Political Gum Hockey

Political Commentary and Humor

PGH Quick Take – Tim is Out!

Tim Pawlenty has officially withdrawn from the race for the Republican nomination.  As I noted in my Tim is In! post, Pawlenty had to pretty much win the Iowa straw poll to have a chance.  And he didn’t.  In fact, he came in so far back in third place as to make people forget that Newt Gingrich barely even registered in voter’s minds.

So this morning, Pawlenty announced his withdrawal on the “This Week” program on ABC.  And as the Washington Post notes online this morning, the Democrats were quick to put Pawlenty’s loss in perspective:

Brad Woodhouse, communications director for the Democratic National Committee said, said the poll results were an example of how out of touch the GOP is with the rest of the country.

“A former two-term Governor of a neighboring state, a social conservative, a person who on paper should be everything Republicans should consider in a candidate for president, was run out of the race because he wasn’t extreme enough,” Woodhouse said in a statement.

Woodhouse went further in explaining how extreme the Republican party has become as hostage to the tea party:

“In the past 72 hours we’ve seen all the GOP candidates swear allegiance to the Tea Party in a debate, the national front runner refer to ‘corporations as people,’ the two most extreme candidates in the field – Tea Party favorites – come out on top of the Iowa Straw poll and someone once considered among the leading candidates for the nomination drop out of the race because he was not extreme or vitriolic enough for the Tea Party which now owns and operates the GOP,” Woodhouse said. “But, while protecting tax breaks for the wealthy and big oil while proposing to end Medicare, slash Social Security and pile additional burdens on the middle class might win plaudits with the Tea Party, it’s not remotely what the American people are looking for.”

So with Pawlenty out, the path forward is paved on the choice between three people.  Mitt Romney is the establishment candidate (the “next in line”).  Michele Bachmann is the ultra-right wing tea party candidate (complete with hypocrisy of chastising the stimulus law and chiding government subsidies while begging for stimulus funds and taking government subsidies).  And Rick Perry, who is trying to be both establishment and tea party, and probably ending up being the worst of both.

And we still have 6 months before the first primary voting.  Fun.

August 14, 2011 Posted by | Iowa straw poll, Tea Party, Tim Pawlenty | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Winner of the Iowa Debates? – Rick Perry

For those of you living in a hole somewhere without media access (yes, both of you), last night was the Republican debate in Iowa, just two days ahead of the all not-important Iowa Straw Poll.  And the debate winner is…

…Rick Perry.

Yes, I know Rick Perry wasn’t even in Iowa yesterday.  But the Perry campaign showed that he is fully willing to stick a finger in the collective eyes of his fellow Republicans by pre-announcing his announcement for his candidacy for President.  So while Bachmann and Pawlenty played “whose the bigger Obama basher in Minnesota,” interspersed with “you’re an inconsequential Congresswoman vs. you’re a inconsequential meanie,” everyone watching was really sizing up the field against Perry.

And to stick the other finger in the other collective eyes of his fellow Republicans, Perry’s official announcement will take place on Saturday – the very day that Iowans go to their straw polling places to prevaricate over their preferred potential president’s proposed possibilities.   Perry’s purpose, presumably, is to provoke a private uprising of people who will write his name into the straw poll ballot.  Wouldn’t that be a hoot – a guy who is in South Carolina announcing his candidacy, then hopping a plane to New Hampshire to press some palms, actually makes a strong showing in the Iowa straw poll that he isn’t even in.  Thus kicking the presumed winner Michele Bachmann in her private tea party parts.  And possibly stealing some second place points from Mitt Romney, who has cleverly made a public show of not campaigning in Iowa while privately trying to get all his supporters to show up at the polls.

Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee, who surprised everyone by winning the 2008 Iowa caucuses, thinks Rick Perry made a “tactical blunder” and showed “bad form” by pre-announcing on the day of the debate his intent to announce on the day of the straw poll.  Apparently the Huck believes Iowans will remember being upstaged on their big days.  PGH disagrees, and would argue that while people in general have short-attention spans, the tea party-type people who dominate the Iowa straw pollers have shown a tendency to hop from one “savior” to another (remember Palin, er, Trump, er, Bachmann, er, Cain, er, Perry, er,?).

In any case, I’ll have more on the debate last night…and preview Saturday’s straw poll…and try to answer the question that Perry-watching pundits are pondering – is he the new front runner, or his he the Fred Thompson of 2012?

August 12, 2011 Posted by | 2012, Michele Bachmann, Republican, Rick Perry, Tea Party, Tim Pawlenty | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Straw Man (Poll) of La Iowa – What does it mean? (Part 1)

This is an exciting week in the world of Republican politics before it matters.   Yes, folks, this week are two of the most important meaningless events of the budding election season.  You got it…

…the Ames straw poll…and the Republican debate!

Okay, first the debate.  On Thursday the “major” Republican candidates will take the stage to not debate at all.  The goal of the debate is not to debate but to bash President Obama.  After all, this is the Republican party.  Given the events of the last week I would expect each and every participant to spend his or her time blaming the tea party downgrade on President Obama…following the script laid out by the tea party lobby.  A script so bizarre that it actually had one pundit blaming Obama for starting a recession in 2007 and the collapse of the economy in 2008…before he was even elected.

If there is anything of value to this debate it is in its potential to eliminate Tim Pawlenty from the race.  Poor Timmy has been working hard for about three years to get noticed, only to be overshadowed by the sudden candidacy of his fellow Minnesotan, Michele Bachmann.  Bachmann is actually expected to win the straw poll (more on that in a second), which would be a kick in the knees to Timmy.  But even she might be kicked to the curb if she doesn’t totally blow the field out of the water (er, drought).  Since Texas Governor Perry is supposedly ready to jump into the race (or not), Bachmann may be related to the same bin as Tim who.

Oh, Romney will pretty much ignore everyone else and just bash Obama.

One more thing about Pawlenty.  He’s put himself between a very large rock and a very hard place with his wimpish retreat in the last debate from his pre-debate puffery.  So if Pawlenty decides to ignore the Obama-bashing script and instead takes a few direct shots to the faces of Romney and Bachmann (figuratively, not literally), then the debate could make him a star.  Or a goat.  If he again wimps out of his “safe behind the Fox desk” criticisms of fellow candidates, then he’s a goner anyway.  Frankly, Pawlenty is in a lose-lose situation of his own making.

There are some other people at this debate, but they pretty much don’t matter so I won’t bother going into them.  It’s too early to bow out so I’ll have at least one more chance for most of them.

Well, this little diddy went a lot longer than expected (it’s Obama’s fault), so I’ll pick up on the straw poll in the next post.

August 9, 2011 Posted by | 2012, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Republican, Rick Perry, Tea Party, Tim Pawlenty | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Republicans Come Together to Debate Obama, Talk About Their Kids, Ignore Each Other

Five children and 23 foster children trumps merely 7 kids.  That seemed to be the theme last night at the first real Republican debate.

Okay, they did talk about other stuff too, but it did seem odd that how many children you have would be used as a qualifier for the nomination of Republican party candidate for president.  But unlike the bizarre “Coke vs Pepsi” questions of moderator John King, this one seemed to set the tone for the debate.

In short, the debate (insert air quotes around that word) was about trying to say the right things to get the tea party vote.  It was an exercise in attacking the sitting President without even seeming to be aware of the differing opinions of the seven Republicans standing on stage.  And the result was as expected – Romney came off looking presidential, Santorum and Paul came off looking irrelevant, Cain came off looking like a backtracking anti-Muslim bigot, and Pawlenty came of looking like a guy who couldn’t figure out how to change his recent attacks against fellow Republicans into somehow being all about Obama.

Which left Michele Bachmann.  As already noted in the last two posts, PGH thinks that Bachmann will win the August straw poll in Iowa, and barring any major faux pas, will likely take either #1 or #2 in the caucuses in early 2012.  Last night she demonstrated that she knows how to play the media better than Palin while coming off smarter and less incoherent.  I know that isn’t a high bar and Bachmann has straddled it before in the past, but last night she managed to be extreme without sounding too crazy.  Perfect for the tea party crowd, which is probably licking its chops right now.

In any case Bachmann “pre-announced” her “official announcement” that she was running for president.  No shocker there, but the fact that she chose the debate to do it shows her ability to manipulate the media with the best of them.  And as PGH accurately predicted yesterday, she also rattled off quite a few sound bites that were red meat to her base – the most extreme tea partiers.  Ever happy to toss out meaningless platitudes like “job killing EPA” (which distracts from the fact that EPA was started by a Republican president to help clean up the mess industry had made of our air [visible] and water [on fire]), she went straight to the far right end of the tea party spectrum.  And they love it.

Bottom line – Bachmann showed she can do well in the debates, which means she could siphon off the tea party votes from less extremist candidates, which means the potentially electable folks will have to shift even more to the right and say things that the Obama team will easily prove are false.  This puts people like Romney, and likely Huntsman, in a position where they will be turning off the very people they need to get elected by pandering to the extremists in the primaries.

This could be an interesting election, from a pundit point of view.

June 14, 2011 Posted by | 2012, debate, Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Republican, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Sarah Palin, Tea Party, Tim Pawlenty | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

PGH Quick Take – Previewing the New Hampshire Republican Debate

Tonight is the first (real) Republican debate for the 2012 candidates for the GOP nomination. [There was a previous debate, but given that no one with a chance showed up it doesn’t really count]  In any case, tonight New Hampshire will host the first of what could be many Republican debates.  And all the big names are there:

– Mitt Romney: Barring a Gingrich-esque meltdown, Romney will win the New Hampshire primary in early 2012.  His job tonight is to look and sound like the adult in the room, which really shouldn’t be too much trouble given the rest of the field.

– Tim Pawlenty: Probably the second most adult person in the room, though no one seems to be noticing.  Perhaps because he’s trying too hard to be the conservative alternative to Romney, thus eliminating any chance he’ll have of getting moderates.  Which is ironic.

– Newt Gingrich: He should make the debate interesting.  I actually hope he manages to un-implode his campaign long enough to contribute his flowery rhetoric (which is often contradictory, but always pretty).

– Michele Bachmann: Though technically she hasn’t announced that she is running (ssshhhh, it’s a secret), she should be good for some entertainment.  Likely she will say something that will make the lead sound bite on tomorrow’s news.  In fact, she’ll probably plan on it. [PGH will explain shortly why Bachmann may very well win the Iowa straw poll in August]

– Rick Santorum: Likely he will work hard to violate the Reagan 11th commandment just to get attention.

– Ron Paul: See “Rand Paul,” only older. Paul has a following and usually says something interesting, if not viable.

– Herman Cain: The former Godfather’s pizza magnate “won” the earlier non-debate, which is both a credit to him and a discredit to the other participants.  It will be interesting to see if debate moderator John King will ask Cain to elaborate on his recent anti-Muslim bigotry.  That should be fun.

Not participating in person but likely on the mind of several of the participants (especially Mitt Romney) is Jon Huntsman.  Huntsman hasn’t formally announced his candidacy yet but unlike Bachmann, who just wants to be seen and heard, Huntsman has chosen not to play his hand until he has to.   Huntsman could give Romney a run for his money in the adult department.  Ironically, both Romney and Huntsman face the same hurdles to get the Republican nomination – they are both Mormon, both have perfect hair, both are positively associated with the Obama administration, and both appeal to the same type of campaign funders.  They could conceivably cancel each other out.

So with the tea party actively working against their most likely nominees, the Republican party has to a choice to make.  Do they go more mainstream, or shift so far out to the right wing that they ensure that Obama wins in a landslide next year?

PGH will do a postmortem after the debate.

June 13, 2011 Posted by | 2012, Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Republican, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Santorum Officially Enters Presidential Race – Upstaged by Weiner

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum officially began his candidacy for Vice President of the United States on Monday.  And no one seemed to notice.   It seems Santorum just can’t catch a break – first his name was given some rather campaign-unfriendly connotations, and then on the day he makes his announcement the press seems more interested in New York Congressman Anthony Weiner’s…um…tweeting habits.

It is the policy of PGH not to splash in the gutter so I apologize for the references in the first paragraph.  With that unpleasantness behind us let’s move on to the substantive issue of the day – Santorum’s presidential ambitions.

Not that Santorum’s presidential ambitions are all that substantive.  Santorum kicked off his candidacy with a great deal of no fanfare in his home state of Pennsylvania, from which he served two terms as Congressman and two terms as Senator before being soundly defeated in 2006.   While  always a social conservative, it was in the 2006 election that he first entered the realm of bigotry.  That may sound a little harsh, but there is no real way around the attitude that he began espousing at that time and apparently continues today.  In short, he hates fascists.  Especially “Islamic fascists.”  And worries about Sharia law somehow overtaking US law.  He likes to think of himself as Churchill reborn, warning us of the impending Muslim invasion.  A bit hyperbolic for normal Americans, but the tea party loves it.

A quick run down of his beliefs puts him in the range of Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and other tea party folks, though he cuts a stunning corporate image in his well-tailored suit so lacks the wild-eyed crazy look that others seem to have.  He actively courts the tea party and has a cute little big patriotic photo of the liberty bell on his official campaign web site.  He is adamantly anti-gay rights, pro-gun rights, believes creationism (and its new name, intelligent design) should be taught in schools as science, denies climate change, wants to restrict a woman’s right to abortion, and like everyone else it seems these days, claims to be a fiscal conservative.   With his long-time marriage and seven kids, he definitely fits the conservative tea party mold.  Including some convenient hypocrisy regarding his Pennsylvania residency.

So what are his chances of becoming president?  In a word – None.

Okay, better than none.  But not much better.  His name recognition is not up there in first tier candidate list, though he is fairly well known in some circles (e.g., Fox News watchers).  The problem is that he just doesn’t seem to excite anyone except the far right wing social conservatives, science deniers, and xenophobes.  For someone who is known as an “in your face” kind of confrontational guy, he doesn’t seem to have made much of an impact on mainstream voters.  That could change of course, but PGH would expect him to be more of a VP afterthought than a likely presidential nominee.   Basically he fits to the radical right of someone like Tim Pawlenty, who also seems not to instill much passion in the Republican voters.   Still, there are those who say there might be a path for Santorum to get picked for the VP running mate of Mitt Romney – with Romney appealing more to moderates and the hopes that Santorum might bring in social conservatives.  PGH thinks this is unlikely, as it is those social conservatives that are now working so hard to topple Romney’s chances at the nomination, so Santorum is likely to be burning bridges with Romney before they even get built.  And the fact that he is just a slightly more Washington DC/corporate version of right wing extremism isn’t likely to be palatable to Independents, moderates, and, well, most Americans.

Only time will tell, of course, how viable will be Santorum’s candidacy.  He participated in the first Republican debate (yes, there was already a Republican debate), during which he was upstaged by Herman Cain (and everyone else).  There will be another debate coming up soon in which Santorum will try to get some news coverage, but given that he made his announcement in Pennsylvania and not Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina, he seems to already be acknowledging that he has a pretty big hill to climb if he wants to even be still in the race before the first Republican primary polls open.  Not that it will matter much.

June 7, 2011 Posted by | 2012, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Republican, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin, Tea Party, Tim Pawlenty | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PGH Quick Take – Tim is In!!

Tim Pawlenty is in!!  Oh, you knew that already.  Well, now he’s made it official.  Today former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty formally announced that he is running for President. That’s after yesterday releasing a web video saying the same thing…and two days after pre-announcing the pre-video announcement of the official announcement.

Pawlenty made the announcement (the last one) from Iowa, the all important first caucus state.  With Mike Huckabee passing on a run, Pawlenty is hoping to get the social conservative vote, which is, not surprisingly, the very same voters who dominate in Iowa.

In short, Pawlenty pretty much has to win the Iowa caucuses to have a shot at the nomination.  Romney could coast in Iowa and still get nominated, in part because the former Massachusetts Governor is likely to make a strong showing in New Hampshire, hope to hold his own in South Carolina, then shut the door in Nevada.  Pawlenty, on the other hand, could very well be “Win Big in Iowa, or Bust.”

More on Pawlenty’s chances later, but for now check out the Huffington Post’s assessment of Pawlenty’s “truth tour” (named after the repetitious use of the word truth in his announcement today).  Pawlenty’s scorecard, well, to tell you the truth, it was more truthiness than truth.

May 23, 2011 Posted by | 2012, Republican, Tim Pawlenty | , , , | 1 Comment

The Republican Potential Presidential Candidates – Who is in, who is out, and who is going to be standing in the end?

Okay, it’s time for Political Gum Hockey to offer its combined two cents on the Republican presidential field.  And we’re sure you’ll agree that it’s worth both of those cents.

So who’s in and who’s out?  It’s been a busy week, and the next few weeks will be even busier.  But essentially we know who will be in the race for the Republican nomination.

First, those who have already said they are NOT going to run:

Donald Trump – Doesn’t matter, since he was just “in” as a really long and obnoxious ad campaign for his reality show.  The scary part is that the tea party in droves took him seriously.  Which pretty much shows how seriously we should take the tea party.

Haley Barbour – After titillating the GOP establishment by visiting Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, Barbour surprised everyone by opting out.  He wouldn’t have gotten the nomination anyway, but most thought he would run.  Nope.

Mike Huckabee – Huckabee decided his heart wasn’t in it and opted out.  He may have actually had a shot at the nomination (or, maybe not), but we’ll never know if he would be taken seriously or end up an also-ran.

John Thune – A potential rising star and giant killer (he knocked out former minority and majority leader Tom Daschle).  Thune rightly decided his time will come…in the future.  PGH predicts you’ll see more of Thune, eventually.

Mike Pence – Pence wisely realized he has no chance at president, but a heckuva good shot at getting the Governorship of Indiana.  This could be important because President Obama barely squeaked out an electoral win in Indiana and Pence being on the ballot might be enough to swing the state the other way.


Now, those who have not yet said anything but in the end are NOT going to run:

Sarah Palin – Okay, most sentient folks already knew this long ago, but it appears the rest of the tea party and GOP are finally figuring it out.  PGH has written about why she won’t run before, so you can just read it there.

Okay, that was a short list.  Mostly because there are a bunch of people that others are trying to draft into running.  They include Jim DeMint (no, really), John Bolton (no, really), Rick Perry, General David Petraeus, Rand Paul, and Chris Christie.  All have said repeatedly that they aren’t jumping into the race.  The fact that people are still trying to get them into the race tells you something about the people already in the race.


Okay, let’s hop to those who have either officially announced they will run for the Republican nomination or will be doing so within the next few weeks.

Mitt Romney – By far the front runner for the 2012 nomination, and the heir-apparent for the GOP.  As most people know, the Republican party tends to simply anoint the next one in line, and for 2012 that would be Mitt.  Unfortunately for Mitt, 2012 may actually be a bad year for “the anointed” as the GOP seeks someone from the promised land.

Newt Gingrich – Newt has visualized himself in the President’s throne room Oval Office ever since he was speaker.  He thinks that highly of himself, and seems to sometimes forget what is real and what is his own magnificent marketing.  PGH has already given the odds of Gingrich getting the nomination, and the last few days have pretty much borne that out big time.

Tim Pawlenty – Pawlenty has been running for President for at least the last two years, and still his Q-Factor is epitimized by the phrase “Tim who?” Some actually give him a shot, but PGH thinks he might have to eat his words…the ones where he said he was running for President, not Vice-President.  More on Tim in future posts.

Rick Santorum – Who? [Actually, that’s being a bit facetious.  Santorum has some serious conservative cred, but it won’t get him even a minor showing in any of the primaries.]

Ron PaulPGH has written on Paul already.  Paul did well in Iowa last time, but barely registered after that.  He could do better this time with tea party support.  But he won’t.

Gary Johnson – Who? [Okay, I’m not being facetious this time.] Johnson will be out faster than anyone can figure out who he is.

Herman Cain – Former pizza magnate and talk radio host made quite a showing in the first non-debate of five unknowns (including Pawlenty).  If he does well in future debates it means the front runners aren’t connecting with the primary voters, which means big trouble right here in River City (and everywhere else).  Still, he could liven up the place a bit.  Good for ratings.

Michele Bachmann – Talk about good for ratings.  Bachmann is a sought after interview on TV, especially shows that need a bump during sweeps month. Bachmann hasn’t said she’ll run yet, but it’s a pretty good bet she will.  Even she knows that she doesn’t have a shot at President, but I betcha she’ll jump at the chance to take the VP job if offered.  Ironically, if the electorate picks someone more mainstream there is no chance in that really hot place that the eventual nominee will pick another Palinite for VP.  The GOP may be slow, but it ain’t that dumb.

Okay, astute readers will be thinking about now that there are at least a couple of names missing.  I purposely kept these two separate for reasons that will become apparent.  They are the maybe/probably pair, and both could spell big problems for Mitt Romney:

Mitch Daniels – The Republican establishment is desperate for Mitch Daniels to jump into the race.  That should scare Mitt.  Daniel’s will probably run, though it isn’t guaranteed.  If he does, he’s a bit of a wild card.  Will the tea party like him? Is he too moderate?  Can he defund enough social programs in time to get the extremist wing of the Republican party to fall in love with him?  Stay tuned for more PGH analysis.

Jon Huntsman – Huntsman has it all.  He’s good looking, has perfect hair, is Mormon, has executive experience.  Accomplished things that the Obama Administration is touting.  Wait.  Sounds a lot like Mitt Romney?  BTW, did you hear the news that Mitt raised more than $10 million dollars in one night? That wasn’t a coincidence.  Huntsman is even more of a wild card than Daniels.  I suspect PGH will talk more about Huntsman very soon.

Did I forget anyone?

May 17, 2011 Posted by | 2012, Donald Trump, Haley Barbour, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Mike Huckabee, Mitch Daniels, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Republican, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Sarah Palin, Tea Party, Tim Pawlenty | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments