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After watching this video, it’s clear that Jeb Bush doesn’t have a clue about conservatism:

This post shows that Paige Lavender, a reporter/commentator for Huffington Post, is utterly clueless. Before we get into Jeb Bush’s statements, here’s what Ms. Lavender said:

PAIGE LAVENDER: We’ve seen in the last 2 election cycles that the Republican primary tends to favor the more conservative candidate.

In 2008, there weren’t any conservatives in the race. Of the liberals, John McCain was the most liberal. He got the nomination. In 2012, the GOP candidates were marginally more conservative. Mitt Romney wasn’t as liberal as McCain but he wasn’t a conservative, either. He was simply the least liberal of the liberals running.

The good news is that Republicans will have a handful of conservatives to pick from in 2016, starting with Scott Walker, then adding John Kasich and possibly Mike Pence. GOP activists won’t have to hold their noses when supporting one of these candidates. Conservatives will be able to enthusiastically support one of these three candidates.

The last 20 seconds of this video will hurt Gov. Bush:

Here’s what Gov. Bush said:

GOV. BUSH: I kinda know how a Republican can win, whether it’s me or somebody else and it has to be much more uplifting, much more positive, much more willing to, you know, to be practical now in the Washington world, to be willing to lose the primary to win the general without violating your principles.

Jeb Bush, like Mike Huckabee before him, doesn’t have a clue about conservatism. True conservatism has a healthy libertarian streak to it, mixed with a healthy skepticism of Washington, DC-run programs. We prefer smallish programs administered at the local level because that’s the best way to ensure accountability. Gov. Bush enthusiastically supports Common Core, which is federalizing education curriculum and standardizing tests nationwide. It’s even telling school boards which text books fit with Common Core’s curriculum.

Conservatism is about giving people lots of positive options, whether we’re talking about families’ health care decisions or telling parents that they can send their children to schools that aren’t failing students.

For the last 6-8 years, Republicans had to play defense because Democrats controlled the agenda. The next Republican president will work with GOP majorities in the House and Senate. That means they’ll be setting the agenda. Their first assignment must be to fix the messes created by President Obama, Sen. Reid and Nancy Pelosi. That means finally getting the fed to shut off the QE2 spigot. That’ll require the GOP to starting over with health care reform. This time, it’s imperative to get it right. Getting America’s economy requires siding with construction unions while ignoring environmental activists on pipeline projects.

There’s no shortage of things that need fixing. When a Republican governor is elected to become the 45th president of the United States, he’ll have lots of things to fix or to get started on. Hopefully, the 45th president won’t be Jeb Bush.

It was inevitable that the Democrats’ divide would deepen after their trouncing in this year’s midterms. This article highlights some of the infighting within the Democratic Party:

Tensions within the Democratic Party over policy and strategy have begun to surface after a midterm defeat that saw the party lose control of the Senate after eight years and cede more seats to Republicans in the House of Representatives.

The most glaring example came Tuesday, when Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, criticized President Barack Obama over the 2010 health care overhaul. Schumer said the party should have focused on helping more of the middle class than the uninsured, whom he called “a small percentage of the electorate.” Schumer added that Obamacare was just one of a “cascade of issues” that the White House had bungled, a list that included the scandal over wait times at VA hospitals and responding to the threat of the Ebola virus.

Does this mean that the Democratic circular firing squad will report to the range ASAP? I’d argue that the signs indicate that they’re already at the range. I’d argue that they’re in the ‘target acquisition’ phase of the operation. This year’s exit polling showed rampant dissatisfaction with Democrats:

If Republicans win 35-40% of the Hispanic vote and win a majority of the Asian-American vote, Democrats will find 2016 to be difficult terrain. If that happens, the infighting that’s happening right now will only intensify.

This graphic shows another Democratic vulnerability:

This graphic is proof that demographics aren’t destiny. Actually, both graphics send the same message. What this exit polling shows is that candidate quality and issues matter. In 2016, especially with presidential candidates, Democrats have a virtually nonexistent bench.

While it’s undeniable that Hillary has 100% name recognition for people who haven’t spent the last 20 years living under a rock, that hardly proves she’s a quality. She’s famous because Bill Clinton is a popular ex-president. She’s famous for being one of the worst secretaries of state in the last century. She isn’t famous for being a competent secretary of state. Political junkies saw how untalented she is during her book tour. The number of deer-in-the-headlights moments easily outdistanced her ‘Hillary looks competent’ moments.

Hillary will lose if Republicans pick a talented governor who doesn’t come with a ton of baggage. That eliminates Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Mitt Romney. If Republicans pick either Scott Walker, John Kasich, Mike Pence or Bobby Jindal, Republicans will defeat Hillary and send the Democratic Party into a tailspin.

After John McCain lost in 2008, I spoke with a friend about senators becoming presidents. I half-kiddingly said that Republicans should pass a motion that senators should never be allowed to be the GOP’s presidential nominee. I know that such a resolution is impossible, which is why I said it in jest. That being said, senators don’t run things. They aren’t the decider. They’re the pontificators. Soon-to-be former Gov. Rick Perry, (R-TX), weighed in on the subject:

Perry, considering a repeat presidential bid in 2016, had just spoken at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library for an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of Reagan’s famous “A Time For Choosing” speech. Among his scalding criticisms of Obama, Perry explained the president’s failings as due to his background as a U.S. senator, something that happens to apply to several of his would-be challengers for the GOP presidential nomination.

“If you’re in the Senate or if you’re in the House, you can give a speech and then go home. Governors can’t. We have to govern,” Perry said, adding, “And the president of the United States, historically, has had to operate that way, too; the ones that were successful. And one of the reasons why this President is not successful is because he’s never had that experience.”

Asked if the next president will be a senator, Perry said, “No.”

It’s worth noting that the top-tier candidates on the Democratic side are both senators, too. But I digress.

Gov. Perry is right, though intentionally a bit oversimplistic. Legislators work hard if they’re doing their jobs right. That being said, their job is mostly debating legislation. Their work is done during scheduled sessions. Presidents and governors work during sessions, too, to get their legislative agendas passed. During sessions, though, they’re also called on to deal with crises, whether it’s a president responding to international hot spots or governors responding to public safety crises within their state or on their state’s borders.

Then, after the sessions are over, presidents and governors are essentially on call 24/7 the rest of the year. They’re never on recess, though President Obama certainly makes it look like he doesn’t take the White House with him.

It isn’t a stretch to think that Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz think they see the next president of the United States when they look in the mirror each morning. They don’t. What accomplishments do these men have? They haven’t implemented major reforms like Scott Walker, John Kasich, Perry and Bobby Jindal have. They haven’t revived their states’ economies like Kasich, Perry and Walker have. The best that Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz can say is that they prevented Sen. Reid and President Obama from doing awful things.

They shouldn’t be discredited for that. What they’ve done isn’t insignificant. It just isn’t nearly as significant as what Govs. Walker, Jindal, Perry and Kasich have accomplished.

Lest this be just about Republicans, let’s ask what Hillary or Elizabeth Warren has accomplished. Hillary’s staff noted that she traveled more flight miles than any other Secretary of State in US history. That’s nice. She can redeem those miles so she and Bill can take a nice vacation together.

In terms of actual policies implemented, she got 4 American patriots killed in Benghazi by being asleep at the switch. She ignored multiple pleas from Christopher Stevens for enhanced security for the compound in Benghazi. Then she the nerve to say she hadn’t heard of those urgent requests.

Nobody will buy that BS in 2016. They didn’t buy it in 2012 and they aren’t buying it now.

Her first ‘accomplishment’ was presenting Russia with a reset switch that Russia interpreted as meaning that they could do whatever they wanted in Ukraine and anywhere else in eastern Europe and the middle east. Coddling our enemies (Russia, Iran) and mistreating our allies (Israel, the British and Iraq) isn’t what presidential resumes are built on.

As pathetic as Hillary’s list of accomplishments is, Elizabeth Warren’s list of accomplishments is more pathetic. In fact, it’s nonexistent.

It’s still early but I’d argue that 2016 is shaping up to be GOP year for taking back the White House. Rick Perry has presided over the strongest economy in the nation. Scott Walker passed collective bargaining reform, then staved off the unions’ attempts to kill the reforms. He also passed a $2.2 billion tax cut while creating 110,000 jobs. Bobby Jindal passed school choice laws that are improving educational outcomes in Louisiana. John Kasich’s economic policies have revived Ohio. He cut taxes while eliminating an $8 billion deficit upon entering office.

By comparison, the Democrats have a pair of wannabes as their top tier.

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Most recent college grads are too young to remember the last time government ran efficiently. Bill Clinton was president and John Kasich was chairman of the House Budget Committee. The reason I mention that is because Byron York’s column about the Obama administration got me thinking.

In 2016, we will have suffered through 8 years of utter incompetence. The Obama administration, apart from their misguided priorities, has repeatedly shown that they’re utterly incompetent of running government. First, I’ll start by saying that things weren’t all rosy during the Bush administration. President Bush’s mishandling of Katrina was embarassing.

That being said, President Bush’s handling of the war on terror, back when government admitted that terrorists were dangerous people, was pretty good. During Bush’s administration, the intel agencies actually talked with each other. Fast forward to the Obama administration, when the Secretary of State didn’t even talk with her ambassadors serving in dangerous parts of the world.

But I digress.

Prior to the Republican landslide of 1994, Bill Clinton was mostly unfocused, adrift on policies. Enter Chairman Kasich. Shortly after Kasich got the Budget Committee’s gavel, he floated a radical idea, namely balancing the federal budget. Suddenly, President Clinton got engaged.

The end result was that Clinton didn’t expand the federal government’s regulatory reach like the Obama administration did. They didn’t have any moments when people wondered if Clinton had the basic skillset to run the federal government.

Fast forward to 2014. John Kasich is now Ohio’s governor. He’s turned the state around. First, he defeated the incumbent governor, Ted Strickland, campaigning on a reform agenda. Once he was sworn in, he started implementing that reform agenda.

Not surprisingly, Ohio’s economic health has returned. At least, it’s returned as much as possible while President Obama’s policies are still in effect. Gov. Kasich’s ideas, unlike President Obama’s, actually make sense. Gov. Kasich’s ideas have actually been used before and worked.

Gov. Kasich’s Office of Workforce Training, aka OWT, is brilliant on multiple levels. Check it out here. Here are the key takeaways:

Marketing Ohio’s In-Demand Jobs
Update in-demand jobs data regularly
Market in-demand jobs to students, job seekers, business and local workforce

Align Training Programs to Ohio’s Workforce Needs (Implementation)
Increase career pathway opportunities in our education system, from K-J (Kindergarten to Job)
Increase experiential learning opportunities
Expand and enhance career tech opportunities

Unify and Align State’s Workforce Programs
Improve support of businesses struggling to find workers
Prioritize veterans as a ready workforce by providing support to transitioning veterans and marketing opportunities to veterans and businesses

In other words, the system is integrated. That eliminates the possibility of duplicative programs and excessive overhead, aka an overglut of bureaucrats. Best of all, it fits training with verified needs.

That’s the approach we need to make government work again. Please understand this. I don’t want government reaching into places that it doesn’t belong. Higher education is something that state governments are involved with. Here’s part of Gov. Kasich’s plan for implementing his OWT initiative:

Create a dashboard to highlight aligned workforce success measures:

  1. Expand business resources center currently housed at Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
  2. Create virtual online access and single point of entry for business and job seeker
  3. Enhance online tools and access to the tools for career pathway exploration for Ohio students

In other words, it’s an integrated system that’s user friendly and focused on Ohio’s workforce needs. That’s what government looks like when it works.

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The RealClearPolitics average of polls appears to indicate that Gov. John Kasich is well-positioned for re-election:

Rasmussen
Kasich 45%, Fitzgerald 38%

SurveyUSA
Kasich 46%, Fitzgerald 36%

Magellan Strategies
Kasich 47%, Fitzgerald 41%

Each of these polls are large samples of likely voters, which means they’re highly predictive. While it’d be foolish for Gov. Kasich to assume he’ll win re-election with this polling, it isn’t foolish to think he’s well-positioned for re-election.

That isn’t good news for Democrats in 2016.

If Gov. Kasich wins re-election, he’ll immediately become a frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination. Here’s the bio Gov. Kasich could tout in a White House bid: popular governor in an important swing state, strong job creation record as governor, reformer, former chairman of the House Budget Committee.

That last title is especially important because then-Chairman Kasich authored the budget blueprint that caused 5 straight federal budget surpluses while creating 22,000,000 jobs in 8 years.

Another thing Gov. Kasich has going for him is his blue collar background. He loves telling the story about how his father was a postal carrier in the quintessential blue collar city of Youngstown, OH. FYI- Gov. Kasich was born in McKees Rocks, PA.

One thing that Gov. Kasich will undoubtedly highlight is his Office of Workforce Transformation, which “identifies businesses’ most urgent job needs,” then “aligns the skill needs of employers with the training offerings of the education system.”

In other words, Gov. Kasich has taken a proactive approach to prevent longterm unemployment by helping people acquire the skills they need to transition into a new career. That isn’t just smart resource management. It’s the right policy from a moral standpoint.

This is smart resource management, too:

Ohio’s workforce development efforts are spread out across 91 programs in 13 agencies. We are committed to moving reforms to create more efficient, responsive and effective services for employers and workers. With better alignment, we will reduce redundancy, fragmentation and lack of coordination to improve the state and local programs that fuel our workforce system.

Too often, bureaucracies specialize in fragmentation and poor coordination in their attempt to help people. Apparently, that isn’t a problem with the Kasich administration.

We’re still 5+ months from election day, which is dozens of political lifetimes away. Still, there’s no question that Gov. Kasich is well-positioned for re-election.

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John Boehner is failing. He’s playing President Obama’s game on President Obama’s court. He’s prosecuting the wrong case. Rather than discussing the terms of the fiscal cliff debate, Speaker Boehner should be talking about why Republicans’ pro-growth tax policies are America’s only hope for a variety of Obama-created ills.

First, Speaker Boehner should highlight the fact that President Clinton’s high tax rates didn’t trigger the great economy. He should remind the nation that it was Newt’s capital gains tax cuts that sent the economy into high gear. Prior to those tax cuts, the economy was doing ok. After cutting the capital gains tax, growth exploded.

Another thing that Speaker Boehner must do is remind people that Republicans’ insisting on balancing the federal budget helped strengthen the dollar, which led to a dramatic shrinking of America’s trade deficit. That especially affected gas prices.

Third, Speaker Boehner should shout from the rooftops that revenues during the Bush tax cuts were significantly bigger than revenues are today. If Speaker Boehner asked President Obama why he’s insisting on anti-growth policies that tamp the economy down rather than implementing new pro-growth policies that strengthen the economy, President Obama might well blow a gasket.

This is the debate we should start. This is the debate President Obama can’t win. This is the conversation that would expose President Obama’s motivation for imposing higher tax rates.

Rather than the pattern of proposal-counterproposal, then a counter offer to the counterproposal, with each side publicly stating that the other side needs to put forth a serious proposal, Speaker Boehner should ditch that pattern, especially the taunting language.

Instead, Speaker Boehner, followed by every Republican in Congress talking with their local newspapers and TV outlets about how cutting spending is what’s fair to taxpayers and how reforming the tax code, highlighted by fewer deductions and lower tax rates, would strengthen the economy.

Highlight the fact that this was the real reason why the economy was strong during the Clinton administration. Highlight the fact that the economy didn’t take off until Newt changed the trajectory of the debate.

President Obama is too arrogant to be frightened by that debate, which means Speaker Boehner should be able to turn this situation into a discussion on getting America’s economy going for the first time during President Obama’s administration.

With expensive utility bills, shrinking paychecks, high gas and grocery prices and unacceptably high unemployment rates, the indictment against President Obama’s mishandling of the economy should be lengthy and powerful.

Finally, he should unleash Paul Ryan. Speaker Boehner should insist on a televised fiscal cliff summit, with Ryan leading the prosecution of the case against President Obama’s reckless spending. Dave Camp should prosecute the case for why the GOP tax reform plan will strengthen the economy.

GOP senators and governors should take part in this summit, too. One tactic President Obama has overplayed is saying that ‘we can talk about that’ on a variety of policies, then dropping that position the minute he’s out of the room. Republicans should tell him that implementing a pro-growth economic plan is non-negotiable.

Finally, make the case that raising the top marginal tax rates won’t affect the Warren Buffetts of the world because their income comes from investments, not wages. Make the case that raising the top marginal tax rates will hurt small businesses, not the evil Wall Street fatcats President Obama always talks about.

President Obama’s policies are failing. Speaker Boehner’s ineptitude in highlighting those failures has the fiscal cliff conversation heading in the wrong direction. It’s time to change the direction of that conversation.

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If there’s a theme from tonight’s convention, it’s that the GOP is filled with rising stars that aren’t anything like Reagan’s Revolution or Newt’s Rebellion.

Tonight’s speeches were magnificent. The first speech I listened to was Sher Valenzuela, the GOP candidate for Lt. Governor of Delaware. She said that her and her husband started their own business because their son was an autistic child. Here’s her powerful speech:

There were 3 powerful parts of her speech.

The first powerful part of her speech talked about why they started their small business and their unwillingness to accept the doctors’ predictions. The second powerful part of her speech talked about how they grew their business, eventually growing the company to take business away from other countries’ businesses, including China. The third powerful spot was when Mrs. Valenzuela talked about how their son had just finished his first year of college.

Later in the hour, Artur Davis delivered a powerful speech:

I suspect that he stunned people at the convention that there’s 6,000,000 people that voted for President Obama in 2008 that won’t vote for him again. He asked for the people in the hall to bear with him while he spoke to disaffected Democrats and independents. Here’s part of what he said:

DAVIS: When they say they have a duty to grow government even when we can’t afford it, does it sound like compassion to you or does it sound like recklessness? When you hear the party that glorified Occupy Wall Street blast success, when you hear them minimize the genius of the men and women that make jobs out of nothing, is that what you teach your children about work?

The CBC criticized Davis prior to his speech, possibly to dampen the impact his speech would have on those voters who’ve experienced buyers remorse.

If that was their motivation, it didn’t work. Davis gave a rousing speech that his President Obama right in his vulnerabilities.

John Kasich isn’t a rising star but his speech was important because of his accomplishments as the man with the plan that balanced the budget while creating tons of new jobs as House Budget Committee Chairman. His impact was to tell voters in confident tones that there’s a serious alternative to President Obama’s policies.

Gov. Scott Walker was a hit, partially because his reforms are working but mostly because he defeated the public employee unions and because he did what he said he’d do.

The first night of speeches got this convention off to a flying start. The GOP started on the right foot. Chris Christie’s speech was about setting the stage for a campaign on big things.

That’s Romney-Ryan turf, something that President Obama knows. That’s why they’ve attempted to make this campaign about anything but important things.

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Newt Gingrich is one of the most astute political strategists in American history. I know that I’ll catch flack over that statement but there’s no denying his putting together a revolution that took back the House for the first time in 40 years.

That’s why I’m paying attention to Newt’s latest article:

The announcement that former President Bill Clinton had been personally asked by President Obama to place his name in nomination at the Democratic Convention struck me as potentially a major mistake.

Bill Clinton is one of the most effective and aggressive speakers in the Democratic Party.

His attacks on Republicans will be witty, memorable, and effective for the moment.

The problem for Democrats is that while those who listen to Clinton’s speech and cheer him will be excited, those who think about Clinton and Obama in the same thought will begin to realize how bad Obama really has been as President.

Republicans should take every opportunity to drive home the amazing contrast between Clinton’s bipartisan achievements working with a Republican Congress and Obama’s absolute inability to work across the aisle.

I’ve thought the same thing since the announcement. I can’t argue that Clinton won’t electrify the people watching, whether they’re in the convention hall or watching their TVs.

I don’t doubt that he’ll pull off convincing people, albeit momentarily, that there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between himself and President Obama. That image won’t last long. It might not make it through the weekend.

If I’m the Romney campaign, I’d have ads in the can with Clinton “ending welfare as we know it” vs. President Obama gutting welfare reform, then finishing with a picture of Bill Clinton with John Kasich with captioning reading “four straight surpluses, millions of new jobs created” just to remind people that creating a robust economy isn’t impossible.

You wouldn’t need to highlight that against a clip of President Obama. The message is already etched into people’s minds. That’s already ‘baked into the cake.’

These statistics are a stunning indictment against this administration:

With Clinton and a Republican Congress unemployment fell from 7.3 percent to 4.2 percent. Under Obama unemployment has been stuck at 8.2 percent (now moving up to 8.3percent this month). Obama has the worst job collapse in 75 years. Obama has had over 8 percent unemployment for 41 straight months. In fact under Obama unemployment went up from 7.8 percent to today’s 8.3 percent.

President Obama’s $5.2 trillion in deficits is a sharp contrast to Clinton’s balanced budgets.

During the bipartisan period from 1995 to 1999, debt held by the public as a percentage of GDP dropped 23 percent. Under Obama, it rose from 40.5 percent in 2008 to an estimated 74 percent in 2012—an increase of more than 83 percent. And under President Obama, gross federal debt passed 100 percent of GDP for the first time since 1947.

When I was sworn in as speaker in January 1995, the Congressional Budget Office projected cumulative federal budget deficits of $2.7 trillion over the next decade. After four years of bipartisan rule, in 1999, the CBO projected a $2.3 trillion surplus, a turnaround of $5 trillion. Under Obama, the CBO this year estimated a ten-year cumulative deficit of $2.9 trillion.

The President’s jobs failure has left 46 million Americans in poverty, the largest number in history.

If Mitt picks Paul Ryan or Bob McDonnell as his runningmate, they’ll likely campaign on a theme of ‘Reforms that work’. That’s a powerful message this campaign season. I might even be tempted to appropriate Bill Clinton language.

I’m one of the people that remember Al Gore before he flipped out. Bill Clinton put him in charge of a project called “Re-inventing Government.” There’s no reason why a Mitt-Ryan ticket or a Mitt-McDonnell ticket couldn’t run on the theme of “Re-inventing Government, Part II.”

That theme would play well with independents who aren’t that ideological. Independents want government to do its job right without intruding into their lives. Play on the themes of creating a robust domestic energy plan, getting rid of the corruption within the EPA and the crony capitalism of Solyndra.

Couple that with talking about building a 21st Century health care system and this could turn into a rout fairly quickly.

Doing those things would remind people of what it was like to have a functioning government that got things right without unduly burdening their families and their businesses.

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After Tuesday’s defeats, questions started popping up about whether Newt was political history. I didn’t take those questions seriously because I knew CPAC was right around the corner. I knew that, if anyone was capable of a comeback, Newt at CPAC was the right combination. This speech proved I was right:
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From the outset of the speech, Newt distanced himself from the DC GOP Establishment while aligning himself with the conservative movement’s activists. In doing so, he reminded people that he’s still the smartest man in the room on policies and solutions.

Reminding the faithful of all the things that the GOP Establishment deemed unrealistic, Newt riffed into a great set of ‘unrealistics’ but not until reminding his audience that CPAC was founded in the 1970s “to challenge the GOP Establishment.” Here’s the transcript of Newt’s ‘unrealistic’ riff:

GINGRICH: When Ronald Reagan campaigned in 1980, you could see the gap between the Establishment and the conservative movement. Reagan campaigned on supply side economics, lower taxes, less regulations, more American energy, praise for people who created jobs. The Establishment called it “VooDoo Economics.”

The GOP Establishment has a single word they use with contempt for conservative ideas. They say they’re ‘unrealistic’. So creating 16,000,000 new jobs under Reagan? Unrealistic. Ending the Soviet Union? Unrealistic. The 1994 Contract With America? Unrealistic. The 1994 House majority, which, by the way, was elected with the biggest single party increase in American history, 9,000,000 new voters? Unrealistic. Reforming welfare so that 2 out of 3 people either went back to work of went back to school? Unrealistic. Cutting taxes, including the biggest Capital Gains tax cut in American history and the first tax cut in 16 years? Unemployment drops to 4.2%, 11,000,000 new jobs? Unrealistic.

Not only was that list of things not unrealistic, they were accomplished because the ideas made too much sense to the American people. Reagan understood that the American people thirsted for inspiration. He supplied it in large doses.

The GOP Establishment doesn’t understand the American people. They can’t comprehend the power, enthusiasm, grit and determination of the TEA Party movement because it’s something happening beyond Washington’s Beltway. The DC Establishment of both parties doesn’t understand the identity of America throughout history.

The America that they don’t understand is the America President Reagan and Speaker Gingrich understand because they came from humble beginnings. That’s the America that Mitt Romney can’t tap into, not because he’s evil but because it’s totally foreign to him.

Rick Santorum is a fine man who understands America, just like John Kasich and Paul Ryan do. Of that group, only Congressman Ryan understands the greatness and genius of America like Newt Gingrich knows it.

It’s that greatness that intellectually seperates Newt Gingrich from the rest of the GOP presidential field. That Newt’s been MIA recently.

After Friday’s speech at CPAC, it’s safe to say that the special Newt is back.

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The first thing I thought after reading this article is that ‘Ohio Mitt’ is back. First, let’s refresh people’s memories of Mitt’s bailing on John Kasich:

Campaigning in Ohio today, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney stopped by a Republican Party phone-bank making calls in support of Gov. John Kasich’s government union reform referendum, but refused to endorse the actual referendum. CNN’s Peter Hamby called the scene an “incredible moment in politics.”

But Romney would not say specifically if he supports S.B.5, which Ohio voters oppose by a 57-32 margin, according to a Quinnipiac poll out Tuesday

Instead, he issued only generic support for GOP efforts to control spending in Columbus.

“I am not speaking about the particular ballot issues,” Romney said, after being pressed by reporters. “Those are up to the people of Ohio. But I certainly support the efforts of the governor to reign in the scale of government. I am not terribly familiar with the two ballot initiatives. But I am certainly supportive of the Republican Party’s efforts here.”

Got that? Mitt stopped at a call center to get out the vote in support of “Gov. John Kasich’s government union reform referendum” but he wouldn’t take a stand on the ballot issue. Fast forward to today:

“I’m not going to get into the back-and-forth on the congressional sausage-making process,” Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, said in Keene, N.H., as the day began. “I hope they’re able to sit down and work out a solution that works for the American people. My hope is that the solution includes extension of the payroll tax holiday.”

That’s right. Mitt didn’t stand with conservatives on another important issue. Unfortunately, this isn’t surprising. Mitt isn’t a leader. Mitt’s a slick-sounding fake. Compare that with a real leader:

In Iowa, Gingrich called a two-month extension “insufficient” and scolded the Democratic-controlled Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Barack Obama’s administration for “lurching from failure to failure” and marveled: “They can’t figure out how to pass a one-year extension, so the Senate leaves town?”

When the going gets tough, Mitt’s hidden. He’s run rather than be a leader.

By comparison, Newt didn’t hide. He jumped into the fight after analyzing the situation. Then he highlighted the Democrats’ spinelessness and duplicitousness.

That’s what real leaders do.

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