Politics::Election 2012 Category

A couple of weeks ago, I was showing my six-year-old son the maps of past presidential election results on 270towin.com. We scrolled through the years, as the nation's early parties came and went, noticed odd split-state results, and then looked at the projected map for this year, with red, blue, and beige states.

He wanted to figure out which way the beige swing states would go, so he had me scroll back and forth through the 2000, 2004, and 2008 maps, and for each state he picked the party that had won a state most often of the last three elections. (Not sure why he didn't want to go further back; maybe years that begin with 1 just seem too weird to him.)

Here's his map: Romney 285, Obama 253. Romney takes FL, VA, NC, OH, CO, NV, NH; Obama takes PA, MI, WI, IA.

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My own guess? I think Obama wins NV, Romney wins WI and IA, plus one of the Maine congressional districts. Philadelphia voter intimidation keeps PA in Obama's column. Romney 296, Obama 242.

Comedian Steven Crowder is at the church trunk-or-treat, and he's only trying to be fair. The kids don't think its fair.

"I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." -- candidate Barack Obama to Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbach, 2008.

Brak for President!

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"A vote for Brak is a vote for beans everyday!"

The original ad from 1952:

"We don't want John or Dean or Harry.
Let's do the big job right.
Let's get in step with the guy that's hep.
Get in step with Ike."

Many more presidential TV commercials here from 1952 to the present : "The Living Room Candidate."

Thumbnail image for IVoted.jpgToday, October 12, 2012, is the last day for Oklahoma residents to register to vote for the November 6, 2012, election. You can download a voter registration application and print it, but you have to sign it (swearing an oath that you are eligible to vote -- in general, 18 years old, a U. S. Citizen, and a resident of Oklahoma, not a felon, not incapacitated) and submit it to the election board for processing and approval.

The Tulsa County Election Board, 555 N. Denver Ave., will be open until midnight tonight to register voters. Other counties may also have extended hours; here's a list of county election board locations and phone numbers and county election board email addresses.

I'm really not trying to encroach on Tasha Does Tulsa's territory -- she has the definitive guide to Tulsa area pumpkin patches, by the way -- but there are so many interesting things to do in and around Tulsa this week that I decided to put a bunch of events into one big entry.

artur_davis_ocpa.jpgOn Wednesday, October 10, 2012, the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs will hold its annual Liberty Gala at the Downtown Doubletree Hotel. Featured speakers are former Congressman Artur Davis and political analyst and author John Fund.

Also on Wednesday, from 6:15 to 8:00 pm at the Schusterman-Benson Library, 3333 E. 32nd Place, the League of Women Voters will conduct a Senate District 39 forum between the incumbent, Senator Brian Crain, and the challenger, neighborhood leader Julie Hall.

Also on Wednesday, and only on Wednesday, October 10, 2012, Cinemark Tulsa, 10802 E 71st St, will show Gone with the Wind, at 2 pm and 7 pm. It's part of a series of landmark films -- next Wednesday they'll show Mary Poppins.

Trinity Episcopal Church, 501 S. Cincinnati Ave. in downtown Tulsa, is hosting Gloriae Dei Cantores (Singers to the Glory of God). Tonight, Tuesday, October 9, 2012, they will present a workshop on Gregorian chant at 7:30 pm, followed by a sung service of Compline (prayers at the close of day) at 9:00 pm in Trinity's beautiful Gothic Revival sanctuary. Both events are free and open to the public.

Then on Thursday, October 11, 2012, at 7:30 pm at Trinity, the Gloriae Dei Cantores will present the annual Thomas Matthews Memorial Concert. Matthews was the long-time organist and choirmaster of Trinity and a renowned composer of choral anthems. The concert will be followed by a gala reception. The event is free and childcare will be available.

The Tulsa Hackathon begins Friday night, October 12, 2012, at 6 pm and runs all night long and all day Saturday until 9 pm, at the Tulsa Fab Lab, 710 S. Lewis Ave. App developers will gather for a 24-hour marathon design and coding session, fueled by pizza and beer, to develop new apps for Tulsa's benefit.

Thumbnail image for Johnnie-Lee-Wills-Rompin'-FrontUG.jpgSaturday night, October 13, 2012, 7 pm to 9 pm, music historian John Wooley will present his weekly western swing broadcast on Public Radio 89.5 KWGS, "Swing on This," live from Cain's Ballroom, with a dance in honor of bandleader Johnnie Lee Wills' 100th birthday. The Tulsa Playboys will be joined by Cowbop, a California western swing band. It's a benefit for KWGS, and reserved table seats are $40, available at Cain's box office, Ida Red, Reasor's, and Starship, or by calling 866-977-6849.

pray_campaign_button.jpegAuthor Eric Metaxas, who has written biographies of two men whose fervent Christian faith impelled them to act decisively and sacrificially in the realm of politics -- William Wilberforce of England and Dietrich Bonhoeffer of Germany -- calls Christians in America to fast and pray for the 40 days leading up to our general election. That means starting this Thursday, September 27, 2012 (links added):

We often worry and/or complain about what's happening in our nation, but can we doubt that God wants us to pray about it in a concerted way? Can there be a time more conducive to focusing our attentions than the 40 days before this extremely important election? Exactly how we do this is up to each of us -- perhaps you could fast one day per week, or gather with friends to pray once per week -- but won't you join me in this, believing and knowing that God longs for His people to take their concerns to Him -- to be anxious "for nothing" and to pray boldly and with faith and trust Him with the results? So many people wonder: "What can I do?" We can do this. If the church has forgotten that God answers prayers, there really is no hope. Jesus said: "Ask and it will be given unto you." So won't you join me in asking? And please tell your pastors and friends about this. God bless you. And may God bless America for His purposes -- so that we can be a blessing to the rest of the world.

If you plan to be part of a concerted season of prayer and fasting leading up to the election, let us know about it in the comments below or send me an email.

In case you missed it, here's the video of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, serving as Democratic National Convention chairman last week, presiding over a vote to amend the Democratic national platform on two controversial points -- the restoration of a reference to God and to Jerusalem as Israel's capitol -- that had been removed by the Platform Committee:

It seems fairly clear that there were not two-thirds in the affirmative on any of the three attempts at a vote.

It's not clear to me what the woman next to Villaraigosa -- the parliamentarian, I assume -- meant by "gotta let them what they're gonna do." It could be taken as, "All you can do is call for the vote; it's their decision." Or it could be taken as, "Let them holler, but the ruling is there to be read off of the teleprompter."

Two things are striking about the wide shots of the crowd -- how empty the convention hall was and how small it was. At the Republican National Convention, all the delegates were on the arena floor, with guests and media in the stadium seats. The Democrats used the stadium seats to accommodate the delegates.

When the mainstream media were too busy lining up to service Slick Willie for old time's sake (metaphorically speaking), blogger Jeff Dunetz did the heavy lifting we used to expect reporters to do. Dunetz compared this year's platform with 2008's and uncovered the dropping of the reference to God and the reference to Jerusalem as Israel's capital, along with three other key pro-Israel points in the 2008 platform regarding Hamas, the status of Palestinian refugees, and the pre-1967 borders. For his efforts, Dunetz was called a troll by Dave Weigel, a member by his own admission of the mainstream media herd too busy enjoying the show to dig into the substance of the convention.

There were, reportedly, 15,000 members of the media in Charlotte, of whom maybe 14,980 could have given a damn about the party platform. On Tuesday night, when the Obama campaign and the DNC released its platform, none of the bigfoot media outlets in town spent time on the text.

Shame on them for missing the meat of the story.

But Tuesday morning, Jeff Dunetz already had the story, and by Wednesday it had caught fire, forcing the Obama campaign to go into damage control mode. Not paying close attention to the DNC, I was tipped to the scandal by a Jewish friend who announced on Facebook that, despite his dislike for Romney's economic policies, he could not bring himself to vote for Obama, because of these platform changes.

It amazes me that President Obama's team wasn't watching the platform committee deliberations closely enough to squelch these changes in committee. This last minute fix suggests that the Obama campaign was happy with the changes, until they were frightened by the public outcry from many of their supporters, or that the campaign simply doesn't have its act together.

By the way, although the reference to Jerusalem was restored, the other three pro-Israel points were not restored. It will be interesting to see whether the platform change (and its obvious rejection by rank-and-file Democrats) will be sufficient to win back the pro-Israel voters who announced plans to drop Obama over these changes.

P. S. I'd like to say the Republicans were better than the Democrats, but something very similar happened at the Republican National Convention the week before, with Speaker John Boehner appearing not to hear accurately the delegates objecting to a radical change to the Republican party rules pushed by a Romney ally.

Somehow tonight around the dinner table we got to talking about the Electoral College -- the 538 people who really get to vote for President of the United States. I talked about the two groups of seven Oklahomans that will be on our November 6 ballot -- seven pledged to vote for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, seven pledged to vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden -- about how Oklahomans will vote for one group or another, and the group with the most votes will gather in Oklahoma City in December to cast their ballots for president and vice president. Those ballots will be sent to Congress, where they will be opened in early January and counted in a joint session of Congress, and if a candidate gets at least 270 electoral votes, he will become president.

As I describe how electors vote, my 12-year-old daughter came up with a great question: What if an elector doesn't vote for the candidate he's pledged to vote for? I told her about faithless electors in the past, like the fellow in 1976 who voted for Ronald Reagan instead of Gerald Ford, but that they had never swayed an election. I told her about the year she was born, 2000, when it was close enough that as few as two faithless electors would have changed the result, and there was talk of Democratic efforts to pry loose a few Bush electors by threatening electors with exposure of embarrassing personal information. A faithless elector might be subject to fines, but it wouldn't change the effect of his vote.

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My daughter's response to all this was that it would be important for the Republican Party not to choose Ron Paul supporters as electors. I told her that Oklahoma's Republican elector candidates had already been picked and explained how one was chosen at each congressional district convention, and two were chosen at the state convention. Larry Williamson, a long-time party volunteer who had supported Santorum in the primary, was nominated from our district. He spoke about the history and importance of the electoral college and pledged to support the party nominee. He won over a handful of other candidates, including our nominee from 2008 -- she'd already had a turn. I explained that we try to pick people with a long history of party involvement and loyalty, rather than someone who is new and whose loyalties aren't yet proven.

She also asked about what would happen if Ron Paul supporters broke off to form a third party -- another great question. After the dinner dishes were cleared away, I opened the laptop and showed her the map of the 1992 presidential election, and how Bill Clinton won the presidency with only 43% of the vote nationwide and a majority only in his home state of Arkansas and the District of Columbia. I told her about George H. W. Bush's broken promise on taxes, Ross Perot's candidacy and how it siphoned off enough votes from Bush in enough states to allow Clinton to win a plurality and the electoral votes.

We looked at the 2000 vote, too, when the Green Party took enough votes in New Hampshire alone to have flipped the state and the election to Al Gore. I showed the kids the 1968 map -- the last time a third-party candidate (George Wallace) won electors by finishing first in a state. In many states that Nixon won, it's plausible that Wallace pulled enough votes to keep Humphrey from winning -- enough votes might have changed to give Humphrey the win in a head-to-head battle.

That led to a conversation about runoffs. We looked at the 1992 Georgia Senate election, when the Democrat incumbent, Wyche Fowler, finished just ahead of Republican Paul Coverdell, but with a Libertarian in the race, no one had a majority. Three weeks later, the Republican won the head-to-head runoff with the Democrat. Then we looked at the 1991 Louisiana governor's race, when incumbent governor Buddy Roemer, whom polls showed beating each of the other candidates in a head-to-head matchup, finished a close third, leaving Louisiana voters a distasteful choice in the runoff between "the crook" (Edwin Edwards) and "the Klansman" (David Duke).

One way to avoid that sort of problem is multiple runoffs, removing one candidate each round, which my daughter observed would take forever. The alternative vote (instant runoff voting) is another way to solve the problem, and we looked at the seven-candidate 2011 Irish presidential election, which went through four counts, to see how that system works.

We looked one year's results in California, which featured a long list of odd parties, including Communist candidate Guy Hall. Yes, there's a Communist Party in the U. S., and they used to run their own presidential candidates. Nowadays they just encourage their members to vote for Democrats.

The six-year-old boy was mainly interested in the meaning of the different colors on the maps. My daughter wanted to know why the Democrats were red and the Republicans blue, contrary to what she usually sees. I told her that it made more sense for Democrats to be red, since red symbolizes socialism and communism all over the world, while blue is the color of Britain's Conservative Party. Dave Leip of U. S. Election Atlas says his color scheme has nothing to do with ideology or symbolism; he picked a scheme when he started his site circa 1996, before the famous 2000 USA Today map of results by county which brought about a standardization on Republican red and Democrat blue.

MORE: Great comment from pollster "Blue Pat" McFerron, who also remembers when red was reserved for communism & socialism and blue was for capitalism.

The last three evenings were occupied with an election night watch party (disappointing results, but some good conversation late into the night that only confirmed my conviction that Oklahoma is much the poorer that someone as principled, intelligent, and sincere as Shane Saunders won't be serving in the state legislature next year), dinner with visiting customers, and grading Greek papers.

There's a lot I'd like to say about the rules changes that Romney's forces pushed through the Republican National Convention Rules Committee last week and the convention as a whole on Tuesday, but no time to say much now, so I'll point you to four articles that cover the important details and correctly comprehend the significance of what came to be tagged on Twitter as #goppowergrab.

First, just a few points from me:

1. This wasn't about Ron Paul and his supporters. It was about shutting down grassroots conservatives of all stripes -- old timers and newcomers alike -- in favor of the wheeler-dealers and K Street insiders.

2. It wasn't about 2012. It was about 2016 -- protecting Romney from a conservative challenger if he turns out to be a RINO in office -- and 2020 -- letting the next establishment candidate sew up the nomination as quickly as McCain did in 2008. The rules don't just govern this convention; they govern the party until the next convention, and they set precedent for future rules.

3. Too many conservatives want to know why we wind up with candidates like Dole, McCain, Romney, but then they dismiss rules disputes as "inside baseball," not worth noticing, not worth fighting about. Folks, it all starts here. Rules shape the race. Rules shape the structure of the party and the distribution of power. If you want to debug the system, you have to analyze the source code.

4. I had been trying for some time, without much success, to get conservative bloggers to pay attention to this issue. Back in January I'd suggested to a conference planner that the "inner workings of the Republican Party" should be a panel topic at the next conservative bloggers conference, with a panel made up of bloggers who, like myself, had been involved in Republican Party politics:

I see a lot of frustrated commentary from conservative bloggers about the GOP, often anthropomorphizing the party as a monolithic entity, when it's really a complex system of individuals, forces, rules, and institutions. Rather than blame the party as a whole and attack the symptoms with no lasting impact, conservatives need to identify and target the causes of the problems we see, and conservative bloggers can play an important role in providing context and directing activist energy in productive ways.

More recently I suggested that any bloggers who could be in Tampa before the convention began should report on the Rules Committee meeting, as I had done in 2004 and 2008, specifically mentioning the possibility of an effort to undo the primary calendar reforms that governed the 2012 primary cycle, reforms that this time around prevented a super-frontloaded national primary. As far as I know, no conservative bloggers reported from the meeting itself, and there weren't any conservative-leaning news outlets there either. Live tweets (which I captured with the GOP 2012 Rules Twitter list) were coming from reporters with Buzzfeed, CNN, Huffington Post, and Politico.

If more conservative bloggers and reporters had been paying attention from the beginning, and if Team Romney and the Rules Committee knew we were paying attention, perhaps some of the Romney changes would not have been put forward by the Romney people or won the Rules Committee's approval.

All that said, here are four well-done articles on the controversy and its aftermath:

Washington Examiner's Tim Carney: Republican leaders trample their grass roots in Tampa

Michelle Malkin: RNC Power Grab: The Aftermath

FreedomWorks' Dean Clancy: Romney's "RNC Power Grab": What Really Happened

Mark America: Becoming a Top-Down Party of Nothing

I hate to have to miss the Republican National Convention this year, but it's especially tough to miss the convention's Rules Committee proceedings the week before the convention. I was one of a handful of reporters and bloggers covering the 2004 and 2008 Rules Committee proceedings, and I suspect I was the only one covering them that had served on GOP rules committees at the county, congressional district, and state level.

So I had half an eye on my Twitter stream on Friday as the 2012 Republican National Convention Rules Committee was in session. A handful of new and old media reporters, occasionally joined by actual rules committee members, were live-tweeting the event: Zeke Miller of Buzzfeed, Jon Ward of the Huffington Post, Peter Hamby of CNN, James Hohmann of Politico; Chris Brown, rules committee member from Alabama, Iowa State Chairman A. J. Spiker, and Oklahoma rules committee member Stuart Jolly, head of Americans for Prosperity Oklahoma.

At the meeting, Mitt Romney's forces, spearheaded by former Bush 41 chief of staff John Sununu as committee chairman and Bush 43 / Romney lawyer and lobbyist Ben Ginsberg, pushed a bushel basket full of significant changes to the way the Republican Party selects its presidential nominee and elects delegates to the national convention. While the GOP's presumptive nominee is expected to have some influence over the conduct of the convention, I've never seen such a extreme attempt by a nominee to subvert the fundamental structure of the party. It reminds me of Tony Blair taking a metaphorical ax to the House of Lords after his election in 1997.

Some background: At each quadrennial Republican National Convention, the delegates to the convention approve a set of rules to govern the convention itself and the party until the next convention four years later. That includes defining the nominating process and the formula for delegate allocation to be used four years hence. The vote on the floor of the convention is usually a formality, a voice vote, over in a minute with no debate. The full body of convention delegates are voting on the recommendation of the convention rules committee, a group consisting of two delegates (one male, one female) selected by each state delegation. The convention rules committee meets the week before the convention. The committee chairman is appointed by the RNC Chairman, usually in accordance with the wishes of the presumptive nominee. There is typically one committee member who is there specifically to push the nominee's preferred rules.

Taken as a whole, the Romney "reforms" are designed to undo the reforms approved between the 2008 and 2012 convention, which slowed down the nominating process and subjected the eventual nominee to a great deal of scrutiny. The Romney rules would compress and front-load the calendar once again to protect any future establishment-backed candidate from enduring a similar level of scrutiny, favoring the next-in-line Republican with the biggest fundraising and name recognition advantage and hindering any insurgent campaign from building on a surprise win in a small, early state. The Romney "reforms" would also put control of delegate selection in the hands of the presidential campaigns and increase the threshold for putting a candidate's name in nomination from a plurality of five state delegations to a majority of eight state delegations.

The Romney rules would also allow the Republican National Committee to amend party rules in between conventions. This would be a radical departure from Republican Party practice; the GOP passes rules at the national convention and they remain in force for four years. In 2008, however, a precedent was set to allow a one-time, limited-purpose amendment: A commission was established to recommend new rules and a new calendar for the 2012 presidential nominating process, with an up-or-down RNC vote on adopting the report as a whole.

This time around the Romneyites got rules committee approval for most of their proposals, but some were altered and one failed outright: An attempt to raise the threshold for a minority committee report from 25% to 40%. Opposition to the Romney coup was led by Virginia national committeeman Morton C. Blackwell, the Republican National Committee's institutional memory and founder of the Leadership Institute. From live tweets of reporters on the scene, it appeared that most of the support for the Romney Revolution came from northern, small state, unsuccessful parties, while successful, large, southern state parties opposed the rules changes.

Since convention delegates are apportioned to each state by population with bonuses for Republican electoral success, a win for RINOs in the rules committee, where Massachusetts has as much power as Texas, is no guarantee of a win on the convention floor.

Following adjournment, minority reports were circulated and appear to have received signatures from enough rules committee members (at least 25%) to move forward. The current rule requires a signed petition to be presented to the chairman, vice chairman, or secretary of the rules committee within an hour of the approval of the majority report in order to come before the convention as a minority report. I have not heard whether or not this was accomplished, but there was one report that John Sununu went into hiding to avoid being served with the report by the deadline.

According to a letter from RNC member Morton Blackwell of Virginia to state delegation chairmen, even if the minority report moves forward, the support of at least six state delegations will be required to force a roll call vote. Blackwell states that tremendous pressure is being applied to rules committee members to get them to retract their signatures on the minority reports.

Romney's heavyhanded efforts, by way of Sununu and Ginsberg, to reshape the party in a top-down direction will undo months of fence-mending with the grassroots conservatives whose enthusiasm he needs to win in November. Whether a minority report comes before the convention or not, there's a good chance for some effort to defeat the proposed rules. Even if the challenge to Romney's rules fails, he will have provoked exactly the kind of prime-time conflict presumptive nominees usually seek to avoid, all in an effort to insulate himself and future establishment candidates from grassroots influence and accountability.

Supporters of Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul should join together to oppose Romney's rules coup.

If you happen to know someone in Tampa as a delegate to the convention, drop them an email or Facebook message and encourage them to vote against the Romney majority report and to support the minority report. It may also help to contact your state Republican Party headquarters to register your concerns. The phone number for Oklahoma Republican HQ is (405) 528-3501. Email addresses for the state chairman and vice chairman, national committeeman and national committeewoman are on the Oklahoma GOP's contact page.

I will consider the actions (or failures to act) of our state party leaders and delegates on these matters a litmus test that will influence my support for their future ambitions and initiatives.

LINKS:

The Republican Party rules approved in 2008, as amended by RNC adoption of the commission report in 2010.

My GOP 2012 Rules Committee Twitter list.

Shane Vander Hart, Caffeinated Thoughts, Mitt Romney's Assault on the Grassroots at the RNC:

Mitt Romney's legal advisor, Ben Ginsburg, has been attacking grassroots activism within the Republican Party during the Convention of the Rules Committee that met Friday prior to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL. I was told late yesterday that one of the amendments that he offered and was passed by the committee changes the RNC rules so that the presumptive nominee and the state party can decide who the delegates are that can go to the national convention. The language of the rule states that the presidential nominee and state party can disavow any delegate.

These are essentially the people who write the platform. Think about the implications of this: If the nominee is anti-life, he or she, can essential disavow any pro-life delegate. If he is in favor of same-sex marriage, he can disavow those delegates. This gives the nominee too much influence over the party and it diminishes the grassroots who choose the delegates to send. It is a top-down approach which favors the establishment.

Letter from Dave Nalle of Republican Liberty Caucus opposing the Romney power grab:

The presidential nomination, which was supposed to be the focus [of the convention], is taking a backseat to a growing controversy over an attempt by a small group of elite party insiders and the Romney campaign to fundamentally change the rules and structure of the party to disenfranchise grassroots Republicans activists and turn the GOP from a party of the people into a party of top-down governance from a select class of professional political organizers.

Buzzfeed: Romney Executes Republican Party Power-Grab:

The Republican National Convention Rules Committee voted 63-38 to approve a new rule allowing granting the Republican National Committee -- and Mitt Romney -- sweeping new powers to amend the governing document of the GOP.

The move came at the encouragement of Mitt Romney supporters on the committee, including Romney's top lawyer Ben Ginsberg, who stressed that it would grant "flexibility" to Romney and the committee to adapt to changing political environments. The rule allows the RNC to amend the party's rules without a vote by the full Republican National Convention. And it offers the Republican Establishment a new tool to keep at by Tea Party initiatives that threaten to embarrass or contradict party leadership and stray from a planned message....

Virginia delegate and RNC member Morton Blackwell strenuously objected to the proposed rule change, calling it "the most awful proposed amendments I've seen presented to this committee."

"This is dangerous, it amounts to a power grab," he said. "We are abandoning the historic process by which are rules are adopted."

The Romney allies waited until Friday to propose the amendment, choosing to avoid giving the opposition time to organize by proposing it at the preliminary Rules meeting on Wednesday or during more than three years of RNC Rules Committee discussions.

Business Insider: There Was Major Drama At The GOP Convention Friday, And It Ended With John Sununu Fleeing The Building:

The drama Friday centered around a contentious meeting of the powerful Rules Committee, where Romney's campaign lieutenants, led by his legal counsel Ben Ginsberg, pushed through several changes that would give Romney broad authority over the Republican nominating process.

According to one source who was at the meeting, the saga ended with former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu, the committee chair, hightailing it out of the building before committee members could submit dissenting minority opinions, or "minority reports."...

"The rules say that you have an hour after the meeting, but within 15 minutes, we couldn't find [Chairman Sununu] anywhere," Ryan, a Ron Paul supporter and member of Maine's delegation, said. "Finally, we asked an RNC official if they had seen former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu. He said, 'John Sununu! Everyone's looking for him! But he left the building.'"

Buzzfeed: Grassroots Backlash Against Romney Campaign's Rules Changes

The Republican National Convention Rules Committee revolted against the Romney campaign on Friday, after more than six hours of domination by top Romney lawyer Ben Ginsberg.

Ginsberg, who had forced through a series of amendments to make it more difficult for an insurgent candidate to earn delegates to the national convention and earn a spot on the convention ballot, tried to raise the threshold for obtaining "minority reports."...

Drew McKissick, a delegate from South Carolina objected, noting that the rules change could also apply to that same contentious rules committee meeting if approved.

"He is systematically trying to prevent minorities from having even any remote opportunity of being heard," followed Virginia delegate Morton Blackwell to rave applause from the committee. "This is wrong, it's gonna hurt us, it's gonna hurt our presidential candidate."

After being publicly rebuked, Ginsberg withdrew his amendment, prompting further cheers from the committee.

Michael Duncan, FreedomWorks: Stop the Establishment from Rewriting the RNC Rules:

As you may know the Romney camp is pushing new rules that would strip grassroots activists of any meaningful ability to participate in presidential politics. The process has always been bottom-up, but Romney officials have rewritten the rules so that the nominee can stifle any dissent on the platform committee and even unseat delegates. Make no mistake, this will weaken the process by which Republicans chose their candidate for president and push the grassroots out of the party process....

Please locate the phone number of your State Republican Party Headquarters below, call them immediately, and tell them to oppose Romney's new rules that strip grassroots activists of the ability to participate in the Republican platform process.

I was encouraged to come across a new poll showing conservative former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz pulling ahead of establishment moderate Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the race to be the Republican nominee for Texas's open U. S. Senate seat. Dewhurst finished first in the May 29 primary, but fell short of the required majority, with 45% to Cruz's 34%, so Dewhurst and Cruz will be on the July 31, 2012, runoff ballot.

The new PPP poll, taken on July 10 and 11, has Cruz at 49% and Dewhurst at 44%. This is a dramatic reversal from the same pollster's final pre-primary poll, which gave Dewhurst a commanding 59%-34% lead in a runoff with Cruz.

This reversal has happened despite Dewhurst's strong political pull and establishment support. The Lieutenant Governor is said by many to be the most powerful office in Texas, and anyone with interests at the State Capitol would be foolish not to endorse Dewhurst, as he would be in a position to punish them should he lose this election and remain as Lt. Governor. As http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/301055/will-fear-decide-texas-senate-race-katrina-trinkoNational Review's Katrina Trinko wrote back in May:

In Texas, the lieutenant governorship is a hugely powerful position. Its occupant is the leader of the state senate, meaning he appoints committee chairmen and members, determines the order in which bills are taken up, and decides which committees get to handle specific pieces of legislation.

At the very least, everyone has to be aware of the sway Dewhurst will have if he remains lieutenant governor. And according to state insiders backing Dewhurst's most prominent rival, former state solicitor general Ted Cruz, it goes beyond that: They say the Dewhurst campaign has made it clear that those who want to see their legislation pass if Dewhurst remains lieutenant governor had better back Dewhurst for senate. The Dewhurst campaign denies this categorically.

One source familiar with Texas politics who supports Cruz says that he knows "a number of significant donors" who also have business interests in the state and have been "told by their lobbyists in Austin, 'Don't dare give money to Ted, don't endorse Ted . . . because if you do you'll never get anything else through in Austin.'"

So despite the leverage for arm-twisting and the list of endorsers that "reads like the Chamber of Commerce directory for the State of Texas" and includes public employees organizations/unions, Dewhurst's star is falling fast. Cruz, meanwhile, has donations from a broader array of Texans, plus endorsements from national conservative leaders and organizations, the troops on the front lines of the fight in Washington for fiscal sanity, traditional values, the sanctity of human life, 2nd Amendment rights, and a strong national defense.

Cruz's endorsers include FreedomWorks for America PAC, Club for Growth PAC, Eagle Forum PAC, Dr. James Dobson, Sen. Jim DeMint, Sen. Tom Coburn, Sen. Mike Lee, Sen. Pat Toomey, Sen. Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin, former U. S. Attorney General Ed Meese, Phyllis Schlafly, Mark Levin, and Sean Hannity. When Dewhurst supporters said that Cruz was backed by Washington "insiders," Cruz replied, "I've got to say that if Sarah Palin, Mark Levin, James Dobson are DC insiders...hallelujah, we have truly turned this country around."

Cruz's big turnaround gives me hope in the Oklahoma 2nd Congressional District runoff. As in Texas, we have a big-money candidate, Markwayne Mullin, with backing from establishment, corporate-welfare types, versus a grassroots candidate, George Faught, who has the support of grassroots Oklahoma conservatives and national conservative leaders who want a principled, knowledgeable leader to help fight for the conservative cause in Washington.

Faught has endorsements from Mike Huckabee, Gary Jones, Phyllis Schlafly, Citizens United Political Victory Fund, Gun Owners of America Political Victory Fund, Family Research Council's Action PAC, Concerned Women for America PAC, David Barton of Wall Builders, and Mike Farris, head of the Home School Legal Defense Fund.

Last week Mullin was touting an endorsement from Doug Cox, arguably the most liberal Republican in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Cox frequently votes against pro-life legislation, supports government funding for Planned Parenthood, and was a leading advocate for a bill that would allow someone with a gender identity disorder to rewrite history by changing his birth certificate to match his delusions. What does it tell you that Doug Cox would rather have Mullin in Congress than George Faught, who helped to expose and defeat Cox's gender-bender bill?

Mullin's campaign is promoting an internal poll showing their man ahead by a margin similar to the lead Dewhurst held six weeks ago. Those numbers should change as conservative 2nd District voters take a closer look at Mullin's associations and backers. If Ted Cruz can turn those numbers around in six weeks, so can George Faught.

This weekend I was invited to Providence, Rhode Island for the Future of Journalism Summit, sponsored by the Heritage Foundation and the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. Heritage is a well established national policy think-tank, while the Franklin Center is only about three years old, founded in response to a "falling standards in the media as well as a steep falloff in reporting on state government." Franklin supports state capitol news organizations in 39 states, often partnering with state policy think tanks. There are two Franklin-affiliated state capitol reporters in Oklahoma: Peter J. Rudy at Oklahoma Watchdog and Patrick McGuigan at CapitolBeatOK.

The event was designed to bring together New Media bloggers and Old Media journalists. I shared a cab from the airport with Andrew Malcolm, a veteran national and foreign reporter and now a columnist for Investors Business Daily. Last night, after the sessions were finished, I was in a group that wandered over to downtown Providence to watch their WaterFire event, a group that included Jim Geraghty, political reporter for National Review, Rob Port of Say Anything, North Dakota's authoritative state politics blog, David Guenthner of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and several Franklin Center staffers from around the country.

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The days were taken up with informative sessions. Here are just a few examples:

We heard about efforts to combat vote fraud (and efforts to thwart efforts to combat vote fraud) from National Review's John Fund, who has written a book on the subject, and Quin Hillyer of the American Spectator, who was a an aide to Louisiana Congressman Bob Livingston when Livingston successfully fought to add a voter roll cleanup provision to Bill Clinton's Moter Voter law.

Bill Beach, director of the Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis, gave us an overview of the wide range of federal data available online. He also told us about the early days of his career, when processing government data for analysis involved hours of data entry work and going to the lab in the wee hours of the morning to process stacks of punch cards.

It was encouraging to hear Mark Morano, a former Senate Energy and Commerce Committee aide under Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, explain how thoroughly and completely the anthropogenic global warming scare has been debunked, despite the institutional weight behind the discredited theory.

SD005189Chris Farrell of Judicial Watch told us the ins and outs of Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and how to pry loose information the government doesn't want to release. He also treated us to an example of unnecessarily redacted information: A field report on Ted Kennedy's 1961 visit to Latin America, a credentials-building trip for his run to take his big brother Jack's vacant U. S.Senate seat. The document was unredacted in bits and pieces in response to a series of requests, revealing Kennedy's desire to hobnob with Lauchlin Currie, a Soviet intelligence source during his time in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, and Kennedy's all-night rental of a brothel in Chile.

After Friday's session we attended the first-ever Breitbart Awards, honoring Duane Lester of All-American Blogger as blogger of the year (that's me with Duane in the photo below), Philip Klein, senior editorial writer of the Washington Examiner as professional journalist of the year, and Andrew Marcus, as citizen journalist of the year. Political journalist John Fund delivered a challenging keynote speech, and several friends and associates of the late Andrew Breitbart paid tribute to the many occasions when he encourage them to be bold in the face of adversities. I was especially moved by a speech by Brietbart.com writer Dana Loesch. Loesch spoke of intimidation attempts she endured after she wrote about a confrontation involving SEIU members and a Tea Party member -- people showed up on her doorstep, tailed her as she drove to and from the grocery store -- and she was ready to quit and retreat to normalcy, out of the spotlight. A phone call from Breitbart fired her up and kept her in the fight.

Many thanks to the Franklin Center and the Heritage Foundation for the opportunity to be a part of this conference.

Michael Bates with Duane Lester, All-American Blogger, at the Future of Journalism Summit, June 8, 2012, Providence, RI

Here's Merle Haggard, singing lead and doing his best imitation of Bob Wills' hollers, with three Texas Playboys: Johnny Gimble playing fiddle, Tiny Moore (next to Merle, holding a fiddle) and Eldon Shamblin (playing his Stratocaster) singing harmony.

Let's send this one out to Elizabeth "Fauxcahontas" Warren in Massachusetts.

Tiny Moore was best known as a virtuoso mandolin picker, but he was also a terrific vocalist. Tiny was only given the chance to sing lead on a few Texas Playboys recordings, but he shared lead vocal duties with Bob's youngest brother Billy Jack Wills in Billy Jack's Sacramento based western swing band (1952-1954). Eldon Shamblin, a brilliant and creative rhythm guitarist, also served as arranger and band manager for the Texas Playboys, and sang on trios and quartets from time to time. Tiny and Eldon, teamed up with steel guitarist Herb Remington on the triple guitar arrangements of big band tunes on the Tiffany Transcriptions recordings. Tiny, Eldon, and Johnny had all performed, along with Joe Holley, Alex Brashear, and Johnnie Lee Wills on Merle Haggard's 1970 album A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World (Or, My Salute to Bob Wills), and Tiny and Eldon toured with Merle Haggard for a few years.

Many thanks to See-Dubya for the tip.

Nancy_C_Newman.jpgWilliam_Basil_Newman.jpgI am exactly as Cherokee as Ms. Warren: Family lore says that my great-great-grandmother Nancy Catherine Boyd was a half-blood Cherokee. (Note the high cheekbones.) She was born in Ohio, but the story is that there was a community of Cherokee in Ohio who had moved there to get out of the way of white expansion into Cherokee lands in the South; many then, it is said, moved to Indian Territory to rejoin their relocated people in their "permanent" home. Nancy married William Basil Newman, who refused to let Nancy enroll with the Dawes Commission, because he didn't want his wife owning land (an allotment) in her own name; and thus old Basil deprived all his descendants of the benefits of Cherokee citizenship, or so the story goes.

Among other steps, AfP is calling on President Obama to stop playing politics with American energy and approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The ad makes multiple references to a September 9, 2010, story in the Washington Times, which establishes that the funds created more jobs abroad than at home.

Only about $20 billion of the allotted funds have been spent - the slowest disbursement rate for any category of stimulus spending. Private analysts are skeptical of White House estimates that the green funding created 190,700 jobs.

The Department of Energy estimated that 82,000 jobs have been created and has acknowledged that as much as 80 percent of some green programs, including $2.3 billion of manufacturing tax credits, went to foreign firms that employed workers primarily in countries including China, South Korea and Spain, rather than in the United States.

Peter Morici, a business professor at the University of Maryland, said much of the green stimulus funding was "squandered."

"Large grants to build green buildings don't generate many new jobs, except for a few architects," he said. "Subsidies for windmills and solar panels created lots of jobs in China," but few at home....

Mr. Sherraden said the problem with job leakage overseas promised only to get worse, because governments in Europe and Japan - which in years past spent lavishly on renewable energy - now are drastically cutting back their green subsidies as they try to pare enormous budget deficits.

With the United States left as the only major developed country still flooding the market with government funding, competition from overseas suppliers promised to be more fierce than ever, Mr. Sherraden said.

"It is impossible to guarantee that clean-energy stimulus is not leaked abroad," he said. "We have to recognize that we are funding job-creation programs in Germany, Spain, Japan and China."

BatesLine is pleased to welcome a new advertiser: John Sullivan for Congress. First elected to replace Steve Largent in a 2002 special election, Congressman Sullivan is seeking re-election to his sixth full term. His ads highlight his consistent conservative record, as evidenced by ratings by conservative watchdog groups like Numbers USA (enforcement of immigration laws), Club for Growth, Citizens against Government Waste, and National Taxpayers Union (fiscal conservative, tax and budget), National Right to Life (sanctity of human life), National Rifle Association (Second Amendment rights), and the American Conservative Union (full range of conservative issues).

I've known John Sullivan since long before I started blogging, before I became any sort of public figure. I first met him sometime in the 1990s, during his time as a state representative, when, as a member of the small Republican minority in the State House, he championed the effort to eliminate the sales tax on groceries. I encouraged him to run for State Senate when the seat opened up in 1996, but for family reasons he opted to stay in the House. When Steve Largent resigned his congressional seat in 2001 to run for governor, John phoned me, a precinct chairman, to let me know that he was running.

John Sullivan, Michael Bates, 2006At the beginning of that special election, John Sullivan was running a distant third in the polls. First Lady Cathy Keating was the best known candidate and the odds-on favorite. But conservative grassroots activists liked what they saw in Sullivan and rallied around him, and I joined them in putting my name on his hundreds-long list of endorsements. A month or so later, I got a call from one of his campaign volunteers, someone I'd worked with on Sue Tibbs's campaigns, asking if I could pick up the campaign's data processing work. Thanks to the hard work of the candidate, his campaign team, and his team of volunteers knocking doors and making phone calls, John Sullivan came from a distant third to finish first in the primary, close enough to an outright majority that Cathy Keating opted to withdraw rather than continue on to a runoff. Sullivan won the general election handily over his Democratic opponent and hasn't faced a significant primary or general election challenge since then.

When I ran for City Council in 2002, newly elected Congressman Sullivan was the guest of honor at a fundraiser. I'm proud to consider John a friend and to continue to be a part of his team. We have had a small number of disagreements -- it was a mistake for him and Sen. Coburn to vote for the revised version of TARP in 2008 -- but we've been in agreement on nearly every controversial congressional issue, including some issues, like strict immigration enforcement, that put him at odds with Chamber of Commerce types.

His primary opponent has an impressive resume and is a likable person. But it strikes me that it's much easier to oppose something like TARP in hindsight, years after the frightening global financial circumstances that led to its adoption, than to speak out against it at the time. For all the years I've been involved in local politics, I can't recall any occasion when this gentleman has taken a controversial public stand on any issue, prior to his decision to run for Congress. He seems to be the latest victim of a group of Republican political consultants who have been trying unsuccessfully for years to find someone to unseat Sullivan.

Those who have known me for a long time know that I haven't hesitated to drop support for an incumbent Republican and back a primary challenger when circumstances warrant. But in John Sullivan we have a consistent, across-the-board Oklahoma conservative with growing seniority and influence in House leadership. I'm pleased to support his re-election and to have his support as an advertiser on BatesLine.

rino-768px.pngThis post has been percolating in my brain for a couple of months, and the topic for even longer, but other business has prevented its completion until now.

As I read conservative blogs, I see a great deal of understandable frustration with different aspects of Republican Party politics: The National Republican Senatorial Committee's support (later withdrawn) for Charlie Crist over Marco Rubio. Dede Scozzafava getting the Republican nomination in NY-23 and then withdrawing in favor of a Democrat to stop a conservative from winning. Some bloggers are upset that Christine O'Donnell and Sharon Angle won Senate nominations, some are upset about the lack of general election support for Angle and O'Donnell. Bloggers are bummed by the candidates remaining in the presidential race, the candidates who dropped out, and the candidates who never got in.

The common thread in all this discontent is that at some point, someone will blame "the Republican Party" for the problem. Back in mid-February, when I started writing this post, I gathered a few examples. It was that point between the first few primaries and Santorum's early February caucus sweep and Super Tuesday, by which time the presidential field had boiled down to four candidates, each unacceptable in some way, and none of them fully reflective of the zeitgeist that produced the Republican congressional landslide of 2010.

For example, here's a tweet from Jimmie Bise, Jr.:

*We* will fix the godforsaken mess they have made of our country. The Republican Party has one option -- do what we say, or pay. Hard.

From a February 16, 2012, blog entry by Melissa Clouthier:

The Republican party has consistently chosen big money candidates....

The Republican party continues to cling to big government ways and means.

The Republican party leaders cannot articulate conservative values...

Before the Tea Party came along, the Republican Party was a hot mess. The New York, California, Nevada, Ohio, and Colorado GOP (just to five states off the top of my head) stunk. Calcified, self-protective, hierarchical, detached, and consumed by infighting, it's rich that people want to blame the Tea Party for failure when the Tea Party new blood is coming in and attempting to right the sinking ship.

Two years ago, I wrote that Mitt Romney was a weak candidate and that the GOP leadership should be looking, and intently, for better alternatives. They chose to travel the path of least resistance.

As for me, I'm not particularly attached to any of the candidates. It would be nice for a GOP complainer to make an affirmative conservative, or even Republican (read the party planks) case for Mitt Romney. I have yet to see it. But I do see a lot of pre-emptive blaming of the Tea Party.

Sorry, the GOP needs to look for another scapegoat. Looking in the mirror would be a good start.

Stacy McCain responded:

The GOP (with a break for Ronald Reagan) has been just as sold out to Progress as the Democrats for the last century. The party planks had become a joke. The GOP has gerrymandered our culture with the Democrats in exchange for creating a Ruling Class. One can nearly see where the Democrats had a point, calling the GOP hypocritical for showing affinity with the Tea Parties.

And more from Melissa a few days later:

That might have been true if the Republican party hadn't already burned every bridge with the base. They didn't just burn them though, they torched them and put conservative heads on spikes along the way. (Not sure about that? What happened to Sarah Palin couldn't have happened if the Republican hierarchy, lead by John McCain hadn't sat on their hands.)

The Republicans have been pushing back at the conservative base. They insulted them with No Child Left Behind and creating loads of agencies in a post-9/11 world and sealed the deal with government bailouts of banks, Wall Street, GM, and every sort of shifting money from taxpayers to irresponsible institutions and people.

Dan Riehl painted with a slightly narrower brush with his use of the "establishment" modifier:

After significant Tea Party-fueled gains in 2010, for all practical purposes, the establishment GOP has ignored and even tried to mitigate that force with little more than lip service as repayment for their support. Now, they want to kick out the Christian asses that sit in their phone banks and the Christian soldiers that do the grunt work for their campaigns.

It's as if two significant constituencies are begging the GOP to man up and, if you'll pardon the phrase, win one for the Gipper, while a feckless D.C. bedridden GOP sinks its head into the pillow and whimpers, we're not up to the task.

These are signs of a very sick party. We may soon find out whether, or not, it's terminal. At present, the prognosis is already not very good.

Again from February, Jen Kuznicki asked, "Am I To Understand That Value Voters Are Being Rejected By The Republican Party?"

Does the Republican Party think that without touching on the cultural decay of our country, all at the hands of liberals, they will be able to win in November? Perhaps. I have seen the friendliness of local Republicans toward liberal Democrats who have said, "I used to be a Republican, until they started in with the social issues." It is as if the Republican Party would rather have liberals in the party to replace the value voters.

It seems to me that they attack Rick Santorum for actually naming the culprits. He is being thrown overboard for the Republican Party's asinine attempt to bring liberals and neo-liberals, (Ron Paul types) into the party with seats at the table and notebooks in hand.

At about the same time, Ace fretted that the Republican Party wasn't really serious about winning and was more interested in being a protest party obsessed with ideological purity

I believe the party wants to lose.

I believe the party has decided the problems facing us are so big that they cannot be overcome.

I believe the party has decided, maybe subconsciously, maybe consciously, that we are not up to the task, and the best thing to do is just duck out and Blame the Other Guys. Let them Own Their Problems.

If that's the plan, let me know. We don't have to contend very hard at all if our goal is to lose.

Easiest thing in the world, losing. Even easier when you've gotten practice at it.

I believe the party does not think it is capable of working positive good in policy. If so, I take it as knowing itself best, and perhaps it's time for a new party.

Now, many of you are nodding your head in agreement, and I share the frustration expressed by these conservative bloggers with the current political situation. But I respectfully disagree with their assignment of blame to this entity called the Republican Party. That's not because I think that this entity called the Republican Party is blameless, but because I think it doesn't exist.

OKGOP-logo.jpgTo put it into terms a software engineer might understand, "Republican Party" is not a useful abstraction. It encompasses too wide a range of people and institutions and forces. There are party officials at the precinct, county, state, and national levels. There are the elected officials: legislators and county commissioners and mayors and congressmen and senators. There are the consultants and fundraisers and strategists. At the federal level, there's the RNC, the NRCC, and the NRSC, and there are parallel organizations in every state.

There are the big-dollar donors, and there are the phone callers, door-knockers, and envelope stuffers. There are the party auxiliary groups -- National Federation of Republican Women, Republican men's clubs, National Federation of Republican Assemblies, Young Republicans, College Republicans. There are those focused on getting the language in the county platform just so, and those who manage the logistics for the county convention. And then there are the millions of voters who register as Republicans or who take the Republican ballot or who vote Republican in the general election but otherwise have no connection to party matters or political campaigns.

All these individuals and groups have their own motivations and interests often in conflict with one another. All of them can be said to be "the Republican Party" in the sense that my blogpals use the term, but none of them can be said to be "the Republican Party" to the exclusion of the other groups.

To anthropomorphize the GOP, to treat it as a person with volition, emotion, and intellect, is to fail to think things all the way through. It's a sign of not digging deeply enough to find the real actors and the motives that drive the problems we all observe. A political party in America is a playing field over which interests compete. It's an empty vessel waiting to be filled.

I write as someone who has been involved in the nuts and bolts of Republican Party politics as an active participant or an observer since I was 12. I've been a precinct chairman, a state committeeman, a delegate to county, congressional district, state, and national conventions, a member of the county and state party executive committees. I've been picked by the state executive committee to be on the official at-large delegate slate, and I've been on the executive committee interviewing and voting on those at-large delegates. I've chaired platform and rules committees at the county and state levels and sat in as an observer at the last two Republican National Convention rules committee hearings. I've been the Republican nominee for a city council seat. I've provided technical support to more campaigns than I can count. I was around for the last big wave of newcomers in the late 1980s; those newcomers are the folks in charge of the party nowadays.

On the other hand, I'm not on good terms with Tulsa's current Republican mayor, I backed the second-place candidate for governor, and I often find myself at odds with big Republican donors when it comes to local issues. I worry that our massive majorities in the State Legislature will be taken captive by crony capitalism, the same hubris that led to our 2006 downfall in Washington. I can hardly be said to be part of the Republican establishment.

I am a Republican for one reason: It is where American conservatives make their political home. Conservatives of any sort -- social, fiscal, defense and foreign policy -- are no longer welcome at all in the Democrat Party.

I'll be going to BlogConCLT this coming weekend in Charlotte, N. C., and I'm looking forward to the opportunity, outside the official sessions, to visit with my fellow conservative bloggers -- both party insiders and outside observers -- about the forces behind the problems identified above and what practical steps can be taken to give conservative principles the best chance of prevailing at the ballot box and on Capitol Hill.

I received word from Chris Medlock that Ron Paul supporters won all three national delegate slots and all three alternate slots at the Saturday, March 31, 2012, Oklahoma 5th Congressional District Republican Convention. Medlock reports that turnout was light (only about 200 delegates), and that runoffs for each delegate slot favored the Ron Paul supporter by about a 52% to 48% margin, meaning that higher turnout by the non-Pauls could have meant a complete shutout of the Ron Paul fans.

In the March 6, 2012, Oklahoma primary, Ron Paul finished fourth in the 5th Congressional District with 10.4% of the votes cast.

Although the three delegates are bound by state party rules and the results of the March 6 primary to cast one vote each for Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich, if no presidential candidate gains a majority of delegates on the 1st or 2nd ballots at the Republican National Convention, or if their candidate releases his delegates, the delegates would then be free to vote their personal preference. It is possible that if enough Ron Paul supporters are elected to go to Tampa, they could pass party rules that would free all delegates from any binding commitments.

I am hoping to get specific numbers -- ballots cast, voting by round -- to analyze what happened. I am told that the 5th CD used a different runoff method than we've used since 2000 here in the 1st CD, and it's possible that their runoff method would allow the will of the majority of delegates to be thwarted, depending on the number of candidates in the race. The 1991 Louisiana governor's election is a classic example of a two-person runoff for a large field resulting in two finalists who are each loathed by a majority of the electorate.

MORE: What happened at the CD 5 convention is a continuation of the Ron Paul campaign strategy I wrote about in 2008

Thumbnail image for rino-768px.pngThere's a theory being circulated among conservative bloggers and Tea Party activists that we shouldn't worry about the likelihood of bailout-backing, mandate-loving, flip-flopping Mitt Romney winning the nomination. Anyone can beat Obama, the theory goes -- even with Romney unable to run against Obama on Obamacare -- and if we focus on electing more solid conservatives to Congress they'll be able to keep Romney in check and push him to be more conservative.

But that's wishful thinking, divorced from political dynamics in the real world. Far from being shaped by conservative activists and legislators, a Republican executive tends to reshape the party in his own image. This is true at every level of government, but especially true when there's a Republican president. Republicans have a tendency to defer to the executive of their own party. They find it much easier to resist and block bad ideas from a Democrat executive than from a leader of their own party.

Even before winning the presidency, the nominee begins to shape the party in his own image. His team has a great deal of influence over the platform, the convention rules, the party rules for the next four years, and who gets to speak at the convention. Delegates on the convention committees are under a great deal of pressure to conform to the presumptive nominee's wishes. (That's another reason why a convention without a presumptive nominee would be a good thing.)

A Republican President of the United States is titular head of the GOP. He gets to pick the chairman of the Republican National Committee, who in turn has a great deal of influence over who staffs the party and which consultants are hired. The president has political appointments in the executive branch, ambassadorships, and federal judgeships to hand out. The president has superstar fundraising power: His blessing and support can open the floodgates for a candidate, and his disfavor can cause funding to slow to a trickle. And heaven help a Republican legislator if the Republican president, governor, or mayor opts to back your primary opponent.

But I think the tendency to defer to the executive goes deeper in the Republican mindset than mere access to money and power. Perhaps it's rooted in the long decades when we could elect Republican presidents, but we were in the minority in Congress.

When a Republican is the executive, many legislators and party officials see their job as defending and upholding the Republican executive, rather than holding them to account. It's much easier for GOP party leaders and legislators to oppose a bad idea if a Democrat proposes it. If a Republican official proposes a bad idea, the best you can hope for from Republican party leaders and legislators is silence.

I've seen this at work here in Tulsa. In 1997, a Democrat mayor proposed a 3.5 year, 1/2 penny sales tax and increases in hotel/motel and car rental taxes to fund a new downtown arena, stadium, and natatorium and expansion of the convention center -- $140 million in local tax increases. The county Republican Executive Committee unequivocally opposed the measure, and it failed at the polls.

In 2000, the same Democrat mayor proposed a rehash of the previous project, with some minor differences and funded entirely by sales tax -- 7.5 years, 1/2 cent, to raise $263 million. The county Republican Executive Committee unequivocally opposed the measure, and it failed at the polls.

In 2003, a Republican mayor and a Republican county commission chairman backed a sales tax hike to fund an arena that was about four times bigger and porkier than the plans the Democrat mayor had proposed. 13 years and a full-penny, county-wide sales tax increase for a total of $887 million. This time the Republican Executive Committee fell silent. Many members of the Executive Committee were now political appointees at City Hall and the County Courthouse, and they wouldn't wish to embarrass their bosses. Other Republicans were simply worried that opposing the initiative of Republican elected officials would divide the party. (Never mind that these officials were dividing the party by betraying fiscal conservatism.) Major Republican donors backed the plan and made it clear that there would be consequences if the party or elected officials opposed it. One Republican activist who led the effort against the Democrat mayor's initiatives became outspoken in support; after the election he wound up with a job funded by the new tax. The tax passed.

More recently, in 2009, Tulsa elected a Republican mayor. This gentleman had endorsed the Democrat incumbent for re-election before she opted not to run, despite her embrace of global warming and anti-gun hoohah and the runaway budget growth under her watch that left the city in fiscal peril in 2009. Many Republican leaders ignored the apparent lack of conservative convictions in this candidate and lined up behind him because he was the son of a former governor and senator and had money to self-finance a campaign. (Sound familiar?)

He won the primary and the general election. Tulsa's new Republican mayor then set about demonizing and alienating the Republican supermajority on the City Council. Rather than defend the Republican councilors or at least try to make peace, leading Republican funders and their allies attacked the councilors as bickerers, sued them, and created a redistricting plan that cut them off from their core constituencies, completely drawing the Council's strongest fiscal conservative out of his own district.

Any Republican Tea Party senator or congressman that dares to oppose President Romney's big new entitlement program is likely to meet a similar fate.

The same calls we are hearing now to unite behind our leader will only become more strident and carry more weight with a Republican in the White House and the power that comes with incumbency.

The same arguments being deployed today to get conservatives to fall in line behind Romney's candidacy were used to get conservatives to back Dubya's expansions of government (think No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, and of course, the TARP Bank Bailout), and the same arguments will be used to rope conservatives into backing any big-government policy President Romney wants to pursue. We'll be told that opposing the president will damage his presidency, will weaken the Republican Party, and will strengthen the liberals. We'll be told that Romney's policy may be awful, but it's a much better option than what the liberals propose, and those are the only choices on the table.

I'm saddened by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's decision yesterday to endorse Romney and to call for an end to the competition for the presidential nomination. Does Sen. Rubio not remember when the National Republican Senatorial Committee called for everyone to line up behind Gov. Charlie Crist, because Crist's nomination was inevitable, and it was important to avoid a messy primary that would damage the party's chances in November? Isn't Sen. Rubio glad that activists and donors didn't take that rotten advice?

MORE: The best hope for conservative policy at the federal level is to stop Mitt Romney from winning the Republican nomination. The only way to do that is to keep him from getting enough delegates, and the only way to stop him from accruing delegates is to support the candidate running closest to him in the polls.

Romney can't get enough bound delegates to have a majority until June 2. If Santorum can win 365 more bound delegates -- and there are more than enough delegates still to be bound in the south, border states, and midwest to make that possible -- Romney mathematically can't lock up 1144 before the convention.

Rick Santorum is the only man standing in the way of Romney's nomination. A Santorum win in Wisconsin is crucial; you can help by making calls from home now through Tuesday.

STILL MORE: A friend remarked recently that Romney seemed Reaganesque, and noted that both Reagan and Romney changed their minds about abortion rights. There's a crucial difference: Reagan's change of heart against abortion put him at odds with mainstream GOP thinking of the time and hindered his candidacy in 1976. Romney's changes of position always coincide with whatever will help him win.

OKGOP-logo.jpgThe following Statement of Principles was adopted as part of the 2012 Tulsa County Republican Platform at the Tulsa County Republican Convention on Saturday, March 24, 2012. It is identical to the Statement of Principles section in the 2011 platform and is nearly identical to the Statement of Principles in the 2003 platform, differing by only 20 words or so. The 2003 statement is not original to that year, but constitutes a consolidation of the preamble to the platform as a whole and preambles to individual sections as found in the 2001 platform. Much of the text almost certainly predates 2001. It is the work of many people over many years.

STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES

"God who gave us life gave us liberty." - Thomas Jefferson

The United States has attained its position as a world leader and champion of freedom by protecting our God-given liberties.

We believe our rights come from our Creator. We believe in the unalienable rights of the individual. It is a government's first duty to protect these God-given rights: to life; to liberty; to property; to the pursuit of happiness.

Government is but one institution among many that exist to serve the common good. Families, religious communities, businesses, the press, and a host of voluntary societies have their roles to play in meeting the needs of society. As Republicans, we seek to reform government so that it performs its proper role with excellence and efficiency, while leaving room for the other institutions of society to thrive.

We believe that today's government is too large and intrusive, exceeding its proper scope, doing things for which individuals and private organizations are best equipped. We believe families, communities, and institutions of faith can best teach the American values of honesty, responsibility, accountability, hard work, compassion, and mutual respect.

We believe that the functions of government should be handled at the level nearest and most accountable to the people. The Tulsa County Republican Party seeks to apply these time-honored principles at all levels of government:

  • Faithful adherence to the U.S. Constitution as originally intended;
  • The sanctity of human life, from the moment of conception to its natural end;
  • The equality of all people before the Law - that individuals should be judged without regard to race, gender, creed, disability or age;
  • Public integrity - enforcing and administering the laws justly, in the fear of God;
  • Restoring and preserving Judeo-Christian morality in our culture;
  • Respecting the dignity of each individual and the integrity of families;
  • Fiscal responsibility and restraint;
  • Defense of property rights;
  • Promotion of free markets, free trade and freedom throughout the world.

At the Federal level, we call for maintenance of a strong national defense, protection of our freedom of religious expression, and protection of our rights as law-abiding individuals to keep and bear arms.

We support the right of Americans to retain their hard earned wages through the substantial reduction of the federal income tax rate and the establishment of a fair system of taxation.

We believe in personal responsibility and individual accountability. We desire to limit government involvement in the lives of families and individuals. We believe that a sound, traditional family unit is essential to the strength, stability, and success of our nation. We will defend the institution of the family against those who seek to use the levers of government to undermine or redefine it.

We believe inefficient government programs have displaced individual responsibility, compassion, and involvement in our communities. We will work to reform or eliminate impersonal, inefficient and redundant programs, while encouraging individuals, families, and private organizations to exercise their civic responsibilities, act with genuine compassion and offer assistance and care to people in need.

We believe it is the right and responsibility of parents or legal guardians to direct the upbringing and education of their children, without interference, regulation, or penalty from the government.

We therefore support the right of parents or legal guardians to choose the method of schooling for their children, whether public, private, charter, home schooling, or other means of education, without interference from the government at any level.

In our public schools, we seek to restore academic excellence. We believe the primary goal of our educational system should be to teach proficiency in the essential subjects, not to indoctrinate children in a worldview at odds with our nation's heritage.

We believe the best choices are not always the easiest, and that decisions which take commitment, sacrifice and perseverance result in more honorable, longer-lasting solutions. We believe the Republican Party provides the best opportunity to translate these ideals into positive and successful principles of government.

The intent of this section is to set out the timeless principles that motivate our involvement in the political process as Tulsa County Republicans. The remaining pages of the platform consist of detailed platform planks, applying these principles to current concerns.

This year's platform committee approved a draft containing a preamble which replaced the statement of principles. Gone from this preamble were any references to the sanctity of human life, the importance of marriage and the family (as traditionally understood), religious institutions, and other mediating institutions to the health of our society. There were no mentions of public integrity, education, parental rights, or morality.

Eleven members of the Platform Committee, led by Steven Roemerman, signed a minority report, proposing to replace this new preamble with the Statement of Principles from previous years, which you see above. Here is the text of the motion:

Whereas conservative social values such as the sanctity of human life, marriage, and the family and public integrity are core values of Tulsa County Republicans and therefore warrant prominence in our party's platform,

Whereas social issues have had prominence in the Statement of Principles for our Tulsa County Republican Platform for many years, but have been omitted from the Preamble submitted in this year's proposed platform,

We, the undersigned members of the Platform Committee to the 2012 Tulsa County Republican Convention, offer this minority report to the Convention, to wit, amending the Platform Committee's report to substitute the Statement of Principles from the 2011 Tulsa County Republican Platform (attached) in place of the committee's proposed Preamble.

After debate, the motion was approved by the convention by an overwhelming margin. The resulting platform consists of the above Statement of Principles and the individual platform planks that had been approved by the 2012 Platform Committee.

During my remarks (which, like Roemerman's, focused on the issue at hand and did not cast aspersions at any individual or question anyone's motives), I quoted Congressman Mike Pence, who was quoted in a recent column by Mark Steyn (well worth reading in full):

To those who say we should simply focus on fiscal issues, I say you would not be able to print enough money in a thousand years to pay for the government you would need if the traditional family collapses.

(In a similar vein, Phyllis Schlafly's latest column is titled "Phony Divide Between Fiscal & Social Issues.")

I will have more to say about this in the next day or two, but for now I wanted to get the substance on the record.

MORE: Here is the Tulsa County platform committee majority report (1 MB PDF), with the Preamble (the section that was replaced) highlighted.

Tulsa County Republican activists gathered today at the Union High School Performing Arts Center to decide on delegates to the congressional district and state Republican conventions and to adopt a platform that will inform the work of platform committees at the state and national conventions. The only dispute in the peaceful and surprisingly brief convention involved restoring the long-time "bold colors" Statement of Principles to lead off the county platform, in place of the watered-down "pale pastels" preamble that had been approved by this year's committee. (I'll detail that dispute in a separate entry, but thanks to Steven Roemerman and several other members of the platform committee for their willingness to present a minority report.)

After the chaos at many Missouri county caucuses last Saturday (see first-time attendee Duane Lester's account of the Nodaway County caucus) and reports of strife at the Oklahoma County convention earlier in the month, there was some nervousness about a conflict in Tulsa between newcomers supporting Ron Paul and long-time conservative activists at our convention.

As it happened, the convention went very smoothly, starting with the final gathering of the rules committee before the gavel this morning. The rules committee, made up of supporters of a variety of presidential candidates, unanimously approved a couple of final tweaks to the rules. And although a SNAFU resulted in an earlier version being printed distributed to delegates, only one delegate, a Ron Paul supporter, got upset by the lack of an accurate printed copy, and the upset didn't last long. The platform dispute I mentioned didn't break along lines of presidential preference, but boiled down to an old-timer who has been trying for years to water down the platform and got farther this time than ever before.

The need to hear and resolve 30 credentials appeals delayed the start of official business by nearly an hour and a half. The appeals panel of five heard from people who tried to attend their caucus, but it wasn't held at the advertised time and place, people who were elected as county delegates but whose name was left off of the precinct's delegate list, and a couple of people who just registered to vote and thought they should be able to participate.

While waiting for the credentials committee to complete their work, we heard from Congressman John Sullivan on his energy-independence efforts, Corporation Commission chairman Dana Murphy and Commissioner Bob Anthony, Oklahoma's longest-serving statewide official, State Auditor and Inspector (and former GOP state chairman) Gary Jones, state chairman Matt Pinnell, Tulsa County Commission chairman John Smaligo, Insurance Commissioner John Doak, and State Senator Rick Brinkley, among others.

The oddest moment of the day: After concluding his speech and starting up the aisle away from the stage, Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr stopped at my row, extended his hand to me for a handshake, waited for me to look up -- I was typing on my laptop and wasn't paying close attention -- and said, "Where'd you get all that gray hair? What happened?" I shook his hand and gave him a puzzled look in return. (I've had all this gray hair for about seven years. I don't dye it.)

But once started, things rolled quickly, with adjournment coming at 2:45 pm, more than an hour before the expected close of business. The reports of the credentials (who's qualified to vote in this convention), rules (how we conduct business in this convention), and delegates (who will we send to the next level of conventions) committees were adopted with near unanimity.

Four proposed changes to the state party rules were approved for recommendation by wide margins -- these will be brought before the state convention in May. The proposed rule changes would:

  • eliminate any gender quotas on members of state and district committees,
  • remove the right to seats at the county convention for precincts with no voters and for precincts that fail to hold caucuses by the state deadline,
  • require that only elected county convention delegates and elected officials can be delegates for their counties at the district and state conventions, and
  • require Republican candidates to declare their areas of disagreement with the state party platform.

In their pre-convention session, the rules committee adopted two last-minute changes. One of the changes was to allow candidates wishing to address the convention (including some candidates challenging incumbent Republicans) a few minutes to speak during the lunch break.

The other change simplified the process of determining who would go as Tulsa County's delegation to the state and congressional conventions, where national convention delegates are selected. If the county voted to send an "open" delegation to both higher-level conventions, those delegations would consist of every delegate elected by their precinct to the county convention, rather than requiring delegates to sign up. While it is theoretically possible that a thousand or so delegates would show up to share Tulsa County's 331 votes, the usual situation is that a fraction of the total will show up, particularly to the state convention. This approach to filling the delegate list broadens the possible pool of Tulsa County delegates, improving the likelihood that we'll be able to claim all of our votes. And, at my instigation, we made this form of open delegation the default, in the event that delays or disruptions prevented the convention from electing delegates before adjournment. (This topic deserves an entry of its own for a full explanation.)

County Chairman J. B. Alexander, Vice Chairman Mike McCutchin, convention chairman State Sen. Dan Newberry, convention parliamentarian former State Rep. John Wright, convention secretary Melinda Voss, and credentials committee chairman Ted Darr deserve much credit for the smooth convention. Following state rules strictly and developing and following strict guidelines to cover ambiguities in the state rules may be the difference between a peaceful convention and a contentious convention.

standupbanner.pngAmericans will rally in 140 cities across the nation at noon tomorrow, Friday, March 23, 2012, to protest the Obamacare HHS mandate requiring nearly all private health insurance plans to cover "all FDA-approved prescription contraceptive drugs and devices, surgical sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs," overriding an employer's moral convictions.

Tulsa's rally will be held at LaFortune Park, 5801 S. Yale Ave. Speakers will include Tulsa constitutional attorney Leah Farish. In 2005, Farish received Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Law Project's Mary Beth Tinker Award for her successful defense of the right of a Muslim high school student in Muskogee to wear a headscarf at a public school.

Dozens of pro-life and religious liberty organizations have joined forces to organize this nationwide event, including the Pro-Life Action League, Concerned Women for America, and the Becket Fund for Religous Liberty.

Social liberals often complain that social conservatives want to use government power to impose their views on everyone else. As the Obamacare HHS mandate demonstrates, it's the other way around: Lefties want to use government to force everyone to conform to their moral judgments. We need to stand up for religious liberty if we want to preserve it.

Pipeline monument, Cushing OK
As President Obama visits Cushing, Oklahoma, tomorrow, conservative Oklahomans will gather tomorrow morning in Cushing to voice their support for a common-sense energy policy that allows exploration and development of America's energy resources.

The Obama administration has been blocking the development of the Keystone XL pipeline from the tar sands of Canada to Oklahoma and the development of oil reserves under the Gulf of Mexico and on Federal lands in Alaska. As a candidate, he announced that under his energy plan, electricity prices would necessarily skyrocket.

This morning on TV, CNN prominently displayed the headline "Obama to fast-track Keystone XL pipeline." In fact, Obama's denial of the necessary permit to build the pipeline from Canada to the US still stands. TransCanada decided to go ahead with the pipeline from Cushing to the Gulf (which doesn't require the President's permission), and now it appears that the president wants to stage a photo op to take credit for that.

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner balked at the idea that President Obama could claim credit for speeding up the approval process of the southern segment of the pipeline. "This is like a governor personally issuing a fishing license," Brendan Buck said. "There is only a minor, routine permit needed for this leg of the project. Only a desperate administration would inject the President of the United States into this trivial matter. The President's attempt to take credit for a pipeline he blocked and personally lobbied Congress against is staggering in its dis-ingenuousness. This portion of the pipeline is being built in spite of the President, not because of him."

Here is the email blast from Americans for Prosperity about Obama's visit to Oklahoma and tomorrow's rally:

It's not enough that President Obama refused to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, denying thousands of jobs and lower gas prices at the pump. Now he's coming to Cushing, Oklahoma to grandstand credit for a private sector energy success - and he hopes you aren't paying attention.

Prove him wrong.

Join Americans for Prosperity tomorrow morning when President Obama visits Cushing.

Click here to register for our rally!

Let's show the President that we are paying attention and we aren't going to let him off the hook. AFP will show up with a simple message: stop playing politics with America's energy.

What:We Can't Wait Rally in Cushing
When:Thursday, March 22nd @ 8:30 a.m.
Where:  Fechner Pump and Supply, 1402 North Little Street in Cushing, OK
Who:You and your fellow Americans for Prosperity activists

Just a few weeks ago Obama said that oil is a "fuel of the past." Now he's talking out of the other side of his mouth and thinks no one will call him on it.

Economists have found that the Keystone XL pipeline that Obama is halting could create over 100,000 jobs, increase refining capacity by 700,000 barrels, lower prices at the pump, and bring millions in tax revenues to Oklahoma and the surrounding region.

America needs commonsense energy policy - not political grandstanding.

Help AFP call out the President and demand real energy solutions.

Photo credit: Pipeline monument, Cushing OK by roy.luck, on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license

MORE:

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin didn't cancel her spring break vacation plans to rush back to welcome Pres. Obama to the state, and some are complaining that she's being disrespectful and even racist by not doing so. I used Storify to capture a Twitter conversation between myself, Jennifer James, Steve Lackmeyer of the Oklahoman, Joe Fairbanks, with a few others.

Gov. Fallin issued a statement about the president's visit:

"I am pleased that President Obama is able to make his first visit to the great state of Oklahoma this week and to personally see the good work going on in Cushing. The TransCanada pipeline to be built there will connect Oklahoma to oil markets on the Gulf Coast, resulting in the creation of more than 1,000 Oklahoma jobs. This project will help to bolster our energy industry and security for years to come.

"I am glad the president supports the construction of the pipeline connecting Cushing to the Gulf. Impeding the progress of something which is so obviously beneficial to both the economy and the energy security of the United States would have been nothing short of irresponsible.

"Unfortunately, President Obama and his administration are practicing exactly this kind of obstructionism on the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have carried oil from the Canadian oil sands and several U.S. markets to Cushing. As a result, the United States must go without the hundreds of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of investment that would have otherwise been available to stimulate our economy. Just as importantly, the administration's decision undermines U.S. energy security and alienates our closest trading partner, Canada.

"I hope that while President Obama is in Oklahoma he takes some time to listen to our citizens, many of whom work for the energy industry which he claims to support. I think they will tell him that - far from supporting the responsible domestic production of American-made energy - his administration has undermined it at every turn. Rather than embracing the truly remarkable technological breakthroughs that have resulted in the discovery of an additional 100-year supply of natural gas, the president and the EPA continue their hostility to basic and time-tested practices like hydraulic fracturing. The president and his party in Washington continue to support an aggressively anti-energy agenda that will severely hamper the American economy and put the United States at a competitive disadvantage to the rest of the world.

"In Oklahoma, we recognize that the energy industry is an important ally in job creation and economic development. We believe that American energy is a resource, not a hazardous waste. My great hope is that some of that attitude will rub off on our president, who has lost his way on energy policy and so many other issues."

MORE: U. S. Rep. John Sullivan talks about the Keystone XL pipeline and Obama's visit on Fox and Friends this morning. Sullivan calls Obama's about-face on part of the pipeline a "con job," comparing it to Al Gore taking credit for inventing the internet. Fox and Friends host Steve Doocy notes that the absence of the northern part of the pipeline would require oil from the Canadian tar sands to be shipped by other means, such as the Warren Buffett / Berkshire Hathaway-owned BNSF railroad.

ricksantorumlogo.jpgAlthough the Oklahoma primary is behind us, Oklahomans who support Rick Santorum can still make a difference, through the miracle of modern technology. The Santorum HQ at 6969 E. 71st St. in Tulsa will be open for volunteers to make calls to voters in Tuesday's primary states. Alabama and Mississippi are both considered too close to call, with a danger that conservative votes split between Santorum and Gingrich would allow Romney to finish first. For more information on helping call from Tulsa, phone 918-928-7776.

You can also make phone calls from home into primary states via callfromhome.ricksantorum.com.

Here is a spreadsheet with the results by congressional district, as reported on the Oklahoma State Election Board election night results website. I've combined the results into a workbook with two tabs, one for Republicans, one for Democrats.

Final Republian delegate tally appears to be Santorum 14, Romney 13, Gingrich 13. In the Democrat primary, the delegate result is Barack Obama 35, Randall Terry 7, Jim Rogers 3.

Turnout was way off from 2008 in both primaries. This wasn't unexpected in the Democrat primary with an incumbent president on the ballot, but Republican turnout dropped from 335,054 in 2008 to 286,523 in 2012 -- about a 15% drop in a more exciting primary. Perhaps it was the barrage of negative ads, mainly from Romney and Paul attacking Santorum, and from Gingrich attacking Romney. (I never saw a Santorum ad in Oklahoma.)

Originally published March 5, 2012. Bumped to the top on March 9.

The presidential election is at the forefront for anyone who pays attention to politics, but what happens with state and local elections has as much of an impact on your daily life as the current Occupier of the White House. Filing for this fall's elections in Oklahoma is only about one month away.

One week after the presidential primary, American Majority will hold a candidate training seminar at Reasor's in Jenks, Tuesday evening, March 13, 2012, from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm.

Details and registration info after the jump.

First Love, a local band featuring the singing and songwriting talents of Camille and Haley Harris, wrote a fight song for the Rick Santorum campaign. The song "Game On!" came together in the wee hours of this past Sunday night / Monday morning, after they heard Rick Santorum speak and met him at Grace Church in Broken Arrow on Sunday evening. It's a catchy song, and the girls have great pop voices with a bit of a folk edge.

The song has received some national attention, earning a thanks from Rick Santorum on his campaign blog:

What a great anthem for our campaign -- I haven't been able to get the song out of my head! I feel so blessed to have such ardent supporters of our vision for America's future, and am grateful to the entire Harris family for their continued faith in our campaign.

The song has been mentioned by bloggers for Time, The Hill, the Houston Chronicle, Buzzfeed.

I met the Harris girls and their parents Tuesday night at the Santorum watch party. They were being interviewed on an online radio talk show as I sat nearby uploading the latest results by congressional district to the Santorum national campaign team. I thought I remembered seeing another video by First Love, a western swing song.

Sure enough, Haley and Camille sang "Blue Bonnet Lane" (one of my favorite Bob Wills tunes) with the Tulsa Playboys back in January:


IVoted.jpgTimestamp set to keep this post at the top until the polls close at 7 p.m.

It's presidential primary election day in Oklahoma, with polls open across the state from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Both parties have a primary today. Click here to see the full list of candidates. Republicans have a choice of seven candidates: Santorum, Gingrich, Romney, Paul, Bachmann, Huntsman, and Perry. Democrats have five options, including President Obama, anti-abortion activist Randall Terry, and Midwest City resident Jim Rogers, who was the 2010 Democratic nominee for U. S. Senate.

Click "Continue reading" for details on today's municipal elections, how to find your polling place, showing ID at the polls, how delegates will be bound, and where to find up-to-the-minute election results.

ricksantorumlogo.jpgI had decided some time ago that when Oklahoma's turn to vote came around, I would cast my vote as necessary to block Mitt Romney's progress toward the Republican nomination. Whoever was ahead of Romney in the polls or the closest to beating him would get my vote.

(Dan McLaughlin, aka Baseball Crank, in his recent entry "Mitt Romney, the Unconvincing Convert," details four of the problems with Romney -- "the unconvincing nature of his political conversion, the hazards of becoming enamored with candidates whose primary rationale for running is their money, the unprecedented difficulty of winning with a moderate Republican who lacks significant national security credentials as a war hero or other prominent foreign policy figure, and Romney's vulnerability arising from his dependence on his biography" -- and at that blog entry, you'll find links to McLaughlin's 2007 series on Romney's electoral liabilities.)

But as the presidential field narrowed and the Oklahoma primary approached, I've come to the conclusion that the last remaining conservative alternative, Rick Santorum, is not merely the best tactical vote, but the candidate closest to my views on economic, social, and defense and foreign policy issues and the best candidate to fight and win the general election against the incumbent.

On economics, Rick Santorum supports bold entitlement reform and immediate action to address the climbing national debt, not kicking the can down the road for another decade as some have proposed. He rightly identifies the importance of manufacturing to economic recovery, particularly for the middle class, and his corporate tax plan, combined with regulatory reform, would make it easier for manufacturers to bring jobs back to the US. His personal income tax plan is a significant simplification over the current complicated tax code -- two brackets, five deductions -- but it has the advantage of being politically plausible. It's not the sort of shocking departure that would be easy to demagogue. It retains the deductions that most taxpayers use and expect.

As a senator, Rick Santorum was a leader on the issue of welfare reform, understanding the moral and economic imperative of helping Americans by helping them move from dependency into self-sufficiency.

Energy is a major focus of Santorum's speeches. He sees the controversy over hydraulic fracturing, a practice that dates back to World War II, as nothing more than the Green Left's latest fundraising gimmick, now that manmade global warming has run out of gas. Santorum rightly identifies the political agenda behind the Obama administration's restrictions on energy exploration, production, and transportation. To Obama and his allies, higher prices are a feature of the Obama energy policy, not a bug.

On foreign policy, Santorum understands the essence of the threat faced by western civilization and is willing to give it its proper name. Santorum says the "Global War on Terror" is a misnomer. Terror isn't an enemy; it's a tactic used by the enemy, which he correctly identifies as radical Islamism. A President Santorum will not bow to foreign potentates.

When asked by an ORU student to contrast his foreign policy with that of Ron Paul, Santorum said, "I believe in peace through strength; he believes... well, maybe I'll just say, he doesn't. I believe that America is the source of stability in the world.... If we do what Congressman Paul has suggested.... there are forces in the world that would replace us, that would not have our best interests in mind. There wouldn't be a vacuum." He noted that radical Islamists, China, and Russia are poised to move in in response to American disengagement from the world.

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The media has made Santorum out to be the social issues candidate, but social issues haven't been the focus of his campaign materials or his speeches. His thoughts on social issues line up perfectly with the majority of Oklahomans, and while other candidates (including President Obama) pay lip service to these issues but shrink back apologetically when challenged by the liberal media, Rick Santorum patiently defends his views, which are grounded in first principles. Santorum was a leader in the fight against the barbaric practice of partial birth abortion and in the effort, inspired by the plight of Terri Schindler Schiavo, to protect the incapacitated from being starved and dehydrated to death.

Yes, Rick Santorum has made some disappointing compromises during his 16 years in Congress. But so have the Oklahoma politicians who have endorsed Romney, a man whose entire political career has been about morphing his political positions for political expediency.

(When a planet wobbles from its predicted orbit, astronomers know to look for a hidden force pulling on the planet. It's how we discovered Neptune and Pluto.)

Some Republicans are laundry-list conservatives -- they can check all the right boxes on the candidate survey, but they miss the heart of the matter. As I wrote about the 2010 governor's race:

In my years of involvement in conservative and Republican politics, I've noticed that there are those politicians who profess support for the laundry list of conservative positions on the current list of hot issues and then there are those who understand the issues of the day in terms of the bigger picture -- a coherent philosophy of government, society, and human nature and a view of the long-term consequences of today's decisions. Elected officials in the latter group seem less likely to be led astray; when a new issue comes along, they have a philosophical compass to guide their decisions, while members of the former group are susceptible to lobbyist suasion.

I'd rather have a laundry-list conservative in office than the left-wing equivalent, but I'd much rather have a leader who sees today's issues in terms of our future liberty and prosperity, guided by a coherent conservative philosophy.

Rick Santorum is that kind of leader. It shows in his personal life and in the politically costly stands he has taken, common-sense stands that sent the nasty, radical Left into conniptions.

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Like Ann Coulter used to believe, before she drank the Jim Jones powdered drink mix, I believe that Romney would be a disaster as the GOP's general election candidate. He doesn't provide enough of a contrast to Obama on the big issue that drove the big Republican gains in 2010: Obamacare and the need to repeal it before it comes into full effect. Back on September 7, 2011, the Wall Street Journal editorial board called Romney's economic plan "surprisingly timid and tactical."

The attempt by Romney fans to end things quickly and create a bandwagon through endorsements underscored his inability to withstand scrutiny. The best hope of the Romney camp was to dishearten conservatives, to crush their hope of a conservative alternative, to convince them to surrender early on to the inevitability of the Romney nomination and not waste their contributions and volunteer time on another candidate.

Romney is this year's "it's his turn" candidate, the latest representative of a 24 year pattern in which Mr. Second Place becomes front runner for the next go-around, attracting endorsements and cash from bandwagon-jumpers who like to bet on a sure thing. States leapfrogged each other on the primary calendar in hopes of having some voice in the process, but the plurality-takes-all delegate allocation rules in most states made an early win essential for all but the most well funded candidate. In 2008, the race was all but over by Valentine's Day. Romney threw in the towel the day after Tsunami Tuesday. Republicans then spent the next 10 months with a bad case of buyer's remorse, mitigated only for a week or two after McCain's vice presidential pick.

Despite brazen violations by a few states, the new GOP rules for 2012 have had the desired effect of slowing down the process, allowing for more states and more Republicans to have a meaningful say in the choice of a nominee, providing time for voters to take a close look at potential nominees before they have the nomination practically sewn up.

Back in December, when Rick Santorum was barely polling above Jon Huntsman and Buddy Roemer, I dismissed him as an also-ran, handicapped by the 2006 loss of his Senate seat and his unwise endorsement of Arlen Specter.

But as I wrote that, Santorum, accompanied by his wife Karen and their children, was working harder than any other candidate, campaigning in every county in Iowa. His persistence paid with a first-place finish on Iowa caucus night, a shoestring campaign finishing just ahead of the candidate with all the money in the world.

Unlike the other not-Romneys who emerged and faded under scrutiny, Santorum has shown staying power. I believe it's because his positions on the issues are really what he believes. They aren't calculated for the sake of political expediency. Santorum has thought through the big issues that challenge our nation.

Even if I haven't persuaded you to support Santorum on his own merits, I hope you'll consider the tactical case for a Santorum vote in Oklahoma.

If you're an Oklahoma conservative who doesn't want a nominee who has flip-flopped on all the big issues, who has rejected and embraced Reagan and the conservative movement on an as-needed basis, voting for Rick Santorum is the best way to block Romney's momentum and keep the Republican Party's options open. If you're an Oklahoma fan of Gingrich or Paul, voting for Santorum is the best thing you can do to block Romney and keep your man's candidacy viable.

Tactical voters have to begin from the starting point of the latest polls. Who is in a position to finish first? Who is in a position to win delegates? The number of tactical voters is small enough that you can only hope to tilt a closely balanced race. In a recent poll, Santorum was leading statewide and in each congressional district. Right now, what's in the balance is a win for Santorum big enough to deny Romney any Oklahoma delegates under Oklahoma's proportional delegate allocation rules. It's an important step toward knocking out Romney and opening up the race.

In Georgia there's a different answer to that question, and if I lived in Georgia, I'd cast a tactical vote for Newt. If I lived in Virginia, where only Romney and Paul are on the ballot, I'd vote for Ron Paul. But in every other Super Tuesday state, including Oklahoma, Ohio, and Tennessee, Santorum is the best tactical choice.

But I think that if conservative Oklahoma voters will listen to his speeches and compare his record to the other candidates, you'll come to the same conclusion that I've reached: Rick Santorum is the best candidate to carry our conservative Oklahoma values into the general election and on to the White House.

EARLIER BatesLine ARTICLES:

This is a preliminary report, mainly so I can get the audio and some photos online. I plan to transcribe additional quotes as I have opportunity.

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Sen. Rick Santorum spoke to a standing-room only crowd of about 1000 people at Grace Church last night, March 4, 2012, focusing attention on his energy and tax plans and the importance of Republicans nominating a candidate who presents voters with a clear choice in November.

The backdrop for the event were big video displays with the slogan, "The courage to fight for American jobs." At the heart of the speech was Santorum's emphasis on promoting job growth by supporting the development of domestic energy resources and a simpler tax system.

Santorum called for throwing out the tax code and replacing it with two rates, 10% and 28%, and retaining only five deductions: children, charities, pensions, healthcare, and housing. "Maybe I'm for a simple tax code for a selfish reason.... Unlike everyone else in the race, I actually do my own taxes."

Corporations would be a simple net profit tax with a single rate of 17.5%, half the current maximum rate. (The US maximum rate will be the highest in the world as of April 1 when Japan is set to cut their rate.) In order to bring manufacturing jobs back to America, Santorum proposes a rate of 0 for manufacturing and processing.

He noted that the complex tax code puts small businesses at a disadvantage to larger rivals, as it's harder for a small business to find the loopholes that big companies use.

On energy, Santorum focused on Obama administration obstruction of energy exploration. He mentioned a visit to a shale oil well-head Tioga, N. D., and the hindrance caused by the lack of a pipeline that could bring that oil more efficiently to market.

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Santorum, accompanied by his wife and three of his children, expressed his appreciation for the warm welcome they've received in Oklahoma. Noting that Gingrich and Romney both have home states with primaries on Super Tuesday, while his home state of Pennsylvania won't be voting, "if I feel like I have any home state up on Super Tuesday, it's here in Oklahoma."

After the speech, Santorum worked the rope line taking pictures with everyone who wanted one. Later, he and his family posed with Jim Bob Duggar and family, here from Arkansas to campaign for Santorum.

Shortly after Santorum began to speak, he was interrupted by a heckler, who, I was told, was an Occupod. (I mistakenly tweeted that the heckler was a Paulbot, which was not the case.) The heckler was shown the door. From my side of the auditorium it was impossible to make out what the heckler was shouting.

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1170 KFAQ morning show host Pat Campbell kicked off the event by explaining his break with usual practice in endorsing Santorum, rather than revealing his choice after the election. (Co-host Eddie Huff has also endorsed Santorum.) Campbell was a new talk show host in Erie, Pa., in 1994, when Santorum ran against an appointed incumbent Democrat to win a seat in the Senate. Campbell said Santorum is the only politician he's ever endorsed.

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Campbell spoke about the mockery being directed by the mainstream media at Santorum's faith, specifically comments he made in a 2008 speech at Ave Maria University:

But the reality is those things that Rick Santorum talked about at Ave Maria -- I believe them, you believe them. When they laugh at Rick Santorum, they're laughing at us. They don't get us. We're flyover country.... If Rick Santorum, his wife Karen, and their children were to move to Tulsa, Oklahoma, tomorrow, they'd fit right in, because he is one of us. He gets it. All of the things that we cherish and hold true and sacred, Rick Santorum holds true and sacred.

Campbell stated that Santorum presents the strongest contrast in the general election to Barack Obama, noted the endorsement Santorum received from Jim Inhofe, and called on the audience to volunteer, explaining the importance of getting Santorum over the 50% mark to win all of Oklahoma's 40 delegates.

In her introduction, Rep. Peterson called Santorum "the real deal... the most authentic conservative that is running today... a sincere, authentic, genuine conservative, and he's been that way for years, and he hasn't changed."

Peterson recalled meeting Ronald Reagan in Tulsa in 1976, when the conventional wisdom said that Ronald Reagan was too conservative to be elected, and Gerald Ford was nominated because he would be electable. Ford went on to lose to Jimmy Carter. "We had to wait four years for a real conservative" to be the Republican nominee in 1980. This time around, Peterson said, "we do not have four years to wait for a real conservative to run for president." She concluded by calling on the audience to "stand to your feet, cheer, shout, and welcome the best choice for president of the United States, Rick Santorum." The audience complied enthusiastically.

AUDIO:

I started recording in the middle of Pat Campbell's introduction -- sorry, forgot to start the recorder before the meeting began. For the sake of completeness, I have my recording of Santorum's speech below, but KFAQ has much better audio at this link. (Unfortunately, they don't have the introductory material.)

20120304_A_Pat_Campbell_Intro.mp3

20120304_B_Pam_Peterson_Intro.mp3

20120304_C_Santorum_Speech.mp3

MORE COVERAGE:

Pat McGuigan reports for Capitol Beat OK on Santorum's visit to the State Capitol earlier in the day.

State Rep. Mike Reynolds, an Oklahoma City Republican, introduced the former Pennsylvania senator at the rally, at one point recalling Santorum's vigor in defending the U.S. against "radical Islam" in an appearance at the University of Oklahoma in Norman several years ago. Santorum remembered, "Mike Reynolds was talking about that event I did in Norman some five or six years ago I think it was. Gosh, here were all sorts of protestors. It was very hostile. I never expected that in Oklahoma."

The Occupods were in OKC, too, but they were harder to budge there:

A group of a dozen demonstrators disrupted the first half of Santorum's speech with a "mic check" -- the prelude to a verbal attack on the candidate. The group tore Santorum signs, screamed at him as he gave his speech, and denounced his views repeatedly. After about 20 minutes, Capitol police met quietly with the demonstrators and encouraged them to leave, which they did.

KOTV News on 6's Emily Baucum has a good video synopsis of Santorum's Tulsa speech. You may be able to spot me snapping some of the pictures you see above. (Hat tip to reader Art Fern.)

OKGOP-logo.jpgIn the wake of the Michigan Republican presidential primary, in which Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney won an equal number of congressional districts, each worth two delegates, there was a dispute over whether the two at-large delegates should be divided between Romney and Santorum (since no candidate received a majority of the statewide vote) or both given to the candidate who received the plurality. Had the Michigan Republican Party published its delegate allocation rules in advance of the primary, the dispute and the consequent accusations of bad faith could have been avoided.

In doing my own research on delegate allocation in each state, I have noticed that state party websites rarely have updated information about anything, and they're especially bad about not posting rules, resolutions, and other "party business" documents.

In light of that problem, and in order to avoid a repeat of the Michigan mishegoss, I urged Oklahoma Republican Party leadership to publicize Oklahoma's allocation rules in advance of Tuesday's primary. This evening, Oklahoma GOP vice chairman Pam Pollard sent me the official 2012 National Delegate Award Methodology (PDF). This methodology was approved last year by the Oklahoma Republican State Committee, which is the governing body of the state party, consisting of the County Chairman, Vice Chairman, State Committeeman and State Committeewoman from each county, and all Republican state and federal elected officials.

Some key points (my paraphrase of the official rules):


  • The three Republican National Committee members (Chairman Matt Pinnell, National Committeeman James Dunn, National Committeewoman Carolyn McLarty) will not be bound by the primary result.

  • It takes a majority (50% + one vote) to win all the delegates in each congressional district (3 each) and statewide to win all 25 at-large delegates.

  • If no one has a statewide majority, the 25 delegates will be split among all candidates with at least 15% of the statewide vote in proportion to their share of the vote among the candidates with at least 15%. If rounding results in an unallocated delegate, it will go to the top vote-getter.

  • In any congressional district, if three or more candidates get 15% of the vote, the top three candidates get one delegate each. If only two get 15% of the vote or more, the top candidate gets two and the second-place candidate gets one. If only one candidate breaks 15% or if a candidate gets 50% or more, he will get all three delegates

After the jump, the full text of the document:

Fellow Rick Santorum supporters, your help is needed today. From Oklahoma Santorum HQ:

The Duggars Are Coming Back To Tulsa

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar want your help.

The stars of TLC's reality television series invite you to come help this Sunday afternoon. We will be reaching out to Oklahomans, to get out to vote this Tuesday for Rick.

Teams all across Green Country are organizing to impact the state with sign-waves from 3-5pm. Others are manning the phone banks in our headquarters from 2-5pm.

The many volunteers of the Santorum Oklahoma campaign are thrilled to see so many great people coming to Rick Santorum's side during this important election for the future of our nation.

Tulsa area volunteers; please meet at the headquarters at 2pm.

Santorum Tulsa HQ is at 6969 E 71st Street, just east of Mai's Tailor Shop and behind Señor Tequila's Restaurant.

You may be thinking that because the polls show Santorum with a big lead in Oklahoma, you don't need to help, but you'd be wrong. If Santorum can win 50% statewide and 50% in each congressional district, he gets all of Oklahoma's 40 delegates at stake. Less than 50% only wins a share. And a shellacking of his rivals -- winning by large margins -- would help him win big in the next round of primaries.

This just in from Santorum Oklahoma HQ.

Sen. Rick Santorum will return to Oklahoma for two campaign stops on Sunday, March 4, 2012.

Oklahoma City: 3:30 p.m., north steps of the State Capitol.

Tulsa: 6:30 p.m., Grace Church, 9610 S. Garnett Road.

ricksantorumlogo.jpg

Santorum at ORU (portrait crop) (MDB20765)
Some friends of mine, long-time local conservative activists, have endorsed Rick Santorum in next Tuesday's Oklahoma presidential preference primary. They've notified their friends of their endorsement, but for their own reasons can't make the endorsement public. They are however willing to share their rationale, and I think it's worth your time to read.

They also remind that early voting ("absentee in person") is available at your county's election board at the following times.

Friday, March 2, 2012: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday, March 3, 2012: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Monday, March 5, 2012: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Whether you vote early at the county election board or on election day at your precinct's polling place, you must bring a government-issued form of identification -- either your voter ID card or some government issued ID with your photo and an expiration date after the date of the election. The state election board explains what kind of ID is allowed by law.

The Santorum campaign in Oklahoma could use your help. They are making personal phone calls to Oklahoma voters and need more workers to reach all the people they hope to reach. Phone the Oklahoma HQ at 918-928-7776 to find out what you can do. There are opportunities all over the state. A team of Texas volunteers is coming up to work along the southern tier of Oklahoma. (Texas's primary has been delayed until May 29, the result of a court battle over congressional redistricting.)

If you're a homeschooler, by volunteering for Santorum you'd be supporting the first homeschool dad to serve as president since perhapsTeddy Roosevelt. And what better way to teach the importance of civic involvement and how our election process works than to spend a few hours as a campaign volunteer.

I've put the full text of the activists' endorsement after the jump, but here are some of the key points:

  • Santorum has signed the Americans for Tax Reform's Taxpayer Protection Pledge
  • Santorum's endorsement by the Susan B. Anthony List, a political action committee devoted to promoting pro-life candidates: "Among the field of strong pro-life candidates in the GOP primary, one stands out as a proven leader in this great human and civil rights cause of our time. Rick Santorum communicates the vision and has exhibited the strategic and tactical prowess the pro-life movement must have in order to succeed. Women and children deserve his leadership, grounded as it is in affirming the dignity of every person. At this inflection point in the primary process and a tipping point in history on the abortion issue, the Susan B. Anthony List endorses Rick Santorum for the Republican nomination for President."
  • Santorum's A+ lifetime NRA rating and strong career ratings from many other conservative organizations.
  • In line with the mainstream of conservative activists on 2nd Amendment rights, energy production (a major theme of his Tulsa speech), illegal immigration, national defense and foreign policy, and cultural issues in military policy.
  • My friends weren't sure about Santorum's position with regard to Israel, since he didn't address it in his ORU speech, but here's an oped he wrote for National Review in May 2011: Israel in Peril. His concluding paragraph:

    Israel has long enjoyed the support of the United States. Our mutual ties have been historical, cultural, religious, and strategic. Today those ties have been put in more doubt than at any other time in the history of our relationship. Israel hasn't changed, the United States has. But the United States, a large and powerful country, is not in danger of disappearing. The same cannot be said of Israel and it is to our shame that we have increased that risk for the Jewish state. One can only hope this dangerous turn in our foreign policy will change. In the meantime, it is the duty of each and every American citizen who abhors terrorism and supports freedom to stand up and say, "I support Israel."

    Now here's the full endorsement from my activist friends:

    The nice thing about running your own website is you get to decide which ads run alongside your words.

    This morning I received notification from BlogAds of an ad submission "paid for by the Ron Paul Presidential Campaign Committee, Inc." (Saber Communications submitted the ad.) They wanted to run the "Rick Santorum is a Conservative Fake" ad on BatesLine through the primary. It would have been worth $200. I turned it down. I'm not going to run Ayatollah Ron Paul's garbage on this website, not for $200,000.

    Ron Paul is in no position to judge anyone's conservatism. Although he is pro-life, he's a liberal on most social issues and an appeaser on foreign policy. I believe the culture of a campaign is a reflection on the candidate, and his followers' practice of taqiyya (lying for the sake of advancing the cause) and their messianic devotion to him says much, none of it good, about the man.

    The modern conservative movement has been described as a three-legged stool -- social, fiscal, and defense. Santorum and Gingrich are the only candidates who are consistently conservative in all three areas, and Santorum is the most conservative candidate in the race with a chance of winning the nomination and beating Obama.

    ricksantorumlogo.jpg

    Here's the only Ron Paul ad you'll ever see on BatesLine.

    Oral Roberts University has posted video of their recent town hall events, sponsored by the ORU College Republicans, with Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich:

    Rick Santorum speaks at Oral Roberts University, February 9, 2012

    Newt Gingrich speaks at Oral Roberts University, February 20, 2012

    Santorum at ORU (MDB20793)SoonerPoll.com has released a poll of 300 likely Oklahoma Republican presidential primary voters (deemed likely because of voting history). 278 said they planned to vote in the March 6 Super Tuesday primary. Margin of error is +/- 5.66%. The survey occurred over a nine-day period (February 8 - February 16).

    The result:Santorum 38.5%, Romney 23.0%, Gingrich 18.0%, and Paul 7.6%, with 12.9% Don't Know / Refused.

    Because Oklahoma's primary is in March, the new national Republican rules require allocation to be proportional. 25 delegates will be allocated based on the statewide result, and 3 delegates will be allocated based on the result in each congressional district. You must have at least 15% to get any delegates, and if you break 50% you get all the delegates. Based on the results of this poll (and with the understanding that the congressional district subsamples are so small the margin of error is enormous), Santorum would get 12 statewide delegates, Romney 7, Gingrich 6. Santorum would win all the delegates in the 1st and 2nd CDs and two of three in CDs 3, 4, and 5. Romney would win one delegate each in CD 3 and CD 4; Gingrich would win one delegate in CD 5. The grand total would be Santorum 24, Romney 9, Gingrich 7.

    If Santorum could get key endorsements in central and western Oklahoma (paging James Lankford), he would have a shot at sweeping all the delegates.

    You may recall that in 2008, Mike Huckabee won the 1st and 2nd CDs, while McCain won the other three plus the statewide vote by a narrow margin.

    Question 4 has got to be a typo. I hope the callers didn't read the question like this, but here's how it's presented in the poll result:

    4. As you know, the Republican Presidential preferential primary election is February 5, 2008, do you plan to vote in that election?

    planned_parenthood_mammograms.jpgThe Washington, D.C., based blog Alexa Shrugged weighs into the debate over the Obamacare mandate that would force church-owned institutions to fund insurance coverage for contraception, abortifacients, and abortion even if such funding violates the principles of the owners. Alexa has posted three installments in this series, marshaling facts, figures, and reason to counter some of the wild claims made by the left.

    This issue is a gut check for conservatives: Will we acquiesce in the Left's framing of the issue (aided and abetted by the mainstream media) as a question of banning contraception or endangering women's health, and shrink away from any further debate in hopes the issue will go away? Or will we stay in the debate, defending religious liberty, keeping the focus on the egregious attempt by the Obama administration to force its values on religious Americans and the institutions they've built and funded with their own money? Precisely because this is a liberty issue, it ought to win the support of libertarians and social liberals and moderates. If you're an Obama fan, you may think government power will only be used to coerce conservatives to do what you want, but once that power is there, once the precedent is set, it could be used to coerce you to violate your own conscience.

    Here are links and excerpts for the articles in Alexa's series so far:

    Part 1: Controlling the Birth Control Debate

    Hey liberals: You know that if the Obamacare law has the power to mandate the right to free birth control, it also has the power to ban it, right? As Rush Limbaugh said, "Obamacare could ban contraception. Once Obamacare is implemented, the government can make any change unilaterally it wants." As in, the next president, (oh, let's REALLY give them chills!) maybe Santorum, can not only change that mandate, but replace it with whatever other mandate he wants because the law gives him that power. As they say, "A government big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away."

    If the government can force insurers to cover birth control for free, and can force you to buy health care, what CAN'T it force companies and citizens to do? I am very afraid that if the Supreme Court does not declare Obamacare unconstitutional we will find out.

    Part 2: Debunking the Myth that 99% of Women Are Using Birth Control

    First of all, if this is true, clearly there is no crisis of accessibility or cost - 99% is as universal for coverage as you'll ever get. And if 99% of women already have a way of getting or paying for birth control, then why in the world do we need to make it free through an Obamacare mandate?? ....

    #5: The fact sheet says "only 7% of women aged 15-44 are at risk for unintended pregnancy but are not using contraceptives." This does not address WHY these women are not using contraceptives - maybe they don't care either way if they get pregnant - but Democrats seem to assume it is because they're not handed out for free. So, we're forcing EVERYONE to subsidize ALL women's birth control for Obamacare - including those who can pay, those who already get it free or at a discount - because up to 7% of women "at risk" are not using it???

    Part 3: No, Planned Parenthood, Birth Control is NOT "Basic Health Care"

    Unlike abortion, which stops a beating heart and ends a life, I am pro-choice when it comes to contraception. However, contraceptives are, on the whole, not a health care need, but a lifestyle want. The vast majority of women don't use contraception because they need to prevent pregnancy for their health but because they don't want children at that particular point in time in their lives, for whatever reason, that's fine to me...

    Alexa lists a number of cancers and other dire side effects linked to hormonal contraceptives:

    Even Planned Parenthood lists the serious and potentially fatal side effects for contraceptives with estrogen like the pill, the patch and the NuvaRing as heart attack, stroke, having a blood clot in the legs, lungs, heart, or brain, or developing high blood pressure, liver tumors, gallstones, or yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice). (Interesting aside - Planned Parenthood lists these risks under the section labeled "What are the Disadvantages of xxx" and not under "How safe is xxx." Seems like it should be the opposite. Or both.)...

    I encourage you to click through and read all three articles. I've just added Alexa Shrugged to the BatesLine blogroll, so you'll see new items in the series as they're posted.

    MORE: The Heritage Foundation's blog has excerpts from the testimony of two women, Oklahoma Christian University senior vice president Allison Dabbs Garrett and Calvin College medical director and physician Dr. Laura Champion, who testified last week at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the Obamacare anti-conscience mandate. A key quote from Garrett:

    There is a vast difference between the right to make a purchase for oneself and requiring someone else to pay for it.

    And another pithy quote on the topic, from Frank J. Fleming (@IMAO_) on Twitter:

    If you want contraceptives to be a personal matter, you probably shouldn't force other people to pay for it.

    There have been many comments on problems with the count in the straw presidential poll taken at the Maine Republican municipal caucuses. Results from certain caucuses were excluded because the caucus was held outside the dates specified by the state party rules. In one case, a caucus was delayed because of bad weather, but the state party opted to announce the straw poll results on the date expected by the media, even though not all caucuses had been held.

    Some supporters of a certain presidential candidate are convinced that the problems were deliberately designed to favor the former governor of a nearby state and deprive their candidate of the opportunity to claim a win. Many seem to believe that a caucus straw poll is just another way to have a primary, and they're upset that the results can't be certified like a real primary election.

    The way Maine selects its delegates is like nearly every other state Republican party -- a series of caucuses and conventions beginning at the local level and working up to the congressional district and state level where delegates and alternates to the national convention are elected. What makes Maine, Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri and other states different is that their elected national convention delegates may vote as they please. In Oklahoma and most other primary states, the national convention delegates elected at state and congressional district conventions are bound by the result of the presidential preference primary. (There are a few states, like Illinois and New York, where voters vote directly for delegates, who may be pledged to a specific presidential candidate.)

    Before 1988, Oklahoma's delegates were unbound, as in Maine, but they were elected based on their allegiance to the candidate preferred by most state and district convention delegates. My recollection is that all of our delegates in 1976 and 1980 went to Reagan, despite a strong minority in 1976 that preferred Ford. (I was at the 1st Congressional District convention in 1976 at Nathan Hale High School Auditorium. Dad was the lone Wagoner County delegate and convention secretary that year, and in the minority as a Ford fan. In 1980 I attended both 1st District and state conventions.)

    In the days when most delegates were unbound by primaries, it was important for caucus-goers to elect people they trusted, who shared their values, to be delegates at the county convention, and so on up the chain to the national convention. Someone running to be a national delegate might pledge to back a particular presidential candidate, but it was important to pick someone whose values you trusted, as the delegate always had the option of changing his mind at the convention. In the weeks leading up to the 1976 convention, Ford and Reagan targeted their campaigns at the 2,259 delegates, trying to hold on to their own and pry some loose from the other side. (The final tally was Ford 1,187, Reagan 1,070, Elliot Richardson 1, with 1 abstention. Here's the 1976 Republican roll call, as it appeared in the St. Petersburg Times, on Aug 20, 1976. All of Oklahoma's 36 delegates went to Reagan.)

    In a state like Maine that doesn't bind its delegates, the straw poll is just an extra -- a way to check the mood of the state's Republican grassroots activists, using the excitement of the presidential campaign to boost caucus turnout, and fodder for a press release and national attention.

    Here's a comment I posted at Maggie's Notebook and, in a slightly different form, in response to Slublog's post at Ace of Spades HQ:

    I don't think this was by design at all. Precinct, county, and state Republican Parties are largely run by volunteers. In a year with less attention focused on every caucus, a sloppily tallied straw poll or a county convention rescheduled for weather would be no big deal.

    It's important to distinguish between the caucuses and the straw poll taken at the caucuses. They're two different things. Even if there were no straw poll, even if there were a primary, there would still have to be caucuses as part of the process of electing Maine's delegates to the Republican National Convention. Municipal and county caucuses elect delegates to the state convention who, in turn, elect delegates to the national convention.

    So if you're going to have all these Republicans gathering anyway, why not take a straw poll? And why not use the straw poll to drive up caucus participation?

    What went wrong in Maine is that the national media, hungry for any numbers at all in a month without primaries, made a big deal out of the results, and the Maine party was unprepared for the onslaught of attention and the media's expectation of a rigorous result.

    The only poll that really matters is a poll of Maine's elected delegation to the Republican National Convention. That won't be determined until May 6.

    RELATED:

    The Green Papers on the history of the formulas used to apportion national convention delegates to the states, and the origins of bonus delegates and super delegates.

    St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press - Aug 19, 1976: 6th District Delegates Held Tight for Reagan: Describes a delegate who was a Ford backer but won his seat by pledging to vote for Reagan; he held to his pledge despite pressure to flip.

    Spokane Daily Chronicle - Aug 19, 1976: State Delegate Gets Revenge: Anida Pithoud, National Committeewoman from Washington state, ousted from her post by conservatives at the state convention, delivered a seconding speech for Ford and was happy to see the Reagan majority the the Washington delegation disappointed. She complained that conservatives had been trying to take over the state party's central committee for 10 years and complained about the Reagan-bots in familiar terms:

    She was one of only seven Ford delegates in the 38-member delegation. She maintained Reagan was able to capture the other 31 because of the participation of many people who "came in only on account of Reagan and will disappear now."

    The (Pomeroy-Middleport, Oh.) Daily Sentinel - Jul 22, 1976: Reagan Raiding Ohio Delegates: Reports that Reagan had sent operative Jeff Bell to Ohio to lure away some of Ford's 91 delegates, while the Ford team went after Reagan's six Ohio delegates, arguing "that the President has a better chance of beating Jimmy Carter in November."

    Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich will be speaking at ORU's Mabee Center next Monday, February 20, 2012, and in Oklahoma City as well. Here are the details from an email from the Oklahoma Republican Party:

    Tulsa - 2:00 pm
    Mabee Center, Oral Roberts University
    7777 S Lewis Avenue
    Tulsa, OK 74136

    Oklahoma City - 6:30 pm
    Jim Thorpe Museum
    4040 N Lincoln Boulevard
    Oklahoma City, OK 73105

    This event is free to listeners of a certain talk radio station -- and everyone else.

    Newt Gingrich and Callista Gingrich, September 11, 2010, S3016602

    BatesLine photo: Newt Gingrich and Callista Gingrich introduce the premier of America at Risk: The War with No Name, at the Newseum in Washington, D. C., September 11, 2010.

    Rick Santorum at ORU audio

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    Expect a Miracle (MDB20804)

    Here is the complete audio in MP3 format of Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum's speech at Oral Roberts University's Mabee Center in Tulsa on February 9, 2012. The links lead directly to MP3 files. This audio came from my personal audio recorder, so the quality could be better. I'm posting it because no one else seems to have recorded or posted the intros, the Q&A, Santorum's closing remarks, or the final ORU disclaimer.

    Rick Santorum listens to a question from ORU College Democrats president Jonathan Townsend (MDB20781) by Michael Bates, on Flickr

    And if you prefer to download it all at once, here's the entire Rick Santorum at ORU program, from Kara Evans' first introduction to her final disclaimer.

    Permission is granted to use excerpts of this audio, under the following conditions: (1) Provide a link to this entry; (2) cite www.batesline.com as the source of the audio; (3) email me at blog at batesline dot com with a link to where you've posted it.

    ORU College Republicans president Kara Evans, State Rep. Pam Peterson applaud Rick Santorum as he prepares to speak at ORU Mabee Center (MDB20761) by Michael Bates, on Flickr

    ORU College Republicans president Kara Evans, State Rep. Pam Peterson applaud Rick Santorum as he prepares to speak at ORU Mabee Center

    Photos Copyright 2012 by Michael D. Bates. All rights reserved.

    MORE: Don't miss Katherine Bates' guest opinion on Rick Santorum's visit.

    I'm still working on my comprehensive report of Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum's speech at Oral Roberts University. In the meantime, I'm pleased to introduce a new contributor to BatesLine, who provides her own concise and insightful perspective on Santorum's visit to Tulsa. (I'm especially pleased to have a contributor who needs no editing whatsoever.)

    Santorum sincere, straightforward
    by Katherine Bates, apprentice pundit
    Special to BatesLine

    Katherine-20120207-250px.jpgAuthentic. Sincere. Straightforward. People who heard Rick Santorum speak at the Mabee Center on February 9, 2012 used all of these words. During his short speech, he captivated listeners, and received over ten standing ovations. He could hardly get more than a sentence out without the audience applauding. He spoke clearly, and he conveyed his points very well. Santorum is an amazing speaker, and doesn't avoid talking about certain issues or topics like most candidates.

    One thing that stood out was his speech on equality, and that our rights are endowed by our CREATOR, and not by the government. So should the government be able to take away our right to choose our doctors, and our health insurance, and our medications? His answer? No, absolutely not!

    Another topic Santorum spoke about was Affordable Energy. With gas prices today, this topic appealed to everyone.

    At the end of his speech, he answered questions for ORU students. He delivered his answers well, and was patient with each of them. Though other candidates might have cowered away from these topics, Santorum had an immediate and firm answer as each question was thrown at him. In my opinion, we need someone like Santorum, who had his values straight from the beginning, for the next president of the United States.

    Katherine Bates, 11, is a Tulsa-based writer, the author and illustrator of The Toads' Spring Fling, a children's story book, and Katrina, a science fiction short story. She has studied writing with Tulsa-based author Gina Conroy at Augustine Christian Academy and the Institute for Excellence in Writing through the Classical Conversations homeschool program. She is a member of the Tulsa County Impact 4-H Club.


    Photo by Bland Bridenstine

    UPDATE: Because of expected crowds, the Tulsa event has been moved to the "Baby Mabee", the TV production studio just to the east of the Mabee Center on the ORU campus, and the Oklahoma City event has been moved to the Magnuson Hotel and Meridian Conference Center, just south of I-40 on Meridian (this is several miles west of downtown OKC; Republicans will recognize it as the frequent location for state conventions).

    santorum3.jpgRepublican presidential candidate Rick Santorum will be in Oklahoma this Thursday, February 9, 2012, for Oklahoma Republican Party "Victory 2012" events in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Here are the details:

    Oklahoma City - 9:00 am
    Magnuson Hotel and Meridian Conference Center
    737 S Meridian Ave
    Oklahoma City, OK 73108

    Tulsa - 1:30 pm
    "Baby Mabee", east of the Mabee Center, Oral Roberts University
    7777 S Lewis Avenue
    Tulsa, OK 74136

    Oklahoma GOP chairman Matt Pinnell writes:

    We are thrilled to welcome another Presidential candidate to the Reddest State in the Country! If you can win Oklahoma, you can win the conservative vote nationwide. We welcome our Republican candidates to Oklahoma over the coming weeks as they compete to win our "Reddest State" primary.

    The state party hopes to see all the GOP presidential candidates appear at Victory 2012 events in the weeks leading up to the March 6 Oklahoma primary.

    The Oklahoma Republican Party is asking for you to RSVP if you plan to attend either event.

    Oklahoma has such a strong homeschool community (today is Home Educators' Day at the State Capitol), that I'd hope for a big turnout by homeschooling families for their fellow homeschooling dad.

    Some links of interest regarding the presidential campaign:

    Newt Gingrich had to know that he was not going to finish first in Florida and Nevada, so why not be prepared with statement that puts a positive spin on the results in preparation for likelier victories in the south on Super Tuesday? Stacy McCain chalks it up to Newt's narcissism:

    The characteristic trait of the narcissist is his inability to accept responsibility for his own failures. Everybody likes to believe that they deserve credit for their successes, but no one wants to believe that they are at fault when they screw up. This is normal. Yet the damaged ego of the narcissist makes it impossible for him to acknowledge his own contribution to his failures. He cannot even admit to himself that he is at fault, which is why he attempts to focus blame on scapegoats.

    And so when Newt starts pointing the finger, blaming others for his failures, portraying himself as the victim -- of Goldman Sachs, "money power," George Soros, "the elite media," Mormons (!) and a "blatantly dishonest" opponent -- even his supporters ought to recognize these unseemly eruptions as symptomatic of Gingrich's narcissistic tendencies.

    Why do you think I warned you against jumping onto his bandwagon?

    Victor Davis Hanson thinks Newt should have stuck with what was working for him:

    Newt Gingrich's post-Nevada caucus speech included about three minutes of inspired moments about issues and ideas in his usual imaginative and intellectually robust style. So why does he not just stay with that -- given that he often seems more dynamic and glib than Romney in his attacks on Obama, and not long ago gained ground despite the attacks against him? Instead, he now turns ad nauseam to the tired reasons why he loses -- yes, including lots of Mormons in Nevada -- and ends up as Richard Nixon not going to get kicked around any more.

    Hanson offers Newt a history lesson for perspective:

    I don't understand why he thinks now losing to Romney in 2012 is solely due to Romney's innate deviousness in a way McCain beating Romney in 2008 was not -- given that Romney was about the same in both 2008 and 2012. Gingrich seems oblivious to the fact that McCain's style and history gave him advantages over Romney's money and hardball in ways Gingrich's own proven liabilities apparently do not.

    Of course, it was McCain's Turn in 2008, and in 2012, it's Romney's Turn. The "It's His Turn" phenomenon partly reflects, on the part of Republican state and local leaders in places like New Hampshire and Florida, a preference for the familiar and a desire to get on the winning team early, but it also reflects four years of political capital building -- attending fundraisers for state and local parties and candidates, and collecting IOUs to be redeemed when the primaries roll around. Newt could have been doing that for the last 14 years, as the man who led the first Republican takeover of the House in 40 years, but I suspect he hasn't done much of it.

    The Nevada Republican Party finally has all the results in from its 1800 precincts, and Romney, as expected, finished first without about 50% of 32,961 votes cast. Turnout in this binding caucus poll fell far short of 2008, when Romney won 51% of 44,315 votes cast in a non-binding caucus poll (for entertainment purposes only, as they say when they publish sports book odds in the paper). Unsurprisingly, Ron Paul's best showing was in the Kingdom of Nye, Art Bell's home county, home to Area 51.

    According to the Green Papers, Nevada's delegates will be bound proportionally to the poll result, with no minimum threshold. They calculate the result to be Romney 14, Gingrich 6, Paul 5, and Santorum 3. The BatesLine delegate count:

    Romney 73
    Gingrich 29
    Paul 8
    Santorum 3
    Uncommitted 2 (Huntsman's NH delegates)

    Romney still needs 971 delegates for the nomination, and no one can clinch the nomination before April 24.

    MORE:

    Buzzflash asks, "Why didn't Ron Paul's caucus strategy work in Nevada?" Likely answer: You can't win unless you have more supporters than everyone else, no matter how stealthy or strategic you are:

    The Paul and Romney campaigns were the only ones to have a legitimate ground game in Nevada. The fact that Paul didn't easily outstrip Gingrich, who lacked Paul's months of preparation, doesn't bode well for his long-term strategy.

    This news is likely to shock a few Ron Paul supporters: A Bilderberger is the biggest donor to Ron Paul's associated super PAC.

    The largest donor to a SuperPAC supporting Ron Paul is Peter Thiel, the sort of ultra-wealthy, super-national figure Paul and his supporters love to hate.

    Thiel -- who gave $900,000 to the pro-Paul group Endorse Liberty -- made his fortune as the co-founder of PayPal; he was also an early investor in Facebook, and is now a major player in the world of high-tech venture capital. He's also a devoted libertarian and devoted Republican: He hosted a fundraiser for the confrontational gay conservative group GOProud at his grand apartment off Union Square in 2010.

    Thiel is also a member of the steering committee of the Bilderberg Group, the elite, invitation-only conference that's the frequent subject of conspiracy theories.

    Your opportunity to shape the Republican Party's principles, personality, and personnel begins with tomorrow's Republican precinct caucuses.

    Republican caucuses for most Tulsa County precincts will be held tomorrow morning, Saturday, February 4, 2012, at 10 a.m. Most of the rest of Oklahoma will hold precinct caucuses on Monday evening, February 6, 2012.

    For the sake of convenience and efficiency, most Tulsa County precincts will be gathering at central meetings grouped by State House district. Some, however, will be held in individual homes, as was the tradition in years past.

    Here is the current list of Tulsa County GOP precinct caucus locations and precinct officers.

    This is not a comprehensive list, but here are the default locations for the House District central meetings. There are many, many exceptions. Saturday at 10 a.m. is the default time, but again, there are many exceptions. Consult the link in the previous paragraph or contact Tulsa County GOP headquarters at 918-627-5702 for definitive information about a specific precinct:

    HD 11: New Life Assembly of God, 12215 N. Garnett, Collinsville
    HD 23: Martin Regional Library, 2601 S. Garnett, Tulsa
    HD 29: Crossroads Church, 2525 W. Main, Jenks
    HD 36: New Life Assembly of God, 12215 N. Garnett, Collinsville
    HD 66: Charles Page Library, 551 E. 4th St, Sand Springs
    HD 67: Hardesty Regional Library, 8316 E. 93rd St, Tulsa
    HD 68: Crossroads Church, 2525 W. Main, Jenks
    HD 69: St James Presbyterian Church, 11970 S Elm, Jenks (at 1:00 pm Saturday)
    HD 70: Kaiser Library, 5202 S. Hudson Ave., Tulsa
    HD 71: Brookside Baptist Church, 3615 S. Peoria Ave, Tulsa (at 2:00 pm Saturday)
    HD 72: Kendall-Whittier Library, 21 S. Lewis, Tulsa
    HD 73: Kendall-Whittier Library, 21 S. Lewis, Tulsa
    HD 74: New Life Assembly of God, 12215 N. Garnett, Collinsville
    HD 75: Southpark Community Church, 10811 E. 41st St, Tulsa
    HD 76: Arrow Heights Baptist Church, 3201 S. Elm Pl, Broken Arrow
    HD 77: Kendall-Whittier Library, 21 S. Lewis, Tulsa
    HD 78: McKay Law Office, 2301 S. Sheridan, Tulsa
    HD 79: Memorial High School, 5840 S. Hudson, Tulsa
    HD 80: Arrow Heights Baptist Church, 3201 S. Elm Pl, Broken Arrow
    HD 98: Southpark Community Church, 10811 E. 41st St, Tulsa

    In Oklahoma, the main job of a Republican precinct caucus in a presidential year is to elect delegates to the county convention and to consider issues to include in the party platform. You can also put your name forward for consideration to serve on the county convention's platform, rules, and credentials committees.

    On March 24, the county convention will elect delegates to the 1st congressional district and state conventions, and will approve a county platform. The 1st congressional district convention (on April 14) and state convention (on May 12) will elect delegates to the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa.

    There will also be, at least in Tulsa County, a presidential straw poll that has as much weight and significance as the Iowa caucus presidential straw poll in January -- which is to say, it's non-binding. (Oklahoma delegates to the national convention will be bound by the results of the March 6 primary.)

    Although precinct officials are scheduled to be elected only in odd numbered years, this year many precincts will also be filling vacant precinct officer positions, as the redrawing of precinct lines has moved some officers out of their old precincts and left some precincts without officials.

    I'm hopeful that grassroots conservatives will show up to these caucuses to ensure that the Republican platform stands firm on conservative principles at all levels of government, rejecting on the one hand a squishy, apologetic, and barely conservative party and rejecting on the other hand a party in thrall to wacky conspiracy theories.

    Newt Gingrich is challenging the plurality-takes-all allocation of Florida's 50 delegates to the Republican National Convention. Mitt Romney finished first in the January 31st primary with 46% of the vote, which means, according to rules adopted by the Florida state party rules, Romney gets all 50.

    Republicans in Florida and from other states were complaining about the rule violation long before last Tuesday's primary. From January 25, in the Tampa Bay Times:

    All it takes is a registered Florida Republican to file a protest with the RNC, and the party's contest committee would have to consider the issue when it meets in August just before the convention.

    "August is going to be a very tense month for those of us on the committee on contests. We could be the group that everybody loves or everybody hates," said Fredi Simpson, an RNC member from Washington state who sits on that committee and also helped write the rules.

    Like other RNC members, Simpson thinks the rules clearly bar Florida from being winner-take-all. At an RNC meeting in August, members of the Presidential Nominating and Selection Committee passed a resolution calling for the RNC to enforce its rules for proportional delegates on states like Florida that set primaries earlier than April.

    "Florida ought to be proportional, and it is up to the RNC legal office to figure out how they do that. That was absolutely the intention when we wrote that rule," said Pete Ricketts, an RNC member from Nebraska who served on the RNC committee appointed in 2008 to draw up delegate selection rules for 2012....

    Marc Cross, a GOP state committeeman from Osceola County, has already written to the RNC, urging it to review the matter, but the RNC has taken no action.

    If Florida were allocated proportionally, Gingrich would be leading in delegates, by a big margin, and that lead would be guaranteed all the way to February 28, even if Romney got every single delegate in Nevada.

    What's more likely to happen is a big mess that won't get cleaned up until right before the national convention in Tampa, and maybe not even then. The rules adopted by the RNC for the 2012 presidential primary process have succeeded in slowing down and lengthening the primary season, but the new rules failed to cover a number of scenarios, and the result could be a pre-convention mess involving a key swing state.

    So let's explain the numbers first and then the rules mess.

    In a statewide proportional allocation, Romney would have 30 Florida delegates, Gingrich would have 20, as Romney received roughly 60% of the combined Romney-Gingrich total. I'm assuming here the use of the typical 15% threshold, which a candidate would have to exceed in order to receive any delegates at all. Under that scenario, Santorum, Paul, et al., would not receive any delegates.

    It should be noted that RNC rules don't mandate a maximum threshold to be considered proportional. Democratic Party rules mandate 15%, and many state Republican parties (including Oklahoma) have followed suit. New Hampshire uses 10%. Theoretically, Florida could've set 40% as the threshold; Romney would have received all the delegates under that scenario.

    The two states combined, under the Florida GOP's existing rule: Romney 52, Gingrich 23. (Romney won 2 South Carolina delegates by winning a single congressional district.)

    The two states combined, under a proportional rule for Florida: Gingrich 53, Romney 22.

    Add in the New Hampshire results, and the revised total would be Gingrich 53, Romney 29, Paul 3, Huntsman 2.

    (A combination of proportional allocation statewide and proportional allocation by congressional district would give yet a different total, but without results by congressional district, it's impossible to calculate.)

    Florida has already been penalized for holding a primary prior to March 1. According to the rules of the Republican National Committee that govern the 2012 presidential nomination process, a state that binds delegates in any way prior to the March 1 loses half their allotted delegates, and their RNC members (state chairman, national committeeman, national committeewoman) won't be seated at the convention.

    Florida's rules originally called for some of its delegation to be allocated winner-take-all by congressional district, and the remaining delegates winner-take-all based on the statewide primary result. But they also approved a rule that said, essentially, that if the RNC takes away half our delegation because of our early primary, we'll treat the remaining delegates as "at large" and will give them all to the statewide winner.

    But there's also a rule requiring any state (except the four "carve-out" states) binding delegates prior to April 1 to allocate delegates proportionally. The rule doesn't specify how that should be done.

    The four "carve-out" states are Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. They're allowed to bind delegates as early as February 1, and they're not subject to the proportionality rule. That's why Newt's challenge to the Florida allocation won't cost him any delegates in South Carolina, which was allocated winner-take-all statewide and by congressional district. Two of the carve-out states, New Hampshire and South Carolina, lost half of their delegates by going before February 1. (Iowa lost nothing, because they didn't allocate any delegates as a result of the caucus night straw poll. The real Iowa delegate decisions are made at the June state convention.)

    The response by the RNC's general counsel to the question about Florida says, in effect, there's not much more we can do to them:

    By holding its primary on January 31, Florida has violated Rule 15(b). Like the other states in violation, Florida is suffering the mandatory penalties under Rule 16: loss of fifty percent of its delegates and alternates, and the RNC members from Florida cannot serve as delegates. In addition, the RNC Rules Committee imposed every available discretionary penalty - penalties related to convention seating, guest privileges and hotel location. Thus, all of the penalties authorized under the Rules have been imposed on Florida.

    The rules governing the 2012 process were the product of a committee appointed after the 2008 convention. Rather than have a fight at the 2008 convention over a new primary calendar, the convention rules committee rejected the recommended plan by the RNC rules committee, approved a rule creating a special committee to present a proposal for an up-or-down vote by the Republican National Committee.

    Here is the rule change recommended by the Temporary Delegate Selection Committee in June 2010 and approved by the RNC in August 2010:

    Rule No. 15: Election, Selection, Allocation, or Binding of Delegates and Alternate Delegates

    (b) Timing.

    (1) No primary, caucus, or convention to elect, select, allocate, or bind delegates to the national convention shall occur prior to the first Tuesday in March in the year in which a national convention is held. Except Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada may begin their processes at any time on or after February 1 in the year in which a national convention is held and shall not be subject to the provisions of paragraph (b)(2) of this rule.

    (2) Any presidential primary, caucus, convention, or other meeting held for the purpose of selecting delegates to the national convention which occurs prior to the first day of April in the year in which the national convention is held, shall provide for the allocation of the delegates selected on a proportional basis.

    (3) If the Democratic National Committee fails to adopt a presidential primary schedule with the dates set forth in Rule 15(b)(1) of these Rules (February 1 and first Tuesday in March) by December 31, 2010, then the dates in Rule 15(b) shall revert to the dates set forth in the Rules as adopted by the 2008 Republican National Convention.

    You'll notice that they don't define the term "proportional basis."

    The enforcement clause is Rule 16, which calls for the 50% penalty, loss of automatic seats for RNC members, and other potential penalties to be imposed by the RNC's standing committee on rules. That rule doesn't negate the "proportional basis" rule, but it also doesn't provide for additional penalties in the event a state violates both the proportional basis and calendar rules.

    (You can read the complete Rules of the Republican Party here.)

    Newt Gingrich is right to say that Florida has violated the proportionality rule. We'll see whether the Committee on Contests has the guts to enforce it.

    Florida turned out as expected, but as I wrote right after South Carolina, there's no need for anyone of the remaining candidates to head for the exits. Mitt Romney's campaign is restarting the inevitability bandwagon. Pundits are falling over each other to be the first to declare that it's all over, that there's no path to victory for anyone else. (Haven't the pundits ever heard of suspense? That people stay interested only until they know the final outcome?)

    Those of us who bother to read the rules by which the game is played know that the 2012 campaign has just begun. Only 87 of a possible 2286 delegates have been bound to a candidate at this point. 59 delegates -- 7 in New Hampshire, 2 in South Carolina, and 50 in Florida -- have been bound to Mitt Romney. He needs 1,085 more to clinch the nomination, and the earliest possible date he can mathematically accomplish that (assuming all other candidates drop out now) is April 24. More likely, because of many proportionally allocated states, it would be late May or possibly June 5 before anyone could cross the finish line. (Click the graph to see it full-size.)

    BatesLine-2012-GOP-Cumulative-Delegates.PNG

    The Associated Press includes Iowa in its count, but Iowa doesn't elect delegates until June, and, as I noted before the caucus, there's no necessary or mechanical connection between the caucus straw poll results and whom the delegates will support at the Republican National Convention.

    The AP count also includes certain "super-delegates" as pledged to candidates, presumably based on public declarations of support. The members of the Republican National Committee -- state party chairman, national committeeman, and national committeewoman from each state and territory -- are ex-officio convention delegates. A few states require their RNC members to be bound by the result of the primary, but most send their RNC members unbound. RNC members from states that have been penalized for holding a primary too early -- New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, Arizona, Michigan -- won't have a vote at the convention.

    The basis for the above chart is in the BatesLine GOP Delegate Count spreadsheet. I've followed the comprehensive information on delegate allocation found at the Green Papers website, differing only in treating any delegates elected based on their declared presidential preference as bindable delegates. For example, the Green Papers treats all 66 Ohio delegates as unpledged because they aren't legally bound to vote for a particular presidential candidate at the national convention. My count treats all the Ohio delegates (except the three RNC members) as bindable delegates, since the delegates are nominated by a presidential campaign and would have a significant personal stake in voting for the candidate who made it possible for them to attend the national convention.

    The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating interactive graphic, with stair-steps showing how allocated Republican delegates accumulate over time in 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012. It's striking to see how far to the right everything has moved this year. The massive step up on Tsunami Tuesday (February 3, 2008) has moved a month to the right for 2012 and is not nearly as tall. (It's even shorter now that Texas's primary has been moved from Super Tuesday to April, delayed by a redistricting lawsuit.)

    What's especially striking is how flat February is. From February 1 to February 27, only 119 delegates will be allocated, according to the WSJ's graphic. But they're including, incorrectly, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, and Nevada in that total. Those states hold precinct caucuses to elect delegates to county or state legislative district conventions. A presidential straw poll will be held, but, as in Iowa, it won't be binding.

    2012-GOP-Delegates-WSJ.PNG

    The Green Papers uncharacteristically gets one wrong, stating that Nevada's delegates will be bound, proportionally by the results of the presidential preference poll. (That appears to be based on this Republican National Committee summary of all allocation rules, which also gets Nevada wrong.) But the FAQ page on the official Nevada GOP caucus website makes it clear that the final result is contingent on the multi-stage process of electing delegates to the county, district, and state conventions:

    All Delegates and alternate delegates elected at the precinct caucus will meet in March at their county conventions. The county convention will then elect delegates to represent them at the State Convention on May 5-6th. And it's at the State Convention where the delegates and alternates get elected to the Republican National Convention on August 27-30th.

    Since delegates generally vote for other delegates who support the same candidate as they do, it's advantageous for a candidate to elect as many people as possible as delegates at the precinct caucuses. The more delegates a candidate has after the precinct caucuses in February, the greater the chance they will have the most delegates from Nevada to the National Convention on August 27-30th.

    (UPDATE 2012/01/23: In the comments, Nevada blogger Michael P. Chamberlain mentions that he spoke to a state party official about the allocation rule:

    I received confirmation today from the [Nevada Republican Party]'s Caucus Director that Nevada's delegates to the National Convention will be allocated (and bound for the first ballot) by the state-wide results of the Presidential Preference Poll that is part of the caucus on February 4.

    I've asked Michael to see if he can get some additional details: The text of the basis (rule, resolution) that defines how delegates will be allocated, whether there will be a threshold, and how rounding is handled.)

    So where does that leave the race?

    Romney still has a poll lead in Florida, and money matters because of the ten media markets that a candidate must cover, so let's figure that he wins. Given that, what will the pledged delegate count be on February 28, going into Arizona and Michigan?

    Romney 59
    Gingrich 23
    Paul 3
    Huntsman 2

    In this scenario, Romney will have only 59 of the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination.

    Remember that Iowa's delegates are not pledged. New Hampshire's were allocated proportionally. It appears that Romney won a single South Carolina congressional district, and with it, two delegates.

    On to February 28:

    Michigan's 30 delegates would have been allocated by congressional district (3 each, winner take all) and statewide (proportionally with a 15% threshhold), but it has lost half of its delegates for jumping the gun, and it's unclear how that will affect allocation. Arizona, in the same boat, opted to shift to Winner-Take-All statewide. Romney's father George was governor of Michigan and an auto executive, so he's likely to win nearly all the delegates either way.

    I've already seen a couple of tweets suggesting that Santorum may as well get out of the race now. That would be silly. As former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer tweeted on Saturday night:

    Santorum's thought bubble: I can win this because Newt will blow up Romney, & Newt will also blow up Newt. That leaves me.

    Were I in Rick Santorum's inner circle, I'd suggest he spend most of February raising money and focused on winning Arizona and preparing for a few Super Tuesday states (like Ohio, Oklahoma, and Tennessee). A good showing in some of the February non-binding caucuses would be a good thing, too.

    Santorum has an entire month to promote his recent endorsements by evangelical leaders. They came too late to affect the Stop-Romney tactical move to Gingrich in South Carolina, and they haven't yet arrived in a way that connects with the targeted voters. An email in a homeschooling mom's inbox about an endorsement by a particular leader she admires, forwarded by another mom in the homeschool co-op, will have far more impact than the 10-second generic mention of "evangelical leaders" on CNN a week earlier.

    February also gives Santorum plenty of time to position himself as the most electable candidate remaining in the race. Romney doesn't excite the party's core voters. Democrats and Independents already think they know Newt, from the 1990s, and they don't like him. The phrase "First Lady Callista Gingrich" may begin to sink in and worry Republican voters, too.

    If Santorum were to win Arizona and Romney win Michigan, Santorum would pass Gingrich for second place in the delegate count going into Super Tuesday:

    Romney 89
    Santorum 29
    Gingrich 23
    Paul 3
    Huntsman 2

    By my count, 420 bound delegates will be allocated on Super Tuesday, March 6, and by GOP rules it has to be done by some proportional method. It would be mathematically impossible for anyone to reach a majority of bound delegates until after the April 24th primaries, and that's only if someone sweeps the board. Since many of the April states also use proportional allocation, that's unlikely.

    The good news for those of us not in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, or Florida is that we'll still have a meaningful choice to make when it's our turn to vote. If nothing else, we can keep voting to frustrate the front runner of the moment, to ensure no one locks up the nomination before Tampa.

    And if it turns out that we're still not happy with our choices in a month's time, there are some interesting scenarios. I haven't checked, but I suspect there are still many late-season primaries for which the filing deadline has not yet passed, meaning someone new could get in, take a bunch of delegates, and be in a strong position to contend for unpledged delegates leading up to the national convention. Many early states will still have dropped-out candidates on the ballot; one of them could revive their campaign, or people could use one of the ex-candidates as a place for none-of-the-above supporters to vote their preferences.

    Thanks to Sarah Palin, Not Romney won South Carolina by giving Newt Gingrich a plurality of the vote.

    Newt Gingrich's 1st place finish in South Carolina halted Mitt Romney's winning streak of one and deflated the notion that Romney is inevitably going to be the nominee.

    Romney's best assets in this race were his inevitability, his money, and his hair. He's still got the last two, but the first one is badly depleted. There's a certain sort of Republican: They're looking for the front-runner, ready to jump aboard his bandwagon. It's important to them to be on the winning team as soon as possible. Some may be hoping for federal appointments, anything from White House intern to federal district judge.

    It appears that Romney pushed hard right before and after Iowa to lock in as many endorsers as he could, pointing to his money and organization, already in place in key states. Santorum may have finished first by a few votes, but Santorum had put everything he had into Iowa. Gingrich didn't seem to be thinking beyond the next state. Romney will win South Carolina, the pitch went, by a big margin, and if everyone else but Ron Paul didn't drop out then, they would yield to the inevitable after Florida 10 days later.

    What disrupted that momentum was the fact that most conservative Republicans don't trust Romney, and they wanted to stop him. The turning point for South Carolina may have been Tuesday, January 17, 2012, on the Hannity show when Sarah Palin identified how they could do that:

    If I had to vote in South Carolina, in order to keep this thing going, I'd vote for Newt, and I would want this to continue, more debates, more vetting of candidates, because we know the mistake made in our country four years ago was having a candidate that was not vetted, to the degree that he should have been so that we knew what his associations and his pals represented and what went into his thinking, the shaping of who our president today is.

    (When I first heard this clip, I thought Palin had begun to criticize the process that led to the nomination of her running mate, John McCain, and maybe she was headed there and caught herself. Barack Obama got plenty of vetting -- his nomination battle didn't end until June; McCain had his nomination clinched in March, thanks to winner-take-all primaries in which he won slim pluralities, and buyers' remorse quickly set in.)

    You'll recall that in 2008 some national talk show hosts tried to get Republicans to vote strategically on Tsunami Tuesday to stop John McCain. The mistake they made was pushing Romney based on national polling showing him in second, ignoring the individual state polls, which had Huckabee a close second to McCain in Oklahoma and several other states.

    This time around, only one state was voting, and there was a clear second place candidate, Gingrich, who was close enough to have a chance to pass Romney. If you run your mouse along the RealClearPolitics graph of South Carolina polls, there's an inflection point: Beginning on January 18, the day after Palin's comments aired, Newt's numbers began to rise. Rasmussen had Gingrich at 21% on Monday and at 33% on Wednesday.

    The shift to Newt began well before his Thursday evening confrontation with CNN's John King over Mrs. Newt II's comments on ABC. Despite the wishful thinking of the adultery-based community, Newt's win in South Carolina is not a rebuke to his aggrieved second wife. I'm surprised no pollster thought to ask if their support for Newt was mainly a vote to stop Romney.

    Clear Lake, Iowa, 2008, IMG_0685

    BatesLine photo of a front porch with bunting in Clear Lake, Iowa, September, 2008

    Smitty at The Other McCain links to a Buzzfeed story about Ron Paul's strategy to dominate caucus states:

    Paul is following the roadmap set by Barack Obama's 2008 strategy: Start early, learn the rules, and use superior organization and devoted young supporters to dominate the arcane but crucial party procedures in states your rivals are ignoring -- states where caucuses and conventions that elect the delegates who will ultimately choose the Republican candidate. The plan begins in places like Minnetonka, Minnesota, a Minneapolis suburb where Paul has based his state headquarters, and where staffers have already begun running "mock-auses" -- practice runs for Minnesota's February 7 caucuses....

    Paul has, says his campaign chairman Jesse Benton, "offices, staff and strong organization" in ten caucus states besides Iowa: Colorado, Washington, Maine, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri and North Dakota. (Alaska and Hawaii are also a caucus states and prime Paul territory.)

    Those states together will award 419 of the 2,286 delegates who will choose a nominee in Tampa in August. They operate under complex, individual rules that favor the prepared....

    In Iowa, Paul's devoted cadres are up against activists supporting other Republicans. In the next ten caucuses, they're virtually all alone.

    The article goes on to note that Paul backers have been working within the local party organizations in many of these states, volunteering to work at headquarters, working for candidates in local races, and forming alliances with non-Paul backers. Being personally liked and being viewed as a valuable volunteer, not a monomaniacal Paulbot, would help a Paul backer advance through the levels in a caucus/convention state with the support of non-Paul activists.

    Smitty's reaction to the linked Buzzfeed story:

    This is really an argument against "Arcane Rules". We all love to hate on professional politicians, but it is truly a full-time job just to understand the basics of how the sausage is made. Complexity favors the insiders....The two things we have to do, going down the road, are: involve more people, and stamp out complexity. Systems need to be as simple as possible, but no simpler.

    My response to Smitty is that the rules are only arcane to those who don't bother to read them. Iowa's rules are simple: precinct caucuses elect county convention delegates, county conventions elect state convention delegates, state conventions elect national convention delegates and alternates (three each by the delegates from each congressional district, the remainder by the full convention).

    When the mainstream media oversimplifies the process or tries to fit caucus rules into their primary-oriented framework, they make it all look much more confusing than it is.

    What confuses the ninnies in the mainstream media -- the guys who trot out words like "arcane" and "complex" -- is that Tuesday night's "vote" is a non-binding straw poll, so there's no correlation between straw poll percentage and the presidential preference of Iowa's delegation to Tampa, which won't be chosen until June. As I explained recently, Ron Paul could easily "win" Iowa but wind up with zero Iowa delegates.

    Different rules in each state is a reflection of federalism and the freedom each state Republican Party retains to decide how to apportion its allotted number of delegates. On the other side of the aisle, the Democratic National Committee imposes certain rules on all state parties, requiring proportional representation for caucuses as well as primaries.

    Every Republican presidential campaign should have at least one supporter in each state with enough state party experience to understand how the system works and what the rules are. If a candidate can't muster a single savvy activist in a state, probably best to skip it.

    It should be pointed out that every state has complicated aspects to the process of selecting delegates and binding them (or not) to presidential candidates. Oklahoma awards delegates by congressional district and statewide results in the presidential preference primary, but the people who will serve as delegates are selected by a separate sequence of precinct caucuses and county, district, and state conventions. I won't explain open delegation vs. closed delegation and fractional voting, but they're in our rules for a reason.

    Idaho was cited in the Buzzfeed story as an example of arcane rules, but from the participant's point of view, it's simple -- you show up and vote for your favorite presidential candidate, and if he's eliminated for lack of support, you vote for your next favorite. What's complex is the counting method, which seems to be designed to help grassroots conservative candidates against the establishment default and well-organized fringe candidates.

    Here are the Idaho Republican Party rules for their caucus process, and here are answers to frequently asked questions about the Idaho caucus process.

    What's different about Idaho is that the delegates are bound by the caucus presidential preference vote, and the voting process is designed to ensure that the winner of the delegates is acceptable to a majority of caucus participants, not just a bare plurality. Idaho GOP leaders apparently want to avoid giving all the delegates to someone who barely finishes first in a divided field -- the sort of thing that happened in many states in 2008, when "stop McCain" forces were split between Romney, Huckabee, and a few other candidates, and McCain won winner-take-all states with two-thirds of voters preferring some other candidate, and thus quickly rolled up an insurmountable lead in delegates.

    At the Idaho county caucus, you'd be free to vote for your favorite in the first round, knowing that if your favorite doesn't have much support, you'll still be able, in the subsequent runoffs, to help one of the candidates you find acceptable get your county's delegates and block the candidates you find unacceptable from winning anything. The system enables mainstream fiscal, social, and foreign policy conservatives to coalesce around one candidate and thwarts hurts the Bob Dole / John McCain / Mitt Romney "It's my turn"-type candidate, and the Ron Paul-small-but-dedicated-following type from using divide-and-conquer to win with a small plurality. I like the approach. It looks like a good plan. It will be interesting to see how it works in practice.

    MORE about tonight's Iowa caucuses:

    Iowa Caucus Characters

    Flickr montage of caricatures of Republican presidential candidates by DonkeyHotey (CreativeCommons attribution)

    Stacy McCain talks to 13-year-old Sarah Santorum, who says, "Our prayers are paying off," and remembers her as an 8-year-old in tears at her dad's 2006 concession speech. (Stacy also gives a valuable reporting tip -- "You get the best quotes when you just talk to people, instead of interrogating them in a confrontational manner. Be informal and friendly, put people at ease and listen to what they say.")

    For The American Spectator, McCain has a piece on the Santorum surge in terms of voters, donors, and media interest, and Jeffrey Lord looks back at Santorum's defeat for reelection to the U. S. Senate in 2006.

    Don Surber looks at the electability argument and says Santorum would bring more electoral votes to the GOP than any other candidate.

    Pete Ingemi, DaTechGuy, looks to U. S. Naval History to note that nothing succeeds like success. A surprising finish by Santorum in Iowa will raise the money and volunteer support he needs in later states.

    Jeff Dunetz has more from former Ron Paul aide Eric Dondero about Ron Paul's reaction to the 9/11 attacks.

    John G. Geer says don't blame attack ads; Newt's history is the reason for Gingrich's slide.

    Todd Seavey ponders just plain libertarians, paleo-libertarians and paleo-conservatives, thickness, Catholicism, and political changes that have made a fusionist libertarian like himself, less willing to compromise with conservatives this time around. Also, he posts a photo of Ron Paul in a 1970s Houston Astros uniform (the one with the red and orange color bands and the groovy font).

    Shane Vander Hart speculates about attacks launched by groups with untraceable names or misappropriating the names of genuine organizations. These groups tend to go after which ever conservative is rising in the polls

    Vander Hart predicts that tonight's winner in Iowa will have under 25% of the vote and thinks Santorum will win narrowly. With a high number of undecideds, Vander Hart says to watch for the effect of neighborly persuasion at caucus meetings:

    In the last Des Moines Register poll it indicated that 41% of voters could still change their minds. That's pretty significant. Which leads me to one of the things to watch for tonight - don't underestimate the significance of a neighbor or friend speaking on behalf of their candidate of choice. At each caucus site every candidate will will have the opportunity to have somebody speak on their behalf. You literally have people who are undecided, and you also have those whose support is soft. Hearing a neighbor or a friend speak may be a tipping point for some voters. Who speaks could make a difference - a respected member of the community or a college student who is a first-time caucus goer? It matters.

    That leads me to this MRC video posted by Pat Dollard -- a radio discussion of how leaders in the Iowa Republican party could block a Ron Paul victory. The discussion makes it sound sinister, but it's natural to think that grassroots conventional conservatives will do their best to prevent dividing their vote among four different candidates so that neither Ron Paul nor Mitt Romney will finish first and claim a win with a tiny minority of the vote. At a conventional election, a voter deciding among similar candidates has to guess about his fellow voters and decided which of the acceptable choices has the best shot at winning. At tonight's caucuses, it will be apparent from signs and stickers which candidate among Bachmann, Santorum, Gingrich, and Perry is closest to the front of the pack. I could imagine county chairmen comparing notes by text message to see if these four candidates each have areas of strength or if one is much stronger than the other three across the state. In the latter case, the smart thing for party leaders to do would be to push the leaners and undecideds to support the potential breakout non-Romney, non-Paul candidate.

    RESULTS tonight:

    Des Moines Register has an interactive map with a county-by-county break down, raw vote totals, and precincts reporting by county.

    The Gazette (Cedar Rapids) has a Google map overlay for Iowa caucuses results, so you can see counties with respect to major highways and cities.

    WaPo's Chris Cilizza has a scorecard of Romney targets by county, based on the 2008 results, assuming Romney needs a 10% improvement to win.

    Here's The Fix's list of six counties to watch tonight.

    Stacy McCain arrived in Iowa early last week, wearing out tires and shoe leather in search of underreported stories. (His archive of coverage is tagged "Fear and Loathing in Iowa.") McCain anticipated the Santorum surge, which seems to be peaking at just the right moment for tomorrow night's straw poll.

    A Stacy McCain question prompted one of the more interesting candidate answers in recent days, with Santorum calling out Ann Coulter, pointing out that the bill he opposed that included the eVerify system was the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill, which conservatives on immigration opposed.

    Stacy McCain is also writing about Iowa for The American Spectator.

    As always, RealClearPolitics has the latest poll numbers from Iowa. PPP has Paul at 20, Romney at 19, and Santorum with 18, but Santorum has the "Big Mo":

    The momentum in the race is completely on Santorum's side. He's moved up 8 points since a PPP poll earlier in the week, while no one else has seen more than a one point gain in their support. Among voters who say they decided who to vote for in the last seven days he leads Romney 29-17 with Paul and Gingrich both at 13. Santorum's net favorability of 60/30 makes him easily the most popular candidate in the field. No one else's favorability exceeds 52%. He may also have more room to grow in the final 48 hours of the campaign than the other front runners: 14% of voters say he's their second choice to 11% for Romney and only 8% for Paul.

    It's not hard to imagine Bachmann supporters shifting to Santorum as they see an opportunity to hand a victory to a fellow social and fiscal conservative. Gingrich and Perry supporters who are more anti-Romney and anti-Paul than pro-their-guy may switch to Santorum as well.

    Caffeinated Thoughts has already been on the ground in Iowa. The Iowa-based blog has been covering the candidates and the activists involved in the Iowa caucuses from a local perspective:

    Caffeinated Thoughts' Shane Vander Hart points out an interesting factoid from the Des Moines Register's final pre-caucuses poll, quoting this passage from the DMR report::

    But the four-day results don't reflect just how quickly momentum is shifting in a race that has remained highly fluid for months. If the final two days of polling are considered separately, Santorum rises to second place, with 21 percent, pushing Paul to third, at 18 percent. Romney remains the same, at 24 percent.

    iowa.gif

    Several recent poll results suggest that Texas Congressman Ron Paul could be in for a good result this coming Tuesday, the night that Iowa voters gather for Republican precinct caucuses, the first step in a series of conventions that will lead to the selection of delegates and alternates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Paul is running 1st or 2nd in the most recent five polls tabulated by Real Clear Politics, with anywhere between 17% and 24% support.

    Regardless of the outcome of Tuesday night's straw poll of precinct caucus attendees, Iowa's delegates and alternates will not be bound to a presidential candidate, and there's at least one scenario in which the "winner" of Tuesday's straw poll won't have any representation at all in Iowa's RNC delegation.

    Journalists who don't have the patience to read party rules or the intelligence to appreciate careful distinctions will wrongly assume that Iowa's RNC delegation will be allocated proportionately to the straw poll result (because that's how the Democrats do it) or that all the delegates will be awarded to the first-place finisher (because so many Republican primaries are winner-take-all).

    This isn't a primary. It's a non-binding straw poll of those who show up for the precinct meetings. It's more representative of grassroots opinion than the Ames straw poll, because people don't have to be bussed in or pay a significant fee to vote. For the Iowa caucus straw poll, Republicans will vote near their homes, all over the state, for free. Turnout will be higher than Ames by an order of magnitude -- about 17,000 votes were cast at Ames, about 120,000 were cast on caucus night four years ago. Media interest in the outcome is reasonable, especially with no previous hard numbers from any state to indicate candidate strength, but media attempts to estimate delegate count based on Tuesday's GOP result are baloney. The true count of bound delegates on Wednesday morning will be goose-eggs across the board.

    Oklahoma Republicans will have caucuses just like Iowa, only four weeks later. On February 1, we'll gather in homes, churches, and cafes, elect delegates to the county convention, vote on potential party platform planks, and conduct a straw poll. Turnout won't be as high, and there won't be any media attention, but functionally, there's no difference between the Oklahoma caucuses and the Iowa caucuses. Unlike Iowa, however, Oklahoma's delegates will be bound to vote for the statewide winner and congressional district winners in our presidential preference primary in March.

    That's not to say that Tuesday's caucuses accomplish nothing beyond manipulating public opinion about the GOP horserace. Real decisions are made that will affect what happens in Tampa.

    Each precinct will elect delegates to the county convention. The county conventions, held on March 10, will each elect delegates to the state convention.

    At the state convention on June 16, state delegates will caucus by congressional district to elect three delegates and three alternates each to the national convention. The state convention as a whole will elect 13 delegates. Three ex officio delegates, Iowa's members of the Republican National Committee, complete the total of 28 delegates -- the State Chairman, the National Committeeman and the National Committeewoman.

    At that June convention, a majority of delegates might decide to elect a slate of national delegates who are inclined to support a particular candidate. That could happen if no candidate has a majority of national delegates sewn up at that point.

    More likely, by June the nomination will already be decided, and the privilege of being a national delegate will be bestowed on hardworking volunteers and generous donors to the state and county parties, for the most part without regard to their presidential preference. In 2008, John McCain finished 4th in the Iowa caucus straw poll with 13.7% of the vote, but at the national convention, all 40 Iowa delegates voted for John McCain. By the time the state convention was held in July (delayed a month due to massive flooding), John McCain was the only candidate who hadn't withdrawn from contention. Thompson and Guiliani dropped out in January, Romney dropped out in February, Huckabee in March, and Paul in June.

    So back to the situation I suggest in the headline to this post. Let's say Paul's support holds and he finishes first in a close race, with about 25% of the statewide caucus vote. That vote won't be evenly distributed. Some precincts will have a majority of Ron Paul supporters in attendance, and I would expect those precincts to elect Ron Paul supporters as their delegates to the county convention and to pass platform resolutions reflecting Ron Paul's distinctive opinions.

    But in this scenario, in the vast majority of precincts, Paul's support will be far below 50%. In these precincts, I would expect supporters of "Non-Paul" candidates to band together and ensure that no Ron Paul supporters represent them at the county convention. There will be exceptions -- a Paulistinian who is a long-time party activist or a community leader might be advanced to the next level.

    At the county level, there may be a few counties with a concentration of Paul supporters where the majority of county delegates will be Paul fans and will elect their own to the state convention. But at most county conventions, Paul's support will be less than 25%, and "Non-Paul" delegates will band together to keep Paul supporters away from the state convention.

    If Paul is to have any backers at all at the state convention, it will only happen if the campaign successfully mobilizes its supporters to constitute a majority of the caucusers at a majority of the precincts in at least one county. If Paul's 25% support is spread evenly across the state, he will have no delegates at the Iowa state convention and no delegates from Iowa in Tampa.

    This outcome would not be the result of a grand establishment conspiracy against Ron Paul. It would be a reflection of how Paul polarizes the Republican electorate. While Santorum, Perry, Bachmann, and Gingrich supporters may disagree about the relative merits of their candidates, they are all likely to agree with each other and differ strongly with Paul supporters on issues like Iran, Israel, drug legalization, and whether 9/11 was an "inside job."

    The supporters of these four candidates may likewise band together to prevent Romney supporters from advancing to the county convention, so that, if there's still an active contest in June, the convention would pick national delegates who will back the non-Romney and non-Paul candidate still in the race.

    This sort of thing happened in Oklahoma in 2008. Ron Paul supporters dominated some county conventions and attempted to get their people elected as national delegates and placed on the statewide slate nominated by the state executive committee. A certain amount of stealth was used -- they didn't identify themselves as Paul backers when campaigning for delegate slots and they stayed away from his distinctive issues. They succeeded in capturing two delegate slots in the 2nd Congressional District, which was the first of the five district conventions. At the the 1st district convention, "Non-Paul" supporters circulated lists of Ron Paul backers seeking delegate slots.

    Since the majority of delegates at Oklahoma's district and state conventions were conventionally conservative Republicans who backed Huckabee, McCain, Romney, and Thompson, they voted for their fellow conventional conservatives for delegate, and Paul backers were shut out. Although all the Oklahoma delegates were bound to vote for the primary winner (6 for Huckabee, 32 for McCain), the worry was that several state delegations full of Paul backers would have created a lot of upset at the national convention, reshaping the platform in disturbing ways and possibly overthrowing rules that bound them to vote for other candidates. In the end, the two Ron Paul supporters in the Oklahoma delegation, bound to vote for Huckabee, were released when he dropped out of the race, and they voted for Paul in the roll call, two of Paul's 23 delegates.

    Ron Paul may "win" the Iowa caucuses straw poll by a narrow margin with a tiny plurality, and that result may boost fundraising and volunteer activity, but it won't boost his delegate count at all.

    RESOURCES: The Green Papers website does a great job of getting the details right on the American political process. Some pages that served as information sources for this entry:

    MORE perspective on Ron Paul:

    Eric Dondero, long time Ron Paul aide, speaks out about the Ron Paul newsletters

    David Bahnsen: The Undiscerning and Dangerous Appreciation of Ron Paul: "Ron Paul knows full well that his closest connections are a mixed bag of the most extremist sort of anarcho-capitalists...."

    I spent several hours speaking with Ron Paul shortly after 9/11. He informed me that the Islamicist threat was a made up one, just as the Communist threat of the 1950's and 1960's was. He told me, to my face, in his own words, that Lew Rockwell and his people were the only ones calling a spade a spade: America did deserve what the Islamicists were trying to do to us, and if we simply learned to leave them alone, they would in turn leave us alone. It was among the most despicable and disappointing conversations I have ever had with another adult....

    My concern is not Ron Paul's errors on this subject. My concern is that he has used the freedom movement to generate name recognition and fame, and then through sleight of hand converted the popularity over his limited government rhetoric to promote an agenda of anti-Americanism and military isolationism.

    HotAir: Paul: I did write parts of the newsletters but not the bad parts. In a radio interview with WHO, Paul changes his story about his newsletters, and effectively disavows only a "total of eight or ten sentences" from his newsletter output, while claiming that he didn't see the edited newsletters and didn't know about the objectionable sentences for years. When I was writing a weekly column that someone else edited, you can bet that I read the published version of the story as soon as it hit the streets and squawked when an edit put something even mildly objectionable in my mouth. As I wrote on one such occasion in 2007:

    When words appear under my byline, they are identified with me, and they speak for me, whether I wrote them or not. I don't appreciate having my name associated with opinions or attitudes I don't share....

    I appreciate what copy editors do. I'm grateful when they fix my typos, add transitional sentences when I lurch too quickly from one idea to another, and make me look smarter, Charlotte's Web style, by putting brilliant headlines over my words. And when they get carried away, I'll handle it as I did this time -- let the readers know of the discrepancy and mend fences with the individuals who might have been offended by what someone else wrote under my name.

    (Here's another example from my farewell to Michael DelGiorno;I protested the editor's gratuitous aside backhanding author Michael Wallis, whom I greatly admire.)

    Not Mitt, not Newt

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    The Daily Oklahoman used Sunday morning's editorial to shout at Oklahoma Republicans to rally 'round Mitt Romney. In a nutshell, the editorialists said we need to stop wasting time flirting with other possibilities. We need to forgo the frivolous notion of a competitive primary season. Instead, ve musst alles goosestep in lockstep in support of the Only Candidate Who Can Restore America's Greatness. "Now!" they shouted. Heil Romney!

    HeilRomney.jpg

    Yes, that is the wire-service photo that the Oklahoman used to illustrate their online endorsement. My copy appears to have a rectangular smudge.

    We in the Heartland wait and watch as the Republican debates rage on -- as if we will all text in our votes and pick a winner to stay on the island. This must stop! It is maddening to those of us with strong conservative convictions in the middle of the country. It is enabling Obama to fatten what is already the plumpest campaign war chest in history while the Republicans drain their resources battling each other.

    We believe in the primary system, but even a good system can be detrimental when carried too far. To unseat the incumbent, we need total focus on November, not sideshow politics that will dilute the Republican efforts.

    Hear that, Republican grassroots volunteers, contributors, and voters? Your deliberating about the best candidate for our party's nomination is mere "sideshow politics." Resistance is futile! You will be assimilated!

    Good people do the right thing at the right time regardless of party politics. They don't wait for others. The time to unite behind Romney is now, not after Iowa or New Hampshire or the Oklahoma primary in early March. Now!

    "Dad-blast it! I said, now! now! now! you cretinous mob!"

    I was fascinated to see that there was a joint editorial meeting involving Romney and the Oklahoman and the Washington Examiner. Were Oklahoman editorial writers summoned to Washington for an audience? Or were they conferenced in on speakerphone? Did Oklahoma not even rate a visit for an endorsement?

    There has been a steady stream of Romney endorsements in recent days. It's almost as if a desperate candidate, conscious that he is no longer regarded as inevitable, conscious that a majority of Republican voters want someone besides him to win the nomination, is trying to restart the bandwagon. What do you suppose he is saying behind the scenes to these editorial boards and elected officials to get them to jump to his side?

    Even columnist Ann Coulter has gone from saying Romney would lead us to sure defeat against Obama to saying he's the most conservative candidate in the race and the best one to beat Obama, while insulting conservative Tea Party voters in the process.

    Romney's fluidity in moving from one position to its near opposite on social and fiscal issues makes it hard for me to trust him. In 2007, Joan Venocchi of the Boston Globe documented Romney's extreme flip-flops on abortion.

    Paul Rahe says Romney a chameleon and documents even more statements of the earlier version of Romney which contradict the current Romney's views on a wide range of issues. Rahe's conclusion is that he can't be trusted and that he's not that hot a candidate anyway.

    I cannot see how any conservative can support Mitt Romney. I can see how conservatives might vote for him - certainly, if he is the only alternative to Barack Obama, and also if there is no other plausible Republican candidate, as Ramesh Ponnuru argues on National Review Online. But if we do vote for him, we should not lie to ourselves about what we are doing, and we should keep the heat on him if he is elected.

    I should perhaps add that I do not regard Mitt Romney as a shoo-in. He is not an especially accomplished politician. He is a man who won one election. When he ran for Senate, he lost. When he considered running for re-election as Governor, he chose not to do so because he knew that he would lose. When he ran for the Republican nomination in 2008, he lost. If you watch his debate with Ted Kennedy and his interview with Bret Baier and consider the manner in which he misrepresented Romneycare in the Las Vegas debates, you can see why he lost. His responses, when he is not mouthing boilerplate that he has memorized, seem contrived. He is evasive and sometimes petulant. One can see him calculating with regard to what would best play with the general public, and what he says and does is often inept. He often looks like what he is: a man with no political principles who is pandering, and he is actually pretty bad at pandering. He is not quick in discerning which way the wind is blowing. He spent the last four years preparing for the 2011/12 campaign, and he blundered and blundered badly in the manner in which he positioned himself for the race. It is perfectly possible that Barack Obama will make mincemeat of him in a televised debate. Ted Kennedy did.

    Michael Barone, who went to high school with Romney, relates a quote from a Romney colleague:

    Asked by friends what Romney was really like, one Bain Capital veteran responded, "Which four or five of the Romneys do you mean?"

    Flexibility of strategy and tactics are fine; flexibility of principle is not.

    Rahe writes that Newt Gingrich is no better than Romney -- the two are "peas in a pod":

    In short, Gingrich is a lot like Romney. Neither man recognizes that the source of our problems is government meddling and the distortion that this produces in what would otherwise be a free and relatively efficient market. What they think of as a cure is, in fact, the disease. Fannie and Freddie, with the help of a Federal Reserve Board that kept interest rates artificially low for a very long time, produced the subprime mortgage bubble and the subsequent economic crash. If healthcare is outrageously expensive and health insurance can be hard to get, it is because of the manner in which the federal and state governments structure and regulate the market. What these managerial progressives in their desperation to manage the lives of the rest of us fail to understand is that the intellectual presumption underpinning the aspiration to "rational administration" that they embrace is the principal cause of our woes....

    It is a scandal that the Republican Party cannot do better than these two at a time of opportunity like the one in which we live.

    The last word goes to Mark Steyn, who believes that neither Romney nor Gingrich is capable of the kind of leadership we need in these perilous times:

    So, for me, it's not enough merely to replace Obama: He's a symptom of the problem, rather than the underlying cause. The ship of state has become encrusted with barnacles upon barnacles, and, if the next guy isn't committed to getting rid of them, we're still going to sink....

    This next term is critical for America, not just because (if the IMF is correct) it may mark the end of America's long run as the world's leading economy but because, if Obamacare is not repealed in the next four years, it will never be repealed.... Once the Obamacare goodies kick in, getting back across the Rubicon will be a tough job. Nothing in Mitt's past suggests he's got either the stomach for that fight or the savvy to win it....

    So, if these are "crazy and extraordinary times," go with the crazy, right? Newt certainly thinks bigger than Mitt, but unfortunately he thinks in the same direction of unbounded micro-managerial faux-technocracy.

    Steyn's concluding paragraph sums up the reason behind my futile attempt to get Tom Coburn to file for the Oklahoma primary. It seems we're stuck with two mediocre choices before the voting begins (and it has nothing to do with Mitt's Mormonism or Newt's adultery):

    It's a tragedy that the Republican nomination has dwindled down to a choice not worth making. Yet not a single real vote has yet been cast. Iowa and New Hampshire will do us all a favor if they look beyond the frontrunners and keep genuinely conservative candidates in the game.

    Me? I'm pulling for Santorum.

    CoburnPresidentYardSign.pngDear Sen. Coburn,

    Today, Monday, December 5, 2011, marks the opening of the three-day filing period for school board seats in Oklahoma. It's also the filing period for Oklahoma's March 6, 2012, presidential preference primary. I am writing to urge you to file, to put your name on the Oklahoma ballot as a "favorite son" candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

    In 40 years of watching presidential politics, I've never seen so many credible candidates leave the race (Pawlenty, Cain) or rule themselves out (Daniels, Ryan, Christie, Palin, Giuliani, Jindal, Jeb Bush, etc.) so early in the process, before a single real vote has been cast. At the same time, I've never seen Republican activists so reluctant to commit to a candidate. We're wary of investing our time, our money, and our hearts in a candidate that won't stay in the race for long. Here in Oklahoma, we're used to having our choices severely narrowed before our turn to vote; in 2012, Iowa and New Hampshire may know the same experience.

    The remaining options are less than attractive. Mitt Romney is not a reliable conservative on any issue. Rick Santorum couldn't win re-election in his own state, and he endorsed RINO Arlen Specter for reelection over a solid fiscal conservative primary challenger, Pat Toomey, in 2004. Rick Perry can't seem to think on his feet, and there are some trouble things in his record as governor, as recent as his obstruction, subtle but effective, of Rep. David Simpson's anti-TSA-groping bill. Michele Bachmann says all the right words but doesn't display much depth of thought. Jon Huntsman seems to be more interested in impressing the mainstream media than connecting with the Republican base.

    Ron "Free Bananas!" Paul's foreign policy views are naive and dangerous. In every interview I've heard of Gary Johnson, he seems to have a terminal case of the giggles. As incumbent governor of Louisiana, Buddy Roemer finished third to a crook (Edwin Edwards) and a Klansman (David Duke), and finished fourth in a comeback try four years later. Roemer naively believes that limiting campaign contributions will limit the influence of money in politics, but as long as politics has so much power to influence results in the private sector, money will find a way to flow into politics.

    Coburn-BreachOfTrust.jpgNewt Gingrich is the leading anti-Romney of the moment. Gingrich has serious character problems, of which his serial polygyny is a mere symptom. (Isn't it ironic that the Mormon in the race, not the Baptist-turned-Cathoic, is the husband of one wife?) As you documented in your book Breach of Trust (and Bob Novak in his autobiography), Gingrich's character flaws extended to his leadership of the House of Representatives. For all his brilliance in the 1994 campaign to retake the House, his failures as speaker turned the Republican caucus from principled reform to careerism for the sake of power, laying the groundwork for the moral collapse of the Republican majority, the Pelosi speakership, the Obama presidency, and our current fiscal crisis.

    Beyond his failures as a husband and as a congressional leader, Gingrich is a big-government conservative in an era where government must shrink to make space for private sector can grow. Being a visionary is a fine thing in the private sector, but as a self-proclaimed "Teddy Roosevelt Republican," Newt offers big ideas that depend upon massive government investment and intervention.

    Sen. Coburn, you expressed your worries about Gingrich as recently as Sunday morning:

    "The thing is there are all type of leaders. Leaders that instill confidence, leaders that are somewhat abrupt and brisk, leaders that have one standard for the people they are leading and different standard for themselves," Coburn said on Fox News Sunday. "I found his leadership lacking."

    The best hope for across-the-board (fiscal, social, and defense) conservatives is for another candidate to emerge, but it's too late (believe it or not) for another candidate to enter and compete effectively in the primaries. Filing deadlines have already passed for New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, and Missouri. Oklahoma, Ohio, Louisiana, and Michigan close filing this week. By the time we know the result in New Hampshire, even more deadlines will have passed. Although Iowa has no filing deadline (the caucus straw poll is not binding), a win there would require creating a grassroots GOTV organization ex nihilo in less than a month.

    Tom Coburn speaking on health care fraud, by Medill DC, on FlickrBut there is still a way for a "player to be named later" to become the Republican nominee. "Favorite son" candidates could file in each state, giving Republican voters a way to vote for "None of the Above" and to deny a majority of delegates to any of the currently active candidates, none of whom seem to have the right stuff to win the nomination, win the general election, and then steer the country decisively away from the fiscal Niagara Falls just around the next bend in the river.

    I'm asking you, Sen. Coburn, to run in Oklahoma's primary as our favorite son.

    Sure, any random Republican with the intention of serving as a placeholder for "None of the Above" could cut a check for $2,500 to put his name on the ballot. But Joe Random would have to raise huge amounts of money to publicize his reasons for running and to convince Oklahoma voters that he could be trusted with their votes.

    You wouldn't have that problem, Sen. Coburn. The media, both local and national, would give a Coburn favorite son candidacy significant coverage. Oklahoma Republican voters already know and trust you (your TARP vote notwithstanding -- an error, but well-intentioned), and they know you are not driven by a lust for power. And if a win in Oklahoma turned into a national groundswell for a Coburn nomination, the vast majority of Oklahoma Republicans and fiscal conservatives nationwide would be very, very pleased.

    If you should win the Oklahoma primary, as I expect you would, Oklahoma's 43 delegates would give you a seat at the table in deciding the outcome of a deadlocked national convention, helping to ensure that the Republican nominee is someone who understands the fiscal crisis that looms over our nation and who is prepared to act decisively to deal with it.

    Please think it over, Sen. Coburn. Talk to your wife, your children, your closest advisers. Pray about it. Then get someone to the State Capitol, Room B-6, by Wednesday at 5 with a notarized form and a cashier's check for $2,500 -- for Oklahoma's sake, for America's sake.

    Sincerely,

    Michael D. Bates

    P. S. Cole Hargrave Snodgrass and Associates has a poll (311 Republican primary voters, Nov. 29 - Dec. 1, 2011, margin of error: +/- 4.3%) showing Gingrich with a commanding lead in Oklahoma -- 39% for Gingrich, everyone else in single digits, and 21% undecided. In August, Gingrich was at 5%. If you don't want Gingrich's lacking leadership at the top of the Republican ticket next fall, Sen. Coburn, you need to give voters a better alternative now.

    Newt Gingrich 39%
    Undecided (volunteered) 21%
    Herman Cain 9%
    Mitt Romney 9%
    Rick Perry 8%
    Ron Paul 7%
    Michele Bachmann 5%
    Rick Santorum 2%
    John Huntsman 1%

    Photo of Tom Coburn by Flickr user Medill DC, used under Creative Commons license.

    BatesLine is pleased to welcome an ad from the Oklahoma Republican Party for the 2012 Oklahoma Straw Poll:

    As we recently announced, the Oklahoma Republican Party is holding our inaugural Oklahoma Straw Poll. Many states hold presidential straw polls every four years creating national publicity and financial support for their respective state, but we thought it was about time the reddest state in the country had one of its own!

    Straw polls are important because many times they serve as the first indicator of the strength of a candidate's organization and message.

    We want to give Republicans from all across Oklahoma an opportunity to make their voice heard.

    From November 21st until December 5th, donate $5 to the OKGOP to vote in the Oklahoma Straw Poll. Many Straw Poll voters can end up paying hundreds with travel costs, etc in order to vote in their states' poll, but we are making a way for you to support your candidate and do it from the comfort of your own living room!

    The deadline for voting in the Oklahoma Straw Poll is Monday, December 5, 2011, at 5:00 pm. Click the ad at the top of the page to vote.


    OK_Straw_Poll_Banner-485.png

    This is a great opportunity for Oklahoma Republicans to have a voice, and the money goes to a good cause. Whatever you may or may not like about the national party, the Oklahoma Republican Party is a low-overhead, grassroots-run organization that has produced amazing results.

    There's a reason that the Republican nominee won all 77 counties in 2004 and 2008, that Republicans swept all statewide offices in 2010, and controls supermajorities of both houses of the legislature, after decades in the minority. Yes, Oklahoma voters are conservative, but a voter's views make no difference unless that voter turns out on Election Day. After a disheartening defeat in 2002, Oklahoma Republicans elected Gary Jones (now our State Auditor) as chairman, and Jones instituted a massive turnout effort for 2004, involving hundreds, perhaps, thousands, of local volunteers dropping voter information packets on the doorstep and making calls to remind people to vote. Matt Pinnell ran that successful program, and he's now chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party.

    Beyond turnout efforts, the state party provides training for potential candidates and their helpers and runs the state and district conventions that will elect Oklahoma's delegates to next year's Republican National Convention. You can vote in the Oklahoma Straw Poll and contribute your $5 (or more) knowing that the money will be used effectively.

    Vote now!

    From Rusty Weiss at Newsbusters:

    Bill Randall is a candidate for Congress, running in North Carolina's 13th Congressional District. Mr. Randall also happens to be an African-American. In early October, Randall had a campaign billboard vandalized with a spray-painted, vulgar phallic symbol, accompanied by the letters "KKK". It was the kind of message that would normally launch the media into full-blown racial apoplexy.

    One small problem. Bill Randall is a Tea Party Conservative Republican.

    Randall filed a complaint over a month ago with the local sheriff, issued a news release, but the local daily, the Raleigh News & Observer, has ignored the story, despite having covered similar acts of political vandalism in the past, according to Weiss's research, including one incident that occurred just 10 days after Randall's sign was vandalized.

    One TV news station, albeit not in the same market, did cover the story, showing part of the graffiti (the KKK) and obscuring the obscene part. (Via breitbart.tv.)

    Randall grew up in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans and served 27 years in the Navy, rising to the rank of Command Master Chief.

    Randall was the Republican nominee in NC-13 in 2010, when the district was heavily Democratic, receiving 44.5% of the vote against a four-term Democratic incumbent. This time around the legislature has redrawn the district to be predominantly Republican (and drawn the incumbent into a different district).

    The aforementioned News & Observer scolded the Randall campaign in an October 28, 2010, editorial (Tulsa Library NewsBank link) about the campaign's "overzealous" poll monitors, watching early voting to ensure against voter fraud. Early voting would make it possible for someone to show up and vote in one person's name at the early voting location (no ID was required in NC), then show up again on Election Day and vote in your own name at your usual polling place. The N&O editorial pooh-poohs the risks of this sort of fraud, but Tulsans have heard of this sort of thing happening.

    MORE:

    Here's a link to the Bill Randall for Congress website.

    Publius Forum has a video from the Randall campaign, spoofing the media double-standard and lack of interest in this case of hateful vandalism. (The video shows the graffiti uncensored.)

    Thurber's Thoughts has more about Randall and notes the broader problem with the liberal backlash against the growing number of African-American conservatives who are running for office or are otherwise active in the political sphere. She mentions two speakers at last week's BlogCon '11: Deneen Borelli of the National Center for Public Policy Research and PJTV video humorist Alfonzo Rachel -- both conservatives who happen to be African-American and who spoke at BlogCon about the hostility directed at that combination of characteristics.

    The challenges facing African-Americans who move from left to right is documented in an upcoming film, which was previewed at Blogcon. A Runaway Slave focuses on the Reverend C. L. Bryant, a Baptist minister who served as president of an NAACP chapter and is now active in the Tea Party movement in Shreveport. The slavery Bryant calls all Americans to escape is an enervating dependency on government. Here's a preview:

    freedomworksforamerica.pngIt's been an exciting two days here at BlogCon11, FreedomWorks' 2nd annual conference for conservative bloggers. The sessions have covered policy, politics, and technology. Beyond the formal sessions, I've been renewing old acquaintances and building new friendships with bloggers, think-tankers, columnists, and activists from all over America.

    I hope to do a summary of the event later, but one particular session pleased me no end, and I want to pass it along.

    FreedomWorks for America is the FreedomWorks-affiliated Super PAC, and they're in the process of vetting candidates for the 2012 federal election.

    FreedomWorks for America is trying to ensure that the new president is backed by (or faced with) a tough-minded majority of senators and congressmen who will do what we need to do to solve our fiscal crisis before we wind up like Greece. They want to make fiscal conservatives the majority of the majority party, controlling the agenda in both houses of Congress. This effort can't wait for the general election. It has to start well before the primary, helping solid fiscal conservatives to prevail over conservatives-of-convenience in Republican primaries.

    This PAC won't be buying TV time. Instead, it will work to connect fiscally conservative Tea Party-type activists and donors with candidates who are worthy of their support, a "force multiplier for the Tea Party," as FreedomWorks political director Russ Walker put it. The website will help connect activists with any campaign in the country.

    "You have to get your own house in order before you can get out there and start taking on the Democrats," commented Dick Armey, Chairman of FreedomWorks. "Our Super PAC is not about buying television ads, it's about engaging the American public, and getting them outside talking to their neighbors and putting up yard signs. We want to build a grassroots army of active volunteers that will work to retire Democrats in the House and Senate, but also hold Republicans accountable to the principles upon which they got elected."

    Features on the website include candidate profile pages, official endorsements, interactive ranking systems for candidates on the issues, links to pledge time towards community organizing efforts, links to pledge money to a specific campaign, phone banking, grassroots training videos, and downloadable activist toolkits and door-to-door Get Out The Vote (GOTV) materials. It also features a "grassroots lab" where politically-minded volunteers can submit ideas on how to defeat President Obama in 2012, and rank the ideas already submitted.

    "The website is designed to empower the leaderless, decentralized community of the tea party movement. There is no leader, no community organizing Czar. It's simply a political toolkit for individuals across the country to use as they see fit, with unique knowledge of their community and circumstances," commented Matt Kibbe, President of FreedomWorks.

    It's a tough job to find candidates who will remain faithful to conservative principles once they get to Washington. Executive director Max Pappas noted that, with the popularity of the Tea Party movement, every candidate knows the right words to say, so FreedomWorks for America dives deep into the candidate's record and philosophy to find the candidate's fundamental beliefs. Without strong roots in the philosophical and economic basis for limited government, a public official is easily swayed by the prevailing winds of lobbyist pressure and Washington conventional wisdom.

    Checking a candidate's roots means digging back through a candidate's complete public record, going all the way back to earliest part of a candidate's career, votes taken, endorsements made, and contributions given. If a politician endorsed, say, a city sales tax increase or a crony-capitalist state tax credit, it's going to count against him when he tries to move up to federal office.

    In addition to the abundant amount of searchable online data (e.g., news stories, minutes of public meetings), FreedomWorks for America looks to local free-market, limited-government activists and bloggers to dig up information on candidates and to provide context. Local grass-roots opinion matters.

    PACs connected with groups like FreedomWorks and Club for Growth played an important role in the election of strong conservative freshman senators like Mike Lee (UT), who defeated an squishy incumbent Republican, Marco Rubio (FL), who won over an ex-Republican governor who showed his true colors, and Rand Paul (KY). In each case, the national free-market PACs influence helped a consistent fiscal conservative prevail over a wishy-washy or weak Republican.

    Having this kind of scrutiny from influential national conservative organizations will give local activists leverage in keeping Republicans from turning into RINOs on local issues. At the same time, it places a burden on us to ensure that key pieces of the record don't disappear into the ether. Campaign websites (and endorsements) often vanish from the web quickly after election day. In some cases, they never show up online. Local activists can help by scanning and posting candidate mailers and key documents and recording public meetings and political ads, tagging video and audio with the names of those involved, so that later searchers can find the information.

    The FreedomWorks for America candidate browser lets you see the list of all announced and incumbent candidates and 2012 candidates already endorsed. Registered users of FreedomConnector can rate and leave comments on the candidates.

    So far FWA has endorsed five Senate candidates Ted Cruz in Texas, Jeff Flake in Arizona, Adam Hasner in Florida, Richard Mourdock in Indiana, and Don Stenberg in Nebraska. I got to meet Mourdock and Stenberg at a reception Saturday night. Both serve as treasurers of their respective states, making real budget cuts to their departments (not just cuts from the previous rate of growth).

    FWA isn't the only group taking this approach. Sen. Mike Lee has set up a leadership PAC called the Constitutional Conservative Fund, using similar criteria to identify candidates worthy of support. So far they've endorsed Cruz, Flake, Stenberg, and Dan Bongino in Maryland.

    Stay tuned for more blog entries in coming days about more force multipliers that FreedomWorks and its affiliates will be making available to conservative activists for this important 2012 election cycle.

    The Tulsa County Republican Party is holding a fundraising estate sale this Friday and Saturday, November 4-5, 2011, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, at 3635 S. Louisville, Tulsa, OK, 74135.

    For a $5 donation, you can attend a come-and-go preview party on Thursday night, 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

    Proceeds will go to cover the county party's operating expenses, which include running a headquarters office, which provides the party an ongoing presence and point of contact for voters and candidates, and holding next year's Tulsa County Republican Convention, at which delegates to congressional district and state conventions will be elected and a county platform will be considered, the planks of which may ultimately wind up in state and national party platforms.

    It's important to keep in mind that the Tulsa County Republican Party is a grassroots organization The county party's officials are elected by Republican voters who attend precinct caucuses and the county convention, and they receive no compensation. The national and state party organizations provide absolutely no funding for the county party.

    They're still looking for large items to sell, such as furniture. They also need volunteers:

    WE NEED VOLUNTEERS TO HELP SETUP, WORK ON SALE DAYS, TRUCK DRIVERS TO PICK UP ITEMS, AND TELEPHONE CALLERS

    To donate items or arrange for special pickup of larger items, call Rich Fiedler (918-742-4503); To volunteer to make calls, setup or run the sale, call Alana Duvall (918-294-3780) or GOP Headquarters (918-627-5702)

    MOST OF ALL WE NEED GOOD ITEMS TO SELL

    If you can help, please call the numbers above. Otherwise, please plan to stop by and purchase some items in support of a good cause.

    S3018770

    Some links and notes about presidential candidate Herman Cain, related to Politico's thinly-sourced barely-a-story about decades-old sexual harassment allegations.

    I got to know Karol Markowicz at the 2004 Republican National Convention. She had just served as a staffer on Cain's 2004 bid for U. S. Senate in Georgia. (Cain lost the July 2004 primary to Johnny Isakson.) I remember her speaking with glowing admiration for Cain, for his intelligence, character, and political views. Here's what she said about Herman Cain back on July 25, 2004, in her post-mortem of the Cain campaign (interesting reading in its own right):

    If you work or volunteer in politics, I hope you will someday have the opportunity to work for someone that you admire as much as I admire Herman Cain. He is a breath of the freshest air, he is honest, direct, engaging, brilliant, funny and very, very real. He will never forget your name after meeting you. He will never try to pretend to be something he isn't. It takes guts that I can barely understand to do what he did down here in Georgia. He shaped the debate, his opponents ended up using his language and positions as their own. He is a force, if you ever have the opportunity to hear him speak, go do it. You will never forget it. You will not be the same when it's over. I know he will do great things and I will be watching closely.

    In April 12, 2006, she asked for prayers for Cain, undergoing treatment for colon cancer:

    Whenever I'm disenchanted with politics and politicians, whenever I think they're all the same and nothing matters, thinking of Herman Cain makes me remember that there are very real exceptions.

    Powerline blog links to a Minneapolis Star-Tribune story about Herman Cain's years as an executive at Pillsbury

    "My career spans 38 years and I've worked for 26 different managers," said Frank Taylor, a recently retired Burger King financial executive whom Cain hired as his regional controller in 1983. "Herman was far and away the best I've worked for in terms of getting a team together, sharing a vision and accomplishing the goals. And nothing diverted him."

    Cain also shared the wealth. When Burger King distributed $50,000 apiece to the regional vice presidents as reward for good performance in 1985, most of the regional bosses spent it on a trip to a posh resort for themselves and other managers and spouses. The enlisted troops got a dinner. Cain took everybody in his office, including administrative staff, on the same three-day reward cruise, Taylor recalled....

    "I worked with him fairly closely at Burger King," recalled George Mileusnic, a former Pillsbury executive, now a Twin Cities consultant. "He was good strategically and good with people, including working long hours in Burger King stores to get that bottom-up experience. He had about 500 stores in that Philadelphia region and he did a great job."...

    Along with his analytical skills, Cain brought an entrepreneurial fervor to the hurried turnaround at Godfather's in 1986-87. He listened, asked questions and acted, including closing stores, shifting people and even cooking and testing new products in the company's kitchen.

    "I'm Herman Cain and this ain't no April Fool's joke," he told Godfather's employees when he arrived on April 1, 1986. "We are not dead. Our objective is to prove to Pillsbury and everybody else that we will survive."

    An accomplished singer and pianist, Cain occasionally led the headquarters crew in after-hours song, and performed charitable gigs in Omaha, backed by a chorus of managers. He also demanded that senior managers know every employee working for them on a first-name basis and occasionally quizzed executives on that and other personnel issues.

    "That was pretty unique," Mileusnic said. "Those stories got around Pillsbury. Herman was very quantitative and analytical, but he demanded that everybody be engaged and every employee must be appreciated and respected."

    Michael Warren of the Weekly Standard spoke to aides and assistants to Herman Cain, including Karol Markowicz, longtime executive assistant Sibby Wolfson, and 2004 campaign political director Matt Carrothers -- none of whom currently work for Cain:

    "It's just not Herman," says Sibby Wolfson, who was Cain's executive assistant from 1997 through his first campaign for office in 2004, in a phone interview. "He's got a lovely wife, a lovely family."

    Did Wolfson ever see Cain act in a way that could be construed as sexual harassment? "No, God, no," she says. "Nothing. Absolutely nothing. In fact, I think Herman was careful to act in the opposite way."...

    "Never once have I ever seen anything but professional behavior" from Cain, says Matt Carrothers, who was Cain's political director from December 2003 to July 2004. "I find [the allegations] extremely hard to believe," Carrothers says in a phone interview....

    "This is a man of incredible character," Carrothers says. "He has nothing but respect for women."

    Other veterans of the 2004 campaign agree. "The allegations seem completely unbelievable to me," says Karol Markowicz, who was Cain's assistant press secretary in '04. "He was never anything but a completely perfect gentleman." She says many who worked on that campaign have the same assessment.

    "Sometimes someone is nice or good to you personally but you know they behave a different way toward other people," Markowicz says. "Herman is not like that. I never saw one moment where he wavered from being an upstanding, solid person."

    Karol called into last night's Mark Levin show, starting at 31:25 for about 3 minutes. And she has a column standing up for Herman Cain in today's New York Post:

    With Cain, however, his electricity comes from his authenticity. People fall for him because he is so unpolished and real. He is a serious, solid man who speaks often of the importance of family and faith. He never seems as if he is selling a line or covering up his true self.

    MORE: I'm impressed that Herman Cain is willing to speak the truth about Planned Parenthood's racist roots, and not backing down an inch when challenged:

    "Here's why I support de-funding Planned Parenthood, because you don't hear a lot of people talking about this: When Margaret Sanger--check my history--started Planned Parenthood, the objective was to put these centers in primarily black communities so they could help kill black babies before they came into the world," Cain responded.

    "You don't see that talked that much about," Cain said. "It's not Planned Parenthood. No, it's planned genocide. You can quote me on that."...

    "It's carrying out its original mission," said Cain. "I've talked to young girls who go in there and they don't talk about how you plan parenthood. They don't talk about adoption as an option. They don't say bring your parents in so you we can talk to you before you make this decision.

    "Talk to some young lady who has gone into some of these centers to see what kind of conversation takes place," said Cain. "They have basically carried out their original mission. There's not any planning other than to abort the baby.

    "When they have an objective to put 75 percent [Planned Parenthood facilities] in African American communities, says to me they are targeting blacks," Cain said....

    Former Utah Gov. and Obama Administration Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman has hired two campaign consultants with ties to Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe to handle the candidate's video and digital presence.

    Ryan Cassin is Huntsman's digital strategist, according to a CNN story about the Huntsman campaign website. Cassin served as political director of Inhofe's 2008 reelection campaign, GOTV/grassroots coordinator for the Oklahoma Republican State House Committee in 2006, and deputy campaign manager for Mick Cornett's unsuccessful 2006 run for Oklahoma's 5th Congressional District. Earlier this year Cassin and former Inhofe campaign manager Josh Kivett founded Connect Strategic Communications.

    Fred Davis, Inhofe's nephew, is Huntsman's media strategist, creating web video ads which have received notice in political circles for being rather odd:

    Needless to say, the ads are a bit of a head-scratcher if you don't already know about Huntsman. It's all very puzzling.

    "Exactly right. On purpose. Correct me if I'm wrong, Jeff, but is the election today? I can't remember," said Fred Davis, the man responsible for the video series. " ... The goal today is to say, 'huh, you know I'm not really excited about anybody on the Republican side running for president. Look, here's somebody's whose fresh and different. That's all you can ask for today."

    Davis is a very affable man on quite a hot streak. He was behind the viral Carla Fiorina "Demon Sheep" ad in the 2010 midterms and is accustomed to making a splash with his off-beat videos. It's perfect and "will eventually make sense," he said of Huntsman's unconventional campaign, which he's joining in an official capacity.

    You'll recall that Davis was also behind Christine O'Donnell's "I'm Not a Witch" ad from 2010 and Bob Sullivan's campaign ads attacking Ernest Istook during the 2006 Oklahoma Republican governor's primary. (Those ads involved Gailard Sartain, a pig mask, and an Istook mask.)

    (I started looking into this because I was surprised to see exuberantly positive mentions of Huntsman on my Facebook home page from Cassin. I didn't expect to see any of my Facebook friends -- mostly Tulsans, Oklahomans, and national bloggers -- excited about a Huntsman candidacy.)

    MORE on Jon Huntsman:

    Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks dismisses Huntsman:

    "To be honest with you...we haven't really taken a look at him [Huntsman] because I don't consider him a serious candidate," said Kibbe. "If he starts to emerge as somebody- I mean, I've been told by people that he's not terribly good on our issues."...

    "He [Huntsman] had some pretty glorifying things to say about the stimulus," Kibbe continued. "And apparently...there's a lot of rumors that's he's signed some really glowing letter about Obama as soon as he was an ambassador," he added jokingly.

    Michelle Malkin: "Jon Huntsman: McCain on Wheels"

    Huntsman is the latest no-labels flavor of the month, a straw man of the same people who have spent the past year smearing entitlement reformers as senior-citizen killers, budget hawks as Hitler's spawn, border-security activists as racists, and leading GOP women as sluts, nuts, and bimbos.

    While politely paying lip service to principles of tea-party fiscal restraint, Huntsman hopes no one remembers how 2,000 Utah tea-party activists booed him in April 2009 so corrosively it could have stripped the paint off a fleet of Harleys.

    Utah conservatives raised their voices at the seminal tea-party rally against Huntsman for championing $1.6 billion in Obama stimulus funds (Huntsman wanted even more money than that) -- and against GOP senator Orrin Hatch and then-GOP senator Bob Bennett for backing the Bush-Obama TARP bailout. The grassroots message: "Send them home!" A year later, voters ousted Bennett from the GOP primary after four profligate terms in office. And Hatch is in for the fight of his entrenched incumbent life.

    Malkin points out several similarities between McCain and Huntsman with regard to global warming, illegal immigration, and government control of health care.

    In an interview with Politico, Huntsman says he plans to win the nomination by appealing to non-Republicans who will be able, in many states, to cross over and vote in the Republican primary.

    Given that an incumbent president is a prohibitive favorite to win renomination, many Democrat voters will take the lack of a competitive primary for their own party to influence the outcome of the Republican nomination process.

    The former Utah governor's strategy is an attempt to make a virtue out of necessity. His moderate positions on the environment, immigration and civil unions --and his time as Barack Obama's ambassador to China--are formidable obstacles to victory in a party where the energy is concentrated in the conservative core.

    Huntsman plans to skip the Iowa caucuses. Huntsman's wealth and past political favors may win him political allies that might otherwise reject him on policy grounds:

    A litany of establishment South Carolina Republicans who have already signed up to support him were at his side: former state party executive director Joel Sawyer, who is running his effort in the state; Mike Campbell, son of the late Gov. Carroll Campbell, a revered Republican figure here; and former state Attorney General Henry McMaster.

    McMaster is returning the support he got from Huntsman several years ago, when the ex-governor held a fundraiser out out west that netted $60,000 for McMaster's 2010 gubernatorial campaign. The fundraiser was held before Huntsman departed to become ambassador to China.

    Video of the main session speeches and the policy track panels for RightOnline 2011 have now been posted.

    Available videos include:

    • Opening general session: Congressman Marsha Blackburn (TN), Congressman John Kline (MN), Ann McElhinney of Not Evil Just Wrong, Melissa Clouthier @MelissaTweets, John Hinderaker of PowerLineBlog.com
    • Grassroots Awards Dinner: Andrew Breitbart of BigGovernment.com, John Fund of the Wall Street Journal, Tim Phillips of Americans for Prosperity Foundation, Tracy Henke of Americans for Prosperity Foundation, and Erik Telford of Americans for Prosperity Foundation.
    • Saturday general session: Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (MN), Congressman Tim Huelskamp (KS), Michelle Malkin, Commentator Jason Lewis, John Fund of The Wall Street Journal, Author and Conservative Commentator S.E. Cupp, Ed Morrissey of HotAir.com, Erick Erickson of RedState.com, Guy Benson of Townhall.com
    • Special session with former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty
    • Closing Session With Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli, Michigan Congressman Thad McCotter, and Herman Cain from AFPhq on Vimeo.

    Many of the speeches are available as individual videos.

    The public policy panel discussions available for viewing:


    • Cutting Red Tape: Reining in Out-of-Control Regulators

    • Healthcare: Obamacare vs. Patient Freedom

    • Job Creation: Standing Up To Obama's Union Thugs

    • Tax Reform: A Return to Economic Growth

    • Internet Freedom: Washington's Internet Takeover

    • Extreme Power Abuse: Global Warming & Energy Regulation

    About this Archive

    This page is a archive of recent entries in the Politics::Election 2012 category.

    Election 2016 is the previous category.

    Politics::Election2004 is the next category.

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