In New Hampshire, Mitt Romney is looking like Gozer the Destructor, while his scrappy rivals for the Republican nomination are merely trying to make their looming losses a little more comfortable. And maybe if they cross their streams, their campaigns won't perish. Will Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum combine forces against Romney? Will this White House's attacks on Romney help them at all? One thing that definitely won't help: getting endorsed by liberals. Here's the latest on what's going on in New Hampshire.
Jon Huntsman gets the thumbs up from liberals. The Boston Globe endorsed Huntsman Friday:
Among the candidates, only two stand out as truly presidential, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman. Both have track records of success, and both, through their policies and demeanors, have shown the breadth of spirit to lead the nation. But while Romney proceeds cautiously, strategically, trying to appease enough constituencies to get himself the nomination, Huntsman has been bold.
But this isn't likely to help Huntsman all that much with Republicans, since the Globe is seen as a liberal paper. The National Review's Jim Geraghty writes that a big turnoff to conservative voters in New Hampshire is Huntsman's belief in global warming, acceptance of stimulus money, and nuanced immigration plan, and, "Of course, all of these points are emphasized in the Boston Globe editorial endorsing him." A conservative in Massachusetts emailed him, "Now, if we can only get Barney Frank and Joe Kennedy to campaign a little for Huntsman."
MSNBC's Rachel Maddow's approval won't help either. Politico's Dylan Byers notes that Huntsman's finance director tweeted that Maddow was her "new hero because she loves and believes in Jon Huntsman!" The conservative Weekly Standard asked, "Is Jon Huntsman a Rachel Maddow Republican?" Stephen F. Hayes writes, "This might not kill Huntsman in New Hampshire, where Democrats and independents often participate in the Republican primary, but it probably won't help him in South Carolina or Florida."
Gingrich is going super local. The New York Times' Trip Gabriel reports that aside from attacking Mitt Romney, Gingrich's new campaign tactic seems to be immersing himself in local politics. He commented on a power line project in little towns in the northern part of the state, and "While residents nodded approval, the large out-of-state press corps dove for Google," Gabriel reports. The Washington Post's David A. Fahrenthold reports that the first question at a rally in Concord "came from a man with a complaint about having a mole removed (he felt the Veterans Administration should offer the procedure closer to his home)." The Times says Gingrich talked about "telemedicine."
Santorum is stealing Gingrich's style but won't commit to an alliance. Gingrich, the former professor, was widely mocked for his frequent historial references, and now Santorum copying them, Politico's David Cantanese reports. "Audiences at Rick Santorum events are served up lessons from Alexis de Tocqueville, tutorials on Supplemental Security Income and the translation of e pluribus unum. References to Honduras, Margaret Thatcher and judicial originalists make their way into speeches, too." And yet! Santorum won't commit to Gingrich's idea to have a "non-aggression pact," Haberman reports.
Romney will have it rough this weekend. Politico's Maggie Haberman writes that this will be the weekend Romney is brutally attacked by the other candidates. There are two debates this weekend, great opportunities for Santorum to show he's the candidate conservatives can get behind and for Gingrich to get revenge. Newt’s seething. Perry’s desperate. Huntsman wants to get noticed. Santorum needs to make a mark. "The chances of a Romney pile-on are fairly high, especially with a field that’s been whittled to six candidates, down from eight just a few weeks ago," she writes.
And Romney will be attacked by Obama's reelection team, too. Politico points to Obama strategist David Axelrod's comments to The New York Times on Romney's assertion that he wants a merit-based society while Obama wants redistribution. Pointing to their very different backgrounds -- Romney born into wealth, Obama raised by a single mom -- Axlerod said it was "Orwellian" and that “Barack Obama doesn’t need any lectures from Mitt Romney on merit and making your own way in life."
But who cares? The Washington Post's Aaron Blake says Romney looks "bulletproof." He writes, "Polling in the state shows that not only is Romney’s support wide -- more than 40 percent of New Hampshire voters -- but it’s also deep. In other words, Romney is their choice, and they’re sticking to him." Ron Paul will probably get 15 percent to 20 percent of the vote, while Romney will get 40 percent, meaning that everyone else is fighting for the remaining 50 percent. "That’s not math that anybody wants to face."
Who are these guys? The Washington Post's David A. Fahrenthold reports on the impressions all this campaigning has left on voters' minds. What are the candidates like in person?
- Romney: "Like talking to your doctor."
- Gingrich: like talking to your boss.
- Perry: "a little silly," Scooby-Doo impressions.
- Paul: bad at small talk.
- Huntsman: shows grace under pressure -- he remained calm after a goat bit him.