James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

Lindsay analyzes the politics shaping U.S. foreign policy and the sustainability of American power.

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Campaign 2012 Roundup: Gingrich Down and Paul Up

by James M. Lindsay
December 19, 2011

Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R-TX), makes a point as former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) (L) listens during the Republican Party presidential candidates debate in Sioux City, Iowa, December 15, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES - Tags: ELECTIONS POLITICS)

Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich during the Republican Party presidential candidates debate in Sioux City, Iowa on December 15, 2011. (Jim Young/courtesy Reuters)

What the polls giveth, the polls taketh away. The fifteen-point lead that Newt Gingrich had over Mitt Romney among Republican voters nationwide just two weeks ago has largely evaporated. At least that’s what Gallup’s polling is showing. As you can see in the chart below, the gap has closed mostly because Gingrich has lost support and not because Romney has gained it. (“Steady as she goes” is a fair description of Romney’s poll numbers.)

Source: Gallup

Meanwhile, the latest Iowa poll shows that Ron Paul leads in the state just two weeks before the Republican caucus. The survey by Public Policy Polling has Paul:

garnering 23 percent support, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 20 percent, and Gingrich with 14. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum are all tied at 10 percent support, according to the poll.

The poll was conducted after last Thursday night’s GOP debate in Sioux City when Paul said that the biggest danger Iran posed to America was the next president “overreacting.”* The consensus among political pundits was that Paul hurt his chances with that remark. Apparently the pundits got it wrong. It’s not the first time.

The weekend didn’t produce much campaign-related foreign policy news. Mitt Romney made his first appearance on a Sunday TV talk show in more than two years. Fox News host Chris Wallace asked him what a President Romney would have done differently in Iraq. He mostly talked around the question before saying:

I think we’re going to find that this president, by not putting in place a status in forces agreement with the Iraqi leadership has pulled our troops out in a precipitous way and we should have left 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 personnel there to help transition to the Iraqis’ own military capabilities.

Consider this an effort to lay the groundwork for a general election issue in the event that things go wrong in Iraq. But if they don’t, and perhaps even if they do, the polls suggest that most Americans won’t care that Obama didn’t leave troops behind in Iraq.

Michele Bachmann went on Mike Huckabee’s Saturday night show on Fox News. Huckabee asked about Ron Paul’s charge that she “hates Muslims…wants to go get ‘em.” Bachmann denied Paul’s claim, and instead shot back with more tough talk on Iran:

The real hate that you hear is coming from the President of Iran. He hates Jews. He hates Jews in Israel, and he hates the American people, and so do the Mullahs in Iran who have expressly stated that it is their goal to kill Jews in Israel and also to kill Americans.

However, the question remains: what is the best way to stop Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons? The Wall Street Journal has a story today saying that we can expect tougher sanctions on Tehran—and soon.

CFR President Emeritus Les Gelb interviewed President Joe Biden for Newsweek. The vice president says that the United States won’t be bailing out Europe, that the administration is not letting up the pressure on Tehran, and that “The Taliban per se is not our enemy.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey told reporters that he found it “offensive” when GOP candidates talked about how they would listen to the generals when deciding what to do as president. Why doesn’t General Dempsey like these comments?

One of the things that makes us as a military profession in a democracy is civilian rule. Our civilian leaders are under no obligation to accept our advice; and that’s what it is. Its advice. It’s military judgments, it’s alternatives, it’s options. And at the end of the day, our system is built on the fact that it will be our civilian leaders who make that decision and I don’t find that in any way to challenge my manhood, nor my position. In fact, if it were the opposite, I think we should all be concerned.”

I doubt that the general’s remark will prompt GOP candidates to change their talking points on the campaign trail.

*NOTE: The original version of the post mistakenly said that the Public Policy Polling survey was conducted before last Thursday night’s GOP debate.

Post a Comment 9 Comments

  • Posted by Don WV

    In 1953 we over threw the government of iran and installed the Shaw because the British oil companies was nationalized. The Shaw was finally overthrew in 1979. To retaliate we installed Saddam Hussein and supported him in the Iran, Iraq war where thousands of Iranians dies by poison gas! And we think the Iranians should be grateful? And Finally Iran hates Jewish people. Iran has over 25,000 Jewish people who live there peacefully. So if they wanted to kill the Jewish, wouldn’t they start at home?
    Just some misconceptions about Ron Paul I thought I would try to clear up!

  • Posted by Dee East

    I’m done with the Repubelickrats!

    I’m jumping on board with RON PAUL, America has no other hope at this point. Imperfection is not coming from any candidate, support the only sane one who sees that the fox IS NOW IN the chicken coop.

  • Posted by RPTwentyTwelve

    Looking forward to vote Ron Paul in 2012!

  • Posted by KJ

    Actually, the PPP poll of Iowa was done AFTER the Sioux city debate. Look at the dates.

  • Posted by Charles Burris

    Only Ron Paul, of all the presidential candidates of both major parties, has repeatedly spoken out clearly and forcefully against the belligerent war propaganda and calculated lies in the bipartisan lead up to war with Iran, against the bipartisan campaign for punitive sanctions against Iran, and against further covert operations to destabilize the fragile geopolitical situation in the Mideast. He is not afraid to speak truth to power, which is why he is greatly admired by stalwart GOP conservatives, grass-roots tea party activists, independents, and disillusioned Obama Democrats.

    Never forget that these same duplicitous chickenhawk jihadists (Gingrich, Romney, Santorum, Bachmann, and Perry) beat the propaganda war drums of “weapons of mass destruction” in the failed war in Iraq. The American people know the bitter tragedy of war. They are tired of being lied to about these futile no-win conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is their sons and daughters, husbands and wives, who were seriously maimed, irreparably disabled, and killed, never to return physically or psychologically intact as they were when they marched off to these egregious follies.

    The principled constitutionalist and noninterventionist Paul was right from the start about our disastrous preemptive imperial wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, right from the start about the destructive ‘blowback’ fomenting more hatred directed towards America, right from the start about the Federal Reserve’s monetary policies creating the housing bubble which led to the 2008 financial meltdown, right from the start about the War on Drugs, the USA Patriot Act and the TSA imposing a police state upon the American people.

    Ron Paul is the most decisive, authoritative, and substantive consistent conservative candidate on the crucial national security issues facing our nation. Americans have always rooted for the heroic underdog, the principled David facing down Goliath. By standing out from the pack of neocon clone candidates, Paul once again proved his forthright courage, his dedication to first principles, and to the United States Constitution and the rule of law.

    Ron Paul is our Cicero, our defender of the republic, a statesman of unblemished character and principled judgment. The twelve-term congressman has for decades courageously spoken out for a conservative foreign policy based upon a strong national defense of the essential core principles of liberty and justice as established by the Framers, a defense of the territorial integrity of the United States and its national borders. Peace, prudential diplomacy, international trade and commerce, and the free exchange of ideas are the key elements to a constitutional foreign policy. Only by setting an exemplary example to the world will the United States of America once again become “the exceptional nation,” that “shining city upon a hill.”

    But Ron Paul is first and foremost a realist. America is financially bankrupt due to decades of reckless, irresponsible fiscal and monetary policies pursued by the Fed, the Congress, and the Executive branch of the state. Paul’s measured conservative program of strategic disengagement from the unconstitutional pre-emptive wars of the past decade, coupled with a serious analytical reassessment of the imperial over-reach of 900 military bases in 130 nations, is the only wise course dictated by this unsustainable debt situation.

  • Posted by UnhappyVet

    I was outraged by the behavior of the Bush administration. Like many I looked to Obama to make right some of what Bush had made wrong. I’ve never been more disappointed in all my voting life. He was supposed to help working Americans and he sold out our interests to the banks. He gave us phony healthcare reform that makes nothing better for consumers much less the sick. The real goal was accomplished, making damned sure that true healthcare reform is delayed for decades longer.He promised to respect State’s Rights and leave medical marijuana patients alone and in reality wages all out war on those poor sick people. Based on Dr. Paul’s positions on issues, I can expect to see favorable resolutions to at least a few of the problems that I want to see solved. If ever there was a time when we needed a guy like Ron Paul its now. Any other candidate is a recipe for ongoing disaster.

  • Posted by Jackson Baer

    Ron Paul will win Iowa and then either win New Hampshire or come in a very close second to Romney. Either way, he has a legitimate chance to win the Republican nomination. What will the Republicans do? They can’t stand Paul because of his foreign policy.

    RON PAUL 2012


  • Posted by JT

    Ron Paul, last chance this nation has , whether the media, necons, zionist or israel like it or not , Liberty prevails , Ron Paul 2012

  • Posted by James Lindsay

    Thanks for pointing out the mistake regarding the PPP poll. It’s now corrected.

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