Crossover Appeal
You can catch me as a guest tomorrow morning on New Hampshire Public Radio’s The Exchange. We will be discussing all of the legislation crossing over between the New Hampshire House and Senate tomorrow. You can listen to the show live here at 9 a.m., or check out the podcast later here.
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Rudy Resurrected?
If you haven’t had a chance yet to read Fergus Cullen’s new column in the Union Leader, I encourage you to check it out. Cullen nails former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was back in the Granite State recently, for his failure to engage in genuine retail politics here during the 2008 presidential campaign. While I would normally tweak Cullen over his displeasure that Giuliani repeatedly failed to recognize him at campaign events, it is a fair point that a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination should be able to recognize the chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party.
The column does a nice job of characterizing the problem that arises when candidates mistake the retail trappings of national celebrity for a politically viable campaign built on grassroots organization. Giuliani is someone who generates tremendous public interest wherever he goes, but that is not necessarily the same as winning over primary voters one retail event at a time. I see this phenomenon with some candidates every four years, and it has only gotten worse as digital technology and cable news have facilitated the rise of this sort of political celebrity and the nationalized campaigns that develop (in the ether) around them. Giuliani’s 2008 campaign was a textbook example of why this won’t work.
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Road to the White House, Ron Paul Edition
Tomorrow afternoon, I will be participating in the second edition of WKXL News Radio’s (103.9 FM, 1450 AM) Road to the White House series at 1 p.m. at the Barley House (Main St., directly across from the Statehouse). Our guest will be Texas Congressman Ron Paul, no stranger to the Granite State. I will once again join Chris Ryan and Ovide Lamontagne for the hour-long taping featuring Congressman Paul. The show will be broadcast on WKXL on Tuesday at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. I hope you can join us tomorrow afternoon for the live event.
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I Can See Daniels Waving Goodbye
I have been meaning to write about Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels’ recent appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press all week. It was one of the few opportunities I’ve had to take a closer look at the oft-mentioned (potential) Republican presidential hopeful. I will say that he sure didn’t sound like someone who is close to deciding on a presidential run (unless it’s to say no). I now understand both why the Republican intelligentsia like David Brooks and George Will are high on Daniels as a candidate, and why movement conservatives in the Tea Party-manned political trenches don’t seem particularly enthusiastic about him.
Daniels speaks in the measured tones of a technocratic manager. He has a bit of the policy wonk in him, and is most definitely not given to rhetorical flights of partisan hyperbole. In fact, Daniels sort of reminds me of a Republican version of our own Governor John Lynch, both in terms of size and demeanor, which is why he is probably not a good fit for the Tea Party-infused electoral environment that will likely define the next round of Republican presidential primaries and caucuses. Having called for a moratorium on the Republican Party’s pursuit of the conservative social agenda, even with his reputation as a fiscal conservative Daniels seems unlikely to captivate grassroots activists in the way necessary to compete effectively for their support in 2012.
Back posting on Thursday.
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Concord Confusion
It has been fascinating to watch the coverage of Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann’s recent trip to New Hampshire. As you probably already know, the focus has been almost exclusively on her confusion over precisely where the first shots of the American Revolution were fired – Concord, New Hampshire or Concord, Massachusetts. For those who like to disparage the Tea Party crowd as unserious and ill-informed, this episode feeds into the pre-existing narrative that these folks never let historical accuracy get in the way of a good, ideologically useful anecdote. Bachmann herself has come under prior criticism for her mischaracterization of the attitude of our Founding Fathers toward slavery.
Those of you who are regular readers of this website know that I have been plenty skeptical of the Tea Party movement in the past, while also trying to be fair about noting the potential for the movement to have a real impact in the electoral arena. In this particular instance, I must say that I was disappointed with the way in which Bachmann’s visit was covered by the media. I can’t actually tell you what she talked about on her visit, because much of the coverage focused almost exclusively on the Concord gaffe (including a mention on several network news broadcasts). While I don’t agree with Bachmann’s claim that the coverage of her reveals a double standard in the media (i.e., President Obama gets a pass on these types of gaffes), and the mistake was fair game, an obsessive focus on candidate gaffes trivializes the important political discourse that will take place in the Granite State this year, Bachmann’s voice included.
Back posting on Friday.
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Crowning Glory
As I chat with other political observers around the state about the slowly evolving Republican presidential field, it has become increasingly clear to me that we all share a common wish for the 2012 primary cycle: a Donald Trump candidacy.  At a time when tea party-infused rhetoric on the right has become both familiar and predictable, it is precisely Trump’s unpredictability that makes one yearn for his entrance into the race. Trump just sounds different – not only due to his authentic New York accent, but because of how he talks about politics, in general. It is perhaps the best opportunity for the Republican presidential primaries to avoid the standard I’m the true conservative discourse we get every four years.
I don't think Trump will be the Republican nominee for president in 2012, but as I noted in a post back in October of last year, he sure could shake things up a bit. Along these lines, just last week Trump held out the potential for a June surprise announcement. Given that his Miss USA pageant (co-owned with NBC) is scheduled to be held in Las Vegas in June, Trump the entrepreneur no doubt realizes that the opportunities for cross-promotion with a presidential announcement are virtually limitless.
Back posting on Tuesday.
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A Crystal Radio Anniversary
You can catch me as a guest on New Hampshire Public Radio’s The Exchange on Wednesday morning. As part of the show’s 15th anniversary celebration, I’ll be doing a segment with host Laura Knoy on how political discussion on the program has changed over the years. I first appeared on The Exchange shortly after it debuted in late 1995, during the run-up to the 1996 New Hampshire Primary. You can listen to the show at 9 a.m. here, or check out the podcast later here.
Back posting on Thursday.
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Let's Get Small
You can catch me as a guest tomorrow night on New Hampshire Public Television’s NH Outlook.   I’ll be participating in a roundtable discussion of recent attempts to downsize and restructure government at both the federal level and here in New Hampshire. The show airs on NHPTV tomorrow evening at 6 p.m., and is rebroadcast throughout the weekend. For more information on the show’s schedule, you can check here.
Back posting on Monday.
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The Mitch Pitch
I have been meaning to comment on that David Brooks column in The New York Times last week, entitled Run Mitch, Run. Brooks is the latest member of the Republican intelligentsia (including George Will) to make the case that Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels would be the strongest Republican nominee in 2012. If the Republican primary environment was likely to be dominated by party regulars and institutional elites this time around, then I would say Brooks just might get his wish. But given the tea party-infused energy of movement conservatives who somewhat suspiciously view Brooks as a moderate (or at least as a liberal’s favorite conservative), Daniels could be in for a challenging ride should he decide to enter the race.
I have heard many a conservative activist say the Republican Party erred in 2008 by settling for someone like Arizona Senator John McCain, who was believed to be more electable by virtue of his centrist appeal. They apparently have no intention of accepting what they view as a compromise candidate like that again. Daniels’ suggestion that the social conservative agenda be set aside in favor of an exclusive focus on jobs and the economy is a colossal red flag for these folks, and his derision toward those who buy into the ideological purity espoused by conservative talk radio and Fox News has not earned him any goodwill with the base either. As a result, Brooks seems almost wistful in his pitch, as though he understands that it just may be the wrong political place and time for a Mitch Daniels candidacy.
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