The insult du jour for Republican candidates this election cycle is being labeled a RINO, a Republican in Name Only. Unfortunately, the insult has been so overused lately it’s been rendered meaningless. The insult is even emptier because it is so detached from actual statements, campaign promises and voting records.
A candidate like Newt Gingrich can get away with supporting the biggest socialist scheme in American government over the past 30 years because he says nasty things about the press and calls Barack Obama a Marxist. Jon Huntsman, on the other hand, can have a stellar conservative record as Utah’s governor, be anti-abortion and adored by the NRA. But if he refuses to spit out angry screeds against Obama, he’s dismissed as a RINO, the facts be damned.
So as a public service to POLITICO readers, I, your humble conservative servant, have put together a “Who is the Real RINO?” test. based on voting records, candidate quotes and facts! (Shocking, I know.)
1. Who said, “I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose. I am not going to change pro-choice laws in any way”?
A. Mitt Romney
C. Newt Gingrich
C. Jon Huntsman
I got all but two of them right. Politico didn't line up page two properly, so one of the answered I picked Newt was Mitt. I also got the Rockefeller State Chair wrong.
It's biased, heavily towards Huntsman. However Newt is hit or miss, and we all know how Romney panders to every audience. Huntsman isn't AS BAD as his reputation which he got by taking a job as ambassador. That doesn't mean he's perfect. He's on board the global warming bandwagon and supported Cap and Trade in Utah which is an automatic two strikes against him. He spent too much as governor, although he did cut taxes. (Growth helped him in Utah) He supports civil unions for gays which I mildly oppose (tax money paying for it), but really don't have strong opinions about one way or the other on that issue. Many do. I do think he's the most electable in the general election however, and have said that since the beginning. I'm worried he's a Bush Republican, but we'll see.
Back in September, I was on board the Perry camp. It was an "anybody but Romney" move. I also didn't expect to see a collapse and implosion after the immigration comments and gaffes in debates over and over again. What I was looking for was the best alternative to Romney who can beat Obama. That's where my vote is going to go. Anybody but Romney who can beat Obama. Maybe Perry can recover. We'll see.
I'm not the only one in that boat. Especially post Obamacare/Romneycare, Romney, despite his money, organization, and an attempted coronation by the political class, so far can not bust through the ceiling. A lot of candidates are jockeying for position in this horse race, but Romney has in only one poll in November broke 30%. He did that once in October, three times in July, and once in June. At least 68% are looking for an alternative if you take his high recent numbers. That going off a bunch of polls showing similar results, not just a cherrypicked one. The 32% was high number.
In July, Bachmann and Romney were 1 and 2. Bachmann collapsed. In September, Perry consistently led. When Perry collapsed, Cain took the lead. When he collapsed, Newt's taking the lead. Newt Gingrich of all people is now the "anti-establishment" candidate. How is a former speaker and pundit non establishment? Because he's not Romney, the choice of the beltway. He was also their choice last time, more than McCain.
Some say the national polls don't matter. It's state polls. The real polls start in Iowa and New Hampshire in a little over a month. The state opinion polls aren't as often as national, but the results have generally been this:
Iowa (1-3) - Newt over Romney recently, before that Cain over Romney consistently. Ron Paul gets consistently 15%-20%. Romney peaks at 20%. Newt leads around 30%
New Hampshire (1-10) - Romney leads big. Almost all polls (one outlier has Newt leading) have him at around 40% A lot of Massachusetts transplants live in New Hampshire. Despite the reputation, polls had them voting for Bush twice. Other state transplants and natives costs Bush in 2004. The "Massholes" as they are often called are going to be deciding this one.
South Carolina (1-21) - The state that won it for Bush and McCain. Romney and Cain battled in October. This month it is Newt and Cain. Newt leads in the last poll, and Cain led before that. There's still a lot of movement in this state.
Florida (1-31) - No recent polls, but Romney and Cain have battled here for awhile.
Nevada and Maine (2-4) - Caucuses. Maine has no recent polling. October had one with a 6%+ margin of error with Cain over Romney, but 6% is almost worthless. Another October poll has Mitt and Cain battling in Nevada.
Colorado and Minnesota (2-7) - Nothing recent in either state before October.
Arizona and Michigan (2-28) - One recent poll in Arizona had Newt up 28-23 over Romney with Cain at 17% Michigan is Romney's old home and where his dad was governor in the 60's. He won here last time 39-30%. EPIC/MRA had a 6.1% margin of error poll that had him leading Newt 34-20. That could mean 40-14 or 28-26. Michigan has a quasi-open primary, so that will factor in.
March 6th is Super Tuesday. It'll be likely decided by then.
Back to Romney, why isn't he catching on? People don't trust him. People also do not trust political establishments. This goes back to the end of the Bush era with the spending, bailouts, and the like. Obama the Peter Principle in Chief is deeply unpopular, but so is much of the GOP establishment, and Romney is getting the brunt of it. Some of that goes back to his record as Massachusetts governor. Some of that is due to the consultant proxy battles between Romney/McCain/Palin in the post 2008 blowups. Much of that goes down to trust. People don't trust Romney. He campaigned and was a liberal, and all of a sudden "became a conservative" when he ran for president. I don't think so. Actions not words. People don't trust a tax raising, gun grabbing, Romneycare enacting individual. If organization and money equal automatic wins, Romney would have already won. He's king there, and he still trailing nationally.
There's a big opening for someone to take out Romney. However, somebody has to take it. Either someone new has to come in (Newt rising from the ashes, Huntsman, or maybe even Ron Paul, but he'll likely get his 5-15%) or someone who collapsed has to rehab enough to get a couple of upsets. Bachmann, Perry, Cain. That is what has to happen, and it may or may not happen. Much like 2008, nobody is running away with this. Too bad that Mitch Daniels didn't run.
Right now the search is on for who can beat Romney - but also can beat Obama. (for the record, I think Obama beats Romney easily unless Obama beats himself) The search is ongoing. Anybody but Romney in the primary.