- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 3, 2016

Some presidential campaigns raffle off lunch with the candidate, or maybe an autographed book. Others have a more gutsy outreach. Republican hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz is offering a custom shotgun as a premium for one lucky fan — an interesting choice now that President Obama has proclaimed gun control as one of the pillars of his agenda before he leaves office.

Mr. Cruz’s prize is an American-made Remington 11-87 12-gauge shotgun engraved with his own flamelike logo — no contributions to the campaign are involved. It all makes sense, though.

“Cruz has been a strong advocate for Second Amendment rights as a U.S. Senator, and he will continue to defend our gun rights from the Oval Office,” says Tim Macy, chairman of Gun Owners of America, which has endorsed the White House hopeful, an avid hunter who includes a dozen camouflage items in his campaign shop.

Mr. Cruz embarks Monday on a “Cruzin’ to Caucus” tour of Iowa that includes stops at sport shops, church halls, country stores and eateries. It was not so long ago that he bagged two birds during a pheasant shoot on a gaming preserve in the Hawkeye State hosted by Rep. Steve King, a GOP stalwart who also endorsed Mr. Cruz.

Media follies and presidential debates — which crank up again next week — were not far from the candidate’s mind.

“How about a Republican primary moderated by Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin? Now, I guarantee you would get incredible ratings for that,” Mr. Cruz told his host.

RAGE, ANGER, ETCETERA

Behold, it’s “The American Rage Quiz,” a public survey conducted by Esquire magazine and NBC News to gauge the outrage among Americans as they confront politics, media and cultural challenges.

“Seventy-three percent of whites say they get angry at least once a day, as compared with 56 percent of blacks and 66 percent of Hispanics,” the poll states. “77 percent of Republicans get angry at least once a day, as compared with 67 percent of Democrats. “The middle of the middle class” is the angriest.

Find more numbers in the Poll du Jour at column’s end. And something to keep in mind: Outrage can also be a marketing device. The clever news media often maneuver viewers and readers into outrage as a way to rivet both their interest and patronage. Pick your battles — and your outrage — carefully.

THE PRESIDENT TAKES AIM

President Obama is ready to rumble over the Second Amendment. He meets with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and FBI Director James B. Comey to discuss “what executive actions he can take to curb gun violence,” the White House said.

On Thursday, Mr. Obama joins CNN host Anderson Cooper for a live one-hour “Guns in America” town hall, the discussion a likely dress rehearsal for the president’s final State of the Union address Jan. 12. The program airs on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the Arizona shooting that killed six and gravely wounded then-Rep. Gabby Giffords and a dozen others.

“The gun lobby is loud and well-organized in its defense of effortlessly available guns for anyone,” Mr. Obama advised during his weekend radio address. “The rest of us are going to have to be just as passionate and well-organized.”

JUST A THOUGHT PERHAPS

“Hillary said that guns don’t keep you safe. If she really believes that she should demand that her heavily armed bodyguards quickly disarm.”

— Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s advice to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, in a tweet Sunday

HUCKABEE TAKES A STAND

The tenacious Mike Huckabee will hold 25 campaign events in Iowa this week, with 10 on Monday alone. The Republican presidential hopeful will not give up his quest for the White House.

“Conservatives are being asked to coalesce around a corporately funded candidate with no record of accomplishment and abandon their principles, but I will continue my fight to put Americans first. It all boils down to Iowa, and the people of Iowa are not for sale,” says Mr. Huckabee.

STILL VIGILANT ON BENGHAZI

“The Select Committee on Benghazi has interviewed 64 witnesses, many of whom had never been interviewed by a congressional committee. We are on track to complete more than 70 witness interviews before releasing the final report. In early 2016, the Committee will conduct private interviews with General David Petraeus, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Secretary Leon Panetta, former Secretary of Defense,” reports Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the committee, in an overview of upcoming plans.

“Additionally, the Select Committee has obtained and reviewed roughly 100,000 pages of documents, most of them never before seen by any congressional committee, and is also the first and only Benghazi investigation to include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails, and the first to request Ambassador Chris Stevens‘ emails.”

The investigators are still waiting to receive information “from the White House, State Department and the CIA,” Mr. Gowdy notes. Combined with insight from upcoming witness interviews, the committee will release a final, definitive report and recommendations “within the next few months.”

POLL DU JOUR

54 percent of Americans say the U.S. was once the most powerful country in the world but isn’t anymore; 41 percent say it remains the most powerful country.

52 percent say the American dream does not “hold true” anymore; 36 percent say it does, 11 percent say it never held true.

49 percent say they get angry more often than they did a year ago; 42 percent say their anger level is the same, 8 percent say they are angry less often.

37 percent say they are angry “once a day,” 31 percent say they are angry “a few times a day,” 20 percent say once a week.

48 percent say race relations have become worse since President Obama was elected; 39 percent say they have stayed the same, 12 percent say they are better.

Source: An NBC News/Esquire poll of 3,257 U.S. adults conducted Nov. 20-24 and released Sunday.

Calm observation, lucid commentary to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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