GOP hopefuls already finding roadblocks

In this Sept. 17, 2010 file photo, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks in Washington. This month's early under-the-radar campaigning by potential Republican challengers to President Barack Obama is a reminder of something too easily forgotten: Running for president is harder than it looks, and Obama ultimately will stand against a flesh-and-blood nominee certain to make mistakes along the way. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

This month’s early, under-the-radar campaigning by potential Republican challengers to President Barack Obama is a reminder of something too easily forgotten: Running for president is harder than it looks, and Obama ultimately will stand against a flesh-and-blood nominee certain to make mistakes along the way.

Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and other possible GOP candidates stumbled over health care, taxes and other issues in December, even as Obama coped with the harsh political reality stemming from his party’s “shellacking” in last month’s elections.

No serious contender has officially launched a 2012 campaign. But with the Iowa caucuses less than 13 months away, at least a dozen Republicans are jockeying for position, speaking to groups throughout the country, writing op-ed columns and taking potshots at one another.

As all politicians learn, the more deeply they delve into contested issues, the likelier they are to stumble.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., got caught in the middle of his party’s quickly changing views about congressional earmarks, the pet projects that some lawmakers sprinkle throughout big spending bills. Earlier this year he tucked more than $100 million in earmarks into a massive year-end spending bill that many had expected to pass.

But after tea party successes in the Nov. 2 elections, elected Republicans swung hard against earmarks and pork-barrel spending. At a Dec. 15 news conference in the Capitol, Thune came uncomfortably close to echoing Sen. John Kerry’s infamous line about voting for an $87 billion bill “before I voted against it.”

Thune told reporters: “I support those projects, but I don’t support this bill, nor do I support the process by which this bill was put together.”

Meanwhile, Romney was put on the spot when a federal judge ruled that Obama’s health care law is unconstitutional because it requires everyone to buy health insurance. Romney included virtually the same mandate in the 2006 health law he enacted as Massachusetts governor.

Romney took pains to say his plan was different from Obama’s, mainly because it takes a state-by-state approach rather than a federal one-size-fits-all solution. Pawlenty aides note that the Minnesota governor rejected such mandates in his state.

But Pawlenty had his own problems this month. In a Wall Street Journal column, he said most labor union members now work for governments, which Obama has rendered “the only booming industry left in our economy.” Since January 2008, he wrote, “the private sector has lost nearly 8 million jobs while local, state and federal governments added 590,000.”

The nonpartisan research group PolitiFact gave the column its worst rating for accuracy, “pants on fire.” The group said Pawlenty mangled the time frame, contradicted his definition of federal workers and “repeated a statistic that had been criticized as inaccurate as long as six months ago.”

Pawlenty’s office said he based the statistics on a June article by Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow at George Mason University, on the Big Government website run by conservative activist Andrew Breitbart. After reviewing the article, PolitiFact said it stood by its analysis that “the 590,000 number doesn’t encapsulate the time frame or definition set out by Pawlenty,” and it is “still skewed by a large bump in temporary Census jobs.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee didn’t have an easy December, either. Writing about the much-debated proposal to “cap and trade” greenhouse gas emissions, Huckabee said, “I never did support and never would support it, period.”

But at an October 2007 meeting of the Global Warming and Energy Solutions Conference in New Hampshire, Huckabee said: “I also support cap and trade of carbon emissions. And I was disappointed that the Senate rejected a carbon-counting system to measure the sources of emissions, because that would have been the first and the most important step toward implementing true cap and trade.”

Addressing the contradiction, Huckabee said it is fine for companies to voluntarily engage in cap and trade. “But I was clear that we could not force U.S. businesses to do what their Chinese counterparts refused to,” he said.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, meanwhile, felt compelled to issue a statement last week calling racial segregation “totally indefensible.” It came a day after liberal bloggers said he went too easy on anti-integration forces in recent remarks about the desegregation of his hometown’s public schools in 1970.

Other potential GOP challengers, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, kept fairly low profiles this month. But it’s clear the 2012 race is under way, even if unofficially.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about Palin’s and Romney’s criticism of the New START treaty with Russia and the compromise bill on tax cuts, both supported by Obama.

Americans want Washington politicians to solve big problems by finding common ground, he responded.

“There will be great pressure to do otherwise, as people begin running for president,” Gibbs added. “There will be plenty of time with which to conduct a presidential election in the fall of 2012.”

The past few days have made that time seem a lot closer.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

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2 Responses to "GOP hopefuls already finding roadblocks"

  1. Sandune  December 29, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    I backed out of the GOP im 1988 when the platform forced women to have their unwanted children as punishment for making love to a man. That is a firm level of punishment for women. Every one of those candidates want to punish women and I think it is beyond cruel. That list of candidates will never allow same sex men or women to ever marry. The final choice of how we want to die is also taken from us and we will have to live until Jesus pulls the plug.

    I am just finishing up a book called “Takeover” which expresses the new and improved White House set of rules virtually turning over our government to an Imperial Presidency. Apparently Cheney was in charge of the Bush Presidency from day one and our House and Senate were too beaten up by the power that not a word was said about the new rules. Every Republican Candidate will have full power to do as they will outside of the Geneva conventions and most of the voters have no clue…….

    I cannot imagine why an honest republican cannot return the rules as laid out in the Constitution and return the party to the people. The rules tell us that only the Congress can declare war and the President can then command the troops where to go and who to kill. V.P. Cheney rewrote the whole thing and ignored the Geneva rules on prisoners of war. America wrote these rules after Germany tortured American prisoners. I’ve often wondered if President Bush 43 would have done a better job had Cheney been told to shut the hell up.

    We elected a very weak man in Governor Bush and apparently many want a very weak women named Palin to continue to change our rules that won us many wars. I want to know where this push for change in our rules for the White House originated. Is this what the religious right wants?

    The women are not to be punished for an accident or a rape and I will work the rest of my life to keep my sisters safe. I’m running out of time…..

    Sandy

  2. Dave  January 4, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    Well said!

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