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Sarah Palin: Could She Run as an Independent or Third Party Candidate?

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Sarah Palin talks a lot about the tea party.

On Fox News last week, she said, “I find inspiration in tea party patriots [and] those with common sense who aren’t playing a lot of games.”

She could be considered the tea party’s godmother. With her Sarah PAC and support for 2010 tea party candidates, Palin has generated a lot of good will, not to mention publicity, for a movement that began only two years ago. She also isn’t afraid to attack popular Republicans such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Further proof that Palin isn’t always a GOP team player: She is skipping the first GOP primary debate on May 2 to give a keynote address, “Tribute to the Troops with Sarah Palin,” at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colo. Some take this as a sure sign, along with her tanking poll numbers in key places like Iowa, that Palin will not seek the White House in 2012.

Could Palin, ever the rogue, be concocting a different plan?

What if Palin is building a grassroots army of patriots to help her undertake this mission? Palin, unlike any failed vice presidential candidate before her, has taken an opportunity and spun it into a gold mine. But to remain relevant in a crowded 2012 field of attention-seeking veteran politicians, Palin may have to make an unconventional move.

Although third-party candidates seldom win in America’s two-party system, they can certainly rain on political parades. At the same time, they can help down-ballot candidates by getting voters to the polls who might otherwise stay at home.

Palin certainly has many of the qualities of a third-party candidate – charismatic and passionate, with a status as an outsider intent on storming the barricades of the establishment.

Consider previous candidates with engaging and controversial personalities who attempted to carve their own path to the Oval Office.

Larger-than-life Theodore Roosevelt ran on his Bull Moose Party ticket in 1912. He won 27.4 percent of the popular vote and carried six states, totaling 88 electoral votes. Roosevelt’s candidacy split the Republican vote, and Democrat Woodrow Wilson won the election.

In 1948, Strom Thurmond ran as a Dixiecrat segregationist, a major draw in Southern states. Former Democratic governor George Wallace of Alabama ran in 1968 on the American Independent Party line. He remains the only third-party candidate since 1948 to win a state.

Ronald Reagan didn’t face just Jimmy Carter. He also had to run against John Anderson, who had run in the crowded Republican primary. When it looked certain that Reagan would win, Anderson jumped to an independent candidacy. He received support from Rockefeller Republicans, author Gore Vidal, television sitcom creator Norman Lear and even the editors of “The New Republic.”

One of the most prominent third-party candidates, perhaps, is Ross Perot. With his charts and nasal voice, he became a household name and the star of many “Saturday Night Live” skits, with Dana Carvey playing Perot. The billionaire Texan threw a wrench into George H.W. Bush’s re-election bid against Bill Clinton. He finished second in two states – Utah, ahead of Clinton, and Maine, ahead of Bush. Perot won 18.9 percent of the popular vote but no electoral votes.

He gave it another shot in 1996, but with lesser impact, on the Reform Party ticket. He garnered 8 percent of the popular vote.

Ralph Nader has run four times for president – twice as a Green Party candidate in 1996 and 2000 and twice as an independent, in 2004 and 2008.

For Palin to run as a tea party candidate, it would require money and keen organization. To become a legitimate third party, as opposed to its current status as a movement, the tea party would face a series of steep obstacles it likely could not scale by 2012.

For example, each state has its own ballot-access laws. Some states simply require a filing fee, but others have complex petition-gathering requirements for a party to become established, purposely aimed at keeping third parties off the ballot and protecting the elevated status of the major parties.

And the tea party isn’t showing any effort to become established.

That’s because the Republicans have figured out, for now, how to please the tea party.

“The tea party potentially forming a third-party movement would happen if they become completely disgusted with the Republicans,” said Dr. Jim Broussard, professor of history at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa.”That doesn’t seem likely now. Both in Washington and at the state level, most Republicans have figured out what people sent them to do.”

But what if the 2012 Republican nominee, maybe Mitt Romney or outgoing China ambassador Jon Huntsman, isn’t a tea party darling? Palin could emerge as the conservative populist alternative. Her best bet then would be to align with an established third party such as the Reform Party, like Pat Buchanan did in 2000, or run as an independent.

One downside of running as an independent? Absolutely no structure to rely on for support. But Palin already has a built-in voter, and fan, base. She has more than 2.7 million Facebook fans and 439,000 Twitter followers. She raises millions through her PAC, and gets massive media coverage from one tweet. She would likely have no problem covering the filing fees to get on the ballots in various states. Palin could use her social media tentacles to gather signatures on petitions in states that require such.

Politico has reported that she could set up a presidential base in Arizona. That might be the perfect spot to launch an independent bid. The tea party recently held a summit in the state, which Palin did not attend but endorsed. It’s also the state where Barry Goldwater revamped the modern-day conservative movement in the 1960s. Palin, in turn, could revolutionize the status of the independent candidate in Sen. John McCain’s back yard without playing by the Iowa and New Hampshire game.

Matthew Kerbel, professor of political science at Villanova University, said, “Her history suggests she would relish the opportunity to run without having to do the heavy lifting of campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire, and she would certainly want her supporters to come to her and demand that she run.”

Then again, Kerbel says, “She may be the first candidate in history to run for president in order to preserve their place as a pop culture figure.”

[Originally published on Politics Daily, March 9, 2011]

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Written by suziparker1313

March 10, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Sarah Palin’s India Trip: Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela Have Made Same Journey

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The jokes are already flying as Sarah Palin prepares to embark on a trip to India later this month, and more are surely to come. Will she rock a sari? Perhaps guest star in a Bollywood movie? Or bathe in the Ganges for a photo op?

Palin has been invited to give the keynote address, “My Vision of America,” at the two-day India Today conclave in New Delhi, an event hosted annually by the magazine since 2002. The March 18-19 event is sponsored by global business heavyweight Aditya Birla Group, a billion-dollar metals company, along with a bevy of industry co-sponsors.

The news came in late February via her cybermessenger, Rebecca Mansour, who tweeted: “Governor Palin will be travelling to India next month.” Neither Palin nor Mansour has expounded on the details of trip.

Representatives for India Today did not return e-mails about Palin’s trip. India Today is the country’s most diversified media group, with interests in magazines, newspaper, television, radio, Internet, books and music.

It is unclear if she is getting paid to appear, but Palin usually charges upwards of $100,000 for such speaking engagements, according to various news accounts.

Palin has traveled outside the United States only a few times since Sen. John McCain chose her as his running mate in 2008. At that point, she had only traveled to the Middle East to visit U.S. troops. Since then, she has given a speech in Hong Kong and visited Haiti alongside Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham.

An article by the magazine on the conclave website states: “Her visit to India has generated immense buzz in U.S. political circles over if she will run for president in 2012. Palin is reportedly shy of traveling abroad but her keynote address at the India Today Conclave 2011 is seen as an attempt to articulate foreign policy where she was found wanting in her 2008 bid for V-P, say some experts.”

New York Sun columnist Pranay Gupte describes the gathering as the “biggest private-sector megaphone in the world’s largest democracy.”

Palin will certainly have plush accommodations and the chance to mingle among international intelligentsia.

The event will be at the Taj Palace Hotel New Delhi, which sits on “six acres of lush greens in the exclusive Diplomatic Enclave of the city,” and is only 10 minutes from the airport, “well equipped, offering simultaneous translation in five languages.”

India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, will deliver the opening keynote address at the event themed “The Changing Balance of Power.” Other speakers include feminist writer Germaine Greer speaking on a panel titled “Can the Burqa Co-Exist With the Bikini?” and Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, who gives a dinner keynote on “The New Middle East.”

For a governor who served only 31 months in office, Palin is in fairly auspicious company.

In the event’s inaugural year, Al Gore spoke, and the next year Bill Clinton appeared. Since then, special guests have included Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Colin Powell, Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Afghanistan President H. E. Hamid Karzai, and Hillary Clinton, who spoke when she was senator of New York.

Some Palin critics have said that her trip is a slap in the face to key 2012 states, like Iowa and New Hampshire, and her absence from those venues signals that she is not running for president.

“I know, presidential candidates like to travel abroad to boost their foreign policy credentials. And Palin needs those credentials badly,” wrote Andrew Cline, the editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader. “But I find it hard to believe that, presumably less than a year from the primary, someone who makes a trip to India a higher priority than a trip to New Hampshire is a serious presidential candidate.”

But hold on, say some political watchers, who argue Palin has time to go to India and still be a powerful 2012 player.

Dr. Lara Brown, assistant professor of political science at Villanova University, tells Politics Daily: “The first thing that comes to mind is that she is preparing for a presidential run. Presidential aspirants typically travel internationally before the invisible primary season gets under way.”

Brown notes that Nixon was one of the first to do this after losing his 1960 presidential bid against John F. Kennedy and his 1962 loss to Pat Brown in the California gubernatorial race. He traveled to Europe, Japan and Vietnam where he hosted press conferences and met with leaders.

“Foreign travel gives the candidates a broader perspective on the world and allows them to talk in a more informed way about foreign policy,” Brown said.

While it is unclear whether Palin lobbied for a spot on the conclave ticket or the group reached out to invite her, India is an interesting choice of country for her to visit. The Obama administration has given keen attention to the South Asia republic. The first White House state dinner the Obamas hosted was in honor of the Indian prime minister and they visited India just three months ago.

It’s also a smart trip politically because Indian-Americans have increasing clout in the American political process. Republican Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, who Palin supported, is the daughter of Indian immigrant parents as is Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, also a Republican.

The Indian American Conservative Council (IACC), a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that supports conservative, pro-business values, has praised her visit. “It is only fitting that Palin travel to New Delhi since India is an economic partner with the United States, with both nations benefiting from $50 billion in annual trade, along with mutual cooperation in the global war on terrorism,” IACC chairman Dino Teppara said in a statement.

Palin could use the conclave platform to counter many of Obama’s viewpoints, and she is going into friendly territory. India likes female leaders, such as the powerful Sonia Gandhi, president of the Indian National Congress, the lead party in India’s coalition. Gandhi is the daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1984.

India media reports frequently on Palin and her family. A Google search covering the period from Jan. 1, 2010, to Jan. 1, 2011, turns up 2.4 million hits pairing Sarah Palin and India, most of them from Indian media. Palin’s trip to India could be just political curiosity on both her part and the country’s movers and shakers. But it could be a diplomatic springboard into the 2012 presidential waters.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated how long Sarah Palin was governor of Alaska. She was governor for 31 months, not 18 months.

Written by suziparker1313

March 10, 2011 at 4:14 am

Posted in 2012 President, Sarah Palin

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Herman Cain Wins Tea Party Straw Poll in Arizona

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The political long shot for 2012 – Herman Cain – is already a winner.

Cain, who is the first of the 2012 candidates to form a presidential exploratory committee, won the American Policy Summit’s presidential live straw poll on Sunday held by the Tea Party Patriots conference in Phoenix.

On Twitter, Cain wrote: “Honored to learn that I won the Tea Party Patriots’ presidential straw poll. Thanks for your support!”

According to the Cain camp, out of 14 options on the ballot and 1,600 votes, Cain came in first with 22 percent in the straw poll. Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota was second with 16 percent of the vote. Both attended the summit. The summit also hosted an online poll, which Rep. Ron Paul of Texas won with nearly half the votes. More than 2,300 people voted online.

A conservative talk show host in Georgia and former Godfather’s Pizza chief executive, Cain has spent the last year attending more than 120 tea party events around the country. On Friday, he attended a summit hosted by Americans for Prosperity in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Cain says the tea party movement will not weaken in 2012 but only gain strength as more people engage in the political process. On Sunday, he tweeted: “Today is 2nd anniversary of Tea Party. As a proud member, I’m here to tell you- movement isn’t dying out. It’s getting stronger!”

On Thursday, Politico reported that Cain had incorporated Friends of Herman Cain under a section of the tax code – 527. Such a designation would allow the group to accept unlimited donations from individuals and corporations.

On Twitter, a movement is developing for a ticket of Cain and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey ticket in 2012.

Cain will appear on Monday in Washington at the Legacy Political Fund, which is hosting its two-day Washington DC Briefing 2011.

A host of popular Republicans, and possible 2012 candidates, are expected to speak on Monday including former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Sen. Jim Dement of South Carolina.

Written by suziparker1313

March 10, 2011 at 4:07 am

Mike Huckabee and Haley Barbour: A Tale of Two Souths

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While greeting reporters last week in Washington, Mike Huckabee joked about New Hampshire and his Southern roots.

Huckabee is currently on a book tour to promote his new release, “A Simple Government.” He hits key 2012 states, like Iowa and South Carolina, but not New Hampshire. When asked why there were no New Hampshire stops on his book tour, he told reporters, including Politics Daily’s Walter Shapiro: “Have you ever been to New Hampshire in February? It’s cold up there. My Southern blood isn’t acclimated.”

Spoken like a true Southerner.

Huckabee has built a brand around his folksy, Southern roots that resonates with voters. He duck hunts, jokes about frying squirrel in his dorm room when he was in college and is building a multimillion-dollar beach house in the Redneck Riviera – as the panhandle of Florida is called by middle-class Southerners who vacation there.

As a Republican in a region that has been trending Reagan red since the 1980s, Huckabee could do very well in a 2012 presidential GOP Southern primary. In 2008, Huckabee came in second in the South Carolina Republican primary behind Sen. John McCain despite a lack of solid fundraising.

But Huckabee will certainly have some stiff competition for Southern votes if Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi chooses to run.

To many who do not live in the South, all Southerners may appear as if they are cut from the same Confederate cloth, but that is far from true. Huckabee and Barbour are representative of two different worlds.

Barbour is a product of the stiff, proper old South with a history of plantations, cotton, the Civil War and horrific race relations. He was born into a family with a legacy that can be traced to the state capitol in the early 1880s. Walter Leake, a Barbour ancestor, was the third governor of Mississippi as well as a U.S. senator. His paternal grandfather was a judge who held stock in the local bank and as a lawyer represented railroads. His father, who died when Barbour was 2, was a lawyer. The family was well known in Yazoo City, a town that both thrives on, and is haunted by, its Southern heritage.

Yazoo City didn’t integrate its schools until 1970 – long after Barbour, who attended the University of Mississippi in Oxford, had graduated from high school. The town did not shy away from its connection to the Citizens Council movement, an organization that was founded on the basis of resistance to integration. Barbour, too, hasn’t shied away from the group.

In a December 2010 interview with The Weekly Standard, he said: “You heard of the Citizens Councils? Up North they think it was like the KKK. Where I come from it was an organization of town leaders. In Yazoo City they passed a resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass run out of town. If you had a job, you’d lose it. If you had a store, they’d see nobody shopped there. We didn’t have a problem with the Klan in Yazoo City.”

While Barbour took heat for that comment, many Southerners who grew up in the same time period as Barbour, especially in the Mississippi Delta, understood what he meant. During the Civil Rights movement, the South was a place that operated in black and white.

That South still resonates today with Southerners who attended country clubs that today are still segregated socially, if not legally, by race and private schools founded by wealthy white families.

Barbour, a former powerful lobbyist with a hefty resume filled with Washington connections, is Presbyterian – a religion that is far from fire and brimstone. When Barbour was the chair of the Republican National Committee, many reporters fell under his spell because of “a generous supply of Maker’s Mark in his handy RNC liquor cabinet.” His state of Mississippi has thrived with casino gambling and Barbour, too, has supported it.

If Barbour is a son of the Old South, where politicians prosper because of their ancestry and fraternity connections, Huckabee is the poster child for the emerging South.

Arkansas suffers from an identity crisis. The state never had the grand plantations that were prevalent in Mississippi or a legacy of Confederate millionaires. If anything, Arkansas was as a gateway to the Wild West, a place where those who fled the Civil War landed and stayed either because they ran out of money or feared Indian Territory. Because of that history, Arkansas neither connects whole-heartedly with the proper South or the scrappy West.

Huckabee, like Bill Clinton, grew up in Hope, Arkansas, in a middle-class family. His father was a mechanic and a fireman and his mother was a clerk at a gas company.

When he was governor, he often told a story that resonated with a lot of people who grew up in Arkansas. When he was 8 years old, his father told him, “Son, the governor is coming to dedicate the new lake and make a talk and I’m going to take you down to hear him because you might live your whole life and never see a governor in person,” Huckabee recalls.

“Huckabee has sneered at that Old South mentality,” says Dr. Jay Barth, a political science professor at Hendrix College “He has often resented those who are in positions because of their power. It’s very much indicative of the Arkansas experience and those who made their own wealth – the Tysons, Sam Walton.”

A strict Baptist, Huckabee worked his way through college at Ouachita Baptist University by working at a radio station and pastoring a small church. He continued his path in the ministry, preaching at various churches in the South. In the 1980s, he encouraged the all-white Immanuel Baptist Church in Pine Bluff to accept black members. He became the president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

Huckabee doesn’t drink nor did he serve alcohol at events in the governor’s mansion during his term. He and his wife, Janet, renewed their vows in a convenant marriage ceremony while he was governor. And Huckabee is against gambling.

Unlike Barbour who worked for the Richard Nixon campaign in 1968, Huckabee had no legacy in politics – national or local. He built his following from scratch in the early 1990s when he decided to challenge Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers – a brave move for a Republican pastor in a dyed-in-the-wool Democratic state.

Huckabee, a conservative populist, could resonate in 2012 among tea party supporters who have never dabbled in politics. He doesn’t shy away from his religion or the belief that the separation of church and state is impossible. He understands grassroots mobilizing, thanks to his church background and will be able to energize the religious-right base.

But Barbour brings something much more powerful to the table. His years of political wheeling and dealing and moneyed contacts are legendary — a plus in a crowded primary where money will make or break a candidate.

If Huckabee and Barbour choose to run, their campaigns will be a contrast of two Souths — the emerging one of self-made success with church at its center and the fading glory of the old Confederacy with legacy and ancestry at its core.

Written by suziparker1313

March 10, 2011 at 4:07 am

Herman Cain: A Long Shot in 2012, but That’s Not Stopping Him

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — When Herman Cain walks into a tea party event, he is greeted like a rock star.

“It’s him, it’s him,” spreads across the meeting room.

And so it was here on Thursday. When people approached him, they acted like they knew him. They mentioned his Atlanta radio show. They asked about his book, “They Think You’re Stupid.” They told him they are curious about his possible 2012 presidential run.

Cain was in Little Rock for the Arkansas Defending the American Dream Summit hosted by Americans for Prosperity in Arkansas with about 150 attendees. Cain, the former chairman and deputy chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, is the first of many potential 2012 presidential candidates to form an official exploratory committee.

He is building a grassroots movement by attending small gatherings around the country. Last year, he addressed more than 40 tea party rallies. On Friday, he hits Phoenix for the Tea Party Summit.

Cain sells books, videos of his speeches, and bumper stickers at these events. He passes out a pamphlet, “Common Sense Solutions: The People’s Platform,” which focuses on national security, the fair tax, domestic energy resources, and repealing and replacing “health care deform,” among other issues.

Sure, he’s a long-shot candidate, and he knows it, but don’t discount him.

“Bill Clinton, another long-shot candidate,” he told Politics Daily. “People would be nuts to think that a long-shot candidate didn’t have a chance to win.”

And, he points out, Barack Obama was another long-shot candidate who reached the Oval Office. “He was able to knock off the Clinton machine, that’s what I call it, because people got excited about a fresh face and a fresh voice.”

But that’s no longer the case, in his view.

“There’s nothing behind the voice or the message,” he said. “This administration is in free fall. The country is in a state of anxiety and the administration doesn’t have a handle on it all.”

Cain initially became known in political circles thanks to Bill Clinton. During the 1993 health care debate, he confronted the president at a town meeting in Kansas City.

He asked Clinton about the “employer mandate” — the proposal that most employers would have to offer health insurance to their workers — in the health care reform package. Cain said it would cost jobs. Clinton said subsidies would help small business. Cain didn’t back down and told Clinton, “Quite honestly, your calculation is inaccurate. In the competitive marketplace it simply doesn’t work that way.”

Cain supports the fair tax, which, among other things, would end current federal taxes and replace them with a national sales tax. Another potential 2012 candidate, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, also supports the idea. Cain said the two have a common bond where the fair tax is concerned because both of them know how to articulate and defend it.

“We need the fair tax to stimulate the economy,” he said.

Cain sees the tea party movement getting stronger especially after the 2010 midterm elections. He sees more people who have never been involved in the electoral process leading into 2012. And that’s critical for change, he said.

“I’m optimistic,” he said. “I see it getting stronger and getting bigger everywhere I go.”

That’s in no small part due to Sarah Palin, who has energized the conservative moment. “She has definitely been a plus,” he said. “That’s why liberals hate her because conservatives love her.”

But some people think Cain is the one to watch – or at least learn more about.

Lynn Holberton of Hot Springs Village, Ark., bought two of Cain’s books Thursday. She knew about him because her daughter, who lives in Ohio, had heard him on the radio.

“She told me ‘We should keep our eye on him,’ and I liked what I’ve read and I like that he has a business background,” Holberton said. “This country needs someone with business experience instead of political experience.”

[Post originally appeared on Politics Daily on Feb. 24, 2011]

Written by suziparker1313

March 10, 2011 at 4:05 am

Tim Pawlenty: Meeting and Greeting on Mike Huckabee’s Arkansas Turf

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Arkansas doesn’t have the political star power of Iowa or New Hampshire, but that isn’t stopping potential 2012 presidential hopefuls from visiting.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty popped into the state this week to meet with GOP elected officials and leaders. His journey to the land of former Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee was the first this year for a likely GOP contender for the White House.

Pawlenty had no public events in Arkansas, but this wasn’t about selling books and giving a speech to the masses. Pawlenty’s visit focused on networking and making big-money connections.

“Pawlenty has the gift of time and he’s using some of that time to make connections in places that are in play — or potentially in play,” said Jay Barth, chairman of the Department of Politics and International Relations at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark. “Arkansas falls in the latter category if Huckabee stays out of the race or has to drop out if he fails in Iowa.”

Pawlenty hosted a roundtable with new GOP elected officials and the party’s state chairman. He then spoke to about 30 state executive committee members and party leaders about his vision for the country and answered questions. According to sources at the meeting, Pawlenty made it clear he is contemplating a presidential run, but has not yet reached a decision.

His presence in Arkansas certainly resonated with GOP leaders, who said privately that they viewed his visit as a salute to a state that gained more Republican federal and legislative seats in 2010 than it has ever had in the modern political era.

But Pawlenty’s visit also underscored two other key points.

First, politicians pondering a presidential run aren’t scared to trek into the turf of native son Huckabee, who leads in some 2012 polls. Secondly, the state is also home to a lot of potential GOP cash.

Last year, Huckabee announced that he was moving to Florida. In Arkansas, some Republicans saw the move as egotistical and a slap in the face to a state that had supported Huckabee, the longest serving Republican governor, at a time when Republicans had little power.

But Huckabee, who stays busy with many projects, including a weekly show on Fox News, didn’t turn his back on Arkansas. He appeared at a major campaign rally last fall for the GOP ticket and his Huck PAC supported many candidates in the midterm elections.

Huckabee has not had any public events this year in Arkansas. On his upcoming tour for his new book “A Simple Government,” Arkansas is not a scheduled stop but several 2012 key states (Iowa, South Carolina and Florida) as well as Southern states that border Arkansas (Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi) are.

But Huckabee says he walks a fine line as a former governor coming in to meet with local politicians. He says he doesn’t want people to think he is “butting in their business” at the state capitol.

“I try to keep a low profile in Arkansas because I don’t feel it appropriate to get publicly involved in the goings on of state government,” he told Politics Daily. “I have talked to friends there and would be delighted to talk with those who wanted my counsel, but I am not going to impose myself.”

This week’s visit was Pawlenty’s second to Arkansas in less than two years. In June 2009, he spoke to 400 people at a fundraiser for the state Republican Party.

At this stage for candidates testing the presidential waters, it’s about raising enough money to remain in the conversation and signing up major business leaders to be on a campaign team. Despite its low average income, Arkansas consistently rates near the top when it comes to the number of millionaires per capita and it is home to Wal-Mart, Murphy Oil, Tyson Foods and Stephens Inc., to name a few high-profile companies.

Republican Lt. Governor Winthrop Paul Rockefeller, who died in 2006, was a billionaire oil heir and his widow, Lisenne, is still a generous donor to the Republican Party.

Stephens Group Inc., and the Stephens family, have been a major player in national politics. Last October, Stephens Investments Holdings LLC gave $100,000 to American Crossroads, a 527 organization that defends and elects “center-right candidates to federal office.”

Even if Pawlenty chooses not to run for president, which is looking ever less likely, the connections that he develops on his journeys — next week he hits the Tea Party Summit in Phoenix — will only help his Freedom First PAC and book sales.

And as for Arkansas, it will probably not be a 2012 battleground state, but it could play an oversized role in the the political money game.

Written by suziparker1313

March 10, 2011 at 3:55 am

In Haley Barbour’s Mississippi: Civil War Looms Over License Plates

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The South is a place where many folks still want to believe in an antebellum region of moonlight and magnolias.

Sometimes, that nostalgia clashes head-on with the politically correct present. In Mississippi, such a battle is raging over — of all things — license plates marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans has launched a campaign to issue one of the specialty license plates honoring Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was once the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. The NAACP and a Facebook group are protesting the plate, which at the earliest would be unveiled in 2014.

This little drama comes at a perilous time for Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who was in Washington this past week attending the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and positioning himself for a possible 2012 run. So far, Barbour has not responded to the controversy but he seldom shies away from his Southern heritage.

And in the South, Forrest is a legend and a hero among Civil War buffs.

The town of Forrest City in eastern Arkansas near Memphis is named in his honor. The Ku Klux Klan hosted rallies in the town as recently as a few years ago. In neighboring Tennessee, Forrest’s home state, a state park is named for him. The park’s website calls him “the intrepid Confederate cavalry leader.” Forrest Gump, the character created by Winston Groom, was named after him.

Even Barbour doesn’t shy away from Forrest. As governor, he has attended the National Championship Hunt for bird dogs and hosted a reception at Galena Plantation, the original home of Forrest, who was a millionaire when the Civil War started, in Holly Springs, Miss.

Forrest was accused of war crimes at the Battle of Fort Pillow in 1864 after his military forces conducted a bloody massacre of hundreds of black Union Army and white southern prisoners sympathetic to the Union. That only endeared him to rebel leaders like Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who lamented that the Confederacy did not utilize Forrest’ abilities to mobilize and strategize enough.

He joined the Ku Klux Klan, but then left it because he felt the group was too violent. Most academics agree that this was Forrest’s reasoning for leaving.

“If Christian redemption means anything — and we all want redemption, I think — he redeemed himself in his own time, in his own actions, in his own words,” Greg Stewart, a member of the Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, told the Associated Press. “We should respect that.”

The group has had a specialty license plate since 2003. Until last year, it featured a small Confederate flag, but a re-design now features Beauvoir mansion in Biloxi, Miss., the final home of Confederate president Davis. Legislators would have to approve the Forrest plate, but they have okayed more than 100 of them over the years.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans group evolved from the United Confederate Veterans, which was formed in the late 1800s. The group is “a historical, patriotic, and non-political organization dedicated to insuring that a true history of the 1861-1865 period is preserved.” Members must have “descended from any veteran who served honorably in the Confederate armed forces.” They often participate in historical re-enactments and also preserve Confederate soldiers’ graves.

The Southern Poverty Law Center in Birmingham, however, says that the group has been dominated by “racial extremists since 2002.” It also states that the radical faction has sought to turn “the SCV into an explicitly political group that pushes racist neo-Confederate ideas and issues.”

In the South, the push-and-pull of the past looms largely.

Martin Luther King, Jr. shares a holiday with Confederate General Robert E. Lee in many Southern states including Mississippi.

In Natchez, Miss., the city still hosts spring and fall pilgrimages that showcase the grandest of plantations from the Civil War era.

Hostesses wear elaborate hooped dresses and black women dress up like Mamie from “Gone With the Wind” and offer pralines for sale. The town sees it as an economic engine. And it works. Tourists from as far away as Europe visit during the pilgrimages, which began during the Great Depression as a way for the town to make money and restore the palatial homes.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy, based in Virginia, also exists as a women’s heritage association dedicated to honoring the memory of those who served and died in service to the Confederate States of America. The group began in the late 1800s to collect money for memorials to Confederate veterans and battles.

It, too, has a controversial past. It opposed integration of public schools in the 1950s and suggested that an all-white public school rename itself after – guess who? Yes, Nathan Bedford Forrest.

In July, the Sons of Confederate Veterans are planning a convention in Montgomery, Ala., celebrating “The Cause for Southern Independence.” The first morning of the convention kicks off with, yes, a “Forrest Cavalry Breakfast.”

Written by suziparker1313

March 10, 2011 at 3:47 am