Archive for the ‘2012 National Election’ Category


Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Today is a new day in the political world.  Yesterday brought cheers to some and extreme disappointment to many.  What happen and why, what needs done?

We all know what happen.  On the surface without much sleep or study it appears the Obama team after 2008 made a tactical decision that brought benefits yesterday.  They left a staff footprint in places they knew were must wins for a second term – Ohio for one.  It took entirely too long for Republicans to find their nominee.  The Obama negative machine kicked in to define Romney before he could turn around.  The need to carefully handle the extreme branch of the Republican Party delayed Romney’s message that Republicans must work with Democrats to address the nation’s needs.  Not to be forgotten or even understood was why no effort was made to show the human side of this descent man.  Finally, there was that lady Sandy a late arrival to the political world.

What needs to be done?  The Republican Party’s tent needs to be expanded.  A serious look needs to be taken at the demographics and appeal to people in the minority and immigrant communities.  I recall Karl Rove telling us in early 2001 that for President Bush to win in 2004 we needed Hispanics.  Bush won 44 percent of Hispanics in 2004 and Romney 27 percent yesterday.

We know what happen in West Virginia.  Success came to Republicans by winning the Attorney General’s office with Patrick Morrisey and Allen Loughry becoming a member of the Supreme Court.  More importantly the gains made by Republican candidates for the Legislature is huge.  That is where real change in public policy comes from.  Overall the Democrats continued winning most major offices in the Executive Branch and the US Senate seat.

Governor Romney continued the Republican trend started by George W. Bush in 2000 when he became the first non-incumbent Republican to do so in 70 years.

What needs to be done?  Despite recruiting outstanding statewide GOP candidates as was done this year there is more to it than just filing, raising a small amount of money, attending Republican events and ramping up at Labor Day.  The success of Patrick Morrisey proves you can win but it takes an aggressive campaign, money and a political and marketing strategy.  Is there a lesson to be learned from Allen Loughry’s positive campaign?

Now with the gains in the Legislature it is time for Republicans to develop new public policy ideas with an aggressive communications strategy.

At the county level candidate recruitment should start today.  There are good candidates who did not make it yesterday but need to make a second run.  However, they must be supported by a strong grassroots Republican county committee.

The State Party needs to change the tone of its message, talk about the benefits of a two-party system at all levels and look for new blood where needed.

Finally, too often the party faithful in both parties put off creating the energy required for victory until the next election.  Success comes a day at a time.


Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Books elect presidents not a slick pamphlet laid out like a magazine.  The Obama campaign’s release of this last minute brochure makes him look a candidate running for almost any office on a shoe string budget.

Obama’s brochure has 20 pages covering manufacturing, energy, small business, education, the tax code, improving health care and retirement securing.  These appear to be a rehash of his ideas of the last four years – sort like his speeches.

When Bill Clinton ran for President in 1992 he published 231 page book “Putting People First”.  When the Republicans won the House of Representatives in 1994 they published a 197 page book entitled “Contract with America”.

Candidate Clinton’s book covered 32 topics from Agriculture to women.  He had a serious vision for America.  Contract with America was the result of serious work and was signed by the 367 Republican candidates.

According to POLITICO Obama’s Chicago-based brain trust had intended to highlight four years of “solid, steady progress” in the final days of the race.  On Tuesday a bullet-point plan was released for a second term – which his team long resisted despite appeals from likes of Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and James Carville.

Well I doubt the Obama magazine will become internationally recognized as Newsweek which will cease publishing print edition after nearly 80 years.


A glossy pamphlet isn’t a plan

By Senator Orrin Hatch

A Second First Term

The Wall Street Journal



Bob’s View

Monday, October 15th, 2012

[Editor’s Note:  After the last presidential debate I got an email from Bob Harris a longtime friend.  He provided me his views about the debate and Obama’s inability to use the tools of his position.  Bob is an astute observer of Washington, the national political scene and Congress. I thought Bob’s email observation and the Michael Gerson column he sent would be interesting reading before tomorrow’s presidential debate.  He agreed to this being published.]

Throughout Obama’s Presidency, I have complained about his inability to use the White House and his powerful position to any advantage, whether politically or diplomatically.  He just hasn’t seemed to understand and, therefore take advantage, of his own office.  It is his only for the trappings.  Very frustrating…

Obama debate performance and week following has further demonstrated his total lack of understanding of his office and how to use.  He stood side-by-side with Romney and let Romney dominate him in a debate — this after nearly 4 years of standing next to leaders from around the world. Odd and very frustrating…but not unexpected.

Romney has more positions that some jockeys have mounts during a racing season.  He can’t find one he likes and will stick to it long enough to embrace it.

I am forwarding Michael Gerson’s column from the Post today pointing out how Romney has found a new voice — a convincing voice at that.  It is the voice of “his inner centrist.”  This is very important and it must be understood for what it is by the President and the Obama team before the next debate.  If Obama does not turn this new trend toward Romney by the debate next week, he will be inside the 16th pole with blinkers on, not seeing Romney charging past him from behind.

The column is below, but I pulled out the last paragraph to highlight here:

“Anger in the Obama camp is understandable. Romney seems comfortable with his new tone — almost relieved to be back into Massachusetts mode. He is better positioned to appeal to independents in Ohio and elsewhere. And Obama is still reacting to Romney, not the other way around. Days after they parted in Denver, Romney is still dominating the debate.”

This is where the President’s lack of understand of the power of his office really comes through.  An incumbent president should never be in the position of responding…And, that is what we have seen for the past 3-plus years, why should anyone expect that to change during the campaign.

From Romney, a change in tone, not policy

By Michael Gerson, Published: October 8

Mitt Romney’s debate message has become his campaign strategy. In Denver, he was a bipartisan dealmaker, concerned about the lives of real people, especially when they inhabit battleground states. A day later, he apologized for his “47 percent” comment — which should have been done weeks before. In that same interview, he went on to talk about social mobility: “The gap between the rich and the poor has gotten larger. . . . I want the poor to get into the middle class.” His stump speech now features populist themes. Romney has discovered his inner centrist.

After considering their range of options, critics have chosen apoplexy. Democratic officials accused Romney of “outright fabricating” and “basically lying.” David Axelrod called Romney “Gantry-esque” — a charge of exceptional viciousness, hidden by literary obscurity. (Sinclair Lewis’s Elmer Gantry was an alcoholic, abusive, sacrilegious fraud.) President Obama, after recovering from the Denver altitude, set out this challenge: “If you want to be president, you owe the American people the truth.”

So is Romney being “dishonest” (Axelrod) or tacking a bit toward the middle, as presidential candidates often do? Is this readjustment fraudulent or merely later than expected?

For the most part, Romney has shifted his tone and emphasis, not his policy. All along, he has proposed tax reform, not merely tax cuts. He never opposed all federal financial regulations — though this is not the kind of thing a Republican emphasizes in the primaries. In these cases, Romney hasn’t changed his plans. He has merely refuted caricatures of his plans. You can hardly blame a man for refusing to be a straw man.

On a few issues in the debate, Romney’s transformation seemed a little too eager. Maintaining education funding seems at odds with his proposal for a 5 percent, across-the-board cut in federal discretionary spending — though it wouldn’t be that hard to make up $3.5 billion in education cuts elsewhere in a $425 billion domestic discretionary budget, if this is Romney’s intention. His health plan would not guarantee insurance coverage for people with preexisting conditions in every case. But it would heavily subsidize the purchase of health insurance and guarantee that anyone with coverage could move from insurance to insurance without facing preexisting-condition exclusions.

These claims are within the bounds of normal, unscripted imprecision during a debate. For the most part, Romney was attempting to present his moderate conservative agenda in a favorable light to independent voters. I’d prefer that agenda to be more creative, particularly in promoting equal opportunity and social mobility. But it is not deception to emphasize the most appealing portions of your proposals. It is the nature of political persuasion.

The accusation of lying shuts down all genuine policy debate. Romney promises, for example, a 20 percent, across-the-board reduction in income taxes, with lost revenue made up by economic growth and cutting loopholes and deductions for the wealthy. I suspect these sources, in the end, would not be sufficient. So you can either close some loopholes for the upper middle class or reduce the 20 percent tax cut (a prospect one of Romney’s economic advisers has raised). This is worth a debate. But such a debate is rendered impossible by the questioning of motives. This is a genuine disagreement, not attempted fraud. Romney is making an argument, not engaged in a plot. And a refusal to engage the argument indicates an inability to engage the argument seriously or successfully.

Those who urge Obama in the next debate to call Romney a liar, or close to it, are doing him no favors.  It is one thing to do this on the stump, where taunting and mocking result in applause. It is another thing to try this tactic face to face, where it nearly always seems desperate and small. Because of the manner of Obama’s failure in the first debate — by being too passive — he will need to be more aggressive in the next. But that is a difficult trait to calibrate, particularly in a president prone to public petulance. A small turn of the faucet and the cold water suddenly scalds.

Anger in the Obama camp is understandable. Romney seems comfortable with his new tone — almost relieved to be back into Massachusetts mode. He is better positioned to appeal to independents in Ohio and elsewhere. And Obama is still reacting to Romney, not the other way around. Days after they parted in Denver, Romney is still dominating the debate.



A Day

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

A day is a year in politics the old saying goes.   In a post just yesterday I made note that I thought dropping Biden and putting Hillary on the ticket would be a game changer in West Virginia.  Today (thanks to a tip from my friend Tom O’Neill) I learned the Weekly Standard has two blog posts related to the future of the Obama/Biden ticket.

Earlier this morning they called attention to the President’s schedule.  It shows an Oval Office meeting with the Vice President and the Secretary of State.  This is followed by a luncheon meeting attended only by the President and Vice President.  See the post here.  Inside that blog is another link you should read.

It gets more curious in another post just past noon Weekly Standard David Axelrod “won’t rule out Biden being dropped”.  Read here.

Obama did not offer an apology or scolding for Biden’s remarks in a People magazine exclusive.  In Washington speak that could mean a dark future for Biden but an even tighter presidential race in West Virginia.

Fun With Mitt

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

Voters regardless of political party always seem to be interested in the real side of candidates.  Campaign 2012 a feature of The Washington Post (not already a favorite of some readers) provides a good inside look at Governor Romney and his family.  (Editor’s note:  I serve as Chairman of the Romney presidential campaign in WV.)

Romney works hard at taking a vacation

By Philip Rucker (The Washington Post)

This weekend, Mitt Romney is starting his annual summer vacation on his lakefront compound here – a week of fun and family, though not entirely carefree.  Read the full story here.

Morning After

Friday, June 29th, 2012

The real fallout from the SOTUS ruling yesterday will be political…at least for now.  Many readers are politically active or more than causal observers of the game.  To provide a feel for the current political fallout I have clipped some pieces from POLITICOS morning newsletter.

SNEAK PEEK – RNC DAY 2 MESSAGING PLAN: The Republican National Committee is holding a 9 a.m. call with Governors Bobby Jindal and Bob McDonnell and then a Spanish speaking call at 10 a.m. with Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Quico Canseco. They are also releasing a web video highlighting Obama’s promises that Obamacare wasn’t a tax while SCOTUS upheld it as a tax: And they are moving this research piece to highlight the continuing unpopularity of Obamarecare: The RNC will also continue the #FullRepeal hashtag.

DOWN-BALLOT DEMOCRATS IN RED AND PURPLE STATES COULD GET SCREWED: “With Thursday’s defeat, Republicans were handed a powerful tool for motivating their base and a fresh ammo clip for use in House and Senate races across the map,” Charlie Mahtesian reports. “It removed one arrow from the Democratic quiver – the prospect of an outraged and highly motivated base – and provided a new one to the GOP by defining the mandate as a tax…The cautious and measured statements from Democratic House and Senate candidates Thursday reflected the unease about renewing a debate that ended badly for the party in November 2010. The general rule, which seemed to apply to candidates in both parties, was the more competitive the race, the more tempered the response. That meant no touchdown dance for many Democratic Senate candidates – even for former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine in Virginia.”

OBAMA LOOKS LIKE A WINNER: “The decision also will give the president a fresh opportunity to try to win the political argument over the law, or at least do a better job of trying to sway a skeptical electorate than he and his team have done since the measure was enacted,” Dan Balz writes in the Washington Post. “For Obama, the elation that he and his advisers may have felt Thursday could quickly dissipate if more bad economic news occurs. It is a long time until November, and the economy, domestically and internationally, remains extremely fragile.”

WHAT IT MEANS FOR NOVEMBER WON’T BE CLEAR FOR WEEKS: “Over the next six weeks or so, health care will be an unpredictable race within a race,” Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman write. “For Mitt Romney, who had every reason to expect the conservative high court to strike down at least a big part of the law, the decision requires a bit of recalibration. He had hoped to portray a full or partial repeal as evidence Obama squandered the trust of the American electorate by wasting two years…[That] will take a back seat to a more generic GOP assault on the law highlighting the court’s insistence that the individual mandate be legally defined as a tax – an approach more likely to appeal to the conservative base than independent voters…Views about the Affordable Care Act are baked into the political cake already, and most independents undecided about their choice this November are bored, confused, exhausted or all of the above about a law that keeps cropping up like athlete’s foot.” More: . My story with Robin Bravender on the tax messaging:



Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

The political environment is most unusual in WV.  The presidential race got attention when Senator Manchin expressed his uncertainty about his vote in that contest.  Now this morning the Charleston Daily Mail has a story about Governor Tomblin.  To keep my non-Kanawha Valley readers informed of all the political developments just visit the Charleston Daily Mail here.

Joe and the Challenge of 2012

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Sen. Joe Manchin is defending his loyalty as a Democrat in an op ed appearing in the Sunday Gazette-Mail.  It all started when he told the National Journal he was uncertain who he would vote for as President in November.    

There is no doubt Sen. Manchin is a Democrat.  It appears as he discusses his votes in the United State Senate and taking on the President he is doing what many West Virginia Democrats started doing in 1996.  That was voting for what is best for West Virginia not just their party. 

I have always believed when Democrats voted for Governor Cecil Underwood that year they started putting the State ahead of party.  I thought it was confirmed when George W. Bush became the first non-incumbent Republican in 70 years to win WV.  It took a lot of registered Democrats to accomplish that feat and again in 2004 & 2008.

However, after the Manchin news broke a prominent lifelong Democrat contacted me saying “Joe’s distancing himself from his President reinforced his reputation as a DINO (Democrat In Name Only) and wimp.”  Further, the negative reaction was much stronger than he would have thought possible and it was coming from liberals, moderates and others.

That assessment was confirmed as Manchin felt compelled to host a call of Democrat County Chairs and State Committee members.  Reports are that Party Executive Director Derek Scarbro compared it to a big family airing their differences.

Despite the belief no one believes Obama is going to win West Virginia, Republicans take it at their own peril to believe so.  The fact the ever popular Manchin had to convene his party’s leaders in an attempt to calm them is a signal they are prepared to battle for Obama’s success and that of their other candidates in November.

Have We Met?

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

The bruising GOP presidential primary has come to an end.  The real Mitt Romney is reflected in his “A Better America Begins Tonight” speech last evening.  Below are a few excerpts from POLITICO.  The full text is included.

 –FROM ROMNEY’S SPEECH last night in Manchester, “A Better America Begins Tonight”: “Tonight is the start of a new campaign to unite every American who knows in their heart that we can do better! The last few years have been the best that Barack Obama can do, but it’s not the best America can do! … This has already been a long campaign, but many Americans are just now beginning to focus on the choice before the country. In the days ahead, I look forward to spending time with many of you personally. I want to hear what’s on your mind, hear about your concerns, and learn about your families. I want to know what you think we can do to make this country better…and what you expect from your next President.

“And I’ll tell you a little bit about myself. I’ll probably start out talking about my wonderful wife Ann – I usually do – and I’ll probably bore you with stories about our kids and grandkids. I’ll tell you about how much I love this country, where someone like my dad, who grew up poor and never graduated from college, could pursue his dreams and work his way up to running a great car company. Only in America could a man like my dad become governor of the state in which he once sold paint from the trunk of his car.

“I’d say that you might have heard that I was successful in business. And that rumor is true. But you might not have heard that I became successful by helping start a business that grew from 10 people to hundreds of people. You might not have heard that our business helped start other businesses, like Staples and Sports Authority and a new steel mill and a learning center called Bright Horizons. And I’d tell you that not every business made it and there were good days and bad days, but every day was a lesson. And after 25 years, I know how to lead us out of this stagnant Obama economy and into a job-creating recovery!

“Four years ago, Barack Obama dazzled us in front of Greek columns with sweeping promises of hope and change. But after we came down to earth, after the celebration and parades, what do we have to show for three and a half years of President Obama? Is it easier to make ends meet? Is it easier to sell your home or buy a new one? Have you saved what you needed for retirement? Are you making more in your job? Do you have a better chance to get a better job? Do you pay less at the pump? … There was a time – not so long ago – when each of us could walk a little taller and stand a little straighter … Those days are coming back. That’s our destiny.” Full text

(Editor’s Note:  In the interest of full disclosure I am involved with Gov. Romney’s WV efforts.)


Computers & Politics

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

A lot of political junkies follow PhillipsBillBoard.  One of them is Jim Lees (former WV Democrat candidate for Governor).  He has offered a window for political junkies into what to watch in the upcoming presidential election. 

Computers & Politics

By Jim Lees

      For those interested in Presidential politics two economists affiliated with Yahoo Labs have created a pretty sophisticated computer model using scientific algorithms derived from the past ten presidential elections to predict the final electoral vote count in this coming November’s presidential election.  The model predicts the percentage of votes President Obama will receive in each state and then awards the electoral votes from that state based upon his projected vote total.  Interestingly the model also assigns odds to the President’s chances of winning each particular state.

     For example the computer model predicts that President Obama will receive 42.8% of the vote here in West Virginia, thus resulting in our State’s five electoral votes going to the Republican nominee.  Given the past three presidential elections here I would guess 42% of the vote for Obama is about right unless there is some dramatic shift between now and November.  More interesting is that the computer assigns the President only a 5% chance of winning West Virginia this fall.  Don’t therefore expect to see the Presidential candidates making any significant appearances here in West Virginia (perhaps an airport stopover) nor should you expect to have an up-close seat to the ad campaigns that will be waged in the battleground states.  And prepare to watch some Democrats running for state-wide office place some distance between themselves and the President.

     The computer model is excellent at showing which states will be contested in November and surprisingly the number is very small.  Right now the computer model awards 235 electoral votes to the Republican nominee including the state of Florida.  Surprisingly of the states that comprise those 235 votes the only state in which the computer model gives the President a chance of winning is Florida and there his chances are only a bit more than 35%.  His chances of winning any of these other states are much less than 35%, meaning that the Republican nominee is pretty solid for at least 235 electoral votes assuming they can win Florida (Florida is probably the only one of these states where the President may make a serious run at winning).

     The computer model has 303 electoral votes going to President Obama which of course would make him the winner in November (270 is needed to win).  But unlike the solid win margins and percentages for the Republican the computer is predicting the President to win Virginia with 50.2% of the vote and Ohio with 50.3 percent.  His odds of winning each state are about 52%.  Meaning the Republican nominee has a 48% chance of winning each of these states.  These are the states where you need to rush out and purchase a newspaper, radio, or TV station so as to watch the advertising dollars start rolling in.

     The stunning thing to me however is that if the President loses Florida (which the computer certainly believes he will), Virginia, AND Ohio, he still wins by a count of 272-268 (California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, all solidly in the President’s column, account for 124 electoral votes alone).  So what other state might the Republican nominee win to assure the election?  As crazy at it may seem that state is….New Hampshire.  The computer model projects Obama the winner with only 50.8% of the vote and assigns him a 57% chance to win the state.  The reason here is that the computer model assumes Romney is the nominee and Romney puts New Hampshire in play (Santorum and Gingrich do not).

     So how many electoral votes does little New Hampshire have?  A grand total of 4.  Meaning if the Republican can win Virginia, Ohio, AND New Hampshire, the Republican wins 272-268.  The next best shot for the Republican is Colorado but there the computer assigns the President a 67% chance of winning.  All other states appear out of reach for the Republican nominee.

     If you are in the business of betting that you know who the Republican Vice-President Nominee will be you may want to learn a bit more about a guy named Bob McDonnell.  He happens to be the governor of Virginia.  Oh yeah…….he is also a Republican.

The PhillipsBillboard welcomes commentary from readers.