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“The Broader GOP Benefits Of Walker Losing”: Intra-Party ‘Feud’ Complicates Walker’s Race In Wisconsin

No gubernatorial race in the country is as competitive as Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) re-election bid in Wisconsin. The last four publicly released polls have shown the race either tied or within one percentage point.

And with just a week until Election Day, the incumbent governor isn’t convinced the Republican Machine is rallying to his defense to the degree he’d prefer.

At a morning campaign stop in Mayville, Wisconsin, Walker openly groused that the outside spending supporting his campaign “pales” in comparison to the Democratic effort to defeat him. He spoke dismissively of an upcoming campaign visit from [New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie], telling reporters that the Garden Stater was visiting because “he asked if he could come and we weren’t going to say no.”

Ouch.

In fairness, Walker later clarified that he’s grateful for Christie’s support, but he’s frustrated because he believes Democrats are rallying behind Mary Burke’s campaign with even stronger support.

The result is an awkward “feud” of sorts – Walker desperately needs backing from the Republican Governors Association, which is chaired by Christie, but at the same time, Walker believes the RGA is holding back, in part because of 2016. And he may have a point – both Christie and Walker are preparing to run for president, and if the Wisconsin governor comes up short, Christie will have one less credible rival for the GOP nomination.

It’s created a dynamic in which Christie’s RGA wants Walker to win, but it also sees the broader benefits of Walker losing.

And that in turn has generated chatter about whether the New Jersey Republican is undermining his Wisconsin ally on purpose to advance Christie’s ambitions.

The Weekly Standard, which is clearly attuned to Republican insiders’ thinking, had an interesting report on this late last week.

Is New Jersey governor and Republican Governors Association chairman Chris Christie undercutting Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s reelection effort? That’s a question a number of influential Wisconsin Republicans have been asking behind the scenes over the past week after an October 16 Associated Press report indicated that Walker and his allies were being outspent by Democratic challenger Mary Burke and her allies. […]

Why would the RGA spend more on Rick Snyder than Scott Walker? A number of top Wisconsin Republicans have expressed the same concern in separate conversations with THE WEEKLY STANDARD: That RGA chairman Chris Christie might be tanking Walker, a potential rival for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. As Republican governors who took on public employee unions in blue states, Christie and Walker would be chasing after some of the same donors and voters in the 2016 race (if both men decide to run). Knocking Walker out of the running now (while giving extra help to Rick Snyder, a governor of an important early GOP primary state) could be in Christie’s interest.

As for Democrats, President Obama will be in Wisconsin today, rallying support for Burke’s campaign, which “comes on the heels of high-profile events with Michelle Obama and former President Bill Clinton.”

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 28, 2014

October 28, 2014 Posted by | Chris Christie, Midterm Elections, Scott Walker | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Blame-The-Victim Mentality”: Senate Obstruction Through The “Funhouse Mirror”

One of the most durable GOP talking points in support of its plea to gain control of the Senate is that mean old Harry Reid, doing the bidding of scary radical Barack Obama, runs the place like the House (well, the House as run by Democrats when they controlled it!), allowing no debate or amendments. That argument apparently got under the skin of Juan Williams of Fox News and The Hill, not exactly a big liberal, who called it out as the inverse of the truth, using the stalled confirmation of the president’s Surgeon General nominee as an example:

The nation has not had a surgeon general since November 2013 because the GOP is blocking the president’s nominee, Dr. Vivek Murthy. At a time of medical emergency, what is the Republicans’ problem with Murthy?

In October 2012, the doctor tweeted: “Tired of politicians playing politics w/guns, putting lives at risk b/c they’re scared of the NRA. Guns are a health care issue.”

Dr. Murthy, a graduate of Harvard and the Yale School of Medicine, has impressive credentials for a 36-year-old. He created a breakthrough new company to lower the cost of drugs and bring new drugs to market more quickly.

But his big sin, for Senate Republicans, is that as a veteran of emergency rooms Dr. Murthy expressed his concern about the nation’s indisputable plague of gun violence.

When Dr. Murthy was nominated, the National Rife Association announced plans to “score” a vote on the doctor’s nomination, meaning any Republican or Democrat running in a conservative state who voted for Murthy would be punished in NRA literature and feel the pain in their fundraising come midterm election season.

When public anxiety over Ebola became a GOP talking point, 29 House Democrats wrote to Reid calling for the Senate to expose the Republicans for their deceitful strategy. They wanted, and still want, Senate Democrats to push for a vote on the surgeon general nominee and force the Republicans to explain their opposition. Their thinking is that swift action is needed to put a surgeon general in place and give the American people a trusted source of guidance on Ebola.

The Tea Party’s favorite senator, Republican Ted Cruz of Texas, last week agreed on the need for a surgeon general in a CNN interview. But in the funhouse mirror-style so loved by the Republican base, Cruz blamed Obama for the vacancy.

“Of course we should have a surgeon general in place,” Cruz told CNN’s Candy Crowley. “And we don’t have one because President Obama, instead of nominating a health professional, he nominated someone who is an anti-gun activist.”

This is a pretty good example of the kind of blame-the-victim mentality whereby the party of obstruction is projecting its posture onto its opponents. And we can obviously expect a lot more of it if Republicans gain control of the Senate and with Harry Reid out of the way begin cooperating with House GOPers to send bill after bill to the White House.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal, The Washington Monthly, October 27, 2014

October 28, 2014 Posted by | Ebola, GOP, U. S. Surgeon General | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Fearmongering, Just Before Election Day”: Republicans Want You Scared Of Ebola

Is it possible that some Republican elected officials simply don’t follow the news?

Maybe that explains why they don’t mention the 43 people who had been exposed to Ebola in Texas that were released from quarantine last week after being confined for 21 days— the incubation period for the disease—and declared Ebola-free?

Perhaps that’s why no Republicans discuss that four of those 43 people had shared a small Dallas apartment with the Liberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan, for a week while he was gravely ill with Ebola before he died on Oct. 8. We are talking when Duncan had a 104-degree fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. Yet, still none of them contracted the disease.

And we don’t hear a peep from them about the two Americans who had contracted Ebola and who recently overcome the disease. Okay, perhaps they missed NBC cameraman Ashoka Mukpo being released from a Nebraska hospital Wednesday, but how could they not see Nina Pham, the nurse who had contracted the disease in a Dallas hospital earlier this month, hug President Obama in the Oval Office on Friday?

The GOP’s lack of interest in news must be the explanation for why they continue to whip up fears about Ebola, right? For example, during Thursday’s U.S. Senate debate in New Hampshire, Republican Scott Brown mentioned that, “There is a rational fear from citizens in New Hampshire” that “people with diseases are coming through our border.”

Of course, Brown didn’t cite even one example of an Ebola-infected person sneaking into the United States. But hey, facts don’t matter when scaring voters.

And then there’s the tight U.S. Senate race in Louisiana. There, Sen. Mary Landrieu’s Republican opponent, Bill Cassidy, released a statement Tuesday that said President Obama’s handling of the Ebola is “posing an immediate danger” to “Louisiana families.” We also saw three other GOP Senate candidates play the Ebola card this week: Virginia’s Ed Gillespie, Alaska’s Dan Sullivan, and Georgia’s David Perdue. First, all three essentially parroted each other by first offering up some scary comments on Ebola. Then each attacked the Obama administration’s handling of the situation, which in turn means that Ebola is likely coming to get you and your family.

And adding to this cacophony of impending calamity was Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who on Wednesday told the news media (OK, not quite “news media,” Fox News) that new White House Ebola czar Ron Klain was “off to a bad start.” Nothing like undermining people’s confidence by saying—literally on the guy’s first day on the job—that he’s already screwing up.

These comments are actually tame compared to the off-the-charts, scary chatter heard from the GOP last week.  The craziest of all was Rand Paul, who faulted those who were saying Ebola is not easy to catch. Sen. Paul really sounded the alarm bells with the remark, “We have physicians and health workers who are catching it who are completely gloved down.”  For those actually keeping score, at the time of Paul’s remark, we had only two nurses who’d contracted the disease, and zero physicians.

Coming in second in the race to scare the crap out us was Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who warned that ISIS fighters might infect themselves with Ebola and then try to infect us all. Of course, a person is only contagious when manifesting Ebola’s symptoms, such as uncontrollable diarrhea and vomiting. At that point, a gravely ill person would have to somehow get their bodily fluids into your system. It has to be challenging to run around and smear your bodily fluids on people when you are uncontrollably pooping and puking.

This rhetoric is in sharp contrast to what we heard Thursday night from Democratic elected officials in New York City after it was determined that a doctor who had recently returned from treating people with Ebola in Guinea had tested positive for the disease. Mayor Bill De Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told the public that everything is under control and there is no reason for panic. Of course, right-wing former New York Lt. Governor Betsy McCaughey did her best to undermine these assurances by stating during a radio interview on Sunday that “Our hospitals aren’t ready for Ebola.”

So why are the Republicans continuing with their one-two punch of “Ebola is going to get you” and “Obama is failing to protect your family?” Simple.  Fear is the GOP’s modus operandi. We have seen the GOP use it effectively in the past regarding gay marriage, Muslims, blacks and Latinos. They scare voters into voting for them because frankly it’s much simpler than discussing complex issues—like creating jobs, immigration reform, or health care.

And here’s the worst part: Two polls released this week indicate it’s working again. A Politico poll released Monday found that nearly one-third of respondents said they were either losing or have no confidence in the federal government’s handing of the Ebola outbreak.

Add to that a survey released Wednesday that finds that the GOP’s fear-mongering has taken hold of Americans. Almost 46 percent said they were deeply concerned Ebola would spread widely across the country despite the fact that only two people contracted the disease on U.S. soil.

This couldn’t have played out any better for the GOP. First, they scare everyone. Then they position themselves as the guardians of the galaxy who will save us all from this dastardly threat.

I wish I could say that if more in the media called out the Republicans’ fear mongering it would stop. But who are we kidding? The only way Republican leaders will change their tactics is if they lose a few elections in a row doing it. So until that day comes—if ever—be prepared for more rides in the GOP’s House of Horrors.

 

By: Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast, October 27, 2014

October 28, 2014 Posted by | Ebola, GOP, Midterm Elections | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“GOP’s Sad New Rescue Fantasy”: George W. Bush Presents Jeb Bush 2016!

As if to underscore the GOP’s long-term leadership deficit even as a midterm victory looms, the Bush family announced a new product launch over the weekend: Jeb Bush 2016.

“No question,” son Jeb Jr. told the New York Times, “people are getting fired up about it — donors and people who have been around the political process for a while, people he’s known in Tallahassee when he was governor. The family, we’re geared up either way.” His brother George P. Bush, running for Texas land commissioner, told ABC’s “This Week” that it’s “more than likely” his father will run. “If you had asked me a few years back, I would have said it was less likely,” he said.

So they’re “fired up,” huh?  Maybe they think if they appropriate Barack Obama’s old slogan, no one will notice they’re trying to make sure that three GOP presidents in a row will come from the same family. It’s as though Republicans have given up on generating new leadership democratically and are handing it down dynastically from now on.

The project’s cheerleader, according to the Times, is former President George W. Bush, the guy whose own White House victory essentially doomed Jeb’s dreams. Now W. is rallying the Bush forces, boasting about urging his younger brother to run, even while he jokes with Fox News, “I don’t think he liked it that his older brother was pushing him.” Older brother’s famous sadistic streak obviously endures.

The last time Jeb Bush rescue fantasies overtook the GOP, it was early in the 2012 primary season, and party donors were already able to foresee the drubbing they’d endure if either dull Mitt Romney or laughable right-wingers like Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich won the nomination. That time Joe Conason ran down all the reasons a Bush run was likely to be unsuccessful: Not just his uneven record as governor, but the unsavory associates who helped him amass a real estate fortune. Mother Jones took it further last month, with “23 Reasons Why Jeb Bush Should Think Twice About Running for President.”

Then there’s the problem of the tarnished legacies of his father and brother, which didn’t exactly leave Americans, even Republicans, clamoring for four more years.

But now, the New York Times reports, Bush boosters think “President Obama’s troubles, the internal divisions of the Republican Party, a newfound nostalgia for the first Bush presidency and a modest softening of views about the second have changed the dynamics enough to make plausible another Bush candidacy.”

Like all Republicans, Jeb Bush has struggled with a gender gap in his support – the men in his family have been gung-ho about another White House run, while the woman resisted. Now, according to several reports, both mother Barbara and wife Columba have finally given their blessing to Jeb’s project.

So the family is united about the project now. But it’s not just the family, the Times reports. “The larger Bush clan” – three generations of donors, strategists, pollsters, advisers and “friends” – are even more anxious to return to the show. “They’re like horses in the stall waiting for the gate to break,” one family insider explained. “They’re all jumping up and down.”

You know who else is jumping up and down? The party’s right-wing base. Only they’re jumping up and down in anger. Bush’s support for Common Core and some kind of pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants (he’s flip-flopped on that one but still has talked about the decision to come to this country as “an act of love,” not just a crime). Bush’s latest crime, according to the right, is saying in 2012 that he would accept a deficit-cutting deal that traded $1 in new tax revenue for $10 in spending cuts.

Jeb Bush fever may be tougher to treat than Ebola. It afflicts GOP leaders with some regularity. Just five months ago, the Washington Post told us party donors were begging Bush to run. But as I noted at the time, 50 percent of Americans the paper polled had just said they wouldn’t vote for Bush under any circumstances. Still donors remain the power that matters when picking a Republican presidential nominee, and it sounds like Bush is now convincing himself the donors know what they’re doing. If he doesn’t run, they’ll be back on the Romney 2016 juggernaut. This is a party that’s out of ideas, and leaders.

 

By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, October 27, 2014

October 28, 2014 Posted by | Election 2016, GOP Presidential Candidates, Jeb Bush | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Getting Democracy Backwards”: McConnell Digs A Hole On Social Security, Falls In

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in the midst of the toughest race of his career, still isn’t quite sure how he wants to present himself to voters. On the one hand, the longtime Republican senator is proud to be the nation’s top obstructionist, helping create the most dysfunctional Congress in modern history. On the other hand, McConnell wants the public to see him as the consummate dealmaker.

To help prove the latter point, the GOP incumbent cited an interesting example last week.

Though he hasn’t mentioned it much on the campaign trail over the past year, McConnell specifically touted his effort to push President George W. Bush’s plans to reform Social Security in 2005, which would have set up private accounts for retirees.

“After Bush was re-elected in 2004 he wanted us to try to fix Social Security,” said McConnell. “I spent a year trying to get any Democrat in the Senate – even those most reasonable Democrat of all, Joe Lieberman – to help us.”

We now know, of course, that Democrats weren’t interested in privatizing Social Security. Neither was the American mainstream,  which hated the Bush/Cheney idea. But the fact that McConnell brought this up, unprompted, was a clumsy error from a senator who’s usually more disciplined.

With time running out in Kentucky, Mitch McConnell decided to remind the state that he wanted to effectively eliminate the popular and effective Social Security system. Indeed, it’s been part of McConnell’s governing vision for many, many years.

When local reporter Joe Sonka asked McConnell whether voters should expect the senator to push Social Security privatization after the midterms, McConnell replied, “I’m not announcing what the agenda would be in advance.”

Wait, he’s not?

I’m starting to think Republicans have collectively forgotten the point of a political campaign. Last week, Scott Brown told voters in New Hampshire, “I’m not going to talk about whether we’re going to do something in the future.” Around the same time, McConnell said he’ll only announce Senate Republicans’ agenda after the election.

This is a little nutty, even by 2014 standards. Call me old fashioned, but in a democracy, candidates are supposed to tell voters what they’d do if elected. Then, after the election, the winning candidates are supposed to pursue the agenda endorsed by the electorate.

When McConnell says “I’m not announcing what the agenda would be in advance,” he’s getting democracy backwards. The longtime incumbent is asking voters to give him control of the Senate first, at which point he’ll tell everyone what he intends to do with his power.

It’s an odd pitch. Either McConnell still intends to eliminate Social Security, replacing it with private accounts, or he doesn’t. The senator brought this up as an example of his bipartisan outreach, so it’s not unreasonable to ask whether he still intends to pursue an anti-Social Security agenda if McConnell gets a promotion.

This probably isn’t the issue McConnell wanted to deal with in the campaign’s final week, but he opened the door, and shouldn’t be too surprised when others walk through it.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 27, 2014

October 28, 2014 Posted by | Democracy, Mitch Mc Connell, Social Security | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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