Directions, not Predictions

Everyone seems to offer predictions for the outcome for Tuesday’s election.  I have never been one to predict elections.  A sage political operative told me long ago, “Just when you think that you can predict the American electorate, you will be disappointed every time.”  And he was right.

 Rather, I will offer my suggestions of what to watch for on Tuesday night on national, regional, state and local elections.

 National:  I have no idea who will win on Tuesday.  I am supporting Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.  What to watch are the following:  Philadelphia suburbs, western Michigan, and coal mining areas of VA and WV breaking for Romney.  If those three areas go for Romney, then these states go for Romney.   Late closing states, including Iowa will be affected by that news.  Iowa polls close at 9PM.  Even if the results from the eastern states impact just .5% of the vote in Iowa, it is close enough here to make a difference.  Also, Ohio, Ohio, Ohio.  This presidential election, I believe will be won or lost from either side in a handful of Ohio counties and east of I-35 in Iowa.

 Regional:  Todd Akin in Missouri is the seat that will decide the control of the US Senate.  I believe that Scott Brown has lost in MA and George Allen is not going to win in VA.  If Todd Akin loses because the NRSC and the national PACs would not engage in this race and the Senate is lost, this will be a huge hit for those groups.  How will Todd Akin do?  Recent polling has him from 2 pts up to 5 pts down, but with Claire McCaskill consistently below 50%.  She has been a fixture in Missouri politics for over 20 years.  Missourians know her and she still can not get above this threshold. Bad news for her.  Todd Akin’s favorables are not good either; ironically, Mitt Romney’s coattails very well could help Akin.  Also, in Missouri, 6 of the 8 Congressional districts will be won overwhelmingly by Republican incumbents.    What to watch:  Margins of victory for Todd Akin in St. Charles County, 7th Congressional District (SW Missouri) and the I-44 corridor.  For Claire McCaskill watch her margins in St. Louis and Jackson Counties. Jefferson County  is the firewall for her as well.

 State:  Iowa is a mess.  Our politics are so convoluted because of the caucuses that both parties are in disarray.  There are no statewide candidates on the ballot this year, but 4 contested Congressional races, 100 state house seats, and 25 state senate seats.   Watch the Tom Latham race in the 3rd District in the only matchup between two incumbents. If Congressman Latham can win big in Polk County to defeat Leonard Boswell, look for a good night for the Romney/Ryan team in Iowa.  Ben Lange is in a rematch with Bruce Braley in the newly configured CD1. Watch results in Linn and Dubuque Counties to know how this race will go.   In CD2, which is arguably the least favorable for GOP candidates, watch Scott County.  If John Archer can come out of his home turf,  Scott County,  with a winning margin to overcome Johnson and Wapello Counties, he will beat the ‘most ineffective member of the Iowa Congressional Delegation’.  Watch Johnson County results as well.  Anything above 35% in this bluest of blue counties will be a winning night for Archer coupled with a strong showing in his home county.  If Steve King loses, well, pack in folks.  But here I will make a prediction, King 55%  Christie “Carpetbagger” Vilsack 45%

 Iowa House stays with a comfortable GOP majority.  Look for some upsets though.  Some unexpected results for incumbents and newcomers may be in store.

 Iowa Senate will be decided by the special election to be held in December to fill the vacancy left by the death of Sen. Pat Ward.   On election night, the GOP squeaks out a 2 vote majority, only to be tested in December.  (And you people in Polk and Dallas Counties thought that the phone calls would end???)

 An unknown in Iowa is the effect of the Ron Paul voters.  Will they fall into line with the GOP or will they continue to look for those candidates who are Pure Paul?  The state party is under their control and they will be either vilified for defeats or will be able to have an “I told you so” attitude.  Either way, the Iowa GOP is in dire need of an infusion of common sense.  Look for some interesting alliances to form after the election as we move into the next election cycle—statewide elections to be held in 2014.  Oh, and Tom Harkin’s seat will be up that year.  Will Tom decide that it is time to move on?  Depends upon the results of the congressional races I think.

 On the Supreme Court Justice retention vote, I will predict that Justice Wiggins will not be retained and this will be the last of these votes to be held because with a GOP House and Senate, Iowa voters will finally get an opportunity to vote on a  constitutional amendment defining  marriage and bringing an end to this disaster caused by an overreaching judiciary.  Judges in Iowa, and other states will think again before legislating from the bench.  Now if we could just get federal judges put up for a retention vote.  (how fun would that be?)

 Locally:  In Johnson County there is a ballot initiative for a $48M Justice Center (aka jail and county courthouse complex).  This has the GOP united and the Johnson County Dems split.  If the Iowa City results start coming back  with a majority of no votes, then this will go down in flames.  If this can get a 55% yes vote out of Iowa City, then its chances for passage improve.  It needs a 60% supermajority to pass.

 So there it is.  You are welcome to comment on Wednesday morning to congratulate me or tell me that I need to find something else to do in my spare time.  No matter what, I know that for the past 3 years I have done my very best to work for candidates who in my opinion are the best leaders for our country.   I have tremendous confidence in the American people to do the right thing.  Even if the candidates that I have supported are not elected, I will abide by the decision and be ready for what comes next.



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Surrogates with a Purpose

It has been over a year since I took the time to write on this blog.  Facebook and Twitter seem to get a quicker message out with less thought (and effort).  I made a promise to myself several months ago to begin to write here again, so on a cold, rainy Friday evening in late October we will re-engage.

Perhaps it is appropriate that my first entry after a long absence is about presidential politics.   Living in a battleground state has given Iowans a unique opportunity this year.  Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan have both made several visits to the state.  Surrogates the likes of Governors Bobby Jindal (LA), McDonnell (VA) and Walker (WI) have all visited, sometimes more than once.  And just this week, the Speaker of the House, John Boehner visited Davenport, Iowa City (yes, the People’s Republic of Johnson County), and Cedar Rapids to support not only the congressional campaigns of John Archer and Ben Lange, but to endorse the Romney/Ryan ticket as well.

But the surrogates that I had the pleasure to meet with today were the most impressive and most powerful of any that I have seen to date.

Five women who had all worked with Mitt Romney, some at the Salt Lake Olympics and some during his tenure as Massachusetts governor came to Iowa to talk about the Mitt Romney that they knew.  

These amazing and effective surrogates (and their titles during their tenure working with Mitt Romney) are:

          Ellen Roy Herzfelder – Secretary of Environmental Affairs

          Renee Fry – Secretary of Business & Technology

          Cindy Gillespie – Counselor to the Governor

          Beth Lindstrom – Secretary of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation

          Donna Tillery – Executive Assistant to Mitt Romney at Salt Lake City Olympics

Each one told compelling personal and professional stories about the man to whom they all referred to as “Mitt”.  One woman told about a father who had complications from heart surgery which caused her to leave her post for a short while and how Mitt Romney called every day and spoke to her for 30-40 minutes, just to make sure that she was okay.  Another woman spoke of having been recruited by Mitt Romney to his state cabinet, but was concerned about how she would juggle her work responsibilities with her young family of three boys, but was assured by Mitt Romney that he would work with her to be able to help her meet her family obligations and while accomplishing her professional goals.

Each woman spoke with true conviction and sincere affection for Mitt Romney.  What initially impressed me was that they all spoke about working “with” Mitt Romney, never “for” him.  That said a lot to me.

It also was striking to me as I listened to each of these women (and there are two other groups of five women traveling in other states) that we never hear from anyone like this from Barack Obama’s past—whether it be women or men.

Never any co-workers, classmates, fellow church parishioners, or childhood friends come forward to speak on Mr. Obama’s behalf.  That says a lot to me about these two men running for office.   I feel safe in saying that if I were ever in a position that I would need to have people come forward on my behalf that I could find at least five from various times and circumstances in my life.  Barack Obama has none.

I found this to be a very compelling argument for Mitt Romney.  In the debate the other evening, Mr. Romney clumsily spoke of having ‘binders full of names of women” from which to choose.  I knew what he meant.  President Obama knew what he meant.  I think any reasonable person would.

As I listened to these five women today, I did not think of any of them as pages from a binder—but women for whom Mitt Romney had come to know, to have confidence in to achieve their common goals and worked with him, never for him.

One of the members of our group in attendance today recommended that these women do TV ads for Mitt Romney.  I heartily agree.   

 Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have a little over two weeks as I write these to close the deal with the American people.  Mitt, if you are reading, these, you have five great salespeople here.  Send them in to get it done!


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The Exhibition Season is over

The Ames Straw Poll is over for another hopefully 8 years.  In as much as it is only held when there is a Republican Presidential primary, and we hope that will not be happening again until 2019.  My friend, Renee Hulshof, a Twitterina, and a Missouri political Diva (in a good way) tweeted this after attending the event yesterday:

“I have decided the iowa straw poll is like mo state Lincoln days on steroids crossed with a tailgate party.”  @ReneeHulshof

 Almost 17,000 ballots were cast and including vendors, visitors, curiosity seekers, and the media, the estimates were that about 25,000 were on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames yesterday.  Remarkably, or maybe not:   The ISU and Ames police reported no arrests or incidents.  Congratulations, everyone! 

 As you undoubtedly know, Congresswoman Michele Bachman bettered Congressman Ron Paul by 152 votes to be declared the ‘winner’ of the straw poll.   Gov. Tim Pawlenty was third, and less than 24 hours after the voting began, he dropped out of the Presidential race.

 Sen. Rick Santorum, finished a respectable fourth as his campaign was building momentum after what arguably was the best performance in the debate on the Thursday before the Straw Poll.  It was reported today, that online contributions to the Santorum campaign started coming in after the Thursday night debate and continued through this morning.  Very good for the cash strapped campaign.

 Rick Perry, the non-candidate candidate, who actually announced his candidacy while voting was going on in Ames garnered enough write-in votes to beat Mitt Romney.  Fabulous job by the 527 groups who worked the event on behalf of the Texas governor and helped to get the momentum for his candidacy started.  Romney chose not to take part in the straw poll after spending over $2M  on this event four years ago.  Many Romney people have told me that the national management of the campaign made the fatal mistake of thinking that a straw poll win translates into a caucus victory, but that was not to be as Gov. Mike Huckabee built on the momentum from his 2nd place finish at the 2007 straw poll into an Iowa caucus win four months later.

 As the winner of the Ames Straw Poll, Michele Bachmann has now entered into what the media likes to call the ‘top-tier’ of candidates.  I am not about to start advising the Bachmann campaign, but it is important to point out that even with Reagan advisor Ed Rollins on board, it is a different political climate in 2011 than it was in 1980.  Any gaffe by the candidate is broadcast almost immediately through the internet, 24 hour news channels, and social media.  As I write this tonight, a story has just crossed Twitter that Cong. Bachmann delayed giving her remarks at the Black Hawk County GOP dinner (in her birthplace of Waterloo, IA) because she did not want to appear on stage with Gov. Rick Perry and her staff wanted the lighting in the room changed.   Can you say “Diva” (in a bad way this time)?

 Mitt Romney has not been heard except to make a statement on the departure of Gov. Pawlenty.  Gov. Perry has a campaign bus (shazam–how did that happen so fast?).  Sen. Santorum is in John Paul Jones mode-“We have just begun to fight”.  And Michele Bachmann, well she is  showing up late to events, making demands and the rounds as she continues to almost beg the media to take her seriously.

 It appears that there are four viable candidates to compete in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries which follow Iowa in a short time period. Bachmann, Perry, Romney, and Santorum.  The Presidential campaign is out of the exhibition season and everything counts from this moment on.

 The Iowa Straw Poll did what it was designed to do:  raise money for the Iowa GOP and winnow the field.    Gov. Pawlenty left first, just wondering who will follow and when.  Stay tuned.

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A Thursday night in Ames, Iowa

It was an incredible opportunity to go to the Iowa State University campus (one of the most beautiful in the Midwest, I might add) for the Fox News/Iowa GOP/Washington Examiner Presidential debate.  Being there in person for such an event gives one a completely different perspective than one gets watching on television from home.

Bret Baier, Fox news Commentator came on stage about 7:50PM and after the obligatory references to “Field of Dreams” (Is this Heaven?  No, it’s Iowa) and pork chops on a stick, he explained the rules and asked that the audience applaud only when the candidates came on stage, after the commercial breaks and he said that he would give ample time to cheer at the end.  Most of that request fell on deaf ears.

Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn then addressed the crowd.  Note to Matt:  next time you have a debate, make sure that the notices for not taking cameras into the venue are in place and are displayed in a manner that anyone would be able to know that no cameras would be allowed.  And, since every cell phone sold in the US now has a camera on it, what was that rule about anyway?  Lots of ticked off people walking back to put cameras in their cars upon learning this at the ‘security’ check point.

It was then time for the main event as the candidates took the stage and began the two-hour televised event timed just prior to the Ames Straw Poll.

While admittedly, I am a supporter of Sen. Rick Santorum, it was obvious to even the most biased observer that his performance last night was outstanding.  Given the fact that in the first 45 minutes, he was asked only one question, when he was asked to respond or rebut, the answer was thoughtful, concise and to the point.  I have been at many of Sen. Santorum’s events and admittedly he, like the rest of the candidates has a stump speech.  However, I did not hear much of that speech last night and he demonstrated what I have come to know about this man, he is a committed, consistent conservative and was second only to Newt Gingrich last night in his ability to express his message in an articulate manner.   I would give Sen. Santorum five stars for his performance last night based upon his exchange with Cong. Ron Paul, which was the only real ‘debate’ of the evening.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich was the winner of the sound bite contest.  As  Dr. Frank Luntz stated on the Hannity post-debate show last night, Mr. Gingrich ‘won the war’.  His exchange with Chris Wallace, while red meat for the anti-mainstream media audience both in the auditorium and watching at home in my sense was more showmanship than anything else.  I am convinced more than ever that Newt Gingrich is in this race for the long haul.  He will still be left standing not only after the Straw Poll, but the Iowa caucuses and the leadoff primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina.  I give him four stars for his debate last night.

I thought that Herman Cain was also given less attention by the panel than other candidates. While I did not tally the number of questions or the amount of camera face time, I would say that Mr. Cain was summarily dismissed by the panel as well.  This incredibly articulate man with a common sense manner has appealed to so many Americans.  His missteps have been amplified in the press to his disadvantage, and while he tried to correct those last night, they were lost in the minutiae of some of the other nonsense that went on.     I also give Mr. Cain four stars for his performance last night.

Mitt Romney, who has decided that he would not be investing in Iowa like he did four years ago, gave a polished and well-rehearsed performance. But of course, he has not been on the campaign trail for the past month, and had ample time to memorize his seven-point plan for the economy and have his consultants ‘test’ certain buzz words for maximum response.  Also, this is his second time at the rodeo. There was nothing that he said that I disagreed with.     I understand from ‘insiders’ that he was the last to arrive for the debate, just minutes before the candidates were to take the stage.  He and Mr. Cain both went out of their way during the commercial breaks to interact with the other candidates and it appeared to me that both men were very genuine in doing so.  Given all this, I would rate Mitt Romney’s performance at three and one-half stars.

Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman made his one and only visit to Iowa in this debate. Why he was on stage rather than Thad McCotter is a mystery to me.  As far as his debate style, he did well.  He is articulate and got his ideas across, although he was probably the most liberal of the candidates who took the stage last night.  For showing up and not embarrassing himself, I give Mr. Huntsman three stars.

Now, to the last three candidates on stage—all of which tie for the worst performance of the evening.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty looked desperate in his attacks on Michele Bachmann.  I was not sure at some point whether we were at a debate for some office in the state of Minnesota or what.  Quite frankly, I do not care what Minnesota does.  I have come to believe that the ‘executive experience’ that one gets by being a governor does not always translate into the kind of experience that is needed to be President.  Tim Pawlenty lost me in the previous debate when he was served up the question about his previous comment on ‘Obmneycare’ and he failed to launch what could have been a significant strike on Mitt Romney.  His attacks on Michele Bachmann to me were reminiscent of the Senate debate between Hillary Clinton and her GOP opponent in 2000 when Mrs. Clinton was first running for the NY Senate seat.  Bad form for Pawlenty and I believe that he all but took himself out of the race last evening.  Gov. Pawlenty gets one star…and that is for attending.

Michele Bachmann started out the debate with her standard campaign rhetoric and then when she saw that would not work decided to portray herself as a victim.  Her body language, her deer in the headlights look when she was questioned, her delay at one point in returning to the podium after a break demonstrated to me that she is not as confident as she would like everyone to believe she is.  I will give Cong. Bachmann one and one-half stars.  She gets a boost over these other two because of the way that she answered Byron York’s question about ‘submission’ to her husband.  I was very disappointed in Byron—as he is a columnist that is on my must read list.

Lastly, Congressman Ron Paul.  His supporters were the most boisterous and confrontational of the night.  Bret Baier asked repeatedly of the audience to not applaud after answers, but those requests fell on deaf ears with his supporters.   Ron Paul’s answers to the questions were rambling, disjointed, and left me asking more often than not “What did he just say?”.  Sen. Santorum owned him on the issue of nuclear weapons in Iran and his ‘peace at no cost’ mantra did not play well with the rest of the adults in the auditorium.   His supporters are loyal and seem to be out to make a point.  I believe that it is a very real possibility that he could win the Ames Straw Poll tomorrow—but it will be somewhat like Roger Maris’s 61 home run season—with an asterisk after it.  Cong. Paul gets one star from me, but then I have to penalize him for the behavior of his supporters, so he nets a zero.

Looking forward to tomorrow’s Ames Straw Poll. Now it will get even more interesting.


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Ames, IA: The center of the political universe (for a day)

In six days, the Iowa Straw Poll will be held at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.  The pundits and prognosticators have been making predictions on how the candidates will place.  One important fact to remember is that event is a fundraiser for the Iowa Republican Party.    The participating candidates have paid a minimum of $15,000 for tent to meet and greet, feed, and entertain their supporters, most of which have been given the $30 ticket to vote by the campaign.  The participation fee also guarantees a speaking role in Hilton Coliseum. 

This year, things got a bit convoluted.  As in 2007, there were declared candidates who chose not to pay to play, but whose names were put on the ballot.  One undeclared, but anticipated candidate, Fred Thompson was also on the ballot.   Mitt Romney spent some $2Million to transport, ticket, feed, and adorn with campaign gear his supporters and came in first in the balloting, only to be overshadowed by the second place out of the blue finish by Gov. Mike Huckabee, now Fox News superstar. 

But back to this year:  Mitt Romney chose not to participate—at all.  In fact, when he comes to Iowa for the Iowa GOP /Fox News debate, it will be only his second visit to Iowa this campaign season, after practically becoming a resident of the state four years ago.   Newt Gingrich, running on empty in funding, also chose not to participate.  Rick Perry, the coy but engaging Governor of Texas still has not decided what he will do, but there are 527 groups who are advocating for his candidacy who will set up shop in the Holiday Inn Express, some four blocks from the main event.

Despite not paying to be a part of the Straw Poll, Romney, and Gingrich will all be listed on the ballot.  For the first time ever, a write-in provision is being offered. 

So on Saturday, an estimated 15,000-20,000 political activists and media will converge on the beautiful campus of Iowa State University for a day of speeches, music, free t-shirts, entertainment and those who are actual residents of the state of Iowa will cast a vote for their preferred candidate.  While this is by no means a binding election, it is significant because those candidates who do not garner a respectable showing in this poll, will most likely rethink their candidacy and may just pack up and go home.  Names of some of the more notable people who have fallen into that category are Elizabeth Dole, Tommy Thompson, Sam Brownback, Fred Thompson, and Dan Quayle to mention a few. 

So what is the function of the Iowa Straw Poll?  My friend, Bob Haus, one of the most politically astute people I know wrote about it today comparing it to the NFL Combine:

Yet, I have also heard it referred to aptly as the first bite of the apple.  Iowa has the unique role of not only having the first official vote—by the caucus—the second bite of the apple to determine the party nominee, but by the Ames Straw Poll also gets to have a say in winnowing out the field.      Two bites, get it?

It will be an interesting day for sure in Ames.  Will Ron Paul’s campaign finally show some real organizational strength?  Can Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann meet or exceed expectations?  What will the absence of Mitt Romney have on the voting and will a write-in effort on behalf of Rick Perry bear fruit?  Will Rick Santorum* be able to be the Mike Huckabee of 2012?

NBC’s Meet the Press will be live from Ames next weekend along with Fox News Channel’s Huckabee both  no doubt both interviewing as many of the candidates as possible. 

I am not going to make any predictions—except for this:  In what may be the last year for the Iowa Straw Poll as too many other states are complaining about Iowa’s influence in the presidential selection process, I believe that conventional wisdom may not be the hallmark of the day.  Stay tuned, but more importantly, if you live in Iowa, sign up to go.  The campaigns all have tickets and transportation available.    Be a part of history!

*In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a member of the Campaign Steering Committee for Sen. Rick Santorum and will be supporting him with my vote in Ames.

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Minnesota Nice- Tim Pawlenty

On July 18, Tim Pawlenty began his “Road to Recovery” tour at the Coralville, IA public library.  Along with about 60 other eastern Iowans, I attended to hear the former Governor of our neighbor to the north.

It was a hot day, and the Pawlenty campaign bus was caught up in traffic on I380—the interstate that connects Cedar Rapids with the Iowa City/Coralville area.  A local political reporter tweeted that it could be a metaphor for the campaign as the bus crept along at 10 mph.

Gov. Pawlenty was introduced by his wife, Mary.  She is a lovely woman and the two of them make a very attractive couple.  He then went on to speak for about 25 minutes talking about his background growing up in a blue-collar meat packing community, being the first in his family to attend college, campaigning for Ronald Reagan on the campus of the University of Minnesota, and  his vision for this country, and the need to get it back on the right track.  He cited his experience as Governor of Minnesota as the experience that had honed his skills to operate in the political environment that is Washington, DC.  The comment that was met with the most enthusiastic response was when Pawlenty talked about being a Republican governor in a state that had given us Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, and now Sen. Al Franken.  

But that is where the enthusiasm ended.  Gov. Pawlenty took questions from the group and outlined what he sees as the steps to help the failing American economy:  cutting corporate income taxes in half, putting individual income tax into two rates—10% and 25%, and eliminating taxes on capital gains, interest and dividend income, and phase out subsidies for not only ethanol, but all energy industries.  Pretty standard Republican (primary) fare.

But, Governor Pawlenty did not, and has not sealed the deal for me.  He spoke in a manner that was more rehearsed than from the heart.  He took a swipe at President Obama for his teleprompter, but let’s face it; these candidates have a stump speech that they can recite in their sleep.   In his cadence and with the volume that he spoke, he brought very little excitement to the event.

In his initial remarks, he took a veiled swipe at fellow Minnesotan, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann by saying that Iowa is the place to launch a Presidential campaign and that Iowans should be vigilant not to launch the wrong candidate into the race against Barack Obama next year.  I found this comment particularly interesting given that faux-pas that eliminated Gov. Pawlenty from my consideration about a month ago.  On a Fox News Sunday program he criticized Mitt Romney by referring to his Massachusetts state health care plan as “Obamneycare”.  Then the next night, in a debate in New Hampshire, when given the opportunity, with Mr. Romney on the same stage, he retreated and backed off of that remark.  It was at that moment, that I decided that Gov. Pawlenty would never be able to withstand what will be withering attacks from the Democrats in a Presidential campaign. 

Craig Robinson, in The Iowa Republican writes about Pawlenty’s recent campaign to paint Cong. Bachmann as not ready for prime time:

Michele Bachmann is definitely the one to beat in the upcoming Ames Straw Poll.  For reasons that I cannot explain, she seems to be the prohibitive favorite to win the Iowa GOP’s quadrennial fundraising event/poll next month.  But why would Pawlenty come out to criticize another Minnesotan, but unwilling to go after the national leader in the polls, Mitt Romney?  The answer can be found in the US Constitution.

The Twelfth Amendment which outlines the qualifications for Vice-President has a Habitation Clause.  It specifically prohibits the President and Vice-President from being residents of the same state.

So, if Michele Bachmann would become the GOP nominee for President, her fellow Minnesotan will be eliminated from consideration as her running mate.

Tim Pawlenty is an attractive man, taller than I expected, with a message that resonates with Republicans and is palatable to independents, but he lacks the passion to make the case for himself, and is probably too nice of a guy to be in the rough and tumble world of Presidential politics.

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Happy 235th Birthday, USA!

On this day 235 years ago, a group of men representing thirteen colonies of a territory which was part of the British Empire signed their name to a document now known as the Declaration of Independence.  There is no doubt that the debate that ensued in that “congressional incubator” that summer not only changed the course of history for those thirteen colonies and the continent on which they were located, but for the world as well.

From the film, “1776”

By placing their names on that document, these Patriots sealed their fate. The battles fought for our independence were not going well. After initial victories at Lexington and Concord, MA,  dispatches from General George Washington indicated that his small, but inspired militia was outmanned and at times overwhelmed by what was the most powerful military power in the world of that day.   If the British Army had prevailed, General Washington along with the signers of the Declaration no doubt would have been branded traitors against the Crown and summarily hanged as such.

But, that was not to be the case.  For five years, the Americans fought bravely and with inspiration,  ultimately defeated the Redcoats and the American nation was born. 

On this day, as we celebrate in our own ways and reflect upon the history and glory of our nation, we must never forget what was at stake for those brave Patriots some 235 years ago.  In their honor, please read this document, crafted so masterfully by Thomas Jefferson and through debate and compromise—at times with much rancor ratfied the document that became the birth certificate of America.

Happy Birthday, America!


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

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