Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mitt Romney Emerging As Top VP Choice For John McCain, While Longshot Sarah Palin Slowly Engulfed In Growing Scandal

Stranger marriages have been contracted in politics. In 1960, two polar opposites, Lyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy, teamed up to put JFK in the White House. The two reportedly could barely tolerate each others presence.

And so it's looking more and more like two other relatively contrasting politicos may be laying the groundwork for a similar "Odd Couple" tag team. On July 19th, 2008, the Salt Lake Tribune reports that John McCain and Mitt Romney have taken serious steps to reconcile their differences. From a tactical and strategic standpoint, a McCain-Romney tag team would clearly be the strongest possible combination to confront Barrack Obama.

Not that constructing the nascent alliance has been easy. The Tribune reminds us that serious differences existed between McCain and Romney during the primary campaign. To wit:

- On immigration, Romney derided McCain's failed immigration bill as amnesty, and said that all illegal immigrants should be sent back to their home countries before they are allowed to apply for citizenship; McCain said that they should be forced to pay a fine and learn English, but should be allowed to stay in the United States.
- On the environment, Romney scorned McCain's "cap and trade" proposal to limit carbon emissions, saying it would amount to an energy tax on families.
- On the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, which McCain vowed to close, Romney said at a debate: "Some people have said we ought to close Guantánamo. My view is, we ought to double Guantánamo."
- On waterboarding, Romney declined to characterize that interrogation tactic, a simulated drowning technique, as torture. McCain chided him, saying that it was.

But aides to both men say they have worked to overcome any lingering hard feelings. And while McCain has a reputation for a short temper, he is also known for both seeking and granting forgiveness. After his own bruising primary fight against George W. Bush in 2000, he became a major supporter of Bush in 2000 and 2004. But Romney has not been idle. He has been serving as a "wingman" for McCain, appearing on a nunmber of talking-head shows where he promoted McCain's economic proposals. He has dutifully raised money for McCain. And Romney has also developed a reputation as a campaign surrogate who can talk fluently about the economy.

And the pundits are picking up on this change and reflecting it in their discourse. In the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza, who edits a political blog called "The Fix", posted his latest analysis of the VP sweepstakes. He rates Mitt Romney the number one candidate in the Republican "Veepstakes". Here's Cillizza's top five selections for each party, in ascending order:

DEMOCRATS: Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Jack Reed, Tim Kaine, and Evan Bayh.

REPUBLICANS: Sarah Palin, John Thune, Rob Portman, Tim Pawlenty, and Mitt Romney.

And here's what Cillizza has to say about Mitt Romney:

A slew of national polls released in the last week all show Americans are deeply worried about the economy and that it will be their number one priority when they step into the ballot box in the fall. With the economy ascendant as an issue, Romney, a successful businessman who not only talks the talk but can walk the walk, just makes sense as the pick. Add to that his appeal in the swing states of Michigan and New Hampshire and his demonstrated fundraising ability and it seems like a no-brainer. Except that McCain -- more so than almost any other politician at this level -- prizes personal relationships. And, although the two men are not at daggers-drawn anymore, they will never be close friends.


While Cillizza is obviously not ready to pronounce marriage between the two, he is at least cautiously optimistic. A Los Angeles Times blog also addresses this issue, but provides some different analyses.

Unfortunately, Cillizza's short list for Republicans has one name that may no longer belong. It appears that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is slowly being engulfed by a scandal of her own making. One particular post on the Alaska Pride blog seems to sum it up.

On Friday, July 11th, before flying off to the Governor's Conference in Philadelphia, Governor Palin instructed her chief of staff to fire Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. However, the Palin camp initially refused to give a reason, simply stating that DPS "needed to move in a different direction". Then it came out that Palin has been pursuing a personal vendetta against Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten, filing endless complaints against him before she was elected Governor in 2006. Undermining the veracity of the complaints was the fact that Wooten had divorced Palin's younger sister, thus it is believed that Palin was trying to get back at him by filing spurious complaints. Then reports emerged of Palin putting pressure on Monegan to fire Wooten, reports that Palin vociferously denied.

On Friday June 18th, Monegan dropped the bomb, claiming that the Palin Administration had applied serious and persistent pressure on him to fire Wooten. Oops, a bit of a disconnect! To get a bigger picture of this growing scandal, read this series of Alaska Pride posts, as well as key blog posts by former Alaska State Representative Andrew Halcro, HERE and HERE. All references also contain numerous Alaska media story links.

While Palin is probably in no danger of impeachment, state lawmakers are calling for an investigation, and her 85 percent approval rating has melted away overnight. Most importantly, McCain can no longer afford to consider her as a possible running mate.

Nevertheless, the possibility for a McCain-Romney marriage does exist, and could work. While Romney's Mormonism might still be considered a burden in Bible Belt states, the fact is that opposition to Romney's religion seems to have softened. Ironically, the FLDS may bear some responsibility for that change; many people, including evangelicals, were outraged at the ham-handed treatment dispensed to the FLDS by the Texas Child Protective Services agency. So even though there is no official connection between the FLDS and the mainstream LDS, the sympathy factor could help soften evangelical opposition to Romney.

One fact seemingly beyond debate - Mitt Romney owns Utah. See this companion Salt Lake Tribune story.

10 comments:

Ted said...

Boy, it didn't take you Romney supporters long to pounce on Sarah Palin.

By the way, case closed, with Palin coming out of it with, what is, a net plus, and looking better than ever!!!

I just wish McCain would name Palin Veep already so the real fun could begin!

Ted said...

Oh, and here's the link --

http://palinforvp.blogspot.com/2008/07/video-response-th-andrew-halcros.html

Deseret Dawg said...

Sorry, Ted, I don't see how Sarah Palin could benefit John McCain on the ticket after this. Imagine how Obama and his contingent would react to a McCain running mate who's fighting allegations of abuse of power. They'd have a field day.

As it stands right now, the prospective race between McCain and Obama is far too close. McCain can't afford that type of baggage.

Ted said...

I'm going to assume you make your comment "abuse of power" without reading my above posting's link.

If, after reading the whole quickly developing story, where Palin is coming out "smelling like a rose", you can still say what you say, then be my guest -- because, with all due rsepect, you are more than deluding yourself.

Have you read the link I provided, with videos and all the postings?

I think not.

And finally, if you check around, Romney's got more negatives than positives in terms of garnering more voters for McCain, whereas Palin's positives are off the chart!

Liz Black said...

Actually, unless she applies some serious spin control, this is only the beginning of Palin's troubles. She claims she wants to take the department in a new direction, fires a well-respected commissioner that was well-liked by the rank and file troopers and hired a guy with half the experience who will toe the line -- meaning cut the budget of a department has has been suffering understaffing, recruitment and support woes for years. When it finally looked like the department was addressing the numerous public safety concerns in Alaska (including the highest sexual abuse and sexual abuse of a minor rate in the country) and supporting people within its department, Palin yanks the rug out from under the commissioner. Heck, she doesn't like troopers to begin with because of all the business over her sister's messy divorce (the sister is on her third marriage by the way). Palin's trouble with the ex-brother-in law is actually only a sidebar. Halcro, while biased to begin with, isn't very far off the mark in his assumptions. But this is bigger than the heat over not firing a trooper. While on one side of her mouth she asking all departments to cut $2 million out of their budgets, she's offering Alaskans a one-time $1,200 check to help with the high cost of energy instead of using that oil money to strengthen the state's infrastructure, find new sources of energy to take the place of dwindling supplies and increase public safety, the same thing she is undermining by this entire charade. Besides, Palin doesn't have the experience and foreign policy knowledge it takes to enter the big league. She does have one thing on her side -- a son in the U.S. Army.

Ted said...

Liz, in reply to your points, Dave II on the Palin fof VP blogsite says it bette than I can:

"...Let's face it, Moneghan was in the tank for the Public Safety Employees Association...the union for the Troopers. When the HEAD of a company is basically a pawn of the union...do you think some wasteful spending might occur? Damn right!
One issue is PAID FOR time that was BEYOND the troopers shift. "One of the accusations from the union: the hours some troopers put in NOT during their shift might not get paid." Think there is a possiblity of some "gaming" the system to rake in overtime pay? I do. Now.."the word from command is that there will be closer scrutiny of how these call outs will be used, and some people may be called out, and not be paid for it." Good!!

...Lastly, the whole issue of Alaskan's safety and security in such a vast rural state...it's perplexing to see, if Moneghan was doing such a good job, then WHY(according to the union) is Alaska
"number one in forcible rape, number three in aggravated assault, number 15 in car theft and number 22 in murder and manslaughter". If you see that you might wonder WHY Palin wants to cut their budget?.. Well, basically to CUT THE FAT and be able to hire MORE TROOPERS on the ground! ""We need between 150 to 200 more troopers to make Alaska safe," said Cyr.

The Palin Admininistration does not dispute the numbers.

"The governor is horrified at the statistics and is focusing on the goals of recruiting more qualified troopers to provide safety for our state," said Leighow."

The troopers union says Monegan had improved morale from the start. So why fire him?"

BECAUSE HE WAS IN YOUR POCKET and that's NOT WHERE HE BELONGED!!!

Trooper officials say the budget was cut, but they were still able to do their job and keep people safe.

"It didn't mean that we lost any officers," said Holloway, "It meant that we had to cut back in different places."

Yeah...like the FAT in your system!

(The MORE I hear about this the MORE I think Sarah would make a great VP...or even President some day!)"

Ted said...

And Liz, regarding Palin, you say "not big league", no "foreign policy knowledge".

Would you say the same about Charlie Crist, albeit Palin's been governor longer? What about ANY governor insofar as "foreign policy knowledge". Is Palin any less? Seems to me your "big league" and "foreign policy knowledge" arguments are a bit sexist, Palin being merely a woman in your eyes, so I guess not "big league" like Romney, Pawlenty or Sanford for example -- in spite of the fact that Alaska is at the center of the nation's major energy issue.

And, moreover, Alaska is separated from the lower 48 and borders two major countries which with Alaska has relations and interactions, Russia and Canada --and considerable in the case of Canada.

And finally, "not big league" or "experienced" compared to whom? Compared to Obama? Next to Obama, Palin's got 10 times the actual accomplishments, qualifications and experience; so if Sarah's detractors want to make an issue of that, that would be rich indeed, and I say, bring it on!!!

Deseret Dawg said...

Ted - if you think Palin's popularity is still off the chart, perhaps you better read the comments appended to the various media stories in the Anchorage Daily News. She's getting a pasting from at least two-thirds of the posters, by my raw estimation.

As for trooper strength, there are 395 funded positions, but 56 are currently unfilled. Monegan was doing as well as can be expected under those limitations. Rising fuel costs have restricted trooper response. More funding is needed.

Ironic that the troopers were happy under Monegan's regime, while the corrections officers are on the brink of revolt under Joe Schmidt. Yet Schmidt is still on the job.

Ted said...

Desert dawg, what does it say that you, a Romny advocate, must persist in tearing down Palin -- a very good GOPer with a proven track record (in what I think are real stretches on your part) in order to build up Romney.

Bottom line, Romney is a very good man but he will be a drag on McCain's ticket; Palin will be a definite vote-getter, broadening the voter base. I have to assume Team McCain is fully aware of this; hence my view is Palin, not Romney, will be tapped.

pastormike said...

Romney for VP?? Do you remember the attack ads from the primarys that Romney put out against McCain?? Do you remember the video of Romney saying McCain is dishonest? It would be a gift to the dnc to make Romney McCains VP. You can go to

http://www.HotPres.com

to see all the attack ads that Romney put out against McCain, You can also see the video of Romney calling McCain dishonest. Romney would be a big mistake. I would rather have t boon pickin then romney. lol. Least he has a plan.
http://www.tboonepickin.com

I suggest you go look at the attack ads Romney put out against mccain at the above site. Before you make up your mind about Romney being a great VP.