AZ for Mitt

A blog dedicated to informing Arizonans about Mitt Romney and the campaign for the 2008 presidential nomination.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

There are rumblings in the AZ GOP over McCain, as illustrated by a recent article in the Arizona Republic. Here is the opening:

It was a small-time election, but it exposed a widening rift inside the Arizona Republican Party that has bitterly divided moderates and social conservatives and threatens to embarrass U.S. Sen. John McCain in his expected run for president.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Romney's PAC--The Commonwealth--announced some more signings during this free agent frenzy leading into 2007:

Two top economists and President Bush’s tax cut architects have agreed to join Governor Mitt Romney’s Commonwealth PAC the organization announced today. Glenn Hubbard and Greg Mankiw will act as co-chairs of the PAC’s Economic Advisory Council. Additionally, Cesar Conda has agreed to be a Senior Economic Advisor for the PAC.

“Glenn Hubbard and Greg Mankiw are both brilliant economists,” Romney said. “Cesar Conda also brings a wealth of expertise in economic policy development and implementation. One of the messages voters sent to Washington Republicans during this last election cycle was to stop spending like Democrats. In addition, history has shown us time and again that allowing the American people to keep more of their hard-earned money through tax cuts spurs economic growth. Greg, Glenn and Cesar share my views of low taxes and limited government and together we will work to help the Republican Party return to those conservative principles. I’m glad they have joined the team.”

Also, Romney is gearing up for South Carolina with another hire:

Governor Mitt Romney’s Commonwealth PAC today announced that long-time South Carolina political strategist J. Warren Tompkins, III has joined the PAC in a Senior Advisor for the Southeast region.

“Few people know the Southeastern political landscape better than Warren Tompkins,” Romney said. “I am pleased that he has joined our team. For nearly 20 years he has been an influence in South Carolina and the region.”

One can find financial data on John McCain Many bloggers contend (and I agree) that the mainstream media are very friendly to and gentle in their treatment of the Arizona senator. It is interesting that the following communications or media-related companies are among the top ten all-time contributors to McCain:

AT&T (1)
Viacom (3)
Qwest (4)
BellSouth (6)
Verizon (7)
Time Warner (8)
Microsoft (9)

It is also interesting to note that McCain's fortune is estimated at somewhere between 25 and 38 million dollars! He ran a populist campaign against Bush in 2000 with an appeal to the common voter, but Bush's fortune is listed at "only" 8 to 21 million dollars.

And while Hillary Clinton is ranked as the 14th wealthiest senator, McCain comes in at 7th, one spot richer than Ted Kennedy.

Certainly no amount of money could adequately compensate Sen. McCain for his service to his country during Vietnam, but he does receive an annual pension from the Navy for $54,000. One wonders, given his assests (and the fact he made a quarter of a million dollars last year from his books), does he really need that taxpayer-provided money?

Gov. Romney, also quite wealthy, does not accept his $135,000 yearly salary as governor.

CNN reports another high-ranking GOP staffer is joining Romney's team:

Kevin Madden, press secretary for House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), is leaving Capitol Hill to join Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's (R) exploratory committee for a 2008 presidential bid.

I haven't even heard that Romney has announced an exploratory committee, so either CNN has some inside info, or they are making an assumption, though a relatively safe one.

McCain continues his double-talk. CNN has him praising Bill First,

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, praised outgoing Majority Leader Bill Frist's Senate career Wednesday, shortly after the Tennessee Republican announced he would forego the 2008 presidential race. "We are lucky to have had Dr. Frist as a principled leader, a true humanitarian and a respected colleague who worked every day to advance the causes most important to our nation," McCain said. "His commitment to making America a safer place will be long remembered."

while The Hill has him bashing GOP leaders and teeming with Democrats under the title, "McCain Forces Frist Retreat."

Angry over what he considers a breach of Senate courtesy by GOP leaders, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has teamed with Democrats and centrist Republicans to force the leaders to back down on an effort to undermine fundraising limits he helped make law in 2002.With assurance from Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that he would have the Democrats’ support, McCain confronted GOP leaders in private yesterday at the Senate Republican Caucus luncheon.

Few Republican senators have done more to undermine and circumvent Frist's leadership than John McCain.

Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the outgoing senate majority leader, has announced he will not run for president in 2008 according to MSNBC:

In a written statement released today, Frist says, "In the Bible, God tells us for everything there is a season, and for me, for now, this season of being an elected official has come to a close. I do not intend to run for president in 2008."

This is good news for Romney as one less conservative candidate who could potentially siphon off voters, staffers, and contributions is now out of the picture, allowing Romney to gain a greater share of the conservative vote of the GOP. Accordingly, this is not good news for McCain (or Rudy) who hope to have the conservative element of the party fragmented among various candidates. Now Frist's staff and the big donors he had signed on will be up for grabs.

Evangelical blogger Hugh Hewitt, a law professor at Chapman University and a noted conservative blogger, had this to say recently to a group of evangelical theologians as reported in the Associated Baptist Press:

He cautioned against disparaging or inappropriate comments about Romney's faith. Every theological or philosophical argument evangelicals use against a Mormon candidate or Mormon theology will eventually be used against evangelicals, he said.

"Many in this room in the next year to year-and-a-half will be asked by students and the media, 'What do you think about Mitt Romney?'" he said, adding that once "secular absolutists" get them to talk about theology, they open themselves to attack. "If we begin to ask Mitt Romney about which [Morman] practices and doctrines he subscribes to, it cannot be capped. It will not be stopped."

According to Hewitt, most people have three main objections to Romney's presence, should he win the election: that Mormon leaders in Salt Lake City will control the White House, that a Mormon president will energize Mormon missionaries around the globe, and that it's "irrational" to be a Mormon.

All three concerns, Hewitt said, are unfounded. And if people see evangelicals bashing Mormons for their unique beliefs, the thinking goes, secular leaders will turn their own argument against evangelicals seeking the presidency.

"They do not want us in politics and in the public square because they believe us widely to be irrational," he said. "It would be tragic to me that in the course of rushing off to do battle with Mormon theology, you attract our common opponent," the secular absolutists.

Hewitt knows his history. Legal historian Sarah Barringer Gordon noted the eventual ramifications to Evangelical Protestantism the last time they attacked the LDS Church en masse--the antipolygamy period of the late 19th century--in her book, "The Mormon Question: Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth Century America" (p. 233):

"In the twentieth century, however, secular rationality and disestablishment undermined many of the constitutional principles antipolygamists believed in and fought for. The distinction in constitutional law between "belief" and "action," once so useful in the prosecution of polygamists, was turned against believing Protestants in the twentieth century. The Word was buffeted: school prayer and Bible reading have formally been excised from public education; questions of the origins of human life challenge the "literal" truth of Genesis and have profoundly affected public education. Abortion, parochial school funding, and many more questions divide twenty-first century Christians. Marriage, now, is impermanent everywhere as a matter of law. "Consent" divorce is the rule. Sunday closing laws are a distant memory. "Unlawful cohabitation" laws are unenforced. Blasphemy is no longer prosecuted. Same-sex commitment ceremonies are performed by Christian clergy...Frequently, conservative Christians find their faith exists in tension with the secular rationality tht looked like a safe harbor in the nineteenth century. Many find themselves agreeing with Mormons more often than they disagree, especially on questions of "family values."

Thursday, November 23, 2006

An interesting point made by this Channel 12 newswoman is taking into account the spouses of candidates for president. Here are some excerpts:

"John McCain has been effectively running for the 2008 Presidency for a long time now," Eachern says.

But, is Cindy McCain ready? In 2000, critics attacked her and political cartoons surfaced highlighting her past drug addiction to prescription pain meds. The same year, she's on a national morning TV show defending herself.

"What happened to me is actually a very dark period in my life and not something that I would ever, ever want to repeat, however I'm a better person and I know a better parent for having been through it," Cindy McCain says.

But, with the business of politics, it's likely the past will resurface. "When you run for public office you have no privacy, I mean the closet is wide open," Arizona voter Freda Carlson says. Voters alike say politics can be ugly.

Here is an excerpt from a letter to the editor of the Arizona Republic:

So Sen. John McCain is eyeing a 2008 presidential bid. The question remains: Does John McCain still matter? Sure he has iconic status here in Arizona but, like an aging rock star, he has more nostalgic appeal than actually being relevant.

And another letter in its entirety:

Arizona Sen. John McCain will be 72 if he is elected president in 2008. In our country's history of 40 presidents, six were in their 40s, 27 were in their 50s and 10 were in their 60s the first time they took office. We have never had a president elected in his 70s. John McCain is too old for this tough job.

Both valid points (though the last writer should have clarified that we have never had a president elected to his first term in his 70s).

Here are some excerpts from a blog post from someone who worked on Romney's senate campaign in 1994:

Since 1994, I’ve had the chance to meet with any number of politicians. I can honestly say that the only politician who has truly impressed me is Mitt Romney.

Romney has won the hearts of people like Kathryn Lopez because he is a singularly impressive individual. Almost all politicians can talk the proverbial buffalo off the proverbial nickel; as a class, politicians excel at delivering lengthy extemporaneous speeches that offer virtually nothing in terms of substantive content. After a while, you discover that the reason our politicians shy away from substantive content is that they often don’t know what they’re talking about and thus must do so out of necessity.

Romney’s not like that. He built an extremely successful business career on mastering the intricacies of under-valued opportunities and then making the right play. In other words, this is a man who by discipline and by training gathers information, figures out the shot and then executes. To tie this into a few of my blog posts of the last week, if any wisenheimer blogger asked Romney if he had read any books on jihad and Islamic terrorism, not only am I confident that Romney would be able to provide actual book titles, he would also be able to deliver comprehensive summaries on the books he mentioned.

In 1994 when Romney ran against Ted Kennedy, Kennedy was vulnerable. Kennedy’s Palm Beach disgrace was still fresh in the minds of Massachusetts voters and it appeared that Ted’s act was finally growing tired. The Senator had become a bloated, barely recognizable version of the svelte Kennedy family models of old, and ’94 was shaping up as a huge year for the GOP. Adding to Kennedy’s woes was the fact that for the first time in 30 years, he actually was facing serious competition for his seat.

So the Kennedy attack machine jumped into overdrive seeking out dirt on Romney. The family’s retainees who worked at the Boston Globe were activated and spent several months revealing the shocking fact that Mitt Romney was a Mormon. To shed light on this exotic faith, the Globe talked to several theological experts like Representative Joseph Kennedy, the Senator’s nephew.

But beyond discovering Romney’s religion, the Kennedy opposition research team found a bare cupboard. The most damaging detail of Romney’s past concerned a company in Indiana that Romney’s firm had purchased. After the purchase, Romney’s company fired several of the Indiana company’s employees. The Kennedy campaign brought the fired workers to Massachusetts and labeled them “The Romney Truth Squad.”
It’s revealing that this was all the Kennedy campaign could come up with. It also tells you about the kind of “skeletons” Mitt Romney has in his closet.

To wit, there aren’t any.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A CNN article posted today highlights Romney's preparation for a White House run. Here are some key excerpts:

"I have not seen an individual approach this situation with a greater degree of structure or by compiling such a vast database for making it, both on the personal and political sides," said Tom Rath, a veteran New Hampshire political operative who has advised former Republican candidates such as Bob Dole, George H.W. Bush, Lamar Alexander and George W. Bush.

The Rev. Jerry Falwell, an evangelical who founded the Moral Majority, said he expects Christian conservatives will focus more on Romney's personal morality and his current views than his past statements or his faith.

"We're not trying to find a Sunday school teacher in chief; we're trying to find a commander in chief," said Falwell, who traveled to Massachusetts last month to meet with Romney. Also attending the meeting were Franklin Graham, Gary Bauer, Lou Sheldon, Richard Land and other conservative social and religious leaders.

"Where he goes to church will not be a factor; how he lives his life will be," said Falwell.

Romney's political action committee, the Commonwealth PAC, raised $8.75 million and gave away $1.3 million in the most recent election cycle -- virtually the same dispensed by McCain's much older "Straight Talk America" committee.

The governor's top political advisers, meanwhile, tend to be Bush-heavy. They include Ron Kaufman, the former White House political director under President George H.W. Bush; Alex Castellanos, a media consultant for President George W. Bush; Jan van Lohuizen, a pollster for the president and Republican National Committee, and Alex Gage, a "microtargeting" expert who helped Bush pinpoint pockets of support in the 2004 presidential campaign.

U.S. Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT) recently commented on the potential matchup of Romney vs. McCain:

The 2006 election bodes well for presidential hopeful Mitt Romney - the Mormon Republican Governor of Massachusetts seeking his party's nomination for ‘08. At least, the buzz among Republicans in the nation's capitol, says Utah Senator Bob Bennett.

"The voters indicated they wanted new faces," says Bennett. "Romney is a new face. McCain has been around for a quarter of a century. This may be unfair, but it's true. Romney is ten years younger than John McCain and looks 15 or 20 years younger."

If he wins, Bennett notes that Arizona Senator John McCain would be the oldest elected president in U.S. history.

"I'm not sure that should matter, but it may very well be an issue," says Bennett. "I'm hearing people around the country saying John McCain looks a little old and tired."

Recently Romney explained some of the differences between himself and the other two leading GOP contenders for the 2008 nomination:

In an interview with The Examiner, Romney described himself as more conservative than Republican rivals McCain, R-Ariz., and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on a variety of issues. “We’re in a different place on immigration; we’re in a different place on campaign reform; we’re in a different place on same–sex marriage; we’re in a different place on the president’s policy on interrogation of detainees,” Romney said.

I’m a conservative Republican, there’s no question about that,” he said. “I’m at a different place than the other two.”