tea party movement

Is Rick Perry the tea party favorite?

Given the job creation numbers in Texas and his frequent criticisms of Barack Obama, Texas Gov. Rick Perry seems to be the tea party movement’s favorite presidential candidate; at least at the moment:

The Texas conservative, who’s weighing a late entry into the field of GOP candidates, beats other candidates among members of the Tea Party, the conservative grassroots wing of the Republican Party that’s battling to shape the race for the nomination.

Twenty percent of Tea Party supporters would like to see Perry as the nominee, according to a McClatchy-Marist poll released Wednesday. Perry displaces former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) as the top Tea Party candidate in Marist’s April poll; Huckabee’s since withdrawn from the race.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) is the second choice of the Tea Party, at 17 percent, followed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) at 16 percent and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) at 12 percent.

The poll suggests that Perry might be well-positioned to seize the mantle of the Tea Party should he choose to enter the race. Bachmann made a play for those voters during her announcement this week, and could enjoy increased support after heavy media coverage this week.

George Allen flip-flops on ethanol

The Senate’s recent vote to repeal wasteful, market distorting ethanol subsidies is going to play a part in some primary campaigns. Take for instance George Allen, who is seeking to take back his old seat in Virginia. Allen supported these subsidies while he served in the Senate. Of course, this isn’t the only issue where Allen fails, but he has been trying gloss over his record by changing his position to ease skeptical minds:

“I have long maintained our biofuel mandates have become unrealistic and drive up the cost of our food and feed,” Allen wrote on his campaign blog. “I commend Senator Coburn’s amendment to end the tax breaks and subsidies for ethanol. Using food and feed for fuel is like busting up your furniture to put in your wood stove to heat your home and wonder why you are sitting on the floor.”

But it turns out Allen hadn’t “long maintained” his view on ethanol. To adapt a phrase from another famous candidate, Allen was against ethanol before he was for it before he was against it.

Early in his one term in the Senate, Allen was an avowed opponent of ethanol. But then he started testing the waters for a possible 2008 presidential bid and, coincidentally or not, his view on the subject evolved.

In 2005, Allen voted in favor of a mandate to increase the use of ethanol in fuels. The switch was widely noted in both the Virginia and Iowa media.

DeMint lays out endorsement pledge

Even though the race for the GOP presidential nomination is underway (though the field may not be entirely set), there hasn’t been many endorsements from members of Congress or high-profile Republicans. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who often represents the tea party in Washington, is wants candidates to sign before he’ll endorse:

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) threatened to withhold his support for Republican presidential candidates unless they sign a pledge requiring fiscal reforms in exchange for raising the debt limit.
The pledge, crafted by several conservative groups, would have signatories vow to oppose raising the debt limit unless three conditions are met: 1. Substantial cuts in spending (Cut), 2. Enforceable spending caps (Cap), and 3. Congressional passage of a balanced budget amendment (Balance).

“I’m telling every presidential candidate, if your name isn’t on this list, don’t come see me,” DeMint said.

Support from the South Carolina senator will be especially coveted by White House contenders, both for the boost in a key primary state and because of his status as a conservative icon within the GOP. DeMint challenged House and Senate candidates to sign the pledge, too.

DeMint backed Romney four years ago, but he has since said that he won’t do so again unless the former Massachusetts Governor repudiates RomneyCare; which isn’t likely to happen.

There will be a few candidates willing to sign DeMint’s pledge, perhaps Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain or Ron Paul, but none of them stand much of a chance to win the nomination.

Gary Johnson makes his case to participate in Monday’s debate

Continuing his protest against not being invited to participate during Monday’s CNN-sponsored Republican debate in New Hampshire, Gary Johnson, who served two-terms as Governor of New Mexico, stated his case for inclusion at FoxNews.com:

In the early part of 1991, there was a governor from a relatively small state who, away from the national spotlight, had compiled a credible record, been reelected by those he served, and who was in the early stages of putting together a national campaign for President. His ranking in national political polls – when he was included – was in the neighborhood of 1-2%. By the end of 1991, he had skyrocketed to roughly six percent.

His name: Bill Clinton.

The so-called “frontrunners” for the ’92 Democrat presidential when Bill Clinton was still a blip on the screen? Mario Cuomo and Jerry Brown, both of whom were polling in double-digits. We all know how that turned out.

Likewise, in 1975, another governor, Jimmy Carter, was polling at 1%. And in 1987, the same was true of a fellow named Dukakis.

The point is clear: Using polls this early in a presidential election cycle to define who is a serious candidate or pick potential winners is a bad idea. Using them to exclude me, another Governor with a solid track record, from a critical national primary debate is even worse. But that is precisely what CNN and the other sponsors of the June 13 New Hampshire Republican presidential primary debate are doing.

Is conservative talk radio on the decline?

While perusing Twitter the other day, I came across this story:

“Right-wing talk radio may have worn out its welcome, at least for now,” reports Crain’s New York Business.

A new Arbitron report shows Rush Limbaugh’s ratings down 33% from a year ago and Sean Hannitty down 28% over the same time period. Meanwhile, more centrist personalities — Don Imus in the morning and John Batchelor at night — were both up from a year earlier.

Admittedly, I don’t listen to much talk radio these days; but when I first read this story, one point that immediate entered my mind. That is that 2011 is not an election year; so I don’t know that is supposed to be a surprise or somehow shows that “right-wing” talking radio is in decline. The counter to that point is that the GOP presidential race is heating up, so listeners should be tuning in to hear what the talking heads have to say. Not really. It’s still very early on and no one seems very interested in the race right now. It’ll likely jump back up during the summer and into the fall and winter.

It would be interesting to see a comparison with an off-year to the previous election year. Maybe from that we can draw a reasonable conclusion. Or maybe we can look at how conservative radio shows are capitalizing on new medium, as Jeffrey Lord notes over at The American Spectator:

Limbaugh and conservative talkers Sean Hannity and Mark Levin are not only not losing their audience, as low-tech (or is that no-tech?) political critics are braying, the three are so far ahead of the communications curve that their liberal blogger and news outlet political foes are literally clueless even as the revolution unfolds right in front of them.

What mediums, exactly?:

Rand Paul shows libertarians how to make a difference in DC

Despite his best efforts, Senator Rand Paul was unable to tip the cart known as the Patriot Act over.  The freshman senator gave it a valiant effort and developed some unlikely allies along the way.  When you are mentioned as an ally of Dick Durbin on an issue, and you’re really a Tea Party favorite, then you give life to the cliche that politics makes strange bedfellows.

However, Sen. Paul may well have shown libertarians the path towards transforming the nation, despite the failure.  From MSNBC.com:

Paul argued that in the rush to meet the terrorist threat in 2001 Congress enacted a Patriot Act that tramples on individual liberties. He had some backing from liberal Democrats and civil liberties groups who have long contended the law gives the government authority to spy on innocent citizens.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said he voted for the act when he was a House member in 2001 “while ground zero was still burning.” But “I soon realized it gave too much power to government without enough judicial and congressional oversight.”

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., said the provision on collecting business records can expose law-abiding citizens to government scrutiny. “If we cannot limit investigations to terrorism or other nefarious activities, where do they end?” he asked.

“The Patriot Act has been used improperly again and again by law enforcement to invade Americans’ privacy and violate their constitutional rights,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington legislative office.

FreedomWorks to take on Romney?

While President Barack Obama’s team believes Mitt Romney is their biggest threat in 2012 (sorry, I just don’t see why they think that), the folks at FreedomWorks note that his lack of authencity and his health care plan that served as a blueprint for ObamaCare is leading tea party activists to reject his candidacy:

FreedomWorks is led by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) and Matt Kibbe, an economist and former Capitol Hill aide. More than 30 employees, as well as a fresh class of several interns, work out of spacious seventh floor offices near the U.S. Capitol. The group knows they cannot impose their will on the fiercely independent conservative organizers fueling the Tea Party. But they say the activist base is just as anti-Romney as they are.

Kibbe said in an interview that FreedomWorks has no plans at the moment to endorse an opponent of Romney’s in the primary. But others in the organization made clear they will devote considerable resources toward helping whoever emerges as the most viable Republican in the primary other than the putative front runner.

Brendan Steinhauser, who travels around the country meeting with activists as FreedomWorks’ top liaison to the grassroots, said most people he talks to are “definitely trying to stop Romney.”

DeMint for Senate Finance Committee!

With an opening on the Senate Finance Committee due to the resignation of Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), the folks over at FreedomWorks are making a strong push to get Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) appointed to fill the seat:

—This is a great opportunity for Sen. McConnell to build on his comment that “the tea party has had an overwhelmingly positive impact” by appointing one of the Senators who best represents tea party ethos.

—The Senate Finance Committee has jurisdiction over the issues that bring the tea party together—free markets, fiscal responsibility, and constitutionally limited government. Sen. DeMint has a strong legislative record on this fiscal policy set, fighting for fundamental tax reform, consumer-driven healthcare, free trade, and proposing bold solutions for Social Security.

—DeMint was one of the first lawmakers to embrace the tea party movement and was one of the very few politicians invited to speak at our historic 9/12 Taxpayer March on Washington, D.C in 2009.

—Sen. DeMint’s appointment would be a clear signal to our broad and active movement that Republicans in Washington are still listening. Sen. DeMint has requested a seat on the committee every time one has been available. Given his seniority this time, and his importance to the powerful tea party movement, now is the perfect time to offer him a seat.

FreedomWorks is encouraging you to call Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office at (202) 224-3135 to show that there is support for DeMint, who pushed for strong legislation to Audit the Federal Reserve last year, to be appointed to this important committee.

Rand Paul digs at Donald Trump

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) visited New Hampshire yesterday. No, he’s not running for president; But he did take a shot at Donald Trump, the statist real estate mogul that is considering a bid for the GOP presidential nomination and making a fool out of himself over the birther non-issue:

While speaking at a breakfast with New Hampshire Republicans one day after “The Donald” visited the Granite State, Paul riffed off the potential GOP presidential candidate’s “birther” questions.

“I’ve come to New Hampshire today because I’m very concerned,” said Paul, according to The New York Times. “I want to see the original long-form certificate of Donald Trump’s Republican registration.”

Paul’s comments follow up on some GOP-aligned groups’ effort to discredit Trump as a conservative. The free-market Club for Growth has accused Trump of being a liberal for his previous support of universal healthcare and his desire to raise tariffs on China.
Paul, a Tea Party favorite, said it would serve the GOP better to get behind a candidate who has better conservative credentials.

“Let’s look to Republicans who not only talk the talk, but walk the walk,” he said. “If we find the right candidate, I see no reason why we can’t win in 2012.”

Ron Paul’s just about in it

Even though I’ve already come out in support of Gary Johnson, I have to admit that I’m kind of glad to see Ron Paul make this step forward.  There are plenty of arguments in support (or against) either of the pro-liberty candidates we’re looking to have.  I have my opinions, and other folks have theirs.  It’s all good.  However, having two candidates may well work out for the best for everyone.

I’ve been as guilty as anyone of thinking that the liberty movement can really only support one guy.  In reality, that still remains to be seen.  While Johnson is somewhat more likely to resonate better with independents and moderates, Paul will resonate better with the Tea Party groups.  This adds a somewhat more diverse mix listening to the pro-freedom messages of both candidates.

Yes, eventually one candidate will probably bow out.  Let’s face it, the odds aren’t great that even one of these men will win the nomination.  The odds aren’t particularly great that both will make it all the way to the convention.  One will, more likely admit defeat and probably endorse the other one.  It doesn’t really matter either way.  You see, those who liked the message of one are far more likely to find plenty to like in the other anyways.

The pro-liberty movement will, eventually, settle behind one of the two.  Yes, I do believe the best man is Johnson, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t support Paul if Johnson bowed out.  I can’t think of any other Johnson supporters who wouldn’t do the same.  Truth be told, I suspect the same can be said of Paul supporters as well.


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