POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 3/18

Conservatives Blame Consultants Not the Candidates

Byron York: “If there was any villain at the just-completed Conservative Political Action Conference, it was the generic figure of the Republican political consultant. Overpaid, unprincipled, always on the lookout for the next client — or easy mark — the consultants, to listen to a number of CPAC speakers, have helped bring the Republican Party to its current low state.”

“The two non-candidates most mentioned in the consultant hall of shame were Karl Rove, the former Bush White House aide who has recently formed a group that he says will find more electable Republican candidates, and Stuart Stevens, the top adviser to the Romney campaign.”

RNC Says No More August Conventions

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told CBS News that he wants the party hold its presidential nominating convention earlier, preferably in June or July.

Said Priebus: “I’m calling for a convention in June or July. We are going to set up a commission that’s going to make that decision. I’m going to be a part of that, I’m going to chair that commission But no more August conventions.”

The Cloakroom: 3 things Republicans will change so they can win again.

Democrats Step Aside for Crist

“Possible Democratic gubernatorial candidates this week closed the door on challenging Gov. Rick Scott in 2014, leaving more room for former Gov. Charlie Crist,” Sunshine State News reports.

RNC Announces Minority Outreach Effort

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus announced a $10 million outreach initiative to better convey the party’s message to voters, particularly minorities, Roll Call reports.

Priebus said the GOP’s “unprecedented” self-evaluation has shown that it has a “quality of context” problem with relating to voters, largely because of “parachuting” into communities months before an election rather than building grass-roots support.

Boehner Digs in on Taxes

House Speaker John Boehner told ABC News that talk of including revenue as part of an effort to strike a so-called “grand bargain” was “over.”

Said Boehner: “The president believes that we have to have more taxes from the American people. We’re not going to get very far. The president got his tax hikes on January 1. The talk about raising revenue is over. It’s time to deal with the spending problem.”

Most Think Iraq War Was Not Worth It

Ten years after the start of the Iraq war, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds nearly six in 10 Americans say the war was not worth fighting. Nearly as many say the same about the war in Afghanistan.

A key reason: “A substantial sense that neither war did much to achieve their goals of enhancing U.S. security. Only about half of Americans say either war contributed to the long-term security of the United States, and just two in 10 say either contributed “a great deal” to U.S. security – clearly insufficient, in the minds of most, to justify their costs in lives and lucre.”

Window Open for a Grand Bargain?

“Two weeks of bipartisan meals, closed-door meetings and dueling budget proposals have opened perhaps one last window for the White House and Congress to reach a deficit-reduction deal before a likely fight over the debt ceiling this summer,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Lawmakers say they now see a small opportunity to forge a comprehensive fiscal plan between now and July or August. That’s because the dynamics in recent days have changed, with a slow, steady process replacing repeated crisis-driven fights.”

Rand Paul Wins CPAC Straw Poll

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) won the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll, edging out fellow Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), 25% to 23%, Roll Call reports.

Other top finishers: Rick Santorum at 8%, Chris Christie at 7%, Paul Ryan at 6% and Scott Walker at 5%.

Walker Admits He’d Consider Presidential Bid

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) acknowledged to Politico that “he’s open to a presidential bid and pointedly declined to pledge to serve a full four-year term if he’s reelected next year.”

Said Walker: “For me, it’s really a measure of what I’ve accomplished and what more I could accomplish if I was in a different position.”

Christie Seeks Teacher’s Union Nod

Politicker NJ reports that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) was at the New Jersey Teacher’s Association for their screening process, apparently in search of their endorsement.

Christie has been a “political enemy” of the group and has generated national attention over his previous attacks on the union.

Anti-Drug Lawmaker Arrested for Marijuana Possession

New York State assemblyman Steve Katz (R), who “has railed against illegal drugs and voted against the legalization of medical marijuana last year,” was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of marijuana after being pulled over for a traffic stop, Journal News reports.

Boehner Says He Can’t Imagine Flipping on Gay Marriage

Hours after Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) came out in support of gay marriage, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) reaffirmed his position against it telling ABC News “that he could not envision a situation where his views would shift on same-sex marriage – even if one of his children came out as gay.”

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