Saturday, February 24, 2018
Politics

Five things we learned from the Iowa caucuses

1 Mitt Romney has a serious problem with the conservative base. He won the Iowa caucuses, barely, with just 25 percent of the vote. That's about what he got in the 2008 Iowa caucuses when he finished a distant second, and it mirrors his level of support in poll after poll nationally. It would be remarkable to have a nominee with a ceiling of 25 percent support in his party's base, but Romney just might pull it off. South Carolina and Florida could be the first opportunities to prove he can win a key contest with conservative support.

2 Iowa lived up to its reputation for winnowing the field. Caucus-goers knocked Michele Bachmann out of the race (showing that their much-hyped Ames straw poll is virtually meaningless), and crippled Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. What's more, the results proved with Rick Santorum that old-school, person-to-person campaigning can trump big money. Santorum won by hitting every county in the state and talking to every Republican he could find. Perry spent millions on TV in Iowa and still wound up in fifth place. Organization still matters in Iowa, where the top three finishers each put together formidable grass roots campaign operations.

3 Negative ads work. Voters decry them, and pundits speculate about backlashes for negativity. But Gingrich can attest to how effective they can be and how dangerous it is to dismiss them. A barrage of attack ads aired by an independent political committee working to elect Romney pushed Gingrich from front-runner to distant fourth-place finisher.

4 Gingrich's statesman posture is over. He won plenty of praise early on for staying positive in debates and decrying infighting that could damage the ultimate nominee against President Barack Obama. After a pro-Romney political committee wounded him in Iowa, Gingrich looks like an attack dog determined to take a big chunk out of Romney.

5 Romney is one lucky politician. First, he avoided heavyweight contenders such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie entering the race. Then he had five or six candidates vying to be the Romney alternative, criticizing each other and dividing up the conservative vote. Now, Perry says he's going to stay in at least through South Carolina, which could continue that dynamic. In 2008, a struggling Fred Thompson competed in South Carolina and helped deliver the state to John McCain. Perry could do the same for Romney in 2012.

Adam C. Smith can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Top Justice official alerted White House 2 weeks ago to ongoing issues in Kushnerís security clearance

Top Justice official alerted White House 2 weeks ago to ongoing issues in Kushnerís security clearance

WASHINGTON ó A top Justice Department official alerted the White House two weeks ago that significant information requiring additional investigation would further delay the security clearance process of senior adviser Jared Kushner, three people fami...
Published: 02/23/18
Former Florida congressmen say gun control measures need to go much further

Former Florida congressmen say gun control measures need to go much further

TAMPA ó A bipartisan pair of former congressmen spoke Friday about gun safety measures that are more drastic than those being considered following the Parkland school shootings, and about hopes for a national youth movement comparable to the 1960s an...
Published: 02/23/18

Gulfport candidates draw stark contrasts

GULFPORT ó One candidate is a plain-spoken, straightforward technology consultant who preaches "conservative fiscal responsibility" and votes Republican in national elections.The other is a self-proclaimed "progressive liberal" who practices law, pro...
Published: 02/23/18
William March: Gun issues playing bigger role now in local races

William March: Gun issues playing bigger role now in local races

In the aftermath of the Broward County high school shooting, gun rights issues have jumped to the forefront of local legislative races.Democratic challengers are calling out incumbents in Tampa legislative seats on their past stances on gun control."...
Published: 02/22/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to propose to President Donald Trump that transgender members of the U.S. military be allowed to continue serving despite the presidentís call last summer for a ban on all transgender service, acc...
Published: 02/22/18
Sen. Marco Rubio faces tough audience at riveting CNN forum on gun violence

Sen. Marco Rubio faces tough audience at riveting CNN forum on gun violence

After an emotionally draining day that captured national attention ó the massive rally in Tallahassee and a small, tearful gathering of survivors at the White House ó CNNís Wednesday night town hall on the Parkland shooting could have easily been ove...
Published: 02/22/18
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens indicted on felony invasion of privacy charge

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens indicted on felony invasion of privacy charge

A St. Louis grand jury has indicted Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on a felony invasion of privacy charge related to the Republicanís affair with a woman in 2015. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner announced the indictment Thursday. She launched an ...
Published: 02/22/18
Two weeks after Trump chose him for ambassador, nominee pledged money for a gala at Trumpís club

Two weeks after Trump chose him for ambassador, nominee pledged money for a gala at Trumpís club

Two weeks after President Donald Trump nominated Florida businessman Leandro Rizzuto Jr. to be ambassador to Barbados, Rizzuto pledged thousands of dollars to fund a gala at Trumpís Mar-a-Lago Club, the galaís organizer said.Rizzuto and his wife, Den...
Published: 02/22/18
Mueller files new charges in Manafort, Gates case

Mueller files new charges in Manafort, Gates case

New charges were filed Thursday against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner, ratcheting up the legal pressure on them as they prepare for a trial later this year.A new indictment has long been expected in special cou...
Published: 02/22/18
Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Gun advocates are absolutely right about this:A ban on assault weapons will not end school shootings.How do we know?Because there was a federal ban on assault weapons for 10 years, and mass killings persisted. Thatís because a ban deals only with fut...
Published: 02/22/18