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Sunday, February 19, 2012

romney vs santorum

romney vs santorum



The GOP race in Iowa increasingly looks like Romney vs. Santorum… Inauthentic conservative vs. Washington insider… Remembering the Oct. 18 debate exchange between Romney and Santorum… Why Santorum is surging… Team Obama doesn’t think Santorum can do the distance… Second-guessing Paul’s weekend in Texas… And Romney still up in New Hampshire in new poll.
Read Monday's original First Thoughts: Romney vs. Santorum

DES MOINES, IA – With one day to go before the Iowa caucuses, the Republican presidential contest looks increasingly like a battle between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. And yesterday, the two men began to draw contrasts with each other, albeit mildly. Campaigning in Atlantic, Romney opened the same playbook he used against Newt Gingrich -- portraying the former Pennsylvania senator as a Washington insider. “Like Speaker Gingrich, Sen. Santorum has spent his career in government, in Washington,” Romney said yesterday, per NBC’s Garrett Haake. “Nothing wrong with that, but it is a very different background than I have.” Romney also made this playful dig at Santorum. “Sen. Santorum was kind enough to endorse me last time around. I appreciate that.” (On “Meet the Press” yesterday, Santorum responded that his ’08 endorsement of Romney was “the best chance to stop John McCain… It's not like I was an early supporter of Romney. I endorsed him actually seven days before he dropped out of the race.”For his part, Santorum cast Romney as an unreliable conservative. While acknowledging on “Meet the Press” that every GOP presidential candidate is more conservative than President Obama, Santorum said, “The question is: Are those values ones that you can trust when they become president of the United States? Is it someone who you know is going to fight not just for certainly things, but for the entire Republican platform?” Later in the day, in Sioux City, Santorum took this implicit shot at Romney. “Don’t put forward somebody who isn’t good enough to do what’s necessary to change this country,” he said, according to the New York Times. “Put forward someone that you know has the vision, the trust, the authenticity, the background, the record to make that happen.” If the race turns into Romney vs. Santorum (along with Paul), it’s worth remembering the former Massachusetts governor and former Pennsylvania senator sparring over health care at the feisty Oct. 18 debate in Las Vegas -- the same debate where Romney put his hand on Rick Perry. Santorum said, “You just don't have credibility, Mitt, when it comes to repealing ‘Obamacare.’ Your plan was the basis for ‘Obamacare.’ Your consultants helped Obama craft Obamacare. And to say that you're going to repeal it, you have no track record on that -- that we can trust you that you're going to do that.” Later in the exchange, Romney said, “Rick, you had your chance. Let me speak.” Santorum fired back, “You can’t change the facts.” Romney: “Rick, you had your chance. Let me speak.” Santorum: “You’re out of time. You’re out of time.” Is this possibly a preview for the next month? If you’re looking for a reason why Rick Santorum is surging, look no further than the enthusiasm that greeted him at two events yesterday in the most conservative part of the state, as one of us observed first hand. More than 150 people packed into a coffee house in Sioux City, and then about 200 people packed into a bank basement in Orange City, home to a significant share of the religious voters that propelled Mike Huckabee to victory in 2008. And there were very few undecideds in these crowds -- they were with Santorum. Many had liked Michele Bachmann, even Newt Gingrich. But they made up their minds in the past week to go with Santorum, who, they said, has "conservative convictions," is a "hard worker," was more electable, and didn't have the "baggage." If, in fact, Santorum has locked up evangelical voters, he stands a good chance of winning Iowa here tomorrow night.However, in chatting with some of the Team Obama folks who have come here to Des Moines, they don’t believe that Santorum has the ability to go toe to toe with Romney -- the same way that Newt Gingrich or Rick Perry potentially could. Even if Santorum wins Iowa tomorrow, it’s quite likely that Romney -- with his resources -- can lap the former Pennsylvania senator by the end of the month. On one hand, they are happy Romney still has base problems and hasn't used his time in Iowa to fix them. On the other hand, they are disappointed that it's Santorum and not Newt or Perry who is rising. After all, Team Obama has dreamed about Romney having to struggle and keep courting the right for the next six MONTHS, not six WEEKS. If Ron Paul ends up out of first and second -- and instead finishes third in Iowa -- the Paul supporters might second-guess why Paul was back home in Texas over the weekend rather than campaigning in Iowa. Just some food for thought…
*** On Perry, Gingrich, and Bachmann: As for the other candidates, Perry was on “TODAY” this morning, accusing Santorum of voting to raise the debt ceiling eight times and calling him a “serial earmarker.” Then, in an interview that will air on MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown” later this morning, Perry questioned whether Santorum had the resources to wage a successful campaign against Romney. Meanwhile, per NBC’s Alex Moe, Gingrich yesterday claimed that he had been “Romney-boated” -- a variation to the phrase “Swift-boated.” And yesterday in Iowa, Bachmann delivered a narrative of her coming into her Christian faith to about 100 people at Jubilee Family Church in Oskaloosa, NBC’s Jamie Novogrod reports.
*** Matthews and Gingrich: Also yesterday, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asked Gingrich some questions while the former speaker was campaigning in Iowa. On the pro-Romney Super PAC ads hitting him, Gingrich told Matthews: “So part of the question you have to ask yourself is, he's assuming the American people are stupid. I don't think the American people are stupid. I am sure…” Matthews: “But the polls are responding, the polls are reacting…” Gingrich: “I am sure within a few weeks every American will know this is his PAC with his staff.” Be sure to watch MSNBC’s “Hardball” for all of Gingrich’s answers.Turning from the race in Iowa to next week’s contest in New Hampshire, NBC’s Jo Ling Kent reports that Romney maintains his commanding lead in the Granite State, according to a new Suffolk poll. The survey has Romney at 41% among likely Republican voters -- followed by Paul at 15%, Gingrich at 11%, and Huntsman at 9%. Also, per a campaign press release this morning, Santorum is heading to New Hampshire the day after the caucuses, while Bachmann has decided to travel straight to South Carolina.
*** White House vs. Congress: Just asking, but did the Obama White House go a bit too far in telling reporters in Hawaii that it would contrast itself with Congress in 2012? For one thing, it produced this headline in the New York Times: “Obama to Turn Up Attacks on Congress in Campaign.” Is that what the White House really wants voters to see? Second, there’s no doubt the White House wants to distance itself -- and contrast itself -- from Congress. So why say it?
There are four candidates left standing in the GOP presidential nomination contest. But it’s really come down to a two-man race heading toward primary elections in Arizona and Michigan, then on to Super Tuesday with ten more contests and a lot more convention delegates than have been at stake so far.For recently surging Rick Santorum and Republican establishment favorite Mitt Romney, the battle at this point couldn’t be closer or more important.

Michigan – Romney’s nominal home state (although he hasn’t lived there for years and was most notably governor of Massachusetts) could be make-or-break.

The headline this week in the Detroit Free Press had to be jolting for Romney: “New polls show Rick Santorum leading Mitt Romney in Michigan primary race.”

“An MRG Michigan Poll, done with Lansing-based Inside Michigan Politics, showed Santorum up 43-33 percent on Romney, trailed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 11 percent and US Rep. Ron Paul of Texas at 8 percent,” the newspaper reported. “Mitchell Research, a polling firm in East Lansing, released a survey showing Santorum ahead of Romney 34-25, with Paul at 11 percent and Gingrich at 5 percent.” That has left some Republican Party insiders worrying about what to do if Romney loses the state where his father was a popular governor and top auto executive.

“If Romney cannot win Michigan, we need a new candidate,” a Republican US senator, who has not endorsed any of the presidential candidates, told Jonathan Karl of ABC News.

“We’d get killed” if Romney manages to win the nomination after he failed to win the state in which he grew up, the senator told Karl. “He’d be too damaged.”

Republicans like to charge President Obama with engaging in “class warfare.” But among Republican primary voters and caucus participants, there’s evidence of a divide along economic class lines as well.

“In every contest held so far in which exit polling is available, Romney has done progressively worse as a voter’s income has dropped,” points out Chris Cillizza in the Washington Post’s “Morning Fix” political column Saturday. “Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, and Nevada all showed Romney performing between 8 and 20 percent worse among voters making less than $50,000, compared to those making more than $100,000. And the two states with the highest percentages of voters making less than $100,000 – Iowa and South Carolina – happen to be the two states of those five that he has lost.”
Oh, who are we kidding? This is the prissiest primary slap fight anyone could imagine. When pressed, both whine. When criticized, both wear their persecution complex like a hounded high school nerd.

This primary is insufferable and has been. There shouldn’t be an enthusiasm gap in the primary, yet here we are.

What is amusing in this situation: All the die-hard defenders of both men.

I don’t get it.

Don’t you have to feel ardently about someone in order to defend their honor? Who feels passionately about these guys?

Romney feels passionately about nothing.

Santorum feels passionately about everything.

Consequently, it’s difficult to prioritize. It’s difficult to latch onto an issue and identify with either candidate.

Neither man is a bad man. In fact, they both seem to be quite good people.

They’re just throwbacks to a former GOP mentality where the government solved almost everything in not so stark contrast to liberals who were quite sure they knew how to make the world right with the government.

It’s too bad we have these men at this time. We could really use a dedicated conservative willing to articulate passionately conservative values and push forth a grand vision for a self-reliant America.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a man or woman like that still in the running.

We have Mitt and Rick.

Both men are incremental and concerned about trimming around the edges. Both men practices a big government interventionism.

But they’re conservative in practice, you say.

Yeah, so is Barack Obama. He has the high expectations, early bedtime and family man image. He has the rather boring demeanor and technospeak that puts one to sleep.

Philosophically, politically and policy-wise, though, Barack Obama wants to make the world “fair”, he wants to save those who he deems needs saving, he wants to make sure the government is nudging people in a certain direction to achieve a certain kind of behavior.

Is that very different than Romney or Santorum? Using the government to achieve big ends?

It’s time for the government to BUTT OUT. It’s time for a leader to be responsible.

On Mike Koolidge’s radio program, I asked where the candidate is who articulates (forget Reagan’s vision) but John F. Kennedy’s vision,”Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

Where is that guy? He’s nowhere in this primary and he’s certainly not Barack Obama.

So. We have a slap fight over trivialities for the GOP primary when we should be having a cage match over ideas and big visions.

Enthusiasm gap? It’s downright depressing.

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