Craig Eisele on …..

March 4, 2012

Latest Reason to Be Against Romney… Eric Cantor

Yes it is True…. Eric Cantor…. one of the main people who have helped destroy my Republican Party has endorsed Mitt Romney on Meet The Press this morning…. and then he went on to do the  thing he does best that makes independents go against republicans and that is the HARD LINE RADICAL RIGHT WING rhetoric he is known for.. and the promulgation of lies and misinformation….IT HAS TO STOP!!!!

DAMN IT..  I WANT MY REPUBLICAN PARTY BACK .. the one that had values and principles and  knew  what it was the american public wanted and needed and was willing to work to  make it happen…

February 23, 2012

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.

Romney Continues to Bring Yawns to GOP aka BORING

If Mitt Romney wins the Republican nomination for president, he’ll face the urgent task of inspiring the party’s conservative core and rallying them to beat President Barack Obama.

Judging by his performances in the primaries and caucuses so far, and the challenge he faces next week, he’s got his work cut out for him.

Even Republicans who think he’ll be the nominee worry about whether he can generate the intensity required to beat the Democratic incumbent.

These party leaders and activists, from the states voting Feb. 28 and the most contested ones ahead in the fall, say Romney has made strides toward addressing this problem. But, they say, he needs to do more to convince the Republican base that he’s running to fundamentally reverse the nation’s course, not simply manage what they see as the federal government’s mess.

“I think Romney will be the nominee, but there is still tremendous work to be done,” said Sally Bradshaw, a Florida Republican and adviser to former Gov. Jeb Bush. “He has got to find a way to unify the party and increase the intensity of support for him among voters who have supported Newt Gingrich, or Rick Santorum or Ron Paul or someone else. And that is going to be the key to how he does in the fall.”

Romney leads in the delegate count for the nomination, and by a wide margin in private polling ahead of the Arizona primary Feb. 28. But the rising challenge from former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in the contest also that day in Michigan, where Romney was born and raised, underscores doubts about Romney’s ability to ignite fervor in the GOP base.

He nearly tied Santorum in Iowa, although entrance polls showed that more of Santorum’s backers than Romney’s said they were strongly behind their chosen candidate.

Romney lost the primary in South Carolina last month to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. More of Romney’s supporters in that state said they would support him with reservations in the general election than would support him enthusiastically.

Santorum swept caucuses Feb. 7 in Colorado and Minnesota, and the nonbinding Missouri primary.

Romney’s challengers have risen by sounding more conservative and displaying sharper differences with Obama, while nipping Romney’s appeal as the most electable against Obama.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor with a moderate past, has campaigned more as the likely GOP nominee, portraying himself as acceptable to swing voters in a race where polls show voters prizing most a candidate’s perceived ability to beat Obama.

Romney has pivoted toward the GOP’s conservative base in light of Santorum’s surge.

He dove into the debate over whether birth control ought to be covered by health insurance provided by church-backed employers by faulting the Obama administration’s original push to do so as an “assault on religion.” But Romney was accused of overreaching after recently telling influential conservative activists, “I was a severely conservative Republican governor.”

“In Romney’s case it’s like the difference between someone who grew up speaking Spanish and someone who went to school to speak Spanish,” said Constantin Querard, an Arizona Republican operative. “The moment Romney starts speaking, people know the difference.”

A Pew Research poll taken last week shows the Republican voters nationally who think Romney is a strong conservative has dipped to 42 percent from 53 percent in November.

Romney’s campaign aides say it’s unrealistic to think conservatives staring at the possibility of a second Obama term will not unify behind Romney. “President Obama is the best unifier the Republican Party could ever hope for,” Romney’s political director, Rich Beeson, told The Associated Press.

The campaign points to recent conservative opinion leaders who have signed on to his campaign, and his support from popular rising conservative figures such as South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as evidence of Romney’s newfound buzz.

Michigan Republican Holly Hughes, who supported Arizona Sen. John McCain in the 2008 primary, said Romney is more passionate than during his failed bid that year.

“He’s a different candidate than he was four years ago,” said Hughes, a Republican national committeewoman from Muskegon County. “There wasn’t the excitement there.”

Hughes and others also point to Romney’s winning the straw poll at the recent Conservative Political Action Convention in Washington, which attracted thousands of the nation’s most ardent conservative activists.

Yet Michigan GOP consultant Tom Shields said Santorum, now ahead of Romney in polls Romney’s native state and where his father served as governor, is exciting people where Romney isn’t.

Establishment Republican figures are lining up behind Romney in Michigan, including Gov. Rick Snyder. But in 2000, Gov. John Engler promised to deliver the state as George W. Bush’s firewall; McCain won the primary that year.

“For whatever reason, Romney’s not objectionable. But people just haven’t fully warmed up to him,” said Shields, who conducts public opinion polling in Michigan. “They’ve just refused to take the next step and marry the guy.”

It foretells problems assuring the die-hard GOP activists will be lining up in November, when their phone-banking and door-knocking could make the difference in a close election against an Obama re-election campaign projected to have $1 billion to spend.

“I voted for him. I don’t want to screw around because he’s who we’re going to end up with,” said former Arizona GOP Chairman Mike Hellon, referring to his absentee primary vote for Romney. “But I talk to people who are generally reluctant to pull the trigger for him. More than anything else, that’s’ a problem of intensity which could be a problem in the fall.”

Romney could spice things up with his running-mate choice, although some say an August announcement might be too late to lock in the GOP foot-soldiers.

“There’s a lot of speculation that Marco Rubio could be the vice presidential nominee,” Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad told the AP, referring to the freshman Florida senator and tea party favorite. “I think somebody like him could add some real excitement to the ticket, would be kind of a help to Romney if he does wrap up the nomination.”

Candidates historically do not win close elections based on their running mate, although they have in recent elections received a temporary bump in their national poll standing. The choice can ignite passion among the party base, as did McCain’s selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in 2008.

Concerns about the enthusiasm Romney generates correspond with a general dip in excitement among Republicans in a nominating campaign that has lurched one way and another in nine contests over the past six weeks.

A CNN/ORC International poll published Wednesday showed 51 percent of Republicans nationally were extremely or very enthusiastic about voting for president in the election, down from 64 percent in October.

But the dip in GOP enthusiasm, and especially Romney’s three-way loss this month, is a stark warning to Romney that he cannot wait or rely on public unpopularity with Obama to provide momentum for him.

“He cannot bank on the anger against Obama among Republicans to create the turnout we need in the Fall,” Florida’s Bradshaw said.

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.”

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.

January 31, 2012

Governmental Austerity Does NOT Work In Times Like These

Paul Krugman Calls it:  The Austerity Debacle  And he is right AGAIN! Unfortunately Politics and ideology trump basic economics and common sense.

Last week the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, a British think tank, released a startling chart comparing the current slump with past recessions and recoveries. It turns out that by one important measure — changes in real G.D.P. since the recession began — Britain is doing worse this time than it did during the Great Depression. Four years into the Depression, British G.D.P. had regained its previous peak; four years after the Great Recession began, Britain is nowhere close to regaining its lost ground.

Nor is Britain unique. Italy is also doing worse than it did in the 1930s — and with Spain clearly headed for a double-dip recession, that makes three of Europe’s big five economies members of the worse-than club. Yes, there are some caveats and complications. But this nonetheless represents a stunning failure of policy.

And it’s a failure, in particular, of the austerity doctrine that has dominated elite policy discussion both in Europe and, to a large extent, in the United States for the past two years.

O.K., about those caveats: On one side, British unemployment was much higher in the 1930s than it is now, because the British economy was depressed — mainly thanks to an ill-advised return to the gold standard — even before the Depression struck. On the other side, Britain had a notably mild Depression compared with the United States.

Even so, surpassing the track record of the 1930s shouldn’t be a tough challenge. Haven’t we learned a lot about economic management over the last 80 years? Yes, we have — but in Britain and elsewhere, the policy elite decided to throw that hard-won knowledge out the window, and rely on ideologically convenient wishful thinking instead.

Britain, in particular, was supposed to be a showcase for “expansionary austerity,” the notion that instead of increasing government spending to fight recessions, you should slash spending instead — and that this would lead to faster economic growth. “Those who argue that dealing with our deficit and promoting growth are somehow alternatives are wrong,” declared David Cameron, Britain’s prime minister. “You cannot put off the first in order to promote the second.”

How could the economy thrive when unemployment was already high, and government policies were directly reducing employment even further? Confidence! “I firmly believe,” declared Jean-Claude Trichet — at the time the president of the European Central Bank, and a strong advocate of the doctrine of expansionary austerity — “that in the current circumstances confidence-inspiring policies will foster and not hamper economic recovery, because confidence is the key factor today.”

Such invocations of the confidence fairy were never plausible; researchers at the International Monetary Fund and elsewhere quickly debunked the supposed evidence that spending cuts create jobs. Yet influential people on both sides of the Atlantic heaped praise on the prophets of austerity, Mr. Cameron in particular, because the doctrine of expansionary austerity dovetailed with their ideological agendas.

Thus in October 2010 David Broder, who virtually embodied conventional wisdom, praised Mr. Cameron for his boldness, and in particular for “brushing aside the warnings of economists that the sudden, severe medicine could cut short Britain’s economic recovery and throw the nation back into recession.” He then called on President Obama to “do a Cameron” and pursue “a radical rollback of the welfare state now.”

Strange to say, however, those warnings from economists proved all too accurate. And we’re quite fortunate that Mr. Obama did not, in fact, do a Cameron.

Which is not to say that all is well with U.S. policy. True, the federal government has avoided all-out austerity. But state and local governments, which must run more or less balanced budgets, have slashed spending and employment as federal aid runs out — and this has been a major drag on the overall economy. Without those spending cuts, we might already have been on the road to self-sustaining growth; as it is, recovery still hangs in the balance.

And we may get tipped in the wrong direction by Continental Europe, where austerity policies are having the same effect as in Britain, with many signs pointing to recession this year.

The infuriating thing about this tragedy is that it was completely unnecessary. Half a century ago, any economist — or for that matter any undergraduate who had read Paul Samuelson’s textbook “Economics” — could have told you that austerity in the face of depression was a very bad idea. But policy makers, pundits and, I’m sorry to say, many economists decided, largely for political reasons, to forget what they used to know. And millions of workers are paying the price for their willful amnesia.

….. PAUL KRUGMAN 1/29/12

January 30, 2012

Comparison between Mormon and Christian Doctrines

A Comparison Between Christian Doctrine and Mormon Doctrine

by Matt Slick

“Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with it and see if it will stand the test,” (Brigham Young, May 18, 1873, Journal of Discourses, vol. 16, p. 46.)

Following is a comparison between Christian doctrine and Mormon doctrine. It will become very obvious that Mormonism does not agree with the Bible. In fact,Mormonism has simply used the same words found in Christianity and redefined them. But with a proper understanding of what Mormonism really teaches, you will be able to see past those definitions into the real differences between Christianity and Mormonism.

The difference is the difference between eternal life and damnation.

Topic

Christian

Mormon

GOD There is only one God (Isaiah 43:1144:6,8;45:5). “And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light: and there was light (Book of Abraham 4:3).
God has always been God (Psalm 90:2;Isaiah 57:15). “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!!! . . . We have imagined that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea and take away the veil, so that you may see,” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith,p. 345).
God is a spirit without flesh and bones (John 4:24Luke 24:39). “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s,” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22; Compare with Alma 18:26-27; 22:9-10).
“Therefore we know that both the Father and the Son are in form and stature perfect men; each of them possesses a tangible body . . . of flesh and bones,” (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 38).
TRINITY The Trinity is the doctrine that there is only one God in all the universe and that He exists in three eternal, simultaneous persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The trinity is three separate Gods: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. “That these three are separate individuals, physically distinct from each other, is demonstrated by the accepted records of divine dealings with man,”(Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 35).
JESUS Jesus was born of the virgin Mary (Isaiah 7:14Matt. 1:23). “The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood – was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers,” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, p. 115).
“Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers” (Mormon Doctrine, by Bruce McConkie, p. 547).
Jesus is the eternal Son. He is second person of the Trinity. He has two natures.He is God in flesh and man (John 1:114; Col. 2;9) and the creator of all things (Col. 1:15-17). Jesus is the literal spirit-brother of Lucifer, a creation (Gospel Through the Ages, p. 15).
THE
HOLY
SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is not a force. He is a person. (Acts 5:3-413:2) Mormonism distinguishes between the Holy Spirit (God’s presence via an essence) and the Holy Ghost (the third god in the Mormon doctrine of the trinity).
“He [the Holy Ghost] is a being endowed with the attributes and powers of Deity, and not a mere force, or essence,” (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 144).
SALVATION Salvation is the forgiveness of sin and deliverance of the sinner from damnation. It is a free gift received by God’s grace (Eph. 2:8Rom. 6:23) and cannot be earned (Rom. 11:6). Salvation has a double meaning in Mormonism: universal resurrection and . . .
“The first effect [of the atonement] is to secure to all mankind alike, exemption from the penalty of the fall, thus providing a plan of General Salvation. The second effect is to open a way for Individual Salvation whereby mankind may secure remission of personal sins,” (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 78-79).
Salvation (forgiveness of sins) is not by works (Eph. 2:8Rom. 4:5;Gal. 2:21). “As these sins are the result of individual acts it is just that forgiveness for them should be conditioned on individual compliance with prescribed requirements — ‘obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel,’” (Articles of Faith, p. 79).
BIBLE The inspired inerrant word of God (2 Tim. 3:16). It is authoritative in all subjects it addresses. “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. . .” (8th Article of Faith of the Mormon Church).

This is only a sample of many of the differences between Christianity and Mormonism. As you can see, they are quite different doctrines. God cannot be uncreated and created at the same time. There cannot be only one God and many gods at the same time. The Trinity cannot be one God in three persons and three gods in an office known as the Trinity, etc. These teachings are mutually exclusive.

This is important because faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed. Is the Mormon god the real one? Or, is the God of historic and biblical Christianity the real one?

Mormonism is obviously not the biblical version of Christianity. It is not Christian, and Mormons serve a different god than do the Christians — a god that does not exist.  Paul talks about this in Gal. 4:8, “when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.”  Only the God of the Bible exists.  There are no others.  Mormonism puts its faith in a non-existent god.

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 and Gingrich to devise New Strategies for Florida

Did South Carolina decide the Republican presidential nominee, as it has since 1980, or did it engage in a primal scream that slows but does not derail Mitt Romney’s momentum? Florida won’t settle that question entirely, but its Jan. 31 primary will say more than Gingrich would like to admit.

In the next phase of his campaign, look for Romney to release his tax returns, participate in fewer debates, try to tell his own story with more passion, and, with the help of his super PAC allies, go after Gingrich more directly.

It’s all part of a recovery plan. Romney saw a double-digit lead inSouth Carolina collapse in less than a week and he saw his national numbers decline against Gingrich among registered and leaning Republican voters. He heads here now bitten by fumbling debate performances, a mangled message on his personal tax returns and the most important question his campaign has long confronted but never been able to answer: What does Romney do if he can’t unite economic, social and national security conservatives?

Gingrich united all three in South Carolina and his double-digit victory there will go down in party lore as one of the historic snap-back moments for the conservative movement. It’s not as if conservatives didn’t have a voice in Iowa or New Hampshire. They did. But they came together in bigger numbers and with a greater sense of fulmination and rage at what they perceive is the establishment Republican tendency to dismiss or delegitimize conservatives in the nominating process. This grievance has burned with varying degrees of intensity in every nominating contest since 1964 and if it were ever to find its full expression, South Carolina would be the place.

The Gingrich appeal in South Carolina can translate in northern and rural Florida but may find voters less receptive in the central Interstate Four corridor and more cosmopolitan and Latino southern Florida. Money won’t determine the outcome entirely, but it will play a substantial role. South Carolina proves money isn’t determinative. Romney spent twice as much Gingrich and lost by double-digits. And Gingrich will reap huge financial gains from South Carolina. Top Republicans believe Gingrich could raise as much as $10 million in the next two weeks. Gingrich appealed for money in his closing remarks, adding tartly “We don’t have the kind of money that at least one candidate has.”

Before that money comes in, Gingrich has to live off the airwaves, using the “elite” media to carry his message. Gingrich was booked on NBC’s Meet the Press, CBS’s Face the Nation and CNN’s State of the Union. Condemning the “elite” media and using it simultaneously as a lifeline until he can raise more campaign cash is a tactic that might make some candidates blush. Not Gingrich. That bristling self-confidence proved to be an asset in South Carolina.

It remains a defining part of his persona and contributes to his high negative ratings on the likability question (56 percent unfavorable to 27 percent in this week’s Fox News poll) and his lagging support among women (he runs 18 points behind President Obama in this week’s CNN/Time poll). Until these attitudes about Gingrich change, his electability will remain a deep and abiding concern among top-tier Republicans. Part of that anxiety was visible in the days before South Carolina voted when swing-state Republicans like Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia backed Romney.   

Romney has been spending money in Florida for three weeks, buying up ad time in every major media market. It requires $1.5 million to hit the saturation point of 1,000 gross ratings points in the top Florida media markets and Romney has it and has set a goal of hitting that mark each week between now and the Jan. 31 primary. Romney’s campaign, overseen in the Sunshine state by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a former member of the U.S. House, also has heavily organized early voting. By primary day, Romney strategists believe they will have upwards of 500,000 early votes already in the bag.

Romney will also remind Florida Republicans — independents cannot vote in the primary — about Gingrich’s $1.6 million in consultancy payments from the government-backed mortgage giant Freddie Mac That issue damaged Gingrich in Iowa and nationally before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses and could cut deeply in a state that’s suffered through a deep foreclosure crisis. In fact, three hours after the polls closed in South Carolina, the pro-Romney super PAC Restore our Future was airing ads in Tampa knocking Gingrich on his association with  Freddie Mac, his House reprimand over an ethics violation 15 years ago and his ties with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

The Romney camp will also take a very hard look at future debates. It reluctantly agreed to Monday’sNational Journal/NBC/Tampa Bay Times debate and the CNN debate on Thursday. No final decisions have been made, but the strong impression given by Romney advisers is after these two debates, Romney will no longer give his rivals the free-media benefits of endless debate platforms and seek to defeat them the old fashioned way — with money and organization.

Romney stepped up his rhetoric against Gingrich in his concession speech Saturday night. “Our president has divided the nation, engaged in class warfare and attacked the free enterprise system that has made America the economic envy of the world,” he said. “We cannot defeat that president with a candidate who has joined in that very assault on free enterprise.”

Still, Romney advisers know they can only vanquish Gingrich by doing more to quiet concerns raised by his shaky answers on personal wealth and his income tax history. The campaign delayed a release of tax documents to make sure it would not happen in waves and that whatever publicity surrounding it could be contained in a one-day news cycle. That was a strategy built around the long game. It cost them precious ground and voter credibility in South Carolina. Those close to the campaign say the move is afoot to get the documents and the narrative ready as soon as possible — and for more years than the one Gingrich has released. In essence, in a new state of Florida the Romney team wants to argue it said more and released more than Gingrich and Santorum (who says his forms will come out in months) and Paul (who won’t release them at all). Until that happens, the questions will persist.

And on this issue, on questions about Romney’s stewardship of the private equity firm Bain Capital, a disturbing pattern has begun to emerge — Romney’s surrogates answer questions more sharply and with more evident passion than Romney. That can and does work on arcane policy questions. It does not work on matters at the heart of a candidate’s own story. Team Romney knows that was never more visibly on display than in South Carolina.

As the candidates head to Florida, Romney and his team know they have to learn from defeat and adapt quickly even as they use their money and organization. Florida is all about Romney and Gingrich. Gingrich has the momentum and all that comes with it – money, curiosity, volunteers and scrutiny. The first three are blessings. The last could be a curse – it has been before. Romney arrives wounded and humbled. His campaign team is cranky and Romney will have to steady the ship and find a stronger voice about his life story, his financial history and his philosophical core.

These have been the weaknesses at the heart of the Romney campaign from the start. That South Carolina exposed them so gruesomely might, in the end, be just what Romney needed. If not, South Carolina did more than let loose a primal scream.

Damaged Romney ALL-IN for Florida…. Gloves Come Off

Mitt Romney’s expected romp to the Republican presidential nomination turned into a long and hard slog on Saturday, and he leaves South Carolina as a damaged and suddenly vulnerable candidate.

But beyond the take-back-our-country frenzy that Newt Gingrichwas able to whip up among conservative voters in the Palmetto State, Romney still has significant advantages over Gingrich as the race heads to Florida and beyond.

Romney’s past week in South Carolina hardly could have been worse.

In two debates the private equity executive with an estimated worth of $270 million fumbled questions about when he would release his tax returns, acknowledged that his tax rate was well below those of most wage-earning Americans, and generally allowed Gingrich to cast him as an out-of-touch elitist.

Meanwhile, the long list of Gingrich’s peccadilloes that polls have said make him unelectable to many Americans — his cheating on his first two wives, the ethics probe when he was U.S. House of Representatives speaker, his unapologetic tendency to say things some view as racially insensitive – were swept aside by his strong performances in televised debates before conservative crowds.

By the time Gingrich’s dominating win in South Carolina was tabulated late on Saturday, it was clear that the race for the Republican nomination is led by two flawed candidates.

It also was clear that Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is better equipped than Gingrich for the bumpy ride ahead in the race to determine which Republicanwill face Democratic President Barack Obama in the November 6 election.

As the campaign heads to a January 31 primary in Florida – a large, diverse state where campaigning is particularly expensive – Romney will have more chances to flex his financial and organizational muscle over Gingrich and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, who finished third in South Carolina.

The campaigns are not due to file expense reports until the end of the month. But some of the spending by the political action committees (PACs) that support them has been reported to federal election officials, and shows that the PAC backing Romney has spent millions in Florida since mid-December, far more than any other PAC.

“What this looks like now is what Romney has planned for all along – a long, hard campaign,” Republican strategist Ron Bonjean said. “Romney has the money and the organization in place in states where other candidates haven’t even thought about going yet.”

ROMNEY’S NETWORK

For Gingrich, the challenge will be turning the momentum he won in South Carolina into a self-sustaining organization that can raise money and build support beyond the early states.

In the first week of February, five more states hold nominating contests – Nevada, Maine, Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri. Arizona and Michigan have contests late in the month.

Romney has been organizing in those states for months. Gingrich is far behind in doing so, and failed to even make the ballot in Missouri.

Beyond his organization, Romney has other advantages in the February contests. As a presidential candidate in 2008, he won Nevada easily with more than 50 percent of the vote. He grew up in Michigan, where his father, George, was a governor and auto executive.

Four of the states – Nevada, Maine, Colorado and Minnesota – are caucus states where get-out-the-vote campaign organizations can be critical.

“Momentum and excitement only take you so far,” said Saul Anuzis, former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.

“Gingrich’s biggest challenge going forward is his record, but he also has an organizational challenge in that he has not put together a national campaign,” he said.

In claiming victory late Saturday, Gingrich acknowledged as much.

“I need your help in reaching out to people in Florida,” Gingrich told supporters. “We don’t have the kind of money that at least one of the candidates does. But we do have ideas and we do have people and we’ve proved here in South Carolina that people power with the right ideas beats big money. And with your help we’re going to prove it again in Florida. “

There are two debates in Florida this week, which could be good news for Gingrich if he can continue performing well in such settings.

Romney will be under immense pressure to shine in the debates or face growing doubts from a Republican establishment that so far has been falling in line behind him.

Romney signaled on Saturday he will take a far more aggressive approach against Gingrich and remind voters of the former House speaker’s mixed record. In South Carolina, Romney raised Gingrich’s ethics violations as House speaker.

“Our party can’t be led to victory by someone who has never run a business and never run a state,” Romney said after the South Carolina results were in, comparing Gingrich with Obama.

Florida is more diverse and less conservative state than South Carolina with large concentrations of elderly, Hispanic and Jewish voters – putting Social Security and immigration in the spotlight – and an unemployment rate of 10 percent, far above the national average.

Romney leads Gingrich in opinion polls in Florida by double digits, but Gingrich showed in South Carolina he can wipe out a lead of that size in a week.

GINGRICH’S GREAT WEEK

Gingrich made headway against Romney in South Carolina by attacking his work for Bain Capital, a private equity firm, and questioning his refusal to release his tax returns.

It’s unclear whether those issues will play well in Florida.

“Newt had one of the best weeks in politics I’ve ever seen and Romney had one of the worst,” said Republican strategist Rich Galen, a former Gingrich aide. “But how many times can you say, ‘When will you release your taxes?’ It’s been asked and answered.”

Romney has had staff and phone banks operating in Florida for months. The campaign also has encouraged voters to cast ballots before Election Day, flooding them with mail and phone calls for months. Early voting has already started in Florida.

“Gingrich will carry momentum into Florida, but his campaign doesn’t appear to be as durable for the long haul,” said Republican strategist Adam Temple of South Carolina.

“He’s not on the ballot in Virginia, appears to be lacking in Nevada organization and continues to carry baggage that won’t go away,” he said.

The South Carolina result showed Romney still has trouble winning over conservatives who remember his past support for abortion rights and an individual healthcare mandate when he was governor of Massachusetts.

“There is still a fairly hard ceiling to Romney’s support among Republican voters,” said Dan Schnur, an aide to eventual Republican nominee John McCain during his 2000 campaign. “But I don’t know that they are rejecting Romney as much as demanding more evidence. They want him to earn it.”

Santorum Prepares for Tough Florida Fight

 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.

Environmentalist Fearful of GOP Lineup

Four years after the GOP’s rallying cry became “drill, baby, drill,” environmental issues have barely registered a blip in this Republican presidential primary.

That’s likely to change as the race turns to Florida.

The candidates’ positions on environmental regulation, global warming as well as clean air and water are all but certain to get attention ahead of the Jan. 31 primary in a state where the twin issues of offshore oil drilling and Everglades restoration are considered mandatory topics for discussion.

“It’s almost like eating fried cheese in Iowa,” said Jerry Karnas of the Everglades Foundation. Drilling has long been banned off Florida’s coasts because of fears that a spill would foul its beaches, wrecking the tourism industry, while the federal and state governments are spending billions to clean the Everglades.

Though most expect the candidates to express support for Everglades restoration — as Mitt Romney did in his 2008 campaign — environmentalists are noting a further rightward shift overall among the GOP field. The candidates have called for fewer environmental regulations, questioned whether global warming is a hoax and criticized the agency that implements and enforces clean air and water regulations.

“A cycle ago, there were people who actually believed in solving some of these problems,” said Navin Nayak of the League of Conservation Voters. “Now we’re faced with a slate that doesn’t even believe in basic science.”

The candidates, of course, dispute such a characterization. But their stances have generally grown more conservative. And even when they haven’t, they often offer positions that aren’t in line with conservationists.

—Romney heralded the passage of stricter limits on carbon emissions in 2005 when he was governor of Massachusetts but last year said it was a mistake. He previously agreed with the scientific consensus on global warming and humans’ contribution to it but now says “we don’t know what’s causing climate change.”

—Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich supported tougher environmental regulation early in his congressional career and appeared in a 2008 TV spot with then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pleading for action on climate change. Now he’s says appearing with the San Francisco liberal was “the dumbest thing I’ve done in the last couple of years” and is calling for lifting restrictions on offshore drilling and branding the Environmental Protection Agency a “job killer” that must be replaced.

—Texas Rep. Ron Paul said during his 2008 campaign that “human activity probably does play a role” in global warming. Now he calls the science on manmade global warming a “hoax.”

—Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum shows fewer signs of a shift on such issues. He has called for more drilling, including in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and doubts research that points to a human role in global warming, calling it “junk science.”

An analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics found about $2.8 million in campaign donations were made by those in the energy and natural resources sector, according to Federal Elections Commission data, with about 84 percent of it going to Republicans.

Meantime, the EPA, which is responsible for policing environmental rules, has been singled out for Republican criticism this campaign season. Paul has called for its outright elimination as part of his plan to drastically curtail the federal government. Romney has said it’s “out of control.” Santorum has railed against the EPA’s limits on mercury from coal-fired power plants. And Gingrich has called for overhauling the EPA, saying it should be converted to an “environmental solutions agency.”

Nayak says: “There’s no doubt that this kind of slate of presidential candidates is one of the most regressive and most closely tied to polluters that we’ve seen at least in decades.”

Some Republican presidents and nominees have been strong environmentalists. Teddy Roosevelt was seen as a role model to environmentalists, using his presidency to establish wildlife refuges, preserve forests, and conserve water. Richard Nixon helped create the EPA that has been vilified by his successors on the campaign trail today. And the last Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, was the chief co-sponsor of a bill that sought mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions.

Michelle Pautz, a political science professor at the University of Dayton who focuses on environmental policy, said the current slate of Republicans may not be giving much reason to applaud their environmental stances, but it may not matter much overall with the economy taking center stage.

“The bottom line is both with the GOP primary and looking to Obama and the general election, the green vote is a non-issue,” Pautz said. “There are too many other issues crowding out the environmental ones.”

But Tony Cani, the national political director for the Sierra Club, said taking what he calls “extreme” views on the environment won’t play well come Nov. 6.

“They’re going to be hurt with young voters, women, families, Latino voters,” Cani said.

Jim DiPeso, of Republicans for Environmental Protection, said he hopes to see a shift as Election Day draws closer, but that the state of politics right now has made ecological issues untouchable.

“A lot of the more pragmatic mainstream Republicans just are trying to steer clear of the issue because it’s become so politically fraught,” he said.

Romney Chooses Attack Mode to Counter Gingrich

Just five days ago, Mitt Romney said if he could do one thing over about his campaign, he would spend less time attacking his opponents and more time talking about President Barack Obama.

“I would go back and take every moment I spent talking about one of the guys on the stage and spent that time talking about Barack Obama,” Romney said Thursday at a presidential debate sponsored by CNN. “The right course for America is to return to our fundamental principles, and I would be talking about that more, and probably about my colleagues less–because frankly, any one of them would be a better president than the one we’ve got.”

That was before Romney lost by double-digits to Newt Gingrich in South Carolina. Over the last 48 hours, Romney has gone from barely mentioning his rivals on the stump or in news interviews to launching an all-out assault on Gingrich, portraying him as an erratic and unethical leader who would be dangerous for the party.

Speaking to reporters this morning before tonight’s NBC debate in Tampa, Romney warned of an “October surprise a day” if Gingrich wins the Republican nomination, citing ethics investigations dating back to Gingrich’s days as speaker of the House. Romney also hammered Gingrich for his consulting work after he left office, calling on the former lawmaker to release records detailing his work for Freddie Mac and on behalf of clients lobbying for health care and Medicare reform.

“Let’s see the records from the ethics investigation. Let’s see what they show. Let’s see who his clients were at the time he was lobbying Republican congressmen for Medicare Part D. Was he working or were his entities working with any health care companies that could have benefited from that?” Romney said. “That could represent not just evidence of lobbying but potentially wrongful activity of some kind. And finally, let’s also see the relationship with Freddie Mac and the work product of Freddie Mac. Let’s have full disclosure of what’s going on.”

Romney did not specify what kind of “wrongful activity” he suspected on Gingrich’s part, and the Romney campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Yahoo News.

Romney derided Gingrich’s defense that he was not formally registered as a lobbyist with the House or Senate.

“Saying that Newt Gingrich is a lobbyist is just a matter of fact. He indicates that he doesn’t fall within the narrow definition of lobbyists that he might have in mind. But if you’re working for a company, getting paid for a company through one of your many entities and then you’re speaking with congressmen in a way that would help that company, that’s lobbying,” Romney insisted. “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.”

In a subsequent conference call, Romney campaign surrogates said Gingrich was not fit for office.

And the campaign unveiled a new TV ad about Gingrich’s work for Freddie Mac, set to begin airing Monday in Florida. The ad mocks Gingrich’s claim that he was hired as a historian by the company and implies that he profited off the suffering of Floridians hit hard by the housing crisis.

“While Florida families lost everything in the housing crisis, Newt Gingrich cashed in,” the ad says.

Playing a clip of Gingrich saying he worked as a “historian,” a narrator intones, “A historian? Really?”

The ad also mentions Gingrich’s ethics problems and says he “resigned from Congress in disgrace.”

In response, the Gingrich campaign organized its own conference call with former Rep. J.C. Watts, a top Gingrich surrogate, who defended Gingrich’s claims that he didn’t work as a lobbyist, calling Romney’s attacks “silly.”

“I guess technically, some might see it as splitting hairs, but Newt Gingrich was not walking the halls of the House and Senate, going from Republican and Democrat,” Watts said. “He was never doing the hand-to-hand combat lobbying or consulting, whatever you want to call it.”

“Beating up Newt Gingrich for consulting … I think that’s about like saying let’s beat up Michael Jordan for being a great basketball player,” Watts went on to say. “You want somebody that’s been there, done that.”

Romney’s attacks on Gingrich are not likely to let up, especially as the candidates meet on stage to debate Monday night in Tampa and again on Thursday in Jacksonville.

In recent days, the former Massachusetts governor has sought to recast his candidacy as someone from outside Washington fighting party insiders like Gingrich—a theme that likely to dominate Romney’s message in Florida and throughout the rest of the primaries.

Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, who has endorsed Romney in the race, raised the issue in a conference call Monday, telling reporters it is difficult to believe Gingrich could be an agent of “change” in Washington, given his long history there.

“We need principled leaders, not political opportunists,” Weatherford said.

He laughed at Gingrich’s claim of working as a historian for Freddie Mac, saying that he didn’t believe anybody in the state would buy that excuse.

“$1.6 million for a history lesson?” he said. “He should have been giving them a math lesson.”

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.

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.

Gingrich Courts Disenfranchised Evangelical Christians in Florida

 Newt Gingrich’s presidential hopes may rest among the pews of Florida’s ministries and mega-churches.

The former House speaker is looking to Florida’s religious conservatives to counter rival Mitt Romney’s organizational and financial might in a state where so-called “values voters” could constitute more than a third of the Republican electorate in the Jan. 31 primary.

“There’s no question Gov. Romney will always have more money,” Gingrich says when asked about his Florida campaign. But he’s quick to add that his team has between 5,000 and 6,000 volunteers. Aides say many of them are evangelicals.

Thrice-married, Gingrich may not be the obvious pick for church-goers here. But the network of religious activists he’s assembling has far greater concerns about Romney’s inconsistent history on abortion and gay rights than they seemingly do about Gingrich’s two divorces and acknowledged marital infidelity.

And that gives Gingrich an opening as he challenges Romney in the aftermath of Saturday’s primary in South Carolina, where the polls suggest Gingrich may end up winning.

Seeking to capitalize on Gingrich’s burst of momentum, one of his top evangelical backers in Florida planned to lead a conference call in the coming days with 1,000 pastors. Others are spreading Gingrich’s message in the state’s many churches and Baptist publications. And Gingrich has already lined up appearances with the religious community for next week.

“The evangelicals are not going to wrap their arms around Romney in this primary or the general election,” says John Grant, a Baptist leader and one of Gingrich’s Florida evangelical chairmen. “Gingrich is pulling these people together quite nicely.”

The power of Florida’s evangelicals depends on their ability to unite. And while they’re nearly united against Romney, they’re not wholly united behind Gingrich. Some prominent religious conservatives are rallying around Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator long known for passionate social conservatism, but generally considered a longshot in the race to challenge President Barack Obama in the fall.

Santorum is showing no signs of bowing out, especially after the final tally suggested he edged Romney in the Iowa caucuses even though there is no officially declared winner.

The continued division leaves the political power of Florida’s evangelicals fractured, just as anti-Romney conservatives have been in other early voting states all year.

“We have to figure out how we’re going to come together,” said John Stemberger, a Santorum supporter who led the 2008 push to amend Florida’s constitution to ban gay marriage.

Stemberger hoped a recent meeting of national evangelical leaders in Texas would do just that. The group held a nonbinding vote that showed overwhelming support for Santorum. But in Florida, there are serious questions about the viability of Santorum, who hired a Florida staff just last week.

Gingrich’s organization pales when compared to Romney’s, which has been years in the making. But Gingrich’s team is working to capitalize on doubts about Santorum, as well as on Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s recent exit.

Gingrich’s Florida operation is led by Jose Mallea, who managed Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2010 race.

Even before Perry’s exit, Gingrich’s team had been quietly courting key staff and supporters from both the Perry and Santorum camps to boost an organization that was stood up in December.

Underscoring the challenge Gingrich faces, he has yet to run any television ads in Florida, where Romney and his allies have had the airwaves to themselves since mid-December. Mallea said Gingrich will advertise in Spanish and English soon.

Gingrich also faces renewed attention on flaws in his personal life that could turn off evangelicals here.

In an ABC News interview broadcast Thursday, Gingrich’s second wife said he sought an “open marriage” arrangement so he could have a mistress and a wife. Asked about his ex-wife’s assertions during a debate that night, Gingrich said it was false and lashed out at the media.

“I wish he didn’t have that background, but I honestly believe he’s had a real renaissance experience,” said Grant, the Gingrich supporter.

In recent years, Gingrich has publicly acknowledged mistakes, converted to Catholicism and says prayer is an important part of his life.

Gingrich’s team estimates evangelicals will represent between 25 percent and 40 percent of the Florida GOP primary electorate.

Exit polling from the 2008 GOP primary shows that approximately 39 percent of voters identified themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians. They were almost evenly split that year, with 30 percent for Sen. John McCain, 29 percent for Romney, 29 percent for Mike Huckabee and 7 percent for Rudy Giuliani.

Romney would be happy with a repeat performance. His team has organized weekly conference calls with a group of social conservative leaders it hopes will produce at least some of the evangelical vote.

But Romney is not going out of his way to appease this group. He recently declined to respond to the Florida Family Policy Council voter guide, which Stemberger organized. The guide highlights Romney’s non-answers on key social issues prominently and was emailed to 100,000 Florida evangelicals this week. It also is expected to be faxed and emailed to about 8,000 churches.

While Stemberger and Grant don’t agree on a Romney alternative, they share deep concerns about him.

“I hear that if it’s Obama and Romney, evangelicals have no place to go. But there’s a third choice: It’s called home,” Grant said.

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.

 

A Brief History of “State Capitalism”

Something old, something new

A brief history of “state capitalism”

IN SEPTEMBER 1789 George Washington appointed Alexander Hamilton as America’s first ever treasury secretary. Two years later Hamilton presented Congress with a “Report on Manufactures”, his plan to get the young country’s economy going and provide the underpinnings for its hard-fought independence. Hamilton had no time for Adam Smith’s ideas about the hidden hand. America needed to protect its infant industries with tariffs if it wanted to see them grow up.

State capitalism has been around for almost as long as capitalism itself. Anglo-Saxons like to think of themselves as the perennial defenders of free-market orthodoxy against continental European and Asian heresy. In reality every rising power has relied on the state to kickstart growth or at least to protect fragile industries. Even Britain, the crucible of free-trade thinking, created a giant national champion in the form of the East India Company.

The appetite for industrial policy grew with the eating, and after the second world war intervention became a mark of civilization as well as common sense. The Europeans created industrial powerhouses and welfare states. The Asians poured resources into national champions.

This long era of state activism has left a surprisingly powerful legacy, despite the more recent fashion for privatisation and deregulation. The rich world still has a large number of state-owned or state-dominated companies. For example, France owns 85% of EDF, an energy company; Japan 50% of Japan Tobacco; and Germany 32% of Deutsche Telekom. These numbers add up: across the OECD state-owned enterprises have a combined value of almost $2 trillion and employ 6m people.

The new kind of state capitalism started in Singapore. Lee Kuan Yew, its founding father, was prime minister for more than 30 years and a tireless advocate of “Asian values”, by which he meant a mixture of family values and authoritarianism. He rivalled Beatrice Webb in his faith in the wisdom of the state. But he also grasped that Singapore’s best chance lay in attracting the world’s most powerful corporations, though he rejected the laissez-faire ideas that flourished in Asia’s other great port city, Hong Kong.

Singapore could easily have remained a tiny oddity but for a succession of earth-shaking events. The first was the oil embargo imposed by the Arab petrostates in the wake of the 1973 Yom Kippur war, quadrupling the price of oil and shifting the balance of power in the world economy. Arab governments tightened their control over the newly valuable oil companies and amassed growing financial surpluses. For them the economic shock was proof of the power of their oil weapon. For the Chinese it demonstrated the importance of securing a safe supply of oil and other raw materials.

The second event was Deng Xiaoping’s transformation of China. Deng borrowed heavily from the Singaporean model. He embraced globalisation by creating special economic zones and inviting foreign companies in. He espoused corporatism by forcing state enterprises to model themselves on Western companies. And he concentrated resources on national champions and investment in research and development. By doing all this, he plugged 1.3 billion people into the world economy.

The final event was the collapse of Soviet communism. This was initially seen as one of the great triumphs of liberalism, but it soon unleashed dark forces. Communist apparatchiks-turned-oligarchs grabbed chunks of the economy. Between 1990 and 1995 the country’s GDP dropped by a third. Male life expectancy shrank from 64 to 58. Once-captive nations broke away. In 1998 the country defaulted on its debts.

The post-Soviet disaster created a craving for order. Vladimir Putin, then Russia’s president, reasserted direct state control over “strategic” industries and brought the remaining private-sector oligarchs to heel. But just as important as the backlash in Russia was the one in China. The collapse of the Soviet Union confirmed the Chinese Communist Party’s deepest fear: that the end of party rule would mean the breakdown of order. The only safe way forward was a judicious mixture of private enterprise and state capitalism

As Romney so eloquently has stated  that there has been a frontal assault on Capitalism, we should begin this debate on how Capitalism has been  for centuries and later to discuss how it has evolved.  I do not think there is ANY candidate that does not believe we need to have capitalism at the core of our  society. It is how it has become perverted and has gone against the other cores of our society  those being humanity, equality and the protection of the health well-being and rights of all citizens of the United States is above all  … even CAPITALISM. We now must seek a balance  for all these values to peacefully coexist again.

It is my intention to bring this  need to the forefront of the rest of this presidential election cycle

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