Monthly Archives: January 2012

Live Blogging the Florida Primary

7:00 We are on, as polls close across most of the state.  If the Drudge report is correct, this is going to be an early night.  He has leaked early exit polls showing Romney up 49%-33% over Gingrich.  If that holds, it will be a good night for Romney, and will refuel the early speculation that this will clinch the deal for Romney.  I don’t think this will knockout Gingrich, but it reaffirms that Romney is in the driver’s seat.

So, where did Romney get the extra votes?  From Paul.  Remember, Paul abandoned Florida relatively early, and he typically draws from Romney’s coalition.  If Drudge is to be believe, Paul is getting only 6% here – far less than the 10% I thought he might get.  Santorum is also down, at about 11%.  Polling suggested about half of his support chose Romney as their second pick.  Evidently the electability issue drove the defections from both Paul and Santorum to Romney.  Gingrich, on the other hand, is about right where I thought he’d be.  Again, all this is based on leaked exit polls so…. .

Inevitably this outcome will raise questions regarding whether Romney has clinched the deal.  Keep two factors in mind.  First, Santorum is going to finish a very distant third here, despite what most observers thought were two solid debate performances.  He has to consider whether it is worth continuing.  Second, Florida newspapers are evidently running stories that there may be a challenge to the winner-take-all delegate allocation provisions governing Florida.  If Gingrich/Santorum win this challenge then that blunts some of Romney’s delegate haul.  Also, we need to see whether Romney is able to expand his support among the Tea Party/conservative wing of the Republican party.

The problem for Gingrich is that it’s not clear he has the money to run a national campaign, compared to Romney.  In Florida alone Romney outspent Gingrich by 5 to 1, and the full brunt of the Republican establishment was brought to bear on Mitt’s behalf.

By the way, we are watching CNN tonight while scanning the various online sites.  Note that the CNN vote totals are probably overstating Romney’s support just a bit, since much of the early counting is of the early votes which went disproportionally for Mitt.  As today’s votes are counted, I expect the race to tighten by a couple of percentage points.

Keep in mind that the punditocracy will overreact to today’s results – don’t get caught up in the instant analysis.

I do expect this to be called exactly at 8, as soon as the panhandle finishes voting.  At that point we should be able to get some exit poll data.

I teased some of the exit poll issues of interest tonight in terms of seeing whether Romney can expand his coalition.  Another issue will be turnout – numbers have been up a bit in the Republican contests so far compared to 2008. Will that hold in Florida?

Of course, the Romney people will try to spin this as a knockout blow. Keep in mind, however, that in 2008 when he finished second with about the same vote percentage that Gingrich is going to get here, Romney stayed in the race.  I expect Gingrich to do the same.

I am interested to see what Newt’s demeanor will be when he makes his concession speech.  Mitt really personalized his attacks this time by trying to portray Newt as unstable, erratic, and prone to emotional outbursts.  Newt can’t be a happy guy.  This was an out-and-out thrashing on a personal level.

One of the tenets adopted by the punditocracy is that February will be a tough month for Gingrich because there are no real contests and few debates.  Although that’s true, it also gives him a chance to raise money and try to organize a campaign presence in some of the upcoming states.  Remember, the next two primaries are not until February 28, in Arizona and Michigan, followed by the March 6 super Tuesday.  Romney should do well in Michigan and probably in Arizona.  But superTuesday will be interesting – Newt should run strong in at least three states  – Tennessee, Georgia and Oklahoma.  Note, however, that at this point won’t be on the ballot in Virginia.

CNN is ready to call this for Mitt.

8 p.m. And they do.  Let’s see what the exit polls say.

Note that one danger Mitt has to be concerned about is raising expectations too high.  Note that Paul is going to run strong in caucuses (how is he doing in Maine, Chris?) – he’s going to be fighting with Mitt for the same voters.

Similarly, Santorum is already out in Colorado.  Can he organize enough to win some votes there?

Ok, some exit polls results:  Romney benefited from a huge gender gap.  He won  51-29% among woman!  He also won Latinos by 53-30%.  Romney won all age groups, but his support increased in linear fashion as we go up the age bracket.  Romney cleaned up in the highest income bracket, winning more than 60% of the over $200,000 income bracket.

However, (and CNN really is not getting this story right), among strong Tea Party supporters (35% of the vote) Gingrich held strong, winning 46-33%.  Mitt is still not closing this deal.  Newt also won the 40% of voters who are evangelicals by 36-33%.

Based on exit polls the Florida voters both rated Newt and Mitt about equally in terms of where they were located ideologically on the issues.  That is, they said they were located “about right” on the issues.

Romney, by a slight percentage, 35-33%, was seen as running the most unfair campaign, with Gingrich just behind.  Fully 92% of the campaign ads were negative, according to one headline I saw.

Apparently Romney is getting ready to come on stage.  It will be interesting to what tone he takes. By almost 2-1, Romney was viewed as more likely to beat Obama.  It will be interesting to see how Newt’s loss affects his national standing where he is running about neck and neck with Romney in many polls.

Note that Mitt did much better among those who voted earlier – among those who made up their mind in the last few days, he led Gingrich by 8%, but for those who voted earlier or who made up their mind earlier, he did much better 51-34%.  An interesting dynamic at play there.  similarly, among the 72% who said the ads influenced their vote, Mitt cleaned up at 52-29.  But Gingrich actually ran even with Mitt among the 26% who said the ads made no difference.

Mitt is on. Let’s listen.

Not surprisingly, after the obligatory shoutout to his unnamed opponents, he’s back to front-runner Romney by focusing on Obama.  Good strategy.

(as expected, Newt’s strongest regional showing came in the Florida panhandle, where he ran even with Mitt).  Otherwise it was Mitt’s night.  Interestingly, Mitt did almost as well in rural areas as he did in suburbs and urban areas. )

What was that crack about the faculty lounge?  A shot at Newt?

Results are trending a bit closer to my 8% projection – I’m feeling not quite so bad!  Looks like Paul supporters threw their lot to Mitt – I thought they were going to be more fanatical than that.  Otherwise the vote is turning out pretty much as I anticipated.

Wow.  I’m not sure I anticipated how quickly he turned back into front-runner mode!  The guy’s won two primaries.

Wonder how Newt might respond?

Best exit poll finding of the night: among the 28% who said they are falling behind, they split their vote between gingrich and romney.  Of the 12% who are getting ahead, romney wins going away 52-25%

By the way, for those of you on twitter, I’m posting at MattDickinson44.   (Against my better judgment, by the way.  I promise not to tweet about my food choices at dinner.)

It’s up to Newt to make this evening end on an interesting note.  I want to see a rip-snorting campaign speech.  He needs to channel his inner John Paul Jones.

I haven’t written much about Rick’s performance, but right now he doesn’t sound like a man who is reconsidering his candidacy.  I think he’s going to hang in through the caucuses, hoping that the intensity of his supporters’ feelings motivates them to show up.

Rick is on CNN now making his post-florida speech.  He’s taking the high road here, praising both Mitt and Newt and promising not to engage in mud-slinging.   But is he going to be able to raise money?  Probably not enough to compete outside of caucus states.  But he’s probably going to hang in through this month, and hope he can get a victory or at least enough coverage to generate some publicity.

Interestingly, while Mitt won those who voted primarily on the basis of electability,  Newt won among voters looking for either a) experience, or b) true conservative.  But Newt got crushed by Mitt among those voting on the basis of “strong moral character”.

OK, Newt is on.  Let’s see which Newt it is!   By the way, he can’t use the Rocky theme anymore – he was going to get sued.

Translation:  Get out Rick!

Old Newt back – bashing the Massachusett moderate, and the liberal elite media.  How many lives does he have left?  He’s clearly going to wrap himself in the populist mantle, and try to portray Mitt as an elitist.  I think that’s probably the best strategy he can adopt. Whether it will work remains to be seen.

The first Capitol Steps program?  Is that the comedy review?

Why he didn’t run on his record building the Republican party earlier is beyond me.  Notice no mention of Romney as yet.  Not even a congratulation.  I  don’t think he likes Mitt very much.  Then again, there’s not a lot of people who like Newt.

This is an interesting speech.  I think he’s trying to combat Mitt’s electability advantage by trying to get people to think of him as president.

This is the feisty Newt who went awol in Florida.  I have to think some of it was exhaustion.  One thing that defeat does is force campaign’s to revise their strategy.  Newt is retooling as he speaks.  But can he stay focused, and on message?  History says no.

One thing that might help him survive February is to get some of that Rick Perry money.

Quick: where did that last quote come from?   yep, the Declaration of Independence.  That’s grandiose Newt.

Not sure how effective that speech was – while I think the positioning as the anti-establishment populist will play well with the Tea party, the hints of grandiosity are what makes other voters less likely to support him.  Ultimately, Newt can’t win this by relying on the Tea party alone.

Ok, Ron is hanging out with the showgirls and playing the slots in Vegas.  Let’s see what he says, and whether he can keep it short.  Or will we get a lecture on currency trading?

Ron’s threat to Mitt: we’ll see you soon in the caucus states!  Maine, Colorado, and Nevada.  Remember, Paul can turn them out in the caucus states.

You have to admire a guy who, at his age, still gets so enthusiastic when he talks about LIBERTY!  there’s nothing phony about this guy.

who are the kids in suits behind him?  Notice his stage is filled with young people.

We want our freedoms back – we don’t want more government!

Ok, where do things stand?  The results tonight will certainly lead the Republican establishment to renew their efforts to get Republicans to rally behind Mitt.  And while it is true that this was always Mitt’s state to lose, the fact is he did not lose it – in fact he brought everything to bear in a concerted effort to drive Newt from the race.  I thought Mitt’s debate performances, while not flawless, at least reflected a strategy designed to crush his primary opposition.  Make no mistake about, tonight’s decisive win validated that strategy.  The biggest surprise (to me) tonight is how much Paul underperformed, presumably because about 5% of his support went to Mitt.  But, in the end, tonight also shows that Mitt has not closed the deal with the Tea Party/conservative wing of the party.  And that means if Gingrich stays in, he is going to win a significant chunk of delegates – not enough to take the lead, but enough to prevent Romney from closing this out.  And that’s even if Santorum stays in the race.

What helped Romney tonight was his support among Hispanics….that was a surprise to me.

OK, I’ll be watching the post-Florida spin with the obligatory celebratory scotch.  Couple of things to keep in mind: the pundits will push the “race is over” theme tomorrow quite heavily. Don’t be fooled – this is a decisive Romney victory, but it is not unexpected, and it doesn’t really change the overall dynamics of the race, although it will change the media narrative still again.

One other thing: by my rough estimate, turnout is actually down a bit from 2008.  Not the best sign for Mitt, particularly when turnout broke records when Newt won in South Carolina.  I’ll run the numbers in a bit.

@Chris who wants to play the VP game.  I have to think Rick Perry is VP material, if for no other reason than he brings money, organization and Texas into play.  Although Texas is likely solidly Republican anyway.

Turnout in 2008 for the Republican primary was 1.9 million.  Tonight appears closer to 1.7 million (that’s a rough guessestimate).  So Mitt didn’t excite the base here.

Talking heads are playing up Newt’s lack of graciousness in not congratulating Mitt.  I addressed this earlier – I think the explanation is simple: Newt is pissed at the personal nature of Mitt’s attacks on him.  The gloves are off on both sides.

Ok, I have to write a short piece for U.S. News tomorrow regarding this question: is Newt hurting or helping Republicans by staying in this race?  Thoughts?

I have said all along that an extended race will make Romney a stronger nominee because it gives him a chance to respond to attacks on his record, it strengthens his debating skills, and it generally exposes him to the types of attacks he’s going to get from Democrats.   But that assumes he wins the nomination!  Strictly speaking, of course,  Gingrich staying in the race doesn’t help Romney because it prevents him from cinching the deal.  But my assumption is whoever the winner is, he benefits from enduring the gauntlet that is an extended nomination process.

Ok, with 95% of the vote in, it looks like Romney is going to take this by about 46%-32%, with Santorum at 13% and Paul at 7% .  As I noted above, Romney is doing about 5% better than I anticipated, and Paul about 3% less. I pretty much nailed Gingrich and Santorum’s totals.  I have to think that some of the expected Paul voters went to their second choice Romney in a state that Paul did not contest. Otherwise no real surprises tonight.

I’ll be on tomorrow with an update on the final vote returns and an analysis of the talking heads.  Looks like the election news will slow for a bit as the candidates regroup.  But keep in mind the Nevada caucuses on Saturday and then the Super Bowl on Sunday.  I’ll have my projections for both…… .



Who Will Win Florida? Five Aspects of Today’s Vote That Matter

It’s primary day in Florida, polls opened at 7 a.m. and voting is underway. If the polls are correct, there’s not much suspense regarding who will be the winner tonight: Romney is going to claim victory.  The only question is by how much.  The most recent poll, by Public Policy Polling, has Romney up 8%, 39-31%, over Gingrich, with Santorum at 15% and Paul trailing the field with 11%.  Romney’s margin is actually smaller in the PPP poll than in most recent surveys, most of which have Romney up by double-digits.

As always, I’ll have my prediction below.  Please, no wagering at home.  I’m a professional.  But in addition to who wins, and by how much, there are a couple of other aspects of today’s vote that are of interest.  First, how much Tea Party support does Romney get?  Similarly, can he win over evangelicals?  On the other side, does Gingrich show any sign of closing the gender gap?  And what is the split between Cuban Hispanics and non-Cuban Hispanics?  The exit polls should be interesting, and I’ll be live blogging tonight when the polls close at 7 p.m. with an early analysis.

In the meantime, here are some other aspects of today’s vote to keep in mind.

1. There are 50 delegates at stake – half the normal total as a result of the penalty the national Republican Party imposed on Florida for moving their primary day forward in the calendar against party rules.  In theory, this is a winner-take-all state.  But, as Andy Rudalevige points out, there have been some suggestions by the Santorum camp that this violates party rules, and that the delegates should instead be divvied up in some proportional method.  For now, however, I’m assuming Romney will pick up all 50 delegates.

2. Remember that Florida spans two times zones – most of it is in the eastern time zone but the western panhandle extends into central time.  This time difference caused a problem in 2000 when the networks prematurely called Florida for Al Gore while the panhandle was still voting. To this day Bush supporters claim that cost him enough votes so that he failed to win Florida convincingly.  I’m not sure how the networks will handle this tonight, but you can be sure they will be under immense pressure to leak exit polls and call the state at 7 p.m. if, as expected, Romney has a big lead.

3. Note that roughly 35% of the vote already came in before today, and most of that went to Romney. According to PPP, he leads the already-voted category by a substantial 45-32%, but among those yet to vote the race is much closer, with Romney only up 36-30%.  This may be what is accounting for the differences in polls.   It does suggest that Romney’s organizational advantage came into play here, as he was better able to get his supporters to vote early.

4. Turnout demographics matter.  Romney has strong support among the 65-and-over voters, and among women.  He leads Gingrich among women by 12%, but only by 5% among men.  Although some polls indicate Cuban Americans are supporting Gingrich, in total a plurality of the Hispanic vote has been supporting Romney.  Gingrich beats Romney by 8% among Tea Party voters, but is losing badly among the non-Tea Party group. So, the final margin will be determined by the relative turnout of these different groups.

5. The debates were likely not as good for Romney or as bad for Gingrich as the punditocracy suggests.  Among those who watched the debates, Gingrich and Romney are actually tied, according to PPP, at 36%.  Among those who did not (a bit more than 40% of respondents), Romney leads by almost 20%.  Of course, this surely reflects some self-selection among viewers, with Gingrich supporters perhaps more likely to tune in to see their boy administer the expected whipping to Romney.

So, with that in mind, here is my prediction.  Just a reminder – this is not based on any forecasting model; it’s all seat of the pants guesstimating:

                Romney 41%

                Gingrich 33%

                Santorum 14%

                Paul  10%

I’ll be on shortly before  7 Eastern Time.  As always, I invite you to join in.  It should be an early night, but there’s always some excitement to be had.

Is Gingrich Gaining? Rage Against The Machine!

An article in the online website TheHill this morning suggests that Newt Gingrich is narrowing the gap with Mitt Romney in Florida, one day ahead of that state’s crucial primary.  It bases that assertion on the two most recent polls that have Romney’s lead over Gingrich down to single digits.  The first poll, by InsiderAdvantage, has Romney beating Gingrich by just 4.6%,  35.7-31.1%, with Santorum and Romney back in the pack at about 12%. The second  poll, PublicPolicyPolling’s daily tracker, has Romney up 7%, 39-32.  That’s not much of a change from the previous PPP tracking poll – but it does show a closer race than the double-digit lead almost every other poll has given Romney in previous days.

Even if Gingrich is enjoying a late surge in Florida, however, it will almost surely be too little, too late, given that about a third of polling respondents say they have already voted, and among those Romney leads by double-digits, at about 45-33%.  That means Gingrich is going to have to beat Romney by some 5% or more in votes cast tomorrow just to pull even. At this point, I don’t see that happening.

If the race is tightening, however, it may at least make tomorrow a more eventful day (and even worth live blogging!)  But why would Gingrich suddenly reverse a week-long trend in which every poll consistently showed Romney’s lead growing into double digits?  Without a sufficient explanation, I tend to think the InsiderAdvantage poll is an outlier.  Note that it shows Gingrich beating Romney among Hispanics, 42.4-29%, something I haven’t seen in any other Florida poll this week; they all show Romney winning the Hispanic vote.  Moreover, PPP has consistently shown this to be a closer race than have the other surveys, and in this sense their latest poll suggests no real change.

Of course, if Gingrich is closing the gap, he might have to thank everyone’s favorite Mistress of the Moose Sarah Palin.  As she did before the South Carolina primary, the former Alaskan Governor has been on the air in the last several days urging voters to prolong the Republican vetting process by voting for Gingrich in Florida.  Saturday on Fox’s Jeannine Pirro show Palin told viewers to: “rage against the machine at this point in order to defend our republic and save what is good and secure and prosperous about our nation…We need somebody who is engaged in sudden and relentless reform and is not afraid to shake up the establishment. So, if for no other reason, rage against the machine, vote for Newt, annoy a liberal, vote Newt, keep this vetting process going, keep the debate going.”  Although she stopped short of formally endorsing Gingrich’s candidacy (something her husband Todd has already done), it’s clear she is uncomfortable with the pressure the Republican establishment has been exerting to close ranks behind Mitt.

With Herman Cain’s endorsement of Newt yesterday, following Rick Perry’s before the South Carolina primary, it is clear that Newt has positioned himself to become the Tea Party populist anti-establishment candidate.  There is more than a little irony in this, given that Gingrich spent the bulk of his political career in Washington, DC, including four years as House Speaker.  That’s about as establishment as one can get.  And yet it is a reminder that much of the Tea Party remains deeply skeptical of Romney, who they view as closely linked to the economic Wall St. royalists that they associate with the housing market collapse/bank bailout.  For his part, Gingrich has been only too happy to adopt the insurgent’s role, no matter how against type he would appear to be.  Whether it will be enough to keep his candidacy going remains to be seen. It depends, in part, on whether Santorum will drop out and, if so, does he follow Perry and Cain and endorse Newt?  (Although I should note that in Florida, at least, at least half of Santorum’s supporters list Mitt as their second choice!)

What about it Rick?  Will you rage against the machine and testify on Newt’s behalf?


The Real Reason Romney Surged In Florida

Against the backdrop of three polls released today showing Mitt Romney with a double-digit lead in Florida, the New York Times ran this story purporting to show how a change in campaign tactics resurrected the Romney campaign, which had faltered in South Carolina. According to Romney aides, the key to Romney’s resurgence was a change in tactics designed to attack Gingrich’s vulnerabilities and rattle him psychologically. The authors, Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny, write: “The results of that strategy, carried out by a veteran squad of strategists and operatives assembled by Mr. Romney to deal with just this kind of moment, have been on striking display here. By this weekend, Mr. Romney’s aides were on the offensive and increasingly confident, with some combination of their strategy and Mr. Gingrich’s own performance swinging polls in Mr. Romney’s direction.”

The Times story fits with the media’s more general tendency to emphasize candidate tactics and personalities as the primary influences on electoral outcomes, but as with most of these stories, it incorrectly downplays the more important factors that are behind Romney’s Florida lead.  The first, of course, is demographics.  Florida is not a typical southern state.  Indeed, as I noted in an earlier post, more than half of likely Republican voters there do not consider themselves “southern”.   Many, in fact, are transplanted New Englanders with moderate political leanings closer to that of New Hampshire voters.

Romney also leads Gingrich among Florida’s sizable Hispanic population, 52-28%, despite the harsh rhetoric he has employed regarding restricting illegal immigration. (In 2008 Hispanics made up 12% of the Florida vote.) The reason is that the immigration issue is much less salient among Puerto Ricans and Cubans, the two largest elements in Florida’s Hispanic population. Puerto Ricans, as U.S. citizens, can settle in any state, and Cubans benefit from the U.S. policy that gives them a pathway to citizenship if they make it to American soil.  So for most Hispanics, the issue driving their vote is the economy, and Romney does well among them on this point.

Although Gingrich continues to beat Romney among Tea Party supporters, at about 30% they are a smaller group, proportionally, than they were in South Carolina. Finally, Romney consistently runs stronger than Gingrich among older voters, who – at almost 40% of likely Republican voters – constitute a much bigger slice of the electorate in Florida than in other states.

For demographic reasons alone, then, it would have been a major upset if Gingrich had won here. Although he led in the initial polls coming out of South Carolina, that was before Florida voters began zeroing in on the race and actively engaging in deliberation between the candidates.  Any hope that Gingrich might parley his South Carolina success into a victory here was probably squashed by the second most important factor influencing election outcomes:  money.  Between his campaign and the SuperPacs buying ads on his behalf, Romney has outspent Gingrich on advertising alone in Florida by about $15 million to $3 million. In a state this large and diverse, where retail politics is a lot less practical, it becomes difficult to overcome that disparity in spending.  And Gingrich didn’t.

In the Times article, much is made about how a change in debate coaches and superior opposition research enabled Romney to blunt Gingrich’s previous advantage in these events.  Although the debates certainly didn’t help Gingrich, there’s not any evidence that they contributed to Romney’s polling surge either. In fact in this NBC/Marist College poll Romney actually lost support after Thursday’s debate; his lead over Gingrich remained essentially unchanged because Gingrich also saw his support drop by about the same 3-4%.  If anyone benefited from the debate, it was Santorum who gained 5% in the polls.

All this is not to say the change in Romney’s demeanor and tactics had no influence on the polling in Florida. Along with the orchestrated attacks on Gingrich from leading Republicans, ranging from John McCain to Bob Dole, it probably had some marginal impact.  But it almost certainly was not as big as the front page story in the New York Times would have one believe. And it serves as a reminder that you should be skeptical when the Times and other major news outlets begin dusting off their Romney inevitability stories after Tuesday.  As always, there will be the results, and there will be what the punditocracy say are the results.  The two are not the same.

But He Doesn’t Play Defense, and He Won’t Sign Autographs

In my focus on the Republican primary race, I’ve neglected a number of other important stories involving presidential politics, including this one. On January 18, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that she was appointing basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the State Department’s global Cultural Ambassador.   In his new role Abdul-Jabbar will travel the world, leading “conversations with young people on the importance of education, social and racial tolerance, cultural understanding, and using sports as a means of empowerment. In addition, he will participate in basketball clinics with young people…  .”

Abdul-Jabbar as global Cultural Ambassador?  Is this really a wise move?

Look, this man is undoubtedly one of the greatest players of all time.  He is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, averaged almost 25 points per game, and his sky hook is probably the most devastating basketball shot ever devised.

But cultural ambassador? It’s not coincidence that Abdul-Jabbar has been unable to land an NBA coaching job since retiring. He’s simply not well liked.  Much of it is his own doing.  His celebrated teammate Earvin “Magic” Johnson recalls that while a teenager, he once sought Abdul-Jabbar’s autograph after a basketball game.  Johnson remembered that although Abdul-Jabbar signed, he “was so dismissive that Johnson felt horribly slighted and brooded all the way back to his home in Lansing.”   In his joint memoir with Larry Bird (as told to former Boston Globe columnist Jackie MacMullan in the classic When the Game Was Ours), Johnson  remembers, “Thank God Kareem was my teammate, because I used to cringe at the way he treated people….Sometimes he’d have people in tears.  It’s hurt him now that he’s done playing.”   Indeed it has. In recent years, Abdul-Jabbar has complained about a number of perceived slights, including the Laker’s failure to honor him with a statue outside the Staples Center where the Lakers play their home games.

It’s not like this is a state secret – Abdul-Jabbar’s prickliness has long been known.   Consider this clip, from early in his career, in a role very similar to that of cultural ambassador.  Does he strike you as a man qualified to deal with young people?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar:  He won’t play defense.  And he doesn’t sign autographs.