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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Ron Paul

Chris Christie won't run but doesn't mind being asked

   Chris-Christie-Reagan-Library

Chris Christie, the wildly popular northeastern governor -- at least in GOP circles -- spoke in soaring terms on the subject of American exceptionalism Tuesday evening at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Foundation in Simi Valley.

The theme of the official speech was American exceptionalism -- delivered to an audience that included Nancy Reagan, former California Gov. Pete Wilson and conservative activist Andrew Breitbart.

But the theme of the Q&A that followed was about whether the New Jersey governor would jump into the 2012 Republican presidential race.

(Ciick here and here for a two-part video; and here for the full text, courtesy of The Weekly Standard.)

But first, he was asked about a subject that caused some trouble for a declared candidate, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, in the last GOP debate down in Florida. Defending his decision with the Texas Legislature to grant discounted in-state tuition rates to children of illegal aliens, Perry had said:

"If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they've been brought there by no fault of their own, I don't think you have a heart."

Christie took exception to that:

As for the education expense, I've dealt with this problem in New Jersey, and I need to be crystal clear about it. I want every child to be educated, but I do not believe that, for the people who came here illegally, that we should be subsidizing, with taxpayer money, through in-state tuition, their education.

Let me be very clear, from my perspective, that is not a heartless position. That is a common-sense position.

The next questioner addressed the presidential campaign: "Gov. Christie, you're known as a straight-shooter, not one given to playing games. Can you tell us what's going on here? Are you reconsidering or are you standing firm?"

"Listen," said Christie, "I have to tell you the truth -- you folks are an incredible disappointment as an audience." That got big laughs. "The fact that it took to the second question shows you people are off your game. That is not American exceptionalism."

That got bigger laughs.

But then the governor referred his listeners to Politico.com, which today posted a video compilation of Christie's denials that he's running.

Check it out below:

But that didn't retire the subject.

A few minutes later, after Christie told a story about his entitlement curbs earning him boos from some firefighters, ending with, "Real leaders, they don't read polls; they change polls" -- it came up again.

A former New Jersey resident, now in California, praised the governor, said he made her proud and then told him, "My Italian mother, she told me to tell you, you gotta run for president."

After a big burst of cheers and applause, Christie said, "Well, I'm going to press my luck here and respond to that. If I make you proud to be a New Jerseyan and proud to be an American, and your Italian mother wants me to run for president, what the hell are you doing in California? Get back to New Jersey.

"Let's go. Come home, for God's sake. What are you doing out here? I got a plane, you can come right back now if you want. Yeah, come on, meet me by the side over there, we'll take you home ... Getting more taxpayers, one at a time."

But it wasn't over yet.

The very next questioner, an older woman in the balcony, made an earnest plea for him to get into the race.

"Go home and really think about it," she said at the end. "Do it for my daughter, do it for our grandchildren, do it for our sons. Please, sir, don't ... we need you. Your country needs you."

The crowd roared and rose to its feet, while Christie stood, with a stricken and emotional look on his face. But, stricken or not, he had an answer, and here it is:

"This is all I'll say about this tonight, is that I hear exactly what you're saying, and I feel the passion with which you say it. It touches me. I can tell you, I'm just a kid from New Jersey who feels like I'm the luckiest guy in the world to have the opportunity that I have to be the governor of my state.

"So, people say to me all the time now, when folks like you say those kinds of things, for as many months as it's been said, 'Governor, why don't they just leave you alone? You've already given your answer. Isn't it a burden?'

"What I say to you tonight and say to everybody else who was nice enough to applaud what she said,  is that it isn't a burden.

"The fact of the matter is, anybody who has an ego large enough to say, 'Oh, please, please, please, stop asking me to be the leader of the free world, it's such a burden. If you could please just stop.' What kind of crazy egomaniac would you have to be to say, 'Oh, please stop, stop.'

"It's extraordinarily flattering. But by the same token, that heartfelt message you gave me is also not a reason for me to do it. The reason has to reside inside me.

"And so, that's what I've said all along. I know, without ever having met President Reagan, that he must have felt deeply in his heart that he was called to that moment, to lead our country.

"And so, my answer to you is this, I thank you for what you're saying, and I take it in, and I'm listening to every word of it and feeling it, too. Please don't ever think for a second that I feel like I'm important enough in this world that somehow what you're saying is a problem for me. It's a great, great honor. I'm extraordinarily flattered, and I really appreciate you being willing to stand up and say it with the passion that you did.

"That's why this country is a great place, because of folks like you. So, thank you very much."

And with that, the governor left, perhaps finally putting this issue to rest -- or so he hopes, anyway.

Meanwhile, Rep. Ron Paul, who's on his third presidential run, and Gov. Mitt Romney, who's been running steadily since before the 2007 primaries, have to wonder, Where's the love? as the GOP faithful rush to Perry (at least they did, for a while), beg non-candidates Christie and Sarah Palin to run, and deliver longshot Herman Cain a decisive win in the Florida GOP straw poll.

There still seems to be a hole in Republican hearts.

RELATED:

Herman Cain handily wins Florida GOP straw poll

Rick Perry's underwhelming debates: Do they matter?

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

-- Kate O'Hare

Photos/videos: Chris Christie speaks at the Reagan library. Credits: Fox News (screenshot of Christie); Livestream.com/ReaganLibrary (screenshot of Christie and audience).

Rick Perry's underwhelming debates: Do they matter?

Governors Rick Perry and Mitt Romney Argue in the Republican debate 9-12-11

The news wasn't so good for the Republican presidential candidate who occupies the governor's office down there in Texas.

With their space-age podiums, cheering (or booing) audiences and their gotcha questions from media folks with their own makeup assistants, debates realistically have nothing to do with anything any president of any party would ever face in the Oval Office.

Debates do, however, have everything to do with how American voters perceive a candidate for president. How informed, well-spoken, straightforward, candid, quick, attentive do they look?

The Texas governor had suffered through two debate performances that could charitably be described as mediocre. He hardly looked presidential on the stage or up to the executive expectations that had pushed him to the front of the pack in polls.

Now came new polling showing his prime competitor surging to the lead in the important first primary state of New Hampshire.George W Bush and Al Gore Debate 10-18-00

Was this the end of his short presidential campaign? Or the end of the beginning in a very long presidential campaign for the White House?

No, this isn't the story of Gov. Rick Perry's presidential campaign, which turns 45 days old today.

This is a cautionary tale about reading too much into the early debate showings of any party's candidates, no matter how good or bad. Our esteemed and shall we say very veteran colleague Mark Barabak, calls our attention to a news story written almost 12 years ago, by him, as a matter of fact:

After his less-than-commanding performance in two presidential debates, George W. Bush faces a tougher race than expected amid growing signs of Republican discontent--including a new poll that shows major slippage in the key primary state of New Hampshire.

As it turned out, of course, John McCain did stay ahead of Bush in New Hampshire that cycle and whomped him good on primary day by about 15 points. The next morning, with aides vowing to get serious, the Bush campaign moved on to South Carolina, where the Texan won.

And the rest, as they say, is history that Barack Obama reminds us all about every few hours.

These campaigns are long and grueling, as they should be to determine the minds and mettle of the wannabes. John F. Kennedy announced his candidacy on Jan. 3 of that 1960 election year. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama announced in February, 21 months before the election.

Just as the substantial early TV audiences watch and study the 2011 debates, so do the candidates and their advisors. Besides the content, they're advised on how not to look bored, how and when to move a hand, when to point, how one particular expression dangerously resembles a sneer. (Remember Al Gore's infamous sighs from 2000?)

Watch Romney. This is his second rodeo. He's always paying attention to the others, often graciously grants part of their point and then moves to drive his home. Another respected colleague, Robin Abcarian, examined Perry's studied motions apparently mimicking Reaganesque movements.

Who's got a big enough DVR memory? But if anyone compared these early Republican debates to ones coming next winter, they'd see radically improved performances by the surviving candidates.

RELATED:

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A chat with Megyn Kelly on her prep to be debate moderator

 --Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here.

Photo: Mike Carlson / Associated Press (Romney and Perry joust in Sept. 12 debate); Tannen Maury / AFP (Bush and Gore debate, Oct. 18, 2000).

Herman Cain handily wins Florida GOP straw poll

   Herman-Cain-Fox-News-Google-GOP-debate

Herman Cain, former Godfather's Pizza CEO, followed a strong showing at this week's GOP debate in Orlando by joining most of his fellow Republican presidential candidates in addressing the Faith and Freedom Coalition and the Conservative Political Action Conference, in the same Florida city.

One of those meaningless straw polls followed.

But, wait. This one was different. Cain won. He took nearly 40% of the 2,567 votes cast, far outpacing the purported front-runners, Govs. Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. That's a real PR setback for both losers and sets the stage for much media questioning of Perry about his stumbling campaign.

Romney had claimed he wasn't trying to win the straw poll, even though aides worked the phones, e-mails and aisles for him.

But Perry made an all-out free-breakfast-come-talk-with-me effort. And he lost, rather big-time, to a man who is the favorite of many conservatives, although a longshot to become the GOP's nominee.

Much of the GOP race attention has been focused on the Rock 'Em-Sock 'Em routine that's....

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Speaking of deep space, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and the GOP Gang of Nine debate again

NASA photo of five of Saturn's Moons from the Cassini spacecraft 7-29-11

There being "only" somewhere around 100 days left before the Iowa caucuses, nine Republican candidates had another debate anyway Thursday.

It seemed like the 10th debate in a week. But it was only the second.

Thaddeus McCotter, who was never in a debate, wasn't in again, as during the afternoon he quit the race that he was never really in.

The nine candidates all talked a lot. Not as much as the president. But a lot.

Sometimes two candidates talked at the same time. Like hockey refs, the moderators let them go at it.

Mitt Romney and Rick Perry discussed their books. Perry is still opposed to cancer, always will be. Michele Bachmann mentioned she's raised five biological and 23 foster children. Herman Cain, who beat cancer, was on 9-9-9 again. Gary Johnson told a dog joke he stole from Rush Limbaugh. But people laughed anyway.

Jon Huntsman has lived abroad four times but he came home each time, wiser. Newt Gingrich's huge head contains many big ideas, but he still overeats. Rick Santorum is from Pennsylvania. Ron Paul looks at least 76.

Megyn Kelly should be in every Fox News debate. Or was it Katherine Heigl?

Our running debate account is right here.

The full debate transcript is right here.

In interesting news, NASA has released new photos of fully five of Saturn's moons (see above) in one frame. The photo was taken by the Cassini spacecraft on July 29. It just arrived in the mail.

The moon on the right is Rhea. It's about 684,000 miles away, about the same distance as the 2012 election.

RELATED:

Behind the debate prep scenes with Megyn Kelly

Thaddeus McCotter quits the GOP race; Who knew he was in?

Obama hails America's building of 'the Intercontinental Railroad'

-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here.

Photo: NASA /JPL-Caltech /Space Science Institute.

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

   Fox-Google-Debate-You-Tube-Logo

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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Prepping for tonight's GOP debate with Megyn Kelly of Fox News

   Megyn-Kelly-Fox-News-America-Live
Megyn Kelly may have graduate and postgraduate degrees, but the homework never ends.

The anchor of FNC's daytime "America Live" news show, is preparing to grill GOP candidates as part of the panel for the Fox News/Google GOP Debate, starting at 6 p.m. Pacific on Thursday, Sept. 22.

It'll be carried on Fox News Channel (along with Fox News Radio and Fox News Mobile) and live-streamed on YouTube.com/FoxNews and FoxNews.com.

"The most challenging part of this process," Kelly says on the phone while driving home from work earlier this week, "has been the two-hour meetings we have in the morning from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., because none of of my colleagues has a 1 p.m. show.

"Honestly, you should see my morning -- wake up, feed my baby, take care of my son, try to get my house in order, try to get my kids in order, get out of the house, get to the office, do two hours worth of debate prep, try to squeeze in enough prep for the 10 guest interviews I have to do between 1 p.m and 3 p.m."

Before Kelly turned to journalism, joining FNC in 2004, she earned a B.A. in....

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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?

RELATED:

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

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here.

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

Gary Johnson added to Fox News/Google GOP debate

  Gary-Johnson-New-Mexico

Gary Johnson has just been added to the roster for the Fox News/Google GOP presidential debate, set for Thursday, Sept. 22, in Orlando, Fla.

The event also features the eight usual participants from the last GOP debate on CNN on Sept. 12 --  Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman Jr., Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

Plus now add the former New Mexico governor, who hasn't been in a debate since the first one, a Fox News debate in South Carolina on May 5.

Johnson is included over the objections of the cosponsoring Florida Republican Party, because he fit the criterion set by Fox News. That is to have at least 1% of the vote in the most recent editions of the five national polls that included him: Fox News, CNN, McClatchy-Marist, ABC and Quinnipiac.

Still no Thaddeus McCotter, as we noted here.

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-- Kate O'Hare

Media critic Kate O’Hare is a regular Ticket contributor. She also blogs about TV at Hot Cuppa TV and is a frequent contributor at entertainment news site Zap2it. Also follow O'Hare on Twitter @KateOH.

Speaking of 2012, follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the retweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: Gary Johnson addressing "tea party" supporters in May in South Carolina. Credit: Richard Shiro / Associated Press

Who is Thaddeus McCotter and why care?

   Beverly-Hills-Tea-Party-Thaddeus-McCotter

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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Ron Paul wins California Republican straw poll

   Ron-Paul-straw-poll-CAGOP-4

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.
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