Romney’s Speech

In the end, I think the “Faith in America” speech will be a net positive for Romney, but perhaps not in the way everybody is expecting. In response to Kathryn Jean Lopez’s prediction that the speech will be “heavy on religous liberty,” Ramesh Ponnuru writes that “the case that voters shouldn’t hold his Mormonism against him is not the same as the case for religious liberty, and it would be a big mistake for him to suggest that people who hold reservations about electing a Mormon president are hostile to religious liberty.” I don’t actually think this will end up being about winning voters who are uncomfortable with the idea of electing a Mormon president. The speech will be heavily covered on the news and he’ll be touching on the themes of religious liberty and tolerance that are among the founding principles of our nation. He’ll likely come off as a pretty decent guy, talking about how great America is, and some undecided voters will warm up to him. It just may not be the demographic of undecided voters that everybody is talking about (evangelicans who are suspicious of Mormonism).

Southern Yankees

Byron York hits the trail with Rudy Giuliani in South Carolina, and notes a changing aspect of the state–northern retirees (largely from New York and New Jersey) moving to the Palmetto state. They tend to be more economically conservative than socially conservative, and Giuliani is courting them heavily. New York transplants are no doubt one source of Giuliani’s strength in Florida, but York’s column sheds some interesting light on how immigration from the north could help him in South Carolina as well.

Romney Decides To Deliver Mormonism Speech

After much debate, Mitt Romney has decided to address the issue of his faith head on in a speech Thursday at the Bush presidential library.

Romney spokesman Kevin Madden just released the following statement:

“Governor Romney has made a decision to deliver a speech titled ‘Faith in America.’

“The governor has been invited to The George Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas to deliver this address on Thursday, December 6.

“This speech is an opportunity for Governor Romney to share his views on religious liberty, the grand tradition religious tolerance has played in the progress of our nation and how the governor’s own faith would inform his Presidency if he were elected.

“Governor Romney understands that faith is an important issue to many Americans, and he personally feels this moment is the right moment for him to share his views with the nation.

“Governor Romney personally made the decision to deliver this speech sometime last week.

“While identifying a venue for this address, the campaign consulted with President George H.W. Bush’s office last week about Governor Romney’s decision. President Bush was gracious enough to extend an invitation to deliver the speech at the presidential library.

“The invitation to speak at the presidential library is not an endorsement of Governor Romney’s campaign.”

Huckabee Set To Unveil Immigration Plan

Mike Huckabee is set to unveil an immigration plan on Monday that a source inside his campaign described as very tough on illegal immigration.

The plan will be rolled out just as Mitt Romney, in an attempt to stave off a challenge in Iowa, is attacking Huckabee for being soft on illegal immigration as governor.

I’ll await details for further comment, but this sounds like a schrewd move by the Huckabee campaign. What is Romney going to do, criticize another candidate for being more conservative during the presidential campaign than he was during his time as governor?

UPDATE: The immigration plan is still on, but will not be announced on Monday. See here.

Union Leader Endorses McCain, Officially

Read why here.

A taste:

We don’t agree with him on every issue. We disagree with him strongly on campaign finance reform. What is most compelling about McCain, however, is that his record, his character, and his courage show him to be the most trustworthy, competent, and conservative of all those seeking the nomination. Simply put, McCain can be trusted to make informed decisions based on the best interests of his country, come hell or high water.

It goes on to mention his foresight on the right strategy in Iraq, his long pro-life record, and his heroic service during Vietnam.

New Des Moines Register Poll: Obama, Huck In Lead

The latest Des Moines Register poll is out, the gold standard for polling in Iowa, and it confirms that Mike Huckabee has surged passed Mitt Romney to take a slight 29 percent to 24 percent lead. That’s a huge 17-point leap for Huckabee over last month’s poll and a 5 point drop for Romney. In his analysis of the results, Register columnist David Yepsen notes that though Huckabee is moving up faster than any candidate in either party, he has a thin staff in Iowa compared to Romney’s impressive organization. Rudy Giuliani actually improved slighly, moving to third place from fourth, at 13 percent (up 2 points). The biggest drop was Fred Thompson, who saw his support cut in half to 9 percent, from 18, and he has now slided to fourth place. McCain remained the same at 7 percent, but he is now tied with Ron Paul, who rose 3 points from the last poll. These results bolster the view that Huckabee’s rise, while threatening Romney, is coming mostly at Thompson’s expense.

On the Democratic side, Obama swapped with Clinton to take the lead, 28 to 25, with Edwards right behind at 23. But Yepsen warns that a lot of Obama’s support comes from younger voters, who tend to have lower turnout. Perhaps most interesting about the poll is that Obama has overtaken Clinton among female voters, who make up 6 out of 10 caucus goers, and a demographic that Clinton had hoped to tap into.

Re: Romney and the Early States

Jennifer, I don’t think it’s fair to cherry pick polls less favorable to Romney and conclude that Romney is struggling in the early states, especially because the results are starting to become erratic. The fairest thing to conclude based on the wide range of polls we’re seeing is that as of this moment, it’s a dead heat between Romney and Huckabee in Iowa, Romney is comfortably ahead in NH (how comfortable depends on the poll), and it’s a five-way race in South Carolina. The outcome in SC is impossible to predict without knowing what will happen in the other two states. Overall, at this point, I’d say Romney’s effectively unlimited bank account and organizational strength give him the edge. But that’s just at this point. Things can change a lot in a few weeks.