Headline of the day: Mitt Romney wins Iowa Caucus by 8 votes over Rick Santorum.
Gee. Just fills you with confidence over our 2012 chances, right?
Anyway...let's get to the down-and-dirty analysis...starting in reverse order.
Huntsman is a fool. You don't ignore the Iowa Caucus if you are running for President. History has shown that winning there (Mike Huckabee) doesn't always send you to the White House...but a poor showing there doesn't help, either. Huntsman should have checked with President Giuliani before deciding to blow off Iowa to chase votes in another, later primary state. Huntsman will get blasted in South Carolina, and he will be out.
I have to admit to a soft spot for the Minnesota Congresswoman. I identify strongly with her ideologically, and could have supported her, but I felt she had a very thin resumé with very few accomplishments. She is tough, and a fighter... but sometimes your own personal passions are not enough to carry you to an election victory, as I have learned myself. I think Michele raised her profile and she should go back to Minnesota and run for Senator or Governor. I would love to see her take Al Frankens Senate seat in 2014.
My own personal choice for the 2012 GOP nomination did not do well in Iowa. Rick Perry spent millions on TV ads, yet got poor results. His campaign has been hampered by the poor debate showings, which caused many to abandon him for other candidates. However, he is still viable because of his financial backing. Santorum and Gingrich are both almost broke and it will be difficult for them to continue on through all 50 states. Perry has the financial strength to continue this campaign. But he needs to finish near the top in South Carolina, or I think he will be done.
Gingrich is still a viable candidate, and if he can survive to land more knockout blows in further debates, he will be OK. But this fourth place showing in Iowa did not help. Gingrich is still the most talented candidate and the biggest threat to Obama. Voters will have to overlook a mountain of baggage to make him their choice, though.
Crazy old "Uncle Ron" continues to perplex the Republican establishment by refusing to go away. Ron Paul will not be the 2012 GOP Nominee. His foreign policy opinions are considered too dangerous to national security for far too many of the 2012 primary voters. He will plod along all the way to the GOP National Convention, piling up delegates, and then he will make a nice speech before the real nominee gets to the stage. His supporters will make a big noise in Tampa, but that will be it for Ron Paul.
To be honest, I don't know a lot about this former Senator from Pennsylvania. I had written him off from the start because he had lost badly as an incumbent Senator in 2006. But I agree with him on many issues. I think Iowa tends to vote for very strong anti-abortion candidates. They did it for Mike Huckabee in 2008, and they did it again last night with Rick Santorum.
Could Santorum go all the way and become President? Maybe. I don't know. But I do know that Iowa has catapulted Santorum into the top 3 just like they did for Mike Huckabee in 2008. Huckabee stayed near the top for the rest of that election and went to the Convention in St. Paul with a lot of delegates, but just not enough of them to win. At least for the rest of this primary season, Santorum is here to stay.
Santorums speech last night was amazing. It was so good that I rewound the DVR and watched it two more times. This guy is good. Very good. Maybe not as good as the Big Mouth in the White House....but he can definitely hang out on the same playing field.
I found myself very moved, emotionally, by his speech...and I don't even know anything about this guy. But Iowans obviously do. Santorum spent months shaking hands and attending small social gatherings with only a few dozen people in attendance. He did this the hard way...and he deserves this result. Congratulations to him and his team. But having said that, it leads us to....
I have made clear my disdain for this abortion and socialized-medicine-loving liberal from Massachusetts. I do not want him to be our candidate, but some in our party do. They see him as a sanitized moderate who won't offend anyone and won't make any mis-steps on the way to the White House. He is seen as the "safe" candidate for our party to choose.
God help us if we keep thinking this way.
The problem with Romney is that he really doesn't give anyone a specific reason to vote for him. And I think that could spell 2008 all over again in 2012.
Having said that, I acknowledge that Romney has been running for President for 6 years and has been building up the connections and endorsements you need to win a nomination. I think that with this win in Iowa, combined with his big win in New Hampshire next week that he is 75% of the way there for the nomination. He would have to stumble badly to blow it at this point. And I don't see that happening.