Ron Paul

Etch-A-Sketch Watch

With Rick Santorum now out of the race, and Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul no longer posing much of a threat to Mitt Romney, Romney's general-election campaign now begins. I don't think Romney will move very far to the center, because a.) He knows people already think his spine is made of rubber; and b.) He's fearful of inspiring a noisy revolt from the Republican base. For the same two reasons, I don't think Romney would move very far to the center as president, either. George W. Bush governed Texas as a moderate, campaigned in 2000 as a conservative, and then governed as a conservative.

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When Jackie Kennedy led a television crew through the White House in February 1962, millions of Americans were riveted to the screen. This Wednesday, when Michelle Obama appears on The Colbert Report, it will be a much less exciting, and more commonplace event. It’s starting to seem like the First Lady has been everywhere on our televisions lately, celebrating her “Joining Forces” initiative to help military families or promoting her “Let’s Move!” campaign to combat childhood obesity.

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Much of the thrill of watching Mad Men is the unabashed way it displays the retrograde views of its leading characters. The same is true, of course, of the ongoing Republican presidential primary. In fact, while it’s hard for us to picture the GOP candidates joining the hedonistic adventures of 1960s Madison Avenue (one pictures Mitt Romney gleefully pouring himself a second glass of chocolate milk), we did think some aspects of their personalities (and their political platforms) would fit right in.

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Ron Paul, beware. The Federal Reserve just inaugurated a Twitter feed. This will be much more cost-effective than transmitting radio signals into your fillings.

Last week Nate Silver wondered how much better Rick Santorum would be doing in the GOP primaries if Newt Gingrich had been on the sidelines the whole time. Using data from the polling firm PPP, Silver assumed Santorum would have received about 57 percent of Gingrich’s votes, Mitt Romney 27 percent, and Ron Paul 16. The punchline:  It would undoubtedly still help Mr. Santorum if Mr. Gingrich dropped out--especially if Mr. Gingrich endorsed Mr. Santorum and asked his delegates to vote for him.

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The conventional wisdom as polls opened in Alabama and Mississippi was that Santorum would likely be the big loser by failing to beat Romney or snuff Gingrich. That scenario made sense: Santorum was not only flagging in the polls, but had a decided financial disadvantage in these two states. (His super PAC trailed Team Romney in media buys by a seven-to-one ratio in Alabama and a five-to-one margin in Mississippi; it also had fewer ads than Gingrich ‘s super PAC). But now Gingrich is toast, whether he immediately accepts it or not, and Romney has failed to seal the deal.

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Ohio Delegates at stake: 66 The Buckeye State is considered by many to be Super Tuesday’s most important prize. Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Polling Institute, said that Ohio matters so much “because it is so representative of the rest of the country.” A Feb. 27 Quinnipiac poll had Santorum up over Romney 36-29 in the state, but the former Pennsylvania senator failed to qualify for the ballot in three of Ohio’s 16 Congressional districts, which will automatically deny him the nine delegates to be won from those districts.

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Mitt Romney—and, for the moment at least, the Republican Party—dodged a bullet tonight as he narrowly won his native state. Of course, it shouldn’t be an afterthought that he also won Arizona by a landslide, capturing all the 29 delegates it’s rewarding this year. The last few days, though, were filled with growing talk in Republican insider-dom that a Romney loss in Michigan would provoke a serious search for a late-entry candidate.

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There was, last week, a brief but thrilling moment in the GOP presidential contest: It seemed like, for the first time, a candidate would be attacked for being, not too liberal, but too far right. Back in the day, that wouldn’t have been too unusual, as when George H.W.

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The 84th Academy Awards are on Sunday, and this year’s nominees are a large group of crowd pleasers who spend a lot of time—sometimes too much—addressing war, infidelity, the sanctity of life, and nostalgia for the 20th century. Sound familiar? It should: That also sums up the GOP’s 2012 presidential field.

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