There’s less than a week to go in the “preseason” of the race for the GOP Nomination. Imagine living in Iowa, where we’re told every commercial break is filled with TV ads. Ugh. Nevertheless we trudge on with the process of selecting a nominee. There’s one less candidate for Republicans to consider as Gary Johnson made it official this morning: he’s leaving the GOP to seek the nomination of the Libertarian Party.
According to a new PPP poll released this morning Ron Paul leads in Iowa, despite being the target of attacks from Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, among others. Santorum took aim at Paul’s foreign policy views, which the American Spectator says we should be looking at instead of those old newsletters.
Enter Eric Dondero, a longtime former Paul aide. Like David Stockman on Ronald Reagan and John Dean on Richard Nixon, Dondero has emerged as an insider who can be counted on to give hostile quotes about his old boss, with whom he now disagrees. Whatever can be said about the details of Dondero’s latest statement — in describing others’ views, he doesn’t see a lot of daylight between “pro-defense right-libertarians” and “isolationist/pacifist/surrenderists” — he is surely right that this dispute is less about Paul’s alleged political incorrectness in the ‘90s than his foreign policy views now.
I’ll repeat what I posted on Facebook a few days ago as a caution to my Republican friends opposing Paul and his supporters: “Believe me, I know how obnoxious some of Ron Paul’s supporters can be (see the comments to my video which was featured in the 2008 You Tube GOP Presidential debate). But folks if we’re going to defeat Obama next year we need as many votes as we can get. Telling supporters of Paul to get lost, when some of them may agree with the GOP nominee 70 pct of the time, is short sighted in my opinion.”
Speaking of Rick Santorum, many now expect him to perform better than he’s been polling in Iowa. While other candidates like Perry and Bachmann may be getting a second look by some, Rich Lowery at NRO gives Santorum a “first look” in this article.
Santorum’s calling card is his social conservatism, and he’s competing for Iowa’s evangelical voters with Texas governor Rick Perry and Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Santorum is more knowledgeable than Perry and more careful than Bachmann, and he has demonstrated more swing-state appeal than both by winning two statewide races in heavily Democratic Pennsylvania. His 18-point reelection shellacking in 2006 is his albatross, although Ronald Reagan himself might have lost in Pennsylvania in that GOP annus horribilis.
It didn’t help that Santorum’s outspokenness on social issues — especially those related to homosexuality — made him a figure of hatred and vulgar mockery on the left. But he’s not a thoughtless culture warrior, in it for the bombast. Santorum links his social conservatism to the struggles of the working class in one of the few thematic departures in a Republican primary that has been more about personalities and past heterodoxies than substantive differences.
Gingrich meanwhile, has been taking more grief from Romney. This week Romney said Gingrich’s campaign was “like Lucille Ball at the chocolate factory.” Gingrich, of course was left off the ballot in Virginia, as were all the GOP candidates save Paul and Romney. Big Government says the Virginia GOP changed the rules to verify petitions just last month:
The only reason the Virginia Republican Party checked the signatures for validity for the current primary is that in October 2011, an independent candidate for the legislature, Michael Osborne, sued the Virginia Republican Party because it did not check petitions for its own members, when they submitted primary petitions. Osborne had no trouble getting the needed 125 valid signatures for his own independent candidacy, but he charged that his Republican opponent’s primary petition had never been checked, and that if it had been, that opponent would not have qualified. The lawsuit, Osborne v Boyles, cl 11-520-00, was filed in Bristol County Circuit Court. It was filed too late to be heard before the election, but is still pending. The effect of the lawsuit was to persuade the Republican Party to start checking petitions. If the Republican Party had not changed that policy, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry would be on the 2012 ballot.
Gingrich yesterday took Romney to task for refusing to face him in a one on one debate.
Jim Galloway took notice of the last line of a new Gingrich ad urging Iowa voters to not “let the liberal Republican establishment pick our candidate.” It’s all depends on where you stand I suppose.
Meanwhile, Occupiers are taking aim at the GOP candidates, showing up at events in Iowa. They’ve hassled Michelle Bachmann and Newt Gingrich:
Gingrich dismissed them as the “one-tenth of one percent” and noted he’d been similarly heckled during an earlier stop in Iowa City. “All noise, no thought, tried to drown out conversation,” he said.
Here’s the latest RCP Averages and Intrade percentages. Not much change from last week.
Finally, I’ll leave you with a bit of humor. Mitt Ronmey’s Bad Lip Reading.
And don’t forget read Erick’s weekly “Horserace” column.