Iowa Begins to Take Shape, Mitt Romney Hires Campaign Director

Remember a couple of months ago when conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt asked Gov Romney about competing in Iowa? Romney’s answer was clear: “If I decide to run, I’ll be planning on running nationwide… […]And that surely will take me to Iowa as well as the other early states…”

Iowa, things are shaping up!

The Gov has hired Sara Craig, a former 2008 aide, to head his Hawkeye State campaign:

Sara Craig, previously Romney’s central Iowa field director, will direct his state campaign beginning next month.

The hiring of a day-to-day manager in Iowa offers the best evidence yet that, while he wants to lower expectations in Iowa, Romney still intends to mount a full campaign there.

The former Massachusetts governor hasn’t visited the first-in-the-nation state since stumping for Gov. Terry Branstad last October, but his staffing up signals that a return trip will take place in the near future.
But Romney retains a strong following in the state and early polls show him at or close to the top. He won 30,000 votes in the 2008 caucuses and carried a slew of counties, performing particularly strong in more moderate eastern Iowa. And as the nearest thing the GOP has to a frontrunner, it would be an indication of weakness if he attempts to pick and choose which states he plays in.
The hiring of Craig enables Romney to ramp up enough to begin doing the sort of organizing necessary to have an infrastructure in place for the caucuses. But it also reflects a campaign determined to stay leaner this time around.

(my emphasis) Read entire article here.

Ms. Craig is currently a consultant at RedWave Communications.

Through his endorsements and campaign contributions last year, Romney had a significant impact on Iowa State Senate and House midterm elections last fall. He was a strong supporter for then-candidate Terry Brandstad (now Governor Brandstad) and many other candidates.

UPDATE: Here’s new video of Romney speaking yesterday to folks filling their gas tanks at Hillsborough Gas & Repair in Manchester, New Hampshire:

UPDATE 2:In case you missed the Presidential Summit on Spending and Job Creation sponsored by Americans for Prosperity (4/29/11) here are the entire proceedings:

AFP Foundation Presidential Summit from AFPhq on Vimeo.

Governor Romney’s intro begins @ 37:04.

H/t to Paulee for gas station video.

► Jayde Wyatt

LIVE FEED: Mitt Romney Speaks Today at ‘Americans for Prosperity’ Presidential Summit in NH (April 29, 2011)

It’s happening tonight in Manchester, New Hampshire!

As Americans limp through our anemic economy, many eyes will turn tonight at 8:00 PM EST to hear Governor Mitt Romney speak at the Presidential Summit on Spending and Job Creation hosted by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation. AFP is a limited government advocacy group. Others also slated to speak are: Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Rick Santorum.

UPDATE – Here’s the entire proceedings from Americans for Prosperity:

Governor Romney’s intro begins @ 37:04.

Romney right-hand-man, Eric Fehrnstrom, sent the following TwitPic taken earlier today of Mitt at Hillsborough Gas & Repair in Manchester:

Drew Cline, Editorial Page Editor at the NH Union Leader tweeted this:

Romney asked a lot of questions of customers @ gas station. Seemed genuinely interested. Connected well. Investor skills at work. #FITNless than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

Looks like The Gov was on the ground early… talking with folks about high gas prices and sharing a laugh about Obama’s energy plan or, lack thereof…

Additional links:
Romney Gets Pumped Up
Republican Romney blames Obama for gas prices

► Jayde Wyatt

Mitt Romney: The Best Hope to Beat Obama

The Daily Caller has an excellent article on why Mitt Romney is the best candidate to defeat Obama in 2012.

Democrats know they have an an uphill battle getting reelected in 2012 but they think they have an awesome strategy in getting a second term for Obama:

Earlier this week, Obama’s reelection campaign manager Jim Messina made it clear “that Democrats couldn’t rely on their 2008 game plan to win a second term for Obama in 2012.” As Messina describes it, one of the keys to winning in 2012 is for Obama is to “[e]expand the electorate.”

Their ‘awesome plan’ may be difficult to implement because Mitt Romney is actually shrinking Obama’s electoral map:

“Ironically, there is one GOP presidential frontrunner who is currently expanding the electoral map on Team Obama — Mitt Romney.”

How is Romney shrinking Obama’s electoral map? It’s due to his strong appeal among Independents:

But there is one item that usually escapes the casual political handicapper: Romney’s appeal among independents. This group, which swung to Obama in 2008 and then to the GOP’s congressional candidates in 2010, will be the single most important voting block for either party in 2012. In two battleground states that had been trending blue — Michigan and New Hampshire — Romney has, at times, led President Obama in a hypothetical general election match-up largely because of his appeal among these voters.

Several polls show that Romney is also leading Obama in Florida, a state that is essentially a political microcosm of all the battleground states and a state that the eventual GOP nominee cannot lose if Republicans have any hope of winning the White House in 2012.

The entire purpose of having primaries is for candidates to make their case that they are the best person to WIN in a general election. Every Republican candidate who plans on running in 2012 knows they need the Independent vote to win. Other candidates will argue that they are in the best position to defeat Barak Obama, but they may come up short when it comes to backing such claims with facts.

Mitt Romney is the best person who can make the case that he can defeat Obama and actually back up that claim.

~ Jared A.

~Update from Ross
Need any more evidence that Team Obama is worried about Mitt Romney? Democrats are filing a frivolous lawsuit to hurt Mitt. Check out this awesome quote:

“This is transparently political,” Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said of the NHDP filing with the Federal Election Commission. “For those wondering what the Obama jobs plan entails, it apparently involves hiring more lawyers at the FEC to handle frivolous complaints filed by his minions.”

Mitt Romney: A Bigger Man Than I

I found this video today of Mitt Romney speaking at the NRA convention in Louisville, Kentucky back in May of 2008. He spoke in behalf of John McCain, a few months after bowing out of the 2008 GOP Presidential primary race in support of McCain.

I can remember at the time how disappointed I was and that how I was not a fan of McCain who I felt ran a dirty campaign. I can still remember how hard it was for me to vote for him in the general election.

This post isn’t about that, this is about the character of Mitt Romney who could have just as easily walked away after the primaries and left McCain to fend for himself. I know I would have. Romney didn’t.

He knew what was in store for America as he points out in the following video of that speech he made at the NRA. He was doing everything in his power to keep Obama from winning the Presidency. I still share the vision of America he spoke of here:

Moving the Needle; Why Some Conservatives Disingenuously Reject Romney

Recently, columnist David Frum stated:

2012 is shaping up as an all-out battle between big donors and local activists, with the big donors coalesced around Romney and the local activists increasingly desperately shopping for somebody – anybody – else.

Others have phrased it differently . . . that Romney’s become “The Establishment” candidate, while many strong conservatives are looking for an “Anti-Establishment” candidate to rally around.  Having seen this narrative develop over the last couple years has been both interesting and confusing to me, especially in light of what transpired in the 2008 GOP primary.

John McCain was the Establishment candidate last cycle, with Mitt running as a Washington outsider.  Mitt even was viewed by most as “the Conservative Alternative” to McCain.  Mitt garnered the endorsements of most conservative pundits, power-brokers, and politicians.  Just a preliminary list included Sen Jim DeMint (SC), Sen. Judd Gregg (NH), Ann Coulter, James Bopp Jr., Sen. Orrin Hatch (UT), Judge Robert Bork, Sean Hannity, David Keene (Chariman of the American Conservatives Union), Paul Weyrich (founder of The Heritage Foundation), Bay  Buchanan, Bob Jones III, Sen. Thad Cochran (MS), Laura Ingraham, Sen. Wayne Allard (CO), Rush Limbaugh, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (TN), Rick Santorum, Mark Levin, Rep Connie Mack IV (FL), Hugh Hewitt, Jay Sekulow, William Bennett, Lars Larson, Sherriff Joe Arpaio (R-AZ), Dennis Prager, Ross Perot, and Glenn Beck  . . . an impressive list that serves as a “Who’s Who” of the conservative community.

By most accounts, McCain was not a good nominee for the GOP and did not run a particularly effective campaign.  Others argue that no GOP nominee could have beat Obama under the circumstances of “Bush Fatigue” and a crashing economy.  Whatever the reason, “The Establishment” woke up after the terrible losses of 2008 and realized that running a moderate DC insider with “get along” politics is no way to win the presidency (a la Bob Dole, John Kerry, and Al Gore to name just a few).  There was quite a bit of “wish we would have nominated Romney” feeling going around at the time.

What happened is that “The Establishment” wisened up and moved it’s support for this cycle to the right of McCain by gravitating towards DC-Outsider Mitt Romney.   But in a knee-jerk and rather childish reaction to mounting establishment support for Romney, many anti-establishment types (I’m looking at you Talk Radio and conservative blogsites like HotAir and RedState!!) have thereby rejected Romney due to said establishment support.  It’s as if they’re saying:

“We cannot support any candidate that has the support of ‘The Establishment.’  We don’t care that he’s never worked in DC, that he’s too rich to be bought by lobbyists, that he’s the strongest candidate to match up with Obama (as poll after poll shows), nor that we supported him in 2008 and that he hasn’t done anything since that time to become ‘less conservative.”  By darn, if ‘The Establishment’ likes him, we cannot accept him and we KNOW that SOMETHING must be wrong with him!  (we’ll get back to you when we finally figure out what that ‘something’ is.)”

Now, some will be quick to say that the big difference this time is “RomneyCare” . . . that Mitt proved that he’s no true conservative because that legislation included an “individual mandate” on purchasing health insurance.  Oh, you mean that law that was crafted in 2004-5 and passed in 2006 with the support of The Heritage Foundation and loads of conservatives and was the topic of discussion in the debates leading up to the 2008 election?  The RomneyCare that didn’t seem to hamper your support and endorsement of him last time?   Excuse me while I scratch my head  for a while . . .

Observers have seen this anti-establishment community jump around in their preferred candidate between Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, and have even seen some flirtations with Donald Trump, Michelle Bachmann, and Mitch Daniels (the latter is ironically much more of a DC insider and “establishment” guy than Mitt ever was).  Tim Pawlenty hasn’t seemed to catch on with hardly anyone, but many have him at the back of their minds just in case none of these other “anti-establishment” candidates pan out.  It’s almost as if they know that broad-based support will eventually coalesce around Romney, but that they just can’t bring themselves to get on board yet because of pride.  That they’re instead pimping and pumping up ANYBODY else they can think of in order to put off the inevitable time when they’ll have to swallow their pride and get back on the Romney train.

Yes, there’s no doubt that the needle has been moved to the right over the past four years.  But there is no logical reason that Romney should not have the strong support from the conservative community that he enjoyed last time.  Those orchestrating these machinations are being both prideful and disingenuous.

Strong Polling for Romney in South Carolina . . . Don’t Rule Out A Romney Win There Either

Those who follow primary elections closely realize that all candidates (irrespective of national polling or popularity . . . I’m looking at you Giuliani 2008 and Trump 2012!) require “a path to the nomination” with regards to performances in the early voting states.  There are some old maxims like “Three tickets out of Iowa; Two tickets out of New Hampshire” or “whoever wins South Carolina wins the nomination” that usually hold true. 

Interestingly Iowa and New Hampshire rarely produce the same winners, showing that the Granite State voters don’t seem to care one lick about who Iowa voters choose.   Huckabee won Iowa last time, but was a DISTANT 3rd in NH at only 11% . . . three times less votes than 2nd place Romney received (32%).  South Carolina voters, however, traditionally are more strongly swayed by the performances in preceding states, and, although they end up choosing the eventual winner almost without fail, SC polls prior to the IA & NH contests are not very good predictors of who will actually win SC.  “Momentum” cannot be underestimated.  Nevada is newer in the mix as an early state, and promises to get more press and ‘weight” for the winner this time around than it did last cycle. 

Most have noticed the 2012 strategy for Romney is de-emphasizing Iowa and South Carolina while focusing on New Hampshire and Nevada.  Iowa has a history of unpredictability (see 2008) and conventional wisdom holds that a Mormon governor from Massachusetts has his work cut out for him in South Carolina.  However, conventional wisdom may be wrong.

On the heels of some solid polling for Mitt in Iowa, recent polling out of South Carolina is VERY good news for  Romney and his supporters.  Two polls came out yesterday (here and here) and are pretty darn consistent in showing that Romney is in a statistical tie for first place with Huckabee.

ARG results:

  • Mike Huckabee 20%
  • Mitt Romney 18%
  • Donald Trump 13%
  • Sarah Palin 10%
  • Newt Gingrich 9%
  • (all others at 5% or below)

    Winthrop University Results:

  • Mike Huckabee 17.8%
  • Mitt Romney 16.1%
  • Donald Trump 9.9%
  • Sarah Palin 8.6%
  • Newt Gingrich 8.1%
  • Chris Christie 6.2%
  • (all others at 3% or below)
  • Some key takeaways:

    Click here to continue reading

    Mitt Romney ‘On The Record’ with Greta Van Susteren: Talks Gas Prices (VIDEO)

    This tweet from Governor Romney earlier today was welcome news:

    Looking forward to discussing my op-ed on S&P credit warning w/ @gretawire tonight on @foxnews at 10 pm EDT than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

    Among the topics discussed, Romney spoke ‘On The Record’ with Greta Van Susteren about Obama’s failures – his Stimulus Bill that stiffed taxpayers and only created a few government jobs, Obama’s refusal to allow America to be energy self-sufficient, i.e. the President’s decisions that are making Americans gasp and groan at the gas pump, our indebtedness to China, illegal immigration, and the presidential race for 2012 (Donald Trump).


    Romney: Obama White House Downplaying ‘Giant Wake-up Call’, talks gas prices

    You have to have an energy policy that says America is going to develop our own energy resources, as well as developing those renewable sources that – frankly – are important to us, but simply CAN’T POWER OUR CARS.” -Mitt Romney

    OPEN THREAD on GretaWire; to share your opinion of her guests tonight, click here.

    ► Jayde Wyatt

    Haley Barbour Out of 2012 Presidential Race

    Here is the statement that was posted on his website:

    Gov. Haley Barbour

    Gov. Haley Barbour

    I will not be a candidate for president next year. This has been a difficult, personal decision, and I am very grateful to my family for their total support of my going forward, had that been what I decided.

    “Hundreds of people have encouraged me to run and offered both to give and raise money for a presidential campaign. Many volunteers have organized events in support of my pursuing the race. Some have dedicated virtually full time to setting up preliminary organizations in critical, early states and to helping plan what has been several months of intensive activity.

    “I greatly appreciate each and every one of them and all their outstanding efforts. If I have disappointed any of them in this decision, I sincerely regret it.

    “A candidate for president today is embracing a ten-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else. His (or her) supporters expect and deserve no less than absolute fire in the belly from their candidate. I cannot offer that with certainty, and total certainty is required.

    “This decision means I will continue my job as Governor of Mississippi, my role in the Republican Governors Association and my efforts to elect a new Republican president in 2012, as the stakes for the nation require that effort to be successful.

    Hopefully David Frum is right, and Barbour’s withdrawal boosts Romney.

    Gov. Mitt Romney’s First Letter to Us Since Forming an Exploratory Committee

    As a donor to Gov. Mitt Romney in the past, I received this letter in the mail and altered it to apply to all of us. It’s obviously very important that Gov. Romney raises a lot of money to catch up as quickly as possible to the enormous and potentially unprecedented campaign President Obama is assembling.

    There has been a lot of speculation lately about the 2012 Presidential Election.

    I have officially taken the first step to run for President of the United States by filing a Presidential Campaign Exploratory Committee.

    Obviously, running for President is a huge undertaking and it’s not a decision I take lightly.

    In this campaign, I need the strong early support of friends like you.

    As part of this exploratory process, I am gauging support and need to know if you’re behind me. What we do in these early weeks will lay the groundwork for a successful campaign.

    Will you do me the honor of pledging your early support to our Exploratory Committee by contributing $20.12, $50, $100, or some other amount?

    I believe in America — in free enterprise, capitalism, limited government, and federalism. I believe in the American dream. I believe that the principles that made America the leader of the world today are the very principles that will keep America the leader of the world tomorrow. And I wholeheartedly believe that America needs unapologetic conservative leadership.

    Our country is facing an economic crises and an increasingly uncertain world. Our President has failed us. It’s become painfully clear that he does not believe in America and that lack of faith in our American values and way of life has made us weaker and less free.

    I do not apologize for America because I “Believe in America”!

    Once I officially announce my decision to run, we will need to hit the ground running. The best way to do that is to have a head start on fundraising.

    Establishing the Exploratory Committee is the first step in the process of becoming a candidate. I am excited to embark on this journey and need you by my side every step of the way.

    Mitt Romney

    Show Mitt the Money!

    Mitt Romney has announced his Exploratory Committee! Though we don’t know the details we are certain that a big kick-off fundraiser will occur some time in May. In 2007, Gov. Romney’s campaign raised a record-breaking $6.5 million in a single day! Can we help break Mitt’s record this time around? We want to do our part to help make this a huge event for Mitt. PLEASE click here to make your pledge and we’ll contact you on that hopefully record-making day so you can be a part of history!

    New Op-Ed from Mitt: Obama is Not Serious About America’s Financial Health

    Gov. Romney has posted a new op-ed on his Facebook page before it has even been posted on the New Hampshire Union Leader’s site. This is the first time I can remember Mitt making his Facebook page the only place to read one of his op-eds even if it will only be for a short time. When Mitt announced his exploratory committee with a tweet, Facebook post, and YouTube video, we noticed, and now this is another example that is indicating Gov. Romney’s campaign is going to be very savvy and comfortable with all of the new media that many other campaigns are struggling to utilize properly.

    Anyway, the new op-ed is called Obama is Not Serious About America’s Financial Health, and if you listened to any of Gov. Romney’s radio interviews last week, you’re probably familiar with Mitt’s argument. If not, make sure to read it for yourself. I’ve lost count at how many times Gov. Romney has pointed out what should’ve been obvious to the current administration and to the majority of the media. Sometimes the issues seem to complicated for the media to tackle, but Mitt has a way of boiling down the issue to a simple and understandable argument that will make him a great President. It sure will be refreshing after 4 years of our current president who muddles up issues rather than clarifying them.

    Since Gov. Romney is scheduled to be on Greta tonight, I bet some of the conversation will be on this op-ed, so don’t miss it.

    Governor Mitt Romney – ON THE RECORD at 10pm / Monday: Make sure you watch…… than a minute ago via PerlTweeter Favorite Retweet Reply

    UPDATE by Jayde – The Wall Street Journal has published an article on Gov Romney’s op-ed today:

    The average voter probably doesn’t pay as much attention to the bond market as Mitt Romney does, but that didn’t stop the former Massachusetts governor from using a threatened downgrade of U.S. debt as a chance to criticize President Barack Obama.

    In an op-ed in Monday’s Union Leader in Manchester, N.H., the former Massachusetts governor accused the president and his top advisers of downplaying the news last week that Standard & Poor’s had lowered its outlook for U.S. debt for the first time since it began those appraisals in 1941.

    (my emphasis) Read more here.