- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Let Buddy debate: And so goes the repeat refrain from the camp of persistent Republican presidential hopeful Buddy Roemer, barred from the major presidential debates by sponsoring news organizations because of his flagging or nonexistent poll numbers. But things are getting Buddy-friendly. The Boston Globe now says Mr. Roemer should be included in two upcoming debates in New Hampshire, noting, “Roemer is capable of bringing fresh energy to the long-running GOP show: It’s even possible to imagine him catching fire for at least a moment.”

He has support from local tea party groups, conservative activists and New Hampshire Republican Party officials who consider it a matter of honor to include Mr. Roemer in the debates, many citing “Live free or die,” the official state motto. Says former state party Chairman Fergus Cullen, “We provide a level playing field where lesser known, lesser funded candidates have an equal opportunity to get their message out and earn support.”

But wait. ABC News, which hosts the next Republican rumble on Saturday, has propped the door for Mr. Roemer, a former four-term congressman and governor of Louisiana who refuses to take any donations of more than $100.

“It’s my understanding is that ABC has contacted us, and if we get our numbers up to the 5 percent threshold or above in the New Hampshire tracking poll that will be released on Friday, then we’re in,” a spokesman tells Inside the Beltway. “And we say, well, sure. Why not let Buddy debate?”


It’s going to be a tricky, excruciating horse race until November, that is for sure. But here’s big news: The Washington Times has joined forces with one of the best-known pollsters on the planet to produce a series of surveys to keep the public on track as things get wild. Or weird. Yes, we’ll have the red-meat questions, along with the opinions of gun owners, NASCAR fans and tea partyers. Look for the first installment at The Times website Thursday midmorning, when our inaugural survey will be released and the mystery identity of our polling partner revealed.


The rising popularity of Republican pro-life candidates is giving pro-choice activists pause, perhaps. Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, joins Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire Democrat, on Thursday to launch what is deemed a “historic campaign” in the state as primary fever takes hold of both public and media.

The grass-roots outreach will encourage “direct dialogue with candidates in the 2012 elections,” which just might borrow a page from the Occupy Wall Street playbook. The organization is particularly keen on www.womenarewatching.org, a companion website that has the blessing of Cosmopolitan magazine, and a pledge that reads, “For too long, anti-choice politicians have worked furiously to undermine women’s health and destroy organizations like Planned Parenthood that protect women’s access to reproductive care.”

The site “highlights women’s health ‘chumps’ like Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich as well as women’s health ‘champs’ like President Obama,” Ms. Richards says.


“We spoke directly with the people of Iowa, in coffee shops and living rooms. We held over 370 town-hall meetings, in all 99 counties. We did not speed date our way through Iowa; we courted her votes. … The spark we struck in the Hawkeye State will ignite the tinder we’ve laid in New Hampshire and South Carolina.”

- Rick Santorum, explaining his current political strategy


Political victories ripple in restless Tweetville. Qorvis Communications took an overnight snapshot of the social media footprint of Iowa caucus victors Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Rep. Ron Paul to find that the trio added thousands of Twitter followers within hours of their wins. Mr. Paul grabbed 5,621 followers, Mr. Santorum 5,067 and Mr. Romney 2,890 - which must account for something.

Well, yes. The Twitter accounts of Mr. Paul and Mr. Santorum grew more in 12 hours than President Obama’s Twitter account grew during the entire month of December.

“Twitter doesn’t measure votes, Twitter measures momentum,” explains analyst Wyeth Ruthven, who deems the phenomenon “social media bounce.”


“President Obama is more popular overseas than he is here. But then again, he’s created more jobs over there,” NBC “Tonight” host Jay Leno said last fall - just one of 342 jokes told about Mr. Obama to late-night audiences in 2011. The president remains the top joke target of the midnight hour monologues despite his soaring rhetoric and podium prowess.

So says the Center for Media and Public Affairs, which tracked jokes from Mr. Leno, “Late Night” host Jimmy Fallon and CBS’ David Letterman through the end of the year. There’s much comedic bias. In the overall spectrum of buffoonery, Republicans were the targets of almost three-fourths of the jokes, the study found, with Herman Cain, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Michele Bachmann enduring the brunt among the GOP hopefuls.

The top Iowa finishers, however, were spared. Mitt Romney drew 79 jokes all year. Rep. Ron Paul was the butt of a mere 17 jokes, Rick Santorum just 16.


• 75 percent of Iowa caucus voters say they are Republicans, 23 percent are independents.

• 60 percent say they are “white evangelicals.”

• 46 percent decided whom to vote for on the day of the caucus.

• 33 percent of this group voted for Rick Santorum.

• 42 percent rate the economy as the most important issue in the race, 34 percent cited the budget deficit, 13 percent abortion.

• 25 percent said the most important candidate quality was to be a “true conservative.”

• 37 percent of this group supported Ron Paul, 36 percent supported Mr. Santorum and 1 percent supported Mitt Romney.

Source: An analysis of multiple recent polls by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, released Wednesday.

Polls, yeas, nays and neighs to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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