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Preempting Nonsense On A Deadline

Tuesday, January 8, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Of course I’m a Romney supporter, one with a soft spot for Rudy. You come here for commentary from that perspective, and I believe the commentary you read here it reflects what Romney supporters generally are thinking about the race. We’re nervous this morning, and would like a win tonight, or a close loss that suggests momentum turned on Saturday and Syunday night and can continue forward, marking the Friday after Iowa as the low point of the long campaign.

But we are most definitely not packing our bags to go home if it turns out otherwise.

I heard one bit of punditry passed from microphone to microphone yesterday: If Romney doesn’t win in New Hampshire, he’s finished.

This assessment isn’t asserted about Hillary, who also planned to win early. It isn’t asserted about Mike Huckabee, Thompson or Rudy. It wasn’t asserted about Hillary, McCain, Rudy or Thompson after Iowa.

The MSM and partisans of other GOP candidates are pushing to retire Romney early, even though as the debate showed on Sunday night that the narrowed field and the focused attention made him the most commanding figure on the stage.

“But he staked it all on an early state strategy!” is the reply.

Romney did hope for a knock-out of the field early and he may yet get it tonight, but as successful people in the world of business and government know, the effort doesn’t end when strategies don’t work. Strategies change when they don’t work. Of all of the candidates, Romney has dealt more often than any of them with the surprise of changed circumstances and adapting to changed circumstances.Romney built large organizations and invested considerable time in Iowa and New Hampshire, Wyoming and Michigan, but he also has impressive organizations in South Carolina, Nevada, Florida, California and elsewhere. His appeal to Reagan conservatives especially the Club for Growth-types and social conservatives who care about at least three SCOTUS vacancies in the years ahead and know Huck doesn’t have a chance isn’t going to fade because Iowa evangelicals and New Hampshire Independents favor Mike Huckabee and John McCain respectively.

“But he’s the governor to the state just south of the New Hampshire. He should have won!” If he wins the Republican vote, he will have won the key to the long campaign: The endorsement of the party members whose nomination he seeks.

Three other reasons to laugh at the “Romney’s finished” chorus of analysts:

1. The Luntz focus group: Assume the reactions of those Alpha Republican activists across the country who watched it from start to finish are the same as the Luntz group. Are they going to let their best candidate be retired by Granite State independents?

2. The rise of Obama: Really, do you think 71-year old John McCain can come close to the phenom from Chicago? Even as concern over the war fades because of the success of the surge? The fall debates will see a respectful Obama listen intently to the elder statesman and promise to consult closely with him, and then he’ll turn to the audience and talk about a new era of change that will include the best of the generation that has served us so well and so bravely. If McCain tries to get tough with Obama, the Saturday night McCain emerges, and the GOP is toast. If he smiles at Obama and comments on his youth and inexperience, everyone will hear their grandpa saying “When I was a kid….” and tune out. Turn out the lights on the GOP at that moment. The only way to beat Obama is with a overwhelming command of the issues of the economy and the future, the war against the jihadists far beyond Iraq, and the intricacies of entitlement overload and immigration control collapse. And to do so with energy and good humor.

3. Resources: Not only Romney’s wealth –earned and to be respected as a result not denigrated as some of his opponents have done– but his donor network and third party support. Do you think the Club for Growth is going to throw in the towel and abandon its agenda because older New Hampshire independents admire John McCain’s heroism?

4. As Rush explained at length about Huckabee yesterday, and as John McCain’s debate performance Saturday night displayed again, these are not mainstream Reagan-Bush Republicans equipped with the positions and temperament for a serious run in November. The Huck’s departures from the GOP core beliefs were detailed by Rush. The amnesty debate and a series of other splits with the party disqualify McCain unless you believe that ideas really don’t matter within the GOP. The longer those debates continue, the harder it becomes for MSM to keep up its protective shield around the two anti-agenda candidates.

Trying to give Mitt Romney the push to the sidelines makes sense for Democrats and their pals in the MSM, as well as for fans of McCain and Huck (though not perhaps Rudy). I think I speak for the vast majority of Romney supporters when I conclude that I’d rather he’d have won Iowa, and I hope he wins New Hampshire, but I didn’t come to my position because of his electability in those states, but because of his ideas and his electability in November. I’d be disappointed only if he didn’t vow to fight all the way to St. Paul.

Romney tried for a knockout punch, and may yet land one on McCain today. But Romney’s not leaving even if all of New Hampshire’s independents and all of the MSM wish he would.

It is the Republican nomination that Romney seeks. And thus far only Huckabee has assembled more Republican votes, and not as many Republican delegates. After tonight, Romney will almost certainly be ahead in both categories:

Total Primary Votes:


Iowa29,49415,55940,841 4,097 15,904
New Hampshire


Total Delegates2632016

I will be a guest on Michael Medved’s show in the last hour of his program, and then launch a five hour show of my own, available for folks who are their computers via streaming at Between now and then, you may want to watch these clips again, from the Frank Luntz focus group after Sunday night’s debate:

and then this:

UPDATE: From the Los Angeles Times this AM:

History has shown that candidates have needed to win in Iowa or New Hampshire to capture party nominations, though there are a few exceptions, such as then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton in 1992. Presidential election scholar David Crockett said he thought the 2008 GOP contest was so wide open that it could be another exception to the rule.

“I don’t think [Romney] has to win there, as some say,” said Crockett, an associate professor of political science at Trinity University in San Antonio. “I think if he comes in second he is still viable. He has the money and the organization to fight on. And it’s more wide open this year.”

And Romney made it clear Monday that he intended to continue, regardless of the outcome.

“From here, we’re going to go on to Michigan and South Carolina and Nevada,” he told reporters. “This is not a one- or two-state campaign. This is a 50-state campaign.”

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