Archive for the ‘Debates’ Category

This Mike McFadden ad hits Al Franken right between his eyes:

Here’s the transcript of the ad:

I’m Mike McFadden and we need an honest debate about our future. [Graphic: Al Franken voted with President Obama 97% of the time, the most partisan senator in America.] I won’t vote 97% with any president or party. [Graphic: Al Franken is rarely seen in Minnesota.] I’ll work for Minnesota, not Washington, not Hollywood. I’m Mike McFadden and I approve this message. Minnesota just can’t afford an invisible senator with invisible results.

That’s a great ad because it turns Sen. Franken’s strategy against him. Thus far, Sen. Franken has worked hard to look like the no nonsense senator who gets things done.

McFadden turns Franken’s carefully crafted image against Franken by rightly characterizing Sen. Franken as an “invisible senator with invisible results.” Franken can’t point to anything where he’s worked with a Republican to bring people together. That’s why he’s the most partisan senator in the US Senate, which is quite a feat considering the fact that Elizabeth Warren is in the same Senate.

Perhaps Franken has kept his head down because of embarassing things like this:

After talking with a Supreme Court nominee about Perry Mason during a confirmation hearing, you only have 2 choices. Either you keep talking about frivolous things like that, which will lead even ardent supporters to stop taking you seriously, or you put your head down and not say anything to anyone until you’ve been re-elected.

Franken chose the latter option. He’s still keeping his head down, avoiding debates with the hope that he won’t embarass himself during a primetime debate that’s televised statewide.

There’s no disputing the fact that Franken has kept his head down. There’s no dispute, either, that Sen. Franken isn’t the brightest bulb in the DFL’s chandelier. He’s kept his head down because it’s the only way he’s avoided damaging himself politically.

If the real Al Franken appeared, Franken’s charade would be over. He isn’t a serious politician. He’s a lightweight who isn’t qualified to solve the biggest problems facing Minnesota and the United States.

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Over the weekend, Gov. Dayton’s apologists twisted themselves into virtual pretzels in their attempt to justify Gov. Dayton’s not doing any high profile debates. Chief amongst those apologists was Ember Reichgott-Junge, who virtually twisted herself into a pretzel while attempting to justify Gov. Dayton’s unwillingness to agree to any high profile debates.

The following are the five debates Johnson and Dayton have agreed to participate in:

Coalition of Greater MN Cities/Rochester Post-Bulletin/Rochester Chamber of Commerce, Wednesday, October 1, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Rochester
Forum News Service/WDAY TV Wednesday, October 8, 7:00-8:30 p.m., Moorhead
Duluth News Tribune/Duluth Chamber of Commerce Tuesday, October 14, Duluth, 8:00 a.m., Duluth
KMSP/FOX 9, Hamline University Sunday, October 19, 9:00-10:00 a.m., St. Paul
TPT/Almanac Friday, October 31, 7:00-8:00 p.m., St. Paul

There isn’t a high profile debate in the bunch. Normally, the Duluth debate would grab the biggest audience. It won’t this time because it’s scheduled for 8am on a Tuesday morning.

KSTP, KMSP, KARE11 and WCCO should announce that they’re taping these debates, then replaying them that evening. We The People should demand that candidates that want our vote participate in high profile debates that are a) broadcast statewide and b) held in the evening to attract the biggest audiences possible.

Further, we should demand that journalists who aren’t afraid to ask the candidates tough questions be the panelists. That eliminates DFL apologists like Esme Murphy, Cathy Wurzer and Eric Eskola. (I’m sure Mitch can think of others that fit that description.) I’d also recommend that thoughtful bloggers like Ed Morrissey, Scott Johnson and John Hinderaker be panelists. Throw in traditional journalists like Bill Hanna, Don Davis and Tom Hauser and we’d have some fine debates.

Minnesotans have always prided themselves on the level of civic participation by its citizens. When career politicians refuse to answer tough questions from serious journalists, We The People don’t just have the right to question what that politician is afraid of. We The People have the obligation to question what that politician is afraid of.

I strongly suspect that Gov. Dayton will have a difficult time answering questions about his economic policies, the MNsure disaster and how incompetent his Department of Human Services have been in administering the MinnesotaCare program and manually changing health insurance policies to “life events” like having children, changes of addresses or marital status and others.

Gov. Dayton’s handlers/apologists want to limit Gov. Dayton’s exposure. They want to limit the damage that would come from high profile scrutiny versus an intelligent adversary. It’s easy to picture Jeff Johnson questioning Gov. Dayton’s statements on the health of Minnesota’s economy or what a great thing MNsure is. It’s easy picturing Jeff Johnson’s sharp pictures of how Minnesota’s economy isn’t nearly as good as Gov. Dayton and his apologists claim.

It’s natural for Gov. Dayton’s apologists to do everything to hide his weaknesses. That’s their job. It’s the people’s job, though, to demand a series of high profile debates.

Finally, it’s time to tell Gov. Dayton’s apologists that watching Gov. Dayton give a scripted speech to a group limited to top partisans isn’t the same as seeing 2 candidates go toe-to-toe, challenging each other. A scripted speech requires a speechwriter and a teleprompter. To win a lively debate between adversaries requires a candidate with a strong grasp of the issues and the ability to think on their feet.

Gov. Dayton is missing both of those attributes.

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Ed Rogers’ post highlights the lengths to which they’ll go to run away from Harry Reid:

Georgia’s Democratic Senate candidate, Michelle Nunn, recently suggested she might not vote for Harry Reid to be Democratic Senate leader if she wins her election. That the first vote Democratic senators would take would be to reelect Harry Reid, and thereby support and maintain the status quo in Washington, is a potent weapon for Republicans to use against Democratic candidates. In a well-rehearsed statement, Nunn told reporters that she “looks forward to changing the composition in the leadership of the Senate” and “will vote for the Democratic leader that…best represents our capacity to get things done.”

It’s impossible to take this seriously. If Ms. Nunn abstains from voting, Sen. Reid will know who abstained. That’s the moment at which she’ll be ostracized by Sen. Reid.

This type of posturing embodies the deceit Nunn’s entire campaign is based on. (Remember the leaked memo of her campaign strategy that exposed how contrived and fabricated her image really is?) But she is not the only Democrat who is resorting to these tactics in an attempt to get votes. If reelected, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) is not going to stand up to the president and make a difference on the Keystone XL pipeline. Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes has already proven she doesn’t really care about coal, no matter what she says on the campaign trail. And the very notion that Nunn wouldn’t fall into lockstep with the Democrats as soon as she crossed into the Beltway is just ridiculous. Democratic candidates seem to be counting on voters being really stupid. It is painfully obvious that much of what they say is not sincere.

If Republicans don’t push Nunn, Grimes and Landrieu on their phoniness, they should be slapped silly. Lundergan-Grimes won’t push Sen. Reid or President Obama about coal. She’ll vote for the Democrats’ budget, which will give President Obama’s EPA the authority to decimate the coal industry. Landrieu won’t push President Obama over the Keystone XL Pipeline even though her state would benefit from building it.

Nunn, though, is the biggest phony of the trio, though. Sam Nunn was a truly moderate Democrat. His daughter, however, is a true believer in President Obama’s agenda. She’s also lacking his political skills.

This trio of Democrats come from famous political families. That’s the good news for Democrats. The bad news for Democrats is that they’re each as phony as a $3 bill. That might’ve worked in the 1990s but it doesn’t work in a TEA Party environment.

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While it’s guaranteed that Mark Dayton and Jeff Johnson will debate, it’s equally true that Gov. Dayton is ducking high-profile debates. Eventually, that will turn into a dilemma for Gov. Dayton and the DFL.

While it’s predictable that Gov. Dayton doesn’t want to debate Jeff Johnson at the State Fair just a week after a terrible jobs report, that doesn’t mean that he’ll be able to dodge the subject of Minnesota’s slumping economy forever.

While the Alliance for a Better Minnesota produces videos touting the fictional blessings of Gov. Dayton’s policies, last month’s jobs report proves that Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s policies are failing.

Thus far this year, Minnesota’s economy has created a pathetic 2,900 jobs. That’s an average of 414 jobs created per month.

Let’s look beyond raw job creation figures, though. Let’s specifically look at the July jobs report. That report shows that Minnesota’s economy lost 4,200 jobs in July and that June’s jobs totals were revised downward by 3,600 jobs.

June’s and July’s job creation figures are, at minimum, disturbing, especially after the weak job growth to start 2014. By the time Gov. Dayton finally agrees to debate, it’ll be apparent that Gov. Dayton’s and the DFL’s economic policies are failing.

By mid-September, Gov. Dayton’s campaign will be peril. Bloggers like myself, Mitch Berg and Bill Glahn will have had the time to talk about the sluggish economy in outstate Minnesota. By that time, the MNGOP will have highlighted how metro-centric Gov. Dayton’s policies are.

The Dayton debate-ducking dilemma is that it gives Republicans the opportunity to highlight Gov. Dayton’s mistakes. It’s giving the GOP time to say that the decisions made by the all-DFL state government have produce pathetic job growth. It gives Republicans the time to highlight the all-Twin Cities DFL ticket.

Most importantly, it gives Republicans the time to plant seeds of doubt with suburban, exurban and rural voters about a) Gov. Dayton’s competence and b) Gov. Dayton’s disinterest in outstate Minnesota.

When Gov. Dayton finally takes the debate stage, there will be lots of pressure on him to convince voters that he’s the right man to lead Minnesota the next 4 years. While Gov. Dayton is a likable fellow, he’s shown flashes of ineptitude, too.

While there’s a short-term gain for Team Dayton for ducking the State Fair debates, there’s a ton of downside for the Dayton campaign. Republicans will have plenty of time to give people the facts about Gov. Dayton’s mishandling of Minnesota’s economy.

In the end, that’s the thing Gov. Dayton should be most worried about.

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Friday night, Keith Downey, the chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota, faced off against Ken Martin, the chairman of the DFL. For the most part, it was nondescript, with the first questions focusing on each party’s strategy with absentee ballots. It turned feisty, though, when Cathy Wurzer talked about the Cook Report changing its rating of the Eighth District congressional race to toss-up:

WURZER: How worried are Democrats about that race?
MARTIN: I wouldn’t say we’re worried but we aren’t taking anything for granted. In a midterm, crazy things can happen and we’re working very hard in the Eighth Congressional District. We’ve got a great candidate in Congressman Nolan who has actually done the hard work of governing and getting things done on behalf of his constituents and I think that alone will help him win re-election.
WURZER: Are you surprised that experts — so-called experts — think that this is a toss-up in what we’ve long thought of as a pretty deep blue district?
MARTIN: No, I’m not surprised. Over time, the district has changed, no doubt about it. The addition of those southern counties has made it more competitive. There’s been a change in some of the demographics in the district sso I’m not surprised that pundits are saying that. I am surprised that they think it’s competitive because I think the candidate they have is really out of touch with the voters in that district. You have a guy in Stewart Mills who was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple. He’s never had to fill out a job application in his life and I don’t think that the blue collar workers of the Eighth District are going to take well to someone like Stewart Mills.

I’m not surprised that Ken Martin immediately attacked Stewart Mills as an out-of-touch rich guy. I also wasn’t surprised by Keith Downey’s response:

DOWNEY: Well, take away the personal insults and I think Stewart Mills is actually a fantastic candidate for the Eighth and you combine that with the fact that people are figuring out that people on the Iron Range are waking up to the reality that Democrats are committed to pretty much shutting down mining entirely up on the Iron Range. You look at the values that Stewart Mills holds and his lifelong residency in the district. I think he’s a great fit in that district.

What’s especially noteworthy is what wasn’t said. What didn’t get said is that Ken Martin didn’t dispute Chairman Downey’s statement that the DFL wants to shut down mining. The reason why that’s so noteworthy is because an attack unchallenged becomes the truth with voters.

Chairman Martin didn’t have any wiggle room because he’s still working hard at keeping the environmental activist wing of his party from bolting from the DFL’s coalition. Right now, the DFL’s coalition is fragile. Chairman Martin can’t afford it to start breaking apart.

That’s why Stewart Mills is a great candidate. He’s totally committed to making mining the Range’s economic growth engine for another generation. Rick Nolan isn’t.

Martin’s snotty remark that Stewart Mills has never filled out a job application in his life should be exploited by the Mills campaign. I’d recommend they turn that around and ask Nolan the last time he managed a company’s health insurange plan. I’d ask him the last time he opened another major retail store that’s committed to paying its employees more than the minimum wage.

I’d ask those questions because they’d expose Nolan to be the career politician he’s always been. I’d ask those questions to highlight the fact that Mills Fleet Farm is a popular store in the north country.

Friday night, Ken Martin and Keith Downey met on Almanac’s set. Martin hurled insults while looking defensive. Downey debated while looking confident about the position Republicans are in.

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Thanks to George Will’s response to Chris Wallace’s question about climate change, we have clarity on the issue:

Here’s a partial transcript of Brother Will’s response:

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: …I’m one of those who are called deniers. And the implication is that I deny climate change. It’s impossible to state with clearer precision the opposite of my view, which is that, of course the climate is changing. It’s always changing. That’s what gave us the medieval warm period. That’s what gave us, subsequent to that for centuries, the little Ice Age. Of course it’s changing. When a politician on a subject implicating science, hard science, economic science, social science, says the debate is over, you may be sure of two things. The debate is raging and he’s losing it. So I think, frankly, as a policy question, Chris, Holman Jenkins, Kim’s colleague at the “Wall Street Journal” put it perfectly. The only questions is, how much money are we going to spend? How much wealth are we going to forego creating in order to have zero discernible effect on the environment?

There’s actually another question worth asking in light of President Obama’s recent golf outing in California:

Regulations for new coal plants would increase electricity prices by as much as 80 percent, an Obama administration official told lawmakers on Tuesday.

Julio Friedmann, deputy assistant secretary for clean coal at the DEPArtment of Energy, told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight board that carbon capture and storage technology was still not ready for prime time.

“The precise number will vary, but for first generation we project $70 to $90 per ton [on the wholesale price of electricity],” Friedmann said. “For second generation, it will be more like a $40 to $50 per ton price. Second generation of demonstrations will begin in a few years, but won’t be until middle of the next decade that we will have lessons learned and cost savings.”

This means that the CCS technology the administration is pushing for would increase electricity prices initially, but that prices would come down a bit once better technology is developed. But electricity prices would still be higher than they are now.

It’s disgusting that President Obama insists that he’s the champion of the middle class. The middle class will get hit hardest by this rate increase. While it isn’t technically a middle class tax increase, there’s no question that this is another Obama administration policy that hurts the middle class.

President Obama is the champion of the middle class the way Bonnie and Clyde were bank security advocates.

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Now that the RNC has passed a resolution preventing NBC and CNN from hosting GOP primary debates, it’s time to talk about why it’s a great decision.

First, highlighting the fact that CNN has reverted to being a Clinton cheerleader (that’s how it earned its nickname of being the Clinton News Network in the 1990s) and NBC is planning on airing a Hillary miniseries is a great strategy. There’s no better way to highlight these networks’ bias than by highlighting these networks’ bias.

Second, let’s stop pretending that these networks have great debate moderators. Remember Candy Crowley’s interference in the Romney-Obama debate by insisting President Obama had called Benghazi a terrorist attack from the start:

President Obama mentioned terrorists in passing. He didn’t say that Benghazi was a coordinated, pre-planned terrorist attack. The CIA said that the day after the attack but he didn’t. Crowley’s performance was one of the worst performances in presidential debate history.

Then there’s David Gregory accusing Newt Gingrich of racism for talking about President as the food stamp president:

Anyone that thinks David Gregory or Candy Crowley are fairminded, centrist journalists likely think that George Stephanopoulos is objective, too. For those who’ve forgotten, here’s a reminder of Stephanopoulos’ objectivity:

The thought that a journalist would waste time during a presidential debate on contraception policy is appalling. It’s a nothing question designed to paint Republicans as hating women. Stephanopoulos wasn’t trying to ask a pertinent question on an important issue. His goal was to ask a pointed question to humiliate a presidential candidate.

The best moderators in the presidential debates were Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and the other people from Fox. They asked substantive questions. They didn’t hesitate in asking a clarifying follow-up question. They thing they didn’t do is ask gotcha questions that didn’t inform the voters about the important issues of the day.

Not letting the likes of David Gregory, George Stephanopoulos, Scott Pelley and Candy Crowley moderate the GOP primary debates is a positive step in the right direction.

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When I wrote the first part of this series, I accused the DFL of attempting to stifle debate. I noted that Rep. Erin Murphy, the House Majority Leader, was lying in justifying the DFL’s tactics:

“The floor debate is where Minnesotans have the least amount of access,” Murphy said. “When amendments are being drafted on the floor and then debated on the floor, it’s hard for representatives to be able to talk to constituents and get answers to questions as to what it means.”

Since I published the first post of this series, I’ve spoken with a number of GOP legislators, all of whom verified that the DFL’s rules change would stifle debate. One legislator confirmed that he’s received input from his constituents during floor debates. That’s why he considers his laptop essential equipment for floor debates.

Since Monday morning, though, I’ve found out more about the DFL’s proposed rule change. What they’re proposing is that, after the GOP has filed their motions 24 hours in advance, the DFL can file “an amendment to amend the amendment.” The DFL would then use that tactic to gut the GOP’s amendments most popular amendments so vulnerable DFL legislators wouldn’t have to cast difficult votes in the hope of hanging onto their seats in 2014.

In addition to gutting the GOP’s amendments to protect their legislators, the DFL’s rules changes would essentially gut the GOP’s ability to represent their constituents. The thing that’ll bite the DFL in the backside on this, though, is that the DFL won’t be able to explain how their gutting the GOP’s amendments strengthened the legislation. The DFL won’t be able to hide the fact that the DFL is pushing an unpopular agenda.

Yes, it’s unpopular. If the DFL’s agenda had widespread support, they’d welcome robust debate. The stronger the legislation, the better they’d look.

This isn’t the first time that the DFL majority has attempted to stifle debate. The truth is that they’re gutless wimps who don’t have the confidence to debate their legislation on the merits. That’s their right…for now.

It isn’t surprising that the DFL wants to limit debate in the Minnesota House of Representatives. When they’re in charge, that’s what they’ve traditionally done. This time, Erin Murphy is the DFL legislator that’s proposing to limiting debate under the guise of transparency:

Democrats in the Minnesota House are proposing to change how the House operates during floor debates.

The plan would require proposed amendments to be filed 24 hours before the debate on a bill starts. It’s a dramatic departure from current rules that allow members to draft and propose changes to legislation as members are debating it.

House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, said she’s making the change to give lawmakers and the public more time to consider proposed changes to legislation.

What’s worst is that Rep. Murphy is lying to justify her proposal:

“The floor debate is where Minnesotans have the least amount of access,” Murphy said. “When amendments are being drafted on the floor and then debated on the floor, it’s hard for representatives to be able to talk to constituents and get answers to questions as to what it means.”

In a pre-Twitter, pre-social media, pre-texting world, Rep. Murphy might’ve had a point. She isn’t right anymore. Citizens have multiple points of access to legislators during floor debates, with Twitter being the most popular. Texting likely comes in a close second.

Most likely, she’s just doing the best she can to BS herself through a terrible predicament. Rep. Murphy can’t admit that it’s never been easier for constituents to contact their representatives during a floor debate. Rep. Murphy can’t admit that livestreaming the floor debate makes it possible to watch the debate, either. Rep. Murphy can’t admit that constituents can read bills thanks to the House of Representatives’ website.

If she admitted that, Rep. Murphy and the DFL would have to admit that their real goal is to limit debate to limit their exposure to common sense amendments that would improve their legislation. The worst part about a truly open amendment process for the DFL -is that it would force DFL legislators to cast votes against amendments that their constituents would want them voting for.

That, in turn, would put already vulnerable DFL legislators in greater jeopardy of losing in 2014. Unfortunately for the DFL, the DFL can’t protect their representatives from their agenda of higher taxes, more wasteful spending and greater intrusions into people’s lives.

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John Boehner is failing. He’s playing President Obama’s game on President Obama’s court. He’s prosecuting the wrong case. Rather than discussing the terms of the fiscal cliff debate, Speaker Boehner should be talking about why Republicans’ pro-growth tax policies are America’s only hope for a variety of Obama-created ills.

First, Speaker Boehner should highlight the fact that President Clinton’s high tax rates didn’t trigger the great economy. He should remind the nation that it was Newt’s capital gains tax cuts that sent the economy into high gear. Prior to those tax cuts, the economy was doing ok. After cutting the capital gains tax, growth exploded.

Another thing that Speaker Boehner must do is remind people that Republicans’ insisting on balancing the federal budget helped strengthen the dollar, which led to a dramatic shrinking of America’s trade deficit. That especially affected gas prices.

Third, Speaker Boehner should shout from the rooftops that revenues during the Bush tax cuts were significantly bigger than revenues are today. If Speaker Boehner asked President Obama why he’s insisting on anti-growth policies that tamp the economy down rather than implementing new pro-growth policies that strengthen the economy, President Obama might well blow a gasket.

This is the debate we should start. This is the debate President Obama can’t win. This is the conversation that would expose President Obama’s motivation for imposing higher tax rates.

Rather than the pattern of proposal-counterproposal, then a counter offer to the counterproposal, with each side publicly stating that the other side needs to put forth a serious proposal, Speaker Boehner should ditch that pattern, especially the taunting language.

Instead, Speaker Boehner, followed by every Republican in Congress talking with their local newspapers and TV outlets about how cutting spending is what’s fair to taxpayers and how reforming the tax code, highlighted by fewer deductions and lower tax rates, would strengthen the economy.

Highlight the fact that this was the real reason why the economy was strong during the Clinton administration. Highlight the fact that the economy didn’t take off until Newt changed the trajectory of the debate.

President Obama is too arrogant to be frightened by that debate, which means Speaker Boehner should be able to turn this situation into a discussion on getting America’s economy going for the first time during President Obama’s administration.

With expensive utility bills, shrinking paychecks, high gas and grocery prices and unacceptably high unemployment rates, the indictment against President Obama’s mishandling of the economy should be lengthy and powerful.

Finally, he should unleash Paul Ryan. Speaker Boehner should insist on a televised fiscal cliff summit, with Ryan leading the prosecution of the case against President Obama’s reckless spending. Dave Camp should prosecute the case for why the GOP tax reform plan will strengthen the economy.

GOP senators and governors should take part in this summit, too. One tactic President Obama has overplayed is saying that ‘we can talk about that’ on a variety of policies, then dropping that position the minute he’s out of the room. Republicans should tell him that implementing a pro-growth economic plan is non-negotiable.

Finally, make the case that raising the top marginal tax rates won’t affect the Warren Buffetts of the world because their income comes from investments, not wages. Make the case that raising the top marginal tax rates will hurt small businesses, not the evil Wall Street fatcats President Obama always talks about.

President Obama’s policies are failing. Speaker Boehner’s ineptitude in highlighting those failures has the fiscal cliff conversation heading in the wrong direction. It’s time to change the direction of that conversation.

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