Saturday, April 7, 2007

Guiliani rattles some with Vito Corleone's voice

(from a Drudge Report cite)

Rudy rattles some with Vito Corleone's voice


April 6, 2007, 12:11 AM EDT

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Rudolph Giuliani launched into a California campaign speech recently with an opening line the crowd surely didn't expect -- his husky-voiced impersonation of Don Corleone in "The Godfather."

"Thank youse all very much for invitin' me here tuh-day, to this meeting of the families from different parts'a California," Giuliani said, recycling his old New York gag to laughter and scattered applause.

Then this week, Giuliani used the reference again, invoking the mob's code of honor to explain why reporters should lay off his wife. "I am a candidate. She's a civilian, to use the old Mafia distinction," he said.

Other Italian-American politicians have shunned references to organized crime, fearful of being tarred unfairly by anti-Italian stereotyping. Not Giuliani, who has in the past embraced such talk to remind voters he helped bust up the New York mob as a federal prosecutor. Plus, he's an unabashed "Godfather" fan.

But some political analysts are puzzled why a man seeking to become the first Italian-American president would dabble so blithely with the darkest stereotypes of his heritage, especially before voters really get to know him.

And a leader in the nation's largest Italian-American organization said Thursday that Giuliani should drop his Corleone impersonations because they are insensitive to Italian-Americans trying to dispel the linkages between being Italian and being in the mob.

"It's unfortunate for him to make light of a stereotype that creates a lot of discomfort for millions of other Italian-Americans," said Dona De Sanctis of the Order Sons of Italy in America. "We would hope that Mr. Giuliani would try to find humor in other aspects of his candidacy rather than his Italian heritage that way.

"We don't think it's funny," she said of such jokes. "We stopped laughing a long time ago."

Giuliani's campaign Thursday night issued a statement that did not address the Sons of Italy directly. "Mayor Giuliani is proud of his Italian heritage and has a record celebrating the country's culture and the important contributions Italian-Americans have made to New York City and the United States."

Giuliani's comments didn't bother Joseph Scelsa, president of the Italian American Museum in New York and the Coalition of Italian American Associations. He called himself a Giuliani supporter and said the mob references were "in jest. ... He's done more to advance the image of Italian-Americans."

So far, Giuliani's heritage -- he is the grandson of Italian immigrants -- has not been in an issue in the campaign, seemingly because so many Americans already know him and his record in New York City and on 9/11.

But the Marlon Brando impersonation has been a longtime favorite of Giuliani's, including from his days giving paid motivational speeches. One real-estate Web site quoted him at a March 2006 convention appearance, saying in the Brando voice, "Welcome to Las Vegas -- a city which we used to own."

In the February appearance in California, Giuliani told the crowd he opened with the impersonation because he listened to 2,000 hours of men on tape talking that way to carry out his groundbreaking mob prosecutions in the "Pizza Connection" case and others. Plus, it's important to have a "sense of humor" about such things, he said.

Staff writer Carl MacGowan contributed to this story.
Copyright 2007 Newsday Inc.

Friday, April 6, 2007

New Gingrich Tries to Translate His Remarks on YouTube

(from The Washington Post)

Newt Gingrich Tries To Translate His Remarks on YouTube

By Jose Antonio Vargas
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 6, 2007; C01

On Wednesday, former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who's mulling a White House run, apologized in a YouTube video for his recent remarks equating bilingual education with "the language of living in a ghetto."

The apology was delivered in English and Spanish, with the three-minute Spanish video, "Mensaje de Newt Gingrich," subtitled in English. Can't get any more bilingual than that.

(However: Memorando al SeƱor Gingrich: In Spanish, the "r" is rolled and the syl-la-bles are se-pa-ra-ted.)

In an interview yesterday, the Georgia Republican called his choice of words "clumsy."

"Look, people are misunderstanding what I'm saying," Gingrich said. "What I was simply saying is that a language barrier -- any language barrier, whether you speak Hindi, Chinese, Vietnamese -- hampers a person's ability to communicate in the language of prosperity."

Last Saturday, Gingrich struck a similar chord. In a speech to the National Federation of Republican Women, he said Americans "believe English should be the official language of the government." In the past, he's frequently called for the end of bilingual education in schools, and in 1995, a year after taking the House speakership, he said that bilingualism poses "long-term dangers to the fabric of our nation."

"We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English," he told the women's group last weekend, "so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto."

The remarks drew a barrage of comments from the Latino community, and were quickly repudiated on popular Web sites such as Latin Americanist, Latino Pundit and Vivir Latino-- U.S. Latino life in blog form. A headline on Vivir Latino read "Newt -- Not Ghetto Fabulous," with Maegan Ortiz, the site's New York-based editor, writing: "Don't you love how politicos use Spanish when it works for them and when it doesn't, they trash it?" Similarly, Hispanic organizations such as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund were incredulous, calling Gingrich's comments "hateful."

"There is a clear understanding among Latino citizens and Latino immigrants that you must learn English to get good jobs, to fully participate in this society. There is no resistance to that fact," said Peter Zamora, a credentialed bilingual education teacher who is the co-chairman of the Washington-based Hispanic Education Coalition, which supports bilingual education.

Added Ortiz, who, like Zamora, watched Gingrich's mea culpa Wednesday night: "It's just so ironic that he'd use a video spoken in his ghetto Spanish to say sorry about a nasty, racist remark directed at the Latino community. I mean this is a guy whose own official Web site has his own biography written in Spanish. How hypocritical is that?"

As of yesterday afternoon, Gingrich's YouTube apology, the Spanish version, had been watched more than 34,000 times on the video-sharing site. Comments kept coming in, some viewers sympathetic to Gingrich, many not, others simply LOLing -- laughing out loud.

"While the rest of the world rushes to make their children bi- and trilingual, this linguistically arrogant [person] bring his narrow mindedness to light," as one commenter put it.

"Keep it up, Newt. You're absolutely right," wrote another. "People who speak English have better opportunity in this country. That's not a racist or anti-Spanish statement, it's just the reality that speaking the dominant language of a country is a first step at being successful."

Another wrote: "This is freaking hilarious. Newt makes Bush sound like an expert in Spanish."

Gingrich said he began taking "intensive" Spanish lessons in 2001, before the Sept. 11 attacks. In the past year and a half, he'd finished "about 100 hours" of lessons, he said, adding that it took him three takes to tape his YouTube video.

Of the final product, he said with a laugh: "I hope it wasn't too painful to watch."

NY TIMES article

(from the NY Times.)

April 6, 2007
Romney Used His Wealth to Enlist Richest Donors

WASHINGTON, April 5 — Mitt Romney, the multimillionaire founder of a giant private equity firm, knew he did not need other people’s money to mount a presidential campaign. But as they began planning a campaign more than two years ago, Mr. Romney and his advisers wanted to avoid the fate of two other millionaires, Steve Forbes and Ross Perot, whose self-financed campaigns went down as quixotic indulgences.

“By Mitt or anyone else self-funding, you don’t have a lot of people making investments in you,” said Spencer Zwick, 28, the campaign’s fund-raising director and a close aide whom the candidate sometimes calls his sixth son. “To be credible, you have to show that you have raised resources from around the country.”

Instead of tapping his own money directly, Mr. Romney embarked on an effort to leverage his personal fortune into donations to his Republican primary campaign.

He spent $6 million of his own on the campaign that made him governor of Massachusetts in 2002. Then he almost immediately began parlaying his own wealth, a network of his fellow Mormons and financiers, and his fund-raising role for the Republican Governors Association, into a national operation that quietly has signed up some of the biggest supporters of President Bush. Thus, although he remains the least known of the Republican front-runners, he has already locked up some of the most important donors.

At the start of the first quarter of this year, for example, Mr. Romney lent his campaign $2.35 million to pay for an elaborate demonstration of just how fast he could raise money from others. He rented the Boston convention center, furnished it with more than 400 laptop computers, loaded each with custom software and had more than 400 telephone lines installed.

He invited 400 wealthy supporters, including dozens of chief executives he knew through business connections, to a reception at an adjacent hotel. The next day each sat down before a personal-contact list loaded into an assigned laptop, with dozens of technical support staff and campaign finance advisers standing by to assist. Reporters watched from the sidelines for hours as Mr. Romney’s supporters raised $6.5 million.

“It was a great show,” said Ron Kaufman, a White House political director under the first President Bush.

Mr. Kaufman said he walked out thinking, “That was the most impressive thing I have ever seen.”

By the end of the first quarter, Mr. Romney had brought in more than $20 million, vaulting ahead of his better-known rivals for the Republican nomination, Senator John McCain of Arizona and Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor. Mr. Romney’s campaign calls the money evidence of his broad appeal.

“His message sells,” Mr. Zwick said.

Mr. Romney’s financial support is deep but narrow. He amassed $20 million from fewer than 33,000 donors, according to figures disclosed by his campaign. By comparison, Mr. McCain raised $12.5 million from nearly 50,000 donors while Senator Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois, raised $25 million from more than 100,000. Their average contributors each gave about $250; Mr. Romney’s gave more than $600.

Mr. Romney’s backers note that he raised the money despite very low name recognition nationwide. .

“It is why he is a viable candidate for president,” Mr. Kaufman said, asserting that it helps demonstrate the candidate’s management skills.

Mr. Romney has not always avoided putting his money behind his political career. When he left his private equity firm, Bain Capital, in 1998 to take over the foundering Salt Lake City winter Olympics, he threw in $1 million to start the turnaround.

In addition to the $6 million he spent on his 2002 campaign for governor, Mr. Romney last year dipped into his own pocket to contribute to Republican candidates for governor in potentially pivotal states — $3,500 in South Carolina, $2,000 in Iowa and $1,000 in Minnesota. (In Utah, he also gave $10,000 to the campaign of Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr., whose father is a major donor to Mr. Romney’s campaign; and $3,400 to the unsuccessful Michigan campaign for governor of Richard DeVos, a big conservative donor.)

But soon after he was elected governor of Massachusetts, Mr. Romney turned into a fund-raising machine, setting up a series of federal and state political action committees that together let individual donors give far more than the federal campaign spending limits.

To fill them, Mr. Romney turned in part to connections in the tight-knit world of wealthy fellow members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Of the roughly 450 people who have given the $5,000 maximum allowed annually to his federal political action committee, about a quarter are from Utah, the center of the Mormon church. And of his top eight donors, four — J. Willard Marriott Jr. and his brother, Richard Marriott, the hotel executives; Jon M. Huntsman Sr., the plastics mogul; and L. E. Simmons, the software chief executive — are Mormons who each gave more than $100,000, according to data compiled by the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

In addition, Mr. Romney tapped many of the financiers with whom he used to make deals as Bain Capital’s founder. More than 70 of the donors who contributed the maximum to his federal political action committee came from the investment business. They included several top executives of Bain and the giant buyout firms HM Capital Partners; Thomas H. Lee; Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Co.; and The Blackstone Group. Stephen A. Schwarzman, Blackstone’s billionaire co-founder, gave about $50,000 to Mr. Romney’s various funds.

His biggest PAC donor, Peter Karmanos Jr., the chairman of Compuware, said he is both a family friend and a business connection, according to a company spokesman, who declined to elaborate. Mr. Romney’s brother, G. Scott Romney, sits on the Compuware board, and Mr. Karmanos gave about $250,000 to Mr. Romney’s committees.

Beginning in 2002, Mr. Romney also steadily climbed the fund-raising ladder of the Republican Governors Association, becoming its chairman in 2006 and impressing some of the major conservative donors he met through the association, according to Mr. Kaufman.

For example, Mr. Romney and Mr. Zwick, the campaign fund-raising director, visited with Bob J. Perry, the Texas homebuilder who was one of President Bush’s top supporters, a little less than two years ago.

“He asked in that first meeting, ‘Mitt, are you going to run for president?’ ” Mr. Zwick recalled.

Mr. Perry eventually gave $2.05 million to the governors’ association and more than $100,000 to Mr. Romney’s political action committees. Mr. Perry was impressed that Mr. Romney was “a strong leader and not a career politician,” said Anthony Holm, his spokesman.

About the same time, Mr. Romney met Carl H. Lindner Jr., the founder of the American Financial Group and patriarch of a family that is among the biggest conservative donors in the country. Mr. Romney visited Mr. Lindner’s Cincinnati home to give a speech at a fund-raiser for a local campaign, and the two millionaires found that they had much in common, Mr. Zwick recalled.

Since then, Mr. Zwick said, Mr. Romney and his wife, Ann, have traveled to spend time socially with Mr. Lindner and his wife, Edyth, and with their son Craig and his wife.

Mr. Lindner gave $150,000 to the Republican Governors Association under Mr. Romney, and about $245,000 to Mr. Romney’s political action committees.

More than 20 major Bush donors have given also to Mr. Romney, including Ambassador Sam Fox; Ambassador Mel Sembler; the real estate developer Robert Congel of New York; and Ted Welch of Tennessee, an investor.

In all, Mr. Romney helped the Republican Governors Association raise $26 million and his political action committees raised a total of $8.8 million to build support for his presidential campaign.

Some of the association expenditures may have dovetailed with Mr. Romney’s fund-raising in his campaign for the presidential nomination. The association directed $1 million to the campaign for governor of Mr. DeVos at the same time Mr. DeVos himself was giving $2 million to the association. He lost the election and is not yet supporting a candidate.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Romney makes gains in New Hampshire

(from The Hill)

Romney makes gains in New Hampshire
By Klaus Marre

April 05, 2007

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has surged in the Republican primary field in New Hampshire and is now tied for first place, according to a new Zogby poll released Thursday.
With 25 percent of support, Romney is tied with Sen. John McCain (Ariz.). Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is third among Republican presidential contenders, with 19 percent.

The poll rounds off a successful week for Romney, who last month polled at 13 percent in New Hampshire. His campaign disclosed earlier this week that the former governor won the GOP fundraising battle in the first quarter, hauling in $20.63 million and outdistancing McCain and Giuliani.

“Score this as a big week for Mitt Romney,” said pollster John Zogby. “These poll numbers, together with the small increase in Iowa and a huge fundraising effort, puts him into the top tier and makes him a major player in the race for the GOP nomination.”

The poll was conducted between April 2 and 3 and has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

Another poll released Wednesday, this one conducted by CNN and WMUR, has McCain and Giuliani leading with 29 percent and Romney coming in third with 17 percent. The survey had a margin of error of 5.5 percent and also shows that McCain's favorability rating has increased the most of any GOP candidate in the past month.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Newcomers' Fundraising Shakes Up Field

(from The Washington Post. frankly, i find it extremely interesting that the liberal media is so shocked that governor romney raised so much money. and, quite frankly, i hope the liberal media stays away from giving coverage to the governor until this summer. better to lay under the radar for a bit and let the talk of mccain and guiliani bore people then to jump up front and wear out the national interest too early...)

Newcomers' Fundraising Shakes Up Field

By Chris Cillizza Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 4, 2007; 3:20 PM

Amid a sea of seasoned politicians, two new faces stole the headlines this week in the critical chase for campaign cash.

Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) announcement today that he had raised $25 million during the first three months of the year rocked the Democratic field, just as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's $21 million haul shook up the Republican side a few days ago. Most of Obama's money and all of Romney's take can be spent in the primaries next year, giving the two a huge advantage over some of their rivals whose funds must be divided between their primary and general election campaigns.

Obama and Romney have each won just a single election to statewide office and have spent a combined six years in those posts. Statewide and national polls have shown Obama running second or third behind Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards in the Democratic race, while Romney on the Republican side had been mired in the single digits before his recent surge in popularity in New Hampshire and Iowa.

So, why then were they able to outshine far better known political commodities like Clinton (N.Y.) and Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain?

"We are coming off of back-to-back eight year runs in the White House," said Alex Vogel, a GOP lobbyist not affiliated with any of the current presidential candidates. "It makes sense that the American people are interested and enamored with new brands."

This is the first time since 1952 that neither party has an incumbent president or vice president seeking the nomination of their party. The wide-open nature of the field coupled with the presence of several high-profile candidates on each side has created an excitement and interest among voters that has not been seen in recent political history.

In a bid to capitalize on that hunger for change, Romney and Obama both have played up their credentials as outsiders -- promising voters a departure from the status quo in Washington.

For Obama, a charismatic speaker, that means a laser-like focus on his long-held opposition to the war in Iraq. The war has proved to be the single most animating issue for many Democratic primary voters who are disappointed in Clinton for supporting the 2002 use-of-force resolution against Iraq and who has not been forceful enough in her more recent condemnation of the conflict.

Romney's message is less issue-centric. Instead, the former businessman and governor offers a broad call for "innovation and transformation" that, he subtly suggests, has been missing from his party of late.

"Even as America faces a new generation of challenges, the halls of government are clogged with petty politics and stuffed with peddlers of influence," Romney said in his announcement speech.

The surprising financial strength of Obama and Romney seems to show that their messages are resonating in dramatic fashion.

In some ways, Obama's campaign finance success is more surprising than that of Romney's. Romney was the immediate past chairman of the Republican Governors Association as well as a co-founder of Bain Capital and the head of the 2002 Salt Lake City winter Olympics, which were all lucrative fundraising avenues. Obama, in contrast, arrived in the Senate in 2004 with a skeleton of a national fundraising operation and was forced to build one on the fly after formally announcing his candidacy just ten weeks ago.

Obama's rapid financial growth, fueled by more than 100,000 donors and $7 million raised via the Internet, has forced a recalibration of the handicapping for the Democratic competition as Obama proved to be a much stronger fundraiser than many assumed, said several party sources without ties to any of the candidates.

"Today's announcement is a complete game changer," said Stephanie Cutter, who served as communications director for Democratic Sen. John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. "Obama exceeded all expectations, and demonstrated that his message and candidacy has taken hold and has significant staying-power because he's appealing to new donors and grassroots' support."

Prior to Obama's decision to enter the race, Clinton had been expected to enjoy a broad financial advantage over her rivals for the Democratic nomination. Her perceived financial superiority was considered key to her status as the frontrunner -- especially in light of decision by officials of large states like California and New York that are expensive to campaign in to move up their primaries to next Feb. 5.

The Clinton campaign had been talking up Obama's fundraising numbers for the past several weeks in hopes of diminishing the impact of today's announcement. "I would expect Senator Obama is going to have a comparable amount of money to what we have," Clinton finance chairman Terry McAuliffe said during a Sunday conference call with reporters.

Patti Solis Doyle, Clinton's campaign manager, echoed that sentiment in a statement put out by the campaign after Obama's fundraising figures were made public today.

"We are thrilled with our historic fundraising success and congratulate Senator Obama and the entire Democratic field on their fundraising, which demonstrates the overwhelming desire for change in our country," said Solis Doyle.

On the Republican side, Romney's showing drew kudos from a wide variety of political operatives who praised not just the eye-popping total but also the campaign discipline it took to raise such enormous sums.

"I think the Governor surprised more than a few folks and not just by the amount of money he raised, but the organizational ability it takes to raise it," said Chris LaCivita, a leading Republican consultant.

Romney's success has already forced McCain to alter his approach to fundraising. Former House member Tom Loeffler of Texas, who is serving as McCain's finance chairman, will now oversee the entire fundraising operation. The campaign has also created McCain's 200 (for donors who gather $200,000 or more in contributions) and McCain's 100 ($100,000 or more) to provide some rigor to its bundling program. "There are now new metrics of accountability in place," said McCain communications director Brian Jones.

McCain is also moving quickly to re-establish his policy credentials with a series of speeches over the next three weeks. He'll deliver an Iraq-centered speech at the Virginia Military Institute next Wednesday and will follow that up with an address on economic policy and government waste in Memphis, Tennessee on April 16 . A third speech, also focused on domestic policy, is set for April 23 although no location has yet been chosen.

The question for McCain is whether this reshuffling of the deck within his organization and revised message can resurrect the image that led him to the precipice of the Republican nomination in 2000.

Romney is working to keep McCain on the mat, announcing today that Doug Struyk and David Tjepkes, two Iowa state representatives who had previously signed onto McCain's Straight Talk America PAC, were switching allegiance to Romney. The former governor is also back on the television airwaves in Iowa and New Hampshire with an ad touting his fiscal discipline.

"In Washington, the echo chamber of what's happening there and the constant bang and clatter from inside 'The Beltway' leads everyone to believe that it's the center of the universe," said Romney spokesman Kevin Madden.

"There's a frustration with the status quo mentality, and since Governor Romney's message is one of change that essentially says 'Hey, Washington needs a fresh set of eyes and new ideas,' we're seeing a greater degree of support that agrees with Governor Romney's approach," he added.

Jackpot won, Romney Now Works on Name Recognition

(from the New York Times

Jackpot Won, Romney Now Works on Name Recognition

MANCHESTER, N.H., April 3 — Mitt Romney dashed across southern New Hampshire on Tuesday, enjoying the media attention that has come with his new fund-raising haul while trying to raise his profile among voters.

He started the day in a television studio in Watertown, Mass., doing interviews with the morning shows of all three broadcast networks, before driving to Keene, N.H., for a community forum that attracted a few dozen people along with a sizable news media contingent.

Mr. Romney’s campaign announced Monday that it had raised $20 million in the first quarter, outpacing efforts by his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination. But he has trailed Senator John McCain of Arizona and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, the most established Republican contenders, in most nationwide polls. His supporters say the reason is largely that few people outside Massachusetts, where he was governor until three months ago, and Utah, where he was chief executive of the organizing committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics, yet know who he is.

So in introducing himself Tuesday to voters here in the state with the first presidential primary, Mr. Romney focused on his biography. He took them through his successful career in management consulting and venture capital, then his experience tackling the problems of the troubled Salt Lake City Olympics and finally his record as a one-term governor.

In a stump speech that he is still smoothing, he portrayed himself as a Washington outsider who would bring his private-sector experience to bear on reforming government.

“Whether you agree with me or disagree with me on issue after issue, one thing that is clear is I bring change to an organization I’m associated with,” he said during an afternoon speech in Manchester at offices of Easter Seals. The country requires change, he said, from “business-as-usual lifelong politicians always debating and arguing and poking at each other about the way things get done.”

The candidate also sought to play up his large family as evidence of the kind of values he espouses. He and his wife, Ann, high school sweethearts, have 5 children and 10 grandchildren.

Their oldest son, Tagg, who quit his job as a marketing executive for the Los Angeles Dodgers to join his father in campaigning, was with him Tuesday, along with Tagg’s 11-year-old daughter, Allie. They were introduced to audiences at several events.

“I have a big incentive to do a good job: 5 sons, 5 daughters-in-laws and 10 grandkids,” Mr. Romney said in his stop at Easter Seals, adding, in remarks to a group that included a large number of older people, “I want to make sure that the America my grandkids inherit is an America with just as much promise, just as much opportunity and just as much hope as some in your generation gave to me and my kids.”

Mr. Romney’s conservative critics have dogged him in recent months, raising questions about his conservative credentials. Some have noted that as recently as 2002 he supported protecting abortion rights in Massachusetts and that he joined the National Rifle Association only after it became clear that he was planning to run for president.

But perhaps because many people are still getting to know him, voters in Keene and Manchester did not press him on those issues Tuesday.

Local reporters did sharply question him, however, and he responded with well-practiced answers.

“I did change my view on abortion, but my view on same-sex marriage is the same,” he said. “I’ve opposed same-sex marriage from the beginning. Of course, with time and experience, I’m going to change my views where I’ve learned I’ve been wrong.”

In an interview, he explained: “I have always been personally pro-life. The issue for me was, What should the role of government be?” But, he said, he came to believe that states should be permitted to restrict abortion.

Several voters said Tuesday that they believed Mr. Romney’s change of position was genuine.

“I think we all grow,” said Canon Samir J. Habiby, a retired Episcopal priest, who dropped by to hear him in Keene. “I think he’s believable.”

Mr. Romney, a Mormon, was not asked by his audiences Tuesday about his faith, which some analysts have suggested could make him unelectable. In the interview, he said his religion was usually raised only by reporters.

When asked about the issue, one New Hampshirite, Cindy Meade, said it was irrelevant. “Religion shouldn’t come into it,” said Ms. Meade, an administrative assistant at Granite State Manufacturing, a Manchester company Mr. Romney visited Tuesday. “That to me is discrimination.”

Mr. Romney mentioned that his $20 million first-quarter take had come from some 32,000 to 33,000 donors. But though he said his fund-raising triumph showed that his message was resonating, his events Tuesday were mostly small affairs. Money will allow him to begin to change that and reach large audiences, he said. He expects to make major purchases of television time and build an extensive field operation as he focuses on the early primary states.

“Obviously I’m not as well known as Senator McCain and Mayor Giuliani at this stage,” he said, “but raising money from people who support my effort gives me the opportunity to build the kind of awareness that we’ll need to win the primaries and the caucuses.”

While he may be able to raise a lot of money, though, he does not always carry much of it around. Having sampled a piece of blueberry pie and a glass of milk at a diner in Peterborough, N.H., he had to borrow $5 from his son to pay. “I’ve got 55 cents,” Mr. Romney said.

Romney vows vetoes of excess spending

(from Politico's link to Iowa paper)

Romney vows vetoes of excess spending

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney burnished his image as a tight-fisted conservative at Statehouse press conference today, where he was joined by a group of GOP legislators backing his presidential bid.

"Washington is a broken place right now, dysfunctional in some respects," said the former Massachusetts governor. "We have to rein in spending," said Romney, touting his proposal to cap non-defense discretionary spending and promising to veto spending bills that would exceed the cap.

Romney rapped House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Syria and Democratic leaders' efforts to set a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. Pelosi and Senate leader Harry Reid shouldn't "dictate to the commanders in the field and the commander in chief," he said.

Romney also announced that a dozen Republican legislators have endorsed his candidacy.

Later today, Romney is scheduled to open his Iowa headquarters at 5:15 p.m. at 3590 109th St., Urbandale and hold a "Ask Mitt Anything" Tele-Town Hall
Meeting at the headquarters at 6:30 p.m.

Obama raises $25 million

(from yahoo. personally, i've never thought hillary would win the nomination and i'm sure thse type of numbers from obama her freaking her people out. but watch out for edwards. should he decide richardson for his VP, then it'll make for a competitive D v. R after Feb '09)

Obama raises $25M from 100,000 donors By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer
14 minutes ago

Democrat Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record) raked in $25 million for his presidential bid in the first three months of 2007, placing him on a par with front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton and dashing her image as the party's inevitable nominee.

The donations came from an eye-popping 100,000 donors, the campaign said in a statement.

The figure was the latest evidence that Obama, a political newcomer who has served just two years in the Senate, has emerged as the most powerful new force in presidential politics this year. It also reinforced his status as a significant threat to Clinton, who'd hoped her own $26 million first quarter fundraising total would begin to squeeze her rivals out of contention.

The campaign reported that the figure included at least $23.5 million that he can spend on the highly competitive primary race. The Clinton campaign has yet to disclose how much they can use for the primary verses money that is designated for the general election.

While Clinton has honed a vast national fundraising network through two Senate campaigns and her husband's eight years as president, Obama launched his bid for the White House with a relatively small donor base concentrated largely in Illinois, his home state. But his early opposition to the Iraq war and voter excitement over his quest to be the first black president quickly fueled a powerful fundraising machine.

More than half the donors contributed via the Internet a total of $6.9 million, the campaign said.

"This overwhelming response, in only a few short weeks, shows the hunger for a different kind of politics in this country and a belief at the grassroots level that Barack Obama can bring out the best in America to solve our problems," said Obama finance chairwoman Penny Pritzker.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Romney Outpaces GOP Pack in Fundraising

(from The Washington Post. Oh! and can i just say that the best part about Hardball last night was Kevin Madden who, my room-mates and I all agree, is just about the hotest campaign man we've seen in a long time. *wink*)

Romney Outpaces GOP Pack in Fundraising
McCain's Team Regroups at No. 3

By Matthew Mosk and Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, April 3, 2007; A01

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney provided a jolt to the Republican presidential contest yesterday, reporting a haul of $21 million in the first three months of the year, as Sen. John McCain of Arizona posted a lackluster third-place finish that even his campaign manager called a disappointment.

As campaigns release their first meaningful fundraising figures in what appears certain to become the most expensive presidential campaign in history, McCain's $12.5 million total also put him behind former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who leads the Republican field in public polls and reported taking in $15 million in the first quarter.

Among Democrats, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) has set the pace for the field so far, reporting Sunday that she had raised $26 million in combined primary and general election funds and transferred an additional $10 million from her Senate campaign account. Her total was followed by that of former North Carolina senator John Edwards, who raised $14 million. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois has so far declined to release figures for his campaign.

The totals of the major contenders easily surpassed the record $8.9 million raised by Al Gore in the first three months of 1999.

Romney has labored in single digits in polling but has been an aggressive fundraiser. He launched his campaign with a "National Call Day" at the convention center in Boston in January, where nearly 400 of his supporters, including Meg Whitman, the chief executive of eBay, and Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt called friends to ask them to back Romney. The event raised a whopping $6.5 million in a single day.

But the showing by McCain, who had been ordained the front-runner in the GOP contest from Day One and had worked to win over many of the fundraising Pioneers and Rangers who helped fill President Bush's coffers in 2000 and 2004, was a surprise to both analysts and rival campaigns. Most characterized the numbers as an unexpected sign of distress for a campaign that has been building its machinery for eight years and was one of the first to set up a fundraising committee.

"By any historical measure, $12.5 million is a lot of money," said Alex Vogel, a Republican strategist not affiliated with any candidate. "But McCain was the front-runner for so long, the expectation was he would not come in third."

McCain campaign manager Terry Nelson acknowledged as much yesterday, coupling his release of the dollar figure with the gloomy admission that "we had hoped to do better."

Nelson said the campaign has begun to aggressively revamp its fundraising operations and insisted in an interview that the showing does not reflect a lack of support for the Arizona senator.

"While we wish we would have done better in this quarter, certainly we did well enough to fight an effective campaign, which is what we're going to do," he said.

Nelson added that a new system of accountability, including targets for individual fundraisers, has been established for the members of McCain's finance team. The campaign also announced that its general co-chairman, former Texas congressman Tom Loeffler, recently was put in charge of fundraising and began a review of fundraising operations.

In interviews yesterday, key 2008 fundraisers blamed McCain's lackluster quarter on a host of shortcomings, most notably his difficulty summoning support from traditional Republican donors who were unhappy about his campaign finance reform agenda in the Senate and his earlier clashes with Bush.

"I think there are a lot of people out there who got turned off during the South Carolina primary eight years ago and never returned," said Richard Hug, who won Ranger designation because he raised more than $200,000 for Bush's campaign efforts.

"It was very bitter," said Hug, who is assisting Giuliani. "I don't think [McCain] has a whole lot of support among the Bush people in general."

Wayne Berman, a Washington lobbyist and Bush Pioneer who is backing McCain, said yesterday that the disappointing figures stem from a failure to organize large donor events earlier in the year. He said the campaign held just a handful of events in January and February, and started to pick up the pace in March, with 23 fundraisers.

"The opportunities simply weren't there for people to give," Berman said.

But Berman discounted the impact the numbers would have on the campaign moving forward. He said McCain already has two dozen events scheduled for April and a similar number on the books for May.

A large fundraising take at this stage "is hugely important if you have to prove you are a credible candidate," Berman said. "McCain is an enormously credible candidate already. He is extremely visible, and is the most visible on the most difficult and defining issue of the day. He's in Iraq, he's on TV, he's talking about the broader war on terror."

In the first quarter, the candidate who benefited the most was Romney. In addition to announcing his formidable total, his campaign also pointed out that all the money he raised can be spent in the primaries. Romney also lent his campaign about $2 million, putting his total figure closer to $23 million.

Scott Reed, a Republican strategist who is not affiliated with a 2008 campaign, said Romney "cemented his position as a first-tier candidate."

"This reinforces the notion that he can go the distance," Reed said.

Ronald C. Kaufman, a lobbyist who has been advising Romney on his fundraising effort, said the candidate built on a range of connections he has made over his lifetime. He said donors included supporters from Michigan, where Romney's father served as governor; contacts from his career as a management consultant, running the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002 and serving as Massachusetts governor; as well as fellow Mormons.

"I think he did a really good job of tapping into all those worlds," Kaufman said.

Romney's showing rivaled the almost $30 million that then-candidate Bush raised in the second quarter of 1999.

Early success in fundraising is no guarantee of results at the ballot box. In 1995, then-Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas raised more than $8 million and had $13.5 million on hand at the end of the first quarter of campaigning, but he did not stay in the Republican contest beyond a fifth-place finish in Iowa.

Fergus Cullen, a former Gramm staffer who is now the chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, said experience taught him that McCain, a candidate with a formidable campaign organization in the state, should not be counted out.

"I know firsthand that money isn't everything," said Cullen, who is not backing a candidate in the Republican primary. Gramm "had all the money and none of the votes."

Because full campaign finance reports will not be available until April 15, it is unclear just how much of a financial handicap McCain will face. None of the candidates have released figures on how much they spent during the first quarter, and among the Republicans, only Giuliani announced how much money remained in his account when March ended.

Giuliani aides announced that he had raised $15 million overall, $14 million of which is eligible to be spent in the primaries, and had $11 million in cash on hand.

Jack Oliver, who headed Bush's finance effort, said it is "critical to look at what the burn rate is." He said, "If it cost you a lot of money to raise these amounts, they aren't nearly as much help."

Staff writers Dan Balz and Michael D. Shear contributed to this report.

Monday, April 2, 2007

McCain only raises $12.5 million

from Hotline -- seriously one of my favorite websites -- reports that McCain only raised $12.5 million. for the "front-runner" that pretty much stinks. and i can not emphasize enough that the liberal toying of the RNC field by declaring we merely anoint the next-in-line is WRONG. obviously we are more intelligent than to work on mere political pedigree.

romney is the winner. guiliani will be plagued by the kerik trial, tommy thompson doesn't have a whole lot of traction, and fred thompson won't be able to swallow the financial distance because the hollywood money does not go to republicans. that leaves the others in the field and, quite frankly, at this point the field is down to the top three.

to quote a famous Congressman: "Romney is the next Reagan." 'Enough said.

Romney 1st quarter fundraising tops field

(from Hotline. i don't care what you say...this is AMAZING!!! and for those relying on all those polling stats, all i have to say -- not to feed the machine of insanity -- is that 8% nation-wide polling on name recognition can be eaten up by this type of numbers. CONGRATS TO THE ROMNEY TEAM!)

April 02, 2007
More Romney Details
From the campaign:

Romney for President raised $23 million in total receipts for the First Quarter ending March 31, 2007.

The Campaign opted to raise no general election funds and raised $20.63 million in primary contributions.

The total includes a $2.35 million loan from Governor Romney and a $20,000 transfer from his 1994 Senate campaign.

Contributions were received from all 50 States and Washington, D.C.

Romney Raises $23M -- Tops GOP Field

Ex-MA Gov. Mitt Romney raised $23M this quarter, more than enough to top the field of Republican contenders.

That Romney was able to squeeze so many low hanging fruit sources in what has inarguably been a rough political quarter for him speaks highly of the relationships he’s cultivated over these years. It's also a testament to his fundraising team, led by Spencer Zwick, and the campaign's technologically advanced ComMitt activism platform. All Romney's money was raised into his primary campaign accounts.

Romney's burn rate -- tbd.

We await Sen. John McCain to report in. That might happen tomorrow.

His advisers are steeling themselves for a sobering number. Our educated estimate is that, of the top tier Republicans, McCain will raise the third most amount of money and have the third most on hand.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Fundraising Reports Not Likely To Pack Knockout in WH Race

(from the politico)

Fundraising Reports Not Likely To Pack Knockout in WH Race
By: Jeanne Cummings and Kenneth P. Vogel
March 29, 2007 08:48 AM EST

The much hyped first-quarter fundraising deadline for presidential candidates is unlikely to fundamentally scramble the leader board of either party, an outcome that will surely increase pressure on them to keep up the pace in the next quarter.

Fear of being caught by surprise by a competitor and knocked out of the top tier has driven all the campaigns into a frenzied money-raising mode. Fundraising events are scheduled right up to Saturday's midnight deadline.

The tallies for the first three months of this year, due to the Federal Election Commission by April 15, are likely to set a first-quarter fundraising record. And the presidential campaign is expected to be the nation's first $1 billion race.

"Everybody's going to have a decent quarter," predicted Fred Baron, finance chairman for Democratic hopeful John Edwards.

So while there may be some reordering of the top fields, it appears as though a knockout punch is not in the offing. Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and Edwards and Republicans John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney are the front-runners going into Saturday's deadline and expected to remain after it, even if one falls short in the expectations game.

That could mean the broader impact of the first-quarter reports will be twofold: Elevating the importance of second-quarter fundraising, when the front-runners must show they can maintain momentum, and providing a pecking order to the second-tier candidates who are trying to cling to fourth place and a chance to break through later.

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"The candidates now are generally gathering donations from core supporters and pre-identified donors," said Anthony J. Corrado Jr., a campaign finance expert at Colby College in Maine. "In the second quarter, we will see who is moving beyond their base and building a national fundraising base."

The primary reason for this cycle's heated first-quarter pace is Edwards' surprising showing in 2003, when he outraised Democratic front-runner John F. Kerry and catapulted to the top of the primary field.

But later quarters also have a history of reshaping primary contests. In 1999, George W. Bush raised $29.5 million between April and July 1 when he was governor of Texas, and within weeks, lesser-funded candidates began dropping out of the GOP race. In 2003, Howard Dean pulled in $15 million in the third quarter, dramatically reshaping the primary's leading candidate roster and elevating the war in Iraq as an issue.

Republican Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, is trying to emerge as his party's candidate of choice for conservatives much as Dean captured the Democrat's liberal wing. "The debates are going to really start showing what the candidates are about and, on those nights, we're not going to be wearing name tags with how much money we raised," Huckabee said.

Even so, in these final hours of the first quarter, the candidates are still racing for last-minute donations.

Huckabee will hold a Washington fundraiser Thursday night headlined by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska). Clinton and Obama, as well as Romney, will close the quarter with events in Florida. Edwards continues a tour through West Virginia, Indiana and Ohio before winding up at a Saturday fundraising event in home state North Carolina.

Candidates hoping to become "tier jumpers" are also working the circuit and many have the ability to record their own eye-catching numbers in the first quarter. And former FEC chairman Michael E. Toner says that could draw fresh attention from the news media and donors "and suddenly you have to treat them like they're in the top tier."

Much attention will focus on Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who ended the year with nearly $5 million in his campaign account that can be transferred to his presidential coffers. He also can tap his wealthy hometown constituents and others in nearby New York. His ascendance to chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee provides an advantage by bringing him into regular contact with deep-pocketed lobbyists and executives.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Cabinet secretary in the Clinton administration, has a history of generating cash. He raised $14 million for his reelection campaign last year. He also has a national fundraising network cultivated during his leadership of the Democratic Governors Association and the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

His campaign manager, Dave Contarino, says Richardson will have a "respectable" first quarter total. But his primary focus will be on the early primary states, particularly nearby Nevada.

"We believe that the governor has a lot of attributes that Westerners like and that the voters in Nevada will like. We're going to be expected to show something in Nevada, but that doesn't change the fact that in Iowa, where I realize that the press has zero expectations for the governor, and maybe New Hampshire, where they have zero plus one, we expect our candidate to do quite well," Contarino said. He added: "If we can show momentum and start to take off, then the money will follow."

Similar strategies are being adopted on the Republican side. Former Wisconsin governor Tommy G. Thompson, who served in the Bush Cabinet, raised $6.5 million for his last gubernatorial campaign in 1998, giving him a home state base to tap. On the presidential field, he is banking on a good showing in the Aug. 11 straw poll in Iowa to elevate his candidacy later in the cycle, says spokesman Tony Jewell.

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) has also been quietly working Iowa, hoping his deep roots in the agriculture community and long-standing ties to the conservative wing of the GOP will give him momentum. But he's got competition for the conservative moniker from Huckabee and former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore.

Gilmore did not hold his first fundraiser until Monday, a week before the end of the first quarter. His campaign consultant, Christian Josi, said Gilmore raised $200,000 and will pick up the fundraising pace in the second quarter. However, he said, Gilmore is not aiming to catch the front-runners.

"Our challenge is to emerge as the (conservative) alternative, as the fourth front-runner," Josi said. "And to do that, frankly, we don't need $100 million."

TM & © THE POLITICO & POLITICO.COM, a division of Allbritton Communications Company

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Fred Thompson

(this from the Washington Post. personally, i find all this chatter about thompson interesting. is he viable? obviously that decision is up to our primary voters but the larger discussion is the fact that the current TN governor phil bredesen will be term-limited out in the next election in which case bill frist will surely want to toss his hat in. if he doesn't, then maybe it's fred thompson. either way, both men are "power players" in tennessee and what better way to cement your reputation and build chatter around your future gubernatorial run then to have the national media hunt you down for POTUS in '08?

i'm just sayin'...something to think about...)

Fred Thompson: Man About Town
That Fred Thompson really gets around!

After having lunch Monday at the Mayflower hotel restaurant with Republican Party master strategist Ed Gillespie, the actor and former Tennessee senator met for three hours Tuesday at the same location with former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, also of Tennessee.

The back-to-back meetings underscore just how serious Thompson is about mulling a run for the presidency. And who wouldn't run after managing to place third among GOP presidential candidates without even lifting a finger? Click here to see the new USA Today/Gallup poll, which has Thompson - an undeclared potential candidate - ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and others, trailing only former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani and Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Eric Euland, a former top aide to Frist when he was Senate majority leader, confirmed that Thompson sought Frist's guidance this week.

"Sen. Frist has been talking to lots of old friends whenever he is in town, including Sen. Thompson, whose common-sense conservative credentials are part of the national conversation Republicans are having now about the 2008 race as they examine the field and the positions of various folks ready to carry the party's banner forward to keep taxes low, bring spending under control, see continued economic growth and new jobs created, respect life and succeed in the war on terror."

A Frist confidant familiar with the meeting between Thompson and Frist said he thought Thompson was "deadly serious" about learning as much as he could from Frist, who had considered a run for president himself and who, as the former top Republican in the Senate, is a proven fundraiser and has a Rolodex full of donors' names.

The source, who asked not to be identified because he was discussing sensitive political matters, said the two former Volunteer State senators had a "good conversation" and now consider themselves "friends," despite some tension in the past when they served together in the Senate, where Thompson, a recognizable face from television and movies, naturally got more media attention that Frist, a no-name heart surgeon.

A close Thompson confidant, meanwhile, told The Sleuth that Thompson has "the luxury of sitting back and waiting" before jumping in the '08 waters. And while the former senator has been "bombarded" with requests to appear on TV shows to discuss his potential candidacy, the source said, he's going to "wait and see how things develop."

Former Tennessee GOP Sen. Howard Baker, who is urging Thompson to run, feels that with no clear frontrunner in the GOP primary field, and with Thompson's name and face recognition, he would be a viable contender, according to the Thompson confidant.

"But if we're wrong and McCain or Guiliani jumps ahead and is really rolling along, [Thompson] probably won't get in at all," the source said.

Michael Madigan , a partner at the law firm Akin Gump who served as chief counsel to Thompson in the Senate, said he didn't know about Thompson's meeting with Frist and couldn't comment on if or when Thompson might enter the presidential race.

He did, however, say that Thompson is "giving thoughtful and serious consideration" to running and that "Fred is unique in that he has both the leadership and charisma to inspire people and the intellectual goods to back it up."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Dems perspective: "More Than You Wanted to Know About Health Care"

(i know i've been a slacker about posting but there has been so much going on. i got a promotion, yeah, but back to the foremost domestic issue: healthcare. this is what the dems have to say about that...from the politico)

More Than You Wanted to Know About Health Care

By: Roger Simon
March 24, 2007 10:16 PM EST

LAS VEGAS -- Because you did not want to spend your Saturday sitting in a room for three hours listening to Democratic presidential candidates tell you how they are going to provide universal health care for America, Politico did it for you.

The candidates appeared in a forum sponsored by the Service Employees International Union and the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was moderated by Karen Tumulty of Time magazine.

Here are the highlights in the order that the candidates appeared:


The former senator from North Carolina got a tough first question from Tumulty. How could he do two “all-consuming” things at once: Both run for president and deal with his wife’s incurable cancer?

“We take our responsibility to serve our country very seriously,” Edwards, whose wife attended the forum with him, replied. “We want to serve. Both of us. Which is why we made the decision to go forward.”

Then he added: “I think we are getting far too much credit when you look at all the millions of women struggling with what Elizabeth has without her great health care coverage. A lot of women with exactly the same diagnosis as Elizabeth had to get up the next morning and go to work.”

What is his plan?

“I would cover all Americans. There would be shared responsibilities: Employers must cover their employees or pay into a fund. The government would create health care markets and you could choose your health care provider. Some would be private and some would be Medicare-plus -- kind of single-payer (i.e. government-run) plan. Everyone in America will be required by law to be covered by a health care plan.”

How much will it cost and how will he pay for it?

Edwards said his plan will cost $90 billion to $120 billion per year in government costs. The money would come from tax increases, though he prefers the phrase “additional sources of revenue.”

“I do not believe you can have universal health care without finding additional sources of revenue,” he said. “You don’t get universal health care for free."

When will we get it?

In his first term.

Most intriguing line:

“Some candidates say they will provide health care, improve the environment, end poverty, and eliminate the federal deficit. They probably have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you, too. America needs a president who is honest and honesty starts right here.”


The governor of New Mexico said, “We spend $2 trillion a year on health care and 31 percent of that is spent on bureaucracy and red tape. We must devise a strategy that, first of all, does not create any more bureaucracy.”

What is his plan?

All Americans should be able to purchase the same coverage as members of Congress and the president. Americans 55 and over should be able to purchase their coverage through Medicare. Veterans would have access to health care “anywhere they want, anytime they want.”

How much will it cost and how will he pay for it?

Richardson did not give a cost. As to paying for it, he said: “Get out of Iraq and put the $400 billion we are spending there into human needs. Reduce and eliminate inefficiencies (in the health care system). This is a plan that could be paid for without any new taxes."

When will we get it?

“With a Democratic president and a stronger Democratic Congress, the plan I outlined will be achieved in my first year as president.”

Most intriguing line:

“I just signed a statewide smoking ban in New Mexico (banning smoking in bars, restaurants, stores, and workplaces). I would do that as president.”


The junior senator from Illinois admitted he does not yet have a health care plan but said he will announce one in the next few months.

“The basic principles,” he said, “are everybody is in it, there has to be more money for prevention, and some form of pooling of costs and risks. If we have another forum in a few months and my plan is still not on my Web site, I will be in trouble.”

How much will it cost and how will he pay for it?

Obama did not mention cost, but said, “I think we are going to have to put some money in on the front end. I think we can make the system more efficient and get a lot of money out of the system. I haven’t foreclosed on needing additional revenues, but we should not underestimate the amount of money that can be saved.”

When will we get it?

He didn’t say.

Most intriguing line:

“Every four years, somebody trots out a health care plan. The question is do we have the political will and sense of urgency to actually get it done. I want to be held accountable to get it done.”


The junior senator from New York said, “A lot of people like what they have now. We don’t want people feeling that government will come in and tell me what to do and what doctor I want to go to. We will give people a choice. We have to look at that as a framework.”

What is her plan?

“I am in favor of universal health care coverage that brings in the 47 million who are uninsured and that begins to guarantee coverage to those who already have insurance. Insurance companies spend a lot of money trying to avoid insuring you and if they insure you, they try to avoid paying for the health care you need. Every health insurance company will have to insure everybody with no exclusions for pre-existing conditions.”

How much will it cost and how will she pay for it?

She did not give the cost. She said: “There will be some investments, but when I talk about how much money we need to spend, I cannot see us spending more money as a national expenditure without modernizing, ending discrimination, and promoting wellness. I don’t think we should say we will put more money into a system that is broken.”

When will we get it?

At a forum in Carson City, Nev., last month, Clinton said: “President Kennedy said he wanted a man on the moon by the end of the decade. I want universal health care coverage by the end of my second term.”

On Saturday, in Las Vegas, she was less clear as to her timetable. “I think we are all going to start as soon as possible,” she said. “Make no mistake, this will be a series of steps.”

Most intriguing line:

“I vaguely remember being young.”


The senior senator from Connecticut reminded the audience that the United States “ranks 26th in life expectancy and 28th in infant mortality, yet we account for more than 50 percent of the money spent worldwide on health care.”

What is his plan?

Dodd said his plan has four principles: universality, increased emphasis on prevention, expanding Medicare and Medicaid, and increasing the use of modern technology to lower health care costs.

How much will it cost and how will he pay for it?

He did not say how much it will cost. He did say, “We can pay for it if we can get rid of permanent tax cuts for the top one percent of earners and get rid of the Iraq war, which is costing us $2 billion a week.”

When will it happen?

“I am impatient. I will make this the first order of business in a Dodd administration. I would want to see it far sooner than four or eight years.”

Most intriguing line:

“My house is a Petri dish. One of my children has strep throat and another has some kind of adenoidal infection.”


The congressman from Ohio wants a single-payer health care system. He didn’t deal with costs or say when it would be achieved. But he did say he would fight for it no matter what the odds.

“What if Lincoln had decided there was just too much resistance to emancipation?” he said. “Think if suffragettes said there was too much resistance to women voting. Think if Martin Luther King had said we can only push so far for civil rights.”

Most intriguing line

“You need a president who didn’t fall out of a Christmas tree. You need a president who doesn’t have a key in the back being wound up by special interests.”


The former senator from Alaska wants a single-payer plan that uses vouchers issued to every American. But he is really running for president to promote a plan for direct democracy that would allow citizens to enact laws without having to rely on Congress.

Yet, when asked to explain how that would work, Gravel said: “I don’t want to take the time to go through the whole process. It is a national ballot initiative. It is revolutionary. It is out of the box.”

Most intriguing line:

“You can’t have everything you want. You can’t have a burp and run for the doctor.”

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Huizenga endorses Romney

(from Hotline)

Normally, the addition of a single name to a roster of 77 fundraisers wouldn't be noticed, but this is different: Ex-MA Gov. Mitt Romney has won the support of one of the most high profile, influential entrepreneurs in all of Florida -- a major GOP fundraiser to boot. This get will earn him some positive Sunshine State press. H. Wayne Huizenga is #153 on the list of Forbes's 100 richest Americans. His nickname in South Florida: "King Midas."

H. Wayne Huizenga Is The Creator Of Several Corporations, Including Three Fortune 500 Companies – Waste Management Inc, Blockbuster Video And AutoNation. He is the owner of the Miami Dolphins and, with the franchising of the Florida Marlins and Florida Panthers, was the driving force behind the introduction of baseball and hockey to South Florida. Huizenga is a renowned philanthropist whose beneficiaries include Nova Southeastern University where the business school carries his name.

The Washington Post writes on Romney's hair!?!!

from the esteemable Washington Post, a discourse on the hair of Mitt Romney and two of his top aides:

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Gov. Romney names Senator Stewart \iverson as Adviser to Iowa Campaign

Governor Mitt Romney Names Senator Stewart Iverson As Adviser To Iowa Campaign

Thursday, Mar 15, 2007
CONTACT: Kevin Madden (857) 288 - 6390

Boston, MA – Governor Mitt Romney has named former Senate Majority Leader Stewart Iverson (R-Dows) as an adviser to his presidential campaign in Iowa.

"Stew is a proven leader at the Statehouse and I am pleased to have him as an adviser on my campaign," said Governor Romney. "He has a long-standing reputation at the Statehouse, and across Iowa, for his unflinching conservatism and fiscal responsibility. He will be an important part of my team as we continue building our momentum with enthusiastic, grassroots Republicans."

Iverson served as the Iowa Senate's top-ranking Republican from 1997-2006. Most recently, Iverson was a top Iowa adviser to Governor George Pataki's 21st Century Freedom PAC.

On today's announcement, Iverson said, "Governor Romney is a proven conservative leader and will continue his strong leadership for our great nation. I look forward to working with Governor Romney and his strong Iowa organization."

Background On Stewart Iverson:

Stewart Iverson Has Had A Distinguished Career In The Iowa Legislature. Iverson served in the Iowa House from 1989-1994, and the Iowa Senate from 1994 to 2006. He was instrumental in securing Republican control of the Senate in the 1996 elections. From 1997-2006, Iverson served as the top-ranking Republican in the Senate. From Dows, in north-central Iowa, Iverson is a leader in the agricultural community, where he managed his own farm and worked with seed companies to market their products to buyers. He has been active in a number of agricultural and civic boards, and was a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps. Most recently, Iverson served as a top adviser to Governor George Pataki's 21st Century Freedom PAC.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Romney on Hannity and Colmes last night

(The Governor did great last night. Poor Governor Romney. He looks more tired now then two months ago...actually, I feel sympathic towards all the POTUS candidates. I can't imagine the level of stress and exhaustion they must feel. NY Times had a good article about the ramped up primary campaign yesterday. Read it here:

But first, Mitt Romney was on "Hannity & Colmes":

On his standing in the polls: "It's way too early to be looking at polls. This is very, very early in the presidential process. People start concentrating on these elections and making opinions in the fall. And by the fall and December, I'll be building my strength. Actually, there have been a lot of people in the past who have followed the same course. John McCain was one of them, Bill Clinton, of course. So front-runners usually have a difficult time, and I'm expecting that to happen in this election's case, as well."

FNC's Hannity: "[Giuliani]'s pro-choice. He has said he would appoint originalist justices like Scalia, and Thomas, and Alito. On that issue of judges, is that the type of justice you'd be looking for?"

Romney: "Well, of course, we're all going to talk about appointing judges that will follow the law and not legislate from the bench. But being pro-life is, of course, broader than just the kind of judges you appoint. There's legislation, which month to month and year to year comes forward, that can either protect the sanctity of time of can take it away. As governor, I had several measures that came to my desk, which affected life. And they were not court decisions; they were legislative decisions which I faced as governor. And if you're pro-life, then you're going to come down on the side of life. And if you're pro-choice, you'll take the other direction. And it's something where my record is clear. When my legislature tried redefine when life began, I said no. When they said they were going to clone human embryos for research purposes, I said no. When they said that they were going to block the education of our kids on abstinence in school, I said no. So we're going to be able to define ourselves based upon our positions on issues, and people can decide where they line up" (FNC, 3/12).

Friday, March 9, 2007

Clinton foe Gingrich admits impeachment-era affair

(i admire gingrich for confessing and owing up to this but i also wonder the motivation? is he trying to let the media hammer him on this issue before he announces for the presidency or...well...does he trying want to cleanse himself and find redemption on this issue? either way, presidential politics is a tough game. shoot! politics period is tough!)

Clinton foe Gingrich admits impeachment-era affair
By Randall Mikkelsen
Friday, March 9, 2007; 8:28 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican Newt Gingrich, who led the U.S. House of Representatives as it prepared to impeach Bill Clinton in a sex-and-perjury scandal, acknowledged in an interview released on Friday that he was having an affair at the time.

Gingrich, a potential 2008 presidential candidate, was asked by James Dobson of the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, whether he was engaged in an extramarital affair when former President Clinton was involved with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

"The honest answer is 'yes,"' Gingrich said in an interview released on the group's Web site. "But it's not related to what happened."

The affair has been widely reported previously.

Referring to his efforts as House speaker to oust Clinton, a Democrat, Gingrich said he was not judging the president personally.

"I drew a line in my mind that said even though I run the risk of being deeply embarrassed, and even though at a purely personal level I am not rendering judgment on another human being, as a leader of the government trying to uphold the rule of law, I have no choice except to move forward and say that you cannot accept felonies and you cannot accept perjury in your highest officials," Gingrich said.

Gingrich stepped down as speaker and quit Congress in 1998 amid ethics allegations and Republican losses in midterm elections.

Although the House impeached Clinton in December of that year for perjury and obstruction of justice, he was acquitted two months later in a Senate trial.

Gingrich has been married three times. In an often-told story, he discussed divorce details with his first wife, Jacqueline, while she was recovering from cancer surgery.

In 1981, he married Marianne Ginther, and they were divorced in 2000. Later that year he married a young congressional aide, Callista Bisek.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Congressmen Conaway endorses Gov. Romney

(yeah for more Texans showing luv for Governor Romney)

U.S. Representative Mike Conaway Endorses Governor Mitt Romney

CONTACT: Kevin Madden (857) 288 - 6390

Today, U.S. Representative Mike Conaway (R-TX) announced his support for Governor Mitt Romney. Representative Conaway will be joining the 23 other members of Governor Romney's Congressional Whip Team.

"I am honored to support Governor Romney and his vision of a stronger America. He shares the values of the people of my District – a belief in strong families, a strong military and lower taxes. A man of deep character and integrity, Governor Romney is the only conservative candidate who can bring real change to Washington. I am proud to be a part of his team," said Representative Conaway.

Welcoming Representative Conaway's endorsement, Governor Romney said, "I am pleased to have the support of Representative Conaway. Our country faces a new generation of challenges. The solution is not more government but to call upon the strength of people in places like West Texas. We are building a strong network in Texas and I am gratified that Representative Conaway will be serving on my campaign."

Background On U.S. Representative Mike Conaway:

Representing The 11th Congressional District Of Texas, Representative Conaway Has Demonstrated Strong Leadership In Washington And Is Currently An Assistant Republican Whip. A CPA, he has been a vocal proponent of fiscal responsibility, a simpler and fairer tax system, accountability in government and reducing the national debt. Representative Conaway currently serves on the House Agriculture, Armed Services, Budget and Republican Party Committees. As a member of the Armed Services Committee and an Army veteran, he has taken steps to support the fight against militant Jihadists. Representative Conaway served as Chief Financial Officer of Bush Exploration.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Cardenas does Romney radio ad for Spanish-speaking voters

(sorry. it's been a crazy few weeks. not that it matters b'ce the only people who read this are my room-mates. haha.)

BOSTON (AP) -- Presidential contender Mitt Romney has tapped a prominent Cuban- American Republican in Florida for his first radio ad targeting Spanish-speaking voters.

Al Cardenas, former chairman of the Florida Republican Party and a close ally of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, describes Romney as a friend of the Hispanic community and an ally in its drive for a Democratic Cuba.

"It is a difficult time in the world, in the Americas, and in our Cuba in transition," Cardenas says in his native Spanish during the spot, which promotes Romney's speech Friday at a Lincoln Day Dinner in Miami-Dade County. "Mitt Romney understands the dynamic of Cuba."

During an appearance in Florida last month, Romney declared he supported the current U.S. embargo on Cuba to avoid enriching Cuban President Fidel Castro, a Communist dictator he accused of disrupting peace and stability in the region.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a leading rival for the GOP nomination, similarly supports the embargo and has picked up the support of three prominent Cuban-American lawmakers, Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Mario Diaz-Balart, all Florida Republicans.

Romney has enjoyed the backing of several major Bush allies, including Ann Woods Herberger, who is a top Romney fundraiser, and Sally Bradshaw, who formerly worked as chief of staff to the Florida governor.

Last month, Romney announced a 77-person Florida finance committee, including Boca Raton developer Mark Guzzetta and former U.S. Ambassador Mel Sembler of St. Petersburg.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Romney on the Current Environment Debate

Governor Mitt Romney on the Current Environmental Debate
Friday, Feb 23, 2007
CONTACT: Kevin Madden (857) 288-6390

Boston, MA – Today, Governor Mitt Romney issued the following statement on the current environmental debate:

"Governor Mark Sanford is right. Unfortunately, some in the Republican Party are embracing the radical environmental ideas of the liberal left. As governor, I found that thoughtful environmentalism need not be anti-growth and anti-jobs. But Kyoto-style sweeping mandates, imposed unilaterally in the United States, would kill jobs, depress growth and shift manufacturing to the dirtiest developing nations.

"Republicans should never abandon pro-growth conservative principles in an effort to embrace the ideas of Al Gore. Instead of sweeping mandates, we must use America's power of innovation to develop alternative sources of energy and new technologies that use energy more efficiently."

Vilsack out

(from Hotline)

Vilsack's Dropping Out

Ex-IA Gov. Tom Vilsack will drop out of the 2008 presidential race today, three independent sources who were briefed on the decision said.


Huckabee: Don't Forget Me

(from Politico)

Huckabee: Don’t Forget Me
By: Mike Allen
February 23, 2007 10:01 AM EST

Exclusive: Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee plans to make a splash on Capitol Hill on Friday with the surprising announcement that Rep. Don Young of Alaska has signed on as congressional chairman of his Republican presidential exploratory committee.

In a letter to House Republicans, Young says Huckabee will help produce “a reawakening of the conservative values that make our country a land of opportunity.”

Huckabee, who moved out of the mansion in Little Rock in January, is rushing to catch up with the front-runners’ massive organization and plans to officially announce his candidacy in the next few months. He said in a telephone interview that the debates – including the MSNBC-Politico debate on May 3 at the Ronald Reagan Library – will be critical to his chances of breaking out.

“Best I can determine, the floor is the same level for everybody at the debates,” Huckabee said on his cell phone as he ran errands in Little Rock on Thursday. “This election will eventually become focused not just on rhetoric but the results behind the rhetoric.”

Candidate Information
For information on more presidential candidates, visit the Politico's Candidate Page.
Huckabee noted with a chuckle the disadvantages of being the front-runner this early in the campaign. “There’s only one direction you can go, and it’s not a good one,” he said.

His campaign got a critical boost in South Carolina, which has one of the earliest nominating contests, when he was endorsed earlier this month by former South Carolina first lady Iris Campbell. Her youngest son, Mike Campbell, will serve as a senior national adviser to the campaign. The late Gov. Carroll Campbell and his family played a critical role in helping Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole and George W. Bush win the South Carolina primary.

Young, the third-ranking Republican in Congress, is no diplomat but he has deep personal connections with almost every member because he was chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which put him in charge of massive amounts of pork.

Young said in an interview from Puerto Rico that Huckabee is “a man of character and a hell of a speaker.” Young said he’ll travel on Huckabee’s behalf. “He may be a long shot now,” Young said. “But when this settles down, people will see that a governor is best positioned to bring the country together. They have the experience of bringing the opposite sides of a legislature together. People always ask me who I think I going to win, and when I say Governor Huckabee, they say, ‘Who?’ So we just need to convince people that he’s a leader with great character.”

Also Friday, Huckabee plans to announce that Rep. John Boozman of Arkansas will be congressional co-chairman of his presidential exploratory committee. Boozman is a member of the Republican Study Committee, the conservative caucus, and so has ties to a group of members whose support could really help Huckabee.

Boozman said in an interview that Huckabee “has a tremendous ability to communicate” and has positioned himself well as a conservative. “This thing is wide open,” Boozman said. “His greatest challenge is going to be coordinating a national campaign.”

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Romney's first ad

Mitt Romney: Too Good to Be True?

(from newsweek)

Mitt Romney: Too Good to Be True?
By Jonathan Darman and Evan Thomas

Feb. 26, 2007 issue - There is something a little too good to be true about Mitt Romney. The former governor of Massachusetts and candidate for the Republican presidential nomination is so buff and handsome in late middle age that when a brochure from a recent campaign showed him standing, bare-chested, on a swimming float, he was accused of sexually pandering to women voters. Romney, who is still married to his high-school sweetheart, doesn't drink, doesn't smoke and doesn't swear. His wife has said that, in private, he never even raises his voice.

As a candidate, he can appear slightly overproduced, a little too smooth for the hurly-burly of the hustings. Lately, Romney has been courting the evangelical vote, key to winning Republican primaries. He knows that some evangelicals regard his religion, Mormonism, as heresy (according to the National Journal, more than a quarter of self-identified evangelicals tell pollsters that they won't vote for a Mormon). So last week, at a lackluster rally in the Bible belt of South Carolina where maybe 300 people half-filled an auditorium, Romney was trying, a bit unctuously, to show his down-home piety. As the crowd trickled out, Romney, his voice still at full decibel from his stump speech, grabbed the hand of state Rep. Bob Leach, a Baptist. "This man," proclaimed Romney, "his prayers bring down the power of the Lord!"

Romney's campaign aides like to stress that he is a "turnaround" artist. They are referring to Romney's great success at salvaging failing companies as a venture capitalist in the 1980s and '90s and his near-miraculous rescue of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City from scandal and debt. The label carries the promise that Romney could reverse the fortunes of the GOP and the nation after the Bush years. But Romney's turnaround on the burning social issues of gay rights, stem-cell research and abortion has raised questions about the candidate's sincerity—a dangerous doubt at a time when voters seem to crave authenticity. In Massachusetts, as an unsuccessful Senate candidate in 1994 and in his winning race to become governor in 2002, Romney cast himself as liberal-to-moderate on social issues. But as Romney aims for the conservative Republican votes he will need to secure the presidential nomination, he has emerged as staunchly pro-life and anti-gay marriage. Was he, his critics ask, pretending then? Or is he pretending now?

Romney says he's always told the truth. On gay rights, he says, his basic views have not changed; rather, the political and cultural landscape has shifted. He still opposes discrimination against gays, but he does not favor recognizing gay marriage. "I never in a million years thought that we would have people of the same gender being told that they have a constitutional right to marry," Romney says. On the right to life, he did experience a turning point, he says, when he had to consider directly the morality of destroying human embryos in stem-cell research. In the wake of the failed presidential campaign of Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, Romney is well aware of the risks that a reputation for flip-flopping can pose to a national candidate. Questioned by NEWSWEEK about his apparent shifts on social issues, Romney grew uncharacteristically testy and said he'd rather be talking about "jihad, Iran and China." Questions about Romney's evolving views on abortion and gay rights could be a bigger issue with evangelicals than Romney's Mormonism, says Mark DeMoss, a Christian media strategist who's done evangelical outreach for the Romney campaign. A reconstruction of how Romney changed his views does not seriously challenge Romney's account of the evolution of his thinking, but it does suggest that political timing, as much as moral virtue, may have been on his mind.

Romney is not the sort of person who reveals inner doubt. Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, who has worked closely with Romney in business and politics, talks about Romney's "calmness" and "serenity." Over more than a decade, says Weld, "I've seen him laugh nervously a couple of times, maybe." Romney can be stiff. "He's a terrible joke teller," says Weld. "He thinks he's funny but he's not." And yet Weld, a moderate Republican who disagrees with Romney on abortion and gay rights, backs him for president: "I take him at his word. He is a straight shooter."

Romney is hardly the first Republican presidential candidate to be accused of expediency on social issues. Both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush moved to the right on abortion. A successful politician knows when to make compromises without appearing to abandon his or her dignity or moral compass. Romney's lifetime shows a history of getting along and going along—but also a capacity for boldness and an almost ruthless willingness to force change.

Romney grew up in the privileged, WASPy bastion of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., where he attended an elite prep school, Cranbrook; he matriculated to Stanford. His father, Gov. George Romney, played speed golf in the morning (shades of George H.W. Bush) and otherwise projected a comfortable, country-club Republicanism. But the father could be unusually blunt: he was driven from the 1968 presidential campaign when he admitted that he had been essentially "brainwashed" by the military on Vietnam. Young Romney always said that he never felt pressure to become a politician; on the other hand, when he was 14, his father would drive him to crowded parking lots and then sit in the car and watch his son gather signatures supporting his dad. After his freshman year at Stanford, Mitt left sunny California to do his Mormon mission in a grimy, industrial suburb of Paris, where he converted very few secularized Roman Catholics. He then transferred to Brigham Young University to marry his high-school love, who was attending the school, and whom Romney had been zealously pursuing since they were teenagers.

At Harvard Business School, not a few of Romney's peers tagged him—and not another classmate, George W. Bush—as a true politician. Romney went off to make a fortune as a businessman, but he showed the kind of drive and enormous self-confidence that would suit him well as an aspirant for higher office. When one of his partners at Bain Capital in Boston went to Romney with frightening news—that the partner's teenage daughter had vanished after a rock concert in New York—Romney swung into action. He closed down the company for a few days and put his partners and staffers on a chartered plane to New York, where they organized a massive search. The missing girl was soon found.

Romney has never been dogmatic. In the business world, his method was to remain open-minded, study the facts—and then do whatever it took. "He's not unwilling to have his mind changed," says Meg Whitman, the CEO of eBay and a Romney friend who worked with him at Bain in the '80s. "He's very comfortable with blurry, gray areas." When he took over the Salt Lake City Olympic Games, he immediately cut out the lavish meals and travel boondoggles. "We're going to have pizza and it's a dollar a slice," he announced. He charged executives 25 cents for a soda and had meals served on paper plates. Romney himself worked without a salary. The message got through: the organization went from deep in the red into the black by the close of the Games.

Romney was probably not thinking all that hard about controversial social issues when he ran against Ted Kennedy for the Senate in 1994. His attitude seemed to be, "You want me to talk about abortion? How about mergers and acquisitions?" says Democratic operative Tad Devine, who worked on the Kennedy campaign. (At the time Romney said he'd taken the abortion issue seriously since his 20s, when a relative had died in an illegal abortion.) Romney was influenced by Rich Tafel, then the executive director of the pro-gay Log Cabin Republicans. At a three-hour meeting early in the '94 campaign, Tafel tells NEWSWEEK, he suggested that Romney be even more supportive of gay rights than Kennedy. Romney did so, writing letters and talking publicly about his support for selected gay issues. "No one supported gay marriage then," says Tafel.

Romney can place a date on the moment he took a stand against gay marriage. On Nov. 18, 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld gay marriage in the commonwealth. Romney's chief counsel, Daniel Winslow, recalls printing out the decision and carrying it to the governor's corner office. "It was as though he'd been punched in the solar plexus," Winslow tells NEWSWEEK. "I think he was stunned—and it was genuine, too, because it was in private." Romney was reacting against liberal judicial activism as well as taking a position against gay marriage, say his advisers, who do not wish to be identified discussing the candidate's thinking. The gay community is skeptical, as gay-activist blogger John Aravosis puts it, that Romney could go from claiming "he's better than Teddy Kennedy on gay rights" to being "right of Jerry Falwell." "You don't get to be both of those unless something wild happened in your life," says Aravosis. "But Romney doesn't have anything to point to. If the Virgin Mary came down and spoke to him, maybe."

Romney had a "Road to Damascus moment" on stem-cell research, says his son Taggart, 36. As Romney himself has described the incident in interviews, in November 2004 he met with a scientist from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. The scientist told him, "Look, you don't have to think about this stem-cell research as a moral issue, because we kill the embryos after 14 days." (The scientist, Dr. Douglas Melton, has disputed Romney's account; a Harvard spokesman says "the words 'kill' and 'killing' are not in Dr. Melton's professional vocabulary.") Taggart tells NEWSWEEK his father "had a genuine change of heart" that pushed him from tolerating pro-choice laws to wanting to change them. Though Romney had long been "personally pro-life," says Taggart, Romney had always told his son, "Listen, I don't want to impose my values and beliefs on other people." But after the Harvard stem-cell meeting, Romney became a true believer on trying to protect all human life from the moment of conception. "He felt so strongly that Roe v. Wade was a having a negative impact on the country, and cheapening life, he said, 'You know what, this is something that has to change'," Taggart says. Romney promptly came out against stem-cell research and vetoed a July 2005 bill making available Plan B, or "morning after" contraception.

Romney's timing was, at the very least, fortuitous for his political ambitions. In November 2004, the Republicans lost three seats in the Massachusetts Legislature, making even steeper Romney's uphill climb against the Democratic-dominated state house. Some foes, as well as a few friends, speculated that Romney was beginning to eye a grander stage. By early 2006, he was openly talking about running for president—and beginning to emphasize his rightward tilt on the social issues.

Romney may ultimately win over doubters on the right. "There is a subtle prejudice in that flip-flop charge," says Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention. "People who are liberal can't understand why someone might move from a more-liberal position to a more-conservative position. Conservatives don't see it that way. They see it as someone who has seen the light." Christian media strategist DeMoss notes that evangelism is all about conversion, so, he says, "we accept an evangelical's conversion if he told us it happened this morning."

Romney's reputation as a family man with a wife of 37 years and five proud sons will also help with conservatives. Among top-tier candidates, Romney is more appealing to the Christian right than John McCain or Rudy Giuliani. Romney is beginning to get some important backers, too: he has the political machine of former Florida governor Jeb Bush behind him, an immensely important asset if, as predicted, Florida moves up its primary. (Bush's parents, George H.W. and Barbara, are said to be fond of Romney.) Romney may not be a funny man (though he loves "The Three Stooges"), but he can be a deft debater. When his opponent in the 2002 governor's race, Shannon O'Brien, accused him of pandering to pro-choice voters, she quoted Ted Kennedy's crack that Romney's not "pro-choice, he's multiple choice." He hit back by calling her "unbecoming," i.e., unladylike. "He did a masterful job of turning me into the overly aggressive female who couldn't get off that point," says O'Brien. But most important will be Romney's capacity for working through difficult challenges. Bill Weld recalls that as a businessman, Romney would come into a failing company "and turn everyone upside down and shake their pockets until all the facts came out." Romney, who dislikes running even a minute late, will bring the same relentlessness to his campaign operation. He will not hesitate to change personnel—or policy positions—in his search for a winning formula.

With Daniel McGinn and Samantha Henig in Boston and Holly Bailey, Eve Conant and Eleanor Clift in Washington

Sunday, February 18, 2007

GOP candidate Romney (has the backing of Jeb Bush's friends) defends religion in Villages

(from the Orlando Sentinel)

GOP candidate Romney defends religion in Villages
Nin-Hai Tseng
Sentinel Staff Writer

February 17, 2007

THE VILLAGES -- Before former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney could tout his conservative credentials Friday in this tri-county hotbed of Republicanism, he first had to defend his religious background as he begins the long road toward the 2008 GOP presidential nomination.

About 800 people packed Lake Miona Regional Recreation Center in this retirement community of 65,000. It was standing-room only.

But what got the crowd roaring wasn't a pitch for safe offshore oil drilling or health care. It was his religion. If he were to win the White House, Romney would become America's first Mormon president.

A man stood amid the crowd and called Romney "a pretender" who doesn't know "the Lord."

The crowd booed the man from the room, and Romney responded: "First of all, I believe in God."

Based on his experience so far -- just three days after announcing his candidacy -- Romney said most people don't take issue with his religion and are focused more on faith.

Resident Jerry Liebergen, 69, defended Romney: "They said the same thing about John Kennedy, because he was Catholic, that he'd never be president."

However, some political pundits have questioned whether fundamental Christians would take issue with his beliefs. Romney has changed his mind in the abortion debate -- he supported abortion rights until about two years ago, and now says he opposes abortion.

Romney said he supports an environmentally sensitive plan for offshore oil drilling that would not impact Florida tourism. He didn't go into specifics, but Floridians, liberal and conservative alike, agree that offshore drilling is unpopular in the state.

The candidate, who arrived from an earlier stop in Jacksonville, touched on issues ranging from immigration and health care to Iraq. He said the important issues for Floridians would continue to be the catastrophic storm fund, health care and education.

The Villages has become a must-stop for GOP candidates running for state and national offices. Gov. Charlie Crist visited the community -- which takes in parts of Lake, Sumter and Marion counties -- more than once during his successful campaign last year. President Bush became the first sitting president to visit The Villages when he stumped here in 2004, cheered on by about 15,000 residents.

Romney, a former venture capitalist and the son of former Michigan Gov. George Romney, was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2002. He did not run for a second term last year. He joins a crowded field of Republicans seeking the presidential nomination, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Romney doesn't have the star power of Giuliani or McCain, but former allies of former Gov. Jeb Bush are in his corner, including former Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings and former House Speakers Allan Bense and John Thrasher.

"Gov. Bush said, 'Before you commit, I want you to meet Mitt Romney. He is the kind of guy you will like no matter what,' " Jennings said. "The governor was very candid about the fact that he really liked this guy."

She and a who's who list of Florida politicos are now in the Romney camp, an edge they hope will help their candidate overcome a lack of name recognition in a state that could have a larger role in the nomination.

"He's charismatic and has a good business background," said winter resident Everett Sherman, 65, of New Bedford, Mass.