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
Republicans have been spending the weeks after their miserable showing in the 2012 election trying to figure out why they did so miserably. Bobby Jindal said what a lot of people were thinking by suggesting the GOP needed to stop being “the stupid party.” Karl Rove, who didn’t back one winning candidate in the recent election, is blaming the Tea Party for promoting extreme, unelectable candidates.
Republican political operative Liz Mair, who has been a communications strategist for governors Scott Walker and Rick Perry, offers a sobering message to her party:
Everyone knows that Todd Akin, Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle were not good candidates. What a lot of people don’t seem to recognize is that their opponents, even though they looked like they would perform better based on on-paper attributes, were even worse candidates. How do I know this? They lost to Todd Akin, Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle. I’m serious. Think about that for a minute.
In her blog post “Forget what you’ve heard, here’s what’s really wrong with the GOP,” she lays out five reasons why the Republican Party is seeing stars, despite an ailing economy and the best demographic advantage they will ever have.
First, a lot of bad candidates have been fielded, and a lot of crappy campaigns have been run. And no, I don’t just mean that candidate whose name immediately popped into your head there.
Second, and tied in with this, we have too many less-than-cutting-edge and insufficiently creative and/or out-of-date consultants making a lot of money off of said crappy campaigns.
Third, our technology sucks in comparison to what Democrats have.
Fourth, growing portions of the electorate—Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans—either loathe us or just don’t like us.
Fifth, the party seems to have forgotten that it’s supposed to stand for something—by which I mean actual principles of some sort, and not just, say, the general bumper sticker concept that “OBAMA = BAD.”
After laying out her diagnosis, she has a few prescriptions on how to treat the problems. If you’re not a fan of the GOP, you should hope that no Republican with any power heeds her advice.
By: Jason Sattler, The National Memo, February 5, 2013
“Please Just Shut Up”: Phil Gingrey’s Valuable Expert Validation That Many Rape Victims Are Actually Liars
From the “They Just Can’t Help Themselves” file, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s intrepid Jim Galloway informs us that U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), an OB-GYN, went out of his way in a local speaking appearance to express sympathy for the “legitimate rape” comments of his former colleague Todd Akin:
And in Missouri, Todd Akin … was asked by a local news source about rape and he said, “Look, in a legitimate rape situation” — and what he meant by legitimate rape was just look, someone can say I was raped: a scared-to-death 15-year-old that becomes impregnated by her boyfriend and then has to tell her parents, that’s pretty tough and might on some occasion say, “Hey, I was raped.” That’s what he meant when he said legitimate rape versus non-legitimate rape. I don’t find anything so horrible about that. But then he went on and said that in a situation of rape, of a legitimate rape, a woman’s body has a way of shutting down so the pregnancy would not occur. He’s partly right on that….
And I’ve delivered lots of babies, and I know about these things. It is true. We tell infertile couples all the time that are having trouble conceiving because of the woman not ovulating, “Just relax. Drink a glass of wine. And don’t be so tense and uptight because all that adrenaline can cause you not to ovulate.” So he was partially right wasn’t he? But the fact that a woman may have already ovulated 12 hours before she is raped, you’re not going to prevent a pregnancy there by a woman’s body shutting anything down because the horse has already left the barn, so to speak. And yet the media took that and tore it apart.
Well, thanks, Phil, for that valuable expert validation of the perspective that many rape victims are actually liars and thus we shouldn’t be reluctant to force them to carry pregnancies they claim are the product of rape to term.
Now please just shut up.
By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, January 11, 2013
“The Legitimate Rape Caucus”: Rep. Phil Gingrey Says Todd Akin Was “Partly Right” On “Legitimate Rape” Assertions
Add Georgia representative Phil Gingrey to the ever-growing list of Republicans who can’t stop making offensive comments about rape.
According to the Marietta Daily Journal, Gingrey argued during a Cobb Chamber of Commerce breakfast that failed Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin was “partly right” when he claimed last year that women rarely become pregnant as the result of a “legitimate rape,” because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
First, Gingrey attempted to defend Akin’s use of the term “legitimate rape”:
And in Missouri, Todd Akin … was asked by a local news source about rape and he said, ‘Look, in a legitimate rape situation’ — and what he meant by legitimate rape was just look, someone can say I was raped: a scared-to-death 15-year-old that becomes impregnated by her boyfriend and then has to tell her parents, that’s pretty tough and might on some occasion say, ‘Hey, I was raped.’ That’s what he meant when he said legitimate rape versus non-legitimate rape. I don’t find anything so horrible about that. But then he went on and said that in a situation of rape, of a legitimate rape, a woman’s body has a way of shutting down so the pregnancy would not occur. He’s partly right on that.
Then Gingrey — who is an OB-GYN, and currently serves as co-chair of the GOP Doctors Caucus — defended the offensive sentiment behind Akin’s gaffe, although he stopped short of fully endorsing the pseudo-science:
And I’ve delivered lots of babies, and I know about these things. It is true. We tell infertile couples all the time that are having trouble conceiving because of the woman not ovulating, ‘Just relax. Drink a glass of wine. And don’t be so tense and uptight because all that adrenaline can cause you not to ovulate.’ So he was partially right wasn’t he? But the fact that a woman may have already ovulated 12 hours before she is raped, you’re not going to prevent a pregnancy there by a woman’s body shutting anything down because the horse has already left the barn, so to speak. And yet the media took that and tore it apart.
According to… legitimate experts, Gingrey and Akin are simply wrong. As Dr. Sharon Phelan — a fellow at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of New Mexico — told CNN after Akin’s original remarks, “chronic stress can decrease fertility” but “the acute stress [caused by rape] does not have the same impact.”
Even if they never abandon the junk science that motivates the “legitimate rape” caucus, one has to wonder when Republicans will see the political costs of publicly endorsing such theories. In 2012, Akin’s remarks doomed what was seen as an almost-guaranteed Republican victory over vulnerable Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill. Similarly, Indiana Republican Richard Mourdock saw his Senate campaign collapse after arguing that a child born from rape is “God intended,” and Pennsylvania Republican Tom Smith lost his Senate race by 9 percent after comparing pregnancies caused by rape to “having a baby out of wedlock.”
Although Gingrey — who won re-election with 70 percent of the vote in his conservative district — is unlikely to face direct electoral consequences for his remarks, he has certainly made life harder for his more vulnerable colleagues.
In the 2012 presidential election, President Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney among female voters by 12 percent — representing the largest gender gap in recorded history. Unless Republicans like Phil Gingrey stop running their mouths on issues like rape — or better yet, moderate their extremist policies — the GOP’s problem is going to get worse before it gets better.
By: Henry Decker, The National Memo, January 11, 2013
In the wake of his party’s defeats in the 2012 elections, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has positioned himself as a leader in setting the GOP on a smarter path. He was the first Republican to publicly condemn Mitt Romney’s “gifts” comments, and soon after, Jindal declared he wants Republicans to “stop being the stupid party.”
And while these efforts are drawing praise from some on the right, let’s pause to note the superficiality of Jindal’s vision. Take his comments yesterday on Fox News, for example.
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) accused failed Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock of saying “stupid” and “offensive” things that damaged the Republican Party.
“We also don’t need to be saying stupid things,” he said. “Look, we had candidates in Indiana and Missouri that said offensive things that not only hurt themselves and lost us two Senate seats but also hurt the Republican Party across the board.”
On abortion, while Jindal said he’s pro-life, “we don’t need to demonize those that disagree with us. We need to respect the fact that others have come to different conclusions based on their own sincerely held beliefs.”
Here’s the detail Jindal neglected to mention: he opposes any and all abortion rights, without exception. If the Louisiana governor had his way, women impregnated by a rapist would be forced by the American government to take that pregnancy to term. The same would be true in cases of incest or pregnancies in which the health of the mother is at risk.
In other words, as far as public policy is concerned, the only difference between Jindal, Akin, and Mourdock is word choice. Jindal doesn’t want candidates in his party “saying stupid things,” but he’s entirely comfortable with those candidates adopting the same extremist positions he espouses.
Indeed, the larger irony of Jindal presenting himself as a forward-thinking, far-right leader is realizing just how odd a choice he is.
On the one hand, the Louisiana governor says he’s “had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism”; on the other, Jindal is a fierce, anti-gay culture warrior who wants children to be taught creationism and believes he participated in an exorcism.
As this relates to abortion, Jindal is effectively urging his party to adopt the same vision as Mourdock and Akin, but present their agenda with less-offensive talking points. It’s reminiscent of Charles Krauthammer’s advice to the GOP: “The problem … for Republicans is not policy but delicacy.”
They’re both misguided if they think softer, more polite language can make the right-wing social agenda seem more palatable to the American mainstream.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, November 19, 2012