Despite the fact that gas prices have doubled since he took office, President Obama continues to pursue energy policies that discourage or prevent domestic energy production, forcing our nation to rely on imports from unstable regions. The president says he supports an “all of the above” energy policy, but after rejecting ideas like the Keystone XL pipeline, drilling in ANWR, greater offshore production, and issuing additional leases, it appears more like a “none of the above” policy.
From the National Journal Hotline:
Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., leads Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren by 10 points in a private Massachusetts Senate race poll.
The poll, conducted by Opinion Dynamics for Boston-based consulting firm Mass Insight Global Partnerships, shows Brown winning 52 percent to Warren’s 42 percent, the second poll in two weeks giving Brown a wide lead. A Suffolk University poll released Feb. 16 put Brown up 9 points, 49 percent to 40 percent, departing from earlier surveys that portrayed a narrow lead for Warren.
A Mass Insight poll in October showed Brown with a five-point edge over Warren, 44 to 39.
Conservatives, Women Leaders and Religious Groups Energized and Mobilizing to Fight Obama HHS Mandate and Preserve Individual Freedom and Religious Liberty
The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote tomorrow on a motion to table Senator Roy Blunt’s Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. Conservatives have held initial meetings and are coordinating plans to fight the HHS mandate and will not rest until it is rescinded.
· Grace Marie Turner, Founder, President and Trustee, Galen Institute, Inc.
· Penny Nance, CEO and President, Concerned Women for America
· Hadley Heath, Independent Women’s Voice
· Brian Burch, President, CatholicVote.org
· Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director to the Judicial Crisis Network.
· Jennifer A. Marshall, Director, Domestic Policy Studies, The Heritage Foundation
· Dr. Pia de Solenni, SThD, ethicist and moral theologian.
· Maggie Karner, director, Life and Health Ministries, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
· Kristan Hawkins, executive director, Students for Life of America
· Edwin Meese III, Former Attorney General of the United States
· Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
· L. Brent Bozell, Chairman, ForAmerica
· J. Kenneth Blackwell, former US ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission and Chairman, Ohio Faith and Freedom Coalition
· Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, Chairman of Liberty Counsel Action, and Dean and Professor of Law at Liberty University School of Law
· Asma Uddin, Attorney, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
· Lori Windham, Senior Counsel, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
· Tom McClusky, Senior Vice President, Family Research Council Action
Penny Nance, CEO and President, Concerned Women for America
As a woman representing 500,000 women nationwide, I can tell you that we are tired of President Obama trampling our religious liberties under the guise of ‘protecting women’s health,’” said Penny Nance, Concerned Women for America’s CEO and President. “At the core of almost every woman is a conscience and moral integrity that must be protected. The government has no right to violate those by forcing individuals and organizations to infringe upon their religious and/or moral beliefs by mandating the purchase of a product or service they find objectionable. Senator Blunt’s amendment is crucial to protect our religious liberties and consciences, which are the bedrock of American society.
Grace Marie Turner, Founder, President and Trustee, Galen Institute, Inc.
The White House is trying to frame this issue as a “right to contraceptives.” But this is really about who we are as a country. America was founded on the principle that we can, as free people, express our beliefs and moral values with the knowledge that our religious liberties are protected by the U.S. Constitution. The administration’s mandate violates the First Amendment and tramples the very essence of who we are as a nation. Sen. Roy Blunt’s amendment restores Americans’ constitutional protections and assures people that they will not be forced to follow a government dictate that would violate their conscience and religious beliefs.
Hadley Heath, Independent Women’s Voice
Independent Women’s Voice supports Sen. Roy Blunt’s proposed amendment to provide employers the opportunity to opt out of the new government mandate compelling them to provide specific, government-required health care benefits to their employees, even if such benefits violate their religious or moral beliefs.
As one insightful woman noted, the so-called “contraception mandate” is as much about birth control as the American Revolution was about tea. Any government mandate that forces Americans to violate their 1st Amendment rights represents an affront to the very concepts of freedom and liberty. Our Founding Fathers understood this, that the biggest threats to freedom were not from foreign tyrannical governments, but from purported “good ideas” for which we are told we must sacrifice our liberty.
IWV is asking Americans to help protect our 1st Amendment Freedoms by joining the thousands — including many notable women leaders — who have signed our petition at www.SavingOurHealthCare.org/1stAmendment .
Brian Burch, President, CatholicVote.org
In what may be the most important vote in decades, the time-honored principle of religious freedom may soon be put to a vote in the United States Senate. Regrettably, American citizens have been thrust into an unnecessary and unprecedented assault on their first liberty – the freedom to believe — and they will have little patience with Stupak-like compromises or the outright refusal of any elected official to stand up for this foundational freedom. Observant Senators would be wise to consider the aftermath of the vote on Obamacare, as this vote will be no different. If the Senate fails to protect the conscience rights of all Americans, millions of voters will have little choice other than to use the ballot box and the courts to vindicate their rights.
Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director to the Judicial Crisis Network
This debate is about contraception in the same way that the American Revolution was about tea. In reality, both were concerned with defending liberty against a shamelessly tyrannical government. If the Obama administration’s war on the Constitution is going to be stopped, saving the First Amendment and religious freedom is a good start. The Blunt Amendment is that first step. Unlike Obama’s patronizing accounting tricks, the Blunt Amendment provides real respect for people of conscience and their health care decisions.
Jennifer A. Marshall, Director, Domestic Policy Studies, The Heritage Foundation
Obamacare’s anti-conscience mandate is forcing Americans to fight for our first freedom all over again. Religious leaders from many faiths are standing united against this affront to our liberty. Every American should take this mandate very personally as well. Under Obamacare, government mandates what insurance plans must cover, what employers must offer, and what individuals must buy. There is no way out. The moral compass for our personal health decisions is now in the hands of bureaucrats. Congress should act to put that authority back in the hands of Americans.
Dr. Pia de Solenni, SThD, ethicist and moral theologian
The HHS contraception mandate is nothing more than a fine for one’s conscience. Whether one is motivated by religious principles or simply one’s conscience, if a person’s values and views happen to be different from this mandate they could be required to pay a fine for acting in accord with their conscience. The US is a nation of capable citizens who can make decisions for themselves; the government should allow citizens to make their own decisions, not make decisions for them.
The HHS contraception mandate narrowly focuses “women’s health” to mean nothing more than contraception, suggesting that fertility is a disease. With the so-called compromise, insurance companies will be forced to provide free contraception. Women face many other health issues throughout their lives. Yet none of these mandate free coverage by insurance companies. Most women pay co-pays for mammograms and pap smears. The top two causes of death for women are heart disease and cancer, neither of which are treated with contraceptives.
Maggie Karner, director, Life and Health Ministries, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
We are here to advocate for basic religious freedom. And I don’t give a rip what gender is speaking about religious freedom, as long as SOMBODY is talking about it. This is about all of us women and men—American citizens and our constitutional rights.
Religious folks have some street ‘cred’ to bring to the table when we’re talking about public health and the good of our society. Faith-based organizations, no matter what denomination or creed, have a long history and a vested interest in our society, and we have much to contribute in the future. We can be a valuable asset to the government as we help to address the many needs in our society. But we can only do so if we are given the freedom to work within the framework of our deeply-held beliefs. This anti-conscience mandate doesn’t allow that. It strips us of the protection of the free exercise of our First Amendment religious rights.
Remember, this debate is not about contraception. Nobody is advocating for denial of access. Nobody is threatening women’s health. Nobody is outlawing anything for the general population. Rather, this debate is simply about us being forced to pay for products and services contrary to our religious beliefs. We cannot be expected to check our faith at the door!
Kristan Hawkins, executive director, Students for Life of America
The HHS mandate is an affront to the very principles our nation was founded upon – religious freedom and individual liberty. What kind of country will we be leaving our young people, many of whom I face every day on college campuses, if this mandate is allowed to stand? The HHS mandate takes a sledge hammer to religious liberty and individual rights and leaves the next generation a country devoid of freedom and liberty. Senator Blunt’s Respect for Rights of Conscience Act is a good first step in preserving freedom and liberty for the next generation, but Students for Life will not rest until the entire mandate is rescinded and Obamacare repealed.
Edwin Meese III, Former Attorney General of the United States
The new HHS mandate is an affront to the First Amendment and to every American citizen’s constitutional liberties. Congress should pass corrective legislation to safeguard our fundamental right to religious liberty guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.
Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
President Obama’s callous decision to require all insurance plans under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to cover free of charge so-called contraceptives that are also abortifacients violates our constitutionally-protected right of freedom of religion and conscience. Neither the narrow exemption nor the recent proposed compromise is acceptable.
Millions of people of faith will still be forced by the federal government to choose between their religious convictions about when human life begins and providing health care for themselves, their families, or their employees. What is at stake is whether our nation will protect our God-given and constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion and conscience.
The Obama administration has declared war on religion and conscience. This must not stand. Our Baptist forebears died and went to prison to secure these freedoms. It is now our calling to stand in the gap and defend our priceless First Amendment religious freedom.
L. Brent Bozell, Chairman, ForAmerica
President Obama’s HHS mandate represents a blatant and unprecedented attack on the First Amendment. It is the greatest intrusion on individual freedom and religious liberty in our nation’s history.
“This week’s Senate vote on the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act will be a telling sign of whether or not the United States Senate respects and adheres to the Constitution or whether the Constitution is nothing more than a piece of paper they can trample and trash. By supporting Senator Blunt’s freedom of conscience amendment, it will inject constitutional sanity back into our government on this issue.
Those Senators who oppose the Rights of Conscience Act will owe an explanation to the nation and to their constituents as to why they broke their oath of office.
J. Kenneth Blackwell, former US ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission and Chairman, Ohio Faith and Freedom Coalition
Religious liberty is the most important of our human rights. Without religious freedom, people exist only as political or economic entities, not as free human beings. Religious liberty is the first of all human rights, for it implies the dignity and sacredness of human conscience. One’s faith is one’s most profound level of personhood.
We must fight with all we have to defeat this attack on the foundation of American Exceptionalism. We must push back
against the Obama administration’s very restrictive view of religious liberty. Congress must pass the Respect For Rights of Conscience Act.
Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, Chairman of Liberty Counsel Action, and Dean and Professor of Law at Liberty University School of Law
Mathew Staver, Chairman of Liberty Counsel Action, said that Liberty Counsel Action has indicated it will score the vote on the Blunt Amendment. The left is trying to frame this as a contraceptive issue is, but it’s not just about contraceptives, it’s also about abortion and religious liberty. The FDA currently calls Ella and Plan B contraceptives while in actuality, they are abortifacients, and Obama wants to force religious employers to cover these abortifacients in their healthcare plans. Liberty Counsel Action, Liberty Counsel, and the Liberty University School of Law have no desire to purchase health plans that cover abortifacients. The Obama Administration’s attempt to scratch the First Amendment from the Constitution and force faith-based organizations and institutions to conform their beliefs to Obama’s mandate is atrocious. We strongly encourage the Senate to fight for a vote on this Amendment and we strongly encourage senators to vote to preserve the consciences of millions of Americans by voting for the passage of the Blunt Amendment.
Asma Uddin, Attorney, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
This mandate is simply unconstitutional. It violates the Free Exercise Clause, Establishment Clause, Free Speech Clause, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Despite these severe burdens on our clients’ constitutional rights, the government, in its response last night, continues to provide no compelling interest that justifies forcing monks and nuns to hand out abortion drugs.
Women, too, seek the freedom to live in accordance with their sincerely held religious beliefs.
Religious freedom is a right enjoyed by everyone, and it is just as much in women’s interest to protect that right as it is in men’s.
As a Muslim-American woman and an academic, I have spent my career fighting for women’s and minority’s rights, and the fact that I must be here today to explain why our constitutional rights exist is extremely offensive to me personally.
Lori Windham, Senior Counsel, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
Our clients are acting because of what is being asked for, rather than who is doing the asking.
They do not seek to prevent women from accessing these abortion drugs, but they do object to having to provide them against their conscience.
Tom McClusky, Senior Vice President, Family Research Council Action
Tom McClusky, Senior Vice President, Family Research Council Action Senator Blunt’s “Respect for the Rights of Conscience Act of 2011″ amendment would restore the status quo on conscience rights prior to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and protect against the Administration’s HHS that will violate the conscience rights of many individuals, businesses, and religious organizations that are not exempted as “churches.” Congress has a long-standing history of providing conscience protections that this amendment would restore.
Religious employers should not be forced either to violate their conscience or drop health insurance and face severe financial penalties. In essence, the Administration’s HHS mandate will push religious employers to drop health insurance for their employees, which will undermine women’s health and reduce the number of Americans who currently have health insurance through religious employers.
From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Former Sen. Bob Kerrey is thinking of making a comeback by running for the Senate again to represent Nebraska. His candidacy could give Democrats a fighting chance to hold onto the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Ben Nelson.
Analysts are seeing Sen. Harry Reid’s fingerprints on Kerrey, as the Nevadan angles to keep the Senate in Democratic control, and himself in position to remain as majority leader.
Democrats, who are defending 23 Senate seats this year, are playing defense in most parts of the country. A Kerrey decision to run puts the Dems on offense in Nebraska.
Quoting ‘knowledgeable Democratic sources,” Roll Call reported today that Reid and Guy Cecil, who is executive director of the Democrats’ Senate campaign arm, “have been instrumental in wooing Kerrey.”
Roll Call said it was told that Reid may even try to convince Senate Democrats to allow Kerrey to return to the Senate with his seniority intact if he wins, a tricky deal that would require some other senators to give up their standing.
Kerrey served two Senate terms, from 1988 to 2000, then retired but said he wanted to keep the door open for a return to public office someday.
President Obama’s Energy Secretary Confirms That Their Goal Isn’t Lower Prices And A Top Senate Dem Only Wants To Increase Production Overseas
Q: ‘Is The Overall Goal To Get Our Price Lower?’ SEC. STEVEN CHU: ‘No’
“The Energy Department isn’t working to lower gasoline prices directly, Secretary Steven Chu said Tuesday…” (“Chu: DOE Works To Wean U.S. Off Oil, Not Lower Prices” Politico, 2/28/12)
· COMMITTEE QUESTION: “But, is the overall goal to get our price lower?” SEC. STEVEN CHU: “No, the overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil…” (U.S. House Of Representatives, Appropriations Committee, Hearing, 2/28/12)
STEVEN CHU: “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” (“Times Tough For Energy Overhaul,” The Wall Street Journal, 12/12/08)
Current Price Of Gas ‘In Europe’
Italy: $9.24 Per Gallon
Germany: $8.36 Per Gallon
France: $8.33 Per Gallon
UK: $8.26 Per Gallon
Why Not Increase Production In America Too?
“Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the third-ranking member of the Senate Democratic leadership… wants Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to press Saudi Arabia to boost its production in case Iran cuts supply. ‘The SPR is not as good a solution as the Saudi solution…’” (“Worried Dems Pressing Obama On Gas Prices,” The Hill, 2/28/12)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): “These skyrocketing fuel prices are directly linked to the global energy market… To address this situation, I urge the State Department to work with government of Saudi Arabia to increase its oil production…” (Sen. Schumer, Letter To Sec. Clinton, 2/26/12)
· SCHUMER: “… lower production levels have a negative impact on global markets.” (“Schumer Calls For Saudis To Increase Oil Production,” WKBW News [Buffalo, NY], 2/26/12)
“Schumer shepherds his party’s messaging on a range of issues including economic stimulus and election themes that square off with the Republican Party.” (“Schumer’s Wall Street Backers Targeted In Tax Fairness Standoff,” Bloomberg, 2/27/12)
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In Maine, ABC News reports that NRSC Chairman John Cornyn thanked Senator Olympia Snowe for her service and expressed his confidence that the GOP remains well-positioned to win back a Senate majority in November. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) said Tuesday that despite the retirement of Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine), Republicans remain “well-positioned to win back a Senate majority in November.” “Maine has a proud history of electing independent leaders, including a Republican governor in 2010, and while this will be a key battleground in the fall, I am confident it will remain in Republican hands,” Cornyn said.
- Speaking of Maine, note this graph from the Cook Political Report’s Jennifer Duffy – The casual observer might see Maine as a solidly blue state, its two Republican U.S. Senators notwithstanding. A closer look, though, reveals a more complicated picture. In fact, Maine Democrats took quite a beating at the polls in 2010. Republican Paul LePage won the open-seat Governor’s race with 38 percent of the vote, followed by independent Eliot Cutler, who took 36 percent. Libby Mitchell, the Democratic nominee, placed third with just 19 percent. While both of the state’s Democratic House members were re-elected, it wasn’t by the comfortable margins they are accustomed to getting. In the state legislature, Republicans captured majorities in both chambers. Before the election, Democrats held a 95-seat to 55-seat (with one independent) majority that flipped to a Republican majority of 78 seats to 72 seats for Democrats with one independent. In the state Senate, Democrats saw their 20-seat to 15-seat advantage become a 20-seat Republican majority.
In Nebraska, where liberal Bob Kerrey continues to contemplate a run for the U.S. Senate, the Associated Press reports that Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Chuck Hassebrook is sticking in the race. Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Chuck Hassebrook says he’s staying in the race, no matter who else enters it. Hassebrook’s message comes a day after news that former U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey is reconsidering a run for the seat being vacated next year by Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson. Hassebrook said in a written release Tuesday that “any Nebraskan is welcome to enter this race. That is the nature of a healthy democracy.” But Hassebrook says no matter who else decides to run, he will not bow out.
- Meanwhile, the Omaha World-Herald reports that DNC Committeeman Vince Powers is firmly behind Hassebrook. I support Chuck Hassebrook, and I made my commitment to Chuck. Bob said he wasn’t running. It would have been great if he wanted to run. But he didn’t, and the train has left the station.
- Additionally, Nebraska Watchdog reports that Omaha’s Democrat Mayor Jim Suttle will also stand behind Hassebrook. Hassebrook said he talked to Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle today and Suttle — who has endorsed Hassebrook — said he will continue to stand by him.
- Finally, the McCook Daily Gazette reports that Kerrey is certainly to the left of most Nebraskans. He’s certainly to the left of most Nebraskans, particularly greater Nebraska, voting against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, opposing the flag burning amendment, receiving a 4 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee on abortion issues, and supporting universal health care in his presidential campaign, despite giving few of his restaurant or fitness club employees health insurance. He’s open to being accused of being a carpet bagger and an opportunist.
In Virginia, the Washington Times reports that George Allen has opened up a lead over former Democrat National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tim Kaine. For one of the first times in the campaign for U.S. Senate in Virginia, a poll shows significant daylight between Republican George Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine, the parties’ frontrunners in the race to replace retiring Sen. Jim Webb, a Democrat. Mr. Allen holds an 45-37 over Mr. Kaine, up from a three-point margin in September, according to a Roanoke College Poll released Tuesday.
In Nevada, KTVN-TV in Reno reports that Senator Dean Heller challenged Interior Secretary Salazar about the rising gas prices in the Silver State. Gas prices have been rising steadily for the past month and today on the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Nevada’s Dean Heller questioned Interior Secretary Ken Salazar about how high oil prices would get. “The question I guess we need to ask ourselves is this the direction that this department is going, and are we at some point under your leadership will gas prices get to $10 a gallon?”
- Meanwhile, Senator Dean Heller helped save 300 jobs in Washoe County by keeping Reno’s main post office open for business. As the Reno Gazette-Journal reports: U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and [Congressman] Amodei took some credit when it was announced last week that Reno’s main post office would remain open. U.S. Postal Service officials were considering closing the Vassar Street facility and shipping our mail to West Sacramento to be sorted. It would have added a day to Reno-to-Reno mail delivery. … Heller and Amodei can use the USPS decision in their 2012 campaigns. Here is a good example of saving jobs — about 300 — and both can rightfully claim credit.
In Massachusetts, the Boston Herald reports that Senator Scott Brown held a pro-jobs forum for small businesses. Sen. Scott Brown called yesterday for the passage of his “crowd-funding” bill at a City Hall forum, saying it can help bring investors and small businesspeople seeking funding together. “We’re finding there’s a disconnect between people that want to get financing and lend and people who have great ideas, but they can’t draw that connection,” Brown said after moderating a panel on access to capital for small businesses. “The crowd-funding bill we talked about is a great bill. It’s ready to go and they won’t bring it up. It’s shocking to me and many Democrats. We need to get our country moving. We’re Americans first. We can work together on this issue.”
In Ohio, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports that the GOP is pinning their hopes on Treasurer Josh Mandel. As the 2012 campaign heats up in Ohio, Republicans are pinning their hopes on a young Jewish military veteran to unseat Democratic incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown. Josh Mandel, a 34-year-old U.S. Marine Corps veteran and the current state treasurer, has faced a number of challenges but he is doing well in the polls. A recent Rasmussen Reports poll showed Mandel only four points behind Brown — a favorite of organized labor and liberals — in a hypothetical match-up.
- Meanwhile, WTVG-TV reports that Treasurer Mandel was in Toledo touting his pro-jobs agenda for the Buckeye State.
In North Dakota, KFYR-TV reports that Congressman Rick Berg helped secure $2 million for the city of Mandan for flood clean up. Congressman Rick Berg announced that Mandan will receive federal funds for flood clean up. The city will receive over $2.2 million in FEMA funds to help remove and dispose of temporary clay levees.
In Indiana, the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette reports that the NRSC assailed liberal Democrat Joe Donnelly as an Obama loyalist. Brian Walsh, communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, recently described Donnelly “a reliable vote for President Obama.”
In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that the most liberal member of the Wisconsin congressional delegation trails all three of her Republican rivals in a recent poll. In three matchups with Baldwin, Thompson has the strongest showing. Thompson is ahead 50%-36% over Baldwin. In a second matchup, former congressman Mark Neumann is ahead of Baldwin, 46%-37%. And in a third matchup, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon) is ahead of Baldwin 41%-40%.
In Missouri, the St. Joseph News-Press reports that the three Republicans vying to take on Chameleon Claire McCaskill filed their candidacies yesterday. Missouri Republicans wasted no time Tuesday in joining the field for a chance to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill. On Tuesday, national political analyst Stuart Rothenberg, writing in Roll Call, changed his forecast for Missouri’s Senate race from “tossup” to “tilts Republican.” Lloyd Smith, executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, said on Tuesday, “In 2012, Republicans are well positioned to take back this country from the likes of Barack Obama, Claire McCaskill and Jay Nixon, and we are seizing this opportunity.”
- Also in Missouri, the Springfield News-Leader reports on how much trouble Chameleon Claire faces in her attempt for re-election. Stuart Rothenberg, a nonpartisan political analyst in Washington, has knocked Sen. Claire McCaskill’s re-election prospects down a notch. In a take-out on the race published today, Rothenberg said he no longer the considers the race a “toss-up” that could go either way. “Republican insiders are already counting Missouri as a Senate pickup. It’s hard to argue with their reasoning, which is why I have moved Missouri from a pure tossup to a contest that now tilts Republican,” he wrote in a column today.
In New Jersey the Gloucester County Times reports that Republican State Senator Joe Kyrillos will be the keynote speaker at a GOP fundraiser in Gloucester County. Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Monmouth) will be the keynote speaker at the Gloucester County Republican Party’s annual fundraiser tonight at Botto’s Italian Restaurant in Swedesboro, where party leaders are expected to announce their endorsements for United States Senate and Congress for 2012. … “We are thrilled to have Senator Kyrillos make the trip from Monmouth County to be our Keynote Speaker tonight, and to have him help us celebrate all the successful Republican candidates in Gloucester County last year,” said Gloucester County Republican Party Chairman Bill Fey. “This is another critical year in Gloucester County, with majority control of the Freeholder Board at stake, and we like our changes with the dynamic, one-two punch of Senator Kyrillos and Congressman Frank LoBiondo leading our local ticket here in Gloucester County.”
In West Virginia, the Record Delta reports that Republican John Raese is running for the Senate because our country can’t afford a Senate controlled by tax-and-spend Democrats. And that’s why Raese said he is running for office again. “Not for my children anymore, not for my grandchildren anymore — it’s for all of us,” he said. “This country is in a lot of trouble. We have got to pay more attention to what government is doing to us right now. If we put Obama back in the White House again and give him a Democratic Senate again, what are we going to have? Gridlock. “If you put Joe Manchin back in there for another six years — you are going to have gridlock, Obamacare and stimulus. This country can’t take it any longer.”
From CBS Reno:
Gas prices have been rising steadily for the past month and today on the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Nevada’s Dean Heller questioned Interior Secretary Ken Salazar about how high oil prices would get. “The question I guess we need to ask ourselves is this the direction that this department is going, and are we at some point under your leadership will gas prices get to $10 a gallon?”
Salazar responded that the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 caused a significant dip in U.S. production, but that it is ramping up again. He also said the administration is looking at all options to prevent gas prices from getting too high.
According to gasbuddy.com, right now prices are $3.72 on average in Nevada – up almost 14 cents in the past week. And up more than 26 cents in the past month.
Nationwide prices are $3.62 cents on average – also up about the same amount in a month.
Gas prices could reach $5 a gallon in some areas by this summer.
From the National Journal:
Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., said on Wednesday that Rick Santorum was not able to win in Michigan and Arizona because of his focus on social issues, a charactrization his campaign denies.
“I think Sen. Santorum’s narrow focus on some of these issues hurt him in Michigan, hurt him in Arizona and will continue to be a weight around him as he moves forward,” said Mack, who endorsed Mitt Romney, on CNN’s Starting Point.
A spokesperson for Santorum’s campaign, speaking on the same show, denied that social issues were the reason Santorum lost his lead in Michigan, and said he could still win more delegates in the state than Romney.
After a pair of primary wins on Tuesday, Mitt was questioned by a reporter about a perilous trend among Republican voters. Exit poll data revealed that Republicans who self-identify as “very conservative” are still uncomfortable with Mitt. Michigan’s conservatives voted for Santorum over Romney by a 15-point margin, again raising doubts about the front-runner’s strength within his own party.
Off the cuff and sans talking points, how did Romney respond? Well, he spoke from his heart.
“It’s very easy to excite the base with incendiary comments,” he told reporters. “We’ve seen throughout the campaign that if you’re willing to say really outrageous things that are accusatory and attacking President Obama, that you’re going to jump up in the polls. You know, I’m not willing to light my hair on fire to try and get support.”
Yep, that’s us, the conservative base seen through the eyes of Mitt Romney. We don’t care about substance. We want fireworks. We want carnage. We want that Muslim president sent back to his Kenyan birthplace. At essence, we conservatives are really just a bunch of Yosemite Sams and Elmer Fudds. If it doesn’t go boom, we’re not interested.
At least Romney refrained from using the word “peasants.”
It is truly sad. Funny — for those who appreciate schadenfreude — but mostly sad. Mitt just can’t help himself from maligning his party’s base. He didn’t misspeak. He didn’t misunderstand the question. Whatever his faults, Mitt Romney is an honest, intelligent man. In his statement, he clearly enunciated what little he thinks of the base of the Republican Party. In a way, his honesty is admirable.
With that said, mistakes are not admirable. There’s a reason that President Obama uses a teleprompter for every public statement, large and small. The president is not dense. He simply knows that when he deviates from talking points, he reveals too much about himself. (See Joe the Plumber.) Romney should learn the same lesson.
Conservatives are unlikely to be offended by Romney’s comments. We know what Mitt is and what he isn’t. And, with sinking hearts and great anxiety, we also sense the seemingly inexorable inertia that is driving the GOP nomination into his grasp.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the anxiety that conservatives feel does not stem from Mitt Romney. It stems from the vacuum that Mitt currently occupies. Election outcomes are determined by voter enthusiasm. If you don’t believe in your candidates, you don’t show up at the polls. The effect has been especially pronounced in the last three cycles. And though November 2010 was just 16 months ago, it seems far away. Since our massive tea party-driven victory, conservatives haven’t seen much that could enthuse them. Neither our leadership in the House nor our presidential contenders have provided a success to rally behind or a vision to believe in. And few, if any, see Mitt Romney as the missing sparkplug.
I almost feel sorry for Mitt. He’s been running for president for nearly a decade. He looks the part. He has a first-rate organization. The party’s big wigs are in his corner. He’s got a dynamite resume, endless resources and a vulnerable opponent. And there are no skeletons in his closet. In short, Mitt Romney has all of the requisite strengths and none of the typical weaknesses in a surefire presidential nominee. The only problem is him.
Unlike Democrats, Republicans don’t need our candidates to love us or feel our pain. We need them to take a stand and mean what they say. In that light, Romney had a second notable, post-victory quote on Tuesday, “I’m going to deliver on more jobs, less debt, smaller government.”
Maybe a surprise candidate will enter the race. Maybe there will be a brokered convention. Maybe a meteor will strike the earth before November. In the meantime, get Mitt Romney a teleprompter.