Is It Rob Portman?

Talking Points Memo had an interesting post yesterday suggesting that one way to handicap Mitt’s veepstakes is to monitor how often a potential choice’s Wikipedia page is edited as we get down to the wire.  Apparently, Sarah Palin’s page had lots of editing the day before she was announced.

Well — I just checked Rob Portman, and he’s had about 100 edits so far today!

Compare that to 22 for Marco! Rubio!, 7 for Paul Ryan, and 5 for Tim Pawlenty.

I need to go check some sheep entrails.

If I’m right about Portman, and the ticket is “Dull and Duller,” you heard it here first.  If’ I’m wrong, then we know not to try the Wikipedia thing in 2016.

Tim Pawlenty Was Mitt Romney’s Canary in the Coal Mine

Mitt Romney should have seen Tim Pawlenty as a kind of canary in the coal mine.  Pawlenty, a decent enough, smart enough guy with a good record as governor of Minnesota worked Iowa long and hard and flamed out early, right after Michele Bachmann won the straw poll.

It was said that Pawlenty lacked passion, he wasn’t able to get voters excited.  But I think what he really lacked was that he wasn’t angry enough.

The Republican base is angry, and they want someone to share that anger and show it on the campaign trail.  I believe that’s one reason that Mitt hasn’t caught on and why Newt Gingrich, despite all the negatives in his past, both personal and professional, that should be alienating Republicans, has taken off as the last viable not-Romney standing.

Part of the hope when Rick Perry entered the race was that he would burn hotter than Pawlenty, show some anger and outrage.  But Perry has had trouble getting his sentences out at all, let alone adding strong emotion to them.

I’m sure Mitt was relieved when Pawlenty dropped out, since they had a lot in common as kind of milquetoasty governors.  Mitt saw him as direct competition more than he saw someone like Bachmann, the other Minnesota twin.  But Mitt should have seen Pawlenty’s failure as a cautionary tale and taken that warning more seriously.

If losing out to someone like Gingrich isn’t enough to get Mitt angry, I don’t know what it will take.  Tick-tock, Mittens.

Will Romney Pay to Keep Bachmann, Santorum, and Paul Afloat?

Typically when you’re running for president, your aim is to get your opponents to drop out as soon as possible.  But in Mitt “I’m Also Unemployed” Romney’s case, he needs Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul to stick around to help him against Rick Perry.  They do this both by their Greek Chorus attacks on Perry and by draining far-right votes away from him in early contests.

We know that Mitt agreed to help Tim Pawlenty retire his campaign debt in exchange for an endorsement.  Given the loosey-goosey state of soft money allowed under Citizens United, Mitt can direct money to help Bachmann, Santorum, and Paul.  He can promise them jobs in his Administration, not to drop out, as you’d normally expect by promising someone State or Defense, but to stay in until he sticks a fork in Perry.

Mitt may have to support not only his campaign, but also selective opponents’.  This is his last shot at the nomination, and, if “it takes a village” to get him there, he won’t hesitate.


Republican Debate

What I’ll be looking for at the Republican debate at the Reagan Library:

Is Rick Perry’s nose growing?  He hasn’t hesitated to tell whoppers before.  When debating Kay Bailey Hutchison, he accused her of supporting sanctuary cities for illegal aliens, which wasn’t true, but his mere assertion of it hurt her.

Does Michele Bachmann attack Perry?  Reports from her camp say that she will focus on President Obama.   But given the attack ad her Super PAC has been running in South Carolina, she may be forced to own the ad or risk look weak by backing off, as Tim Pawlenty did when he refused to repeat his attacks on Romneycare in the New Hampshire debate.  I can’t imagine that the questioners will not try to goad her into attacking Perry if she doesn’t want to go there herself.

If Bachmann attacks Perry, does Mitt Romney just watch or does he jump in?  When Bachmann and Pawlenty went at it in the last debate, they were fighting over issues from Minnesota, so it was okay for Romney to stay out of it.  But now he risks looking as if he’s hiding behind a girl if Bachmann is aggressive and he isn’t.  Romney doesn’t project boldness or toughness under the best of circumstances.  Both Bachmann and Perry can show him up for the overly-cautious wimp he is.

Is Perry doing okay with no breathtaking gaffes?  That’s all he has to do really to keep his early momentum going.  He doesn’t have to be dazzling, he just can’t be dumb.

Are Bachmann and Romney impressive?  They have to shine to hurt Perry and help themselves gain back some of the support they’ve already lost to him.

Mitt’s Lost His Swagger

Rick Perry may be the Texan in the race, but it’s Mitt who’s swaggered around, acting as if the nomination is his, focusing on President Obama and ignoring his primary rivals.  That chapter ended yesterday with Perry’s entry.  Bachmann is not a direct threat to Mitt, but she hurts him in the way she sets the contours of the race.  As long as Bachmann is there on his right, Perry looks more reasonable and electable as a compromise between Romney the establishment guy and Bachmann the grass-roots girl.  Being left, right, or center is never just about you, but is always relative to who else is around you.  Perry takes the spot Pawlenty hoped to have, to Bachmann’s left and Mitt’s right.

Jon Huntsman was helping Mitt by appearing as an establishment candidate to Mitt’s left, but Huntsman hasn’t taken off and won’t.  There are only three serious candidates now (sorry, Paul people).  Mitt finds himself the left-most one, never the “right” place to be in the Republican party, especially with the Tea Party’s power and Mitt’s pathetic retail-campaigning skills.

Mitt cannot swagger his way to the nomination or the White House.  Can Perry?  It remains to be seen, but this race just became one worthy of getting the popcorn out for.

Looks Like T-Paw’s Quitting

Mike Huckabee said on his live show from Ames tonight that T-Paw had abruptly cancelled his scheduled appearance.  If he was staying in, I can’t  imagine T-Paw wouldn’t have wanted the exposure of Huck’s top-rated show and friendly forum.  He could have spun the old “three tickets out of Iowa” story.  His dropping out of the show tells me T-Paw’s dropping out of the race.