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The Nevada Caucuses: Let The Horse-Trading Begin
And the beat(down) goes on. After Mitt Romney laced the Florida Gingrich campaign with 13,000 drips of TV hemlock, killing off any chance of victory for the verbose Georgian, it’s now off to Nevada for Romney, Gingrich and those other two Republican Presidential Primary aspirants.
The first thing you need to know is that Nevada is the home of one of the five members of the world’s most exclusive political sorority, Pi Delta Dumbelle. There’s Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Jan Brewer, Christine O’Donnell and of course Nevada’s Teapublican darling extraordinaire and thorn extraordinaire in Harry Reid’s side, Sharron Angle. Ms. Tea Party came frighteningly close to unseating the 4-term (now 5) Senator. Reid barely managed 50% of the vote in winning by a margin of less than 6 percentage points.
The 62-year-old Angle, who wears her hair like a 12-year-old figure skater may just be the nuttiest of the nutty. She served 8 years in the Nevada Assembly where she became a laughing stock for voting no on virtually every bill. But she’s most noted for making Bachmann-like comments with no basis in fact. For instance she once told a Tea Party gathering that Dearborn, Michigan and Frankford, Texas had been taken over by Sharia law. Pure lunacy of course. She may have topped that with her statement that the 9/11 hijackers had entered the U.S. through Canada. Is there an opening in the diplomatic corps?
Sometimes ignorant statements can be a little scary. Take this Angle gem uttered during the Senatorial race. “I hope that’s not where we’re going, but you know if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I’ll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.” Shades of Palin’s famed Facebook gun sight map targeting 20 Democrats nationwide. Gabrielle Giffords was one such target.
Now that you have a flavor of the Nevada political climate, let’s take a closer look at expected outcomes. We’ll start with Ron Paul, the ‘seasoned’ candidate who has a lock on last. It’s a caucus state and that’s where Ron Paul excels. Sure Doc Paul has been on this earth for over a three-quarters of a century – born ironically in 1935, the year the Social Security Act was passed; and Major League Baseball’s first night game was played and Shirley Temple, Clark Gable and Mae West were hot tickets at the box office. He’ll be 77 come inauguration day, 8 years older than Ronald Reagan was on the same occasion.
So he’s a geezer. Doesn’t make him stupid. He knows how to organize and manipulate the uniqueness of caucuses and he can draw a crowd, especially young people. About 1,200 people showed up at Colorado State University in Fort Collins the day of the Florida primary. The Colorado caucuses are 3 days after Nevada’s. Paul told the Colorado audience the same thing he tells everybody. If you haven’t memorized his stump speech by now, shame on you. Liberty this, liberty that – protect liberty, keep the fruits of your labors, return to the constitution blah, blah, blah. He then goes on to predictably attack the Federal Reserve system and the welfare state. And all that resonates with many folks even though 99% of the audience has no idea what he’s talking about. Paul may be among them.
So, I guess Paul would have us return to the golden era of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. That would have us living in that gloriously independent era of the late 1700’s. Maybe Paul is motivated by the fact that Benjamin Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence at age 81…about the same age Paul would be when he ran for a second term.
So we’ll see how Paul does. He could surprise.
Romney has seized some momentum after Florida and he’s now trying to paint himself as the candidate of the middle class insisting that the poor have a safety net and the rich don’t need any help. He’ll continue to be as vile toward Gingrich as his handlers tell him he needs to be. If it were legal, and it soon may be as Nevada loosens its betting restrictions, I’d probably put a wager down on Romney. I have no idea of the margin until I get more of a feel for the tenor of the race.
Santorum is back in the game after the scare with his young daughter. The Pennsylvania homophobe is the wildcard here. He’s got a few bucks and a few vocal supporters, mostly from the Tea Party. After all, he once finished first in a caucus state, so he might make some noise with his far-right Tea Party support. Realistically, I think from this point forward, he has a lock on 3rd place and is essentially running for vice-president (don’t tell Marco Rubio).
The Newt Gingrich Florida speech reminded me of the frenetic Howard Dean spectacle in Iowa in 2004. One pundit said Dean was like a drunken pirate with a hormonal imbalance; another entitled it the “I have a scream” speech. There were some of those same elements in what I perceived as desperation in Gingrich’s effort. I thought I was listening to an auctioneer…the repeal of this, the repeal of that; something about abolishing all White House Czars; All immediately; maybe just hours after being sworn in. I was watching an unhinged Gingrich.
Whether his garbled nonsense gets any traction in the Nevada caucuses is hard to predict. Who knows what these pre-registered Republicans are going to do in their precinct caucuses. We do know that you have to get a minimum of 15% of the vote in each precinct. If not, other candidate’s supporters can start horse-trading for votes and that’s where it can get squirrelly and unpredictable.
Speaking of squirrelly, anybody seen Angle lately?
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