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Posts tagged ‘Senate Democrats’

Rove: Republicans Have Good Chance to Win Senate Control.


Image: Rove: Republicans Have Good Chance to Win Senate Control

 

By Cathy Burke

Seven Democratic senators are hobbled by diminished fundraising and their support for an increasingly unpopular President Barack Obama — giving Republicans a clear shot at regaining the Senate, political consultant and policy adviser Karl Rove says.

In an op-ed piece published in the online Wall Street Journal on Wednesday night,
President George W. Bush’s former deputy chief of staff says other nail-biters are shaping up in both traditionally GOP and swing states.

If Republicans can claim 10 Democratic seats, “the chances of regaining Senate control and providing an important institutional check on Mr. Obama’s agenda during his last two years go up dramatically,” Rove writes.

Rove argues that the dollar figures show it’s possible, citing Federal Election Commission filings, news reports on campaign fundraising for the fourth quarter of 2013, and cash-on-hand Dec. 31.

Rove says that in the seven states carried by Mitt Romney in 2012 where Democratic senators are on the ballot, filings show the leading GOP contenders have raised $6.5 million, compared with the Democrats — including four incumbents — who have drummed up $6.7 million during the last quarter.

Five Republicans in the targeted states outraised their Democratic rivals, including in Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia, where the Democratic senators are leaving, Rove writes.

Similarly, GOP contenders have collected more money in two of the four targeted states — Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina — where Democratic incumbents are in tough re-election bids.

Obama’s dismal job-approval rating also spells trouble for Democrats, he writes. It was stuck at an overall 42 percent for the week ending last Sunday, and is averaging about 36 percent in the seven Senate states up for grabs.

“If that’s the case on Election Day, he will likely sink his party’s candidates, who probably cannot run more than 5 points ahead of Mr. Obama’s rating,” Rove predicts.

According to Rove, voting patterns of senators who were ardent supporters of Obama’s policies might work against them as well.

Four “red state” Democratic senators running for re-election gave the president nearly absolute support, including Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu and Alaska’s Mark Begich at 97 percent, followed by North Carolina’s Kay Hagan at 96 percent and Arkansas’s Mike Pryor at 90 percent.

“They are now trying to distance themselves from the president,” Rove says.

“These problems . . . could cause problems for Democratic senators in purple states as well,” Rove writes, noting that in 2010 Republicans picked up six Senate seats, five of which were won by Obama in 2008: Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Rove says four purple states “appear promising.”

In Michigan, Republican Terri Lynn Land has out-raised Democratic opponent Rep. Gary Peters in the last two quarters. In New Hampshire, Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who has backed Obama policies 99 percent of the time in 2013, has raised $3.4 million.

“What happens if former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown . . . runs?” Rove asks. “”He raised $28.2 million for his last campaign.”

In Minnesota, Democratic Sen. Al Franken rolled up a perfect record of backing Obama last year; in Virginia, Sen. Mark Warner was behind the president’s policies 97 percent of the time.

“Both could face Republican challengers — businessman Mike McFadden in Minnesota and former GOP National Chairman Ed Gillespie in Virginia — who can raise money and could take advantage of Mr. Obama’s unpopularity,” he said.

Other “purple possibilities” could include Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado and Iowa, Rove writes.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Rand Paul: Obama Turning US Into ‘Socialist Nightmare’.


President Barack Obama is turning the United States into a “socialist nightmare” by doing “blithely whatever he thinks he can get away with,” Sen. Rand Paul says.

“It’s hard to imagine exactly what his goal is because when you talk to him one on one, he sounds reasonable and like he’s not trying to transform America into some socialist nightmare,” Paul, a Kentucky Republican, told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.

“However, when you look at his policies, one after another they are sort of transformative — changing us from a country that has a marketplace and freedom of choice to a country that is stifled by coercion and mandates.”

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Paul said he is most disturbed by Obama’s flaunting of the Constitution, particularly bending laws to fit his agenda without getting congressional approval, such as his tweaking of the Affordable Care Act.

“There doesn’t seem to be any acknowledgement of restraint that the Constitution and the rule of law restrains him in any way,” he said.

“Basically he pushes the limit to whatever he thinks he can get and won’t be rebuked.”

But that may change as the Supreme Court weighs Obama’s unprecedented changes to the law, Paul says.

“We’re hoping that there will be more cases brought to bear where his idea that he can amend Obamacare without legislation, without congressional approval . . . [is] rebuked,” he said.

“It takes a while to work through the courts, and in the meantime, he just continues to do blithely whatever he thinks he can get away with.”

“He’s acting as if he’s both the executive and the legislator . . . That’s a recipe for tyranny, and it is my fear that we’re allowing the president to have so much power gravitate to him that we’re getting rid of the checks and balances that really held government [in check] and limited government’s power.”

Paul said the implementation of the ACA, and the cancellation of insurance policies it has caused, are producing “stories that pull at the heartstrings,” Paul said.

“This is about whether you allow Americans to have freedom of choice or whether you tell Americans, as the president’s doing, that you’re too stupid, you can’t make these choices, you can’t decide what’s good health insurance, I’m going to tell you what’s good.

“It’s that arrogance from Washington that, really, the whole country ought to rise up — Republican, Democrat, independent — and say, look, this is a free country and we want our freedom back, basically.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

WH Adviser Jarrett, Black Caucus to Meet on Lack of Judicial Diversity


Image: WH Adviser Jarrett, Black Caucus to Meet on Lack of Judicial DiversityValerie JarrettRe

By Courtney Coren

The Congressional Black Caucus is meeting with Senior White House Adviser Valerie Jarrett Wednesday to discuss the administration’s judicial nominees, saying they want President Obama to fight for a more diverse federal bench.

CBC members contend that Obama has given in too easily to Republican senators primarily in Southern states because they get to sign off on the nominees in the “blue-slip” system, in which home-state senators approve the pick before the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing, The Hill is reporting.

“Win or lose, we’d feel better if there’s a fight,” said Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, who is part of the CBC’s judicial nominations working group. “We have a Herculean task, of course, because of the senators whose conservatism is antithetical to the judicial philosophy of probably anyone who [Obama would prefer].”

“But at the same time, the president ought to be able to appoint anyone he wants,” Cleaver added. “And, you know, we want the president to fight for it.”

Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina had similar thoughts — that at the very least they want to see Obama put up a fight.

“There needs to be more defiance,” Butterfield told The Hill. “The fight is worth it. We learned that from the Civil Rights era. We were defying the traditions … We were defying the law … What we want the president to do is push back harder against [Republican] obstructionism.”

The concern has grown out of several situations. One example they cite is that Obama nominated only one black judge out of six in Georgia where the population is a third African American, and that one judge is supposedly a Republican.

There is also frustration over the fact that GOP Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina refused to approve the nomination of Jennifer May-Parker through the “blue-slip” process, after he had recommended her to the president. If she had been approved, she would have been the first African-American federal judge to sit on North Carolina’s Eastern District bench, The Huffington Post reported.

However, the Obama administration points to the fact that the president has nominated more black judges than either Bush or Clinton. According to the NNPA News Service,Obama has nominated and successfully confirmed more black judges than any president in history.

Butterfield plans to tell Jarrett that they want Obama to push for an “up-or-down vote” on the president’s nominees and he wants Democratic leaders in the Senate to consider not sticking to the “blue-slip” system.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Desperate Senate Democrats Running from Obama, Obamacare.


When President Barack Obama solicits advice Wednesday from his party’s senators, the voices of some Democrats may come through louder than others.

Of the 53 Democratic senators, it’s the nearly two dozen facing re-election this year who are causing jitters for Obama and the party. With control of the Senate at stake, many of those Democrats are actively seeking ways to distance themselves from a president who is deeply unpopular in their home states.

After publicly exhibiting his goals for the year in his State of the Union address last week, Obama is making the pitch in more intimate settings now. A day after hosting House Democrats in the East Room, Obama will travel to the baseball stadium where the Washington Nationals play and where Senate Democrats are holding an annual private summit.

With prospects for capturing the House this year in doubt, Democrats have intensified their focus on the Senate, where their tenuous majority will be toppled in November if they lose more than five seats — out of 21 they are defending. Although Obama has had to rein in aspirations for ambitious second-term legislation due to Republican control of the House, his final years in office would be even more constrained were Democrats to lose the Senate.

Sensitive to the fact that many of Democrats’ toughest races this year are in conservative-leaning states that voted against Obama in 2012, the White House and Democratic leadership so far have given wide latitude to Democrats who have publicized their disagreements with Obama. But the criticism also serves as a nagging reminder that Obama’s ability to aid fellow Democrats this year is limited.

“I want him up in Alaska so I can show him where his policies haven’t worked,” said Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska, whose re-election race is one of the toughest for Democrats this year. “I’ll drag him up there to show him what he needs to be doing. I don’t need him campaigning for me.”

Obama’s session with senators Wednesday will focus not on the election but on his legislative agenda, including an unemployment insurance extension, a minimum wage hike and an expansion of the earned income tax credit, White House officials said.

“It’s part of an overall approach, running up to and in the wake of the State of the Union address, where the president is meeting with Democrats who share his priorities and vision when it comes to taking action to strengthen the middle class and to provide ladders of opportunity into the middle class,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Still, the White House has taken steps to show it is keenly attuned to the midterm dynamic that looms over every decision lawmakers will make this year. On Monday, Obama brought Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., his campaign chairman and the head of the Senate Democrats’ campaign committee to the White House to talk strategy for 2014. And barely a week ago, Obama resurrected the White House political office that he disbanded in 2011, tasking top adviser David Simas with overseeing a team that will look out for the needs of Democratic candidates.

For some Democrats, it’s “Obamacare” that poses the clearest threat as Republicans vow to use the unpopular law as a cudgel in their campaigns against Democrats who voted for it. Speaking to House Democrats on Tuesday, Obama took full responsibility for what didn’t go right with the rollout of the HealthCare.gov enrollment website and said the focus now should be on law’s benefits and the millions getting covered, said Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., who attended the meeting.

For other Democrats, niche issues like energy that acutely affect their states may play an outsize role in their campaigns. Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana was one of five Democrats who joined Republicans on Tuesday at a rare bipartisan news conference to call on Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil on its way from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast.

Landrieu said in addition to talking to Obama about America’s energy resurgence, she planned to urge Obama to support her push to delay a huge rate hike for flood insurance — a politically potent issue in hurricane-ravaged Louisiana.

“I’m hoping to convince him that if his administration could be a little more enthusiastic, it would be helpful not just to me and Louisiana, but to the whole country,” she said.

 

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Democrats Breaking with Obama on Key Issues.


Image: Democrats Breaking with Obama on Key IssuesFrom left: Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Manchin and Martin Heinrich

By Melanie Batley

 

A growing number of Senate Democrats are speaking out publicly against a range of President Barack Obama’s policies in an attempt to distance themselves from theincreasingly unpopular president in the run-up to the 2014 midterm elections.

According to Politico, the lawmakers appear to have become unusually comfortable with criticizing the president, particularly since the State of the Union Address. 

“You had two or three Democrats in the Senate who made statements after the president’s State of the Union speech that wouldn’t have been written any different if they had been written by the [National] Republican Senatorial Committee,” Missouri GOP Sen. Roy Blunt told Politico.

Until recently, criticism of the president was concentrated among vulnerable red state Democrats, but now others are becoming vocal in their dissent on a range of issues including energy policy, Obamacare, the Nation Security Agency surveillance programs, and the Keystone XL pipeline. 

For example, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who isn’t up for re-election until 2018, has taken issue with Obama’s insistence in his State of the Union Address that he would bypass Congress whenever necessary to advance his agenda.

“I don’t think that’s what he meant. I swear to God I don’t,” Manchin said in an interview with Politico. “Could he have picked these words better? I would have thought he could have, I would have hoped he would have. But it came out offensive to a lot of people.”

Manchin is also part of a faction in the Senate that would approve construction of the Keystone pipeline, a group that is also critical of the administration’s positions on coal and energy exports.

North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, another Democrat who isn’t up for re-election until 2018, has called Obama’s energy policies “schizophrenic.”

Meanwhile, New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich, a freshman, has been a persistent critic of the White House on NSA policy, according to Politico. 

“I think the framers did an incredible job of finding the right balance, so, we’ve gotten away from that. And when we get back to that, my outspokenness will diminish,” he said.

Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado have also been vocal about the need for changes to the NSA’s surveillance programs.

A number of Democrats have for months been attempting to distance themselves from the president on Obamacare, aware that the GOP is likely to highlight the program’s failures throughout the 2014 campaign. But as Blunt put it, it may be an uphill battle.

“The White House and the Senate leadership understand the need of senators in states where the president is not popular to differentiate themselves from the president when they can,” Blunt told Politico. 

“On the healthcare bill, it’s going to be particularly difficult because all of them voted for it, all of them supported it. And it’s not going to get better between now and Election Day.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Senate Republicans Make New Jobless Benefits Offer.


Prospects of 1.4 million unemployed Americans getting their federal jobless benefits back soon brightened on Monday when U.S. Senate Republican negotiators offered a new plan to extend the emergency relief for three months.

Senate Democrats and Republicans planned to meet privately on Tuesday to evaluate the proposal. A vote on it could occur within days.

Long-term unemployment benefits expired on Dec. 28, and President Barack Obama and his Democrats in Congress have since pressed for an unpaid extension of up to one year.

Republicans have insisted on a shorter extension while also demanding that the $6.5 billion cost of extending benefits for three months be covered by government savings elsewhere.

According to a senior aides, the Republican offer would pay for the jobless benefits by extending across-the-board spending cuts, known as “sequestration,” for another year – into 2024.

The measure also would clamp down on some unemployment benefits to people who also collect federal disability payments.

“We continue to negotiate in good faith, and we are all encouraged that we are making progress on a package that could pass with bipartisan support,” said eight Republican senators who have taken the lead in trying to reach a deal.

The senators said in a statement the proposal included repeal of the recent cuts in the military retiree cost-of-living adjustment included in December’s budget agreement and offsets to pay for the unemployment extension and restoring military retiree benefits within the budget window.

If the Democratic-led Senate approves the proposal, it would have to be passed by the Republican-led House of Representatives before it could go to Obama to sign into law.

Since the Senate began wrangling over a possible extension last week, the number of long-term jobless, generally defined as those who have been out of work for at least six months, has grown to 1.4 million from 1.3 million.

“I can’t automatically agree to it,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, declared in announcing that Republican negotiators had offered a three-month deal.

Assistant Senate Republican Leader John Cornyn declined to make a prediction, saying, “At this point, we don’t even know if Democrats will back it. … I’m not optimistic.”

Senator Orrin Hatch, senior Republican on the Finance Committee, which oversees jobless benefits, said he would support a bill if it is “done on a bipartisan basis.”

Senator John Thune, a member of Republican leadership, told Reuters that he expected the measure, if put to a vote, would garner enough votes to pass, even if most Republicans oppose it.

“I don’t know if there will be the votes for it … probably not mine,” Republican Senator Jeff Flake told Reuters, saying that paying for the program 10 years from now was “a gimmick.”

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.comOrrin Hatch

Giuliani, Conservatives: Christie OK As Long As No ‘Smoking Gun’.


Image: Giuliani, Conservatives: Christie OK As Long As No 'Smoking Gun'

By Todd Beamon

Conservatives widely commended New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s actions on Thursday in the spiraling bridge-gate scandal, but told Newsmax that any “smoking gun” specifically tying the Republican to the controversial closures last September on the world’s busiest bridge could sink his chances for a White House run in 2016.

“The governor handled it about the best way he could possibly handle it,” former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said. “Holding a press conference — not running away from it — apologizing profusely for the mistakes, taking responsibility as the chief executive for what his people did wrong, but making it clear that he had no advance knowledge that they did anything like this or that he would have wanted them to do this.

“As long as there is no smoking gun, then this becomes just another situation where a chief executive has people working for him that do things that are foolish,” Giuliani said.

Matt Towery, a debate expert and pollster, said the governor’s news conference and dismissal of a top aide linked to the scandal were “very consistent with Chris Christie — his standard operating procedure both as a governor and as a politician.

“Certainly, someone’s head had to roll over that, and he’s had those heads roll.”

However, “it has to be pretty clear that Christie had no knowledge of this,” Towery added. “If he did, and he takes these sort of actions, then that is perceived by the public as just compounding the situation.

“Then, you get into that big word called ‘hypocrisy’ — the one that I’ve found that takes most politicians down.”

The governor put on “an impressive performance,” political analyst and pollster Doug Schoen told Newsmax. “Christie did what he had to do, but there is a big ‘but.’

“This is a guy who’s had a reputation for being arguably above politics, trying to be nonpartisan, calling it as he saw it — and this involves a petty political scandal that goes right to the heart of his credibility as a manager.

“This does not speak well to his ability to lead the government and to inspire confidence in his staff,” Schoen said.

“Christie is handling the scandal in the right way by firing his staff people,” political consultant Dick Morris said. “The country will accept that he had nothing to do with it, as long as there is no trail that leads to Christie knowing about or ordering the lane closures.

“But the burden of proof is on Christie,” Morris cautioned. “He needs to establish that he had nothing to do with it. The U.S. Senate, under Democratic control, will investigate this through a committee. How Christie handles the committee will be the key test.

“If he appears to be stonewalling, he will be in real trouble.”

Sounding contrite and humbled at a news conference at the state capitol in Trenton,Christie apologized for the closings over five days that created massive gridlock on the George Washington Bridge and said he fired the aide in what critics say was a political vendetta.

“I come out here to apologize to the people of New Jersey,” the governor said at the start of what became a two-hour news conference. “I apologize to the people of Fort Lee. And I apologize to the State Legislature.

“I am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team.”

Christie announced that he had dismissed the aide, Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly, who sent the email to David Wildstein, the director of interstate capital projects for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who resigned last month because of the scandal.

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Kelly wrote. Fort Lee is where the bridge’s toll booths are located.

The gridlock occurred Sept. 9-13, when three of the 12 eastbound toll-booth lanes heading into New York from New Jersey normally dedicated to morning rush-hour traffic were cut one during a traffic study. The other two lanes were used for regular traffic.

The closures have also been linked to delays by emergency responders to at least four medical situations, including one involving a 91-year-old woman who later died at a Fort Lee hospital.

“I terminated her employment because she lied to me,” Christie said on Thursday.

The governor also forced his two-time campaign manager, Bill Stepian, to remove his name from consideration to lead the New Jersey Republican Party. Stepian also will lose a lucrative consulting contract to the Republican Governor’s Association, of which Christie is chairman.

Christie also went to Fort Lee and apologize to Democratic Mayor Mark Sokolich and the city’s residents. Critics have said that the bridge closures were in retaliation for the mayor not supporting Christie’s re-election bid last year.

“Actions have consequences,” Christie said. “I had no knowledge of this issue in its planning and execution. I am stunned by the abject stupidity that was involved here. This was handled in a callous and indifferent way.”

The U.S. Attorney for New Jersey has asked the FBI to help in its investigation into the lane closures. The New Jersey Assembly also is looking into the matter — and Wildstein repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment rights in response to questions at an assembly hearing on Thursday.

Reflecting on Christie’s demeanor at the news conference, Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor and columnist for the National Review, told Newsmax that “it was not only impressive, it was un-Christie-like.

“He can be very gruff with people who ask him questions that he don’t want to answer — and that trait has gotten him in more trouble here.”

When asked in December about the scandal, Christie “dismissed them and gave them the back of the hand,” McCarthy said. “Obviously, it was a much more serious issue than he either believed or led on at the time.”

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin also noted Christie’s disposition in an interview on “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.

“Here was a guy who was really baring it all, baring his soul — and he used words like ‘humiliated,’ ’embarrassed,’ ‘feels awful,’ ‘sad,'” Rubin said. “These are not emotions one usually connects with him and unless he is a marvelous actor, that is a compelling picture of remorse.”

Tobe Berkovitz, an associate professor of advertising at Boston University, observed: “It’s never surprising when a politician who’s been put up on a pedestal by the media then gets knocked off by the media. The media has sort of this infatuation with Chris Christie — and he has given them an opening to sort of turn him into a New Jersey piñata.

“He’s got a reputation as this larger-than-life, in-your-face, take-no-BS politician,” he added. “The problem is that, this time, the people who paid for that were commuters — and, quite honestly, people care a lot about their commute.

“That’s not a way to get elected president of the United States.”

Towery expressed concerns as to how quickly the U.S. attorney had become involved.

“I don’t know whether this warrants a U.S. attorney’s investigation or not — but it certainly begs questions,” he told Newsmax.

“The idea that the U.S. attorney is jumping into this a day after they became aware of it — I wonder what in the world justifies the need that quickly. If I were Christie’s camp, I would be asking the same question.”

Towery declined to say that the Obama administration might be involved, but noted: “When you see that Christie is clearly a very strong potential candidate for president, and when you hear of something that quickly, it does raise eyebrows.”

Speaking of the White House, many of the observers contrasted Christie’s candor with the lack thereof coming from President Barack Obama on the many scandals that have engulfed his administration.

“Governor Christie did the right thing and demonstrated what leaders do when actions of the team are unacceptable and wrong,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “I wish President Obama would be as transparent and open as Governor Christie was today.”

“President Obama and Hillary Clinton have held no press conference on Benghazi and have done nothing like what Chris did here,” Giuliani told Newsmax. “That counts for something.”

And, if Christie’s version of events hold up, the biggest loser could be Clinton, the former Secretary of State who might be the Democratic nominee for the White House, said political analyst Ron Christie.

“I honestly believe the big loser out of all of this is Hillary Rodham Clinton,” Christie, who is not related to the governor, told the Malzberg show. He is CEO of the Christie Strategies consulting firm.

“‘What difference does it make at this point’ [Clinton’s answer during a Benghazi hearing last January] — that is going to be hung around her neck like an albatross if she decides to jump in the 2016 campaign,” he added. “The parallels of Christie couldn’t be drawn any more stark here.”

“The proof is going to be in the pudding,” said Boston University’s Berkovitz. “Is there a smoking text or smoking email that directly shows that he knew what was going on?

“If that happens, game-set-match, it’s over,” he added. “If not, it’s still a long way away to 2016, and this will always be hanging over his head.”

“It can help, it might hurt,” pollster Schoen told Newsmax. “Bottom line, if you’re a big Republican donor, it takes a big leap of faith to sign on now and write a check.”

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