Steven Rattner, the Wall Street financier who oversaw the Obama Administration's successful rescues of General Motors and Chrysler, now comes to the aid of some other beleaguered members of corporate America — Mitt Romney in his former role as a private-equity CEO, and Bain Capital, the company the Republican presidential candidate once ran.
While GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney savored his second consecutive win in the Republican nominating process, those who finished behind him in New Hampshire also continued on to South Carolina. They are hoping that it is in the Palmetto state where they can get his campaign to to stumble before it becomes unstoppable.
The annual winter meeting of the Republican National Committee got under way in New Orleans, just hours after Mitt Romney won New Hampshire's Republican presidential primary. The Republican presidential candidate has won the first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, and leads polls in South Carolina.
Been reading a lot lately about how Mitt Romney is unexciting. Exciting is in the eye, mind, and heart of the beholder, I guess. But I’m not sure we want or need a candidate who’s all that exciting. Bieber Fever is for pop music, you know?
There was a lot of excitement surrounding Barack Obama in 2008 — the Messiah, the One. People regularly fainted at his rallies. Remember?
Keep reading this post . . .
To win just under 40 percent of the vote in a primary with five active candidates is pretty impressive, even for a candidate like Mitt Romney, who started off with significant advantages in New Hampshire.
Yes, he is well known there because he was governor of next-door Massachusetts, had run before, and owns a house on Lake Winnipesaukee. But the exit poll indicates Romney held his own among independents, tea-party supporters, and late deciders.
Keep reading this post . . .
To win just under 40 percent of the vote in a primary with five active candidates is pretty impressive, even for a candidate like Mitt Romney, who started off with significant advantages in New Hampshire.Yes, he is well-known there because he was governor of next-door Massachusetts, had run before and owns a house on Lake Winnipesaukee. But the exit poll indicates Romney held his own among independents, tea party supporters and late deciders.He didn't lose ground in the heat of the campaign, despite his ragged performance in Sunday's debate (he was obviously not candid about why he...
By David Gibson
Religion News Service
(RNS) Just days after Rick Santorum surged to a virtual tie for first in the Iowa caucuses, conservative activists at an invitation-only summit along the South Carolina coast were buzzing about the former Pennsylvania senator's sudden and promising breakthrough.
Deal Hudson, who directed Catholic outreach for George W. Bush's White House before starting the conservative group Catholic Advocate, was among the movers and shakers at the annual Awakening gathering on Kiawah Island. He was especially pleased to hear such praise for a fellow Catholic -- until Hudson realized something odd.
"There were a number of knowledgeable people who were very enthusiastic about Rick but didn't know he was Catholic," Hudson said with a quiet laugh. "I was really surprised."
To be fair, those conservative kingmakers may not be the only ones who don't know what church Santorum attends, much less care. But that, some say, is exactly the point.
Polls in Iowa showed that rank-and-file evangelicals threw most of their support to Santorum, a devout Catholic, rather than either of Santorum's evangelical rivals, Rep. Michele Bachmann or Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
And in South Carolina, where the Jan. 21 primary is shaping up to be a make-or-break date for social conservatives who want to slow Mitt Romney's momentum, evangelicals make up about 60 percent of likely voters. Surveys already show Santorum already spiking to a strong second place behind Romney.
Santorum "is exactly what we need to bring the country back -- and I think he can beat Obama," Lynn Waldrop, a Greenville, S.C., homemaker and born-again Christian, told Reuters.
In addition, many of the dozens of evangelical leaders set to meet in Texas this weekend in a last-ditch effort to settle on a social conservative candidate are reportedly tilting strongly toward Santorum.
Whether any of this will slow or derail Romney's path to the nomination is uncertain. But it does raise the broader question of why a Pennsylvania-born grandson of Italian immigrants who attends Mass in Latin is emerging as the favorite of conservative Protestants.
The answers help explain not only the political dynamics of the current race, but point to a generational shift from the 1960 campaign, when John F. Kennedy had to reassure evangelicals like Billy Graham that he wasn't too Catholic to be president.
"Now here we are, 50 years later, and evangelicals are not only willing to vote for Roman Catholic candidates but frankly they are flocking to Roman Catholic candidates" like Santorum and Newt Gingrich, said Ralph Reed, head of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a top evangelical political activist.
"This is a big moment in American religious and political history."
Both Reed and Hudson note that Santorum's appeal to conservative Protestants isn't really -- or even mainly -- a case of mistaken religious identity. Plenty of evangelicals know Santorum is a practicing Catholic; it's just that it doesn't matter the way it once did.
What's really important is that Santorum espouses their values, because in a multi-front culture war, an "ecumenism of the trenches" prevails over Reformation-era disputes about doctrine. So when Santorum makes full-throated opposition to gay marriage and abortion his signature issues, he is effectively singing from the evangelical hymnal.
"Rick Santorum may technically not call himself an evangelical but he is definitely one when it comes to social issues, so don't get too caught up in the title of 'Roman Catholic,'" David Brody, chief political correspondent for Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, wrote after the Iowa vote.
"Santorum is an evangelical at heart."
He may also be more of an evangelical in policy. Indeed, if Santorum's opposition to gay marriage and abortion are in sync with the Catholic bishops, those positions resonate far more with conservative Protestants than they do with the average Catholic.
Moreover, Santorum openly splits with the hierarchy -- espousing positions traditionally associated with evangelicals -- in his opposition to immigration reform and universal health care, and his support for aggressive military action abroad and steep spending cuts at home.
Santorum's religious rhetoric is just as important in cultivating his evangelical appeal, and that is something new for Catholic politicians.
He has "an evangelical style," Hudson notes, which can be seen in his references to home-schooling his children, his support for teaching creationism in public schools, and his regular testimony about his personal relationship with Jesus. (Santorum adds that the U.S. needs to have "a Jesus candidate.")
Santorum is also a youthful 53, and a squeaky-clean family man. He has a large family, and relates affecting stories about a son that died at birth and about his youngest daughter, who suffers from a terminal illness.
That kind of confessional, public piety has generally been foreign to Catholics, and remains so for many of the older generation. During the 2004 campaign, Democratic nominee John Kerry struggled to make "God talk" while George W. Bush spoke comfortably about his faith.
Yet Santorum is not an outlier. Rather, he represents a new kind of religious hybrid, the result of a kind of cross-pollination between evangelicals and Catholics that has taken place in recent decades.
That interaction began in earnest in the 1980s as conservative evangelicals and conservative Catholics began collaborating in the battle against abortion. The visibility and popularity of the late Pope John Paul II gave it a boost.
"It's the influence of the John Paul II revival in the Catholic Church which encouraged a 'less urbane' rhetoric about personal faith," Hudson said.
That Catholic influence went the other way as well. A host of prominent conservative Christians -- including Hudson, who used to be a Southern Baptist -- have converted to Catholicism in recent years. Gingrich is one, and Santorum himself helped former GOP senator and current Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback become a Catholic. Jeb Bush is also a convert, and that has all contributed to a sense of cultural familiarity among conservative believers.
Evangelicals who did not actually become Catholic nonetheless began borrowing some Catholic concepts -- about social justice and natural law, for example -- from Catholicism, and deployed terms like John Paul's "culture of life."
In fact, Bush used Catholic terms so frequently that Santorum called him "the first Catholic president of the United States" -- a quip that underscores the evangelical-Catholic bond while tweaking Kennedy-style Catholics who Santorum and others criticize for privatizing their faith.
Reed, who cut his political teeth in the 1990s as head of the Christian Coalition, notes that no candidate will win evangelical hearts and minds (or votes) just by using the right words -- just ask Michele Bachmann. A candidate must be seen as faithful but also electable, and Santorum -- or others who follow him -- may be able to make that double-barreled argument.
Ironically, the downside for Santorum and the new generation of "hybrid" Catholics is that in winning votes from the religious right, they may also be losing the support of fellow Catholics who don't recognize themselves or their faith in the stump speeches of these staunch conservatives.
The poll numbers so far reflect Santorum's difficulty in winning Catholic backing: in New Hampshire on Tuesday (Jan. 10), Santorum's evangelical support (23 percent) was nearly three times his support among Catholics (8 percent). While there may be a way for him to secure the Republican nomination without his fellow Catholics, winning the general election without them could be near impossible.
WASHINGTON -- At the peak of Newt Gingrich's surge in the polls in early December, the former House speaker answered a question about his past mistakes and personal shortcomings by suggesting that he had mellowed in his later years.
"I've said upfront openly I've made mistakes at times. I've had to go to God for forgiveness. I've had to seek reconciliation," Gingrich said, implicitly referencing his two extramarital affairs. "But I'm also a 68-year-old grandfather. And I think people have to measure who I am now and whether I'm a person they can trust."
For a brief moment, it appeared that Gingrich was a different person. Good Newt -- calm, patient, yet still shrewd and fiery -- was beating out impetuous, impulsive Bad Newt.
But after that moment in early December, Gingrich's forbearance wore thin under a barrage of attack ads on Iowa TV sets from an outside group supporting Mitt Romney. And now, his own attacks on Romney over the past week or so have recast Gingrich once again as a politician incapable of controlling his anger when provoked.
More damaging in the long term, conservatives see Gingrich's assault on Romney's career in private equity as the undoing of years of painstaking work to repair his image and reputation.
"I think he's hurt himself pretty badly. He had rehabilitated himself so much after his speakership, to the point where he was a credible candidate for president," said a top GOP leader, who asked not to be identified. Gingrich's latest broadsides against Romney have "just reinforced the perception that he's erratic, but also that he lacks conviction or principles," the Republican added.
"It's like the modern-day equivalent of getting off the back of Air Force One," he said, referring to the infamous incident in which an angry Speaker Gingrich took a hard line in 1995 budget talks at least in part he said because he'd been asked to get off President Bill Clinton's plane by the back stairs. "First the incessant whining, and then the lashing out. It's all seen in that context."
Rich Galen, a onetime press secretary for Gingrich, said that his former boss's actions in the presidential campaign are "going to be very dangerous for his reputation long-term."
"It will continue the same reputation he had, which is that Newt is undisciplined and vengeful," Galen observed. "For these exact reasons, I don't think he has the skill set to be president of the United States."
"The new Newt lasted about a week and a half, and we're back to the angry Newt, which has not served him well," Galen said.
Gingrich has been publicly rebuked by conservative TV talkers Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, as well as by outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and National Review and anti-tax groups such as the Club For Growth.
Former George W. Bush administration adviser Peter Wehner wrote Tuesday in Commentary that "many of us who are conservative have expressed our concerns about Gingrich because of his chronic indiscipline, his grandiosity, his erratic behavior."
"His pendulum can swing very widely and very quickly. This last week is roughly what we had in mind. And it has reinforced our belief he simply does not have the temperament to be America's commander-in-chief," Wehner wrote.
Limbaugh lambasted Gingrich for a second straight day on Wednesday after ripping him for much of the show on Tuesday, hours before Romney won going away in the New Hampshire primary.
A wide swath of conservatism has chastised Gingrich for attacking profit-making, calling it an assault on capitalism. But Limbaugh went a step further and called Gingrich out for seeking revenge on Romney. A super PAC supporting Romney had waged a relentless TV ad war in Iowa last month against Gingrich, erasing the Georgia Republican's lead in the polls.
Gingrich spent the first few weeks of December complaining about those ads and promising to run a positive campaign in response. But a super PAC backing him has now received $5 million from Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and is pouring $3.4 million into South Carolina to blanket the airwaves with ads hitting Romney ahead of the Jan. 21 primary.
The former speaker's own rhetoric heated up in recent days ahead of the ad buy and the release online of a 28-minute propaganda film casting Romney as a "predatory corporate raider" who left a "trail of wreckage" in the wake of his business deals.
Gingrich was taken to task by a voter in Spartanburg, S.C., on Wednesday, who said he had "missed the target" with his slams on Romney's career in private equity. He told the voter that he agreed with that critique, but his campaign pushed back later in the day against reports that their candidate was backing away from a full-throated criticism of Romney.
"This issue at hand is neither about Bain Capital, private equity firms, nor about capitalism. It is about Mitt Romney's judgment and character," said Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond. "It was Governor Romney's decision to base his candidacy, in large part, on his background as a portfolio manager. Thus, it is entirely legitimate to ask questions about whether he is accurately presenting how he conducted himself during that career."
Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren raised a stunning $5.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 in her bid to unseat Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), according to the Boston Globe. The number signals how her candidacy has galvanized Democrats eager to retake the seat, which Brown won in an upset special election in 2010 following the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Brown raised $3.2 million during the last three months of 2011, but has a larger war chest at $12.8 million. His cash figure is the largest of any Massachusetts candidate for statewide office at this stage of the race.
The competitiveness of the race and high cost of the Massachusetts media market make strong fundraising essential. Brown and his Democratic opponent Martha Coakley collectively spent $20.6 million in the 2010 special election.
Rick Santorum's unlikely success in Iowa last week was very bad news for fellow GOP presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, as it stole their spotlight in the race to be the social conservative candidate. Santorum's victory, however very good news for fans of the sweater vest; it put the national heat lamp squarely on the chest-hugging fashion choice long beloved by dads and people who hate shopping.
The wool, sleeveless garment has become Santorum's sartorial trademark, the center of his bible study style. A solid, paternal choice for his Focus on the Family-approved campaign, the former Senator has made jokes on the campaign trail about his vest, and brave news reporters have focused intently on his rotating collection of form-fitting fuzzies (it even has its own Twitter feed). But in the interest of accuracy, the clear goal of all presidential election coverage, it should be noted that Santorum is less a trailblazer than he is a trend follower when it comes to the sweater vest.
Hollywood has long relied on the sweater vest to outfit some of its most outlandish characters. From the down home dad (Bill Cosby) to the nerd (Rick Moranis in "Little Shop of Horrors") to even the cool guy (Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry, Brad Pitt in "Inglorious Basterds"), the silver and small screens are a bastion for sweater vest aficionados.
In the spirit of both award season and election season, we've gone back and chosen some of the greatest TV and film sweater vests of the past forty years. Vote for your favorite, or suggest your own in the comments.
In a Jan. 5, 2012, Los Angeles Times article, Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, accused President Barack Obama of repeatedly raising taxes. "President Obama has raised taxes 19 times," she said, "stunting our economic growth and leading us further down the path toward a European-style entitlement society." A reader asked us to check whether Obama has really raised taxes 19 times. We began by requesting the list of 19 tax increases from the Romney campaign. They quickly complied. Because the definition of "tax" can ...>> More
Looks like Sarah Palin isn't the only member of the family going rogue these days.
The former Alasksa governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate told Fox Business Network's Eric Bolling Tuesday night that her husband Todd's decision to endorse Newt Gingrich for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination was made on his own.
"First dude went rogue," Palin said when asked if she had been consulted prior to the endorsement. "And I respect him for doing that. Todd is all about hard hats and steel-toed boots and getting people to work."
Palin continued, "Todd obviously believes Newt Gingrich represents more of that connectivity to the working class."
Sarah Palin has yet to endorse a candidate in the primary.
New Hampshire results should be trickling in and only one candidate -- Jon Huntsman -- really got any support from a super PAC. Huntsman's super PAC, funded by his billionaire daddy, is one of numerous examples of the ludicrously defined "independence" that super PACs operate under. HuffPost's Jason Linkins gives the media a lesson in how to deal with super PACs before the January 24 primary in South Carolina, which will undoubtedly be the full scale super PAC World War to Iowa's Poland and New Hampshire's Norway: "In an ironic twist, the rule that ostensibly disallows coordination probably does more to prevent accountability than it does to promote it. No amount of Gingrich outrage could lead former Massachusetts Gov. Romney to request that his super PAC refrain from harsh attacks even if Romney wanted it to, which he doesn't. ... The rule, which ostensibly exists as a means of public assurance, is an essential part of the mechanism that enables the dirty pool in the first place. But the whole idea that there is no coordination strains credulity. ... And that's basically where the whole issue just becomes one of those classic examples of a thing that everyone in the world of political reporting knows but -- absent definitive proof -- won't actually say. ... The notion that there's no coordination going on between candidate and super PAC is transparent bullshit." [HuffPost]
The Republican Party is arguing in court that corporations should be able to give direct contributions to candidates for office. University of California-Irvine professor Rick Hasen says at his Election Law Blog that this could be another piece of poor optics fitting into a narrative of an out-of-touch party, "Especially if Romney is the nominee, expect this to be rolled into Romney's 'corporations are people, my friend' line, the Bain Capital stuff, and the recent 'I like to fire people gaffe,' with Occupy undertones, for Democrats (or their super PAC surrogates) to make an anti-corporate, Populist message for Obama's reelection."
While the RNC is not arguing for unlimited corporate contributions to candidates and parties, Democracy 21's Fred Wertheimer points out that corporations are not governed by aggregate contribution laws: "Under current contribution limits, a single corporation could contribute $61,600 to each of the three national Republican party committees in a two-year cycle, or a total of $184,800. The same corporation could contribute $20,000 to each of the 50 Republican state parties in a two-year cycle, or a total of $1 million dollars. All of this money could be raised by and transferred to the RNC since there are no limits on transfers among party committees. The overall total that could go to the RNC is $1,184,800 per corporation per election cycle."
Newt Gingrich has a full page ad in the Union Leader hitting Romney in New Hampshire. [HuffPost]
Newt is also out with a brand new ad knocking Romney for supporting abortion. There have been remarkably few ads attacking Romney in this election. [HuffPost]
Just in time for the campaign to head South, Gingrich has a new attack line against Mitt Romney: "Massachusetts Moderate."
On why Sheldon Adelson came in to rescue Newt Gingrich with a $5 million super PAC contribution: "Several people with knowledge of Mr. Adelson's decision to donate to Winning Our Future said that it was born out of a two-decade friendship with Mr. Gingrich, his advocacy on behalf of Israel and his turbulent months as a presidential candidate." [NYT]
Behind the bidding war for the anti-Bain documentary that will be a focus of ads from the pro-Gingrich super PAC funded by Adelson. Ad buys have already been made totaling $1.4 million in South Carolina.
Joshua Green reviews the film for Bloomberg News. Green writes that the documentary includes the following line from Romney: "Make a profit. That's what it's all about, right?"
Democracy 21 calls on the Justice Department to monitor presidential candidate super PACs.
Help us populate our list of campaign videos. Send any notable TV, radio or web ads that you see to Fundrace. Send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Committee: Newt Gingrich for President
Candidate opposed: Mitt Romney
Spot: "Changed?" -- Gingrich goes after Romney for supporting pro-choice policies while acting as governor of Massachusetts. The female narrator of the ad says, "He governed pro-abortion. Romney appointed a pro-abortion judge, expanded access to abortion pills, put Planned Parenthood on a state medical board but failed to put a pro-life group on the same board."
Committee: Jon Huntsman for President
Spot: "Live Free or Die" -- This video represents Huntsman's closing argument in New Hampshire, which is a segment from Sunday's televised debate. In the video Huntsman derides the lack of trust and unity in the country. Huntsman explains his vision by parrying the rhetoric of his opponents, "It's not about taking on different groups and vilifying them for whatever reason. It's about projecting a vision for a more hopeful tomorrow."
Buy: None. Just a web video.
Committee: American Bridge 21st Century
Spot: "Romney's Ugly Coronation" -- The Democratic super PAC links Romney to Karl Rove through a host of clips featuring Rove praising the candidate or deflecting criticism of him.
Buy: None. Just a web video.
Committee: Newt Gingrich for President
Candidate opposed: Mitt Romney
Spot: "Pious Baloney" -- Few of the Republican candidates like pork -- earmarks -- but Newt Gingrich really hates Mitt Romney's "pious baloney." This video features a litany of Romney lines from Sunday's debate along with a Baloney Meter to judge how much cold cut meat the former Massachusetts governor is spewing. It also includes Gingrich's new attack against Romney, "Massachusetts Moderate."
Buy: None. Just a web video.
TRACKING INDEPENDENT SPENDING IN THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE:
These numbers represent spending by independent groups, like super PACs and non-profits, to support or oppose a particular candidate for the presidency in 2012. Fundrace will update this spending daily to help show which candidates are gaining from the proliferation of independent groups in this coming election.
Newt Gingrich (R), $982,082 to support, $4,470,935 to oppose. (+$10,424)
Rick Perry (R), $3,798,524 to support, $0 to oppose.
Jon Huntsman (R), $2,453,204 to support, $0 to oppose.
Ron Paul (R), $889,039 to support, $106,982 to oppose. (+$39,609)
Rick Santorum (R), $832,436 to support, $2,407 to oppose.
Mitt Romney (R), $475,000 to support, $335,302 to oppose.
Herman Cain (R), $462,217 to support, $0 to oppose.
Barack Obama (D), $0 to support, $429,919 to oppose.
Gary Johnson (R), $518 to support, $0 to oppose.
RECENT INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES
Restore Our Future, $4,983 to oppose Newt Gingrich for President in South Carolina.
Restore Our Future, $5,441 to oppose Newt Gingrich for President in New Hampshire.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, $76,794 to support Suzanne Bonamici for Congress in Oregon First District.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, $76,794 to oppose Rob Cornilles for Congress in Oregon First District.
Endorse Liberty, $39,609 to support Ron Paul for President.
RECENT POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE REGISTRATIONS
Mara and Day PAC, Washington, D.C., Treasurer: Timothy W. Day.
Anonymous PAC, Arvada, Colo., Treasurer: Christopher Scott Wintemute.
Send tips, hints, submissions, rumors to HuffPost Fundrace at email@example.com.
A new PPP poll shows Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert edging out Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman in South Carolina's upcoming GOP primary, despite the fact that the comedian is not actually on the ballot.
The new poll, released on Tuesday, shows five percent of primary voters in the Palmetto State picking Colbert, while four percent choose Huntsman. Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer also trailed Colbert with just one percent of primary voters supporting him.
"Even if Huntsman finishes second in New Hampshire tonight it doesn't speak well for his prospects down the line that he's running behind Stephen Colbert," Tom Jensen of PPP wrote on the polling organization's blog.
As The Atlantic Wire points out, it is unclear whether voters intended to vote for Colbert's conservative TV persona or the real Stephen Colbert.
The 'Colbert Report' star finished sixth overall in the poll. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney received 27 percent, followed by Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 23 percent, Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum with 18 percent, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) with eight percent and Texas Gov. Rick Perry with 7 percent.
South Carolina has an open primary, where Democrats are allowed to vote in the Republican nominating contest.
"Colbert's key, had he been allowed on the ballot, would have been to draw out Democratic voters in the state's open primary," Jensen wrote.
He continued, "My guess is if he'd really put some effort into it he could have won 10-15% of the vote and nabbed himself a fourth place finish there."
PPP was inspired to include Colbert in the poll after the television personality, a South Carolina native, attempted to buy the primary's naming rights in December with funds from his political action committee, Colbert Super PAC. Colbert also attempted to get on the state's Democratic primary ballot in 2008, but party officials voted him down.