POLITICS: PennAve

John McCain adviser regrets starting Sarah Palin 'freak show'

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Politics,Senate,Republican Party,Mitch McConnell,Campaigns,PennAve,John McCain,Sarah Palin

The political operative who brought former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin onto the national political stage as Sen. John McCain's 2008 vice presidential running mate now says he has “deep regret” about doing creating the “freak show that's been running wild for four years” in the Republican Party.

Steve Schmidt was running McCain's presidential race when he helped convince the GOP nominee that bringing in a fresh, conservative face like Palin would be a game changer in a race being dominated by Democrat Barack Obama. The results proved disastrous for McCain.

Palin became a leader of what Schmidt called an “asininity” wing of the Republican Party, hardcore conservatives looking to purge the party of moderates and anyone willing to compromise with Democrats.

“For the last couple of years, we’ve had this wing of the party running roughshod over the rest of the party,” Schmidt said on MSNBC. “Tossing out terms like RINO, saying we’re going to purge, you know, the moderates out of the party.

“We’ve lost five U.S. Senate seats over the last two election cycles,” he said. “And fundamentally we need Republicans, whether they’re running for president, whether they’re in the leadership of the Congress, to stand up against a lot of this asininity.”

 

CONSERVATIES HIT MITCH FOR 'ULTIMATE BETRAYAL'

The fight over the defunding of Obamacare shattered any sense of unity within the Republican Party on Capitol Hill. And it’s spreading to the campaign trail.

As soon as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, announced that they wouldn't back defunding the health care law if it risked a government shutdown, an outside conservative group, the Senate Conservatives Fund, went on the attack, calling it “the ultimate betrayal.”

"Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn have surrendered to Barack Obama, Harry Reid and the Democrats," the message read. "More importantly, they have surrendered to Obamacare — the biggest job killer in America."

At the instigation of outside groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund, House Republicans passed a budget bill that would fund the government and avoid an Oct. 1 shutdown, but included with the measure a provision that would defund Obamacare. If Obamacare wasn’t defunded, the government would be shuttered at the end of the fiscal year.

McConnell and other GOP leaders have opposed the defund-or-shutdown strategy almost from the start, saying that eliminating money for the implementation of President Obama’s health care law from the temporary budget bill would do nothing to stop the new health care rules from taking effect in January.

The leaders also pointed to numerous polls that showed that voters would blame Republicans, not Obama, for a shutdown and that the GOP could pay a price for that in the 2014 mid-term elections.

Conservative groups are targeting McConnell in particular in the upcoming elections and have mounted a Republican primary challenge to him.

 

NEWT TORPEDOES PLANS TO DRAFT HIM FOR SENATE

Former House Speaker and Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said he has no interest in running for office in his adopted home state of Virginia.

A group calling itself the Draft Newt PAC gathered more than 10,000 voter signatures on a petition urging Gingrich to run against Democratic Sen. Mark Warner in 2014.

But Gingrich says he’s definitely not interested in running for the Senate — now or ever — particularly since starting a new gig as a co-host of the CNN political talk show “Crossfire.”

Gingrich’s lawyer, Stefan Passantino of McKenna Long & Aldridge wrote a cease and desist letter to the group — founded by a former Newt organizer in New Hampshire — informing members that Gingrich “is not running for United States Senate and will not run for Senate at any time in the future.”

“We hereby demand that you cease and desist from the unauthorized use of Speaker Gingrich’s name or likeness and that you further cease and desist from any activity implying or insinuating that your group is in any way authorized by, or affiliated with, Speaker Gingrich or his organizations,” Passantino wrote.

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