The chief attack on Paul Ryan electorally is simple: His now-famous Plan “ends Medicare as we know it,” thereby stripping the elderly of their health care. They should fear it and fear him and vote against him.
The next three months will be a test of something important: Whether this assertion, which is an out-and-out lie, can overcome the plain explication of the truth.
A common feature of the competitive political news industry is the high volume of overpromising headlines. A good example is today’s Politico feature, headlined “GOP to Mitt: Own your Mormonism.” The story, however, says no such thing.
What we have instead is an array of quotes indicating that Romney talking more about his Mormonism would be detrimental to his prospects or that it would be irrelevant. We never quite get to the argument about how to sell Romney’s religion to the public. Now that Romney seems finally to be his party’s nominee, writes Politico, “many Republicans think that the standoffish candidate actually needs to embrace his Mormonism publicly to open a window into his life.” But where are these promised “many Republicans”?
Last year, at a fundraiser for the Human Rights Campaign (a lobbying organization for LGBT Americans) President Obama said:
“We don’t believe in a small America. We don’t believe in the kind of smallness that says it’s okay for a stage full of political leaders — one of whom could end up being the president of the United States — being silent when an American soldier is booed. We don’t believe in that. We don’t believe in standing silent when that happens. We don’t believe in them being silent since. You want to be commander-in-chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it’s not politically convenient.”
Despite these remarks, Obama has remained silent on his position on gay marriage, claiming that it is still “evolving.” Read More
One of the biggest challenges for the Romney campaign will be humanizing him, and his down-to-earth wife is clearly the most powerful weapon it can deploy on this front. The campaign released a sentimental video today of Ann Romney discussing the ups and downs of raising their five sons together, as old home movie footage and pictures play in the background.
Who better understands the stakes of the vice presidential choice than Sen. John McCain, who still gets to see his own decision played out repeatedly on HBO? When asked on CBS about whether the GOP nominee should “go rogue” with the VP choice this year, McCain gave a wink to his own 2008 choice:
In a preview of what’s to come during the general election fight, President Obama took a mocking and unusually personal swipe at Mitt Romney during a speech on the GOP budget today:
OBAMA: One of my potential opponents, Governor Romney, has said that he hoped a similar of version of this plan from last year would be introduced on day one of his presidency. He said that he’s very supportive of this new budget. And he even called it marvelous — which is a word you don’t often hear when describing a budget. [Laughter]. That’s a word you don’t often hear generally. [Laughter].
This was bound to happen eventually, but Rick Santorum might have hoped this news wouldn’t come before on the day of what is likely to be his last stand in the Wisconsin primary:
In a move that shows Republicans are coalescing around the party’s front-runner, Mitt Romney plans to begin raising money jointly with the Republican National Committee this week as both the candidate and the GOP brace for an expensive general-election fight against President Barack Obama.
The arrangement will allow top donors to write checks as large as $75,000 per person, by giving to party organizations in addition to the campaign. That’s far more than the $2,500 ceiling that applies to individual donations to a presidential candidate for the fall election.
Between now and the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare in June, we’re sure to see a lot of these attacks on the supposedly activist conservative court. The Wall Street Journal editorial board did a good job yesterday skewering the idea that overturning the mandate would be an example of judicial activism, but if the court strikes down the mandate or full law as many have speculated, the “activist” argument is really the only card the Democrats can play.
Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said President Obama should campaign against the Supreme Court, painting it as a conservative, activist institution if it rules that the administration’s healthcare law is unconstitutional.
“In terms of the Congress, I believe that it would be off-base for us to do that, but for the president, I don’t think it is,” Clyburn said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday. “I think the president ought to take a look at what happened in years before — we’ve seen presidents run against Congress and we’ve seen presidents run against the Supreme Court. Franklin Roosevelt did it to the Supreme Court; [Harry] Truman did it to the Congress.”
Newt Gingrich has been dragging out his futile campaign, long after the rest of the world realized it was over. Long after it started getting slightly uncomfortable to see him still on TV giving speeches. But there was always some hope he might snap back to reality once the money ran out. Apparently that’s not the case:
Newt Gingrich is cutting back his campaign schedule, will lay off about a third of his cash-strapped campaign’s full-time staff, and has replaced his manager as part of what aides are calling a “big-choice convention” strategy, communications director Joe DeSantis told POLITICO. …
“We’re focusing exclusively on what it’ll take to win what we’re going to be calling a big-choice convention in August,” DeSantis said in a phone interview Tuesday night.
There is no real reason to believe that these drastic measures to turn around a flailing campaign can save the former House speaker’s candidacy for a third time.
Following a string of embarrassing primary losses, it was only a matter of time before Gingrich had to make some kind of decision about the way forward. But the betting was on an actual withdrawal from the race rather than slapping a band-aid on the problem.
There have been several Sen. Marco Rubio “bombshells” out during the past six months or so that initially receive a lot of attention in the press but fizzle under scrutiny.
First there was the escandalo Univision story about the senator’s brother-in-law who was arrested on a drug-dealing charge – when Rubio was 16-years-old. Then there was the WaPo scoop about Rubio supposedly lying about the timeline about his family’s escape from Cuba – when in fact there has been no evidence that the timeline discrepancies were anything other than an honest mistake. Finally, BuzzFeed broke the “Rubio was a Mormon” story, which revealed that his family briefly converted to Mormonism for a few years when he was in elementary school.
At WaPo, Marc Thiessen writes about how this whisper-campaign against Rubio has already started shifting the mainstream narrative about him. While he’s still at the top of most analysts’ lists for the VP pick, they’re starting to express doubts about his past:
The most recent New York Times/CBS poll (which John and Jonathan write about) has President Obama’s approval rating down to a record low of 41 percent. If you are a supporter of the president, the internal numbers are downright depressing. The judgment of the Times seems about right to me: “President Obama is heading into the general election season on treacherous political ground.”
In addition, yesterday’s Washington Post/ABC News poll (which Alana wrote about) found that President Obama’s approval rating is at 46 percent — even with a sampling advantage that favors Democrats by too much. Fully 59 percent of Americans give Obama negative ratings on the economy, up from early last month, with 50 percent giving the president intensely low marks, the most yet in a Post/ABC News poll. And among independents, 57 percent now disapprove of Obama; and among white people without college degrees, disapproval now tops approval by a ratio of more than 2 to 1, at 66 versus 28 percent.
No president will win re-election with an Election Day approval rating of 41 or 46 percent.
In Alabama, a near-majority (45 percent) said “Muslim,” while 41 percent said “unsure.” Only 14 percent said Obama is a Christian.
In Mississippi, a majority (52 percent) said the president was Muslim, while 36 percent said they are unsure and only 12 percent said Obama was a Christian.
Republicans in these states hold these views despite Obama’s own public profession of Christian faith and the fact that there’s no credible evidence that he’s a Muslim. And yet this belief persists. Why?
It’s impossible to know without doing more research and in-depth interviews. But my hunch is that there are several factors at play.
The Obama campaign wishes so badly it could run against a divisive national figure like Sarah Palin that it’s decided to just pretend it actually is. Here’s Obama’s latest ad, which attacks Palin for calling him a radical (via HotAir):
The strategy of attacking Palin – who is still influential with the conservative base but increasingly marginal in the Republican Party – could be chalked up to Obama’s nostalgia for the 2008 campaign. But it also seems remarkably similar to a communications strategy the White House orchestrated back in 2009, when it tried to elevate another polarizing figure, Rush Limbaugh, to the position of “de facto” Republican leader, thus forcing congressional Republicans to respond to his inflammatory comments. Politico reported on the White House’s internal plan at the time:
The odds that Republicans will be able to take back the White House seem slimmer by the day. But is it getting to the point where the GOP would be better off giving up on the presidential race to fully focus on taking back the Senate, and maintaining its grip on the House? That’s what George Will argues in his Sunday column this week, according to an advanced copy obtained by POLITICO:
“Romney and Rick Santorum… are conservatives, although of strikingly different stripes. Neither, however, seems likely to be elected… If either is nominated, conservatives should vote for him,” Will writes in his upcoming Sunday column, obtained in advance by POLITICO Playbook by Mike Allen.
However, Will argues, that control of both house of Congress is more attainable and more important.
“[T]here would come a point when… conservatives turn their energies to a goal much more attainable than… electing Romney or Santorum president. It is the goal of retaining control of the House and winning control of the Senate.. [C]onservatives this year should have as their primary goal making sure Republicans wield all the gavels in Congress in 2013,” writes Will.
There’s a lot of talk these days among pundits that Mitt Romney has “lost his general election narrative.” We’re told he is “suddenly headed for the kind of political and ideological cul-de-sac that losing presidential candidates often end up occupying.” And that despite winning Michigan, “his path to the White House has narrowed considerably.”
So just for fun, I went back and checked where Ronald Reagan stood in March 1980. And here’s what I found (courtesy of Craig Shirley’s excellent book Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign That Changed America). As Shirley reports,
Reagan may have been doing well with Republican primary voters, but he still wasn’t breaking through to the general population, according to a new poll in the Chicago Sun-Times. The survey showed that in a matchup against Carter, Reagan would get blown out in Illinois, 60-34. [George H.W.] Bush was doing much better against Carter in Illinois, down only 42-36; Anderson was actually doing better than Carter in Illinois.
On Election Day 1980, Reagan beat Carter 50 percent v. 42 percent in Illinois, with John Anderson winning 7 percent of the vote. Reagan, by the way, beat Carter 489 v. 49 in the Electoral College vote.
There are two interesting polls from Gallup today worth highlighting.
The first shows that by 53 percent to 45 percent, Republicans, including independents who lean Republican, are more likely than Democrats and Democratic leaners to say they are “more enthusiastic than usual about voting” this year. The 53 percent of Republicans who feel more enthusiastic about voting today — as Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are engaged in a pitched nomination battle — is greater than the 44 percent found in February 2008, when John McCain and Mike Huckabee were still facing off in the primaries.
Gallup points out that the enthusiasm question is important because, in the last several presidential and midterm elections, the party whose rank-and-file members showed the most enthusiasm about voting toward the end of the campaign either gained congressional seats or won the presidency. It’s important to note, too, that enthusiasm is down among key parts of Barack Obama’s 2008 coalition, including non-whites (down 26 percent compared to this time four years ago) and 18-29 year olds (down 28 percent compared to this time four years ago).
This is my second post on this topic, wherein is a discussion on why survey wording matters. The last post dealt with the “Obama is quantitatively ahead of his GOP rivals spin,” which wasn’t technically true and would be irrelevant if it was. This one deals with an issue that’s a little more tangled and open to interpretation – but not much. The question is whether Israelis favor an attack on Iran without the prospect of gaining U.S. support, which they don’t.
This finding is being spun to show they don’t favor an attack over current U.S. public objections. The data shows, bluntly, the opposite.
A new poll [PPT] shows: (a) that Israelis oppose a strike on Iran unless it has American backing, which is being spun as showing that Israelis oppose a strike given Obama’s current stance; and (b) that Israelis prefer President Obama to anyone in the GOP field, which is being spun as showing that Israeli distrust of Obama has been wildly exaggerated. The anti-Israel left is even crowing that the poll undercuts Netanyahu on the eve of his meeting with the president.
The only problem is the survey shows exactly the opposite. On both issues.
It’s easy for politicians and political commentators, myself included, to focus on the foibles, mistakes and awkward language that sometimes characterizes the current crop of GOP candidates. That’s why Bill McGurn’s words are worth reflecting upon:
As Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum force Republican voters to make their choice in a hotly contested Michigan primary, once again we hear the great lament that we have looked at the candidates and found them all unworthy. Not everyone puts it as harshly as the headline over Conrad Black’s piece in the National Post: “The Republicans Send in the Clowns.” But it’s a popular meme in the campaign coverage.
Like so many others who find the field wanting, Mr. Black laments that “the best Republican candidates—Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan and Haley Barbour—have sat it out.” We’ll never know, will we? Because the “best” Republicans opted not to put their records and statements up for national scrutiny, commit themselves to a grueling campaign trail, and subject themselves to TV debates moderated by media hosts who often seem to be playing for the other team.
So say this for the final four: They had the guts to put themselves out there—and stick with it. That’s something a winner needs.
Environmental activists are already up in arms about the White House’s decision to support the partial construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. But they should prepare themselves for a lot more disappointment down the road.
President Obama has been playing both sides of the Keystone XL debate since the beginning, and his thumbs-up to the partial construction is the latest sign he’s only interested in delaying the pipeline long enough to hold onto environmentalist support until after November 2012.