I think Newt Gingrich's thunder was stolen this week.
Rand Paul is more sophisticated about this than many, many people who fill the airwaves to talk about it. And that's why I defend him, even though, given his decision on "Meet the Press" today, he no longer wants to talk about this specific issue.
"Rand did Good Morning America today, set the record straight, and now we are done talking about it," said campaign spokesman Jesse Benton. "No more national interviews on the topic."
The article is an impressive mix of score-settling ("From President Obama on down, they rushed to the microphone after [the law] was enacted to hyperventilate about about an impending police state in Arizona.") and facts about the law.
No questions about his more out-there views. Before this Tuesday, Paul had no potential power -- he was just a libertarian critical of the GOP, and as Matt Welch says, "no one loves libertarians more–and more shallowly–than the major party out of power." But on Tuesday night, Paul became a potential senator.
In their first year, PHC-affiliated state legislators have emerged as the leading lights of the burgeoning states’ rights scene. Ken Ivory, a Utah PHC candidate who knocked out a long-time Republican state representative at the recent GOP convention, was a keynote speaker at first annual Tenth Amendment Summit in Atlanta. Through such events, the PHC has established working contacts with state legislators in 30 states, from North Dakota to New York.
The awkward part of this? Rexroad is a managing partner of Meridian Pacific, Inc., a strategy firm hired by... Carly Fiorina. While Rexroad doesn't work on that account, the Fiorina campaign paid Meridian Pacific $31,509.88 for consulting and travel in the first quarter of 2010. Reached over the phone, Rexroad stood by the post and stuck up for his colleagues working for Fiorina.
t was a week of mixed news for Republicans, especially in the polls conducted by Rasmussen Reports. The independent polling group, which uses auto-dialing surveys instead of live surveys -- and is thus able to crank out lots of data -- had the first poll showing Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Penn.) leapfrogging Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate race, and a poll showing Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal mostly weathering the storm over his Vietnam service scandal.
Yesterday, the Center for America Progress Action Fund's reported blog ThinkProgress posted a quick video of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) -- approached by blogger Lee Fang -- responding to the Rand Paul Civil Rights Act flap. I linked it, as did other bloggers, but I don't think any of us noted the discrepancy between the video and the transcript. Here's the video.
"The problem with extending statehood to some, to any other country, is that then, the infrastructure requirements -- everything that we have under our laws, regulations, then applies to them. The infrastructure needs, I have read, cost an enormous amount of money. It is not time to grow the United States."
So he's known for two things -- holding a sign with a racial slur, then lying about it. It's sometimes difficult for reporters to discriminate between self-promoting tea partyers and the people really driving the movement, but it's not that difficult.
Greg Sargent got Paul's campaign to say that the candidate did not really oppose government action to prevent discrimination in private businesses.
"It seems like Rand Paul has been espousing this same point -- it seems like he was espousing this in 2002, he was espousing it a few weeks ago, and he was espousing it last night," said Jack Conway. "If he's trying to backtrack now, he's just doing a Washington flip-flop."
I'll be at the top of MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews" tonight, discussing the Rand Paul story with Errol Louis of the New York Daily News....
Rand Paul in '02: I may not like it, but 'a free society' will allow 'hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin'
"A free society will abide unofficial, private discrimination," wrote Paul, "even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin. It is unenlightened and ill-informed to promote discrimination against individuals based on the color of their skin. It is likewise unwise to forget the distinction between public (taxpayer-financed) and private entities. A society that forgets this distinction will ultimately lose the freedoms that have evolved and historically been attached to private ownership."
Democrats are hurling themselves at telephones and cameras to denounce Rand Paul's horrible, terrible, no-good stance on the Civil Rights Act. Republicans are defending Paul, if you push them on it.
"The media, playing the useful idiot of the left, is now in a full tizzy that Rand Paul would have opposed the Civil Rights Act in 1964. Not once did he say that. In fact, in the entire transcript, the only thing Rand Paul said he was opposed to was institutional racism and he favored the Civil Rights Act’s eradication of institutional racism."
Clint Didier is a tea party activist and former football player who, as he's run for Senate, has fired early shots against Dino Rossi, the candidate national Republicans are struggling to recruit for a run against Sen. Patty Murray. Rossi has annoyed some Republicans by taking so long to decide on whether he'll enter the race. And now that indecision has led to the most powerful endorsement in the GOP going, for now, to a tea party candidate.
I can't decide whether Paul has benefited or been hurt by the change of focus from the original story -- whether his opposition to basically any federal intervention in business practices meant he opposed the Americans With Disabilities Act, opposed FDA regulation of food, etc. Instead, this has become a fairly tired "is candidate a racist or isn't he?" story -- one that Paul thinks he can deflect.
That said, expect to keep hearing about this as Republicans see some vulnerability in Sestak's unwillingness to stay on a script.
This is only one Rasmussen poll, and unless a candidate scores 50 percent of the vote he or she goes to a run-off, but what would a Haley win mean? It would be a massive victory for the conservative grass roots, especially RedState, which have promoted her endlessly. And it would be a boon for Mitt Romney, who won Haley's endorsement in 2008, endorsed her this year, and would obviously be expected to win it in 2012.
Yesterday I got an e-mail from CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, blasting Williams for calling Allah a "monkey god," based on stories from TPM and Media Matters that linked to Williams's blog. And this raises a question that comes up more and more as I cover this stuff. If Williams says, explicitly, that he want to say controversial things to get more attention, are liberal web sites and CAIR aiding him by writing about the controversial things he says? Because he's been doing this for a year, and his punishment has been multiple media embeds on the Tea Party Express, frequent guest spots on cable TV, money flowing into the group's PAC for House and Senate candidate -- basically, all good things. At some point you have to ask whether liberals are being played for suckers by reporting on every "outrage" from a low-profile figure who wants to outrage them.
In the final week before the Democratic primary, when it became clear that Sestak had an easier path to victory than Specter, there was a notable shift in the Toomey campaign's attacks and e-mails to reporters. The new threat, they said, was "Joe Says-Tax." But it was clear that the general election message against a mainstream Democrat in a blue state had not yet been figured out, and there's some worry that the first post-primary poll will show Sestak bouncing into a lead.
"Which is worth keeping in mind come May 20 and every day after. Because the cause of free expression, just like the misguided, pathetic, and ultimately-doomed-to-fail attempts to shut it down, is a long, hard slog that begins again every day the sun rises."
"As a result of National Review’s above-the-fray philosophizing," wrote Edwards, "and Barry Goldwater’s vote, on constitutional grounds, against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the albatross of racism was hung around the neck of American conservatism and remained there for decades and even to the present."
W. James Antle III has Rand Paul fever.
Earlier today, I caught some of a House-Senate GOP forum on the economic crisis in Greece -- specifically, why Americans should oppose an IMF bailout of the country and how its problems augured poorly for Democratic plans to expand the welfare state.
Inevitable, really -- the Alabama Ag Commissioner candidate's ad gets the Funny or Die treatment.
"Was it better for the Democrats to have the MoveOn people join them? Yes, obviously. People like me were disgusted by them, and they did some things that were disgusting, like the General Petraeus ad. At the end of the day, in American politics, you can't have a big, energetic grass-roots movement without having a lot of elements of it that you're not going to personally like or agree with. But to be fair to Rand Paul, there's a lot of distance between Rand Paul's agenda, which isn't exactly mine, and the caricature of nativism or isolationism."
Wednesday was May 12; Souder did not announce his resignation until May 18. That's a rather long gap when you consider that Republicans have kept up pressure on Democrats for not acting more quickly on rumors and reports of former Rep. Eric Massa's (D-N.Y.) sexual harassment of staffers. And it reveals that the rumors about Souder had been churning for a while, but were tough to pin down.
In the full version, below the jump, Blumenthal actually clarifies that he didn't go to Vietnam. "I really want to add my words of thanks as someone who served in the military, during the Vietnam era, in the Marine Corps," says Blumenthal as he starts the speech. It's only later that he makes the "in Vietnam" conflation that was posted by the New York Times. (Also, while the Times denies that the McMahon campaign fed the story, it's intriguing that the clip posted by the newspaper is identically edited to the short version posted by McMahon.)
You can do it here, in a Washington Post live chat, starting at 2 p.m.
One other sub-story: Republicans are annoyed that Burns' fealty to some conservative stances, like the Fair Tax (which would replace the income tax with a national sales tax) and the Americans for Tax Reform pledge to oppose all tax increases, became fodder for Democratic attack ads. As they build an army of candidates who, in many cases, are powered by the tea party movement and running to the right, it's an ongoing concern.
With Specter no longer facing the constraints of seeking reelection, the former prosecutor is free to go out in a blaze of glory by sticking to principle and demanding that Kagan fill in the many holes in her notoriously thin record. Along with senators like Blanche Lincoln and Ben Nelson, Specter joins the ranks of Democrats most likely to vote against Kagan’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
"I didn't get in this race to win an election," he said. "I got in this race to play my small part in helping to save this country. This isn't a loss -- this is a setback."
In Arkansas's 1st district, restaurant owner Rick Crawford rolled past Princella Smith, an African-American Hill staffer who'd racked up support from establishment conservatives and appeared in multiple stories about the crop of 2010 black Republican candidates. Crawford won 72.8% of the vote to 27.2% for Smith.
Indeed, the defeat of Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) would seem to back up Grover Norquist's argument that voters in other elections are not paying tribute to politicians who can deliver pork.
In his corner -- the presence of a Libertarian Party candidate, Demo Agoris, who's pulling around 2% of the vote. In my many conversations with GOP and tea party activists, Agoris's name never even came up, which is a bit of a surprise now. Clearly, the path to a Democratic victory in a district like this is easier if the Democrat only needs 49.1% to win. And Democrats cautiously inform me that the early results are what Critz needs to get to a narrow win.
If Democrats are overly confident about their chances against Todd Lally, they should remember that Rep. Jon Yarmuth himself blew past a lackluster DCCC-endorsed candidate in 2006, and went on to surprise election-watchers by winning the seat.
I'm reminded of George Will's quip about Ronald Reagan's 1980 presidential victory being a delayed win for Barry Goldwater. Ron Paul won the GOP nomination in 2008 -- it just took two years to count the votes.
With less than 10 percent of precincts counted in Kentucky, we know only a few things about the shape of the state's Senate Republican primary, and none are good for Trey Grayson.
No "last call" today, because the news isn't really stopping tonight. My colleagues have the info on what to look for state by state, and our reporters are embedded to cover the results in Pennsylvania's 12 as well as the primaries in Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Arkansas. Here's what I'm looking at.
Neil Cavuto says: "Each time and every time we have invited Rand Paul, we have invited Trey Grayson. Each time, every time. I demand it. At least three times on this show this year. It's our policy. We call everybody. And that includes today. Not to mention the open invitation we have to Mr. Grayson to appear tonight on FBN, or any time with us, on Fox Business or Fox News. So we're calling him. He's avoiding us. The invitation is still open. Our phone lines are still open. And I want you to understand we always call everybody and take on all comers."
One Rand Paul source tells me that the sense in their camp is that Trey Grayson has "lost it."
"Those of us who have worked with Mark over the years know him to be a kind and thoughtful legislator," CWA president Penny Nance said in a statement. "If Mark Souder is capable of sexual misconduct, it could happen to anyone. The frat house environment on Capitol Hill does nothing to encourage accountability."
"I said, there are a bunch of primaries going on today, and tomorrow we'll have an opportunity to talk about the results."
Cornyn declined to wade into the back-and-forth between Blumenthal and his two possible GOP rivals over whether one of them pushed the story to the press.
Voters in Rep. Eric Cantor's first YouCut contest went after the second-priciest item on the chopping back: a welfare emergency fund paid for by the stimulus bill. Here's how it was described to voters.
"I don't want to interrupt you, I just wanted to say, 'Hi, I'm running for Congress,' " Democrat Mark Critz told two men in trucker hats and work shirts, who took his hand politely. Both Democrats, one acknowledged later he'd be voting for Republican Tim Burns and the other said he was undecided because of his displeasure with the Democrats' support of the health-care overhaul.
Tracy Jackson conducted 39 short interviews with Rep. Mark Souder, on subjects related to his work in Congress, his experience changing committee assignments, and, most entertainingly, his work on abstinence education. Then, just as quickly as they hit YouTube -- no more videos with Jackson.
But the Class can redeem itself this year, somewhat. Former Rep. Mark Neumann (R-Wisc.) and Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) are trying to join Sanford in the move up to a governor's office, while Rep. Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) try to join the Senate.
What's this mean for the GOP? Indiana Republicans tell me they can pick a replacement at their June 18 and June 19 convention in Indianapolis, and because Souder barely survived a primary challenge this month, there will be no shortage of candidates angling to replace him. Democrats actually have a strong candidate for the seat in Tom Hayhurst, who ran only 8 points behind Souder in a 2006 challenge.
Burns has coupled a solid general election-style message with outreach to national conservatives.
Up to now, even though McMahon has led in the polls, this was seen as a fairly hopeless campaign -- it was a surprise that former Congressman Rob Simmons and McMahon stayed in the race for the right to be beaten by Blumenthal, when they'd entered it to beat the unpopular Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.). Last night, Republican strategists were still talking up Simmons, who actually is a veteran. But McMahon's campaign gets a burst of credibility by damaging the previously unsinkable Blumenthal.
Michele Bachmann has an unfortunate photo op.
So it's a battle of fairly green tea party activists and an NRCC that has not won a Democratic seat since, I think, 2001, against union and DCCC GOTV. That explains the memo released to the press by the DCCC, titled "PA-12 is the Only Republican Vs. Democratic Election Tomorrow." Read it after the jump.
There's very little attention being paid to primaries in competitive House districts Tuesday, but we should be on the lookout for candidates who sneak through their primaries despite being totally disconnected from their party's base -- a pretty clear sign of voter fatigue in that party.
I think this is largely true, but the timing was important. Ganji's Bush quote came very early in the speech. It was unclear, to anyone unfamiliar with his thinking, whether he'd go on to praise American foreign policy or not. He went on to criticize American foreign policy, specifically as it affects the Middle East, and he got no applause. How much can we read into the reaction of a crowd from the sound of applause? Usually, a great deal, and the conversations I had after the speech bolstered my sense that Ganji's brutally frank talk surprised many people in the room. But Sanchez's caveat is worth considering.
Tea Party Nation announces that Lou Dobbs, the former CNN and current radio host, will be the big star at its National Tea Party Unity Convention in July in Las Vegas.
Utah's primary is June 22, and simply by talking this way, Bennett is encouraging some write-in votes for himself.
The story simply didn't have legs as long as it looked like Specter was rolling to a win. But now? I've posted the video and transcript below the fold. Tell me if you think Issa lays a glove on Holder.
For some reason, when Fiorina got into this race, a number of conservatives I spoke to assumed she was socially liberal.
This comes not from a penny ante blogger but from a former State Department staffer, former member of the United States Institute of Peace (holding a recess appointment after being filibustered by Democrats), and former adviser to Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign. Just wow.
And he has repeatedly been frazzled by Paul, going overboard to argue that his libertarian stances will disappoint social conservatives -- a strategy that bottomed out when a Grayson ally misled Dr. James Dobson on what Paul's abortion stance really was, something that so irritated Dobson that he eventually endorsed Paul.
Voice actor Lance Baxter, who gained some kind of infamy after leaving an angry voicemail at the offices of FreedomWorks and subsequently losing his contract with GEICO, goes for his 15th minute of fame:
Once the obvious frontrunner in the GOP primary, Cox suffered a bit after rival Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) hit the Obama administration over its handling of the failed Christmas Day terror attempt in Detroit. But Cox has battled back by, as the ad puts it, "leading the fight" for an anti-health care lawsuit and hitting Hoekstra over his 2008 vote for TARP.
Arnold also reports that Rand Paul will be on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, although obviously the network won't have Paul on if Grayson pulls what at this point would be a big political upset.
I don't think this issue has legs -- clearly, as most of us expected, the "Kagan banned the military from Harvard" line is the one conservatives have loaded their cannons with. But the path from Roberts to Kagan is riddled with amusing little double standards.
Stacy McCain even speculates that "Republican consultants are conspiring feverishly" to produce more such ads in order to "cross the Rachel Maddow Threshold and get mocked by liberals."