Ford O'Connell Discusses The New Hampshire GOP Presidential Primary Results At CBS Radio With Michele Tafoya

Ford O'Connell joins Michele Tafoya on her CBS radio show (WCCO 830 AM) to discuss Tuesday's New Hampshire GOP presidential primary results, Newt Gingrich's attacks on Mitt Romney, super PAC's and what to expect in the upcoming South Carolina Republican presidential primary.

Click here to listen to the interview

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As Romney Rises, Tea Party Sees Senate As 'Bulwark'

As Mitt Romney inches toward the Republican Party's presidential nomination, many conservative activists are increasingly focused on a different political prize for 2012: the Senate.

Republicans, who currently have 47 of the 100 Senate seats, are seen as having a good shot of winning control of the upper chamber because they are defending far fewer seats in the November election.

Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is the clear frontrunner for the party's presidential nomination after victories in the Iowa and New Hampshire nominating contests this month. He can move a big step closer with a win in the January 19 South Carolina primary.

But some supporters of the Tea Party movement and other conservatives distrust Romney, deriding him as a moderate, and they hope to get a few of their candidates into the Senate to serve as a "bulwark" against him or President Barack Obama.

Republicans would need to win four Democratic-controlled seats and successfully defend all their seats to win the Senate. A net gain of three seats would give Republicans control if Romney or another Republican won the White House, as the sitting vice president breaks all tie votes in the Senate.

While Republicans are expected to lose some seats in the House of Representatives, they currently are expected to retain their majority. If the party gains the Senate then even a few conservative senators could have an outsized impact on the 100-member chamber and U.S. politics.

"The Senate gives conservatives their greatest opportunity to have an impact in 2012," said Republican strategist and CivicForumPAC chairman Ford O'Connell. "And the Senate is doubly important because no one should underestimate President Obama, he's the best campaigner I've ever seen."

"Once the Republican presidential nomination process is over," he added, "the real story is going to be the Senate."

Read more from Nick Carey at Reuters

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Ford O'Connell Discusses The New Hampshire GOP Presidential Primary Results At CBC

Republican strategist and former campaign advisor to John McCain, Ford O'Connell discusses the New Hampshire primary and what lies ahead for the GOP candidates.

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Right Wing Rips Gingrich, Perry For Attacks On Romney, Capitalism

Conservatives are savaging Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry for their attacks on Mitt Romney’s years at the private-equity firm Bain Capital.

The attacks from Gingrich and Perry, whose presidential campaigns are on life support, are meant to resonate in South Carolina, the next state on the GOP calendar and a place hit hard by the economic downturn.

Yet in slamming Romney as a corporate raider, the two candidates fighting for their party’s right-wing might have done what Romney never seemed capable of: rallying conservatives around the former Massachusetts governor’s campaign.

The influential Wall Street Journal editorial page denounced the criticism as “crude and damaging caricatures of modern business and capitalism” on Tuesday, saying that “desperate” GOP candidates “sound like Michael Moore,” the left-wing filmmaker and provocateur.

Other prominent conservatives similarly bemoaned what they viewed as liberal attack tactics that will be copied by President Obama’s campaign in November.

GOP strategist Ford O’Connell warned that Republicans are playing with fire.

“If the Romney attacks are seen as an attack on ‘free enterprise,’ it will backfire, because fiscal conservatives see ‘free enterprise’ as the cornerstone of conservative ideology and will protect ‘free enterprise’ at all costs,” he said.

Gingrich has maintained that his criticism is not anti-capitalist but an issue of fairness.

Read more from Justin Sink at The Hill

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Ford O'Connell At Politico's Arena: 'Is Mitt Romney Unstoppable?'

By winning the Iowa and New Hampshire nominating contests, Mitt Romney not only made history on Tuesday night as a non-incumbent Republican presidential candidate, but he is now the prohibitive favorite to win the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.

If Romney can claim victory in the South Carolina and Florida contests, he will likely become the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. Therefore, if the other candidates in the field want to slow down Romney's momentum, they will likely have to do it in South Carolina, which has a fairly conservative electorate and is relatively uncharted territory for Romney.

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

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Ford O'Connell Discusses New Hampshire Primary Results And What Lies Ahead In South Carolina On Voice Of America

Ford O'Connell and Los Angeles Times correspondent Brian Bennett join host Eric Felten on Voice of America to discuss the 2012 New Hampshire Republican presidential primary results, the GOP presidential field and what lies ahead in the South Carolina primary and in what is widely expected to be a tightly contested 2012 general election battle for the White House.

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Why Ron Paul Is Defending Mitt Romney After The 'Fire People' Remark

Rep. Ron Paul, the libertarian iconoclast, and Mitt Romney, the establishment favorite, are hardly bosom buddies. So why is the Texas congressman defending the former governor of Massachusetts over a quote that other Republican candidates (and Democrats) are taking wildly out of context?

Simple: Representative Paul wants to come in second in the New Hampshire primary.

Mr. Romney is expected to win the Granite State going away. So the big news Tuesday night will be who wins the silver. Duking it out for second place are Paul and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. Mr. Huntsman, in particular, has been going after Romney for saying that he “likes to fire people.” But Romney didn’t really say that.

Here’s what Romney actually said, in context: “I want individuals to have their own [health] insurance. That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy. It also means if you don’t like what they do, you can fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.... You know, if someone doesn’t give me a good service, then I want to say, ‘I’m going to go get someone else to provide that service to me.’”

At 3:15 on Tuesday afternoon, with just a few hours until the New Hampshire polls close, the Paul campaign put out a statement on what it called a “feigned controversy.” In addition to Huntsman, it rapped the knuckles of former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for good measure.

Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who is neutral in the nomination race, says that Paul’s goal of placing second in New Hampshire is all about maintaining momentum heading into the contests in South Carolina and Florida – both states where he is losing ground in polls.

“If someone other than Ron Paul captures second place (i.e., Huntsman), Paul will almost completely fade from the GOP conversation,” says Mr. O’Connell in an e-mail. “For Paul, it is mostly about staying relevant.”

Read more from Linda Feldmann at The Christian Science Monitor 

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Romney: The Odds-On Favorite To Win GOP Nomination In 2012 With A Caveat

Gallup's Lydia Saad expounds on why former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is the odds-on favorite to win the 2012 GOP nomination. That said, Saad's analysis does contain a caveat.

Six in 10 Republican registered voters, nationwide, now believe Mitt Romney is the candidate most likely to win the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, up from 39% saying this in December and exceeding his previous high of 47% from November.

Romney has also crossed into the 30% range for the first time in voter preferences for the nomination. However, in a race as volatile as this one has been, it is worth noting that Romney's 12-percentage-point lead over Santorum in voter preferences is nowhere near as strong as his 49-point lead in expectations for who will win.

Romney not only has to win in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, but he has to meet expectations and then carry that momentum into South Carolina and beyond. Otherwise, both Santorum and Gingrich are currently positioned closely enough behind Romney on the ballot to conceivably make another run for the lead.


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40% Of Americans Identify As Independents In 2011

This is a positive sign for the eventual Republican presidential nominee, and for the GOP's chances at recapturing the Senate in 2012. But Republicans still lag behind Democrats in terms of party identification (31% to 27%). Therefore if Republicans are going to make the necessary gains in 2012, they are going to have to fine tune their economic message and improve their appeal to the middle class. Still, there is a silver lining for the GOP in 2012 according to Gallup's Jeffrey M. Jones:

Despite the Democratic advantage in party identification, proportionately more American independents lean to the Republican Party than to the Democratic Party. Thus, when independents' party leanings are taken into account and combined with the party's core identifiers, the parties end up tied. In 2011, 45% of Americans identified as Republicans or leaned to the Republican Party and 45% identified as Democrats or leaned Democratic.

This is similar to 2010, when the Democrats had a 1-point advantage in leaned party identification, but remains well below the 12-point Democratic advantage in 2008 -- the largest Gallup has recorded for either party since it began regularly measuring leaned party identification in 1991.

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Analysis: Romney's Rivals Running Out Of Time To Stop Him

Lee Bandy knows more about politics in South Carolina than just about anybody. For 40 years, Bandy has been among the best political prophets in a state whose primary has correctly picked every Republican candidate for U.S. President since 1980.

In just over a week, on January 21, the state's, and Bandy's, powers of prognostication will be tested once more, in a Republican primary season whose unpredictable twists and turns have made fools of many prophets.

Right now Bandy, a veteran columnist with The State newspaper in Columbia, is betting on Mitt Romney to win the South Carolina primary, and small wonder.

No Republican candidate has ever followed a win at the Iowa caucus, which Romney secured narrowly last week, with victory in the New Hampshire primary, and virtually everyone but his opponents expects that he will do just that on Tuesday night.

The latest polls show Romney with a 20-point lead over his nearest rival in New Hampshire and recent polls in South Carolina show him having leapfrogged more conservative opponents into first place there.

"A lot of Republicans down here don't like Romney," Bandy said of South Carolina voters. He was referring especially to the two thirds of Republican primary voters in the Palmetto State who are evangelical Christians. They are leery not only of Romney's Mormon faith but also of his earlier moderate positions on abortion and gay marriage, among other social conservative apostasies.

"But many have decided to vote for him because they think he's going to get the nomination. The aim here is to unseat Obama, and there's no real movement toward any other candidate."

"Is the Romney nomination a done deal? If he wins South Carolina it is highly unlikely he will not be the nominee," said Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist.

AND YET.

"There is a large anti-Romney bloc out there," O'Connell added. If you put together the votes for Santorum, former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Governor Rick Perry into one, "they would have the numbers to beat Romney," he said.

They cannot be rolled into one, of course - unless perhaps they can.

Perhaps the greatest threat Romney faces in South Carolina is from Republican Senator Jim DeMint. A favorite of the conservative anti-Washington Tea Party movement, DeMint has yet to endorse a candidate.

"An endorsement by Jim DeMint would be a huge boost" to a Romney rival ahead of the South Carolina primary, O'Connell said. "It could make all the difference in a tight race."

Read more from Tim Reid at Reuters


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