Tales from the Trail

Economy should be focus of 2012 election, GOP governors say

By Samson Reiny

As the battle for the Republican presidential nomination rages on between front-runner Mitt Romney and a resurgent Rick Santorum, governors from their party today said that economic recovery – not social issues – would be the main concern among voters heading to the ballot box in November.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, speaking after the National Governor’s Association’s annual meeting at the White House, said the divergent fiscal beliefs between Republicans and Democrats would be decisive for voters this election season.

“This president, President Obama, believes in a larger centralized government,” Jindal said, underscoring three straight years of trillion-plus dollar deficits undertaken under the current administration. “You’re going to contrast that with the Republican philosophy of limited government, of lower spending, of balancing our budgets, of growing the private sector economy.”

Virginia’s Governor Bob McDonnell, a Romney supporter, stressed that while people want to know where the candidates stand on abortion and religious freedom – hot-button topics that have gained Santorum, a devout Catholic, traction among the religious right – job creation remains critical for most of the voting public. “They’re going to vote on jobs, spending, the economy, taxes, transportation,” he said, “and whether or not Johnny graduating from college is going to be able to get a good job.”

Acknowledging that primaries are “always a messy process, democracy is messy,” Jindal said he was confident Republicans would unite around their eventual nominee. “The reality is that at the end of the day, we will have a candidate that we will all get behind.”

Virginia shakes off Obama blue, returns to red roots

Pundits always use sports analogies for politics, we’re thinking of trying something different — a hair color analogy.

Virginia returned to its red roots tonight after an impetuous experiment last year with blue, the state’s political color of a generation ago. MONACO/

OK maybe it doesn’t work as well. To put it more simply, the Republicans won the governor’s race in Virginia. That was in contrast to last year when Barack Obama captured the state which voted Democrat in a presidential election for the first time since 1964.

The First Draft: Elections East-West

Elections in the East, elections in the West.

Hot off the wire: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been declared re-elected.

AFGHANISTAN/Afghanistan’s election commission made the declaration after Karzai’s opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew and a run-off election was canceled. “The Independent Election Commission declares the esteemed Hamid Karzai as the president,” the commission’s chief said.

This will no doubt increase the pressure on President Barack Obama to roll-out his new Afghanistan strategy earlier rather than later, now that he knows who the United States will be dealing with.

Matthew Hoh, the former State Department employee who quit last month in protest over U.S. policy in Afghanistan, told NBC’s “Today” show that the Karzai news was “disappointing” and despite the investment of  a lot of U.S. resources, “we didn’t get what we put our troops there for.”

Romney rakes in the dough, gives generously

USA-POLITICS/Former, and perhaps future, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney raked in some serious cash — $1.6 million — for his political action committee during the first half of 2009, despite the recession.

Romney, who dropped out of the 2008 presidential campaign after poor showings in the early primaries despite raising huge sums of money, is considered one of the untainted potential candidates for 2012. Problems saddling fellow Republicans like outgoing Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Nevada Senator John Ensign have put their presidential aspirations in question.

In addition to trying to stockpile some cash in case he decides he will make another White House bid, Romney donated $5,000 to Missouri Republican Representative Roy Blunt, who is running for Senate in 2010, and Republican Bob McDonnell, who is seeking Virginia’s governorship.