Presidential Campaign

Presidential Campaign

The Other GOP Mystery Man

As the first counts are tallied in Iowa this presidential season, albeit in the lonely straw poll Mitt Romney will run away with, let's take a moment to pause on the mystery man — and no, I don't mean Big Fred.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) mentioned this week that it is not too late to get into the race and win. He reminds people that Howard Dean was the front-runner three weeks before the Iowa caucuses, and he would like to add: "I think it is proven I'm candidate material." 

More of The Mittster’s Misadventures

OK, so apparently Mitt Romney is wearing the frontrunner crown this week, heading to Iowa to win that straw poll he couldn’t lose if he tried because no one with adequate poll numbers is showing up to take him on.

I have showed restraint for weeks and not revisited the dog episode — remember poor Seamus strapped to the top of the family car? Yes, he was traveling in a dog kennel he dirtied at high speeds, but it still tells us all we need to know about Romney. His defenders went into high gear about it not being pet abuse but it still paints an all-too-telling picture about his decision-making skills and his strategic thinking, a la Clark Griswold I would say. If you can’t channel Chevy Chase in “Vacation” I think you still get the picture.


Howling Hypocrites

This catty quote by John Edwards, aimed at Hillary Clinton during last night’s AFL-CIO debate, struck me as delicious: “You will never see a picture of me on the front of Fortune magazine.” This from a man who posed for the cover of Men’s Vogue magazine. Meow. (Perhaps his photo shoot for Vogue is what made Edwards think he was qualified to criticize Hillary’s pink jacket at last month’s Democratic debate.)

Also amusing was the whooping and hollering from last night’s T-shirt-clad crowd of union workers as Barack Obama dished it out to front-runner Clinton for taking money from lobbyists. I wonder if the labor crowd has any idea how much of their dues go to pay lobbyists each and every month. Just for a point of reference, I did a quick search on the California Secretary of State website, and since 2001, the AFL-CIO has paid well over $1 million to lobbyists in the state of California. Imagine what they’ve spent nationally.

Going to Chicago

For the second time in a week, the Democratic presidential candidates gathered in Chicago to debate their vision for the future. While it may just be a coincidence that they happened to find themselves so often in America’s greatest city, they are smart to target it. Illinois staying blue in the next election isn’t a forgone conclusion.

To be sure, the trend hasn’t been positive for Republicans of late. George Bush has made a mess of it there. Too much Texas machismo doesn’t play well in the City of Big Shoulders. As a White Sox fan, I took great pleasure in their sweep of the Astros. And I wasn’t the only one.

Is Third Time a Charm for Fred Thompson?

Former Senator Fred Thompson hasn’t even announced his candidacy yet, but he is already on his THIRD campaign manager. Britney Spears keeps husbands longer than Thompson keeps campaign managers. In any case, he has hired the widely respected Bill Lacy, who had been running Bob Dole’s Library in Lawrence, Kan., to manage his campaign. Good luck to Bill because he will have his work cut out for him.

Thompson will be the flavor du jour in September when he finally does announce. However, Lacy will have to sustain this momentum, raise a ton of money, organize the early primary states, and put a compelling platform in place in a matter of four months.

As Han Solo of “Star Wars” would say, “I got a bad feeling about this.”

Labored Debate

I kept waiting for one of the candidates to declare that his or her military operations would only involve unionized soldiers.

While the pandering didn’t quite reach that level, the Democrats-who-would-be-president did their level best to play to their audience. Soldiers Field in Chicago was packed with 17,000 faithful members of the AFL-CIO.

That represents a sizeable chunk of what’s left in organized labor after decades of ruthless management union-busting.  It has been aided and abetted by self-serving, inept, dogmatic union leaders, who have left their movement in tatters.

Is There Room for Another Conservative in the GOP Field?

Is there room for another “real conservative” in the GOP field? No, I’m not talking about Fred Thompson or Newt Gingrich. This weekend, the Iowa Republican Party will conduct its “straw poll” as a way to assess the strength of the GOP presidential candidates in the Hawkeye State. 

And the Winner Is …

Hey, it was better than going to church Sunday morning: watching the GOP debate from Des Moines, Iowa on ABC.

This time, there were only nine candidates on stage. Jim Gilmore dropped out. But there’s no doubt who the big winner was.

Duncan Hunter, Tommy Thompson, Tom Tancredo and Mike Huckabee should have just stayed home. John McCain looked and sounded like he never got out of bed: no life, no energy. And, after he proclaimed himself the most pro-life of all the candidates, Sam Brownback had nothing to say.

The Good and the Bad for Obama

Like his candidacy, itself a Rorschach test for anything Democrats want or fear from Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), the six-month mark of his campaign has brought the candidate a mixed bag of reviews — some to want more of and much to fear.

Clearly Obama tried to bounce back from the debate squabble with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-Ill.) over engaging with leaders of rogue nations by insisting the United States must strike at al Qaeda in Pakistan if its leadership won't, but after trying to get to the right of President Bush he let it slip that he wouldn't use nuclear weapons there. Looking weak on national security? Not good for Obama.

Preseason Games

First, let's declare the obvious winner in Sunday's Iowa debate. That was Barack Obama, without a doubt. Each Republican's put-down, of course, elevated him with Democrats. But what about the GOP candidates?

Sam Brownback definitely scored some points. When we talk about the GOP base, we always include the anti-abortion movement. So with the very first question, Brownback was given the chance to show off his long-standing "pro-life" commitment, and he took full advantage, leaving Mitt Romney, a more recent convert, to sputter about "people that are holier than thou ..."