As local newspapers back Ron Paul – is he going to be the big winner in New Hampshire?

Ron Paul's close third place has been largely over looked in the post-Iowa assessment of Rick Santorum - will he be next week's big winner?

Every West Wing fan will tell you that as sure as day follows night New Hampshire follows the Iowa Caucus. It is the touchstone of the US primaries and has levelled many a senior politician in the past.

So following the narrowest of wins in Iowa for Mitt Romney over the surprising runner-up, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul’s 21% has been largely forgotten in the post-Iowa scrutiny that has been aimed at Santorum.

Ron Paul has been a well-known member of Congress since the mid-1970s and has been subject to a great deal of media scrutiny. This, combined with the backing of three local newspapers in New Hampshire, may mean that he becomes the anyone but Romney candidate following the contest in New Hampshire on January 10th. With the polls showing a bump in support for both Paul and Santorum ahead of next week’s primary it is going to be a close contest to see who becomes the main anti-Romney candidate ahead of the more conservative Southern states.


No recount when the result is within 8 votes! We could easily have woken up to winner Santorum…

With just 8 votes in it our TVs could easily have been telling us that Rick Santorum was now the frontrunner

As the US presidential campaign continues to roll into progress in the minds of the political classes in Britain it has been well underway in the States for months. Possibly the most surprising aspect of the results from the Iowa Caucus last night is not that Rick Santorum came a close second, though he has spent a lot of time and money in Iowa over the past few months, it’s the fact that he wasn’t allowed to ask for a recount despite being within just 8 votes of winning.

It’s astonishing that winning 30,015 to 30,007 doesn’t strike the Republican Party that this might be within the margin of error for counting 120,000 votes.

As the Washington Post explains GOP officials see the count and as such they are verified by campaign officials from all the candidates, but even so a margin of 8 votes between two candidates polling over 60,000 votes between them would see a number of recounts in Britain with a genuine possibility of the result changing.

It’s entirely possible that instead of waking up to discover that Mitt Romney had won by a narrow margin this morning, maintaining (just) his front-runner status we would be waking up to the surprise news that Rick Santorum had achieved a shock success in the polls and was now the man to beat.

But this is not a public vote and the need to achieve party consensus in what is clearly a tricky contest for the Republicans to manage, over the future of the soul of their party, perhaps doesn’t need to be thrown into Floridian style chaos quite this early.

David Miliband’s familiar approach to foreign affairs might pay dividends

David Miliband has brought a new 'continental' approach to British foreign policy which might indicate an awareness of a recent power shift

I was impressed to see David Miliband’s continental embrace with French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner the other day and couldn’t help be impressed by this more continental attitude towards foreign affairs. I just don’t think it would have worked for Jack Straw or Robin Cook, and I make no comment about Margaret Beckett!

This might be a personal approach from our young foreign secretary but it might also be an intended strategy on the part of a foreign secretary who knows there are lots of bridges to be mended in foreign affairs. Britain’s apparent subservience to US foreign policy under the Bush Presidency lost Britain a lot of international friends following the apparent abandonment of Robin Cook’s ‘ethical foreign policy.’

Not a day seems to pass without Hillary Clinton commenting on his vibrancy or a personal embrace with the French foreign minister.

So, why would the FCO have gone all European? With the changes in the Lisbon Treaty the European Pillar of defence and foreign affairs will have far more prominence on the world stage and the British Foreign Secretary will have an increasingly important, and potentially difficult, job of maintaining the trans-Atlantic alliance with the United States and the emerging common foreign policy in the EU. 

A militarily pro-active United States might well have less support from a more organised EU than it did from the less formal arrangement of NATO’s means of deployment.

This is presumably where the UK’s Foreign Office will feel it has a role to play and the unquestionably popular British Foreign Secretary will feel he can help to keep the two parties together and maintain the all-important special relationship whilst becoming a bigger player in European foreign policy decision-making.

Sarah Palin’s victory speech would have inaugurated the first ever ‘Second Dude’!


Sarah Palin's Victory and Concession speeches make interesting reading!

During all the shenanigans that went on the night of election, where John McCain’s team ‘literally turned the lights out’ on Sarah Palin, to prevent from making an off message speech in Arizona, Sarah was all geared up to make a concession speech that might have actually made her look a little more coherent in the eyes of the voters.

When she was selected, for at least a day or two, Palin as a running mate seemed to be a master stroke on the part of the Republicans, stealing all the credibility that the Democrats had earned through the candidature of Hillary Clinton.

But, within days Palin was apparently subjected to learning from flash cards about such fundamental information, as “The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom – Gordon Brown”!

Here are Sarah’s concession and victory speeches to give you an idea that actually she might have come out better, or not, if she had been able to get to the podium without McCain officials tripping her up on the way. More can be found in the Telegraph here.

Concession speech:

“And when a black citizen prepares to fill the office of Washington and Lincoln, that is a shining moment in our history that can be lost on no one. Barack Obama has achieved a great thing, for himself and for our country, and I congratulate him.

“It would be a happier night if elections were a test of valour and merit alone, but that is not for us to question now.

“Now it is time for us go our way, neither bitter nor vanquished, but instead confident in the knowledge that there will be another day.”

Victory Speech

“And I said to my husband Todd that it’s not a step down when he’s no longer Alaska’s ‘First Dude’. He will now be the first guy ever to become the ‘Second Dude’.

“Had it gone the other way tonight, we would not have returned in sorrow to the great State of Alaska. We would have carried with us memories that are forever, and joyful experiences that do not depend on victory.

“This is a moment when principles and political independence matter a lot more than just the party line.”

The Guide for Canvassers – Lesson 4 – Appear Local

One of the most important things to remember when campaigning is to appear local!

Door-to-door campaigning can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of campaigning, especially when you aren’t the candidate.

A friend and I went campaigning in an important election in autumn of 2004. It may not be as fashionable as campaigning for Barack Obama, but we flew out to campaign for John Kerry and John Edwards in the 2004 Presidential election in the United States.

We called the Democratic National Committee in Washington to tell them that we would be in town and asked where we could most usefully deploy ourselves.

We were asked to report to Lancaster City, in Pennsylvania, so we duly did.

The local members seemed a little uncertain quite what to do with a pair of Brits but we were promptly sent canvassing around a very nice suburb, which was described as Republican-leaning in the important swing state.

We began knocking on doors and were having moderate success when a man answered his door. I should add I was dressed well, as American politicians do.  He looked at me as I asked who he thought he would support.

His jaw gradually dropped as I clearly came across as being un-American, he retreated slightly and turned to call his wife.

‘Honey, the British are coming!’  Thankfully they were Democrats.