Good Morning!! Tonight is the Florida Republican primary, and we’ll be live blogging it later on. This post is going to be a quickie, because I worked way too long on the one I put up last night. Still, I do have some interesting reads to recommend.
A couple of days ago, I read a fascinating piece by Emily Yoffe at Slate about the difficulty of adopting pets these days. It seems that if you want to adopt a pet from a rescue place, you have to fill out endless forms and go to great lengths to prove you’re worthy before you can be granted the privilege of taking home a cat or dog–or even a bird or hamster!
The article is really interesting and funny, so check it out. You won’t regret it. One of the most surprising facts Yoffe reveals is that 25% of people who are identified as animal hoarders are either past or present rescue workers!
I’m sure you’ve heard that Mitt Romney has been using a scorched earth policy against Newt Gingrich in Florida. The NYT had an interesting article on the reasons for Romney’s change in strategy.
In a call last Sunday morning, just hours after Mr. Romney’s double-digit loss to Mr. Gingrich in the South Carolina primary, the Romney team outlined the new approach to the candidate. Put aside the more acute focus on President Obama and narrow in on Mr. Gingrich.
Find lines of attack that could goad Mr. Gingrich into angry responses and rally mainstream Republicans. Swarm Gingrich campaign events to rattle him. Have Mr. Romney drop his above-the-fray persona and carry the fight directly to his opponent, especially in two critical debates scheduled for the week.
The results of that strategy, carried out by a veteran squad of strategists and operatives assembled by Mr. Romney to deal with just this kind of moment, have been on striking display here.
By this weekend, Mr. Romney’s aides were on the offensive and increasingly confident, with some combination of their strategy and Mr. Gingrich’s own performance swinging polls in Mr. Romney’s direction. Even as it acknowledged the damage inflicted on Mr. Romney by the past several weeks, his team suggested that it had learned a lesson about never letting up on rivals, especially if Mr. Romney wins the nomination and confronts Mr. Obama in the general election.
Some conservatives are really upset about what Romney is doing to Gingrich. They say he may win the Florida primary, but he’s hurting the GOP and probably making himself a weaker candidate against Obama. Here’s an excerpt from a post by William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection:
If you asked me even a couple of weeks ago whether the Republican Party could heal from the wounds of this election cycle in time to unite against Obama, I would have said ”Yes.”
I’m not so sure anymore. After the South Carolina primary the Republican establishment, and media supporters like Matt Drudge, launched Scorched Earth II on Newt, while pro-Romney pundits like Ann Coulter heaped scorn on the conservative and Tea Party voters who sided with Newt.
It may just be “not-beanbag” to the Romney campaign and its supporters, but people hear them loud and clear.
Two lines of attack have exposed a schism between the Republican political haves and have nots which will not easily heal: The attempt to rewrite the history of the Reagan revolution and the embrace of Nancy Pelosi’s partisan ethics attack and blackmail.
Another conservative writer and talk show host, John Batchelor says Romney and Gingrich are “setting the GOP on a path to destruction.”
The primary campaign nastiness between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich is exhausting Republican loyalists. What in Iowa was a feisty contest between the haughty Mr. Romney and the operatic Mr. Gingrich turned hollow in New Hampshire and harsh in South Carolina. By the close of the Florida scramble, with the Herman Cain Express back from the repair yard to hitch onto the Newt baggage car, what remains of the Republican dialogue does not appear likely to be of much worth for the fall campaign.
The solution to the puzzle may be to admit that the GOP has forfeited 2012 before the general election even starts. How did this happen so suddenly?
“That’s the great mystery of 2012,” a senior Republican journalist told me while watching the brouhaha in Florida. “We have the weakest incumbent president in 32 years, running on the weakest record in 32 years… and who’s taking the stage in South Carolina and Florida? It has to be the weakest field I can remember. Each of these candidates has in his character, in his history, in his idea set—never mind disqualifying—a guarantee for self-destruction. If Newt is the candidate, he’ll lose badly. If Mitt is the candidate, he’ll lose slightly less badly … So what you have is an almost complete guarantee that if these are the candidates, Barack Obama will be reelected.”
It seems to me that the GOP is experiencing a major schism like the one that spit the Democratic party in 2008. This will be interesting to watch.
Mitt Romney appeared on the Today Show yesterday to defend his new campaign strategy. I can’t embed the NBC video here, but you can watch it at this Atlantic Wire link. I think Romney comes off as both arrogant and passive aggressive. He also addresses (but doesn’t really deal with) Tom Brokaw’s objections to being used in a Romney attack ad.
“We’ll sit down with the lawyers, talk to the folks at NBC, and make a decision on that front,” Romney told the Today show’s Matt Lauer when asked if he would pull the TV spot heavily featuring a 1997 Tom Brokaw newscast about Newt Gingrich. What Romney said on Today sounded a bit more unsure than the Romney staffer who over the weekend said the campaign would not be taking down the ad.
Last night, Romney continued to “ridicule” Gingrich, according to Reuters.
A confident Mitt Romney solidified his lead in Florida polls and ridiculed Republican rival Newt Gingrich on Monday, calling his opponent’s attacks “sad” and “painfully revealing” the day before the state’s crucial presidential primary.
Romney’s self-assuredness was on full display during a campaign tour that felt at times like a victory lap, with the front-runner telling a crowd of 2,000 in Dunedin, Florida: “With a turnout like this I got a feeling we might win tomorrow.”
I can’t help but wish that Florida voters would wipe that self-satisfied smile off Romney’s face tonight. Amazingly, Andrew Sullivan shares my feelings.
I didn’t watch 60 Minutes on Sunday night, but Glenn Greenwald did: Leon Panetta’s explicitly authoritarian decree. Read it and weep.
That’s about all I’ve got. I’ll end with Charlie Pierce’s latest: Romney, Basking in a Ray of Reality, Faces Real Test It’s his take on the NYT piece.
I am supposed to write now about how Willard Romney, the only presidential candidate in history to run as his own animatronic double, got his swerve on, his mojo back, and his engorged pen… no, wait, let me start again. I am supposed to write about how Willard Romney, a man with the charisma of grass seed and the political principles of a moray eel, became a newly formidable candidate after his thumping by Newt Gingrich among the holy-rolling swamp-runners in South Carolina. I read in yesterday’s New York Times that, after failing the ultimate test of his Gooberhood, Willard fled to one of his several Fortresses of Solitude, only to emerge in Florida as a lean, mean pompadoured war beast:
It was a call to arms employing all the visible and invisible tactics of political warfare.
(Ed. Note: Did they paint their faces blue and eat the still-beating hearts out of live elk?)
Now you can go read the rest at Charlie’s blog, and then come back and share what you’re reading and blogging about.
What could be more fitting? Serial sexual harasser Herman Cain has endorsed serial adulterer Newt Gingrich for the Republican nomination. You just can’t make this stuff up folks! From CBS News:
Atlanta businessman and former presidential candidate Herman Cain endorsed Newt Gingrich Saturday night at a West Palm Beach Country Republican gathering after two months of wavering on whether he would offer his support to a fellow candidate.
The endorsement comes just three days before the crucial Florida primary, by far the largest state to vote so far in the GOP sweepstakes, and could help Gingrich energize tea party support. Gingrich campaign has flagged since his upstart, double-digit victory over front-runner Mitt Romney in the South Carolina primary a week ago.
“I had it in my heart and mind a long time ago” to endorse Gingrich, Cain said in a surprise appearance at the dinner.
Cain cited the former House speaker’s “bold ideas” as the basis for his choice, saying Gingrich wasn’t afraid to propose big ideas that would benefit the nation, even if they invited the ridicule of his rivals.
“There are many reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is that I know that Speaker Gingrich is a patriot,” Cain said. “Speaker Gingrich is not afraid of bold ideas and I also know that Speaker Gingrich is running for president and going through this sausage grinder. I know what this sausage grinder is all about. I know that he is going through this sausage grinder because he cares about the future of the United States of America.”
Cain and Gingrich walked onto stage together to a huge round of applause from the audience, whose excitement continued throughout the former candidate’s brief remarks. As Gingrich took the stage after him, he joked that when he accepted the invitation to speak at the West Palm Beach County GOP Lincoln Dinner, he “had no idea it would be this interesting.”
After the dinner, Cain told the Palm Beach Post
that he plans to be both active and vocal in Gingrich’s campaign.
“Newt embraces 9-9-9, we talked about it,” Cain said. “He doesn’t have to be out there carrying the flag, that’s my job. The fact is that I’m going to be a key player on his economic growth and job advisory panel.”
Despite polls showing Romney leapfrogging Gingrich in Florida, Cain said he thinks Gingrich “has that spark back.”
“I think that where people think he lost his spark was temporary, and you can’t let that one moment represent all of the other wonderful things he’s said, all of the wonderful things he’s done,” Cain said. “If people listen to his ideas and not listen to his distractions, they’ll see that spark.”
One looney tune endorses another looney tune. This could have been a skit on SNL. Like I said, you just can’t make this stuff up.
This is an open thread.
I hate to tell you this, but there is another Republican debate tonight at 8PM, hosted by CNN in Jacksonville, Florida. We’ll be live blogging, as always. Being the twisted individual I am, I’m still enjoying watching the Republicans commit mass suicide, so I’ll be listening and updating even if no one else shows up. But I hope some people do! Now let’s see what’s in the news today.
I missed this in the run up to the SOTU last night: Speaker tells members what not to wear
Just seconds after an emotional tribute to Arizona Democratic Rep Gabby Giffords in the House of Representatives Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner – who got a little choked up in the moment – suddenly felt the need to remind members that there’s a dress code on the House floor.
Boehner recovered his composure after embracing Giffords, who had just handed him her resignation letter. He looked around the chamber, and announced, “the chair would remind all members to be in proper business attire when you come to the floor of the House.”
Apparently enforcing the House dress code is one of the duties of Speaker that Boehner takes very seriously.
On Monday night, Boehner ran through some of basic rules of decorum on the floor, including the one about proper dress. “Members should wear appropriate attire however brief their presence might be,” the speaker said. And to the wardrobe offenders, Boehner said, “you know who you are.”
I know everyone has heard the news that Tim Geithner doesn’t expect President Obama to ask him to stay on as Treasury Secretary for a second term.
“He’s not going to ask me to stay on, I’m pretty confident,” Geithner said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today. “I’m confident he’ll be president. But I’m also confident he’s going to have the privilege of having another secretary of the Treasury.”
Ralphb commented on the SOTU live blog that Geithner “looked like he’d been gut punched” when Obama spoke about making banks pay fees on “transactions to pay for mortgage relief/refinancing.” Apparently Geithner wasn’t clued in about that ahead of time.
I’m wondering if they’ve been leaving him out of some of the meetings since Confidence Men revealed that Geithner was dismissive of presidential orders. Check out the facial expressions and body language in the above photo taken after the speech (I made it big so you could see detail). To me that doesn’t look like a friendly greeting. What do you think?
According to Business Week (see above link) two possible candidates to replace Geithner are Catfood Commission co-chair Erskine Bowles and North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad–both horrible choices IMO.
Conrad, 63, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee who said a year ago he won’t seek another term, is “a serious budget hawk on the left, well-liked and respected,” Calabria said.
Bowles, 66, is the former co-leader of Obama’s commission that drafted a plan to reduce the federal government’s debt.
President Obama had another difficult interaction on Wednesday when he met wacky Arizona Governor Jan Brewer at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. From the Chicago Tribune:
During their brief encounter on the tarmac, intended to be a ceremonial welcome, Obama told Governor Jan Brewer that he disagreed with an account she had given of a meeting they had at the White House two years ago.
“He was a little disturbed about my book, ‘Scorpions for Breakfast,'” Brewer told reporters after the conversation. At one point during their chat, she pointed a finger at the president.
Brewer, who has differed with Obama over immigration policy in the past, handed him a letter asking him for a meeting to talk about Arizona’s economy when she greeted him. A White House official said the subject of the book came up after Brewer gave Obama the letter.
“The president said he’d be glad to meet with her again, but did note that after their last meeting, a cordial discussion in the Oval Office, the governor inaccurately described the meeting in her book. The president looks forward to continuing taking steps to help Arizona’s economy grow,” the official said.
I didn’t know she had written a book. In fact, I didn’t know she could read…. ABC News provides a little more detail on what the squabble was about.
Brewer complains in Scorpions for Breakfast that she and her staff were treated coldly by White House aides, prevented from taking pictures in the holding room outside the Oval Office and that their cell phones and cameras were “confiscated” by Secret Service.
“Too bad we weren’t illegal aliens, or we could have sued them,” she writes.
During her meeting with the president, Brewer said Obama was “condescending” and professorial, “lecturing” on his efforts to promote comprehensive immigration reform.
“It wasn’t long before I realized I was hearing the president’s stump speech,” she said. “Only I was supposed to listen without talking. Did he care to hear the view from the actual scene at the border? Did the opinions and observations of the people of Arizona mean anything to him? I didn’t think so.”
“He was patronizing,” she said. “Then it dawned on me: He’s treating me like the cop he had over for a beer after he bad-mouthed the Cambridge police, I thought. He thinks he can humor me and then get rid of me.”
After the interaction, Obama apparently walked away before Brewer finished giving him a piece of her mind (or what’s left of it), but she said she would “regroup.” I guess that means “get over it.”
In the run-up to tonight’s debate, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have been lustily attacking each other. Romney must be doing something right, because he’s now running neck and neck with Newt (36% for Romney and 34% for Gingrich) after being behind the former Speaker by 9 points a couple of days ago. Santorum is trailing at 11% and Paul 9% CNN reports:
Gingrich…disparaged Romney’s personal wealth when asked about the former Massachusetts governor’s call for illegal immigrants to deport themselves.
“I think you have to live in a world of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts and automatic, you know, $20 million a year income with no work to have some fantasy this far from reality,” Gingrich said at a “Meet the Candidates” forum in Miami, later adding: “For Romney to believe that somebody’s grandmother is going to be so cut off that she is going to self-deport, I mean this verges — this is an Obama-level fantasy.” [….]
Romney….said in the candidate forum, hosted by the Spanish-language network Univision, that such attacks were “unbecoming” for a presidential hopeful….”It’s very sad for a candidate to resort to that kind of epithet,” Romney said of the pulled ad. “There are differences between the candidates on these issues but we don’t attack each other with those kind of terrible terms.”
Newt Gingrich was heckled about his work for Freddie Mac at a rally in Coral Springs, Florida yesterday.
It was quite a scene as a scrum of journalists ignored the candidate and turned to Cara Jennings, who heckled Gingrich in the face of intimidation from his campaign workers, threats from nearby supporters, and the two police officers who showed up to flank her.
“Do you work for the people or Freddie Mac?” Jennings shouted at the former speaker, who was on a platform in a parking lot about 50 feet away.
“I work for the people,” Gingrich responded.
The woman kept shouting, and Gingrich implored her to give others a chance to hear him. But Jennings kept it up, and Gingrich continued engaging her.
Mitt Romney, feeling pressure over the low taxes he pays, tried to claim that his “real tax rate is closer to 45-50 percent.” Think Progress provides a transcript from Romney’s interview with Univision’s Jorge Ramos:
RAMOS: You just released your tax returns. In 2010 you only paid 13 percent of taxes while most Americans paid much more than that. Is that fair?
ROMNEY: Well, actually, I released two years of taxes and I think the average is almost 15 percent. And then also, on top of that, I gave another more 15 percent to charity. When you add it together with all of the taxes and the charity, particularly in the last year, I think it reaches almost 40 percent that I gave back to the community. One of the reasons why we have a lower tax rate on capital gains is because capital gains are also being taxed at the corporate level. So as businesses earn profits, that’s taxed at 35 percent, then as they distribute those profits as dividends, that’s taxed at 15 percent more. So, all total, the tax rate is really closer to 45 or 50 percent.
RAMOS: But is it fair what you pay, 13 percent, while most pay much more than that?
ROMNEY: Well, again, I go back to the point that the, that the funds are being taxed twice at two different levels.
Sorry Mitt, but you’re not a corporation, and besides, as Think Progress points out, most corporations don’t pay 35 percent taxes–in fact many corporations pay no taxes. Romney constantly tells out and out, bald-face lies. Is that de rigueur for the Mormon church, or does he get a dispensation because of all the money he contributes to them?
Brainwashed cult member Rick Santorum, whose campaign is going nowhere in Florida, appeared at a Baptist church in Naples, Florida. He told the audience that “the left” uses college education to “indoctrinate” young people.
“It’s no wonder President Obama wants every kid to go to college,” said the former Pennsylvania senator. “The indoctrination that occurs in American universities is one of the keys to the left holding and maintaining power in America. And it is indoctrination. If it was the other way around, the ACLU would be out there making sure that there wasn’t one penny of government dollars going to colleges and universities, right?”
He continued: “If they taught Judeo-Christian principles in those colleges and universities, they would be stripped of every dollar. If they teach radical secular ideology, they get all the government support that they can possibly give them. Because you know 62 percent of children who enter college with a faith conviction leave without it.” [….]
“I’ll bet you there are people in this room who give money to colleges and universities who are undermining the very principles of our country every single day by indoctrinating kids with left-wing ideology,” he said. “And you continue to give to these colleges and universities. Let me have a suggestion: Stop it.”
Santorum attended Penn State and went on to earn an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh and a law degree from Dickinson School of Law. But he’d rather have the proles stay uneducated so they’ll buy his crazy theocratic bullsh*t.
Santorum did have a license to practice law, but it has been suspended because he didn’t bother to pay his $70.00 per year fee to keep it active. He stopped paying in 1994 and was suspended in 2010. Maybe he decided being a lawyer was the devil’s work?
OK, that’s it for me. What are you reading and blogging about today?
How would you like to have to look at that poster until November? Well, quite a few of the pundits are now saying that it could happen. It’s still unlikely as of today, but it’s pretty clear the Republican base simply doesn’t like Mitt Romney, and the only other choices are a crazy old man, a guy who wants to ban birth control and divorce, and Newt Gingrich.
It’s not looking so good for Romney, unless he can start to connect better with Republican voters. He’s still the overall front runner, but if he can’t win big in Florida that could change. Unfortunately for Romney, there’s another debate tonight, and 88% of voters in SC said the debates were very influential in their voting decisions.
I’m fascinated by what is happening to the Republicans, and I spent quite a bit of time yesterday reading opinions on what Newt’s victory in South Carolina means and what might happen next. I thought this morning I’d share some of what I read with you.
Howard Fineman says the Republican race for the nomination will now last “forever, or at least until May.”
The GOP calendar this year is more spread out than it was four years ago, which means that the contest was going to last until at least late April even if Romney had buried Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul long ago. But now that South Carolina has given a boost to Gingrich — and a small but important cache of delegates — it’s clear how long the campaign will last….
Four years ago, nearly 60 percent of all delegates had been chosen by the end of February. Republican officials wanted to correct for that this time around, but they may have overdone it. This year a mere 15 percent of all delegates will have been chosen by the end of February — and even if there were a prohibitive frontrunner (which there is not), no one could mathematically wrap up the nomination before April 24.
Fineman explains that the states have different rules for apportioning delegates. South Carolina is winner take all in each Congressional district. New Hampshire is proportional, so right now Gingrich probably has more delegates than Romney. He suggests there could even be a floor fight at the Convention. And former RNC chairman Michael Steele agrees, saying there’s now a 50-50 chance of that happening.
At Real Clear Politics, Sean Trende writes:
There is no good news buried in here for Mitt Romney. None. As of this writing, Mitt Romney is leading in three counties in South Carolina: Charleston, Beaufort (Hilton Head) and Richland (Columbia). He lost fast-growing, coastal Horry County, home of Myrtle Beach, by 15 points. He lost Greenville and Spartanburg, in the upcountry, by similar margins. He lost Edgefield County by 40 points….
According to the exit polls, Romney lost among every major category of voter. The demographic groups he managed to win include those with postgraduate degrees (18 percent of the electorate), people earning $200,000 or more (5 percent), moderates (23 percent), non-evangelicals (35 percent), and pro-choicers (34 percent). None of the leads over Gingrich in these groups were particularly large.
He says Romney is no longer the inevitable nominee.
Simply put, there are very few states where he can perform among the major demographic groups the way he performed in South Carolina and still expect to win. And remember, this is still in many ways the electorate that selected Christine O’Donnell, Carl Paladino and Linda McMahon as its standard-bearers — in very blue states with relatively moderate GOP electorates, no less.
This vote was an utter repudiation of Romney, and it absolutely will be repeated in state after state if something doesn’t change the basic dynamic of the race. It is true that Gingrich doesn’t have funds or organization, but he gets a ton of free media from the debates, and he has an electorate that simply wants someone other than Romney.
Trende says there about a 35% chance that Romney could lose the nomination now. It turns out that Romney did get some delegates from SC–a total of 2 out of the total of 25. That’s pretty pathetic.