Commentary Magazine


Topic: Mike Huckabee

Huckabee’s Last Stand

If this is Mike Huckabee’s last night as a presidential candidate, it looks like he’ll go out in a position of strength. Huckabee has already won West Virginia and Arkansas; is leading in Georgia; and is running second to John McCain in Alabama, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. In these conservative states, Huckabee has asserted himself over Mitt Romney as the conservative choice for the nomination. This should enhance his attractiveness as a vice-presidential candidate should McCain seal the nomination tonight.

Of course, California remains the wild card. Stay tuned.

If this is Mike Huckabee’s last night as a presidential candidate, it looks like he’ll go out in a position of strength. Huckabee has already won West Virginia and Arkansas; is leading in Georgia; and is running second to John McCain in Alabama, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. In these conservative states, Huckabee has asserted himself over Mitt Romney as the conservative choice for the nomination. This should enhance his attractiveness as a vice-presidential candidate should McCain seal the nomination tonight.

Of course, California remains the wild card. Stay tuned.

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Be Careful What You Attack For

Jen, what if the talk-show attacks on John McCain, all of which have been intended to benefit Mitt Romney, have instead given new life to Mike Huckabee’s campaign? After all, the talkers have been talking about the need for conservative purity. Under those terms, the Christian-identity candidate doubtless seems more authentic than the former moderate-turned-conservative from Massachusetts.

Jen, what if the talk-show attacks on John McCain, all of which have been intended to benefit Mitt Romney, have instead given new life to Mike Huckabee’s campaign? After all, the talkers have been talking about the need for conservative purity. Under those terms, the Christian-identity candidate doubtless seems more authentic than the former moderate-turned-conservative from Massachusetts.

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Just Wondering

If Mike Huckabee, as yours truly suggested might happen, beats all the odds and gets more delegates than Romney tonight will the talk radio anti-McCain voices holler for Romney to drop out and get out of Huckabee’s way? If it comes down to Huckabee and McCain, what’s a conservative talk show host to do?

If Mike Huckabee, as yours truly suggested might happen, beats all the odds and gets more delegates than Romney tonight will the talk radio anti-McCain voices holler for Romney to drop out and get out of Huckabee’s way? If it comes down to Huckabee and McCain, what’s a conservative talk show host to do?

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Huckabee Beats Romney In West Virginia

It took two ballots, but Mike Huckabee beat out Mitt Romney in the West Virginia caucus. Both candidates spoke there and Romney did his usual expert organizing. Is this a sign of things to come? Well, this is what news hounds ask during Election Day afternoon when no other returns are available. To put it in context: McCain lost in the first round and his voters switched over to Romney. The Huckabee-McCain alliance finally amounts to something. And the impact of talk radio is evidently, as far as I can tell, nil in West Virginia.

It took two ballots, but Mike Huckabee beat out Mitt Romney in the West Virginia caucus. Both candidates spoke there and Romney did his usual expert organizing. Is this a sign of things to come? Well, this is what news hounds ask during Election Day afternoon when no other returns are available. To put it in context: McCain lost in the first round and his voters switched over to Romney. The Huckabee-McCain alliance finally amounts to something. And the impact of talk radio is evidently, as far as I can tell, nil in West Virginia.

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McCain Has The “Mo”

McCain builds momentum as we head into the weekend. He gains former Rudy backer and ex-Massachusetts Governor Paul Cellucci (and decides to make Romney sweat in his home state) and also nabs former Rudy advisor Steve Forbes. (Fiscal conservatives can argue whether Forbes or McCain advisor Phil Gramm would make a better Treasury Secretary.) Finally, the McCain team advises the media that in the excruciatingly complicated Louisiana caucuses (in which an uncommitted pro-life slate initially won), the delegates have now selected McCain. He nabs 41 of 47 of the state’s delegates.

Little by little the pieces fall into place. Looking at the latest polling I see Mitt Romney leading only in Massachusetts, Colorado and Utah. In many Red states he runs third to MIke Huckabee. It is quite possible Huckabee will gain more delegates than Romney on Tuesday.

McCain builds momentum as we head into the weekend. He gains former Rudy backer and ex-Massachusetts Governor Paul Cellucci (and decides to make Romney sweat in his home state) and also nabs former Rudy advisor Steve Forbes. (Fiscal conservatives can argue whether Forbes or McCain advisor Phil Gramm would make a better Treasury Secretary.) Finally, the McCain team advises the media that in the excruciatingly complicated Louisiana caucuses (in which an uncommitted pro-life slate initially won), the delegates have now selected McCain. He nabs 41 of 47 of the state’s delegates.

Little by little the pieces fall into place. Looking at the latest polling I see Mitt Romney leading only in Massachusetts, Colorado and Utah. In many Red states he runs third to MIke Huckabee. It is quite possible Huckabee will gain more delegates than Romney on Tuesday.

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Romney Better Hope Huckabee Stays In

The latest Fox poll showing John McCain at 48%, Mitt Romney at 20% and Mike Huckabee with 19% is interesting for more than just the confirmation of the frontrunner bounce McCain has received. If Huckabee were not in the race McCain would lead 62% to 29%. (Yes, 62%.) So much for the theory that Huckabee hurts Romney.

On the head-to-head match ups, McCain leads Hillary Clinton by one point and trails Barack Obama by one point. (Both, obviously, are a statistical tie.) Romney trails Clinton by 14 points and by Obama by 18 points. But Romney has Ann Coulter in his corner. (By the way, in the most delicate way possible, Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said in response to my question whether Romney agreed with Coulter’s comments that conservatives should vote for Clinton if McCain were the nominee, “She has her opinion. Mitt Romney has a different opinion.”)

The latest Fox poll showing John McCain at 48%, Mitt Romney at 20% and Mike Huckabee with 19% is interesting for more than just the confirmation of the frontrunner bounce McCain has received. If Huckabee were not in the race McCain would lead 62% to 29%. (Yes, 62%.) So much for the theory that Huckabee hurts Romney.

On the head-to-head match ups, McCain leads Hillary Clinton by one point and trails Barack Obama by one point. (Both, obviously, are a statistical tie.) Romney trails Clinton by 14 points and by Obama by 18 points. But Romney has Ann Coulter in his corner. (By the way, in the most delicate way possible, Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said in response to my question whether Romney agreed with Coulter’s comments that conservatives should vote for Clinton if McCain were the nominee, “She has her opinion. Mitt Romney has a different opinion.”)

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Re: Romney’s Money

The breakdown on how much the presidential candidates spent on TV ads is stunning. Mitt Romney ran 34,281 ads costing $29M. John McCain ran 10,830 ads costing $8M. Mike Huckabee ran 5831 ads at a cost of $2.6M. What did it get them? McCain has 93 delegates (that is approximately $86,000 in ad expenditure per delegate), Romney has 59 delegates (a little more than $490,000 per delegate), and Huckabee has 40 delegates (just $65,000 per delegate).

Some commentators questioned McCain’s management skills when his campaign spent too much and ran aground last year, but he appears to have been the turnaround artist here, operating with extreme frugality and getting an excellent return on his investment (with a bank loan to assist him). He did not run an operation which was staffed to the hilt and sent out e-mails every time the candidate sneezed. There’s a lesson or two in there.

The breakdown on how much the presidential candidates spent on TV ads is stunning. Mitt Romney ran 34,281 ads costing $29M. John McCain ran 10,830 ads costing $8M. Mike Huckabee ran 5831 ads at a cost of $2.6M. What did it get them? McCain has 93 delegates (that is approximately $86,000 in ad expenditure per delegate), Romney has 59 delegates (a little more than $490,000 per delegate), and Huckabee has 40 delegates (just $65,000 per delegate).

Some commentators questioned McCain’s management skills when his campaign spent too much and ran aground last year, but he appears to have been the turnaround artist here, operating with extreme frugality and getting an excellent return on his investment (with a bank loan to assist him). He did not run an operation which was staffed to the hilt and sent out e-mails every time the candidate sneezed. There’s a lesson or two in there.

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The Democrats Are Having All The Fun

What a depressing night for Republicans! Whatever the Democratic debate lacked in substance, it made up for in sheer exuberance. With the writers strike sucking the fun out of Hollywood society, the Obama-Clinton debate felt like an opening night gala. And what a show! The rallies outside, the opening photo-op, the cheers, the friendly banter, the applause, the movie stars, the booing of Wolf Blitzer’s editorializing, the glamour of the Kodak Theater. It was an orgy of Democratic chest-pounding and self-congratulation worthy of Oscar night, John. Who couldn’t enjoy this after last night’s somber and often angry snipe-fest at the mausoleum that is the Reagan library?

What ought to haunt the GOP the most is that this Democratic contest might not be settled until April 22, the Pennsylvania primary. That means another 10 weeks of this remarkable Democratic road show while McCain continues to debate Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul on Fox News.

A McCain-Clinton or McCain-Obama debate might make all this look very different, especially if any serious discussion of taxes or foreign policy emerges. But at the moment, it looks like the Democrats are hosting a much better frat-house rush party.

What a depressing night for Republicans! Whatever the Democratic debate lacked in substance, it made up for in sheer exuberance. With the writers strike sucking the fun out of Hollywood society, the Obama-Clinton debate felt like an opening night gala. And what a show! The rallies outside, the opening photo-op, the cheers, the friendly banter, the applause, the movie stars, the booing of Wolf Blitzer’s editorializing, the glamour of the Kodak Theater. It was an orgy of Democratic chest-pounding and self-congratulation worthy of Oscar night, John. Who couldn’t enjoy this after last night’s somber and often angry snipe-fest at the mausoleum that is the Reagan library?

What ought to haunt the GOP the most is that this Democratic contest might not be settled until April 22, the Pennsylvania primary. That means another 10 weeks of this remarkable Democratic road show while McCain continues to debate Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul on Fox News.

A McCain-Clinton or McCain-Obama debate might make all this look very different, especially if any serious discussion of taxes or foreign policy emerges. But at the moment, it looks like the Democrats are hosting a much better frat-house rush party.

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Huckabee Goes on the Offensive

Before the debate last night, I speculated that Mike Huckabee might play the role of McCain’s attack dog. He did not, preferring instead to bolster his appeal with social conservatives and perhaps to avoid a brushback accusation from Mitt Romney that he was, well, playing the role of McCain’s attack dog.

This morning on the increasingly newsworthy Morning Joe Huckabee let it rip. He started with this about Romney:

Here’s a man who didn’t hit political puberty in the conservative ranks until 60 years old. . . Here’s a guy who just ten years ago was saying, look, I’m an independent. I’m not for that Reagan-Bush legacy. And now he wraps himself in it. Here’s a guy who, despite what he says, his record in Massachusetts was significant increases in fees. And the numbers, you know, I’m going to the independent objective reports of those, and they were more like $700 million. He’s a recent convert to pro life. He still doesn’t have a solid stance on the second amendment. He believes that Brady and banning assault weapons, which they’re so-called, which is not a conservative position. He’s a recent convert to traditional marriage view. He at one time said he would do more for the gay community than Ted Kennedy. That’s not a conservative position. So I just don’t understand this whole thing about so many people, whether it’s Rush Limbaugh or anyone else, saying he’s the conservative in the race. He may be saying conservative things now, but he certainly wasn’t saying them until he ran for president, and his record is not one of being consistent. When you have an abortion bill in your state as part of your health package that for $50 you guarantee a government-funded abortion within your health plan to any person who’s truly pro life, that is not conservative.

Then he explained why this matters:

It’s about the credibility of the candidacy and whether or not there’s authenticity. And for me, give me a guy that I disagree with but at least I know he’s speaking from his convictions, and it’s not just a convenient political view that he’s taking because today I’m talking to a women’s group, so I’m pro woman. But tomorrow I’m talking to a men’s group, so I’m not. That’s what disturbs me, and I think it’s the kind of politics that just really turns people off.

The full performance is here. Well, I suppose he is still in the running for McCain’s VP. However, it also does explain why the “rally around Romney” phenomenon has not occured. The anti-McCain sentiment is real among staunch conservative opinion makers, but conservative voters just have not rallied to Romney enthusiastically because he really has not been a movement conservative. It is politically difficult from the perspective of disgruntled conservatives just to be against McCain; they would have to stir a groundswell of support for the alternative. That simply hasn’t happened, for many of the reasons Huckabee identified.

Before the debate last night, I speculated that Mike Huckabee might play the role of McCain’s attack dog. He did not, preferring instead to bolster his appeal with social conservatives and perhaps to avoid a brushback accusation from Mitt Romney that he was, well, playing the role of McCain’s attack dog.

This morning on the increasingly newsworthy Morning Joe Huckabee let it rip. He started with this about Romney:

Here’s a man who didn’t hit political puberty in the conservative ranks until 60 years old. . . Here’s a guy who just ten years ago was saying, look, I’m an independent. I’m not for that Reagan-Bush legacy. And now he wraps himself in it. Here’s a guy who, despite what he says, his record in Massachusetts was significant increases in fees. And the numbers, you know, I’m going to the independent objective reports of those, and they were more like $700 million. He’s a recent convert to pro life. He still doesn’t have a solid stance on the second amendment. He believes that Brady and banning assault weapons, which they’re so-called, which is not a conservative position. He’s a recent convert to traditional marriage view. He at one time said he would do more for the gay community than Ted Kennedy. That’s not a conservative position. So I just don’t understand this whole thing about so many people, whether it’s Rush Limbaugh or anyone else, saying he’s the conservative in the race. He may be saying conservative things now, but he certainly wasn’t saying them until he ran for president, and his record is not one of being consistent. When you have an abortion bill in your state as part of your health package that for $50 you guarantee a government-funded abortion within your health plan to any person who’s truly pro life, that is not conservative.

Then he explained why this matters:

It’s about the credibility of the candidacy and whether or not there’s authenticity. And for me, give me a guy that I disagree with but at least I know he’s speaking from his convictions, and it’s not just a convenient political view that he’s taking because today I’m talking to a women’s group, so I’m pro woman. But tomorrow I’m talking to a men’s group, so I’m not. That’s what disturbs me, and I think it’s the kind of politics that just really turns people off.

The full performance is here. Well, I suppose he is still in the running for McCain’s VP. However, it also does explain why the “rally around Romney” phenomenon has not occured. The anti-McCain sentiment is real among staunch conservative opinion makers, but conservative voters just have not rallied to Romney enthusiastically because he really has not been a movement conservative. It is politically difficult from the perspective of disgruntled conservatives just to be against McCain; they would have to stir a groundswell of support for the alternative. That simply hasn’t happened, for many of the reasons Huckabee identified.

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Are We Better Off Than We Were Eight Years Ago?

In an effort to sound caring, Mitt Romney and John McCain couldn’t bring themselves to say yes. Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul said no. This is ridiculous. Our economy is $3.2 trillion larger than it was in 2000 (in constant dollars, up 20 percent). Per capita income has risen from $34,000 to $44,000 (in constant dollars, up by 10 percent). Inflation has been historically low — at least until the last two quarters. Of course America is better off.

In an effort to sound caring, Mitt Romney and John McCain couldn’t bring themselves to say yes. Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul said no. This is ridiculous. Our economy is $3.2 trillion larger than it was in 2000 (in constant dollars, up 20 percent). Per capita income has risen from $34,000 to $44,000 (in constant dollars, up by 10 percent). Inflation has been historically low — at least until the last two quarters. Of course America is better off.

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Three Questions For Tonight’s GOP Debate

How badly does Mitt Romney want to be President? If he really does, he will throw everything he has at McCain– temperament, immigration, taxes, conservative unity, “cap and trade,” and robo-calls — in a final, last ditch charge, a political Pickett’s Charge, to slow the McCain march to the nomination. (You may recall who won that encounter.) The risk to Romney: he stirs a backlash, McCain appears to rise above it, and both McCain’s nomination and Romney’s reputation are sealed for the history books. (Consider also that Romney is only 60 years old and might have other races in his future.)

How badly does John McCain want to be President? If he really does, he will show no trace of annoyance and no anger when Romney tries to get under his skin. If challenged on the latest flap over Romney’s alleged support for a timetable for withdrawal in Iraq, he will repeat in measured terms that he supported the surge and risked his nomination, but Romney played it coy until the surge was succeeding. As to all charges of disloyalty to the Republican party, he will simply invite the voters to compare their relative records of fidelity to conservative positions.

How badly does Mike Huckabee want to be Vice President? If he really does (and thinks he faces stiff competition from Charlie Crist, who helped deliver Florida and specifically the Tampa area to McCain), he’ll side with McCain on every dispute and use his most biting humor against Romney. The downside: an over-the-top performance may leave voters with a bitter taste in their mouths. (At 52 years old, he too may be thinking of future political runs.)

My guesses: “That badly” on #2 and 3.

How badly does Mitt Romney want to be President? If he really does, he will throw everything he has at McCain– temperament, immigration, taxes, conservative unity, “cap and trade,” and robo-calls — in a final, last ditch charge, a political Pickett’s Charge, to slow the McCain march to the nomination. (You may recall who won that encounter.) The risk to Romney: he stirs a backlash, McCain appears to rise above it, and both McCain’s nomination and Romney’s reputation are sealed for the history books. (Consider also that Romney is only 60 years old and might have other races in his future.)

How badly does John McCain want to be President? If he really does, he will show no trace of annoyance and no anger when Romney tries to get under his skin. If challenged on the latest flap over Romney’s alleged support for a timetable for withdrawal in Iraq, he will repeat in measured terms that he supported the surge and risked his nomination, but Romney played it coy until the surge was succeeding. As to all charges of disloyalty to the Republican party, he will simply invite the voters to compare their relative records of fidelity to conservative positions.

How badly does Mike Huckabee want to be Vice President? If he really does (and thinks he faces stiff competition from Charlie Crist, who helped deliver Florida and specifically the Tampa area to McCain), he’ll side with McCain on every dispute and use his most biting humor against Romney. The downside: an over-the-top performance may leave voters with a bitter taste in their mouths. (At 52 years old, he too may be thinking of future political runs.)

My guesses: “That badly” on #2 and 3.

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McCain Wins

Fox calls it. Mike Huckabee on Fox didn’t sound like he was hanging it up quite yet.

Fox calls it. Mike Huckabee on Fox didn’t sound like he was hanging it up quite yet.

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Ridiculous Early Analysis

If the Florida results remain as close as the exit polls make it appear, nothing is going to be resolved tonight on the Republican side with the frontrunners. If John McCain wins it by a point or two, he gets all the delegates and the headlines that he is the winner of Florida — which helps going into Super Tuesday. But Mitt Romney has no reason to back off, even though he will have lost four of the five real contests so far. He’s worked successfully now to establish himself as the McCain alternative, and there appears to be enough anger and suspicion of McCain among Republicans to make a Romney win plausible if McCain does something to injure himself.

And if Romney wins by a point or two, McCain just keeps going the same way he has. We’re going into a 21-state vote a week from now, and Romney’s money isn’t going to help him much because even he doesn’t have enough to flood the airwaves everywhere on his own behalf.
The question, now, is how long before Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee decide to drop out. Unless something extraordinary happens in the next two hours, Giuliani stands revealed as a strong candidate who made a clever and compelling effort to game the system and failed. And despite the idea that he was the Next Big Populist Thing, Huckabee can’t buy a non-Christian-identity vote.

What may help McCain is the prospect that Giuliani and Huckabee will both endorse him this week before Super Tuesday, which will allow McCain to argue that he is unifying the party by unifying his rivals behind him. If McCain could pull off getting Fred Thompson this week as well, he will have the best answer to the increasingly agitated conservative rage radiating toward him from the radio speakers and a browser near you.

If the Florida results remain as close as the exit polls make it appear, nothing is going to be resolved tonight on the Republican side with the frontrunners. If John McCain wins it by a point or two, he gets all the delegates and the headlines that he is the winner of Florida — which helps going into Super Tuesday. But Mitt Romney has no reason to back off, even though he will have lost four of the five real contests so far. He’s worked successfully now to establish himself as the McCain alternative, and there appears to be enough anger and suspicion of McCain among Republicans to make a Romney win plausible if McCain does something to injure himself.

And if Romney wins by a point or two, McCain just keeps going the same way he has. We’re going into a 21-state vote a week from now, and Romney’s money isn’t going to help him much because even he doesn’t have enough to flood the airwaves everywhere on his own behalf.
The question, now, is how long before Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee decide to drop out. Unless something extraordinary happens in the next two hours, Giuliani stands revealed as a strong candidate who made a clever and compelling effort to game the system and failed. And despite the idea that he was the Next Big Populist Thing, Huckabee can’t buy a non-Christian-identity vote.

What may help McCain is the prospect that Giuliani and Huckabee will both endorse him this week before Super Tuesday, which will allow McCain to argue that he is unifying the party by unifying his rivals behind him. If McCain could pull off getting Fred Thompson this week as well, he will have the best answer to the increasingly agitated conservative rage radiating toward him from the radio speakers and a browser near you.

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Sunday In Florida

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Mike Huckabee, who rushed to John McCain’s defense in the flap over Mitt Romney’s position on an Iraq withdrawal date and bashed Romney this morning, is in a head-to-head battle now with Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for the VP slot. A quick look at the Florida papers this morning shows that aside from the “Obama Clubs Hillary” stories, it is the Crist endorsement news that grabs the big headlines. The Miami Herald goes with that headline as well, and comments that by raising the Iraq timetable issue McCain “succeeded in putting his opponent on the defensive.” The St. Petersburg Times added its endorsement.

I would agree for reasons stated here that the Crist endorsement is very meaningful, even though many voters have already cast ballots. Whether warranted or not, the McCain team thinks their man has the momentum. Unfortunately for the poll-obsessed among us, polls at this stage may not shed much light on where the race is heading. As we saw with the weekend debate before New Hampshire’s primary and the Hillary big cry, the impact of significant news happenings a day or two before election day generally don’t show up in final polling.

Meanwhile, on the economic front, the Boston Globe offers up this piece on the realities of the turnaround efforts of Mitt Romney’s multi-billion-dollar firm Bain Capital, which unsurprisingly focused on profits and efficiency, not jobs. The story includes this John Edwards-esque comment from a Romney spokesman: “Governor Romney is not critical of companies that have to reduce their workforce in order to remain competitive. He is critical of Washington politicians who throw up their hands in despair and say there’s nothing we can do about it . . . Governor Romney can’t promise that he will bring back lost jobs, but he can guarantee that he will fight for every job.” Because “fighting” is what really matters, I suppose.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Mike Huckabee, who rushed to John McCain’s defense in the flap over Mitt Romney’s position on an Iraq withdrawal date and bashed Romney this morning, is in a head-to-head battle now with Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for the VP slot. A quick look at the Florida papers this morning shows that aside from the “Obama Clubs Hillary” stories, it is the Crist endorsement news that grabs the big headlines. The Miami Herald goes with that headline as well, and comments that by raising the Iraq timetable issue McCain “succeeded in putting his opponent on the defensive.” The St. Petersburg Times added its endorsement.

I would agree for reasons stated here that the Crist endorsement is very meaningful, even though many voters have already cast ballots. Whether warranted or not, the McCain team thinks their man has the momentum. Unfortunately for the poll-obsessed among us, polls at this stage may not shed much light on where the race is heading. As we saw with the weekend debate before New Hampshire’s primary and the Hillary big cry, the impact of significant news happenings a day or two before election day generally don’t show up in final polling.

Meanwhile, on the economic front, the Boston Globe offers up this piece on the realities of the turnaround efforts of Mitt Romney’s multi-billion-dollar firm Bain Capital, which unsurprisingly focused on profits and efficiency, not jobs. The story includes this John Edwards-esque comment from a Romney spokesman: “Governor Romney is not critical of companies that have to reduce their workforce in order to remain competitive. He is critical of Washington politicians who throw up their hands in despair and say there’s nothing we can do about it . . . Governor Romney can’t promise that he will bring back lost jobs, but he can guarantee that he will fight for every job.” Because “fighting” is what really matters, I suppose.

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The Tartuffe Award for the Evening…

…goes to Mike Huckabee, who has been running as a Christian identity-politics candidate. With great solemnity, he vowed he would never run away from his faith. Even if it made people uncomfortable. How…how…how noble. (I said something about the Clintons and Tartuffe during the Democratic firefight debate.)

…goes to Mike Huckabee, who has been running as a Christian identity-politics candidate. With great solemnity, he vowed he would never run away from his faith. Even if it made people uncomfortable. How…how…how noble. (I said something about the Clintons and Tartuffe during the Democratic firefight debate.)

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Sons?

Mike Huckabee just made the first terrible blunder of his time in these debates — bringing up Mitt Romney’s five sons and saying, effectively, that he should quit the campaign so he won’t spend their inheritance. Not funny, and maybe even a weird bank shot against Romney’s Mormonism. Fair is fair. Maybe Romney should mention Huckabee’s son in the next debate.

Mike Huckabee just made the first terrible blunder of his time in these debates — bringing up Mitt Romney’s five sons and saying, effectively, that he should quit the campaign so he won’t spend their inheritance. Not funny, and maybe even a weird bank shot against Romney’s Mormonism. Fair is fair. Maybe Romney should mention Huckabee’s son in the next debate.

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Huckabee and Paul

Ron Paul loves to express his cockamamie ideas on monetary policy. Mike Huckabee loves to talk about his cockamamie fair-tax scheme. Maybe there should be a special All-Cockamamie Debate featuring just the two of them.

Ron Paul loves to express his cockamamie ideas on monetary policy. Mike Huckabee loves to talk about his cockamamie fair-tax scheme. Maybe there should be a special All-Cockamamie Debate featuring just the two of them.

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In Debate: A Master Class on the Economy

Jennifer, I have to disagree. The opening minutes of the GOP debate tonight makes me think that the Republican party is once again at the front in the battle of ideas, at least on economics. Mitt Romney talked about corporate tax rates and private sector incentives; John McCain talked about pork barrel spending and the size of government; Rudy Giuliani spoke about the largest tax cut in history; Mike Huckabee made the case for old-style \ industrial policy and infrastructure spending; and Ron Paul argued for a strong dollar, better monetary policy, and deregulation. Despite the courtly tone, these are very different, if somewhat overlapping, views about the economy. Yes, these are broad, two-minute answers, but the various views are worth debating. Can anyone tell the difference on economic policy among Obama, Clinton, and Edwards? Obama
dislikes Reaganomics, Clinton hates corporations, and Edwards will spend
more on the poor. But is there any policy debate there?

Jennifer, I have to disagree. The opening minutes of the GOP debate tonight makes me think that the Republican party is once again at the front in the battle of ideas, at least on economics. Mitt Romney talked about corporate tax rates and private sector incentives; John McCain talked about pork barrel spending and the size of government; Rudy Giuliani spoke about the largest tax cut in history; Mike Huckabee made the case for old-style \ industrial policy and infrastructure spending; and Ron Paul argued for a strong dollar, better monetary policy, and deregulation. Despite the courtly tone, these are very different, if somewhat overlapping, views about the economy. Yes, these are broad, two-minute answers, but the various views are worth debating. Can anyone tell the difference on economic policy among Obama, Clinton, and Edwards? Obama
dislikes Reaganomics, Clinton hates corporations, and Edwards will spend
more on the poor. But is there any policy debate there?

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What Hath Talk Radio Wrought?

Michael Medved, the polymathic conservative writer, has worked for the past dozen years as a radio talk-show host. Unlike many of his fellow conservative talk-show hosts, he has not spent the past year and a half in a toxic rage against immigration. Nor has he concluded that John McCain represents a dagger aimed at the heart of the Right.

In a brave post on his blog, Medved posits that McCain’s victory in South Carolina (along with the strong showing of Mike Huckabee) represents a threat not to conservatism but rather to the viability and influence of talk radio, and that the wound is self-inflicted:

For more than a month, the leading conservative talkers in the country have broadcast identical messages in an effort to demonize Mike Huckabee and John McCain. If you’ve tuned in at all to Rush, Sean, Savage, Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager, and two dozen others you’ve heard a consistent drum beat of hostility toward Mac and Huck.

As always, led by Rush Limbaugh (who because of talent and seniority continues to dominate the medium) the talk radio herd has ridden in precisely the same direction, insisting that McCain and Huckabee deserve no support because they’re not “real conservatives.”

A month ago, the angry right launched the slogan that Mike Huckabee is a “pro-life liberal.” More recently, after McCain’s energizing victory in New Hampshire, they trotted out the mantra that the Arizona Senator (with a lifetime rating for his Congressional voting record of 83 percent from the American Conservative Union) is a “pro-war liberal.”

Well, the two alleged “liberals,” McCain and Huckabee, just swept a total of 63 percent of the Republican vote in deeply conservative South Carolina. Meanwhile, the two darlings of talk radio — Mitt Romney and, to a lesser extent, Fred Thompson—combined for an anemic 31 percent of the vote….In other words, even among the most right wing segment of the South Carolina electorate, talk radio failed – and failed miserably – in efforts to destroy and discredit Huckabee and McCain.

As the campaign moves forward, my colleagues in talk radio (along with program directors, general managers, advertisers and the other segments of our industry) ought to reconsider the one-sided, embittered negativity toward two of our four surviving candidates for President….

South Carolina demonstrates the utter ineffectiveness of concerted efforts by the conservative media elite to derail the campaigns of two popular candidates. Continued efforts in that direction will prove no more effective, and will hurt both our industry and the Republican Party.

In other words, the talk radio jihad against Mac and Huck hasn’t destroyed or even visibly damaged those candidates. But it has damaged, and may help destroy, talk radio.

Michael Medved, the polymathic conservative writer, has worked for the past dozen years as a radio talk-show host. Unlike many of his fellow conservative talk-show hosts, he has not spent the past year and a half in a toxic rage against immigration. Nor has he concluded that John McCain represents a dagger aimed at the heart of the Right.

In a brave post on his blog, Medved posits that McCain’s victory in South Carolina (along with the strong showing of Mike Huckabee) represents a threat not to conservatism but rather to the viability and influence of talk radio, and that the wound is self-inflicted:

For more than a month, the leading conservative talkers in the country have broadcast identical messages in an effort to demonize Mike Huckabee and John McCain. If you’ve tuned in at all to Rush, Sean, Savage, Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager, and two dozen others you’ve heard a consistent drum beat of hostility toward Mac and Huck.

As always, led by Rush Limbaugh (who because of talent and seniority continues to dominate the medium) the talk radio herd has ridden in precisely the same direction, insisting that McCain and Huckabee deserve no support because they’re not “real conservatives.”

A month ago, the angry right launched the slogan that Mike Huckabee is a “pro-life liberal.” More recently, after McCain’s energizing victory in New Hampshire, they trotted out the mantra that the Arizona Senator (with a lifetime rating for his Congressional voting record of 83 percent from the American Conservative Union) is a “pro-war liberal.”

Well, the two alleged “liberals,” McCain and Huckabee, just swept a total of 63 percent of the Republican vote in deeply conservative South Carolina. Meanwhile, the two darlings of talk radio — Mitt Romney and, to a lesser extent, Fred Thompson—combined for an anemic 31 percent of the vote….In other words, even among the most right wing segment of the South Carolina electorate, talk radio failed – and failed miserably – in efforts to destroy and discredit Huckabee and McCain.

As the campaign moves forward, my colleagues in talk radio (along with program directors, general managers, advertisers and the other segments of our industry) ought to reconsider the one-sided, embittered negativity toward two of our four surviving candidates for President….

South Carolina demonstrates the utter ineffectiveness of concerted efforts by the conservative media elite to derail the campaigns of two popular candidates. Continued efforts in that direction will prove no more effective, and will hurt both our industry and the Republican Party.

In other words, the talk radio jihad against Mac and Huck hasn’t destroyed or even visibly damaged those candidates. But it has damaged, and may help destroy, talk radio.

Read Less

McCain and Giuliani: Now They Must Fight

In eight days, the Florida primary will either a) bring new life to Rudy Giuliani’s dying campaign, b) become a crucial victory in John McCain’s now-relentless march to the nomination, or c) muddy the muddiest political picture in the GOP’s history still further by handing an unexpected win to Mitt Romney or even Mike Huckabee.

Choices A and B are antagonisms. Giuliani can only win Florida by doing exceptionally well among voters who might otherwise choose McCain. The reverse is true as well. McCain’s rise has been fueled state by state and nationally by the energy that has drained out of the Giuliani candidacy. That needs to continue in Florida.

The candidates and candidacies are going to have to go after each other. For the most part, during this very long year, they have refused to do so. They are fond of each other and they agree with each other on a host of issues. But that was then and this is now. This morning, over e-mail, came a blast from Giuliani’s press shop:

JOHN MCCAIN: NOT A FI$CAL CONSERVATIVE

“Rudy Giuliani is the only fiscal conservative in the race and it’s easy to see why.  John McCain not only voted with the Democrats against the Bush tax cuts twice, he’s voted over 50 times for higher taxes. With a record like that, you can’t tell if John McCain will stand up to the Democrats in Washington who want to raise taxes or stand with them.” — Katie Levinson, Rudy Giuliani Communications Director

The document featured chapter and verse on McCain’s negative votes on tax cuts and his characterization of the Bush 2001 plan as coming at the expense of middle-class Americans.

The logic of the McCain and Giuliani candidacies has always pretty much been the same — a strong leader in the War on Terror who is able to secure the votes of independents. But with Giuliani’s political life on the line, he has no choice but to try to uncouple McCain’s recent converts from the Arizona Republican and send them back Rudy’s way. And McCain will have no choice but to respond — and given the aggressive tone of the Giuliani hit this morning, McCain will surely give as good as he got.

Thus do political friendships collide with political reality.

In eight days, the Florida primary will either a) bring new life to Rudy Giuliani’s dying campaign, b) become a crucial victory in John McCain’s now-relentless march to the nomination, or c) muddy the muddiest political picture in the GOP’s history still further by handing an unexpected win to Mitt Romney or even Mike Huckabee.

Choices A and B are antagonisms. Giuliani can only win Florida by doing exceptionally well among voters who might otherwise choose McCain. The reverse is true as well. McCain’s rise has been fueled state by state and nationally by the energy that has drained out of the Giuliani candidacy. That needs to continue in Florida.

The candidates and candidacies are going to have to go after each other. For the most part, during this very long year, they have refused to do so. They are fond of each other and they agree with each other on a host of issues. But that was then and this is now. This morning, over e-mail, came a blast from Giuliani’s press shop:

JOHN MCCAIN: NOT A FI$CAL CONSERVATIVE

“Rudy Giuliani is the only fiscal conservative in the race and it’s easy to see why.  John McCain not only voted with the Democrats against the Bush tax cuts twice, he’s voted over 50 times for higher taxes. With a record like that, you can’t tell if John McCain will stand up to the Democrats in Washington who want to raise taxes or stand with them.” — Katie Levinson, Rudy Giuliani Communications Director

The document featured chapter and verse on McCain’s negative votes on tax cuts and his characterization of the Bush 2001 plan as coming at the expense of middle-class Americans.

The logic of the McCain and Giuliani candidacies has always pretty much been the same — a strong leader in the War on Terror who is able to secure the votes of independents. But with Giuliani’s political life on the line, he has no choice but to try to uncouple McCain’s recent converts from the Arizona Republican and send them back Rudy’s way. And McCain will have no choice but to respond — and given the aggressive tone of the Giuliani hit this morning, McCain will surely give as good as he got.

Thus do political friendships collide with political reality.

Read Less




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