Inside the Beltway: Republicans for the little guy

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The Grand Old Party is still sorting out a strategy as the 2014 midterm elections loom on a not-so-distant horizon; keep in mind that the new year dawns in a mere 14 days. That’s about 336 hours away, folks.

And here is the script at this point: Republicans pine for unity and an authentic message that is good for the long march. They hope to prove they are a powerful, canny, loyal old dog with institutional knowledge and some very new tricks. The GOP also ponders proverbial big-tent thinking and seeks new standard-bearers, though the party still guards the family jewels. They are ready to walk softly and surely, and carry a big stick.

And here’s one more thought: “re-branding the GOP from the party of big business to the party of the little guy,” suggests John Fonte, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a National Review contributor.

Barack Obama’s most effective campaign argument in 2012 was that Mitt Romney represented corporate America while the president and his party were fighting for ordinary Americans,” Mr. Fonte says.

“Business leaders and conservatives often join forces for pragmatic gain on significant issues such as Obamacare, taxes, trade policy, cap-and-trade proposals, and other environmental and government regulations. This issue-by-issue alliance is tactically useful to both groups and no doubt will — and should — continue,” he observes.

“Republicans as a party, however, and conservatives specifically, should not be subservient to corporate interests on core issues. The American electorate must come to view Republicans as the party of the middle class rather than the courtiers of big business. The GOP brand must change,” Mr. Fonte adds.

THE HILLARY FLIGHT PLAN

“Fundraising activity and personnel shifts at two super PACs backing Hillary Clinton for a 2016 presidential run appear to be heating up — though Clinton still hasn’t announced whether or not she’ll run for office in 2016,” says Brandon Conradis, an analyst with the Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets, which tracks political fundraising.

Ready for Hillary, the splashy undertaking founded by former advisers to Mrs. Clinton, has raised $1.3 million over the past year, and counts the Soros Fund Management — chaired by billionaire philanthropist George Soros — and Wells Fargo Advisors among its biggest contributors, Mr. Conradis says.

“Some of the top donors to Ready for Hillary have also been major bundlers for President Obama, including ACORN International co-founder Robert Roche and attorney Dan Berger,” he notes. Priorities USA Action is also emerging a major support for the potential candidate; the group was the main super PAC backing President Obama’s re-election bid.”

And the major takeaway?

“Both groups are starting to draw on Obama’s key fundraisers for support,” Mr. Conradis notes.

FOOD POLICE PERUSE CHRISTMAS DINNER

Sh-h-h. Don’t tell New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. The overseas food police have examined Britain’s traditional Christmas dinner and declared it to be the unhealthiest in all of Europe.

The Brits’ hearty meal consists of fare that also appears on American holiday menus: turkey, roast beef, stuffing, pies. But alas, it also ranks dead last on a list of 20 menus ranked best to worst: The average Christmas diner in jolly old England will tuck into 7,000 calories, 69 grams of fat and 211 grams of carbohydrates, according to Lifesum, a Swedish group that manufactures weight loss apps. France, which leans toward roast chicken and salmon, is in first place, followed by the Czech Republic, where fish soup and cold potato salad are prized.

Meanwhile, the Atlanta-based Calorie Control Council proclaims that the typical American holiday dinner weighs in with 4,500 calories, with a behemoth 229 grams of fat. “The average person may consume enough fat at a holiday meal to equal three sticks of butter,” the council says.

Christmas dinner is also equal to eating seven Whoppers at Burger King or 9 extra-large orders of french fries at McDonalds, this according to Frances Largeman-Roth, a dietitian and cookbook author.

Like we said, don’t tell Mayor Bloomberg.

CAR SALESMEN MORE TRUSTED THAN CONGRESS

It’s official: ethical standards differ between Republicans and Democrats. An unusual Gallup poll asked respondents to rank the honesty and ethics of 22 professions; the findings reveal that party identification even influences one’s sense of trust, the pollster says.

For example, 68 percent of Republicans give “high or very high” ethical and honesty ratings to police officers, compared with 44 percent of Democrats. About 63 percent of Republicans give winning marks to clergy; 40 percent of the Democrats agree. Both parties offer applause to nurses, doctors, pharmacists and grade-school teachers.

Denizens of the political world irked both parties, however. Five percent of Republicans and 8 percent of Democrats said the members of Congress had good ethics and honesty. Car salesmen, incidentally, did better overall, trusted by 9 percent of the GOP and the same 8 percent of the Democrats. Moving right along, a mere 4 percent of Republicans and 11 percent of the Democrats said the same about lobbyists.

Gallup analyst Jeffrey Jones says such ratings are influenced by stereotypes and real-world experience. “A third important source are news stories, particularly scandals, involving certain professions,” he notes. Yes, well. Journalists did not do well in this survey. Fifteen percent of the Republicans and 25 percent of the Democrats said TV and print media were ethical and honest.

“Americans’ political and ideological beliefs also appear to color their opinions,” Mr. Jones says. “Certainly Republicans’ tendency to be more religious is a key factor in their more positive ratings of clergy, and Democrats’ generally higher trust in the news media is a factor in their ratings of news reporters.”

LIVE FREE, EAT WHATEVER

“The American people do not want to be nannied,” declares a Reason Rupe poll. And here are their numbers: 76 percent oppose federal, state or local governmental bans on energy drinks, 71 percent oppose bans on foods with trans-fats. Two-thirds are annoyed with bans on violent video games and online poker while six out of 10 say use of e-cigarettes in public places should not be on the banned list, either.

“The one item Reason-Rupe asked about that the public wants to ban is printing 3D guns. Six in 10 Americans think printing working 3D guns should be prohibited, while 30 percent say it should be allowed,” the pollsters say.

POLL DU JOUR

74 percent of Americans believe in God; 87 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of Democrats agree.

72 percent overall believe in miracles; 83 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of Democrats agree.

68 percent overall believe in heaven; 80 percent of Republicans and 66 percent of Democrats agree.

68 percent overall say Jesus is God, or the son of God; 83 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of Democrats agree.

68 percent overall believe in angels; 77 percent of Republicans and 66 percent of Democrats agree.

65 percent overall believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ; 80 percent of Republicans and 60 percent of Democrats agree.

57 percent overall believe in the virgin birth; 72 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Harris Poll of 2,250 U.S. adults conducted Nov. 13-18 and released Monday.

Ultimate truths, small fibs, palindromes to jharper@ washingtontimes.com.

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