Gingrich picks up steam in Florida

Coming off a big victory in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich is riding the momentum into Florida. A week ago, polls out of the Sunshine State indicated that Mitt Romney was the runaway favorite, leading by as much as 26 points in mid-month. That has dramatically changed as the “inevitability” of Romney winning the nomination has come into doubt.

The latest two polls out of Florida show Gingrich up, but to give you an idea of the swings in this race, below are the numbers out of the state from Rasmussen, including the poll released yesterday. See if you can follow along as we view the fickle nature of the conservative movement.

Poll Romney Gingrich Santorum Paul Perry
1/22 32% 41% 11% 8%
1/11 41% 19% 15% 9% 2%
11/8 24% 19% 1% 3% 4%

Rasmussen didn’t poll during the big jump in Gingrich’s number in December, but CNN, SurveyUSA, and NBC News polls all showed him eclipsing 40%. But you can see it in the Rasmussen numbers, Gingrich has seen a 22 point swing in 11 days. And Romney has seen his 22 point advantage turn into a 9 point deficit.

Why Newt Gingrich is likely to be the GOP nominee?

The emergence of Newt Gingrich as frontrunner for the Republican nomination is without doubt very odd. Many pundits thought that Gingrich’s campaign dead in the water after making some incredibly dumb comments about Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan. We were all wrong, apparently.

It’s not like the conservative base has embraced Gingrich. After all, Herman Cain excited the base at the beginning of the race. But that eventually moved to Michele Bachmann, who had her brief time in the limelight and won the Ames Straw Poll in mid-August. But after Rick Perry jumped in the race, Bachmann became a distant memory. After Perry proved himself to be an incapable debator and gaffe-prone, where did the support go? Not Gingrich, but back to the inexperienced and unproven Cain.

But now with Cain tapering off again, it’s Gingrich — not Rick Santorum or Ron Paul — who is reaping the benefits. Why? As I noted recently, it’s because GOP voters remember him and respect him as a some sort of intellectual conservative (laughable, I know, given all the statist policies he’s supported).

The reason conservatives aren’t flocking to Paul are sort of obvious, though I don’t expect his average supporter to grasp them. Paul isn’t a neo-conservative, so he doesn’t appeal to warmongers defense-minded GOP voters. While he is personally opposed to gay marriage, he is also a defender of the Tenth Amendment and opposes the Federal Marriage Amendment. And let’s face it, he doesn’t come off as that great of a debator. Sure, his ideas are sound on paper and in practice, I believe. But when it comes articulating them, he just isn’t that great.

Is drug testing welfare applicants a good idea?

A federal judge has recently blocked Florida’s new program to test welfare recipients for drugs:

Judge Mary Scriven’s ruling is in response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of a 35-year-old Navy veteran and single father who sought the benefits while finishing his college degree, but refused to take the test.

The judge said there was a good chance plaintiff Luis Lebron would succeed in his challenge to the law based on the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches. The drug test can reveal a host of private medical facts about the individual, Scriven wrote, adding that she found it “troubling” that the drug tests are not kept confidential like medical records. The results can also be shared with law enforcement officers and a drug abuse hotline.

“This potential interception of positive drug tests by law enforcement implicates a `far more substantial’ invasion of privacy than in ordinary civil drug testing cases,” Scriven said.

While allowing extensive access to medical records is certainly questionable and poses a privacy risk to patients, I see no inherent constitutional issue with requiring a drug test for voluntary welfare benefits. The intent is certainly honorable; we want to ensure that taxpayer funded welfare checks are not being used for recreation. The practice is popular among conservatives and tea party folk alike, but it distracts from the much larger issues and instead seeks to implement a solution on a subordinate level.

Philadelphia: Rights come in at second place

The City of Brotherly Love may want to rethink their nickname when they get a chance. How about the City of Statist Tyranny. Doesn’t that have a nice ring? Why, you may ask? Because the City has arrested at least eight people over the last two years who’s only “crime” was to carry a legal firearm. That’s it.

Apparently, due to a quirk in local law, Philadelphia residents will get Florida gun licenses since the out of state license allows them to carry in their home state, but is easier to issue. It’s referred to as the “Florida Loophole”. Go Florida!

The “loophole” is unpopular with Philadelphia cops, who say that it allows those denied a permit here or whose permits were revoked to circumvent Philadelphia authorities and obtain it elsewhere.

But proponents say that it’s necessary because Philadelphia has unusually strict criteria for obtaining a concealed-carry permit. Philadelphia, according to police and gun owners, relies heavily on a clause that allows denial of a permit based on “character and reputation” alone.

“Character and reputation”? It sounds like a good idea, since it would prevent someone widely known to be a gangster from carrying his weapon legally. However, what provisions like this do in practice is give gun-grabbing local bureaucrats an out. Something bad has been said about almost anyone. The rumors that I know have been said about me alone would make me question my sanity and ability to responsibly handle a firearm…if any of them were true. Character and reputation are weapons used to disarm most of the population, so that population has attempted to find a way around it. With a Florida license.

Podcast: Immigration, Crist Party Switch, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell On Hold AGAIN, 2010 Elections, Guests: Mike Hassinger & Doug Deal

This week, Jason and Brett speak with Mike Hassinger & Doug Deal, both far too infrequent contributors here at United Liberty.

The discussion covers these news stories from last week:

I Support A College Football Playoff — But Not This Way

Being a diehard Crimson Tide fan— and believing we deserve a chance at the national title as much as Oklahoma, Florida, or Texas— I can surely relate to (R-TX) Rep. Joe Barton’s disillusionment with the current BCS system. He is right- we need a playoff to determine the National Champion for Division 1-A college football. Personally I prefer an 8 team playoff that integrates the existing bowl traditions, while still finding annual closure to each season. But the difference between myself and Rep. Barton is that he is using his position of power to introduce a bill that would push the NCAA to end the current system and introduce a playoff system.  I argue that he does not and should not have the authority to use the legislative process to accomplish this worthy goal.

There’s at least one Democrat who wants Barack Obama to help out his campaign, and here’s why he may regret it

Charlie Crist is bucking the trend. While most Democrats running competitive races in purple and red states don’t want to come anywhere near President Barack Obama and his administration, Crist, who is running for governor of Florida as a Democrat, isn’t exactly shying away:

While some high-profile Democrats are distancing themselves from President Obama on the campaign trial, Florida gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Crist isn’t one of them.

When asked Tuesday if would welcome the president’s campaign help, Crist responded, “I hope so,” the Tampa Bay Times reported.

“I hope everybody does,” said the Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat.

It’s almost like Crist hasn’t learned from that ill-advised hug he gave President Obama in 2009 when the commander-in-chief visited Florida to promote the stimulus bill. Crist was a Republican governor at the time who was also seeking the state’s open Senate seat.

The hug Crist shared with President Obama as well as his general squishiness on issues turned out to be a boon for Marco Rubio. Crist left the Republican Party and became an independent, though one seeking Democrat support. Rubio won the race. Crist decided that he’d give electoral politics another go, this time as a full-fledged Democrat.

Southern conservatives are embracing liberty, and Republicans must take note

Libertarian Republican Rand Paul

For decades, Republicans have relied heavily on the “Solid South” as a voting bloc for Congressional and Presidential candidates. But a trend among disaffected conservatives may force Southern Republicans to embrace the ideals of liberty… and that’s not a bad thing at all.

While libertarian-leaning Republicans like Senator Rand Paul are making sincere efforts to reach out to new voters in an effort to grow the GOP, it’s important that Republicans don’t write-off their previously reliable conservative allies in Southern states. As it turns out, it seems many of the same issues Senator Paul and other liberty-minded Republicans are talking about might also shore up disaffected conservatives who are looking for electoral alternatives.

Writing at The Daily Beast, Patricia Murphy notes the rise in Libertarian Party candidates in Southern states like Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina. From the piece:

None of the three Libertarians is favored to win his races, but with significant shifts afoot on opposition to federal spending, NSA spying, and restrictions on medical marijuana, and a growing acceptance of gay marriage, the Libertarians are increasingly likely to affect the outcome of their races…

[One previous LP candidate] said the issues people are gravitating toward [a current LP candidate] on, in addition to medical marijuana, are the economy, unemployment, and civil liberties. “They’re all huge issues that have wide appeal and even more so than they have had in the past.”

FL-26: Democratic PAC runs another ad criticizing Obamacare

Joe Garcia

The Democrat-affiliated House Majority PAC is running an ad in a competitive Florida congressional district that both criticizes Obamacare and distances Rep. Joe Garcia (D-FL) from both President Obama and the botched rollout of the law.

“Joe Garcia is working to fix Obamacare. He voted to let you keep your existing health plan and took the White House to task for the disastrous healthcare website,” says the narrator. “And Joe Garcia fought to hold the insurance companies accountable so they can’t deny coverage for preexisting conditions or drop coverage when you get sick.”

3.5 million insurance policies canceled in just 22 states

Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle

The Associated Press (AP) reported recently that 3.5 million health insurance policies had been canceled because of changes in the plans that resulted in the loss of their “grandfathered” status under Obamacare regulations.

But a separate report from the news organization, released last week, indicates that this is just the minimum number as most states aren’t keeping track of the cancelations or the numbers weren’t available. This report, complied by AP staffers, shows that the 3.5 million cancellations have come from just 22 states and the District of Columbia.

The “grandfathered plan” regulations written by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Department of Health and Human are very strict. Most people don’t realize that the vast majority of insurance plans go through some sort of change over time. But virtually any change a pre-Obamacare plan, either by the insurer or consumer, means that the policy can no longer exist and the consumer would have purchase one compliant with law’s mandates.

Even plans with grandfathered status would eventually have to comply with at least some of the mandates. But despite President Obama and his subordinates blaming insurance companies for the cancellations, these rules — written by bureaucrats in his administration — are entirely responsible.

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