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“Call Me Crazy” Jon Huntsman: What A Primary Can Do To A Candidate

Remember when Jon Huntsman, the so-called moderate of the Republican presidential field, was saying sensible things about climate change? Well, forget it.

Jon Huntsman attended a packed blogger sit down at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. TPM’s Evan McMorris-Santoro attended, pressing the GOP presidential candidate about his position on climate change.

In August, Huntsman acknowledged the broad body of science pointing to climate change. Seated at an elite conservative think tank, however, Huntsman played a different tune, saying climate scientists “owe us more” information before we can decide if climate change is real.

“I think there’s probably more debate to be played out within the scientific community,” he said.

For those who haven’t been following him closely, it’s important to realize that Huntsman was not only a voice of sanity on climate change; he actually seemed to take some pride in using the issue to differentiate himself from his Republican rivals. The former governor used to even support cap and trade.

Asked about climate change in May, Huntsman said, “All I know is 90 percent of the scientists say climate change is occurring. If 90 percent of the oncological community said something was causing cancer we’d listen to them.”

Responding to Rick Perry in August, Huntsman said, “The minute that the Republican Party becomes the anti-science party, we have a huge problem…. When we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Sciences has said about what is causing climate change and man’s contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position.”

Around the same time, Huntsman boasted, “To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”

What was “crazy” was thinking Huntsman could thrive in national Republican politics saying sane things about science. Now that the pressure’s on, he’s pulling a Romney, abandoning what he knows to be true, and desperately trying to tell his party’s right-wing base what it wants to hear.


By: Steve Benen, Washington Monthly Political Animal, December 6, 2011

December 7, 2011 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Right Wing | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Human Weather Vane Mitt Romney Shifts On Payroll Tax Cut

The idea of extending the payroll tax cut polls very well. How do I know? Because human weather vane Mitt Romney suddenly vocally supports it.

When he was asked about President Obama’s jobs plan during a GOP presidential debate in October, Romney was dismissive of the idea of extending the payroll tax cut on the grounds that it would do nothing to create jobs. Here’s his answer, in full (emphases mine):

MR. ROMNEY: No one likes to see tax increases, but look, the–the stimulus bills the president comes out with that are supposedly going to create jobs, we’ve now seen this played in the theater several times. And what we’re seeing hasn’t worked. The American people know that when he–when he went into office and borrowed $800 billion for a massive jobs stimulus program, that they didn’t see the jobs. Some of those green jobs we were supposed to get, that’s money down the drain. The right course for America is not to keep spending money on stimulus bills, but instead to make permanent changes to the tax code.

Look, when you give–as the president’s bill does, if you give a temporary change to the payroll tax and you say, we’re going to extend this for a year or two, employers don’t hire people for a year or two. They make an investment in a person that goes over a long period of time. And so if you want to get this economy going again, you have to have people who understand how employers think, what it takes to create jobs. And what it takes to create jobs is more than just a temporary shift in a tax stimulus. It needs instead fundamental restructuring of our economy to make sure that we are the most attractive place in the world for investment, for innovation, for growth and for hiring, and we can do that again.

MS. GOLDMAN: So you would be OK with seeing the payroll tax cuts–

MR. ROMNEY: Look, I don’t like–(inaudible)–little Band- Aids. I want to fundamentally restructure America’s foundation economically.

Romney gives no indication whatsoever of favoring an extension of the payroll tax. If anything he indicates a willingness to see it rise, saying, “No one likes to see tax increase, but …” to start and giving his much ballyhooed “Band-Aids” answer when questioner Julianna Goldman asserts that he’d be OK with the payroll tax cuts expiring.

That was October. Since then the political winds have started blowing strongly in favor of extending the tax cut—so strongly in fact that, Romney told conservative radio show host Michael Medved, “I would like to see the payroll tax cut extended just because I know that working families are really feeling the pinch right now—middle-class Americans are having a hard time.”

Of course Romney’s camp is outraged at the notion that badmouthing an extension in October and supporting it in December constitutes either a flip or a flop from the famously flexible former Massachusetts governor. “Governor Romney has never met a tax cut he didn’t like,” spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement E-mailed to reporters Monday night. “He has made it clear that he does not believe that by itself the payroll tax cut will create the type of permanent long term change that is needed to turn the economy around.”

Let’s give Romney the benefit of the doubt. Let’s assume that in October he liked the idea of a payroll tax cut extension. The characterization of him as a human weather vane still holds: He kept his support secret in October because he apparently didn’t think a GOP debate audience would cotton to that view; now he’s trumpeting it because the winds have shifted.

Who needs polls when we have Mitt Romney?

By: Robert Schlesinger, U. S. News and World Report, December 6, 2011

December 7, 2011 Posted by | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , | Leave a comment

Holy Crap, Newt Gingrich Might Actually Be The Republican Nominee

When an election is some time away, pollsters typically ask people, “If the election were held today, who would you vote for?” It often seems like a silly question, because of course the election isn’t today. But eventually, today comes. We imagine that up until the election, people’s beliefs about the candidates are unformed and not held with much conviction. But as Election Day approaches, those beliefs harden, to finally come to fruition in the vote.

And for some people that’s true. But for many others, even the decision they finally make on Election Day could be different if the election were moved back a couple of weeks. Which is why it’s now entirely possible that Newt Gingrich, possibly the most repellent, unelectable political figure America has seen in the last couple of decades, could actually be the Republican nominee for president.

Think of a Republican-base voter—let’s call her Gladys. At first, Gladys had no idea whom she supported. Then Donald Trump played with getting into the race, and though it seemed a little crazy, Gladys thought Trump was a compelling figure. But then Michele Bachmann came along, saying things that just tickled Gladys to death. She was all set to support her. But then Rick Perry got into the race, and now it really seemed like he was Gladys’s choice. He seemed like a true-blue conservative, and someone with a real record of accomplishment. But then he turned out to be kind of a nincompoop, and Herman Cain looked like such a straight-talking breath of fresh air. But then he had his issues, and now Gladys has been convinced that Newt Gingrich is her guy.

The point is that though she never had to, Gladys was willing to vote for each of these candidates at one time or another. It isn’t as though she had a stated preference for Perry, but if you shoved her into a voting booth she’d say, “Oh, if it’s an actual vote, well in that case I’ll pick Romney.”

So in this primary, timing is everything. We’ve all assumed that Newt Gingrich, who is now clearly leading in the polls, would self-destruct before anyone actually had to vote for him. But now all he has to do is hold out for 28 more days, which is when the Iowa caucuses take place. If he wins there, he’ll get a wave of positive news coverage (look for Time and Newsweek covers with headlines like “The Return of Newt”), and he could actually pull out a win in New Hampshire, where like everywhere else, few people feel that strongly about Romney, even when they support him.

Of course, between now and then, Romney will have to unleash some vicious assaults on Gingrich, and there is plenty of material with which to construct them. Gingrich could plummet next week. But Newt becoming the Republican Party’s nominee for president—an utterly absurd notion for every minute since it was first floated back in 1994—could actually happen. Dear god.

December 7, 2011 Posted by | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Oh Where Are Gingrich’s Enemies?

For many members of Congress, it must seem truly strange to observe the current Newt Gingrich boomlet. This is, after all, the same Gingrich who was run out of Washington 13 years ago after his party suffered a rare midterm loss that left Republicans barely hanging on to control of the House. Gingrich not only stepped aside as speaker but resigned his congressional seat. He left the chamber with his tail between his legs and did not exactly endear himself to his fellow members on the way out, calling the other congressional Republicans “hateful” and “cannibals” who blackmailed him out of office during a conference call announcing his departure. With his bombastic style, Gingrich was well set for a life of public speaking and book career far away from any other elected office.

That was the mind-set of the political class when Gingrich entered the presidential field earlier this year (especially after his entire staff fled his campaign over the summer), and yet now Gingrich has—at least for the time being—replaced Mitt Romney as the front-runner for 2012. One would expect those representatives who revolted on Gingrich—many of whom are still in Congress—to rush to the press to divert Republican voters from making the same mistake they made in 1994 when they elevated Gingrich to speaker.

Instead, they’re keeping their thoughts largely to themselves, according to Politico. The group of Republicans who ousted Gingrich in ’98 are hesitant to disparage the new Tea Party favorite, and some have even switched sides and are supporting Gingrich. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey corralled support to replace Gingrich back in the day but demurred from offering comment for Politico‘s article. That’s a strikingly different tone than earlier in the year. “It’s typical of Newt to be whimsical,” Armey told Politico in May. “We always say: Newt always has so many great ideas. Well yeah, but then he shifts between them at such a rate it’s pretty hard to track it let alone keep up with it.” Or take former Representative Bob Livingston, the Louisiana congressman whose challenge to then-Speaker Gingrich incited that harsh resignation conference call. Now Livingston has endorsed Gingrich and is raising money for his former foe.

Not all of Gingrich’s former colleagues have held back. On Sunday, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn—a member of the House during Gingrich’s reign—ripped into the presidential candidate on Fox News. “I’m not inclined to be a supporter of Newt Gingrich,” Coburn said,

“having served under him for four years and experienced personally his leadership…I just found his leadership lacking and I’m not going to go into greater detail in that. And I think if you were poll the gang—the group of people that came in Congress in 1994, in which he did a wonderful job in organizing that, he’s brilliant, he has a lot of positives. But I still—it would be—I will have difficulty supporting him as president of the United States.”

Coburn isn’t alone in that view; if it becomes clear that Gingrich’s surge is not the short-lived bubble of Herman Cain or Michele Bachmann, his former colleagues will likely start bringing those attacks out in droves to block his accession back to the top of the party.


By: Patrick Caldwell, The American Prospect, December 6, 2011

December 7, 2011 Posted by | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , | Leave a comment


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