Tales from the Trail

Roemer camp pressures networks, pollsters in search of “Roementum”

Former Louisiana governor and Republican presidential hopeful Buddy Roemer is turning up the heat on his opponents: polling companies and national television networks. Roemer, who was in Congress longer than Michele Bachmann and was a governor for as long as Mitt Romney, has yet to be invited to a single Republican debate. That’s because the national television networks determine who gets invited to their debates based on a shifting set of polling criteria, and they have yet to

Bachmann’s former Iowa chair denies taking money from Paul

Michele Bachmann didn’t want this to be the dominant story about her campaign less than a week out from the Iowa caucuses. After Iowa State Sen. Kent Sorenson, Bachmann’s Iowa campaign chairman, resigned and switched his allegiance to Ron Paul, Bachmann accused Sorenson of selling out for money. She told reporters:

I had a conversation with Kent Sorenson, and in the direct conversation that I had with him, he told me that he was offered money, he was offered a lot of money by the Ron Paul campaign to go and associate with the Ron Paul campaign. No one else knows about that conversation other than Kent Sorenson and myself.

Sorenson responded in an interview with CNN:

That conversation never happened. As much respect as I have for Michele, the fact of the matter is it just didn’t happen and I think it’s unfortunate they’re resorting to these type of tactics.

Four and a half Romney men


Josh, Joe (Tagg’s son), Craig, Tagg and Matt in Manchester.

The impossibly handsome, all-American foursome that walked into the Windham Restaurant on Thursday morning might have meant that a Ralph Lauren photo shoot was getting under way. Or it could have just meant that the Romney boys were back in town.

With Papa Romney busy campaigning in Iowa, four of his five sons — Tagg, Matt, Josh and Craig — as well as his grandson, Joe, stumped for the candidate in New Hampshire, regaling voters with stories of Mitt and his various exploits as family man extraordinaire, legendary household tightwad, savior of the Salt Lake City Olympics, and so on.

In their almost-matching outfits, down to the white checked shirts often favored by their famous father, the Romney boys seemed eerily reminiscent of that other good-looking Mormon group, the Osmonds.

Perry attacks more conservative rivals, ignores Romney

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s latest ads don’t even bother attacking Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney. With polls showing him in fifth place among Republicans in Iowa and seventh in New Hampshire, Perry’s aim is now to emerge as one of the top two conservative options to Romney.

To get there, he needs to knock off some of the other candidates polling immediately in front of him — which is why his latest TV ad in Iowa attacks Rep. Ron Paul, Rep. Michele Bachmann, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and ex-Sen. Rick Santorum, but doesn’t mention Romney.

“The fox guarding the hen house is like asking a congressman to fix Washington,” the ad’s narrator says. “Bad idea. Their years in Congress left us with debt and bailouts.”

Romney unveils happy ad for TV, goes negative on the web

Mitt Romney’s campaign is out with a new, upbeat television ad in Iowa extolling “the American ideals of economic freedom and opportunity.” The video weaves together farm imagery and a soaring voice-over by Romney, who says that “the principles that made this nation a great and powerful leader in the world have not lost their meaning”:

“When generations of immigrants looked up and saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time, one thing they knew beyond any doubt, and that is they were coming to a place where anything was possible. That in America, their children would have a better life”

Meanwhile, his campaign issued a new web video targeting President Obama that coincided with Romney’s visit to Davenport, Iowa, yesterday, four years after Obama visited the Mississippi River city as a candidate. “It is time for this pessimistic president to step aside and let American optimism that built this greatest nation on earth, build a greater future for our children,” Romney says in the video.

New Hampshire paper, Huntsman launch fresh attacks on Ron Paul

New Hampshire’s largest newspaper, the Union Leader, suspended its attacks on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on Thursday to turn its editorial fire on Texas Rep. Ron Paul.  The newspaper, which helped fuel Newt Gingrich’s rise in the polls in late November after it endorsed the former House speaker, published a front page editorial, titled “Ron Paul is truly dangerous,” criticizing Paul’s dovish views on Iran and the treatment of captured terror suspects. Paul’s views, in the words of publisher Joe McQuaid, are “warped” and “nuts.”

McQuaid writes:

Never mind Paul being the favored candidate of the lunatic fringe (see white supremacists, anti-Semites, truthers, etc.). Never mind his refusal to disavow a third-party run (which would only help President Obama’s reelection). His defenders say they admire Ron Paul’s “consistency.” It is true, Paul has been consistently spouting this nonsense. It is about time New Hampshire voters showed him the door.

Meanwhile, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who has staked his entire campaign on the Granite State but has seen Paul surge ahead of him in polls there, is out with a hard-hitting new ad highlighting some loony statements contained in Paul’s newsletters. Among them: a claim that Martin Luther King was a “pro-communist philanderer,” another claim suggesting “90 if not 95 percent of black males in [Washington, D.C.] are semi-criminal if not entirely criminal” and the suggestion of a “federal-homosexual cover-up of AIDS.” Paul has said he wasn’t the author of the controversial statements, which appeared in letters with names like  Ron Paul’s Freedom Report, the Ron Paul Survival Report and the Ron Paul Investment Letter.

Ex-candidate Forbes criticizes Romney and Gingrich

When Steve Forbes endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry in October, Perry was still riding high in the polls and the magazine publisher and two-time GOP candidate appeared set to be one of the most influential economic advisers to a top White House contender. Now, with Perry buried in fourth place in national polls, Forbes could be forgiven for changing horses.

He hasn’t, and today he began a three-day swing through New Hampshire to campaign on Perry’s behalf.

Speaking at a luncheon at the Rotary Club, where previous guest speakers included a local choir and three Rotarians who had recently visited Pakistan, Forbes championed Perry’s flat-tax plan that he helped craft and took a few swipes at frontrunners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

Old film shows Paul warning of UN plot

Conspiracy theories are nothing new to Ron Paul. Witness his lengthy appearance in this 1998 John Birch Society documentary, in which he predicts that the United Nations “would confiscate our guns’ and the rest of Americans’ private property. The United States, he says in the video, “will become nothing more than a pawn of the United Nations.”

“The election process will become the task of world government monitors,” the documentary’s narrator says at the 2:16 mark. “The U.S. Congress, president, judicial system and state and local government shall exist only as a facade to assure American citizens that they still have a voice in government.”

The documentary goes on to suggest the UN could disband and even burn down U.S. churches that don’t submit to its control, and throw their ministers in jail (3:15). Paul chimes in: “If the United Nations has their way, there will be curtailment of our right to practice religion,” he is shown saying (4:12).

Ron Paul attacks Gingrich and Romney in new ad

Republican Ron Paul has unveiled a hard-hitting new attack ad in Iowa and New Hampshire. As violins play anxiously in the background and washed-out images of the Capitol and other Washington landmarks flash across the screen, a voice-over warns that the “Washington machine” is “strangling” the American economy.

The implication: Washington is a conspiracy of insider politicians — politicians like Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney — working against the people.

“Serial hypocrites and flip-floppers can’t clean up the mess,” the narrator says ominously, as images of Gingrich and Romney flash on the screen. “Ron Paul,” the voice says in closing, is “the one we’ve been looking for.”

Romney casts “Virginia” Gingrich as Lucille Ball

Republican White House hopeful Newt Gingrich has termed his failure to make it onto the presidential primary ballot in Virginia, the state where he lives and is leading in the polls, in pretty grandiose terms, comparing the weekend events to Pearl Harbor. That allowed rival Mitt Romney to get off a zinger on Monday as he prepared to leave the friendly confines of New Hampshire for three days of tough campaigning in Iowa.

On Saturday, Gingrich’s national campaign director Michael Krull put out a statement after his candidate was knocked off the Virginia ballot for failing to garner enough verifiable signatures from residents: “Newt and I agreed that the analogy is December 1941: We have experienced an unexpected setback, but we will re-group and re-focus with increased determination, commitment and positive action,” Krull said on Facebook.

Campaigning at a lobster-and-chowder shack in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Romney was asked about Gingrich’s ballot woes. “I think he compared that to Pearl Harbor. It’s more like Lucille Ball at the chocolate factory,” Romney said to laughter, evoking a classic scene from U.S. television history. The 1952 episode of “I Love Lucy” had the red-headed comedian and her BFF Ethel trying to hold down jobs at a candy factory while their husbands subbed in to do the housework. Ineptitude, and hilarity, ensues.