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Jim Geraghty’s analysis of Michigan and on to South Carolina.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008
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HH: Joined now by Geraghty the Indispensable, he the blogger at Nationalreview.com, that I was speculating about the impact of a Michigan win for Romney with yesterday. We went home, we went to bed. It wasn’t a win, it was a blowout for Mitt Romney, Jim Geraghty, nine points. First of all, John Zogby had McCain up by one point yesterday morning. When are we going to trust Zogby again?

JG: Oh, Hugh, I wrote what I thought would be the definitive piece on why John Zogby was never to be trusted again in 2004. He cleaned up his act, he was a little bit better in 2006, but he’s now coming off of two consecutive just not good responses, first being New Hampshire, and he had, you know, Obama up by quite a bit, and now once again, having McCain winning Michigan. But even more impressive than the actual nine point win for Romney was who was backing him.

HH: Right.

JG: And it was all the types of demographics you want to have heading forward in the Republican primary.

HH: Especially, I would think, vis-à-vis Huckabee, Evangelicals, Romney won Evangelicals in Michigan.

JG: Yeah, stunning. It was one of the things I was looking at today, that you know, you would figure, Mike Huckabee was not going to do well in New Hampshire. We kind of knew that. It was a secular state, there wasn’t a lot of the…but Michigan is not arid territory for him. There’s a lot of home schoolers there, and there’s a lot of hunters and gun owners, and folks who you’d think would be receptive to his message, and he got 16%?

HH: Yeah, I bagged my first 12 point deer up in Michigan, so the hunting community’s big.

JG: Yeah, and so it’s one of those things where I kind of wonder, each one of these guys has a possibility, they’re going to have to deal with the threat that they’re a one-state wonder. And so they’re going to have to demonstrate that they can win someplace outside their comfort zone, because right now, you know, New Hampshire I’ll excuse, but really, Michigan shouldn’t have been such infertile territory for Mike Huckabee.

HH: And given that, and by the way, Romney’s won in Wyoming again. I’ve got friends in Wyoming, they listen, I’ve got a station up there, they matter, though the Manhattan-Beltway elite don’t care about them. Wyoming did matter. They’re not an afterthought. Let me play for you Mike Huckabee last night, Jim Geraghty, get your reaction. Here he is.

MH: I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the Living God, and that’s what we need to do, is to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards, rather than try to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other, and how we treat the family.

HH: Now Geraghty, I explained this last night, as I’m sure he was talking about the life amendment and the marriage amendment. But you know, it just is the kind of so easily lampooned and manipulated blunder. Can he afford any more blunders?

JG: No, no, and I don’t know if you read in the Corner last night, Andrew Stuttaford, who’s one of the Corner contributors, and a bit more libertarian side of things, not really at home with, not always in agreement with the Christian right. But he just ripped it as basically saying look, in the eyes of the Taliban, they’re doing the work of God, too, that we are a country that is, we are a heavily Judeo-Christian country, but you need to be able to make your arguments beyond this is God’s word. You have to be able to say this is why it’s good for all Americans, and I think that is…I understand he probably meant that with only the best of intentions, but that is a devastating statement, and I just, you can just see it being thrown in his face time and time again if he were the Republican nominee.

HH: Well, let me give you the latest statement that’s going to be thrown in someone’s face time and time again. And you brought it to my attention in a post not very long ago over at Campaign Spot at Nationalreview.com. You were on a blogger conference call with John McCain, and John McCain said, “As far as ANWR is concerned, I don’t want to drill in the Grand Canyon, and I don’t want to drill in the Everglades.”

JG: Yup.

HH: “This is one of the most pristine and beautiful parts of the world.” You know, that is so McCain. It’s not enough to be against ANWR drilling, you’ve got to equate the proponents of exploration there as despoilers of the Grand Canyon and the Everglades. This is, he’s going out of his way to make an attack ad for Democrats to use against Republicans who favor exploration in the Everglades.

JG: Yeah, and it’s one of those things where he was…the question came from Mike Goldfarb of the Weekly Standard, and it was, it wasn’t a hostile answer, but there was something in it that just kind of presumed that if you want to drill in ANWR, you want to drill in the Grand Canyon. To me, they’re two separate things, and I don’t think you can say oh, one pretty part of the country is as good as another. I think that the, you can say ANWR is an important part of our energy plan to encourage exploration, and still say there are other parts of the country you would rule off. Another thing is in an earlier conversation, he had said that he is a federalist, and so he is okay with drilling off the coast of Louisiana, because people want it there. I could be wrong, because I haven’t seen polling on this in a while, but I’m pretty sure Alaskans want drilling in ANWR.

HH: Oh, they do.

JG: I think they see it as an economic boon, so…

HH: You see, this is a little bit of the moral preening that is always part of John McCain. It’s not enough…it also suggests he’ll never change his mind on it, right? Because we’re never going to drill in the Grand Canyon. But it’s that kind of certainty and absolutism that I think drives Republicans further and further away from him. Your thoughts?

JG: Yeah, and if the question had been, is this an issue we can discuss further, or is this a no-surrender issue, and McCain said well, we could always discuss it further, but, and then he went into this whole comparison into drilling in the Everglades, et cetera. And it just…you know, it’s one of those things where if that’s where your mind goes…look, McCain had a rough night. He lost Michigan…

HH: Badly.

JG: Maybe he’s not at the top of his game, and he’s a little shorter of temper than he ordinarily…again, this wasn’t an angry response, but it was a fighting response. This was not a soft-spoken response from him. And again, I don’t see why…this must be one of those things where he believes in the principle, because it’s not going to help him at all amongst Republicans.

HH: Oh, I’m going to talk about it all day. I want Republicans to know, especially those who supported…I mean, this was a big issue. This is not an afterthought. ANWR means a lot to Republicans who are serious about energy independence in the age of terror. And he’s just said no, that’s like drilling in the Grand Canyon. I think it’s a big deal. Jim, is South Carolina a must-win for both McCain and Huckabee? I think one of them goes to the sidelines, although they might now withdraw, after South Carolina. Your thoughts?

JG: I’d say there are three guys you could say it’s a must-win, including Fred Thompson, too. You know, the latest polls put him at 10%, and that’s just really bad news for him.

HH: Is that a Zogby poll?

JG: No, it’s a Palmetto Poll, done by Clemson University.

HH: Okay.

JG: It takes place over six days, so maybe that’s a little bit of a hitch, and I haven’t seen the sample size on it. But it’s not…you know, that’s not where you want to be when you’ve been putting enormous resources and time in that state. So you have three guys who you could say that it’s a must-win. Maybe a close second is okay for one of those guys, but the chances are at least one, and probably two of those guys, are walking out of South Carolina in really tough shape.

– – – –

HH: Earlier today, it may have been on the blogger conference call, John McCain said he is raising hundreds of thousands of dollars a day over the internet. Was that on the blogger conference call?

JG: It was, yes.

HH: Okay, I don’t believe that. Do you?

JG: I think he’s probably getting enough from his internet fundraising to keep him going. I asked in the context of will he be up on the air in Florida and beyond, and he said they’ve already reserved the time for the ads in Florida. He didn’t specify which states on Super Duper Tuesday. So at least the impression created was that they’re not worried about money there. Now you’ve asked several times whether he’s going to take public financing, but I think that actually the reason I asked that question on the conference call, Hugh, and it’s one of those things where if money’s a problem, they’re not showing it yet, but you’ve got to wonder if, you know, considering he was running on fumes earlier, just how much they can turn that New Hampshire win into cash.

HH: There’s some out there that he’s still on fumes, that he’s only got enough for three days in South Carolina. Of course, going up in Florida could mean you know, I’ve got one station in the swamp that’s up in Florida, as opposed to a full buy. But I just don’t believe, I think we would hear a lot of detail about hundreds of thousands…that was his phrase, right? Hundreds of thousands of dollars every day?

JG: Yeah.

HH: I don’t think that’s believable, because he doesn’t have any momentum. Where would that…

JG: No, look, he certainly got a couple of good days of press out of the New Hampshire win. I’d love to see what the numbers are today, because look, the New Hampshire win is great, and the old McCain is back, and he’s looking fantastic. He goes into Michigan, a state he won in 2000, and a state that he had been polling pretty well in, and loses, and loses pretty darned badly. I wonder if all of a sudden, the phones stopped being answered, and things dried up.

HH: Look, we’ll be able to tell, right? They do a daily filing at the end of the quarter, don’t they?

JG: I believe so.

HH: Yeah.

JG: And the other thing I would note is that I was speaking to one of my Romney guys a few nights ago, and he said well, all of our guys got paid on Friday, and in mildly bragging tones, so I think that’s an interesting contrast there.

HH: Last question. Does immigration matter in South Carolina?

JG: Absolutely, like furiously. Now the only thing is that I kind of wonder if so many guys have been accusing each other of being soft on immigration that it turns into a mess, and turns into a jumble. But I know that my folks live down in the low country part of the state, and that is a huge, driving, passion-stirring issue down there.

HH: They might now know whether to vote against Huckabee on that basis, but they’ve got to know that McCain is as in McCain-Kennedy and the Z Visa and the path to citizenship, don’t they?

JG: I do say, this was the huge, driving issue on talk radio back six, seven months ago. So you figure how much can people forget in six months?

HH: I don’t think much. Jim Geraghty, we’ll talk to you again next week. Have a great weekend.

End of interview.

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