Capitol View Commentary : Friday, September 30, 2011

Capitol View Commentary : Friday, September 30, 2011

CREATED Sep 30, 2011


By Pat Nolan, Senior Vice-President, DVL Public Relations & Advertising

September 30, 2011



Ever since the contest began earlier this year, the Republican race for its 2012 Presidential nomination has reminded me of high school students trying to get the best date for the senior prom. Nobody wants to really commit to a candidate (prom date) because somebody better might come along.

So the front runner in the field has gone from Mitt Romney to (very briefly) Michelle Bachman, to late entry Rick Perry, and now it could go to an even later entry to the field, Chris Christie, if he decides to get into the race (although I remain doubtful he will get in).

Even Atlanta businessman Herman Cain is now getting his 15 minutes of fame having upset both Romney and Perry last weekend in winning the Florida straw poll. So what, it's just a straw poll, right? True, but it's a straw poll that the last several GOP nominees have always won in their march to the nomination. Cain is getting something of second look now because of his Florida win. He's even a guest this past week on THE TONIGHT SHOW with Jay Leno. Such an appearance always represents a breakthrough for a presidential candidate (although I can't help but point out we had Cain first on INSIDE POLITICS a few weeks ago).

Meantime it appears that outside of Romney and Perry among the declared candidates, only Ron Paul will have the funds to compete nationally. It leaves the others still in the race, such as Jon Huntsman, trying to figure out how to survive. Huntsman appears to be trying a John McCain. Four years ago, the 2008 GOP nominee was also having trouble raising money, seemingly disorganized and left for politically dead. But by concentrating on New Hampshire, he won that primary and rallied from there to win in Florida and on to the GOP convention where he won the nomination.

While Huntsman is hardly the maverick that folks in New Hampshire always found so appealing about McCain, this presidential election cycle has already seen some strange things happen, so who knows?

Another repeat from four years ago is the State of Florida breaking party rules (announced today) by deciding to move up its primary to January 31. That will cause the other early states (protected by party rules to go first) Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina to move their contests up earlier on the calendar. In fact, in some of these states, there is a law requiring the primary or caucus to be moved up if another state decides to move ahead of them.

That's going to make it even tougher for potential late entries such as Christie and Sarah Palin to raise money and get their message out in time if they decide to run (and that may be one reason is this tactic is being employed again this cycle). Another reason Florida is moving ahead is the strong desire seen in many states to play a real role in the nominating process, not just wait to pick through the leftovers after the early states have made their choices. It's understandable. Letting these four early states (which demographically do not resemble the entire country) have such a powerful voice every cycle in this presidential nominating choice doesn't make a lot of sense, really.

The party rules also don't really discourage states from trying to jump in line. Losing half your delegates might sound tough, but usually by the convention (when the nominee is clearly known), it is not a big problem. And threats to banish delegates to the worst hotels for the convention are even more laughable for 2012 since the convention is being held in the state of Florida. It's a joke.


While it remains unclear just how big a role Tennessee will play in selecting the GOP nominee for 2012, the state is pretty popular for fund raising.

Rick Perry was the latest candidate to hold a fundraiser here (Knoxville) following Michelle Bachman. She was in the Nashville area (Brentwood) last week collecting campaign checks. Mitt Romney has been in the state a couple of times to collect funds. And that's the real reason why Herman Cain came here too (not just to be on INSIDE POLITICS).  Given his Tennessee ties through political guru Tom Ingram, I suspect Jon Huntsman has gotten some money from Tennessee as well.

What was perhaps most interesting this past week about a presidential candidate showing interest in Tennessee was President Barack Obama inviting NewsChannel5's Senior Anchor Vickie Yates and NewsChannel5 News Director Sandy Boonstra to the White House for an exclusive 7-minute interview the station will air beginning Monday (October 3).

I can't wait to hear what he has to say. The President has been almost MIA in Tennessee. His only appearance here in nearly 3 years in office was a brief commencement address at a Memphis high school. Even as a candidate he wasn't here much at all. There was a brief meeting with one of his top supporters, Nashville Congressman Jim Cooper early on in the race. Then, as the nominee, he came to Belmont University in Nashville for one of the presidential debates. Otherwise he's been several foreign countries more often than he's been to the Volunteer State. But you really can't blame him. He lost handily to John McCain here and his prospects don't look much better for next year either.

That's another intriguing aspect to the White House asking for this interview. Perhaps it is just an effort to stump for his jobs bill in states other than those considered battleground areas for 2012. Direct outreaches to the local media are also a way many Presidents have used to get their message out to voters without going through the filter of the national media.

Kudos to NewsChannel5 for landing this exclusive interview with the President! I am honored I was asked for some input about what questions to ask.  



Metro government has barely taken over in providing services to the former satellite city of Lakewood and already it's costing taxpayers big money.

According to THE CITY PAPER (September 29) it seems the former officials of Lakewood dissolved with $450,000 uncollected in outstanding traffic tickets and related court costs.

Metro Councilman Darren Jernigan told THE CITY PAPER, "It's a huge mess" and he‘s right. So much so, that some drivers who haven't paid what they owe (including those from outside Lakewood and Davidson County) may have had their driver's licenses suspended by the state. And they may not know it until the next time they get pulled over or someone runs a records check on them.

Metro has the authority to collect the funds owed to Lakewood, but it appears the new Metro Council (at its first business meeting on Tuesday, October 4) will be asked to pass a resolution forgiving the fines and court costs with Metro moving on.

No wonder the voters in Lakewood last March were ready to dissolve their satellite city leadership who obviously moved on without completing their duties. That's something which will cost Metro taxpayers almost a half million dollars before any city services are provided in that part of Davidson County.   


Nashville legend John Seigenthaler is my guest on INSIDE POLITICS this week. Anytime we can get someone on the show with John's wisdom and insights into government, politics and journalism, we are honored to do so. We discuss current national and state politics among other topics and I think you will find John's comments very enlightening as usual.

You can watch INSIDE POLITICS several times each weekend on THE NEWSCHANNEL5 NETWORK. That includes Sunday morning at 5:00 a.m. on the main channel, WTVF-TV, Channel 5.  You can also see us on NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS, including 7:00 p.m. Friday night; 5:00 & 5:30 p.m., Saturday; and 5:00 a.m. 7 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

THE PLUS airs on Comcast Cable channel 250, Charter Cable channel 150 and Channel 5's 5.2 over-the-air digital channel 5.2.

If you live outside Nashville or don't have cable service, this and previous INSIDE POLITICS shows can also be found here at newschannel5.com.