While the Ron Paul campaign warned that his rivals are trigger-happy chickenhawks Monday, Newt Gingrich is still obsessed with his own world historical narrative, declaring victory by not quitting even though Mitt Romney backers aired so many mean ads about him. On the day before the first voting in the Republican presidential primary, the candidates' final messages to voters say a lot about their issues -- and their personalities.
Ron Paul: Rick Santorum Will Start a Nuclear War
Paul's son, Sen. Rand Paul, told Iowa radio Monday that the late-surging Santorum was both too conservative and too moderate, Talking Points Memo's Evan McMorris-Santoro points out. The senator warned:
"[T]he question is do you want someone who’s trigger happy to be your commander in chief?... [Santorum is] someone who never served in the military. Ron Paul served in the military, will use force against our enemies if it’s required and if Congress approves of it, but I’m a little concerned about someone who didn’t serve in the military like Santorum, who’s a little over-eager to bomb countries because I don’t think he’s maturely thinking through the process and the consequences of war."
Rand Paul went on to call Santorum a "big-government moderate."
Newt Gingrich: I Am Going to Lose
Gingrich's former congressional colleagues have often said Gingrich was great at the politics of getting them into a majority but not so good at actually making their policy preferences into law. Monday, instead of focusing on whatever policy differences there are between himself and his rivals, Gingrich is talking about his relative power ranking and the process of voting itself. "I don't think I'm going to win," Gingrich told reporters Monday, the Associated Press' Shannon McCaffrey reports. Gingrich has been managing expectations for a month, saying he'd only come in third or fourth in polls even when he was polling much higher. And yet, he's a winner even in losing, he told Reuters. "I think fact that we survived 45 percent of the ads in the state being negative about me is already a victory... We are doing much better than people thought we would… I think there's a surge in our direction right now. And I think we will do respectably despite all the effort, particularly by Romney, to drive us out of the race."
Mitt Romney: Even If I Don't Win, I Win
A senior adviser to Romney emailed Politico's Mike Allen, "If we win, it's fantastic. If Santorum wins and we are second, it's good. If Paul wins and we are second, it's great. Any of the likely outcomes is positive for us." Allen translates: "Quirky Ron Paul has little hope of being the nominee, and Rick Santorum lacks the infrastructure or money to capitalize on an Iowa surprise. As long as Romney finishes first or second, he is the likely nominee - and the other campaigns barely argue otherwise."
Rick Santorum: Don't Trust the Media, Lamestream or Otherwise
On Iowa radio Monday, Santorum says "both conservative and liberal...elite media" were trying to decide for voters who the Republican nominee should be, Time's Mark Halperin reports. "Bill O'Reilly has refused to put me on his program. As far as he was concerned I wasn't a worthy enough candidate to earn a spot to sit across from him and be on his program." ABC News’ Shushannah Walshe reports that later, , at a small restaurant, Santorum told voters, "Do not defer your judgment to the pundits and to the polls.” Pundits think Iowans "only care about babies and guns," Santorum said.
One media personality (and clear baby fanatic) to trust? Jim Bob Duggar, the father of the 19 Kids and Counting on TLC. Duggar endorsed Santorum Monday, and Politico's Maggie Haberman says Santorum hopes evangelicals -- Duggar is one -- "will coalesce behind him and boost him to the top slot."
Rick Perry: I'm the Only Conservative with Enough Money
Perry told voters in Sioux City Monday, "This is a long election... mile 1 of the marathon," NBC News' Carrie Dann tweets. And he's the only conservative who can last the whole race, Perry said on Fox News Monday. "Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann don't have a national organization in place nor the fundraising ability to go forward out of Iowa, and so I'm the only one that actually has that ability," Perry said on Fox and Friends, ABC News' Arlette Saenz notes. Santorum, Perry pointed out, lost by 18 points to a liberal in 2006.
Michele Bachmann: Iron Lady
Bachmann airs her only ad in Iowa Monday, the Des Moines Register reports. Words flash across the screen calling her an "Iron Lady" with a spine of steel, and the narrator says "only one candidate has been a consistent conservative fighter who fought Obamacare, who fought increasing our debt ceiling – even as other Republicans were cutting deals with Obama." But the real key to what Bachmann's thinking spilled out Sunday, when she told ABC News' This Week, “Polls... sometimes belie the truth on the ground, and that's what we see... This is about what we're seeing in reality, and I think Tuesday night people are going to see a miracle."