Women For Santorum? ... Maybe

From The Washington Post's Amy Gardner

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows not only that Santorum is doing better among GOP women than he was a few weeks ago, but also that he is less unpopular — and also less well known — among Democratic and independent women than his Republican rivals Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

Voters and political strategists alike say Santorum’s rise has less to do with his views on these issues than on his ability to relate to the daily struggles of the middle class.

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Ford O'Connell On Obama's Energy Policy And Rising Gas Prices At Fox News

Ford O'Connell and Democratic pundit Kirsten Powers join Fox News' Chris Stirewalt on Fox News Live's "Power Play" to discuss President Obama's energy policy, rising gas prices, alternative energy and the Keystone XL pipeline. Appearance also available on Fox.com at http://video.foxnews.com/v/1471985005001/

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Mitt Romney Overplayed His Hand In Michigan

In the campaign world, it's almost a cardinal rule: Undersell your chances, then overdeliver at the ballot box. Former Gov. Mitt Romney never got the memo on this, and he might well pay a severe price for this misstep in next week's Michigan primary.

Ironically, as we inch closer to the two primaries next Tuesday, Team Romney has begun to lower expectations in Michigan—to say the state is not, in fact, a must-win for his campaign. No kidding.

But the Romney camp could've saved itself a lot of money and agiant headache if it had started off trying to shape the narrative rather than becoming beholden to it.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at U.S. News & World Report

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Culture Wars May Weaken Youth Support For Republicans

Colleen Wilson has all the makings of a foot soldier for whichever Republican becomes the nominee to oppose President Barack Obama in the November election.

The Virginia college student comes from a conservative family and describes herself as a Republican. She is an intern at the county Republican committee and paid her own way to attend the prominent Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington this month.

Her support should be a given for a Republican in Virginia, one of the closely contested "swing states" where the 2012 presidential election will likely be decided.

But it's not.

"I may vote for Obama," said Wilson, who is 19. "It's possible. I can't say now, but I'm not ruling it out."

Some Republicans said the party's moral tone could even revitalize support for the Democrats.

"If it's perceived as telling people what to do, then Republicans could awaken a sleeping giant that could significantly boost President Obama's re-election chances," said Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist.

"They're walking a very tight rope right now."

Obama's approval rating among 18- to 29-year olds had slipped since 2009, but has been rising again. It hit 60 percent this month in Gallup's tracking poll.

Read more from Patricia Zengerle at Reuters

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Ford O'Connell Discusses The Role Of Money In Election 2012 At AJE

So, what role will Wall Street play in the 2012 election? 

Joining Inside Story US 2012 with presenter Lisa Fletcher are guests: Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist formerly with John McCain's campaign; Bob Biersack, a senior fellow at the Center for Responsive Politics, a group that monitors campaign funds; and Richard Wolff, an emeritus economics professor at the University of Massachusetts.


Also See: 


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Ford O'Connell At Politico's Arena: Has Romney Stanched The Bleeding?

Given the “circular firing squad” nature of the 2012 GOP primary, Romney will not have stopped the bleeding until he secures his party’s nomination.

That said, due to the high stakes of Wednesday night’s debate, Santorum’s subpar performance might have been just enough for Romney to win the Michigan and Arizona primaries. Santorum really needed a strong showing, and he just didn’t deliver.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at Politico's "The Arena"

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Romney Clawing His Way Back In Republican Race

Mitt Romney is fighting his way back into the driving seat in the Republican presidential race, putting in a strong debate performance in Arizona and gaining in polls against conservative rival Rick Santorum.

An aggressive Romney repeatedly put Santorum on the defensive in a CNN debate on Wednesday and attacked the former U.S. senator and staunch social conservative for supporting big-spending government programs.

Romney has also battled his way into a slight lead in a new poll in Michigan, which along with Arizona will hold a primary contest on February 28. Romney had trailed Santorum by as much as double digits a week ago in the Michigan race.

The pace of the Republican race quickens dramatically next month, with 22 state nominating contests in March, including 10 on "Super Tuesday" March 6.

Santorum may have missed his chance at Wednesday's debate.

"Santorum needed a strong performance in the debate and he didn't get it," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said. "All eyes were on him. He had an opening and he missed it."

Read more from Steve Holland at Reuters

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Romney Is More Electable, But Needs To Clean Up Campaign

For now, it appears Romney would fare slightly better than Santorum in a general election match-up with President Obama. But as political prognosticator Nate Silver of The New York Times says, Romney's current electability edge over Santorum "is not all that great."

The true answer of which candidate is more electable hinges on two items. How does each candidate go about winning the GOP nomination—if, in fact, one of them does win it? And where does the economy stand on Election Day?

Read more from Ford O'Connell at U.S. News & World Report

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Republican Debate: Why Rick Santorum Faces More Pressure Than Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney faces enormous pressure Wednesday night in the only Republican debate before next Tuesday’s primaries in Michigan and Arizona – and the 10 on Super Tuesday a week later.

It’s Mr. Romney’s biggest chance to get his campaign back on track since Rick Santorum shot to the top of national polls after his stunning sweep of Missouri,Minnesota, and Colorado on Feb. 7. If Romney loses in Michigan (Feb. 28) and then Ohio (March 6) – two big heartland contests, including his native state – the political universe will be turned on its head.

But the stakes are just as high for Santorum – and arguably higher. Even with key losses, Romney will remain the best organized candidate in the race, with the biggest war chest and his name on the ballot in all remaining contests.  Santorum is still the underdog in all those spheres, and he needs to win Michigan to show that he can succeed in a big, hotly contested race.  

And to win Michigan, where the polls show Romney rising back into a dead heat, Santorum has to reassure voters.

“Santorum’s job tonight is to quell fears about his general-election electability,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “Taking on social issues to differentiate himself from [Newt] Gingrich and Romney is a good strategy, but it’s high risk. He’s been over-talking.”

Santorum’s first task, Mr. O’Connell says, is to take his strong views on social issues – a plus with the so-called “values voters” in the Republican base – and turn them into a discussion on limited government and strong families, not about telling individuals what to do. In recent days Santorum has been all over birth control, women’s role in society, and same-sex marriage.

Read more from Linda Feldmann at The Christian Science Monitor

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Romney's Trump Card In Mich. A Risky Gamble

Enlisting Donald Trump — best known for the catchphrase “You’re fired!” — in Michigan is a risky move in a state ravaged with 9 percent unemployment, but the reality TV star’s straight talk could be just what Mitt Romney needs to sideline the surging Rick Santorum, pundits told the Herald.

Trump has been booked for radio interviews in the Wolverine State every day this week to promote Romney as his campaign struggles to close a gap with Santorum a week before the must-win primary.

Whether Romney’s Trump card will be a bold success or a colossal failure is as unpredictable as a “Celebrity Apprentice” boardroom outcome, political observers said.

“Trump does one thing that Romney does not — exude passion and charisma,” said unaligned Republican strategist Ford O’Connell, who worked on the 2008 John McCain/Sarah Palin campaign. “Romney needs Trump right now because he needs someone to throw the whole kitchen sink at Santorum.”

The arrangement seems to at least work out well for one party — Trump.

“With The Donald, you’re always playing with fire,” O’Connell said. “Trump wants to keep one political foot in the door.”

Read more from Chris Cassidy at the Boston Herald

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