Polls show the Republican Party at rock bottom. The shutdown, the obsession with unwinding Obamacare, the default denying ““ all are wiping away support for the GOP’s approach among voters.
But don’t tell that to any one of the religious conservatives at the Values Voter Summit.
To these church leaders, anti-abortion activists, gay marriage opponents, and gun owners ““ who vote straight-ticket Republican ““ the showdown over the Affordable Care Act that led to the federal shutdown was worth it, and mainstream Republicans’ worry about the 2014 implications are, plainly, ridiculous.
“I think Obamacare is the worst thing in this nation since slavery,” said Ben Carson, a speaker at the conference and an African-American retired neurosurgeon who joined Fox News as a contributor this week.
And while Ted Cruz and Mike Lee continue to come under heated criticism from Washington colleagues for precipitating a crisis they did not know how to resolve, attendees here praised the tea party senators for their leadership.
“I for one am sick of the whining that’s going on from the Republican Party and from some in the conservative movement itself,” said Brent Bozell, founder of the Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group. “Until Ted Cruz came along with Mike Lee “¦ they had no plan A.”
To this crowd, which holds sway over the Republican Party because of its outsized share of the primary electorate, ideological principles matter more than the bad poll numbers coming in that show GOP tactics badly hurting the party.
A new Gallup poll found only 28 percent of Americans view the GOP favorably, an all-time low for either party since 1992. The latest NBC-Wall Street Journal poll found a 24 percent favorability rating, also a record low. The United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll found 65 percent of Americans do not want Republicans to tie efforts to defund or delay Obamacare to the government funding bill.
These surveys and others are leading moderate Republicans from the business community and political establishment to increasingly challenge House Republicans’ tactics.
“To go to war over an impossible objective (repealing Obamacare) is not only woefully ineffective, it is political suicide,” former U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, a Republican who served in the Bush administration, told National Journal. “I am alarmed by the lack of a coherent strategy by my party.”
The ongoing conflict over the health care law has exacerbated the rift in the Republican Party between pragmatists with an eye on 2014 and 2016 and the conservative ideologues who filled the hotel ballroom at the annual conference sponsored by the Family Research Council. The mention of Cruz’s filibuster-like tirade against the health care law brought the crowd to its feet.
“It was the right thing to do,” said John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council. “Obamacare is objectionable enough to make this kind of a stand to show how odious it is.”
The budget showdown was even worth it to Jim Neuberger, a government contractor from Clifton, Va., who was able to attend the conference with his wife and two daughters because he’s been furloughed. “Just because it’s a law doesn’t make it right,” said Neuberger, who is worried the Affordable Care Act will disrupt his family’s insurance plan. “It’s a clash of principles.”
What We're Following See More »
The House on Tuesday voted 403-12 "to pass an overhaul to the nation’s chemical safety standards for the first time in four decades. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act aims to answer years of complaints that the Environmental Protection Agency lacks the necessary authority to oversee and control the thousands of chemicals being produced and sold in the United States. It also significantly clamps down on states’ authorities, in an effort to stop a nationwide patchwork of chemical laws that industry says is difficult to deal with."
"Leaders of the Republican Party have begun internal deliberations over making fundamental changes to the way its presidential nominees are chosen, a recognition that the chaotic process that played out this year is seriously flawed and helped exacerbate tensions within the party." Among the possible changes: forbidding independent voters to cast ballots in Republican primaries, and "doubling the number of early states to eight."
Citing the unpredictable nature of this primary season and the possible leverage they could bring at the convention, John Kasich is hanging onto his 161 delegates. "Kasich sent personal letters Monday to Republican officials in the 16 states and the District of Columbia where he won delegates, requesting that they stay bound to him in accordance with party rules."
"Speaker Paul Ryan is changing the rules of how the House will consider spending measures to try to prevent Democrats from offering surprise amendments that have recently put the GOP on defense. ... Ryan announced at a House GOP conference meeting Tuesday morning that members will now have to submit their amendments ahead of time so that they are pre-printed in the Congressional Record, according to leadership aides." The change will take effect after the Memorial Day recess.
Bernie Sanders "signed a letter Tuesday morning requesting a full and complete check and recanvass of the election results in Kentucky ... where he trails Hillary Clinton by less than one-half of 1 percent of the vote. The Sanders campaign said it has asked the Kentucky secretary of state to have election officials review electronic voting machines and absentee ballots from last week's primary in each of the state's 120 counties.