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In 2007, Julianne Ortman voted for the Next Generation Energy Act, aka the NGEA. The vote was 59-5. Here’s one of the requirements of the NGEA:

The plan must determine the feasibility, assess the costs and benefits, and recommend how the state could adopt a regulatory system that imposes a cap on the aggregate air pollutant emissions of a group of sources, requires those subject to the cap to own an allowance for each ton of the air pollutant emitted, and allows for market-based trading of those allowances. The evaluation must contain an analysis of the state implementing a cap and trade system alone, in coordination with other states, and as a requirement of federal law applying to all states. The plan must recommend the parameters of a cap and trade system that includes a cap that would prevent significant increases in greenhouse gas emissions above current levels with a schedule for lowering the cap periodically to achieve the goals in subdivision 1 and interim goals recommended under paragraph (a).

This sentence jumps off the page:

The plan must recommend the parameters of a cap and trade system that includes a cap that would prevent significant increases in greenhouse gas emissions above current levels.

I’ll stipulate that this vote was taken long before then-Sen. Obama made his infamous comments about his Cap & Trade bill:

I was the first to call for a 100% auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps that are being placed, imposed every year.

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.

Still, policymakers knew that Cap & Trade would significantly increase the price of electricity. Sen. Ortman voted for a bill that a) imposes a cap on greenhouse gases and b) increased the cost of generating electricity. How is that the right thing to do? At the time, did Sen. Ortman think this bill would make life better for the average Minnesotan?

The NGEA didn’t just raise the price of electricity. It created a significant burden for energy transmission companies:

The plan must include recommendations for improvements in the emissions inventory and recommend whether the state should require greenhouse gas emissions reporting from specific sources and, if so, which sources should be required to report.

In other words, the NGEA increased compliance costs for power plants. That necessarily drives up the price of electricity. Unfortunately, there’s still more to this horrific bill:

The state must, to the extent possible, with other states in the Midwest region, develop and implement a regional approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from activities in the region, including consulting on a regional cap and trade system.

NGEA also created new responsibilities for state government. It’s a public employee union’s dream come true because it requires people to monitor regional greenhouse gas emissions.

According to FactCheck.org, the NGEA requires Minnesota to reduce GHGs, aka Greenhouse Gases, by 80%:

But the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007 didn’t “only” take “steps on renewable energy,” as Pawlenty said. It established strict statewide greenhouse gas reduction targets of 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2015 and 80 percent below those levels by 2050.

The fact that Sen. Ortman voted with the overwhelming majority in support of the BGEA isn’t comforting. Minnesota doesn’t need a politician that goes with the flow. Minnesotans need a leader who does the right thing.

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Tim Walz knows how to play the DC spin game. This article is proof of that:

At the U.S. Capitol, Walz said, “there’s not democracy.” Instead, “there’s just a speaker who holds a gavel.” The only legislation that can get voted on is that which the House speaker allows.

The reason Tim Walz is in the minority is because the politicians he voted for for Speaker didn’t just hold the House hostage. Then-Speaker Pelosi wouldn’t even let Republicans participate in writing a bill the vast majority of Americans didn’t want. It wasn’t enough for Ms. Pelosi to play the role of tyrant. She wasn’t satisfied until she ruled with an iron fist.

I don’t recall Rep. Walz complaining about Ms. Pelosi’s dictatorial stranglehold on the House from 2007-2011. Perhaps that’s because getting his way was the only principle that mattered to him.

Walz wasn’t the only spinmeister on stage:

With Republicans in charge of the Legislature and a Republican governor, Smith said, Minnesota ended up with a $6 billion debt.Under Democratic control, the deficit was erased, and money has been put aside for future emergencies.

Tina Smith should be ridiculed and criticized for lying like that. There’s never been a time when a Republican governor got to work with Republican majorities in the House and Senate. N-E-V-E-R. In 2010, Republicans gained control of the Minnesota Senate since it became a partisan election in 1972. From 1972 through 2010, Democrats had a stranglehold on the Senate.

That part of Smith’s BS is bad enough but that isn’t the only BS Smith peddled. In 2011, Republicans inherited a $6,000,000,000 deficit from Sen. Pogemiller and Speaker Kelliher. Sen. Pogemiller had a veto-proof DFL majority in the Senate while Speaker Kelliher lead 87 Democrats in the 134-member in the House.

When the DFL regained control of the House and Senate in 2012, Sen. Bakk and Speaker Thissen inherited a $640,000,000 deficit, not a $6,000,000,000 deficit.

That means Smith was only off by $5,360,000,000. In other words, she was as close to being accurate on the deficit as Gov. Dayton was with the e-tabs projection. That means neither was particularly accurate.

If spin was a $100 bill, the DFL could pay off the national debt. If accuracy and honesty was a gold bar, Walz and Smith couldn’t afford a stick of gum.

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Minutes after the legislature recessed, a new progressive organization joined in misleading Minnesotans. The people writing ads for A Better Legislature made it clear that they share ABM’s disdain for telling the whole truth.

If history was written based solely on their first video, you’d think that nothing positive got accomplished during the 2011-12 legislative sessions. ABL didn’t waste time before ignoring the GOP legislature’s positive pro-jobs and pro-taxpayer accomplishments.

If we based our votes on who accomplished and/or proposed positive things this session, the decision would be over within minutes. The DFL refused to propose a budget. The DFL didn’t put a set of redistricting maps together. Sen. Bakk and Rep. Thissen wanted a government shutdown because they thaught they could force Republicans into a tax increase during a special session.

Another dirty little secret is that the DFL could’ve averted a government shutdown. Gov. Dayton ignored Jon Gunyou’s letter to MnDOT Commissioner Sorel when he vetoed the Transportation Bill. DFL legislators could’ve kept road construction projects going by overriding Gov. Dayton’s veto.

If the DFL had put a high priority on doing the right thing, they would’ve shown genuine political courage. Instead, they chose playing politics over doing the right thing.

According to ABL’s video, the GOP legislature a) was “too extreme” and b)was a “do-nothing legislature” that focused on “the wrong priorities.”

That’s BS.

ABL also blames the GOP for the government shutdown despite the fact that Gov. Dayton could’ve signed the budget proposed on June 30,2011. Instead, state government was shut down for 2 weeks before he signed the budget that was agreed to on June 30.
The GOP legislature was productive. The GOP’s reform agenda improved the permitting process, which is already creating jobs. The GOP reformed the budgeting process when they passed King Banaian’s Sunset Advisory Commission legislation.

The GOP reformed the HHS when they passed Rep. Steve Gottwalt’s HHS reform legislation. As a result of the HHS reform legislation, the HHS budget growth rates have shrunk from 16% increases per biennium to 5% growth rates per biennium going forward.

In fact, the DFL stood in the way of the entire GOP reform agenda.

ABL wants Minnesotans to ignore how much of a positive impact the GOP’s reforms have had on creating job. The GOP legislature worked tirelessly to make it easier for all businesses to create jobs.

The GOP got little help from the DFL in turning a $6,200,000,000 deficit into a $1,200,000,000 surplus. By comparison, when the DFL won majorities in the House and Senate, they first spent the entire $2,200,000,000 surplus, then spent us into the aforementioned $6,200,000,000 deficit.

ABL will undoubtedly get tons of money from Dayton Family Politics, Inc., aka ABM. Alida Messinger promised her support months ago:

She is vowing to do all she can to help the DFL regain control of the Legislature and get President Obama re-elected…Messinger, 62, contends GOP politicians are harming Minnesota. “We are not a quality-of-life state anymore,” she said. “Citizens need to get involved and say we don’t like what you are doing to our state.”

Messinger is entitled to her opinions. It’s just that they’re ridiculous. In November, 2010, Minnesotans spoke with a loud, clear voice in emphatically rejecting the DFL as majority party. That’s when they rejected the DFL supermajority in the House and the veto-proof majority in the Senate. That’s when Minnesotans in all corners of the state hired Republicans to run the legislature.

Doesn’t Messinger think that their voices count? Does she think that only liberal voices count?

The DFL’s thinking is straightforward. When they don’t win, it isn’t that people rejected their ideas. It’s that their message didn’t get out. That’s warped thinking considering the media’s availability to publish the DFL spin thinking without hesitation.

Thus far, ABL hasn’t hesitated in not telling the truth, much less telling the whole truth. If ABL felt a fidelity to the truth, they could honestly say that they disagreed with the things the GOP legislature passed. They didn’t take that approach. Instead, they developed a chanting point about how the GOP legislature was a “do-nothing legislature”.

Here’s some questions that ABL and their DFL allies won’t answer: If the GOP legislature is a do-nothing legislature, how did the budget go from having a $6,200,000,000 deficit when they started to having a $1,200,000,000 surplus? If the GOP legislature is a do-nothing legislature, how is it that jobs are getting created?

The fact that Gov. Dayton signed the GOP budget and that that budget took Minnesota from a $6,200,000,000 deficit to a $1,200,000,000 suplus means that the legislature must’ve gotten things right most of the time.

HISTORICAL UPDATE: When Tim Pawlenty was elected governor, Minnesota faced a $4,200,000,000 deficit. As chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Jim Knoblach was given the responsibility to figure out what was and what wasn’t needed. Not only did he balance the budget without raising taxes. When Jim retired in 2006, Minnesota had a $2,200,000,000 surplus, which the DFL inherited.

The DFL spent that $2,200,000,000 surplus, then ran the deficits up to $6,200,000,000.

It’s a statement of historical fact that Republicans turned that $6,200,000,000 deficit into a $1,200,000,000 surplus by making wise spending decisions.

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Monday, Gov. Pawlenty launched the Romney campaign’s attacks against Sen. Santorum. Tuesday night, Sen. Santorum hit back against both Mitt and TPaw:

The Romney campaign is going after the former Pennsylvania senator following a poll that shows him edging Romney in Minnesota, which holds its contest Tuesday. Santorum is also expected to be a contender in the non-binding Missouri primary that same day.

A Santorum press release following the call labeled Romney “Proud defender and author of ‘Obamneycare,’” a term coined by Pawlenty himself when he was a presidential contender and meant to suggest that Romneycare and Obamacare were one and the same.

“As Governor Tim Pawlenty so aptly said, RomneyCare should be called ObamneyCare,” wrote Hogan Gidley, national communications director for the Santorum campaign, in the press release. “Everyone knows that Governor Romney’s top-down, government-run, mandated health insurance plan was the basis of ObamaCare.”

“Oddly enough, the only accomplishment that Gov. Romney points to, and actually defends during his tenure as governor, is the most liberal, the most intrusive and unconstitutional,” Gidley continued. “In fact, the only area conservatives would appreciate Romney flip-flopping on would be RomneyCare. So why he doubles down on this liberal accomplishment instead of just flip-flopping as usual is beyond me. We’re all looking for Gov. Romney to finally have firm conviction on something, but it’s pretty telling that he picks RomneyCare.”

It’s telling that TPaw endorsesd Mitt but Mitt got clobbered in Minnesota. It’s telling that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley endorsed Mitt but Mitt got clobbered in South Carolina.

The problem, it seems, isn’t totally with Haley or TPaw. The problem is mostly with Mitt. Mitt got crushed in both states. It’s apparent that Mitt’s having difficulty, especially considering that the press was touting his inevitability.

After Tuesday’s ‘Super Caucuses’, Mitt’s in need of desperately retooling his campaign. After losing Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado, it’s apparent that Mitt doesn’t own the Heartland or the Mountain West. That doesn’t bode well for him.

As for TPaw, this is just plain embarassing. In 2008, he endorsed John McCain. McCain lost the state by 19 points that year. He endorsed Mitt this time, then Mitt proceeded to lose the state by 28 points.

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Mitt Romney’s vicious, coordinated attacks on Newt have pissed off awakened conservatism’s biggest voices. Check out this article and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about:

Even Rush Limbaugh, shocked by the Romney claims, chimed on his Thursday radio broadcast to say “This is obviously a coordinated attack to take Newt out here in Florida.”

Rush slammed the Romney-backed smear campaign against Newt.

“That kind of stuff is why people hate Romney so much,” Limbaugh said.

Limbaugh added that Newt has always been a conservative from his early days in national talk radio in the 1980s.


“He was perhaps the premier defender of Ronald Reagan,” Limbaugh said.

That’s only part of the anti-Mitt response. Here’s what Michael Reagan said in his official statement:

“I am deeply disturbed that supporters of Mitt Romney are claiming that Newt Gingrich is not a true Reaganite and are even claiming that Newt was a strong critic of my father.

“Recently I endorsed Newt Gingrich for president because I believe that Newt is the only Republican candidate who has both consistently backed the conservative policies that my father championed and the only Republican that will continue to implement his vision.

“It surprises me that Mitt Romney and his supporters would raise this issue — when Mitt by his own admission voted for Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale who opposed my father, and later supported liberal Democrat Paul Tsongas for president.

“As governor of Massachusetts, Romney’s achievement was the most socialistic healthcare plan in the nation up until that time.

“Say what you want about Newt Gingrich but when he was Speaker of the House he surrounded himself with Reagan conservatives and implemented a Ronald Reagan program of low taxes and restrained federal spending.

“Newt’s conservative program created a huge economic boom and balanced the budget for the first time in more than a generation.”

Mike Reagan concluded: “I would take Newt Gingrich’s record any day over Mitt Romney’s.”

The message is unmistakeable. Mitt didn’t just go too far. He didn’t just say something that needed correcting. Mitt’s vicious, dishonest attacks have gone far beyond anything that these conservative giants will accept.

Michael Reagan and Rush Limbaugh aren’t bit players in the conservative movement. In many ways, especially in the pre-TEA Party days, they were, along with Newt, the heart and soul of the conservative movement’s idea factory.

While Rush was building the ‘product’ that is now the dominant conservative media empire, Mitt was telling Massachusetts voters that he’d been an independent during Reagan-Bush and that he wasn’t “looking to return to the days of Reagan-Bush.”

Suddenly, Mitt’s deciding to run for president and — Presto Change-O — Mitt’s a card-carrying member of the Reagan fan club, not to mention suddenly being a Lifetime Member of the NRA. Mitt the conservative is a joke and a hoax.

I’d say that Mitt’s a northeastern liberal Republican, not a conservative connecting with voters in America’s Heartland except that that isn’t telling the whole truth. Mitt’s a dishonest northeastern liberal whose team did some selective editing to make it sound like Newt was bashing Reagan. Here’s the truth about that:

The C-SPAN video, titled “Newt Gingrich bad-mouths Ronald Reagan in 1998” on YouTube, was part of a huge coordinated campaign against Gingrich that was launched on Thursday, five days ahead of the vital Florida primary.

But it cuts off before Gingrich explains what he means.

In the portion shown on YouTube, Gingrich talks about the Republican Party’s chances after Reagan leaves office. “On Election Day, the American people, given a choice of more of eight years or something new, will vote for something new,” he said.

But what the clip does not show is Gingrich’s rationale behind his statement, which shows he was not bashing Reaganism, but merely suggesting that then-Vice President George Bush needed to take it forward.

The entire clip, which was discovered by the website RiehlWorldView, shows Gingrich going on to say he wanted “A Republicanism of the ’90s that builds on Reaganism, but goes beyond Reaganism.”

He continues, “This is the country where ‘new’ and ‘improved’ are the two most powerful words in advertising,” and says if the two candidates in the 1988 election had similar stances and were equally “pleasant” the Democrat would win simply because it would signify change.

Mitt Romney needs to be drummed out of the Republican Party. He’s ruthless. He’s dishonest. He’s liberal. (That’s right. I don’t believe a split second of his I’m-a-conservative schtick.) He’s surrounded himself with parasites like Ann Coulter, with people looking for their next government job (TPaw) and other northeastern liberals like Chris Christie.

Mitt Romney’s days are numbered. Now that Michael Reagan and Rush Limbaugh have trained their sights on him, it’s time to get out the butter because Mitt’s toast. Newt’s got Michael Reagan, Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin on his side. Mitt’s got Hugh Hewitt, Chris Christie and Little Annie Coulter.

That isn’t a fair fight. That’s why Mitt’s desperate.

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This morning, Ember Reichgott-Junge and Cathie Hartnett represented (misrepresented?) the DFL’s perspective during the Political Analysis and the Face-Off segments, respectively. Their analysis, frankly, was insulting to Minnesotans’ intelligence.

One of the topics discussed during the Political Analysis segment was the state government shutdown. Brian McClung correctly stated that the government shutdown in 2005 resulted in ‘only’ 9,000 workers being laid off during the shutdown. That’s a fraction of the 22,000 workers that Gov. Dayton needlessly laid off during this summer’s shutdown.

McClung then said that Gov. Dayton tried maximizing the pain for this shutdown as compared to Gov. Pawlenty tried minimizing the pain during the 2005 shutdown. McClung then said that Gov. Dayton employed this strategy because he thought it was to his political advantage.

When Tom Hauser asked Ms. Reighgott-Junge if Gov. Dayton tried to inflict pain through the shutdown, she replied “Of course not.” If that’s true, which it isn’t, why didn’t Gov. Dayton sign the Transportation Bill that would’ve kept construction projects going? Why didn’t Gov. Dayton sign a ‘Lights-On’ bill to keep government open? The Dayton administration planned this shutdown far in advance of the end of the regular session.

Ms. Reichgott-Junge insults us when she says that Gov. Dayton didn’t plan the shutdown with the intent of maximizing pain on taxpayers. It’s a bald-faced lie. This administration’s plan of laying off 22,000 state workers can’t be explained as anything but an intentional act of inflicting pain on these union employees.

During the Face-Off segment, the first topic of debate was the failure of the Supercommittee. When asked why it happened, Ms. Hartnett immediately blamed it on Grover Norquist’s tax pledge.

Ms. Hartnett is either one of the dimmest bulbs in the DFL chandelier or she’s lying through her teeth. Both explanations are plausible. It’s possible that she’s lying through her teeth because everyone knows that Sen. Pat Toomey proposed tax reform that would’ve eliminated loopholes while reducing tax rates. This would’ve substantially raised revenues.

That demolishes Ms. Hartnett’s argument that the GOP is slavishly devoted to Grover Norquist.

Still, it’s possible that Ms. Hartnett isn’t the brightest bulb in the DFL’s chandelier because she hasn’t shown herself capable of anything but muttering the DFL’s chanting points. She runs out of her depth on routine issues faster than Hermain Cain is out of his depth on foreign policy. And that’s saying something.

The DFL spokesladies were insulting and anything but informative. That’s the type of lows that the DFL has sunk to. It’s painful watching their distressing ineptitude.

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Tim Pawlenty stunned the political world this morning by endorsing Mitt Romney for president:

Ex-presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty on Monday endorsed Mitt Romney for the GOP presidential nomination, saying the former Massachusetts governor and businessman has what it takes to turn the country around.

Pawlenty, speaking on Fox News, cited Romney’s “depth and scope” of experience in the private sector.

“I think he’s going to be a transformational and great president for this country,” he told Fox News.

This is as bad of an unforced error as TPaw’s ever made. TPaw had proven his conservative credentials with the economic policies he laid out in a speech earlier this year. It was an impressive plan by all serious economists’ accounts.

In endorsing Mitt, he threw that impressive economic plan out the window. Saying that Mitt will be a transformational president is pure fluff. With all the times Mitt’s changed his mind, otherwise known as flip-flops, how do we know what type of president he’d be?

The wisest move for GOP primary-goers is to look into Mitt’s attempts to be a lifetime politician, look at the various on-again, off-again positions on key issues, then decide whether you can trust the man who enthusiastically signed the precursor of Obamacare.

Despite Mitt’s attempts to distance himself from Romneycare by using a gimmicky Tenth Amendment dodge, the reality is that he still operates from a government control mindset. It’d be wrong to say that Mitt’s as addicted to government controlling our lives as our current president. Still, it isn’t a stretch to say he’s a government-first politician.

Tim Pawlenty’s endorsement is the highest-profile endorsement of the election cycle by far. Nonetheless, his endorsement isn’t expected to sway alot of votes. There wasn’t alot of support for Gov. Pawlenty during the race when he was touting his conservative credentials. There’s even less support for him now that he’s out of the race.

Finally, this might be Gov. Pawlenty’s desperate attempt to be Romney’s running mate. Since it isn’t certain that that’s why he endorsed Mitt, it’s best to give him the benefit of the doubt. Still, thinking people can’t help but think that that was Gov. Pawlenty’s motivation.

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What was a busy news morning for Minnesota politics just got hectic. Appearing on Esme Murphy’s program on WCCO-TV this morning, Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Tony Sutton said that he will approach Gov. Pawlenty to see if he’s willing to run against Amy Klobuchar.

Despite solid polling figures, Sen. Klobuchar is exceptionally vulnerable. She’s voted for each of President Obama’s failed economic policies, including his disastrous stimulus and Obamacare.

Minnesota is an innovator in the health care and health insurance industry. Sen. Klobuchar’s vote for Obamacare essentially took away Minnesota’s ability to innovate. What’s worse is that Obamacare raised taxes on 2 important Minnesota companies, Boston Scientific and Medtronic.

Gov. Pawlenty would be a strong advocate for a robust domestic energy production policy. He’d vote to limit the EPA’s and the NLRB’s authority. Finally, he’d vote to repeal Dodd-Frank and for tax reform.

A Pawlenty-Klobuchar match-up would instantly jump to being the most watched Senate race in the nation for 2012. With Sen. Klobuchar’s vulnerabilities and Gov. Pawlenty’s fundraising abilities, plus his substantial policy chops, Sen. Klobuchar’s best bet is to pray Gov. Pawlenty doesn’t jump into the race.

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Appearing on ABC’s This Week, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced that he was ending his presidential campaign:

Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty said today he will end his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination.

Pawlenty informed his supporters in a conference call and then announced his decision on ABC’s This Week. He finished a distant third in yesterday’s Iowa presidential straw poll, well behind the winner, Rep. Michele Bachmann, his Minnesota rival.

“We needed to get some lift to continue on and have a pathway forward,” Pawlenty told ABC. “That didn’t happen, so I’m announcing this morning on your show that I’m going to be ending my campaign for president.”

Gov. Pawlenty’s announcement ends what should’ve been a competitive run for president. Gov. Pawlenty. Iowa proved to be his Waterloo, though, as he never gained traction in the state.

It isn’t for lack of talent or retail politicking ability. Gov. Pawlenty’s message of competence just didn’t catch on, which is a shame. Compared with President Obama, it would’ve been a welcome change to have someone living at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. who isn’t utterly incompetent.

It’ll be interesting to see if this morning’s announcement means he’s done with politics of if this means Gov. Pawlenty is shifting his focus. There’s been GOP political insiders who’ve said that they’d like to see him run against Sen. Klobuchar if the presidential bid didn’t work out.

It’s difficult to see Gov. Pawlenty making that shift that quickly, though it’s far from impossible. There’s still alot of support for him in Minnesota, especially following Gov. Dayton’s litany of screw-ups this past session.

One thing that’s certain is that a Klobuchar-Pawlenty match-up would make it the most-watched Senate race in the nation.

It’ll be interesting to see what’s next for Gov. Pawlenty.

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Rep. Michele got a big win today when she won the Iowa Straw Poll, winning with 4,823 votes. Rep. Ron Paul finished second with 4,671 votes. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty finished a distant third with 2,293 votes, followed by former Sen. Rick Santorum with 1,657 votes.

There are a number of stories coming from today’s Iowa Straw Poll, including Gov. Perry getting 718 votes as a write-in candidate. That beat Mitt Romney’s 567 votes.

Still, the big story is that Michele Bachmann won with a less-than-prolific ground game. She defeated Straw Poll workout warrior Ron Paul by 152 votes. Michele is justifiably proud of her win but she’s got a challenging road ahead.

Ron Paul finished second but he might’ve won the straw poll if he hadn’t insisted that a nuclear Iran wouldn’t be a national security threat during Thursday’s FNC-Washington Examiner debate.

FNC Chief Political Correspondent Carl Cameron reported that a large number of people who started the week as Ron Paul supporters flipped to Rick Santorum solely on the basis of Rep. Paul’s Iran answer.

Frankly, Paul’s stand on national security issues limit him nationally. Today’s Iowa Straw Poll is likely his high point the rest of the way, with the possible exception of the Iowa Caucuses.

Today’s Iowa Straw Poll results are an embarrassment for Mitt Romney. They’re also damaging to his candidacy. Mitt Romney’s general election campaign ended with today’s results. Before today’s results, Gov. Romney could pretend that he was the frontrunner. That strategy disappeared today.

Gov. Romney’s people will spin this by saying he wasn’t competing in the straw poll. That’s BS. Four years ago, he won the straw poll with 31.6% of the vote. It’s a big deal to go from 31% to 3% just 4 years later. Another thing that’s got to sting is that a guy who announced his presidential ambitions earlier in the day beat him by 150 votes.

Rick Santorum’s support isn’t huge at this point but his support is rock solid. As a result of today’s finish, he’s earned the right to fight on. It’s entirely plausible that he can build on today’s finish.

Finally, Rick Perry’s finish should tell everyone that he’s a force to reckon with. Though he’s likely irritated some Iowans by announcing his candidacy the day of their event, he’ll have time to mend fences. Most importantly, Perry doesn’t need to win Iowa. If he shows well in Iowa and New Hampshire, he’ll win the South Carolina primary.

Congratulations to Michele Bachmann. She beat the man who’s dominated straw polls across the nation. That’s a victory worth savoring. That said, she can’t celebrate too long with Rick Perry co-starring with her tomorrow night at a high profile event in Waterloo, IA.

UPDATE: Hotair has a great roundup live from Ames, IA.

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