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?

Why I can’t vote for Gingrich or Perry

Because they weren’t organized enough to get the petitions signed to get on the Virginia primary ballot!

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has failed to qualify for Virginia’s March 6 Republican primary, a development that complicates his bid to win the GOP presidential nomination.

“After verification, RPV has determined that Newt Gingrich did not submit required 10K signatures and has not qualified for the VA primary,” the Republican Party of Virginia announced early Saturday on its Twitter website.

Perry also fell short of the 10,000 signatures of registered voters required for a candidate’s name to be on the primary ballot, but former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul will be on the ballot.

State GOP spokesman Garren Shipley said volunteers spent Friday validating petitions that the four candidates submitted by the Thursday 5 p.m. deadline to the State Board of Elections. Shipley was not available early Saturday to discuss the announcement posted on the website.

Failing to get on the ballot will be a major setback for Gingrich, who has tried to use his recent upsurge in popularity to make up for a late organizing start. Ironically, Gingrich had a slight lead over Romney, with others farther back, in a Quinnipiac poll of Virginia Republicans released earlier in the week.

The load of catching up on organizing work and a lack of advertising money to counter an onslaught of negative ads from his rivals have been major disadvantages.

Gingrich had to leave New Hampshire on Wednesday and race to Virginia, where he needed 10,000 valid voters’ signatures to secure a spot on the ballot.

He said Wednesday he had enough ballot signatures, but he wanted to come to Virginia to deliver them personally. Taking no chances, his volunteers asked everyone to sign petitions before entering Gingrich’s rally Wednesday night in Arlington, just across the Potomac River from Washington.

Gingrich’s early-December rise in several polls gave him renewed hopes of carrying his campaign deep into the primary season. Failure to compete in Virginia, which is among the “Super Tuesday” primaries, would deal a huge blow to any contender who had not locked up the nomination by then.

The state party’s Shipley said the party was validating petitions the candidates submitted by the Thursday 5 p.m. deadline to the state elections board. It began validating signatures Friday morning.

The 10,000 registered voters must also include 400 signatures from each of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts.

It was unclear if Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum or former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman submitted petitions to the state board.

Meanwhile, Virginia’s Democrats said President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign gathered enough signatures to get him on the state’s primary ballot though he was the only candidate who qualified.

via Gingrich, Perry fail to make Va. ballot – CBS News.

Why you need an organization–and to be organized–to run for president!

UPDATE:  Bachman, Santorum, and Huntsman also failed to turn in enough petition signatures.   So my only choice will be between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul!

Gingrich, who is a resident of Virginia, is complaining that the state’s requirements are too onerous.  But in the last presidential primary in 2008 all six of the major Republican candidates made the ballot.  This just reinforces the impression that we have a competence problem in the current slate of candidates.

Gingrich is calling for a write-in campaign.  Too bad they are illegal in primary elections in Virginia.  Something else he should have known.  The state has 50 delegates, making it a big Super Tuesday prize, which will now go to either Romney or Paul.

I wonder if similar surprises await in other primary states.

Which of those two would you vote for?

Romney’s good deed

Kathleen Parker draws attention to something Romney did that he really deserves credit for:  When Rick Perry had his 53-second brain-freeze in which he forgot which agency he was going to shut down, Romney tried to help him.

The 53-second eternity has been replayed sufficiently, so we needn’t belabor the cringe-inducing amnesia of the 47th Texas governor. It was so bad that even disciples of schadenfreude ducked under their blankies and prayed for deliverance.

“Oops” was all that was left to Perry when he couldn’t recall the third agency he would stomp beneath the heel of his Texas boot. “I can’t,” he said when pressed by moderator John Harwood. “Oops.” . . .

As Perry was free-falling into the abyss of lost thoughts Wednesday night, he turned to his fellow contestants as if to say, “Please, someone, can’t you tell me what I think?”

Unhelpfully, Ron Paul suggested there were really five agencies he should cut. And then someone did try to help him, and this to me was the most memorable moment of the evening. From somewhere on the panel, a voice reached out to the struggling Texan, a suggestion that might help Perry gather himself and emerge from this utter humiliation.

The voice belonged to Mitt Romney. As Perry’s brain was hardening into arctic pack ice, Romney suggested that maybe the third agency he wanted to eliminate was the EPA. Yeah, that’s it! But no, it wasn’t. Pressed by Harwood, Perry said it wasn’t the EPA, but blast if he could remember what it was. (Later he said it was Energy.)

Romney’s suggestion when most of the others were squirmingly silent was an act of pure kindness and self-sacrificing generosity. It was not especially noticeable. But if you were Rick Perry in that moment, you were well aware that Romney was the one who tried to save you. When Perry finally said, “Oops,” it was Romney toward whom he looked.

Small, but not insignificant, this gesture of active empathy tells much about the man who extended it. He’s a nice guy in a season of nastiness, a trait that may also be his greatest political failing.

via A nice guy in a season of nastiness – The Washington Post.

She goes on to say that Romney’s niceness will hurt him because we are in a time of voter anger.  I would say, though, that anger doesn’t play all that well in a presidential election, which (I argue) is part of the problem with the rest of the candidates.  What voters yearn for is someone who can make them optimistic.  I’m not sure Romney can do that.  But still, I’ll give him credit for trying to help his opponent.

Perry’s last gaffe?

I didn’t watch the last Republican presidential candidate debate, but it sounds like Perry’s performance was out and out embarrassing:

On Wednesday night in Michigan, Perry said he would cut three agencies from the federal government but could only name two of them.

“Commerce, Education and the – what’s the third one there? Let’s see,” Perry said before his rivals volunteered the Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates pollution and is very unpopular with conservatives.

Later in the debate, Perry said he meant to say the Energy Department was the third agency he would eliminate. But it was too late. The awkard pause was out there for all to see.

via Perry: Debate gaffe won’t break my campaign – Political Hotsheet – CBS News.

Now who are you supporting?

“See how dumb I am” moments

Jennifer Rubin is a conservative.  But she is sick and tired of Republican candidates and office holders who flaunt their  ignorance and celebrate unintelligence:

Republicans have sometimes mistaken anti-elitism with anti-smarts. Put differently, Republicans should not have contempt for the voters or for ideas, lest they be judged unworthy of serving in office. It’s one thing to heap scorn on liberal elites who parrot unsupportable leftist dogma or who show contempt for ordinary Americans’ values; it’s quite another to celebrate ignorance.  We’ve had two rather appalling examples in 24 hours, which I would suggest, are perfect examples of what conservatives should reject.

After the Florida debate, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) on Fox passed on a comment from someone she purportedly spoke to after the debate who claimed that the HPV vaccine that Texas Gov. Rick Perry had attempted to make mandatory caused mental retardation. This is complete nonsense. . . .

Then today, Texas Gov. Rick Perry went to Liberty University. It was, at least in part, a celebration of ignorance. The Post’s reporter at the scene Phil Rucker tweeted some of the remarks. Jon Ward at Huffington Post likewise recorded some comments. Things started off on a poor note with Rev. Jerry Falwell Jr. praising Perry’s seccessionist remarks as “gutsy.” Are we to believe now that Perry was serious about secession? Then Perry, apparently deciding to make ads for the Obama campaign, came out with a series of “See how dumb I am?” one-liners. He observed that he needed to pull out a dictionary to see what “convocation” meant. The next knee-slapper: He didn’t have the grades to be a vet, so he became a pilot. And then the real howler: He was in the top 10 in a high school class of 13.

Yes, he was trying to be self-deprecating, but it’s disturbing to see that he thinks being a rotten student and a know-nothing gives one street cred in the GOP.  . . .

But what if, for example, a really smart Republican with a great track record, lots of policy ideas and the ability to counteract the stereotype of Republicans ran? Oh, maybe there already is one or two in the race. Maybe there could be more, and perhaps conservatives would be relieved not to have to make excuses for candidates who think ignorance is virtue and intelligence is a vice.

via GOP should not fall into the trap of being proudly ignorant – Right Turn – The Washington Post.

Now it turns out that Gov. Perry at Liberty University ended up giving a very personal, non-political account of his faith.  Good for him.

But what bothers me even more than conservatives who are or try to come across as ignorant and unintelligent are CHRISTIANS who are or try to come across as ignorant and unintelligent.

People who act this way are seldom as dumb as they present themselves, or, one would like to hope, they couldn’t have risen to their current stature in life.  They are joking, trying to be self-deprecating.  (Well, I think Mrs. Bachmann was just firing off the top of her head.)  But why is that attractive to some people?

Perry’s vaccination problem

Texas governor and GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry got hit hard in the recent debate over his executive order to vaccinate young girls against a sexually-transmitted disease.  My friend Rich Shipe was telling me even before Perry threw his hat in the ring that a lot of social conservatives oppose him for that reason.  Here is the story:

Four years ago, Gov. Rick Perry put aside his social conservative bona fides and signed an order requiring Texas girls to be vaccinated against HPV.

The human papillomavirus is a sexually spread virus that can cause cervical cancer, and he says his aim was protecting against that cancer. But it didn’t take long for angry conservatives in the Legislature to override a measure they thought tacitly approved premarital sex, and for critics to accuse Perry of cronyism.

Now Perry’s taking heat on the issue anew as he runs for the presidential nomination of a GOP heavily influenced by conservatives who are sour on the government dictating health care requirements. Illustrating the delicate politics at play, he’s both defending himself and calling his action a mistake.

“If I had it to do over again, I would have done it differently,” Perry said Tuesday night as he debated his rivals, insisting that he would have worked with the Legislature instead of unilaterally acting. But he did not back down from his stance that girls should be vaccinated against the virus, which is generally spread by sexual contact. He argued that it wasn’t a mandate and noted that he included the right for parents to opt out of the vaccinations.

“This was about trying to stop a cancer,” he said. “I am always going to err on the side of life.”

Not that the explanation satisfied his GOP opponents. . . .

It all began when Merck, which won approval for the first HPV vaccine a year earlier, was spending millions lobbying state legislators to require girls to be vaccinated with the new product, Gardasil. The company also was donating money to a national organization called Women in Government, which in Texas was led by state Rep. Dianne White Delisi, who chaired the House public health committee. She was also the mother-in-law of Perry’s chief of staff at the time, Deirdre Delisi — the same woman who now is one of Perry’s top presidential campaign aides.

Schedule and campaign finance reports show that on one day — Oct. 16, 2006 — Deirdre Delisi held a staff meeting to discuss the vaccine and Merck’s political action committee gave Perry $5,000. The drug maker had previously given $6,000 in donations. Perry’s office called the timing of the donation a coincidence.

A review of campaign finance reports shows that Merck’s political action committee continued to contribute, a total of $17,500 to Perry’s campaign fund between 2008 and 2010 even though Perry’s order was eventually overturned.

By early 2007, Toomey and Dianne White Delisi were working to overcome opposition among lawmakers to a bill to require the vaccination. But conservatives said they feared the requirement would infringe on personal liberties and signal approval of premarital sex. Rather than wait for the Legislature to act, Perry signed an executive order on Feb. 2, 2007, requiring the vaccination — with an opt-out provision. It surprised even his allies who acknowledged that it was out of step with his limited-government stance.

Perry explained his action by pointing to his long-documented passion about fighting cancer. He had signed a host of legislation to that end, including a constitutional amendment in Texas that created a cancer research institute funded with $3 billion from bond sales.

“We have a vaccine that’s going to save young women’s lives,” Perry said in 2007. “This is wise public policy.”

The governor quickly found that Texas parents didn’t like the idea of the government telling preadolescents to be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease. Within three weeks, the House public health committee approved a bill negating the order but Perry persisted in defending his initiative. By May 8, when it was clear the Legislature was going to pass the bill stopping his order, Perry said he would stop fighting.

via Perry facing new criticism for Texas vaccine order – CBS News.

What do you think about this?  Is there a legitimate “pro-life” reason to order a vaccine that might prevent deaths from cancer?  What about the appearance of “crony capitalism”?  If you disapprove of what the governor did, do you consider this a deal-breaker in your ability to support Perry?  Does that apply just to the primary, or also, if he becomes the Republican nominee, if he runs against President Obama?

HT:  Rich Shipe


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