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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 12/27/11

Driving The Clown Car: A (Serious) Look At GOP Campaign Managers With Nonetheless HILARIOUS UDATES!

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BREAKING: Herman Cain's defection didn't quell the laugh riot.

When the clown car opens and spills its laugh-laden contents, the last one out is usually the driver, and with the GOP circus in full swing, it's time to stop and think about who the hell is actually running the show. Of course, so many aides and managers bailed out in the last 6 months, that the resulting confusion only adds to the hilarity: these guys are willing to throw their candidates under the clown car by continuing with the blunders. What do they have to gain, you may ask? Possibly a future position as ringmaster for another circus: the next GOP campaign pandering to Tea Partyers and the Christian Right.

Then again, all the buffoonery may be the fault of the candidates, hurling themselves through their campaigns without giving a second thought to what their managers think giving rise to the question: why did they hire these guys at all? As nannies, perhaps? And who, exactly, is running the show? 

Experience, dealings with the Christian Right, odd endorsements procured, campaign issues tackled and the latest events: all might shed some light on these politicos and the clown campaigns they manage.

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Joe Allbaugh (Rick Perry)

Joe Allbaugh's wikipedia biography stops mysteriously at 2008, not mentioning any connection to Perry. Perhaps it was removed out of embarrassment, because Allbaugh's political and lobbying career shows a marked intelligence peppered with ruthlessness. He was, after all, George Bush's campaign manager for the 2000 election and head of FEMA until the ill-fated "Brownie" took over. And before that, presided over then-Governor Bush's  "Fomalde-gate"  scandal (involving the funeral industry).It also shows no significant connection with the Christian Right. So, does Allbaugh have any say in Perry's campaign, or is he just window dressing?

It's odd to think that Allbaugh had anything to do with "The Response" (Perry's call-to-prayer for the state of Texas), his ineptitude during the debates, or his fatal campaign ad, "Strong." But remember that Perry is of the same mold as George Bush - and Bush seldom listened to advisers. Then again, Joe Allbaugh may be jettisoning Perry out of the clown car while secretly feathering his own nest: his firm, Allbaugh Company, has operated with, Halliburton, Ecosphere Systems and  Dilligence, Iraq (a security/mercenary company).

Rick Perry doesn't seem to know (or care) what his campaign manager is all about. Figures.


Dean Cain, actor, of Lois and Clark (Superman) fame. Couldn't Allbaugh get Chuck Norris? 

Steve Forbes - of course, a "corporate personhood" donor.

The Latest:  Rick Perry's taxpayer-paid security detail costs  continue to skyrocket . Perry insists that his campaign travels are beneficial to the state of Texas. Right.

                                   Mike Krull (Newt Gingrich)

Trying to look for Newt Gingrich's campaign manager under Google is like looking for a needle in a haystack: most of the coverage of his campaign management has been how his staff deserted him en masse. But a look in an article on his wife Calista reveals that it's HER friend, Mike Krull who has filled the crucial gap. 

Calista Gingrich may, in fact, be the REAL manager of Newt's campaign. Her "column" on his website titled "Calista's Canvass" reveals just how much more involved she is with the campaign. Is it she or Krull who were instrumental in getting endorsements from the American Family Association and   homophobic hate monger , pastor Jim Garlow?

But looking at Krull: at first glance, he seems to suffer from the GOP malady of inept vetting. Not vetting your own candidate properly, that is. A campaign manager MUST know absolutely EVERYTHING about the candidate's past. Period. In effect, he must know the candidate better than the candidate knows himself: he has to ward off any criticism and have an answer for any peccadillo or indiscretion. 

Endorsements :

Columbia Tea Party 

Tea Party Nation

Des Moines Tea Party

These endorsements may be indicative of Calista's influence, not Krull's.

The Latest : Newt Gingrich has lied about his first divorce: his website says that first wife Jackie Gingrich, requested the divorce, but CNN has uncovered documents stating not only that Gingrich instigated the procedures, but that he was negligent in child support and owed three months in support of Jackie and their two daughters, teenagers at the time. Mike Krull's/Gingrich's campaign's insistence that the opposite was true only makes Krull look inept in the face of legitimacy: Gingrich's mea culpas become more disingenuous as time goes by, weakening his support by the Christian Right.   

The Latest II : When it was discovered that Gingrich did not make the ballot on the Virginia primaries, his response was to compare the event toe Pearl Harbor (?!?): 

"Newt and I agreed that the analogy is December 1941: We have experienced an unexpected setback, but we will regroup and refocus." 
Did they agree on what to do if the analogy was ridiculed? For Krull's sake, we hope not.
                                    John Tate (Ron Paul)

As with Newt Gingrich's campaign manager, googling for John Tate presents a problem: most of the articles are on the demise of Kent Snyder, his former campaign manager who died uninsured and whose estate owed $400,000 in medical bills as a consequence. The (now) infamous interview with Wolf Blitzer pointed out how many people of Paul's ranks would just "let them die" if people elected not to have health insurance. Although Snyder's case was a bit different (he was denied health care because of a pre-existing condition), it put Paul in  an embarrassing position after he had stated that "our neighbors, our friends, our churches would do it." Paul's lobbing of compassion over to the churches, however, is quite misplaced: they can't handle the volume of people with needs, nor do many of them accept people with needs in a totally compassionate (non-qualifying) way.

So how is his new campaign manager, John Tate, looking at Health Care Reform? Tate's history as a Paul supporter and president of Campaign for Liberty (a libertarian - no government group) can unearth Tate's stance on health care (see video below). Total free enterprise in terms of health care basically reiterates the former physician's stance that the only good uninsured American is a dead uninsured American.  


John Stossel

Chuck Norris (yes, instead of endorsing Rick Perry - maybe it was the Brokeback Mountain jacket that turned off Norris)

Andrew Sullivan. Not. Sullivan withdrew his support after further investigation into Paul's foreign policies.

Latest: In a FOX News update concerning the racially charge newsletters under Paul's name back in the 80's, total denial is the name of the game.

"These things are really nasty, and he didn't know about it? Wasn't aware of it?" Gingrich said at a stop in South Carolina.

Paul has since denied writing, and in some cases even reading, some of the newsletters that bore his name. But the issue could continue to haunt him as he rides a wave of support in Iowa at just the right time.

Again, this looks like a case of not knowing the candidate's history inside-out.

                       Keith Nahigian (Michele Bachmann)

It's probably fitting that Keith Nahigian was responsible for Dan Quayle's infamous "potatoe" gaffe: Bachmann is so prone to gaffes that spin comes from the chin. In any case, Nahigian has had over twenty years to learn from the mistake in thinking that politicians are intelligent. 

Then again, Nahigian's own gaffes (or rather, unfortunate quotes) have not given Bachmann's campaign  additional dignity :

Michele Bachmann's campaign manager lashed out at a CBS executive after he was accidentally cc'd on a network email detailing a plan to marginalize the Minnesota Congresswoman at Saturday night's Republican debate.

"John Dickerson should be fired," the Rep.'s political handler Keith Nahigian told reporters after the debate, CNN and Fox reported. "He is a piece of sh---. He is a fraud and should be fired."

The overspill from the Santorum scandal (Vander Plaats asked Bachmann to 'merge" with Santorum) did nothing to deter Nahigian from  taking strategies  for Iowa from Santorum's campaign:

Earlier in the week, Bachmann's team announced that they were taking a page from Santorum's playbook and would make campaign stops in all 99 counties in Iowa before the caucus on Jan. 3. Bachmann will start this campaign swing in Northwest Iowa on Friday and continue throughout the weekend.

Great. Taking it's cue from a tanking campaign so it can pander to the Christian Right is very, very smart thinking. 

Endorsements :

Phyllis Schafley. Even though she didn't send her gay son to Marcus Bachmann's pray-away-the-gay clinic.

Wayne Newton. He didn't go to Bachmann's clinic either. 


Nahigian himself sounds as vague and clueless as Bachmann. Witness his response (below) to a question on Isreal (referring to Ron Paul's remark that he wished Israel was not a state)

                               Mike Biundo (Rick Santorum)

The former aide to Pat Buchanan's primary effort in Iowa back in 1996 should know better about reining in a candidate, but Mike Biundo has worked on Santorum's campaigns so long that he can't seem to see the forest from the trees. 

Biundo on   key New Hampshire endorsement   going to Newt Gingrich. 

"Rick is running a traditional New Hampshire style, door-to-door, town-hall-to-town-hall grassroots campaign," said Biundo, a New Hampshire native. "We are looking forward to a positive result on January 10th here in New Hampshire."

Door-to-door at this point, when Santorum is only maintaining the 5% slot is, at best, a weak excuse for a weak campaign. True, Santorum never had the entertainment appeal of Rick Perry, whose calls to Christianism have sparked debate and   parody , but Santorum's moralizing overshadows all aspects of his persona. His demonization of Islam, the possibilities of Sharia law and implications that Muslims are terrorists, have become   rallying cries to a few right-wing bloggers .

Endorsements :

Bob Vander Plaats. Cost: $1 million. Scandal: Priceless

Brad Thor. The thriller author's book, The Last Patriot, pandered to extreme fears of takeover by Islamic terrorists.

Latest : Biundo has tried to play down the   Vander Plaats "pay for play" scandal   by saying that Santorum was never really approached byVander Plaats. Santorum says differently, contradicting Biundo.    

                         Matt Rhoades (Mitt Romney)

Matt Rhoades has been with Mitt Romney since 2008, after being director of "opposition research" for George Bush's campaign in 2004.

His colleagues would later tell National Journal that his opposition research work helped discredit   Sen. John Kerry   (D-Mass.) on national security issues in particular, or as The Hotline put it in 2006, "Campaign officials credit him with doing more than just about any other staffer to define John Kerry as weak, wimpy, French and flip-floppy -- an unacceptable Commander in Chief."

So it seems that Rhoades is dealing with the very same type of character he "exposed" which, if he can turn overturn the perception of Romney as "flip-floppy" he is an extremely good manager indeed. He also has an extremely good relationship with Matt Drudge (The Drudge Report). But how has he dealt with the Mormon issue?

He hasn't. Probably because he's allowing the Christian Right to hang itself on the issue. "Mormonism is a cult" is a meme that has worn itself thin and Rhoades, being the opposition analyst that he is, knows that this kind of push-back can actually work in Romney's favor. Be he weak or flip-floppy, Romney needs an underdog persona. Rhoades is already concentrating on the "kill Romney" attack strategy that the Obama Administration flatly denies. Rhoades knows the validity of hanging on to a persecution campaign.


JP Morgan Chase

Former First Lady Barbara Bush. Pearls notwithstanding.

Latest :

The recent  tele-town hall Florida apparance  by Romney didn't seem to quell fears of elitism and flip-flopping. Rhoades can't seem to get Romney into that "everyman" mode he so desperately wants - and needs.

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Either the clowns are running the circus or the campaign managers are - it's tough to decide: from ruthless right wingers like Allbaugh, to clueless politicos such as Nahigian, campaign managers look to be throwing their candidates under the clown car for purposes only they know. Perhaps, instead of the driving the cars, they decided early on that it would be best if they just sat back and enjoy the ride and its ensuing slapstick chaos along with the "suckers born every minute."

Who will be laughing after the primaries?


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Rev. Dan Vojir is has been writing/blogging on religion and politics for the better part of ten years. A former radio talk show host (Strictly Books €" Talk America Radio Network) and book publisher, Dan has connected with some of the most (more...)
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