Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Shopping For the 2016 Republican Nominee For President

Just what I want! To be sold a candidate again!

"19 Republican hopefuls are scheduled to speak at a two-day fund-raiser for the New Hampshire Republican Party in Nashua on Friday and Saturday. To herald this unofficial primary kickoff, the Globe has ranked the prospects of the top 10 Republican candidates in the Granite State, followed by the rest in alphabetical order."


Huckabee Hoping For 2016 Republican Nomination
Bushwhacking His Way to the 2016 Republican Nomination
Walkering His Way to the 2016 Republican Nomination
Rubio Running Towards 2016 Republican Nomination
Cruzing His Way to the 2016 Republican Nomination
Christie Building Bridge to 2016 Republican Nomination
Perry's Pirouette to the 2016 Republican Nomination
Rand Paul and the Rest of the Republican Also-Rans

Did you see any you liked?

"19 potential GOP candidates stream into New Hampshire; Big field trying to win support in first primary" by James Pindell Globe Staff  April 18, 2015

NASHUA — In the history of the New Hampshire presidential primary, there have never been so many potential Republican presidential candidates — 21 — much less a campaign in which nearly all of them showed up on the same weekend.

The result? One after another Friday, the Republicans tried to differentiate themselves as they moved throughout the state for the unofficial kickoff to the presidential primary.

Exhibit A was former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who broke with many conservatives on the subject of climate change. ‘‘We need to work with the rest of the world to find a way to reduce carbon emissions,’’ Bush said in answer to a question at Saint Anselm College in Manchester on Friday.

Shutting down the War Machine would be a good start.

The big draw was the inaugural First-in-the-Nation Republican Leadership Summit in Nashua, which drew a parade of GOP candidates. They delivered 30-minute pitches to activists and wove in and out of a packed ballroom at the Crowne Plaza hotel.

On Friday, nine potential candidates addressed the crowd, including Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Texas governor Rick Perry, and US Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. On Saturday, more are slated to speak, including US Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, businessman Donald Trump, US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Christie, on his eighth of nine publicized events in New Hampshire this week, used his stage time mostly to take questions in a format resembling a town hall meeting. The Republican sought to cast himself as the truth-teller in the field, citing the specific changes to federal entitlements that he proposed at Saint Anselm College earlier in the week.

“I didn’t run for governor of New Jersey to be elected prom king,” Christie said. “I’m not looking to be the most popular guy in the world. I’m looking to be the most respected one. And the way you do that is to put forward real ideas.”

For the most part, the way these candidates showcased themselves differed in style, but not much in substance. Former New York governor George Pataki spent his entire time answering questions he had solicited online during the week. Perry underscored his points by mentioning specific people in the audience.

Recent polls of likely New Hampshire Republican voters show the race may be the most wide-open in a generation. Walker, Paul, Christie, and Bush all score in the low double-digits of support.

“There are about 55 people running for president from what I can tell,” Bush joked with the crowd Friday “This is going to be an economic boom for New Hampshire.” 

I don't consider all this money spent on politics productive at all. Just another way of shoveling cash to friends and associates.

Earlier in the day, at a Politics & Eggs breakfast in Manchester, Bush spoke of bipartisanship; split with many conservatives when he said ‘‘the climate is changing”; and called for a pathway to legal status for immigrants who are in the United States illegally.

After losing the last two presidential elections, the Republicans gave the Nashua audience a preview of what they will discuss next year on the campaign trail.

The larger the field of candidates, the more power New Hampshire voters have in winnowing the field to the three or four candidates who will continue on to others states.


The summit matters because the crowd comprises the state’s GOP gatekeepers. The real opportunity, however, could be for lesser-known candidates such as former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore, former Maryland governor Bob Ehrlich, and conservative filmmaker Dennis Michael Lynch.

Liz Christoffersen, a Republican operative from Hollis, was also shopping for a candidate to back. So was state Senator Sam Cataldo, of Farmington. Both have their eye on a particular item on the résumé: governor.

Perry, who won three terms as governor in Texas, extended his antiestablishment message to include major financial institutions on Wall Street.

“The conservative movement must be the agent of reform,” he said. “There is something wrong when the Dow has record highs, but businesses on Main Street cannot get a loan.”

Sounds good, but it's all talk and they never challenge the banking cartel. They know it means a bullet in the back of the head.

Rubio, given a prime dinner speaking slot, stressed his family’s humble roots as Cuban immigrants, who were “never rich and they were never famous,” but, a few decades removed from poverty, they owned a home and retired.

“That happens to be my story, but that is actually our story. It is what defines us as a nation and as a people. It is the basis of what separates us from the rest of the world. Today it is in doubt,’’ Rubio said.

I'm not a separatist.

The event – a $75-a-ticket fund-raiser for the party – is a show of force for the New Hampshire primary itself. This is the first presidential primary cycle in recent memory when state’s first-in-the-nation role does not appear to be challenged by other states.

Everything in the paper is framed in the context of a goddamn war or battle!

The only potential candidates who skipped the event were former US Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and retired Maryland physician Ben Carson.

“I think New Hampshire is extremely powerful in the nomination process because it is going to be place where a [large field of] candidates gets whittled down and that process begins at an event like this one,” said Elaine Kamarck, a Harvard Kennedy School lecturer.


Let's start looking through them:

"19 GOP presidential hopefuls gather at N.H. summit; Obama, Clinton foreign policy decisions are frequent target of the candidates" by Jim O’Sullivan Globe Staff  April 18, 2015

NASHUA — Republicans who gathered here this weekend to court party activists found a common target in President Obama’s foreign policy, collectively arguing that missteps on five continents had sapped the United States of its strength around the world.

From Iran to Cuba to China, the field of 19 potential presidential candidates faulted Obama for strategies they said were feckless and detrimental to the American future.

“We need a commander-in-chief in this country who, once and for all, will identify that radical Islamic terrorism is a threat to us all,” Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said during Saturday’s keynote speech on the second day of the First-in-the-Nation Republican Leadership Summit, which gave the country’s first primary voters a chance to audition White House hopefuls in person.


Print copy carried this (to be found lower in the web article):

“If only the terrorists attacked a golf course, that might actually get the White House’s attention,” US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said on Saturday.

What is with the golf obsession all of a sudden? 

The fact that Walker was "relocated to a smaller room so the hotel could accommodate a wedding booked for the ballroom" was cut from the web version.

The global focus represents a shift from the last couple of elections, when Republicans sought to impose a referendum on Obama’s economic performance. In 2012, when the economy was worse and party activists were more hotly opposed to Obama’s federal health care expansion, Republican critiques centered on domestic issues.

And, with many Republicans expecting to face former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016, the thrust toward foreign policy permits them the twin targets of her and Obama. 

Look at the coded language designed to bring forth certain imagery in your mind.

“Look what’s happening around the world. There are a lot of danger spots around the world,” US Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire told the Globe on Saturday. “So I expect you’ll hear that from many of the candidates.”

Ayotte, who is not considering a 2016 run but is widely viewed as a potential vice presidential choice, dwelt on foreign policy for most of her own speech. She said others had done so “for good reason.”

Each of the candidates who spoke fielded questions, many of which pivoted around foreign policy and national security. The Islamic State group, in particular, was mentioned by many audience members.

Just enabling the myth.

Several speakers pointed to Obama’s decisions not to interfere earlier to stop the rise of the Islamic State group, to prod Iran to agree to a deal designed to slow that country’s development of a nuclear weapon, and not to project greater global preeminence toward Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken an expansionist tack, annexing Crimea and backing separatist rebels against the government in Ukraine, and has unnerved American allies in Europe.

He didn't annex it, they voted to join, but what is one slight deception in a newspaper, huh? No big deal that I'm given a distorted and inaccurate picture of the world in my agenda-pushing pos, right?

“This is a president whose policies are weak, whose policies are apologetic, and in many ways incoherent,” US Representative Peter King of New York said during a Friday address.

You guys are scaring me to the point where I wanna keep him, and no one has said a word about the abetted slaughter in Yemen.

The weekend also laid bare fundamental divisions within the party over how interventionist the United States should be. While most of the speakers criticized Obama for what they said was a failure to flex US military strength sufficiently, a few — most notably Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky — sounded the more isolationist notes that have been gaining currency within the GOP.

The whole country (regardless of letter label) is not only weary of being lied into wars, it downright hates them now. 

“The other Republicans will criticize Obama or Hillary Clinton on foreign policy, but they would have done the same thing 10 times over,” said Paul, who also criticized National Security Agency intelligence-gathering techniques that other speakers defended.


Paul, also speaking Saturday, jabbed at “a group of folks in our party who would have our troops in six countries right now.”

Neither the chorus of withering assessments of Obama’s job performance nor the intraparty schisms are novel among Republicans. But the weekend march of candidates across the Crowne Plaza hotel ballroom stage helped solidify the policy elements that will help define the 2016 race.

“We don’t all agree,” said King. “We have definite views.”

By looping Clinton into the broadsides against Obama while all but ignoring other Democrats, Republicans also signaled how they will train fire on her.

Related: Clinton Caravan to 2016 Democratic Nomination 

You want to hop on the bandvan?

“She’s the architect of his foreign policy,” said US Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

So how do you like your military empire administered, neoliberally or neoconservatively? Which cover name for mass murder and slaughter do you like better?

At a Saturday dinner where he introduced Walker, former New Hampshire governor John Sununu, who was President George H.W. Bush’s chief of staff and is unaffiliated in the race, referred to “the Obama-Clinton administration.”

“We have destroyed our capacity to influence what goes on around the globe,” Sununu said.

Aside from the grave policy critiques, Republicans also used Obama and Clinton for laughs.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who ran unsuccessfully for a US Senate seat in California in 2010, mentioned her own extensive global travel, then referenced Clinton’s oft-cited miles logged during her time at the State Department.

“Unlike Mrs. Clinton, I know that flying is an activity, not an accomplishment,” Fiorina said, winning laughs and applause.

She's my girl!

The summit came as candidates in both parties ramp up their campaigning, with a heavy focus on New Hampshire. Clinton, who announced her candidacy last week, is set to make her first campaign foray into the state on Monday. 

I rode along.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush and US Senator Marco Rubio of Florida — two of the prospective candidates regarded in the field’s top tier — spoke on Friday. Both faulted Obama’s handling of the American role abroad, and Rubio said Obama had “eviscerated our military capabilities.”

Bush, who used his remarks to tout his “ ‘I’m-not-kidding’ conservative” record, called Obama “the most liberal president in modern history.”

Earlier in the week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who on Friday told the summit that Obama was “a weak president,” sought to affix a spotlight on domestic matters, delivering an address Tuesday at Saint Anselm College proposing changes to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Without addressing those high-dollar programs, Christie said, the nation would be so financially strapped that it would be unable to tackle any other priorities.

A$$hole Christie gonna cut the war machine and aid to Israel, too?

The 19 contenders — all but two of the still-forming GOP field — spoke in an oft-full ballroom over two days, using a stage backdropped by a large US flag and flanked by two others. Many used the occasion as a jumping-off point for campaign stops around the state.

In the future that flag will come to be seen as the Nazi swastika is today.


Did you buy a ticket?

"N.H. GOP summit’s efficiency has its appeal for voters" by Akilah Johnson Globe Staff  April 18, 2015

NASHUA — The 59-year-old Manchester resident roamed the hallways of the Crowne Plaza hotel as vendors stocked tables with buttons that read “Big Government Sucks” and crib sheets on the conservative bona fides of the could-be presidential candidates scheduled to speak.

June Marshall was part of the answer to this question: Who would pay a $75 entry fee to hear two full days of political speeches more than nine months before the primary? It is an apt question in a state where free and frequent access to politicians is something of a birthright.

And by midday Friday, high school and college students, people with a cause, diehard Republicans, party leaders, elected officials, and the politically curious were stepping over each other as they maneuvered through crammed hallways and ballrooms to hear 19 Republican White House hopefuls. The weekend — a fund-raiser for the state Republican party — served as an unofficial kickoff to next year’s GOP primary in New Hampshire.

For 66-year-old Erik Spitzbarth, this weekend’s event makes for more efficient candidate research than traveling around to various town halls and meet-and-greets. This is a one-stop shop, said the Hancock resident. “It’s a golden opportunity,” he said during a break between speeches.

That's where the inspiration for the title came from, and it is about the same time I started to leave the Globe store.


Speakers, of whom there were many, got about 30 minutes to share their message and take questions. And as they did, attendees scribbled notes in the margins of program books and typed out thoughts on tablets.

The eight students attending from New England College all showed up Friday because politics means something to them — and because the university picked up the tab. Some are young Republican activists. Others are Democrats with conservative leanings. A few are independents. All are political science majors....

Would you like to see who they are?


So who did they like up there?

"Rivals Christie and Walker Find Fortunes Reversed as CPAC Opens" by JONATHAN MARTIN and MAGGIE HABERMAN, FEB. 26, 2015

OXON HILL, Md. — In the early stages of the 2016 Republican presidential primary, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is the hot property, his poll numbers rising and the chatter from activists and contributors growing steadily more positive. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey is the mirror opposite, his political stock falling along with his standing in surveys of Republicans.

On Thursday, the opening day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference here outside Washington, it was as if the two men’s fortunes followed them onstage. Mr. Christie, who declined the opportunity to deliver a prepared speech, appeared before a ballroom with many empty seats, faced adversarial questions from a conservative talk show host and used the opportunity to attack a fellow presidential aspirant, Jeb Bush — a telltale sign that he is fighting to regain position.

A few hours later, Mr. Walker spoke before a standing-room-only crowd, was repeatedly bathed in loud ovations, received only a handful of softball questions after his remarks, and avoided any direct criticism of his potential Republican rivals.

The first primary votes will not be cast for nearly a year in the Republican race, but the contrasting standings of Mr. Walker and Mr. Christie reveal how quickly perceptions of the race can change.

It's whatever narrative they can sell you to cover-up a corrupt $election, 'er, election.

Just a few months ago, Mr. Christie was riding high, re-elected in a landslide and bestowing millions of dollars on Republican candidates as the head of the Republican Governors Association, while Mr. Walker was pleading for some of that money in a hard-fought re-election campaign in which defeat could have put a presidential bid out of reach.

Rocketing to the lead in Iowa polls, Mr. Walker has become an early force in the White House race. On Thursday, jacket off and sleeves rolled up, he won applause from the hall packed with conservative activists with a recitation of his record in Wisconsin, where he has drawn national notice for his confrontations with organized labor.

He's flip-flopped since.

And when a heckler yelled something about “workers,” Mr. Walker drew a standing ovation for his response.

“Those voices can’t drown out the voices of the millions of Americans who want us to stand up for the hard-working taxpayers of this country,” he said, as applause drowned out his voice.

The questions Mr. Walker took after his address were largely tame, though he appeared to stumble when he was asked about the Islamic State: He compared his battle with the protesters who descended on Madison, the capital of Wisconsin, in 2011 in opposition to his labor initiatives to hostile forces overseas that he could have to confront as commander in chief.

“If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world,” he said.

What's the controversy? Authorities view protesters as terrorists, at least the ones that are not controlled opposition.

In a brief interview with a handful of reporters after his remarks, Mr. Walker said: “There’s no comparison between the two, let me be perfectly clear. I’m just pointing out the closest thing I have to handling a difficult situation was the 100,000 protesters I had to deal with.” 


If Mr. Walker had to clarify a line from his speech, Mr. Christie was forced to argue that he was still a viable candidate.

Engaged in a seated colloquy with the conservative talk-show host Laura Ingraham, Mr. Christie was on the receiving end of some of the same blunt talk he has all but trademarked — a rare departure at an event in which those being roasted are usually Democrats and are not in the room to defend themselves.

Why, Ms. Ingraham asked, was he performing so poorly with Republican voters?

“Is the election next week?” Mr. Christie shot back.

Mr. Christie, who early polls show is viewed unfavorably by many Republicans, used the interview to swipe at Mr. Bush, with whom he will compete for the affection of a similar pool of primary voters if they both run for president.

That is where the print copy ended it.

Prompted by Ms. Ingraham, who has been sharply critical of Mr. Bush, Mr. Christie took issue with a suggestion Mr. Bush floated in 2013 that immigrants could “repopulate” Detroit.

“That’s misdirected priorities, that statement,” Mr. Christie said. “Because what I would be concerned about are the people who are in Detroit right now, the hard-working people who stuck with Detroit and who have stayed there.”

Couldn't keep their homes and the water was shut off, but....

All but baited by Ms. Ingraham about Mr. Bush’s apparent strength in the 2016 race, Mr. Christie portrayed the former Florida governor as the insiders’ candidate and himself as someone who could better connect with voters than the son and brother of presidents.

“If the elites in Washington who make back-room deals decide who the president is going to be, then he’s going to be the front-runner,” Mr. Christie said. “If the people of the United States decide to pick the next president of the United States, and they want someone who looks them in the eye, connects with them and is one of them, I’ll do O.K.”

Forget those social service cuts he's proposing.

Mr. Christie also sought to implicitly contrast himself with Mr. Bush, citing his father’s humble, working-class background. And he received a warm ovation when he dismissed the role of the minimum wage in offering economic opportunity. 

These guys and their alleged hardscrabble roots to show they are still men of the people. Pathetic.

The sharp language about Mr. Bush as the candidate of the establishment, though, was a tacit acknowledgment that his own political circumstances had changed. After serving as head of the governors’ association last year, he had hoped to win over many of the same “elites in Washington” he scorned on Thursday. Now, though, Mr. Christie must recast his role in the still-developing and already unpredictable primary.

You gonna buy that?


What's the strategy now?

"GOP strategizes, aiming to learn from Obama campaign" by Sylvan Lane, Globe Correspondent  February 28, 2015

WASHINGTON — Republicans are still smarting from their loss in the 2012 presidential election, when President Obama’s campaign technology team ran circles around Mitt Romney’s. With 2016 on the horizon, the GOP wants to get even, and is starting with some grass-roots education.

From Wednesday through Friday, conservative nonprofit American Majority hosted a campaign-organizing boot camp at CPAC 2015, the conservative conference that draws scores of influential Republicans and thousands of their followers to the Washington area.

Billed as the most comprehensive training in CPAC history, the three-day blitzkrieg of seminars focused on two major goals: giving Republicans the tools to win the White House in 2016, and giving them the impetus to actually use them.

“You can’t win a political battle unless you understand what you just got done to you,” said American Majority president Matt Robbins, who worked on President George W. Bush’s 2004 and Senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaigns. “We’re fools not to avail ourselves with these weapons and tools.”

More than 850 students, campaign veterans, and politicos from across the country shuffled in and out of seminars on effective community organizing, successful targeted campaigning, and how to apply union tactics to winning political campaigns.

Did that work last time?

The goal, Robbins said, is to train a sea of conservative activists equipped to lay the infrastructure for the party’s presidential candidate. The strategy is unabashedly co-opted from Obama for America’s playbook: Use comprehensive databases to efficiently target voters, and bring a friendly, empathetic volunteer to their doors repeatedly until the election is over.

This means a major shift in the way Republicans approach national elections, said Robbins. Devoted to personal responsibility and sacrifice, the party needs to project a supportive image to those in need. Instead of white papers and policy briefs, conservatives need to frame their beliefs in an approachable and personal way, he said.

It is a fundamental change for many conservative activists, said Robbins.

“Conservatives are loath to change,” he said. “That’s fine with a lot of people who want to bury their heads. We’re here to wake them up.”

So Robbins, and American Majority’s CEO, Ned Ryun, took participants of all ages through a balance of strategic seminars and political TED talks. Each 15-to-30-minute session highlights where Republicans have gone wrong, what Democrats have done right, and why it is imperative for conservatives to embrace some of the methods they have disparaged, like community organizing and personality politics.

Ryun said many campaigns invest too much in methods that put money in consultants’ bank accounts and too little in strategies that put Republicans in office. “We really need to examine how we do a better job of putting money into things that we know will win and not make people rich,” he said. “At a certain point, how many more TV ads do we need?”

Although veterans are slower to jump on board, younger members of the party give Robbins and Ryun reason for optimism. Julia Mathews, an 18-year-old ambassador for Turning Point USA, highlighted the conservative nonprofit’s efforts to engage apathetic young voters.

I was told the kids are turning conservative.

The group printed stickers declaring “Big Government Sucks,” and plays off popular culture, such as the TV series “House of Cards,” to make conservative policy relatable through parodied posters.

“People just want to vote for who seems to be most in tune with them and what their problems are,” said Mathews, “but I guess the Republicans have not done a good job appealing to the youth vote. [Democrats] did a far better job of doing that than Republicans, and that’s exactly what we’re trying to do.”

Ross Bradley, a North Carolina State University senior and representative from libertarian Young Americans for Liberty, agreed.

“There needs to be a bigger grasp on how we can still logistically pull people, but still tug at their emotions,” he said.

With a little more than a year left before the parties pick their presidential candidates, Robbins and Ryun emphasize hitting the ground running before it is too late.

Ryun said he is not sure what the future holds for the Republican Party, nor if this push will lay a path to the White House.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do and we don’t have a whole lot of time,” he said. “Let’s focus on the things that really make change happen.”


Ready for Super Tuesday?

"Southern states seek to leverage 2016 clout; Hope to guarantee GOP tilts to right" by Matt Viser Globe Staff  April 05, 2015

MANCHESTER, Ga. — Though presidential politicians have long ignored Georgia, the towns and villages in this primarily rural state celebrate their historic connection with Washington power. White House Parkway cuts through this area. The sign in front of the police station in Warm Springs, population 413, touts a century-old tie to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and locals quickly point out that former President Jimmy Carter lives within an hour’s drive.

And yet it’s been decades since this place was relevant in any presidential contest: Aside from Carter, the last candidate anyone remembers campaigning here was John F. Kennedy.

It’s the Manchester 1,200 miles to the north, in New Hampshire, that is supposed to matter during primary season. Not this one.

But in an attempt to flex more muscle in the Republican nominating contest, and potentially boost a candidate with solidly conservative credentials, a half-dozen of the reddest of Southern red states are aiming to band together and hold a Southern Super Tuesday on the earliest possible date. Under the emerging 2016 primary calendar, places like Manchester, Ga., could carry new sway — in some ways acting as an antidote to the famously independent voters up north.

“When you look at where the heartland of the Republican Party is right now, it’s a lot of these Southern states,” said Joel McElhannon, a GOP consultant in Georgia.

The candidates “are going to have to speak to what the base of the party is wanting to hear . . . There’s not going to be much taste for someone interested in getting squishy and moderate.”

Georgia has been leading an effort to mobilize all Southern states to vote March 1. In what has been dubbed the SEC Primary, after the Southeastern college conference famed for football-crazed schools, Georgia is hoping it will be joined by Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

“I definitely think we may be able to get someone more reflective of the base of the party than [2012 nominee Mitt] Romney was,” said Erick Erickson, a prominent conservative commentator and Georgia native. “And that’s a good thing.”

The state is already hosting a parade of candidates, stopping in Atlanta and requesting meetings with Governor Nathan Deal, legislative leaders, and activists. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush delivered a speech before the state Legislature, lingering afterward to shake hands and take photos. Former Texas governor Rick Perry huddled with supporters at The Georgian Club, which has a sweeping view of the Atlanta skyline. In January, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie hosted a dinner at the governor’s mansion for a delegation of nearly a dozen Georgians who flew up for the occasion.

As they stroll through the marble hallways of the Georgia State Capitol, the candidates have clearly done their homework, impressing folks by knowing the names of even rank-and-file lawmakers, and expressing some familiarity with their pet legislative issues. But they are far more familiar with ethanol subsidies in Iowa than they are about the fast-growing port in Savannah, Ga., or the challenges of running one of the world’s busiest airline hubs in Atlanta.

“I think most of them really don’t know much about our state other than what they’ve read,” said Deal.

The last time the South voted en masse was in 1988, when 11 states, Georgia prominent among them, voted on the same day. Democrats hoped the dramatic clustering of primaries would help a moderate sweep the region and head the party’s ticket. Instead, Jesse Jackson and Al Gore split the South, helping pave the way for Michael Dukakis, the liberal governor of Massachusetts, to win the nomination.

More recently, Georgia has been literally passed over: Neighboring South Carolina has instead played an elevated role as the first state in the South to vote, and Florida is so rich in delegates that it usually becomes a key early test of strength.

Bush and Rubio should split them, right?

The SEC primary would come directly after the first four — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada — which are protected by national party rules that penalize any other state from holding an election before March 1.

Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia are currently all poised to vote March 1, and legislation is pending in Alabama and Arkansas to do the same. The six states together elect 428 of the 2,469 delegates to the GOP convention.

Democrats, too, would hold their primaries March 1, although their contest so far is less competitive and the Southern primary effort is being led by Republicans.

Republicans in the South say they are ideally positioned — even entitled — to reroute the nominating process in a more conservative direction. They view themselves as the ideological core of the party, and some are just plain tired of the same early-voting states getting all of the attention.

“You get sort of jealous when you see a state like Iowa,” said Joe Dendy, the former Republican Party chairman of Cobb County, one of the most populous counties in the state. “They see the candidates all the time, walking around the street. Or so I’m told.”

But with candidates now starting to come to Georgia, the feeling is afoot that the South is finally getting its due as an important player in the primary fight. Suddenly, political consultants here are in demand, television stations are contemplating a boost in ads, and candidates are being invited to the state Republican Party convention next month in Athens, Ga.

“I was just on the phone with one of Rubio’s guys,” Secretary of State Brian Kemp said recently from an office whose decor showcases Georgia peanuts, bottles of Coca-Cola, and a Waffle House coffee mug. “Everybody’s plotting and scheming and I’m trying to let them know how fun this is going to be.”


Do I look like I'm having fun?

With so many states voting at the same time, well-financed candidates who can flood TV markets in several states could see an advantage. Such a dynamic could benefit Bush, who has been raising money at a rapid clip.

But it could also help an upstart candidate who shows an ability to rally the conservative base around the South. Senator Ted Cruz announced his presidential campaign with heavy emphasis on his evangelical Christianity, something that could play well in a region with the nation’s greatest concentration of evangelicals.

Or Huckabee!

“No matter how you cut it or slice it, Georgia is a red state,” said Mark Hamilton, a state representative who has met (and posed for photos) with several presidential candidates. “For the conservatives that really want the red meat voters and supporters, Georgia is going to represent that opportunity.”

Down in Manchester, located about 65 miles south of Atlanta in Meriwether County, boiled peanuts are sold on the side of a two-lane highway.

The pride of the county is Warm Springs, which FDR first visited in 1924 and where he later built a retreat called the Little White House.

Roosevelt is said to have gained insight into how the Great Depression was ravaging rural America as he traveled around the area, speaking to Georgians who were struggling.

They got the message.

Many still are.

Some residents are still on dial-up Internet connections. Nearly 90 percent of students are poor enough to qualify for free or reduced meals at school.

“Our socioeconomic status is poor, poor, poor,” said Allen Parham, a local banker. “It drives a lot of how people think.”

They think the middle class has been squeezed out in the American economy, and some question whether the place where they’ve spent their lives is still a good place for their grandchildren to grow up. They distrust the government and think their community — with its churches, Boy Scouts, and Little League — is better positioned to help.


“Most folks want to support their families. There’s self-respect that comes with having a job,” said Bob Patterson, a local Baptist pastor.

In Patterson’s Manchester, four churches sit on two city blocks, and local residents say gay marriage has little support. Fox News plays on the flatscreen televisions at the local bank. A farm and garden supply store held a contest last weekend where the winner received a Smith and Wesson semiautomatic pistol.


If I didn't know better I'd say the Globe was stereotyping.

“The right to bear arms is huge around here,” said Beth Hadley, the owner of the store and chairwoman of the county board of commissioners. “They don’t have just one gun, they have two, three, four — or 12.”

The people here in Manchester don’t yet know whether their community will be on the presidential campaign circuit.

But while voters in Manchester, N.H., who contend with a ceaseless swarm of candidates every four years, like to joke that they need to personally meet the candidates two or three times before deciding whom to support, those in Manchester, Ga., say all it would take is one meeting.

“If any presidential candidate came to Manchester, Ga., the majority of people would vote for them,” Hadley said with a laugh.

“If they just got to shake their hand,” she added, “it would make a huge difference.”


Related: GOP’s 2016 hopefuls are courting home-schoolers

They include former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, the former US senator from Pennsylvania who narrowly won the Iowa caucuses last time, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and former Texas governor Rick Perry.

So who do the Democrats want to win (be careful what you wish for; they wanted to run against Reagan)?

"Democrats’ guide to Republicans for president" by Dan Payne  February 20, 2015

With Mitt Romney out and the field of Republican candidates so large, you can’t tell the players without a program. They fall into various categories:

Hot-headed heavyweights

■ Chris Christie: Took family vacation to Israel paid for by king of Jordan, then refused to take questions about it. Took all-expenses trip to Dallas Cowboys football game. Refused to comment on it. Gave lucrative contracts to firm run by pal John Ashcroft, another to pal Governor Charlie Baker. At Hurricane Sandy anniversary event, publicly blasted angry questioner, “Sit down and shut up!” Bridgegate, anyone?

Doctors without sense

■ Rand Paul: Darling of Tea Party. Believes life begins at conception. Eye doctor wasn’t board certified, created own board led by family members. On measles: “I have heard of many tragic cases of . . . normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.” Would end all foreign aid; abolish federal departments of commerce, education, energy, and housing; repeal Affordable Care Act; and privatize Social Security. Makes father seem normal.

■ Ben Carson, neurosurgeon with Nazis on the brain: Admitted plagiarizing parts of his book. African-American physician who says, “Obamacare is really the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.” “America is very much like Nazi Germany.” For better idea of Barack Obama’s politics, recommended, “Read ‘Mein Kampf.’ ” Nazi fetish?

Flavor of the month club

■ Jeb Bush, bully pulpit: Boston Globe profile revealed Bush was pot-smoking bully in prep school. New York Times found many letters to father’s White House urging help for friends. Advice to women on welfare: “Get your life together and find a husband.” Helped brother W. win presidency in Florida by 537 votes. Husband of brain-dead Terri Schiavo called Jeb “vindictive, untrustworthy coward” who put him “through hell” by interfering in her case. Miami Herald asked what he’d do specifically for black people if elected governor. Answer: “Probably nothing.” Wants path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Wife is Mexican-American whose peasant father entered United States illegally.

■ Scott Walker, hard-hearted union buster: Stock soaring, wowed Iowa’s religious right at cattle show. As Wisconsin governor, pushed anti-union law that slashed benefits and eliminated collective bargaining rights for state workers. Claim: Soviets treated Ronald Reagan more seriously after he fired air traffic controllers. Possible illegal help for his recall campaign from groups backed by Karl Rove and the Koch brothers. Declaring war on highly regarded state university, urging $300 million cuts. Asked recently if he believed in evolution, “I’ll punt on that one.”

Obsessed with Obamacare

■ Ted Cruz of Texas, via Canada: Born in Calgary to American mother. Will birthers say he’s not eligible to run for president? Said President Obama’s desire for nuclear “deal with Iran is going to be the Obamacare of the second term.” Called net neutrality “Obamacare for the Internet.” Against raising minimum wage because it would harm “young people, African-Americans, Hispanics, and single women.” Lemme see your birth certificate, eh?

Obsessed with Beyoncé

■ Arkansas’ Mike Huckabee: Rapped Beyoncé for “explicit dance moves.” Criticized president and first lady for letting daughters listen to Beyoncé’s music – called it “obnoxious and toxic mental poison.” Appalled that “trashy” women in New York City cursed in business meetings.

As Arkansas governor, solicited and accepted $112,000 in gifts and gave gift-givers state posts. Favors banning all abortions without exception, supports personhood legislation, believes wives should “submit graciously” to husbands. Beyoncé included?

Lightweight division

■ Rick Perry, thick-rimmed glasses to look smarter: Highlight of 2011 GOP debates: “The third agency of government I would do away with . . . ” Never came up with third one. “Oops.” Evolution “is a theory that’s out there. It’s got some gaps in it . . . In Texas we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools.” Texas has 5th highest poverty rate in United States, tied with West Virginia. Glasses don’t magnify your IQ.

■ Marco Rubio, psuedo-scientist: Claimed family fled Cuba for Florida when Fidel Castro came to power. Actually left three years prior. Told Fox News, “Human life begins at conception . . . It’s a proven fact.”

Asked about age of earth, replied, “I’m not scientist, man. I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States.”

“I’ve never denied the climate is changing, it is always changing.” But denies that excessive carbon is cause: “Despite 17 years of dramatic increases in carbon production by humans, surface temperatures in the earth have stabilized.”

Perhaps he could come to Boston to shovel mountains of snow, which some scientists tie to warming of oceans.

Which $cienti$ts would they be?

Bizarre Caucus

■ Rick Santorum, Pennsylvanian: Told white audience: “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.” Said creating right to consensual sex in home would lead to legalized bigamy, polygamy, and incest. Led effort to require schools to teach intelligent design, questioned separation of church and state, compared abortion to slavery, said birth control did not work and called it harmful to women. Frequently compared same-sex relationships to objects like trees, basketballs, beer, and paper towels.

“I have no problem with income inequality.” Gay soldiers “cause problems for people living in close quarters . . . they obviously shower with people.” Obama should oppose abortion “because he’s black.” Says we don’t need food stamps because obesity rates are so high. How’d this guy finish second to Romney?

■ Allen West, once served in Congress (!): Likened Democrats to Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels. Urged liberals to take message of equality to Europe. Said liberal women have been “neutering” American men. Ouch.

Romney lite, sees porn in oil spill

■ Carly Fiorina, now of Virginia: Forced out as CEO of Hewlett Packard. Shipped 18,000 HP jobs overseas. Left California after losing senate race to Barbara Boxer. Blessed by NRA. Cancer survivor, said parents might think twice about vaccinating preteen girls for cervical cancer. Wants parents to have right to oppose measles vaccination. On BP’s Gulf oil spill: “It’s pretty clear that the regulators were not doing their jobs, were in bed with the industry — literally — not to mention watching porn.”

His shots make me feel better about checking the ballot next to her name. The jobs were leaving anyway.

Yosemite Sam Caucus

■ John Bolton: Biggest hawk in Washington. Bashed United Nations for years, then George W. Bush named him UN ambassador. Supported Vietnam War but joined National Guard to avoid combat. Outspoken support for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and for targeted assassination of Libya’s Moammar Khadafy. Brian Williams admires his macho pretension.


RelatedDivide emerges over gay marriage among GOP candidates  

They plan to "plan to make gay marriage a central topic in the 2016 debate."

“This was a battle in the culture war that has been lost, and there’s no turning this clock back.” -- Rick Wilson, a Florida-based Republican consultant.

“It’s like asking someone who’s Jewish to start serving bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli.” -- former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who has surged to the top of some recent national polls, recently told CNN. 

Really? Huck vs. Hillary and a microscope on Arkansas?

God help us all.

So who is the next George Washington or Grover Cleveland?