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Romney Making Gains in Iowa

Mitt Romney is winning over Republicans in the Hawkeye State.

Two polls released in the last week show Romney climbing into a statistical dead heat (or even a lead) over his two better-known rivals for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

In a poll conducted May 12 to 16 for the Des Moines Register by Seltzer & Co., Romney received a whopping 30 percent of the vote among a sample of likely Republican caucus goers. John McCain took 18 percent while Rudy Giuliani clocked in with 17 percent. Tommy Thompson's fourth-place showing (7 percent) was also noteworthy given his struggles to make gains in national polls.

The second survey, in the field from May 14 to 16 and conducted by Research 2000 for Des Moines TV station KCCI, showed Romney, McCain and Giuliani all running essentially even -- McCain led with 18 percent followed by Giuliani at 17 percent and Romney at 16 percent.

Why has Romney moved so far so fast? A few reasons:

First, Romney has been on television in Iowa on and off since late February -- the only Republican candidate on the airwaves during that stretch. His television campaign has bought him name identification, which in turn has raised his standing in these early polls. The real test for Romney is whether he can maintain his numbers when McCain and Giuliani begin their own ad campaigns (especially if those ads target Romney for a series of alleged flip-flops).

Romney also benefits from the fact that McCain, who skipped the Iowa caucuses in 2000, is greeted with some level of skepticism by Republican voters in Iowa. In addition, Giuliani continues to send subtle signals that he may de-emphasize Iowa (and New Hampshire) in hopes of making a splash in large states like Florida (Jan. 29 primary) and California (Feb. 5 primary). Seeking to capitalize, Romney has already made nine visits to Iowa in 2007.

Another plus for Romney is that his conservative messaging is a nice fit for the average Iowa Republican caucus goer. Romney has emphasized his belief in traditional marriage, his opposition to abortion and is now on television with an ad that paints him as an ardent opponent of illegal immigration. All are hot-button issues for GOP voters -- especially those who describe themselves as social conservatives.

A look at past caucus results reveals that these same social conservatives play an outsized role in picking the ultimate nominee. In 2000, more than a third of those who attended the GOP caucuses described themselves as members of the "religious right." In the last three competitive Iowa Republican caucuses (1988, 1992, 2000), the candidate seen as the most socially conservative garnered one-quarter of the vote. If Romney can become that candidate and cobble together 5-10 percent more support, he will almost assuredly win the Iowa caucuses.

(The Des Moines Register poll didn't include former Fred Thompson or Newt Gingrich in their hypothetical caucus match-ups. Both Thompson and Gingrich, should they run, would carve out a segment of the conservative vote -- a piece of the pie that would likely come directly out of Romney's support. In the KCCI poll, Thompson took 9 percent and Gingrich 5 percent; not all of that 14 percent belongs to Romney without Thompson or Gingrich in the field, but a majority certainly would).

A win in Iowa isn't necessary for Romney to wind up as the Republican nominee, but it sure would help his cause. Unseating McCain in New Hampshire, where the Arizona senator remains extremely popular, seems unlikely. If McCain won both Iowa and New Hampshire, it would severely hamstring the chances of Romney (or anyone else) winning the nomination. Victory in Iowa, however, would generate considerable momentum for Romney ahead of New Hampshire -- a state where he starts with a significant base due to his four years as governor of Massachusetts. (The Boston media market covers much of southern New Hampshire.)

While The Fix still tends to think the nomination fight comes down to a battle in South Carolina, there's no question that Iowa is a crucial first step for Romney to show that he is a serious contender for the nomination. His early investment in television ads, coupled with his positioning as the most conservative candidate among the big three, is paying early dividends. Just 238 more days to go until the Iowa caucuses...

By Chris Cillizza  |  May 21, 2007; 7:35 AM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Next: Collamore Heading up Fred Thompson's Effort

Comments

US President Tim Kalemkarian, US Senate Tim Kalemkarian, US House Tim Kalemkarian: best major candidate.

Posted by: anonymous | May 24, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

In that same poll 54 percent of GOP voters in Iowa wanted a withdrawl of U.S. forces from Iraq. Only one candidate in the GOP presidenital field, Ron Paul, supports a withdrawl.

Do the math...

Posted by: Sean Scallon | May 23, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Mitt Romney is concealing his plan for world domination in a bunker, underneath his hair.

Posted by: Dr. Strangelove | May 22, 2007 12:24 AM | Report abuse

THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT IS NEITHER.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 22, 2007 12:22 AM | Report abuse

Romney is a buffoon, just like the last guy from Massaschusetts who ran for President. You can't believe anything the guy says, because it might change tomorrow or the next day.

His candidacy is going to implode. It seems to be based on a plan to run far to the right of everyone that he ran far to the left of just four years ago.

All of the other candidates have inconsistencies in their records, but none have them on every single issue like Romney does. Romney has no record as a conservative - none. His excuse for that is that he had to run as a liberal in order to get elected in Massaschusetts. So what? What is the point of getting elected simply for the sake of getting elected?

Romney is a big ZERO

Posted by: Sandy | May 21, 2007 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Geez, we need a good Conservative in this race...and I'm not talking about Gingrich or F. Thompson. Neither of those 2 guys excite me at all. I mean a true conservative with a true record of governing. Let's talk Gov. Dave Heineman (Nebraska), look at the trade deals he's stepped up and made for Nebraska, he's very socially conservative and fiscally conservative. I thought maybe Tim Pawlenty of Minn., but he's backing McCain. Mark Sanford in SC has stated he won't run. Gov. Bob Riley, of Alabama, would also make an excellent Presidential candidate. Yes, he would receive some flack b/c he pushed for a tax hike to balance the budget, which failed and he ended up compromising with Dem's. to balance the budget there in Alabama anyway. He's proven he will put aside partisan politics and to what's right for his state, and I think he would do the same for this nation. I'd love it if Heinemen or Riley got into the race! They would make great candidate's! Both candidates have about a 70% approval rating in their respective states, they are both great governor's folks! Alabama is a big military state, and Riley speaks with about every family that loses a loved one in the war. Both he and Heinemen are great governor's and the proof is in the pudding, one of the 2 should run. It's not to late to get in, I hope 1 of them does!

Posted by: reason | May 21, 2007 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Romney is an unaplogetic lying sack of $h1t.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

New Hampshire and Iowa rodents are quaking in their paws.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I'll bet that Romney, upon accepting the nomination of the Republican Party, will immediately denounce the War in Iraq. Anyone want to bet against me? I'm not sure if I'm quoting Chris Cillizza or Chris Matthews or even Tucker Carlson, but I think the analogy of Romney as a "used car salesman, telling the buyer anything to get what he wants" is the true Romney. If Fred Thompson can raise the cash, I think he'd possibly move to the top. I also like that these polls are of Iowa and New Hampshire, and not national. I tend to rant and rave angrily and hysterically about the uselessness of nat'l polls, and I'm glad to be looking at one that matters. Ever since mid-2005 I had a fear Romney would move up (I began analyzing '08 right after '04). The macaca moment made me instantly realize those fears were a reality. I don't get how any voter-conservative, liberal, libertarian, or whatever-could vote for Romney. No matter what ideological category you fit into, how do you feel assured Romney will do what he says? I wonder if it will ever be highlighted that the reason Romney did not run for reelection was that he could not win due to his conservative rhetoric, but the reason he won in '02 was his liberal rhetoric. That's more proof of flip-flopping.

Posted by: J Perez | May 21, 2007 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Mark,

I am not sure about Newt not running. I have heard him on several interview shows and I think he is leaning towards it. When people get bitten by the presidential bug, it is hard to convince them that they couldn't win. Also, he went on James Dobson's radio program recently and abjectly apologized for his marital indiscretions. Dobson said some very nice things about him. I don't think Dobson will be comfortable with McCain and he has ruled out supporting Giuliani.

None of the other social conservative candidates seem to be catching on. Right now Thompson is something of a blank slate since he is better known as an actor than a politician. I believe his voting record does not contain any red flags for the religious right, except perhaps his support for McCain-Feingold. So, I could see either Newt or Fred T picking up a lot of support from social conservatives more as an expression of non-support for the current three front-ruinners.

I agree that Rudy is a tough sell in Iowa - since it is a caucus the electorate is even more narrowly drawn than a primary and the religious conservatives are extremely infuential there. Now, nationwide, I agree with the poster who said they were a declining influence.

I also agree that the rush to front-load the primary schedule by larger states will diminish the influence of Iowa and New Hampshire. It also cuts the amount of time a surprise finisher in Iowa or New Hampshire has to raise funds and establish name recognition. I do not see Iowa or New Hampshire knocking Romney, McCain or Giuliani out. They have the funding and name recognition to hang on until the larger states weigh in.

Posted by: JimD in FL | May 21, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

"He got this la rasa garbage form savage.com. Savage is a propogandist and a liar"

Savage may be that, but I didn't get it from Savage.

I've been following La Raza for many years. They are a pressure group with only one objective, to the exclusion of all others, even if it is detrimental to the others.

When people or an organization are like that I consider them extremists.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

'Has anyone ever met a mormon or lived near one- they are some of the best people around...'

All I have ever met are former mormons, who are terrified that the cultists will keep coming after them... once you know certain things, you're not allowed to leave, you know.

Posted by: cb | May 21, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Labor is split on the immigration bill. Some think it will reduce wages for workers. Other labor leaders, who in my view are taking the longer-term view, want to make sure that a salary floor is established for the guest workers and that they can ultimately unionize the immigrants who achieve citizenship.

Posted by: Colin | May 21, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone ever met a mormon or lived near one- they are some of the best people around...

Posted by: SK | May 21, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Mitt who?

Sorry, this is NOT the year of the Red Menace, so tell the Bushies to go back to the wilderness.

Posted by: Will in Seattle | May 21, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

JD, I also want to know why you think bringing 12 million illegal workers out of the shadows and forcing employers to pay them a minimum wage hurts qualified blue collared American citizens? The people are already here.

Posted by: Andy R | May 21, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

"Two months ago he stopped at "I'm not running as an Hispanic candidate!"

It looks like the La Raza extremists got to Richardson."

In case you are wondering what planer he is living on. He got this la rasa garbage form savage.com. Savage is a propogandist and a liar. He alos says that people for the fairness doctrine are nazi's. What is he so scared of if he's telling the truth. Liars propogandaists dittoheads. YOU ARE NOT ONLY DESTORYING THE COUNTRY, but the world

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 1:54 PM | Report abuse

JD - If the Immigration Bill passes, how will blue collar employment be any different from what it is today?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

The Pro-Familia Candidate
Bill Richardson Plays Up His Mexican Roots
By Joel Achenbach
Washington Post, Monday, May 21, 2007; Page C01

..."I'm not running as a Hispanic candidate, but I'm trying to convince Hispanics that I am Hispanic, and they don't know," he told The Post during a swing through Washington last week. "I go to Los Angeles, they don't know I'm Hispanic. When they know, it's positive. So it's a question of building that."


Two months ago he stopped at "I'm not running as an Hispanic candidate!"

It looks like the La Raza extremists got to Richardson.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

A suicide bomber blew himself up in the Iraqi parliament canteen inside the Green Zone today, killing two MPs in a major breach of security in the country's most heavily guarded site. The attack marks a major breach of security in the Green Zone, which is also home to the Iraqi government and foreign embassies.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Mark in Austin, you and I once again agree.

bsimon, you want a 'real issue'? How about today's immigration bill. Much of the GOP (especially in the Senate) seems to want to go along with it, just to get something done. If it passes it will be a disaster - for the country, for the GOP, and for the (legal) blue collar worker Dems are supposed to be fighting for, whose wages will be severely depressed.

Posted by: JD | May 21, 2007 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Whether Romney is making any temporary gains in Iowa or not is largely irrelevant in the face of the ongoing implosion of the GOP. Until the Repub candidates start addressing real issues instead of pandering the special interests, their party will continue sliding towards irrelevance. The question is whether the'll wake up before or after the 2008 election.

Posted by: bsimon | May 21, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

The R's still don't get that the power of the religious right as a political force has waned, as there are deep fracturs in the evangelical community, as many of the powerful upcoming preachers are far more interested in the plight of the poor and global warming, than they are in persecuting homosexuals.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

The R's still don't get that the power of the religious right as a political force has waned, as there are deep fracturs in the evangelical community, as many of the powerful upcoming preachers are far more interesting in the plight of the poor and global warming, than they are in persecuting homosexuals.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I wrote the mind boggling note...

Posted by: Mark in Austin | May 21, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Getting an opportunity to post again, I see that JD has picked the same bone I would have - the front loading of big state primaries could virtually nullify the traditional effect of NH-IA-SC.

It is beyond my ken that Rs tend to pander to the far right and Ds tend to pander to the far left during primary season. That Giuliani [R] and Richardson [D] have not done so is laudable and I hope it gets them votes.

That Gov. Romney could not and would not parlay his record as a moderate governor and successful businessman into becoming the American born Schwarzenegger is to me absolutely mind-boggling.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

hey other anon... usually it's about 12:15. but sometimes he's 'concerned dem' or 'trotsky'.. there was a slew of different names on friday, but still the same signature rants...

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

As we approach Noon EDT, the betting window is now open.

Bets as to what time the first Zouk post will show up may now be made.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't call Ed Morrissey an objective observer. I'm already seeing "The Sky is falling" hyperbole coming out of other Conservative sites.

The first thing according to everybody, other than these people, is that actual steps have to be taken to ensure border security. If that isn't done, everything else is moot.

I can just see the GOP's Beanies with Propellers Brigade on C-SPAN on the floor of the House appealing to every emotion and ignoring common sense on this.

FYI - This "crisis" has been going on for 21 years since the Reagan Fix. Do you really want to do something to fix it, or do you just want to stand on principle for the sake of standing on principle, which means nothing will happen?

If you're going to stand on principle and oppose the only thing anybody can agree on, then stop grousing, because all your approach will do is continue the status quo!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

A good idea would be to see how many of the repubs, not in the race as yet, are pushing a book. Newt is smart enough not to get involved and is only making a little extra money.

Posted by: lylepink | May 21, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Mitt Romney is a pro-abortion flip-flopper. Once people find out about his two-faced political career, his support will plummet. His entire candidacy is a concoction of a bunch of Washington lobbyists, all based on phoniness. Just four years ago, Mitt Romney was rabidly pro-abortion, pro-gay rights, and pro-gun control, and now we are supposed to believe that he has experienced a sincere conversion on all of these issues to the opposite position? Whatever.

Posted by: Nancy | May 21, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

mitty is ahead only by about one expensively coiffed hair...

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

'In testimony last week, General Pace said that no plans had been drawn up for a withdrawal of US forces.

The White House and Pentagon are under increasing pressure from Congress and the public to end U.S. military involvement in Iraq. But the Pentagon is considering maintaining a core group of forces in Iraq for decades. ... A series of military installations could be maintained around Iraq, with a total of total of 40,000 to 50,000 U.S. troops, for a long period of time -- maybe a few decades.'

Posted by: whether we like it or not | May 21, 2007 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Aussie Bill and JD mention something worth reporting on by Chris - the dynamic of the changes in the primary schedule.

None of us will know the true effect until next Winter, but some strategists are doing their best to try to figure out what it will be.

Cris, providing the primary/caucus dates and delegate counts for each state and some strategies which your expert sources are following would be a good basis for a thread.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

For example, as Ed Morrissey observes, did you know that the White House removed a provision for requiring the illegal immigrants to pay back taxes?'

Posted by: * | May 21, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Florida (AP) -- The fairways here are flecked, the greens mottled brown. The PGA National Resort & Spa doesn't look like a marquee golf course.

"We'll talk to people about it in the pro shop when they check in and say, 'You might notice things are a little bit browner today,"' said Joel Paige, managing director at the course.

Florida's bottom half is in an 18-month drought, and signs of the problem are everywhere -- from the links to the nursery and sugar cane industries.

Lake Okeechobee, the region's primary reservoir, is down to 9.3 feet above sea level -- less than half a foot above its record low. Farmers and the area's 600 golf courses must use 45 percent less water in the hardest-hit areas, and home sprinklers are restricted to once a week.

Officials are comparing the drought to another in 2001 that caused an estimated $400 million in agricultural losses.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Gasoline prices soared to levels never seen before as even the inflation-adjusted price for a gallon of unleaded topped the 1981 record spike in price that had stood for 26 years.

And higher prices could be on the way as Americans get ready to hit the road for the Memorial Day holiday and the start of the summer driving season.

Two different surveys found record high pump prices once again.

The Lundberg Survey, a bi-weekly gas price tracking service, put the price of a gallon of unleaded at $3.18 in its latest reading released late Sunday, up more than 11 cents from its reading of two weeks ago.

Posted by: worse than carter | May 21, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Illegals paying all taxes owed is part of the White House/Senate plan as reported over the weekend.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse


'Not just the same as the rest of us, but "more."

Last time I looked, i had to pay back taxes if I owed them.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

"Maybe we should all become illegal immigrants...the WH wants to 'punish' them for breaking the law by giving them more rights and advantages than law-abiding citizens."

Ahhh, the fog machine is already laying down its blanket - "more rights and advantages"

Not just the same as the rest of us, but "more."


"Of course, the interest of Multinational corporations always trumps the interests of citizens in this administration."

Sounds like MikeB at work.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Exclusive: Romney Tops YouTube Video Rankings
Complete coverage, totals and results.
http://hammer2006.blogspot.com/2007/05/exclusive-top-presidential-candidate.html

Posted by: Alex Hammer | May 21, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

"A major CIA effort launched last year to hunt down Osama bin Laden has produced no significant leads on his whereabouts, but has helped track an alarming increase in the movement of Al Qaeda operatives and money into Pakistan's tribal territories, according to senior U.S. intelligence officials familiar with the operation.

In one of the most troubling trends, U.S. officials said that Al Qaeda's command base in Pakistan is increasingly being funded by cash coming out of Iraq, where the terrorist network's operatives are raising substantial sums from donations to the anti-American insurgency as well as kidnappings of wealthy Iraqis and other criminal activity.

The influx of money has bolstered Al Qaeda's leadership ranks at a time when the core command is regrouping and reasserting influence over its far-flung network. The trend also signals a reversal in the traditional flow of Al Qaeda funds, with the network's leadership surviving to a large extent on money coming in from its most profitable franchise, rather than distributing funds from headquarters to distant cells.

Al Qaeda's efforts were aided, intelligence officials said, by Pakistan's withdrawal in September of tens of thousands of troops from the tribal areas along the Afghanistan border where Bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, are believed to be hiding. "

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

JimD, you can expect Thompson to jump in this month, not in the fall. I don't think Gingrich will get in, he cannot win and he's smart enough to know it.

And to the first poster who mentioned Rudy's strat to ignore the mini-states and go for the big ones; you might be right. And the way the primaries are set up this time around, it could easily work out. NY and Calif (natural Rudy targets) have a lot more sway in the final count than NH and Iowa and SC - it's just the media that makes such a big deal of those states, mostly because of tradition. As usual, the media is fighting the last war.

Posted by: JD | May 21, 2007 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Romney is the benefactor of a minor blip caused by Giuliani's abortion tirade and the failure of McCain to make an impact in Iowa yet. Mitt's the only alternative at this point.

Once Rudy and McCain tie up their loose ends and kick into high gear, Fred Thompson and/or Newt Gingrich enters the race, and people really thing about Mormonism, Romney will de done.
http://political-buzz.com/?p=197

Posted by: paul | May 21, 2007 10:33 AM | Report abuse

'Washington has given Israel the green light to accept Syrian President Bashar Assad's call for peace talks, in a change of position accompanied by several preconditions.

The Bush administration has given Israel permission to discuss the future of the Golan Heights, security arrangements and Israeli-Syrian peace accords.

However, Washington has stipulated that Israel must not agree to any negotiations, even indirectly, on the future of Lebanon.'

So I guess bush is president of Israel now too?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Seems to me that every R is running as hard as they can AWAY from the center and toward the fringe lunatics:

'Polling on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform is much more positive towards the approach adopted by the Senate Judiciary Committee than many pundits and politicians would like you to believe. The polls cited below are not an exhaustive list, but provide important evidence that the conventional wisdom that holds that Americans want to continue our current "get-tough and get-tough-only" approach do not tell the whole story.

Americans want both enhanced border security, workplace and employer enforcement, and less illegality, and they simultaneously want more legality in the immigration system.

About 8-in-10 (79%) favor allowing illegal immigrants to register as "guest-workers."

About 8-in-10 (78%) favor allowing illegal immigrants in the U.S. citizenship if they learn English, have a job and pay taxes.

About 8-in-10 (82%) say the U.S. is not doing enough to keep "illegals," from entering the country.

About 7-in-10 (71%) favor providing and enforcing penalties for employers convicted of hiring illegal immigrants.'

Posted by: Cassandra | May 21, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse


On the same day, a British defense official in Iraq revealed that the US escalation is failing to reduce overall violence -- and that US military commanders had scaled back their goals for reducing violence.

In unusually candid comments, Mr Campbell also disclosed that American commanders had decided that the criteria for the "success" of the troop surge would be nothing more than a reduction in violence to the level prior to last year's al-Qaeda bombing of the al-Askari Mosque in Samarra, which destroyed its golden dome.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

George Bush just said goodbye to his friend and closest ally, Tony Blair, but the British press is already reporting that the next British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, is likely to announce further withdrawals of British troops from Iraq. From the UK Telegraph:

Gordon Brown is prepared to risk the future of the "special relationship" with the United States by reversing Tony Blair's support for the Iraq war, President George W Bush has been warned.

He has been briefed by White House officials to expect an announcement on British troop withdrawals from Mr Brown during his first 100 days in power.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

I would guess that Romney's numbers are up in Iowa because of his debate performance.

And, if the rumors I hear are true, that he is going to take a stronger stand on illegal immigration, then his numbers will soar even more in Iowa.

Illegal immigration is an unrepresented issue, and a strong major candidate voice rejecting amnesty for lawbreakers will grab headlines and leave "flip flopping" criticisms in the dustbin.

http://whathappenedtomycountry.blogspot.com

Posted by: Truth Hunter | May 21, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

WASHINGTON -- Two intelligence assessments from January 2003 predicted that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and subsequent U.S. occupation of Iraq could lead to internal violence and provide a boost to Islamic extremists and terrorists, according to congressional sources and former intelligence officials familiar with the prewar studies.

The two assessments, titled "Principal Challenges in Post-Saddam Iraq" and "Regional Consequences of Regime Change in Iraq," were produced by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) and will be a major part of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's long-awaited Phase II report on prewar intelligence assessments about Iraq. The assessments were delivered to the White House and to congressional intelligence committees before the war started.

The committee chairman, Sen. John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and the vice chairman, Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., announced this month that the panel had asked Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell to declassify the report for public release.

Congressional sources said the two NIC assessments are to be declassified and would be part of a portion of the Phase II report that could be released this month.

The assessment on post-Saddam Iraq included judgments that, while Iraq was unlikely to split apart, there was a significant chance that domestic groups would fight one another and that ex-regime military elements could merge with terrorist groups to battle any new government. It even talked of guerrilla warfare, according to congressional sources and former intelligence officials.

The second NIC assessment discussed "political Islam being boosted and the war being exploited by terrorists and extremists elsewhere in the region," one former senior analyst said. It also suggested that fear of U.S. military dominance and occupation of a Middle East country, one sacred to Islam, would attract foreign Islamic fighters to the area.

A former senior intelligence official said he was told by one CIA briefer after the NIC papers were given to top government officials that one ranking Defense Department official had said they were "too negative" and that the papers "did not see the possibilities" Saddam's removal would present.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

WASHINGTON -- It's gloomy out there. Men and women, whites and minorities _ all are feeling a war-weary pessimism about the country seldom shared by so many people.

Only 25 percent of those surveyed say things in the U.S. are going in the right direction, according to an AP-Ipsos poll this month. That is about the lowest level of satisfaction detected since the survey started.

Rarely have long-running polls found such a rate since the gloomy days of 1992 ahead of the first President Bush's re-election loss to Democrat Bill Clinton.

The current glumness is widely blamed on public discontent with the war in Iraq and with President Bush. It is striking for how widespread the mood is among different groups of people.

Ann Bailey, 69, a retired school secretary in Broken Arrow, Okla., is a conservative who believes the country is on the wrong track. That sentiment should raise alarms for Republicans hoping to hold the White House and recapture Congress next year.

She cites a widespread lack of honesty plus immigration, gasoline prices and Iraq _ where a son and grandson are serving.

"I think they need to finish up what they're doin now and say, 'OK, now you solve your problem. We've done the best we can do.'"

Larry Ward, a Republican from Pocomoke, Md., also senses the U.S. is heading the wrong way.

"We're still fighting a war we can't win," said Ward, 47, who operates a tree service. "That's a real big thing for me."

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

"One solid attack ad where Mitt's face morphs into John Kerry with a narrator saying 'Mitt Romney, just another Massachusetts flip-flopper' and he is done. Also that ad won't come from McCain it will come from Sam Brownback, or some 527 that represents Dobson and the crazy crew."

AndyR if that ad doesn't show up in the primaries it will certainly in the general. Some of Dobson's guys are so totally deranged they would prefer a "real Christian" D to a R Mormon.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | May 21, 2007 10:05 AM | Report abuse

"Less than a week after Jerry Falwell's death, Newt Gingrich appeared at Falwell's college, Liberty University, to address to the school's 2007 graduating class. The former House Speaker and likely presidential candidate denounced the "growing culture of radical secularism."

"radical secularism' -- I guess he mean like that practiced by the Founding Fathers.

No matter who the R candidate for president is, you can rest assured that they will continue to try to gut the constitution and ram religion down our throats, same as bush has done for 6 years.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

"While The Fix still tends to think the nomination fight comes down to a battle in South Carolina,..."

Do you mean to tell me that the possible future of our country is in the hands of the people of South Carolina?

Does this not seem absurd? Scary?

Posted by: mpower1952 | May 21, 2007 9:59 AM | Report abuse

"...and South Carolina where he has fantastic organizations, and establishment support (the Jeb Bush machine in Florida and Jim Demint's supporters in South Carolina)."

I thought the R 'establishment' in SC was busy printing fliers proclaiming that Romney's Mormonism makes him a tool of Satan etc, etc.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | May 21, 2007 9:59 AM | Report abuse


The White House appointee in charge of the Education Department's troubled financial aid office took home $250,000 in bonuses, leading lawmakers to question what she did to deserve such lavish rewards.

"Given that the student loan programs became increasingly rife with conflicts of interest and unethical practices" during the four years Theresa Shaw served as chief operating officer of the Federal Student Aid office, "it is questionable whether these bonuses were justified," House Education Committee Chairman George Miller, D.-Calif., told ABC News. The bonuses were first reported by Government Executive magazine.

From 2003 to 2006, the department awarded Shaw with annual bonuses ranging from $60,000 to $71,250, the magazine reported Tuesday.

Shaw stepped down from her post last week after her office was rocked by several scandals and investigators began to scrutinize its operations.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

'The immigration bill shouldn't be rushed through just because some senators got together with the White House and came up with several hundred pages of a bill. For example, Hugh Hewitt has been reading through the bill and has been posting his observations of particular provisions. For example, as Ed Morrissey observes, did you know that the White House removed a provision for requiring the illegal immigrants to pay back taxes?'

Maybe we should all become illegal immigrants...the WH wants to 'punish' them for breaking the law by giving them more rights and advantages than law-abiding citizens. Of course, the interest of Multinational corporations always trumps the interests of citizens in this administration.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 9:50 AM | Report abuse

My feeling is that this is solely due to Mitt spending tremendous amounts of money on TV ads so early. On paper and in person Mitt looks like an ideal republican candidate. He is a young, successful, family man with buisness and Executive experience. He's a good public speaker and can cite several successes in his buisness and political career.

But as CC points out "Romney has emphasized his belief in traditional marriage, his opposition to abortion and is now on television with an ad that paints him as an ardent opponent of illegal immigration."
At least that is what he beleives this week.
He was for gay rights, pro-choice, and he supported the increase in immigration in Massachussets while he was governor. All of which I agree with but I am liberal.

These poll numbers are paper thin. One solid attack ad where Mitt's face morphs into John Kerry with a narrator saying "Mitt Romney, just another Massachusetts flip-flopper" and he is done. Also that ad won't come from McCain it will come from Sam Brownback, or some 527 that represents Dobson and the crazy crew.

Posted by: Andy R | May 21, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Magic underpants safely deflect all criticism.

Posted by: MorMan | May 21, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Mike McConnell, the Bush administration's Director of National Intelligence, has a remarkably dishonest Op-Ed in The Washington Post this morning, in which he argues for completely unspecified "updates" and "changes" to FISA in order to expand -- yet again -- the Government's powers of eavesdropping on Americans.

McConnell's entire argument for expansion of surveillance powers rests on a patent falsehood.

In paragraph after paragraph, McConnell claims that FISA -- which was first enacted in 1978 but amended multiple times since then -- is an obsolete law because it was from an era where "the first cellular mobile phone system was still being tested" and "a personal computer's memory had just been expanded to 16 kilobytes." He then affirmatively (and falsely) states, several times, that FISA is unchanged since 1978 and thus does not recognize new communications technology such as e-mail and cell phones:

Many of these statements are highly misleading, as they strongly imply that FISA has not been amended since it was first enacted 30 years ago. But several of the statements -- such as: "the law has not been changed to reflect technological advancements" -- are just flat-out lies.

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration demanded a whole slew of changes to FISA which expanded the President's eavesdropping powers and which the administration claimed were necessary in order to bring FISA into the 21st Century by allowing surveillance of modern communication methods. Congress, needless to say, complied in full, and in October of 2001 -- contrary to McConnell's misleading Op-Ed -- it enacted, and the President signed, sweeping "modernizing" changes to FISA. Compare what the President said at the signing ceremony back in October 2001 to McConnell's Op-Ed:

'The changes, effective today, will help counter a threat like no other our Nation has ever faced. . . .We're dealing with terrorists who operate by highly sophisticated methods and technologies, some of which were not even available when our existing laws were written. The bill before me takes account of the new realities and dangers posed by modern terrorists. It will help law enforcement to identify, to dismantle, to disrupt, and to punish terrorists before they strike. . . .

Surveillance of communications is another essential tool to pursue and stop terrorists. The existing law was written in the era of rotary telephones. This new law I sign today will allow surveillance of all communications used by terrorists, including e-mails, the Internet, and cell phones. As of today, we'll be able to better meet the technological challenges posed by this proliferation of communications technology. . .

Why does the WaPo continue to publish republican propaganda as 'fact'?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I agree with JimD. Romney made a strategic error in running as a right-winger instead of as a moderate. Even if his change in position on abortion is sincere, it would be easier to get away with if he didn't come across as a panderer to the religious right.

Posted by: Eric | May 21, 2007 9:36 AM | Report abuse

A question about the polls you cite:

Do you mean "caucus goers" when you say "primary voters?" Otherwise this is a very odd poll for anyone to be taking.

Posted by: BB | May 21, 2007 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Ask Romney to name the state flowers of Iowa and New Hampshire.

The AP reports today that states may be losing their state flowers because of global warming (http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-No-Sunflowers.html?_r=1&oref=slogin).

As a matter of fact, the NH Carbon Coalition (www.carboncoalition.org) sent a 'lilac greeting card' to all potential candidates last year and again this year.

*The lilac is the NH state flower
*Scientists have shown that its blooming a week earlier than it did 40 years ago, because of global warming.
*To get to the NH Primary, Mr. Romney will have to get specific on global warming

Posted by: Dave in NH | May 21, 2007 9:24 AM | Report abuse

'Little more than a year ago, Al Qaeda's core command was thought to be in a financial crunch. But U.S. officials said cash shipped from Iraq has eased those troubles.

"Iraq is a big moneymaker for them," said a senior U.S. counter-terrorism official.'

Basing your decisions upon your stated enemy's threats and taunts and holding fast so they can't yell "psych!" is not a foreign policy --- it's a WWF advertising campaign. It isn't real and it doesn't address any real problem. The US is the most powerful country on earth and the Islamoboogeymen are not going to take over our government and make us all wear burkas and pray to mecca. Really. Sophisticated thinkers would find solutions to the real problems of islamic fundamentalism and energy dependence and Israel and all the rest rather than launch invasions as PR exercises, but this is what we are dealing with. Marketing is the only thing the Mayberry Machiavellis know.

This isn't some scripted TV "throw-down." It's a serious and complicated challenge and we desperately need to get some people in power who don't depend on "Jack Baur" for their policy prescriptions. Every single day these jokers continue with their little playground game, they make things worse.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 9:16 AM | Report abuse

The Bush administration and its neocon muses have long said that the most dangerous thing the US could do would be to give the terrorists a victory by "proving" that we don't have the ballocks to stand and fight. They firmly believe that a failure to kick ass and take names, going all the way back to Reagan and the bombing of the marine barracks in Beirut, is what caused the 'Islamofascists' to think they could attack us. They know this because bin Laden has trash talked this line on various tapes and missives over the years so it must be true. (He wouldn't lie, would he?)

And when they hear him saying "bring it" like big dumb bulls they see red and immediately start snorting and stomping the ground and rush headlong into some half baked scheme designed to prove that we can't be intimidated. But what if the Islamoboogeymen are actually waving their capes in front of the big, dumb United States in order to get them to do exactly that?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Thirty years ago today:

NIXON: Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.

Q: By definition.

NIXON: Exactly, exactly.

Posted by: nothing changes in the R party | May 21, 2007 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Jim D -

Writing as a potential voter for McCain, or Fred T., or Giuliani, but not for the other Reps, I am the sort of independent who might vote for Fred T. instead of RG.

I do see Newt as complicating the conservative vote more than Fred T., but neither Fred T nor Newt were true "social" conservatives. I see your point about RG as the anti-Dobson, of course, but Dobson's whole-hearted support of Fred T. would be unlikely, and would maim his appeal for me, and perhaps for other independents, as well. Your take on THAT would interest me.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | May 21, 2007 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Gardiner, a simulations expert at the U.S. Army's National War College, after leading a "war game" on Iran: "After all this effort, I am left with two simple sentences for policymakers. You have no military solution for the issues of Iran. And you have to make diplomacy work."

Posted by: message to mccain | May 21, 2007 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Reid's plan to block Bush's recess appointments.
"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a little trick up his sleeve that could spell an end to President Bush's devilish recess appointments of controversial figures like former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton." U.S. News reports:

We hear that over the long August vacation, when those types of summer hires are made, Reid will call the Senate into session just long enough to force the prez to send his nominees who need confirmation to the chamber. The talk is he will hold a quickie "pro forma" session every 10 days, tapping a local senator to run the hall. Senate workers and Republicans are miffed, but Reid is proving that he's the new sheriff in town.

Posted by: long overdue | May 21, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse

'BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Battling obesity, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani flew to the United States on Sunday for help in tackling his weight problem.'

Oh great, I'm sure we taxpayers will be paying to send him to a cushy spa.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 8:58 AM | Report abuse

The centerpiece of the Bush Administration's sex education program which is based on abstinence-only, is one that has been preached by people in power for the last decade, resulting in the feds giving money to every U.S. state to be used to set up manditory instruction programs for young people.

U.S. tax payers think they are paying tax dollars that are going to a good program that is making a difference in the country, but in actual fact, their combined 1 billion dollars paid into the program have done absolutely nothing resulting in a serious flop.

The programs preach the message that not having sex is the only way of avoiding pregnancy and staying disease free, totally ignoring education pertaining to birth control and safe sex practices.

A recent study simply affirms what we already know. Teens are not getting the message. The study found that 2 to 4 years after taking sex education classes where abstinence only was preached, more than half of the participants had engaged in sexual activity.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Don't count on Iowa voters to exercize critical judgement. Multiple-choice Mitt, the worse flip-flopper of recent electoral history, will feed them anything they want to hear. They'll believe he is an honest man, a man with "values", and vote for that clown.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Chris, have you been paying attention to other polls? Romney's winning in NH too, and by a fair margin (one poll has him up 16, another up 9). If Romney wins Iowa, the race almost assuredly over, because he'll then win NH by AT LEAST 5 points, enough momentum to carry him a strong showing, and possibly even first, in states like Florida and South Carolina where he has fantastic organizations, and establishment support (the Jeb Bush machine in Florida and Jim Demint's supporters in South Carolina). The others NEED to stop Romney in Iowa to keep this thing competitive, because even a strong second place showing in Iowa will likely to be enough to keep Romney in the lead in NH, a state where he doesn't really need to worry about Fred and Newt.

Posted by: Matt | May 21, 2007 8:51 AM | Report abuse


Filmmaker Michael Moore is baffled by the timing of a US federal investigation into his trip to Cuba for new movie Sicko, because the government knew about his plans to travel to the Caribbean island last year, and did nothing.

Earlier this month, Moore received a letter from the US Treasury Department's Office Of Foreign Assets Control, notifying him that it was conducting a civil investigation for possible violations of the trade embargo restricting travel to Cuba.

But Moore can't understand why the government only decided to take action earlier this month. The movie is scheduled for US release on June 29.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse


U.S. death toll rising in Baghdad

(05-21) 04:00 PDT Baghdad -- Six U.S. soldiers and an interpreter were killed Saturday when a bomb exploded near their position in western Baghdad, the U.S. military reported Sunday, underscoring the heightened vulnerability of U.S. forces as they increase their presence in the capital.

A seventh U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb Saturday in Diwaniyah, about 100 miles south of Baghdad, the military said. Two soldiers were wounded in that attack.The deaths raise to 71 the number of U.S. service members killed this month.

Military deaths have been rising since fall, and the first half of this year has already been deadlier than any six-month period since the war began more than four years ago.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Comey recounted how Alberto Gonzales, then White House counsel and now attorney general, and Andrew H. Card Jr., then White House chief of staff, seemed to be utterly untroubled as they accosted the gravely ill Ashcroft in his hospital bed. They wanted him to certify the legality of a secret domestic surveillance program, due to expire the next day.
"I was angry. I thought I had just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man, who did not have the powers of the attorney general because they had been transferred to me," Comey told senators.
In the darkened hospital room, as Comey and two Justice colleagues watched Gonzales and Card, Ashcroft raised his head from pillow, reiterated his objections, and said that regardless, his power as attorney general had been transferred to Comey.

Ashcroft lay back down, exhausted.

Card later called Comey and demanded his presence at the White House. "I responded that, after the conduct I had just witnessed, I would not meet with him without a witness present," Comey told lawmakers.

Posted by: the obscenity that is this administration | May 21, 2007 8:43 AM | Report abuse

His 'conservative messaging' -- you mean his lying, flipflopping and propaganda?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 21, 2007 8:40 AM | Report abuse

I suspect that Thompson or Gingrich, or perhaps both, will get into the race in the early fall if it appears that no current candidate is the clear front-runner. That will seriously muddy the picture. I think Romney will not wear well with social conservatives when they see countless attack ads highlighting Romney's vow to be a stronger advocate of gay rights than Ted Kennedy. He will also be hurt, to a lesser extent, by anti-Mormon prejudice among many evangelical Christian conservatives.

Now, if Romney had decided to run as a moderate, problem solving Governor, experienced business executive, savior of the Salt Lake City Olympics... I believe he would be in a much stronger position and would be a formidable candidate in the general election. That leaves the moderate, problem solving candidate role to Giuliani. Should Thompson and/or Gingrich enter the race, Giuliani would benefit by further dilution of the hard core ideologues.

As long as Giuliani does not self-destruct (a possibility given his temper) he should be in a very good position. With a crowded field and winner-take-all delegates primaries, he can win with 33% or so of the vote. Unless the social conservatives coalesce behind a single candidate fairly early, Giuliani could march to the nomination this way. Giuliani could be a formidable general election candidate - if he can hold the Republican base. But, there would undoubtedly be a third party religious right candidate, perhaps with significant NRA financial support. Already, James Dobson is telling his supporters to stay home if Giuliani is the Repubilcan nominee.

Posted by: JimD in FL | May 21, 2007 8:35 AM | Report abuse

I like Guiliani's strategy of not concentrating on Iowa- he can win big states with maybe less extreme religious right folks. The non first teir candidates (Newt) could strech Romney in Iowa leaving him well behind the Mayor and McCain (if McCain wins New Hampshire)

Posted by: Aussie Bill | May 21, 2007 8:14 AM | Report abuse

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