NJ Gov. Christie Has Tightrope To Walk For 2016 Presidential Bid

When one thinks of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, acrobatics might not be the first term that comes to mind.

But if rumors are true and the booming Republican governor does indeed plan to seek the GOP's presidential nomination in 2016, he'll need to perform an impressive circus trick: both building off the centrist support he's earned in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and repairing relations with an increasingly skeptical Republican base that sees his embrace of President Obama just days before the election as a betrayal.

But Republican strategists also admit that Christie is doing what is necessary to win re-election in 2013. Although Christie has a national profile, he still hails from a state where President Obama bested Mitt Romney by 17 percentage points. In 2009, Christie only narrowly beat Gov. John Corzine, an extremely unpopular incumbent and former CEO of Goldman Sachs who was facing re-election just a year after the financial market collapse. Next year, Christie could face a challenge from popular Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a rising star in the Democratic Party likely to draw fundraising support from across the country.

“Right now his job is to win re-election in 2013, and obviously he’s doing what is in his best interests,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “This entire time, he’s been looking over his shoulder at Cory Booker.”

Read more from Justin Sink at The Hill

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Rebuilding The GOP: Can Republicans Pitch A Bigger Tent?

With a rainbow coalition of voters propelling President Obama to a decisive Electoral College victory in which all but one battleground state turned blue, election night 2012 was a wake-up call for many Republicans. Now, the GOP is beginning to delve into a long and likely divisive period of self-examination over what it can do to right itself with a rapidly changing America.

The consensus among many top Republican strategists and politicos, from Karl Rove to formerArkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to Sen. Marco Rubio is this: If the GOP can't rebuild a foundation more welcoming to key subsets of the electorate, it runs the risk of being shut out of the White House for good.

But grapple it must, warns Republican strategist Ford O'Connell, "or else [it will be] wiped off the electoral map."

That means immigration reform.

"It's very simple," says Mr. O'Connell, chairman of the Civic Forum PAC in Washington. "We've got to take control of immigration reform."

Republicans can look to rising stars like Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Senator Rubio of Florida for leadership on reform, including a better system to admit temporary workers and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants – an ongoing point of contention in the party. Amnesty should be an option "if we can come up with a plan to secure the border," O'Connell adds.

Read more from Husna Haq at The Christian Science Monitor

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Obamacare: Winner Or Loser?

Obamacare may be the law of the land for now. But if the program's overall costs become too burdensome to manage or the federal government can't effectively implement the state exchanges, that could change.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at Politico's "The Arena"

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Women And Minorities Are Scared Of The GOP

I do see the merit in what former Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) and retiring Rep. Steve LaTourette are advocating. That said, establishment Republicans need to shoulder a significant portion of the blame for the ballot box failures in 2012. From Breanna Edwards at Politico:

“Some of the groups that would have agreed with us on a lot of issues, they don’t even look at us. We scare them,” said former Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.).

Davis appeared with retiring Rep. Steve LaTourette at the Capitol Hill Club Friday to discuss poll findings of Main Street Advocacy, a nonprofit managed by Davis. Their main message: partisans on both sides need to stop bickering so much and start compromising on issues like the fiscal cliff.

But both men said the GOP’s problem go beyond partisanship. Republicans, they argued, need to stop looking at voters as members of groups — whether it's women, African-Americans, Latinos or Asian-Americans — and just look at them as Americans.

 

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Election 2012: A Broad Victory For Democrats

Not a "clear" victory for Democrats, but certainly a broad one. Remember, Republicans still control 30 governors' mansions, a majority of state legislatures and control the U.S. House of Representatives. We still live in a center-right country, but now is certainly a time of reflection for the GOP. They must use this time wisely or else Republicans will find itself on the losing end of future elections. From The Economist:

The Democrats won 50.6% of the votes for president, to 47.8% for the Republicans; 53.6% of the votes for the Senate, to 42.9% for the Republicans; and…49% of the votes for the House, to 48.2% for the Republicans (some ballots are still being counted).

 
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House GOP Should Make A Debt Ceiling Deal On Fiscal Cliff

One could argue the most important skill in politics today is that of naming the various crises we confront.

The current crisis du jour—the fiscal cliff—is a good example. It's actually two things happening at once—tax cuts that are scheduled to expire at year's end; the looming sequester, which will impose what amounts to across-the-board 9 percent spending cuts as a result of the budget deal struck last year; and as an added bonus, we're about to run up against the debt limit again.

The name implies swift and certain doom if we don't—what? Raise taxes? Let the Bush tax cuts expire? Stick it to the wealthy and corporations?

The president views this as his big chance. So should House Republicans. If they play it right, they can emerge as the true source of legislative answers and perhaps win the battle to save America from itself.

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

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Nancy Pelosi: Good For The Democratic Party?

I applaud Minority Leader Pelosi for not stepping aside and allowing her ego to get the best of her.

Pelosi’s decision to stay in leadership prohibits a new generation of Democrats from taking charge, and her presence alone as the face of House Democrats is the single best gift she could have given the GOP as it tries to rebuild itself in the wake of its crushing defeat at the ballot box in 2012.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at Politico's "The Arena"

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How To Fix The GOP

So how do Republicans recover?

They get their first chance this week, when Congress returns to address the fiscal cliff. They need not pre-emptively agree to raise taxes, but they do need to ensure Speaker of the House John Boehner has enough room to negotiate so the blame—if this fails—won't rest entirely on him. Americans understand that he and the president have a complicated relationship, and they don't demand capitulation. But they do demand reasonableness. Republicans must appear reasonable, and they must appear to negotiate in good faith.

For Republicans, the blame game is in full force. It was communications. It was mechanics of the campaign. It was outreach. It was social conservatives. It was economic conservatives. If Republicans kicked everyone out of the party the blamers suggest, there wouldn't be much of a party left.

On the other hand, it can't keep losing female voters by double digits, the youth vote by 20 points, and Hispanics by 40 and hope to win the White House.

[Simply put, the] Republicans' present approach doesn't add up or make sense or portend future electoral success.

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

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Relationship Between Boehner, McConnell Faces Tough Test

The relationship between House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) will be tested in the months ahead as political forces pull them in different directions.

Boehner is under pressure to persuade conservatives in his caucus to accept deals raising taxes and addressing an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the country. 

McConnell’s job is to help get major bipartisan deals through the Senate, but he also has to worry about reelection in 2014 and a possible challenge from the right in a GOP primary. 

Already, the two leaders have struck different tones on the prospect of boosting federal tax revenues. Boehner has adopted a conciliatory tenor, while McConnell has taken a harder-nosed approach. 

Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist who worked for the McCain-Palin ticket in 2008, said, “The reelection is really weighing on McConnell’s mind.

“Kentucky is more of a right-leaning state,” he added. 

He said McConnell has to worry about a primary and a general-election challenge in 2014. He needs to figure out how to move possibly controversial deals on taxes and immigration reform through the Senate without damaging his standing with the party’s base. 

O’Connell predicted that McConnell would let Boehner take the lead in tax and immigration reform talks, which would give him more flexibility to let deals move through the Senate. 

Read more from Alexander Bolton at The Hill

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2012: Political Parties And The Changing Demographics

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