- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 17, 2015

Maybe they should charter a plane together. Fresh from a marathon debate that drew catcalls, praise, criticism and bombastic pronouncements from friends and foes alike, the GOP presidential hopefuls will soon be on the same stage together. Again. Such is the nature of the never-ending campaign, a full 14 months before election day even dawns - though some observers are saying they are developing an early case of debate fatigue. On Friday, 11 hopefuls showed up at the Heritage Action’s Take Back America Forum in Greenville, South Carolina — hosted by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham and Jim DeMint, former senator and president of the Heritage Foundation. Mr. DeMint describes the forum as “a definitive event for conservative activists.”

On hand for the big doings, which lasted six hours: Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush; Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul; Carly Fiorina; Govs. Scott Walker, Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal plus Rick Santorum. Each candidate, Mr. Needham says, will have 25 minutes on the podium to answer some strategic questions.

“Voters saw glimmers of a policy debate,” says Mr. Needham. “Friday’s forum gave the candidates an opportunity to truly articulate their vision for America, and how they would make Washington work for hardworking Americans and not the well-connected special interests.”

But Iowa is also calling.

The sold-out Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “fall family banquet” and presidential forum gets underway Saturday evening at the state fairgrounds in Des Moines, attracting the aforementioned Mssrs. Trump, Cruz, Walker, Jindal, and Santorum plus Mike Huckabee, Sen. Lindsey Graham and George Pataki. “As in the last presidential caucus cycle, Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition serves a vital role in helping inform and mobilize faith-based voters,” the organizers say.



Oh, but it’s complicated. Mr. Walker will also appear at the two-day Mackinac Island GOP Leadership Conference in Michigan — an event that also features Ms. Fiorina, Mssrs. Bush, Paul, Cruz and Gov. John Kasich. And somehow, Mr. Bush will also appear at a University of Georgia tailgate party in Athens on Saturday afternoon.

THE NOT SO BUSY DEMOCRATS

Democratic hopefuls are, well, rustling around in the next 48 hours as well. Hillary Rodham Clinton will be in Portland, Maine on Friday and New Hampshire on Saturday, where she just might run into Sen. Bernard Sanders and Martin O’Malley, both in the Granite State. All will attend the New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention in Manchester, along with sundry festivals and town halls across the state.

THE SUNDAY TALK DERBY

The busy Mrs. Clinton makes her very first appearance on the Sunday talk shows as a 2016 presidential candidate on CBS’ “Face the Nation” with John Dickerson. “She’s getting a very late start,” points out Jeffrey Meyer, a media analyst with Newsbusters.com.

“While Clinton has so far avoided interviews with the ABC, CBS, and NBC Sunday shows, 18 other presidential candidates have made a total of 106 appearances since January 1, with Sen. Bernie Sanders, topping the list with 12,” the meticulous Mr. Meyer says.

Frequency of talk show appearances does not necessarily correspond with one’s standing in the presidential field, however. Mike Huckabee is third on the list, followed by Sen. Lindsey Graham, Gov. John Kasich and Rick Perry — who’s already dropped out of the race.

GETTING RICKETY

So much for all the happy talk about the Affordable Care Act. Between the end of March and the end of June, 29 states plus the District of Columbia lost Obamacare enrollees, based on an Americans for Tax Reform analysis of recent data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In total, Obamacare exchanges had a net loss of 238,119 enrollees in the three-month period.

Enrollment across all 50 states and DC was 9.9 million as of June 31, down from 10.2 million enrollees at the end of March, the analysis notes. Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, New Jersey, Indiana and Arizona lost the most — though 20 states posted increased enrollment numbers.

In addition, another 423,000 were not legally enrolled due to failure to produce sufficient documentation proving citizenship or immigration status and were thus removed.

“The poor performance of the program is bad news for the long-term sustainability of the federal and state Obamacare exchanges given their reliance on paying enrollees to meet costs,” the analysis says.

“It all comes down to an economy of scale that just isn’t working,” says Ryan Ellis, tax policy director at Americans for Tax Reform, a nonpartisan coalition of taxpayers who oppose all tax increases.

STILL A JOKE

Despite flagging favorability numbers, Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton continues to make light of what’s now known in the press as the “email scandal.” Gallup, in fact, discovered that the public most associates her name with variations on the email theme, rather than the more noble aspects of her campaign. But still, she jokes about those old State Department emails.

“Most people have gotten bored after reading ten or twelve, because they’re boring, I mean, they’re kind of ‘What are we doing, how do we do it, when’s the meeting. Now, the most significant one that has come to light, because, you know, this was a really important issue, and I had to talk about it on the email,. And that is, I was asked if I could get gefilte fish into Israel in order for it to be used in time for Passover,” Mrs. Clinton told Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon during her appearance Wednesday night.

Headlines should read “Grandma knows how to use email,” Mr. Fallon suggested.

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE

For Sale: Redstone Castle, built on 154 acres in 1897 of hand-cut sandstone in Redstone, Colorado; 23,357 square feet. The 42-room Tudor-style mansion includes main house plus servants’ quarters, a carriage house, gazebo, four-car garage and greenhouse. Mountainside location includes 24 bedrooms, 19 bathrooms, 18-foot ceilings, soaring north tower, interior domes, wood paneling by Gustav Stickley, lighting by Louis Tiffany, gold leaf detailing, oversized original marble bath fixtures, multiple fireplaces.

Priced at $7.5 million through AspenAreaRealEstate.com; enter 139092 in MLS search function.

POLL DU JOUR

• 66 percent of Americans say people fleeing war and oppression have the right to seek refuge in other countries; 60 percent of Republicans, 59 percent of independents and 80 percent of Democrats agree.

• 66 percent of Americans overall say the “entire world” should help with the refugee crisis; 57 percent of Republicans, 61 percent of independents and 73 percent of Democrats agree.

• 52 percent overall say the U.S. should help refugees; 39 percent of Republicans, 49 percent of independents and 65 percent of Democrats agree.

• 41 percent overall say the U.S. has a “special role to play in the world” to provide a new home for refugees; 32 percent of Republicans, 35 percent of independents and 56 percent of Democrats agree.

• 40 percent overall say the U.S. does not have this role; 53 percent of Republicans, 42 percent of independents and 27 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A YouGov poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted Sept. 3-7 and released Tuesday.

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