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The Lessons of Super Tuesday

The Lessons of Super Tuesday

This is an article I wrote for my blog on CafeMom.com/the Stir as part of the Moms Matter initiative I am taking part in…

What are the lessons of Super Tuesday? I’m a newcomer to all this myself but it seems to me, it’s a little bit like a pit stop at a race track, where a candidate can see what’s dragging him or her down, tweak and re-launch. And if he does it right, that re-entry might give the candidates exactly the momentum he or she needs to clinch it. 

Wednesday morning, Mitt Romney, who won the largest number of delegates by a pretty good margin, was probably wishing that delegates were still awarded on a winner take all basis. Because they’re not, Rick Santorum is actually going to get a big chunk of the delegates even in states he didn’t win. What he didn’t get was a big chunk of Catholic votes. Catholic voters, one of the biggest groups of swing voters, have consistently voted for Romney in state after state. According to CNN’s exit polls, Romney took 43% of Ohio Catholics on Super Tuesday, compared to 31% for Rick Santorum. (www.patheos.com/blogs/deaconsbench/2012/03/analyst-catholics-may-account-for-romney-win-in-ohio/) Why is this? Because Catholics, not unlike Republicans, have more depth and individualism than many people assume. And Santorum’s reaching out to social conservatives may be turning some Catholics off who care more about job creation than rewriting creation.  

 Super Tuesday is like a snap shot that shows a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses with different kinds of voters in different parts of the country. While Romney’s loss in some southern states is a concern, the good news is by winning Ohio, he proved he could win another big industrial state. Michigan was the first. 

 For sure, it’s time for Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul to bow out gracefully. Yes, Newt, Georgia thinks you’re a peach. Now, would you please step aside and help stop the creeping rot that is hurting the whole crop!  As for Rick Santorum, somebody needs to get a bucket of water and douse the religious fire. An admirable crusader, he is unfortunately leading the troops straight towards a cliff. There’s no doubt that Romney stands head and shoulders above Santorum when it comes to all matters related to the economy. And when voters say their biggest concern is job creation or taming the deficit, Santorum’s religious sanitizing of the Republican party seems a little, well, off-topic.

 I just read a great article by Major Garrett in the National Journal  about the division in the Republican party and the split between what the writer calls, “The Rationals” and “The Notionals.” (nationaljournal.com/2012/03/two-sets-of-gop-voters-rationa.php) It has nothing to do with rational versus irrational thinking. Instead the Notionals are the Republicans who have a notion that there is someone out there who is better than Romney. And they have been flipping back and forth for a year and a half about who that may be.

To build on this thought, I would say I guess it is Rick Santorum’s good fortune that the Notionals have discovered him at this stage of the game. But does someone, who soundly lost a re-election bid as Senator in his home state, have what it takes to defeat President Barack Obama in what is going to be a tough general election driven in large part by voters concerns about the economy? 

According to Garrett, the Notionals are the grass roots activists who are trying to effect change by staying longer and talking louder. They are the Tea Party-ers, the Bachmann and Palin fans, the Donald Trump fans, the Rush Limbaughs, who get a lot of attention but do not speak for most Republicans I know.  The Notionals are the ones who said in polls that it is important that a candidate share their religion. 

 I would add that the Rationals are the people who recognize the range of social opinions within the party when they hear George Bush’s daughter advocating gay marriage. They care when someone they trust, like Barbara Bush, says they’ve known the Romneys for years and they really are good people. The  Rationals are the same people who can take an objective look at Mitt Romney’s resume and see a pretty compelling match between his skills and our country’s most pressing needs right now.   

 One obvious target Romney could reach out to to bolster himself in the final months leading up to the nomination is moderate Republican women. According to CNN, half of Republican voters are women and two-thirds of new small businesses are started by women. We’re here and we tend to vote Republican. And we really like Barbara Bush. In fact, we’re waiting for her to come up with another zinger like, “It rhymes with rich.”

What would she say about this current hard right/then hard left/now hard right turn into the bedroom and the ensuing flap on birth control? Hmmm.  If anyone can put it in perspective, she can! And God knows, Republican women could use a good laugh right now! 

By the way, Romney took Vermont, too. According to CNN’s Super Tuesday polls, Vermont is the only state where the majority of Republican voters heading to the polls on Super Tuesday identified themselves as Moderates. I believe the majority of Republicans are moderates who view the social conservatives with suspicion. They’re just waiting for the reasonable Republican to be revered the way the social conservative is now feared.  That is what it is going to take to re-engage them and get them to the polls!  I guess it’s clear who I am voting for – the Rational! Or Mitt Romney. 

Are 8 minds always better than 1?

Are 8 minds always better than 1?

Politicians are breaking out all over this week as the 2012 Presidential Election is officially on.  First, there was the Republican Presidential Debate hosted by Brian Williams at the Ronald Reagan Library.  Then Obama’s pitch to Congress to pass his more than 400 billion dollar job creation package NOW.   You can go deep on both by following the links below and in the Daily Dose but just to get your attention – did anyone else notice that Michelle Bachmann wore the same blouse in Simi Valley that she wore for the debates in New Hampshire?  (A nod to austerity or a suspicion her campaign was about to be short lived?) Or that Ron Paul’s stylist needs to tell him to pull the seat of his jacket down so the gap between the back of his neck and the collar of his jacket isn’t an even wider gulf than the US debt?  I admit we have far bigger problems to worry about but on a totally superficial note, there seemed to be a “too worried to pay a tailor or stylist” air to the whole line of ’em.. 

So, who won the Republican debate?  I think it was Mitt Romney – and not by a little but by a lot.  Romney is fighting … and finally cutting through.  He looked positively presidential next to a slightly goofy Rick Perry who was beaming and giving the thumbs up, a little like an 11 year old being praised by his teacher, when Romney mentioned his book, “Fed Up.”  Perry is telegenic and came out slugging but never seemed as cerebral or convincing as Mitt Romney.  His arguments about job creation in Texas did fall flat when you consider his state also has among the largest populations without health insurance and that no other state has as many workers making at or below minimum wage.  And if Americans already thought Republicans were mean, I don’t think it helped when Rick Perry told Brian Williams he hasn’t lost any sleep over the 234 criminals executed under his watch as governor of Texas… and the crowd broke out in cheers!  The exchange that everybody loved was when Perry told Romney Michael Dukakis created jobs 3 times faster than he did and Romney shot right back, “Well, George Bush created them a lot faster in Texas than you did.”  That’s the Romney people have been waiting to see.  Just for fun, I went back and watched the New Hampshire debates and Romney was practically mute that night compared to this debate’s “Mitt This” approach.

The “not wild enough to be a wild card” Jon Huntsman continues to be a favorite if for no other reason, because he is so earnest.  I loved when he beefed up his internationalism by saying he would like to address the Chinese people with a speech he would give in China IN CHINESE.  He also gets kudos for being a Republican who takes global warming seriously – something his rival Romney doesn’t.  And Huntsman gets points for chiding Romney about his aggressive stance on renegotiating trade deals by saying, “It might not be a good idea to start a trade war in the middle of a recession.”

As far as Pawlenty and Santorum, I’m afraid they are morphing into the same candidate for me.  The whole time Gingrich was talking, I couldn’t get the song, “I’m still Standing” out of my head!  He has a sort of pasty, days of old look on his face but if you get past his likeability factor, he is saying some really smart things, like that this campaign has to be about more than the Presidency, it has to be about electing legislators who will support the President’s agenda to address our economic woes.  And that NASA needs to get out of the way and let private industry innovate and execute the future of space.  And you can mock Herman Cain’s candidacy but you have to appreciate his one liners.  I’m still laughing at “the Stimulus Plan didn’t stimulate diddly.”  But I loved last night’s 9-9-9 tax plan (9% income tax, 9 % corporate tax, 9% sales tax) because if 10% is good enough for God, 9 percent should be good enough for the Federal Government. 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/gop-debate-at-the-ronald-reagan-presidential-library/2011/09/07/gIQAmBJQAK_gallery.html

http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/story/2011-09-07/News-analysis-Perry-GOP-frontrunner-under-fire-at-debate/50307818/1?csp=34news