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Small Steps in the Republican Implosion


While there’s a very long time left between now and November and while on the local and congressional level, Republicans may survive, or even take the Senate while retaining the House, the Republican Party and its leaders are doing everything in their power to destroy their chances of winning the presidency. Some of this is common knowledge–the war on middle-class white women having sex, for instance. A few possibly less well-known factors in the ongoing Republican implosion.

1. There’s almost no way the Republicans take the White House without winning Ohio. There are other mathematical possibilities for them, but given Ohio’s demographics and big swing to the Republicans in 2010, it feels like a must-win. Luckily for Democrats, John Kasich’s war on unions may have doomed Republicans in the Buckeye State. When Republicans are losing the Fraternal Order of Police, you know they are in trouble.

2. Of course, Romney has another problem that is clear from Republican primaries: working-class voters don’t like him. Santorum is killing Romney among non-college educated whites, an absolutely crucial demographic for Republicans this fall. I’m certainly not saying Santorum voters are going to choose Obama over Romney, but they could very well stay home. And again, in states like Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, Republicans need a very high turnout to have any shot of winning these states at all. Turns out that Romney’s plutocrat demeanor and clear contempt for working-class people may not work out so well. Who knew.

3. Mittens is also downright determined to get 0% of the growing Latino vote. Of all the tactics to choose, why get after Santorum for voting to appoint Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court? I guess there’s short-term gain to call Santorum weak on racial animosity and stopping the Kenyan’s agenda, but attacking one of the two most prominent Latinos in the history of American politics (along with Cesar Chavez) seems titanically stupid. This has slipped under a lot of radar screens, but the Latino media is all over it and that’s what counts here. I didn’t think it would be possible for Republicans to draw less Latino votes than McCain did, but Romney is giving it the old college try!

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  • And don’t forget the strong GOP push to alienate women in Virginia!

    • I think Rush has successfully taken that debate national.

    • Warren Terra

      Also Pennsylvania (where it combines with the Republican push to make people drink methane).

      • DrDick

        Gives a whole new meaning to the term “firewater.”

        • Halloween Jack

          On the plus side, teetotalers get to do flaming shots, woo hoo!

          • DrDick

            I look forward to a new fashion trend in the unintended skinhead look.

  • Dan S.

    “but one of the two most prominent Latinos in the history of American politics … seems titanically stupid.”

    I think some words are missing there…

  • Warren Terra

    RE the Latino Vote, everyone seems to be assuming the veep nominee will be Marco Rubio – and that he’ll appeal to (non-Cuban) Latinos.

    I have no idea whether either proposition is true.

    (Do the Republicans have any prominent non-Cuban Latinos, in Congress, elected statewide, or big-city mayor? Especially, any who haven’t gone Full Metal Wingnut?)

    • Funkhauser

      Susana Martinez, govr, NM

      • Watusie

        Another half-term governor as VP? I hope not.

        • Warren Terra

          If she’s smart and diligent (she’s a Republican, but it’s possible) this shouldn’t be a bar. Heck, Obama was a half-term Senator when he announced; it’s all about ability and willingness to learn and to connect with voters.

    • I think it’s an open question whether Rubio would accept the VP nod. Does he want to tie his rising ship to a losing anchor? While Rubio is obviously a strong possibility, I would not be a bit surprised if the VP choice was Susana Martinez or Nikki Haley.

      • Richard

        Susanna Martinez would be a good choice to pick up some Latino support, Rubio would not. I am married to a Mexican woman and spend a good amount of time in the Mexican and Mexican-American community in Los Angeles. Cubanos are generally regarded as not really Latino by Mexicans and Mexican-Americans and I think its very unlikely that picking Rubio would get Romney more than a 5% increase in the non-Cuban Latino vote. Since Romney would get the overwhelming majority of the Cubano vote anyway, picking Rubio might be useful in winning Florida but wont do much nationwide. On the other hand, naming a Martinez would, IMHO, be likely to increase Romney’s share of the Latino vote from 25% to 35% (despite her horrible stance on immigration)

        But as much as the Republicans try to destroy their chances among working class voters, Latinos and women, this election will still depend on the economy. If 200,000 jobs a month are created from now until November, which seems very possible, Obama wins fairly easily. If the economy goes into a tailspin because of rising gas prices and the unemployment rate goes above 9%, I think he’s likely to lose. Fortunately, I believe the former is more likely than the latter.

        • elm

          Many people seem to think that “Latino” is a single ethnic group and that as long as you had a Latino on the ticket, it would have the same effect everywhere. It would be like a Chicago politician deciding he needed the support of the Catholic vote, finding an Irishman to support him, and thinking that delivers the Poles as well.

          Even if the rest of the Latino nationalities are similar enough that appealing to one appeals to them all, Cubans, as you say, are quite distinct from Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, etc.

          • Richard

            In general, I agree although there’s a sense in which my wife and her friends and family have a feeling of comraderie with Dominicans, and El Salvadoreans and Columbians, for example, but not nearly so much for Cubans. (There was elation all around my family when Obama named Sotomayor to the court even though she was a Puero Rican – it was considered an accomplishment for Latinos). Cubans are placed in a different category because, I think, so many of them are refugees from Castro, are predominantly middle class and because their politics, for the most part, are so right wing and so focused on Castro and nothing else.. I definitely think that having a Mexican-American like Martinez on the ballot as a VP would increase the Republican Latino vote (mainly because the overwhelming majority of the Latino vote is Mexican-American) but having a Cuban on the ticket wouldn’t gain many more Latino votes for the Republicans.

            • DrDick

              My sense is that the Puerto Ricans do not feel particularly close to the Cubans either, at least based on my experience when I lived in Chicago.

            • DocAmazing

              Among the Nicaraguans, Peruvians, Mexicans, Salvadorans and others with whom I work, there’s a real sense of irritation and distrust for a nationality that gets a free pass from la Migra while their own families have to sweat and tremble through a painful naturalization process.

              • DrDick

                I got a sense from the Mexicans I knew that that played a role there as well. I also got a sense that there were some class based issues as well, especially with the Puerto Ricans, given that a large portion of the original Cuban emigrants were from wealthy families.

          • jackd

            In a t-shirt kiosk at a local mall I saw a shirt headed “I AM A MEXICAN” followed by a rant against the terms “Latino” and “Hispanic”. Surprised me a bit, although on reflection it shouldn’t have. I had heard years ago that there was significant friction between Mexican, Guatemalan, and Salvadoran immigrants in this area. Little wonder that some people from Nation X would disdain being lumped in with those shiftless no-goods from Nation Y or Z.

            • DrDick

              M-S 13 got its start because the Salvadorans in East LA got tired of being discriminated against by the Chicano gangs.

      • Walt

        Haley would be a smart choice. I think at this point any hope for a future political coalition with Latinos is gone — the Republican base won’t accept it. So the only plausible place for the party to look is Asian-Americans. (Not that Haley helps them with Asian-Americans in general, but at least she would be a start.)

        And they almost have to nominate a woman now, after the disastrous politics of these last several months.

        • Halloween Jack

          And they almost have to nominate a woman now, after the disastrous politics of these last several months.

          The real problem they have with doing that, though, is Sarah Palin. The GOP pretty much signed over the franchise for a huge chunk of their female voters to her, and she’s not letting go of them. I’m not even talking about picking her for VP again; just asking for her endorsement will taint whomever they would pick, and turning it down or ignoring her will risk her telling her groupies to stay home on Election Day, and she still retains enough followers to make that hurt. Things will be awkward enough in terms of what to do with her at the convention; I’m guessing that someone will have to come up with a shitload of money to bribe her into settling for a guest commentator gig instead of speaking on stage.

    • LKS

      Rubio’s acting like he wants the veep nod. He’s been pressuring the state’s ethics commission to drop its investigation of him.

      Not sure why he’d care if it’s all smoke and no fire, or why if there’s a fire and he’s not running for veep, he wouldn’t just keep quiet and let it burn itself out.

    • Anonymous

      Assuming Rubio toes the party line, the optics of a Cuban-American (the only ethnic/national group I’m aware of that the US will allow to enter without inspection, i.e. illegally immigrate) calling for a humongous border fence and a clampdown on illegal immigrants’ ability to live, work, or go to school are going to look reeeaaaalllllyyyy great. For Democrats!

  • Watusie

    Maybe it should be one of the three most prominent Latinos – did you forget Alberto Gonzales? I sure wish I could.

    • Ben

      “White people like Alberto Gonzales, because . . . he makes George Lopez look like Cesar Chavez”

    • Hogan

      Does Bill Richardson count?

  • John#2

    What if he gets Santorum to agree to be the VP? S. might do it… otherwise he’d have to get a day job… all his problems are fixed, and suddenly a lot of states look a whole lot better.

    • Santorum would be a horrible VP candidate. He’s personally unlikable, his positions are extreme, and he doesn’t stay on someone else’s message. It would be like McCain-Palin except with someone even more distasteful.

      • Charlie Sweatpants

        Yeah, Little Ricky would be a horrible sidekick, but I’ll be shocked if Mittens picks anyone but a stolid white guy. Many in his would be congregation consider him an untrustworthy leftist. There will be enormous pressure on him for a Quayle style “balancing”, and that crowd won’t want some woman or minority.

        • joe from Lowell

          I think a Southern conservative. Jim DeMint? Saxby Chambliss? Someone with real good old boy and tea party cred.

          • Scott Lemieux

            It’s coming up Haley!

            • Murc

              An ethnic? With lady-parts?

              I dunno.

              • Shalimar

                Barbour is an ethnic with lady-parts? Maybe Rush can demand to see Haley’s sex-tape when he finds out?

                • Desert Rat

                  I’m thinking somebody was thinking Nikki Haley, not Haley Barbour.

                  Nikki Haley would really be Sarah Palin redux.

                • I think he meant Nikki.

                  Honestly, if I was a rising star in the Republican party right now, I’d be putting out “don’t call me” signals. Let one of the established old farts take the fall, and hold on ’til next time or the time after.

                • Murc

                  … yes. I thought Nikki Haley. Boss Hogg completely slipped my mind.

                • Warren Terra

                  I think you’re not fully considering the Republican propensity to reward in the next Presidential contest the person who failed to get nominated this time.

                  Of course, it could be a bridge too far to stretch that category to include veep nominees; the only recent veep nominees on recent tickets to later secure the nomination were Mondale (a Democrat) and Dole (twenty years later). Other veep nominees on losing tickets who at least made serious indications of wanting the nomination include Quayle, Kemp, and Palin on the Republican side, and on the Democratic side Muskie, Lieberman, and Edwards.

                  Still, there are no plausible Republican also-rans this time other than whoever the veep nominee is, unless you count Santorum. So the veep nominee might inherit the mantle that usually goes to Republican also-rans, the one that’s helped Rmoney this time around.

                • Halloween Jack

                  I think that Nikki Haley is unlikely either to be offered the position or to accept. On the one hand, there’s that one blogger who claimed to have had an affair with her, and even if there’s not a smidgen of truth to it (it seems unlikely), no one on Mitt’s team would probably want to risk the dude coming out with proof after the convention.

                  Plus, why would she? As Ahistoricality points out, it’s terribly unlikely that she’d want to hitch her wagon to one of the least inspiring candidates in living memory.

        • Ed

          There will be enormous pressure on him for a Quayle style “balancing”, and that crowd won’t want some woman or minority.

          A non-white and/or female candidate who excites the base could help Romney, just as the Palin pick was initially a boost for McCain.

  • Murc

    Mittens is also downright determined to get 0% of the growing Latino vote.

    Something I’m actually curious about is the results of the Puerto Rico primary in a couple week. That’s a real, honest-to-god primary that awards more delegates than some states do, conducted on a island populated by spanish-speaking brown people.

    I would LOVE it if someone in the media would point that out, and then ask either Romney or Santorum if they plan to campaign there.

    • Richard

      My recollection is that no one, neither Republican nor Democrat, ever goes to Puerto Rico for its presidential primary, (just like no one ever goes to Alaska or Hawaii for their caucuses/primary). Puerto Rico elects 23 Republican delegates this year on a winner take all basis.

      • Murc

        No. Winner-take-all only if someone wins a majority. If the person with the most votes gets a plurality, then Puerto Rico awards proportionally.

        Also, nobody ever goes to Alaska or Hawaii? Really? I didn’t know that. I mean, you’d think they’d put in an appearance at least. And given that Hawaii is a CAUCUS, I can’t imagine Ron Paul not showing up.

        • Richard

          My memory is that no one shows up in Hawaii or Alaska because it takes a day of travel to get there and back. I’m sure that no one appeared over the last few weeks in Alaska for its caucus. Maybe Paul will show up in Hawaii but I doubt it.

          With PR being winner take all only if a majority is achieved and given that there appear to be seven names on the ballot and the chance of a majority therefore being slim, that is one more reason why a trip to Puerto Rico to campaign is not worth the time and effort.

          • Richard

            Hawaiian caucus is next Tuesday, March 13. A quick look at Paul’s schedule for the next week shows that he will be spending all his time for the next week in Kansas and Missouri with no trips to Hawaii. Noe of the candidates plan to go there before the caucus.

          • Marek

            Paul went to Alaska.

            • Richard

              I stand corrected. But I assume it was a short trip and that no one else went. And even with that trip he didn’t win the caucuses. It simply makes no sense to personally campaign in Alaska, Puerto Rico or Hawaii

              • Jon

                General election is probably different, but Nixon’s vow to campaign in all 50 states — and in particular the time lost travelling to Hawaii and Alaska — plausibly cost him the margin of victory against JFK in 1960. (At least, so I remember Rick Perlstein writing in his book.).

                • Richard

                  I remember it. It was a really stupid promise and he lost several days of campaigning because of it, arguably costing him the election.. With the exception (I think) of Palin , i dont think anybody has campaigned in either state since in the general election (unless Obama made a combined vacation trip to his home state during the last election)

                • Warren Terra

                  Obama first made it to Alaska a year after the election; with that trip, he had apparently visited all fifty states since he started campaigning for the Presidency.

  • Quincy

    My money is on McDonnell for vp. Virginia is almost as important as Ohio.

    • Warren Terra

      But is McDonnell still popular in VA? And does he get any new votes for Rmoney elsewhere?

      • Quincy

        I think McDonnell is still considered fairly popular in Virginia, more so than the majority of new Republican governors. He doesn’t broaden the party’s appeal at all, but its possible Romney sees a need to shore up support with the evangelical/Southern base to ensure they turn out. I imagine Rubio’s his first choice, but if Rubio passes McDonnell strikes me as a quintessential Mittens’ move. It’s safe, calculated, involves pandering and is straight out of the political consultant’s playbook.

        • Warren Terra

          My problem with your theory is that while, yes, Obama took Virginia in 2008, if Rmoney needs help taking Virginia in 2012 Rmoney is bascially screwed generally. An outcome that involves Obama taking Virginia again (or Rmoney needing McDonnell to stop it) would mean Obama winning enough other states to make Virginia moot. A Virginia pol with nationwide impact might make sense as veep; a Virginia pol to secure Virginia doesn’t.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    But Mittens is a second generation Mexican immigrant. That’s gotta be worth something, no?

    • Halloween Jack

      And why did Grandaddy go to Mexico, again?

      • Ken

        Great-granddaddy, actually. His grandparents were monogamists though they lived in Mexico among polygamists. See the wikipedia for George Romney for the family background.

  • Jon H

    “Luckily for Democrats, John Kasich’s war on unions may have doomed Republicans in the Buckeye State. ”

    And his response after the recent tornados, dragging his feet on getting FEMA involved or seeking Federal assistance, isn’t going to help him either.

  • Rarely Posts

    I think you’re wrong about the importance of Ohio. The reapportionment of congressional districts really changes the electoral map. I’ve put together one somewhat realistic win scenario with no Ohio:


    All Mitt would have to do is: (1) sweep the confederacy and Florida (realistic with Rubio) and (2) do well in the Southwest, only losing the coasts and NM (realistic); and (3) pick up Iowa (realistic). At that point you have a 269-269 tie, and if he pulls out NH or WI or MN or MI or OH or NM, then he wins.

    It’s a mistake to get stuck in the Gore, Kerry, Obama paradigm. With the movement of Americans South, the Democrats need to sweep every Midwestern swing state or probably need to pick off some more southern states. That may mean VA, NC, or FL, but Republicans should be favored there (particularly if they pick up Rubio). That may mean CO or NV, but once again, that could be tricky against Romney. And, he has to hold NH, which will also be tricky against Romney.

    • Rarely Posts

      Of course, this analysis does highlight how much Mitt will need to win back Latinos, both people of Cuban and Mexican descent. It’s almost impossible for him to win without Florida, and his path to victory gets difficult if he loses CO, NV, and NM.

    • Your scenario feels like a worst-case scenario for Obama. If everything goes wrong, Romney can still win. This seems unlikely looking at the map. Losing VA and NC and FL and CO and NV and IA. This could happen, but given that polling right now puts the president in reasonably good shape in many of these states and close in all of them, things would have to get bad for this to play out.

      • Murc

        What Erik said.

        If Obama DOES lose, that’s probably how it happens. But that’s really a worst case scenario map, he’d have to melt down completely or Mittens would have to, I dunno, haul some kids out of a burning orphanage the weekend before the election.

        • Hogan

          An orphanage that Derrick Bell set on fire.

      • Rarely Posts

        I’m a pessimist by nature, so that’s part of our difference in opinion. My major point is that I don’t think Ohio is going to be the key swing state in the way it has been for the last decade. Notably, neither is Missouri, which was very close when it was Clinton, Gore, or Kerry on the Democratic ticket. Something about Obama must make him less popular there. I also still have trouble believing that either VA or NC is a swing state.

        • Jonas

          Obama did better in Missouri than either Gore or Kerry. Obama lost by 3900 votes, the other two didn’t come nearly as close.

        • elm

          I have trouble believing Virginia is a swing state, either, as I think it should be classified as “leans Obama” at this point, to the extent that early polling matters.

  • Jim Lynch

    Romney’s ‘personality problem’ is well deserved, of course. But shackle any politician with the expectations of the republican rank and file, and what the hell do you expect? The inmates have taken over that asylum. There’s not a politician this side of Aaron Burr who could toe that party’s line and not appear ridiculous.

    • Murc

      Aaron Burr, the crazy traitor, is by far my favorite Vice President just for the entertainment value.

  • c u n d gulag

    As for women as VP possibilities, Nikki’s too much like Sarah. Plus, she was a Sikh when she was a child. Too… too… too, foreign.
    My money, if it’s a woman, would be on Gov. Martinez.

    Rubio’s got his own birther problems right now – but he remains a possibility.

    Or, they may decide on a black male as their VP candidate.

    How about Allen West for VP?
    The Teabagger loves them some Allen West.
    He speaks both Lipton AND Tetley.

    Or, former Congressman J.C. Watts?
    Former Congressman and football star. Plus, he’s been a lobbyist for the last few years, so, politically, he’s been below the radar.
    And being a successful lobbyist is considered a plus in Republicans circles. Hell – THAT’S everyone’s goal when they leave office – from BOTH parties!

    • Ron Paul is the only pick that makes any sense that will actually accept ths spot.

      • I encourage the Republican candidate to add “crazy racist” baggage to his campaign.

    • Halloween Jack

      Allen West would be the sort of VP candidate who would make GOP operatives nostalgic for Palin.

  • mds

    while on the local and congressional level, Republicans may survive, or even take the Senate while retaining the House

    Yep, they will probably completely control Congress next January, even with Obama getting re-elected at the top of the ticket. That’s some obituary. Or will the implosion continue into 2014, when astounding feats of House gerrymandering and a dreadful couple of Senate election cycles will somehow be sufficiently offset by voter disgust? Because Dem Senate incumbents in AR, LA, MT, SD, and NC are so safe, we can focus on flipping Idaho or some Deep South R seats? If D’s lose the Senate, they lose it for the rest of Obama’s presidency. Then along comes the next vicious right-wing reactionary sociopath that the news media will want to have a beer with. And even if Andrew Cuomo doesn’t run, the Republicans will put up someone who fits the bill.

    So yes, it’s gratifying that the Republicans are demonstrating an embarrassing inability to defeat an incumbent president during a weak economy. Meanwhile, nothing that requires Congressional action to fix will get fixed. We might have hit Peak Effective Wingnut, but oh, the damage they’re going to do on the way down.

  • Anderson

    Erik’s second point is deeply implausible.

    It requires us to imagine that the categories of voters most energized against Obama, the people who really believe everything on Fox News, are going to stay home rather than vote for Romney.

    Permit me to doubt.

    • mds

      Well, it’s admittedly anecdotal, but my stereotypical evangelical Fox-Newsin’ parents hate Mormons about as much as they hate far-left secularist fundamentalist Muslims from Kenya. I’m not sure if they’ve managed to convince themselves that someone who gets a free pass in “lying for the Lord,” where “Lord” is some heathen conception of RealGod(TM), would actually be an improvement, even if he would substantively govern as they wished. Then again, they previously voted twice to put a Moroni in the White House, so who knows?

      • Anderson

        There will be a few of those, maybe even a statistically significant number, but I expect they’ll be outweighed by more secular voters who would have been equally repulsed by a Santorum nomination.

        Romney’s primary-campaign weakness will be a general-election strength, is I guess what I’m saying.

    • Uncle Kvetch

      What Anderson said. I think fear and loathing of the Kenyan usurper among Santorum voters will trump all other concerns, for all but a very few.

      Remember, he’s only been pretending not to be a Maoist in order to win a second term — if he wins, it’s OBAMA UNCHAINED! That’s enough to make the vast majority of them grit their teeth and vote for Romney.

    • Let me assuage your doubts.

      On Super Tuesday, President Obama won more votes than any Republican candidate.

      Re-read that: without an opponent in primaries that were basically “one vote rubber stamps,” the leftist Kenyan usurper outdrew the entire field of men running against him.

      • Anderson

        And that is responsive … how?

        I wasn’t questioning Obama’s turnout; I was expressing doubt that a primary vote for Santorum is not an election vote for Romney.

        • mds

          Well, I think it goes to the fact that they’re going to need more than Santorum supporters, too. Those parents of mine were in the Bachmann camp, which was completely shut out in the Iowa caucuses by Bob Vander Plaats’ sleazy pay-to-play deal with Santorum. An authentic foam-at-the-mouth fundamentalist Protestant being shunted aside by a Catholic with the charisma of a Denny’s night manager? Better than a Mormon, but not by enough to really be exciting. So it’s possible that some of the turn-off has already happened.

          Also, a bunch of the OBAMAO UNCHAINED! crowd actually want another excuse to stockpile weapons, so they’re probably conflicted, too. :-)

          Basically, the hope seems to be that the cadre who are truly energized by getting Blacky Muhammed McBlack out of the White House at any cost is much smaller than the group of those who love to complain about him.

          • Anderson

            I suppose your parents would consider a Roman Catholic not much better than a Mormon? That’s one oddity of the GOP nomination now: they’re down to a Mormon and two Catholics.

            I think most evangelicals who can bring themselves to vote for a Catholic can vote for a Mormon, even allowing for the fact that evangelicals are (mostly) small-c catholic and Mormons aren’t.

  • Others have gone into depth about the different factions that fall under the Latino umbrella, and Sonia Sotomayor falls under the Latina-Puerto Rican-Nuyoricana panel, so attacking her is not as big a gamble as you might imagine.

    No, the battle for the Latino vote is a lot more nuanced, and I think the key sector Obama needs to focus on is the Mexican-American demographic. There’s where a) he can cause real damage to the Republican party, possibly even taking Texas with a strong GOTV effort and b) show by doing that Latinos, who are all afraid of the “stopped for being Hispanic” mood of the Republican party that there’s a place for them permanently in the party.

    Obama currently polls at about 70% favorable among Latinos nationally but that includes places like SoCal and the east coast Latinos and is much closer in the heartland, but if he can pull his Latino numbers up in Arizona (probable), New Mexico & Florida (possible) and Texas (far-fetched, but not impossible,) he can basically walk away from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia and never bother to even campaign in those states. It won’t matter.

    • Richard

      Totally agree. Being an honorary Mexican-American (despite my Jewish, Scots-Irish, American Indian bloodlines), what is crucial to this election is making the case to Mexican-Americans (which shouldn’t be very hard given the anti-immigration, anti-Dream Act stance of Romney and all the other Republicans) and, most importantly, getting out the Mexican-American vote. He needs a big anti-Republican ad campaign on Latino radio and tv and a huge ground effort to get out the vote. My wife is volunteering for the latter.

      • Yea, if I’m his SuperPAC head, I’m figuring that’s where I spend my money.

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