Tuesday, December 13, 2011

DES MOINES — So here’s your dilemma: You’re a Republican but you don’t trust Newt Gingrich or like him much for that matter, what with the lobbying for Freddie Mac, the Julius Caesar complex and the Henry VIII thing with all the wives (minus the beheadings).

But yet Mitt Romney leaves you about as enthused as a warm glass of Coca-Cola or a cup of cold coffee. No fizz. No jolt. No pulse. The thought of voting for Romney in the Jan. 3 Iowa Republican presidential caucuses doesn’t exactly provide rousting-from-the-couch urgency.

All of this considered, you still care. You’re angry with President Obama and want a new focus. Our state of 3 million people is being watched closely by the nation of 300 million, the world of 7 billion — the latter evidenced by the fact that a Japanese public television crew was in Carroll last Thursday for the pre-caucus tea caucus.

What do you do? One solution: park your vote with U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, the presidential candidate often referred to as a the “godfather of the tea party.”

A vote for Paul in the Iowa caucuses advances a pure agenda of limited government and fiscal restraint, moves the ball forward on issues central to true conservatives, without giving the Iowa stamp of approval to the flawed Georgian Gingrich or Romney and his dizzying political pivots.

At the ABC News/Yahoo/Des Moines Register debate Saturday night on Drake University’s campus Paul delivered a strong performance. His main point: Gingrich, the former speaker of the U.S. House, and Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, spend much too much time and energy explaining themselves, defining their brands, adding fresh butter to their daily bread.

Paul, on the other hand, is nothing if not consistent.

“I think what we’ve had here is a demonstration of — why should we have a candidate that’s gonna have to explain themselves?” Paul said Saturday night of Gingrich and Romney. “Seventy percent of the people want further explanations on what your positions are.”

Paul is no long shot. In fact, he came close to winning the Carroll Iowa Tea Party Pre-Caucus Caucus last week — losing by a handful of votes to Gingrich. Paul is now tied for second with Romney in an American Research Group Poll of likely Iowa caucus-goers. Paul and Romney poll at 17 percent behind Gingrich at 22 percent. There’s a real possibility Paul could win the caucuses. As none other than Mitt Romney pointed out Saturday, Paul’s ground game, with active supporters, yard signs and crowds at political events in the state, is quite striking.

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Quote of the debate:

“Let’s be candid,” Gingrich said to Romney. “The only reason you didn’t become a career politician is you lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994.”

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Lost in space ….

Gingrich has advocated a “Star Trek”-ish proposal in which the United States establishes a colony on the moon to extract its resources. Romney took issue with this in the debate.

“What, places where we disagree?” Romney said. “Let’s see — we can start with — with his idea to — to have — a lunar colony that would mine minerals from the moon, I’m not in favor of spending that kinda money to do that.”

But Gingrich didn’t back away from the moon idea.

“I’m proud of trying to find things that give young people a reason to study science and math and technology and telling them that some day in their lifetime, they could dream of going to the moon, they could dream of going to Mars,” Gingrich said. “I grew up in a generation where the space program was real, where it was important.”

Can you imagine the reaction of the American right if President Obama said the same thing? They’d point to his ears and scream “Vulcan!”

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A book tour or a campaign?

At the ABC debate Gingrich took great pleasure in announcing that he was a New York Times best-selling author. Just weeks before the Iowa caucuses, he clearly believes our winter soil is fertile ground for the selling of Gingrich Inc. products.

Here is his campaign’s announcement for a Saturday, Dec. 17, event in Mount Vernon: “Callista Gingrich will participate in a book-signing, featuring her new children’s book, ‘Sweet Land of Liberty.’”

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Seriously?

Newt Gingrich, in an appeal to Iowa conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats’ Family Leader has made a solemn vow “to defend and strengthen the family.”

Gingrich said he would “uphold the institution of marriage through personal fidelity to my spouse and respect for the marital bonds of others.”

In other news, “Jersey Shore’s” Snooki has signed an abstinence pledge and will be doing commercials for the non-alcoholic beer O’Doul’s.

Best takeaway on the three-times-married Gingrich from Saturday’s debate: “If you will cheat on your wife, if you will cheat on your spouse, then why wouldn’t you cheat on your business partner or why wouldn’t you cheat on anybody for that matter?” said Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican candidate for president.