Spotlight

Republican Red Flags in Early States

ANKENY, IA - JANUARY 03: A sign is posted on the door of the Ankeny 9 Republican caucus on January 3, 2012 in Ankeny, Iowa. Iowans are preparing to caucus to vote for their favorite Republican candidate for president.
National Journal
Kevin Brennan and Julie Sobel
See more stories about...
Kevin Brennan Julie Sobel
Oct. 9, 2013, 7:40 a.m.

Iowa and New Hamp­shire are the open­ing battle­grounds of pres­id­en­tial nom­in­at­ing con­tests. This year, they have something else in com­mon: dys­func­tion sur­round­ing the state-level Re­pub­lic­an Party.

— In Iowa, the state party is led by Ron Paul aco­lytes, who have clashed with the more-prag­mat­ic wing of the party, headed by Gov. Terry Bran­stad. Two county GOP chairs have called for party chair A.J. Spiker‘s resig­na­tion, as has long­time Bran­stad ally Dav­id Kochel. Bran­stad him­self has swat­ted at the state GOP re­peatedly, and some Re­pub­lic­ans are plan­ning an ef­fort to in­stall new party lead­ers next year. In New Hamp­shire, GOP chair­wo­man Jen­nifer Horn is already los­ing her ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or, who star­ted six months ago.

— At the same time, Re­pub­lic­ans have struggled to land qual­ity can­did­ates in win­nable races in both states. In Iowa, where Pres­id­ent Obama‘s ap­prov­al rat­ing is weak, the GOP has a crowded but un­re­mark­able group of can­did­ates. There’s a grow­ing like­li­hood the nom­in­ee will be de­term­ined by a con­ven­tion of act­iv­ists. In New Hamp­shire, no Re­pub­lic­an has stepped for­ward to chal­lenge Gov. Mag­gie Has­san, while Sen. Jeanne Shaheen‘s little-known chal­lenger doesn’t seem ready for prime­time. A long line of qual­i­fied Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ates have passed on both Gran­ite State races.

— Prob­lems with­in a state party can cause ma­jor head­aches dur­ing pres­id­en­tial races, as Re­pub­lic­ans learned in Nevada in 2012. Linger­ing prob­lems with­in these state parties means the tra­di­tion­al power­brokers will have less in­flu­ence over the nom­in­at­ing fights, boost­ing the odds for a grass­roots-powered un­der­dog, like Rand Paul.

Over the next few years, pres­id­en­tial con­tenders will find reas­ons to vis­it Iowa and New Hamp­shire. At the same time, their aides will keep a wary eye on the drama with­in the state parties.

What We're Following See More »
PHOTO OP
Clinton Shows Up on Stage to Close Obama’s Speech
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

Just after President Obama finished his address to the DNC, Hillary Clinton walked out on stage to join him, so the better could share a few embraces, wave to the crowd—and let the cameras capture all the unity for posterity.

‘DON’T BOO. VOTE.’
Obama: Country Is Stronger Than Eight Years Ago
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

In a speech that began a bit like a State of the Union address, President Obama said the "country is stronger and more prosperous than it was" when he took office eight years ago. He then talked of battling Hillary Clinton for the nomination in 2008, and discovering her "unbelievable work ethic," before saying that no one—"not me, not Bill"—has ever been more qualified to be president. When his first mention of Donald Trump drew boos, he quickly admonished the crowd: "Don't boo. Vote." He then added that Trump is "not really a plans guy. Not really a facts guy, either."

‘HILLARY CLINTON HAS A PASSION’
Kaine Sticks Mostly to the Autobiography
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

Tim Kaine introduced himself to the nation tonight, devoting roughly the first half of his speech to his own story (peppered with a little of his fluent Spanish) before pivoting to Hillary Clinton—and her opponent. "Hillary Clinton has a passion for children and families," he said. "Donald Trump has a passion, too: himself." His most personal line came after noting that his son Nat just deployed with his Marine battalion. "I trust Hillary Clinton with our son's life," he said.

TRUMP IS A ‘CON’
Bloomberg: Neither Party Has a Monopoly on Good Ideas
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

Michael Bloomberg said he wasn't appearing to endorse any party or agenda. He was merely there to support Hillary Clinton. "I don't believe that either party has a monopoly on good ideas or strong leadership," he said, before enumerating how he disagreed with both the GOP and his audience in Philadelphia. "Too many Republicans wrongly blame immigrants for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on climate change and gun violence," he said. "Meanwhile, many Democrats wrongly blame the private sector for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on education reform and deficit reduction." Calling Donald Trump a "dangerous demagogue," he said, "I'm a New Yorker, and a know a con when I see one."

TRUMP’S ‘CYNICISM IS UNBOUNDED’
Biden: Obama ‘One of the Finest Presidents’
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

Vice President Biden tonight called President Obama "one of the finest presidents we have ever had" before launching into a passionate defense of Hillary Clinton. "Everybody knows she's smart. Everybody knows she's tough. But I know what she's passionate about," he said. "There's only one person in this race who will help you. ... It's not just who she is; it's her life story." But he paused to train some fire on her opponent "That's not Donald Trump's story," he said. "His cynicism is unbounded. ... No major party nominee in the history of this country has ever known less."

×