Ron Paul

GOP Presidential Power Rankings

The race for the GOP nomination for president has really heated up, but there are rumblings that Rep. Paul Ryan and Sarah Palin may be preparing to jump in, candidacies that would dramatically shake up the field. But at least right now, it seems like this is a three way race for the nomination between Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann. Polls seem to bear out that conclusion as well, though no one seems to really be the frontrunner.

Here is a look at the current power rankings in the GOP field (and yes, we’ve excluded Thad McCotter on purpose):

Mitt Romney (down): If there was ever a question that Romney was on shaky ground as the frontrunner in the GOP field, it has been answered with Rick Perry. That being said, only one poll shows Romney down to Perry; so it’s far too early to say that that Romney has no path to the nomination. Romney still has plenty of arguments for Republicans to get behind him, including that he is the only candidate in the field that really challenges President Obama. However, the worst thing that could happen to Romney would be a Paul Ryan candidacy.

GOP Presidential Power Rankings

So what do we make of the Republican field after the Ames Straw Poll? It’s a good question, but there are a couple of factors that need to play out; including decisions by Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani, both of whom could change the face of the race.

I’ve been waiting for Ames to come and go since I anticipated the landscape to change, and it did with Tim Pawlenty’s exit (though I expected Rick Santorum to be out the door first) so I could give some power rankings for the candidates; something I hope to do at least every two weeks from now until the end.

Mitt Romney (even): As far as it goes, Romney is the guy to beat right now. Yes, he is going to have some problems to contend, including continued hits on RomneyCare and frequent position changes. He is, however, the establishment’s candidate. Romney also needs to be careful what he says on the trail, at least limit his points to easily explainable soundbytes. In other words, don’t say “corporations are people,” an accurate statement, but needs explaining to make sense.

Rick Perry (up): I’ve already touched on Perry’s campaign today, so I’ll be brief here. Electability in a general election are a question, but there is little doubt that Perry brings a formidable challenge to Romney’s bid for the presidency.

What Would USA Today Say about Howard Dean’s Performance in Iowa?

As Jason noted earlier, the results are in — Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has handily taken top honors in the 2011 Ames Straw Poll, edging out Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) and obliterating former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty. Bachmann became the first woman in history to win the straw poll in the home of America’s first caucus, according to the National Journal.

Aside from the various problems with straw polls in a general sense, and how poorly the Ames Straw Poll serves as an indicator of eventual primary winners (note: the CPAC straw poll has the same problem), what does this really mean? Probably not much at all.

But that hasn’t stopped the editorial board at USA Today from getting their digs in while they can.

They editorialize, opining the attention “fringe candidates” receive in Iowa:


Of the candidates actively participating this year, only Pawlenty has any kind of background of centrism, and he has taken a right turn since announcing his candidacy. Much of the attention will be on Bachmann, who has been doing well in recent Iowa polls, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the darling of libertarians.

Michele Bachmann wins the Ames Straw Poll

The results are in from the Ames Straw Poll, where several thousand Republicans cast ballots for their favorite GOP candidate. The results may be somewhat surprising given how in the run up to the poll many observers seemed to be writing it off and debating whether it meant anything since Ron Paul seemed to be poised for a strong showing and Mitt Romney had not paid much attention to Iowa.

Well, he had a strong showing, but finished 152 votes behind Michele Bachmann, an Iowa native, in arguably the most important event in the GOP race thus far.

  • Michele Bachmann: 28.55% (4823 votes)
  • Ron Paul: 27.65% (4671 votes)
  • Tim Pawlenty: 13.57% (2293 votes)
  • Rick Santorum: 9.81% (1657 votes)
  • Herman Cain: 8.62% (1456 votes)
  • Rick Perry: 3.62% (718 votes) write-in
  • Mitt Romney: 3.36% (567 votes)
  • Newt Gingrich: 2.28% (385 votes)
  • Jon Huntsman: 0.41% (69 votes)
  • Thad McCotter: 0.21% (35 votes)
  • Other: 0.96% (162 votes)

The results are obviously good news for Bachmann. Paul’s showing was still very strong, despite finishing second. Pawlenty built off of a better debate performance on Thursday to finish third. Santorum finished ahead of Cain, who is effectively a non-factor in the race at this point.

Ron Paul will not seek re-election in 2012

According to a local paper in the district and a post on his Twitter account, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) will focus solely on his presidential bid and will not seek another term in the House:

After serving almost 24 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Ron Paul told The Facts this morning he will not be seeking another term for the District 14 seat.

Paul, 75, will instead focus on his quest for the presidency in 2012.

“I felt it was better that I concentrate on one election,” Paul said. “It’s about that time when I should change tactics.”

His announcement will give enough time for anyone with aspirations for his seat to think about running, he said. Paul didn’t want to wait for filing in the 2012 primary to let people know he wasn’t seeking reelection.

“I didn’t want to hold off until in December,” he said. “I thought it shouldn’t be any later than now.”

Paul has served 12 terms in Congress. District 14 encompasses a 10-county area along the Gulf Coast.

I saw a few people mention on Twitter that he isn’t running his district was split during reapportionment. I haven’t followed the redistricting process in Texas, so have no idea if that’s true or not (and I haven’t had time to dive into those details). A friend close to the campaign tells me that this insinuation is false. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if that turned out to be the case considering that national Republicans, including then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, targeted him in the past during primaries.

While I don’t always agree with Dr. Paul, I’m sad and disappointed to see his congressional career come to an end. He is a tireless voice for liberty and free markets and that is sorely needed in Congress.

Replacing one war-happy President with another?

I’m often told by conservatives that in 2012, they would support literally anyone but Obama.  The basic suggestion is that Obama is so terrible, that a sack of oats would do a better job (Oats/Barley 2012!).  By not pledging my undying support for whomever the GOP nominates, then, I am in effect endorsing Obama.  Of course, many of these conservatives would change their tune if it were Ron Paul against Obama, but that’s not the important fact here.  What matters is the idea that any of the primary candidates would be better than the incumbent.

One of these wannabes is Tim Pawlenty, former Governor of Minnesota.  While governor, Pawlenty established a fairly decent record.  There are a number of things that make him preferable in my eyes to his principle opponent, Mitt Romney.  Leaving aside his often infuriating pandering to social conservatives, Pawlenty, at least up to this point, has been one of the few mainstream candidates that I could find myself able to support.

But some comments he made on Tuesday have caused me to seriously question this position.  In speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations, Pawlenty continued what has become a very alarming tendency to embrace the same reckless hawkishness that many conservatives have found themselves criticizing in Obama.  Perhaps the most troubling quote from the speech is the suggestion that he would only consult Congress as a “courtesy” when engaging in war overseas.  This is a position that makes him even more dangerous than Bush or Obama.

What does Bachmann’s candidacy mean for the GOP?

As you know doubt know by now, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) officially announced her bid for the Republican nomination for president yesterday in Waterloo, Iowa, which is her hometown (although wasn’t a big secret that she was running):

Republican Michele Bachmann is casting herself as the “bold choice” in the 2012 presidential race.

The outspoken congresswoman and tea party favorite formally launched her bid Monday in her Iowa birthplace, Waterloo, after first making her intentions clear at a debate earlier this month.

Outside a historic mansion, Bachmann said she’s waging the campaign “not for vanity.” Instead she says voters “must make a bold choice if we are to secure the promise of the future.”

Bachmann enters the race as an Iowa poll shows her near the front of the pack in the first in the nation caucus state.

“I am a descendant of generations of Iowans and I know what it means to be from Iowa. I know what we value here and I know what’s important,” said Bachmann.

Bachmann played up her tea party ties but also made mention of her Democratic roots. Bachmann said she grew up a Democrat, but changed parties after working for Jimmy Carter in 1976. She didn’t like his spending policies.

She now counts herself as a tea-party candidate, which she said is made up of Republicans but also fed up Democrats and independents.”It’s a very powerful coalition that the left fears, and they should because make no mistake about it Barrack Obama will be a one-term president,” said Bachmann.

Cut Europe

With all this talk of isolationism in the GOP, namely over our “kinetic military action” in Libya and the wearying, ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there’s an atmosphere that Republicans will be more willing to cut defense spending and reorganize our military to better fit in with the rest of the world. No more Dubya’s and silly foreign expeditions, more or less. But there’s one area that I see missing: Europe. I think it should be front and center.

When we Americans start arguing over welfare spending, it almost inevitably comes to be that those on the “left” say “Well, we’re spending billions and billions of dollars on bombing people in foreign countries, maybe we should cut that first, huh?” Naturally, conservatives balk at cutting military spending (while libertarians agree and then continue arguing to cut welfare anyways), but in terms of Europe, this is an area where they can make a great tactical manuever. I say this because, also almost inevitably, some liberal or progressive will then cite Europe as a great example of their welfare state ideal, saying “See, they can do it! Why can’t we, with the #1 economy in the world, do the same?” This was almost always brought up in the healthcare debate, focusing on the United Kingdom’s NHS, Germany’s social insurance policies, and infant mortality. And what else can conservatives and libertarians say? Europe sucks? Only in some limited aspects, and that’s simply not a respectable argument anyway.

Ron Paul: “I am the Commander in Chief”

Watching the CNN-hosted New Hampshire debate on Monday evening, it became clear just how much different the 2012 Replican primary race is from 2008 and yet, how it is the same.

Like 2008, the field is littered with so-called conservatives who have been indelibly influenced by the rise of the neoconservatives, which peaked in 2004 and has, unbeknownst to its members, been in free-fall decline ever since.

At around the same point in the race four years ago, Ron Paul was relatively unknown except for a few hard-core followers. He made an impression back then in one of the early debates by repeating something he has said for years, that he would abolish the income tax given the chance.

His famous exchange with Rudy Giuliani at another debate propelled him even further. But because Paul didn’t have nearly the financial backing his opponents had in the early part of the campaign, his showing in Iowa and New Hampshire, two key states,  seemed to doom his attempt to electoral failure. In all other ways, however, he has secured a victory that no other person with whom he’s shared a stage before or since has even remotely approached.

He’s made it possible for people to associate themselves with the Republican party and be proud to do so. As long as they can do so by defining themselves as “Ron Paul Republicans” that is.  So, in this respect, the 2012 cycle is vastly different .

CNN’s debate was about as entertaining as watching grass grow

If you were able to sit through the entire debate, I think you deserve an award. Seriously, that was rough. There wasn’t much in the way of substantive answers. And outside of Rep. Ron Paul, who is focusing his message on monetary policy and non-interventionist foreign policy, no one really seemed to want to separate themselves from the pack last night. There was a lot of agreement and no fireworks.

CNN’s John King, who served as the debate’s moderator, did a terrible job. He spent most of the evening utting “uh huh” behind the answers given by each question. Just before commercial breaks he asked candidates if they preferred “Conan or Leno,” “Elvis or Johnny Cash” and “Coke or Pepsi.” CNN will be hosting a Tea Party debate on September 12th, let’s hope they workout the kinks between now and then.

Michele Bachmann: Even though she contradicted herself on a couple of occasions - for example, saying that she wouldn’t interfere with state marriage laws, but yet supports a Federal Marriage Amendment; Bachmann, who used the debate as an opportunity to announce her candidacy, actually came across fairly well as far as communicating her message. I’d say she was in top three debate “winners.” By the way, Bachmann’s House seat seems to be up in the air. If she’s actively running for president, she can’t run for re-election. However, she has until June 2012 to make a decision.

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