served as governor of Massachusetts and implemented health insurance reforms that became the model for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Yes, he earned a quarter of a billion dollars as a private-equity mogul. These résuméitems are supposed to be a compelling reason to send him to the White House?
Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul have all laid out bold visions — more properly, hallucinations — of where they would take the country. But where is Romney’s shining city on a hill? What’s his “compassionate conservatism,” his “hope and change”? What is it that Mitt Romney, deep in his heart or down in his gut, really believes in?
“Free enterprise” seems to be what he’s most passionate about, but that’s not really an answer to the question of core beliefs. Who doesn’t believe in free enterprise? Obama would advocate a bit more regulation of markets than Romney would; Santorum and Paul, less. Gingrich, of course, wants free-market spaceships to fly us to the moon.
Obama wants to rearrange our priorities to make the nation more prosperous, competitive and humane. Gingrich basically has the same goal, except he would do it in a completely different way — and there would be a much bigger role for space travel. Santorum’s policy positions add up to a return to “compassionate conservatism” and, perhaps, a war with Iran. Paul wants to decimate the federal government and force the few remaining workers to surrender their computers and use quill pens.
And Romney? Well, he has a 160-page economic plan. What he doesn’t seem to have is a compelling narrative about the kind of America he envisions and the road he will take to get us there.
This is not to say that he is necessarily incapable of developing such a narrative — or, for that matter, that he is incapable of beating Obama. The president and his advisers have at times done a mediocre job of telling the administration’s story. They need to better explain how individual decisions, such as delaying the controversial Keystone pipeline, fit into a coherent Big Picture of where the country needs to go.
Romney has become a very good debater, and his attack lines about Obama are honed and barbed. The only reason he still has a fight on his hands for the nomination, really, is that he let his opponents reduce his argument for the presidency to a defense of how he earned and manages his great wealth.
No matter how much he claims otherwise, the fact is that few people are envious of Romney’s business success. We just want to know if that’s all he has to offer.
By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, January 30, 2012
Private equity titans like Bain Capital used K Street to preserve the GOP front-runner’s favorite—and most lucrative—tax loophole.
With the sting of defeat in the South Carolina primary still fresh at last week’s Republican presidential debate in Tampa, Mitt Romney slammed Newt Gingrich for his record as a consultant—or “historian,” in Newt-speak—for government mortgage-backer Freddie Mac.
But perhaps Romney should think twice before setting his sights on the former speaker’s lobbying-related past. That’s because the ex-governor has benefited handsomely from the influence-peddling of Bain Capital, the private equity firm he cofounded in 1983. Though he’s been gone from Bain for over a decade, Romney continues to rake in millions from accounts with the firm—and in 2007, he took Bain’s side in a key lobbying battle with Washington—one that saved him millions of dollars.
2007, as it turns out, was something of a watershed for private equity lobbying: In that year, lobbying expenditures for the industry practically tripled. The spike was the result of an industry-wide effort to preserve a number of tax giveaways for the finance industry and its CEOs—including the carried interest rule, a tax loophole that allows Romney and other private equity mavens to reduce their taxes by millions of dollars. Carried interest refers to the commission that private equity and hedge fund executives receive for managing investors’ money. Although commissions may seem like ordinary income to the rest of us, the carried interest loophole allows some money managers to claim this income as long-term capital gains, which are taxed at a rate much lower (15 percent) than the top tax rate for normal income (35 percent).
After South Carolina, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign decided it was time to change their strategy toward former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. It was time to take him out, similar to what they did in Iowa. Take no prisoners, forget Obama for the moment, and direct their fire at Gingrich. Smart strategy? Of course. The only strategy, really, since back-to-back victories in South Carolina and Florida would have been devastating to Romney, certainly in the short term.
But has the Romney camp gone too far?
Now, I am not going to defend Newt Gingrich in the slightest—I am talking tactics here.
Let me first make the argument for the strategy they have adopted. Gingrich is like the Jason character from the Friday the 13th horror movies. He keeps coming back!
He grabs the attention of Tea Party voters and hard-core conservatives and he has shown he can mobilize them. He is colorful and a press magnet. Left unchecked, he has shown that he can move poll numbers in his favor with his debate appearances. Also, he has raised serious money after his victories and rising poll blips, and he has the Adelsons—casino moguls from Nevada—who have put over $10 million into his campaign and can give more out of their petty cash fund. He even eclipsed Romney in national polls.
In short, you ignore Newt at your peril. A failure to engage would have been a disastrous strategy.
Nevertheless, Romney and his Super-PACs have spent $15 million and counting to tear into Gingrich like a pit bull on steroids. They have decided that they will not let up until he is crushed in Florida. This all-or-nothing strategy has a few problems. First, Romney’s negative poll numbers have skyrocketed to very damaging levels. He may take Newt out in Florida, but it is costing him big time. Only Sen. John Kerry had net negative numbers at this point in the race and it certainly affected his candidacy. Second, Gingrich is furious and is pulling out all the stops to take on Romney. He has nothing to lose. This is his last campaign and he is all in. It seems Newt wants Mitt’s hide almost as much as Obama’s.
Finally, though no debates are scheduled until late February, these are moneymakers for the networks, and my guess is someone will attempt to pull several together next month. Gingrich will go back to his plan of fighting Romney with the press and appearances. He has been enraged by Romney’s surrogates tailing him and engaging reporters, and he is very likely to adopt the same tactic(as he promised to do against Obama).
Newt sees this as a long slog and he wants to grab as many delegates as he can in these non winner-take-all states, challenge Romney everywhere he is able, and hope that he can secure the nomination in the end. Through all this, former Sen. Rick Santorum hangs in and hopes that he can somehow come up the side, as these two engage in hand-to-hand combat.
The question really is not whether Romney should have taken on Gingrich. He had to, of course. But, given Gingrich’s personality and where he is as a candidate, should he have pulled some of the ads and mixed more positive spots in this last week in Florida? Would it have made any difference? Has he bought himself a drubbing of Gingrich and will this either force Newt out or embolden him to fight on? That’s hard to know. But my guess is that the over-the-top negative strategy may well come back to haunt Romney. It certainly provides plenty of material for the Obama campaign to use leading up to November.
By: Peter Fenn, U. S. News and World Report, January 30, 2012
Not only has the former speaker of the House banked on winning a second term; he has his first day in office planned.
Newt Gingrich has been roundly mocked by both the media and his opponents for his preposterous proposal to build a moon base by 2020. As outlandish as that claim may be, it’s nothing compared to the promises Gingrich offered yesterday during a campaign stop at The Villages, a planned retirement community in central Florida.
A huge crowd of seniors—numbering possibly in the thousands—packed into a parking lot outside a Barnes & Noble on a warm and sunny afternoon. A hot-dog stand held a steady line throughout the event, and its neighbor stand offered a full bar of beer and liquors. Golf carts—the apparent vehicle of choice in the area—whizzed by, fighting with SUVs for parking spots.
It was a bizarre scene, but nowhere near as ridiculous as the tail end of Gingrich’s speech. Overall, it was mostly his standard stump, with a few extra zingers directed at Mitt Romney. Then, near the end, he offered a laundry list of promised accomplishments. This wasn’t the typical first 100 days agenda; the proposals were all things Gingrich promised to achieve by his very first day in the White House:
- “I will ask the new Congress to stay in session on January 3, and I will ask them first to repeal Obamacare. I can ask them to repeal Obamacare, because I haven’t passed something that resembles it.”
- “I will also ask them in the same session to repeal the Dodd-Frank bill, which is killing banks.”
- “I will ask them to repeal the Sarbanes-Oxley bill.”
- “On the inauguration day, about two hours after the inaugural address, I will sign a series of executive orders. All of them will have been published by October 1, everyone in America will know what is coming.”
- “The very first executive order will eliminate all of the White House czars.”
- “My goal would be, by the end of that first day—about the time that President Obama arrives back in Chicago—that we will have dismantled about 40 percent of his government on the opening day.”
“I think this is doable,” Gingrich said. The former speaker expects each of the bills to have already passed and be ready for him to sign on the first day of his hypothetical presidency. “On January 20, I will sign all three as a sign of our seriousness about changing Washington,” he said.
By: Patrick Caldwell, The American Prospect, January 30, 2012