CAMPAIGNS - The race for the Republican presidential nomination kicked off in earnest this weekend.
Representative Steve King hosted the inaugural Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines on Saturday where nine Republican hopefuls tried to convince the social conservative base why they should be the next commander-in-chief. Serious candidates Chris Christie, Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Carly Fiorina all took aim at the Obama Administration. Not so serious candidates Sarah Palin and Donald Trump also appeared; doing their best to remain relevant on the national stage.
The clear winner of the festivities was Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Conservative Republicans are desperate for a fresh face that is active in the trenches and boasts winning record defending conservative values. Walker hits the trifecta.
On Sunday the billionaire Koch brothers hosted a presidential forum in Palm Springs. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio traded blows on the economy, foreign affairs tax reform and immigration.
Noticeably absent from the weekend’s festivities…Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush.
Elitist, establishment Republicans want no part of Romney or Bush. They view Romney as a two time loser and Bush as another, well…Bush. But the people that vote don’t share in that opinion. In every poll Romney leads all other Republican candidates by at least 5 points. And should he run, Romney can and will raise money like no other Republican candidate could ever dream possible. Then there is the critical minority vote where Bush and only Bush can hold court. Even Rubio pales in comparison.
Bush says that he wants to steer clear of “gotcha politics” and run a positive campaign based on the issues. Romney has yet to formally enter the race. Perhaps that is why they chose not to show up this weekend. That was a mistake. Their absence sends a message that they somehow feel they are “better than” their opponents and have no need to bother themselves with such trivia. The fact is both Bush and Romney will have a very difficult time gaining the nomination. The baggage they carry is very real and very heavy. At some point they will have to prove themselves by mixing it up with their opponents. Then we will see if their front runner status is deserved.
ELECTIONS MATTER – Did you happen to see “60 Minutes” last night?
Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader McConnell sat down for an interview with Scott Pelley. The subject was the president’s State of the Union address. Pelley asked both legislative leaders to comment on the possibility of any of the president’s stated agenda making it through congress.
One by one Pelley ticked off the president’s bucket list and each time the leaders said “No.” McConnell then went on to express his surprise at the president’s combativeness saying: “…my first thought was it sounded like he was running for a third term…He seemed to have completely forgotten or chose to ignore the election last November.” Speaker Boehner chimed in that he was disappointed that the president didn’t “taken just a little bit different tone that would have indicated to us that there’s some interest in working with us.”
Boehner and McConnell’s comments to a national audience would be laughable it they weren’t so sad. Apparently the two most powerful men in congress were wounded by the fact that this president was treating their victory in the November mid-terms in the exact same manner that they treated his general election victories in 2008 and 2012. And had they been listening they would have been aware that the president spent the last ten minutes of his speech offering them the olive branch that they claim to so deeply desire.
The truth is that the leadership has no interest in compromising on anything. The plan, as McConnell clearly outlined, will be to pass a series of partisan bills, like repealing Obamacare that the president is certain to veto. The problem with this strategy is tHAT come 2016 voters will want to know if the new Republican majority made good on its campaign promise “to get things done.” Engaging in obstructionist tactics and repealing exiting law is not governing. It is partisan politics as usual.