Mitt Romney Forms Exploratory Committee

Long expected, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney announced that he was forming an exploratory committee in anticipation of this his second run for the presidency. In 2008, he finished third behind Senator John McCain and Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee or as Mittens prefer to think of it, he got the bronze.

Romney announced his move on Twitter and put up the above video on YouTube. In the video, he extolled his private sector experience and lambasted President Obama's policies.

“He and virtually all the people around him have never worked in the real economy,” Romney said in the message. “They just don’t know how jobs are created in the private sector. That’s where I spent my entire career.”

Among Republican primary voters, polls frequently show Romney in the number one or number two spot. A NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last week gave Romney the lead with 21 percent support, followed by the ever weirder Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee, who each garnered 17 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich got 11 percent and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin received 10 percent.

More from ABC's The Note.

Pray for Mittens

As this enormous yawn that was September draws to a close—anybody catch that God-awful season premiere of The Office?—it has become nearly impossible to deny the teabaggers are on the cusp on something big in the November elections. Despite their public protestations to the opposite effect, I am quite certain the apparatchiks in the White House (i.e. the ones that haven’t already saluted the president before pole-vaulting to freedom), the courtiers in the speaker’s office, and the logo designers at the Democratic National Committee have already procured their spirits and Bicycle playing cards for the long night that awaits them on November 2.

For those of us who inhabit the out crowd—they have so many names: we’re everything but children of God—we must continue to lead the way whether the Democratic establishment appreciates it or not. In terms of electoral politics, 2010 is a lost cause and 2012 is the most relevant consideration—specifically the two people most likely to challenge our hopefully post-Obama nominee: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor.

Let’s do Sarahcuda first. While I was never convinced Sarah Palin hurt John McCain’s electoral prospects in the final analysis, I do believe the erratic, poorly-considered decision spoke to McCain’s lack of judgment which is an entirely different matter. (Barack Obama was always most fortunate in the opponents he faced.) Having established that, I have always maintained that Sarah Palin is essentially Barack Obama without the benefit of an Ivy League pedigree, a reasonably high IQ, and more talented ghostwriters. They possess the same sort of charisma—markedly different from recent smooth operators like Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan. These were self-effacing politicians who were sharp on their feet and could genuinely make you crack up. Dick Morris says he faced a recurring challenge in that Bubba was far more impressive extemporaneously than on the script. In those tumultuous 80s, Reagan’s foremost task was to spout killer witticisms in East Room press conferences while his minions ran wild. While W. had the ridiculous bit of business on the deck of that aircraft carrier, he also had the Bullhorn Speech under his Texas belt. Whatever one’s opinion of his miserable policies, incompetence, and larger stupidity, the Bullhorn Speech was an iconic moment in presidential rhetoric.  

Sarah Palin and Barack Obama are charismatic only because of the attractive exuberance they possess. Their cults of personality are products of modern identity politics. These are tabula rasas whose appeal transcend the normal workings of Politics for the cultural niches they represent. She is the hot, fecund Christian warrior woman; he the postracial black man on a fascinating journey of self-discovery.

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Quick Hits

Some other items making the rounds today.

The Iowa Republican polled 399 likely Iowa Republican voters on their preference come 2012. Former Arkansas Governor and current Fox News talk show host Mike Huckabee finished on top garnering 22 percent while former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney finished second with 18 percent. Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House from Georgia, finished "surprisingly well" in their view with 14 percent in third place. Sarah Palin finished fourth with 11 percent. Texas Congressman Ron Paul garnered 5 percent, while Pawlenty, and South Dakota Senator John Thune each received 1 percent. Former US Senator Rick Santorum garnered support in the poll but it did not surpass the one percent threshold. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and Texas Governor Rick Perry did not register any support in the poll. Twenty three percent of those surveyed remain undecided.

Not mentioned above is Gary Johnson, the former New Mexico Governor, much to the chagrin of Andrew Sullivan who today has a post on the libertarian-minded Johnson entitled A Man Who Deserves to be Viable in 2012.

Down in the Palmetto State, Alvin Green said he is not quitting the race even after his indictment on a felony charge of obscenity. The Chair of the Democratic Party in South Carolina, Carol Fowler, issued a statement calling for Greene to resign from the race.

A panel of three judges from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has granted a stay preventing the resumption of gay marriages in California until at least the end of the year. The Ninth Circuit panel - Judges Edward Leavy, Michael Hawkins and Sidney Thomas - also expedited the case's appeal. During the week of Dec. 6, a separate, randomly selected panel of the Ninth Circuit will take up the request by Prop. 8 proponents to throw out Walker's ruling. More from the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Obama Administration is planning to expand opportunities for Americans to travel to Cuba, the latest step aimed at encouraging more contact between people in both countries, while leaving intact the decades-old embargo against the island’s Communist government, according to Congressional and administration officials. The New York Times has more on the story. This move is not likely to please many. On the right, any reapprochement with Cuba is too much. On the left as long as the embargo remains in place, it is just window dressing. Moreover, the US has no leverage to speak of. It is now Spain and Brazil that have been able to extract concessions from Cuba. In July, the Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos secured the release of 52 political dissendents held in Cuban prisons.

Lugar rips Romney over nuclear weapons

As you may have heard by now, Mitt Romney wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post this week about the New START treaty rivaling only Sarah Palin for sheer incompetence. Fred Kaplan, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the US-Soviet arms race, called it “shabby, misleading and—let's not mince words—thoroughly ignorant.” I highly recommend Kaplan’s article at Slate, which points out the factual flaws in nearly every single line of the piece.

What’s particularly remarkable, however, is that it’s not just experts like Kaplan taking on Romney – it’s his own party. Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee, wrote an equally devastating critique not as an op-ed or blog post but as an unsolicited 782-word statement from his own office. "Governor Mitt Romney's hyperbolic attack on the New START Treaty in the July 6 edition of The Washington Post repeats discredited objections and appears unaware of arms control history and context." The full statement is below the jump.

Lugar and Kaplan both point out many of the same errors in Romney’s screed. Romney is deeply offended by a non-binding preamble that will have no affect on policy whatsoever, claims that Russia will control our arms while ignoring that the provisions in question cut both ways, screams bloody murder that we are now unable to harm our own national security by converting ICBM silos to defense against our military’s wishes, claims Russia will harm us by exploiting a loophole with weapons they don’t actually have, and says another loophole will allow Russia to hide missiles on bombers even though a) we have more bombers and b) as Kaplan points out, they’re “bombers,” not “missilers.”

I would also point out that Ronald Reagan said on multiple occasions that we need to reduce our nuclear stockpile with the ultimate goal of its elimination. The man who conservatives like to pretend single-handedly won the Cold War. This is one time when they should actually listen to him on national security.

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Palin's Iowa endorsement could hurt her in 2012

If Sarah Palin runs for president in 2012, she will regret endorsing former four-term Governor Terry Branstad yesterday in the Iowa Republican primary for governor.

First thoughts on how this will play out are after the jump.

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Diaries

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