Saturday, March 19, 2011

Newt, Christie, and Romney get the most applause at California GOP convention

The Sacramento Bee on the California GOP's convention luncheon today, at which there were "hundreds of people":
While advising Republicans on how to use political language, Luntz conducted an informal applause poll among the crowd on the possible GOP presidential candidates.

Those winning the loudest applause were former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin also received a good amount of applause. Other names such as Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who will address the convention tonight, and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels received less applause.
Jack Chang added this to the story:
UPDATE: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie received one the loudest -- if not the loudest -- rounds of applause in the informal poll. However, Christie has said repeatedly that he won't run for president in 2012.

Roundup: Bush Tax Cuts, Obamacare defunding, General Petraeus, and more

-- Newt will be in North Carolina soon: "Former U.S. House speaker and possible presidential candidate Newt Gingrich will be the keynote speaker Thursday at the Wake County Republican convention....'We are delighted Speaker Gingrich has chosen to come to Raleigh at this important juncture,' [Susan] Bryant [the Wake County GOP chairman] said in a statement. 'He is one of the premier public speakers of our time, and his understanding of the important issues facing the nation today is unmatched.'"

-- In an op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal, Newt and Peter Ferrara argued for extending the Bush tax cuts:
If the president had his way, the two top income tax rates would have increased by nearly 20% this year, counting his proposed phaseouts of deductions and exemptions. The capital gains tax would increase by nearly 60%, counting the new ObamaCare tax on investment income in 2013. The tax rate on dividends would nearly triple, counting the new ObamaCare tax as well. The Medicare payroll tax would increase by over 60% for the targeted income earners.

But after the stunning Democratic losses in the midterm elections, Mr. Obama finally agreed to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for two years, for everyone. And that has allowed the breathing room for the long-overdue recovery to begin to sprout. Unemployment declined last month to 8.9%.


Indeed, if the Fed has to reverse its loose monetary policies to avert rising inflation, the contractionary impact of higher interest rates and a slower increase in the money supply, combined with higher taxes, could lead to a horrendous downturn. Working people, not the rich, would be hurt the most, losing jobs and wages as a result.

To avoid that, this year the House Republican majority should pass a permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts. Even that is just a beginning. To touch off a boom—and secure a prosperous future for all Americans—what's really needed are additional, sweeping rate cuts on both individual and corporate income.
-- The Washington Post reports of Gingrich's appearance Friday at the National Press Club:
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich said Friday that he expects President Obama’s health care bill to be repealed by the spring of 2013.

But even if Republicans can’t get to repeal, Gingrich said, the bill is doomed because GOP House leadership will refuse to fund it.

“He can block them from repeal,” Gingrich said at an event in Washington this morning. “I don’t think he can coerce them into funding.”


“The president would have to go to the country and say, ‘I’m going to veto this bill on behalf of more spending, a bigger deficit and a bigger Washington bureaucracy,’” Gingrich said. “I think that Speaker (John) Boehner and Majority Leader (Eric) Cantor are absolutely committed to refusing the fund the implementation of Obamacare.”
-- From his weekly newsletter:
During the president’s press conference Friday on rising energy costs, he sought to assure the American people that gas prices would not rise too much because other oil producing countries have “committed to filling any gaps” in supply.

This isn’t the first time the administration has said this. In February, the Deputy Secretary of Energy said he hoped “spare capacity” in other countries “will be brought to bear so that it will continue to support our economic recovery.”

Since President Obama took office, gas prices have increased over 90 percent.

After presiding over this enormous rise in prices that are putting a greater and greater strain on family budgets, imagine the naiveté of hoping OPEC and other hostile and unstable countries will “continue to support our economic recovery.”
-- Also from the National Press Club appearance:
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich said Friday he continues to have faith in Gen. David Petraeus' strategy in Afghanistan and encouraged other GOP presidential hopefuls to consult the top U.S. commander about his war plan.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Quick Hits

-- Newt was a featured speaker at the Wild Irish Breakfast Thursday on St. Patrick's Day.

-- At a later event Thursday: "If we find enough volunteer support and enough financial support, we'll almost certainly run," he told reporters at a luncheon of the Boys & Girls Club in Salem. "We're in the process of assessing that now," he said, adding: "So far in New Hampshire, it's been a good day."

-- US News & World Report: "Moreover, Gingrich preserves an army of loyalists who worked for or with him during his time in office. One former Gingrich staffer recently informed me that "we’re around, we’re active, and we’re ready."

-- The State Column: "Mr. Gingrich will meet with the 87-strong GOP freshman class March 31 in the Longworth House Office Building. The meeting with take place just days before a continuing resolution is set to expire."

That meeting was scheduled by Austin Scott (R-GA), who was endorsed by Newt's PAC last year.

The Difference between Gingrich's supporters and Obama's

I came up with the idea for this post when reading the daily e-mail from the blog Cafe Hayek. (You can sign up here for a witty and informative take on economic matters.)

One of the contributors to that blog, Don Boudreaux, re-posted an article he wrote back in 2004, titled "Messiah Mongering," in which he warns of worshiping other humans -- be they sports figures, Princess Diana, or politicians. While worshiping someone because they led your team to a championship is not the most productive way to spend your time, thinking too much of a politician -- "gap[ing] at him as if he were something superhuman" -- can lead down a very bad path. Totalitarian governments almost always have a charismatic leader, and even if the result is not a complete tyranny, a leader who is treated as if superhuman can lead to a great loss of liberty.

He mentioned FDR and JFK as two of the politicians most often worshiped. As the article was written just after Barack Obama's introduction to the country, a full two years before he started running for President, Obama's name is not mentioned. But throughout the campaign, many of his supporters, serious and unserious, invoked Jesus' name as well as other references to him being a savior. They felt that with his election, all would be solved by him himself.

When I was reading Boudreaux's article and thinking of the Obama-mania, as Sean Hannity likes to call it, it made me realize how differently I viewed Newt Gingrich -- who I am every bit as committed to seeing elected President as any Obama supporter -- from how, say, this lady viewed Obama.

Contrary to almost every die-hard Obama fan, I do not want Gingrich managing the economy; far, far from it. I realize he -- or any other human, or even an entire agency -- could not possibly know in which technologies to invest in. Only markets, by sending price signals that are free of government interference, can pick which products should be invested in and which should be allowed to die off. I don't want him putting in policies that result in me paying higher prices for, say, sugar because a well-connected family whose main source of income is selling sugar asks for government protection from competitors (that would never happen!). I don't want to pay for more expensive gasoline because "the future is in green jobs." If the future is in green jobs, private money will fund those. (Isn't it curious how liberals claim that businessman are only interested in profit -- willing to sacrifice anything for an extra dollar -- yet the greedy profiteers do not get involved in so many liberal ideas, which we are told are just guaranteed money makers?)

And what is one reason I like Gingrich? He gets it; he has no interested in micro-managing the economy. He knows Hayek's concept of "The Fatal Conceit": "The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design."

Gingrich puts it differently, calling arrogant those who look at the economy this way: "That they think that one person will somehow look at the entire world market and say, "I know."

He shares my goal of setting up an business environment that -- because of low taxes on income, no tax on savings and investment, a low level of government spending, a strong dollar, and free trade -- will end up creating jobs and prosperity.

What would I want from Gingrich, if not handouts? I would want him -- and his administration, including his court nominees -- to follow the Constitution, and as such, his first priority would be to keep Americans save from foreign and domestic threats. I want him to stand up for the rights that are guaranteed by that Constitution and granted by our Creator.

I want him to protect the unborn, traditional values, and the free market. The surest path to ruin for a country is to waver in the defense of any of those.

Another key difference is how realistic I am about the change Newt could deliver. I would not expect everything all at once, as many progressives did with the current President. To use a football analogy, conservatives are at our own 5 yard line. I don't have the expectation that Newt will throw a Hail Mary and complete a 95-yard touchdown on 1st down. I expect him to chip away, maybe -- extending the analogy -- getting a few first downs before he has to come out of the game. Then, his backup, be it Bobby Jindal, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, or someone else, comes in fresh and gets us past the 50 yard line and forces the liberals to defend their own side of the field. Don't force anything, take what you can get.

While I am very enthusiastic about Gingrich and believe he is the best man to save America -- to borrow a phrase from someone -- it is not because I think he has the silver bullet to all our problems. It is because he will not get in the way of the person who comes up with the silver bullet. Or subsidize the equivalent of an aluminum bullet.

Going back to the football analogy, he would make a fine first-string President.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Not surprisngly, Newt is helped by Huckabee and/or Palin not running

Public Policy Polling did their usual Republican Primary poll, with former Governors Palin and Huckabee included, and the results were:
1. Mike Huckabee 18%

2. Mitt Romney 17%

3. Sarah Palin 16%

4. Newt Gingrich 14%
They then polled three other scenarios that may happen: the field without Huckabee, the field without Palin, and then the field without both Palin and Huckabee. (One of Palin/Huckabee not running seems very likely; both staying out is also a good possibility.)

Without just Huckabee:
1. Romney 20%

2. Palin 19%

3. Gingrich 18%

4. Ron Paul 12%
Without just Palin:
1. Huckabee 22%

2. Gingrich 20%

3. Romney 18%

4. Paul 9%
Without Huckabee and Palin both:
1. Romney and Gingrich 24%

3. Paul 12%

4. Tim Pawlenty 6%

5. Haley Barbour and Rick Santorum 5%
The poll found that if Palin chooses not to run, 35% of her supporters would back Gingrich and 19% would vote for Romney. With Huckabee out, 26% of his fans go to Newt with 23% going to the Romney camp.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Matt Towery: Poll shows Newt shoots to top spot when voters are reminded of his accomplishments as Speaker

In his article a week ago, Matt Towery -- who served as chairman of Newt's political organization for much of the 90s and who has known the former Speaker for years -- wrote an article about Newt's chances.

The strengths of a Gingrich campaign, according to Towery:
The upside is the polling data he is armed with. It shows that once the public is reminded of his accomplishments when he was speaker of the House, Gingrich soars from either second or third to first among the choices of Republican voters nationwide for the GOP nomination.

These voters are impressed when they are reminded that Speaker Gingrich forced Bill Clinton into consecutive balanced budgets, passed welfare reform and left office with the nation's entire deficit at under $30 billion dollars.

The Wall Street Journal got it right earlier this week. It said that Gingrich's real campaign, when it begins later this spring, will emphasize these signal accomplishments.

Another upside for Gingrich is that he has a huge list of names and devotees in data created through years of presence on the Web. His campaign likely will be the only one among leading Republican presidential hopefuls that will rival Barrack Obama's for its expertise and accomplishments in high-tech social networking and fundraising.
On one of the frequent attacks on Gingrich:
The story is simply not true that Newt Gingrich served his first wife with divorce papers, or had a heated argument about a divorce, while she was ill and in a hospital.

How do I know? Because the day that alleged event happened -- and every other day during that time -- I was riding in a car with him. On that day, we were working on debate preparation. Besides, polling suggests that most voters don't care about Gingrich's alleged past transgressions.
Newt's daughter from that marriage, Jackie, "considered them [the hospital bed allegations and other attacks] bogus and unfair." She appeared in a 1992 television advertisement to refute the charges.
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