Thursday, June 30, 2011

FEC on Member Fundraising for Super PACs

Eliza Carney writes at Roll Call:
In an unusual show of unanimity, the Federal Election Commission has rejected a bid by conservative lawyer James Bopp Jr. to directly challenge the longstanding ban on soft money fundraising by federal officials.

Democrats running their own super PACs had asked the Federal Election Commission whether such PACs could rely on Members of Congress and national party officials to raise unlimited, unregulated money, as Bopp had said he intended.

In a 6-0 ruling, the FEC delivered an emphatic, “No.” At a time when campaign finance regulations have been rolled back on several fronts, the FEC action signaled that the 2002 soft money ban, at least, stands pat. The ruling came as something of a rebuke to Bopp, who has led the charge to overturn the campaign finance rules and had announced plans to have elected officials raise soft money for his so-called Republican Super PAC.

“The FEC came down pretty clearly that these types of unlimited, soft money solicitations were not permitted,” said Tara Malloy, associate legal counsel for The Campaign Legal Center.

But the FEC did clear the way for federal officials such as lawmakers and party leaders to collect hard (regulated) money for super PACs. An outgrowth of the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling, such PACs may raise unlimited corporate and union funds as long they fully disclose their spending and don’t coordinate with candidates.

The FEC action means lawmakers and party officials may collect money for super PACs as long as they stick within the $5,000 federal PAC contribution limit and don’t go after prohibited corporate and union treasury funds. Democratic leaders in the House and Senate are already soliciting hard money for two leading Democratic super PACs: Majority PAC and House Majority PAC, which had brought the request to the FEC.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

FreedomWorks GOTV & Super PAC

FreedomWorks held an activist boot camp on Saturday and Sunday.

FreedomWorks, a nearly 20-year-old grass-roots advocacy organization led by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), will take on a deeper and more sophisticated role in the 2012 elections than ever before. The organization has its eyes on 15 Senate seats, including Utah, and will target both Democrats and Republicans. The group aims to raise $10 million through a new super political action committee called FreedomWorks for America.

It is also establishing an 18-member debt panel to counter President Barack Obama’s bipartisan fiscal commission, which offered recommendations on how to reduce the federal deficit in late 2010.

“We’re not a protest movement anymore,” said Matt Kibbe, the group’s president. “It is a protest movement morphed into a get-out-the-vote movement. We are here to think nationally but act locally.”

The new PAC is part of that strategy. FreedomWorks for America can raise and spend unlimited sums of money from corporations, associations and individuals for independent expenditures. The group is barred from making direct contributions to campaigns, but that has never been FreedomWorks’ focus.

FreedomWorks will use the super PAC to let activists anywhere “help their brothers out” in other states. But that principle is what Washington Republicans find most concerning. Some Republicans grumbled about the group’s antics Monday, arguing that kind of thinking might have won primaries in 2010 but ultimately cost the party the Delaware Senate seat and caused an ugly recount in Alaska.

Bachmann Rises in Polls

Gallup reports:
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who formally announced her presidential candidacy Monday in her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa, enters the race with 69% name recognition among Republicans and ties for the highest Positive Intensity Score of any GOP candidate Gallup tracks.

Bachmann finds herself in a relatively positive position among Republicans as she begins her formal campaign. Her name recognition is up to 69% for the two-week period of June 13-26, having climbed from 52% in late February/early March. This places her fifth among the most well-known Republicans Gallup measures, behind Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Ron Paul, but well ahead of Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, and several other competitors. Bachmann's Positive Intensity Score of 24 ties with Herman Cain's as the highest such score of any candidate, and is her highest to date. Bachmann's ability to maintain her relatively high Positive Intensity Score as she has become better known distinguishes her from several of her competitors.

While former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney remains a front-runner in New Hampshire, Michele Bachmann climbed 8 points since May, to 11 percent, according to a Suffolk University/7NEWS (WHDH TV) poll of likely voters in New Hampshire’s GOP presidential primary.

Bachmann’s gain was more than that of any other candidate. Romney, with 36 percent support, gained 1 point since Suffolk University’s last Granite State poll was released nearly two months ago.

Among those who watched the Republican Presidential debate in Manchester earlier this month, 33 percent said Romney won the debate, while 31 percent gave the win to Bachmann.

With the exception of Romney and Bachmann, support for the 18 candidates tested remained in single digits. Tim Pawlenty slipped 3 points, to 2 percent, and Newt Gingrich was unchanged with 2 percent.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Outside Money: Dem Fundraising, GPS Ad

Politico reports:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have started raising money for Democratic “super PACs,” diving into the world of outside groups after condemning this type of fundraising in the most recent election cycle.

Both Pelosi and Reid are limiting their solicitations to $5,000 or less for House Majority PAC and Majority PAC, which will spend money in House and Senate races, respectively. Liberal financier George Soros has already given tens of thousands of dollars to House Majority PAC.

Pelosi’s fundraising for House Majority PAC has not been previously disclosed. Pelosi informed her colleagues that she had taken this step at a recent members’ dinner.

While $5,000 is the federal limit for a donation to a traditional PAC, super PACs have no limit on the amount of soft money they can accept from individual donors.

On a separate front, Pelosi is already raising unlimited soft money — with the approval of the Federal Election Commission and House Ethics Committee — for redistricting fights, including paying for legal challenges to new House districts after the 2010 census.

The move by Pelosi and Reid is the latest escalation of the two major parties’ unending money chase, and it shows how far Democrats will go to push the legal envelope in what will very likely be a hugely competitive 2012 election cycle. Democrats said Pelosi and Reid are taking such a step only because of the tens of millions of dollars pro-GOP organizations poured into last November’s elections.
Juan Williams spoke to Karl Rove about the Crossroads GPS ads on the Obama record:


Monday, June 27, 2011

Bachmann Background

CNN reports:
Bachmann, unlike several of her rivals making appeals to the Tea Party movement, has the resources and fundraising potential to steer her campaign beyond the crucial early states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Though firmly on the insurgent side of the Republican field, she is also taking steps to position herself as a credible alternative to the crop of establishment-friendly White House contenders with deep pockets and long political resumes.

She has hired Sarah Palin's debate coach. She nabbed Haley Barbour's pollster.

And Bachmann's campaign organization will be based not in Minnesota, but in Washington, where the coming battle on Capitol Hill over raising the debt ceiling will place her squarely in the middle of the national political debate this summer.

...

Meanwhile, her staff has been busy laying the groundwork for a competitive race.

Her congressional chief of staff, Andy Parrish, re-located to Des Moines in early June. Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson, a popular figure among Iowa Tea Party activists, will chair her campaign.
Wes Enos, the political director behind Mike Huckabee's surprising second place finish in the 2007 Ames Straw Poll, is taking on a similar role for Bachmann ahead of this year's poll, scheduled for August 13.

Out of the view of the media, there is also behind-the-scenes work underway to win over the kind of hard-to-reach grassroots activists who often play an outsized role in the caucuses.

Bachmann, for instance, has lined up the backing of influential home-school activist Barb Heki, a board member of the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators who assisted Huckabee's winning caucus effort in 2008 and helped the conservative effort to oust three judges from the Iowa Supreme Court last year.

In private meetings in recent months, Bachmann has won over influential faith leaders across the state, including Brad Cranston, the pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in Burlington.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Somebody's Doing Oppo on Michele Bachmann

The Los Angeles Times reports:
With a new Iowa poll putting her in a dead heat with the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, Rep. Michele Bachmann deflected allegations that she and her family had benefited from government assistance programs and said that hundreds of thousands of dollars to her family farm and a counseling clinic went instead to her employees and her in-laws.

"My husband and I did not get the money," she said, appearing on Sunday news talk shows as she prepared to officially open her campaign in her original hometown of Waterloo, Iowa.

The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that Bachmann, a congresswoman from Minnesota and "tea party" favorite, portrayed herself as a fiscal conservative while also benefiting from government funds and federal farm subsidies. An examination of her record and finances showed that a counseling clinic run by her husband received nearly $30,000 from the state of Minnesota in the last five years, with part of the money coming from the federal government. And a family farm in Wisconsin, where she is listed as a partner, received some $260,000 in federal subsidies.

Bachmann and her staff declined to talk to about the government assistance for the L.A. Times article. But asked about the issue on "Fox News Sunday," she insisted that she and her husband had not benefited at the expense of federal and state taxpayers.

"First of all," she said, "the money that went to the clinic was actually training money for employees. The clinic did not get the money. And my husband and I did not get the money either. That's mental health training money that went to employees."

As for the farm, she said it belonged to her father-in-law. "It's not my husband and my farm," Bachmann said. "And my husband and I have never gotten a penny of money from the farm."

As the Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday, however, in financial disclosure forms, Bachmann reported receiving between $32,503 and $105,000 in income from the farm, at minimum, between 2006 and 2009.
Although some of the original Times report came from the newspaper's FOIA request, other elements of the story relied on Minnesota state records. So what other candidate has deep knowledge of the Minnesota bureaucracy? And who faces the greatest threat from a conservative evangelical from Minnesota?

I would wager that at least some of the information in the Times story came via Pawlenty's oppo shop.

Bachmann's Electoral History

Michele Bachmann represents the 6th District of Minnesota, where George W. Bush won 57 percent in 2004 and John McCain won 53 percent in 2008. In her three elections to the House, she has performed below her party's presidential showings:

2006....50%
2008....46%
2010....52%

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Iowa Poll: Romney and Bachmann Lead

The Des Moines Register reports:
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann sit atop the standings in the year’s first Des Moines Register Iowa Poll on the Republican presidential field.

Romney, the national front-runner and a familiar face in Iowa after his 2008 presidential run, attracts support from 23 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers. Bachmann, who will officially kick off her campaign in Iowa on Monday, nearly matches him, with 22 percent.

“She’s up there as a real competitor and a real contender,” said Republican pollster Randy Gutermuth, who is unaffiliated with any of the presidential candidates. “This would indicate that she’s going to be a real player in Iowa.”

Former Godfather’s CEO Herman Cain, who has never held public office but has found a following among tea party supporters, comes in third, with 10 percent.

The other candidates tested register in single digits: former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, 7 percent each; former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, 6 percent; former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, 4 percent; and former Utah Gov. and ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, 2 percent.

Pawlenty has spent 26 days in Iowa during this election cycle, has hired an A-list team of Iowa campaign operatives and was the first major candidate to air television ads in Iowa.

“If I were the Pawlenty camp, I would be enormously concerned about this poll,” said Jennifer Duffy of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.


Filling Gaps in the White House Website, Part 69

From a July 22 interview with Voice of America:
Q. 14:26:01 You mentioned military budgets, and I’m sure that one of your considerations for the withdrawal, is the cost of the war. A broader question is to what extent does the current budget crisis drive your foreign policy in terms of what the U.S. can and can’t do? 14:26:19

A. 14:26:20 The truth is that these considerations were not based on budgetary calculations. They were based on a strategy that I had laid out 18 months ago, and I wanted to make sure that we abided by because I made a commitment to the American people that the surge would only last for 18-24 months. 14:26:44 First and foremost, it was driven by the strategic recognition, that the only way for us to have a secure Afghanistan over the long term, is to make sure that Afghans have capacity and that we can’t patrol villages and police their streets. Ultimately, Afghans have to do that. 14:27:08 What is no doubt true, is that the United States has carried an enormous burden financially, from not only the Afghan war, but the Iraq war. One of the arguments that I made in talking to the American people about this drawdown is that our strength, our power, has always been based first and foremost on our own economic strength and prosperity. We have to be more judicious in how we project power. That’s good strategy. It’s good for our national security. It happens to also be good for our budget. 14:27:45


Crossroads GPS Ad Buy Against POTUS

Today, Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (Crossroads GPS) announced a new $20 million issue advocacy initiative over the next two months to frame the national debate on jobs, the economy and the national debt in anticipation of congressional action on these issues.

In the first phase of the initiative, on Monday Crossroads GPS will launch a new national TV ad, “Shovel Ready,” which details the Obama Administration’s failure to improve the economy with its $830 billion stimulus legislation and other policies.

The spot’s $5 million television buy covers national cable news channels as well as local network affiliates in key states, including Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, and Virginia.



See a similar, earlier ad from American Crossroads:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Super PAC News

Dan Eggen and Chris Cillizza write in The Washington Post:

A group of prominent Mitt Romney backers has quietly started a “super PAC” to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money in support of his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, according to organizers and others involved in the effort.

Restore Our Future PAC, spearheaded by several former Romney aides, is the latest in an expanding list of groups that have formed to take advantage of court rulings that allow corporations, unions and tycoons to spend millions on elections without restrictions.

The development provides further evidence that Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is shaping up as the candidate to beat in the GOP money race, and underscores the extensive role that well-funded outside groups are likely to play in the 2012 election. Restore Our Future PAC appears to be the first super PAC to form specifically in favor of one of the presidential contenders.

The group aims to go head-to-head with Priorities USA Action, a similar super PAC led by former White House aides in support of President Obama. But Restore Our Future PAC could be used to go after other Republicans if necessary in the party’s primary season, those familiar with the operation said.


The Christian Science Monitor's Dave Cook reports:

Supporters of Mitt Romney, the front-runner in the Republican presidential field, have launched a “super PAC” to raise money to promote his candidacy, even as leaders of American Crossroads, the biggest of the Republican super PACs, promised Friday to remain neutral during the primary season.

That signals that American Crossroads intends to save most of its fire for the general election, when the GOP nominee will be up against a well-funded President Obama, and will not choose a horse in the GOP nominating race.

The wrinkle in that scenario is that the new pro-Romney PAC and American Crossroads share a key executive – an overlap that had reporters closely questioning the Crossroads leaders about the neutrality assertion when they appeared Friday at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast gathering.

...

Reporters asked Mr. Duncan and Steven Law, the group’s president and CEO, pointed questions about American Crossroads' neutrality. The Washington Post story about the pro-Romney super PAC noted that its board of directors includes political operative Carl Forti, who was political director for Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign. Mr. Forti is now political director of American Crossroads.

“Carl is a contract employee with American Crossroads. He has other clients; we knew he had other clients. But clearly none of us are going to be involved personally in presidential campaigns. And he is not either,” Duncan said.

At The Washington Post, Philip Rucker has more detail on the breakfast session:

American Crossroads, the massive political action committee that helped propel Republicans into the House majority last fall, is planning to spend $120 million on a 2012 election cycle it is casting as a “David and Goliath” struggle between well-funded Democrats and underfunded Republicans.

The group’s chairman, Mike Duncan, told reporters Friday morning that 2012 would be the most expensive campaign cycle in history. He said that the so-called “super PAC” would go after President Obama early and often, perhaps attacking the incumbent on television before Republicans have settled on their nominee.

We’re going to have $2 billion spent in the suspension of reality,” Duncan said, suggesting that Obama’s reelection campaign would raise $1 billion while the president’s allies on the left would spend hundreds of millions more.

Duncan said the campaign would be a “David and Goliath” struggle, adding that, although his group is budgeting $120 million for its efforts in the presidential race as well as congressional contests, “we will probably be outspent.”

Danny Yadron writes at The Wall Street Journal:

Jerry Perenchio, the former chairman of the Spanish-language television network Univision, cut American Crossroads a $2 million check this spring, according the Republican outside group’s latest filing with the Federal Election Commission.

Mr. Perenchio is by far Crossroads’ largest disclosed donor for the first half of 2011, during which it raised $3.8 million. Its sister group, Crossroads GPS, does not have to disclose its donors. Mr. Perenchio is one of the biggest political donors, giving mostly, but not exclusively, to Republicans.

Texas home builder Bob Perry, who gave Crossroads $7 million last fall, chipped in $500,000. Others from the Lone Star State accounted for $1.2 million.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Huntsman Looks to Independents in NH & SC

Kasie Hunt writes in Politico:
Jon Huntsman sketched out a path to the Republican nomination Wednesday that transcends the conservative base in key early states, an exercise in needle-threading that hinges on his ability to capture a large swath of independent voters.

In an interview with POLITICO, Huntsman made clear that he plans to capitalize on election rules in New Hampshire and South Carolina that allow independent voters to cast ballots in the GOP presidential primary.

“These are wide open primaries, we forget that,” Huntsman said, predicting an independent turnout in New Hampshire as high as 40 percent. “[I] think, given the fluidity of the race in these early states, that we stand a pretty good chance, and we’re putting that to the test.”

The former Utah governor’s strategy is an attempt to make a virtue out of necessity. His moderate positions on the environment, immigration and civil unions —and his time as Barack Obama’s ambassador to China—are formidable obstacles to victory in a party where the energy is concentrated in the conservative core.

According to Huntsman’s blueprint, his early state performances could provide a springboard into Florida, where his campaign is headquartered and where he expects his wife Mary Kaye, an Orlando native, to be an asset.

Huntsman described his nomination scenario: “An aggressive approach to New Hampshire and South Carolina, cutting his wife loose in Florida, and crossing the finish line—I mean, I said that last part a little tongue-in-cheek,” Huntsman explained. “But when you look at open primaries in both New Hampshire and South Carolina, I think it’s a wide open affair, I really do.”
The open primary rules in New Hampshire, home to the nation’s first primary– and an electorate with more unaffiliated voters than Republicans – helped the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee, John McCain, salvage his campaign there. Huntsman has made no secret of New Hampshire’s importance to his campaign, saying he’ll skip the Iowa caucuses and setting up a head-to-head showdown there with frontrunner Mitt Romney.

In 2008, Romney led McCain among self-identified Republicans who voted in the NH primary, but McCain won because 37% of the participants were independents and they favored him 40-27%.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How Huntsman Finished Second at RLC

His supporters packed the house. Jonathan Martin shows an email by a New Orleans supporter of Huntsman:
Date: Wed, 15 Jun 2011 19:17:57 -0500

Subject: INSIDER INVITATION
From: xxx@xxxx
To: xxx@xxxx

To Team Bonin,

I have a very special invitation to all, regardless of party
affiliation. I am hosting a free insider's look at the Republican
Southern Leadership Conference this Saturday.

Anyone who is interested will meet at Lakeview Harbor at 9:00 am, we
will board a free bus for the conference at 9:30 sharp, free tickets
to the conference are included, we will go to the conference, meet
with an insider from a presidential campaign, participate in
conference, participate in a straw poll, then head back to Lakeview
harbor for refreshments. There is no cost involved and it does not
matter what your party affiliation is. The whole thing should last
between two to three hours.

I have a limited number of invitations and it will be first come,
first served. Anyone who is interested should reply to this email
immediately with your name, cell number, email address, and
city/parish you are from.

Sent from Brett A. Bonin's iPhone

Rush v. Huntsman

Rush Limbaugh is less than enthusiastic about the Huntsman roll-out:
Jon Huntsman announced his candidacy today for the Republican presidential nomination, and he took a page from the book of the esteemed and the great Ronaldus Magnus. He went out there and made his announcement in front of the Statue of Liberty, and he's got a logo (a red rectangle with his name, "Jon Huntsman;" and then white with "JonHuntsman.com").* and somebody observed to me that it looks like a designer label that you might find in clothes. His logo does, his icon.

But it's interesting. I'll give you a little hint, a setup. He channels Ronaldus Magnus, does Huntsman. He basically says, "Look, we gotta go out there and we have to respect President Obama! I deeply respect President Obama. I am not going to run down anyone's reputation," and, by the way, the chattering classes both on our side and the left are going nuts here. I have a little media montage of the State-Run Media orgasmic over Huntsman making his announcement at the same place as Reagan frequently appeared. But it just illustrates exactly what we were talking about yesterday.

The Republican Party is still convinced that in order to secure the support of independents, that they have to be boring. They have to be serious and Milquetoast and cannot be confrontational, cannot be partisan, cannot go into attack mode. Somehow this is going to cause the independents to get nervous and send them running right back to Obama. Now, of course, that's flat-out BS, it's totally wrong. The elections of last November demonstrate that in a real world, real life example. But then there's also this. We're told -- and this is a trap, by the way, the left puts this out. It's designed to get us to be boring. It's designed to get us not to contrast ourselves with the left.
Actually the website is jonhunstmanjr.com, which redirects to www.jon2012.com. The website jonhuntsman.com belongs to somebody who opposes Huntsman, as Holly Bailey explained earlier this year:

Jon Huntsman may be staffing up ahead of a potential 2012 run, but President Obama's soon-to-be-ex ambassador to China apparently forgot about one very important task for any likely presidential candidate: Buying his own web domain name.

Visitors to JonHuntsman.com are now taken to a page that hosts the former Utah governor's so-called "love letter" to Obama that someone leaked to The Daily Caller last week.

The letter is posted against a pink backdrop dotted with light pink hearts. Meanwhile, whoever is behind the page also created a heart graphic for the site modeled after Obama's 2008 campaign logo.

According to WHOIS, the directory of web domain owners, someone anonymously purchased the domain in late January--weeks after Huntsman put out word that he was considering running for the GOP nomination in 2012.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Huntsman Announces

Anti-Mormon Prejudice is a Problem for Huntsman and Romney

Gallup reports on a disturbing number:
Though the vast majority of Americans say they would vote for their party's nominee for president in 2012 if that person happens to be a Mormon, 22% say they would not, a figure largely unchanged since 1967.

The question is mainly relevant to the Republican and independent vote in 2012, given that the current Republican front-runner, Mitt Romney, is an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon church, and that another Mormon, former Utah Gov. and former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, may enter the race for the GOP nomination as early as next week.

The new Gallup poll, conducted June 9-12, finds nearly 20% of Republicans and independents saying they would not support a Mormon for president. That is slightly lower than the 27% of Democrats saying the same.
...
The stability in U.S. bias against voting for a Mormon presidential candidate contrasts markedly with steep declines in similar views toward several other groups over the past half-century, including blacks, women, Catholics, and Jews. The last time as many as 22% of Americans said they would not vote for any of these groups (the same level opposed to voting for a Mormon today) was 1959 for Catholics, 1961 for Jews, 1971 for blacks, and 1975 for women. As noted, opposition to voting for each of these has since tapered off to single digits.
Part of the problem is that mainstream media pundits can get away with blatant anti-Mormon bigotry, as Lawrence O'Donnell did in 2007:

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Top Bush Guy for Huntsman

Mark Halperin reports at Time that C. Boyden Gray is endorsing Huntsman and will chair his policy team. Halperin calls the endorsement "a semiotic dog whistle for a lot of big-time bundlers."

Gray's public role could draw attacks over the issue of cap-and-trade. As The Smithsonian reported a couple of years ago, Gray was an early advocate of a version of cap-and-trade:
EDF president Fred Krupp phoned Bush's new White House counsel—Boyden Gray—and suggested that the best way for Bush to make good on his pledge to become the "environmental president" was to fix the acid rain problem, and the best way to do that was by using the new tool of emissions trading. Gray liked the marketplace approach, and even before the Reagan administration expired, he put EDF staffers to work drafting legislation to make it happen. The immediate aim was to break the impasse over acid rain. But global warming had also registered as front-page news for the first time that sweltering summer of 1988; according to Krupp, EDF and the Bush White House both felt from the start that emissions trading would ultimately be the best way to address this much larger challenge.
But Gray has been highly critical of recent cap-and-trade legislation, as he wrote in 2010:

As noted, the White House and the sponsors of the Waxman-Markey legislation passed last year prominently asserted that their proposals were based on the successful acid rain cap and trade program by the CAAA in 1990. But the acid rain reduction and other successes based on it did not involve the impossibly complicated $1 trillion auction/tax/allowance reallocation scheme that Waxman-Markey features, as a result of the political logrolling necessary to secure the close 219-212 House vote.

To the contrary, all previous cap and trade programs have been based on an annual reduction of allowances initially allocated on the basis of an average of previous emissions that were well documented -- a simple formula that has been totally abandoned by Waxman-Markey.

Gray was also an advocate for the disabled. Mary Lou Breslin, cofounder of a disability-rights group, recalls that Gray first started working on the issue when he was in the Office of the Vice President during the 1980s:

But at this early stage, in the sort of '81 to '83 period, his general counsel was C. Boyden Gray. Boyden Gray played bridge with Evan Kemp, and we were hanging out at Evan Kemp's house. Basically, we made friends--"friends" is a reasonable thing to say, although there's a lot of backlash about hanging out with the Republicans these days--we developed a personal relationship with Boyden Gray. Over a period of years, and certainly at the very beginning, Boyden got convinced that disability issues were legitimate civil rights issues and was very influential in reversing the task force's intent to deregulate 504 particularly. He had a very big hand in running interference between the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Justice and the task force, and he remained Bush's general counsel when he became president.
So the early seeds that were planted with Boyden Gray in terms of disability as a legitimate civil rights issue were personal experiences. He sat around the table with Bob and Pat and Evan, and to a lesser extent, me, and we got to hear the stories about everybody's experiences growing up with disability. Evan got out of law school and applied to seventy-five jobs or something and couldn't get a job because he had a disability. I'm sure it was because he used a wheelchair. Nobody would hire him. Boyden was moved by that, because they're both good old Southern boys and they both went to law school. He began to understand what that might mean. He was developing a perception of these issues, and that single contact and that shift--not alone, by any means; there are four or five other absolutely critical things that happened--but that was an incredibly important contact.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

House Majority PAC


Lapp earlier this year decided New York-26 would be the first test of her House Majority PAC, which didn’t even have office space in Washington at that point.
...

Lapp eventually settled on a message that tied Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget plan to an increase in the national debt. “Seniors sacrifice, the wealthy gain, our debt skyrockets,” the announcer said in the ad.

It was a slight twist on the messaging being pushed by Hochul and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which focused on the Ryan plan’s impact on Medicare benefits for seniors.

Lapp subsequently raised $350,000 for the ad, whose run-time was meant to match the second half of the $650,000 ad buy made by American Crossroads.

“Without them coming in, we would have just been swamped,” said strategist Jon Vogel, who was a media consultant for Hochul. “Crossroads and the [National Republican Congressional Committee] were just pounding Kathy.”

...

Lapp served as the deputy director of the DCCC’s independent-expenditure arm in 2006, when now-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel ran the committee. The Democrats retook the House that cycle, and several observers say the IE’s work that year became a model for the following cycles.

...

John Lapp is now a consultant for the DCCC, and it would be illegal for Ali and John to coordinate their activities.

Lapp said their dinner-table conversations steer clear of any conflicts of interest.

“John and I have a very simple rule — we don’t talk about House campaigns that John is working on. Work is work. And home is home,” she said.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Republican Leadership Conference

Carl Cannon reports at RealClearPolitics:

Texas Rep. Ron Paul, riding the strength of his loyal, passionate -- and mostly young -- libertarian-minded enthusiasts, captured the presidential straw vote Saturday at the Republican Leadership Conference.

Out of 1,542 votes cast, the Texas congressman and libertarian hero earned 618 of them -- a decisive 39.7 percent in a field of 10. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who cancelled his scheduled appearance here due to a summer cold -- and whose aggressive straw vote efforts took place beneath the radar and were rumored to include paying the way of his supporters to New Orleans -- was second with 24.8 percent. Michele Bachmann came in third at 12.4 percent.

Mitt Romney, who leads the GOP field in fundraising, name identification and national polling, finished a distant fifth, behind pizza magnate Herman Cain. Romney, who made a point of not signing a sweeping pro-life pledge offered by the Susan B. Anthony List because he thought it went too far, did not even reach 5 percent. The rest of the field, in order, was Newt Gingrich (4.5 percent), Sarah Palin (2.7 percent), Rick Santorum (2 percent), Tim Pawlenty (1.2 percent), and Gary Johnson and Buddy Roemer with less than 1 percent each.

...

Among the Republicans in attendance here, the anticipation Saturday wasn't for the straw vote results or Ron Paul, however. It was for the arrival of another Texas politician, Gov. Rick Perry, who wasn't listed on the straw poll ballot and who has so far left only cryptic hints that he might run for president in 2012. But Perry arrived here amid much fanfare late Saturday afternoon, and delivered a rousing and well-received speech to a packed auditorium.

After three days and dozens of speeches bashing President Obama and liberalism, this crowd didn't need to hear a lot more of it, but Perry distilled his critique of the administration into a single phrase: "Too much interference, too much spending, and too much apologizing."

Mitt Romney, who leads the GOP field in fundraising, name identification and national polling, finished a distant fifth, behind pizza magnate Herman Cain. Romney, who made a point of not signing a sweeping pro-life pledge offered by the Susan B. Anthony List because he thought it went too far, did not even reach 5 percent. The rest of the field, in order, was Newt Gingrich (4.5 percent), Sarah Palin (2.7 percent), Rick Santorum (2 percent), Tim Pawlenty (1.2 percent), and Gary Johnson and Buddy Roemer with less than 1 percent each.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Governors and the 2012 Election

At National Journal, Reid Wilson writes:

The governors themselves will have a big impact on the 2012 presidential contest. Their governance will send a powerful signal, but the very fact that almost a dozen governorships will be on the ballot is going to inject big money into key states. Those governors who do not have to seek reelection next year can donate their political organizations—often the best existing machines in their states—to their party’s eventual nominee.

A party holding the governorship is an advantage in a presidential contest, though it doesn’t guarantee a victory. The correlation between a governor’s mansion and winning elections is much stronger when it comes to Senate contests. Since 1995, almost three quarters of the Senate seats Republicans have picked up have come in states that either had a Republican governor serving at the time or had a Republican gubernatorial candidate win the same day.

So while both Democratic and Republican presidential field organizations will benefit from having governors in charge in key states, the real impact of the GOP’s 2010 gubernatorial victories could come in Senate races: In nine of the 11 states that hold governor elections in 2012, a Senate seat is also on the ballot.

Republicans would seem to have the upper hand. Of the 13 states rated toss-up or leaning toward one party or another by the Cook Political Report, eight have Republican governors. Those eight states—Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia—make up 118 electoral votes; that’s more than enough, when added to each party’s base vote, to push either side to the 270 required to win the presidency. Republicans are aiming for Senate seats in several states in which governorships are on the ballot, including in Montana, North Dakota, and Missouri.

What’s more, Republicans will work hard to win the three toss-up or lean states that have Democratic governors seeking another term.

Stuart Rothenberg rebuts articles claiming that unpopular GOP governors could hurt the party's presidential nominee:

What has been missing from every one of these pieces is evidence of unpopular governors damaging their presidential nominees’ prospects in the past. In fact, not a single one of the people who have asserted that the damage is likely pointed to a previous instance where it occurred.

Now, it’s certainly possible that this could be the first time in our nation’s history that an unpopular governor of a swing state will damage his party’s presidential nominee, but the paucity of evidence surely is a problem for those making the argument.

Essentially, what we have been given by the folks at PPP and others is a scenario, a notion, an idea, a thought. They are a dime a dozen in politics. Every candidate I interview has a scenario of how he is going to win. Every vacuous talking head on TV has a scenario about some outcome.

I looked for instances where an unpopular governor was the decisive factor in how a state voted for president, and I didn’t find much.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Somebody's Doing Oppo on Rick Perry

A tweet from The Atlantic's Joshua Green:
Tip: If you're calling me to peddle dirt on Rick Perry, doesn't help your case to mention that I'm the 30th call you've made.

Teaser Web Ad from Huntsman

The Stop-Romney Campaign

At The New Republic, Sahil Kapur describes conservative efforts to stop Romney:
Probably the most prominent group targeting Romney is FreedomWorks, the Dick Armey-led conservative organization. The group has been increasingly vocal about its opposition to the former governor of Massachusetts. “Romney has a record and we don’t really like it that much,” Adam Brandon, FreedomWorks’ communications director, recently told The Huffington Post. Now the group is threatening to unleash part of its $25 million treasure trove in an attempt to sink his candidacy.
...

Working parallel to Steinhauser and FreedomWorks is Alaskan Joe Miller, the Tea Party favorite who won his state’s Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2010 before losing to Lisa Murkowski in the general election. Miller has taken it upon himself to launch a new “Stop Romney” campaign that’s hoping to raise and spend as much as $500,000 on television and radio ads attacking Romney as an unscrupulous opportunist—all of which will be funneled into his most critical early primary state. “We’re going to put all our focus on New Hampshire,” says Bryan Shroyer, executive director of Miller’s Western Representation PAC, which has over 250,000 supporters and spent heavily to back conservatives in 2010.
...
Finally, social conservatives are rejuvenating their battle against Romney. Last time around, the religious group American Right To Life ran ads in key primary states decrying Romney’s pro-life conversion as a “fairy tale.” This cycle, the group intends to run ads in Iowa and South Carolina in a self-proclaimed effort to “decimate” Romney’s campaign early on. “We plan to repeat our strategy that worked in 2008, which was to blanket those states with TV ads letting the conservative Christian base know that Mitt Romney supports the killing of unborn children,” American Right To Life spokesman Bob Enyart told me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Weiner Case: Enter Allred

You know you're in trouble when:
2. She says that you told her to lie;
3. She calls on you to resign;
4. She said that if you lied "about this," she can't believe you about anything else; and
5. Gloria Allred is her lawyer.

June Gloom for POTUS

Jake Tapper reports on an unforced error:

Of all the numbers in the ABC News/Washington Post poll last week that brought bad news to the White House, the one that surprised some senior White House officials the most was the one measuring what voters see as the president’s empathy.

How much a president “understands the problems of people like you” is a key barometer for a president, and in this poll, fewer than 50 percent of respondents said President Obama understands their problems. Forty-nine percent said he understood the problems of people like them, 49 percent disagreed.

Senior White House officials say other polling they have seen on the president’s perceived “empathy” does not square with these numbers, and they agree it’s something to keep an eye on.

As well they should; Republicans are seizing on recent comments President Obama has made to paint him as out of touch.

A couple of remarks GOPers have seized upon:

Most recently, on Monday, at a meeting of his Jobs and Competitiveness Council in North Carolina, President Obama was asked about the delays in the permitting process for stimulus jobs.

Shovel-ready was not as shovel ready as we expected,” the president said, as the head of his council, Jeffrey Immelt of GE, chuckled exuberantly.

The president said something similar last October in an interview with the New York Times, ... [b]ut this time the remarks were made in front of a camera and came with a presidential smirk and some background chuckles.

Gallup reports:

President Obama's job approval rating averaged 46% for the week ending June 12, a significant decline from his weekly averages for most of May and nearly back to the level before Osama bin Laden's death on May 1.

Thus, it appears the sustained rally in support for the president after the death of the Sept. 11 terror mastermind is largely over. The drop in Obama's approval rating coincides with an increase in Americans' pessimism about the economy. Economic confidence also increased after bin Laden's death but began to decline early this month, perhaps due to reports of anemic job growth and concerns about the slow pace of economic recovery.

Among partisan groups, independents' approval rating of Obama dropped the most in the past week, from 47% to 42%, with a smaller decline among Democrats. Republicans' approval of Obama spiked to 21% during the first week after bin Laden's death from 10% in late April, before falling back to the 15% range, where it has held since.

At the Weekly Standard, Jay Cost talks about the president's efforts to shore up his standing:

It will do no good. The president can visit as many green companies as he likes. His team can put out as many strategy videos as it likes. It can organize its ground game in Virginia all day and all night. None of this is going to change the fundamentals of this upcoming election, which are:

1. The economy is substantially weaker for Obama than for other previous presidents who won reelection.

2. The deficit is now substantially higher than before.

3. His major domestic reform--Obamacare--is substantially more unpopular.

4. The American people are substantially more pessimistic.

That's the state of the nation at this point. Nothing the Obama campaign can do at this point will affect any of these fundamentals--the hope is that its efforts will alter the public's perceptions of these fundamentals, but it won't. If we've learned anything in the last 50 years of the modern campaign, it's that the billion dollar efforts of campaign technocrats, who now dominate our politics, cannot convince people that the sun rises in the west.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bachmann and Romney

Gallup reports:
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who formally announced her presidential candidacy at Monday night's Republican debate in New Hampshire, is currently recognized by 62% of Republicans nationwide. Her Positive Intensity Score of 18 essentially ties the better-known Mitt Romney's 19.

Seven prospective GOP presidential nominees participated in the nationally televised debate at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire, including Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Herman Cain, in addition to Bachmann and Romney. Any impact of the debate on Republicans' views of the candidates would not be reflected in Gallup's May 30-June 12 daily tracking update.

Bachmann's 62% recognition score is up from 52% earlier this year, but has not changed in recent weeks. Her current Positive Intensity Score is essentially tied as the second highest for the 10 candidates Gallup tracks, although down from her high of 23 in mid-May.

Romney has emerged in recent weeks as the GOP front-runner. His Positive Intensity Score among Republicans who recognize him has risen to 19, his highest since late March/early April. Romney's and Bachmann's Positive Intensity Scores remain well behind Herman Cain's 28, although Cain's 41% recognition is significantly lower than Bachmann's and Romney's. Romney is known by 84% of Republicans.

CNN reports:

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann's newly official presidential bid drew fresh eyes Tuesday after complimentary reviews of her performance in a face-off with her Republican rivals.

Several CNN analysts declared her one of the winners of the CNN-sponsored New Hampshire GOP debate Monday night, while House Speaker John Boehner said the third-term congresswoman "did a really good job last night."

"I think she is a bright member of our caucus," Boehner told reporters. "It's one of the reasons why I appointed her to the Intelligence Committee."

During her relatively short time in Washington, Bachmann has staked out a position on the far right and made some gaffes that have made her the butt of critics' jokes. She has accused Obama of forcing "tyranny" on Americans, earning CNN contributor John Avlon's "Wingnut of the Year" award in 2009. She has been complimented as the next Sarah Palin and dismissed as "a poor man's Sarah Palin," as Meghan McCain, the tart-tongued daughter of the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, put it in February.

But underestimating Bachmann would be a mistake, University of Minnesota political science professor Larry Jacobs said.

"She's very strategically smart," Jacobs said. "Michele Bachmann has taken on the political establishment throughout her career and has prevailed each time."

But there is some question as to how she would fare in the general election. And like CNN a few days ago, Gallup finds a GOP emphasis on electability:

Republicans nationwide are closely divided between those preferring that their party's 2012 presidential nominee be the person with the best chance of beating President Barack Obama and those favoring someone who shares their views on the issues they most care about. Given this choice, slightly more prioritize electability over issue agreement, 50% vs. 44%.

This sentiment appears to differ from what was the case leading up to the 2008 presidential election. Two Gallup polls conducted in late 2007 found the slight majority of Republicans saying issue agreement would be the more important factor to their vote, while about 4 in 10 chose electability.

The June 8-11, 2011, USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted with 851 Republicans and independents who lean Republican, shows Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin leading Republicans' vote preferences for 2012, with 24% and 16% support, respectively.


Pawlenty Screws Up?

Politico reports:
Tim Pawlenty’s puzzling decision at Monday’s debate to abandon a new line of attack on Mitt Romney’s health care record is prompting fresh doubts among members of his own party about his readiness to confront the GOP frontrunner.

One day after Pawlenty linked Romney’s Massachusetts health care plan with the federal health reform law as “Obamneycare” in a nationally televised interview, the former Minnesota governor retreated from the sharp critique at the first debate featuring Romney.

Pawlenty’s decision to back down — coming after his campaign promoted the original assault — was met with a mix of derision and bewilderment among veteran GOP strategists who are not committed to any of the candidates.

Few could recall another example of a candidate unveiling an attack in one high-profile forum, as Pawlenty did on “Fox News Sunday,” only to attempt to put the gun back in the holster in another such setting so soon afterward.

“Debates are competitions — they are alpha dog battles,” explained longtime GOP ad man Alex Castellanos. “To win one, you have to create what I call an ‘MOS,’ a moment of strength. Tim Pawlenty had a chance to get in the ring tonight with the heavyweight champion and create such a moment. He refused to enter the ring. It was like LeBron refusing to take the big shot [Sunday] night.”

At the Christian Science Monitor, however, Linda Feldmann takes a different view:

But imagine if Pawlenty had gone negative, and been the only one to do so. Many voters still don’t know him, and if he had stuck out as the only negative candidate on stage toward a fellow contender, that might have set a sour impression in voters’ minds. Remember President Reagan’s 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”

“He was determined not to have an internal GOP fight, and keep the focus on Obama,” says former Rep. Vin Weber of Minnesota, a co-chairman of the Pawlenty campaign. “I understand he took flak, but his motivation was right. If the Republicans had gotten into a food fight over Romney and health care, a lot of Republicans wouldn’t have liked that either.”

Pawlenty himself took to the airwaves Tuesday morning to defend himself.

“I think what you saw last night is a party that's united on the understanding that we need to get Barack Obama out of the White House,” Pawlenty said on the CBSEarly Show.” “He's had his chance, his policies aren't working.... There will be some differences amongst Republicans, as well. But last night the focus was on the president.”


Monday, June 13, 2011

Good Polls for Romney

Republicans' support for Mitt Romney as their party's 2012 presidential nominee has increased significantly to 24%, compared with 17% in late May. As a result, Romney has widened his advantage over Sarah Palin in the latest update on rank-and-file Republicans' nomination preferences.

These results are based on a June 8-11 USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted on the eve of a candidate debate in New Hampshire that will be the first to include some of the better-known candidates.

Romney appears to have gotten a boost in recent weeks after the official announcement of his candidacy. Gallup's prior update of May 20-24 came just after former co-leaders Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump announced they were not candidates for the nomination; that poll showed Romney and Palin in a virtual tie. Since then, Romney's support has increased and Palin's has been flat, leaving Romney with an eight-percentage-point advantage.

CNN reports:

One day before a CNN/WMUR/New Hampshire Union Leader Republican presidential debate, a new national poll suggests that when it comes to the next election for the White House, Republicans put winning over ideological purity.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Sunday morning, three-quarters of Republicans and GOP leaning independent voters say they want a party nominee who can defeat President Barack Obama in 2012, even if that person doesn't agree with them on every issue. That's up seven percentage points from January.

Read full results (pdf).

Only 24 percent say that they want a candidate who agrees with them on every issue even if that person may not be able to beat Obama next year, down five points from the beginning of the year.

The poll also indicates that the two best-known potential GOP presidential hopefuls - Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani - are also the ones with the highest favorable rating among Republicans.

"That may explain why they feel they can wait before throwing their hats in the ring," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Romney and Unofficial Conservative Powers

Ben Smith writes at Politico:

The Drudge primary has begun, and Mitt Romney is winning.

The former governor of Massachusetts may be the punching bag of the conservative media, ridiculed on blogs and talk radio as a plasticine, untrustworthy flip-flopper and the grandfather of the hated Obamacare.


But on the Drudge Report, Matt Drudge’s no frills but enduringly influential website, Romney is simply the frontrunner (“ROMNEY WINS NH STRAW POLL”,), the “BILLION DOLLAR MAN,” and the president’s most implacable foe (“ROMNEY: FIRST THING I WOULD UNDO IS OBAMACARE”).

A survey of the last year’s worth of Drudge headlines found only one debatably negative reference to the 2002 Olympics CEO (“Bachmann outraises Romney”) — and a survey of aides to his rivals found a rising level of frustration at what one described as “favoritism” by one of the most important, if also one of the quirkiest, referees.

“One of the mysteries of Drudge is how he continues to be such a mystery. Never clear how or why he leans for or against candidates. But there is a lot of behind the scenes, very quiet and secretive mojo that goes on,” said Mark McKinnon, who, as a top adviser to Sen. John McCain in 2008, watched with dismay as Drudge gave top billing to — in particular — questions about the Arizonan’s health.

“It looks like someone in Romneyland has figured out the secret code,” McKinnon said.

Frustrated rivals think they know the secret: a low-profile, hard-driving Republican operative named Matt Rhoades, who is now Romney’s campaign manager. Rhoades met Drudge, as POLITICO Editor-in-Chief John F. Harris and Mark Halperin reported in their book “The Way to Win,” when he became research director of the Republican National Committee and was introduced by his predecessor on a special trip to Miami. Rhoades has since been seen as a pipeline to the reclusive editor, who now has two veteran Washington reporters working on the site as well.

As Kathleen Parker observes, however, Rush Limbaugh is not on board:

Now he’s in the “hot seat” on global warming, a Post headline informs us. Romney has said that he believes global warming is real and that humans are contributing to it.

Whoa! Sorry, bub, but if you’re a Republican presidential contender, this is not an ideologically approved position. None other than Rush Limbaugh says Romney is history — “Bye-bye, nomination.”

One can infer that Romney is not Limbaugh’s candidate of choice, but is it really so remarkable that Romney would accept scientific evidence that Earth’s climate is changing and that humans, because of their historically unprecedented carbon emissions, might contribute to that effect?

Never mind that Romney couched his comments with enough disclaimers to leave a T. rex wiggle room, even saying that he didn’t know the degree of human contribution, the crux of the debate. The mere mention of a human role (vs., presumably, a divine plan) was enough to bestir the guardians of scientific inquiry at Conservatives4Palin, who averred that Romney is “simpatico” with Obama and that he “totally bought into the man-made global warming hoax.”


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Palin Emails

Yes, Anthony Weiner's name does show up in the Palin emails, but only as part of a long list of recipients in an email that she forwarded.

As Andy Barr says at Politico, the Palin emails show that she was aware of vice presidential speculation well in advance of McCain's decision to choose her. (Of course, certain pundits had mentioned her as a possibility months before, indeed as early as October 2007).

Molly Ball writes at Politico:

Once, there was a different Sarah Palin.

She was hands-on and averse to partisan politics. She championed openness in government and had normal relations with the media. She was a little starstruck by her interactions with national politicians but unafraid to do battle with the chief executives of the world’s largest oil companies.

The emails from her governorship, released Friday, brought back the memory of a long-lost Palin: the popular, charismatic, competent woman of the people.

This was the vice presidential candidate John McCain’s team thought they were getting, before her darker tendencies — defensiveness, thin skin, grudge-keeping — hardened into tics. Together with the newly released, pro-Palin documentary “The Undefeated,” which focuses on her rise to the spotlight, the emails are reminders of a sympathetic figure who was not yet the brittle, divisive caricature Palin has become.

The Palin that emerges from the first cut at nearly 25,000 emails released by the state of Alaska Friday is touchingly authentic, responding to the news she’s been tapped for the national ticket with the words, “Can you flippinbelieveit?!”