GOP Primary: Newt calls it quits…sort of

You knew it wouldn’t be that easy.  Newt Gingrich is ending his campaign for the Presidency, kind of.  He announced Wednesday that he will quit on Tuesday, with a speech.  Always with a speech.  Where have I heard that before.  Oh yeah, it was one of the great philosophers of our time, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”  Of course Newt is a southerner of sorts.  He was born in Pennsylvania, but grew up in Georgia.  You know Southerners, they’re always fixing to do something before actually doing it, so maybe Newt is just fixing to quit.  I have lived in Knoxville for 12 years now and I have even caught myself saying that.

One thing he’s not quitting is his very expensive, tax payer funded, secret service protection.  The Office of Homeland Security is expected to pull the plug on the $44,000 a day detail by the weekend.  So Newt and Calista will have to slug it out without a security detail all the way till Tuesday.  Oh the humanity.

Newt has already dropped most of his staff, and his debt continues to grow, in part because he continues to honor campaign engagements he made a month or two ago.  If you think this is normal, I offer Tim Pawlenty, former Governor of Minnesota and first candidate to drop out of the race.

When T-Paw decided to get out and endorse Governor Romney he cancelled all scheduled campaign events, went home to Minnesota and settled all outstanding debt.  He did not suspend his campaign, he ended it.  He filed the paperwork with the SEC (the commission, not the greatest sports conference in the country), and when he stepped to the podium to campaign for Romney he was completely free of debt and his campaign finance account was zeroed out.  That’s how an adult who believes in fiscal responsibility runs a campaign.

Granted Pawlenty got out a lot earlier than Newt, so his debt was not as high, but that is way too simplistic an explanation.  Neither Pawlenty, nor Santorum for that matter, flew around in private jets, hired private security details, or made an enormous amount of impromptu stops to zoos, sporting events, museums, etc… All that costs money and time and staff; which costs more money.  The jet rental company has still not been paid.  Calista even kept the private security after a Secret Service detail was assigned to her.  Even more telling, the campaign made no financial adjustments after Florida, when the funding started to dry up and it became clear Santorum and Romney were the front runners.  This campaign was running high on the hog from start to finish, debt be damned.

Newt is not the conservative he claims to be.  He may say a lot of conservative stuff, but he doesn’t do a lot of conservative things.  His campaign is more than enough evidence of that.  I wonder how much debt he can ring up between Friday night’s trip to tour the Penske Racing Plant and Tuesday’s speech?

To semi-quote a Tom Cruise movie, Newt’s ego was and still is writing checks his account just can’t cash.

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GOP Primary: Santorum – Exit stage right!

Well folks it’s just about over.  Rick Santorum is preparing to speak in Gettysburg Pennsylvania as I type.  The former Senator from PA is suspending his campaign.  To all of us in the unwashed masses that means he’s quitting the race.  Technically however, that means he will no longer actively campaign, but his name will appear on the ballot in any state he is registered, and more importantly he can legally take and use campaign contributions all the way to the Republican National Convention in August.  There is also an outside chance that Romney may implode.  If that were to occur due to some scandal, Santorum could jump back in to the race with little effort.   He couldn’t do that if he ended his campaign instead of suspending it.

This is not much of a surprise really.  For all his bluster, Santorum knew there was no slide rule, no algorithm, no math that would get him to the nomination.  The final kicker may have been one of two issues, or maybe a mix of both.  Santorum was touting Pennsylvania as his chance to make up ground.  Today’s poll numbers show Santorum losing his home state to Romney.  That’s a beat down he was probably anxious to avoid.  Santorum is young and can still run for office.  The fewer beat-downs on your resume the better. This is especially true if he tries to run for Senator again, or even governor in Pennsylvania.

Romney stopped negative ads in PA out of respect to Santorum’s family as they dealt with the medical problems of their young daughter Bella.  So the other issue could be Santorum’s family.  His daughter has had medical problems since birth and she was recently taken to the hospital again.   Running for President is hard on the candidates and can be harder still on the family.  Santorum appears to be sincere when it comes to his family.  So it would not be difficult to believe that he’s ready to spend more time with them and specifically Bella.

As a lot of pundits are currently opining right now, you have to give Santorum credit.  By comparison to the other candidates, he is dirt poor.  He campaigned the old fashioned way, door to door, city to city, county to county, state to state.  In the end though, effort, grass root, and old school style can’t overcome a ridiculous message that was out of touch from the beginning.  Teleprompters of the world! I say to you: breath easy, thine enemy is delivered to your footstool, defeated.

The Uni Bomber (Newt Gingrich) is still in.  His campaign says their plan includes a big opportunity involving Delaware.   If that strategy doesn’t disqualify Newt to be President, nothing does.  Delaware bro, really?  You think you can handle all 17 delegates?  I mean you’re only 520 delegates behind, pace yourself.  Time to phone a friend Newt, get a buddy, or even a clue.  Better yet, suspend your campaign, I hear it’s Buy One Get One at Tiffany’s this weekend.

Ron Paul is still in.  Yeah, I got nothing.  Neither does Ron Paul.

So the nomination is Romney’s to lose from this point forward.  Each state will still vote in their primary elections.  Romney still has to hit 1144 delegates.  He has 645 currently with some big states coming up.  With Santorum out now, Romney should hit 1144 quickly.  Assuming Romney will win all the delegates from here on out, he will officially clinch the nomination at the Texas primary election on May 29th.

First and foremost, the next primary is April 24th.  Five states vote on that Tuesday, including Pennsylvania.

The voting schedule and delegate count will stay up at Frank’s Place until Romney officially clinches the nomination.

Wisconsin Primary: Mitt Makes Swiss Cheese – out of Santorum

Had a Badger joke for the headline, but it just didn’t feel right.  Swiss Cheese is the best I’ve got at the moment.

After taking most, if not all, of the delegates in Maryland and the District of Columbia (DC), Romney took all of the delegates in Wisconsin.  The Badger state is winner take all, meaning a candidate only needs to win the total vote in the state to get all the delegates.  Wisconsin has 42 delegates and they all slide into Romney’s column.

Breaking:  I must at this moment, 10:01pm in the east, confess that I’m liking Piers Morgan of CNN more and more as a political analyst.  He only fills that roll on election nights, the rest of the time he does a Larry King-esque type show.  But heaven help me, the little limey (he’s british) has a good handle on our political system.  He also asks great questions to folks from both sides of the political divide.

OK, back to the action.  Santorum gave his speech earlier in the night, from Pittsburgh.  Good strategy when you’re about to get your rear end punted across two states and one District.  As usual he whined about fighting against the money and the machine.  Not sure if Romney is the money or the machine, maybe he’s both.  Who knows.  What we do know: Romney is the winner in all three primaries tonight and has taken a huge delegate haul.

Santorum went on to say it’s only half-time in the race and he’s ready to start the second half at the Pennsylvania primary on April 24th with it’s 72 delegates.  Santorum’s problem: New York, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island vote that night as well.  Rick went on to make up history and re-write the facts about Washington crossing the Delaware River into Trenton to surprise the Hessians.  Then he somehow mangled that into some meaningless points about the other candidates and how they campaign.

He then went on a riff using the phrase “You Know Me” time and time again.  Hey Rick, these people that know you are the same people that handed you the worst defeat of an incumbent senator in the history of our political system.  Just a god awful speech, in content and delivery.  When he loses, his speeches are delivered with a breathy, whiny, pleading tone.  He then says “this ain’t halftime, no marching bands. We’re getting on the field. Let’s go.”  Not making this up.  Rick, you crazy bastard, you just said it was half time and Pennsyl….. oh never mind.  Enough of this dolt.  Here are the stats from tonight’s butt kicking.

Maryland

Romney – 50% wins majority of awarded delegates

Santorum – 29%

Gingrich – 11%

Paul – 9%

District of Columbia

Romney – 69% wins all 16 delegates

Santorum – failed to get on ballot (dope)

Paul – 13%

Gingrich – 11%  (good lord, the dude lives there, works there, and lost to Paul)

Wisconsin – numbers will change slightly when all counting is complete, result will not

Romney – 44%  Wins all 42 delegates

Santorum – 38%

Paul – 11%

Gingrich – 6% (hahahah)

At the current time it looks like Santorum will get around 12 delegates and Romney will take the other 81 that were available tonight.  That number may move up or down by a delegate or two as the states finish all the counting.  Either way it’s a huge win for Romney.  He won all three states, won the first winner take all state, took all but a handful of delegates and will reap some serious fund raising from all of this.

I’m not sure what Santorum and Gingrich hope to achieve by staying in the race.  They are now holding up the republican nominee from totally focusing on the general election and they are making him spend money he could use for the campaign against the President.  So to break it down, they are being a couple of big poopy pants.

Check back in the morning hours if you want to see the final delegate count.  The delegate counter is to the right, on Frank’s Place home page.

Next up, the 5 northeastern states mentioned above.  Those primaries occur on Tuesday, 24 April, so that’s three weeks to relax and watch the awesomeness unfold.

 

 

GOP Primary: DC and Maryland to Mitt

In no surprise Mitt Romney has coasted to victory in both DC and Maryland. It appears he may take all the delegates from both primaries. But the big prize tonight is Wisconsin, a winner take all state with 42 delegates up for grabs.

Polls in Wisconsin close at 9pm eastern. You know cause they are not on real time like eastern standard but instead follow the more snooty central time. I kid, I’m a kidder.

This count should be quicker unless it gets close, if so you can expect a long evening.

Can’t wait to hear Newt’s speech when he comes in 3rd or even last most of the night.

Check back for Wisconsin results in a bit.

When Last We Spoke…

So a lot of things have happened in the past 11 days.  In the political world all of it was good, if not funny as all get out.  Some of the high, or low lights, depending on your level of cynicism:

  • President Obama
  1. In a stunning open mic incident the President leans in to tell Russian Preisdent Medvedev to pass a message to Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister of Russia and its defacto dictator
  2. The message – give me some slack until I’m re-elected, then I’ll have more flexibility
  3. Wow, hard to know what he meant by flexibility but easy to know that he thinks he’s going to whoop Mitt or Rick in November
  • Rick Santorum 
  1. verbally dog cussed* a New York Times reporter, telling him to quit the “bull shit” because:
  2. the reporter asked the candidate to clarify the remarks made when Santorum said he would vote for Obama before he would support Romney
  3. Santorum also called Romney the worst republican ever –  he drew swift condemnation from party leaders for that little gem
  4. after Santorum finished crying about the media lying about his own words he went on FOX to brag saying “You’re not a republican if you haven’t cursed out a NYT reporter”  So now we know Rick, you’re a republican, a crybaby, a liar, oh and a chooch.
*dog cussed – souther term for really laying into someone.  Dog cussing involves those four letter words like the F word, the already mentioned BS, and of course Yankee.
  •  Newt Gingrich
  1. called the President uppity because Newt claims the Pres. thinks everybody should go to Harvard
  2. Not sure President believes we should all go to Harvard and ironically this comes from the only PhD in the field
  3. hard to know what’s in Newt’s mind but I gotta believe in close circles he finishes off that “uppity” sentence with what he really thinks
  4. Somehow Mitt Romney is not uppity even though he also went to Harvard
  5. Newt fired 1/3rd of his staff this week – no money to pay them
  6. the last two print journalists covering Newt’s campaign left to cover Mitt and Rick
  • Mitt Romney 
  1. is building a ridiculously enormous beach house complete with an elevator for the car
  2. One blogger/reporter floated the idea that Ann Romney ‘s Multiple Sclerosis is getting worse and the elevator makes it easier for her to get in and out of the car and house

See a small but unsubstantiated correlation there.  It’s not clear that Mitt will be a better candidate, but it’s obvious he makes fewer mistakes and therefore is not required to say outlandish things to get votes.  The biggest issue on Mitt the past month is a car elevator.  The other two guys have athletes tongue from constantly sticking their feet in their mouths.

Mitt also picked up some huge endorsements.  Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a Tea Party poster boy, endorsed Mitt.  President George Bush 41 endorsed Mitt.  Now Senator Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, another Tea Party guy, has endorsed Mitt.

Of course Wisconsin is a big deal because their primary election is this Tuesday, April 3rd.  Washington DC and Maryland will vote Tuesday as well.  Mitt has decent leads in all three places.  Should Romney win Wisconsin, the matter is all but settled.  The primaries in April are winner take all, so now winning the state means you get all the delegates and Wisconsin has a ton of delegates, 42 to be exact.

Short of a Romney scandal, there is no way Santorum can get to 1144 delegates and it’s almost impossible for him to stop Romney from getting there.

Newt and Ron Paul are in a dead heat for the “Crazy Old Man” conciliation prize, awarded to the candidate who comes in dead last, or dead broke, or both.

Newt’s campaign now has the feel of someone angling for a cabinet job.  He’s not slammed Romney in a week and only has ire for the President.  Secretary of State Gingrich perhaps?

On a personal note, we have had the greatest and worst 11 days of our lives here.  Some of you know that our twin girls were born 3 1/2 months early.  Anne Marie and Linda Claire were born at 1:53 and 1:54pm respectfully.  They both weighed in around 1lb 12oz, give or take an ounce.  Unfortunately Linda Claire’s lungs were not developed enough and she passed away around 5:45pm that same day.  We buried her in a wonderful ceremony this past week.  Her obituary is the post previous to this one if you would like to read it.

I felt like I needed to stop the blog for a while but after almost two weeks it’s more therapy for me than it is political info and funny Frank stories for you.  So for better or worse, I’m hitting the keyboard again.

On the bright side, Anne Marie is progressing nicely and we are thankful for every breath she takes.  She is in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at University of Tennessee Medical Center.  Those people are, in a word, awesome.   In the graceful way the dealt with Linda Claire during the 5 hours of her short life, the aftermath of her death, and the treatment of Anne Marie, they have been an oasis in a desert of turmoil and grief.  We look and pray for her homecoming sometime in late June.

I appreciate all the comments on Linda Claire’s obituary, the e-mails, and text messages.  I’ll answer them all at some point.  Trust me when I tell you they are a big help.  I can’t explain why, but it’s a bit comforting to read well wishes, offers of prayer and assistance at a time when you feel completely helpless and out of control.   Thank you all for that.

GOP Illinois Primary: CUBS WIN!! CUBS WIN!!!

Well not really.  Sorry Mike.  But Romney won, and is winning big.  Current numbers have him at 55% to Santorum’s 28%.  That is huge, but again the delegate count will tell the tale.  We won’t know the full delegate victory until late tonight or tomorrow sometime.  Romney started the night already 10 delegates ahead because Santorum couldn’t get enough delegates registered throughout the state.  That huge lead will not hold up as the rural counties have yet to report their vote.  I would expect Mitt’s lead will be in the single digits by nights end.  It’s also likely Santorum and Romney will split up the delegates with Mitt getting just slightly more.  That is bad for Santorum.  He needs to be running ahead in delegates and since his “Big” southern win he has been consistently losing ground.

To make matters worse, Newt came in fourth tonight, finishing at 7%.  That’s a full 2% behind Ron Paul, who is so short on money the only time he’s on the radio or TV is for election night concession speeches.  Because of that the cry is getting louder for Newt to get out.  The word on the street is that Newt could exit tonight or after Wisconsin on April 3rd.  If that happens, I think the vote Santorum is counting on from the Gingrich campaign will actually migrate to Romney as Mitt continues to build his lead.

Odd stat of the night:

Romney, a Mormon, is winning among Catholics in Illinois 48% to 32% over Santorum, a devout Catholic.

Candidate Campaign Health:

It’s FEC (Federal election Commission) day which means candidates must file their financial situation for the quarter.  This gives us an interesting look into the health of each campaign.  Below are their respective efforts.  (Romney and Santorum only)

Romney:  

12 mil raised

12.4 mil spent

0 debt

0 in loans

7 mil on hand

Santorum:

6.7 mil raised

5.2 mil spent

956,000 in debt

20,000 in loans – to Santorum himself in personal funds

1.5 mil on hand

So what does all that mean.  It gives a good look at how much each candidate can spend going on to the next primaries.  These particular numbers show something else.  Santorum is having trouble raising money and keeping the money he does raise.  This is not uncommon with a campaign that is a little unorganized, as has been reported.  The 20,000 loan Santorum gave his campaign has been repaid to him even though the campaign still owes 956,000 to others.  Me thinks there might be some fancy cypherin (read accounting) going on in that there campaign.

The “on hand” money is a little decieveing. It may be on hand but a lot of that is already ear marked to upcoming debt.  So neither candidate has that # as a balance as we speak tonight.  That’s what they had on hand as of the filing deadline today but you can already subtract the reported debt from the on-hand number.  Rest assured as each candidate travels tonight they are already incurring debt and eating substantially into the on-hand number.

So Mitt has no outstanding debt but he’s spending money even as he is giving his victory speech right now.  So his $7 mil on-hand is no longer $7 mil.  Even concession speeches cost money.  You only see the candidate on stage, but what you can’t see is food and drink laid out for VIP’s, Ron Paul is known for using a cash bar at his rallies: victory or concession,  building rental, car rental, the music being played, signs handed out to the crowd for the TV shot, etc….  All of this costs money and it comes from the campaign.

There is probably a reason Santorum is giving his concession speech from his hometown tonight and not the next campaign stop in Louisiana.  Most likely he’s getting the hall on the cuff (Jersey speak for free).  He has one banner and no one is eating or drinking.

Of course each campaign is also raising money at the same time.  Mitt will take a big lead there with his state victory tonight.  As I have said many times, state victories bring money, delegate victories bring the nomination.  We’ll see if Mitt’s big win translates into big delegates.

On to the Louisiana primary this Saturday, 24 March.  It’s a big one, 42 delegates up for grabs in the Bayou Primary, but they’re all big at this point.

 

At current Illinois primary numbers Romney will win about 20 more delegates than Santorum,.  Only 50% of the vote in right now, so that may change.

GOP Primary: De Romney victorias enorme en la Puerto Rico!

That translation may be too literal to be accurate, but the result is the same; Mitt wins huge in Puerto Rico.  The Common Wealth of Puerto Rico is a territory of these United States and as such they are permitted to vote in the primary.  They use an open primary system, democrats and republicans can vote in the same one.  They are not, however, allowed to vote in the general election for President in November.  Puerto Rico is a proportional delegate system, meaning you can win delegates without winning the total vote count.  However, if you manage to get more than 50% of all votes cast you get all 20 delegates.

Governor Luis Fortuno of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico holds their own elections for local issues and to elect a Governor, although I don’t believe Governor Fortuno’s term is up until 2o14.  This is a sharp dude.  He earned his BA from Georgetown and his law degree from the University of Virginia, the same school where one Derek Dooley, head coach of Tennessee Football, earned his degree.  Go Big Orange!

One of the local issues up for a vote in 2012 in Puerto Rico is the petition for statehood.  This particular issue was a big part of Mitt’s win tonight.  Both Romney and Santorum went to the island and campaigned.  Santorum spent two days there, which as it turns out was two days too long.

When asked about the issue of statehood, Santorum went off about the language Puerto Ricans speak before he ever said he would support a move to statehood.  He said Puerto Ricans would have to adopt english as the only official language to be considered for statehood.  He said prosperity would only come from english not spanish.  Then he said it was the law so to be a state they would have to adopt english anyway.  Then the next day when that all blew up in his face like a burning hot tamale wrapped way too tight, he blamed his Puerto Rican interpreter for getting his words all wrong and then the press for taking him out of context and then finally it was Mitt’s fault for making the whole thing up.

Doesn’t take Nostradamus to predict the outcome of that little fiasco.  I can name that island ass kicking in five words.  “Speak english you Puerto Ricans.”  It would have been much more efficient and probably saved Santorum a trip and a lot of wasted campaign funds had he just said those five words instead of blaming everyone for two whole days.  For all the guff Romney takes for being a flip flopper, ole Rick really means what he says until a large block of voters don’t like it, then all of a sudden it’s everyone else’s fault for not understanding or twisting his words.

So Romney stepped into the breach, said he supported the right of the people of Puerto Rico to petition for statehood; a move he believes will become reality when it’s put to a local vote in November.  Then he said the magic words.  Puerto Rico will prosper  no matter the language they speak.  How big of an issue was that whole deal?  Well on an island made up mostly of Catholics, the Mormon was crushing the Catholic by 88% of the vote at last count.  Now Romney already had the endorsement of Governor Fortuno, and Fortuno leads the party platform that is pushing for statehood, but Santorum really hurt himself when he went off, wait for it, wait for it… went off his note cards and told the reporter the english for statehood line.  Damn you mini paper prompters!

His own local party chairman remarked that Santorum should have done much better here because the Catholics were really turning out for him, but they were greatly offended about the degradation of their language by Santorum.  That blunder is not a small one.  Santorum has to be gaining on Romney.  In the last two primaries he only broke even, and now he just lost ground by 20 because by winning more than 50% of the vote Mitt got all 20 delegates.

Gingrich and Ron Paul did not campaign on the island, and really why are they even staying in the race.

As a Washington Post writer, who was more diligent than the rest to do the math, has reported, Santorum and Gingrich would now have to combine to win 55% of the total remaining delegates to stop Romney from getting 1144 delegates before the convention.  So even Newt’s days as a uni-bomber are running out.  His whole reason for staying in is to stop Mitt.  If Mitt takes any considerable number of delgates from Illinois on Tuesday the math really moves toward impossibility for Blocky McBlockerton (Newt) and Rick “english only” Santorum.

Santorum has already had a setback for Tuesday as he again failed to register in every county in Illinois.  That means he cannot win a majority of the delegates there.  Of course he blamed that on his grass roots campaign and the lack of organization they had early on.   Translation, we never thought we would get this far so we didn’t plan for it.

Well Rick, people who don’t think they will get that far normally don’t get that far.  This is also a big deal, Illinois has 69 delegates up for grabs Tuesday.  It would have been a good chance for Santorum to gain ground.  Instead he’s 20 delegates further in the hole, and can’t get a majority of the 69 on Tuesday.

This is why I said early on, balancing your own checkbook and doing your own taxes means squadoosh as a Presidential candidate.  It was a bad attempt by Santorum to relate with the common man.  Who cares if he can file a 1040EZ.  He can’t run a major campaign which is actually a microcosm of a Presidential Administration.  Writing a check to H&R Block is not the same as balancing the federal budget.

Santorum said today if he wins Illinois he wins the nomination.  Rick is apparently not reading Frank’s Place, because if he did he would know that he can win the overall state vote all day long, and Romney can still walk away with more delegates from Illinois.

Illinois is central time zone so reults will be coming in late.  It will be a close race, so counts might not be done until after midnight eastern time.

Rest assured Frank’s Place will be on the job.