GOP Looks To Take A Position On Climate Change, But How?

Republicans are trying to find solutions of their own to climate change instead of just attacking President Obama's environmental policies, but the party hasn't been able to agree on specific plans or policies.

Now in control of Congress, some Republicans are beginning to think that simply throwing bombs at the Environmental Protection Agency and Obama's regulations won't work any longer, staffers on Capitol Hill say. Instead, they believe they must develop their own ideas on how to combat climate change, especially to help moderate GOP senators up for re-election in 2016. Nine Senate Republicans are on the ballot in states Obama carried at least once, and House districts that were safe in midterm races likely will be tighter in the general election.

The plan is still emerging, according to interviews with nearly two dozen people that included lawmakers, lobbyists, strategists and aides, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive and evolving subject.

The rough outline is that tactics to reduce emissions should not harm the economy, but what that would entail is not certain.

"They're going to try to drag their feet as long as possible, but there are certain things out there that could bring the predominant GOP position to light," said Ford O'Connell, a GOP strategist and former adviser to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. "They want to at least have a unified position and they want to be able to have their ducks in a row. And if they have a solution, they want to have one that has the least impact on the economy."

Read more from Zack Colman at The Washington Examiner

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Presidential Buzz Follows Mitt Romney To Indian Wells

Mitt Romney was just one of many former presidential candidates last year when he was booked to come to Indian Wells to speak to a crowd of, mostly, political allies, including more than a couple former campaign donors.

But with Romney’s hunger for the White House on display this month there’s pronounced national attention on his Desert Town Hall engagement Monday evening. Heightening the attention was Jeb Bush’s fundraising spin around Southern California, including a stop in the Coachella Valley, over the weekend.

The desert is once again proving to be a reliable source of Republican campaign support.

And, it’s a great place to polish a political pitch among friends.

Reaction to Romney from within the party has been mixed, with loyalists showing support and others remaining skeptical that he can clinch the White House, said Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist who worked on John McCain’s 2008 presidential bid.

“There’s going to be two questions on everyone’s mind. What’s going to be different this time and how are you going to inspire rank-and-file donors?” O’Connell said.

He said Romney’s strength in 2012 came across in foreign policy, but other issues are going to be a focus in 2016.

“You’re going to have to be able to talk about economic mobility, show some emotion — which he’s not very good at — and not come across as an extremist,” O’Connell said.

O’Connell said he doesn’t think Romney has decided whether he’ll run, but he’s probably watching the field and doesn’t want to be left off the list of possibilities.

Read more from Barrett Newkirk at The Desert Sun

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Who Wants Carly Fiorina?

Carly Fiorina knows she’s a long shot for the presidency.

She’s never held elected office and has less name recognition than several other potential GOP rivals, two things she readily concedes. Her detractors, meanwhile, note that her one past attempt at elected office was a dud and her tenure as Hewlett-Packard’s CEO — her big private-sector bona fide — was rocky.

“There is no doubt that as the only nonpolitician in the race, if I were to get in, that I have hurdles to overcome,” Fiorina, 60, said in an interview.

Yet even strategists who wonder why she’d bother running admit that, with expectations so low, a Fiorina 2016 campaign would have upsides for her image — as well as for the Republican Party as a whole.

Fiorina is positioning herself as a business-savvy outsider with a compelling personal story who can command a stage. If she avoids stumbles, a run could boost her standing in GOP circles; some speculate her real goal is the vice presidency or a Cabinet slot.

Fiorina also is the only woman so far considering running on the Republican side, a blessing for a party criticized for its dearth of female leaders.

“[S]he is someone who Republicans need to have in the race because she is a woman and she is a successful woman,” GOP strategist Ford O’Connell said.

Read more from Jonathan Topaz at Politico

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5 Reasons The Left Doesn’t Believe Elizabeth Warren

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has said time and time that against she’s not running for president in 2016.

But don’t tell that to her fans in the Democratic Party.

Supporters on the left are moving full-steam ahead with efforts to draft her into the 2016 race, believing it’s only a matter of time before the Massachusetts senator changes her mind — and becomes the populist challenger to Hillary Clinton that they think the party desperately needs.

Here are five reasons the left hears “yes” when Warren says “no.”

1.) She hasn't definitively ruled out a presidential run.

Warren has yet to definitely say she won’t run for president in 2016, choosing instead to phrase her denials by saying she isn’t running now.

Political watchers say Warren is smart to keep Washington guessing about her political ambitions.

"Warren is wisely hedging her bets. She is underselling herself politically by saying, 'No,' which is intriguing to the base but she is leaving room to potentially over-deliver publicly should the circumstances merit her jumping into the 2016 fray," said Ford O'Connell, a GOP strategist.

5.) She's remained tight-lipped about Hillary Clinton. 

It seems that virtually every prominent Democratic politician is being asked about Clinton ahead of 2016. While Warren did join each of the female Democratic senators in the last Congress in signing a letter urging Clinton to run, she has not openly endorsed her probably candidacy. 

"There is no question about Warren is mulling a run and she has the dynastic Team Hillary unnerved," said O'Connell, the GOP strategist.

Read more from Kevin Cirilli at The Hill


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Immigration Fight Will Test Republican Unity On Capitol Hill

A push by House Republicans to reverse President Obama’s executive action on immigration has put their vulnerable Senate counterparts in a tough electoral spot. 

The GOP faces a much tougher 2016 map, and Hispanic groups are warning of political fallout over the issue of deportations at a time when the party is trying to win the White House and defend its new Senate majority. 

Worried about their party’s political fate, centrist Senate Republicans are balking at the prospect of a messy fight with the president.

Two other centrists, Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.), expressed reservations with the House effort last week.

With the House bill headed for certain defeat in the Senate, some GOP strategists predict it may not even get a vote in the upper chamber because it would needlessly imperil incumbents facing reelection.

“I don’t think they’ll vote on the House version. They’ll probably make some minor changes to it,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist.

O’Connell predicted that Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rubio, two potential 2016 presidential contenders, would approach the debate cautiously for fear of offending either conservative primary voters or Hispanics in the general election.

Read more from Alex Bolton at The Hill

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Loretta Lynch: Eric Holder's Replacement As AG

David Vitter believes that Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s attorney-general nominee, might be even more dangerous than Eric Holder, the man she will replace if confirmed. The Louisiana senator met privately with Lynch this week in his capacity as a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He tells NRO that Lynch, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, is quieter and more restrained than Holder, which he worries will deflect attention from some of the Justice Department’s more outrageous actions and policies.

Vitter’s warning about Lynch should not be taken lightly. While he previously said that Holder has directly attacked his state more than any other attorney general has, Vitter thinks Lynch may pose an even greater threat. In their extensive one-on-one meeting, Vitter says, Lynch would not answer several of his questions about her position on the president’s executive action on immigration. His Republican colleagues have refrained from raising questions about her nomination, which has puzzled him, given the intense debate the execute action is inspiring in the Capitol.

Republicans’ chances of blocking Lynch’s confirmation will depend upon her performance before the Judiciary Committee. “You’ve got to get her to say something absolutely outrageous during the hearings, because most people don’t follow this stuff that closely,” GOP strategist Ford O’Connell tells NRO. “You cannot just go in there and go, ‘I can’t stand you, the Obama administration stinks.’” O’Connell says that if Republicans appear to be picking on an African-American woman and using her confirmation hearing to voice their grievances with the Obama administration, then public opinion could quickly turn against them. He adds that he thinks Republicans will ultimately cut a deal with the White House and confirm her. Republicans should use Lynch’s confirmation hearing, he suggests, to fight the executive action, since they probably won’t be able to extract much from the White House in return for approving her nomination.

Read more from Ryan Lovelace at National Review Online

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Chris Christie basks In NFL Limelight

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is ready for some football.

A spokesman confirmed Friday that the governor will be traveling to Lambeau Field on Sunday to cheer on his Dallas Cowboys in their playoff clash against the Green Bay Packers — and he will have his now-famous “lucky” orange sweater with him.

Christie’s Cowboys fandom is genuine, but it is also paying rich political dividends, observers say.

Strategists on both sides of the aisle are shaking their heads in awed disbelief at how the governor has milked his enthusiasm for the NFL, one of the most popular institutions in the country, for political gain ahead of a possible run for the White House.

“No question about it, the best thing that could happen for Christie is for the Cowboys to keep winning,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell.

No other candidate, Republican or Democrat, has attracted so much attention of late from the huge swathe of the public that takes only a passing interest in politics.

“It’s off the charts,” O’Connell said of Christie’s media savvy.

The message is clear. Christie seems content to ride the Cowboys wave until it crashes, with the best-case scenario for him being a trip to Phoenix for the Super Bowl in February.

“Football is an American sport and he’s rooting for America’s team,” O’Connell said. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Read more from Jonathan Easley at The Hill

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John Boehner Should Pardon Speaker Coup Plotters

Normally in the attempted coup business, this is the part where the plotters get punished.

Those 25 Republicans who made a run at dumping John Boehner (R-Ohio) as Speaker of the House did not succeed in stopping the Speaker from winning a third term.

They had the backing of the American people — 60 percent of those who voted for Republicans in the 2014 midterms say they want a new Speaker.

hey had more rebels willing to take the risks than at any time in the last 100 years.

And they had momentum with voters resoundingly favoring conservative candidates and conservative policies in the elections.

Voters did not go for pastel. They went for "end ObamaCare, defund amnesty, lower taxes now." These are bright colors, bold distinctions, and they are not Boehner's cup of tea.

But what the plotters didn't have was a coordinated strategy for pulling it off or a candidate to siphon enough votes to force extra ballots. They tried to beat something with nothing, and the results were sadly predictable.

But what now? Should the speaker not exact revenge if for no other reason than to enforce party discipline?

Read more from Ford O'Connell at The Hill

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Chris Christie Tests Limits Of Authenticity

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's political brand is built almost entirely around a single personality trait: authenticity.

He's a self-styled what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of politician, unapologetic that his blunt style can come across as brash. The approach has earned Christie plenty of love for being himself and sets him apart from other potential 2016 presidential contenders such as Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, who often come across as stiffer and more disciplined.

Christie's authenticity was on full display this week when he stood by his beloved Dallas Cowboys. In the face of Internet bullies who shunned his love for America's Team or mocked his bear hug with Jerry Jones, Christie brazenly defended his lifelong loyalty for an out-of-state team that's either the most loved or most hated franchise in the NFL.

Voters often say they're looking for real, genuine candidates. But striking that perfect balance of authenticity without being too hot or too cold is "one of the most difficult lines to navigate" for a politician, said GOP strategist Ford O'Connell.

"And that balance is different for every candidate because you don't know what the candidate is going to do until you shine the spotlight on them," O'Connell said.

O'Connell, the GOP strategist, acknowledges there's always a risk in being too much of yourself on the campaign trail. But at the end of the day, he argued, "it's better to be too authentic than to be too plastic."

Read more from Ashley Killough at CNN

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Mitt Romney, Chris Christie Share Charlie Baker’s Spotlight

Gov. Charlie Baker’s inauguration served as a victory lap for former Gov. Mitt Romney and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, both of whom stumped for Baker and countless other GOP gubernatorial and congressional candidates across the country last year while boosting their own profiles ahead of the 2016 presidential race.

But their successful campaigning, which helped Republicans gain a number of governorships and take control of Congress, won’t be enough for Christie or Romney to overcome major political handicaps, political watchdogs said. Their biggest problem: Jeb Bush.

“Charlie was a big win in an arctic blue state,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell.

As for 2016, Bush “is pushing the timeline up,” O’Connell said ­— a possible attempt by Bush to keep Romney and Christie out and court their potential backers.

Read more from Kimberly Atkins at The Boston Herald

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