Archive for December, 2011

GOP presidential candidates aim for last-minute support in Iowa

Perry returns to Waterloo

GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry made three stops in Iowa Friday, trying to cover as much ground as possible before the Jan. 3 caucus. During a speech at a pizzeria, Perry stayed on message, touting the need for smaller federal government.

YNN’s Alana Rocha is traveling with Perry and spoke with some undecided caucus-goers. Hear what one woman from Waterloo had to say about Perry’s visit in the video below.

GOP’s Bachmann limps to Iowa caucus finish line

Republican Michele Bachmann is insisting her presidential campaign is going forward despite staff departures, depleted campaign coffers and calls for her to drop out of the race.

She faces a steep challenge with Iowa’s caucuses looming Tuesday.

It’s a much different situation than she faced in the summer when she was riding high after a victory in the Iowa straw poll. Her slide from contender status started soon after, and she’s struggled for months to reverse the trend.

The Minnesota congresswoman is relying on sheer hustle to stay afloat. On Thursday, she capped a 99-county sprint across Iowa.

But instead of ending the exhausting trek on a high note, Bachmann found herself feuding with her advisers, only the latest supporters to abandon her bid for the Republican nomination.

Newt Gingrich gets emotional; Christie and Romney join forces

Newt Gingrich choked up and wiped away tears Friday while recalling his late mother’s struggle with depression and mental illness.

Speaking at an event with mothers in Des Moines, Iowa, the former House speaker said his focus on brain science issues stems directly from “dealing with the real problems of real people in my family.”

“And so it’s not a theory. It’s, in fact, my mother,” he said as he wiped away tears.

Kit Gingrich died in 2003 at age 77. Gingrich said she spent her final years in a long-term care facility suffering from depression, bipolar disease and gradually acquired physical ailments.

The moment was reminiscent of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s teary-eyed response to a question just before the 2008 Democratic primary in New Hampshire. That rare, emotional response by the former first lady was credited with humanizing her in the eyes of voters. She went on to pull off a win in the state.

After showing his emotions, the cerebral Gingrich said he does “policy much easier than he does personal.”

His wife, Callista, and two daughters, were in the audience.

“Callista will tell you I get teary-eyed every time we sing Christmas carols,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich has fallen in recent Iowa polls, with the state’s caucuses just several days away. He is in the midst of a 22-stop bus tour across the state.

Romney tries to come across as a man of the people

Mitt Romney’s effort to show more of his personal side has been anything but a smooth transition.

In the final stretch of the Iowa caucus campaign, Romney has stepped out from behind the curtain of private fundraising events that for months shielded him from unscripted encounters with voters.

Yet he still can struggle to connect with people on a personal level.

That’s been the rap against him since his 2008 race when he was labeled stiff and robotic. He’s trying to shake that perception this time around.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press, All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Paul still leading in Iowa

A new NBC/Marist poll shows Texas Congressman Ron Paul in a statistical tie with Mitt Romney, leading in Iowa just four days before the caucuses.

Romney is just a smidge above Paul, 23 to 21 percent, falling within the margin of error. Rick Santorum, with 15 percent, is still in third. This seems to confirm a poll from CNN earlier this week, which showed him surging. Governor Perry, who is wrapping up a statewide, 44 city bus tour Monday, is close behind Santorum with 14 percent.

Former front-runner Newt Gingrich is back in 5th place according to this survey. Wednesday’s CNN poll had Gingrich in fourth above Perry.

Taking in Iowa: cornfields and grassroots

We flew in Wednesday ready to weather the cold Midwest air and found it warmer than what we left in Texas. According to a few local meteorologists, the balmier temps will stick around through Tuesday night when Iowa’s registered Republican voters head to their nearby church or school to caucus.

Party officials tell me the weather is just one of the reasons they’re expecting a high turnout for the meeting-style vote. See, come 7 p.m. Tuesday night, voters in their respective precincts will gather to hear last-minute pitches from the candidates themselves or a representative as to why they should get their vote.

With more than 1,700 precincts, voters are more likely to hear from campaign representatives. That’s where the grassroots effort comes in.

All of the campaigns, especially Rep. Ron Paul’s, have spent the past few weeks recruiting volunteers from across the country to ensure they have a representative at each location.

I quickly learned after talking with likely voters, the majority are still undecided. Many told me they plan to wait till Tuesday night to make up their minds.

Not all.

One guy simply said, "Anyone, but Mitt Romney." He went on to explain he doesn’t feel the former Massachusetts governor is a true conservative, but added that if Romney was the eventual nominee, he’d vote for him over President Obama.

At least two people pledged their allegiance to Paul after listening to him on a stop in Perry, Iowa Thursday. One told me they found him genuine – that he’d do what he’s promising.

The support for Paul is evident in the state. Turning on WHO Radio this morning, Jan Mickelson made mention that he has never had an unsolicited Rick Perry supporter call in on a whim to laud their candidate, but that Ron Paul has countless do so on a daily basis.

And it seems as though Rick Santorum’s persistence is paying off. The former US Senator from Pennsylvania touts that he’s visited all 99 counties in Iowa and his poll numbers, and ad runs, are beginning to reflect his efforts.

Could he be the come-from-behind upset? Anything’s possible. Between now and Tuesday, Iowans will have plenty of opportunities to hear the candidates’ pitches in person or via the airwaves.

We’ll be here to cover it all on air and online, saving the heavy coats and scarves for New Hampshire.

Perry campaign manager: Perry in a ‘great position’ in Iowa

As Gov. Rick Perry wraps up a 44 city bus tour of Iowa, his National Campaign Manager says the campaign is in a "great position". YNN Political Reporter Alana Rocha spoke with Rob Johnson in Iowa, Thursday. You can see the full interview, here:

Perry loses first round in Virginia ballot battle

Gov. Rick Perry has lost the first round in a legal battle to get his name on the Virginia primary ballot. This afternoon, a federal judge in Richmond denied Perry’s request for a restraining order to stop the printing of the ballots.

Perry’s name was omitted after his campaign failed to gather the 10-thousand signatures required by Virginia law to land on the ballot. Perry sued, claiming the requirement violates his constitutional rights.

He tried to get a temporary restraining order to stop Virginia election officials from printing or distributing the ballots. The judge denied that restraining order, but didn’t rule on whether Perry’s rights were violated.

The next hearing on the case is scheduled for January 13.

Governor Perry isn’t the only Republican Presidential Candidate who’s name is missing from the Virginia ballot. Newt Gingrich also failed to collect the 10-thousand signatures necessary.

Right now, just Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul are the only candidates who met the requirements to be on the primary ballot.

Paul camp denies it bought Sorenson endorsement

Texas Congressman Ron Paul’s presidential campaign is denying accusations it paid Iowa State Sen. Kent Sorenson to leave his post as Michele Bachmann’s Iowa campaign co-chair. Sorenson resigned from that position and publicly endorsed Ron Paul in Iowa Wednesday.

Sen. Sorenson denies he was ever offered any money from the Paul camp.

In a written statement, Bachmann said “Kent said to me yesterday that ‘Everyone sells out in Iowa. Why shouldn’t I?’ Then he told me he would stay with our campaign. The Ron Paul campaign has to answer for its actions.”

In a statement from the Paul campaign, Bachmann’s Iowa Political Director Wes Enos is quoted defending Sorenson.

“I can say unequivocally that Kent Sorenson’s decision was, in no way financially motivated. His decision had more to do with the fact that the Ron Paul supporters have been something of a family to him since he was first elected in 2008 and, here in the end, as it becomes more and more apparent that the caucus cycle is coming to an end. Kent believed that he needed to be with them as they stand on the cusp of a potential caucus upset. While I personally disagree with Kent’s decision and plan to stay with Michele Bachmann because I truly believe in her. I cannot in good conscious watch a good man like Kent Sorenson be attacked as a sell out.That is simply not the case and it was not the basis of his decision,”

A CNN/Time/ORC Poll shows Paul in second among likely Republican Iowa Caucus goers. Gov. Perry is in fifth place behind Gingrich. Rick Santorum has moved into third place. Mitt Romney is the front-runner with 25 percent support.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Perry challenges exclusion from VA primary ballot

Republican Rick Perry is challenging his exclusion from Virginia’s primary ballot.

The Texas governor’s presidential campaign filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday in Virginia. The move is an attempt to get his name on Virginia’s March 6 primary ballot.

Currently Mitt Romney and Ron Paul are the only GOP presidential candidates who have qualified for Virginia’s ballot. Perry failed to collect the required 10,000 signatures. Newt Gingrich also failed to gather enough signatures.

Perry campaign spokesman Ray Sullivan said Virginians should be able to choose among all the candidates, not just two. Sullivan says Virginia’s ballot access rules are among the most onerous in the country and that the 10,000-signature requirement is unrealistic.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press, All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

In pursuit, GOP contenders rumble through Iowa

Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich are hoping their bus tours can form enough of a roadblock for Mitt Romney.

Bachmann, Perry and Gingrich are ready to start bus tours through Iowa Tuesday, making their final pitch as conservative alternatives to Romney. The former Massachusetts governor is set to visit with voters in New Hampshire in the morning before returning to Iowa.

Their campaigns are weighing the challenge they face from Ron Paul, the Texas congressman who has deep support among libertarians. Paul’s supporters have not really stopped organizing in the state since his 2008 bid, and he could have a better-than-expected showing in the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses. The caucuses begin the GOP nominating calendar.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press, All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

After days of partisan gridlock, payroll tax cut extended

The standoff in Washington is over. Congress approved a bill to extend the payroll tax holiday and unemployment insurance Friday.

House Speaker John Boehner announced that a deal had been reached Thursday afternoon.

"It may not have been politically the smartest thing in the world. But let me tell you what. I think our members waged a good fight," Boehner said. "We were able able to come to a agreement. We were able to fix what came out of the Senate."

Senate Democrats agreed to immediately appoint members to a committee to resolve the differences that are standing in the way of a year-long extension. Republicans also pushed for language that would ease the processing burden for small businesses.

The tide turned earlier Thursday when Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement urging his House colleagues to pass the two-month extension. Shortly after the President, flanked by every-day Americans, joined McConnell in his call.

"Most importantly, it’s the right thing to do for American families all across the country," President Obama said. "This is not just my view…The Republican leader of the Senate said we should do it."

A compromise may have been reached, and crisis averted, but Democrats say this latest partisan stalemate shines a light on the effect Tea Party republicans are having in Washington. Still, members of the House GOP argue they were simply trying to deliver what the President asked for, a one-year extension, giving more stability to job creators and the economy.

Paul continues to rise, but with that comes scrutiny

Courtesy: Iowa State/Gazette/KCRG Poll

A new Iowa State University/Gazette/KCRG poll shows GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul in the lead among likely Republican caucus-goers with 27.5 percent support. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich trails him within the margin of error, with 25.3 percent. Gov. Rick Perry, with 11.2 percent, is in fourth behind Mitt Romney, 17.5 percent.

With Paul’s rise in the polls, the mainstream media seem to finally be taking notice. Paul has been picked by many as the favorite to win in Iowa, mostly due to his large organization of grassroots supporters.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer’s “Blitzer Blog” first wrote about Paul’s ability to “surprise us” in Iowa last week. Tuesday, a POLITICO article asked “could Ron Paul kill the caucuses?”

"Paul poses an existential threat to the state’s cherished kick-off status, say [elite Iowa Republicans], because he has little chance to win the GOP nomination,” Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns write. “And would offer the best evidence yet that the caucuses reward candidates who are unrepresentative of the broader party."

However, most pundits maintain Ron Paul is unelectable.

Courtesy: CNN

With Paul’s emergence in the national press comes front runner scrutiny. Paul was asked in an interview with CNN’s Ali Velshi Tuesday about racist quotes published under his name in newsletters in the 1980s and 1990s. Paul insists he did not write the remarks, however this is not the first time the issue has been raised.

The Dallas Morning News reported on the quotes in 1996. Then, in 2008 they were brought up again. Now, The New Republic reports Paul made close to $1,000,000 on the newsletters.