National Journal’s inaugural presidential power ranking puts Mitt on top

National Journal is sort of a trade rag for politicos, and they have officially kicked off their coverage of the 2012 GOP primary horserace with their inaugural “Presidential Power Ranking.”  It looks like it ranks a pretty long list of potential contenders based on a qualitative assessment of each candidate’s financial wherewithal, campaign infrastructure, policy/track record strengths, and weaknesses of a potential candidacy.  You can see the full rankings here.

They break up the list of contenders into four groups:  The “A-list Tier,” “Fox News Tier,” “Governor/VP/’16 Tier,” and “Tea Party Tier.”  National Journal ranks Mitt as #1 overall and at the top of the “A-list.”  Here’s their color commentary:

The GOP has a history of nominating the person who has stood in line, and after finishing second behind John McCain in 2008, Romney is now that person. He’s got the necessary infrastructure, fundraising ability, and intangibles to be the undisputed front-runner, but how convincingly he answers nagging questions about his individual mandate in Commonwealth Care will determine how long he keeps the top spot.

Mitt’s approach this time around has been very interesting to watch.  It seems to me that he is keeping his head down and trying to avoid the limelight.  For example, he was nowhere to be seen across the pundit-ocracy on Election Night, and he declined to be profiled in Fox News’s ongoing series about 12 potential contenders for 2012.

I can understand this approach as I think that Mitt may have peaked to early last time around when he won the Iowa Straw Poll, and expectations got set extremely high. This time, Mitt seems to be trying to play it under the radar until farther along in the process.  Given that this is his second run and he is a known quantity, it is a logical approach.

In any case, assessments this early in the process mean next to nothing (remember Rudy?), but click on over to the National Journal article to see who else they’ve highlighted and what they are saying about the GOP field.

New Polling Shows Mitt Romney in a Dead Heat Against Obama

Usual caveats…it’s early and these polls don’t really mean anything yet…etc.

Having said that, Fox News/Opinion Dynamics just released an interesting poll where, among other questions, they tested a variety of potential 2012 match ups.  There’s a bunch of data here, and some interesting questions about independent runs by Hilary Clinton and Mike Bloomberg, so click through if you’re interested.  Sticking to the headline, however, here are the key Obama vs. Republican match ups they tested and how each one did:

  • BHO vs. Mitt Romney:  41% vs. 40%
  • BHO vs. Mike Huckabee:  43% vs. 40%
  • BHO vs. Jeb Bush:  45% vs. 37%
  • BHO vs. Sarah Palin:  48% vs. 35% (the only Republican who would lose Independents)
  • BHO vs. “Tea Party” Candidate:  43% vs. 32%
  • BHO vs. Chris Christie:  42% vs. 30%

Both Huckabee and Mitt are within the 3% margin of error, but Mitt is the closest based his strength with both Republicans and Independents.

Again, caveat emptor when it comes to polls 18 months out, but it’s great to see Mitt polling well at this stage of the game.

h/t:  Hotair

Mitt Polls Most Favorably Among Undecideds – PPP (UPDATED)

I’ve always taken Public Policy Polling’s (PPP’s) data with a grain of salt as they are perceived as left-leaning.  That said, I think their results have generally been fairly reliable in the past (vs. say, Zogby).  Caveats out of the way, I noticed a very interesting poll result that bodes well for a potential Romney candidacy.

You can read the full write-up here.  They don’t provide raw data or cross tabs, so here’s the summary.  PPP asked voters nationwide who are undecided about their vote in the upcoming congressional election their favorable vs. unfavorable perception of a range of politicians.  The breakdown of the undecided population was 14% Democratic, 21% Republican, and a whopping 65% Independent.   Below is a list of the politicians they asked about, and the resulting Unfavorable rating:

Democrats:

  • Barack Obama – 44% Unfavorable
  • Hillary Clinton – 31%
  • Michelle Obama – 28%
  • Bill Clinton – 39%

Republicans:

  • Sarah Palin – 65% (Highest among all politicians tested)
  • Glenn Beck and Newt Gingrich - 41%
  • Mike Huckabee – 33%
  • Mitt Romney – 25% (Lowest among all politicians tested)

 

Of course, 2012 is still a long way away, but it is clear that 1) Sarah Palin is a double edged sword…great currency within the Republican Party, but extremely challenged outside, and 2) as of now, Mitt has the best chance of winning votes among Independents.

Separately, Mitt is doing a webcast at the Heritage Foundation in about 45 min at 3:45pm EDT.  I don’t know if there are any membership requirements for participating (I am a member), but just in case, try clicking over to Heritage at 3:45 PM and check it out.

UPDATE:

Reader Doug NYC GOP has posted a related article over at Right-o-Sphere which I would highly recommend.  He covers some additional polling data which shows that Mitt is leading the early polling even among the Tea Partiers, which is great news!

David French of EFM on why Romney-care is no Obama-care

evangelicals for mitt logoI consider Evangelicals for Mitt (EFM) one of the best pro-Mitt blogs out there.  They think deeply, write persuasively, and convey as strong a sense of personality and fun as I’ve seen on the blog-o-sphere.

David French, lawyer, veteran, and public servant extraordinaire, has penned what I think is one of the most punchy and persuasive explanations of the differences between what Mitt did in Massachusetts and the PelObaReiDemocratic monstrosity recently inflicted upon our nation.

This is an issue that I have certainly been struggling with, and I know many of you have been too.  So I’d recommend that you click over to EFM and read the whole thing.  I don’t think this will be the final word by any means, but it is an excellent start, and I would like to thank David for getting the ball rolling on disentangling fact from fiction, attacks from actuality, and reason from ridiculousness.

Mitt Ramping Up for 2012?

Allahpundit poses this question over at Hot Air. He bases this question on a blog posting by Ben Smith over at Politico indicating that Matt Rhodes, one of Mitt’s top staffers from the 2008 team, has taken over the Executive Director spot at Mitt’s Free and Strong America PAC.

I think most of us have been anticipating Mitt running again in 2012 (hence this blog). This development serves to reinforce our sense of anticipation. I am very excited about this prospect as I continue to believe that Mitt would be a great President, and that we need him now more than ever.

What I am not excited about, however, is the intra-party strife which will certainly arise from the primary season. By contrast, Allah is licking his chops over the possibility of a Mitt vs. Sarah vs. Huck cage match:

Just from the perspective of blogworthy content, I’m thrilled. A Huck vs. Palin race would be fascinating, but having Mitt in the mix all but guarantees a “centrist elites vs. populist conservatives” storyline for the nomination. Can’t. Wait.

Centrist?! The emerging meme of Mitt as some squishy “Obama in GOP clothing” centrist has been showing up more and more frequently. Having spent most of the 2008 primary season on the front lines of the blogosphere debunking false accusations and willful misrepresentations, I am dreading the coming onslaught from the mainstream media and whomever the primary opponents will ultimately be. Not because it is not a worthy cause, but rather, fighting these battles cause a type of pain akin to hitting your head against a wall over and over again with nothing to show for it (at least that’s what it feels like sometimes).

There will be plenty of time to make our case and debunk the myths. For now, let’s steel ourselves for what we know is coming. The time isn’t quite here yet, but it looks like it may be coming and we’re one step closer today.

The Massachusetts Miracle and the Healthcare Conundrum

Kim Strassel of the Wall Street Journal writes a fair and generally positive piece about the implications of Scott Brown’s Massachusetts Miracle on Mitt’s presidential aspirations.  First, the good:

Mr. Romney got his due on election night. He was the first political figure Mr. Brown thanked for helping “show us the way to victory.” Romney allies had already been busy touting his role. “There’s no one who has done more behind the scenes and in front of the scenes than Mitt,” Republican National Committee member Ron Kaufman told Politico—two days before the election.

By midweek, the political pundits decreed Mr. Romney the other big winner. Some went so far as to credit him with the 41st vote, potentially saving the nation from ObamaCare.

Okay…so far so good, but she continues:

For all the benefits this contest held for the former governor, it also churned up what will prove the biggest obstacle to Romney 2012.

Mr. Brown brazenly turned his Senate bid into a referendum on President Obama’s health plan, and voters rewarded him with a job. Yet ObamaCare’s model was the health reform inflicted on Massachusetts by a certain Republican governor in 2006, otherwise known as RomneyCare.

That precursor shares many elements of Washington’s legislation, from an individual mandate, to employer taxes, to subsidized middle-class insurance. The program has bombed, creating giant costs while realizing minimal benefits. A big reason only 25% of Massachusetts voters strongly approve of ObamaCare is because of this experience.

The state plan has become a millstone for Mr. Romney, yet he has refused to disavow it. Had he campaigned with Mr. Brown he’d have undoubtedly been asked about it, and undoubtedly given an answer as unsatisfying as those to date.

Before I go on, let me assure our readers that I write this as a staunch supporter of Mitt.  Over the 2008 election cycle, I wrote  hundreds of pro-Mitt blog postings, personally raised thousands of dollars from friends, family, and my own pocketbook, phone banked for hours, served as a surrogate speaker to crowds numbering in the hundreds as well as to the media, and was selected to be a delegate to the national convention from my congressional district.

Despite my deeply held support, I have wondered about the criticism leveled at Mitt regarding “Romneycare.”  I would echo Strassel’s sentiment that Mitt’s rebuttals to date have been “unsatisfying.”

I’m confident that Mitt and his team are thinking through the right way to address this issue.  In the meanwhile, I am anxious to hear what they will have to say, and would love to hear this addressed sooner than later.  The simple explanation is that while Romneycare made progress in certain areas, it is flawed in other ways, and that based on this experience Mitt would do x, y, and z differently were he to do it over again.  He should also emphasize the role that the Heritage Foundation played in formulating the plan.  And finally, he should highlight those facets of the plan which were pushed through by the reality of Massachusetts’s fundamentally liberal electorate and set those apart from the aspects of the plan which he personally supported.

The Strassel article ends with some advice for Mitt:

This [the criticism of Romneycare] isn’t going away for Mr. Romney either, which is why he’d do better by writing off his own plan as a mistake that Democrats have made worse, and replacing it with a proposal that deregulates and reforms the private market to lower insurance costs (thereby achieving greater coverage). If Mr. Romney hopes to capitalize on this week’s Senate race, he’ll first have to heed its health-care lessons.

I don’t know that I’d call it a mistake (as opposed to an imperfect, but reasonable compromise given its political environment), but I absolutely agree that it’s going to be a drag on his candidacy unless he puts the issue to bed in a convincing manner.  If any of you have seen or read anything you find compelling on this topic, please let us know in the comments!

Win or lose, Mitt’s getting some credit for Brown’s big MO

Romney to Stump for Scott Brown in Last Days of Senate Race

Things are looking good in Massachusetts for the cautiously optimistic among us.  It ain’t over yet, however, so we have to keep the money and volunteer hours flowing.  In the meanwhile, this post from over at the Daily Beast caught my eye.  The writer goes so far as to call Scott Brown, “Mitt Romney’s Man,” and writes at length about how Mitt and his organization are major driving forces behind Brown’s success.  Key excerpt:

Largely overlooked in assessing Brown’s prospects: the hidden hand of Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor headlined at a fundraiser for Brown last October.  And Romney has helped Brown raise money outside the state as well. “I know Scott and how determined he is to win. I’ve campaigned for him, raised money on his behalf, and we’re doing all we can to help him over the finish line,” Romney wrote supporters last Monday. Brown, 50, raised $1.3 million that day.

But lest anyone accuse Romney of being a Johnny-come-lately—stepping up only as Brown has vaulted from sacrificial lamb to serious threat—the 2008 presidential hopeful has lent crucial support behind the scenes from the start of Brown’s campaign. Ever since he entered the race to succeed the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, Brown has been counseled by members of the Shawmut Group, a Boston-based consulting firm that acts as the Romney political brain trust in exile. Among the many Romney disciples running Brown’s campaign are Beth Myers, the campaign manager of Romney’s presidential run; Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney’s chief spokesman; Peter Flaherty, Romney’s “go-to-guy for conservatives”; and Rob Cole, Romney’s 2008 deputy chairman manager. Beth Lindstrom, another player in Romney World, is working as Brown’s campaign manager. Lindstrom’s ties to Romney go back years; she started working with him in the Massachusetts State House as director of consumer affairs.

I’ve dropped a bit of cash into this race, and I hope you have too.  If you have time, then consider volunteering to make some calls.  If Scott Brown wins, not only is it great for our country and devastating for the Obama/Reid/Pelosi agenda, it’s also great for Mitt!

Addendum by Ross:
Battle Behind the Curtains highlights how this entire campaign has been proxy war between Obama and Romney. They have both sent multiple E-mails out to their supporters on behalf of their respective candidate, campaigned in person on behalf of their respective candidate, raised money for them, and used their Twitter and Facebook accounts to promote their respective candidate. They both have some of their top people working on the campaign.

Just in case anyone wonders what Mitt’s been doing already, read Romney Headlines GOP Fundraiser in Massachussetts and Scott Brown Could be our 41st Vote in the Senate! All of this is just direct involvement that we know about. Much like Virginia and New Jersey, there is probably even more going on behind the scenes than we know about. It’s also worth noting that Democrats wouldn’t even be in this position in the first place had they not changed the law when Mitt was governor to stop him from appointing a senator if John Kerry won the presidency in 2004.

Finally, and potentially the most interestingly, if Massachusetts didn’t already have the health care plan that Mitt instituted, Scott Brown’s chief argument about how Massachusetts doesn’t want to pay extra taxes for something they already have wouldn’t have been in play. If Scott Brown wins, the American people will have Mitt to thank for his health care plan in Massachusetts which remains popular in Massachusetts and renders Obamacare useless to them. It’s all come together so well, it’s almost like Mitt has planned this for years…

Mitt Continues to Build Bridges – The Hill

I’ve generally found The Hill‘s coverage of Mitt to be snarky.  This one is no exception as it uses the phrase “makes nice” in the headline and calls Mitt’s positive comments about Giuliani at last week’s Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference “gratuitous.”  The writer, is trying to push the meme that Mitt is some sort of glad handing snake oil salesman-type who will say anything to get ahead.

I don’t deny that in politics, all things are political, but at its essence, glad handing is about insincere and hypocritical praise and it hardly seems insincere or hypocritical to highlight Rudy’s obvious success at turning NYC around in the context of discussing the city of Detroit’s huge problems.

As Mitt’s efforts for 2012 gear up, we should expect more of this from the press, so get ready.  In any case, as your one stop shop for all things Romney, click here to read the article.

Governor Romney understands the Jihadist threat

On the 8th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I thought it would be informative to see what Governor Romney had to say about the Jihadist threat during his last campaign. I’ve quoted it below from his “Strategy for a Stronger America” policy statement (emphasis mine). Not surprisingly, he was spot on, and continues to have a clear understanding of what we are up against.

CHALLENGE: Jihadism – violent, radical, fundamental Islam – is this century’s nightmare. It follows the same dark path as last century’s nightmares: fascism and Soviet communism.

Many still fail to comprehend the extent of the threat posed by radical Islam, specifically by those extremists who promote violent Jihad against the United States and the universal values Americans espouse. Yet the Jihad has been with us for some time.

Radical Islam has one goal: to replace all modern Islamic states with a worldwide caliphate while destroying the United States and converting all nonbelievers, forcibly if necessary, to a fundamentalist form of Islam.

Merely closing our eyes and hoping that Jihadism will go away is not an acceptable solution. U.S. military action alone cannot change the hearts and minds of hundreds of millions of Muslims. In the end, only Muslims themselves can defeat the violent radicals. But we must work with them. The consequences of ignoring this threat – such as a radicalized Islamic actor possessing nuclear weapons – are simply unacceptable.

GOVERNOR ROMNEY: “Today, we face a new generation of challenges, globally and here at home.  We will do as Americans have always done: we will rise to the occasion.We have all that we need.We have technology, technology that would have been beyond the imagination of our grandparents.We have national wealth. And most important, we have the heart and passion of the American people – always the greatest source of our strength as a nation.” (Governor Mitt Romney, Remarks At The
George Herbert Walker Bush Presidential Library, 4/10/07)

GOVERNOR ROMNEY: “I think many of us still fail to comprehend the extent of the threat posed by radical Islam, by Jihad. Understandably, we focus on Afghanistan and Iraq. Our men and women are dying there.We think in terms of countries, because we faced countries in last century’s conflicts. But the Jihad is much broader than any one nation or nations. Jihad encompasses far more than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For radical Islam, there is an over-arching conflict and goal – replacing all modern Islamic states with a caliphate, destroying America, and conquering the world.”
(Governor Mitt Romney, Remarks At The George Herbert Walker Bush Presidential Library, 4/10/07)