Posts Tagged Arkansas

Cruz and Rubio Plot Trump Downfall in CNN GOP Presidential Debate

marco rubio and Ted cruz in iowaOutside Challenger Donald Trump’s grasp on the Republican presidential nomination growing increasingly stronger, the billionaire businessman’s rivals get one more chance to challenge the GOP front-runner on the debate stage before next week’s slate of Super Tuesday contests.

The situation is likely more dire for the other GOP candidates than they’d like voters to believe. Yet Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have so far shown little willingness to take on the former reality television star when the national spotlight shines brightest.

That could change Thursday night in Houston.

“The vast and overwhelming majority of Republicans do not want Donald Trump to be our nominee,” Rubio told NBC, suggesting that Trump is winning only because the other candidates are splitting up the majority of the electorate.

For his part, the New York billionaire predicted the relative civility between Rubio and himself is about to disappear. The ninth Republican debate of the presidential campaign will take place just a few days before 11 states hold GOP elections that will either cement Trump’s dominance, or let his rivals slow his march to his party’s presidential nomination.

Both Cruz and Rubio know full-well that the strategy of ignoring the front-runner is not working. How they tackle Trump remains to be seen, to date, Trump has proved largely immune to traditional political attacks, something he reveled in on Wednesday. “I seem to have a very good track record when to do go after me,” the New York real estate mogul told NBC.

The task is made more complicated by the shift from single-state campaigns to a new phase of the race, where the candidates must compete across several states at the same time. Next Tuesday features voting in a mix of states that include Texas, Georgia, Arkansas, Massachusetts and Virginia, with more to come in the weeks after.

Trump won Nevada’s presidential caucuses on Tuesday with more than 45 percent of the vote, scoring his third consecutive primary victory in dominant fashion. Rubio edged out Cruz for runner-up for the second consecutive race, with Ohio Gov. John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson far off the pace.

As they seek to become the Trump alternative, Cruz and Rubio have significant liabilities of their own.

Cruz comes into the debate at the weakest point of his presidential campaign after a staff shakeup and three consecutive third-place finishes.

The Texas senator ousted a senior aide on Monday after the aide promoted an inaccurate news report that Rubio had condemned the Bible during a chance encounter with Cruz’s father. The aide’s dismissal helps legitimize Trump and Rubio charges that Cruz has been running an unethical campaign.

Even while vulnerable, Cruz signaled an aggressive stance heading into the debate. He lashed out at Trump and Rubio as “Washington dealmakers” while talking to reporters in Houston on Wednesday. Rubio, Cruz said, had worked with Democrats to craft an immigration overhaul, while Trump has given money to Democrats and backed their priorities at times in recent years.

“I don’t think the people of Texas and I don’t think the people of this country want another Washington dealmaker to go and surrender more to the Democrats, giving in to the failed liberal agenda,” Cruz said.

Rubio, meanwhile, is just one debate removed from a primetime meltdown. The Florida senator repeated himself several times in a New Hampshire debate less than three weeks ago, triggering what he now calls “the New Hampshire disappointment.” He avoided a similar mistake in the subsequent debate, but critics in both parties will be laser-focused on anything that suggests the 44-year-old legislator isn’t sufficiently prepared to move into the White House.

But Rubio, who has been reluctant to publicly talk about Trump by name, stepped up his aggressiveness Wednesday.

In an appearance in Houston, he criticized Trump for what Rubio said was a failure to strongly oppose the federal health care law derided by critics as “Obamacare.”

The Florida senator also said “the front-runner in this race, Donald Trump, has said he’s not going to take sides on Israel versus the Palestinians because he wants to be an honest broker.”

Rubio said there was no such thing “because the Palestinian Authority, which has strong links to terror, they teach little kids, 5-year-olds, that it’s a glorious thing to kill Jews.” He also named Trump in accusing him of thinking “parts of Obamacare are pretty good” drawing boos.

Emboldened by the recent departure of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush from the race, Rubio has fresh momentum after two consecutive second-place finishes. His team is convinced they must dispatch with Cruz before turning their full attention to taking down Trump.

Rubio also said that he’d respond to Trump and Cruz if attacked in Thursday’s debate, but that, “I didn’t run for office to tear up other Republicans.”

And after eight debates, it’s unclear what sort of attacks could work against Trump. As his resume would suggest, he’s proven to be a master showman on primetime television.


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Mike Huckabee To Launch Presidential Bid In Home Town Of Hope

Former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee speaks during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, TennesseeFormer Governor Mike Huckabee plans to announce his candidacy for president Tuesday in the Arkansas town that he and Bill Clinton both call home, the former governor is not shying away from the comparisons as he promises to run as a different kind of Man from Hope.

The former governor of Arkansas, 59, became a national figure by staging an upset win in Iowa’s kickoff nominating contest during his 2008 presidential bid.

This time around other Republicans with national recognition have emerged as rivals for the role of leading crusader on social issues such as abortion rights and gay marriage.

It is not a mistake that Huckabee has chosen to launch his latest presidential campaign in Hope.

“I obviously can’t give you a preview of the speech, but the backdrop is important because that’s where he grew up. It’s home. It’s where his friends live. It’s where he graduated from high school. It’s where his wife is from,” Huckabee spokesman Hogan Gidley said.

Beginning his run in Hope also speaks to who Huckabee is not, specifically that he is not like the town’s more famous son.

“I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t use it as a way to contrast himself with the Clinton machine. I think he can use it to emphasize himself as the ‘un-Clinton,'” Jay Barth, a political science professor at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, said.

Huckabee says he has some experience that his rivals lack: How to fight Democratic favorite Hillary Clinton. He encountered the remnants of the Democratic Clinton political machine during a decade as Arkansas governor, a job that Bill Clinton had held before moving to the White House in 1993.

“I hear some people say we’re going to have to have someone who knows how to fight. I’ll tell you what, if you battled the political machine that I battled, you know how to fight,” Huckabee told Republican activists in New Hampshire last month.

Huckabee will make his announcement in Hope, Arkansas, which both he and Bill Clinton call their hometown.

Huckabee is perhaps the Republican presidential hopeful who speaks most clearly about the economy to working Americans.

“I put America and its workers first. Too many in the political class put Wall Street and Washington elites first. They aren’t fighting for American workers,” Huckabee wrote in an op-ed in Iowa’s Des Moines Register in March.

He is at his most strident when combating what he sees as immorality.

He attacked one of the entertainment world’s most famous couples, Beyonce and Jay Z, in his new book “God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy.”

In an ever-growing field of Republican candidates, Huckabee finds himself in the second-tier, according to the RealClearPolitics average of recent primary polls.

In a recent CNN/ORC poll, Huckabee is in fourth place with 9 percent support.


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President Obama Stumps for Malloy and Wolf in Midterm Last Chance Saloon

Obama StumpsPresident Barack Obama wrapped up his campaigning in the 2014 elections by encouraging Democrats to cast ballots in governors’ races in Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

Obama was interrupted multiple times by protesters upset over deportations of undocumented immigrants at a rally yesterday for Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy in Bridgeport. He then stumped for Tom Wolf, the Democrat running for governor in Pennsylvania.

The president worked to highlight the U.S. economic recovery and to cast Republicans as obstructionists.

“The biggest corporations, they don’t need another champion. The wealthiest Americans don’t need another champion. You do,” Obama said to a crowd of 1,900 at a Bridgeport, Connecticut high school. “But none of that happens unless you go vote.”

Obama’s appearances capped a two-week sprint in which the president, whose approval ratings in polls have been around 42 percent, steered clear of the competitive U.S. Senate contests that could give Republicans control of that chamber and shape his final two years in office.

Obama has concentrated his limited campaign appearances on governor’s races in states he won in 2008 and 2012.

Malloy faces a tough challenge from businessman Tom Foley, a Republican he narrowly defeated in 2010. In the past week, Obama has also campaigned with Democrats running for governor in Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin and Rhode Island.

In Connecticut, Obama urged Democrats, who typically vote at a lower rate in midterms than during presidential elections – – to get their friends and family members to the polls. Malloy, 59, is in a dead heat with Foley, 62, according to an average of recent polls by

“In America, we have an obligation to make sure that everyone shares in our success,” Malloy said at the rally. “Not just the wealthy or those who have made their own wealth.”

Obama focused on middle-class issues, casting Republicans as advocates for the wealthy — a theme Malloy and other Democrats have used this year. In ads, Malloy has featured Foley’s 116-foot yacht, calling the private-equity firm founder out-of-touch with ordinary citizens.

Obama had to stop his speech at least five times as protesters upset about deportations and a lack of immigration legislation held signs and shouted at the president.

“I am sympathetic to those who are concerned about immigration,” Obama said after one of the protesters was ushered out of the high school gym. “That’s why we fought for immigration reform. It’s the other party that’s blocked it.”

While Obama has pressed for a new U.S. immigration law that would provide a path to citizenship for some of those in the country illegally and deferred deportations for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, his administration has stepped up deporting undocumented immigrants. Deportations averaged 1,000 a day last year, more than under any other president.

Immigration advocates are pressing Obama to keep his promise to use executive authority on immigration and expand the number of people eligible for deferred deportations.

In Pennsylvania, Obama stumped with Wolf, a businessman who has spent $10 million of his own money on his campaign. Wolf gives Democrats their best chance to oust a Republican governor, as incumbent Tom Corbett trails in polls.

Wolf “has a different vision for what this country should look like,” Obama told a crowd of about 5,500 at a rally at Temple University in Philadelphia. “Tom wants to grow Pennsylvania’s economy from the middle-class out.”

The Democrats’ 55-45 control of the Senate is in jeopardy, polls indicate. Democratic candidates are trailing in Montana, West Virginia and South Dakota and incumbents in varying degrees of trouble in Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, North Carolina and New Hampshire.

Democrats are vying to win Republican-held seats in Kentucky and Georgia, and independent candidate Greg Orman is running close to Kansas Republican Pat Roberts.

For his flight home to Washington from Philadelphia last night, Obama switched to a backup Air Force jet because of a mechanical malfunction. Deputy press secretary Eric Schultz described it as a “minor mechanical problem with one of the aircraft’s flaps.” Obama’s schedule wasn’t affected.


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President Obama Proving to be Democrats Weakness Ahead of Midterm Elections

Obama midOne month before Americans elect their representatives in Congress and state offices, Republicans have a clear if narrow edge as they pick away at President Barack Obama’s tarnished record.

The commander-in-chief’s critics have painted Obama as the orchestrator of big government, economic malaise, executive overreach and foreign policy fumbles,  a legacy they hope will help them take back the Senate from Democrats and expand the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.

Overcoming the Democrats’ 55-45 Senate advantage is a tall order, but most analysts and election modelers agree that Republicans have a better than even chance of gaining the six net seats necessary to flip the chamber, and make misery out of Obama’s final two years in office.

“I put it at 60 percent,” one political forecaster said,  he and others point to Obama’s underwater approval numbers as a key drag on Democrats, many of whom are loath to hit the campaign trail with an unpopular leader.

Presidential support has dipped so low that it will be “an incredibly difficult climb for the Democratic candidates” running for re-election in battleground states, said Neil Newhouse, a Republican pollster who did analysis for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.

Democrats have already conceded three Senate seats, in Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia, leaving Republicans just three shy of their goal.

Analysts see Republicans potentially snatching seats in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa and Louisiana as well. If Democrats don’t hold some of those states, they will lose the Senate.

“It’s on a knife’s edge,” said veteran Democratic strategist Stanley Greenberg.

With Obama challenged by a swarm of crises abroad, Republicans are hammering him as a feckless leader exposing the nation to danger.

In a flood of advertising and speeches, Republicans have unloaded on Obama policies, arguing that he has infringed on constitutional freedoms and religious liberties while coming up short on economic recovery.

“Many have labeled this mid-term election a referendum on the policies of President Obama. In many ways it is,” Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus told a Washington audience Thursday.

“The federal government has boundaries, and when it oversteps them, it’s encroaching on your personal freedom and your God-given liberty to decide what’s right for your own life.”

Swing state Democrats have scrambled to avoid painting this year’s election as a referendum on Obama, saying it is about them and their challengers.

In the Iowa heartland, House Democrat Bruce Braley, in a tight Senate race against Republican Joni Ernst, blasted her for pushing a “radical Tea Party agenda” that fails the working class, women, and the environment.

But Obama gave fodder to Republicans who have savaged him for his policies. At an economic speech Thursday in Chicago, he stressed that while he is not on the ballot in November, “make no mistake: These policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them.”

Obama nonetheless learned good news Friday when officials reported unemployment dipped to 5.9 percent, its lowest level since 2008.

Republicans across the board are pushing more jobs and tighter border security, but they often distil their frustration into a single, vexing policy: Obamacare.

The Affordable Care Act marked a historic reform bid by Obama, but Republicans took it as socialized medicine that drowns working families in costlier premiums.

“It has done everything but make health care affordable,” according to an ad by Arkansas congressman Tom Cotton, who is challenging Senator Mark Pryor and accused his rival of casting the “deciding vote” for Obamacare.

While Newhouse conceded Obamacare was no longer considered a game changer, he noted that some Republicans were still using it as a campaign dog whistle to rally conservatives.

“Obamacare is shorthand for big government bureaucracy, government takeover of health care,” Newhouse said.

But Greenberg branded the Republican assault on the Affordable Care Act as weak, especially because many constituents see benefits to the reform.

“It’s not big enough to decide elections,” he said.

With Ukraine, Iraq, Syria and Ebola on the boil, foreign policy has emerged this year in a way rarely seen in the mid-terms.

“The way it’s effecting the election is whether he is seen to be a good president, and foreign policy is turning out to be a much bigger factor in that than we had expected,” Greenberg said.

Sensing the danger of a Democratic majority slipping away in the Senate, popular former president Bill Clinton was slated to return Monday to his home state of Arkansas to rally the faithful.



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Obama Gets Backlash From Both Sides Over Delayed Immigration Action

Obama immigrationPresident Barack Obama postponed executive action on immigration, but Democrats want voters to know the delay isn’t his fault.

Blame Republicans instead, according to the latest Democratic latest talking points.

Obama had weighed action on immigration including moves that could allow a path to legal status for millions of undocumented workers, after congressional action on the issue stalled.

The President took the brunt of criticism immediately after the White House announced Saturday he is delaying any unitary action on immigration until after November’s midterm elections.

He faced accusations of betrayal, bitter disappointment and frustration.

And those are from the President’s allies, Democrats and immigration reform proponents who lead communities that voted overwhelmingly for Obama in 2008 and 2012.

Since the weekend, Democrats began targeting House Republicans.

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-California, said Monday ” that she is frustrated with the President but added: “The real reality is that these House Republicans have refused to work with us, to move a bill that would solve this issue.”

Last year, the Senate passed a comprehensive bill that would provide a path to legal status for millions of long-term undocumented immigrants while also strengthening border security.

House Republicans refused to consider the Senate bill, which Obama and Democrats claim would pass if put to a vote.

Rep. Tony Cardenas, also a California Democrat, said the “first blame” should lie with Congress for not doing taking up immigration legislation.

“Now the President is forced to have to take a measure like executive actions,” Cardenas said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The President’s delayed action could protect Democrats in competitive Senate races in conservative states like Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky and North Carolina. By focusing blame on Republicans, Democrats likely are trying to placate anger in immigrant communities.

But the relationship between those communities and the administration is strained. Immigration advocates are pointing to the 60,000 family members that could be deported before the end of the year as an unfortunate outcome of the President’s political calculation.

“Republicans killed the best chance in a generation to enact landmark immigration reform legislation,” Frank Sharry, executive director of immigration reform group America’s Voice said in a statement.

“President Obama, however, has deported more than 2 million people and failed to deliver on promises of reform, including most recently when he publicly promised to take executive action by the end of the summer.”

There’s no question, Republicans are still blaming the President.



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Romney’s Political Renaissance Continues

Mitt RomneyMitt Romney’s on the campaign trail in West Virginia, North Carolina, and Arkansas the next three days, helping fellow Republicans running for office this year. For the 2012 GOP nominee, this week’s travel is the latest example of Romney’s political resurrection from presidential election loser to respected party rainmaker and elder statesman.

“Governor Romney is a tremendous leader for the Republican Party. His ability to skewer President Obama and his administration’s flawed and failed policies are unparalleled, as time and again he has been proven correct on a host of 2012 campaign issues,” said veteran New Hampshire GOP consultant Jim Merrill, who was a top adviser to Romney in the Granite State in the 2008 and 2012 campaigns.

“As a seasoned campaigner, proven fundraiser and beloved elder statesman, its no surprise that Governor Romney is in such demand on the campaign trail. The former Massachusetts governor is the main attraction Tuesday in West Virginia at a fundraiser in Charleston and a rally later in the day in Beckley for Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, the GOP Senate nominee in the state. The events will also benefit Republican congressional candidates Alex Mooney and Evan Jenkins.

Capito, who’s served seven terms in Congress, is considered the favorite in the race against West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, the Democratic nominee. The winner in November’s midterm elections will succeed longtime Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who is retiring after three decades in the Senate. The GOP sees the seat as a strong pick up opportunity.

Capito’s campaign has tried to link Tennant to the White House and to congressional Democratic leaders like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and they see Romney as an effective messenger in a state where he trounced the President in the 2012 election.

“I haven’t seen a single poll that shows Obama above 30% job approval in West Virginia. What we saw in 2012, which was Mitt winning with 62% of the vote has just gotten worse for Obama since then. It’s clear that Obama is just not a popular guy in the state and Mitt is.

Romney ends Tuesday in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he’ll be the main attraction at a fundraiser for state House Speaker Thom Tillis. He’s the Republican Senate nominee who’s challenging first term Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan. It’s another race where the GOP hopes to flip a Democratic held Senate seat.

On Wednesday and Thursday Romney is in Arkansas, lending a helping hand to Asa Hutchinson, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, and Rep. Tom Cotton, the GOP’s Senate nominee. Both contests are seen as very competitive.

The fact that Mitt Romney is in such high demand, and red state Senate Democrats are avoiding President Obama like the plague, is extremely telling.

Next month Romney Teams Up with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to help raise money for the Garden State’s GOP. And he’s back on the campaign trail in late September, traveling to Colorado and Virginia to help Republican candidates. Romney advisers say their boss will spend parts of October helping fellow Republicans.

Romney stayed far from the political spotlight following his bruising defeat to Obama. But starting in the summer of 2013, he began to get more involved in shaping the future of his party and guiding the national conversation. Romney also endorsed some two dozen candidates in the GOP primaries, with those he backed coming out on top in their contests.

With the two living former Republican presidents, George W. Bush and his father, George H.W. Bush, both staying far from the political conversation, Romney started to fill the void.

Mitt Romney is the most prominent and engaged elder statesman the GOP has on the national stage right now. While Romney is enjoying a renaissance, the President, thanks to a host of crises both domestic and international, is struggling with an approval rating in the low to mid 40’s.

A recent CNN/ORC International poll indicated that if the 2012 election were held today, Romney would top Obama 53%-44% in the popular vote. But the same survey suggested that Romney would lose to Hillary Clinton 55%-42% in a hypothetical 2016 matchup. Romney, who also ran for the 2008 GOP nomination, has repeatedly ruled out a third bid for the White House.

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Hillary Clinton to Help Out With Democratic Party Mid-Term Push

Hillary Clinton MidtermsHillary Clinton has been able to exist slightly above politics for the last six years. That will soon be coming to an end.

Clinton, the former secretary of state and frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, has committed to play a sizable role in fundraising for the party ahead of the 2014 elections, according to sources and aides for different campaign groups.

In addition to campaigning for specific candidates, aides to Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Governors Association confirmed that Clinton will headline fundraisers for each respective group in 2014.

Clinton is also slated to headline one of the most anticipated events of the year in Democratic politics in Iowa Senator Tom Harkin’s Iowa Steak Fry on September 14.

Sen. Harkin’s team announced Monday that Clinton along with her husband former President Bill Clinton will headline the fundraiser in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. The steak fry regularly draws big-name, national politicians and is seen as a required stop for any Democrat seeking the presidency.

Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill also said that the former secretary of state will do more in Iowa than just attend the steak fry.

“She’s looking forward to campaigning for her Democratic friends and colleagues and to helping the effort to move America forward, including a stop to see her old friend and colleague Senator Harkin to help raise money for important races in Iowa,” Merrill said in a statement.

In addition, a DCCC source also said Clinton will fundraiser for the congressional campaign committee, including a women’s event in San Francisco with Leader Nancy Pelosi.

“We’re thrilled and grateful that she is lending her support to our shared goal of electing a Democratic House of Representatives that will put a stop to the endless cycle of dysfunction and shutdowns from this Republican Congress,” Chairman Steve Israel said in a statement.

Since leaving the State Department in 2013, Clinton has largely tried to stay out of politics. Other than campaigning for candidates with whom she has a personal relationship including Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and her daughters mother-in-law Clinton hasn’t done any political fundraising.

But as likelihood of Clinton running for president in 2016 rises, political committees and groups have stepped started to ask Clinton for help in the 2014 midterms.

In April, while at an American Jewish Committee forum, Israel spoke with Clinton about what she is willing to do around the midterms.

According to Israel, Clinton said, ” I want to help,” to which Steve Israel said, “Not the minute, but the second you are ready to help, you let me know.”

Democrats have an uphill climb to taking back the House, and recent polling show the fight to keep Democratic control of the Senate will be close.

In an interview Israel said he saw Clinton as able to go into a number of different states, but especially Illinois, California, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania and Arkansas.

“Her appeal is so broad. She excites our base. There are few people stronger than she is with swing voters,” Israel said, listing Clinton attributes as a fundraiser and endorser.

It was widely assumed that Clinton would campaign for Democrats in 2014. The cadre of groups organizing around her possible 2016 bid particularly Ready for Hillary have tried to help midterm Democrats, and Priorities USA a super PAC supporting her 2016 run  has told donors to focus on the midterms for now.

In July, Clinton told a Southern California public radio station that she is “committed” to helping midterms Democrats.

“I strongly am committed to doing what I can to keep the Senate in Democratic hands,” she said.

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