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Arkansas Rep. Vic Snyder Shaves Stache for Campaign Cash

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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.

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Bill Clinton Warns Arkansas Democrats to Beware of Karl Rove Politics

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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.

At the rally, Clinton said that Republicans, including Rove, would blanket Arkansas over the next few weeks with attacks ads against Elliott. Rove, former deputy chief of staff and senior advisor to President George W. Bush, is reportedly a founder of American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, two groups that are pouring millions of dollars into midterm races on behalf of Republican candidates.

“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.

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March 8, 2011 at 10:13 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.”

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March 8, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Fired Bush-Era U.S. Attorneys to Speak in Arkansas; Some in GOP Question Timing

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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.

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March 8, 2011 at 9:42 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.

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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