Immigration debacle dogs Marco Rubio – By Seung Min Kim and Manu Raju 4/14/15 5:42 AM EDT Updated 4/14/15 5:42 AM EDT

But even tea-party critics say he’s contained the damage and it may not be a deal-breaker with GOP voters.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 18:  (L-R) U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) speak to members of the media during a news conference on immigration reform April 18, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The senators discussed the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act".  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 18: (L-R) U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) speak to members of the media during a news conference on immigration reform April 18, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The senators discussed the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act”. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The calls started coming from Republican Party honchos and prominent GOP senators right after Election 2012: The party had to start competing better for the Latino vote, and immigration reform was the place to start.

Sen. Marco Rubio’s political advisers weren’t so sure.

As a pair of deal-making Republicans deeply disliked by elements of the GOP base — Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham — were working with senators from both parties to draft an immigration bill, top Rubio hands flatly warned the Florida freshman not to go there. The advisers feared nothing would be worse for his chances in a potential presidential campaign than being associated with “amnesty” for the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally.

Rubio didn’t take the advice. And two years later, immigration remains the freshman senator’s No. 1 liability in his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination — though not necessarily the deal breaker it appeared to be after the reform effort Rubio helped shepherd to passage in the Senate hit a brick wall in the House.

“Everybody likes Marco Rubio,” said Iowa conservative radio host Steve Deace, a nationally syndicated commentator. But “I still don’t hear his name from conservatives at all, and I think the Gang of Eight” — the bipartisan group of senators that pushed the most sweeping immigration overhaul in a generation — “has a lot to do with that.”

Even so, the political damage to Rubio has clearly subsided over time, in no small part due to Rubio’s repeated disavowal of the entire reform exercise. In the days ahead of his presidential campaign launch in Miami Monday evening, some critics on the tea-party right concede he has resuscitated himself politically, though the true effect may not be apparent until much deeper into the 2016 primary season.

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In case you missed it: ‘How Bad Does Bullsh*t Have to Smell…’Jon Stewart Mocks Fox Apologies

Jon Stewart was absolutely floored by the multiple apologies Fox News issued after some incorrect claims about Muslim no-go zones. He asked, “How bad does bullshit have to smell before the odor is detected by people who love on a mountain made of that substance?”

Stewart learned it was in response to some pretty ridiculous musings about Birmingham being “totally Muslim”. Stewart mockingly said it’s not just limited to England, and warned of creeping Sharia law in the United States.

In fact, correspondent Aasif Mandvi went to Alabama, where they’re pushing legislation to ban Sharia law, in spite of that not being a threat to the state of Alabama in the slightest.


The Republicans who voted against Boehner for Speaker – By Cristina Marcos January 06, 2015, 02:38 pm

Twenty-five Republicans rebelled against John Boehner (R-Ohio), who won a third term as Speaker on Tuesday.

The 25 Republicans, including three freshmen, didn’t coalesce around a single alternative candidate.

Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), whose nomination for Speaker became public just minutes before the vote, attracted the most votes at 12.

Meanwhile, the other two long-shot candidates, Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) only received three and two votes each.

Additionally, freshman Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) voted “present” rather than voting for anyone. And two Republican lawmakers voted for people who aren’t even members of the House: Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), and Rep. Curt Clawson (R-Fla.) for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

Many of the votes for GOP candidates apart from Boehner drew murmurs and sometimes even outright laughter in the House chamber. The votes for Paul and Sessions drew the most derision from fellow lawmakers.

Most of the lawmakers who voted against Boehner are hard-line conservatives who particularly opposed the GOP leadership’s handling of the government-wide spending bill last month. Many conservatives had urged leadership to defund President Obama’s executive action to shield illegal immigrants from deportation. But the “cromnibus” spending package didn’t include such a provision.

Many lawmakers were absent from the vote due to former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo’s (D) funeral in New York and snow in Washington, D.C. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), a favorite for Speaker among some Tea Party supporters, didn’t make it in time due to the weather but said he would have voted for Boehner.

On the Democratic side, only four lawmakers voted for candidates aside from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) voted for former Secretary of State Colin Powell, while Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) voted for civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). And Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Fla.), who stated she wouldn’t support Pelosi on the campaign trail, voted for Cooper.

Below is a list of the Republican lawmakers who voted against Boehner:

Justin Amash (R-Mich.)
Brian Babin (R-Texas)
Rod Blum (R-Iowa)
Dave Brat (R-Va.)
Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.)
Curt Clawson (R-Fla.)
Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.)
Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.)
Scott Garrett (R-N.J.)
Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.)
Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)
Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.)
Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.)
Walter Jones (R-N.C.)
Steve King (R-Iowa)
Thomas Massie (R-Ky.)
Mark Meadows (R-N.C.)
Richard Nugent (R-Fla.)
Gary Palmer (R-Ala.)
Bill Posey (R-Fla.)
Scott Rigell (R-Va.)
Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.)
Randy Weber (R-Texas)
Daniel Webster (R-Fla.)
Ted Yoho (R-Fla.)

Ted Cruz reignites GOP civil war By Manu Raju and Burgess Everett 12/16/14 5:32 AM EST

Republican senators pounded Ted Cruz over the weekend, lashing him for his procedural tactics and ultimately voting in large numbers against his immigration gambit.

Now, Cruz’s allies off Capitol Hill are looking for revenge.

Conservative outside groups view Saturday’s vote as the first salvo in the GOP v. GOP purity wars that they hope to reignite in the beginning of the new Congress and in the run-up to the 2016 Senate midterms, when 24 Republican senators will be on the primary ballots.

After being pummeled by the party establishment in the 2014 midterms, activist groups are looking at the fight over Cruz’s contention that the spending bill is unconstitutional as their first opportunity to regroup and reestablish their relevance as Senate Republicans prepare to take the majority next year.

“People’s votes may by themselves inspire folks to say: ‘I’m running against this guy or this girl,’” said Ken Cuccinelli, the president of the Senate Conservatives Fund. “I have a funny feeling that some people who weren’t thinking of running two weeks ago are thinking of running now.”

Seven of the 20 Republicans who voted against Cruz are up for reelection in two years, including Sens. Dan Coats of Indiana, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Lisa Murkowksi of Alaska. And 16 Republicans who are running again, such as Richard Burr of North Carolina and Rob Portman of Ohio, joined the Texas freshman, a sign that many are well aware of ammunition that could be used against them in a GOP primary.

In an interview Monday, Cruz was unapologetic, pointing out that “just about every senator up for reelection in 2016” voted with him, saying he would battle his party’s leadership in February if it does not take a firmer line when Homeland Security Department funding lapses.
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Ted Cruz does it again – By Manu Raju, Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan 12/13/14 4:14 PM EST Updated 12/13/14 10:56 PM EST

And the GOP pile on begins.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas waits off stage as he is introduced before speaking about energy at the Heritage Action for America 2014 Conservative Policy Summit at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, Monday, Feb. 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Sen. Kelly Ayotte returned home to New Hampshire Friday, planning to see “The Nutcracker” with her daughter this weekend.

But there was an unexpected conflict: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Cruz, along with Utah Sen. Mike Lee, took to the floor Friday night to demand Republicans stop President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration and scuttled a bipartisan agreement to push back votes until Monday, effectively forcing the Senate to return for a rare weekend session and cast a marathon series of procedural votes.

Senior Republicans say there’s a problem with Cruz’s strategy: The GOP lacks the votes to stop Obama on immigration now, the $1.1 trillion spending package was speeding to passage, and they won’t resort to shutting down the government to mount their objections. Plus, the weekend session could allow Obama to get even more of his nominees confirmed.

So while Cruz and Lee argue they’re taking a hard stand against Obama, the result might allow Democrats to end the year with more of their priorities advanced — and the two conservatives getting nothing.

(Also on POLITICO: Harry Reid seizes GOP fumble)

“I think this is ridiculous,” Ayotte said in an interview.

The fiasco has turned many of Cruz’s colleagues openly against him, a dynamic that might bolster his cred with the tea party wing of the party if he makes a run for the GOP’s presidential nomination in 2016, but could also leave him vulnerable to attacks that he’s more troublemaker than leader — able to shutdown the government or stall votes — but unable to advance a proactive agenda.

On Saturday, GOP senator after GOP senator teed off on Cruz, arguing that his strategy had blindsided the caucus, forced them to return to Washington and even strengthened Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s ability to exploit the Senate rules and push through 24 of Obama’s stalled nominees. Several senators had to abruptly change plans, including Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, who had to cancel his official trip to Iraq and Turkey this weekend.

On the floor, angry GOP senators pressed Cruz over whether he was fundraising off of his tactics, sources said, and Maine Sen. Susan Collins ripped him in a private conversation. Several Republicans were discussing whether to mount a protest vote against Cruz: Unite in opposition to his point-of-order challenging the constitutionality of the spending bill’s funding of Obama’s immigration move.

And 20 Republicans, including incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, ultimately opposed the Texas Republican. Cruz and Lee won the backing of 22 GOP senators total, including potential 2016 rivals Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

The frustration was abundantly clear in the hallways of the Capitol. Asked if he thought the Cruz-Lee plan was effective, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch said: “The answer is no.”

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Tea Party Unloads on ‘Complete Imbecile’ Rick Perry – Olivia Nuzzi 09.04.14

Brian Snyder/Reuters

When Texas Gov. Rick Perry was indicted last month on two felony charges stemming from how he dealt with a misbehaving Democratic state official, the image of the stuttering 2012 Republican primary challenger was replaced with that of a hero-cowboy in the eyes of many conservatives. Perry was under attack from the left wing, and his response was not to apologize but to walk through a hail of blue-hued bullets and emerge laughing, without a mark on him. But some conservative true believers have begun to notice something rather suspicious: The company Perry keeps seems more suited to a mainstream Republican—or a right-of-center Democrat—than to their hero-cowboy.

Perry is associated with three operatives who have concerned some members of the die-hard right wing: lobbyist Henry Barbour, former Bill Clinton aide Mark Fabiani, and McCain-Palin campaign chief and MSNBC pundit Steve Schmidt.

Well, maybe “concerned” is putting it somewhat mildly.

“The only two options are that Rick Perry is a complete imbecile and he has no idea who these people are and what they’ve done and how the conservative base—who votes in primaries—feels about these guys, or he’s doing it on purpose because that’s the kind of message he wants to send,” said Keli Carender, the national grassroots coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots. Either way, she assured: “It will be an issue. We will make it an issue.”

Barbour is already working on Perry’s 2016 bid for the White House. But conservatives know him best for his role running the political action committee Mississippi Conservatives, founded by his uncle, Haley Barbour, the former governor of Mississippi. In this year’s Magnolia State primary fight—and “fight” is an understatement—between U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel, Barbour reportedly played an influential and controversial role.According to National Review, his PAC funneled money to produce ads against McDaniel that alleged he would set back “race relationships between blacks and whites and other ethnic groups.” The ads, which seemed intended to drive African-American voters to the polls, enraged McDaniel’s Tea Party supporters.

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Ted Cruz: Conservatives will take back the country – By Kellan Howell – The Washington Times – Saturday, August 9, 2014

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, pauses as he delivers a speech to 2014 Red State Gathering attendees, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014, in Fort Worth, Texas. Possible presidential candidate Cruz predicts Republicans will retake the Senate this year and that "2016 will be even better." (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Several GOP 2016 presidential hopefuls made public appearances in Iowa Saturday, including Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz who told conservatives to remain optimistic going into the next election cycle.

During a speech at the Iowa state fair, Mr. Cruz told listeners that conservatives would take back the country from President Obama and Democrats, just as they did when Jimmy Carter was president, The Hill reported.

Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at Aug 10, 2014 3.40

“All across this country, people are waking up,” Mr. Cruz said. “And they’re waking up to bring America back to the principles we have been founded on. There is a better way than the path we are on.”

Mr. Cruz juggle lighter rhetoric with harsh criticism of the Obama administration during his roughly 20-minute speech, The Hill reported.

He commented on Mr. Obama’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the ongoing scandal within the IRS.

“It reminds you of a new diet that’s really quite popular in Washington these days,” Mr. Cruz said after joking about a cow sculpted from butter at the fair. “It’s called the Obama diet. You just let Putin eat your lunch every day.”

While discussing the crisis at the border, Mr. Cruz, a tea party favorite, took a stab at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nomination for president.

“We are seeing the consequences of the Obama/Clinton foreign policy playing out across the globe,” he said. “It seems like the whole world is on fire right now.”

Mr. Cruz is one of several potential GOP candidates who attended the state fair on Saturday, including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Mr. Cruz is scheduled to speak to Christian conservative activists at the annual Family Leadership Summit in Ames later Saturday evening. He will be joined by Mr. Jindal and other Republican front runners including former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Alexander beats back Tea Party challenge – By Jessica Taylor August 07, 2014, 09:38 pm

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) easily survived his Tea Party challenge on Thursday, dealing a final blow to conservative insurgents who hoped to oust a Senate incumbent this cycle.Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at Aug 8, 2014 1.14

With 19 percent reporting, the Associated Press called the race for Alexander with 52 percent of the vote. His main challenger, state Rep. Joe Carr, took 38 percent. Radiologist George Flinn took 6 percent, with the remainder of the vote split between several other candidates.

Speaking to supporters in Nashville, Alexander praised the huge primary turnout that helped renominate both him and Gov. Bill Haslam (R).

“In one of the largest Republican primaries in a conservative  state, Tennesseans have nominated a get-it-done governor and a get-it-done senator. Both Gov. Haslam and I are conservatives. We both know how to give a pretty good conservative speech. But we also both know that our job is not over when the speech is finished. It is really just starting,” said Alexander.

While some conservatives had long been eyeing a challenge to Alexander — who frustrated them with his work on the Senate bipartisan immigration bill and willingness to work across the aisle — Carr’s race never materialized.

The Tea Party hopeful received endorsements from conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham, who hosted a Nashville rally for him, and from former Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin. Tea Party Patriots also backed him, but other national players, such as Senate Conservatives Fund, took a pass.

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Kansas showdown: The tea party’s last shot – By JAMES HOHMANN and STEVEN SHEPARD | 8/5/14 5:02 AM EDT

In one primary after another this year, the tea party has tried but failed to unseat poster senators of the Republican establishment: first John Cornyn, then Mitch McConnell, then Lindsey Graham, and finally and most spectacularly, Thad Cochran.

The contest between Roberts and Wolf has tightened down in the home stretch. | AP Photos

On Tuesday, in probably its last realistic shot, the conservative movement will try again in Kansas. Sen. Pat Roberts, in Congress since 1980 and a staffer for more than a decade before that, has been hobbled by residency issues reminiscent of the ones that sank Indiana’s Dick Lugar two years ago. He is trying to fend off a challenge by Milton Wolf, a tea party-backed radiologist and second cousin of Barack Obama who’d be in much better shape had he not posted and joked about X-rays of gunshot victims on Facebook.

Roberts is expected to win, but then again, so was Lugar. And the Kansas contest has tightened down the home stretch, according to polls, making Tuesday’s returns well worth tuning in for.

If Roberts wins and Sen. Lamar Alexander fends off Joe Carr in Tennessee on Thursday, this will be the first cycle since 2008 in which no incumbent senator loses in a primary.

Michigan, Missouri and Washington also have significant House primaries on Tuesday.

Top national Republicans privately concede that they are worried about an upset in Kansas, especially if fewer than 300,000 people turn out to vote during the height of vacation season. They fret that Roberts has not run an aggressive enough campaign, and that the X-ray story broke too soon in the campaign, allowing Wolf time to recover.

Here are the key things to watch, in the Kansas Senate race and elsewhere, as returns roll in Tuesday:

Will the Kansas City suburbs go big for Wolf?

The Kansas City media market is where Wolf kicked off his campaign and where he planned to end it with a get-out-the-vote rally Monday night. The 43-year-old challenger must win Johnson County in the city’s outskirts — and do so with enough of a margin to offset Roberts’ expected strength elsewhere.

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