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Category Archives: Presidential race
Oct. 3, 201212:26 p.m.
The Washington Post has created a “Gaffe-o-Meter” to rate the various flubs and verbal missteps of Vice President Joe Biden. It rated Biden’s comment Tuesday about how the middle class “has been buried the last four years” as a three on a scale of one to 10, with a 10 being something that does real damage to the Obama campaign.
Oct. 2, 20126:01 a.m.
Neither presidential candidate is being honest about the federal deficit and debt, columnist Robert Samuelson wrote. President Obama largely ignores the need for entitlement reform, instead implying that raising taxes on the rich will solve most of the problem. Though Mitt Romney is talking about the need to reform Medicare, his call for cutting taxes ignores the reality that the government can’t balance its budget through spending cuts alone. “What defines this campaign, in part,” Samuelson wrote, “is a yawning gap between the political rhetoric and the country’s budget problems.”
Sept. 30, 20126:00 a.m.
“Obesity is 10, 15, 20 percent of the kids, depending where we’re at – but we’re going to put 100 percent of the kids on a diet. But not the kids of Mr. and Mrs. Obama.” – Rep. Tim Huelskamp (in photo), R-Fowler, referring to the school-lunch calorie limits and the fact that the Obamas’ daughters attend private school
“Refrain from using her official title at the event and in related press reports, and note that we will not be taking questions concerning her official responsibilities.” – President Obama’s campaign, prepping New Hampshire media for former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ first political appearances since she was cited for violating the law by campaigning while acting in her official capacity as health and human services secretary
Sept. 29, 20126:00 a.m.
Rather than continuing to play small ball with President Obama, which isn’t working, Mitt Romney needs to “engage on the big stuff,” columnist Charles Krauthammer advised. “Go large. About a foreign policy in ruins. About an archaic, 20th-century welfare state model that guarantees 21st-century insolvency. And about an alternate vision of an unapologetically assertive America abroad unafraid of fundamental structural change at home.”
Sept. 28, 20126:01 a.m.
A key question that moderator Jim Lehrer needs to ask at next week’s presidential debate is whether the candidates favor restoring majority rule, columnist Matt Miller argued. “In other words,” he wrote, “ask them if they would urge the Senate to scrap the filibuster – and if not, how do they expect to get anything done?” The 60-vote requirement to end debate in the Senate has been so abused by both parties that it is incredibly difficult for Congress to get anything done, regardless of who is president.
Sept. 24, 20126:01 a.m.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach isn’t the only well-known Kansas name on the GOP front lines in a fight against the so-called epidemic of voter fraud. A New York Times article noted that former U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun (in photo), who represented the 2nd Congressional District from 1996 to 2007, now chairs the Madison Project, a political action committee financing a plan called Code Red USA to blanket polling places in swing states with conservative election observers watching for Democrats bent on voter fraud. “Our mission is to organize, equip, train and mobilize grassroots conservatives to take back America,” says a Code Red USA video, which describes the “Obama political machine” as “absolutely determined to do anything to stay in power.”
Sept. 23, 20126:00 a.m.
Many state insurance commissioners find themselves between a rock and a hard place: The federal government requires them to show progress by Nov. 16 toward setting up health insurance exchanges, but state-level conservatives insist they do nothing in the hope that the GOP will retake the White House and U.S. Senate on Nov. 6 and repeal “Obamacare” next year. According to Reuters, only 13 mostly Democratic states have made the commitment to establish their own insurance exchanges; under the law, those that don’t will see the federal government step in to do the job. Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger is among the insurance commissioners in this delicate position. “Even the conservatives, given the option from having some control to no control, they’d prefer to have some control,” she told Reuters. “But until this election is behind us, they’re not willing to do anything that would show they’re supporting Obamacare. And that’s the same situation a lot of states are in.”
Sept. 22, 20126:00 a.m.
Americans are evenly divided on whether they want President Obama or Mitt Romney to win in the November election. But they aren’t divided when asked which candidate they think will win. Nearly 6 in 10 registered voters think Obama will win, while only 34 percent Romney think will win, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll.
Sept. 21, 20126:00 a.m.
The Romney campaign seized this week on a 14-year-old tape of Barack Obama, then a state senator, saying that he believes “in redistribution.” But it turns out the full tape shows that the comment is not what Romney’s campaign claimed. “Obama is not talking about redistributing wealth at all – instead, he speaks about competition, the marketplace and innovation in an effort to improve government services in Chicago,” according to the Washington Post’s Fact Checker column, which gave the claim “four Pinocchios,” its highest rating for “whoppers.”
Sept. 19, 201212:54 p.m.
Mitt Romney claimed that the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay any federal income taxes “will vote for President Obama no matter what.” But according to the Tax Foundation, eight of the top 10 states with the highest percentage of people who don’t pay federal income taxes are decidedly Republican. These include Texas and most of the South. The two others in the top 10 are Florida and New Mexico, which are swing states. Only three of the 10 states with the lowest percentage of people who don’t pay income taxes are Republican – Alaska, North Dakota and Wyoming. Kansas has the 28th-highest percentage of filers with no tax liability, at 34 percent.
Sept. 18, 201210:43 a.m.
Politicians, like everyone, sometime flub what they mean to say. But it is difficult for Mitt Romney to dismiss as “off the cuff” his remarks disparaging Americans who don’t pay any federal income taxes. Speaking to wealthy donors earlier this year, Romney said: “There are 47 percent who are with him (President Obama), who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it, that that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.” Romney also said he will never convince those people “they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” After a video from the event became public, Romney said Monday that his comments were not “elegantly stated.” But do they reflect what he believes? Or was he just saying it to pander to wealthy Republicans? Though nearly half of American households do not pay federal income tax, that does not mean they are getting a free ride and expect the government to provide everything for them. Most of the people in this group are working but simply earn too little money to owe taxes (in part because exemptions and credits were increased by the Bush tax cuts). Though they don’t pay federal income taxes, they do pay payroll taxes, sales taxes, and other state and local taxes. Senior citizens are another large portion of this group. Are they moochers?
Sept. 16, 20126:00 a.m.
GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has Brownback-like plans for the arts. Asked by Fortune recently about his targets for spending cuts, Romney listed “various subsidy programs” he would eliminate: “the Amtrak subsidy, the PBS subsidy, the subsidy for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities. Some of these things, like those endowment efforts and PBS, I very much appreciate and like what they do in many cases, but I just think they have to stand on their own rather than receiving money borrowed from other countries, as our government does on their behalf.” But as the Washington Post noted, “in fiscal year 2012, the federal government spent $1.42 billion on Amtrak, $444 million on PBS, and $146 million on the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities. Getting rid of all these subsidies would have saved the government about $2 billion this year – chump change relative to the scale of cuts that Romney wants.”
Sept. 13, 20121:29 p.m.
In the wake of the murder of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, and as other U.S. embassies have been targeted for protests and violence, many pundits have eagerly jumped on Mitt Romney – specifically his campaign’s misinformed statement Tuesday night that “the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.” The Los Angeles Times editorialized that the GOP presidential nominee was “capitalizing on the attack to shore up his dubious campaign narrative that Obama is soft on radical Islam and apologetic about American values. It’s an outrageous exercise in opportunism.” The New York Times’ Gail Collins said Romney “went for a cheap attack at a time when any calm, mature adult would have waited and opted for at least a brief show of national unity.” President Obama even joined in, saying Romney “seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later.” Of course, criticizing Romney’s remarks, however ill-considered, is easier than debating what to do about the spreading unrest.
Sept. 13, 20126:00 a.m.
Some speculated Sen. John Kerry used his Democratic convention speech to audition to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a second Obama term. Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner have said they wouldn’t continue. Meanwhile, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (in photo) told the Kansas City Star that she can’t envision leaving her Cabinet post and not helping enact the health care reform law. “So much of what we’re working on isn’t fully enacted until 2014,” said the former Kansas governor. “I can’t imagine walking out the door in the middle of that…. I could say to him, ‘Good luck, hope that goes well.’ I don’t think that works really well.”
Sept. 11, 201210:35 a.m.
As the new Washington Post/ABC News poll of likely voters confirms that the presidential race remains close, it shows President Obama outdoing Mitt Romney on several peculiar questions. Those surveyed were asked which candidate they’d prefer to have as captain on a ship in a storm (Obama by 3 percentage points over Romney), which would make a more loyal friend (Obama by 14 points), which they’d rather take care of them if they were sick (Obama by 13 points), and which they’d rather have over for dinner (Obama by 19 points). In what would seem a defining advantage for Romney, though, only 20 percent of those polled said they are better off financially now than they were four years ago.
Sept. 10, 20126:01 a.m.
Republicans have made a lot of political hay by taking out of context President Obama’s comment about how successful businesses weren’t built on their own. But some of their examples of go-it-alone entrepreneurs haven’t held up to closer examination. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, produced a video about a box company in Hutchinson whose owners, “not Barack Obama, built their business.” But the Hutchinson News reported that the company asked for and received several exemptions from property taxes. Sher Valenzuela, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in Delaware, bragged at the Republican National Convention about how she and her husband built their business on their own. She didn’t mention that they began their business with the help of a federal loan, or that they expanded it thanks to a large loan backed by the federal stimulus act, or that most of their business is government contracts.
Sept. 9, 20126:02 a.m.
Though others panned Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ speech last week at the Democratic National Convention, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer said it was one of the best. He wrote that speeches by Sebelius and Rahm Emanuel were “both a model of what a convention speech should be: sharp, disciplined, focused – thus moving the electoral ball for the party in question.” Of the former Kansas governor, Krauthammer wrote: “Sebelius gave a fine rendition of all the nice things Obamacare does – leaving out, of course, the staggering cost and stifling bureaucracy. She rendered Obamacare into the best free lunch since your last bar mitzvah buffet.”
Sept. 9, 20126:00 a.m.
“I will personally offer the members of PETA a Kansas City strip if they drop this suit against the State Fair.” – Gov. Sam Brownback (in photo), tweeting about the animal-rights group’s legal challenge to the fair’s restrictions on its booth
“I was governor of Kansas when Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts. Many of us watched in amazement – envy, even – as he passed a universal health care law in his state.” – Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, speaking at the Democratic convention
“Kansans are proud of President Dwight David Eisenhower, Nancy Kassebaum and Bob Dole, whose moderation and commonsense wisdom have been repudiated by the Republican Party and replaced by the extremism of Ayn Rand, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sam Brownback and the Koch brothers.” – Lee Kinch, Wichita attorney and vice chairman of the Kansas Democratic Party, as part of Kansas’ statement during the roll call of states at the Democratic convention
Sept. 8, 20126:00 a.m.
It was up to President Obama to make the case for another term, with a speech that was every bit as fraught with uncertainty and risk as his 2008 convention address. Just as he did then, he rose to the occasion. Obama didn’t hesitate to go after Mitt Romney. “You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can’t visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally,” he said. And he clearly laid out a vision for governing squarely at odds with the one that Romney has, but was hidden from view at last week’s Republican convention. He promised deficit reduction “without sticking it to the middle class”; to enact a reformed tax code that raises rates on income above $250,000 to where it was under President Clinton; to preserve middle-class deductions; to “never turn Medicare into a voucher.” Obama met his challenge in Charlotte. – New York Times
President Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention was a prosaic call for support accompanied by some vague plans for action. Convention speeches, we concede, are not policy briefings. Still, there is room for more specifics than Obama provided, or Romney did in his speech. Obama’s greatest missed opportunity may have been his cursory treatment of the federal budget deficit: He reiterated his plan to reduce it by $4 trillion over the next decade. What no one knows – does the president? – is how to get there from here. It would be churlish to criticize Obama too much for vagueness, given the occasion. Yet that was the curious thing about this speech: If it didn’t get down into the details, neither did it soar. – Bloomberg View
Sept. 6, 20126:00 a.m.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was among the “losers” at Tuesday’s Democratic National Convention, according to Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post. “Her speech at the convention was remarkably flat, and she rushed through both her planned applause lines and ‘big’ finish,” Cillizza wrote. “Just not very good.” Earlier Tuesday, Sebelius had poked fun at Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan for recently misstating that he ran a marathon in 1990 in less than three hours when it was actually more than four. “I must confess, I do not do an under-three-hour marathon,” joked Sebelius, a dedicated runner. “Anyone who starts with the notion that you have to make up your marathon time tells you all you need to know about Paul Ryan.” Ryan has acknowledged his mistake, blaming the passage of time and confusion relating to a back injury in his 20s.
Sept. 5, 201212:01 p.m.
Pro-union Wichitan Pat Lehman, who is among the Democratic National Convention delegates, famously says what she thinks and doesn’t care what anyone thinks about what she says. But she did her presidential candidate and party no favors this week by mentioning Republican strategies in the same breath as Adolf Hitler’s, and then doubling down when challenged. “It’s like Hitler said, if you’re going to tell a lie, tell a big lie, and if you tell it often enough and say it in a loud enough voice, some people are going to believe you,” Lehman said about the GOP contention that voter-ID laws are necessary to fight voter fraud. The political media and Twitter seized on Lehman’s quote, linking it to California Democratic chairman John Burton’s statement this week that Republicans “lie and they don’t care if people think they lie…. Joseph Goebbels – it’s the big lie, you keep repeating it.” Not only are such references to the “big lie” factually challenged, but the surest way to discredit any argument in contemporary politics is to bring up Hitler as you make it. Such rhetoric also exhibits disrespect for the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. As Jeremy Burton, who leads the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, said on Twitter: “Can we all just please agree, no Holocaust analogy in U.S. politics is ever OK. Nor does it work.”
Sept. 4, 20126:01 a.m.
The GOP needs to broaden its appeal if it wants to win in November, columnist Michael Barone wrote in the Wall Street Journal. In the 2008 election, whites without a college education accounted for half of the votes cast for John McCain. When the GOP has had more success at the polls, it has appealed to a broader electorate. In 2010, for example, white no-college voters accounted for 42 percent of the voters for winning congressional Republicans. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., warned that the GOP can’t lose the demographics race. “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term,” he said.