Republicans Enter Straw Poll Carrying Torches

Lynda Waddington

Though the American public has been mostly insulated from the near brawls between the Republican hopefuls, Sunday's ABC Presidential Forum in Des Moines has begun to drag some of the GOP carnage into the spotlight.

While minor scuffles between the Democratic presidential hopefuls have been big news over the past few days, the American public has been mostly insulated from the near brawls between the Republican hopefuls. Sunday's ABC Presidential Forum in Des Moines, however, has begun to drag some of the GOP carnage into the spotlight.

"Virtually nothing in that ad is true," said former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney when confronted with the text of an automated attack phone call concerning the issue of abortion paid for by Brownback for President, highlighting what appear to be inconsistencies with the politician's stance. "The single word I'd use would be 'desperate' or perhaps 'negative.'"

Text of Automated Phone Call

"Hello, this is an urgent alert for pro-life Iowa Republican voters. The Straw Poll is coming up in a few weeks and Mitt Romney is telling Iowans he's firmly pro-life. Nothing could be further from the truth. As late as 2005, Mitt Romney pledged to support and uphold pro-abortion policies and passed taxpayer funding of abortions in Massachusetts. His wife Ann has contributed money to Planned Parenthood. Mitt told the National Abortion Rights Action League that 'you need someone like me in Washington.' Romney still supports life-destructive embryonic stem cell research and he still opposes the Human Life Amendment which is part of the Republican Party's platform. Stand up for life and say no to Romney. This call has been paid for by Brownback for President."

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ABC's George Stephanopoulos pressed Romney to specifically state what in the ad was untrue. In response, Romney stated, "I am pro-life. That's the truth." He went on to add that "the best way to learn about someone is not by asking their opponent, but ask them."

During the forum Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback said he stands by the text of the automated call.

"That's a truthful ad," said Brownback. "That's what campaigns are about — getting the truth out, expressing the differences between the candidates."

Before the discussion had ended, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson had their say as well.

"I believe the best way we can have common ground in this debate that you're hearing is if we put our emphasis on reducing abortions and increasing the number of adoptions, which is something I did as mayor of New York City," Giuliani said. "But I think, ultimately, that decision that has to be made is one government shouldn't make. Ultimately, the woman should make that with her conscience and with her doctor."

The former mayor received a limited round of applause for his views on the subject.

"Every year the Republican Party both at the state level in Iowa and nationally comes out very avidly and passionately on being pro-life," said Thompson. "I think any candidate that is pro-choice is going to have difficulty with the party faithful and those individuals who have come to the district, state and national meetings and have avowed time and time again that this party, the Republican Party, is a party of pro-life."

Thompson went on to say that being so "tied up in one issue" is preventing a national discussion on larger issues that affect all Americans such as health care.

In contrast, however, McCain, when asked by Stephanopoulos if focusing on one thing was distracting from issues of national security, said he would not agree that discussions on abortion are distracting from other needed conversations.

"I think the respect and commitment to the rights of the unborn is something I fought for and it has a lot to do with national security," McCain said. "It says very much what kind of a country we are and our respect for human life whether it be here in the United States or in China or Bangladesh or the Congo or any place else in the world. So I think it is connected."

On Monday the Brownback team continued to pound Romney on the abortion issue. A press release arrived at roughly 4 p.m. containing a link to the Brownback blog and another link to a newly created video on YouTube. The video features Brownback as a talking head, voicing his displeasure not only with Romney refusing to own up to the assertions in the original robo-call, but also with "name calling."

"You can call somebody a name, but facts are more stubborn," says Brownback in the video.

So, what are the facts? According to Tahman Bradley of the ABC News fact check, there was more than one step outside the lines of "truthiness" during the forum. Bradley says that Giuliani may have crossed the line when highlighting his accomplishments in increasing adoptions.

A review of an official New York City document conducted by looking at adoptions over a ten-year span shows that although Giuliani increased adoptions at a rate higher than his predecessor David Dinkins, adoptions under Giuliani declined five out of the last six years he was in office. Perhaps the former mayor is overstating his accomplishments just a bit. Depends on how you look at it.

Romney also appears to have veered left during his assertion that he has not been in favor of taxpayer funded abortion.

But according to an article published by the Boston Globe dated March 25, 2005, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood indicates that Romney said he "professed support for state funding of abortion services for low-income women" when answering a Planned Parenthood questionnaire.

Only days remain for things to heat up for the Iowa Republican Party fund-raiser known as the Ames Straw Poll. If we all sit quietly, we'll probably be able to hear the Bic lighters flicking.

News Politics

Colorado Republicans Pick Anti-Choice County Commissioner for U.S. Senate Race

Jason Salzman

Darryl Glenn, an anti-choice Colorado Springs County Commissioner, defeated a pro-choice GOP rival and three other anti-choice Republicans in the race to take on pro-choice Sen. Michael Bennet in November.

In Colorado’s Republican senatorial primary Tuesday, Darryl Glenn, a conservative county commissioner from Colorado Springs, scored a decisive victory over Jack Graham, a former Colorado State University official, who stood out from the GOP field of five candidates for his atypical pro-choice stance.

Glenn received about 38 percent of the primary vote versus nearly 25 percent for Graham, who finished second.

Glenn made no secret of his anti-choice stance during the primary election, describing himself in interviews as an “unapologetic Christian, constitutional conservative” and supporting “personhood” rights for fertilized human eggs (zygotes), a stance that could outlaw abortion and many forms of contraception.

Consistent with this, Glenn is also opposed to the Roe v. Wade decision.

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Glenn frequently brought up his faith in interviews. For example, Glenn broke out from his Republican rivals at the GOP state convention in April, where he gave an impassioned speech during which he discussed Planned Parenthood and opposing abortion ​before delegates voted him on to the GOP primary ballot.

Asked about the speech by conservative radio host Richard Randall, Glenn said, “Well, that wasn’t me. That was the Holy Spirit coming through, just speaking the truth.”

Seriously?” replied the KVOR radio host.

Absolutely,” Glenn replied on air. “This campaign has always been about honoring and serving God and stepping up and doing the right thing.”

Political observers say Glenn’s position on abortion, coupled with his other conservative stances and his promise never to compromise, spell trouble for him in November’s general election against Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.

“Glenn’s stance on abortion isn’t necessarily disqualifying,” Jennifer Duffy, senior editor of the Cook Political Report, which offers non-partisan election analysis, in Washington D.C., told Rewire via email. “Colorado has sent pro-life Republicans to the Senate. But, the cumulative effect of all Glenn’s conservative positions on social, economic, and foreign policy, as well as his association with Tea Party-affiliated groups and his lack of funding make it very, very difficult to see a path to victory for him.”

In the final weeks of the primary, Glenn was supported by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Glenn’s ties to the right wing of the Republican Party drew criticism during the campaign from GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He criticized Glenn for accepting the endorsement of the Senate Conservatives Fund, which gave Glenn $500,000.

Duffy doesn’t expect the race to be “very competitive,” an observation that aligns with the “Democrat favored” assessment of the race by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report. Last year, Bennet was widely considered one of only two vulnerable U.S. Senate Democrats.

“Darryl Glenn’s support for ‘personhood’ puts him on the wrong side of Colorado voters’ values, including many pro-choice Republicans and unaffiliated voters,” said Karen Middleton, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, in an email to Rewire. “Support for reproductive freedom crosses party lines in Colorado, as demonstrated by the landslide losses by three ‘personhood’ ballot measures. Glenn’s chances of beating pro-choice champion Michael Bennet were already slim. This puts it closer to none.”

Glenn did not immediately return a call for comment.

In 2014, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), who is anti-choice, defeated pro-choice Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, who hammered Gardner on his abortion stance throughout the campaign. 

Gardner threw his support behind Glenn Wednesday, reportedly saying to Roll Call that Glenn has fundraising challenges ahead of him but that he’s “winning when nobody expected him to.” And that, Gardner was quoted as saying, “bodes well for November.”

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Cruz Likens His Supreme Court Pick to ‘Lord of the Rings’ Character

Ally Boguhn

This week on the campaign trail, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz spoke about whom they would nominate for the vacant Supreme Court seat, and Trump saw his favorability plummet among women.

This week on the campaign trail, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz spoke about whom they would nominate for the vacant Supreme Court seat, and Trump saw his favorability plummet among women.

Cruz, Trump Discuss Their Supreme Court Nominations

Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Donald Trump were hard at work dreaming up possibilities for a Supreme Court nominee should the Senate obstruct Obama’s pick for the vacancy.

Appearing at a rally over the weekend for Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-UT) bid for re-election, Cruz commented that Lee “would look good” on the Supreme Court. Cruz compared Lee to Gollum, a character from Lord of the Rings, claiming that “For Mike, the Constitution is ‘my precious,'” according to the Salt Lake Tribune. 

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Lee’s work opposing abortion during his time in Congress earned him a 100 percent rating from the anti-choice National Right to Life Committee. The Republican senator has supported several measures attempting to limit access to or outright ban abortion, including a 2013 bill to investigate all abortion clinics and extend “personhood” rights beginning at the moment of fertilization, which could outlaw many forms of birth control in addition to abortion.

Lee’s 2010 campaign website included a section noting his opposition to legal abortion and Roe v. Wade:

The Constitution says nothing that can plausibly be read to suggest—as the Supreme Court concluded in Roe v. Wade—that States are essentially powerless to protect unborn human life. This power to protect the most vulnerable members of society needs to be returned to the States.

Donald Trump also signaled he was mulling over potential picks for the Court’s vacancy, promising during a Monday press conference in Washington, D.C., to release a list of seven to ten potential picks. If elected, Trump vowed to choose nominees exclusively from the list, which he said will be created by the “Heritage Foundation and others.”

But as ThinkProgress reported, the Heritage Foundation “is an odd place for a presidential candidate to seek advice on any topic” given its history of discriminatory politics:

Heritage is a think tank known for its stridently conservative views and its unorthodox approach to mathematics. They oppose marriage equality, defend discrimination against LGBT Americans, and they have a surprisingly long history of reversing their own stances on health policy when doing so is useful to opponents of Obamacare. Their former chief “economist” is an ex-newspaper columnist and anti-tax activist with no doctorate in economics.

In 2013, Heritage released a widely criticized report claiming that immigration reform would cost an eye-popping $6.3 trillion. One of the co-authors of that report resigned four days later after news broke that “his graduate dissertation on immigration was premised on the idea that Latinos were less intelligent than whites.”

The Heritage Foundation is vehemently anti-choice, a position that could inform its picks for the Court. The organization’s “Solutions 2016” policy recommendations include calls to expand bans on using federal funding for abortion, redirect funding for reproductive health away from Planned Parenthood to community health centers, and codify protections for “medical personnel who decline to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.” Its website also details the organization’s opposition to Roe v. Wade, dismissing the decision as “judicial activism.”

Poll: 74 Percent of Women Registered to Vote Hold Unfavorable Views of Trump

A CNN/ORC International poll released Thursday found that Donald Trump is viewed unfavorably by 74 percent of registered women voters and 81 percent of people of color.

The poll, which asked registered voters whether they “have a favorable or unfavorable opinion” of presidential candidates, shows potentially major hurdles for the Republican front-runner moving into the general election. Comparably, 50 percent of women and 36 percent of “non-white” people polled said they had an “unfavorable” view of Hillary Clinton.

Polling from the Washington Post similarly found that Trump’s favorability among women has been steadily decliningjeopardizing the Republican Party’s already tumultuous relationship with women. “Trump’s favorability numbers have decreased 10 points among women nationwide since November, to 23 percent, while his unfavorable number among women has jumped to 75 percent from 64 percent, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll taken this month,” reported the Post.

What Else We’re Reading

Franklin Foer explained for Slate that “there’s one ideology that [Trump] does hold with sincerity and practices with unwavering fervor: misogyny.”

The Washington Post’s Karen Attiah wrote about the sexism she experienced from Donald Trump after asking him a policy question during his sit-down with the paper’s editorial board.

ThinkProgress’ Aaron Rupar explains how the Republican presidential race has turned into a “sexist competition over whose wife is hotter.”

Voters in Arizona had to wait in line as long as five hours to cast a ballot in their state’s Tuesday primary thanks to a Supreme Court decision that “gutted” the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and “an ill-conceived decision” to cut polling locations in order to save money. As the Nation reported, “Phoenix’s Maricopa County, the largest in the state, reduced the number of polling places by 70 percent from 2012 to 2016, from 200 to just 60—one polling place per every 21,000 voters”a change that “would very likely have been blocked” had the VRA’s protections remained intact.

Bernie Sanders applauded Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton’s request for a Department of Justice investigation into voting delays in Maricopa County.

Dark money groups in Wisconsin are outspending candidates on ads for the Wisconsin Supreme Court race. When voters head to the polls for the April 5 judicial elections, “they won’t know who funded most of the ad spending around this race,” said the Sunlight Foundation’s Libby Watson.