First the Pols . . . as in the trio of politicians (3M-state governors) recent trip to Iraq). There's a great blog/diary entry by one of the Air Force's C-130 pilots who flew the governors into Baghdad. A couple of the relevant exerpts:
Romney was on the flight deck with us for the takeoff, and not knowing Mitt Romney from Knute Rockne I asked him who he was. When he told me he was Massachusett's governor, I politely asked him to leave the flight deck, declaring the cockpit off limits to all Red Sox fans. He laughed and made a few cracks my way, regarding the Yanks, and we hit it off pretty well. I asked him if he was at Fenway when the Sox finally won the World Series, and with a huge boyish grin he replied, "Yes I was."
And later . . .
Two helicopters waited fifty feet from our plane for them, but before anyone could whisk them away, the governors promised us a few photos, and were gracious enough to oblige. Romney even handed me his personal coin, and told me "You're not a bad guy... for a Yankees fan." I wished him "Good Luck in '08," and we went our separate ways.
Anyone know what a "personal coin" is? Again, people who meet Mr. Romney always seem to come off very impressed . . . even Yankee fans!
UPDATE 5/31 . . . Ann Marie Curling over at Elect Romney In 2008 was recently in contact with Capt. and was able to obtain photos of the "personal coin" . . . Great job Ann Marie!
Now onto the Polls:
This first ABC News poll (props to Jason at Illinoisians for Mitt for finding this one) confirms what most of us know already . . . and that's that it is way too early for anyone to be a "lock" as a frontrunner. Only 9% of voters polled at this point "would definitely vote for McCain" . . . less than half of those that are already sold on Hillary (19%). Broken down to just the Republicans and he's still only got 11% "sealed-uup" at this point. What is even more encouraging for Mr. Romney (both in the primary and in the general election) is that 28% of those polled would definitely not vote for McCain and 42% for Hillary. This confirms the polarizing nature of Hillary amogst voters since nearly two-thirds (61%) of voters have already made up their minds on Hillary. The Republican field seems to be wide open!
The last interesting poll summarized and linked at a Giuliani blog site is another of the "cold-call" phone survey types (which means that they're all about name recognition . . . since most people don't care this early in the game and are apt to agree to the first name that they recognize that doesn't completely repulse them just to get off the phone and back to dinner. I mean who hasn't heard of McCain, Giuliani, or Newt? No surprise that they're leading).
Governor Romney has never been a "frontrunner" in these kinds of polls (see this link for lots of them over the last several months) because of his poor name recognition. However, it is interesting that where his name is better known (i.e. Michigan . . . where at least the older crowd remember his fathers leadership), he is definitely on the map at 15%. Look for these numbers to go up once he formally announces his candidacy and is seen/recognized in the public eye as a serious contender.
One other thing to consider is that George Allen seems to have almost NO support outside of the south . . . 3% in Michigan and 1% in Washington State? That's not going to get him very far in the GOP primaries . . . but again, that might be mostly name recognition as well . . . but 1% . . .)
It should be an interesting next 8-12 months as the candidates announce their campaigns and the race starts to take form.