Big campaign developments

Texas Governor Rick Perry has dropped out of the GOP presidential race.  He endorsed Newt Gingrich.  So did Sarah Palin. Ex-candidate Herman Cain, however, endorsed “the people.

Gingrich’s former wife is saying that he wanted “an open marriage” even as he was making speeches about family values.

Meanwhile, Rick Santorum won the Iowa caucuses.  A miscount had given the victory to Mitt Romney, but it turns out that Santorum actually had 34 more votes.

So where does all of this leave us?  If enough candidates drop out, might voters coalesce around someone other than Romney?  If so, who?  Ron Paul is, of course, a major alternative.

Who do you think would be better–or worse–Gingrich or Santorum?

Demagoguing contraception

Pro-abortion advocates are claiming that what pro-lifers and Republicans in general really want is to outlaw birth control.  As evidence they are citing Rick Santorum’s stated belief as a Roman Catholic that he does not believe in contraception (even though he underscored that he is not trying to make it illegal), efforts to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood (for its abortion clinics), and proposals to allow Catholic organizations to have a “conscience clause” so they won’t have to provide health insurance that includes contraception coverage.

Roman Catholics, as well as other Christians and members of other religions, do not believe in practicing artificial birth control.  But I am not aware of any Catholics, social conservatives, pro-lifers, or Republicans  who are trying to outlaw contraception.

The pro-abortionists, continuing to lose the arguments about the humanity of the unborn child, are resorting to demagoguery, trying to rally women by alarming them with an out-and-out falsehood.

For an example of what I’m talking about, see this column:  Conversation over abortion continues 39 years later – The Washington Post.

More ballot problems for GOP candidates

I have been complaining that only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul qualified to get on the Virginia primary ballot.  But candidates, except for those two, are also having ballot problems in Ohio, Illinois, D.C., Missouri, and Arizona:

Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator who came within a few votes of winning the Iowa caucuses, didn’t get on the ballot in Virginia or the District of Columbia. His campaign also filed incomplete slates of delegates in Illinois and Ohio, which could limit his ability to win delegates in those key states.

Virginia has been a tough ballot to crack for several GOP candidates because the state requires campaigns to collect signatures from at least 10,000 registered voters. Romney and Paul were the only ones who made the ballot for the March 6 primary.

Perry sued, and was later joined in the lawsuit by Gingrich, Huntsman and Santorum. But on Friday, a federal judge in Richmond refused to add them to the ballot, saying the candidates should have challenged Virginia’s primary qualifying rules earlier.

Santorum is the only major candidate who will be left off the ballot in the District of Columbia primary April 3, said Paul Craney, executive director of the DC Republican Committee. The party provides two ways to get on the ballot: Pay $10,000, or pay $5,000 and collect signatures from 296 registered Republicans in the heavily Democratic capital city. . . .

Huntsman, the former Utah governor, failed to get on the ballot in Arizona or Illinois.

The requirements to get on the GOP ballot in Arizona are pretty easy — all you have to do is fill out a two-page form. Twenty-three candidates managed to do it properly, so they will be on the ballot for the state’s Feb. 28 primary.

Huntsman, however, was left off the ballot because his filing had a photocopied signature and wasn’t notarized, said Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett. . . .

Gingrich, the former House speaker, didn’t make it on the ballot for primaries in Missouri or Virginia, though he has joined the lawsuit to get on the Virginia ballot and Missouri won’t award any delegates based on its Feb. 7 primary. Instead, Missouri Republicans will hold caucuses March 17.

Perry, the Texas governor, made the ballot in Illinois, but he will only be eligible to win one delegate in the state’s March 20 primary — a contest in which 54 delegates will be up for grabs. . . .

Illinois has a unique way of awarding delegates to candidates. The winner of the state’s GOP primary doesn’t necessarily get any delegates. Instead, Republicans will vote for the actual delegates, who are listed separately on the ballot but are identified by the candidate they support.

Each of the state’s 18 congressional districts will elect three delegates, for a total of 54. To appear on the ballot as a delegate, candidates had to collect signatures from at least 600 registered voters in the district where they are running.

Only one Perry delegate filed signatures by the deadline, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. Gingrich, Paul and Romney filed full slates, while only 44 Santorum delegates filed signatures.

Ron Michaelson, who served as executive director of the Illinois State Board of Elections for nearly 30 years, said he doesn’t remember presidential candidates having these kinds of problems in previous elections.

“They’re concentrating so heavily on the early states, devoting so many resources there that they’re not looking down the road far enough,” said Michaelson, now a visiting assistant professor at the University of Illinois in Springfield.

via GOP candidates fail to get on some primary ballots |

Huntsman, since this article was written, has dropped out of the race.  Since the presidential race is not a popularity contest but, you know, an election, shouldn’t some of these others who can’t get on ballots drop out too?

Christian right leaders anoint Santorum

A conclave of leaders of  social conservative organizations and evangelical political activist groups voted to rally behind Rick Santorum:

A week before the pivotal South Carolina primary, Rick Santorum’s quest to emerge as the chief alternative to Mitt Romney received a boost Saturday from a group of evangelical leaders and social conservatives who voted to back his candidacy in a last-ditch effort to stop the GOP front-runner’s march to the nomination.

About three-quarters of some 150 pastors and Christian conservative political organizers meeting in Texas sided with Santorum over a home-state favorite, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — an outcome that illustrated continuing divisions within the ranks of conservatives who make up the base of the GOP.

The gathering also reflected the lingering dissatisfaction with Romney over abortion rights and other issues, and the belief of conservatives that they need to unite behind one contender before the Jan. 21 South Carolina primary if they are to derail the former Massachusetts governor they view as too moderate. Romney leads narrowly in polls here after victories in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“There is a hope and an expectation that this will have an impact on South Carolina,” said Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, who attended the Texas meeting.

It’s unclear, however, whether conservative voters will heed the advice of these leaders and back Santorum particularly with other conservative candidates still in the race. The backing of a chunk of conservative leaders could help Santorum, who long has run a shoestring campaign, raise money and set up stronger get-out-the-vote operations.

via Santorum Backed by Social Conservative Leaders – ABC News.

Much will be said about Santorum as the evangelical candidate.  Remember, though, that he is not an evangelical.  He is a Roman Catholic.  Notice how tolerant evangelical activists have become!

I know the complaints about Santorum, as have come up in the discussions here, is that he is a big government conservative, that he wants to use the power of the federal government to promote his moral agenda (however laudable that might be).  What would be an example of that?  His opposition to gay marriage and abortion?  His favoring constitutional amendments to address those issues?  Isn’t it the government that has been pushing gay marriage and abortion?  The constitution limits government, so why isn’t working for a constitutional amendment an appropriate tactic?  Or are you thinking of something else?

Also, in other election news, Jon Huntsman has dropped out of the race.

Anti-business Republicans

The line of attack on Romney from the rest of the Republican field (except for Ron Paul) is that he is a capitalist!  He made profits!  He fired people!  In other words, the ostensibly conservative candidates are attacking him from the left, sounding like Occupy Wall Streeters or, at least, Democrats.  National Review is indignant:

Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Jon Huntsman seem to be engaged in a perverse contest to be the Republican presidential candidate to say the most asinine thing about Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital, the private-equity firm at which he served as chief executive, helped turn around a number of failing businesses, and, in the process, produced magnificent profits for his investors and for himself. Mitt Romney ran a firm that invested in struggling businesses, made money, and never asked for a bailout — and Romney’s rivals apparently expect Republican voters to regard that as a liability. . . .

As you can imagine, companies that are buyout targets often are in very poor shape, and reviving them is no small thing. Many of them go into bankruptcy. Product lines are discontinued, retail locations are closed, assets are sold off, and, almost inevitably, jobs are lost. Some never recover. When the restructuring is successful, reinvigorated firms expand, add locations, develop new products, and create jobs. That is the creative destruction of capitalism. Staples has 2,000 stores instead of one store because of a Bain investment. And, as Herman Cain is well-positioned to appreciate, Burger King was severely underperforming when Bain and a group of franchise owners acquired it from corporate parent Diageo in 2002. The restructured burger chain, which went public a few years back, is now valued at more than $3 billion. Household names from Dunkin’ Donuts to Guitar Center have been among Bain’s projects.

Bain’s business is high-risk and high-reward. Romney made a pot of money — by investing in real businesses, which, it bears noting, employ many thousands of real Americans. Governor Perry likes to brag about the jobs created in Texas during his tenure: Perhaps he should subtract from that admirable sum those positions at companies in which Bain invested, for the sake of his intellectual integrity.

Romney also is being roasted for saying that one of the things he prefers about the private sector is that when it comes to the incompetent or the unsatisfactory, “if you don’t like what they do, you can fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.” Choice — including the choice to fire a non-performing employee, or to fire your bank if you prefer another one — is the essence of the free market. In education, health care, and any number of other spheres of American life, more choice desperately is needed. An education system in which incompetent teachers could be routinely fired would be a real improvement over the current regime of tenure and “rubber rooms” — and Romney has nothing for which to apologize in connection with that remark, nor for taking on the thankless task of explaining the goodness of profits to an Occupy Wall Street heckler. Huntsman mocked Romney for the remark — but whoever the next president of the United States is, he should be provided with a very long list of people in the federal bureaucracies who need firing. If Huntsman does not have one, he has not thought hard enough about the issue.

Wall Street has its share of miscreants, and they should be recognized as such when appropriate. But to abominate Mitt Romney for having been a success at the business of investing in struggling American companies, connecting entrepreneurs with capital and producers with markets, is foolish and destructive. Republicans ought to know better, and the fact that Gingrich et al. apparently do not is the most disturbing commentary on the state of the primary field so far.

via Romney’s Profitable Past – The Editors – National Review Online.

Now there are kinds of conservatism that are, in fact, critical of the untrammeled marketplace, the kind that reduces all values to economic value and that destroys tradition and culture in favor of an uncritical consumerism.  But I think what we are seeing from Newt and company is not Burkeanism but demagoguery.

Also, in the reactions to this rhetoric, I think I am seeing the conservative establishment (Rush Limbaugh, National Review, etc.) finding an excuse to rally behind Romney.

UPDATE:  Newt Gingrich apparently recants this line of attack against Romney.

UPDATE:  Newt now recants his recantation.

Romney wins New Hampshire; Paul is 2nd

M. Romney 39.4%

R. Paul 22.8%

J. Huntsman 16.9%

N. Gingrich 9.4%

R. Santorum 9.3%

R. Perry 0.7%

B. Roemer 0.4%

M. Bachmann 0.1%

G. Johnson 0.1%

H. Cain 0.1%

via Politics, Political News –

You be the analyst.