2006: The first 2008 pre-primary

(Sorry for the break in posting. I had a great time with my girlfriend on the James River and in a nice little B+B in Luray)

While I was enjoying coffee at the Mayneview, I read the cover story of the Washington Post Magazine on John McCain. The article wasted more ink on the question of whether McCain is cozying up to Bush, whether it is genuine, whether McCain really is conservative (really? amazing what you see when you check out a lifetime voting record), blah, blah, blah …
The article points out that campaigning is starting early:

DON’T LOOK NOW, but 26 months before November 2008 the race for president has already started. McCain and his potential rivals are out on the campaign trail virtually every week. They are raising money and support for federal and state candidates in the 2006 election. But they are also collecting chits, building name recognition and garnering backers for the presidential campaign to come.

“Teddy White must be turning over in his grave,” says John Weaver, McCain’s chief campaign strategist, referring to the late author of The Making of the President books. “I can’t believe we’re doing this so early.”

I agree about Teddy White’s great books, btw. What I find interesting is that people aren’t talking so much about the scope of the work that McCain (and Rudy) is doing for the party in this pre-primary in 2006. Later on the article points out:

McCain has already raised $6 million and donated $1.2 million to Republican candidates, says Davis, twice as much as any other Republican. Staff members know they won’t be working on a shoestring in 2008.

Indeed, an article in an Ohio paper last week during McCain’s trip there to help Senator DeWine keep his seat (and the Senate in GOP hands) pointed out just how important his work is for the party:

Sen. John McCain is a rare breed in the 2006 political season: a Republican officeholder with whom other Republicans want to be seen. Though he’s a conservative who staunchly supports the war in Iraq, McCain is best known across the country as the guy who’s been a thorn in the side of George W. Bush since the 2000 presidential primaries.

Again, Rudy has a similar quality. The upshot is that this step of the presidential race is really a tryout for being the leader of the party. This is what a president, a governor, legislative leader, etc. does. McCain is acting as a de facto party leader. (in more than one way. When did he last lose a fight in the Senate?) This is an important difference from the Bush strategy. And this difference doesn’t just result in a McCain organization but a stronger GOP. This is something that some people on the right just don’t get. Take, for example, statements about McCain going 3rd party.
A campaign, especially a presidential campaign, is about building supporters and a structure. That is what McCain is up to. That is a new thing. And he is not just “fighting the last campaign.”

Democrat primary calendar about more than diversity

A professor at the University of New Hampshire has an interesting op-ed in today’s WaPo about the New Hampshire Primary and the recent shift of the primary schedule by the Democrats. A lot of attention has been focused on the racial/diversity issue, which was the argument that the DNC used to move up Nevada. But the point that I found interesting was this:

But unlike Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina, New Hampshire has a strong, broad-based economy with a significant concentration of high-tech companies and global exporters. In many respects its economy represents the nation’s (hoped-for) economic future. It’s a very good place for candidates to test out economic ideas and principles and to learn from workers and entrepreneurs.

In the past quarter-century, New Hampshire’s economy has been transformed. Its economic base has changed from traditional manufacturing to concentration in high technology and skilled professional services. It has improved in rank among the states in per capita income from 25th to sixth. It has been the strongest economic performer in New England, with the region’s fastest growth rates in employment, gross state product and exports. New Hampshire consistently has among the lowest rates of unemployment and poverty.

This is in contrast with Nevada, whose caucuses are dominated by the hotel workers union, according to Hotline’s Chuck Todd:

[Edwards] close ties to the hotel labor workers give him an interesting leg up in Nevada.

Consider the first three states in the Democratic schedule: two are caucuses (Iowa and Nevada) whose very nature favors liberals (Nevada also proved how liberal its primary electorate is in their most recent primary for governor) …

Rants against New Hampshire aside, there seems to be one giant unintended consequence of this early primary calendar jiggering: shifting the Democratic primary balance of power to the left.

As for electability, Edwards should be considered too liberal to win a general.

In other words, the new schedule emphasizes the low-skilled service workers at the expense of high-skilled aspirational information workers. And it favors economic populists over candidaes more in touch with aspirational voters.

Romney announces Michigan Leadership Team

Hotlineblog has the details. Note that this release was hinted at earlier this week by an attack on Romney by Gary Glenn. They have obviously been working on this for a while, but you wonder if the timing is in response to all the press about McCain and his team this week?

If you want to see the full list, go to the Hotline Blog article. But let me note some of the people here:

  • Speaker Craig DeRoche Co-Chairman; Speaker, Michigan State House of Representatives. Nuff said.
  • Scott Romney Michigan State University, Board of Trustees; Attorney. The candidate’s brother.
  • Ronna Romney Former U.S. Senate Candidate. The candidate’s sister.
  • Congressman Joe Knollenberg U.S. Representative, 9th District.

This is important. Usually in Michigan GOP politics, it is the money guys versus the grassroots. This often translates as moderates versus conservatives. In Michigan, that means Oakland County versus western Michigan. Joe Knollenberg is Mr. Oakland County. However, the moderates may be split because of Congressman Fred Upton’s close relationship with McCain.
There are also a large number of state reps (because of the Speaker, presumably) and a number of Central Committee members. I am unsure what those mean.

McCain hires Zoellick

This is a big deal. Mike Allen has the story:

Former Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick is planning to go to work fulltime next year for the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain, overseeing development of domestic and foreign policy, Republican officials tell TIME.

It is hard to overstate this guy’s importance. He is a Bush guy. Really. This is star of the Bush family (H.W. and W.) signing up for McCain. This is further evidence that the Bush operation is supporting McCain. The point here is not that McCain hired a good guy. It is that McCain is taking the entire GOP establishment. Note that this was announced the same day as the hiring of a bunch of high-quality new media people.

Zoellick’s experience includes (Whitehouse bio, Wiki bio):

  • Deputy Secretary of State. He left this because he didn’t get Treasury. And he didn’t want to stay at State because the responsibility for passing out foreign aid was getting shifted around. He was generally considered the best diplomat in the Bush administration.
  • United States Trade Representative. He put together the Bush trade strategy and was a member of the Cabinet.

Under Bush’s dad he was:

  • White House Deputy Chief of Staff
  • Under Secretary of State for Economic and Agricultural Affairs

And he held several Treasury Department positions under Reagan. He also has experience at Goldman and Fannie Mae (the last makes me sick).

McCain hires New Media people

The other day, ABP was telling us that McCain got the New Media. This was in response to my pointing out that a self-congratulatory Redstate writer thought McCain was going to get rolled by the blogosphere.

Well, and you are probably sick of hearing this, McCain announced some new hires today… Hotlineblog has the details:

Over the past several months, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has quietly recruited for his presidential campaign some of the most influential online strategists in the country, including one of the main architects of Howard Dean’s pioneering website.

John Weaver, McCain’s chief political strategist, confirmed today that Nicco Mele, the webmaster of Dean for America, is among those who have committed to help. Mele’s work on Dean’s campaign, which including , led Esquire to name him as one of the country’s “best and brightest.” His firm, EchoDitto, lists more than twenty major Democratic and liberal firms and candidates as clients. Mele did not respond to an e-mail seeking immediate comment.

Also committing, according to Weaver: Mike Connell of New Media Communications. He designed, developed and managed the Bush campaign’s websites in 2000 and 2004.

They also point out:

With the recruitment of Connell, the incipient McCain campaign has pulled off a coup of sorts. It has now attracted top talent from nearly every major division of the Bush-Cheney campaign.

RNC attack on Kos: Another version of an attack on liberal media

So today, the RNC sent out a memo about what a freak Kos is. Needless to say, he is a freak. Recall some parts of the RNC’s memo about activating the base:

Almost 60% of the Base expresses extremely high dissatisfaction with the media coverage of the situation in Iraq.

A majority of the base — 56 percent — reported “extremely strong feelings” about the Democrats’ position on the war on terror and many did so independently of their support for President Bush. That suggests that Republicans could write a two-part message to their base, one that kicks the Democrats and the other that affirms the Republican dominance on the issue.

Sixty percent (60%) of the Base has extremely negative feelings about the Democrat’s impeachment threats – placing it among the strongest in the survey.

That’s why associating Kos (and the left blogs) with the Democrat leadership is so important. Thus the RNC memo has two sections:



The media and bloggers are the Democrat party.

Registering Voters with SMS

This is finally an application of SMS in American politics that I believe in. Personal Democracy Forum has a post about registering single women to vote over SMS. Here’s a little bit about it:

… text “SMS” to 75444. As you know, most of your friends probably have their cell phone on them when you are speaking to them and sending a text message will only interrupt conversations for a few seconds… the same amount of time it takes to unwrap a stick of gum.

Then they have a little interaction and a they are registered to vote (details here). In general, I think that building lists and IDing supporters is the thing to do with SMS. Hotlineblog reports a good (John Edwards) and bad (Rick Santorum) way to use SMS.

Some friends of mine in Finland are doing this. People can join their organization (the youth wing of one of the Finnish conservative parties) by texting an address. They can even pay their membership dues that way. In general, the US is a little behind the times on using SMS in politics for a variety of reasons (some of them good like cheap phone calls). Here are some great examples of international political use of SMS (H/T Smart Mobs). But a big one is just that most of the people that use SMS are younger and don’t vote anyways.

If I were a College Republican or a College Democrat at a recruiting table this fall, the first thing that I would do is have every person who shows up register to vote in front of you. And then send something similar out to your Facebook group…

Google Ads, Mormonism, and Mitt Romney

A couple of months ago, I had an argument with someone about the impact of Mitt Romney’s Mormonism on his campaign for President. In short, I wish it wouldn’t have any, but I think it will. Then I picked up a copy of the WSJ and started reading it and there was a full page article about something outrageous that a Mormon Seminary had done. Now, this is not a shot against Mormons or seminaries — my mother, father, step-father, two grandparents, and 3 uncles all graduated from seminary, and I know that seminaries do outrageous things for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — but rather to point out that Mormonism is going to come under scrutiny.

That’s a preface to my point. I recently put up Google Ads on this site. And next to nearly all the articles that mention Mitt Romney, an ad pops up (and is probably showing up right now along with other ads targeted to Mormon audiences. Click on them and give me money!):

The Book of Mormon:
Is it true? And does it matter?
“The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon”

This takes you to The Living Hope Ministries (describes its purpose as “Educating and equipping Christian Ministry to Mormons”) which has an online movie comparing the Bible and the Book of Mormon. They offer free videos to Mormons that explain why they think the Book of Mormon got it wrong. Now much ink has and will be spilled about various antagonisms between Evangelicals and Mormons, but, again, that’s not my point.

Living Hope Ministries is almost certainly paying money to show up in Mitt Romney searches. Now this is good business because their target audience is Mormons. But they also reach non-Mormons (like me) who are trying to learn more about Mitt Romney. What will the politics of this be? And what will the law be? They are quite entitled to do this as 501(c)3s. This is “public education”. There will probably be, in the end, a huge soft money operation to “inform” people about Mormonism on both sides. (that is Mormons probably will counter)

Indeed, in many ways, this will be an opportunity for Mormons to try to main stream themselves within the country. All in all, this raises the possibility of foregrounding religion even more in the Republican primary. This contest will be important for American politicals, but it will also be important for American religion.

The search for the anti-McCain goes on: Attacks on Newt and Mitt

Dan Drezner is saying that the next McCain is Brownback. One Redstate writer agrees, but another suggests Hagel. Of course, no one really thinks that these are viable 08 candidates. But the search for an anti-McCain candidate continues furiously.

One option seems to be Mitt Romney. But Gary Glenn, the chairman of Campaign for Michigan Families and the president of the American Family Association in Michigan.– remember that’s an early primary state and, rumor is, Mitt’s home after he leaves MA — doesn’t like Romney’s record. Hotlineblog has the details:

“Romney’s ten-year political career has occurred from his late 40s to his late 50s, yet he asks pro-family conservatives to naively believe that he’s just now figuring out his core beliefs.” … “According to the Associated Press, he has appointed at least two openly homosexual lawyers to state judgeships, one a board member of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association. Imagine how that will fly in Republican presidential primaries in the South, the prospect of a president with a record of appointing homosexual activists to the bench.”

A conservative activist at Save The GOP says that he could support McCain but he doesn’t trust him on judges. One suspects that this is not going to enamour him to Romney…

Also today in Insight Magazine, Newt Gingrich suffers the worst possible. He gets compared to Clinton:

Mr. Gingrich is the conservative version of Mr. Clinton Both are spoiled, self-indulgent and narcissistic baby boomers. Both are policy wonks (except that Mr. Clinton deals in liberal ideas and Mr. Gingrich in conservative ones). Both are men on the make, shameless opportunists obsessed with political power and influence. Both are superficial and hollow leaders, who fold when they encounter fierce opposition. And both are sexual degenerates who have mistreated women.

Yowsers. And, of course, last week, conservatives were explaining why Giuliani wasn’t suitable.

The search goes on.