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Bill Clinton’s Arkansas: A Red State He Would Not Recognize

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Arkansas, you run deep in me.

That’s a line from the state song. But this week, red ran deep in this Blue Dog state that is just this side of wacky. No doubt, Bill Clinton has to be crying somewhere. His home state slipped completely down the rabbit hole.

On Tuesday night, Democrats were hyperventilating as the party lost several state offices along with two congressional seats, seven state senate seats and 16 state house seats. Both houses of the state legislature remain Democratic, but some Democrats are worried that a few conservative colleagues might flip Republican in exchange for committee chairs once the session starts in January. If that happens, Republicans would be the majority for the first time since the Reconstruction Era.

For decades, Republicans were tucked away in northwest Arkansas near the Oklahoma and Missouri borders. Occasionally, one of the rascals would pop up in central Arkansas like in the 1980 gubernatorial race when the late businessman Frank White challenged one-term governor Clinton and won. Mike Huckabee succeeded in the 1990s, but the state remained a conservative shade of blue for the most part. This week the map changed to neon red, flashing a warning to Democrats as they regroup for 2012.

It was no surprise that Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln lost to her GOP challenger, Rep. John Boozman. But the state that gave the country its first elected female senator — Hattie Caraway — in 1938 now has no female representation in Washington. In fact, the state only has Martha Shoffner as its treasurer with a handful of women winning legislative seats. But Lincoln’s race was predictable compared to many others.

In Hot Springs, where Clinton graduated from high school, voters chose a dead Republican over a living, breathing Democrat in a state house race. Keith Crass died last week from a heart attack, but that didn’t stop voters from checking the box for him. Now, a special election will be called.

In another county near Little Rock, a Republican who struggled with a hot check history and an outstanding tax lien during his campaign defeated the longtime Democratic prosecuting attorney whose office prosecuted the hot check cases.

Usually Arkansas’ secretary of state races are a boring blowout for Democrats. Even when former first lady Janet Huckabee was the GOP nominee in 2002, few fireworks ignited. This year, the race pitted two candidates with popular, famous names against each other. Republican Mark Martin, a businessman, shared his name with a famous Arkansas race car driver. Democrat Pat O’Brien, a well-known and popular county clerk in Little Rock, was seldom confused with the New Orleans bar with the same name. Martin upset O’Brien in a race that lasted long after the chips had become stale at their watch parties.

Amazingly, one of the most popular governors in the country, Democrat Mike Beebe, held on to his seat by a wide margin. But in another stunner, Mark Darr, a political novice who owns a pizza parlor, upset longtime legislator Shane Broadway to become lieutenant governor. Democrats remember that is the seat from which Huckabee began his political career back in 1993 and moved up when Gov. Jim Guy Tucker resigned in the wake of Clinton’s Whitewater scandals.

Blue Dog Rep. Mike Ross will now be the sole Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation. He ran against Beth Anne Rankin, a former Miss Arkansas (1994) and Huckabee staffer who channeled Sarah Palin by upsweeping her red hair, donning rimless glasses and posing with a big gun. The makeover didn’t work, but Rankin will no doubt resurface again in Arkansas politics.

At least a few shining moments exist in Clintonland this week. Voters chose to allow two dry counties to sell alcohol. Depressed Dems can now find a new watering hole or two to visit. One of the counties also happens to be home to one of the biggest Ku Klux Klan organizations in America.

Then there’s the on-going Clint McCance saga. Most of the state’s politicians didn’t say much about the now ex-school board member’s gay tirade on Facebook. But leave it to a popular gay Star Trek actor, George Takei (Sulu in the original TV series), to say what politicians wouldn’t. In a viral video, he takes McCance down a peg or three. Arkansas runs deep in Takei, too. During World War II, he and his family stayed in a Japanese internment camp in south Arkansas.
Something is now brewing in this state that Takei briefly called home in the 1940s. It’s now a place where some conservative Democrats will use God, guns and gays to take out a liberal Democrat. That was ammunition once reserved for the right-wing contingent from northwest Arkansas. In past years, independent voters usually trend Democratic. They didn’t in this election. Bill Clinton also once had an influence. Not so this year. Scholars say that the Democratic Party could come back stronger in the next few election cycles. Then again, red runs deep here now.

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Bill Clinton Stumps for Struggling Democrats in Arkansas

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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.

“This is serious with me,” he said about this year’s midterm elections. “When it started out, I didn’t intend to do much in this election.”
Clinton’s been campaigning ferociously for Democrats — he told the crowd it was his 74th stop this season — in part to thank them for supporting Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential race. He said that Hillary Clinton cannot campaign because of her duties as secretary of State. “There’s no one but me to honor the help they gave her,” he said.

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.

“When we care about something, we pay attention to the facts,” he said. “Give me 15 to 20 minutes like this is a football game.”

 

The former president delved into Economics 101, talking about the country’s debt and the need for banks to loan more money. He talked about the need for clean energy jobs – emphasizing the influx of wind turbine plants in Arkansas – and a balanced budget like the one in Arkansas. State law requires the governor and legislature in the state to balance its state budget yearly.

 

Clinton highlighted Causey’s work on two farm bills as Berry’s chief of staff. The 1st CD relies on agriculture as the main component of its economy.

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.

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Blanche Lincoln and Arkansas Democrats Battle the Red Tide

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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.”

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Bill Clinton to Make Campaign Stop in Arkansas Wednesday

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Former President Bill Clinton hits Arkansas again Wednesday to campaign for his home-state Democrats.

Clinton will appear in Jonesboro, a college town in Arkansas’ 1st Congressional District, in an evening rally in an airplane hanger. A press release states that Clinton will campaign for incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln, 1st CD candidate Chad Causey and “the entire Democratic ticket.”

Lincoln is facing a tough re-election battle against Rep. John Boozman, but is closing the gap. A recent Rasmussen Reports poll shows Boozman leading Lincoln by 55 percent to 37 percent, with 3 percent preferring some other candidate and 5 percent undecided. In mid-August, Boozman led 65 percent to 27 percent.

Clinton last appeared in Arkansas in September at an event celebrating Lincoln’s one-year anniversary as chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. On the same visit, Clinton also attended a fundraiser for Causey, whose race is a dead-heat in the polls, and 2nd Congressional District candidate Joyce Elliott, who trails Tim Griffin, her Republican challenger, by at 20 points in some polls.

A recent poll showed Clinton as the most popular politician in America. He is also the most sought-after politician on the campaign trail in the mid-term election.

“I am grateful for President Clinton’s support,” Lincoln said in a press release. “He cares deeply about his home state and our people. I look forward to an exciting day together in Northeast Arkansas.”

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Arkansas Gays to Sen. Blanche Lincoln: Don’t Ask (For Our Vote)

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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.”

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Can Bill Clinton Save Arkansas for the Democrats?

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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.

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Michael Reagan to Arkansas GOP: What Would Ronald Reagan Do?

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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Michael Reagan knows what fires up the Republican base — his father.

On Friday night, Reagan visited Arkansas — a battleground state in the midterm elections — to urge 300 GOP faithful at the state’s annual convention to focus on the big picture, not the small details. That is, if they want to recapture Ronald Reagan’s “shining city on a hill.”

“We shouldn’t worry about who gets the credit,” said Reagan, a former conservative radio host and the adopted son of Ronald Reagan and the actress Jane Wyman. “We should worry about winning the elections in November.”

In Arkansas, Republican Rep. John Boozman, who won the May Senate primary against seven contenders, faces Democratic incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln in November. Lincoln squeaked out a win in the June Democratic run-off against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.

Michael Reagan speaksA recent poll showed Lincoln trailing Boozman by 19 points — 54 percent to 35 percent.

Arkansas’ Second District seat could also flip from Democratic to Republican. It is currently held by Democratic Rep. Vic Snyder, who announced in January that he would not seek re-election after 13 years in the House of Representatives. Former Bush White House aide Tim Griffin is vying for the House seat against Democratic State Senator Joyce Elliot, who would be Arkansas’ first black member of Congress.

Reagan said the GOP should remember his father’s 11th commandment — “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” The 24 -hour news cycle, he said, has made politics “too personal.”

“You have to keep it at a political level,” Michael Reagan added. “It hurts the cause when it gets too personal.” For Republicans to win, he told a dinner audience, “We have to look at the big picture like Ronald Reagan did. How do we change the world?”

He spent part of the night reflecting on his father’s legacy, especially the fall of the Berlin Wall. Reagan visited Berlin last November — the 20th anniversary of the wall’s collapse — and said he felt ashamed that President Barack Obama was not present.

“The president of the United States would go to Copenhagen, instead, to try and bring the Olympics to Chicago,” he said.

He pointed out that Obama sent a video, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton introduced in Berlin, explaining to her audience that Obama had to overcome his own walls. Reagan said he was irate that Hillary Clinton chose to “play the race card on that kind of day.”

The Arkansans cheered.

But Reagan didn’t throw blame just at Obama. He said that if the Republican Party had done its job when it held the presidency and Congress, “Barack Obama would not have been handed the keys to the White House.”

In a media availability before the dinner, Reagan lashed out at the proposed Ground Zero mosque in New York. Earlier this week, he wrote a column agreeing with Sarah Palin who regards the mosque is an unnecessary “provocation.”

“People in the Middle East don’t look at things like we do,” Reagan said. “Mohammad Atta wins, that is how it will be viewed. I don’t need a kumbaya at Ground Zero to know America cares. That’s hallowed ground”

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March 6, 2011 at 10:26 pm