Tags: Mike Lee

Ted Cruz Compares Republican Senator In Mississippi to Eric Cantor


House majority leader Eric Cantor’s defeat in the Virginia Republican primary inspired Senator Ted Cruz to tout the tea-party challenger to Senator Thad Cochran (R., Miss.), although Cruz still officially followed the unwritten rule about refusing to endorse challengers to incumbent senators of his own party.

“You look at the results of last night. Dave Brat was outspent 50 to 1, and yet the people woke up and said we’re tired of business as usual in Washington,” Cruz told Glenn Beck, who has been boosting state senator Chris McDaniel’s challenge to Cochran, during a Wednesday-morning radio interview. ”You look at the results in Mississippi, where the fourth longest-serving member of the Senate has suddenly found himself in a runoff because Chris McDaniel is running a strong grassroots campaign. How does Washington respond? By heaping lies and personal attacks, and trying to attack any candidate who takes on the Washington status quo.”

That wasn’t a slip of the tongue, either. ”You asked what we can do,” Cruz continued, in what Mississippi voters might regard as a not-so-subtle hint. “The biggest thing we can do is rise up and demand that our elected officials in both parties listen to the people, and that we hold every elected official accountable, and I think 2014 is going to be a very strong election year, but I think 2016 is going to be even stronger, because sometimes things have to get really bad to startle people out of their slumber, to wake them up and say it’s now or never. We either stand up now or we will lose the greatest country in the history of the world.”

Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah), an ally of Cruz’s in the Senate, advised McDaniel’s campaign down the stretch of the primary, although his staff said they would have given Cochran the same advice if he had asked for it. “The advice was always consistent that people are looking to vote for someone,” spokesman Brian Phillips told NRO. “In this primary, you’re not going to get over 50 percent by just slamming the other guy and getting people to vote against the other guy; that at some point there is going to be a significant number of independents and undecideds who are going to be looking to vote for someone. And that’s true, I think, in any primary. And we had given the advice that we think the agenda is the thing that people will vote for. And so, if you’re looking to move numbers of undecideds and independents, the agenda shows the way, and so that was the advice that we gave, and that’s the advice we would give to anybody.”

Tags: Ted Cruz , Mike Lee , Thad Cochran , Chris McDaniel , Eric Cantor

Sen. Mike Lee Advises Tea-Party Challenger to Sen. Thad Cochran


Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah) doesn’t endorse against incumbent Republican senators, but he’s got a policy of advising candidates who ask for his input that allowed him to affect one of the highest-profile fights between the Tea Party and the establishment without taking an official stand against Senator Thad Cochran (R., Miss.).

“Chris McDaniel came in several months ago and met with Senator Lee and talked to him about the campaign,” Lee spokesman Brian Phillips told National Review Online, describing the conversation as a routine meeting in which Lee explained that he doesn’t endorse against fellow Republican senators.

“At the same time, Senator Lee offered him the same advice that he gives to all candidates, which is that the electorate is looking for policy specifics, particularly in the Republican party,” Phillips said. “And where we have contested primaries, the difference is going to be candidates who can outline a conservative policy vision for what they want to do whenever they become a senator or a congressman.”

BuzzFeed reported that the tea-party leaders in the Senate were “keeping their distance” from McDaniel due to a scandal involving a tea-party supporter who was arrested on charges of photographing Cochran’s bedridden wife in her nursing home bed, but that’s actually when Lee became most useful to McDaniel. When the Mississippi state senator’s campaign circled back for more information about the policies that Lee has advocated as part of a conservative reform agenda, Lee provided it and advised McDaniel to go positive rather than become mired in an increasingly negative campaign.

“The advice was always consistent that people are looking to vote for someone,” Phillips said. “In this primary, you’re not going to get over 50 percent by just slamming the other guy and getting people to vote against the other guy; that at some point there is going to be a significant number of independents and undecideds who are going to be looking to vote for someone. And that’s true, I think, in any primary. And we had given the advice that we think the agenda is the thing that people will vote for. And so, if you’re looking to move numbers of undecideds and independents, the agenda shows the way, and so that was the advice that we gave, and that’s the advice we would give to anybody.”

Phillips noted that Lee gave information on the conservative reform agenda to every candidate who requested it in the race to replace retiring congressman Spencer Bachus, (R., Ala.), even though he endorsed one candidate in particular in that race.

McDaniel has picked up on the ideas, but Cochran hasn’t asked Lee about the platform or for campaign advice. “Not for advice — he’s asked for money,” according to Phillips. “Senator Lee has not contributed to McDaniel or Senator Cochran.” McDaniel held a press conference in the middle of May touting the “grand-scale reforms” offered by Lee, as the Jackson Clarion-Ledger noted at the time.

Lee has been popular with the conservative base of the Republican party since he provided the Tea Party with their first upset of an incumbent senator in 2010. That credibility increased during the government-shutdown fight as Lee and Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) led an effort to defund Obamacare. Rather than use that appeal as a springboard to a presidential campaign, though, Lee has been trying to take a leading role in developing a legislative agenda for Republicans. He regards selling his platform to candidates as a key part of turning that conservative reform agenda into an effective Republican party platform, along with getting incumbent lawmakers and intellectual leaders on board with the ideas.

“It is certainly a huge opportunity for us if we are able to convince candidates to use this message and then go out and win elections using this message,” Phillips said. When NR’s Eliana Johnson wrote about Lee’s “shadow party,” she noted that “the Utah senator is the chief proselytizer of [the conservative reform agenda], but if he has his way, he’ll have more colleagues in the Senate following his lead, and perhaps even the Republican nominee come 2016.”

Tags: Mike Lee , Chris McDaniel , 2014 Midterms

When Will the Shutdown Talk Get Shut Down?


From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:

When Will the Shutdown Talk Get Shut Down?

The issue with this threatened government shutdown is the same as all the preceding ones: If the federal government is shut down, and public opinion turns against Republicans . . . then what? What’s Plan B?

Yes, I know that ideally, given a choice between defunding Obamacare and a government shutdown, President Obama would fold and accept defunding in order to keep the government open. But let’s recognize that no president will ever defund legislation named after himself.

Karl Rove, discussing this idea on Sean Hannity, notes that the last government shutdown effectively ended the Gingrich Revolution. (Republicans kept control of the House through 2006, but one could argue that their desire and drive to cut spending died pretty quickly after 1995.)

“This time around when the government runs out of money on September 30, it runs out of money for all the discretionary parts of the government. So the military isn’t going to get paid, FBI agents are not going to get paid. Border patrol people aren’t going to get paid. Anything that requires discretionary outlays is not going to get paid.” He predicts a slew of heart-rending stories about military families struggling, necessary medical procedures not being performed, and so on.

Sen. Mike Lee insists that it’s a false choice; that the Republicans would be passing a budget to fund everything except Obamacare, and it would force Senate Democrats to say that they would rather shut down the government than give up Obamacare. Rove doubts that the Senate Democrats will cave; he predicts they’ll just amend the legislation to fund everything, including Obamacare, and then send it back to the House and dare Republicans to reject that.

“You mean to suggest that we’re not going to fight and we shouldn’t fight just for the reason we’re going to get blamed for it?” Lee said. “We’re afraid that the other side won’t cave, so we have to? We cave and we cave and we cave. And we get Obamacare and we get new entitlement programs that never go away. This is how we get into trouble.”

There’s an oft-cited, apparently apocryphal anecdote, mentioned in The Hunt for Red October, of Hernan Cortez burning his ships after reaching the New World, in order to ensure his men would be highly motivated. A certain portion of the GOP grassroots wants that kind of all-or-nothing brinksmanship, to put all of their remaining chips into the middle of the table and bet them all on winning one fight. You win, you win big — i.e., President Obama, capitulating in humiliation, signing legislation to repeal his signature domestic-policy achievement. The problem is that if you lose, you lose big.

Lee contends that Rove’s scenario amounts to “the other side is going to try to blame something bad on us.” Except that a government shutdown will garner coverage that makes the Fiscal Cliff look like a handicapped ramp. It will be like the sequester doomsday talk, except that the doomsday talk will be largely right, at least in the short term. The consequences of a government shutdown would be felt immediately and widespread.

For what it’s worth, Senator Lee is completely, totally convinced that if the government shuts down, Republicans will win the messaging fight. I’d rather live in a world where he’s right. But I don’t think he’s right.

This may be moot, as Bob Costa is about as plugged into the House Republicans as any man alive, and his sources say buckets of cold water are being tossed onto this idea:

My cloakroom sources tell me they’re now confident that House Republicans will not tread into a shutdown battle with the Obama White House. GOP firebrands may threaten a shutdown and theatrically insist it remains an option, but the party’s private appetite for one, even among the right flank, is dissipating. “The electorate expects Congress to govern,” explains pollster David Winston, a longtime adviser to the House leadership. “House Republicans are going to offer their health-care alternatives within that process.”

The House leadership’s aversion to the tea-party plan is driven not only by strategy but also by the fear that having a debate on tactics would devolve into a Republican civil war. Boehner and Cantor, in conversations with fellow members, have reportedly warned that a shutdown would almost undoubtedly end in intraparty strife, owing to the Senate’s Democratic majority. To pass a vote on defunding Obamacare, Republicans would need 14 Senate Democrats to join them, and if Democrats declined, all blame, the thinking goes, would fall back on the House GOP for refusing to pass legislation to fund federal services. In all likelihood, Republicans would then be pressured to rush through a continuing resolution, only to get hit with recriminations and chaos in the wake of a shutdown.

But Conn Carroll points out that congressional Republicans’ leverage on another spending fight is based upon the same basic principle as Lee’s Obamacare gambit: Make some concessions or we won’t fund anything:

Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is also on record threatening not to raise the debt limit unless Obama agrees to dollar-for-dollar spending cuts. On July 24, Boehner said, “We’re not going to raise the debt ceiling without real cuts in spending. It’s as simple as that.” “I believe the so-called Boehner Rule is the right formula for getting that done,” he added, referring to his rule matching new debt authority with spending cuts.

House Republicans can’t announce they are willing to surrender on Obamacare funding in the CR because they are afraid they will be blamed for a government shutdown, and then turn right around and threaten not to raise the debt limit unless Obama agrees to more spending cuts. There is no reason anyone should take them seriously.

If anything, a government shutdown is much safer ground to fight on. Hitting the debt limit would trigger far harsher consequences than a government shutdown.

If Republicans in Washington don’t want to fight Obamacare through the CR, that’s fine. But they shouldn’t then pretend that Obama and the Democrats should take their debt limit threats seriously at all.

Tags: John Boehner , Barack Obama , Government Shutdown , Obamacare , Mike Lee , Karl Rove

The Lees of Old Utah


It’s a bit of an upset compared to the pre-election polls, and a win for the Tea Party. Barring some amazing turn of events, the next senator from the state of Utah will be Mike Lee:

After weeks of bitter sparring, attorney Mike Lee won a hard-fought victory over businessman Tim Bridgewater, clinching the Republican nomination and likely a spot as Utah’s next U.S. Senator. Lee led Bridgewater 51 percent to 49 percent with 97 percent of the precincts reporting. “We had an army of hard-fighting, hard-campaigning volunteers and they just refused to quit because they believed in our message,” Lee said late Tuesday. 

Considering how Republican Utah is, Lee is likely to serve his state social-Lee, political-Lee, financial-Lee, natural-Lee, internal-Lee, external-Lee, fraternal-Lee, eternal-Lee . . .

UPDATE: Robert Costa has more.

Tags: Mike Lee

Today’s Decisions in Utah and North Carolina


Elsewhere on primary/runoff day . . .

For all intents and purposes, Utah Republicans pick their state’s next senator today, between Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater; polling indicates a Bridgewater lead. The winner takes on Democrat Sam Granato and his $23,388 cash-on-hand.

In North Carolina, a hard-fought and pretty close Democratic Senate primary comes to an end; either Elaine Marshall or Cal Cunningham will take on incumbent Republican Richard Burr. If you’re a Burr fan, you probably prefer Cunningham, but the closest either Democrat has gotten so far is 7 percentage points.

Tags: Cal Cunningham , Elaine Marshall , Mike Lee , Tim Bridgewater

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