NH Poll: Romney, Huckabee Surge

Romney shows continued strength in New Hampshire in the latest Rasmussen poll, just as Giuliani is taking out ads and starting to campaign more seriously in the state. But perhaps more surprising about the poll is that it has Mike Huckabee in a virtual three-way tie for second place in a state that is supposed to be the most difficult terrain for him . Should Huckabee follow up an upset win in Iowa with a strong showing in New Hampshire, it would completely change the race. And you’d have to begin asking, if Giuliani and/or McCain can’t beat Huckabee in New Hampshire, how long can they remain in the race?

As far as the numbers were concerned, Romney is at 34 percent, Giuliani and McCain are both at 15 percent, Huckabee is at 14 percent, Paul is at 8 percent, and Thompson is hardly a factor at 3 percent.

As with all Rasmussen polls, there should be a note of caution that they use robotic calling techniques, which some people argue create unreliable results.

Thompson vs. Giuliani

No, not Fred, but New York City Comptoller William Thompson. In a story posted by the Politico last night in response to Giuliani’s appearance on Katie Couric, Thompson was quoted as saying that his auditors were “stonewalled” when they tried to look into the matter of Giuliani’s security expenses. However, not until the 13th paragraph does the story note that Thompson is a Democrat. Left out of the story completely is the fact that Thompson has designs on running for mayor in 2009, and has been raising money for over a year. Does that automatically invalidate everything he says? No. But it’s certainly a relevant detail to consider.

CNN Elects Grover Norquist

From the transcript of last night’s debate:

Governor Norquist: President Bush made a commitment when he ran for president in 2000 an 2004 that he would oppose and veto any tax increase that Congress sent him. My question to each of the candidates is: Would you promise to the people watching this right now, that you will oppose and veto any efforts to raise taxes as long as you’re president?

Did Mitt Endorse Rudy’s NY Immigration Policies?

Reviewing the transcript of last night’s debate, I noticed that in criticizing Giuliani for running a sanctuary city as mayor, Romney–perhaps inadvertently–endorsed the central tenets of Giuliani’s policies in New York City.

Here’s what Romney said (note the part in bold):

But the mayor said — and I quote almost verbatim — which is if you happen to be in this country in an undocumented status — and that means you’re here illegally — then we welcome you here. We want you here. We’ll protect you here.

That’s the wrong attitude. Instead, we should say if you’re here illegally, you should not be here. We’re not going to give you benefits, other than those required by the law, like health care and education, and that’s the course we’re going to have to pursue.

Huh? I though the whole criticism of Giuliani’s policy was that he gave health care and education benefits to illegal immigrants and didn’t report them. Is Romney suggesting that Giuliani should have given illegal immigrants health care and education, but reported anybody who took advantage of those services to the INS?

Rudy’s Blown Opportunity on Farm Subsidies

The Club for Growth and Rob Bluey take Giuliani and Romney to task for failing to come out against farm subsidies, and rightly so. Both candidates attempt to portray themselves as fiscal conservatives who believe in free markets, but last night they advocated continuing government supports for an industry because we need to protect the American food supply. Since when does manipulating the economy with federal tax dollars produce more abundance than allowing the free market to function on its own?

With that said, Romney's response was at least consistent with what we know about him, and has an electoral logic to it. He has a history of saying whatever is most politically convenient at the time, and winning Iowa is a central part of his strategy.

For Giuliani, however, it doesn't add up. One of his greatest appeals is that he is a blunt, no-nonsense guy who has the guts to say and do what others don't. When it was suggested that New York City raise taxes after 9/11, Giuliani responded that it would be "a dumb, stupid, idiotic and moronic thing to do." Had he said the same thing about farm subsidies last night, he would have become an instant hero among fiscal conservatives. But aside from that, it would have made political sense. Unlike Romney, winning Iowa is not central to Giuliani's strategy, so he doesn't need to pander for votes there. Much more important for him is winning New Hampshire. Had he come out firmly against farm subsidies last night, he would have had a great issue to use against Romney in the more libertarian Granite State.

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