Saturday, February 25, 2012

Race for the White House

As has been seen previously in the Republican nomination battle, a televised debate once again has seemingly had a major impact on the race. It is now expected that Mitt Romney will win both the Arizona and Michigan primaries this coming Tuesday, and thus will once again be a clear frontrunner headed into the following week's Super Tuesday. The overall dynamics of the race will still favor Romney, but by then, Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich may also once again "re-emerge."

While most of the focus this week has been on Michigan, Tuesday night's CNN debate took place in Arizona and it was seen as another strong performance by Romney, but even more of a weak one for Santorum, who had surged into the national polling lead. Working to some extent as a tag team with Ron Paul, Romney was well prepared with criticisms of Santorum's record and succeeded in throwing him off guard. While the ex Pennsylvania Senator has perhaps seen his favorability ratings take a dive over some very conservative social positions, Romney instead successfully hammered away from Santorum's right on issues such as earmarks, and past support for GOP turncoat Arlen Specter.

Santorum's defense on those points was seen as quite lacking as it was noted that he "got into the weeds" in trying to explain things and in what I think was a very damaging moment, spoke of "taking one for the team" in having cast some Congressional votes against what he believed was right in principle. That is not the kind of stuff the Tea Party types like to hear and Romney was able to paint Santorum as a go along to get along Washington insider. Just the fact that so much of the debate centered on earmarks, and Arlen Specter, and Santorum having to apologize for casting various votes was a very bad sign for the person that had been leading Michigan polls and was close in Arizona a week ago.

In fact, some polls out of the two states still do show close races, while others show Romney more comfortably ahead now, especially in Arizona. The GOP Governor of the Grand Canyon State is set to officially unveil her endorsement tomorrow and the smart money is on it being Romney. The expectations games out the states have gone back and forth so much that any sort of Romney win of both states will be seen as an impressive comeback in the eyes of many, despite all the talk of Michigan having once been his home state. I still will be very interested to see if there is a large number of Democrats who wish to cause "chaos" in the state by voting for Santorum in Michigan. The conventional wisdom now is that such a movement has never really solidifed.

If by some reason, Santorum surprises most and hangs on to win, especially in Michigan, that will of course be a huge story and a great boost to his campaign. Still though, the past week has demonstrated that as the home stretch approaches, serious doubts about Santorum as a general election candidate would be likely to ultimately derail him. Romney can take a big step closer to the nomination by winning the two states on Tuesday though. That is not to say that he will cruise to victory everywhere. After Florida, I thought that could be the case (at least most places) but the whole "buyer's remorse" component and the desire for the very conservative to want to keep the process make it very possible that Romney will still lose a few more states. If Santorum has faded once again, that could leave a slight opening for Newt Gingrich in early March as it relates to the voting in his home state of Georgia and elsewhere in the South. Gingrich was seen as having a fairly strong debate performance this past week, mostly because he seemed to deliberately keep his calm and mostly just focused on attacking the Obama Administration.

Foreign policy and the currently deadly situation in Afghanistan along with conservative outrage over Obama apologies to the country's government have the potential to become a very big story. If we reach the point where the GOP finally has a de-facto nominee, differences over foreign policy, especially in the Middle East may emerge as a much discussed issue in the election.

For now though, most of the focus continues to be on the GOP race and economic and social issues. All things considered, it was a very good week for my candidate, Mitt Romney, and his other supporters are likely feeling more confident than they have been for the past three weeks.

Of course, being the front-runner leads to increased attention, as evident by the fact that Democrats have been spending money in Michigan and elsewhere, actively targeting Romney, in the hope of either damaging him or causing someone else to be nominated.

I completely concede that Mitt Romney is not a perfect politician or candidate. Nobody ever is, an I am reminded of all the brouhahas surrounding Obama and Hillary Clinton at this point four years ago, but the standards that Romney is held to by his detractors, both on the left and on the right, and in the media seems pretty excessive to me.

A couple tidbits from yesterday illustrate this as many are trying to denigrate an event held by Romney at Ford Field yesterday when he addressed the Detroit Economic Club in detail on his economic and tax program. While the event is probably going to help Romney garner additional support from Michigan conservatives, which of course was the main objective, must has been put out there in the news cycle about the fact that Romney spoke in a football stadium, that had no people in the actual stands, and that he made reference to the fact that his wife drives a couple of Cadillacs.

First of all, attemps to compare the crowd to that of Obama's 2008 convention finale in Denver are ridiculous. There was never an anticipation or attempt to come anywhere close to filling the large stadium by Romney. The orginal location of the speech was unable to accomodate the crowd that was expected to attend, so the event was moved to Ford Field, and instead of putting people in the seats, the plan was always to have them seated on the football field. Over a thousand people attended the economic address but this was not designed to be any sort of huge public event. So, despite the image of Romney speaking to a crowd on the field in an otherwise empty stadium, I am at a loss to understand why people would have been under the impression that 50,000 people were supposed to show up.

Detroit is of course the hub of the American auto industry and has played a big part in Mitt Romney's life growing up. In his remarks yesterday, he mentioned that he currently drives a couple of American cars and that his wife drives a "couple of Cadillacs." People on television and blogs went nuts over this comment and characterized it as some such of huge political gaffe which demonstrates how out of touch he is with the average person.

I refuse to believe people are that stupid. By now, most everyone knows that Mitt Romney is a wealthy man. Some people will resent that or hold that against him, but I think others just accept that reality, and maybe even consider it a good thing.

Why is it bad that they have four cars? How is that unusual for a rich couple? I think even many middle class people own more than one or two cars and while Cadillacs are nice, it's not like they are exclusively the domain of the wealthiest one percent. It's not like he was talking about having luxury foreign cars. They are American cars. Apparently, his wife drives a Cadillac in Massachusetts and has another one at the family's California house.

Why should Mitt Romney be dishonest about it or be ashamed that he bought a couple of Cadillacs for his wife in recent years? Are we really to expect that people will think less of him for that? Being affluent and buying American cars make one "out of touch?"

How many cars does Jay Leno own? How many does Oprah own? I mean, come on now!