Category Archives: Republican Party

NRSC playing in Missouri?

I opened a fundraising letter today from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, signed by Chairman John Cornyn of Texas. It’s focus is on “defeating Barack Obama and winning a Senate Majority in the 2012 Elections.”

While the appeal does not cite Todd Akin or any other GOP senate candidate by name, it notes that …”Missouri has a nationally targeted Senate race this year. …. And with Missouri’s seat currently held by a Democrat, we want to make absolutely sure we have the resources necessary to put that seat in the GOP column.”

There’s no commitment in the letter that that the NRSC will play in Missouri and help out Todd Akin beat Claire McCaskill – actually I’m not even sure that legally they could make make that kind of statement. But it’s interesting that they’re citing the state’s race when asking rank and file Missouri Republicans for for dollars.

I’d call that a little bit cynical (i.e. politics as usual) – unless the committee is still open to the idea of putting money in the state later if the race looks winnable.

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Filed under Missouri Senate Race, Republican Party

Dems unload on potential VP picks

Democrats have unloaded opposition research profiles on three key potential Republican running-mates of presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The ABC News Blog reported the story yesterday morning, which shows up on the Drudge Report today.

The American Bridge 21st Century SuperPac – the official dirt-digging machine of the Democratic party – launched a website yesterday detailing the supposed dastardly deeds of Ohio Senator Rob Portman, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio. VeepMistakes also casts Romney as the less-than-enthusiastic choice of Republicans, and reminds us all that Sarah Palin was on the ticket in 2008.

Wow. I’m underwhelmed.

Whats interesting, though, is the timing. It’s speculated Romney will announce a running-mate soon, possibly even this week. Those kinds of suggestions usually rely on a stray story here and there, but mainly all it takes is a look at the calendar to know that an announcement can’t be too far away. (For reference, in 2008 Obama announced Biden on August 22nd, McCain announced Palin August 29th. Four years before, Kerry announced Edwards on July 6th. In 2000, Bush announced Cheney on July 25th, Gore tapped Lieberman August 13th.)

It’s clear Democrats published these dossiers now to influence media coverage of the expected announcement. It’s also interesting that they put out the longest report for the potential pick with the shortest public record – Rubio. Either they really believe it’s going to be him, or he’s the candidate they most fear.

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Filed under 2012 Presidential Election, Republican Party

Pawlenty, anyone?

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty makes a great presidential primary candidate, writes Stanley Curtz at The Corner of National Review Online. He says that it’s time to take a look at Pawlenty, even if by name-ID alone he may not currently be a top-tier candidate.

I’ll take Curtz up on it. The GOP contest is only just now picking up steam, and the field is broad but deep only in a few places. That is, there seems to be only a few very serious candidates. I don’t know Pawlenty’s record in detail, but at this stage in the game he deserves a look. At a minimum, he won office twice as a red governor in a blue state, and earned a reputation for fiscal responsibility in the process.

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Filed under 2012 Presidential Election, Republican Party

On the GOP side in 2012…

Chris Cillizza writes in The Washington Post about four potential dark horse candidates for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. It’s early, but of course the official season started in earnest the day after the midterms. His mentions, and my comments:

Rick Santorum – Yes, Santorum might very well run, and surely wants to. I don’t think he would win, however, and he would not be the right nominee. He’s too narrowly focused on social issues, and lacks resonance with voters beyond his natural constituency.

Mike Pence – Pence could decide to run as well, and certainly if not this time then at some point in the future. It could be the year for a guy like Pence, however, if 2012 proves to be another change cycle. He could legitimately run as an outsider, while still presenting the substance and style desired in a presidential candidate by the electorate.

Scott Brown – No way. Fun to think about – if for nothing else but the novelty of the idea – but only for about one second. There’s no way he’d do it, and no way he’d win. He simply doesn’t have the experience, the network, or anything else to make that even a realistic possibility to consider.

Marco Rubio – Again, no way. He’s an attractive figure within the party and his star is rising to be sure, but it’s simply not his time, and he’s smart enough to understand that. The only caveat I’d add is that many potential GOP nominees would certainly take a look at him for the VP slot.

Personally, I still like Mitt Romney, both as my personal choice of those who have all but declared, and as the odds-on favorite to take the nomination. If Pence jumps in the field, I’d be compelled of course to take a very serious look at him. As you know, I’ve long been a fan of the Congressman from Indiana. He starts behind Romney in name ID and money, but projects a personal authenticity and warmth that could compensate for that in a race to attract the attention and support of primary voters.

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Filed under 2012 Presidential Election, Republican Party

Sarah Palin in Iowa

The Des Moines Register reports that Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) will visit the state later this month to appear at Iowa Republicans’ annual Reagan Day dinner. Drudge screams the headline: LOOK WHO’S GOING TO IOWA!

Obviously, Palin has been considered a potential contender in 2012 ever since at least the end of the 2008 campaign. I’ve got to say, however, that some of her moves have suggested to me that she’s not serious about being a candidate. Resigning as governor, becoming a tv commentator, and the general, well, un-presidentialness of her overall routine. On the other hand, she’s also come out with a book and been making candidate endorsements, exactly the type of thing a contender would do.

Whether or not Palin runs, the Iowa trip guarantees her one thing, and that is publicity. Buzz. No one ever became president, sold a book or propelled a movement without it. It keeps her in the game, keeps her viable, whether she wants to run, or thinks she may want to run, or doesn’t want to run but simply wants to stay in the game.

Here’s the thing. Palin continues to be a lightening rod. A kind of cultural Rorschach test. She’s going to generate controversy, and I don’t think she particularly minds that. Indeed, sometimes she seems to welcome it. Critics have attempted, at times rather cheaply or unfairly, to make her into a controversial figure, but so it always is in politics.

Through the tremors and aftershocks of the last presidential election, Sarah Palin has revealed social faultlines of the American electorate, and may soon fully reverberate into the nominating base of the Republican Party. My caution to my party is that we must now brace ourselves and be prepared. We will need to do so if we’re to remain a house united, fixed on firm foundations, standing strong now and for the future.

This means we need to actually be thoughtful about who Sarah Palin is, and what she means. Why she has struck a chord. Actually, understanding Sarah Palin and her significance to the GOP requires asking the same five questions in any story: Who, Why, What, Where, and When? I won’t try to answer all of those at the moment, but my guess is that each of them would tell us something interesting.

What I’d simply like to get out there right now is that we’ll need to be mindful of these things as we discuss our nomination process moving forward. With any figure like Sarah Palin, it becomes too easy simply to love her or hate her. To become a fanatic or regard her supporters with contempt. And we need to not do that. We need to be civil and reasonable and producive.

The fact is, even though I’m not a Sarah Palin fan – that is, I don’t favor her for the Republican Party presidential nomination – I recognize what she’s got going for her, and I can understand and empathize with those who support her. That includes a sense of genuine respect for Palin and her supporters. I’ve mentioned before on this blog a few of the things I like about Palin: she is devoted to family, as a wife to her husband and a mother to her five children; she is an energetic and ambitious person, savvy enough to become governor of a consequential state in the union; she clearly has charisma and an outgoing personality that tends toward good cheer and optimism; she also has some sensible positions on some of the political issues of the day, and has been honest, open and resolute in relating those positions to the public.

However, I’ll say again that I do not, under any current circumstance, believe that Sarah Palin is by any means the best qualifed person to lead either the Republican Party or the United States of America. She simply lacks the sort of intellectual formation that I would want to see in a partisan and national leader. I’m not saying she’s unintelligent, but I don’t see a good grasp of the issues or the policy process, or a well cultivated political philosophy. I also simply don’t think she relates well to the broader electorate, and along with some other commentators (Bill Maher, I’m thinking?), I have a problem with some of her rural/small town = “real America” rhetoric (just like I had a problem with John Edwards‘ “two America” thesis).

Again, though, the point right now is that we need to understand this potential candidate and why she may resonate with some voters. Many people simply like Sarah Palin. They relate to her. They can identify with her. She connects with them. She’s one of them. And she is an embodying expression of their values and way of life, or at least a way of life that they can understand and appreciate.  She sticks to her guns on many of the issues that are important to them, which happen to include, well, guns. What else do you hope for in a politician?

Anyway. I’ve gone on too long. But my hope is truly that within the GOP, if Sarah Palin continues to look like a candidate, that we can have a reasonable discussion and not tear each other into shreds over this one personage. People always ask me what I think about Sarah Palin. I always say roughly the same thing: Great woman, not likely a great president. I think at their most honest, both supporters and detractors would have to acknowledge that there’s something to this. Maybe in that sense, Sarah Palin can bring us all together.

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Filed under 2012 Presidential Election, Conservative Movement, Republican Party

The New York Times “political memo”

The New York Times is America’s newspaper of record, and a venerated journalistic establishment. It is wrapped up in the country’s history, and has contributed greatly to the development of a free press and maintenance of an open society. Some fellow conservatives will wonder why I would make such remarks about The Old Grey Lady. I make them because The New York Times – which has earned more Pulitzer Prizes than any other publication – retains one of the strongest, most important news gathering operations in the world.

I also make such remarks because I want it to be understood that I appreciate the original reporting by the Times, even though my main point today is to call attention to another potential source of bias in its coverage of domestic political affairs. That is the “POLITICAL MEMO,” the headline of which appears just above the front-page fold in today’s print edition of the newspaper. Without noticing the small special heading of the article (can I call it an “article?”), I started reading the piece and began to shake my head at some of the writer’s subjective characterizations of the U.S. Senate race in Florida.

In the Republican primary, it is speculated that former front-runner Gov. Charlie Crist may leave the party to run as an independent, leaving Marco Rubio, who surged over a number of months to overtake Crist in popularity, to claim the nomination. Using words like “independent,” “moderate,” “pragmatic,” “outsider” and party “pariah” to portray Crist in the first several paragraphs, writer Damien Cave then drops these couple of gems into the piece:

“If he chooses to run as an independent, Mr. Crist would be betting that the prevailing political logic of the moment is wrong – that despite the Tea Party’s rise, the broader electorate still wants the pragmatic apporach that propelled Barack Obama to victory here.

“Leading a campaign that would most likely lack major fund-raising and a party’s street-level support, Mr. Crist would be running in the hope of turning out ‘the silent majority’ that Richard M. Nixon identified in 1969.” [Emphasis added].

Wow. Obama displayed a “pragmatic approach” in the campaign and the great “silent majority” could just usher in the maverick moderate Charlie Crist into the United States Senate. Obviously, the tone being established is that Crist, the moderate, is naturally cast off by an immoderate Republican Party, etc, etc, etc. Yes, Crist is to the left of Rubio, but what exactly makes him a “moderate?” The fact that he recently vetoed a teacher performance pay bill? That doesn’t seem moderate to me, that seems “liberal.”

In any event, this is about the time I re-scanned the headline to check what type of piece I was reading. I was expecting “news analysis” or something like that. But I got “political memo,” in small caps. What gives? When did the Times start with the political memos, can anyone tell me? Maybe they’ve been around for a while, maybe not. The point is that the more material like this becomes part of the news pages, the more reporter/editor bias you’re going to get. At the Times, on a piece like this, that means liberal political bias.

This is all part of the game schema coverage that we’re treated to non-stop every campaign year. The horse-race coverage. The endless who’s-up, who’s-down, political analysis of election campaigns and the like. It’s in the same vein as the larger, longer trend of interpretative reporting of the news and political news in particular. On television, for example, we used to see politicians talk uninterrupted for dozens of seconds, maybe even minutes. Now, the average campaign sound bite on the news is in the neighborhood of eight seconds.

I need to wrap it up, but I may try to revisit this sometime soon. Would love to hear anybody’s thoughts on it, particularly any journalists or political operatives out there. When newspapers start publishing “political memos,” is that an excuse to write a horse-race piece and not worry too much about any bias that shows up, or is it a legitimate opportunity to delve into the type of political analysis that many readers demand and deserve?

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Filed under 2010 Senate Elections, Journalism, Media, Media Bias, Republican Party

Hmm…interesting

Governor Tim Pawlenty recently sent out a fundraising email noting his support for the U.S. Senate campaign of former Congressman (as well as U.S. Trade Rep. and OMB chief) Rob Portman, in addition to congressmen from the Minnesota governor’s home state.

Where is Portman from? Ohio. This is common for PACs to give money to competitive canidates in critical seats, but I hear that state has some sway in presidential elections.

~ H.A.

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Filed under 2012 Presidential Election, Republican Party