Where We're Going, We Don't Need Campaign Trails

Speaking of super-classy Hillary Clinton supporters, the eerily mirthless Howard Wolfson, ex-flack for the Democrat's runner-up, grabs Jake Tapper by the labels and rants about John "Who's Your Daddy?" Edwards.

"I believe we would have won Iowa, and Clinton today would therefore have been the nominee," former Clinton Communications Director Howard Wolfson told ABCNews.com.
Obama won 37.6 per cent of the vote. Edwards won 29.7 per cent and Clinton won 29.5 per cent, according to results posted by the Iowa Democratic Party.

"Our voters and Edwards' voters were the same people," Wolfson said the Clinton polls showed. "They were older, pro-union. Not all, but maybe two-thirds of them would have been for us and we would have barely beaten Obama."

This is refreshingly blunt in its stupidity, and election guru Nate Silver can tell you why. Two big reasons: Nowhere near two-thirds of Edwards voters listed Clinton as their second choice, and after Edwards left the race most of his support went to Obama. And there are two very Iowa-specific reasons why Edwards voters might not have become Clinton voters. The first was the Iraq War. Edwards, running as the dupe who supported the war in 2002 but now wanted out, muddied what would have been a clear choice between the unapologetic Clinton and the against-it-from-the-start Obama. The second was Iowa's threshold system, where voters whose candidates didn't get 15 percent support at caucus sites would join up with candidates who did. The bleed-off from Richardson, Biden, and all those other guys greatly helped Obama. Nice to know that after eight months Clintonites are still too arrogant to figure out why they lost.

Still, I can see why Wolfson speculates about events that would have shook the primaries. It's fun. Here are three scenarios I've spitballed around D.C., to the alternate amusement or anguish of my conversation partners.

- Rudy had gone all out in New Hampshire. Two things probably needed to happen to salvage the Giuliani campaign. The first would have been Ben Smith not running his piece on Giuliani's use of public money to shack up with his girlfriend. But the second was well within the candidate's control. There was a window of about three months when John McCain's mismanaged campaign was broke and imploding. If Giuliani had just ripped off McCain's 2000 campaign and parked in the state for weeks of town halls, he could have snatched up those homeless moderate Republican and independent voters, denying McCain any chance for a comeback. Hell, Giuliani used to be good at town halls in the same way McCain was, blunt and gaffe-tastic. It never happened because Giuliani ran a soft, coddled campaign with no respect to what voters in early primary states were used to. But if he'd played ball, he could have placed first or second and stayed in the mix until the electoral vote-heavy states of Super Tuesday put him in the lead.

- Fred had dropped out after Iowa. If Fred Thompson had quit the race when he placed third in the caucus, tied with McCain and barely ahead of Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee would have won South Carolina. The rural counties that gave Bush his 2000 margin over McCain were the places where Thompson overperformed. Subtract him and Huckabee wins the first Southern primary by 3-4 points. McCain heads into Florida with a 1-4 win record, and the state becomes a three-way duel between Huckabee, Romney, and McCain. If Gov. Charlie Crist stays neutral, Romney probably wins. (If McCain had not won New Hampshire, a South Carolina loss would have pushed him out and Giuliani would have won Florida.)

- The Ron Paul moneybombs had come earlier. The relationship between the Paul campaign's grassroots and its former staffers reminds me of the divide between Clinton dead-enders and people who actually ran her campaign. I've heard Paul supporters explain, in great detail, what the official campaign should have done with the money that flooded in, and I've heard them name which strategists they blame for the mistakes (when they're not blaming the press. There's general agreement, though, that if the $10 million and change raised in the November and December moneybombs had come earlier, the campaign would have done more with it. I don't think the late money had much of an effect on Iowa and New Hampshire, but more time and money devoted to the Feb. 5 states could have produced a win in Montana or Alaska, a few more 2nd places finishes, a few more humiliations of the other candidates.

Got any more?

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  • ||

    The ineptitude of the people Paul had running his campaign still makes me fume.

    In hindsight, it would have been really good for him to challenge Bush in the 2004 primary like some people were urging him to. Of course he wouldn't have won, but he would have grabbed a ton of free publicity and begin to build up and organize the (what would have been back then a much smaller) movement. It could have made a world of difference in 2008, where everyone was just flying by the seat of their pants with no real idea what was going on.

    Ultimately, though, Paul simply doesn't have a clue as to national political strategy. And I say that as a proud supporter of his campaign.

  • ||

    Got any more?

    Off the top of my head -

    If my aunt had balls, she'd be my uncle.
    If the dog hadn't stopped to take a shit, he'd have caught the rabbit.
    If butterflies carried machine guns, birds wouldn't eat them.

  • kinnath||

    Politics made more sense before sufferage and emancipation.

  • ||

    This is what I know- a year ago, I was convinced the election would be a choice beween Hillary and Rudy.

    I'll take what I can get.

  • My old man||

    If a frog had wings, he could fly and he wouldn't bump his ass all the time.

  • ||

    Mike Huckabee would have been a formidable nominee in an atmosphere with a softening economy and Iraq receding as a campaign issue. Not to mention, as Bill Clinton said, he was the only one of the Repblican side who, my friends, can tell a joke or give a speech, my friends.

    That's...that's...not CHANGE was can believe. In. *grimmace*

  • ||

    There's general agreement, though, that if the $10 million and change raised in the November and December moneybombs had come earlier, the campaign would have done more with it.

    General agreement among whom? The campaign had $5M cash in hand before the moneybombs, and they were barely spending any of it. Heck, they didn't start spending the moneybomb money till January. Maybe he was waiting for all his family members to put in their two-weeks notice at their other jobs so he could get them on the payroll.

    I was an ardent supporter of Ron Paul mere months ago, but now I must admit his campaign was just another frothy mix of incompetence and financial deceit.

  • T||

    If a frog had side pockets, he'd carry a handgun.

  • ||

    My two favorites:

    Dems use the same primary rules as the Republicans: Hillary steamrolls Obama.

    Repubs use the same primary rules as the Dems: Romney has a very strong plurality of votes coming out of Super Tuesday while the Anti-Romney forces remain split between Huck (in the south) and McCain (elsewhere). McCain eventually gives up since he can't win. Romney puts Huck on the VP ticket to offset his weaknesses, as Huck hits all the big constituencies that could spell trouble for Romney: Baptist, southern, goofy/charming/non-robotic, and economically ignorant.

    Romney goes on to get smoked even worse than McCain will.

  • Jesse Walker||

    If Thompson were actually interested in running for president, he'd still be running for president.

  • Guy Montag||

    Save this one for post election: If McCain would have embraced windmill power for new oil production he would have beaten Obama.

  • verbose paultard||

    reason has lower air pressure than its surroundings

  • Nigel Watt||

    I volunteered for Paul in Iowa and South Carolina. Their materials in Iowa sucked nuts. Had we been able to hand out brochures that were, if nothing else, glossy and free of typos (pictures would have been a bonus) we would have done much better there.

  • Johnny Nowhere||

    -Rosie hadn't quit The View. If Rosie had stayed on, her relentless questioning of co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck's conservative postitions would have ignited a firestorm amongst the progressive grass-roots. Oprah would have lent her empire's support to the "RosieRoots", and a legion of soccer-moms would make the firestorm a groundswell. Participation in Democratic primaries would have set records, leading Republicans to cede the presidency without contest. Karl Rove, reached for comment, would have said, "Rosie... that bitch is dynamite."

  • ||

    The Clintons and their defenders have such a unique right to complain about slick talking southern politicians who lie about their adultery. My God how can such people be allowed in politics!?

  • Guy Montag||

    Of the Obama-Winfrey Network had gone on the air in January, Sen. Obama might have gotten more votes than a girl.

    Oh, wait, that one didn't matter, did it ;)

  • kinnath||

    Had we been able to hand out brochures that were, if nothing else, glossy and free of typos (pictures would have been a bonus) we would have done much better there.

    The Ron Paul campaign suffered from one of the few documentable cases of multiple personality disorder.

    One version of Ron showed up on talk shows and newscasts as kindly, old baby doctor that just wanted to return the US to its original ways.

    The version of Ron described in radio and television ads was a foaming-at-the-mouth, conspricy nut.

    I still voted for him in the caucuses, but I do regret giving money that helped put those ads on radio and TV.

  • Nigel Watt||

    Yeah, I didn't get the ads either. We were driving around Ames when we heard the immigration one and the general consensus was "WTF".

  • ||

    kinnath- in other words, there was the real Ron Paul (the kindly old doctor, freakishly normal and sedate for some one so libertarian) and the Ron Paul he let his close circle of friends and advisers, who he has always been way too trusting with, talk him into trying to portray in his ad campaign (the crazy far-right Pat Buchanan, Jr.). That second Ron Paul was the same one Lew Rockwell ghost-wrote racist diatribes for. Though to be fair, it's also primarily the second Ron Paul that has consistently gotten reelected to Congress.

  • kinnath||

    I was precint chairman for Ron Paul. I got up and spoke on his behalf. He came in third in my little precint. I went home all pumped and clicked on the news so I could watch the miracle occur. Too bad it didn't.

    Ron Paul may not be the person his advertisements made him out to be. But there is some latent character flaw in a person that will let his representatives, so terrribly mis-represent his positions. So I do hold that against him. That wouldn't have stopped me from voting for him in the general election if it got that far.

  • Orange Line Special||

    Got any more?

    Sure: if the MSM (and mainstream bloggers) had done their job, BHO wouldn't be the PresumptiveNominee and the same goes for McCain.

    All Hail the Kochtopus!

  • Nigel Watt||

    Andy, I don't think it's the second Ron Paul who gets elected to Congress. He's everyone's favorite grandpa there.

  • ||

    Nigel Watt-

    That's a big part of it, too (and he has gone out of his way to cultivate that image, albeit even if it is mostly accurate). But if you look at the actual issues he pushes in his reelection campaigns, it's not marijuana decrim and slashing military spending. His ads and campaign lit focus on stopping them dirty Mexicans, spending more money on the VA, and cutting taxes. In other words, he carefully focuses on those issues where he overlaps with your average conservative Republican.

  • Dwayne Mayor||

    If Ron Paul had not written racist diatribes for years on end in his newsletters, and had not invented three different tall tales attempting to explain away their existence AND if the New Republic had not found the primary sources and made them available to the public in pdf files he might have had a shot at actually being competitive in a few spots.

  • ||

    There's general agreement, though, that if the $10 million and change raised in the November and December moneybombs had come earlier, the campaign would have done more with it.

    That's news to me, and it will still be news tomorrow, because I ain't buying it today. The money was there in plenty of time to put out TV ads in NH, but the campaign decided to market Paul as Republican Lite instead of Liberty Heavy in the Live Free or Die state. Running fifth (FIFTH!) in NH sunk the r3VOLution, even before Super Tuesday.

  • BDB||

    If Presidents weren't term limited, Bill Clinton would have won re-election in 2000.

  • Tsu Dho Nihm||

    ...but the campaign decided to market Paul as Republican Lite instead of Liberty Heavy in the Live Free or Die state.

    Yep. That was pretty much the end right there.

  • ||

    reason blog comments r the only place paultards go. the rest of the ron paul supporters r smart enough to not read this dribble.

    the blog was good. the comments are terrible.

  • ||

    Here is one, if the GOP had nominated Ron Paul this would have revitalized the GOP and with it this Republic. The neocons in the GOP with the mainstreet media behind them insured the
    Conservative voice in the GOP was silenced.

    The result will be a thrashing for the GOP in Novemeber.If the conservatives in the GOP dont take control of the party it will go the way of the Whigs.

    The Libertarian leg of the party will not return to support it unless it truely goes back to its core principals, the religious right leg is in the early stages of defecting to the Constitutional Party.

    What will be left of the GOP?, the neocon globalist eltes??? that will never win a election without the support of the libertarians and religious right legs of the party. After GWB, the libertarians have awaken and they arnt going to vote based on talk, it must be someone who has and can walk the walk.

    If the GOP cant or wont go back to true limted gov't and a American first platform, the GOP can join the dodo bird in the list of has beens

  • ||

    Ron Paul simply didn't get, and I think still doesn't get, that his opposition to immigration and abortion were merely acceptable deviations to the "message of freedom" that got people so excited about him. He stupidly made that the centerpiece of all has advertising efforts, which made him sound to the uninformed voter just like another Republican. Those stances didn't make him stand out at all.

  • Andrew ||

    This reminds me of the "What if...?" Marvel comics I read as a kid. Some alternative history ideas (I'll let others "go wiki" fill in the details):

    1) Hillary divorced Bill in 2000 and ran as ex-wife of president.

    2) Ron Paul won New Hampshire.

    3) Obama won New Hampshire.

    4) Bush Administration conducted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan perfectly, economy was great and Bush's poll ratings was in the mid-60s, low 70s range.

    5) Dick Cheney ran for president and somehow engineered (through Rove) a squeaker victory for the nomination.

    6) Edwards had an affair ...with Hillary (eeww!)

    7) McCain had a heart attack and died two days after winning nomination.

    8) Huckabee caught on camera swearing like a sailor during campaign.

    9) Romney caught on camera acting, well, normal.

    10) George Allen never says "macacca" ever.

  • ||

    If Florida had been able to hold an election like a normal state, we wouldn't have invaded Iraq.

  • ||


    What if Bill Clinton had resigned in 1999 and Al Gore ran as a sitting President? Furhter, what if Janet Reno hadn't gone all Waco on the Gonzalez family in Miami? You think maybe just a few 1000 or so Cuban votes might have gone Al Gore's way and there never would have been a Florida recount?

  • ||

    "If Florida had been able to hold an election like a normal state, we wouldn't have invaded Iraq."

    No Joe. Al Gore would have invaded Iraq just like he said he wanted to in 1998 and you and I would agree on a lot more things.

  • JMR||

    The Paul campaign screwed the pooch by hiring the wrong (and rude!!) people. There was a massive divide between the "rEVOLution" and the image Paul's handlers, if not always Paul himself, wanted to portray. For example, they paid some woman good money to go around the country and fight AGAINST us putting up those cheap, homemade signs because they didn't like the word "revolution," and then a month later Dr. Paul's USING THE WORD REVOLUTION ANYWAY. And some of his handlers could be incredibly rude to very hard working people (not just me, my incidents were minor). There was such a disconnect between official campaign and actual supporters that it was doomed to fail even before they ignored opportunities on a silver platter like The Howard Stern Show. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

  • ||

    Don't ever expect mainstream journalists to be honest or reliable or even working for you the people. They have no character and will write what they are told...

    Ron Pauls idiot supporters failed to realize they must work WITH the GOP not against it... that was their problem. Some of them are doing this now in local races and they aren't going anywhere.

    Huckabee was taken in by the CFR and in Ark, he governed more liberally than Bill Clinton did. He was the tool to take from the religious which they fooled, into not supporting Ron Paul.

    Ron Paul lost NH due to the massive voter fraud that is allowed to go on here year after year. It's is the SoS of this state who ought to be in max security prisons for not ruling on those cases that have been presented to them year after year.

    Racism isn't even an issue here with Ron Paul... it's laughable. I can find you a racist among Hillary or Obama supporters in two minutes and they won't do an article on them -- there would be too many of them. Look how many people are willing to support a REAL BIGOT and racist on the Democrat side (Obama) without one word against him. So long as the press says it's OK, it's OK.

  • ||

    Diebold Baby !!!

    Ponder your bellybutton lint and rue its color.

    Ron Paul Attempted to give America a study of Root Cause And Corrective Action but too many fools were absorbed with their perceptions of the symptoms.

    The Circus Continues !!!

    Wish more people would have Debated Ron Paul Rather Than Dismissed Him.

  • ||

    l Gore would have invaded Iraq just like he said he wanted to in 1998

    I think it's adorable how the Iraq hawks spent years insisting that the anti-regime efforts that took place under Clinton - the support for the Kurds, efforts to build up an internal opposition - amounted to Chamberlainish capitulationism, then pivoted on a dime, and now declare that support for those activities (ie, Gore's position in both 1998 and 2002) is completely indistinguishable from support for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

  • MJ||

    "Florida had been able to hold an election like a normal state, we wouldn't have invaded Iraq."

    If Al Gore had been able to win his putative home state like a normal major party presidential candidate, then...blah, blah, blah.

    Florida's election practices only looked bad in relation to the other states because the other state's results were not looked at very closely. Put under that kind of microscope, any state's election procedures would reveal what a sausage factory an election is. Gore's choice of tactics afterwards did not help, and anyway, he would not have won without cheating.

  • svf||

    Here is one, if the GOP had nominated Ron Paul this would have revitalized the GOP and with it this Republic.

    ha. the anti-RP ad campaign would make Johnson vs. Goldwater look like Sat. morning cartoons by comparison... as the LP and CP sit out the race and throw their feeble support behind Paul, there likely would be such a revolt within the GOP that McCain/Lieberman runs as an "Independent"/"Reform"/"Unity" ticket, finishing 2nd in a 3-way race (with Paul at about 5-10% nationally) as Obama wins all 50 states, Dems control congress, and GOP is reduced to a pile of political rubble.

    and then the REAL troubles begin...

  • ||

    If we had some ham we could have ham and eggs, if we had some eggs.

  • Mike Huckabee||

    GOD ENDORSED ME FOR PRESIDENT!!!! Didn't you all see the cross he put in my TV commercial!!!!! Mitt Romney will burn in Mormon hell with Steve Young, Aaron Eckhart, and the dog my son tortured!!! (we caught Rover reading a Book of Mormon). VOTE MIKE HUCKABEE! I lost 100 pounds praying while Romney was making almost a billion pre-tax dollars running the Marriott Hotel, which I can't afford because I dropped out of the theological seminary!!! I'm better!!!

  • Sean Scallon||

    Lew Rockwell has strenously denied he ever wrote the infamous Ron Paul newsletters. Now given this denial, is it too much to ask those Cosmotards and Orange Line Mafia members who contiue to accuse Lew of writing these newsletters provide a smoking gun implicating him in this dastardly deed? Considering that this website champions of all thsoe who been wrongly accused by overzealous sheriff's and prosecutors, the accusations of guilt who evidence is a little unsettling if not hypocritical.

    In other words, put up or shut up. Grind your ideologcal axes someplace else.

    Besides, if you think Rep. Paul was negligent in his handling of the newsletter issue (which is a fair charge), then maybe you should rethink the idea of a libertarian ever becoming President. Pep. Paul follows the dictum of former U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone to a tee" Try not to separate the life you lead form the words you speak." Well, Rep. Paul truly operates in a libertarian manner. He does not micromanage anything nor is he a control freak. You have to decide whether that's good or bad, but you cannot deny this explains his reaction to the newsletters more than anything. He truly is sincere about liberty and it's that sincerity that's allowed him to build such a passionate following.

    As for the Paul camapaign, I supposed it would have been nice to have the moneybombs take place earlier in the fall of 2007. However, it wasn't as if the Paul camapign was cash poor at the time. They had barely spent the $5 million that had already raised that summer. RP had far more organization in Iowa than Joh McCain or Fred Thompson had and in New Hampshire the Paul campaign had plenty of volunteers, $2 million worth of TV ads, phone banls, a campaign office and paid staff. Certainly it wasn't for lack of resources that Rep. Paul didn't do as well as was hoped in Iowa and New Hampshire.

    Time for a trivia question: Which Republican candidate spent the least amount of time in Iowa and New Hampshire?

    Give up? Well it's none other than our hero, who simply couldn't walk away from his day job being the only one voting against such resolutions like National Eggplant Day. It's a nice gesture but when it comes to two states that define the tone for the nomianting contests and which rely heavily on retail politics, not spening as much time in eithyer place showcasing your retail politicking skills the biggest blunder the Paul campaign couldn not overcome. We can argue about this or that person in the Paul camapaign screwing thins up but ultimately the biggest mistake made by Rep. Paul he made by his lonesome.

    Also, it should be pointed out that because of Rep. Paul's strong opposition to the war, many GOP voters thought he was a liberal. Perhaps running ads against abortion or illegal immigration was his way saying I'm one of you, clumsy though it may have been.


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