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Inside the Beltway: Here comes the church vote

- The Washington Times - Monday, August 5, 2013

There is an emerging voter demographic for Democrats to ponder, one that gathers on Sunday with good cheer and deep thoughts: motivated and engaged churchgoers. Consider that 97 percent of theologically conservative pastors are registered voters, and the vast majority are Republicans.

"Church-going people can expect to hear encouragement from conservative pastors to get involved in the upcoming mid-term elections," reports the Center for the Study of American Culture and Faith, a nonprofit research group that surveyed 413 conservative clergy and found that two-thirds say they plan to encourage their flock to get out and vote in 2014.

"It is likely that most pastors will personally model the kind of behavior they are encouraging from their flocks. The survey discovered that 97 percent of theologically conservative pastors are currently registered to vote," the study says. "Two-thirds of them are registered as Republicans, with smaller proportions registered as independent voters (15 percent), Democrats (6 percent), or aligned with other political parties (7 percent)."

JUST SAY NYET

A dozen senators are not happy with a recent $572 million Defense Department contract with Rosoboronexport, a Moscow-based military-aircraft manufacturer that will now supply 30 helicopters destined for Afghanistan.

Led by Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, the group has sent a terse letter to Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, advising the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that while the Russian company "receives huge payments from DoD, it also continues to serve as a key enabler of atrocities in Syria, transferring weapons and ammunition to prop up the bloodthirsty regime of Bashar al-Assad."

The signers also include Republicans Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Mark Kirk of Illinois, John Boozman of Arkansas, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Roger F. Wicker of Mississippi and David Vitter of Louisiana. The Democrats who signed the letter are Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska, Richard Blumenthal and Christopher Murphy of Connecticut, Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York and Ron Wyden of Oregon.

"While DoD's relationship with this firm is troubling on many levels, the prospect that American taxpayers have been made into unwitting victims of Russian corruption demands special scrutiny," the letter states.

"We are concerned by DoD's apparent failure to consider the strategic implications of sourcing mission-critical military equipment from a potentially hostile power such as Russia," the letter continues. "DoD's preference for Russian helicopters will also make it highly difficult to achieve robust interoperability between the U.S. and Afghan helicopter fleets, which is in the long-term interests of both nations. These problems are self-inflicted, and this policy is extremely shortsighted."

AND IN SUMMATION

"For the record, @BarackObama — when you're forced to close a record amount of embassies, your enemy isn't 'on the run,' you are."

— Best-selling political thriller author Brad Thor, in a tweet on Monday.

PRIEBUS AND THE PETITION

First came loud complaints Monday from Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus to CNN and NBC, advising them to cancel to broadcast splashy documentaries on Hillary Rodham Clinton, possibly to air just as the 2016 presidential campaign roars to life. Broadcast the films and forget Republican participation in future candidate debates, Mr. Priebus cautioned the networks in a pair of stern letters.

Now comes the petition so that everyone else can weigh in.

"CNN and NBC have both announced programming promoting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ahead of her likely presidential campaign in 2016. These are clearly major networks' thinly-veiled attempt at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election. This is wrong, and the Republican National Committee will not stand for it," states the online missive from the committee, directed to red-blooded Republicans who agree.

"If both networks continue to move forward with these projects, Chairman Priebus is prepared to seek a binding vote stating that the RNC will neither partner with these networks in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates they sponsor."

CNN and NBC have both responded to Mr. Priebus. And now, analysts are having a turn.

"Reforming the primary debate process has been a central component of the RNC's 2012 'autopsy', with party officials trying to restrict the number of debates and screen out unfriendly debate moderators," says Time magazine political columnist Zeke Miller. "But the effort to cut back on the number of debates has run into headwinds from Republican state parties in early states, who in many instances see revenue from co-hosting the debates and associated events To date that provision has not caught on. But Priebus' letter is designed to make that easier when the Republican National Committee meets in Boston next week to discuss the debate schedule, according to one member of the Republican National Committee."

DON'T WANT TO BE LIKE WENDY

Pro-choice activist and exuberant Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis of Texas got a showcase at the National Press Club on Monday, prompting observers to conclude that she has her eye on the national limelight and a gubernatorial run in the Lone Star State. Some speculated she even pined to be groomed as a vice presidential hopeful, paired with the aforementioned Hillary Rodham Clinton as the Democrat's best hope for 2016, should that equation.

All of the fuss does not much register with Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a group that supports pro-life political candidates.

She wonders how Ms. Davis can claim that her views on abortion are shared by a majority of American women when five major polls conducted in recent weeks show that women nationwide support limiting abortion. The majority of women disagree with the state senator, Mrs. Dannenfelser says.

Significant surveys from Quinnipiac University, National Journal, Huffington Post, NBC/Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post/ABC News all found that a plurality or majority of Americans support limiting abortion after 20 weeks gestation, and that women support the measure in higher numbers than men, Mrs. Dannenfelser points out.

POLL DU JOUR

91 percent of Americans give a negative review of the job the U.S. Congress is doing; 95 percent of Republicans, 93 percent of conservatives, 86 percent of Democrats and 92 percent of liberals agree.

61 percent of Americans overall give President Obama a negative job review; 93 percent of Republicans, 88 percent of conservatives, 28 percent of Democrats and 31 percent of liberals agree.

56 percent overall give Republicans in Congress a negative job review.

53 percent give House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi a negative review.

51 percent give Democrats in Congress a negative review.

51 percent give House Speaker John A. Boehner a negative review.

34 percent overall say the U.S. is headed in "the right direction."

Source: A Harris Poll of 2,242 U.S. adults conducted July 17 to 22 and released Friday.

Polite applause, complaints, press releases to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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