John Kerry Won’t Rule 2020 Presidential Run In Or Out

Former Secretary of State John F. Kerry is keeping the door open to running for president in 2020, putting him on a potential collision course in a Democratic primary with fellow Bay Stater, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Kerry, who just landed a job as a professor at Yale, suggested in an interview with The New York Times that he’s at least open to considering a run for the White House in 2020.

But Kerry, who would turn 77 in 2020, might first have to knock out [Elizabeth] Warren, who is increasingly becoming the face of the Democratic opposition to President Trump. A Kerry-Warren matchup would be a Bay State political battle for the ages — but it wouldn’t be a close contest, said one political observer.

The prospect of two Massachusetts liberal pols fighting for the Democratic nomination would practically produce tears of joy for Republicans, said one GOP operative.

“This would be like the Super Bowl of cannibalization within the Democratic Party,” said strategist Ford O’Connell. “If somebody said the words ‘John Kerry’ to Donald Trump, he’d probably start laughing. ‘By all means, please, that would be very helpful.’ ”

Read more from Chris Cassidy at the Boston Herald

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Liberals Commandeering Obamacare Town Halls, Blasting GOP Plan For Repeal

Eight years after the tea party turned town hall meetings on Obamacare into hands-on melees, liberals furious with President Trump are flipping the script by shouting down Republicans who have struggled to outline better health care plans.

Police escorted Rep. Tom McClintock out of a recent event in which protesters fumed over the Californian’s support for Obamacare repeal and Mr. Trump’s travel limitations involving several Muslim-majority nations.

In Florida, Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis stood quietly as a speaker in bluejeans clutched the microphone and told him how to deal with the health care law: “keep it” and “fix it.”

And a Tennessee woman became a Twitter sensation after she tied her Christian duty to “pull up” the less fortunate to Obamacare’s mandate requiring even healthy Americans to get insured.

“When the left doesn’t get its way at the ballot box, the next step it to intimidate everyone around them until they do,” Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said. “And that is what we are seeing. Once the GOP coalesces around a plan to replace Obamacare, that is when I expect the real fireworks to start on the left.”

Read more from Tom Howell Jr. at The Washington Times

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GOP Fights ObamaCare PR War

Republicans are facing a new public relations war in their effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

The GOP Congress has repeatedly approved legislation to repeal ObamaCare, but those proposals went nowhere with President Obama in the White House.

Now that Republicans also hold the White House, the challenge for the GOP is taking the long-promised action in a way that won’t backfire politically.

And that’s turning out to be harder than many anticipated.

Polls show the public is divided on whether to repeal ObamaCare, which doesn’t make the task of unraveling one of the largest social programs passed in recent history any easier. 

“Until everyone is on the same page, it’s very hard to combat a lot of those allegations,” said Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist.

“If they’re not looking like they’re walking in a unified front and like they have the perfect solution, it’s going to be very hard to get public support on your side.”

Read more from Jessie Hellman at The Hill

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Trump Puts Mexican President In A Political Vise

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is facing tremendous pressure to take a firm stand against President Donald Trump, just a week after the new U.S. leader took office.

Trump is highly unpopular in Mexico, perceived as someone who has repeatedly insulted the country. He has done little to change that sentiment, taking a hard stance on U.S.-Mexico relations.

That's bad news for Peña Nieto, whose political fate is in the balance. 

At the center of the controversy is one of Trump's signature campaign pledges, to build a border wall paid for by Mexico.

Payment for the wall has also become a central issue in Mexico, where Trump's demand is seen as an affront to national pride and an irrational demand that the government cannot afford to comply with.

Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said Trump is unlikely to quietly let the issue go.

"The audience for this showdown is not necessarily Mexico and the U.S.," said O'Connell.

"If you listen to Trump carefully, he wants to go after countries with high trade surpluses," he added. "The people watching this are places like China."

Read more from Rafael Bernal at The Hill

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Tucker Carlson’s All The Rage On Fox News

Tucker Carlson is “killing it” on Fox News, and he’s bringing back conservative viewers who weren’t that sorry to see Megyn Kelly leave, analysts say.

Carlson took over the prime-time slot formerly held by Kelly after she announced last month she was heading to NBC News.

She left after a remarkable year when she became a star by taking on then-candidate Donald Trump. She was courted by competitors and penned a best-selling book. Fox News reportedly offered Kelly $100 million to stay. And media observers opined that her exit was a big blow to the cable channel.

But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

“Fox News’s Tucker Carlson is nearly doubling the ratings of his predecessor, Megyn Kelly, when compared to the same time period last year, according to Nielsen Media Research,” The Hill reported this week. “ ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ is up 95 percent in the 25- to 54-year-old demographic that advertisers covet most compared with the same period in 2016, when “The Kelly File” occupied the 9 p.m. ET time slot. Carlson has averaged 775,000 viewers per night in the category, while Kelly averaged 398,000 during the same time period, Jan. 11–22.”

“He’s definitely killing it,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who appears frequently on Fox News and the Fox Business Network. “He’s really just knocking it out of the park. What he’s been able to do more than anything else is tap the sentiment out there of Fox viewers while simultaneously really understanding the president and current events.”

Read more form Jessica Heslam at The Boston Herald

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Trump Tornado Hits Washington

The Trump administration's frenetic pace right out of the gate has confounded Democrats and kept the national press on its toes.

"Incredible pace of activity in the Trump White House on week one," tweeted ABC News' chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl. "When have we seen a public sked as packed as yesterday's and today's?"

Entering his first full week in office, President Trump has issued executive orders clearing the way for the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines, pushing for relief from the costs imposed by Obamacare, reinstating a ban on public funds for international organizations that perform or advocate for abortion, and freezing both new regulations and federal hiring.

Executive orders pertaining to immigration, especially the "extreme vetting" Trump promised would take place with migrants from selected countries deemed to pose a disproportionate terror risk, are expected to follow Wednesday. He's even reshaped how the White House deals with press, by calling on non-mainstream news outlets first at the daily briefing, leaving wires and major TV networks waiting their turn.

Things are moving very quickly. "It's important for Trump to throw a lot of balls in the air," said Republican strategist Ford O'Connell.

Read more from W. James Antle III at The Washington Examiner

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Trump Nominees Dodge 'Climate Denier' Charge

President Trump’s Cabinet nominees have delivered a similar refrain on climate change that could head off criticisms of the administration on the issue.

At Senate confirmation hearings in recent days, the nominees have all said that the climate is changing, and that human activity is a factor. But they say that the extent of human influence is up for study and debate, as is the discussion of what policy prescriptions might be required. 

The new refrain makes it difficult for environmentalists and Democrats to label Trump’s staffers “climate deniers,” a term they’ve used to attack politicians skeptical of climate science. 

It also leaves the Trump administration with plenty of room to maneuver. None of the nominees have endorsed any specific climate policies, and Trump is still expected to reverse most of Obama’s climate agenda.

“I think it’s extremely smart, and it denies the ‘denier’ label,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who worked on Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) 2008 presidential campaign. 

“It’s very hard for the left to mount opposition to certain policies if you continue to say, ‘we don’t think it’s a hoax,’ ” he continued. 

“It comes off as well-thought-out, because it takes some of the momentum out of the climate change folks, but also, it doesn’t lock you into any specific position as an administration.” 

Read more from Timothy Cama at The Hill

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Border Tax Criticism Clouds Reform Push

President-elect Donald Trump's criticism of a Republican tax reform plan could complicate the effort to overhaul the tax code this year. 

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Trump expressed opposition to a part of the House GOP blueprint known as “border adjustment” that would tax imports and exempt exports from the corporate tax.

Congressional supporters of the idea see it as a way to prevent companies from moving jobs to other countries. But Trump called the proposal “too complicated” and suggested that it would not be needed in addition to tax cuts.

“Under the border adjustment concept, if somebody is making a motorcycle or a plane in our country, they’re getting a credit for the plane they make before they send it over to wherever it’s going,” Trump told the Journal. “And you don’t need that plus lower taxes and everything else.”

It’s unclear how strongly Trump is against the provision.

The president-elect may feel that the border-adjustment proposal would disproportionately hurt the industries he most wants to promote, including energy, according to GOP strategist Ford O’Connell.

O’Connell said that Trump is providing a slight warning to lawmakers and hasn’t taken the border-adjustment proposal off the table, but his comments put "it at risk in the way that the House wants to craft it.”

Read more from Naomi Jagoda at The Hill

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Trump Time Starts Now

The first 100 days of Donald Trump's presidency will set the tone for the next four to eight years. Described by House Speaker Paul Ryan as a "man of action," Trump plans to hit the ground running with an ambitious reset of American trade policy and sweeping government reforms.

In addition to the new president's own policy preferences, an entire Cabinet must be confirmed. Trump has to fill a Supreme Court seat that Senate Republicans left vacant until one of their own was in the White House. And he has to hire another 4,000 people for executive branch jobs.

"It holds a lot of symbolic meaning," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said of the first 100 days. "This is the report card to show progress."

O'Connell said, "Democrats want Trump to be slimed early and often out of the gate."

Read more from W. James Antle III at The Washington Examiner

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GOP Warms Up Obamacare Repeal Before Trump Sworn In

Republicans used the first two weeks of the new Congress to pry open the door to Obamacare’s repeal, even before President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in.

But now the hard part begins, with GOP-led committees racing to draft legislation that dismantles President Obama’s politically maligned law, while following the famous doctors creed: Do no harm.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan has assured skittish rank-and-file Republicans that GOP leaders and the incoming Trumpadministration are “in sync” on plans to shift from the Affordable Care Act to a plan that replaces heavy federal mandates with market-oriented reforms, though the party hasn’t put a replacement bill on paper.

The risky strategy has emboldened Democrats, who say their political rivals are jumping off a cliff without a safety net for 20 million people who gained coverage under Obamacare, which expanded Medicaid coverage for the poor in 31 states and doles out taxpayer-funded subsidies to qualified persons seeking private plans on web-based exchanges.

“They’re going to pull up every single person who lost insurance and put them on the nightly news, and be able to manipulate public opinion,” said Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist.

So far Republicans leaders appear undeterred. They’re using a fast-track budget process to repeal and replace as much of the law as they can in the first several weeks of Mr. Trump’s administration. And they’re counting on the incoming president to issue administrative actions that smooth the transition away from Obamacare.

Read more from Tom Howell Jr. at The Washington Times

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