CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, caught in the middle of the firestorm surrounding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) rollout debacle has, legitimately, been spared much of the blame. Tavenner retains much of the bipartisan support she had when the U.S. Senate confirmed her on a 91-7 vote in May, 2013.
By the time she was conformed, the website and its technical components were far down the track, and she was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. Tavenner, who served as Virginia’s Secretary of Health and Human Resources under Governor Tim Kaine, has historically had a strong relationship with health care business interests as well as GOP leaders like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and others.
It is highly unlikely she will lose support of her GOP benefactors due to the fact she is not a liberal bureaucrat, and highly regarded as a competent manager. Instead of being a scapegoat for the Obamacare rollout, she will end up being a key part of the solution — but if, and only if, the Obama Administration can retain the political support necessary to survive the most significant crisis of his Presidency.
Tavenner is an asset to Obama — and now she has to perform.
The news, obviously, is that Terry McAuliffe won the Virginia Governor’s race — but it was a win where he was holding on at the end; holding on as the Cuccinelli forces did the only thing they could after getting badly outgunned on TV: use President Obama’s late appearance to make the race a referendum on “Obamacare.” Smart play — and the only play after getting buried in negative advertising.
Still, this late tactical move by Cuccinelli was well executed as they were handed a gift from the increasingly unpopular President. Why show up in Virginia parallel to the Sebelius hearings and all of the negative chatter about Obamacare? It’s mystifying why McAuliffe would even want him there. They obviously calculated they needed him to meet turnout objectives. But still — McAuliffe paid a price for the Obama appearance.
As the finger-pointing is just getting started about having ‘abandoned’ Cuccinelli (he was), the Cuccinelli campaign operatives who sat there day after day after day in the bunker getting pummeled deserve credit for hanging in there. Like a football game, where the leading team just can’t put the other team away, the Cuccinelli guys ‘hung around” and looked for the opportunity they needed.
Yes, they lost — and its a big “L” on the win/loss scorecard. But ‘losing’ in a big league race in this manner — where they went down swinging and kept it close despite being financially abandoned — is no sin.
As reported in today’s Washington Post, Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander is taking on the tea party frontally in his re-election campaign, and it’s a smart formula that will work for him. While, on the one hand, he’s co-opting tea party anti-Obamacare messaging by consistently attacking the program, Alexander confidently showcases his authenticity and long record in Tennessee as a bipartisan problem solver.
Alexander is in touch with who he is: a pragmatic moderate to conservative Republican who has remained consistent throughout his lengthy tenure as a Governor and U.S. Senator. Running away from that record, and pretending to be someone he’s not is a non-starter, and remaining true to his governmental philosophy is admirable in the face of so many Republicans running scared in primaries.
Yes, Alexander has more leeway to question Tea Party orthodoxy because his opponent, State Rep. Joe Carr, is vastly underfunded. But it’s also a strategy that will end up working for Alexander in a state whose political culture embraces a more collegial, compromising political modus operandi.
Listenting to the growing chorus of complaints about the competence of gubernatorial campaign of Ken Cuccinelli, one most frequently hears that he “doesn’t have a message” or that his entire campaign consists of simply slamming the ethics-challenged Terry McAuliffe.
That’s not entirely fair, nor is it accurate. Cuccinelli’s biggest problem is that he and his allies are getting blown out on TV by McAuliffe and his network of allies — especially in the expensive DC market. Anyone watching TV in DC can see the stark difference in ad volume.
According to Washington Post reporting, McAuliffe has spent $3.9 million on TV versus $2.9 million for Cuccinelli; McAuliffe allies have spent an additional $1.1 million versus just $477k for Cuccinelli backers.
Cuccinelli, in fact, has invested plenty of his resources attempting to define and develop his jobs message — the problem is that the other side has dumped a load of highly focused, effective, simple anti-Cuccinelli advertising that he’s “focused on his own agenda — not on us.”
Cuccinelli’s ‘agenda’ — according to the other side — centers around the issues of abortion, alleged anti-woman viewpoints, and other hot button issues that have driven his unfav near or even above 50%, according to some polls.
Unfortunately, the spending disparity will continue to grow, and there no easy strategic answers for the GOP candidate.
However, the charge that Cuccinelli hasn’t attempted to develop his rationale more fully is unwarranted. The other side simply has too big of a cash disparity, and a more potent negative message.
Before a news organization runs with a story that can affect the course of a major political campaign, much less one’s reputation, they need to have the facts nailed down. And when the facts are wrong, the media outlet deserves to be skewered and held accountable just as a campaign would for disseminating flatly false information.
The fact I support Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia gubernatorial race is irrelevant to this matter. This is a matter of ensuring the Associated Press is held to the highest levels of journalistic integrity — as its intrinsic legitimacy as a news organization serves as the lifeblood and ‘true north’ of the media at large. It always has. And that’s why the magnitude of the sloppy reporting is so shocking.
Last night, AP published a story that rocked Democrat Terry McAuliffe, and involved allegations that a person identified in court documents by the initials T.M. had lied to prosecutors. The story flatly said that McAuliffe was the “T.M.” in question. One hour and 38 minutes later, the AP retracted the story, saying they had no evidence that McAuliffe was the person involved.
“The indictment did not identify McAuliffe as the ‘T.M.’ who allegedly lied to prosecutors,” the retraction said. Other outlets’ reporting notes that McAuliffe’s name had indeed come up, but only as one of dozens of investors with the Rhode Island estate planner at the center of the case.
Thus far, there has been little follow-up reporting on how AP allowed this story to ‘hit the wire’ — and AP needs to be 100% transparent about the reporting and editing chain of command.
While it’s hardly an earth-shattering prediction, it’s still news: Charlie Cook told a National Journal member briefing this morning that while Democrats will use the Texas Governor’s race as a party building exercise, Wendy Davis is “going to lose; she has no chance of winning.”
There’s no question about it, Texas Democrat Wendy Davis is a political star with a compelling, uplifting personal story: From trailer park to Harvard Law School is emblematic of the American Dream, and you can’t take that away from her.
But can she win the Texas Governor’s race against Greg Abbott? Not gonna happen.
If this were ten or fifteen years from now, this would likely be a toss-up race due to powerful demographic changes taking place, all of which are well documented and not just the wishful thinking of progressives.
While her now famous filibuster to protect abortion rights is what she’s known for, the fact she is facing an opponent with $20 million while she has $1 million will undermine her ability to shift the topic of discussion to education and health care — her desired issues terrain.
While campaigns are, of course, unpredictable, her vote share tops out at about 45 to 46% — even under the best of circumstances.
While Texas Senator Ted Cruz is plunging the nation and the Republican Party into an ultra-risky, ill-considered government shutdown — with no apparent longer term strategy — he deserves credit for engaging the so-called mainstream media with face to face interviews.
Cruz’s interview yesterday with David Gregory on Meet the Press was an unqualified success, as was his interview with Wolf Blitzer of CNN. His media blitz with the establishment media continues this week, and he’s proven quite comfortable in every format, with every interviewer. He’s calm, deliberative, clear and concise.
This is a significant change from watching most rank and file Congressional Republicans hide out solely on Fox News. Ted Cruz gets the highest marks not just for his chutzpah, but for taking his absolutist message to every corner of the media marketplace to help inform the public debate.
He may be wrong, and he may be sending the GOP into the proverbial ditch, but he’s incredibly articulate.
Newt Gingrich, Vin Weber, Bob Walker and Conservative Opportunity Society (COS) members used House ‘special orders’ and a captive C-Span camera in the 1980′s to frustrate and ultimately take down House Speaker Jim Wright — and now Ted Cruz figured out a way to use the Senate chamber in a similar manner with C-Span2.
The idea? Simply conduct a faux filibuster in the Senate chamber and command live coverage on C-Span2 while the cable nets follow the action via split screen. Forget about the facts; forget about the reality the GOP doesn’t control the White House or the Senate; forget that ‘defunding’ Obamacare in the manner he sought is impossible.
Grandstanding in Washington? Ted Cruz took it to a new level, using a new method, and it worked from the standpoint of achieving his simple objective: getting big time attention. Harry Reid better figure out a procedural maneuver to prevent future hijackings of C-Span2, or the fake filibuster will be emulated.
With so much special interest money in Washington being thrown into issues advocacy efforts to help convince federal lawmakers to support a specific legislative priority or action, a key consideration is what percentage of the total paid media budget will be spent locally, versus inside the Beltway.
The ideal mix in terms of resource allocation is approximately 80-85% local versus 15-20% inside the Beltway. Why? Because unless lawmakers and their staff perceive local sentiment is with your issue, progress for your cause will, in effect, be a lost cause.
This seems obvious. But there are still DC-based associations and special interests who believe that simply arming Hill staff with ‘facts’ and context will swing an issue your way. This is helpful, but based on the false assumption that staff will drive a member to vote one way or another based solely on what constitutes ‘good policy’.
Unless an advocacy effort has the capacity to make local voters aware of a threat, it simply will not be a real factor in achieving a business objective. Period. Bottom line: educating staff is important, but ensuring actual constituents pay attention, and engage you, is the only way to succeed.