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Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Few Items of Interest

The online poll voting for Romney in the last couple of days showed some results. Romney won both monthly polls at StrawPoll'08. Also, Romney won the monthly poll for the first time at "The Next Prez" blogsite. Remember the part on the right sidebar "Poll-Roll" as a place to come daily to vote for Mitt.

Over at Human Events Online, John Hawkins (who runs the "Right Wing News" blogsite), has laid out some "The Conservative Case Against _________ (fill in your 2008 GOP hopeful" articles lately. He wrote one about McCain a few months ago and one about Rudy Giuliani just a couple of days ago. Romney hasn't always gotten the best press from Human Events Online, we'll wait to see if or how they deal with Romney.

Romney Holding strong @ #2 in National Journal WH'08 Race Rankings

Another month goes by and Romney is still holding strong at #2 in the National Journal White House 2008 Race Rankings. National Journal and Hotline-On Call are one in the same and I have always noticed a pro-McCain slant from those sources(Granted, one of their main competitors, National Review (& especially Nat. Rev. Online has a decided pro-Romney slant). As Romney has been getting stronger and stronger the "blurbs" about him in the rankings have become increasingly negative. Just and observation.

Interestingly, George Allen has dropped from #3 to #5 post-"Macaca".

There's also a poll in the sidebar where you can rank your favorite five for each party.

FRC Action Values Voter Summit

Mitt Romney will be speaking at the 2006 Values Voter Summit. The summit will be in Washington D.C. on September 22-23.

Looks like a wonderful conference! The speaking list reads like a "Who's Who" of conservative causes: Hannity, Dobson, Bennett, Gonzalez, Falwell, Coulter, Bauer (not Jack), and Bozell (and many, many more).

The list of GOP 2008 Presidential hopefuls who will be speaking is very interesting: Allen, Huckabee, Romney, Gingrich, and Brownback are all slated to speak. McCain, Giuliani, and Pataki will not be at the conference. I see this as a great sign for Romney! He's really lining up as the conservative alternative to McCain and Giuliani! They will be having a Presidential Straw Poll at the event. Those results should be interesting. We'll watch this one closely.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Online Polls: Update

OK, I'm not convinced that these online polls mean much . . . but I do think that the more votes Gov. Romney gets, the more people who encounter such polls will be interested in finding out about Romney if they are currently uninformed. It's also nice to show that Romney has strong support from the online community.

Also, since we can vote in many of the online polls daily, I've added
a new feature to my Iowans for Romney blogsite. On the right sidebar, under the
small picture of Mitt's Turnaround book, is a new heading titled:

"VOTE FOR MITT: Online Polls!"

I'll try to keep it updated. Consider going there to vote for Mitt as part of your daily routine . . . that way we'll stay ahead in some of these polls and not need to play catch-up. Please inform me if you know of other online polls so I can get them on the "Poll-roll."

One that we're just a few votes away from winning (and should be closing tomorrow evening is the one at Strawpoll'08 (the first column)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Alabama for Romney Up & "Tar Baby" Still Stickin (in people's minds)

Romney state blogs can now start the alphabetical list off right! Karl Basham, who has recently helped re-vitalize Mississippi for Mitt, has started "Alabama for Romney" and has several excellent new posts in the last few days. Karl is a Captain (soon to make Major) in the Air Force and is going in less than two weeks for a 6 month deployment in Iraq.

Speaking of Alabama, I ran into an article titled "ALABAMA VOICES: Word thieves threaten richness of language" from the Montgomery Advertiser by Tom Fitzpatrick. It only mentions Romney periperally, but the writer laments that a literary rich term like "tar baby" has been hijacked by race-baiters and will become taboo in our vocabluary as a racial slur. This topic is near and dear to me, because, as many readers here may know, I asked the question to Romney at the Ames event last month that elicited his "tar baby" comment.

Fitzpatrick delves into an interesting history of the orgin of the term and laments about its apparent sailing into the sunset. Of Romney, the story mentions:

Gov. Romney referred to the Boston "Big Dig" tunnel fiasco as a tar baby he didn't want to touch. Sounds apt, but critics across the nation, led by black activists, savaged him. Romney apparently didn't know that "tar baby" in recent years has become a racist's epithet for a black person.

Personally, I think it will be a disgrace and loss to both blacks and whites if "tar baby" is allowed to be pirated by word thieves, goes the way of "gay" and "intercourse," and lives on bereft of its original meaning.

Well said Mr. Fitzpatrick!

Look at all the debate my simple question led to . . . who would've thunk it . . .


Monday, August 28, 2006

RudyBlogger calls Romney "Formidable Challenger" for Giuliani

I just cam accrosed a most unusual source of praise and cause for encouragment for Romney fans--a Rudy Giuliani Blogsite Entry:

And if I'm the campaign pollster for Mitt Romney, I'm thinking that those voters are much more easily peeled off from John McCain.

I e-mailed David Johnson of Strategic Vision to ask if I was heading in the right direction. Here was his response:

Every piece of polling evidence that we have from our statewide polls show that Rudy Giuliani and not John McCain is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in 2008 regardless of who else is in the race. In only one state does McCain outpoll Giuliani -- Michigan -- and that can be attributed to the residual effect of McCain's victory in the state in 2000. However, in that state, Romney is on the rise and he is taking voters away from McCain not Giuliani. At this time, it appears that Romney is emerging as the candidate to break out of the pack and take on Giuliani and McCain. (emphasis added)

So, in scenarios where both Rice and Romney grab a higher share of the vote, they take more from McCain. As Romney rises, McCain falls and Rudy stays steady, setting up a Giuliani vs. Romney battle for Iowa and New Hampshire.

So, in scenarios where both Rice and Romney grab a higher share of the vote, they take more from McCain. As Romney rises, McCain falls and Rudy stays steady, setting up a Giuliani vs. Romney battle for Iowa and New Hampshire.
After some more analysis RudyBlogger finishes:
All this said -- Don't get cocky. I don't think John McCain will be around to bother us in February '08, but that doesn't mean we won't face an even more formidable challenger. Post Macaca, that looks like it will be Mitt Romney.
It's pretty well documented that McCain people see Romney as the biggest threat . . . now the Rudy fans seem to be coming to a similar conclusion. Prepare yourselves for attacks on Romney from every side possible!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Romney's Judicial Appointments and Philosophy: No, it's not the "pro-gay rights", "pro-activist judges" picture painted by some

What I've created below is in response to a commonly recurring attack on Romney: that he can't be trusted to appoint good conservative/constructionist judges because of his record of judicial appointees as Massachusetts Governor, specifically regarding gay-activist judges.

The issue came up in a discussion thread to an article I posted on Free Republic (Over 135 comments so far, and some heated debate). One comment (#123), by JohnnyZ summed up the most common attack:

Romney's record on judges is perhaps the most atrocious part of his political record.

He has nominated not one but TWO homosexual liberal Democrat gay marriage activists as judges in Massachusetts. Most of his judicial nominations have been Democrats. There are no reported instances of Mitt fighting for more conservative judges in Massachusetts. By all accounts the liberal Democrats who must approve his picks have had no complaints with his selections. (That's a good indication he's not doing his job right!!!)

I wouldn't put anything past a flip-flopper like Romney, but going from nominating pro-gay marriage activist Democrats, who are openly homosexual themselves, to nominating conservative justices for the Supreme Court -- well, really, it does strain credulity.

Romney has also been attacked on Red State (Usually by Gary Glenn) several times on this issue and it will be a recurring mantra for those trying to discredit Romney on the issue of abortion (since SCOTUS nominees represent the greatest influence a POTUS can have on the abortion issue).

Governor Romney has been criticized by some conservatives for not appointing enough Republican judges. As you read this, I think you'll come to understand that Romney has done an excellent job on judicial appointees, has been pragmatic, and has navigated the liberal waters of Massachusetts politics better than one would have expected. Hopefully, this piece, in combination with Nathan Burd's excellent piece "A Pro-Life Perspective on a Mitt Romney Presidency" can act as resources for Romney supporters wanting to "clear the air" when Romney is incorrectly criticized on these points.

Much of what follows comes from a Boston Globe article from July 2005. I have "sterilized" out much of the anti-Romney slant that we've all come to expect out of that left-leaning rag (but you can go to the link and read it all).

As of one year ago Romney had nominated 9 Republicans and 14 Democrats as judicial appointees (and a host of "unenrolled" appointees) . . . this in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 4-1 and the legislature is 87% Democrats. Sounds like Romney is beating the statistics there! But what is impressive, is that for Romney, it's not just about playing politics with judicial appointees. The article states:

With increased attention on judicial nominees after President Bush's nomination of John G. Roberts Jr. to the US Supreme Court, Romney said Friday that he has not paid a moment's notice to his nominees' political leanings or sexual orientation -- or to the impact his choices might have on a future presidential run. He said he has focused on two factors: their legal experience and whether the nominees would be tough on crime. He said most of the nominees have prosecutorial experience.

The governor said that, so far, he has had few chances to appoint judges to the highest state courts, where his criteria would change to include ''strict construction, judicial philosophy."

''With regards to those at the district court and clerk magistrate level, their political views aren't really going to come into play unless their views indicate they will be soft on crime, because in that case, apply elsewhere," Romney said.

The above is a key point. Ziuko on Red State commented: "If Federal courts are the major leagues, state [and district] courts aren't even the minor leagues, they're a pick up game of tee ball. Having the right connections seems to be about the only important attribute for any candidate. Judicial philosophy never seems to enter into it."

So, I would ask what the big hullabaloo is about Romney's appointments (the two that had a history of gay activism OUTSIDE of the courtroom)? Who gives a rip if a small-time criminal court judge is gay!?!--especially if they have a judicial record of being tough on crime and are working in criminal courts!

Romney won praise in the legal community when he replaced regional judicial nominating committees that were viewed as politically tainted with a centralized Judicial Nominating Commission. The commission considers applicants using a ''blind" first phase of the selection process that removes names from applications in an attempt to ensure the candidates will be judged on their merits. In addition, all of Romney's nominees have been submitted to a Joint Bar Committee on Judicial Nominations, which rates candidates as qualified, well-qualified, or unqualified -- and each has been found to be either qualified or well-qualified.

As a Harvard Law cum laude graduate, Romney obviously knows a thing or two about proper qualifications for a good judge . . . not one that he's recommended has been considered "unqualified."

The BG article continues:

there is evidence to suggest that Romney is making sure his fellow Republicans and conservatives get a piece of the action.

Romney has faced criticism from Governor's Councilors and some bar associations for failing to nominate more women, minorities, and defense attorneys to the bench. Seeking to counter such attacks, Romney's appointee to the chairmanship of the Judicial Nominating Commission, Boston lawyer Christopher D. Moore, has reached out to minority and women's bar associations to encourage members to apply. He's done the same with the state lesbian and gay bar association, which also has a seat on Romney's joint bar committee.

Later, some more about Moore:

Romney's choice to chair the Judicial Nomination Commission, Moore, is a member of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group that fights ''judicial activism" and promotes the legal system as the preeminent venue for protecting ''traditional values."

Then comes one of the "kickers" . . . seeing who Romney has to get his nominees passed through:

After Romney nominates the candidate, the pick must be approved by the Governor's Council , where Democrats hold eight of nine seats [all of them elected officials . . . not Romney appointments see here]. . .

''He's tried to have a process devoid of politics, [but] he also has to get his nominees approved by the Governor's Council, and that is not a bipartisan body," said Jones, of Reading. ''The biggest problem in trying to reform the system to make it devoid of politics is that not everyone else buys into that model."

Romney, asked if he has engaged in any horse-trading with Democratic politicians, said: ''So far I have not ever given any weight whatsoever to whether I think someone can make it through the Governor's Council. I send them individuals who I feel are highly qualified and have the right judicial temperament related to crime and punishment

But what about higher level appointees?

Peter Vickery, one of the Democrats on the Governor's Council, says he believes Romney and Moore would seek far more conservative jurists if a vacancy were to pop up on the Supreme Judicial Court, which delivered the gay marriage decision that Romney has routinely blasted.

Some of Romney's nominees do have stellar Republican or conservative bona fides. For example, Romney's pick for Peabody clerk magistrate, Kevin L. Finnegan, is a former two-term Republican state representative. Another choice was Bruce R. Henry, the son-in-law of former SJC Justice Joseph Nolan -- whom Romney wanted to represent his administration in seeking a stay of the court's gay marriage ruling.

Taking another angle altogether . . . Romney recently refused to re-appoint David Gorton, the former Commissioner on the Appellate Tax Board (a panel of five judges), in part because of his questionable ethics and his outspoken gay activism negatively influencing his job performance. According to this article:
"I won't rule out homophobia," said Gorton, who has been a gay rights activist and community leader. From 1988 to 1994, Gorton served as chair of the Greater Boston Gay &Lesbian Political Alliance.

Currently, he is on the board of directors for The Gay & Lesbian Review, serving as its clerk.

The rub for Romney, Gordon believes, stems from the governor's presidential ambitions. "The religious right hates gay activists with a passion, and I am the kind of guy who would raise red flags," Gorton said. "Although I am a judge on the job and an activist on the side, I fit their stereotype of 'activist judge.'"

Although no gay-marriage tax cases have yet to come before the board, Gorton believes it is only a matter of time before they will.
Gorton, who has served on the board for more than nine years, has expertise and experience with both kinds of appeals.

Looks like a position where a gay activist could negatively swing decisions/opinions. HUGE RED FLAG!! Fortunately, Romney had the sense to not re-appoint him.

Therefore, does Romney get credit for taking away one gay activist judge? Will this subtract out either of the two that the anti-Romney conservatives are complaining about? I'm guessing they'll choose to ignore that piece of history.

JohnnyZ said that Romney appointed "TWO homosexual liberal Democrat gay marriage activists"

Well, lets look at these appointees in more depth. First is Stephen S. Abany who was appointed to district court(as an "Associate Justice," the lowest rung at the district court level) . . . first off, it turns out that he IS NOT a registered Democrat (so JohnnyZ was wrong again . . . no surprise there I guess, I'm getting quite used to it) but his leanings and voting are generally liberal (AKA Democratic). Abany was 57 years old when he was appointed to a DISTRICT Court . . . not even a remote threat to rise up through the judicial system to become a Supreme Court caliber appointee.

The other appointee JohnnyZ refers to isn't even homosexual (as far as anyone has publicly claimed). Marianne C. Hinkle, a longtime state and federal prosecutor (and VERY TOUGH ON CRIME), was the another nominee in question. She's a Democrat and a member of a group that tries to promote gay rights in the Catholic church but has no record of judicial/courtroom activism. She was appointed at the same "lowest rung" at the District Court level as Abany and she was similarly in her late 50's when appointed.

This Romney guys knows what he's doing. He has been pragmatic and wise in his appointments given the environment he works in.

Also, Romney has been a long-time and outspoken opponent of activist judges. He has tight ties with the Federalist Society and his private charity group has donated to it (liberals have criticized this before). What follows now is some of Romney's extensive record of being against activist judges and on coming down on the conservative side of court decisions:

These Boston Globe piece excerpts help show that Romney is on the right side of the judicial activism issue:

WASHINGTON -- Governor Mitt Romney leveled an unusually personal attack yesterday at the Supreme Judicial Court for legalizing same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, telling a group of conservative lawyers and judges that the justices issued the ruling to promote their values and those of ''their like-minded friends in the communities they socialize in."

Though Romney has criticized the SJC's watershed 2003 decision many times before, the broadside he delivered at the Federalist Society's National Lawyers Convention in Washington, D.C., was an atypically sharp and direct attack on the four justices who found that the Massachusetts Constitution afforded gays and lesbians the right to marry.

''If a judge substitutes his or her values for those values that were placed in the constitution, they do so at great peril to the culture of our entire land," he said.

The remarks won applause from the 500 lawyers, scholars, and others who packed a ballroom to hear Romney's speech.

. . .

Romney ended his speech by praising the new chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, and President Bush's current pick to replace outgoing Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Several Federalist Society members said afterward that they were impressed by what they heard from Romney. ''I think he said the right thing: Decisions should be left to the people," said Peter Urbanowicz, a Dallas lawyer.

And quotes back from 2004 from another piece:

Romney: ''Beware of activist judges. The Legislature is our lawmaking body, and it is the Legislature's job to pass laws. . . . While the law protects states from being forced to recognize gay marriage, activist state courts could reach a different conclusion, just as ours did. It would be disruptive and confusing to have a patchwork of inconsistent marriage laws between states. Amending the Constitution may be the best and most reliable way to prevent such confusion and preserve the institution of marriage." (Wall Street Journal op-ed, Feb. 5, 2004)

Romney: ''The real threat to the states is not the constitutional amendment process, in which the states participate, but activist judges who disregard the law and redefine marriage in order to impose their will on the states, and on the whole nation. At this point, the only way to reestablish the status quo ante is to preserve the definition of marriage in the federal Constitution before courts redefine it out of existence." (Testimony to Senate Judiciary Committee, June 22, 2004)

Even earlier that year he wrote a powerful opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal called "One Man, One Woman: A citizen's guide to protecting marriage"

Beware of activist judges. The Legislature is our lawmaking body, and it is the Legislature's job to pass laws. As governor, it is my job to carry out the laws. The Supreme Judicial Court decides cases where there is a dispute as to the meaning of the laws or the constitution. This is not simply a separation of the branches of government, it is also a balance of powers: One branch is not to do the work of the other. It is not the job of judges to make laws, the job of legislators to command the National Guard, or my job to resolve litigation between citizens. If the powers were not separated this way, an official could make the laws, enforce them, and stop court challenges to them. No one branch or person should have that kind of power. It is inconsistent with a constitutional democracy that guarantees to the people the ultimate power to control their government.

With the Dred Scott case, decided four years before he took office, President Lincoln faced a judicial decision that he believed was terribly wrong and badly misinterpreted the U.S. Constitution. Here is what Lincoln said: "If the policy of the government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made in ordinary litigation between parties in personal actions the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal." By its decision, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts circumvented the Legislature and the executive, and assumed to itself the power of legislating. That's wrong.

Yet another quote:
''He's trying to get candidates who are conservative and probusiness and who have a prosecutorial background, tough on crime, and to use the words that have been flying around for a few years, he doesn't want any of those activist judges on the bench," said Kathleen M. O'Donnell, past president of the Massachusetts Bar Association.

From the Christian Broadcasting Network:

"As governor, all of the issues that have come to my desk that have dealt with the matter of abortion, I have decided on the side of life," Romney said.

The pro-life Romney now seems to have the entire social conservative values package. He is also not pleased with activist judges and supports the push for a constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage.

"The idea of not allowing ‘Under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance or taking ‘In God we trust’ off our coins – those are just nutty," Romney said.

While in Georgia recently Romney said of the Gitmo ruling:

Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts said Thursday that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Guantanamo Bay detainees was just another reason why the nation should elect a Republican president again in 2008 _ to get more conservative judges on the high court.

The Supreme Court ruled that President Bush overstepped his authority in ordering military war crimes trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees, saying in a strong rebuke that the trials were illegal under U.S. and international law.

The court declared 5-3 that the trials for 10 foreign terror suspects violate U.S. law and the Geneva conventions.

"To apply the Geneva accords is very strange in my view,"

On Eminent Domain Ruling (part of this is from the Hugh Hewitt show):
HH: Last question, Governor. Today, the Supreme Court upheld a extraordinary exercise of eminent domain on private property for transfer to other private property. Are you surprised by this? Does it alarm you?

MR: You know, the Supreme Court made an error in judgment on this one. You know, I understand the purpose of eminent domain, to make sure that when roads need to be built, or public purposes are involved, that private property can be taken when there's fair compensation. But to basically say a mall developer could get eminent domain to take away peoples' homes, that is not a good idea. The liberals on the Court made a mistake on this, and we're going to have to get a Court that's willing to stand by the rights of property owners

Obviously, Romney's pragmatism will continue to turn off some ultra-conservatives and they will continue to label him as a RINO or some other derogatory label. But many of their attacks are either dishonest or flat out wrong and need to be combated.

Are there more conservative politicians out there? Sure.

Can any of them make a serious run at winning the presidency? Not looking like it now.

Can any of them lead as effectively as Romney could? I highly doubt it.

Romney's record of judicial appointees is not worrisome to this Reagan Republican.

I look forward to a potential President Romney nominating constructionist and qualified individuals to the SCOTUS, just like he has said he would. One thing you'd be hard pressed to attack Romney on is his record of keeping campaign promises. He has been a man, and politician, of his word--truly a rare gem in our country today.

A Breeze Around the Blogs

Mississippi for Mitt has added a new blogger, Karl Basham (disclaimer . . . Karl is my brother-in-law and is about to be deployed to Iraq from his military base in storm ravaged costal Mississippi . . . go to his recent blog entries and wish him well!) A sampling of one of he recent entries:

I met Gov Romney while he was in Iowa; end of July time frame. My brother in law invited me to hear him speak at two occasions. I have to admit the man is impressive. There where four things that stood out to me:

1. The War on Terrorism – Gov Romney called it a war against radical jihadists; not insurgents or criminals or some soft name. He clearly understands they are people bent on killing us and they are a real threat that needs to be dealt with. He even visited troops in Iraq, from his state, to see first hand what the situation in theater was like. Being a member of the armed forces I was impressed that he is not to afraid to truly identify the enemy.

Two other points he listed were:

3. His speech wasn’t one of, “the Democrats this…” and “the other party is bad at that…” He spoke of how great America is. He used stories from the Olympics, the Boy Scouts, people he has met around the U.S. It reminded me of Reagan, a leader who believed in the greatness of this country.

4. Now this may seem strange if you don’t have kids but the way people treat our children gives insight into them. My son Benjamin ran right up to Gov Romney and hugged him right at the knees. Gov Romney took it in total stride and hugged him right back and gave him the “Grand Pa” pat on the back. You know that pat on the back that only loving grand dads give there grand sons. Well, when I saw it and then found out he has 5 children; I couldn’t think of a better family man to hold up as an example to the nation. Think about it, in a time where marriage is being defined in different ways and some youth have doubts about it all together, here is a man married to the same woman, raised five children and has a successful life.

At Illinoisians for Mitt there is an interesting piece about Romney's background and it's effect on future and current economic policy from one of their new bloggers, Jonathan. There's also always interesting information that Jason is posting there.

Also, South Carolinians for Romney stays active with three people contributing (Andru, Jason, and Rob).

Similarly, Washingtonians for Mitt has a lot of great recent blog entries.

Oregonians for Mitt has started a companion blogsite

New Hampshire for Romney and Michiganders for Romney are doing a great job too.

Texans for Mitt
is kept active by Kevin with quick links and one sentence commentaries.

Great support for Romney coming from all over the place! Not surprising . . . but impressive!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Schools should use English, Massachusetts Gov. Romney says

Here in Iowa Romney spoke with local Republicans yesterday about an important issue . . . the fact that English is the language of our country.

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, campaigning for Iowa Republicans on Friday, said that while the United States should embrace its diversity, all students should be immersed in the English language.

"If you're going to be successful in America, you have to speak the language of the land," Romney told a group of about 60 Dallas County elected officials and Republicans on Friday in West Des Moines.

Romney spoke at a fundraiser breakfast for state Rep. Ralph Watts, who is seeking re-election in November. Watts, of Adel, faces Democrat Russ Wiesley of Waukee.

Romney is eyeing the 2008 presidential nomination. This is his seventh trip to Iowa since 2004. The 2008 Republican presidential nominating process is scheduled to begin with the Iowa caucuses.

Romney said he has been a proponent of "English immersion," in which a bilingual student is placed in a classroom where all materials, books and instruction are in English.

Voters in Massachusetts approved a ballot initiative for English immersion in 2002, the same year Romney was elected.

Romney vetoed legislation the next year to soften the law and allow bilingual education to continue, but his veto was overridden.

Romney said English immersion has worked in Massachusetts, where fourth- and fifth-graders this year rated first in the nation on standardized English tests.

Having grown up in California and living in Latin America (immersing myself in their language and culture), I agree that English Immersion is the only way to go. It's better for EVERYBODY in the long term and helps UNITE rather than divide our populace.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Bits and Pieces: Tons of 'em

I remember when the Sales Tax Holiday was signed by Romney a few weeks back . . . but I didn't realize that what he signed was the largest such law in the nation (among the many states that have one as reviewed in the USA Today)

On Wednesday, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, signed a law that creates the nation's biggest tax holiday. All retail sales under $2,500 will be exempt from the state's 5% sales tax Aug. 12-13.

Also from the USAToday, a review of 2008 hopefuls actions in the early primary/caucus states highlights how the political landscape may change in this next election cycle. Alabama will stand poised to be "a player" in the Presidential Primaries in '08:

Six prospects also showed up over the past year in Alabama, which recently moved its 2008 presidential primary from June 3 to Feb. 5.

Alabama looms large for Republicans as well. Arizona Sen. John McCain has given $107,750 to state and local candidates and committees there since January. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., a leading campaigner for GOP Senate candidates, is squeezing in three fundraisers Tuesday for state legislative candidates. Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee spoke at a state party fundraising dinner, and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is planning a trip.

One of the more palatable Democratic possibles, Evan Bayh is "employing" (literally) and interesting strategey:

Besides giving money, Bayh has found, trained and paid 50 campaign operatives in a program called Camp Bayh. Besides the three in Nevada, he's sent one to South Carolina, 15 to New Hampshire, 25 to Iowa and six to Indiana.

Bayh's Iowa contingent is "by far" the largest any Democrat has ever fielded, Bayh spokesman Dan Pfeiffer says. Most are working on legislative races. All, like their counterparts in the other states, are gaining knowledge and contacts that will be invaluable if Bayh runs and they stick with him.

Bayh isn't the only one getting creative . . . Romney's state PAC idea has given him an advantage over many other GOP hopefuls:

Romney has created political action committees in Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan and South Carolina. They can raise lots of money fast because they aren't subject to federal contribution limits. He's spent most of his money on state and local races: $192,650 in Iowa, $95,000 in New Hampshire, $168,715 in Michigan and $131,500 in South Carolina, Romney's records show.

Romney and McCain are fighting a money battle in Michigan and South Carolina, which usually follow Iowa and New Hampshire in the GOP primary lineup. McCain, who won Michigan in 2000, has given at least $158,000 to state and local party committees there, according to federal records and McCain's staff. In South Carolina, which he lost in 2000, McCain has already spent nearly $150,000 on state and local campaigns.

Another interesting find was someone pointing out the irony of Romney's "Polygamy Problem" among the GOP frontrunner field.

Romney's "name recognition" must be improving some . . . because he's starting to do a little better in phone "cold call" polls about the 2008 GOP race. According to some recent Strategic Vision polls Romney placed in 3rd (behind McCain and Giuliani) in New Jersey, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and 4th (behind those two and homeboy Newt). In about 8 weeks Romney has made some progress in Georgia (from 5th and 4% to 4th and 6%). Granted, not huge numbers, but Romney is definitely headed in the right direction (just a few months ago it was not uncommon for him to get 0-2% in these polls)!

This New York Times piece reveiws the landscape for the 2008 presidential race and had a few Romney tidbits:

Mr. Romney has four full-time workers in Iowa and three in South Carolina, his aides said. And the candidates themselves do seem to be everywhere, in what officials in both parties take as a sign of how times have shifted . . . Mr. Romney announced that he had created a 75-member Michigan Steering Committee, widely viewed as the cornerstone of a Romney-for-President operation in the state.

There may be a dwindling opportunity to nail down big names — Mr. McCain’s aides said this week that Robert B. Zoellick, the former deputy secretary of state, was the latest big name to join the McCain camp. But it is also important to be perceived by contributors and political journalists as viable and gaining support.

Mr. Romney’s supporters were understandably cheered when David Yepsen, the influential columnist for The Des Moines Register, wrote a column showering Mr. Romney’s efforts with praise, calling him the best organized of any Republican candidate in the state and declaring that he was “well on his way toward winning the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses.”

Mr. Romney, clearly enjoying his role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, went to Cedar Rapids to campaign with Representative Jim Nussle, the Republican candidate for governor. There, Mr. Romney announced, to the audible gasps from an audience of devoted Republicans, that his committee was giving $500,000 to the Nussle campaign.

One of the top members of Mr. Bush’s campaigns, Matthew Dowd, who was his chief strategist, is the object of at least interest of both the McCain and Romney campaigns, Republicans say. “Matt is the biggest fish out there who hasn’t signed,” said one of Mr. McCain’s associates, who insisted on anonymity to discuss internal campaign deliberations.

But Mr. Dowd, along with two of the other top lieutenants in the Bush presidential campaign — Karl Rove, the president’s chief political adviser, and Ken Mehlman, the chairman of the Republican National Committee — have told friends they are unlikely to do another campaign.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Dowd follow the rest of Bush's team to McCain . . . further flaming the fire of a "quid pro quo" between McCain and Bush

In other news:

Amid a gaggle of events and gatherings one stood out: a Romney event on Aug. 18 at a coast resort. Nearly 1,000 people showed up and Romney's CommonwealthPac garnered more than $1 million. The locals were stunned: Where did that come from?

Romney's performance at the state's semi-annual GOP Convention in Century City on Aug. 20—he received a rousing standing ovation following his keynote address and kudos as well from the arch-conservative California Republican Federation—kept the political buzz mounting. One local congressman remarked that Romney "is the most gifted politician I've ever met."
. . .

But the impression is growing of significant Romney momentum among Republican elites and grassroots alike, and some pros compare Team Romney's prowess to George Bush's organizational edge in 1999. Now that the internet has changed profoundly the nature of grassroots, no campaign can play a waiting game.

Romney recently touted his record of fiscal conservatism in Iowa:

Romney touted his own record for cutting unnecessary spending in his home state. He said he has eliminated redundant agencies such as combining the state’s three highway departments to save money.

Romney said he doesn’t support cutting costs in areas such as homelessness prevention but has advocated for better use of the money. In Massachusetts, the state spent $20 million on hotel rooms for 599 rooms a night for homeless people to stay after shelters were too full.

Romney said he reorganized the system so that those people who had stayed at the shelter the longest would qualify for the hotel room instead of the newcomers. Now, the state has eliminated the need for hotel rooms, Romney said, and the money has gone to improving housing options for the homeless and low-income people.

“We’ve gotten people out of homelessness,” he said.

OK . . . that's enough for now.

Romney's Latest Visit to Iowa: Talks Social Security Reform

Romney's recent stint in Western Iowa supporting local candidates Thursday and Friday provided an opportunity for him to address the largest fiscal problem facing our nation--excessive "entitlement programs" . . . including the two burdensome behemoths, Medicare and Social Security.

From Radio Iowa's O. Kay Henderson (emphasis mine):

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2008, says it's time to reform the two major "entitlement" programs in America: Social Security and Medicare, government-paid health care insurance for the elderly. "It's really not possible for us to remain an economic and military super power without rethinking and restructuring our entitlements programs," Romney says.

After getting re-elected in 2004, President Bush proposed revamping the Social Security system but has abandoned his plan in the face of stiff opposition. Romney, as the governor of Massachusetts, signed legislation this spring that ensures nearly every citizen in his state is covered with health insurance. Premiums are based on income, low income residents are given subsidies to purchase insurance and companies that do not provide health care insurance for their workers pay a premium, too. Romney says the move will eventually reduce the amount of charity health care in Massachusetts because the very poor won't wait 'til they're very sick and need very expensive health services.

Romney suggests it's time to tackle the nation's health care system for the elderly, too. "Medicare is the largest challenge. Social Security is up there," Romney says. "Today entitlements represent, plus interest, about 60 percent of federal spending. It grows to 70 percent over the next decade as the result of the Baby Boomers flowing into the system."

Romney says leaders from both political parties will have to quit "filibustering" in public and come up with a solution in private. "Sitting down, quietly, behind closed doors and having a full and complete discussion of various ways to bring the costs down and to keep it from getting out of control," Romney says. "In my state the way we were able to do that was on Medicaid, for instance, we sat down and completely re-did our Medicaid program and put in place a new health care system that got everybody in the system and everybody paying their fair share. Those kinds of changes can occur at the federal level and there's going to be a wide array of options that will be considered."

Romney says "statesmen" from both political parties should sit down and "say honestly: 'What can we do?'" to fix Social Security. Romney says the solution should "make sure that we honor the expections" of those who are already getting Social Security and those who are about to get regular Social Security checks from the government, while at the same time ensuring the system will be solvent when the 30- and 40-year-olds of today reach retirement age.

Romney says the political reality is that changes won't happen until both political parties agree there's a problem. "We need to finally take action in this country on entitlements, on spending too much money generally, on using too much oil, on winning against the jihadists," Romney says. "There are a number of challenges that we face and we've got to take some pretty bold action."

Bold words from a bold man.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Romney's Michigan Team has Depth and Breadth (and Power and Money too)

In a similar move to his "Commonwealth PAC Iowa Advisory Board" announced just prior to the Iowa State GOP convention, this Michigan team is announced just before the Michigan State GOP convention.

THIS IS HUGE NEWS! A big "show of strength" by Romney.

On Call says of this announcement
. . .

Gov. Mitt Romney's Michigan leadership team, announced tonight, includes a half dozen Bush mega-donors, two Romneys, a member of the U.S. House, dozens of state representatives, major county chairs and a few of the state's more influential grassroots activists.

On that list are SEVEN of the Bush Rangers and/or Pioneers (looks like Cillizza will have to update his list . . . Romney was already leading on that list, but now it just looks like he's pulling away from everybody else.)

There are 13 CEO types on that list . . . a clear sign of Romney's appeal to fellow CEO/management types.

Hotline On Call says of this announcement:
The release of these names is a shot across the frontrunner's bow of Sen. John McCain, who has the support of Michigan's two national committee members, among others. It's also a signal to the media, in Michigan and nationally. And to Republican donors. And to uncommitted activists in other states. And to those pesky National Journal insiders who keep ranking McCain ahead of their guy. And even to the White House.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Romney Announces Michigan Team

Read about it here

Why McCain camp frets about Romney in Iowa

This Houston Chronicle article by Craig Hines (their D.C. political columnist) features Romney's efforts in Iowa. He also stresses the importance of the Ames Straw Poll and further confirmed my supspicion that the year-ahead-of-time Romney PAC event in Ames last month was a symbolic foreshawdowing of the event.

About this time next year, if recent history is a guide, we'll be poring over the entrails of the first blood-and-guts contest of the 2008 presidential campaign.

Not a primary, not even a caucus, merely a pay-to-play straw poll that leads to nary a national convention delegate. But what a straw poll, if you're a Republican with designs on the White House.

Dedicated Iowa Republicans pour into a coliseum on the Iowa State University campus at Ames and using tickets/ballots, most often purchased in vast lots by well-heeled presidential campaigns, set the tone of the contest to come.

Yeah, it's kind of phoney (however great a state party fund-raising tool) and has a spotty record in predicting who will eventually be the national nominee. But just like Iowa's real first-in-the-nation caucuses (early the following year), the straw poll is a winnowing event that tests each candidate's organizational ability and, ultimately, traction with voters.

The straw poll is important enough that the political action committee of one prospective Republican candidate, Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, recently held a meeting with Iowa activists at Ames. "Wink-wink," said a Romney strategist.

Hines further comments about Romney's good work in Iowa . . .

Romney has been plowing enough ground in Iowa, that Republicans of vastly varying stripe have begun mentioning him just as soon as they posit that Sen. John McCain of Arizona is the league leader among prospective contenders, if only on name recognition. (That's not the case in a new Iowa poll, which I'll get to in a minute.)

Romney has even drawn the discerning eye of David Yepsen, who as political columnist of the Des Moines Register is Iowa's most important campaign commentator.

"Of all the 2008 Republican presidential candidates making the rounds in Iowa, none is doing better than Mitt Romney," Yepsen reported to readers last month. With that sort of review, Romney has also, according to Iowa politicos, roused the attention of the McCain camp.

Then, he gets into the low-down on the McCain's camp current strategy for questioning Romney:

The most interesting tidbit I picked up in calling around Iowa is that the McCain operation, which loves for its guy to be seen as a maverick, appears to be playing a traditional, old-fashioned game in the politically important state: questioning Romney's position on abortion.

Fortunately . . .

Ted Miller, a spokesman for NARAL Pro Choice America, said his organization considers ... Romney as "anti-choice."

I never thought anything good would come out of NARAL . . . but that quote is pretty good!

For those interested in Romney's history on the issue of abortion read this link

Jason Bonham at Illinoisians for Mitt has some interesting commentary on this story as well . . . hat tip to him for picking it up!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Romney on Solid Financial Footing

This link reviews the PAC holdings of the many likely presidential candidates for 2008. Despite his later start . . . Romney is quickly becoming the GOPs powerhouse in fundraising ability. He has the most "cash on hand" of any Republican candidate (Warner, the Democrat has more total . . . seems like the former CEOs know how to manage their money!)

Add that to the cool million that Romney raised at a California fundraiser last weekend added to his amazingly warm reception by the California GOP and he's quickly distancing himself from the rest of the field (especially with George Allen falling off a bit lately due, in part, to some ungaurded words to an opponents staffer . . . Charlie Cook goes so far as to say he's "no longer a real contender for the nomination" . . . I don't think he's fallen off that far and it still is amazingly early to be making such statements). It's all shaping up to be a McCain vs. Romney showdown as of now. I think Mitt is more than up to that challenge.

Details on Romney Visit to Western Iowa This Thursday

From Tim Moran III Commonwealth PAC staffer:

Governor Mitt Romney is coming back to Iowa this week to continue campaigning for Iowa Republican Candidates and County Republican Organizations. Please look for him in your area and look forward to attend. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me via the information below. Thank you for your continued interest and support!

Thursday August 24th, 2006

Barbara Blanchard for State Senate

Luciano’s on 4th St

Sioux City Iowa

11:30am – 1:00pm

Thursday August 24th, 2006

United We Stand Dinner

Mid American Center

Council Bluffs, IA

6:00pm – 8:00pm

Friday, August 18, 2006

"Out of town" for weekend

I don't think I'll be having much internet access this weekend so I won't be able to be keeping up to date. Check out Elect Romney in 2008 for the latest news.

Big news is that Romney's Commonwealth PAC site has been re-vamped and there is a new 15 minute video where people can "get to know Mitt"

I haven't had time to watch it yet, but it should be available at this link.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Romney Directs$500,000 of RGA Warchest to Jim Nussle's Campaign

The Romney/Dubuque event was apparently a smashing success for Nussle! The event itself raised over $50,000, and Romney, head of the RGA, announced that a cool half-a-million bucks will be headed Nussle's way. Not bad for a night's work!

Read about it here, here, and here (witht the last one having some more details of what else was discussed that evening).

Romney's supporting Nussle in his way (RGA money, Commonwealth PAC money, and his Commonwealth PAC staffers helping out). We need to be supporting Nussle (Nussle Campaign's Action Center)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

My Letter to the Editor Published!

A couple of days ago I shared my experience of meeting the Opinion section editor for the Iowa City Press-Citizen and talking some politics.

Well, in today's/yesterday's paper they printed it (as the lead letter as well . . . and a positive letter about Rep. Jim Leach in there as well!). A small thing, I know, but hopefully it does Nussle some good.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

2008 GOP Presidential Field Focus Group . . . The Spin Starts There

A recent "focus group" of 30 or so Republicans in New Hampshire and Iowa dealt with potential 2008 presidential nominees (McCain, Allen, Romney, Giuliani, Frist, and Newt).

The results are presented as McCain and Newt coming out on top. I'd love to have seen the real results and not the spin. I'm very suspicious of the headline and the subsequent spin for a few reasons: 1) this was only released to an Arizona newspaper, 2) that it was quickly picked up by a paid McCain blogger and 3) that Luntz is tightly tied to the current GOP power structure and a documented McCain fan (even titled his GOP strategy confidential memo "Straight Talk". . . that got leaked--surprise, surprise! Interestingly, going further back, Luntz was also a key player in the formulation of "The Contract with America")

Now, are we surprised that the results are presented in favor of McCain and Newt? (Do they think we're not going to look into this stuff?)

Of Romney the focus group leader said:

Mitt Romney: "Romney looks and sounds presidential," Luntz said of the Massachusetts governor.

He is viewed as "the smoothest" of the candidates, even by those who don't particularly warm to him. But Romney's toughest hurdle may be how well he responds to questions about his Mormon religion.

In New Hampshire, Luntz noted, "Voters appreciated how he dodged details about his faith, focusing on 'values that we share.' "

But Iowa has a significant Christian conservative population, and Luntz said his response to the religious question there raised more questions than it answered.

So, the only "knock" on Romney from the focus group is among Iowan Christian Conservatives? I think that is a great sign! It's here in Iowa that Romney is looking the strongest and where he's gotten the best reviews from crowds. He got great reviews a couple of months ago at an Iowa Christian Alliance House Party that I was able to attend (see reports here, here and here)

Romney's sitting pretty from my vantage point! Keep an eye out for the spin though . . .

Vote for Mitt!

Obviously, Napoleon Dynamite is excited to "Vote for Mitt" (Pedro is probably on the shortlist for V.P.). But, for those interested in voting for Mitt in online polls, here's a list of some active ones:

Instapundit (Romney trailing Giuliani and Gingrich)
Right Voices (Romney leading here)
Straw Poll 2008 (with an overall running poll, a daily poll, and a junk poll--unlimited amount of votes--Tancredo leading in all)
The Next Prez (scroll down to the poll with Red lettering)
The Krusty Konservative (Romney had been leading, but last week Pataki started getting huge numbers of votes each weekday morning . . . not sure what's going on there)
The Caucus Cooler (don't forget to not vote for Romney at this one since that would mean you think he will be the first to drop out after the Iowa Caucuses).

Many of these polls let you vote in them daily.

Leave a comment below if there are other polls out there.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Utah Speculation on Gov. Huntsman's Signing on with McCain

In the Deseret News yesterday, a piece, by Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb, reviewed the news from a couple of weeks ago about Huntsman joining on board with McCain's PAC. Pignanelli said:
Although despised by senatorial colleagues (not one endorsed him in 2000), McCain is a Westerner, a war hero and a Republican who oftentimes takes moderate stances. Huntsman's affection for him is understandable, including the fact that a McCain administration offers the best opportunities for the youngish governor.
Some detractors are accusing Huntsman of political gamesmanship because his father Jon Huntsman is supporting Romney, and Huntsman family members are major bipartisan donors on the federal level. Their contention is that Huntsman has "all the bases covered" no matter who wins in 2008.

Webb said:
McCain has more foreign affairs experience at a time of war and international turmoil. As frontrunner, McCain also has a better chance of winning. But Romney would make a terrific president, and his campaign is going better than anyone expected. Huntsman's move this early was a big surprise, and most likely a personal blow to Romney, although not a big factor overall. Certainly, no deal was made for any job. If Huntsman is freshly re-elected in 2008, he couldn't very well leave the governorship to hop aboard a new McCain administration. But over a couple of terms, a lot of turnover occurs in a president's Cabinet, and it won't hurt Huntsman to have a solid relationship with McCain. My concern is that I've heard too often from Utah's congressional delegation that McCain is not a team player, is a prima donna, and doesn't have the temperament to be a good president.

For more background on this issue, including my own take when the news broke see here.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Some Interesting Stories

The Republican Party Must Nominate Mitt Romney. Here's Why: Not afraid to pull punches in that peice. Read all about it!

Romney is developing a strong energy policy. Explore his recent proposals here.

Romney makes me happy in two ways with this one: I previously blogged at another site about Romney's move to veto a universal pre-school program in Mass. Well, it looks like Carrie Lukas from National Review Online agrees with me on this one, and pulls out the actual data in support. She wrote an piece called "Governor Teaches a Preschool Lesson: Romney says “no” to universal bad news". He shows his strength as a fiscal conservative and balks at the wisdom of universal state-sponsored and funded pre-school (made available as early as age 2. Yikes!)

Speaking of Democratic plans . . . looks like Evan Bayh is sending out the troops to work Iowa for the 2006 election. Obviously he is laying the groundwork for a presidential bid. He's actually one of the least repulsive of the current Democratic field (and therefore, among the most worrisome for Republicans . . . I say, bring on Hillary!)

And, speaking of Hillary, with supporters like these, who needs enemies!

"Hello, President Romney"--Yepsen fits in praise for Romney

Actually, David Yepsen uses the phrase as a wake-up call to the Democratic party that if the left-wing anti-war group takes further control of the party that they will not have a prayer against a moderate-leaning conservative like Romney.

Dave Burris, who's filling in for Ann Marie Curling at Elect Romney in 2008 put up the following post

Hello, President Romney.

Sounds good, huh?

Hello, President Romney.

Really, I could get used to the sound of that. It's just one of those things you never want to say about your candidate.

But I didn't. Esteemed Iowa journalist and kingmaker David Yepsen did today in his Des Moines Register editorial.
Instead of a dialog between the two parties about our problems, we have shout-a-thons and Internet incivilities. It's liberal bloggers versus conservative talk-show hosts. The pragmatic, civil politics of the Jim Leaches and Leonard Boswells are out. Steve King and Al Sharpton - who conveniently posed behind Lamont Tuesday night - are in.

For many Americans, it becomes too much. They tune out. And that's fine with the politicians. Political consultants in both parties urge their candidates to instead "fire up the base" and engage in "turnout-suppression" efforts against opponents. So, Democrats step up their anti-war rhetoric. Republicans bash gay marriage.

The trashing Lieberman took for his views brings to mind the anti-Vietnam War activism that savaged Hubert Humphrey in 1968. Humphrey was as good and decent a liberal as you could find, but the anti-war movement just couldn't stomach him because he was Lyndon Johnson's vice president. Enough people on the left stayed home, or did little to help him, that the country got Richard Nixon as its president. Which was not a good thing.

So will the ascendant anti-war movement today become as impractical and counter-productive as it became in the 1960s and 1970s? If so, the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 is likely to be won by a candidate so far out on the fringe he (or she) can't appeal to America's mainstream.

Hello, President Romney.
Music to this American's ears.

And Yepsen has a point. Although Romney is a conservative, and a proud conservative at that, he is willing to do what it takes to work with the other side to move America forward. That doesn't mean sacrificing what you believe in. It means compromising when necessary to move your agenda forward. All the great ones have done it.

Romney is a "Just Do It" conservative. Or, for you southerners, a "Git-R-Done" conservative. (I kid.) Pick your battles, but believe in America more than you do in polarization. Compromise when you need to. Stay away from "gotcha" politics. And get the job done. Yepsen sees it. I see it. Do you?


Great stuff Dave!

Romney on C-Span tonight! (Thrice is nice)

The Republican Party of Iowa's Chairman's Dinner in Cedar Rapids will be featured tonight on CSPAN's Road to the White House at 5:30, 8:30, and 11:30 CST. Governor Romney gave the keynote address at the dinner. The show looks to be 1.5 hours and Romney's speech was no more than 30 minutes. I hope they show Jim Leach's speech as well (including his great introduction of Gov. Romney). Not sure what else they'll be showing to fill up the time.

I was at this event along with a table of "Iowans for Romney". We were sitting to Romney's right at a front table. For my photos from the evening see this blog entry. For my take on Leach's speech see this blog entry. We didn't know that this would be picked up by C-Span so we're excited to see if we're on TV!
Update: Romney was the 1st 30 min of the program, Patakithe next segment and Edwards the last. There weren't any camera pans to show our Iowans for Romney table.

For those that missed it, the program should be available as streaming video on C-span's "Road to the White House" site.

I believe this link should launch the video directly once it is available.

If that doesn't work the speech should be available here among other Romney videos archived by C-Span.

Count Me Officially as a Nussle Supporter Now

Last week I had the opportunity to meet our GOP nominee for Governor, Jim Nussle, at a local fundraiser. Previously, I had reviewed some of his policy stances, history in Congress, and kept up with state news about his campaign. I found nothing utterly disagreeable. I've even marched in support of our county republicans in 3 parades over the last couple of months touting Jim Leach and/or Jim Nussle paraphernalia. However, my support of Nussle thusfar has largely been based on an opposition to Chet Culver becoming my next Governor (that could be a subject of another entire blog entry). After hearing him speak and speaking with him I've now got much more than "Culver-anger" as a basis for supporting Nussle (Later in this blog I'll discuss some of what Nussle said and why I support him)

Of course, I've got the Nussle sign up in my driveway, and made a few calls in his behalf at the state GOP convention (got 2 yard signs out and someone who said they wanted to work for his campaign in just 15 minutes of calling!) Recently, I've been trying to wear my Nussle shirt out in public more. This is important not just to show support of Nussle to people who may see you, but also because of the conversations that may ensue.

Just yesterday afternoon, I wore my Nussle shirt while taking me three older boys to Kent State Park to swim and play. In just over 2 hours, three different people mentioned my shirt. One was an off-duty state trooper his wife (a social worker at UI) who said his brother works on the Nussle campaign in NW Iowa. The second was an "Independent" who nearly always votes for Democrats. We had a pleasant exchange of ideas.

The third approached me while I was reading Mitt Romney's book "Turnaround" and said, "Anyone around here who wears a Nussle shirt and is reading a Mitt Romney book must be a pretty staunch Republican." That lead to some interesting coversation about Nussle and Romney. He mentioned that David Yepsen (Des Moines Register political columnist) really seemed high on Romney. I was surprised that he knew quite a bit about Romney. Turns out he is a journalist who runs the editorial section for our local newspaper, the Iowa City Press-Citizen. He gave me his card and suggested that I write in an opinion letter sometime, stating that there don't seem to be enough articulate conservatives in our county. Personally, he leans left politically, and he feels his newspaper leans strongly in that direciton too, but said that he always encourages conservatives to voice their opinions in his section. So, before I forgot about it, I crafted up the following letter and sent if off. Let's hope it gets picked up!

Dear Editor,

I write to share my experience of hearing and meeting Jim Nussle, the Republican candidate for Governor, in Iowa City last week. He spoke of several ways to make Iowa better. Two points he addressed that particularly interested me were education and healthcare, traditionally "pet issues" of Democrats.

He stated the need to restore Iowa‘s prominence as an educational beacon nationwide. Among other ideas, he mentioned plans to retain exceptional young teachers and reward high performing students and teachers.

As a physician, I was especially interested to hear how he planned to improve healthcare in Iowa. He mentioned the need to provide more specialty/surgical care in rural regions and the need to limit exorbitant medical malpractice insurance fees. When I spoke with him privately later, he was also very receptive to the idea of allowing the self-/un-employed to use pre-tax dollars to pay healthcare premiums (a benefit currently enjoyed only by employers) similar to Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s new law.

Also, I found it encouraging that, though in a private home filled with Republican supporters, he did not make any disparaging remarks about his opponent nor the Democratic party. In this age of overly partisan politics this was unexpectedly refreshing.

Jeff Fuller, M.D.
North Liberty, IA

Romney's "Netroots" grow . . . here in Iowa and Nationally

First off, two of our "Iowans for Romney" have been active in the blogosphere of late:

Kristine Anderson, of Cedar Rapids, has been getting up some great blog entries at her blog "Confessions of a Moderate Republican". Of particular note is her journey "From Bush to McCain to Romney, A Reflection." Ecspecially interesting is her view on Stem-cell research and her experience with in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Jim Kirkpatrick runs The Iowa Caucus Report: 2008 and his most recent entry details his experience of helping George W. Bush win the Ames Straw Poll in 1999. Let's hope that he can do the same thing for Mitt in 2007!

Nancy French, at Evangelicals for Mitt reviewed the strong "netroots" support that Romney is getting in her blog entry "Grassroots with Gravitas"

Nationally, there are a number of new Romney state sites (largely facilitated by Ann Marie Curling who runs Elect Romney in 2008 who is assisting people in each state who want to blog in support of Romney). Some of the sites that have come into action in the last couple of weeks are (see my right sidebar for a complete listing):

Californians for Romney
Kentuckians for Romney
Michiganders for Romney
New Hampshire for Romney
South Carolinians for Romney
South Carolinians for Romney-2

Also, these four state sites are ones to check frequently as they all tend to do more active blogging (along with me here, of course):
Coloradans for Romney 2008
Floridians for Romney
Illinoisans for Mitt
Washingtonians for Mitt

A quick look/comparison of Romney sites to other candidates seems to show Romney has the strongest support of any candidate on either side. Exciting times for our man Mitt!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Opposing Romney on Religious Grounds Is Not Sensible: One Christian Thinker's Opinion

A couple of days ago, this article/blog entry from John Mark Reynolds, a professor at the Christian Biola University in California, has laid out the most reasonable argument of why Romney should not be rejected by conservative Christians on religious grounds.

I will quote many of the "highlights" . . . but, as with any well-thought-out and reasonable argument, I recommend reading the whole thing:

He is a traditional conservative from New England with Michigan roots who would put several Blue States in play for the Republicans. . . . Given a Southron running mate to tie down a shaky Southern state (George Allen?), it is hard to see anyone beating him.

But to be blunt, Romney carries extra baggage: He is a member of the LDS (Mormon) Church. Will Evangelicals and traditional Christians vote for a candidate that they believe worships in a fringe cult?

If Romney cannot get traditional Christian votes, he cannot win in the primaries let alone the general election.

Should Christians oppose Romney on religious grounds?

His answer is appropriately "No", but the way he gets there is different than I've seen laid out before.

A traditional American Christian will only be intolerant of those who will not play by republican rules of government or who wish to deny the self-evident, God given, right to life, liberty, and individual flourishing.

There is a stronger religious argument against Romney and that is that the LDS Church embraces notions so weird that they disqualify someone who holds them from the support of rational persons. I have heard this argument made on occasion in private by traditional Christians. In other words, to be a good Mormon (assuming he is one), Mitt Romney has had to adopt views that no sane man could hold. Failing the test of sanity in a major area is a good reason to doubt general personal fitness for the job of President.

It should be noted that this is a dangerous argument for any religious person to make without great care. Secular extremists often label any religious idea “nutty.” Minority views are often correct (as Christians in the early era were in my own view!) and so there is no easy majority test for what is acceptable belief in the public square.

Religious believers should also be wary of the trite response from pro-Romney folk that religion is a matter of the heart and religious beliefs should not count at all. Religion claims knowledge and some of that knowledge is testable.

As we shall see, I would be suspicious of supporting any candidate who had a general religious or irreligious point of view likely to lead to public policy in which I had strong disagreements.

He then suggests three tests that any religious group should pass before thinking one of its adherants could/should be President (and he shows how Romney/Mormonism pass all of them):

First, the religious beliefs of the candidate should be held by a significant number of people and by a group willing to defend them (even if unsuccessfully) in a rational manner.

Second, the group in question should not have religious claims that will naturally lead to horrific, or at least far out, public policy.

Third, the group should have a long track record of generally playing by republican rules in areas where it is dominant. No group is perfect, but the Presidency is too powerful a prize to trust to a new group that might have secret authoritarian leanings.

We have had an entire state dominated by Mormon politics for over one hundred years. It is republican in its constitution and allows free and fair elections. Mormons have shown (if proof is necessary) that they can govern within the bounds of the American mainstream. They have served in both House of Congress, in Presidential cabinets, in prominent roles in the Armed Forces, and as cultural and business leaders. Culturally, LDS members are not some unknown, frightening new group, but part of the American political fabric.

Opposition to Romney on the grounds of his religion is not, therefore, sensible. If not sensible, it is bigotry. Traditional Christians, commanded to love their neighbor, cannot vote their fears or prejudices. They must vote their best selves and that means they cannot vote irrationally.

Of course, traditional Christians might oppose Romney for his political beliefs. They might oppose Romney because they favor another candidate, but they cannot be consistent and oppose Romney for his religious beliefs. Mitt Romney should be a serious option for thoughtful traditional Christian voters.

Now, if every coservative Christian could just read and accept this reasoning! I'm fairly confident that the vast majority will eventually come around to this kind of thinking.

Romney interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC's "Hardball" yesterday

Romney was on MSNBC's Hardball last night and this link has the entire transcript from the show. However, to save your scrolling digits I've pasted in Romney's portion below. I did not see this interview and would love to hear from anyone who did about how Romney came across:

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL, overlooking the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

For the first time since September 11, 2001, National Guard troops have been ordered to patrol Logan International Airport in Boston. Governor Mitt Romney issued the order this morning and he joins us now from Boston. Governor, what will the army troops, the National Guard troops be able to do there that the airport police can‘t?

GOV. MITT ROMNEY ®, MASSACHUSETTS: Well, frankly, the real reason they‘re there is because we don‘t have enough airport security personnel and TSA personnel to man the double number of points for inspection that we‘ve had in the past. We‘ve always had one single place for security checkpoint.

Now we have a checkpoint at gates, as well as at the security point. We have to double our number of personnel, almost, and there just aren‘t enough people ready to do that. And that‘s why the National Guard has to step in and play that key role.

MATTHEWS: What do you make of Bob Baer, the expert who just came on and said that the problem now isn‘t so much the detection of metal objects that could‘ve been used—that certainly were used in 9/11 and could be used again, because these liquids are undetectable and therefore we‘re going to be in the situation that the Israelis are in, where you really have to detect the criminal intent of the passenger.

How are we going to have the logistical capability to conduct those kinds of lengthy examinations of people before they get on a shuttle to D.C., for example?

ROMNEY: Well, I think what this particular experience has taught us is one more time, the only way to effectively protect the homeland is not by inspecting every possible source of attack, but rather to do effective intelligence and counterterrorism work. That‘s what the British have shown us again.

You have to find the bad guys, reveal the plots before they carry them out, because the number of ways that people can attack us and the number of possible targets is so large that you can‘t protect every single asset, every single human, every single airplane, building, hospital, school. You have to find the bad guys and get them out of our country before they attack us.

MATTHEWS: Well, there‘s the tough stuff, because, as you know, you‘ve got to make decisions regarding civil liberties and national security which often come in conflict. How do we really do a great job of surveillance if we have people who are very concerned in this country about the Fourth Amendment and other guarantees of our freedom?

ROMNEY: Well, of course, we have to respect our Constitutional guarantees of freedom, recognize that the most important civil right we have is the right to life. And we need to make sure that our citizens are protected and don‘t lose their lives by virtue of not having done an effective job to survey those who would attack us.

Fortunately, in Great Britain, they have a very tough Patriot Act equivalent which allows them to do the kind of surveillance that identifies this plot before five or 10 aircraft end up killing all on board.

That‘s the most important thing that we have to do is to protect our citizens, and we can do it within a constitutional framework that we‘ve come to know and love. But intelligence work and counterterrorism has once again been proven as the only effective way to protect the homeland.

MATTHEWS: How do we do that? I‘m sure you‘ve traveled to Israel and gone through those interviews where they‘re very extensive. I remember back when I got out of the Peace Corps, they asked me what was I doing with a typewriter, was I going to write anything about the country, really invasive kinds of questioning to try to get at your political intent because that‘s the only way Israel has retained its 100 percent safety record with regard to hijacking. Can we get that tough?

ROMNEY: Well, we‘re going to be as tough as we have to be to protect our citizens from the kind of criminals that want to kill them. I was at Logan Airport today, as people were having their bags checked one more time just before they got on the aircraft.

They were checked first at the security checkpoint, now at the gate checkpoint. And I asked people going on board, do you find this intrusive, are you bothered by this? And they said, no, we‘re glad you‘re doing it. The American people want to be safe as they travel. They want the airline industry to be safe and effective and on time. They want the hotel industry to be able to accommodate passengers.

Look, this is an extremely high priority for our country, to protect our citizens, and the most effective tool we have currently is intelligence and anti-terrorism efforts. But, of course, we‘re also going to use every means of technology we have to protect citizens at the airport and to have those devices in place that can identify attack weapons and the like. But there‘s no way you can find every possible weapon and secure every possible target. It‘s just impossible. Instead, you have to go after the bad guys.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much, Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts.

P.S. Gov. Pataki (NY) followed where they called up the national gaurd as well . . . and, as mentioned before, Schwartzeneger in CA did as well.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Romney responds quickly to elevated threat

This Boston Globe article reviews Romney's actions in calling up the National Gaurd:

"I don't know what other governors are doing. Logan has a specific history with regards to the initiation of terrorist activity on airlines, and therefore we have a heightened degree of concern here," he said.

Since Sept. 11, Logan has become a pioneer in testing and using the latest aviation security technology. It was the first airport in the country to launch a permanent system that scans all checked baggage for explosives."

One of the gaurdsmen that was called up said in the article:

"It's still safe to fly. At the same time everyone should be aware and be on alert for people who are acting out of the ordinary," said Sgt. Steven Hines, who carried an MP-5 machine gun on his patrol.

"I think sometimes people get complacent and they forget and think the threat isn't there anymore," Hines said. "As you heard the threat is there."

Another article picked up by the Christian Broadcasting network stated:

"U.S. authorities raised the threat level to “red” for flights from Britain, the first time the highest threat of terrorist attack had been invoked since the system was created. All other flights were under an “orange” alert - one step below red."

I'm guessing that Logan Airport has plenty of flights in from Britain. Those are "RED alert" flights and Romney took appropriate action. Romney has been VERY intertwined in developing disaster and homeland security plans. I would expect no less from potentially the strongest homeland security leader in the nation!

However, some are saying that this is all a "play to the media."

Is Schwarzenegger "playing to the media" too (I sarcastically ask)?

"Schwarzenegger activates Guard in wake of London terror plot"

A snippet:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger activated the National Guard Thursday to bolster security at California airports after authorities said they had foiled a terror plot involving U.S.-bound planes from Britain.

"I have ordered the redeployment of security assets to high priority locations to respond to this threat,"

"These assets include bomb-sniffing dogs, the California National Guard, and the California Highway Patrol, in concert with local and federal law enforcement agencies."

Strong leadership from men of action!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

David Broder: Contempt for Congress

David Broder (considered by many as the most influential political columnist in the nation) of the Washington Post wrote an interesting piece called "Contempt for Congress"
Mitt Romney, the Republican governor of Massachusetts, said his wife, Ann, has likened the spectacle of Congress to "two guys in a canoe that is headed for the falls, and all they do is hit each other with their paddles."

Romney said that considering what has been happening on energy prices, health care and other worries, "the bickering is becoming more and more dangerous because the current is sweeping us toward the falls."

Broder finishes with:
But beyond these turf battles, the biggest indictment of Congress is simply that it is paralyzed. The sense that voters see Washington as gridlocked is one factor fueling the hopes of the governors eyeing the presidency in 2008 -- men such as Romney, Richardson, Huckabee, Iowa Democrat Tom Vilsack and New York Republican George Pataki. All of them are gambling that a frustrated electorate will turn to an outsider for help.

The piece is interesting and captures how frustrated people of all political persuasions are with what is happening "inside the beltway." It is time for a TRUE D.C. outsider to take over.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Romney Schedule update and beyond

  • Friday, August 25th: Breakfast with Rep. Ralph Watts- 7:00AM at the West Des Moines Marriott. Requesting minimum contribution of $25. Reserve a spot by emailing by August 22.
  • Friday Aug 25th: Evening event with Senate candidate Barbara Blanchard- Sioux City I don't have details on that last event, but I'll have those shortly.Other events of interest (non-Romney) Sept 9th will be a great event in Clive, IA sponsored by the Iowa Christian Alliance.

    Phyllis Schlafly

    6th Annual Friends of the Family Awards Banquet Featuring Phyllis Schlafly

    7 Flags Convention Center, Clive Iowa

    Saturday, September 9, 2006

    5:00 Reception

    6:00 Dinner and Program

    $50.00 per ticket or table of 10 for $500.00

    Master of Ceremonies for the Family Awards Banquet will be Kayne Robinson.

    (Past President and current Executive Director of the NRA) *A great opportunity to hear from some of the most outspoken and influential conservatives in our nation.

    ****TODAY in IOWA CITY!!!!**** 8/7/06 - NUSSLE FUNDRAISER: Jim Nussle will be in town for a fundraiser at Dr. Nepola's home on this Monday, August 7, 2006 at 6 pm. The cost is $25 / person. For more information or to RSVP contact 1-888-722-4704--(I'm planning to go to this, but I'm "on call", so we'll see). A great opportunity to meet our future Governor and speak with other local Republicans.

    Any questions or to RSVP with "Iowans for Romney" for any of these events please contact me (click on my profile for my email).