Hey, remember when passage of immigration reform was a certainty, and lawmakers skeptical of the whole legislative contraption could either get on the fast-moving train or get run over by it? Apparently not anymore:
The White House and its immigration reform allies are banking on the August recess as their next — and possibly last — major opportunity to compel House Republicans to act.
With the issue stalled in the House, the monthlong congressional break is the linchpin of a campaign that President Barack Obama, Senate immigration leaders and a broad coalition of groups now expect they’ll have to wage through the end of the year. They realize they must make progress in the next month to stand any chance of keeping the issue alive into the fall.
“We’re not winning this fight,” Sen. John McCain, a Gang of Eight leader, told POLITICO Wednesday. “They are mounting a better campaign than we are — the opposition is.”
The problem with launching a public pressure campaign on lawmakers during the August recess is that the country as a whole is generally off on vacation.
. . . when you consider how the issue is covered — how a path to citizenship is usually treated as humane and natural and just and with few or no drawbacks, and opponents are usually described as xenophobic or racist, and how even the term “illegal immigrant” has been declared too controversial for the AP — doesn’t a 55–41 split actually seem a bit low?
On those last two questions . . . did 11 percent think that 20,000 border agents and 700 miles of fence along the border with Mexico would be cheap?
When I asked him if “these guys” — having just mentioned Amash, Cruz and Paul by name — are a “positive force” in the GOP, McCain paused for a full six seconds.
“They were elected, nobody believes that there was a corrupt election, anything else,” McCain said. “But I also think that when, you know, it’s always the wacko birds on right and left that get the media megaphone.”
Plus, those “wacko birds” keep smashing down the little structures he built for the eggs:
McCain has a point; they go way too far on defense cuts, particularly their recommendation to replace our nuclear arsenal with a giant slingshot.
Campaign Spot reader Michael writes in, having examined the claim of the missing Republican voters — the drop-off from McCain’s 2008 total to Romney’s 2012. Immediately after the election, many were left incredulous in response to the apparent news that Romney received 3 million fewer votes than McCain did.
As more and more states have counted their absentees and reported 100 percent of precincts, the numbers are less shocking. Michael points to Dave Leip’s Atlas of US Presidential Elections and calculates the drop off is now only 479,000.*
Most intriguingly, many of those missing McCain voters may have voted in 2012, but this time for the Libertarian party’s nominee, Gary Johnson.
From 2008 to 2012, those voting for the Democratic ticket dropped from 69.49 million to 63.16 million, a drop of 6.3 million.
From 2008 to 2012, those voting for the Republican ticket dropped from 59.95 million to 59.47 million, a drop of just over 479,000.
From 2008 to 2012, those voting for the Libertarian ticket increased from 523,433 to 1.22 million, a jump of just over 700,000.
(* UPDATE: The great Dave Wasserman offers a spreadsheet with numbers updated day by day. Obama is up to 63.8 million votes, Romney is up to 59.87 million votes. This would have Romney down only 120,000 from McCain’s vote total, while Obama is 5.69 million behind his 2008 total.)
The irony is that at least at first glance, the Romney-Ryan ticket would appear more appealing to libertarian-leaning voters than McCain-Palin: No author of a restrictive campaign-finance law atop the ticket, a more sustained focus on cutting government, a nominee who opposed the bailout of General Motors (and paid a dear price for that stand in key states), and certainly a less interventionist tone than McCain offered in 2012.
This is the sort of time where someone traditionally offers a “How the GOP Can Win Back the Libertarians” op-ed. (Note that the popular vote margin for Obama was 3.69 million, so the Libertarian vote did not make up the difference, just about a third of it.) But I suspect that if you voted Libertarian this cycle, you’re a pretty hard-core Libertarian, and unlikely to be won over by any half-measures the GOP might offer in the near future. Considering how there was little dispute that another four years of Obama would mean another four years of government growing bigger and taking a more active role in citizens’ lives, and how no one really thought Johnson would win, it would appear that the 1.22 million Libertarian voters were content to “send a message” with their votes . . . a message that will now be almost entirely ignored in Washington.
It’s their right; every vote has to be earned, and surely a Romney presidency would have offered its own disappointments to the Libertarian worldview. But it may be a continuing liability for the GOP that roughly 1 percent of the electorate believes strongly in limited government, but votes in a way that does not empower the GOP to do anything to limit that government.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport, N.C. — The news travels on two tracks; the lightning-fast express lane for news junkies like us, plugged into blogs, Twitter, and so on, and the meandering scenic route for everyone else.
There aren’t that many undecided, apolitical news junkies. We know what we think and why we think it, and most years we know exactly who we’re voting for in the general election quite early. Then there is everyone else — folks who may or may not vote in any given year, and who may make their decision based upon all kinds of factors — name recognition, an ad, the candidates’ appearance, just about anything.
The latter group doesn’t watch political conventions if they can help it, and they tune out most political speeches. Maybe something odd, unexpected and funny, like Clint Eastwood’s appearance, might break through to them. But if millions upon millions of television ads aren’t swaying these voters, it’s not likely that any of the speeches we’ve seen in the past two weeks will really move them. Not Paul Ryan’s description of the fading Obama posters and not Mitt Romney’s seemingly humble goal to help you and your family; not Bill Clinton’s epic-length discussion of every political topic under the sun, nor Vice President Biden’s whisper-SHOUT-whisper-SHOUT performance, nor the president’s speech last night.
And while this morning’s jobs report by itself won’t move the numbers — there’s been very little movement in the candidates’ polling after each month, whether the news is good or bad — it does reinforce the fundamental problem for President Obama: He was elected because of an economic crisis and rising unemployment, and his reelection is endangered because of a continuing economic crisis and continued high unemployment.
Remember, the McCain-Palin ticket had a lead in the RealClearPolitics average from September 7 to September 15. Everything Obama had done before — the victory over Hillary, the speech on race relations after the Jeremiah Wright controversy arose, the big crowd in Berlin, the stadium speech in Denver — all wiped away instantly by the Palin excitement. Voters weren’t in love with the then-mandate-free notion of Obamacare, or his foreign-policy vision, or the Biden pick, or anything else.
Then Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy, Obama took the lead, and didn’t look back. Voters may not have known precisely what was going on with the crisis on Wall Street, but they knew it happened on Bush’s watch, and that McCain had already admitted he wasn’t an economics guy. The GOP candidate’s sudden calling for the cancellation of the debates, and changing his mind two days later, didn’t reassure voters, either.
The voters turned to Obama because there was a big, big problem, and they wanted it fixed. While the details have changed a bit, as Wall Street seems much more stable, the economy hasn’t really recovered, particularly by the measurements of job creation, labor-force participation, wage growth, and disposable income.
As America’s most famous chair salesman said, 25 million Americans looking for work is a national disgrace. You don’t have to be a news junkie to come to that conclusion.
I’m inside the arena, watching from the press seating section.
Arizona senator John McCain may deserve a lot of grief for not running the all-out, no-quarter-asked-or-given campaign that a lot of conservatives wanted to see in 2008. But he was and is a decent man and a genuine hero.
Many have wondered, if President John McCain had taken the oath of office on January 20, 2009, would the Tea Parties have arisen? Would the country be in a dramatically better or dramatically worse position than it is now, or about the same?
Perhaps only the runaway liberalism offered by a newly inaugurated Barack Obama, a Speaker Pelosi with a wide majority, and a Senate majority leader Harry Reid with 59 votes, could awakening the fiscally conservative instincts of millions upon millions of Americans. Many Tea Partiers would undoubtedly prefer to devote their energies elsewher — to their families, to their businesses and careers, to lighter passions like sports and hobbies. Only the belief that the future of their country was at stake could stir them to take such impassioned, dedicated, continuing action.
UPDATE: McCain mentions that the Iranian protesters, during their uprising in 2009, chanted in English to Obama, “Are you with us, or with them?” Boy, does he relish showcasing the president’s hesitation and equivocation on dealing with the Iranian mullahs. Now he’s hammering Obama on his inaction over Syria.
Another reason to be skeptical of the D+19 polls, courtesy Gallup…
Eighty-six percent of voters who say they voted for Barack Obama in 2008 are backing Obama again this year, a smaller proportion than the 92% of 2008 John McCain voters who are supporting 2012 Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Nine percent of 2008 Obama voters have switched to supporting Romney this year, while 5% of McCain voters have switched to Obama.
The results are based on July 23-29 Gallup Daily tracking with more than 2,000 registered voters who reported voting in the 2008 election. Of these, 48% said they voted for Obama and 42% McCain, with the remaining 10% saying they voted for another candidate or not disclosing their vote choice. However, the six-percentage-point advantage in reported voting for Obama is similar to the actual seven-point edge he had over McCain in the final 2008 returns, 53% to 46%.
If you allocate Obama 86 percent of his 2008 total and 5 percent of McCain’s 2008 total, and allocate Romney 92 percent of McCain’s total and 9 percent of Obama’s 2008 total, you end up with a very, very narrow Obama lead: 47.8 percent to 46.8 percent.
For Romney, there is much work to be done in the next three months and change. But he’s getting there…
By the way… who are these five percent of McCain 2008 voters who are voting for President Obama?
According to a search of FEC contributor data, employees of the Internal Revenue Service have a strong preference in this year’s election. Donors who list their employer as “Internal Revenue Service” or “IRS” have donated $26,538 to President Obama’s campaign, and just $2,340 to Mitt Romney’s campaign.
In the 2008 cycle, IRS employees donated $101,884 to the Obama campaign and just $2,780 to the campaign of John McCain.
So the president’s advantage in campaign donations from employees of the nation’s tax-enforcement agency has dropped from about 37 to 1 to merely 11 to 1.
On September 15, 2008, John McCain said, “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” The Lehman collapse was in progress, and all of Wall Street was feeling intense anxiety, so there were many warning signs of economic trouble ahead. Having said, that, the unemployment rate then was 6.1 percent.
Nonetheless, the Obama campaign saw an opportunity, and pounced:
Today, addressing reporters, President Obama said, “The private sector is doing fine.”
U.S. employers added the fewest number of workers to their payrolls in a year last month, while companies including Tiffany & Co. (TIF) and mattress maker Tempur-Pedic International Inc. (TPX) cut their full-year forecasts. European policy makers are also struggling to resolve a crisis that has tipped at least eight of the 17 euro-area economies into recession. The U.S. presidential election is another area of concern, CEOs said.
“There are so many uncertainties,” said Jeffrey Joerres, CEO of Manpower (MAN), the Milwaukee-based provider of temporary workers. “If these uncertainties keep stacking up and none get resolved, we’ll see a hiring pause rather than the current slowdown.”
Supervalu Inc. (SVU)’s Albertsons grocery store chain said this week it will cut as many as 2,500 jobs. Hewlett-Packard has announced the biggest round of job cuts out of any U.S. company this year, at 27,000, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“The economy seems to be just sort of bouncing along,” Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman said in an interview this week. “It doesn’t seem to be getting significantly better.”
Employment concerns, coupled with sinking housing prices, have made U.S. consumers reluctant to undertake big-ticket home renovations, said Lowe’s Cos. Chairman and CEO Robert Niblock. Lowe’s, the second-biggest U.S. home-improvement retailer after Home Depot Inc. (HD), is eliminating more than 500 corporate positions through voluntary buyouts this year after cutting 1,700 store management jobs in 2011.
The Obama campaign asked, “How can McCain fix our economy if he doesn’t know it’s broken?” That question sure sounds relevant to the president today.
Over on the home page, I have an article on how the Romney campaign is counterpunching much faster in the early 2012 campaign than John McCain’s campaign did in the general election of 2008.
Two points to whet your appetite; first, a suggestion that there were points left unscored in the 2008 campaign, and the Obama campaign knew it:
The other side of the coin was that John McCain didn’t want to win the race by using any tactics he deemed “dirty campaigning.” John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s account of the 2008 race, Game Change, details how McCain was emphatic that Obama’s mentor, Jeremiah Wright, was off-limits, at the precise moment that the Obama camp was testing its own vulnerabilities in focus groups: “Dozens of Obama-funded faux negative ads against Obama were produced and tested: about Wright, [Bill] Ayers, Muslimism, the flag pin — the works. And some were devastatingly effective.”
And then a point about how the news cycle no longer stops in the early evening . . .
“Twitter has really quickened the news cycle,” says Ryan Williams, who worked for Romney in 2008 and is a spokesman for the current campaign. “You have to respond faster, and if you don’t respond faster, you’re going to lose. The Rosen thing broke at 9 o’clock at night on a Wednesday. This is a time when in previous cycles, you couldn’t move a story. It was after the evening news, after most of the papers had gone to print or were about to go to print, and you couldn’t get anything out there. Now with Twitter and everything, it’s completely different.”
The Romney campaign is approaching the coming weeks with a strategy of “bracketing” — doing events before and after key Obama campaign stops, making Obama’s message for that event implausible, refuted, and silly by the time he delivers his remarks. Before an Obama stop, Romney will do interviews with local radio stations. Last week Romney went to Charlotte, N.C., to give a “pre-buttal” to Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in September. Romney was supposed to speak on a rooftop with a view of the convention site, the Bank of America football stadium; bad weather forced his team indoors, and Romney spoke with the city skyline behind him.
Romney’s campaign bus has rolled around Ohio, stopping outside Obama and Biden events and bringing supporters to protest. In Lorain, Ohio, last week, Romney went to a closed factory that Obama had visited during the 2008 campaign. It’s still closed. “Had the president’s economic plans worked, it would have been open by now,” Romney said at the event. “But it is still empty. And it underscores the failure of this president’s policies with regards to getting the economy going again.” It was an echo of a similar speech by Romney at Allentown Metal Works, which shut its doors after an Obama visit in 2009. (With Solyndra, Ener1, Beacon Power, and Amonix, expect to see a lot of shuttered-factory visits in the months ahead.)
I point out some examples where the figures who lived the scenes the movie dramatizes contend the movie-makers are making things up:
Danny Strong, the actor who wrote the screenplay, told MSNBC, “We stand by the film as being completely accurate and truthful and representing what happened. It’s true. The movie’s true.”
Any film that portrays the events of months or years is going to truncate events, leave things out, and make other changes to fit the running time and pacing of a movie. But where the filmmakers really let their disdain for everyone involved in the McCain campaign seep through is in the scenes they added.
For example, one foreign-policy adviser shows Palin a map and declares, “This is Germany. They were the primary antagonists during World War I and World War II. They allied with Japan to form what became known as the Axis Powers.” A fascinated Palin dutifully writes it down. The scene does not appear in the Heilemann and Halperin book. This scene was the opening anecdote of the glowing review by Bloomberg. Foreign-policy analyst Randy Scheunemann, Palin’s primary adviser on these issues during the campaign, calls the scene “absolutely untrue.”
Told that none of the potential running mates his team has been discussing will help his trailing campaign, Ed Harris’s McCain responds, rather dismissively, “Okay, so find me a woman.” Those words never appear in the book, and Steve Schmidt has stated McCain never said that. (It’s a small point, but the usually solid actor Harris occasionally portrays McCain raising his arms over his head at campaign rallies, something that his war injuries make impossible for McCain to do.)
Harrelson’s Steve Schmidt watches Palin’s answers to Katie Couric’s questions and gasps, “Oh my God! What have we done?” That scene and those words do not appear in Heilemann and Halperin’s book, either.
You can’t invent scenes and quotes and then insist the film is “completely accurate and truthful.”
“The only specific scene that I have a problem with is when Julianne as the character Sarah mispronounced Jimmy Choo. It was only a small dramatic license, but that never happened, and they also portray Sarah as having fun with the clothing and the real Sarah took it more seriously,” Ms. Kline said in her appearance on “Sarah Palin Radio.”
Big deal, some may argue. But the film consists of the actors reenacting events we all witnessed live in 2008 — Palin’s debut, her convention speech, her debate with Biden — and then the “behind the scenes” moments are where we’re supposed to be getting “the real story.” Except that “the real story” isn’t the real story. It’s a tweaked version of the real story, where Palin is even less informed than the examples given in the book, McCain is less sympathetic, and so on.
So . . . what’s the point of a film that amounts to exaggerated nonfiction? Some would argue that most of the media provides that every day.
It seems strange to relitigate a fight from the 2008 GOP presidential primary, but perhaps many Republicans’ minds are on the notion of multiple conservative candidates dividing the vote in South Carolina, leaving the “Establishment” choice a path to victory.
Mike Huckabee said on Fox News yesterday that John McCain asked Fred Thompson to stay in the race in South Carolina, in order to divide the conservative vote. McCain beat Huckabee in South Carolina by 3 percentage points.
“John certainly encouraged Fred to stay in,” Huckabee said. “I think everyone understood, Fred knew he wasn’t going to get the nomination . . . Many people in the McCain camp have since confirmed, he said, ‘please stay in, I need you in South Carolina,’ primarily in the upstate where I had my strength, but you know, that’s politics. That’s what happens.”
“Minding my own business, having my second cup of coffee, contemplating the election in general terms and the future, and Mike wanted to revisit the campaign last time,” Thompson said, smiling. “What Mike said is fine, except for one thing: there’s not one shred of truth to it! Senator McCain and I never had a conversation about staying in the race, staying out of the race . . . Mike’s been around long enough to know not to inhale that stuff too deeply . . . It’s just a little rewriting of history that’s unnecessary.”
When Huckabee made his charge, he said it without any visible bitterness. Perhaps believing this claim is part of how Huckabee made his peace with the experience of running for president, enjoying some early victories, and then falling short. Even for the most thick-skinned and confident candidate, an electoral defeat must be an intensely personal rejection. After all, the name on the ballot isn’t your campaign manager, your advertising director, your press secretary, or anyone around you; it’s your name. So it’s not surprising that a candidate might look for some explanation that would shift the cause of the defeat from their own mistakes, missteps, or overall inability to persuade voters to some outside force or confluence of events.
People in politics, like people everywhere, often choose to believe conclusions that are convenient or reassuring and tend to ignore inconvenient facts and harder truths. The candidates who fail to win the Republican nomination in 2012 may very well conclude that their bid was unfairly impeded by the collusion of their foes. (Quite a few times on Twitter, I’ve seen Michele Bachmann referred to as a stalking horse for Mitt Romney, a surrogate attack dog who takes on the unpopular duties in exchange for reward later. But if she were an agent of the Romney campaign, why would she drop out so early? Why wouldn’t Romney keep her in the mix to attack his rivals to South Carolina and beyond?)
Well, here’s a development sure to irk backers of every Republican not named Chris Christie. A group of Iowa Republican donors is traveling to Trenton to, in effect, beg him to run for president:
Some of Iowa’s top Republican campaign contributors, unhappy with their choices in the developing presidential field, are venturing to New Jersey in hopes they can persuade first-term Gov. Chris Christie to run. The entreaty is the latest sign of dissatisfaction within the GOP over the crop of candidates competing for the chance to run against President Barack Obama in 2012.
Bruce Rastetter, an Iowa energy company executive, and a half-dozen other prominent Iowa GOP donors sought the meeting with Christie, the governor’s chief political adviser, Mike DuHaime, told The Associated Press. The get-together is set for the governor’s mansion in Princeton, N.J., on May 31.
“There isn’t anyone like Chris Christie on the national scene for Republicans,” Rastetter told the AP. “And so we believe that he, or someone like him, running for president is very important at this critical time in our country.”
Last cycle Rastetter gave the maximum $2,300 to Mitt Romney, then Rudy Giuliani.
Rastetter was the top fund-raiser for Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad last fall, and he was wowed by Christie when Christie appeared with Branstad last fall.
There’s not much doubt about how former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld feels about Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.). In Rumsfeld’s memoir, Known and Unknown, there are four references to McCain; all of them are negative.
Page 273, discussing the 2000 presidential race:
Throughout the early part of the year I watched Bush with interest as he racked up primary victories, including Senator John McCain of Arizona, a man with a hair-trigger temper and a propensity to fashion and shift his positions to appeal to the media.
Page 573, discussing Guantanamo Bay:
Despite the more than $500 million that U.S. taxpayers have invested in state-of-the-art facilities at Gitmo, and in operations there since 9/11, both of the 2008 presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama, pandered to popular misconceptions by promising to shut it down. . . . Years later, however, Guantanamo remains open, undoubtedly because the Obama administration, despite its promises, has not found a practical alternative. Eventually it may be closed, but it will be closed at great financial cost. More important, the problems Guantanamo was established to address will remain.
Page 634, discussing a controversy over U.S. payment to Uzbekistan for use of an air base to support the mission in Afghanistan, after an Uzbek government crackdown:
Some members of Congress began a campaign of condemnation of the Uzbek government. Two weeks after the events in Andijan, Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham traveled to the capital of Tashkent to deliver a public rebuke. “History shows that continued repression of human rights leads to tragedies like the one that just took place,” McCain lectured. Around the same time, I received a letter from McCain, cosigned by five other senators, insisting that America not pay the $23 million we owed the government from our military’s use of the Uzbek air base at K2. ‘Government security forces in the city of Andijan massacred hundreds of peaceful demonstrators,” they wrote. “We strongly object to making a payment to Uzbekistan at this time.”
I replied to the senators, “The bills we have from the Uzbeks are for services rendered in the war on terrorism. Our national policy, as a general rule, is to pay legitimate bills presented for goods and services by other nations.” Paying our bills, though occasionally politically difficult, was the right thing to do. What’s more, failing to pay for the services we had requested and received and the goods we consumed would send a harmful message to all of the other nations helping us that the United States could not be relied on.
Two months later, the Uzbek government told the U.S. it was no longer permitted to use the air base and U.S. forces would have to leave within six months.
Page 708, discussing the political environment after the 2006 midterm elections:
John McCain, in turn, was going to serve as ranking member of the Armed Services Committee. Without mentioning the president by name, he had been opportunistically undermining the administration’s policies in his quest for the Republican nomination for the presidency. It seemed to be his way of separating himself from President Bush and burnishing his image as a maverick without directly taking him on.
The new Congressional reapportionment numbers are out.
States gaining Congressional seats: Arizona (1), Florida (2), Georgia (1), Nevada (1), South Carolina (1), Texas (4), Utah (1), Washington (1).
States losing Congressional seats: Illinois (1), Iowa (1), Louisiana (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (1), Missouri (1), New Jersey (1), New York (2), Ohio (2), Pennsylvania (1).
You’ll notice John McCain won six five of the eight states gaining seats.
You’ll notice Barack Obama won eight of the ten states losing seats.
Regarding the redistricting in these states, there are a few points to mitigate GOP giddiness: 1) Some Republicans in somewhat safe seats will want to expand their cushion, and thus some district lines will not be drawn to maximize the total partisan gain. 2) When a person moves from, say, California, to Arizona or Nevada, they don’t always vote in line with the locals. In other words, when Democrats move from heavily-Democrat states to more Republican states, they sometimes turn red states purple. 3) People move over the course of the decade (sometimes in great numbers, like post-Katrina Louisiana) and their views change, so the impact of redistricting lessens over time.
The surge in Republican support, and GOP control of Florida and Texas is well-timed. They could or should take at least five of the six new seats.
Already there’s speculation that New Jersey mapmakers will target newly-elected Republican Jon Runyan.
There’s no way Massachusetts lawmakers can avoid pitting two Democrats against each other in a primary; their state’s delegation is all-Democrat. (Mike Memoli observes this is incentive for one of the current incumbents to run against Republican Scott Brown in the 2012 Senate race.)
UPDATE: If my math is correct, this moves six seats (and electoral votes) from Obama states to McCain states.
McCain states gain 8 seats (AZ, GA, SC, TX, UT) and lose 2 seats (LA, MO); Obama states gain 4 seats (FL, NV, WA) and lose 10 (IL, IA, MA, MI, NJ, NY, OH, PA).
Of course, there are a couple of states Obama won in 2008 that will probably be tough climbs in 2012, and Florida appears to be one of them.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Assume, for the sake of argument, that the 2012 Republican nominee wins a quartet of traditionally GOP-leaning states that Obama won in 2008: Virginia (13 electoral votes), Indiana (11 electoral votes), North Carolina (15 electoral votes) and Florida (now 29 electoral votes). Add in the one electoral vote in Nebraska that Obama won by 1.1 percent. Add in the six net votes from the 2008 McCain states, and that puts the Republican at 248 electoral votes, needing another 22.
Those 22 votes could be won in a variety of ways, but the most likely scenario would appear to be Ohio (18 electoral votes) and any other state (Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania).
Tomorrow is primary day in four states, and runoff elections occur in a fifth.
Alaska: The Senate GOP primary featuring Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Palin-backed Joe Miller is one of those races I’ve been meaning to take a look at, although it’s entirely possible — in fact, likely — that we’ll get the predictable win by the incumbent. There hasn’t been a ton of polling, and Alaska seems like one of the tougher states to poll; what little polling there is shows Murkowski ahead comfortably. It’s not unthinkable that Miller could get some traction, but it’s not yet clear that Alaska Republicans see Murkowski as an unacceptable squish on par with Arlen Specter or Charlie Crist. She has a lifetime ACU rating of 70. (The Power Line guys examined whether Murkowski rates as a “RINO” here.)
Arizona: Earlier this year, the John McCain-J. D. Hayworth fight in the Arizona Senate primary looked like one of this cycle’s clashes of the titans, but Hayworth hasn’t really been able to get within striking distance.
In Arizona’s 3rd congressional district, John Shadegg is retiring, and a crowd of Republicans (10!) seek to fill his shoes. The most famous name belongs to the son of a former vice president, with a rather odd commercial:
Somebody’s going to be sent to knock the hell out of Washington, but it’s probably going to be Pamela Gorman, Steven Moak, Paradise Valley mayor Vernon Parker, or former state senator Jim Waring. (If Gorman doesn’t win, the winner ought to hire her for security.)
In Arizona’s 8th, it’s a simpler but no less hard-fought GOP primary. Former state senator Jonathan Paton is the fund-raising leader and establishment choice, but Iraq War veteran Jesse Kelly is coming on strong. A mid-July poll showed Paton with a one-percentage-point lead over incumbent Democrat Gabrielle Giffords.
Florida: In the Sunshine State’s statewide races, we know four of the big six candidates. The Senate race will feature Republican Marco Rubio, independent Charlie Crist, and an underdog Democrat. Right now, that Democrat appears to be Kendrick Meek, who is coming back against Jeff Greene, who has spent a king’s ransom in his bid. (More on the impact of negative ads in that race here.)
In the governor’s race, the Democrat will be Alex Sink, the independent will be Lawton Chiles III, and the Republican will be either health-care executive and anti-Obamacare activist Rick Scott or state attorney general Bill McCollum. McCollum appears to be enjoying a surge, in the Mason-Dixon and the Quinnipiac poll.
There are a couple of interesting House primaries in Florida. In the 8th district, every Republican and their brother is itching to take on an infamous incumbent. The likely favorite is former state senator Daniel Webster (Republican–Winter Garden) but he’s facing a strong push from state representative Kurt Kelly (Republican–Ocala). The winner faces off against U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson (Troll–Daily Kos).
In the 24th district, incumbent Democrat Suzanne Kosmas looked beatable even before her vote for health-care reform and more job losses on Florida’s Space Coast. If former Ruth’s Chris steakhouse chain CEO Craig Miller wins the primary, I will require an immediate catered interview. A bit behind in fundraising are state representative Sandy Adams and Winter Park vice mayor Karen Diebel.
Oklahoma runoff: Republicans in two House districts will vote in runoffs. In the eastern 2nd district, Charles Thompson, Jr. received 34 percent in the July 27 primary; Daniel Edmonds received 28 percent. The winner takes on incumbent Democrat Dan Boren, a well-established conservative Democrat. However, in a year like this in a district that scores R+14, nothing is guaranteed.
In the Oklahoma City–based 5th district, the current congresswoman, Republican Mary Fallin, is running for governor; former state representative Kevin Calvey and James Lankford finished within two percentage points of each other in the primary’s first round and face off tomorrow for the GOP nomination. In this R+13 district, the winner will be heavily favored to win in November.
Vermont: There are five Democrats battling it out for their gubernatorial nomination; the GOP has avoided a primary and Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie will be the nominee.
Sen. Pat Leahy is up for reelection; Len Britton faces the tough task of trying to knock off the longtime incumbent.
Three times, in recent months, we’ve seen prominent Republican or conservative figures who disagree with Obama agree to attend events in which the president would be speaking to an audience.
Quite a few Supreme Court justices attended the State of the Union; Obama mischaracterized their recent campaign-finance decision and accused them of believing that “American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities.” The Democrats in the chamber leaped out of their seats and roared their approval of the in-person rebuke.
At the health-care summit, John McCain pointed out that the health-care bill’s creation process had not played out entirely before the C-SPAN cameras, as Obama had promised many times as a candidate; Obama dismissed his point as a losing candidate’s sour grapes, declaring, “John, we’re not campaigning anymore. The election is over.”
Obama inserted himself into one Michigan race Thursday, taking a shot at Rep. Peter Hoekstra, who is running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Obama welcomed Hoekstra during his opening remarks at the car battery plant here.
“There are some folks who want to go back, who think we should return to the policies that helped to lead to this recession,” Obama said later in his comments honoring an advanced car battery factory being built by the company LG Chem. “Some made the political calculation that it’s better to obstruct than lend a hand. They said no to the tax cuts, they said no to small-business loans, they said no to clean-energy projects. It doesn’t stop them from coming to ribbon-cuttings — but that’s okay.”
There’s a clear lesson here, and it’s that Obama really likes having his arguments in venues where his opponents can’t respond. If he sits down with a Bret Baier type, there’s too much chance for a follow-up question, or counter-evidence being presented, or Obama not winning. Metaphorically, it’s much easier to win a fistfight when your opponent’s arms are pinned down.
Joe Wilson broke decorum by yelling out “YOU LIE!” during the president’s speech. But the evidence suggests that’s the only way a counterargument would ever be presented to the president.
Hayworth is, to say the least, not obviously a more exemplary statesman than McCain. On one of the most pressing issues of the day — the need to control federal spending — McCain has had the better record. That Hayworth appeared in infomercials to tell people how to get “free money” from the government underscores the point rather emphatically.
If McCain had a different challenger, we might think differently. But, taken together, these considerations move us to suggest that Arizona Republicans nominate Senator McCain. If ever we needed legislators who favor a resolute foreign policy and budget restraint, that time is now.
A lot of McChrystal stuff in this morning’s Jolt, but a second look at what people are saying about one of the weirder political stories of the day:
Billy Mays, Vince Offer . . . J. D. Hayworth
Oh, J. D. Hayworth. What are we going to do with you?
Phil Klein: “I understand why many Arizona Republicans would want to dump John McCain for a more conservative Senator, but I’ve never understood those who argue that J. D. Hayworth is the conservative who should replace McCain. Hayworth, after all, was a top recipent of donations linked to corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and was a reliable vote for President Bush’s big government agenda. The weakness of Hayworth’s claim to be a small government conservative was brought into sharper focus with the release of this 2007 infomercial that Hayworth recorded for the National Grants Conference, which offers seminars on how to people can get free money from government through grants.”
Over at the Standard, John McCormick thinks this spells the end of a campaign that had gotten some traction but still trailed by a significant margin: “How long until the McCain campaign photoshops Hayworth’s head on Matthew Lesko’s body? More importantly, how does Hayworth survive this?”
The Left Coast Rebel is now contemplating a candidate with big round ears: “I am a diehard McCain hater so where does that put me? I’ll never forget 2007′s McCain/Bush/Kennedy amnesty among other McCain injustices. He should never be reelected even if that means writing in ‘Mickey Mouse’ instead.”
The Arizona Republicquotes a Hayworth spokesman as saying he only did one commercial, but I think one misstep is all it takes to do the damage. Put aside the claims that these seminars are a scam, charging folks $999 to $1,200 for publicly available information and greatly exaggerating the availability of the federal grants. The Hayworth campaign tells NRO the former congressman has no regrets. Really, J. D.? Really? Not one iota of contemplation that maybe a former United States congressman should not be appearing in ads telling people that the federal government is just full of money and that they should be asking for more of it, at least not if he ever plan on running for office again on a platform of controlling spending and fiscal conservatism?!?
Beyond that, the ad is so tacky it makes those “Real Housewives” series look classy. You’re a U.S. congressman, you’re supposed to be above these sorts of things. After you leave Congress, you’re supposed to make your money the old-fashioned, honest way: writing a book no one will read, teaching a class that is only for the most diehard of political geeks, trading on your connections with a fat-cat, Gucci-wearing lobbying firm, and in the case of former Ohio congressman Jim Traficant, making license plates. If we have congressman popping up in infomercials, next thing you know we’ll have the President of the United States appearing in commercials for late-night shows.
It appears the Senate campaign of J. D. Hayworth has hit a bump in the road. A big one:
Republican Senate challenger J. D. Hayworth appeared in a 2007 television infomercial in which he helped convince viewers that they could rake in big bucks by attending seminars that would teach them how to apply for federal grants that they wouldn’t have to pay back.
National Grants Conferences, the Florida-based company that hosted the classes and produced the informercial, has faced criticism from multiple state attorneys general and Better Business Bureaus. Hayworth, a former Arizona congressman who is running against incumbent Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in the Aug. 24 GOP primary, made the infomercial after losing his U.S. House seat in the 2006 election. References to his TV appearance on behalf of National Grants Conferences appear in his Wikipedia entry, on the Internet Movie Database and other places on the Web. But the footage was unavailable. Highlights of Hayworth’s appearance are now posted on YouTube.com at this link.
The infomercial promotes seminars that ostensibly instruct attendees how to get the “free money grants.” Tucson TV station KVOA did an investigation of National Grants Conferences that you can watch here. The TV station’s investigative team found that the workshops cost from $999 to $1,200 and federal government grants really aren’t even available to individuals.
Did I say bump? Maybe I meant ditch. Ten-car pile-up? Spontaneous campaign combustion?
Tackiness aside . . . just to clarify, a guy claiming to be a fiscal conservative appeared in an infomercial urging folks to go to the government for grants to “send your kids to the best schools, buy your first home, renovate your house, become an investor, build wealth, and plan for a happy, secure retirement!” Urgh.