James Carville once said running for President is kind of like sex, most people want to do it more than once. In this spirit, Rick Santorum has decided to get screwed over once again. The two-term Pennsylvania Republican Senator is going to give it another go in 2016. Santorum, who shocked the political world by winning the Iowa Caucuses and came with about 2 percentage points in Ohio or Michigan from throwing the 2012 GOP race into chaos, will start out as an underdog. However, that is where he began last time.
If he is going to be in the mix Santorum will need the support of social conservatives, who were critical to his campaign last time. Can you get them? He will certainly have challengers in the form of Cruz, Paul and Huckabee. One advantage he has is that this isn’t his first rodeo. Unlike Paul and Cruz, has been through this before so there are no new revelations about him to be unearthed. If you don’t believe me Google it.
Honestly, Santorum is yesterday’s news who caught the anti-Romney wave in the 2012 primary at just the right time. This time he won’t have Willard Romney to kick around so I really doubt he’ll get out of single digits in the polls. He will probably grab the most headlines with his passionate attacks on gay marriage and the GOP becoming more socially moderate. Surely, he’ll go after any candidate who dears to push the party in that direction.
Look out Supreme Court here comes gay marriage. Today’s ruling that upholds state’s ban on gay marriage means that you have contradictory rulings from Circuits. That would seem to serve up a perfect reason for the Supreme Court to take up the issue upon appeal.
You can bet that ruling will light a fire under social conservatives and mean gay marriage will remain a litmus test in the GOP primary.
Rand Paul may have earned the undying love of Reason Magazine and GOProud but the following quote may kill him in Iowa and South Carolina:
“I don’t want my guns registered in Washington or my marriage. Founding Fathers all got married by going down to the local courthouse. It is a local issue and always has been. Society’s changing. I mean, people change their minds all the time on this issue, and even within the Republican Party, there are people whose child turns out to be gay and they’re like, oh well maybe I want to rethink this issue. So it’s been rethought. The President’s rethought the issue. So I mean, a lot of people have rethought the issue.”
First, this is a no-go with social conservatives. If you don’t believe me go back and watch the Values Voter Summit from last week. You simply cannot win Iowa or South Carolina without the support of Christian conservatives. Exit polls from Iowa show and South Carolina show they made up the majority of voters. You can bet this issue is going to be stoked by people like Huckabee, Cruz and Santorum. They know social conservatives panic when they see the progress gay rights has made in the past decade and are looking for a champion to stand up and fitgh against this.
Third it adds to the narrative that Paul is not really one of them. Take his wanting to eliminate aid to Israel and his position on drugs and a theme starts to form that Paul isn’t really someone social conservatives can call one of their own. Certainly Cruz and Huckabee will push this message.
Lastly, Paul equated himself to Barack Obama in the quote. That’s a not a winner with today’s GOP.
The GOP fight is going to be nasty and Paul has given his opponents some ammo with this one.
You heard it here first. Ted Cruz is the favorite to win Iowa. Oh, I know he is not top of any poll among likely Caucus goers. He certainly is not topping any national polls. Sure there is no Cruz Fever About to Sweep the Country articles about to appear in Time, the Washington Post or New York Times that libertarians seemingly get for blinking these days. But none of that matters now.
As he demonstrated at the Values Voter Summit this weekend, Cruz is emerging at the choice of social conservatives. As Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum showed with their wins in 2008 and 2012 that is the key group in Iowa. Granted both Huckabee and the New Robert Evans will run again (seriously, what else do they have to do with themselves) but they are both retreads. Cruz is a new fresh face and a much more skilled debater and speaker.
As for the crop of younger challengers, this weekend as demonstrated that Washington-media darling Rand Paul has a great deal of work to do. His support for legalizing drugs and cutting foreign aid to Israel will remain barriers for him to build support among this social conservatives. In addition, Paul’s recent ambiguity on gay marriage doesn’t help with social conservatives. You notice he didn’t even come in second in the straw poll.
Before you know it it’ll be January or February 2016 in Iowa and Ted Cruz will be making his victory speech and the Bush Republicans will be freaking out. Just remember you heard it here first.
You may hear many times over the next few days that the GOP needs to change to appeal to new audiences. Yes, I know my last post said that the GOP must find ways to gain support from Northern Virginia and from nonwhites.
But let’s be clear that some things are just not going to change in the GOP anytime soon. First, the GOP is not becoming pro-choice on the issue of abortion. The life issue is a key motivator for people becoming part of the GOP and it’s something that if you surveyed state party officials, county party leaders and precinct captains I would be stunned if the percentage of pro-lifers was less than 70%.
Second is guns. The GOP is not going to start pushing for gun control. Like abortion it is one of the things that makes people Republicans.
Areas where the party might be in the market to change is on issues relating to gay rights (after all several Republican Senators just voted for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act) and outreach to Latinos. But both of those will still be contentious fights within the party.
It looks like the Culture War is moving its way to the good old Rust Belt. In particular Ohio and Pennsylvania are going to host a few fights over gay marriage.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision gay couples in Ohio and Pennsylvania are pushing for marriage rights. A Cincinnati couple just won a court case forcing the Buckeye state to recognize their marriage in Maryland. This has already kicked off a great deal of political grandstanding.
Former U.S. Senator and current Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has promised to appeal the court’s ruling. DeWine’s getting a little push back because one of the spouses is dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease – ouch. Of course, DeWine’s probably doing this to please Christian Conservative voters he’ll need in 2014.
Ohio Governor, and probable 2016 GOP candidate, John Kasich has only said the following through a spokesmen:
“We don’t comment on pending litigation other than to say the that the governor believes that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
I am guessing Kasich will make a bigger deal out of this after there is a ruling on the appeal. You can bet if he is serious about 2016 he will definitely have something to say. After all, Kasich doesn’t want any one getting the wrong idea about him.
At the same time, Montgomery County in Pennsylvania has started issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. The Keystone state currently has a gay marriage ban. Republican Governor Corbett says the law must be upheld but the state’s Attorney General, and probable Democratic nominee for Governor in 2014, has said she will not defend the state’s marriage ban in court.
Considering how Ohio and Pennsylvania are swing states which side wins will give us a clue if a cultural move to the left is a phenomenon of a few coastal states or is it much broader. Either way it looks like a real mosh pit in the Rust Belt.
The clip below shows the problems the GOP is going to have dealing with gay marriage over the next few years:
Priebus says in the clip the GOP is a party that believes marriage is between one man and one woman. However he wants them to be respectful in telling gays and the straight people who support marriage equality that gay marriage is a bad public policy. For some reason I don’t see that going down well in communities like Fairfax County or the Denver suburbs.
This speaks a larger point that the GOP will change how it says stuff but not what it says. That seems based on a premise that people don’t really vote on issues it is all just about image. Is that why Mitt Romney lost? Did Latinos and gay couples just think he wasn’t a nice guy? Or could it be that on some big issues they had some disagreements?
Watching the clip again you can see also that Priebus knows he is kind of trapped.
The reason he went on the Christian Broadcast Network is because Evangelical Christians are a major voting bloc in the Republican coalition. At a party level Conservative Evangelical Christians control the state parties throughout the South. You may remember the McCain campaign wanted to have VP nominee that was pro-choice (either Lieberman or Ridge) and the party chairs said they’d sit the election out if McCain did that. On a sheer turnout level if large numbers Evangelical stayed home on election day because they thought the party was too liberal social issues, the GOP would get slaughtered.
However, if the party only makes that segment of its coalition happy on issues like gay marriage and abortion then they will alienate moderates (for further proof look at the Virginia Lt. Governor’s race) and lose close elections.
Priebus and more importantly the party’s 2016 nominee are going to have to find a way to navigate these very tough waters and keep everybody happy. Best of luck fellas.