It’s open season on Newt Gingrich. In Iowa his rivals, most notably Ron Paul and Mitt Romney, have been running TV ads attacking the former Speaker relentlessly. Gingrich has promised to begin firing back and yesterday accused Romney of running a “smear campaign” via his SuperPAC.
“Understand, these are his people running his ads, doing his dirty work while he pretends to be above it,” Gingrich told reporters after a campaign appearance at a heavy machinery plant in Ottumwa, Iowa. “I don’t object to being outspent. I object to lies. I object to negative smear campaigns.”
The ads appearing to have taken a toll. Recent polls in Iowa show Gingrich slipping to anywhere from second to fourth. It should be pointed out that there are still a large number of undecideds in Iowa. History says many Iowa Caucus goers don’t make up their minds until the last few days, some even the waiting to decide until they’ve heard all the speeches at the Caucus meeting. In other words, nobody knows what will happen on January 3rd.
Other candidates are rising in even as Gingrich slips. Ron Paul, Michelle Bachman, Rick Santorum (Santorum picked up a key endorsement from an Iowa religious right leader), and even Rick Perry all appear to be rising as the “real” start of primary season approaches. Some polls show Ron Paul winning Iowa (see discussion here), which has caused consternation among some. Red State’s Leon Wolfe, it’s safe to say, doesn’t like Paul accusing him of being a Truther and saying Cynthia McKinney was an “acceptable” Presidential candidate (Paul would not support McCain in 2008). In a completely unrelated story, Iowa officials are beefing up internet security in response to a hacking threat.
Rick Perry’s campaign is gaining support from a number of right-wing bloggers. Mike Flynn over at Big Government, Dan Riehl, and a host of Red State front pagers (sans Erickson, who says he has no plans to endorse anytime soon) have all written articles touting the gun toting Texas Governor. From Red State:
2012 is a year of enormous opportunity for conservatives. The sitting president is deeply unpopular and discredited, the economy is mired in the doldrums, and the public’s trust in Washington and its traditional ways is at an all-time low. Tea Party-backed conservative successes in 2010 show that the public is willing to embrace candidates who dissent from the bipartisan consensus – a consensus that gives us an ever-growing federal government in general and too much federal interference and favoritism in the economy in particular. President Obama’s deep unpopularity with independents, together with the growth of left-wing populist protest movements, shows that dissatisfaction with the status quo reaches far beyond the conservative base. But the failure of some Tea Party conservatives in 2010 is also a reminder that to win, we need candidates who are serious, experienced, and battle-tested. That’s Rick Perry.
Gary Johnson and Donald Trump are considering third party runs. Johnson could potentially seek the Libertarian Party nomination. Trump and Buddy Roemer are potential candidates of the group “Americans Elect,” an online effort to elect a candidate not beholden to the Political Party system.
They have already secured a spot on the 2012 general election ballot in 11 states, are waiting for confirmation on their submitted petition signatures in three states and are in the process of collecting signatures in 15 others. So far 2.1 million people across the country have signed the Americans Election petition in support of ballot access.
Americans Elect spokeswoman Ileana Wachtel said Trump has not contacted the group about becoming their nominee. But he has time. The Americans Elect candidate drafting process does not open until January.
Lesser-known Republican presidential candidate Buddy Roemer is the only person that has publicly announced his intention to seek the Americans Elect nomination.
Finally, here is the latest RCP and Intrade information for the GOP nomination. Romney has seen a surge in the Intrade percentages, Gingrich a collapse though Gingrich still leads the RCP polling average.