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“Leaving The Top Of The Ticket Blank”: More Conservatives Backing Away From Trump Nomination

As conservatives all over the country come to terms with Donald Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party, a cohort of conservative political figures and media personalities are actively fighting against him. Here’s what they have said about the racist billionaire’s ascension to the party nomination:

Steve Deace, host of conservative talk show The Steve Deace Show, in USA Today.

“But it’s not Donald Trump’s fault any more than it’s the fault of your pet scorpion when it stings you. After all, it takes a special kind of stupid to allow an animal with a poisonous stinger close enough to do that to you in the first place. The scorpion is simply being a scorpion. You, on the other hand, are supposed to know better.”

David Limbaugh, brother of conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, in Townhall:

“If Trump wants our support (and sometimes he implies he doesn’t), he should have to convince us that he will not move toward authoritarianism; that he will honor the Constitution; that he will not take steps to use the Republican Party (or any other party) to permanently undermine constitutional conservatism; and that he won’t cater to those in his movement who want to cast constitutional conservatism into the burning dumpster.”

“I am not ‘NeverTrump’ — I recognize how bad Clinton is — but I think conservatives should now use what leverage they have to hold Trump’s feet to the fire so that we don’t lose either way.”

Former Republican Dallas County party chairman Jonathan Neerman, quoted in TIME

“That would leave me with leaving the top of the ticket blank,” [he said.] “I will fill out the rest of my ballot for every other Republican candidate. I just won’t vote for Donald Trump, and I certainly won’t vote for Hillary Clinton.”

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, quoted in The Hill

“I also cannot in good conscience support Donald Trump because I do not believe he is a reliable Republican conservative nor has he displayed the judgment and temperament to serve as commander in chief.”

Former Texas congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul, speaking on Fox Business:

“I don’t think he offers anything and hardly do I think Hillary offers anything,” said

Conservative commentator Linda Chavez, in Newsmax:

“I have said it often enough, but it bears repeating: I will not vote for Donald Trump for president. There are millions like me. We fully understand the consequences — another four years of a Democrat in the White House — even if we do not like them.”

Former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, at “a dinner in Washington,” according to The Washington Examiner

“I happen to think that the person who is leading the nation has an enormous and disproportionate impact on the course of the world, so I am dismayed at where we are now, I wish we had better choices, and I keep hoping that somehow things will get better, and I just don’t see an easy answer from where we are.”

Radio host and leading anti-Trump conservative Glenn Beck, speaking on his network, The Blaze:

“Because what’s going to happen is you are now going to have Hillary Clinton legalize as many voters as you can, the GOP is going to be completely racist – whether it’s true or not – because of Donald Trump. You will never have another Republican president ever again.”

Despite the widespread opposition to Trump, it’s uncertain whether so many conservative politicians and commentators will have any effect. Trump has picked up the endorsements of a growing number of Republican governors and congressmen who have insisted that the racist billionaire should be supported as a matter of duty to the party. Despite their exhortations, it will be hard to paper over the deep divisions that have emerged between the two sides of the Republican Party.

 

By: Saif Alnuweiri, The National Memo, May 6, 2016

May 8, 2016 Posted by | Conservatism, Conservatives, Donald Trump | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Marco Rubio’s Big Problem — And His Party’s”: It’s Sort Of Like Being Cured Of Your Electoral Syphilis By Contracting Gonorrhea

Believe it or not, the Iowa caucuses are just over a month away. And Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — establishment darling and the cognoscenti’s assumed front-runner — is heading to Iowa for a bus tour, bringing along a shiny new endorsement from Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, head of the special committee on Benghazi. Can you feel the excitement?

Probably not, which is why this is an excellent demonstration of Rubio’s problem, and the problem the GOP is facing as the actual voting approaches. While everyone waits for the voters to finally figure out that they ought to be supporting Rubio, the only candidate who at the moment looks like he might be able to defeat Donald Trump is Ted Cruz. From the perspective of the party’s fortunes in the general election, that would be sort of like being cured of your electoral syphilis by contracting gonorrhea.

On one hand, it’s understandable that the Rubio campaign would try to make a big deal out of Gowdy’s support, since Republican politicians have been stingy with endorsements this year and Gowdy is well-liked among his colleagues on Capitol Hill. But when Trump dismissed the endorsement by saying that Gowdy’s Benghazi hearings were “a total disaster,” you could almost hear Republican voters nodding in agreement. The special committee was just one more iteration of the pattern that has Republican voters so disgusted with their Washington leadership: touted as the vehicle to bring down Hillary Clinton, it ended up backfiring and doing nothing but make Republicans look foolish. So once again, Capitol Hill Republicans overpromised and showed their constituents that they’re ineffectual. It’s hard to imagine that too many base voters, in Iowa or anywhere else, are going to say, “Well, if Trey Gowdy likes Marco Rubio, that’s good enough for me.”

For a contrast, look at the Iowa endorsements Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) has gotten. There’s Rep. Steve King, who’s an embarrassment to the national party but is also perhaps the single most anti-immigrant member of Congress, a good thing to be right now (particularly given that immigration is Rubio’s area of greatest vulnerability among primary voters). There’s Bob Vander Plaats of the Family Leader, probably the state’s most influential evangelical activist. And there’s Steve Deace, the state’s most important conservative talk radio host. It’s an anti-establishment triumvirate, each with a genuine ability to bring voters along with them, all backing Cruz.

Of course, as much of a boost as a candidate can get from winning Iowa, it doesn’t guarantee anything, as Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, the winners of the last two caucuses, can attest. (Little-known fact: both Huckabee and Santorum are running for president this year.) But unlike them, Cruz has laid a foundation in money and organization to take advantage of all the attention a win in Iowa would produce.

If you’re a Rubio supporter, you’re probably frustrated with the fact that your party’s base seems stubbornly unwilling to recognize Rubio’s obvious advantages for the general election. By now, a vigorous debate about electability should have been in full swing, with Republican voters trying to determine which candidate would have the greatest appeal to independent voters and do best against Hillary Clinton. But that discussion has been pretty quiet, for the simple reason that the voters don’t seem to care very much. They’re angry about the state of the country and they’re fed up with their party’s leadership, so telling them that Rubio has more crossover potential than Cruz isn’t going to be all that persuasive.

So Marco Rubio can have Trey Gowdy vouch for him, but at this moment, and for the purposes of the election’s first contest, it probably won’t do any good. That isn’t to say that things won’t change — it never hurts to remind ourselves that the voting hasn’t started yet, and there will almost certainly be a few twists and turns before the party picks its nominee. But the anger of the Republican base at the party’s leadership has all along been the driving force of this campaign, and that’s one thing that probably isn’t going to change. The question is who can best turn it to their advantage.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, December 28, 2015

December 29, 2015 Posted by | Establishment Republicans, Iowa Caucuses, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Congratulations Mitch”: The New Cruzians Are Ready To Make Life Hell For Mitch McConnell

Congratulations, Mitch McConnell! You now have the hardest job in Washington.

That dubious distinction used to belong to belong to House Speaker John Boehner, who has struggled since 2011 to manage a GOP majority so unwieldy he called it everything from “frogs in a wheelbarrow” to the “knucklehead” caucus.

But as the incoming Senate majority leader, it will now fall to McConnell to receive legislation from the House, shepherd it past his 53-member majority, and deliver completed bills to the president, all while keeping the government open for business.

McConnell’s difficult job will be made enormously more complicated by the makeup of his incoming three-seat majority. It includes at least three senators eyeing a run for president (Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul), and 11 new Republican members, three of whom have been pegged by grassroots activists as the conservative cavalry riding in as reinforcements for the Cruz wing of the party.

Those senators—Joni Ernst of Iowa, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and Ben Sasse from Nebraska—were all breakout stars for activists in the 2014 cycle. They raked in millions of dollars from outside groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund, and are the three that conservatives like Steve Deace, the nationally syndicated conservative radio host from Iowa, say they expect the most from.

“What I heard from conservatives I talked to around the country during the election was ‘Who is going to go there and help out Cruz and [Sen. Mike] Lee? Who is going to help out the wacko birds?’” said Deace, referring to the derisive term Sen. John McCain once used to describe Cruz that conservatives now wear as a badge of honor. “Our expectation is that [Ernst, Cotton and Sasse] are going to join the ranks of the wacko birds. That’s our expectation.”

Deace and his listeners won’t be the only ones looking to the trio to for results. So will conservative donors. The Senate Conservatives Fund and its affiliate Senate Conservatives Action, for example, plowed millions into the Iowa, Nebraska and Arkansas races. Ernst received nearly $450,000 in bundled contributions and $475,000 in independent expenditures from the groups for her race. Sasse got $487,000 in bundled contributions and more than $835,000 in outside expenditures in his GOP primary. Cotton picked up about $200,000 in bundled SCF money and saw more than $500,000 in outside SCF money in his race against Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor.

Another major conservative group, Club for Growth Action, poured more than $800,000 into Cotton’s race against Pryor, about $500,000 against Sasse’s primary opponents, and another $297,151 and $186,587 in bundled donations for Cotton and Sasse, respectively.

The first place conservatives will look to the new freshmen to make their voices heard is on immigration, which Ernst and SCF both call “executive amnesty.” The president has indicated he’ll soon take sweeping unilateral action, a move McConnell said won’t draw him into a government shutdown fight when he takes over the majority.

“There won’t be a government shutdown,” McConnell pledged Thursday, a commitment that left conservatives livid.

“Mitch McConnell is making promises he can’t keep,” Deace said. “Whatever enjoyment McConnell got out of being elected leader, enjoy it. Because from this point forward, power is going to be leaving his hands.”

Jim Manley, a former top aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, predicted that McConnell and the Republicans will safely navigate the lame-duck session, but once the new senators are sworn in, “All bets are off.”

“Sen. McConnell has got a whole bunch of people in his caucus, including those up in 2016, who realize the current strategy [of obstruction] is not going to work, and they need to put some legislative points on the scoreboard,” Manley said. “But whether that’s going to play out remains to be seen, in part because there are three Republicans running for president, none of whom care much about the Senate as an institution nor about their other colleagues’ views, quite frankly. And there are a handful of incoming senators who are very, very conservative.”

But Ron Bonjean, who was a senior staffer to Sen. Trent Lott when he was majority leader, said McConnell not only will have to consider the instincts of conservatives during those votes, but also the needs of several Republicans like Pat Toomey, who is up for reelection in 2016 the blue state of Pennsylvania.

“I do think McConnell knows how to manage his caucus,” Bonjean said. “While there will definitely be turbulence because he has more members to deal with, there are also some other dynamics at play for some of these members.”

Bonjean predicted that like Boehner, McConnell will need to have a majority of his majority on board to get a bill to the floor, but also will have to make the bills bipartisan enough to avoid a Democratic filibuster.

“Here’s the problem: Even if McConnell has all 53 Republicans, he’s got to get to 60 votes,” Bonjean said. “That’s very difficult to do, so they’re going to have to go for bipartisan victories to begin with, low-hanging fruit that can move through the Senate to show that they can get the work done.”

But low-hanging, bipartisan bills are exactly what Cruz and the grassroots conservatives backing Ernst, Sasse, and Cotton say they don’t want, especially in the face of an Obama executive order.

“I took an hour of calls yesterday asking what Congress should do if the president acts alone on immigration,” Deace said. “Every call, all over the country, men and women, all said the same thing: Impeach him.”

 

By: Patricia Murphy, The Daily Beast, November 17, 2014

November 18, 2014 Posted by | Mitch Mc Connell, Republicans, Senate | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“GOP Rebranding Efforts Are Doomed”: The Far-Right Pundits Tasked With Moderating The Iowa GOP

Conservative media figures that embody messages of misogyny and hate will take center stage at a GOP candidate forum in Iowa, despite the party’s own acknowledgment that future electoral victories hinge upon the development of a more tolerant platform.

After Mitt Romney’s loss in the 2012 presidential election, the Republican National Committee drafted a series of recommendations on how to evolve and grow the party into a force that can win consistently in the 21st century. To a large extent, the plan recommended reaching out to women and minorities, after Democrats won both groups by healthy margins that year. The RNC report recommended “developing a forward-leaning vision for voting Republican that appeals to women.” It went on to suggest that the party needs “to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate that we care about them, too.”

But in a move that seems in total opposition to those recommendations, the Iowa Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, as well as Republican Gov. Terry Branstad and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), have chosen to partner with Fox News contributor Erick Erickson, radio host Steve Deace, and The Family Leader, an anti-gay organization headed by Bob Vander Plaats, to conduct a forum for the candidates on April 25.

Despite his role as “moderator” for the event, Erickson’s far-right views on women and minorities are anything but moderate. Erickson has argued that businesses that serve gay couples are “aiding and abetting” sin, that proposed anti-discrimination laws are part of a war on Christians waged by “evil” gay rights activists, and that marriage equality is akin to incest. According to the pundit, gay people are definitely “on the road to hell.”

In fact, Erickson is scheduled to appear at an event for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) on the night before the candidate forum. The ADF, whose work has been touted by Erickson, is an extreme anti-gay organization working to criminalize homosexuality. The event is billed as “An Evening with Erick Erickson,” making him a de facto spokesman for a group whose stances are so extreme even some of Erickson’s peers at Fox News have distanced themselves from them.

Erickson’s relationship with women’s issues is just as offensive — he is particularly hostile to the idea that women should help support a family financially. Erickson stated on his radio show in 2013 that “some women believe they can have it all, and that’s the crux of the problem,” and told Fox host Lou Dobbs that the recent increase in the number of female breadwinners is “concerning and troubling.” He elaborated on this point, saying, “When you look at biology, look at the natural world, the roles of a male and female in society, and the other animals, the male typically is the dominant role.”

But it’s not just Erickson. The Republican candidate forum will also feature a post-forum focus group moderated by radio host and Washington Times columnist Steve Deace.

Deace maintains strong anti-gay and anti-immigrant views. Most recently, he penned a column suggesting that President Obama and the media were using the story of Michael Sam, an openly gay NFL prospect from the University of Missouri, as an excuse to distract attention away from the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. He has also compared gay marriage to bank robbery and strongly opposes proposals like the DREAM Act that would aid longtime immigrant children in obtaining a college education.

And the forum itself is presented by The Family Leader, whose president Bob Vander Plaats has called gay people a “public health risk,” likened being gay to adultery and polygamy, and is a vocal supporter of the fringe birther movement.

If right-wing hate mongers like Erickson and Deace continue to be chosen to represent the party, GOP rebranding efforts are likely doomed.

 

By: Brian Powell, Media Matters For America, April 16, 2014

April 17, 2014 Posted by | GOP | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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