The Political Report – October 11, 2023

“Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s pivot Monday to an independent run for president met immediate resistance from Republican leaders, who have concluded that his new effort threatens to cannibalize their vote share next year, helping to reelect President Biden,” the Washington Post reports.

“The attacks came as Democrats remained largely silent on Kennedy’s shift, reflecting a relative optimism among the party’s top strategists that Kennedy poses little threat to Biden as an independent candidate. Kennedy’s polling in the Democratic nomination fight had fallen in recent months, and current national polling shows higher approval ratings for Kennedy among Republican voters than Democratic voters.”

“Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is poised to be the most formidable independent presidential candidate in more than two decades,” Politico reports.

“And already, operatives in both parties are moving to head off the impact.”

“A combination of his famous name and widespread voter dissatisfaction with both likely major party nominees puts him in position to earn the largest share of the vote for an independent candidate since Ross Perot drew nearly 19 percent in the 1992 election.”

CNN: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announces independent run for president, ending Democratic primary challenge to Biden.

The RNC on Monday sent out a list of reasons to vote against presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as he prepares to make a “major announcement,” The Messenger reports.

Politico: “Kennedy’s support so far is coming roughly evenly from Biden and former President Donald Trump. But third-party candidacies can be unpredictable, and Kennedy’s anti-vaccination stance gives him more room to draw from Republicans than Democrats.”

Former Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) suspended his presidential campaign and endorsed Nikki Haley, CNN reports.

Said Hurd: “Ambassador Haley has shown a willingness to articulate a different vision for the country than Donald Trump and has an unmatched grasp on the complexities of our foreign policy.”

“Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, has ramped up her fund-raising in recent months, a sign that her performance in the early presidential debates may have invigorated her 2024 candidacy,” the New York Times reports.

“Ms. Haley, who, according to her campaign, has raised $11 million across her political committees, entered October with significantly more cash on hand that can be spent on the 2024 primary than Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida — $9.1 million to roughly his $5 million — even as he out-raised her overall.”

“But both Ms. Haley and Mr. DeSantis’s fund-raising figures were dwarfed by the man they are chasing in the polls: Former President Donald J. Trump announced in recent days that he had raised $45.5 million in the quarter and had $36 million on hand that is eligible to be spent on the primary.”

“Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and former House Speaker Paul Ryan — the GOP presidential ticket in 2012 — have drawn four current presidential candidates to their two-day, closed-door summit beginning Tuesday in Park City, Utah,” Axios reports.

“Most of the conversation at the 11-year-old E2 Summit will be about foreign policy, tech and finance/business. But this is a powerful gathering of well-heeled, well-wired Republicans who would love to find — and fund — an alternative to former President Trump.”

Washington Post: “Nikki Haley, Chris Christie, Mike Pence and Doug Burgum will all address those potential backers in closed-door sessions at the policy gathering known as the E2 Summit, which was launched by Romney before he became a U.S. senator from Utah and then helmed by Ryan, the former House Speaker, beginning in 2019.”

Washington Post: “Long regarded by many as an afterthought in the Republican race, Haley is gaining some steam in New Hampshire, leapfrogging Ron DeSantis into a still-distant second behind Trump in some recent polls, as the struggling Florida governor puts the bulk of his time and resources into Iowa’s first-in-the-nation GOP caucus. Boosted by well-received debate performances, slow-but-steady campaigning and a new surge of spending, Haley is trying to seize a narrow opening in a pivotal state. Her pitch has piqued growing interest from moderate voters such as Weir, even as Haley has embraced more polarizing positions on some issues.”

“At the same time, Trump — facing 91 criminal charges stemming from four indictments and campaigning on promises of ‘retribution’— has built a dominant advantage across early nominating states including New Hampshire, where he triumphed in 2016 and is an imposing challenge for Haley and everyone else in the field.”

Politico: “Newsom came into his decision with narrowed options after backing himself into a corner. He pledged to pick a Black woman. He refused to wade into the 2024 race to succeed Feinstein. He agreed to choose only an interim senator.”

“In once again navigating out of a vise of his own making, Newsom ended up doing something larger: articulating his vision of generational change in a state he touts as a beacon for progressive governance and a bulwark against the rightward march of red states and the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Washington Post: “Such confusion has been roiling Republicans in public and private in recent months, as the party scrambles to unify on an issue that became a major obstacle for GOP candidates in last year’s midterm elections. Democrats spent massively on abortion ads in 2022 contests, aiming to capitalize on a nine percentage point increase in the share of Americans who think abortion should ‘generally be legal’ since the Supreme Court’s decision last year overturning the constitutional right to the procedure.”

“The party’s presidential candidates remain divided over whether to support a specific federal limit on abortion, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis surprising everyone at the second GOP presidential debate by breaking with Trump and endorsing a national 15-week ban.”

“The political chaos surrounding the vacant Speakership in the House threatens to upend Republican efforts to hold onto their slim majority in next year’s elections,” The Hill reports.

“The air of havoc surrounding the GOP’s ouster of McCarthy at a time when a critical US ally is at war could reverberate through some of the most competitive districts next year, such as in New York.”

Evan Coren: Current options for House Speaker will cost Republicans House seats.

“Democratic donors are going big on stopping Gov. Glenn Youngkin from taking control of the Virginia legislature,” Politico reports.

“The States Project is investing more than $4.5 million in next month’s Virginia legislative races, building on its successful investment to flip several statehouses in 2022.”

Just a year before the 2022 midterm elections, Rep. Kevin McCarthy predicted Republicans could flip as many 70 House seats in the midterms. McCarthy boldly predicted: “If you’re a Democrat, and President Biden won your seat by 16 points, you’re in a competitive race next year. You are no longer safe.”

His optimism was rooted in historical precedent. The incumbent president’s party typically loses about two dozen seats in the midterm elections. And McCarthy was confident that high inflation could make it an historic red wave.

But six months later, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and abortion rights became the dominant issue in American politics. Many Republicans blame the deal McCarthy made with right wing lawmakers to become speaker for his ouster last week. Others blame his deal with Democrats to lift the debt ceiling.

But it was his own candidates’ underperformance in the 2022 midterms that was the root cause of his undoing. If just some of the gains McCarthy predicted had come to fruition, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and his seven allies would have been powerless in their push to overthrow McCarthy. Instead, due in large part to the extreme Republican position on abortion rights, the red wave never materialized.

McCarthy’s fate is a reminder that the abortion issue continues to erode the GOP’s power.

CNN: “Donald Trump’s enduring popularity in Iowa and across the early Republican presidential nominating map has forced much of the field to aggressively turn their attention to the state in hopes of stopping his march toward the nomination.”

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in particular has approached the state as a must-win, but others increasingly view it as a last stand to demonstrate that a viable alternative to Trump can emerge before it’s too late.”

“Powerful allies of President Biden are aggressively working to stop third-party and independent presidential candidacies, fearing that an outside bid could cost Democrats an election that many believe will again come down to a few percentage points in key battleground states,” the New York Times reports.

“The broad Democratic unease is rooted in a core belief that Mr. Trump has both a high ceiling and a low floor of general-election support — meaning that his voters are less likely to be swayed by a third-party or independent candidate. Mr. Biden has wider appeal, but his supporters are not as loyal.”

Bloomberg: “More than 20 Democrats in Congress sent fundraising emails following Tuesday’s vote to remove McCarthy as speaker… President Joe Biden joined in, sending a campaign email that tied McCarthy’s removal to leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.”

Donald Trump posted photos to make the point that Gov. Ron DeSantis wears heels.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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