Daniel Doherty - Shaheen: Obamacare is "Absolutely" an Accomplishment For Me
Posted: 10/21/2014 10:20:00 PM EST

Concord, NH -- To say that Scott Brown was the underdog tonight would be an understatement. From the minute I arrived here that was patently clear: way more Shaheen supporters showed up to show their support for her; she drew much more enthusiastic and sustained applause lines throughout the night; and when she took the stage initially, Chuck Todd had to awkwardly pause and wait for the audience to quiet down.

The general consensus, therefore, is probably that Brown got creamed. I disagree. This wasn’t his first rodeo and perhaps that’s why he seemed relatively relaxed under fire. After all, the audience was openly ridiculing and laughing at his responses for no apparent reason. I watched both Arkansas Senate debates, for example, and the audiences weren’t nearly as partisan or disruptive. One exchange, however, and the one everyone will be talking about, was particularly brutal:

I'll let fact checkers sort through who's telling the truth (although watch this clip if you have time); in the moment, however, Shaheen clearly got the better of Brown on that exchange. The audience ate it up. Nevertheless, Shaheen made some outrageous claims herself. She said she was (ahem) “absolutely” proud of voting for Obamacare and essentially admitted she voted with the president nearly 100 percent of the time:

It is an absolute fact that Shaheen is an Obama rubber stamp. But be that as it may, Shaheen had especially strong responses vis-à-vis women’s issues. Her best line of the night, however, was when she said, “I don’t think New Hampshire is a consolation prize,” digging Brown for weighing runs for political offices in numerous states. She was also relentless when accusing him of outsourcing jobs, subsidizing Big Oil, and supporting 44 filibusters as a United States Senator, thereby undercutting the narrative that Brown (as he likes to claim) was the most bipartisan lawmaker in Washington during his tenure.

Incidentally, I spoke with Team Brown’s campaign manager, Colin Reed, after the debate. He said internal polling shows the race is a “dead heat,” and that Senate races in New Hampshire “tend to break late” – that is, the last few days of the campaign. As a result, he’s feeling pretty good about his candidate’s chances.

We'll see.

Matt Vespa - Woman Exposes Father With Carry Permit Using Yard Signs
Posted: 10/21/2014 9:15:00 PM EST

This post has been updated

One can have legitimate disagreements about the Second Amendment, but what this Minnesota woman is doing is bound to make gun rights advocates more than just a little angry (via KAALtv)[emphasis mine]:

A sign posted in a front yard brings an interesting debate. At the center of it, your constitutional rights. In the past few weeks there’s been a number of stories involving guns on school property in Olmsted County. The issue Friday is a gun near school property and the way one woman is voicing her concern.

Matthew Halleck brings his two girls to and from the outskirts of Harriet Bishop Elementary in Rochester every day. "I'm going to protect my children anyway I can,” said Halleck.

For Matthew, that means carrying a concealed gun that he has a permit for, while adhering to all legal boundaries. "It's not crossing the street here, where the crosswalk is, it's making sure it's concealed so the kids can't see it,” he said.

But Matthew is no longer the only one who knows he's carrying a gun. Recently a sign went up in a front yard across the street from the school. It has Matthew’s picture on it and reads, "This man carries a loaded gun around your children every day."

"Since we don't have a way to stop him, we felt it was important to notify the neighborhood and the parents that there is an armed man in their presence,” said Kimberly Edson, a Rochester resident who put the sign up. "The first couple days of school he had it very visible, we saw it and were quite concerned,” she said.

Kimberly called the police the day the picture was taken, but they said Matthew has a legal right to carry off school property. Matthew also contacted authorities concerning the sign, and while they briefly took the sign down, it was eventually determined that Kimberly was also breaking no laws. "He has a 2nd Amendment right to carry the gun, I have my 1st Amendment right to say that I don't like it,” said Edson.

That’s all fine and dandy, but why on Earth does Edson think Halleck is a threat? The vast majority of gun owners are law-abiding citizens; Halleck is just doing what any father would do for his children: protect them. Ms. Edson’s antics have compromised that goal as he’s lost tactical surprise.

On the other hand, would-be criminals might think twice about messing around in Halleck’s neighborhood knowing that he is armed. One this is for sure: Mr. Halleck should consider open carry from now on thanks to Edson.

Halleck is also considering filing a libel lawsuit.

CORRECTION: From comments sent to me via email by Minnesota residents, the state does not issue "concealed carry" permits, but simply carry permits which allows for lawful concealed and open carrying of firearms by law-abiding citizens.  This post has been corrected to reflect the change.  

Sarah Jean Seman - H.W. Bush to Michelle Nunn: Stop Using My Photo in Your Ad
Posted: 10/21/2014 8:00:00 PM EST

George H.W. Bush is anything but elated over his recent appearance in an ad produced by Democrat and Georgia Senate candidate Michelle Nunn. Nunn’s goal was to seem more bipartisan by showcasing her time as CEO of Bush’s nonprofit Points of Light foundation, instead her disregard for the president’s wishes has more aptly showcased her disrespect.

"Throughout my career I've been able to work with Republican and Democrats," Nunn claimed after a slow zoom of a picture of her with Bush senior appeared across the screen.

Nunn’s background in the nonprofit sector led her to work for the Bush’s Points of Light foundation in 2007. When she announced her intentions to run for the U.S. Senate, the foundation granted her a leave of absence.

According to Bush’s spokesperson Jim McGrath, the former president explicitly stated he did not want to be involved in Nunn’s Democratic campaign:

Michelle and her team have been clearly, repeatedly and consistently told that President Bush did not want them to use his photo as part of this campaign. Apparently, the Nunn team feels they can repeatedly disregard the former president's wishes, which is very disappointing because it's so disrespectful.

Bush has, on the other hand, come out in support of Nunn’s challenger, Republican David Perdue, who is leading by only a slim margin in recent polls. 

Christine Rousselle - Study Shows Liberals More Likely Than Conservatives to "Unfriend" Someone Over Politics
Posted: 10/21/2014 7:00:00 PM EST

A new study by the Pew Research Center has found that people who identify as "liberal" in their political beliefs are more likely than conservatives to have unfriended someone (either in the online or real-life sense) over a disagreement in political leanings.

According to the study, while self-described "consistent liberals" were more likely than conservatives to have friends who have differing political opinions, they were also more likely to block those person's posts from social media or to unfriend them altogether.

Consistent liberals were the most likely group to block or unfriend someone because they disagreed with their political postings, with 44 percent saying they had "hidden, blocked, defriended, or stopped following someone" on Facebook due to their political postings. Only roughly one-third (31 percent) of consistent conservatives had done the same -- although this might be attributable to lower levels of ideological diversity in their online ecosystem.


Liberals were also more likely to drop a friend in real life over politics. Nearly a quarter, or 24 percent, of consistent liberals told Pew that have stopped talking to or being friends with someone over politics, compared to 16 percent of consistent conservatives.

A possible explanation for this could be that conservatives are less likely to block someone over political postings if their friends are people with whom they mostly agree with.

Growing up in Maine, I had plenty of liberal classmates and friends, heck, it was always a surprise if a classmate wasn't a liberal. These people were some of my dearest friends growing up, and as we grew older it was quite upsetting to see that some of them purposefully shut me out of their lives when I got more heavily involved in politics. Underneath political views we're all still people before everything else. I wish more people—on both sides of the aisle—would realize that.

Daniel Doherty - PHOTOS: On the Ground in NH
Posted: 10/21/2014 7:00:00 PM EST

Concord, NH -- Well, my friends, I made it. I am currently sitting inside the media room at the Capitol Center for the Arts waiting for the debate to start. Outside, hundreds of Granite Staters have gathered and I had a few minutes to snap a few photos before picking up my media credentials.

As the photo below shows, most of those gathered are Shaheen supporters.

Computer Hope

But I did see some Brown signs.

Computer Hope

And this.

Computer Hope

Below is where everyone will walk in. In the background, you can see an American flag with President Obama's face upside down.

Computer Hope

This is the media room.

Computer Hope

And for fun, I snapped this on my ride up to New Hampshire. I went right.

Computer Hope

Apologies for the so-so quality but I wanted to you guys a sense of what it's like up here in New Hampshire. When I arrived, roughly three and a half hours before the debate started, there were already hundreds of people holding signs outside the venue. Though I overheard one spectator say she's stopped watching television altogether "because of the ads," people here are clearly engaged and ready for the debate. I was somewhat surprised, however,that there weren't more Brown supporters on scene. But it's still early.

As a reminder, the debate will start at 8:00 PM EST. Stay tuned.

Conn Carroll - The Horror of Affirmative Consent at Stanford
Posted: 10/21/2014 5:00:00 PM EST

In light of my earlier posts on California's new Affirmative Consent law, a Stanford student forwarded me the below Stanford Daily write-up of the school's recent Full Moon on the Quad (FMOTQ) event.

Now mind you, as someone who grew up going to California Golden Bear football games, I view everything that Stanford students do on The Farm as per se morally reprehensible, but it does appear that thanks to the new Affirmative Consent focus, this year's FMOTQ was a lot less rowdy than years passed:

The event concluded without a single transport [link added for context], a rarity in recent FMOTQ history, and without any reports of sexual assault.
This year’s planning committee placed emphasis on Title IX issues because of the University’s new affirmative consent policy, which stems from the recently passed California Senate Bill 967. SB-967 threatens to withhold federal funding from California colleges and universities that do not have adequate sexual misconduct policies, including an affirmative consent standard.
Jordyn Irwin ’16, a Peer Health Educator (PHE) in Rinconada House, attended FMOTQ with one eye on how students, particularly freshmen, were handling affirmative consent. She said she did not hear of any problems regarding sexual misconduct that night, nor did she witness much conduct at all.

“It seemed like not as many people were kissing as I remembered it being like my freshman year, and I was thinking about how that very well could be a product of all of the talk about affirmative consent,” she said. “I think mostly because when it becomes on people’s radars, they start to realize how awkward it seems to kiss a total stranger.”

Freshmen, with only secondhand accounts of past events to compare this year to, still noticed fewer people kissing than was hyped. Harry Elliott ’18 attended his first Full Moon this year and was surprised by the relatively low level of kissing, a tradition that goes hand in hand with the annual event.

“I was expecting a glorified makeout session, essentially just people wildly kissing each other,” he said. “No more than half of the people there were seriously engaged in making out.”

In year’s past, a countdown to midnight more or less commenced the kissing, while this year’s event, running only from 10:45 p.m. to 12:15 a.m., omitted the countdown and began and ended earlier, limiting the window for kissing but also, as Irwin noticed, for pre-gaming.
“The fact that nobody got transported this year is just sheer luck,” Kannappan said. “There’s not much we can do in terms of planning the event to stop people from pre-gaming. I do think something that helped this year was making the event time run shorter than it has in the past.”

So, to recap, the Affirmative Consent policy, coupled with a shorter run time for the event, led to less drinking, fewer drunken hook ups, and, for the first time in years, no one going to the hospital. 

What is so bad about this policy again?

Daniel Doherty - Showdown in NH: Are You Ready For Tonight?
Posted: 10/21/2014 4:00:00 PM EST

Concord, NH – Greetings from the Granite State! Happily, I arrived in chilly New England late Monday night, and by the time you read this, I will be well on my way to the NECN/Concord Monitor/UNH New Hampshire Senate debate at the Capitol Center for the Arts. Tonight, Republican Senate hopeful Scott Brown will verbally cross swords with incumbent Sen. Jean Shaheen (D-NH).

Since we last wrote about this race, there have been two headline-driving developments: First, Scott Brown finds himself in a bit of hot water after saying in a radio interview last week that the federal government's worry-inducing response to the Ebola threat would not have happened under President Romney. Democrats, of course, haven’t taken too kindly to this suggestion. Second, and more importantly, a new Suffolk/Boston Herald poll shows the race still firmly within the margin of error: Jeanne Shaheen: 49; Scott Brown: 46.

Four points of interest:

(1) Obamacare is still—and will continue to be—unpopular through Election Day. A whopping 55 percent of respondents said the president’s signature domestic achievement is “generally bad” for the state of New Hampshire. And since Sen. Shaheen voted for the law, I expect this issue to come up in a big way during tonight’s debate. Brown has been an outspoken opponent of the Affordable Care Act since 2009, and indeed, it was one of several reasons why he was able to rise to prominence.

(2) President Obama is not popular in New Hampshire. This is one theme that has been consistent in every poll conducted recently in the Granite State. Fifty-six percent of respondents disapprove of the way President Obama has run the country, although only 11 percent regret voting for him. On the other hand, Sen. Shaheen's disapproval rating is only 46 percent (as is her approval rating).

Can her better numbers, then, save her in an election year when “every single one” of the president’s policies is "on the ballot"?

(3) The ‘war on women’ charge isn’t sticking. For example, when asked if respondents “trust Brown on women’s issues,” 45 percent responded “yes” whereas only 44 percent said “no.” Which is to say he’s above water on issues that sunk two promising GOP Senate candidates in 2012. If Scott Brown loses, therefore, it won’t necessarily be because voters think he’s trying to ban contraception or outlaw abortions. It will be for other reasons.

(4) For what it’s worth, 29 percent (!) of respondents used to live in Massachusetts whereas 37 percent moved to New Hampshire “from somewhere else.” So most likely voters, we can infer, are from out of state. This suggests that the "carpet bagger" charge (bound to come up in tonight’s debate) won’t be nearly as politically damaging in New Hampshire as maybe other states, where most voters are lifelong residents.

This is a seat that early on most political observers dismissed as safely Democratic. Poll after poll, however, shows the contours of the race have shifted, and although Shaheen is technically ahead, her lead is tenuous. It is therefore difficult to overemphasize the importance of tonight's debate; if a clear winner emerges, momentum could shift. Issues I expect to be discussed tonight are the following: immigration, Obamacare, jobs and the economy, the rise of ISIS, the Ebola threat, and women’s issues.

Finally, stay tuned for my recap after the lights dim and the curtains close. The debate begins at 8:00 PM (EST) sharp, and Meet the Press anchor Chuck Todd will moderate.

Leah Barkoukis - Land Slightly Outraises Peters in Third Quarter Fundraising
Posted: 10/21/2014 3:55:00 PM EST

While Republican Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land has been struggling in the polls over the last several months, she has consistently outraised her opponent, Rep. Gary Peters, since joining the race last June. 

The third quarter fundraising period proved to be no different for the former secretary of state. Her campaign reported more than $2.13 million in contributions, whereas the Peters campaign pulled in just over $2 million.

"Once again Terri has proven that Michigan families and workers support her plan to put Michigan first by balancing the budget, fixing our roads, combating ISIS and securing our borders,” Land campaign spokeswoman Heather Swift said in a statement.

Election Day is just two weeks away—whether Land will be able to use her cash advantage to turn things around remains to be seen. 

Cortney O'Brien - Shameful: On Veterans Day, DC Metro Will Cater to Rock Concert Over Arlington Cemetery
Posted: 10/21/2014 3:15:00 PM EST
No Blue Line trains will be operating on Veterans Day in the nation's capital, reports local news. Instead, to accommodate the thousands of tourists who will descend on the National Mall for a "Concert for Valor" featuring the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Carrie Underwood and Metallica, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority decided to do away with Blue Line service:

Between 400,000 and 800,000 people are expected to be at the National Mall on November 11, authorities said. In order to maximize the capacity and accommodate as many Metro Riders as possible, Metro will change the service patterns to provide more trains on the Yellow, Orange, Silver, Green, and Red Lines.

While altering timetables during holidays is nothing new, particularly alarming about the WMATA's decision, is that the Blue Line is the only route that goes to Arlington National Cemetery, a United States military cemetery that was established during the Civil War.

Classy, WMATA.

They do offer an alternative option, however. Their website ensures that shuttle trains will be operating to and from the cemetery, but these shuttles are even headaches for us locals - I can't imagine what a nightmare they'd be for wide-eyed visitors. Why not save the shuttle for the concert? After all, aren't our veterans more important than rock stars?  

What a shame we need to ask that question.

Matt Vespa - Garcia, Kuster Nab Major Ad Buys In The Final Weeks Of NH Race
Posted: 10/21/2014 3:15:00 PM EST

Doom. That’s the subject line for a fundraising email sent by Debbie Wasserman Schultz on behalf of Rep. Annie Kuster. Beware of Kuster’s Republican opponent–and New Hampshire State Representative– Marilinda Garcia because of the tea party, or something.

Kuster has emerged from the bunker embarking on a diner tour and visiting small businesses in her district.

On the other hand, the RightNOW Women PAC, an organization that seeks to help Republican women in elections and help the GOP engage with female voters, endorsed Garcia.

“Showing Marilinda our support is important to us because she is exactly the kind of Republican woman who we know can make a difference in Washington, D.C.,” said RightNOW Women PAC founder Brittany Thune Lindberg in a press release last week.

“Marilinda is an outstanding candidate with the right priorities – namely, fighting burdensome regulations, promoting entrepreneurship, and championing health issues,” said RightNOW Women PAC advisor Marlene Colucci. “We believe she will be a force to be reckoned with in the U.S. House.”

With Election Day two weeks away, Garcia is still on the road hosting her town hall events; she has one tonight at Keene where the topic of discussion will be taxes and regulation. The rise of ISIS and foreign policy becoming more of a core issue during this election cycle was prevalent at her previous town hall event in Hanover where former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton was a guest.

Oh, and let’s not forget the $750,000 ad buy Club For Growth made on Garcia’s behalf, hitting Kuster over failing to pay her property taxes.

At the same time, Garcia has been pushing ads more frequently in the final weeks highlighting issues like immigration, tax reform, and foreign policy.

Immigration is an issue that appears to gain traction with New England voters; Scott Brown surged after hitting Sen. Jeanne Shaheen on it.

While Garcia has hit Kuster for avoiding her in town halls, the two had their first–and probably last–debate last night. We will have more on that later.

Yet, this race isn’t settled. Kuster is going to benefit from an $800,000 ad buy the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is placing in New Hampshire to help her and her Democratic colleague Rep. Carol Shea-Porter. Polls have Kuster slightly ahead, but Garcia has made quite a run in this race. She was trailing Kuster by over ten points last June 49/35. In the latest New England College poll, she’s only trailing Kuster by 3 points; that’s within the margin of error. A Granite State poll had Garcia up 4–with leaners–earlier this month.