Tales from the Trail

from Political Theater:

Romney denies history of “flip-flops” in Fox interview

In an long and sometimes tense interview with Fox's Bret Baier on Tuesday, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney defended himself against alleged policy "flip-flops" on immigration, health care, and other issues put forward in a DNC attack ad released earlier in the week.

Seated amidst crates of juice and soda inside a Conchita food warehouse in Miami, Romney denied revising his policy stances for the purposes of political expediency, telling Baier his list was "just not accurate" and suggesting he read his book to become "better informed" about his political views. The one issue on which he did acknowledge a change of heart, however, was abortion, a reversal Romney said also "occurred with Ronald Reagan, with George W. Bush, with some of the leaders in the pro-life movement.”

When Baier pushed back on Romney's defense of his stance on health care and the individual mandate, Romney, seeming exasperated, snapped, "Bret, I don't know how many hundreds of times I've said this. This is an unusual interview. All right, let's do this again." Baier pointed out that Democrats were seizing on old television clips to purportedly demonstrate his policy turn-arounds, but Romney claimed they were taking "snippets...out of context."

Asked to describe what the country would look like in 2016 after a first term as president, Romney was more upbeat:

It's going to be middle class in America again, where people have conviction that the future is brighter than the past. America has to be strong, with a strong culture, with a strong economy, and a military that's second to none. And we're loosing faith in those things. I want to make America stronger again. America will be a stronger nation, with freedom and opportunity as we've enjoyed in our past.

Romney camp hits back at DNC for “Mitt v. Mitt” attack ad

Mitt Romney’s campaign lined up a bevy of surrogates on Monday to respond to the DNC’s new “Mitt v. Mitt” ad campaign by pressing home their point that Obama is attacking Romney in order to avoid talking about the sputtering U.S. economy.

Although Romney had no public events scheduled for Monday, his campaign arranged a series of conference calls with supporters to “discuss President Obama’s record.”

Former Minnesota Governor and presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, three Ohio legislators, and New Hampshire’s state Senate Majority leader and House Majority leader were among supporters who set up at least six different press conference calls with reporters in states targeted by the DNC.

Newt, schmoot – Democrats keep sights firmly on Romney

 

Newt Gingrich may have jumped into the lead among Republican presidential hopefuls in some national polls, but the Democrats — at least – seem convinced that Mitt Romney will be President Barack Obama’s opponent in November 2012, at least if you look at how they are spending their advertising dollars.

The latest barrage, an early salvo in what is expected to be a particularly nasty presidential campaign, is a four-minute-long attack titled “Mitt v. Mitt: The Story of Two Men Trapped in One Body.” Slamming the former Massachusetts governor as having changed his position on a wide range of issues, the ad uses clips showing Romney speaking at varying points in his career and expressing different viewpoints on issues such as healthcare, immigration, climate change and even Ronald Reagan.

Speaking of Reagan, the video shows the former president saying, “There you go again,”  a particularly devastating line the Republican icon used in a debate with Democratic President Jimmy Carter, whom Reagan defeated in the 1980 election. It also uses clips from late-night television hosts depicting Romney as a candidate who “flip-flops” by changing his position, echoing Democratic attacks on Romney.

Gingrich takes heat over “amnesty”

Electrified fences, predator drones and anchor babies were nowhere to be found when the subject of illegal immigration came up in the latest of a series of Republican presidential debates.

The softer, gentler tone Tuesday night at Constitution Hall was a contrast from when the White House hopefuls took on the subject at a debate in Las Vegas last month.

But there was still heat at the Washington debate — and this time Newt Gingrich got scorched by expressing a relatively moderate position on illegal immigration.

Romney opens ad offensive against Obama

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s first television commercial attacking Barack Obama’s record  hits the airwaves in New Hampshire on Tuesday — just in time to welcome the president on a  visit to the early primary state.

A discussion of jobs was on the agenda for Obama’s quick trip to a high school in Manchester. But Romney didn’t wait for the president’s arrival.

The former Massachusetts governor previewed his new  ad Monday night on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” show.

Gingrich fascinated by Romney computer wipe

Republican Newt Gingrich had not heard of a controversy surrounding some of the final actions of rival Mitt Romney’s staff when Romney was governor of Massachusetts, but suggested the ploy might even turn up in one of his books in the future.

The Boston Globe reported this week that when Romney was leaving the statehouse in 2006 after one term as governor, eleven of his staff were allowed to use their own money to purchase their work computers’ hard drives, and the Romney administration’s emails were all wiped from a server.

“They did what?” Gingrich said when asked about it at a press conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, after a film screening. “I’m now in non-candidate mode, of simply being curious as a citizen.”

Newt goes back to school

Newt Gingrich may not have thrilled a crowd of Iowa school kids with all of his answers on Tuesday, but he cannot be accused of pandering to them.

Gingrich didn’t score points with the 200 or so middle and high schoolers  in Osage, Iowa, with his answer to the U.S. falling behind in the brain race with China.

“You’ve got to study more,” he told the kids, who stared back. “Scores in the end aren’t the teacher’s problem; they are the student’s problem.”

from Political Theater:

Five must-see moments from the GOP foreign policy debate

The Republican presidential candidates assembled in Spartanburg, South Carolina, last night for a primary debate, the first to focus entirely on foreign policy and national security. In a dialogue that spanned assorted geopolitical challenges -- including Iran's quest for nuclear weapons, America's strategic relationship with Pakistan, and trade with China -- the eight Republicans outlined the approaches they would take to diplomacy if elected head of state. Here are five of the most notable exchanges:

1. Is torture acceptable under any circumstances? And is water boarding torture?

"I served on an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War," wrote a veteran in a question submitted via email that was posed to the candidates. "I believe that torture is always wrong in all cases. What is your stance on torture?"

Cain takes the lead in GOP race – poll

Businessman Herman Cain has pulled ahead of Mitt Romney and now leads the field of 2012 Republican candidates, according to a new New York Times/ CBS News poll.

Cain has 25 percent support among Republican primary voters,  compared with 21 percent support for the former Massachusetts governor.

The two candidates were tied at 17 percent in the previous NYT/CBS poll released on Oct. 3.

Romney, Perry heat up stage at Las Vegas debate

In an earlier Republican presidential debate, Mitt Romney delivered a composed, “nice try” when he and Rick Perry locked horns over their respective records.

But at the debate in Las Vegas Tuesday night, a fight for domination between the two 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls came through strong verbal punches.

In one  prolonged verbal battle over illegal immigration, it seemed as if Perry was back in fighting form after poor performances in the early debates.