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Eyes on the Hawkeye State

Paul specter looms even as Romney positions self

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Mitt Romney in Ames, Iowa, yesterday.(Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

This is it: the last heady rush of pre-game campaigning before Iowans caucus next Tuesday and formally open the Republican nominating process. Newt Gingrich has been sinking in the polls—earning him a melancholy little profile in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine—while Rep. Ron Paul has leapfrogged into contention alongside the current leader, Mitt Romney.

Accordingly, there’s been a lot of chatter about anti-Israel and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories published under his name and about his isolationist foreign policy stance, which includes calls for cutting aid to Israel. Much of that chatter has come from Romney fans, and from Romney himself. “The greatest threat Israel faces and frankly the greatest threat that the world faces is a nuclear Iran,” Romney told an audience in Muscatine on Tuesday. “One of the people running for president thinks it’s okay for Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”

Romney, who one imagines is exhausted by months of playing whack-a-mole with the rest of the GOP field, is looking for the win on Tuesday, and while there aren’t many Jews in the Hawkeye State, there are many evangelical Christians. It’s to Romney’s advantage to push them away from Paul, though that increases the plausibility of Rick Santorum pulling off a Mike Huckabee and stealing the show.

But Romney and Santorum have both also said they would vote for Paul if he eventually clinches the Republican nomination. And there are still four long days between now and Tuesday night. In the meantime, as the general public focuses on the GOP field with an intensity that it hasn’t for almost four years, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor—the highest-ever ranked Jew in Congress, and favorite for national office among many on the right—is going to be on 60 Minutes this Sunday taking Lesley Stahl back to his hometown, Richmond, though not, apparently, for Thanksgiving. Welcome to 2012, and beyond!

60 Minutes Preview: The Majority Leader [CBS]
Related: Romney, Santorum Say They Would Vote for Paul
Newt Gingrich’s Glory Days [NYT Magazine]
Earlier: The Haunting of Ron Paul

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Alison, you clearly haven’t a clue what you’re talking about.

1) The Romney camp has been, if anything, relatively subdued in his criticism of Paul, compared to the other candidates, who have been going after him furiously. It’s not that Romney and Paul are friendly, of course–it’s just that (as everybody–except you, apparently–realizes) nothing would help Romney more than a strong showing by Paul. It would immediately rally the entire party around Romney as the sane, electable non-Paul candidate, instead of rallying around a succession of imploding doctrinaire conservative non-Romney candidates (Pawlenty, Bachmann, Perry, Gingrich and perhaps even Santorum next).

2) Paul’s stance on Israel plays only a minor role in Republican candidates’ attacks on him. His general extreme isolationism–including a fair bit of we-brought-this-on-ourselves “understanding” of global anti-American hatred–is a far juicier target in front of Republican audiences. And his wacky conspiracy-theorizing pretty much speaks for itself.

This is the problem with staffing an entire supposedly non-partisan cultural magazine with like-minded partisan hacks: whenever they step outside their comfort zone and take a look at the world outside, their blinkered ignorance trips them up–and there’s nobody around to catch them.

As an Iowa resident, I can tell you the Paul campaign has been gaining momentum and will do well–while Romney is sputtering. That doesn’t mean much in the national scheme, but shows Romney is a lackluster campaigner and that many conservatives just don’t like him.

Richard Stark says:

I’m seconding what Obama said on Jay Leno,
“I’m waiting to see who gets kicked off the island last”.
The Republican race for the nomination has given us a lot of TV hoopla, most of which is as boring and meaningless as everything else on TV.

I think all of the Republican candidates are repulsive and appalling not to mention embarrassing to the entire country. A complete portrait of a nut gallery.

Funny Jules, one could say the same about yourself given some of your comments.

Well if you find some mentally balanced member among this motley group you just go along ahead and pull the lever in the lavatory for him.

David B. says:

Once again, some outstanding troll posts Jules.

Jules says:

Well David there’s just never any room in your cramped dark little room for any debate of ideas or insights only hasbara defamatories and the usual slew of not having a single idea or clue.


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Eyes on the Hawkeye State

Paul specter looms even as Romney positions self

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