You are browsing the archive for 2012 Presidential Election.

Clueless Ann Romney

11:31 am in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

I could only laugh when I heard the would be first lady publicly declare that there was a serious breach of trust between the White House and the American people. Did Ms. Romney ever stop to think about the fact there was never a bond of trust to begin with between those same Americans and her husband when he unsuccessfully ran for president?

How could anyone who has just endured the wear and tear of a presidential contest make such a naive statement, unless of course she herself is just so out of touch with the American people she’s addressing as to not see the forest for the trees.

Steve Gulitti
5/31/13

Source: Ann Romney: Public feels ‘breach of trust’ amid White House controversies: http://thehill.com/video/in-the-news/302489-ann-romney-americans-feel-breach-of-trust-after-wh-scandals#ixzz2UtYPaj3L

Conservatives at a Dead End?

1:02 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Election day has finally arrived and to true conservatives the final outcome will probably be nothing more than a mixed blessing at best. First and foremost Mitt Romney is hardly a rock ribbed conservative, not if you base your assessment of him on his political track record. He has migrated politically from a Northeastern liberal Republican to a faux “severe conservative” and then back to the center as the political winds have necessitated. Just look at his political maneuvering in the post primary run up to today. He may have disavowed the “Etch-a-Sketch” comments of Eric Fehnstrom but he has surely followed just that strategy, even to the point of largely agreeing with the foreign policies of Barack Obama as evidenced in the third presidential debate. In short there’s little reason to believe that Mitt Romney is anything but a shrewd political charlatan.

For conservatives whatever happens tonight there will still be several nagging questions to address. For one, what became of the “conservative counterrevolution of 2010″? In the wake of the widespread Republican by-election victories we were treated to all manner of editorials and op-eds, both written and on talk radio and Fox News about how America had seen through and rejected the “Socialism” of Barack Obama, returning to a more conservative political mindset. I however always believed that 2010 represented more of a protest vote than anything significant in the way of a fundamental shift in the political paradigm. Support for the notion that 2010 amounts to a protest vote rather than a fundamental shift in the American political landscape can be seen in the decline in popularity of the Tea Party Movement, the increased frustration on the part of the public with Republican Party obstruction in Congress and the increasing numbers of Republicans who have distanced themselves from Grover Norquist’s no tax pledge. Neither does Norquist’s idea that “all that we need is a Republican president with enough digits to sign what’s put before him” appear to resonate very well with the voting public. While more people identify as conservatives than identify as liberals, the net number of those who identify as conservatives is roughly around one third of the American public. If conservative thoughts had really taken hold you would see the numbers of people identifying as conservatives being north of 50% and the presidential race would look a lot different than it does today. Likewise the conservative attacks on Obama’s handling of the economy and posture as a world leader have failed to register with a majority of Americans. If they had Mitt Romney would be ahead by at least 6 to 10 percentage points rather than trailing within the statistical margin of error.

The myth that America is a “center right country” has been faithfully kept alive in the warrens of conservative media but as the polling numbers show on the day of the election, there’s no reason to believe that that idea has anymore validity today than in did in 2008 when Dick Morris claimed the same thing on the weekend before the election saying that: “Republicans were coming home and John McCain would win the election.” If there was anything in the way of a true conservative counterrevolution then where were the true conservative leaders during the Republican primary process? Out of the length and breadth of the conservative movement not a single viable candidate arose to challenge Barack Obama, instead Mitt Romney merely waited out the self destruction of one flawed conservative challenger after another till he was the last man standing. Quoting political commentator Steve Bogden: “Normally, you have a competitive primary. This year, it was an ongoing audition for whoever was going to be the anti-Romney. Almost everybody had their surge, but there were no credible challengers. Cain? Ging­rich? Santorum? Romney didn’t have to ‘win’ this year. He just waited for everyone else to lose.”

If Mitt Romney is lucky enough to win tonight it will be a squeaker and being the shrewd politician that he is he will continue to drift around the center no matter the tone of his rehtoric. He’ll have no other choice if he hopes to be reelected in 2016 and that bodes ill for conservatives who will be hoping that he pushes their agenda forward. I seriously doubt that Romney would ever subscribe to Grover Norquist’s notion that he should be a rubber stamp for a Tea Party Congress. I doubt that Romney sees Norquist and his anti-tax movement as anything more than a political sideshow to the big show of governing. If Barack Obama is lucky enough to win this evening I fully expect to see the usual crisis of confidence reemerge among conservatives when they beat each other up over the idea that “every time we nominate a candidate who moves to the center we lose.” The great irony of this debate is that if they did nominate a far right conservative, and why didn’t they, they would lose anyway. Like the Romney-Ryan economic plan the math just doesn’t add up for conservatives. For all of the bluff and bluster that one hears on Fox, Limbaugh, and across the entire spectrum of right-wing media about the American people being fundamentally conservative it just ain’t so. If it were true we wouldn’t be in essentially a dead heat and Romney would be way out in front. However in spite of four years of a visceral anti-Obama diatribe on the right, a lackluster economy and a threatening world scene there just aren’t enough conservative votes out there to make it happen.

Steven J. Gulitti
11/6/12

Mitt Romney and Autumn’s Black Swan

2:09 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

In nature black swans are a rarity. In the world of politics and economics they represent rare surprise events that have significant consequences. Of late the term black swan gained renewed currency when economist Nouriel Roubini said that economic crises weren’t “black swan events” but events that could be predicted by observing “macroeconomic and policy mistakes.” However, in the midst of the current presidential race, the extreme weather event that was Hurricane Sandy may very well represent a black swan, one that may have doomed the presidential aspirations of Mitt Romney and along with it, the conservative dream of defeating Barack Obama.

Needless to say, many would not have expected such a powerful storm so late in the season, especially those so heavily invested in climate change denial. Yet the arrival of Sandy has already had profound effects. First, it pushed the presidential race off of the news cycle for the better part of five days. That effectively precluded Romney from addressing his slowing momentum in the polls. Secondly, it allowed Barack Obama to command center stage as a bi-partisan Commander-in-Chief while Romney found his campaign relegated to a sidebar. Thus Governor Romney’s remarks on how he would “absolutely” eliminate FEMA if elected came back to haunt him at a time when Obama and Hurricane Sandy seemed omnipresent in the news cycle. As it is Obama has garnered a 78% approval rating for his handling of the federal response thus far. Third it refocused the debate on what should be the proper role of government in dealing with disasters and to what extent a crisis like Sandy could be adequately handled by a pared down FEMA, by the states or even less likely, private effort. Fourth it reintroduced the inconvenient subject of climate change into the closing days of the race, a topic that Republicans had sought to avoid.

Not surprisingly, the black swan event of Hurricane Sandy gave immediate birth to several coincident events in the form of Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and Bob McDonnell of Virginia, both Republicans, praising the president’s efforts in promptly addressing the crisis. Praise of any sort form these two governors would have been unthinkable before Sandy and can do nothing but cause consternation within the Romney Campaign. Coming on the heels of the positive image of Obama and Christie touring a devastated New Jersey, New York’s Mayor Mike Bloomberg endorsed Obama for president claiming that Obama “was the better candidate to tackle the global climate change that he believes might have contributed to the violent storm.” These developments can only serve to heighten the anxiety level within the Romney campaign as it has to now hustle all that much harder to get back on track and on message.

That Mitt Romney was thrown off stride by the events of the past five days was evident in his Thursday stump speech in Roanoke Virginia. That speech, given with an air of rushed desperation, seemed like a presentation in fast forward by a guy who realizes he’s missed the better part of five days of effective campaigning and who seemed to want to make up for that by throwing everything but the kitchen sink into his presentation. It was disjointed and topically Romney was all over the political landscape rushing from subject to subject without anything in the way of a logical segue between topics. Then there was the outburst against Christie by Rush Limbaugh, who accused Christie of “propping up Obama’s campaign.” While such commentary can be seen as a moment of comic relief it is at the same time just one more distraction for Team Romney. But the import of Rush’s latest diatribe didn’t go unnoticed by political pro Howard Fineman who observed: “Rush is sort of a kind of air raid siren for the Republicans. When he’s screaming like that, you know something has happened, something significant has happened.” It goes without saying that any image of disunity within the ranks of the right at this late date represents an unwanted development for Romney who has had problems staying on message throughout the campaign.

To make matters worse, the black swan of Sandy arrived amid other developments that make so many of Romney’s campaign arguments all the more difficult to sustain. For one thing the jobs numbers have come in better than expected and the pitch that unemployment has been stuck above 8% is no longer one that Romney can make: “The Labor Department’s last look at hiring before Tuesday’s election sketched a picture of a job market that is gradually gaining momentum after nearly stalling in the spring. Since July, the economy has created an average of 173,000 jobs a month, up from 67,000 a month from April through June.” Analyzing the jobs numbers, Alan Kruger of the Council of Economic Advisors noted that there was a big increase in the number of construction jobs, something that significantly benefits workers without college. Yesterday we learned that consumer confidence was at a five year high: “The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s final reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment rose to 82.6 from 78.3 in September. It was at its highest level since September 2007 on a final reading basis…Two-thirds of consumers surveyed expected President Barack Obama to win his re-election bid in just over a week…The barometer of current economic conditions gained to 88.1 from 85.7, while the gauge of consumer expectations rose to their highest level since July 2007 at 79 from 73.”

Another serious problem for Romney is the continuing blowback from his flagging efforts to denigrate the auto bailout and the fallout from that in the Midwest. Of particular import here is his campaign’s completely dishonest claim that the Chrysler Corporation was planning to ship jobs to China. That claim, apparently the result of the Romney campaign misreading a Bloomberg News report led to a broadside of criticism from auto industry executives. To wit: “Let’s set the record straight: Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China,” Chrysler executive Gualberto Ranieri wrote in a statement “A careful and unbiased reading of the Bloomberg take would have saved unnecessary fantasies and extravagant comments.” The reality of the situation is, quoting Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, that since the auto bailout Chrysler has “has added about 7,000 jobs in North America…and it continues to expand its U.S. workforce and to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in American plants. Milbank goes on to observe: “The fast-and-loose with Jeep points to a troubling Romney instinct: When the stakes are high, as they are for him in must win Ohio, the truth is often the first casualty.” Likewise Romney received a sharp rebuke from General Motors spokesman Greg Martin for his allegation that GM plans to double the number of cars it builds in China. Martin said: “The ad is cynical campaign politics at its worst. We think creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back in this country should be a source of bipartisan pride.” Romney’s problems with the auto industry were only made worse by the law of unintended consequences, another mini black swan if you will, when Donald Trump was rebuked by Ralph Giles, Head of Design at Chrysler for suggesting that the company would move production overseas. Needless to say it would appear that the Romney campaign has blown a head gasket in Ohio when it comes to how it has handled the auto industry rescue, a flawed tactic that could cost him that state as well as Michigan.

Finally what of the swing state polls? As of 5:00 PM this afternoon the Real Clear Politics average polling for eleven swing states shows Romney leading in just three and with his lead in Virginia extremely slim. Likewise the same results obtain when you look at The Cook Political Report. However in this report there is one notable exception, Cook’s findings show that four of the swing states lean Democrat and none lean Republican even though all are considered toss ups. Charlie Cook, one of the best guys in the business when it comes to crunching numbers said today on MSNBC that in terms of probabilities, Romney had a much harder climb in putting together a winning combination on the electoral map. Quoting Time Magazine’s political analyst Mark Halperin “Based on the totality of the public and private polling, the onus is still on Governor Romney to demonstrate he can get to 270 electoral votes. The President still has more paths and clearer paths.” Earlier in the week another political commentator pointed out that Romney has been able to narrow the gap with Obama in the swing states but he’s never been able to get out in front and stay there. Bear in mind that none of these poll results reflect any of the upward bounce that Barack Obama may get from his handling of the response to Hurricane Sandy.

None of this is to imply that Obama now has a lock on being reelected and the fallout from Hurricane Sandy, as it plays out over the next four days, could trend against the president. But one thing is for certain, the arrival of a black swan event, in the form of Hurricane Sandy, has greatly complicated the road to the White House for Mitt Romney. With only three full days remaining till the election it’s hard to see how Romney and his team can make up for five days of lost campaigning wherein which the president was able to take center stage and burnish his own image while Romney stood by as an onlooker, an onlooker who would only reenter the race with yet another blunder in talking about the auto bailout. This latest blunder, against the backdrop of positive economic numbers, has only worked to make Romney seem increasingly desperate in both his message and it’s presentation and that’s not a place a candidate wants to be with just a few more days to go before the polls are closed.

Steven J. Gulitti
11/2/12

Sources:

Black Swan Theory; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_swan_theory

Roubini and Bremmer on Global Economic Problems; http://www.economonitor.com/nouriel/2010/06/06/roubini-and-bremmer-on-global-economic-problems/

Nouriel Roubini sees ‘the roots of the next crisis in the current one’; http://blogs.reuters.com/chrystia-freeland/2010/12/08/nouriel-roubini-sees-the-roots-of-the-next-crisis-in-the-current-one/

Romney’s Momentum Seems to Have Stopped; http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/25/oct-24-in-polls-romneys-momentum-seems-to-have-stopped/

Presidential Polls 2012: New Numbers Show Romney Losing Momentum, Obama Gaining; http://www.policymic.com/articles/17514/presidential-polls-2012-new-numbers-show-romney-losing-momentum-obama-gaining

Romney Losing Momentum;http://www.politicalforum.com/current-events/272986-romney-losing-momentum-2.html

Bloomberg Backs Obama, Citing Fallout From Storm; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/02/nyregion/bloomberg-endorses-obama-saying-hurricane-sandy-affected-decision.html?hp

Rush: Christie Propping Up Obama Campaign with Hurricane Praise; http://www.newsmax.com/US/rush-obama-romney-christie/2012/11/01/id/462437

Chris Matthews Mocks Rush Limbaugh as the ‘Guy From Deliverance’; http://newsbusters.org/blogs/scott-whitlock/2012/11/01/chris-matthews-mocks-rush-limbaugh-guy-deliverance-0#ixzz2B1wSCMt5

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs; http://thepage.time.com/2012/11/02/jobs-jobs-jobs-6/?xid=newsletter-thepagebymarkhalperin

U.S. Economy Adds 171K Jobs; Jobless Rate Rises to 7.9%; http://nation.time.com/2012/11/02/u-s-oct-jobs-report-likely-to-show-modest-hiring/#ixzz2B54Mz9Ov

Consumer sentiment at highest in five years in October;http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/26/us-usa-economy-sentiment-idUSBRE89P0OR20121026

Survey: Consumer Confidence Gets a Boost; http://www.cio-today.com/news/Consumer-Confidence-Gets-a-Boost/story.xhtml?story_id=0020006NFX3U&full_skip=1

Romney goes off-road with the truth;http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-romneys-jeep-ad-drives-off-the-road-of-truth/2012/10/30/f207c606-22c9-11e2-8448-81b1ce7d6978_story.html?wpisrc=nl_wonk

Romney Caught Trying to Swiftboat the Auto Rescue;http://jaredbernsteinblog.com/romney-caught-trying-to-swiftboat-the-auto-rescue/

Auto companies hit back against Romney ads;http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/10/30/auto-companies-hit-back-against-romney-ads/

Ralph Gilles, Chrysler Executive, Lashes Out At Donald Trump;http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/01/ralph-gilles-donald-trump-chrysler_n_2060531.html?utm_hp_ref=daily-brief?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=110212&utm_medium=email&utm_content=NewsEntry&utm_term=Daily%20Brief

RCP – Electoral Map Polls; http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/president/2012_elections_electoral_college_map.html#battlegrounds

The Cook Political Report;http://cookpolitical.com/story/4849

Romney and 270; http://thepage.time.com/2012/11/01/romney-and-270/?xid=newsletter-thepagebymarkhalperin

October 16th Talking Points For President Obama

2:55 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Obama vs. Romney 2012

(photo: DonkeyHotey/flickr)

As an avid observer of national politics I’ll be honest and admit that President Obama’s last debate performance was nothing short of abysmal. What I find particularly frustrating about Barack Obama in general, and in his performance in the last debate in particular, is that he continues to fail to counterpunch with some very basic facts when challenged by his opponents on the right. Here are just a few suggestions that should be taken to heart, if the president wants to win the last two debates.

1) Nature and Size of Deficit Spending: Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and the rest of the conservative community need to be called to account for misrepresenting the reason why the deficit is where it is at the present time. Obama’s critics on the right have never been honest when it comes to analyzing the current economic downturn. Rather than addressing the Great Recession for what it is, the worst downturn since the Great Depression, they’ve routinely portrayed it as a garden variety downturn made all the worse by Obama’s policies trying to link those “failed” policies with the growth in the national debt. Obama’s counterpunch here is obvious, during the next debate, and thereafter, he needs to ask Mitt Romney why he doesn’t understand that when the economy falls into a deep recession, government spending goes up as a result of increased outlays for unemployment, food stamps ad infinitum, while tax revenues decline and that those factors have played a large part in the growth of the deficit. Moreover, he could ask Romney what he and the Republican’s would have done differently and to what effect. That’s pretty easy to understand and rather straightforward yet Obama and his surrogates have failed to throw these very obvious and elemental counterpunches much to their own detriment. The second counterargument that Obama needs to make is that this administration, unlike the last, put the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on the books so that those costs were reflected in deficit spending more accurately than had previously been the case. That in and of itself would have resulted in a dramatic increase in the deficit regardless of the state of the economy.

2) Medicare: President Obama needs to make it crystal clear that there is a fundamental difference between reduced outlays for Medicare that result from reduced payments to insurance companies and health care providers compared to reduced funding levels for the Medicare program per se that would result from conservative proposals. After establishing this factual difference Obama needs to press Romney on whether or not he understands this fundamental difference and to prove that it isn’t true.

3) Attacking Success: Obama needs to challenge the notion that he’s an enemy of success and that should start with the statement, based on his own life, that he himself is the embodiment of American success. Secondly, he needs to point out that asking the very wealthy to pay a little bit more in taxes isn’t the same thing as attacking success. Obama isn’t attacking the American system of private property and private initiative, he’s merely asking for a readjustment of tax rates that are now skewed to the benefit of a few in what many economists have called the greatest upward realignment of wealth since the 1920s. President Obama should ask Mitt Romney to cite a specific example where Obama conceptually, theoretically or figuratively has come out and denounced the American value of success.

4) Role of Government: President Obama needs to publicly disabuse Mitt Romney of the notion that almost everything that has ever benefited America is a function of private enterprise. Obama needs to give Mitt Romney a history lesson in the role of the federal government in fostering growth in the American economy that began in the early years of the Republic with nationally funded roads, canals and aids to navigation systems and continued through to the development of the Internet as detailed in Free Market Fantasies, referenced below. Obama needs to point out the critical fact that generally government builds infrastructure as individual companies rarely if ever ban together to build highways, bridges, dams and airports, without which there will be little in the way of an environment fostering economic growth. He also needs to point out the percentage of developmental research and development that is funded by government. President Obama needs to point out that Romney’s own proposals related to funding technical and occupational training for today’s unfilled jobs as well as those of tomorrow are unlikely to come about with out government funding and involvement. Lastly, Romney needs to be brought to understand that there isn’t a developed economy in this world that didn’t get to where it is today without significant economic policy input from it’s national government.

5) Foreign Policy: The time for Barack Obama to call out Mitt Romney on his Neoconservative power trip has long since arrived, particularly as it pertains to the Iranian nuclear program. To listen to Romney and Ryan speak of Iranian nukes one would think that the Iranians made their most dramatic advance since Obama took office. This however is factually incorrect. Foreign policy writer David Sanger pointed out that Iran made great strides in developing nuclear capabilities during the eight years of the Bush administration, while American foreign policy was distracted in the quagmire of Iraq. An analysis of the timeline of Iranian nuclear development contained the references below reveals that Iran made great strides in nuclear development from 2002 through early 2009. Barack Obama needs to put Mitt Romney on the spot and ask him how a military solution would effectively cripple Iran’s nuclear program, given that Iran’s military capabilities are considerably more formidable than where those we faced in Iraq or Libya and that much of Iran’s nuclear facilities are either underground or near population centers and that makes such a strike far more complicated.

Obama needs to ask Mitt Romney to square his implied muscular foreign policy rhetoric with the fact that the vast majority of the American people are beyond tired of overseas military involvement and want the money spent on war to be spent here at home. Obama needs to make the point that the foreign policy failures of the Bush administration have real consequences and will affect our foreign policy options for years to come. President Obama needs to distinguish between what military power can and can’t do, a point laid out by the Neoconservative Robert Kagan in an NPR interview: “Well, a lot of what people think is decline is based on a very faulty memory of what things used to be like. People have a sense that America used to call the shots, used to be able to dominate the world, get everyone to do what we wanted them to do. And of course that’s ludicrous. Anyone who remembers even the early Cold War years knows that we couldn’t do anything about the revolution in China. We couldn’t do anything about the Soviets getting a nuclear weapon, etcetera, and etcetera. So we’re making a bad comparison…In terms of military power, even with defense budget cuts that I think are unfortunate, the United States is still by far the most powerful nation in the world. So I think the United States remains tremendously influential.” Kagan, who is himself a Romney advisor, goes on to question the Romney campaigns notion that Obama believes that America is in decline. Look at this interchange between the NPR moderator Steve Inskeep and Kagan:
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Who’s Beholden to Foreign Ideas?

4:55 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

A caricature of Ayn Rand

One of the Republican Party's many foreign influences (Image: Donkey Hotey / Flickr)

Ever since Sarah Palin ran around proclaiming that Barack Obama is a “Socialist” there has been an unrelenting effort by the right to portray the president as someone beholden to foreign ideas. Whether it flows from the fever swamp of right wing media or from the lips of Mitt Romney and his surrogates there has been a concerted effort to define the president as un-American. Furthermore there has been a noticeable lack of political courage among Republican Party leaders in denouncing these attacks. What’s even more interesting is that when it comes to being out of step with the American people a recent NBC / Wall Street Journal Poll shows that 54% of the respondents see Obama’s views as being in the mainstream vice 51% for Mitt Romney. However it might just be worth looking into just how beholden some of Obama’s critics are to foreign ideas and influences.

Let’s start with Paul Ryan and his conservative fellow travelers. A recent article detailing Ryan’s formative years, “Conservative Star’s Small-Town Roots”, stated of Ryan’s path to individual responsibility and maturity: “It followed him into college, where he immediately took a passionate interest in the canon of conservative economic theorists and writers — Ayn Rand and Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and Ludwig von Mises — who inspired the up-and-coming generation of libertarian-minded activists and lawmakers.” Odd but with the exception of Milton Friedman there’s not an American among those from whom Ryan draws upon for his fundamental principles. Both Hayek and his mentor von Mises, were born in the late 19th Century and are major contributors to the Austrian school of economic thought. Ludwig von Mises formulated his theories in a world where there were relatively few industrial but many agricultural or undeveloped economies. India was a still a British colony, Brazil largely agricultural and China was still dominated by European spheres of influence. Globalization as we now it today was unheard of and hardly imagined. The ideas and influence of von Mises would significantly affect Friedrich Hayek.

Ayn Rand was born in Czarist Russia in 1905. As Jennifer Burns, a Stanford professor, points out Ryan’s affinity for Rand is somewhat odd as she would have found plenty to critique in Ryan: “Mr. Ryan’s advocacy of steep cuts in government spending would have pleased her, she would have vehemently opposed his social conservatism and hawkish foreign policy. She would have denounced Mr. Ryan, as she denounced Ronald Reagan, for trying “to take us back to the Middle Ages, via the unconstitutional union of religion and politics”…Mr. Ryan’s rise is a telling index of how far conservatism has evolved from its founding principles. The creators of the movement embraced the free market, but shied from Rand’s promotion of capitalism as a moral system. They emphasized the practical benefits of capitalism, not its ethics. Their fidelity to Christianity grew into a staunch social conservatism that Rand fought against in vain.” As Burns puts it, Ryan and the conservative embrace of Ayn Rand reveals “a window into the ideological fissures at the heart of modern conservatism.” To Burn’s observation one could legitimately add that Ryan’s affinity to foreign ideas, as propounded by Rand and others, may be more than a little out of step with American society today. Moreover, the essential economic question is, are economic theories formulated in an era before globalization still really relevant today?

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Romney Worrying About Millions But Not Billions

1:21 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Mitt Romney’s supposed essential selling point to the American electorate is that his experience in the private sector uniquely qualify him to replace Barack Obama in the White House next January. Romney and his supporters have repeatedly said that Romney’s business acumen stand in stark contrast to Obama’s lack of experience in anything outside of community organizing or academia. In response to Obama’s attack on Romney’s time at Bain Capital, the Romney’s campaign has zeroed in on the money lost on the green energy firm called Solyndra and other federal investments: “Republicans’ use of Solyndra to counter Democratic claims that Bain Capital was a predatory shop that killed jobs dates back months. But the Bain-Solyndra tussle burst into wide view on Tuesday. Romney’s campaign released a Web video that went after Solyndra and financial woes of other federally backed companies.”

No one would argue that losing $500 plus million at Solyndra is mere chump change or something to be casually dismissed. However, as is often the case, government investment in new technologies is fraught with risk from start and that is to some degree unavoidable. Others would make the argument that the government shouldn’t be involved in investing in industry and commerce or those activities related thereto, but those people are fundamentally making an argument that is ahistorical and contrary to the economic history of the American Republic.

But when it comes to Romney’s business sense, I for one, find it interesting that he seems, conveniently, to have overlooked or is unaware of the fact that $60 Billion in American taxpayer dollars has gone missing as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. To wit:”As much as $60 billion in U.S. funds has been lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade through lax oversight of contractors, poor planning and payoffs to warlords and insurgents, an independent panel investigating U.S. wartime spending estimates. In its final report to Congress, the Commission on Wartime Contracting said the figure could grow as U.S. support for reconstruction projects and programs wanes, leaving both countries to bear the long-term costs of sustaining the schools, medical clinics, barracks, roads and power plants already built with American tax dollars. Much of the waste and fraud could have been avoided with better planning and more aggressive oversight, the commission said. To avoid repeating the mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan, government agencies should overhaul the way they award and manage contracts in war zones, the commission recommended.”

Okay so the aforementioned begs the question: “If Romney is such a sharp business mind how is it he has focused so precisely on the Solyndra loss while at the same time failing to address or even acknowledge the loss of a far greater sum of taxpayer money that is estimated to be in the billions? I’m a lowly blogger yet I’m aware of this missing sixty billion some odd dollars so how can a guy who’s running for president on the basis of his business experience, fiscal prowess and situational awareness of economic issues failed to have accounted for this much lost taxpayer money? In reviewing the public ledger how could a seasoned business professional, who would have had to take at least a few courses in accounting, fail to account for a mere $60 billion dollars in missing funds? I suspect that politics has something to do with it as the bulk of the missing war funds most likely disappeared under the Republican administration of George Bush, someone who today’s G.O.P. has conveniently sought to air brush off of the political stage. But if Romney is to be the guy who is supposed to bring us all together after the allegedly divisive age of Obama wouldn’t he too want to address these missing billions along with the millions that the Obama administration is charged with squandering? After all wouldn’t that be the hallmark of a competent business professional turned public servant? Like Mitt Romney’s now famously forgetting his stint as a school yard bully it may very well be that he has he suffered another lapse of memory in recalling this story of missing / purloined war funding that broke a mere nine ten months ago.

As a voter who is being asked to assess the qualifications of two men vying for the American presidency and who is being proffered a sales pitch that Mitt Romney’s time in private business is supposed to make him stand up head and shoulders above Barack Obama, I remain thus far unimpressed. Needless to say when it comes to Romney’s qualification to be president I am more than a little skeptical. To date, evaluating Romney’s campaign message as evidenced by what he chooses to focus on in addressing our economic problems amounts to old conservative wine in new bottles that may not address the root causes of the current economic crisis. His unwillingness to grant interviews as to his time and track record at Bain, his unwillingness to appear on political talk shows other than Fox News, his running to resurrect Solyndra while ignoring misused war funding and his recent failure to distance himself from Donald Trump and the long discredited issue of Obama’s birth certificate, all to my mind, reveal a man who is far from being forthcoming about himself. Are we dealing with someone who may not believe all that he’s telling the rest of us and who is just hoping that we’ll pick him as a bland alternative to the sitting president in much the same way that he offered himself as a bland alternative to his more radical opponents in the Republican primaries?

Steven J. Gulitti

6/2/12

Sources:

Bain, Solyndra now center stage in Romney, Obama economic fight; http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/230031-obama-campaign-white-house-counterpunch-on-solyndra-bain-comparison

Military Spending Waste: Up To $60 Billion In Iraq, Afghanistan War Funds Lost To Poor Planning, Oversight, Fraud; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/30/military-spending-waste_n_942723.html

US Wasting Billions While Tripling No-Bid Contracts After Decade of Afghan, Iraq Wars; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l35Dscn5OEg

Have Libertarians Forgotten the Republican Primaries?

10:13 am in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Back in September of 2010 I detailed in an article “Where Have all the Libertarian’s Gone?” how for all of the attention paid to Libertarian ideas there was little in the way of Libertarian electoral success to show for it. To wit: “In the din and roar surrounding politics in America today much is made of the importance of Libertarian thinking. Some have pointed out its importance to the Tea Party Movement…That said it’s interesting to consider the following two questions: First, if Libertarian ideas are so compelling, how come Libertarians garner such a small portion of actual votes during major electoral campaigns? Secondly, if Libertarians command such low voting totals, how is it that there is such a disproportionate number of Libertarian organizations and who is putting up the money to support them?”
 
Well when one stops to analyze the 2012 Republican Primaries the results continue to prove out my original premise. That is, for all of the continuing talk about the importance of Libertarian ideas there is precious little to show for it when actual results are examined. To date the have been 27 Republican Primary contests and 1031 delegates awarded. The Libertarian candidate, Ron Paul, has not won a single state and has only accumulated 50 delegates. His take equals 4.8% of the overall number of delegates awarded so far. Thus once again, based on empirical evidence, we can only conclude that Libertarians occupy a space on the American political landscape as nothing more than a sideshow to the big show, if not as an outright political oddity propelled forward by its own inertia. If Libertarians truly commanded a healthy amount of respect and political power they would have something to show for it and clearly they don’t. Some have made the case that Libertarians don’t need to vote for Libertarian candidates to be important within the electorate but if that’s the case then that would suggest that they don’t truly hold to the conviction of their own ideas. If the members of a movement won’t adhere to their core convictions and belief system then how can that movement be seen as viable or effective? Surely a Libertarian voting for any of the candidates other than Ron Paul would have to compromise his principles in so doing based on the political track records of Romney, Santorum and Gingrich, none of whom can be considered even remotely close to being a Libertarian.
 
Some political commentators have said that Ron Paul isn’t a true candidate, he’s a movement. Some have said that his stake in the 2012 Republican Primaries is an attempt to affect his own political rehabilitation or to pave the way for his son’s  political future. Whatever his motives one thing is for sure and that’s that he has made little impact if any in the race to defeat Barack Obama. Ron Paul has often complained that he isn’t getting the media coverage that he and his campaign deserves, but based on his performance thus far and his movement’s historically, he’s getting all the coverage that he deserves. Whatever Ron Paul’s goals one thing is for certain and that is that for all of the money pouring into Libertarian organizations like the Cato Institute via folks like the Koch Brothers, ad infinitum, the Libertarian message still fails to resonate with the Republican electorate in particular and the wider electorate in general. It’s either the aforementioned or America’s Libertarians have failed to notice that there’s a Republican Primary season underway and in full swing.
 
Steven J. Gulitti
3/23/12  
 
Sources:

An Ominous Comment For Conservatives?

4:36 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Back in February I penned a short article addressing whether or not the Republican Party needed to doctor up Mitt Romney’s image so as to make him palatable to the Party’s conservatives. I framed the piece this way: “Does the G.O.P. and the conservative elite need to doctor up Mitt Romney so as to make him seem conservative enough to be electable? It’s no secret that large numbers of conservatives don’t see Romney as a fellow traveler and that poses two great risks to the G.O.P., the prospect of a third party bid, a sure formula for defeat, or the other equally unattractive option, a conservative voters strike on election day.” Now in the wake of Romney’s primary victory in Illinois, his Communications Director Eric Fehrnstrom has suggested that Romney could easily jettison those conservative talking points that he’s adopted during the primaries once he enters the general election campaign. To wit: “During an interview on CNN, John Fugelsang asked Fehrnstrom if an extended primary against Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum would force the governor to tack so far to the right it would hurt him with moderate voters in the general election? “I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign,” Fehrnstrom replied. “Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch,” he added. “You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.”

A whole host of political commentators have made a point of suggesting that Romney had adopted the trappings of the Conservative Movement purely for political ends and that when you examine his political track record there was no way in which you could legitimately see him as a true conservative. Does the public muttering of Eric Fehrnstrom give conservatives cause for worry? I would say so due to the fact that where the conservatives are on the political map and where the vast majority of the independent voters are is two different places and if you want to get elected in 2012 you aren’t going to do that by being on the far right. Mitt Romney’s handlers are already engaged in damage control over Fehrnstrom’s comments but damage control is just what it probably is seeing as the primaries aren’t over and the average Republican primary voter is far more conservative than the electorate in general. But for my money you’d be fooling yourself if you believe that Eric Fehrnstrom is just making idle chatter.

S.J. Gulitti

3/21/12

Does the G.O.P. Need to Doctor Up Mitt Romney?; http://open.salon.com/blog/steven_j_gulitti/2012/02/04/does_the_gop_need_to_doctor_up_mitt_romney

Adviser: Romney will change positions ‘like an Etch A Sketch’ after primary; http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/03/21/adviser-romney-will-change-positions-like-an-etch-a-sketch-after-primary/

The Tea Party’s Empty Dance Card

11:27 am in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Well there you have it, another onetime Tea Party favorite has dropped out of the 2012 race to be America’s president thereby shrinking the field of “viable” candidates that a Tea Party true believer could vote for this coming November. In fact one should even ask the question of whether or not there is a candidate still in the race that a true Tea Party member could legitimately support. Political columnist E.J. Dionne, to some degree, asked a similar question in: “Where are the Republican populists?” Quoting Dionne: “Members of the Tea Party insisted they were turning the GOP into a populist, anti-establishment bastion. Social conservatives have long argued that values and morals matter more than money. Yet in the end, the corporate and economically conservative wing of the Republican Party always seems to win.” That will leave members of the movement with a truly tough choice this November: Is there any candidate left in the race for which a real Tea Party supporter could vote without a compromising of one’s principles? Unless a third party candidate favorable to the Tea Party emerges, not exactly a development that would guarantee victory, the choices available to Tea Party members will be reduced to voting for a moderate Republican in Mitt Romney, not voting, giving up on the presidency and hoping that a rear guard electoral effort will maintain the House Tea Party Caucus or voting for Obama as a protest. The last choice is something the true believers would never do.

Presently it appears that rank and file Tea Party members have already started to compromise their principles. A recent Boston Globe article, “Tea Party’s opposition to Romney weakens” states: “The Tea Party and its dislike of the Massachusetts health care plan and Romney’s moderate record as Bay State governor were considerable impediments to his candidacy throughout 2011. But none of the Tea Party’s darlings – Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, or Gingrich – has been able to sustain a surge, highlighting limitations of a nascent movement that couldn’t extend its 2010 congressional successes onto the presidential stage…The latest polls suggest a good number of Tea Party supporters are getting behind the party’s most likely nominee [Romney], despite qualms about his record, because their overriding goal is removing Obama from the White House.” Likewise, just as the G.O.P.’s 2012 field is unsettled so are members of the Tea Party when it comes to who they currently support: “CBS reports that voters who identify with the Tea Party movement are similarly divided, with 29 percent supporting Romney, 28 percent supporting Gingrich, 18 percent supporting Santorum, and 12 percent supporting Paul.”

The fact that almost one third of the Tea Party members are backing Romney shows just how far principles on the hard right have eroded at this point in time. Likewise real conservatives would take umbrage with Newt Gingrich’s claim that he is the only true conservative in the race. Gingrich has a track record of clashing with conservatives on many issues. He called Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget reform ideas “right-wing social engineering”, has supported health care insurance mandates, been rather liberal in his views on accommodating illegal immigrants, admitted that climate change is real and needs to be addressed and even criticized the far right publicly on the issue of ideological purity saying: “You can have a very, very intense movement at 20 percent. You can’t govern. To govern, you’ve got to get 50 percent plus one after the recount.” And now in what could be a Herman Cain like moment Gingrich’s second wife is going public in her criticism of him in an expose that is hardly flattering and which will do nothing to endear him to social conservatives, particularly women.

Thus for the Tea Partiers we’re down to just two alternatives, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. If Ron Paul is anything it’s unelectable. His isolationist stance on foreign involvement and libertarian views on drug use are an anathema to the Republican establishment and most likely to the majority of the electorate as well. Paul’s libertarian views can be summarized as follows: “Paul believes: Gays should be allowed to marry; America’s foreign policy contributed to the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks; U.S. defence spending should be slashed by 15%; Drugs like marijuana, heroin and cocaine should be decriminalized, and the United States should not come to Israel’s aid if it starts a shooting war with Iran.” With views like these we can effectively dismiss Ron Paul as a serious candidate for president.

That leaves us with Santorum and his acceptability to the Tea Party. One problem Santorum has always had is that he’s been a one trick pony, his overarching theme has been one of social values, something that helped him tremendously in Iowa. “CBS News entrance polling showed that Tea Party conservatives who participated in the caucuses largely supported Santorum. Among those who said they support the Tea Party movement, 29 percent caucused for him, compared with 19 percent for Paul and 19 percent for Mitt Romney.” But Iowa is atypical of the larger political landscape, its whiter, more evangelical, less urban and less affected by the Great Recession due to a strong demand for its agricultural produce. Just how well do the Tea Partiers know Rick Santorum? Since Iowa it’s come out that he was a master at earmarking federal largesse for western Pennsylvania, supported Medicare Part D, was a regular supporter of foreign aid and voted for No Child Left Behind, a federal program that “greatly expanded the federal government’s role in education.” Referencing a Ron Paul advertisement, Santorum is “another serial hypocrite who can’t be trusted.” It targets Santorum for voting five times to raise the debt ceiling, voting in favor of the notorious “bridge to nowhere,” and taking lobbyist cash, among other things.”

A good synopsis of Rick Santorum’s career on Capitol Hill can be found in Sheryl Stolberg’s recent article “Santorum Rose Quickly From Reformer to Insider” Quoting Stolberg: “But a look at the arc of Mr. Santorum’s political career, from his days as a fresh-faced College Republican to his bruising defeat for a third term in 2006, reveals a side of Mr. Santorum beyond that of reformer and abortion foe. He emerges as a savvy operator and sharp tactician, a climber who became a member of the Washington establishment that he had once railed against.” Thus can any true believer in the principles of the Tea Party movement consider Rick Santorum to be a bona fide upholder of the movement’s agenda? Not really. Does Santorum fit the description of a Beltway outsider who can be trusted to champion the agenda of the Tea Party movement? Not in the least, that is, if you want to be honest about whom Santorum is and what his past track record is all about. Once you peel the onion down a few layers past the exterior of standing up for family values what you’re left with is a professional politician and that’s hardly in line with the general tenor of the Tea Party movement.

Conservative columnist David Brooks points out much of what comprises Santorum’s world view is not exactly congruent with Tea Party principles. ”His worldview is not individualistic. His book, “It Takes a Family,” was infused with the conservative wing of Catholic social teaching. It was a broadside against Barry Goldwater-style conservatism in favor of one that emphasized family and social solidarity. While in Congress, he was a leader in nearly every serious piece of antipoverty legislation…He is not a representative of the corporate or financial wing of the party. Santorum certainly wants to reduce government spending. He certainly wants tax reform. But he goes out of his way in his speeches to pick fights with the “supply-siders.” Now many on the far right consider Brooks a “progressive” Republican but few would say the same of Erick Erickson who runs the ultra-conservative political blog RedState and who’s article “What a Big Government Conservative Looks Like” states: “Rick Santorum is a pro-life statist. He is. You will have to deal with it.  He is a big government conservative.  Santorum is right on social issues, but has never let his love of social issues stand in the way of the creeping expansion of the welfare state.  In fact, he has been complicit in the expansion of the welfare state… Santorum is a conservative. He is. But his conservatism is largely defined by his social positions and the ends to which government would be deployed. But he has chosen as the means to those conservative ends bigger government. We see big government conservatives most clearly when they deviate from the tireless efforts of people like Mike Pence and Jim DeMint and the others who were willing to oppose George W. Bush’s expansion of the welfare state. Rick Santorum was not among them.”

So with the abovementioned in mind, am I going out on a limb in pointing out that the Tea Party movement is effectively without a viable candidate for 2012? I don’t thinks so, not if by “viable” you mean a candidate that will put the principles of limiting big government’s influence in our daily lives at the forefront of their policy agenda and who actually has a chance at appealing to that vast raft of independent voters and being elected. If the CBS poll numbers are indicative of anything they show that three quarters of the Tea Party movement’s respondents are supporting a candidate other than one who espouses true Tea Party principles in either positions taken on past policy or personal behavior. Which get us back to E.J. Dionne: “Think about Romney’s rise in light of the overheated political analysis of 2010 that saw a Republican Party as being transformed by the Tea Party legions who, in alliance with an overlapping group of social and religious conservatives, would take the party away from the establishmentarians.

Certainly some of the movement’s failures can be attributed to a flawed set of competitors and the split on the right, especially Paul’s ability to siphon off a significant share of the Tea Party vote. That has made a consolidation of its forces impossible…But there is another possibility: that the GOP never was and never can be a populist party, that the term was always being misapplied, and that enough Republicans are quite comfortable with a Harvard-educated private-equity specialist.” If E.J. Dionne is correct, and I believe he is, then the members of the Tea Party movement have a rendevous with reality in Novemeber that will leave then feeling jilted with regard to having a true candidate in the race and, if a Republican wins the presidency, with having that old sinking feeling of having been used for their votes with little propsect of seeing their agenda advanced by the professional politicians who run the Republican Party.

Steven J. Gulitti

1/20/2012

 Sources:

Perry suspends campaign, endorses Gingrich; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mdvje9Fr-uY

What doomed Rick Perry’s campaign; http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/19/politics/perry-rise-fall/index.html

Where are the Republican populists; http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/romneys-rise-puts-the-lie-to-a-populist-gop/2012/01/18/gIQAoPqG9P_story.html

Tea Party’s opposition to Romney weakens; http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2012/01/19/opposition-from-tea-party-begins-fade-mitt-romney-gains-support-more-conservatives/JrU4fS9Gy5BF44dEfEkQoM/story.html

GOP Race Remains Fractured, Tea Party Supporters Divided: http://www.decodedscience.com/gop-race-remains-fractured-tea-party-supporters-divided/9673

Gingrich Has Record Of Clashing With The Right; http://www.npr.org/2011/11/29/142868567/gingrich-has-record-of-clashing-with-the-right

Newt Gingrich wanted ‘open marriage,’ ex-wife says; http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/19/politics/gingrich-wife/index.html

Paul’s candidacy thrives on the unconventional; http://www.nationalpost.com/news/Paul+candidacy+thrives+unconventional/5776016/story.html

Can Rick Santorum claim the Tea Party mantle?; http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57354522-503544/can-rick-santorum-claim-the-tea-party-mantle/

Santorum Rose Quickly From Reformer to Insider; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/20/us/politics/santorum-rose-quickly-from-reformer-to-insider.html?_r=1&hp

Workers of the World, Unite! http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/03/opinion/workers-of-the-world-unite.html?_r=1&emc=eta1

What a Big Government Conservative Looks Like; http://www.redstate.com/erick/2012/01/09/what-a-big-government-conservative-looks-like-2/

Rick Santorum and the Tea Party; http://thepoliticalzealot.com/2012/01/09/rick-santorum-and-the-tea-party/

For the Radical Right, a Defeat in New Hampshire

10:46 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Tonight’s outcome in New Hampshire represents a significant setback for the fortunes of the Tea Party movement along with the rest of the radical right as Republican moderates have captured the bulk of the votes cast in the contest. When you combine Romney’s take with that of Gingrich and Huntsman what you see is that collectively Republican moderates received a total of 65.6% of the total vote count. Conversely those candidates who are popular with the radical right were only able to secure 39.3% of the votes cast. That means that two thirds of the voters voted for a candidate that’s not likely to do anything for a radical conservative agenda or its supporters other than use them for their vote and thereafter bid them farewell a la Senator Scott Brown (R-MA). See the graph from Associated Press below.
 
While nothing is ever cast in stone in the world of American politics, no candidate in modern times who ever won both the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary failed to win his party’s nomination. Suffice it to say that the leadership of the Republican establishment can only be much relieved by these results as it suggests that voters may be moving back to the center after having flirted with the Tea Party and the radical right. That Tea Party affinity may have produced dramatic electoral gains in 2010 but it has also created gridlock in Washington, a tarnished image of the Republican Party and electoral defeats in 2011. You can bet your bottom dollar that the Republican establishment, which is well aware of the Congressional G.O.P’s low standing in the eyes of the public, attributes much of that low standing to the impact of the Tea Party caucus on Capitol Hill. Now with Mitt Romney’s fortunes apparently on the rise the Republican leadership can only hope that he can power past right-wing radicals in most of the remaining primaries thereby rendering any prospect of a Tea Party backed candidate moot. With that development the Republican Party can plan a campaign to defeat Barack Obama in November that would have been otherwise futile had a Tea Party backed candidate been the front runner.
 
In a prescient article that appeared before the 2011 elections, Matt Bai interviewed uber-Conservative William Kristol who said a “large number of Republican primary voters, and even more independent general-election voters, will be wary of supporting a Republican candidate in 2012 if the party looks as if it’s in the grip of an infantile form of conservatism.” Bai himself noted the following: “Given such fast-deteriorating conditions, [in the economy] many Republican veterans have come around to the view that they aren’t really going to need the perfect presidential candidate, and perhaps not even a notably good one. With Chris Christie having taken himself out of the running — again — earlier this month, the field of candidates now appears to be pretty much set, and none of them are likely to inspire any reimagining’s of Mount Rushmore. But maybe all the moment requires is someone who can pass as a broadly acceptable alternative — a candidate who doesn’t project the Tea Party extremism of Michele Bachmann or the radical isolationism of Ron Paul. “If we have a Rick Perry versus Mitt Romney battle for the nomination, it’s a little hard to say, ‘Ooh, the party has really gone off the rails,’ ” Kristol told me just after Perry entered the race, a development that essentially ended Bachmann’s brief ascent. Establishment Republicans may prefer Romney to Perry, but their assumption is that either man can be counted on to steer the party back toward the broad center next fall, effectively disarming the Tea Party mutiny.” Well it goes without saying that tonight’s results bring the Republican Party a step closer to the establishment’s goal of a party that appeals to the broad middle of the American electorate, particularly the non aligned independents, while at the same time adding increased downward momentum to the faltering Tea Party movement. Thus it would appear that tonight’s real winners are the old line establishment Republicans and the real losers are the Tea Party crowd, the Ron Paul libertarians and the rest of the radical right.
 
Steven J. Gulitti
1/10/12
 
 
 
Results for New Hampshire Republican Primary (U.S. Presidential Primary)
Jan 10, 2012 (92% of precincts reporting)
Mitt Romney 90,918   39.3%
Ron Paul 52,842  22.9%
Jon Huntsman 38,963  16.9%
Newt Gingrich 21,742     9.4%
Rick Santorum 21,562 9.3%
Rick Perry
1,612
0.7%
Michele Bachmann
 325
0.1%
Other
3,104
1.3%
 
Sources: