Monthly Archives: May 2011

Does the “T” in TPaw stand for “Triangulation”?

In the roll-out of his Presidential campaign, Tim Pawlenty has tried to clearly differentiate himself from Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman on his left and Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin on his right.  He has been careful to avoid statements that would draw fire from the Tea Party, while preserving negotiating room for himself from orthodox Tea Party positions.  He has said that he is the one candidate who can unite all of the different elements in the Republican party.  It is becoming clear that he intends to do this by following a strategy of triangulation on critical issues.

Let’s take two issues as examples:  Ethanol and Medicare.  Romney is all for ethanol subsidies, but the Tea Party position is to abolish all subsidies, including ethanol.  Pawlenty was widely hailed by conservatives for opposing ethanol and “farm” subsidies.  In fact, upon close examination, he has proposed to “phase out” the subsidy for ethanol and all other energy sources.  This “phasing out” has no timeline.  In fact, if not renewed, the ethanol subsidy will expire next year.  He also lumps this subsidy in with subsidies for the gas and oil industry which are opposed by Democrats as well as subsidies for “green” industries supported by the Democrats.  And he announces his position in the state of Iowa.  It is indeed a clever position.

On Medicare, he would sign Paul Ryan’s proposal into law, given a choice between the Ryan proposal and doing nothing.  But at the same time he is presenting his own proposal (so that there is a choice of proposals), which will include seniors being able to choose the current pay-for-services program.  In other words, Pawlenty will not end Medicare as we know it, but provide options that reward good choices.  Gingrich, on the other hand, called Ryan’s proposal “right wing social engineering”, and Romney has refused to endorse the Ryan plan by side-stepping the issue.  Ryan himself has criticized Pawlenty’s approach, but Pawlenty is being congratulated both for supporting Ryan’s proposal and for taking on the issue of Medicare and entitlements–in the state of Florida.  Another clever position.

Whether a strategy of triangulation proves to be a winner is still to be determined.  Romney may have momentum and conservatives may want orthodoxy.  But, for now, it is winning Pawlenty kudus from conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity while garnering favorable commentary in the MSM.  This is truly a remarkable accomplishment.  I can’t wait to see the Pawlenty federal budget proposal.  Expect it to be somewhere between the 2011 Budget Compromise, which he opposed, and the Republican Study Group proposal, which would get us to a balanced budget.  Expect it to achieve the same numerical reduction as Ryan’s budget, but with different (more palatable and more ambiguous) priorities.  Expect it to get rave reviews.


Pawlenty — Engler 2012

It”s May and Tim Pawlenty has finally wrapped up the Republican nomination.  Now he turns to the task of selecting a Vice Presidential running mate.  One thing is for sure, none of his competitors for the nomination will be considered.  Bachmann might be a tempting choice, but she is also from Minnesota and therefore disqualified.  The media is pushing for him to choose Christie or Rubio, but both have publically and privately taken their names out of the picture.  At any rate, Pawlenty doesn’t want to upstaged by his running mate. In addition to Christie, several other governors seem willing and able–Haley Barbour, Scott Walker, and John Kasich–to list three.  But all have their own baggage.  Besides Rubio, a number of Senators come to mind–John Thune, Pat Toomey, Jim DeMint–but what does any Senator really bring to the ticket.

What Pawlenty needs in a running mate is someone who will not outshine Pawlenty; someone who is serious and will be taken seriously; someone who has executive experience; someone who is older and will , like Cheney, add gravitas to the ticket; and someone who will help in the Midwest battleground states.  The ideal candidate for Tim Pawlenty to choose as his running mate is —John Engler.  Engler was governor of Michigan for three terms from 1990 to 2002. He cut both personal and corporate income taxes and created hundreds of thousands of jobs.   He won re-election twice in landslides with over 60% of the vote in what was then a very blue state.  Since leaving office he has served as President of the National Association of Manufacturers and is currently President of the Business Roundtable.  He will be able to credibly reinforce Pawlenty economic, small government,  job creation message.  And if he can carry his home state of Michigan, which is considered in play, the election is pretty much over.  Even if he can’t carry Michigan, he is widely known throughout the Midwest and helps Pawlenty in Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, and Pennsylvania as well as Minnesota.  Winning Ohio is essential and winning an any other Midwest state should give Pawlenty an electoral college majority.   At 63, Engler is old enough, but not too old.  More importantly, like Pawlenty, he is a Washington outsider–in contrast to Joe Biden who is the ultimate Washington insider.  This isn’t a flashy ticket–but it’s a winning ticket.  Pawlenty – Engler 2012.  Republicans could do a lot worse.

Did Newt really say that?

“I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.”  Meet the Press, May15,2011.  Of course everyone knows that statement was made by Newt Gingrich on Meet the Press about Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal, but here are 10 other statements he’s made since becoming a Presidential candidate.

1.  If Democrats use his Medicare statement against Republicans:  “So let me say on the record, any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood.”  On the Record with Greta van Susteren, May 17, 2011

2.  Illegal Immigration:  “I’m looking seriously at the way the Selective Service Act used to work in the 1940s and World War II where a local Selective Service board who knew the local people made the decisions…because I think we are going to want to find some way to deal with the people who are here to distinguish between those who have no ties to the United States and therefore you can deport them at minimum human cost, and those who, in fact, may have earned the right to become legal, but not citizens.” Town Hall Meeting, Waterloo, Iowa, May 19, 2011

3.  On his Tiffany and Company bill for $250,000 to $500,000:  “Well, go, you go talk to Tiffany’s. All I’m telling you is we– we are very frugal. We, in fact, live within our budget. We owe nothing.”  Face the Nation, May 22, 2011.

4.  More on the Tiffany’s bill:  “People should be free to spend their own money the way they see fit.”  Manchester, New Hampshire, May 25, 2011.

5.  On unpaid taxes in 4 states:  “I’ve run four businesses over 12 years. We’ve paid millions of dollars in taxes. There were, I think, four or five places where largely stuff had been lost in the mail coming to us. We didn’t even know we had the liens.”   Meet the Press, May 15, 2011.

6.  On being a Washington Insider:  “I’m not a Washington figure, despite the years I’ve been here.” Reporters Breakfast, Washington Press Corps, May 23, 2011.

7.  On cheating on his first two wives:  “There’s no question that at times in my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and that things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”  Christian Broadcasting Network, March 2011.

8.  On why he’s running for President:   “I just think my background is such that, in terms of substance, I think I can help lead the country,”  Des Moines Iowa, May 16, 2011

9.  His 2 biggest mistakes:  “My two biggest mistakes were being undisciplined and that I didn’t listen enough.  I am working very diligently to be part of a team and to be sure that the team leaders have a lot of input, along with me.”  Washington Times, May 10, 2011.

10.   Why he keeps getting in trouble:  “I’ve got to be more careful and make certain that it’s virtually impossible to misunderstand what I’m saying.”  Concord, New Hampshire, May 26, 2011.

Cain takes over first place in latest Zogby poll

Herman Cain moved into first place in the latest Zogby poll with the support of 19% of the likely Republican voters surveyed.  Chris Christie, who has repeatedly said that he’s not running, slipped from first to second place with 16%.  Rounding out the top five were Mitt Romney, 11%; Ron Paul, 9%; and Sarah Palin, 6%.  Support for Cain increased from 14% in the previous poll, taken two weeks ago.  The survey was taken May 20 – 23, and reflects the decisions not to run of Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump.

The poll provided more bad news for Newt Gingrich.  Gingrich garnered only 3% support, falling behind Bachmann (5%) and Pawlenty (4%) and tied for eighth place with Rick Santorum. He was in 5th place at 7% in the previous poll.  In addition, Gingrich had the highest negative rating with 17% of likely Republican voters saying that they “would never vote for” him.  He also did worse in the head-to-head match-up with Obama among all of the likely voters surveyed, losing 48% to 30%.

The good news for Republicans was that among all voters surveyed, only 42% thought Obama “deserves to be re-elected” while 52% thought we “need someone new”.  Christie did the best against Obama polling in a statistical dead-heat (Obama,45%-Christie, 44%).  Romney and Pawlenty were tied for second place in the head-to-head match-ups with Obama.

The Left’s List of 10 Presidential Candidates for 2016 or “So you thought the Republican field was weak?”

GreginFla suggested that since I posted a list of “Ten More Republicans who aren’t running for President” ( that I should publish a list of potential Democratic candidates in 2016.  He asked: Do they have anyone who could run in 2012 or 2016 besides Obama ?  The implication is that the left would have a difficult time coming up with an acceptable candidate.  With apologies to the current field of Republican candidates, here’s my take on the potential Democratic field in 2016 that will challenge the yet-to-be-determined incumbent conservative Republican President:

Ed Rendell: The former governor of Pennsylvania is the Democrat’s Mitt Romney–clearly a front-runner, but too moderate (he’s appeared on FoxNews repeatedly) to win the nomination.

Rahm Emanuel:  Mayor of Chicago and Obama’s former Chief of Staff, he engineered the Democratic take-over of Congress in 2006 and like Newt Gingrich is a lightning rod for controversy.  His mouth will repeatedly get him in trouble, if he runs.

Andrew Cuomo:  The governor of New York who, unlike his father, will not hesitate to run.  The true lefties will question his efforts to trim state government and take on the state employees unions, asking ”Is he liberal enough?”  He doesn’t have the charisma of his father and will generate comparisons with Tim Pawlenty.

Dennis Kucinich:  The serial lefty candidate who has become the Ron Paul of the Democratic Party.  His proposal to impeach Obama for the bombing of Libya will not be forgiven.

Russ Feingold:  He lost his Senate seat in an election year that was very bad for his party, like Rick Santorum for the Republicans.  Everything a socialist would want in a President.  The only real question is whether John McCain will endorse him.

Chris Matthews:  The media darling of the left, but can he send a thrill up anyone’s leg like Herman Cain does for conservatives?

Debbie Wasserman Schultz:  Outspoken ultra-liberal Congresswoman from Florida and Chair of the Democratic National Committee, the Michelle Bachmann of the Democratic Party.

Charlie Crist:  Elected the Republican governor of Florida, but a politician who would rather switch than fight.  Why is he running?  Like Buddy Roemer, his candidacy will go no where.

Jerry Brown:  Governor Moonbeam, the perfect answer to Gary Johnson’s bid for the Republican nomination

Hillary Clinton:  She is leaving as Secretary of State either to spend her “golden years” with Bill or to crank up a 2016 campaign.  Like Sarah Palin, she may keep everyone guessing until the last minute.  But if she does run, she will be a formidable candidate and a strong favorite for the nomination.  Every liberals dream candidate (next to Obama, of course).  However, In the end, she’ll decide not to run.

(When) Will Nikki Haley endorse Pawlenty?

There was this moment early in the first Republican debate in Greenville, SC:  Juan Williams asked, “Governor Pawlenty, despite 10 years of the Bush tax cuts the unemployment rate here in South Carolina was 9.6% in March. Do you have any ideas for stimulating the job market beyond continued tax cuts?”  It was a “gotcha” question.
Pawlenty responded generically: “I sure do, Juan. It is an important question. As I travel the country people are worried. I grew up in a meat-packing town not unlike Greenville here in South Carolina, that used to have textile mills. When at an early age those plants shutdown I saw the face of jobless and economic worry in my hometown and my own family. I’ve seen this. I’ve lived it. We have a situation where the best thing that we can to for our fellow citizens is do those things that are going to make it more likely that jobs are going to grow.”

And then, Pawlenty swung for the fences and hit a grand slam:  ”In South Carolina I’ll give you a good example, you have this administration through the national labor relation board telling a private company they cannot relocate to South Carolina and provide jobs in this state. And they are good paying jobs and needed jobs. It is a preposterous decision and position of this administration. I want to make it clear. The idea that the federal government can tell a business where they can be is a new line this administration has crossed. It is outrageous.”

The cameras panned to Nikki Haley, Governor of South Carolina, who was applauding, smiling, and nodding in agreement.  After the debate, she told reporters: “I applaud him [Pawlenty] for responding to the lawsuit against Boeing, and I challenge every other candidate to do the same,”

Four years ago, when she was a state representative, Haley endorsed Mitt Romney, but he exited the race just before the South Carolina primary.  This time Haley has made it clear that she believes the Republican nominee should be a governor, but not necessarily Romney.  She recently hammered Newt Gingrich for “undermining” Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal, saying that “The people of South Carolina support conservatives who are trying to push real change, and the people of South Carolina expect their presidential candidates to back them up when they show courage.”  She has had kind words for both Haley Barbour and Mike Huckabee, but both have since decided not to run.  She was endorsed by Sarah Palin, but has made it clear that she did not seek Palin’s endorsement and has had little contact with her since the election. That leaves Pawlenty.

Haley’s endorsement of Pawlenty, particularly if it comes sooner rather than later, would be a major boost to his campaign.  It would likely generate more support and more money.  The two do share a common bond–Pawlenty pollster, Jon Lerner, was an advisor to Haley and her predecessor Mark Sanford.  The smart money in South Carolina is betting that Haley will endorse Pawlenty, although she is being advised to remain neutral.  Since South Carolina is one of the three big early prizes and winning Iowa and New Hampshire may be out of reach, Pawlenty needs Haley’s endorsement if he expects to carry the state. Expect him to get it.  The question is really “When?”

Ten more Republicans who aren’t running for President (but who ought to)

Listed below are my favorite ten candidates for the Republican nomination who aren’t running, but who haven’t refused (as opposed to the long list of potential candidates who have refused).  They are listed in reverse order (my personal preferences), but any of these would be competitive with those who are currently pursuing the nomination and would have resumes equal to or better than the announced candidates.  So, if you’re not excited about the current Republican field, then how about ……….

10.  Rob Portman:  Newly elected Senator from Ohio, a state the Republicans must win in order to defeat Obama.  Strong background as a Congressman, U.S. Trade Representative, and Director of the Office of Management and Budget.  During his tenure at OMB, federal deficit was cut in half.

9.  Sam Brownback:  Ran unsuccessfully last time, but now has executive experience as governor of Kansas.  His candidacy would draw strong support from social conservatives and leave Rick Santorum with no rationale for running.

8.  Condaleeza Rice:  Bush’ Secretary of State, who was strongly urged to run last time, but opted out.  Strong foreign policy credentials, as opposed to the faux foreign policy resume of Jon Huntsman and noticeable lack of foreign policy experience within the rest of the field.

7., 6., & 5.  Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy & Eric Cantor:  The Republican “Young Guns” in any order, all three would make excellent candidates.   They are the key nucleus of the House Republican leadership and have offered the “new ideas” Republicans need to re-take the White House.  While Ryan is being pushed by many, Cantor, as majority leader and a Congressman from Virginia, might be the better choice.  I would take any one of the three.

4.  Tom Coburn:  Now that he’s quit the Gang of Six, Coburn has enough time on his hands to run.  He is serious about solving the debt problem, served on the President’s Bi-partisan Debt Commission, voted for the commission’s proposals (even though not agreeing with all of them), and is one of the few Republicans who understands that you have to put everything on the table, including defense cuts and additional revenue.  He is an intellectual who could hold his own in debates with Obama.

3.  Steve Forbes:  Third time could be the charm.  His new proposals to solve the deficit problem along with his continuing support for the flat tax would make him a strong contender.  His support for a return to the gold standard would drain support from Ron Paul.  A businessman who would make Republicans quickly forget Donald Trump and would present a real challenge to Mitt Romney for his core constituency.

2.  Bob McDonnell:  Governor of Virgina, a state carried by Obama that Republicans have to win.  Entered one of the first suits against Obamacare, a suit that will reach the Supreme Court during the height of the campaign.  Previously served as attorney general of Virgina with strong record against sexual predators and drug dealers.  Balanced his state’s budget and increased spending on education without raising taxes.

1.  John Kasich:  Newly elected Governor of Ohio, a must-win state.  Previously served in Congress from 1983 – 2001. As chairman of the House Budget Committe, he authored the Balanced Budget Act of 1995, which took the U.S. from deficit spending to surpluses in 4 years.  He has the extra advantage of not being a part of the Bush years.  Kasich is right on all the issues.