Tales from the Trail

McConnell sees 2012 presidential race wide open, no Republican heir apparent

Who will lead the Republican Party in the 2012 presidential race?

USA/Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says plenty of Republicans will throw their hat into that ring, especially if Democratic President Barack Obama’s popularity stays on the low side.

What about Sarah Palin? The Tea Party favorite appears to be positioning herself for a possible run — she’s endorsing candidates in this year’s midterm elections and taking on Democrats when there’s an opening.

“I think she’s going to be one of a number of Republican leaders who are going to be looking at the presidential contest after the election,” McConnell said in a Reuters interview. “They’re all viable.”

He wouldn’t name names since he didn’t want to accidentally leave someone out, but he said: “It’s going to be a wide open contest, I don’t think there’s any particular heir apparent.”

McConnell refused to be drawn out specifically on Palin. When asked how valuable she had been for the midterm elections coming up in November, he responded: “They’re all out there making endorsements.”

Republicans create caucus ‘to listen’ to Tea Party

There are scores of U.S. congressional caucuses that focus on specific issues — including ones to combat hunger and cancer, advance the arts, protect the environment and promote the rights of black, Asian, Hispanic and other Americans.

The conservative Tea Party movement scored a milestone on Wednesday in its drive to be heard in Washington when two dozen Republican members of the House of Representatives held the first meeting of the new Tea Party Congressional Caucus. USA-HEALTHCARE/

“We decided to form a Tea Party Caucus for one very important purpose, to listen to the concerns of the Tea Party,” Representative Michele Bachmann, chief organizer, told a Capitol Hill news conference afterward.

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.

Palin seeks to harness power of “Mama Grizzlies”

Sarah Palin is out with a new video today and she clearly is attempting to position herself as the leader of Republican conservative women.

She’s had some success this campaign season, promoting Republican women candidates such as South Carolina’s Nikki Haley and California’s Carly Fiorina who have gone on to win primary votes.

And how she is declaring women conservatives as part of a den of “Mama Grizzlies” eager to stampede Washington in Nov. 2 congressional elections and take on President Obama and his Democrats.

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.”

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.

Sarah Palin endorses Carly Fiorina for Senate

PalinFormer vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin endorsed former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in California on Thursday, a potentially key endorsement in an election that could hinge in part on the candidates’ conservative and outside-the-beltway credentials.

Fiorina is battling formerU.S. Representative Tom Campbell  and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore in a tight race to challenge Senator Barbara Boxer,  a liberal Democrat who is considered vulnerable in a year when incumbents are proving unpopular with voters. 

Palin  has become an icon of the Republican party’s right wing and Tea Party activists and her endorsement of  Fiorina must be especially painful for DeVore, who had courted members of that movement and paints himself as having the support of true grass-roots conservatives.

Palin serves up plenty of red meat at Boston Tea Party

Conservative darling Sarah Palin had no trouble stirring up Tea Partiers at a rally in Boston, not far from the site where colonists staged the original Tea Party revolt centuries ago.

USA/The problems in the United States are “nothing a good old fashioned election can’t fix,” she told the crowd of several thousand on the Boston Common. “The first test will be at the ballot box in November.”

The former Alaska governor and Republican vice-presidential candidate, who wore a red leather jacket, brought plenty of red meat rhetoric to the anti-tax Tea Party.

Obama says Washington vitriol is still a solvable problem

President Barack Obama thinks Washington’s political climate of vitriolic partisanship could start to wane over the next few years. Republicans just have to calm down, and Democrats have to stop playing the same silly political games as their opponents.

“A party that’s out of power, often times in those first few years of being out of power and reacting very negatively, their base ends up being very agitated. And it may take the next election or the next presidential election before things settle down,” the president told NBC’s Today show.

One problem is the media, and not just the mainstream media with its 24/7 news cycle but the cable-TV and radio talk shows, the Internet and the blogosphere — “all of which tend to try to feed the most extreme sides of any issue instead of trying to narrow differences and solve problems.”