I'm late this week to the horserace for a reason. I wanted to get a sense of the buzz in New Orleans at the Republican Leadership Conference before delving in.The event is still going on, though I am headed up to Minneapolis, MN now for Right Online where more Presidential candidates will be.This week's big winners are obvious: Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney. But there is more to it than that. I'm hearing Bachmann's rise is really hurting one of the other candidates significantly. And then there is Rick Perry.
The Congresswoman wins the week. She is going to be able to turn her success this week into a fundraising blitz. In New Orleans, everyone is talking about Bachmann. A good number of people are talking about her as if she is the alternative to Mitt Romney. That's a good sign for her. But it also means the other candidates will be gearing up soon to pile on. That might actually help her even more with fundraising.
Cain is collapsing I'm afraid. He still has a good bit of loyalty and his polling is going up, but Michele Bachmann's rise is directly impacting him. I'm hearing from a few folks in South Carolina that any signs of momentum and grassroots support Cain had there is shifting to Bachmann. He's going to need to find some ways to utilize New Media to get his message out and show he is substantive on policy.
Gingrich's campaign is done. It has gotten so bad, the campaign is now lashing out at the staffers who left and pointing out that Newt still has staff. The problem is a number of the staffers who left had been long time loyal aides and supporters of Gingrich. That men who stayed after his fall from grace in 1998 chose to leave now is a bad sign.His great debate performance proves nothing on the issue of his viability. We all already knew he was a good speaker and debater. The problem is his management skills and debates do not go to that. As an example? He is attacking his former staffers for leaving $13,000.00 in the office in Atlanta instead of sending it to Washington. But his campaign is supposed to be headquartered in Atlanta. Why then is the Atlanta office supposed to mail its checks to Washington instead of depositing them in Atlanta?Little stuff like that suggests there is more than a bit of facade at work.
I meant a number of people committed to Huntsman in New Orleans. The problem, as I see it, is that all those who are committed to Huntsman and were there, were there through their friendships and relationships with each other. I found very few people outside this band of relatives and friends who knew anything about him other than his global warming initiative and his work for Obama.
Gary John is a nonstarter.
Ron Paul had a stellar debate performance Monday night, his staff seems much more competent this cycle, and he was well received in New Orleans yesterday when people saw him. He won't be the nominee, but he could be influential.
Here's what I wrote from my Human Events column this week and it is appropriate here:
First, had the answer come at the end of the debate and not the beginning, it would not have clouded the rest of his performance. He gave substantial and solid answers on questions about unionization, job creation, life, and even events in Yemen. But his hesitation lingered.Second, by being unwilling to go on and engage, he stepped further away from the vacuum in the race being caused by no clear anti-Romney candidate. Instead of filling the void, he made it worse.Third, this is the first real unforced error from an otherwise relatively flawless campaign effort. Those who say this has doomed Pawlenty are really in search of a salacious headline more than they are the truth. There are seven months to go until Iowa. While it hurt Pawlenty, it was not fatal.There is, however, one caveat. By not filling the void as the clear anti-Romney candidate on Monday, Pawlenty leaves the door wide open for Rick Perry to get in and become that candidate. That could be Pawlenty’s undoing.
He's not in, but there are growing signs he may be getting in. Should he, Tim Pawlenty will probably go away. Already in some surveys, Perry is out polling Pawlenty. Perry will also be a big threat to Michele Bachmann. Should he get in, I think some of the existing candidates will fall out sooner than if Perry sits out.
He's the front runner for a reason — he's winning. He didn't just win the Monday debate by default, he actually won it with just one moment of defensiveness on Afghanistan.Right now there is nothing to stop MItt Romney except himself. Given the number of unforced errors he has made — or what I perceive to be errors, e.g. global warming and Romneycare defense — and Al Gore saying nice things about him, he could be in trouble. I think his "I'm unemployed" bit was a bit dumb, but the people he said it too seemed to take it with the humor it was intended and it is nice to see him being self-deprecating.
Michele Bachmann ends the Rick Santorum run. He lookd out of his league on stage Monday night. She overshadowed him and I don't see how he gains stature.