Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Finally, a Two-Man Race

After Florida, it's a two-man race even though Mike Huckabee will stay in to hold social conservative voters from moving to Mitt Romney.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, I think this will actually work to Romney's advantage. Conservatives will move toward him while the latently and blatantly anti-Mormon primary voters will stay with Huckabee. This only serves to disperse the anti-Romney vote, thereby robbing McCain of possible wins in the South.

Now we’ll get to see if Sen. McCain has any more new “hits” in him.


A Top 10 List…

  1. Defending His Amnesty Bill, Sen. McCain Lost His Temper And “Screamed, ‘F*ck You!’ At Texas Sen. John Cornyn” (R-TX). “Presidential hopeful John McCain - who has been dogged for years by questions about his volcanic temper - erupted in an angry, profanity-laced tirade at a fellow Republican senator, sources told The Post yesterday. In a heated dispute over immigration-law overhaul, McCain screamed, ‘F— you!’ at Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who had been raising concerns about the legislation. ‘This is chickens—stuff,’ McCain snapped at Cornyn, according to several people in the room off the Senate floor Thursday. ‘You’ve always been against this bill, and you’re just trying to derail it.’” (Charles Hurt, “Raising McCain,” New York Post, 5/19/07)
  2. In 2000, Sen. McCain Ran An Attack Ad Comparing Then-Gov. George W. Bush To Bill Clinton. SEN. MCCAIN: “I guess it was bound to happen. Governor Bush’s campaign is getting desperate, with a negative ad about me. The fact is, I’ll use the surplus money to fix Social Security, cut your taxes and pay down the debt. Governor Bush uses all of the surplus for tax cuts, with not one new penny for Social Security or the debt. His ad twists the truth like Clinton. We’re all pretty tired of that. As president, I’ll be conservative and always tell you the truth. No matter what.” (McCain 2000, Campaign Ad, 2/9/00; www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHoXkCprdL4)
  3. Sen. McCain Repeatedly Called Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) An “A**hole”, Causing A Fellow GOP Senator To Say, “I Didn’t Want This Guy Anywhere Near A Trigger.” “Why can’t McCain win the votes of his own colleagues? To explain, a Republican senator tells this story: at a GOP meeting last fall, McCain erupted out of the blue at the respected Budget Committee chairman, Pete Domenici, saying, ‘Only an a–hole would put together a budget like this.’ Offended, Domenici stood up and gave a dignified, restrained speech about how in all his years in the Senate, through many heated debates, no one had ever called him that. Another senator might have taken the moment to check his temper. But McCain went on: ‘I wouldn’t call you an a–hole unless you really were an a–hole.’ The Republican senator witnessing the scene had considered supporting McCain for president, but changed his mind. ‘I decided,’ the senator told Newsweek, ‘I didn’t want this guy anywhere near a trigger.’” (Evan Thomas, et al., “Senator Hothead,” Newsweek, 2/21/00)
  4. Sen. McCain Had A Heated Exchange With Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) And Called Him A “F*cking Jerk.” “Senators are not used to having their intelligence or integrity challenged by another senator. ‘Are you calling me stupid?’ Sen. Chuck Grassley once inquired during a debate with McCain over the fate of the Vietnam MIAs, according to a source who was present. ‘No,’ replied McCain, ‘I’m calling you a f—ing jerk!’ (Grassley and McCain had no comment.)” (Evan Thomas, et al., “Senator Hothead,” Newsweek, 2/21/00)
  5. In 1995, Sen. McCain Had A “Scuffle” With 92-Year-Old Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC) On The Senate Floor. “In January 1995, McCain was midway through an opening statement at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing when chairman Strom Thurmond asked, ‘Is the senator about through?’ McCain glared at Thurmond, thanked him for his ‘courtesy’ (translation: buzz off), and continued on. McCain later confronted Thurmond on the Senate floor. A scuffle ensued, and the two didn’t part friends.” (Harry Jaffe, “Senator Hothead,” The Washingtonian, 2/97)
  6. Sen. McCain Accused Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Of The “Most Egregious Incident” Of Corruption He Had Seen In The Senate. “It escalated when McCain reiterated the charges Oct. 10 in a cross-examination, calling McConnell’s actions the ‘most egregious incident’ demonstrating the appearance of corruption he has ever seen in his Senate career.” (Amy Keller, “Attacks Escalate In Depositions,” Roll Call, 10/21/02)
  7. Sen. McCain Attacked Christian Leaders And Republicans In A Blistering Speech During The 2000 Campaign. MCCAIN: “Unfortunately, Governor Bush is a Pat Robertson Republican who will lose to Al Gore. … The political tactics of division and slander are not our values… They are corrupting influences on religion and politics, and those who practice them in the name of religion or in the name of the Republican Party or in the name of America shame our faith, our party and our country. Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.” (Sen. John McCain, Remarks, Virginia Beach, VA, 2/28/00)
  8. Sen. McCain Attacked Vice President Cheney. MCCAIN: “The president listened too much to the Vice President . . . Of course, the president bears the ultimate responsibility, but he was very badly served by both the Vice President and, most of all, the Secretary of Defense.” (Roger Simon, “McCain Bashes Cheney Over Iraq Policy,” The Politico, 1/24/07)
  9. Celebrating His First Senate Election In 1986, Sen. McCain Screamed At And Harassed A Young Republican Volunteer. “It was election night 1986, and John McCain had just been elected to the U.S. Senate for the first time. Even so, he was not in a good mood. McCain was yelling at the top of his lungs and poking the chest of a young Republican volunteer who had set up a lectern that was too tall for the 5-foot-9 politician to be seen to advantage, according to a witness to the outburst. ‘Here this poor guy is thinking he has done a good job, and he gets a new butt ripped because McCain didn’t look good on television,’ Jon Hinz told a reporter Thursday. At the time, Hinz was executive director of the Arizona Republican Party. … Hinz said McCain’s treatment of the young campaign worker in 1986 troubled him for years. ‘There were an awful lot of people in the room,’ Hinz recalled. ‘You’d have to stick cotton in your ears not to hear it. He (McCain) was screaming at him, and he was red in the face. It wasn’t right, and I was very upset at him.’” (Kris Mayes and Charles Kelly, “Stories Surface On Senator’s Demeanor,” The Arizona Republic, 11/5/99)
  10. Sen. McCain “Publicly Abused” Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL). “[McCain] noted his propensity for passion but insisted that he doesn’t ‘insult anybody or fly off the handle or anything like that.’ This is, quite simply, hogwash. McCain often insults people and flies off the handle…. There have been the many times McCain has called reporters ‘liars’ and ‘idiots’ when they have had the audacity to ask him unpleasant, but pertinent, questions. McCain once… publicly abused Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama.” (Editorial, “There’s Something About McCain,” The Austin American-Statesman, 1/24/07)

My Question for the Republican Presidential Candidates Debate on January 30th

Take a look at Politico.com's site to submit a question for the Wednesday, January 30, 2008 Republican Debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. I offered the following question to be asked of Sen. John McCain:

You have labeled Gov. Romney a flip-flopper. It's true that Gov. Romney was effectively pro-choice until a few years ago while you have a perfect pro-life voting record in Congress. Gov. Romney has specifically repudiated his prior abortion position and has characterized his position as “wrong” and detailed why he has moved to the pro-life side. On the issues that you have flip-flopped on, namely the Bush Tax Cuts, the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill and forswearing vicious negative attacks on your opponent, in what ways were you wrong?

Monday, January 28, 2008

ENDORSEMENT: Vote Mitt Romney in GOP Primaries and Caucuses

I’ve gone and done it. I dropped my vote-by-mail ballot in the mailbox along with my wife’s ballot. In the Arizona Republican Presidential Preference Primary set for Tuesday, February 5, 2008, my ballot was proudly marked for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

The reasons I voted for Mitt Romney are many:

  • National Security is the #1 vote-determining issue for me and Mitt Romney takes the jihadist threat seriously. I trust him to take command of the War on Terror from President Bush. He “gets” the threat from Iran and I believe he will ensure that the necessary support for democracy and free market development in the Middle East (and around the world) continues.
  • Economics is my secondary concern when deciding who to vote for. Mitt Romney knows the economy and knows how jobs and wealth are created. We’ve often hear about “running government like a business” from citizens frustrated by the waste, fraud and abuse that is endemic to big government. Instead of headline-grabbing opposition to $2-million-Museum-of-Fudge-type earmarks, Mitt Romney is the kind of serious financial expert that can tackle our runaway entitlements. We need to fix Social Security and Mitt Romney has the “turnaround” experience to accomplish what President Bush could only raise as an issue.
  • Culture of Life issues are very important to the future of this country and the Republican Party. Regardless of his prior stance on abortion, Mitt Romney has governed as a pro-life leader. He has not only changed his position to pro-life, he has a powerful testimony of how his evolution on this issue occurred. Pro-lifers need to recognize that in order to "win" on this issue, we are going to have to attract converts. Who better to lead as president on this effort than someone who has made that move and is willing to intelligently talk about his views on life issues. He has also been a leader on marriage and his personal story is a textbook case of "walking the talk" on family values (unlike many members of the GOP leadership over the years).
  • Mitt Romney is probably one of the most intelligent people to have ever run for the office. In Massachusetts parlance, he’s “"WikidSmaht” earning an MBA and JD simultaneously from Harvard. He saved the scandal-plagued 2002 Winter Olympics Games, turning a $379 million deficit into a $56 million surplus. Unlike some who were born into wealth or married it, Mitt Romney used his keen intellect to build businesses and save enterprises. He was rightfully well-paid for these extraordinary feats. God bless him for his success and any good free market conservative would have absolutely no problem with the size of his fortune. To the contrary, his earned wealth should work to his favor as evidence that he is someone you can trust with the awesome power of the federal government has over our economy.
  • During the campaign to date, he has also proven himself a superb candidate able to engage in tight debate argument and has the real skill of being well-grounded in all aspects of domestic and foreign policy with the ability to communicate his message.
  • Lastly, I believe 2008 will be an election remembered as one reflecting a mood of change. A Washington politician will not be successful in presenting a winning “change” option to voters this fall. Mitt Romney is not of Washington and is not captive of Washington-think.

There are many other reasons to support Romney (e.g., appointment of judges/justices, ANWR drilling, pro-growth tax policy, health care reform, etc.) but the above should give any conservative Republican more than enough reason to support him.

When I first started thinking about the 2008 race a couple years back, Mitt Romney was my second choice behind former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Since Jeb Bush announced he wouldn’t run, I easily gravitated toward Romney back in 2006. Since then he has done nothing to cause me to regret supporting him, including my support financially.

If you are voting in Florida on Tuesday, on Super Tuesday on February 5th or later, I urge you to visit Mitt Romney’s website and find out why the conservative choice in GOP primaries and caucuses is Mitt Romney.

Friday, January 25, 2008

YEAR OF ROME: Sketches of 92 That "Wore the Purple" A Great Value

The Roman Emperors: A Biographical Guide to the Rulers of Imperial Rome, 31 B.C. - A.D. 476” by Michael Grant is a treasure trove of information about the scores of men that held the “office” of Roman emperor. What’s fascinating about reading the 500-to-2,500-word biographical sketches is the dismal survival rates of these poor schlubs. The vast majority of them suffered unnatural deaths, most murdered by their own troops or family members! The variety of the ways Roman Emperors died is exhaustive including one that very well might have been struck by lightning (Carus in A.D. 283.) The most remarkable period for such happenings was the middle of the 3rd Century when rival emperors, secessionists and usurpers abound. Practically all ended up the victim of his successors.

It’s not all death and intrigue in Grant’s indispensable reference book, but a lot of it is. This book is ending up to be a key resource for my “Year of Rome”. Grant’s book can be found in the bargain shelves at most Barnes and Noble booksellers. If you want an inexpensive and authoritative look at these important man nearly lost to history pick this one up.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

2008 Arizona Republican Presidential Primary Ballot

I just recieved my 2008 Arizona Republican Presidential Primary Ballot in the mail today. Take a look at it here (click on it for a larger image):
For the record, here is how I have voted in past presidntial primaries and general elections:

2004 Presidential Election: George W. Bush (Arizona)
2004 Presidential Primary: No Arizona Primary
2000 Presidential Election: George W. Bush (Arizona)
2000 Presidential Primary: George W. Bush (Arizona)
1996 Presidential Election: Robert Dole (Arizona)
1996 Presidential Primary: Steve Forbes (Arizona)
1992 Presidential Election: George H. W. Bush (Virginia)
1992 Presidential Primary: George H. W. Bush (Virginia)
1988 Presidential Election: George H. W. Bush (Vermont)
1988 Presidential Primary: Jack Kemp (Vermont)

This year, I'm sending in my primary ballot with Mitt Romney's name selected as my vote.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Michigan Delivers! On to Nevada (O.K., South Carolina, too)!

Maybe Mitt Romney should really start thinking about dropping out of the race now! No gloating. Nevada is his next "golden" opportunity. He's got shot at a bronze in South Carolina, maybe even a silver is possible. There is only one ticket out of South Carolina among McCain, Huckabee and Thompson. The winner there challenges Mitt and Rudy in Florida and maybe on Super Duper Tuesday.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Michigan Republicans Support Mitt Romney, Liberals Support McCain

My prognostication skills have proven uneven at best. I’m still a Romney booster. If fact, the more I learn about Huckabee’s politics and the more I’m reminded of McCain’s record, the more I’m committed to supporting Mitt Romney. I have warmed up considerably to Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani as candidates.

The only prediction I will make about the Michigan Primary is that Mitt Romney will soundly defeat McCain among Republican primary voters. McCain will win the liberal vote and depending on how many of them vote in the GOP primary, he may end up “winning” the Republican primary. Why that result would force Romney out of the race escapes me. This is a Republican nominating process, isn’t it? We should not allow liberal mischief force good conservative candidates out of the race while they raise non-conservative candidates to the top.

Go Mitt.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

CRITIQUE & REVIEW: "Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician" by Anthony Everitt

2008 is the “Year of Rome” on Willet Creek Dam. I’m focusing a lot of my personal reading and free time getting to know more about the ancient Roman world. The first installment of the “Year of Rome” is a short review of “Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician” by Anthony Everitt.

Marcus Tullius Cicero is a special case among famous Romans, especially during the chaotic Civil War period that saw the end of the Roman Republic in the 1st Century B.C. He was an influential politician who at times was considered powerful, even though he was never considered a military man and did not have legions backing up his efforts like every other significant Roman leader of the age.

As you can imagine, such a toothless portfolio doomed Cicero to eventual defeat and an early death. But his unique run of success was long and eventful. Because he made his mark mostly as an advocate in the Roman Forum and in the Senate, he was often put in the position of debating the key issues of the day. He was so accomplished at his oratorical and writing skills that even though he was not a “victor,” he did in many ways write the history of the era that saw Julius Caesar put the Republic down and Octavian raise up the Empire.

Everitt’s book is a well-written account that is accessible to the novice Roman history reader like me. I recommend his book to anyone who would like a quick and easy introduction to this era of Roman history.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Romney's Still the Man to Beat in GOP Race

Wow, the Obama Tsunami dissipated short of the New Hampshire shore. The Clinton machine will now endeavor to burn him down. It won't be pretty.

On the Republican side, what would you call the candidate that has won the highest number of delegates and the highest number of votes to date among the Republican presidential candidates? A sure loser, of course!

According to CNN’s analysis, here is how the delegate count looks after New Hampshire:

30 - Mitt Romney (24 pledged and 6 RNC)
21 - Mike Huckabee (18 pledged and 3 RNC)
10 - John McCain (10 pledged and 0 RNC)
6 - Fred Thompson (6 pledged and 0 RNC)
2 - Ron Paul (2 pledged and 0 RNC)
1 - Rudy Giuliani (0 pledged and 1 RNC)
1 - Duncan Hunter (1 pledged and 0 RNC)

All the pundits, the same that predicted a big Obama New Hampshire win, keep saying Romney is done if he doesn’t win this race or another and keeps coming in second. That would be true in a Gore-vs.-Bradley-2000-like campaign. In that race, it was a zero-sum game. One candidate would “win” and the other would “lose.” But a round-robin series of anti-Romney candidates “winning” only allows the only truly national candidate to continue to keep his lead in overall primary and caucus votes and more importantly, delegate counts.

Say Mitt comes in second in Michigan. Who will be the delegate leader after that race? Romney still.

The pundits should drop the “Romney must win all early contests to beat Giuliani in Florida and on Super Tuesday” path to victory meme? They refuse to rethink the campaign and continue to call Romney a loser. But he’s still in the best position to win the nomination. Who’s in a better position organizationally, financially and politically? Aren’t the pundits implicitly saying Rudy’s strategy is still working by holding Romney to his initial early contest plan? If not, what is the new theory of the campaign?

I’ll say it again, Romney can hijack Rudy’s strategy, especially in a compressed contest calendar where campaigns can’t score and spend significant cash infusions in time to move the neddle. The self-financed Romney can compete nationally, the others (McCain and Huckabee) can’t.

On to Michigan. Romney’s birthplace. Let’s see how a week of Rush Limbaugh teeing off on John McCain can do to the Straight Talker.

Monday, January 07, 2008

CRYSTAL BALL: Obama Tsunami Upends Hillary, Mitt & McCain Neck & Neck

How big will Obama's New Hampshire win over Hillary be? I say, at least 20%.

I'll use a little history to help handicap the 2008 New Hampshire Primaries. First, let’s look at the Obama-Clinton race.

The conventional wisdom says Obama beats Hillary with the only question being by how much. A good way to determine how badly Hillary can lose and still recover is to look at the 1984 Democratic primary between establishment candidate former Vice President Walter Mondale and upstart Sen. Gary Hart. Hart road a wave of “New Ideas” to a 37.3% to 27.9% win over the eventual nominee, a 9.4% margin. In more recent memory, the 2000 Republican contest had upstart Sen. John McCain’s “Straight Talk Express” rolling up a 48.5% to 30.4% drubbing of establishment favorite Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the eventual nominee. That’s an 18.1% margin. This history proves that a big loss in the Granite State is not fatal to an establishment candidate. If Hillary can keep Obama’s victory to within that 9% to 18% range, she can recover. However, a 20% spanking or even a monumental blowout of 25% or more may make the 3rd Clinton Term Project all over except for the crying ;-).

The Republican contest is between the 2000 N.H. primary winner Sen. John McCain and the former governor of neighboring Massachusetts Mitt Romney. Romney led in New Hampshire from May through December 2007, polling between 27% and 32% most of the time. However, though Romney has held his support level, he’s behind in the late pre-primary polls because of Rudy Giuliani’s collapse and Fred Thompson’s evaporation. Their supporters have coalesced around the McCain campaign enough to vault him into the top spot. A close second place showing by Romney is not fatal much like Bob Dole’s loss to Pat Buchanan (27.2% to 26.2%) didn’t mean he wouldn’t eventually capture of the 1996 nomination.

The “x” factor in both Republican and Democratic primaries is the level of Independents voting in their primary. In 2000, according to CNN exit polls, 41% of all voters in the Republican primary were Independents. McCain creamed Bush at a better than 3-to-1 clip, 62% to 19%, with Independents. The 4% of GOP primary voters that were Democrats passing on the Gore/Bradley yawner broke for McCain by a ridiculous 6-to-1 margin, 78% to Bush’s 13%. Bush actually did win among the 53% of Republicans voting in the GOP primary, 41% to McCain’s 38%. Will a similar 45% of 2008 GOP primary voters be Independents and Democrats? I suspect many of these voters won’t pass up the chance to vote for the charismatic and history-making campaign of Barack Obama.

PREDICTION: Independents come out big for the Democratic primary and for Obama. Hillary comes in second to Obama by more than 20%. Edwards will finish much closer to Hillary than Hillary to Obama. McCain and Romney will be in a close battle that’ll be decided by the number of non-Republicans that vote in the Republican primary. My heart says Mitt beats McCain in a close contest, my head says he losses by 3% or less and lives to fight another day (actually, in next Tuesday’s Michigan Primary on January 15th.) That clown Ron Paul again beats Rudy Giuliani and in doing so, ensures that Romney remains half of the mythical two-man race. The only question will be if McCain, rather than Rudy, can be the other half of that tandem. It’s crisis time for Team Rudy and the media will begin to focus on his demise rather than Romney’s.

Friday, January 04, 2008

First Blush Analysis of the Iowa Results

I seem to be a better prognosticator of Democratic politics than of the GOP’s. I’m too close the Republican passions I suspect. Here’s my early take on tonight’s results:

The Democrats

OBAMA: Barack Obama’s for real. FOX News’ Juan Williams is right: Obama’s victory is historic. He clearly won the white vote in monochrome Iowa and looks to rack up overwhelming African-American majorities in future primaries. I see him winning New Hampshire because 5 days is not enough time for Hillary’s goons to effectively smear him. It will be interesting to see how the press handles this victory. Do they go after him because he’s the new frontrunner? Do they try to finish off Hillary first? A lot rides on the answer to those questions.

Obama’s speech tonight was great and inspirational. He really is following a Reagan approach to this campaign. While his opponents seem like venal politicians, he’s above the fray, majestic, a man of destiny. Not bad if you can pull it off. The speech was to the nation not just Democrats or Iowans and perfect pitch. He looked very presidential, however, minus the experience and a little more gray hair.

I believe when Obama got into this race he figured he wouldn’t get the presidential nomination, maybe veep. It’d be a shakedown cruise to build an organization for many future campaigns. After all, he’s got 5 or 6 more presidential cycles to run in. Any fair measure of his resume in 2008 reveals that his experience is light in areas. I figured he’d be practically unstoppable in 2012 or 2016 with a couple Senate terms under his belt and some legislative achievements, maybe a high profile Cabinet post or governorship. Surprisingly, it looks like he just might win the nomination this go around.

However, a 2008 nomination might be too early in his career for general election success. The inexperience factor makes him more beatable by the Republicans this year. Interestingly, he looks like a candidate that could come up short in 2008, hold the party leadership after his defeat and get re-nominated in 2012. Unless Condoleezza Rice beats him to it, Obama will be the first African-American president or vice president.

CLINTON: Now we get to see if Hillary Clinton is a bleeder. She has never had to demonstrate the kind of resilience, toughness and adaptability that’ll be necessary to stage a comeback. We’ll see if she has it in her character to recover. I suspect she’ll lash out at the media, voters, campaign workers, Bill, Obama, you name it. If Buddy the focus-grouped dog were still around, she’d kick him tonight. Her campaign infighting and finger-pointing will be interesting to watch too. Chances are that she will recover and win the nomination but the inevitability talk is over.

EDWARDS: Edwards gets to hang around and menace the two frontrunners for a few more weeks. The big question is how will Edwards approach his opponents going forward? Will he pile on Hillary in order to knee-cap her and end the Clinton presidential dynasty? Or does he still see himself as fighting Obama to be the un-Hillary alternative? Obama really would love to see the Edwards shark take a bite out of hemorrhaging Hillary. If he does, the nomination will likely go to Obama. Maybe an Obama-Edwards ticket?

ALSO-RAN DEMOCRATS: None of the other Democratic candidates are of any consequence outside of endorsing one of the surviving three. And that only matters if Obama is able to run the table on the endorsements and embarrass Hillary.

The Republicans

HUCKABEE: The more I listen to Huckabee speak the more envy-laden, statist and un-Republican class warfare rhetoric I hear. Don’t get me started on his Carteresque foreign policy tripe. The Iowa caucus-goer was the perfect audience for his message and likely represents his high water mark of support. The media will continue to promote him for the chaos he creates hoping the longer he’s viable, the deeper and more permanent the divisions become within the Reagan coalition. Moreover, he’s an easier candidate for the Democrats to defeat in November if, against all odds, he actually ends up winning the GOP nomination. He has no future as a winning presidential candidate and should drop out of the race in time (March 10th, I think) to file for the U.S. Senate seat that is very winnable in his home state.

ROMNEY: Romney came in 2nd in Iowa and underperformed expectations. Traditionally, such a setback means fundraising dries up and candidates seriously start thinking about exit strategies. But this scenario isn’t an easy fit for Romney’s campaign. If he’s willing to continue to spend his own enormous personal fortune on the race, he can push through this rough spot. After all, it’s not like there is a real frontrunner waiting to put the race away. When all this is concluded, we may see Romney even try to adopt a modified version of Giuliani’s February 5th strategy. He has the resources. The Democrats and their allies in the media fear Romney’s Bush-free curriculum vitae, razor-sharp intellect and potential to unify the Reagan coalition. I suspect Romney will be savaged by the media and all of the other candidates over the next month. If he can withstand the onslaught, he will emerge stronger and be ready to win in November. Regardless, even with a New Hampshire loss (a close one, well under 10 points, not a blowout), I still see this as a 2-man race: Romney vs. Giuliani or McCain.

THOMPSON: If Thompson holds onto a 3rd place showing in Iowa, good for him (though he’ll remain a footnote in the history of the 2008 campaign.) He could have the most impact on the nomination by bowing out now in favor of his buddy McCain. The problem with this scenario is that New Hampshire is only 5 days away. Fred probably won’t see himself as a hopeless loser just yet. McCain will have to earn a New Hampshire victory without an assist from a Fred endorsement. Like Edwards, the question is who does Thompson attack Rudy, Huckabee, McCain or Romney?

MCCAIN: It was a good night for the Arizona Straight-Talker. If he would have only bested Thompson by a few points maybe he could have wrung an endorsement out of a dejected Tennessean in time to help beat Romney in New Hampshire. It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, Fred dropping out before NH. He must win NH to continue his campaign. McCain has the opposite money situation as Romney. He’s already in debt and recently took out a $3 million loan. He can’t even entertain holding on through February 5th without some major success soon. The question for McCain is how nasty do his attacks on Romney get over the next few days? Does he look like a mean old man in doing it?

GIULIANI: The wait-for-the-big-states gambit will probably prove to be a loser for Giuliani. Huckabee’s win helps the strategy on paper but a weak 6th place finish in Iowa is very alarming. Romney has born the brunt of the negative horserace commentary over the last month because Huckabee and McCain have come on strong and bumped Mitt from the top spot in their cherry-picked states. But Rudy is the one in real trouble. His other-than-Romney opponents have benefited from his implosion. Consider, Mitt won 25% of Iowa and has held that percentage in Iowa polls since May. Basically we learned that Romney hit his Iowa ceiling and stayed there. Romney’s been in the 20’s in New Hampshire since April and will score at least in the 20’s on primary day. Maybe he has a ceiling there too. In contrast, Rudy is in free-fall and needs to find a support level before he crashes through the floor. He needs to show up in New Hampshire or the story will shift from Romney’s second-time second-place woes to Rudy’s second-time single-digit catastrophe. Florida is a long way away.

PAUL: Yippee, 10% in Iowa. Good thing none of his campaign literature says the word “Republican” on it. He can continue to use it when he accepts the Libertarian Party’s nomination. He did it in 1988 and will do it again in 2008.

HUNTER: He should withdraw on Friday and endorse Romney like Tancredo did a week or so ago. He could be a future Secretary of Defense if he handles his exit with class and dignity.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

CRITIQUE & REVIEW: Kona the Star of "I Am Legend"

I liked I Am Legend more than the critics did. It takes a difficult and somewhat silly premise and does a good job of portraying the loneliness of “the last man on Earth.” I guess you might call it “a thinking man’s” zombie flick. Will Smith is good but the star of the film is Sam, played with depth and subtly by Kona, a very cute 4-year-old German Shepherd.

Look: 9

Story: 7

Acting: 7.5

Goal: 9

Intangibles: 8

Overall: 8

CRYSTAL BALL: Romney, Obama My Predictions for Iowa Winners

With the caveat that I’m an announced Mitt Romney supporter, here are my predictions for tonight’s Iowa Caucuses:


  1. Obama (by a surprisingly comfortable margin)
  2. Edwards (lives to fight – and inevitably die – another day)
  3. Clinton (crisis in Camp Clinton, wait for the finger-pointing, it’ll get ugly)


  1. Romney (narrow, kissing-your-sister-like “win”)
  2. Huckabee (high water mark, thank you for playing)
  3. Thompson (see Edwards comment above)
  4. McCain (could be 3rd over Thompson, they’ll be neck and neck for 3-4)
  5. Paul (juggernaut rolls on to Libertarian Party nomination)
  6. Giuliani (wow, taking on water, needs to over-perform in New Hampshire)