Reporter's Note: The Republicans wrapped up their first big debate, and the results, while not flashy, are something the president might want to pay attention to…as I note in today’s letter.
Dear Mr. President,
So the big debate here in New Hampshire is done. No Republican seemed to hurt him or herself in the process. A few appeared to help themselves, at least a little bit. But what they said on stage, I think, is not what should concern you.
Rather, what most caught my ear all day were the things I heard from Republicans, Tea Party folks, and independents all day. To put it bluntly, they really want you out of office, and they are willing to compromise on some of their ideals to make sure they get a candidate who can beat you.
Let me say that again: They are willing to compromise to beat you.
This is no small thing. Not so long ago what I heard most from the conservative side of the aisle was a kind of “damn the torpedoes” approach. Back then, I met so many voters who seemed intent on taking the Oval Office solely on their own terms. They pushed hard on the social issues; preached the gospel of 51 percent politics; and largely seemed willing to say “I’d rather lose than agree with something that…uh…I don’t agree with.”
Now, not so much. I heard an awful of talk about pragmatism. I heard person after person saying something along the lines of, “I still believe in social conservatism. I still want to fight for certain principles. But the only conservative principle that really matters now is economic.”
Sure, not all conservatives feel that way. But I’m telling you, I was startled by how many are laser focused on beating you. They don’t even seem angry at you anymore. They just seem to feel that you have made some bad decisions (terrible decisions in their minds) and that enough is enough. I’ll tell you what I would say to any incumbent president who’d like to keep his chair: this is the kind of dedicated, concentrated opposition that you’d better take seriously.
Anyway, it’s late. I’m going to sleep. Have you ever seen the opera house in Rochester, New Hampshire, btw? Absolutely a magnificent, glorious, fascinating old theater. You must make a point to stop by the next time you are up this way.
Traveling today, but still…call if you can.
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