This is Why We Hold Elections
Saturday January 21, 2012
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From Charleston, South Carolina
Let me reiterate: I am correct in my political projections exactly 50 percent of the time. I am not as good in Football picks, so don't ask me who is going to get to the Superbowl after tomorrow's games.
Newt Gingrich won South Carolina. Big.
If you had bet me Monday morning you would own my house, my car and my cat. I thought Romney had a lock on South Carolina.
But, this last week was the best political week for a major candidate I have ever seen. It was all Newt.
Newt's performance in Monday's debate was so good that every candidate for any office, prepping for a debate, should be forced to watch it and learn from it.
On Thursday, Newt knew he was going to have to answer a question about his ex-wife's allegations. You know all about that.
Newt went back to his early-debate tactic of attacking the question and the questioner - in this case CNN's John King - and he didn't just wipe the issue off as a negative, he turned it into a major positive.
Outside of Hogwart's that's a piece of political magic I would not have believed possible.
This last week was also the worst political week for a major candidate I have ever seen - not counting weeks that included a woman claiming sexual harassment. It was all Mitt.
In Monday's debate Romney got involved in an argument with Rick Santorum over voting rights for felons. Voting rights for felons? And Santorum did pretty well.
Then Romney stumbled over another question about his taxes and his company, Bain Capital, and he more-or-less played to a draw.
But, as the week wore on, he still wouldn't say when he would release his tax returns and how many years of tax returns he would release. On top of that ABC News discovered Romney has millions of dollars parked in funds based in the Cayman Islands.
Regular readers know that my arithmetical skills are thin. My accountant knows my tax planning skills are non-existent, so I can only pass along the advice of others when I tell you that the Cayman Islands are not a haven against U.S. taxes.
Having written that, when most Americans hear "Cayman Islands" they think "Tax Shelter." That's not good for Mitt Romney.
In a piece I wrote for the Daily Beast this morning, I pointed out that, while it seems as if there has been an election every week in January, January is the lightest month in the primary series.
Although it feels like there have been nothing but election nights so far in January, and we still have Florida to go, January is the lightest month of the cycle.
The point I was making was: In January the events are sequential. January 3 (Iowa), January 10 (New Hampshire), January 21 (South Carolina), January 31 (Florida).
Moving forward there are often multiple elections on the same day week after week, and month after month.
I am still a big believer in blocking and tackling in politics.
Romney has the political infrastructure and the money to be able to operate in multiple states at the same time. That takes a staff of professionals to do that. You need a political staff that can look over the horizon and see what is needed in Florida on January 31 and in Nevada on February 4, but in the six other contests in February and the 20-or-so in March.
Gingrich has made it part of his mantra that he "don't need no stinkin' consultants" to run his campaign, and maybe he doesn't. But the inability to get on the ballot in Virginia - no matter how arcane the rules - speaks to the fact that Gingrich actually might need some consultants.
If I were advising Mitt Romney, which I am not, I would meet with the senior staff and say:
Depending how you count, there will be seven events in February, 19 in March (including 10 on March 6, Super Tuesday), 12 in April, and six in June. Those numbers may not be exact, but the arc of activity is.
There is a good result from South Carolina. We are going to go one-on-one with Newt Gingrich in Florida. If we can convincingly beat him there we can destroy his long-term prospects.
But … Romney has to make it happen.
On the Secret Decoder Ring Page today: Links to the Cayman Islands, my Daily Beast column, and the "Treasure of the Sierra Madre"
Also a pretty good Mullfoto and a Catchy Caption of the Day.
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