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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Of politics, neighborliness -- and revenge

Things are certainly getting interesting on the right side of the dial as we move into the homestretch in Iowa and New Hampshire.

The surge everyone is talking about these days is far from Baghdad, It's centered in Iowa and involves the once roly-poly former governor of Arkansas. And while we may be partying like its 1992, the decorum will be different.

After all this man from Hope is a Baptist minister.

If all these similarities seem weird -- how about a Massachusetts politician staking his claim to the presidency in New Hampshire, all the while dogged by the border expectations game and the sniping of political foes, often from the same party.

Mitt, you're no Mike Dukakis.

Let's start with Myth, holding a lead and holding on for dear life with the expectation of a win in New Hampshire. He'd better win there. He owns property in Wolfeboro and Belmont which, as much as neighbor he or we would like to admit it, makes him a New Englander.

And as such, the Granite State is simply a must win. Which could make the next couple of weeks very interesting, because two out of three former Republican Bay State governors agree Mitt is not to the one.

While Bill Weld says Mitt's his guy, Big Red's quirkiness makes him a less than ideal proxy. Paul Cellucci is with Rudy, since they both like to project tough but are moderates at heart.

Then there is McCain's proxy -- Jane Swift -- who proves once again that revenge is a dish best served cold.

Swift skewered Mitt in yesterday's Union-Leader, still an important player in New Hampshire politics. So much to choose from but I like this:
In a Romney-Clinton match-up, Democrats need only take a page from the George W. Bush playbook: Undermine the voters' sense that Romney can be trusted by highlighting the number of times he's conveniently changed his mind. And don't forget: He will have to do some more flipping if he becomes the party's nominee. Romney would have to tack back toward the middle -- where most American voters comfortably sit -- in order to win. That might just be a flip-flop-flap.
Meanwhile, speaking of Clinton, we need to shift back to that other man from Hope, who has evolved into the hottest candidate in the GOP field. Oops, scratch that, Mike Huckabee doesn't believe in evolution.

Polls show Huck moving up the national ladder as he builds a stunning large lead in Iowa. In fact, the expectations game are now in full race mood in Iowa too. The Huckabee surge could be his biggest problem, putting him square in the spotlight of the expectations game.

But that leaves Our Man Myth so on edge that after his religion speech failed to attract the sliver of fundamentalist Christians who control this race, he is launching the political nuclear bomb -- going negative.

We're told that Iowans don't like negative campaigners -- and the presidencies of Richard Gephardt and John Dean could stand as testament.

But the sheer risk or the Romney move is audacious. A man viewed with suspicion, rightly or wrongly, for his Mormon beliefs, launches a broadside on a man who has shot up in the polls largely on his Baptist beliefs being the anti-Romney.

It strikes me the Iowa question comes down to: does Huck fall apart for other reasons (like all the second looking at his gubernatorial record on taxes, prisoners and housewarming gifts). Myth is not going to be able to stop a surge designed to stop him. The Iowa race is Huckabee's to blow.

Stay tuned political junkies!

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