Tuesday is a big moment for 28 serious presidential hopefuls from 16 different states who gather for the New Hampshire Institute of Politics’ lesser-known candidate forum, an event the academic institution has organized during every presidential election since 1972. C-SPAN will cover it all beginning at 6 p.m. EST, showcasing authentic grass-roots politics moderated by Mike Memoli, who covers the White House for the Los Angeles Times.
“This fascinating event is an important part of the tradition of the first-in-the-nation primary. We have many candidates on the ballot, and this is their chance to talk directly with New Hampshire,” Neil Levesque, director of the host institute, tells Inside the Beltway.
Though bodacious political theater is rampant during the 2016 election, there are limits. The hopefuls will have their say — all except one. That would be perennial candidate Vermin Supreme, a self-described anarchist and hirsute performance artist who wears a rubber boot on his head and advocates regular toothbrushing and a free pony for every American.
Alas, Mr. Supreme was not invited back to the forum this year. During the 2011 event he tossed handfuls of glitter over several other lesser-knowns, including pro-life advocate Randall Terry. Management was not amused; there was a cleaning bill.
Mr. Supreme, however, carries on, making campaign appearances and staging a town hall in the ancient barn of a local New Hampshire farm. He was accompanied by two diminutive ponies, both wearing red, white and blue bandannas, and one sporting a red sequin top hat. Mr. Supreme introduced himself as “your friendly fascist” and advised the crowd to “vote early and vote often.”
But he won’t get his moment in the spotlight within the hall Tuesday night, or the high-profile exposure C-SPAN provides. But so be it. Banned from both the stage and a seat in the audience during Tuesday’s forum, the candidate plans a demonstration outside the venue nevertheless, complete with his new campaign slogan: “Feel the Verm.” Find a video of his recent pony appearance here
HILLARY CLINTON, QUEEN OF TAXES
Free college, improvements on “infrastructure.” Yes, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has proposed all sorts of feel-good ideas for the nation.
But wait, someone has sat down and done all the math on Mrs. Clinton’s ideas to discover that her proposals will cost at least $1.1 trillion in higher taxes on American families and businesses over the next decade. The watchdog group Americans for Tax Reform waded through the Clinton campaign’s published policy documents, and here is the breakdown:
The “New College Compact” to cut higher education costs is actually a $350 billion income tax increase. To better the nation’s “infrastructure,” the campaign calls for a $275 billion business tax increase. And to restore “basic fairness to our tax code,” Mrs. Clinton is calling for a $400 billion tax increase.
“Because her campaign has failed to release specific details for many of her proposals, the true figure is likely much, much higher than $1.125 trillion,” they add. See all this and more at HighTaxHillary.com.
THE FRETTING PUBLIC
“Americans’ satisfaction with the nation’s security from terrorism has significantly eroded for the second year in a row, with a majority now saying they are dissatisfied. More than two-thirds, 69 percent, said in 2014 that they were satisfied with the nation’s security from terrorism, but that figure dropped to 59 percent a year ago and now has fallen to 43 percent,” writes Gallup analyst Jim Norman, who also notes that only 24 percent of both Republicans and conservatives are now satisfied, compared with 56 percent of liberals and 51 percent of Democrats.
Scores of books about Republican front-runner Donald Trump have been published, either condemning or applauding his place in the political pantheon. The book of the day to consider: “What America Needs: The Case for Trump,” by Jeffrey Lord, contributor to both The American Spectator and CNN, and a former member of the Reagan administration. The book was published Monday by Regnery.
“When Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign, the media treated him like a joke. The Republican establishment treated him like an inconvenience. But at campaign stop after campaign stop, month after month, Donald Trump has drawn astonishing crowds of supporters. With less than two weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses, Trump is the front leader for the Republican nomination. Why? What do millions of American voters see in the bombastic billionaire?” the author asks.
It’s simple, he says. “Donald Trump is exactly what America needs right now,” Mr. Lord declares, calling the candidate “one of the most startling phenomena in American electoral history.”
IT’S JUST DOWN THE HALL
A moment between rivals, perhaps. Republican hopeful Gov. Chris Christie has this to say about fellow candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, who is particularly critical of Mr. Christie’s apparent support of Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor.
“What Senator Rubio is doing is what senators do all the time,” Mr. Christie told Fox News Channel’s “America’s Newsroom” on Monday. “They talk and talk and obfuscate and make sure people don’t understand the full context of things, because they don’t have to be held accountable for anything. That’s the difference between senators and governors. This is a first-term senator who’s still learning where the men’s room is in the Senate.”
POLL DU JOUR
• 66 percent of Americans say government efforts to enforce marijuana laws “cost more than they are worth”; 55 percent of Republicans, 70 percent of independents and 69 percent of Democrats agree.
• 62 percent overall say the government should not enforce federal marijuana laws in states that allow marijuana use; 53 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of independents an 67 percent of Democrats agree.
• 52 percent overall say the use of marijuana should be legalized; 36 percent of Republicans, 51 percent of independents and 66 percent of Democrats agree.
• 34 percent overall say the use of marijuana should not be legalized; 50 percent of Republicans, 34 percent of independents and 24 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: A YouGov poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 16-17 and released Friday.
• Exasperation, glee to email@example.com