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“Six Years Later, Still In A Bind”: RNC Chair’s Broken Promise Caused 2016 Nightmare

Reince Priebus had an awkward morning.

The chairman of the Republican National Committee appeared before some of his biggest skeptics at the Conservative Political Action Conference, and all but conceded that Trump will be the nominee.

It was hard to watch.

Priebus walked onstage with Sean Hannity, and the pair plopped down in bright white chairs for a heart-to-heart about the state of the presidential race. They started with a fairly dry discussion of the RNC’s re-vamped role as a data-gathering organization, with Priebus insisting that the party was doing everything it could to replicate Obama’s 2012 voter-targeting successes.

In 2012, Priebus noted, the party was “embarrassed.”

(Would hate for anything embarrassing to happen this time around!)

Priebus then effectively put a stake in the heart of Rubio’s presidential hopes. According to reports, Rubio and his team are gearing up for a chaotic turn at the party’s convention this summer—that means they hope they can use back-room deals and horse-trading to help Rubio win the nomination, even if Trump or another candidate gets more votes than he does in the primaries. There’s an emerging consensus that this is the only way Rubio could become the party’s nominee. After all, he’s only won a single early state contest, the Minnesota caucuses. Not great.

But Priebus said he doesn’t think any machinations like that will work.

“I think a lot of this is early talk,” he said, alluding to Rubio’s strategy.

“I think the odds of a contested convention are very small.”

When Hannity pressed him further on the prospects of a contested convention, Priebus all-but-explicitly made a dig at Rubio.

“I would suggest that it’s better to win,” he said. “And it’s better to win races and accumulate delegates.”

There’s only one candidate who is on track to win the nomination the old-fashioned way, and last night he bragged about his penis size.

It wasn’t always this way for Priebus. He was hailed as a hero when he came into the position as Republican National Committee boss following the Tea Party-driven election of 2010. While the election results from that year were fantastic for the RNC, the committee had been rocked by a spending scandal—including a bill for nearly $2,000 at a bonage club in West Hollywood. Donors blamed then-chairman Michael Steele.

Six years later, it was Priebus who was in a bind.

Perhaps more significantly, though, Priebus telegraphed a wee bit of chagrin about his party’s undeliverable (and somewhat impossible) promises. Towards the end of their chit-chat, Hannity pressed Priebus on a fact that’s very ugly for the party: Its voters are pissed.

“You look at the state polls, exit polls in every state, there’s anywhere between 55 and 65 percent of Republicans that feel betrayed,” he said.

“On the issue of repealing and replacing Obamacare, on the issue of promising in 2014 to stop executive amnesty, there’s a feeling that Republicans didn’t fight, that they were too timid, that they were afraid they were gonna get blamed for a government shutdown. How does that —”

Priebus interrupted.

“Yeah, if I could singlehandedly repeal Obamacare, if I could, obviously, tear up executive amnesty, I would do it right here,” he said.

“But they had the power of the purse,” Hannity retorted.

“They do, but they also have the Constitution that provides for veto authority,” Priebus replied.

That might sound like a wonky discussion about the mechanics of Congressional funding. But the reality is that it went straight to the heart of why so many loyal, rank-and-file Republican voters are willing to support the guy with the little hands: because on immigration, the Republican Party has over-promised and under-delivered.

In the final week before the 2014 midterm elections, when Republicans were working furiously to defeat incumbent Democrat senators and regain control of the upper chamber, Priebus made a promise he couldn’t keep: He promised that Republicans would defund the president’s executive action protecting millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.

“While I can’t speak for the legislature, I’m very confident we will stop that,” he told a Tea Party group on a conference call. “We will do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t happen: Defunding, going to court, injunction. You name it. It’s wrong. It’s illegal. And for so many reasons, and just the basic fabric of this country, we can’t allow it to happen and we won’t let it happen. I don’t know how to be any stronger than that. I’m telling you, everything we can do to stop it we

That didn’t happen.

In the months after Republicans won back the Senate—thanks in large part to activists rallying behind the party’s anti-undocumented-immigrant rhetoric—nothing happened. Some conservatives in the House and Senate tried to partially defund Department of Homeland Security, and the House took a symbolic vote on it. But fears of a government shutdown kept Republicans from going all-in on the immigration question. So Priebus’s promised opposition never truly materialized.

At CPAC, people remember.

“Look, I’m not—I’m for—I—I—I don’t think you can, you can’t promise things that you can’t deliver,” Priebus said, stammering. “That’s clearly something that you can’t do.”

The crowd murmured and booed.

“As the chairman of the RNC I don’t get—I don’t have the authority to walk across the street and pass the bills singlehandedly,” he said, after Hannity tried to shush the riled-up crowd.

“The people elected—that’s what are primaries for,” he continued.

Gulp.

 

By: Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, March 4, 2016

March 6, 2016 Posted by | CPAC, GOP Presidential Candidates, Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“We Can’t Do The Rubio Thing Anymore”: More Bad News For Marco Rubio: He Just Lost The Support Of Fox News

In his role as the donor class’s darling, Marco Rubio has enjoyed support from the Republicans’ media arm, Fox News. Throughout the primary, Fox provided Rubio with friendly interviews and key bookings, including the first prime-time response to Barack Obama’s Oval Office address on ISIS. Many of the network’s top pundits, including Stephen Hayes and Charles Krauthammer, have been enthusiastic boosters. Bill Sammon, Fox’s Washington managing editor, is the father of Rubio’s communications director, Brooke Sammon.

But this alliance now seems to be over. According to three Fox sources, Fox chief Roger Ailes has told people he’s lost confidence in Rubio’s ability to win. “We’re finished with Rubio,” Ailes recently told a Fox host. “We can’t do the Rubio thing anymore.”

Ailes was already concerned about Rubio’s lackluster performance in GOP primaries and caucuses, winning only one contest among the 15 that have been held. But the more proximate cause for the flip was an embarrassing New York Times article revealing that Rubio and Ailes had a secret dinner meeting in 2013 during which the Florida senator successfully lobbied the Fox News chief to throw his support behind the “Gang of 8” comprehensive immigration-reform bill. “Roger hates seeing his name in print,” a longtime Ailes associate told me. “He was appalled the dinner was reported,” the source said.

Already, there are on-air signs that Fox’s attitude toward Rubio has cooled. This morning, anchor Martha MacCallum grilled Rubio about his poor Super Tuesday performance. “Is that a viable excuse at this point?” she asked, when he tried spinning his second-place finish in Virginia.

Fox’s corporate support of Rubio has also been a growing source of tension with the network’s more conservative talent. Sean Hannity was furious that the Times article reported how he went along with Rubio’s immigration proposal. During an interview with Trump on Monday, Hannity barely defended Fox while Trump trashed Rubio backers like Hayes. “He shouldn’t be on the air,” Trump said. The best Hannity could muster was to change the subject. “Have you ever watched MSNBC?” he said. “They suck.”

Ailes is now back to searching for a candidate the channel can rally behind. “He’s thinking, What do we do about the whole damn thing?” one of the news executive’s friends said.

Fox News spokesperson Irena Briganti did not return a call for comment.

 

By: Gabriel Sherman, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, March 2, 2016

March 3, 2016 Posted by | Fox News, GOP Campaign Donors, Marco Rubio, Roger Ailes | , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Early Thoughts On A Clinton/Trump Race”: Does Not Preclude Demonstrating To Voters That He Is A Fool

For the last few days, my head has wanted to play with the idea of what a general election match-up between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would look like. To be honest, I’ve tried to fend off those thoughts because – if we’ve learned anything from this primary season so far – it is that forecasting the future of this race is a fools errand. For example, take a look at how David Plouffe handicapped Trump’s chances in the general:

But today I’m reading about Democrats starting to prepare to face Trump in November. Stan Greenberg’s Democracy Corps released some interesting data about Republican voters. In addition, Amy Chozick and Patrick Healy talked to people in the Clinton camp about how they are preparing to face The Donald.

After all that, I can’t stop myself. With full caveats about how things might change, I have a few thoughts to share about a Clinton/Trump contest.

First of all, unlike Greg Sargent, I never doubted that Democrats would take Trump seriously. Given the Party’s propensity to “Oh, my!!” at the slightest challenge, I’d be much more concerned about the possibility of cowering at his supposed strength.

What has been tripping my synapses lately is the reality that the whole conversation changes (mostly for Republicans) once it turns away from appealing to base voters and heads towards the general populace. Republicans have avoided going after Trump too hard for fear of offending his supporters. The Clinton campaign won’t share that concern.

While Mrs. Clinton radiates positive energy on the trail, Democratic groups are beginning to coalesce around a strategy to deliver sustained and brutal attacks on Mr. Trump.

The plan has three major thrusts: Portray Mr. Trump as a heartless businessman who has worked against the interests of the working-class voters he now appeals to; broadcast the degrading comments he has made against women in order to sway suburban women, who have been reluctant to support Mrs. Clinton; and highlight his brash, explosive temper to show he is unsuited to be commander in chief.

On the debate stage, Trump won’t be surrounded by weak candidates trying to show that they can out-bully him with moderators like Hugh Hewitt and the cast at Fox News. He might actually be pressed to answer questions about things like how he would deal with Vladimir Putin or how he would round up 11 million undocumented people or what he would do about climate change. Imagine that!

Chozick and Healy focus on the fact that Clinton and Trump are polar opposites when it comes to approach.

Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton are polar opposite politicians, and Mr. Trump’s direct and visceral style could prove difficult for Mrs. Clinton, whose inclination is detailed policy talk and 12-point plans.

That kind of thing might have been worrying before we all saw how Clinton handled the Republican members at the Benghazi Hearing a few months ago. For eleven hours she maintained her composure while they threw their rants and raves at her. In the end, they were the ones who looked foolish. I can imagine something similar in a general election debate.

Finally, I am looking forward to the day that President Obama is able to weigh in on the campaign trail for the Democratic nominee. Over the years he has shown several characteristics that Clinton could employ. For example, the President has been a master at giving the opposition enough rope to hang themselves. One needs only recall the moment when he simply said, “Please proceed, Governor” to Mitt Romney during a debate. He is also the person who – to this day – has done the best job of using humor against Donald Trump. Remember this?

There are a lot of ways to take a potential Donald Trump nomination seriously. That does not preclude demonstrating to voters that he is a fool.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, March 1, 2016

March 2, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Governors Exact Their Revenge On Marco Rubio”: Governors Against Callow And Outrageous Candidates

There was a time when Republican governors were not all that different from Democratic governors.

The politicians from both parties who ran the states tended to be a pragmatic lot. They were pro-business because they wanted their people to have jobs, but they championed government spending in the areas that contribute to economic development, starting with education and transportation.

Democratic governors still largely behave that way, but many of their Republican peers have followed their national party to the right and now run far more ideological administrations. North Carolina, Kansas and Wisconsin are prime examples of this break from a longer GOP tradition.

But in a pivotal debate here on Saturday night, the old solidarity among Republicans in charge of statehouses made a comeback of convenience. Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and John Kasich of Ohio and former Florida governor Jeb Bush are competitors, but they had no qualms about creating an ad hoc alliance that might be called Governors Against Callow and Outrageous Candidates.

They took on both Donald Trump and, indirectly, Sen. Ted Cruz. But their central target was Sen. Marco Rubio, who had a chance to put all three governors away with a strong performance. Instead, thanks to the pugilistic Christie, Rubio wilted.

In nearly every season, there is a media favorite whose standing with journalists relates not to ideology but to what reporters think a good candidate should look and sound like. For some time, Rubio has been that guy. Fresh and fluent, Rubio seems to bridge the party’s divides. He was nominated for the Senate as a tea party favorite, but was really an insider. You don’t get to be speaker of the Florida House of Representatives by being a mavericky rogue.

On paper at least, he’s the potential GOP nominee who scares Democrats the most. A young Cuban American (age: 44) would presumably have a nice edge on either of the Democratic candidates (ages: 68 and 74), and Rubio loves playing the generational card.

In practice, trying to be all things to all Republicans has often thrown Rubio off balance. His multiple positions on immigration reform make him both a target of the GOP’s anti-immigration hard-liners and the object of (mostly private) scorn from Republicans who were struggling to get an immigration bill passed.

All along, the question about Rubio has been whether he’s too good to be true. After Christie’s clinical takedown during their encounter at Saint Anselm College, this suspicion is now front and center.

“Marco, the thing is this,” Christie thundered. “When you’re president of the United States, when you’re a governor of a state, the memorized 30-second speech where you talk about how great America is at the end of it doesn’t solve one problem for one person. They expect you to plow the snow. They expect you to get the schools open. And when the worst natural disaster in your state’s history hits you, they expect you to rebuild their state, which is what I’ve done. None of that stuff happens on the floor of the United States Senate.”

Ah, yes, governing is about running a government, even if Republicans aren’t supposed to like government.

The real shock was that Rubio played right into Christie’s hands by repeating a canned attack on President Obama four times. Christie couldn’t believe his good fortune. “There it is. There it is,” Christie declared, basking in his eureka moment, and chopping five seconds off the prefabricated Rubio sound bite. “The memorized 25-second speech. There it is, everybody.”

Of course, none of the three governors is like the moderate (let alone liberal) GOP executives of old. Kasich came closest when he insisted that conservatism should mean that “everybody has a chance to rise regardless of who they are so they can live their God-given purpose.” Bush had by far his best debate, for once taking on Trump without backing off, and he has looked comfortable, even happy, in his final town halls around the state. But over and over, Bush made clear just how conservative he was as governor, and how conservative he’d be as president.

Nonetheless, for one night, positioning, ideology and Obama-bashing wrapped in an attractive new package were not enough for Rubio. It’s not clear what Christie did for his own candidacy, but he performed a service by reminding his party that running a government is serious work and ought to be respected. That this was revelatory shows how far contemporary conservatism has strayed from the essential tasks of politics.

 

By: E. J. Dionne, Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, February 7, 2016

February 8, 2016 Posted by | Chris Christie, GOP Primary Debates, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Marco Rubio | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Far, Far More Right-Wing”: Marco Rubio Isn’t The Second Coming Of George W. Bush. He’s Much Worse

With his unexpectedly strong third-place showing in the Iowa caucuses, Marco Rubio demonstrated that he’s the Republican establishment’s best shot to scuttle the Donald Trump and Ted Cruz insurgencies. And now, in the aftermath of Iowa, thoughtful critics of that establishment, from the liberal Jonathan Chait to my paleoconservative colleague at The Week Michael Brendan Dougherty, have begun to describe Rubio as the second coming of George W. Bush.

The comparison makes sense in a purely formal way. Like W in 2000, Rubio promises to unite the party’s grumpy, warring factions (which have grown much grumpier and more belligerent over the past 16 years), making Rubio a strong consensus choice within the party. It’s also true that this formal unity would be built out of the same old planks that have formed the party’s platform since Reagan’s first election: deficit-fueled tax cuts for upper-income earners, strident military interventionism abroad, and lots of speeches (but few policies) in support of traditional faith and families.

But this obscures the fact that substantively, Rubio is far, far more right-wing than George W. Bush ever was. That Rubio has a chance of serving as a consensus candidate positioned somewhere near the ideological center of his party is a tribute to just how far right the GOP has lurched since Bush left office seven years ago.

Here are five areas where Rubio clearly and sharply outflanks W on the right.

Bush signed Medicare, Part D into law, vastly expanding drug benefits for millions of Americans. Rubio, by contrast, has promised with great fanfare that he will eagerly work with Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would strip millions of Americans of health insurance. It’s also true that, like all the Republican presidential candidates, Rubio talks vaguely about replacing the ACA with a wonderful, unspecified market-based alternative. But no informed commentator on either side of the issue expects any Republican proposal to strive for coverage of as many people as the ACA currently does — let alone as many people as it would have covered if a series of Republican governors hadn’t refused to participate in the law’s expansion of Medicaid.

Bush cut taxes drastically. Rubio, meanwhile, would cut them…even more drastically. How much more? His proposed tax cut amounts to more than three times the size of the Bush tax cuts, with nearly half of it going to the top 5 percent of income-earners. These cuts would produce a revenue shortfall of $6 trillion after 10 years. That’s an amount that even staunch conservatives have described as “huge” and “irresponsible.”

Pro-lifers loved Bush, and for good reason. He appointed a string of conservative judges to the bench, and he spoke frequently about how every child, born and unborn, should be “protected in law and welcomed in life.” Yet on abortion, too, Rubio manages to place himself several steps to Bush’s right, refusing to permit exceptions for terminating pregnancies in cases of rape or incest.For all of Bush’s manifest foreign policy failings, he consistently upheld the distinction between the religion of Islam and terrorists who murder in its name. Compare that to Rubio, who has picked up the bad habit common to post-Bush Republicans of speaking much less precisely and responsibly about the supposedly severe danger that Muslims pose to the United States. Rubio has even suggested that the federal government should shut down any place that Muslims gather to be “inspired,” including mosques — a move that would place Rubio on a collision course with several clauses of the First Amendment.

Rubio resembled Bush most closely in the months following the 2012 presidential election, when the junior senator from Florida took on a leadership role in the Senate’s efforts to revive a failed initiative of W’s second term — a reform of the nation’s immigration laws, including a push to devise a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. The reform effort failed, and his role in it is now widely presumed to be Rubio’s greatest electoral liability. (Sort of like how the rightward listing GOP treated Mitt Romney’s signature achievement as governor of Massachusetts as a potentially fatal electoral defect during his 2012 presidential campaign.) The result? On immigration, too, Rubio now finds himself far to Bush’s right, railing about the need to close and seal the nation’s southern border before even beginning to talk about any other kind of reform.

The lesson? Don’t oppose Rubio because his presidency would amount to a third term for George W. Bush. Do it because a Rubio presidency would be a whole lot worse.

 

By: Damon Linker, The Week, February 3, 2016

 

 

February 7, 2016 Posted by | Establishment Republicans, George W Bush, GOP Presidential Candidates, Marco Rubio | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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