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“With Friends Like These”: Lack Of Enthusiasm Among Romney’s Highest-Profile Supporters

There’s been some scuttlebutt about Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) possibly becoming Mitt Romney’s running mate. Folks may want to put those rumors on hold for a little while.

Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana endorsed Mitt Romney for president on Wednesday — then criticized him a day later in an interview with The Indianapolis Star. […]

“You have to campaign to govern, not just to win,” Mr. Daniels told Matthew Tully of The Indianapolis Star. “Spend the precious time and dollars explaining what’s at stake and a constructive program to make life better. And as I say, look at everything through the lens of folks who have yet to achieve.”

According to Mr. Tully, “after a pause, Daniels added with disappointment, ‘Romney doesn’t talk that way.’ “

Daniels went on to urge Romney to talk with voters “with some specificity” about his agenda, with the implication being that the presumptive Republican nominee has not yet done so thus far.

In the larger context, the fact that Daniels was publicly critical of Romney a day after endorsing him falls into another pattern we’ve seen: Romney’s supporters are less than kind towards their preferred presidential candidate.

Shortly after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) threw his support to Romney, the senator said, “There are a lot of other people out there that some of us wish had run for president — but they didn’t.” Shortly after former NRCC Chairman Tom Davis endorsed Romney, he said on national television, “He may not be Mr. Personality. You know, he’s the guy who gives the fireside chat and the fire goes out.”

And shortly after Jon Huntsman announced his support for Romney, he argued on MSNBC in support of “some sort of third-party movement or some alternative voice out there that can put forward new ideas.”

Can’t you just feel the enthusiasm among Romney’s highest-profile supporters?

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 20, 2012

April 22, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Unappealing Candidates”: Sorry, Republicans, Your Savior Won’t Come

In Politico’s Playbook on Saturday Mike Allen reported that elite Republicans are still fantasizing about a superhero who will swoop in to free them from the limitations of their current crop of contenders [the all-capitalized phrases are Allen’s]:

A tippy-top Republican, unprompted, yesterday sketched the germ of a plan for a new candidate if Rick Santorum upsets Mitt Romney in the Michigan primary on Feb. 28. Our friend brought visual aids: chicken-scratched versions of prosaic documents that are circulating among GOP insiders like nuclear-code sheets…. The point: even after Feb. 28, it might be possible to assemble a Hail Mary candidacy that could garner enough delegates to force a CONTESTED convention….

At that very moment, ABC’S Jonathan Karl was at the Capitol, having a conversation that resulted in this Richter-rattler: “A prominent Republican senator just told me that if Romney can’t win in Michigan, the Republican Party needs to go back to the drawing board and convince somebody new to get into the race. ‘If Romney cannot win Michigan, we need a new candidate,’ said the senator…. “Santorum? ‘He’d lose 35 states,’ the senator said, predicting the same fate for Newt Gingrich. It would have to be somebody else, the senator said.  Who? ‘Jeb Bush.’ ”

This is silly because no candidate exists who would be simultaneously more acceptable to the Republican base and independents than both Romney and Santorum. And if he did, he’d be a fool to sign on for this unpleasant adventure.

The candidates whose names are being tossed out as options—Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush—have plenty of potential liabilities. Daniels has been fined for drug possession. His marital history is complicated, although at least on the surface it’s much more sympathetic than, say, Newt Gingrich’s. He also was director of the Office of Management and Budget back when George W. Bush was running up the budget deficit, something Republicans claim to have been upset by at the time, although we know they are lying. Perhaps, like having supported an individual mandate in healthcare reform, it could become an ex post facto disqualification.

Chris Christie, who has already endorsed Romney, has taken a stance against Islamophobia, a position that offends many conservatives. Meanwhile, his angry, abrasive shtick might play badly among soccer mom swing voters.

Jeb Bush is the brother of former President George W. Bush. I don’t think that point requires further illumination.

And what would be their incentive for getting in the race? To have their histories pored over, to spend days raising money and rushing to put together a campaign only to risk embarrassment? Since it’s no longer possible for a new entrant to win the nomination outright, the reward would merely be winning enough delegates to force a fight at the convention. If these candidates couldn’t be persuaded to accept the hassles of a Republican primary when it was winnable, why would any of them do so now?

Republicans should come to grips with the fact that the nominee is going to be one of the remaining, unappealing candidates.

 

By: Ben Adler, The Nation, February 20, 2012

February 21, 2012 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does Right To Work Actually Lead to More Jobs?

A study by two economists sheds doubt on whether right-to-work laws are all they’re cracked up to be.

Most people watching the Super Bowl last night probably had no idea that only a few days before, in the same city of Indianapolis, Governor Mitch Daniels signed a law that will cripple unions. As I’ve written before, Indiana is the first Rust Belt state to pass a right-to-work law, which prohibits both mandatory union membership and collecting fees from non-members. The news, however, has hardly gotten the attention the labor-minded might have expected. Blame it on the big game or the GOP presidential primary. Or blame it on the loss of union power that allowed the law to pass in the first place.

Whatever the reason, this lack of stories has meant little discussion of the actual impact of right-to-work legislation. Daniels, along with many proponents of such measures, argues that companies choose to locate in right-to-work states rather than in states with powerful unions. And the Indiana governor says he’s already seeing the fruits of the newly passed law. Union advocates, meanwhile, say the laws decrease not only union power but also wages and workplace protections. According to conventional wisdom, it seems, the choice is between fewer good jobs and more cruddy jobs.

But according to Gordon Lafer, an economist at the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center, that’s a false choice. In fact, he says, there’s no evidence that right-to-work laws have any positive impact on employment or bringing back manufacturing jobs.

While 23 states have right-to-work legislation, Lafer says that to adequately judge the law’s impact in today’s economy, you have to look at states that passed the law after the United States embraced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and free trade in general. “Anything before the impact of NAFTA started to be felt in the late ’90s is meaningless in terms of what it can tell us,” he says.

Because of free-trade agreements, companies can go to other countries and get their goods made for a fraction of the cost. Even in the most anti-union state in the country, there are still basic worker protections and a minimum-wage law to deal with. Such “roadblocks” to corporate profit can disappear if the business relocates overseas. “The wage difference that right to work makes … is meaningless compared to the wage savings you can have leaving the country,” Lafer says.

Only one state has passed right to work since NAFTA: Oklahoma in 2001. (Before that, the most recent was Idaho in 1985.) About a year ago, Lafer and economist Sylvia Allegretto published a report for the Economic Policy Institute* exploring just what had happened in the decade since Oklahomans got their “right to work.” The results weren’t pretty.

Rather than increasing job opportunities, the state saw companies relocate out of Oklahoma. In high-tech industries and those service industries “dependent on consumer spending in the local economy” the laws appear to have actually damaged growth. At the end of the decade, 50,000 fewer Oklahoma residents had jobs in manufacturing. Perhaps most damning, Lafer and Allegretto could find no evidence that the legislation had a positive impact on employment rates.

“It will not bring new jobs in, but it will result in less wages and benefits for everybody including non-union workers,” says Lafer.

*Full disclosure: I was a writing fellow at the Economic Policy Institute in 2008.

 

By: Abby Rapoport, The American Prospect, February 6, 2012

February 7, 2012 Posted by | Economy, Labor | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Republican Indiana Secretary Of State Convicted Of Voter Fraud

Though President Ronald Reagan called the right to vote the “crown jewel of American liberties,” many Republicans around the country have begun demanding increased voting restrictions in the name of fighting “voter fraud.”  Though actual cases of voting fraud are so rare that a voter is much more likely to be struck by lightningthan to commit fraud at the polls, one Republican official in Indiana has proved that lightning can strike himself.

Yesterday, a jury found Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White (R) guilty on six felony counts of voter fraud, theft, and perjury.  The conviction cost White his job, though he plans to ask the judge to reduce the charges to misdemeanors and hopes to perhaps regain the position.

In a statement, Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) announced White’s deputy will take over on an interim basis:

I have chosen not to make a permanent appointment today out of respect for the judge’s authority to lessen the verdict to a misdemeanor and reinstate the elected office holder… If the felony convictions are not altered, I anticipate making a permanent appointment quickly.

But a second court case could ultimately give the job to Democrat Vop Osili, who lost to White in November 2010.  A judge’s December 2011 ruling — currently on hold, pending appeal — held that due to the voter fraud charges, White’s election was invalid. Should that ruling survive the appeals process, Osili would assume the office.

Ironically, White’s now-removed 2010 campaign website listed election integrity as among his top concerns, and promised he would “protect and defend Indiana’s Voter ID law to ensure our elections are fair and protect the most basic and precious right and responsibility of our democracy-voting.”

 

By: Josh Israel, Think Progress, February 4, 2012

February 5, 2012 Posted by | Voter Fraud | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Problem With The Republican Party Is Not Newt Gingrich Or Mitt Romney

The Republicans chose Mitch Daniels to rebut President Obama’s State of the Union speech. They chose Bush’s budget director to talk about the economy. The guy who inherited the Clinton budget surplus and transformed it into the largest budget deficit in American history. If you want to understand how clueless and out of touch the Republican Party has become, all you have to do is start with their having chosen Mitch Daniels to rebut President Obama’s State of the Union speech.

Republican insiders are freaked out over the possibility of Newt Gingrich becoming their presidential standard bearer. That’s the technical term: freaked out. And that they are so freaked out over that possibility at least speaks to their not having completely lost touch with reality. They have completely lost touch with the American people, but they haven’t completely lost touch with reality. Not completely. At least not yet. But in light of their support for the personification of so much that is so wrong and so unpopular in this country as alternative to Gingrich, their prospects for retaining at least a partial grip on reality are not good. And they did choose Mitch Daniels to rebut President Obama’s State of the Union speech. Which speaks for itself.

The Occupy movement is not overtly political, at least not in the traditional sense of that word. It does not adhere to any political party or any individual political movement, but it is symbiotic with many political movements, and its goals align very well with traditional Democratic Party populism. The Democratic Party has been adrift from its populist traditions, and in many ways that made the Occupy movement necessary, but many Democrats seem to be recognizing what is happening. They seem to be rediscovering the Democratic Party’s populist tradition. The Republican Party has no link at all to populism. The Republican Party, since at least the Reagan era, has been the party of the economic elite, waging neoliberal class warfare and then feigning outrage at what Republicans consider to be the class warfare of merely calling the Republican Party on its actually waging class warfare.

Since the Reagan era, the income gap has exploded, the wealthy have grown wealthier, the poor have grown poorer, the middle class has all but disappeared, and the nation has grown increasingly segregated by income. And while President Obama’s State of the Union speech emphasized the degree to which he understands the importance of the Occupy movement and how it has changed the economic conversation in this country, the Republicans chose Bush Budget Director Mitch Daniels to speak on their behalf, thus demonstrating that they remain utterly clueless about what has gone wrong with the economy, how people feel about what has gone wrong with the economy, and how anything about the economy will ever again go right. While President Obama’s State of the Union speech emphasized the degree to which he understands the importance of the Occupy movement by announcing the appointment of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to investigate the corporate crimes that neoliberal deregulation made inevitable, and that inevitably crashed the economy, the Republicans chose to demonstrate that they remain utterly clueless about what has gone wrong with the economy by having Bush Budget Director Mitch Daniels repeat the same stale failed Republican recipe of tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation, and the class warfare of feigning outrage at the alleged class warfare of calling for economic fairness and justice.

No one will openly admit it, but part of the Republican rationale for having Mitch Daniels rebut President Obama’s State of the Union speech was that he is the choice of many supposedly serious Republicans to make a late entry into the presidential race, or possibly to prevail at a brokered convention. There are actually some Republicans who understand that neither the gruesome Gingrich nor the unprincipled Romney is likely to catch political fire with the voting public. What these Republicans haven’t figured out is why. Because Republican insiders haven’t figured out that the American people are angry at and fed up with a stagnating economy and increasingly obscene income and wealth disparities. The American people don’t want handouts, but they do want a social safety net. But more than anything the American people just want a fair chance. They want to know that if they work hard and obey the laws, they will do better than maybe scraping by. They want to know that if they are taken advantage of by unscrupulous, greedy, politically connected corporations, there will be justice. They want their children and grandchildren to have at least the same, and preferably better, opportunities than they had. In the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the known history of the human race, those goals shouldn’t be considered excessive or but unrealistic fantasies, but to the Republicans those goals not only are unthinkable; they are class warfare.

The Republicans continue to promote policies that hurt people. The Republicans continue to promote policies that will only enrich the already rich while making life more difficult for everyone else. Not many still believe that if the Republicans and their wealthy friends and owners throw a lavish feast, enough crumbs will trickle down to the floor to nourish everyone else. But that’s all the Republicans have to offer. And even their usual means of convincing people to vote against their own best interests won’t work.

Under President Obama, accused terrorists have been caught and killed; one war has been drawn down, if not quite ended; and while not perfect, there is an obvious basic competency in foreign policy and national security. Republican fear-mongering fails. On the domestic front, the Republicans are finding it no longer works to exploit and exacerbate hatred and bigotry. So they turn to the economy. Because no one is happy with the economy. But the problem for the Republicans is that the public well understands who is to blame for the economy, and that someone is named Bush. And then the Republicans decide the perfect person to rebut President Obama’s State of the Union speech is Bush’s former budget director, Mitch Daniels.

The Republicans assume people have very short attention spans. Maybe because so much of their base does. But the fact is that Mitch Daniels played an instrumental role in turning President Clinton’s record federal budget surplus into the largest ever federal deficit. Mitch Daniels disastrously underestimated the cost of Bush’s disastrous war on Iraq. Mitch Daniels helped Bush downgrade the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the years immediately before the Hurricane Katrina disaster. And with the American public increasingly focused on unemployment and income disparity, in his current job as governor of the state that once sent the execrable Dan Quayle to the U.S. Senate, Mitch Daniels is busy waging war on workers. Mitch Daniels played a key role in creating some the worst disasters created by any U.S. president ever, and yet when it comes time to rebut the State of the Union speech given by the president who is leading the tentative recovery from those disasters, it is to Mitch Daniels that the Republicans turn. Mitch Daniels played a key role in creating some the worst disasters ever created by any U.S. president, and yet when it comes time to find a candidate to run against the president who is leading the tentative recovery from those disasters, it is to Mitch Daniels that many supposedly serious Republicans would like to turn.

A lot of Republican insiders are frightened for their party’s future. They should be. But not for the reasons they think. Newt Gingrich is not what’s wrong with the Republican Party. Mitt Romney is not what’s wrong with the Republican Party. That New Gingrich and Mitt Romney are the leading candidates to carry the Republican Party’s standard against President Obama is not what’s wrong with the Republican Party. That Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney are the leading candidates to carry the Republican Party’s standard against President Obama is but a symptom of what’s wrong with the Republican Party. The problem runs wider. The problem runs deeper. The problem is simple. The problem with the Republican Party is the Republican Party.

 

By: Lawrence Lewis, Daily Kos, January 29, 2012

January 30, 2012 Posted by | GOP, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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