- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Republican presidential primary debates are getting significant new input from the conservative realm. In a hybrid partnership with CNN, three of the dozen sanctioned GOP debates also will be aired by the Salem Media Group, the nation’s largest provider of Christian and family-themed content with conservative values. The organization boasts a bodacious stable of syndicated talk radio hosts that includes William Bennett, Michael Medved and Dennis Prager. But it is veteran newsman Hugh Hewitt who has emerged as the pointman here. He’ll serve on a question-and-answer panel come September, when the Republicans hopefuls gather to squabble and posture before a pivotal audience at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. Mr. Hewitt will also broadcast special editions of his program pre- and post-debate; candidates will be invited to “talk candidly” about the event, issues and anything else.

“When we set out to improve the debates, I promised conservative media would be part of the process. Salem will help the Republican Party have meaningful debates about new ideas for the future, while Democrats simply coronate Hillary Clinton,” says Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus.

Indeed, Salem could be a very sturdy ally to the Grand Old Party; the company has a dedicated, national following for aggressive but optimistic online content and traditional print products covering faith, wellness, finances and church life. They own Regnery Publishing, home to authors Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich and Michelle Malkin. Meanwhile, the Salem Radio Network has 2,400 affiliates; the company also owns and operates 106 radio stations. Their conservative news and opinion websites include Townhall.com, HotAir.com, Twitchy, RedState.com and HumanEvents.com. The debate partnership appears to be a happy match.

“I am confident that both the access to our audiences and the incorporation of Salem talent will make the debates more accessible for the American electorate,” says David Santrella, president of broadcast media at Salem.

“Good questions will allow Republican primary voters the opportunity to see and hear their would-be nominees provide answers to issues that genuinely concern them,” says Mr. Hewitt, who has a knack for authentic insight and snappy conversation.

AMERICA’S GUMPTION KICKS IN


SEE ALSO: Jeb Bush to audition at CPAC for conservatives wary of his GOP establishment ties


“The public has grown more supportive of the U.S. fight against the Islamic State,” says a new Pew Poll that finds 63 percent approve of the military campaign against the militants. There are some noteworthy dynamics at work, though, with strong indicators that the old hawk and dove factions are still starkly evident. In the new survey, 47 percent of Americans say “using overwhelming military force is the best way to defeat terrorism around the world.” Seventy four percent of Republicans and 30 percent of Democrats agree. Another 47 percent overall now favor the use of ground troops in Iraq or Syria; 67 percent of Republicans and 32 percent of Democrats agree.

Americans overall, meanwhile, are not keen on current efforts: 58 percent say the campaign against Islamic militants is not going well while 36 percent think things are satisfactory — numbers which have remained almost unchanged since October. And the last, and possibly most important of the findings: Six-out-of-10 Americans have faith that the campaign will succeed — a sentiment shared by both Republicans (61 percent) and Democrats (62 percent).

AN UNINTENTIONAL CREATION

“Thank the Left for presidential candidate Scott Walker,” writes Brandon Finnigan, a contributor to The Federalist. “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s recall was a deadly error for state Democrats and labor activists. It made a college dropout into a potential Republican rock star. Behold the beast the Democrats never intended to create: a thrice-elected Republican governor in a swing state with a cult following, appreciated by both the establishment of his party and the conservative base. He’s a governor with an enviable base approval rating who received an even larger share of his own party’s vote in 2014 than 2010.”

The circumstances are complicated, the poll numbers many. Essentially, Mr. Finnigan points out that a silent majority of voters was waiting for someone like Mr. Walker, and bore critical witness to his victory over a recall. Then, voila. The governor was jolted with power.

“Had the Democrats not targeted Walker with a recall, that massive fundraiser network, the national profile, the party unity, and his highly developed get-out-the-vote team almost certainly wouldn’t exist,” Mr. Finnigan says, adding that the Democrats “struck the match that ignited their own national hell.”

HILLARYISM

“There is a special spot in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

Hillary Clinton, in a speech before the Watermark Lead On Conference for Women in Santa Clara, California on Tuesday. Someone looked after Mrs. Clinton; press reports from The New York Times and other news organizations placed her speaker’s fee in a range of $230,000-$300,000.

PERTINENT HEADLINE OF NOTE

“How Elizabeth Warren might be Republicans’ best weapon against Hillary Clinton

— Headline from Washington Post political columnist Nia-Malika Henderson, who examines a new American Crossroads campaign spot that uses the Massachusetts senator’s voice “to criticize Clinton for taking money from foreign governments for her family foundation.” In the 30-second spot Mrs. Warren intones, “The power of well-funded special interests tilts our democracy away from the people and toward the powerful” while images of Mrs. Clinton come and go on screen.

American Crossroads — a super PAC which espouses pro-active conservative change — has this to say about all that: “Powerful foreign governments are ready for Hillary. Are we?”

A COAST GUARD MOMENT

“It is because of our people that the state of our Coast Guard is strong. But, I am concerned. I’m concerned that aging platforms and crumbling infrastructure continue to hinder mission success. This is not a case of neglect — the people who run our operations and mission support enterprises have demonstrated exceptional commitment and innovation to sustain a medium endurance cutter fleet that has served our Nation for more than half a century — while some of our shore infrastructure is nearing the full century mark and are on the archives of historical landmarks. We are conducting 21st century operations from veritable museums.”

— from U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft’s 2015 State of the Coast Guard Address at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, delivered in the nation’s capital on Tuesday. Read his remarks or watch the speech here: USCG.mil.

POLL DU JOUR

85 percent of Americans say they “love America”; 6 percent say they don’t.

70 percent say the U.S. is “exceptional”; 17 percent say it is not.

58 percent say former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani loves America; 10 percent say he doesn’t.

52 percent say Mr. Giuliani believes the U.S. is exceptional; 10 percent say he does not.

47 percent of Americans say President Obama loves America; 35 percent say Mr. Obama doesn’t.

36 percent say Mr. Obama believes the U.S. is exceptional; 10 percent say he does not.

Source: A YouGov poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted Feb. 20-23.

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