Those of you who’ve been looking forward to Ohio Gov. John Kasich becoming a GOP 2016 candidate need to put your hopes elsewhere. This is a guy with a serious political death wish. Or as Mitt might say, a “severe” political death wish.
Kasich has hired Fred Davis. Yes, the same Fred Davis who worked for Jon Huntsman in 2012. The same Fred Davis who produced the “Demon Sheep” ad for Carly Fiorina and the “I Am Not a Witch” ad for Christine O’Donnell. We’re talking the two worst ads in the history of politics, which I guess is an achievement of some sort.
Kasich has hired John Weaver, who also worked for Huntsman, and who was unceremoniously fired by John McCain back in July 2007, when McCain’s campaign was looking very, very dead. Weaver let Huntsman prattle on in Chinese during a primary debate, because, you know, there’s nothing the GOP base loves more than a guy who’s fluent in Chinese.
As a late entrant, Kasich needs to make a splash, which I expect he will. That splash you hear before a heavy object sinks straight to the bottom.
Peggy Noonan says this of Jon Huntsman,* but I think it’s true and telling about Mitt:
“Voters don’t take to you when they know you don’t take to them.” That’s it, that’s his problem, and it saves a lot of money on consultants and focus groups.
Come November, it will be the epitaph of his campaign.
Speaking of Mitt, Noonan has this to say:
“We learned Mitt Romney is not a greatly improved candidate from four years ago. He has endurance and discipline: He wants this thing. The reason why is still not fully clear. His political instincts and sense of subject matter are not much better than they were in 2008. The awkwardness continues.” Emphasis added.
When Jon Huntsman withdrew as a presidential contender, there wasn’t much speculation that Mitt would pick him for Veep. Why? Aside from the personal animosity between them (they both wanted to run the Salt Lake City Olympics), it was accepted that we wouldn’t have a GOP ticket with two Mormons.
Now this morning comes the revelation that Marco Rubio, the Florida senator at the top of everyone’s Veep short list, was a Mormon for a time as a young man, when his family lived in Nevada and converted. He has since gone back to being a Roman Catholic, the faith he was born into, although he often attends a Baptist church. He seems to be trying to play both ends in the middle between Catholics and Evangelicals.
But I think his time as a Mormon would make Mitt pause before choosing him.
The group of influential evangelical leaders meeting in Texas this weekend to stop Mitt has decided to throw their collective support behind Rick “Frothy” Santorum. They also considered Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. Neither Jon Huntsman nor Ron Paul was in the mix.
At the moment, Gingrich is running close to Mitt Romney in South Carolina polls, with Santorum farther back. My sense is that had they supported Newt, that might have closed the gap between him and Mitt. Their choice of Santorum may move him up some, but I doubt enough to beat Mitt.
So what the evangelical leaders may well have done is help Mitt win South Carolina and the nomination.
Jon Huntsman told his supporters in New Hampshire that he had a “ticket to ride,” but if he looks carefully, he’ll see that it goes to Utah, not South Carolina.
He started out with a three-state strategy of New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida. He reduced that strategy to just New Hampshire and spent all his time and money there, doing the tough, traditional slog of retail politics. He came in third, behind the other Mormon with nice hair and the whack job, and he’s done.
He’s polling in low single digits in both South Carolina and Florida, he has no organization there. South Carolina is in 11 days, Florida in 21.
Huntsman would need his father to kick in the kind of money another billionaire, Sheldon Adelson, is kicking in for Newt. But Jon Huntsman Sr. didn’t get as rich as he did by making bad investments.
Huntsman says he’s “in the hunt,” but if he is, he’s the poor thing running for his life away from the horses and the hounds.
I posted yesterday (“Mitt Guy Makes Anti-Mitt Movie for Newtie”) that Newt’s Super PAC had acquired a devastating movie about Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital, making millions for himself and his investors while driving companies to bankruptcy and putting people out of work.
Now billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a long-time friend of Newt’s, has given $5 million to the Super PAC to run ads in South Carolina using excerpts from the movie. The entire half-hour movie, “King of Bain: When Mitt Romney Came to Town,” will be up online at Winning Our Future.
The NYT* is reporting that both the Perry and Huntsman campaigns passed on the movie. They may have thought it was a little too Occupyish, too much of an assault on free enterprise for a GOP candidate. Of course, Newtie doesn’t know the meaning of the words “too much.”
*”PAC Ads to Attack Romney as Predatory Capitalist,” by Trip Gabriel and Nicholas Confessore