- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wearing a sincere grin and maybe a carefully ironed plaid shirt, Scott Brown will announce his intent to run for the U.S. Senate seat in New Hampshire at dusk on Thursday. He’s already cultivating the image of a tough politician with a heart of gold, and plans a very public declaration at a seaside inn in historic Portsmouth. New Hampshire Democrats have been laying in wait for some time for this moment to come. They relish it, in fact, and have already scheduled a press conference with state House Speaker Terie Norelli and other officials to “outline why Scott Brown is wrong for New Hampshire.”

Mr. Brown is poised for combat as well, and has some reinforcements handy. He’ll appear with Sen. Rand Paul at a private Republican fundraiser in nearby Hampton Falls on Friday. The Kentucky Republican has as much on his agenda as Mr. Brown.

Looming large on Saturday: Citizens United and Americans for Prosperity Foundation are staging a bodacious grassroots “Freedom Summit” for the locals in bustling Manchester, complete with a cast of heavyweight talent. Joining Mr. Paul on the podium: Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and the ever-ready Donald Trump, who cordially points out that this is his second visit to New Hampshire this year.

MCCAINERIE

“My hero Teddy Roosevelt used to say talk softly and carry a big stick. What you’re doing is talking strongly and carrying a very small stick. In fact, a twig.”

— Sen. John McCain to Secretary of State John Kerry, during a Senate Foreign Relations hearing on Tuesday.

VOTERS SAMPLE THE APPETIZER TRAY

Another day, another poll indicating that at this point, more than two years from the presidential election, Democrats would vote for Hillary Clinton for president while Republicans are lingering wide-eyed over their many choices. Which is not a bad thing.

A survey by Suffolk University of likely Iowa voters finds that 63 percent of Democratic caucus-goers would vote for the former secretary of state, while 12 percent chose Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and 10 percent back Vice President Joe Biden. But on to the GOP array, which has a little something for everybody.

The survey found that likely Republican voters’ favorite was Mike Huckabee, who garnered at 11 percent of the vote. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush took 10 percent each, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Ben Carson each won 9 percent, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie 7 percent. Six others were tied with 6 percent each: Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sarah Palin, Condoleezza Rice and Rick Santorum.

COLLATERAL DAMAGE

OK, so Comcast wants to buy out Time Warner Cable for $45 million. Should anyone get excited about this? Yes, says a certain Republican from Utah. Liberal bias lurks.

“A complicating factor arises given that Comcast owns NBC Universal,” warns Sen. Mike Lee. “Considering the significant share of the video and Internet market that the new Comcast would have, and considering the well-known political leanings of NBC, I’ve heard concerns that Comcast might have the incentive and the ability to discriminate against certain political content, including, for example, conservative political content.”

MONEY TALKS

Behold, it’s a mighty fat wallet for the Republican National Committee, which raised $25.2 million in the first quarter of 2014, bringing the total so far this cycle to $105.9 million, with a tidy $12.3 million cash on hand.

“The momentum is on the Republican side because Republicans are on the side of the American people. Voters are frustrated with Obamacare and angry about the Democrat politicians who lied to them about it” says RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.

REPUBLICANS INCHING AWAY?

Learning to live with the Affordable Care Act is a lot of little things, apparently.

House Republicans are quietly giving in to Obamacare,” says Salon political writer Brian Beutler, who cites GOP tussles over the health care law as evidence. He cites GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s efforts to protect Medicare physicians’ payments as well as legislative tweaks that could guard the interests of Christian Scientists and volunteer firefighters.

“None of these modifications will substantially change the ACA’s architecture or even smooth its roughest edges. But they badly undermine longer-standing Republican claims that the law is beyond fixing,” Mr. Beutler observes. “It’s easy to see how the slow roll of these minor changes might snowball into something larger and more undisguised over time. … But conservative hard-liners aren’t ready to give up the ghost just yet.”

Obamacare could still be repealed under stringent conditions.

“The health care law will undoubtedly be debated over the course of this year’s midterm elections that could leave the Republican Party in control of both houses of Congress,” said Frank Newport, director of the Gallup Poll. “But unless the GOP is able to obtain a difficult two-thirds majority in the House and the Senate, efforts to repeal or drastically alter the law will likely be unsuccessful at least through the 2016 presidential election, ensuring it remains a political football for the next few years.”

PERRY-FIED

In the frantic political marketplace, there is real appeal in a politician who actually does something, rather than prattle on about his intent to act. An example? Rep. Paul Ryan recently threw down his budget proposal before Congress which critics deemed flawed. But it was, well, something. Such is also the case with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose cachet as a presidential possibility is again on the rise.

“Perry’s number one accomplishment is job creation, something he has achieved through what would seem to be the most obvious of means — lower taxes and fewer regulations — not that that seems to get through a single liberal brain in America, including President Obama’s,” says Roger L. Simon, founder of PJ Media.

“Nevertheless, most Republican candidates are sure to mouth that twin mantra in the coming election. What makes Perry different is that he has walked the walk successfully on this for a long time. He’s tested,” Mr. Simon continues.

“My principal reason for giving him that long second look is that he seems, at this juncture, the most viable of the possibilities in the room,” Mr. Simon notes, adding, “More than ever we need a strong leader who can project a strong image abroad to the Vladimir Putins, Saudis, mullahs, etcetera. I believe Perry could do that.”

POLL DU JOUR

57 percent of New Jersey voters say that Gov. Chris Christie “would not make a good president”; 27 percent of Republicans, 83 percent of Democrats and 49 percent of independents agree.

52 percent overall say that Mr. Christie should not run for president in 2016; 30 percent of Republicans, 69 percent of Democrats and 46 percent of independents agree.

49 percent overall approve of the job Mr. Christie is doing; 82 percent of Republicans, 23 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of independents agree.

43 percent overall say Mr. Christie should make a run for the White House; 65 percent of Republicans, 24 percent of Democrats and 50 percent of independents agree.

Source: A Quinnipiac University poll of 1,356 New Jersey voters conducted April 2-7.

Murmurs and asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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