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from Nicholas Wapshott:

Enlightening the puzzled Republicans

Moderate Republicans cannot fathom what has happened to their party.

Once a happy band of no-nonsense, pro-business conservatives, cautious in everything from money to marriage -- including their wary response to the onward march of 1960s liberal social values -- they were prepared, within reason, to trim their policies to match the voters’ mood. After all, to achieve anything in government you first have to win elections.

But that was before the revival in fundamental conservatism that has turned the GOP from a pragmatic party to a collection of inward-looking ideological tribes. Republicans puzzled by the rise of dogma and division in their party can find answers in a new survey that explains how large the factions are and what they think. They will be surprised by the findings.

The GOP has long been considered a three-legged stool: big business, Southern evangelical Christians and anti-government Westerners. But, largely since the world financial panic of 2008-9, these three have been joined by two new aggressive, popular movements: the Tea Party and the libertarians.

To put the transformation of the GOP in context: the only postwar departure from steady, old-school Republican moderation was an experiment in conservative radicalism in 1964 when the government-hating Barry M. Goldwater became the party’s presidential champion.

from The Great Debate:

Monetizing the marginalized

Five years ago, Ron Paul’s popularity was still surprising. Sometime in 2007, the former physician, longtime crank in Congress, and thoroughly fringe Republican had somehow turned his shtick into success -- at least monetarily. Paul raised more than $31 million in the 2008 Republican primary even though he never actually won a contest where actual delegates were at stake. For a longshot like Paul, it wasn’t the chance of his success that drove people to donate; on the contrary, all but the deluded knew he would fail.

Now, in 2012, the idea of his success among the fringe is mainstream. And Paul’s alchemy -- turning derision into dollars -- isn’t exclusive to his corner of the fringe. The powers that be -- politics, media, Corporate America -- have refused to embrace causes from Occupy Wall Street to Elizabeth Warren. And yet these underdogs still find a way to succeed because marginalization has become incredibly lucrative. How else to explain the $150 million that the DIY funding site Kickstarter is expected to help raise this year, even though many of the projects it funds will do no better than Ron Paul?

from The Great Debate:

How Ron Paul may have won — and lost — Maine

Washington County, Maine, is the easternmost point in the continental United States. This region of rocky shores and pinetree forests is populated by proudly independent -- and defiant -- citizens.

The Republicans in Washington County have supported such radical and underdog candidates as Ross Perot and Patrick Buchanan in the past.

from Tales from the Trail:

Gingrich offers “dream team” to supporters

For a $100 donation, this free poster of Newt Gingrich and his conservative "Dream Team" can be yours.

The poster -- featuring the Republican presidential candidate flanked by endorsers of his White House bid  -- was offered to supporters Tuesday in a new fundraising appeal.

from Tales from the Trail:

Not all smooth sailing for Romney in Maine

Republican Mitt Romney found it was not all smooth sailing in Maine on Friday night when he was heckled repeatedly at a town hall meeting in Portland at a marine storage and repair facility.

Romney jetted in from Washington to fire up his base a day before the Maine Republican Party announces the results of a week-long caucusing process. But the well-attended meeting wasn’t without some unexpected drama that showed the candidate’s testy side.

from Tales from the Trail:

Maybe it’s better not to get that big endorsement

One staple of the U.S. political scene is the quest for endorsements, and Republican front-runner Mitt Romney seems to be leading in the race for support from the GOP establishment.

He picked up the support of Arizona Senator John McCain, who was the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, who also was a member of the U.S. presidential field until August.

from Tales from the Trail:

Ron Paul is all action

Republican some-time folk hero Ron Paul has been mostly missing in action in Florida, a winner-take-all primary state that votes next Tuesday. Currently pulling down only about 10 percent support in the Sunshine State, the Texas Congressman has opted to seek out more fruitful pastures in his quest to assemble delegates for the 2012 convention. Paul’s yard sign elves remain busy, though, and Paulite insurgents have shown up at a number of other events, sometimes jostling with supporters of, for example, Rick Santorum.

But fear not, fans in Florida or elsewhere. A new, virtual version is only a few clicks away, thanks to the pro-Paul RevolutionPAC.

from Jack and Suzy Welch:

Ron Paul and the pink slip that could decide the election

Have you ever woken up in the morning knowing you have to let someone go and just felt sick to your stomach? It’s the worst part of work, isn’t it? Even when it’s absolutely necessary -- the money isn’t there or the employee hasn’t been contributing for ages -- the emotional pain and mess of sending someone home is every good leader’s bête noire.

To make matters worse, letting someone go is, without doubt the moment when every leader is the most likely to screw up. Really screw up. Because when you fire a person the wrong way -- that is, without generosity and respect -- you can be sure of two things.

from Tales from the Trail:

Presidential candidates take on Castro in Florida

Republican White House contenders took the race to win their party's nomination to Florida this week, where they tried to outdo each other on topics important to Floridians--including what to do about Cuba, the small, Communist, Spanish-speaking island that has long frustrated U.S. foreign policy.

In a debate on Monday in Tampa, the candidates took turns lambasting Castro and current U.S policy toward Cuba, striving to curry favor with conservative Cuban Americans who make up the majority of Florida's 400,000-some Hispanic Republican voters.

from Breakingviews:

Ron Paul’s staying power threatens to alter debate

By Daniel Indiviglio and Martin Hutchinson

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire primary but Ron Paul’s showing could have as big an effect on the race. After finishing third in Iowa, the Texas Republican placed second in the Granite State, securing nearly one in four votes. That keeps him in the hunt to challenge Romney for now and could inspire him to make a third-party run later. Either way, the longer Paul sticks around, the more the national debate is likely to shift on important economic issues.

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