GOP Sheriff Busted for Trading Drugs for Sex

“Patrick Sullivan was the kind of lawman Coloradoans loved: a straight-shooting Republican sheriff who once crashed a Jeep through a fence to rescue two deputies from a gunman and pleaded with legislators to keep assault weapons off the street lest any more citizens get shot,” the New York Times reports.

Yesterday afternoon, though, police arrested Sullivan “on charges that he had been trying to exchange methamphetamines for sex with a man. He was booked that night at a local county jail that proudly bears his name.”


Gingrich Holds Clear Lead Nationally

A new Economist/YouGov poll finds Newt Gingrich leading the GOP presidential race nationally with 25%, followed by Mitt Romney at 17%, Herman Cain at 15%, Ron Paul at 9%, Michele Bachmann at 5%, Jon Huntsman at 5%, Rick Perry at 5% and Rick Santorum at 3%.


The End of Retail Politics?

New York Times: “In what is shaping up as a profound change in American politics, the living room stops and the cafe visits where candidates offer handshakes and make appeals for support are creeping toward extinction. The onetime fixtures of the campaign trail are giving way to the Fox News studio and televised debates. It has been five decades since television began to transform presidential races, but never before have the effects of cable television been so apparent in the early stages of a campaign.”


Where Huntsman Went Wrong

Ross Douthat: “Huntsman’s campaign was always destined to be hobbled by the two years he spent as President Obama’s ambassador to China. But he compounded the handicap by introducing himself to the Republican electorate with a series of symbolic jabs at the party’s base.”

“He picked high-profile fights on two hot-button issues — evolution and global warming — that were completely irrelevant to his candidacy’s rationale. He let his campaign manager define his candidacy as a fight to save the Republican Party from a ‘bunch of cranks.’ And he embraced his identity as the media’s favorite Republican by letting the liberal journalist Jacob Weisberg write a fawning profile for Vogue.”

“This was political malpractice at its worst. Voters don’t necessarily need to like a candidate to vote for him, but they need to think that he likes them.”


Gingrich Crushing Romney in Florida

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Florida shows Newt Gingrich leading the Republican presidential field with 47%, followed by Mitt Romney at 17%, Herman Cain at 15%, Ron Paul at 5%, Michele Bachmann at 5%, Jon Huntsman at 3%, Rick Perry at 2%, and Rick Santorum at 1%.

Key finding: “The biggest reason for Newt Gingrich’s rise is that he’s picked up the voters of Herman Cain and Rick Perry as their campaigns have fallen apart.  But these numbers make it pretty clear he’s doing more than that- some of Mitt Romney’s ‘25%’ is starting to fall off and move toward Newt as well.”

An Insider Advantage poll released earlier also showed Gingrich with a huge lead.


Ideological Fractures Plague Republicans

The latest Pew Research poll shows a growing divide between the Republican Party and the Tea Party, as the GOP’s favorable numbers have declined in congressional districts represented by members of the House Tea Party Caucus to nearly those of the Democratic Party.

Key numbers: “Currently, 41% say they have a favorable opinion of the GOP, while 48% say they have an unfavorable view… currently about four-in-ten (39%) say they have a favorable view of the Democratic Party, while 50% offer an unfavorable view.”

Chris Cillizza: “What happened? To put it bluntly: governing. Establishment Republicans smartly wrapped their arms around the tea party during the 2010 election… But once the tea party helped elect a Republican majority, the expectations of what that majority would do were unrealistic… The establishment wing of the GOP is, ultimately, playing within the pre-written rules of the current political system… What Republican strategists have to bank on is that the distaste for President Obama among tea partiers is great enough to overcome any qualms they might have about voting for Republican candidates who they don’t believe entirely represent their interests.”


Bloomberg Makes the Case for His Experience

Though New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg regularly denies any interest in running for president, he certainly sounded like he was making the case at a speech last night, theNew York Observer reports.

Said Bloomberg: “I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh biggest army in the world. I have my own State Department, much to Foggy Bottom’s annoyance. We have the United Nations in New York, and so we have an entree into the diplomatic world that Washington does not have.”

He also highlighted his “outsider” credentials: “I don’t listen to Washington very much, which is something they’re not thrilled about. We have every kind of people from every part of the world and every kind of problem.”


Romney On Air in New Hampshire

Mitt Romney put out a new positive television ad in New Hampshire, unlike his first ad which was an attack on President Obama using an out-of-context quote.

Mark Halperin: “Core, core, core message: I’m a businessman who will cut spending. Uses footage from recent New Hampshire events with some subtle semiotic nods. Using the debate footage reminds people of Romney’s strong performances there — and, in fact, the debate answer the ad makers use was particularly strong (which is of course why they chose it!).”

See more…


Why Cain Might Not Drop Out

First Read: “What does Cain have to gain by getting out of the GOP presidential race? A future political career? A vice-presidential nomination? You could make the case that by staying in the race – and having some positive debate performances down the stretch – Cain could return to the candidate he was back in August (that is, someone who’s on the stage, who can deliver some memorable lines and is likeable, but who isn’t a threat to win in Iowa or anywhere else).”

In an interview with the Hillsdale Collegian, Cain sounded like he was staying in the race: “There’s another option. Modify the strategy, modify the campaign. Stay in, but with a modified strategy given everything that’s going on. We have had an early state strategy and a national strategy going on simultaneously. But because of all the controversy, we are reconsidering. Do we do both? That’s the reassessment that we are doing — reassessing the strategy.”

Update: Cain says he’s staying in the presidential race, according to the New York Times


Cain’s Backers Consider Gingrich

Los Angeles Times: “Herman Cain’s latest presidential campaign implosion has put some of the Republican Party’s most active voters in a distinctly uncomfortable position: deciding whether to abandon an accused adulterer to side with an admitted adulterer.”


Romney Avoids the Media

Hounded by reporters after an event in Florida yesterday, ABC News reports Mitt Romney refused to engage, telling reporters, “Guys, we have press avails or press conferences almost every day and that’s when I answer the questions.”

“Not quite. Romney’s last press conference was nearly a week ago, on November 23 in Des Moines, Iowa, where he took just four questions before an aide yelled ‘last question!’ The one before that? November 19 in New Hampshire. And a full week before that Romney held a press conference in Mauldin, S.C, on November 11. And in October, he held just three press availabilities total.”

First Read: “And given how yesterday went, we’re guessing securing one-on-one interviews with Romney on Sunday shows or with national reporters is going to get harder before it gets easier?”


Gingrich Pulls Away in Florida

A new Insider Advantage poll in Florida shows Newt Gingrich way ahead of the Republican presidential field with 41%, followed by Mitt Romney at 17%, Herman Cain at 13%, Rick Perry at 7%, Ron Paul at 4%, Michele Bachmann at 3% and Rick Santorum at 1%.

Caveat: Insider Advantage founder Matt Towery ran Gingrich’s political operation in the 1990s.


Will Huntsman Run as an Independent?

In a Boston Globe interview, Jon Hunstman wouldn’t rule out the idea of running for president as an independent.

Asked if it was a possibility, Huntsman said, “I don’t think so.”

Told that anything but a flat denial could perpetuate speculation about the possibility, Huntsman again wouldn’t rule it out.

The Fix: “Now, none of this is to say he will do it or is actually thinking about it. But he was given two chances to rule it out completely, and he didn’t.”


Gingrich, Romney Maintain High Favorability

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney are maintaining broad popularity in the Republican Party, both far outstripping their GOP rivals.

Gingrich’s favorability is at 60% while Romney’s is at 56%. The difference between Gingrich and Romney in favorability is not statistically significant — but slightly more Republicans see Gingrich “strongly” favorably, 22%, than do Romney, 15%.


Lawmakers Still Stuffing Bills with Earmarks

Lawmakers “attempted to pack hundreds of special spending provisions into at least 10 bills in the summer and fall, less than a year after congressional leaders declared a moratorium on earmarks,” the Washington Post reports.

“The moratorium, announced last November in the House and in February in the Senate, is a verbal commitment by the Republican leadership to prohibit lawmakers from directing federal funds to handpicked projects and groups in their districts. Lawmakers have tried to get around the moratorium by promising to allow other groups to compete for the funds. But the legislative language is so narrowly tailored that critics consider the practice to be earmarking by another name.”


Worst Campaign Ever?

Politico notes Herman Cain is in the midst of “reassessing” whether to continue his 2012 bid, “but its legacy is already settled: His campaign will go down as one of the most hapless and bumbling operations in modern presidential politics, setting a new standard for how to turn damaging press coverage into something far worse.”

“The botched responses to allegations of marital infidelity, sexual impropriety and his own gaffes — not to mention the puzzling strategic decisions — have, in the eyes of many veteran strategists, reached record levels of ineptitude. It’s an operation that has repeatedly contradicted its own candidate, leveled baseless charges, and put Cain in difficult political spots with little apparent forethought.”


Quote of the Day

“I was the only guy in the room who didn’t know I was dead.”

— Newt Gingrich, in an interview for the just-released e-book, The Right Fights Back by Mike Allen and Evan Thomas, on his unlikely comeback.


Romney on the Hot Seat

In a must-see Fox News interview with Bret Baier last night, Mitt Romney showed why he doesn’t do too many interviews.

Miami Herald: “At times during the interview, Romney was icily peevish. He laughed mirthlessly, or denied video evidence showed him shifting his positions or suggested he was espousing clear positions — which nevertheless required clarification. When pushed, he told Baier at one point that people should read his book.”

“Just what everyone wants: A candidate whose positions require homework, if not a concordance.”

First Read: “If you want to understand why Mitt Romney is the favorite to win the GOP presidential race but is not the front-runner, just watch the interview.”

See more…


Gingrich Sold Access, Not Just Ideas

New York Times: “Newt Gingrich is adamant that he is not a lobbyist, but rather a visionary who traffics in ideas, not influence. But in the eight years since he started his health care consultancy, he has made millions of dollars while helping companies promote their services and gain access to state and federal officials.”

“Mr. Gingrich and his aides have repeatedly emphasized that he is not a registered lobbyist, an important distinction in their effort to position him as an outsider who will transform the ways of Washington. They say that he has never taken a position for money and that corporations have signed on with him because of the strength of his ideas… Yet if Mr. Gingrich has managed to steer clear of legal tripwires, a review of his activities shows how he put his influence to work on behalf of clients with a considerable stake in government policy. Even if he does not appear to have been negotiating legislative language, he and his staff did many of the same things that registered lobbyists do.”



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