Posts Tagged ‘2010 Elections’
Will Christine O’Donnell be forever branded a witch?
She may, unless she quickly transforms into Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz,” which she says she is considering as her Halloween costume.
She could do another campaign ad, featuring her resplendent in a blue-and-white gingham dress and red sparkling shoes while holding a Toto dog. “Are you a good witch or a bad witch?” an off-camera announcer might ask.
“Oh, I’m not a witch at all! I’m Dorothy from Kansas. I mean Christine from Delaware.”
Maybe Fred Davis – the GOP’s go-to irreverent ad man of the moment who prefers California to Washington – is in a studio somewhere creating that very ad. “I haven’t publicly stated this, and I don’t know if I’ll get in trouble for saying that, but our intention was to kill it [the witch ad], and that’s not what happened,” O’Donnell said in an interview with “Good Morning, America” on Thursday.
Davis told Politics Daily via e-mail, “The O’Donnell campaign had to rush full speed ahead into a national, major race, when they started from a small, hopeful primary campaign. It’s lightning speed each and every second, making every day a challenge. I think they are doing quite well with it!”
Another O’Donnell ad shot in the same “I’m You” vein goes after her Democratic opponent’s education. “I didn’t go to Yale,” she says of Chris Coons, as piano music plays in the background. Why? Because she’s just like you. Click play to watch ad:
O’Donnell is spending a lot of money on ads created by Davis. According to O’Donnell’s latest FEC reports, O’Donnell paid Davis’ Strategic Perception, Inc. $20,000 on Sept. 24 and $179,855 on Sept. 27.
Davis is not cheap. He created California U.S. Senate GOP nominee Carly Fiorina’s now-infamous primary ad against Tom Campbell that featured him as a red-eyed demon in sheep’s clothing. According to Fiorina’s April FEC report, Carly for California, Inc. paid Strategic Perception $230,784. It was during this time that Davis shot the devil sheep ad.
One of Davis’ most famous ads prior to this season was “Celebrity,” which juxtaposed President Barack Obama against Paris Hilton and Britney Spears as the biggest celebrity in the world during the 2008 presidential campaign. He was the creative guru behind the 2008 Republican National Convention. “I wrote every word in that damn convention,” Davis told The Washington Post.
So why does O’Donnell now regret the ad? Did the candidate not have the final word? Did Davis persuade O’Donnell to go forward with it although her gut told her to leave her witchy ways in the past? Maybe she didn’t have a choice. After all, Davis told TIME magazine recently in a profile piece, “We never present three or four ideas, and you pick one. We present one.”
To witch or not to witch, that was the possible question facing O’Donnell. As the Washington Post wrote last month, “He [Davis] controls every detail of his ad shoots and writes the scripts. He pushes and pleads with his nervous, starchy candidates to try ideas that other strategists would dismiss as too out-there.”
The witch ad may have been too out-there, some say. Joe Erwin, president of Erwin-Penland in Greenville, S.C., who has worked in Democratic politics, said the witch ad was a mistake. “By doing this she played on her opponents’ turf and played defense with the critics who were essentially mocking her,” Erwin said. “When you open an ad with that sentence, you’re digging a deeper hole.”
Erwin suggested a better way to handle the witch topic was to have responded with “self-deprecating humor, in a way that people would find her more likeable, and understand that the off-handed comments of a college-aged young woman really are not a threat and not representative of who she is now.”
Tom De Luca, a political science professor at Fordham University, said the ad underscores all of O’Donnell’s negatives, including that she looks young and not ready for prime time. “We want our politicians to be like us, but we want them to be able deal with the world of politics and power,” he said. “That doesn’t come through in that ad.”
But others say many voters liked the ad. Michael Maslansky of maslansky luntz + partners wrote Thursday that history will likely “look positively on her two backlit campaign ads. Aside from her opening line in the first ad, disclaiming her connections to the dark arts, both ads tested strongly with conservatives and independents, and even broke into positive territory with Dems.”
The witch ad – perhaps the most memorable of the midterms – helped raise a lot of campaign cash for O’Donnell from around the country. Even Mistress of the Dark Elvira launched her own parody of the ad Thursday afternoon. Christine O’Donnell may not win the Delaware Senate race, but she’s certainly become a household name, thanks to Fred Davis.
Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.) had his mustache for 41 years. But no more.
On Sunday, Snyder’s wife, the Rev. Betsy Singleton Snyder, shaved off her husband’s mustache at Gen. Wesley Clark’s Little Rock home. The reason: Joyce Elliott, the Democratic 2nd Congressional District candidate, raised $50,000.
Snyder, who has held the congressional seat since 1996 but decided not to seek re-election earlier this year, said last week that if Elliott raised $50,000 by Sunday he would shave off his mustache. Elliott’s campaign manager, John Whiteside, said in an e-mail last week, “We know the big corporations, Karl Rove and the billionaire Koch brothers have unlimited funds and total secrecy on their side in the 2010 election, but we have the unimaginable power of the mustache on our side.” The e-mail featured famous men with mustaches including the actors Tom Selleck and Sam Elliott — no relation to Joyce Elliott.
Elliott is running against Tim Griffin, a Republican and former Bush White House aide. A poll released Monday showed Elliott trailing Griffin by 12 points. An August poll showed Elliott down by 17 points. If Elliott were to be elected, she would be the first black to represent Arkansas in Congress.
Snyder said he was willing to shave off his beloved mustache to also prove the “stark contrasts” between Elliott and Griffin. He said Elliott has “great intelligence and integrity” and calls Griffin “a very flawed candidate” with a troubling past of lying about caseloads while he was a JAG attorney in the military and getting caught up in the U.S. attorney scandal.
“I’ll look for any opportunity to point that out,” Snyder told Politics Daily. “If a bag of mustache hair helps to tell that story then that’s what I’ll use.”
President Bill Clinton appeared at a rally for Elliott last Thursday, where he attacked Griffin’s past connections to Karl Rove while Griffin worked in the White House.
Griffin released a new ad Monday about the economy and the national debt. Last week, Elliott released an ad that hit on Griffin’s character. The ad featured Elliott standing in the church where she grew up, holding a Bible.
Pundits have said that the district, which includes Little Rock, will likely go Republican this year.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Former President Bill Clinton swung through Arkansas this week for a handful of campaign stops in his home state, taking a few hard-hitting swings at Republican opponents who are attacking his old friends running for office.
On Thursday morning, Clinton joined 2nd Congressional District candidate Joyce Elliott for a rally in a historic ballroom in downtown Little Rock. If elected, Elliott, who is a retired school teacher and state senator, would become Arkansas’ first black member of Congress.
Elliott needs all the help she can get. She trails her Republican opponent, Tim Griffin, a former Bush White House aide who worked with Karl Rove, in polls and fundraising. Griffin said in a press release Thursday during the Elliott event that he had raised more than $600,000 in this quarter and more than $1.57 million since the start of his campaign a year ago. Elliott has not released her latest totals.
“Karl Rove is a genius,” Clinton said, telling the crowd what he believes Republicans want voters to do during the midterm elections: “Stop thinking.”
Clinton added that Rove understands there is a deep “tribal” anger about the direction of the country that is fueling the midterms. Republicans like Rove are doing a good job at using talking points to tap into that anger to woo voters.
As for the race in the 2nd Congressional District, it took off after Democrat Vic Snyder, who has represented the district since 1996, announced his retirement in January, citing family issues. He is the father of four young children, including triplets.
That news set the stage for a five candidate Democratic primary in May, which led to an Elliott victory in a June runoff with Speaker of the House Robbie Wills. The district, which pundits say is trending Republican, encompasses seven rural counties and metropolitan Pulaski County, home to Little Rock, which is both the hub of state government and industry and home to two major military installations.
Snyder, who is famous for the bushy mustache he has had since 1969, said this week he will shave it off this Sunday at General Wesley Clark’s Little Rock home if Elliott can raise $50,000 by then.
At Thursday’s event, Snyder and Clinton hit Griffin hard on the issue of character.
Snyder held up a large poster that highlighted Griffin’s involvement in the controversy over the firing of nine U.S. Attorneys by the Bush administration in 2006-2007. The unusual nature of the dismissals created suspicion that the government lawyers were sacked because they didn’t see eye-to-eye ideologically with the White House.
Griffin replaced U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins, one of the nine. Some Democrats have alleged that Griffin, who had worked for Cummins from 2001-02, had been seeking the job as a stepping stone for a political career. Griffin served for six months and resigned before having to face Senate confirmation hearings. Arkansas Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln strongly questioned Griffin’s appointment.
“The same time he was saying nice things about Cummins, he was trashing him in the White House to get him fired,” Snyder said.
When Clinton took the stage along with Elliott, cheers and applause exploded. Clinton replayed the economics speech he gave the previous day on a campaign stop in northern Arkansas and attacked Griffin, accusing him of lying about his caseload while he was a military attorney. Clinton also went after Griffin on job creation.
“Her opponent hasn’t done one single thing to put anyone to work,” Clinton said.
“Except himself,” a supporter yelled.
“He tried to put a U.S. Attorney out of work, but that was so he could fill the job,” Clinton said. “There was no net increase there. And some of us think it was a net decrease.”
The Griffin campaign responded after the event. “It’s President Obama’s economy, not President Clinton’s, and Joyce Elliott’s false accusations and negative attacks do not create one new private sector job for Arkansas workers or take one dollar off the national debt,” Kenneth Ryan James, Griffin’s communications director, told Politics Daily “Joyce Elliott is campaigning to help move the job-killing Obama agenda forward — that is why Arkansans are rejecting her campaign.”
Both sides have launched TV attack ads. One Griffin ad quotes an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial that refers to Elliott smearing Griffin’s character in order to deflect her own record.
Elliott’s ad shows her standing in the church where she attended as a child holding a Bible. She says in the ad, “Thy shall not bare false witness” before adding that “It’s clear Tim Griffin never learned this lesson.”
Elliott accuses Griffin of lying about his record and conspiring to keep students and soldiers from voting. Democrats have alleged that Griffin was involved in the suppression of minority, homeless and service members’ votes while employed by the Republican National Committee in 2004. Griffin denied the accusations in a lengthy press release.
BATESVILLE, Ark. – President Bill Clinton descended on this small college town Wednesday with a mission: To stop the Republican wave threatening his state.
An hour and half away from Little Rock in north-central Arkansas, Batesville sits on the edge of the 1st Congressional District, which has been Democratic since the Reconstruction Era. This district is the bluest of the Blue Dog districts, and like most of Arkansas, it withstood the GOP’s national gains over the last 30 years.
But today, incumbent Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln is in the political fight of her life against Republican John Boozman.
And here in the 1st CD, Chad Causey, the Democrat hoping to replace retiring Rep. Marion Berry, is lagging 12 points behind Republican Rick Crawford.
On Wednesday, with Causey at his side and Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” blaring in the background, Clinton walked onto the community college auditorium stage and did his best to rally the crowd of 300.
Clinton framed his message around football, telling those in the crowd that they need to look at politics like a football game. He said football fans know every stat when it comes to their favorite teams, and voters should have that same focus.
Clinton sprinkled his speech with references to Lincoln, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and planned to attend a campaign rally for her in an airplane hangar in Jonesboro on Wednesday night. Lincoln represented the 1st CD for two terms during Clinton’s presidency.
The 1st CD remains a critical bulwark for Arkansas Democrats, said Jay Barth, a political science professor at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark.
“I do see it as a firewall for the Democrats’ hopes of maintaining the U.S. House,” said Barth. “If they lose a district like that, any hopes of Nancy Pelosi being re-elected speaker are gone. I’m not as sure that if the 1st goes Republican, that it’s gone forever for the party. That said, a loss there (along with loses in the 2nd Congressional District and U.S. Senate race) would be psychologically devastating to the Arkansas Democratic Party. And, we know that political dynamics are driven to a great degree by psychology.”
No one knows that better than Clinton, who kept the crowd spellbound as he spoke. He received loud applause numerous times throughout his speech. Clinton lashed out at the Bush administration and the eight years that the Republican Congress borrowed money from China to pay for two wars and a senior drug package.
“If ever there was an example of not watching the game film, this is it,” he said, adding that Republicans have forgotten the deficit they created. “The game film shows the facts.”
Clinton then became more passionate as he reeled off one economic fact after another. “I am the most fiscally responsible president you’ve had in your lifetime,” he said to explosive applause.
He added that it is too early – 21 months – to elect a new team.
“They [the Republicans] are playing you folks — don’t be played,” Clinton said.
Democratic Maine gubernatorial candidate Libby Mitchell has been called out by her opponent, Paul LePage, for posing with a framed document that has an image of President George W. Bush describing him as an “International Terrorist.” In the picture, Mitchell is laughing.
The fracas began Monday night at a gubernatorial debate when Mitchell, the country’s only woman to serve as both the president of a state senate and house speaker, brought up some past comments that LePage made about President Barack Obama. LePage told a group of fisherman that if elected, he’d be on the front page frequently, telling Obama to “go to hell.” Monday night, Mitchell said that a governor must be respectful of a president.
LePage, the mayor of Waterville* and a businessman, fired back that he’d seen a picture of Mitchell mocking Bush, implying it was none too respectful. Mitchell denied the picture existed. But after the debate, LePage’s campaign released the photo. Mitchell, a 30-year veteran of state government, has since apologized.
“A person who was at a Democratic fundraiser earlier in the year with Libby Mitchell sent it to us,” Lance Dutson, spokesman for the state GOP, told Politics Daily. “This person was disgusted by Mitchell’s hypocrisy of attacking LePage about his Obama comments when there was this picture out there.”
The photo had also been previously posted on Facebook. The Democratic Party of Maine said the picture was taken in a private home during a light-hearted moment.
LePage, too, has apologized for his statements regarding Obama.
Polls show the contentious gubernatorial race is in a dead heat. The Republican Party recently launched a lengthy online ad attacking Mitchell for lavish renovations to the statehouse when she was speaker of the House. In turn, the Democratic Party released a two-minute ad titled “Statesman or Bully?”
The poster child for political jeopardy this year is Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Democrat of Arkansas.
On the surface, it appeared that Lincoln, a seasoned, victorious veteran of four federal campaigns, had adroitly threaded the political needle in preparation for re-election. Since becoming a senator in 1998, she has played the role of independent Blue Dog centrist, often voting against her party to curry favor among conservative Democrats and independent voters back home.
After Sen. Edward Kennedy died, Lincoln became the first woman and Arkansan to chair the Senate Agriculture Committee, a plum position considering agriculture is Arkansas’ largest industry.
But less than a month before the midterm elections, Lincoln is in trouble.
Progressives began to criticize her last year. A whisper campaign took root about how Lincoln, who has a home in Virginia with her husband and twin sons, never visited Arkansas.
Lincoln found herself in the controversial waters of the health care overhaul, an issue that she vacillated on but supported in the end. In the spring, she drew two primary opponents and engaged in a bloody battle that she survived in a June run-off.
Dark clouds gathered around Lincoln exactly at the same time that the national Tea Party and Republican rabble-rousing made some inroads in Arkansas, which has been a predominantly Democratic state since the Reconstruction era.
If Lincoln’s main primary rival, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, had won, he’d likely be facing similarly troubling prospects.
For better or worse, Lincoln finds herself a victim of Arkansas’ changing political climate – at least this year.
“It’s just not a good year to be a Democrat, even, apparently, if you’re wielding a powerful position in agriculture and representing a state that is by tradition more thoroughly Democratic than nearly any other,” said Janine Parry, political science professor at the University of Arkansas.
Lincoln isn’t facing a particularly charismatic Republican opponent. Rep. John Boozman has served the Republican-dominated 3rd Congressional District for nine years. The low-key politician easily beat eight other candidates in the May primary. He hasn’t run a lot of television ads and has less money than Lincoln.
But Boozman is an alternative to Lincoln, and that’s enough for some voters.
In a recent Rasmussen Reports poll, Boozman led Lincoln by 55 percent to 37 percent, with 5 percent undecided. Three percent preferred some other candidate. A Green Party candidate along with an Independent are also on the November ballot.
Lincoln is far from the only Arkansas Democrat in trouble.
Some state legislative seats and constitutional offices that have been Democratic since the 1800s are now considered toss-ups. The Republican Party of Arkansas has fielded its largest slate of candidates ever, from county judges to federal offices.
The state GOP, with help from the Republican National Committee, has also stepped up its grassroots ground game. Alice Stewart, Republican Party of Arkansas senior communications adviser, gives Lincoln credit for making the party stronger.
“This push that you’re seeing started with angry voices not being heard by Lincoln during the health-care debate,” said Stewart. “People started getting engaged. They went from being concerned to becoming extremely engaged. That’s why you had so many Republican candidates in the primary who wanted to take on Lincoln.”
Stewart said that enthusiasm trickled down to other races that Republicans have not had much of a chance of winning in prior elections.
A perfect example is the 1st Congressional District, which Lincoln represented for two terms. Rep. Marion Berry has held the seat in the heavily rural district since 1997.
In January, Berry announced his retirement. His chief of staff, Chad Causey, is running against Republican Rick Crawford, a businessman and agricultural broadcaster. Polls show the race to be a dead heat.
The 2nd Congressional District seat, which has been held by Democrat Vic Snyder – Arkansas’ most progressive congressman – could become Republican. Snyder decided earlier this year not to seek re-election. Former Bush White House aide Tim Griffin faces Joyce Elliott, a retired schoolteacher and state legislator who beat four opponents in the May primary. If Elliott could pull out a victory, she would be the state’s first black representative to Washington. But polls show Griffin leading Elliott by 20 points.
For the last 30 years, Bill Clinton’s star power both as governor and president helped to stymie a massive Republican takeover in his home state. He is once again attempting to inoculate against the red tide.
Clinton returns to Arkansas next week to campaign for Lincoln and the Democratic ticket in Jonesboro, a college town in the 1st Congressional District. The district may be the firewall that keeps the Arkansas congressional delegation from flipping to the GOP. Clinton last campaigned for Arkansas Democrats in September. This week, Lincoln began airing a television ad featuring the former president.
Even if Republicans make gains, Arkansas will remain a Democratic state. All constitutional offices are held by Democrats and 87 percent of local elected officials are Democrats, said Joel Coon, Democratic Party of Arkansas communications director.
“Any talk of a Republican takeover of the state is premature and a little silly,” said Coon. “This is a crazy year and Republicans are feeling confident in their chances, but they are counting their chickens before they are hatched.”
The Republican tide that washed over the South in the 1980s and ’90s may finally be rolling into Arkansas. But Parry cautions that it will take more than one election cycle for Republicans to claim domination.
“The Republican bench continues to be miserably shallow, so shallow – I’d propose – that although the current national environment may help build, finally, a sustained Republican apparatus in Arkansas, it might also sweep in some Republican winners who just weren’t ready for prime time,” Parry said. “That could mean dashed hopes for competitive elections, again, in 2012.”
The Stonewall Democrats in Arkansas are not happy with Blanche Lincoln.
In fact, members of the group feel like they have “egg on their face,” according to one e-mail after Lincoln’s vote Tuesday on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Lincoln and Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor were the only two Democrats who joined all 40 Republicans in voting to block the bill. The Democratic majority needed 60 votes to break a filibuster and begin consideration of the bill — which would repeal a law preventing gays from serving openly in the military — but fell short 43 to 56.
On Tuesday night, Arkansas’ Stonewall Democrats, a Democratic Party GLBT caucus that has about 300 members statewide, had planned a fundraiser for Lincoln at a private home in Little Rock. On Monday, she called the event’s organizers to say that she had to cancel her appearance in order to return to Washington to be part of a historic vote, said Debbie Willhite, a political consultant and a member of the Arkansas’ Stonewall Democrats.
“She said she was going to Washington and hopefully be the 60th or 61st vote to move ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ forward,” Willhite told Politics Daily. “It’s very disappointing. I think she took a position on the procedure like she did on health care. She didn’t do the right thing that she seemed to indicate to us that she was ready to do. If it was just a battle of whose procedural rules were going to carry the day, it seems to have been intuitive to vote with the Democratic leadership.”
Lincoln said she voted against the measure on procedural grounds.
On Wednesday, she told Politics Daily in an e-mail: “I’m disappointed that some believe this procedural vote alters my support for allowing the military to repeal DADT. This is not true. This issue was taken hostage by election-year politics. I voted against this procedure because of the lack of an open amendment process; in fact, I had eight amendments to improve the quality of life for our troops that could not be considered. Yesterday could have been a bipartisan show of support for repealing DADT, but the procedure that was chosen made that impossible.”
In the past, Lincoln said she would support a repeal, but only when military leaders say it’s time.
In a statement released on Tuesday after the vote, she said, “I am a cosponsor of the DREAM Act, and have stated that I will support the Lieberman compromise, which would repeal the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy when our military commanders say it is appropriate for our military readiness and national security.”
She added, “I think the stalemate we find ourselves in today is an example of Congress’ failure to appropriately deal with issues of critical importance to Arkansans and the American people, and that is why people are so angry.”
Lincoln also blamed both parties, saying “they are too focused on how they can embarrass one another and we are no longer doing what our constituents expect us to do – work together to find common ground and move our nation forward.”
Progressives have not been happy with Lincoln, a Blue Dog Democrat, for many reasons.
During her primary against Lt. Governor Bill Halter, unions and progressive groups like MoveOn.org supported her opponent, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. Lincoln has been in the cross-hairs of environmentalists for myriad issues, including her support of Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s effort to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its ability to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
For some gays and lesbians in Arkansas, Lincoln’s reasoning for her “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” vote doesn’t wash, especially when top military leaders have said it should be repealed.
In an e-mail thread, one gay Lincoln supporter said that the senator showed her “true colors” with her vote. Many have said that they will not donate to her campaign. They are urging others to donate instead to an October Stonewall Democrat fundraiser, which will help support progressive candidates at the state level, that will feature comedian and actor Leslie Jordan.
There are no current plans for the Stonewall Democrats to reschedule a fundraiser for Lincoln.
Chris Kell, an organizer for the October event benefiting the Stonewall Democrats, said this week’s fundraiser had been planned for a little more than a month.
“It was a horrible vote for the Stonewall Democrats, but the only good thing to come of it is that Lincoln has raised awareness of the issues that the Stonewall Democrats care about,” Kell said.
For many in Arkansas’ liberal base, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was the one issue that they hung their hopes on with Lincoln. Polls show Lincoln trailing her Republican opponent, Rep. John Boozman, by margins ranging from from 17 points to 27 points. She was to appear in Boston Wednesday at a fundraiser with Vice President Joe Biden, but she canceled due to a scheduling conflict.
At home, Lincoln has her work cut out for her in trying to woo back the Stonewall Democrats and their allies before Election Day.
“Hopefully there’ll be a vote between now and November 2 and she can show us what her real intentions are,” Willhite said. “She needs to do something affirmative. Many of us stuck with her through the primary. It’s very disappointing and sad.”
Five former U.S. attorneys are gathering in Little Rock, Ark., on Monday to discuss a mutual, and curious, political past. All of them were fired by the Bush administration during 2006-07.
The controversy erupted when officials of George W. Bush’s White House and Alberto Gonzales’ Justice Department fired nine U.S. attorneys in midterm. All of them had been appointed by the Bush administration. The unusual nature of the firings created suspicion that the government lawyers were sacked because they didn’t see eye-to-eye ideologically with the White House.
The reasons are myriad but include failure to prosecute Democratic politicians, and conversely, as retribution for prosecuting Republican politicians. Another reason to fire the attorneys was to clear the path for young Republicans to start political careers.
The event that brings together five of those former U.S. attorneys is hosted by the Clinton School of Public Service and the University of Arkansas-Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. According to a news release, the panel will discuss professional ethics and lessons that can be learned from the controversial firings.
The five former U.S attorneys are Carol Lam, Southern District of California; David Iglesias, District of New Mexico; Paul Charlton, District of Arizona; Bud Cummins, Eastern District of Arkansas; and John McKay, Western District of Washington.
The five gathered in Arizona in January for a similar panel. But Monday’s Arkansas panel comes with complicated political ties.
Cummins, who served five years, was replaced by Tim Griffin, who worked as an aide in the Bush White House. He is now running as the Republican nominee for Congress in Arkansas’ 2nd District against Democrat Joyce Elliott. If elected, Elliott would be the first black elected to Congress in Arkansas. A recent poll shows Elliott trailing by 35 percent to 52 percent.
The seat has been held by Democratic Rep. Vic Snyder since 1996, when Snyder ran against Cummins. Cummins lost that race with 48 percent of the vote to Snyder’s 52 percent. He later served as former Gov. Mike Huckabee’s chief legal counsel.
Some Arkansas Republicans have whispered about the timing of the event, considering Cummins is a Griffin foe and the Clinton School is a co-sponsor. They suggest that this panel will embarrass Griffin and aid Elliott’s struggling race. But Alice Stewart, senior communications adviser for the Republican Party of Arkansas, says that some Republicans don’t believe the conspiracy. “I’m sure the deans at the Clinton School and UALR Law School would not use public funds to influence an election,” Stewart said. “I believe the timing is merely a coincidence.”
Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School, told Politics Daily that the event has been planned for months.
Griffin declared his intention to run for Congress almost a year ago.
“The date was built around the schedules of participants — not an election,” Rutherford said. “I first thought about it when I read about them speaking together at an event months ago in some other state.”
Rutherford said that the school had previously hosted both Griffin and Cummins as well as Karl Rove to speak at the Clinton School.
Monday’s event is likely to trigger a rash of press releases by Elliott’s campaign and the Democratic Party of Arkansas highlighting Griffin’s past connections with the scandal. It will put pressure on Griffin to publicly explain his side of the story in more detail.
Griffin resigned his interim position as U.S. attorney after six months. As Congress began investigating the firings, documents showed that the White House wanted a vacant slot in Little Rock so Griffin could fill it. He resigned before confirmation hearings.
When Bill Clinton visited Arkansas earlier this month for a series of fundraisers for Democratic candidates, he had harsh words about Griffin.
Clinton voiced his support for Elliott, saying, “There is none of the kind of ethical problems and political-abuse-of-power charges and all those other things that have come out against her opponent (Griffin). And the main thing is he wants to join that group of people that will go back and do those things that got us in trouble in the first place. It’s not about blaming them for the past – it is about what they want to do tomorrow.”
In 2007, Arkansas’ two Democratic senators, Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln, expressed doubts about placing Griffin, a former Republican National Committee operative, in charge of a U.S. attorney’s office. The Washington Post reported that e-mails showed that Justice officials prepared to use a change in federal law to bypass input from Pryor or Lincoln.
“This was a very loyal soldier to the Republicans and the Bush administration, and they wanted to reward him,” Pryor said at the time. “They had every right to do this, but it’s the way they handled it, and the way they tried to cover their tracks and mislead Congress, that has turned this into a fiasco for them.”
In July, Obama’s Justice Department announced that no indictments would occur from the investigation.
Calling Bill Clinton. That’s the S.O.S. sounding among Arkansas Democrats.
The former president returns to his home state this week with a schedule chock full of fundraisers, including a breakfast Thursday morning for incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln. She faces an uphill battle against Republican Rep. John Boozman.
In a year when having an “R” by your name could mean easy victory, the question is whether Clinton can save Democratic candidates in Arkansas.
Clinton is the most in-demand Democrat on the campaign trail this year. Arkansas Democrats say he plans to spend a lot of time in the state to rally the troops – and what’s left of his political machine – to victory in the fall. But Clinton has his work cut out for him.
Arkansas has traditionally trended red in the presidential column. The only exceptions since 1972 are Jimmy Carter’s election in 1976 and Clinton’s in 1992 and re-election in 1996. Arkansas Democrats have long controlled Congress, the legislature and county seats, but that might change this cycle.
“I think that Clinton can instill a measure of energy, enthusiasm and commitment in party activists that will carry them forward in the next eight weeks,” said Hal Bass, a political science professor at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark. “I think he can also provide a reminder of legitimacy for traditional Democrats who may sense that the landscape has shifted, leaving them on the outside. I think these efforts can be effective at the margins.”
The Democratic Party of Arkansas sent out an e-mail earlier this week touting Clinton’s events in the state Wednesday and Thursday.
His first appearance of the day was at a luncheon for Second Congressional District candidate Joyce Elliott at the Copper Grill, a few blocks from his presidential library. Elliott volunteered on both of Clinton’s presidential campaigns.
If she wins, Elliott would be the first black elected to Congress in Arkansas. A recent poll shows Elliott down 35 percent to her Republican opponent, Tim Griffin, a former Bush White House aide, with 52 percent. The seat has been held by Democratic Rep. Vic Snyder since 1996.
Clinton spoke harshly about Griffin to reporters Wednesday after the Elliott fundraiser.
“There is none of the kind of ethical problems and political-abuse-of-power charges and all those other things that have come out against her opponent. And the main thing is he wants to join that group of people that will go back and do those things that got us in trouble in the first place. It’s not about blaming them for the past — it is about what they want to do tomorrow,” Clinton said.
Griffin has said Arkansans are rejecting Elliott’s campaign because she would be working with the Obama Administration.
Following Clinton’s remarks, Griffin responded: “We are focused on private sector job creation and getting our fiscal house in order, and folks are responding to our positive campaign.”
Griffin has been accused by Democrats of keeping blacks and other Democratic voters in Florida away from polls in the 2004 presidential election. At the time he worked for the Republican National Committee. He has also been accused of a role in the U.S. attorney scandal in 2006, which forced the resignation of seven top Justice Department officials, including the attorney general of the United States.
Clinton also appeared at a fundraiser at his old haunt, Doe’s Eat Place, for long-time friend Carolyn Staley, who is running for the state legislature.
After that, he popped into a house party for First Congressional District candidate Chad Causey, who has served as Rep. Marion Berry’s chief of staff for five years. A Talk Business poll shows Causey down 32 percent to Republican Rick Crawford’s 48 percent. Causey’s grandfather, Hugh Ashley, campaigned for Clinton during his gubernatorial races.
“The various and sundry candidates can bask in his glow, to their benefit,” Bass said. “They can also benefit from listening to, and imitating, his rhetoric. Clinton knows how to frame a campaign argument effectively. However, I don’t see him sweeping in, and through his charisma, restoring the landscape to reflect its traditional Democratic advantage. At best, he can begin to level the playing field for the remainder of the campaign season.”
Clinton closed the day with a celebration for Lincoln’s first anniversary as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. He campaigned with Lincoln in May during her tough primary campaign against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. After a rally with Clinton, the dynamics of the race changed. Lincoln squeaked out a win in the June run-off.
Clinton acknowledged to reporters earlier in the day that Lincoln may be the most endangered incumbent this year, but stressed Lincoln’s position on the committee.
He said the chair is “not only the leader in agriculture policy but controls development funds for small towns in rural America, and she has delivered over and over and over again. So I think if she can make it about the issues, what do we need to do, who’s most likely to do it, as opposed to anger, apathy and amnesia, I think she can still win this race.”
Just hours before her evening celebration, Lincoln announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has agreed to purchase up to $30 million of poultry products for federal food-nutrition-assistance programs, providing a boost to Arkansas’s poultry industry and economy. The poultry industry represents one of every six jobs in Arkansas.
At the packed event held inside a ballroom at Little Rock’s train station, Clinton told the crowd that it would be a “terrible mistake” for voters not to re-elect Lincoln, especially given her standing as agriculture chair. She is the first woman and first Arkansan to hold that position.
He hammered home that Republicans want Democratic and independent voters to feed on anger, apathy and amnesia — his theme for the day.
Neither Clinton nor Lincoln ever mentioned Boozman by name. Clinton said that Republicans want to repeal health care reform, privatize Social Security and Medicare and halt the stimulus plan.
Clinton said angry voters should use caution when making a decision: “When you make a decision when you’re mad, there’s about an 80 percent chance you’ll make a mistake. It’s having nothing to do about politics,” he said. “Think about your whole life.”
And what should Democrats do to win in November? “Get out and tell our side of the story,” Clinton said.
Get a grip, ladies.
On the 90th anniversary of suffrage, the gauntlet has been thrown between Republican and Democratic women, featuring volleys of nasty words and more wildlife imagery than an issue of Field and Stream.
Susan B. Anthony would not be proud.
This week, EMILY’s List, a national political group dedicated to electing pro-choice progressive women, launched a campaign — “Sarah Doesn’t Speak For Me” — against Sarah Palin to counter the former vice-presidential nominee and her Mama Grizzly candidates. The group encouraged women “to reject Palin’s reactionary candidates and backward-looking agenda.” But the issue that most deeply divides Palin and EMILY’s List is abortion. Palin’s camp is pro-life, and EMILY’s List is pro-choice.
A companion video to the campaign shows women discussing pertinent issues such as health care and abortion, but they are dressed like bears. Yes, essentially Mama Grizzlies fighting Palin. A stream of women wearing fur headgear and black plastic noses growl and snarl at the camera, talking about their baby cubs having the right to choose.
One Mama Grizzly says Palin’s agenda “gets under my skin, and my fur and my nails, my beautiful manicured cub claw nails.”
Palin responded to EMILY’s List via her Twitter account Wednesday: “Who hijacked term:”feminist”?A cackle of rads who want 2 crucify other women w/whom they disagree on a singular issue; it’s ironic (& passé).”
In July, Palin released a video — ” Mama Grizzlies” — promoting female GOP candidates. She added another animal to the political circus when she said in the video, “Look out Washington, because there’s a whole stampede of pink elephants crossing and the e.t.a. for them stampeding through is November 2, 2010.”
After Palin’s tweet Wednesday afternoon, the catfight between political sisters deepened.
In a Facebook post titled “Proud to Support More Women Leaders on the 90th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage,” Palin wrote that Americans should honor the “brave feminist foremothers who struggled and sacrificed . . . to grant future generations of American women a voice.”
The former Alaskan governor also chose to endorse several women in the Facebook note, including congressional candidates in Alabama, North Carolina, Indiana and Missouri, two candidates for attorney general in Florida and Iowa and a secretary of state candidate in Alabama.
Palin then extended her claws in the direction of EMILY’s List, although she didn’t mention the group by name. She offered advice “to our sisters who like to throw stones at those of us who respectfully disagree with them on this issue (and they sometimes refuse to even countenance the fact that some of us can call ourselves feminists and disagree with those who claim the mantle of “real feminists”).
She informed EMILY’s List that it was hard to take “a critic seriously when they lecture you wearing a bear suit.”
Borrowing an image from popular culture, she wrote, “But, really, lying about a sister while wearing an Ewok outfit is no way to honor our foremothers on the eve of the 90th anniversary of their victory.”
Palin confessed she wants to know where EMILY’s List bought the bear “get-ups.”
“Halloween is just around the corner, and Piper and Trig would look adorable as little grizzly bears,” Palin wrote.
EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock responded with her own tweet: “you might’ve watched the video, but you & your allies aren’t listening to women about #HCR, #FinReg, & our families.”
But while Palin and Schriock engaged in online warfare, another battle brewed in Minnesota.
Randy Brown, a Minnesota Republican webmaster, unleashed a video titled “Republican Women vs. Democrat (sic) Women,” insinuating GOP women were sexy babes and Democratic women were disgusting dogs. Brown posted the mash-up video on a Republican website for Minnesota State Senate District 56.
To the crooning of Tom Jones’ “She’s a Lady,” the video, which has been flagged by YouTube as inappropriate, highlighted a bevy of Republican women including Palin, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Ann Coulter and even Bo Dereck, an ardent GOP supporter, in a gleaming gold bikini from her perfect “10″ days. Some of the women struck sexy poses, wore fishnets or showed cleavage.
In the middle of the video, the song melds into Baha Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out” and shows Democratic women and supporters – Hillary Rodham Clinton, Janet Reno, Rosie O’Donnell and Nancy Pelosi – in unflattering and at times, grotesque, poses.
The video was removed from the website Wednesday at the request of statehouse candidate Andrea Kieffer, who called the video “juvenile.”
Another Republican candidate for the district, Kathy Lohmer, has asked for the resignation of the webmaster. State Sen. Kathy Saltzman said the video was a distraction.
The Women’s Media Center in New York demanded an apology for the video.
“This incident is symptomatic of a larger illness: the widespread sexism and objectification of women in politics,” the group said in a press release. “Though the video clearly prefers Republican women over Democratic women, it does a disservice to women across the political spectrum by evaluating them solely based on their appearances rather than on their merits or platforms.”
EMILY’s List also hit back against the video, asking Bachmann and Palin to denounce the video. Could the video be the catalyst for uniting sisters from both parties to a common cause?
So far, neither Bachmann nor Palin have done so.
In her Facebook post, Palin wrote, “So, ladies, let’s lead. In the words of that great American woman, Abigail Adams, ‘We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them.’ Let’s get things done.”
She’s right. Hopefully on Thursday, she’ll denounce the Minnesota video that shows her wearing skimpy shorts.