Ron Paul

GOP Plays Fascist Card

A new way to track the GOP crackup is to count the number of major Republican White House contenders who say that if you don't elect them America will become a fascist country. Amazingly, both Rick Santorum and Ron Paul did it this weekend. As Alec MacGillis notes, on Feb. 19 Santorum told a crowd of 3,000 at a Georgia megachurch, Your country needs you. It’s not as clear a challenge. Obviously, World War II was pretty obvious. At some point, they knew.

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For all those waiting for the Republican primary to end, you’ll have to wait a bit longer: On Saturday Rick Santorum became the 11th Republican politician to lead a national presidential nomination poll during the 2012 cycle. And not just by a little—the Public Policy Polling survey showed Santorum with a 15-point (38-23) lead over Mitt Romney.

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“If forty economists tell you it’s Thursday,” Jim Grant, the fiat money doomsdayer, warned, “you’d better check the calendar.” As I proceeded to do just that (Thursday, yep), the audience of conservatives at the CPAC panel “The Need For a 21st Center Gold Standard” continued nodding along.

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When Barack Obama declared in 2004 that there was no Red America or Blue America, it was states like Virginia that he probably had in mind. In recent years, Virginia has been fertile ground for candidates of both parties: The state’s current governor is Republican, but its previous one was a Democrat; in 2008 the state voted for Barack Obama, but four years earlier it went for George W. Bush.

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After last night’s bitter defeat, Newt Gingrich is vowing to stay in the presidential race for a long, long time (“six to eight months” he said in Florida yesterday). Of course, that’s what candidates usually say just before and immediately after bitter defeats (see Jon Huntsman’s “Ticket to Ride” sound bite after finishing a poor third in New Hampshire), even if they have every intention of cutting a deal with a better-positioned candidate and getting off the campaign trail.

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After Newt Gingrich’s smashing victory in South Carolina yesterday, here’s my wagering advice: You can still put your money on Mitt, but don’t bet the farm. Not this year. The results for Mitt Romney weren’t pretty.

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CHARLESTON, S.C.—Thursday night’s four-top GOP debate made it official: The South Carolina primary has become a referendum on Newt Gingrich. Just 10 days after he was left in a dustbin labeled “Yesterday’s Man” after dismal finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, Gingrich has confounded the experts yet again. The oft-derided and consistently under-estimated House speaker has now bested Jesus in his sheer number of resurrections—an association that can only help as the South Carolina primary vote looms.

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GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Rick Santorum's South Carolina campaign director, Kerry Wood, is hard at work presiding over a get out the vote operation in a vacant brick Cape Cod on a strip on the edge of town here, where 10 volunteers are manning the phones and a few others are sticking wires into lawn signs. He said he wouldn't have time to watch Newt Gingrich's second wife, Marianne, expound on her former husband's desire for an "open marriage" in an ABC interview Thursday night.

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The political fumbling by Christian conservatives has been even worse this presidential cycle than it was in 2008, when their blood-enemy, John McCain, won the top spot on the Republican ticket. The Christian Right’s fatal failure this time was its inability to form a consensus behind a single candidate. Last weekend’s Texas conclave of religious conservatives, engineered by Family Research Center president and Christian Right warhorse Tony Perkins, initially appeared to have generated a united front behind Rick Santorum.

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What do Republican voters think of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell? What about income inequality? There are certainly more scientific ways to take the temperature of a political party, but we have found the audience reactions at recent GOP debates somewhat instructive. The following clips, all taken from the past few months of debates, show the statements that caused audiences to cheer or boo. So what gets the Republican Party riled up these days? Likes include: waterboarding, executions, and Andrew Jackson’s belligerence.

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