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Daniel Doherty - Fireworks: Pryor Doubles Down, Calls Cotton "Entitled" Again During Fiery Debate
Posted: 10/13/2014 6:30:00 PM EST

Today, at the University of Central Arkansas, four candidates sought to convince the voters of the Natural State why they deserve to be elected to the United States Senate. The debate lasted some 90 minutes.

The following is my analysis of how the top two contenders fared.

Mark Pryor: It’s no secret that the senator's political ship is starting to sail. As a result, he needs to turn in two solid debate performances this week to give himself some momentum heading into November. And in fairness, he did certain things well today. What was striking to me, for example, was the way Pryor framed the debate. He painted his opponent not as an extremist or an obstructionist (as Democrats tend to do) but as a candidate who is actuated by self-interest and ambition. He argued Cotton would “do anything” and “say anything” to get elected. Toward the end of the debate, he even went as far as to claim that “Cotton thinks he’s entitled to be in the Senate” -- echoing earlier (more cringe-inducing) pronouncements he’s made in the past.

For obvious reasons, this line of criticism is likely to fall flat:

Be that as it may, Pryor hammered Cotton for voting against the farm bill (although Cotton’s response as to why he didn't was excellent) and accused him of cozying up to billionaires and special interest groups. Somewhat surprisingly, he also had the most memorable line of the day.

“You don’t have the reputation, the ability, or the desire to walk across the aisle and get things done in Washington,” Pryor straight-up told his Republican challenger. Ouch.

Tom Cotton: The first-term congressman was the most polished and comfortable candidate on stage today. He made three major points. First, he repeated ad nauseam that Mark Pryor voted with Barack Obama “93 percent” of the time. He made this point virtually every time he spoke (and Pryor eventually called him out for it). Second, he argued Mark Pryor was a “rubber stamp” for the president, warning Arkansans that if his opponent is re-elected, he would continue to vote in lock-step with Congressional Democrats. Third, he incorporated painful stories from the campaign trail into his talking points about how Obamacare is hurting Arkansas' families and small businesses. This was quite effective.

On the whole, though, the debate was a wash. Both candidates had some good one-liners and no overt gaffes (the “entitled” comment notwithstanding). Take, for example, Cotton’s best line of the day. Listen closely as he talks about the differences between Washington leadership and real leadership:

Since the debate aired on a Monday in the middle of the afternoon, I’m not sure how many Arkansans tuned it. But the good news is it will re-air tonight on public television -- and there is another debate tomorrow.

This time, however, there will only be two candidates on stage. Let the games begin.

Ky Sisson - WATCH: "[The IRS] Must be Abolished!" Creator of New Documentary Demands Change
Posted: 10/13/2014 6:00:00 PM EST

"Unfair: Exposing The IRS" is a new documentary that investigates corruption inside the IRS and the many Americans that fell victim. The 80-minute feature is an in-depth look into the people and organizations that want to abolish the IRS and see a new tax system implemented.

Townhall had the opportunity to interview Craig Bergman, the producer, writer, and host of the documentary. 

"Unfair: Exposing The IRS" is in theaters across the country on October 14th for one night only.  

Christine Rousselle - Grimes Ad Hits McConnell for Amnesty Vote
Posted: 10/13/2014 4:41:00 PM EST

What does Alison Lundergan Grimes actually believe?

I've written earlier about her lukewarm attitude toward President Obama, her attempt to usurp Mitch McConnell's position on coal, and Guy covered her awkward refusal to admit to voting for Obama. Now, a new quasi-secret ad released by the Grimes campaign takes a shot at McConnell for his 1986 vote on amnesty, despite that Grimes herself said (in 2014) that immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship is needed.

From Vox (emphasis added):

Grimes' campaign is clearly trying to have it both ways on McConnell's "amnesty" attacks. For online and out-of-state progressives and donors, they're using the "web ad" to defend themselves in line with the Democratic party's agenda. But on television in Kentucky, they're running an ad trying to run to McConnell's right on "amnesty." Notably, the new anti-amnesty ad is unlisted on YouTube, meaning it doesn't show up on Grimes' main YouTube page and isn't searchable — minimizing the likelihood that out-of-state supporters will see it.

Charming. No wonder the campaign has been labeled as one of the worst-run of the 2014 Senate elections.

Grimes is currently trailing McConnell in polls.

Katie Pavlich - Abbott Stikes Back With Devastating Ad: Wendy Davis is Unfit to Be Governor
Posted: 10/13/2014 4:30:00 PM EST

Democrat and liberal hero Wendy Davis is facing enormous backlash after an ad featuring an empty wheelchair was released last week by her campaign in an effort to attack her disabled opponent Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. This week, she's doubling down on the ad and even gathered people in wheelchairs to use as human props during a campaign event Monday. 

Now, Abbott is hitting back with a devastating television ad of his own which features a slew of liberal media clips condemning the ad and Davis' campaign as a whole. At the end of the ad, the statement is made that Davis is a "unfit" to be governor.

"Despite receiving near-universal condemnation from all sides of the political and media spectrum, Sen. Davis continues to defend her desperate and despicable ad. Sen. Davis’ decision to double down on her severe error in judgment is shameful and shows that she is unfit to be their governor," the caption of the ad states.

Exit question: Abbott is up by eight points. Who are the people still willing to vote for this woman?

Guy Benson - Anti-GOP Ad on Ebola: 'Republican Cuts Kill'
Posted: 10/13/2014 4:15:00 PM EST

Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor raised eyebrows and invited scorn in August when he released a television ad tying his Republican opponent to the Ebola crisis. Although the spot was roundly mocked as hyperbolic and flailing, a Democratic group has decided to take Pryor's concept several steps further with a new commercial called 'Republican cuts kill.' It features, well, actual footage of Africans dying of Ebola. Just watch:


Somewhere, MSNBC's Joy Reid is wondering why she didn't think of this attack first. Rebutting the new ad may not be worth my time, but it fails on several levels.  First, it grossly violates the 'ick' test.  Many Americans have concerns about the government's competence to contain Ebola cases inside the United States; very few will squarely, or even glancingly, blame a political party's ideology for the current scare. On a related note, there is zero nuance in this ad. It ponderously draws a straight line from Republicans' desire to rein in federal spending to people dying of Ebola.  That linkage is so ridiculous on its face that I can't even summon any real indignation over it.  Second, in spite of CDC and NIH officials' complaints, Jim Geraghty notes that the latter group's budget has doubled since 2000 , and Gov. Bobby Jindal questions the CDC's spending priorities:

In recent years, the CDC has received significant amounts of funding. Unfortunately, however, many of those funds have been diverted away from programs that can fight infectious diseases, and toward programs far afield from the CDC’s original purpose. Consider the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a new series of annual mandatory appropriations created by Obamacare. Over the past five years, the CDC has received just under $3 billion in transfers from the fund. Yet only 6 percent—$180 million—of that $3 billion went toward building epidemiology and laboratory capacity. Especially given the agency’s postwar roots as the Communicable Disease Center, one would think that “detecting and responding to infectious diseases and other public health threats” warrants a larger funding commitment. Instead, the Obama administration has focused the CDC on other priorities. While protecting Americans from infectious diseases received only $180 million from the Prevention Fund, the community transformation grant program received nearly three times as much money—$517.3 million over the same five-year period.

The Left attempted a similar diversion during the VA scandal. So...yeah, basically:


The only way to fix wildly expensive government failures is to suck even more money out of the economy and hand it over to the government. Another important reality check:  Republican budget "cuts" simply slow down the overall rate of spending increases.  Even the dreaded sequester -- which was President Obama's idea, changes to which he vowed to veto -- barely dented spending at all. Reason's Nick Gillespie has an excellent post full of facts and charts to refute the DEADLY CUTS! hyperventilating. To put things in perspective, President Clinton's last budget (FY 2000) called for $1.77 trillion in federal spending.  A decade-and-a-half later, we're steadily marching toward $4 trillion in outlays, having accrued well over $17 trillion in debt, with tens of trillions more looming in unpaid-for promises.  The notion that the federal government is spending every single one of those dollars responsibly is laughable. The federal budget is rife with waste, inefficiencies and reckless long-term math. John Hayward's apt summary:  "We don't have an under-funded government.  We have a bad government."  Republicans are right to fight for needed reforms and restraint -- and doing so does not entail far-fetched side effects such as aiding and abetting Ebola.  And by the way, if that insane Ebola ad reminds you of this startling smear of Paul Ryan in 2011, it might be because both spots were produced by the same group.
Leah Barkoukis - Chicago Tribune Endorses Republican Challenger in Illinois Governor's Race
Posted: 10/13/2014 4:12:00 PM EST

After months of attack ads, and their first televised debate last week, the Chicago Tribune has weighed in on Illinois’ toss-up gubernatorial race between Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican businessman Bruce Rauner.

In an op-ed published Friday evening, the editorial board began by listing the state’s current troubles:

“Some $200 billion in taxpayers' public debts. Including $100 billion in unfunded pension obligations. Even now, more billions in unpaid bills. Nation's weakest public retirement system. Nation's worst credit rating. And, five long years after the June 2009 end of the Great Recession, one of the worst job creation records in America.”

Quinn has had six years in office to turn things around, they argued, but none of it has been enough to bring economic greatness back to The Prairie State. Moreover, the governor’s treated as an “irrelevant bystander” in the state’s legislative chambers. “As a result, Illinois still overspends, overborrows and overpromises. The winners are union leaders and interest groups sworn to protect bigger state budgets than citizens can afford,” they write.

You can see where they’re going with this:

With that restoration of Illinois' competitiveness as our towering priority, the Tribune Editorial Board endorses businessman Bruce Rauner for governor. We urge voters to grant Rauner the power to revive Illinois.

What does Rauner, the Republican nominee, bring to the job?

From the get-go, Rauner has campaigned on the urgent need to shatter the self-serving political power structure in state government and promote a dramatically different agenda to get Illinois growing again. He knows that the answer isn't more tax increases. Unlike the ruling class in Springfield, he doesn't see employers as enemies useful only to be milked. He wants government to be of a size taxpayers can afford.

When we backed Rauner in the Republican primary, we said he isn't running to be elected Most Popular Pol. He said he would focus like a laser on rescuing Illinois from broad decline and narrow self-interests. He wouldn't have to please anyone but voters. And he'd have nothing to lose but a job he doesn't need.

We believe a Gov. Rauner would explore changes made by governors of other states with balanced budgets, solid retirement systems and lower unemployment rates. He's obviously competitive. He would strive to do what Quinn cannot: Make Illinois competitive again.

We also think a Gov. Rauner would restore state government to solvency — paying bills as they come due — not by raising taxes, as Quinn insists, but by making Illinois a place to grow jobs. Only by getting more people employed and paying taxes can this state help all the people it now cheats — those schoolchildren, university students and cloutless citizens who depend on state services.

The bottom line is that Illinois needs to change directions and they believe Rauner is the best man to lead the state down a better path.

And on the heels of the endorsement, the Rauner Camp is out with a new ad hitting Quinn for planning a massive tax hike after the eleciton.

“Illinois families have been suffering under Pat Quinn’s 67% income tax hike for the last four years,” campaign spokesman Mike Schrimpf said in a statement. “Now Quinn wants to hit them with another tax increase right after the election. Illinois families cannot afford four more years of Pat Quinn.”

Matt Vespa - New Ads Slam Hagan For Skipping Armed Services Hearings
Posted: 10/13/2014 3:35:00 PM EST

The battle for the U.S. House and Senate is winding down; we are 22 days away from Election Day. Besides campaigns making sure they have enough volunteers to cover the polls, enough poll watcher certificates, enough clipboards, pens, voter registration lists, and snacks (hey, you have to feed these people); they are also pushing out ads, especially in races where turnout will be the deciding factor.

new High Point University poll, which sampled 584 likely voters, had Hagan and tills tied at 40 percent, with Libertarian Sean Haugh coming in with 7 percent of the vote.

In North Carolina, that’s exactly what Thom Tillis’ allies and Sen. Kay Hagan did last week. Both Crossroads GPS and the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee released ads hitting Hagan for skipping an Armed Services Committee hearing to fundraise.

Meanwhile, the Hagan campaign has hit Tillis saying, “Women can’t trust him.” The ads featured his voting to defund Planned Parenthood and his opposition to equal pay legislation. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee took an predictable line of attack against Tillis; they tied him to the evil Kochtopus. 

While Hagan has been able to hobble Tillis more over his reported cuts to education, an Elon poll last month found that most likely voters also have national security and international affairs on their minds due to growth of ISIS:

When asked “what is the most important issue in the United States?” many likely voters mentioned something related to international affairs or national defense. Not since 2007 has the Elon Poll found foreign affairs to be a top issue on the minds of North Carolinians. Tillis and Hagan supporters tend to differ on what is the most important issue. Hagan supporters seem to see education as the most important issue, while Tillis supporters were more likely to mention international affairs and national defense.

With voters trusting Republicans more than Democrats in handling terrorism and foreign affairs issues, this issue seems to be a godsend for Tillis, who’s been hammering Hagan for being a rubber stamp for the Obama agenda. Now, he can add that she’s soft of terrorism. It’s almost as if the ghosts of 2004 are coming back to haunt the left.

Additionally, Tillis’ stumping across the state and talking about his humble upbringing helps carrying himself as an authentic candidate, who faced socioeconomic obstacles and overcame them. This seems to be a narrative that resonates with voters well, especially in a lackluster economy.

As for college campuses, Hagan did a Week of Action tour across campuses in the Tar Heel state last month, but the RNC released this ad today encouraging young Republicans to volunteer as the 2014 cycle comes to a close. Yes, there are not many self-identified Republicans in the millennial generation, but never underestimate the power of a few dedicated volunteers. RNC Chairman Reince Preibus and Sen. Ron Johnson will be stumping with Tillis for his youth week of action in events held in Winston-Salem, Greensboro and Raleigh.

It also helps that he was endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce earlier this morning.  Given the appearance that Tillis has closed his deficit in the polls with Hagan 22 days before Election Day, this is turning out to be an insanely competitive–and entertaining–race.  We should all expect to stay up late for the final results. 

Guy Benson - Colorado Senate: Gardner Touts Major Newspaper Endorsements, Leads in New Poll
Posted: 10/13/2014 2:12:00 PM EST

Colorado Republican Cory Gardner leads hapless Democratic incumbent Mark Udall by four points (46/42), according to a new poll from SurveyUSA and High Point University:


Fox News' survey of likely voters in the state released late last week gave Gardner a six point advantage. Team Gardner is seeking to build momentum off of a string of newspaper endorsements, including the Denver Post's blockbuster nod that dropped on Friday. Money quotes:

[Washington] needs fresh leadership, energy and ideas, and Cory Gardner can help provide them in the U.S. Senate. In every position the Yuma Republican has held over the years — from the state legislature to U.S. House of Representatives — he has quickly become someone to be reckoned with and whose words carry weight. An analysis on ABC News' website, for example, singled out Gardner a year ago — before he declared for the Senate — as one of the party's “rising stars” who represented “a new generation of talent” and who had become a “go-to” member of leadership. And this was about someone who wasn't elected to Congress until 2010. Nor is Gardner a political time-server interested only in professional security. He is giving up a safe seat in the House to challenge a one-term Senate incumbent, Democrat Mark Udall, in what is typically an uphill effort. It's time for a change...Rather than run on his record, Udall's campaign has devoted a shocking amount of energy and money trying to convince voters that Gardner seeks to outlaw birth control despite the congressman's call for over-the-counter sales of contraceptives. Udall is trying to frighten voters rather than inspire them with a hopeful vision. His obnoxious one-issue campaign is an insult to those he seeks to convince.

The campaign released the following ad that lets others do the talking:


If Gardner pulls off this upset, Ellen Carmichael argues at the The Federalist that his focus and discipline will have played a significant role:

Message discipline matters. Gardner’s consistency and restraint give Udall few openings for attack. When asked about his positions on birth control and abortion, Gardner responds clearly, calmly and with conviction. It’s obvious that he means what he says: one can support expanded access to contraception without forcing taxpayers to pay for it and without supporting abortion. We also know there’s no better way to frustrate a bully than to refuse to be bothered by him. Gardner’s disinterest in even entertaining Udall’s wild accusations demonstrate a political maturity. He knows he doesn’t have to fight every battle or feed a troll—even if that troll is a sitting U.S. senator.

Republicans haven't won a major statewide race in Colorado since 2004, so it would be premature and foolish for conservatives to dance in the endzone before this race is over. The Obama campaign's get-out-the-vote operation in Colorado was highly efficient two years ago, allowing the president to carry the state relatively comfortably in spite of close polls. But sometimes actions speak louder than words:

National Democrats are canceling more than $1 million of planned commercial airtime for Colorado congressional candidate Andrew Romanoff — a sign of waning confidence in his prospects. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had reserved $1.4 million for TV spending to boost Romanoff in the final two weeks of his race against Republican Rep. Mike Coffman. But a DCCC aide said Friday that those funds would be distributed to other races.

If the DCCC is pulling the plug in a marquee House race in the Denver suburbs, while Senate Majority PAC reduces its ad buy in the state, they can't be looking at particularly bright trends in their internal polling.
Daniel Doherty - It Begins: Pryor, Cotton Prepare For Two Big Debates
Posted: 10/13/2014 1:35:00 PM EST

Incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Republican challenger Tom Cotton (R-AR) will trade barbs twice over the next 48 hours.

The first debate will take place this afternoon (all four candidates vying for the seat will participate), which can be viewed live on the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) website at 2:00 PM CST. (According to the Arkansas Times, it will later air on the same network's television channel at 8:00 PM). Tomorrow’s debate, however, will be televised in real time across the state starting at 7:00 PM. We will watch and analyze both.

The Associated Press reports that special interest groups have poured more than $32 million into the race. It is therefore one of the most expensive and closely-watched contests in the country. And unsurprisingly, it has been marred by mudslinging and outrageous attack ads. Tom Cotton, for example, has been characterized as entitled and being pro-Ebola. Pryor, on the other hand, has been branded an Obama rubber stamp (not entirely true) as well as “weak and unsteady.”

I expect, then, both candidates will try to set the record straight and make their opponent look weak and out of touch. Interestingly, too, this is the only debate that will address foreign policy issues, according to the Associated Press. I suspect Tom Cotton, therefore, won't let this opportunity go to waste.

I’ll leave you with two new ads before the fireworks begin. The first (released by Team Pryor) takes Cotton to task for his voting record:

The second (released by Team Cotton) burnishes their guy's military service and credentials:

Be sure to stay tuned for our post-debate analysis. These are two debates you won’t want to miss.

Correction: The debate is at 2:00 PM CST -- not EST.

Cortney O'Brien - Awesome: Pro-life Candidate Has Huge Lead in NYS Senate Race
Posted: 10/13/2014 1:15:00 PM EST

You’d think a hard line against abortion is one way to not get elected in a deep blue state like New York, but Republican State Senate candidate Rich Funke is proving otherwise. A new Siena poll shows him up by 25 points over the incumbent Democrat Ted O’Brien in the state's 55th district.

Specifically, Funke is campaigning against the tenth point of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act, which would expand abortion access in the state. Funke told a local New York news station why he cannot support such legislation:

“I can't support the notion that abortions could be performed up to the day of birth,” said Funke. “I can't support the notion that abortions could be performed by non-doctors. This is a health issue, this isn't pro-life or pro-choice. this is a health issue to me.”

O’Brien said Funke is merely trying to distort the act’s language.

Funke only finds fault with this specific section of Cuomo’s plan, yet that didn’t stop pro-abortion protesters from picketing outside of Funke’s campaign office in Rochester. A quick count from this local news report shows a whopping eight people showed up, some representing Planned Parenthood, others the National Organization for Women, to wave their “Women are Watching” signs. The Executive Director of Planned Parenthood for Central & Western New York, Betty DeFazio said Funke needs to “explain his rhetoric.”

Despite these protesters' efforts, Funke is winning. Perhaps that's because he's not afraid to answer these "war on women" accusations, insisting that he is for women’s rights. More Republican candidates need to take Funke's approach this election season.

Abortion has devastating consequences not just for the unborn baby, but for the mother involved. Studies have proven that post-abortive women often deal with alcohol and drug abuse, or struggle with feelings of guilt and depression. Considering these dangerous effects, it looks like it’s Cuomo and O'Brien who need to do some explaining.