Reince Preibus to NBC: No More Debates For You!

Photo credit: Geoffrey Fairchild via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

In a letter to NBC News today, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus announced that the Republican Party was suspending its planned February debate on the network. Priebus made no secret why he’s pulling out, placing the blame squarely on CNBC’s disastrous moderating job this Wednesday: “The CNBC network is one of your media properties, and its handling of the debate was conducted in bad faith.”

You can read Priebus’ letter below:

Mr. Andrew Lack Chairman, NBC News 30 Rockefeller Plaza New York, New York 10112

Dear Mr. Lack,

I write to inform you that pending further discussion between the Republican National Committee (RNC) and our presidential campaigns, we are suspending the partnership with NBC News for the Republican primary debate at the University of Houston on February 26, 2016. The RNC’s sole role in the primary debate process is to ensure that our candidates are given a full and fair opportunity to lay out their vision for America’s future. We simply cannot continue with NBC without full consultation with our campaigns.

The CNBC network is one of your media properties, and its handling of the debate was conducted in bad faith. We understand that NBC does not exercise full editorial control over CNBC’s journalistic approach. However, the network is an arm of your organization, and we need to ensure there is not a repeat performance.

CNBC billed the debate as one that would focus on “the key issues that matter to all voters—job growth, taxes, technology, retirement and the health of our national economy.”  That was not the case.

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Top Four Reasons Even the Liberal Media Hated the CNBC Moderators

If you watched the GOP debate last night, you probably cringed at the blatant partisanship on display from the moderators.  It wasn’t just you; the rest of the media was disgusted with how CNBC handled the debate.  Skeptical?  Here were four reasons even liberal news outlets couldn’t hide their disgust:

1.) The moderator’s questions were “awkward and fumbling.”

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

…From Twitter snark to the spin room, CNBC took a beating for questioning that was awkward and fumbling at times, and at others seemed derived from an opposition research book.

2.) They tried to create stupid controversies.

From Rasmussen:

 Seventy-five percent (75%) of Likely U.S. Voters believe that when it comes to covering prospective presidential candidates, the media is more interested in creating controversies about them than it is in reporting where they stand on the issues.

The questions asked by the CNBC reporter-moderators in the early going last night showed exactly why voters feel this way, and Senator Ted Cruz called them on it.

3.) Rick Santelli and Jim Cramer competed for the James T. Kirk Overacting Ham of the Year Award.

From Slate:

…But mostly CNBC’s debate was mess—and to regular CNBC viewers, a familiar one. How bad was it? Straight-ahead moderators John Harwood and Becky Quick seemed to be broadcasting from Planet Face the Nation, lobbing serious policy questions. Meanwhile, the more flamboyant Cramer and Santelli practically competed for overacting honors.

4.) CNBC’s “smarmy moderators had it coming.”

From The Boston Globe:

…It was brutal takedown, and CNBC’s smarmy moderators had it coming.

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Top 3 Marco Rubio Moments From Last Night’s CNBC Debate (VIDEO)

Senator Ted Cruz may have dropped the best opening line in calling out the moderators last night, but Senator Marco Rubio arguably gave the most solid performance.  Rubio had a lot of good applause lines last night, but here are three of the best:

3). On Medicare: “I’m against anything that’s bad for my mother.”

The moderators at CNBC wasted no time trying to paint the Republican candidates as unreliable champions of social security, spending a good portion of the debate highlighting the cuts that would have to be made to reform the program and asking repeatedly whether it was moral to break a social compact.  Rubio stopped those arguments cold by pointing out that the GOP wasn’t talking about cuts for current beneficiaries, but rather were referring to people like Rubio and Cruz who would have more time to adjust to the changes.  To underscore how serious he was about this, Rubio invoked his mother as the ultimate assurance that current benefits wouldn’t be touched:

2.) Crushes Jeb Bush’s fake concern about his absences

This will likely be remembered as the moment when Marco Rubio officially stepped out of Jeb Bush’s shadow.  Bush went for what seemed like an easy target by pointing out that Rubio has missed more votes since he started running for president, but Rubio was ready with a comeback of his own.  I especially liked his closer, where he accused Bush of bringing it up “because we’re running for the same position, and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you”:

1.) The Democrats have the ultimate Super PAC, and it’s called the Mainstream Media

This was Rubio’s best response of the night, without a doubt.  Continue Reading

“The Kelly File” Covers Latino Backlash Against Trump, Cruz

Alfonso Aguilar, the director of APP’s Latino Partnership and occasional contributor to The Pulse 2016, joined Megyn Kelly to talk about this week’s gathering of Latino activists in Boulder, Colo., and how it will shape the Republican primary.  Aguilar called immigration a “gateway issue” for the Latino community and said that while there is a “big difference” between the rhetoric of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, neither is doing what’s necessary to win the Latino vote in 2016.  You can watch the full interview and read the transcript below:

MEGYN KELLY: Joining me now is Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of American Principles Project’s Latino Partnership. Plus, Chris Salcedo, he’s the executive director for the Conservative Hispanic Society.

Great to see you both. Thank you very much for being here. So Mr. Trump is going to be under the microscope as I understand it, along with Ted Cruz. And the question is, what, if any, issues do you have with these two gentlemen. Start with you, Alfonso.

ALFONSO AGUILAR, AMERICAN PRINCIPLES PROJECT: Well, I think we’re going to look at all of the candidates. We want to look at the entire GOP field and see what they’re talking about in not only terms of immigration but all the issues. For Hispanics, immigration is an important issue.  It’s not the number one issue. It’s a significant issue. A gateway issue to get into the Latino community. If a republican candidate doesn’t deal with immigration in a constructive way —

KELLY: OK. But is it an open minded thing?

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Kasich Thumps Trump

Ford is cancelling plans to move thousands of jobs to Mexico, and two candidates are fighting over the credit.  GOP front-runner Donald Trump was the first to claim victory, claiming that his “badgering” was the reason Ford changed its mind:

Kasich didn’t take Trump’s claim lying down, however, arguing that the actual deal to bring Ford back was struck four years earlier:

“Our country needs real leadership and not empty, false rhetoric. Working as a TEAM, we brought Ford production jobs back from Mexico to Ohio years ago. That’s how things really get done. Hard work and teamwork brings results for the people,” Kasich said in a blog post on his site. “Our nation needs a leader with a record of actually delivering for all of us, that’s why I’m running for President.”

So who’s telling the truth?  The Dispatch tried to sort out the disagreement and reported mixed findings:

Here’s a Toledo Blade story from four years ago, announcing the move from Mexico to Lorain County.

But Rowland reports there is more to all of this. “As the CNN Money article pointed out, Ford has been taking heat for about six months after announcing plans to invest $2.5 billion in transmission plants in Chihuahua and Guanajuato, creating about 3,800 jobs in Mexico,” Rowland writes. 

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Carson Takes a National Lead Over Trump

Ben Carson’s Iowa surge seems to be happening nationwide, as the neurosurgeon overtakes front runner Donald Trump in a new CBS/New York Times poll:

Twenty-six percent of Republican primary voters back Carson, giving him a four-point edge over Trump (22 percent). Support for Carson has quadrupled since August.

The rest of the Republican presidential candidates lag far behind in single digits. Marco Rubio is now in third place (eight percent), followed by Jeb Bush (seven percent) and Carly Fiorina (seven percent). All other candidates are at four percent or lower.

The new poll also notes that Carson has made gains across the spectrum, running ahead of Trump among women and virtually tied with him among men.  Also striking is the key Evangelical demographic, with whom he beats Trump by over 20 points.

If there’s any good news for Trump, it’s that less than a third (28%) of respondents say they’ve completely made up their minds about who to support.  The majority (71%) are still weighing their options.

Nick Arnold is a researcher for the American Principles Project. Continue Reading

Rubio: Trump’s Immigration Rhetoric Is “Absurd”

Marco Rubio challenged Donald Trump on Sunday for his position on immigration, saying that Trump is a flip-flopper on the issue who has changed his position over the past six months.  He also targeted Trump’s new position as “absurd”:

“His rhetoric is a little louder, but if you think about his position on immigration six months ago, his position on immigration six months ago is nothing like his position on immigration now. Even what he’s saying now borders on the absurd,” Rubio said.

“It’s just Donald being Donald,” he added to dismiss Trump’s position.

Among other things, Trump has called for the deportation of every single person who came into the US illegally, saying he would let the “wonderful cases” back into the country. Trump has also called for a massive wall — he suggested this weekend that it could be 40- or 50- feet high — and for Mexico to pay for it.

Nick Arnold is a researcher for the American Principles Project. Continue Reading

Lindsey Graham Has No Clue Why He’s Losing to Trump and Carson (VIDEO)

Incredulity is setting in for Senator Lindsey Graham, a presidential candidate who has polled somewhere between zero and one percent for the last five polls.  Graham is looking at the candidates at the top of the polls and asking: How’d I fall behind these people?

Can I give you my take on this race? So you’ve got the two front runners on the Democratic side, right? The No. 2 guy went to the Soviet Union on his honeymoon and I don’t think he ever came back. The leader felt she was flat broke after her husband was president for eight years — and that’s maybe why they stole the china. On our side, you’ve got the No. 2 guy who tried to kill somebody at 14. The No. 1 guy is high energy and crazy as hell. How am I losing to these people?

There are several possible answers to Graham’s question.  It could be his tepid support for religious liberty protections or his missed vote on defunding Planned Parenthood.  Or maybe people just don’t like the perception that he stepped in to troll Rand Paul.

Nick Arnold is a researcher for the American Principles Project. Continue Reading

Washington Christian Conservatives Jumping Aboard Trump Train?

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Donald Trump spoke to the Council for National Policy last week, where he was reportedly well received.  Trump’s pitch was unique in that its main focus was his support among the evangelical base:

First, he focused on his record of success in the business world, distinguishing himself from politicians who talk a good game but fail to deliver results. Then, he pivoted to demonstrate his kinship with the audience. He did so not by pandering on their pet issues, but by reading from a stack of annotated polling data he’d carried onto the stage. In particular, he noted the cross-tabs showing his support among evangelicals and self-described tea partiers.

“His message was, ‘Your people are for me, and all you leaders ought to be for me too. You guys need to realize where your followers are, and get in line with them,’” says one prominent activist who was in the room. “And he did that by reading poll results, line by line. He is a genius when it comes to using the bandwagon effect.”

Trump’s message, along with some well placed answers to questions about defunding Planned Parenthood and who he would nominate to the Supreme Court (he named Thomas as his model jurist), apparently won “huge applause” and impressed a lot of social conservatives who had previously been skeptical of his candidacy:

…“What I saw from him blew me away — not because he won over people in the room but because he disarmed people in the room.

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Eleven Blocked Planned Parenthood Videos Released by Hacker

This is a proud day for computer nerds everywhere.

Remember that restraining order placed on the Center for Medical Progress’ video series on Planned Parenthood’s organ sales program?  Well, one enterprising hacker has just made sure the blocked footage finally saw the light of day!  LifeSiteNews reports:

The website claims it has obtained and released “all” the remaining undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials shot by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), including videos that were blocked from being released to the public by a court order.

Eleven previously unseen videos have been uploaded to YouTube.

The website’s founder, journalist Charles C. Johnson, said that an internet hacker named Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer obtained the footage and uploaded it to YouTube.

“This material was turned over by Congressional whistleblowers not subject to the court order,” Auernheimer said.

The videos, which range in length from just over one minute to more than 36 minutes, contain more intrepid footage of abortion industry officials.

Unsurprisingly, the National Abortion Federation is already trying to silence them under the excuse that they are “in active concert or consultation with” CMP’s David Daleiden and are subject to his restraining order.  Johnson disagrees, and says he’ll go to the Supreme Court if necessary to keep the videos up:

“The law firm wants to turn over all texts, emails with Daleiden. This is easy. There aren’t any,” he wrote.

“ will contest any unconstitutional prior restraint of speech all the way to the highest courts in the land,” he added.

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