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Independence Play
06-23-2011
I will be away from the website next week for the long wind-up to the Fourth of July holiday weekend. I will return on Tuesday, July 5th with new content for you. As I have mentioned in past election cycles, the Fourth of July weekend is an excellent time to get a closer look at the new crop of presidential hopefuls, as they will likely be out in force over the holiday weekend. For those candidates who struggle over the summer, we can also look forward to their inevitable campaign relaunch over the Labor Day weekend in September. But for now, I hope you enjoy mixing a little politics into your Independence Day celebration, and, as always, make it a safe and enjoyable one. See you soon. -Dean
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Retail Politics and the New Hampshire Primary in the Digital Age
06-21-2011
Here is a link to a piece I recently wrote for the launch of Southern New Hampshire University’s new website. In the essay, I look at the impact (for better and worse) of the revolution in digital technology on retail politics and the New Hampshire Primary. While you are on the SNHU website, you can also check out the larger SNHU Writers Network project of which this piece is an inaugural part. Through the Writers Network, you will be able to read the thoughts of SNHU faculty and staff on a wide range of topics, with new essays being added on a regular basis. Enjoy.
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Lax Debate Reax
06-15-2011
Given the avalanche of media analysis surrounding Monday night’s Republican presidential debate (and my own two hours of live-blogging for WMUR.com), I have been somewhat hesitant to run the subject into the ground with any additional commentary. But since several of you have asked for at least my summary reaction to the evening, upon further reflection, here it is:
 
Anytime Mitt Romney looks more presidential rather than less, it’s a good night for him. Yes, Michele Bachmann was the breakout star of the movement conservative crowd, as I thought she might be from my previous interaction with her. Yet, for all the impact that Bachmann may have on the campaign discourse in the primaries, she is still a long way from being a viable Republican nominee.
 
Finally, the night was a disaster for Tim Pawlenty, who only deepened the doubts some Republican political elites have about his toughness under pressure. The road to the White House in New Hampshire runs straight through Mitt Romney. Pawlenty seemed to understand this on Sunday morning with his clever ObamneyCare line, but forgot it in a big way on Monday night. You could literally feel him freeze in the spotlight, as he struggled over whether to hit Romney hard on health care. As for all the others, there was plenty to entertain, and one may now wonder whether it’s even rhetorically possible for the Republican Party’s political discourse to skew any further to the right, but it doesn’t change the reality that none of these other folks (including Newt Gingrich) will be the nominee in 2012.
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Live Wire Blogging the Republican Debate
06-10-2011
I will be live-blogging the Republican presidential debate on Monday night for WMUR-TV. You may remember that I did a number of these Live Wire events during the 2010 midterm elections, and they were a lot of fun. Just like last fall, you’ll be able to watch the debate live over the web, while reading my real-time analysis of the proceedings on the same page. You’ll also have an opportunity to post your own comments and to submit your questions to me throughout the evening.
 
To participate in the Live Wire event, just follow this link to WMUR.com’s interactive presidential primary page, where you’ll be able to watch the debate and join in the chat. I hope to see you online Monday night.
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Road to the White House, Tim Pawlenty Edition
06-09-2011
Tomorrow afternoon (Friday, June 10th), I will be participating in the fifth edition of WKXL News Radio’s (103.9 FM, 1450 AM) Road to the White House series at 1:45 p.m. at the Barley House (Main St., directly across from the Statehouse). Our guest will be former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. I will once again join Chris Ryan and Ovide Lamontagne for the hour-long taping featuring Governor Pawlenty. The show will be broadcast on WKXL on Monday morning at 10 a.m., and again at 6 p.m. I hope to see you at the live event tomorrow afternoon.
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Murphy's Law Redux
06-08-2011
I typically enjoy the political insights of veteran Republican campaign operative Mike Murphy, who frequently doubles as an analyst for several national media outlets. I was genuinely impressed in 2008, when he was perhaps the first high-profile Republican to stick his neck out and argue that Sarah Palin was actually a bad vice presidential pick by John McCain. So, I don’t know quite what to make of this post by Murphy over at Time.com’s Swampland blog. In the post, Murphy argues that former New York Governor George Pataki just might parlay his recent success with independent group advocacy into a sleeper win in the New Hampshire Primary. I must confess that I can’t tell whether this is intended to be taken with one’s tongue firmly implanted in cheek (hat tip to veteran Pataki-watcher Dante Scala for bringing the post to my attention).
 
I agree with Murphy that Pataki seems to have finally found his post-gubernatorial voice through independent advocacy group work both during the 2010 midterm elections with Revere America and now with his new group No American Debt. But the unintentional beauty of the advocacy group approach for Pataki is that it prevents the candidate from muddling the message. Were Pataki actually to run for the nomination, that would mean putting this particular candidate back into the mix, and that is where Murphy loses me. I’ve been watching Pataki for many years, and I just don’t see it happening for him in the Granite State. Murphy is smart enough to qualify this scenario as a long shot, and perhaps there is some validity to his idea that Pataki’s advocacy group success moves him up the vice presidential nominee depth chart. But that is not the same thing as Pataki upsetting Mitt Romney in the primary.
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Let's Make a Deal
06-07-2011
You can catch me as a guest tomorrow morning on New Hampshire Public Radio’s The Exchange. We will be discussing the latest in budgetary politics at the Statehouse as the House, Senate, and Governor Lynch all work to have a final budget agreement in place by the July 1st deadline. You can listen live to the show at 9 a.m. here, or check out the podcast later here.
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Flailing on Palin
06-03-2011
Yes, Sarah Palin stepped on Mitt Romney’s big presidential run announcement yesterday, but so what? While it is true (going back to 2008) that other Republican politicians seem to take special pleasure in tweaking Romney whenever possible, the idea that they should have steered clear of New Hampshire yesterday so that he could have his moment in the sun is a ridiculous one. Besides, these presidential campaign kickoff events generally don’t provide the same kind of political boost they once did, in part because saturation coverage of the invisible primary has wiped out any clear demarcation between candidates exploring and launching a presidential bid. If anything, candidates typically make their intentions known by releasing a prepackaged web video that provides the rationale for their candidacy.
 
So, Palin Steps on Romney didn’t need to be the big media story yesterday. Stories on both visits could have comfortably coexisted. But it was the big story, well, because the media made it so. I know the presidential primary’s silly season has begun when media start making the driving narrative of the race one about the media covering the race. Put another way, I spent a good portion of yesterday evening reading and watching stories about how the media frenzy in New Hampshire engulfed Palin instead of Romney on his big day, stories which were of course written by the media. Just google the phrase “Palin steps on Romney,” and you’ll get a good taste of what I mean. This is a venerable meme in presidential primary coverage which tells us more about the media’s interest than about voter preference. I’m always amused to see the first stories emerge each cycle, so mark the date June 2, 2011, as this year’s official kickoff.
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Bachmann is Filling the Palin Void
06-01-2011
One hypothesis that I have been considering for quite a while now is the idea that Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is quietly (for her) and systematically filling the electoral space that many political observers thought would be occupied by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in the 2012 presidential election cycle. After spending almost an hour with Bachmann yesterday as part of WKXL News Radio’s Road to the White House series, I am more convinced of this idea than ever, especially in light of Palin’s odd campaign bus caravan/family vacation, which is rumored to be headed our way.
 
No, I don’t think that Bachmann will be the Republican nominee (and she certainly doesn't have Palin's nearly universal name recognition), but she seems focused on moving the building blocks of a legitimate campaign into place both here and in Iowa, in a way that Palin most definitely is not. When I pressed Bachmann on how she would connect with Tea Party-leaning libertarians in New Hampshire who frequently vote Republican, but who are also suspicious of her social and religious conservatism, she acknowledged the need to look for common ground with these voters as a prerequisite for doing well in the Granite State. Bachmann’s answer at least demonstrated a willingness to think flexibly and strategically about campaigning, which is something that I don’t always encounter with movement politicians like her.
 
My colleague Chris Ryan correctly pointed out during yesterday’s show that there is no reason why the Republican presidential campaign can have only one socially conservative female voice in the race. This is certainly true, but unfortunately my guess is that much of the media will continue to write that particular narrative anyway. So, for all the friendly words that Bachmann had for Palin yesterday, she clearly understands the need to stake her claim to that distinctive voice.
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