Sarah Palin is embarking on a book tour. Tim Pawlenty is building a national political operation. Mitt Romney is weighing in on the recession.
They’re all jockeying for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination — even if they won’t say so.
Make no mistake: At least a half-dozen Republicans are in the early stages of campaigning for the chance to challenge President Barack Obama in his expected re-election race.
Ultimately, some may decide against running. But, at this point, they’re taking steps to position themselves for the GOP nomination fight — and that means courting conservatives critical in primaries, proving they can take on a popular incumbent president and painting a vision for a wayward GOP.
And, of course, gauging their relative strength, visiting early primary states and refusing to rule out official bids.
“It’s way too soon” to talk 2012, former New York Gov. George Pataki demurred last week, sounding like a stream of other Republicans trekking through Iowa, while he spoke at a GOP fundraiser for the 2010 midterm election season.
This early, White House aspirants have the advantage of operating a bit outside the media glare. But Washington insiders do notice unforced errors. And while missteps may not hurt them with the public, flubs can hamper them in the long-term hunt for staff, fundraisers and endorsements by raising questions of readiness.
Pawlenty, for instance, caused a stir among insiders recently with a series of bobbles. In one case, the Minnesota governor seemed to suggest that moderate Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, who sided with Democrats on Obama’s health care reform in a Senate Finance Committee vote, shouldn’t be part of the GOP. Pawlenty later made clear that she should.
For now, the field is wide open with 2008 GOP nominee John McCain on the sidelines after his loss to Obama. Republicans are struggling to figure out precisely what they want in their next leader and how to reshape a party facing big challenges following painful national election setbacks in 2006 and 2008.
Consider that Democrats won the White House and expanded their majorities in Congress in 2008 in a friendly political environment. It had turned so sour just one year later that Republicans booted Democrats from power in Virginia and New Jersey.
“The results made clear the American people don’t like where the Democrats are trying to take our country,” declared Haley Barbour, the Republican Governors Association chairman who will preside over a gathering of GOP governors in Texas next week.
Updated November 14, 2009
by Judson Berger
Sen. Joe Lieberman is emerging as a big factor in the health care reform debate, and he is poised to lead an investigation into the Fort Hood shooting. He still draws the ire of some in the Democratic Party, but has found his stride since backing Republican Sen. John McCain in last year’s presidential election.
Sen. Joe Lieberman was the Democrats’ persona non grata last fall. Having spent most of the year stumping for Republican presidential candidate John McCain, he was on the brink of losing his prized chairmanship of an important Senate committee, and he was on the receiving end of some nasty insults from the soon-to-be Obama White House.
One year later, Lieberman is still unwelcome in the liberal wing of the Democratic party, but his status in the Senate is no longer in question. Joe matters.
The Connecticut senator has emerged as the most vocal critic in the Democratic caucus against a government-run insurance plan, pledging to join a Republican filibuster against health care reform “as a matter of conscience” if the public option is in the bill.
And after the shooting rampage at Fort Hood last week, the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is poised to lead a congressional investigation into what led to the attack and whether the military and intelligence communities missed “warning signs.”
On top of this, the Independent Democrat has embraced the “I” after his name, working at times with fellow Democrats but also hopping across the aisle without hesitation to put pressure on the Obama administration.
In the past few months alone, Lieberman has urged Attorney General Eric Holder not to open an investigation of the intelligence community’s interrogation practices; chided President Obama for canceling a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe; and repeatedly joined Republicans in pressing the president to approve a troop increase for Afghanistan.
On Friday, Lieberman ripped the Obama administration’s decision to prosecute the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and his accomplices in New York instead of the military commissions.
Timothy Profeta, who used to work as Lieberman’s counsel on environmental issues, said Lieberman has emerged once again as an influential moderate.
“There was a lot of raw emotion in ’06 and ’08 but that seems to have passed at least among the senators themselves,” said Profeta, now director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University. “He’s been able to reassume his role as a bridge between the parties on key issues, and perhaps even strengthen.”
While his partisan transgressions have earned him the scorn of liberal commentators and some lawmakers, Lieberman continues to have the public backing of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“I have the greatest confidence in Joe Lieberman’s ability as a legislator,” Reid said late last month after Lieberman threatened to join a filibuster against health care reform. Reid called Lieberman “my friend,” and the one he respects more than any senator.
“Joe Lieberman is the least of Harry Reid’s problems,” Reid said.
He signaled that Lieberman will be at the table, not on the menu, in the weeks ahead, saying he will “work with us” and be involved in the amendment process.
On health care reform, Lieberman could be a decisive voice, and he restated his opposition to a government-run plan on “Fox News Sunday” earlier this week.
“If the public option plan is in there, as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote, because I believe the debt can break America and send us into a recession that’s worse than the one we’re fighting our way out of today,” Lieberman said.
A source who knows Lieberman well said the senator’s not alone, and is speaking for as many as a dozen moderate Senate Democrats who don’t want the government-run plan either. The source predicted Lieberman would help guide a compromise that excludes the public plan — which in turn will trigger a “food fight” with the House of Representatives.
“Washington just doesn’t know what to do with someone who doesn’t wear their party uniform,” the source said, calling Lieberman consistently independent throughout his career. “It just sort of freaks people out.”
Among the freaked out are protesters, who were arrested outside Lieberman’s office for the second time in a week on Tuesday and charged with unlawful entry.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, fired a warning shot at Lieberman in late October, suggesting Lieberman has a lot to lose if he goes against the Democrats on health care reform.
“He wants to caucus with us and, of course, he enjoys his chairmanship of the committee because of the indulgence of the Democratic Caucus. So I’m sure all of those things will cross his mind before the final vote,” Harkin said on a conference call with reporters, according to an account in The Iowa Independent. Harkin said Lieberman doesn’t want to “go down in history” as the Democrat who helped kill health care reform.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., also suggested he’d be open to seeking Lieberman’s ouster from the caucus if he filibusters, telling Politico.com, “Let’s see what happens. I don’t think anybody should be filibustering.”
In a recent column, Democratic strategist Paul Begala charged that the “I” after Lieberman’s name stands for “insurance industry.” The senator is heavily funded by the health care and insurance industries, leading to allegations that he’s in the tank for those interests.
Despite the criticism, Lieberman’s standing does not look anywhere near as tenuous as it did following his speech in support of McCain at the Republican National Convention last summer. Late 2008 was one of the rockiest patches of Lieberman’s already rocky career, which took him from Democratic vice presidential candidate in 2000 to defeated Democratic primary candidate in 2006 — due in part to his support for the Iraq war — to victorious independent and incumbent U.S. senator months later.
Lieberman’s next mission is to head up a Senate investigation into the Fort Hood shooting, with a hearing scheduled for next Thursday.
A Lieberman spokeswoman told Fox News that the investigation will be a continuation of the homegrown terrorism probe the senator has conducted for years.
In the light of the Fort Hood rampage, in which 13 were killed and 29 wounded, Lieberman’s office has drawn renewed attention to an eerily prescient report his committee authored in May 2008 warning about the threat of “homegrown terrorists.”
While some have been cautious about labeling the shooting rampage an act of terrorism, Lieberman is outspoken — saying there are signs that the suspect in the killings, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, was an “Islamist extremist” and that he should have been kicked out of the military if those signs were apparent. He is presenting himself as a force to be reckoned with in the inquiry ahead.
“This is not a matter of constitutional freedom of speech,” he told “Fox News Sunday. “If Hasan was showing signs, saying to people that he had become an Islamist extremist, the U.S. Army has to have zero tolerance. He should have been gone.”
Fox News’ Trish Turner contributed to this report.
Updated November 14, 2009
Contributor: Emma Haberl
Michael Mukasey, the final attorney general in the Bush administration, defended military tribunals, asserting that they were created for this kind of case and noting that they were used during and after World War II.
Michael Mukasey, the attorney general at the end of President Bush’s second term, ripped his successor’s decision to prosecute the Sept. 11 conspirators in a federal court, saying the trial will give jihadists a forum and could compromise delicate intelligence.
Mukasey, in an interview with Fox News, called the civilian trial announced Friday by Attorney General Eric Holder “the wrong place, under the wrong circumstances, in the wrong forum.”
“After 9/11, we recognized that we were at war,” he said, arguing that military tribunals were created for this kind of case and noting that they have been used since the Revolutionary War and during and after World War II.
“There are forums that allow the presentation of evidence in a controlled atmosphere, where you can limit access to classified information, and where you can receive evidence gathered on the battlefield, not necessarily under the kinds of conditions in which police gather evidence in a conventional case,” he said. “That’s not true in federal court.”
On Friday, Holder announced that the self-proclaimed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Guantanamo detainees will be tried in federal court in New York for their alleged role in the attacks that killed 2,976 American civilians — saying the U.S. will seek the death penalty against the defendants.
Holder said he decided to seek justice against the suspects in federal court rather than a military tribunal because the attacks targeted civilians on U.S. soil. But Mukasey and other critics say the attack was an act of war that should be prosecuted in a military tribunal.
Mukasey said it’s unlikely that Mohammed will be acquitted because of his confession and other evidence linking him to the attack. But he added that same evidence could present problems in federal court.
“The real problem is that there is other evidence that may very well come from classified sources, that would be easier to handle in a military tribunal, much harder to handle in a civilian tribunal,” Mukasey said.
He added that the trial also puts the terrorists on the kind of stage they seek.
“They want to be on a big stage and there’s no bigger stage than New York,” he said.
Fox News’ Emma Haberl contributed to this report.
Media Matters continues to try to provide cover for the public flogging ACORN has received as a result of investigative videos which showed ACORN employees giving advice on a number of illegal activities including human trafficking, child prostitution, bank fraud, illegal immigration and tax evasion. Meanwhile, the mainstream media has largely ignored a growing scandal that cannot be contained: ACORN is reportedly closing offices across the country, including the site of the DC undercover videotape.
Also, today another damning ACORN tape was released at Big Government. This time an ACORN member openly confessed to ACORN using non-partisan voter registration to secretly produce Obama votes.
Anyone paying attention knows accusations relating to voter registration fraud, illicit partisan activity and other chicanery often have been made against ACORN, with ACORN either denying all or any ACORN fault. In October of 2008, I testified in Pennsylvania regarding the illegal coordination between Barack Obama’s Campaign and ACORN:
“A former staffer for Project Vote, a sister organization of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, testified at a hearing in Pennsylvania on Wednesday that the Obama campaign provided the group with a campaign donor list in late 2007 for their fundraising efforts. The former D.C. staffer, Anita Moncrief, said she still has a copy of what she called the ‘development plan’ she used to help her identify the maxed-out Obama donors for solicitation. The hearing was part of a lawsuit brought by the GOP seeking information and an injunction against certain ACORN activities in Pennsylvania.
“McCain-Palin campaign manager Rick Davis said in a statement, ‘We now know that Barack Obama’s campaign was working hand-in-glove with an organization reportedly under investigation by the F.B.I. and in more than a dozen states. In addition to funneling $832,000 to ACORN for get-out-the-vote efforts, the Obama campaign and ACORN have been sharing donor lists, encouraging maxed-out Obama donors to contribute to this unethical organization.’” (emphasis mine).”
The member caught on tape publicized by Big Government is another in a long line of “bad apples” for ACORN. As it becomes harder to hide behind poor minorities, ACORN appears to be on the run. Unfortunately, they are running to the White House. There Barack Obama, ACORN’s “inside man,” seems poised to protect ACORN and even strike down its enemies. Andy Stern of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) serves as a close confidant of the President with over 20 visits logged in at the White House (he tops the frequent visitor list). Stern has every reason to expect this sort of access, as he not only funneled many millions of dollars into the Obama campaign, but also aligned with SEIU’s sister organization, ACORN, to ensure that Obama was elected.
The screen shot is from an internal ACORN document from 2006. When combined with the admissions of the member, it provides additional proof that ACORN and SEIU – with the help of the Obama presidential campaign – intentionally took government and tax exempt donations through organizations like Project Vote to run a partisan voter registration drive aimed at electing Obama. Both the Federal Elections Commission and the media ignored the Obama donor list that was submitted as evidence in the Pennsylvania case and sworn testimony. But can they ignore the admission of someone saying: “I Am ACORN”?
As President ,Obama has paved the way for ACORN and SEIU to receive stimulus money and ACORN favorites to receive prime appointments to both executive and judicial positions.
Of course, Obama has admitted to limited ties with ACORN. But Americans have witnessed Obama run the country like one big ACORN office and trying to implement ACORN’s radical agenda. Apparently being a community organizer is something that – like ACORN – is hard for Obama to shake. In 2001, a group of ACORN protesters broke up a community tenant meeting by shouting the words, “Yes, We Can.” Eight years later, ACORN man Obama rode to victory using the same slogan of those angry protesters.
With so much to lose, lawmakers are concerned about the lengths to which Obama will go to in order to protect ACORN. Congressman Steve King of Iowa released a statement today suggesting that a cover-up may be being executed under the guise of an investigation:
“Bob Bauer has a public record of defending Barack Obama’s relationship with ACORN. Bauer has acted as the agent between Obama and ACORN, and now he will be perfectly positioned to be tasked with erasing the tracks between Obama and ACORN. Bauer’s hiring appears to be a tactical maneuver to strategically defend the White House exactly one week after Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell raided ACORN’s national headquarters in New Orleans and seized paper records and computer hard drives that may lead to the White House.”
Congressman King has reason to worry. The Democrat-controlled Congress has given ACORN plenty of time and warning to prepare for these “investigations”. In March of this year Michigan Representative John Conyers backed down from a call to investigate ACORN after several witnesses testified about the 2008 elections and ACORN. Portions of my Pennsylvania testimony regarding ACORN’s illegal activities in 2008 were read into the record and hundreds of pages of evidence were submitted by GOP Attorney Heather Heidelbaugh. In explaining his flip flop, Conyers cited “the Powers that be.” As the “Age of Obama” unfolds, it’s not hard to guess who “the powers” are.
Obama is willing to make small, symbolic concessions like removing ACORN from the Census, but his Justice Department remains oddly complacent with ACORN. The bailout hungry media covered up the Obama/ACORN story and continue to ignore damaging stories like the IRS dropping ACORN from its list of VITA sites.
Mainstream newspapers and online liberal “news” sources appear content to continue to play the “race card” and paint conservatives as obsessed about ACORN because ACORN purported to help the poor. ACORN may be Teflon as long as Obama is in the White House. Charges of tax evasion, child prostitution, voter registration fraud, illegal immigration, bank fraud, etc. may not stick to ACORN.
With 2010 rapidly approaching, a look at ACORN’s cookie cutter statements on its voter programs tells us what ACORN plans for America.
Fortunately, Big Government caught one of those “highly trained” ACORN organizers on tape. How many more “bad apples” does it take before it is generally realized that ACORN itself is rotten to the core?
Posted by: Mike’s America @ 9:43 pm Novmber 13, 2009
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed always wanted a show trial in New York!
When the CIA captured arch terrorist KSM in Pakistan in 2003 he refused to talk when questioned. “I’ll talk to you guys after I get to New York and see my lawyer,” he said, according to former CIA Director George Tenet. He must have been really shocked when instead he was stripped naked in a secret CIA prison and waterboarded before ultimately being bundled off to Guantanamo Bay.
But it looks like now he will get his fondest wish for a big propaganda show in New York. Unlike the Bush Administration which determined to keep these monsters isolated at Gitmo, the Obama Administration is bending over backwards to grant KSM the rights he never extended to any of his victims.
This is the man who beheaded Daniel Pearl with a dull knife as he screamed. This is the man who masterminded the September 11th attacks and who was in the process of planning additional attacks. This is the man who the Obama Administration is now conferring with the Constitutional rights of a U.S. citizen by putting him on trial in a civilian court in New York!
The Obama’s Administration has now placed an even larger target on the back of New York City. It threw away years of patient legal foundations for military tribunals laid by the Bush Administration in concert with the U.S. Congress and Supreme Court. It has undertaken a process in which the CIA will be on trial, not KSM.
In short, it will be a farce, but a dangerous and expensive one.
Former Attorney General Mukasey addressed the Federalist Society on Friday:
Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who as a judge presided over a trial stemming from the first attack on the World Trade Center, on Friday warned that the Obama administration’s decision to bring Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to New York, along with three other terrorist detainees, to stand trial in a civilian court, reflected a pre-9/11 mindset that viewed terrorism as a simple criminal matter.
Speaking at the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention, Mukasey described the move, as “a decision I consider not only unwise, but based on a refusal to face the fact that what we are involved with here is a war with people who follow a religiously-based ideology that calls on them to kill us, and to return instead to the mindset that prevailed before Sept. 11 that acts like the first World Trade Center bombing, the attacks on our embassies in Africa and other such acts can and should be treated as conventional crimes and tried in conventional courts.”
He noted that Congress already authorized the trial of detainees through military commissions, and that those trials would have already been underway.
“Now, that procedure is to be short-circuited — actually, long-circuited would be more accurate — so that they could be brought to this country and tried in a civilian court,” he said. “We should all be aware that those cases which were scheduled to have already begun now have to start from scratch.”
The difficulty of trying terror suspects through civilian courts, he said, is that the discovery process, the public presentation of evidence, and other elements of a trial “could turn a criminal proceeding into a cornucopia of information for those still at large and a circus for those in custody.”
He pointed out that when capturing the enemy combatants, pieces of information “were not gathered, nor was evidence gathered, on the assumption that they would be presented in a federal court.”
He later added that, “to the extent that they are within prisons, they are a threat there as well. Any of these people would be a virtually totemic figure in a prison.” He argued that “shoe bomber” Richard Reid’s success in challenging his solitary confinement shows that there’s no guarantee that convicted terrorists would stay isolated from the rest of the prison population.
Asked about Attorney General Eric Holder’s statement that he was confident that the defendents wouldn’t be able to get off on a legal technicality, Mukasey replied that while he doesn’t have access to the same information as Holder, “Betting the farm on the outcome of that process always involves risk.”
To see part one of this interview, click here.
Meanwhile, in the wake of Obama’s inability to “connect the dots” and call Nidal Hasan’s murder of 13 soldiers at Fort Hood a “terrorist” attack, we see new evidence here the the Obama Administration, from top to bottom, refuses to recognize that terrorists are at war with us. Returning to a September 10th mindset and treating these as criminal matters will not make us more respected around the world. Nor will it make us safer!