GOP Strategist O'Connell: Warren Is Clinton's Biggest Threat

GOP strategist Ford O’Connell and Democratic strategist Rick Ungar joined "America's Forum" host John Bachman Wednesday on Newsmax TV to discuss the top political news of the day, including Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren's growing popularity among potential voters.

O'Connell, meanwhile, said Clinton does face a challenge from Warren, and that many Republicans believe she will run for office. 

"Rick may not want to hear this, but Elizabeth Warren is the biggest single threat to Hillary capturing the nomination in 2016," said O'Connell. And if Clinton can't "fire up blue collar voters and voters under 30," she may have difficulty defeating Warren.

He said Warren is the candidate most in line with the Democratic Party's base, calling her the "Democrats' version of Ted Cruz," the Texas Republican senator.

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Hillary Clinton Likely To Lean Left To Clinch 2016 White House

Since Democrats have shifted further to the left over the years, 2016 White House hopeful Hillary Clinton, a formerly moderate Democrat, is expected to tow the party line to satisfy her Democratic base, experts said.

Clinton, widely viewed as the likely Democratic candidate for 2016, last month kicked off an unofficial public relations campaign with the release of her new book, "Hard Choices," which was followed by nationally televised interviews and public appearances.

But experts said if Clinton wants to avoid a major challenge in the primaries, she will have to lean to the left, as polls show Democrats have moved away from the center in recent years, just as Republicans have shifted right.

"In an ideal world, Hillary Clinton would love to run as a Bill Clinton Democrat. Unfortunately the Democratic Party has moved two steps to the left, and that would not fly today in the way that it would in the 1990s," Republican Strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua.

He added that Democrats want Clinton to be more in tune with the progressive base, and that's why she is seeing challengers emerge from the party to keep her in lock step with the party base.

Indeed, Democrats are more socially liberal than a decade ago, more supportive of an activist government and more in favor of increased regulation of business, according to a Washington Post op-ed by Andrew Kohut, former president of the Pew Research Center.

Read more from Matthew Rusling at Xinhua

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Sarah Palin’s Big Flame-Out

How could someone filled with such promise plunge so far, so fast? How does one go from national icon to national laughingstock?

That’s exactly what has happened to Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee.

Once arguably the GOP’s most charismatic celebrity, Palin is now better known for “thriving in this role of right wing shock jock” as Nicolle Wallace, a former senior adviser for the John McCain-Palin  campaign, now puts it.

Even though the majority of Americans want Palin to keep quiet, it doesn’t look like she’ll be drop off the national radar anytime soon.

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said Palin’s political career is “pretty much over.” But, he said, Palin has realized “she is more powerful as a media personality than a politician … it’s an easier life, you can have more influence and you can make more money.”

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GOP Strategist: Cleveland Pick Came Down To Politics

Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said the GOP picked Cleveland as the site for its 2016 convention for political reasons, and that the party hopes holding the event in the Ohio city will help it appeal to working class voters.

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Border Debate: Was Congress Or White House 'Asleep At The Wheel?'

Republican and Democrat strategists Ford O’Connell and Ari Rabin-Havt debated immigration reform, the border crisis and other issues on America's Forum on Newsmax TV.

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Can Rand Paul Break Past Controversy Over Civil Rights Act Comments?

Sen. Rand Paul marked the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act at a ceremony this week honoring the late Maurice Rabb, a renowned ophthalmologist and civil rights leader.

It was part of his aggressive outreach to African-Americans and other nontraditional GOP voters as he works to expand the Republican Party and as he crisscrosses the country laying groundwork for a potential presidential campaign.

It's a community in which he has some fences to mend.

While campaigning for the Senate four years ago, Paul sparked a firestorm for questioning parts of the historic law, especially its underpinnings that place restrictions on private property.

Paul is now considered a likely presidential contender. And as the most active Republican leader in the effort to recruit African-Americans to the GOP, his comments from four years ago have become a thorn in his side.

As Paul works to appeal to African-Americans on the policy front, he'll need to continue sharpening his message skills.

"He learned a very, very valuable lesson: If it's too complicated to explain your position, you're probably in trouble," said GOP strategist Ford O'Connell.

He's tried to clean up and clarify his comments about the Civil Rights Act, and in May 2012, he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that he would have voted for the bill in 1964 if he had the chance. He "would have been there marching with Martin Luther King" during the civil rights movement, he said.

From a strategy standpoint, O'Connell said Paul has "gotten a lot better" at talking to the media and it's "wise" for him to be active in appealing to the African-American community, not only for his own political future, but for the Republican Party as a whole.

"His job between now and then is to continue what he's doing with minority outreach and try to bury this every way possible," he said.

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Strategist: Obama Forcing Immigration 'Down The Throat' Of Americans

GOP strategist Ford O'Connell and Newsmax Deputy Health Editor Nick Tate were on America's Forum on Newsmax TV to discuss illegal immigrant kids and what’s next with Obamacare.

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Connecting With Voters Remains Clinton's Challenge

Hillary Clinton has an impressive resume - eight years as first lady, eight years as senator, four years as secretary of state and a name recognized worldwide. Her main challenge in the run-up to the 2016 White House race is simply connecting with ordinary Americans, analysts say.

While Clinton came from a middle class upbringing as a small businessman's daughter in Illinois, she has been in the national spotlight since the early 1990s. She and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have earned millions of dollars for speeches and books.

That has opened her up to questions over whether her wealth and status have insulated her from the problems of ordinary Americans, and analysts said her controversial response to a question on that issue earlier this month showed she is rusty in the public relations game.

Others contend that Clinton's wealth could open her up to a challenge from the left wing of her own party, "particularly in this Occupy Wall Street populist era," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua.

"If she gets dinged up in the primary ... it could really damage her in the general election," he said, arguing that for Clinton to lose the general election, her Democratic base will have to sour toward her somewhat.

"She's got to find a way to change that narrative," O'Connell said of the perception among some that Clinton's wealth is a barrier in relating to average Americans.

While Democrats view Clinton as empathetic to ordinary Americans, independents are divided over that question, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Annenberg survey taken after Clinton made her controversial comments.

Read more from Matthew Rusling at Xinhua




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Elizabeth Warren vs. Mitt Romney For Prez? It’s Not Impossible

With a wide open Republican field, and Hillary Clinton faltering on the Democratic side, the notion of a 2016 race that pits former Gov. Mitt Romney against U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is emerging as a possibility, but both have a lot of work to do before they face off in a general election, according to pundits and pollsters.

“Warren is viable because of the gaffes Hillary has made on the stump,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican consultant, referring to criticism and mockery Clinton is now drawing for declaring she and President Clinton were “dead broke” and struggled when they left the White House — though they command six-figure speaking fees.

“But it takes more for Clinton to stumble than for Warren to pick up national name recognition,” O’Connell said. Of Romney, he said, “A lot of folks have to falter in order for Romney to see daylight, but as long as you can raise money like a holy roller on Sunday morning, you’re viable.”

Neither Romney nor Warren have officially stated their intentions to take the plunge. But Romney’s recent political moves — hosting a national GOP confab, polling well in New Hampshire and planning to endorse Scott Brown there — and Warren’s national fundraising and her autobiography have raised speculation that both are looking at 2016. It would be a long-shot third run for Romney, and an equally challenging neophyte run for Warren, experts said.

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U.S. Striking On Iraqi Terrorists Could Be Seen As Helping Iran: Experts

U.S. President Barack Obama is faced with a dilemma as Iraq spins out of control, and there are no good options.

At issue is what to do about the al-Qaida-inspired radicals surging through northern Iraq, wreaking havoc and reportedly beheading hundreds if not thousands of victims.

Obama has suggested using U.S. air power against the terrorists, but the move could cause the U.S. to be seen as supporting what many in Iraq see as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's pro-Iranian and anti-Sunni stance.

In essence, air strikes would make the Unite States appear to some as indirectly siding with long-time U.S. foe Iran, as many in Iraq perceive al-Maliki as taking orders from the Islamic republic, experts said.

Indeed, since Saddam Hussein was ousted as Iraqi president in 2003, Iran has been locked in a struggle for regional dominance against the United States and Saudi Arabia, and giving Tehran more of a foothold in Iraq is exactly what the White House does not want to do, experts said.

But at the same time, there is pressure on the White House to act, as many fear terrorists could use Iraq as a base to strike the Unite States, much the same as when al-Qaida used Afghanistan to plan the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks against New York and Washington, pundits and analysts said.

Adding to the complexity, however, is that among the mix of fighters on the ground are some anti-government tribal groups who may be fighting under the banner of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a splinter group of al-Qaida. The radical militants are continuing their advances after seizing swathes of five provinces in northern and western Iraq in the past two weeks.

Back in Washington, some Republicans are foaming at the mouths that Iraq has gotten to this point.

"Their concern is that Obama (was perceived to) drag his feet so long that it got to this point," Republican strategist Ford O' Connell told Xinhua.

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