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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Clinton: Religious Beliefs "Have to be Changed"

Kirsten Powers writes at USA Today:
This darn world just won't stop clinging to religion.
But Hillary Clinton is on the case. At last week's Women in the World Summit, Clinton explained to her high-end Manhattan audience that "deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed" regarding "reproductive health care."
She was talking about both the United States and unnamed "far-away countries."
If Clinton is going to complain about cultural codes, perhaps she should dispense with the "reproductive health care" euphemism and just say "abortion" and "contraception." Then she should explain why she thinks she, or anyone else, has the right to dictate what religious people believe about either issue.
We know she wants to be president — but does she think she is God, too?
Like President Obama — who famously opined that Americans "cling" to religion out of bitterness — Clinton seems to view religious doctrine in opposition to her political agenda as nothing more than "biases" or "codes" to be dismantled by those who know better. It's worth noting that many of the countries that ban or severely limit access to abortion are Muslim, so this was not an exclusively anti-Christian broadside.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

House Dems Look at 2016

Lauren French writes at Politico:
House Democrats are crafting an election-year message that leaders hope will reverse years of seat loses and help lawmakers connect with independent voters.
At a four-hour session at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill, 16 House lawmakers on the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee strategized Tuesday as to how to improve their party’s chances of winning back the House.

“You can’t just stick a message in an oven, turn it up to 450 degrees and produce a message. It has to be driven by consensus and it has to be driven by empirical data,” Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said. “What runs through all of the polling and all of the intuition is that voters sense that the economy is changing and they want a political party that has solutions to ensure that they are ready for those changes.”

Connecticut Rep. Jim Himes, a moderate and member of the committee, said it was clear from Tuesday’s discussion that leadership is focused on competitive districts where Democrats can pick up seats.
“They started the meeting by holding up a list of the frontliners … that need to be defended,” said Himes, referring to vulnerable Democrats. “Their message was about keeping their seats. Also on that seat were vulnerable Republicans that have similar districts.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

O'Malley and Baltimore

Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley was heckled on a street corner in riot-scarred West Baltimore Tuesday, after he cut short a trip to Europe to return to the city he led as mayor for seven years.
O’Malley (D), who is preparing to launch a White House bid, waded into a crowd near the burned-out shell of a CVS pharmacy that was destroyed and looted Monday night. He was confronted by two men on motorcycles who shouted expletives and blamed the recent violence in the city on O’Malley’s tough-on-crime policies from 1999 to 2007.
“I just wanted to be present. There’s a lot of pain in our city right now, a lot of people feeling very sad,” O’Malley told reporters at the scene. “Look, we’ve got to come through this together. We’re a people who’ve seen worse days, and we’ll come through this day.”

In his travels to early nominating states, O’Malley has described Baltimore to Democratic audiences as a down-on-its-luck city that came to believe in its potential again while he was mayor. He has trumpeted progress made during his tenure, including a steep drop in violent crime, which is attributed in part to a zero-tolerance approach that led to a sharp increase in arrests.
The mayhem that broke out Monday following the funeral of Freddie Gray— who died after being injured in police custody — complicates that narrative. And the unrest has given critics of O’Malley’s aggressive policing strategy a fresh platform to blame him for some of the deep-seated mistrust between the city’s police and the poor communities, more than eight years after he left the mayor’s office.

Monday, April 27, 2015

HRC and Kazakhstan

Glenn Reynolds sums up at USA Today:
It was a bad week for Hillary Clinton. So bad, in fact, that The Washington Post declared she had "the worst week in Washington." From The New York Times, there were reports of shady uranium deals with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kazakhstan. From The Post, it was reporting on how the Clintons' foundation seems more like a personal piggy bank. And from Politico, it was a report that "Clinton struggles to contain media barrage on foreign cash." (If you haven't kept up, here's a bullet-point summary of the key bits). And the book that led to all these stories isn't even out yet.
The responses from Clintonworld have been unconvincing — my favorite was when their supporters denied that a meeting between Bill Clinton and shadowy Kazakh nuclear officials had taken place, only to have a The Times reporter produce photo evidence. But, hey, the Clintons have survived even more concrete evidence of scandal — remember Monica Lewinsky's semen-stained dress? — so why should this time be any different?
Breitbart reports:
New York Times reporter Jo Becker said that after Bill Clinton gave Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev a “propaganda coup,” businessman Frank Giustra got a large uranium concession in the country, and then gave large sums to the Clinton Foundation in an interview broadcast on Friday’s Fox News Channel special “The Tangled Clinton Web.”
Clinton Cash” author Peter Schweizer said that Clinton showed up in Kazakhstan, the same place businessman Frank Giustra was attempting to acquire uranium mines, and became “partners” with Bill Clinton in charity work, and has facilitated speaking engagements for the Clintons.
Becker said that Giustra and Clinton were “whisked to the presidential palace of President Nazarbayev in Kazakhstan, and it’s a fascinating story because everybody walked away from the table that night with something.”
She continued, “what President Nazarbayev got was this huge propaganda coup. Bill Clinton basically endorsed the progress that Kazakhstan had made in terms of their own democracy, which was sort of interesting given that President Nazarbayev was elected with 90+% of the vote in an election that was widely criticized as being rigged.” 
AFP reports:
Energy-rich Kazakhstan's incumbent strongman Nursultan Nazarbayev scored a crushing victory in Sunday's one-sided presidential ballot, taking 97.5 percent of the vote to win a fifth consecutive term, an exit poll showed.
The exit poll carried out by the Institute for Democracy, a research company based in the authoritarian state, also showed Nazarbayev's closest competitor Turgun Syzdykov as scoring 1.8 percent of the ballot and third candidate Abelgazy Kusainov taking 0.63 percent.
Kazakhstan's Central Election Commission (CEC) claimed a record voter turnout of 95.11 percent for the poll whose result was never in doubt.
The CEC is expected to present preliminary results on Monday.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Focus on the Fundamentals

Charles Cook wisely urges observers to focus on the fundamentals of the presidential race:
  • The political environment (especially the economy): "The candidate that presents a compelling, optimistic economic narrative that answers the question of "how are you going to help make MY life better" is the candidate who will win the debate."
  • The debates: "Elections are about contrasts. One of the most effective ways for candidates to distinguish themselves - for good and bad - is through debates."
  • The Super PACS: "Elections are about money. Raising money for a campaign with $2,700 checks and bundlers is so yesterday. I used to pore over FEC reports and count down the days until filing deadlines. No longer. Nowadays, the real action is with the SuperPACs."
  • The Marathon: "Elections are won by the best long-distance runner, not the best sprinter. Pay. No. Attention. To. Horse. Race. Polls. They are stupid and meaningless at this point. Pay more attention to each candidate's core vulnerability."
At the end of the day, when you put all the assets and liabilities on the table, it's hard to see anyone but Rubio, Bush or Walker as the ultimate nominee. Sure, one of them could stumble or come up short in a key early state. It's also highly likely that someone like Huckabee, Paul, Cruz and even Perry could win in Iowa. But, when you look at the candidate vulnerabilities instead of just their assets, these are the three who are the most likely to win over the largest share of the GOP electorate. Winning the "Evangelical" or the "Establishment" or the "Tea Party" lane isn't how you win the nomination. Cobbling together the broadest coalition is the key.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


American voters say 54 - 38 percent that Clinton is not honest and trustworthy, a lower score than top Republicans. Voters say 62 - 34 percent that she has strong leadership qualities, besting Republican men by margins of 10 percentage points or higher.

Voters are divided 47 - 47 percent on whether she cares about their needs and problems. Paul cares, voters say 43 - 35 percent, the best score on this point among Republicans.

Voters approve 50 - 45 percent of the job Clinton did as Secretary of State. They support 53 - 43 percent a Congressional investigation into her e-mail use, but say 51 - 44 percent that such an investigation would be politically motivated rather than justified.

American voters give Clinton a split 46 - 47 percent favorability rating. Rubio's favorability score is 35 - 25 percent. Other Republicans get negative or divided scores:

Friday, April 24, 2015

Rubio Had a Good Week

Russ Choma reports at Open Secrets:
The nascent presidential campaign of Sen. Marco Rubio has its hurdles — not the least of which is trying to emerge from the shadow of a more senior fellow Floridian and White House hopeful. But the latest Federal Election Commission filings show that some big donors seem to want him in the game. Last week, the report of the Rubio Victory Fund, a committee that raises money for both his Senate campaign committee and his leadership PAC, showcased donations from Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, who combined to be the biggest campaign donors of the 2012 cycle. And numerous other donors with serious credibility in the fundraising world have chipped into Rubio’s nonpresidential efforts. While those who contribute to a candidate’s existing committees won’t necessarily shell out for a presidential effort, the most recent Rubio Victory Fund filings are a warning to anyone still underestimating the senator’s appeal to big dollar donors.
The biggest name was Adelson — who, according to a new report, indeed may be close to a decision to throw, at a minimum, tens of millions behind Rubio’s White House bid. In 2012, he and his wife, Miriam, donated more than $92 million to conservative super PACs, making them the largest donors in a single cycle in history. Last fall, Adelson’s daughter, Shelly Adelson, and son-in-law Patrick Dumont both donated to Rubio’s leadership PAC. On Jan. 19, just days before Rubio first signaled he would likely run for president, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson each contributed $10,200 to the Rubio Victory Fund.
Quinnipiac reports:
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida wins the support of 15 percent of Republican primary voters and runs best against Democrat Hillary Clinton, according to a Quinnipiac University National poll released today.

The former secretary of state tops the Democratic field with 60 percent and leads top Republican contenders, except Sen. Rubio, in head-to-head matchups, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds.

The Republican primary field shows Rubio with 15 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush with 13 percent and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker with 11 percent. No other candidate tops 9 percent and 14 percent remain undecided.

Bush tops the "no way" list as 17 percent of Republican voters say they would definitely not support him. New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie is next with 16 percent who give him a definite thumbs down, with 10 percent for U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.


"The youngest member of the GOP presidential posse moves to the front of the pack to challenge Hillary Clinton whose position in her own party appears rock solid," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

"This is the kind of survey that shoots adrenalin into a campaign. Marco Rubio gets strong enough numbers and favorability ratings to look like a legit threat to Hillary Clinton."
Dana Blanton reports at Fox:
The Bush dynasty is a negative for voters and Marco Rubio is seen as a leader of the future, as the Florida senator jumps to the head of the GOP pack. The Clinton dynasty is a plus -- and even though Hillary could have an honesty problem, she dominates the Democratic side. And both the Republican faithful (with their crowded field) and the Democratic faithful (with their sole favorite) are happy with their range of 2016 choices.

These are some of the findings from the latest Fox News poll on the 2016 presidential election. Here are some more:
Announcing your candidacy helps your poll numbers. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio receives a five percentage-point bump after his April 13 announcement and has the backing of 13 percent in the race for the Republican nomination -- just a touch over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who gets 12 percent among self-identified GOP primary voters. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul comes in at 10 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee earn 9 percent each and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz gets 8 percent.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Clinton Money issues

At New York Magazine, Jonathan Chait nicely summarizes some fresh mud puddles in the Clinton money trail:
The news today about the Clintons all fleshes out, in one way or another, their lack of interest in policing serious conflict-of-interest problems that arise in their overlapping roles:
  • The New York Times has a report about the State Department’s decision to approve the sale of Uranium mines to a Russian company that donated $2.35 million to the Clinton Global Initiative, and that a Russian investment bank promoting the deal paid Bill $500,000 for a speech in Moscow.
  • The Washington Post reports that Bill Clinton has received $26 million in speaking fees from entities that also donated to the Clinton Global Initiative.
  • The Washington Examiner reports, “Twenty-two of the 37 corporations nominated for a prestigious State Department award — and six of the eight ultimate winners — while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State were also donors to the Clinton family foundation.”
  • And Reuters reports, “Hillary Clinton's family's charities are refiling at least five annual tax returns after a Reuters review found errors in how they reported donations from governments, and said they may audit other Clinton Foundation returns in case of other errors.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Applied Conservatism and the Conservative Reform Network

At The Weekly Standard, Fred Barnes writes of the GOP politics of ideas, focusing on the Conservative Reform Network (formerly the Young Guns Network):
GOP presidential candidates were among the first to notice. Florida senator Marco Rubio, who announced for president last week, met several times with a group of conservative intellectuals last year. Now his agenda, notably on taxes, echoes their ideas. So does his new book, American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone.
When Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, came to Washington in February, he made a point of huddling with five policy experts associated with the Conservative Reform Network. One of them, CRN policy director April Ponnuru, wound up being hired. She will soon join the Bush campaign as an adviser.
CRN, which brings together reform-minded Republicans and think tank scholars, is a leader in the conservative idea business. It has spurred a fresh flow of proposals, policies, talking points, and new ways of thinking, mostly based on a concept called “applied conservatism.”
Democrats have nothing to match this GOP idea machine. Their allegiance to identity politics and obeisance to liberal interest groups has led to a commitment to policies from the New Deal and Great Society. Their newest idea is increasing Social Security benefits, itself an old idea. Liberals are “intellectually defunct,” says John Murray, an adviser to former House majority leader Eric Cantor and now CRN chairman.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

"A Perfect Bridge Partner"

At National Journal, Tim Alberta and Shane Goldmacher note that Mike Murphy is working for Bush's super PAC, not his campaign.
That Bush's team would believe it's in his best interest to send away a top strategist is an emphatic indication that the era of super PAC supremacy has arrived. Viewed at the outset of the 2012 presidential cycle as illegitimate if not downright unethical—so much so that President Obama initially forbade his lieutenants from forming one on his behalf—super PACs emerged by Election Day 2012 as the most devastating force in modern presidential politics. Their ability to raise bottomless money, and the deployment of those funds toward destroying rival candidates, instantly altered the political landscape, and in the 2016 campaign's nascent stages, their reach has dwarfed that of official campaigns.

When presidential contenders Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio officially jumped into the presidential race in recent weeks, each was accompanied by at least one supportive super PAC. Allies of Cruz operating a constellation of super PACs have bragged about pulling in $31 million in a single week—nearly eight times the haul Cruz's official campaign team had been boasting about. Others, like Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Perry, are officially still mulling whether to run, yet there are already supportive super PAC operations up and running.
"They have so radically changed the game that serious candidates for president cannot, will not be able to compete without a very substantial super PAC or set of super PACs," says Gregg Phillips, who was a 2012 strategist for the pro–Newt Gingrich group Winning Our Future. "If you're a candidate, you have to raise money in $2,700 increments. If you're a super PAC, you can raise money in million-dollar chunks."
The PACs' newfound prominence, and their accompanying restrictions on communication, makes decisions about whom candidates tap to run his or her super PAC all the more complicated: It must be someone they trust, and someone who knows them well enough to channel their gut political instincts on matters of strategy and messaging, but not someone on whom the candidate depends for day-in, day-out counsel. (Those who are out of office, like Bush, are taking advantage of loose rules and enforcement to work in tandem with their super PACs during their pre-candidacy phase.)

Candidates are looking for the political equivalent of a perfect bridge partner, someone with whom they can continually cooperate without ever being able to coordinate—or ever ask for advice. The imperative for a candidate is to choose "someone you love but can live without," says Stuart Roy, who in 2012 advised the pro–Rick Santorum super PAC the Red White and Blue Fund. "It ranks right there with the top personnel decisions that a campaign makes for an entire cycle."

Monday, April 20, 2015

Why Huck Matters

Nate Cohn writes that Huckabee is a force because he appeals to the large GOP evangelical faction, which is dominant in Iowa and much of the South.
In 2008 and 2012, the above-average number of evangelical voters in the Iowa caucuses allowed culturally conservative candidates like Mr. Huckabee and Rick Santorum to win. In 2008, Mr. Huckabee won 46 percent of evangelical voters, and early polls suggest he has substantial support again. He has received little news media coverage, but his share of the vote has been good for second place in an average of recent Iowa polls,including the lead in an NBC/Marist poll conducted in early February
A conservative candidate who hopes to win Iowa, like Mr. Cruz or Scott Walker, needs a substantial chunk of the evangelical vote. If Mr. Huckabee enters the race, he could pose a big roadblock to both. Even if he doesn’t win, he will make it easier for a relatively secular conservative candidate to win than has been the case in recent contests. And if Mr. Huckabee does win — as he very plausibly could over a strong, divided field — he will deny a more viable conservative candidate the easiest opportunity to consolidate the conservative opposition to Jeb Bush, or whoever wins New Hampshire.
It is unlikely that Mr. Huckabee could ever appeal to the relatively secular half of the Republican Party. He has adopted an increasingly strident tone on cultural issues and is strongly opposed by many fiscal conservatives, who have criticized him for raising taxes, increasing spending and opposing school vouchers as governor of Arkansas. The Club for Growthvowed to fight his candidacy.
In the terms of our taxonomy of Republican candidates from a couple of weeks ago, Mr. Huckabee is a classic factional candidate: someone whom the rest of the party would almost certainly rally to defeat if he seemed within striking distance of the nomination, but whose strength among a large faction of the party allows him to play a crucial, even possibly decisive, role in the race.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Hillary, Liberal Again

Lisa Lerer reports at RealClearPolitics:
As a presidential candidate in 2008, she opposed gay marriage, equivocated on granting driver’s licenses to people who were living in the U.S. illegally and endured heavy criticism from rival Barack Obama over her stance on campaign finance.

During the opening week of her second presidential campaign, Clinton showed she had retooled her positions to line up with the views of progressive Democrats. On Monday, she called for a constitutional amendment that would limit “unaccountable money” in politics. Days later, she said through her campaign that she supports same-sex marriage being recognized as a constitutional right in a pending Supreme Court case. After that, her campaign said she now supports state policies awarding licenses to people in the country illegally.
Such do-overs are part of an effort by Clinton to rectify past missteps and assure the liberal wing of her party that in 2016, she will be change they’ve been waiting for.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Cruz Money

Russ Choma and Paul Lewis report at Open Secrets:
Ted Cruz is raising money for his presidential campaign at a significantly faster rate than Mitt Romney did four years ago, eclipsing the early total raised by the former Massachusetts governor who went on to win the Republican nomination in 2012.
The conservative Texas senator, who is seeking to unite the Republicans’ tea party wing behind his White House run, raised $4.3 million during the final days of March – his first full week after declaring as a candidate for president.
Cruz proved particularly popular with small donors, raising more in his first week from contributors giving $200 or less than Romney did in the first eleven weeks of his campaign.
Despite his apparently impressive fundraising totals, Cruz’ reported fundraising skews to a local base of support, and suggests his campaign is not yet a broad, national effort.
Of the $2.2m from large donors, a full two-thirds came from individuals in Cruz’s home state of Texas. Just $62,000 came from donors in New York City, where many GOP candidates have historically had success tapping the deep pockets of Wall Street executives and hedge fund managers.
Even within Texas, the donations are relatively tightly focused, with more than half-a million dollars originating in Houston, where Cruz lived and worked before coming to Washington as a senator in 2012.
But Cruz did attract some mega-donors who are considered giant figures in conservative fundraising circles since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which allowed unlimited donations to super PACs.
They include Robert McNair, the owner of the NFL’s Houston Texans franchise, who, along with several members of his family, made the maximum donation to Cruz’s primary campaign. In each of the last two election cycles, McNair has given more than $3m to conservative super PACs, including $2m to the super PAC that backed Mitt Romney.
Another name lit in neon in the Republican fundraising world that showed up with a maximum donation for Cruz is John W. Childs, a billionaire private equity investor. He has given millions to conservative super PACs, including $700,000 to Freedom Partners Action Fund, which is linked to the star billionaire Koch brother donors.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Republicans and Party Identification

Charles Cook writes at National Journal:
Focusing exclusively on the initial party identification offered by survey respondents, Republicans are in decline, with Democrats holding relatively steady and independents growing fast. That would not be good news for the GOP, although it does suggest increased volatility. Or, if you focus more on the leaned party identification, the situation is very steady, but it still does not bode well for Republicans in 2016. Leaned party identification is a reliable indicator of how people will vote, at least in a large-turnout presidential election (not so much in midterm years, when the electorate is significantly older, whiter, and more Republican.)
All of this suggests that the widely discussed concerns about the shape of the GOP brand are well founded. "Looking at the national numbers," says Fred Yang, the Democratic half of the NBC News / Wall Street Journal polling duo, "you sure wouldn't know that Republicans just won a big election."

Thursday, April 16, 2015 as a Political Research Tool

Andrew Kaczynski reports at Buzzfeed:
Speaking in Iowa Wednesday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that all her grandparents had immigrated to the United States, a story that conflicts with public census and other records related to her maternal and paternal grandparents.
The story of her grandmother specifically immigrating is one Clinton has told before. Clinton’s sole foreign-born grandparent, Hugh Rodham Sr., immigrated as a child.
“Her grandparents always spoke about the immigrant experience and, as a result she has always thought of them as immigrants,” a Clinton spokesman told BuzzFeed News. “As has been correctly pointed out, while her grandfather was an immigrant, it appears that Hillary’s grandmother was born shortly after her parents and siblings arrived in the U.S. in the early 1880s.”
An article in the Irish-America by an ancestry researcher sent to BuzzFeed News by the Clinton campaign also noted Hannah Jones was born in Scranton.

All of the Clinton’s grandparents were born in the United States, “with the exception of Hugh,” Megan Smolenyak, the article’s researcher said. Smolenyak noted seven of Clinton’s eight great-grandparents were immigrants
Donnie Radcliffe, the Washington Post reporter who chronicled first ladies and wrote a biography of Hillary Clinton tells a similar ancestry, tracing only Hugh Rodham Sr. as foreign-born

 A much cleaner 1920 census form also lists her place of birth as Pennsylvania (Clinton's father, Hugh, is also listed).

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Rubio, Reform Conservatism, and Taxes

Marco Rubio, who announced his candidacy this week, is part of the "reformicon" movement. James Pethokoukis writes at The Week about his tax plans:
As I wrote in a previous The Week article, the Rubio plan has some great elements, including middle-class tax relief and sweeping corporate tax reform. There is also merit in lowering the top tax rate somewhat to signal that conservatives will not accept its continual ascent to pre-Reagan levels. And while Rubio's plan loses too much money, and taking investment tax rates all the way to zero would seem a political bridge too far, these are fixable issues, and something like the Rubio plan might pass some future Congress.
Critically, the Rubio proposal recognizes that while the U.S. needs faster economic growth, acceleration alone might not help many middle-class families in an economy buffeted by automation of middle-skill jobs and globalization. In short, it's an attempted response to real-world problems and conditions, not ideological litmus tests. His competitors might want to try the same strategy and reject the economic nostalgia and wishful thinking that's infected much of today's GOP policy debate.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hillary ... Little Things

Sean Trende writes at RealClearPolitics:
When I was a young law firm associate, one of the most difficult lessons I had to learn was the importance of overwhelmingly careful attention to detail. If, as a law student, you have a typo in a paper, or even an error of fact, your grade is unlikely to change dramatically. In the real world, it is a different story. A typo in a brief can ruin your credibility with partners, and erode it with the court. It isn’t that the errors are damning in themselves. It is the concern they raise about a possible lack of care in other, more relevant ways that aren’t as obvious. Did the lawyer run down all of the precedents? Did he miss a nuance in the precedents? Were quotes copied carefully?
This brings me to the Hillary Clinton campaign rollout yesterday. The video was delayed, and ended up being pre-empted by an e-mail from her campaign manager. The press release had a typo, claiming that she had “fought children and families” her whole career. Her TweetDeck photo was positioned such that the checkmark covered her eye. Whatever you might think about the logo, it wasn’t as powerful as Obama’s. It may well be that the lines on an “H” are never going to produce an image as visually pleasing as an “O,” but even taking that into account, the little things were off (the arrow pointing rightward, for example).
If Hillary loses, it won’t be because of a typo in her campaign announcement. There were also good things about the rollout: The actual video was solid. But like her famous email press conference, the risk is that the mistakes are indicative of a deeper problem. These little things are minor, until it emerges that a higher-up in the campaign doesn’t know that the delegates in the nomination battle are awarded proportionally. Then, suddenly, there is a problem. If the race is close, the little things really can make a difference.
Jeryl Bier writes at The Weekly Standard:
The brand new 2016 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton will embrace "small donors in early fundraising," according to a Monday Politico story. The second-time presidential candidate wants to "make even small-dollar donors feel like they are part of the inner circle." Based on the campaign's website, however, expectations for those "small-dollar donors" who speak Spanish are considerably lower than those for their English-speaking counterparts.

The main donation page for the site includes preset amount buttons for $5, $25, $50, $100, $500, $1,000 and the maximum for the primary election cycle, $2,700. However, the preset amounts for the Spanish language version of the donation page are significantly less: $3, $5, $10, $25, $50, $100 and $250. Both pages includes an "other" button where donors can fill in a different amount. Here are screenshots of the two different versions of the donation page:

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Clinton Typo

The Boston Globe reports:
Due to an error in her years-in-the-making presidential announcement, Hillary Clinton’s campaign said Sunday that she has “fought children and families all her career.”
What the campaign meant to say of course is that she’s fought for children and families.
Clinton’s campaign quickly corrected the statement on its website and confirmed to that the former secretary of state has not been secretly fighting children all these years.
Here’s the excerpt from the original release:

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Loretta Sanchez Questions Kamala Harris's Qualifications

At the Sacramento Bee, Christopher Cadelago reports:
Venturing far outside her Orange County district, Rep. Loretta Sanchez gave a passionate, campaign-style talk here Friday evening, offering the strongest indication yet that she intends to enter the sleepy contest to replace U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer.
Promising a decision within two weeks, Sanchez took aim at fellow Democrat Kamala Harris, the early front-runner in the Senate race. She criticized the state attorney general for her lack of federal experience and contrasted it with Sanchez’s own two decades in Congress.
R“I believe we have experience that Kamala does not have,” Sanchez said of Harris, a former district attorney of San Francisco.
“Look, in a very dangerous world, and a very scary world that we’re in, I've got 19 years of sitting on Armed Services and Homeland Security” committees, Sanchez continued. “In the Senate, (you) need somebody who already understands what’s going on. I don't have any ramp-up. You know, I mean we can't afford somebody who’s never — who doesn't understand what’s going on in the world.”

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Morocco Money

Kenneth P. Vogel and Josh Gerstein report at Politico:
The Clinton Foundation is accepting a major donation from a Moroccan government-owned company to hold a high-profile conference next month in Marrakech with the king of Morocco — an event likely to reignite concerns about the foundation’s acceptance of foreign money just as Hillary Clinton prepares to announce her presidential candidacy.
Clinton had been scheduled to appear at the meeting in Marrakech, dubbed the Clinton Global Initiative Middle East and Africa Meeting, on May 5-7. But an official with the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation told POLITICO it’s “unlikely” the former secretary of state will join her husband, Bill. He is still expected at the event, as is Moroccan King Mohammed VI.
The event is being funded largely by a contribution of at least $1 million from OCP, a phosphate exporter owned by Morocco’s constitutional monarchy, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the event.
When Hillary Clinton announced the Marrakech meeting in September, she praised Morocco as “a vital hub for economic and cultural exchange” in a region “in the midst of dramatic changes.”

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Rand Paul Glitches

Andrew Kaczynski reports at Buzzfeed about photos (later removed) on the Rand Paul site:
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul launched his presidential campaign Tuesday complete with a page to endorse the new presidential candidate.
The endorsements are then presented on a map of the United States.
The people on the endorsement map, however, appear to be stock images from a Italian photographer Andrea Piacquadio who goes by the name Olly or Ollyy on stock image sites,and according to his Shutterstock page, is based in Germany.
In his announcement, Paul said:
I believe in applying Reagan’s approach to foreign policy to the Iran issue. Successful negotiations with untrustworthy adversaries are only achieved from a position of strength.
In the Iran-Contra affair -- which even the most ardent Reagan supporters concede was a massive botch -- the United States sold arms to Iran and diverted the profits to Nicaraguan rebels.  The president sent National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane to Tehran in 1986.  The deal had many strange aspects, including this one, as a congressional report recounted:
 Hopeful of success, [Lt. Col. Oliver] North arranged logistical support for the return of the hostages and prepared a press kit for the White House.3 North added his own flourish: He ordered a chocolate cake from an Israeli baker as a gift for the Iranians

Monday, April 6, 2015

Jeb, the Hispanic

Alan Rappeport reports at The New York Times:
There is little doubt that Jeb Bush possesses strong credentials for appealing to Hispanic voters.
He speaks fluent Spanish. His wife, Columba Bush, was born in Mexico. For two years in his 20s, he lived in Venezuela, immersing himself in the country’s culture.
Mr. Bush, a former Florida governor and likely presidential candidate, was born in Texas and hails from one of America’s most prominent political dynasties. But on at least one occasion, it appears he got carried away with his appeal to Spanish-speaking voters and claimed he actually was Hispanic.
In a 2009 voter-registration application, obtained from the Miami-Dade County Elections Department, Mr. Bush marked Hispanic in the field labeled “race/ethnicity.”
A Bush spokeswoman could offer no explanation for the characterization. However, Mr. Bush took to Twitter late on Monday morning to call the situation a mistake.

My mistake! Don’t think I’ve fooled anyone! RT LOL - come on dad, think you checked the wrong box

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Munger Money

Michael Finnegan and Maloy Moore report at The Los Angeles Times:
A month after Charles Munger Jr. wrote his first $100,000 check to a political campaign, he got a taste of the chronic rejection familiar to California's big Republican donors: The 2005 ballot measure he backed lost by a landslide.
Yet Munger, the son of a billionaire, went on to spend almost $78 million on scores of other campaigns.
The spending by the Palo Alto physicist has thrust him into an unlikely role for a man whose occupation is to research the fine points of protons and electrons: He is a central force in the Republican Party's attempted comeback from its two-decade slide in California.
"If it weren't for Charles Munger, the California Republican Party would have been driven into the sea at this point," said Kevin Spillane, a GOP strategist.Charles Munger Jr., campaign spendingA courtly academic who fancies bow ties and suspenders,
Munger, 58, spent more than $11 million last year to help put Republicans in Congress and the Legislature, making him by far the state party's biggest benefactor. His funding of Latino, female and moderate candidates has been crucial to the party's effort to shed its image as a league of conservative white men.
Munger's spending on ballot measures illuminates other priorities. He has tried to block tax hikes, diminish the power of labor unions and stop lawmakers from drafting election maps to their liking.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Trenton, We Have a Problem

A new Pew poll shows a big problem for Christie: 39 percent of Republicans say that there is no chance that they would support him.  By contrast...
Walker and Carson, in particular, are relatively unfamiliar potential candidates in the GOP race, but they fare well among the subset of Republican voters who have heard of them.
Just 57% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters have heard of Wisconsin Gov. Walker, yet 23% say there is a good chance they would vote for him and just 7% say there is no chance. And Carson has name recognition only among 48% of GOP voters, but 21% say there is a good chance he would get their vote while just 5% say there is no chance of this.

No Clear Leader in the GOP Field

Friday, April 3, 2015

Conservative, Highly Religious Republicans

At Gallup, Frank Newport offers some data that are broadly consistent with Henry Olsen's analysis of GOP factions:
The Republican Party in general has a disproportionate percentage of conservative and highly religious Americans in its ranks, so Cruz's strategy would appear to make numerical sense -- as it would for other conservative politicians, like Mike Huckabee or Scott Walker, who may aim for the same target audience. On the other hand, potential candidates like Jeb Bush or Chris Christie would play more to Republican voters who are in the moderate and perhaps less religious space of their party. All of which raises the question: Exactly how big are these various segments of the Republican Party?
We can provide estimates by looking at the cross between ideology and religiosity among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, based on interviews conducted with 17,845 Republicans as part of Gallup Daily tracking so far this year.

These data make it clear how much Republicans in general skew both religious and conservative. Overall, 50% of Republicans are highly religious, above the national average of 40%, and 61% are conservative -- again, way above the national average of 35%. But not all highly religious Republicans are conservative and vice versa. In fact, the data show that a little more than one-third of Republicans can be classified as both conservative and highly religious. Thus, the pure segment of Republicans who meet both conservative and highly religious criteria is not the majority. Cruz would argue that his goal is to maximize the turnout of this group. And it's reasonable that in some primary and caucus states, the base of conservative and highly religious Republicans could outperform their representation in the overall GOP population. Still, highly religious conservatives constitute a minority of the Republican Party.
Also note that not all highly religious conservatives are part of the Christian Right.  One can be highly religious and still put economic issues ahead of social ones.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Vendors and Non-Coordination Coordination

Russ Choma writes at Open Secrets: has analyzed the 2014 data and found 92 instances in which a candidate’s campaign and a single-candidate super PAC hired a common vendor. Some of the expenditures were small; others involved payments to the same airline or another unexceptional vendor. At the other end of the spectrum was spending in the hundreds of thousands of dollars by both campaign and super PAC on political consultants, pollsters, ad-buyers or lawyers.
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So how is it possible that a campaign and a super PAC — which legally can’t coordinate their spending — can both hire the same people to work for them and not run afoul of the coordination rules? Clearly, the fact vendors are shared indicates common interests and perhaps common strategies, even if there’s no official consultation between the campaign and super PAC. And in some cases the line may be crossed.
But there are scenarios where it is permissible for the two sides to share vendors, and those likely account for a number of the instances found in the analysis.
For starters, the rules prohibit sharing a vendor only for certain types of work — preparing ads, selecting audiences for the ads, media-buying, polling, voter identification and fundraising.
In addition, timing matters. If there’s a four-month gap between a vendor’s work for a campaign and for its supporting super PAC — a cooling-off period of sorts — there’s not a problem, according to the FEC. There are plenty of examples of vendors working for both, but not at the same time. For instance, the campaign of then-Sen.Mark Begich (D-Alaska) spent $403,000 on polling research from Lake Research; and Put Alaska First super PAC, which did nothing but support Begich, hired the firm as well, paying it $18,350. But, according Lake Research, the firm did work for the super PAC after the election was over, a fact that FEC records seem to bear out.
Still, many of the common vendors identified in the analysis appear to have done work — a great deal of it — for both sides at the same time. In those cases, the standard way for vendors to try to avoid trouble with regulators is by establishing what’s known as a firewall — an internal barrier prohibiting discussions between employees working for one client and those working for the other.