Ohio Gov. John Kasich's Tour: "Nothing To Do" With 2016

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is on tour in the west promoting a constitutional balanced budget amendment - but before you make any presumptions, the former GOP-nomination-chaser says it isn't about 2016.

As the Wall Street Journal reports:

Fresh off his inauguration to a second term as governor, Mr. Kasich is travelling from South Dakota to Wyoming to Idaho in a tour that ends Friday. He is trying to round up support for a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget — even as fiscal issues seem to be fading in Congress.

Mr. Kasich, who ran briefly for the GOP presidential nomination in 2000, says this budget campaign has nothing to do with his thinking about whether to try again in 2016. The tour may help build his national profile in a field crowded with ambitious Republicans, but he deflects questions about his plans.

“My options are on the table but I don’t have any more to say about that,” he said. When someone in Pierre, South Dakota raised the question, he joked about other Republicans who are eyeing a bid: “They are all in New Hampshire and here I am in South Dakota!”

Kasich won re-election in Ohio in 2014 by an impressive margin - more than 30 points - and such a strong showing in a purple state suggests an across-the-aisle appeal that would theoretically be helpful in any national election. Still, he's largely a dark horse in a race that is, to this point, led by household names like Bush and Romney.

Black Lives Matter: Abortion Killed 19 Times as Many Blacks as Murder

After the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, protesters took to the streets across the nation declaring that ‘Black Lives Matter.’

It wasn’t a moment, they argued, but a movement.

“Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise,” BlackLivesMatter.com states. “It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.”

They are right: Black lives are intentionally targeted for demise—though not necessarily in the way they are protesting.

CNS News explains:

For every black murder victim in 2011 there were 19 blacks killed by abortion, according to data from the FBI and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 2011 is the latest year for which the data is available.

The CDC’s Abortion Surveillance Report for 2011 shows that 117,293 black babies were aborted that year in the 32 states and the District of Columbia that report abortion numbers to the CDC.

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report for 2011, shows that 6,329 blacks were murder victims that year (5,416 males, 910 females, and 3 unknown gender).

In other words, for every black American killed by homicide in 2011, there were 19 (18.5) blacks killed by abortion--and that’s just in the jurisdictions that report their abortion data. (See Table 13 in CDC report.)

Also, the 117,293 aborted babies is 1,753% higher than the 6,329 black murder victims.

Black lives do matter—beginning in the womb. It’s well past time the movement shift its focus.

Obama Targets Americans At The Pump

Last week, the Obama administration announced it was proposing new rules for methane regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency will unveil the new regulations this summer.

The Obama administration’s goal is for methane emissions to be cut 40 to 45 percent by 2025. Yet, it was unclear how such an objective could be achieved, given that methane escaping from pipelines wouldn’t be subject to regulation, according to Politico. As Erik Telford of the Franklin Center wrote, this regulatory onslaught will only hurt Americans and small businesses; not to mention that the energy industry has taken steps to reduce emissions:

According to the EPA, methane accounts for about 9 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, making it the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the United States. It’s also the primary component in natural gas, which has helped lower energy prices substantially in the U.S. and around the world.

In fact, the boom in natural gas production is a key factor driving down prices at the pump and giving Americans a much needed respite after an extended recession. And experts have predicted that prices will drop even lower--anticipating an average of $2 a gallon by spring of 2015. However, those forecasts may not be accurate if the administration has its way.

The energy industry has reduced methane emissions by at least 16 percent since 1990, despite impressive increases of natural gas production--rising 37 percent during the same period. Furthermore, despite the natural gas industry being the target of the administration’s latest attack, more than 71 percent of methane emission are produced by other sources.

As energy costs increase for small businesses and prices start rising at the pump, it should be very clear to everyday Americans that Obama’s incursion on the energy industry is really an attack on them.

Tom Pyle of the Institute For Energy Research also commented on the pending new rules concerning methane emissions:

“EPA’s proposed methane regulation is redundant, costly, and unnecessary. Energy producers are already reducing methane emissions because methane is a valuable commodity. It would be like issuing regulations forcing ice cream makers to spill less ice cream.

“The Obama administration’s latest attack on American energy reaffirms that their agenda is not about the climate at all—it’s about driving up the cost of producing and using natural gas, oil, and coal in America. The proof is in the EPA’s own research on methane, which shows that this rule will have no discernible impact on the climate. Like most of the regulations coming out of this ideologically driven EPA, the environmental benefits of this new methane rule are virtually non-existent, but the economic costs for American families are very real.

“In 2012 President Obama dismissed and mocked the notion that we could drill our way to lower oil and gasoline prices. He was wrong. Thanks to increases in oil production on private and state lands, Americans are feeling some relief from high energy prices. Today, this administration has issued yet another crushing regulation aimed at driving energy prices right back up again.”

VA State Bar Kicks Bob McDonnell When He’s Down

Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA) has already suffered the embarrassment of an arrest, a heated court battle, and a two-year sentence in prison as a result of an unethical relationship he and his wife had with a businessman who worked for a drug supplement company. Now, the embattled governor must humble himself once again. On Friday, the Virginia State Bar announced it was suspending McDonnell’s law license. More from The Virginian Pilot:

The Virginia State Bar announced today it has suspended former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s law license effective Jan. 29.

The bar’s Disciplinary Board decided the suspension as a result of McDonnell's conviction on 11 federal corruption charges, according to a public notice. His license was already administratively suspended because McDonnell hasn't paid his dues since mid-October, it said.

The former governor hasn’t practiced law since 2009 and it’s not clear if he would have in the near future, but the suspension is just another stain on his already tarnished reputation.

McDonnell’s fall from grace began when it was revealed that he and his wife had accepted thousands of dollars in gifts and bribes from Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the CEO of Star Scientific, in return for promoting his company’s dietary supplement. In September, McDonnell was convicted on 11 counts of corruption. His wife Maureen is facing eight counts for her sentencing on February 20.

When the judge announced McDonnell’s verdict, he did so reluctantly, saying "It breaks my heart, but I have a duty I can't avoid." After all, the former governor served the Old Dominion well during his time in office and was once even considered a contender for the 2016 presidential race. 

There’s something even more humbling about being behind bars. After McDonnell serves his time, perhaps he will start to earn back some respect and dignity.

Sarah Palin: I'm "Seriously Interested" in a White House Run

Hmmm:

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin told The Washington Post in an interview Friday that she is “seriously interested” in running for the White House in 2016.

“You can absolutely say that I am seriously interested,” Palin said, when asked to clarify her thinking about a possible presidential bid.

Palin, the GOP’s 2008 vice-presidential nominee, said she stood by comments she made Thursday in Las Vegas to ABC News, where she first expressed enthusiasm about potentially competing for the Republican presidential nomination.

“I am. As I said yesterday, I’m really interested in the opportunity to serve at some point,” Palin said Friday, as former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, a potential 2016 rival, looked on.

Exit question: Should Sarah Palin run for president in 2016? Or should she sit this one out and serve the nation in other ways?

Walker Watch: Governor Plans To Be In New Hampshire, Nabs Ernst Strategist

Yes, I’m sure a lot of you are waiting–or hoping–for Gov. Walker to announce his 2016 candidacy. His answer will probably come around the summer, but he’s scheduled to be a keynote speaker in New Hampshire on March 14 at an in-state Republican Party event (via RCP):

As he continues to gear up for a likely Republican presidential bid, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is planning his first trip to New Hampshire of the 2016 campaign season.

On March 14, Walker will be the keynote speaker at an event that is being hosted by the New Hampshire Republican Party in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

"We have enacted bold, successful reforms in Wisconsin and we have a great story to tell," Walker said in a statement announcing his visit. "I look forward to sharing our common sense conservative message with grassroots activists, and I thank the New Hampshire GOP for this exciting opportunity."

According to multiple Republican sources, Walker’s tightknit political team has been conducting interviews recently for high-level positions in what is likely to become an official campaign organization in the coming months.

Additionally, Walker’s political team recently nabbed David Polyansky, a Republican strategist who worked on Sen. Joni Ernst’s successful 2014 Senate election in Iowa. He’ll be responsible for the ground game there (via NRO):

Polyansky’s history in Iowa goes back to Mike Huckabee’s 2008 campaign: He helped orchestrate the former Arkansas governor’s surprise victory in the Iowa caucuses that year, and in then in 2012, while working for former congresswoman Michele Bachmann, he helped her win the state’s straw poll.

Walker is in Iowa this weekend for the Iowa Freedom Summit cosponsored by congressman Steve King and Citizens United. The news was first reported by the Des Moines Register.

Within political circles, Walker seems to be a candidate that could clear the 2016 field, despite Marco Rubio’s “concrete steps” towards a 2016 bid of his own. He has a fundraising network that could be one of the largest in the GOP, executive experience in a purplish state, pushing through an agenda, and will already be warmed up for the campaign season, since his entire first term was pretty much one long election (2010, 2012 recall, 2014 re-election). He’s a solid, pro-life conservative as well. Yet, as John Fund wrote in National Review, right-to-work and gambling could steer the Walker ship towards rocky shoals.

In Madison, both chambers of the state legislature are Republican–and they want a more aggressive right-to-work law that prohibits private sector employees from paying dues to unions. There’s also a $800 million dollar gambling project that awaits his approval or disapproval:

A total of 24 states — including Iowa — are right-to-work. The latest additions to the list were heavily unionized Michigan and Indiana.

Yet Governor Walker has made it clear that he views the push for right-to-work as a distraction from his buttoned-down agenda of business, tax, and education reforms. Wisconsin state-senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald told WISN-TV last Sunday that “not much will happen” on the issue in the next few months. Fitzgerald said he understood Walker’s desire to avoid large protests like those seen in 2011, when Act 10, a law restricting public-sector unions, passed.

Still, he has also warned Walker that “we can’t tiptoe through this session without addressing this.”

Another issue where Governor Walker will have to tread carefully in Iowa is the expansion of state-approved gambling. Walker will have to decide by February 19 whether to approve a proposed $800 million Menominee Indian tribal casino in Kenosha. “Influential social conservatives in Iowa are warning Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker that approving a proposed Kenosha casino next month could hurt his presidential bid” was the lead paragraph of a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article this month. Newly elected Iowa U.S. senator Joni Ernst joined 600 other Republicans in sending Walker a petition urging him adopt a “No Expanding Gaming” policy. Bob Vander Plaats, a prominent social conservative in Iowa who led the successful defeat in 2010 of three Supreme Court justices who had approved same-sex marriage, has also written a letter to Walker highlighting the “increased societal problems of divorce, bankruptcy, debt, depression, and suicide” that gambling can produce. In 2012, Vander Plaats’s last-minute endorsement of Rick Santorum helped propel the former Pennsylvania senator to a photo-finish victory over Mitt Romney in Iowa.

Iowa political activists tell me that Walker is taking real risks of leaks in his Iowa coalition if he either approves expanded gambling or chokes on approving right-to-work — especially in a state such as Iowa that has had such a law on its books for more than 60 years.

Hey, there are risks with any national campaign. We’ll just have to see how this plays out. It still doesn’t diminish the fact that Republicans have a conservative governor from a purple state that can make a conservative agenda law, raise money, and appeals to both wings of the GOP. He has a political network ready–all we have to do is wait for Walker.

Livestream: Iowa Freedom Summit

The Iowa Freedom Summit is being livestreamed. Watch it below:


Change: Only Romney Edges Rubio in New Poll

The establishment is taking over.

Just kidding. But this poll is interesting:

A new Zogby Analytics of likely Republican primary voters shows that the 2012 nominee is in the lead for 2016, but only three points ahead of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and current Florida Senator Marco Rubio.The poll of 223 likely primary voters was conducted online January 16-18 and has a margin of sampling error of +/-6.6 percentage points.

Romney is on top with support from 16% of the voters, followed by Bush and Rubio with 13% each. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is next with 11%, followed by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee with 9%, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at 6%, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindahl with 4%, and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz all at 3%. Other names included South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Ohio Senator Rob Portman, New Mexico Governor Susanna Martinez, and former Pennsylvania Rick Santorum --- all receiving less than 1%.

For months, Rubio has been scraping the bottom of the barrel in 2016 polls. As far as I can tell, this is the first poll showing him exceeding double-digit support in months. But there is something far more interesting about this poll than just the top-line numbers. Rubio, for his part, is earning 13 percent overall largely -- and almost entirely -- because women support him.

“Rubio is receiving 22% support among women to only 4% of men and does equally well (16% each) among both self-identified Republicans and conservatives,” the pollsters write. By contrast, Romney and Bush are only earning 13 percent and 10 percent among women, respectively. That’s a huge advantage. For a party that has struggled to make inroads with this key demographic, Rubio is showing early signs of promise.

Another point to emphasize (and the Zogby pollsters did as well) is that, besides maintaining support-levels far above his rivals among female voters, Rubio’s broadly appealing. He doesn’t strictly fit the mold of a "tea party" candidate (think his advocacy for and defense of comprehensive immigration reform) but nor is he an "establishment" type, either. In 2010, he ran as a staunch conservative and was even featured on the cover of National Review magazine early in the campaign. So his support among both tea party and more moderate respondents -- in this particular survey, at least -- typifies his growing appeal and unique ability to transcend party labels. This realization may have also been one factor which led him to essentially take the plunge already.

Guy has written an extensive post titled “Rubio’s Gamble.” Go read it. In sum, he argues that the Florida senator’s path to the nomination is hardly clear-cut. But as this poll shows, he seems to have the potential and ability to make a huge splash in 2016.

We'll see if he sinks or swims.

Dem Poll: Nearly 70 Percent Support School Choice

If there’s one issue that has virtual approval from everyone, it’s school choice. Beck Research, a Democratic polling firm, found that nearly 70 percent of Americans support the concept of school choice, 45 percent strongly support it, and only 27 percent oppose it. These poll results were unveiled at a press conference held by the American Federation for Children at the National Press Club yesterday.

From their press release [emphasis mine]:

“The findings of this poll reflect what we saw in the 2014 midterms and what I am seeing in communities across the country – a demand from parents for more options in deciding how their children are educated,” said Kevin Chavous, AFC’s executive counsel. “Educational choice through opportunity scholarships and charter schools provide these options. As communities from New Orleans to Milwaukee to Miami have learned, educational choice is an immediate solution for parents’ who have children trapped in underperforming schools. Americans know that a zip code should not dictate a child’s future.”

Chavous cited other signs of school choice momentum – the resounding victories of prominent school choice advocates in the 2014 elections and a growing sense that national education unions are losing their influence with voters. Teachers unions spent at least $80 million in 2014 to express opposition to candidates supportive of such education reforms – and lost every race.

Chavous, a Democrat, former DC City Councilman and one-time mayoral candidate, urged his party to recognize the importance of the survey’s results. “As the 2016 primary fights begin, education reform is certain to take center stage – especially as a number of Republican candidates tout their records supporting expanded parental choice. As the civil rights issue of the 21st century – I urge the candidates in my party to recognize the shift in public opinion and embrace parental choice by putting the needs of students first.”

Deborah Beck of Beck Research said, “The poll clearly shows widespread support, among both political parties, for school choice. Any public official – or potential candidate for President -- who ignores these numbers does so at their own peril.”

Five key findings from poll:

  • 69 percent support the concept of school choice, including 45 percent who strongly support it, 27 percent oppose it.
  • 76 percent support public charter schools, with only 20 percent opposing it.
  • 54 percent of those surveyed believe that giving parents more choices of schools will improve the education system.
  • 65 percent believe choice and competition among schools improves education.
  • 62 percent believe we need to make major changes to the ways that public schools are run.

Some Republicans in blue states, like Gov. Chris Christie, have pushed for school choice initiatives–and it has yielded exceptional political dividends. Christie cruised to re-election in 2013, netting 60 percent of the vote, along with winning pretty much winning every demographic in the state. He also doubled his support amongst African-American voters, possibly due to his support for school choice policies.

On the other hand, Christie is way too moderate to win the GOP nomination. While he’s taken on the teachers unions, New Jersey’s economic picture is still awful, making any positive narrative about the state’s fiscal health close to laughable.

Nevertheless, Republicans have found an issue, like the Keystone Pipeline, that is insanely popular with Americans. Democrats seem to be onboard as well, but the left’s relationship with unions could have left-leaning allies looking over their shoulders more, especially during election years (i.e. every year).

Maybe this should be on the docket for this session after the Republican fumble on the bill restricting late-term abortions which was–though well-intentioned–straight up embarrassing.

Michael Bloomberg To Buy New York Times?

It would be a match made in heaven: amid multiple rounds of layoffs at the New York Times, New York Magazine is reporting that Michael Bloomberg has been idly speculating about buying the Grey Lady:

Near the end of Bloomberg's time as mayor, he told Times chairman and publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. that he was interested in buying the Times, according to a source with direct knowledge of the conversation. Sulzberger replied that the paper was not for sale.

Bloomberg’s overture, previously unreported, might be one reason why talk of a Bloomberg-Times eventuality has flared up among insiders in the wake of the most recent round of Times’ layoffs. Given the fact that both sides vehemently deny that there have been recent conversations (Sulzberger “can’t remember the last time he spoke with Bloomberg,” said a spokesperson), this may very well be wishful — or apprehensive — thinking being played out in the echo chamber of media gossip.

But it does seem that Bloomberg is in fact interested in the Times and that his interest has not waned. "Mike has muttered a lot about the Times to a lot of people," a Bloomberg adviser told me.

The Republican-turned-independent-turned-gun-grabbing-activist would find a natural home at the New York Times. He already shares their progressive cosmopolitan worldview. Their editorial page might as well all be written by Bloomberg.

Indiana Congressman Creates Quiz Mocking "Deflategate" and White House

Unless you've been living under several rocks, you've heard by now that the New England Patriots were investigated for under-inflating the footballs used during the first half of their 45-7 victory in the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. The whole matter has come to be known as "Deflategate" or "Ballghazi," and has dominated the national news this past week.

In response to all of this, Rep. Todd Young (R-IN), a Colts fan, published a "Who said it?" quiz on his official website comparing the rhetoric used in DeflateGate with the White House's official response to several scandals during the Obama administration.

For a little Friday fun, see if you can pass our "Who Said It: The Obama White House or New England Patriots?" quiz. Below are eight statements that refer to either DeflateGate or one of the Obama administration scandals. Can you guess who said each of the following in response?

Full disclosure: I am a (admittedly casual) New England Patriots fan and I still managed to get one wrong.

While this quiz is quite silly, it's rather troubling that the White House is giving shockingly similar answers to a professional football player and coach on scandals that are far more serious than the amount of air pressure in a football. It's also disgusting to me that network news is spending an absolutely absurd amount of time covering a "scandal" about the amount of air in a football compared to, you know, actual world news.

Surprise: 'Average' Mom Showcased at SOTU was a Democratic Operative


If you watched the president's speech on Tuesday, you're already somewhat familiar with Rebekah Erier, the hard-working Minnesota mother whom Obama referenced on several occasions as a living testament to how his policies are benefitting middle class Americans. Erier was seated next to the First Lady and received quite a lot of camera time.  The idea was to highlight an average, everyday family for the national audience, and to drive home Obama's "middle class economics" messaging.  Unbeknownst to viewers, however, were a few details about Ms. Erier's background that suggest she isn't quite the 'everywoman' she was presented to be:

The woman whose story of economic recovery was showcased by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address is a former Democratic campaign staffer and has been used by Obama for political events in the past. Rebekah Erler has been presented by the White House as a woman who was discovered by the president after she wrote to him last March about her economic hardships. She was showcased in the speech as proof that middle class Americans are coming forward to say that Obama’s policies are working. Unmentioned in the White House bio of Erler is that she is a former Democratic campaign operative, working as a field organizer for Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.). This also wasn’t the first time the White House used the former Democratic campaign staffer as a political prop.

Rebekah is just like you, America!  If you've worked as a partisan campaign operative and have been featured at multiple presidential events, that is!  I discussed this development with Gretchen Carlson on Fox News:


As I noted in the segment, this president has an anecdote problem dating back to the Obamacare debate.  He cynically fabricated details about his own cancer-stricken mother's (!) supposed fight with her health insurance company, and told two emotional stories in his 2009 healthcare speech to Congress key elements of which turned out to be factually wrong upon further inspection.  But hey, "larger truths" are far too important to be bogged down by actual facts.  Incidentally, we also discussed the intriguing meeting between Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush this week.  I wonder if they talked about, say, Marco Rubio at all.

DC Police Wanted To Charge David Gregory, DC AG Killed The Request

Remember that time when then-host of NBC’s Meet The Press, David Gregory, famously showed a high-capacity magazine on live television in Washington, D.C.? For those you aware of DC’s abysmal gun laws and disrespect for the Constitution, you know that possessing magazines that hold more than ten rounds is illegal within city limits.

After the horrific Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, Gregory showed the magazine while speaking with NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. This prompted an investigation by DC police as to whether the NBC host broke DC gun laws. The statute is quite clear: “No person in the District shall possess, sell, or transfer any large capacity ammunition feeding device regardless of whether the device is attached to a firearm."

Nevertheless, Gregory escaped prosecution. 

Prof. William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection filed a FOIA request for all documents relating to the investigation. It took two years, assistance from Judicial Watch, and a lawsuit to obtain the documents in question. In short, DC police wanted to charge Gregory for illegally possessing a high-capacity magazine, a move that was squashed by DC Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan who said that Gregory–as Jacobson put it– was just “too nice a guy,” and had no criminal intent or something (Via Legal Insurrection):

The short version is that the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department warned NBC News that it could not possess an actual high-capacity magazine, but NBC News went ahead and did it anyway. The MPD recommended a warrant for Gregory’s arrest, but that request was nixed by the D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan because — my paraphrase — Gregory was just too nice a guy and had no other criminal intent.

That attitude stood in stark contrast to the D.C. Attorney General’s vigorous prosecution of other lesser-known people who also were nice people and had no other criminal intent, but violated D.C.’s gun laws.

D.C. eventually produced more documents, but refused to give us the Arrest Warrant Affidavit. We eventually won a court decision, and today D.C. produced the Affidavit, with some personal information redacted. (Affidavit Below)

The Affidavit demonstrates the facts as to NBC News’ open defiance of the law. This was no innocent error. Yet no prosecution.

Here is an excerpt from the Affidavit:

So, there you have it; gun control acolytes support laws supporting their agenda, until one of their own–you know– breaks them.

Blue State Chaos: California Senate Seat Up For Grabs

Well, let’s start with some good news; Tom Steyer, the billionaire global warming crusader, has decided not to run for Barbara Boxer’s seat in 2016. Steyer would have had a huge money advantage, given his personal wealth, if he had tossed his hat into one of the most expensive campaign rings in the country. Some folks are saying this could be a $1 billion race. California Lieutenant Gov. Gavin Newsom also decided not to run in 2016, possibly looking towards moving into the Governor’s mansion in 2018.

Right now, the only person to officially declare their candidacy for Boxer’s seat is California Attorney General Kamala Harris. Yet, there are A LOT of potential candidates that have yet to make their intention known. Of course, Harris is the frontrunner, but if enough Democrats run and split the vote; then it’s possible–given California’s jungle primary system–that two Republicans could be the two top vote getters for the 2016 election. Also, the poll showing Harris dominating the field didn’t include former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is seriously considering running as well (via the Hill):

Harris pulls 27 percent of support in the automated poll, with billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer at 6 percent, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) at 7 percent and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) at 6 percent.

In California's unusual primary system the top two vote-getters of any party advance from the June primary to the general election, meaning in the blue state there's a possibility of two Democrats facing off in the general election — or potentially two Republicans if enough Democrats run and split up the vote.

But the poll suggests it's unlikely that two Democrats will face off if a respectable Republican mounts a challenge. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) leads, with 28 percent support, with 2012 GOP gubernatorial nominee Neel Kashkari at 12 percent, suggesting that a Republican with some statewide name identification would likely make a runoff.

Then, there’s the Villaraigosa effect (via LA Times):

Villaraigosa has previously expressed interest in running for governor. But according to a source close to the former mayor, he sees a path to victory in the Senate run as the only major political figure from the Los Angeles area considering a run. And the race will take place during a presidential campaign, with expected higher voter turnout among Latino, African American and Asian voters -- constituencies he successfully tapped during his mayoral contests.

Among political observers and some of his supporters, Villaraigosa is viewed as a better legislator than an executive. Before serving as a two-term mayor of Los Angeles, he was speaker of the California Assembly. Potential obstacles for his candidacy include business decisions he has made since leaving office, as well as personal baggage that led to the dissolution of his marriage.

But being the only Latino candidate to run for the seat would be a boon.

The Hill also noted that Villaraigosa has the highest name recognition in the Democratic field, and if he runs; “his campaign could play on the traditional north-south California political split and potentially rally the state's large bloc of Hispanic voters to his corner.”

Other Democratic contenders are San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, State Treasurer John Chiang, former Congresswoman Jane Harman and Rep. Karen Bass.

So, yeah, there are a lot of people running for this seat. It’s the wild bunch.

Friday Filibuster: The Hypocrite in Chief Edition

The Friday Filibuster: The one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about this week in politics.

Closing Numbers: 

50%- Obama’s job approval rating. 

35– The number of people in a recent Pew survey that described Obama as a ‘good man.’

33– The number of people in a recent Pew survey that described Obama as ‘incompetent.’

59% - The percentage of Republicans who want to see Mitt Romney run again.

SOTU:

Republicans knew heading into Tuesday that the president was going to deliver a defiant State of the Union speech, and that he did. Among the litany of policy proposals were raising the death tax and a new tax credit plan for select middle class families. But perhaps most memorable was the president demanding a better politics—the hypocrisy of which is so extreme, Guy can’t decide if it’s ‘acute self-delusion or masters-level trolling.’ Conn aptly referred to the speech as Obama’s State of Disunion. He also did a little fact-checking on education, health care, bail outs, test scores, and gas prices, and broke down the problems with Obama’s tax plan and community college plan. Based on ratings, it seems even Democrats have already turned the page on Obama’s presidency.

Earlier in the day during the SOTU luncheon, the White House couldn’t resist taking a childish swipe at Fox News. And less than 24 hours after the speech, the Obama effect kicked in, as a company the president touted during the speech announced layoffs for thousands of employees.

Culture & Guns:

More than 12 miles of guns, gear, and educational products were on full display at the annual SHOT Show in Las Vegas, which kicked off on Tuesday. Sarah Palin made an appearance to launch the second season of her reality show, “Amazing America,” on the Sportsman Channel. But the former Alaska governor isn’t the only female gun enthusiast. According to a new report released by the National Shooting Sports Foundation at the SHOT Show, women have become the fastest growing demographic of firearms owners and those becoming involved in the shooting sports. The study also found that the main reason women decided to own a gun was for self-defense. Speaking of defense, with the rise of terror threats across Europe, law enforcement agencies there are beginning to think differently about how, when, and which police should be armed.

American Sniper shattered box office records during its opening this weekend. Michael Moore wasn’t happy about it, apparently, as he took to Twitter to indirectly slandered American hero Chris Kyle.

Campaigns & Elections:


Former presidential hopeful Rick Santorum started the week off with some jabs against potential rivals Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, dismissing them as ‘bomb throwers’ with ‘no track record of any accomplishments.’ The shots seem to have fallen on deaf ears, as Cruz is revving the 2016 engine. On the establishment side of things, Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush appear to be trying to figure out how to avoid a 2016 bloodbath of sorts. Many Republicans, meanwhile, are waiting for Gov. Scott Walker to throw his hat in the ring. And it’s looking like Rubio already has. On the Democratic side, VP Joe Biden says there’s a chance he’ll run. And looking ahead to 2016 Senate elections, Harry Reid’s probably going to seek reelection, Pennsylvania’s race will prove to be a competitive one, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s allies are already making moves to ensure the upper chamber remains in Republican hands. And Americans for Prosperity has layed out their agenda to ‘reform America.

Iran:

Two years after American pastor Sayeed Abedini was arrested in Iran for his Christian faith and thrown into a brutal prison, President Obama has finally agreed to meet with his family. Speaking of Iran, Senate Democrat Bob Menendez slammed Obama for his policy toward the country, saying the administration’s talking points sound like they’re coming straight out of Tehran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to address a joint session of Congress on the threats Iran and radical Islam pose, much to the White House’s dismay.

Marching for Life:


Hundreds of thousands of pro-life advocates took to the streets of Washington, DC on Thursday for the annual March for Life, marking the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Sarah Seman caught up with Live Action president Lila Rose to talk about why the pro-life movement is for everyone. And prolifers got a shoutout from Pope Francis, who tweeted his support (and also happens to be coming to the U.S. in September.) The White House, for its part, celebrated abortion on the anniversary. On the Hill, even with a historically pro-life Congress, Republicans passed on introducing the Pain Capabale Unborn Child Protection Act, which was seen as a betrayal by the very prolifers who worked hard to elect them. And in typical fashion, the White House issued a veto threat against Rep. Chris Smith’s No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.

Terror:

A top White House adviser this week took responsibility for the administration’s decision not to send any high level officials to the Paris unity rally. Not long after three days of terror swept France, Israel broke up an ISIS cell that was operating right in their backyard. And in total disregard for the very real terror threat the U.S. and our allies face around the world, the administration quietly released a convicted al Qaeda operative from a U.S. prison (not GITMO).

In other news:

The Department of Justice will not file civil rights charges against former Officer Darren Wilson; a powerful New York Democrat was actually arrested on corruption charges; immigration enforcement officers oppose the House Border Security bill; and the 2015 GOP Senate has already surpassed all of 2014 in amendment votes.

Graphics by Feven Amenu. 

White House Tells 529 Savers To Go To Community College

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that middle-class families concerned about President Obama's plan to raise taxes on their college savings should just send their children to community college. 

Obama's plan raises taxes on families saving for college by eliminating the tax-free status of money withdrawn from a 529 savings accounts. "I was very surprised by the Obama 529 proposal because in many ways it is anti-middle class for families trying to afford college," SavingforCollege.com founder Joe Hurley told The New York Times

Asked to "square" Obama's State of the Union claim that he wanted to make college more affordable for middle-class families with his 529 tax hike, Earnest said, "The reforms the president has proposed for the 529 program are reforms that he would consider only in the context of the other education reforms that he put forward."

"And there are a variety of proposals the president put forward," Earnest continued, "some related to the tax code, but some also related to the president's proposal to make community college free for hard working students that are getting good grades. That would have the benefit of essentially cutting the cost of a four year education in half. If you can do the first two year at a community college and have them paid for then the next to years are something you can pay for and essentially your tuition costs have been cut in half."

Over one million middle class college students are currently benefitting from 529 plans and the median income for those families was $140,000Ninety-five percent of all 529 plan users have incomes below $250,000.

Rubio's Gamble


As Dan wrote earlier, ABC News is reporting that Marco Rubio is taking "concrete steps" toward running for president in 2016, forgoing a Senate re-election campaign in Florida.  He'd been shuffling forward with baby steps previously; this seems like a leap in that direction.  He has stated unambiguously in the recent past that he would not run for two offices simultaneously and denied that he'd angle for the state's Republican-controlled legislature to change existing law to allow him to do so.  This would be an all-in proposition.  It's conceivable that he could run in the presidential "proto primary," gauge how he fares, and possibly file in time for a Senate re-election effort if he gets the sense that his chances of securing the nomination are less robust than he'd hoped.  But if he proves to be major player this cycle -- and given his talent and existing brand, with the 'beware Zogby polls' caveat in place, that's a strong possibility -- he'll either end up as President (or Vice President) of the United States, or out of government.  Rubio has obviously weighed all of the various factors carefully and decided to take this gamble, but it most assuredly is a gamble.  Why?

(1) The Jeb and Money Factor: He'll be challenging his mentor, Jeb Bush, head-to-head, bucking the conventional wisdom that this scenario was far fetched.  The Senator has been pouring cold water on the notion that the two couldn't run against each other for a few months, but the potential setbacks Rubio might incur by doing so aren't insubstantial.  Bush is honing a fundraising juggernaut, gobbling up crucial major Florida donors; can Rubio raise the type of cash he needs to run a serious primary campaign with one of his arms tied behind his back?

(2) Primary Pitfalls: Rubio was elected to the Senate in the 2010 wave as a Tea Party candidate.  He's developed a conservative voting record over four years in the upper chamber and is a powerful advocate on behalf of conservative causes.  But in many conservative voters' minds, his membership among the so-called 'Gang of Eight' on immigration reform is a serious black mark on his score card.  Some may respect his effort to tackle a difficult problem, but the base was almost uniformly against the flawed legislation that ultimately emerged, which Rubio tirelessly promoted and defended.  He's changed his tune a bit since the bill died in the House, sharply criticizing President Obama's executive amnesty; might this quasi flip-flop assuage conservatives' concerns?  By the same token, might it be a general election vulnerability?  In any case, it seems clear that there will be room to his left and right in the primary field -- which may actually end up being a sweet spot for him.  He's one of a handful of prospective candidates who could eventually fit the bill as a consensus/compromise nominee, with another being Scott Walker.

(3) Senate Landscape: Given the strength and size of the field that's shaping up, as well as Hillary Clinton's very formidable early position, even Rubio's most ardent fans must concede that there's a good chance that he will not be the next president. If that's the case, and assuming that he's not selected as a running mate on a successful ticket, Rubio is probably doing Senate Democrats a favor.  His seat is up in 2016, and it'll be a battle either way.  Rubio won a three-way race decisively in 2010, but only secured a plurality of the vote at 49 percent.  In a presidential year, he would be the favorite, but not a shoo-in, to win a second term.  Recall that Florida went blue in 2008 and 2012, and red in 2010 and 2014.  If the state GOP needs to find someone else to hold that now-vacant seat (especially if the Democrats put forward a competitive/tough to pigeonhole nominee), there is a much greater chance of it being lost than if Rubio stays put.

(4) The Youth Factor: Rubio will be 45 on Election Day 2016, having served in the Senate for nearly one full term.  He's emerging as an important and influential voice in that body, earning respect from his colleagues as a serious person.  Walking this high-stakes tightrope places all of this work and his still-ascendant role within the party in jeopardy.  Let's say he were to sit out the 2016 race, and a different Republican won.  His earliest shot at another White House bid would be eight years later, when he'd be all of 53 years old.  The same timeline could apply if Hillary wins and becomes a two-term president. Another wrinkle could be a 2020 challenge if Rubio decides she looks vulnerable.  Either way, 12 to 16 consecutive years of Democrats in the White House would make the GOP desperate to win, and Rubio could present himself be a attractive option who checks an awful lot of 'boxes' for the party -- and who had never run previously.  If he were to wait, Rubio could use the intervening years to burnish more credentials, consider a run for governor, and develop a few gray hairs that may help offset his very youthful appearance.  His options, in other words, would be wide open. Sure, new and competing "rising stars" will certainly emerge over time, but Rubio's seasoning could put him at the head of the class well into the future.  But, however, if he really is running in 2016, he'll be putting a lot of eggs into a single basket and potentially limiting his political future if he doesn't prevail.

As I stated at the outset, Marco Rubio is a smart man and a skilled political operator.  Let's stipulate that nothing mentioned above comes as news to him.  He's undoubtedly considered and agonized over all of the evidence, hypotheticals and dynamics, and has apparently arrived at the conclusion that 2016 is his moment.  We'll know soon enough whether his gamble pays off.

Women Continue To Line Up For Concealed Carry Permits

Women are the next frontier for the firearms industry. Female gun ownership has nearly doubled between 2005-2013, and as Katie reported from Shot Show in Vegas this week, the number one reason women become gun owners is for self-defense, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation:

The report, which comes from a study conducted in 2014, focused "on women ages 18 to 65 who owned at least one firearm." Over a third of the women involved in the study were new gun owners who have "purchased their first firearm within the last three years."

Some key findings:

  • The most commonly owned firearm by women in the study is a semiautomatic pistol, with 56 percent of women reporting they owned at least one. Shotguns ranked second, with 50 percent of women owning at least one.
  • Women say their purchases are mainly influenced by Fit, Quality and Practicality.
  • Women purchasing a gun in the last 12 months spent on average $870 on firearms and more than $400 on accessories.
  • The majority of women report they are not driven to buy a gun on impulse but rather considered their purchase for months before deciding.
  • Nearly all women (95 percent) have tried target shooting, and more than half (58 percent) have hunted.
  • More than 42 percent of women have a concealed carry permit for their state of residence.
  • Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of women reported having taken at least one training class.
  • 43 percent of women shoot once per month or more
  • The shooting participation of females has gone from 5,350,000 in 2006 to 7,587,000 in 2013 and now make up 24 percent of the total shooting participation population

As I wrote in a previous post, Democrats and liberals are using gun control to somehow fan the now dying flames of their “War on Women” narrative. Yet, in Utah, women applying for concealed carried permits exploded last year–and that trend seems to be occurring in other states (via Guns and Curves):

As reported by the Seattle Times, “The number of Washington state residents receiving a concealed carry permit has tripled between 2005 and 2012. The surge has been especially large among women, whose ranks have swelled twice as fast as men since 2011.” According to the analysis done by the Seattle Times, the major increase in female concealed carry permit submissions is attributed to women knowing the importance of self-defense.

Mitch Barker, the Executive Director of the Washington Sheriffs and Police Chiefs Association also attributes the increase to such tragedies as Sandy Hook and the Colorado movie theater massacre. His assessment is that these types of events are motivating people to find a way to protect themselves “They think that if they have a CPL and a firearm, maybe they can do something.”

In addition to the popularity of Guntry Clubs catering too young, affluent, female target shooters, gun stores are beginning to cater to women as well. A new store in Davenport, IA run by Jeanelle Westrom called Davenport Guns and Shooting Club has a wide selection of firearms, holsters, and various accouterment that women will love including pink pistols and a plethora of concealed carry gear for female gun owners. Westrom, who has been a lifelong competitive shooter, grew up around firearms. Her dad was a former Army officer and also the owner of the ArmaLite brand name, where she also worked for a period of time.

I can attest to the rise of the female shooter at my range, where I’ve seen a lot more women present, learning basic gun safety, proper sight alignment, and other aspects of shooting with instructors. Some of them undoubtedly concealed carry instructors.

Frankly, I think this is a great trend.  Everyone should partake in exercising their Second Amendments rights.  After all, it's one of the oldest civil rights laws in our history.

SOTU: Obama Believes in Consequences ONLY When He Wins

On this week's Townhall Weekend Journal:

Michael Medved and Bobby Jindal on Obama's SOTU. Hugh Hewitt and Rick Santorum on SOTU. Steven Hayward and Pete Weyner on SOTU. Dennis Prager and Michael Medved also discuss the SOTU. Prager covers the so-called lack of diversity with the Oscar-nominated films. Bill Bennett and Nina Shea on Boko Haram. Prager on the misguided NASA report claiming temperatures highest on record.

Wow: White House Apoplectic Netanyahu is Coming to Washington

They see it as a slight -- an unpardonable, unforgiveable offense that is harming U.S.-Israeli relations. Or something.

The Times of Israel reports:

The White House’s outrage over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to speak before Congress in March — a move he failed to coordinate with the administration — began to seep through the diplomatic cracks on Friday, with officials telling Haaretz the Israeli leader had “spat” in President Barack Obama’s face.

“We thought we’ve seen everything,” the newspaper quoted an unnamed senior US official as saying. “But Bibi managed to surprise even us.

“There are things you simply don’t do. He spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price,” he said.

Hold up. A foreign leader’s decision to accept a formal invitation to address members of Congress, by the US Speaker of the House, is equivalent to an act of pure insolence and disrespect? I don’t think so. After all, he was invited.

In fairness to the White House, however, they were not conferred at all about the impending visit (White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest called the invitation “a departure from...protocol”) and they will certainly not like what he has to say when he’s here. But that isn't the reason he will be denied a warm diplomatic welcome in March. No sir. We can thank politics for that.

Still, the White House is incensed for other reasons. They argue that with a big election around the corner, House Republicans are boosting Netanyahu’s chances of winning re-election by giving him a plum speaking slot right before Israelis head to the polls. Even so, shouldn’t the White House direct their threats of retribution at…House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)? He’s the one who reportedly made the decision to invite Netanyahu without consulting a single Democrat.

It’d be interesting to know or find out who this so-called “Senior US Official” is barking threats at the leader of Israel, our only democratic ally in the Middle East. But I suspect the answer to that question will always remain a mystery.

2015 GOP Senate Already Has Surpassed All of 2014 In Amendment Votes

Only 12 days into 2015's legislative session in the Senate, Mitch McConnell's reforms to better operate the Senate have taken effect. The hallmark of the Harry Reid Senate was his totalitarian grip upon procedure - in all of 2014, for example, there were only 15 roll call votes on the Senate floor for legislative amendments. Reid simply did not want to allow debate and did not want to have his members take uncomfortable votes that would go on the record - especially in an election year.

Yesterday, McConnell's new Senate surpassed that number. There have been 19 votes on legislative amendments in the last three days alone - 10 on amendments from Democrats, including Sen. Bernie Sanders' push to recognize climate change.

Harry Reid long practiced a tactic called "filling the amendment tree," which prevents the minority from even offering amendments to legislation. As National Journal last year reported,

"These amendments typically make very small, and sometimes even conflicting, changes to the underlying bill. One of Reid's amendments filed on the unemployment-insurance extension bill, which is expected to pass the Senate on Monday, for example, changes the enactment date of the legislation [by] one day."

McConnell has pledged to restore regular order and the traditional amendment process. He's already well on his way.

Time is Running Out For Japanese Hostages

The Islamic State's killing spree will continue soon if they don't receive $200 million from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in exchange for two Japanese hostages, the terror group warned. The 72-hour deadline has passed, and now the country is holding its breath as it waits to see what will become of their fellow countrymen.

Militants associated with the Islamic State posted the terrifying warning online Friday morning. The Japanese government quickly responded to the gruesome announcement.

"The situation remains severe but we are doing everything we can to win the release of the two Japanese hostages," Suga said. He said Japan is using every channel it can find, including local tribal chiefs, to try to reach the captors.

The two hostages are identified as 47-year-old journalist Kenji Goto Jogo and 42-year-old military contractor Haruna Yukawa.

The Islamic State has wreaked havoc around the globe, savagely beheading British aid worker David Haines, as well as a few of our own. It's time our government acknowledges these militants for what they are: radicals. 

In an emotional press conference, Goto's mother, Junko Ishido, asked her government to act to save her son. I'll leave you with her powerful plea. I hope it's answered for Japan - and for anyone who wants justice.

"Time is running out. Please, Japanese government, save my son's life."

Immigration Enforcement Officers Oppose House Border Security Bill

The immigration enforcement officers charged with implementing President Obama's executive amnesty, the National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council, issued a statement Thursday opposing House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul's (R-TX) border security bill.

“The dedicated immigration service officers and adjudicators at USCIS are in desperate need of help," NCISC president Kenneth Palinkas' statement begins. "The President’s executive amnesty order for 5 million illegal immigrants places the mission of USCIS in grave peril."

Addressing the McCaul immigration bill, Palinkas continued: 

I also remain concerned by the fact that needed USCIS reforms are not included in pending legislation. For instance, H.R. 399 – Chairman McCaul’s legislation – does nothing to preclude anyone in the world from turning themselves in at the US border and obtaining automatic entry and federal benefits. Almost anyone at all can call themselves an asylum-seeker and get in; it’s a global joke. It’s not border security if anyone can recite the magic words and get waved right on in. Those who arrived in the 2014 border run are still here, often living on US support and even applying for US jobs. The bill also delays by years the implementation of biometric exit-entry to police the rising overstay catastrophe.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) who just renamed his new Judiciary Subcommittee, "Immigration and the National Interest," is also concerned about the McCaul bill. "The Chairman McCaul proposal does not include the following reforms needed to achieve a sound immigration system," a recent Sessions statement reads. "It does not end catch-and-release; it does not require mandatory detention and return; it does not include worksite enforcement; it does not close dangerous asylum and national security loopholes; it does not cut-off access to federal welfare; and it does not require completion of the border fence. Surprisingly, it delays and weakens the longstanding unfulfilled statutory requirement for a biometric entry-exit visa tracking system."

You can read a thorough analysis of the McCaul bill by the Center for Immigration Studies, here

UPDATE: Chairman McCaul has sent Townhall the following statement:

The Committee on Homeland Security does not have jurisdiction over interior enforcement or the immigration policy that USCIS is charged with carrying out. House Republicans are taking a step-by-step approach and as such “Secure Our Borders First” bill deals solely with the problem at our southern, northern, and maritime borders. This is a problem that has plagued this country for 25 years. The insecurity of our borders is a national security concern, and the number one provision in the Constitution is to provide for the common defense of our country. My constituents in my home district and my home state of Texas spoke loud and clear. They want the border secured.

Oh Wow: Rubio's Really Running, Huh?

For president, mind you, not re-election because he's already said he won't run for both.

ABC News has the exclusive:

Sen. Marco Rubio has begun taking concrete steps toward launching a presidential bid, asking his top advisors to prepare for a campaign, signing on a leading Republican fundraiser, and planning extensive travel to early-voting states in the coming weeks, ABC News has learned.

"He has told us to proceed as if he is running for president," a senior Rubio advisor tells ABC News. ...

Aides expect Rubio will make a final decision in the comings weeks, but his schedule for the next month already looks more like the schedule of a presidential candidate than a senator.

So, if we take Rubio's advisor at his word, that means Rubio, Jeb Bush and possibly Mitt Romney will all be competing for establishment money, influence, and support in 2016. In other words, Rubio would have to defeat both the 2012 presidential nominee and his former mentor (who happens to hail from the same state as him) to even have a chance at the nomination.

What could go wrong?

Rubio, however, has already started publicly presenting arguments for why he would be a much stronger candidate than some of his other rivals. And apparently, he wasn’t doing that just for show.

Good News: Harry Reid's (Probably) Seeking Re-election

Harry Reid may be severely injured at the moment, but that in no way, shape or form is affecting his long-term plans. In a recent press conference, he made it abundantly clear that his political career hasn’t run its course, and that he’s “off and running” to re-election. Splendid:

Appearing with a large bandage over his right eye and a bruise on his face, Reid said that “at this stage” he still plans to run for reelection — and insists that people trying to parse his phrasing heard the exact same language before the injury.

“We have quite an operation in Nevada that hasn’t lost a step. We’re off and running,” Reid said. Pressed on his reelect, he replied: “This question was asked before the break, and I’m answering it the same way. I plan on running.”

Despite his jovial demeanor, however, Reid has a (political) target on his back. He’s been described by the NRSC’s Kevin McLaughlin as the “the most vulnerable Senator in the United States of America right now,” and Tea Party groups are just chomping at the bit to unseat him. So while he may have “quite an operation” in the works in his home state, he better bring his A-game in 2016. He won his last election by a comfortable margin, of course, but my hunch is that Republicans will field a much stronger candidate than they did last time around. They won’t make the same mistake twice. Will they?

So we’ll see how this goes. Maybe he’ll win re-election. Maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll even be Senate Majority Leader again. The possibilities are endless but this much is clear: It’s not going to be easy for Reid to coast to victory as he once did. Not this time.

After years of gridlock and inaction, Republicans are almost universally committed to seeing him lose.