Posts Tagged ‘GOP Primaries’

When you’re Tim Pawlenty, apparently… Take a look at this exchange he had with CNN’s Piers Morgan:

Morgan: There was a poll out only today, a CNN poll which probably made quite the disturbing reading for you. Did you ever imagine in your wildest nightmares that you’d see a poll of potential Republican candidates which had you at 2 percent and Donald Trump at 19 percent?

Pawlenty: Well for me, I’m just getting known Piers. So our trajectory is kind of a tortoise and hare strategy and as we get better known particularly in the early states I think you’ll see those numbers change for me. But as to Donald Trump, the Donald I think he’s funny, I think he’s exciting. He’s obviously very successful. I think he brings a lot to the debate so I welcome him to it. If hair is going to be a factor in this race, Piers then I’m going to grow my mullet back out. I had a mullet when I played hockey in high school.

Morgan: In a hypothetical scenario governor, if someone like Donald Trump was to emerge as the Republican nominee and asked you to be vice president, would you accept that honor?

Pawlenty: I’m running for president. I’m not putting my hat in the ring rhetorically or ultimately for vice president so I’m focused on running for president.

(Emphasis in the transcript is mine)

Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant had to walk back the remarks, telling CNN, “As the governor has said many times, he is not running to be anybody’s vice president. He will have a formal announcement about running for president later this spring.”

Conant has also taken to Twitter to push back against CNN:

@sanuzis have you seen full quote? he didn’t announce anything. @CNN took quote out of context.

As was the case with Mitt Romney’s announcement earlier this week, the fact that Tim Pawlenty is getting ready to run for president is not news to anybody who has been keeping an eye on him since 2008, and more so during the lead up to the 2010 elections as his gubernatorial term was winding down. However, the fact that he actually said the words “I’m running for president,” would automatically trigger alarm bells for any political journalist watching the interview. It may not have been a formal photo op event with a backdrop and a podium, but it is fair for CNN and other news organizations to quote him saying “I’m running for president.” It may not have been the intended message Pawlenty and Conant wanted out there, but it’s impossible to unring that bell, especially when it’s on video.

Regardless of semantics, the fact that Pawlenty was the first Republican candidate to announce the formation of a presidential exploratory committee was a pretty big indicator that he was running for president. All other subsequent announcements, no matter how official they may be declared, are really just formalities.


To the surprise of absolutely no one who has been keeping an eye on him since the 2008 elections. He made the announcement via Twitter:

I am announcing my Exploratory Committee for President of the United States. Join us at #Mitt2012

He rebooted his website, which contains the following video message:

Conservative blogger Erick Erickson pointed out on Twitter and on CNN’s “John King USA” that the R in the Romney logo looks like it was done with Aquafresh toothpaste. He may have a point. Have a look at this side-by-side comparisons of the logos from the two websites:

Romney is the second Republican to form an exploratory committee. The intent in announcing is the same reason the president announced a week ago: it allows the committee to start raising money for a presidential campaign. According to Roll Call, Romney will criss-cross the country on a fundraising blitz for the next six weeks, beginning with an event at New York’s Harbor Club today.

This Politico article is a good recap summing up Romney’s background and the challenges he will face the second time around. The key dynamic change from four years ago is the passage of Obama’s health care plan, which Obama and many Democrats have repeatedly and gleefully pointed out was based in part on the health care plan Romney signed into law as governor of Massachusetts. Romney is now stuck with the tricky political position of trying to defend his accomplishments as governor while at the same time distancing his health care plan from the Obama health care plan, which is politically radioactive in Republican circles. This could help sink his chances at winning the nomination. Obama and the Democrats know this, and that is why they complement him as much as they can.

Don’t know if Romney’s strategists and branding people did their homework before launching the website, but Ben Smith points out that Romney’s “Believe in America” slogan was previously used by Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry during his unsuccessful presidential run in 2004.

Another Kerry-Romney comparison comes from former DNC staffer Matt Ortega who recently launched the site Multiple Choice Mitt. It is essentially the Democrats using George W. Bush’s highly successful flip-flop attacks on Kerry, this time aimed squarely at Romney.

Somebody’s been doing some oppo research on the Donald

Donald Trump sent Nancy Pelosi warm wishes when she was sworn in as House Speaker in January 2007, praising her as “the best” in a personal note.

Trump, who’s now mulling a Republican run for president, penned the note on a copy of a New York Times article that chronicled Pelosi’s swearing-in, and wrote, “Nancy — you’re the best. Congrats. Donald,” according to sources familiar with the missive.

Trump, now a registered Republican, is a former independent and former registered Democrat. And the Pelosi note is a reminder that he has a past political history of supporting both sides of the aisle.

Trump confirmed to POLITICO he wrote the note, but said it was “because I want her to do great, and I want this country to be great, and I [didn’t] want her to fail as Speaker. And I like her.”

His past campaign contributions run the spectrum of American politics, including prominent Democrats and Republicans. However, two in particular from the recent past jump out at me. First, this $50,000 donation to American Crossroads, the conservative 527 group, made on October 6, 2010 (screengrab from FEC electronic records):

The second is this $50,000 donation to Rahm Emanuel’s mayoral campaign in Chicago, made just before Christmas of last year, but after the big Republican wins in the 2010 midterms (screengrab from Illinois State Board of Elections electronic records):

You’ll recall Emanuel’s previous job was as chief of staff to President Obama – the man Trump would be running against if he commits to the 2012 presidential race. If Trump decides to jump into the 2012 Republican sweepstakes, I assume this is an issue that will come up from other campaigns.

My friend and former colleague John Mercurio makes a good argument for why Bobby Jindal won’t even run for the GOP nomination in 2012.

Louisiana chooses its governors in off years, which means Jindal, who has already announced plans to seek a second term, will likely have his name on a state ballot in November 2011. That’s just a few short months before Iowa caucusgoers will cast the first votes of the 2012 primaries. Other Republican candidates already will have spent months participating in a dizzying round of televised debates and town-hall forums. (Remember how Fred Thompson was widely panned for joining the 2008 race too late? He announced in September 2007.)

The prospect of Jindal seeking both offices in 2011 would require political contortions the likes of which even he would be hard-pressed to perform. Imagine him urging Louisiana voters, still recovering from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, to support his re-election so he can spend the next year as an absentee governor, traveling the country as a presidential candidate. He could deny charges, likely to come from all corners, that he’s using his re-election bid as a launching pad for the White House. But if he reverses course after November and runs for president, he would face the impossible task of assembling a last-minute national organization at the same time he’s suffering a fatal blow to his credibility.

Elsewhere, the Bobby Jindal/Kenneth the Page comparisons have gone viral. Check out this clip:

Jindal should consider himself fortunate that Jack McBrayer (the actor who plays Kenneth the Page on 30 Rock) doesn’t bear an uncanny physical resemblance to him. Otherwise, Jindal would be getting the full Tina Fey/Sarah Palin treatment. On the other hand, Ben Smith pointed out the new Facebook group calling for Kal Penn (of Harold and Kumar fame) to play Bobby Jindal on SNL.

Update: Andrew Sullivan nails it — “All that really happened here is that Jindal – stylistically and substantively – had the worst debut on national television of anyone since Palin’s encounter with Katie Couric.”

I included the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as one of my winners from the 2008 election because of their successful role in getting Proposition 8 passed in California in a year that for the most part was a political disaster for social conservatives. Marc Ambinder makes an interesting observation:

By bankrolling opposition to same-sex marriage in California, the LDS church has earned some serious cred in social conservative circles.

And the Prop 8 protesters — those who are now protesting the church — are only fueling the impression that when it comes to standing up for “traditional marriage,” the Mormon Church is where it’s at.

This development has fascinating implications for 2012.

Utah (where LDS is based) is one of the most solidly Republican states in the country. It may not replace the religious right which is largely based in southern states, but it could tip the scales in favor of one candidate or another. Who benefits most from the LDS’s new political muscle? Mitt Romney.

The New Yorker’s George Packer has written a brutal analysis of the past, present and future of the conservative movement over the last 40 years.