Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 9, 2016

The Most Important Election of 2014

McConnell has two tough races in 2014 — a primary and a general election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McConnell has two tough races in 2014: a primary and the general election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

So now we know.

The single most important election in the country next year won’t take place in Louisiana, Arkansas, North Carolina or Alaska. And it won’t occur next November, when voters across the country pick the next Congress. It will take place in Kentucky on May 20.

While the general election in the commonwealth — and in other states — could decide which party controls the Senate for President Barack Obama’s final two years in office, the GOP primary will go a long way in determining whether the Republican Party continues its evolution toward uncompromising utopian purity and, eventually, possible irrelevance.

I’m not yet certain whether Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who will be the eventual Democratic Senate nominee in the Bluegrass State, would have a better shot of defeating Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell or his challenger, businessman Matt Bevin. I can make an argument either way. Remember, this is a state that elected Rand Paul to the Senate rather easily over a very formidable Democrat, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway.

I do know that a Bevin victory would send another round of shock waves through the GOP, undermining pragmatic conservatives and producing another round of hand-wringing among party strategists whose job it is to try to win majorities in the House and Senate — and the presidency.

McConnell’s decision to broker a deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling drew plenty of praise from members of the political establishment, who believed that a default would be catastrophic for the nation and would only add to the substantial damage that the Republican Party absorbed during the shutdown.

In the minds of many, McConnell had no alternative. Congress’ inability to raise the debt ceiling simply was too risky, so Kentucky’s senior senator did what leaders are expected to do: put their own political future at risk to save the nation.

It’s easy to vote against raising the debt ceiling, especially when your vote doesn’t matter. It’s easy to rant about how “our children” are being buried in debt. Just ask Obama. I’m sure McConnell wasn’t hoping that the buck would stop with him, but it did. And he acted like one of the few adults in the room.

But the folks at Heritage Action for America, the Senate Conservatives Fund, the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and the Madison Project don’t see things that way.

The Club for Growth urged a “no” vote on the compromise and promised to include the vote in its 2013 scorecard. When the deal was first announced, Drew Ryun, the political director of the Madison Project and the son of former Kansas Rep. Jim Ryun, declared, “Today’s deal shows once again that the Senate Leadership, led by Mitch McConnell, knows nothing but capitulation.”

Capitulation, huh? That’s awfully tough talk from someone who runs an interest group, has no responsibility for the state of the American economy, and apparently doesn’t understand the difference between a suicide attack and an orderly retreat to live to fight another day.

McConnell’s defeat — or the defeat of other pragmatic conservative Republicans whose seats are up next year, including Sens. Pat Roberts of Kansas, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Thad Cochran of Mississippi (if he decides to seek another term) — would embolden additional tea party/libertarian challenges in 2016, further tearing the GOP apart.

Those in the “no compromise” caucus will respond that they are only trying to elect the most conservative candidates in the reddest of states. They understand, they say, that a true “constitutional conservative” can’t win in reliably Democratic states, so they didn’t look for primary challengers to Sen. Susan Collins of Maine or, last time around, Scott P. Brown of Massachusetts.

What they don’t seem to understand is that the increasing clout of people such as Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah make it more difficult for Republicans like Sens. Mark S. Kirk of Illinois, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and even Rob Portman of Ohio, to hold their seats in competitive or Democratic-leaning states.

In 2012, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee successfully demonized moderate House Republican candidates such as Connecticut’s Andrew Roraback and Massachusetts’ Richard Tisei by running against Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and tea party influence in the GOP. So a party’s national brand can really matter.

Pragmatic conservatives will almost certainly rally to the defense of McConnell, Graham and others. But they must try to find a way to do so that doesn’t play into the hand of Heritage Action and its allies, who are just itching to run against “the establishment” and its efforts “to hold onto power.”

That won’t be easy to do. And, in fact, it may be impossible.

Given the anger at the grass roots, the Republican civil war may simply have to play itself out. A divided GOP may find a disappointing 2014 and a disastrous 2016 the only medicine available to break its current fever.

  • Mojojojo

    McConnell “put [his] own political future at risk to save the nation”, my @$$. He just realized Grimes was beating him more than Bevin was, so he fled center.

    And by the way, if you think saying “In the minds of many” makes the ensuing McConnell brown-nosing not count as biased, you are the only one you’re fooling.

    • MVH1

      Well, he’s fooling me as well, so make that two.

      • grumpy_old__man

        Now it’s three.

        • hepette

          i am voting against every repuke/bagger that i can. every single election.

          • MVH1

            Now that’s a club I belong to as well.

          • TxPatriotGal

            LOL! So the GOP is supposed to be concerned because someone who has likely never voted for them in their life is threatening not to do so now? Give me a break.

    • tpartynitwit

      Wishing for default is a sure sign of epic stupidity.

      • bishop24230

        If the debt ceiling had not been raised and default occurred it would have been by choice. Each month the federal government takes in a little over $300 billion. That is more than enough to pay the interest on the debt, send out social security checks, and pay the military. When Obama warns that social security checks may not go out what he is really saying is “We may choose not to send them out.” The money would still be there.

        • tpartynitwit

          Oh really? Then why didn’t Teduious Ted Cruz filibuster the deal? I thought he was going to do everything in his power?

          • bishop24230

            He made his point and moved on. He did vote against the deal. But, my point is correct and nothing you said changes the facts. Each month the US government takes in enough money to pay the interest on the debt, send out social security checks, and pay the military. If we had defaulted it would have been because Obama chose to default to make his point.

          • tpartynitwit

            He said he’d do anything in his power to “stop the train wreck that is Obamacare,” and he didn’t. He could have filibustered the final vote and prevented a deal, and he pussied out. He’s a liar and a loser. $24 BILLION lost for NOTHING in return because of that weirdo. You say there was no danger of default, then Theodore had EVERY reason to “save us” from the Zyklon B sandwich wrapped in Mao and Munich that IS Obamacare, or so he’d have you believe. Why does he love socialism so much? Why is he such a liar? Doesn’t he oppose the Obamacaust?

          • bishop24230

            Nothing in your reply disputes the facts I raised. A default would have been by choice not necessity.

        • Pragmatic Conservative

          Perhaps, but in case you didn’t notice, Ted Cruz and company were taking all the blame and Obama wasn’t. Intelligent people understood from the start, that the Obama would be let off the hook despite his refusal to negotiate over the budget or debt ceiling, and therefore there was no way for real conservatives to win the battle that Cruz/Lee etc. started. But Tea Partiers don’t care about winning, they just want to be able to claim ideological purity so they can sit around and pat themselves on the back about what a great job the “tantrum caucus” is doing making it impossible for Republicans to win in 2014.
          McConnell did exactly what he had to do to protect the country from the mess caused by Cruz/Lee. Those two did nothing but look out for themselves and their cult followers. Which one sounds like a leader to you?

          • bishop24230

            Given a choice of voting for Cruz/Lee or McConnell I would vote for Cruz/Lee everyday of the week. I notified my congressman, Patrick McHenry that I would not vote for him again because he voted in favor of the deal that passed.

      • Fred234

        Thinking we will default is epic stupidity. The money has to be prioritized, debt comes first.

        • tpartynitwit

          Then why didn’t Tedious Ted filibuster the final deal, hmmmmmmmmmmmmm?

    • Raphael Semmes

      McConnell got the corrupt $2 Billion ”Kentucky Kickback”, a bribe from Harry Reid, for selling out Obamacare victims and caving in on funding Obamacare.

      • chrismalllory

        You do realize that the Olmstead Dam is named after a city in Illinois? You do realize that managing the rivers is one of the few Constitutional duties of the Federal government?

  • malikknows

    Tough talk from someone who does nothing but run his own mouth. So, Rothenberg reveals himself as an establishment stooge. Good to know. The problem the Republicans have is they’ve lost on all the major issues and now folks like me simply have no reason to vote for them. They’ve compromised themselves to oblivion.

  • Yorkiemom

    Not to worry, the Republicans will go belly up and lose it all in 2014 and the Dems will, of course, sweep the board with cheating, voter fraud, dead voting again and again, people bragging they voted seven times for the democrat, etc., etc., etc. with ABSOLUTELY NO pushback by the Republicans/ John Boehner can go crying in his beer and will go ahead and be elected again and good old Mitch will come back as the ever ineffective leader of the Republicans. With those two at the helm, how can we lose?? Ha!

  • acidulous

    Notice how the Bolshevik ROTHENBERG thinks Republicans are fighting for “utopian purity” but the scumbag in the WH is just what Stuey? A pragmatist? You mean that “fundamental transformation” thing doesn’t qualify? The utopian (more like dystopian) is the scumbag who is fighting for MARXIST purity. We TEA BAGGERS (that’s right, I EMBRACE the name if only to spit in the stupid faces of those who think it’s a good weapon of offense – yeah right) want CONSTITUTIONAL PURITY. You know. JUST LIKE THE FOUNDING FATHERS. THE UTOPIANS ARE THE PROGRESSIVES (or whatever disguise they will be calling themselves tomorrow). Hey STU – were you a RED DIAPER BABY TOO? I think the name ROTHENBERG is a clue.

    • Jeffrey Coley

      By George I think you’ve got it!

      Extreme radical leftist = moderate
      Quisling Republican sellout = pragmatist
      Belief in liberty and justice for all = Right wing tea-bagger hate-filled bigot

  • Jeffrey Coley

    Can somebody explain to me why Republicans should continue to vote for candidates who refuse to represent us?

    I’ll remind everybody that the centrist democratic party was soundly shellacked for years until it’s angry left-wing base forced it to tack hard left under the leadership of Howard Dean, and it chose as its candidate a extreme far-left radical named Barack Obama. It fired up the base and got the ideologues to the polls in droves.

    Meanwhile, the Republican party abandoned its ideological base and moved to the center under the two Bush presidencies. It lost the base, and destroyed the coalition that was the key to winning elections. Romney beat Obama in moderates and independents, but Obama’s leftist base turned out while the conservative base stayed home. Obama won.

    • bigovernmentsocialconservative

      “Obama’s leftist base turned out while the conservative base stayed home.”

      Aww, “we” are the majority but “we” didn’t show up to vote, so that Obama guy won. LOL. Cute.

      • Jeffrey Coley

        That’s not what I said.

        I simply observed that the candidate who gets the most votes wins. The Republicans tried very hard to make sure they did not appeal to their most ardent supporters, for the sake of not offending democrats who wouldn’t vote for them. Obama and the democrats had no such fear, and they turned out more voters.

        • Pragmatic Conservative

          Did you actually pay any attention to the 2008 elections, or were you so busy being angry at all of Bush’s mistakes that it just slipped past you? Howard Dean indeed played to the extreme left of the Democrat party, and he LOST. He was overtaken by a leftist ideologue (Obama) who had the sense to play to the middle (remember his “post-partisan” talk?). Neither side ever wins an election by playing to their base. If they don’t capture the centrists/independents, they will always lose. The difference recently has been that the left wingers vote for Obama whether or not he actually delivers for them or not (after all, they wanted single payer healthcare and cap and trade on emissions), while the Tea Party sits at home and refuses to vote for anyone that isn’t “pure” enough, thereby handing elections to the Democrats.
          Take a look at the Senate elections over the last few years. You can’t name a single Tea Partier who won an election that any other GOPer wouldn’t have won. But I can name you plenty of Tea Partiers who lost easily winnable races because they alienated the middle (not to mention the center-right) by demanding an all or nothing approach to politics.

          • Jeffrey Coley

            You make a good point – candidate Barack Obama couldn’t be any more different from the man who has been serving as president the last several years. As a candidate he said all the right things, providing ample material for hilarious montages of him attacking Bush for policies he himself adopted and expanded. Think about the “unpatriotic … credit card from the bank of China in our children’s name …” line denouncing Bush’s deficits. Ha!

            Mitt Romney – a fine man who would have been an excellent president, with the business background everybody always says is needed in Washington – was so concerned with getting the middle that he lost the right. Romney beat Obama in moderates and independents.
            I can think of several “tea party” candidates who would have won their races had the GOP backed them. Instead, the establishment campaigned against them or even ran spoiler independent candidates.

            I don’t vote out of a fondness for one consonant over another. If a R is going to act like a D then I really don’t have any reason to vote for the R, now, do I?

          • Pragmatic Conservative

            I disagree with your assessment that the “establishment” ran against Tea Party candidates. I was involved in some of those campaigns (to a very minor extent), and any Tea Party candidate who looked even remotely viable got lots of support from the Party. The problem was, most of them were just that – only remotely viable. Buck in CO, Angle in NV, Akin in MO, Mourdock in IN, and O’Donnell in DE all had party backing (at least at some point) before collapsing under the weight of their own political incompetence. All of those races likely would have gone to the GOP had the “establishment” candidate won the primary.
            I also disagree with your assessment that moderates and independents went for Romney. Gallup showed Romney losing that demographic by 21 points, mainly because he veered so far to the right in the primary that he turned off everyone in the middle. The fact that radical conservatives sat out the election rather than vote for Romney just proves my point that they care more about being “pure” than in winning elections. As you noted, Romney would have been a much better president than Obama, but the Tea Party preferred having Obama in office for 4 more years than voting for someone who wasn’t their perfect choice.

            Your last sentence sums up the problem I have with the extreme right – you are so far outside the mainstream that you can no longer see the difference between even a center-right Republican and a liberal Democrat. Let me assure you the difference is there, and if you paid closer attention to the big picture, you would be able to see that.

          • Jeffrey Coley

            And your response sums up the problem the “extreme right” has with “the establishment”: The establishment demands unity and party discipline, unless they aren’t getting their way.

          • Jeffrey Coley

            Eh, maybe that’s a little unkind of me. But the GOP cannot continue to put its thumb in the eye of its most passionate constituency in order to court the center-left. Now THAT, my friend, is political suicide.

            Or maybe Dole/McCain/Romney isn’t enough to convince you.
            Seriously – Romney was too far to the RIGHT? If Mitt Romney couldn’t sell “pragmatic conservatism” then NOBODY can. I liked Mitt Romney – I sent him money. I voted for him. I think he would be an effective chief executive. But his campaign ran a prevent-defense strategy assuming Obama’s defeat was in the bag, Mitt just needed to run out the clock. Mitt’s campaign spent its time worrying about the middle. Gov. “Etch-a-Sketch” did precious little to court the right, and what little he did was with a wink and assurances to the press that he wasn’t a right-winger. He wouldn’t go after Obama except in the vaguest and most general of terms.

          • Pragmatic Conservative

            As I noted previously, “the establishment” stood behind the majority of Tea Party candidates (Akin being the one exception, but he so badly damaged himself they had to bail out), so I’m not sure how you can claim that they demand unity unless they aren’t getting their way. It’s the Tea Party that has proudly proclaimed their unwillingness to support centrist and center-right Republicans, and has not batted an eye at handing elections to liberals as a way to show their disapproval of less extreme nominees.
            It’s worth noting that in the only case in which an “establishment” Republican and a Tea Partier went head to head in a general election, the “establishment” candidate won (Murkowski vs. Miller in AK). General elections aren’t usually won be extremists.
            Pragmatic Conservative fits me just fine, and its more appealing than “conservative – but not stupid.”

          • Jeffrey Coley

            Perhaps I should allow this: I’m not saying the Republicans need to go around foaming at the mouth espousing hard-core pro-life ideologically pure libertarianism. But how about having some ideas? The “delay the mandate” is stupid – just a democrat lite position. The GOP is just fine with Obamacare – they only wish they were in charge of that gravy train. A few tweaks isn’t going to fix it.

            How about this instead: No mandates, no taxes, no fines. Market based healthcare. Establish a baseline medical insurance policy that is really insurance, not one of these extravagant pre-paid service plans offered in the exchanges. Allow insurance companies to offer the people a product they want to buy at a price they can afford.
            Put the dems in the position of telling people they can’t have what they want. Instead of jumping on the bandwagon, promising to screw the people over more slowly at a later date.

          • Pragmatic Conservative

            You couldn’t be more mistaken in your assessment of Republicans and Obamacare. There is not a single Republican in the House or Senate who has ever voted for Obamacare. They have opposed it in every reasonable way. The fact that they didn’t want to commit political suicide by blowing up the country in what was guaranteed to be a failed attempt to defund it (which incidentally, would have done nothing to prevent much of Obamacare from going forward) shows intelligence, not weakness.
            Republicans did propose numerous market-based ideas for expanding access to healthcare, but they couldn’t do anything with those ideas due to the overwhelming majorities the Democrats had in both chambers. In contract, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are offering nothing beyond “we hate Obamacare” and that is pathetically insufficient to convince the American people to go a different way.

          • Jeffrey Coley

            True enough – as long as Reid controls the Senate and Obama sits in the White House, they will only tinker with Obamacare under the most severe duress. But that doesn’t mean that the GOP needs to bend over and grab the ankles.

            In a way, this was the best of both worlds for the GOP: The “kill Obamacare” crowd got a vigorous fight, and the “leave it alone, the democrats own it, let it collapse under its own weight” ended with the result they wanted all along.

            But again, I ask you, if the House sent up a clean debt limit increase which Reid wouldn’t bring to a vote, and Obama wouldn’t sign, who is it blowing up the country and defaulting on the debt then?

            The problem was that the squishy spineless GOP was openly discussing when to fold before the shutdown even began. Obama and Reid could take the hard line knowing that the squishes in the GOP were going to undercut their own party. Which is exactly what happened. All that drama, and the GOP snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Wonderful strategy, that. No wonder they can’t win elections.

          • Pragmatic Conservative

            I disagree that there was any “victory” to be had. The whole shutdown fiasco was orchestrated by individuals who had no strategy to win, just a plan to demagogue for awhile to appease their base. Obamacare was never going to be limited or seriously changed – the votes to do that didn’t exist. So what was the point. Sure the “kill Obamacare” crowed loved it, but now they are griping about how they didn’t get their way, and the rest of America has turned against the GOP. A 25% approval rating is not a successful result.
            As for the “squishes,” I would counter that there were political savvy people who recognized that the Tea Party was trying to lead us down a no-win path. No matter what Obama did (and he was clearly at fault for refusing to negotiate at all), the public was never going to see it that way. The guy is like teflon – nothing sticks to him. So it was folly from the start to ever think he would be blamed for anything. In this case, the Tea Party instigated everything, and in so doing, cost the GOP a huge amount of political points.
            By the way, thanks for having a polite and thoughtful political discussion. My experience has been that that doesn’t happen to often with those who tend to side with the Tea Party.

          • Jeffrey Coley

            Thanks, I also enjoyed our discussion.

            You do make my point for me with the defeatist refrain: “Obama is teflon … we can’t win … the squishes who broke ranks and handed victory Obama are politically savvy …”

            We can’t win every fight, but if we don’t even try we’ll never win any.

            Fight this on every front – the best way would be to bypass it by allowing everybody to opt out. Make Obamacare as toothless as our immigration laws.

          • Reasonedpointofview

            Howard Dean didn’t even run in 2008; he ran in 2004. Just FYI. The rest of your post actually makes good sense. Dean also did not play to the “extreme left.” The extreme left is Michael Moore. Dean played to the solidly liberal base. The extreme left has no power. There are virtually no representatives of the extreme left in Congress. The Tea Party has way too much power. THAT is actually the difference today and it is why the Tea Party is very likely either to destroy the country or the Republican Party if no one is willing to go on offense against them inside the Republican Party. Which by the way is the answer to Stuart Rothenberg’s question. Mitch McConnell should be USING the shutdown AGAINST his opponent. It’s called reframing the debate. “Do you want to elect someone who is ready to destroy our economy over a single law they don’t like?” That dog will hunt in many places right now. Ted Cruz is losing popularity by the day. McConnell can’t win trying to convince everyone he is the most conservative. He can win trying to convince them he cares about the American people and knows how to get things done, unlike the Tea Party. Again, partner with the Chamber of Commerce and other reasonable republicans and go on offense. Save us all and yourselves from the Tea Party. Please.

        • chillinout.

          Conservatives came out in higher numbers in 2012 than they did in 2004. The reason they lost was because moderates went to Obama by a 16 point margin. Keep appealing to the base and keep pushing moderate voters to the left

          • Jeffrey Coley

            Candidates don’t come any more moderate than Mitt Romney. If the “moderates” preferred the proven radical leftist Obama to Romney, then they aren’t moderate at all – they are left-wingers who don’t want to admit to pollsters that they are really democrats.

            All the more reason to quit trying to win their votes, and pay attention to the people who desperately want a candidate they can support.

          • chillinout.

            Plenty of republicans are more moderate than Mitt Romney. He was more conservative on every issue than the average American. If somebody like Santorum had won, Obama would’ve beat his 2008 margin, so Romney lessened the margin of victory. Fact is, the republican party position on virtually every issue is a loser outside of the rural south and plains

          • John Say

            You make the mistake of reading his lips not has history.
            Romney did not lose because of what he said, but because voters did not beleive he meant it.
            Santorum is just another statist republican social conservative.

          • Jeffrey Coley

            John – correct. There were a lot of republicans who understood Mitt Romney’s history as Gov. of Massachusetts. I for one gave him the benefit of the doubt – he was governor of Massachusetts, with an uber-liberal legislature. And he was certainly better than the alternative.

          • John Say

            electing Romney would have assured Republicans get the blame when everything heads south.

            i am not so sure that the Republican house victory in 2010 was strategically a good deal.

            We might all be better off had Obama, Reid and Pelosi wrecked things for another 2 years.

            We could have thrown the bums out in 2012 with actually qualified replacements, and be well into a strong recovery now. Instead we have this endless stagnation. While it would be worse if the Republcans did nto control the house, that is hard to sell.

          • Jeffrey Coley

            … because the Republicans aren’t getting blamed now.

            “It can’t get any worse” and “When it gets bad enough, then the people will come around” are worst political strategies in the history of bad political strategies.

          • John Say

            It can get much worse.
            Republicans are getting blamed because they have some control.
            It is not a political strategy it is a survival strategy.
            We have tried most everything else and it has failed.
            I do not want to have to live through the mess we will have if progressives are given free reign – but contrary to the oh my god this would ruin life as we know it on the planet types, there is no disaster we can not survive and thrive.
            It is what we do in response to a disaster that causes it to be protracted – see Great Depression and Great Recession. there is no such thing as too big to fail.
            Even Keynes grasped that the problem is resistance to clearing the mess. Recovery is quick once the carnage has passed.

            Let democrats do as they please, then let them own it.

          • Jeffrey Coley

            The progressives had full control from 2008-2010. They nationalized healthcare and 2/3’s of the auto industry, racked up more debt than all their predecessors combined, lost wars that were already won, and started new ones. More people on food stamps and assistance than ever before, and it’s so bad a name was coined for it -“the new normal”.

            How much worse will it have to get until everybody starts voting Republican?

          • John Say

            It would need to get alot worse.
            Nor is it simply enough to vote republican.
            Bush had a hand in some of that. Innumerable other republicans differ from democrats only in the flavor of big government they want.

            Republicans have to get themselves off the big government drug and people have to grasp that government control leads to failure.

          • Jeffrey Coley

            Here’s the fact, man: It won’t ever be “bad enough”. Unless people are actually starving and freezing to death there is no amount of government waste and incompetence that will provoke them to revolt. As long as they have food in their bellies and a warm place to live there is no bottom.
            Wake up.

          • John Say

            The mood of the nation has been shifting libertarian.

            Though the Tea Party is not strictly libertarian, they are a revolt.
            They reflect a various serious change within the GOP.
            When middle aged people protest the nation had batter take it seriously.
            House republicans pushed this despite opposition from business. We are watching the first significant limited government movement since the revolution. This may not reflect a majority of the country, but it does reflect a significant minority.
            There are more people in this country today that identify with the Tea Party than self identify as progressive.

          • Jeffrey Coley

            Now on that I’ll agree with you. The libertarian tilt of the tea party reviving the GOP’s interest in limited government is a very good development.

            There has not been a coherent Republican leader since Reagan (except possibly Gingrich) who could explain WHY limited government is good.

            Too many republicans think “low taxes” is the whole story. Without the limited government context and an explanation of the benefits of personal liberty and free enterprise capitalism low-taxes is just an empty slogan.

          • chillinout.

            What did voters not believe him on?

          • John Say

            Pretty much everything.

            Romney was a statist. He was a big government republican. He was Obama-Lite.

            I am sure he is a good person, just as the president is. But both are wrong. and the wrong person for the job.
            Romney might have been less bad than Obama, but that is not a ringing endorsement.
            I voted against him. We are facing a mess, and until we have people actually working to fix it, there is no good reason to see republicans get blamed for the next mess.

          • Jeffrey Coley

            There were a LOT of people who discounted Romney as a typical Northeastern RINO. They didn’t believe he would get rid of Obamacare, and beyond that he wasn’t very specific which was reason for doubt in itself.

          • chillinout.

            That’s funny, one year ago conservatives were fired up to vote for Romney and defeat Obama. Then after they voted, and Romney lost because of his massive loss of moderates, all of sudden he “wasn’t conservative enough”.

          • Jeffrey Coley

            … and the beltway republican “moderate” positions are losers everywhere outside of the Northeast. And it doesn’t even do well there.

          • chillinout.

            They’re winners in general elections, just losers in tea party primaries, and then in the end tea party candidates lose to democrats in red states

          • Jeffrey Coley

            So I take it Chris Christie has your vote in the 2014 primaries?

          • chillinout.

            And what primary might he be running for in 2014??

          • WISFAR

            Like Ted Cruz….like Mike Lee….like Rand Paul?

          • chillinout.

            All from extremely conservative states, and all three senators received less votes than Romney

          • WISFAR

            Just where are you getting those BS numbers? Media Matters? Huff Post? Obama lost the independent/moderate vote in 8 of the 9 swing states. The only one he beat Romney in was NC and Romney won that state by 4 points…the only swing state he won. So, its pretty clear…the moderate vote was not a factor. It wasn’t the moderate vote that cost Romney the election, it was the lack of base conservative turnout.

            Sounds to me like your definition of “moderate” was derived from some left-wing propaganda outlet.

          • Jeffrey Coley

            Elections outcomes are the result of many factors: One that is not discussed often is how much of the “religious right” stayed home rather than vote for a Mormon. That percentage was probably significant and may have been decisive.

          • chillinout.

            Once again, evangelicals came out in higher numbers in 2012 than they did in 2004. The only area where voter turnout was less, was in the northeast.

          • John Say

            This has been hashed out by people that actually know.
            it is so old I have forgotten most of it.
            Republican turnout was DOWN, not quite enough to flip the election, but close. Moderate turnout was down.
            2012 was about voter suppression. Obama won most of the swing states, because he had a dependable core of hard core voters, and a machine that insured he voted and the relentless negative adds kept everyone else from voting. Millions of conservatives and moderates stayed home.
            If Romney had does as well with Republicans and moderates as McCain he would likely have won.

            2014 is likely to be comparable to 2010.
            Democrats and Obama voters just do not come out for these elections. Obama’s political machine is formidable, but in much of the country the democratic machine is not. Further democrats pay for their staff Republicans use far more volunteers. A democratic campaign is more expensive than a republican one.
            Various local issues will still have significant effect, but the debate over the voter model that ran toward the end of 2012 will come into play again. Only in 2014 the likely model will be far redder than blue.

            Personally I do not care much about the GOP. I am more interested in how libertarian and tea party leaning candidates do.

            I was very encouraged that in the midst of the shutdown Lonegan did far far better than predicted against Booker. Democrats should seriously question how a tea party candidate could get within striking range of a very popular democratic up and comer in a deep blue state.

            I do not care if republicans lose the house and senate. I care that Tea Party and libertarian numbers grow – they doubled in 2012.

          • WISFAR

            Provide link

          • chillinout.

            Independents and moderates aren’t the same thing, so maybe educating yourself would be a good idea. Romney won NC by 2 points, not 4. But by all means keep pushing the republican party further to the right, I mean your tea party darling Paul Broun is only down 5 points against the democratic candidate in Georgia, so when you lose Georgia, I guess we’ll blame it on Georgia’s imaginary liberal tilt

          • WISFAR

            Dying to see your explanation of the difference between independent and moderate. You don’t have one because there really isn’t any. They both refer to those of “non-affiliation” when it comes to voting trends and both could have been either Dem or Rebub previously. SO…suggest you engage in a little education yourself.

            Actually Romney won NC by 2.3%, but what the HLL difference does that make? You’re missing the point of the discussion…the clear rejection of the notion that Obama won the independents/moderates. He didn’t.

            Right….the Dem is gonna win GA. That’s hilarious. I recall similar drivel by the left when Cruz was running. You better cite a more realistic contest there Chilli

  • Jeffrey Coley

    So, if the House sends up a “clean” debt ceiling increase that Reid won’t vote on and Obama won’t sign, then it’s the House’s fault that we defaulted?
    Stupid republican’ts like McConnell just don’t know how to play hardball and win.

    • Sharon Tomalavage

      Exactly right. They play into the hands of jokers like Reid and this columnist Rothenberg as he fails to mention the petulant nature of Obama and the disastrous roll out of Obamacare. A president who is thinking of the country and not his own image in the mirror, would have said “yes, delay, delay delay until we get it right”. But no, ever the child Obama and his equally spoiled brat Harry Reid, refused to negotiate. Shame on the spineless republicans who could have, but didn’t, get behind Cruz to push this community organizer to the wall-and believe me they could have as while Obama doesn’t have to worry about re-election, he certainly worries about his Status in History.

      • Jeffrey Coley

        The left always tells you who they fear by who they attack.

        They attack Ted Cruz for obvious reasons. But they still attack Sarah Palin … the half-term former governor and failed VP candidate. Why?
        Answer: Because both Cruz and Palin play to win, and they have the “killer instinct”. They aren’t afraid to go for blood, unlike the “establishment” GOP that worries about making nice with the dems so they can dip their beaks too.

        • tbart

          Oh, do bring it with Palin’s :Killer Instinct…” That should work so well for you biggies….


        • tinkerblue

          Really, Palin “plays to win”? Oh, that must be why she was re elected governor…oh wait…didn’t she QUIT? Cruz plays to get names for a donor list. Conservatives don’t know what “play to win” means.

          • WISFAR

            Cruz has a 75% approval rate in TX. Newsflash: He is a senator from TX. Sounds to me like has a fairly good idea how to “play to win!”

        • bleedingheart67

          Question: Why does “the left” attack Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin?

          Real Answer: Because both are brainless, rigid ideologues too blinded by their own persecution complexes to know the first thing about being a leader.

          And it’s not just “the left” that attacks them – it’s everyone on the ideological spectrum between about Bernie Sanders and Mitch McConnell.

          • Fred234

            I suggest you read what Dershowitz has to say about Ted Cruz when he was a student of his.

          • WISFAR

            Spoken by a member of the same party as Boxer, Pelosi, Jackson-Lee, Grayson, De Lauro and pretty much the rest of the Dem caucus. NICE!! All true models of intellectual superiority!!

        • WISFAR

          So true. Its truly the Alinsky model that the Dems and their corrupt comrades in the media have implemented.

  • Detroit

    So, according to the author of this article, a “pragmatic conservative” is just an establishment moderate or, perhaps, even a lib.

  • Roger Cain

    John Kennedy and Bill Clinton would be considered moderate Republicans by today’s all left standards. Remember “the era of big government is over”. There has been a continual slide towards full on statism. Every “compromise” moves us one step closer to fiscal suicide. Name the “compromise” that has been offered by the left to reduce the size of government. Raising taxes does not reduce it; just feeds it. There are some of us who honestly and sincerely believer that our country is headed toward financial ruin. For us, McConnell, McCain, Graham et. al. are not trying to shrink the power and scope of the government. They do not represent us. We will, therefore, try to replace them. You can say it one thousand times but it does not make it factually accurate. Failing to raise the debt ceiling does not mean default. It means that the feds would have to prioritize; just like every person and business does on a daily basis.

    • Stephen Hellier

      It does mean default, because we have already made commitments. It is like with your personal bills. If you don’t have any money, the services you procured still mean you have to pay. You can try to sort out the future, but the short term you still default. You cannot meet your short term financial obligations. For us normal people, that bankruptcy.
      I agree government should be more efficient, but the world is steadily moving left, not just the United States, but globally. I am an American but live in London. I vote republican, but I see a way in European conservative parties for there to be a substantial majority with conservative fiscal policies and moderate to left social policies. That is the future! People will not vote for conservative politicians anywhere if half of what they say is criticising the moral choices of the population.
      Moderate Social policies, Stay strong and fiscally Conservative!!!! Winning Formula! If all you Republicans care so much about the economy and smaller government give up the social platforms of the 1950’s and make the case for less taxes a balanced budget, more personal responsibility, and opportunities.
      Look at the Conservative Party in the UK they put forth and passed gay marriage… but are balancing the budget and cutting the deficit! Keeping the UK growing ahead of every other country in Europe except Germany (Also a center-right government)
      Wake Up Republicans!!!!

      • Roger Cain

        Agreed Stephen. Socially moderate; fiscally conservative is the winner. This is exactly what those lumped into the “Tea Party” stand for. That is exactly why the leftist media vilify them constantly. They dare to demand a reduction in the size and power of the federal government. They believe in self reliance and accountability. Regards the debt limit=default argument, I respectfully disagree with you. The feds are paying for future obligations not past. The feds could, as do most individuals and businesses, cut something. If a family is in financial crisis, they can cancel their cable service, sell their BMW and buy a Honda, eat in and not out etc. The family breadwinner(s) could get a second job to increase revenue. The Constitution mandates payment to our creditors first. These obligations are approximately 25m per month. The feds have between 250-300m per month in revenue. I think they can pay their creditors. While I would be adamantly opposed to tax increases, the feds could raise taxes. They do not need to increase the limit on the credit card. How can a nation remain solvent when the only means allowed to deal with fiscal issues is to borrow more money? Most do not realize that the Fed. Reserve has been printing money to the tune of 85b per month. Now that Yellen is the fed chair, that number is going to go up. I call it a tax on the ignorant. The ignorant will continue to get their government check; it will just buy less and less as time goes on. The feds don’t count energy and food in their inflation analysis. I wonder why.

  • rene591

    the turtle is toast. and if the health care exchange works in Kentucky like i think it will. may have a democrat. oh the humanities. and if they lose the senate by a seat 2012 & 2010 redux

  • Ando

    McConnell sold out his base for earmarks. He can kiss the election goodbye.


    Typical Rothenberg article. Starts with the premise that only the Repubs have something to worry about, then provides some advise (Dem/Beltway talking points) as to how to remedy their situation. Stu….newsflash: The Repubs “substantial damage” due to the shutdown will be dwarfed by the damage Obama inflicts on the Dems due to Obamacare. And, I am dubious about the extent of any real damage suffered by the Rs from the shutdown. You on the left in the NY/Beltway bubble rarely comprehend the sentiment out here in “the country!”

  • endpork

    It is an important part of the election… yes but…
    What if he should win?
    During the months of December 2014 through January 2015 when he is being renominated to be the senate majority leader or senate minority leader:
    1. will Americans get out in force to demand he not be.. enough to convince people like Rubio and McCain to get scared and say NO!
    …… What about McConnells committees…?
    …… What about McCains committees and leadership positions…?
    Liberals would already be openly talking about their candidates not going back to leadership…. McConnell and his buddies have been running the party for HOW LONG?????
    Will they be forced to step down.. or not run for these republican party running committees and positions..??
    Or will the republican voters get screwed over AGAIN… like they have for decades… BY THEIR OWN INNACTION to force their will on their politicians ?

  • Gyst53

    Wait until the Affordable Care Act (tax) really kicks in….. the call for hope and whatever change you have left in your pocket in 2014, will not be for Democrats…. sorry, I also forgot to mention jobs and a career for those under 40!

  • Unqualified?

    I don’t recall Rothenburg arguing the same when all the Blue Dog moderate Democrats were getting beat by the more liberal wing. Where was the talk about a split in the Democratic party then? No, the Republican Party is starting to look more and more like the Democratic Party in that the more conservative members are winning the arguments.

  • John Say

    Yes, those of us who are not falling all over ourselves to spend more money we dont have, tax the crap out of ourselves until the economy collapses and dish out as many freebies as we can to collect votes are extremist, suicide bombers threatening to destroy the country.

    The democrats and the media have won the war of words.
    But there is a problem. All the words in the world do not change reality.
    We can fix this now with some pain. Or we can fix this later with great pain.

    What is truly depressing is that there is not a single democrat that seems to take the fiscal mess we are in seriously.
    The president is worried that we might default because he can not borrow more money. He should start worrying that we might default because no one will lend us more money.

  • fuchsiaribbons

    Absolute Bull Crap – All elected members of The Democrat Communist Party headed by the thugs Pelosi/Reid/Obama are traitors to their oaths to the Constitution – Obama should be impeached for his executive fiat arrogant actions and Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the IRS scandal, the overreach of everything his administration does and Obamacare exemptions but NOT ONE DEMOCRAT HAS AN BACKBONE and absolutely no honor to their oaths to the Constitution and John Roberts should be tarred and feathered – dishonorable jackass. The Democrat Communist Party is the party of destruction, death, poverty, elitism, slavery – and I hope they all rot in hell. The BEST THING TO EVER HAPPEN IS THE RISE OF THE TEA PARTY and Cruz and Lee, as two examples.

  • Conservative

    so you guys don’t care if people get hurt over obama care thats why this country is going down because no one doing anything about the frauds and in the system corrupt politicians like harry reid obama and socialist. the politics for GOP is leave it alone but you really want to play politics with health care dems already is we need people like ted cruz and mike lee and rand paul not like mitch mcconnell got bribe by harry reid and dems 2.9b

  • lak;d;l

    “About Stu
    I’m a non-partisan political analyst/handicapper who has been a Roll Call columnist for more than 20 years.”


  • Fred234

    “…to save the nation.” Think about it. Did they really? What would have happened if the ceiling was not raised? We would still pay the interest on our debt, that comes first. We would have to cut millions of gov’t handouts….I mean jobs that really don’t do much, close departments that should have been closed decades ago (Energy Dept comes to mind), cut entitlements that politicians have been increasing for years (and are unsustainable anyways) just to get votes, etc etc etc.
    Every hear of the Depression of 1920-1921? Look it up. They let the economy heal itself which it does every business cycle. The market gets rid of the non-functioning part of the economy and allows something new to take its place. That’s how we get growth. Not thru gov’t intervention. Not thru Fed manipulation of interest rates. Not by the gov’t creating make work jobs.
    Did they ‘save the nation’? No. The politicians only made the situation worse, and the longer they wait (or is it you the voter?) the worse it will be once things do blow up.

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