AZ for Mitt

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

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Here is an e-mail sent to the Elect Romney in 2008 blog from a family visiting Iowa who ran into some of the candidates campaigning today:

Alexa was just on FOX News with Romney!!! Attached are a couple of photos from today. Celeste interrupted Mitt’s speech when he mentioned his time at the Olympics with a “whooowoow”. He stopped and asked if she was there and she pointed to the girls and said, “They were in the closing ceremonies”. The Salt Lake Tribune DC correspondent came and interviewed them while he was working the voters/crowd.

A far cry from our visit to the Giuliani camp. We were ushered with all the other voters to the back of his offices while the press all were at the front. Giuliani’s staff assured all of us that Rudy would visit every room to shake hands and say HI. Well, needless to say he entered through the rear, where we were, rushed through the crowd to the front and only because I shoved my hand out for him to shake did I get his attention. When he was done speaking to the media, we were ushered out of the office because, “Rudy has to do an interview”. So it is clear that Rudy’s strategy is to play to the media and not his voting public. A pre-cursor of what will happen if elected broken promises!

Having been with all three Republican candidates over the past two days, here’s my take…
Huckabee, personable, sincere and caring. Does not necessarily feel or look like a strong leader in person. While I think he is a good guy, what I didn’t see, feel and hear was anything that leads me to believe would be an effective leader of our country.

Giuliani, arrogant, self serving and political. He didn’t connect with anyone at this campaign headquarters (especially the voting public there to see him). He only wanted to play to the media. Even a simple “promise” that he would visit and shake everyone’s hands was broken in exchange for a media interview. Just a foreshadowing of what would come if elected. Not an impressive man after having been in his presence.

Romney, honest, direct, amicable and engaging. He speaks from his heart while still talking about what the future holds and needs to be. His remarks and content of the same show vision and leadership. His past experience in the business world coupled with his leadership experiences in Massachusetts come alive when he speaks. He took time to engage his supporters/public and was very genuine with each person he addressed. He has an “air” of leadership and confidence that I didn’t see in his peer republicans.

While I will say I was partial to Romney before the past two days, it is quite clear that after being with all three the past two days, Romney has and possesses leadership qualities that the others don’t. He can be trusted and while he may not have all the answers today, his past experience is indicative of figuring out solutions to domestic and global issues.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Does Huckabee have a problem telling the straight truth, or does he just get easily confused?

Bolton denies he is a Huckabee adviser
By: Lisa Lerer Dec 28, 2007 05:04 PM EST

In recent days, Mike Huckabee has tried to answer long-standing questions about who is on his foreign policy team. On Friday morning, he listed former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton as someone with whom he either has “spoken or will continue to speak.”

At a Thursday evening press conference, Huckabee said, "I've corresponded with John Bolton, who's agreed to work with us on developing foreign policy.”

Bolton, however, has a different view. “I’d be happy to speak with Huckabee, but I haven’t spoken with him yet,” said Bolton, now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington. “I’m not an official or unofficial adviser to anyone,” said Bolton, who mentioned he’d had conversations with other Republican candidates but refused to name any names.

Asked to explain Bolton’s comments, Huckabee aides said the former Arkansas governor had e-mailed with Bolton...

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Judicial Watch, a non-profit, non-partisan organization announced their annual list of the 10 most corrupt politicians in America. Guess who made the list?

5. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY): Giuliani came under fire in late 2007 after it was discovered the former New York mayor’s office “billed obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons…” ABC News also reported that Giuliani provided Nathan with a police vehicle and a city driver at taxpayer expense. All of this news came on the heels of the federal indictment on corruption charges of Giuliani’s former Police Chief and business partner Bernard Kerik, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to accepting a $165,000 bribe in the form of renovations to his Bronx apartment from a construction company attempting to land city contracts.

6. Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR): Governor Huckabee enjoyed a meteoric rise in the polls in December 2007, which prompted a more thorough review of his ethics record. According to The Associated Press: “[Huckabee’s] career has also been colored by 14 ethics complaints and a volley of questions about his integrity, ranging from his management of campaign cash to his use of a nonprofit organization to subsidize his income to his destruction of state computer files on his way out of the governor’s office.” And what was Governor Huckabee’s response to these ethics allegations? Rather than cooperating with investigators, Huckabee sued the state ethics commission twice and attempted to shut the ethics process down.

The only other elected Republican official to make this elite group was Larry Craig. Now that's company.

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Misled in New Hampshire
By the Editors (National Review)

John McCain’s aides complain that Mitt Romney is running a negative campaign. Those same aides have been attacking Romney themselves, but for the most part they can outsource the negativism to their friends in the press — starting with the Union Leader, a prominent conservative newspaper in New Hampshire that has endorsed him. (We have endorsed Romney.)

The Union Leader’s advocacy of John McCain has become so fierce and lopsided that it has practically transformed itself into a pro-McCain 527 organization. It has not formalized the arrangement, which is lucky for it: If it had, McCain would, on his campaign-finance principles, have to try to shut it down.

There is a lot to like about Senator McCain, and we do not fault the Union Leader for endorsing him. We do fault its double standards. The newspaper counts it as a damnable “flip-flop” every time Romney has changed his position or even his emphasis. McCain can switch his views on the very same issues without a disparaging word from the Union Leader.

Take taxes. Romney, as governor of Massachusetts, stayed neutral in the battle over President Bush’s 2003 tax cuts. We wish he had spoken up in their favor. Senator McCain, alas, was not silent: He voted against the tax cuts, as he had voted against the 2001 tax cuts. He flip-flopped on estate taxes, defending them after having voted to get rid of them. As he geared up to run for president this time around, however, McCain became a born-again supply-sider. Now he wants to keep the tax cuts he originally opposed.

The Union Leader has blasted Romney for changing his mind on immigration. It accused him of lying, too, for saying that McCain wanted to let illegal immigrants earn Social Security benefits while working here illegally. But Romney was right. McCain has voted to let illegal immigrants who meet certain conditions become citizens and then receive benefits for their prior illegal work. Few Senate Republicans joined him.

We won’t throw around the word “lie” quite as recklessly as the Union Leader, but its candidate first argued for an “amnesty” and then spent months claiming that his immigration bill did not amount to one. And if flip-flopping on immigration is a crime, McCain can be charged with it, too. He himself says that he has changed his position on the issue. One of the principal points at issue in the debate over his bill was whether we should try “enforcement first.” Since the bill’s collapse, McCain has said that he now understands that we should. If that is not a flip-flop, it is only because his claims of a change of heart are insincere. (The liberal newspapers that have endorsed him seem to think so.)

Some of Romney’s critics allow that all politicians change their positions over time, but say that Romney stands out for changing his very political identity. Supposedly he ran as a moderate technocrat in Massachusetts, but is running as a culture warrior in the Republican primaries. We think both halves of this characterization are overstated, but in any case it is not a critique that John McCain’s supporters can credibly make. McCain was a reliably conservative legislator for 15 years. Then he moved left for three years, so much so that liberals began urging him to change parties. Then he zigged back to the right.

For us, the most important question about a flip-flop is whether the movement is in the right direction. We are glad that Romney has changed his mind about abortion and McCain has changed his about taxes, although we prefer Romney’s open admission that he was wrong in the past to McCain’s evasiveness. We hope McCain comes around some more on immigration, and campaign-finance reform, and a lot of other issues — and we will not attack him as a flip-flopper if he does. Voters who hold flip-flops against politicians, however, should be warned: McCain is every bit as much of one as Romney is, and all the bile of New Hampshire’s editorialists cannot change the fact.

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Stem cell, contraception groups paid Huck
By: Kenneth P. Vogel Dec 28, 2007 06:19 AM EST

Mike Huckabee last year accepted $52,000 in speaking fees from a bio-tech giant that wants to research human embryonic stem cells, a non-profit working to expand access to the morning after pill and a group pushing to study whether tightening gun control laws will reduce violence.

Huckabee opposes embryonic stem cell research, emergency contraception and stricter gun laws – all of which rank high on the list of deal-breakers for many of the religious conservatives whose support he’s ridden to the top of the Republican presidential field. The payments – from drug-maker Novo Nordisk, which engages in stem cell research, the Public Health Institute, which works to expand access to “morning after” contraception and Grant Makers in Health, which is seeking to steer funding to studies of gun violence – highlight the delicate line Huckabee has walked on the profitable speaking circuit.

The former Arkansas governor has used appearances before churches, universities and other groups to both expand and capitalize on his reputation as a leader in conservative Christian and public health circles.

But along the way, he’s accepted honoraria from public health interests that sometimes support causes anathema to the GOP right. Huckabee “isn’t afraid to speak to people who don’t agree with his message or personal philosophy,” said his spokeswoman Kirsten Fedewa.
She added, though, that Huckabee sticks to “limited, focused and non-political” topics such as “preventive health care or similar issues.”

That answer may not satisfy some social conservatives, said Bill Lauderback, executive vice president of the American Conservative Union.

“It raises questions as to his philosophical positions,” Lauderback asserted, “if he is accepting very lucrative speaking fees from special interest groups who have a markedly different perspective on certain social issues from what he is projecting as a candidate.” The speaking and book circuits helped Huckabee, whose salary during his decade as governor never topped $79,000, make ends meet – both before and after he left the governor's mansion early this year.

According to state and federal public records, he pulled in more than $405,000 since 2004 in honoraria, books sales, consulting and outside income through 12 Stops, Inc. a company set up that year to manage his private sector business. It’s not hard to see why his story appeals to groups and companies in the public health arena.

An ordained Baptist minister who dropped more than 100 pounds after being diagnosed with Type II diabetes, Huckabee pushed to expand health care access and incentivize healthy living in Arkansas. Novo Nordisk, which touts itself as a world leader in diabetes care, in May announced it was giving away 35,000 Spanish-language copies of Huckabee’s book, “Quit Digging Your Grave With A Knife and Fork: A 12-Stop Program to End Bad Habits and Begin a Healthy Lifestyle.”

Two months earlier, Huckabee received a total of $35,000 in two payments from the company, according to a personal financial disclosure statement he filed with the Federal Election Commission.

On its website, the company calls human embryonic stem cell research “essential” to addressing diseases including diabetes and Parkinson's.

But it adds it will only use human embryonic stem cells “derived from spare embryos from (in vitro fertilization) treatment that are obtained with freely given informed consent” and it says it does not support “the creation of human embryos solely for research purposes.” Huckabee is “opposed to research on embryonic stem cells,” according to his website.

Asked about the apparent contradiction, Novo Nordisk spokesman Sean Clements said the company and Huckabee “share the same passion for changing diabetes for the nearly 21 million Americans with the disease.”

The company’s connection to the research was too much for Mitt Romney, who also opposes most embryonic stem cell research.
Unbeknownst to him, he had between $100,000 and $250,000 in stock in Novo Nordisk in a blind trust that was made public this summer.
At the time, Romney said the trust manager would “endeavor to make my investments conform to my positions.”

The California-based Public Health Institute, a non-profit that paid Huckabee $13,000 for a January speech, works on a range of public health issues.
hey include expanding access to emergency contraception – also known as the morning-after pill – in the U.S. and abroad. The institute did not return telephone calls and emails. But its website asserts “The best way to make change happen is to bring together people and institutions with common interests and, sometimes, different points of view.”

Huckabee this year received $4,000 from the D.C.-based non-profit group, Grant Makers in Health. It helps foundations evaluate grant proposals in a range of areas, such as expanding healthcare access for immigrants, including illegal immigrants, and studying the impacts of gun-control laws on violence – hardly causes celebre among conservative activists. Grant Makers did not respond to requests for comment. Other entities that paid Huckabee seem more closely aligned with his world view.

He reported receiving nearly $11,000 from book sales and honoraria from five churches and from conservative Liberty University (Huckabee says he donated payments from the churches). Castle Partners, a group that invests in health and fitness companies, paid him $15,000 to speak last year, while the Cooper Institute, an exercise research group on whose board Huckabee once sat, paid him more than $3,000 in honoraria and book sales. The International Music Products Association, which this year gave the guitar-playing Huckabee its “Music for Life Award” for commitment to music education, also paid him $40,000 in consulting fees for a contract that ran through September.

As for book sales, the McBride Agency paid him nearly $150,000 in book royalties, while a political committee he controlled, Hope for America, paid him nearly $8,000 for books.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

From John Podhoretz:

The horrifying assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan this morning comes only one week before the Iowa caucuses and 12 days before New Hampshire. It is a sobering and frightening reminder of the challenges and threats and dangers posed to the United States by radical Islam, the nature of the struggle being waged against the effort to extend democratic freedoms in the Muslim world, and the awful possibility of a nuclear Pakistan overrun by Islamofascists. This is what the next president will be compelled by circumstance to spend a plurality of his or her time on. This is what really matters, not the cross Mike Huckabee lit up behind his head in his Christmas ad.

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Hugh Hewitt attempts to jog New Hampshire's memory on Senator McCain:

John McCain needs to get ahold of the producers of Men In Black I and II quick. The only way Arizona's longtime thorn-in-the-side of the GOP can claim the Republican nomination is with a neuralyzer, the device the MIB agents use to selectively erase the memory of civilians who have seen the aliens among us at too close a range.

In fact, he's going to need a lot of them as there's a lot McCain has to hope Republicans forget as they head to the polls in Iowa, Wyoming, New Hampshire, Michigan and beyond.

First, they have to forget that the fundraising advantage the GOP built to counter the Dems' union juggernaut was overthrown by the McCain-Feingold campaign finance "reform," and done so in an unconstitutional fashion, proving not only McCain's indifference to the party's success but also to the idea of Free Speech. This bust of a bill also unleashed the 527s on the land, guaranteeing even more secretive and dirty pool politics. Senator McCain's signal legislative achievement turns out to be deeply flawed constitutionally and counterproductive of its announced goals.

Economic conservatives will also have to have their memories erased of Senator McCain's votes against the Bush tax cuts.

The neuralyzer will also have to get to the social conservatives and erase the memory of John McCain's votes against the Federal Marriage Amendment.

The biggest issues for many Republican voters center on immigration and border security. These voters will have to be persuaded to forget John McCain's ill-fated attempted jam down on immigration which McCain ally Lindsey Graham forced through the Judiciary Committee. Not remembering the bill is a bit of a big order since it was known as McCain-Kennedy and was widely understood by conservatives to be tantamount to amnesty.

National security conservatives will have to agree to set aside the fact that McCaiin's grandstanding on the issue of the treatment of unlawful combatants in September 2006 derailed the entire GOP's endgame agenda heading into the elections. The Senate leadership and the White House had agreed on a careful series of legislative propositions on the Gitmo detainees and on surveillance protocols for use when watching terrorists abroad communicating with their allies inside the U.S., an agenda which also included some crucial judicial nominations like the still stalled one of Peter Keisler to the D.C. Circuit of Appeals, an agenda which would have done much to recapture the sense of momentum the upper chamber and the GOP as a whole had lost and which would have focused the public on the war and the role of intelligence gathering in it. Senators McCain and Graham smashed up the entire plan and the Senate majority was erased a few weeks later.

And all conservatives will have to set aside their deep, deep anger over John McCain's Gang of 14 coup that ended the hopes of restoring decency, order and constitutional process to the judicial confirmation process.

Recall what had happened: Serial filibusters were staged by Dems against many Bush nominees throughout 2003 and 2004. The GOP and the president campaigned on the issue of the judges throughout the elections of 2004, and won a 55 seat Senate majority in part on the strength of the outrage on the issue. Majority Leader Frist set about organizing a strategy --the Constitutional Option or Nuclear Option-- which anticipated that a ruling would be requested from the Senate Chair --the Vice President-- on whether or not a filibuster could be used against a judicial nominee. At least 50 of the GOP's 55 senators were pledged to support the chair. A crucial and long-lasting victory would have been won and a principle established.
Days before the vote and the end of the filibusters, John McCain engineered a deal with six other Republicans and seven Democrats which threw some fine nominees under the bus in exchange for a temporary abandonment by Democrats of filibusters against some Bush nominees. The shock and outrage at McCain among conservatives at this awful deal was of a intensity that has rarely been matched. John McCain in effect undid the vote of 2004, compromised away an issue he had not been asked to lead on and on which millions of Republican voters had voted and for which they had contributed. Millions of Republicans care deeply about judges. John McCain did not. He could not allow Majority Leader Frist his victory, but in sabotaging Frist, he sunk his own candidacy. The one issue on which all three core GOP constituencies agree is the importance of originalists on the bench. It was obvious amid the wreckage brought about by the Gang of 14 that John McCain didn't care about the courts. He cared about John McCain.

The neuralyzer will have to be set to be careful not to obscure the memory of John McCain's heroic service and painful sacrifices during his long imprisonment, and it will have to leave the memory of Senator McCain's steadfast support for victory in the war. He is truly a great American.

But he is a lousy senator when it comes to legislation and priorities, and a terrible Republican when it comes to the party's agenda.

The independents and the newspapers of New Hampshire love the idea of a McCain candidacy. Some are giving a last salute to McCain for his wartime heroism. Others are expressly attempting to stop Mitt Romney's momentum for the reason that the same newspaper tried to stop Ronald Reagan in 1980 --Romney has the best chance in November.

But it is the Republican nomination McCain is seeking, not the applause of the MSM and independents. A Republican nomination he won't be getting.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Romney Is the Real Deal
Wednesday, December 26, 2007 7:53 AM
By: Ronald Kessler (of Newsmax)

Last April, Newsmax magazine ran a cover story headlined, “Romney to the Rescue: Romney’s Got the Right Stuff for 2008.”

Based on interviews I conducted with Mitt Romney and his friends, family, and aides, as well as with critics and neutral observers, the profile depicted him as a remarkably successful businessman and conservative governor with impeccable character.
Since the Newsmax article appeared nothing has changed.

No one has revealed that Romney appointed a close friend as police chief who has since been indicted for dealings involving figures with ties to the Mafia, as is the case with Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani did this even though he was warned about red flags in the candidate's background.

There have been no revelations that Romney commuted or pardoned 1,033 criminals, including 12 murderers, as did Mike Huckabee. To the contrary, Romney granted no commutations or pardons as governor. Nor did Romney raise taxes. In contrast, by the end of his 10-year tenure, Huckabee was responsible for a 37 percent hike in the sales tax in Arkansas. Spending increased by 65 percent — three times the rate of inflation.

Huckabee joined Democrats in criticizing the Republican Party for tilting its tax policies “toward the people at the top end of the economic scale.” He aligned himself with Democrats and showed an ignorance of the Bush administration’s extensive diplomatic efforts when he said the White House has an “arrogant bunker mentality.”

In contrast to his nice guy public image, when Huckabee asked in a New York Times Magazine interview, “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?” he belied nastiness and demonstrated what George Will has rightfully suggested is bigotry.

Huckabee’s serial ethics violations and misuse of funds to maintain the governor’s mansion in Arkansas for restaurant meals, pantyhose, and dry cleaning bills recalls Bill and Hillary Clinton’s improper appropriation of White House furniture and chinaware for their Chappaqua, N.Y, home.

Unlike Fred Thompson, Romney has not been revealed to have a lazy streak. Aside from being a key backer of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill, in his eight years in the Senate, Thompson was the primary sponsor of only four pieces of legislation, none of any significance.

On the campaign trail, the sour-looking Thompson has distinguished himself as someone who schedules two or three events a week and often cancels at the last minute.
A former CIA officer recalls what happened when Thompson and seven other members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee visited Pakistan in late 2002.

“The other senators, including John Edwards, attended the classified intelligence briefing,” the former officer says. “Thompson blew it off and spent a lot of time drinking and eating.”

Finally, Romney has not been found to have a vicious, out–of-control temper, as is true of John McCain. Nor did he twice oppose President Bush’s tax cuts — a key ingredient in the current the economic recovery — as did McCain.

“He [McCain] would disagree about something and then explode,” said former Sen. Bob Smith, a fellow Republican who served with McCain on various committees. “[There were] incidents of irrational behavior. We’ve all had incidents where we have gotten angry, but I’ve never seen anyone act like that.”

Over the years, McCain has alternately denied being prone to angry outbursts, admitted he struggles to control his anger, and claimed he only becomes angry over waste and abuse. But those who have experienced it say his anger does not erupt over policy issues or waste and abuse. Rather, his outbursts come when peers disagree with McCain or tell him they won’t support him.

Distorted Image
What has changed since the Newsmax article appeared is that the public’s perception of Romney has been distorted by the lens of media coverage and televised debates that focus on the trivial and irrelevant.

In selecting the CEO of a company, no one would hold a debate among candidates for the job. Instead, a search committee would look at character, which is a compass to future behavior, and competence as measured by candidates’ track records.

The media coverage and debates have focused on anything but. Instead, they have focused on atmospherics, promises that may or may not be kept, who is ahead in the polls, and how well the candidates tell jokes and respond to questions from a snowman on YouTube.

Half the stories and references to Romney in the media refer to his religion, which is irrelevant to how he would perform as president. Some critics say that Romney is not a Christian — leaving Jews out in the cold — or that his Mormon beliefs mean he is gullible. If so, Christians and Jews must be equally gullible. After all, they believe that Moses parted the Red Sea, that Jesus paid taxes with coins from a fish's mouth, and that a drop of oil burned for eight days.

Interestingly, polls show that those most likely to say they would not vote for a Mormon as president are also most likely to describe themselves as liberals, who profess to be tolerant.

With the help of the media, opponents have managed to portray Romney as a flip-flopper. The fact is that while most of the candidates have changed position on some issues, Romney has made a clear change on only one issue. While he has always been personally pro-life, like Ronald Reagan, he is a convert to the pro-life position when it comes to public policy. But as governor, Romney took pro-life stands, vetoing bills that authorized embryo farming, therapeutic cloning, and access to emergency contraception without parental consent.

That track record is far more important than his endorsement of Roe v. Wade more than a decade ago during a debate with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. In fact, even more than Reagan as governor of California, Romney’s actions as governor fit the conservative mold in the most liberal of liberal states.

While playing up the theology of Romney’s religion, the media have downplayed his record of success. Few stories mention that he is both a Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School graduate. Romney started Bain Capital, a venture capital firm, from almost nothing in 1984. In evaluating whether to invest in a company, Romney would conduct massive research and play devil’s advocate to flush out facts.

Relying on those techniques and data he developed about the true amount companies spend on office supplies, Romney decided to invest $600,000 in Staples before it opened its first store in Brighton, Mass. After the opening, he invested millions more.

“He made eight times his money in three years,” Tom Stemberg, founder of Staples, tells me.
Bain Capital now has assets of $40 billion, and Romney is worth close to $250 million. In addition, he established a trust valued at $100 million for his five sons.

Romney worked similar miracles when he took over the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, turning a $397 million budget shortfall into a $56 million profit. As Massachusetts governor, he turned a $3 billion deficit into a surplus without raising taxes. Along the way, Romney developed a health insurance plan designed to cover all Massachusetts residents. It’s now being copied by other states.

In training new agents, the FBI Academy at Quantico, Va., teaches that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Yet over and over, voters have ignored warning signs of poor character and have overlooked track records, only to regret it.

When he was a candidate for vice president, Richard Nixon became embroiled in an ethics issue when the New York Post revealed he had secretly accepted $18,000 from private contributors to defray his expenses. It should have come as no surprise that he would end up being driven from office by the scandal known as Watergate.

Given Bill Clinton’s flagrant, compulsive philandering while governor of Arkansas, it should have come as no surprise that he would turn out to be a spineless leader who was unwilling to deal effectively with al-Qaida but was willing to have sex with an intern in the Oval Office and to lie under oath.

When she was first lady, Hillary Clinton fired a White House usher because he returned a call from former first lady Barbara Bush seeking help with her laptop. After 9/11, she appeared on national TV and claimed that when the two airplanes hit the World Trade Center, her daughter Chelsea was going to jog at Battery Park near the towers, where she heard and saw the catastrophe unfold.

Clinton’s arrogance was so profound that she did not coordinate the story with Chelsea, who wrote an article for Talk in which she described where she was that day. According to Chelsea, she was on the other side of town in a friend’s apartment on Park Avenue South. She watched the events unfold on TV.

Only a fool would choose a friend, an electrician, a plumber, or an employee who displayed such nastiness and disregard for the truth. Yet Hillary Clinton is a serious contender for president.
True Conservative

In contrast, when told in July 1996 that the 14-year-old daughter of one of his partners had been missing in New York for three days, Romney closed down Bain Capital and asked its 30 partners and employees to fly to New York to try to find her. The girl had gone to a rave party and taken ecstasy.

“I don’t care how long it takes, we’re going to find her,” Romney told the girl’s father Robert Gay.

As a result of a massive campaign orchestrated by Romney, he was able to locate and rescue the girl when she was within a day of dying from the effects of an overdose.

If that episode — virtually ignored by the media — tells you a lot about the man and his character, so does his choice of a wife. In personality and intelligence, Ann Romney bears a striking resemblance to the widely admired subject of my book "Laura Bush: An Intimate Portrait of the First Lady."

Like Giuliani, Romney recognizes that no issue is more important than protecting the country and staying on the offense in the war on terror. But unlike Giuliani and the other leading Republican candidates, Romney’s record demonstrates that he is true to all three prongs of the conservative movement. Many conservatives don’t seem to get that. Instead, they keep looking for a new flavor of the month, only to be disappointed again and again when they learn more about their latest infatuation. Could Felons for Huckabee be next?

“One of the reasons I decided to endorse Romney is that I became convinced that he is the only candidate developing a credible ability to appeal to economic, social, and defense-oriented conservatives,” David Keene, president of the American Conservative Union, tells me.

Within the conservative movement, no one is more respected than Keene, who has headed the ACU since 1984. With one million members, the ACU runs the Conservative Political Action Committee’s (CPAC) annual conference in Washington and publishes an annual Rating of Congress — the gold standard for ideological assessments of members of Congress.

“Giuliani appeals to defense-oriented conservatives and can make a credible argument to some economic conservatives, but he can’t pass the giggle test with social conservatives — and doesn’t really try to do so,” says Keene. “Mike Huckabee appeals to social conservatives but has demonstrated virtually no appeal to those who focus on national defense and economic issues. Thompson may have had the potential to do what Romney is now doing, but hasn’t done so. John McCain is a hero to many national defense oriented conservatives, but he has little appeal in other quarters.”

Romney, on the other hand, has “developed into a candidate who has tried hard to appeal across these factions in the way Reagan did some decades ago,” Keene says. “Like all the others, he began with credibility issues, but as time has gone on, more and more conservatives are beginning to accept today’s Mitt Romney as the real deal rather than the caricature others are portraying.”

Reagan Candidate
That is why Romney has the support of conservatives as different as Robert Bork, Paul Weyrich, former Sen. Jim Talent, Michael Novak, and Kate O’Bierne and the editors of National Review, says Keene.

“This support will broaden and deepen as more and more members of the conservative coalition realize that Romney can hold the coalition together and advance their cause better than the other candidates,” predicts Keene.

The Newsmax cover story last April called Romney “The Reagan Candidate.”

That is as true today as it was then.


I found the comments of Huckabee's supporters in this latest piece from sadly off-base. They focus not on the Huckabee's political accomplishments or vision, but his personality and religion:

"I think I'm leaning toward Governor Huckabee," says Lori Brown, who works at an accounting firm in Sheldon. "I guess I'm not sure who else I really like. But he seems to be just a real guy. I'm a Christian, too, so I see eye-to-eye with him. At this point."

On Huckabee's final swing through Iowa before Christmas, many found him funny and charming, especially when he borrowed a bass guitar to play "Takin' Care of Business" in the Sioux City High School auditorium.

"I thought he did a good job of emotionally connecting," said Michael Andres, a college theology professor in Orange City. Andres is "warming to Huckabee," although he has also been interested in Arizona Sen. John McCain among the Republicans and in Illinois Democratic Sen. Barack Obama.

"I didn't know if there was a whole lot of substance," Andres said of Huckabee. "He didn't explain what he was going to do. I felt like he spent a lot of time separating himself from Romney."...

"I like him because he's a Christian, and he's in the right community for that," said Krosschell, who is retired from the Greyhound Corporation. "I was kind of up in the air when he was like an asterisk, like he said. I really didn't know who to vote for. I was part of the Christian Coalition thing. I was waiting for the right thing to come along."

Here's what the one Romney supported quoted in the article said:

Of Romney, retiree Judie Cain of Council Bluffs, Iowa, says, "I like his take on immigration."

"I'm on Social Security now, and I don't like the idea that it's going to immigrants when I paid in it all my life, and they just swam across," says Cain. In fact, only legal immigrants are entitled to Social Security benefits, and illegal immigrants pay millions of dollars a year in Social Security taxes.

"Now, I know Huckabee is probably a good candidate, too, but I don't think he's as intelligent," she said.

Interesting that the Romney supported was concerned about policy and intelligence, while the Huckabee supporters were worried about religion and emotionally connecting.

As for Huckabee being the right candidate because he's a Christian, there isn't a candidate on the GOP side that is not a Christian, at least in professed beliefs.

Yes, Romney is a Christian, and good 'ole Southern Baptist Jimmy Carter feels so to (from this 1997 interview):

Jimmy Carter calls things as he sees them. And he just made a call that leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention won't like.

Arguably the highest profile member of the Southern Baptist faith, the nation's 39th president told reporters this week that SBC leaders are wrong in characterizing Mormons as non-Chris-tians.

"Too many leaders now, I think, in the Southern Baptist Convention and in other conventions, are trying to act as the Pharisees did, who were condemned by Christ, in trying to define who can and who cannot be considered an acceptable person in the eyes of God. In other words, they're making judgments on behalf of God. I think that's wrong.''

Carter said his personal philosophy includes a nonjudgmental, reconciling type of spirituality with which he acknowledged many people - including leaders of his Southern Baptist faith - disagree. When questioned by the Deseret News about the SBC's characterization of Mormons as non-Christians, Carter said his church's leadership has become "narrow in their definition of what is a proper Christian or certainly even a proper Baptist."

But according to Carter, Mormons aren't the only ones that Southern Baptist leaders find troubling.

"They're much more rigid in defining who is an acceptable fellow Christian. There is a movement in the Southern Baptist Convention, now at the leadership level, even to criticize, condemn and even withdraw from the Baptist World Alliance, which is an alliance of Baptists."

"So, I think that the worst thing that we can do, among the worst things we can do, as believers in Christ, is to spend our time condemning others, who profess faith in Christ and try to have a very narrow definition of who is and who is not an acceptable believer and a child of God."

"I think this is one of the main reasons that Christ not only said once, but repeated on other occasions, that we should not judge others, we should let God be the judge of the sincerity of a human mind or a human heart, and let us spend our time trying to alleviate suffering, opening our hearts to others, learning about the needs of others, being generous, being compassionate and so forth.''

He said taking the good news of Christ's gospel to all the world is "a mandate that has guided Baptists as well as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and others all down through the centuries. I think that that's part of my own life commitment, is to tell others about Christ, and to offer them, at least, the word of God, and to let the Holy Spirit decide, or ordain the results of those intercessions. So, I think that that's a very worthwhile effort.''

Carter has reservations, however, about Christians trying to convert other Christians, as will undoubtedly happen in Utah next summer as Baptists seek to share their message and Mormons return the favor.

"The only thing I'm hesitant about is exactly what you mean by proselytizing. If you mean should we Protestants devote our time to converting Catholics to be Protestants, that's something with which I generally disagree. I think, though, that if people don't know about Christ, I have a mandate directly from our Savior to try to share the message that he espoused both through his own words and through his own actions.''

As for members of his own 30-family congregation, "the people in my own local church have no interest in trying to condemn Mormons or trying to convert Mormons to be good old Baptists like me.''

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No surprise, but Mike Huckabee appears to be blatantly deceptive on his immigration record, at least according to the Washington Times (via MyManMitt):

Mike Huckabee is overselling his record of cracking down on illegal aliens as governor, claiming he ordered his state police to arrest illegal aliens when in fact he never signed the agreement with federal authorities that would have allowed it.

Mr. Huckabee signed a bill that began the process, but he never followed through with signing an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security to secure training for state police officers. Without it, they cannot enforce federal immigration law.

"This is a policy difference, but the facts are the facts — under Governor Huckabee's administration, there was never even any effort to begin negotiating with Homeland Security," said former state Rep. Jeremy Hutchinson, the Republican who sponsored the 2005 law.

Mr. Huckabee's campaign acknowledged he didn't follow through, but said it was lack of time, not lack of interest.

"The clock ran out. We're glad to hear Governor Beebe picked up the ball and is running with it," said Charmaine Yoest, a senior adviser to Mr. Huckabee.

Mr. Huckabee signed the law in March 2005, more than 20 months before he left office. In less than a year in office, his successor, Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, has already begun negotiations with DHS.

Immigration-control groups say they fear Mr. Huckabee could repeat President Bush's track record on immigration, which they say amounted to tough talk but a failure to follow through.

"The devil is in the details, and Bush has shown a pattern of deception on immigration enforcement again and again and again, and the Huckster is right in line with that technique," said William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, who said Mr. Huckabee is trying to fool the Republican primary electorate.

"He knows he's wrong on immigration; he can't win if he's wrong on immigration — therefore, lie," Mr. Gheen said.

He said he will be in Iowa in the run-up to the Jan. 3 caucuses to try to convince voters Mr. Huckabee can't be trusted.

For the whole article, click here.

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From My Man Mitt we have this post from economist and Hoover Fellow Thomas Sowell:

The only candidate of either party who truly looks presidential is Mitt Romney.

It was unfortunate that Mike Huckabee and others have tried to make his religion an issue.John F. Kennedy was supposed to have taken that issue out of politics — and Huckabee’s bringing it back in ought to disqualify him for a shot at the White House, even aside from Governor Huckabee’s wholesale pardons of criminals and his raising taxes.

Romney and Giuliani are both articulate Republicans — and it is rare for the Republicans to have two at one time. Some presidential election years they haven’t even had one.

For the whole article, click here.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Romney’s Education Plan: A Winning Formula
By Doug Wilson (
Monday, December 24, 2007

Taking on the educational establishment is like picking a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel—it simply isn’t done.

Mitt Romney apparently never got that memo.

As governor of Massachusetts and on the presidential campaign trail this year, Romney has bucked the establishment by supporting much-needed reforms such as school choice and rightly labeling the failure of so many of our inner-city schools the “civil rights issue of our time.”

Click here for the whole article.

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The LA Times looks at Huckabee's 23% national sales tax. Here's an interesting excerpt:

Among the early advocates of a national sales tax were members of the Church of Scientology, a group that battled the IRS for years to gain recognition as a legitimate religious institution eligible for tax-exempt status. Church leaders backed the establishment of Citizens for an Alternative Tax System in 1990 to advance the cause of replacing the income tax with a national sales tax.

Eventually, the church won tax-exempt status and the group faded. But the issue was taken up by another group, Americans for Fair Taxation -- better known as -- founded in 1995 by a group of Texas millionaires.

Click here for the whole article.

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The mainstream media isn't biased...(this is from Powerline):

Flip-Flopping Vs. Growing In Office

At a time when Mitt Romney is being pounded in the press on the flimsiest possible grounds, the Associated Press takes a look at Barack Obama's record to judge the extent to which his currently-expressed views are different from those he has espoused in the past. The results are eye-opening, as Obama has shifted ground across a broad range of issues. But the AP is quick to assure us that these changes are nuanced and evolutionary:

The Democratic senator from Illinois hasn't made any fundamental policy shifts, such as changing his view on whether abortion should be legal.

The contrast with Romney, who has been officially dubbed a flip-flopper by the mainstream media, is explicit:

Political analysts don't see much danger for Obama in the changes. They aren't major shifts akin to Republican Mitt Romney's changes on abortion and gun control, so voters aren't likely to see the senator as indecisive or calculating.

But the AP's own recitation shows that Obama has changed his position on far more issues than Romney: the death penalty, a ban on handguns, the Patriot Act, socialized ("single payer") medicine, and repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. As for the AP's assertion that Obama's flip-flops haven't been "major shifts," why not? He used to be in favor of socialized medicine, but now isn't. He called the Patriot Act a "shoddy and dangerous law," then voted to renew it. He opposed a federal ban on same-sex marriage, then supported it. By what standard are these not "major shifts"?

Further, the AP's investigation raises serious issues about Obama's credibility. Obama now seeks to distance himself from positions he took in 1996; he claims that a staffer filled out a form for him and "misrepresented" Obama's views on a number of issues:

Obama's presidential campaign contends that voters can't learn anything about his views from the 1996 questionnaire, which was for an Illinois good-government group known as the IVI-IPO. Aides say Obama did not fill out the questionnaire and instead it was handled by a staffer who misrepresented his views on gun control, the death penalty and more.

That claim, however, is dubious at best:

IVI-IPO officials say it's inconceivable that Obama would have let a staffer turn in a questionnaire with incorrect answers. The group interviewed Obama in person about his answers before endorsing him in that 1996 legislative race, and he didn't suggest then, or anytime since, that the questionnaire needed to be corrected, they said.

It is deeply ironic that, at a time when Mitt Romney's credibility is being questioned by the AP and others, based on trivial and irrelevant discrepancies in Romney's account of events that happened 44 years ago, evidence that Obama is lying about positions that he himself took in 1996 is dismissed with a shrug.

Why the disparate treatment? It's hard to avoid the conclusion that the Associated Press covers candidates based on their party affiliation.

To comment on this post, go here.


Here's a post from Dave Riehl:

Why Listen To Judges And Prosecutors When You Have Friends?

I don't imagine Huckabee will like this quote from a friendly staffer on Huckabee's pardon problems addressed today in the New York Times. Seems you can't be tough on crime and have friends, too.

The Fields case also underscores the degree to which personal and political connections sometimes played an important role in how Mr. Huckabee used his powers of clemency. Some who received clemency were recommended by Baptist preachers who had long supported Mr. Huckabee. A few had worked as trustees in the governor’s mansion. Others, like Mr. Fields, were championed by Mr. Huckabee’s political allies.

“When you have somebody that you trust and is your friend and is putting their neck out there and is asking you to do something, versus judges and prosecutors who want to look tough on crime, that would have more of an impact with him,” Mr. Cox said.

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The Sioux City Journal has endorsed Romney. Here are highlights:

Sioux City Journal Endorsement
December 23, 2007

"At a time when the challenges we face as a nation are formidable, complex, divisive, political and dangerous, America needs a leader with energy, intellect, vision, charisma and experience.

"In his party's field of presidential candidates, Mitt Romney stands out as such an individual. Today we endorse Romney as the Republican we support in the Jan. 3 Iowa Caucuses.

"Romney combines an outsider's new face with a proven track record of success as an executive in both the private and public sectors." ...

"Personally, he is engaging, even charming, he has shown an ability to reach across partisan divides, and he is passionate on the campaign trail. In terms of leadership qualities, he possesses 'it,' and the importance of 'it' should not be diminished." ...

"In order to win his party's nomination and compete in the general election, Romney first must prove he's conservative enough, of course. Whether the subject is national defense, economics or social issues, his conservative credentials are strong." ...

"Having earned an MBA from Harvard Business School, founded his own venture capital and investment company, managed the Olympic Games and run a state in which the Legislature is some 85 percent Democratic, Romney understands economic principles, the intricacies of reform in areas such as education and health care, and the essential need to work with the other side. It's reasonable to say the economy and budget of Massachusetts were in dramatically better shape when he left office than when he entered, that the once-troubled 2002 Winter Olympics were transformed into a profitable success under his watch." ...

"Finally, the 60-year-old Romney – son of the late George Romney, a three-term governor of Michigan and secretary of Housing and Urban Development in Richard Nixon's first term – is a man of decency and integrity. Likability cannot be discounted as an attribute important in a candidate for public office.

"Among all the Republican candidates this year, Romney best taps into what we believe Americans seek – a different look, a fresh vision, a return to America's goodness and greatness."...

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Gov. Huckabee is bringing in $25,000 a pop for speaking engagements to church's in Iowa, according to Redstate via EFM.

Does anyone have an ethical problem with this?

Can you imagine the hullabaloo if Romney did this?

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Over at Evangelicals for Mitt, they have a post which they've titled: "Finding Jesus in a Jailhouse." Here excerpts from the Wall Street Journal article:

As Mr. Huckabee has surged to the top of the Republican presidential race, scrutiny of his record here in Little Rock has grown. One element in particular is the high number of prison-sentence commutations and pardons that Mr. Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, granted during his decade in office -- more than a thousand, or twice those of the previous three governors combined...

Mr. Claiborne, who will turn 40 on Friday, grew up in Little Rock. In 1991, while he was living in Washington state, Mr. Claiborne was convicted of robbery and possessing stolen property and went to prison briefly. When he got out, he returned to Little Rock.

On the morning of April 1, 1993, according to a prosecutor's notes, Mr. Claiborne broke into the home of 72-year-old Cloy Evans, in a working-class neighborhood of Little Rock. Mr. Claiborne tied Mr. Evans to a chair and ripped his phone from the wall. He ransacked his house. He took a shotgun and rifles and headed next door.

Vivian Allbritton had just come inside from hanging the laundry when Mr. Claiborne broke down her back door. He ordered her and her husband, Homer, a World War II veteran, to lie on the kitchen floor, and pointed the shotgun at their heads. He ripped the wedding rings from Mrs.

Allbritton's fingers, according to her son, Greg.Mr. Allbritton, then 69 years old, started to have chest pains. Still, he tried to flee for help. But he slipped and fell, and Mr. Claiborne dragged him back inside the house and ransacked their home, according to Greg Allbritton and the prosecutor.

Mr. Claiborne left in the couple's 1983 Mercury. A few weeks later, Homer Allbritton suffered a heart attack, his son says. After he had committed seven more felony crimes for which he was convicted, Mr. Claiborne was apprehended.

Mr. Claiborne went to prison on a 375-year sentence, which was later reduced to 100 years by Mr. Huckabee's predecessor, Jim Guy Tucker. Mr. Claiborne repeatedly applied for early release, Greg Allbritton says.

Mr. Williams said he pushed for Mr. Claiborne's early release because his family asked for his help. "And I want to help people," he says, declining to elaborate. Mr. Williams says in general he would lobby the governor in person when he saw him at political or official events.

In 2004, the Allbrittons got word that Gov. Huckabee was going to back Mr. Claiborne's commutation request. "It was like anyone who said they'd found Jesus could get Gov. Huckabee to commute their sentence," says Greg Allbritton, whose father, Homer, had died in 2001. Greg called the Pulaski County prosecutor, Larry Jegley, to complain about Mr. Huckabee's decision.

"When I heard his story, I got angry," says Mr. Jegley, a Democrat. Mr. Jegley held a press conference to press Mr. Huckabee for a moratorium on clemencies. Of Mr. Claiborne and his list of felony convictions, he says: "This guy was trouble."

And how did our reformed criminal turn out?

In September of this year, a police officer found Mr. Claiborne slumped over the wheel of his car in the middle of a Little Rock intersection, passed out. The officer found marijuana, small bags and a scale in the car with Mr. Claiborne. He was charged with possessing a controlled substance with the intent to distribute. Mr. Claiborne is now out of jail on $15,000 bond, court records show.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Hugh Hewitt on McCain and the race:

The unfortunate byproduct of the McCain bubble in New Hampshire is the obligation to revisit why it is that McCain faded in the first place. It would have been better all around if he'd bowed out after a disappointing finish in the Granite State, a resolute voice for victory, an American hero, but a fellow who's time had come and gone. But Huck's rise in Iowa combined with the Lieberman endorsement has created a certain to be short-lived boomlet in McCain futures. It also reminds us why he faded in the first place when he ought to have been triumphing in the way MSM has been predicting since 2004.

Let's start with the Gang of 14 coup that undercut a carefully calibrated strategy developed between then Majority Leader Frist and the White House, a coup that still rankles. The line of stalled judicial nominees --good men and women whom John McCain threw under the bus for a headline, along with other nominees sacrificed in the spring of 2006-- is long and growing longer with every month. Senator McCain avoids every serious discussion of his failed "compromise" and declares that he saved the judicial filibuster for the GOP, an extra-constitutional power the GOP ought not to want. Up-or-down votes for nominees who clear committee was the rule that Frist and the vast majority of Republicans wanted --the constitutional option. John McCain put his interests ahead of those of the party and the base. It was the moment that undid his comeback with the party willing to forgive the McCain-Feingold folly, and he hasn't recovered and cannot recover because the courts mean so much to each part of the party, but not to Senator McCain.

To that sharp memory of McCain as anti-party maverick, add the McCain grandstanding of September, 2006 when Bill Frist convened the Senate with a timetable to address the treatment and interrogation of terrorists, surveillance of terrorists and confirmation of judicial nominees beginning with Peter Keisler, and Senators McCain and Graham threw in enough monkeywrenches to derail the entire schedule --for what? The language on torture that emerged made no substantive change to American law, but Senator McCain's theatrics did stop Bill Frist from a series of legislative victories that might have made him a rival to the perceived McCain lead in the GOP nomination race.

The GOP Senate majority was lost, of course, and many believe the 55-45 solid majority was a victim of McCain's grandstanding throughout the second Bush term combined with the rise of the 527s that his vaunted anti-First Amendment law, McCain Feingold, birthed. Peter Keisler never got his committee vote, and still languishes in the Patrick Leahy controlled Judiciary Committee. The McCain-Feingold powered 527s continue to proliferate and distort the politics of the new century, and parts of the McCain masterpiece have been declared the obvious unconstitutional restraints on political speech that they are, but from Senator McCain we get zero remorse for this First Amendment fiasco.

There hasn't been much point in discussing this record while Senator McCain faded and saw his funds dip to almost nothing. But now he's back, the favorite of Independents in New Hampshire, and his pals in the MSM are trying to foist him again on the GOP. Romney's lead hasn't buckled in New Hampshire, and McCain's numbers haven't risen with GOP regulars for a very good reason --you don't get to lead the party you have consistently undercut for a decade.

So as attention turns to Christmas and then football and resolutions, we are exactly where the GOP always ends up: gathering behind the most conservative, electable Republican, who this year turns out to be Mitt Romney.

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McCain Says Allegations That He Did Favors for D.C. Lobbyist Are Untrue
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 21, 2007; A05

Sen. John McCain said yesterday that he has "never done any favors for anybody -- lobbyist or special interest group," as his presidential campaign issued a statement denouncing allegations of legislative favoritism as "gutter politics."

The Arizona Republican has hired a prominent Washington criminal attorney, Robert Bennett, to deal with the matter. "What is being done to John McCain is an outrage," Bennett said in an interview.

Bennett said he sent prepared answers yesterday to written questions submitted by New York Times reporters who have spent weeks investigating questions about whether the senator did favors for a Washington lobbyist or her clients. She has also retained a lawyer, according to a knowledgeable source who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was discussing legal matters.

McCain called Times Executive Editor Bill Keller this month to deny the allegations and to complain that he was not being treated fairly by the Times reporters, who had not yet interviewed him, the source said.

The Times inquiry burst into public view when the Drudge Report Web site posted an item about the newspaper's probe. Keller did not respond to a request to comment.
Speaking to reporters in Detroit, McCain confirmed the Times inquiry, adding: "I do find the timing of this whole issue very interesting. And we're not going to stand for what happened to us in 2000. We're getting close to the primary," he said, referring to the Jan. 8 contest in New Hampshire.

Bennett said McCain had personally retained him "to respond more forcefully" to the allegations than he did to unfounded rumors in the 2000 South Carolina primary, which included the falsehood that McCain had illegitimately fathered a black baby. Those rumors, Bennett said, "may have cost him the election."

McCain's top strategists initially declined to comment on the Drudge Report item, fearing that would open the door for news organizations to write about what his advisers regard as a non-story. McCain took the matter into his own hands by fielding questions about the controversy in Detroit, prompting his campaign to issue its statement.

"It is unfortunate that rumor and gossip enter into political campaigns," said the statement from Jill Hazelbaker, the campaign's communications director. "John McCain has a 24-year record of serving this country with honor and integrity. He has never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests or lobbyists, and he will not allow a smear campaign to distract from the important issues facing our country."

Internet gossip Matt Drudge has occasionally served as a conduit for allegations that news organizations are investigating but have not yet published.

Bennett represented President Bill Clinton during the impeachment investigation mounted by Congress. In 1989, Bennett was special counsel to a Senate ethics committee probe of five senators, including McCain, over their ties to convicted savings-and-loan executive Charles Keating. The panel concluded that McCain used poor judgment in interceding with banking regulators on Keating's behalf, but that no punishment was warranted.

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Baptists Not On Board
By Robert Novak

When Mike Huckabee went to Houston on Tuesday to raise funds for his fast-rising, money-starved presidential candidacy, a luncheon for the ordained Baptist minister was arranged by evangelical Christians. On hand was Judge Paul Pressler, a hero to Southern Baptist Convention reformers. But he was a nonpaying guest who supports Fred Thompson for president.

Huckabee greeted Pressler warmly. That contrasted with Huckabee's anger two months ago when they encountered each other in California. The former governor of Arkansas took issue then with comments by Pressler, a former Texas appeals court judge, that Huckabee had been a slacker in the war against secularists within the Baptist church.

The warmth in Texas and hostility in California reflects the dual personality of the pastor-politician who has broken out of the presidential campaign's second tier. Huckabee can come across as either a Reagan or a Nixon. More than personality explains why not all his Baptist brethren have signed on the dotted line for Huckabee. He did not join the "conservative resurgence" that successfully rebelled against liberals in the Southern Baptist Convention a generation ago.

Criticism from co-religionists stands apart from criticism by the Club for Growth, the Cato Institute and the Arkansas Eagle Forum of Huckabee's 10 big-government, high-tax years as governor. Because no Republican candidate since Pat Robertson in 1988 has depended so much on support from evangelicals, opposition by Huckabee's fellow Southern Baptists is significant.

Huckabee's base is reflected by sponsors of Tuesday's fundraising luncheon (requesting up to $4,600 a couple) at the Houston home of Steven Hotze, a leader in the highly conservative Christian Reconstruction movement. State Rep. Debbie Riddle was the only elected official on the host committee, most of whose members were not familiar names in Texas politics. David Welch is executive director of the Houston Area Pastor Council. Jack Tompkins heads a firm providing Internet services to the Christian community. Entrepreneur J. Keet Lewis is an active Southern Baptist.

A better-known committee member was Baptist minister Rick Scarborough, founder of Vision America. In endorsing Huckabee on Nov. 1, Scarborough said, "I acknowledge that Huckabee is not the perfect candidate" but one "who will listen to wise counsel." Scarborough and Huckabee clashed during the Baptist wars. Fighting to drive the liberals from the temple, Scarborough was badly defeated for president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas while Huckabee embraced the liberal church establishment to become president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

Judge Pressler, who led the Southern Baptist conservative resurgence in the late '70s, agreed with Scarborough about Huckabee's orientation and went a different route in presidential politics. When Huckabee on Nov. 9 announced the Southern Baptist leaders supporting him, Pressler was not on the list; on Dec. 7, Pressler endorsed Thompson. Pressler is known to be concerned that Huckabee plays to the establishment and would be subservient to the State Department and the New York Times.

On Oct. 26, John Fund of the Wall Street Journal quoted Pressler as saying: "I know of no conservative he appointed while he headed the Arkansas Baptist Convention." The next week, during their California encounter, Huckabee confirmed reports from people who know him that his good-natured facade conceals thin-skinned irritability. The candidate jumped Pressler with bitter complaints.

Shortly thereafter, bitterness was demonstrated during an interview with Zev Chafets of the New York Times. Huckabee was irritated that Richard Land, a prestigious Southern Baptist leader, had not endorsed him. "Richard Land swoons for Fred Thompson," he said, though as a policy Land endorses no one. Huckabee appears to believe that everyone in the Southern Baptist Convention is obliged to support him: "If my own abandon me on the battlefield, it will have a chilling effect."

Huckabee's encounter with Pressler two months ago did not deter the judge from telling me this week much the same thing he said to the Journal's Fund: "I don't know of conservative appointments he made, and I don't know of any contribution to the conservatives." After Huckabee's warm greeting in Houston on Tuesday, however, Pressler told me: "I would never do anything to hurt him." But he did not go so far as endorsing Huckabee for president, and that sends a strong message to conservative evangelicals.

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According to George Will:

On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee's role in the '70s Show involves blending Jimmy Carter's ostentatious piety with Nixon's knack for oblique nastiness. "Despicable" and "appalling" evidence of a "gutter campaign" -- that is how The Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence, Mass., characterized this from Sunday's New York Times Magazine profile of Huckabee: "'Don't Mormons,' he asked in an innocent voice, 'believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?'"

Imagine someone asking "in an innocent voice" this: "Don't Jews use the blood of gentile children to make matzoth for Passover?" Such a smarmy injection of the "blood libel," an ancient canard of anti-Semitism, into civic discourse would indelibly brand the injector as a bigot with contempt for the public's ability to decode bigotry.

Huckabee's campaign actually is what Rudy Giuliani's candidacy is misdescribed as being -- a comprehensive apostasy against core Republican beliefs. Giuliani departs from recent Republican stances regarding two issues -- abortion and the recognition by the law of same-sex couples. Huckabee's radical candidacy broadly repudiates core Republican policies such as free trade, low taxes, the essential legitimacy of America's corporate entities and the market system allocating wealth and opportunity. And consider New Hampshire's chapter of the National Education Association, the teachers union that is a crucial component of the Democratic Party's base.

In 2004, New Hampshire's chapter endorsed Howard Dean in the Democratic primary and no one in the Republican primary. Last week it endorsed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary -- and Huckabee in the Republican primary. It likes, as public employees generally do, his record of tax increases, and it applauds his opposition to school choice.

Huckabee's role in this year's '70s Show is not merely to attempt to revise a few Republican beliefs. He represents wholesale repudiation of what came after the 1970s -- Reaganism.

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Tom Tancredo has dropped out of the GOP race and has endorsed Mitt Romney (Tancredo is the most outspoken critic of illegal immigration).

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PEGGY NOONAN — American Pastoral — Mike Huckabee preaches to the choir, but not everyone’s singing along — Friday, December 21, 2007

Is there a word for “This is nice” and “This is creepy”? For that is what I felt. This is so sweet-appalling.
I love the cross. The sight of it, the fact of it, saves me, literally and figuratively.
I wound up thinking this: That guy is using the cross so I’ll like him. That doesn’t tell me what he thinks of Jesus, but it does tell me what he thinks of me. He thinks I’m dim. He thinks I will associate my savior with his candidacy. Bleh.
The ad was shrewd.
Was the cross an accident? Please.
Mr. Huckabee reminds me of two governors who became president, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Like Mr. Clinton, he is a natural, charming, bright and friendly. Yet one senses something unsavory there, something not so nice. Like Mr. Bush, his approach to politics seems, at bottom, highly emotional, marked by great spurts of feeling and mighty declarations as to what the Lord wants. The problem with this, and with Bushian compassionate conservatism, which seems to have an echo in Mr. Huckabee’s Christianism, is that to the extent it is a philosophy, it is not a philosophy that allows debate. Because it comes down to “This is what God wants.” This is not an opener of discussion but a squelcher of it. It doesn’t expand the process, it frustrates it.
Mr. Huckabee is clever. He puts forth his policies, such as they are, based on a faith-based understanding of public policy, and if you disagree with his policies, or take a hard shot at them, or at him, he suggests the reason is that you look down on evangelicals.
He plays the victim well. Others want to “trip him up,” but he’ll “get my message out there.” His foes are “Wall Street-Washington” insiders, elitists. On the “Today” show he said his critics are the type who never liked evangelical Christians.
This is a form of populist manipulation. Evangelical Christians have been strong in the Republican Party since the 1970s.
Prayer is powerful. But Huckabee’s critics say he’s a manipulator with a mean streak and little knowledge of the world.

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POTOMAC WATCH — Leap of Faith — Mike Huckabee and Little Rock ethics — BY KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL — Friday, December 21, 2007

As pigs in pokes go, the Democratic Party bought itself a big one in 1988. Michael Dukakis was relatively unknown . . . was a typecast liberal–a furlougher of felons, and a guy who looked mighty awkward in a tank.

Mr. Huckabee is starting to get a look-see by the press, though whether the nation will have time to absorb the findings before the primaries is just as unknown. The small amount that has been unearthed so far ought to have primary voters nervous. It isn’t just that Mr. Huckabee is far from a traditional conservative; he’s a potential ethical time bomb.

Most of this is out there, thoroughly documented, and even now slowly filtering its way to voters. Of more concern is what has not yet been discovered about Mr. Huckabee’s time as Arkansas lieutenant governor and governor, in particular on ethical issues. There are signs that Mr. Huckabee’s background–borne of the same Arkansas establishment that produced Bill Clinton–is ripe to provide the sort of pop-up political scandal that could derail a general election campaign.

In Arkansas, Mr. Huckabee was investigated by the state ethics committee at least 14 times. Most of the complaints centered on what appears to be a serial disregard for government rules about gifts and outside financial compensation. He reported $112,000 worth of gifts in one year alone, nearly double his $67,000 salary.

Five of the 14 investigations resulted in admonishments: Two for failing to report gifts (one was later overturned), the other three for some $80,000 that Mr. Huckabee and his wife received but failed to initially report. One of these admonishments involved a $23,500 payment to Mr. Huckabee from an opaque organization called Action America that he helped found in 1994 while lieutenant governor, and that was designed to coordinate his speeches and supplement his income.

Mr. Huckabee caused an uproar when he used a $60,000 account intended to maintain the governor’s mansion for personal expenses, including restaurant meals, dry cleaning and boat supplies. He also faced a lawsuit over his assertion that $70,000 worth of furniture donated to the mansion was his to keep. Sprinkled among all this are complaints about the misuse of state planes and campaign funds, mistakes on financial disclosure forms, and fights over documents related to ethics investigations.

Any one of these episodes individually may appear penny ante, but they add up to a disturbing pattern. People I’ve spoken with who worked with Mr. Huckabee in Arkansas dispute the idea that he is “corrupt.” They instead ascribe his ethical mishaps to a “blind spot” rooted in his beginnings as a Baptist minister and a Southern culture of gift-giving; they suggest he never made the mental transition to public office.

Some will also argue Mr. Huckabee is no more ethically challenged than Mr. Giuliani . .
The obscure governor from Arkansas is, in contrast, a deep sea for media diving. Most recent have been stories about his pardons and commutations, as well as the news that R.J. Reynolds contributed to Action America. Mr. Huckabee–who now wants a national smoking ban in public places–responded that he never knew he accepted tobacco money, which has inspired a former adviser to claim Mr. Huckabee is being “less than truthful.” What’s next?

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Judge Robert Bork has endorsed Mitt Romney for President:

Boston, MA – Today, noted conservative jurist Judge Robert Bork endorsed Governor Mitt Romney for President of the United States. Joining Romney for President, Judge Bork said,

"Throughout my career, I have had the honor of serving under several Presidents and am proud to make today's endorsement. No other candidate will do more to advance the conservative judicial movement than Governor Mitt Romney. He knows firsthand how the judicial branch can profoundly affect the future course of a state and a nation. I greatly admired his leadership in Massachusetts in the way that he responded to the activist court's ruling legalizing same-sex 'marriage.' His leadership on the issue has served as a model to the nation on how to respect all of our citizens while respecting the rule of law at the same time."

Judge Bork continued, "Our next President may be called upon to make more than one Supreme Court nomination, and Governor Romney is committed to nominating judges who take their oath of office seriously and respect the rule of law in our nation. I also support Governor Romney because of his character, his integrity and his stands on the major issues facing the United States."

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First Huckabee made this claim:

"In fact I think I’m stronger than most people because I truly understand the nature of the war that we are in with Islamo fascism. These are people that want to kill us. It’s a theocratic war. And I don’t know if anybody fully understands that. I’m the only guy on that stage with a theology degree."

While I don't understand how a degree in Christian theology helps someone be the most qualified candidate to deal with Islamic terrorists, I guess he's free to make the claim. But then, the truth came out from Huckabee's director of campaign research:

"Governor Huckabee doesn’t have a theology degree. He only spent a year in seminary."

Can you imagine Romney claiming that he was the best candidate to deal with the economy (which he is) because he has a business degree from Harvard (which he does), and then it came out that he'd only spent a year at business school? His campaign would be done over in disgrace. Why can Huckabee distort his record and get away with it?

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By Rich Lowry
December 13, 2007

"The ghost of Howard Dean haunts the pundit class. As soon as a candidate of either party spikes up in the polls, he is compared with Dean, who had a spectacular boomlet in the second half of 2003 only to deflate as soon as people began to vote in early 2004.

"After many false prophecies, Dean circa 2008 has finally arrived. He is former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee."

"Like Dean, Huckabee is an under-vetted former governor who is manifestly unprepared to be president of the United States. Like Dean, he is rising toward the top of polls in a crowded field based on his appeal to a particular niche of his party. As with Dean, his vulnerabilities in a general election are so screamingly obvious that it's hard to believe that primary voters, once they focus seriously on their choice, will nominate him."

"In general, the public tends to support Democratic proposals for bigger government, which Republicans counter by saying that the proposals will require higher taxes. Huckabee will be equipped poorly to make this traditional Republican comeback, given his tax-raising history in Arkansas. Huckabee tries to compensate with a sales-tax scheme that allows him to say he supports eliminating the IRS, but is so wildly implausible that it would be a liability in a general election.

"Then, there's national security, the Republican trump card during the Cold War and after 9/11. Huckabee not only has zero national-security credentials, he basically has no foreign-policy advisers either, as a New York Times Magazine piece this Sunday makes clear. In a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in September, Huckabee struck notes seemingly borrowed from Barack Obama, hitting the Bush administration for its 'bunker mentality' and strongly supporting direct talks with Iran."

"Democrats have to be looking at Huckabee the way Republicans once regarded Dean – as a shiny Christmas present that is too good to be true."

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The No Laughing Matter!:
A serious look at Governor Mike Huckabee's record and policy beyond the one-liners. As in:

· Governor Mike Huckabee: "And the ultimate thing is, I may not be the expert that some people are on foreign policy, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night." ("Imus In The Morning," 12/4/07)

· National Review: "The Holiday Inn Express Candidate." "In sum, conservatives should have worries about the depth and soundness of Mike Huckabee’s foreign-policy views. And staying at a Holiday Inn Express is not going to be enough to allay them." (Editorial, "The Holiday Inn Express Candidate, National Review, 12/10/07)

Today, Gov. Huckabee Says The Jim Gilchrist Endorsement Shows That He Was Not "Soft On Immigration":

Gov. Huckabee: "You know, clearly Iraq we've been through, and I think there could have been questions on immigration, in part, because some major developments. Even though I'm being attacked on it, it was our campaign who got the endorsement of Jim Gilchrest, the founder of the Minutemen Project. So I think the issue of soft on immigration is taken off the table for me." (MSNBC's "Morning Joe," 12/13/07)

To watch Governor Huckabee, please see:

However, Yesterday, Huckabee Supporter And Minutemen Founder Jim Gilchrist Calls Gov. Huckabee's Tuition Breaks For Illegal Immigrants "A Disaster":

Lars Larson: "But I want to ask you a couple of questions. I've looked at Huckabee's record. I've actually interviewed the Governor and I think he's a nice guy, but on illegal aliens, he's a train wreck."

Jim Gilchrist: "On a couple of issues. Offering the illegal aliens in-state tuition, that's a disaster. And I've talked to him about that." ("Lars Larson Show," 12/12/07)

To listen to Jim Gilchrist, please see:

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And he's running as a "Christian" leader:

"Huck's Gift-Givers Ended Up In State Posts"
By Kenneth P. Vogel
December 14, 2007

"Mike Huckabee accepted more than 90 gifts from 21 Arkansans he appointed to state posts during his decade as governor, a Politico analysis of state public records found.

"Since setting his sights on the White House, those supporters, their families and their companies have kept on giving. They contributed nearly $161,000 to a pre-presidential campaign account and Huckabee's official campaign committee since late last year, according to state and federal campaign finance records."

"In one year, the value of the gifts given to Huckabee amounted to more than $112,000 – nearly double his $67,000 state salary. And he wrangled with the state Ethics Commission over gift rules, with the commission twice finding he’d broken them (one violation was later overturned).

"Huckabee twice sued the commission, once seeking a statute of limitations on ethics complaints and in another suit he sought to narrow the scope of prohibited gifts. Ironically, he was represented before the ethics commission by Crass and one other lawyer who donated their services – as gifts.

"Huckabee later named one of the attorneys, Tom Mars, to head the Arkansas State Police."

"Huckabee is an avid hunter and fisherman, and his appointees to the state’s influential Game and Fish Commission provide a window into the layered relationship he had with supporters. At least four Huckabee appointees to the seven-member commission had given the governor gifts and are now counted among his presidential donors.

"Ronald Pierce is one of Huckabee’s longtime fishing buddies and the owner of a bass boat manufacturer. From 1997 to 2000, Pierce loaned Huckabee a pair of boats that today would retail for about $40,000 each. He also gave Huckabee and his wife, Janet, jackets and rain suits.

"Huckabee named one of the loaner boats 'State Business' because, he once joshed, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, it allowed his secretary to tell callers 'He’s out on State Business' when he was on fishing trips.

"After Huckabee’s gifts drew some bad press, Huckabee became concerned that 'it would kind of look bad' if Pierce loaned him a new boat, Pierce told Politico. So Pierce’s company pulled its loaners and sold the governor a new boat – albeit at a reduced price usually reserved for professional fishermen whose patronage is good marketing. 'The governor driving your boat on the lake is going to help you,' Pierce explained.

"Huckabee last year tapped Pierce for a seat on the Game and Fish Commission and this year Pierce and his wife gave $4,600 to Huckabee’s presidential campaign."

"In all, Huckabee accepted more than $54,000 in clothes for himself and his family during his decade as governor. And the lion’s share – $25,000 – came from Jennings Osborne, a colorful businessman who was by far the most generous gift giver to the Huckabees.

"Osborne, whose website describes him as 'Little Rock's own version of Elvis' gave Huckabee, his family and staff more than $60,000 worth of gifts, including $11,000 in flowers, nearly $12,000 worth of pastries and more than $25,000 in clothes.

"Huckabee appointed Osborne to a seat on the commission that oversees the stadium where the University of Arkansas football team plays some home games, and Osborne and his wife contributed $4,100 to Huckabee’s presidential campaign."

"Huckabee also gave appointments to givers of less extravagant gifts who have yet to appear in his campaign donation reports.

"He accepted a barbecue grill from a resort owned by the family of a man he appointed to the state’s State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission.

"He accepted as gifts seemingly common services, including car repairs. He reported receiving free eye care and 'eye wear' from an optometrist and an ophthalmologist – both of whom he tapped for spots on the boards overseeing their respective professions.

"In 1996, when the governor’s mansion was being refurbished, Huckabee received free 'general contracting and interior design services' from designer Georg Anderson and furnishings from cotton magnate Charles Adams. The next year, Huckabee named Anderson, as well as Adams’ wife, Myrna Vine Adams, to the Arkansas Governor's Mansion Commission.

"When Adam's furniture gift, worth more than $70,000, was first revealed, Huckabee claimed it was his family’s to keep. He backed down after a lawsuit was filed over the furniture and his family’s use of a $60,000-a-year fund, which the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported had been used to pay for pizza, a doghouse, a magazine subscription and pantyhose for Janet Huckabee.

"The suit was settled with the furniture still in the mansion and Huckabee, while admitting no wrongdoing, acknowledging a dispute 'regarding reimbursements.'"

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Here's reaction to today's debate in Iowa:

Fox News' Frank Luntz: "When we do these debates, usually there is some sort of a split in how people react in terms of winners or losers. We do not have a loser this time, but clearly, Mitt Romney was the winner." (Fox News' "Live," 12/12/07)

- Luntz: "When Mitt Romney talked about education, it was an absolute home run. Romney's communication of education talked about his background and it was very effective in his presentation." (FOX News' Post-Debate Coverage, 12/12/07) - Luntz: "[Romney] united both elements of the Republican Party. And not only was his language effective, but they thought that the job that he did was very well-communicated." (FOX News' Post-Debate Coverage, 12/12/07)

- Luntz: "It was a very good day for Mitt Romney – very effective." (FOX News' Post-Debate Coverage, 12/12/07)

National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez: "Mitt won – sounded presidential, competent, made a case for himself, and was optimistic but realistic about the threats we face. He's hit his stride." (Kathryn Jean Lopez, "Was There a Conspiracy Against Rudy and McCain?" National Review's The Corner, Posted 12/12/07)

- Lopez: "...he seems to be focusing on his managerial skills in a big way this debate. Strikes me as a smart idea." (Kathryn Jean Lopez, "Romney, the Manager," National Review's The Corner,, Posted 12/12/07)

The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder: "Mitt Romney had a hell of a good afternoon." (Marc Ambinder, "First Take: The Final Republican Debate," The Atlantic,, Posted 12/12/07)

- Ambinder: [Romney] seemed more sinewy than usual, less programmed, quite (dare we say) presidential, and even-tempered." (Marc Ambinder, "First Take: The Final Republican Debate," The Atlantic,, Posted 12/12/07)

National Review's Rich Lowry: "Romney wins in a romp. Positive and substantive." (Rich Lowry, "Luntz Focus Group," National Review's "The Corner,", Posted 12/12/07)

- Lowry: "Romney nails his answer to the tax question." (Rich Lowry, "Middle Income Families," National Review's "The Corner,", Posted 12/12/07)

Lowry: "I think Romney's tax answer was so good with its emphasis on 'middle class families' is that so far the only candidate to try to address the anxieties of the middle class is Huckabee. Romney needs to get on that territory, but provide better policy answers than Huckabee. Which is exactly what he did." (Rich Lowry, "Off The Charts," National Review's "The Corner,", Posted 12/12/07)

- Lowry: "Another plug for 'middle class families' from Mitt. It's important for him to keep hitting on it." (Rich Lowry, "Another Plug For 'Middle Class Families'," National Review's "The Corner,", Posted 12/12/07)

Commentary's John Podhoretz: "Romney says it's incredibly important that the next president should be a conservative. We need to follow Ronald Reagan's model: social conservatives, economic conservatives and foreign policy conservatives. I want to draw on those strengths. Very strong answer." (John Podhoretz, "LIVE: Blogging the Republican Debate Part Two,"
Commentary's "Contentions", Posted 12/12/07)

- Podhoretz: "Quick call on the debate: Romney is very good." (John Podhoretz, "LIVE: Blogging the Republican Debate Part Two," Commentary's "Contentions", Posted 12/12/07)

The Weekly Standard's Richelieu: "Romney on his game." (Richelieu, "Richelieu: The Iowa Debate," The Weekly Standard's "Campaign Standard,", Posted 12/12/07)

National Review's Jim Geraghty: "The issues – education, the budget – played to [Gov. Romney's] strengths." (Jim Geraghty, "Iowa PBS and the Des Moines Register: Making CNN Look Good," National Review's "The Campaign Spot,", Posted 12/12/07)

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