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During some of CNN's follow up to the potentially final Republican primary debate this Wednesday night, Anderson Cooper asked former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer what he thought about Newt Gingrich's statement during the debate that "the elite media" didn't ask President Obama about a vote he took back in 2008 as a Senator that would have made "infanticide legal."
Rather than point out, as TPM noted that Gingrich's inflammatory rhetoric was dubious at best, Fleischer decided to go on an attack of the media as well, and asked if the same sort of "hardball" questions of a similar ilk were asked of the Democratic candidates back when President Obama and Hillary Clinton were embroiled in their primary race.
Sorry Ari, but Newt didn't get a "hardball" question. Here's what John King asked Gingrich that he thought was such a tough question:
KING: Let's get right back to questioning the four contenders for the Republican nomination. We take a question now from cnnpolitics.com. You can see it up on the screen here.
Since birth control is the latest hot topic, which candidate believes in birth control, and if not, why? As you can see -- it's a -- it's a very popular question in the audience, as we can see. Look, we're not going to spend a ton of time on this but it is -- please.
So apparently asking someone whether they believe women should be allowed to use birth control in the wake of Republicans attacking women's ability to afford to have access contraception is now considered "hardball."
This coming from the same man that was overpaid by the Susan G. Komen foundation for such sage advice as their recent attack on Planned Parenthood, which somehow never seems to be a topic for discussion at CNN when they're got him on there.
Why CNN thinks any of us should care what this overpaid Bush lackey and apologist who's obviously on the wrong side of women's reproductive rights if he thinks he can make a buck off of it has to say about anything that involves women's health, ever, is beyond me, but it just looks like just more of CNN's continued move to do their best to become Fox-lite.
If nothing else, the Republican candidates' newfound insistence that they give a damn about Michigan, however shortlived it might be, is at least inadvertently pumping a little money into the state economy. The form? Super PAC ad campaigns that are saturating the state airwaves on behalf of the candidates:
?This was a windfall and it all came fast and furious once they realized the situation in Michigan and that Romney was going to have to fight for the state,? said Betsy Bard, national sales manager at the ABC and NBC network affiliates in Traverse City. ?I?m up to my eyeballs in it right now.?Hooray! We'll screw the auto industry, but at least there's good ol' fashioned propaganda dollars to be spent!
As the Bloomberg article points out, the ads are of particular benefit to stations because Super PAC ads don't follow the same rules as candidate ads, which are allowed to pay low ad rates in a passing attempt at propping up retail democracy. Nope, stations get to negotiate ad prices for Super PAC ads. But don't feel bad for the poor Super PACs: think of it as a minor tax for allowing them to lie outright, right?
You can see why states want to have their primaries as early in the campaign as possible, when the battles are fiercest and the outcomes most critical. It at least brings in press and money. For a state like Michigan that's especially critical, because they have about a week left before the entire national Republican Party forgets they exist again, go back to badgering Obama for giving a damn about their major industries, and in general treat them like dirt.
Texas Republican senate candidates Craig James, a former NFL player, and Ted Cruz went after former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert (R) for marching in a gay pride parade during a debate yesterday in an effort to portray Leppert as “pro-gay” and out of touch with conservative values. Both men pledged to stay away from gay festivities if elected and James went so far as to suggest that being gay is a choice that will be punished by God:
MODERATOR: Are you saying Mayor Leppert is in favor of gay marriage?
CRUZ: What I am saying is that when a mayor of a city chooses twice to march in a parade celebrating gay pride, that?s a statement – and it?s not a statement I agree with.
JAMES: I think right now in this country, our moral fiber is sliding down a slope that is going to be hard to stop if we don?t stand up with leaders who don?t go ride in gay parades. I can assure you I will never ride in a gay parade. And I hear what you?re saying, Tom, but leaders – our kids out there people need to see examples.
MODERATOR: Do you think people choose to be gay?
JAMES: I think it?s a choice, I do.
MODERATOR: It?s not in the genes?
JAMES: I think that you have to make that choice. But in that case right there, they are going to have to answer to the Lord for their actions. We should not give benefits to those civil unions.
Watch a news report on the debate:
Leppert explained that he opposes marriage equality, but said that as mayor, “I had the responsibility to represent everybody, but everybody understood where my faith was. I will tell my role as a Christian is to reach out and touch everybody.” Long-shot candidate Lela Pittenger added that while she “respect[s] what Tom was saying, that he felt like he was to engage the entire community,” “I?m not going to walk down the street with them celebrating what I believe to be a sin.”
John Wright of the Dallas Voice has a full video of the exchange:
ThinkProgress’ Scott Keyes spoke to former presidential candidate Rick Perry, now a Gingrich supporter, immediately after last night’s GOP presidential candidates’ debate. The Texas governor and the former speaker have long been allies in pushing some of the more unusual parts of their agendas. Most notably, Gingrich wrote an effusive forward to Perry’s book Fed Up! which argues that Medicare, Social Security and many other important programs are unconstitutional.
In his interview with Keyes, Perry expressed complete confidence that Gingrich would implement Perry’s tenther constitutional agenda if Gingrich became president:
KEYES: Are you confident that [Gingrich] will adopt those policy recommendations that you proposed [on the Tenth Amendment]?
PERRY: Oh, I am . . . . [Gingrich] doesn’t just talk about the Tenth Amendment, he believes it. And he will, without a doubt.
KEYES: Have you been advising him to adopt your policy recommendations from your book?
PERRY: I don’t need to advise him. I mean, he’s read the book and he’s there.
A group affiliated with Occupy Wall Street announced that it will host a national convention over the Fourth of July weekend in Philadelphia, bringing together 876 delegates from around the country, along the lines of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Playing on the symbolism of the date and place, the group, called the 99% Declaration Working Group, will use the event to host a national “general assembly” and to create a “petition for a redress of grievances” in the vein of the Declaration of Independence. Any U.S. voter can run to be a delegate, which will include one man and one woman from all 435 congressional districts, in addition to representatives from U.S. territories. “We feel that following the footsteps of our founding fathers is the right way to go,” an organizer told the AP.
In last night’s GOP presidential debate on CNN, moderator John King allowed a viewer to introduce a topic bedeviling U.S. foreign policy at the moment — Iran’s nuclear program. With war chatter on the rise, top U.S. officials have injected their opinions into the public debate.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said on Sunday that an Israeli attack on Iran was “not prudent at this point? and that such a strike would be ?destabilizing and wouldn?t achieve [Israel's] long-term objectives.” When King asked Newt Gingrich if, as president, he would take Dempsey’s advice, the former House Speaker dismissed the U.S.’s top military officer opinion, saying he “can’t imagine why” Dempsey holds some of his views:
GINGRICH: Well, first of all this is two different questions. General Dempsey went on to say that he thought Iran was a rational actor. I can’t imagine why he would say that. And I just cannot imagine why he would have said it. The fact is, this is a dictator, Ahmadinejad, who has said he doesn’t believe the Holocaust existed. This is a dictator who said he wants to eliminate Israel from the face of the earth. This is a dictator who said he wants to drive the United States out of the Middle East. I’m inclined to believe dictators. Now I — I think that it’s dangerous not to.
Watch a video of King’s question and Gingrich’s full answer:
Dempsey’s views track with those of the U.N. nuclear agency and reported U.S. intelligence estimates, as well as the public testimony of the top U.S. intelligence official. On Capitol HIll last month, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said of Iran’s nuclear program: “They are certainly moving on that path, but we don’t believe they’ve actually made the decision to go ahead with a nuclear weapon.”
Not only does Gingrich dismiss the opinion of the top American military officer, but he also badly misstates Iranian political dynamics. On NPR this morning, Mehdi Khalaji — an actual Iran expert with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy — pointed out that Iran’s actual dictator is not President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Instead, Iran is lead by a Supreme Leader, who holds the office for life and makes many of the state’s final decisions. Khalaji said:
The main decision maker on crucial issues, including the nuclear program, is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader. … We have to bear in mind that he’s not only Iran’s supreme leader, he’s the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
Khalaji’s latter comment means that Ahmadinejad cannot start a war — with Israel or anybody else — and that responsibility rests instead with the Supreme Leader.
If Gingrich wants to “listen to dictators” in order to justify his hawkish views, he should be free to do so. But it’s disconcerting that he doesn’t even know who the dictator is that he should be listening to.
Elaine Donnelly of the self-run Center for Military Readiness apparently has nothing better to do than continue opposing the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell months after it took effect. Supported by the Catholic Thomas More Law Center, she has filed a federal Freedom of Information Act suit against the Navy, alleging that it distorted the figures from its study to make it look like more of the armed forces supported repeal. Her objection? That those who responded that ending DADT would have a “mixed” result or “no effect” were counted among those who felt it would have “a neutral or positive impact.” In other words, she’s suing because the Pentagon added up numbers to categorize servicemembers who felt neutral about the implications of repeal as “neutral.” Even if the suit is found to have an ounce of merit, it will not have any impact on the law’s repeal.
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