The end of retail politics?

SALEM, N.H. — IF BUDDY Roemer was ever starry-eyed about his candidacy for president, he isn’t anymore. He knows how to read polls, and also calendars. So he had an air of resignation last week as he prepared to meet a friendly but skeptical crowd, a half-dozen locals in a tiny room.

“I would have had a different strategy if I had known eight months ago what I know today,’’ Roemer said. Namely, the power of the televised debate.

Roemer, the former Louisiana governor, is following a grossly underfunded New Hampshire primary playbook from the past: He’s been crossing the state, pitching his story to reporters, talking to anyone who will listen. But because he’s barely made a dent in the polls, he has never made it into a national debate. Or, as Roemer might put it, because he’s never participated in a debate, he’s barely made a dent in the polls. The TV networks, he says, “are selecting the Republican nominee.’’

Read the rest of the column from the Boston Globe here.

Listen to a discussion on New Hampshire Public Radio here.

Thanks, Newt? Changing the immigration conversation

FROM TIME to time, TV debates manage to suss out the truth from the talking points. When Rick Perry can’t remember the federal agency he wants to cut, it shows how little he’s committed to the idea. When Herman Cain refers to Wolf Blitzer as “Blitz,’’ it shows how blithe he is about everything. (So does the fact that Cain can’t offer a specific answer to any question that doesn’t include taxes. Game over, dude. You had a good run.)

So what will become of Newt Gingrich’s supposedly shocking moment in the CNN debate last week? Asked about illegal immigration, Gingrich suggested a path to amnesty for law-abiding families: legalization, on a case-by-case basis, for people with community roots, as evidenced by their extended family ties or their membership in a local church. And while church membership, per se, is an impractical and problematic test, Gingrich’s overarching point was clear: Illegal immigrants are people, not statistics.

Read the rest of the column from the Boston Globe here.