Trump’s first TV ad, from Morocco to Mexico

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has released his first television campaign ad.

Trump has pledged to spend at least $2 million every week as the GOP nominating contest heats up, CNN reports, and the Iowa and New Hampshire television ad buys will cost him slightly in excess of that, according to his campaign.

PolitiFact notes while the narrator describes Trump’s vow to “stop illegal immigration by building a wall on our southern border that Mexico will pay for,” the footage displayed actually depicts migrants in Morocco trying to enter a Spanish enclave (and thus, the European Union).

But Politico’s Eliza Collins tweeted a statement from the Trump campaign saying that this was intentional “and selected to demonstrate the severe impact of an open border and the very real threat Americans face if we do not immediately build a wall and stop illegal immigration. The biased mainstream media doesn’t understand, but Americans who want to protect their jobs and their families do.”

This, of course, doubles down on Trump’s longstanding contentions that some crisis exists in southern border immigration, when in fact more people have been leaving the United States over that border than entering in recent years; and that immigrants pose a special criminal threat to Americans, which statistically speaking, they don’t.


Tom Steyer targets senate, gov races in 7 states

San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer will focus his anti-climate-change political activism this year on races in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, he announced Thursday.

Tom SteyerSteyer said his NextGen Climate organization will support candidates who have the courage to tackle climate change as a key issue.

“The debate on climate change is settled: it is here, it is human-caused, and it is already having a devastating impact on our communities, but we need to accelerate the level of political support to address this critical issue before it’s too late,” he said in a news reelase. “This means making politicians feel the heat—in their campaign coffers and at the polls.”

The release said NextGen Climate will “use climate as a wedge issue, both to motivate voter turnout with the rising electorate and to demonstrate that being anti-science will hurt our opponents among persuadable voters.” That will include criticizing policy positions that benefit fossil fuels and candidates who take money from the oil and coal industries.

So NextGen Climate intends to be active in:

  • Colorado, where U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner – “a science denier – has taken hundreds of thousands in donations from fossil fuel companies while voting for their interests;”
  • Florida, where incumbent Gov, Rick Scott “is a climate denier and has decimated efforts to ‘preserve environmentally sensitive land;’”
  • Iowa, where U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst “has ‘not seen proven proof ‘ that climate change ‘is entirely man-made’ and former energy CEO Mark Jacobs is ‘not convinced that man-made causes are causing’ climate change;”
  • Maine, where incumbent Gov. Paul LePage “denies that climate change is a threat, rather saying it offers Maine ‘a lot of opportunities;’”
  • Michigan, where U.S. Senate candidate Terry Lynn Land “has the support of the Koch Brothers who are spending millions on her race and have threatened the state’s water and air quality with their dirty energy stockpiles;”
  • New Hampshire, where U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown “looks out for the Koch Brothers and his Big Oil buddies, taking their campaign dollars and voting to protect $24 billion in oil subsidies;” and
  • Pennsylvania, where Governor Tom Corbett “favors powerful corporate energy executives over Pennsylvania families.”
  • “Climate change will not be solved by easy answers or quick fixes, but the path forward is simple,” said Steyer. “Our country must have the courage to solve our climate crisis for the sake of the next generation.”


    Miller leads Dems in pushing minimum wage hike

    Rep. George Miller led more than 100 House Democrats today in introducing a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $9.80 per hour.

    The minimum wage was last increased in 2009, but this would be the first increase for tipped-workers in 21 years. U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, is expected to introduce companion legislation today.

    “Raising the minimum wage at its core is about respecting and valuing work. No one who works hard every day and plays by the rules should live in poverty,” said Miller, D-Martinez, the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s ranking Democrat.

    “Increasing workers’ paychecks will help millions of working families make ends meet and help the nation’s economy grow,” he said in a news release. “It is time for Congress to stand up for working people for a change and for Washington Republicans to stop using their position in Congress only to benefit wealthy special interests. They should join Democrats in ensuring a well-deserved raise for millions of honest, hardworking Americans.”

    Miller was the House author of the 2007 bill that increased the minimum wage to $7.25 following 10 years without any increases.

    Miller’s new H.R. 6211, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2012, would increase the minimum wage in three 85-cent steps, over three years, from $7.25 to $9.80 per hour; after that, the rate would then be indexed to inflation each year. The bill also would increase the required cash wage for tipped workers in annual 85 cent increases, from today’s $2.13 per hour until the tip credit reaches 70 percent of the regular minimum wage.

    Among the bill’s 104 original cosponsors are Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Pete Stark, D-Fremont; Mike Honda, D-Campbell; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; and Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma.

    Expect this to be dead on arrival in the Republican-run House; many conservatives believe requiring employers to pay higher minimum wages makes them less likely to hire or retain less-skilled workers, thus increasing unemployment.

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in January said his preference would be “to allow the minimum wage to rise with the CPI or with another index so it adjusts automatically over time” – much as these Democrats are now proposing after the initial three-step, three-year increase. He seemed to walk that statement back a bit in March, when he said he favors reviewing the minimum wage periodically but there’s “probably not a need to raise” it now.


    How about ‘Romney-Huckabee 2012?’

    Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has recorded a commercial taking other Republican candidates to task for attacking Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital of downsizing companies:


    I post this less for its content than for what it may portend: I’ve been saying for a while now that Huckabee looks like a strong contender for the vice presidential slot on a Romney ticket.

    Huckabee, 56, finished first in Iowa in 2008 – and with a stronger performance than Romney’s this year – due to his strong bona fides with evangelical Christian conservatives, exactly the electorate Romney will need to reassure with his vice-presidential pick. He’s been building his name recognition with a weekly show on Fox News and a syndicated radio show, and building his donor network through his PAC.

    By staying out of the field this year, Huckabee has kept his hands clean: There aren’t any embarrassing campaign-trail quotes to dredge up, as there would be with Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann or any of the others who’ve repeatedly hit Romney in recent months. And compared to much of this year’s field, he’s a strong, charismatic campaigner who’s likely to remain gaffe-free.


    Iowa – so what?

    It’s caucus day in Iowa, and the most recent polls show former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with a thin lead over Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., a more distant third.

    And as one of them pops the champagne corks and looses the confetti tonight, I’ll say… so what?

    First, consider who is voting. Iowa has a total population of about 3 million, which is less than half of that of the San Francisco Bay Area; only about 2 million are registered, active voters. About 30 percent of Iowa voters are Republicans, but only a fraction of them actually vote in the caucuses: In 2008, it was a record turnout of 119,000, which was only about a fifth of the active registered Republicans at the time. This, in a state that’s 88.7 percent “white, not Hispanic,” as the Census puts it, and where self-identified evangelical Christians wield disproportionate influence by comprising 40 to 60 percent of caucus-goers.

    Second, consider the process. Unlike a traditional primary election where you vote or mail in your ballot and then move on, a caucus – a community meeting at which voters express their preferences – can take some time (each campaign can have a surrogate speak for up to five minutes), meaning those who must work or can’t get out of the house for that long can’t vote. There are no absentee ballots, which also eliminates the votes of active-duty soldiers and college students who have left the state for the winter break.

    The Iowa caucuses have been the nation’s first major event of the presidential electoral season since 1972, but it’s hard to keep calling them a bellwether when candidates like Ron Paul and Rick Santorum – who clearly don’t have the ground game, fundraising or policy stances to carry other states – are within striking distance of a win there. The ability to influence a tiny slice of one small, homogenous, rural state says hardly anything about who’s likely to win the nomination. Just ask Mike Huckabee.


    Donald Trump to host final GOP debate?

    It would be like Christmas coming two days late: Donald Trump will moderate a GOP presidential debate on Tuesday, Dec. 27, Newsmax Media and ION Television announced today.

    The event is scheduled for 8 to 9:30 p.m. EST, to be broadcast from the Hoyt Sherman Theater in Des Moines, Iowa. This would be the GOP field’s final face-to-face showdown before Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses Jan. 3.

    I say “would be” because there’s a catch: All of the major Republican presidential candidates have been invited to participate, the organizers said, but they have not yet respondind to my query about whether any candidates have actually committed to be there.

    I certainly hope they all go. As ION Media Networks Chairman and CEO Brandon Burgess put it, “ION’s and Newsmax’s powerful combined audience reach, coupled with the prominence of Donald Trump as moderator, makes this one of the most influential meetings of the candidates to date.”

    Prominence, indeed! I must begin planning the drinking game for this debate; so many options…

    ION Media Networks, Inc., according to its website, is a privately-owned, independent network television broadcasting company that owns and operates the largest broadcast television station group in the U.S., reaching more than 99 million U.S. homes via broadcast, cable, and satellite distribution systems. Its flagship general entertainment network, ION Television carries a blend of series, theatrical and made-for-television movies, specials and sports.

    Newsmax.com claims the title of the nation’s largest online conservative news outlet, with more than 7.3 million unique visitors monthly.

    UPDATE @ 12:02 P.M. SATURDAY: IT’S ON, BABY! Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond tweeted a few minutes ago that Newt has accepted the invitation.

    UPDATE @ 1:45 P.M. TUESDAY: So crestfallen. Romney won’t attend. WHY DO YOU HATE AMERICA, MITT?