Tales from the Trail

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.

Sorenson went on to explain that he chose Paul because he considers the Texas Congressman a “top tier candidate” who could beat Mitt Romney.

Watch:

Credit: CNN Newsroom

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.

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.

Gingrich attacks Romney, a week after promising a positive campaign

A week ago, Newt Gingrich vowed to follow Ronald Reagan’s famed “11th Commandment” and withhold attacks on fellow Republican candidates for president.

But last night his campaign e-mail blasted reporters a lengthy opposition sheet on former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, ripping Romney’s latest television ad, “Conservative Agenda.”

In the oppo sheet, the Gingrich campaign calls Romney “Mitt the Massachusetts Moderate” and highlights a number of his past, more moderate positions that may be at odds with his current stances. These include Romney’s health care reforms in Massachusetts, his support for universal health insurance and abortion rights, his vote for Democrat Paul Tsongas in his 1992 bid for president and his renunciation of the Reagan/Bush era.

Mitt Romney, car nut

Perhaps it’s no surprise to know that Mitt Romney is a car nut.

After all, Romney grew up in Michigan, where his father, George, once ran American Motors Corporation before becoming the state’s governor and launching his own failed bid for the White House.

Romney talked about his cars at campaign stops in Lancaster and Randolph, New Hampshire – and even offered to buy a classic car.

At Lowe’s, a gas station/convenience store in Randolph, Romney gassed up his tour bus with $69.90 in diesel fuel. In the store, surrounded by photos of famous visitors to the remote North Country location, he joked with one of the owners about how he would like to buy her classic “Nash Metropolitan” car, a photo of which was pinned to the wall.

Door-knocking Romney reprises missionary days

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney could be excused for having flashbacks to the 1960s when he went door to door in Berlin, New Hampshire, on Thursday.

The former Massachusetts governor worked in France as a Mormon missionary from 1966 to 1968, one of the church’s thousands of earnest young men (mostly) who knock on doors and proselytize. At that point Romney had plenty of doors slammed in his face, but on Thursday, not so much.

“This is a lot easier,” Romney quipped to Reuters. “People speak English. They wish you Merry Christmas. They don’t think you’re a salesman. People used to come to the door [in France] and wag their fingers: ‘No, I don’t want anything.’”

Romney reveals his debate card, says inheritance given away

During Rick Perry’s now infamous “oops” moment at a Republican debate last month, the Texas governor gave a panicked glance at his cue card to see if it held the name of the third agency of government he vowed to eliminate. It did not.

Today Mitt Romney told Reuters’ Steve Holland and Jim Gaines about his own debate card. Romney says he writes “Dad” on his card “just to remember a person who, if he’s able to watch, I’m sure he is.”

Romney said he also tries to remind himself not to focus his attacks in primary debates on his fellow Republicans:

Colbert’s not giving up on S.C. primary

 

Comedian Stephen Colbert has not given up on the primary in South Carolina.

The cable television talk show host tried and failed to get on the ballot to run in his home state’s primary back in 2008. This year, he has been offering to buy naming rights for the Jan. 21 primary, first by negotiating with the South Carolina Republican Party, then the state Democrats, and now by offering to have his Super PAC cover a $500,000 shortfall that South Carolina counties face in paying for the vote. 

“The counties need the money, and Colbert Super PAC wants to give it to you; call it a Christmas Miracle. I’ve already filled out the check, and to prove it’s no joke, I’ve written ‘No Joke’ in the memo line. I’m going to be home in South Carolina over the holidays, so just give me a call. Both state parties have my contact info,” he wrote in an editorial in South Carolina’s “The State” newspaper on Thursday.

“Let’s put this late unpleasantness behind us and, in 2012, hold the greatest primary of all time.”

Protesters disrupt Gingrich press conference


REUTERS/Jeff Haynes

Protesters loudly interrupted Newt Gingrich twice as he accepted endorsements from Iowa and New Hampshire state party leaders at a press conference on Wednesday, clapping and chanting “put people first” before being hustled out of the room by security officers.

“He’s not welcome here in Iowa until he starts representing everyday people and hardworking families and the 99 percent,” said David Goodner, one of the protesters, of the group Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund. “We’re going to keep getting in his face until he starts changing his policies,” he said.

The protests began just as Gingrich took the podium. The candidate stopped and turned to watch as guards surrounded the protesters and pushed some of them outside.