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Iowa GOP will continue straw poll fundraiser

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Jan 10, 2015 at 21:21:25 PM CST

The Republican Party of Iowa's State Central Committee voted unanimously today to hold a "straw poll" fundraiser next August, as has occurred every year before the Iowa caucuses since 1979. The date and location will be announced later; the three most likely venues are the Iowa State University campus in Ames, the Farm Progress Show in Boone, and the State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

I've enclosed the official Iowa GOP statement after the jump. Note that it identifies former Republican presidential nominees George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bob Dole, and Mitt Romney as past winners of the straw poll, but does not mention Michele Bachmann, who won the 2011 straw poll and went on to finish fifth on caucus night. O. Kay Henderson posted the audio from the committee deliberations and vote. State party chair Jeff Kaufmann emphasized that Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus is strongly supportive of Iowa's first in the nation status, and said the straw poll will not jeopardize that role.

Shortly after the 2012 presidential election, Governor Terry Branstad declared that "the straw poll has outlived its usefulness." That's easy for him to say when he is able to raise millions of dollars through other events. There's no way the Iowa GOP would fail to hold some kind of statewide fundraiser featuring as many presidential candidates as possible. Continuing the straw poll element will increase the national media's interest in the event.

Speaking to State Central Committee members after today's vote, Kaufmann thanked Branstad, Senator Chuck Grassley, and Representative Steve King for their feedback on the straw poll. He added that Branstad had offered to help the party secure presidential candidates' participation if the straw poll continues. Some analysts have speculated that certain candidates would skip the fundraiser, either because the event is seen to skew toward social conservative activists, or simply to save money. (Texas Governor Rick Perry joined the presidential race shortly after the Ames straw poll.) Kaufmann said today that if some candidates decide not to participate, "I can guarantee that RPI will maintain its strict neutrality policy whether or not that candidate attended the Straw Poll or not."

During today's meeting, several State Central Committee members praised the straw poll's role in giving every presidential candidate, not just well-funded ones, an opportunity to address activists from all over Iowa. A few also favorably cited the straw poll's function in "winnowing the field." Sam Brownback ended his presidential campaign soon after the 2007 straw poll, and Tim Pawlenty did the same soon after finishing a distant third at the 2011 event. I suspect that this year, presidential candidates will not invest as much money in winning the straw poll, nor will they over-react to a less than stellar showing. Bachmann started fading almost immediately after winning the 2011 straw poll. By the time the Iowa caucuses rolled around, Republicans had cycled through three more front-runners (Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and Newt Gingrich), before Rick Santorum surged to finish in a near-tie with Romney and Ron Paul. According to some reports, Pawlenty regretted dropping out of that race so early.

Any comments about the next Republican presidential campaign are welcome in this thread.

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Three political realities that should worry Republicans

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Nov 18, 2014 at 16:50:48 PM CST

Republicans had a lot to celebrate on November 4, and Democrats have plenty to worry about after the midterm election debacle.

But all is not rosy in GOP world either. If I were a Republican, I'd be particularly concerned about three things.

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Twitter was used in "cutting edge" scheme to evade campaign finance laws

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Nov 17, 2014 at 23:00:00 PM CST

The Federal Election Commission rarely enforces laws against coordination between political campaigns and groups making independent expenditures for and against candidates. Meanwhile, outside spending is exploding to the point that in some races, independent expenditures dwarf money spent by the candidates.

As a result, each election cycle brings more actions that raise suspicions of campaigns and outside groups coordinating their work. In Iowa's U.S. Senate race, Joni Ernst's campaign magically knew exactly when to launch a very small ad buy to maximal effect--on the same day an outside group released a months-old unflattering video of Bruce Braley. Later on, a super PAC came into existence solely to run a $1 million television commercial targeting Braley, and that super PAC just happened to be headquartered in the same office as a senior consultant for Ernst's campaign.

CNN's Chris Moody reported today on a newly uncovered, brazen scheme to share information between campaigns and political advocacy groups. Click through to read his whole piece about Twitter accounts that communicated polling data from competitive U.S. House races.

At least two outside groups and a Republican campaign committee had access to the information posted to the accounts, according to the source. They include American Crossroads, the super PAC founded by Karl Rove; American Action Network, a nonprofit advocacy group, and the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is the campaign arm for the House GOP. [...]

The accounts that CNN reviewed were active in the months ahead of this month's election, which gave Republicans their largest majority in the House since World War II and control of the Senate. They were live until Nov. 3 but deleted minutes after CNN contacted the NRCC with questions. [...]

The tweets captured by screenshots stretched back to July, but the groups have communicated in this manner for four years, the source said. Staffers for each group deleted individual tweets every few months, so only the past few months of data were available when CNN first viewed the Twitter accounts.

Deleting online content minutes after a journalist starts asking questions sends a strong signal that these operatives knew they were doing something shady. Moreover, Philip Bump noticed that the American Action Network was one of the biggest outside spenders in the Congressional race in Florida's 26th district. That race was the apparent focus of at least one now-deleted tweet containing polling data, which showed a very close race in FL-26.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Republicans warning Iowa Facebook users: We'll know who "voted GOP"

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Nov 01, 2014 at 09:09:59 AM CDT

Political parties and outside groups are increasingly using tactics known as "vote-shaming" as a way to get unreliable voters to participate in the midterm election. Evidence suggests that "voter report cards" and similar techniques based on peer pressure can increase turnout.

Judd Legum reported for Think Progress yesterday that the Republican National Committee is taking this approach to a new and deeply dishonest level.

Screenshots of Facebook ads, promoted by the official Facebook page of the Republican National Committee feature an ominous message: "NOTICE: All Voting Is Public." The ad tell voters that "In a few months, Iowa will release the list of individual who voted in this election." Most troublingly, the ad includes an [aerial] view of a neighborhood with checkmarks indicating that "These People Voted GOP."

Click through to view a screenshot of these Facebook ads. Five houses on the same street in what looks like a wealthy suburban area have check marks near a badge reading "THESE PEOPLE VOTED GOP." The one house marked with an "X" is labeled, "DIDN'T VOTE DON'T LET THIS BE YOU."

Anyone can purchase a voter file from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office that shows who has cast ballots in any recent election. But as Republicans know very well, that information does not reveal how any given individual voted. The Facebook ad is crafted carefully: text the RNC posted above its photo refers accurately to how "Iowa will release the list of individuals who voted in this election." But the misleading graphics in the photo ("THESE PEOPLE VOTED GOP") are more eye-catching.

It's not the biggest lie Iowa Republicans have been pushing this year for political gain, but how disgraceful to stoke fears that neighbors may know whether you voted for the "right" candidates. No wonder the Iowa GOP did not respond to Legum's request for comment.

I'm interested to know how many states the RNC is targeting with these Facebook ads.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Rest in peace, Jim Jeffords

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 20:50:00 PM CDT

Former U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont passed away today at the age of 80. When he was first elected to Congress in 1974, New England Republicans were well represented in Washington, DC, and were more progressive than many southern Democrats in the Capitol. By the time he retired in 2006, only a few Congressional Republicans hailed from states to the north and east of New York.

Jeffords will be most remembered for becoming an independent in May 2001, shifting control of the Senate to Democrats just a few months into George W. Bush's presidency. Emily Langer notes in her Washington Post obituary that Jeffords had been out of step with his party on many occasions before then.

In 1981, while serving in the House, he was the only Republican to oppose President Ronald Reagan's tax cuts. Later, as a member of the Senate, Mr. Jeffords opposed President George H.W. Bush's nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court and publicly agonized before supporting the president on the invasion of Iraq during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

During the Democratic administration of President Bill Clinton, Mr. Jeffords broke with his party by backing the president's health-care plan and voting against the articles of impeachment brought against him in connection with the Monica Lewinsky affair.

Even so, leaving the GOP caucus was a difficult choice for Jeffords. You can watch his May 24, 2001 speech here or read the transcript at the Burlington Free Press website. Iowa's senior Senator Chuck Grassley was among the GOP colleagues most hurt by Jeffords' defection. Speaking to reporters on that day in 2001, Jeffords said his meeting with Republican senators had been

the most emotional time that I have ever had in my life, with my closest friends urging me not to do what I was going to do, because it affected their lives, and very substantially. I know, for instance, the chairman of the finance committee has dreamed all his life of being chairman. He is chairman about a couple of weeks, and now he will be no longer the chairman. All the way down the line, I could see the anguish and the disappointment as I talked.

So many elected officials have remained loyal to parties that no longer represent their views. It's hard to redefine one's political identity and jeopardize longtime relationships. Jeffords stands out because he took a painful step for principles he believed in.

Incidentally, Grassley focused on the policy implications of Jeffords' switch, not his personal loss of power. As it happens, he didn't have to wait long for another chance to chair the Senate Finance Committee, from January 2003 through December 2006.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Five good reads on Ronald Reagan and race-based appeals

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jul 24, 2014 at 21:42:35 PM CDT

Republicans have been long been masters at demanding that prominent Democrats apologize for some obscure person's offensive comment. Today the Black Hawk County Republicans used this tried and true technique to score a story by the Des Moines Register's chief politics reporter. In a now-deleted post on the Black Hawk County Democrats' Facebook page, a volunteer shared a graphic comparing Presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Among other things, the graphic described Reagan as a "white supremacist."

Jennifer Jacobs' story leads with a Republican press release and includes an apology from the chair of the Black Hawk County Democrats for this "unfortunate" and "unacceptable" post. However, nowhere does Jacobs hint at why anyone would think to apply this label to Reagan in the first place. Maybe she's playing dumb, or maybe she's too young to remember.

Sad to say, the U.S. has had more than a handful of white supremacist presidents. I don't think Reagan was one of them. But I recommend the following reads on his use of racially charged language to win support for his political agenda.

Ian Haney-Lopez provides a good overview of how Reagan "used coded racial appeals to galvanize white voters."

During the 1980 presidential campaign, Reagan traveled to Philadelphia, Mississippi, site of the most notorious murders of the civil rights movement, to deliver this speech declaring his support for "states' rights." (full transcript) As Bob Herbert wrote many years later, "Everybody watching the 1980 campaign knew what Reagan was signaling at the fair. Whites and blacks, Democrats and Republicans - they all knew. The news media knew. The race haters and the people appalled by racial hatred knew. And Reagan knew."

David Love chronicles Reagan's "troubling legacy" on race. Not only did he oppose the Voting Rights Act of 1965, during the 1980 campaign he criticized that law as "humiliating to the South."

In 1981, Reagan White House aide Lee Atwater gave a remarkably frank interview about the GOP's "Southern strategy." He described how overtly racist political rhetoric evolved into conservative slogans about busing or economic policies that hurt black people more than whites.

Peter Dreier reminds us that Reagan's "indifference to urban problems was legendary" and notes that his administration "failed to prosecute or sanction banks that violated the Community Reinvestment Act, which prohibits racial discrimination in lending."

On a related note, Reagan's riff about "welfare queens" is perhaps the most famous example of how he used racial code words. Josh Levin published a fascinating profile of the con artist who inspired that part of Reagan's stump speech.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Mid-week open thread: Equal rights edition

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 07:05:00 AM CST

Here's an open thread for discussing anything on your mind, Bleeding Heartland readers. Most Iowans I've run into lately are a little down about the seemingly endless cold winter. (Single-digit highs in the Des Moines area today, and the 10-day forecast shows only one day that might reach the 30s.) How about some good news?

Dominoes continue to fall in the march toward equal rights for LGBT Americans. Yesterday Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would have allowed private businesses to discriminate against gay customers because of their religious beliefs. I posted an excerpt from her veto statement below. Before Brewer announced her decision, both of Arizona's Republican U.S. senators, Jeff Flake and John McCain, spoke out against the legislation. Even a few years ago I would not have expected conservative Republicans to take a stand against this kind of discrimination.  

Meanwhile, last summer's U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a key provision of the Defense Against Marriage Act is influencing other judicial rulings. Yesterday a federal judge struck down the Texas ban on same-sex marriage, only two weeks after a similar ruling came down in Virginia. Federal judges struck down Utah's same-sex marriage ban in December and Oklahoma's in January. Eventually the U.S. Supreme Court will need to weigh in on a question it ducked last summer: whether state constitutional amendments on marriage violate equal protection rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

And now for something completely different: "74,476 Reasons You Should Always Get The Bigger Pizza." Granted, the author doesn't take into account any lingering New Year's resolutions.

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Scott Brown and Rick Santorum: same goal, different paths

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 10:18:33 AM CST

Scott Brown and Rick Santorum have a lot in common besides both visiting Iowa this week. Both are former U.S. senators who lost re-election bids. Both are considering running for president in 2016. Both claim humble roots and have called on the Republican Party to do more to appeal to working-class voters.

The two men have very different views on how GOP candidates can accomplish that goal.

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Republicans suddenly see a downside to Reaganism and Citizens United

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 10:06:00 AM CDT

Your unintentional comedy for the week: Republican National Committee and Republican Party of Iowa leaders freaking out over lengthy planned television broadcasts about Hillary Clinton. Republicans now threaten not to co-sponsor any presidential debates with CNN or NBC if those networks move forward with a documentary about the former first lady and secretary of state and a miniseries starring Diane Lane, respectively. The RNC is appalled by the "thinly veiled attempt at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election," while the Iowa GOP is upset by the lack of "journalistic integrity."

What a pathetic display of weakness and hypocrisy.

Under the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling, corporations can make and broadcast movies about political figures, and such activity is not considered "electioneering communication" that must be funded through a registered political action committee (PAC). The Citizens United case arose because of a (very negative) corporate movie about Hillary Clinton. I didn't agree with or welcome Citizens United, but Republicans were happy to treat corporations as people with unlimited free speech in the political sphere. Who are they to tell CNN and NBC not to make money by airing films that could draw a large potential audience?

I'm old enough to remember when prime-time television about controversial political topics had to be balanced with an opposing point of view. But under the GOP's sainted President Ronald Reagan, the Federal Communications Commission voted to "abolish its fairness doctrine on the ground that it unconstitutionally restricts the free-speech rights of broadcast journalists." Democrats didn't like it, but elections have consequences. As a result, CNN and NBC can air films about any political figure as frequently as they believe they can profit from doing so.

P.S. - RNC Chair Reince Priebus and Iowa GOP Chair A.J. Spiker wouldn't be making this threat if they believed in GOP talking points about Benghazi or Hillary being "old news."  

Discuss :: (10 Comments)

Hillary Clinton as "old news"? Not likely

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 02, 2013 at 06:40:00 AM CDT

Ronald Reagan was 69 years old in 1980 and 73 years old in 1984. George H.W. Bush was 64 when first elected president and 68 when he ran for re-election. John McCain was 71 when nominated for president in 2008. Yet Republican politicians and strategists appear to believe that Hillary Clinton's age and long time on the national stage will be potent factors working against her possible candidacy in 2016. One experienced GOP campaign hand even believes Democrats will raise concerns about Clinton's age before Republicans will.

Dream on.  

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GOP "autopsy" discussion thread (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 16:40:00 PM CDT

The Republican National Committee released a so-called "autopsy" on the 2012 election results today. You can read the full report on the "Growth and Opportunity Project" here. I've posted a few excerpts, links and thoughts after the jump.

Any comments about the GOP's rebuilding and rebranding effort are welcome in this thread.

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Rob Portman: New marriage equality hero?

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 15:10:00 PM CDT

Yesterday Rob Portman of Ohio became the first sitting Republican U.S. senator to endorse marriage equality. In a guest editorial for the Columbus Post-Dispatch, Portman explained that he reconsidered his opinion on gay marriage after his son came out of the closet.

As a rule, I welcome any public support for marriage equality from Republican ranks. It's nice to see a current elected official join the long list of campaign professionals and former GOP office-holders who support civil marriage rights. Still, something about Portman's comments yesterday rubbed me the wrong way.

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Weekend open thread: Frightening news

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 10:42:06 AM CST

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

To get the conversation started, I've posted some scary or disturbing news after the jump.

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Weekend open thread: Everything but the Harkin news

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 07:10:00 AM CST

Busy weekend in Iowa politics! I'm continuing to update the post on Tom Harkin retiring with reactions and speculation about possible Senate candidates. Here's an open thread for anything else on your mind.

A bunch of links that caught my eye this week are after the jump.

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Weekend open thread: Kerry to Secretary of State edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:40:00 AM CST

Catching up on news from this week, UN Ambassador Susan Rice withdrew her name from consideration for secretary of state in President Barack Obama's cabinet. Republicans had been hounding her for weeks over public comments she made soon after the September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya.

CNN reported yesterday that as expected, Obama will now name Senator John Kerry to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. I had concerns about Rice in that job because of her financial interest in seeing the Keystone XL oil pipeline completed. But it was phenomenally stupid for Obama administration officials to leak that Kerry was plan B for secretary of state. That gave Senate Republicans every incentive to throw a temper tantrum over Rice. A special election in Massachusetts means just-defeated Scott Brown has a chance to come back to the Senate. Surprise, surprise: Republicans are going to confirm Kerry with no problems.

Although Obama hasn't caved yet on letting some of the Bush tax cuts expire, the president still has a bad habit of rewarding people who don't deal with him in good faith. Senate Republicans had no problem confirming Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state in 2005, even though she had been national security adviser at the time the Bush administration failed to anticipate and prevent the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington. Obama acknowledged what he called "unfair and misleading attacks" on Susan Rice, yet he is giving Republicans a chance to narrow the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate anyway.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

Discuss :: (6 Comments)

I really don't believe that she'll stick to that position

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 18:08:32 PM CST

Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, asked by Barbara Walters about running for president:

"I've said I really don't believe that that's something I will do again," says Clinton. "I am so grateful I had the experience of doing it before. I think there are lots of ways to serve, so I'll continue to serve." [...]

Clinton adds, "I just want to see what else is out there. I've been doing this incredibly important and satisfying work in Washington as I say for 20 years. I want to get out and spend some time looking at what else I can do to contribute."

That's the least convincing non-denial denial I've heard in a while. The next Democratic presidential nomination is Hillary Clinton's if she wants it. I don't see her turning her back on that chance.

UPDATE: I am in rare agreement with Newt Gingrich: if Hillary runs for president in 2016, "the Republican party today is incapable of competing at that level."

Discuss :: (6 Comments)

Some people never learn

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 19:15:00 PM CST

The Russian expression "stepping on the same rake twice" means to repeat a stupid mistake without learning from the adverse consequences. That idiom came to mind when I saw that the Club for Growth and Senator Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund are already on the warpath against a strong Republican candidate in one of the 2014 U.S. Senate races.
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Steve King ready to battle immigration reform, Obama's executive order

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 08:05:00 AM CST

Days after winning a sixth term in the U.S. House, Representative Steve King is ready to battle fellow Republicans in the House and Senate who are ready to deal on comprehensive immigration reform. He also confirmed that he will follow through on a lawsuit challenging President Barack Obama's executive order to block deportations of some undocumented immigrants, who were brought to this country as children.
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Final Republican convention discussion thread: Clint Eastwood and Mitt Romney

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 09:55:00 AM CDT

Mitt Romney formally accepted the Republican Party's nomination for president last night. A surprise appearance by actor and director Clint Eastwood overshadowed Romney's speech.
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Republican National Convention links and discussion thread (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 29, 2012 at 09:20:00 AM CDT

Normally I am a political party convention junkie, but I haven't watched any of the Republican National Convention so far. Judging from media accounts of the prime-time program, it seems that Ann Romney gave a decent speech, dwelling on the theme of love, after which New Jersey Governor Chris Christie talked mostly about himself and said Republicans need to seek respect, not love. He also praised presidential nominee Mitt Romney for being willing to tell the hard truths about how to fix the deficit, but naturally, didn't share any details on those tough budget cuts to come.

Any comments related to the GOP convention are welcome in this thread. Many links and news stories related to the Iowa delegation are after the jump.

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