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Posts Tagged ‘Mitt Romney’



Checklist for Lt. Newsom; GOP Seeks Presidentials

Monday, January 31st, 2011

When Gavin Newsom made like Achilles and took to brooding in his tent, back in the dark days of 2009 after quitting the race for governor and before re-emerging as a candidate for lite gov, the ex-mayor of San Francisco imperiously mocked the state job he now holds:

“What does the lieutenant governor do?” he said at the time. “For the life of me, I don’t know.”

Today, as Calbuzz formally demotes Newsom from the rank of Prince Gavin to the status of Lieutenant Starbuck, our intrepid cartoonist Tom Meyer offers his own, extremely helpful, suggestion to get the good lieutenant started on a new job description.

“What should Newsom do with his time?” politics guru Jack Pitney recently remarked to the indefatigable Jack Chang. “Accept speaking invitations, do lots of talks, spend time with the family, help raise his kids. It’s essentially a non-job.”

It’s true, of course, that the lite gov’s most solemn constitutional duty is to get up every morning, make sure Governor Brown is still breathing and then go back to bed. And sure, there are plenty of boring and conventional ways for newly-elected Newsom to spend his days.

But in our unstinting efforts to find positive solutions to intractable problems – we’re from the press, we’re here to help! – we’ve come up with a short list of other assignments for Lt. Starbuck to not only make himself useful but also keep his handsome mug squarely on the political radar in Sacramento.

Become California’s Chief Deputy Recycling Officer. Newsom will never be able to match the legendary tree hugger cred of Brown, who was totally green long before Kermit the Frog. But between banning plastic water bottles and starting an organic garden at City Hall, the erstwhile prince built his own, not inconsiderable, rep as a verdant pol. So what better way to save the Earth, while simultaneously meeting and greeting the folks who matter in Sacramento, than by making daily rounds of the Capitol, collecting bottles, cans and unread newspapers (as most, sadly, are).

Stop the squirrels from panhandling in Capitol Park. As S.F. Mayor,  Newsom spent considerable time and political capital trying to tamp down the city’s well-earned image as a happy haven for aggressive, snarling street people. Now he has a splendid chance to apply those skills by forging a pragmatic but humane approach to handling the begging squirrels of Capitol Park (especially the nasty gray ones)– maybe with a new program for tourists to kick into a Rodent Food Bank instead of offering the annoying critters nuts and seeds on an individual basis.

Wash and service Kamala’s car. Sure, Attorney General Kamala Harris is Starbuck’s future rival for the Democratic nomination for governor, but unlike him, she has, you know,  an actual job. While saving the Department of Justice a few bucks by volunteering to change the oil and wax down Herself’s state-financed ride, Gavin might even generate a few extra bucks for the general fund by connecting with other customers in the Capitol’s basement garage.

Launch a new state escort service. A recent study found that Sacramento is one of the few towns west of the Mississippi with a healthy surplus of single women over men. Given that Gavin’s greatest political asset is his movie star mien – hey, is that Matthew McConaughey?-  why not put his good looks to work as the star attraction of California’s new Department of Arm Candy and Society Walkers, safely squiring unattached females to fundraisers and other big events in Sacramento’s non-stop social whirl?

Serve as the Legislature’s designated driver. Every year, it seems, at least one prominent state lawmaker gets stopped on a DUI, endangering his political career when word of his scandalous behavior reaches the district back home. What better insider gig for a guy with lots of time on his hands than hanging around the bar at Lucca and cheerfully grabbing the keys to ensure some soused solon gets safely tucked in bed?

Rearrange Jerry’s books. Our pal Greg Lucas recently provided a terrific guided tour through the eclectic and expansive personal library of Governor Gandalf, noting that his bookcase is “brimming — without organization — with topics like religion, urban planning, history, psychology and mysticism.”

Surely Gavin could earn himself some Brownie points – and begin working off the early demerits he racked up by undercutting Jerry’s bid to whack the U.C. budget – by spending a few hours getting the gubernatorial athenaeum in order, hopefully employing the Dewey decimal system, which the old-school Silver Fox would doubtlessly prefer.

On the day he was inaugurated this month, Newsom pathetically pleaded with reporters, who showed up to watch his swearing in but quickly decamped to fry some bigger fish: “This is the last time you’re going to want to talk to me,” he said. “Don’t forget me.”

No worries, lieutenant, we wouldn’t think of it.

.

Let the games begin: We hear the California Republican Party, struggling to recover its footing after getting pasted in November, is assiduously putting out feelers to potential 2012 presidential contenders in hopes of attracting some attention to its March 18-20 convention in Sacramento.

Party activists, of course, will be there to elect leaders, establish rules for top-two primaries and other fascinating chores, but whether normal people even notice the event may hinge on whether any presidentials come courting.

Included on the GOP’s wish list: Haley Barbour, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. Of course, they have to extend a warm invitation to Tundra Queen Sarah Palin, too, but we hear that some in the party dearly hope she won’t want to show, since she would consume all the oxygen and turn the convention into a Tea Party Extravaganza, when serious party rebuilding is what’s called for.

Calbuzz is not in the party building business but we sure would like to see the California GOP become relevant again in statewide elections: it’d be better for political reporters, not to mention democracy, if there was a little competition of ideas in California. That’s why we posted our Memo to the GOP (key item: figure out a way to support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants without sacrificing your Republican principles).

Meanwhile, back in the United States of Washington, D.C., the 2012 sweepstakes is already well underway. If you’re already behind — for shame! — here’s a preliminary reading list:

– Chris “The Fix” Cillizza offers an early line on the electoral college, concluding that Obama’s not nearly in the sad shape some would-be rivals would have you think.

– The Chron produced a swell set of charts for their pre-SOTU coverage comparing Obama’s standing on some economic and political measurables with those of recent presidents.

– The Times details how national political blogs are cranking up to go completely nuts with coverage.

Politico confirms the accuracy of the Times story.

– Politico also smokes out our own Rob Stutzman, a key 2008 Mitt Romney operative, to buttress their situationer showing that Mighty Mitt is encountering a level of skepticism among political professionals that’s hardly befitting an alleged front-runner:

“I’m keeping my powder dry for now,” said Stutzman, Romney’s top California adviser in 2008. “I think new congressional maps and Senate races may provide the most exciting campaign opportunities in ’12.”

At least since that whole Meg Whitman thing, anyway.

Why football is America’s Game: The Jets blew their chance at the Super Bowl with a bunch of dog-ass play calls in a crucial series at the Steelers’ goal line last week, which means the big game’s entertainment value will be considerably lessened without the performance art stylings of madman head coach Rex Ryan.

GOP Liveblog: Right-Wing Whacks eMeg Early

Friday, August 20th, 2010

SAN DIEGO — Even before Meg Whitman stepped up to address the Republican state convention here, leaders of the party’s grassroots right wing sharply criticized her stands on immigration and the environment, warning that many conservative voters might sit out the election if she takes their support for granted.

Top officials of the California Republican Assembly and Young Republican Federation of California told reporters covering the convention at San Diego’s Manchester Grand Hyatt that the GOP nominee for governor is making both an ideological error and a serious strategic mistake by moderating her earlier positions on illegal immigration, California’s climate change law and taxes, among other issues.

“There’s almost nothing left of the primary Meg,” said former CRA and GOP chairman Mike Schroeder.  “It’s time for the Republican Party to be officially concerned about whether or not Republicans are going to turn out for this ticket . . . if there’s no enthusiasm a lot of people don’t turn out at all.”

“Republicans are unified in their support for Meg Whitman both here at the convention and across the state,” replied Brian Seitchik, spokeman for the GOP.  Immigration and other issues will not fragment the party, he said. “The party is unified behind Meg because she has a plan to create jobs and that’s going to be the central issue in November.”

Despite assurances from Whitman loyalists in the party apparatus, the tone and substance of the comments by the conservative leaders showed that her brazen shift to the political center after portraying herself as a movement conservative in the primary is deeply upsetting some of the most loyal Republican voters.

Calbuzz asked this question: Do you think she is taking the conservative wing of the Republican Party for granted?

“Yes,” said Schroeder. “I think she assumes that people will look and say, ‘Well, the alternative is Jerry Brown.’ But that’s not true. The alternative to Jerry Brown is not voting at all, or voting for the Libertarian or somebody else. And that’s what a lot of the conversation is becoming.”

Because a state party convention is a kind of ideological hothouse, it is not clear whether the comments from the right-wing leaders represent an actual threat to Whitman’s chances in the general election against Democrat Jerry Brown, or more a intramural scuffle for the hearts and minds of the activists who populate these conventions. The CRA endorsed Steve Poizner, eMeg’s rival, as the preferred conservative in the GOP primary.

It didn’t help relations between the two sides, however, that the CRA was denied access to the official GOP press room and was forced to hold forth in a lobby.

The CRA is sponsoring a resolution, which they are trying to bring before the convention, that would put the party squarely on record in favor of both California’s Proposition 187 and the controversial Arizona law aimed at illegal immigrants. Whitman has said she would have opposed 187, if she was living in the state in 1994. And she has said that while the Arizona law is OK for Arizona, it’s impractical in California.

“That’s nonsense,” said Celeste Greig, president of the CRA. Greig said she is not  concerned that pushing Whitman to the right on the issue could backfire on her in the general election. “We are trying to help her. We want her to win. We want her to be successful. But we also want her to come aboard with the issues that we care about. We want her to stand strong on what she campaigned for in the primary election.”

As a political matter, however, the flap between Whitman and the right-wing overshadowed what Team Whitman had hoped would be the message of the day. Earlier in the day, her campaign produced an elaborately staged media event at a solar company in San Diego that was intended to showcase her alleged plan for dealing with California’s 12.5% unemployment; it was no accident that her convention speech was scheduled for late Friday evening, when it might be too late to get on TV news, and would get relatively short shrift in the poorly-read Saturday papers.

Even before the CRA news conference, eMeg managed to step on her own story in advance, when she told reporters at a press gaggle that, if elected governor, she would support a legal appeal by supporters of the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8, a position Gov. Schwarzenegger has refused to take.

But it’s Whitman’s waffling stance on illegal immigration (along with her refusal to endorse Prop. 23, overturning California’s climate-change law) that has her party’s right wing worried.

Adam Abrahms, president of the GOP youth federation said he’ll vote for Whitman but she’s not sure he can bring masses of cohorts along. “It’s a matter of enthusiasm. And I want all of our candidates to go out there and say the things and do the things that are going to help energize our base . . .  In 2008 I had a very difficult time motivating people to do something with  Mr. McCain. There was a big problem. They didn’t trust him,” he said.

Of course, McCain was Whitman’s candidate. After her first choice — Mitt Romney — fell by the wayside.

eMeg’s Secret Diary: Muffy and Bryce Come to Dinner

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Thanks to sources close to our imagination, Calbuzz brings you some purloined excerpts from Meg Whitman’s secret campaign diary.

Wednesday

Dear Diary,

So Muffy and Bryce came by last night for drinks and stayed for dinner, and they were absolutely mesmerized when I told them about my plan to create jobs, fix the schools and cut government spending.

Griff insisted we play charades, so I shoved him and smacked him around a little, but I have to admit he was very amusing when his turn came. His category was “books,” and he pantomimed performing neurosurgery on Arnold. The answer, of course, was “The Governor’s Brain is Missing.” Tres drole!

As I told Muffy, it was a real relief to spend a few hours away from all that campaign dreariness, especially those loathsome reporters and those sweltering people in Barstow and Indio and Weed, all of them snorting and hocking at their own jokes about how I should put their trailers and chain saws and snow machines up for sale on eBay, ha, ha, ha.

I had  Conchita whip up a quick cote de porc rotie, which was tasty, but the crostini for the soupe aux oignons were unspeakably soggy. So I had to box her ears a little. I simply refuse to let her fail.

Oh dear, someone’s tapping at the study door. Qui est la?

Later: So that was Henry, who’d completely failed at a very simple assignment I’d given him. I’d asked him to buy us at least one TV station in each major market, so we could stop paying retail for all this advertising. Instead he came back with some dithering excuse about the FCC or something.

So here’s what I thought about that: I had to chew him out, and then I gave him a couple of good swift Ferragamos to the shins and reminded him that I forbade him to fail.

Then I pushed him out the door, and told him to get back to it before I started eyeballing his expense sheets and he ended up like that poor Mark Hurd, with barely a penny to his name. Off he went.

Before I could get back to you, diary, it was the cell phone next (bless Sarah, the little minx, for finding that “God Save the Queen” ring tone – quelle amusant!). It was Murphy calling.

Of course he wanted to come over and talk about his script again. So I had to explain once more how focus is so important. So what I thought was, I’d tell him I’d like very much for him to give the movie project a rest and instead focus on getting me over 40 points some time before 2016, if it wasn’t too  much trouble.

But he insisted it was important to see me and before I could say no, I noticed that someone had emailed a photo. When I paused to open it, he rang off before I could stop him (reminder: tell him again to keep his shirt tucked in, or else I’ll have to shove him down the stairs).

I was so pleased to see the photo was from the boys. A mother’s biased, of course, but I must say they both look quite dashing in those orange fluorescent vests.

Now what is that commotion outside my window?

Later: Murphy’s come and gone – he wanted to know if I thought we should get Dennis Franz or Ned Beatty to play him in the movie (I suggested Danny DeVito – and thank you for asking).

In the meantime, those appalling nurses showed up on the south lawn again, parading around and beating their drums and doing their chants. All so tiresome. Although the crown on the Queen Meg person does look rather fetching, but that red velvet cape with the faux ermine will never do.

So I decided I’d have Lupe fetch a big pot of boiling oil which I thought I’d  pour down on those awful women, but as soon as I’d pushed her out of the way to lean out the window, Tucker came running in, insisting I couldn’t do that because the reporters might ask questions.

So I gave him a belt in the mouth, but then decided he might be right. So I just tossed a couple of paper weights and tennis racquets and that snow globe that plays “You are the wind beneath my wings” that Mitt gave me, and a candelabra or two down on them and that sent them scurrying off.

Oh dear, it’s past time to head for the Navigator and go meet (ugh) more  voters. Such a chore, though I’m certain they’ll be pleased to hear my plan for creating jobs, improving schools and cutting government spending.

More later, diary!

(Editor’s note: Monty Python scene a random bonus non sequitur.)

Thin Brown Line Between eMeg and the White House

Monday, June 7th, 2010

In the middle of a press scrum at the Republican state convention on March 12, Meg Whitman laughed out loud at a radio news reporter who asked her about her national political ambitions:

Ms. Whitman, would you commit to serving a full four-year term if you’re elected governor? There’s been talk of you as a national political figure.

Let’s just take it one step at a time. We haven’t even won the Republican primary yet.

With that small matter about to be dispensed with Tuesday, it’s high time to re-open the speculation about the 2016 Whitman for President campaign (for the record, she said she would “sure, absolutely”  finish one four-year term for governor) and break down the real from the surreal about that not-very-far-fetched scenario.

Barring a Lazarus-sized political miracle, Whitman will finally put Steve Poizner’s miserable campaign out of its misery tomorrow, promptly putting herself at the center of the nation’s political media conversation, where her high horsepower spin machine has already proved adept at stroking and feeding acolytes among the pundit class:

Meg Whitman is the most interesting person in American politics and, potentially, a formidable Republican leader at the national level…Like Ronald Reagan, she’s a well-known star from another field–the corporate world in Whitman’s case–who has entered California politics at the top and now intends to leapfrog an entire generation of ambitious political strivers…

But let’s assume Whitman is elected. She’d be governor of the biggest state, a brainy, conservative, accomplished woman at the top of the Republican ladder with precisely the experience that Sarah Palin lacks…When Reagan was elected governor in 1966, the speculation about national office–president, vice president–erupted instantly. If Whitman is elected in 2010, it will erupt again.

That conservative bloviator Fred Barnes wrote that over a year ago, at a time when eMeg had barely begun spending the $75-or-so million she’s since dug out of the sofa cushions to put her face in front of every Californian with a TV set four or five times a week, is a measure of how much thrill-up-the-leg excitement lies in store for us once she actually captures the damn nomination.

eMeg is about to go national in a big way and if Barnes is a bit, um, over-smitten in comparing her to the Gipper, he is most correct that being elected governor of California gives you automatic entry to the presidential speculation sweepstakes.

Think about it: the one question that’s never remotely been answered about her obsessive spending spree to buy the governorship is: Why the hell would she want the lousy job?  (And don’t tell us it’s because she had an epiphany and — barf — realized she “won’t let California fail”)

Put another way, why else has Meg Whitman “invested” –- that’s the word she invariably uses when she’s asked about her obscene campaign spending — more than $71 million of her own fortune to capture the Republican nomination for governor? And why is she prepared to spend at least as much in the general election?

Answer: Because she wants to be president of the United States .

How does Calbuzz know this? Because it’s the first of our Three Rules of Politics*: They all want to be president of the United States .

But only a few of them wind up in positions where it’s actually possible. And if eMeg can defeat Attorney General Jerry Brown in November, she would be perfectly poised, at age 60,  to run for president in 2016.

(Of course, there are a few wrinkles in the scenario. Mitt Romney, her 63-year old business and political mentor, has already moved into California as a base for his expected 2012 bid for president.  Having eMeg ensconced in Sacramento clearly wouldn’t hurt Mutt’s chances, and the narrative of the dynamic duo fighting bravely to turn California from blue to red would be catnip for the Fred Barneses of the world. It makes no sense for Meg, however, to even think about playing second fiddle on a Romney ticket, when she could bide her time and go after the big prize herself.)

Which means: It’s entirely possible that California Attorney General Jerry Brown is the only thing standing between Meg Whitman and the White House.

This is not a comforting thought, especially since we have no experience on which to predict the standard quantum limit  effect of $150 million in campaign spending by a candidate for governor.

Normally, one would expect that Whitman would have a hard time winning back the moderates, independents, women and Latinos she has alienated by taking knuckle-dragging, uber-nasty arch-conservative positions in the primary in order to win the hearts and minds of the GOP.

But we don’t know whether, by spending untold sums on campaign propaganda, Whitman will be able to obliterate the collective memory voters might otherwise have of her lurch to the right. Expect November Meg to look nothing like June Meg. She’ll be bright, sunny and inclusive, not the snarling, slashing attack machine she’s been in the primary.

So what’s Jerry Brown’s challenge? To win the independents –  20% of the electorate, compared to 45% Democrat and 31% Republican. And how can he and his independent allies do that? By:

1) Reminding voters about Goldman Sachs and eMeg’s special, elite deals and her failure even to be a voter, much less a problem solver for California.

2) Reminding voters of her flip-floppy positions on choice and offshore oil drilling, her assault on environmental regulation (especially AB 32) and her anti-Mexican-immigrant stand on border security.

3) Explaining how differently he would address spending and taxes, fairness and justice, public employees and education. His curbside, man-on-the-street populism versus her protect-the-rich, attack-the-worker program.

He won’t have $75 million so he’d better have some damn effective allies and he’d better generate some enthusiasm.

And thank you for that.

*The other two rules: The conventional wisdom is always wrong and; Nobody knows anything.

Two Weeks to Go: Calderon Meets Condoleezza

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Two weeks before the June 8 primary election, the fight for the Republican nomination for governor has come down to this: Raising Arizona vs. Big Love.

As Meg Whitman rolled out a new ad, featuring her Mormon mentor Mitt Romney and a cast of thousands attesting to her conservative bona fides, Steve Poizner doubled down with his own spot, whacking his rival for not backing The Grand Canyon State’s illegal immigration crackdown law.

After more than a year of campaigning, and in excess of $100 million in collective spending, eMeg and The Commish have begun making their final arguments to GOP voters, each trying to define the election with the same basic message: I’m the true right-winger in this race.

Two moderate Republicans trying to tart themselves up as right-wingers, Her Megness and Poiz have both sought to expose their rival as a liberal-in-drag , pointing fingers and hurling mighty oaths at the other over  character – You’re a non-voting, Wall Street scumbag pornographer! No, you’re a partial birth abortion-loving, lying hypocrite! – and ideology – You’re a Jarvis-hating, solar panel-hugging union tool! No, you’re a tax-loving, smelt-smooching,  Van Jones fellow traveler!

Because both are hobbled in making their case to the right-wing voters who dominate Republican primaries in California by the lack of a long or consistent conservative record, it’s not surprising, as they enter the stretch run, that the latest ad for each rests on third-party validators – and invalidators – to establish movement authenticity cred.

Whitman’s latest ad takes the more direct approach.

She trots out a trio of iconic conservative Republicans to testify on her behalf. Mindful that Poizner has undermined her with his Goldman Sachs attacks, presidential wannabe Romney praises her “integrity,” while Condoleeza Rice lends her hard-line rep as George Bush’s National Security Advisor and Secretary of State to endorsing eMeg’s “values” and “strength” and Prop. 13 guru Jon Coupal blesses her as the “only one real fiscal conservative” who will protect taxpayers.

“Strong…fiscal conservative…leader,” the three say serially to end the spot.

Poizner takes an oppositional approach, employing anti-endorsements to send a message on immigration as a signifier of his conservative credentials.

Not since John C. Fremont opened a can of whupass on the forces of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna  has anyone taken a  bigger swing at Mexico: using a news clip of Felipe Calderon’s speech to Congress last week, during which he bashed the new Arizona law, the ad directly links Whitman and the Mexican president as backers of amnesty and anything-goes immigration policy on one side, and Poizner squarely on the other, as it builds on a previous spot connecting eMeg to the alleged policy of President Obama.

“Do you want a governor who has the same position on illegal immigration as the president of Mexico?” the announcer intones.

Messaging aside, three more key points:

1-From what we can glean, eMeg is still out-spending Poizner about 2-to-1 heading into the final days; he’s already got a decidedly uphill fight and, without forking out significantly more cash, it’s hard to see how he pulls it out.

2-Whatever else the ad war has accomplished, it’s a safe bet that it’s driven the negatives of both Republicans way up. We’ll know more after seeing the USC/LA Times and Field polls but we hear that favorability ratings among general election voters for Whitman and Poizner are both under water – about 3-to-4 negative – while Brown’s is up to about 5-to-3 in positive territory.

3-If that’s the case,  whoever wins the GOP nomination  may want to spend some time digging out of their negative favorability hole before attacking Brown. And that would be a huge relief to Krusty  who’s been able to save cash and political capital while  lambasting his GOP rivals as “apostles of ignorance and darkness.”

“ I don’t think they’re even healthy for the mind,” Brown said of the two ad campaigns last week. ” I think they’re contaminating the children who may see these things.”

Jerry’s Cash Cache

Back in the first week of May, when Calbuzz first reported on the California Democratic Party’s Goldman Sachs anti-Whitman TV ad masquerading as an “issues ad,” we had what we thought was solid information from Democratic sources that the CDP’s initial buy – of just under $1 million – would be followed by a couple more weeks.

Since Attorney General Jerry Brown had raised the money for the CPD’s ad buy, it made sense that the ad would keep running for a while in hopes of weakening Whitman’s favorability among Democrats, independents and perhaps even some Republicans. (BTW, it was when we tried to discuss this with CDP Chairman John Burton that he said fuck you told us to go fuck ourselves.)

Well, something happened that our sources didn’t anticipate: with the CPD ad in the mix while Steve Poizner was unloading ads on Whitman about Goldman Sachs, illegal immigration and her voting record, eMeg’s favorability ratings got so bad so fast, Krusty the General Brown – a renowned cheapskate – decided he didn’t need to spend all that money on the Goldman ad.

Which is where the $2.25 million came from that Brown received on Friday from the California Democratic Party. Which is part of the reason we won’t be too surprised if, when Brown’s next money report is filed, he has about $20 million on hand.

Stupid Poll Tricks

Remember when we mentioned that the Survey USA poll on May 10 that found Whitman with a mere 2-point lead over Poizner was most likely a pile of horse manure? Well lo and behold, Survey USA, with its fancy schmancy robotic pre-recorded calls, now says Whitman leads 54-27. Of course, there’s no explanation why Poizner would have dropped 10 points or why Whitman would have picked up 15. But who cares? It’s all just numbers, right?

The Daily Kos poll, by Research 2000, which has Whitman leading Poizner 46-36%, sounds more sound to us.

Get a room, willya?: Mickey Kaus, the blogosphere’s favorite son candidate for U.S. Senate, wants Barbara Boxer to meet him at the Holiday Inn.