Mitt Romney, the putative longtime Republican presidential frontrunner, ran into rough waters last night on Fox News. During a rare one-on-one interview, the former Massachusetts governor encountered major difficulty reconciling his past and present views on immigration, among other issues.
** QUICK HITS. A preliminary vote count for the first round of Egyptian parliamentary elections has the Muslim Brotherhood way out in front, with a staunch Islamist party running second, and a centrist party a distant third. The liberals who prompted the protests in Tahrir Square don’t appear to figure much in the mix. … Finally dropping the pose that he is in a general election campaign against President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney today claimed that he is more conservative than Newt Gingrich. It all depends on which version of himself he is referring to. … Herman Cain hasn’t dropped out yet, but he says he’ll reassess his candidacy with his family. He’s run out of runway on his relaunch. … Two more tax initiatives emerged today as prospects for the November 2012 California ballot, joining last week’s “Think Long” proposal to cut taxes for the wealthy and corporations and expand sales taxes to all manner of services. I’ll get into all that, with a pithy take on their prospects (or lack of same) in a Jerry-Rigging piece for tomorrow, which will include his two appointees to the critical California State Teachers Retirement System board.
** NEW POLL: GINGRICH TOPS IN POSITIVE INTENSITY AS ROMNEY HITS HIS LOW POINT. A new Gallup Poll shows former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with a big edge on the rest of the Republican presidential field in positive intensity. That’s the differential between very favorable and very unfavorable ratings.
Gingrich is at plus 20 now, while his closest competitor, Mitt Romney, is at his lowest measure with a score of 9.
Romney’s score is tied with the slumping Herman Cain, and only two points ahead of Rick Santorum.
Ron Paul follows at plus 2, tied with Michele Bachmann.
Rick Perry, who once led on this measure, now has a score of 0. He is trailed only by Jon Huntsman, at -2.
The trajectory of Gingrich’s Positive Intensity Score has shown a substantial drop and then an equally substantial rise over the course of the year. Gingrich’s score was 19 in March, but by summer it had plummeted to 1. The former speaker’s score then began an upward track, and has now reached 20 for two weeks in a row. This is Gingrich’s highest score of the year, is currently higher than the score of any other candidate by an 11-point margin, and leaves Gingrich as the only candidate with a double-digit score.
Still, for the first time since early May, the highest Positive Intensity Score over the last three weeks has been 20. This suggests that Gingrich leads in an environment in which Republicans are relatively unenthusiastic about any of the candidates running for their party’s nomination.
Three Republican candidates — Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain — have led or been tied for the lead in the Positive Intensity Score rankings at times this year, with scores well into the 20-point range. All have now dropped back into the single digits.
The first to fall from Republicans’ grace was Bachmann, who reached her high of 24 in June. Her scores dropped from that point, and in August they began a more pronounced slide, reaching a nadir of 1 in November, with a score of 2 for the Nov. 14-27 time period.
Perry had a Positive Intensity Score of 21 when Gallup began to track him in July; he reached his personal high point of 25 in August and in early September. Perry began to slide after that, and his current Positive Intensity Score of 0 has been his score in two out of the last three weeks.
Cain, along with Perry, has seen the largest drop in his Positive Intensity Score of any candidate this year, from his high of 34 in late September and early October to his current score of 9, a drop of 25 points. Cain’s fall has accelerated in recent weeks, dropping from 25 in the two-week period ending Nov. 6 — coinciding with allegations of sexual harassment when he was head of the National Restaurant Association in Washington, D.C. …
** NEW CALIFORNIA POLL: ROMNEY AND GINGRICH IN STATISTICAL DEAD HEAT, AS UNDECIDED RANKS GROW. California’s Republican presidential primary isn’t until next June, at which point it is probably irrelevant. The Golden State has seen little active campaigning aside from brief fundraising forays.
Yet we have some numbers, and they are not entirely out of line with national results, aside from showing Mitt Romney with a continuing slight edge over the surging Newt Gingrich.
Herman Cain, now melting down, is a distant third at 9%.
While former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, at 26%, continues to hold the top spot in voter preferences among California Republicans in the race for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has moved up to a strong second position, with 23% of the vote.
Texas Governor Rick Perry, who was competitive with Romney in California as recently as two
months ago, has fallen back, and now only obtains 3% of voter preferences. Each of the five other GOP contenders also poll in the single digits.
An increasing proportion of California Republicans (26%) are undecided. In addition, nearly eight in ten (77%) of the Republicans voters who express a preference for one of the candidates say that it is still early and admit they have not made a final decision about whom they will support in next June’s California presidential primary election
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO NETCAST
At 11:45 AM Pacific, President Barack Obama speaks at Scranton High School in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The event will be netcast live here on New West Notes. You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
** LIVE FROM THE WHITE HOUSE.
With massive geopolitical events swirling and the 2012 presidential race unfolding, the White House is increasingly a pivot point for the day’s events. Live streaming of key presidential events is now available as a matter of course here on New West Notes. You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
NWN will continue to present other live netcasts in full streaming mode, as it did with the Ronald Reagan Centennial events from the Reagan Library, as they emerge and are technically available and as significance dictates.
The Pakistani military today released video of what they say is the aftermath of Saturday’s deadly US air strikes on two Pakistani Army outposts on the border with Afghanistan. If the video is accurate, it’s not easy to see how US and NATO forces could have been fooled by the Taliban into attacking the outposts, which in this footage have been reduced to rubble. Aside from a general apology and promised investigations, the US has offered no official explanation.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … ALTERNEWT.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington, Pennsylvania, and New York.
Obama has received the daily intelligence and economic briefing in the Oval Office.
At 9:40 AM Pacific, Obama departs the White House on Marine One en route Joint Base Andrews, where he boards Air Force One.
At 9:55 AM Pacific, Obama departs Joint Base Andrews en route Scranton, Pennsylvania.
At 10:45 AM Pacific, Obama arrives Scranton, Pennsylvania.
At 11:05 AM Pacific, Obama meets with a Scranton family in a private residence.
At 11:45 AM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at Scranton High School.
This event will be netcast live here on New West Notes.
At 1:10 PM Pacific, Obama departs Scranton, Pennsylvania on Air Force One en route New York City.
At 1:55 PM Pacific, Obama arrives New York City.
At 3:05 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a fundraiser in a private residence in New York City.
At 4:30 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a fundraiser at the Gotham Bar and Grille.
At 6:05 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a fundraiser at the Sheraton Hotel.
Late in the day on Tuesday, Congressional Republicans, previously stand-offish at best, began throwing their support behind President Barack Obama’s bid to renew the payroll tax cut. That might help blunt the charge next year that their priority is only tax cuts for the wealthy. It may also be a good bolster for a sputtering economy.
The Senate is to vote this week.
One-time Republican presidential frontrunner Herman Cain appears to be teetering in the wake of an Atlanta woman’s charge that he carried on a 13-year affair with her. He denies it, but it doesn’t look good for him. Nor for Mitt Romney, who needs the anti-Romney right vote to have somewhere to go besides Newt Gingrich.
Something else that doesn’t look good for Romney, long touted as the most polished of presidential candidates, is the reality of his performance in press events.
On those rare occasions when he has them.
Take this one-on-one interview yesterday on Fox News, which looks like a disaster, as the Miami Herald recounts.
Mitt Romney has received his share of grief for ducking reporters, with fellow Republican opponent Jon Huntsman releasing a “Scared Mittless” web ad that poked fun at the candidate’s penchant for avoiding the news media.
Tonight, Fox News’ Bret Baier showed why Romney doesn’t do too many interviews. It took a good amount of digging for Baier to show that Romney really has no plan to deal with the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in this country. Romney doesn’t want them hunted down. But he doesn’t want them to stay. He wants them to apply for citizenship and go home. Which they won’t do because they’re here illegally.
This Mitt Romney wasn’t the calm Mitt Romney of the debates.
At times during the interview, Romney was icily peevish. He laughed mirthlessly, or denied video evidence showed him shifting his positions or suggested he was espousing clear positions – which nevertheless required clarification. When pushed, he told Baier at one point that people should read his book.
Just what everyone wants: A candidate whose positions require homework, if not a concordance.
Baier noted a few of Romney’s flip flops: climate change, abortion, immigration, gay rights.
Romney: “Your list is just not accurate. We’re going to have to be better informed about my views on issues.”
Romney has been almost completely absent from the chat show circuit, and has held only a half-dozen brief press avails in the past few months.
Is it any surprise? He’s done well in most of the Republican debates. But that’s in comparison to a field full of dunces, in events which because of their size are really more joint appearances than debates. And these debates have been curiously conducted by media organizations which give Romney a pass, never boring in on him as they have on other candidates.
In the latest sign of the unrest that accompanies austerity economics, today in the UK there is mass strike with over 2 million public sector workers out in protest over pay and pensions.
It’s the biggest such strike in over 80 years.
But in good news for the sputtering global economy, a half-dozen central banks intervened today to provide more liquidity to the global financial system.
The Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, and the central banks of Canada, Britain, Japan, and Switzerland agreed to lower the cost of existing dollar swap lines, jargon for reducing the cost of temporary dollar loans, to banks by 0.5%.
The British today also ordered the closing of Iran’s embassy in London in retaliation for the near sacking of their embassy in Tehran.
In Pakistan, protests continue over Saturday’s deadly air strikes against two Pakistani Army outposts on the Afghan border. Pakistani authorities also released video of the attack sites, which indicate that the outposts were situated in very clearly visible areas without foliage or geographic factors that could contribute to confusion.
Pakistan is continuing to block US/NATO supply routes into Afghanistan, with materiel piling up behind two great bottlenecks, making it prone to terrorist attack. The CIA has less than two weeks remaining to shut down drone operations at Shamsi Air Base.
And Pakistan is proving to be adamant in its decision not to take part in next week’s international summit on Afghanistan in Bonn, Germany.
Without Pakistan’s assistance, there is no viable strategy for the Afghan War.
Meanwhile, in Egypt’s complicated parliamentary elections, the first round of which concluded on Tuesday, the Muslim Brotherhood is claiming to have won upwards of 40% of the vote in a multi-party field. There are no official results as of yet.
Despite all the violence and tumult of recent days, the elections went off peacefully and with evident large turnouts in Cairo and Alexandria and elsewhere.
Obama is monitoring a variety of other geopolitical crises, mostly related to the Arab awakening, AfPak, and Iraq.
War Zone Times: Iraq is eleven hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is twelve and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
More than 1,400 police officers, some in riot gear, cleared the Occupy Los Angeles camp early Wednesday, moving protesters from a park around City Hall and arresting more than 200 who defied orders to leave.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
At 11 AM, he attends the funeral service for Vallejo Police Department Officer Jim Capoot at Corbus Field next to Vallejo High School.
Capoot, a former Marine, was shot to death earlier this month while pursuing bank robbers on foot after successfully ramming their vehicle during a high-speed chase.
In Los Angeles, not long after midnight, 1400 LAPD officers moved in on remaining Occupy LA protesters at the encampment outside City Hall, peacefully removing the demonstrators and taking down the camp.
A little under 300 Occupy protesters were arrested.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s performance on this compares very favorably with that of the heralded New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the hapless Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.
The Villaraigosa Administration and the LAPD liaised with the Occupy protesters throughout, developing and maintaining a decent sense of rapport.
Unsurprising, in that Villaraigosa, the former California Assembly speaker, is himself a former union organizer and ex-head of the LA chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
The situation was also aided by virtue of the fact that the protesters were resolutely peaceful. Unlike in Oakland, where a substantial anarchist faction was out for trouble from the beginning, and a certain woolly-headedness among many protesters blocked the group from denouncing vandalism and violence on the basis of supporting “diversity of tactics.”
** A SUBLIME AND RIDICULOUS DAY: MARS MISSION AND AFPAK DEBACLE. This Thanksgiving weekend saw the greatness of America and the failings of America both on dramatic display. On Saturday we simultaneously reached for the heavens and got further stuck in the mud.
First, very early in the day in the nebulous Afghan-Pakistan border region, NATO air strikes hit two Pakistani Army outposts, creating a severe crisis in the ill-fated Afghan War. Later on, halfway round the world on a bright Florida morning, the most ambitious mission yet to explore another planet lifted off on a nine-month flight to Mars. …
Two major events, both quite possibly historic, on the same day. Which direction will be the more powerful? … From my November 28th essay.
** SOUND AND FURY: THE UTTERLY UNSURPRISING “SUPER-COMMITTEE” FLOP.
“Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Macbeth – Act V, Scene V
** DARWINIAN: OBAMA GOES POST-IRAQ IN OZ, REPUBLICANS RACE TO THE PAST. … From my November 21st essay.
** ALI, FRAZIER, JACKSON, STALLONE: OF IMAGE, RACE, POLITICS, AND MYTH. … From my November 16th essay.
** VETERANS DAY IN A FRACTURED AMERICA. … From my November 12th essay.
** RECALLING JOE FRAZIER: AN APPRECIATION, AND A NOTE OF HORROR. … From my November 10th essay.
** OCUPADO. … From my November 4th essay.
** HIGH-SPEED RAIL: JERRY BROWN’S BIG MOVE TO THE FUTURE. … From my November 2nd essay.
** “OUT OF CONTEXT”: HILLARY’S P.R. OFFENSIVE. … From my October 29th column.
** STEVE JOBS: HARDLY A PERFECT PERSON, PERHAPS A PERFECT ICON. … From my October 26th essay.
** FROM GOVERNATOR TO MOONBEAM. … From my January 3rd, 2011 feature.
** OBAMA: RIDING WITH HISTORY. (NOTE: As Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States, this column was the featured column on the top of the front page of the Huffington Post.) … From my January 19th, 2009 Huffington Post column.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in three wars in the region, and the Arab awakening underway, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Based in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, Al Jazeera is very influential and more than a bit controversial. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer. The NWN live link to AJ does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the Russia Today channel. You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti. While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. With U.S. cable news chattering away as it does, this sort of respite can be informative. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Having crashed over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, 2008, crude oil is trading around $100 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $66 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity, and down $14 from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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