Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Etch A Sketch

Ah, if life were only like an Etch A Sketch, a little shake would allow us to erase those mistakes and messy parts. But to invoke the magical toy to explain Mitt Romney’s presidential hopes might have been a mistake, one worth erasing with a shake.

It seems that every Romney win is followed by a Romney gaffe. This time, after his Illinois victory last night, it was not the candidate who stepped in it, but rather his adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, who wanted to talk about what Romney would be like in a general election against President Obama.

“I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again,” Fehrnstrom told CNN.

Conservatives quickly jumped on the flawed analogy, telling voters that Romney would soon revert to his moderate ways.  Rick Santorum told a Louisiana crowd that Romney “is going to be a completely new candidate.” His campaign even handed out Etch A Sketches to people. Newt Gingrich, meanwhile, tweeted that Etch A Sketch is “a great toy but a losing strategy.”

Romney called a brief news conference, the kind in which he takes only one question, where he said: “I’m running as a conservative Republican. I was a conservative Republican governor. I will be running as a conservative Republican, at that point, hopefully, nominee for president.”

And then there were two… Republicans exploring presidential bid

Two Republicans have now stepped up to the plate! Well, technically they have stepped up to the plate to consider stepping up to the plate. USA-POLITCS/REPUBLICANS

Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty are the first to declare their intentions to explore a possible run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Opinion polls show they have their work cut out for them.

The two Republicans who topped the list of potential candidates that Republicans would likely support for the party nomination were not Romney or Pawlenty in a new  CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll.

Pence in Detroit: A campaign prelude?

Prominent House Republican Mike Pence has been frequently mentioned as a potential 2012 presidential candidate. On Monday, he played the part.

In a speech to the Detroit Economic Club, a favorite campaign stop for many aspiring White House contenders, Pence pushed the idea of a flat tax, a rollback of regulatory standards and a constitutional amendment to limit spending to 20 percent of GDP. USA/NRA

“We must have a mechanism that forces Washington as a whole to make the hard choices necessary to reform our nation’s addiction to big spending and unsustainable entitlements,” Pence said, according to a prepared text of his speech.

Washington Extra – (Blue) dog days

In the immortal words of  Jonathan Swift (paraphrasing Erasmus and Hamlet) “Every dog must have his day.”

According to our correspondent Andy Sullivan, Blue Dog Democrats may have had theirs already. His report from Vermillion, South Dakota suggests the Blue Dogs may be a dying breed, their centrist brand of conservatism in danger of being swept away by the Republican tide in the midterms. PARADE MACY'S

The original Dogs were actually yellow, of course, from a Southern nickname for party loyalists who would vote for a yellow dog if it were on the ballot as a Democrat. The Blue Dog Coalition took its name from the view that members’ moderate-to-conservative ideas had been “choked blue” by the party in the run-up to the 1994 election. (Suggestions for alternative color schemes gratefully received at the Democratic National Committee.)

GOP, conservatives seen dominating November turnout

USA-POLITICS/Bad news, Democrats.

The crowd most likely to vote on Nov. 2 is a lot more Republican and a lot more conservative than the one that gave Congress to the GOP in 1994.

So says a new Gallup survey that forecasts Republican and conservative majorities at polling stations for the congressional mid-term elections.

Fifty-seven percent of people who call themselves likely voters are Republican or lean Republican, while 54 percent are conservative, according to Gallup.

THIS JUST IN — Conservatives Find Home in GOP

USA-POLITICS/MASSACHUSETTS

The term “conservative Republican” may seem like a truism nowadays. But a new Gallup survey answers some interesting questions about just who those conservatives are — and who they are not.

The GOP is growing more conservative. Seventy-one percent of Republicans and Republican-voting independents call themselves conservatives today. That’s up from 62 percent in 2000, when the Bush-Gore presidential election split the country down the middle and had to be settled by the Supreme Court. Conservatives accounted for 66 percent of Republicans in 2006.

The latest Gallup findings say only 29 percent of Republicans are moderates or liberals — yes, this implies the continued but perilous existence of the species known as Republican Liberals. 

Republicans create caucus ‘to listen’ to Tea Party

There are scores of U.S. congressional caucuses that focus on specific issues — including ones to combat hunger and cancer, advance the arts, protect the environment and promote the rights of black, Asian, Hispanic and other Americans.

The conservative Tea Party movement scored a milestone on Wednesday in its drive to be heard in Washington when two dozen Republican members of the House of Representatives held the first meeting of the new Tea Party Congressional Caucus. USA-HEALTHCARE/

“We decided to form a Tea Party Caucus for one very important purpose, to listen to the concerns of the Tea Party,” Representative Michele Bachmann, chief organizer, told a Capitol Hill news conference afterward.

Mixing it up: Race, Tea Party, NAACP, Palin

The NAACP’s resolution calling on leaders of the Tea Party movement to repudiate “racist elements” within its ranks has set off a political firestorm. The civil rights group illustrated its accusations with photographs taken at rallies that show supporters carrying controversial signs criticizing President Barack Obama.

USA/Sarah Palin, a star of the Tea Party movement, responded with a missive on Facebook saying she was saddened by the NAACP’s charge of racism and accused the group of using “the divisive language of the past.”

Critics of the conservative Tea Party movement have questioned whether it is a racist movement, citing the largely white turnout at rallies and some of the signs carried by supporters. Conservatives say the liberals are using a low blow to counter genuine criticism of Obama’s policies.

Palin seeks to harness power of “Mama Grizzlies”

Sarah Palin is out with a new video today and she clearly is attempting to position herself as the leader of Republican conservative women.

She’s had some success this campaign season, promoting Republican women candidates such as South Carolina’s Nikki Haley and California’s Carly Fiorina who have gone on to win primary votes.

And how she is declaring women conservatives as part of a den of “Mama Grizzlies” eager to stampede Washington in Nov. 2 congressional elections and take on President Obama and his Democrats.

Tea Party Express names its election-year ‘heroes,’ ‘targets’

U.S. Representative Joe Wilson — the South Carolina Republican who last year screamed at President Barack Obama, “You lie!” — is on its list of “heroes.”

So is Republican Senator Jim DeMint, also of South Carolina, who’s leading a charge to repeal Obama’s landmark overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system.

USA-TAX/The Tea Party Express, one of the most prominent groups in the conservative Tea Party movement, on Thursday wrapped up a 20-day nationwide tour with an event in Washington, D.C., where it formally announced its 14 “heroes” as well as 13 “targets.”