News tagged as 'Mitt Romney'

Romney’s Team Suggests VP Selection is “Liberated” from the Tea Party?


Stephen Hayes writes today at The Weekly Standard that an unnamed source on the Romney team may have set back the steady progress Romney has been making with the Tea Party movement over the past several weeks. Here’s the quote, said to be from a top operative in the Romney campaign, taken from a Washington Post article:

“The conventional thinking has been that after a long and divisive primary campaign, the challenge of uniting the GOP would force Romney to pick a running mate with strong appeal to tea party activists and evangelicals. But Romney’s team thinks he may be liberated from that pressure if he can finish off remaining rivals Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul in the next few weeks. ”

Hayes wonders if Romney can build on the “great strides [he’s made] with Tea Party leaders in the past two weeks.”

I have the quick answer to that question:

Not if he and his team think they’re “liberated” from us.

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new book, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, was published by Broadside Books on March, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

Santorum Rhetorically Aligns with the Tea Party, But Substantively Rejects Free Market Principles


On February 25, 2012, at the Chattanooga Tea Party’s Liberty Forum, Rick Santorum delivered one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard on the nature of the Constitution and the future of our republic. For those of you who missed it, you can watch all 50 minutes of it here. As Mark Fitzgibbons noted in his American Thinker article this past Friday, the speech marked “Santorum’s Intellectual Evolution to a Strong Constitutional Conservative.”

Santorum deserves great credit for engaging with the Tea Party movement and rhetorically aligning with our three core values: (1) constitutionally limited government, (2) fiscal responsibility, and (3) free markets.

Unfortunately, Santorum subsequently demonstrated that it’s one thing to rhetorically align with those values and quite another to do so substantively.

Prior to hearing Santorum’s Chattanooga speech, I had criticized him severely for his poor economic policy. Specifically, I agreed with the Tax Foundation when it gave his tax policies a D+, citing his especially egregious proposal to try to pick “winners and losers” by giving all manufacturers special tax breaks. Earlier last month, before the Chattanooga speech,  Santorum announced his “Economic Freedom Agenda,” which included a proposed that while all other corporations should  pay income tax at a rate of 17.5%, manufacturing companies should pay no corporate income tax at all.

This Hamiltonian strategy of promoting an industrial policy in which the federal government picks winners and losers is antithetical to the tea party’s third core value of free markets. As I argue in my new book, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, there is great evil in a tax code that authorizes the government to take money from certain groups of citizens and give it to other groups. Santorum’s proposal to offer special tax breaks for manufacturers is but another example of two centuries of politicians trying to take from one group and give to another. Before 1913, they used tariff laws. Since 1913, they’ve used the federal tax code.

Every time the federal government promotes policies that subsidize the activities of one group over another, our country’s scarce resources are misallocated.  We end up using too much corn to produce ethanol, so food prices go up. We subsidize solar companies who make products no one wants, and they go bankrupt. And we give high income earners tax credits to buy electrical vehicles manufactured by state-run General Motors, and there’s so little demand for Chevy Volts, production has to be halted.

After the Chattanooga speech, Senator Santorum gave us reason to hope that his intellectual evolution to constitutional conservativism had moved beyond mere rhetoric and into the realm of action. In last Monday’s Wall Street Journal,   Santorum noticeably omitted his “zero income tax on manufacturing” proposal, mentioning  only “repatriated” manufacturing profits earned in foreign countries by domestic manufacturers.

Many of us in the Tea Party movement took notice. Had Santorum decided to align with our core value of free markets?

Alas, this omission of proposed manufacturing tax breaks appears to be nothing more than a weak attempt to avoid criticism from the many free market conservatives who read the Wall Street Journal.

Santorum finally confirmed last week that he stands by his Hamiltonian views of offering manufacturing tax breaks at the 1:22 mark in this interview with John Harwood of the New York Times and CNBC:

What are we to make of this unfortunate decision by Senator Santorum?

Time to turn our attentions to Governor Romney as well as Senator Santorum. After all, Governor Romney finally started engaging with local tea parties in his hard fought Michigan primary victory.

Where Santorum has actively engaged with the Tea Party to great effect, the response to Governor Romney has been tepid at best. Romney has steadfastly refused to repudiate RomneyCare, supported the TARP bailouts, and aims low when it comes to spending cuts (his official position calls for cutting federal expenditures to 20% of GDP, but only recently he cautioned against making any immediate spending cuts.)

While Senator Santorum has done well with Tea Party friendly rhetoric, his specific proposals have been little better than Governor Romney’s. Rhetorical flourishes are meaningless unless accompanied by the corresponding actions.

The race for the Republican nomination is not over quite yet, and the Tea Party needs to give both of these candidates yet one more chance to align with our core values.

Given the abysmal state of the Republican Party’s get-out-the-vote infrastructure, it’s going to be up to the Tea Party movement to drag the Republican Presidential nominee across the finish line to victory. As the eventual nominee  will be relying upon us to secure their Electoral College majority in November, Governor Romney and Senator Santorum should begin to align both their rhetoric and their substantive policies more closely with our core values.

Let’s hope that both these candidates begin to do just that.

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new book, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .


Why is Santorum Rising?


Recent polls show former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum rising. Some national polls of Republican primary voters show him in the lead, other show him closely behind Mitt Romney. Many polls show him competitive in a head to head race with President Obama. In the remaining primary states, he currently has a slight lead over Romney in Michigan, and is within striking distance in Arizona. Both states hold primaries a week from tomorrow.

Why is Santorum surging, Romney stalling, Gingrich sliding, and Paul holding steady?

His success comes more from his strategy of engaging voters in a one-on-one retail approach than it does the specifics of his policies. While he appealed to the strong current of evangelical voters in Iowa, and laid out a very credible foreign policy approach, we can’t ignore his Big Government approach to spending and social issues.

If we were to look to a seventeenth century figure in the Anglo-American culture who Santorum’s policies most resemble, it would be the authoritarian Christian communitarianism of Massachusetts Bay Colony’s first governor John Winthrop to whom we would point, not the Christian natural liberty of English libertarian John Lilburne.

The Cato Instititute’s David Boaz recently pointed out Santorum’s poor track record of support for the limited government ethos that defines the Tea Party movement.

Michael Barone notes that Santorum’s deft explanation for his endorsement of RINO Arlen Specter over conservative Pat Toomey in the 2004 Republican Senate Primary in Pennsylvania (Specter’s re-election was critical, Santorum said, because he was needed to usher Alito and Roberts on to the Supreme Court) was only half of the story. Barone points out that Santorum, the political operative with 16 total years in Congress, owed his 1994 election to the Senate to Specter’s support.

Santorum’s tax proposals, however, are so bad that the respected Tax Foundation gave him a D+. Instead of simplifying the tax code, Santorum would maintain its present complexity. Worse yet, he favors the Hamiltonian strategy of picking winners and losers through the tax code, providing a variety of incentives to favored industry. Manufacturing, which struggles in his native Pennsylvania, gets special tax benefits.

Comparing Santorum’s policies to those of his two main competitors–Gingrich and Romney, Santorum is only slightly less Hamiltonian. Santorum distinguishes himself from these two in one key regard — he opposed the TARP bank bailouts of October, 2008.

Why, then, does Santorum enjoy more than a 2 to 1 advantage over both Gingrich and Romney among Republican primary voters who consider themselves tea party supporters?

There are three reasons:

1. Santorum is authentic and consistent in his views.

2. He is likable and approachable.

3. He genuinely engages with local tea parties around the country.

Romney, for reasons that continue to remain a mystery to me, appears to be following a strategy of actively avoiding the Tea Party movement. To my knowledge, he has never addressed an actual tea party rally or local tea party group. In December, he spoke on the phone at a tea party tele-town hall with other Presidential candidates, but that appears to be the extent of his direct communication with the Tea Party movement.

This remoteness–an odd strategy to keep Romney in a “bubble” away from potential supporters–seems to permeate his campaign. In Ohio last week, for instance, Attorney General Mike DeWine withdrew his endorsement of Romney and endorsed Santorum. “He doesn’t write, he doesn’t call,” DeWine said of Romney.

Gingrich, who has a long and twisted history with the movement, has, until recently spoken at numerous tea party rallies, but has never really actually modified his policies according to communications he’s received at these rallies, at least as far as I can tell. And where Santorum appears friendly, upbeat, and approachable, Gingrich appears a bitter, scowling, intellectual elitist. Santorum is blue collar, Gingrich is academic cap and gown.

This Saturday, for instance, Santorum will be the featured speaker at the Third Anniversary Celebration of the Tea Party movement to be held in Chattanooga Tennessee, hosted there by the local tea party. Romney turned down a similar invitation, giving Santorum an open running field to garner tea party support around the country. This is not the first time Santorum has spoken to local tea party groups. Last week he was a featured speaker at a tea party gathering in Ohio. Clearly, Santorum has realized the value of showing up and engaging with tea parties, especially in states like Tennessee and Ohio, where Super Tuesday primaries will be held on March 6.

The lesson from Santorum’s recent success should be his tactics more than his message. Retail politics works. Television ads, robocolls, email blasts and the like are increasingly “white noise” –irritating background ignored by most voters.  The election of 2012 will be decided more by neighbors talking to neighbors they trust than it will be traditional media. Age old person to person  grassroots politicking is experiencing a resurgence. And that’s a good thing for the country.

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new book, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

Pawlenty’s Wrong: Gingrich Can Beat Obama


In light of the drubbing Mitt Romney received Saturday at the hands of Newt Gingrich, failed Presidential candidate and Romney surrogate Tim Pawlenty asserted today that Newt Gingrich can’t beat Obama.

The dramatic increase in voter turnout in South Carolina’s Republican primary (up 35% in 2012 from 2008) tells us otherwise. This morning’s news about Gingrich’s 9% lead in Florida from Rasmussen Reports confirms the trend. At the moment, the energy in the Republican race for the nomination is behind Gingrich.

As I’ve noted in this space previously, there are plenty of reasons for the Tea Party to doubt Gingrich’s record as much as Romney’s. But the Romney surrogates who focus on alleged electability problems are missing the key point of this battle.

Voters in South Carolina were well aware of Gingrich’s shortcomings. Yet they voted for him in part because, as Ann Coulter notes disapprovingly, they want someone who can take the battle to Obama.

If Governor Pawlenty wants to make the case why tea partiers should vote for Romney he should focus on the much more fertile ground and explain–if he can–why Romney policies are more in alignment with the tea party’s core values of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and constitutionally limited government than Gingrich’s.

As it stands now, Pawlenty’s argument is just “white noise” — an irritating sound in the background you just want to go away.

Whether Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, or even Rick Santorum or Ron Paul secure the Republican nomination, this much is clear to me based on the tremendous turnout in South Carolina. Whoever the Republican Party nominates will defeat President Obama in November, 2012, provided they earn the support of the Tea Party movement.

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series, co-founder of the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition, and co-organizer of Election Day Tea Party 2012. His new book,Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

The Tea Party Slaps Down Mitt Romney in South Carolina


Newt Gingrich’s stunning 40% to 28% victory over Mitt Romney in today’s South Carolina Republican Presidential primary is more a Tea Party slap down of Romney than a complete embrace of Gingrich.  The victory was so clear that Fox News called the race seconds after the polls closed at 7 pm eastern time. I’ve written previously in this space that the two GOP frontrunners are both more Big Government Hamiltonians than limited government, tea party aligned Jeffersonians.

While both candidates are far superior to the Constitution-busting collectivist currently occupying the White House, it would be highly inaccurate to call either candidate a consistent supporter of the Tea Party’s three core values of constitutionally limited government, free markets, and fiscal responsibility.

Wasn’t that Newt Gingrich just the other day bashing Romney for his years operating as a free market capitalist at Bain Capital? Isn’t he the same guy who took over $1.5 million in fees from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, endorsed RINO Dede Scozzafava in NY-23, sat on the global warming couch with Nancy Pelosi, clasped arms with Al Sharpton to promote more expansive Department of Education programs, and enthusiastically supported President Bush’s budget breaking pharmaceutical benefits give-away in 2003?

And isn’t that the same Mitt Romney who introduced RomneyCare to Massachusetts, the model for Obamacare, supported the TARP bailout, the Stimulus Package, at one time supported cap and trade like policies, and counts John McCain among his supporters?

But, as the old pros often say, “politics ain’t bean bag,” and modern political candidates are neither Jesus nor John Locke. They are ambitious men with personal agendas who can be persuaded to do the right thing by forceful political pressure applied at the right place and time by savvy conservatives.

What distinguishes Gingrich from Romney is less policy than style and tactics.

Stylistically, he loves to attack, and, as his decimation of John King in Thursday’s debate illustrates, he’s quite good at it.

Tactically, he’s figured out something that the buttoned down Romney, practitioner of the corporate model of hierarchical decision making, has missed entirely.

The energy and passion in Republican politics today is found in abundant supply–and almost exclusively–in the Tea Party movement. While Romney has dismissed and ignored it entirely, Gingrich has cultivated and successfully used it. To be fair, the movement itself has used Gingrich to its advantage, as it did in March, 2009 when he and his American Solutions group were invited by three small online conservative activist groups to co-sponsor what became the hugely successful Tax Day Tea Party rallies of 1 million Americans held in 900 cities on April 15, 2009.

But Gingrich is not a champion of the Tea Party’s core values. He is, like most politicians, the champion of his own ambitions. He’s spent his career crafting political coalitions, and he sees the Tea Party movement as yet another interest group to be manipulated to support his personal goal of securing the most powerful job in the world.

While Romney’s campaign staff ignored endorsements from a handful of local tea party groups, as well as offers to campaign for him in South Carolina, the Gingrich campaign has made a concerted effort to engage with and obtain support from South Carolina tea party leaders. Allen Olsen, the former leader of the Columbia, South Carolina Tea Party, was an early Gingrich supporter in that state, for instance. Joe Dugan, leader of a tea party group in Myrtle Beach, was another Gingrich backer who helped get-out-the-vote today.

Most of the credit for Gingrich’s South Carolina success must go to young Adam Waldeck, a Gingrich campaign staffer who has loyally followed Gingrich from American Solutions, where he was that group’s “point man” dealing with the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition that sponsored the 2009 Tax Day Tea Party, to South Carolina, where he’s played a key role in nurturing and developing local tea party relationships and endorsements. Another tip of the hat goes to Kellen Giuda, the Tea Party Coalitions Director in the Gingrich campaign who first persuaded Gingrich to be one of the featured speakers at the New York City Tax Day Tea Party event back in April of 2009.

These efforts to court the Tea Party movement paid off in a very big way today in South Carolina. Polls showed that by a margin of 46% to 21%, those primary voters who call themselves supporters of the Tea Party voted for Gingrich over Romney. This provided him with his margin of victory.

Now that it looks like we are set for an extended race to earn the Republican nomination, it’s time for the Tea Party to communicate clearly what it wants from all four of the remaining candidates. We’ll work to help get-out-the-vote in both the primaries and the general election, but all four of these candidates need to earn our support by not only engaging with us and acknowledging our influence, but more importantly by modifying their policies to consistently align with our three core values

For the Romney campaign this means it’s time to start making those phone calls to us. We don’t want to talk to third level staffers. We want to talk candidly and directly with Mitt Romney himself. If you’re not prepared to do that, don’t bother calling.

Because, frankly, our phone lines are already burning up with calls from Newt Gingrich and his campaign team.

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series, co-founder of the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition, and co-organizer of Election Day Tea Party 2012. His new book, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

A President Who Will Just Get Out of the Way


After a century of Presidential extra-constitutional activism that’s reached a new peak under the administration of Barack Obama, the nation is signalling it’s time for a change. The will of the country, as evidenced by the calls for Constitutionally Limited Government coming from those of us in the Tea Party movement, is to elect a President who, in domestic matters, will just get out of the way. On matters of foreign policy, we are looking for a President who will defend our sovereignty, as specified in the Constitution.

How does the current crop of Republican aspirants stack up ?

Ron Paul, of course, meets the standard of getting out of the way on domestic matters, but his isolationist views don’t square with the Constitutional requirement to defend our sovereignty.

Rick Santorum’s social agenda calls for a more intrusive federal state in those areas.

To my mind, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and John Huntsman all advocate varying degrees of federal intrusiveness in the domestic arena–nowhere near Obama’s level, mind you, but still beyond this tea partier’s comfort zone. In addition, Huntsman sounds a bit isolationist.

That leaves Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and Michele Bachmann.

Both Cain and Bachmann advocate policies that are quite consistent with non-interference in domestic policies and defense of our sovereignty in the international arena.

The mainstream media is reporting that the Tea Party movement is enamored of Rick Perry, but he has weaknesses in two areas. His 2007 position advocating mandatory Gardasil inoculations of Texas school girls is not consistent with the “get out of the way” sentiments on domestic policy, and his apparent support for open borders fails the test of defending our sovereignty in the international arena.

Despite these two significant weaknesses, Perry has one critical advantage over both Cain and Bachmann. The office he’s occupied for over a decade–Governor of Texas–is constrained by limits imposed on executive authority in the Texas State Constitution.

Whether it’s those constitutional constraints or Perry’s natural philosophy that has led him to largely stay out of the way on domestic economic policies in Texas, the results have been the same. Non-interference in business by the executive branch of state government there has helped give Texas the best record of job creation in the country by far over the past decade.

Perry’s rise in the polls may be evidence of that old maxim: It’s better to be lucky than good. Perhaps Perry is both. We’ll be watching this closely as the Presidential campaign continues over the next year. All this is to suggest, once more, as has been previously suggested in this space, that a Voices of the Tea Party e-book that offers a guide to the 2012 Presidential contenders would be most welcome.

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new  e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, was published earlier this week. His new book, Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement, will be published by Broadside Books in spring, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .

Is “ObamneyCare” the 2012 Version of “Where’s the Beef?”


Candidates for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination have become so predictably dull and unimaginative in their campaign communications it was refreshing to see a spark of life come, improbably, from the Tim Pawlenty campaign. The self proclaimed dull guy in the room came up with  a clever term that has the potential to do for the 2012 Republican Presidential primaries what “Where’s the Beef?” did for the 1984 Democratic Presidential primaries.

Tired of Colorado Senator Gary Hart’s high minded rhetoric lacking specificity, former Vice President Walter Mondale challenged him to add some substance to his proposals.

“Where’s the Beef?” he asked him directly in one of their televised debates, borrowing the phrase made popular by the wizened grandmother in the Wendy’s television commercials for hamburgers.

Fast forward 27 years to 2011, and Tim Pawlenty (or some clever communications pro on his staff) has just coined a phrase that may have the same effect on Mitt Romney’s campaign “Where’s the Beef” had on Gary Hart’s 1984 campaign.

The term is “ObamneyCare.”

Pawlenty introduced it on Fox News Sunday this morning, and beyond the term itself, I don’t know if much more needs to be said.

Why would Republican primary voters support a candidate who introduced ObamneyCare to Massachusetts when the entire Tea Party movement is focused on repealing the very similar ObamaCare for the entire country?

Many articles in this space have suggested the need for a Voices of the Tea Party e-book that rates the current crop of Republican candidates on the degree to which they support the core values of the Tea Party movement.  I suggest that we add to that book a chapter on the candidate’s capability to communicate powerful messages in simple, easy to understand terms and phrases. After, all, “Hope and Change” was a powerful phrase that worked in the 2008 General Election. We’ll need a candidate capable of delivering even more powerful limited government messages in 2012.

Mark Kevin Lloyd is the former President of the Lynchburg, Virginia Tea Party and currently serves as Chairman of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation. He is also the author of  The Battle for Virginia’s Fifth District. He can be reached on Twitter at @mklloydva .

Romney Chooses Pandering Over Principle With Support for Ethanol Subsidies


Last week, on the heels of rival Tim Pawlenty’s call for an end to ethanol subsidies, Presidential candidate Mitt Romney stepped up and told an audience of Iowa voters that he, in contrast, supported ethanol subsidies.

“I support the subsidy of ethanol. . . I believe ethanol is an important part of our energy solution for this country.”

Romney’s rejection of free market principles in favor of this politically expedient pandering is yet another example that illustrates why the tea party will never support him in the primaries. If he wins the Republican nomination, any subsequent backing from the tea party will come with the same kind of nose holding fervor shown by those unenthusiastic conservatives who voted for John McCain in 2008.

I say this as a tea party activist and conservative who has, in the past, given Romney the benefit of the doubt; so much so that in 2008 I ran successfully as a  delegate to the Republican National Convention pledged to support him. I thought then that Romney was the best of a relatively weak field. Now, in 2012, from a tea party perspective, I think he’s probably the worst of a relatively weak field.

All of this simply re-enforces the need for a Voices of the Tea Party e-book that rates the current crop of Presidential contenders on their compatibility with tea party core values.

Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series and co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition. His new  e-book, I, Light Bulb: A Death Row Testimonial, will be published in July, 2011. His new book, Covenant of Liberty, will be published by Broadside Books in January, 2012. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .