Election 2008: January 2008 Archives

On Tuesday, I'm voting for whichever candidate has a shot at finishing first in Oklahoma ahead of John McCain. (At the moment, that appears to be Mike Huckabee.) I want to stop his momentum toward the nomination. Part of it is that I don't want anyone to steamroll to a majority of delegates by finishing first with only 35% of the vote in a bunch of states. Part of it is that none of the remaining candidates are consistent conservatives, and I'd like to give the delegates at the national convention the chance to come up with a better choice.

There are plenty of reasons to admire John McCain, both for his military service and his service in Congress. He is solid on the War on Terror. From a conservative perspective, he would still be a better pick for President than whoever the Democrats nominate. But there are plenty of reasons why a McCain presidency would be the worst of any realistic option remaining to Republican primary voters. Between now and Tuesday I'll post some of those reasons here. Here's the first one:

In 2001, when the GOP was hanging by a thread to a majority in the Senate, John McCain negotiated with Senate Democratic leaders about leaving the Republican Party and organizing with the Democrats, giving the Democrats the majority and putting key Senate committee chairmanships in the hands of extreme left-wingers. (Via Ace of Spades HQ.)

At Tuesday's Republican caucuses in Tulsa County, a straw poll was taken. Here are the results:

Governor Mike Huckabee 28%
Governor Mitt Romney 27%
Congressman Ron Paul 25%
Senator John McCain 13%
Mayor Rudy Guiliani 4%
Congressman Tom Tancredo 1%
Congresman Duncan Hunter 1%
Alan Keyes .5%
Senator Fred Thompson .5%

You might notice that Congressman Paul had a strong showing of supporters at caucuses across the county -- more about that later.

The caucuses also selected delegates to the Tulsa County Convention on Feb. 23 and considered resolutions for the party platform. Note that the allocation of Oklahoma's delegates to the National Convention to presidential candidates is entirely dependent on the results of next Tuesday's primary.

Survey USA has a new tracking poll of 502 Oklahoma Republicans from Sunday which shows John McCain with 37%, Mike Huckabee with 28%, and Mitt Romney with 19%. That's an 11 point boost for Romney, a gain of 8 points for McCain, but a drop of only 3 points for Huckabee. Part of what we're seeing is the redistribution of Fred Thompson's 13% in the previous Survey USA poll from January 11-13. Giuliani's numbers also dropped from 11% to 6% -- I'd guess most of that went to McCain. The pollsters warn that Florida results today "can and will color what happens in Oklahoma and the other states voting on February 5. Expect further buffeting in future SurveyUSA tracking polls."

Keep an eye on the RealClearPolitics poll page for the Oklahoma Republican primary to see how the race develops.

Survey USA also polled Oklahoma Democrats -- Clinton leads with Edwards in second place. Clinton's margin has narrowed slightly in the last two weeks.

From a story in The Hill, about the possibility that John Edwards could be a kingmaker at the Democratic convention:

At the Democratic convention this August, delegates will be allowed to vote freely even if they are already pledged to a candidate, [Georgetown professor Stephen] Wayne explained. But he expected that Edwards's delegates would do his bidding.

Wayne said that Edwards's delegates have been "hand-picked" because of their loyalty.

"That loyalty would probably extend to the convention, though Democrats have a rule that would not impose loyalty," he explained.

Wayne, however, predicted that either Clinton or Obama would probably wrap up the nomination before the convention, but conceded "anything is possible."

If it's true that Democratic delegates aren't formally pledged to a candidate, that's news to me. In 1980, when Ted Kennedy challenged Jimmy Carter, Kennedy tried unsuccessfully to get a convention rule modified (rule 16(c), if memory serves) so that delegates were free to vote their conscience regardless of which candidate they had been bound to support.

Can anyone confirm whether Prof. Wayne is correct?

UPDATE: recyclemichael provides a link to this MyDD article, which cites specific party rules that seem to prove the point. And that article links to this August 12, 1980 New York Times article about Kennedy's rules maneuver at the 1980 convention. My memory was a bit off -- it was rule F(3)(c):

The rule that took force as a result of the vote reads as follows: F. Voting 3) Roll-Call Votes: (c) All delegates to the National Convention shall be bound to vote for the Presidential candidate whom they were elected to support for at least the first convention ballot, unless released in writing by the Presidential candidate. Delegates who seek to violate this rule may be replaced with an alternate of the same Presidential preference by the Presidential candidate or that candidate's authorized representative(s) at any time up to and including the Presidential balloting at the national convention.

Jackie Broyles is heartbroken, but Dunlap is determined to "take Fred Thompson and make Fred Thompson-aid":

You can bid on Jackie's painting of Fred on eBay. Don't miss the Q&A.

"Don't you want to see an old man's searing pain turned into a colorful conversation piece?"

Farewell, Fred

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It's official:

Today I have withdrawn my candidacy for President of the United States. I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort. Jeri and I will always be grateful for the encouragement and friendship of so many wonderful people.

James Taranto provides the traditional Bye-Ku:

They called him "tortoise"
But now the man with no hair
Has got out of ours

(That page has links to earlier Bye-Kus, and this page has Bye-Kus from 2004.)

For all the talk about lethargy and fire in the belly, what really seemed to be missing from the Thompson campaign was effective organization. Even for something as small scale as a race for City Council, you need someone with organizational skills and preferably some past campaign experience -- some idea of what needs to happen and when. There also has to be effective communication and coordination, and all this needs to be handled by someone other than the candidate, so that the candidate can focus on raising funds and meeting voters.

Supporters of Thompson are offering up numerous anecdotes that confirm that impression of the Fred 08 campaign. Fred had plenty of admirers who offered skills, time, and access to publicity, but the campaign had no effective means of harnessing all that good will.


I sent off a resume to the campaign in, oh, seems like about May, and never heard from them. Not even a thanks for your interest. I'd like to think there were a couple of things on my resume that would have caught their eye, and I was ready to move out of California (no great loss) but whatever. Obviously it didn't dampen my convictions that Fred was the right guy. Two weeks ago I was contacted about volunteering in California--speaking to media, that kind of thing--and I responded I'd be happy to. Nothing. Crickets.

Bryan Preston:

Early in the Fred Phenomenon I tried and tried and tried to lock in a sit-down with Fred to talk to Michelle on camera. This was last spring and summer, before his official announcement that he was even jumping in, when he lived in McLean, VA and wasn't running around the country campaigning. We were offering time here on Hot Air to make his case and show his stuff. But we could never get a straight answer out of the campaign. And this was in spite of the fact that I was promised more than once that we would get an interview, it was just a question of timing and logistics. It wasn't a case of getting the runaround. It just, from the outside, felt like there were an awful lot of moving parts that hadn't been attached to a functional machine yet.

It's surprising to me that the Thompson campaign never held (as far as I know) a teleconference to keep supportive bloggers in the loop -- many other campaigns have.

During the three-day filing period for the Oklahoma primary back in December, I became concerned when, at the end of the second day, Thompson's name wasn't on the list of candidates who had filed. I wanted to make sure the deadline hadn't escaped the campaign's attention, so I decided to call someone.

I went to the fred08.com website and could not find any contact information for a national campaign office. There were campaign offices listed for Iowa and New Hampshire, so I called the New Hampshire office. The apathetic-sounding young man on the phone said that the office's director was out, didn't know when he would be back, and not to worry, he was sure that the campaign knew about the situation and would take care of it.

I got better results when I called the Iowa office and spoke to a young woman who happened to be a native Tulsan. She promised to make some calls and to get back to me -- and she actually did. An e-mail to Steven Smith, who ran the Blogs for Fred mailing list, also got a quick response -- the campaign had filed already but had just learned that there was a problem with the paperwork.

At a Christmas reception I ran into a prominent Republican activist who had signed on early as a point of contact for the campaign in Oklahoma. I asked him how things were going and he gave me a kind of disgruntled shrug. He was hearing crickets, too.

About a week and a half ago I was contacted by Jamison Faught of the Muskogee County Republican Club. They were putting on a presidential forum, with representatives speaking on behalf of the Republican candidates. I was asked if I could show up that night to speak on Fred's behalf. Jamison told me that he had asked the Thompson campaign a month earlier to line up a speaker, and they contacted him the day before the forum to tell him they couldn't get anyone to do it. So Jamison took it upon himself to contact me and some other known Thompson supporters in Oklahoma to see if someone could step in at the last minute.

Remember that Thompson had been endorsed by Sen. Jim Inhofe, Congressman John Sullivan, Corporation Commissioner Jeff Cloud, former GOP state chairman Steve Edwards, and KFAQ morning hosts Gwen Freeman and Chris Medlock. Other activists and bloggers had announced their support for him. I'm amazed that the campaign did not have a list of available surrogates and well-connected activists to contact when opportunities like this arose. Not that I'm anything special, but I can string a few sentences together, and I have a means for getting information out. Within a few days of receiving a request for a speaker, Fred's supporters in Oklahoma should have heard from the campaign asking if we knew of anyone who could speak on his behalf at this event.

Steve Largent's 2002 campaign for governor had a similar problem. The professional campaign folks didn't seem to know what to do with the grassroots types who wanted to help Steve get elected. Contrast that with the Tom Coburn campaign two years later, which was very effective in leveraging grassroots support.

If any campaign should have been a model for Thompson, it was Coburn's successful campaign for Senate. Coburn entered the race reluctantly and late, in response to a great deal of encouragement from activists who were less than enthused about Kirk Humphreys. I wish I'd thought to make that point to someone in the campaign last summer, but I'm not sure I could have found the right person to carry that message where it needed to go.

For most of Fred's supporters (but not for all) the campaign's failure to plug us in effectively didn't dampen our desire to see him get elected. Thompson holds the right positions on nearly all the issues, and those positions have a solid underpinning in sound principle. Even when he's wrong on an issue, it's a difference of opinion on the application of a principle, not on the principle itself.

I'm sorry he's dropping out. He's still on the Oklahoma ballot, and I may still vote for him, but that will depend on how Florida affects the race. If a tactical vote for a different candidate can deprive the post-Florida front-runner of some delegates and momentum, I'll do that, as I think an open convention would be the best outcome for the Republicans this year.

MORE: Dan Paden weighs his options and settles on Huckabee.

Ace agrees about the core of Fred's appeal and tells Romney what he will have to do to pick up those voters:

A lot of former Fred supporters, and possible Romney supporters generally, acknowledge that Romney says mostly the right things. The trouble is, he seems to offer these glibly as crowd-pleasing platitudes, and they're not sure if he actually believes them.

Fred, I think, had a lot of enthusiasm because he didn't just say the right thing, he gave the right reason for believing the right thing (and the right subsidiary reason for believing the right reason). His conservatism, to many, was deeper. He didn't just have the conservative answer, but the underlying conservative assumptions supporting that answer.

If Mitt wants to seal the deal with a lot of conservatives out there, he'll offer a "What I Believe" type internet address, maybe 15 or even 20 minutes long, explaining his thinking. Not just the surface conservative conclusions, but the underlying conservative thinking. Heartfelt and inartful (not so much smiling, few applause lines, generally stodgy and somewhat wonky (at least in broad principles, not techno-wonky) and designed to appeal to conservative political geeks, not a general audience) would be the right tone.

Ace also has this intriguing entry on the "Dark Star" effect in political reporting: A reporter is made privy to a rumor about a candidate, believable but not substantial enough to report. He lets his colleagues in on the rumor, and it necessarily affects their attitude toward and coverage of the subject of the rumor, just as a large but invisible object like a black hole or dark star bends gravity. The effect can only be seen indirectly:

But the press also seems to suffer from the non-political bias of thinking they know more than they actually know, behaving as if a fact is "confirmed" when it hasn't been confirmed at all. And they don't actually print these Phantom Facts, knowing there's no actual confirmation of them -- technically abiding by the rules of journalism. But then they shape their coverage to reflect these unconfirmed Phantom Facts, putting these little nuggets of non-information out there through slant and angle.

Wouldn't it be far more honest to admit to this stuff right up front? Is it more "fair" or "honest" for the press to keep the rumors and beliefs secret from the public (and immune to refutation) while allowing these exact same rumors and beliefs to shape, distort, and (mis)inform its actual published news product?

"Immune to refutation" is key -- if the rumor isn't public, how can a candidate effectively rebut or refute it?

The rumor in Thompson's case is this, according to Fox News' Carl Cameron:

Back in March of 07 at the CPAC convention in DC several former Fred Thompson Congressional staffers told me Fred Thompson was thinking about a run. Some of his Tennessee cronies had been talking him up too.

I reported first that he was eyeing a White House bid. At the time several insiders told me OFF THE RECORD that it was largely a trial ballon to guage his popularity and float his name as a possible vice presidential nominee. I was sworn to silence.

Those insiders have now lifted the conditions on our conversations. From March to August of 07 through postponed announcement days, staff changes, firings, resignations and general disarray the Thompson camp was stunned by the incredibly positive response and didn't really know how to manage it. The trial balloon soared mighty high and he found himself being dragged into a race that he was not even sure how to run.

State of the race

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Moxie is puzzled:

I'm having a tough time understanding exactly WHO is voting in the Republican primaries and caucuses. Because it should be Republicans.

How is it that McCain, Romney and Huckabee keep winning, when good, solid conservatives like Duncan Hunter, Fred "sleepy" Thompson and RUDY barely register?

I wouldn't count Rudy as a good, solid conservative, but still, she has a point.

We haven't had one primary yet in which only registered Republicans are allowed to vote.

New Hampshire has registration by party, but allowed independents ("undeclared voters") to vote in either primary.

Michigan and South Carolina don't have registration by party. Michigan's Democratic primary was meaningless, so Democrats would have been tempted to vote in the Republican primary. South Carolina's Democratic primary isn't until next Saturday, so centrists may have decided to go ahead and vote in the Republican primary.

Florida's is the first primary where you must be a registered Republican to vote in the Republican primary.

Tonight's result is interesting because it appears that McCain and Huckabee each won three of South Carolina's six congressional districts. Huckabee won everything north of I-20 toward the mountains; McCain won everything to the south toward the ocean.

South Carolina is winner-take-all by congressional district. It is also one of the states that has been penalized with the loss of half its delegates for going too early, but it's not clear whether the lost delegates will be taken from the statewide delegates or from the congressional district delegates. If it's the former, then Huckabee wins 9 delegates and McCain wins 15. If it's the latter, then Huckabee wins 3 and McCain wins 21. I'm going to bet that the former method is used, but it may depend on which candidate has the most supporters in the state's Republican hierarchy.

CNN is keeping a delegate count and they are kind enough to show their work, detailing which delegates come from which states. I think they're wrong, however, in estimating the makeup of Iowa and Nevada delegations based on straw poll results at their caucuses. The preferences of the actual delegates elected to the convention won't be determined until those delegates are elected in April (for Nevada) and June (for Iowa).

An accurate delegate count should only include those delegates who are bound by primary results plus the announced preferences of delegates who have already been elected to go to the national convention. That means delegates bound by the New Hampshire, Michigan, and South Carolina primaries, plus the announced (but unbound) preferences of the 12 national delegates elected by Wyoming's county conventions two weeks ago, plus any announced (but unbound) preferences of Republican National Committee members who are national convention delegates ex officio.

NH: McCain 7, Romney 4, Huckabee 1
MI: Romney 20, McCain 7, Huckabee 3
SC: McCain 15, Huckabee 9

So that's McCain 29, Romney 24, Huckabee 13.

Add in the
Wyoming results: 9 of the delegates elected at their county conventions said they support Romney, 3 said they support Thompson, and 1 said he supports Hunter. They are free to change their minds between now and the national convention in September, and they may well do so. Adding them in anyway, we get to Romney 33, McCain 29, Huckabee 13, Thompson 3, Hunter 1.

CNN says they've surveyed RNC members and 6 support Romney, 3 support Huckabee, and 1 supports Giuliani. They are free to change their minds before the convention.

I wonder if CNN is only surveying RNC members who have already been re-elected. Two of Oklahoma's three RNC members won't be running for re-election; their replacements will be elected in May at the state convention.

Still, counting those in, we end up at Romney 39, McCain 29, Huckabee 16, Thompson 3, Hunter 1, Giuliani 1. 1,191 is how many you need to be nominated.

So McCain leads in terms of bound delegates, Romney leads when you include elected, unbound delegates who have announced a preference.

Florida's 57 delegates will go to the candidate with the highest vote total -- winner-take-all statewide.

On February 5, here's how it breaks down. (Delegates bound by the primary vote listed in parentheses. * means RNC members are bound.)

Winner-take-all, statewide: Arizona (50), Connecticut (27), Delaware (24*), Montana (25*), Missouri (58*), New Jersey (52*), New York (87), Utah (36*), West Virginia (18)

Winner-take-all, statewide and by congressional district: California (170), Georgia (72), Oklahoma (38)

Proportional allocation: Alabama (45), Arkansas (31), Massachusetts (40), North Dakota (26*), Tennessee (40)

Elected, but unbound: Illinois (57)

Montana and West Virginia are odd cases. Montana holds county conventions involving about 2,000 party officials statewide. A presidential preference poll will be taken and the winner will control all 25 delegates. West Virginia is holding a state convention. A roll call will be taken and if no one has 50% or more, they hold a second ballot with the top three candidates, and if necessary hold a third ballot with the top two. The candidate that prevails takes 18 delegates. Nine more will be allocated in the May primary.

Illinois has a "beauty contest" primary, but voters also elect national delegates, whose presidential preferences will be listed on the ballot. It appears that, like the Wyoming delegates, presidential preference may help a delegate get elected, but he isn't bound to stay with that preference at the convention.

So that's 812 more delegates bound and another 57 elected but not bound on Super Duper Tuesday.

Earlier tonight, Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes interviewed Sen. Fred Thompson on their Fox News program. Hannity kept coming back to horse-race type questions and to the baseless allegation that Thompson, in taking on Mike Huckabee during last Thursday's debate, was only acting as a stalking horse for John McCain.

Hannity asked three times, in one form or another, whether Thompson would now "go after McCain," who is leading in the South Carolina polls. Each time, Thompson replied that he already has been drawing distinctions between his positions and McCain's, had done so during Thursday's debate, and would continue to do so. He pointed out that Huckabee had been in the lead before Thursday and so that's where he focused his attention, but not exclusively. Thompson's response was clear, and it debunked the idea that he was somehow in cahoots with McCain.

Just a few minutes ago, at about 11:30 central, Hannity was interviewing Newt Gingrich, and Hannity said that he'd asked Thompson three times if he was going to go after McCain, but Thompson didn't answer the question.

I can't find video of either interview yet, but I'm sure they'll be posted, and I'll add links here when they are available. In the meantime, Hot Air has video of Thompson from Fox News (you know, Hannity's channel) and a transcript of his conversation with Glenn Beck, both from earlier today, making it clear where he thinks McCain is wrong on the issues.

If Hannity had been watching his own network, he wouldn't have badgered Thompson for no good reason or gone on to mischaracterize the interview.

I've become accustomed to checking RealClearPolitics every day for the latest polling numbers for key early primary states, and as a Fred Thompson supporter, I was anxious to see the impact of his stellar performance at last Thursday night's Fox News debate on the South Carolina polling numbers.

All other signs say that it made a difference. The campaign met and far exceeded its fundraising goal to pay for TV, radio, and voter contact efforts in South Carolina. (They've upped the goal twice and need $75,000 to meet that third goal of $1,000,000 raised in a week.) There are reports of standing-room-only crowds and people being turned away from his campaign appearances. Hundreds of supporters have come to the state on their own dime to volunteer for Fred.

But we haven't seen the polls change because there hasn't been any polling in South Carolina since the January 10 debate. Not a single poll. Michigan has had six polling firms -- three national and three in-state -- in the field with surveys since January 10. Florida, whose primary is still two weeks away, has had two polls in the field since Thursday.

Because South Carolina is a winner-take-all primary by congressional district, perceptions of a candidate's chances will have an impact on voter decisions. Many voters will limit their decision to those candidates who are within striking distance of first place, to have a chance at impacting who receives the state's delegates. Polls showing a post-debate Thompson surge would help persuade voters who like him on the issues that he has a chance of winning.

Is there really no polling going on in South Carolina? Are poll results being withheld for some reason? Or is there some truth to Scott Ott's latest satirical news story?

UPDATE: As a couple of commenters note, Rasmussen has new numbers for South Carolina showing Fred Thompson gaining and Mike Huckabee falling back, both in a virtual tie for second with Mitt Romney and far behind John McCain.

Also, Survey USA has polled Oklahoma about our February 5 primary. Click the links to see the Republican results and the Democratic results, including crosstabs. A couple of things stand out -- the Thompson gender gap, softness of Huckabee's support, and the difference in Huckabee's support between western and eastern Oklahoma. (Hat tip: The McCarville Report.)

Mitt Romney cliche count

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From last night's Late Night with David Letterman:

(Via Hot Air.)

I received an urgent e-mail from Jamison Faught of the Muskogee County Republican Club. They're holding a presidential forum tonight, with a supporter of each Republican presidential candidate speaking for 10 minutes on the candidates behalf. He'd like to have a speaker there to represent Fred Thompson, and he contacted me to see if I could help. I can't make it, so I'm throwing the appeal out to you -- if you'd be willing to speak on Fred's behalf, and can be at Jasper's restaurant at 1702 W Okmulgee St. in Muskogee at 7 p.m. tonight, please call Jamison Faught at [redacted] ASAP.

UPDATE: Richard Engle, an Oklahoman and president of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, will be speaking on Thompson's behalf.

(Faught told me that he asked the Thompson campaign a month ago for a speaker, but only yesterday did they notify him that they couldn't find anyone, which raises this nagging question: Shouldn't the Thompson campaign have known that Engle, a fairly prominent activist in his role as head of the "GOP wing of the Republican Party," was one of their supporters and notified him -- and me, and other Oklahomans who signed up as Friends of Fred on the website -- that there was need for a speaker?)

... or the Oaxaca caucuses.

Bill Richardson, D-Mexico?

Photo by Tulsa County GOP Vice Chairman Frazier Henke.

(If you don't get the joke, look at the text that C-SPAN posted under Richardson's name. The mistake remained uncorrected for the full length of Richardson's concession speech to his supporters.)

Tonight Fred Thompson was on Fox News on "The O'Reilly Factor," and he spoke about national security, the situation in Pakistan, and why he's the only consistent conservative in the race.

Today on his program, Rush Limbaugh asked conservative evangelicals to consider Fred Thompson:

My question for you evangelicals is this. If you're looking for a real conservative, why are you supporting Huckabee? He's completely discredited himself. What about Fred Thompson?

Thompson has the endorsement of the National Right to Life Committee PAC, which is making an independent mailing to voters in South Carolina in support of his candidacy.

And in a new video on the Fred '08 website, Thompson talks about moving on to campaign in South Carolina and gives a brief outline of the principles at the heart of his platform.

Even if you're not in an early primary state, there are several ways you can help the Fred Thompson campaign. The campaign is halfway to its goal of raising $540,000 dollars by Friday to fund ads in South Carolina. You can help by making a contribution of $25, $50, $100 or more.

Even if you can't contribute financially, the campaign would like Thompson supporters to sign up as "Friends of Fred" -- they'd like to enroll 50,000 new members by Friday.

If you're already a Friend of Fred, the campaign is asking you to help make phone calls to prospective voters in early primary states. There's a big push tomorrow to make calls into South Carolina between 5 and 9 p.m. Eastern time (4 to 8 p.m. Central).

Sorry, Rudy: If an immigration reform bill allows illegal aliens to stay in the country and become citizens, it's amnesty, even if they have to pay a financial penalty. Fred Thompson spells it out in last night's WMUR-Facebook-ABC debate:

(Here's a transcript of the ABC Democrat debate. Here's a transcript of the ABC Republican debate.)

Earlier today on NBC's Today Show, Thompson responded to yet another stupid "when ya gonna drop out" question by refocusing on his key issues -- addressing the threat of terrorism and the looming entitlement crisis. When reporter Lester Holt pressed, Thompson took a shot at the mainstream media for uncritically broadcasting a rumor of his impending withdrawal, a rumor that likely was started by a campaign that stood to benefit by knocking Fred down by a few points.

FRED THOMPSON: I'm not going to engage in that -- further beating the process issue to death. We're talking about the future of our country here and the fact that our worst enemies are trying to get their hands on nuclear weapons and we're bankrupting the next generation. That's what I'm talking about. The rest is all speculation and I don't engage in it.

HOLT: It's a fair point you make; you don't engage in it. But you were the victim of some rumors on this subject of your viability and questions if you would drop out. How much did that hurt you?

THOMPSON: Well let's think about that. It did hurt me, and the media lapped it up. It was put out by another campaign; made no sense at all.

HOLT: Which campaign?

THOMPSON: A few days before the election and made no sense at all, and I was coming strong, and the media took it up, and spread the rumor, and probably cost me two or three points in Iowa. So the lesson there is not, you know, politicians being politicians. The lesson there is that the news media really ought to check these stories out and come to me, and ask me, and take my word for it.

One commenter at the previous link wrote, "I would consider voting for Fred just for the entertainment value of watching him spend four years slapping around the drooling half-wits in the MSM."

By the way, Fred Thompson is in second place in the delegate count. Yesterday, twelve Republican county conventions in Wyoming elected the first twelve delegates to the Republican National Convention. The voters in these county conventions were the committeeman and committeewoman for each precinct, plus delegates selected by precinct meetings in December.

Eight counties elected a Mitt Romney supporter to represent them in the Twin Cities, three counties elected a Fred Thompson supporter as delegate, and one county chose a Duncan Hunter supporter. Two more delegates will be elected at the Republican state convention on May 31.

One delegate-electing county (Laramie) also elected an alternate delegate, and the eleven counties that didn't elect delegates each elected an alternate. Of the twelve alternates, five support Romney, one each support Thompson, McCain, and Hunter, and four are uncommitted. An alternate only gets to vote at the national convention if his corresponding delegate is unavailable.

The Wyoming delegates are not bound to stay with their announced preference, unlike many states (e.g. Oklahoma) where delegates are bound to support a candidate based on the primary election result. Nevertheless, the candidates for national delegate announced their presidential preference in their speeches to the county conventions, which undoubtedly influenced the result.

No national delegates were selected at Iowa's caucuses on Thursday, and the results of the Republican straw poll will likely bear no resemblance to the preferences of the 37 national delegates who will be elected at the Iowa state convention on June 14.

(A tip of the hat and a deep bow to The Green Papers, a website which has, since its founding in 1999, devoted itself to providing the nitty-gritty details about the process that the mainstream media glosses over.)

Getting closer to fulfilling a new year's resolution to get a link to my weekly column posted here in a timely fashion: This week's column in Urban Tulsa Weekly is an overview of all the elections Tulsans will be voting in this year. Here are the key dates; read the story for more background on each of the races:

January 14, 15, 16: Filing for Tulsa City Council and City Auditor.

February 5: election for school board, Tulsa Technology board, and presidential preference primary. Filing was in December.

March 4: City of Tulsa primary.

April 1: City of Tulsa general election, including charter amendments. Tulsa Technology Center board runoff, if needed. (No Tulsa County school board race drew more than two candidates, so all of those races will be settled on February 5.

June 2, 3, 4: Filing period for federal, state, and county offices.

July 29: Primary for federal, state, and county offices.

August 26: Runoff for federal, state, and county offices.

November 4: General election for federal, state, and county offices.

Romney ad, vapid and creepy at the same time:

Via Ross Douthat, who writes:

With five or so hours to go till the Iowa Caucuses, Mitt Romney has to be judged the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, but it's awfully hard to find anyone not named Hugh Hewitt who seems excited about the prospect. More than enough ink has been spilled on how his political inauthenticity, his consultant-ish pursuit of ideological correctness, has undermined any excitement surrounding his candidacy, replacing it with the resigned, "he's the best we can do" thinking that undergirds the NR endorsement and others like it. (David Brooks' column this weekend offers, I think, the last word on the subject.) For my part, though, the most alienating and off-putting quality of the Romney campaign hasn't been what's he's said, but how he's said it - the words he's chosen and the tone he's employed, which have made following the Romney campaign the equivalent of listening to nails drawn across a chalkboard.

Lest you think that was just an artifact of filming an ad, I experienced the same creepy feeling watching Romney's post-caucus interview on Fox News.

Meanwhile, Ed Rollins, a political adviser to Mike Huckabee, did his boss no favors, first by talking within eavesdropping distance of a reporter for Townhall.com:

At a hole-in-the wall Des Moines eatery, Mike Huckabee's campaign chairman loudly bashed their top rival presidential candidate Mitt Romney and made several predictions to two national television reporters....

-He distinctly talked about going negative in South Carolina and told someone on the phone to "put some good in there if you have to, with the bad. Do what you gotta do."

-Rollins let the f-bomb fly twice and told his blonde female dining companion a joke about flying the Confederate flag in the South Carolina state capitol.

-Rollins indicated several times their campaign was the victim of "dirty tricks" and that they were being unfairly outspent.

Then by showing his posterior to Chris Wallace on Fox News:

Note to Ed: Your team won tonight.

Some notes from tonight's Iowa coverage:

Republican results are here on iowagop.net, which features an interactive map showing results by county. If their server is swamped, try the Washington Post site instead. You can find Democratic statewide results here at iowacaucusresults.com. The site also has precinct results by county for each precinct.

I've been flipping back and forth between C-SPAN and C-SPAN2, showing a Democratic and Republican caucus respectively. To C-SPAN's credit, they're showing the whole caucus including the non-presidential bits -- such as platform debates and officer elections.

The beginning of the C-SPAN-televised Republican meeting in Carroll, Iowa, featured speeches by local Republicans on behalf of individual candidates. A young law student supporting McCain gave the most eloquent speech. The local chairman spoke for Romney, but his speech was faint praise -- Romney made things a little better in Taxachusetts. No one spoke for Huckabee -- would he have finished first if someone had? Thompson was represented by a young man who said The totals for the four Carroll, Iowa, Republican wards that were meeting together: McCain 95, Romney 74, Huckabee 67, Thompson 46, Paul 23, Giuliani 22, Keyes 2, Hunter 0

The GOP meeting is over, but a small number of Democrats in Des Moines Precinct 53 have stayed around after the presidential vote to debate platform resolutions. A white female college student, an Obama supporter, is arguing for a resolution that affirmative action should be based on income, not race, or else it's eliminated altogether. She says it's wrong that she should be ineligible for certain full-ride scholarships at her school just because of the color of her skin. A black teacher who says he was hired to come to Iowa from New England to help his school meet affirmative action goals is arguing in support of race-based affirmative action because race is still important. The motion was defeated.

We were eating dinner with Fox News on in the background. My 11-year-old son, a Harry Potter fan, looked up at B-roll of a Republican candidate's campaign appearance and said, "Who is that guy that sort of looks grey? I thought it was Lord Voldemort." Can you guess which GOP candidate it was?



UPDATE: Huckabee just walked to the podium to the Liberty Bell March. (You know, the Monty Python theme.) Chuck Norris is visible behind Huck's left shoulder. (Or is it that Huck is at Chuck's right hand?) I can't find the right image online, but my son and I both think Mike Huckabee looks like Mr. Tweedy from Chicken Run.

If you were listening to 1170 KFAQ this morning (I was on with Gwen Freeman, filling in for Chris Medlock, who had lost his voice), you'd have heard producer Elvis Polo taunting me and Gwen about a story on the Politico website, speculating on what would happen if Fred Thompson didn't finish strongly in tonight's Iowa caucus. This isn't the first time that Politico has posted a story seemingly designed to demoralize Thompson's supporters and shift the focus away from issues. (The last time this happened, video came out showing that Politico reporter Roger Simon's account of the event was wrong and misleading.)

Thompson debunked the story on several media outlets and told a rally this morning that it's time to "shock the world." The best way to help make that happen is to use your phone to encourage Iowa Republicans to turn out and support Fred Thompson. If you're a Thompson supporter, if you've watched the videos and read the position papers and are convinced, as I am, that he's the right man to be our next president, take some time this afternoon to phone for Fred.

The presidential straw poll that will get most of the attention at Thursday night's Iowa precinct caucuses is only a small part of the business that Republican voters will conduct. On the home page of the Polk County Republican Party website, chairman Ted Sporer outlines what will happen at caucus meetings on January 3. Since it is on the homepage, and therefore likely to be replaced with something new after Thursday night, I'm taking the liberty of putting the entire text here.

Season's Greetings.

We have seen months of candidates campaigning here in Iowa with ads on the television surveys over the phone, and literature in the mailbox. Finally the caucus season is upon us! The race is fluid and Republicans are ready to pick their nominee. All eyes are upon Iowa Caucuses, the First in the Nation, on January 3, 2008.

Thank you for visiting our site. As hard as it seems to believe, the 2008 Caucuses are almost upon us. The Republican Party will caucus on January 3, 2008 at 7:00 o'clock, p.m. The Democrats are convening at 6:30 so please disregard any information that you might have seen or heard that our caucuses are at the same time, they're not.

With so much at stake and so much Republican interest in each of our candidates we expect a large turnout. You should try and arrive early, around 6:30. Most of the larger precincts will have more than one check in lines but delay is always possible. We are also sharing some facilities with the Democrats and we want to allow everyone time to get organized and to participate.

You must be a registered Republican who is at least seventeen and one half years of age to participate. You may only caucus in the precinct in which you are registered to vote. You can register as a Republican at your precinct caucus-voter registration forms will be available. However, you can only be registered in one place at a time so a new registration form on caucus night will void any earlier form. Please remember, completing a fraudulent voting registration is a crime.

The Presidential Straw Poll is only one of the many items of business that will be conducted at your caucus. You will also elect:

Two members of the Polk County Central Committee. Central committee members form the backbone of our volunteer force. The term of office is two years. Central committee membership has nothing to do with your support for a Presidential candidate. As a central committee member you will be asked to serve on a subcommittee and to provide service to the party at events and for political projects such as our vote by mail program.

Delegates to the county convention. Each precinct has an allocated number of delegates, ranging from a low of 1 to a high of 33. The CountyConvention is March 8 at West Des Moines Valley High School. The gavel falls at 10:00 a.m. Delegates at the County convention will elect a smaller group of delegates to the Third Congressional District (April 26 in Grinnell) and State Conventions (June 13-14 in Des Moines).

Alternates. Each precinct elects alternate delegates who will represent that precinct at the County convention if the elected delegates cannot serve.

Junior Delegates. Each precinct will also select junior delegates to the County Convention. Junior delegates are those interested young Republicans who will not be old enough to vote in the November 2008 general election.

Platform Convention Delegates. Each committee will elect one person to represent that precinct at the Platform Convention. The platform convention is January 19 at Valley Southwoods in West Des Moines.

We have included information about the Polk County Caucuses on our website. Please check each of the three links to the right for more information.

Thanks again for visiting our website. Victory in 2008 begins with the Iowa caucuses. Please feel free to contact us with any remaining questions.

Ted Sporer

Polk County Chair

Other links on the site list the locations of each of the 183 precinct meetings (mostly in school classrooms) and set out the order of business. (The order of business seems to have been put together by a pro-life group. On the item for electing delegates to the county convention, it states, "It is perfectly proper to ask anyone running where they stand on the right to life issue." And on the next item, "Discussion of Platform Issues," it states, "It is at this time that you will want to submit the Pro-life Resolution so that it can be voted on.")

The process will be slightly different in smaller counties. Russ from Winterset describes the process in Madison County:

Madison County's got somewhere around 17,000 people (accoring to the 2000 census), and my contact is thinking that this year will be an overflow crowd like '88. Our countywide caucus will be held at the Winterset High School auditorium, with the individual precincts breaking down & voting in classrooms after the joint presentations, and a crowd of more than 800 or so will mean it's "standing room only". Assuming that the county's 50-50 split between the two parties (Iowa's teetered between the parties lately, so that's probably a fair cop, if you count affiliated voters only), that means that a 10% turnout will give us somewhere around 600 people (assuming 1/3 of voters are Rep, Dem and Ind).

At the beginning of this post I referred to the presidential straw poll. For Republicans, at least, the vote that will be taken at these caucuses is completely non-binding. The allocation of delegates to presidential candidates won't happen until the state Republican convention in June. (See the Green Papers entry on Iowa Republicans for details of the process.)

The process for Iowa Democrats is different: Precincts will pick delegates to their county conventions based on presidential preference, but delegates to the national convention won't be chosen until the state convention in June, and only then will it be known with any certainty how many delegates are pledged to each candidate.

For both parties, any attempt to allocate Iowa's delegates to candidates prior to June will almost certainly be incorrect.

The Iowa caucuses aren't that different from the way delegate selection was handled in Oklahoma prior to the establishment of a presidential preference primary in 1988. If memory serves, Oklahoma's Republican caucuses were often held before Iowa or New Hampshire. We just didn't market them as well.

SeeDubya is fed up with talking heads and pundits who are too busy trashing the style of Fred Thompson's campaign to pay due attention to the substance of the man and his principles:

Let's lay this moron-meme to rest right now. I don't care if you're for Fred or not, and I don't care if you attack his issues or his record. Actually, scratch that. I'd love for pundits to start talking about his policy positions and his voting record! Exactly which aspect of his plan for border security or social security do you disagree with? What part of his rhetoric rings false? Which part of his doctrine of resolve, or his understanding of first principles do you disagree with, and which candidate's principles are better? That's a debate, and that's what we're supposed to be having now.

"Fire in the belly" is a completely meaningless statement. It's subjective and irrefutable--or, more precisely, it's unfalsifiable. You can't prove it, and beyond what I've laid out here you can't disprove it, so it just hangs around like a bad smell. It's the recourse of political commentators too lazy or too biased or unable to come up with serious objections to Fred. From now on when I hear pundits trot out that canard, I'm going to ask whether they really want their own jobs--you know, whether they're a just little bit lazy, whether they're just phoning it in, and whether they've got any fire in their own bellies.

SeeDubya begins the post with a long list of sacrifices and efforts Thompson is making, which ought to be enough to prove to any honest observer that Thompson thinks he's the best choice for president and is working hard to convince voters of that fact. But the mainstream media narrative is set even for much of the conservative media: Every ill-timed yawn or apparent frown becomes more "evidence" that Fred Thompson really doesn't want to be president, so you don't need to listen to his ideas or policies, and you don't need to bother to give him money or volunteer for his campaign.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Election 2008 category from January 2008.

Election 2008: December 2007 is the previous archive.

Election 2008: February 2008 is the next archive.

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