Posts Tagged mitt romney

Why is the Party of Free Enterprise Afraid of Competition?

An early, but unofficial, entry into the 2016 Presidential race by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush jump started the fight for the Republican presidential nomination.  National party leaders are working hard to see that it also ends early. This in the mistaken belief that a battle lasting deep into the primary season harmed Mitt Romney in 2012 and would likewise handicap the party’s 2016 nominee.

The theory is hold the intra-party skirmishing to a minimum, identify the nominee early, give the new standard bearer more time to organize and prepare for the General Election campaign.   The problem with that reasoning is that it cuts voters in most states out of the candidate selection process depriving the ultimate nominee of a solid base of support.  It also puts an early bullseye on the nominee giving Democrats more time to attack – which is precisely what Barack Obama did in the spring and early summer of 2012.

Those unwilling to admit the party nominated a deeply flawed candidate in 2012 point to the supposed “lengthy” primary battle as a reason for his defeat.  The fact is Mitt Romney essentially wrapped up the nomination by mid-April before primary voters in some of the more populous states, including Pennsylvania and California, went to the polls.  Four years earlier, John McCain closed the door on Romney and a large field of candidates by mid-February.  Despite the early end to that primary season McCain also went down to defeat.

There is an argument to be made that contests lasting deep into the primary season better prepares the candidate for the fall campaign.  In 2008 it was June before Hillary Clinton conceded defeat to Barack Obama.  Obama, of course, beat McCain who had the luxury of having wrapped up his nomination months earlier.  In 1980, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush battled until late May before Bush ended his quest for the nomination.  In fact, Reagan lost many early primaries that year before finding his footing, emerging victorious and eventually defeating incumbent President Jimmy Carter in November.

The real reason the establishment wants to truncate the nomination race is so that it can exert more control over the ultimate nominee.  A shorter primary and caucus season makes it more difficult for a grassroots candidate to emerge and plays to the advantage of those with the party machinery behind them.  This, of course, makes it far less likely a candidate from the conservative wing of the party claims the nomination.

To push for such a scenario ignores the central lesson of the 2012 nomination process.  Voters four years ago made it abundantly clear they did not want Mitt Romney as their nominee.  Romney was not a front-runner until very late in the process.  As alternatives to Romney emerged his campaign destroyed them one by one in an electoral version of whack-a-mole.  Tim Pawlenty, Michelle Bachman, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, each surged to the top of the polls only to be destroyed by Romney.  Even after all of that, the movement of just a few thousand voters in the Michigan and Ohio primaries would have given the nomination to Santorum.

Voters wanted anybody but Romney, but the establishment prevailed, ended the contest halfway through the primary calendar and anointed a candidate who went on lose an eminently winnable general election.  The GOP lost the presidency in 2012 not because the primary season went on too long; it lost because it ignored the message being sent by voters.

Headed into 2016 the national GOP hopes to arrive at a nominee early in the year.  With a large field of highly qualified candidates that would be yet another big mistake.  It is important that voters all across America get the opportunity to participate in the process.  The goal should be to nominate a candidate who can win, not to nominate a candidate quickly.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  His e-mail address is

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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This Week on American Radio Journal: Congressman Paul Ryan Talks Renewing America

Radio Program Schedule for the week of August 30, 2014 – September 5, 2014

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Jim Phillips of the Heritage Foundation about the origin and goals of the terrorist group ISIS
  • Barney Keller of the Club for Growth has the Real Story on the strange alliance of big business and Left-wing Democrats in support of the Export-Import Bank
  • Eric Boehm and Benjamin Yount have a Watchdog Radio Report interview with Congressman Paul Ryan about his new book The Way Forward: Renewing the American Ideal
  • Col. Frank Ryan, USMC (Ret.) has an American Radio Journal commentary on a possible major correction in the stock markets

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • Eric Boehm has news headlines from
  • David Taylor of the PA Manufacturers Association along with Kevin Shivers and Neal Lesher from the PA Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business have a Capitol Watch look at the Tom Wolf tax plan
  • Lowman Henry has a Town Hall Commentary on why a third Mitt Romney presidential run would be bad for the GOP

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

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Romney Redux Wrong

Mitt Romney is back.  After losing the 2012 presidential race to Barack Obama the defeated Republican nominee stepped out of the spotlight and into what many thought would be a long, quiet retirement from political life.  In recent weeks, as the Obama Administration has descended into chaos and near irrelevancy, Mitt Romney has re-emerged singing the sweetest refrain in politics: “I told you so.”

The former Massachusetts governor and his erstwhile running mate Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin were reunited recently and the gathering ended with Ryan – himself considered to be a 2016 presidential contender – wishing for another Romney run. Speculation about a possible third Romney presidential bid has grown as buyers’ remorse over an increasingly distant and detached Barack Obama grows and no clear front-runner has emerged from the current crop of potential GOP presidential candidates.

But Ryan’s wishful thinking might be a disaster in the making for the GOP. There are reasons why Romney lost in 2012 despite the unpopularity of Obamacare and the lingering Great Recession. Romney would not only be fighting past demons, he would also be trying to accomplish something very rare in presidential politics: being nominated for a second time and winning after having lost.

Since the advent of the current two-party system in the mid-1800s no nominee has lost a presidential election and come back four years later to claim the White House.  The only successful two time nominee was Richard M. Nixon, who lost to John F. Kennedy in 1960, but then sat out the 1964 election before running and winning in 1968.   Three others have been nominated by their party in consecutive elections, and all lost.

William Jennings Bryan was nominated by the Democrats in 1896 and 1900 losing to Republican William McKinley. Bryan was nominated again in 1908, losing that election to William Howard Taft.  Thomas Dewey received back-to-back Republican nominations in 1944 and 1948, losing to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman.  The Democrats tried sticking with the same horse in 1952 and 1956, but Adlai Stevenson lost to Dwight Eisenhower both times.

In an historic anomaly, incumbent Grover Cleveland lost the 1888 presidential election to Benjamin Harrison, but was renominated by the Democrats in 1892 and became the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms.

Setting the unique circumstance of Grover Cleveland aside, you have to go all the way back to the election of 1840 to find the last time a presidential candidate received consecutive party nominations and won after having lost.  In 1836 William Henry Harrison lost to Martin Van Buren, but was renominated by the Whigs and ousted Van Buren in 1840.  Even that didn’t end well as Harrison became the first U.S. president to die in office just one month after taking the oath.

Romney’s difficulty in mounting yet another presidential bid is more than just historic.  Recall that during the 2012 nomination contest GOP voters turned to a number of other suitors before Romney prevailed.  At various times Michelle Bachman, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and finally Rick Santorum surged ahead of Romney who prevailed only by capitalizing on the mistakes of the other candidates and incinerating them with negative television ads.

It was clear Republican primary voters were desperately seeking an alternative to Romney.  Despite a high level of GOP antipathy toward Barack Obama, a predicted Republican edge in voter turn-out failed to materialize in November of 2012.  That was due partly to the Romney campaign’s ineptitude at running a get-out-the-vote effort, but also reflected a general lack of enthusiasm for the candidate, especially among the conservative grassroots.

As the Republican Party begins the process of selecting its next nominee it should remember that presidential campaigns are about the future, not the past.  It is the candidate who offers the best hope for the future who wins. Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, although polar opposites, each appealed to America’s hopes and dreams for the future.

We cannot go “back to the future” in 2016.  The time has come to move past the Romneys, Bushes and Clintons and, as John F. Kennedy once observed, pass the torch to a new generation of Americans.  The party that does that best will be the one which next occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal. His e-mail address is

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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This Week on American Radio Journal: John Gizzi’s Election Predictions

Radio Program Schedule for the week of November 3, 2012 – November 9, 2012

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Adam Tragone has an Off the Cuff wrap-up of the Presidential, U.S. Senate and U.S. House races with Human Events Political Editor and White House correspondent John Gizzi
  • Lowman Henry gets the Real Story about what issues will top the agenda when congress returns to work from Andy Roth of the Club for Growth
  • Colin Hanna of Let Freedom Ring, USA has an American Radio Journal commentary on White House stonewalling over Bengazi

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • Eric Boehm and Melissa Daniels have news headlines from
  • Lowman Henry has a Newsmaker interview with Dr. John Goodman from the Center for Policy Analysis about reforming health care
  • Joe Geiger has a Community Benefit Spotlight on the role of nonprofits in dealing with the effects of Hurricane Sandy
  • Col. Frank Ryan, USMC (Ret.) has a Lincoln Radio Journal commentary on the economic impact of deflation

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

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PA GOP National Convention Delegation: Government An Adversarial Force

Ninety-eight percent of delegation is conservative, just 2% moderate

“Our rights come from nature and God, not from government. That’s who we are. That’s how we built this country. That’s who we are. That’s what made us great. That’s our founding. We promise equal opportunity, not equal outcomes.”

Those were among the first words spoken by Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin upon becoming Mitt Romney’s Vice Presidential running mate. Those few sentences cut to the core principles upon which America was founded and resonated with a Republican Party base longing to rekindle the fervor of the Reagan years.

A Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research survey of Pennsylvania Delegates and Alternate Delegates to the Republican National Convention found Ryan’s words struck a chord. Ninety-eight percent of those responding to the survey agreed that our basic rights as Americans are God-given, while just 2% felt such rights were granted by government.

The Pennsylvania delegation also strongly views the Federal government as part of the problem, not part of the solution, with 90% saying the federal government is an adversarial force, and the rest believing the federal government is a positive force.

National Issues

In terms of the issues facing our nation, Pennsylvania’s Republican National Convention delegation rated the most serious problems as: the economy, federal government spending, federal budget deficit, Obamacare, and the unemployment rate.   Rated as the least serious issues were global warming, gay marriage, the mortgage/banking crisis, the war in Afghanistan, and abortion.

Pennsylvania’s GOP delegates/alternate delegates were strongly united in their view that the Obama Administration’s foreign policies have made the United States less secure with 89% holding that opinion. Even more, 92% disapproved of the President’s handling of the war in Afghanistan. There is less agreement on two other pressing foreign policy issues. Seventy-three percent think the United States should intervene militarily in Syria, but 28% disagree. Sixty-one percent believe America should intervene militarily to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, with 39% in disagreement.

On no issue, however, is there more agreement among the delegation than on the economy. Unanimously, 100% view the economy as off in the wrong direction. And, 93% place the blame squarely on President Barack Obama. Sixty-one percent also fault congress, and 59% place blame on the Federal Reserve. Twenty-six percent hold former President George W. Bush culpable for the nation’s economic ills.

Speaking of the former president, 70% of Pennsylvania’s Republican National Convention delegation believes the Bush-era tax rates should be made permanent for all Americans regardless of income. Nine percent want the tax rates made permanent for families earning under $250,000 per year. Another 13% think the Bush era tax rates should be temporarily extended for all Americans. Only 4% support reinstating the pre-Bush tax cut rates. The delegation is split over the future of the payroll (Social Security) tax cuts. Forty-eight percent favors extending the Obama payroll tax cuts, 52% oppose any extension. Wide agreement returns among the delegates on the subject of cutting rates on capital gains, with 83% supporting such cuts. Eighty-nine percent supports eliminating the estate or “death tax” entirely, while 7% favor cutting the rate.   Ninety-three percent of the delegation supports lowering personal income tax rates as a means of stimulating economic growth.

Spending cuts are the weapon of choice for balancing the federal budget. Seventy-four percent of Pennsylvania’s delegation to the 2012 Republican National Convention favors spending cuts only to reduce the deficit. Another 26% support a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes. Not a single respondent supported only raising taxes to reduce the deficit. There is also strong opposition to raising the U.S. government’s debt ceiling. Ninety-six percent oppose raising it. Unanimity among the delegates was also achieved on the issue of allowing younger Americans to invest a portion of their Social funds in personal savings accounts outside the current Social Security system, with 100% in agreement. Sixty-seven percent think Social Security will be around for future generations of Americans, but with substantial changes. Thirty-four percent believe the system is headed for bankruptcy.

Seventy percent of the delegation supports term limits on members of Congress, while 30% oppose term limits. A sizable majority of the delegation, 81%, also believes that earmarks, or specific spending directed by Members of Congress, are wasteful spending. Twenty-three percent feel earmarks are an appropriate way to allocate funds.

State Issues

The Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research also asked the Delegates and Alternate Delegates to the 2012 Republican National Convention their views on a range of state issues.

On the subject of taxes, 58% said that the state personal income tax rate is too high, 39% say it is about right, and 6% say personal income tax rates are too low. However, 92% of the respondents said business taxes are too high, and 8% said they are about right. Nobody thought business taxes were too low. Seventy-five percent said they would not support an increase in the state gasoline tax to fund infrastructure (highway) improvements. Twenty-five percent would back higher taxes for that purpose. Sixty-percent also oppose an increase in vehicle registration and/or driver license fees for highway improvements. Forty percent said they could support increasing fees for such a purpose.

Seventy-one percent of the delegation said they feel the property tax-based system currently utilized by school districts, counties and local government to fund services is unfair to most segments of their community. Twenty-nine percent see property taxes as fair. Fifty percent of the delegates/alternate delegates participating in the poll said they would favor a more broad based state sales tax at the current rate as a means of replacing real estate or property taxes. Twenty-six percent said they would support replacing property taxes with a combination of local sales and earned income taxes while 18% percent would back local sales taxes only. Another 13% would support increasing the state sales tax rate to replace property taxes.

In terms of public education; 65% of the delegation feel the Corbett Administration’s cuts in K-12 public education are about right; 19% say they are not deep enough and 17% say the cuts are too deep. Eighty-six percent of the delegation supports the concept of school choice when that involves giving vouchers or grants so that students can attend a public school in a district other than their own.

There is also concern over the level of the Commonwealth’s indebtedness. Ninety-six percent of the state’s delegation to the 2012 Republican National Convention believes the commonwealth’s debt load is currently too high. Another four percent say debt levels are about right. When it comes to Pennsylvania’s general fund budget, 63% say overall state spending is too high, 35% believe it is about right, and 2% say it is too low.

Labor power issues have been at the top of the agenda in many states. Ninety-six percent of Pennsylvania’s national convention delegates and alternates support enactment of a Right to Work law, meaning that a worker cannot be fired or kept from having a job for either joining or not joining a labor union. Eighty percent support a ban on allowing public school teachers to strike.

Finally, there was unanimous opinion behind a proposal to privatize the state’s liquor store system. Eighty-four percent of the delegation strongly supports such a ban, with 16% somewhat in favor.


When asked their political ideology, not a single member of the Pennsylvania Delegation to the Republican National Convention admitted to being a liberal, with just one claiming to be a moderate. Ninety-eight percent of the delegation labeled themselves conservative, with 58% saying there are very conservative.


The Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc. conducted its survey of Delegates and Alternate Delegates to the 2012 Republican National Convention electronically from August 14, 2012 thru August 22, 2012. A total of 56 members of the delegation participated in the poll. Complete numeric results are available on-line at

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This Week on Lincoln Radio Journal: Melissa Hart talks Paul Ryan

Radio Program Schedule for the week of August 18, 2012 – August 24, 2012

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Gene Healy of the Washington Examiner and the CATO Institute about Washington, D.C. prospering while the nation suffers
  • Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story on U.S. Senate primaries in Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Connecticut
  • Adam Tragone and John Gizzi of Human Events have an Off the Cuff discussion on the selection of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate
  • Dr. Paul Kengor from the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College has an American Radio Journal commentary on Barack Obama’s mentor

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • Eric Boehm has news headlines from
  • Kevin Shivers from the PA Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business and Matthew Brouillette of the Commonwealth Foundation have a Capitol Watch roundtable discussion with former Pennsylvania Congresswoman Melissa Hart about Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate
  • Lowman Henry has a Town Hall Commentary on why the Penn State Board of Trustees should resign

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

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Time Out: Rick Santorum Puts Presidential Hopes on Hold

Rick Santorum has ended – for now – one of the most improbable presidential campaigns in modern American history. From bouncing through the cornfields of Iowa in a pick-up truck owned by a guy named Chuck, to his emergence as the main competitor to GOP front-runner Mitt Romney, the former Pennsylvania senator revived a political career once given up for dead.

Perhaps the most important decision Mr. Santorum made was the one to quit. The delegate math made it clear he could not win the nomination outright, forcing him to pin his hopes on the unlikely scenario of a contested convention in Tampa Bay. The main impact of his continued presence in the race would have been to force Governor Romney to spend resources better deployed against President Obama in the upcoming General Election.

Some will say he quit now fearing another career-ending loss in Pennsylvania’s April 24th primary. Polls were mixed, and it is quite possible Santorum could have pulled off a slim victory. But again delegate math comes into play. There is absolutely no relationship between the presidential vote and the awarding of delegates. In Pennsylvania, delegates are elected three per congressional district completely independent of the presidential vote. While Santorum might have prevailed in the popular vote, it is clear Romney’s superior organization would ultimately carry the day by winning more delegates.

Thus with Pennsylvania shaping up as a Pyrrhic victory at best, Santorum wisely chose to preserve his well-earned status as a national voice for social conservatism – and his prospects for 2016 should Mitt Romney lose to Barack Obama – by bowing out now. Having done so, Mr. Santorum is now free to roam the country in support of U.S. Senate and congressional candidates helping to build a governing Republican majority. Going forward he has ensured that he will be an influential and important voice in the policy debate.

Not to be underestimated in Rick Santorum’s decision to suspend his presidential campaign is his family situation. Many politicians trot out their families as props to burnish their “real guy” credentials. Nobody doubts Rick Santorum’s sincerity when it comes to his commitment to family. With young daughter Bella’s second hospitalization of the campaign it became clear over Easter weekend that his family needs him more than his nation.

That he chose his family speaks volumes about Rick Santorum. It should also be noted that Mitt Romney pulled his attack ads off the air when Bella entered the hospital last weekend. That was a rare note of personal grace in the cut-throat world of presidential politics. It should also signal to skeptical conservatives that while there may be questions about Mitt Romney’s principles, his character is above reproach.

The end of Senator Santorum’s active presidential campaign also effectively ends the contest for the Republican Presidential nomination. Newt Gingrich soldiers on, but his goal is to impact the party’s platform and the issue debate. Clearly the smartest man in the field, it is a role to which Mr. Gingrich is ideally suited. As for Ron Paul, the Texas congressman never seriously competed for the nomination, but will continue his quest to build a movement based on solid economic policy and questionable foreign policy.

There was a time during the presidential contest where Rick Santorum might have snatched the nomination away from Mitt Romney. A series of verbal gaffs and an unfortunate emphasis on social issues at a time when the economy is the top priority of voters scuttled his momentum. But, Mr. Santorum’s timely and graceful exit from the race shows he has matured as a politician knowing, as former President George H.W. Bush pointed out, when to “fold ’em.”

The big question now is can the Republican Party unite behind Mitt Romney as its standard-bearer? It is clear that a majority of primary voters preferred someone – anyone – to Mitt Romney throughout the process. But the presumptive nominee proved himself to be an able competitor. He will need the skills honed throughout the tough primary process to take on a president who has failed at governing, but who excels at campaigning. It will also take a united Republican Party to prevail in November. My bet is the GOP will come together behind Mitt Romney; if for no other reason than all factions of the party agree on one thing: Barack Obama must not get four more years in the White House.

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal. His e-mail address is

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This Week on American Radio Journal: Ramesh Ponnuru

Radio Program Schedule for the Week of October 29, 2011 – November 4, 2011

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review and Bloomberg View about the enduring front-runner status of GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney
  • Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story behind the Rick Perry flat tax plan
  • Adam Tragone of Human Events has an Off the Cuff interview with Washington state Republican Party Chairman Kirby Wilbur
  • Dr. Paul Kengor from the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College has an American Radio Journal commentary on the death of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • David Taylor of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association hosts a Capitol Watch roundtable discussion on a new report about “jackpot juries” in Philadelphia with Kevin Shivers from the National Federation of Independent Business and Matt Fullenbaum from the American Tort Reform Association
  • Lowman Henry has a Town Hall Commentary on why the GOP should be in no hurry to select a presidential nominee

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

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