Tales from the Trail

Maddow to Brown: Wrong, “I’m not running”

Political commentator Rachel Maddow is used to having her say. This time she used a full-page ad in The Boston Globe.

The popular liberal TV host came out swinging on Friday against the new senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown, who has suggested in a fund-raising letter that Maddow will run against him in 2012. SENATE/BROWN

“I’m not running against Scott Brown … It’s just not true. Honestly. I swear. No, really,” Maddow said in the ad.

Maddow, a Rhodes Scholar and the first openly gay anchor to host a prime-time news program in the United States, lives in Hampshire County in western Massachusetts.

“It’s standard now for conservatives to invent scary fake threats to run against,” Maddow said. “Senator Scott Brown’s only been in DC seven weeks, but he already seems to be fitting right in with how conservatives operate there.”

Coffee Party USA takes on the Tea Party

America’s conservative Tea Party movement may be on the boil, but the left is brewing up its own version in The Coffee Party USA.

The movement has launched itself on the social networking site Facebook where it has acquired more than 50,000 fans over the past month. You can see some news reports and commentary about it here and here and here.

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Under the battle cry “The Coffee Party USA: Wake Up and Stand Up” it is asking people to host a Coffee Party event on their March 13 “kick-off.”

Conservative Rubio pulls ahead in Florida Republican primary

USA-Politics/Crist

Conservative Republican Marco Rubio is building a lead over moderate Governor Charlie Crist in Florida’s Republican Senate primary, a contest highlighting the perils facing party moderates in this rambunctious election year, a poll shows.

A Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely Republican primary voters released this week showed Rubio, a former Florida House Speaker, with 54 percent support against Crist’s 36 percent. A poll in January had Rubio ahead by 13 points.

The primary race has echoes in Arizona, where veteran Senator John McCain faces his strongest challenge yet from fiery conservative J.D. Hayworth, who is attacking his “moderate record” on taxes, social issues and the bank bailout.

Ron Paul: The Once and Future Conservative Favorite

USA-POLITICS/PAULRep. Ron Paul today seems to be little more than a voice crying in the wilderness of Republican politics. But the Texas libertarian and 2008 presidential candidate may have a lease on the future of the Republican Party’s conservative wing, at the age of 74.

Paul, the big winner in the presidential straw poll at the American Conservative Union’s Conservative Political Action Conference, ascribes his victory to young people who don’t like the way the Republican establishment is handling things.

“Right now, I think there is a disconnect with the people, especially with the next generation,” he told MSNBC.  ”They feel like the burden is being dumped on their shoulders and I think that’s what the vote represented, a lot of young people saying they don’t like what’s happening.”

Armed (and dangerous?) in America’s national parks

One of the biggest expansions of U.S. gun rights in decades took affect on Monday – and it was signed into law by President Barack Obama, whom many conservative groups claim is plotting to disarm law-abiding Americans.

People can now take firearms into many of America’s national parks, provided they legally possess them under federal laws and laws that apply to the state where the park is located. You can see the National Park Service press release here. The usual prohibitions on hunting or discharging firearms within the parks still apply.

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The new “guns in national parks” regulations were signed into law by Obama last May and were part of a new credit card act (yes, American law making is a mysterious thing) that also came into affect on Monday.

With jobs the priority, Obama invites culture war?

AFGHANISTAN/Has President Obama opened a Pandora’s Box marked “Culture War” by moving — however slowly – to repeal the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gays in the military?
    
Conservative punditry hasn’t weighed in yet. But  there’s no reason to doubt  the issue will be red meat for those who want to sink the Obama agenda and send congressional Democrats to the unemployment office in November.
    
“Our service members wear the uniform to fight and win wars, not serve as liberal-social-policy guinea pigs,” Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, tells Time magazine.
    
Sen. John McCain, a top Republican on military affairs, accused the administration of acting by fiat to circumvent Congress and the military’s chain of command after the Pentagon announced a year-long review of the policy.
    
“You’re embarking on saying it’s not whether the military prepares to make the change but how we best prepare for it, without ever hearing from members of Congress, without hearing from the members of the Joint Chiefs, and of course, without taking into consideration all the ramifications,” he told Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen at a Senate Armed Services hearing yesterday.
 
Polling data show most Americans favor allowing gays to serve openly in the military. But the risk for Obama is that Republicans and their talk-show allies will cry up the issue and steer the now palpable frustrations of voters against him and his fellow Democrats.
    
Democrats, who got a taste of that voter frustration in Massachusetts last month, now hope to win favor by making the economy their USA-HEALTHCARE/PELOSItop priority.
    
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer favors repeal but seems happy to let the Pentagon take the lead until after this year’s election.
    
“What I want members to do in their districts? I want them to focus on jobs and fiscal responsibility. Those are our messages,” the Maryland Democrat told reporters. “The American public clearly wants us focused on growing the economy, adding jobs. That is a principle responsibility.”

 Photo credits: Reuters/Andrees Latif (U.S. Marines in Helmand Province); Reuters/Jim Young (U.S. Capitol)

Click here for more political coverage from Reuters

A Tale of Two Tea Parties

Is it the best of times or the worst of times for America’s Tea Party movement?

The answer may emerge in the next couple of weeks. A pair of Tea-Party-events-in-the-making suggest the movement, which has channeled much of the conservative opposition to President Barack Obama’s agenda, has reached a fork in the road.

It made headlines last summer as “Tea Party” rallies – evoking a famous protest in Boston against British rule in 1773 — were held across the country in opposition to bank bail-outs, Obama’s attempted healthcare overhaul, and other aspects of the White House agenda.

Democrats may face a new challenge: rising conservatism

The Democratic Party’s hopes of retaining control of Congress in November are already reeling from a spate of Senate retirements and the political flap surrounding last month’s failed bomb attack on a Detroit-bound airliner. Now comes a potential new hurdle: growing conservatism among the American public.

Gallup polling data show that conservatives became the biggest potential voting bloc in 2009. Forty percent of Americans called themselves ‘conservative’ last year, compared with 36 percent who said they were ‘moderate’ and 21 percent who described themselves as ‘liberal.’
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The findings, which have an error margin of 1 percentage point, come from an aggregate of 21 separate Gallup and USA Today/Gallup surveys, spanning nearly 22,000 interviews.

Gallup polling data also show that the number of Americans calling themselves moderate has fallen over the past decade, while conservatives and liberals have gained ground.

Palin says not focused on 2012

The 2012 presidential campaign is not on her radar screen, says 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.  But she didn’t exactly shut the door on the the possibility of making a run for the White House during her first interview to promote her book, “Going Rogue: An American Life.”

sarah1Palin told TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey that right now it’s all about the 2010 elections.

“I’m concentrating on 2010 and making sure that we have issues to tackle,” Palin said in the interview taped last week and broadcast Monday. “I don’t know what I’m going to be doing in 2012. (Running for president is) not on my radar screen right now.”