Tales from the Trail

Best of the debate: Ron Paul v. Michele Bachmann

Presidential debates allow voters to hear how candidates differ, and there are few policy differences as great as that between Rep. Ron Paul and Rep. Michele Bachmann on Iran. Take this exchange from last night:

Bachmann:

“Without a shadow of a doubt, Iran will take a nuclear weapon, they will use it to wipe our ally Israel off the face of the map and they’ve stated they will use it against the United States of America.”

For what it’s worth, Politifact has looked into Bachmann’s claim and rated it “false.”

Paul responded:

“I think this wild goal to have another war in the name of defense is the dangerous thing, the danger is really us overreacting.”

Bachmann shot back:

The problem would be the greatest under-reaction in world history if we have an avowed mad man who uses that nuclear weapon to wipe nations off the face of the earth.

“I am a serious candidate,” Michele Bachmann says


Bachmann answers questions in front of her bus before the start of her 99 county tour of Iowa in Sioux City, Iowa, December 16, 2011. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes

SIOUX CITY – Michele Bachmann wants some respect, especially from Newt Gingrich.

For two days in a row the sole woman in the Republican presidential campaign has demanded that she be respected as a serious candidate for president.

As Iowa finishline nears, Perry compares self to Tebow

In the final debate before the Iowa caucuses, Rick Perry compared himself to Tim Tebow, the most-talked about quarterback in the NFL.

At the debate in Sioux City, the Texas governor said he was hoping to stage a late-game comeback — just like the Denver Broncos quarterback who has thrilled fans (and defied critics) with a string of wins after trailing in the fourth quarter.

“You know, there are a lot of people out there — I understand it. There are a lot of folks that said Tim Tebow wasn’t going to be a very good NFL quarterback.

from Political Theater:

New anti-Romney ad rekindles — er, mocks? — Francophobia

Back in 2002, Mitt Romney welcomed francophone volunteers to the Salt City Olympics with a friendly introductory video he recorded in French. It's "an incredible experience in your life," said Romney, who spent more than two years in France as a Mormon missionary in the 1960s. "The kind that you live only once."

It's been years since freedom fries and freedom toast were items on the menu at House of Representatives cafes, and bumper stickers proclaiming "Iraq first, France next!" long ago went out of fashion. But AmericanLP, a new, self-identified "progressive" SuperPAC, is betting that the little video message was a blunder.

In a new ad the group is circulating around the internet and running on MSNBC, CNBC, and Bloomberg TV this week, the clip of Romney speaking French is mock-subtitled with a string of past comments -- that he has since retracted -- on topics including abortion, climate change, and immigration.

Washington Extra – Home for the holidays

There will be no vacation for you, Congress, until you get your work done. That was the stern message from President Obama today. But it probably wasn’t his warning that pushed Democrats and Republicans to get back to serious negotiations to finish the year’s business. More likely, it was fear of voter backlash.

For the third time this year, Americans were hearing about the threat of a government shutdown because Democrats and Republicans could not strike a deal on some basic legislation –a spending bill needed to fund many government agencies beyond Friday. After a flurry of meetings on Capitol Hill, we received word that the deal was near.

Separate negotiations on the legislation to extend a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits also seemed to gather pace after days of distractions and setbacks. If the negotiators are successful, Congress’ work might all be done by the weekend.

Poll shows Buddy Roemer leading Perry in New Hampshire

Remember when Rick Perry was the Republican presidential frontrunner? A new poll now shows him trailing former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer in New Hampshire. Though Roemer lacks an entourage of Texas Rangers mumbling into their collars and can walk the length of a Main Street in New Hampshire unrecognized, he can, it seems, still spin with the top tier candidates.

“I am encouraged by the strong support from Granite Staters” Roemer said in a press release. “We’ve held over 200 campaign stops in New Hampshire, by far the most out of any presidential candidate, and my message is resonating very well with voters here.”

Before Roemer takes his spot at the center podium at the debates next to Mitt Romney, it’s worth looking closer at the numbers (and no, Roemer hasn’t actually been invited to a debate yet). It’s true the 7News/Suffolk University poll reported Roemer tied with former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum at 2 percent and ahead of Perry, who garnered just 1 percent — the same figure as former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. However, the poll of 400 likely primary voters had a margin of error of 4.9 percent — and it may be more instructive to look at the survey’s absolute figures.

New Romney video highlights old praise from Gingrich

Newt Gingrich Praises Mitt Romney in 2010

Mitt Romney’s campaign is out today with a new web video featuring a February 2010 speech by rival Newt Gingrich in which he praised Romney’s business acumen.

“Governor Romney in his business career created more jobs than the entire Obama cabinet combined, so he could actually talk about it,” said Gingrich in an address to the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Romney’s camp liked the quote so much they actually run it twice in the ad, interspersed with graphics saying Romney “saved” the 2002 Winter Olympics and that he eliminated a $3 billion budget shortfall in Massachusetts.

Gingrich faces down protests at brain science event

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich defended himself against attacks from his rivals on Wednesday when he ran into a sustained protest at what was supposed to be a low-key event about the human brain.

Gingrich, the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, is trying to hang on to a lead in Iowa to score a victory in the state’s Jan. 3 caucuses, the first U.S. nominating contest in the Republican race to choose a 2012 presidential candidate.

But to do it he will have to overcome sustained negative ads and daily attacks from his rivals, such as a comment Mitt Romney made to The New York Times on Wednesday calling him “zany.”

Romney identified as ‘progressive’ in 2002 interview

YouTube just has no love for Mitt Romney. In a newly surfaced video circulating online, Romney is shown telling a television reporter during his 2002 campaign for Massachusetts governor that he sees himself as “moderate” and “progressive” — labels most candidates in this year’s Republican primary have tried to avoid. At least one of Romney’s rivals, Jon Huntsman — whom many consider to be the only other moderate in the Republican race — is sending the video to reporters.

In the clip, Romney is shown telling a reporter:

“I think people recognize that I’m not a partisan Republican, that I’m someone who is moderate and my views are progressive, and that I’m going to go to work for our senior citizens, for people that have been left behind, for urban schools that are not doing the right job, and so they’re going to vote for me regardless of the party label.”

Here’s the video; Romney’s comments begin at the 0:40 mark:

YouTube Preview Image

Credit: Akaczynski1/YouTube

from Political Theater:

Perry’s latest ad hypes his ‘momentum’

A month ago, after a series of poor debate performances that culminated in his infamous "oops" gaffe, Rick Perry was on the defensive. “If we’re electing a ‘debater-in-chief,’ don’t elect me,” he told Megyn Kelly on America Live on Nov. 10.

Today, by contrast, in his second new ad of the day, Perry -- who trails Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Newt Gingrich in Iowa -- is celebrating last Saturday's ABC News/Yahoo debate in Des Moines.

In the nearly two-minute-long video, titled 'Momentum,' Perry weaves together favorable reviews from observers including Chris Cillizza, Larry Sabato, RedState.org, and Tim Albrecht with miscellaneous Iowa-esque imagery and clips of Perry speaking at the debate.