Some Republican House members are apparently upset with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) over ads being run in their districts. According to Politico, the ads are sponsored by the National Association for Gun Rights, which Paul has done fundraising pitches for in the past, and targeting members who are viewed as shaky on gun control measures:
Sen. Rand Paul, the tea party favorite and possible 2016 presidential candidate, is raising money for a conservative gun rights group that’s targeting fellow Republicans, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
And when one congressman complained, the message from Paul’s camp was: too bad.
The group has blitzed the districts of Virginia Republicans Cantor and Rep. Scott Rigell with $50,000 worth of TV and radio ads accusing them of helping President Barack Obama pass gun control legislation.
Paul’s email pitches for the group don’t mention Cantor or Rigell by name, but his activity for an organization that attacks fellow Republicans shows the potential 2016 presidential contender isn’t afraid to pick a fight inside the party.
We need more people willing to call out Republicans who could go soft on big issues. If they don’t like the heat, rather than complaining to Paul, they should make it clear that they aren’t going to cast a vote that violates Second Amendment rights.
It’s pretty simple how that works.
Last week, the National Journal profiled Rep. Justin Amash, the libertarian-leaning Michigan politican, noting how his potential entry into the race for the Republican primary for United States Senate could further shake-up the establishment in both parties:
Amash is a unique politician with the potential to transcend traditional party appeal. He preaches transparency and accountability, having never missed a vote in Congress. (He also writes lengthy notes on his Facebook page explaining every vote.) His isolationist streak has earned him a following among young people. His Arab-American heritage makes him appealing to minorities. He’s the rare politician with fans at both the American Civil Liberties Union and Right to Life.
Amash also has the ability to attract serious money. Already, one libertarian super PAC has pledged to spend upward of $1 million to help him get elected, and others would likely follow (Club for Growth would surely spend big on his behalf). The ability to attract such substantial outside assistance makes Amash an intimidating contender, and could send other Republicans running from a primary challenge. “If that money comes through, that’s a big benefit,” said former Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis, another potential candidate. “Look, this is going to cost $2 million to $3 million in the primary, and another $10 million to $15 million in a general election. So if there are people who are willing to put that kind of money behind him, that makes a big difference.”
When Democrats bring their new anti-gun control measures to the Senate floor next month, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) will not be among the Republicans who are working to stop them.
During an interview yesterday on CNN’s State of the Union, Graham told Candy Crowley that he believed that any legislation including universal background checks wouldn’t pass the Senate, but he added that he would not join a filibuster against the measures:
Sen. Lindsey Graham does not support extending background checks to gun sales between two individuals, nor does he think such a bill would pass the Senate, but he said Sunday he will not hold the measure up with a filibuster
“The only way I would filibuster a bill is if Sen. (Harry) Reid did not allow alternative amendments,” the South Carolina Republican said on CNN’s “State of the Union with Candy Crowley.”
House Republicans are claiming a victory on spending over President Barack Obama. According to a memo sent to his caucus, Speaker John Boehner said that their “new tactical plan” was a success:
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) hailed his conference’s success against President Obama in a memo issued to Republicans on Thursday.
Boehner said the House GOP’s “new tactical plan” to fight Obama and Democrats on spending had largely succeeded, and sought input from his rank-and-file on where to go from here.
“Republicans may be the minority party in Washington — but because we forged a plan together and have stuck to it, our actions as a team over the past couple of months have made a difference for all Americans,” Boehner wrote.
The Speaker highlighted as a success legislation that would have withheld pay from the House and Senate if either chamber did not produce a budget. He also complimented House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) “make life work” initiative, which is meant to showcase GOP ideas that will help working families.
“From #NoBudgetNoPay to Leader Cantor’s #MakingLifeWork initiative to last week’s passage of our Path to Prosperity budget, we’ve used our limited power in Washington to maximum effect, and shown the Democratic majority what leadership looks like,” Boehner wrote.
We’ve heard it before — Republicans have an image problem. There aren’t many who deny this, after a brutal election last year, and continued messaging problems this year. But with the fight over the FY 2014 budget still far from over and an important mid-term election next year, Republicans clearly have their work cut out for them.
And the problem Republicans have isn’t because of their ideas on fiscal matters. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Early last week, The Hill released a poll showing that voters actually responded well to the Republican budget message…as long as they didn’t know that it came from Republicans:
Respondents in The Hill Poll were asked to choose which of two approaches they would prefer on the budget, but the question’s phrasing included no cues as to which party advocated for which option.
Presented in that way, 55 percent of likely voters opted for a plan that would slash $5 trillion in government spending, provide for no additional tax revenue and balance the budget within 10 years — in essence, the path recommended by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) last week.
Only 28 percent of voters preferred this option, which reflects the proposal put forth by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) last week.
An even stronger majority of respondents, 65 percent, said U.S. budget deficits should be reduced mostly by cutting spending rather than by raising taxes. Just 24 percent said the budget should be balanced mostly by increasing revenue.
The Republican National Committee released its long-awaited “autopsy” of the 2012 election, which is supposed to help the GOP determine a way forward in future elections. Let’s just say that the report is disappointing if you view the grassroots as an important part of the process:
The GOP’s prescription to cure the ills that helped bring on yet another disastrous presidential cycle would revamp its presidential nominating rules in ways to benefit well-funded candidates and hamper insurgents - a move that quickly heated up the already smoldering feud between the Republican establishment and the tea party-inspired base.
Tucked in near the end of the 97-page report, formally known as The Growth and Opportunity Project, are less than four pages that amount to a political bombshell: the five-member panel urges halving the number of presidential primary debates in 2016 from 2012, creating a regional primary cluster after the traditional early states and holding primaries rather than caucuses or conventions.
The recommendations are also a nod to the party’s donor class. Several donors bluntly told RNC Chair Reince Priebus at meetings right after the election that they wanted Iowa, with its more conservative base, to have less of a role in the process.
Yesterday, Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of FreedomWorks, and former Rep. Steve LaTourette, President and CEO of the Republican Main Street Partnership, joined Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday to discuss the direction of the Republican Party.
Kibbe and FreedomWorks have focused on supporting fiscal conservatives in primaries across the country, including backing primary challenges to more moderate members of Congress. FreedomWorks was essential to electing Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz — all of which went up against establishment candidates or incumbents with questionable records. LaTourette and the Republican Main Street Partnership have tried to steer the Republican Party in a more centrist direction.
With the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held near Washington, DC this past weekend and other events — including the sequester and Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster — dominating the new cycle recently, there was plenty to discuss. Additionally, Kibbe and LaTourette represent two different views on how the Republican Party should fuction.
Last week, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) announced that we would retire as the end of his current term. As I explained on Friday, this leaves a door open for Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), who has been solid on fiscal issues and civil liberties, to make the jump to the Senate — and it looks like he may actually do it. According to The Detroit News, Amash is indeed weighing his options:
U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, a young firebrand in the lower chamber who has championed a Ron Paul-style of libertarian politics, said Monday he is “certainly open” to a run in 2014.
“Frankly, we can’t afford to nominate another unelectable establishment Republican,” Amash, R-Cascade Township, told The Detroit News. “History shows they don’t appeal to moderate and independent voters.”
Amash, 32, said a traditional establishment candidate cannot win the Senate seat. Posting explanations for his votes — including those that buck the GOP leadership — on his social media pages, Amash said he has enjoyed grassroots support to join the race.
“I don’t think any of the names that are being tossed around have quite hit the spot for most Republican voters or for most voters in the general election,” Amash said. “People both within the Republican Party and within the general electorate are tired of the pro-corporate welfare, anti-civil liberties Republican. I think we need to stop running on the past.”
Yesterday, Carl Levin (D-MI), who has served in the Senate since 1979 and was one of key figures behind the indefinite detention provision in the NDAA, announced that he would not seek re-election in 2014:
U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, who has been a force for progressivism in the Senate since 1979 and made his mark in recent years as chairman of the powerful Armed Services Committee, will not run for re-election next year, likely setting off a political avalanche of interest in the seat.
Levin, 78, released a statement Thursday afternoon saying he made the decisions believing “I can best serve my state and my nation by concentrating in the next two years on the challenging issues before us … in other words, by doing my job without the distraction of campaigning for re-election.”
With Republicans having some modest success in the state in the 2010 mid-term, when Gov. Rick Synder was first elected, and taking control of the state legislature in the most recent election, there could be a door open to take control of this seat in 2014. Among those who may find interest in the seat coud be Rep. Justin Amash.
Rep. Amash, who has cast himself in the mold of Ron Paul and explains every single one of his votes on his Facebook page, has been one of the most vocal defenders of the Constitution in the House of Representatives. He has taken on his own party’s leadership and remained popular in his district.
While the Obama Administration making the claim that it has the power to use drones inside the United States to target and eliminate potential threats, a Fox News poll released on Monday shows that Americans are not at all comfortable with this prospect:
The poll finds that 32 percent of voters think that yes, the president should be able to authorize the use of deadly force domestically against an American terrorist. Still, about twice that many — 63 percent — disagree and want checks on the president.
Again, agreement is bipartisan, as most Republicans (70 percent) and independents (70 percent) and a majority of Democrats (54 percent) oppose the president having the sole power under these conditions.
There were actually two different questions in regard to President Obama and drone strikes, one of which was a general question about the policy. The other was a more specific question about giving the power to determine who should be target to the president.
Here are the two questions:
- Do you approve or disapprove of the United States using unmanned aircraft called drones to kill a suspected terrorist who is a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil?
- Do you think the president of the United States, on his own, should be able to authorize the use of deadly force, such as a drone strike, to kill a suspected terrorist who is a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil?
On the first question, the divide wasn’t that wide. According the poll, 45% — including 44% of Democrats and 47% of Republicans — approve of using drones to kill an American citizen suspected terrorism inside the United States. Only 50% disapprove.