Tales from the Trail

Perry attacks more conservative rivals, ignores Romney

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s latest ads don’t even bother attacking Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney. With polls showing him in fifth place among Republicans in Iowa and seventh in New Hampshire, Perry’s aim is now to emerge as one of the top two conservative options to Romney.

To get there, he needs to knock off some of the other candidates polling immediately in front of him — which is why his latest TV ad in Iowa attacks Rep. Ron Paul, Rep. Michele Bachmann, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and ex-Sen. Rick Santorum, but doesn’t mention Romney.

“The fox guarding the hen house is like asking a congressman to fix Washington,” the ad’s narrator says. “Bad idea. Their years in Congress left us with debt and bailouts.”

Here’s the video, via RPerry2012/YouTube:
YouTube Preview Image

With Santorum seeing a boost in Iowa polls — a CNN/Time magazine poll yesterday found him in third place in Iowa, with 16 percent — Perry is doubling down on the former Pennsylvania congressman. In a new Iowa radio ad, which takes the format of a TV game show, Perry highlights Santorum’s record of supporting earmarked federal monies for his constituents:

“Who personally demanded more than $1 billion of earmarks in his 16 years in Congress?” a narrator asks. “Jay, from Ames?”

Ex-candidate Forbes criticizes Romney and Gingrich

When Steve Forbes endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry in October, Perry was still riding high in the polls and the magazine publisher and two-time GOP candidate appeared set to be one of the most influential economic advisers to a top White House contender. Now, with Perry buried in fourth place in national polls, Forbes could be forgiven for changing horses.

He hasn’t, and today he began a three-day swing through New Hampshire to campaign on Perry’s behalf.

Speaking at a luncheon at the Rotary Club, where previous guest speakers included a local choir and three Rotarians who had recently visited Pakistan, Forbes championed Perry’s flat-tax plan that he helped craft and took a few swipes at frontrunners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

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.

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.

Battered by negative ads, Gingrich calls for Republican truce


A still from “Selling Access,” a recent ad released by the Ron Paul campaign.

Newt Gingrich is waving a white flag in the ad wars. As the most recent Republican frontrunner, he’s become the target of attacks from Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and the the pro-Romney group Restore Our Future.

Many of the attacks have focused on Gingrich’s consulting work for Freddie Mac in the run up to the financial crisis and the collapse of the housing market. Today his campaign announced a petition urging Republicans to stop attacking each other–and presumably to stop bringing up his work for Freddie.

Huntsman goes after the media

For months, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman’s presidential campaign has arguably been kept afloat by the media. Fundraising has lagged and his national poll numbers are still at about 2 percent — the same as when he entered the race in June. Yet Huntsman has received lengthy and favorable profiles by the New York Times magazine, Newsweek, Esquire and Vogue — coverage that Buddy Roemer or Gary Johnson, who have registered similar poll numbers, or Ron Paul, who has much better ones, could only dream of.

But that didn’t keep Huntsman from lashing out at the media today while campaigning in Nashua, N.H. “My hot button is when the media have me come across as cool and collected, because I’m not,” said Huntsman, in response to a question about what makes him angry. “When I’m placed on the end of the debate stage and get three minutes of time because everyone is focused on who lights their hair on fire in the debate.”

Huntsman praised his “Lincoln-Douglas” debate in New Hampshire last week with Newt Gingrich as a model of civilized discourse because neither he nor Gingrich were asked any “gotcha questions.” But he lamented the media’s analysis of the debate. “There wasn’t any blood on the floor, how come you didn’t kill each other?” he said. “This is what we’ve come to.”

from Political Theater:

Ron Paul says Michele Bachmann “hates Muslims”

Ron Paul was on The Tonight Show last night, where Jay Leno asked him to say a little something about the other Republican candidates for president. Mitt Romney, according to Paul, is "a nice guy." Newt Gingrich should "run for Speaker of the House again," and Jon Huntsman is "a good diplomat" and " a thoughtful person."

And Michele Bachmann? Well, "she doesn't like Muslims," Paul said. "She hates Muslims. She wants to go get 'em." Rick Santorum, too, has a preoccupation with "gay people and Muslims."

Here's the clip:

“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.