Tags: John Sununu

Cuccinelli Foes Had Better Do Their Homework


Terry McAuliffe, the Democrats’ likely nominee for governor in Virginia this year, had better study up on the details of the governor’s office. Because this is probably not the last time someone is going to ask him questions to gauge his knowledge about state government.

Back in 2009, the GOP nominee for governor, Ken Cuccinelli, ran for state attorney general against Steve Shannon. Cuccinelli scored big points in a debate by stumping Shannon with a remarkably basic question: “How many divisions are there in the attorney general’s office? Please name each one and briefly explain what each one does.”

Shannon filibustered . . . and filibustered . . . and filibustered. He later dismissed it as “an arcane question, focusing on the bureaucracy.”

Free advice: If you’re running against Ken Cuccinelli, do your homework.

Tags: Ken Cuccinelli , John Sununu , Terry McAuliffe

New Ohio Ad: Aid to Egypt Over Funding for Schools?


Secure America Now is hitting the airwaves in Florida and Ohio with a pair of pretty brutal ads. Neither one endorses a candidate, but it’s pretty clearly a message slamming the administration for policies the group deems a giveaway to the Muslim Brotherhood, and an insufficiently supportive policy towards Israel.

The first contends that the administration wants to give $450 million in foreign aid to “an Egypt led by the Muslim Brotherhood” instead of your local schools.

Count the themes: wasteful foreign aid, soft on Islamist groups, neglecting our schools . . .

The second features Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking in Jerusalem on September 11, warning the world to start drawing red lines against Iran’s nuclear weapons development.

Three guesses on which swing state where this ad will run.

Secure America Now says they’ll spend $1 million on airing these ads in the two states.

Tags: Barack Obama , Milwaukee , Heidi Heitkamp , Florida , John Sununu , Ohio

Holding an Election During a ‘Global Intifada’


From the first Morning Jolt of the week . . . My understanding is that this will be coming through our new e-mail distribution system sometime between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Eastern . . . Once again, under our new system, some e-mail programs may interpret it as spam (it’s being sent to a large number of recipients) so if you don’t find it by mid-morning, check your spam filters . . .

Holding an Election During a ‘Global Intifada’

David Ignatius is one of those columnists you need to read, because even if you don’t agree with his take on things, his sources seem to give him fascinating nuggets you don’t find anywhere else. The theme in his Sunday column is that the world has no idea what to expect from Obama’s foreign policy in a second term, and that’s just the way the president wants it.

Less than six weeks before the election, the Obama campaign’s theme song might as well be the old country-music favorite “Make the World Go Away.” This may be smart politics, but it’s not good governing: The way this campaign is going, the president will have a foreign affairs mandate for . . . nothing.

The “come back after Nov. 6” sign is most obvious with Iran. The other members of the “P5+1” negotiating group understand that the United States doesn’t want serious bargaining until after the election, lest Obama have to consider compromises that might make him look weak. So the talks with Iran that began last May dither along in technical discussions.

. . . The Obama arm’s-length approach is evident with Egypt and the other nations convulsed by the Arab uprising. The United States is launching an innovative economic-assistance program to help Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government. But you don’t hear much about it this election season. Nor is there much public discussion of the covert U.S. effort to aid the Syrian rebels, or the war in Yemen, or the god-awful mess in Iraq.

There are two possible reasons for Obama’s vagueness in discussing these issues. The first is that Obama hasn’t thought that deeply about how he wants to respond to all of these simmering crises, and he figures he’ll cross that bridge when he comes to it. Alternatively, Obama knows darn well how he wants to handle these issues, and he knows they would be politically damaging — so he’s keeping them under wraps until he’s safely reelected. Neither option is particularly reassuring.

But here’s where Ignatius’ column gets really interesting:

I’m told that the talk in the Libyan underground is about a “global intifada,” like what the new al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has been preaching for the past five years. But ask U.S. officials about that subject, and you get a “no comment.”

To be blunt: The administration has a lot invested in the public impression that al-Qaeda was vanquished when Osama bin Laden was killed on May 2, 2011. Obama would lose some of that luster if the public examined whether al-Qaeda is adopting a new, Zawahiri-led strategy of interweaving its operations with the unrest sweeping the Arab world. But this discussion is needed, and a responsible president should lead it, even during a presidential campaign.

When you hear the phrase “global intifada,” you can respond one of two ways.

One: Eh, big deal, these jihadists are always big talkers making grandiose threats, this is more of the same.

Two: In the past month, at four separate U.S. embassies or consulates, the American flag has been torn down by angry mobs and the crowd has put up the black flag of Islam in its place: in Cairo, in Tunisia, in Yemen, and of course in the fatal attacks at our consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The same deal happened at the German embassy in Sudan. We’ve seen protests, often violent, outside U.S. embassies, consulates, and companies in the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Greece. In country after country, we’re evacuating our nonessential diplomatic staff and reinforcing security where we can. Wouldn’t the phrase “global intifada” be a pretty good term to describe what we’re seeing before our eyes?

And no, despite the fact that you’re hearing almost nothing in the U.S. mainstream media, the threat hasn’t gone away:

THE Philippines says it has moved to secure Western embassies in the country as it monitors potential threats to their citizens following a security alert raised last week.

On Friday, the US embassy warned that an unspecified threat against Americans in the capital Manila had been detected by “reliable security forces”.

Australia, Britain and Canada on Saturday joined the US in issuing a security alert, warning Westerners to be on guard amid fears they could get caught up in an attempted attack against Americans.

Philippines deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte said the US embassy had asked Manila for additional security.

“As a matter of precautionary measures, we responded to their request to augment security,” Valte said on government radio on Sunday, adding that it had also “responded quickly” to improve security for the other missions.

Kirsten Powers in a Daily Beast piece that deserves a ton of attention this week:

Nothing about the constantly evolving tale the Obama administration has been weaving about the attacks in the Middle East makes sense, unless it is seen as a deliberate attempt to mislead Americans into believing al Qaeda has been decimated, as President Obama has been know to assert. After dancing on Osama bin Laden’s grave for a week in Charlotte, the administration was faced with the reality that the war on terror is still quite on.

Tags: Barack Obama , John Sununu , Taliban

Sununu: Obama Should Return About 70 Percent of His Salary


I just spoke to John Sununu, the former governor of New Hampshire and chief of staff to President George H. W. Bush, who’s bringing his legendarily genteel and diplomatic nature to assist the Romney campaign as a surrogate.

On the Obama campaign’s “official” kickoff this weekend:

“If you look at what [President Obama] has done since last September, he really ought to return about 70 percent of his salary to the American taxpayers, since about 70 percent of his time has been spent campaigning. I assume with the official start of his campaign, it will move to 100 percent. He clearly has a strategy of talking about everything but what people want to hear, which is how he’s going to create jobs and how he’s going to get the economy moving. Instead he’s on a mission to hype himself, and blame everybody else.”

On Romney’s current standing in the polls:

“Right now, Governor Romney is still in the process of bringing the rest of the conservatives in the Republican party and the independents back together. Those are the ones who will recognize that they don’t want Barack Obama back again, and the only way to make that happen is to vote for Romney. Right now, as you look at the polls, there are still about 13 percent of Republicans who are not yet giving their vote to Governor Romney. So in a sense, Obama’s in even worse shape than he appears, because Governor Romney will eventually pick up most of those Republicans who are not supporting him right now, and most of those independents.”

On the latest unemployment numbers:

“I recommend people go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics table A-15. It talks about the other ways of calculating unemployment. There are two very interesting ones, one is U-5 and one is U-6. U-5 takes the recently discouraged workers and adds them to the total, and it’s 9.5 percent this month. Then U-6 takes people who have left the workforce for other reasons and that one’s at 14.5 percent. So there are a whole host of unemployment numbers that are readily available to the public, that people ought to start looking at on a monthly basis and talking about and recognizing what a disaster — what an unmitigated, incompetent disaster this president has been.”

On reaching voters who may not be paying attention as closely as primary voters:

“Remember there’s about 25 million unhappy people at home. Really unhappy people, who have no jobs or who are dramatically under-employed. You don’t have to work hard to get them to pay attention to the real issue in this election cycle.”

On the business community and the election:

“This over-regulation that has come out of the Obama administration has created a climate in this country where the business community has more cash than at any other time in history and yet they are not spending it to create jobs, because they are petrified that Barack Obama might get reelected. The minute it is clear, one way or the other, they will decide where to spend that money. If it looks like Romney’s going to win, they will spend that money to create jobs in America; if it looks like Obama is going to win, they’ll spend that money creating jobs somewhere else.”

On Obama’s trip to Afghanistan this week:

“That was the self-aggrandizement tour for the Obama administration. The president finally discovered that one of the responsibilities of the presidency is to make decisions. After avoiding decisions on how to deal with entitlement reform, after avoiding decisions on the budget — no budget for three years! — avoiding decisions on how to cut spending, avoiding decisions on how to deal with some of the serious issues like what’s going on in Syria and the Iran issue lurking out there as well . . . After going three and a half years without making any serious decisions except shoving Obamacare down people’s throats, the president made one more decision. And it was a slam-dunk decision in my opinion, in my opinion, having been in the White House and having seen how a real president operates. He makes a slam-dunk decision and now wants to brag about having discovered how to make a decision. I find it a little bit demeaning to those who did the hard work: the intelligence community that put thousands if not millions of bits of information together to find out where Osama bin Laden was, and the extremely skilled and truly brave young men and women who were involved and in the SEAL teams. The angry reactions you’re hearing from the SEALs underscores how unseemly it was for the president to do those interviews, saying ‘Look at me, I finally made a decision, aren’t I wonderful.’”

On life as a surrogate for the campaign, and whether he’s one of the designated attack dogs:

“I am like the old crazy uncle that [the campaign] calls on every once in a while. (laughter) When they need some strong clarity, they have me do some television and radio. The county is in such desperate straits right now, instead of sitting at home and watching everyone else do it, I told them I’d be an active part of whatever they need.”

On whether he’s freer to speak more pugnaciously than other Romney surrogates who are still in elected office:

“That would be a more valid thesis if I had been any different when I was in office. Life is too short to be . . . too subtle at times.”

Tags: John Sununu , Mitt Romney

Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review