Romney: slow and steady
Running for the President of the United States is not a sprint; it's a marathon. General Dwight Eisenhower said: "Plans are worthless but planning is indispensable." Mitt Romney has meticulously planned his path to the White House. While his newest challenger Rick Santorum has been methodical, patient and hardworking, his campaign is still being run by the seat of his pants. While Santorum's sprint in Iowa is remarkable, it is highly questionable whether he - or any other conservative - has the organization and resources and has done the planning necessary for the marathon ahead. Romney has been running for president for six years and has planned all the way to the end. He has taken into account all the possible consequences, obstacles and twists of fortune that could reverse his hard work and give glory to others. By planning to the end, Romney will not be overwhelmed by circumstances and will know when he can stop. While it is possible for Santorum or Newt Gingrich to compete in New Hampshire and South Carolina with Ron Paul, the road ahead becomes problematic for them. One cannot understate the importance of money in this process. Romney has husbanded his money wisely and he can finance a long slog for the nomination. In 2008, he put an amazing $55 million into his own campaign. Paul's money will also continue to flow as it is "true believer" money. It is highly questionable whether any other campaign has the ability to compete simultaneously in multiple states after Florida. Just achieving ballot access and filing delegate candidates in all 50 states is a difficult and time consuming task, as Newt Gingrich proved when he failed to get on the ballot in Virginia and Missouri. The Romney machine will file delegate slates and storm state conventions and small state caucuses in all 50 states. Neither Santorum nor Gingrich have the muscle, support and organizational skill to file in New York, for example. While it is true that Romney only enjoys a plurality of support in the Republican Party, conservatives have proved incapable of coalescing behind one candidate as they did around Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Reagan was such a towering figure that he was able to unite conservatives. Traditional conservatives, Libertarians, supply-siders, social conservatives, and deficit hawks could all project their beliefs onto Reagan. Bush 43 convinced conservatives he'd be more like the 40th President than the 41st. Romney will continue to benefit from fractured opposition with Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Perry dividing up the dominant "not-Romney" pool of GOP. The conservative wing of the party is further riven by petty jealousies and policy disagreements in which no one wishes to sublimate their wishes and desires in order to block Romney. Herman Cain's arrogance when he was in the race and since is a perfect example, as is his non-endorsement of a candidate. Romney has benefited mightily from this split opposition. Rick Santorum needed to use Iowa to slingshot into a first place finish in New Hampshire to become a serious contender. He could survive a second place finish but most reliable polls show Ron Paul second and gaining slightly. Paul has parlayed his anti-war and anti-spending libertarian message in a state who's motto is "live free or die." Paul's money is "cause " money and his fund-raising isn't affected by viability. Paul will be a factor in New Hampshire, South Carolina - unable to win but taking votes someone else would need to beat Romney. It is important to note that Kentucky Senator Rand Paul said he would support the GOP nominee if it were not his father. This is the strongest indicator yet that Paul will not seek the Libertarian Party nomination. Libertarian Party leaders in Nebraska, Indiana, Rhode Island, and Florida have endorsed former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson who will be on all 50 state ballots and could be Mitt Romney's worst nightmare. Speaker Gingrich's opportunity in 2012 was based on the requirement that he demonstrate a new maturity and seasoning to prove that he is the statesman of today rather than the firebrand of yesterday. Gingrich the Historian studied the come-back of Richard Nixon who introduced voters to a "New Nixon" eight years after he lost the White House to JFK and only four years after losing the Governorship of California. Nixon toned down his partisanship, poked fun at himself, acted more relaxed and calmer. Gingrich also raised no friendly Super-PAC because of the potential FEC stink. Romney had no such qualms. With a wink and a nod, Mitt's fellow corporate raiders filled the coffer for just such an attack vehicle for the Mormon contender. They pulverized the unarmed Gingrich. On Caucus night, Newt's petulant whining and gracelessness in the wake of his defeat in Iowa has merely reminded voters of the old Newt. He snarled like Bob Dole when he was Nixon's hatchet man. If Gingrich is the Reagan candidate, where is Reagan's sunny optimism and good natured disposition? Voters like a happy warrior: controlled anger - yes, meltdown - no. Nonetheless, a solid performance in the ABC debate keeps Gingrich in a dead heat for third in the Granite State. Romney seems poised to continue to benefit from split conservative opposition in New Hampshire. Conservatives in the Granite State show no signs of coalescing behind Santorum and Ron Paul and Speaker Gingrich will both win votes Santorum sorely needs to prevail there. CAVEAT: While Jon Huntsman cannot win the New Hampshire primary, his candidacy, fueled by super-PAC dollars from his wealthy father, will draw moderate Republican votes that would normally go to Romney. Santorum Knifes a Good Friend Santorum's performance in Iowa was marred by his repudiation of his endorsement of fellow Senator Arlen Specter in the 2004 Pennsylvania Republican Primary. That is the one thing I admired him for: having the guts to stand tall for Specter. The Keystone right-wingers and right-to-lifers were furious with Santorum. Does Santorum also repudiate the strong endorsement Specter gave him in his 1994 campaign for the US Senate when Santorum faced incumbent US Senator Harris Wofford, a man Specter had to work with every day? Does Santorum repudiate Specter's signing of a letter to Jewish voters urging them to vote for Rick? Does Santorum repudiate Specter's barnstorming through every media market with him on the day before the 1994 election? Does Santorum repudiate Specter's standing outside factory gates with Rick shaking hands with union members and urging them to vote for Santorum? While it is fashionable to bash Arlen Specter in conservative circles, it is important to remember that without Specter's leadership on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, and Sam Alito would never have been confirmed and there would be no conservative majority today on the Supreme Court. Specter turned the tide for Clarence Thomas and his leadership as Chairman of the Judiciary panel got Roberts and Alito confirmed. Sure, he sank Bork - that means 3 for 4. But Specter campaigned for Rick Santorum's first race like it was his own campaign. In 1994, former President Richard Nixon explored the possibility of his daughter, Pennsylvania resident Julie Nixon Eisenhower, running for the Senate. Nixon asked me to speak to Specter. Specter told me I was too late, that he had committed to Congressman Rick Santorum and was planning to go all out for him. Nixon's hopes for his daughter (who never seemed to know of her father's machinations) were dashed, but not before he had me talk to powerful GOP bosses in Bucks and Montgomery County and in Allegheny county in the West. Specter, who ran for the offices of District Attorey, Mayor, Governor, and the US Senate, is the most effective and hard-charging candidate I have ever worked for in my career. He helped push Santorum across the finish line for Senate. In Iowa, Santorum proved he could pander with the best of them. Romney will also continue to benefit from split opposition in South Carolina, where the surprise decision by Rick Perry to stay in the race will further split the anti-Romney block. Whatever Perry gets in South Carolina - even 5% - is a vote others need to catch Romney. Perry's decision to fight says something good about him: it takes guts and tenacity to stay and in a race so seemingly hopeless; it shows grit and spirit. Rick Perry is a fighter and leaving this race before South Carolina would be like running out the back door of the Alamo. "If you want to see how a man would govern, see how he campaigns" said Winston Churchill. He was talking about you, Rick Santorum.

Huntsman: bombs in NH
After vowing to break through in New Hampshire, Jon Huntsman is beginning say a strong finish isn't that important and the real race is for 2016. Huntsman is a fight for a distant third at best. His major domo John Weaver's strategy to storm the GOP Primary with cross-voting Democrats and Independents, reliving the McCain victory of 2000, has failed. Weaver leaked a ridiculous memo to Politico that laid out a long-haul strategy for Huntsman to take the nomination from Romney. It was a total McGuffin, a canard. A classic CYA move for a failed campaign. Huntsman's anti-war stance seems to be pulling in Democrats. Tucker Carlson of the Daily Caller said every voter he met at a Huntsman event in Bedford NH was a Democrat. The NBC Sunday morning debate only reinforced Huntsman's ass kissing of the Chinese as Obama's butt boy in China - further pushing conservatives away while Weaver tries to recast pro-life, tax-cutter Huntsman as a "moderate" so his liberal pals in the media will gush. Huntsman's campaign is carrying a debt of $2 million and Jon Huntsman's daddy has pumped big bucks into a Super-Pac which of course has no connection to John Weaver because it would be illegal. Trace that media placement commission money! Huntsman is 30 points behind Romney after huge effort and money in New Hampshire. Huntsman's father billionaire John Huntsman, Sr. is a savvy pol and former Special Assistant to President Richard Nixon as well as a former Deputy Secretary of Commerce and long-time Utah Republican National Committeeman. How much more does he want to piss away? His son is going nowhere. All of this drives Romney batty. He is furious at Huntsman in a rivalry that may go back to 1968 when Huntsman, Sr. backing Nixon over his father, Michigan Governor George Romney. The few moderate Republicans Huntsman does get would otherwise go to Romney who they see a moderate who doesn't really believe all that right-wing stuff he has to say to get nominated. This will pull Mitt down a few points in New Hampshire. Santorum's surge was short; he may run behind Newt and Huntsman to take fifth. Ron Paul remains an obstacle at second. Santorum, Gingrich and Huntsman will duke it out for third, fourth and fifth in New Hampshire. Only an idiot would speculate about South Carolina before the result in New Hampshire is known. It is Florida, however, that will separate the men from the boys. Florida is a mega-state where media costs millions and only Romney has the resources and infrastructure to win. There is also every possibility that Gingrich, Santorum and Paul run spirited but underfunded campaigns in the Sunshine state. The contest then moves quickly to Little Tuesday and Super Tuesday, where only Romney has the structure and advance planning - and money - to compete in multiple states at the same time. Santorum may not know it yet but the best he can achieve from the short weeks ahead is a Vice Presidential nomination. By running stronger than expected, he can become the obvious candidate to bind-up the Party's divisions. Ronald Reagan was compelled to take George H.W. Bush as his running mate not because he liked him (he didn't) but because Bush had demonstrated tenacity on the campaign trail and was the last Reagan challenger left standing. Party conservatives will always distrust Romney, who will need a running mate from the Party's right wing. If Santorum handles himself badly in the weeks ahead, Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell would be a "safe" yet conservative choice for Romney and a candidate certain not to upstage the presidential candidate.