A new poll of battleground Ohio shows that potential Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton would run neck-in-neck there in 2016 against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a possible Republican contender.
If the election were held today, and former Secretary of State Clinton and Governor Christie had secured their respective party nominations, they would deadlock at 42 percent each.
The news for Vice President Joe Biden, who has also teased his interest in succeeding President Obama, isn’t nearly as sunny. Mr. Biden would be bested by Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R), another lawmaker who is widely viewed to be considering a national candidacy. Christie tops Biden 50 percent to 32 percent in the poll; Senator Paul trumps Biden 49 percent to 40 percent.
Clinton, on the other hand, would beat back a Paul bid, 47 percent to 44 percent.
While the Quinnipiac poll tests these particular matchups, the list of other Republicans also quietly pondering a White House run is long and includes: Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Nikki Haley of South Carolina; Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Ohio has voted for every White House winner since 1964, and in 2004, its voters lifted then-President George W. Bush over the required 270 electoral vote count required for victory. President Bush, of course, defeated then-Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (D) that year.
In the minds of those who make up the chattering class, it’s never too early to begin handicapping the next presidential contest. And with Clinton making her debut recently as an active private citizen by hitting the speaking circuit, announcing a new role via the Clinton family’s foundation, and joining Twitter, the buzz around her has grown louder. If she decides to run, it will be interesting to watch if and how she’ll clear a Democratic field that could include Biden, who has run twice previously himself, and has national name recognition and a platform of his own from which to launch a campaign.
Other Democrats waiting in the wings include New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
For his part, Christie has experienced a boost in national attention after making a very public appearance late last year with the president to review the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. That photo opportunity, airing days before the 2012 White House election, reinforced perceptions of Christie as a bipartisan actor from a blue northern state who might have wider appeal; the visual also helped to buoy Obama, looking ever presidential during a national emergency, over his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Christie’s star is on the rise; he recently slow jammed the news on ‘Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,’ showing a lighthearted side to himself and decent comic timing. His visibility – and seeming likability – has not been lost on Clinton or her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who invited the New Jersey governor to engage in a panel conversation during the Clintons’ recent family foundation summit in Chicago.
Perhaps the Ohio survey is missing the mark. Maybe Clinton and Christie won’t be rivals after all. Clinton could take a stab at crafting a doubly historic 2016 bid by inviting Christie to run with her. The first female president? The first unity ticket since Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson?
Just a thought. And certainly Christie might have other ideas.
The Ohio poll, meanwhile, provides other good news for Clinton. Her favorables crest the critical 50 percent mark, while Biden’s do not. Respondents say they have a favorable view of Clinton, 52 percent to 44 percent. Biden’s numbers are upside-down, 41 percent rate him favorably, while 48 percent register an unfavorable opinion.
A last key survey item that might give the Democrats some reason to pause as they look to the next White House contest – Obama’s support in Ohio has eroded.
“Ohio was the key state in both of President Barack Obama’s elections, and it was his strong showing among independent voters there that made the difference,” says Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a statement. “President Obama’s fortunes in the Buckeye State have turned. Since last December, he has lost 10 points among Democrats and 17 points among independent voters. He has gone from a 20-point approval margin to a 9-point disapproval margin among female voters.”
The survey, conducted June 18-23, polled 941 registered voters and had a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.
In Washington, there are informal rules governing whether former public officials should weigh in on urgent policy matters occupying the dockets of their successors.
Rule No. 1: Don’t, unless called upon.
But for former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, now a private citizen, the rules don’t necessarily apply. After all, she is pondering a 2016 presidential bid, and her every move and utterance are assessed in that light. And, well, she’s a Clinton, and therefore as powerful as anyone in politics today. She and her husband, the former president, usually dictate the hows, whens, and whats of their public statements.
And so with that in mind, or so it seems, she registered her strong feelings Monday night on the biggest foreign policy matter – crisis even – facing President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry: Edward Snowden’s international quest for asylum in the wake of his disclosure of classified government surveillance tactics.
"That kind of action is not only detrimental to the US-China relationship but it sets a bad precedent that could unravel the intricate international agreements about how countries respect the laws – and particularly the extradition treaties," the former secretary of State told an audience in Los Angeles.
Clinton’s remarks came during a 90-minute talk sponsored by the American Jewish University, according to the Associated Press. During the appearance she also said Mr. Snowden, the former Booz Allen Hamilton contractor, engaged in "outrageous behavior" in releasing details of the National Security Agency’s data collection program PRISM, which tracks citizens’ e-mails and phone calls in an effort to root out possible terrorist activity.
While Clinton is on message in a sense, echoing comments made by other administration officials, it’s not clear if she was given the go-ahead to comment. She hardly tiptoed into the broader national conversation about government surveillance and the public’s right to know. She used some seriously tough talk. Would the Obama administration suggest that what’s gone down with Snowden’s release from Hong Kong threatens to “unravel” key agreements between China and the United States?
A call to Secretary Kerry’s communications shop at the State Department was not returned.
Kerry, for his part, has indeed used some direct language of his own this week.
“It would be very disappointing if he was willfully allowed to board an airplane” from Hong Kong to Moscow, Kerry said of Snowden at a news conference in New Delhi yesterday, adding that he “would be deeply troubled” if Russia and China knew of Snowden’s plans, “and there would be, without any question, some effect and impact on the relationship and consequences.”
“I’d urge them to live within the law,” Kerry added. “It’s in the interest of everyone.”
Kerry said, too, that “people may die as a consequence” of what Snowden has revealed.
So the newly minted secretary of State hasn’t exactly been absent from the administration’s efforts to advise world leaders who might be pondering whether Snowden should be extradited to the US. Clinton isn’t filling a void there, but with the spotlight she draws with every appearance and declaration, she risks eclipsing Kerry.
Still, for her long-term purposes, she’s likely reminding folks, in case they’d already forgotten, that she knows a thing or two about the complicated relationship with China and that she has something to say about our national security policies.
Meanwhile, Clinton has made more of her own news of late, stoking speculation that she’s prepping for a White House bid. She joined Twitter to much discussion. She gave a policy speech in Chicago outlining her renewed effort via the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation to tackle economic equity issues for women and launch an early childhood development initiative. And she told an audience in Toronto that she’d like to see a woman in the Oval Office.
"Let me say this, hypothetically speaking, I really do hope that we have a woman president in my lifetime," Clinton said last weekend. "And whether it's next time or the next time after that, it really depends on women stepping up and subjecting themselves to the political process, which is very difficult."
But she’s not president yet, and she’s no longer secretary of State, though one could be forgiven for forgetting that in recent days.
First Ed Snowden, then Rusty the red panda. They were both on the lam Monday, and like everything else connected to Washington, there was a political angle.
At the National Zoo, Rusty the red panda – not to be confused with his more famous zoo-mates, the giant pandas – was last seen at 6 p.m. Sunday. By Monday morning, the zoo had put out an all-points bulletin, alerting the public and warning that if found, to exercise caution. If cornered, Rusty could bite.
At 2:24 p.m. Eastern time, the zoo tweeted out that Rusty had been captured safe and sound, put in a crate and was heading back to the zoo. Turns out he had made it all the way to 20th and Biltmore Streets NW, in the nearby neighborhood of Adams Morgan, according to The Washington Post.
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Mr. Snowden, the former government contractor charged with leaking top secret national security information, is still at large, presumably somewhere in Russia, after boarding a flight Sunday from Hong Kong to Moscow. He had been booked onto a flight to Cuba on Monday, but was a no-show.
And for a few hours Monday, Snowden was the perfect foil for Rusty the red panda. In a flash, Rusty became the second most famous fugitive on the planet.
“Snowden isn’t the only one on the run,” tweeted Mary Bruce, ABC News White House producer.
“What does @RustyRedPanda know, and when did he know it?” tweeted David Clinch, executive editor at Storyful, suggesting maybe Rusty was up to no good.
In another tweet, Mr. Clinch fueled the Rusty-as-Snowden meme: “Has anyone photo-shopped picture @RustyRedPanda into 17a on Aeroflot flight yet?” – referencing the seat that was reserved for Snowden on the Moscow-Havana flight.
Predictably, famous zoo-lover Newt Gingrich chimed in: “In response to red panda charges, I have an alibi,” the former House speaker and presidential candidate tweeted. “Callista and I were feeding our pet elephant all evening (just a joke) help find panda.”
And like all good Washington stories, Rusty made the White House’s daily briefing.
“Anything on the red panda?” a reporter asked Jay Carney in the final question of the day, sparking laughter.
Even though Rusty has been found, we will probably never know the full story – like how he got out and what route he took to get to 20th and Biltmore. And why? Why did he bolt? Rusty came to the National Zoo only in late April from a zoo in Lincoln, Neb. The zoo here plans to breed him with its female red panda, Shama, according to the Post.
Maybe it wasn’t working out between the two. Just like Snowden’s girlfriend, who got left behind when he fled to Hong Kong.
The latest tweet from the zoo, posted at 3:24 p.m., reports that Rusty is at the zoo’s vet hospital getting checked out.
As for Snowden, stay tuned.
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Hanging over the Washington battle about immigration reform is the dicey question of how the issue might affect the White House hopes of those Republicans supporting the legislation. Namely, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and former Sunshine State governor Jeb Bush.
One broader political narrative in play is that the GOP must make a move to woo the nation’s growing Hispanic voter population – and that if lawmakers stand in the way of reform, they’re further alienating citizens who have already shown a deepening allegiance to the Democratic Party. Hispanics twice backed Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.
But in key early caucus and primary states, Iowa in particular, Republican primary voters are socially conservative, largely white, and prone to supporting firebrands who rail against abortion, for example, and to courting Evangelicals. They wrap themselves in the flag. Often effectively.
So for Republicans, there’s an obvious tension in positioning around the immigration issue. Should GOP hopefuls aim to win 2016 primary contests with an anti-immigration reform stance that could potentially turn off valuable general-election swing voters? Think potential White House wannabes Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas, who have made clear their views against reform and for a stronger border.
Or is it perhaps more politically astute to think long, carve out some middle ground on the issue, and seek compromise with Democrats?
“Pro-reform candidates could have a hard time in the caucuses and primaries, but let’s remember there are other issues that drive activists, too,” says David Yepsen, a longtime Des Moines Register political reporter. “Electability in November and likability on the stump are two.”
After two White House losses, Republicans will be “hungry” to win come November 2016, says Mr. Yepsen, now director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. One consideration: If immigration reform passes soon, that leaves at least two years before a presidential primary campaign gets going in earnest. Voters are likely to turn their attention to other issues by then. In other words, the fervor over this debate might fade.
“If a candidate puts together a package that’s attractive overall, some hard-liners may overlook a single issue in favor of getting a candidate who might actually stand a chance of winning,” Yepsen says.
In New Hampshire, where Democrats hold the governor’s office and three of four congressional assignments, the immigration reform issue doesn’t read as it might in more-conservative states, says Dante Scala, an associate professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.
The state, which holds America’s first primary, is typically “less isolationist, more internationally oriented,” Professor Scala says. It’s not primarily a white, working-class state; manufacturing jobs have dried up. Instead, the Granite State tends to boast a strong high-tech industry and well-educated residents. Many in the business community have weighed in favorably in support of immigration reform. All reasons, among others, that the state’s lone congressional Republican – Sen. Kelly Ayotte – is on board.
“Look at the last two New Hampshire [primary] winners – [John] McCain, Romney: They’re much more center-right Republicans, and inasmuch as immigration reform is becoming an acceptable mainstream Republican position, people who are outside and make a point of it, I think that might damage people’s enthusiasm” for candidates with such views, Scala says.
The national numbers themselves tell an important story for candidates as they begin to think about how to distinguish themselves from what is expected to be a crowded pack of Republican aspirants. Among Latinos in 2012, Mr. Obama bested his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, 71 percent to 27 percent. And the number of registered Latino voters is on the rise: Between the 2008 and 2012 contests, it increased by 26 percent.
So perhaps Senators Paul and Cruz and other like-minded Republicans with their eyes on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue should heed GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham’s caution. He hails from South Carolina, which holds the third contest for the presidential nomination and whose primary voters skew decidedly conservative. Earlier this month, Senator Graham said the GOP is in a “demographic death spiral.”
"If we don't pass immigration reform, if we don't get it off the table in a reasonable, practical way, it doesn't matter who you run in 2016," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press.”
A border-security compromise struck by two Republican senators and the authors of the Senate’s bipartisan immigration reform bill is not only winning over perhaps a dozen or more Republicans to the cause: It’s also made an immigration reform believer out of Fox News host Bill O’Reilly.
“It is time for the USA to pass immigration reform,” Mr. O’Reilly said on his show, "The O’Reilly Factor," Thursday night. “For years I’ve called for a more secure Southern border, you know that. And now it looks like the secure border is in reach, at least somewhat. So I hope this bill does become law.”
O’Reilly and other conservative pundits have been getting an earful from Sen. Marco Rubio (R) of Florida, among other conservative immigration reform proponents in Congress, in an attempt to win over the television and radio personalities who play a pivotal role in conservative politics.
Although O’Reilly denied claims he had already given his assurances privately to GOP senators that he would back the bill (a claim made in a recent piece in The New Yorker), it is the border-security compromise – worked out by Sens. Bob Corker (R) of Tennessee and John Hoeven (R) of North Dakota with a handful of the Senate bill’s authors, known as the “Gang of Eight” – that finally paved the way for his support.
That compromise, still being finalized as of Friday afternoon, would do the following before any of the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented people can obtain permanent legal status:
- Offer a “border surge” of some 20,000 new border patrol agents along the US-Mexico divide (doubling the number of agents there).
- Order up a slew of technological and infrastructure improvements.
- Require 700 miles of border fencing to be completed.
Those requirements come in addition to two other “triggers” that must be met before illegal immigrants can become permanent residents: Entry- and exit-tracking procedures have to be improved at all seaports and airports, and a nationwide system of employment verification known as E-Verify must be in place.
Senator Corker said he hopes the compromise, which also extends to a handful of non-border-security issues key to winning the support of other GOP senators, will produce more than a dozen conservative votes for the legislation. Two Senate Republicans – Dean Heller of Nevada and Mark Kirk of Illinois – said on Thursday they would almost certainly support the bill with the Corker-Hoeven amendments.
O’Reilly said he “supports immigration reform, even though I well understand the new law will be somewhat chaotic and will be a magnet for even more people to come here illegally, which is why we need stepped-up security along the border.”
While noting the immigration issue was a difficult one for conservative Americans “because reform would reward bad behavior – illegal entry into the USA,” he contended that the federal government and businesses that profited from cheap labor had played a key role in attracting illegal migrants.
Yet the political stakes are also high, O’Reilly said.
“The Republican Party has a lot to lose here. If it doesn’t compromise, many Hispanic voters will reject the GOP entirely, pretty much dooming the party in the future,” he said. “That’s the reality.”
The amendments, which will probably come up for a vote next week as the Senate moves to pass the overall bill before the Fourth of July recess, aren’t winning over all pundits on the right, however.
The Corker-Hoeven package “may give political cover to Republican senators who want to vote for this bill anyway and are looking for something to be able to say when they go back home – ‘we really toughened up that border security,’ ” said William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine, on Fox News Thursday.
“I don’t believe there’s a lot of policy analysis behind this. I missed all the hearings and the documents that show why we need 20,000 more border-security agents as opposed to 5,000," he said. "I don’t think it should change anyone’s fundamental attitude toward the bill as a matter of public policy, as it’s not a serious public-policy proposal.”
A majority of Americans believe Edward Snowden should be criminally prosecuted for leaking classified information about government surveillance programs, according to a new national poll. But you might be surprised by the unlikely grouping of cohorts who suggest the information he has revealed is in the public interest.
First off, 54 percent of Americans say the government should pursue a criminal case against Mr. Snowden, the former Booz Allen Hamilton contractor who has fled to Hong Kong, according to a new Pew Research Center and USA Today survey. But digging into the numbers, it’s interesting to note that tea party loyalists, liberals, and young people suggest the National Security Administration leak outlining extensive phone and e-mail monitoring programs is in the public interest.
People who identify themselves as tea partyers believe the release of this information is in the public interest by a 56 to 39 percent margin. An almost identical segment of liberals – 57 to 38 percent – say the same.
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Meanwhile, the 18-to-29-year-old set feel even more strongly – 60 percent to 34 percent – that American citizens are well-served by the knowledge Snowden has provided. And a minority of young people, 44 percent, believe he – or as the survey frames it, “the person responsible for leaking the classified information” – should face criminal charges.
What unites these subsets of the population? Former President George W. Bush might call them freedom lovers.
“We saw the same pattern with the Patriot Act,” says Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. “This pattern was particularly acute in the West. These issues unite the people who dislike government interference and believe in ‘black helicopters’ with liberals who since Vietnam dislike and distrust government in many of its war and terrorist activities.”
The poll also shows a partisan shift in feelings about personal privacy since Mr. Bush held office. In 2006, 77 percent of Democrats said they would feel their personal privacy was violated if they learned the government was collecting their personal data, while just 28 percent of Republicans agreed. In the latest survey, those numbers reverse – 68 percent of Republicans said they would feel violated, while 53 percent of Democrats agree.
Perhaps these changes in sentiment have something – everything? – to do with who holds the White House and is ultimately overseeing sensitive intelligence programs. If respondents supported the incumbent at the polls, they’re more likely to trust his motivations and give him the benefit of the doubt.
At least for a time. President Obama has seen his approval numbers take a nose dive in recent days, in particular those young people who twice helped him get elected are showing their discontent with the latest batch of scandals plaguing the administration, Snowden’s included. Mr. Obama’s overall rating with those ages 18 to 29 has declined 17 points and is at 48 percent, according to a recent CNN/ORC poll.
As for Snowden, who is making the very most of his more than 15 minutes of fame via web chats and interviews, opinions are deeply divided.
Though the Pew/USA Today poll shows a majority believe he should be charged, a Reuters survey indicates more view him as a patriot than a traitor.
"I'm neither traitor nor hero. I'm an American," Snowden told the South China Post, an English-language newspaper in Hong Kong, last week.
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Sen. Claire McCaskill’s announcement Tuesday that she is endorsing Hillary Rodham Clinton for president should come as no surprise – aside from the fact that the 2016 election is 3-1/2 years away. And the first nominating caucus is probably about 2-1/2 years away. And the former secretary of State isn’t close to announcing that she’s actually running.
But no matter. The 2016 race is well under way, at least among the politically addicted, which includes those thinking of running and the people who love them (and/or want to work for them). So it also comes as no surprise that there’s already a well-established "super political action committee" – Ready for Hillary – encouraging former Secretary Clinton to run. Former Bill Clinton political guru James Carville is on board, as is former Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) of Michigan.
Senator McCaskill (D) of Missouri is the first sitting member of Congress to climb on board, which takes the super PAC’s prestige up a notch. For McCaskill herself, the decision to endorse early may represent a bit of atonement for her early endorsement of then-Sen. Barack Obama over then-Senator Clinton in the 2008 cycle.
But McCaskill puts forth another reason to back Clinton early.
“Hillary Clinton had to give up her political operation while she was making us proud, representing us around the world as an incredible Secretary of State, and that’s why Ready for Hillary is so critical,” McCaskill said in her announcement. “It’s important that we start early, building a grassroots army from the ground up, and effectively using the tools of the Internet – all things that President Obama did so successfully – so that if Hillary does decide to run, we’ll be ready to help her win.”
The idea that Clinton is the inevitable nominee if she decides to run has become an article of faith. In fact, “the only ‘news’ a top Democratic official can make now about 2016 is announcing their intention NOT to support Clinton,” notes NBC’s “First Read” political sheet. “At this point, announcing support for her is not exactly NEWS.”
Well, we think it’s a modest news point, at least worthy of a blog item. And it reminds us that in these early days of the 2016 presidential cycle, the Democrats are behaving like Republicans and vice versa. For the past many cycles, the Republicans have settled reasonably early on a candidate – often the runner-up from the previous cycle (see Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney), almost always someone who has run before, or, in the case of George W. Bush, the scion of an American political royal family.
Now, it’s the Democrats who are doing that. If Hillary Clinton runs, she effectively clears the field. The Republicans, in contrast, have at least a dozen serious people gearing up to run or thinking about it, and several strong prospects, but no clear front-runner.
So which party is in better shape? There are reasons to say the Democrats, but the fact that they have an obvious next-nominee-in-waiting may not be one of them. Remember, Republicans say, their model hasn’t worked so well of late. In the last six elections, the Republican nominee has won the popular vote only once. Sometimes, it appears, a vigorous, wide-open competition can be just what a party needs. The best is allowed to rise to the top.
National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden answered questions from ordinary folks Monday on a Guardian newspaper online chat. It was a technical first of sorts – a virtual public news conference by someone who’s in a lot of trouble and does not wish to make public their precise location.
So did he reveal anything new? Yes – among other things, he charged that US lawmakers are themselves shielded against NSA snooping.
This came on his very last answer in the chat, after Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald asked him if he had anything to add. Mr. Snowden said that just because you – as in “you, the average citizen” – are not an NSA target does not make the agency’s programs OK.
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That’s because civil liberty protections built into NSA procedures are no replacement for having the information gathering limited to individuals who have already fallen under suspicion.
“This is the precise reason the NSA provides Congress with a special immunity to its surveillance,” Snowden added.
Is this true? As national security expert blogger Marcy Wheeler points out, it’s certainly feasible to block the NSA from access to all official congressional numbers. But given the multiple communications devices common to congressional aides and campaigns, plus personal stuff, it might be challenging to actually wall off Congress from any inadvertent NSA collection.
However, Ms. Wheeler notes that immediately after Snowden’s initial leaks Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) of Maryland, chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, complained publicly about the possibility the NSA was intercepting her communications. Then she shut up about it, and did not bring up the subject at a hearing featuring NSA director Keith Alexander.
“So while Snowden is clearly trying to push the debate, it is also quite likely that the immunity comment is true,” Wheeler wrote Monday.
Another interesting tidbit that came out of Snowden’s Guardian chat was his assertion that he is trying to protect the privacy of people all over the world, not just in the United States.
He said that he believes “suspicionless surveillance” is not OK, period, even if the targets of this are not American citizens.
“Our founders did not write that ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all US persons are created equal,’ ” Snowden said in the chat.
This shows that Snowden is not just concerned about the effect of NSA programs on American citizens, but is an extreme skeptic of government surveillance of all sorts, writes Zeke Miller of Time Magazine.
“In that sense, Snowden is emerging as an heir to [Wikileaks founder] Julian Assange,” Mr. Miller writes.
Other interesting stuff that came out of the Guardian chat includes Snowden’s denial that he is a spy for China. If he were, he’d have gone straight to Beijing and be living in a palace “petting a phoenix,” he said.
He also was harshly critical of former VP Dick Cheney, who has called Snowden a “traitor” for his disclosure of NSA secrets. He said Cheney had supported the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping as well as the Iraq War.
“Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American,” said Snowden.
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Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Friday told an audience of conservatives that the future of the US economy depends on immigrants in part because they are “more fertile” than native-born Americans and thus will produce many young workers to help support the aging US boomer generation.
“More fertile”? Yes, that’s a formulation Mr. Bush has used before, but it’s now drawing a lot of criticism on Twitter and elsewhere on the Web. That’s because it’s not the right word. “Fertile” means “capable of reproduction,” so what Bush was saying was immigrants are more physically able to have children. That’s not true.
“Jeb Bush, a regular Bill Nye the Science Guy,” read one typical Twitter comment.
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What Bush meant to say was that immigrants have a higher birthrate. In the years ahead, the United States will need a large cohort of young workers to pay taxes to help support the Social Security and Medicare expenses of retirees. With the native-born birthrate sinking toward a record low, immigration could be a big help in this regard, runs Bush’s real argument.
“Immigrants are more fertile, and they love families, and they have more intact families, and they bring a younger population. Immigrants create an engine of economic prosperity,” was Bush’s full quote during his speech at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s annual conference in Washington.
It’s true that immigrant women per capita have more children than native-born women. Last November, a comprehensive Pew Research Center analysis of the latest available government data found that the immigrant birthrate in 2010 was 87.8 live births per every 1,000 women of childbearing age. The equivalent figure for native-born women was 58.9.
(It’s also true that the immigrant birthrate is declining. Hispanics are having fewer children per capita as they assimilate into US culture, as did previous waves of immigrants throughout US history.)
To see why high birthrates might be a help, consider that preliminary figures show the 2011 birthrate for all women was 63.2 births per 1,000, according to Pew.
“That rate is the lowest since at least 1920, the earliest year for which there are reliable numbers,” wrote Pew’s Gretchen Livingston and D’Vera Cohn.
By contrast, the birthrate in 1957, at the height of the baby boom, was 122.7, nearly double today’s rate.
Aside from his weird word choice for his birthrate argument, Bush gave a “civil speech on serious issues,” judges NBC’s deputy political editor Domenico Montanaro.
Besides backing comprehensive immigration reform, he pushed for greater North American energy production; further changes to the education system, such as using student achievement to rank schools; and greater support for families, including nontraditional ones.
“Let me remind you, families don’t look all the time like they used to, and that’s OK,” Bush said. “We have to be supportive of a single mom or dad, or the grandmother taking care of young children.”
But on Friday at least, the right-leaning conference that Bush spoke to was not buying it.
“Bush’s arguments for immigration reform were met with near silence from the conservative crowd Friday, and following his speech the former Florida governor received a polite standing ovation,” CNN reported.
In contrast, firebrand Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) of Minnesota received loud applause from the same crowd for opposing the current immigration reform effort.
In general, the tea party and anti-immigration-reform Republicans remain suspicious of Bush. Within the current GOP, he stands as a moderate.
“We need to embrace ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ because ... fertility? Remember when Barbara Bush said, ‘We’ve had enough Bushes?’ ” gibed the conservative website Twitchy following Bush’s speech Friday.
Sarah Palin’s back! Back on national TV as a regular, that is. Fox News announced Thursday that they’ve rehired Ms. Palin as a paid contributor. Her (undoubtedly triumphant) reappearance is set for June 17 on the network’s morning show “Fox and Friends.”
“I have great confidence in her and am pleased that she will once again add her commentary to our programming. I hope she continues to speak her mind,” Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes said in a news release.
The former GOP VP candidate and ex-Alaska governor added that the “power of Fox News is unparalleled” and that she’s “pleased and proud” to be rejoining her old team.
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If you recall, Fox and Palin publicly parted ways earlier this year. Fox chose not to renew a contract that had reportedly paid Palin $1 million annually for three years.
She’s probably getting paid a lot less than that now, although terms of the contract weren’t released. Still, there had been some grumbling from Fox about the quality, or perceived lack thereof, of Palin’s on-camera work. So what’s changed? Why have Fox and Miss Wasilla of 1984 chosen to rejoin forces?
Here are our initial theories:
A target-rich environment
When Palin and Mr. Ailes parted ways, President Obama had been comfortably reelected and the GOP was in turmoil. The Republicans are still engaged in reassessment, but for Obama the good feelings of November are but a memory.
GOP members of Congress are continuing to raise questions about the fatal attacks on US buildings in Benghazi, Libya, while IRS targeting of conservative groups is big news. Plus, there’s the new NSA spying-on-Americans scandal on top of the AP subpoena controversy and … so forth and so on.
You get the picture. There are just so many juicy topics for Palin to talk about, it behooves Fox to have her back on. She was a huge hit at the Conservative Political Action Conference this year, proving she’s still got the audience appeal Fox producers crave.
The rise of the competition
Is it a coincidence that Palin’s first reappearance will come on the morning CNN launches its new morning show “New Day”? We think not. Flaunt a celebrity guest – that’s a time-honored TV way of driving down an opponent’s ratings.
And what about the competition that Palin faces herself? Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R) of Minnesota has announced she won’t run for reelection and already appears to be edging in as a new tea party favorite commentator. She was on Glenn Beck’s “TheBlaze TV” show yesterday warning conservatives about the perceived peril of immigration reform.
“We’re losing badly … we need your viewers to melt the phone lines,” Rep. Bachmann told Beck.
Can’t you imagine Palin watching that? “Melting phone lines. … We’ll see who can melt phone lines,” she might say to herself.
In the past, Palin has done well with the written word. Her 2008 “Going Rogue” memoir has sold more than two million copies, and her “America by Heart” was a big bestseller in 2010.
Now she’s got another book on the horizon: “A Happy Holiday IS a Merry Christmas,” scheduled for November release. A platform on Fox would be an invaluable aid in promoting this latest Palin volume, so much so that she’d probably take a lot less money from Fox upfront for her appearances.
Plus, Fox benefits from all the Palin-is-back stories that the scurrilous lame-stream media will indulge in. As the network’s Greta Van Susteren noted yesterday, “it is a free promo for Fox since it will drive her TV critics crazy! They are obsessed with her!
RECOMMENDED: How well do you know Sarah Palin? A quiz.