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Riding the Tiger > Category: 2012 Election

Riding The Tiger

“I discovered that being a President is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding or be swallowed.” Harry S. Truman

Devaluing the Dollar: the Legacy of the End of Bretton Woods

A dollar under the gold standard

A gold standard 1928 US dollar bill. Note it is identified as a “United States Note” rather than a Federal Reserve Note.

On this day in 1972, President Richard Nixon officially closed the gold window, eliminating the ability of dollar holders to convert the US currency into gold. What effect does this have on the US economy today? 

Romancing the Right: Romney and Reagan’s Similar Struggles Winning Over the GOP Base

Reagan speaking at the Baptist Convention in DC in 1984

President Reagan delivers the keynote at the “Baptist Fundamentalism ‘84” convention led by Jerry Falwell.

Today we welcome a post from John W. York, a graduate student at the University of Virginia studying American Politics. His recent work has focused on the Tea Party and its effects on the conservative movement.

With Mitt Romney’s nomination for the Republican presidential ticket all but assured, the question remains: will conservatives ever truly warm up to him?

Behind the Scenes When Reagan Was Shot: A Pre-Forum Chat with Wilber

Interview with Del Quentin Wilber

As we mentioned this morning, on this day in 1981, President Reagan was shot.

John Hinckley Jr. shot at President Reagan outside the Washington Hilton Hotel, wounding the president, press secretary James Brady, a Secret Service agent, and a police officer. Since the incident, few have realized how near to death Ronald Reagan actually came, and no one has ever written in detail about the tragic day…until now. In his New York Times best-selling book Rawhide Down, Del Quentin Wilber reveals an

electrifying story of a moment when the nation faced a terrifying crisis that it had experienced less than twenty years before, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

I had the chance to talk with Wilber about what he uncovered while writing Rawhide Down.

To learn more, be sure to tune in for Wilber’s Forum on Monday, April 2 at 11AM. If you can’t make the trip to Charlottesville, you can watch the webcast live at and ask questions on the Miller Center’s Facebook page and via Twitter using hashtag #MCForum.

Obamacare at the High Court: A Self-Inflicted Wound for the Supremes?

President-elect Obama and Chief Justice Roberts in 2009

President-elect Obama visits the Supreme Court as Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. looks on in January 2009.

When the Supreme Court hears the health care case beginning today, it steps into the political thicket, and it does so at its own peril. 

Kranish Speaks on The Real Romney

Interview with Michael Kranish

Today at the Miller Center at 11:00AM, author Michael Kranish will speak about his book The Real Romney. A Boston Globe investigative reporter, Kranish was able to get the the "real" backstory on the former Massachusetts governor.  From the amazon description:

The book explores Romney’s personal life, his bond with his wife and how they handled her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, and his difficult years as a Mormon missionary in France, where a fatal car crash had a profound effect on his path. It also illuminates Romney’s privileged upbringing in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; his rejection of the 1960s protest culture; and his close but complicated relationship with his father.

I had the chance to sit down with Kranish to chat about what he learned of Romney through the process of writing the book. Check out the clip to hear what he had to say.

To hear much more, be sure to tune in to Kranish's forum at 11AM. You can watch live at and submit your own questions for Kranish via Facebook and on Twitter using hashtag #MCForum.


Santorum Wins Louisiana Primary

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum at the Values Voter Summit in Washington D.C. on October 7, 2011. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Rick Santorum's definitive win in the Louisiana primary on Saturday shows that the race to become the republican candidate for president is not yet over. Santorum won 49% of the vote; Mitt Romney came in second with 27%; Newt Gingrich was third with 16%; and Ron Paul received 6%.

Though his win in the conservative Southern state was Santorum's best showing date, it does little to change the overall delegate count, in which he trails Romney by a signficant margin. It does give Santorum some momentum going into the next contests in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, which he must win to keep Romney from taking the nomination.

Super PACs: Shedding the Bad Rap

Endorsement of McCain-Feingold

John McCain and Russ Feingold join Tim Roemer, Jim Greenwood, and Ellen Tauscher to endorse the McCain-Feingold legislation.

Today's guest post is from Ray La Raja, Associate Professor of Political Science at the Univesity of Massachusetts Amherst.

Emily Charnock provides a very insightful post that reveals strong similarities between Super PACs and the various independently organized committees throughout the twentieth century.  In other words, we have been here before.

Political reformers concerned about the role of money in politics should rightfully be concerned about how wealth translates into political power.  Reformers, however, typically assume there is "too much money" when, in fact, it could easily be argued that there is too little, particularly if we consider the costs of informing and mobilizing voters.

Romney Wins Decisive Victory in Illinois

Mitt Romney at his headquarters in Boston in early March

Mitt Romney at the Romney headquarters in Boston, MA, in early March. (Sarah Mongeau-Birkett/BU News Service)

Mitt Romney won his third major contest in a row yesterday, boosting the argument that he is the rightful heir to the republican candidacy for president. Romney captured 47 percent of the vote, while Rick Santorum trailed with 35 percent, Ron Paul with 9 percent, and Newt Gingrich with 8 percent.
The win in Illinois is the latest in a string of victories for Romney in big industrial Midwestern and Northern states with large urban centers, and marks him as the likely favorite to accumulate enough convention delegates to secure the nomination. 

Romney Wins Puerto Rico, Delegates Elected in Missouri

In the weekend contests, Mitt Romney won handily in Puerto Rico's presidential primary, while no official winner was declared in the Missouri Caucus. 

Romney took an overwhelming 83 percent of the vote in Puerto Rico, while Rick Santorum claimed 8 percent. Neither Newt Gingrich nor Ron Paul actively campaigned in the U.S. territory.

In Missouri, local caucuses elected delegates to advance to congressional district and state conventions, where the delegates will be bound to presidential candidates. No straw poll was conducted. However, Rick Santorum won Missouri's non-binding "beauty contest" primary on February 7, and it is a safe to assume that he will fare well at the state convention in April.



“Shadow” Parties and the Origins of Super PACs

Public views of the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision

Public views of the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, by CMBJ (Washington Post), February 2010

“Super PACs” are the enfants terrible of the campaign finance world today. These groups, sporting only slogans for names and raising unlimited contributions to support federal candidates, have been decried as a new and dangerous precedent in election campaigns.

In fact, fifteen years ago this week, the Senate authorized an investigation into fundraising activities in the 1996 elections, which brought similar problems to the fore.

SuperPACs are less creations of the 2010 Citizens United and SpeechNow decisions than they are new incarnations of old problems.

Looking Back on Voting Rights

Excerpt of President Johnson’s Speech on Voting Rights, March 15, 1965

In recent months, many state legislatures have tried to implement voter identification laws, in some cases requiring photo identification for people coming to vote. However, many of these efforts have been thwarted. Last week, the Wisconsin State Journal reported:

"A Dane County judge on Tuesday barred the enforcement of the state photo ID law at polling places during the general election on April 3, calling it an 'extremely broad and largely needless' impairment of the right to vote."

To supporters of these efforts, they are designed to prevent voter fraud. To some observers, however, these efforts harken back to the 1960s, when civil rights activists and everyday citizens protested voting restrictions, especially on African Americans.

Following Win in Kansas, Santorum Takes March 13 Southern Primaries

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum at a rally in New Hampshire.  Photo by Patrick Gensel.

In what is shaping up to be a two man race with no definitive end in sight, Rick Santorum won the GOP primaries in Mississippi and Alabama yesterday, while Mitt Romney claimed victories in the caucuses of Hawaii and American Samoa. Santorum won Alabama with 35% of the vote and Mississippi with 33%. Romney’s wins in the smaller contests of Hawaii and American Samoa were more definitive. He garnered 45% of the vote in Hawaii, and picked up all nine delegates in American Samoa.

Newt Gingrich barely edged out Romney to claim second place in the Deep South contests, giving his campaign a slight boost as the candidates hit the midway point in the presidential primary race.

Last weekend, Romney captured all 18 delegates at caucuses in two other U.S. possessions in the Pacific – Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Ron Paul took the U.S. Virgin Islands. The weekend’s main attraction, the Kansas Caucus, was won handily by Santorum (51%), who was trailed distantly by Romney (20%).

Like Father, Like Son?

George W. Romney campaign poster, 1968

George W. Romney campaign poster, 1968

Today we welcome a guest post from Nicole Hemmerpostdoctoral fellow at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney and former Miller Center National Fellow. A version of this piece originally appeared in the Spectator Australia magazine and on the UK Spectator's Coffee House blog.

After a career as a business executive, a handsome Mormon becomes the Republican governor of a Democratic state, then runs for President. He gets a reputation for flip-flopping and, as a moderate, has an uneasy relationship with the party's conservative base.

It's a pretty specific biography, yet it describes to a tee two men: Mitt Romney, one of the leading contenders for the GOP nomination, and his father George, who sought the same prize in 1968.

U.S. Territories and the Republican Contest

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Photo by Jason P. Heym

On Saturday, three of the five U.S. territories held their caucuses for the Republican nomination. Guam, the Northern Marianas Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands each began their caucus process on March 10, and will be followed by American Samoa on March 13, and Puerto Rico on March 18. Each of these territories will award 9 delegates, except for Puerto Rico which will award 23. And given the length and contested nature of the Republican nomination thus far, these relatively obscure contests are not being taken for granted.

Romney Ahead in Split Contests on Super Tuesday

The results of the Super Tuesday contests were a mixed bag, though former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney emerged the victor in seven of the eleven races. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum won three contests, including North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, while former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich captured the vote in his home state of Georgia.

In the much anticipated Ohio primary, Romney appears to have narrowly defeated Santorum by just one percentage point.

Click "Read More" for full Super Tuesday results.