As we edge ever closer to January 3 and the first contest to give us a clue about which candidates are viable, it’s important to separate the mud from the substance.
Of all polling organizations I trust Rasmussen the most. They don’t poll adults, as many other polls do, nor do they poll registered voters. They poll likely voters, those who are more likely to show up at the polls than any other demographic.
As of December 21, Rasmussen showed just how much damage Romney PAC ads had done to Newt Gingrich. Romney is now at 25%, Ron Paul at 20%, Newt Gingrich at 17%, and the remainder are in single digits, leaving 8% undecided. A week or two ago, 50% were undecided, so the final matchup is beginning to take shape.
While he’s currently in first place, Romney has been chronically mired in the 25% swamp, wheels spinning the mud. In most polls he appears somewhere between 20% and 25% and can’t seem to get out of that rut. That does not bode well for him despite what the pundits say. As GOP candidate after GOP candidate has risen and fallen, their eroded support goes to the next conservative, but not to Romney. Mich of what Gingrich has lost has gone to Santorum. Unless Romney can start showing some upside momentum and break through the 25% ceiling, as we get further down the road, he’ll start to fade.
But regardless of where he is now in the polls, to some extent Romney finds himself between a rock and a hard place. His “unrelated” PAC, over which he claims he has no control, but which comprises old staffers and generous contributions from well-heeled friends, has been hammering Newt Gingrich ruthlessly and dishonestly.
The PAC keeps running ads that woefully misrepresent Newt’s record. One 30-second spot was awarded four “Pinnochios” by the Washington Post. Those four Pinnochios—a virtually unheard of number for a 30-second ad—are significant because they mean the paper’s fact checkers researched and verified that at least four lies appear within the ad. That just doesn’t reflect well on Romney.
Gingrich, who’s been trying to keep things positive, doesn’t have the cash to make commercials defending himself. Instead, his ads have given Iowans his substantive ideas about how a shattered country can be fixed by both he and his ideas.
But as his poll numbers dropped, he realized that he had to respond, so Gingrich challenged Romney to a 90-minute debate during which he wants to discuss the ads so he can set the record straight.
But so far Romney has refused to even consider a tete-a-tete, which makes him look like a coward. He claims duplicitously he has no control over what the PAC produces, but it’s clear that the denials are his way of hiding behind it and yet not taking responsibility that’s unquestionably his given the people who run and fund it.
And his claimed inability to tone down the ads is at best disingenuous and at worst a Pinocchio itself. That he won’t face his challenger mano-e-mano to prove what the ad says is true and back it up with credible facts is unconscionable. That he’s refused to let Newt address the charges is demonstrative of someone whois hiding something and who obviously wants to avoid conflict. I hate to tell him, but he needs to know that if he’s elected president, conflict is a staple of the office.
His innumerable flip flops have clearly demonstrated his predilection for tailoring his message to give the crowd what it wants to hear.
But while damaging Newt in the primaries, he’s also a GOP turncoat because he’s feeding Obama valuable fodder the president can use against Newt if Gingrich were to win the nomination.
If you’re going to allow dirt to be dished out as dishonestly as is the case with the most recent spot, but won’t take responsibility for it, you don’t deserve to win.
Hopefully voters will see through the garbage and send Romney a message. While negative ads still work, some 60% of those polled nationwide don’t like them, and that may manifest in Newt’s favor as the campaign rolls on.
As mentioned, for his part, Newt has run nothing but positive ads that focus on what he’ll do if he becomes president. Isn’t that what this election is all about, the myriad issues and solutions to resolve them?
In addition, Newt has answered all of the charges against him ad nauseum during the debates and at newt.org, but the Romney PAC attack ads are hammering away at the same old charges, twisting them to add to the pain.
In the mean time ads produced by the Romney campaign don’t provide the same kind of substantive policy ideas that Newt’s do. Romney struts around looking presidential at town hall meetings, but we’re not getting a lot of true substance.
The very least Romney should do is man up and debate Newt one-on-one to sort this all out. If using negative ads from a PAC run by cronies is the only way Romney can get out of his 25% rut and win, what does that say about the man, and what kind of president might he be?