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Posts Tagged ‘Virginia’

Candidate Clinton?

What an interesting week it has been in politics. First, last week’s stunning defeat of Virginia’s Eric Cantor, who lost to an unknown Tea Party candidate. Then the admission on the heels of the Romney summit in Utah that there is a division within the Republican Party and no clear Presidential candidate in sight for 2016. Today, I read rumblings that some are hoping Gov. Mitt Romney will give it another whirl. That would be interesting, especially if he decides not to be muffled by the extremists and to run on a platform similar to the one he employed in Massachusetts. It’s time for moderate Republicans to organize and he really is a moderate at heart, as evidenced by his leadership as Governor. Speak past the extremists if you do, Mitt!

Now, Hillary Clinton’s “Is She or Isn’t She?” interview on CNN. The interview was ostensibly about her book, “Hard Choices.”  I dialed in late so I don’t know if Christiane Amanpour disclosed at the outset that her husband, James Rubin, had worked on Clinton’s 2007 campaign. Amanpour was clearly a “friendly” as we say in the media but I will not slam CNN or Hillary for that given that this is one woman in politics who has had her share of harsh treatment. Interestingly, harsh was missing from the exchange. She was measured and circumspect.

I will say it was interesting that the speech bubble Amanpour held up with viewers’  impressions of Hillary had only positive messaging on it. The most visible word on there was “President.”

Highlights of the interview include her statements that she is going to move forward on immigration reform, that she would send young children back to the Latin American countries they have fled to enter the U.S. illegally (once a responsible party is identified), that the blame for not arming rebels in Syria lies with Obama, that she is going to let states decide on recreational marijuana but hasn’t smoked herself. She was her most forceful on the issue of background checks, saying polls show Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of them.

Even if she doesn’t run, her interview raised some interesting points about American attitudes towards female candidates. Of course, we should be as comfortable electing a woman as a man. And we should pay her the same as we would pay him. But when someone like Hillary Clinton is asked why she wants to run when she has a grandchild on the way, you seriously have to wonder whether people realize how inherently sexist our assumptions still are. Her answer that a lot of Grandfathers have run for public office was spot on.

I just got back from a week in Texas. I saw three Presidential libraries in a week. First, President Bill Clinton’s in Arkansas, then Lyndon Baines Johnson’s in Johnson City and finally George H.W. Bush’s at Texas A & M in College Station. I told friends my favorite thing about the trip was how each of these Presidents’ libraries allowed them to depict their legacies as they see fit. The truth is there is more room for that than ever. With partisan rancor at its worst, Americans are so unsure of what is news and what is spin, that they are turning away from politics altogether.  That is where the danger lies. Not only when it comes to an informed electorate but also for future generations.

I’m actually beginning to question whether our conventional methods of weaning out the differences between candidates, like press conferences, debates and :30 campaign spots have become obsolete. Maybe each candidate should be given weekly one-on-one, half-hour or hour long, interviews in which they are asked to focus on just one issue like education, the economy, foreign affairs or energy. Americans will at least get to choose without the constant interruptions or one liners that make for exciting television but do little to help Americans decide who is telling the truth, who has the temperament and experience to lead and who inspires them.

I would love to see Mitt Romney in a similar interview to tonight’s interview with Hillary. After all, many people believe, he was treated unfairly by the press at times, in part because he was wealthy and successful.

In the last week, I have had a bright young person tell me she no longer believes in party politics. I listened to an accountant who has voted for Democrats say he’ll vote for whoever can right the ship financially by reforming entitlements, military spending, underfunded pensions and reigning in the interest on our debts. I’ve had a green Republican admit alternative energy has to be part of the energy mix going forward because of EPA mandates to upgrade infrastructure as well as concerns about global warming and sustainability.  I read an article about how handwriting could be phased out after second grade under Common Core because “kids won’t need it.”  I signed a petition urging our Governor to veto a law that creates a 72 hour waiting period for abortion because I am outraged that the one legal provider in our state is under attack … again. (As I’ve said before, “agreeing to disagree” on social issues is fine but dialing back rights isn’t) I wondered who is going to pay for Medicaid expansion in this state, which I was originally opposed to, but am reconsidering, as hospitals lay off employees because of the unfair burden Obamacare has placed on them.

I write this a day after the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to consider whether vicious lies in the midst of political campaigns about a candidate’s criminal convictions and mental state fall under free speech or whether that should be criminal, as it currently is according to Ohio. A law like that, broadly applied, would be a game changing tipping point in politics as we know it.

 

 

 

Yes, Virginia, Moderates Matter!

This is a repeat headline. We first used it on this site in December, 2011 when Nate Silver, covering the Republican race for its party’s nomination, wrote, “Yes, Virginia, there are still moderate Republicans out there. Not as many as there used to be, but enough that they will constitute perhaps one-third of the Republican primary electorate.”  

It was a reference to 8 year old Virginia O’Hanlon’s letter to the editor of New York’s Sun newspaper asking if there is a Santa Claus. Virginia’s friends had been telling her there was no Santa Claus. Her father said, “If you see it in the Sun, it’s true, Virginia.” According to Newseum.com, the Sun’s editor, Francis Pharcellus Church, wrote back to Virginia, telling her her friends were “wrong and that they had been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age.” 

Fast track to Nov. 5, 2013 and the state of Virginia. The skeptics in the Republican Party were wrong. They allowed themselves to be railroaded by a small faction of naysayers who ignored what the people of that state wanted.  Job creation coupled with increasing tolerance on social issues. And as a result, the Tea Party candidate, Ken Cucinelli, got run over by a train filled with voters who are more moderate than their experts and consultants would have led all of us to believe.  It was like 2012 all over again. 

But, a different story is unfolding in New Jersey. Where that blustery and blunt but ever-pragmatic, finger wagging, unlikely Pol, Republican Gov. Christie, just got re-elected in a state that has more Democrats than Republicans. A state where money is now pouring in to thwart his agenda. He got re-elected because he likes people and can work across the aisle. But the real test is still in front of him, a test that will determine whether Christie has what it takes to pin down Washington’s spending problem. If he does, he could be the party’s next Presidential candidate. Actually, if he can hold together his bi-partisan support, especially as he tries to reform the state’s pension program, he will likely be the country’s next Republican President.

 

David Brooks of the NYT on the Republican vs. Republican Problem

Liberals are furious, but the gun issue will not significantly damage the Republican Party. Sure, it looks bad to oppose background checks, which have overwhelming popular support. Sure, the Republican position will further taint the party’s image in places like the suburbs of Philadelphia and Northern Virginia. Sure, the party looks extreme when it can’t accept a bill sponsored by the conservative Senator Joe Manchin and the very conservative Senator Pat Toomey.

Moreover, Democrats never made a compelling case that the bill would have been effective, that it would have directly prevented future Sandy Hooks or lowered the murder rate nationwide. Even many of the bill’s supporters were lukewarm about its contents.

The main reason the gun issue won’t significantly harm Republicans is that it doesn’t play into the core debate that will shape the future of the party. The issue that does that is immigration. The near-term future of American politics will be determined by who wins the immigration debate.

In the months since the election, a rift has opened between the Republicans you might call first-wave revolutionaries and those you might call second-wave revolutionaries. The first-wave revolutionaries (the party’s Congressional leaders) think of themselves as very conservative. They ejected the remaining moderates from their ranks. They sympathize with the Tea Party. They are loyal to Fox News and support a radical restructuring of the government.

These first-wave revolutionaries haven’t softened their conservatism, but they are trying to adjust it to win majority support. They are trying to find policies to boost social mobility, so Republicans look less like the party of the rich. They are swinging behind immigration reform, believing that Hispanics won’t even listen to Republicans until they put that issue in the rearview mirror.

The second-wave revolutionaries — like Rand Paul (on some issues), Jim DeMint, Ted Cruz and some of the cutting-edge talk radio jocks — see the first-wave revolutionaries as a bunch of incompetent establishmentarians. They speak of the Bush-Cheney administration as if it were some sort of liberal Republican regime run by Nelson Rockefeller and Jacob Javits. They argue that Republicans have lost elections recently because the party has been led by big-spending, mushy moderates like John McCain and Mitt Romney and managed by out-of-touch elitists like Karl Rove and Reince Priebus.

The second wavers are much more tactically aggressive, favoring filibusters and such when possible. What the party needs now, they argue, is an ultra-Goldwaterite insurgency that topples the “establishment,” ditches immigration reform and wins Hispanic votes by appealing to the evangelicals among them and offering them economic liberty.

The first and second wavers are just beginning their immigration clash. A few weeks ago, I would have thought the pro-immigration forces had gigantic advantages, but now it is hard to be sure.

The immigration fight will be pitting a cohesive insurgent opposition force against a fragile coalition of bipartisan proponents who have to ambivalently defend a sprawling piece of compromise legislation. We’ve seen this kind of fight before. Things usually don’t end up well for the proponents.

Whether it’s guns or immigration, it is easy to imagine that the underlying political landscape, which prevented progress in the past, has changed. But when you actually try to pass something, you often discover the underlying landscape has not changed. The immigration fight of 2013 might bear an eerie similarity to the fight of 2007.

The arguments that might persuade Republicans to support immigration reform are all on the table. They came on election night 2012. The arguments against are only just now unfolding.

It is just a fact that the big short-term beneficiaries of this law are not generally Republicans: the 11 million who are living in the shadows; the high-tech entrepreneurs who will get more skilled labor. The short-term losers, meanwhile, are often Republicans: the white working-class people who will face a new group of labor-market competition when they try to get jobs in retail; the taxpayers who, at least in the short term, will have to pay some additional costs.

In the past, Republican politicians have had trouble saying no to the latest and most radical insurgency. Even if they know immigration reform is eventually good for their party, lawmakers may figure that opposing it is immediately necessary for themselves.

It would be great if Republicans can hash out their differences over a concrete policy matter, especially immigration, which touches conservatism’s competing values. But if the insurgent right defeats immigration reform, that will be a sign that the party’s self-marginalization will continue. The revolution devours its own.

A battle for 7 states

By JONATHAN MARTIN | 10/23/12 4:37 AM EDT

BOCA RATON, Fla. — The two presidential campaigns are sounding sharply different notes about how they can get to 270 electoral votes, but beneath the post-debate bravado from both sides there is a rough consensus about the shape of the race in its final two weeks.

Top strategists for both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney flooded the media center following the third and final presidential debate here Monday night, and made clear they will be primarily fighting over seven states and will spend most of their time and money in them between now and Nov. 6.

Continue Reading

Spin room reactions

Campaigns describe final push

Obama, Romney best lines

 

(Also on POLITICO: 7 takeaways from final debate)

The main battlegrounds: Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, Virginia, New Hampshire, Florida and Wisconsin. The late inclusion of Wisconsin on this list reflects a bet by Romney — buoyed by some polls showing an opportunity for him there — that he can turn a state that has not voted for a Republican presidential nominee since 1984.

Romney officials, eyeing steady gains in the polls, have not ruled out attempting to broaden the map in other states — claims met with disparagement by Obama aides, who say they remain confident their electoral college firewall is intact even amid a tightening national race and signs that three swing states in the South are looking more favorable for the GOP nominee.

Republicans are genuinely intrigued by the prospect of a strike in Pennsylvania and, POLITICO has learned, are considering going up on TV there outside the expensive Philadelphia market. But what Romney officials worry about, both in Pennsylvania and Michigan, is that if they put some cash down or use precious hours to send their candidate there Obama will respond by crushing their offensive with a big ad buy of his own.

(Also on POLITICO: 6 questions that will settle the election)

So while Boston is open to the idea of going into such traditional Democratic strongholds, it is still mostly playing within the same map the two candidates have been locked in for months. And, increasingly, it is narrowing its focus as prospects improve in North Carolina, Florida and Virginia.

“That states that we’re playing in are the states we need to win,” noted Romney strategist Russ Schriefer. “We’ll see what happens in the next two weeks. We’re going to concentrate on Ohio and Colorado and Iowa and New Hampshire.”

“We’ll be in Ohio a lot,” added Romney strategist Stuart Stevens.

The Romney campaign is already airing TV ads in Wisconsin. The former Massachusetts governor has not been to the state since he tapped Paul Ryan as his running mate in August but is headed back soon.

(Also on POLITICO: Mitt Romney: I come in peace)

“We’ll be back in Wisconsin,” said Eric Fehrnstrom. “Wisconsin is definitely in play.”

Obama officials, meanwhile, are convinced that they have a lead in Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada — and aren’t yet willing to write off Colorado, Florida and Virginia.

But senior Democrats increasingly recognize that their path to 270 electoral votes is not in the latter three but in the Midwest.

“Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio are crucial — if we win those three states, the president is reelected,” said Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a close Obama ally.

(Also on POLITICO: Media: Obama in fighting mood)

Obama adviser Robert Gibbs put it another way, saying Romney’s fate would depend on whether he can sweep the trio of Big 10 states.

“We intend to go out and win each of the three of those states,” said Gibbs.

And Pennsylvania and Michigan? They’re not worried and aren’t likely to send Obama there.

“Probably not, no,” said Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter when asked if the president would rally supporters in the two traditionally Democratic electoral troves. “We have significant resources there. We are invested in those states at a much higher level than Gov. Romney is.”