Category Archives: Presidential race

Now Hillary Clinton is to blame for kidnapped girls?

Pakistan USNot only are Republicans trying desperately to blame the Benghazi attack on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but some conservative commentators and lawmakers are now trying to blame her for the kidnapping of the Nigerian schoolgirls (which happened 14 months after she left office). Seriously. The only connection they can point to is that the State Department didn’t put Boko Haram on its list of foreign terrorist organizations until 2013. But that’s been enough fuel for what Dana Milbank of the Washington Post described as “a textbook example of the anatomy of a smear.”

Clinton and Boeing had ‘mutually beneficial relationship’

Pakistan USHillary Clinton and Boeing shared a “mutually beneficial relationship” while she was U.S. secretary of state, the Washington Post reported. For example, Clinton pressed Russian government officials in 2009 to buy dozens of Boeing aircraft. Two months after Boeing won that contract, it announced a $900,000 contribution to the William J. Clinton Foundation to rebuild schools in Haiti. “Clinton functioned as a powerful ally for Boeing’s business interests at home and abroad, while Boeing has invested resources in causes beneficial to Clinton’s public and political image,” the Post reported.

Norquist still likes Brownback in 2016

norquistGov. Sam Brownback’s poll numbers have made re-election this year his first concern. Yet Grover Norquist (in photo), founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, told National Review Online that Brownback would be competitive if he decided to run for president in 2016. “Because he’s done it once, it is credible that he may choose to do it again. He’s thought about it,” Norquist said, praising how Brownback succeeded in replacing nine of 11 moderate Republican state senators in 2012 so he’d have a more like-minded Legislature to support his aggressive economic agenda. Asked about the two surviving moderates, Norquist said: “One, I’m told, is shell-shocked and sits in the corner and doesn’t talk to anybody. And the other sort of came over and rejoined our team.”

Moran’s popularity stands out; Huckabee favored

huckabee,mikeThirty-seven percent of Kansas voters surveyed by Public Policy Polling approve of the job being done by Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., compared with 26 percent who disapprove. That makes him more popular than Sen. Pat Roberts (29 percent approval), Gov. Sam Brownback (33 percent) or Secretary of State Kris Kobach (31 percent). And when asked about an array of potential GOP presidential nominees for 2016, the Kansans favored Mike Huckabee (20 percent; in photo), followed by Jeb Bush and Chris Christie (13 percent each), Ted Cruz (12 percent) and Rand Paul (11 percent); Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal drew less support. Democrat Hillary Clinton came out the loser in Kansas each time in hypothetical matchups against Bush, Christie, Huckabee and Paul.

Christie did good job with apology, but will it be enough?

christie,chrisNew Jersey Gov. Chris Christie did a good job today apologizing for the closing of highway lanes to punish a Democratic mayor who didn’t endorse Christie’s re-election. Though he again denied any knowledge of the actions taken by some of his associates, he took responsibility for what happened. He also announced the firing of one of his top staff members, who he said lied to him about the incident. But the investigations into bridge-gate will continue. If information comes out indicating that Christie knew anything about the closure – or other examples surface of how Christie or his staff retaliated against political opponents – Christie’s hopes for a 2016 GOP presidential nomination could quickly fade.

Brownback’s approval ratings tamping down 2016 talk

bbackwinThough the presidential prospects of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., have risen lately, much GOP speculation about 2016 continues to center on governors, with New Jersey’s Chris Christie and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker among the most likely contenders. While sizing up the rest of the field, including Texas’ tarnished Rick Perry, Dallas Morning News columnist Carl Leubsdorf observed that “efforts by Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal and Kansas’ Sam Brownback to make reputations as conservative reformers have sapped their home-state popularity.” But Slate’s David Weigel, reporting on a recent Americans for Tax Reform event, noted that as a screen showed slides of “naughty” and “nice” political figures of 2013, Brownback was included in the latter category “for leading a conservative policy revolution in Kansas.”

Iowa likes Ryan, Clinton, corn

ryan,paulMost of the headlines generated about the new Iowa Poll concerned the top contenders it identified for the 2016 presidential race: Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan (in photo) for the Republicans and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democrats. But the poll, conducted for the Des Moines Register, also delivered a strong endorsement for a state food, should Iowa ever need one: 44 percent chose corn on the cob, which was followed by pork chops (16 percent) and the pork tenderloin sandwich (11 percent). Consensus was also strong on the question of what should never become the state food of Iowa. Of the 650 respondents, 35 percent answered Jell-O and 19 percent nixed the corndog. Kansas doesn’t have an official state food, either, though cases could be made for the edibility of the state flower (sunflower seeds) and state animal (American buffalo) as well as for honey (the state insect is the honeybee).

Norquist counts Brownback among 2016 contenders

whitehouse2Grover Norquist, founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, described Kansas’ Sam Brownback as a “phenomenal” governor and counted him among the seven current or former state CEOs he sees as serious contenders for the Republican nomination in 2016. His list for the Daily Caller also included New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. They “could raise the money and have governed well enough to be able to straight-faced say, ‘I’m running for president and you should consider me as a Reagan Republican,’” Norquist said.

‘Values voters’ value extremes, not Brownback

Sen. Ted Cruz (in photo), R-Texas, has been hammered by his fellow GOP senators for shutting down the government without any endgame strategy. But Cruz easily won the presidential straw poll at last weekend’s Values Voter Summit. The second highest-polling person, physician and Fox News contributor Ben Carson, likened Obamacare’s effort to extend health insurance coverage to millions of Americans to a modern form of slavery. “It is slavery in a way, because it is making all of us subservient to the government,” Carson said. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback received only one vote (the same as Democrat Hillary Clinton); Brownback had seven votes on the vice presidential ballot.

Cruz backs ‘birthers’ into a corner

“Birthers” are backed into a corner when it comes to the eligibility of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to run for president. The tea party favorite released his birth certificate Sunday showing that he was born in Canada to an American mother. That makes Cruz a dual citizen of Canada and America. Some claimed that Barack Obama couldn’t be president because they believed (falsely) that he wasn’t born in the United States. Will they hold Cruz to that same standard? Most legal scholars believe that an American born overseas to an American parent is still eligible to be president, but that’s not what birthers believe – at least while Obama is president.

How much libertarianism does GOP want?

The GOP presidential race in 2016 “will be heavily defined by just how much libertarianism Republicans want in their party,” Chris Cillizza wrote in the Washington Post. “The answer isn’t certain yet. But it is telling that 40 percent of the House Republican conference voted for legislation that would have significantly curtailed the reach of a government program designed, at least in part, to prevent terrorist attacks.”

More white voters not enough for GOP

GOP political strategist Karl Rove disagrees with those who argue that the Republican Party just needs to increase turnout among white voters in order to win elections. He noted that Mitt Romney still would have lost in 2012 even if the turnout among white voters had been the same as in 2008. “The nonwhite vote as a share of total voters has increased in every presidential election since 1996 by 2 percent (much of it Hispanic), while the share of the white vote has dropped by 2 percent each election,” he wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “If the GOP leaves nonwhite voters to the Democrats, then its margins in safe congressional districts and red states will dwindle – not overnight, but over years and decades.”

Brownback wants GOP to keep talking about social issues

Gov. Sam Brownback thinks Mitt Romney focused too much on economic issues during his 2012 presidential campaign. “I think he would have been better off talking about the social issues more,” Brownback told the Associated Press before speaking Friday at a fundraiser for the Arkansas Republican Party. Many strategists have urged the GOP to talk less about social issues, noting how anti-abortion comments cost them two winnable Senate races and have hurt their appeal to women. But Brownback, who may be eyeing another presidential run, said Republicans need to continue fighting abortion. “If you believe this is a life,” he said, “how do you not fight for a life?” The website Kansas Watchdog paraphrased Brownback’s message as, “It’s not the economy, stupid.”

Romney came closer than many think

President Obama’s big electoral win in the 2012 president campaign was closer than it might have seemed, the Washington Post reported. Obama defeated Mitt Romney in New Hampshire, Ohio, Florida and Virginia by only 429,000 votes. If Romney could have won just more than half of those voters (a big “if”), he would have won in the Electoral College. Of course, close elections aren’t new. John Kerry needed fewer votes than that in 2004 to win Ohio and the presidency, and Al Gore only needed a few hundred votes to win Florida in the 2000 election.

Best of the worst political gaffes

U.S. News and World Report rounded up the top 10 political gaffes of the past election, including Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” and Richard Mourdock’s what “God intended” comments about abortion, Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” video put-down and “binders full of women” reference, and President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” phrase and open-mike assurance to then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that Obama would have “more flexibility” after re-election. And no gaffes roundup would be complete without Vice President Joe Biden, who made the list with his shocking warning to black voters that Romney would “put y’all back in chains.” GOP hopeful Newt Gingrich also won a spot for saying that “by the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon.”

‘Self-deportation’ policy is ‘crazy’

Donald Trump blasted Mitt Romney’s support of the “self-deportation” of illegal immigrants (a policy developed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach) as “crazy” and “maniacal.” “It sounded as bad as it was, and he lost all of the Latino vote,” Trump said (actually, 71 percent). He said that Democrats don’t have a good policy for dealing with illegal immigrants, “but what they did have going for them is they weren’t mean-spirited about it.” He said Republicans need clear proposals that address “people wanting to be wonderful, productive citizens of this country.”

Secession petition is symptomatic of what ails nation

The nearly 1 million Americans who’ve signed online secession petitions, including one for Kansas with more than 8,700 names, may be merely blowing off steam after a bitter election defeat. But advocating secession as a remedy is symptomatic of what ails the nation, our editorial today argues. With the election over and the winners and losers identified, people should be pulling together at all levels to work through divisions. The nation and its economy cannot afford more of the partisan sniping that has debilitated Congress and pitted red states against blue ones.

Kansans have little in common with national voters

How much do Kansas voters differ from voters nationally? A lot. Political science professor Bob Beatty noted some of the striking differences reflected in exit polling, including: Mitt Romney won the male vote in Kansas by a whopping 40 points (69 to 29 percent). Nationally, Romney won men by 7 points (52 to 45 percent). Among younger voters, ages 18-29, Romney won by 13 points in Kansas (54 to 41 percent), while nationally Obama won those voters by 23 points. One big difference between Kansas and national demographics is race. Nationally, white voters made up 72 percent of all voters, and they went for Romney by 20 points (59 to 39 percent). In Kansas, whites were 87 percent of all voters and went for Romney by 31 points (64 to 33 percent). White men went for Romney by 27 points nationally (62 to 35 percent), but in Kansas 74 percent of all white men voted for Romney, giving him a 50-point advantage over Obama.

Polls show support for raising taxes on rich

Despite the fact that President Obama campaigned on raising taxes on the rich, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that “Republicans in the House and Senate think we have a voter mandate not to raise taxes.” But new opinion polls show again that the public supports higher taxes on the wealthy. A Hart Research survey found that 56 percent of Americans support ending the Bush tax cuts for those making more than $250,000, while 39 percent favor continuing the cuts for everyone. Meanwhile, exit polling in eight swing states also showed even more support for ending the tax cuts for the wealthy, ranging from 57 percent in Florida and Ohio to 64 percent in Nevada and Wisconsin. Even Fox News commentator and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol argued that the GOP should be open to a tax increase on the wealthy. “It won’t kill the country if Republicans raise taxes a little bit on millionaires,” he said.

Democrats may be misreading the future

The liberal conventional wisdom is that “Republicans are now Radio Shack to their Apple store, ‘The Waltons’ to their ‘Modern Family,’” columnist Ross Douthat wrote. But they may be misreading the future. “The progressive bias toward the capital-F Future, the old left-wing suspicion of faith and domesticity, the fact that Democrats have benefited politically from these trends – all of this makes it easy for liberals to just celebrate the emerging America, to minimize the costs of disrupted families and hollowed-out communities, and to treat the places where Americans have traditionally found solidarity outside the state (like the churches threatened by the Obama White House’s contraceptive mandate) as irritants or threats. This is a great flaw in the liberal vision, because whatever role government plays in prosperity, transfer payments are not a sufficient foundation for middle-class success.”

Obama, Romney, Democrats get approval bump

The favorability ratings of President Obama, Mitt Romney and the Democratic Party all increased after the election, while the GOP’s ratings stayed mostly flat. In a new Gallup poll, 58 percent of those surveyed had a favorable opinion of Obama (up from 55 percent before the election), and 50 percent had a favorable view of Romney (up from 46 percent). Democrats had a 51 percent favorability rating (up from 45 percent), while the Republican Party had a 43 percent rating (up from 42 percent).

Is it only GOP rhetoric that is the problem?

When speaking last week at the Kansas Agri Business Expo in Wichita, talk-show host and 2008 GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee (in photo) blamed the GOP’s loss this election on the harshness of Republican rhetoric, not on the party’s underlying message. Huckabee has been more sensitive about issues of poverty and race than many Republican leaders. But is it really only the tone that is the problem, not the message – particularly on immigration and women’s issues? At a book-signing event in Kansas City, Mo., this past weekend, Huckabee criticized “the Republican Party’s complete abandonment of Todd Akin.” Huckabee stood by Akin after the Missouri congressman said that victims of “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Conservative super PACs had bad batting average

How effective were the conservative groups and political action committees that spent hundreds of millions of dollars this past election? “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce won 1 of 13 races it invested in; the Club for Growth, 2 of 6; FreedomWorks, just 2 of 16. American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS went a combined 3 for 17 in their races,” Time magazine’s Swampland blog reported.

Romney still making dumb comments

“We need to stop being a dumb party, and that means more than stop making dumb comments,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said about Mitt Romney blaming his loss on “gifts” that a “very generous” President Obama gave to African-Americans, Hispanics and young people. Romney’s comments, reminiscent of his earlier remarks that characterized 47 percent of Americans as moochers, also earned four Pinocchios from the Washington Post fact-checkers. “We don’t mean to knock a man when he’s down,” they wrote. “But Romney’s comments suggest that his understanding of the election results needs some serious rethinking.”

Florida shouldn’t trust Sedgwick County to count its votes

Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen dubbed Florida the “joke state” for having taken four days to declare that President Obama had won its electoral votes. “We can’t count on Ohio or any of the swing states to bail us out again in 2016, so what are our options?” he asked. “In case you were wondering, the U.S. Constitution makes no allowance for a state to exempt itself from presidential elections in order to avoid national ridicule. Nor is there any legal mechanism by which Florida’s 11 million registered voters might have their ballots shipped somewhere safe to be counted – say, Kansas.” Hiaasen must not have heard about election night in Sedgwick County, which had seen no election results released by the time Obama won re-election.