In preparation for Alaska's Republican primary on February 5th, 2008, where 29 delegates will get their "marching orders" for the national convention, three Republican Presidential candidates stumped for votes at the GOP picnic held at Kincaid Park in Anchorage on Thursday September 13th. Full story aired on KTUU Channel 2 Anchorage.
Actually, the candidates themselves were not there, but three of them, the Romney, Giuliani, and Thompson campaigns, were represented by proxy. But only one of them brought in a representative from outside Alaska - the Romney campaign.
And the Romney campaign didn't just entrust this task to anyone, but to someone who knows Mitt Romney quite well - Josh Romney (pictured above left), one of Mitt's five sons. Along with his four brothers, Tagg, Ben, Craig, and Matt, Josh has been campaigning across the country for his father.
Josh Romney himself has traveled across the country and to all 99 counties in Iowa in support of his father. He arrived in Alaska on Thursday to continue his effort to help his father, the former governor of Massachusetts, become elected the next president of the United States, and discussed his role and plans with the local media.
"We're having a great time. We are all out campaigning. It's a big asset for my dad to have all of us across the country, sharing his message and hopefully helping people to understand and know my dad a little better," Josh said.
The candidate's son also said that family values are the number one priority for his father, followed by a strong economy and strong military. Mitt Romney, a top contender for the GOP nomination, recently won the Iowa Republican Primary straw poll in Ames. However, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, a latecomer to the GOP field, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani are ahead in national polls. The newly-released AP/Ipsos poll shows Giuliani with 24%, Thompson with 19%, McCain with 15%, and Romney with only 7% (on the Democratic side, Hillary has 34%, Obama 20%, and John Edwards 10%).
Neither the Thompson nor the Giuliani campaigns sent outside representatives to Alaska, so local Republicans acted as proxies. The highly-respected State House Majority Leader Ralph Samuels (R-Anchorage), who is the acknowledged legislative expert on oil and gas issues, spoke on behalf of the Thompson campaign. "I think he's polling well. I haven't seen any Alaska numbers but I think as far as Alaska values, he probably very much typifies what a Republican voter will be looking for in a presidential candidate in Alaska," said Samuels.
Anchorage Assemblyman Dan Sullivan, the co-chairman of Rudy Guiliani's Alaska campaign, believes his candidate will perform well here. "I think Alaskans have a really strong focus on public safety and that's where Rudy's strengths are," Sullivan said. "And I think that will resonate with Alaskans."
Analysis: Sullivan's support of Giuliani is a bit surprising. While Giuliani has a reputation of being a real life "law-and-order guy", based on his cleanup of New York City while mayor, much of the bump stems from the incredible series of orchestrated photo ops concomitant with 9-11. In addition. Giuliani was recently quoted as saying that he didn't consider illegal immigration a crime, while Sullivan, on the other hand, has been identified to me as a supporter of Anchorage Assemblyman Paul Bauer's immigration ordinance.
Samuels' support of Fred Thompson is much less surprising. The two seem much alike in character and politics. Both have reputations for minimizing partisanship and gravitating towards common sense.
Romney's single-digit standing in the polls merely reflects his track record in connecting with voters so far and underrepresents the much greater potential that lies within his campaign. According to the non-partisan National Journal, which rates the candidates based not only upon polls, but also on organization, money, and "buzz", their latest rankings show Giuliani first, Romney second, Thompson third, and John McCain tied with Mike Huckabee at fourth. So the Romney campaign has the organization, the money, and plenty of "buzz" - what it needs to do is translate that into more success. The National Journal offers its opinion on why this may not be happening:
So what's Act 2? The campaign seems to be getting its "winning Iowa, winning New Hampshire" momentum now, meaning Romney needs to prepare to have his actual victories in these states overlooked a bit. Is that fair? No, but it may be the reality he's living in. He ought to be glad that South Carolina is looking like the best place for him to prove his mettle, rather than a state like Florida. But the big worry for the campaign has to be the entire field ganging up on him. Is Romney to the GOP establishment what Howard Dean was to the Democrats? The way Dem forces combined to destroy Dean in Iowa, will GOP forces do the same? The level of venom the field has collectively for Romney has surprised us. He needs to change that tone or discredit more of his challengers.
And any potential "tag-team action" against Romney will be aided by an anti-Romney site created by the Democrats, http://www.romneyfacts.com/. The site highlights seeming contradictions and past "flip-flops", but then blowing them out of proportion (when you consider that Hillary is the ultimate "flip-flopper"). This flip-flop reputation is the biggest hurdle for Romney to overcome, and he must explain changes in previous positions more effectively. His Mormonism, once considered a problem, seems to be receding as a negative issue.
And now the Republican Presidential picture has been muddied a bit further by the entry of retread candidate Alan Keyes into the fray. According to the RenewAmerica website, on Friday, September 14th, Alan Keyes filed a Statement of Candidacy (Form 2) with the Federal Election Commission--thus officially announcing as a Republican candidate for President of the United States. Keyes states that he's "unmoved" by the lack of moral courage shown by the other candidates, among whom he sees no standout who articulates the "key kernel of truth that must, with courage, be presented to our people." The former Reagan diplomat ran previously for president in 1996 and 2000. During the 1996 race, he was widely credited with forcing abortion to the center of public policy debate.
However, in 2004, he suddenly accepted the Illinois Republican Party's nomination to run for the U.S. Senate in opposition to Barack Obama. Because Keyes abruptly changed his residence from Maryland to Illinois, he was widely perceived as a carpetbagger, and Obama crushed him in the election by a 70% to 27% margin. Keyes' official campaign website is at http://www.alankeyes.com/, and what he brings to the debate that isn't already offered by another candidate absolutely escapes me.