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Mike Huckabee to speak at state GOP convention

Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will speak at a lunch banquet during the California Republican Party’s Fall Convention on Sept. 18 in Anaheim.

HuckabeeThe announcement comes one week after the state GOP said Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, also a presidential candidate, will headline the convention’s big Saturday-night dinner on Sept. 19.

“As governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee prompted much needed reform and set the bar high for his fellow governors,” state GOP chairman Jim Brulte said in a news release. “A proven leader, I’m very excited he could join us to kick off convention with the first banquet.”

California Republican Party Vice Chairwoman Harmeet Dhillon said Huckabee “has become a strong, but reasonable voice for conservatives across the nation through his time as governor and as a bestselling author and talk show host. With his years of experience, Huckabee is sure to have a great message to share with our fellow Republicans.”

Huckabee, in the same release said he’s “excited to be kicking off the California Republican Party convention and helping build excitement and enthusiasm for the great things California Republicans are going to help us accomplish in 2016.”

Mike Huckabee was the 44th governor of Arkansas, serving from 1996 to 2007. He won the 2008 Iowa caucus, but eventually finished third for the GOP nomination behind John McCain and Mitt Romney; since then, he has made a name as an author, radio commentator and host, and at the helm of his own Fox News Channel show.

Huckabee now polls fifth and Walker polls second for the Republican nomination, according to an average of recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics.

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A peek at Hillary Clinton’s Silicon Valley fundraiser

2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton reportedly wowed about 200 supporters who paid $2,700 each to see her Friday in Silicon Valley.

Clinton, who did two similar fundraisers Wednesday in San Francisco and three Thursday in Los Angeles, attended a luncheon Friday at the Portola Valley home of eBay President and CEO John Donahoe and Eileen Donahoe, global affairs director for Human Rights Watch and former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Reporters weren’t allowed in, but a tech executive who attended said Clinton seemed “shockingly well-prepared… she gave answers to questions that one would expect to see near the end of a campaign, not right at the beginning.”

Of course, keep in mind that everyone in the room had paid to be there and so is a strong supporter already. “But I’ve been around the block on these things,” this person insisted. “I don’t get impressed by politicians too often – especially early in campaigns – but I’m impressed.”

Clinton’s stump speech covered a wide range of foreign- and domestic-policy topics, the latter including student debt and pre-kindergarten education, the exec said, and then she took questions.

“My personal favorite was a high school girl asked at the end about teenage suicides … and she (Clinton) went off on this 10-minute answer that would blow you away,” the executive said, providing facts and figures off the top of her head about suicide-prevention strategies that have been effective elsewhere.

The issue is particularly resonant in Silicon Valley, where Palo Alto has struggled with a rash of teen suicides over the past decade – including one in January.

“Then she stayed and shook the hands of every single person there – that was not part of the program,” the executive said.

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Chris Christie to keynote California GOP convention

Potential 2016 presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will keynote the California Republican Party’s spring convention luncheon on Saturday, Feb. 28 in Sacramento.

“Governor Christie is working to move New Jersey forward with balanced budgets, sensible tax reform and a focus on improving K-12 education,” state GOP chairman Jim Brulte said in a news release. “We are thrilled he will be joining us at convention to share his story and wisdom.”

Party vice chairwoman Harmeet Dhillon called Christie “a great example of Republican leadership. He has helped New Jersey overcome some of its toughest challenges in decades, and has been a guiding voice across the nation as Chairman of the Republican Governors Association.”

Christie said he’s “excited to be joining Republicans in California as we plan for the years ahead and look to build upon the successes of 2014.”

Christie, whose popularity rose has he handled the aftermath of 2012’s “Superstorm” Sandy, has had a rockier road since late 2013, when the “Bridgegate” scandal – in which some of his top aides ordered closure of lanes on the busy George Washington Bridge as payback to his political foes – came to light. A new Quinnipiac Poll trend line tells the tale:

Christie Quinnipiac poll

The poll shows more New Jerseyans support Christie than any of a dozen other potential GOP candidates, but Christie would lose the Garden State in a head-to-head with potential Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Nationally, an average of five polls conducted late last year shows Christie trailing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush among potential GOP candidates.

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CAGOP14: Condoleezza Rice’s luncheon speech

It’s not just the California Republican Party that needs rebuilding – it’s America itself, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday at the state GOP convention in Burlingame.

Condoleezza-Rice-photo-by-Steve-Gladfelter-Stanford.jpgRice, now a Stanford professor and Hoover Institution senior fellow, said the American “pursuit of happiness” requires opportunity, community and responsibility to each other, as well as to people around the world who don’t yet have the liberties we enjoy.

That requires “proper balance between the rights and responsibilities of the individual, and the powers of government,” Rice said. “We don’t mean ‘no government’ – that’s not what our founders believe.”

Instead, she said, we need a government that imposes few regulations and low taxes upon the private sector “because it is the private sector that is creative, innovative and risk-taking” in creating jobs and opportunities for citizens.

“We must be committed to the belief that individuals have choices, and we will respect the choices of each other,” Rice said. “On one hand, we are the most individualistic people on the face of the earth … But we… are also the most philanthropic. This is a country where people give up their resources and their time to good causes.”

But public entitlements aren’t the answer, she said. Nor should Americans be jealous of each others’ success, she said; anyone can succeed with hard work and perseverance, so long as they’re given a good education.

She said she can’t understand how some people move to wealthy neighborhoods to get their children into good schools, or send their children to private schools, and then argue against school choice.

“The greatest civil rights issue of our time is a high-quality education for every child,” she said, calling for a school-voucher system.

More from Rice, after the jump…
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Upcoming events with FCC chair, First Lady & me

Tom Wheeler (AP photo)This Thursday, Jan. 9, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler will be in Oakland for a town hall giving local residents a chance to share their stories and speak about the impacts of an increasingly corporate media environment. The event – from 7 to 9 p.m., in Nile Hall, 1233 Preservation Park Way – is hosted by Voices for Internet Freedom, the Center for Media Justice, Free Press, ColorOfChange and the National Hispanic Media Coalition. Other featured speakers will include California Public Utilities Commissioner Catherine Sandoval, Greenlining Institute energy and telecommunications policy director Stephanie Chen, CIVIC Co-Executive Director Christina Mansfield, The Utility Reform Network Executive Director Mark Toney, and representatives from the host organizations. The event is free and open to the public but seating is limited, so attendees should RSVP online.

In the realm of shameless self-promotion (though not really, as I don’t get paid), I’ll be part of the Commonwealth Club’s “Week to Week” news roundtable at 6:30 p.m. next Monday, January 13, in the club’s offices on the second floor of 595 Market St. in San Francisco. I’ll be joining attorney Melissa Griffin Caen, a contributor to KPIX-TV and San Francisco magazine, and the Chronicle’s Joe Garofoli, with the club’s John Zipperer as moderator. Come early at 5:30 p.m. for a wine-and-cheese social – current events are always better after wine. Tickets cost $5 for club members, $15 for non-members or $7 for students, and are available online.

Michelle ObamaAnd, First Lady Michelle Obama will join House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to headline a women’s luncheon and reception to benefit the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Friday, Jan. 31 at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. The fundraising page makes no mention of the First Lady, but a White House official speaking on background confirmed Monday that she’s scheduled to attend. Tickets range from $500 each to $32,400, the latter of which buys two tickets to the VIP reception and photo line and a table for 10 at lunch. The First Lady had been scheduled to raise money for Democrats in October in the Bay Area, but cancelled her trip amid the government shutdown.

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The pool reports from Obama’s SF fundraisers

The Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci was inside President Obama’s fundraising luncheon today in San Francisco. Here’s her report, verbatim:

The very elegant wood paneled Julia Morgan Ballroom, considered a neoclassic architectural gem in the historic Merchants Exchange building, was filled with 27 tables of 10 guests each.
The White House official count was 250, but we were told by organizers that the demand for the event — sold out — was big and they wanted to squeeze in a few more. The majority of those paid $5,000 each to attend, but tickets went up to $7,500 for photo to $50,000 for “table captain.”

Among those in attendance: prominent San Francisco real estate developer Clint Reilly – a former Democratic strategist who also owns the historic Merchant Exchange building where the fundraiser is taking place. His wife, Janet, who heads the board of directors for the Golden Gate Bridge, was also present.
Lloyd Dean, chair of Cytori Theraputics and Obama bundler and Silicon Valley insider Wade Randlett among other guests.

California Governor Jerry Brown is also here.

Outside the Merchant Exchange building, there was a variety of vocal protesters, what looked to be a few hundred. They included about 50 from the Bay Area Tea Party Patriots, and another group some protesting Obama’s crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries, and (no kidding) anti-circumcision protesters.
And there were another two dozen from the Center for Biological Diversity — some dressed as polar bears, protesting Shell Oil’s drilling in the Arctic.

(Lots more, after the jump…)
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