“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”– Dr. Martin Luther King
By Doug Porter
The Republican Central Committee has been meeting over the past few days at the Hotel del Coronado. Much of the work has been done in closed sessions, where the mundane business of administration, finances and logistics are discussed.
The state chair, national committeeman and national committeewoman for the fifty states and assorted territories each receive one vote at RNC meetings, along with a vote for the RNC Chairmanship. Following last fall’s victories at the polls Reince Priebus will likely be elected to a third term, making him the longest-serving chairman in the committee’s history.
Logistics decisions for the GOP’s 2016 presidential campaign include moving the nominating convention set for Cleveland from its usual August slot to mid-July and reining in the primary debate process. I suspect what everybody’s really hoping for are no embarrassing incidents. They’ve already censured a Michigan delegate for racist social media posts.
According to the Wall Street Journal shifting the convention timing will allow the party’s next presidential contender to access millions of general election dollars sooner.
Here’s the Washington Post on the thinking behind limiting pre-convention debates:
Reacting to what many in the party concluded was a chaotic and ultimately costly series of debates in the 2012 campaign, a task force of the Republican National Committee has spent months seeking to devise a set of rules that will bring more order to the process, include more conservative outlets as sponsors and establish sanctions for candidates who violate the rules.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in an interview Thursday that he regarded the 2012 debates as “an embarrassment and ridiculous” for the party.
A Large Field of Candidates
One estimate I read says there are no less than 23 individuals seriously considering seeking the GOP nomination. Running for the highest office is getting more expensive with each election cycle. Raising lots of cash is a bi-partisan issue. Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton expects to spend $100 million during the primary season.
Limiting the number of debates for GOP contenders will have the effect of winnowing down the field, making fundraising the top priority. Here’s Walter Shapiro of the Brennan Center blog explaining why:
The finances of the Bush Restoration Movement and the Give Mitt a Third Chance Committee help explain why Republican strategists estimate that any serious candidate for the nomination will need to raise $75 million by the end of February 2016. (These are old-fashioned campaign contributions at $2,700 a throw rather than Super PAC spending). As Dan Balz calculated in the Washington Post, a GOP candidate would have to raise almost $200,000 a day — every day — to hit the $75-million target.
The ‘I’m Not Crazy’ Sales Pitch
Four prospective candidates for the 2016 nomination are speaking to delegates this week. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Dr. Ben Carson, generally considered long shots, spoke yesterday. Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are appearing today.
Dr. Carson’s mid-day address yesterday was designed to get media coverage and it succeeded.
Here’s Bloomberg.com, with the softball approach (meaning they didn’t portray him as crazy):
Carson, 63, spoke Thursday to about 250 Republicans who dined on apple cider braised chicken breasts and white and chocolate mousse in the Hotel del Coronado’s Crown Room, a ballroom with a high-vaulted, sugar pine ceiling decorated with four crown-shaped chandeliers…
…It was the first chance for many in the room to hear Carson, who said he has visited four to five states per week during the past year while considering whether to run for president in 2016. A renowned surgeon who speaks just louder than a whisper, Carson has captivated much of the party’s conservative base. In Iowa, which holds the nation’s first presidential nominating contest, he was behind only Mitt Romney as the first choice of Republican caucus-goers, according to the Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll in October.
Carson was warmly received by the Republican crowd that had gathered near San Diego, earning a standing ovation when he started and winning applause throughout his 35-minute speech. Still, he failed to win over many converts. “Oh, no,” Joanne Moore, a California Republican attorney in California, said when asked whether she’d consider back him for president. “That would be like throwing me into an operating room. You’re going to die.”
And here’s New York magazine’s Daily Intelligencer, which ran with the red meat cast by the candidate to rile up the liberals and keep his cred with the party’s fringe elements:
Poor Dr. Ben Carson. The retired pediatric neurosurgeon turned 2016 candidate – who became famous among conservatives after making a series of incendiary remarks – just wants to campaign in peace, but the liberal media keeps pushing what he calls the “craziness narrative.” For example, today he’s in the news just for making the completely innocuous suggestion that Americans could learn something from a brutal terrorist group that beheads innocent people.
“A bunch of rag tag militiamen defeated the most powerful and professional military force on the planet. Why? Because they believed in what they were doing. They were willing to die for what they believed in,” Carson said during a speech at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting. “Fast forward to today. What do we have? You’ve got ISIS. They’ve got the wrong philosophy, but they’re willing to die for it while we are busily giving away every belief and every value for the sake of political correctness. We have to change that.”
Carson preemptively criticized journalists for twisting those words to make him sound nutty. “Now I recognize that there’s press here and some of the press will say, ‘Carson said that ISIS is the same as the United States,'” he said. “They are just so ridiculous, so ridiculous.”
The Wisconsin Miracle Sales Pitch
The evening speaker last night was Gov. Scott Walker, who’s become something of a folk hero in conservative circles for surviving brutal battles with organized labor.
Here’s a snip of UT-San Diego’s coverage, with Governor’s elevator sales pitch:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told Republican National Committee members on Thursday night that the success he’s had cutting public employee benefits and lowering taxes could sweep the nation and help Republicans take back the White House in 2016.
“Common-sense reforms can work, not just in Wisconsin, but they can work all across America,” said Walker, one of a handful of potential candidates for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination to appear at the RNC’s three-day session at the Hotel del Coronado.
Walker is the perfect Chamber of Commerce candidate, which in Wisconsin goes by the the name Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC).
Here’s Dave Schwab, outreach director for Wisconsin Wave in a Capital Times op-ed on the relationship:
Kurt Bauer, CEO of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, recently outlined WMC’s priorities for 2015-16, including tax cuts and “right-to-work.” WMC has spent millions to elect Gov. Scott Walker and allied politicians in the state Legislature and Supreme Court, and the business group has gotten one item after another on its wish list since 2011.
However, WMC’s not-so-invisible hand guiding state government hasn’t steered us to economic prosperity. Job growth in Wisconsin from January 2011 to October 2014 was only 64 percent of the national rate over the same period. Wage growth for the same period was just 71 percent of the national average. Under the WMC agenda, Wisconsin has performed significantly worse than the United States as a whole. Yet WMC’s political investments will likely pay off as legislators continue to push WMC’s agenda as their own.
The Elephant in the Room
Just 36 hours before the start of this week’s winter RNC meetings, a speakers slot was created for 2012 candidate Mitt Romney. Word oozed out late last week that the former Massachusetts Governor was reconsidering his earlier promises to retire from politics.
Many on the right side of the GOP ideological spectrum are actually happy about Romney’s candidacy, figuring he’ll get into a bruising fight with others they consider to be too moderate like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Jeb Bush, leaving the way open for a more “pure” candidate like Sen. Ted Cruz.
Mostly, people in the GOP seem to be caught off-guard by Romney’s re-emergence. From the Boston Globe:
This really kind of throws a wrench in everything,” said Saul Anuzis, a longtime Michigan Republican leader who backed Romney in 2012. “Mitt Romney is truly respected and loved here. No doubt the committee has a great deal of positive feelings for him. But I also think everybody’s kind of surprised.’’
In conversations with more than a dozen Republicans gathered near San Diego for the Republican National Committee’s winter meetings, most said Romney’s potential candidacy demonstrates the party’s vibrancy, even while they cautioned that he would need to mount a much better effort than he did in 2012.
Some of Romney’s potential rivals and the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page dismissed Romney this week as “yesterday’s news’’ and “recycled,” saying the same thing that Romney himself has said for the last two years: He had his shot, and now it’s someone else’s turn.
GOP Response to Obama’s State of the Nation Speech
This was just too good not to include, since I’m discussing GOP politics today. From the Atlantic:
Get ready to learn about hog castration and its application to the political process, America.
Senator Joni Ernst, the daughter of Iowa pig farmers who became one of the more surprising victors in the Republican electoral sweep, will deliver the party’s response to President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday. Her selection was made jointly by Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who announced their decision Thursday at the GOP congressional retreat in Pennsylvania.
Introducing Ernst to a packed room of reporters at a chocolate-themed resort, McConnell called her the “perfect choice” to represent the change voters had ushered in last fall. “It’s a long way from Red Oak to Washington, D.C.,” Ernst said in brief remarks, adding that she was “truly honored and humbled” by the assignment.
On This Day: 1919 – The 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibited the sale or transportation of alcoholic beverages, was ratified. It was later repealed by the 21st Amendment. 1987 – The Beastie Boys became the first act censored on “American Bandstand.” 1988 – Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder was fired as a CBS sports commentator one day after telling a TV station in Washington, DC, that, during the era of slavery, blacks had been bred to produce stronger offspring.
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