Saturday, April 2, 2011

Video of Newt at Cornerstone Church

Huckabee wins South Carolina straw poll; Newt comes in second, Barbour way back

York County, SC, straw poll results, per CNN:
1. Mike Huckabee -- 23%

2. Newt Gingrich -- 11%

3. Michelle Bachmann -- 10%

4. Mitt Romney -- 8%

5. Tim Pawlenty -- 7%

5-t. Donald Trump -- 7%
This fits in with my thinking: that should Huckabee stay out, Newt is in great position in the Palmetto State. The fact that Haley Barbour -- who has done a lot of behind-the-scenes, on-the-ground activity -- does not register very high could be worrisome for the Mississippi Governor.

Also from CNN:
The Greenville County Republican Party, the largest county party in the state, is conducting another presidential straw poll next weekend. Two other influential county parties, Charleston and Lexington, will hold straw polls later in the month.

From the Iowa Republican: Recent turnout at Gingrich-only event was "impressive"

Craig Robinson:
Iowa should be a place where Gingrich thrives. On Iowa Press last weekend, he jokingly said, “I’ve been coming to Iowa I think since the early 80s. I may have even come to Iowa before Terry was governor, the first time.” Gingrich went on to say that he’s attended the Iowa State Fair six times.

Gingrich is not exaggerating his fondness for Iowa or the amount of time he’s spent here helping the Republican Party of Iowa raise money and helping candidates like Jim Nussle and others with their campaigns. No candidate will be able to match the time, effort, and interest that Gingrich has given the state. What is yet to be seen is whether or not Iowans consider Gingrich as a presidential option.

Despite all of the time that Gingrich has poured into the state, surprisingly, he has very little infrastructure here in Iowa. He has a big backer in Majority Leader of the Iowa House, Linda Upmeyer, but due to her leadership role, she is unable to help him make inroads around the state.


Last week, I decided to attend Gingrich’s event where he was showing his film, “Rediscovering God in America,” at the Des Moines Marriott. I chose to attend that event over the Johnson County Spaghetti Supper with Haley Barbour because the 2012 candidates have yet to do many events that they organize themselves, and the movie event would be such an event. Even though Gingrich’s soiree was co-sponsored by Citizens United, it was the first stand alone, non-Republican organization sponsored event that has been held in Iowa since the 2010 election.

I went to the Marriott early on Friday night to meet with Congressman King and his staff the night before the Conservative Principles Conference. By happenstance, I got on an elevator with David Bossie of Citizens United. Bossie partnered with Gingrich to produce a series of films, including the one that was going to be viewed later that night. While I was traveling to the 30th floor, Bossie chatted with his associates about his concerns about the attendance at the viewing later that evening, especially since FOX News and NBC were both going to cover the event.

As I listened in to their conversation, I couldn’t help to start putting together some thoughts for an article. All week I had thought that Gingrich’s Iowa effort was floundering a bit. Despite hitting a homerun at the Iowa Renewable Fuels conference in February, Gingrich struggled to excite the crowd at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Conference. A lackluster event on Friday night and a ho-hum speech in front of King’s conservative audience could have raised questions about whether Iowans would see him as a serious presidential candidate.

That story went out the window when nearly 200 people showed up on a Friday night to see a documentary that has played on FOX News numerous times. Turning out that kind of crowd on a Friday night in downtown Des Moines was impressive. It was also something most other potential 2012 candidate have yet to do in Iowa.

Gingrich also did well at King’s event on Saturday morning. It didn’t hurt that instead of following Herman Cain, a dynamic speaker, like he did at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition event, he followed Haley Barbour. Barbour was no slouch, but his speech only addressed one of the three tenets of conservatism -- fiscal policy.

Gingrich’s speech focused on the three areas needed to re-center America: family values, the economy, and national security. He spoke about each segment with authority. He scored points with King by backing his idea to defund Obamacare. Gingrich said, “We have to draw the line in the sand this year.” He then encouraged the crowd to encourage the rest of Iowa’s delegation to follow King’s lead.

Another topic that was surely music to King’s ears was when Gingrich cited a Gallup Poll from December that found that 80 percent of Americans think that America is exceptional. Gingrich noted that the 18 percent who disagree that American is an exceptional county are largely made up of our elected officials and members of the media. Gingrich did very well on Saturday with King’s crowd, even though Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain received a greater response during and after their remarks. For what they provided in excitement, Gingrich matched with substance.

Nobody doubts that Gingrich will do well in the debates later this year. The problem he and every other candidate have is that they have to get to those debates. That means Gingrich needs a strong ground game in Iowa so that he can do well at the Iowa Straw Poll in August, the first test of a candidate’s organizational strength. If he is able to meet or exceed expectations there, he could use the numerous debates that follow to propel his campaign to a victory in Iowa and elsewhere.

Newt is getting good press in the early states. Is Romney's strategy of de-emphasizing the early states a fatal mistake?

Responding to some negative national stories being written about Newt, Matt Lewis of the Daily Caller reminds people that "[t]here won’t be a national primary election, but rather, a series of state elections." Which you would think that no one would need reminding of that after 2008 -- when Barack Obama was far behind in national polls even as he won Iowa in January. Only after Iowa did he become Hillary Clinton's equal in national polls. Plus, Newt is in much, much better shape nationally than Obama was at this point.

Lewis links to positive local news reports from Iowa, New Hampshire, Georgia, Massachusetts, Texas, North Carolina. (Yesterday, I quoted an article that South Carolina is not seeing much of the candidates yet.)

One from his speech in Salem, Massachusetts:
“From someone who usually but not always votes Democrat, I’ve never agreed with a Republican more than I have tonight,” said one man who stepped up to the microphone during the brief question and answer period at the end of the speech.
One from New Hampshire is especially encouraging due to the retail style of politics so important in that state as well as Iowa:
Francesca Marconi Fernald, owner of Geno’s, said Gingrich was approachable and easy to talk to about everything from small business to international issues.

“He listens to what you’re saying and he looks you in the eye when he talks to you,” she said.

Business matriarch and former Portsmouth city councilor and deputy mayor Evelyn Marconi was pleased to see Gingrich.

“I was impressed with him and I always have been,” she said.
The reason that only Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina (and, to a lesser extent, Nevada) matter at this point is that they are the only states in which most voters are paying close attention right now. And that's because those states will be casting meaningful votes -- votes that will propel the winners onward and kill the campaigns of the losers -- within nine months. Most other states will not be casting a meaningful vote until November 2012 due to their primaries being held after -- in all likelihood -- the nomination is secure.

This fact is why Mitt Romney's strategy of while not entirely sitting out the early contests, certainly not going all in on them, could be disastrous for the former Massachusetts governor. Romney has reportedly calculated that, much as in 2008, he will struggle in Iowa and South Carolina -- and so he hopes to build a large enough war chest to compete in the contests after the first four, when the other candidates could -- could -- be cash-strapped.

While he may not have a choice -- it is unlikely, no matter how much money and time he spends, that he will win either Iowa or South Carolina -- this strategy does not have much of a precedent of working. Rudy Giuliani tried this to some extent, using Florida as a firewall -- which is also a state Romney is banking on -- but the former New York City mayor was out of the news due to lackluster performances, and his lead in the Sunshine State evaporated.

Romney's camp points to Barack Obama winning the Democrat nomination in 2008 on the back of later wins in small states, piling up the delegates in Montana and similar states. This look at Obama's campaign misses one very important thing: Obama, above all, put everything into the first early contests.

Obama won Iowa, placed second in New Hampshire (after being way up in the polls after Iowa), and dominated in South Carolina. From there, he was able to use the money advantage he had over Clinton -- as well as his supporters in small states organizing on their own -- to pile up delegates in the later states. If he had ignored two of the first three, his candidacy would have been dead in the water.

If Romney is old news after South Carolina, his firewalls of Nevada and Florida may not be so sturdy, and money and volunteer offers may dry up. Much has been made of Romney, unlike any other candidate, being able to write himself a $50 million check. The importance of that, however, is unknown as he did just that in 2008 -- and it did little good for him.

Romney is banking on chaos -- say Gingrich and Barbour splitting Iowa and South Carolina with neither doing very well in New Hampshire, which is a must win for Romney. And a close win would likely not be enough; it would have to be overwhelming.

Like I said, Romney may not have another choice, but having to bank on winning the nomination while not focusing all of his energy on the early states is not a good position to be in.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Update on South Carolina from CNN

South Carolina's primary season is about to heat up, reports CNN:
This Saturday marks the beginning of the South Carolina's county convention season, when Republican activists gather in high school gyms and cafeterias to attend to local party business and tap delegates for the statewide convention … York County Republican Party officials will run a 2012 presidential straw poll at their [Saturday] convention. Perhaps a more instructive straw poll will take place the following Saturday in Greenville, home to the state’s largest county-level Republican Party organization and ground-zero for South Carolina’s evangelical community. Santorum, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are all expected to attend the Greenville event on April 9, followed by the Spartanburg County convention occurring later that morning and just a few miles up I-85. Another 2012 straw poll will be conducted on April 15 at the Charleston County convention, likely to be one of the largest Republican gatherings of the season."
The article points out that Newt has two big "gets": Katon Dawson and Walter Whetsell.

Of the 2008 primary winner, Mike Huckabee, Peter Hamby writes that the former Arkansas Governor "has done next-to-nothing to mount a repeat bid in South Carolina."

Hamby notes that former Minnesota chief executive Tim Pawlenty "has no one working for him on the ground in Columbia."

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Local news segment about Newt's appearance in Salem, MA. Also, he will speak at National Catholic Prayer Breakfast next month.

From NECN:

Matt Lewis writes:
On April 27, more than 1,500 Catholics are expected to gather for the 7th Annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast (NCPB) in Washington, D.C.

The breakfast’s theme will be, “Celebrating the Beautification of John Paul the Great” and the keynote address will be given by His Excellency Bishop William Lori, of the Diocese of Bridgeport, who serves as the Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus. There will also be a special guest speaker, Newt Gingrich.


Why could this matter? The Catholic vote is arguably the swing vote in a general election. Moreover, this might signal that Gingrich has the potential to tap into some national Catholic money — money that went to Mitt Romney, a Mormon, last time around (this was a source of frustration for then-Sen. Sam Brownback, a Catholic convert).

What is more, Leonard Leo, though not a household name, is one of the most important behind-the-scenes power brokers in the conservative movement. If he should support Gingrich (and it’s premature to speculate that this means he will) -- it would be a clear signal that Gingrich’s campaign wasn’t merely a side show -- but that it was gaining real traction among serious national conservative leaders.

Gingrich, who is exploring a run for president, converted to Catholicism in 2009. He is also speaking at an evangelical school, Liberty University, in April.

Newt's decision will likely be the first week of May

When discussing his strategy for a potential campaign in front of the Foster's Daily Democrat, a New Hampshire newspaper, Newt gave one of his favorite quotes: "First, you win the argument. Then, you win the vote." It is from former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

"The challenges we're facing are enormous. If you want to compete with China and India economically, you probably have to reform litigation, regulation, taxation, education, health, energy and infrastructure."
"We need new ways of thinking, and I'd emphasize it's not Newt Gingrich's solutions. We want to use a participatory model for public policy development in a way that would be very bold and very different."
That last idea would seemingly be modeled after the Solutions Lab that Newt created at American Solutions, where anyone can submit their own policy ideas.

Reporter Jennifer Keefe:
[Gingrich] cited a statistic stating 45 percent of black teenagers were unemployed in January nationally.

"That should sober every American," he said. "That's setting up social problems and difficulties that are just tragic."
From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich hopes to raise $30 million for the primaries, his advisers say.
The article lists the goal of Mitt Romney at $50 million, Haley Barbour at $55 million, and Tim Pawlenty at $25.

It seems like Barbour's camp is not trying to manage expectations. That is not to say Barbour could not reach that figure, however. He is famed for being a great fundraiser, even enjoying it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"Victory or Death"

The whole speech -- which can be found at the video page above -- is well worth watching, but the following section, about three minutes long, is the exclamation point.

(Thank you to


Newt's newsletter, devoted to Libya.

A video and a timeline refuting the flip-flopping charge.

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