Who gets to be the conservative standard-bearer in the 2012 race? There has been much competition among the Republican presidential hopefuls as to who "owns" this particular brand. But the field narrows. Texas Gov. Rick Perry leaves the GOP pageant as Mr. Congeniality. An ambivalent Rep. Ron Paul still relishes his Libertarian leanings. Mitt Romney is in touch with his inner conservative, depending on the day of the week. Which leaves Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.
New polling numbers place Mr. Gingrich in top-tier status. He won an endorsement from Mr. Perry; his rhetoric remains sure. Still, the coveted conservative crown could elude Mr. Gingrich after damaging press reports on a previous marriage, plus reinvigorated chatter about his "baggage," temperament and ethics. But wait. Mr. Santorum has been newly endorsed by Focus on the Family founder James C. Dobson, who praises Mr. Santorum as a stalwart.
"He has pleaded with the nation and its leaders to come to the aid of marriages, parents and their children. What a refreshing message," Mr. Dobson declares. "The Congress voted in 1969 to impose a marriage-penalty tax on husbands and wives struggling to raise their children. That unfair tax continued for 32 years, until George W. Bush rolled it back. Now, if Democrats and some Republicans have their way, the marriage-penalty tax will be reimposed in 2013. We desperately need a president who will intercede."
Values voters should support Mr. Santorum, advises Richard Viguerie, chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, who also insists that the former senator from Pennsylvania could provide a "natural home" for voters once in the Perry camp.
"Rick Santorum is only reliable conservative left in the race," Mr. Viguerie says. "Whatever others may say, no other candidate can be counted on to populate his administration with conservatives the way Santorum can be. No other candidate can be depended upon to govern as a conservative the way Santorum can be."
YOUR WEEKEND VIEWING
The precise and clever video "[Expletive] Girls Say" went viral online very quickly among viewers weary of the telling, annoying remarks that females make when they're behaving badly. Now here's something for conservatives weary of the telling, annoying remarks that liberals make when they're behaving badly - like "I support the troops, I just don't support their mission," "Republicans are all racists," "If only Republicans had listened to Paul Krugman, we wouldn't be in this mess" and "We can go when my car is charged."
It drew 6,000 viewers in the first hour it was posted online. It is smart, crisp and timely. The Media Research Center has produced this very astute bit of insight into the persistent mindset of the Left.
Find it here: http://mrctv.org/videos/stuff-liberals-say
PALMETTO TO SUNSHINE
The fat Republican field is now down to a frantic quartet as the South Carolina primary looms. Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are averaging hourly public appearances all day Friday across South Carolina, from big-deal rallies in convention centers a la Romney, to a visit to The Citadel for a "Patriot's Dinner" by Mr. Santorum.
Then it's time to switch gears. When the mayhem ends in the Palmetto State, it begins in the Sunshine State, where the Floridian politics include fierce senior citizens and Latin voters disenchanted with the Obama administration.
And yes, there's yet another debate: Gear up for No. 19 on Monday at 8 p.m. ET, broadcast on NBC, and co-sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times, the National Journal and the Florida Council of 100.
"Annoy a Liberal: Thank a Soldier."
(Bumper sticker spotted in Roanoke, Va.)
Big buses with a big cause have impact, as every political candidate and even C-SPAN will attest to. They are something to gawk at, a fabulous photo-op, a noisy novelty. Now here come the Heritage Foundation and the Family Research Council, hitting the road together aboard a 45-foot Values Bus, complete with a multi-city, nine-month long "Saving the American Dream" tour designed to spread practical, conservative solutions to critical issues among the oft-baffled public.
The big bus has made its debut in Charleston, just in time for the South Carolina primary. The vehicle, bristling with wireless Internet, flat-screen TVs and other paraphernalia, was greeted by none other than South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and spirited speechifying by the presidents of each organization - Ed Feulner of Heritage and Tony Perkins of the FRC.
"We'll be saving the American Dream one bus stop at a time," the good-natured Mr. Feulner says, noting that the bus next heads to Florida, the nation's capital, Missouri and Tennessee in the very near future.
POLL DU JOUR
• 86 percent of Americans believe the AFL-CIO has a "great deal or fair amount" of power in Washington; 45 percent trust the organization.
• 84 percent of Americans believe the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a "great deal or fair amount" of power in Washington; 60 percent trust the organization.
• 84 percent believe the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America has power in Washington; 47 percent trust it.
• 80 percent believe the National Association of Manufacturers has power in Washington; 80 percent trust it.
• 79 percent believe the National Rifle Association. has power in Washington; 57 percent trust it.
• 75 percent believe the National Education Association has power in Washington; 64 percent trust it.
• 74 percent say the AARP has power in Washington; 72 percent trust it.
• 67 percent believe the American Public Transportation Association has power in Washington; 72 percent trust it.
• 60 percent believe the American Red Cross has power in Washington; 85 percent trust it.
Source: A Harris Poll survey of 2,237 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 5-12 and released Thursday.
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