Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Political History

GOP debate: Rick Perry vs. Mitt Romney, plus Gary Johnson and some dogs


If you believe pollster Frank Luntz's focus group in the post-game analysis on Fox News, Mitt Romney did himself a lot of good in Thursday's two-hour Fox News/Google GOP Debate, held in Orlando, Fla.

Nine candidates faced questions from FNC anchors Bret Baier, Chris Wallace and Megyn Kelly, and from citizens via YouTube and text messages: Gary Johnson, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain and Jon Huntsman Jr.

Baier mentioned Google had provided Fox News with a new "boop" sound to indicate a candidate had run over time, since the former bell raised the ire of dog owners (and apparently the volume of their pets' barking).

Speaking of dogs, former New Mexico Gov. Johnson, who hasn't been in a debate since the first one in May, got in the line of the evening, quipping, "My next-door neighbors' two dogs have created more shovel-ready jobs than this current administration."

It got a lot of laughs even though some people swear they've heard Rush Limbaugh tell the same yarn.

Not to be outdone in the canine arena, Georgia-born businessman Cain criticized....

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Rick Perry's new video zeroes in on 'President Zero'

Our perspicacious colleague Robin Abcarian notes over here that much of what Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been doing during his first two Republican primary debates has resembled the successful, communicative mannerisms of Ronald Reagan.

There's another debate tonight at 6 p.m. Pacific on Fox News Channel. See if you agree.

Something else Perry has also been doing, like Mitt Romney too until recently, has been focusing his attacks on President Obama, as if the Texas governor was already running a general election campaign. (Scroll down for links to those attacks.)

There's a good reason behind that strategy: Polls of Republicans all along have shown they care more about defeating Obama than about the personalities and policies of individual GOP candidates. And this morning a new Gallup Poll shows more registered voters are considering voting for Romney (62%) than either of his two main rivals, Perry (53%) or Obama (54%).

Then Wednesday, released a devastating video on 'President Zero.'

"We don't need a president who apologizes for America," says Perry.

Watch the new video below. Let us know what you think.

And see if the images and narrative remind you of anything from our not-too-distant-political past. (Our answer is below this video.)

OK, did this video remind you of anything?

Perhaps of the classic 1984 Ronald Reagan reelection campaign ad, "Morning in America." For old time's sake, we'll throw that one in right here.



For last year's powerful midterm takeoff ad, "Mourning in America," click here to watch.


Plaintive Obama says: 'I can't do it alone'

Perry on Obama's Israel policy: 'Naive, arrogant, misguided and dangerous'

Obama's urgent jobs plan: 'Right now' really means sometime next month maybe 

--Andrew Malcolm

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N.H. poll shocker: Perry falls, Romney surges as does Jon Huntsman

Mitt Romney at a Florida Townhall 9-11

Well, here are a couple of -- no, make that several -- new wrinkles in the Republican presidential contest in New Hampshire:

With the next televised debate tonight in Florida on Fox News, a new poll of likely New Hampshire Republican voters shows Mitt Romney surging to a commanding 27-point lead over his closest GOP rival, who is not Rick Perry.

The Texas governor, whose mid-August entry saw him rush to the top of numerous national Republican polls, was pushed way down in the new Suffolk University Poll to fourth place deep into the single digits, barely ahead of the not-even-running Sarah Palin.

But here's a surprising, potentially significant development for the New Hampshire contest. Jon Huntsman, who's been swimming around the bottom of the field like a foraging flounder barely registering in most polls, has himself surged.

He's moved all the way up to 10% and third place -- ahead of Perry.

According to the new Suffolk University/7News poll of 400, the field there now stacks up this way:

Romney at 41%, up five points since June; Ron Paul at 14% and Huntsman at 10%, both up six points since June; Perry 8%; Palin 6%; Michele BJon Huntsman once caught a Fish This Big 7-11achmann 5%; Newt Gingrich at 4%; and Rick Santorum and Buddy Roemer both at 1%.

Romney's lead is impressive, though not surprising. He lives in New Hampshire part time, was all over the state's media as governor and a Senate candidate next door in Massachusetts and has made major investments there of time, staff and money.

Huntsman's soft-spoken, laid-back campaign style, which flops during televised debates, suits New Hampshire sidewalks perfectly.

He seems to have all the time in the world to talk with this one fellow here and then his wife, who comes along. That goes over well in the state where personal conversations are not only expected but demanded of visiting primary pols.

It was about this time in 1999 that John McCain's living-room-to-living-room efforts began to register ominously on the radar of his opponents. And then on a chilly January election day there, the first exit polls were so disturbing that George W. Bush's strategist Karl Rove did not finish his breakfast.

McCain ended up taking New Hampshire that night from another Texan in cowboy boots by a humbling 15 points.

Romney scored an impressive 69% favorable in the Suffolk survey, compared to 56% unfavorable for Palin. He looks poised and presidential in these debates. But if Huntsman defeated Romney there 3 1/2 months from now or even came close, that could prove crippling for Romney's second bid for his party's nomination.

If Perry can do well in South Carolina and maybe snatch Iowa from Bachmann, that sets up a real potential showdown with Romney in Florida, where tonight's 6 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time debate is co-sponsored by Google and the state party.

Nine Republicans will be on the Orlando stage, as ex-New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson qualified for a podium with a 1% standing in a set of polls.

Oh, and there's a straw poll at tonight's gathering too. Can you say Ron Paul?


Ron Paul wins California straw poll

It's everybody vs. Rick Perry in latest debate

New numbers find a Rick Perry-Mitt Romney race emerging

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Joe Raedle / Getty Images (Romney at a Florida town hall); Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press (Huntsman at an Iowa debate)

Plus-size woman seeks stocky man to share long walks on the beach, straight-ticket voting

Politics in existing families is pretty predictable, as are the stale disagreements around the dinner table.

But a new research study finds that before they form a family, American couples are surprisingly wary of revealing their politics to dates or potential mates online.

So wary, in fact, that members of both genders are more likely to describe themselves as overweight before they are to reveal their political persuasion. Obviously fearing to disclose their ignorance if they lean to the liberal side and being reluctant to appear boastful if they're more conservative.

The researchers -- Rose McDermott, Casey Klofstad and Peter Hatemi -- studied 2,944 random profiles from 313 Zip Codes on an unidentified Internet dating site. They found that only 14% indicated "political interests," and 57% of those safely described themselves as "middle of the road." Sixteen percent bragged of being conservative, while only 9% confessed to liberal leanings.Obama DisappointMINTS on sale in Tennessee

Political interests were so unpopular to list overall that they ranked fourth from the bottom of 27 categories, below even video games.

Compared to the 14% political, 17% were willing to publicly describe themselves as "heavyset" or another favorite euphemism, "stocky."

The older and better-educated, the would-be daters, the more comfortable they seemed listing political preferences.

The study, published in "Evolution and Human Behavior," noted the apparent disparity with previous studies that found spouses sharing political preferences more than any other interest, except religion.

Researchers theorize that at the getting-to-know-you stage, most members of both genders are reluctant to exclude anyone by possibly professing contrary political views. But that during the dating/courting process, both men and women tend to exclude partners of divergent politics, dumping the dummies who disagree with them.

"In the short run," said Klofstad, "most people want to cast as wide a net as possible when dating. However, in the long run, shared political preferences become a critical foundation of lasting relationships, despite the fact that many Americans are not even interested in politics."

The similarity in parental politics, however, contributes to another typical characteristic in American homes, political preferences being inherited by the children. Especially if they pursue extensive schooling to become thoughtful, well-informed, educated and, well, you know.


CAUTION: Falling satellite ahead

How Earth looks to incoming aliens

Jay Leno methodically interrogates Michele Bachmann on-air

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Saul Young / Associated Press (Obama DisappointMINTS on sale in Tennessee).

A plaintive Obama on his job: 'I can’t do it alone'

The Obamas arrive in NYC 9-19-11 for the UN and fundraisers

An enormous gap has opened in the economic reality that most Americans inhabit and the one that their perpetually campaigning president perceives.

According to the RealClearPolitics average, nearly three-out-of-four Americans believe Barack Obama has lead the nation down the wrong track; barely one-in-five disagree.

Their gloomy perception has something to do with at least 9% unemployment for 26 of the last 28 months, with the 14 million unemployed and the 18.5 million underemployed and with the White House's own economic growth predictions revised downward.a happy Obama in NYC 9-19-11

According to the Gallup Poll, Democrat Obama's job approval is at its lowest 40% now, with a majority (52%) disapproving.

But the president sees himself as having made "a bunch of tough choices" since taking office. And as a result of his leadership, he says, "We were able to pull this economy out of a Great Depression."

Obama spoke to about five dozen supporters Monday evening. Each had paid more than $35,000 to gather with him in an eighth floor apartment on New York's Park Avenue.

The week after his party endured an embarrassing special House election loss just across the East River, Obama is in Manhattan again ostensibly to attend the United Nations General Assembly session.

But he and wife Michelle will each also squeeze Democratic fundraising into their otherwise impossible schedules.

"I could not be prouder of the choices we made," the president proclaimed about his tenure so far.

However, perhaps inadvertently, Obama also uttered a backhanded admission of failure. "Although we stabilized the economy," he said, "we’ve stabilized it at a level that’s just too high, in terms of unemployment and in terms of hardship all across America."

Shunning the role of assertive chief executive, the former state senator sounded a complaint about politics in Washington: "What has been clear over the last two and a half years is that we have not had a willing partner."

Obama said he and Republicans have "a fundamentally different vision about where America needs to go," vowing to put teachers and construction crews back to work on rebuilding America.

Predictably, Obama said, "You’re already hearing the moans and groans from the other side about how we are engaging in class warfare and we’re being too populist and this and that and the other -- all the usual scripts. I mean, it’s predictable, the news releases that come out from the other side."

But then in a plaintive closing moment, the 44th president told the group, "I can’t do it alone."


National debt grows now at $3 million per minute

Day No. 972: Obama unveils a deficit reduction plan

Obama's penchant for speeches sounding hollower by the word

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: David Karp / Associated Press (the Obamas arrive in New York City for fundraisers and the UN session and a happy Obama).

Day No. 972: President Obama unveils a deficit reduction plan

Obama talks about the Deficit 9-19-11

"We didn’t need a rating agency to tell us that we need a balanced, long-term approach to deficit reduction. That was true last week. That was true last year. That was true the day I took office." --Barack Obama, Aug. 8, 2011.

Barack Obama took office Jan. 20, 2009. That was 972 days ago this morning, almost to the hour when he finally offered his newest full-blown deficit reduction plan. (See full Obama text below.)

Or as he put it, "Good morning, everybody. Please have a seat."

If it's Monday, the campaigning president must be issuing a new plan for something (before another $35,800 per ticket fundraiser in New York City). Last week it was his new Monday stimulus package, which was so urgent it's been delayed, as we discussed right here this morning.

Today, it was how to pay for his new stimulus package plus how to start reducing overspending and paying down the $14,000,000,000,000+ in debt that someone else is responsible for accumulating in recent years.

Here's the Washington Democrat's diagnosis:

During this past decade, profligate spending in Washington, tax cuts for multimillionaires and billionaires, the cost of two wars and the recession turned a record surplus into a yawning deficit, and that left us with a big pile of IOUs.

Everyone remembers his last deficit reduction plan in April. Back then he was determined "to shrink the deficit as a share of the economy, but not to do so so abruptly with spending cuts that would hamper growth or prevent us from helping small businesses and middle-class families get back on their feet."

Which struck many as suspiciously like not much of a shovel-ready deficit reduction program.

Now that it's autumn, it will surprise only children that the Democrat wants to increase taxes because we aren't paying enough and need more to spend. He also details impressive, large-scale cuts that include $1 trillion that we don't have and he says we won't be spending on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

According to this line of thinking, our spouse has been informed that we'll be buying a Lamborghini (red) with the cuts we've made in not buying a corporate jet.

"This plan cuts $2 in spending for every dollar in new revenues," the president proclaimed. Reforms to....

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Late-night jokes: Secret Service responds to Facebook threats with its own

an oakland Raider Fan

As The Ticket's 73,000-plus Twitter followers and 7,200 Facebook friends/fans know, we regularly share our daily picks of the late-night jokes of interest, usually before broadcast each evening. Feel free to pass this weekly collection on to friends using the "Share" buttons above.

Conan: Big announcement today: Facebook says it's appointed a new director of privacy. His name is Dave Jenkins. He lives at 17 Oakwood Lane and his PIN number is 3153.

Leno: Someone left threatening messages on the White House Facebook page. The Secret Service takes this very seriously and warns if caught, you will be Unfriended.

Fallon: A new study finds that a mother's diet affects her baby's allergies. Which can only mean one thing: My mom ate cats.

Conan: A Michigan man wearing a President Obama mask robbed a bank. Either that or President Obama has an exciting new plan to reduce the deficit.

Letterman: Did you hear in Brooklyn a guy found a three-foot rat! Ever hear of Gambian pouch rats? The pouch, that's where they keep their guns.

Leno: A new study says women are being more honest about their weight. Warning foa Scaler Guys: That doesn't mean YOU can be more honest about their weight. It's a one-way street.

Fallon: A South Carolina company is selling a device that tracks how many bites of food you have daily. I think we already have one. It's called your butt.

Fallon: In the last 30 years, the average homesize has increased 600 square feet. That's fitting since in the last 30 years the average person's size has increased 600 square feet.

Conan: A South Carolina man sneaked a TaserGun into an NFL game and tased somebody. The man was arrested and immediately signed by the Oakland Raiders.

Leno: Hmmm. You know that Philadelphia mint officer accused of stealing $2.4 million in coins? Well, he just paid his $50,000 bond all in nickels.

Leno: So this local porn studio is building a big underground bomb shelter for 1,500 people. Can you imagine that many poolboys, pizza guys and naughty nurses in one place?

Fallon: Researchers find that  your first decision is usually the right one. Then they were like, ‘Actually, wait, no. The second decision – THATS the right one.'

Leno: Good news for Obama. His approval overseas is very high, higher than at home. But then he's created more jobs overseas than at home.


Obama vows to double August's zero job growth

961 days in, Obama sick and tired of his own dawdling on job creation

President Obama's job approval is now lower than his uncle's blood alcohol level

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press (an Oakland Raider fan); Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times.

Who is Thaddeus McCotter and why care?


If there are themes to the Republican presidential candidacy of Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter -- other than hardly anybody knows he's running, or if they do know, they're not really sure who he is -- they're the role of the government (or lack thereof) in revitalizing the economy, the revolution in communications technology, dealing with China and the rights of sovereign citizens.

Oh, and he's introduced legislation to fix Social Security. More on that in a bit.

McCotter, who announced over the July 4th weekend, is a cerebral Roman Catholic father of three who plays rock guitar in a bipartisan band called the Second Amendments.

He's been a regular guest on Fox News' latenight pop-culture/politics roundtable show "RedEye W/GregGutfeld" (fans of which probably constitute his largest group of constituents outside of his actual group of constituents).

He opposes bank bailouts and excessive government spending but has a soft spot for organized labor and the auto bailout (McCotter's 11th District does lie hard by the Motor City, and the Livonia, Mich., native attended the University of Detroit).

The Ticket attended his speeches at both the Lincoln Club's breakfast during the....

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Obama's urgent jobs plan: Right now, 'right now' means sometime next month maybe

Podium Empty at the White House

Everybody remembers the urgency of President Obama's attitude toward the awful jobs situation.

Back in early August, Obama said the jobs situation was so urgent that he was going to give another speech about it -- in a month or so, in September after his vacation on Martha's Vineyard.

And then in September the president announced he would give his major jobs speech to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 7. But he neglected to check with congressional leaders first. And they suggested the 8th. So, since it was their House, the 8th it was.

"Tonight," the president said in the first 34 of his 4,021 words to a national television audience that night, "we meet at an urgent time for our country. We continue to face an economic crisis that has left millions of our neighbors jobless, and a political crisis that has made things worse."

The speech got panned as another political campaign one with Obama announcing, in effect, that....

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Ron Paul wins California Republican straw poll


This weekend, the California Republican Party had its 2011 Fall Convention at the JW Marriott Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. One presidential candidate, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, spoke at a dinner on Friday night, and Saturday morning's breakfast featured two more contenders: Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

Paul's fans were out in force both outside the hotel -- awaiting his arrival -- and inside the ticketed Lincoln Clubs Breakfast. He spoke last and was late, allowing McCotter to add a question-and-answer period to his prepared remarks (more on that later, check back).

McCotter is also on the roster of speakers for Sunday's Beverly Hills Tea Party, to be held from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Beverly Hills Park on Santa Monica Blvd.

Raucous cheers and whistles and whoops and screams -- one could be forgiven for wondering....

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
Democratic Politics



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