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Perhaps I’m getting jaded. I read today where there’s a plan to publish the daily morning scriptural meditations that Hillary Clinton reportedly received from her preacher, the Rev. Dr. Bill Shillady. My first thought was, “I guess she’s really planning on running again.” She barely uttered a word about religion in the 2016 race. Her campaign appeared to see the business community and the secular progressive party base, neither of which cotton to a lot of “God talk” as the key to victory in November, and campaigned that way.

Now, she may be seeing something different. Hillary may also be channeling Mitt Romney. In 2008, like Hillary, Romney ran for his party’s nomination and finished second. The second time around, he won the nomination (albeit with little party enthusiasm) and was defeated in the general election. Had he thrown his hat in late in 2016, the party establishment may well have welcomed him. And in a general election, he, like most Republicans, would have had a good chance against the polarizing Democratic nominee. Secretary Clinton may see a path like that opening up for her. Whoever wins the Democratic nomination in 2020 would have a very good chance against the incumbent were he to run for reelection. And Clinton may well think she’s got as good a shot as anyone in a contested primary next time.

For those who think it can’t happen, picture this – several Democrats (e.g. Senators Warren and Booker, Governors Cuomo and Patrick) all run to the left, trying to get that energetic movement progressive vote; that leaves an open lane for the one so-called centrist (really the one ambitious non-ideologue) in the race, especially if those progressive candidates – all of whom see a savior of the progressive cause in the mirror – refuse to drop out early. In short, she runs the Trump campaign on the Democratic side Trump was the least conservative (and for my money, least likable) candidate in the Republican nominating race. But the conservatives – all spoiling for a run against Hillary – failed to drop out, and split the base vote, allowing Trump to win.

This also appears to channel Bill Clinton’s comeback after losing the Arkansas governorship in 1980. Bill Clinton had been perceived as being more liberal (particularly by hiring some liberal out of state staff) than he had let on in the 1978 campaign. The Clintons called in Dick Morris, tacked to the center, and won the mansion back in 1982.

As much as many of us would like to see the Clintons move on to a dignified retirement, I just don’t believe either retirement or surrender is in their vocabulary. It’s a bit early to write Hillary’s political obituary. I admit it’s jaded, but I really have to wonder if this book of morning meditations is the first move in a long game for 2020. Maybe she’s sincere – maybe. With the Clintons, one often has to wonder.

-1TF

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The Ryan Choice

A few thoughts on Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as a running mate:
– Ryan’s really young for this. He looks like he’s still running for student council president.
– On the other hand, Ryan is no Dan Quayle or Sarah Palin. He’s a genuine idea guy. He’ll be able to hold his own intellectually on the campaign trail, with one possible exception …
– Defense and foreign policy is a concern. Neither Romney nor Ryan is experienced in that area. (I think it is a genuine shame that no member of either ticket has served a single day in the military.) Ryan will need to study up to make sure he meets the challenge former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden is sure to pose to him in the vice presidential campaign.
– Ryan does offer the chance to make Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa more competitive. I don’t know that he offers much in Pennsylvania or Ohio (even though he attended college there). In Florida, his views on Medicare and Social Security might make some seniors nervous.
– This pick makes the campaign less of a ‘referendum’ campaign and more of a ‘choice’ campaign. It makes it marginally more difficult for Romney to win, but it helps him to have an ideological mandate to act if indeed he does win. In a turnout election, Ryan increases the enthusiasm factor of people on the right.
– In conclusion, the pick, like most VP choices, is a wash. The people will concentrate their focus on Obama vs. Romney. Let’s get it on and get it over with.

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Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard indicates that Romney may be picking his VP on Thursday. Word is Rep. Marsha Blackburn (a member of the 1TF shortlist from July 10th) will be in Richmond, Virginia this Thursday for a “Women for Romney” fundraiser. From there it’s a quick trip up to wherever Romney would need her to be as he starts his bus tour. The logistics seem to work out quite well if she is indeed his choice.

– 1TF

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Mitt Romney should be choosing his vice presidential running mate in the next month or so. Speculation swirls around Senators Rob Portman and Marco Rubio and Governors Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal. It won’t be any of them. Rubio and Jindal are just a little too young. Portman is too closely tied to the George W. Bush Administration, which is still a political liability. Chris Christie, while seen by many as a potential president, isn’t really a #2 kind of guy.

I suspect the real attention in Romneyland centers on four candidates. In alphabetical order, they are:

1) Rep. Marsha Blackburn, 60, Tennessee – Smart, experienced and maybe the most conservative of the four. Would bring a historical element to the ticket. She would attract Tea Party support without losing the votes of suburban women to the degree Palin did. The story of how she led a conservative revolt against an income tax plan by a Republican governor will be gold to Tea Partiers, but it’s also a lesson in sunlight in politics that ought to have some appeal to moderates and independents.

2) Fmr. Gov. Mike Huckabee, 55, Arkansas – He’s already been vetted via his 2008 run. Would connect with evangelicals in a way Romney can’t. Problem is Romney and Huckabee appeared to dislike each other in 2008. Huckabee stuck around long enough so Romney couldn’t coalesce the anti-McCain vote to himself. Considering no Republican was going to beat Obama after the September 2008 financial meltdown, Huckabee may have done Romney a favor.

3) Gov. Bob McDonnell, 58, Virginia – Steady, competent, likeable. Has managed his state to a continued enviable business record. He is the only one of these four from a battleground state. His 21-year Army Reserve career gives him more military experience than the entire Obama national security team combined.

4) Sen. John Thune, 51, South Dakota – If Romney think he needs someone who intimately knows DC, the tall, telegenic Thune, having spent most of the past 25 years in the circus on the Potomac, fits the bill. Socially conservative, but may not be greeted with open arms by fiscal conservatives, since he voted for TARP and has requested a lot of earmarks. However, he does know a thing or two about running in tough races, having lost a Senate race by an eyelash in 2002 and coming back to beat then-Sen. Majority Leader Tom Daschle in 2004.

Any of these four would be a solid nominee. More importantly, any of them could more than adequately fill the role of President should, God forbid, it become necessary. This is Romney’s first real Presidential decision. He needs to consider not just what is good for him in the political short-term, but what is in the long-term best interests of the country.

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Mitt Romney will be meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, as well as Israeli opposition party leaders. In doing so, he’s playing a dangerous game. American Jews don’t vote solely or even mostly on Israel; like most Americans, their main concerns tend to be domestic. And it may have the unintended consequence of encouraging the Iranians to rattle their sabers again. Iranian leaders may want to keep ‘the devil they know’ – President Obama, whom some (erroneously in my view) see as weak on Iran after he did not actively support the opposition protests in 2009. If so, they can hurt Romney’s campaign by ramping up their war rhetoric, making him look like he has stepped into something he doesn’t understand and causing a bigger problem. As an added bonus, it’s also good for the Iranians politically to be talking about something other than their own flagging economy.

The vast majority of Americans still remember the Bush Administration’s handling of America’s role in the world; most don’t want Romney emulating the Bush model. Romney cannot afford to look ham-handed in dealing with the Middle East. He will need an excellent performance to justify this trip; right now, it appears to be a whole lot of risk for not much reward.

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