Posts Tagged ‘GOP’

Monday: The Washington Post reveals his congressional office’s Downton Abbey-themed makeover:

The Rayburn House Office Building is a labyrinth of beige offices.

And then, there’s . . . Rep. Aaron Schock’s new digs.

Bright red walls. A gold-colored wall sconce with black candles. A Federal-style bull’s-eye mirror with an eagle perched on top. And this is just the Illinois Republican’s outer office.

“It’s actually based off of the red room in ‘Downton Abbey,’ ” said the woman behind the front desk, comparing it to the luxurious set piece at the heart of the British period drama.

Thursday: Schock communications aide Benjamin Cole resigns after a series of racist Facebook posts he wrote were discovered by Buzzfeed and ThinkProgress:

A top adviser to Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock has resigned after controversial posts were found on his Facebook page.

Benjamin Cole, a senior adviser to Schock, told POLITICO he resigned and that Schock, a Republican, accepted his resignation.

The posts had Cole likening black people to animals and said a mosque should be built on the White House grounds for President Barack Obama.

It caps quite a strange week for Schock’s office. The Washington Post reported earlier this week that Schock had decorated his office in the manner of the British show “Downton Abbey.” Cole had interacted with the reporter and tried to tamp down the story. His back and forth with the Post reporter was detailed in the story.

Friday: Blue Nation Review reports Schock sold his Peoria, Illinois home to a wealthy donor for a nearly $797,000 profit:

Now there’s this: the month before the 2012 elections, Congressman Schock sold his house to a major Republican donor who was also one of his campaign supporters for a price that appears to far exceed the market value at the time.

If Schock had some sort of quid pro quo real estate deal with the donor, this is the exact same thing that brought down Duke Cunningham ten years ago.


Image from Team Coco

Matt Drudge managed to single-handedly change the subject of the national media conversation away from Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital for a few hours. The non-scoop: that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was near the top of Romney’s short list to be his running mate.

It’s a great topic for water cooler discussion among political junkies and journalists. The problem is there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell it will ever happen. Rice told 60 Minutes she was pro-choice, with reservations on some issues, which would be a dealbreaker for the pro-life conservative base in the GOP. One precedent to keep in mind:back in 2008, McCain’s original choice for running mate was pro-choice Democrat Joe Lieberman. That proposition was torpedoed because of fears of a revolt from social conservatives at the Republican convention. Here’s a good summary of Rice’s positions on hot-button issues. Also worth reading, check out this analysis by the New York Times of how a Rice VP pick would help or hurt Romney.

Despite her formidable intellect and experience in academia and government service, Rice has one glaring omission in her otherwise impressive resume and life story: she has never run for elected office, nor has she ever had any interest in being a candidate for anything.

Nate Silver runs through Romney’s possible options for a female running mate. The bottom line is there is not much for him to choose from that would satisfy the different GOP constituencies, appeal to swing voters, and can present a credible option to step into the role of president as necessary to avoid a repeat of the Sarah Palin debacle of 2008.

I’d have to agree with Silver’s closing assessment: Romney is likely to play it safe in terms of picking a running mate; or in the words of an unidentified Republican official, an “incredibly boring white guy.” The talk of Condoleezza Rice is just that – talk.

I can’t believe Politico published this with a straight face [emphasis mine]:

A senior Romney strategist said Thursday that the campaign had a plan and wouldn’t be distracted from implementing it, despite pressure from outsiders. The strategist called the new charges part of an old line of attack that had already been thoroughly aired.

“We went through this in the primary,” the adviser said. “You have a lot of people inside the Beltway, who like to sit back and be armchair quarterbacks, strategists who talk to you and don’t go on the record. We have a plan. We know what the plan is, and we’re going to implement the plan.”

So the Romney strategist who won’t go on the record bashes other strategists for not going on the record? See if you can make sense of that one…

Mitt Romney stops the bleeding. The AP and NBC News call Michigan for him at 10:17 pm. With 76 percent of the votes counted during Santorum’s concession speech, Romney leads Santorum 41-37 by about 31,000 votes. On to Super Tuesday next week.


As expected… CNN projects Mitt Romney wins Arizona at 9 pm as soon as the polls close. He will get all of Arizona’s 29 delegates.

Live from Carrolton, Georgia tonight… Georgia is a key state for Gingrich on Super Tuesday next week.

8:09 Joking about his age, Gingrich points out that he’s met people who tell him their dad was their former student when he was a college professor, introduce him to their son.
8:14 Possible swipe at Santorum: “Now, this is an example of why sometimes it’s useful to have people who may or may not have an advanced degree but have some common sense.”
8:17 CNN breaks away from live feed of Gingrich speech.
8:18 Tweet from National Review’s Jim Geraghty: “Newt’s giving his Arbor Day speech early, huh?”
Tweet from CNN’s Dana Bash: “Is this newt’s attempt to overcome the “angry” candidate rep? Where are we going w/ this? #cnnelections”

Newt Gingrich was definitely listening to his Led Zeppelin tonight… Specifically, “Ramble On.”

8:28 Tweet from CNN’s Jim Spellman: “Back at the Gingrich speech he’s now talking about how they used to call turkeys walking bird #CNNelections #grandpasimpson”

Two states are up for grabs tonight…

Arizona
Delegates at Stake: 29
Allocation: Winner takes all

Multiple polls show Romney leading by double digits. He has the support of two of the state’s key lawmakers, Governor Jan Brewer and his 2008 nemesis Senator John McCain. The state’s significant Mormon demographic is expected to vote heavily for Romney. The race is pretty much a foregone conclusion. One key element in Romney’s favor here: despite the Republican National Committee’s call for states voting before April to allocate their delegates proportionately, all of the Arizona Republican Party’s delegates will go to the winner. This will allow Romney to continue building on his delegate lead and be a much-needed shot in the arm, especially if he loses Michigan.

Prediction: Romney by 15-20.

Michigan
Delegates at Stake: 30
Allocation: Proportional by congressional district

Polls in Michigan show the race a statistical dead heat, with the spread between Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney within the margin of error. About a week ago, Santorum had momentum, but stumbled after his performance in the CNN Arizona debate. However, unforced errors by Romney (Ann Romney’s cadillacs, his NASCAR team owner friends) also threaten to undermine any gains he may have made with his debate performance and his attacks against Santorum. Romney’s biggest political liability in the state may be his constantly shifting positions and explanations about the federal government’s bailout of the big auto companies. This race should have been a slam dunk for Romney, given his Michigan roots and the fact his father was a three-term governor of the state and president and chairman of American Motors Corporation. In 2008, Romney won the Michigan primary by 9 points, a clear and decisive victory over John McCain, who won the state in 2000.

Also worth considering is Michigan’s system of allocating delegates. 28 out of 30 delegates are allocated on the basis of who wins each of the state’s 14 congressional districts. The remaining two are divided by the proportion of the statewide popular vote. It is conceivable that one candidate could win the popular vote but lose the delegate count – the Bush v. Gore scenario. The Daily Beast points out one demographic strong and unique to Michigan: Muslim Americans in the Dearborn area. Will be interesting to see what – if any – impact they have in the Republican primary or if they are surveyed in exit polls.

There is one wildcard which could decide the outcome of the primary: Democrats. Michigan has an open primary, and a long history of crossover voting. Democratic operatives and activists are encouraging Michigan Democrats to vote for Santorum in the Republican primary to embarrass Romney and prolong the race for the Republican nomination. One Democratic operative who paid for a robocall and sent out emails on his own account claims he has 14,000 commitments from state Democrats to vote for Santorum. Even the Santorum campaign is getting in on the act, a move Mitt Romney has called “dirty tricks” despite his own history of crossover voting and his backers in the state calling for the Michigan primary to remain open. Given the razor-thin margins in Iowa and Maine, it is possible that some Democrats out to wreak havoc against Romney in the primary could tip the state in Santorum’s favor.

Prediction: Santorum by 1-5 points.


Two must-read articles that ran in New York Magazine recently. First, this story about the divisions within the Republican Party as the race boils down to Romney v. Santorum by “Game Change” co-author John Helleman. Notice this:

The transfiguration of the GOP isn’t only about ideology, however. It is also about demography and temperament, as the party has grown whiter, less well schooled, more blue-collar, and more hair-curlingly populist. The result has been a party divided along the lines of culture and class: Establishment versus grassroots, secular versus religious, upscale versus downscale, highfalutin versus hoi polloi. And with those divisions have arisen the competing electoral coalitions—shirts versus skins, regulars versus red-hots—represented by Romney and Santorum, which are now increasingly likely to duke it out all spring.

Few Republicans greet that prospect sanguinely, though some argue that it will do little to hamper the party’s capacity to defeat Obama in the fall. “It’s reminiscent of the contest between Obama and Clinton,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recently opined. “[That] didn’t seem to have done [Democrats] any harm in the general election, and I don’t think this contest is going to do us any harm, either.”

Yet the Democratic tussle in 2008, which featured two undisputed heavyweights with few ideological discrepancies between them, may be an exception that proves the rule. Certainly Republican history suggests as much: Think of 1964 and the scrap between the forces aligned with Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller, or 1976, between backers of Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. On both occasions, the result was identical: a party disunited, a nominee debilitated, a general election down the crapper.

With such precedents in mind, many Republicans are already looking past 2012. If either Romney or Santorum gains the nomination and then falls before Obama, flubbing an election that just months ago seemed eminently winnable, it will unleash a GOP apocalypse on November 7—followed by an epic struggle between the regulars and red-hots to refashion the party. And make no mistake: A loss is what the GOP’s political class now expects. “Six months before this thing got going, every Republican I know was saying, ‘We’re gonna win, we’re gonna beat Obama,’ ” says former Reagan strategist Ed Rollins. “Now even those who’ve endorsed Romney say, ‘My God, what a fucking mess.’ ”

One thing McConnell doesn’t mention in his quote that differentiates the 2008 Democratic Primaries from the 2012 Republican Primaries: the Democrats liked and were enthusiastic about both their candidates.

The second article, by Jonathan Chait, notes the demographic dilemma the Republican Party faces:

The modern GOP—the party of Nixon, Reagan, and both Bushes—is staring down its own demographic extinction. Right-wing warnings of impending tyranny express, in hyperbolic form, well-grounded dread: that conservative America will soon come to be dominated, in a semi-permanent fashion, by an ascendant Democratic coalition hostile to its outlook and interests. And this impending doom has colored the party’s frantic, fearful response to the Obama presidency.

The GOP has reason to be scared. Obama’s election was the vindication of a prediction made several years before by journalist John Judis and political scientist Ruy Teixeira in their 2002 book, The Emerging Democratic Majority. Despite the fact that George W. Bush then occupied the White House, Judis and Teixeira argued that demographic and political trends were converging in such a way as to form a ­natural-majority coalition for Democrats.

The Republican Party had increasingly found itself confined to white voters, especially those lacking a college degree and rural whites who, as Obama awkwardly put it in 2008, tend to “cling to guns or religion.” Meanwhile, the Democrats had ­increased their standing among whites with graduate degrees, particularly the growing share of secular whites, and remained dominant among racial minorities. As a whole, Judis and Teixeira noted, the electorate was growing both somewhat better educated and dramatically less white, making every successive election less favorable for the GOP. And the trends were even more striking in some key swing states. Judis and Teixeira highlighted Colorado, Nevada, and Arizona, with skyrocketing Latino populations, and Virginia and North Carolina, with their influx of college-educated whites, as the most fertile grounds for the expanding Democratic base.

Both are well worth reading and keeping in mind as the Republican primary process plays itself out in the months ahead.

queenofhearts

The Hill is reporting that one RNC member is calling on Michael Steele to step down as chairman barely a month into his tenure.

Josh Marshall has a few background details on the RNC member, who is one out of only three African Americans on the national committee.

From a PR standpoint, the past few weeks have been a series of self-inflicted gaffes for Michael Steele, culminating with his apology to Rush Limbaugh, which was politically embarrassing for him and the party at large. Add to this the fact that his campaign expenses from the 2006 Maryland Senate race are now in question, and you have some nervous Republicans with preliminary stages of buyer’s remorse.

Louisiana governor and rumored 2012 presidential candidate Bobby Jindal was tapped to give the GOP rebuttal to Barack Obama’s first address to Congress. John Cole brutally explains the sacrificial lamb nature of this political tradition. It seems especially relevant this year considering Obama’s well known reputation as a public speaker. Anybody who would have to follow him would have an easier time taking the stage after the Rolling Stones or U2.

Now, in fairness, the responses are always awful. Every year (with the exception of Jim Webb) someone is trotted out and forced to give the response, and it is at this point the political equivalent of throwing a virgin into a volcano. It is beyond time for them to end. However, there was something just especially awful this year, and already the comparison to Kenneth from 30 Rock is sweeping across the intertubes.

Jindal’s speech is being panned left, right, and center, with some of the harshest and most surprising criticism coming from his own party.

This was not a good national coming out party for Jindal, especially if he has presidential ambitions in 2012. However, one bad national speech does not mean it’s the end of your aspirations for higher office. Remember Bill Clinton’s much panned speech during the 1988 Democratic National Convention? He went on to bigger and better things four short years later.