Tag Archives: 2016 Presidential Race

DONEGAN: Paul Campaign Not Collapsing, But Pacing Itself for 2016 Victory

With the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary still months away, pundits are ready to declare U.S. Senator Rand Paul’s campaign for the presidency dead on arrival. Reality star Donald Trump currently dominates Republican presidential primary polling and has captured the interest of some Tea Party voters who are as-yet unaware of his recent support of far-left political positions and his close, personal relationship with the Clinton family.

In the eyes of the corporate media, the 2016 presidential race can only end with some combination of Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump on the general election ballot, with the Republican primary being the determinant of whether Trump runs under the GOP brand or goes third party and hands the race to Clinton. However, identical narratives were advanced at similar points in the 2008 presidential race, when pundits in 2007 were sure that voters would be choosing between Hillary Clinton and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the general election. In August of 2011, Michele Bachmann became the frontrunner in the 2012 Republican primary after winning Iowa’s Ames Straw Poll only to drop completely out of the race after placing sixth in the Iowa caucuses.

Presidential frontrunners draw intense media scrutiny. The resulting deluge of articles with negative headlines, even if they lack facts, serve to push a candidate’s poll numbers downward. No candidate in a crowded field can maintain frontrunner status for months on end. That is why now is one of the worst possible moments to be a frontrunner in a contested presidential primary. The 2016 race, still months away, is currently a marathon and not a sprint.

Rand Paul is a savvier campaigner than people realize. Personally, I recall a small fundraiser for his first Senate race that I attended at The Standard in Nashville in August of 2009 when the would-be Senator told us that he believed he could win despite the fact that the mass media narrative at that time was that he had no chance of beating Dick Cheney’s hand-picked protege Trey Grayson in Kentucky’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

After Paul upset the establishment and defeated Grayson, he struggled in early debates with Democratic candidate Jack Conway. After all, Paul is not a career politician with years of experience in debates. However, he grew warmer as the debate season heated up, climaxing in a last-minute mic-drop moment, seen below, that reversed Paul’s flagging poll numbers and clinched his Senate victory.

Aesop’s classic fable of The Tortoise and The Hare could never be more relevant. Rand Paul began his 2016 presidential campaign at the end of his father’s 2012 effort, quietly encouraging supporters to take over GOP organizations in early primary and caucus states, which they have done, a reality which will reveal itself on the ground as candidates battle to win specific primaries and caucuses.

On the other hand Donald Trump decided very recently to become Republican, change his political positions, and run for president at a dead sprint, insulting anyone who questions him and saying whatever he can to steal headlines. In time, his political positions and erratic statements will catch up with him.

Paul’s strategy should not be to seek frontrunner status this early in the race. At this point, he only needs to keep his poll numbers high enough to remain in the debates. Current polling is based on the existing field of candidates, which will change. Paul got the least time of all candidates in Fox News’ first Republican presidential debate, and he capitalized by delivering poisonous attacks on Trump and Christie in an effort to winnow down the field. A growing number of Republicans now see Trump as a possible spoiler on behalf of the Clinton campaign, and Christie was lured into impaling his campaign on an out-of-style brand of nationalistic rhetoric.

Paul’s job right now is to soften up candidates who threaten his grip on Tea Party voters and to keep winning people over state by state by doing retail politics. Being the center of a national media firestorm months prior to the race’s official start is not a path to victory, but a slide that leads to burnout. A better plan would be to become the frontrunner during or close to the early primaries and caucuses. Paul, with a strong and organized grassroots following, has a ground game advantage that pundits have not yet taken into consideration. Closer to the election, those details will become more important than Trump’s shocking insults on Twitter.

For more 2016 election coverage, click here.

Marijuana Policy Project, Whole Foods Donate to Rand Paul’s 2016 Presidential Bid

Mid-year Federal Election Commission filings are in, and Rand Paul’s 2016 presidential campaign has reportedly received a boost from atypical Republican primary donors like Marijuana Policy Project and Whole Foods.

National Journal notes that Marijuana Policy Project PAC donated $5,000 to Rand Paul for America, another $5,000 to Paul’s Senate re-election campaign, and $4,500 to Rand Paul Victory Fund, a PAC which supports Paul’s Senate re-election bid. MPP recently rated Rand Paul’s positions on cannabis freedom issues with an “A-” grade, placing him ahead of all announced presidential candidates in both parties.

Rand Paul has actually put his money where his mouth is,” said Marijuana Policy Project federal policies director Dan Riffle. “He’s been very firm in his belief that states ought to set their own marijuana policy.” Riffle said that he is not surprised that his organization chose to “max out” donations for Paul after MPP executives attended Paul’s political fundraiser for marijuana-related business leaders last June at the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Cannabis Business Summit in Denver, Colo.

Paul sponsored a bill last month that would allow cannabis businesses to access legal banking services. He has also joined with Democratic Senator Corey Booker to promote reform to federal drug sentencing guidelines and in sponsoring the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act, which would end the federal government’s prohibition on medical marijuana and scientific cannabis research.

Mother Jones’ Russ Choma analyzed the FEC filings of America’s Liberty PAC, a super PAC supporting Paul’s campaign, and found more unusual filings for a Republican primary bid. “George Macricostas, the CEO of data storage company RagingWire, donated $1.1 million to the super PAC. Jeff Yass, the CEO of Philadelphia private investment firm Susquehenna International donated $1 million. Both represent relatively untapped sources of money for a conservative candidate. Yass has previously written large checks, but none larger than the $50,000 donation he made in 2004 to Club for Growth, while Macricostas appears to have donated a total of just over $12,000 prior to his $1.1 million donation to America’s Liberty,” he wrote.

Choma added, “The super PAC roped in other big donations, including $50,000 from John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods, and $50,000 from Patrick Byrne, the CEO of Overstock.com. The group also also received $15,000 from ICC Holdings, an Illinois company hoping to be one of the first companies to legally operate a commercial cannabis farm.

Paul has called for a more inclusive Republican Party and said earlier this year, “If we want our message to resonate across the land, if we want our message to be inclusive, I tell people, look the Republican party needs to look like America… White, black, brown, rich poor, with tattoos and without tattoos, with earrings and without earrings. We need to take our message where it’s not been taken before.

For more 2016 election coverage, click here.

Last September, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode exposing the federal government’s mixed messages on medical marijuana. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.


GOP Primary Sparks Billionaires’ Feud Between Donald Trump, Koch Brothers

A Republican presidential primary season feud between billionaires has broken out as bombastic GOP candidate Donald Trump has found himself at odds with the ultra-wealthy philanthropist brothers Charles and David Koch.

The Koch brothers, whom Lawrence O’Donnell characterized as “at least 40 times richer than Donald Trump” in an above-embedded video posted last week to MSNBC’s YouTube channel, snubbed the real estate mogul and reality star by refusing to invite him to a presidential candidates’ retreat last weekend in Dana Point, CA with 450 top conservative political donors. According to CNN, candidates Carly Fiorina, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz attended the retreat.

On Sunday, Donald Trump took to Twitter to blast the GOP candidates who attended the summit and tweeted, “I wish good luck to all of the Republican candidates that traveled to California to beg for money etc. from the Koch Brothers. Puppets?

The New York Times notes that a Koch-affiliated political data company also refused to work for Donald Trump’s campaign.

Representatives from the Koch brothers’ Freedom Partners Action Fund donor network have reportedly indicated that the top five candidates under consideration by the PAC are Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio.

The libertarian-leaning Koch brothers have made issues like reforming the U.S. criminal justice system, stamping out corporate welfare, and relaxing immigration laws their 2016 political spending priorities and have recently teamed up with President Obama to push for reforms to federal sentencing guidelines for non-violent criminal convictions. George and David Koch found themselves with a more relaxed view on immigration policy than Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, as, according to Reason, the pro-union Sanders slammed the Koch brothers’ “open borders” immigration position, calling it “a right-wing proposal.”

[RELATED: Obama Praises Rand Paul, Koch Brothers in NAACP Criminal Justice Reform Speech]

On the other hand, Donald Trump has taken a hard-line stance on immigration, controversially saying during his presidential announcement speech, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

Charles Koch, who invoked American political icons like Martin Luther King, Jr., Frederick Douglass, and Susan B. Anthony in a speech before donors this weekend, told USA Today in April that his donors want a candidate with an inspiring message, “We’re telling [candidates] that if they want our support, one way to get it is articulating a good message to help Americans get a better understanding and a better appreciation of how certain policies will benefit them and will benefit all America.

For more 2016 election coverage, click here.

Christie Tells Colo. Pot Smokers to ‘Enjoy It’ Now As He Will Bust Them As President

New Jersey Republican Governor and former federal prosecutor Chris Christie issued a dire warning to pot users in states that have legalized marijuana while promoting his 2016 presidential campaign at a town hall meeting at Salt Hill Pub in Newport, New Hampshire on Tuesday. “If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it. As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws,” said Christie.

Christie claimed that he believes that marijuana is a gateway drug that alters the brain and criticized the Obama administration for choosing not to enforce federal marijuana laws in states where it has been legalized. “That’s lawlessness,” he said, according to Bloomberg. “If you want to change the marijuana laws, go ahead and change the national marijuana laws.

Reason notes that 2016 GOP presidential candidates Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Jeb Bush, George Pataki, and Carly Fiorina have all stated that they support the right of states to craft their own policy on marijuana, citing the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Truth in Media’s Annabelle Bamforth reported back in April of this year that Christie had pledged, prior to launching his 2016 campaign, that, if he were to become president, he would enforce federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized it.

Reason’s Jacob Sullum, who called Christie’s pot re-criminalization plan “utterly fantastical,” pointed out some of the difficulties facing the New Jersey Governor if he were to become president and attempt to stamp out growing marijuana industries in pot-legal states. “Three of the four states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use, plus the District of Columbia, allow home cultivation as well as commercial production. A determined prohibitionist in the White House, aided by DEA agents and federal prosecutors, could make life difficult for state-licensed growers and retailers, albeit at the cost of antagonizing political leaders in the states with legal pot (a list that probably will have expanded by the time the next president takes office). Going after thousands of scattered home growers, each of whom is free to share his produce with friends and neighbors, would be considerably harder. The federal government simply does not have the resources for such an eradication campaign,” argued Sullum.

Christie, who currently sits at ninth in the polls among 2016 GOP presidential candidates according to a RealClearPolitics polling average cited by Bloomberg, is fighting to stay in the top 10 ahead of Fox News’ August 6 televised Republican presidential debate in which the top 10 out of 16 candidates according to national polls will be featured in a prime-time showdown at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Those candidates who fail to make the top 10 will be featured in a second-tier debate taking place earlier that day.

For more 2016 election coverage, click here.

Watch the Truth in Media Project’s Consider This video, embedded below, which examines some facts about non-violent inmates serving hard time under the federal War on Drugs.


Sanders Sponsors $15 Per Hour Minimum Wage Bill, Pays Interns $12 Per Hour

U.S. Senator and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders introduced the Pay Workers a Living Wage Act on Wednesday, a bill that would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. However, an ad seeking interns on his Senate office’s website offers to pay them only $12 per hour.

A screenshot, seen below, of Sanders’ ad offering to pay $12 per hour to Senate interns shows that it appears directly adjacent to a picture of Sanders speaking at a rally calling for a national $15 hourly minimum wage.


The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009. Increasing the minimum wage would directly benefit 62 million workers who currently make less than $15 an hour, including over half of African-American workers and close to 60 percent of Latino workers. If the minimum wage had kept up with productivity and inflation since 1968, it would be more than $26 an hour today,” claimed a press release on the bill by Sanders’ Senate office.

The press release continued, “State and cities are acting on their own. New York’s Wage Board today is expected to approve a new $15 minimum hourly pay for the state’s 200,000 fast food workers. Washington, D.C., and Kansas City, Missouri, are considering raising the wage. Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco already passed ordinances raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour. Twenty-six states already enacted minimum wage increases.

However, Sanders has yet to act on his own by instructing his Senate office to offer a $15 hourly wage. The Atlantic notes that senators set their own policies on pay for interns.

Sanders said in a statement on the bill that “the largest low-wage employer in this country is the federal government” and added, “It is unconscionable that workers in the Senate cafeteria, workers like Charles Gladden who is with us today, make wages so low that they cannot afford to pay the rent.

For more 2016 election coverage, click here.

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Fox News Moves Second-Tier GOP Presidential Debate to More Visible Time Slot

Fox News has once again modified the details of its first-of-the-season August 6 Republican presidential debate, which, due to the 2016 GOP field’s 16 currently-announced candidates, has been split into two separate contests. Initially, the news network announced that the candidates who polled in the top 10 according to an average of the 5 most recent national presidential polls taken prior to the event would be included in its prime-time debate at 9 p.m. EST at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, whereas those falling below that mark would instead face off in a 90-minute second-tier debate taking place at 1 p.m. EST on the same day. Fox News has yet to point out the specific 5 polls upon which the candidates will be judged.

[RELATED: Rigged? Fox News Debate Criteria Lacks Transparency]

According to Politico, Fox News has decided to move the second-tier debate to a more visible time slot on August 6. The junior varsity debate for candidates who fail to make the top ten, which has been shortened from 90 minutes to 60 minutes, will now take place at 5 p.m. EST at Quicken Loans Arena.

Politico’s Dylan Byers wrote, “The move to 5 p.m. will give the second-tier candidates a far greater audience than they would have had at mid-day — the channel’s 5 p.m. ratings are nearly double the daytime average — and will allow Fox News to transition directly from the forum into its pre-debate coverage.

Fox News’ decision to judge candidates on their polling numbers for inclusion in the first prime-time debate of the season has been criticized by a wide range of politicos, including John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, Ben Carson, and Rachel Maddow. Political scientist and University of Virginia Center for Politics director Larry Sabato wrote in Politico, “These rules will senselessly reward gimmicky candidates like reality-TV star Donald Trump and punish serious, viable ones like Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

According to analysis of July 20 poll averages by The Washington Post, if the Fox News GOP debates were taking place today, Chris Christie, Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Scott Walker, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, and Rick Perry would qualify for the first-tier debate and Rick Santorum, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, and George Pataki would face off in the second-tier contest.

Fox News’ prime-time debate will be moderated by Chris Wallace, Bret Baier, and Megyn Kelly. The network’s second-tier debate will be hosted by Bill Hemmer and Martha MacCallum.

For more 2016 election coverage, click here.

Does Kelley Paul’s Spring Book Tour Mean Rand Is Running for President?

Though he has yet to make an announcement, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has been called a frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. While political analysts have noted that Paul has already laid significant groundwork for a 2016 bid, the Republican Senator has also said that he might not run if his family is not ready for the roller-coaster ride of negative publicity that comes with a campaign to win America’s highest executive office. Back in 2013, Rand Paul’s wife Kelley Paul told Vogue that she was not quite sure if her family was up for it and said of her reservations, “When I think of the tens of millions of dollars in opposition research that they’d be aiming right at us and our family—that’s what it’s about.” Paul has since repeated in interviews that he would need to get his wife’s support in order to confirm a possible run for the presidency.

Now, The Associated Press is reporting that Kelley Paul is making a six-stop trek across Kentucky this week to announce her intentions to launch a cross-country spring tour to promote her upcoming book “True and Constant Friends.” USA Today notes that Paul senior advisor Doug Stafford said that the Senator would make a final decision and announcement on his potential presidential aspirations this spring. According to WKMS, Kelley Paul stated in an interview with WKU Public Radio that she has been working on her book for two years and that its timing has nothing to do with her husband’s rumored 2016 bid.

“True and Constant Friends” is reportedly set to feature the stories of six inspiring women she met while studying at Rhodes College, but Kelley Paul denies that the book is an effort to connect with female voters. She told The Associated Press, “I believe there’s incredible power in friendship, especially that between women.” Kelley Paul said that her grandmother, who left conditions of poverty in Ireland for the promise of opportunity in the United States, inspired her to write the book.

Politically speaking, Kelley Paul has been called Rand Paul’s “secret weapon.” The Associated Press credited the Senator’s wife with helping him win his 2010 Senate race, particularly when she launched a press conference to blast back at Jack Conway’s allegations that Rand Paul was a worshiper of a fictitious deity called Aqua Buddah. Former Kentucky GOP chairman John McCarthy called her a “tremendous asset” and complimented her confidence and poise.

At a speech in Russellville, KY this week, Kelley Paul said of her husband’s presidential aspirations, “Obviously, he’s laying a lot of the groundwork and doing a lot of the things to make it possible for him to seek the nomination. But we haven’t finally made that decision yet.” She told WKU Public Radio, “As the months go by, I keep thinking something will happen that will make us either decide to do it or not do it. It’s hard to pull the trigger on something like this.”

However, she also told The Associated Press that she is ready for the national attention that will come with her nationwide book tour this Spring. Said Kelley Paul, “I guess I am as prepared as you can be… I’ll try to maintain my sense of humor and optimism and just be brave.”

Zogby: Rand Paul Takes Dramatic Lead in New 2016 GOP Presidential Poll

John Zogby, namesake and founder of Zogby Analytics’ famous poll, recently penned an article in Forbes discussing the findings of his latest 2016 presidential primary survey. In it, he noted that clear front-runners were beginning to appear in both the Democratic and Republican primary races. According to the poll, Hillary Clinton is, as expected, in cruise control over potential Democratic rivals, holding the support of 52% of those polled, with next-in-line Joe Biden in second place with only 8% support. On the GOP side, however, the results are uniquely consequential, as Rand Paul has broken out of the pack and taken a clear lead over other potential 2016 Republican contenders.

The GOP presidential poll, which was conducted between June 27-29 and included the opinions of 282 likely Republican primary voters, found Rand Paul leading with 20%. Next in line were Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida, both of whom tied for second with 13% support. No other GOP candidate broke single digits. Said John Zogby of the poll, “This is the first time a GOP candidate has reached 20% in a crowded field and the first time a Zogby poll has shown someone emerging a bit from the pack.”

Rand Paul’s success in the poll comes as a surprise considering the fact that other establishment candidates have better name identification levels among the public. Said Zogby, “Unlike typical polls at this early stage, Paul’s lead is not attributable to simple name recognition. He is decidedly less known than Bush, Christie, and Rubio. He may be drawing on his famous father’s support from previous runs – perhaps in the same way early polls in the late 1990s showed George W. Bush leading the field – but Rand Paul is emerging as the frontrunner in this race.”

Zogby also notes that the poll found Senator Paul scoring well in a variety of key sub-groups. He leads over other contenders among moderates, independents, conservatives, and self-identified Republicans. He holds the highest level of support among protestants and born-again evangelicals. He also scored 29% support among men.

In his analysis, Zogby cautioned that the metrics could change considerably, as there are currently no officially-announced candidates, and support levels may change depending on which candidates actually end up running. That said, Paul is emerging as a clear front-runner, and, if he matches his father Ron Paul’s success in terms of fundraising and winning straw polls, Zogby feels that momentum could intensify.

Zogby’s Democratic primary poll also contains some interesting data relevant to the alleged Obama-Clinton feud. Amid rumors that President Barack Obama may be supporting Senator Elizabeth Warren against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race, Zogby found it significant that the hard left-leaning Warren achieved only 7% support in the Democratic version of the poll, which measured the preferences of 612 likely Democratic primary voters. Said Zogby of the dynamic, “Perhaps most telling from the Democratic poll is that Sen. Warren is well behind among self-described liberals.”

It appears based on this round of polls that the 2016 presidential race might feature a head-to-head match-up between Senator Rand Paul and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.