Another Thursday night, another Republican debate. This week had two Republican debates, one on Monday and another tonight–I haven’t watched either.
I’ve been taking a break this week. I wanted to finish reading Neal Stephenson’s The Confusion, and I’ve been watching some tv shows with my wife. Oh, and I had to fit the State Of the Union in on Tuesday.
The Republican race seems to be in a stalemate. I could quote a few different sources but suffice to say that everyone is even more upset about the candidates than they were last week.
A nice example of this came when I read that Bob Dole, the former Republican Senator from Kansas,failed presidential candidate, Viagra spokesmen and Romney supporter, spoke out against Newt Gingrich.
“If Gingrich is the nominee it will have an adverse impact on Republican candidates running for county, state, and federal offices,” Dole said. “Hardly anyone who served with Newt in Congress has endorsed him and that fact speaks for itself. He was a one-man-band who rarely took advice. It was his way or the highway.”
Pretty hard words. Of course, later in the piece, Dole gives more of a clue as to why he didn’t like Gingrich:
“In my run for the presidency in 1996 the Democrats greeted me with a number of negative TV ads and in every one of them Newt was in the ad. He was very unpopular and I am not only certain that this did not help me, but that it also cost House seats that year.”
This looks a bit petty to me. To be fair, I don’t think Dole is necessary saying that Gingrich cost him the 96 election, but he comes off as sour grapes. The 96 election was the first presidential race that I remember following. I remember every Republican I knew shuddering at the thought that Dole would get the nomination; equally, no one seriously believed that Dole could topple Clinton. The Republican field of 96 was lackluster and weak. So, get over yourself Senator…Negative Newt ads did not sink your campaign.
There is also that weird comment in the kicker that confused me, until Yuval Levin shed some light on this:
It’s true that Newt Gingrich used to go around with an empty ice bucket in 1996. It was a symbol of his efforts to cut congressional perks and costs. For decades prior to 1995, every congressional office would receive a daily delivery of ice from a central freezer on the Capitol grounds. It was a holdover from the days before easy refrigeration, and it made for a nice demonstration of the sort of silly and costly perks that members of Congress received. When he became Speaker, Gingrich ended the practice and (in large part because that meant eliminating several staff positions) saved some $400,000 a year.
So, the battles rage on. Real Clear Politics has Romney up by an average of five percent.
I have a hard time seeing Newt hanging onto this momentum. Even if he wins Florida, I still don’t see any evidence of a national organization. The whole “internet campaign” is a great idea, but it’s not going to work against Obama.
We’ll have to see what happens over the weekend, but the race is just all over the place right now.
I end this post with posting Mitch Daniels response to President Obama’s State Of the Union. It can either cheer you up or make you want a stiff drink. Why couldn’t we have this guy?