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The Old Ballgame
January 26, 2012 - Mike Frank
We got ourselves a ballgame now, don’t we?
Since I last visited this space, the Republican field has had a rock ‘em sock ‘em couple of weeks.Jon Huntsman (aka the other Mormon) and Rick Perry have packed things up.
An official count showed that Rick Santorum DID win Iowa (he had led most of the night until Mitt Romney squeaked past at the end).
Romney did the expected in New Hampshire.
A couple of fiery debates led to Newt Gingrich winning South Carolina.
In short, three states, three winners, tons of fun for political junkies like myself. Personally, I'm very happy to have all the "inevitable" talk about Romney go by the board. I want a candidate who's not afraid to throw a few elbows, but also can reign himself in when needed. The first part applies to Santourm and Gingrich. But Newter WILL blow himself up eventually. As Santorum pointed out you don't want to read a story about your candidate thinking, "What did he say NOW?" Over and over, Santorum has stressed the "slow and steady" approach, and he's done pretty well so far.
To put it in sports terms, we've got our Final Four. Romney is a #1 seed, Santorum and Gingrich came out of the middle of the pack, and dear OLD Ron Paul is the Cinderella. I expect the battle to continue through at least Super Tuesday (March 6).
So, because I’m sure you’re all dying to know ...
After finishing my shift here on Jan. 7, I hit the road and spent a few days in New Hampshire doing what I could for Santorum. I was welcomed by the staff at his headquarters in Beford. I arrived just as the “Meet The Press” debate was wrapping up.
I spent most of the next two and a half days with a phone attached to my ear. Not the most exciting stuff, but they fed us and I was able to stay with a fellow volunteer to avoid hotel costs. A few folks I talked to expressed frustration with the sheer number of calls they had been receiving, and I’ll bet more than a few answering machines were shut off. I hope I was able to swing a few votes.
On primary day, Mr. Santorum stopped by to give us some encouragement. I was fortunate enough to chat briefly with both him and his oldest daughter, Elizabeth.
That night, our band of volunteers headed to the reception hall. The television cameras and lights took up nearly half the room, and there were lots of reporters walking around. I spoke to one from the BBC. Another from the New York Times (who upon finding I worked for a newspaper) said “Oh, I can’t interview you.” I was purely on my own nickel, but rules are rules, I suppose.
Santorum and his family came out about 9:45, after Romney, Huntsman, and Ron Paul had spoken. He congratulated Romney on the win, and noted that he was “respecting the process” by competing in every state. We chanted “We pick Rick!” a few times, and I hit the road back to dear old Jamestown. Good weather and little traffic made for smooth sailing in both directions.
As for South Carolina, the question that led off the CNN debate two days prior to the primary was a fastball down the middle to Newt. Asked about an ABC News interview with his second wife who said that Gingrich asked her for an “open” marriage, Gingrich did his best impersonation of Capt. Renault from “Casablanca.” He was shocked, shocked to discover that CNN would ask him this. (“And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that,” were his exact words.) This is the guy whose entire staff quit on him in June 2011, who had a brief surge before Santorum passed him to win Iowa, and is now on life number three.
However, next is Florida. Where Iowa is a caucus, and New Hampshire and South Carolina allow independents to vote, Florida is a “closed” primary (i.e. Republicans only). According to a story on “The Fix” (Washington Post’s political corner, which I highly recommend), Gingrich’s surge from South Carolina is already leveling off.
My hope is a strong second for Santorum, knocking Newter down another peg or two. (In case you're wondering, my nickname of choice for Romeny is "Mittens.")
There’s a debate tonight (Jan. 26) on CNN, though Wolf Blitzer (not John King, who riled up Newt last time) will be the moderator.
By the way, in regards to "Super Tuesday?" One of the states voting that day is Ohio. Another road trip may be in the making.
A few thoughts on the State of the Union from Tuesday night:
I managed to stay awake. The video (full disclosure — from the Republican National Committee) says it pretty well. Same old song and dance. The number of “send me this bill” provided a few chuckles. I also found it interesting that as soon as President Obama started talking about the need to stand by Israel, BOOM — Chucky Schumer! Also, I enjoyed watching Joe Biden fiddle with handkerchiefs and cough drops. (If I had been back there with the way I sneeze, the Secret Service may have come rushing in thinking they heard a shot.)
Until next time, keep speaking Frankly! Aloha!
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