Craig Eisele on …..

February 23, 2012

Romney Foolishly Believes E-Verify is Effective and Working

At Wednesday night’s GOP debate, Mitt Romney called Arizona a “model” for immigration enforcement, singling out the state’s 2007 law mandating that all employers use the national E-Verify database when hiring workers. He promised to institute a national E-Verify law if elected. “You do that, and just as Arizona is finding out, you can stop illegal immigration,” he said. Last May, the state defeated the Chamber of Commerce’s suit against the law in the Supreme Court.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Romney’s adviser on immigration issues, helped write Arizona’s E-Verify law as well as Arizona’s 2010 SB1070 law (Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act). At the recent Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, Kobach touted what’s happened in Arizona as proof that “self-deportation”—Romney’s chosen immigration strategy—is working. “People started self-deporting by the tens of thousands,” after E-Verify passed, he said, according to the Hill.

Romney and Kobach are right that, on at least one level, the law has had a significant impact in Arizona. A study published last year by the Public Policy Institute of California shows that about 92,000, or 17 percent, of the Hispanic non-citizen population of Arizona left the state in the year after the state passed E-Verify legislation; most of those who moved were probably illegal immigrants. PPI researchers told Yahoo News that the law—not the recession, or highly-publicized raids targeting illegal immigrants—was the most likely cause of the exodus.

Yet while PPI’s research helps predict what might happen if an E-Verify system were implemented nationally, as Romney hopes, it exposes some of the less-desirable side-effects of the law as well. In Arizona, the non-citizen Hispanic workers who did stay behind increasingly shifted into a shadow economy, said Magnus Lofstrom, a co-author of the study. The self-employment rate among non-citizen Hispanics in Arizona nearly doubled post-E-Verify, and a higher proportion of people who said they were self-employed lived in poverty and lacked health insurance.

Lofstrom told Yahoo News that the informal economy would grow significantly nationwide if a national E-Verify system were established. While illegal immigrants in Arizona were able to move to other states to find work, their choices would be significantly limited if E-Verify were implemented nationally; the only real (and unlikely) option would be to for undocumented workers to move to another country. In other words, we’d be much more likely to see an increase in informal employment rather than a massive movement among illegal immigrants to “self-deport.”

What would that mean? An increase in informal employment among the nation’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants would result in lower tax revenues–since non-self employed illegal immigrants are more likely to have taxes withheld from their paychecks–higher poverty levels among illegal immigrants, and a higher potential for employer abuse, said Lofstrom. (Right now, America has a relatively small shadow economy compared to other developed countries, like Italy.)

Another snag with instituting a national E-Verify program is that the current system cannot detect identity fraud. A 2009 government-commissioned study found that E-Verify only flags illegal immigrants half the time, because it can’t detect when a worker is using documents that belong to someone else. (Employers enter in Social Security or alien registration numbers, birthdates and names of employees into the database, which figures out whether they match the federal immigration and Social Security databases.) To combat this fraud, Romney has said he supports biometric ID cards for immigrants that would contain a fingerprint or other identifying device that clears them for work. Romney hasn’t explicitly said that every person in America should have this card–an idea that many libertarians object to. But without being adopted universally, undocumented people could still use false documents. (The Romney team had not responded to requests for comment from Yahoo News by the time this article was published.) Mandatory national ID cards have played a starring role in failed bipartisan immigration reform proposals in Congress over the past few years.

In Arizona, there is no state-wide system to make sure businesses are using E-Verify. Rather, individual citizens are asked to expose employers that they suspect of hiring illegal immigrants to their local district attorneys. Yet district attorneys were not granted the power to subpoena businesses that are suspected of hiring illegal immigrants, and some DAs have complained that the law is an unfunded mandate for their offices, according to Judy Gans, immigration policy director at Arizona University’s Udall Center. Only three businesses were prosecuted under the law in the first three years after it passed.

But business owners still worry that E-Verify’s high error rate could leave them open to prosecution. Republicans in Arizona’s state Senate are now moving to change the law at their request. Republican state senator Jerry Lewis, who defeated anti-illegal immigration hardliner Russell Pearce last year in a historic recall election, is co-sponsoring a bill with seven other Republican senators to provide “safe harbor” to businesses that use E-Verify but still accidentally hire unauthorized workers.

Lewis, who is backing Romney, told Yahoo News that he is not a fan of Kobach’s draft immigration laws.

“Does Kobach’s presence in Romney’s campaign create a difficulty for him? I believe it does,” Lewis said. “I think people want a real solution and I don’t think the legislation that has been drafted by Kobach is a real solution.” Lewis said the immigration laws “polarize people.”

Lewis added that he thinks Romney will eventually agree with him that making all illegal immigrants leave the country is not a solution to the country’s immigration problems.

“I think he’ll realize that there is a place for a real solution to the issue, and it’s not just let’s get everybody that’s undocumented out of the country,” Lewis said.

Are Republicans Liars or Just Stupid When They Blame Obama for High Gas Prices

In a blistering election-year attack on his political foes, President Barack Obama charged Thursday that Republicans are “licking their chops” over painfully high gas prices that threaten the fragile economic recovery.

“Only in politics do people root for bad news and they greet bad news so enthusiastically,” he said in a combative speech at the University of Miami. “You pay more, and they’re licking their chops.”

The defiant rhetoric came after days in which the White House has worked to get off the defensive over high gasoline prices, insisting that Obama has done everything he can to bring those costs down. The administration blamed sticker shock at the pump on unrest in the Middle East, speculative trading, and heightened demand in China, Brazil, and India.

Obama assured Americans that he feels their pain, saying the rise in gas prices “hurts everybody” and “means you’ve got to find even more room in a budget that was already tight.”

The president accused Republicans of seeing “a political opportunity” and mockingly described them as “dusting off their three-point plan for $2 gas.”

“I’ll save you the suspense:  Step one is drill, and step two is drill, and then step three is keep drilling,” he said. “Well the American people aren’t stupid.  They know that’s not a plan — especially since we’re already drilling.  That’s a bumper sticker.  It’s not a strategy to solve our energy challenge.  It’s a strategy to get politicians through an election.”

Republicans angrily shot back that the president was the political opportunist.

“Facing an election, the President would like everyone to forget that gas prices have doubled over the past three years while he consistently blocked and slowed the production of American-made energy. From his drilling moratorium to his denial of the keystone pipeline, the President has time and again sided with his liberal base over American families” said Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner.

Obama said there were “no quick fixes” and “no silver bullets” to solve the situation and called for a “sustained, all-of-the-above” approach to develop domestic energy.

“Anyone who tells you we can drill our way out of this problem doesn’t know what they’re talking about — or just isn’t telling you the truth,” he said.

Obama explained that he had expanded drilling and pushed for continued investments in American-based energy — “oil, gas, wind, solar, nuclear, biofuels, and more” — and the development of more fuel-efficient vehicles and buildings. And he warned the problem might take more than a decade to solve.

Ahead of the speech, Republicans sent reporters findings from independent fact-checking organizations that show the drop in oil imports, which Obama ascribes to his policies, actually stems from declining demand, which has resulted from the worst recession since the Great Depression.

And Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell scoffed at Obama’s call to end government subsidies to hugely profitable oil companies — a stable of the president’s campaign rhetoric.

“If someone in the administration can show me that raising taxes on American energy production will lower gas prices and create jobs, then I will gladly discuss it,” said McConnell. “But since nobody can, and the president doesn’t, this is merely an attempt to deflect from his failed policies.”

McConnell pushed Obama and congressional Democrats to “open their eyes to the opportunity presented by the Keystone XL pipeline” designed to carry oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Obama administration postponed a decision on the pipeline, which is expected to come after the November election.

Are Republicans Really ANTI – WOMAN or Just Prudish Chauvinists

The social conservative wing of the Republican Party has also long contained a strong strain of hostility to sex for purposes other than procreation and a fear of women being able to control their bodies without the dominance of men.

As the GOP rushes headlong to the extreme right in order to satisfy its base primary voters, that strain is now manifesting itself in the mainstream of the Republican Party as active hostility to protecting the basic health of women, particularly in areas that have anything to do with reproduction.

Republicans are now transforming themselves into a party that is dangerous to the health and safety of American women.

The fight over whether Catholic institutions that hire non-Catholics and serve the general public like universities and hospitals must follow the general law and provide contraception under their employee health plans — which should have been resolved by President Obama’s compromise that the insurance companies and not the Catholic employers would provide it — is just the tip of the iceberg.

• All 8 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was first enacted in 1994 with bipartisan support and was last reauthorized in 2005 by unanimous consent in the Senate and with 415 votes in the House and signed by George W. Bush. VAWA is aimed at improving criminal justice and community-based responses to domestic violence, date rape, sexual assault and stalking. Although some Senate Republicans like Mike Crapo of Idaho did co-sponsor the bill, all 8 Republicans on the Judiciary Committee voted no. Among other things, the Republicans wanted to defund the Office on Violence Against Women in the Justice Department, and objected to provisions which extended the protection of the Act to gays and lesbians, and provided protection to abused women who are illegal immigrants to come forward. Apparently Senate Republicans don’t believe that gays, lesbians and illegal immigrant women who are raped or sexually assaulted deserve the protection of VAWA.

• Under a new law passed by the Virginia State Legislature, and expected to be signed by Republican Governor Bob McDonnell (a contender for the Republican vice presidential nomination), women who want to have a legal abortion will be required to have a transvaginal ultrasound in which a probe is inserted into the vagina, legally forcing a woman to be penetrated for no medical reason. A Republican lawmaker justified this on the grounds that women had already made the decision to be “vaginally penetrated when they got pregnant.” The law is almost certainly unconstitutional as an “undue burden” on women’s rights, but that hasn’t stopped Virginia Republicans from passing it.

• From 1976 until this year, there has been a de facto bipartisan truce between anti-abortion and pro-choice supporters in Congress under which taxpayer dollars could not be used for abortion except in the case of rape, incest, or when the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother. 173 House Republicansco-sponsored a bill that would drastically redefine “rape” and “incest”. Incest wouldn’t be included in the exemption unless the girl is under 18. The definition of “rape” would be limited to “forcible rape.” Rapes in which women are drugged, or given large amounts of alcohol, rapes of women with diminished mental capacity, and many date rapes wouldn’t be covered. Nor would statutory rape — so a 30-year-old man having sex with a 12 year old girl wouldn’t count. This attempt by the Republican House to redefine rape downward stands in stark contrast to Democratic Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent announcement of an expanded definition of rape in the Uniform Crime Report to mean “the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetrations by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim”. Faced with a firestorm of pressure, the House GOP eventually decided to remove the forcible rape redefinition from the bill, but that doesn’t take away from their initial impulse to include it.

Moreover, it may come as a shock to many women that in 2012, their access to birth control should become a political issue in the Republican primary. But as recently as 1965, 30 states outlawed or limited the right to use birth control. In that year, the Supreme Court overturned such laws in the case of Griswold vs. Connecticut which held that the Constitution implies a right of privacy which prohibits states from interfering with the right of married people (later extended to all people) to use birth control in the privacy of their bedroom.

One of the leading Republican presidential contenders, Rick Santorum, has stated that contraception is “not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” Moreover, Santorum told ABC’s Jake Tapper that the Supreme Court was wrong in Griswold and states should have a right to ban birth control.

Mitt Romney, the supposed moderate in the Republican race, is not far behind Santorum when it comes to a woman’s right to contraception. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Romney, “Do you believe that states have a right to ban contraception? Or is it trumped by a constitutional right to privacy.” Romney evaded the question, responding “I don’t know whether a state has a right to ban contraception.” Romney — like Barack Obama a graduate of Harvard Law School — would have learned the Griswold case in Constitutional Law 101, so he was being ingenuous.

More recently, Romney has started calling certain birth control pills “abortive pills,” joining Michele Bachmann in denouncing Plan B “morning after” pills as abortion. But Romney is just joining Bachmann in her ignorance. The Plan B pill is not an “abortion pill” or an “abortive pill” and the label on its package already warns pregnant women not to take it because “if you’re already pregnant, it won’t work.” The Plan B pill uses the same active ingredients as regular birth control pills and works in the same way as regular birth control pills by preventing the implantation of an egg in the uterus. So if Romney thinks that Plans B pills cause abortions — which he now opposes — then he must also be opposed to ordinary birth control pills.

Put aside whether you’re anti-abortion or pro-choice — many people have good faith and strongly held disagreements on abortion. But recent Republican attacks on a woman’s right to obtain contraception, on laws protecting against violence on women, Republican-backed legislation to require women seeking legal abortions to have medically unnecessary ultrasounds which penetrate the vagina, and Republican attempts to redefine “rape” as only including forcible rape, should raise serious concerns that the GOP is becoming dangerous to the health and safety of American women.

Republicans Secretly Hope for Another Candidate Soon

Could the battle for the Republican nomination go all the way to the Republican convention in August? Could we see an entirely new candidate getting into the race?

One long-time Republican leader tells ABC News the answer to both questions is yes.

“If the Republican primary voters continue to split up their votes in such a way that nobody is close to having a majority, then there is a chance that somebody else might get in,” former Republican Party chairman Haley Barbour said in an interview with ABC News.

Barbour calls such a scenario unlikely, but not out of the question.

“I think the odds of having a contested convention are not good but the fact that we are where we are and there is actually a possibility, I guess this is why there is so much talk,” he said.

A contested convention would mean another six months of Republicans battling Republicans, but Barbour says that’s not necessarily bad for the party.

“It is not accurate to say that a hotly contested convention is necessarily bad,” Barbour said. “I am not saying it is necessarily good, but I don’t think it is accurate to say it is necessarily bad. Let’s just see.”

Barbour, who has not endorsed any candidate, says Mitt Romney has never really been a true front-runner.

“In our primaries the more conservative candidates have an advantage,” Barbour said. “Doesn’t mean they always win. But that is just a fact and I think Romney is showing himself to be moderately conservative. We still have a long way to go with three candidates who are to the right of Romney.”

That doesn’t mean, however, that he thinks Romney cannot win.

“In our party it is an advantage to be more conservative, but at the end of the day I think most Republicans want somebody who can beat Barack Obama,” Barbour said. “And nobody in my opinion has made that case to the Republican voters yet – Romney, Santorum, Paul or Gingrich. I don’t think any of them has made the case that ‘I am the guy who has the best chance to beat Obama.'”

February 9, 2012

Romney Will Struggle to Gain Conservative Backing

The resurgence of social and cultural issues in voters’ minds poses new challenges for GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney as he reels from surprising losses Tuesday to conservative favoriteRick Santorum.

The economy remains the No. 1 issue of concern for a majority of Americans. But the recent hoopla surrounding the Obama administration’s support of contraceptives, the court ruling against California’s same-sex marriage ban and heated debate aboutabortion access has created a perfect storm that has pushed these seemingly dormant issues to the surface.

“They’ve never been far from the surface. A lot of people thought the social issues had disappeared but that has never been the case,” said Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute who focuses on polling data and public opinion. “These issues are obviously very important within a conservative party, the Republican party.”

Even the general public has increasingly leaned to the right. In a Gallup poll last month, 40 percent of Americans identified themselves as conservative, 35 percent as moderate and 21 percent as liberal. The numbers marked the third straight year that conservatives outnumbered moderates, which have declined steadily since the early 1990s.

An overwhelming number of Republicans – 51 percent – dubbed themselves as “conservatives” while 20 percent classified themselves as “very conservative,” far outweighing moderates. The poll also found that independents, who make up the largest political group in the country, were mostly conservative-leaning, with 41 percent putting themselves in that category.

“In recent years, conservatives have become the single largest group, consistently outnumbering moderates since 2009 and outnumbering liberals by 2 to 1. Overall, the nation has grown more ideologically polarized over the past decade,” the analysis stated. “The increase in the proportion of conservatives is entirely the result of increased conservatism among Republicans and independents, and is also seen in Americans 30 and older — particularly seniors.”

Santorum, with his staunch anti-abortion stance and Christian ideology, has strong backing among conservatives who still view Romney and his record with skepticism. Newt Gingrich was able to attract some of that conservative support in South Carolina but his personal record, including two failed marriages and an affair with his current wife while he was still married, has come under much public scrutiny.

Santorum “has been a consistent conservative in the debates. He’s raised a lot of social issues that haven’t been the focus of Romney and Gingrich in the debates,” Bowman said.

The former senator from Pennsylvania supports a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, as well as banning abortion even in the case of rape and not allowing homosexual couples to adopt children.

Romney, meanwhile, has struggled to convince the Republican base of his conservative credentials. Most recently, he came under fire for allowing “abortion pills” as governor of Massachusetts. In 2005, Romney signed a law that required all Massachusetts hospitals, including those owned by religious groups, to provide emergency contraception to rape victims.

Romney had initially opposed that requirement but later said that “in my heart of hearts, is that people who are subject to rape should have the option of having emergency contraception or emergency contraception information.”

That same year, Romney vetoed a law allowing the disbursement of the controversial morning-after pill by pharmacists without a doctor’s prescription, but the state Senate overrode his veto.

Romney’s business record has worked in his favor, with exit polls in early states showing that most primary voters viewed it with a favorable eye. But his changing views on highly volatile social issues, including abortion, have yet to win him favor among conservatives. Such hesitancy was in full display Tuesday in Minnesota, where Romney did not carry a single county even though its former governor, Tim Pawlenty, campaigned for him.

“Romney has to go back to mollifying that base, which is not something he wanted to do,” political analyst Norm Ornstein said. “What it means for Romney is that he’s going to have to make more and more sharply conservative pledges and try to trigger even more of that conservative antipathy [against President Obama].”

But that could be a challenging task for the former governor who faces a more difficult road to the nomination than many expected. “The more he does this, he looks phony,” Ornstein said.

The focus on social issues among the U.S. electorate doesn’t bode well for Obama either. He has taken much heat for his administration’s decision to require religious schools, universities, charities and hospitals to provide contraceptive services in their insurance plans.

House Speaker John Boehner today became the latest Republican to jump into the showdown, saying that if the administration doesn’t reverse the policy, Congress will.

“In imposing this requirement, the federal government is violating a First Amendment right that has stood for more than two centuries, and it is doing so in a manner that affects millions of Americans and harms some of our nation’s most vital institutions,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said on the House floor. “If the president does not reverse the department’s attack on religious freedom, then the Congress, acting on behalf of the American people and the Constitution we are sworn to uphold and defend, must.”

The House, comprised of a number of freshman lawmakers who won based on their firm opposition to abortion, has already introduced a number of bills tightening abortion restrictions and defunding Planned Parenthood.

Still, if the Republican race goes into the summer, as many now expect, even the focus on social issues would bode well for the president, experts say.

“Certainly one of the things that’s happening now is people are feeling less frantic about the economy and so other issues do emerge more,” Ornstein said. “Are they going to supersede the economy? If they do, that’s great news for Barack Obama, even if he suffers some with the decision on contraception, because it’s a signal that the economy is receding as an issue and if the economy is receding as an issue that means things are going well.”

Conservative Political Action Conference Outlook

Who needs more GOP primaries? Although the campaign to select a Republican nominee has just started a quiet period, there will be more than enough political excitement this weekend inWashington, D.C., at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC. If you’re giddy about the presidential race, Mitt Romney,Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich will speak; if you’re interested in conservative ideas, Paul Ryan will be giving the keynote address; if you’re eager to meet C-list celebrities, Stephen Baldwin and Chuck Woolery will both be speaking; and if you’re just looking for love, there will be a conservative dating event as well. And, if you’re a political reporter looking for another delegate-free presidential vote to cover after Tuesday night, there will be a presidential straw poll as well.

CPAC is a nearly 40-year-old event held by the American Conservative Union annually, and has been likened to a “Mardi Gras for the Right.” According to Alyssa Farah, the communications director of the College Republican National Committee who has attended the conference every year since she was a freshman at Patrick Henry College, “its giant strategy session meets party.” By day, it’s a frantic political networking event, with attendees “going in and out of different speakers and trying to brush elbows.” By night, it becomes “a much more informal atmosphere” with “cocktail receptions,” culminating in the Reaganpalooza party on the last night of the conference, held at the Teatro Goldoni, a pricy Italian restaurant on K Street.

The event in recent years also been has been punctuated with controversy over the participation of a GLBT Republican group, GOProud. Its participation in the past sparked controversy, as other social-conservative organizations like the Family Research Council and the Concerned Women of America boycotted in protest. This year, however, GOProud was dropped as a co-sponsor. (Although to balance things out, CPAC excluded the John Birch Society as well). According to GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia, “this was the best thing that ever happened” to the organization, which advocates for “gay conservatives and their allies.” He said “all the folks that ranted and raved did nothing but good stuff [and] raise[d] our credibility, membership and budget.”

But while the fireworks over the participation of GOProud are now relegated to the past, the rise of Occupy Wall Street has raised the potential for new conflict. Occupy DC has announced that it will “Occupy CPAC” to protest what it terms “a gathering of bigots, media mouthpieces, corrupt politicians, and their 1 percent elite puppet masters.” The presence of Occupiers should not create any internal conflict among conference attendees, but it does create a significant potential for protests and unrest around the conference, which is being held at a Washington, D.C. hotel. But whatever media frenzy the occupiers may create will pale compared with the infinitely more polarizing and headline-grabbing force of Sarah Palin, who will be present.

Palin, who has never before appeared at CPAC, will be speaking before thousands of active movement conservatives, and the national political media, in the midst of a contentious GOP presidential primary. Although she has yet to endorse a candidate, the 2008 vice presidential nominee has frequently spoken highly of Newt Gingrich. Her husband, Todd, has even endorsed the former House speaker. Given Rick Santorum’s big night last Tuesday, an endorsement of Gingrich would be a huge boost for a campaign that has struggled since losing the winner-take-all primary in Florida at the end of January. Whether Palin explicitly endorses Gingrich or not, her speech is sure to be pored over by the national media, practicing a kind of Kremlinology, Wasilla-style, to get hints of her views on the race.

The most important moment for those looking for portents of what’s to come in the GOP primary contest is the annual presidential straw poll held on the last day of the conference. Although Ron Paul has won this popularity contest the past two years by “stacking the deck” according to chief Santorum strategist John Brabender, the straw pool looms as having some significance, since as it is being held at the beginning of the February hiatus in the GOP primary race. Further, Paul is at a comparative disadvantage this year because he won’t be at CPAC, unlike his three main competitors—instead, he will be campaigning in Maine, in what Brabender terms “a real race.” The CPAC straw poll isn’t as critical as, say, a nonbinding primary in Missouri, but it still will be viewed as an indicator of the candidates’ relative popularity in the conservative movement. Plus, it’s the only election that’s also the pregame party for Reaganpalooza.

Way What?? Romney HAD Mojo… WOW

Romney Losing His Mojo After Caucus, Primary Losses to Santorum

 Rick Santorum’s sweep exposed glaring weaknesses in Mitt Romney’s candidacy. Howard Kurtz on whether the ex-senator can capitalize on conservative qualms about Romney.

It’s easy to wave away Santorum’s triple triumph in Minnesota, Missouri, and Colorado as an exercise in symbolism that netted him no delegates. But as a snapshot of the state of the GOP race, it’s a rather dark picture for Romney.

“These results are a serious blow to Romney that crystallized the conservative questions about his bona fides and punctured it,” says Ari Fleischer, the former Bush White House spokesman. “If your campaign is built on inevitability, a puncture can take you down.”

Ed Rollins, the veteran GOP strategist who briefly ran Michele Bachmann’s campaign, says Romney “has been running for six years and never quite connected. He’s spent no time talking about his years as governor, which is not exactly an all-star four years. He now wants to pretend he’s a right-winger, and it’s just not believable.”

Adds John Feehery, a former House Republican official: “Santorum doesn’t have any organization or money—he’s able to win based on the idea that the base doesn’t like Romney.” Romney “struck a bad chord” with his gaffe about not being concerned about the very poor, says Feehery: “Many conservatives, especially Christian conservatives, actually care about the poor.”

Romney is still the likely nominee, of course, but these and other GOP analysts are saying for the first time that Santorum has a shot. They see him as having eclipsed Newt Gingrich, whose fortunes have sagged since his brief, shining moment in South Carolina.

Given that Romney was coming off solid wins in Florida and Nevada, his vote totals on Tuesday were stunningly weak, even if social conservatives form the backbone of the electorate in the three states.

As Ron Brownstein points out in National Journal, Romney got 25,900 votes in winning the Minnesota caucuses four years ago; this time, in finishing third, he won only 8,090. The same pattern held in the Colorado caucuses, which Romney won last time with 42,218 votes; on Tuesday he finished second with 22,875. And he drew just over a third as many votes in Missouri’s beauty contest as in 2008.

Maybe the results amounted to a giant protest vote. Maybe Romney does poorly when he doesn’t have much time to campaign or when he doesn’t pour money into attack ads. But there may well be something deeper that goes to both style and substance.

Romney comes across as overly scripted, and sometimes aloof, whether he’s hitting his talking points or reciting “America the Beautiful.” He’s a bit ill at ease among average voters. What was striking about his concession speech Tuesday night was that when he talked about his father struggling to make it as a carpenter, he seemed to be speaking from the heart. (Of course, Dad went on to become head of American Motors and Michigan’s governor, so that’s the closest Romney can come to a rags-to-riches narrative.)

And what, at its heart, is Romney’s message, other than that Obama is flailing and the former head of Bain Capital is the man to fix the economy? Romney lacks an animating idea that would bring voters to their feet and faces such complications as the similarities between Obama’s health-care reform and his own in Massachusetts.

“The conservative electorate of 2012 really is hungry for the authentic, Washington-changing candidate,” Fleischer says.

Perhaps that’s why the Romney camp is now going after Santorum as a Beltway insider. Top adviser Eric Fehrnstrom told MSNBC that Santorum and Gingrich are “two peas in a pod—longtime Washington legislators.” And a Romney email blast portrayed Gingrich and Santorum as wild-eyed earmarkers, with such headlines as “Santorum Brought Over $1 Billion in Pork-Barrel Spending Back to Pennsylvania” and “Santorum Voted for the Bridge to Nowhere.”

It’s no accident that Santorum, a favorite of religious conservatives, used his Tuesday-night speech to trumpet his opposition to the White House rule requiring Catholic organizations to offer contraception in health-insurance plans—an issue that has been heating up in recent days.

“If he becomes the champion of the conservative Catholic/Christian coalition, he could be very credible,” says Rollins. “He’s a tough debater. There are no liabilities to him. He’s every bit as knowledgeable as Gingrich, though not as articulate. He’s more disciplined in his message. He is the true-blue Catholic; Gingrich is a convert who’s had multiple marriages.”

Santorum “knows the issues better than Romney does,” Feehery says. “He’s got a better message and is more consistent.” One political weakness, says Feehery, is that Santorum is not a Tea Party favorite: “He’s a big-government conservative, a traditional Republican—a George W. Bush compassionate conservative.”

“Santorum doesn’t have any organization or money—he’s able to win based on the idea that the base doesn’t like Romney.”

Santorum’s ability to remain in the first tier depends in part on whether his big night triggers a flood of donations, so he doesn’t get buried in Michigan or Arizona by millions in negative ads. One question is the extent to which Wyoming financier Foster Friess, who has been bankrolling Santorum’s super PAC (as well as The Daily Caller), is willing to open his checkbook.

It may turn out that Santorum is only the latest in a series of Not-Romneys—Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich—who flash across the political landscape before burning out. But if Santorum can eclipse Gingrich and get Romney one-on-one, as in Missouri, or if they alternate tackling the frontrunner in states where each man is the strongest, this race isn’t over by a long shot.

Mitt WHO?? Don’t Think I Know That Fella.

Mitt Romney’s No More Of a Mystery Than Barack Obama

 Romney may take both sides on issues and encourage voters to project what they want onto him, but he is not hiding his “real” nature any more than the president is. With both men, it’s called politics, says Lee Siegel.

The current meme, taken up with a vengeance by the liberal media, is that no one knows who the real Mitt Romneyis. Why does that sound familiar?

True, I have no idea what Romney believes on virtually any issue. Like everyone, I am struck by his pattern of presenting inconsistent positions with no apparent recognition of their incoherence. The real conundrum is why this man seems so compelled to take both sides of every issue, encouraging voters to project whatever they want on him, and hoping they won’t realize which hand is holding the rabbit. He either does not know what he believes or is willing to take whatever position he thinks will lead to his election.

I am sure that no liberal would disagree with that assessment of Romney. I am as sure of that as I am of the fact that most liberals heartily assented to those very words when they were used to describe President Obama six months ago in the New York Times, in a scathing op-ed essay by Drew Westen. I’ve quoted them almost verbatim.

There were dissenters, to be sure, but the chorus of hosannas that rose from the liberal media in response to Westen’s criticisms was almost unanimous. And now, with the presidential election looming, those very criticisms have been displaced from the president who was widely perceived, by his own supporters, to be an empty suit, onto his likely opponent in the fall.

Yet to say that both Obama and Romney are hiding their “real” natures beneath contradictory positions is to mischaracterize them. With rare exceptions, a modern democratic politician possessing a real, unalterable nature is an oxymoron. When someone is described to us as being very “political,” we know that we are being told to keep our guard up. Why, then, do we keep expecting our politicians to reassure us with their integrity? They are political, through and through, and we should stop being so shocked, shocked, when they act politically.

Romney Obama Comparison

With rare exceptions, a modern democratic politician possessing a real, unalterable nature is an oxymoron, writes Lee Siegel., Chip Somodevilla / AP Photo

In Romney’s case, no one wants to accept that he is merely being a politician. Instead, he is dangerously mystified. Several months ago when he said during a televised debate, using the exact same words, that the was “not concerned about the very poor,” no one made a peep—and he didn’t even add the bit about fixing the safety net if necessary that he did when he repeated the sentence last week. Now, however, he utters the very same words and a terrible uproar ensues. What did he mean? What did he really mean? Was he being accurately quoted?

Yet he was doing what just about every Republican politician does, which is to reassure the middle class that he was not going to shift his attention away from them to the poor. After all, the poor don’t vote in great numbers, and when they do, they usually vote Democratic. But the liberal media was, again, shocked, shocked, to find a Republican speaking like a Republican. Why does the “Mitt-bot” keep making such flubs, they asked? Endless analysis of his “enigmatic” character followed. The result was to deepen and mystify a simple political remark. By the time the analysis was over, Romney seemed to be sympathetic to the middle class, the rich and even the poor, whose safety net he was going to fix.

The unflattering comparisons being drawn between Romney and his father also only make him more attractive, by raising the hope that the apple will not fall far from the tree. The standard narrative now is that George Romney, as governor of Michigan, presidential candidate, and secretary of Housing and Urban Development, was an honest, decent man who stuck to his guns, no matter what. Maybe. And maybe that is pure nonsense.

The Republican George Romney is being celebrated for standing up to his party on civil rights, for example. He was indeed a staunch defender of civil rights. But he also was the governor of a Democratic state, at a time of growing liberal consensus. His anti-labor stance and business experience as CEO of American Motors Corporation guaranteed him the support of Detroit’s growing affluent Republican suburbs. His business-minded opposition to big-business—i.e. his former competitors, Detroit’s Big Three—and his strong civil rights stance guaranteed him much of the liberal vote, as well as a decisive black vote. In his successful second run for governor, he garnered 30 percent of Michigan’s black vote, something no Republican candidate in the state had ever done.

Romney pere’s powerful advocacy of civil rights policies at HUD was admirable and honorable. But it also undercut his former presidential rival, Richard Nixon, and strengthened his base among liberals and blacks in Michigan, should he have decided one day to run for Senate. (In the event, his wife Lenore ran for Senate instead, and lost.)

Even George Romney’s notorious change of heart on the war in Vietnam—the mother of all flip-flops—is being hailed as an example of courageous moral resolve. Running against Nixon for the Republican presidential nomination, Romney declared in August 1967 that he had been brainwashed into supporting the war during a 1965 trip to Vietnam, and now proclaimed his opposition to it. His reversal could have been on high moral principle. Then again, it could be that he was trying to make an end-run around Nixon using the same cut-both-ways strategy he had used to get elected governor of Michigan. In his campaigns for governor, he had appealed to the liberal wing of the GOP in order to win over Democratic voters. It had worked when Romney contrasted himself with the disastrously right-wing Goldwater in the early sixties. That it didn’t work as he tried to contrast himself with Nixon didn’t mean that Romney wasn’t hoping it would.

The saintly father, the complex, multi-faceted son—even as they are displacing their unhappiness with Obama’s “unknowableness” onto Romney, the liberal media is mystifying Romney in some weird inversion of its mystification of Obama three years ago. For liberals, of course, the mystique is a horrible one. But in some disturbing sense, by making him a mystery instead of treating him as a politician, they are doing Romney’s work for him. Voters who are tired of politicians and of “more of the same” love an exciting new mystery.

6 Thoughts About the Tuesday Santorum Sweep.

The Republican presidential race just got a lot more interesting. On Tuesday night, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) scored”stunning” upset wins in the Colorado and Minnesota caucuses, and in Missouri’s nonbinding “beauty pageant” primary. It was a clean sweep nobody saw coming — “probably not even Rick Santorum,” says The New Yorker‘s John Cassidy. As recently as a week ago, Mitt Romney was expected to win all three contests, and political analysts expected him to win Colorado even as the votes were being tallied. Here, six takeaways from Tuesday’s surprising outcome:

1. Santorum scored big bragging rights: After his Jan. 3 win in Iowa. Santorum suffered a string of dispiriting third- and fourth-place finishes. But all of a sudden, Santorum has now won four states, more than any of his GOP rivals. And he’s the only candidate to notch wins in the electorally crucial Midwest. The cash-poor Santorum did it the hard way, too, through foot-pounding retail politics, says Alex Altman at TIME. It paid off: “In a single evening, he punctured the aura of inevitability that had gathered around Romney’s campaign,” and toppled Newt Gingrich as the go-to not-Romney candidate. What he didn’t do was win any delegates: Each of these three states will apportion their delegates later this year.

[SEE MORE: Is Nevada's Tea Party too dysfunctional to trip up Mitt Romney?]

2. Romney’s coronation is now on hold: Santorum’s hat trick is “a stunning rebuke to Mitt Romney and the national media,” says The New Yorker‘s Cassidy. And Romney’s “horrible, horrible night” will have lasting consequences, says Erick Erickson at RedState. In three key swing states, conservative voters “sent a very clear signal”: We do not like Romney. Indeed, the real “story of Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado is the stunning weakness of Mitt Romney,” says Paul Begala at The Daily Beast. “His super PAC outspent Santorum’s by a 40-to-1 margin,” and Santorum crushed him. That’s “like the New York Yankees losing an exhibition game to a church-league softball team.”

3. But Mitt is still favored to win the nomination: Tuesday was a bad night for the GOP frontrunner, but “barring a spectacular reversal in the months ahead,” he will still “be anointed as the Republican nominee,” says Thomas DeFrank in the New York Daily News. Things should get better for Romney as the contest moves into the friendlier territory of Arizona and Michigan on Feb. 28, and then Super Tuesday on March 6, where “Romney’s money advantage should help him plenty,” says Jonathan Bernstein at A Plain Blog About Politics. For Santorum, “it’s a long, long, way from a very good night to actually becoming a plausible nominee. Much less the actual nominee.”

[SEE MORE: Nominating Mitt Malaprop]

4. Gingrich is toast: Newt “was a footnote in the three contests” Tuesday night, says Maggie Haberman at Politico. With little money and no momentum, “it’s a bit hard to see how Gingrich is going to keep himself relevant in the coming weeks.” He can’t, says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. “Gingrich’s days as the leading not-Romney are just about over.”

5. Republicans still aren’t turning out to vote: “Are Republicans energized? Not if turnout is an indication,” say Peter Hamby and John Helton at CNN. GOP voters came out in much smaller numbers on Tuesday than they did four years ago. The numbers “are so low as to be laughable,” says John Hinderaker at PowerLine. In Minnesota, for example, fewer than 50,000 people participated in the caucuses; in the 2008 general election, 1,275,409 Minnesotans voted for Republican John McCain.

[SEE MORE: How deep-pocketed super PACs became 'shadow campaigns']

6. Geography is trumping history: The Republican race “appears to be turning into a regionally based contest,” says The New Yorker‘s Cassidy, “with Santorum as the heartland candidate, Gingrich as the Southern candidate, and the Mittster as Mr. Everywhere Else — or so he hopes.” What’s striking is how much that map has changed in four years, says Politico‘s Haberman. In 2008, Romney won Colorado with a stunning 60 percent, but he lost to Santorum by 5 points on Tuesday, with 35 percent. Romney won Minnesota with 40.1 percent in 2008; this year, he came in an embarrassing, distant third, with 17 percent. What changed? In 2008, Romney was “the electable conservative alternative” to McCain. This year, he’s almost become McCain: A centrist RINO.

Republican Voters Bored with Romney and Others

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Mitt Romney’s march to a possible Republican presidential nomination just got a lot longer and harder.

Front-runner Romney left Tuesday’s round of three nominating contests with another reminder of his own shortcomings, after a two-state winning streak that had placed him firmly in the driver’s seat in the nomination race.

Bad losses to rival Rick Santorum in Colorado, Missouri andMinnesota raised more questions about whether conservative Republicans are ready to give their hearts to a millionaire former Massachusetts governor who once supported abortion rights and a government requirement that people have health insurance.

Romney may still be the front-runner in the race to pick the Republican candidate to challenge President Barack Obama in the November 6 U.S. election. But nothing is coming easily for him in this most volatile of Republican nominating races.

“This shows Republicans are not ready yet to just automatically pull the lever for Mitt Romney,” Republican strategist Ron Bonjean said. “He still has to seal the deal.”

The next big showdowns will be in Michigan and Arizona on February 28. Romney grew up in Michigan, where his father was a former governor and car executive, and Arizona could be another high-stakes showdown similar to Florida.

“He wanted to run through February and roll into Super Tuesday as the presumptive nominee, and that’s just not going to happen now,” Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said. “This is a wake-up call for Romney, but it’s not the end-all.”

Super Tuesday is March 6, with contests in 10 states.

Romney’s campaign will try to paint Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, as another old Washington hand who backed big government spending during his time in Congress.

“I think we’ll see differences in approach that will be explored,” Romney senior adviser Stuart Stevens told reporters in Denver. “I just don’t think it’s a time when people are looking to Washington to solve problems with Washington.”

Romney, a former head of a private equity firm, has touted his business experience as the cure for an ailing economy in states like Florida and Nevada, where high unemployment and depressed housing markets made the economy a top concern.

But in Midwestern states like Iowa, Missouri and Minnesota – all won by Santorum – that has not been enough to sell a more rural and conservative electorate.

Romney also could face second-guessing about his post-Florida strategy. He demolished Newt Gingrich there last week with a wave of negative attack ads, but since has largely ignored Gingrich and Santorum to aim his criticism at President Barack Obama.

He also largely skipped campaigning in Missouri and Minnesota to focus instead on Colorado, which he won in 2008 and was expected to win on Tuesday.

“Team Romney might need to tweak its strategy. So far they’ve been successful in going negative on their opponents and touting his business experience,” O’Connell said.

‘HUNGRY FOR MORE’

“But obviously Republican primary voters are hungry for something more. A lot of folks see him as a single-issue candidate right now,” he said.

Santorum has been happy to stay out of the mud-slinging battle between his two rivals and portray himself as the issue-oriented true conservative in the race.

Romney’s campaign began lobbing criticism at Santorum over the past two days, hitting the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania for backing spending bills and local spending projects known as earmarks when he served in the Senate.

Romney’s campaign still seems confident its financial and organizational muscle will be enough to ultimately win the nomination, even if the conservative base is not enthralled.

Romney has far outpaced his Republican rivals in raising money, with nearly $57 million brought in by his campaign and $30 million raised by the pro-Romney “Super PAC.”

Sensing he was headed for a bad night, the campaign sent reporters a memo on Tuesday outlining why he would win the nomination in August even if he stumbled on Tuesday.

“Governor Romney will be competing across the country and collecting delegates in state after state, even if other candidates pick up some wins,” Romney’s political director Rich Beeson said.

In an interview with conservative radio host Scott Hennen earlier this week, Romney shared his vision of how the campaign would play out, and it did not include a primary campaign that lasts all the way to the convention in August when the nominee formally will be named.

“Most likely, the party regulars will surround one of the people who they think has the best chance of beating Barack Obama, and start raising money for the general election,” Romney said.

But a confident Romney campaign had expected February would be a good month, too, with many of the contests coming in states he won in 2008 – including Minnesota and Colorado.

While Romney had not campaigned in Missouri or Minnesota, the loss in Colorado, where he spent the last two days, was harder to shrug off.

“Losing Colorado is a five-alarm fire for Romney,” Bonjean said.

February 3, 2012

Coming of Age and Facing a Poor Quality of Life and Uncertain Future

This Post is scheduled to post on  the early morning of Friday February 3, 2012. It is My Daughter Birthday today… and I am sad …..

It is a sad post actually… it is about my daughter. While the happy news is that on this day she attains the milestone of 21 years  of age…. and I will  abide by her wished to give her the first legal drink in her life (I have been instructed by her to make sure it is sweet) ….. the sad news is  she faces a glib future.

My daughter is Autistic.. and hope as I may have I  hoped and prayed that she would  develop enough to be at least minimally self sufficient…. but that is not going to be the case for her. If I am no longer able to care for her then I  fear.. really fear…. that  the Government , in its efforts to care for her.. will in fact fail her like they have…. many others. WORSE, my own republican party has  taken on an ANTI-NEEDY stance….. and   if you know anyone on a fixed income you will know that the “COST OF LIVING ADJUSTMENT”  that Social Security Recipients Get is NOT true….NOT real.. and their costs of living are far far greater than the  adjustment they get every year.

I have thought of putting my assets into a specified Trust Fund…. but who will administer it…. I do not know anyone that is related to me or my daughter that I can trust to do what is right for her and to safeguard the money… and I mean that….. NO ONE related to us do I trust…. and that is a sad state of affairs in itself.

Lawyers charge too much to do this over time….. and if the assets were  placed in my daughter’s name I fear she will not qualify for aid until all of that money was used up… and I wanted her to have that for the simpler things in life… Ruffles Potato Chips , Pepperoni Loves Pizza cut into half-inch squares  so she  can eat them without having any front teeth, the newest Sims 3 or whatever version is current  expansion packs. I tunes, and Music players and the occasional new computer and  TV set… and Movie and game rentals…. it sounds like a lot.. but it is not cost wise….

But then it is things that Insurance does not cover.. like dental… and Medicare does not cover dental.. or who will help her chose a good Medical plane if Medicare goes private.. and how will she affords it.

I am NOT going to outlive this child/Adult… so what is going to happen to her… where is she going to live… and because she is 100% NON VIOLENT   and is not  the personality that can even stand up for herself.. and gets upset if she is confronted and buckles like a house built of cheap cards….. She really is the most sweetest, kindest, caring, compassionate, empathetic young lady you would ever want to meet.

She is able to achieve intellectually to some extent. She even was able to earn a REGULAR ED diploma and pass the STATE High School  exam…. but some days she cannot remember the days of the week and always has trouble with the months of the year.  She is spatially challenged.. meaning  she cannot see things in her mind.. so when it came to learning how to drive… she had to look down at the pedals to look at them before she wold put her foot down on one to stop or go…. Same with brushing her own hair.. she can not  envision it by feel or concept and can’t brush it as a result.. Bathing, the same…  and even if she could in some ways her dexterity and coordination is so awkward that she gets frustrated and gives up trying….. ohh and she is just 4 foot 8 so even kitchen cabinets are to high for her….  In the simplest terms she needs help in her every day living..  so even finding a good place to live is extremely difficult and I have not found that place yet.

I cold go on about my troubles with getting her her own Medicaid… she does not qualify because she lives with me and our HOUSEHOLD income is too high… or the supposed Medicaid Waiver Program that Congress refuses to fund so I can get her additional help and services…  but what is the use.. there are a lot of people in that position and I am not alone…

What I am alone in and have been for almost 9 years now is taking care of this  sweetheart. No ONE has really helped.. and respite care  … I have no idea what that is.. even family ignores my needs to have real-time for myself… and so I am tired… and have literally lost my will to live.. no I am not going to kill myself… First because I have this obligation to this great person .. but second because i am a Cowardly Catholic… and help has no appeal for me.

And last….. which may seem the strangest thing of all is I am afraid….. NOT OF DYING…. For that Concept I fully embrace…. BUT BECAUSE MY OWN REPUBLICAN PARTY HAS BETRAYED ME AND MY FAMILY…. They have gone so far as to actually now believe the lies they have been telling the public for the last 4 years.. and I am DISGUSTED by their  lies, distortions and worse….. their heartlessness….  and remember I AM A REPUBLICAN!!   …… and it is for this reason I  have to live longer.. because of their  hubris…. their complete disregard for the human condition… because they have become something I do not recognize…. and maybe the 2012 doomsday prophecy will be true if my party wins the  Presidential race based on this platform of hate.

Some of you will say.. ohh then you’re a Democrat… I say no way I am not that  compassionate and soft on people who need to take responsibility.. so others say ohh your libertarian….. I say no there is a need for government and regulations because humans by nature are greedy and selfish and  if left unchecked hurt all of humanity.

I AM A REPUBLICAN… and I am an ANGRY Republican…. but my party does not care.. they have only one goal…. not America.. not Americans.. Not humanity…. no …. ONLY ONE GOAL….. BEAT OBAMA…..  Stupidity reigns in my party!!

Life is HARD.. it is an uphill battle for all of us.. and more so for those like my daughter who are disabled and disadvantaged…. WHO WILL BE HER ADVOCATE when I am not able  to do it anymore….. Obviously not my family, my party, or my country.

So while this is an auspicious day for my daughter turning 21…. and I will make it as special as I can for her.. it is also a sad day as it only  makes me sorry and care  about what will happen  when I can no longer be her advocate and care giver….. and I want to just sit her and cry when I write this………………….

January 30, 2012

Comparison of Mormonism to Christianity

Whether Mormons should be considered “Christians” is a controversial and rather complicated issue. Many Catholics and Protestants do not consider Mormons to be Christians because they believe the differences in doctrines are larger and more fundamental than those between Christian denominations.

On other hand, religious studies books tend to group Mormons in with Christians because: Mormons regard themselves as Christians; Mormonism emerged in a Christian context; and Mormonism shares much in common with other forms of Christianity.

Mormons also consider themselves Christians for much the same reasons as listed above. However, they consider themselves to be significantly different from other branches of Christianity. They regard themselves as neither Catholic nor Protestant, viewing both of those faiths as corruptions of true Christianity, which has been restored by Mormonism. 1

The following chart provides a quick-reference guide to the major similarities and differences between the beliefs and practices of Mormonism and mainstream Protestant Christianity. As is always the case with charts, the information is simplified for brevity and should be used alongside more complete explanations. The beliefs listed for both Mormons and Protestant Christians represent those of most, but not all, churches or individuals within each tradition.

 

Mormonism
Mainstream Christianity
Religious Authority All sacred texts equally, continuing revelations Bible (all), ecumenical councils and creeds (Catholic and Orthodox), official papal pronouncements (Catholic), continuing revelations (Pentecostal)
Sacred Texts Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price Bible (some include Apocrypha)
Trinity Rejected – Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three distinct beings who are “one in purpose” Affirmed – Father, Son and Holy Spirit are of the “same substance”; three persons in one being
God Heavenly Father, who has a physical body Trinitarian God, who does not have a body
Jesus Christ Son of God, Savior, originally one of the spirit beings that all humans used to be (see Jesus Christ). Has a physical body. Son of God, Word of God, God, second Person of the Trinity (see Christology)
Holy Spirit A spirit being who is a separate being from God and Jesus. God, Third Person of the Trinity
Original sin Denied (see Human Nature) Affirmed (by most denominations)
Free will Free to do good or evil Free will to do good is seriously impaired
Purpose of Christ’s Incarnation Teach about God, provide a model for right living, die sacrificially for human sin Teach about God, provide a model for right living, die sacrificially for human sin, reveal God directly to humanity
Resurrection of Christ? Yes Yes
Salvation Both faith and works; works emphasized Both faith and works; faith emphasized (in most denominations)
Second chance after death? Yes, during a period of “learning and preparation” after death No
Afterlife All spirits go to the spirit world, undergo preparation, then rejoin with bodies in the resurrection (see Afterlife). The good spend the intervening time in spirit paradise, while the wicked go to spirit prison. Souls of wicked sent to Hell, believers go to Heaven for eternity (see Afterlife). In Catholicism, many believers will suffer in Purgatory before going to Heaven.
Hell The wicked enter an unpleasant “spirit prison” prior to judgment; after that, only the most obstinately wicked (like Satan) will be consigned to “Outer Darkness” for eternity. Place (or state of being) of eternal torment and distance from God.
Place of Worship Chapel or Temple Church
Meaning of Sacraments (Chr) or Ordinances (LDS) Ordinances are covenants between man and God and a means of grace. Some of them are necessary for salvation. Symbolic acts commanded by Christ (some Protestant); means of grace if received with faith (Catholic, Orthodox, and some Protestant).
Sacraments (Chr) or Ordinances (LDS) Include baptism, confirmation, the sacrament (Lord’s Supper), laying on of hands, ordination, temple endowment, and marriage sealing (see Temple Ordinances) Two common to all denominations: Baptism and Lord’s Supper. Total of seven in Catholicism.
Symbols No official symbol; cross is not used; the angel Moroni raising a trumpet is seen atop Mormon temples Cross, fish and others
Holidays Easter, Christmas, national and local holidays, birthdays, celebrations of events in Mormon history Easter, Christmas, saints’ days, several others

 

Mormonism
Mainstream Christianity

 

Is Mormonism Christian?

Is Mormonism Christian? This may seem like a puzzling question to many Mormons as well as to some Christians. Mormons will note that they include the Bible among the four books which they recognize as Scripture, and that belief in Jesus Christ is central to their faith, as evidenced by their official name, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Furthermore, many Christians have heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing Christian hymns and are favorably impressed with the Mormon commitment to high moral standards and strong families. Doesn’t it follow that Mormonism is Christian?

To fairly and accurately resolve this question we need to carefully compare the basic doctrines of the Mormon religion with the basic doctrines of historic, biblical Christianity.

To fairly and accurately resolve this question we need to carefully compare the basic doctrines of the Mormon religion with the basic doctrines of historic, biblical Christianity. To represent the Mormon position we have relied on the following well-known Mormon doctrinal books, the first three of which are published by the Mormon Church: Gospel Principles (1997), Achieving a Celestial Marriage (1976), and A Study of the Articles of Faith (1979) by Mormon Apostle James E. Talmage, as well as Doctrines of Salvation (3 vols.) by the tenth Mormon President and prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, Mormon Doctrine (2nd ed., 1979) by Mormon apostle Bruce R. McConkie andTeachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

1. Is There More Than One True God?

The Bible teaches and orthodox Christians through the ages have believed that there is only one True and Living God and apart from Him there are no other Gods (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:10,11; 44:6,8; 45:21,22; 46:9; Mark 12:29-34).

By contrast, the Mormon Church teaches that there are many Gods (Book of Abraham 4:3ff), and that we can become gods and goddesses in the celestial kingdom (Doctrine and Covenants 132:19-20; Gospel Principles, p. 245; Achieving a Celestial Marriage, p. 130). It also teaches that those who achieve godhood will have spirit children who will worship and pray to them, just as we worship and pray to God the Father(Gospel Principles, p. 302).

2. Was God Once a Man Like Us?

The Bible teaches and orthodox Christians through the ages have believed that God is Spirit (John 4:24; 1 Timothy 6:15,16), He is not a man(Numbers 23:19; Hosea 11:9; Romans 1:22, 23), and has always (eternally) existed as God — all powerful, all knowing, and everywhere present(Psalm 90:2; 139:7-10; Isaiah 40:28; Luke 1:37).

By contrast, the Mormon Church teaches that God the Father was once a man like us who progressed to become a God and has a body of flesh and bone (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22; “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!” from Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 345-347; Gospel Principles, p. 9; Articles of Faith, p. 430; Mormon Doctrine, p. 321). Indeed, the Mormon Church teaches that God himself has a father, and a grandfather, ad infinitum (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 373; Mormon Doctrine, p. 577).

3. Are Jesus and Satan Spirit Brothers?

The Bible teaches and orthodox Christians through the ages have believed that Jesus is the unique Son of God; he has always existed as God, and is co-eternal and co-equal with the Father (John 1:1, 14; 10:30; 14:9; Colossians 2:9). While never less than God, at the appointed time He laid aside the glory He shared with the Father (John 17:4, 5; Philippians 2:6-11) and was made flesh for our salvation; His incarnation was accomplished through being conceived supernaturally by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin (Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 1:34-35).

By contrast, the Mormon Church teaches that Jesus Christ is our elder brother who progressed to godhood, having first been procreated as a spirit child by Heavenly Father and a heavenly mother; He was later conceived physically through intercourse between Heavenly Father and the virgin Mary (D&C 93:21; Journal of Discourses, 1:50-51; Gospel Principles, p. 11-13; Achieving a Celestial Marriage, p. 129; Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp. 546-547; 742; Ezra Taft Benson, Come unto Christ, p. 4; Robert L. Millet, The Mormon Faith: Understanding Restored Christianity, p. 31). Mormon doctrine affirms that Jesus, all angels, Lucifer, all demons, and all human beings are originally spirit brothers and sisters (Abraham 3:22-27; Moses 4:1-2; Gospel Principles, pp. 17-18; Mormon Doctrine, p. 192).

4. Is God a Trinity?

The Bible teaches and orthodox Christians through the ages have believed that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost are not separate Gods or separate beings, but are distinct Persons within the one Triune Godhead. Throughout the New Testament the Son and the Holy Spirit, as well as the Father are separately identified as and act as God (Son: Mark 2:5-12; John 20:28; Philippians 2:10,11; Holy Spirit: Acts 5:3,4; 2 Corinthians 3:17,18; 13:14); yet at the same time the Bible teaches that these three are only one God (see point 1).

By contrast, the Mormon Church teaches that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three separate Gods (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 370; Mormon Doctrine, pp. 576-577), and that the Son and Holy Ghost are the literal offspring of Heavenly Father and a celestial wife (Joseph Fielding McConkie, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, vol. 2, p. 649).

5. Was The Sin Of Adam and Eve a Great Evil Or a Great Blessing?

The Bible teaches and orthodox Christians through the ages have believed that the disobedience of our first parents Adam and Eve was a great evil. Through their fall sin entered the world, bringing all human beings under condemnation and death. Thus we are born with a sinful nature, and will be judged for the sins we commit as individuals. (Ezekiel 18:1-20; Romans 5:12-21).

By contrast, the Mormon Church teaches that Adam’s sin was “a necessary step in the plan of life and a great blessing to all of us” (Gospel Principles, p. 33; Book of Mormon — 2 Nephi 2:25; Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, pp. 114-115).

6. Can We Make Ourselves Worthy Before God?

The Bible teaches and orthodox Christians through the ages have believed that apart from the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross we are spiritually “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1,5) and are powerless to save ourselves. By grace alone, apart from self-righteous works, God forgives our sins and makes us worthy to live in His presence (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-6). Our part is only to cling to Christ in heartfelt faith. (However, it is certainly true that without the evidence of changed conduct, a person’s testimony of faith in Christ must be questioned; salvation by grace alone through faith, does not mean we can live as we please — Romans 6:1-4).

By contrast, the Mormon Church teaches that eternal life in the presence of God (which it terms “exaltation in the celestial kingdom”) must be earned through obedience to all the commands of the Mormon Church, including exclusive Mormon temple rituals. Works are a requirementfor salvation (entrance into the “celestial kingdom”) — Gospel Principles, p. 303-304; Pearl of Great Price — Third Article of Faith; Mormon Doctrine, pp. 339, 671; Book of Mormon — 2 Nephi 25:23).

7. Does Christ’s Atoning Death Benefit Those Who Reject Him?

The Bible teaches and orthodox Christians through the ages have believed that the purpose of the atoning work of Christ on the cross was to provide the complete solution for humankind’s sin problem. However, those who reject God’s grace in this life will have no part in this salvation but are under the judgment of God for eternity (John 3:36; Hebrews 9:27; 1 John 5:11-12).

By contrast, the Mormon Church teaches that the purpose of the atonement was to bring resurrection and immortality to all people, regardless of whether they receive Christ by faith. Christ’s atonement is only a partial basis for worthiness and eternal life, which also requires obedience to all the commands of the Mormon church, including exclusive Mormon temple rituals (Gospel Principles, pp. 74-75;Mormon Doctrine, p. 669).

8. Is The Bible The Unique and Final Word of God?

The Bible teaches and orthodox Christians through the ages have believed that the Bible is the unique, final and infallible Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:1,2; 2 Peter 1:21) and that it will stand forever (1 Peter 1:23-25). God’s providential preservation of the text of the Bible was marvelously illustrated in the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

By contrast, the Mormon Church teaches that the Bible has been corrupted, is missing many “plain and precious parts” and does not contain the fullness of the Gospel (Book of Mormon — 1 Nephi 13:26-29; Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 3, pp. 190-191).

9. Did The Early Church Fall Into Total Apostasy?

The Bible teaches and orthodox Christians through the ages have believed that the true Church was divinely established by Jesus and could never and will never disappear from the earth (Matthew 16:18; John 15:16; 17:11). Christians acknowledge that there have been times of corruption and apostasy within the Church, but believe there has always been a remnant that held fast to the biblical essentials.

By contrast, the Mormon Church teaches that there was a great and total apostasy of the Church as established by Jesus Christ; this state of apostasy “still prevails except among those who have come to a knowledge of the restored gospel” of the Mormon Church (Gospel Principles, pp. 105-106; Mormon Doctrine, p. 44).


Conclusion: The above points in italics constitute the common gospel believed by all orthodox Christians through the ages regardless of denominational labels. On the other hand, some new religions such as Mormonism claim to be Christian, but accept as Scripture writings outside of the Bible, teach doctrines that contradict the Bible, and hold to beliefs completely foreign to the teachings of Jesus and His apostles.

Mormons share with orthodox Christians some important moral precepts from the Bible. However, the above points are examples of the many fundamental and irreconcilable differences between historic, biblical Christianity and Mormonism. While these differences do not keep us from being friendly with Mormons, we cannot consider them brothers and sisters in Christ. The Bible specifically warns of false prophets who will teach “another gospel” centered around “another Jesus,” and witnessed to by “another spirit” (2 Corinthians 11:4,13-15; Galatians 1:6-9). Based on the evidence presented above, we believe Mormonism represents just such a counterfeit gospel.

It has been pointed out that if one claimed to be a Mormon but denied all the basic tenets of Mormonism — that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, that the Book of Mormon is true and divinely inspired, that god was once a man who progressed to godhood through keeping the laws and ordinances of the Mormon Church, and that the Mormon Church was divinely established — the Mormon Church would reject such a person’s claim to being a Latter-day Saint. One cannot fairly call oneself a Mormon if one does not believe the fundamental doctrines taught by the Mormon Church. By the same token, if the Mormon Church does not hold to even the basic biblical truths believed by the greater Christian community down through the ages, how can Christians reasonably be expected to accept Mormonism as authentic Christianity?

If the Mormon Church believes it is the only true Christian Church, it should not attempt to publicly present itself as a part of a broader Christian community. Instead it should tell the world openly that those who claim to be orthodox Christians are not really Christians at all, and that the Mormon Church is the only true Christian Church. This in fact is what it teaches privately, but not publicly.

January 23, 2012

Romney Reassess His Campaign Strategy

 Mitt Romney is pressing reset.

After a crushing loss to Newt Gingrich in South Carolina, the former Massachusetts governor made clear Sunday that he plans to attack his chief rival’s character, release his tax returns this week and try to right a campaign he acknowledged had been knocked off kilter.

“It was not a great week for me,” Romney acknowledged during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”

And at a rally here, his first event in Florida after the loss to Gingrich, Romney assailed the former speaker’s leadership abilities. “We’re not choosing a talk show host, alright?” he said. “We’re choosing a leader.”

Romney now turns to Florida at what is possibly the most critical moment of his campaign, after two weeks of sustained attacks from his opponents and a series of self-inflicted errors that erased any notion that he would be able to lock up the nomination quickly by winning this state’s Jan. 31 primary.

“I’m looking forward to a long campaign,” Romney said on Fox News. “We are selecting the president of the United States. Someone who is going to face ups and downs and real challenges, and I hope that through this process, I can demonstrate that I can take a setback and come back strong.”

Even if Romney does manage a victory here — his Florida campaign is by far the strongest of any in the GOP field, and he and his allies have been alone on the air for weeks — the race has become a two-way fight between him and Gingrich, the former House speakerwith a huge dose of momentum.

And now Romney’s team is girding for a long and costly fight that extends well beyond Florida. Saturday night’s shellacking in South Carolina underscored the former Massachusetts governor’s vulnerabilities and undermined his claims of becoming the inevitable Republican nominee.

Over the next 10 days, the candidates — including former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Texas Rep. Ron Paul — will meet twice on the debate stage, a venue where Gingrich has thrived in recent weeks and Romney has struggled some when pressed about questions about his wealth and private business experience. The debates — Monday in Tampa and Thursday in Jacksonville — present fresh opportunities for both breakout performances and mistakes.

Romney brought out his more aggressive posture and lines of attack toward Gingrich at the Sunday rally. “Speaker Gingrich has also been a leader. At the end of four years, it was proven that he was a failed leader,” Romney said, referring to the ethics investigation that resulted in a rare reprimand for a House speaker.

It’s clear the campaign is worried voters have forgotten Gingrich’s history. “He had to resign in disgrace. I don’t know whether you knew that,” Romney said.

“I’m asking the people of Florida to consider: what are the qualities of leadership?” he said. “What makes an effective president, a great president, even? Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower and FDR, even?”

It was an angrier, more aggressive Romney who took the stage at the rally here. He shouted back and forth with the crowd after Occupy Wall Street hecklers interrupted him and rattled off a list of leadership qualities, drawing cheers after each, in a rare back-and-forth with the crowd.

Romney attacked Gingrich’s time working for the quasi-government mortgage giant Freddie Mac, calling again for him to release records related to his consulting work for them.

Behind the scenes, aides also indicated that Romney would go after Gingrich’s character in Florida as a way to distinguish himself — a father of five who has been married to the same woman for 42 years — from his thrice-married rival. And the aides argued that the results in South Carolina don’t indicate Republican primary voters everywhere are willing to overlook Gingrich’s two divorces and acknowledged infidelity. Gingrich’s second wife, Marianne, told ABC News in an interview aired Thursday that the former speaker asked her for an open marriage so he could continue having an affair with the House staffer who is now his third wife.

Publicly, Romney has refused to engage on the subject thus far, saying at a debate Thursday: “Let’s get onto the real issues. That’s all I got to say.”

But Romney has started poking at Gingrich’s character by raising questions about the ethics investigation against Gingrich in the 1990s, when he was House speaker, and suggested that the former Georgia lawmaker was hiding something by refusing to release reams of documents he apparently gave to investigators back then.

Asked Sunday whether character would become an issue, Romney said, “No question.”

“Leadership is the key attribute that people should look for in considering a president,” Romney said, “and character is a big part of leadership, as is vision, sobriety, steadiness.”

Romney’s team also plans to contrast his experience as a governor and businessman with Gingrich’s experience in Congress and his later work with former colleagues on behalf of businesses.

Romney, meanwhile, also is working to fix a key vulnerability — defensiveness over questions about his personal wealth, including money in funds in the Cayman Islands, a popular haven for international investment.

Under pressure to release his tax returns immediately, Romney reversed course and said he would release those documents for 2010 and an estimate for 2011 on Tuesday — months ahead of their planned April release.

The documents will lay out just how Romney, a multimillionaire many times over, makes his money and reveal his actual tax rate, which Romney estimated at about 15 percent.

His wife, Ann Romney, addressed the issue at the Florida rally, suggesting family was more important than money.

“I understand Mitt’s going to release his tax forms this week,” she said as she introduced him. “I want to remind you where we know our riches are. Our riches are with our families.”

“That’s where we measure our wealth, is through those children,” she said.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a backer who had called on Romney to immediately release his returns, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Romney made the right decision, saying, “I’m happy he’s doing it.”

Will Florida Be Romney’s Waterloo…

Mitt Romney never lets you see him sweat, but he is under some perspiration-inducing pressure as he prepares to step onto a debate stage Monday evening in Tampa. Maybe that is why he had a photo op to show him washing his own clothes at the  hotel . But lets dig deeper and see if this face off with Newt and Santorum is like a high stakes poker game. Given the lack of personality  of Romney maybe he would be better to play poker than to debate again

Romney needs a forceful performance to regain the initiative after his double-digit drubbing in South Carolina at the hands of Newt Gingrich. But if the former governor gets too histrionic or too harsh, he will seem inauthentic, forfeiting the one quality—that of a steady, self-assured businessman—that has served him well.

We already know what Gingrich will do. Newt will be Newt, by turns forceful, hectoring and, by his own admission, grandiose, with a couple of condescending slaps at the NBC moderators thrown in just to protect the brand. Gingrich is a strong debater, agile enough even to turn a question about past marital infidelity into an applause line. Without the twin debates in South Carolina last week, he probably would have lost the primary.

The question now at the heart of this campaign: What’s Mitt got left?

Beyond the darts he throws Gingrich’s way, can Romney raise the level of his game in a way that forces Republican voters to reconsider him? Or is he a captive of his own limitations, a smart, seasoned, and awesomely uninspiring politician?

It would be a mistake for a media mob that has twice written off Gingrich—how dumb does that look now?—to overreact to the South Carolina results. The heavily evangelical and staunchly conservative electorate was tailor-made for the ex-Georgia congressman. Newt won’t have that advantage in the bigger and more diverse battleground of Florida, which votes Jan. 31. Mitt’s still got the money and the organization for the war of attrition ahead.

But NBC viewers on Monday will be looking at a candidate stripped of his aura of inevitability—a premise of electability that, it turns out, is central to his case for the nomination. He probably would love to skip the coming debates—the networks really control the calendar this year—but that would project a sense of panic.

Romney’s had a year to make the case to GOP voters and has fallen short. His vision of a presidential CEO appeals to the head but not the heart. Many Republican voters are mad—at President Obama, at the liberal establishment, at the media—and it is Gingrich who has skillfully channeled that anger. Newt comes armed for a knife fight, and Mitt shows up with a PowerPoint presentation. Can anyone imagine Romney calling a moderator’s question “despicable”?

Perhaps it is to Romney’s credit that he restrains his rhetoric, that he appeals to the sensible center where general elections are won. But candidates, especially primary candidates, need passion, and Romney seems a bit too calculating, even when it comes to so basic a question as releasing his tax returns. (He has a year to prepare for the question and then says “maybe”—seriously?) A more natural politician would use wit to brush off questions about his wealth; Romney’s responses seem forced and halting, his talk of pink-slip anxiety labored and ludicrous.

Undoubtedly, Romney will press Gingrich to release the details of his Freddie Mac non-lobbying contract, and papers from the House probe that led to his reprimand and $300,000 fine (though the 1,300-page ethics report is available online). But these jabs will seem like what they are, a transparent attempt to deflect attention from his own tax-return woes (Mr. 15 Percent says he’ll put out the 2010 return on Tuesday).

Romney offered a glimpse of this strategy against Gingrich on Sunday, saying in Florida that “at the end of four years it was proven he was a failed leader, and he had to resign in disgrace.”

The real challenge in the NBC faceoff, and a CNN debate later this week, is whether Romney can forge a connection with Republicans that goes beyond his Harvard pedigree and 59-point economic plan. Americans like a fighter, someone they can envision leading the charge in crisis situations, and Romney is afflicted with Dukakis disease, a competent technocrat in an era of anger.

He will, however, have one underappreciated advantage. Until now, Gingrich has been a protest candidate whose heated language rouses Republicans. On Monday night, though, the country will start looking at him as a potential president, someone who could grab the nomination and conceivably defeat Obama. As his advisers recognize, Newt still has to pass the commander-in-chief threshold, and he tends to be his own worst enemy when he’s riding high. The prospect of President Gingrich could make Romney look like a stable suitor—one who stays married after the excitement has worn off. The problem for Romney is that the party’s base remains worried about ideological infidelity.

Rick Santorum performed strongly in last week’s debates as well, but after weak showings in New Hampshire and South Carolina, his moment probably has passed. We are down to a two-man race in Florida, two contrasting characters who are selling very different versions of conservatism. Until Saturday, the overriding issue was whether Gingrich could emerge as the alternative to Romney. Now, for the first time, that question may be turned on its head.

Newts South Carolina Win Brings 5 New Possible Scenarios

Gingrich steamrolled Mitt Romney and the rest of the GOP presidential field in Saturday’s Palmetto State primary. What happens now?

Just a short week ago, Mitt Romney had made history by sweeping the Iowa and New Hampshire presidential nominating contests, and was poised to go three-for-three when he picked up a seemingly inevitable win in South Carolina, says Dan Balz at The Washington Post. Then his Iowa win was revoked because of a vote-counting error, followed shortly by Newt Gingrich’s “stunning victory in South Carolina” on Saturday, when he crushed Romney 40 percent to 28 percent. Here, five ways Gingrich’s come-from-behind win changed the GOP contest:

1. Romney’s GOP sprint is now a long, hard slog

“If Romney had won South Carolina, the race for the Republican presidential nomination would have almost certainly been over,” says Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post. Now it’s a marathon. After Gingrich’s Palmetto State romp, “we are in for — at least — another six weeks of campaigning,” through Super Tuesday on March 6. Probably longer, says John Heilemann at New York. Romney has plenty of money, and he won’t drop out because “this is his last chance to be president.” Gingrich has little cash but a “magnet-like capacity to draw free media,” plus an outsized sense of his own destiny. And Gingrich and Romney “are quickly coming to hate each other. So buckle up; this should be fun.” But better now then in the general election as there are a lot of issues around Romney that never got full viability before Newt. 

2. Florida is the new tiebreaker

Rick Santorum (belatedly) won Iowa, Romney won New Hampshire, and now Gingrich has taken South Carolina. That means Florida’s Jan. 31 primary “will almost certainly decide the nominee,” says Hugh Hewitt at National Review. The upcoming Florida “brawl” could well be “the pivotal moment of the campaign,” agrees Alexander Burns at Politico. With his money and organizational advantages, Romney starts out as the “muscular favorite” to win the Sunshine State, and he’ll need the victory to reassure his panicking backers. But Newt’s a good fit for Florida’s Tea Party–leaning GOP electorate, and if he can ride his wave of momentum to a win — the latest polls show Newt skyrocketing into the lead — Gingrich’s “back-from-the-dead candidacy could become a true juggernaut.”  Obviously a te breaker as the top 3 all had one wine each, but there is always Ron Paul’s outside chance to make it 4 winners in 4 primaries  (I am not counting Colbert or Herman Cain obviously) 

3. Santorum’s prospects look bleak

Newt didn’t just crush Romney in South Carolina. By dominating “the other not-Romney candidates, Gingrich took a big step toward consolidating that part of the electorate,” says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. Santorum’s 17 percent third-place showing is probably enough to keep his campaign alive through Florida, but if he “can’t catch either Romney or Gingrich in Florida his campaign becomes problematic.” With its large evangelical Christian vote, South Carolina “was Santorum’s best chance” to stay in the race, says William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection. If he doesn’t drop out, he’ll just “play the spoiler, continuing to split the conservative vote.”  YET he may win in a brokered convention or a floor fight if Romney and Newt both seem too damaged to win.

4. The GOP elite may panic and court a “white knight”

If Gingrich crushes Romney in Florida, “the Republican Establishment is going to have a meltdown that makes Three Mile Island look like a marshmallow roast,” says New York‘s Heilemann. Rather than risk Gingrich rolling over the more-electable Romney in other states, says Steve Kornacki at Salon, the panicking GOP elite might just try drafting a “white knight” candidate to swoop in and win late big-state primaries to at least stop Newt from winning outright. South Carolina already proved that the GOP base won’t accept a “milquetoast moderate from Massachusetts” like Romney,says Erick Erickson at RedState. So if the party leaders won’t accept Gingrich, they should force “a brokered convention and find someone acceptable to everyone.”. This is similar to how #3 ended.. and it MAY be the best case scenario for the GOP given the in fighting  in the party itself. 

5. The race is about to get really ugly

Despite its reputation for dirty politics, South Carolina “was, by historical standards, decidedly tame” this year, says The Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza. But things are “going to get real nasty, real quick” now. Romney has $19 million to spend on making sure Gingrich doesn’t win Florida, and his super PAC allies have millions more. If Gingrich can raise money off his South Carolina win, he “will respond in kind” and “fight Romney to the political death in Florida.” Bottom line: “If you hate negative campaigning, you may want to turn your television off for the next few weeks. Or maybe months.”. No matter what happens it has already and will continue to be until after the convention.

Is Santorum a Distraction for Gingrich??

He may not have much money or a ground game to speak of in Florida but Republican Rick Santorum will not pull out of the presidential race – much to the chagrin of rival Newt Gingrich and probably to the delight of a bruised Mitt Romney.

After Gingrich scored a resounding win in the South Carolina primary on Saturday, the former U.S. House of Representatives speaker badly wants to unite conservative and Tea Party elements of the Republican Party behind him ahead of Florida’s January 31 vote.

That would be easier to do if the socially conservative Santorum slipped away, especially in the face of a well-financed

Florida campaign by Romney. But Santorum vowed to keep his shoestring campaign alive as it heads to the country’s fourth most populous state after finishing third on Saturday.

“This is a long haul,” Santorum said early on Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

But the former Pennsylvania senator with a penchant for sweater vests has battled from the back of the pack to a surprise win in Iowa’s caucuses and a respectable 17 percent of the vote in South Carolina.

“A few weeks ago, this may have seemed implausible,” said Jack Glaser, a professor at University of California, Berkeley. “But with his showing in Iowa and Romney’s slide in South Carolina and with the very deep flaws and vulnerabilities in both Romney and Gingrich as candidates, it is not laughable.”

Moving on to Florida, Santorum picked up on attack lines he employed against his former congressional colleague last week. He called Gingrich “erratic” and “a very high-risk candidate” who is out of step with the many Republicans on Wall Street bailouts, health policy, immigration and global warming.

At a rally in Coral Springs on Sunday, Santorum laid claim to being “the real conservative – the (Ronald) Reagan model,” and said he was best placed to win what he termed “the states that matter” – 10 or 12 swing states, including Florida, that could be key to the November general election against Democratic President Barack Obama.

“His staying around is much to Romney’s delight and possibly Gingrich’s dismay. If Gingrich had his way, he would want Santorum out,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist.

“And Romney would say, ‘Oh, don’t leave the race so soon’ … It’s like Cold War politics: the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Santorum could be playing off the roller-coaster nature of the Gingrich campaign, which has been declared next to dead a few times since spring, as well as Romney’s stumbles going into the South Carolina vote.

“I think he might think he has a shot. He’s one (state) for three and so is everyone else except Ron Paul,” said Chris Galdieri, a political science professor at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Santorum is in third place in Florida with about 15 percent support, behind Romney at 40 percent and Gingrich at 22 percent, according to surveys aggregated by Real Clear Politics. Those polls were taken before the South Carolina vote.

Michael Phillips, Santorum’s state director for Florida, said the campaign had only two offices for now, in Sarasota and in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, but had “very engaged” volunteers.

A SHOT AT REDEMPTION

“He might not be able to raise money, he might not be lining up endorsements in Florida, but he’s probably holding out hope that if Romney has a couple more bad weeks, it’s better to be in the game than out of it,” Galdieri said.

“He’s probably thinking that Gingrich, even though he won South Carolina, is not acceptable as a nominee because of various things in his personal and political background. He might be thinking that if a bunch of dominoes fall in the right order, he could be the other alternative candidate to Romney.”

Santorum has been praised by some for recent performances in Republican debates, and with fewer candidates on the podium as the field has dwindled, his national exposure will only rise as the debates roll on.

The four Republicans still standing will debate on Monday in Tampa and Thursday in Jacksonville.

Four more debates are scheduled by mid-March, all of which could better position Santorum for whatever comes next.

“He’s angling for some political capital, whether it’s a Cabinet position or it’s a run for another office down the road,” O’Connell said. “All you need is a plane ticket to move to the next spot. So why get out when you can still be a factor in this?”

Speaking on CNN on Sunday, Santorum said he felt “absolutely no pressure” to drop out, adding that after the South Carolina vote, Romney was “no longer the inevitable candidate.”

“Our feeling is that this is a three-person race. The conservatives are polling better than Governor Romney is. The real conservative is yet to emerge and that’s me. We think we present the finest opportunity for conservatives to win,” Santorum said.

In Coral Springs, the small crowd warmed to Santorum’s message. “We feel he’s genuine, more personable – more for the common citizen than for corporations,” said Lydia Usategui, 57, a psychiatrist from Miami.

Galdieri said there was a redemptive element to Santorum’s campaign. The social conservative lost his 2006 Senate re-election bid by a crushing margin.

“Instead of being the guy who lost by 18 points in his own state, he can be the guy who made a credible run,” Galdieri said.

Poor Rick Santorum… I mean that Literally

Newt Gingrich has the momentum.Mitt Romney has the money.

Rick Santorum? He has neither at the moment.

Not that he’s going to let details like that stop him from pressing ahead in his White House quest. Or, for that matter, hurdles like scant cash in an expensive state and a rapidly disappearing opportunity to emerge as the consensus candidate of conservative voters now that Gingrich has emerged as the leading anti-Romney candidate.

“Our feeling is that this is a three-person race,” Santorum insisted on CNN’s “State of the Union.” He added that he felt “absolutely no pressure at all” to abandon his bid given Gingrich’s rise.

Still, Santorum acknowledged a hard road ahead in what he called “a tough state for everybody.”

“It’s very, very expensive. It’s a very short time frame,” he said.

The former Pennsylvania senator placed third in Saturday’s South Carolina primary.

Gingrich scored his first win, entering the Florida campaign with the political winds pushing the former House speaker from behind. Romney, who has raised mounds of cash, came in second and was ready to regroup with sophisticated political machines in the upcoming states, Florida included.

Underscoring Santorum’s challenges, he was taking a few days away from the campaign trail in Florida this week to restock his thin campaign bank accounts. He plans fundraisers in other states, leaving Gingrich and Romney with free rein in Florida, while he stops in states such as Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri. Money is a necessity in a state like Florida with numerous expensive media markets and where campaigns are usually won on TV.

That’s not a natural fit for Santorum, who has run his campaign on a shoestring and won the Iowa caucuses — albeit narrowly — by spending more than a year making house calls to voters and traveling the state in a pickup truck.

To make up ground and perhaps earn some free media, Santorum is going on the attack.

Standing in a strip mall’s parking lot here Sunday before heading to fundraising events, Santorum cast Romney as an inconsistent figure who would not be an effective foil to President Barack Obama’s re-election bid and argued that Gingrich was too “high risk” to be the Republican standard-bearer.

“Trust is a big issue in this election,” Santorum told several hundred people. “Who are you going to trust when the pressure is on, when we’re in that debate? It’s great to be glib, but it’s better to be principled.”

He also met privately Sunday with pastors and delivered a sermon at Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach, where he emphasized his conservatism. Santorum, who sprinkles his campaign speeches with his Catholic faith, is banking on evangelicals to coalesce around him over the thrice-married Gingrich or Romney, a Mormon.

“Can he win? Only God knows,” said David Babbin, a voter here who works at the nearby children’s hospital and likes Santorum. “But I believe in miracles.”

Still, he noted one of the candidate’s challenges: “Rick Santorum is one of us. And that’s his biggest flaw … We live in a society that is ‘American Idol’ and Rick Santorum is not like that.”

Santorum has other hurdles beyond what even admirers call his lack of charisma.

His tough talk on Social Security and Medicare — ending benefits for wealthier retirees, cutting payments to those who don’t need them — is going to dog him here in a state of 3.3 million seniors, or 17 percent of the population. AARP estimates that more than a third of those seniors would have incomes below the poverty line without Social Security and one in three seniors rely on Social Security as their sole source of income.

Santorum didn’t mention those proposals at his first public campaign event since the primary in South Carolina.

Gingrich Claims to be Best Contrast to Obama

Emboldened by his victory in South Carolina’s Republican primary, Newt Gingrich said Sunday his hardline conservative views and confrontational style will be needed by Republicans to fight President Barack Obama’s “billion-dollar war chest” and take back the White House.

In several televised interviews, the former speaker of the House of Representatives said rival Mitt Romney was a moderate who leftRepublican voters cold and that only he, Gingrich, could go “toe to toe” with Obama.

“I think in South Carolina it began to become really clear that if you want to beat Barack Obama, then Newt Gingrich is the only person who has the background, the experience and the ability to get on the stage and drive home a conservative message with authenticity,” he said.

Gingrich’s win in South Carolina has helped invigorate his once struggling campaign and cast fresh doubt on Romney’s ability to easily cinch the Republican nomination.

Returns from all the state’s precincts showed Gingrich with 40 percent of the vote to 28 percent for Romney. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum had 17 percent, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul 13 percent.

Next stop is Florida, where Gingrich and Romney will compete with Santorum in the Jan. 31 primary. Paul has said he was bypassing the state in favor of states like Maine, Minnesota, Nevada and Colorado with upcoming caucus contests where he stands a better chance of picking up delegates to the party’s national nominating convention.

Romney and his supporters are dismissing Gingrich’s win in South Carolina and say his nomination would be a disaster for the Republican Party, citing his rocky tenure leading House Republicans in the 1990s and allegations of ethics violations.

“I think Newt Gingrich has embarrassed the party, over time,” said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. “Whether he will do it again in the future, I don’t know. But Gov. Romney never has.”

Gingrich says his views on lower taxes, less government regulation and foreign policy put him in stark contrast to Obama and that the dynamics of a Gingrich-Obama fight are much more alluring to voters.

“I think Gov. Romney’s core problem was that he governs (as) a Massachusetts moderate, which by the standards of Republican primary voters is a liberal. And he can’t relax and be candid,” he said.

Gingrich spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union,” NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CBS “Face the Nation.” Christie spoke on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

January 22, 2012

Why Did Gingrich Triumph in an Evangelical State like South Carolina?

Why Did Gingrich Triumph in an Evangelical State like South Carolina?

 By Professor John A. Tures, LaGrange College 

COMMENTARY |

What confounds pundits about the South Carolina results is how a state where half of the voters sampled describe themselves as evangelical could pick Newt Gingrich, and by a large margin. It comes down to a simple fact: Most pundits don’t know anything about Evangelicals.

I have to admit that 10 years ago when I moved to a small Southern town from Washington, I didn’t know what an Evangelical really was either. Like many in the media, I treated it as some catch-all term for religious conservative. Clearly others have made that same blunder.

Not all Evangelicals are Christian, just as not all Christians are evangelical. The term comes from the four evangelists who wrote the Gospel, and it simply means one who spreads the good news.

There are liberal evangelicals, like the Rev. Jim Wallis, just as there are conservative evangelicals. There are also some moderate ones too.

Assuming all Evangelicals automatically religious zealots is like assuming the Sunnis are the more “hard core” Muslims or the Shiites are the real fanatics. You have liberal Sunnis and liberal Shiites, just as you have really dogmatic Sunnis and Shiites. Are Protestants more religiously conservative than Catholics, or vice versa? It depends on the person.

Regardless, how could a state regarded as so religious pick Newt Gingrich, just as news hit about his alleged “open marriage” proposal, along with his infidelity. Again, you have to understand Evangelicals.

As a National Public Radio commentator noted, Evangelicals, especially Southern ones, believe in redemption. They have to — how else could we be forgiven for our own sins? You hear the parable of the unforgiving servant down here a lot.

It explains why Mike Huckabee didn’t run for office, as he pardoned a number of criminals, including one who killed some cops in the Seattle area. It also accounts for Haley Barbour releasing so many before ending his term as Mississippi governor. Evangelicals are forgiving folks.

 In an interview years ago, Jimmy Carter sought to distinguish between an evangelical and a fundamentalist. “Fundamentalism exists in religious circles and now very overwhelmingly in Washington,” Carter said. “A fundamentalist believes, say, in religious circles, that I am close to God. Everything that I believe is absolutely right. Anyone who disagrees with me, in any case, is inherently wrong and therefore, inferior. And it violates my basic principles if I negotiate with anyone else or listen to their point of view or modify my own positions at all. So that is what has permeated this [Bush] administration.” That’s a smaller percentage of the state, and probably explains why Santorum finished a distant third.

Romney’s 21-point lead was always soft, and contingent upon being the most “electable” candidate, even if his views don’t match that of the voter. He finished a close second in Iowa and won New Hampshire because he hadn’t made mistakes. Now that he’s made blunders, folks figure it is better to pick someone who shares their conservative opinion rather than the one who looks less electable than he did a few weeks ago. In other words, South Carolina voters went with their religious “beliefs.” We just didn’t understand what those were.

Is Newt Gingrich Mentally ILL? Lee Siegal of The Daily Beast Thinks So.,

Newt’s Delusions of Grandeur

The Daily BeastBy Lee Siegel | The Daily Beast – Fri, Jan 20, 2012

Hypocrisy is one thing. Mental illness is another.

Watching Newt Gingrich excoriate the media for making his personal life an issue in Thursday’s presidential debate, you realized that he wasn’t merely guilty of not practicing what he preaches. The real issue isn’t that Gingrich has done things that he castigates others for doing. The real, disturbing issue is what seems to be his deeply embedded pattern of finding his own sordid nature in other people, and then mercilessly persecuting them.

“Projection” is a psychological commonplace. The person suffering from depression will find depression everywhere. The person in the grip of lust will see randiness in everyone he meets. And on and on. We all see, in one degree or another, the world in terms of our own condition. Our sanity depends upon the degree.

Borderline personality, clinical narcissist, megalomaniac, sociopath—however you want to characterize Newt Gingrich, he clearly has difficulty distinguishing his own reality from that of other people. The man who cheated on his first wife as she lay in a hospital bed with cancer proclaimed in 1992, just as the Democratic National Convention was taking place, “Woody Allen having non-incest with a non-daughter to whom he was a non-father because they were a non-family fits the Democratic platform perfectly.” The man who then went on to cheat on his second wife compared Democrats, two years later, to Susan Smith: “I think that the mother killing the two children in South Carolina vividly reminds every American how sick the society is getting and how much we need to change things. The only way you get change is to vote Republican.”

The man who brought down Democratic House Speaker Jim Wright on ethics charges in 1988 for an improper book deal himself used political funds to promote the sale of his own book.  As House Speaker, Gingrich had 84 ethics charges filed against him. And this compulsive philanderer and morally challenged legislator routinely accuses American teenagers of immorality and poor blacks of lax moral natures.

If all this were only hypocrisy, Gingrich might legitimately expect voters to shrug off his lapses of decency and humanity. As he thundered to the debate audience sitting inside the Charleston arena Thursday night (a pathetic tin parody of Joe Welch’s “Have you no sense of decency?”), “Every person in here knows personal pain.” Because of the law of projection, we often stumble privately and then try to restore our sense of moral dignity by harping on precisely the same deficiencies in other people. As petty and sometimes mean-spirited as that may be, it is a run-of-the-mill hypocrisy. It is simply a psychological convenience for getting through life.

But hypocrisy becomes mental illness when we seek to punish people for our own tendency to hurt other people. When Gingrich treats his wives worse than chattel and then turns around and attempts to demonize others for what he declares are their hurtful moral missteps; when his projections have the potential to cause harmful concrete consequences—that is a diseased relationship with the world that puts him on a par with every tyrant who ever wreaked his damaged personality on the society he governed.

Perhaps Gingrich’s sickness—what Santorum nicely called that “worrisome moment” in Gingrich—is what led him to commit political suicide in 1996. That was when he blamed his obduracy during the government shutdown over the budget on being snubbed by Clinton on a flight to Israel. People who cannot separate themselves from the reality around them go berserk when that reality turns and bites.

But, then, lacking a solid core, projectors like Gingrich secretly lust after the identities of the people they persecute. Gingrich lashed out at Clinton for the latter’s moral trespasses during the Lewinsky scandal, but he had long fancied himself Clinton’s legislative soulmate, as the two worked on making Social Security and Medicare solvent. His fury at Clinton seemed to be fueled by a desperate desire to inhabit Clinton’s charm, his intellect, his “vision thing,” his grandness. The echo of Clinton’s “I feel your pain” was unmistakable in Gingrich’s “Every person in here knows pain.”

Clinton was, however, at his worst, a wily rogue. Gingrich is the projector/persecutor so proud of his “grandiosity” who has replaced human relations with abstract ideas, and whose sagging posture and enervated demeanor seem propped up by spitefulness and revenge. This Gingrich is no slick rogue. He is, to bluntly state the ugly fact of the matter, a very sick man.

Disappointing Outcome to the South Carolina Primary By F.Jason Whitaker

Disappointing Outcome to the South Carolina Primary

Yahoo! Contributor Network

 By F.Jason Whitaker

COMMENTARY | It was a soggy day in South Carolina as voters ventured out resulting in an outcome that some found as a surprise. I knew before the results were announced that Newt Gingrich would win the primary.

I voted for Ron Paul, though I knew that a majority of voters would lean toward Gingrich. The reasoning is he is the one who can beat Barack Obama. I voted based on the fact Paul is the candidate we need as our next president.

I was hopeful the results would turn out differently, but Gingrich winning was not a surprise to me. Some people could throw out the terms: “moderate” or conservative.” There are many words tossed around during an election year.

There are even slogans created to make you want to vote for a particular person. “Make America Great” and other slogans are often used in ads but what do they really say about the candidate. That was not a question, because the truth is they don’t say much about anything.

The fact elections are often not decided based upon the issues but a barrage of attacks and lies. We are told all of the things that they will do when elected, we are told what the others will do when they are elected, we are told about how great they are and how bad the others are, but does this really say anything about how they will run the country.

The fact is not everything promised is doable and not everything promised will be kept. Paul is the person I voted for. Maybe he is not the best person to be president, but of those running on the GOP ticket he is the best person to be president.

The budget needs to be cut. There needs to be something done to create new, permanent, jobs. The health care system needs improving. There needs to be an end to corporate greed deciding how this country is run. We need change. Change is not easy, but it needs to take place.

I am very concerned about the upcoming presidential election. If there could be an honest approach to the election I would feel more confident. Paul is the one who has appeared to be the most truthful of the candidates. That is why I voted for Paul and why I am disappointed in the outcome of the South Carolina Republican primary.

Gingrich Pierces Romney Veil of Electability. Questions arise.

Newt Gingrich didn’t just beat Mitt Romney in Saturday’s South Carolina primary, the former House speaker kicked away one of the main pillars of his rival’s election campaign.

Exit polling data shows Gingrich convinced voters he would be the toughest Republican opponent against President Barack Obama in the November general election.

Electability – Republican campaign-speak for a candidate’s ability to beat Obama – had been one of Romney’s top selling points until Saturday.

Conventional wisdom was that the former Massachusetts governor’s emphasis on jobs and the economy and his perceived appeal to independents would help him against Gingrich, who is often seen as erratic and divisive.

But Gingrich’s combative style in debates resonated with voters keen for a heavyweight debater to take on Obama, who is grudgingly respected by Republicans as a formidable campaigner.

This may also be helping Gingrich’s message on the economy gain traction, exit polling data showed.

South Carolina’s Republicans rated the ability to beat Obama as a candidate’s most important quality, an exit poll on CNN showed.

Forty-five percent of voters said that was the main attribute they sought in a nominee. Of that group, 51 percent voted for Gingrich compared to 37 percent for Romney.

Twenty-one percent of South Carolina voters said the quality that mattered most to them in their candidate was that he had the right experience.

“It is electability, and that is measured in your ability to effectively debate and prosecute your case against Obama,” said Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak.

Exit polls also showed that for 63 percent of South Carolina voters the most important issue was the economy. Gingrich won this group by a margin of eight percentage points over Romney.

The attraction of Gingrich as an anti-Obama candidate may be the factor that increased his ratings on other issues like the economy, Mackowiak said.

Attacks on Obama in recent weeks, including dubbing him “a foodstamp president,” endeared Gingrich to voters in a state with unemployment of almost 10 percent.

OLD TIMER WITH EXPERIENCE

“He is an old timer with a lot of political experience. He’s the only one who can beat Obama,” said Jim Walters, a retired marine owner in the town of Aiken.

Gingrich slammed Obama as “truly a danger to the country” in his South Carolina victory speech and promised to bring down Obama in a series of long debates.

A master of the sharp turn of phrase who talks in big broad sweeps, the former House speaker was the clear star of the more than 20 Republican debates in recent months.

He left Romney floundering, particularly during two televised contests in South Carolina this week where the millionaire former executive stumbled over questions about his personal finances.

Republican voters in South Carolina, a conservative state with a taste for rough and tumble politics, lapped it up.

“I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that people really want to see Newt debate Obama,” Mackowiak said.

“It reminds me of gladiators. You see an amazing gladiator have a string of victories in the middle of the Coliseum so you really want to see him go up against the biggest, baddest gladiator there is.”

In a sign that Gingrich’s well-documented marital infidelities might have created a problem with female voters, exit polls showed Gingrich held an advantage over Romney of 16 points among men but only 9 points among women.

Republican 4 Go On To Florida to Fight Another Day

After a bruising clash in South Carolina, Republican presidential frontrunners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich will take their battle to a bigger stage when the campaign moves to Florida on Sunday.

Gingrich, a former U.S. House of Representatives speaker, thrashed Romney in the South Carolina primary on Saturday, suggesting the race for their party’s nomination and the right to face President Barack Obama in November may last months more.

The largest of the early voting states by far, Florida presents logistical and financial challenges that appear to give an advantage to Romney’s well-funded campaign machine.

But Gingrich has momentum after coming from behind in South Carolina to win around 40 percent of the vote, followed by Romney with 28 percent. Rick Santorum, a former U.S. senator, was in third with 17 percent and U.S. congressman Ron Paul in fourth with 13 percent.

“We proved here in South Carolina that people … with the right ideas beats big money,” Gingrich told supporters after his victory in the conservative state.

After strong performances in a series of debates, Gingrich was seen by South Carolina voters as the most likely Republican to beat Obama, a Democrat, in the November 6 election.

They also rejected millionaire former businessman Romney’s pitch that he is the best bet to fix a broken U.S. economy and win the White House.

Romney and Gingrich, who have attacked each other mercilessly in a series of negative television ads since December, face off in a debate in Tampa, Florida, on Monday night.

ROMNEY TAX SOLUTION?

Romney has stumbled over questions about his personal finances in recent debates and acknowledged last week that he only pays a 15 percent tax rate, much lower than that of most working Americans.

The former Massachusetts governor has so far resisted calls from rivals, and even ally New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, to release his tax returns.

To try to put the tax return controversy behind him, the Romney campaign has a plan to settle the issue next week, a Republican official said.

That is part of a strategy to be more aggressive against Gingrich, a formidable debater who nevertheless has personal and professional baggage that the Romney team could exploit. Romney accuses Gingrich of being a Washington insider.

“The choice within our party has also come into stark focus. President Obama has no experience running a business and no experience running a state. Our party can’t be lead to victory by someone who also has never run a business and never run a state,” Romney said on Saturday.

Romney saw his aura of inevitability erode in South Carolina after leading opinion polls by 10 percentage points a week ago.

In Florida, he leads Gingrich by 40.5 percent to 22 percent, according to a poll of polls by RealClearPolitics.com. Santorum, a social conservative who is from Pennsylvania, is third with 15 percent.

Campaigns must spend at least $1 million each week to reach voters in the sprawling southern state, according to local political officials. Romney’s allies have already spent $5 million, mostly on ads attacking Gingrich. No other candidate has a significant presence in the state.

 

Romney’s South Carolina Loss Shows Weakness in November

Echoing a worn adage, Mitt Romney said on Saturday night after conceding defeat to Newt Gingrich in the South Carolina primary that a longer, more competitive battle for the Republican presidential nomination would only make him stronger.

“I don’t shrink from competition. I embrace it. I believe competition makes us all better,” Romney told supporters.

That’s a standard talking point from a frontrunner who hasn’t yet locked up the nomination. But in fact, the weaknesses exposed in Romney’s candidacy by the South Carolina results and, perhaps more important, in the days leading up to the primary, are cause for concern among Republicans, including some of Romney’s own supporters.

More than one-third of South Carolina primary voters identified themselves as very conservative, according to exit polls conducted on behalf of the television networks and the Associated Press. Mitt Romney won only 20 percent of their votes, compared to Newt Gingrich’s 45 percent.

Among the 60 percent of the electorate who are evangelical Christians, Romney was able to grab roughly 20 percent of the vote, while Gingrich captured 40 percent.

These groups of voters are part of the core of the Republican Party. But it’s clear that Romney, still the favorite for the party’s 2012 presidential nomination, could enter the general election campaign without the full embrace of his party’s base. That does not put him the position he needs to occupy in order to woo independent voters in the middle of the ideological spectrum.

The soft support among the Republican base is of less concern to Romney’s high command than the narrative beginning to take shape around him–a storyline being fed by both the Obama and Gingrich campaigns. It paints Romney as a wealthy corporate raider who is out of touch with the economic reality faced by most Americans.

Team Romney is convinced, with historic trends and current data to back it up, that the antipathy toward Obama among Republicans will be sufficient to rally the party faithful around Romney in the fall. Anti-Obama energy, however, will not solve Romney’s inability to put his income tax issue to bed or to break the perception that he struggles to connect with the needs of middle-class families.

The Romney campaign is quick to point out that winning campaigns are those that survive tests like this. That’s true. A presidential nomination is never handed to the frontrunner without him (or someday her) being knocked back on his heels once or twice.

But there is a substantial difference between what’s happening with Romney and the challenges that Barack Obama and George W. Bush faced. When Obama emerged from a long and bruising battle with Hillary Clinton, he did so looking like a dragon slayer. And the body blow that George W. Bush took from John McCain came from the center, and allowed Bush to shore up his strength with the Republican base.

Yes, if Romney emerges as the Republican nominee, he will appear as a winner who overcame significant challenges. And an elongated nomination fight may improve his ability to take a punch. But those strengths will come at the expense of exposing not only Romney’s soft support among evangelical Christians and very conservative voters, but also the concern among donors and establishment figures in the party that he is being defined by not by himself and his team, but by his opponents.

January 21, 2012

Bad Day of Rain Fitting ending to a BAD week for Romney

The scene at Harmon Tree Farm didn’t feel like the usual Mitt Romney rally. Situated next to an old barn dressed up with a large American flag, there was a live band performing old AC/DC classics, including “You Shook Me All Night Long,” prompting supporters to hoot and dance.

“Shake it girl!” the band’s frontwoman called out to a wildly dancing lady in the audience at one point.

Just before Romney’s campaign bus pulled up, the torrential rain began. Some people ran for cover, to their cars and to a nearby building, while others simply stood in the rain shielding themselves with blue and white Romney for President signs.

As Romney disembarked from his bus to his now familiar entrance song—”Born Free” by Kid Rock—an aide tried to shield the candidate from the pouring rain, but he pushed forward, shaking hands and waving at supporters as he took the stage in the pouring rain.

After an introduction by Nikki Haley, the South Carolina governor whose dark hair was soon sopping wet, Romney took the microphone, his face glistening with moisture but his slick hair unmussed.

“Wow! Pull out the umbrellas,” Romney declared, eying the dark skies.

Motioning to folks who were waving his campaign signs, he said, “Use those signs for what they were made for: To keep your head dry!”

“My oh my,” he bellowed, as the rain poured.

On any other day, Romney’s campaign might have tried to move his rally elsewhere. But the image of the candidate stumping in the rain for every last vote wasn’t so bad for a campaign now worried that Saturday’s pivotal primary here won’t go their way.

Romney stood on stage for nearly 15 minutes and shook hands along the soaked rope line for another 20 minutes more. His aides and closest supporters looked on, at least one admitting some anxiety about Romney’s standing among voters here on primary eve.

“I feel good,” Nathan Ballentine, a Republican state representative and one of Romney’s early supporters in the state, told Yahoo News. “But it’s going to be close… It was always going to be close.”

There has been a change in the air around the Romney campaign in recent days. When Romney arrived in the state 10 days ago, he was coming off his victory in New Hampshire and what was then a win in Iowa. On the stump today, he acknowledged for the first time that he had suffered a “slim defeat” in the Hawkeye State—a notable admission given his campaign refused to describe his phone call to Rick Santorum on Thursday about Iowa’s election results as a “concession.”

Stuart Stevens, a Romney adviser, told reporters Thursday that the campaign had always viewed South Carolina as a tough race—noting that Romney had placed fourth here four years ago. He said he expected the primary go well beyond Florida, where he added that Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were also waging “tough” campaigns.

In Gilbert, Romney also seemed to join in setting expectations for Saturday’s election, emphasizing to reporters that he came to the state with the odds stacked against him.

“I had a lot of ground to make up …  Speaker Gingrich is from a neighboring state, well-known, popular in the state, so I knew we’d have a long road ahead of us, and frankly to be in a neck-and-neck race at this last moment is kind of exciting,” Romney said. “I think I said from the very beginning South Carolina is an uphill battle for us.”

The candidate added that even if he doesn’t finish first in Saturday’s primary, he expects to walk away with “a lot of delegates.”

“We have a long process ahead of us,” he said.

As the South Carolina Voting Comes to a Close … Some Thoughts

 In the 11 days since Mitt Romney tried unsuccessfully to leave the rest of the GOP field behind in New Hampshire, the presidential race has served up a scattershot cast of angels and demons as the candidates try to strike a chord with different slices of the electorate.

Capitalism was in, then out, then in again. Insurance companies got a sideways sympathetic nod. Mike Huckabee and Betty Whiteproved to have some cachet. The press was an ever-popular whipping child.

Europe and entitlements, felons, food stamps and French: All were on the outs with one candidate or another.

Newt Gingrich even ran an ad faulting Romney for his language skills: “Just like John Kerry, he speaks French,” it warned ominously.

The GOP challengers went after Romney’s venture capitalist credentials with a vengeance — most memorably when Texas Gov. Rick Perry rebranded him a “vulture capitalist” — then eased up somewhat when they caught grief from the defenders of free enterprise.

For a little while, even insurance companies — typically a popular target for politicians of any stripe — got a little love after Romney said he liked the idea of being able to fire them for poor performance. The other candidates summoned a chorus of outrage at the notion that Romney would relish firing anyone.

Republican strategist Terry Holt said it all adds up to “a blizzard of buzz words” as candidates try to deliver a headline-grabbing quote that will get people’s attention.

But does it work?

“Ultimately, it all blends together into a general sense of the candidate,” says Holt. “The back-and-forth is lost on most people.”

And there’s been a lot of back-and-forthing.

Romney and Gingrich both ran ads trying to claim a little luster from popular conservative Huckabee by rolling out nice things he’d said about them. But it turned out Huckabee hadn’t endorsed either of them, and both got a scolding from the former Arkansas governor.

President Barack Obama, watching the GOP race from the sidelines, had to be hoping that a little of Betty White’s uncanny popularity would rub off when he taped a video piece for her 90th birthday in which he joked that the actress looks so good she should cough up her long-form birth certificate to prove she’s really that old.

The GOP candidates trotted out plenty of reliable enemies — “Obamacare,” federal regulations, big government, the Dodd-Frank financial regulations — but added some new ones to the mix as well.

Gingrich, catering to South Carolina sensibilities and its port communities, singled out the Army Corps of Engineers, complaining in Thursday’s debate that the corps “takes eight years to study — not to complete — to study doing the port. We won the entire Second World War in three years and eight months.”

Candidates’ messages zig-zagged all over in search of a winning line that would work with voters.

Earning money was good — except if your name was Mitt Romney.

A super PAC supporting Gingrich made a half-hour movie attacking Romney for reaping “massive rewards for himself and his investors,” complete with sinister music and a baritone-voice narrator.

Romney defended his capitalist credentials by lining himself up with the philosopher known as a father of capitalism, proudly announcing, “Adam Smith was right.”

Perry managed to turn the news that U.S. troops had apparently been captured on video urinating on corpses in Afghanistan into an indictment of the Obama administration. The Texas governor accused the Obama team of piling on against “kids” who sometimes make “stupid mistakes.”

It didn’t do him much good: He was out of the race within days.

Then came the issue of infidelity: Gingrich chose not to comment on the details of his marriage to his second wife after she claimed that he’d asked her for an “open marriage” in which he could have both a wife and a mistress.

Gingrich managed to steer that conversation to the one enemy that all the candidates love to beat up on: the media.

“I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country,” he declared.

But even rival Rick Santorum saw through the tactic, urging voters not to be swept away by Gingrich’s blast at the press.

Republicans should “get past the glib one-liners, the beating up of the media, which is always popular with conservatives,” Santorum said.

Democratic strategist Karen Finney said the Republicans’ random list of friends and foes has emerged as candidates “try to pick off pieces of the Republican electorate” with very targeted appeals that will add up to an overall win in each primary or caucus state.

“The narrative is shifting based on the audiences they’re speaking to,” she said.

“There’s always, ‘Who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy,'” she said.

In this campaign, that lineup changes every day.

Segmenting the Demographics of the Electorate

Sounds like a fancy title I put on this post I guess .. but all of the candidates have been pandering to the audiences they are in front of  even in debates…. Alienating some segments to gain others and  finding a growing list of foes as the time drags on. The slipper slope of verbal politics and saying later “OHH, that s NOT what I meant when I said….”  

Yea … right.. and I have a bridge in Brooklyn New York That I can sell you at a great price….. 

In the 11 days since Mitt Romney tried unsuccessfully to leave the rest of the GOP field behind in New Hampshire, the presidential race has served up a scattershot cast of angels and demons as the candidates try to strike a chord with different slices of the electorate.

Capitalism was in, then out, then in again. Insurance companies got a sideways sympathetic nod. Mike Huckabee and Betty Whiteproved to have some cachet. The press was an ever-popular whipping child.

Europe and entitlements, felons, food stamps and French: All were on the outs with one candidate or another.

Newt Gingrich even ran an ad faulting Romney for his language skills: “Just like John Kerry, he speaks French,” it warned ominously.

The GOP challengers went after Romney’s venture capitalist credentials with a vengeance — most memorably when Texas Gov. Rick Perry rebranded him a “vulture capitalist” — then eased up somewhat when they caught grief from the defenders of free enterprise.

For a little while, even insurance companies — typically a popular target for politicians of any stripe — got a little love after Romney said he liked the idea of being able to fire them for poor performance. The other candidates summoned a chorus of outrage at the notion that Romney would relish firing anyone.

Republican strategist Terry Holt said it all adds up to “a blizzard of buzz words” as candidates try to deliver a headline-grabbing quote that will get people’s attention.

But does it work?

“Ultimately, it all blends together into a general sense of the candidate,” says Holt. “The back-and-forth is lost on most people.”

And there’s been a lot of back-and-forthing.

Romney and Gingrich both ran ads trying to claim a little luster from popular conservative Huckabee by rolling out nice things he’d said about them. But it turned out Huckabee hadn’t endorsed either of them, and both got a scolding from the former Arkansas governor.

President Barack Obama, watching the GOP race from the sidelines, had to be hoping that a little of Betty White’s uncanny popularity would rub off when he taped a video piece for her 90th birthday in which he joked that the actress looks so good she should cough up her long-form birth certificate to prove she’s really that old.

The GOP candidates trotted out plenty of reliable enemies — “Obamacare,” federal regulations, big government, the Dodd-Frank financial regulations — but added some new ones to the mix as well.

Gingrich, catering to South Carolina sensibilities and its port communities, singled out the Army Corps of Engineers, complaining in Thursday’s debate that the corps “takes eight years to study — not to complete — to study doing the port. We won the entire Second World War in three years and eight months.”

Candidates’ messages zig-zagged all over in search of a winning line that would work with voters.

Earning money was good — except if your name was Mitt Romney.

A super PAC supporting Gingrich made a half-hour movie attacking Romney for reaping “massive rewards for himself and his investors,” complete with sinister music and a baritone-voice narrator.

Romney defended his capitalist credentials by lining himself up with the philosopher known as a father of capitalism, proudly announcing, “Adam Smith was right.”

Then there are the Evangelical Christians who are furious even some Christians accept the idea  and give some credence that Mormons claim to be Christians… saying… “God and Jesus are not separate physical beings. That would be anathema. At the end of the day, all the other stuff doesn’t matter except the divinity of Jesus.”

Perry managed to turn the news that U.S. troops had apparently been captured on video urinating on corpses in Afghanistan into an indictment of the Obama administration. The Texas governor accused the Obama team of piling on against “kids” who sometimes make “stupid mistakes.”

It didn’t do him much good: He was out of the race within days.

Then came the issue of infidelity: Gingrich chose not to comment on the details of his marriage to his second wife after she claimed that he’d asked her for an “open marriage” in which he could have both a wife and a mistress.

Gingrich managed to steer that conversation to the one enemy that all the candidates love to beat up on: the media.

“I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country,” he declared.

But even rival Rick Santorum saw through the tactic, urging voters not to be swept away by Gingrich’s blast at the press.

Republicans should “get past the glib one-liners, the beating up of the media, which is always popular with conservatives,” Santorum said.

Democratic strategist Karen Finney said the Republicans’ random list of friends and foes has emerged as candidates “try to pick off pieces of the Republican electorate” with very targeted appeals that will add up to an overall win in each primary or caucus state.

“The narrative is shifting based on the audiences they’re speaking to,” she said.

“There’s always, ‘Who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy,'” she said.

In this campaign, that lineup changes every day.

 


Why Evangelicals Oppose Mormons: Word Games and Fear

COMMENTARY | It is clear that there is bad blood between evangelicals and Mormons, at least from the evangelical side of the street. Mormons say they are Christians; evangelicals say that Mormons are not Christians, as demonstrated by a recent Pew Forum study, and there has been a prominent movement among evangelical leaders to find an alternative to Mitt Romney as theRepublican presidential candidate. Indeed, this past fall, a prominent evangelical pastor who backed then-candidate Rick Perry famously proclaimed that the Mormon faith is a cult.

What is up here? Why is there so much opposition from the evangelicals against the Mormons –and not against some other non-evangelical faiths? (Disclosure: I am a practicing Mormon, although I will not be voting for fellow Mormon Mitt Romney’s party’s candidate in the fall.)

First of all, it is important to understand that Mormons and evangelicals mean very different things when each group labels someone as a “Christian.” For Latter-day Saints, popularly called Mormons, a Christian is someone who believes that Christ is the Son of God, the Messiah and Savior of the world-which is precisely what Mormons believe about Jesus Christ. That’s basically it.

Mormons understand that different people will understand the Bible-and what it teaches about Christ-in different ways. Although Mormons are famous for their missionary work-this writer’s son is currently serving as an LDS missionary in the Baltic States at this very moment-they recognize that different people will believe different things and still be Christian.

On the other hand, evangelical Christians apply a much more narrow definition to the term “Christian.” If someone teaches something that evangelicals widely consider to be “unbiblical,” then that person is not a Christian for the evangelicals. Of course, this approach begs the questions, “What exactly is ‘biblical’? What exactly does the Bible teach?” These are questions about which learned and well-meaning individuals have argued for many centuries. Beyond the well-intentioned, these are also questions about which outright wars have been fought, again, for centuries. There simply is not broad agreement on these issues-yet, if one does not believe as the evangelical Christians do, then to them, that person is not a Christian.

It is this kind of reasoning that allows some evangelicals to claim that Catholics-along with a full one-quarter of the American population-are involved in an unchristian cult.

Secondly, there is an unspoken numbers issue here. The National Council of Churches Yearbook for 2011 reports that, during 2009, the Latter-day Saints in the United States grew in number by 1.42 percent, while the Southern Baptist Convention (which counts many evangelicals among its members) dropped 0.42 percent in membership over the same period. In this context, it would be reasonable to think that evangelicals actually fear losing ground to Mormonism.

So why don’t the evangelicals pick on Roman Catholic seekers after the presidential nomination? It should be noted that, according to the same NCC Yearbook, that there are over 68.5 million Roman Catholics in the United States, far larger than any other Christian church, and certainly far larger than the Southern Baptist Convention, at 16.2 million members. Thus, publicly picking fights with Catholic candidates is now a losing strategy in the U.S.

All of this is monumentally un-American. Article VI of the U.S. Constitution forbids the government to impose a religious test as a qualification for office. This is a good policy for ordinary citizens, as well.

January 1, 2012

The Republican Party Destroyed Itself for 2012 Elections

Happy New Year, and welcome to 2012!

I love each new year because it is a time of renewal and optimism, and I enjoy speculating about our future. The big story in 2012 will be the presidential election, and optimism is something I do not have.

So let’s just jump right in.

Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee. I like this guy. He is Obama light, which might be a good thing for our country. He is smart, well educated, a successful businessman who knows the investment side of the economy. He was a conservative governor of Massachusetts, a liberal state, to say the least. I am familiar with his background and his father, George Romney.

George Romney was chairman and CEO of American Motors Corp. back when there was a Big Four of American auto makers. He went on to be a successful two-term governor of Michigan and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Mitt Romney comes from good stock and, as they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I could live with Romney as my president. Unfortunately, he can’t get elected because factions of his own party won’t support him. That’s too bad. And As I blogged earlier, Mitt is Mormon and Americans are too bigoted to readily accept a Mormon

Barring some scandal of major proportion or a national disaster he cannot control and flubs the response, President Barack Obama will be re-elected in November. And I can live with him as my president.

Romney will lose because his party has shot itself in the foot by backing the tea party movement and other radical right-wing efforts. The tea party now owns the Republican Party. The problem is that mainstream Americans and independent voters simply do not identify with these radical beliefs. Look at the success of Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, right-wing extremists all. They make for good theater, but, trust me, thoughtful Americans don’t want anything to do with any of them running the country.

The other thing the Republican Party has done is to willfully damage and hold back the American economy as a way to oust Obama. That is just this side of treason, and befitting a Shakespeare tragedy. The party has no one to blame but itself for this predicament. Opportunists egged on the tea party and other right-wing radicals when it could have rejected them. Now it has to live and die with them.

Sadly, I do not see political moderation in our immediate future. Republicans spent the last four years undermining Obama, rather than working with him for the good of the country. I expect them to continue down this dead-end path after he is re-elected.

The majority of Americans are frustrated and angry, and that applies to moderates in both political parties and to independents. They want action, not ideology. They see gray, not black and white. They would rather leave issues such as abortion and gay rights to individuals to ferret out for themselves. They are frustrated by the growing gap between the super wealthy and average working Americans. They are worried about the future of health care and programs such as Social Security and Medicare. They are hungry for answers from competent leaders who put the nation’s wellbeing before their own or that of their political party.

Look around you. What do you see? Your family, your friends and your neighbors just want to get on with their lives. They are America’s realists. I believe they are willing to sacrifice to solve our nation’s problems, if only someone will speak to them in language they can understand and agree with. Our nation has done this before, and with great success. Surely we can do it again.

If you want to get your new year off to a good start. I suggest reading “That Used To Be Us” by Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum. It is a sensible book that will help you face the facts, understand the challenges we face, and give you an optimistic view of how we can solve our nation’s problems. It’s time to replace nonsense with common sense.

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