There was notable and powerful moment in last night's South Carolina town hall meeting with Michele Bachmann, when she revealed she once suffered a "devastating" miscarriage that she said changed her life and priorities.
"After our second was born, we became pregnant with a third baby. It was an unexpected baby, but of course we were delighted to have this child," Bachmann said told the crowd, in response to a question from an audience member. "The child was coming along and we ended up losing our child. And it was devastating to both of us, as you can imagine if any of you have lost a child."Continue »
MANCHESTER, N.H.--After two hours of talk and lots of interruptions from a moderator, here are the five things you need to know from tonight's GOP debate:
1. Bottom line: This debate was about Barack Obama: There was a lot of speculation going in that the candidates would start slugging it out with one another to break out of the pack. Not tonight. It was Republicans United vs. Obama. Here's a sample of what they said about the President: "He's failed at a time when the American people counted on him to create jobs and get the economy growing." (Mitt Romney) "The Obama administration is an anti-jobs, anti-business, anti-American energy destructive force." (Newt Gingrich) "Just make no mistake about it. I want to announce tonight. President Obama is a one-term president." (Michele Bachmann)
2. Mitt Romney maintains his status: Former Gov. Romney went into the debate as the presumptive frontrunner, and he left the debate as the presumptive frontrunner. If anything, he solidified his position as king of the hill--and none of the candidates came close to pushing him off.Continue »
MANCHESTER, N.H.--With the first major Republican debate only hours away, the candidates have wrapped up their strategy sessions and are getting ready to take stage. At this point in the campaign, tonight is a chance for them to introduce themselves to voters--perhaps with a good one-liner--and try to avoid any missteps that will get replayed over and over.
But there are a few other things brewing under the surface that we could see tonight. So while we all wait for things to get started, here are the Top Five few things to be on the lookout for late on.
1. Will tonight's debate be like King of the Hill--that playground game you played in elementary school? With Mitt Romney firmly established as the presumptive frontrunner, the non-Romneys are going to have to start charging up the hill at some point to try to push him off. So far they're not running at him at full speed. If they don't make an effort tonight, Romney will be able to stay focused on taking shots at President Obama--and not get into a shoving match with the others. But there are some signals it could go the other way, which leads us to....Continue »
In the Department of Obvious Next Moves, Sarah Palin's PAC now is encouraging supporters to join forces to go through the 24,000 pages of emails to set the "record straight" and show the "hard working governor" behind the messages.
SarahPAC's site quotes a post from conservatives4palin.com, which started the effort with the following plea:
"The media went crazy thinking they were going to find a smoking gun on Governor Palin by forcing the State of Alaska to release 24,199 pages of email communications during her time in office. They were wrong and have admitted as much. After the media spent so much time and effort, they discovered no "bombshells," which of course they were hoping for all along....Continue »
CBS News Political Producer Bonney Kapp reports:
"He gave a great speech this morn in Michigan - mentioned Alaska," she told aides, urging them to release a response to Obama's campaign speech on energy policy.
She also said she said she was "glad" Obama was "flippflopping" and added that Obama "Stole out (sic) Energy Rebate $1000 check idea, stole our TC-Alaska gasline talking I points, etc. So we need to take advantage of this a write a statement saying he's right on."Continue »
With reporters coast-to-coast now frantically searching through 24,000 of Sarah Palin's emails from when she was Alaska governor, here's what we've seen so far: A governor who doesn't particularly like the press, who is engaged in energy issues facing her state and who is extremely hands-on in the day-to-day business of the office.
There have been a couple mentions of "troopergate," but nothing new or unusual. There have been a few emails that, unsurprisingly, make clear her disdain for the media and her surprise at voluminous requests for information. In one, she apologizes to her staff for having to deal with reporters. In another email to staff, she implies she had a contentious relationship with Alaska Congressman Don Young. Most them, also unsurprisingly, are on her daily work as governor: her schedules, the pressing issues facing Alaska, her correspondence--including an exchange with then-Vice President Dick Cheney over an oil pipeline.Continue »
With confirmation that Gingrich's top advisers have quite en masse, this obviously means his campaign is all but done, which frankly was only a matter of time and comes as a surprise to no one. The more interesting question for 2012 is what this means for Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Sources close to Perry tell me he is now "serious" about a presidential bid. He has been talking with his big money donors for the past week, and they had a conference call on Monday to talk assembling a possible 2012 campaign.
But the rub was this: There was no way Perry would run for president without his top political consultant, Dave Carney. And it also would be nice to have his former campaign manager, Rob Johnson, on board.
Unfortunately for Perry, both of those guys were working on Gingrich 2012. Carney was advising Gingrich in New Hampshire and Johnson was Gingrich's senior political adviser. As one top Republican strategist told me on Tuesday, the canary in the coal mine for a Perry presidential run is whether Carney would leave Newt.
Now, Gingrich's entire team has up and quit. And all of a sudden Carney/Johnson are available. And Rick Perry is for real.
Rollins, who was Mike Huckabee's national campaign director in the 2008 campaign, is an experienced political operative with a well-earned reputation for his tough tactics and willingness to play hardball. He's probably best known for running the 1984 Reagan-Bush reelection campaign, which Reagan won in a landslide.
Rollins will run a campaign that already has a number of experienced advisors on board, including Brett O'Donnell, who advised George W. Bush and John McCain and is considered the best debate coach in politics. Bachmann also has brought on Bob Heckman, who is prominent in the conservative movement.
Sarah Palin is either running for President or she should be: That's the takeaway from "The Undefeated," a new movie about Palin's life and leadership set to hit theaters next month.
Billed as a documentary - though told in a fast-paced and dramatic style - the two-hour movie is an unabashed defense of the former Alaska governor that leaves the distinct impression her presidential candidacy not only is possible, but inevitable.
Stephen Bannon, the movie's creator, took on the project after Palin's aides approached him late last year about making a series of videos on Palin. He proposed a movie instead, and bankrolled it himself. The final product, which I saw last week in a screening for a few reporters, gives Palin the introduction she never really had when the Hockey mom from Wasilla became John McCain's running mate in 2008.Continue »
Mitt Romney's announcement today that he's forming an exploratory committee may have caught some by surprise, but the timing is all about -- you guessed it -- money.
With President Obama poised to raise record amounts, Romney's camp realized it needed to start tapping into his network of supporters and raising money now, in the second quarter (which started April 1). They want this time to raise the kind of money the campaign is going to require.
Watch Romney's video below:
It's worth taking a minute to stop and consider that this is coming from a President who, as a U.S. Senator, repeatedly blasted George Bush's detainee policies and referred to Guantanamo as a "legal black hole" that he said he'd close within a year of taking office. Today, he is in some ways preserving a system the Bush Administration created.
Senior administration officials this afternoon were going to great lengths to say these are NEW and IMPROVED policies that both protect national security and preserve American "values." And they do provide more protections for detainees. But the changes really are just tinkering with the margins of the system that Bush set up.Continue »
Justice Samuel Alito was the sole dissenter in Wednesday's Supreme Court decision to protect the right of the Westboro Baptist Church to hold inflammatory, anti-gay protests outside of funerals, insisting the funeral protests did not deserve constitutional protection.
"Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case," Alito wrote in his dissent.High court rules for military funeral protesters
The Westboro Baptist Church, an anti-gay fundamentalist group led by Rev. Fred Phelps, habitually protests high-profile events as a means to publicize its view that U.S. deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are God's punishment for American "immorality" - particularly in regard to national tolerance of homosexuality.
The church is best known for protesting the funerals of military servicemen, and famously carries signs with such sayings as "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" and "Fags Doom Nations." (It has also, however, picketed such events as theater productions and high school graduations.)
The father of Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq in 2006 and whose funeral was protested by Westboro Baptist Church, sued the group in 2006 and won $11 million in damages. (The figure was later reduced to $5 million by a judge.) But in the 8-1 ruling on Wednesday, the Court said the church could not be held liable for inflicting emotional distress on the families of deceased soldiers.
The justices said the speech was protected because the protests were on a matter of public concern, on public property and conducted in a peaceful manner.
"Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and--as it did here--inflict great pain," Chief Justice Roberts wrote in the decision. "On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker. As a Nation, we have chosen a different course--to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate."
Alito noted in his dissent, however, that the father of the soldier was not a public figure, but "simply a parent" who wanted to "bury his son in peace."
Alito said the father suffered "severe and lasting emotional injury" as a result of the church's "malevolent verbal attack."
He added that such vicious verbal attacks that make "no contribution to public debate" are not protected when they inflict "severe emotional injury on private persons at a time of intense emotional sensitivity."
The massive, ongoing sweep of suspected Mexican drug cartel members in the United States, Latin America and Central America is a direct and calculated response to last week's killing of a U.S. law enforcement agent in Mexico.
Named "Operation Fallen Hero" or "Operation Bombardier," the sweep involves every federal law enforcement agency, as well as state and local agencies in all 50 states. And it started in the hours following Tuesday's funeral of Customs and Immigration Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata.
"We're sending a message. We're showing all the cartels that you're not going to bully us. You're not going to push us around. You're not going to murder or harm or pose a threat to a U.S. law enforcement officer," said Carl Pike the assistant special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Agency's special operations division. "We're saying, 'we know who you are. We are coming after you, and we will continue to come after you.'"
In the past two days, officers have arrested more than 200 people and seized more than $6 million, in addition to cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine and more than 100 weapons, Pike said. Most of the arrests were of suspects who had been monitored in ongoing criminal investigations, and Pike said he expects many more as the raids continue through tomorrow and possibly through the weekend.
Pike said there was something like a "school yard mentality" to the ongoing raids.Continue »
Aside from the Big Deal that DOJ no longer will defend a federal law (which historically has hardly ever happened) there's perhaps an even Bigger Deal in today's announcement that President Obama has decided the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.
In reaching that conclusion, the President and Justice Department have concluded that laws treating gays and straight people differently must get closer scrutiny from the courts--and should be upheld only if there is a very good reason for them. That's a tougher legal standard than the courts typically have used in evaluating discriminatory laws against gays and lesbians.Continue »
The highly unusual move hands gay rights advocates a major victory they have worked years to secure--but is also certain to provoke intense controversy and trigger a heated political battle with Congressional Republicans, who support the law and have refused to repeal it.
The Justice Department is tasked with defending laws passed by Congress--even those laws the sitting President may not like or have supported. Only a few times in history has a President decided his Justice Department will not defend an existing federal law. In those rare circumstances, the House of Representatives can step in and have its lawyers defend the law in court.Obama administration will no longer defend DOMA
Gay Rights Groups Angered by Justice Department's DOMA Defense
President Obama decided the Justice Department no longer would defend DOMA after concluding the law was unconstitutional, administration officials said. Attorney General Eric Holder notified House Speaker John Boehner of the President's decision in a letter today, explaining that the administration believed the law violated equal protection principles, because it treats gays and lesbians differently than heterosexual couples. The government, he said, has no compelling reason for doing that.
"This is a rare case where the proper course is to forgo the defense of this statute," Holder said in the letter.
But the decision represents an about-face for the administration, which for two years had defended the statute against legal challenges by same-sex married couples. Holder said two new lawsuits had prompted the President and the Justice Department to "conduct a new examination" of the law, which blocks entitlement of federal benefits even in states where gays and lesbians have a right to marry.Continue »