Nail-biter in Michigan
Mitt Romney easily won
the Arizona primary on Tuesday and eked out a victory against a surging Rick Santorum in Michigan, where Romney
was born and his father was a popular governor. While Santorum cast the close
contest as a victory of sorts ("a month ago, they didn't know who we are," he told
supporters), the results solidified Romney's status as the frontrunner in the
topsy-turvy Republican race. The former Massachusetts governor, who now has roughly double
the number of delegates as Santorum, is leading the pack of remaining GOP
candidates comfortably in most national polls.
Iran and gas prices
Last month, Newt Gingrich shifted the
focus of his campaign to energy in a bet that owning the issue of rising gas prices could help him claw back into the race. Gingrich has pledged
to lower gas prices to $2.50 per gallon by increasing domestic energy
production through initiatives such as the Keystone XL pipeline. Now, as
tensions mount with Iran over its nuclear program and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to visit
Washington, the other candidates are following suit. Romney accused
President Barack Obama of stifling
fracking -- a controversial technique to unlock oil and gas in underground rock
formations -- through excessive regulations, Santorum went so far as to brandish a
piece of oil-rich shale rock during his Michigan concession speech to
demonstrate his support for the energy industry. (In another nod to stage props
this week, Ron Paul waved a
silver coin at Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to argue for returning to
the gold and silver standard.)
Obama has been talking energy
too, calling for
an end to $4 billion in annual tax breaks and subsidies for oil and gas
companies. A Pew survey
released on Thursday found that voters are spreading the blame for rising gas
prices among the administration, oil companies, and Iran -- though Republicans
are much more likely to blame Obama.
Obama: "I don't bluff"
In an interview with the Atlantic's Jeffrey
Goldberg on Iran ahead of a meeting with Netanyahu, Obama declared that the
United States would consider taking military action to destroy Iran's nuclear
program if economic sanctions fail to compel it to comply with international
inspections, but added that now is not the right time for a preemptive Israeli
strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. "I think that the Israeli government
recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don't bluff," he noted.
"I also don't, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly
what our intentions are." On Twitter, former Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann shot back:
"Obama doesn't ‘go around advertising exactly what our [foreign policy]
intentions are?' What about
As he launches his reelection
campaign, Obama has been trumpeting foreign policy successes such as ending the
war in Iraq and killing Osama bin Laden. While "the other side
traditionally seems to feel that the Democrats are somehow weak on defense," he
supporters, "they're having a little trouble making that argument this year" (a
poll last month
found that voters trust Obama more than Romney to handle international
affairs). Yet Bloomberg's Terry Atlas points out that, in an
election dominated by economic concerns, "foreign policy barely registers as an issue in
public opinion polls," though an "arc of crises from Libya to Afghanistan" may
yet change all that.
Read what George W. Bush
advisors Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie have to say on the matter in the latest issue of Foreign Policy -- and a spirited rebuttal by Democratic pollsters Stanley Greenberg and Jeremy Rosner.
Apologizing in Afghanistan
The Republican candidates
have long accused
Obama of apologizing for America's actions abroad, and this week the refrain
came in the context of the president apologizing to Afghans for the burning of Qurans
at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan even as U.S. soldiers were killed in
retaliation. Gingrich called the
apology "astonishing" and suggested
that the United States tell Afghans, "You're going to have to figure out how to
live your own miserable life." Santorum accused
Obama of "weakness" while Romney also criticized
In a larger piece about the
Republicans and Afghanistan, Dominic Tierney at the Atlantic argues that the Republican Party is deeply divided
about Afghanistan. The fundamental question facing the GOP, he writes, is
whether the "end of defeating radical Islam [is] worth the means of big
Santorum's ‘snob' snafu
Santorum stirred controversy
this week by suggesting that Obama was a "snob" for wanting "everybody in
America to go to college." Obama "wants to remake you in his image," the former
Pennsylvania senator argued. "I want to create jobs so people can remake their
children into their image, not his." Santorum appeared to subsequently
backtrack from the comments, noting in his
Michigan concession speech that his mother was an "unusual person for her time"
by getting a college education in the 1930s, but the comment nevertheless
touched off a debate about U.S. education. News outlets pointed out that Obama
also supports the type of vocational training that Santorum champions, and that
the former Pennsylvania senator backed increasing
grants for college students during his reelection campaign in 2006.
What to watch for
All eyes now turn to Super
Tuesday on March 6, when ten states will vote and more than 400 delegates will
be up for grabs. The biggest battleground is the delegate-rich swing state of
Ohio, where Romney has steadily been cutting into
Santorum's lead. "For Romney," the Washington
Post's Chris Cillizza notes, "it's uniquely possible that winning the
Buckeye State on Tuesday would effectively clinch the presidential nomination
The latest from FP
and Ed Gillespie offer a
primer to the GOP candidates on how to beat Barack Obama on foreign policy.
and Stanley Greenberg respond by
pointing out that Americans have confidence in Obama as commander in chief.
Rove and Gillespie are "stuck in a 9/12 mindset."
Reza Aslan presents readers with a quiz: Who
said it, Rick Santorum or Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei?
Gal Luft wonders whether Obama will remake himself into a war president when faced
with a choice between high gas prices and a nuclear Iran.
Michael Levi argues that Obama's record on energy is stronger than his Republican
Vaclav Smil explains why Mitt Romney is right to
focus on the importance of Canadian energy.
that while Americans may not like North Korea, few want to go to war over its
Chow makes the
case for why a President Santorum would be great news for the AIDS fight in
Susan Glasser connects the dots on the nasty rhetoric in the U.S. and Russian elections.
Daniel Drezner maintains that Santorum's views on manufacturing are antiquated.
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