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Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachmann, a Tale of Two Campaigns

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On today’s edition of Coffee and Markets, Brad Jackson is joined by Pejman Yousefzadeh and Ben Domenech to discuss Jon Huntsman’s recent comments on Afghanistan and how he appeals to the isolationist wing of the Republican party. Then we’ll talk about Michele Bachmann’s meteoric rise in the polls and how she matches up with the rest of the field.

We’re brought to you as always by BigGovernment and Stephen Clouse and Associates. If you’d like to email us, you can do so at coffee[at]newledger.com. We hope you enjoy the show.

Related Links:

Jon Huntsman’s Foreign Policy
Is Huntsman a Republican?
Jon Huntsman Goes Obamaesque
Bachmann in Strong Position as She Enters 2012 Race
The Tea Party Divide Grows

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Transcript

Jackson: On the show today Elizabeth is taking the week off so the one and only Ben Domenech, my partner in crime for the rest of the week here on Coffee and Markets, is going to join me and Pej for the Wednesday show.

We’ll discuss John Huntsman’s recent comments on Afghanistan and how he appeals to the isolationist wing of the Republic party, then we’ll talk about Michele Bachman’s meteoric rise in the 2012 polls in Iowa, how she matches up with the rest of the field, and her role in a growing divide in the Tea Party movement. I’m your host, Brad Jackson, and you’re listening to the June 29, 2011 edition of Coffee and Markets.

Ben, welcome to our Wednesday show. Someplace I don’t think you’ve been to in a long time.

Domenech: Yeah. I haven’t been able to join you recently, but it’s a pleasure to be on with you tonight and I’m happy to get the chance to talk once again with Pejman. It’s always a pleasure.

Yousefzadeh: The pleasure is mine, and I attribute you being here solely and exclusively to my charisma.

Domenech: Absolutely. I’m drawn like a moth to the flame.

Yousefzadeh: I’ve heard that from several women.

Jackson: You just have to beat them off with a stick, huh Pej?

Yousefzadeh: You know what, I’m short, I’m bald, I’m lovable.

Domenech: It’s the belt buckle I’m sure that makes –

Yousefzadeh: It is. It is the Texas belt buckle. The exotic name, yeah. Absolutely. And the modesty.

Domenech: Of course.

Jackson: Let’s start tonight with a discussion about John Huntsman. He has been, he obviously is running for President. Had a wonderfully grand announcement in front of the Statue of Liberty pretending to be Ronald Reagan. He has said some controversial things about foreign policy recently in the news, and Ben you wrote on this and so did you Pej, about Afghanistan. Ben, let’s start with you. What were your thoughts on what he said in Afghanistan?

Domenech: You know, here’s the thing and I want to sort of give some context to this discussion. My real concern about the conservative cause at the moment is that if you rewind, let’s work your thoughts back to the late 1970s when you had a very similar sort of President in power who was squandering an opportunity for economic growth and who just didn’t know what to do when it came to foreign affairs. And you had a challenger in Ronald Reagan who was coming from the perspective of trying to unify what he thought could be a new governing coalition for the Republican party. And post, I would actually pinpoint the moment that true sort of modern Republicism came into being as being the 1976 Convention when Gerald Ford famously having bested Ronald Reagan invited him to come forward and say a few words to the convention that he knew loved him more than they loved Gerry Ford.

And Reagan seized the opportunity to come out of the shadows and to say a few words to the audience that both convinced them in one fell swoop that they had nominated the wrong guy, and secondarily that adopted a very strong and robust foreign policy view of the need to confront the Soviet Union as it was and not just be content with détente. I think that at that point and in the speeches that Reagan gave afterwards, particularly his 1977 address to CPAC, he outlined the idea of the three legged stool and of talking about, you know, a coalition that had combined fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, and those who believed in a robust defense of freedom and liberty to form a governing coalition. I think that when you view this in, over the past several, you know, election cycles, presidential nomination cycles, you’ve actually found that Republicans nominate people who adopt all three legs of that stool pretty consistently. You haven’t had someone like Rudy Giuliani who might reject the social conservative side of it. You haven’t had someone who has just rejected any one part of that whole sale.

I think that my concern about the current moment that we’re in and Pejman, I’d be interested in your thoughts on this, is that I’m not sure that we’ve had a point as where the foreign policy, the robust defense leg of this stool, was as weak as it currently is. And I interviewed Buck McKeenan (phonetic sp.) last week briefly and there’s a quote in one of my real clear pieces about this, and the real concern that I have is that when you look at President Obama’s speech on Afghanistan, you look at his drawdown schedule, which I thought was not great, but could have been a lot worse, that the criticism for that policy came from the left from two prominent candidates, Jon Huntsmanand Ron Paul. And came, you know, in sort of a mushy way from roughly the same place in Mitt Romney. The only real person who criticized him from the right in a coherent way was Tim Pawlenty. Bachman had kind of a slap in the face sort of, one or two liner about it.

But in terms of a criticism that I have of Jon Huntsmancandidacy, I really thought that when he was getting into the fray he was getting into it as the guy who knew the most about foreign policy. Who was going to be able to maybe try to offer an, you know, I stood up to the Chinese on human rights or something along those lines, whether you think that’s what he did or not. My concern is that he’s going to cater to a side of the constituency that doesn’t need to be growing any. Which thinks that we ought to retreat from the world and do so rapidly. He talks so much about strengthening our core, you know, as if we need to do an ab workout with P90X.

The concern that I have there Pej, and I wonder if you could speak to this, is that Huntsman is going to, in the course of this campaign, you know, regardless of the fact that I don’t think he has a shot at the nomination, he’s going to lend credence to the idea that this is an acceptable Republican foreign policy. What do you think?

Yousefzadeh: Well, first of all I took a dimmer view of the President’s announcement than you did. And I, as a consequence, am less enamored and perhaps even less enamored of Huntsman position on Afghanistan than you are since Huntsman’s withdrawal schedule promises to be more aggressive. Now, I should say, Huntsman and Romney are right now the two candidates vying for the all important, all crucial king making Pejman Yousefzadeh support.

Domenech: Yes. Yes, of course.

Yousefzadeh: So –

Domenech: A critical constituency in Illinois. I do agree.

Yousefzadeh: – the exceedingly critical constituency in a state that the President is sure to carry in 2012. I guess that we can talk about what that says of my opinion of the GOP field in general, but we’ll just stick to foreign policy instead. Ben is right in saying that the advent of Reagan and Reaganism meant the advent of a particular doctrine of foreign policy that has long been a cornerstone of the Republican party. And it is a foreign policy that, by the way, is not at all antithetical to realism or realpolitik and you know, no less a realist or a practitioner of realpolitik than the outgoing Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, has praised Reagan for being, and I quote, “A truly great President” in his last interview with 60 Minutes. And said he was far smarter and far slier than people gave him credit for in dealing with the Soviets.

So, you know, if Reaganism is somehow retrenching as a dominant foreign policy thought in the Republican party, it doesn’t necessarily mean that realism is on the upswing. I mean, Huntsman boasts practitioners of realpolitik like Brent Scowcroft, and Richard Haas, and Dick Armitage who is most famous for being the one who actually did leak the name of Valerie Plame.

Domenech: But was not featured in the movie about such therefore –

Yousefzadeh: But was not featured in the movie about it, yes.

Domenech: – therefore it never happened.

Yousefzadeh: Yes. But it was not featured in the movie about such, because of course, the primary sinister figure was a guy named Scotter.

Domenech: Yeah.

Yousefzadeh: You’ve just got to love people’s grasp of history these days. But you know, my point being that, you know, just because these practitioners of realpolitik are advising Huntsman and because Huntsman is saying stuff that perhaps maybe a foreign policy wave of the future for the Republican party, it doesn’t necessarily mean that realism or realpolitik are antithetical to Reaganism, which Ben described as being in the ascendance from 1976 to, well fairly recently.

I think what’s going on is this. First of all the Republican party has always had a strain of isolationism in it. And from time to time the flames get fanned. I mean, after Wendell Willkie and Thomas Dewey basically promised to let politics stop at the water’s edge in their disputes with FDR because we were at war, Robert Taft and William Noland both Senate majority leaders came in and basically heralded a period of Republican isolationism. Pat Buchannan briefly fanned the flames of isolationism as well, not just with regards to his opposition to the Persian Gulf War which he blamed on the Israel lobby, but also with his opposition to free trade in the era of NAFTA.

Now you have Paul and I think that Jon Huntsman does know a lot about foreign policy, he probably knows more than all the other GOP candidates. It’s just that there’s a difference between knowing and showing. And I don’t think he’s showing how much he knows about foreign policy when he promises to have a more, a quicker withdrawal from Afghanistan than the one even the President is proposing, and one that has gone against the advice of the generals on the ground. But, you know, what we’re seeing is basically a war weary country. And what we’re seeing is a very powerful focus on the economy and therefore I think a lot of Republican candidates have discovered that there is a hidden market to making isolationist dog whistle noises. I’m not sure that it’s going to last. I would hope that it doesn’t. Perhaps once the economy picks up we’ll start thinking about our international responsibilities yet again.

But I’m in general agreement with Ben’s point that right now there does seem to be an isolationist strain in the Republican party and that Pawlenty is trying to distinguish himself by speaking out against it. I don’t know if it’s going to last, I don’t think it’s going to last as long as a Reaganite view of foreign policy did. But to the extent it does last it does promise to do some damage to American foreign policy, which is why I hope that there is some pushback. And despite my appreciation for some of Huntsman’s other virtues, I found it necessary to write against his Afghanistan policy and it’s the kind of thing that prevents me from coming out and support him, at least at this point.

I should note that I was a fan of Mitch Daniels for a long time as well, but in previous Podcasts, and I still am, but in previous Podcasts with Brad I repeatedly said that he needs to come out with a foreign policy vision if he wants to be President of the United States. And until he does so it’s hard even, even despite his laser focus on the economy and the fact that the economy is the biggest issue how, it’s hard to say okay, you can be a full complete President. I mean, you’re not just President of the economy. You’re President of a lot of things. And your most expansive powers as President are in the field of foreign and national security policy. So, you have to show an interest in that. And I’m deeply concerned that the Republican party is showing less of an interest in it than it has in the past, and I would hope that it’s temporary.

Jackson: Pej, let me ask this. With the focus right now, as you said, on the economy, on debt, on Medicaid, on ObamaCare, on all that sort of stuff, does a foreign policy focused campaign, like Huntsman might run, matter?

Yousefzadeh: I don’t think foreign policy ever really mattered unless we were at war.

Domenech: Yeah.

Yousefzadeh: I mean, we’re at war now, but we’re so conditioned to being at war that it’s receded. And we are drawing down in Iraq. We’re drawing down in Afghanistan. We are told that the war against Libya really isn’t a war, because somehow we’re not engaged in sufficient hostilities in order to declare a war for the purpose of the War Powers Act of 1973. So I –

Domenech: Here is what I would interject there, Brad, I think post Cold War era you’ve never really had foreign policy matter so much as you’ve had trade matter. Trade matters a little bit more than I think people like to admit, simply because it affects the Democratic base so much when it comes down to it. Union employees all have a pretty strong opinion about free trade acts, things like that. And several of the trade acts that are before the Congress have just been languishing, even though Obama promised to move on them and, you know, we’ve really fallen behind in that area. I think foreign policy really in the post Cold War era has never mattered as much except that when you consider it, in 2008 both the nominees got their nomination because of foreign policy. They got it because in Obama’s case, of Hillary Clinton’s vote in support of an unpopular war.

And in McCain’s case he got it mostly because he was right about the surge. He was giving it as sort of a way, a reward. Now, of course, he exposed later before, you know, the entire American people his inability to understand the basics of the economy. You know, as I’ve said before, I think McCain just does not know all that much about capitalism, and what he does know he doesn’t particularly like. And I think that when it came down to it, you know, he had that whole sequence of several weeks where, you know, he had been in the lead, he had been looking pretty good, and then went, as soon as the downturn happened he had no idea how to deal with it. And I think in that case, you know, it’s kind of odd to say that 2008 was an exception to this general rule.

But I want to go back to something that Pejman said that I think is interesting. What I’m really concerned about when it comes to this trend, these trend lines, when it comes to the three legs of the stool. You know, McKeenan said, you know, just because the stool is a little out of balance because of the fiscal matters dominating everything, people are thinking about cutting defense, about drawing back down, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. As Huntsman says, you know, we need to concentrate on our core. We need to look at home. You know, we shouldn’t be doing this stuff around the world.

Here is my concern and it’s mostly driven by this poll that I read from, just from yesterday, regarding the drawdown plan. And it was conducted by Washington Post and Pugh. And it found that Republicans, 28% of Republicans say that it’s going to reduce force too quickly. Pej and I both fall in that 28%, only 5% of Democrats said the same thing. But on the flip side of that, 32% of Republicans, so statistically the same number, said that it’s not aggressive enough in bringing the troops home fast enough. Here is my concern, that’s 32% right now. Every minority party turns to isolationism. It’s just one of those things that happens. Democrats did it. Republicans did it.

My concern is that that 32% hardens. It actually becomes a portion that has a significant, you know, a third of the party, the size of a whole, you know, leg of the stool that has a perspective on these matters that basically says we shouldn’t get involved. That we should just, you know, forget alliances. Forget promises. Forget our interests in Israel and the Middle East. Forget the need to stop future terrorist attacks. Forget the need to keep pressure on Pakistan, for crying out loud. And I am not seeing anyone articulating a coherent foreign policy, national security viewpoint that can be winning to the Tea Party base, that can convince them of the need to do these things. A coherent strategy. And you don’t even need to be Reagan, you just need to be able to tell the story and make sense of why we need to be involved there and the way that we are.

My concern is that that 32% or so hardens into a permanent group of isolationists within the party and that’s a lot bigger than the kind of numbers that Pat Buchannan, and Ron Paul, and people like that were playing with in the past. That’s a lot more significant. That’s my concern. And I worry that Huntsman, who I think is just playing political games with the scenario, and with all due deference to Scocroft and Armitage, Scocroft and Richard Haas at least were both considered for positions within Obama’s Administration. They were talking to him well before he was even elected President, as being one of their inside teams. These are not people, these are Nixon era holdovers who got jobs in HW Bush. You know, it’s not people who I think represent the majority of the party, in terms of their viewpoint. My concern though is that Huntsman in playing this political game, caters to that 32%, becoming a permanent fact about the Republican party, and that’s really my chief concern.

Yousefzadeh: Just a couple quick points. I differ slightly with Ben in talking about how important foreign policy has been in previous campaigns. Foreign policy was very important in 2004, and it was so important because it was the first Presidential election after the September 11th attacks, and during, and after our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. And it was important in 2008 until the financial sector collapsed and until the economy became a serious concern.

The other thing I’d say is, if you’re going to combat the 32% and keep them from hardening, you’re going to have to do what people have not done with regards to monetary policy, which his challenge people like Ron Paul. As I’ve said before, when it comes to monetary policy and end the Fed and all that nonsense, Ron Paul basically has the field to himself because Republican’s haven’t cared. If they want to prevent the party from being isolationist, they have to care about foreign policy and take him on.

(Commercial Break)

Jackson: All right. Let’s change gears a little bit. Michele Bachman has made a bit of a splash in the 2012 field. Gallop did a survey and found that her name recognition is 69%. They came up with this metric for determining the positive intensity score of a person and she got a really great rating. She got best rating under the bunch. But Ben, you wrote something in RealClear World about how the Tea Party is going to, the Tea Party is dividing and Michele Bachman might be part of that.

Domenech: Yeah. Here’s the problem that I sort of have with Bachman’s rise and some of these different, you know, forces. The divide that the Tea Party has is not necessarily, you know, within itself. But it’s with, you know, kind of the party as a whole. And there’s kind of two different divides that I think are going on here. One is an ideological one. It’s how you perceive the world. It’s between sort of the, you know, as we discussed the Ron Paul side of things, which is a little unfair because I don’t necessarily think he’s as extreme as some of the people who are within the base, within the grass roots on these points. And Bachman has generally been, you know, more hawkish on some of these activities.

But I think that more the divide that’s there is two-fold. One, it’s a cultural divide. And a friend of mine recently pointed out, it’s a beer and wine sort of divide. You know, Tim Pawlenty obviously before the last debate was out bowling instead of doing prep. I think that that showed unfortunately for him. But here’s the thing, Tim Pawlenty bowling, totally makes sense. You can see it, right? Having a beer, bowling. Mitt Romney, bowling?

Jackson: I’m sure he has his own shoes, too.

Domenech: Yeah. Mitt Romney, not so much. Not so much. You know, it’s just –

Yousefzadeh: I think Mitt Romney’s sport is more croquet.

Domenech: Lacrosse, you know. Lacrosse, maybe.

Yousefzadeh: Well, he’d have to wear the helmet and ruin the hair.

Domenech: Exactly. Oh, yeah. So yeah. Do you think that that’s ever true? Anyway, I think that there’s certainly a cultural divide that happens there with the Tea Party where you have people who are more normal middleclass suburbanites who are turned off by certain candidates who come across as elitist. And on the flip side you have people who have advanced degrees and are, you know, attorneys and are, you know, MBAs who are more comfortable talking to kind of the elite side of things and really, you know, dislike the kind of, the Palinesque twinge of Bachman’s accent and things, you know, as silly as the gas that she’s made.

I think that the problem with that scenario is that there’s an additional divide as well, and that’s one over policy when it comes to defense spending issues and things of that nature. I think that the elites have done a very poor job of communicating with the base when it comes to defense spending, and because of that they’re suffering the consequences because the base is becoming more and more attune, I think, to the idea of having significant cuts in defense. When it comes to scaling down on that front, you know, you saw that divide very clearly when 89 Republicans voted to block any attempt to improve the limited funding this week for the NATO U.S. efforts in Libya which are really U.S. efforts, let’s be honest.

And then that figuring included Bachman, and Alan West, and a lot of other people who are freshman Republicans. I’m sympathetic to their view, but I think that that’s, you know, that’s a divide that Democrats are both going to see and they’re going to exploit, because they’re not stupid. And I think that the important thing here is, you know, not just the unity factor, but having more of a conversation between some of these foreign policy elites and a lot of the people who are more populous, more Tea Party, to find a happy medium. To find a midpoint where they can agree upon things, and not to get trapped in the scenario where there is a huge delta between them on foreign policy issues, on funding, on all these other matters.

When Heritage Foundation, AEI, and FPI are all getting together to say that it’s unacceptable to cut the second engine for the F-35, that that’s a hill to die on, and you’ve got, you know, what is it, basically half the freshman class immediately votes against them successfully with a majority of the Congress and with the Democrats, that’s a sign that there’s a real lack of failure to communicate here between, you know, people who really need to be talking to each other if that leg is going to hold together.

Jackson: Ben, let me ask this. Is it time for a President that doesn’t have a fancy Ivy league degree? I guess the last one was Ronald Reagan who graduated from, was it Eureka College? Michele Bachman is an ORU grad, you know –

Domenech: But you know, that goes back to sort of the, you know, beer and wine divide. I actually think that it’s perfectly possible to be a man of the people and still have a high falutin degree if you stay in touch with your roots. The thing that I think though that’s more –

Yousefzadeh: Bill Clinton did that rather well.

Domenech: Exactly. I think Clinton is a perfect example of that. The thing that –

Yousefzadeh: But I –

Domenech: Go ahead.

Yousefzadeh: I’m sorry. I just wanted to say something real quick though, I think the divide may be a little bit different than the one Ben describes, and I don’t think what Ben describes is at all outlandish. But he mentioned that the Tea Party people are sort of, you know, normal salt of the earth people. Well, I’m sure they’re salt of the earth, but there was a poll that the New York Times took which, and they wrote a story about it on April 14th of last year, and the first sentence says, “Tea Party supporters are wealthier and more well educated than the general public.”

Domenech: Yeah.

Yousefzadeh: And so –

Jackson: Which is not what you would think of?

Yousefzadeh: Well, which is certainly not what a lot of people on MSNBC and the politicians that they support would have you think of.

Jackson: Exactly.

Domenech: An enormous portion of the Tea Party is small business owners, and one of the things that people, you know, fail to sort of respect about their opinion about tax rates and the like is that, you know, a lot of them are running small businesses but getting charged enormous rates because they are, you know, because of what they are running into. And I think that –

Yousefzadeh: Right.

Domenech: – you know, they’re job creators.

Yousefzadeh: Right.

Domenech: So that’s a real motivating factor that people leave out. You’re correct on that.

Yousefzadeh: Right. Right. But you know, so I wonder whether or not the divide is going to be between the Palinesque, Bachmannesque wing of the party which is given to sneering at the elites and the Tea Party in which there are a lot of elites and the –

Domenech: I think though, wait. Wait. Wait. I think that there’s a difference though, Pejman, and here’s a simple way I’d put it. You see a lot of small businessman who have a pretty good income, but their degrees come from, you know, local Baptist institutions. And when you run into them they’re drinking beer on the golf course with their Chamber of Commerce buddies. That’s, I think that that’s, you know, it’s obviously a ridiculously dated Brooksian sort of generalization, but I would say that when it comes to the Tea Party there’s a lot of people who fall into that category. And that still has –

Yousefzadeh: Oh, I agree.

Domenech: – that still has this sort of, it has this anti, you know, elite sort of view of things and really here’s the divide. Here’s a good way to sort of sum it up, there’s a letter that went out organized by FPI from just a slew of former Bushies and neo-cons, sort of the neo-cons of the neo-cons. And including among them Bill Kristol and Karl Rove, urging Republicans in Congress to vote the opposite way that they did on Libya. I think that the reason that a lot of those people aren’t listening to them is that Karl Rove and Bill Kristol weren’t there for them when they were running for Congress. They weren’t endorsing them. A lot of the time, frankly, they were endorsing their opponents within the primaries, at least at the Senate level.

Jackson: Rove was working against them.

Yousefzadeh: Right. But I –

Domenech: And so that’s really the divide I’m talking about. It’s not so much like the, maybe the wine and beer thing is a little bit too much of a conflation, but you understand what I’m saying. That when the elites are talking, viewed as talking down to these people, then that’s a problem.

Yousefzadeh: Well, I understand what you’re saying, but I think part of the reason they voted against them, part of the reason, I’ll at the very least say this, part of the reason I would have voted against them was if I talked to Karl Rove, I would have said to him, you know, gee your boss came to Congress and asked for authorization in order to go to Afghanistan and go to Iraq, and the current President isn’t, and how do you defend that? And I think I would have shut him up at that point.

Jackson: I don’t know, Pej.

Domenech: But I understand what you mean, yeah.

Yousefzadeh: I do not underestimate my power to shut people up.

Jackson: Does this go back to the whole women thing from the beginning of the show, Pej?

Yousefzadeh: No. No.

Domenech: That isn’t the flame?

Yousefzadeh: You shouldn’t underestimate their power to shut me up.

Domenech: Oh, nice.

Yousefzadeh: But the other thing I’d say is this, you know, I agree with Ben that these aren’t, Tea Party Republican’s are not country club Republicans. They’re not country club anything. But they are people who have had an education, who respect an education, and who are smart, and who respect smarts. And so the point I want to make is this, in 2008 Mitt Romney went to anyone and everyone who did not know what YouTube was and said I am the next incarnation of Ronald Reagan.

Now he’s coming out and saying, I’m the guy who can turn the economy around. And I’m not going to talk to you about the social conservative aspect of life, because that’s not really within my wheelhouse, but I’m the guy who can turn the economy around. And I think he sees an opportunity, Ben, I think he sees that, you know, these Tea Party folks are not the, you know, missing teeth, extra chromosome, not very bright people that the Democrats and MSNBC like to portray them as being. I think that they, he sees that they are people who, if they are not country club elites, at the very least respect smarts and expertise, and he feels as though he can make a pitch to them. Now, whether he’s enough of a, you know, beer kind of guy as opposed to a wine kind of guy in order to make the sale, remains to be seen.

Domenech: I’m a Tequila kind of guy, myself.

Yousefzadeh: But let’s bear in mind a couple things. The Republican party has a time honored tradition of giving the nomination to the guy who got second place the last time. And so that really helps Romney. That plus his name recognition, plus the fact that he’s been around the track before, plus the fact that he can sell finance, et cetera, et cetera. So, he comes in with a built in advantage. Now, if he can appeal to the Tea Party concern about the state of the economy and then, you know, sort of tell them that look, I’m not one of these people who underestimates you. I’m not Chris Matthews. I’m not Keith Olberman. I’m not Rachel. I’m not Barack Obama who looks down upon you. I think you guys are smart and I think you guys have the right ideas. And I have the credentials to deliver on the issues you’re concerned about, I think he can form a natural alliance.

And I think he can actually split, potentially, the Tea Party from Bachman and from Palin who may very well butt heads with the Tea Party on the issue of credentials. Again, you know, it’s going to depend in large part upon whether Romney can make the sale. But you know, Michele Bachman had her coming out speech for her campaign in Waterloo, Iowa and that she boosted it was both her hometown and the hometown of John Wayne. Well, no. It wasn’t the hometown of John Wayne. It was the hometown of John Wayne Gacy. There’s a difference.

And I think there may be a number of Tea Party people who say gosh, you know, if she keeps making these gaffs and being educated, and smart, and up to, up on current events, they probably know she’s made a few, we don’t know if we can really support somebody who is going to go out and who is going to flounder in the general election campaign because they’re just not going to be taken seriously. I mean, if I were a Romney campaign strategist, that would be my thinking. That would be part of my memo to the candidate. That would be what I –

Domenech: But Pejman, here’s the problem. One, Romney is a gaff machine himself in terms of his past.

Yousefzadeh: Oh, sure. Sure.

Domenech: And here is the other element of this, the real question I think here is about trend lines. It’s about momentum. It’s about who appeals most to the people who are going to show up at these early primaries, like it always is. I think that, you know, in Iowa it’s going to be a very tough slog for anyone to beat Bachman, unless somebody else gets into the race. And I think that that’s, you know, certainly a possibility. But in terms of Bachman’s, you know, current lead on it, you know, Romney has already said that he’s not really going to pour a lot of resources into Iowa. He’s probably just going to, you know, compete within New Hampshire.

I think that there’s sort of an inside straight draw for somebody like Bachman to, you know, be the tallest midget in Iowa and then go on and, you know, I think in South Carolina we’ve already seen that they do not take very kindly to Mitt Romney. When it comes to sort of the hash out on this thing, you know, it’s hard to see how a guy like Romney can so much change his brand, in the next six months or so, that he can appeal to a lot of people who have written him off over the past several years because of his past policies. This is a guy who hasn’t won an election in a long time.

(End of Podcast)

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