Friday, January 25, 2008

No new sale yet

Since Fred Thompson's sudden but not-at-this-point unpredictable exit from the Presidential campaign Tuesday, people have been asking me who I might endorse for the Republican nomination. A couple of people even took the time to ask me that question while I was vacationing this week at Harrah's (I heard the news about Fred's withdrawal right after getting out of the jacuzzi). I can understand why people might be curious what direction I might be leaning since some folks have been quite forward about where they are going. Some people have "changed planes" so quickly that it really makes one think they already had their second choice in mind.

Truman Bean of Tennesseans for Thompson endorsed Mitt Romney less than an hour after he broke the news of Fred's withdrawal. So fast was the Bean's declaration for Mitt that I wondered if Mitt weren't his second choice-or his initial first choice-all along. Romney was the initial choice of conservative Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, but like most of us she dropped what she was doing when Fred got in the race in order to back him. Now she says she will likely return to the Romney camp. Congressman Jimmy Duncan had originally backed Romney too, and that initial choice had led me to wonder what the grand old man of Tennessee conservatism was thinking at the time. Perhaps he saw that Romney was like the energizer bunny-he could keep going and going and going. John Duncan Jr. is someone I have a tremendous amount of respect for and his opinion has always carried a great deal of weight with me. I also know that prior to Fred's entry into the race, Mitt Romney had a great organization here in Tennessee and many of the pieces of that puzzle are still around. It ought to come as no surprise that the Romney apparatus is very quickly coming together again.

Other Thompson supporters are making a break for Fred's old personal friend John McCain. Fred himself was making fundraising calls for McCain six months ago, which makes one wonder if the rumors that Fred really wanted the Number Two spot might have something to them. There is a widespread belief among GOP insiders at this point that we are down to a "stop McCain" or a "stop Romney" campaign. McCain is being seen as the anti-Romney, but do McCain's people really have cause to try and trash Romney considering McCain's very spotty record on conservative issues?

The truth is that from a conservative perspective, there are real problems with both McCain and Romney. John McCain has a history of selling out conservatives on issues such as so-called "campaign finance reform" (something that Fred Thompson actually supported also), as well as on judicial filibusters. McCain's record on illegal immigration is so horrible that it makes Mike Huckabee look very appealing on that issue. It is true that John McCain has a lifetime 85 rating from the American Conservative Union, but that rating has taken a very significant hit in recent years because of McCain's terrible votes on issues that conservatives care about.

Mitt Romney has been trying to position himself as the candidate of conservatives since the campaign began. Mitt is the good Mormon who (as his wife rightly pointed out) is a faithful husband and it is hard to say his personal values aren't genuine. Yet the Romney who now tells us how he is pro-life and will appoint strict constructionist judges to the bench was telling the people of Massachusetts in 2002 how "pro-choice" he was and how he had no plans to pursue a conservative agenda while in office-and he did not. The Romney we now hear sounds completely different than the Romney of even three years ago. When the current Mitt Romney speaks, you really want to believe the man. It sounds so grand, and when he talks he sounds like the most conservative man in the field, but his recent past actions tell another tale. Either he was being dishonest to the people of Massachusetts then (this is my theory), or he is being dishonest with Middle America now. It is possible that Mitt Romney has undergone a real Pauline-style see-the-light experience, but what seems more likely is that Romney underwent his conversion not on a "road to Damascus," but on the road to Des Moines.

Then there is Mike Huckabee. Like McCain and Romney, Huckabee presents conservatives with real issues, especially on the matters of immigration and taxes. He has made an attempt in recent weeks to come up with an immigration plan and even got the endorsement of the founder of the Minutemen. Mike Huckabee can't erase his past record either, and like McCain and Romney, Huckabee can only prove that he is authentic if we hold our noses and give him the opportunity to govern. One thing that I personally find palatable about Mike Huckabee is that we know without question that he is pro-life and will do his best to appoint judges who hold the necessary constitutional opinion that ultimately would reflect a pro-life worldview. He is also pro-Second Amendment and his administration is likely to reflect that view better than the present one. Aside from his spotty-to-poor record on other important matters, those good things are also overshadowed by the reality that Huckabee's numbers are not only the highest among the evangelical wing of the Republican Party (that is to be expected), but his numbers in other core groups of the GOP are incredibly low. Mike Huckabee very likely does not have the cross-party support necessary to win the nomination in spite of his great early showing-and we know he doesn't have the money, so that means he needs to fare very well on Super Tuesday to remain viable-something I think is increasingly unlikely.

All of this leaves me in the unenviable position of not knowing what to do. I am still very much open to giving one of these candidates an endorsement, but as of yet I just don't feel comfortable doing so. Nicole told me that on Super Tuesday she is still voting for Fred despite the fact that it really will be a wasted vote. If Fred should win Tennessee (which is now significantly less likely) those delegates will essentially go to the convention uncommitted and probably be thrown behind whoever the nominee is anyway. (People often forget that in a Presidential Primary you are voting for a slate of delegates, not directly for a candidate). I will vote on February 5th and will vote for President in the Republican Primary-I am just not sure yet for whom.

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At Friday, January 25, 2008 7:44:00 AM, Anonymous Adam Graham said...

Actually McCain's rating is 82, it was 65% last year. The thing to remember as well about John McCain is his lack of dedication to our nation's sovereignty in general on issues such as the Law of the Sea Treaty and the International Criminal Court.

You're in a hard spot. By the time the race comes to me, all that'll be left will probably be a protest vote, either for a candidate without a shot or uncommitted on Primary day.

I'd say that your vote while important to you won't decide the state. So, if you'd be more comfortable voting for a candidate, vote for them even though they face an unlikely shot. I think Nicole's got the right idea in general. The only waste a vote is voting against your own conscience.

At Friday, January 25, 2008 12:26:00 PM, Blogger Chucko said...

Hey Dave, I don't have much time right now, but John McCain won't get my vote in the primary, nor in the general election. You make good points regarding both candidates, but I think Mitt's our man. Hope you're doing well buddy.

At Friday, January 25, 2008 7:17:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What Adam said!

At Saturday, January 26, 2008 10:19:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know how much I hate to be a bum kick, but ... Mitt Romney's the GOP candidate come Novemeber. He's the only one with just enough voter support to get momentum and more than enough money to keep going.
McCain is running out of money and his voter suppport among core GOP voters is really squishy at best. His support among Independents weak given the strength or the Democratic field. The breakdown of the NH and SC primaries shows that. He won but with far less Independents than he had in 2000. Voter totals in Iowa, NH and SC show how tepid support is for him and the entire GOP field as a whole.
Huckabee has no money and only GOP evangelical/values voters are going to vote for him - which just isn't enough.
After Florida, Rudy, thankfully, will be gone and inconsequential despite whatever nonsence he spins out afterwards.
At the moment I beleive that the GOP ticket come November will Romeny and Huckabee. Romney will get the GOP establishment, the country club Republicans and most of the rank and file. Huckabee will garner the values voters and mobilize them to do all the needed political foot soldiering.


At Saturday, January 26, 2008 10:34:00 AM, Blogger Matt Daley said...

If that's the ticket and if it somehow gets elected (a proposition I find to be VERY dubious indeed), I'm going to laugh my arse off for the next four years at the very same Republicans who vote for this worthless ticket when they all complain to no end about what these two so-called conservatives (what an absolute joke) do in the White House.

Of course, people fully deserve who they vote for.

As far as Mitt goes, he's been courting former Thompson supporters by saying that Fred would make a good VP and by using Fred's name in campaign materials (such as official "FredHeads for Mitt" campaign bumper stickers). While not actually saying so, he's using political capital that is not his own.

And he had better repay in full. Obviously, I understand that it could all just be a contrived way to get Fred's supporters to vote for him. However, it's a crass and mean political move if there is nothing behind it.

So Mr. Romney had better deliver on what he's inherently promising, or I can guarantee you that it will be a cold day in hell before I vote for him. I'm no fool, and I'm not going to fall in love with him just because he floats Fred's name a few times.

And Huckabee? I'll say it again -- I will NEVER vote for a ticket with his name attached.

We've already had 8years of an uneducated, corrupt, liberal Arkansas governor in the White House. Why in the world would anyone be stupid enough to want 8 more?

At Saturday, January 26, 2008 12:39:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, Matt, et al.,
So Romney's attempting to grab Fred's 'support' already? I'm not really surprised that he'd be so shameless so soon. I wouldn't put anything past such a shameless and brazen flipflopper.
What does strike me as surprising tho is that he thinks (apparently)there was/is that much support to start with. I think 90% of Fred's support was only here in Tennessee and then only becuase he was Republican and mostly because he was a Tennessee boy.
Matt, I take exception to your characterization of Pres. Clinton. He was not uneducated, Yale, Oxford. You have to have a certian amount of smarts to even get in let alone graduate, which he did with higher grades than a 'C'. Corrupt? While Pres. Clinton was under constant investigation after '94 the only thing they ever were able to pin on him was lying about an marital BJ. Everything else was just ubber-rightwing fantasy that cost the American taxpayer a lot of money. No convictions, high popularity thru out his tenure, even after impeachment. For goodness sakes, compared to the certifiable moron that occupies the White House now Pres. Clinton was a squecky clean saint and genius.
Liberal? Well, yes, of course! What would you expect? Remember, Liberals are why conservatives aren't still living in caves and can expect to earn at least minimum wage and until recently, expect to able to buy toys that aren't contaminated with LEAD! To say nothing of warrentless wire taps, gay prostitutes pretending to be be White House correspondents, unecessary, lying the nation into an illegal invasion, war and occupation and so on.
Bit that really doesn't matter who the Republican ticket is. After the last going on 8 years of conservativism the country isn't going to go for 8 more.


At Sunday, January 27, 2008 5:16:00 AM, Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

Man I hope y'all support Mitt.
I have a stack of tapes to the ceiling of him speaking about being pro gay marriage, pro choice and government health care.

As a liberal, I love all those things. So I hope y'all run him so me and every other liberal journalist and/or blogger can put all those tapes on the net to show he didn't have a sudden epiphany, and that he's nothing but a hypocrite.

He's a liberal. Why are so many conservatives "buying" his b.s.?

At Sunday, January 27, 2008 10:07:00 AM, Blogger Matt Daley said...


C'mon...are you really that surprised? Heh.

Republicans would vote for Mitt for the same reasons that they'd vote for Huck or for Rudy or for McCain.

They're uber-obsessed with beating the Clintons or Obama....just like they were uber-obsessed with beating Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004. How else can you explain the 8-year presidency of George W. Bush?

And therein lies the sheer stupidity of voting straight party-line. Not to besmirch anyone in particular, but people on both sides have got to be smart enough to realize that everyone on one side is NOT better than everyone on the other.

Saying, "I'll sacrifice how I feel about issues X, Y, and Z and vote for Candidate Republican because he's not Clinton or Obama" is SELF-DEFEATING.

Would any of the Republicans really be 180 degrees different than Clinton or Obama? Would Clinton or Obama really be 180 degress different than the Republicans?

NO. (Well, okay, maybe Obama would...)

Sometimes it's better for the other side to win. From the Republican perspective, look at 1976. We had to live with Jimmy Carter for 4 years. And what happened after that? We got Ronald Reagan for 8.

Sometimes when you win, you really lose. And sometimes when you lose, you really win.

At Sunday, January 27, 2008 10:09:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, Sharon, et al.,
#1) I beleive that the GOP establishment is going for Romney precisely because he is such a hypocrite. He is so craven, so willing to say anything to get elected that they know he will stick to their talking/policy points whatever they are.
#2) Who else are they going to support? McCain? Who once toyed with the idea of switching parties? Who in '04 let it be known that he would consider being Kerry's running partner? Please!
Rudy? A verb, a noun and 911?
Huckabee? Who raised taxes (horrors!) in AK? Who's running out of money? Please!
No, I firmly beleive that Romney will be the GOP candidate precisely and simply because he so phoney and plastic.



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