JMU & The 2012 Presidential Race: Part II

About a week ago, I wrote about the attitudes of James Madison University students regarding the 2012 presidential election.  Although you should read the previous post below if you have not done so, the summary is that 42.6% of students surveyed support President Barack Obama, while Mitt Romney has 27.8%, Gary Johnson has 2.8%, Jill Stein has 1.9% and a large percentage, 24.1%, were undecided.

After the second presidential debate, but before the third, I conducted another door-to-door poll of a different batch of off-campus JMU students to gauge how their opinions had shifted.  The two questions asked were the same as before.  Are you registered to vote in Virginia and, if so, which of the presidential candidates would you support if the election were held today?  This time, 95 students answered.  Like the last survey, their answers closely mirrored the previous results.  Democratic candidate Barack Obama improved slightly, rising by .6% to 43.2%, while Republican Mitt Romney declined by 1.5%, falling to 26.3%.  Libertarian Gary Johnson dropped as well by .5% to 2.1%.  Interestingly, none of the respondents this time mentioned Green candidate Jill Stein as his or her top pick.  As before, zero students made any comment about Constitution Party candidate Virgil Goode.  With this numbers, you will note that a considerable number of students were once again undecided, showing an increase of 4.3% to now rest at 28.4%.  Continuing the previous trend, when considering just Obama versus Romney responses, Obama dominated with 62.1% to Romney’s 37.9%

With the two surveys combined, Barack Obama is the favorite of a plurality of James Madison students with 42.9%, Mitt Romney is second with 27.1%, Gary Johnson is third with 2.5%, Jill Stein is fourth with 1%, although not a candidate, Ron Paul is fifth with .5%, and a vast number of students are still undecided with 28.4%.  In the Obama/Romney head-to-head, Obama gets 61.3% to Romney’s 38.7%.

Although I’m admittedly a political animal, I’m surprised that the number of undecided voters remains so high among JMU students.  What explains this trend?  Do they suffer from a lack of information, is apathy high, or is there simply a strong dissatisfaction with both of the two major party candidates?  After all, as one undecided student commented, she didn’t particularly care for either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.

Given the previous results, I would assume that at this point a majority of undecided students will break along the same percentages as their brethren have done, unless something changes.  But a lot of factors could alter this outcome in the 13 days that remain.  I hope to have one final survey of JMU students before Election Day to gain a clearer picture.

JMU & the 2012 Presidential Race

On Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday of this week, I’ve visited three different off-campus JMU apartment complexes in Harrisonburg.  Part of the purpose in doing so was to assess the opinions of the students regarding the 2012 presidential election.  The general theory is that JMU students who registered to vote in Harrisonburg in 2008 supported Barack Obama by huge margins and helped him to capture the city last time.

For a bit of historical perspective, in the 2004 presidential election, when students had to vote in their hometowns rather than at their college or university, according to the Virginia State Board of Elections about 11,000 people voted in Harrisonburg.  George W. Bush won about 6,100 or 55.9%.  In 2008, John McCain had slightly less votes than Bush did four years prior, but only took 41.2% as around 14,500 people voted in the city. While about 1,000 more people voted in Harrisonburg in 2004 as they did in 2000, 3,500 more showed up in 2008 as compared to 2004.  A large portion of this increase was no doubt due to changes in Virginia law, which allows students to vote where they attend university.

So one important question to consider is will JMU break heavily for President Barack Obama this November?  With this thought in mind, I asked the JMU students two questions.  Are you registered to vote in Virginia and, if so, if the election were held today, which of the candidates would you support?

Now, a considerable number of students were not at home at the time of my visit, a handful was not registered to vote, some were registered in their hometowns in other states, and still others refused to answer.  However, 108 students did respond.  Perhaps not surprisingly, Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate, won a plurality, 46 or 42.6%.  Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, finished in second place with 30 votes or 27.8%.  Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, was a distant third with 3 votes or 2.8%, Jill Stein, the Green candidate, was fourth at 2 votes or 1.9%, and, although not a candidate, one student planned to write-in Representative Ron Paul.  Even though he is listed on the Virginia ballot, none of the students mentioned Constitution Party candidate, Virgil Goode.  However, you should note that a sizable portion of respondents, 26 students or 24.1% stated that they are undecided.

If these survey numbers are indicative of the entire student population, then the race is still pretty fluid at JMU.  As expected, Barack Obama is ahead, but not by an insurmountable margin.

I assume that whichever candidate or campaign works the most diligently to court these undecided voters will not only win the JMU vote, but also likely claim Harrisonburg as well.  Toward that end, rumors swirl that President Obama will visit JMU prior to the election as he did back in 2008.  And what sort of impact did the second presidential debates make? What will happen?  We’ll find out soon!

Romney vs. Quincy Adams

Today, at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney offered his thoughts regarding U.S. foreign policy.  The full text of his speech can be found here, but to follow is an excerpt:

The greater tragedy of it all is that we are missing an historic opportunity to win new friends who share our values in the Middle East—friends who are fighting for their own futures against the very same violent extremists, and evil tyrants, and angry mobs who seek to harm us.  Unfortunately, so many of these people who could be our friends feel that our President is indifferent to their quest for freedom and dignity. As one Syrian woman put it, ‘We will not forget that you forgot about us.’…

…I will restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf region—and work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination.

Now compare these ideas with those of John Quincy Adams, our 6th President.  While serving as Secretary of State, on July 4th 1821, he said the following:

Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her [America’s] heart, her benedictions, and her prayers be.  But, she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.  She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.  She is the champion and vindicator of her own.

Quite a difference of opinion, don’t you think?  Both seek to remake the world, but while Adams calls for a policy of peace and leading through example, Romney’s plan will invariably lead to bloodshed and is a call for either direct or covert military action, overthrowing regimes and installing ones more friendly to the United States and her ideals.

It wasn’t too long ago when both those on the left and those on the right would have rejected Romney’s plan of action and instead have embraced the reasoning of Quincy Adams.  As recently as the presidency of Bill Clinton, Republicans condemned the president’s military adventurism in the former Yugoslavia due to the fact that the conflict in no way threatened the security of the United States or her citizens.  In fact, the Kosovo Liberation Army, the group the United States supported in the conflict, had previously been declared a terrorist organization.  But the “isolationist” line of thinking of people like John Quincy Adams and the GOP ought to have changed after the attacks of 9-11, right?

In order to answer that question, we must ask another; what motivated the airline hijackings on 9/11?  Was it due to a rejection of our supposedly decadent American lifestyles and immorality?  Perhaps it was…in some small part.  But, if that reasoning alone was sufficient, why attack the United States?  Aren’t there a variety of “evil” countries closer to the Middle East that could have served as a target just as easily?  Could it be that there might be additional reasons?

It seems that a considerable number of Americans have little to no knowledge of Middle Eastern history prior to the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979 to 1981.  However, if we turn back the clock several decades, we find a prime example of when the United States interfered in the internal affairs of a Middle Eastern nation with unfortunate results.  Back in the 1950s, Mohammad Mosaddegh, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran sought to wrest control of Iran’s oil fields from the British.  In response, the British and the United States governments teamed up to launch a coup against Mosaddegh and propped up the Shah, a man who many Iranians came to view as an increasingly brutal dictator and an unwelcome westernization of their nation.   His overthrow in early 1979 led to the Islamic state, which now rules in Iran and remains hostile to the United States and her allies, as well as leading to the Iranian Hostage Crisis.  I am also certain these actions taken in Iran by the United States helped fuel the hatred and actions of the hijackers on 9/11.

Now I know what you are thinking, two wrongs don’t make a right.  And, of course, I agree.  Regardless of any U.S. foreign policy, the 9/11 hijackers were in no way justified in their actions and ought to be condemned by every civilized people.  But, if two wrongs don’t make a right, shouldn’t we also agree that three wrongs don’t make a right either?  Doesn’t Romney’s plan repeat the mistakes we made in Iran?  If we wouldn’t appreciate a foreign nation either overthrowing our leaders or propping up our despots, what makes us think that some other group of people would?  And isn’t it also possible that if we overthrow either the government of Syria or Iran such an action could lead to blowback that is far greater than what we have seen?

We seem to have forgotten that the primary purpose of both the United States government and its military is to protect the lives, liberties, and property of American citizens.  It is not intended to dole out taxpayer money to foreign governments, install puppet regimes, or promote the horribly misguided Wilsonian idea of “making the world safe for democracy.”  Should we ask our soldiers to give up their lives in order to promote governments that very well might have ties to the same ideology and people who attacked us on 9/11?

Therefore, we must reject any foreign policy that deviates from the limitations imposed by the Constitution.  Although it might be interesting to speculate how our government could mold a better world, we have seen far too many domestic failings of the feds first-hand through bailouts, subsidies, regulations, and overburdensome security at our airports.  What would make us think that the rest of the world would either desire or appreciate the same treatment?  As bad a leader as many of us think Barack Obama is, what would your reaction be if the Iranian government removed him from power and gave us a new president?

Haven’t we learned that we can no longer afford a neo-conservative foreign policy?  More importantly, doesn’t stumbling down this path foster greater hatred of the United States and, in the long run, make us less safe?  Don’t you think that it time to return to the wisdom of men like John Quincy Adams?

Taking Sides

As Election Day draws closer, each presidential candidate looks to capture the ever-dwindling block of undecided voters.  After all, as in many cases, the race will not be decided by either the hardcore Republican or Democratic activists, but rather the mass of swing voters that could tip the election in several ways.

Toward that end, I encourage you to check out a website called iSideWith.com, assuming you have not already done so.  I first discovered this site in late May.  After answering the questions, the results indicated that I had the most in common with Dr. Ron Paul, 99% in agreement to be exact.  Not much of a surprise, huh?  However, one oversight I noticed in the program was that it failed to include Virgil Goode, the Constitution Party candidate.  After a few back and forth emails with the creator of the site, I was glad to see that they ended up including him.  Now, I don’t necessarily plan to vote for Mr. Goode, but given that he is a candidate for president on a multitude of ballots across the county, I thought that he should be listed.  After all, to be an informed voter, one should be aware of all of one’s choices.

Once the GOP nomination had concluded and Ron Paul was no longer an option, I returned to iSideWith several times to see what they had to say about the other candidates.  Although my percentages fluctuate depending on which issues I believe are the most important on a given day, the results are always the same.

I suppose it shouldn’t come as any great surprise.  Former Governor Gary Johnson was my second choice in the GOP contest after Ron Paul and I collected signatures for both men to be on the Republican ballot in Virginia’s March 6th primary.

However, I should point out that I wouldn’t necessarily take your results as gospel truth; it should not be the only guide you use when pledging your support to one candidate or another.  After all, if you happen to be a single-issue voter, it doesn’t really matter how much you agree with a candidate on a range of topics if he or she happens to stand in stark contrast when it comes to your most important issue.

So, whether you happen to still be undecided as to who you will be supporting on November 6th, or you’re a died in the wool party person, I encourage you to try out iSideWith.  Maybe you’ll match in perfect lockstep with a certain candidate or perhaps there will be several with whom you agree.  Either way, I think you’ll find this site to be of interest.  Try it out and, if you feel so inclined, list your results in the comments sections below.  I’d be interested to discovering where my readers stand.

The Obama Stagnation

A guest article by Dan Wilson.

With the onset of the election, the economy continues to remain the number one issue on voters’ minds.  President Obama would have them believe he turned the economy around from the abyss after the financial crisis of 2008, and were now on a forward path because of his policies.  The problem with this story is that  it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Almost every broad-based measurement of economic well-being shows stagnation or decline over his term. Given this, voters should look towards the Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney, to lead this country towards economic revival.

For starters, look at the jobs market. 23 million Americans continue to remain unemployed, underemployed or stopped looking for work. The only reason the unemployment rate declined from its recessionary peak of 10% to its current level of 8.1% is from millions of Americans dropping out of the labor force. Since the unemployment rate is calculated by dividing the amount of people unemployed by the labor force, all it takes for the unemployment rate to drop is for individuals to become discouraged and stop registering their unemployed status to the government. The labor force participation rate stands at a 60 year low for males. Instead of finding a job millions of Americans have found it more convenient to live off the current administration’s expansion of the social safety net. In fact, the unemployment rate calculated with the same labor force participation rate held on January 2009 would be through the roof at 11.3%.

There has been 4.5 million private sector jobs added over the past 30 months that Obama likes to talk about. But, compared to other recoveries after a severe recession, 4.5 million jobs is disappointing to say the least. If this jobs recovery kept up with the pace of the Reagan recovery, roughly 7.5 million more people would have a job. Based on the past 20 years of job growth our economy is currently 13 million jobs below its trend line.

On top of that, a recent study demonstrated that most of the jobs lost during the recession were middle-class jobs while majority of the new jobs are lower class. In other words, not only have the quantity of jobs added under Obama undershot expectations, but they have also suffered in quality.

Given the dismal state of job and income growth, it’s no surprise that household incomes have actually fallen more during the so-called recovery than the actual recession. Under the latest estimations, household incomes fell 2.6% during the recessionary years and by 4.8% since.

Though the scariest picture of them all is the coming sovereign debt crisis this country faces similar to the situation facing many European countries. The current administration’s appetite for debt fueled government spending in the name of stimulus and wealth redistribution may be the final straw that breaks the back of our economy, equalizing us with the debt ridden, depressed economies of Europe. Since taking office, the Obama administration has run four consecutive trillion dollar deficits, increasing the national debt by 5.6 trillion in less than four years. The national debt as a percentage of GDP, which measures our liabilities against assets, has risen from an already too high rate of 70% when Obama took office, to over a whopping 100%. Under current budget projections, this ratio only worsens under an Obama second term, as the national debt continues to grow faster than the economy.

In short, economic statistics clearly reveal that the US economy has stagnated under the current administration’s policies and faces financial ruin in the near future if we don’t reverse course. Ultimately, voters will decide whether we stay with the status quo of misery or turn the corner and select a new set of policies with a Romney administration, which will foster prosperity that this country is so used to.

Daniel Wilson is a recent graduate of James Madison University and holds a degree in economics.

Time for Priebus to Go!

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

About a week ago, both the Republican Liberty Caucus and the Virginia state chapter of the RLC issued press releases calling for the resignation of the chairman of the Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.  The reasoning for this action revolves around the conflict that took place during the recent Republican Nation Convention in Tampa, Florida.

For many Republican and conservative activists who only heard news of the convention via reports from the mainstream media, much of this article may come as a bit of a shock.  However, behind the cheery exterior in Florida, there lurked a number of troubling accounts.

First, as mentioned in a previous article, the changes in the convention rules greatly upset a number of conservative activists including Virginia Republican National Committeeman and president of the Leadership Institute, Morton Blackwell.  Rather than using proportional voting in early state primaries, which would allow for greater development in the GOP primaries, this switch means that an exceedingly small number of voters in places like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina will likely dictate future party nominees.  In response, Blackwell warned that these changes would “concentrate and centralize more power at the top of the party, and to shut off opportunities for power in the party to flow from the bottom up”.  Video of the vote on this matter shows that the result was not decisive, but Speaker of the House John Boehner declared in a dictatorial fashion “in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it.”

Along these same lines, rather than unify the party behind Mitt Romney, the convention further drove a wedge between the Ron Paul and Romney supporters.  For starters, early in the convention, many delegates from Maine who supported Ron Paul were stripped of their voting power.  To make matters worse, although a candidate and elected official in the Republican Party, Representative Ron Paul was not allowed to speak on the convention floor.  Lastly, in a move which must have been done out of spite, when delegates from each state cast their votes, the officially announced totals made no mention of Paul’s total.

Here is a video which outlines all of the objections raised in this article:

Therefore, as stated at the beginning of this article, as a result of the events that took place under the leadership of RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, the Republican Liberty Caucus and many state chapters of the RLC have issued a resolution calling for his resignation.

The text of the RLC-VA resolution is as follows:

September 17, 2012 (Staunton, VA) – The Republican Liberty Caucus of Virginia Board approved the following resolution in response to the events at the Republican National Convention in Tampa:

Whereas, the management of the Republican National Convention in Tampa displayed a blatant disregard for the rules under which the convention committees and convention’s general business session were supposed to be conducted;

Whereas, national party leaders and agents of the Romney campaign worked to disenfranchise legitimately elected delegates, silence dissent and disregard legitimate motions and the results of votes during the national convention;

Whereas, fraud and coercion were used to pass new rules which reduce the power and autonomy of state and local party organizations, allow future rule changes without proper oversight by the body of the party and impose a top-down structure of governance in place of the party’s traditional bottom-up structure;

Whereas, most of the factional problems at the convention could have been resolved through reasonable negotiation in ways which promoted unity and cooperation, but were instead dealt with by a heavy handed incompetence which has led to greater divisions, a weakening of the party and loss of support for the presidential nominee;

Whereas, responsibility for the mismanagement and abuse of process at the national convention ultimately rests with the national Chairman;

Whereas, it is to the benefit of the party to protect the rights and interests of party members and preserve the traditional and unique practices of the state parties;

Therefore be it resolved that:

We call for the immediate resignation of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus;

We reject the validity of all of the revisions to the party rules passed at the Tampa convention and consider the 2008 rules to remain in effect;

We commend the efforts of the Republican National Committeeman from Virginia, Morton Blackwell, to prevent adoption of these odious rule changes;

We condemn Ben Ginsberg, John Sununu and John Boehner for their leadership of and complicity in these activities;

We assert the primacy of the state parties in determining policy for conducting party elections, nomination of candidates and apportionment of delegates within their states without the interference of the national committee or any campaign or outside entities.

We urge the Republican Party of Virginia State Central Committee, our State Chairman and our Republican National Committee representatives to act on this resolution and vote to return control of the party to the state parties and the body of party members.  We urge members to take this resolution to their local unit committees for passage by said committees, and for Virginia Republican activists to endorse it.

The unity of the Republican Party is in a sorry state due to the leadership, or lack thereof, of Reince Priebus and his confederates.  Conservatives and libertarians have been demoralized and disenfranchised and his actions have harmed the party and its candidates in not only the 2012 elections, but for elections in the years to come.

Partially as a result of the devious actions which took place at the convention, most Ron Paul supporters I know are unifying behind Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and, try as I might, I can’t say that I blame them.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Nothing defeats the Republican Party quite as well as the Republican Party.  We should never forget that Reince Pribus bears a considerable portion of this blame.

It is time for Priebus to go!

Ryan in Rockingham County

Paul Ryan in Rockingham County
Photo by Helen Shibut

Paul Ryan, the Republican Representative for Wisconsin’s First Congressional District and Mitt Romney’s running mate, made a campaign stop at the Rockingham County Fair Grounds on Friday.  His visit marks the first of any presidential or vice presidential candidate to the central Shenandoah Valley.

Besides Representative Ryan, speakers also included: Delegate Tony Wilt of Rockingham County, Delegate Steve Landes of Augusta County, State Senator Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg, and Representative Bob Goodlatte of Roanoke.

The event itself was quite well attended.  Most estimates I’ve read peg the audience about 3,000.  Like the recent Obama rally in Charlottesville, each person had to pass through “airport style security” overseen by both the Secret Service and the TSA.

Reaction to the gathering was mixed.  Although most of the people that I spoke with enjoyed Ryan’s speech, the event was plagued with a number of shortfalls.

First, no one could bring in liquids, which was expected.  However, the fact that one could not even get a cup of water without paying for it seemed completed absurd.  Would a person have to suffer through their thirst if he or she could not pay $2.00 for a beverage?

A view of a portion of the crowd and the fence that segregated attendees.

Second, the venue did not allow for a majority of the spectators to see Paul Ryan.  The organizers set up a ring of fences around the platform and only a portion could enter this circle.  Although raised, the platform was not nearly high enough for many people to even catch a glimpse of the man who could very well be our next vice president.

However, one positive aspect, as compared to the Obama event, was that the police did not close down traffic in a highly central location for the better part of an hour, which would have wasted the time of countless residents.

Overall, I would rate Ryan’s event a success even though, as mentioned, there were several aspects that could have been and should have been handled in a better manner.

So the next question is will any of the five presidential candidates: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Gary Johnson, Virgil Goode, or Jill Stein, make a stop in the Shenandoah Valley between now and the election?  If you will recall, four years ago Barack Obama won the city of Harrisonburg after making a speech at JMU while John McCain merely sent a relative to the local GOP headquarters.  After all, personal campaigning is an important element to electoral success and Ryan’s visit on Friday should serve to bolster the local Republican effort.  Now how will the other candidates respond?  Our first answer comes tomorrow when Libertarian Party candidate Judge Jim Gray speaks at JMU.

As a final note, I want to shout out a special thanks to Helen Shibut of Madison Liberty for the picture of Paul Ryan.  As mentioned, I happened to be one of the countless spectators who could not get close enough to get a usable shot.

Morton Blackwell on the Republican Convention

VC Note:  To follow is a letter Morton Blackwell wrote concerning the rules changes that took place at the Republican Convention in Tampa, FL.  Although it has already been posted on RedState, I thought that it would be of interest to many activists in Virginia, especially considering the questionable tactics employed against our delegates.

Dated September 2nd, 2012

Dear Fellow RNC Member,

Now that the national convention is over, many delegates and others have asked me to sum up my views on the controversy at the convention regarding The Rules of the Republican Party and where we should go from here.

What happened regarding the party rules in Tampa was a totally unnecessary – but largely successful attempt – to concentrate and centralize more power at the top of the party and restrict or shut off opportunities for power in the party to flow from the bottom up.

The effort was led by Ben Ginsberg, a member of the Convention Rules Committee from Washington, D.C., who represented himself as the spokesman for Mitt Romney’s Presidential Campaign.

Earlier this year, Mr. Ginsberg worked for the Presidential Campaign of Michele Bachmann.  In Tampa, he led the effort to make major changes in the party rules strongly opposed by Congresswoman Bachmann.

Mr. Ginsberg is simply a man unencumbered by principles.

For four years, the Republican National Committee’s Standing Committee on Rules carefully reviewed The Rules of the Republican Party and adopted changes to propose for adoption by the national convention.

Then the Republican National Committee voted unanimously to approve the new rules proposed by its Standing Committee on Rules and sent them on to the Convention Rules Committee.

Enter Ben Ginsberg.

At the Convention Rules Committee meeting, he proceeded to introduce and support many amendments to the newly-revised rules which had been approved the previous day by the RNC.

The changes he proposed shared a common theme:  to concentrate and centralize more power at the top of the party, and to shut off opportunities for power in the party to flow from the bottom up.

Since these rules changes would go into effect for the 2016 presidential election cycle, none of Mr. Ginsberg’s power grabs would in any way help us elect Mitt Romney and defeat President Barack Obama in November.

And I’m sure you agree defeating Obama should be our top priority this Election Year.

But Ben Ginsberg’s efforts predictably enraged conservative Republicans who treasure the protections long incorporated in our national party rules.

The record will show that during the Conventions Rules Committee meeting, as a member of that Committee from Virginia, I repeatedly warned Mr. Ginsberg that his power grabs would hurt the Romney campaign by outraging grassroots conservative and libertarian activists whom we want to support our candidates this year.

Unfortunately, Mr. Ginsberg continued on his path.

There are some folks who, if you give them a fur coat, think they’re King Kong.

As anyone with relevant experience should have foreseen, when the Rules Committee report was presented for consideration to the National Convention, a thunderous “NO!” vote arose from the convention floor.

Most of the news media and those of us in the convention hall agree that the vote on adopting the Rules was obviously close. Some believe the “NO” vote was louder, but Speaker Boehner ruled that the “ayes” had it.

I was the youngest elected Goldwater delegate at the 1964 national convention.  I have attended every national convention since, and I’ve represented Virginia on the RNC since 1988.

Nothing like this has ever happened before in living memory at a Republican National Convention.

When they were presumptive Presidential nominees – and when they were Presidents of the United States – neither George H.W. Bush nor George W. Bush ever attempted to undermine the means by which power within the Republican Party structure can rise from the bottom up.

The operatives whom the Romney campaign put in charge of Rules matters seem to want the power to rule the national Republican Party, as Nelson Rockefeller used to run the New York State Republican Party.

These operatives should be repudiated – and it’s not too late to do so.

Later in this email, I’ll discuss some of the awful changes Mr. Ginsberg supported.

But first, it’s necessary to stress how important I believe it is to elect Mitt Romney and defeat Barack Obama in November.

My wife and I have supported Republican candidates every year in our 40-year marriage.  This year, my wife and I have contributed at least five times as much money to Romney Victory, Inc. as we have ever given to any other campaign.

Four years ago, I predicted in a posting which still can be seen on the website RedState, how bad a President Barack Obama would be.

He has been even worse than I predicted.

Barack Obama is a leftist ideologue who has filled his Administration with other leftist ideologues, and their policies are bankrupting our country and destroying many of our liberties.

Mitt Romney strongly supports conservative principles – and he would undo the damage Obama has done.

He would end the slide into national bankruptcy, restore threatened liberties, and put our country on the path toward economic growth and more job opportunities.

It’s little short of tragic that some of his operatives blundered by setting up an entirely unnecessary, major controversy with grassroots Republicans at our national convention.

Undoubtedly, the worst power grab initiated by Mr. Ginsberg was his ramming through a change in the Rules of the Republican Party, a new Rule 12, which permits the Republican National Committee to change national rules between conventions.

The Democrats have had such a rule for years, and those in power in their party spend the periods between their national conventions fighting in their national committee over rules changes to benefit this or that faction, or this or that potential presidential nominee.

We Republicans have avoided that by prohibiting changes in the rules between our national conventions.

The office of the RNC Chairman is – and has to be – very powerful.  A National Committee of 168 members, which meets for a few hours two or three times a year, can’t micro-manage the RNC.

The RNC Chairman has the immense power of the purse and a large staff to influence the decisions of the RNC, so an RNC Chairman can get the votes of a super-majority of the RNC for just about anything he or she desires.

But until now, the fact that the RNC Chairman must abide by stable party rules has served as the main protection for input by grassroots conservatives and libertarians.

For practical purposes, the new Rule 12 adds to the power of the RNC Chairman (or to the White House when there’s a Republican President) the ability to change party rules at will.

Over a number of election cycles, our party has struggled to avoid the front-loading of our delegate selection process, moving us closer and closer to a single national primary as states race to the head of the line to hold their primaries.

Yet prudence dictates that there should be a reasonably long nomination process in order to properly vet all of our candidates.

After special studies and much consultation, many serious party leaders finally came up with a workable solution.  Party rules were changed in this cycle to prohibit winner-take-all primaries in March of presidential election years.  March primaries had to in some way allocate delegate votes proportionally to the popular vote.

The new system worked, and Mitt Romney is a better presidential candidate because of that experience.

Mr. Ginsberg gutted the hard-won reform by ramming through a change in the rules to permit winner-take-all primaries in March.

When I asked him why he did this, he replied to me, “It wasn’t our idea.  We did it as a favor for some friends.”

That’s a far cry from a process in which the best interests of our party are carefully discussed and considered.

I have innumerable times over the years recruited new participants into the Republican Party by stressing the fairness, openness, and stability of our Republican rules compared to those of the Democratic Party.

The way to treat newcomers to our party is fairly, politely, and even cordially.

That’s what we do in Virginia. And that’s how to build and sustain a majority party.

Among the many still-not-publicized rules changes rammed through the Convention Rules Committee by Mr. Ginsberg was one to raise from five to eight the number of states a presidential candidate would have to win in the nomination contests in order to have his or her name formally placed in nomination before the convention.

Raising the bar was a gratuitous slap at prospective new participants in our nomination process.

Despite his success in recruiting new volunteers, Congressman Ron Paul won a majority of the delegate votes in nowhere near five states this year.

To discuss all the power grabs the rules suffered this year would be tedious in a letter, so let me mention only some of them, including the one which resulted in a “compromise.”

Mr. Ginsberg got the Convention Rules Committee to pass a rule change which would allow presidential candidates to remove national convention delegates who were legally elected under the party rules and laws of the respective states.  This caused such a furor that a Minority Report to the Rules Committee Report seemed certain.

That would have forced a debate on the convention floor and a vote of the entire convention body.

A valid Minority Report required the support of 28 members – or 25% – of the Convention Rules Committee.  Well over 35 signatures were certain, despite all available arm-twisting of Mr. Ginsberg and those who supported him on everything else.

State parties, including Virginia’s, fiercely defended their right to elect their own delegates.  The “compromise” was for Mr. Ginsberg to agree to take out the provision which would have given candidates the power to disavow and remove legally elected delegates.

In place of that obnoxious provision was inserted a guarantee that delegate votes would go to candidates who won those delegate votes in binding presidential primaries, a matter which would have been routinely enforced under the existing rules.

Conservatives continued to mount efforts to file two Minority Reports, but in the end, enough Rules Committee members were persuaded not to sign them or to remove their signatures.

Neither had the required 28 signatures and one wound up with 27 valid signatures.

Therefore no Minority Reports reached the convention floor.

I should mention that Mr. Ginsberg moved one rules change which would have required the signatures of 40% of future Convention Rules Committees for a Minority Report to be considered on the convention floor.

That would have rendered future Minority Reports virtually impossible because the signatures would have to be obtained and the Minority Report filed within one hour of the adjournment of the Convention Rules Committee.

The opposition to this attempted power grab was so intense that Mr. Ginsberg withdrew his motion.

There circulated in the media coverage of the Tampa convention a report that a late and wayward bus deliberately prevented the Virginia Delegates from arriving at the convention hall in time for me to take part in the final (usually pro-forma) meeting of the Convention Rules Committee held as the convention began.

It is true that our Virginia bus got our delegation to the convention hall after the Convention Rules Committee meeting adjourned.  But I never for a minute believed our bus had been deliberately delayed.

One should not attribute to conspiracy what can adequately be explained by incompetence.  You will recall that staggeringly bad transportation arrangements inconvenienced most of the states’ delegations that day.

All in all, in most ways our 2012 convention was a roaring success.

We presented great speeches by Mitt Romney and his brilliant choice for running mate, Paul Ryan.  Other great speeches by Anne Romney, Marco Rubio, and a galaxy of others put our party’s best feet forward.  The 2012 Republican Platform clearly expressed our conservative and liberty-loving principles.

My strong advice is for all of us to work tirelessly and give generously to our national campaign.  Everything is on the line this year.

And there’s another reason for solid conservatives to contribute more time and money now.

I believe we shall win this election, and then there’s the important matter of staffing a new Administration.

I worked full-time in the Presidential Personnel Office of President-elect Ronald Reagan and then for three years on his White House staff.

Personnel is policy.

An incoming administration tends to hire people who contributed significantly to winning the election.

If we expect a new President to hire a lot of principled conservatives and libertarians, we should maximize the number of principled conservatives and libertarians who have credentialed themselves by taking part in the Mitt Romney campaign.

And then, in 2016 we can work to repeal the current Rule 12 – and reverse the other mistakes incorporated in the new rules last week.

Cordially,

Morton Blackwell
National Committeeman, Virginia

Romney & Allen Win Hob Nob Poll

This evening, the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber of Commerce held their annual Hob Nob event in Middletown, Virginia.  Unlike last year, which was marred by rain, overall attendance was up by around 30 to 40%.

The main attraction was both former Governors Tim Kaine and George Allen.  Each gave a brief speech, as did two members of the General Assembly who spoke on behalf of the campaigns of President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.  Although not offered a speaking role, Representative Frank Wolf, his Democratic and Independent opponents, Kristin Cabral and Kevin Chisholm, some of the statewide 2013 candidates, and a host of office seekers from either the city of Winchester or Frederick and Clarke Counties were also brought up on stage.

Each attendee to the Hob Nob had the option to participate in the 14-question straw poll with 211 choosing to do so.  For president, Mitt Romney emerged victorious with 127 votes or 60.2% as compared to Barack Obama’s 76 votes or 36%.  Unlike Virginia’s November ballot, none of the other candidates were listed.  Nevertheless, write-in candidates garnered 8 votes, but it is unknown whether one candidate won all eight or if it was spread among several or many.

Former Governors Allen and Kaine

In the U.S. Senate race, George Allen claimed 131 votes or 62.1% of the votes cast while Tim Kaine captured 80.  There were no write-ins in this race.

Moving on to the 10th district House of Representatives, Incumbent Frank Wolf easily won this straw poll with 72.7% of the votes as compared to Cabral’s 24.9% and Chisholm’s 2.4%.  As for the remaining contests, as the races were specific to certain cities and towns and likely unfamiliar to just about every reader, those results are not included in this report.

So does tonight’s straw poll herald a victory for Republicans in Virginia in November?  Or are a majority of the polls, which predict an Obama and Kaine, more accurate?  In less than two months we’ll have our answer.

Labor Day in Buena Vista

Although a small city in western Virginia, Buena Vista plays host to an important political event every Labor Day.  Earlier today, politicians, their campaigns, and throngs of grassroots activists descended upon the community to participate in their annual Labor Day parade.  This year, attendees included: Senator Mark Warner, former Governor and Democratic Senate hopeful Tim Kaine, former Governor and Republican Senate hopeful George Allen, former Representative and Constitution Party Presidential candidate Virgil Goode, Representative Bob Goodlatte, and his Democratic challenger Andy Schmookler.

The event had the one of the greatest concentrations of yard signs anywhere; from Interstate 81, the road into Buena Vista was lined.  Along the parade route, signage was even thicker, forming a virtual fence between the spectators and those walking in the procession in many places.  But which campaign was best represented in this aspect?  Of all of the candidates, Tim Kaine easily won the sign war; his total number of signs more than doubled his next closest competitor, George Allen, while Bob Goodlatte placed third.  Curiously, there were relatively few Mitt Romney signs and close to zero for President Barack Obama.  This trend could lead one to think that no one had much of an interest in the race at the top of the ticket.

Unlike previous years where I promoted either a candidate or the GOP, today I walked in the parade on behalf of We rVirginia, a conservative grassroots organization based outside of Richmond.  Although our group was considerably smaller than either the masses of Democratic and Republican volunteers, our folks were quite efficient, carrying our banner down the streets of Buena Vista while distributing hundreds of leaflets explaining both the purpose of the organization and comparing the stances of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

As the Buena Vista Labor Day continues to grow in attendance and importance, it is becoming a virtual can’t miss event for those seeking office in either the 6th Congressional district or statewide in Virginia.  Surprisingly, neither Lt. Governor Bill Bolling nor Ken Cuccinelli attended the gathering this year, but it is all but certain that whichever of these two men captures the GOP nod for Governor will have a huge showing in Buena Vista 2013 along with whoever wins the Democrats nominatation for Governor, as well as the various candidates for Lt. Governor and Attorney General.

See you again in Buena Vista on September 2, 2013!