Wednesday, February 1, 2012
To: Friends & Supporters
From: Gary L. Bauer
COUNTDOWN TO VICTORY: 279 DAYS TO THE 2012 ELECTIONS
Romney Wins Florida
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney clearly scored an impressive win in Florida last night. He needed to. He had a clear advantage in advertising dollars, outspending Newt Gingrich 5-to-1. But he also had another advantage. The exit polls showed that Florida voters were looking for one thing: They want Obama out; they were looking for a winner.
According to CNN's exit polling, 45% of voters said the most important quality in a candidate was the ability to defeat Barack Obama, and 58% of those voters backed Romney. Fifty-three percent of voters also said Romney was the candidate most likely to be able to defeat Obama.
But I want to offer the same caution I have made in previous messages about electability. The GOP has a history of nominating individuals who were supposedly the most electable but who came up short each time. The conventional wisdom about electability has often been wrong.
In hindsight, everyone loved and supported Ronald Reagan. But there has been a lot of revisionist history in the past 30 years. In 1980 conservatives nominated Ronald Reagan over the full-throated opposition of the GOP establishment. His victory was greeted gleefully by Democrats and the liberal media. Of all the possible nominees, Reagan was the one they were certain they could defeat. The electability argument was dead wrong. It was Jimmy Carter who got trounced on Election Day.
I can appreciate why the Romney camp is celebrating today. But here is what would worry me in the days and weeks ahead: 41% of Republican primary voters felt that Mitt Romney's positions on the issues were "not conservative enough."
While winning the statewide vote, Romney won only 38% of the vote in the Panhandle and in north Florida -- the state's most conservative areas. Combined, Gingrich and Santorum took 54% of the vote there. These voters are more representative of the conservative base of the GOP throughout the South and Midwest.
In the general election, Governor Romney will not be able to outspend Barack Obama 5-to-1. He will need a massive turnout from conservative voters if he is going to have any chance of winning. George W. Bush was reelected in 2004 because of tremendous turnout by conservative, evangelical voters in rural Ohio, who turned out to support the marriage amendment on the ballot that same year.
The Obama strategy will be to discourage conservatives from voting or to peel some of them off with appeals to class warfare. The Romney campaign needs to be thinking now about how it will get the conservative base energized in November.
Lastly, for all those who still cling to the misguided notion that Ron Paul is the only true conservative in the race, once again Paul did nearly twice as well among those who identified as moderate or liberal as those who identified as somewhat or very conservative.
Mitt Romney certainly has a new burst of momentum and is the clear GOP front-runner. But this race is far from over. For all the hype about the early contests in January, only four states voted and there are more delegates at stake this month (187) than last month (115). Seven states will vote in February and there could be some surprises ahead.
For example, as my good friend Bill Kristol writes this morning, perhaps more voters will take a second look at former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. The Florida contest was portrayed as largely a two-man race, a clash between Newt and Mitt. Coming off his victory in South Carolina, Newt was unable to "make the sale" with enough voters, despite significant spending on his part.
In contrast, Senator Santorum ran no negative ads, spent very little money and still managed to attract 13% of the vote last night. Moreover, while he suffers from perceptions about electability, he continues to enjoy high personal favorability ratings. A surprise showing might provide greater exposure and additional resources that could reshape the contest yet again. Stay tuned!
Warnings About Iran
Yesterday Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified before Congress about the national security threats confronting America. There was some good news about a diminished threat from Al Qaeda in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death, but Clapper had disturbing warnings about Iran.
While the world is focused on Iran's threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, Clapper warned members of the Senate Intelligence Committee that there is growing concern that Iran is prepared to launch terrorist attacks inside the United States. Clapper said last year's Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, D.C., "shows that some Iranian officials -- probably including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei -- have changed their calculus and are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived U.S. actions that threaten the regime."
This is a very dangerous time for America and the world. As Iran continues its feverish pursuit of nuclear weapons, it may also attempt to strike our homeland. The timing of Obama's planned defense cuts increases the danger that Iran will miscalculate its own strength based on our perceived weakness.
CBO Bashes Obama
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released a stunning report this week that should have the Obama campaign reaching for the Maalox. It paints a bleak fiscal future of more deficits, higher taxes and more unemployment. Here are excerpts of an analysis of the CBO report from today's Wall Street Journal:
"CBO reports that annual spending over the Obama era has climbed to a projected $3.6 trillion this fiscal year from $2.98 trillion in fiscal 2008, or more than 20%. The government spending burden has averaged 24% of GDP, up from an average of about 20%. This doesn't include the $2 trillion tab for ObamaCare. All of this has increased the federal debt by about $5 trillion in a mere four years. …In other words, the four years of Obama's Presidency will mark the four highest years in spending and deficits as a share of the economy since Harry Truman sat in the Oval Office.
"…On President Obama's watch, CBO says public debt will climb this year to 72.5% of the economy from 40.3% in 2008. This isn't as high as Italy or Greece, but it's rising fast toward the 90% level that begins to debilitate an economy.
"…Even the Keynesians who run CBO concede that the 2013 tax hike -- on capital gains, dividends, estates and small business -- would knock economic growth down to 1% next year and raise unemployment to 9.1% (from 8.5%). That means about 750,000 more jobless Americans. …To sum it all up, CBO's facts plainly show that Mr. Obama has the worst fiscal record of any President in modern times. No one else is even close."