About 20 years ago, there was a great episode of “Cheers,” featuring a city councilman who goes to the bar to ask voters for support. “Kevin Fogarty, City Council. I hope I have your vote on election day,” he says. Frasier Crane asks, “And why exactly should I vote for you, Mr. Fogarty?”
The councilman replies, “Well, because I’m a hard worker, and I take a stand.” Crane adds, “On what, exactly?” “The issues of the day,” Fogarty replies. “Which are?” Crane asks. “The things that concern you and your family – the most,” the councilman concludes.
The folks in the bar thought this was a great answer, failing to notice that the candidate clearly had nothing of substance to say, and was simply faking his way past the questions, hoping no one would notice.
The “Cheers” episode came to mind last night watching Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) debate former Sen. Scott Brown (R) in New Hampshire. At one point, for example. moderator Chuck Todd asked about climate change – Brown believes some of the crisis is “natural” – and pressed the candidates on how best to reduce carbon emissions.
“I’m not going to talk about whether we’re going to do something in the future,” Brown replied, apparently confused about the purpose of a political campaign.
When Todd asked the Republican to explain the metrics he’d use to determine whether the U.S./Mexico border is secure, Brown replied, “You know it’s secure when people don’t come across it.”
Remember, border security is one of the issues Brown claims to care the most about.
All of which led the challenger to make a striking claim.
Scott Brown’s strategy in his New Hampshire Senate campaign has focused on claims that securing the border would prevent Islamic State militants from crossing into the United States. But when asked on Tuesday for evidence, Brown denied he ever made such statements.
“With respect, I did not say that – what I have said is ISIS is real,” Brown, a Republican, said during the first televised debate of the New Hampshire Senate race…. “Is there a possibility?” he added. “It’s been raised that there are opportunities for people to come through that border. What are their intentions, I’m not sure, but they have made it very clear that they want to plant a flag in the White House.”
He added, “I’m not fear mongering.”
In reality, Brown’s denials about his claims are plainly incorrect. It was literally just last week that the Massachusetts Republican told voters, “[W]e have a border that’s so porous that anyone can walk across it. I think it’s naive to think that people aren’t going to be walking through here who have those types of diseases and/or other types of intent, criminal or terrorist. And yet we do nothing to secure our border.”
His claims were wrong on the substance, and for him to deny making these comments only adds insult to injury.
Sabrina Siddiqui added, “Brown has suggested on multiple occasions that ISIS terrorists could cross the southern U.S. border. Just last month, Brown raised the theory during an interview with Fox News.”
As for the “Cheers” episode, it’s probably worth noting that Kevin Fogarty ended up losing his election.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 22, 2014
Ordinarily, candidates for major public offices get better as campaigns progress. The improvements tend to be organic – politicians do more interviews, make more appearances, deliver more speeches, and answer more questions, and the process hones their skills. Practice makes perfect.
Scott Brown, however, is one of those rare candidates who defies the odds. As the only politician in the country who’s run in three separate U.S. Senate campaigns in four years, one might assume he’d be the sharpest and most pitch-perfect candidate in America.
And yet, the Republican is arguably getting worse. Brown has gone from suggesting terrorists will strike by sneaking through Mexico with Ebola to arguing that Mitt Romney could stop Ebola with his amazing Romney-esque talents.
Scott Brown told Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade Friday that Ebola wouldn’t be a problem for America if Mitt Romney had won in 2012.
“Gosh can you imagine if Mitt was the president right now?” Brown said. “He was right on Russia, he was right on Obamacare, he was right on the economy. And I guarantee you we would not be worrying about Ebola right now and, you know, worrying about our foreign policy screw ups.”
Clearly, all of our assumptions about candidates getting better with practice need to be revised. Brown’s on-air comments may position him to lead the Mitt Romney Fan Club in whichever state Brown ends up living in next, but they’re not the words of a sensible political observer.
The pitch itself defies rational thought. Even putting aside the substantive inanity, Brown isn’t supposed to be running out playing the role of Romney surrogate, making the case for the failed candidate’s alleged greatness; Brown is ostensibly running his own campaign – in a state Romney lost.
But even putting that aside, Romney wasn’t right about Russia. It’s hard to say whether Romney was “right on Obamacare” given that Romney created the blueprint for the Affordable Care Act before deciding he no longer liked his successful accomplishment. We know with certainty, however, that Romney wasn’t “right on the economy.”
As for the notion that Romney could have stopped Ebola, I’d love hear more about the former one-term governor’s expertise in infectious diseases.
It seemed the politicization of Ebola couldn’t get more ridiculous. Scott Brown found a way.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 20, 2014
In a debate with opponent Mark Pryor last night, Republican Senate candidate Tom Cotton, who’s very much the poster boy for the GOP future if the party refuses to moderate or diversify, showed again he’s not as smart as he thinks he is. ThinkProgress’ Alice Ollstein has the story:
Tom Cotton, the Republican candidate for Arkansas’ U.S. Senate seat, has repeatedly denounced the Affordable Care Act as a failure and vowed to help repeal it if elected. But in his second and final debate Tuesday night against Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor, he went further, claiming the high-risk insurance pools that many states ran before Obamacare’s passage were better for people with pre-existing conditions than the current exchanges.
“Many people were happy with their coverage under the high-risk pool, before it was eliminated,” Cotton said. “They should have been allowed to keep that choice.”
Pryor shot back, saying his personal experience proved otherwise. “I am a cancer survivor,” he said. “I have been in the high-risk pool. I have lived there. It is no place for any Arkansan to be. If we go back to the high-risk pool, it’s like throwing sick people to the wolves.”
Many of the high risk pools Cotton praised were known for their sky-high costs, exclusion of many applicants, and strict limits on what care is covered. In Arkansas, out of pocket costs for patients in such pools could be as high as $20,000 and those with pre-existing conditions had an average 6 month waiting period for care.
Now to be fair, it’s not 100% clear whether Cotton was referring (as was Pryor) to the high-risk pools that existed in Arkansas and many other (though not all) states prior to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, or to the new high-risk polls set up by Obamacare itself. But either way, the costs are much higher and the coverage much less extensive than under policies available via the exchanges. Maybe there’s somebody out there who did better under an unusually generous high-risk poll than under, say, an Obamacare Bronze Plan. But I’d say the burden’s on Cotton to explain what the hell he’s talking about. Certainly as a cancer survivor Pryor is in a superior position to know what it’s like to depend on high-risk pools, and Republicans everywhere have gotten away far too much with blithely talking about such pools as an “answer” without acknowledging the problem of crappy insurance at unaffordable rates.
By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, October 15, 2014
“Misidentification Or Outright Lie?”: Oops; Republican Super PAC Misidentifies Source Of Massive Donation
Republican super PAC American Crossroads misidentified its second-largest donor last month in paperwork filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission.
The group, co-founded by GOP strategist Karl Rove, listed the Glenmede Trust Company as giving it $300,000 on Aug. 29, part of the $1.7 million American Crossroads raised in August.
But Glenmede spokeswoman Melissa Stonberg says the wealth management firm — which manages more than $25 billion for wealthy individuals, families and foundations — didn’t give American Crossroads a penny.
“The Glenmede Trust Company, N.A. did not make any donations to American Crossroads,” Stonberg told the Center for Public Integrity. “We have contacted American Crossroads to let them know of the misreporting.”
Paul Lindsay, the spokesman for American Crossroads, did not respond to questions about the apparent discrepancy Monday morning.
Several hours later, however, American Crossroads filed an amended report to the FEC that now identifies the $300,000 as coming from Thomas and Sandra Sullivan, the parents of U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan of Alaska. Lindsay confirmed the super PAC changed its report but declined additional comment.
The Center for Public Integrity first raised questions about the six-figure super PAC contribution because the address American Crossroads listed for Glenmede seemed odd: It wasn’t the location of the company’s corporate headquarters in Philadelphia but that of a beachside condo in Florida.
Thomas Sullivan is the owner of the $3 million, 2,850-square-foot condo, according to Miami-Dade County records.
For their parts, Thomas and Sandra Sullivan have previously donated $250,000 to an Alaska-based super PAC known as “Alaska’s Energy/America’s Values,” which supports their son.
That super PAC has raised $460,000 through July 30, according to FEC records.
Through mid-September, the group has already aired more than 1,600 TV ads in the race, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of data provided by Kantar Media/CMAG, an advertising tracking service.
In August, only one other donor gave more money to American Crossroads than the Sullivans — Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus, who gave $500,000.
By: Michael Beckel, The Center for Public Integrity, September 22, 2014