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Presidential Roundup: New Hampshire Debates to Spring Forth, Ron Paul Mulls Bid

Written by Subject: Eugenics
Paul is well-known on Capitol Hill for his frequent lone “no” votes on many spending bills and other legislation, much of which wins overwhelming support among both Republicans and Democrats alike.

This a voting pattern that has earned the obstetrician-turned-politician the nickname of “Dr. No.” Paul explains that he votes only for measures he views as specifically authorized by the Constitution.

January 13, 2007
Presidential Roundup: New Hampshire Debates to Spring Forth, Ron Paul Mulls Bid
By Michael Roberts

By Marc Rehmann, Greg Giroux, Rachel Kapochunas and Marie Horrigan, CQ Staff

The following is a roundup of candidate developments in the 2008 presidential race, from

• Debates to Spring Forth Early in New Hampshire: CNN and two prominent New Hampshire news organizations announced Friday that they will join forces to stage back-to-back presidential candidate debates this April in that crucial “first-in-the-nation” primary state.

Television station WMUR and the Union Leader newspaper — both based in Manchester, New Hampshire’s largest city — are partnering with the cable news network to produce the debates, scheduled for April 4 and 5.

Contenders for the Democratic nomination will meet in one debate, while the other will feature Republican hopefuls. Both debates will be televised live nationally on CNN and throughout New Hampshire on WMUR.

The debates are slated for the middle of Congress’ 2007 spring district work period — better known as the Easter recess — to encourage participation by the large number of White House hopefuls currently serving in Congress.

The siting of these debates, the earliest scheduled, underscores New Hampshire’s longstanding primacy in the presidential nominating process. It has held on to that position of stature even though the Democratic National Committee, responding to complaints from other states about lightly populated New Hampshire’s outsized role, has interposed caucuses in Nevada in between the traditional kickoff caucuses in Iowa and the New Hampshire primary next January, with the South Carolina primary moved up to just a week after New Hampshire.

New Hampshire loyalists haven’t taken this assault on tradition lightly. Since May, the Union Leader’s editorial board has asked all potential 2008 presidential candidates to sign a general pledge of support for New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation status.

• House Contrarian Ron Paul Mulls White House Bid. Nearly two decades after he was the Libertarian Party’s nominee for president, maverick Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul is weighing another White House bid — this time for the GOP nod in 2008.

Paul on Thursday filed paperwork with the Texas Secretary of State establishing a nonprofit corporation, the Ron Paul 2008 Presidential Exploratory Committee, which can accept funds Paul can use to “test the waters” for a full-fledged bid.

Should he decide to forge ahead with a campaign, Paul would file paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Paul intends to elaborate on his intentions in a couple of weeks, said Kent Snyder, who is chairing Paul’s exploratory effort.

Paul is well-known on Capitol Hill for his frequent lone “no” votes on many spending bills and other legislation, much of which wins overwhelming support among both Republicans and Democrats alike.

This a voting pattern that has earned the obstetrician-turned-politician the nickname of “Dr. No.” Paul explains that he votes only for measures he views as specifically authorized by the Constitution.

In 2006, Paul voted against the Bush administration’s stated position 64 percent of the time, more than any House Republican. His highest-profile departure from President Bush is on the Iraq war, which the congressman vigorously opposes.

In 2002, Paul was among just six House Republicans who voted against giving Bush authority to wage war in Iraq. Paul opposed the resolution for numerous reasons — including his position that it was an unconstitutional transfer, from Congress to the executive branch, of the power to declare war.

In a Jan. 5 speech on the House floor, Paul also criticized the administration’s then-tentative plans to increase troop levels in Iraq, which Bush confirmed in a speech to the nation Wednesday.

Paul has served in the House for nearly 17 years, but in three separate tenures. He started out on the wrong foot, losing badly in 1974 to Democratic Rep. Bob Casey, but rebounded to win an April 1976 special election after Casey resigned to accept an appointment to the Federal Maritime Commission.

That tour in Congress was brief for Paul. The Democrat whom he defeated in the special election, Bob Gammage, exacted revenge in the November 1976 contest for a full House term. But Paul won their personal rubber match, ousting Gammage in the 1978 election.

Paul left his House seat open in 1984 to pursue a bid for the Republican Senate nomination that failed. He then strayed briefly from the GOP fold, leading to his third-party campaign for president: As the 1988 Libertarian nominee for president, he won about 432,000 votes nationally — roughly 0.5 percent of the total in a race won by fellow Texan, Republican George H.W. Bush.

Paul returned to the Republican Party, then returned to the House in 1996 after unseating Rep. Greg Laughlin — who had switched from the Democratic Party after the GOP’s 1994 House takeover — in the Republican primary.

His mainly conservative constituents in the 14th District, which includes Victoria, Galveston and a 200-mile border with the Gulf of Mexico, are Republican loyalists for president: George W. Bush took 67 percent of the district’s votes in 2004. But Paul’s contrariness evidently plays well at home: He ran unopposed in 2004 and was re-elected with 60 percent last November.

• California Rep. Duncan Hunter Officially Exploring GOP Bid: Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter of California filed paperwork Friday to form an exploratory committee, as he considers whether or not to run for president in 2008.

Hunter, who chaired the House Armed Services Committee prior to the Democrats’ takeover in the 2006 elections, emphasized his strongly conservative philosophy and his focus on issues relating to national security in a statement announcing his campaign move.

“America needs a way ahead in the ongoing war against terrorists and a policy of economic opportunity, with a reaffirmation of faith in the principles of our founding,” said Hunter.

Hunter’s desire for higher office was virtually unknown until last October, when he called a press conference in his San Diego-area 52nd District to announce he would be forming an exploratory committee.

Hunter said then that his platform would focus on the need for a strong U.S. military. He made it clear Friday that he is continuing on that path: The slogan on Hunter’s press release about his exploratory committee was “America: The Strength of Freedom.”

Just sworn in for his 14th term, Hunter has been a member of the Defense panel since he was first elected to the House in 1980 and served two terms as chairman; he now holds the title of ranking Republican .

Unlike most members of the 110th Congress, Hunter has a background of military service, as a member of the Army from 1969 to 1971. He received a Bronze Star for participating in 25 helicopter combat assaults during the war in Vietnam.

He has been one of the strongest and most steadfast supporters of President Bush’s policies on the war in Iraq. This week, Hunter stated his support for Bush’s decision to increase the U.S. troop commitment to Iraq and declared he would oppose any Democratic efforts to block the president’s plan.

But Hunter enters his presidential exploratory phase as a distinct longshot, as he is known to few voters nationally outside his southern California base. He also faces the heavy weight of history: The last sitting House member who made the jump to the White House was Ohio Republican James Garfield in 1880.

• GOP’s Romney Defends Social Issues Stands After Conservative Slaps. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has portrayed himself as a social-issues conservative during his “exploratory” campaign for the 2008 Republican White House nod, but his campaign continues to ward off questions from some conservative quarters about his consistency on those matters.

Romney’s campaign Friday issued a document defending his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage, but acknowledging that he voiced quite different views — supporting abortion rights and gay rights — during his 1994 political debut, an unsuccessful challenge to Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

The statement was put out following the publication of an Associated Press story earlier Friday that profiled conservative activist Brian Camenker.

MassResistance, an organization headed by Camenker that bills itself as a “pro-family action center for Massachusetts,” issued a lengthy report last November that criticized Romney. Detractors have brandished that report as evidence that Romney has, for political purposes, only recently arrived at his conservative views.

The report accused Romney of having “spent his entire career speaking and governing as a liberal — and that his newfound conversion to conservatism very likely coincides with his candidacy for the presidency.”

The response issued by Romney’s organization was the latest of several efforts to counter these criticisms. Romney said in a Jan. 9 interview on the blog, “I was wrong on some issues back then. I’m not embarrassed to admit that. I think most of us learn with experience — I know I certainly have.”

Romney has promoted socially conservative stands he took during his one term as governor which expired last week; his backers point to his opposition to same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, which was legalized under state court rulings issued in 2003 and 2004, and his support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

The Romney campaign’s statement described the prospective candidate as being opposed to abortions except in the cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman.

• Clinton Gets Up-Close Look at Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. New York Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is widely expected to announce a 2008 presidential run, left Friday on a four-day trip to visit troops and get an up-close view of the U.S. military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Clinton was joined by Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana — who in December ended a brief exploration of a bid for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination — and New York Republican Rep. John M. McHugh, a longtime member of the House Armed Services Committee.

“At this critical juncture, I am eager to express my gratitude to our troops on the ground, many from New York, who continue to serve and sacrifice, performing magnificently and bravely,” Clinton said in a statement. “I am eager as well to hear from our commanders on the ground a frank assessment of our missions in those countries. I am also looking forward to meeting Iraqi leaders and American civilian officials to hear their view on the current situation in Iraq.”

Clinton left for Iraq two days after President Bush announced his revised strategy for the war, which includes increasing the size of U.S. forces committed to the conflict. Clinton, the rest of the Democratic presidential field, and several Republican White House prospects, have expressed their opposition to Bush’s plan.

Clinton said Wednesday that, based on the president’s speech, she could not support “his proposed escalation of the war in Iraq.” Clinton continued, “Iraq requires a political solution, not a purely military one, and we did not hear such a proposed solution tonight.”

Clinton, who was re-elected this year, serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and her office said this will be her third trip to the region.

• Giuliani, Gingrich Partner on Iraq Opinion Piece. Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia are both considering campaigns for the 2008 Republican presidential nominations, which means they ultimately could end up as rivals.

But that is not yet the case — as made clear in the op-ed pages of Friday’s Wall Street Journal, in which Giuliani and Gingrich co-authored a piece advocating a stronger economic development effort to stabilize war-torn Iraq.

Their joint column stated that the White House needs to bolster the U.S. military efforts in Iraq with a civilian job corps modeled on the Depression-era work relief efforts in the United States and the “workfare” program fostered by Giuliani in New York City during the 1990s.

“We must try to achieve constructive and compassionate goals through conservative means — jump-starting civic improvement and the individual work ethic in Iraq without creating permanent subsidies,” they wrote in the piece, titled “Getting Iraq to Work.”

“The creation of an Iraqi Citizen Job Corps will help expedite the establishment of a more stable society and improve the growing Iraq economy through the transforming power of an honest day’s work,” said Giuliani and Gingrich.

Gingrich, speaking separately to a free-market advocacy group in Baltimore Wednesday, warned that Americans must steel themselves for a long war against the “irreconcilable wing of Islam,” reported.

According to the news service, Gingrich told attendees of the event, sponsored by the Harbour League, that America’s enemies are emboldened by the “elite media” and “left-of-center” politicians who embrace a “level of routine cowardice.”

• Kansas May Steer From Caucus to Primary in 2008. The possibility of a favorite son candidacy by Republican Sen. Sam Brownback is fueling efforts to institute a presidential primary in Kansas — a state that in recent years as favored the lower-cost option of holding party caucuses.

Brad Bryant, the elections director in the office of Kansas’ Secretary of State told Friday, “Republicans in the state will want to see Sam Brownback get a little boost to his campaign.”

Brownback filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission Dec. 1 to form an exploratory campaign committee, but has not publicly announced whether he will definitely run in 2008.

“Senator Brownback’s announcements recently have contributed to the discussion, definitely,” Bryant said of the debate over the proposed primary.

The last time the state held a presidential primary election was in 1992.

Many advocates of a primary also favor moving the state’s contests up earlier in the heavily “frontloaded” presidential nominating process.

Current state law lists the first Tuesday in April as the default date for Kansas’ delegate selection events. But Bryant pointed out that the date often falls “late in the process” for the candidate selection process.

Because so many states have moved their presidential contests into the winter from their traditional dates in the spring, recent presidential front-runners have clinched their nominations by early March.

Bryant said that in order to give the state the option of an earlier primary, a law was passed four years ago that allows the secretary of state to set an earlier primary date, as long as at least five other states also are holding presidential contests on that date.

At least one state lawmaker is planning to introduce legislation to remove that condition by resetting the statutory primary date from the first Tuesday in April to eight weeks earlier, in February.

But the option of a primary may raise budgetary concerns, even given the potential benefit to Brownback’s bid. The secretary of state has already set a budget of $2 million for the upcoming election.

© 2006 Congressional Quarterly

1 Comments in Response to

Comment by Dave Gallagher
Entered on:

New Hampshire Should be friendly territory for Paul.

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