Following the big Michigan and Arizona wins this week, the WSJ published an article titled, “Contest Shifts to Super Tuesday’s High Gear.” See excerpts here along with table illustrating the delegate count leading into next Tuesday:
Of course, by prevailing on Tuesday night, Mr. Romney also increases the stakes for his opponents. Mike DuHaime, a Republican strategist who managed Rudy Giuliani’s White House bid in 2008 and remains unaligned this year, said Mr. Romney’s win “creates a great deal of pressure on the other candidates to show strongly next week, or the pressure will mount for them to drop out so as not to unnecessarily drag out the process.”
Sen. Rob Portman, chairman of the Ohio Romney campaign, said he believed Mr. Romney would overtake Mr. Santorum after voters focus on his economic policies and message. “Mitt Romney will provide the type of conservative leadership that we need to spur economic growth and create jobs,” said Mr. Portman.
Looking ahead to Super Tuesday, Governor Romney won the Washington caucuses today by a healthy margin. The New York Times reported this:
The victory gives Mr. Romney some momentum heading into the big contests this week on Super Tuesday, when 10 states vote. With 81 percent of the Washington votes counted on Saturday night, Mr. Romney had won about 37 percent, with Mr. Paul at 25 percent, Mr. Santorum at 24 percent and Mr. Gingrich at 11 percent.
“The voters of Washington have sent a signal that they do not want a Washington insider in the White House,” Mr. Romney said in a statement as he campaigned in Ohio.
The article continues after referring to a Santorum comment as to how he would transform Ohio if elected (several more photos too):
But his onetime lead in the polls there has dissipated since Mr. Romney won Michigan. A Quinnipiac University poll conducted on Wednesday and Thursday showed Mr. Santorum and Mr. Romney in a dead heat.
Mr. Santorum also faces delegate issues in Ohio. He failed to file full slates in three of the state’s Congressional districts, so he is not eligible to compete for all of the state’s 48 bound delegates who are up for grabs.
Clearly Governor Romney has turned a corner this week. From everything I have read this week, there is no question that the tide has changed. Pundits are starting to speak more favorably of Governor Romney, and even with respect not seen before. A couple of days ago, Hugh Hewitt posted a great piece (“Romney and His Critics”) with a number of excellent links that I believe illustrate well this sea change. Hewitt closes with this:
The move towards Romney is broad and almost certainly irreversible, but also a small “d” democratic one, not a jam down by Beltway elites or a coup by super pacs. GOP voters want very much to win, are very energized, and will work around the clock to save the country from four more years of the most incompetent and also most fiercely ideological president of modern times.
The National Journal carried an article this week titled, “The Real Reason Romney is Winning” by Michael Hirsh. Of all the pundits and of all the reasoning I have heard these past many weeks, this summation of Governor Romney winning is by far the best:
For months now, the restless Republican search for a Not-Mitt — a Great Red Hope — has been described as the central dynamic of the GOP race. But I don’t think that is really the story. The real reason so many Republican primary voters are holding their noses, gritting their teeth and still voting for Romney is there’s simply no other qualified candidate who is running.
That is the real story.
Consider: One by one the would-be Not-Mitts have risen up, and one by one they have fallen (often helped along by intensive barrages of Romney Super PAC advertising) as it’s become clear that even the GOP base, as far-right as it is, can’t imagine them in the White House. Michele Bachmann was too crazed, Rick Perry too incompetent, Herman Cain too immoral (and his tax ideas too absurdly simplistic), and Newt Gingrich too hair-on-fire hypocritical and unstable. Ron Paul’s role has been not unlike that of the jester in a Shakespearian play; everyone likes having him around to utter counter-conventional wisdom, but no one can imagine him replacing the king. Alone of those running against Romney, Jon Huntsman seemed clearly qualified, but he was also clearly too compromised (by his ambassador service to Obama).
The rise of the latest Not-Mitt, Rick Santorum, and what is likely now to be his inexorable decline, is following the same pattern. No one took Santorum seriously in the beginning because his run seemed self-indulgent at best. Here was a senator who was trounced by 18 points in 2006, hadn’t served for six years while racking up millions as an influence peddler (sorry, “consultant”) and, even when he was in the Senate, was disliked by his fellow Republicans as well as Democrats for his zealotry, incivility and inability to talk reasonably. (“That Rick is scary,” one former GOP lawmaker recalls his wife saying after they left a fund-raising event together.)
Santorum did very well in the debates — the central factor in these roller-coaster GOP polls– as long as the focus was on Romney’s flaws as a conservative. But as with Newt’s penchant for rocketing off into grandiose flights of nonsense (his moon colony remark in Florida was probably the beginning of the end for him), it was only a matter of time before the Santorum that his colleagues knew and never loved –the one almost no one could imagine as president– reappeared.
TURNING TO GEORGIA — It is my hope that Governor Romney win the State of Georgia. That is unlikely right now with Gingrich showing a double-digit lead there after his camping out in his native state for weeks now. Let me put it this way: If Governor Romney were to win both Ohio and Georgia Tuesday — Katie bar the doors! The race would be over. Virtually, any Republican of any stature that were to call for Santorum and Gingrich to drop out so that Romney could preserve the war chest, would likely be followed by a chorus of GOP heavies doing the same. So yes, I think Georgia is very important for Governor Romney — it is obviously critical to Gingrich. But even if Gov. Romney were to come in a tight second place to Gingrich, there would be calls for Gingrich to drop, especially if Gingrich’s showing in the other states were in the third or fourth slots.
The Journal ran with this front page article this week, “Strong Views of Gingrich In District He Represented” by Elizabeth Williamson. In it, several people that knew and know Gingrich well, have said they are either not going to vote for him or they are having second thoughts. Consider:
Patricia Carter taught Newt Gingrich’s daughter in first grade and worked for years to get him elected to Congress. Now, as Mr. Gingrich banks on the South to revive his presidential hopes, she doesn’t plan to vote for him, still stung by memories of his walking out on his first wife three decades ago.
Carrollton, Mr. Gingrich’s political birthplace, is his political challenge writ small. Some here revere him as a brash visionary capable of transforming Washington; others think of him as a political opportunist who “went Washington,” leaving the town to round up canned goods for his struggling ex-wife and daughters.
Over two months, his Republican support in Georgia has eroded, from plus-50% of voters to about 34% in recent polls. That puts him potentially within reach for Rick Santorum, who has surged to 25% backing by Georgia Republicans from near-zero in December, and Mitt Romney, who has doubled his Georgia support to above 21%.
Joanne Harwell recalls the night the following year when Mr. Gingrich told her and her husband, First Baptist Church pastor Brantley Harwell, that he was divorcing his wife.
They were shocked. Mr. Gingrich taught Sunday school and was a deacon in the church. The two families frequently barbecued together. (Mr. Gingrich “could cook hamburgers, read a book and talk to you all at the same time,” Ms. Harwell says.) Mr. Gingrich’s daughter Kathy was dating the Harwells’ son Blake at the time. And Jackie Gingrich was battling cancer.
Ms. Harwell says she and Mr. Gingrich talked all night, “but his mind was made up. He said he no longer had need of a mother.”
She says that was the last the couple heard from him. Mr. Harwell died in July. Mr. Gingrich didn’t attend the funeral, Ms. Harwell says. She doesn’t plan to vote for him in the primary.
Likely GOP voters nationwide ranked Mr. Romney above Mr. Gingrich on “having high personal standards that set the proper moral tone for the country,” in a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll in January. It showed 67% giving Mr. Romney a ranking of good (and 10% a poor one) on that score, while about a third ranked Mr. Gingrich as good and another one-third as poor.
The Romney campaign made clear in December it was trying to draw a contrast between the Romneys’ four-decade union and Mr. Gingrich’s three marriages. Romney supporters were told privately that the campaign didn’t intend to attack Mr. Gingrich over these matters head-on but would talk about Mr. Romney’s life experience and marriage as a contrast to his then-leading rival. Billboards on I-20 into Carrollton, once a sleepy college and manufacturing town but now a fast-growing Atlanta exurb, urge Georgians to learn more about Mr. Romney’s faith by logging onto “Mormon.org.”
As you read the following excerpt from the article, think of the life of Governor Romney; where he has lived, those with whom he has served, the communities he has served, etc. Has the word “rationalize” ever been used in the same sentence with Governor Romney? Not even. I find it fascinating how so many people are trying so hard to prop up people like Gingrich and Santorum so that they look good for President!
Mr. Steely suggested putting Mr. Gingrich’s personal dramas into perspective. “Life’s not easy,” he said. “There are times when you are faced with things where you know better, but you rationalize it until it seems like the only thing that you can do.”
Remember, Carrollton is the town the article describes as Gingrich’s “political birthplace.” It’s importance in understanding the man cannot be over-emphasized. As you read the following excerpt, remember that Gingrich is a fabulously wealthy man now:
Some of the most sensitive conversations surround the town’s efforts to assist Mrs. Gingrich after the couple split. She returned to Carrollton from Washington with their two daughters and for much of 1980 pursued a court case to force Mr. Gingrich to pay a greater share of his family’s expenses. Church and political leaders collected staples and canned goods for her. The daughters got filing and janitorial jobs at the First Baptist Church to earn pocket money.
Some in Carrollton are unhappy that Mr. Gingrich has mentioned his daughters’ church work on the stump. He has talked about it in support of his proposal that children on welfare get jobs—”a way to help poor children have a chance to learn work habits,” as he put it in January.
Interesting angle from a former political foe:
Mr. Johnson, the Democratic former state legislator, stood on his porch beneath an early-blooming magnolia tree on a recent day and recalled contributing $100 to a collection for Jackie Gingrich, taken up on the floor of the Georgia state house after the couple separated.
Mr. Johnson ran unsuccessfully against Mr. Gingrich for Congress in 1984. At a debate in Carrollton during the campaign, he says, the first question for him came from a friend of Jackie Gingrich’s, asking “why wasn’t I using Newt’s divorce against him.”
Mr. Johnson says he replied that he was trying to stick to the issues. Mr. Johnson says he likes to think Mr. Gingrich would have spared him a personal attack, as well. “But Newt today would not, probably,” he added.
Rufus and JoAnn Dixon, married 58 years and members of Mr. Gingrich’s former church, reflect the range of sentiment toward Mr. Gingrich in his political hometown.
According to Ms. Dixon, some women at church are saying of Mr. Gingrich that because of the divorce, they wouldn’t “vote for him if he’s the last man on the ballot.”
For herself, “I’d vote for Romney,” she said.
My contention all along in comparing Governor Romney to any and all of the current and previous GOP candidates is that his decades of brilliantly successful executive leadership, in many different venues, makes him vastly superior to them all.
That said, I have never heard any person that has ever known Mitt Romney ever say they don’t like him or that they would not vote for him because of some character flaw. None.
Contrast that with Newt Gingrich and from those that knew him best from his own hometown!
“Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character.” — Heraclitus
“A man’s character is his guardian divinity.” — Heraclitus
“People with courage and character always seem sinister to the rest.” — Hermann Hesse