Speaking of Romney getting under people's skin, one of the themes I'm going to be exploring while I'm out here is the extent to which the rest of the GOP field detests the guy. Not long after he dropped out of the race, Sam Brownback seemed to sing the praises of the pro-choice Rudy Giuliani as a way of sticking his finger in Romney's eye. Rudy seems to have an even harder time than usual concealing his contempt when he and Romney share a stage. That's more than you can say for John McCain, who often doesn't even bother to conceal his contempt for Romney.
Here's the ad, via Jonathan Martin. It's about immigration, predictably. Set to air tomorrow (which is actually today now): I'm actually in Western Iowa, scheduled to follow Huckabee around today. If the weather holds--and that's a big if; we're slated to get a big ice storm tonight--I'll report back on what he has to say about it. For the moment, I think Mark Halperin has it more or less right: I don't see this kind of thing is damaging Huckabee much here, because voters don't seem drawn to him over any particular policy position so much as his personality.
No presidential candidate inspires more anxiety in reporters than Barack Obama. This has nothing to do with any shortcoming on Obama's part. He is, if anything, unfailingly charming in person--quick with a subversive crack, more at ease with the press than most of his rivals.The source of the problem is, rather, one of Obama's greatest assets: his gifts as a speaker. If you're on the Edwards or Giuliani beat, to say nothing of Clinton or Romney, you'd prefer to wake up on time and show up at the right place. But it would hardly be the end of the world if you didn't.
Came, not surprisingly, during the Bernie Kerik portion of the program: Russert: Do you recall the warning you were given about Mr. Kerik? MR.
We're having some minor DVR issues around the house, and so I didn't get to see the Univision debate tonight. Mark Halperin called it a "newsless 90 minutes," and this AP write-up didn't persuade me he was wrong. If anyone caught it and noticed something memorable, go ahead and post a comment and I'll append some of your thoughts a little later. --Noam Scheiber
I'm a little confused by the attack on Paul Krugman over at the Obama campaign's "Fact Check" page, which Mike linked to yesterday. Beyond the dubious tactical benefit of attacking a columnist who has a lot of credibility with Democratic voters, and who has probably the biggest platform in print journalism, I'm not quite sure I understand the basis for the attack. The headline on the page is, "Krugman Didn't Always Think So Poorly Of Obama's Plan,'' and the rest of the piece provides evidence for that point. But so what?
The interesting thing to me about the AP's recent Mike Huckabee revelations--that, while running for Senate in 1992, he called AIDS a "plague" whose victims needed to be quarantined, and complained that the disease received too many federal research dollars--isn't that Huckabee said these things. (I don't know for sure, but it sounds like the kinds of thing that was well within the conservative evangelical mainstream in 1992.) Nor do I think these comments are likely to hurt him much in the GOP primaries.
Over at The Trail last night, Anne Kornblut had an interesting post about possible fallout from Hillary's attacks on Obama. Kornblut writes: Clinton, after months of being targeted by her chief rivals, decided to respond with a forceful challenge to Obama's character and a charge that he is much more ambitious than he has let on. Her campaign advisers said she strongly believes that she must not let attacks go unresponded to--even if it means appearing to go somewhat negative herself.
David Brooks makes a great point about the Romney speech, which he deemed probably successful but ultimately cynical: The second casualty of the faith war is theology itself. In rallying the armies of faith against their supposed enemies, Romney waved away any theological distinctions among them with the brush of his hand. In this calculus, the faithful become a tribe, marked by ethnic pride, a shared sense of victimization and all the other markers of identity politics. In Romney’s account, faith ends up as wishy-washy as the most New Age-y secularism.
A couple of thoughts: First, I didn't hear Romney use the word "Mormon" (or a variant of the word) a single time during the speech. (For what it's worth, I just heard a CNN commentator say he used the word once.) But if you were watching on CNN, you saw this weird red graphic appear on the left-hand third of your screen a few minutes into the speech, with the word "Mormon" in big block letters and various disconcerting facts scrolling across the bottom of it.