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
Just when much of the punditocracy was settling in for a few happy weeks of arguing over the extent of the Republican “wave” in November, while Mitch McConnell figuratively measured curtains for the Majority Leader’s offices, the worm has turned a bit, at least in the polling data, and the GOP victory parade seems a bit premature. WaPo’s Chris Cillizza sums up the confused state of prophecy:
Democrats are now (very slightly) favored to hold the Senate majority on Nov. 4, according to Election Lab, The Post’s statistical model of the 2014 midterm elections.
Election Lab puts Democrats’ chances of retaining their majority at 51 percent — a huge change from even a few months ago, when the model predicted that Republicans had a better than 80 percent chance of winning the six seats they need to take control…..
The movement toward Democrats in the Election Lab model isn’t unique. LEO, the New York Times’ Upshot model, gives Republicans a 51 percent chance of winning the Senate — but that is down significantly over the past few weeks.
Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight model now has Republican chances of winning the Senate at 55 percent, down from 64 percent 12 days ago.
Meanwhile, Princeton Election Consortium’s Sam Wang, the forecaster who focuses strictly on polling data, and refuses to tilt the data to reflect “fundamentals” like historical precedents, presidential approval ratings and the condition of the economy, has the probability of continued Democratic control of the Senate at 81%.
As Cillizza notes, though, the most prominent traditional forecasters–who do not use statistical models and tend to put a greater emphasis on factors like campaign spending and “momentum” and national trends–seem to be moving in the opposite direction:
What’s interesting about the election models is that they are moving in the opposite direction of political handicappers. In recent days, Stu Rothenberg and Charlie Cook, the two best-known, nonpartisan prognosticators in Washington, have each written that the possibility of large-scale Republicans gains is increasing, not decreasing
I don’t know if this disconnect between poll- and non-poll-based analysis will generate the level of ferocious debate we saw during the Great “Skewing” Battle of 2012. But it is interesting that despite the shifting winds, in the heart of conservative-land there’s not even a scintilla of doubt that Republicans are on their way to a historic win in November that will carry over into 2016, and presumably last foreover. Check out these lines from TV celebrity pundit S.E. Cupp in the New York Daily News:
It’s hard to imagine Democrats can course-correct in less than two years the failures they — and Hillary Clinton, in particular — have overseen for more than six.
In the lead-up to the 2014 midterms, Democrats have tried and failed to figure out successful campaign strategies. They tried to resurrect the “war on women,” but believe it or not, Democrats have a bigger problem with men than Republicans do with women.
According to GWU battleground polling, Republicans are only six points behind among women, whereas Democrats are 15 points behind among men, and 28 points behind among white men in particular. That’s a lot of ground to make up.
Raising the minimum wage turned out not to be the barnstormer Democrats hoped it would be either.
Another of their “big ideas” was to make tax inversion, where businesses move to foreign countries to avoid steep corporate taxes here, a turnout issue. Last week Politico called that effort a “massive dud.”
Without any cohesion — united only, it seems, by their desire to distance themselves from their standard-bearer — Democrats are having to run a spaghetti strategy: throw it on the wall and see what sticks.
Republicans won big in the 2010 midterms but weren’t able to swing back to the center in time for 2012. With all this momentum behind them, the pathway is clear. And not even Hillary Clinton should be able to stop them.
There’s a rather obvious and irreconcilable gap between those who look forward to elections by consulting at empirical data and those who view them as representing moral judgments on the truth or error of world views. Think I’ll stick to empirical data, but then I would, wouldn’t I? I’m a liberal, God help me.
By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, September 17, 2014