Rasmussen: Thompson Winning, Romney Up in NH

I see that Rasmussen is out with a new poll, showing Fred Thompson maintaining his 3 point lead over Rudy nationally, while Mitt Romney continues to be strong in New Hampshire, up 9 points.

It’s interesting that we’re beginning to see a divergence in some of the polls, the recent CNN and FoxNews polls, for instance, had Rudy up by double digits, while the Cook/RT Strategies poll had him tied with McCain. I’ll leave it to others to fight over which poll has the better methodology. Right now, by general belief is that the race is unsettled, and will be until Thompson formally enters and we find out whether he’s the real deal, or just a lot of hype.

When Rudy Had Hair

A friend of mine stumbled across three interviews Rudy Giuliani gave for the old PBS show “The Open Mind,” hosted by Richard D. Heffner. Two of the interviews were conducted in 1984 (Part 1, Part II), when he was a U.S. Attorney, and the other took place in 1995, when he was in his second year as mayor. All three of them are illuminating and worth watching if you’re interested in Rudy-or if you just want to see what he looks like with hair.

In the 1984 interviews, Giuliani offers his philosophy of criminal justice in the context of the passage of a major crime bill that year. On the hot button issues of the day, he says he supports capital punishment, but also waiting periods and background checks for purchasing guns. Much of the discussion centers around his belief that the justice system had drifted too far in the direction of protecting the accused and convicted, to the detriment of victims of crime. “I think we’ve moved away from the model of America that most of us grew up with 20, 30, years ago, which is one where we emphasize individual responsibility,” he said in the first interview. He later adds: “I consider myself a very firm believer in due process, and a libertarian in that sense, but I think we became almost stupid in our excessiveness in the way in which we were protecting, overprotecting the rights of people, to the disadvantage of other people.”

The 1995 interview goes a long way in making the case that while he certainly took several liberal positions as mayor, philosophically, he had a lot in common with conservatives.

Months after the Republican Congress had swept into power, he argued that he would support the federal government cutting spending as long as they gave more freedom to state and local governments over how to spend it. The problem wasn’t that government wasn’t spending enough, but that they were spending it inefficiently. Invoking the 10th Amendment, he made a case for federalism. And argued that he believed it was possible to achieve more localized control:

“It fits into this whole notion of trying to realign the relationship between the federal government, state government, and local governments and to return more power to the government that’s closest to people so that they can make their own decisions about it. How to deal with the problem of welfare is very different in New York than it may be in Texas. Or in California. Or in Florida. We have different sets of problems that affect us. We have to have more discretion in being able to work with it within our local context.”

Given that Giuliani was defending many cuts in government spending, as well as a shrinking of federal power, Heffner asked him in what areas he though the federal government should increase spending. Giuliani’s answer would surprise those who only associate Giuliani’s immigration stance as mayor with maintaining a sanctuary city:

“The federal government has not dealt properly with the problem of illegal immigration. State and local governments cannot deal with the problem of illegal immigration. They can’t control the border, they can’t conduct foreign policy. So this is a problem that is beyond the control of the state and local government. The federal government has to increase its role there. It has to increase its ability to do border patrol. It has to increase the emphasis through foreign policy. It has to increase its emphasis on deportation and put more resources into that. That’s an area that has to increase, and if that were done sensibly, and done in the right way…that would be just as useful as giving a grant to a state or a city. If the federal government did two or three times more deportations in New York City, that would relieve New York City of an enormous burden that we pay in police services, in incarceration–3,000, maybe 4,000 prisoners we have in city jails are technically illegal or undocumented aliens.”

All videos are worth viewing if you have the time.

More McCain

The McCain campaign has released a full transcript of the conference call.

Here  are the opening remarks of  his campaign manager, which set the tone of the call:

 TERRY NELSON: â€_As a campaign, we've worked through a number of challenges over the course of the last six months, and in some respects, we are encountering the kinds of challenges that other Republicans are facing. We face a difficult fundraising environment right now, and certainly difficult in comparison to what our Democratic counterparts are able to raise, and I think that will go for the entire field of candidates when our numbers are compared to their numbers. In addition, John McCain has offered change throughout his entire career. He has taken principled stands that have made him a courageous leader and a courageous presidential candidate. And these things will make him a remarkably effective president, but it sometimes makes fundraising more challenging. He stood up for the American taxpayer and fought against corruption, the influence of special-interest money, and its corrupting influence. He's also fought a lonely fight against earmarks and wasteful spending in Washington, D.C., and that doesn't always make us the favorite candidate of the special interests. The campaign has also witnessed as the American people have his resolve first-hand over the last month-and-a-half as he stuck with his principles, did not pander, and worked to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

While this decision was the right decision for our country it also affected the campaign's ability to raise money. Before the campaign began, we also made some incorrect assumptions about how much money we could raise. At one point, we believed that we would raise over $100 million during this calendar year, and we constructed a campaign that was based on that assumption. We believe today that that assumption is not correct. More recently, the campaign has made a number of finance a number of changes to our finance division. Mary Kate Johnson came in as our finance director, and she, working with our volunteer leadership around the country under the direction of Tom Loeffler, our national finance chairman, did a remarkable job. And the result of their efforts was that we raised $11.2 million for this quarter. To date, we've raised over $24 million, we have over 72,000 contributors, and currently have $2 mil lion cash on hand. Our donor community worked very hard, and, as I said earlier, we appreciate their efforts.

A couple of other points to make, and then I'll turn it over to John. First, I'd like to say that the campaign is seriously considering accepting public-matching funds. John McCain has long been a defender of the public trust, as I noted, because this is not a campaign designed to meet artificial benchmarks or the expectations of Washington, D.C. the Washington, D.C. pundit community. This campaign is about a man who spent his entire life in service to this country, and a man who is ready to lead this country from day one. Second, we've made a decision to restructure the campaign to help ensure that we have the resources necessary to win the Republican nomination. The campaign was restructured today, and we did that in order to make sure that we had the necessary resources to get John McCain's message out through voter contact, television, radio, direct mail. We confronted reality, and we dealt with it in th e best way that we could, so that we can move forward with this campaign, focused on winning our primaries in the early states first Iowa, then New Hampshire, then South Carolina, going on from there. We feel good about the decisions we made today. The decisions we made today were not easy. They were tough decisions. But these decisions will make John McCain the nominee of the Republican Partyâ€_

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McCain Raises $11.2 Million

Not the worst case scenario, but not good.

Campaign Manager Terry Nelson said the campaign is now considering accepting federal matching funds.

Cites a “difficult fundraising environment” for Republicans as well as McCain taking “principled stands” on such issues as immigration and campaign finance reform.

UPDATE: The conference call that just concluded represented a campaign coming to terms with the dire position they find themselves in. It is quite a turn of events. Held up for years by the media as the inevitable nominee (something that was always bogus), McCain is now forced to run like the insurgent candidate he was in 2000.

Nelson said that they originally projected they’d raise more than $100 million during this calendar year, and “constructed a campaign based on that assumption.” Now, they’re scaling back their operation, shedding staff, reducing payroll, and even Nelson is working for free for the next few months. It’s very hard to start a campaign as the “frontrunner,” scale back so drastically, and expect to win the nomination. As Dave Weigel points out, just about a month ago, Nelson was predicting McCain would raise over $12.5 million.

McCain’s new strategy will focus on the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. There are several problems with this strategy. With many big states moving up their primaries, the early states may not have the influence they once did. Even if you were to argue that the early states will still prove crucial, McCain’s strategy still faces a huge obstacle. Mitt Romney has been pouring money into those states for months, and his early organizing in Iowa has already forced McCain out of Ames Straw Poll. True, Giuliani was forced out too, but the Giuliani campaign has not made winning in Iowa central to its strategy of winning the nomination.

W, Chamberlain, and Winnie

Lynn Olson’s article in yesterday’s Washington Post is no doubt a clever attempt at marketing her new book, but its premise is rather silly. It would seem that one would set an easy task for themselves by arguing that President Bush is no Winston Churchill, but Olson takes it a step further by calling Bush another Neville Chamberlain. My first thought was, I can see how he could be compared to Chamberlain, given his dimplomatic daudling in Iran and capitulation to North Korea. But Olson uses an entirely different set of arguments. Among them is her contention that Bush is like Chamberlain because of his use of unilateralism.

She writes:

In the months leading up to World War II, Chamberlain and his men saw little need to build up a strong coalition of European allies with which to confront Nazi Germany — ignoring appeals from Churchill and others to fashion a “Grand Alliance” of nations to thwart the threat that Hitler posed to the continent.

Churchill, of course, was arguing for a “Grand Alliance” to confront Germany militarily, while opponents of the Iraq War were arguing for a grand alliance to confront Saddam diplomatically so America could avert military action. No matter what your position on the war, this distinction is pretty obvious.

Steven Hayward has a good takedown of another one of Olson’s absurd claims.

GOP Fundraising

McCain is holding a conference call at 2 to announce his second quarter numbers. I will be listening in and shall immediately post the details. I have calls into the Rudy and Romney camps, but they still have not announced when they plan to announce.

In the meantime, you can read this AP story on the downsizing of the McCain campaign.

RomneyCare at Work

Yesterday, the NY Times wrote about the Massachusetts health care program, as the individual madate takes effect. It is hard to imagine anything representing a greater affront to conservative principles than using government to coerce private citizens into purchasing healthcare. It is shocking that Mitt Romney could institute such a mandate and just months later run for president claiming to be a “conservative” in the tradition of Ronald Reagan, and be taken seriously. It is especially surprising given that one of the main gripes conservatives have had with President Bush has been the Medicare prescription drug plan–RomneyCare is far worse.

Even if you are more sympathetic to Romney than I am, I challenge you to read this and ask yourself whether you believe it is consistent with limited government principles:

In 2008, the penalty for those not insured will be a loss of state tax exemption, worth about $219; later the penalty will be up to half of a monthly insurance premium for each month a person is uninsured. Also, while any insurance is acceptable at first, by January 2009, everyone must have drug coverage.

There is one bright spot in the plan–residents who don’t like it can move:

Linda Impemba, 58, a marketing company employee in Wakefield, said she would remain uninsured, pay penalties, and, as soon as her ailing mother dies, will leave Massachusetts. “There’s no way in heaven I can possibly survive in this state,” Ms. Impemba said. “Now not only is my cost going to go up, everything’s going to be raised so I can pay for the other people” to be insured.

We won’t be so fortunate if such a plan gets created at the federal level. And as we have seen under President Bush, it is a lot easier for a big government Republican to to pursue expansionist domestic policies than it is for a Democrat. Practically speaking, a President Romney could put us on the pathway to socialized medicine faster than President Hillary. While Romney may be trying to distance himself from the plan as he tries to sell himself to conservatives, given his record of doing whatever is most politically expedient, there’s no reason for conservatives to believe that he would rule out a similar nationwide plan as president. And yes, this is why a record of brazen flip-flopping matters.

Obama’s Take

Marc Ambinder estimates that Obama’s $31 million second-quarter haul for primary funds alone is $11 million higher than what Hillary Clinton will report–a staggering amount. This doesn’t surprise me. During the quarter, I attended a number of Obama events for a story I wrote for our July/August issue, and saw up close the type of enthusiasm he generates. For a while now, I have argued that Obama, not Hillary, is the one conservatives should really be afraid of, not only because he can win the election, but because he’d be a more charismatic advocate for liberalism as president. The fact that for two consecutive quarters he has outraised Hillary in primary funds, one of the pillars of her “inevitability,” demonstrates how formidable Obama can be in a “change” electoral environment. Obama still trails Hillary in the polls by double digits, but I think he’s better off being behind at this point, amassing a war chest, and making his move in the early states starting in November, than peaking early as Howard Dean did. With that said, at some point soon, he’s going to have to do somthing to justify the enthusiasm of his supporters. So far, his performances in the debates have been underwhelming.

The Poisonous Mouse

Nazi Germany produced some wonderful anti-Semitic propaganda, including the Poisonous Mushroom.

Hamas has given us Terror Mouse. The video is here, and should not be missed. When we’re swept up in events, it is often difficult to see the larger picture, and just as the free world could not have conceived of the Holocaust in the 1930s, it is easy to be dismissive of the threat posed by Hamas, Hezbollah, and their backers in Iran. But doing so could have tragic consequences.