Without question, Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition provided the biggest Republican presidential playground over the weekend.
No major gaffes appeared to have been committed, but there was some dispute over who gained the most from Reed’s fusion of Christian and tea party elements. The Los Angeles Times picked Michele Bachmann as its winner:
Bachmann, expected to announce her presidential intentions this month in Iowa, repeatedly brought the crowd out of its chairs with a blend of red-meat rhetoric and autobiographical detail. She attacked Planned Parenthood as a “corrupt organization,” swore a tireless commitment to repeal of “Obamacare,” deplored what she claimed was Obama’s “shocking” betrayal of Israel, and finished up, eyes closed, with a two-minute prayer.
The Washington Times preferred Herman Cain:
Only Mr. Cain, a former corporate executive and the sole black 2012 nomination contender, set afire the audience of several hundred political operatives, activists and consultants, most of them religious and social conservatives clearly dedicated both to defeating President Obama and to supporting Israel….
But the same newspaper noted that The Donald is still making trouble:
In a separate interview, however, Mr. Trump said he would run as an independent if the GOP nominates “someone I don’t agree with” – a threat not exactly in keeping with the “unity” theme sounded by Mr. Reed, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and virtually every other speaker.
At last year’s Faith and Freedom Coalition meeting, U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Coweta County, went off-message and told Reed’s crowd to be prepared for a shutdown of the federal government.
This year, the s-word was missing from Westmoreland’s speech. But the message was the same. From Politico.com:
Republican fiscal proposals can seem extreme, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) said Friday, but those so-called “extreme” measures are exactly what America needs right now.
“Sometimes the truth is ugly. Sometimes people don’t like to hear the truth,” said Westmoreland told a crowd at the Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington. “We said we’re going to tell the truth, and that’s what we’ve been doing to the American people: We’ve been trying to tell them the truth about our financial situation and what extremes or what — and I don’t know that ‘extremes’ is a good word — but what is going to have to be done to straighten that out.”
“It’s going to take some courage, and we now have that courage in Washington to do what we need to do,” he added.
The most obvious absence from the weekend gathering was former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich, who had scheduled some time off. Reed told ABC News that he wasn’t bothered:
“Newt was the only one of all these candidates who was here last year, so I don’t want to say anybody gets a pass,” Reed [said]. “Newt was at the first conference and he’s a dear friend. He would’ve been here if he could’ve been.”
The Nation – as well as many other publications – pointed to the weekend gathering as a sign that Reed’s exile from national politics has ended:
In short, almost every appendage of the Republican political body was present. It was an enormous coup for Reed, officially announcing his return to the political forefront—something many thought impossible. They were not sufficiently cynical about Washington’s short memory.
William Lind, director of the American Conservative Center for Public Transportation based in Arlington, Va., says next year’s timing of a metro area vote on a transportation sales tax could be improved. From Maria Saporta and the Saporta Report:
Lind …advised metro Atlanta leaders the referendum would have the best chance to pass if it were held during the general election in November rather than as it’s currently scheduled — the July 31 primary election.
“Try to get that changed,” Lind said. “The urban base is not going to turn out for the primary. If you possibly can change the date, do it.”
It is expected that the most contested July primaries will be in the suburbs in Republican district. Those constituencies tend to be anti-tax and anti-transit.
Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black has asked farmers to complete a voluntary survey to figure out the depth of the labor shortage that agribusiness says has resulted from the state’s new illegal immigration law.
The Associated Press says Black will hand the information to Gov. Nathan Deal by the end of this week. An early word from Bryan Tolar, executive director of the Georgia Agribusiness Council:
Tolar said 97 companies from across the state — just more than a third of them representing urban agriculture, such as landscaping — had responded to the survey between Wednesday and Friday. Only about a quarter said they have been able to hire the number of workers they needed so far this year. Nearly half said they were having trouble finding labor.
Almost all of them, 92 percent, said they don’t use a federal guest worker program that allows the agriculture sector to bring in seasonal workers. The program has often been criticized by the industry as being cumbersome and expensive.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider