POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 1/3

Gingrich Now Says Upset Possible

After conceding defeat in Iowa earlier today, the Des Moines Register reports Newt Gingrich had a change of heart.

Said Gingrich: “I’m here to tell you when you have 41 percent undecided in The Des Moines Register poll, if each of you in the next 24 will talk to everyone of your friends and if each of you will go to the caucus and will make the best possible argument for nominating an experienced conservative with a national record of achieving things, we may pull off one of the great upsets of the history of the Iowa caucuses.”

 

How Gingrich Blew His Second Chance

Jonathan Martin looks at how Newt Gingrich “learned all the wrong lessons from his campaign’s collapse this summer and none of the right ones from his remarkable comeback.”

“Instead of seizing the moment and making an aggressive case for why the contest was now a two-man race between a movement conservative and flip-flopping moderate — a unique opportunity afforded by the endorsement’s implicit-but-unmistakable critique of Mitt Romney in his firewall state — Gingrich fell back to his familiar habits, a routine marked by too much self-assurance and not enough discipline.”

“Between that and some other key factors — among them, Romney’s super PAC blitzkrieg and his own weak fundraising — a campaign that seemed on the cusp of stealing the nomination barely a month ago now faces an ignominious fourth place finish or worse.”

 

Why You Can’t Skip the Early States

Jonathan Bernstein: “Santorum may or may not wind up coming close to the nomination, but if he finishes in the top three in Iowa (as currently looks very likely), he’s going to get a bump elsewhere. What about Huntsman, however? He’s totally off the radar this week. He’s been totally off the radar for the last month. He won’t get a mention tomorrow night when TV and the rest of the press cover Iowa. He’s unlikely to be subject to very much media attention over the next few days, either. And so it wouldn’t be at all surprising if someone who has done little in New Hampshire so far overtakes him with a post-Iowa surge.”

 

Downplaying New Hampshire

With Mitt Romney’s growing lead in New Hampshire, Chris Cillizza notes that Romney “has been running at the front of the pack in New Hampshire for the better part of the last two years,” leading some candidates to downplay the impact of that primary on the nomination process.

“Romney, of course, will do everything he can to make New Hampshire matter. And, it’s worth noting that if he wins Iowa and New Hampshire he will be the first non incumbent Republican to pull off that feat in modern presidential history… The calculation for everyone not named Romney (or Huntsman) is whether it’s worth spending precious dollars — southern New Hampshire is covered by the very pricey Boston media market — in a state that is just not winnable when South Carolina, which has never been a friendly place for Romney, awaits.”

Meanwhile, Ron Fournier gives five reasons why New Hampshire still matters.

 

Why Negative Ads Work Even Better Now

Joe Klein notes that negative campaign ads “have been more effective and brutal this time because no one has to get up there at the end and say, ‘I’m Mitt Romney and I approved this message.'”

“That line came in for a fair amount of mockery when the federal government began to require it a few cycles ago. But it worked. It became harder to for a candidate to have an ad accusing an opponent of being a mother-raper if he or she had to appear at the end and say, ‘I approve this message.’…”

“This time, however, the vast majority of Iowans don’t know that friends of Mitt Romney have put several bajillion dollars worth of ads up eviscerating Newt Gingrich… It’s a coarsening of a system that is already too coarse. And we can thank the Supreme Court for that. It certainly doesn’t bode well for the general election next fall.”

 

“The Book” on Obama

The Republican National Committee is touting an expansive new video database — which officials call “The Book” — that operatives say is their “most potent weapon for attacking President Obama in 2012,” ABC News reports.

“The RNC will debut a compilation of Obama clips from the newly polished video library in a TV ad to run across Iowa on Tuesday.  The montage is expected to show ‘promises’ Obama delivered in Iowa in 2008 contrasted with economic and other data on the reality now.”

National Journal: “The GOP strategy is to refrain from attacking Obama personally, as polls show he is still well-liked by many voters, even if his policies aren’t. Instead, they aim to undermine him with his own words, by showing clips reflecting empty promises and lackluster economic improvement.”

 

Romney’s First Name a Mystery

A new 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll finds just 6% of all those surveyed knew that Mitt Romney’s real first name was actually Willard.

About 20% thought Mitt was his real name, while 18% picked Mitchell and 8% chose Milton.

 

Gingrich Concedes Iowa

Newt Gingrich admitted it’s not likely he’ll win the Iowa caucuses tomorrow, NBC Newsreports.

Said Gingrich: “I don’t think I’m going to win. If you look at the numbers, that volume of negativity has done enough damage.”

But he quickly added: “Whatever I do tomorrow night will be a victory because I’m still standing.”

 

Romney Solidifies New Hampshire Lead

The latest Suffolk tracking poll in New Hampshire shows Mitt Romney leading with 43%, followed by Ron Paul at 17%, Jon Huntsman at 9% and Newt Gingrich at 8%.

Key finding: “Romney is not only widening his margin in New Hampshire, his supporters are now the least likely to change their minds between now and next Tuesday.”

 

Five Paths to 270

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina’s plan “is not to go after every state Obama carried in 2008; instead he will be content to recapture the 251 electoral votes that John Kerry won in 2004 and build from there,” Newsweek reports.

He sees five paths to the 270 electoral votes needed: “The West Path would add Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada to the Kerry states, for 272 electoral votes. The Florida Path would add just Florida, for 275. The South Path runs through North Carolina and Virginia (274 electoral votes), while the Midwest Path includes Ohio and Iowa (270 electoral votes). Finally, there’s the Expansion Path: Obama carries all the Kerry states except blue-collar Pennsylvania and libertarian New Hampshire, then compensates with victories in Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and John McCain’s home state of Arizona, which was uncontested in 2008, for obvious reasons.”

 

Gingrich Ready to Rip Romney

New York magazine: “Gingrich, who trails Romney badly in the Granite State, plans to use the week between the caucuses here and the primary there to rip Romney a new one; and in doing so, weaken him in South Carolina, where Gingrich (for the moment) is polling strongly and is at the head of the pack. Now flush with a decent fundraising haul in the last quarter of 2011 — around $9 million, he claims — Gingrich apparently intends to take to the airwaves to make his case, in addition to hammering Romney as a dreaded (and self-described, albeit long ago) moderate in the two debates scheduled for this weekend in New Hampshire.”

 

What Pundits Get Wrong About the Primaries

John Sununu: “Concerns about Republican candidates being ‘stuck’ with low poll numbers reflect pundits’ laziness at best and their biases at worst. Rest assured, pundits, someone will break out of the pack; and when it happens, it will happen fast… Yes, tomorrow’s result in Iowa will be hard to interpret. The caucus is an unusual system, and rarely reflects the broader Republican consensus. But the primary is meant to be a long process – a test – that forces candidates to organize, raise resources, sharpen their message, and build a broad base. Like democracy itself, it can be a bit messy; but it remains far better than the alternatives.”

 

Another Poll Gives Romney Slight Edge in Iowa

A new InsiderAdvantage poll in Iowa shows Mitt Romney leading the GOP field with 23%, followed by Ron Paul at 22%, Rick Santorum at 18%, Newt Gingrich at 16%, Rick Perry at 10%, Michele Bachmann at 6% and Jon Huntsman at 2%.

Update: A new American Research Group poll shows Romney leading with 22%, followed by Paul at 17%, Santorum at 16% and Gingrich at 15%.

 

South Carolina May Be Last Chance to Stop Romney

Joe Klein: “The word on Sunday was that Iowa may not fulfill its only plausible function: winnowing the field. It seems that both Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich will stagger on. Neither candidate seems to have much hope in New Hampshire. Perry may wind up owing votes there. But they will hang on to test their mettle in South Carolina, a real southern state, the deepest crimson of red states. Why will they do this?”

“Because there is still the belief that an anti-Romney candidate will emerge. And it’s likely that South Carolina will be the anti-Romney Super Bowl, contested by Perry, Gingrich and Rick Santorum. All three will have advantages — Santorum will have momentum, perhaps, if he does as well as he’s supposed to do in Iowa; Perry will have money and a region-appropriate accent; Gingrich will have something akin to home field advantage, coming from neighboring Georgia.”

 

Top 5 Mitt Fits

The DNC releases a new video highlighting the top Mitt Romney outbursts of the last year.

See more…

 

Obama Team Doesn’t See Santorum as Romney Threat

The Obama re-election campaign doesn’t believe that Rick Santorum “has the ability to go toe to toe” with Mitt Romney — the same way that Newt Gingrich or Rick Perry potentially could, First Read reports.

“Even if Santorum wins Iowa tomorrow, it’s quite likely that Romney — with his resources — can lap the former Pennsylvania senator by the end of the month. On one hand, they are happy Romney still has base problems and hasn’t used his time in Iowa to fix them. On the other hand, they are disappointed that it’s Santorum and not Newt or Perry who is rising. After all, Team Obama has dreamed about Romney having to struggle and keep courting the right for the next six MONTHS, not six WEEKS.”

Meanwhile, Buzzfeed has the three reasons Rick Santorum is not Mike Huckabee.

 

Low Cost Way to Eliminate Your Rivals

Roger Simon notes the Iowa caucuses “do not pick winners as much as they eliminate losers. And the Iowa caucuses Tuesday are likely to eliminate from serious contention the only two men who might have blocked Romney’s path to victory: Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry.”

Said one Romney aide: “Iowa is about eliminating Gingrich and Perry without us having to spend a lot of money to do so. Last time, we spent $2 million just on the [Ames] straw poll, $10 million on television and had over 30 paid staffers. This year we’ve been on TV for only a month and have not spent much on ads, we’ve have five paid staffers and we didn’t do the straw poll.”

 

Paul’s Secret Plan to Win

Ron Paul “has begun to implement a quiet, complex plan to force a long battle with Mitt Romney for delegates to the Republican National Convention in August,” Buzzfeed reports.

“Paul is following the roadmap set by Barack Obama’s 2008 strategy: Start early, learn the rules, and use superior organization and devoted young supporters to dominate the arcane but crucial party procedures in states your rivals are ignoring — states where caucuses and conventions that elect the delegates who will ultimately choose the Republican candidate.”

However, Politico notes Paul is not necessarily intent on winning, as his is more an ideological crusade. One indication: Just days before the Iowa caucuses, Paul spent the weekend in Texas.

“With his unique perch, Paul doesn’t need to do retail campaigning to convey his message — the internet does it for him. Nor does he need to worry about the order he finishes here. No matter the outcome, Paul will stay in the race for an extended period of time — as the figurehead of his movement, his fundraising will not dry up if he underperforms expectations.”

 

GOP Campaign Like Democrats in 2003

Gallup notes the lead in the Republican presidential nomination race has thus far changed seven times since May. Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and Newt Gingrich each held the top spot at various points in 2011.

“The volatility in Republican preferences this year most closely resembles changes in Democrats’ preferences in 2003 when Joe Lieberman, John Kerry, Tom Daschle (not an announced candidate), Dick Gephardt, Howard Dean, and Wesley Clark each had their turn as front-runner, before Kerry took command of the race at the start of the primaries in 2004. The lead changed hands nine times in Gallup polling throughout 2003.”

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