Tales from the Trail

Mixing it up: Race, Tea Party, NAACP, Palin

The NAACP’s resolution calling on leaders of the Tea Party movement to repudiate “racist elements” within its ranks has set off a political firestorm. The civil rights group illustrated its accusations with photographs taken at rallies that show supporters carrying controversial signs criticizing President Barack Obama.

USA/Sarah Palin, a star of the Tea Party movement, responded with a missive on Facebook saying she was saddened by the NAACP’s charge of racism and accused the group of using “the divisive language of the past.”

Critics of the conservative Tea Party movement have questioned whether it is a racist movement, citing the largely white turnout at rallies and some of the signs carried by supporters. Conservatives say the liberals are using a low blow to counter genuine criticism of Obama’s policies.

David Frum’s FrumForum, which is dedicated to the renewal of the Republican Party and conservative movement, points out a piece on Patheos posted last week that discusses the question “Is the Tea Party Racist?” and offers one conclusion that liberals “were always going to believe that a movement dominated by white conservatives is racist.”

Clarence Page, columnist for the Chicago Tribune, says “nobody is truly accountable for the national movement” which has advantages and disadvantages. He says the feeling of dislike is mutual between the NAACP and tea partiers. “In the universe of political activism, the two groups are ‘Alien vs. Predator,’ a battle of titans from worlds too far apart for them to see much of anything the same way.”

Republicans still looking for answers about Sestak

Republicans want answers — and a little political mileage. The White House wants the whole thing to go away. And until somebody starts talking, neither side is going to get what they want.

On Wednesday, Republicans renewed their daily demand that Representative Joe Sestak, the Democratic Senate candidate from Pennsylvania, and White House officials come clean about what Sestak said was a White House offer of a job if he dropped his primary challenge against Senator Arlen Specter. USA-POLITICS/

Sestak, who first made the allegation to a local interviewer three months ago and confirmed it in television interviews on Sunday, won the primary last week but has refused to provide any more details. The White House says only that it looked into the issue, and nothing inappropriate happened. But it won’t say what actually did happen, or who was involved.

Republicans want ideas, but stick to Republican tenets

Republicans looking to regain control of Congress say they want to listen to the ideas of Americans to come up with a plan for the country. And so they developed a new web forum to harness those ideas.

But they did make clear that any ideas accepted will have to adhere to basic Republican principles of smaller government and no tax increases. FINANCIAL-BAILOUT/HOUSE-VOTE

So it’s possible that the proposal to legalize marijuana and other drugs and tax them won’t get serious consideration despite the fact that more people gave it a thumbs up than a thumbs down.

Rand Paul blames trash-talking Democrats who throw out red herrings

USA/“When does my honeymoon period start?” Rand Paul asked.

That was Paul’s opening line in an ABC “Good Morning America” interview Friday when asked about the controversy this week over comments that suggested he opposed part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that outlawed racial segregation.

Paul blamed the controversy on political trash-talk by Democrats worried that he will win the Kentucky Senate seat in November’s election after his Tea Party supported victory in the Republican primary earlier this week.

“I’ve been trashed up and down one network that tends to side with the Democrats. For an entire 24 hours I’ve suffered from them saying ‘oh he wants to repeal the Civil Rights Act,’ but that’s never been my position,” he said.

The Day After: everyone’s got an opinion

Everyone’s got an opinion about what happened Tuesday when Senator Arlen Specter — long-term Republican, newly turned Democrat — lost the Pennsylvania primary, Tea Party candidate Ron Paul won the Senate Republican primary in Kentucky, and neither Democrat in the Arkansas Senate primary could muster 50 percent of the vote so they have to do it all over again in June.

USA-POLITICS/In all of the contests, there was only one person who won an actual seat in Congress on Tuesday night — Democrat Mark Critz who took the special election for the Pennsylvania district seat left vacant by the death of Rep. John Murtha earlier this year.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs @PressSec tweeted “Sort of says it all…” with a link to a Politico story headlined “The GOP’s special failure.”

It’s all in the timing… Republican steals limelight from Democrat

For once Democrats can be thankful that a Republican stole the spotlight on primary day.

CONGRESS RAIDTuesday began with a focus on Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut Democrat running for the Senate, amid questions about his military record during the Vietnam War. But it quickly shifted mid-morning on news that Republican Congressman Mark Souder was resigning over an affair with a female aide.

Souder, a self-proclaimed “evangelical Christian” and an advocate of abstinence in sexual education, issued a statement in which he said he was “renewing my walk with my Lord.”

Tea Party toughens up Republican Party – Gingrich

The Tea Party movement is a good thing for the Republican Party, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says. It toughens up the GOP.

USA/(Anyone else thinking biker jackets?)

Rather than fragment the Republican Party in the coming November elections, the conservative anti-tax, small-government Tea Party movement will rev it up,  says Gingrich, who helped orchestrate the 1994 Republican Revolution when the party won control of both houses of Congress in the midterm elections.

And wins by Tea Party-supported candidates in the primaries leading up to the November midterms will benefit the Republican Party, “if the Tea Party movement and the Republicans stay together to defeat Obamaism,” Gingrich said on NBC’s “Today” show.

Pennsylvania primary: undecideds may decide it

The Pennsylvania Democratic primary may end up decided by the undecideds.

Senator Arlen Specter and Congressman Joe Sestak are vying for the Democratic vote in Tuesday’s primary, which will determine who  runs against the Republican candidate for the Pennsylvania Senate seat in November. SPORT BASEBALL

A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday shows the race is too close to call — with Sestak at 42 pecent versus Specter at 41 percent. Add to the mix 16 percent undecided and 25 percent saying they might change their mind, and the vote could go any which way.

“Sen. Arlen Specter has the party organization behind him, which should help with turnout. But Congressman Joe Sestak could benefit from the relatively large group of undecided voters.  Generally, incumbents don’t do all that well with undecideds, who are more likely to vote for the challenger or not vote,”  said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Final round in Specter vs. Sestak coming up

The final bell is about to ring in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary for the Senate — and it’s a nail-biter. Who will win the chance to run against the Republican in November?

USA-POLITICS/In one corner is Senator Arlen Specter who has 30 years in the Senate, but for the first time faces voters as a Democrat after switching parties last year.

In the other corner is Representative Joe Sestak who won his first election to Congress four years ago by unseating 20-year Republican incumbent Curt Weldon.

Even Congress gets weary of Congress…

It’s not just voters who get tired of Congress – members of Congress get tired of Congress.

USA-POLITICS/OBEY“I am bone tired,” David Obey said in announcing his retirement after 21 terms (that would be 42 years) as a Democratic congressman from Wisconsin.

Public opinion polls show that anti-incumbent sentiment is high going into the November congressional elections in which every House seat and one-third of the Senate are up for grabs. There’s also history to contend with – in the mid-term election during a new presidency the party of the president usually loses seats — that would be Democrats this year.