Romney losing support in Michigan

Mitt Romney is getting beaten up again in the Evangelical media. Again, it is Pat Robertson’s CBN:

There are at least four Republican Representatives from the Michigan State House that are seriously rethinking their support of Romney for President. These are members of Romney’s steering committee in Michigan who are now having reservations about recent revelations about Romney’s past comments in regards to marriage, abortion and the Boy Scouts.

Ouch. This is not the first time that Romney has lost supporters. He recently lost his California fundraising consultant, who had worked with him at the Republican Governors’ Association. The story goes on. They see a flip-flop-flip-flop-flip on abortion:

The representatives who may leave Romney are really questioning the legitimacy of his conservative credentials. Romney has always said he has evolved on these issues over the years, but these folks in Michigan think it’s okay to evolve, but some of this seems to be major flip flop material, especially on the life issue where they point out how he’s gone from pro-choice in 1994, to pro-life in 2000, to pro-choice in 2002 and now back to pro-life. Romney’s office will dispute this, but what they can’t dispute is a potential unraveling among their steering committee in Michigan. Michigan is crucial to Romney.

Will the NRO fan club begin to shake?

Weyrich still thinks Romney’s a phony

Paul Weyrich gave an overview of the field of GOP Presidential candidates. On Mitt Romney he said:

"Governor Romney is going to make an attempt to sound like us," say Weyrich. "[But] I don’t think he is; I don’t think he’s the genuine article. And I think he really ought to be closely examined, especially for the flip-flops he now claims he’s done on abortion, on same-sex marriage, on any number of issues — including hate crimes, by the way."

Weyrich really likes Huckabee:

"He is dynamic, he is exciting, he believes in all the right things," says Weyrich in describing the Arkansas governor. "I think that if conservatives really got behind him, that they would bump him up to be a first-tier candidate."

That said, the Club for Growth has made the argument that Huckabee is not acceptable as an economic conservative. Romney’s pitch is still going to be that he’s the best anti-McCain who is both a credible social conservative and economic conservative. But you wonder. As Steve Chapman said about Romney:

So, as a pro-lifer, I know Mitt Romney is now firmly on my side of this critical issue. And I have complete confidence that he will be there until he isn’t.

Huckabee fundraising? Hype and spin

Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee held a fundraiser for his Hope for America PAC. It raised $500,000 from 350 people present, according to the blog of the Arkansas Republican Assembly. It got some good press and blog attention from Redstate, Kos, and others. But something is off here. And that’s why the Arkansas Times is unimpressed, calling it "puny" for a 10 year governor with many chits to collect on. Here’s why.

The "PAC" is not a federally regulated PAC that can be turned into an exploratory committee. The disclaimer on the PAC’s website says:

Hope For America PAC may accept unlimited contribution amounts and donors may give both corporate and individual contributions.

In other words, this is a soft-money operation that pays for him to travel around and meet people. It is a Virginia-registered and regulated PAC. Indeed, one Arkansas paper has written a story suggesting that this whole operationcould  violate federal campaign finance laws. It quotes a DC campaign-finance interest grouper saying:

seems to be pushing as close as possible to the line. He doesn’t mention the word ‘presidential’ but I can’t contemplate another reason for that [language ], particularly the reference to critical 2008 states. I suppose there are arguably other interpretations. But he definitely appears to be pushing as close as possible without triggering federal law.

The article lists 10 donors who gave a combined $125,000, 1/4 of the take. Almost all of that was corporate money. In other words, this money can’t be turned over. If Huckabee hires a staffer in New Hampshire and that staffer says that Huckabee is running for President, then the whole thing is illegal.

This is a sham. When he can raise hard money, let’s see. But this is all hype and spin, and it suggests that he can’t raise money, not that he can.

I should point out that Race42008 has a post from early December suggesting that Huckabee was going to try to do this. I didn’t really pay attention until I saw that Huckabee was getting some buzz for this sham.

Is Giuliani a national candidate or a regional one?

A couple of weeks ago, there was a theory floating around, perhaps started by Jonathan Martin at NRO and a couple of others, that Rudy Giuliani might not contest Iowa or New Hampshire. Now, since then, we have heard that Rudy is, indeed, staffing up in Iowa and New Hampshire. But does that make him a real candidate who could compete nationwide?

Here’s another theory. I’m not going to stand by it, but it is an option. Perhaps Rudy can’t break out of the Northeast plus West Coast. If Rudy is on the ballot in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, he almost certainly wins those primaries. New York and Connecticut are varieties of winner-take-all. That is, if you get the most votes, you get all the delegates (NY had 102 and CT 30 in 2004). Throw in Pennsylvania (75 delegates) and Maryland (39), whose soon-to-be-former Governor seems to like Rudy. The upshot is that Rudy, even in the worst case, could probably come into the convention with 200 or more delegates.

Now that’s not enough to win. But those votes come out of someone’s hide. Could he deny someone (say McCain?) enough votes to win the nomination outright? Then he could cut a deal (say, with Romney) to be Vice President. And as a candidate for Vice President, his suspected baggage can’t really damage him, or the ticket, much. And it sets him up to be President, if he has just a little bit more patience.

For this strategy to work, Giuliani would be a third candidate who would deprive the first-tier candidate of a majority, while the second-tier candidate fights on and comes a relatively close second. Sounds plausible in this environment.

Romney losing his California fundraising consultant?

The FlashReport has a mumble of trouble with Mitt Romney’s California fundraising operation:

There are some changes taking place in the California operations of Mitt Romney’s fledgling campaign for President.  FR is still tracking down the details, but we’ve heard from very reliable sources that California uber-fundraising Anne Dunsmore and her California Capital Campaigns (see the ad to the right), who have been doing fundraising for Romney’s Commonwealth PAC, are not doing the general, federally limited Presidential campaign fundraising for the retiring Massachusetts Governor.  We’ll see how this shakes out.

I’ve heard similar whispers too. This is Anne Dunsmore’s firm. Anne worked with Romney at the RGA. One of the issues is his PR disaster over the last several weeks over abortion, gay rights, etc. People feel like Romney simply hasn’t been honest with him. At the same time, his handling of it just doesn’t look prime-time, even though the staff is first-tier.

Note a similar tone in an article in today’s Boston Globe about events yesterday in New Hampshire:

"When I first heard his answer about his journey of becoming prolife, I began to feel better about the questions being asked of him lately," said Shannon McGinley of Bedford, N.H. "After talking with him in person, though, it is hard to figure out what he does believe."

And:

"People in the prolife community are still looking for that strong, Reagan-like conservative, and we have a lot of questions about Romney," said Karen Testerman, a social conservative activist from Concord, N.H. "What he said today were good answers, but I think you will be hearing us asking him these questions a lot."

Another blog has coverage of the meeting, including how he (mis)handled some questions

Why did Romney oppose the Contract With America?

The Washington Post points out that Mitt Romney opposed the Contract With America. Why? Well, I got out my trusty Lexis and asked it that question. Here’s what I got. Full articles after the jump.

According to one article:

Mr.  Romney, a venture capitalist who has never held elective office, criticized the Republican campaign agenda, the "Contract With America," as too partisan.  He said he would have gone against the GOP leadership and supported the crime bill, and would oppose a capital gains tax cut.

According to another:

Romney stressed his support for universal health insurance and abortion rights, criticized the Republican "Contract With America" promoted by the party’s congressional leaders and, at Faneuil Hall, was more outspoken than Kennedy in arguing that the Boy Scouts should not exclude homosexual youths.

Hmmm. So his reasons were that he didn’t want to be partisan, opposed tax cuts and at the same time emphasized that he supported abortion and supported universal health insurance. Gary Marx is going to have to keep working on that conservative outreach.

Update: Robert Bluey from Human Events follows a different line of attack on Romney by focusing on Jesse Helms.
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McCain and Romney pick up top-tier staff

The Fix reported that John McCain hired Steve Schmidt. Steve was California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign manager in 2006 and part of the message team for Bush-Cheney 2004. In addition to the staff game, Steve will help McCain with California donors who were extremely impressed by the Schwarzenegger campaign.

According to Matt Lewis, Romney hired Gary Marx, in charge of conservative coalitions from the BC’04 team. Marx had written for Human Events that conservatives must not split so that they can defeat McCain:

The question all conservatives must answer is: Who is the alternative who can stop media darling John McCain from becoming the GOP standard bearer? This candidate needs to have national appeal, likeability, and be willing to take Hillary Clinton on in two years. Obviously, the conservative effort would be helped a great deal if Rudy Giuliani or Condi Rice jumped into the race and thus fractured McCain’s base.  Above all, conservatives need to find their contender for President and support them 100% rather than settling on minor or purist candidates who split the conservative base and deliver the nomination to McCain. Thus, we need to decide in the next nine to 12 months if it is Gov. Mitt Romney, Senators George Allen, Bill Frist, Sam Brownback or Rep. Mike Pence who can carry the flag for conservatives in 2008.

He’s decided. He better be on the phone over Christmas because Romney is getting hammered.

Update: Romney also adds Jay Sekulow! Hotline has the details.

Jim Gilmore flirts with with a run by attacking Romney

Jim Gilmore, former RNC Chair and Governor of Virginia attacked Romney, according to the NYT:

Mr. Gilmore said he had always been what he described as an unvarying Ronald Reagan conservative. In what appeared to be an attempt to distinguish himself from other candidates, particularly Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, he said: “I didn’t run some place and pretend I was a liberal and run someplace else as a conservative. I just didn’t do that.”

McCain Announces Finance Slots; Tries to Steal Giuliani’s Thunder

Rudy Giuliani has a fundraiser tonight. What does John McCain do? Same thing he did at the RGA meeting. He tries to steal the news/blog cycle by announcing his NY Finance Committee. This morning, before the announcement, McCain got people talking about his fundraising machine ("nearly 7 of 10 Bush 2004 donors are Straight Talk American donors") in the Arizona Republic this morning. All the gossip today is about John McCain’s fundraising. The news stories tomorrow will be about Giuliani’s big New York fundraiser and McCain’s great NY finance list.

As I’ve said earlier, the McCain campaign is simply following the "bracketing" strategy that the Bush campaign used so effectively against Kerry in 2004. Wherever Kerry went, Bush or someone got there one day ahead, to steal the headlines.

This is very clever. But it also demonstrates a much more well-oiled campaign than, for example, the Romney guys, who for 2 or 3 weeks now have totally lost control of the image of their guy. (One Redstate writer even said, regarding Romney’s candidacy, that the word "clown came to mind.") They’ve been planning, and now they are executing. They do their announcements when they need to. And they ruin other people’s. That’s very sophisticated. And it is very organized. And they are doing it in December 2006 for a 2008 election. Not bad.

And it is clear that this is what McCain is doing. As Weaver was quoted to the New York Times:

Asked whether it was a coincidence that Mr. McCain was issuing his list the same day that Mr. Giuliani was holding his lay-down-your-marker fund-raiser, Mr. Weaver responded, “There are no coincidences in life, but I would guess this would be one.” He laughed.

Romney attacked as a flip-flop-flip-flop-flipper on abortion

Jerry Zandstra, a member of Sam Brownback’s exploratory committee, sent the following letter to a (probably very) large number of Michigan conservative activists.  Some excerpts and the whole letter:

Excerpts:

Mitt Romney, current governor of Massachusetts and likely presidential candidate has had a tough couple of weeks.  It isn’t what others have said about him.  Rather, his own words have caught up with him.  What his words seem to indicate is someone whose positions on social issues important to conservatives either are wrong or have changed direction so many times as to render them meaningless.

And:

      When Gov. Romney was considering a run to be the governor of Utah, he wavered, claiming that he was now pro-life.  His defenders claimed that what he said in Massachusetts was “a carefully crafted position intended to sound more firm than it was” because “he was running against Ted Kennedy in a state that was 80 percent pro-choice and to have any chance at all, he was waffling.”     

      Only a few years later, Romney was back in Massachusetts, running for his current position as their governor.  When prodded by his pro-choice opponent in a debate, Gov. Romney said, “Let me make this very clear.  I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose.”  In that same election, he endorsed embryonic stem cell research,  refused to take a position on human cloning, and endorsed Medicaid funding for abortions.  

As promised, the whole letter, after the jump
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