WHAT'S THE IDEA?
Much in the same way that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney attempted to buy the Republican nomination for President, Romney is laying out plans that would allow himself to buy into the conservative movement.
According to former Romney advisers, the former candidate has budgeted more than a million dollars of his own money, and would tap a number of his financial supporters for more, to set up a new foundation -- perhaps in Michigan -- that would promote conservative policy ideas.
"Governor Romney believes in a competitive marketplace for ideas, so he's more than willing to invest in conservative ideas that compete against Newt Gingrich or the American Enterprise Institute or anyone else's policy ideas. Anything that will help the movement," says a longtime conservative based in Washington, who backed Romney.
But Romney's conservative policy ideas largely paled in comparison to most of the other candidates in the race, including some of John McCain's, Fred Thompson's, and even Mike Huckabee's. Romney's tax plan was not as aggressive as Thompson's or Huckabee's, and his immigration reform plan was closer to the moderate plan put forward by McCain.
Part of Romney's strategy is to keep a core group of close campaign associates employed for the long term for another run at the Presidency should McCain lose in 2008.
Romney is also looking to parrot some of the other candidates. For example, two months ago, Romney advisers approached Citadel Broadcasting, which syndicates the radio's Paul Harvey commentaries. "Governor Romney saw that that was how Fred Thompson got his jumpstart in the campaign. He's not above borrowing a good idea if it will help him," says a former adviser. "We saw that on the campaign trail. He'd see what another candidate was doing and say to one of us, 'You know, we can do that better, or we can do that a bit differently and really make it work.' I think that's what he's doing with following in Thompson's footsteps."
WORDS THAT DON'T GO TOGETHER WELL
Michelle Obama believes she is her husband's best advocate, but some of Sen. Barack Obama's inner circle believe that should he win the Democrat nomination, they will have "repackage and redirect" Mrs. Obama for the general election, according to one Obama donor, who has voiced her concerns about the missus.
"You look at what she says about America and some of the policies she thinks Obama would put in place and you just cringe," says the donor and fundraiser. "Much of what she says wouldn't fly in most of the country, and even sound like some of the things Hillary was saying 16 years ago or on the campaign trail today."
The latest example was Mrs. Obama's appearance in Harrisburg, Pa., where she told a group of mothers: "If we don't wake up as a nation with a new kind of leadership, for how we want this country to work, then we won't get universal health care. The truth is, in order to get things like universal health care and a revamped education system, then someone is going to have to give up a piece of their pie so that someone else can have more."
The comment reminded some of the infamous remarks Sen. Hillary Clinton delivered back in 2004 at a private San Francisco fundraiser for Sen. Barbara Boxer, where she warned the gathered wealthy, "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."
Mrs. Obama , who has refused much advice on the campaign trail about her speaking style and comments, often departs from scripted talking points and believes her style is in line with her husband's.
"That's probably right," says one Democrat consultant who has worked with Obama's campaign. "But we've had them thinking about what happens next, during the Denver convention and after. The scrutiny will be heightened and a lot of her stuff isn't going to play in Peoria."