Chad’s Morning Brief: Ted Cruz and Rand Paul Look Past Tuesday for Republicans and Other Top Stories
Two Republican Senators are looking past Tuesday's Election. Here is your Morning Brief for 11.3.14.
Cruz Ready to Battle Obama
Senator Ted Cruz is ready for battle if Republicans take the Senate on Tuesday. According to the Washington Post, Cruz wants to take the fight to President Obama and is wanting the Senate to be as aggressive as the House.
Sen. Ted Cruz spent the final weekend of the midterms on the far edge of the country trying to help fellow Republican Dan Sullivan win a race the GOP is counting on in its effort to retake the Senate.
It’s a team-player role the tea party firebrand from Texas has filled a handful of times this fall — but one he plans to abandon if Republicans win control of both congressional chambers.
In an interview at the Hotel Captain Cook here between campaign stops for Sullivan, Cruz made it clear he would push hard for a Republican-led Senate to be as conservative and confrontational as the Republican-led House.
Piggybacking on what House leaders have done, Cruz said the first order of business should be a series of hearings on President Obama, “looking at the abuse of power, the executive abuse, the regulatory abuse, the lawlessness that sadly has pervaded this administration.”
Cruz also would like the Senate to be as aggressive in trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act as the House, which has voted more than 50 times to get rid of the law.
Republicans should “pursue every means possible to repeal Obamacare,” Cruz said, including forcing a vote through parliamentary procedures that would get around a possible filibuster by Democrats. If that leads to a veto by Obama, Cruz said, Republicans should then vote on provisions of the health law “one at a time.”
And when asked whether he would back Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky for Republican leader, Cruz would not pledge his support — an indication that there are limits to how much of a partner he’s willing to be.
At the heart of Cruz’s shift from the insular approach that defined his first year in office is a belief that he can use his popularity with conservatives to expand his influence in the Senate and improve his standing as he considers a 2016 presidential campaign.
Cruz’s desire to turn his party further right in the coming months is one of the challenges already facing McConnell should Republicans regain the Senate, with tea party leaders inside and outside the Capitol spoiling for a number of hard-line moves.
“Senator Cruz has been rather quiet over the past few months,” said Ron Bonjean, a spokesman for Trent Lott when the Mississippian was the Senate Republican leader. “That time seems to be coming to an end. I understand why he’s eager to go after Obamacare. But the reality is that it’ll take 60 votes to repeal it and Republicans will have nowhere near that amount. If Obamacare remains the focus, he will certainly get the base jazzed up about what he’s doing, but he won’t get rid of the law.”
Cruz has gained some traction in terms of shaping the contours of what a Republican Senate would do, in part because McConnell and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) have not offered their own definitive vision of what a Republican-led Congress would look like.
Two weeks ago, Cruz wrote an opinion piece in USA Today laying out 10 conservative priorities he thinks Republicans should pursue, including moving toward a flat tax and drawing a hard line on illegal immigrants. In the interview here, Cruz reiterated some of those points, such as approving the Keystone XL pipeline.
While Cruz wants the Senate to be more aggressive with the President, I don't see it happening. At least I don't see a full conservative agenda happening in the Senate. I do however see Ted Cruz being vocal in his opposition to the President and I can see where Cruz will probably be laying out his solutions as he prepares to run for President.
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Rand Paul: Broaden the GOP
Paul, making a sweep of the Sunday talk shows, insisted that he wouldn’t make a final decision on a 2016 run for the White House until next year.But in a trio of interviews, he made a persistent case for the rationale behind his would-be bid for the White House. And just days after saying the GOP brand “sucks,” he cautioned Republicans against becoming complacent should they take over the Senate on Tuesday.
“I don't think what we stand for is bad. I believe in what the Republican Party values,” Paul said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” after traveling to places like the Detroit area and Ferguson, Mo., in recent months.
“But we have a wall or a barrier between us and African-American barriers. So I've spent the last year trying to break down some of that wall.”
In his appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Paul added that he’s heard from black voters in urban areas that Democrats have taken them for granted, giving the GOP a potential avenue to improve their standing among African-Americans.
“I think you have to show up, and I think you have to say something,” Paul said. “Showing up’s not enough.”
But Paul’s interviews also underscored the challenges the GOP will face as they try to grow their tent with a potential Republican-controlled Congress.
The Kentucky Republican maintained that GOP success on Tuesday would be one part endorsement for Republicans, and one part repudiation of President Obama.
That means, Paul said, that Republicans should push GOP priorities next year –including repealing the Democratic healthcare law. On top of that, Paul talked up his one of his priorities that he thinks could gain bipartisan support – slashing the tax rate for offshore corporate profits and using the revenue to make infrastructure investments.
But Paul was also forced to walk a fine line on voter identification laws, a central priority for some Republicans but a proposal that draws cries of voter suppression from minority groups.
On the one hand, Paul said he saw no problem in needing to show your identification to vote.
But the Kentucky Republican also noted that he was working with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to expand voting opportunities for certain people who committed crimes in the past. And, he said, Republicans were making a mistake in publicizing their efforts on identification laws.
“I want to restore votes. It doesn't mean that I think it's unreasonable,” Paul said about the ID laws on “Meet the Press.”
“I just think it's a dumb idea for Republicans to emphasize this and say, ‘Oh, this is how we're going to win the election.’ Early voting should be out there for everybody. I'm for early voting. I'm for more voting.”
That was far from the only way that Paul sought to set the stage for a potential 2016 run on Sunday.
Paul has faced questions about whether his more libertarian philosophy can succeed in GOP primaries, especially after the unsuccessful runs by his father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).
But Paul suggested his efforts to broaden the GOP’s appeal would make for a sharp contrast with both Obama and the presumed Democratic front-runner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“I think there’s a fundamental philosophical debate,” Paul said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“I think people are ready for new leadership.”
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