Pence's Sunday blunder

by Dan Curry

Governor Mike Pence of Indiana made a big mistake Sunday on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. He went on the show to clear up confusion over his state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act and walked face forward into a liberal buzzsaw.

Pence made a mistake conservative politicians often make — they believe common sense and the truth will win out in such an interview. How many times will conservatives watch liberal hosts like Stephanopoulos act as agents of the Democratic Party before it will sink in?

Conservatives like Pence have to prepare for rhetorical battle against liberal hosts just as they would against an opponent in a debate. Pence came on the show and had some solid talking points but Stephanopoulos threw him off his game by insisting he answer whether the law could be used by business owners to not provide services to gays.

Pence's specific mistake was not war gaming questions like that beforehand, and not knowing the material better than Stephanopoulos. Conservatives only win in these circumstances if they know the subject better than the hosts and can throw them off their game. They must learn to play offense, not defense (See Ted Cruz).

Pence also erred by not calling Stephanopoulos out for carrying Democrats' water by repeating exactly all the distortive liberal talking points. Conservatives must make liberal journalists pay a price for their blatant liberal narrative pimping.

A few lines like this would have chilled George out:

  • George, if you had done your homework on RFRA you would understand that the rights of gays have never been impinged by these laws. So I don't know why you are obsessing over something that never has happened and won't happen under our law.

  • Again, George, the only questions you are asking me mirror exactly Democratic talking points, which are false and misleading. You and they are trying to promote a narrative that doesn't exist.

  • George, it is no surprise a few corporations are disturbed by this. LIberal journalists have presented such a false, misleading picture of our law that this was inevitable. We plan to talk to entities like Angie's List and give them the real facts, not the distorted liberal narratives being promoted by the news media.

If conservatives are going to go on shows like Stephanopoulos,' they better be prepared to do battle. If not, they should decline the invitation.

When NBC deep-sixed a Lisa Myers story about Hillary Clinton

by Dan Curry

Former NBC investigative reporter Lisa Myers is traveling the country saying that her network refused to air negative stories about many Democratic politicians in the last decade. One, regarding Hillary's Clinton's sleazy relationship with an Illinois company that sexually harassed nearly 100 women, was a story I helped her on.

Myers had the story ready for broadcast on NBC in 2008, but it never aired. Instead it was relegated to the MSNBC website. The story has disappeared from the MSNBC site, but exists on several other sites, including this one. She was frustrated at the time and never told me why, but it was obvious — her bosses didn't want to attack Hillary Clinton.

Myers' 2008 online story described the harassment.

Sen. Hillary Clinton has declined to return $170,000 in campaign contributions from individuals at a company accused of widespread sexual harassment, and whose CEO is a disbarred lawyer with a criminal record, federal campaign records show.

The federal government has accused the Illinois management consulting firm, International Profit Associates, or IPA, of a brazen pattern of sexual harassment including "sexual assaults," "degrading anti-female language" and "obscene suggestions."

In a 2001 lawsuit full of lurid details, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claims that 103 women employees at IPA were victimized for years. The civil case is ongoing, and IPA vigorously denies the allegations.

"This is by far, hands down, the worst case I've ever experienced," said Diane Smason, one of the EEOC lawyers handling the lawsuit. "Every woman there experienced sex harassment, they were part of a hostile work environment of sex harassment. And this occurred from the top down."

Hillary has been stonewalling this issue since a 2006 front page story in the New York Times outlined Bill and Hillary's close connection to IPA. She told the Times back then she'd consider returning the money. She never did. Then she told Myers in 2008 she'd consider returning the money once the EEOC's sexual harassment case against IPA was resolved. It is 2015, the case has long been resolved, and no money has been returned. Hillary still has the money earned by the company that made a practice of sexual assaulting and harassing dozens of women.

Dozens of politicians, including imprisoned ex-governor Rod Blagojevich and Barack Obama, long ago returned IPA money while Hillary stubbornly held it. (The company has since been reconstituted under another name).

Hillary no longer has the "pending lawsuit" excuse for not returning the money. In 2011, the federal EEOC finally defeated IPA in court with an $8 million consent decree awarded to 82 women, in what the government called the longest-running sexual harassment case in EEOC history.

Donna Brazile insists this time Hillary Clinton is going to champion women's issues in her repeat run for President. I wonder if Hlllary will talk about the women of IPA and why $170,000 in campaign contributions and a ride in a corporate jet was more important to her than standing up for them.

Rubio answer good but not perfect

by Dan Curry

Conservative pundits are saying Marco Rubio's answer to the Rudy Giuliani manufactured outrage of the week is "perfect." It was very good but not perfect.

In case you missed it this week, Democrats and their allies in the national media are doing what they always do — trying to punish Republicans for controversial statements of other Republicans.

I could see the journalistic justification if the same reporters required Democrats to respond to controversial statements by other Democrats. But journalists don't. Therefore the entire exercise is a partisan attack and should be treated as such by Republicans unless they want to be the news media's prey.

In cases like this, I advise conservative political figures to:

1) Deliver a sharp attack on Democrats in your answer. Make them pay a price for their partisanship.

2) Deliver a sharp attack on the media. Expose the question as a proxy for Democrats.

3) Don't answer the question directly. If you do #1 and #2, the news media is still going to cover the answer to their slanted question. Don't provide it.

Here's what Rubio said today in response:

I don’t feel like I’m in a position to have to answer for every person in my party that makes a claim. Democrats aren’t asked to answer every time Joe Biden says something embarrassing, so I don’t know why I should answer every time a Republican does. I’ll suffice it to say that I believe the President loves America; I think his ideas are bad.

Rubio followed #1 and #2 but not #3. His last sentence should have been something like: "I don't know what is in Barack Obama's heart, but I do know his ideas and policies are bad."

By tweaking his answer a little bit he would prevent liberal reporters from saying: "Rubio disagrees with Rudy's claim that Obama doesn't love America."

Certainly, from a tactical point of view, Rubio's answer was better than most others but it wasn't perfect.

How Hillary’s 2008 campaign committed one of the all-time blunders that gave us Barack Obama

by Dan Curry

Beltway pundits described Hillary Clinton’s campaign entering the 2008 race as a “dream team” consisting of veterans of Clinton presidential and Senate victories. It turns out what many consider the nightmare of a Barack Obama presidency only occurred because of that dream team’s epic incompetence.

We are speaking in particular about a monumental and preventable opposition research failure that has been ignored so far by the mainstream media and the books written by reporters and Democrats about the 2008 campaign.

It comes down to this: If Hillary’s campaign had unearthed and leaked the incendiary Rev. Jeremiah Wright sermon videos that rocked the political world in March 2008 just a few months earlier, it is highly unlikely that Obama would have won the primary. And those DVDs were easily obtainable, sitting in Wright’s church’s gift store.

When the videos of Wright’s sermons did emerge, Obama’s staffers and the political world realized they potentially could derail Obama’s candidacy. It is important, however, to understand the time context. Obama already had essentially won the nomination after more than 40 states had voted or caucused. Obama had a significant delegate lead over Hillary Clinton at that time, 1,893 to 1,617, according to the Washington Post, and only needed an additional 225 delegates to clinch the nomination. After the videos hit, Obama narrowly limped home to the nomination as Hillary outperformed him badly, 302-171 in delegates in the final three months.

The effect on Obama’s candidacy prior to the first contest, Jan. 3, 2008, in Iowa, or soon thereafter, would undoubtedly have been devastating and fatal to a largely undefined Barack Obama. It was clear at the time and in retrospect that Obama’s strategists were heavily banking on a win in Iowa to springboard their candidacy and in effect were placing an all-or-nothing bet on the table. Had Hillary won that contest with Obama a distant third, the pressure within the Democratic Party to coalesce around the “inevitable” Clinton would have rippled through the other early states and likely ensured her nomination.

Ask any Obama strategist today if they could have won the nomination without winning Iowa.

So, could Hillary’s campaign have found the videos and could it have injected them into the public arena? The answer to both questions is yes.

The controversy over Rev. Wright’s sermons was not a secret. It had emerged a year earlier in early 2007 when Rolling Stone went online with a story titled, “The Radical Roots of Barack Obama” just days before Obama’s candidacy launch announcement Feb. 10 in Springfield, IL. The story so rattled the Obama team that they pulled Wright from the speaking roster less than 24 hours before Obama’s Springfield event.

As Bernie Goldberg noted in his book, “A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (And Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media,” the Rolling Stone story should have triggered a flurry of mainstream media stories on Wright and Obama. Instead, the follow-up coverage was largely non-existent and apologetic.   However, in the opposition research world, the story should have prompted a full exploration of the available evidence of Obama-Wright ties and the top end of any research team’s goals are videos that most dramatically explain the political problem.

Obama’s top strategist David Axelrod admitted in his just released book, “Believer”, the Wright matter was important and said the campaign in early 2007 had assigned a researcher to dig up Obama-Wright material. Newsweek said the same thing in its staff-written 2009 book, “A Long Time Coming…” When the tapes finally did emerge, Axelrod said he went back to the researcher who said the assignment slipped through the cracks.

Fox News cable host Sean Hannity had been highlighting the Rev. Wright-Obama issue in 2007 but did not have the video and was basing his coverage off of an on-camera interview he had done with Wright that questioned the church’s black separatist’s philosophy. The real bombshell hit on March 13, 2008, when ABC News investigative reporter Brian Ross unveiled inflammatory excerpts from Wright’s sermons on Good Morning America. Fox News immediately began heavily highlighting the video on its shows for the next several days and the matter exploded into the news arena as the nation’s top political story. Axelrod, in his book, explained:

Two days after the Mississippi primary, however, the story went mainstream when Brian Ross, an investigative reporter for ABC News, ran the now infamous tape on Good Morning America. I was convinced it had been leaked to Ross by an opposing campaign. Later, Ross disclosed that, having been denied an interview with Reverend Wright, he was informed by the church that the DVDs of all Wright sermons were available for purchase. It was a good investment for ABC. The condensed reel Ross put together from the videos sent the political world into an immediate uproar.

Axelrod said had the campaign’s research team done its job, they would have removed the videos from public view like they did with many other records from Obama’s past.

If we had known about these jeremiads, we certainly would have encouraged the church to remove the tapes from their gift shop. We might even have encouraged the Obamas to remove themselves from the church. At the very least we would have been prepared for the onslaught we now faced.

So, Obama’s team failed by not finding the videos, but what about the Hillary dream team? Why didn’t it walk into the church, buy the videos, and drop them through a third party to Fox News to put the dagger to Obama’s candidacy? There is no answer to this question publicly that I have found. The answer must be that Hillary’s dream team was asleep at the switch and consequence is that she lost the nomination.

I wondered about this question since 2008, when I was told by a direct source that ABC had simply walked into Rev. Wright’s church to buy the sermons. As someone who has done opposition research in presidential and many other races, I was surprised. The best information usually isn’t that easy to find.

I wondered why authors of the supposed definitive 2008 campaign history, “Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime” by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, hadn’t noted this colossal screw-up that fit the title of their book perfectly.

Again, we are reading the smart analysts commenting on how formidable the Clinton campaign will be in 2016 — another dream team in the making. I wonder this time whether it will invest in an opposition research team that is resourceful enough to walk into a gift store of the bomb-throwing preacher of their opponent?