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Tag: frank luntz

McCarthy Skirted Ethics Rules To Rent Pollster’s Luxury Pad

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A watchdog group has filed an ethics complaint against House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, accusing him of lying about a luxury apartment he rented from a top Republican pollster. This comes as he works to remove the only woman on his leadership team for telling the truth about Donald Trump.

The Campaign for Accountability asked the Office of Congressional Ethics on Friday to investigate whether the California Republican broke House rules by renting a room in Frank Luntz's Washington, D.C., condominium at below-market rates — which could have been an illegal and unreported gift.

"House ethics rules are clear and Representative McCarthy is no neophyte. As leader of the House Republicans, he should be setting an example for his caucus, not trying to skirt the rules," Michelle Kuppersmith, the group's executive director, said in a press release. "If he violated the gift rule, he must be held accountable."

McCarthy's office did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

But McCarthy told Fox News last week that he had "rented a room from Frank for a couple of months" — an agreement that likely violated the property's bylaws, according to the Washington Post.

"Don't worry, I'm back to — going back to where I normally am, on my couch in my office. But, yes, we pay fair market rate," he claimed.

Last Tuesday, a McCarthy spokesperson told a right-wing outlet: "McCarthy rented a room of approximately 400 square feet, and under House Ethics guidelines, calculated the fair market amount at $1,500/month by comparing what other members of Congress were also paying to live in the building and additional comparables for the space in the building and neighborhood."

But Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler noted Tuesday that similar spaces in Luntz's building run between $1,675 and $2,300 a month and homeowners' association fees run nearly $5,000 a month, per unit — covering the costs of a roof-top pool, round the clock concierge, and other amenities. That apparent gap would constitute a gift from Luntz to McCarthy.

These ethics allegations come as McCarthy is leading the charge to removeHouse Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney from her post as the number-three House GOP official. Her crimes: She admitted that Trump lost the 2020 election and then worked to hold him accountable for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

McCarthy, who once also acknowledged Trump's culpability for the attacks but has since reverted to being a staunch defender of the twice-impeached one-termer, is mad that Cheney has not followed his lead.

"Having heard from so many of you in recent days, it's clear that we need to make a change. As such, you should anticipate a vote on recalling the Conference Chair this Wednesday," he told his caucus on Monday.

In the past, McCarthy has occasionally tried to present himself as a defender of congressional ethics.

In 2016, he called the House Ethics Committee chair position an "important role for this institution & our country."

Citing optics, he framed himself as an opponent of an effort to gut the outside Office of Congressional Ethics in 2017.

In February 2019, he said in a press release that "Members on the Ethics Committee are charged with guarding the institution of the House of Representatives."

He has also called out Democratic colleagues who he believed crossed ethical lines, often trying to boot them from powerful positions.

Though he had not been accused of any wrongdoing, McCarthy unsuccessfully tried to remove Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) from his seat of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in March, vaguely citing classified information about Swalwell's ties to an alleged Chinese spy.

Since the 2019 impeachment inquiry, he also has repeatedly demanded Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) lose his chairmanship of the intelligence panel and called for him to be censured for accurately describing Trump's call with the Ukrainian president.

McCarthy has, thus far, not stepped aside from his position.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

GOP Pollster Luntz Stunned By ‘Big’ Public Opinion Shift On Race

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Prominent Republican pollster Frank Luntz has been floored by the apparently massive influence of the Black Lives Mattter movement in recent years and weeks. Following the killing of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, protests across the country have sprung up demanding justice and an end to racism.

In the wake of these protests, which were accompanied by some rioting, looting, and extensive police violence, some believed President Donald Trump could reap the benefits of chaos. But despite these predictions, the unrest seems to have rallied support for the protesters' cause.

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Luntz Focus Group Focuses On Sanders After Fox’s Democratic Town Hall

Following yesterday’s Fox News Democratic Town Hall, Republican pollster Frank Luntz gathered a group of Michigan Democrats to give their feedback on the two candidates, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. It’s weird enough that the Republican establishment has been rooting for Sanders in the 2016 nomination race, but the candidate answers Luntz highlighted may be further evidence of a bias towards the Vermont senator.

Broadcast as a short segment on The Kelly File, supporters of both Clinton and Sanders gave well reasoned answers for supporting the candidates. But the focus was clearly on Sanders from the start. The segment gave time for just a single reaction from both of the candidates, on one issue each. The focus group first watched Sanders’s response on universal healthcare.

“I believe that healthcare is a right of all people. I believe that there is something wrong when we’re spending…” said Sanders, before being cut off by Baier.

“Excuse me, where did that right come from, in your mind?” said Baier.

“From being a human being,” Sanders replied bluntly.

The response was well received by the focus group. “Bernie has got the human touch,” said one female attendee. “As much as I want to believe Hillary, every time she speaks, it’s like ‘Yes, Hillary, you’re qualified,’ but you’re also lacking that empathy that Bernie followers feel when he speaks.”

In Clinton’s case, the focus group — surprise — was prompted to discuss her ongoing email scandal, a campaign led for months by Fox News and the Republican Party. Being Democratic voters, none of them were interested in pursuing what has been solely a Republican obsession.

The segment included positive reactions to Clinton’s campaign as well — respondents appreciated Clinton’s willingness to work and compromise with Republicans and the level-headedness of her platform.

But given the sole focus of her performance was the email scandal, it revealed the right’s obsession with preventing her from getting the Democratic nomination, yet again.

Donald Trump Vs. The Entire World

With his derogatory comments about Senator John McCain’s (R-AZ) time as a prisoner of war, Donald Trump now has the entire political establishment basically calling for his head on a stick — which might just be where he really wants them.

You see, Donald Trump’s campaign strategy is to pitch him as the one man who’s taking on the entrenched politicians. It’s what’s helped him surge to first place in the new ABC News/Washington Post poll with 24 percent of Republican voters, nearly double the numbers of Scott Walker (13 percent) and Jeb Bush (12 percent).

And now he has every politician openly denouncing him as a disgrace. His latest move is a tricky gambit indeed, and even the Post’s analysis is uncertain of what’s going to happen next.

McCain himself appeared Monday on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and gave a clever response as to whether Trump personally owed him an apology.

“No, I don’t think so,” he said. “But I think he may owe an apology to the families of those who have sacrificed in conflict and those who have undergone the prison experience in serving their country.”

The senator spoke of the men who suffered alongside him in captivity: “A great honor of my life was to serve in the company of heroes — I’m not a hero.”

McCain also put a lighthearted gloss on having called Trump supporters “crazies,” calling it a “term of endearment.”

Meanwhile, The Donald appeared on the Today show to say that the media was falsely manipulating what he had said — to which Matt Lauer responded by simply reading Trump’s actual words back to him.

It all started last week, when McCain complained that a rally Trump held in Phoenix really “fired up the crazies.” In response, Trump lashed out at McCain on Twitter, calling for the 2008 Republican presidential nominee to be defeated in the primary for his Senate seat next year.

And notably, Trump invoked McCain’s military service — and badmouthed his performance at the Naval Academy: “Graduated last in his class at Annapolis – dummy!”

Trump kept up the McCain bashing on Saturday. “I supported him for president. I raised a million dollars for him — that’s a lot of money,” Trump said at the right-wing Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa. “I supported him, he lost — he let us down. But you know, he lost — so I never liked him as much after that, because I don’t like losers.”

The conservative activist audience was laughing at Trump’s roasting of McCain. But then the event’s moderator, GOP spin doctor Frank Luntz, called McCain “a war hero.”

“He’s not a war hero,” Trump fired back petulantly. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, okay? I hate to tell to you.”

(While speaking to reporters afterward, Trump did clarify just a bit: “If a person is captured, they are a hero as far as I’m concerned.”)

The Republican National Committee, which in theory is supposed to be a neutral referee of the presidential race, took the extraordinary step of releasing a statement by spokesman Sean Spicer:

Senator McCain is an American hero because he served his country and sacrificed more than most can imagine. Period. There is no place in our party or our country for comments that disparage those who have served honorably.

Almost immediately, nearly all the other Republican candidates pounced on this, and declared their respect for McCain’s war service. But probably the toughest of all was Rick Perry, who for some time has taken the lead role in attacking The Donald. On Saturday, released this statement (with underlining in the original) — calling upon Trump to drop out:

Donald Trump should apologize immediately for attacking Senator McCain and all veterans who have protected and served our country. As a veteran and an American, I respect Sen. McCain because he volunteered to serve his country. I cannot say the same of Mr. Trump. His comments have reached a new low in American politics. His attack on veterans make him unfit to be Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, and he should immediately withdraw from the race for President.

But notably, one other Republican candidate has not bashed Trump: Ted Cruz

“You want me to say something bad about Donald Trump, or bad about John McCain, or bad about anyone else — I’m not going to do it,” Cruz said. “JM is a friend of mine, I respect and admire him, and he’s an American hero. And DT is a friend of mine. The rest of it — you can throw rocks at Republican candidates, I’m not going to engage in that process.”

Ted Cruz is also the same man who previously defended Trump’s candidacy after NBC fired him from the Apprentice TV franchise in the wake of his comments about Mexican immigrants.

“When it comes to Donald Trump, I like Donald Trump. I think he’s terrific. I think he’s brash. I think he speaks the truth,” Cruz said three weeks ago. “And I think NBC is engaging in political correctness that is silly and that is wrong.”

The takeaway from this should be obvious: When Donald Trump eventually crashes out, Ted Cruz wants to be there to welcome his supporters.

Also on Saturday, the Republican Party’s previous nominee for president chimed in to praise the nominee who came before him — and condemn a man aspiring to be the next one:

Trump responded right back on Twitter to Romney — and to McCain.

On Sunday, Trump was interviewed by Martha Raddatz on This Week, where he continued to lay into McCain on the issues of veterans’ care and immigration — and also continued his praise of those soldiers who aren’t captured.

“People that fought hard and weren’t captured and went through a lot, they get no credit,” Trump said. “Nobody even talks about them. They’re like forgotten, and I think that’s a shame, if you want to know the truth.”

Trump also added: “I want to give them credit, because frankly they don’t get the credit. John McCain gets credit — he was elected a senator, et cetera, et cetera, and we give him all the credit.”

Trump then wrote a guest op-ed piece in USA Today, completely digging into McCain on veterans’ care, immigration, Iraq, Iran — and on the particularly sore point of losing the 2008 presidential election to Barack Obama.

Thanks to McCain and his Senate colleague Bernie Sanders, their legislation to cover up the VA scandal, in which 1,000+ veterans died waiting for medical care, made sure no one has been punished, charged, jailed, fined or held responsible. McCain has abandoned our veterans. I will fight for them.

The reality is that John McCain the politician has made America less safe, sent our brave soldiers into wrong-headed foreign adventures, covered up for President Obama with the VA scandal and has spent most of his time in the Senate pushing amnesty. He would rather protect the Iraqi border than Arizona’s. He even voted for the Iran Nuclear Review Act of 2015, which allows Obama, who McCain lost to in a record defeat, to push his dangerous Iran nuclear agreement through the Senate without a supermajority of votes.

And as an extra bonus: The perennially wrong (but somehow influential) neoconservative maven Bill Kristol, who had previously been defending Trump’s candidacy against the media backlash, finally had to say on Sunday that he was “finished” with the man, asserting: “He’s dead to me.”

Ah, but the reality of Bill Kristol getting everything wrong — that one still lives on.

Photo: Businessman and Republican candidate for president Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a campaign event in Laconia, New Hampshire, July 16, 2015. (REUTERS/Dominick Reuter)

Trump Dismisses McCain’s War Record, Angers Fellow Republicans

By John Whitesides

AMES, Iowa (Reuters) – Republican presidential contender Donald Trump disparaged U.S. Senator John McCain’s war record on Saturday, saying the former prisoner in North Vietnam was only considered a war hero because he was captured.

The confrontational real estate mogul, who has been feuding with the Republican senator from Arizona for days, also criticized McCain’s work in the Senate and called him “a loser” for his defeat in the 2008 White House race.

“He’s not a war hero,” Trump said at a gathering in Ames, Iowa, of religious conservatives after the event’s moderator, pollster Frank Luntz, used the phrase to describe McCain. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

At a news conference later, Trump softened his comments, saying, “If a person is captured, they are a hero as far as I’m concerned.”

McCain, a Navy fighter pilot, spent more than five years during the Vietnam War in a Hanoi prison after being shot down, and was tortured by his captors.

Trump also criticized McCain for failing to do enough in the Senate for military veterans.

“John McCain talks a lot, but he doesn’t do anything,” Trump told reporters.

His comments drew swift denunciations from many rival Republican presidential contenders and became the latest in a series of controversies to engulf the publicity-loving billionaire since he jumped into the race with harsh rhetoric about Mexican immigrants.

The comments also were certain to remind party leaders, already nervous about Trump’s recent rise to the top of opinion polls, about his unpredictability ahead of the first Republican debate in early August.

The harsh reaction seemed to indicate that many Republicans had lost patience with Trump.

“There is no place in our party or our country for comments that disparage those who have served honorably,” said Sean Spicer, chief strategist for the Republican National Committee.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said on the campaign trail in Sioux City, Iowa, that McCain was clearly a hero. “Enough with the slanderous attacks,” former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said on Twitter.

“Donald Trump owes every American veteran, and in particular John McCain, an apology,” said former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who said Trump’s comments called into question his legitimacy as a potential president and commander in chief.

In a statement released after his appearance, Trump said he was “not a fan” of McCain and added: “I have great respect for all those who serve in our military, including those that weren’t captured and are also heroes.”

But Trump said at the news conference he would not apologize to McCain. McCain did not immediately respond to Trump.

Trump told reporters he used student deferments and later a medical deferment for what he said was a bone spur to avoid military service during the Vietnam War.

“I was not a big fan of the Vietnam War,” he said.

He made the McCain comments during the summit sponsored by Christian conservative groups. Iowa is the first state to vote in the nominating contests leading up to the November 2016 election.

Luntz, the event’s moderator, launched the discussion when he questioned Trump’s recent criticism of McCain as a “dummy,” which came after the senator said Trump’s candidacy had brought out the “crazies.”

“I supported McCain for president,” Trump said of the Arizonan’s 2008 run. “He lost and let us down. … I’ve never liked him as much after that. I don’t like losers.”

(Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Photo: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump signs autographs for supporters at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, United States, July 18, 2015. (REUTERS/Jim Young)