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Why the GOP backbenchers hang on

By SUSAN WALKER
Capitol Hill Blue Political Correspondent
November 25, 2011

GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

It doesn’t matter if their candidate of choice is one of the flavors of the week in the GOP Presidential circus or a perennial backbencher, those who support and work for their favorite are adamant that this is the year for them.

That’s why the second tier of GOP candidates keep soldiering on in the face of declining poll numbers, empty campaign chests and dwindling hope.

At the moment, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain represent the top tier of candidates but — with the exception of Romney — GOP frontrunners have come and gone.  Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann had their brief moments at the top.  Cain is dropping amid sexual harassment scandals and campaign gaffes and two-time loser Ron Paul is flirting with a spot in the top three in Iowa and New Hampshire.

So, who will be in the top tier when the votes start counting right after 2012 begins?

Most political analysts surveyed by Capitol Hill Blue agree that it won’t be Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum or Jon Huntsman.

Herman Cain?  Probably history.  Gingrich, most predict, will flame out as well.

Gingrich is surging in Iowa and has the lead in latest polls. Ron Paul, they say, could pull off a surprise win in Iowa but will finish — at best — a distant second in New Hampshire and start to fade in the stretch.

So does anyone have anything for Romney?

Ron Paul’s supporters say their guy is the one.

Paul has some solid, easy season fundraising and his small — but vocal and loyal — band of supporters say his time has come to seize the moment.  They said the same thing in 2008 but their candidate never became a serious contender for the nomination.

Rick Stowell, a teacher, soldier and columnist for the conservative Washington Times, has this to say about Paul:

Every four years America gets in a big fight. As with most internecine arguments, passions run wild and loyalties are made or broken in fits of emotion.

It’s no different this election cycle in the Grand Old Party. And the most emotional bunch are the Paul disciples.

In many ways, Ron Paul is an appealing candidate, especially for conservative Republicans. He preaches individual liberty in an uncompromising way. He is a fearless advocate of limited, constitutional government. He has no known baggage of compromising on his principles. His warnings about the excesses of the Federal Reserve seem prophetic.

But the main question Republicans will be asking themselves as they go to polls early next year is: “Who can beat Barack Obama?”

Ron Paul cannot.

The backbenchers aren’t giving up.

Santorum knows he can’t win.  His goal, he claims, is to “make a difference in the race.” He doesn’t explain how.

“If it doesn’t happen, it just doesn’t happen,” he says.

Bachmann claims she has the stamina and will to stay in the race. It’s all about backbone, she claims.

“I have the backbone,” she says. “I’ll put my backbone up against any other candidate.”

Backbone, however, does not translate into votes, poll numbers or campaign contributions.

Iowa and New Hampshire will launch the elimination season.  After New Hampshire, the GOP field will shrink by at least a third, possibly even by half.

“It’s easy to get noticed in Iowa,” says GOP activist Alan Salsbury,  “but Iowa is a caucus state where it’s easier to pack the room and win.”

Longtime GOP strategist Rich Galen — one time press secretary to Gingrich — agrees.

“In Iowa, you can sleep on people’s couches and hang on for a long time with very little money,” Galen told The Associated Press. “You can live off the land in Iowa. You can’t do that in Florida.”

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12 Responses to Why the GOP backbenchers hang on

  1. Jim Ostrowski

    November 25, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Actually, Ron Paul is the only Republican who can beat Obama. Why? Because he will capture the libertarian swing vote–about 10% of the population. No one else can. They will stay home or vote for the LP candidate if one of the big government conservatives wins the nomination. On the other hand, despite their grumbling, the GOP rank and file WILL vote for Ron Paul because they can’t stand Obama.

    • Gmartine

      November 25, 2011 at 2:04 pm

      You are right. Everybody that I know that voted for Obama the last election will most likely vote for Ron Paul the next election if he gets past the primaries.

      • Jay

        November 26, 2011 at 10:26 am

        Google: “Blue Republican”

        Thousands of Democrats are caucusing for Paul, or changing their registration (“just for a day”) so they can vote for Paul in the primaries.

        Paul’s highest hurdle is the primary; pro-war Obama has nothing on him in the General.

  2. Hal Brown

    November 25, 2011 at 10:18 am

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Jeb Bush is waiting in the wings for a deadlocked convention. Another Bush, boy and girls, and one who named his son George Prescott Bush and said the following when he ran unsuccessfully for governor of Florida the first time in 1994.

    Just think of it, they could George H.W. , George W. and Jebb could end up with their own Bush version of Mt. Rushmore. And, no surprise here, there is a Bush Mountain in Texas: “Bush Mountain is one of 5 peaks that line an escarpment that rises over 5,000 ft above the salt flats to the west. Bush Mountain is the second highest summit in Texas…. in the romote and beautiful Guadalupe Mountains National Park. From http://www.summitpost.org/bush-mountain/151968

    “We have elected people year after year that say, ‘I’m going to do this for you,'” Bush replied. “Now it’s time to strive for a society where there is equality of opportunity, not equality of results. […] So I’m going to answer your question by saying, ‘Probably nothing.’ I think what we ought to do is to have a society where you go out and pursue your dreams and you’re not punished.”

    Article
    .

    The last Democratic convention that went beyond the first ballot was in 1952, the Republicans had their last in 1948.

    I see the possibility that the modern version of the no smoking smoke filled room where inside-the-beltway Republicans broker the election and decide on a Bush / Christie ticket.

    Article about deadlocked conventions – also note the Gary Trudeau cartoon about Trump’s flirtation with the presidency in 1987.

  3. Hal Brown

    November 25, 2011 at 10:21 am

    I neglected to put in the salient part regarding the Jen Bush quote above:

    In August 1994, a voter asked Jeb Bush what his administration would do to help the black community. His response (rather, two words of it) became an instant classic:

    “We have elected people year after year that say, ‘I’m going to do this for you,'” Bush replied. “Now it’s time to strive for a society where there is equality of opportunity, not equality of results. […] So I’m going to answer your question by saying, ‘Probably nothing.’ I think what we ought to do is to have a society where you go out and pursue your dreams and you’re not punished.”

    It was the “probably nothing” that cost him the election. But when the elections came around four years later, Bush got his act together and won.

  4. DRKoller

    November 25, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I would not write off Ron Paul. I was unaware of his campaign and formally followed Romney until about two months ago. The media black out really does work to some extent. After deciding I really didn’t like Romney I started to look around for some information other candidates were pushing. When Ron Paul announced his one trillion federal budget cut his first year in office I started to read into the man significantly. Since that time I’ve convinced at least ten people to vote for him and will push them to vote in their primary or caucus. Ron Paul has an insane amount of dedicated people who are willing to work on their family and friends to gain him support. He’s the only candidate that I would want to serve under if I were drafted into the military. He’s the only candidate that worries about my pocket book. He’s the only candidate that realizes the simple truths that our founding fathers made apparent. Whether he wins or loses he’s opening a can of worms for all to see, but my bet is that his support grows and he’ll get the nomination that our country needs.

  5. Sandune

    November 25, 2011 at 11:31 am

    I was delighted to see my old friend Rick Galen quoted above. I still subscribe to his newsletters.

    My problem is not with the candidates who are running but the power the Republican National Committee has over their combined premise. Jeb learned the hard way and anyone left after the primaries will walk lock step with the “new and improved” agenda for the GOP.

    Paul has the cleanest message to offer but the wrong approach. I see little reason for giving him my vote this time.

  6. Carl Nemo **==

    November 25, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    What amazes me most is that voters get ‘roped like dopes’ every four years believing the crap that issues from these Presidential wannabe’s lying lips regardless of party affiliation.

    My wife and I fell for Obama’s ‘silver-tongued’ duplicitous oratory, but have made the mutual promise as to never again fall for any of these slick-talkin’ “chicken in every pot, Ford in every garage” snake oil salesmen yarns.

    They’re all highly suspect in my book and with their ‘support team'; I.E., our totally corrupt Congressional contingent, this nation is seemingly doomed for an ugly ending for sure. It’s just a matter of time with us now in the sweephand mode to the midnight of our destruction.

    American political campaigns are nothing but high theater, albeit of a dark nature with reference to the ultimate outcome, the new boss same as the old boss syndrome.

    Carl Nemo **==

  7. Grant

    November 25, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    “Ron Paul, they say, could pull off a surprise win in Iowa but will finish — at best — a distant second in New Hampshire and start to fade in she [sic] stretch.”

    If your analysis is as thorough as your editing, Ron Paul should do very well after he wins Iowa.

    • woody188

      November 28, 2011 at 9:35 pm

      Hehe, nice! I keep pointing out his support in North Carolina to no avail.

  8. Pondering It All

    November 26, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    I know why some pols run for President, with no hope for winning: It’s the money!

    They have the opportunity to collect thousands of $2K+ contributions directly into their campaign fund, and then convert that into personal income once they drop out. It is a legal means of money laundering to payoff a pol who has served the interests of a particular business, group, or wealthy individuals.

    Some do put their excess funds into the party coffers (especially those still in the larger game), or recycle the money for any future campaign. But watch what those retiring from politics do, once their reputation is too tarnished to mount a credible race. They use the last race just to raise as much as possible, spend almost none of it, and write themselves a big, fat check.