Friday, February 23, 2007

Softball Season Continues for One Presidential Campaign

We at the Cooler are starting to wonder when the "softball phase" with Guiliani will be over.

This is taken (portion) from an article in today's New York Times...

Mr. Giuliani recently spoke to state Republican conventions in New Hampshire and California, but he did not take questions, so there was little opportunity to address his views on social issues that set him apart from many in his party.

In the last month, Mr. Giuliani has had three brief public exchanges with groups of business people who were more interested in economic issues than social ones. At an agricultural fair in Central California he was asked about farm policy, and at a Chamber of Commerce dinner in New Hampshire, he was asked about budget deficits.

The Giuliani campaign billed the stop Wednesday in South Carolina, an early primary state, as a town-hall meeting. But only “first responders” had been invited, and Mr. Giuliani’s speech was devoted to the heroism of police officers and firefighters on Sept. 11 and the threat of terrorism.

Many of those present described themselves as religious and more conservative than Mr. Giuliani, but they also said they attended because they were fans — and after hearing him praise them as the nation’s heroes, they were in no mood to challenge him.

More on Vilsack Ending His Campaign That Never Really Started...

More from the Boston Globe/Reuters...

DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) - Democrat Tom Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa, dropped his longshot 2008 White House bid on Friday after he failed to keep pace with his big-name rivals in raising funds.

"It's really about money," Vilsack said at his Des Moines headquarters as he shut down his 3-month-old campaign operation.

Vilsack faced an uphill struggle competing in the Democratic presidential race against a heavyweight field led by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, the former first lady, and rising star Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

He battled low name recognition and typically registered in the low single digits in national polls, well behind the top tier of Clinton, Obama and 2004 vice presidential nominee John Edwards.

His early departure highlights the difficulties facing five other underdogs still battling the three big names for the Democratic nomination, as a compressed nominating calendar puts an emphasis on the ability to raise money rather than small-scale, grass roots campaigning.

BREAKING- Tom Vilsack to drop from Presidential race

Cillizza at the Fix has the scoop. Vilsack is OUT. Looks like somebody saw the writing on the wall.

Oh the horror! What will Tom Beaumont and the rest of the Register's political team write about for the next 11 months? Which of the D's still need an Iowa Director? Hey Bill Richardson, Dusky Terry is available and knows all about medium-size state Governors! How quickly will the 1000+ people on Vilsacks supporter list go to Hillary/Obama?

So many questions so little time. We'll be back with more Vilsack snark later.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A force to be reckoned with

The Cooler's favorite CCA, Sam Brownback has an interesting tie-in to the movie "Amazing Grace" coming out this weekend. Check it out over at the times caucus blog.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Boston Legal

We are watching Boston Legal at Cooler HQ and just witnessed this exchange.

Boss: Where have you been? We had a conference call at 9AM. With our former Governor no less.

James Spader's character: That's too bad. One of my clients just got arrested for stealing her dead father from a museum. Give my apologies to Mitch.

Boss: It's Mitt.

Some Pop-culture penetration for Gov. Romney.

McCain and Roe

The Hotline has a McCain clip from 1999

"But we all know, and it's obvious, that if we repeal Roe v. Wade tomorrow, thousands of young American women would be performing illegal and dangerous operations."

This quote is different than what McCain said in South Carolina over the weekend. Nonetheless he expresses support for the elimination of abortions because it is an "unpleasant and terrible procedure."

It is noticeable that Governor Romney's vehement support for defending a woman's right to choose stands in clear contrast with McCain's statement here.

UPDATE (9:17 P.M): Per the Hotline. Right before this clip begins McCain says the following. “I am proud of a 17-year voting record of pro-life positions. And I adhere to that position. I believe this issue of the repeal of Roe v. Wade is important. I favor the ultimate repeal of Roe v. Wade. But we all know, and it's obvious, that if we repeal Roe v. Wade tomorrow..."

Romney's You-tube (below) shows him aggressively supporting a woman's right to choose and balking at an endorsement by a right to life group; on the otherhand the McCain you-tube is a cut-down version of a quote where he gives an essentially pro-life position with a rhetorical caveat. One would think the "wag" (Hotline's term not ours) that opposes McCain could have unearthed a better counter video than this...

UPDATE 2: Redstate criticizes Romney folks for "cherrypick editing"

Multiple Choice Mitt

Romney in a debate in 2002 courtesy of the good folks at the Hotline

"I have been very clear on that. I will preserve and protect a women's right to choose. And I am devoted and dedicated to honoring my word in that regard. I will not change any provisions of Massachusetts' pro-choice laws."

"A woman took a bold and courageous stand in 1970 and that was that a woman had a right to make her own choice as to whether she had an abortion, that was my mom Lenore Romney."

Kevin Madden in 2007- "Governor Romney's personal experience with a family member impacted his view of the subject 15 years ago, but in grappling with the issue as an elected governor, he reconsidered the issue."

Hey Mr. Madden. 2007-2002= 5

Mitt's good on TV; bad in O.C.

A couple of Romney items for the afternoon crew. His TV ad gets applause from the Cooler staff. Well produced, strong message, he looks presidential. (Still not sure about the word "dithering" but we can overlook it). Chris Cillizza does a good job breaking down the ad and explaining Team Romney's motivation for running it. Here's the video:

Now the bad for Mitt. Last night he spoke at the Five County GOP Dinner in Orange City. Orange City is in Sioux County which has one of the highest percentages of registered R's in the whole country. It is one of the most important counties in a GOP caucus. It was this event that gave President Bush a lot of momentum 8 years ago. Bush turned out an enormous crowd which furthered the conventional wisdom that he was strong with conservatives and his election was inevitable. Romney being named the keynote speaker for this dinner was widely considered to by a coup.

But word from Northwest Iowa is that Romney didn't get the same boost from this event last night. Only about 150 tickets were sold and the attendance was somewhere near 100. For 5 counties that is a low turnout. The excitement and buzz Romney created following successful trips to Eastern Iowa was not duplicated in the Western part of the state it seems. And the news coverage he received included his problems on the issue of abortion and his vote for Paul Tsongas. Turnout is one of those funny animals. Romney had been largely successful with it until last night. The biggest question is whether the lower than expected turnout reflects a lack of interest in Romney in NW Iowa or whether it was just a function of bad timing and Romney's heavy Iowa travel schedule.

Mitts on TV, Thune picks a team, Thompson snags a Dix

Former state legislator and failed candidate for the GOP nomination in the 1st congressional district Bill Dix signed on as Tommy Thompson's statewide chair. Dix recently came up short in a bid to become Republican Party of Iowa Chairman. On the surface the announcement seemed suprising given Dix's ties to the two Iowa frontrunners. His 2 political staffers in the 1st District primary both work for McCain and his consultant was McCain campaign manager Terry Nelson. His longtime fundraiser (Dix's strength was always in his fundraising) works for Romney. The conventional wisdom around the gang of 50 is that his decision to join Tommy Thompson had a lot to do with the retirement of his substantial campaign debt. Regardless, Dix is a nice pick-up for a 2nd tier candidate like Thompson and will help him in Des Moines as well as eastern Iowa.

Mitt Romney is going to start running ads this week. This decision has left the Cooler staff torn. On one hand, he'll have free and clear airwaves which gives him the potential to increase his pollnumbers which increases fundraising which increases poll numbers again. On the other hand the general rule about these things is to maximize exposure you should never "go dark" once you've been up on the air. While Governor Romney has vast personal wealth (we believe the figure is well in excess of 1 gazillion dollars) there is still no way he plans to run ads non-stop for the next 11 (or 21) months. The ad is a 60 second spot where he describes himself as a "business legend" that turned around a Democratic state. Then Romney says, "this is not a time for more talk and dithering (dithering??) in Washington. It's a time for action" The ad will run here in the Hawkeye, as well as New Hampshire, South Carolina, Michigan, and Florida.

And this has been around for a couple of days but it is worth noting that McCain added Sen. John Thune. Thune runs ads and is covered on the nightly news in the Sioux City media market which would make him a good surrogate for McCain in that neck of the woords.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Heckle Me This

We wanted to embed this video but can't find it on youtube. You'll have to deal with the link. Here's Romney laying the smackdown on the bigot in Florida. Kudos to Mitt for the strong response.

McCain Recap

Not to try and outdo Kay Henderson's well written Radio Iowa blog review of the McCain event or anything...but here's the Cooler's recap of McCain's announcement. The following report was written by a friend of the Cooler in attendance and is posted here without edit... You can see this author's recap of Romney's announcement here.

I can't seem to buy nice weather. After getting stuck in the snow going to see Mitt last week I had to navigate a trecherous highway heading to Cedar Rapids on Friday evening. I decided to check out the Rapids event because I could turn it into an excuse to spend the weekend in Iowa City (My behavior at the bars might explain this late email). Anyway the were cars sliding off the highway left and right on Friday but I made it nonetheless. Thanks to my friends "hospitality" I got off to a late start on Saturday. By the time I arrived at the Crowne Plaza hotel the room was already about 3/4 full. The event took place in a large ballroom.. The kind of room you'd have a sorority formal in. The stage was set with a stool and a table with a McCain backdrop and two flags. It wasn't a very high stage so it made it seem less like it was a speech and more like a "townhall." There was no podium, all the speakers used a wireless mic. The set-up reminded me of what McCain did in New Hampshire in 99. Informal, fire your questions at me. I took a seat in the back just in front of a Fox News reporter who was talking very loudly and seemed to be doing a live report (not sure about that though). A little after 115 (the scheduled start time) former Iowa state senator Chuck Larson gave an introduction. Then my main man Leon Mosely said a prayer, and he was dressed to impress as usual. Then it was Phil Gramm's turn to speak. He was mumbling and drawling for a minute or two- wasteful spending seemed to be a big topic- at which point I realized that I was desperately in need of water. So I ducked out on Gramm and missed the most of his speech. I walked back into the room just ahead of McCain. He takes the stage to applause and a half-way standing ovation. McCain starts of with a slew of jokes almost like its a stand-up routine. Two of them made me laugh. One was about Zsa Zsa Gabor (sp?) that was a little risque (well for a Republican audience at least). He had another that went ""Two inmates at a state prison are in a chow line,'' "One of them said to the other one 'The food was a lot better in here when you were the governor.' " I'm not sure why but that was the only joke that made me laugh out loud. Then McCain got down to business. He started off by reading exactly what the vote was he was skipping. "a cloture vote to determine whether further debate should happen to bring about another cloture vote etc." Then he said something like "I'm really sorry I'm missing that" which got a good response. He called the vote a publicity stunt and went into his reasoning for skipping it. By the end of the speech I don't think there was a single person in the room that thought he should be participating in that silly vote. One thing I noticed at this point is that McCain a lot more soft spoken than I expected. His soft-spoken style created more of a serious, discussion like atmosphere while Romney's booming speechifying made that event seem a lot more like a rally. McCain then talked a lot about Iraq and what we need to do to win there, it was Iraq that got him his largest applauses. He hit on some other issues as well, government spending, ethics, he explained his position on immigration which he's going to have to do over and over again to sell this audience. All in all he probably only talked for like 12-15 minutes before taking questions. The funniest moment of the Q&A came when a guy in the first row said "Senator you've got my support but I'm not letting you off easy, what about ethanol" and McCain said "My friend Chuck Larson and I have a large glass of ethanol every morning for breakfast" and he looked over at Chuck who was next to the stage which got everyone laughing. Then he explained why he has a different opinion between 99 and now (oil prices) then said in the interest of "straight talk" said he does oppose subsidies. He took a question from a veteran, a couple nice questions and some adversarial ones. The Q&A session was quite long, 40 minutes or so. I think he took 3 "last questions." Talking to people afterwards the one thing everyone said positive about him was that he seemed to give genuine answers to the questions and for the most part answered them very directly. That was probably the most impressive thing about the whole townhall. After he finished up and left the stage, there was no music or anything so that was different from Romney's event. There had to be twice as many people than there were at Romney's thing but given the terrible weather on Monday I'm not sure that says much. All in all it was interesting to see the significant contrasts in styles between the two and I was glad to be able to do both.

While turnout reports varied. The consensus numbers seemed to be 375 in Des Moines, about 500 in Cedar Rapids and over 400 in Davenport.

Weekend Links

We've been waiting for our lazy correspondent to send us a recap of the Cedar Rapids McCain event but he/she/it decided to spend the weekend in Iowa City (Who can blame him/her/it). Hopefully it will be equally as snarky and endearing as the Romney recap from earlier this week. We anxiously await its arrival in our inbox. Here are some weekend clips to satiate you until then.

The AP on McCain's visit to Iowa.
Kay Henderson's always compelling blog on the same.
Romney nabs Doug Struyk
Romney takes on a heckler
Romney gives two different reasons on why he voted for Paul Tsongas in a 1992 Primary
Brownback in Western Iowa

  • Caucus Coolerisms
  • The Cooler Line

    Mike Huckabee 10-9
    Mitt Romney 3-1
    Fred Thompson 9-1
    John McCain 9-1
    Rudy Giuliani 12-1
    Ron Paul 12-1
    Duncan Hunter 98-1
    The Cooler line is an exclusive creation of Caucus Cooler and will be updated as the political environment changes.
    It is an unscientific assessment of the Iowa Caucus (not the Presidential race as a whole) from an insiders view at the given time. The line IS NOW mathematically accurate but is NOT intended for gambling purposes. Information may only be reproduced with credit to the Caucus Cooler.