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“Just Another Conservative Con Game”: This Is About Political Cash, Not Political Principle

Brian Walsh, a former spokesperson for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, recently offered his take on why far-right groups like Heritage Action and the Senate Conservatives Fund keep Republican activists so riled up about the Affordable Care Act: “[T]his is about political cash, not political principle…. You see, money begets TV ads which begets even more money for these groups’ personal coffers.”

According to Walsh, who knows the internal workings of GOP politics quite well, conservative activist organizations are effectively waging a political war because political wars make for a convenient fundraising tool.

National Review‘s Robert Costa reports today on the same phenomenon.

As the deadline to fund the federal government nears, Republican leaders are struggling mightily to come up with legislation that can pass the House. Over the weekend, leadership staffers fired off anxious e-mails and uneasy veteran House members exchanged calls. Both camps fear that a shutdown is increasingly likely — and they blame the conservative movement’s cottage industry of pressure groups.

But these organizations, ensconced in Northern Virginia office parks and elsewhere, aren’t worried about the establishment’s ire. In fact, they welcome it. Business has boomed since the push to defund Obamacare caught on. Conservative activists are lighting up social media, donations are pouring in, and e-mail lists are growing.

This would help explain a few things.

Why would Republican groups invest so much energy and resources into attacking conservative Republicans? Why would these far-right organizations push a strategy that would undermine their allies’ political standing and put the House GOP majority at risk? Why would the groups pretend to be hair-on-fire apoplectic about a moderate health care reform law based on bipartisan provisions?

Because it puts money in their pockets, that’s why.

It’s not just the far-right activist groups, either. Remember this one from early August?

Sen. Mike Lee is using his effort to defund Obamacare as a mechanism to fund his campaign coffers.

The Utah Republican sent out a fundraising pitch on Thursday morning, asking for a contribution to help him “keep pressuring my fellow legislators to defund Obamacare before it’s too late.” Lee is up for reelection in 2016.

As we talked about at the time, Lee won’t actually defund the Affordable Care Act, a fact that won’t be affected one way or the other by his supporters’ willingness to open their wallets.

But the Utah Republican nevertheless believes his efforts — and the notoriety of his crusade — will rile up the base and help fill his campaign bank accounts, so he pushes the message anyway, just like Heritage and related groups.

Chris Hayes made a point recently that continues to resonate: “Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base are the marks.”

Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting the anti-Obamacare hysterics are entirely a fundraising scam — congressional Republicans are dominated by truly radical ideologues, many of whom are entirely sincere in their inexplicable beliefs. For these extremists, financial motivations matter, but undermining President Obama and preventing struggling Americans from receiving publicly subsidized health care coverage matters more.

But to overlook the dollar signs in conservative leaders’ eyes is to miss the whole picture.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 17, 2013

September 19, 2013 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Conservatives | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Arbiter For Women”: Todd Akin Just Can’t Seem To “Shut It Down”

Rep. Todd Akin, the controversial Missouri Republican running for the U.S. Senate this year, isn’t exactly a champion on the issue of women’s health. He is, after all, under the impression that women can magically “shut down” unwanted pregnancies caused by “legitimate” rapes.

One might think, then, that Akin would try to avoid women’s issues altogether, focusing his attention elsewhere. But it appears the right-wing congressman just can’t help himself.

Since Missouri GOP Senate nominee Todd Akin’s comments about “legitimate rape” rarely causing pregnancy, he has attempted to do damage control with women voters. he noted, in an apology ad, that he has two daughters and wants “tough justice for predators.” He trumpeted his women for Akin coalition.

But a new comment isn’t likely to help his efforts to appeal to women voters: Akin noted that his opponent, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, was more “ladylike” during the 2006 campaign.

Oh good, Todd Akin wants to present himself as the arbiter of whether women are, in his estimation, “ladylike” enough to meet his discerning standards.

In this case, Akin told the Kansas City Star that McCaskill, as far as he’s concerned, “had a confidence and was much more ladylike” six years ago.

And what do Akin’s new-found friends at the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Republican National Committee have to say about this. “Decline to comment.”

Imagine that.

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 27, 2012

September 28, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Anti-Woman Party”: GOP Candidates Feeling Pressure From NRSC’s Flirtation With Todd Akin

Yesterday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee announced in a statement that it might yet fund the candidacy of Representative Todd Akin as he tries to unseat Senator Claire McCaskill in Missouri. “As with every Republican Senate candidate, we hope Todd Akin wins in November and we will continue to monitor this race closely in the days ahead,” said NRSC executive director Rob Jesner. (In August, the NRSC claimed that “if [Akin] continues with this misguided campaign, it will be without the support and resources of the NRSC.”)

Will the NRSC actually go through with this, and thus likely bring American Crossroads and other big-money outside groups into the fray? I reasoned yesterday that this won’t happen, because (1) Akin probably can’t win, so this would be a waste of resources, and (2) it would tar other Republican candidates also funded by these groups.

The NRSC’s flip may indicate it has some data showing Akin can actually prevail, a worrying thought indeed. But make no mistake—if the NRSC does jump in behind Akin again, it will create enormous pressure on several Republicans running for Senate, particularly incumbents.

As soon as the NRSC statement went out yesterday afternoon, Democrats began the inevitable guilt-by-association campaign. “All Republican candidates across the country are now going to have to answer for their party’s support of Akin,” said Senator Patty Murray, chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “In case you were wondering whether the Republican party was anti-woman, now you know…they are,” tweeted Matt Canter, the group’s communications director.

Today, the DSCC found an ingenious and more direct way to implicate some incumbent Republican Senatorial candidates in the Akin fiasco, particularly Senator Scott Brown. It’s common for high-profile senators to raise money for the NRSC, in part so that it may help fund the candidacies of lower-profile challengers. (Like, say, Akin). The DSCC noted today that Brown has helped raise a whopping $3.7 million for the NRSC this cycle.

Since Brown previously called Akin’s comments “outrageous, inappropriate, and wrong,” and asked him to withdraw from the Senate race, the DSCC is calling on Brown to get his money back from the NRSC and denounce Akin once again:

“There should be no doubt that a vote for Scott Brown is also a vote for an anti-woman party that supports extremists like Todd Akin,” said Guy Cecil, Executive Director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “Todd Akin’s views represent the official position of the Republican Party, and a vote for Brown is a vote to inflict that anti-woman agenda on the entire country. Brown’s silence speaks volumes. Brown should immediately demand his money back and renounce the party’s decision to embrace Todd Akin.”

Renouncing Akin again might be easy for Brown—though he hasn’t yet done it—but asking for that large chunk of money back won’t be. And if Brown doesn’t, Elizabeth Warren can now fairly say Brown helped fund Akin’s candidacy. This is an incredibly tough position for Brown, and it’s a squeeze likely to be put on other candidates in the days ahead if the NRSC actually pulls the trigger. (The DSCC is similarly targeting Nevada Senator Dean Heller, too, as he’s locked in a tight re-election battle and also raised money for the NRSC).

The NRSC might still back Akin, but the polls will have to look awful, awful good—because it’s making life a lot more difficult for a number of other candidates who still have a chance to win.

By: George Zornick, The Nation, September 27, 2012

September 28, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Senate | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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