Stephen Gordon's blog

The RNC's Donkey In My E-mail

The polls will be opening in 33 or so hours from the time of this posting, depending upon where you live. This makes it an optimal time for the Republican National Committee to send out an electronic GOTV fundraising message -- which they just did. The e-mail, signed by former governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, begins this way (emphasis added):

When you wake up on November 3rd, will you be able to say that you did everything you could to stop the Obama Democrats' leftist agenda and return American government to the American people?

Mike Huckabee is calling out the "leftist agenda" of the left? Let's take a look at Huckabee's agenda over the years:

Perhaps Pat Toomey says it best:

He’s every bit as bad, and you don’t have to just take our word for it. Jonah Goldberg, you and your fellow editors at National Review, Bob Novak, and John Fund — to name just a few conservative writers — agree that Mike Huckabee is no conservative. You can read the Club’s white paper on our website, but here is a quick summary of Huckabee’s worst hits. According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the average Arkansas tax burden increased 47% over Huckabee’s tenure. Huckabee supported (in chronological order) a sales tax hike; gas and diesel fuel tax hikes; another sales tax hike; a cigarette tax hike; a nursing home bed tax; another sales tax hike; an income surcharge tax; a tobacco tax hike; taxes on Internet access; and higher beer taxes. Huckabee also oversaw a 50-percent increase in spending; happily signed a minimum wage increase and encouraged national Republicans to do the same; favors a national smoking ban, farm subsidies, and a federally mandated arts and music curriculum; opposes private school choice; and employs class-warfare and protectionist language on the campaign trail. Huckabee calls himself an economic conservative in the mold of Ronald Reagan, but the above list doesn’t sound like either.

Huckabee's agenda seems fairly leftist, reminding me of the following German idiom: Ein Esel schimpft den anderen Langohr. Appropriately, this roughly translates as follows: One donkey insults another by calling him Longears.

I've noted in the past that the GOP needs libertarians more than libertarians need the GOP. To some degree, they've listened and libertarians have now been welcomed back to the table -- and we are even allowed to use the front door from time to time.

Even larger than the libertarian movement is the Tea Party movement, which is powerful enough to make or break the GOP.  Comprised of roughly the same percentages of conservatives and libertarians, the Tea Party movement is nearly 100 percent fiscally conservative.

As a libertarian and a Tea Party activist, I feel like the payment I've received for my hard work over the last two years has been a slap in the face by Michael Steele.

The Republican Party is poised to enjoy considerable electoral gains Tuesday night. In choosing their GOTV poster child, the RNC could have picked someone liked by the people who are going to sweep the Republican Party back into power. Chris Christie and Jim DeMint serve as great examples of elected officials with high positives throughout the movement.

By choosing Mike Huckabee as tonight's electronic spokesman, the Republican National Committee has reaffirmed their commitment to their power-over-politics big-government principles.

Ohio Democratic chairman hurls "f-bomb" at Tea Partiers


Ohio state Democratic Party Chair Chris Redfern seems to love ObamaCare and hate Tea Party activists., which also captured the event on video, describes the scene as follows:

As the United Steelworkers union was announcing its endorsement for a number of Ohio Democrats, including Gov. Ted Strickland, Chris Redfern used a variation of the F-word to describe opponents to his party's agenda.

A NEWS9 reporting crew was invited into the union hall in Clarington for the endorsement announcement, and the camera was rolling as Redfern leveled the expletive at critics in the Tea Party, who, in his words, believe health care is a privilege, not a right.

"If your kids are going to graduate from college, now he or she gets health care, your heath care, while he or she looks for a new job," Redfern ranted. "It's in the very base terms we win these arguments. Every time one of these [f***ers] says, excuse my language. . ."

Here's the unedited video clip.

One wonders if the other 49 Democratic state chairs feel the same way.

Is the GOP trying to snatch defeat from of the jaws of victory?

The combination of certain factors have created a near "perfect storm" to create a GOP majority in the House of Representatives this November: Democratic overreach, the Tea Party movement, the failing economy and a strong populist anti-incumbent fever.

Now it seems that the GOP plans to "unveil their new 'Contract with America'" which is modeled to some degree after the quickly forgotten document which helped bring Republicans to majority status in 1994.

To be sure, some suggested elements of the "America Speaking Out" program to be released Thursday seem quite likely to inspire Tea Party activitists while winning a sizable chunk of the independent vote. The Hill reports:

GOP leaders have already hinted at some of the ideas that could be included. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), for instance, has called for a two-year freeze in tax rates and a reduction in spending to 2008 levels. President Obama and Democratic leaders want to extend most tax cuts, but would raise taxes on families with incomes above $250,000 annually and individuals who earn more than $200,000 a year. Republicans have also pressed for repeal of the healthcare reform law, and for replacing it with new reforms. Some GOP figures have also called for repealing Wall Street reform.

Politico adds to the mix:

If a member questioned whether the House had constitutional authority to pass a bill, that challenge would receive debate and a vote.

The second major initiative would encourage — though not require — members of Congress to read bills before they vote. According to a senior House GOP source, Republicans plan to push for a new rule that would require the House to publish the text of a bill online at least three days before the House votes on it, also giving the public an opportunity to review legislation.

Now here comes the part about how the GOP plans to blow it. "Social conservatives have said they're confident their views will be well-represented in the document," reads today's article from The Hill.

John Boehner's attempt to override the will of Alabama's 5th Congressional District

As I've noted on two separate appearances on the Rachel Maddow Show, the Alabama Tea Party movement clearly hasn't been usurped by the Republican Party.  Right now, Tea Party activists in north Alabama are leading a bipartisan fight over House Minority Leader John Boehner's scheduled appearance in Huntsville to support recent party swapper Parker Griffith.

CPAC Straw Poll Results


Here are the presidential numbers: 

  • 22% Mitt Romney
  • 7% Sarah Palin
  • 31% Ron Paul
  • 6% Tim Pawlenty
  • 5% Mike Pence
  • 4% New Gingrich
  • 4% Mike Huckabee

Full results here

2,395 CPAC registrants voted.  50 states plus DC represented in the balloting. Only registrants can vote. 

48 percent of the respondents were students, 32 percent identified as individuals. 13 percent sponsors and cosponsors. 

CPAC Report: Les Phillip

Yesterday, Representative Mike Pence held an impromptu press conference at Blogger's Row.  I was busy on other issues at the time, so I wasn't paying attention until I heard my home state mentioned. 

With my ears perking up when I heard the word "Alabama," the first words which registered were that Alabama's governor supports Democrat-recently-turned-Republican Parker Griffith and that Republicans in DC support him, too.  The implication was that everyone else should do the same, too.

Les Phillip is one of the Republican candidates running against Griffith. He and another conservative, Mo Brooks, have been campaigning for that seat long before Griffith changed parties. 

Before he changed parties, Griffith spent a lot of time dodging Town Hall forums. 

Phillip is at CPAC and I ran into him this morning.  When I asked him about Rep. Pence's statement, he reminded me that Griffith was a Democrat before he was a Republican.  He reminded people to check Griffith's actual voting record.

"He was a liberal, then jumped to keep his seat," Phillip said. "I saw the same poll he did."

I've seen plenty of "Les Phillip" buttons here, but none for Parker Griffith.  It's not just in DC.  I know plenty of people in the district who support Brooks or Phillip. I know even more who are undecided but will vote for "either of the two conservatives." Finding people who live in the district who support Parker Griffith isn't happening all that often, though.


CPAC Report: Ron Paul


I've been too busy to blog much today, but as I hope to be covering the Ron Paul speech, it seems important to first provide a bit of relevant background.

Two years ago at CPAC, Ron Paul's presidential campaign didn't even have a booth.  After Mitt Romney dropped from the race, his staffers offered their booth to the Ron Paul supporters who had showed at the event.  

Two years later, various Ron Paul related organizations now occupy most of a full row of exhibit booths.  As opposed to 2008, there are now a lot of young, clean cut, polite, well-spoken supporters representing a variety of groups.  They are the ones most likely to ask passersby for contact information, inform people of upcoming events or manage to smile and get a piece of literature in someone's hand.  Their general part of the movement is the most organized group of people I've seen at CPAC, so far.

From what I've seen so far, they are an army of young liberty lovers hoping to politely persuade conservatives at CPAC to return to their conservative/libertarian values.  One sign of their professionalism this time around is that I've not heard the term "neocon" used even once.

Like any CPAC, I've seen plenty of spontaneous interviews which turn into press conferences. I just ran into the largest of these earlier today.  I had to move close enough to see who the current rock star was.  It was Paul.

Leading up to Paul, former Congressman Barr and former Governor Gilmore received (what, IMO) is an unprecedented level of applause (and one moment of jeers) when engaging in the semi-traditional debate over security versus liberty. A student speaker with Students for Liberty received some boos over support of GOProud, but a very loud level of applause over all.  A speaker a few minutes later spoke against GOProud, and I heard the loudest boos of the day.

It's impossible to cover this CPAC without covering the Ron Paul and libertarian angle.  They are clearly a force to be reckoned with this year and to cover CPAC and miss this part of this story is to miss some of the flavor of CPAC 2010.

In the early introductions for Ron Paul, there were some boos and then the crowd broke into cheering "End the Fed, End the Fed!"

An introductory "non-aggressionist foreign policy" line broke into a mix of boos and yeas.  The rest of the speaker's sentence was drowned out.

Strong applause from everyone on the Audit the Fed bill.

Paul received a prolonged standing ovation when he walked on stage.

"It sounds to me like the Revolution is alive and well," Paul began to another round of cheers.

"By the end of this year, I think America is going to be a lot better off.," Paul predicted, talking about issues ranging from Tea Party to recent Republican victories.

"We want balanced budgets, we want our liberties back," Paul explained.

Paul received overwhelming applause and a minor standing ovation when he stated that the true conservative position is to get out of the United Nations."

When Paul suggested that we should end the Federal Reserve system, the crowd broke into "End the Fed, End the Fed" again.

"Strong national defense, but not go to war so carelessly" received a fair amount of applause. Paul called for a full constitutional declaration of war next time.  While some people in the audience obviously disagreed, there were no boos.  They may have simply being tired of being over-shouted.

"Preach it, Ron," a member of the audience shouted as Paul defended Eugene Debs' right to protest a war.

There were mixed cheers and boos when Paul used the word "neoconservative."

Paul spent some time defending President Eisenhower's foreign policy.

"Our lives come from our Creator and our liberties come from our Creator," Paul said.

"You have liberty because you are an individual and that should be protected."

Starting wars because someone "might do something to us" received mixed cheers and jeers.

Paul spoke about individual liberties and chastised stimulus plans and bailouts.

He stated that the GOP used to win elections by saying that we aren't the policeman to the world.

Paul reminded the audience that he had more support from members of the military than any of the other candidates during the presidential campaign.

He also mentioned that the economic crash he predicted during the campaign happened and then took a jab at Fox News because suddenly they want him on the air frequently now.

"We have to allow freedom of expression.  That will bring us together," Paul said to another healthy level of applause.

They played We Will Rock You as Paul walked off stage. 

"Ron Paul 2012" were the last words I heard being yelled as I walked back to Blogger's Row.








CPAC Report #2: Mitt Romney


Big cheers for Scott Brown as he walked on stage to introduce Mitt Romney.

"I'm the newly elected Republican Senator from Massachusetts," opened Brown.

There was a lot of enthusiasm for Romney, but not nearly as much as for Brown.

Romney reported that the medal awarded to one of our Olympic heroes (Lindsey Vaughn?) was stripped because Obama is going downhill faster than she did.

Initial report from CPAC 2010: Marco Rubio


My first blog entry for CPAC 2008 (on a now-defunct website) was entitled “Conservative Roadkill.” Even before Mitt Romney and Ron Paul dropped their presidential aspirations during the event, it was apparent that John McCain would win the GOP nomination, leading to an eventual Democratic win. This year at CPAC, I’m at a totally different event. More people, more excitement, and more importantly: The younger people here actually understand and are excited about a conservative or libertarian message.

Another GOP establishment vs. Tea Party showdown

What happens when you pit a popular, well-funded Tea Party candidate in a open, contested statewide primary against the establishment GOP candidate? Writing for the American Spectator, Robert Stacy McCain takes a look at the Tim James gubernatorial campaign in Alabama as this re-emerging theme in post-2008 politics continues.

Before I continue, I'll disclose that Tim James is my guy in this race and that my firm is contracting with the campaign. However, as I've stated before, I'd be writing about this anyway, as this local-to-me race highlights the disconnect between the Tea Party/conservative movement and old-school Republican candidates.

Tim James was Tea Party before Tea Party was cool. Before the federal bailouts, before most Americans had heard of Barack Obama, before Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck became household names, James helped lead the 2003 effort to stop a tax increase proposed by Alabama's Republican Gov. Bob Riley.

The battle over Amendment One, as Riley's $1.3 billion tax measure was known, was a defining moment for the state's conservatives. James, who had challenged Riley in the 2002 Republican gubernatorial primary, sided with the anti-tax activists who organized an opposition campaign that became known as the "Alabama Tea Party."

Alabama voters rejected the proposal by more than a 2-to-1 margin in a September 2003 referendum and, if politics were logical, James would be the front-runner in this year's GOP gubernatorial contest. Instead, one recent poll showed that the early leader is Bradley Byrne who, as a state senator in 2003, voted for Riley's tax-hike plan.

So far so good, but (after the jump)...

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