Fluke Opts For Plan B; Ditches Congress Bid For Calif. State Senate Run

Sandra Fluke of California became the latest high-profile foot soldier from Democrats’ “war on women” campaign to announce a bid for office Wednesday, saying she will seek a state Senate seat.

Ms. Fluke, who became the face of Democrats’ birth control campaign, joins Wendy Davis, the state legislator whose failed filibuster to try to halt that state’s abortion restrictions last year served as the springboard for her bid for Texas governor.

Democrats also are fielding pro-choice women — Michelle Nunn and Alison Lundergan Grimes — in the Senate races in Georgia and Kentucky, which are thought to be the party’s best chances of picking up Republican-controlled seats in the upper chamber.

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said these well-known female candidates could help Democrats gin up their base as they face tough political headwinds.

“With Obamacare and everything else against them, they are going to turn back to the same old playbook that they have used to make electoral gains in previous years, which is the war on women, hate the poor and despite minorities,” Mr. O’Connell said. “They have to focus on social issues because that is the only way they can gin up the base, because right now in the midterms Republicans have an electoral advantage.” 

Read more from Seth McLaughlin at The Washington Times

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Ford O'Connell's Plan For GOP 2016 Victory: Do What Obama Did

Political strategist Ford O'Connell is offering a life-line to the Republican Party in the form of new book of advice that he believes will help the GOP take back the White House in 2016.

In his book, "Hail Mary: A 10-Step Playbook for Republican Recovery," the Republican consultant who worked for Arizona Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, offers some blunt criticism of a party he says in a desperate position, kind of like a football team facing "fourth and long," he said in an interview with Politico.

"Ronald Reagan is Dead. Accept It," "Hug the Gays (No, Really)," and "Kill Immigration Reform, Kill the GOP" are just a few examples of chapter titles and the type of advice that can be found in his book.

It wouldn't hurt Republicans to take a page from President Barack Obama's playbook, O'Connell also advised his party, noting that Obama learned how to connect to the American people outside of the political sphere. 

"What the Republican Party has to do is something that Barack Obama actually did in September 2012 when he ditched the White House press corps and basically went on a bunch of variety shows, etc., and basically talked about everything but politics," the Republican strategist told Politico. "He projected an image of a hard-working guy and that really resonated with a lot of people."

"The Republican Party needs to find five or 10 of its best communicators — if it has that many — and basically go on a lot of what I would call nontraditional political media shows and just go out there and be likable and talk about anything but politics," he added. 

O'Connell told Newsmax the same thing back in December, saying this approach is necessary "because essentially a lot of people don't follow politics." 

Read more from Courtney Coren at Newsmax

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GOP Strategist Ford O’Connell Pens ‘Hail Mary’ Plan

There are Republican Party manifestos and then there is Ford O’Connell’s. The GOP strategist and alumnus of the 2008 McCain/Palin ticket has put his thoughts on how to improve his party in “Hail Mary: A 10-Step Playbook for Republican Recovery.”

The book is short on diplomatic platitudes and long on blunt advice, as best exhibited by the book’s chapter titles: “Ronald Reagan is Dead. Accept it.” “Stop Giving a S—- About Obama’s Birthplace.” And “Hug the Gays (No, Really).”

In an interview last month with POLITICO, O’Connell described the current state of the GOP as “ fourth and long,” a reference to the desperate football position.

We’ve lost, what, five of the last six presidential elections in popular vote? And if Hillary Clinton is indeed the nominee in 2016 as many of us think she’s going to be, she’s going to have about 247 electoral votes coming out of the chute, and the Republican nominee, if they want to win, 10 states are going to be in play. That means they have to win Colorado, Virginia and Ohio and, if they don’t, she’s going to walk right back in the front door.”

No discussion about 2016 is complete without the requisite speculation about a potential presidential run by Clinton and, accordingly, O’Connell includes a bonus section in his book with “six ways to beat Hillary Clinton.” One of them? “Stay out of her bedroom.”

Another piece of advice on how Republicans should handle a Clinton run is to just leave Bill alone.

“You’ve got to let Bill [Clinton] keep talking until he actually cuts his knees out. If you let him go unfettered, he’s actually going to become his own worst enemy — a lot like a lot of Republicans!”

Read more from Patrick Gavin at Politico

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Christie’s Shameless, Desperate New Play: Wooing The GOP Base

It’s almost sad. Chris Christie, putative GOP savior, supposed scourge of the party’s right-wing saboteurs, in the minds of Republican establishment figures and donors anyway, is now courting the far-right base he was supposed to crush.

Desperately clutching his presidential hopes when he ought to be working to remain as New Jersey’s governor, Christie is taking a page from an old GOP playbook: attacking the “liberal media” while courting reactionaries – specifically those who gather annually at the Conservative Political Action Committee.

You may recall that last year Christie was snubbed by the folks who organize the annual winter gathering of the far-right faithful. Mitt Romney went so far as to implore CPAC to listen to voices like Christie’s.

“Frankly, the heat he is taking in the press as a result of Bridge-gate has endeared him to some conservatives.” Civic Forum PAC Ford O’Connell told the Christian Science Monitor. “He’s going to need conservatives on his side. This is about mending fences on both sides.”

Read more from Joan Walsh at Salon

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Bridge-gate: Why Conservatives Are Now Embracing Chris Christie

After being snubbed last year, embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has been invited to speak next month at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC – the biggest conservative confab of the year.

Governor Christie, under intense pressure over the ongoing “Bridge-gate” scandal, was also embraced over the weekend by top Republicans appearing on Sunday talk shows. On ABC News, Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin called Christie a “fantastic governor.” And both he and Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) of Louisiana (appearing on CNN) said Christie should stay on as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

Even some of the most conservative lights, who typically ridicule Christie as a “RINO” – a Republican in Name Only – have managed at times to come down on Christie’s side since Bridge-gate broke last month. Fox News host Sean Hannity has defended Christie’s use of hurricane Sandy relief money.

This circling of the wagons is “a sign that conservatives and Republicans may not be ready to give up on Christie just yet,” says Ford O’Connell, chairman of the Civic Forum PAC. “Frankly, the heat he is taking in the press as a result of Bridge-gate has endeared him to some conservatives.”

In addition, Christie knows that if he is going to survive the public opinion battle over Bridge-gate, “he’s going to need conservatives on his side,” O’Connell adds. “This is about mending fences on both sides.”

Read more from Linda Feldmann at The Christian Science Monitor

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Experts: Chris Christie Dead In Water

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie can kiss his White House hopes goodbye as questions mount about what he knew about the Bridgegate scandal — a development that has pushed the one-time Republican frontrunner aside while opening doors for other candidates in 2016, political experts said.

New Jersey’s chief executive has been under fire after revelations his top aides orchestrated traffic gridlock on the George Washington Bridge as possible political payback to Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor. Christie has denied knowing of any plot and told the public he didn’t know about the traffic jam until it was over.

But a former loyalist who ordered the closures, and resigned amid the controversy, released a letter Friday saying evidence exists suggesting Christie knew about the closures as they happened in September. The letter from David Wildstein’s lawyer did not provide proof. Wildstein was Christie’s No. 2 man at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey before resigning.

National GOP strategist Ford O’Connell said Christie is “sinking faster than the Titanic.”

“The cards are stacked against him,” O’Connell said, adding that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will benefit from Christie’s political swan dive.

Read more from Antonio Planas at The Boston Herald

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5 Keys To A Successful Republican 2014

Republicans can have a pretty good year at the ballot box in 2014 if, as the Doors sang, they can "keep [their] eyes on the road and [their] hands upon the wheel."

Democratic funders have all but given up retaking the House and are training resources on retaining the Senate, which political prognosticator Larry Sabato now puts at "50/50." They know the congressional races of 2014 will draw smaller turnouts, which favors Republicans, and that losing the Senate would consign President Obama to finishing his term with lame duck status.

It could all blow up – Republicans are famous for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. But if they can remember a few simple guidelines, they can press the advantage they enjoy now at the ballot box in November.

1) Keep the spotlight focused on Obamacare: Democrats continue to pretend otherwise, but they have begun to realize the political drag associated with the president's signature legislative achievement will far outlive the bungled rollout and balky website. Not only are the president's approval numbers near all-time lows, the approval numbers for Obamacare continue to sink as well. Today, nearly a third of Democrats oppose the law and nearly two-thirds of independents. Even Obama's loyal allies in the union movement – union leader Richard Trumka is the most frequent visitor to the White House since Obama became president – have begun to squawk. Losers – people who have lost insurance, been forced into a more expensive plan or had to change doctors or hospitals – outnumber winners, those who have benefitted from the law, by 5 to 1 or more. Those numbers may change some between now and November, but probably not much. Republicans should talk constantly about the law's failures, be ready with solutions of their own and remind voters that not a single member of their party voted for this disaster. It truly should be the gift that keeps on giving.

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

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Should Christie Step Down As Head of GOP Governors?

The most immediate effect of the new allegation on Gov. Christie could be his leadership of the Republican Governors Association, according to a Monmouth University pollster.

“The big question in this is whether it makes other Republicans question his effectiveness as chair of the RGA, Patrick Murray told The Star-Ledger Friday

Christie has had mixed support for his RGA chairmanship as the burgeoning bridge-gate scandal unfolded.

But a new allegation from a former Port Authority official who claims the governor knew about the George Washington Bridge lanes' closure while it was occurring, and has the evidence to prove it, could be lethal, Murray said.

As RGA chairman, Christie plans to tour the country raising money and campaigning for several of the 22 Republican governors up for re-election. 

At the same time, the barnstorming could provide him a platform to promote himself while gathering potential allies and donors for a White House bid.

"Everyone is worried," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell told Reuters in mid-January. 
"But the donors are going to take a wait-and-see approach. They're not cutting off the spigot yet."

Read more from Cathy Burke at Newsmax

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Republicans Turn Up IRS Rhetoric As Elections Loom

Who needs a smoking gun?

Congressional Republicans are trying to re-kindle the IRS tea party targeting controversy just as the 2014 election season gears up — but some GOP strategists are warning them to tread cautiously.

The eight-month-old scandal, which led President Barack Obama to push out the acting IRS chief, has been dormant for months: No hearings and no big breakthroughs have linked the White House to the agency’s mistreatment of conservative social welfare groups.

Yet now, Republicans are again revving up the partisan rhetoric. They’re decrying administrative efforts to “stifle conservative voices,” and questioning the FBI’s IRS probe because one investigator was found to be an Obama donor.

GOP strategists said Republicans are obviously capitalizing on an easy issue for the election season. Vilification of the IRS has always energized the base.

“The IRS represents everything base Republicans hate about government,” said Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. “If they want to take the Senate in 2014, they’ll have to jazz up the base in every way possible.”

O’Connell believes the GOP concern about Bosserman is legitimate, but he said Republicans could overplay the issue if they politicize the IRS scandal too much.

“If you drive the stake home too hard, obviously you can hurt yourself,” O’Connell said, pointing to Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), whose “trumpeting ‘IRS!’ like a college fight song turned some people off.

On Thursday, the Justice Department refused the panel’s summons of Bosserman because, as Holder told Cruz earlier this week, the department cannot comment on ongoing investigations.

“This is ‘gotcha politics’ at its finest,” O’Connell said of the summons, noting that the GOP probably knew they’d get such a response.

But these details don’t really matter in elections, experts said.

“Perception is reality in politics, not the actual reality,” O’Connell said.

Read more from Rachel Bade at Politico

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News Analysis: Obama Delivers Annual Address Amid U.S. Jobs Crisis, Political Gridlock

President Barack Obama delivered the annual State of the Union address Tuesday night amid an ongoing U.S. jobs crisis, a widening income gap and the continuing political logjam in Washington.

Obama made an effort to showcase recent U.S. economic improvements, pointing to a manufacturing sector that is adding jobs and a surging oil industry, calling 2014 a "breakthrough" year for the country.

But while many metrics show an economy making a comeback, it still feels like a recession for large chunks of the population, with the labor participation rate at a decades-long low, millions without jobs and a growing rich-poor income gap.

Obama addressed those concerns in his nationally televised speech, saying those at the top had "never done better," but "upward mobility has stalled," adding too many Americans are out of work or just making ends meet.

Republican strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua Obama's speech was an effort to "put a positive spin on a bad situation," and the address was more about appearance than substance ahead of the elections.

"I think he realized he's on the verge of being a lame duck president but he also recognized the importance of having an upbeat, hopeful tone," he said. 

While Obama spoke in his speech of getting Americans back to work, some experts said voters might have grown tired of Obama's characteristic uplifting rhetoric and want to see real results, in the form of more jobs, faster growth and higher wages.

Read more from Matthew Rusling at ShanghaiDaily.com

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