“Santorum Ignores Shift”: What Rick Santorum Views As A Passing Fad Is Likely To Become The Norm Quite Soon
Several 2016 presidential campaigns are already up and running — some more quietly than others — and Republicans hoping to be their party’s nominee are preparing for a primary that could potentially bear little resemblance to those of 2012 and 2008. As the party grapples with a shifting electorate, it is divided over differences on gay marriage, immigration reform, national security policy and even guns — gaps that could only widen by 2015, when campaigns will be in full swing.
Potential candidates are busy searching for safe corners on these contentious issues and are either acknowledging the profound shifts, even when they haven’t changed their minds, or saying little until they have to — all of them, so far, except former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.).
Santorum, of course, won the Iowa caucuses last year and nearly derailed Mitt Romney’s path to the GOP nomination before he started speaking out against the dangers of college education, free prenatal testing and contraception. Just this week he predicted that a “chastened” U.S. Supreme Court would not rule in favor of gay marriage and that the Republican Party was not going to change on the issue because doing so would be the end of the party. Yes, the end.
“The Republican Party’s not going to change on this issue. In my opinion it would be suicidal if it did,” Santorum told The Des Moines Register. The ex-lawmaker described new support for gay marriage as “popular” and “the fancy of the day,” but also considers it fleeting, as “not a well thought-out position by the American public.”
In the past Santorum has made clear he believes gay marriage is “antithetical” to healthy families. “Every society in the history of man has upheld the institution of marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. Why? Because society is based on one thing: that society is based on the future of the society. And that’s what? Children. Monogamous relationships. In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality,” he said in 2003.
Santorum told the Register on Monday he is considering another presidential run but hasn’t made any decisions. He will return to Iowa next week to speak to the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, where he said he will address this topic. “One of the things I learned from the last four years is that when you go to Iowa, people pay attention to what you say,” he said in his interview. “That’s always a gift to any person in public life. We’re going to talk about the concerns I have.”
It is understandable that, as a religious Christian, Santorum is uncomfortable with the idea of same-sex marriage. Many Republicans who also want to be president feel exactly the same way. But they are not encouraging their fellow Republicans to alienate homosexual voters. Telling voters their opinions are wrong isn’t usually a winning campaign strategy. The strong majority support for gay marriage, even among Republicans, can be denied no more than the growth of the Latino population and the fact that President Obama won it 71 percent to 27 percent over Romney. They are stubborn electoral shifts, just like the fact that young voters and Asian Americans have recently turned away from the GOP in greater numbers, which any Republican hoping to win the White House in 2016 will have to contend with and accept.
There is a significant difference between a trend and an evolution. What Santorum views as a passing fad is likely to become the norm quite soon; young people support gay marriage by a margin of 4 to 1. More acceptance isn’t likely to give way to less over time, no matter how much chastening Santorum has in mind.
By: A. B. Stoddard, Associate Editor, The Hill, April 10, 2013
Looks like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is going to try to be president now. Robert Costa reports that Walker is “collaborating on a book with Marc Thiessen, a former chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush.” It’s not like a sci-fi robot murder mystery that takes place in the distant future on Ganymede, either: It is an I would like to be president sort of book, “with stories about his family, his values, and his rise to power.” It will probably be boring.
But just because it will be a boring book doesn’t mean that its existence isn’t interesting.
Thiessen is a very poor Washington Post opinion columnist who wrote a book in which he strung together a series of distortions in support of the thesis that torture is great. Before the book and the column gig, he was a speechwriter for George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld. (Before that, Thiessen spent six years as a spokesperson and “policy adviser” to unreconstructed white supremacist Sen. Jesse Helms, which is another thing that should effectively bar him from participating in civilized society.)
Thiessen likely got the job because he’s written a bunch of columns lauding Walker as a leader at the forefront of the “GOP revolution.” In 2012, he called for Romney to select Walker as his running mate, writing, “Barack Obama is afraid of Scott Walker.” (Thiessen also wrote that a victory for Walker in his then-imminent recall election “would make Walker the instant front-runner for the GOP vice presidential nod.” Walker won, and did not become a front-runner for the vice-presidential nod.)
The book is clearly more about national ambition than it is part of Walker’s 2014 reelection campaign. He does not need help with name recognition in Wisconsin, and Thiessen has no connection to the state at all. Walker also just went to CPAC and plans to visit Iowa and give a speech to one of their thousands of random GOP groups this spring. He’s a Midwestern governor, roughly half of his state approves of him, and the conservative activist base loves him. It would almost be stupid if he didn’t give running for president a shot.
Walker’s decision likely got a bit easier this month, when the three-year investigation into the unusual amount of illegal campaign activity carried out by some of his appointees and fundraisers concluded without Walker facing any charges or specific allegations of wrongdoing. Six individuals connected to Walker were charged with crimes. Two of his aides each separately looted a fund intended for a picnic for veterans and their families. Timothy Russell, who worked closely with Walker in various jobs for a decade, was sentenced to two years in prison.
Walker’s repeated appointment of Russell to various positions suggests that a Walker administration would be, like the Bush administration, full of political hacks whose only qualifications for their posts will be either ideological certitude or fundraising ability. His hiring of Marc Thiessen is evidence that he has no strategic or moral issues with the Bush administration’s foreign policy. For a party that’s desperate to reform its image without changing a thing about its policies, he’s as good a candidate as any. He just better make sure his book doesn’t accidentally express any opinions about immigration reform.
By: Alex Pareene, Salon, March 25, 2013
Iowa Republican Rep. Tom Latham said yesterday that he won’t run for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, paving the way for one of liberals’ favorite villains to run for the seat: Rep. Steve King.
King hasn’t announced yet, but has said he’s leaning toward a run. It’s enough to concern Steve Law, the president of the Karl Rove-affiliated American Crossroads, which has made it its mission to help non-Tea Party Republicans win GOP primaries. “We’re concerned about Steve King’s Todd Akin problem,” Law told the New York Times. “This is an example of candidate discipline and how it would play in a general election. All of the things he’s said are going to be hung around his neck.”
It’s an understandable concern, and Democrats are giddy at the thought of King winning the nomination. A PPP poll from earlier this month explains why: King is the overwhelming favorite in a Republican primary, but trails every Democratic candidate they tested by at least 7 points. The most likely Democratic candidate at the moment, Bruce Braley, would start out 11 points ahead. But Latham was the only Republican who came anywhere near King, making it difficult for the Rove camp to find a another candidate.
King has been trying to clean up his act lately, coming out in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, for example, and he could be more of a challenge than Democrats expect. He easily won reelection this year against a strong Democratic challenger, edging her by 7 percentage points (by comparison, Michele Bachmann won reelection with a narrow 1.2 percent margin).
But his 4th Congressional District is significantly more conservative than the state overall. Mitt Romney won King’s district by 8 points, but Obama won Iowa by almost 6 points, for a swing of 14 points.
And Democrats will have no qualms hanging the things he said around his neck, as Law warned, such as:
– King is an ardent opponent of the “gay-rights agenda,” opposing the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and warning that if conservatives don’t “defend marriage,” “children will be raised in warehouses.” He’s also said that gay people should keep their sexuality secret.
Iowa legalized same-sex marriage in 2009 and a plurality of Iowans approve of the decision today.
– On immigration, King has compared immigrants to dogs and joked (we hope) that a liberal should be deported for every new immigrant granted legal status. Democrats, he said, win over Latinos by giving them a “great big check.”
Fifty-eight percent of Iowans want a comprehensive immigration reform law with a pathway to citizenship.
By a 16 point margin, Iowa voters said Mitt Romney was “too conservative on issues involving women’s rights,” and King is several notches to the right of Romney.
– King doesn’t like Obama, no surprise, but has ventured into pseudo-birtherism on occasion and called the president a Marxist who doesn’t “have an American experience” because he was not raised in the U.S., “Though he surely understands the Muslim culture.”
Obama’s approval rating is around 50 percent in Iowa and the state has been famously friendly to the president, giving him a critical win in the 2008 Democratic primary and helping him win in 2012.
– He’s also cool with dog fighting.
If King does run, and especially if he wins the nomination, Iowa will quickly become the must-watch race for liberals, much as Massachusetts’ Senate campaign was last year with Elizabeth Warren. The race would also be sure to attract a ton of money and enthusiasm on both sides, with Tea Party and liberal activists pouring in from neighboring states to help either candidate.
By: Alex Seitz-Wald, Salon, February 28, 2013
Yesterday Kathleen Geier noted the most interesting political story of the weekend: the rapidly escalating war of words on the Right between so-called “Establishment” Republicans led by Karl Rove and Tea Party “Conservatives” as represented by past and future Senate candidates deemed “undisciplined.” The immediate flash-point is a gratuitous slap at U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA), a potential candidate for Tom Harkin’s open Senate seat next year, by American Crossroads president Steven Law by way of explaining to the New York Times‘ Jeff Zeleny the purpose of a new Conservative Victory Project the group is unveiling:
The group’s plans, which were outlined for the first time last week in an interview with Mr. Law, call for hard-edge campaign tactics, including television advertising, against candidates whom party leaders see as unelectable and a drag on the efforts to win the Senate. Mr. Law cited Iowa as an example and said Republicans could no longer be squeamish about intervening in primary fights.
“We’re concerned about Steve King’s Todd Akin problem,” Mr. Law said. “This is an example of candidate discipline and how it would play in a general election. All of the things he’s said are going to be hung around his neck.”
I am mystified by this gambit from Rove’s hireling. Yes, Steve King is crazy as a sack of rats. But the man is an excellent retail politician back home with an intensely loyal following. If the idea of Law’s macho posturing was to intimidate King from a Senate race, it is very likely to backfire. The Iowa Republican‘s Kevin Hall explains:
Steve King is beloved by Iowa conservatives and if you go to war with him, we will go to war with you …
Telling Steve King he can’t do something is also a surefire way to get him to prove you wrong. I’m sure people like me saying he can’t win a statewide general election was enough to rile up the good Congressman. But having a so-called “conservative” group spending big bucks to attack him is likely to spur King to fight back … And he’ll have a few hundred thousand Iowa Republicans fighting alongside him …
And this is from a guy who has all but endorsed Tom Latham–the presumed Rove favorite to represent the GOP in the Iowa Senate race.
More generally, I will issue an early warning about how the MSM will once again turn this kind of intra-GOP battle over strategy and tactics–and power–into some sort of ideological struggle, with the Rovians treated as “moderates” and the Steve Kings of the world as plain old average-white-guy conservatives–you know, sort of the conservative equivalents of Barack Obama.
My own ultimate test for “extremism” is whether the person in question would be perfectly happy with a one-party dictatorship for his or her “team,” with the “other team” being silenced or perhaps hauled off to prison. Every single thing about Karl Rove’s history tells me that he would cheerfully, giddily endorse that scenario. He may consider Steve King a poor instrument for achieving that happy destination, but I doubt a country ruled by either would feel a bit differently.
So while we can all enjoy a power battle between these two men on King’s own turf, let’s don’t get fooled into calling it a “struggle for the soul of the GOP” or any such thing. That struggle ended with the final conquest of the Republican Party by the conservative movement in 2009, and won’t reemerge until they lose at least one more national election. But you will never hear that from folks on the Right, who have every reason, internal and external, to exaggerate their differences as they jockey for position.
By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, February 4, 2013
This Romney endorsement editorial, if you actually bother to read it, is little more than a practical joke. First of all, it has all the hallmarks of having been ordered by the publisher over the objections of the editorial board. Normally, a sentence like “the Register’s editorial board, as it should, had a vigorous debate over this endorsement,” translated into blunt English means: “Our idiot publisher forced this tripe down our throats, and we’re counting on you the more knowledgeable readers to understand this.”
The argument, such as it is, is as substanceless as meringue. Mitt Romney could “forge compromises with Congress” to get the economy rolling again? The first part of that might actually be true, but only because the Democrats in Congress aren’t nearly as ideologically hidebound and politically obstreperous as their GOP counterparts.
But the second part, fixing the economy, creating jobs, tackling the deficit? Romney has been ridiculously vague on all these things. The editorial doesn’t so much as gesture in that direction. And then bam, the editorial ends. Just when you think it might start mounting such “arguments,” it ends. I actually hit the refresh button three times, as I couldn’t believe the entire editorial had loaded properly. It’s as Potemkin Village-ish a piece of journalistic writing as I’ve seen in a long time.
Sadly, it probably will make a small difference, although I’m sure the politically inside elite out in Iowa is laughing about it this morning. Most polls indicate that Obama has a couple of points to spare in the state. We’ll see. You can ask Hillary Clinton how much good the DMR did her in January 2008.
Meanwhile, Obama has been endorsed by: Detroit Free Press, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Miami Herald, Las Vegas Sun, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Raleigh News & Observer. I’ll grant that this is more newsworthy because it’s a flip since 2008, but that doesn’t make it more important in Iowa than the Sun is in Nevada.
Anyway, go read it. You’ll see what I mean. It reads like a practical joke, and a half-baked one at that. DMR: You still have time to publish your serious endorsement, you know, the one that lists actual reasons why you support the guy!
By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, October 28, 2012