Health Law Brouhaha Pits Feinstein Versus Pelosi

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a key architect of the Affordable Care Act, is trying to restrain nervousDemocrats from backing a measure that could knock the foundations from under the law - even as erstwhile Democratic allies Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and former President Bill Clinton endorse similar changes.

The changes would allow millions of people who bought health policies on the individual market, including 1 million people in California, to keep their plans even if those plans fail to meet minimum coverage standards under the new law. Insurance companies' mass cancellations of such policies since the law took effect Oct. 1 have been a public relations nightmare for President Obama, who promised repeatedly over the years that no Americans who liked their current plans would be forced to change them under his signature law.

On Tuesday, Feinstein signed onto a bill by Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat up for re-election next year, that would allow those who already hold such policies to keep them indefinitely. The Senate bill is less dangerous to the law than the one confronting Pelosi in the House, by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., which would allow insurance companies to continue to sell the old policies to new enrollees.

GOP political strategist Ford O'Connell surmised that Feinstein is trying to pressure the administration to come up with a fix, given that failure could topple the Democratic majority in the Senate, and with it, every Democratic committee chairmanship, including Feinstein's. She heads the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

"As a realist, she understands that Republicans are going to take control of the Senate if Democrats are sitting there doing nothing," O'Connell said.

As for Clinton, O'Connell said the former president is "trying to create a firewall for Hillary," his wife and the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

Read more from Carolyn Lochhead at the San Francisco Chronicle

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Perry Struggles To Get Any Traction For 2016

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) is accelerating efforts to explore another bid for the presidency. But few Republicans, including some past supporters, are excited at the prospect of him launching a second White House campaign.

Perry is making all the moves of a traditional candidate, with multiple visits to Iowa, an upcoming trip to South Carolina and a flurry of recent appearances on cable news networks.

But following his disappointing 2012 campaign, and heading into an election where the GOP field appears to be much stronger, few strategists think he would stand a real chance of winning the 2016 nomination.

The Texas governor’s biggest hurdles, say strategists, are overcoming voters’ memory of his infamous “oops” moment in a 2011 GOP debate, and convincing the big donors who fueled his campaign last time to stick with him over other contenders.

  “There are several options this time for the big-money donors: [New Jersey Gov. Chris] Christie, [Florida Sen. Marco] Rubio, [Wisconsin Gov. Scott] Walker, and others. When [Perry] ran last time, they dumped $17 million into his account, and that won’t be there,” GOP strategist Ford O’Connell said.

“And it’s really hard to forget ‘oops,’ especially with Republicans worried about Hillary [Clinton].”

Read more from Cameron Joseph at The Hill

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Issa’s Next To Take A Swing At Botched ObamaCare Rollout

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) will take his turn at hammering the rollout of ObamaCare on Wednesday when his panel hears testimony from five administration witnesses.

The hearing will mark the culmination of a strategic assault on President Obama’s healthcare plan by congressional Republicans. 

It follows a series of tactical document leaks from Issa that have created mini-firestorms for the White House and infuriated the Republican lawmaker’s critics, who accuse him of acting in bad faith over the last month.

While Issa is largely following the playbook he used during past investigations, the ObamaCare issue is proving more widely relevant than his probes of the Internal Revenue Service’s political vetting and the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya.

The California Republican tends to rely on releasing a slow drip of information, often in the form of redacted documents or partial transcripts, to argue incompetence or political interference on the part of the Obama administration.

Critics accuse Issa of framing his findings in a way that misleads the media. But analysts see a crucial difference in how he has handled the issue of Obama-Care’s rollout and how he’s benefited from the wider narrative of problems with

“Instead of coming out like Rambo, he’s realized that he can control the narrative, put Democrats on the defensive and still maintain the attention spans of the television networks,” said GOP political strategist Ford O’Connell.

“He’s learned to become a storyteller instead of a flamethrower. … If you can talk people through these issues, you can keep the story alive.”

Read more from Elise Viebeck at The Hill

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5 Things Republicans Need To Learn From Virginia And New Jersey

As journalists across the country struggle to put meaning to the Virginia and New Jersey races that occurred earlier this week, I see five lessons Republicans of all stripes need to learn quickly – as in, before any more elections are held.

1) Campaign like an amateur, lose to a Clinton goon: Did the Republican Party give up on Ken Cuccinelli too early? Perhaps, although it couldn't exactly have planned for the Obamacare launch to go so cosmically bad. Was the Libertarian candidate a stalking horse? Also perhaps, but he appears to havedrawn votes roughly equally from Cuccinelli and former Clinton bagman and now Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe.

But, even though McAuliffe was a dog with serious and well-known fleas, Cuccinelli's truly hapless campaign allowed the Democrat to paint their man as an extremist and a brigadier general in the War on Women. It's not the issues that must be thrown overboard to win – equally pro-life Chris Christie captured 60 percent of the vote in even-bluer New Jersey, and Bob McDonnell dominated four years earlier on a firm pro-life platform. It is that voters sensed Cuccinelli was distancing himself from his own issues. If he didn't want to be near them, they didn't either.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at U.S. News & World Report

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On the Thursday edition of The Chad Hasty Show, author and GOP strategist Ford O’Connell talked with Chad Hasty about how the Republicans can get back into power in Washington.

In O’Connell’s book, “Hail Mary: The 10-Step Playbook for Republican Recovery,” he outlined some of the ways the Republicans can regain power in Congress, and even get back in the White House. With 2014 on the horizon, he predicted that health care should definitely be the major focus for the Republicans. O’Connell also pointed out that one of the problems with the Republican party is that they let the Democrats define them in the media and that they need to do a much better job of articulating their agenda.

“One of the things Republicans really have to do…is they really have to articulate a 21st century agenda going forward. They have to project their positive agenda. They have to project themselves as problem-solvers. And really, they have to expand the tent. Unfortunately, we seem to stick ourselves inside the echo chamber in FOX News and Rush Limbaugh, who I love dearly. But we have to get outside and start talking to people where they are and bring those voters into our tent.”

O’Connell agreed that the Republican party is split up, but said that regardless of whether the party decides to go the Tea Party route or the more establishment route, the Republicans need a “just win” mentality. O’Connell praised New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as a great example of this mentality, especially with his win in this week’s elections. He said that Christie is a fighter and can appeal to the whole country, not just his state of New Jersey.

Read more from Ariel Walden at KFYO News Talk 790 AM

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What Christie And McAuliffe Mean For 2016

It may be three years away, but the 2016 presidential election cast a long shadow over the races for governor in New Jersey and Virginia. Now the results are in, it begs the question: What does the re-election of a Republican governor in true blue New Jersey and the election of a high-profile Hillary Clinton ally in deep purple Virginia tell us about the next presidential contest?

On Tuesday night, the popular and larger-than-life Republican Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, trounced a little-known middle-ground Democratic state senator by winning over large swathes of women and minority voters who are typically wary of today's GOP, the party that largely caters to old white males.

Two hundred miles southwest in Virginia, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a close ally of Hillary and Bill Clinton, eked out a victory over Tea Party favorite Ken Cuccinelli, largely by running up the score with single women.

It may be three years away, but the 2016 presidential election cast a long shadow over the races for governor in New Jersey and Virginia. Now the results are in, it begs the question: What does the re-election of a Republican governor in true blue New Jersey and the election of a high-profile Hillary Clinton ally in deep purple Virginia tell us about the next presidential contest?

Among the Republican establishment, Christie's message was heard loud and clear. "It shows the Republicans that if you can expand the tent of voters, you can go to great places," said Republican strategist Ford O'Connell. Those margins are "like Neil Armstrong walking on the moon if you're a Republican."

That message, O'Connell said, was only made stronger by what happened in Virginia, where Cuccinelli, the Tea Party candidate, narrowly lost to former Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe in a race that pitted an ultraconservative Republican against a weak, widely distrusted Democrat. "What it shows you is if you want to win, regardless of the circumstances, you're going to have to get beyond the base," O'Connell said.

Read more from Pema Levy at Newsweek

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Book: GOP Needs To Embrace The Pop Culture Presidency

Republicans need to stop sniveling about President Obama's pop culture presidency and book themselves on ESPN and Bravo to fight back, says GOP strategist Ford O'Connell in his new book "Hail Mary."

O'Connell argues that the current POTUS understands the "TMZ/ESPN/HBO society" better than most Republicans. "It's a little worse than that, actually," writes O'Connell. "Republicans mock Obama for his television and cultural savvy rather than trying to learn from him."

The new book -- which hit Amazon Tuesday -- uses football analogies (hence the title, "Hail Mary") and a little tough love to offer the GOP a winning playbook for the White House in 2016. O'Connell, a U.S. News opinion contributor, explained that Republicans need to remember that not every American is constantly tuned into politics. "People are not narcissists like politicians who wake up in the morning and read the Washington Post op-ed page -- they don't do that, they don't watch, 'Morning Joe,'" O'Connell told Whispers. "Where are they? They're watching Bravo -- you've got to go where the eyeballs are."

Read more from Nikki Schwab at U.S. News' Washington Whispers

Purchase Hail Mary: The 10-Step Playbook For Republican Recovery

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Christie’s Win, Cuccinelli’s Loss: Two Playbooks For Defending Against The ‘War On Women’

A year after President Obama rode to re-election accusing Republicans of a war on women, the governor’s races in New Jersey and Virginia offered the GOP two options for how to strike back.

In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie easily defeated a female state senator by staying away from hot-button social issues such as abortion, contraception and gay marriage, and by earning strong support among women for his leadership after Superstorm Sandy.

Further south, however, Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II struggled with female voters as he fought to overcome a socially conservative record that Vice President Joseph R. Biden, campaigning for Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe, summed up as “from another era.” One ad running this past week in the Northern Virginia market accused Mr. Cuccinelli of wanting to outlaw contraception, one of a series of attack ads that helped Mr. McAuliffe edge out Mr. Cuccinelli at the ballot box.

“One of the key planks in the Democrats’ ‘win at all costs’ playbook is the ‘war on women’ maneuver,” said Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist. “While both Cuccinelli and Christie are pro-life, only Cuccinelli fell headlong into this hyper-emotional trap. Christie’s strong favorability with female voters is a testament to his understanding the importance of tone, rhetoric, outreach and personal favorability when conveying one’s views. Cuccinelli, on the other hand, is a textbook example of how not to handle the [Democrats’] propaganda slime.”

Read more from Seth McLaughlin at The Washington Times

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Whatever Happened To Marco Rubio?

Chris Christie’s victory galvanized the GOP’s establishment wing on Tuesday as they try to regain control of their party ahead of national elections. The centrist Republican’s glide to re-election in blue New Jersey comes a month after Ted Cruz rallied the Tea Party to shut down the government and promised a bloody revolt against weak-willed RINOs. 

And then there’s Marco Rubio. Remember him? 

“At this juncture he’s gone from ‘establishment frontrunner’ to ‘preferred Vice Presidential candidate’ for just about everyone,” GOP strategist Ford O’Connell told msnbc. “To the establishment money guys, when Christie says “Hey, I just won arctic blue New Jersey by 20 or 30 points,’ that’s tough to overcome. The fundraisers want to win and they will do what it takes to win.”

The bright side for Rubio is that he has plenty of time to recover.

Read more from Benjy Sarlin at

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Democrat McAuliffe Elected Virginia Governor

Democrat Terry McAuliffe has won the Virginia governor's race, in a close victory over Tea Party conservative Ken Cuccinelli.

With 97 precincts reporting late Tuesday, McAuliffe edged out Cuccinelli 47 to 46 percent. 

Republican strategist Ford O'Connell says Cuccinelli's appeal to ultraconservatives in the Virginia race may have been his downfall. 

"Terry McAuliffe was a very flawed candidate, and Ken Cuccinelli had a great chance of winning this race, but unfortunately his appeal was limited solely to the conservative Tea Party base, and he could never get out of his own way and move forward and appeal to a broader set of voters."

Read more at Voice of America

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