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21
Newt Gingrich’s ship seems to have landed on the rocks – nationally, the Gallop poll reports, Speaker Gingrich has plummeted from 37% to 26% of the vote and in Iowa the news is even worse: The latest poll shows Newt’s dropped out of first place.
 
With so much bad news piling up Newt let fly and fired a broadside at Mitt Romney, saying Romney’s running a smear campaign ad (click here to see the ad)  and Romney shot back the ad (run by a pro-Romney Pac) wasn’t any of his doing and Newt said Romney’s answer was ‘baloney.’
 
And who’s the new leader in Iowa? Ron Paul.
 

 

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21
He’s fed up with elitist judges, Newt says, so as President he’s just going to ignore their rulings. And what’s more, he adds, as a historian he knows that Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln would agree with him.
 
Of course, the press pounced, immediately, asking, So, if President Newt can ignore court rulings – can President Obama ignore rulings on Obama-care?
 
Jefferson and Lincoln didn’t back Newt up on that one.
 
And even Mike Huckabee admitted Newt’d gone too far this time.
 

 

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21
If you looked at a chart tracking the Republican presidential race, you would see a series of waves rising and falling.
 
First you’d see the Michelle Bachman wave rise and fall. Then the Rick Perry wave – again, rise and fall. Same for Herman Cain.
 
Now Newt Gingrich has been on the rise and, according to some polls, falling.
 
Then there are two steady, almost unwaverintg lines: Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.  But neither one near a majority.
 
What if Gingrich explodes or implodes? Can Perry earn a second look? Does Rick Santorum finally get a first look?
 
Strikingly, a Republican told me he didn’t think a brokered convention would be a bad thing: “Maybe then we could pick a candidate who is both electable and acceptable to the conservatives.”
 
Like who? One name you hear a lot is Jeb Bush.
 
Just what America needs: another Bush. I presume that would mean another war in Iraq and another recession.

 

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20
Let me get this straight.
 
According to Rob Christensen’s story today, Bill Faison ran for Democratic state party chair last year at the request of Governor Perdue.
 
Two possibilities: One, Faison is an ingrate for publicly questioning whether Perdue will or should run for reelection – or, two, Perdue cannily spotted a potential rival and tried to divert him.
 
The next question is: how can Faison win the Democratic nomination for governor if he couldn’t beat David Parker for party chair?
 
Also according to Christensen, Faison is a personal-injury lawyer who “made his fortune in medical malpractice cases” and was hurt in the race for chair by “circulation of the details of a nasty divorce suit brought by his wife.”
 
Said one Democrat: “He sounds like John Edwards without the hair.”
 
 

 

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19
Governor Perdue had to hate reading the N&O this morning.
 
First there’s a front-page story regurgitating her flight problems, with a boost from Democratic scold Joe Sinsheimer. Then Dome quotes a professor from his perch at UVA opining about her tough path to reelection. 
 
This is why Democrats are wringing their hands about her chances next year.

But they should be heartened by her first reelection shot: the fundraising appeal that positions her as the bulwark against the Republican legislature: "You see, the Republicans know that there's only one person standing between them and their agenda for North Carolina. That's Governor Perdue."

I think the message would be stronger, though, if it focused on “the legislature,” not Republicans. “Republicans” sounds partisan. Nobody likes “the legislature.”
 
Voters care a lot more about jobs and schools than the flight flap. So far as campaign finance laws go, all politicians are viewed as equally untrustworthy. And Pat McCrory may get his own day in the dock.
 
Republicans seem to believe the bad economy will deliver the election to them. But polls show that voters don’t blame Obama and the Democrats; they know he inherited the problems. So why would they blame Perdue? And she’s getting aggressive about North Carolina’s job successes.
 
Perdue’s chances are not that bleak.
 

 

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16
A Republican friend says there is only one person who can beat Newt Gingrich now: Newt Gingrich. And he’s perfectly capable of it.
 
Tom Fetzer’s decision to lead Newt’s campaign in North Carolina shows how unhappy conservatives are with one-time frontrunner Mitt Romney.
 
Mitt’s just too moderate. And for some Republicans, too Mormon.
 
It’s hard to imagine Romney ever standing before a jubilant Republican National Convention as the party’s presidential nominee.
 
It’s easy to see Newt there. But it’s also easy to see him blowing up himself and his party’s chances in 2012. He makes Barry Goldwater look teddy-bear lovable.
 
Some polls, including Public Policy Polling, already show Gingrich sliding in Iowa. He just doesn’t wear well. And his history of outlandish statements and unethical – even unhinged – behavior won’t wear well. 
 
If the contest is still unsettled when North Carolina Republicans vote in May, that means four more long months of intense scrutiny for both men – and any other anti-Mitt who rises once Newt falls.
 
I’m loving it.
 

 

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14
In response to a question recently, I blogged that Jim Hunt (1972 Lieutenant Governor’s race) was the last male candidate to defeat a woman in a Democratic primary.
 
Wrong.
 
It was Erskine Bowles, who defeated – among others – Elaine Marshall in 2002.
 
This is courtesy of my friend John Hood with the John Locke Foundation, who writes the second-most interesting daily blog in North Carolina (after this one, of course).
 

 

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13
Recently I took a shot at Rep. Bill Faison for taking a shot at Governor Perdue – one that I thought hurt him as much as her.
 
Today – in an effort to be fair and balanced, as they say on Fox – I rise to praise him.
 
Few figures in North Carolina politics makes as good use of Facebook, Twitter and social media as Faison & Co.
 
He tweets and posts frequently – and substantively. So does Jeannie Bonds in support of him.
 
Governor Perdue’s office, by contrast, lags. I get about one email a week from her – generally a lengthy digest of events that happened days ago.
 
Even an old geezer like me can figure out that what makes online communications click is immediacy – and brevity.
 
In her defense, I suspect her staff is handcuffed by state government’s 19th Century communications systems. Her campaign needs to do better.
 
So there.  Fair and balanced.

 

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12
This is it? This is the best Republicans can do?
 
They’re about to fumble away what should be an open-field run to the White House.
 
Case in point: An NBC/Marist poll this weekend shows President Obama leading both Republicans in South Carolina. I repeat: South Carolina. 
 
Maybe Rob Christensen is right and Republicans are “doing politics right” by not spending so much money. Of course, that’s because Fox News essentially provides a permanent stage for the GOP race.
 
Maybe Mitt and Newt will fight it out so long the race will be decided in the North Carolina primary. That’d be fun, and Democrats would love to see a lot of blood on the floor.
 
But can Romney even get nominated? And can Gingrich get elected?
 
Republicans just can’t stomach Romney. He is a squishy-moderate former Massachusetts Governor. And he looks like a card-carrying, founding member of the 1 Percent Club. Witness his $10,000 bet to Rick Perry. $10,000? That’s what you call a common touch.
 
Plus, the Republican Party is essentially a Southern party. One Republican told me there’s no way Romney wins in the South – not just because he’s moderate, but also because he’s Mormon.
 
“Wait until Southern Republicans realize that Mormons believe divine truth comes from Joseph Smith, not Jesus Christ,” the observer said.
 
And Newt? Romney just changes positions constantly. Newt has a stunning willingness to vehemently denounce the very positions he once took. Then there’s his ego, self-importance and – as Jon Stewart memorably put it – his essential “dickness.”
 
So Mitt can win in November, but can’t win the nomination. Newt can win the nomination, but not in November.
 
Obama may be the luckiest man in American politics.
 

 

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09
There is a big story behind this small item in the paper this week:
 
“North Carolina's public schools have the largest number of National Board Certified teachers in the nation, according to a release by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.” Nationally, there are 97,291 teachers with National Board Certification.  North Carolina has over 18 percent of them, 19,193. Click here for the story.
 
The article noted of national board-certification: “The process is rigorous and voluntary. North Carolina teachers who achieve certification receive a salary supplement of 12 percent.”
 
I can’t help but remind people that national board certification is Jim Hunt’s baby. During the eight years between his two stints as governor, Hunt chaired the national commission that developed the program – bringing together teachers, administrators and business leaders in an effort to upgrade the teaching profession – and teachers’ pay.
 
It was an arduous task that demanded all of Hunt’s patience, diligence and consensus-building. And it’s a story told beautifully in my biography of the Governor, which is still on sale and makes a wonderful Christmas gift. He and I will be glad to inscribe it for you.
 
I must also point out that Appalachian State University, where my daughter is studying to be a teacher, leads the nation in the number of alumni who are National Board Teachers, with 130. ECU is second with 118.
 
Just a small reminder that, for all its problems, politics can change lives for the better.
 

 

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