Tag Archives: commander in chief

Rubio campaign reeling after sharp attacks during last Republican debate

Marco Rubio faced withering criticism of his readiness to be president and his policy depth in the last Republican debate before tomorrow’s New Hampshire primary, as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and other candidates launched an aggressive campaign to slow the Florida senator’s rise.

Rubio’s responded with an uneven performance on Saturday night that could hurt his bid to emerge as an alternative to Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. If anything, his showing gave new hope to Christie, Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, all of whom need strong finishes in New Hampshire to keep their White House bids afloat.

Cruz, the Iowa caucuses winner, also took criticism at the debate for controversial political tactics, with one candidate disparaging him for having “Washington ethics” and being willing to test the campaign’s legal limits.

New Hampshire’s primary could further winnow an already shrinking GOP field or leave the primary muddled. Hard-fought, expensive and far-ranging, the campaign has become a fight for the future of the Republican Party, though the direction the GOP will ultimately take remains deeply uncertain.

Rubio, a first-term senator from Florida, has sought to appeal both to mainstream Republicans and those eager to upend the status quo. But his rivals, particularly Christie, have been blistering in their criticism of what they see as his slim qualifications to serve as commander-in-chief.

“You have not been involved in a consequential decision where you had to be held accountable,” Christie said. “You just simply haven’t.”

Christie has built his closing argument around his criticism of Rubio, and he kept up that approach on the debate stage. He accused the senator of being a candidate governed by talking points — then pounced when the senator played into his hands by repeating multiple times what appeared to be a planned response to criticisms about his qualifications.

“That’s what Washington D.C. does,” Christie said. “The drive-by shot at the beginning with incorrect and incomplete information and then the memorized 25-second speech that is exactly what his advisers gave him.”

Rubio wavered in defending his decision to walk away from the sweeping immigration bill he originally backed in the Senate — perhaps the legislation he’s most closely associated with — and said he wouldn’t pursue similar legislation as president.

“We can’t get that legislation passed,” Rubio said of the bill that would have provided a pathway to citizenship for millions of people in the United States illegally. The senator found his footing later in the debate when outlining his call for more aggressive action to fight the Islamic State and emphasizing his anti-abortion stance.

Cruz was the victor in Iowa, triumphing over billionaire Trump by drawing heavily on the support of evangelical voters. But he’s faced criticism for messages his campaign sent to voters ahead of the caucuses saying rival Ben Carson — another favorite of religious conservatives — was dropping out and urging the retired neurosurgeon’s supporters to back him instead.

Cruz apologized for his campaign’s actions Saturday, but not before Carson jabbed him for having “Washington ethics.”

Those ethics, he said, “say if it’s legal, you do what you do to win.”

Trump was back on the debate stage after skipping the last contest before the Iowa caucuses. After spending the past several days disputing his second-place finish in Iowa, he sought to refocus on the core messages of his campaign, including blocking Muslims from coming to the U.S. and deporting all people in the country illegally, all while maintaining he has the temperament to serve as president.

“When I came out, I hit immigration, I hit it very hard,” Trump said. “Everybody said, ‘Oh, the temperament,’ because I talked about illegal immigration.”

Kasich, who has staked his White House hopes on New Hampshire, offered a more moderate view on immigration, though one that’s unpopular with many GOP primary voters. He said that if elected president, he would introduce legislation that would provide a pathway to legalization, though not citizenship, within his first 100 days in office.

The debate began shortly after North Korea defied international warnings and launched a long-range rocket that the United Nations and others call a cover for a banned test of technology for a missile that could strike the U.S. mainland.

Asked how he would respond to North Korea’s provocations, Bush said he would authorize a pre-emptive strike against such rockets if it was necessary to keep America safe. Cruz demurred, saying he wouldn’t speculate about how he’d handle the situation without a full intelligence briefing. And Trump said he’d rely on China to “quickly and surgically” handle North Korea.

Associated Press writer Holly Ramer in Concord, New Hampshire, contributed to this report.

Where Scott Walker stands on key issues as of today

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has shifted his stances on everything from the federal ethanol mandate to Common Core education standards to immigration reform as he positions himself for a presidential run. Here’s where he stands on some key issues as of today, July 3.

IMMIGRATION

As early as 2002, Walker supported creating a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally. Now he doesn’t. He attributed the shift to his conversations with border-state governors and voters nationwide. “My view has changed. I’m flat out saying it,” Walker told Fox News in March. “Candidates can say that. Sometimes they don’t.” He’s open to granting legal status short of citizenship to many people in the country illegally. But he’s also questioned whether the current policy on legal immigration makes economic sense, suggesting he might side with those who believe high numbers of immigrants — legal or not — suppress wages.

FOREIGN POLICY

A weak link in his presidential resume. To address that, he has traveled overseas four times this year. His visit to Israel in May was tightly controlled, with no public appearances. He stumbled rhetorically at times during a more public London tour earlier. Oddly, in an otherwise well-received speech to conservatives in February, he said his experience taking on thousands of protesters in his state helped prepare him to confront terrorists abroad. Walker has also said that his Eagle Scout training had prepared him for the role of commander-in-chief. He speaks hawkishly about the U.S. conducting pre-emptive strikes to prevent what he insists are certain future attacks on the U.S., although he’s offered no specifics, such as which countries he’d strike and why — only that he would strike somewhere on the globe.

SOCIAL ISSUES

Walker, the son of a Baptist minister, opposes abortion rights, including in cases of rape and incest. As governor, he signed into law a bill requiring women to have an ultrasound before having an abortion. He also supports a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. Walker also opposes same-sex marriage, even though he’s had a large number of key advisers who are gay and even attended the wedding of a gay relative. Still, Walker called the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states a “grave mistake” and said he’d support a Constitutional amendment banning marriage equality. Walker opposed the death penalty until 2006, when he switched positions, saying he believed that if DNA evidence proved the guilt of a person, the death penalty was justified. Wisconsin does not have the death penalty. The National Rifle Association gives his gun-rights record a 100 percent rating. In June, Walker signed a bill removing a 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases. Walker also legalized the carrying of concealed weapons in 2011. He supports the drug-testing of welfare recipients and allowing people who get food stamps to only use them to purchase approved items.

EDUCATION

Walker supports Wisconsin’s first-in-the-nation school voucher program, under which taxpayers will pay for students to attend private rather than public schools. That would transfer money from public schools to for-profit schools, including religious schools and schools that have no education standards and no access for the disabled. Walker has extended the program statewide after its start in Milwaukee and Racine, and this year proposed eliminating enrollment caps. Walker cut money to K-12 public schools by $1.2 billion in his first budget, the largest reduction in state history. He called for cutting about $127 million from schools in the first year of his most recent budget, but the Republican Legislature rejected that. Walker’s position has varied on Common Core academic standards. He never explicitly advocated for them, but in his first state budget in 2011 he called for statewide tests that were tied to the standards. By the middle of 2013, Walker was calling for a halt to further implementation of the standards, and in July 2014 he called for a repeal even though it’s up to local school districts whether to adopt them. His budget this year prohibits the state superintendent from forcing local school districts to adopt the standards and calls for new standardized tests.

LABOR UNIONS

Walker proposed, just six weeks after taking office in 2011, that public employees except for police and firefighters pay more for pension and health care benefits, and only be allowed to bargain collectively over base wage increases no greater than inflation. Outrage over passage of that law led to Walker’s 2012 recall election, which he won. This year, Walker signed a right-to-work bill into law, after saying during his re-election campaign that the issue would not come up because it was a distraction. Right-to-work laws prohibit unions from requiring workers to join or pay dues. Walker this year also proposed eliminating tenure protections for University of Wisconsin faculty and staff from law as part of a broader proposal to make the university independent from state oversight and regulation. Walker has referred to that as the higher education version of the law he signed affecting state workers four years ago.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Walker has not made climate change a focus of his campaign, but he has spoken at the Heartland Institute, a group that denies man-made climate change. Walker also joined more than a dozen other coal-reliant states suing the Environmental Protection Agency to block the so-called Clean Power Plan, which would require states to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Walker has also signed the “no climate tax” pledge to oppose any legislation that would raise taxes to combat climate change. Walker’s administration called for the firing of scientists who work at the Department of Natural Resources on issues related to climate change.

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Ohio teacher fired for remark against black president

An Ohio teacher has been fired after a black student who said he wanted to become president claimed the teacher told him the nation didn’t need another black commander in chief.

The Fairfield Board of Education voted 4-0 last week to fire science teacher Gil Voigt from Fairfield Freshman School, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.

“The district felt that the evidence was sufficient to support the termination of Mr. Voigt’s employment,” Superintendent Paul Otten said in statement.

Voigt did not immediately return a call seeking comment Friday but has said the student misquoted him.

Voigt, who is white, told school officials that what he actually told the teen was that he doesn’t think the nation can afford another president like Barack Obama, “whether he’s black or white.”

A state referee investigating Voigt found that explanation was not credible.

The referee also found Voigt had made other offensive comments in class over the years, including an accusation that in 2008, he trained his laser pointer at a black student and said he looked like “an African-American Rudolph.”

Voigt told school officials that he was only repeating what another student had said but later acknowledged his conduct had been inappropriate.

In 2012, Voigt was accused of calling a student stupid and implying that he and some of his classmates were gay.

In that incident, Voigt denied making any insulting comments to students and told school officials that a group of students in his class were colluding against him.

The state referee found Voigt’s explanation for those two incidents to also be not credible.

“Voigt repeatedly engaged in conduct that is harmful to the well-being of his students,” the state referee wrote in an April 11 report given to the board of education. “He has made race-based, culturally based and insulting comments to students over a period of years. He was warned on multiple occasions that if his behavior continued that he would be subject to termination. Unfortunately, for both Voigt and his students, he did not alter his conduct.”

Voigt may appeal his firing to a Butler County court. The Ohio Department of Education will investigate to decide what to do about his teaching license.

Voigt taught in Fairfield schools since 2000. He had been on unpaid leave since December following a parent’s complaint about the Obama remark.