Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Profile: Michele Bachmann

The Congressional Representative for Minnesota’s 6th District announced her candidacy for the Republican nomination during the second GOP debate on June 13th. A founder of the House Tea Party Caucus she has drawn some comparisons to another Tea Party favourite and possible competitor, former Alaskan Governor, Sarah Palin.    

Photo by theqspeaks via Flickr.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Pawlenty and Gingrich Release Ads

Republican presidential nominee hopefuls Tim Pawlenty and Newt Gingrich have released new ads in the last couple of days with the former being the first to release one in Iowa. The state plays such an important role in primary politics because their caucuses are the first in the Nation and the first credible indicator of how the field is taking shape.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Palin’s Bus Tour in Service Station

Former Alaska Governor and possible 2012 presidential candidate Sarah Palin seems to have taken some sort of rest stop from her “One Nation” bus tour that has been touring several historical sites along the East Coast.

one nation bus
Picture by Photo Gallery via Flickr.

Huntsman Declares

President Barack Obama's former Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman (Jr.), has declared his candidacy to be the Republican nomination for President. The former Governor of Utah, 51, stood in front of New York's Statue of Liberty and told the crowd: "We are a resourceful, ingenious, determined, problem-solving people. ... We choose our destiny." He added: "This is that moment. We’re not just choosing new leaders. We’re choosing whether we are to become yesterday’s story or tomorrow’s."

Photo by zennie62 via Flickr.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The June GOP Debate

The coverage of the second GOP debate in full. The 7 candidates were Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty and Herman Cain. Somewhat surprisingly former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson was left off the list whilst others like Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry and Sarah Palin are yet to declare and thus not invited. Although Bachmann formally declared her candidacy at the beginning of the show but CNN probably knew that would be the case.

Bit odd to invite the likes of Bachmann and particularly Cain and not Gary Johnson. Guy arguably speaks more sense than both but has fringe Republican values in comparison. He doesn't possess the high profile of fellow Libertarian Ron Paul he definitely deserves to be there particularly when the invited Cain opens his speech with, "I am not a politician." (Then what are you doing here...?)

P.S. - The YouTube embed tool is being a bit problematic so you can find parts 3-9 inclusive above but all parts 1-10 here.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Profile: Mitt Romney

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney ran for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2008 after sinking $35 million of his own money into the campaign. At the time he was a candidate with low name recognition and surrounded by a fog of uncomfortable doubt due to his Mormon faith. This time around he was the first to declare he was creating a presidential exploratory committee and had early visibility but peculiarly not one of the first to declare his candidacy formally.

In many ways his campaign after 2008 never stopped as he 
maintained much of his political staff in order to continue building their political infrastructure on the ground. You could almost say his invisible primary season started the day after Obama was inaugurated. His activities have included releasing a New York Times best selling book entitled No Apology: The Case for American Greatness as well as campaigning and fund raising at the local grassroots level for many Republican candidates; particularly during the 2010 midterms. He did a lot for Scott Brown who became junior Senator in Romney’s home state of Massachusetts after the death of Ted Kennedy. No doubt this work has won him political favour within the party and its leadership as well as making him more of a known and comfortable quantity with the Republican base who, in 2008, knew relatively little about the Mormon former Governor of a northern liberal state. 
Cartoon by DonkeyHotey
Unlike the other big GOP names in 2008, Huckabee and Palin, Romney has not been so visible on a national level. Palin has so far denied that she is formally running in 2012 despite her book Going Rogue and many public appearances including her current "One Nation" bus tour. She is yet to cite a reason that adequately satisfies the mainstream media but the truth may be that, unlike Romney, she has time on her side. She could well use the next four years to fine tune her political skills and raise even more money so she can lock down the Presidency when she, if ever, runs for it. The GOP has a tendency to nominate the guy who is 'next-in-line' as seen with the likes of John McCain and Bob Dole and in four years Palin is more likely to be that person than she is now.

The signature achievement of Romney’s political career thus far are the Massachusetts health care reforms he led and oversaw whilst he was Governor between 2003 and 2007. This is largely seen as a resounding success but could also prove to be his Achilles heel as ‘ObamaCare’ operates on a similar, but not exact, model. Obama’s health care legislation is somewhat controversial to say the very least and it is vehemently opposed by fiscal conservatives and the conservative base as a whole. The problem for Romney is that he must find a way to distance himself from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act if he is to shore up mainstream Republican support; which is comparatively weaker than the support he receives from the moderate end of the party.

Romney is not the darling of the conservative base like Palin so if he does not manage to disassociate himself from ‘ObamaCare’ during the invisible primary and spends the rest of primary season trying to do so then he won’t be anywhere close to being the Republican nominee for President. A lot of that may be out of his hands and may depend on how much his opponents try to tarnish him with the ‘ObamaCare’ brush as well as to what extent commentators decide play up the association.

So far, Romney has come top, or near the top of various polls in the last year or so including the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll, Southern Republican Leadership Conference straw poll and most recently the New Hampshire Straw Poll. The National Journal released a poll of political insiders in April that found the majority of Republicans thought Romney would be the nominee and a plurality of Democrats thought he would be too. 

Of course it is still early days in the build up to primary season but what you are seeing now is prospective nominees jockeying for position so they can get the best start possible once the full glare of the American media is upon them and the race starts proper. In the case of Romney he knows that 2012 is his window of opportunity because he, like every other Republican politician the wrong side of 50, knows that Palin will attempt to run one day in the future and nobody commands the adulation of the grassroots conservative quite like The Barracuda at the moment. Although she herself may struggle to maintain her limelight as the stars of state Governors Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley rise.

Whilst Romney would seemingly be one of the established candidates and the ‘next in line’ the primary season has in the past derailed the surest of campaigns and brought people out of obscurity to national prominence. Whether it be a former beauty pageant participant Governor of a politically lightweight state or a basketball mad first-term junior Senator who alludes to rap music in his speeches. We can only hope that 2012 will prove to be as exciting.

Article first published as Mitt Romney: The Republicans' safest bet? on The Commentator. 

Saturday, 11 June 2011

A 'Newtiny' on the Bounty

Newt Gingrich is in trouble. The resignation of much of his senior staff, a include his campaign manager, campaign spokesman, media consultant and three top advisers has left a gaping chasm in the leadership foundation of the former Speaker's campaign. “There is a fundamental strategic difference between the traditional consulting community and the kind of campaign I want to run,” Gingrich said in repost to reporters. “We’ll find out over the next year who’s right.”

The charge levelled at Gingrich is his chronic lack of commitment to the campaign and it's hugely taxing nature both on the candidate and his family. Examples have included attending the Opera instead of 'pressing-the-flesh' at a Memorial Day parade. The vast array of extra-political commitments Gingrich has committed to has prevented the campaign from getting going and perhaps the most damming charge is levelled at Gingrich's wife, his third, Callista.

It has been said she's been micromanaging his day-to-day diary and been persistent in ensuring that his days are not totally consumed by the campaign and instead prioritise his attendance at film premieres and book signings. Her intrusion has appeared to be unwelcome as one senior staffer commented: "His spouse has demands on his time that are not practical for a candidate running for president."

The rigours of running for President are well known and frankly Callista should have known she'd be taking a bit of a back seat. After all, the excuse of family reasons has been used in this primary season to justify not running a la Mitch Daniels et Haley Barbour. Curtains now for Newt after this 'Newtiny'?

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Rick Santorum Declares

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum officially declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination on Monday. He told followers: "President Obama took that faith that America gave him and wrecked our economy and centralized power in Washington, D.C., and robbed people of their freedom."  

Well know for his conservative positions both socially and fiscally he is no stranger to controversy. His views on the Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court case in 2003 drew the ire of the LGBT community to the extent where he became the subject of a rather amusing neologism; which you can find here. Find the rest of his speech below and expect a full profile to come shortly as well as a development of the website on the whole (in the coming months). Enjoy!

Friday, 3 June 2011

Mitt Romney Declares (finally..)

We all knew it was coming and now the day has come when Mitt Romney, the former Governor of Massachusetts, has declared his intention to run for the Presidency - or, more specifically, to be the Republican nominee for President.

In front of supporters the multi-millionaire businessman, 64, said: "We know we can bring this country back. I'm Mitt Romney, I believe in America and I'm running for President of the United States."

To cheers and whistles he declared: "Barack Obama has failed America." Then, in what will most likely be the central cannon of his campaign he took shots and Obama's handling of the economy saying: "Over 16 million Americans are out of work." He added: "It breaks my heart to see what is happening to this great country."

Expect a full profile of Mitt Romney in the next couple of days as well as an updated candidates page. Until then you can watch the full speech below.