Tales from the Trail

Paul trumpets small-town newspaper endorsements in N.H.

In a tight campaign, even the smallest bit of good news counts. Ron Paul’s campaign is claiming three recent newspaper endorsements in New Hampshire’s scarcely populated “north country.” A local newspaper chain that owns weeklies in Littleton (pop. 6,000), Lancaster (pop. 3,300) and Berlin (pop. 9,300) decided to back the Texan following his third place finish in Iowa.

“[Paul's] prediction that the United States can no longer afford the economic cost of our overseas commitments makes many Republicans uncomfortable, possibly by the very truth of the assertion,” the editors of the Salmon Press wrote.

“Powerful leaders like Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan change the political landscape,” the editors concluded. “This is what Ron Paul would do for our country and why we support him.”

McCain defeated Romney in this area of the state in 2008, though Romney has campaigned several times in the region during this election.

Meanwhile Newt Gingrich took out a full-page ad in the New Hampshire Union-Leader, the state’s largest daily, calling Romney a “timid Massachusetts moderate.” It’s an odd media buy given that the Union-Leader, which endorsed Gingrich, is already attacking Romney nearly every day–sometimes in front-page editorials.

How did Tim Pawlenty spend Iowa caucus day?

Ah, Tim Pawlenty.

The onetime Minnesota governor seemed for a little while like a promising candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. And then came the deadly Iowa straw poll last August, a contest whose meaninglessness has been confirmed by the fact that Michelle Bachmann won it, only to come in basically last–in her home state!–yesterday when the votes actually mattered (as much as they ever do in Iowa).

It’s safe to say that, while CNN sought the wisdom of departed candidate Herman Cain, and Fox the wisdom of not-quite-candidate Sarah Palin, T-Paw was not exactly overexposed on TV during the voting and counting.

So what exactly did Tim Pawlenty do yesterday? Reuters Opinion senior editor Chadwick Matlin has imagined the day, in this piece for nymag.com.

Washington Extra – Keeping it positive, not

It’s a cruel world out there, what with these Super PACs. Just ask Newt Gingrich, the candidate who promised to stick to the positive message. Battered by weeks of negative ads from a Super PAC and plummeting poll numbers, Gingrich took a sharp detour off the high road in the final hours of campaigning in Iowa.

Gingrich called putative Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney a liar because he tries to distance himself from the ad-spewing PAC created by Romney staff and funded by his millionaire friends. “It’s baloney,” Gingrich said.

Romney in turn mocked Gingrich, telling him to toughen up and get some broader shoulders. “If you can’t stand the heat of this little kitchen, wait for the hell’s kitchen that’s coming from Barack Obama,” he responded.

Romney sons stump for their “extraordinarily cheap” father in Iowa


Tagg Romney calls voters from New Hampshire campaign headquarters, December 29, 2011.

By Eric Johnson

Undecided Iowa voters wondering just how Mitt Romney managed to salvage the cash-strapped and fraud-wracked Olympic games in 2002 and leave it with a rainy-day fund of roughly $100 million, should ask his son, Tagg.

“My dad is extraordinarily cheap,” said Tagg, 41, who stumped for his dad at a boisterous “Rock the Caucus” event at a high school outside of Des Moines.

“Mittens” Romney? Americans don’t know Republican frontrunner’s real name

Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney’s real first name is not Mitt – and it’s not Gromit or Mittens either.

According to a new 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll released on Tuesday, only 6 percent of respondents knew that the former Massachusetts governor’s first name is actually Willard. Mitt is his middle name.

About 20 percent of voters thought Romney’s first name was Mitt, 18 percent thought it was Mitchell and 8 percent picked Milton, while Gromit and Mittens received 2 percent each. Forty four percent said they didn’t know what his real name was.

Mitt Romney says Obama breaks vows, just like Kim Kardashian

President Barack Obama and reality television celebrity Kim Kardashian have something in common, according to Mitt Romney – they don’t know how to keep a promise.

“I’ve been looking at some video clips on YouTube of President Obama, then-candidate Obama, going through Iowa, making promises,” Romney said during a campaign stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Sunday.

“I think the gap between his promises and his performance is the largest I’ve seen, well, since the Kardashian wedding and the promise of until death do we part,” said the Republican presidential candidate.

New ad compares Bachmann to Thatcher

Rep. Michele Bachmann is out with a new ad comparing herself to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. While a photo of Thatcher and the text “America’s Iron Lady” flash over an image of Bachmann, a narrator says:

Born and raised in Iowa, only one candidate has been a consistent conservative fighter who fought Obamacare, who fought increasing our debt ceiling – even as other Republicans were cutting deals with Obama.

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Bachmann, who now represents a Minnesota congressional district, has spent a lot of time touting her Iowa birthplace ahead of the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucus. Perhaps most famously, she mistakenly claimed that she and actor John Wayne shared the same hometown — when in fact it was serial killer and rapist John Wayne Gacy who grew up in Bachmann’s birthplace of Waterloo.

Santorum momentum doesn’t transfer to New Hampshire

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has seen his star rise in Iowa, where polls show him moving into third place behind Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. But in New Hampshire he’s still mired in the fourth tier of Republican candidates. Two new polls out today show Romney with a wide lead in the Granite State and Ron Paul running second with Jon Huntsman and Newt Gingrich tied for fourth.

Santorum is buried at 3 percent in one of the polls, by Suffolk University, and at 4 percent in the second, by Magellan Strategies–about even with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Still, Santorum is making a push in the state with a release today claiming he has 23 endorsements from New Hampshire state legislators and the announcement yesterday that he would buy television time for a new ad making the case that he is the Republican most likely to defeat President Obama in the general election.

Ignoring polls, Santorum says he’s best GOP chance to beat Obama

You have to give him points for chutzpah. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has spent most of the GOP primary positioning himself as the candidate of the GOP’s conservative evangelical wing. With polls showing him running as high as third in Iowa, Santorum is out with a new ad in New Hampshire and Iowa making the case that he can win swing voters and is the Republicans’ best bet to win the general election.

Here’s the narrative:

Who has the best chance to beat Obama? Rick Santorum. A full spectrum conservative, Rick Santorum is rock solid on values issues. A favorite of the tea party for fighting corruption and taxpayer abuse. More foreign policy credentials than any candidate. And Rick’s ‘Made in the USA’ jobs plan will make America an economic superpower again. Rick Santorum, a trusted conservative who gives us the best chance to take back America.

Santorum has spent most of the campaign so far back in the pack pollsters have rarely surveyed him in head-to-head match-ups with the president. In fact there have been just three polls since July measuring how Santorum would fair against Obama. All three are by the Republican firm Rasmussen Reports and all three show Obama ahead by 10 points or more. Overall, polling has generally shown that Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman Jr. and Ron Paul would all fare better against Obama in a head-to-head match-up.

Occupy New Hampshire Primary

Two Occupy protesters braved freezing temperatures in Laconia, New Hampshire, on Thursday to stand silently outside a Rotary lunch meeting where Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman made his 130th campaign appearance in the state. They held a sign that read “Occupy NH Primary” and also a large mock ballot with a tick next to a “We the People” option instead of the Republican or Democrat options.

While it’s not clear what role protesters plan to play in the 2012 U.S. elections, they are already making themselves heard. Occupy protesters have interrupted campaign speeches by President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. They have also targeted New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as he campaigned for Mitt Romney, the current frontrunner in the Republican White House race.

Protesters in the national movement, which grew from an initial Occupy Wall Street demonstration in New York City on Sept. 17, are upset that billions of dollars in bailouts were given to banks while “average” Americans are still suffering financially, and accuse politicians of being swayed by large campaign donations from big businesses.