A Politicker examination of federal campaign finance disclosure reports submitted by Paul Ryan’s congressional campaign has uncovered indications Mr. Ryan may have improperly used funds raised for his re-election effort in Wisconsin for presidential campaign activities at the Republican National Convention in August. Mr. Ryan is simultaneously running for re-election in Wisconsin’s First Congressional District and on the GOP presidential ticket with Mitt Romney. At the RNC in Tampa, Mr. Ryan’s House campaign spent about $60,000. However, these convention expenses seem to go far beyond the scope of the activities and staff he had at the RNC for his bid to reclaim his House seat.
One prominent election law expert told us this is a “highly problematic” potential violation of Federal Election Commission regulations regarding candidates running for multiple federal offices. A spokesperson for Mr. Ryan’s opponent in Wisconsin’s First Congressional District described it as a possibly “troubling” element of “Paul Ryan’s overarching pattern of dishonesty in this race.” When we reached out to Mr. Ryan’s congressional campaign manager, we received a shifting series of explanations including at least one statement that was clearly untrue.
After a new poll out today from Gallup and USA Today showed Mitt Romney pulling ahead of President Barack Obama by strengthening his standing with likely female voters in key swing states, the Obama campaign fired back by releasing a memo written by Josh Benenson of the Benenson Strategy Group consulting firm criticizing “deep flaws in Gallup’s likely voter screen.” Tim Miller, deputy communications director at the Republican National Committee, told Politicker the Obama campaign’s memo shows they are “panicked” with battleground state polls tightening in the wake of President Obama’s widely panned performance in the first presidential debate.
“Since the president’s disastrous debate performance, the panicked Obama campaign’s message has vacillated from Big Bird to false character attacks on Mitt Romney to now nitpicking the crosstabs of bad polls,” Mr. Miller said. “Litigating polls won’t help the president fix his two central problems: he can’t defend his economic record and he has offered no plan for getting people back to work in a 2nd term.”
This morning, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus held a press conference call to discuss Vice President Joe Biden’s comment that middle-class Americans have been “buried the last four years.” He also talked about his view that, despite poor poll numbers in the swing states, Mitt Romney has a path to winning the 270 electoral college votes necessary to defeat President Barack Obama, and he gave the RNC’s take on footage of an old speech by the president that resurfaced on conservative media outlets last night.
Mr. Priebus said he agreed with Vice President Biden that the middle class has been “buried” during the first four years of the Obama administration.
“Obama and Biden have buried the middle class, and now they want to bury them some more,” said Mr. Priebus. “I mean, just imagine what Barack Obama would do. He buried us economically in this country knowing that he would have to face re-election. Just imagine what he would do with nothing but daylight in front of him. Just imagine where this economy would go.”
CHARLOTTE, NC — Though the GOP made sure to showcase a diverse group of speakers at the Republican National Convention last week, Democrats have boasted their confab in Charlotte was far more diverse than the Republicans’ confab. Rather than take those claims at face value, we reached out to both parties to see how many minority delegates attended each of the conventions.
Tuesday Night Fever
CHARLOTTE, NC — First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to the African American Caucus at the Democratic National Convention this morning. Prior to Ms. Obama’s speech, the audience heard from Democratic National Committee Vice Chair Donna Brazile and Virgie Rollins, chairwoman of the Black Caucus. The two women mocked the absence of racial diversity and dance skills they saw on display at last week’s Republican National Convention in Tampa.
“The other side, when you saw their African American delegates, they were a little bit lacking weren’t they?” Ms. Rollins said after noting that this year’s Democratic convention is hosting the largest delegation in the history of the Black Caucus.
TAMPA, FL — It’s fitting that one of the most enduring images of the 2012 Republican National Convention was Clint Eastwood’s empty chair, since the main purpose of the confab was crowning Mitt Romney as the titular leader of the party, finally filling the seat of GOP power that has remained more or less vacant since John McCain was vanquished by President Barack Obama four years ago.
As the saying goes, when you play the game of thrones, you either win or you die. After his defeat in 2008, Mr. McCain didn’t even bother joining the primary combatants vying to lead the elephant herd into battle against President Obama in this year’s race. His second, Sarah Palin, didn’t have a place in the primaries or at the convention in Tampa. Instead, she was banished to her Facebook page, where she railed against her overlords at Fox News for canceling all of her scheduled appearances, in which she’d hoped to take to the airwaves in praise of Mr. McCain on the night of his RNC cameo.
Like any coronation, last week’s convention was supposed to be a time for Mr. Romney’s fellow Republicans to rally around him and march into combat by his side. However, the ascent of the House of Romney was accomplished without the blessing of the conservative and libertarian factions of the party. As a result, Tampa became a theater for the sorts of behind-the-scenes drama, intrigue and power plays that so often accompany these matters of dynastic succession. Though ostensibly acting as standard bearers for Mr. Romney, the other lords of the GOP seemed to be more interested in plotting their own ascendancies four years from now than in following Mitt into battle against President Obama.
TAMPA, FL — Mitt Romney is currently on stage at the Republican National Convention. During his speech, a group of protesters attempted to interrupt the proceedings by shouting from the seats above the convention floor. Audience members drowned them out with chants of, “USA! USA! USA!”
Politicker was unable to hear the protesters from our spot on the convention floor, but, according to journalist Andrew Coyne, they were waving pink banners and shouting, “People over profits!” The protesters were quickly removed by security personnel. Dan Libit of the Daily said the protesters were affiliated with the activist group Code Pink, which staged a similar interruption during Paul Ryan’s speech yesterday.
TAMPA, FL — Billionaire Republican megadonor David Koch, who, along with his brother, Charles, is pumping an estimated $400 million into this presidential campaign, talked to Politicker about the controversial level of influence major contributors have on American elections in an interview on the floor of the Republican National Convention a few moments ago.
“We have a free society and people are free to do what they want, you know, as long as they don’t hurt others and they obey the law,” Mr. Koch said. “So, I believe in free speech and if people want to spend money in politics or something else, it’s their right, nothing wrong with that. So, I endorse that.”
TAMPA, FL – Sarah Palin took to Facebook yesterday to accuse Fox News of canceling all of her scheduled appearances on the network during the Republican National Convention, but CNN host Piers Morgan said he’d be glad to have her on his show during the RNC festivities. However, Mr. Morgan said Ms. Palin, who has a contract with Fox News through January, has yet to take him up on his invitation.
“I’m serious, if she’s fallen out with Fox, I’d love to get her on. It’s the one reason we haven’t had her since I’ve been on air, because of her contract with Fox,” Mr. Morgan told Politicker at the CNN Grill at the RNC last night. “Clearly, if she’s had an issue with them and can now do us, I’d love to interview her.”
TAMPA, Fla. — If outspoken actor Alec Baldwin runs for mayor in New York, his little brother, Bio-Dome star Stephen Baldwin, would vote for him. However, the younger Baldwin sounded decidedly unenthusiastic about the prospect of his sibling in City Hall when we asked him about it outside the CNN Grill at the Republican National Convention yesterday.
“I really wouldn’t have much of a choice. Would I? Being a New York resident and he’s big bro, so yeah, he gets my vote,” Stephen said.
Stephen Baldwin is a self-proclaimed “Jesus freak evangelical charismatic born again conservative independent,” with far different political views than his notoriously liberal brother. Because of this, Stephen initially suggested he might run against his brother when word got out that the elder Baldwin was considering running for mayor.