Mother Jones’ Desperate Hit Job On Susana Martinez

Brace yourself. This may come as a shock. Susana Martinez owes the Cuss Jar.

Yes, it turns out the governor of New Mexico utters the occasional naughty word. She once called her opponent a “bitch.” She may even have dropped an F-bomb during her term as governor.  

She also once wondered aloud what the New Mexico State Commission on the Status of Women did all day and why its leader is a member of her cabinet. A lot of voters probably would be interested in the answer to that question as well.

That is the best Mother Jones magazine could come up with in a 5,000-word hit piece released earlier this week, complete with purloined recordings of meetings and conference calls and other “inside” information on the 2010 campaign that put her in office.

To be charitable, the timing is interesting. Martinez is up for re-election in November. More importantly, her name has made its way to various short lists of potential vice presidential candidates in the 2016 election. It’s even possible she may run herself. And with Democrats stuck in the Hillary Clinton vortex– they can’t move decisively in any direction until she declares whether she will run in 2016 – her party and its supplicants in the press, such as MoJo, are spending their time trying to dirty up potential Republican presidential candidates.

The carousel of character assassination was bound to stop on Martinez at some point. MSNBC’s merciless round-the-clock coverage of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Bridgegate not only failed to knock him out of the race; it didn’t even manage to knock him from the top spot in the polls.

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

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Republican Presidential Hopefuls Steer Clear Of Nevada Ranch Fight

GOP presidential hopefuls are largely steering clear of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s fight with the federal government.

The showdown, which left armed militia members and feds staring each other down last week, has captivated talk radio and cable news shows, turning Bundy into a conservative cause célèbre.

Yet Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and former Arkansas Governor and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee are the only big-name GOP stars to have spoken out on the dispute so far.

Tea Party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has been silent, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have also not commented on Bundy, who has been fighting the federal government in and out of court for more than 20 years over his refusal to pay grazing fees.

All three offices did not respond to calls for this story.

GOP strategists suggested that Bundy’s case is far too risky for most candidates eyeing the presidency, particularly given the possibility of armed conflict with federal police.

“The Republican Party’s very sympathetic to Cliven Bundy’s property rights, states’ rights argument,” said strategist Ford O’Connell, who worked on John McCain’s 2008 campaign. “But many Republicans also prize the rule of law above all else. Right or wrong, Bundy had his day in court and lost.”

Paul has a libertarian bent to his politics, and he’s repeatedly taken on issues that make the Bundy fight work better for him than others, O’Connell said.

“It fits very nicely within the ethos that Rand Paul has,” O’Connell said of the Bundy ranch fight. “But the difficulty that Paul’s going to have in terms of winning the nomination is taking that libertarian, constitutional thinking, and showing how you can govern a nation with it.”

Read more from Timothy Cama at The Hill

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GOP Strategist O'Connell: 2016 Republican Names All Have Flaws

As Republicans search for a viable candidate for the 2016 presidential election, the leading prospective contenders need to clean up their credentials, GOP strategist Ford O'Connell says.

Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker all have work to do to overcome past difficulties and clean up their images for Republican voters and donors, O'Connell told John Bachman on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV.

Paul, the senator from Kentucky, will have to backtrack on his libertarian, isolationist foreign policies if he is to appeal to the party base.

"That's really what's hurting him with Republican donors. They want somebody who is going to have a muscular foreign policy and, unfortunately as we're seeing with Obama right now, peace through strength only works when you're perceived to be strong," O'Connell said. 

Read more Aaron Stern at Newsmax.com

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Ford O'Connell to GOP: Campaign On Fixing Obamacare

Although the White House is celebrating Obamacare enrollment numbers, Republicans should tout their alternatives to the healthcare reform law, says GOP strategist Ford O'Connell.

"The message for Republicans needs to be put us back into power in Congress and we're going to fix the Obamacare mess, and the reason is very simple. 

"While most Americans detest it, a sizeable majority don't want to see it repealed, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, and the reason is because there are two popular provisions, covering kids up to 26 and basically covering pre-existing conditions," he told Newsmax TV's John Bachman and J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Wednesday.

"So, that is what Republicans have to work with, they basically have to say, hey, we're going to come up with a solution to fix this because repeal is not going to be a winning message for Republicans," he said.

O'Connell, a self-styled "political quarterback," has worked on several local, state and national campaigns, including the 2008 McCain-Palin presidential campaign. He argues that the GOP has to work within the parameters of the healthcare law for now, and not just run against Obamacare. 

"The fact still remains that we're in a legislatively untenable situation, and that is, we can't be seen as snatching back health insurance from the 1 to 2 million who were previously uninsured who now may or may not actually have health insurance. 

"So, this is really the area where Republicans find themselves, they can't go and snatch that back, but what they can do is they can try to fix it," he explained.

Read more from Lisa Barron at Newsmax.com

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Bid To Topple Mississippi Senator Tests Tea Party's Muscle

It is not shaping up as a great year for the conservative Tea Party movement as it seeks to revamp the Republican Party by challenging "establishment" Republicans in the U.S. Senate.

The Tea Party's assault on Senator John Cornyn fell short in the Texas primaries last month, and recent polls indicate that the movement's candidates are unlikely to oust incumbents in Kentucky, Tennessee and Kansas.

But the Tea Party's outlook is considerably better in Mississippi. The stars appear to have aligned for Chris McDaniel, a state senator who is waging a primary battle against Thad Cochran, who is seeking his seventh six-year term in the Senate.

Polls show a close race two months before the June 3 Republican primary, and an army of Tea Party activists are canvassing Mississippi voters for McDaniel. Money has flooded in, with national Tea Party-affiliated groups such as Club for Growth spending close to $1 million to support him.

For the Tea Party, the stakes in McDaniel's race are huge. If it can unseat a popular incumbent like Cochran, it can claim relevance within the Republican Party even though setbacks elsewhere indicate the movement that burst into American politics in 2010 is losing some momentum amid a backlash from the more moderate Republican establishment.

Republican strategist Ford O'Connell says McDaniel's primary challenge will have ramifications for the Tea Party well beyond Mississippi, especially when it comes to fundraising.

"These conservative groups need Thad Cochran's head on their mantle if they want to remain credible with donors," O'Connell said. "And the Tea Party movement badly needs a shot in the arm to fire them up for the election."

Read more from Nick Carey at Reuters

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GOP Strategist O'Connell: 'Political Trade Winds' Favor Republicans

GOP retirements in Congress are not likely to harm the party's strong prospects in the November midterm elections, says Republican strategist Ford O'Connell. 

"Overall, the Democrats are really barking up the wrong tree. The reason why it's a good time to pass the torch if you will in 2014 in some of these swing seats is the political trade winds are really in the Republicans' favor," he told Newsmax TV's John Bachman and J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" Wednesday. 

O'Connell has worked for several political campaigns, including the McCain-Palin 2008 presidential campaign.

He said he believes that in California, the GOP will keep Rep. Howard Buck McKeon's seat after the outgoing chairman of the House Armed Services Committee retires. 

"The question is going to be who winds up winning the primary. This is still a Republican lead district so if you can get the right candidate at the door, guess what? The Republicans are going to hold this seat. I don't see a lot of gains and losses in 2014 on the House. We have a net 17, we can really go anywhere from a plus or minus four seat back up to a four-seat loss. The bigger concern for me would be California 31, which is [Gary] Miller's seat, because that's a strong blue situation," O'Connell said.

Read more from Lisa Barron at Newsmax.com

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News Analysis: U.S. Weighs Further Options With Russia In Response To Ukraine Crisis

The United States is mulling its next steps toward Russia as Moscow seems unperturbed by what many have described as tepid U.S.-imposed sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine.

The United States sharply criticized Russia for its actions in Crimea earlier this month, and U.S. President Barack Obama will head to the Netherlands next week to press European leaders to get on board with harsher sanctions on Russia while attending the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit.

So far, the U.S. sanctions have consisted mainly of asset freezes and restrictions on travel to the West for a handful of Russians. Obama's critics said the move has given a green light to Russia to do whatever it pleases, as thus far no harsh punishment has come from Washington.

Indeed, the Kremlin took to Twitter earlier this week to mock Obama, with Deputy Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin tweeting out: "Comrade @BarackObama, what should do those who have neither accounts nor property abroad? Or U didn't think about it?"

Others said there is very little the United States can do, believing that harsher sanctions are unlikely to force Russia to reverse course and pull out of Crimea, which last weekend voted overwhelmingly to separate from Ukraine and become part of Russia.

Experts said Washington is highly unlikely to take any sort of military action after more than a decade of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and with a public averse to involvement in crises that do not directly involve the United States.

Republican Strategist Ford O'Connell held the same opinion, but told Xinhua that if Washington did take that route, it would be a coordinated NATO effort.

Still, there are whispers on Capitol Hill about possible arming forces in Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia and Poland, but whether that becomes official policy depends on what Putin does next, O'Connell said.

Read more from Matthew Rusling at ShanghaiDaily.com

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Video: GOP's Ford O'Connell: Romney's 2012 Russia Stance Vindicated

Mitt Romney was spot-on during the 2012 presidential campaign when he said Russia was a geopolitical foe of the United States, while President Barack Obama was naïve, says Republican strategist Ford O'Connell. 

"Mitt Romney was absolutely right, and unfortunately it wasn't just President Obama who bashed Mitt Romney for that. The Washington, D.C., press corps did, and really they all look stupid. In fact, Hillary Clinton last night in Montreal made a speech saying, hey, guess what, we've got to stop Putin in his tracks," O'Connell told Newsmax TV's John Bachman and J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Wednesday.

"So, I have a feeling that basically U.S. foreign policy is going to be a very big issue in the 2016 campaign on both camps, the Republicans and the Democrats, because clearly President Obama was naïve about how the world is shaping out, particularly with respect to Putin," he said.

O'Connell, who has worked for several political campaigns, including the McCain-Palin 2008 presidential campaign, said Obama is still not on top of the issue. 

"The president's behind the eight ball and he's playing catch-up. Unfortunately, right now Putin is playing chess while the president is playing checkers, and even a lot of Democrats privately are grumbling on Capitol Hill.

"Look, everyone knows what they want out of a president right now is leadership, and they want him to get a playbook going forward because essentially the Crimea's lost. We have to prevent future land grabs by Putin, and right now this is a task to President Obama and really the presidency overall going forward," he said. 

Read more and watch the video from Lisa Barron at Newsmax

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Will 2014 GOP Success Equal 2016 Victory?

A year after trying to make sense of their 2012 losses, the GOP is gearing up for big 2014 wins.  

Senate control looks within their grasp and Republicans aren’t in any danger of losing the House, but their optimism could be shortsighted. Strategists say the GOP still hasn't done enough to expand and grow their party to win the White House in two years. 

"I'm concerned we're going to make a lot of gains in 2014 and people are going to confuse that with success at the national level and learn the wrong lessons. It's two different electorates," said GOP consultant Ford O'Connell.

Republicans have the wind at their backs heading into the fall. A poor national climate for Democrats driven by President Obama's sagging approval ratings, an older, whiter mid-year electorate and a favorable Senate map all give them big advantages.  

But in 2016, none of that will be true. In a presidential year where they need to appeal to Hispanics, women and young voters, the GOP's response to its  "autopsy" a year ago has fallen short in many places. Immigration reform is all but dead, the party is still grappling with off-message remarks from some candidates. 

All those faultlines were addressed in the Republican National Committee's "Growth and Opportunity Project,” which celebrates its one-year mark Tuesday. The lengthy internal critique of what had gone wrong for the party in 2012 and how they needed to change in order to be able to win over an increasingly diverse electorate stressed those concerns and more. 

Republicans credit RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and his staff for making great strides on data, technology and get-out-the-vote operations, the things they have the most control over. They crow about last week’s Florida special-election win in a district President Obama carried twice. But some worry that on the report’s other recommendations, the party has failed to follow the RNC’s lead.

Read more from Cameron Joseph at The Hill

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No Time To Be Jolly About 2014

Dem cheerleader Paul Begala was right. There simply is no way to spin it. Democrat Alex Sink’s loss to Republican David Jolly in Tuesday’s special election was an absolute “nightmare” for her party.

Her campaign outspent his, although outside groups evened it up somewhat. She was no unknown backbencher, as she had narrowly lost a race for governor two years ago. Her opponent, a lobbyist who just left his wife and took his 26-year-old girlfriend to his campaign events, probably was no better than the third choice of the local party.

And although the Jolly campaign made some headway with attacks on her huge bonuses as former president of a major Florida bank, she went down because of voter dissatisfaction with both President Obama and his signature legislative accomplishment: Obamacare.

Democratic Party honchos continue to insist candidates are better off going all in for Obamacare. They say the worst is behind us, and as more Americans sign up and start to benefit from the law, Democratic candidates will be happy to have never wavered in their support. But they’re also getting ready to drop a bunch of money on research into how better to message the law and its various impacts to avoid further candidates being sunk like Sink.

No doubt, if you are Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, Mark Begich in Alaska, Kay Hagan in North Carolina or Mark Pryor in Arkansas, you would do well to not wait for the results of that study and to start being concerned right now about the impact Obama and Obamacare will have on your electoral hopes. If a swing-to-lean-Democrat House district carried twice by President Obama in a state he also carried twice can’t deliver for Alex Sink, you have to assume – for now – the message is not getting through.

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

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