Among “disruptive Republicans”: blogging from Red State, day 1

How do “pro-life” and “conservative” fit together? They’re not quite synonymous. Here at Red State Gathering 2013, I am definitely in a conservative group. We’re hearing from some elected officials (Ted Cruz, Tim Scott, Bobby Jindal), as well as from some challengers who hope to take out less-conservative Republicans in upcoming elections. I came here to New Orleans to hear for myself where the right to life figures into these speeches. So far, it doesn’t. Fair enough; this isn’t a pro-life convention. It’s interesting nonetheless to note what these folks choose to talk about.

(Do any of my readers wonder why I haven’t spent time lately at gatherings of Democrats? Simple: if there’s any division among Democrats over Roe, abortion funding, and abortion regulation, I haven’t seen it.)

Before I ask a candidate anything, I like to listen to his or her stump speech. What does he mention without prompting? What’s left out? That’s as enlightening as anything that comes out in Q & A. Today, among eleven speakers, two themes shared top emphasis: how to get rid of Obamacare, and how to control an overreaching IRS. Good speakers, polished deliveries – and no one mentioned abortion, the HHS mandate, or wars on women. Well, one exception – the chaplain who said the opening prayer was blunt about calling to account all religious leaders who have been silent about abortion out of fear of losing tax-exempt status.

Fine, as far as that goes. As I said, this isn’t a pro-life convention. Still, I wonder how many of these “disruptive Republicans” (in the phrase of Red State’s organizer, Erick Erickson) are prepared to address these matters effectively once Dems go on the attack. Obamacare, IRS abuses, and immigration reform are flashy right now, and every candidate seems to have a position paper ready on those topics. The right to life? Not so much.

A few observations from the day:

  • Senator Ted Cruz was the star of the show, if the size of the press contingent that followed him around is any indication. Cruz was an underdog when he ran for Senate, and he likes to talk about that by way of encouraging fellow conservatives to stick to their guns, figuratively speaking. He wants to de-fund Obamacare, but he acknowledged bluntly that the votes aren’t there in the Senate to make that happen. Not yet, anyway. He exhorted the grassroots to put pressure on Senators.
  • Matt Bevin wants to take on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky. Tall order, and he knows it. He wants no more debt ceiling increases (a popular stand here) and no amnesty for immigrants arriving illegally (ditto). He mentioned he was brought up in northern New Hampshire, but I didn’t get a chance to ask him in which town.
  • Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina was asked how he, an African-American, got so many votes from white voters: “I said please.”
  • Obamacare was rhetorically slapped around for eight solid hours today. I’m OK with that. The First Amendment violation inherent in the law is reason enough to ditch it, but I will gladly work alongside anyone who wants to repeal it for any reason.
  • There was exactly one mention of a re-definition of marriage. Candidate Larry Rhoden, who wants to be elected to the U.S. Senate from South Dakota, called re-definition “unacceptable.” One sentence, and then on to the next topic.
  • Two of the most impassioned speakers were people who aren’t running for anything. Jenny Beth Martin of Tea Party Patriots and Kevin Kookogey of Linchpins of Liberty had personal stories about IRS treatment of their respective groups. Scary stuff.
  • Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana was the day’s closing speaker, talking about educational choice. He has irritated some activists with his support for Common Core. When he was questioned sharply about that during Q & A, he stood firm. Rightly or wrongly, he thinks Common Core is fine as long as it’s accepted by a local school board and not imposed from Washington. (Not going there …) In his capacity as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, he made a good pitch for Virginia candidate Ken Cuccinelli.

The conference continues for one more day. I’ll post afterward, and I’ll tweet @leaven4theloaf during the day.



Sen. Shaheen to be “special guest” at fundraiser with late-term-abortion advocate


U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)

From the Huffington Post: Texas state senator Wendy Davis, who will go down in history as the abortion absolutist who filibustered a Texas bill (which passed anyway) limiting post-20-week abortions, is coming to Washington, D.C. next week for a pair of fundraising events. HuffPost lists eight U.S. senators as special guests, including New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen.

Shaheen is up for re-election in 2014.

No one is forcing Shaheen to attend. She is presumably accepting the invitation because she wants to help Davis, who may or may not be running for a higher office. Davis has reportedly received over $1 million in donations already since her filibuster.

I’ve written before about the two principal provisions of the Texas bill. Shaheen is supporting a woman who opposes making sure women are as safe in an abortion facility as they would be in any other ambulatory-care center. She is also supporting a woman who has no apparent problem with induced abortion of 21-week (or 31-week, or 39-week) human fetuses.

So will this be an issue when Shaheen is challenged next year, or will it be a “distraction”? Potential GOP challengers should chew on that one for awhile.

White flag, anyone?

A potential Republican candidate for Jeanne Shaheen’s U.S. Senate seat in 2014 said this week that there should be a “truce” on social issues in the campaign.

No editorial comments from me on this, yet.  I’ll have plenty to say in months to come about parties and policies and strategies in 2014. For now, what do YOU think when you hear the words “truce on social issues”?


“Planned Bullyhood” author running for U.S. Senate

Karen Handel, candidate for U.S. Senate from Georgia
Karen Handel, candidate for U.S. Senate from Georgia

Interesting news from Georgia: Karen Handel is running for U.S. Senate. Handel was once an executive with the Susan G. Komen Foundation. I wrote on the blog last year about how big-time pressure from Planned Parenthood led to Komen reversing a decision that would have discontinued Foundation grants to PP. Handel was thrown under the figurative bus as part of Komen’s effort to pacify PP.

Basic book alert! If you haven’t read Planned Bullyhood, Handel’s account of the whole sorry PP/Komen chain of events, I recommend it. Anyone concerned with women’s health and public policy ought to hear from Handel. (The book was published in 2012 by Howard Books; ISBN 978-1451697940.)

So – what Senate race do you think the abortion-advocacy PACs & 527s will target most heavily next year? Until today, I would have thought protecting Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s seat would be their #1 concern. Not anymore.