Group of Republican Delegates Suing For Right To Vote As They Choose On First Ballot

It was pretty obvious even before the primaries began that Mitt Romney would be the Republican nominee. There were moments when perhaps there might have been a possibility of challenging him, but that ended when Rick Santorum failed to win in states such as Michigan and Ohio. Therefore I was curious when I saw a story that delegates to the Republican convention were suing to be able to vote for the candidate of their choice on the first ballot. Certainly releasing some Romney delegates would not change the outcome. Sure, some might vote for Sarah Palin or someone else preferred by the far right of the party, but Mitt Romney would still be the nominee.

This begins to make sense if Ron Paul supporters are behind this. Ron Paul’s campaign has been fighting hard for delegates, and in some states Paul supporters are going to the convention pledged to vote for Mitt Romney on the first (and almost certainly only) ballot. I was already wondering if they would create any havoc at the convention as, while pledged to vote for Romney, they would still be free to vote as they choose on any other matters. If delegates become free to vote for the candidate of their choice Paul will have more votes than he should based upon the actual votes in some states. This still won’t change the outcome, and I still wouldn’t put it past the GOP to manage to totally shut them out of the convention, but it will be interesting to see if the Paul supporters manage to find a way to have an impact.


Posted in Mitt Romney, Ron Paul. 1 Comment »

Quote of the Day

“Ron Paul’s son is a senator from Kentucky, and he’s now endorsing Mitt Romney. I know how that feels. My son watches Jay.” –David Letterman

Huckabee Has Letter Calling Obama Advisers Political Whores Pulled

Honorable move by Mike Huckabee to demand that a fund raising  letter sent on his letterhead referring to Obama’s advisers as “morally repugnant political whores” be pulled. Huckabee denies having approved this. I am inclined to believe him. Compare Huckabee’s action in stating he did not approve this as soon as the letter went out to Ron Paul claiming he did not know about multiple racist and anti-Semitic items under his name, years after pocketing the money raised.

Accusations of Violence By Occupy Wall Street Demonstrate Differences Between Left and Right

Yesterday I pointed out how Fox was trying to twist the news with unfounded suggestions of a connection between the bombing plot broken up yesterday and the Occupy Wall Street movement. The suggestion was made with a subtle comment that “It is unknown if the bridge incident was connected to Occupy Wall Street’s plans for nationwide protests Tuesday.” Such a formula would allow Fox to tie any unrelated groups together this way. Not surprisingly, the right wing blogs and Twitter have considerable chatter today falsely claiming Occupy Wall Street was involved in the plot to blow up the bridge.

Further reports on the arrest clarify the lack of a real relationship between those arrested and Occupy Wall Street. USA Today reports:

What sets the alleged Ohio operation apart is its link to self-proclaimed anarchists — with no connections to international terrorist organizations — who believed that members of the ubiquitous Occupy protest movement had not gone far enough to express their displeasure with high-flying corporate America.

More recent plots disrupted by the FBI have focused on traditional terrorist targets — military facilities and crowded public places — with the goal of inflicting mass casualties.

The operation outlined Tuesday in federal court papers described a poorly financed operation by inexperienced players who at times joked about their lack of terror savvy but sought to use the cover of the Occupy campaign in Cleveland to strike a violent blow against U.S. corporate properties and interests.

From the earliest point in a seven-month undercover inquiry starting in October, an FBI informant said the group of suspects expressed “displeasure at the (Occupy) crowd’s unwillingness to act violently.”

Almost immediately after the charges were announced, the Occupy campaign moved to distance itself from the allegations.

Acknowledging that the suspects — Douglas Wright, 26; Brandon Baxter, 20; Anthony Hayne, 35; Connor Stevens, 20; and Joshua Stafford, 23 — were “associated with Occupy Cleveland,” the group said in a statement that the five were “in no way representing or acting on behalf of Occupy Cleveland.”

Four of the suspects are from the Cleveland area; Wright is from Indianapolis.

Citing the arrests, Occupy Cleveland canceled a scheduled May Day rally Tuesday.

Ed Needham, a spokesman for Occupy Wall Street, said the alleged Cleveland plot “goes against the very fabric of the Occupy Movement.”

“The Occupy Movement is a social movement rooted in compassion as well as social justice,” he said.

U.S. authorities also sought to separate the criminal case against the five men from a blanket indictment of the protest movement.

“The FBI and the Department of Justice do not investigate groups or movements,” U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach said. “The defendants stand charged based not upon any words or beliefs they might espouse, but based upon their own plans and actions.”

While violence is far more often associated with right wing extremism, there are extremists on both the left and right who will resort to violence. This demonstrates a key difference between the left and right. The right is dominated far more by their more radical elements as compared to the left, with many on the right willing to ignore the problem of right wing violence. Occupy Wall Street is to the left of the Democratic Party and many liberal groups but has not shown the degree of extremism seen on the right. As noted above, the local Occupy group immediately repudiated the use of violence and did not try to defend those who promoted violence. Many liberals have also shown concern about the violence occurring at the Occupy demonstrations. Other liberal bloggers join me in having concerns about the tactics of Occupy Wall Street and want a clearer repudiation of the use of violence in demonstrations nation-wide.

In contrast, when there have been discussions of right wing violence, it has been common for many in the conservative movement to show reluctance to dissociate themselves from those who promote violence. We saw this in the reaction of conservative bloggers to a report from the Department of Homeland Security on far right extremists. We were reminded of  the frequent use of violent rhetoric by the conservative movement  following the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords. Ron Paul has pandered to neo-Nazis and white supremacists to raise money, bringing in elements to the conservative movement which would have been ostracized in past years before the move by the conservative movement to the extreme right. Will the conservative bloggers who falsely accuse Occupy Wall Street of being involved in a bomb plot speak out against the real problem of right wing violence?


Mitt Romney Remains A Weak Candidate, Except Among The Very Religious

Last night’s primaries, occurring after Rick Santorum left the race, turned out to give pretty much the same picture as when there was more of a contest: Mitt Romney will be the nominee, but many Republicans would prefer to vote for someone else. Smart Politics points out the weakness of Romney’s victories:

Over the last 40 years there have been nearly 80 contests in which the presumptive Republican nominees played out the string after their last credible challenger exited the race.

In every one of these contests, the GOP frontrunner won at least 60 percent of the vote, even when ex- and long-shot candidates remained on the ballot.

But on Tuesday, Romney won only 56 percent of the vote in Delaware and 58 percent in Pennsylvania, home to Rick Santorum who dropped out on April 10th.

While Romney avoided the embarrassment of winning with a mere plurality, never has a presumptive nominee won a primary contest with such a low level of support at this stage of the race with his chief challenger no longer actively campaigning.

Clearly the author doesn’t consider either Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul to be a credible challenger, and the assumption looks valid. Even Newt Gingrich has realized this, dropping out of the race. While Ron Paul’s chances at winning are still the same as at any other point in time,  zero, it will be interesting to see if he manages to receive more primary votes as the last candidate standing, allowing him to take a larger block of delegates to the convention than would otherwise occur.

Jimmy Carter says that, while he would prefer Obama, he would feel comfortable with Romney:

“I’d rather have a Democrat but I would be comfortable — I think Romney has shown in the past, in his previous years as a moderate or progressive… that he was fairly competent as a governor and also running the Olympics as you know. He’s a good solid family man and so forth, he’s gone to the extreme right wing positions on some very important issues in order to get the nomination. What he’ll do in the general election, what he’ll do as president I think is different.”

I would refer Carter to yesterday’s post on this subject. There is certainly a reasonable chance that Romney is more moderate than he now claims to be. It is really impossible to tell what opinions Romney has, or if he even has any, considering the way he can sound sincere while taking either side of any issue. Unfortunately Romney has painted himself into a “severely conservative” corner and will have difficulty moving out. Even should he prefer more moderate positions, it is hard to see him resisting the wishes of a far right wing Congress, which is the most likely result should conditions in the fall favor a Romney victory.

It is clearly far too early to predict who will win. Polls now favor Obama, but they can change by November. I am encouraged by Obama’s strength in most of the battleground states, although he is likely to lose some states he won in 2008. Republicans who were encouraged by a narrow Romney lead in Gallup’s daily tracking poll will not want to see that Obama has jumped to a seven point lead. I suspect that this is more a measure of the uncertainty among many voters as opposed to a major change in positions, but does emphasize the weakness of Romney as a candidate.

Gallup has also found that the usual partisan breakdown along religious lines still holds in a race between Obama and Romney:

Mitt Romney leads Barack Obama by 17 percentage points, 54% to 37%, among very religious voters in Gallup’s latest five-day presidential election tracking average. Obama leads by 14 points, 54% to 40%, among the moderately religious, and by 31 points, 61% to 30%, among those who are nonreligious.

If this is viewed purely based upon religion, the results might not make any sense considering Obama’s religious views. There are two additional factors in play. Many Republicans are still fooled by the attacks from the right wing noise machine, with a meaningful number still believing Obama is a Muslim. The other factor is that the concern among many on the religious right is not whether a candidate is religious but whether they will use government to impose their religious views upon others. In this case, perhaps the religious right has a better understanding of the outcome of a Romney presidency than Jimmy Carter shows.

Santorum Suspends Campaign; Romney Nomination Inevitable

It is time for Romney to shake his Etch A Sketch. Rick Santorum has suspended his campaign.  Most likely he realized that it is better to get out now as opposed to being humiliated by a loss in Pennsylvania.

Gingrich is still in but his campaign appears dead. Even Herman Cain is dropping Gingrich for Romney. Ron Paul is still in the race, running ads attacking the other Republican opponents, but he remains with zero chance of ever winning the nomination. It was already pretty clear, but in case anyone had any doubt it is now as certain as it can be before the conventions that the general election will be Romney vs. Obama.

May the honest, consistent man with integrity win.

Can Paul Deliver His Support To Romney?

There has been a lot of talk lately about Ron Paul teaming up with Mitt Romney. This has raised some questions in my mind. First of all, will it matter? Paul is concentrating on the caucus states where the final delegate counts might not be entirely consistent with vote, but at the moment Paul does not have all that many delegates. Even if for the sake of discussion we assume that Paul wins enough delegates to matter should Romney be just short of enough to win the nomination, there is also the question as to whether he will be able to deliver his support to Romney. After all, with the lack of enthusiasm for Romney, it is certainly possible he could fall short of the required amount.

Paul’s supporters have created a myth that Ron Paul is a hyper-moral and consistent non-politician. His career has demonstrated just the opposite. This ranges from his support for earmarks to his pandering to racists to raise money. Even his support for freedom is quite inconsistent, opposing the right of a woman to control her own body at the level of federal legislation. His support for freedom in other areas remains limited to the level of the federal government, with his view of the power of state governments making him the ideal candidate for the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who make up much of his support.

A post at The Hill’s Pundits Blog provides further insight into the difficulties Paul is having over his romance with Mitt Romney:

The perception of a secret side deal between Ron Paul and Mitt Romney is now creating a major backlash from conservatives and relegating the Paul campaign to third-tier status. While major media have begun withdrawing embeds and reducing coverage of the Paul campaign, conservatives are increasingly angry with Paul (and Gingrich) for helping Romney. I never thought I would say this, but Rick Perry has been acting like a far more honorable and consistent conservative than Paul, who may well be engaging in old-style politics backroom behavior…

Paul has a very limited amount of time left to restore some purpose to his campaign. He is very close to being marginalized into insignificance. His romance with Romney is destroying his candidacy and creating a growing anger and backlash against him from conservatives. His behavior is damaging his own credibility and doing long-term damage to Rand, with the broader conservative movement that does not want Romney and does not appreciate Romney enablers.

While Ron Paul is doing poorly in his campaign, at least the comments to the linked post do show that Paul continues to maintain support on line from the same types of irrational kooks as he had back in 2008.

Jeb Bush Accurately Describes Current GOP Field

Jeb Bush, generally regarded as George’s younger, smarter brother,  has been receiving a lot of credit this week for saying what any sane conservative should realize:

“I used to be a conservative and I watch these debates and I’m wondering, I don’t think I’ve changed, but it’s a little troubling sometimes when people are appealing to people’s fears and emotion rather than trying to get them to look over the horizon for a broader perspective and that’s kind of where we are.”

It is a shame he didn’t speak out when his brother was in the White House. While the Republican Party has moved even further to the right, the fact remains that George Bush was probably the most radical right wing president in our history, and few (if any) other presidents have done as much harm to the country as Bush.

I wonder if Jeb is laying the groundwork for a 2016 campaign, already realizing the importance of distancing himself from what could be a disastrous campaign in 2012. This assumes that the Republican Party will be more sane in 2016 than it is now, which is a very questionable prediction. It is easy for Jeb Bush to sound more sane now when he is not running. If he was a candidate for the 2012 nomination he might be forced to act just as insane as Santorum, Gingrich, Paul, and Romney.

There was a time when perhaps Mitt Romney would be the Republican candidate who tried to tone down the extremism and campaign as the sane candidate. Instead Romney has actually tried to campaign with claims of being to the right of Rick Santorum. As Bill Maher has pointed out, that cannot work:  “he can’t be to the right of Rick Santorum because there’s nothing to the right except Kirk Cameron and the Neo-Nazi Party.”

Romney Wins on Saturday–Barely

In quick follow-up of yesterday’s look at the Republican nomination battle, Mitt Romney did the minimum necessary to win yesterday’s events, but not in a very convincing manner. Both many commentators and Rick Santorum have attributed Romney’s win at CPAC to busing in large numbers of college students on from the east coast, analogous to how Ron Paul won the past two years. Today Santorum is outright accusing Romney of rigging the vote:

Romney beat Santorum by 7 points Saturday in a straw poll of almost 3,500 attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Santorum pointed out that Ron Paul had won the poll in both of the past two years “because he just trucks in a lot of people pays for their ticket, they come in and vote and then leave.”

“I don’t try to rig straw polls,” Santorum said on CNN’s State of the Union.

Paul actually came in last on Saturday, having declined to address the conference or to activate his base for the straw poll. But Santorum said that wasn’t the case with Romney.

“You have to talk to the Romney campaign and how many tickets they bought,” Santorum said. “We’ve heard all sorts of things.”

Romney won with 38 percent, followed by Santorum at 31 percent, Gingrich at 15 percent and Ron Paul at 12 percent. It is notable  that the combined voted received by Santorum and Gingrich significantly exceeds that received by Romney. I believe that if Newt Gingrich were to leave the race, Rick Santorum would be the most likely winner. On the other hand, polls show that Santorum supporters are more mixed in their second place choices, probably due to Newt Gingrich’s past, and Romney would remain the front runner if Gingrich dropped out.

Romney also won in Maine, but only by three points over Ron Paul, the only other candidate to actively campaign in the state. Only beating a crackpot such as Ron Paul by three percent is hardly very impressive. This might be partially be because the major Republican candidates have seen no point in devoting any effort to campaigning against Paul, hoping to keep some of his supporters in the party. They know that any concentrated effort to bring up Paul’s negatives would easily knock him back into the single digits should he ever become a real threat.

Rick Santorum Becomes Eleventh Candidate To Lead GOP In Polls With Mitt Romney Severely Facing Problems

Although the conventional wisdom has been that Mitt Romney is the probable Republican nominee, he is certainly having a hard time establishing himself as a front runner. Before today’s poll came out, Nate Silver listed ten previous front-runners  in alphabetical order, including some Republicans who led in the polls without being a declared candidate: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Donald Trump. Today, Public Policy Polling makes Rick Santorum the eleventh. Santorum leads at 38 percent. Romney trails at 23 percent, with Gingrich at 17 percent and Ron Paul at 13 percent.

Rick Santorum does even better if he does not have to divide he conservative vote with Newt Gingrich. If Gingrich were to drop out, the poll shows that 58 percent of his supporters would go to Santorum. In a such a three way race, Santorum get to 50 percent, while Romney would be at 28 percent and Paul at 15 percent.

Leadership in the GOP race has not meant very much to date, but falling behind at this stage does create problems for Romney. He might go negative against Santorum as he did against Gingrich, but his negative ads are starting to backfire. Some suggest that instead of going negative against Santorum, Romney must convert to a positive campaign. I’m not sure how a man who lacks any core beliefs or convictions can do this.  His strongest pitch is that he can make up the biggest lies about Barack Obama.

The Maine caucuses conclude tonight with a two-man race between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. There is speculation that Paul might be able to pull an upset victory. If you cannot beat a crackpot like Ron Paul, it is hard to see victory for the nomination as inevitable.

There’s another potential embarrassment for Romney. Public Policy Polling is also seeing the start of a surge for Santorum in Michigan. A loss in Michigan would be devastating to Romney, both for losing his home state and because of reinforcing Santorum’s dominance over Romney in the Midwest. Perhaps Romney will try to flip-flop on having been born and raised in Michigan. Would Mitt Romney’s birth certificate then become an issue?

CPAC is also conducting their straw poll. To paraphrase Jay Leno, Romney is promising to change his views to whatever views CPAC members desire. Romney pandered before them, claiming to be “severely conservative.” The word severe might sound out of place here, unless you see it as an honest admission from Romney, such as “I am severely insane” or, at very least, “I am severely out of touch with the voters of this country.”