Sarah Jean Seman - Gov. Christie Travels to GA, Stumps for Nathan Deal
Posted: 10/17/2014 4:42:00 PM EST

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spoke to a crowd of Georgians Thursday, encouraging them to support Nathan Deal (R) in the upcoming gubernatorial election. Incumbent Deal is running against Jason Carter (D), the grandson of Jimmy Carter.

From the front steps of the City Hall in Roswell, Christie told the crowd:

The choice that’s in front of you is whether or not you’re going to go back to policies of the past, policies of higher taxes and greater spending, greater dependence on Washington, D.C., or to a state government with lower taxes, less spending, smaller government and more of the people of Georgia free to pursue their hopes and dreams in an entrepreneurial spirit without government telling them what to do. That’s what Gov. Deal stands for, and he needs you to stand for him Nov. 4.

Christie claimed he spoke on behalf of Republican governors across the country when he voiced his approval. Christie is chairman of the Republican Governors Association, a group that has infused nearly $3 million into the Deal campaign.

Challenger Carter claimed the backing showed Deal’s weak reliance and tie to “Washington politics:”

We feel like given the governor's record, and our vision for the state, and the response that we've had across the state so far, and the governor's desperation in a variety of contexts lately, that we're in a very strong position. And we're not waiting for any cavalry to come. We're going to solve the problems here in Georgia.

Considering that the former 39th president of the United States has been campaigning for Carter...that’s a pretty rich statement.

With only 17 days left until the Election Day, Deal still has a slight lead in the polls.

Cortney O'Brien - Have You Met...Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Posted: 10/17/2014 3:30:00 PM EST

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the October issue of Townhall Magazine. 

Don’t ever step between a grandmother and her grandchild. When Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) brought an ultrasound of her grandson to the Senate floor in July to speak against S. 1696, a bill that would override nearly all federal and state laws limiting abortion, the image spoke much louder than any written testimony.

Blackburn knew the consequences of S. 1696 would be fatal. Third-trimester bans on abortion, limits on abortion after five months of pregnancy, and laws against sex-selection abortion would be lifted as a result of the inappropriately named Women’s Health Protection Act. Thankfully for the representative, she found a friend in technology.

“When you look at science and how science has changed the debate on life, it’s just important to make that a part of the debate and the statement. I talk with women not just in my district, but around the country. When they hear that heartbeat, when they view that ultrasound, and especially with the 3-D ultrasound, they can see what that baby looks like and it is just such an amazing gift that we have the opportunity to have that knowledge—those first glimpses of that child.”

With such a window to the womb, Blackburn insists it’s hard to deny the humanity of the unborn.

“It’s really pretty incredible that science has opened that window and that opportunity to say yes indeed, this is a child. This is a child who is created and loved and vibrant and living and here is that child. So, it’s exciting.”

So, what led her to that profound moment that seemed to silence her fellow members of Congress? Well, her trip to Capitol Hill started on a farm in south Mississippi.

“We had great parents who really believed that you give back more than you take and you leave things in better shape than you found them. And those are a big part of my value system. In that, we were regularly participants in doing things that make the community better. Whether it was being active in our church or school or 4-H club. Making certain that we were always there as part of the political process. We were all in if you will.”

Blackburn moved to Nashville, Tennessee for a job, and after getting married, she and her husband started a young Republicans organization in suburban Nashville.

She was surprised to realize that was just the beginning of her political foray.

“While I was the county party chairman, I wanted to really build a strong and vibrant Republican Party. I enjoyed doing it, being on the backside of things. I was very active, just didn’t think I’d run for office.”

She did more than run. In 2002, she won a seat in Congress for Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District and now she’s leading the charge on a number of policy issues. In addition to her fight for life, for instance, she is helping to manage our broken borders by calling for a reversal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which delays action against undocumented children.

Blackburn’s passion for fixing our country’s ills stems from the concerned letters she receives from constituents.

“People will write and talk about how fearful they are this country is slipping away from us. We hear a lot too about the state of the economy. We hear a bit about Obamacare and the impact it is having on employers, on insurance providers, on physicians, and hospitals. We hear from people who were forced into Obamacare that now have an insurance card but they don’t have access to the physician. They have access to the card, but not access to the physician.”

As a mother and grandmother, she can relate to her fellow Americans’ woes.

“I think a lot of people are like me, they put their head on the pillow at night, they say their prayers and they pray for this country, and for their children and grandchildren to know the America they have known, and to have the ability to grow up in freedom with a certain expectation of freedom.”

Part of that freedom means time to enjoy some leisure. Blackburn looks forward to cooking for her family every Sunday and boasts a “mean chocolate chip cookie.” She’s also found weeds to pull outside of the nation’s capital.

“I love to garden—and do a lot of it. I just love to go out and dig out the dirt. It’s a good healthy activity. And I enjoy needlepoint and spending time with my grandchildren.”

Based on the ultrasound she brought into Congress, it appears she also likes hanging out with her grandchildren while working. •

Guy Benson - Video: Braley Cornered on Obamacare, Late-Term Abortion
Posted: 10/17/2014 2:46:00 PM EST

Republican Joni Ernst and Democrat Bruce Braley locked horns in their final Iowa Senate debate last night. Katie already posted video of Ernst's terrific rejoinder to Braley's lecturing on Iraq, and Conn is keeping tabs on auspicious-looking early voting trends. Two more clips for you. The first features Ernst pushing back against Braley's revisionism on Obamacare, which he's now claiming is flawed and in need of fixing. The Republican reminded her  opponent -- to whom Nancy Pelosi assigned the task of delivering one of the 'closing arguments' for the law -- that he's boasted in the recent past of having read every last word of the law before he voted for it:

"You said you read every page of this bill. You tabbed it. You highlighted it. So either you didn't understand what was in the bill, or you were misleading Iowans, and I don't know which one is worse."

In another exchange, Braley was pressed on his abortion extremism, at which point he claimed to be a supporter of life and an opponent of late-term abortion.  The Weekly Standard's John McCormack fact-checks those assertions:

Iowa's Democratic senatorial candidate Bruce Braley said during a debate Thursday: "I have always stated, contrary to what Senator Ernst said, that I oppose all late-term abortions that aren't necessary to save the life or health of a mother." But in 2013, Congressman Braley voted against a bill that would have banned abortions later than 20 weeks after conception, with exceptions for the cases of rape, incest, and when a physical health issue endangered the life of the mother. Braley also cosponsored a new bill in 2013--the "Women's Health Protection Act"--that would strike down almost all limits on abortion, including the 1989 Pennsylvania law used to convict the notorious murderer Kermit Gosnell...This bill that Braley supports is so extreme that even Colorado senator Mark Udall has declined to co-sponsor the Senate version of it.

In other words, he misled viewers, probably because he can read the polls on late-term abortion (even if they don't impact his actual votes on the matter).  When you're too extreme for "Mark Uterus," who can't even bring himself to oppose sex-selective abortions, you're far, far, out of the mainstream.  One more note on this race.  Retiring Democrat Tom Harkin has decided to keep his multi-million-dollar war chest to himself for a legacy project, rather than help out Braley's campaign:

Senate Democrats are pleading with donors to give to Rep. Bruce Braley’s campaign as they struggle to pull off a victory in Iowa and save their endangered majority. But there’s one key player holding onto his campaign cash: Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin. Despite direct appeals from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and other top Democrats, Harkin has refused to transfer money from his $2.4 million campaign account to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, according to sources and campaign finance records. Instead, the retiring Iowa senator has informed party leaders that he plans to use the campaign funds for a charitable contribution to an entity that bears his name: The Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement at Drake University in Des Moines, according to sources close to discussions with the senator. The issue has been the subject of multiple tense meetings.

This awkward internecine fight led a DailyKos contributor and poll watcher to render this assessment of the race:

Katie Pavlich - White House: New Ebola Czar Will Report to Susan Rice
Posted: 10/17/2014 1:41:00 PM EST

Speaking from the White House Friday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said new Ebola Czar Ron Klain will report to former U.N. ambassador and current National Security Advisor Susan Rice. 

"Mr. Klain will ultimately however report to Ms. Monoco [Homeland Security] and to National Security Advisor Susan Rice in this effort," Earnest said.

As a reminder, Susan Rice is the woman who went on five Sunday talk shows to lie about a YouTube video being responsible for the 9/11 attack in Benghazi. She is also the same person who said alleged Army deserter and Taliban sympathizer Bowe Bergdahl served with honor and distinction.

Daniel Doherty - Change: Cook Political Report Adjusts Rankings, Says NH Senate Race a “Toss Up”
Posted: 10/17/2014 1:00:00 PM EST

Scott Brown is staging a late-game comeback in New Hampshire and the analysts at the Cook Political Report have taken notice.

Even though Scott Brown has been trailing for months in the polls, a couple of new surveys show he’s nipping at Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-NH) heels. Perhaps in part because he's become more visible in recent weeks, or perhaps because national security issues are starting to take center stage, the analysts believe Brown is now a formidable candidate. From their write-up:

Given that Shaheen’s lead has narrowed to the low- to mid-single digits, the contest is moving to the Toss Up column. It is worth noting, though, that she is closer to the 50-percent mark than the other Democratic incumbents in the Toss Up column, which gives her a bit of an edge in the end.

Shaheen is still probably the nominal front-runner in this contest. But her lead is now, at best, razor-thin.

As a side note, I will be on the ground covering the Shaheen/Brown debate next Tuesday night in Concord, New Hampshire. Meet the Press anchor Chuck Todd will moderate. Hopefully, it will give Brown more exposure (in a positive way) before voters head to the polls.

Completely unrelated, but I’ll leave you with this anyway: a new Boston Globe survey shows the Massachusetts governor’s race is surprisingly tight and only getting tighter:

[Coakley] and Baker are tied at 41 percent in the poll, a change from last week when Coakley led by 5 points. The survey, in addition to tracking the governor’s race, drilled down into voters’ views of the governor’s tenure as he prepares to leave office after two terms.

The results found Patrick, while still popular, has some dents in his political profile.

This could be hurting her, too.

Katie Pavlich - Unreal: With Ebola Crisis Raging, Obama Administration Started Streamlining Visas From West Africa in August
Posted: 10/17/2014 12:00:00 PM EST

Not only is the Ebola crisis continuing to degrade, but the optics of how the White House has handled the situation are getting worse by the day too. 

A new report published at Breitbart shows the Obama administration started expediting visas from West Africa in August as the Ebola was (and still is) raging out of control with a 70 percent mortality rate. According to the report, the man who died from Ebola in a Texas hospital after visiting Liberia, had his visa approved in the same month visas were being streamlined.

In short, the USCIS has been waiving fees, expediting the immigration process, and allowing extensions of visas for anyone coming from the three designated Ebola-stricken countries, provided that they are in the United States. The Free Republic blog reported that the law firm of Edward W. Neufville, III, LLC, a Washington, D.C. area immigration firm, added a section to their website two days after the USCIS announcement, with more details about how these relief measures would work, including extensions of the time that the foreign national could remain in the United States, additional work permit opportunities, and even forgiveness for failure to appear at required interviews or submit required evidence. According to the Neufville firm, the new USCIS policies mean that "[i]ndividuals from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea currently in the United States may apply for an extension or change in status due to the Ebola Outbreak, even if their request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired." Otherwise stated, this means that someone from one of those countries who illegally overstayed their visa can now apply for an extension, or someone who arrived illegally can apply to get legal status.

Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died from Ebola earlier this month, had traveled to the United States after his visa was approved in August, the same month that USCIS announced the new relief measures.

Here is a breakdown of what was happening with the Ebola crisis in August courtesy of Haaretz

August 2: A U.S. missionary physician infected with Ebola in Liberia is flown to Atlanta in the United States for treatment.

August 5: A second U.S. missionary infected with Ebola is flown from Liberia to Atlanta for treatment. Aug. 8: WHO declares Ebola "international public health emergency."

August 12: WHO says death toll has topped 1,000, approves use of unproven drugs or vaccines. A Spanish priest with Ebola dies in a Madrid hospital.

August 15: MSF says the epidemic will take about six months to control.

August 20: Security forces in Monrovia fire shots, tear gas to disperse crowd trying to break out of quarantine, killing a teenager.

August 21: The two U.S. missionary aid workers treated in Atlanta are released from the hospital free of the virus.

August 24: Democratic Republic of Congo declares Ebola outbreak, apparently separate from larger epidemic. An infected British medical worker is flown home from Sierra Leone for treatment.

August 28: WHO puts death toll at above 1,550, warns outbreak could infect more than 20,000. Aug. 29: Senegal reports first confirmed Ebola case.

The White House has refused to even put travel restrictions on the table as the crisis in West Africa continues. Considering the administration has been encouraging more travel, it's no wonder travel restrictions aren't being considered. CDC Director Tom Frieden said yesterday during testimony on Capitol Hill that his first interest is protecting Americans. If Frieden really meant what he said,the folks over at DHS don't have the same priority and clearly aren't on the same page. 

These revelations prompt a whole new set of questions about how the Obama administration is handling this situation and leads one to question whether the government is really doing anything real to protect Americans from a deadly disease. At a time when officials knew Ebola was killing thousands in Africa, they invited more people potentially exposed to that disease, including Thomas Duncan, to come into the United States. At best, this is negligence. 

Greg Hengler - Africa: A Forest Fire Throwing Out Sparks
Posted: 10/17/2014 11:55:00 AM EST

On this week's Townhall Weekend Journal:

Bill Bennett talks Ebola with Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. Michael Medved talks with Gordon Chang—author of “Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World.” Hugh Hewitt with Erik Stanley of Alliance Defending Freedom talks about the Houston pastors getting subpoenaed by the City Council for any "questionable" speech regarding homosexuality or restrictive gender categories. Bennett and Washington Examiner’s Byron York on the November elections. Hewitt and Senator Lindsay Graham on the KS Senate race and Ebola. Mike Gallagher with Chris Wallace from Fox News discuss the downfall of Democrat Senate candidate, Allison Lundergan-Grimes.

Daniel Doherty - Good News: Obama Appoints Ebola Czar
Posted: 10/17/2014 11:05:00 AM EST

Katie noted earlier today that the president has been toying with the idea of appointing an “Ebola Czar” to deal with this crisis – presumably because the CDC Director and others have failed to do so. Now he has.

According to CNN, the president has tapped Ron Klain for the job, a White House insider who was the point person on the stimulus act and has a reputation in Washington for managerial competence:

President Barack Obama will appoint Ron Klain his "Ebola czar," knowledgeable sources tell CNN.

The president on Thursday signaled his openness to the idea to have one individual coordinating the entire federal response to any threat of an outbreak in the United States.

The news comes on the heels that another agency, the World Organization of Health (WHO), has openly admitted it utterly failed to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

So far, only two people have contracted the virus in the United States.

Guy Benson - Rove: GOP Chances of Winning the Senate Are Improving
Posted: 10/17/2014 10:27:00 AM EST

Republican Svengali Karl RoveWall Street Journalcolumn this week is devoted to assessing the party's electoral standing heading into next month's midterm elections.  He's voiced concerns about the GOP weaknesses and vulnerabilities in recent weeks, noting that netting at least six Senate seats in a single cycle is never an easy task -- even in an auspicious national environment.  With less than three weeks to go, Rove sees a stronger Republican hand:

In this year’s 11 most-competitive Senate contests, Democrats must run far ahead of the president’s job approval to escape defeat. According to the Wednesday Huffington Post’s Pollster aggregate summaries, Mr. Obama’s job approval is 35% or less in Alaska, Arkansas, South Dakota and West Virginia; 40% or less in Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and New Hampshire; and 45% or less in North Carolina and Michigan...Money and ad buys matter, but what matters more is whether the quality of the candidates’ messages will attract undecided voters in the final weeks. Here, too, both sides are making different bets. Republicans are counting on undecided voters breaking against the party in power. Democrats are counting on undecideds to stay home or to split evenly, with as many turned off by individual Republican candidates as are down on the president.

This doesn’t appear to be happening. In the Real Clear Politics average of polls, Republican challengers lead in eight of the 11 most-contested races, with nine improving their numbers or margins since Sept. 1. Republicans also lead and have improved their numbers or margins in all three vulnerable GOP seats: Kansas, Kentucky and Georgia. Democrats ran an impressive get-out-the-vote effort in 2012 and say their ground game will produce victory this year. Republicans also are spending heavily and deploying new technology and data...Surprises are possible in the remaining 19 days before the election. But there are a dwindling numbers of cards in the deck, and Republicans appear to have the better hand.

National Journal reports that officials at the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) are projecting a GOP takeover of the Senate next year, but are tamping down expectations of a major red wave:

National Republicans believe they will retake the Senate on Nov. 4. But don't call it a "wave." Asked by reporters at a pen-and-pad briefing Thursday how confident he was that his party would gain control of the chamber, National Republican Senatorial Committee executive director Rob Collins said: "We are going to win the Senate. I feel very good about that." Still, Collins said he would not characterize 2014 as a "wave" election, though he noted that momentum has shifted toward GOP candidates in a handful of red- and purple-state races. "In some ways this hasn't been the wave that everyone's been looking to cover," he said. "And I know that can be frustrating. … But I will say this: If you look at September, you saw Arkansas consistently move and then kind of solidify at 4-5 points. We've seen Alaska move, Iowa move, and Colorado move, Kansas move back toward us, and now we're seeing North Carolina move this weekend." He did acknowledge, though, that races in Georgia and South Dakota—where Democrats have put in late-stage, seven-figure investments—have tightened.

We've been mapping out the math for weeks now.  If Republicans hold the three contested seats they currently control (GA, KS, KY, none of which are 'in the bag' yet) and flip open Democrat-held seats in three states (MT, WV, SD, with the latter being by far the closest), they'll need three more to demote Harry Reid.  They have at least an even shot at winning in Alaska, Arkansas and Louisiana at this stage -- with Colorado and Iowa looking promising, as well.  The North Carolina race has moved back into toss-up territory, while Scott Brown is keeping things close enough in New Hampshire to keep his race on the map.  In the Tar Heel State, Republicans are continuing to press Kay Hagan on questions about sweetheart 'stimulus' deals that financially benefited her immediate family, her bizarre 'attaboy' for the CDC on its handling of Ebola, and her decision to skip a key Armed Services hearing to attend a fundraiser for herself in New York City:

Let's run through a few more ads. In Iowa, Joni Ernst offers a folksy take on government spending; in Alaska, Condoleezza Rice issues a strong endorsement of Dan Sullivan; and in Georgia, women speak out against Obama ally Michelle Nunn -- who recently joined Alison Lundergan Grimes in declining to state whether she voted for the president:

I'll leave you with Colorado Democrat Mark Udall naming the biggest non-issue from which Congress and the country should "move on:"

Nothing to see herefolks.
Conn Carroll - Iowa Democrats Fall Further Behind 2012 Ballot Lead
Posted: 10/17/2014 10:25:00 AM EST

Not only is Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) trailing Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst in the polls and fundraising, but Iowa Democrats are also tens of thousands of ballots behind their 2012 pace.

Last night Ernst dominated Braley in their latest debate, artfully turning a Braley lecture about Iraq into a sober reminder that Ernst knows a lot more about "boots on the ground" then Braley ever will.

But the better news for Ernst came this morning from the Iowa Secretary of State's office. As The Washington Post's Greg Sargent notes, Democrats have turned in far more ballots this year than they did at this same point in 2010, although still far behind their 2012 pace. At this point in 2010, Democrats had 60,156 ballots turned in, in 2012 they had 147,234, and now they have 79,751.

So that is great news for Democrats right!?! They aren't matching their 2012 totals when Obama won they state 52 percent to 46 percent, but they are turning in far more ballots than on 2010, when Republican Gov. Terry Branstad won 53 percent to 43 percent?


Sargent is completely ignoring the other half of the picture: how many ballots Republicans are turning in.

According to Iowa Secretary of State data compiled by Ace of Spades HQ, at this point in 2010 Democrats had a 18,835 ballot lead, compared to 2012 when they had a 55,162 ballot lead. But this year, Republican ballots have surged far more than Democrats, and Republicans only trail Democrats by 5,219.

So while Democrats might have appeared to improve their ability to turn out Democratic voters, it appears Republicans have improved even more.