The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By David Lightman, McClatchy Washington Bureau (TNS)

WASHINGTON — Rick Santorum, touting himself as the candidate of the blue-collar, family-oriented Republican, launched another presidential bid Wednesday, but this time he’s got a lot more than Mitt Romney to overcome.

Speaking to supporters in Cabot, Pennsylvania, near the town where he grew up, Santorum portrayed himself as a champion of working-class people.

“Working families don’t need another president tied to big government or big money,” the former U.S. senator said, “and today is the day we’re going to begin to fight back.”

He faces a rough political road, though.

“Santorum over-performed in 2012, but he did it against a much weaker field and, let’s face it: He did not get particularly close to winning the nomination,” said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia.

Still, don’t count the former senator from Pennsylvania out, said David Bossie, president of Citizens United, a conservative advocacy group.
“He has a difficult path, but he has a lot of residual good will in Iowa,” Bossie said.

Santorum spoke Wednesday near his boyhood home of Butler, Pennsylvania, 35 miles north of Pittsburgh. He cited his grandfather, who came to the United States from Italy, escaping the fascist government.

Santorum held up a lump of coal, symbolic of his immigrant grandfather, who labored in the mines. “This is where my American story started,” he said.

The newly announced candidate pushed a family-friendly agenda — he and his wife, Karen, have had eight children — and made a pitch for the blue-collar vote. He often urges reinvigorating America’s manufacturing base, for so long the economic lifeblood of the heavy industrial region where he grew up.

“Their priorities are profits and power,” he said of the powerful. “My priority is you, the American worker.”

Santorum urged adoption of a flat tax and an education system “customized to maximize” a student’s potential. He urged driving a stake through the heart of Common Core, a set of educational standards often opposed by conservatives.

He didn’t specifically criticize his own party, but he has in the past. “Do Republicans really care less about the person at the bottom of the ladder than Democrats do? To be painfully honest, I would have to say in some ways ‘yes,'” he wrote last year in his book, “Blue Collar Conservatives: Recommitting to an American That Works.”

“There are some in my party who have taken the ideal of individualism to such an extreme that they have forgotten the obligation to look out for our fellow man,” he wrote.

Santorum on Wednesday reiterated his unabashedly conservative views on social issues, noting that he believes every life matters.

Santorum emerged in 2012 as the favorite of hardcore conservatives. He won the first-in-the-nation caucus in Iowa that year, but not until it was too late. Romney, the eventual Republican nominee, was declared the winner by eight votes after the caucuses ended, but when official results were announced 16 days later, Santorum had won by 34 votes.

It was too late to gain any momentum, and Santorum had other troubles. He couldn’t match Romney’s money and organization, and he was seen by centrists as too far right to win against Barack Obama.

“I know what it’s like to be the underdog,” he told his supporters Wednesday.

(c)2015 McClatchy Washington Bureau, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Screenshot: Washington Post/YouTube

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Former President Donald Trump, left, and former White House counsel Pat Cipollone

On Wednesday evening the House Select Committee investigating the Trump coup plot issued a subpoena to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, following blockbuster testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who said the lawyer had warned of potential criminal activity by former President Donald Trump and his aides.

The committee summons to Cipollone followed long negotiations over his possible appearance and increasing pressure on him to come forward as Hutchinson did. Committee members expect the former counsel’s testimony to advance their investigation, owing to his knowledge of the former president's actions before, during and after the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Keep reading... Show less

Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}