Politics: Congress

Kelly on Giffords: ‘It’s Great to Have Her Here’

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June 16, 2011, 12:26 p.m.

Ex-AK Gov. Sarah Pal­in (R) “is rais­ing new spec­u­la­tion in con­ser­vat­ive circles that she is already pre­par­ing” for a WH ‘12 bid. “In the latest and clearest ex­ample of her plans,” Pal­in met with roughly 50 nat’l con­ser­vat­ive lead­ers 10/6 in Palm Beach, FL, “where she dis­cussed eco­nom­ic and dip­lo­mat­ic policy and led some to de­clare that she’s in the race.”

“The meet-and-greet was or­gan­ized by the con­ser­vat­ive magazine and web­site News­max and its boss Chris­toph­er Ruddy.” Ruddy, whose web­site helped sell 250K of Pal­in’s ‘08 cam­paign book, ar­ranged for Pal­in to be in­ter­viewed by ra­dio host Mi­chael Re­agan for an up­com­ing web­cast dubbed “Make Amer­ica Great Again.” Pal­in will kick off the web­cast cam­paign 10/12. Her next book, “Amer­ica By Heart,” is due out next month.

“Be­cause of its ties to con­ser­vat­ive lead­ers and donors, News­max plays a broad role in con­ser­vat­ive polit­ics and is fast be­com­ing the place” for po­ten­tial WH ‘12 can­did­ates to be seen. Already ex-MA Gov. Mitt Rom­ney (R) and ex-FL Gov. Jeb Bush (R) have stopped by for in­ter­views. One con­ser­vat­ive lead­er said Pal­in’s trip to News­max “was the strongest sign yet that she’s plan­ning to run.”

Ruddy presen­ted Pal­in with a faux News­max cov­er show­ing her run­ning for WH ‘12. It was head­lined: “Yes in 2012.”

At a later re­cep­tion and din­ner, “she made her case on sev­er­al is­sues to top con­ser­vat­ive lead­ers,” among them, Amer­ic­ans for Tax Re­form pres. Grover Nor­quist, FNC com­ment­at­or/ex-Bill Clin­ton ad­viser Dick Mor­ris, ex-Chris­ti­an Co­ali­tion head Ral­ph Reed, and WV SEN nom­in­ee John Raese (R) (Be­d­ard, U.S. News & World Re­port, 10/7).

Pal­in “told a small stu­dio audi­ence” dur­ing the tap­ing of a News­max.com web­cast that she would run for WH ‘12 if “the Amer­ic­an people” want her to. She ad­ded she’s not sure yet wheth­er voters are ready for her “un­con­ven­tion­al” and “out-of-the-box” style but left the door wide open for a run (Lam­biet, Palm Beach Post, 10/7).

Slam­ming Sarah

PA Gov. Ed Rendell (D) “is throw­ing down the gaunt­let” in the first-in-the-na­tion state of IA.

The ex-DNC chair is call­ing on Dems “to help him match the polit­ic­al star power” of Pal­in, prom­ising in an e-mail to IA Dems “to draw a big­ger crowd” at the state party’s 10/16 Jef­fer­son-Jack­son din­ner than Pal­in was able to muster at the GOP’s an­nu­al Ron­ald Re­agan din­ner last month.

Rendell: “Sarah Pal­in was able to get 1,300 people to show up at the Re­pub­lic­an Party of Iowa’s din­ner last month. I can do bet­ter than that at this year’s Jef­fer­son-Jack­son din­ner.”

As of 10/6 IA Dems “said they were only 250 tick­ets from sur­pass­ing the turnout for Pal­in.” Rendell said best­ing the GOP’s at­tend­ance mark would “send Re­pub­lic­ans and tea parti­ers a mes­sage,” and then went on to take a swipe at Pal­in.

Rendell: “While Pal­in has offered noth­ing but ex­treme rhet­or­ic and a re­pack­aging of failed Bush-era policies, Demo­crats have provided real lead­er­ship, and our na­tion is bet­ter off be­cause of it. As someone who has served at all levels of gov­ern­ment, I can spot a real lead­er when I see it, and Sarah Pal­in is any­thing but that” (Catanese, Politico, 10/7).

Mean­while, ‘08 Obama mgr Dav­id Plouffe said 10/7 he doubts Pal­in will run for WH ‘12, say­ing “something tells me we won’t get that lucky.” Plouffe made the com­ments to re­port­ers “dur­ing a ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion” in which he ar­gued that the Tea Party move­ment will force GOP can­did­ates to be more con­ser­vat­ive in ‘12 and bey­ond.

Plouffe: “These guys are go­ing to be run­ning through hoops to please the far right folks, who are kind of the aco­lytes of Sarah Pal­in. Now maybe she’ll be run­ning her­self. Something tells me we won’t get that lucky.”

Asked why a de­cision by Pal­in to mount a WH ‘12 would be “lucky” for Dems, Plouffe replied: “We’ll talk about that later” (Shear, New York Times, 10/7).

On The Road Again

“A sell-out crowd of nearly 2,500 people packed the Mont­gomery Con­ven­tion Cen­ter” 10/7 to hear Pal­in’s speech at a fun­draiser for Faulkner Univ., a private Chris­ti­an school. Faulkner of­fi­cials “es­tim­ated” the event will raise $1M.

“The event was billed as the largest sit­down din­ner ever served at the new con­ven­tion cen­ter.” Pat­rons paid up to $40K for premi­um tick­ets and for the right to have four pho­to­graphs taken with Pal­in.

Pal­in “mostly strayed from polit­ics” dur­ing the speech, which was “tinged with re­li­gious and pat­ri­ot­ic ref­er­ences about vet­er­ans.”

Pal­in “re­peatedly praised” her WH ‘08 run­ning mate, Sen. John Mc­Cain (R-AZ), as well as Ron­ald Re­agan. Pal­in: “Char­ac­ter is not in short sup­ply out­side the Belt­way.”

“Pal­in evoked the work of Mont­gomery civil rights icons Rosa Parks and Mar­tin Luth­er King.” But she also touched on her routine cri­ti­cism of what she termed the “lamestream me­dia” and “Har­vard elite” for be­ing out of touch with most Amer­ic­ans (Lowry, Hunts­ville Times, 10/7).

Help­ing In Hawaii

Pal­in “is put­ting her polit­ic­al star power” be­hind two little-known HI can­did­ates. Pal­in placed a call 10/7 on be­half of HI-02 can­did­ate John Wil­loughby (R) and state House can­did­ate Scott Hende­r­son (R), both of whom “have won back­ing from loc­al tea party groups.”

Pal­in: “Both John and Scott are com­mon­sense con­sti­tu­tion­al con­ser­vat­ives, and they’re both pat­ri­ots and de­voted fam­ily men. Come Novem­ber, I sin­cerely hope that Hawaii­ans will sup­port these two pat­ri­ots. We do need their voices. We need their votes. We need to get our fisc­al house in or­der and our eco­nomy back on the right track” (Reyes, Hon­olulu Star-Ad­vert­iser, 10/8).

Pal­in’s Pricey Vis­it

The day be­fore los­ing a bru­tally close GOP GOV run­off to ex-Rep. Nath­an Deal (R-GA), ex-GA Sec/State Kar­en Han­del (R) “had what seemed the per­fect clos­ing ar­gu­ment: A per­son­al vis­it and rally” with Pal­in.

But, the next day Pal­in was gone and Han­del “lost by few­er than 2,500 votes.” The cost of bring­ing Pal­in and her fam­ily to town was more than $100K. Han­del’s cam­paign paid an OH jet charter ser­vice nearly $92K “and her latest cam­paign fin­ance re­port shows it was for the Pal­in event.” Han­del also paid an ad­di­tion­al $13K in ex­penses to the In­ter­Con­tin­ent­al Hotel in Buck­head for the event.

Han­del’s quarterly re­port shows her cam­paign com­mit­tee to be $28K in debt, with an­oth­er $55K in de­ferred ex­penses still out­stand­ing (Shein­in, At­lanta Journ­al Con­sti­tu­tion, 10/7).

From Alaska To The Alamo

Pal­in will ad­dress an evan­gel­ic­al wo­men’s con­fer­ence 10/8 p.m. in San Ant­o­nio and “is ex­pec­ted to dis­cuss faith and fam­ily is­sues dur­ing a Wo­men of Joy even­ing ser­vice at the Henry B. Gonza­lez Con­ven­tion Cen­ter” (Jef­fer­son, San Ant­o­nio Ex­press-News, 10/8)

The bid by Ve­r­i­zon Wire­less to buy spec­trum and enter in­to joint mar­ket­ing agree­ments with a group of cable firms was bound to spark con­cern. After all, Ve­r­i­zon is already the na­tion’s biggest wire­less pro­vider. But, so far, crit­ics have yet to re­veal a smoking gun that would prompt fed­er­al reg­u­lat­ors to block the deal out­right. As a res­ult, the agree­ments are likely to get ap­proved, but the gov­ern­ment could add con­di­tions aimed at ad­dress­ing some of the com­pet­it­ive is­sues.

The deal raises im­port­ant ques­tions about how the dis­tri­bu­tion of spec­trum, which wire­less com­pan­ies need to ex­pand their ser­vices and reach more cus­tom­ers, will af­fect com­pet­i­tion in the wire­less mar­ket. If smal­ler rivals can’t get ac­cess to more spec­trum, crit­ics say, they will have trouble com­pet­ing with Ve­r­i­zon and AT&T. At the same time, the mar­ket­ing agree­ments high­light con­cerns about wheth­er con­sumers will still have ac­cess to more than just one pro­vider of wired In­ter­net, video, and phone ser­vices.

“I’m not so sure there is a sol­id leg­al ar­gu­ment for block­ing the Ve­r­i­zon-cable deal,” said Jef­frey Silva, a tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions, me­dia, and tech ana­lyst with Med­ley Glob­al Ad­visors. Silva and oth­ers say that al­though the bid is prompt­ing ser­i­ous scru­tiny from fed­er­al reg­u­lat­ors, it has yet to spark the kind of an­ti­trust con­cerns that helped doom AT&T’s move last year to buy T-Mo­bile USA.

Ve­r­i­zon an­nounced in Decem­ber that it would buy spec­trum from a joint ven­ture made up of Com­cast, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Net­works; and, in a sep­ar­ate deal, from Cox Com­mu­nic­a­tions. An­ti­cip­at­ing even­tu­ally of­fer­ing wire­less ser­vice dir­ectly, cable firms had bought the spec­trum but even­tu­ally gave up on the idea. Ve­r­i­zon and the wire­less com­pan­ies also agreed to mar­ket­ing ar­range­ments to sell each oth­er’s ser­vices and to launch­ing a joint ven­ture de­vel­op­ing tech­no­logy aimed at bet­ter in­teg­rat­ing wire­line and wire­less products and ser­vices.

Ve­r­i­zon of­fi­cials ar­gue that the deal will bring spec­trum that the cable com­pan­ies are not us­ing to mar­ket and al­low Ve­r­i­zon to con­tin­ue build­ing out its next-gen­er­a­tion 4G LTE wire­less net­work. The cable firms say that the mar­ket­ing agree­ments will al­low them to of­fer their cus­tom­ers wire­less ser­vice along with their cable, In­ter­net, and phone bundles.

The Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion must ap­prove the spec­trum deal. The Justice De­part­ment is ex­amin­ing the mar­ket­ing agree­ments.

Rivals such as T-Mo­bile and Sprint worry about Ve­r­i­zon get­ting even more valu­able spec­trum.

“At a time when the mo­bile-broad­band in­dustry is fa­cing a loom­ing “˜spec­trum crunch,’ it strains credu­lity to as­sert that the pub­lic in­terest would be served by al­low­ing Ve­r­i­zon Wire­less to hoard even more spec­trum, es­pe­cially in the [Ad­vance Wire­less Ser­vices] band where many of its smal­ler com­pet­it­ors would be able to put this spec­trum to use im­me­di­ately as they roll out 4G LTE ser­vices to com­pete with Ve­r­i­zon Wire­less,” T-Mo­bile wrote in a re­cent fil­ing ur­ging the FCC to block the spec­trum deal.

Pub­lic-in­terest groups and uni­ons worry about the mar­ket­ing and tech­no­logy deals, say­ing that the com­pan­ies ap­pear to be agree­ing not to com­pete against one an­oth­er for wired broad­band ser­vices. They note that Ve­r­i­zon and its FiOS video, In­ter­net, and phone ser­vice of­fers the only al­tern­at­ive to cable in many mar­kets.

“By Ve­r­i­zon agree­ing to provide the video ser­vices of its chief rivals (at least in its DSL ter­rit­or­ies) and the cable guys re­selling the largest wire­less pro­vider as their “˜wire­less strategy,’ the side agree­ments amount to a ta­cit agree­ment to di­vide the mar­kets between them and avoid com­pet­i­tion,” Har­old Feld, leg­al dir­ect­or at Pub­lic Know­ledge, blogged in March.

Ve­r­i­zon and the cable firms told sen­at­ors in March that they will con­tin­ue to com­pete ag­gress­ively in those mar­kets where they both provide wired broad­band ser­vices. And Ve­r­i­zon ar­gues that even with the air­waves from the cable firms, its spec­trum hold­ings in most mar­kets won’t vi­ol­ate the guidelines the FCC uses when con­sid­er­ing such spec­trum deals.

“The as­ser­tion that, all of a sud­den, Ve­r­i­zon is go­ing to dom­in­ate in the spec­trum mar­ket doesn’t square with the facts,” Ve­r­i­zon Ex­ec­ut­ive Vice Pres­id­ent Tom Tauke said in an in­ter­view last week.

Tauke and oth­ers, in­clud­ing AT&T of­fi­cials, ar­gue that if the FCC is ser­i­ous about want­ing to help com­pan­ies meet their cus­tom­ers’ grow­ing de­mand for wire­less ser­vices, it must en­sure that wire­less firms have ac­cess to spec­trum through sec­ond­ary trans­ac­tions, par­tic­u­larly since the FCC is un­likely to auc­tion spec­trum any time soon.

“Hav­ing a sec­ond­ary mar­ket to al­low for the re­l­at­ively easy trans­fer of li­censes is really im­port­ant,” Tauke said. “I think if this got turned down, that would put a real damper on the sec­ond­ary mar­ket.”

Ve­r­i­zon ap­pears to have got­ten ahead of crit­ics last month by pledging to sell two of its spec­trum li­censes if its deals with the cable firms are ap­proved. Ana­lysts, and even some crit­ics, say they still think the FCC will ap­prove the spec­trum sale, pos­sibly with con­di­tions.

“The scope and sever­ity of such con­di­tions, in­clud­ing any di­vestit­ures, would de­pend on the ex­tent to which the gov­ern­ment is un­per­suaded by the com­pan­ies’ ar­gu­ments and cor­rob­or­at­ing in­form­a­tion, but we still sus­pect [Ve­r­i­zon] would gain most the spec­trum,” re­search firm Sti­fel Nic­olaus said in an in­vest­ment note earli­er this month.

The big­ger ques­tion is wheth­er the Justice De­part­ment will find that the mar­ket­ing and tech­no­logy agree­ments raise enough com­pet­it­ive con­cerns to war­rant ac­tion.

“The joint mar­ket­ing agree­ments are a bit of a wild card be­cause they are not pub­lic and the [FCC] has tied them to some de­gree to the spec­trum ac­quis­i­tion,” said Paul Glen­chur, a tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions ana­lyst with the Po­tom­ac Re­search Group. “But it is not clear there is a strong an­ti­trust case to be made against the deal un­less there is something prob­lem­at­ic but not trans­par­ent in those agree­ments.”

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