A Roiling Conservative Mess: Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia
Maria Salazar is a Miami-Dade freshman who was formerly a TV anchor. And she's really, really dumb... and loyal to McCarthy. She managed to win in a D+4 district, primarily because the Democrats had put a corpse into the seat, Donna Shalala. Now the district is D+1 and so far there is no strong challenger taking her on. And that allows her to act like a baboon. Watch the video above. Asked about the McCarthy-is-a-big-liar tape by the media, she said, "People change their mind, things happen... Why don’t we move forward." Pressed if she had actually listened to the tape, she claimed "It was edited. I know the art of editing. I'm not sure, I'm not sure in what context. But what I'm saying to you is that is not a matter of trying to find out what happened or what he said. It's a whole story. Don't you guys see it, what you guys are doing? History will judge the news organizations 100 years from now." Had she been snorting coke? Look at that coke-freak body language and the disjoined language!
This morning NPR's Ron Elving reported on McCarthy dilemma. "McCarthy," he wrote, "dismisses all that he said at that time as hypothetical strategizing. He tells his troops in the House Republican Conference that he never called on Trump to resign. And so far, Trump himself has accepted this story from McCarthy as an apology and 'a compliment to me, frankly.' The GOP leader's Hill colleagues [especially imbeciles like Salazar] also seem OK with it-- at least, most of them do, at least for now. The House GOP held a confab in the Capitol this week where they seemed in a mood to buy McCarthy's characterization of his 180-degree course correction."
McCarthy embodies the dilemma that confronts Hill Republicans in the shadow of Trump. His struggle to resolve it reflects a common experience of dealing with contradiction. "Every member had a similar process," one Republican member from Texas told the Washington Post.
This "process" may be called a pivot or a pirouette, proof of resilience or hypocrisy. But for the moment it enables members who fled for their safety on January 6 to act as though it never happened. And most of them seem to agree they need to do just that.
To do otherwise might displease both Trump and his followers. Polls tell us those followers, and their belief in his denial of the 2020 results, will matter a great deal in Republican primaries this year and in 2024.
So in theory at least, adopting this attitude keeps McCarthy in place and his party on track to take control of the House this fall. Electoral precedents for midterms, the current economic story and most polls suggest their chances are excellent.
Capitol Hill seems to be falling apart-- and it's not just around McCarthy's ear's. Look at this new ad Joe Manchin-- still ostensibly a Democrat for the time being-- cut for the West Virginia Republican primary in favor of mainstreamish conservative incumbent David McKinley who is being challenged by fascist-oriented, Trump-endorsed Alex Mooney. Manchin started by boasting how he killed Biden's Build Back Better agenda and how proud he is of McKinley for also opposing it ("reckless spending"). Well... I guess if Biden could endorse anti-Build Back Better Blue Dog Kurt Schrader, Manchin could endorse one of the anti-Build Back Better obstructionists in his own state. Last cycle, Manchin backed Susan Collins in Maine (against Democrat Sara Gideon and this cycle he's backing Lisa Murkowski. He hasn't endorsed anyone against Santa Claus in the Alaska House race yet.)
Unlike Manchin, at a rally in Newark Ohio, Marjorie Traitor Greene and Matt Gaetz were on the Trumpanzee bandwagon, lending a hand to his endorsed Senate candidate in Tuesday's primary, J.D. Vance. They said Vance would be an ally for them in Congress. If there were smart Republicans in teh audience-- how could there be?-- that would have been a ten alarmer right there. Vance, hoping no one in the audience knew too much about their backgrounds, said "These two people right here. And I think that sends a signal that I'm not going to stab our voters in the back."
A Josh Mandel supporter told Fox News that he is "disappointed with Trump's endorsement of Vance and called Vance a 'Judas.'" There's a similar muck-up next door in Pennsylvania, where Trump endorsed one fascist-leaning carpetbagger, Dr. Oz, against another fascist-leaning carpetbagger, hedge fund chieftain David McCormick.
Holly Otterstein reported this afternoon that though Trump endorsement has given Oz a bump in the polls, "it hasn’t erased doubts about his conservative bona fides. Or quelled concerns about his past positions on abortion. Or buried his closest rival. In short, the endorsement hasn’t transformed Pennsylvania’s closely watched GOP Senate primary."
The 2 campaigns are statistically tied on the May 17 primary. An average of polls shows McCormick still leading by 3.4 points, with the two latest polls, one by Trafalgar and one by Emerson showing, respectively Oz up by 3 and McCormick up by 6.
The neck-and-neck nature of the race came into focus Thursday when Oz and McCormick unexpectedly appeared at the same campaign event in northeastern Pennsylvania. As McCormick, dressed in a puffer jacket, shook the hands of voters at the Wallenpaupack Sportsman’s Association’s 50th Annual Spring Fishing Party in Pike County, Oz, in a zip-up and jeans, mingled with the crowd with a red cup in hand.
At one point, Oz even watched from a table as McCormick and his high-profile surrogate, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, gave speeches. Afterward, he was invited to talk as well, and cast himself as a D.C. outsider: “Washington keeps getting it wrong. You all know this. You’ve seen them get it wrong during Covid, horribly.”
...Republican strategists in the state are divided on what effect Trump’s endorsement will have when the ballots are counted in the May 17 primary. The open seat contest in Pennsylvania this fall could determine which party controls the Senate.
Josh Novotney, a former campaign finance director for retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), said that public polling is lagging a “little behind” the reality on the ground. McCormick, he said, is in a bind now because he had been courting the MAGA vote by campaigning with figures like Mike Pompeo, Trump’s former secretary of state, and Sarah Sanders, Trump’s White House press secretary.
“He was trying to look more like the MAGA candidate and paint Oz as the RINO. I think that’s really tough to do now,” he said. “If you saw a McCormick ad saying that Oz is a RINO and then you saw an Oz ad saying, ‘Hey, I’m endorsed by the president because he thinks I’m the good, conservative choice,’ I think that McCormick money is a bit wasted.”
If a televised debate on Monday was any indication, Oz’s opponents already see him as the person to beat due to Trump’s blessing: At the event with McCormick and three other candidates, Oz faced more attacks than anyone else.
McCormick said Oz departed in the past from Republican orthodoxy on key issues such as abortion, fracking and trans rights. Oz used Trump’s support as a shield to defend himself from the broadsides and blunt concerns from GOP voters that he is not sufficiently conservative.
“President Trump endorsed me,” Oz said. “And quite clearly, in his first point he made about why I’m a conservative, America-first Republican, he said that I am pro-life.”
A source on Oz’s campaign said that his internal polling demonstrates that his “lead in the polls has widened” since the Trump endorsement.
Casey Contres, Oz’s campaign manager, said he has seen other signs of momentum: “Our digital fundraising is at its highest levels since launch day, our hard-dollar fundraising has increased, and we had one of the biggest crowds we ever had last week.”
McCormick also shifted his advertising strategy in the wake of Trump’s endorsement-- a sign of the threat it could pose to his campaign. A few days after his announcement, McCormick began airing an ad calling Oz a “complete and total fraud.” He has since run an ad showcasing him riding a motorcycle with Trump supporters. Another features Republicans saying that, while they love Trump, he made a mistake in backing Oz.
Asked what his message is to Trump voters, McCormick told Politico that “President Trump is incredibly popular in Pennsylvania for all the right reasons. His America-first agenda helped Pennsylvania.”
But, he said, “Mehmet Oz isn’t popular. And the reason is that he’s got a whole set of positions from a life in media, a life in television, and all of them are counter to what Pennsylvanians believe in terms of the Second Amendment, in terms of life, in terms of fracking. … I’m running as a guy who grew up here and went away to serve our country and wants to carry those conservative values to Washington, and someone who’s lived them his whole life.”
As Oz, McCormick and their allied super PACs have flooded the airwaves with tens of millions of dollars’ worth of commercials-- many of them negative-- some voters have looked for an alternative. Despite spending a pittance on ads-- less than $120,000, according to the advertising tracking firm AdImpact-- 18 percent of Republican voters said they were “very likely” to cast a ballot for conservative commentator Kathy Barnette in the latest Monmouth University poll.
...The Monmouth survey found that Oz has a lower favorability rating (48 percent favorable to 37 percent unfavorable) than McCormick (51 percent favorable to 15 percent unfavorable)
Oz has taken steps to tamp down concerns from Republican voters that he isn’t truly conservative-- concerns that were amplified when Trump’s endorsement of him initially led to a backlash from parts of Trumpworld.
At a tele-rally by Trump, Oz said to the former president, “There are a lot of voters who are passionate about you who have said that they’re coming out to see me because of your endorsement. As you know, there’s lots of fake ads arguing that I’m not socially conservative. Would you mind easing people’s fears?”
Trump replied that Oz “is pro-life and he is very, very much in favor of the Second Amendment.”
In another sign that the fight over the social conservative vote remains unsettled, Oz and McCormick have released dueling media showcasing them shooting guns.
Oz also held a rally in Bucks County with Trumpworld surrogates Ben Carson, Trump’s former secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and John Fredericks, a conservative talk radio host. It was his first public stop on the trail after Trump’s endorsement, and its purpose was clear.
“They’re saying that Mehmet is not a conservative. What a bunch of crap,” Carson said, comparing Oz’s experience to having “misinformation” spread about him during his presidential run. “It’s just absolutely ridiculous. He’s pro-life. And he’s pro-Second Amendment.”
During a Q&A at the rally, an audience member asked Oz, “When you get to Washington, how do I know that you’re going to keep those [conservative] values?” Another said, “The advertisement against you where you are on your show, you’re asking a child, ‘What did it feel like when your parents thought you were a boy?’ That’s very disturbing.”
Fredericks said this week that Trump’s endorsement in the Pennsylvania Senate contest is “probably the biggest game-changer of any one race in America.” He said Oz, a self-funder, has the benefit of being able to spread the message far and wide on TV that he is Trump’s candidate.
“Oz let McCormick define him for three months, and didn’t fight back enough. And so he took his notoriety and thought that was going to be enough, and didn’t understand that this guy was spending tens of millions of dollars of hedge fund money in order to define him,” he said. “So people didn’t understand his positions. Trump had to come in and say, ‘Hey, we really need to take a second look at this guy.’”