Blog Posts by Holly Bailey

  • As Iowans head to caucus, Obama argues he’s kept his ‘promises’

    Mitt Romney has repeatedly attacked President Obama on the trail here in Iowa by citing the speeches then-candidate Obama made in the state during the Democratic primary four years ago and telling voters he hasn't delivered.

    Today, the Obama campaign released a video that seemed to respond to Romney's attacks—though it made no mention of the Republican contender.

    Titled "Promises," the video features footage of Obama's caucus night victory speech in Iowa four years ago. It argues that Obama has delivered on the pledges he made in that speech, including ending the war in Iraq and passing health care reform.

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  • Why didn’t any of the 2012 candidates attack Mitt Romney in Iowa?

    (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

    DES MOINES, Iowa--Mitt Romney has long been considered the frontrunner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, but if he wins Iowa's caucuses on Tuesday, it will be partly because of one extraordinary fact: Not one of his Republican rivals ran a negative TV ad against him in the state.

    Sure, Romney was sometimes mentioned in the onslaught of attack ads that swept Iowa airwaves in the final days of the campaign. Ron Paul ran a television ad trashing Romney and Newt Gingrich as members of the status quo who won't bring the leadership necessary to really change Washington. And Make Us Great Again, a super PAC backing Rick Perry's candidacy, ran ads that took aim at Romney and Gingrich, questioning their conservative credentials.

    But none of Romney's 2012 rivals ran an ad solely taking on the former Massachusetts governor—a sign that they perhaps underestimated his rise in Iowa.

    Just 20 percent of the negative ads airing in Iowa targeted Romney, even as part of an attack on multiple candidates, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group. By comparison, 45 percent of the negative spots went after Gingrich—a statistic that explains, in part, why the former House speaker's poll numbers in the state plunged in the final days of the campaign.

    In hindsight, the decision to leave Romney untouched appears to be a serious miscalculation, one that Romney's opponents are unlikely to repeat as the focus shifts to New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary and onto other key early voting states, including South Carolina, Florida and Nevada.

    Our Destiny PAC, a super PAC supporting Jon Huntsman, is running an ad in New Hampshire calling Romney a "chameleon." And both Gingrich and Paul have pledged to take on Romney heading into New Hampshire.

    Romney's opponents will have plenty of ammunition, ranging from his health care plan in Massachusetts to his changing positions on social issues like abortion and gay marriage.

    "New Hampshire is the perfect state to have a debate over Romneycare and to have a debate about tax-paid abortions, which he signed, and to have a debate about appointing liberal judges, which he did," Gingrich said Sunday.

    As his rivals attacked each other in Iowa, Romney used the moment to try to rise above the fray and focus his attacks entirely on President Obama (while his super PAC, Restore Our Future, savaged Gingrich)—a strategy his advisers insist he'll maintain throughout the primary. The big unknown is how Romney will react should the other candidates train all of their firepower on him, as they have threatened to do.

    Asked by Yahoo News how the campaign might react to more scrutiny and attacks from the rest of the Republican field, Stuart Stevens, a Romney strategist, paused for several moments while he considered his answer.

    "You can never predict in campaigns what happens moment to moment," Stevens finally replied.

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  • Mitt Romney on Iowa: ‘We’re going to win this thing’

    Romney in Marion (Evan Vucci/AP)MARION, Iowa—Appearing before a jubilant crowd at a rally here, Mitt Romney appeared to predict a victory in Tuesday's Iowa caucuses—surprising his own advisers in the process.

    "We're going to win this thing with all of our passion and strength and do everything we can to get this campaign on the right track to go across the nation and pick up other states, to get the ballots I need, the votes I need, to become our nominee," Romney said.

    The statement, delivered in the final moments of a rally in a city that Romney overwhelmingly won back in 2008, took his campaign advisers by surprise.

    Asked about the quote by a reporter, David Kochel, Romney's top Iowa strategist, immediately turned to Stuart Stevens, Romney's chief political strategist, and said, "Did you hear that? Our guy said we're going to win Iowa."

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  • Romney’s test in Iowa and beyond: Can he unify social conservatives?

    (Charles Dharapak/AP)

    DAVENPORT, Iowa--Mitt Romney bounded on stage at the local fairgrounds here Monday morning with a final request for the voters who braved a wind chill in the single digits to hear him speak. "This county did good things for me last time around," Romney said. "I need you to go out and do that again, get even more votes, get your friends to go to the caucus with you."

    Like the candidate, Romney's advisers have shown signs of confidence heading into Tuesday's caucuses, going so far as to keep the candidate in the state until Wednesday morning for television interviews with the expectation that he will have good news to trumpet. But they have also been cautious about seeming overconfident of victory in Iowa, insisting to reporters that their strategy was only to "do well" in the state, not necessarily to win.

    Win or lose, the caucuses will be a major test of whether Romney can finally break through with the Republicans who have spent months looking for an alternative to his candidacy. The big challenge for Romney, who has struggled to move beyond the support of 25 percent of the voters in the polls, is whether he can finally convince Republicans to coalesce around his bid to be the party's challenger to President Barack Obama.

    The biggest danger for Romney, should he become the Republican nominee for president, is that social conservatives will stay on the sidelines in the general election, according to Steve Scheffler, an influential Republican National Committee member who heads up the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition. (Even though--or perhaps because--Romney ran as a born-again social conservative when he campaigned for president in 2004.)

    "He's ignored one whole segment of the party," Scheffler told Yahoo News. "They've made no effort whatsoever, zilch. … They've dissed them for over a year now, so they are going to have a pretty challenging time getting people on board to volunteer, to man phone banks--the tasks that this segment of the party is usually most enthusiastic about taking on. They are going to be in a world of hurt."

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  • Mitt Romney is now autographing voters’ checks in Iowa

    (Holly Bailey/Yahoo News)DUBUQUE, Iowa--Mitt Romney has said he will keep cautious watch over the nation's checkbook should he be elected president, but that doesn't mean he's not willing to sign a few checks on the road to the White House--at least those put forward by voters.

    At rally here, Lori Pearce asked Romney to sign a personal check, the only piece of paper she had. The candidate happily agreed, signing his name with a big swoosh in the payee line.

    "I almost wrote something funny, but I stopped," Romney said, returning Pearce's checkbook.

    Holding the check up for Yahoo News to photograph, Pearce said, "My husband is going to kill me!"

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  • (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

    ATLANTIC, Iowa--Mitt Romney began his final campaign push before the caucuses by making a stop Sunday at a small diner in this tiny western Iowa town—which, unsurprisingly, could not fully accommodate his audience of voters and reporters.

    It was the first stop of what will be a 625-mile cross-state journey over the next two days. The trip, which will literally take Romney from one side of the state to the other and back again, is focused on areas where the former Massachusetts governor did well four years ago.

    The journey provides plenty of logistical challenges for reporters trying to keep up with Romney. The candidate is expected to fly across the state from Sunday's final event in Council Bluffs to Davenport, the site of an early morning rally Monday morning. But the reporters accompanying Romney face a grueling five-hour bus ride across the state Sunday night.

    On Monday, Romney heads from Davenport to Dubuque, which will require another five hours of driving. He'll then hold an

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  • Confidence shaken, Rick Perry tries to rescue his 2012 campaign

    Perry in Fort Dodge (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

    FORT DODGE, Iowa--For weeks, Rick Perry has been everywhere in Iowa, or at least that's how it has felt.

    Backed by nearly $4 million in ads, the Texas governor's face has been a ubiquitous presence on television across the state, his voice a constant mainstay on local radio.

    "I'm Rick Perry, I'm not ashamed to talk about my faith," he confidently declares in the ads that have been airing almost nonstop in the state since early December.

    But when Perry turned up here on Saturday morning, he wasn't the man voters have been seeing on TV. Standing before a crowd of roughly 75 people at Bloomers Coffee Shop, he lacked the confidence and swagger that has defined his long political career in Texas.

    Instead, he spoke with an air of uncertainty that captures the state of his campaign, during what could be a last-ditch effort to save his struggling 2012 presidential campaign.

    His Republican rivals have long mastered their stump speeches, repeating variations of the same lines at every stop, but Perry spoke cautiously, his eyes drifting repeatedly away from voters in the room and down to pages of prepared text. Dominating his remarks were attacks on Rick Santorum, who has leaped ahead of Perry in the polls here and is now considered his chief rival for viability here and in contests to come.

    "Sen. Santorum is a good man. He's got a great family. I respect him substantially. But we do have differences," Perry said, eying his notes.

    Echoing a line of attack he unveiled just two days ago, Perry argued that Santorum is a creature of a Washington whose record isn't as conservative as he suggests.

    "If you want to truly overhaul Washington, D.C., we can't do that with a senator who has voted to raise the debt ceiling eight different times, allowing our debt to grow from $4.1 trillion to $9 trillion on his watch," Perry said, turning to his next page of text. "That's so much debt, it exceeds what President Obama has done in the White House."

    "And what's so important…" Perry paused, glancing at his text. "I've gotta ask Rick, 'What was so important that it compelled you to add greater debt to our children's charge card?'"

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  • Mitt Romney says crying is ‘nothing to be ashamed of’

    Mitt Romney's stump speech still lacks any mention of the other candidates for the Republican presidential nomination. But he appeared to make a passing reference to Newt Gingrich during a brief campaign swing in New Hampshire Friday, when he told a crowd that he wouldn't tear up when talking about his parents.

    "At a time like this I think about my parents, and I'm sure during the holidays you think about your parents as well," Romney told a crowd in Merrimack. "My mom and dad were extraordinary people, and they both left this life and moved on."

    "Don't cry," an audience member called out, in an apparent reference to Gingrich's teary moment in Iowa on Friday while discussing his mother, Kathleen, who died in 2003.

    "I won't cry, no, I won't," Romney replied. "But I do, I do. Nothing to be ashamed of in that regard."

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  • Romney’s schedule offers clue about his Iowa expectations—they’re high

    Romney in 2008 (LM Otero/AP)DES MOINES, Iowa--Mitt Romney isn't making any predictions about the outcome of next Tuesday's Republican presidential caucuses in Iowa, but his upcoming schedule suggests his campaign is confident he'll do well.

    Romney will stay overnight in Iowa next Tuesday after the caucuses, according to a press release sent out by his campaign on Friday. He won't depart for New Hampshire—the next state up in the 2012 presidential sweepstakes—until Wednesday morning.

    The schedule gives him enough time to make the rounds of the morning TV news shows—just in case Romney has occasion to take a victory lap in the aftermath of Tuesday's caucuses.

    By comparison, Newt Gingrich's campaign announced he'll head to New Hampshire on Tuesday night, shortly after the caucus results are announced.

    You could interpret that as a sign that Gingrich, whose poll numbers are in a free fall in Iowa, doesn't feel great about the upcoming vote and wants to hightail it out of town.

    Or not. In 2008, Mike Huckabee flew to New Hampshire in the middle of the night, celebrating his Iowa caucus win by bowling oranges down the plane's aisle and schmoozing with reporters and staff.  He promptly deplaned and sat for a series of TV interviews that morning.

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  • Christie warns he’ll return ‘Jersey style’ if Iowans don’t vote Romney

    Romney and Christie in West Des Moines (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

    WEST DES MOINES, Iowa--Chris Christie came to Iowa on Friday, not as a 2012 presidential candidate, as many Republicans in the state had hoped, but as Mitt Romney's most high-profile surrogate in the final days before Tuesday's first-in-the-nation caucuses.

    More than 100 people turned out before daylight in the parking lot of a Hy-Vee supermarket, standing for more than an hour in high winds and a steady drizzle to see Romney and Christie, the governor of New Jersey.

    Dressed in a pinstripe navy blue suit, Christie was greeted like a celebrity by the bundled-up masses, some of whom rushed outside to see the governor after taking refuge inside their cars against the harsh winter morning.

    Christie bluntly put forth what has become Romney's main talking point: That President Obama has failed to deliver on the hope and change he promised as a candidate four years ago.

    "The president is going to try to convince you somehow that he deserves to be rehired," Christie said. "Well let's be real clear, real clear: President Barack Obama came out to Iowa three years ago, and he talked to you about hope and change. Well let me tell ya, after three years of Obama, we're hopeless and changeless, and we need Mitt Romney to bring us back, to bring America back."

    Playing off his persona as a New Jersey tough guy, Christie issued a mock warning.

    "New Jersey's watching you … We're watching you real closely," he said. "And I want to tell you something. I want to tell you something really clearly. I'm in a good mood this morning. I'm feeling happy and upbeat. I'm happy to be with Mitt and Ann. But let me tell ya, if you people disappoint me Tuesday, if you don't do what you're supposed to do on Tuesday for Mitt Romney. I will be back, Jersey-style."

    Afterward, as Christie moved through the crowd toward Romney's bus, a man called out, "I wish it were you!" Christie smiled, but did not respond.

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