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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Governors

Herman Cain: 'I'm the president of the United States of America!'


Herman Cain is currently on a roll, following his strong debate performance in Orlando on Sept. 22 with a decisive win last Saturday in the Florida GOP straw poll.

Once considered a second-tier candidate and kind of an afterthought, the former Godfather's Pizza CEO is leapfrogging over half the field to find himself within spitting distance of top-tier status.

So, what's an up-and-coming candidate to do? Release a book, of course. And if you're running for president, you might as well imagine yourself as already being there.

As quoted in an extensive piece at, Cain writes in "This Is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House":

“Well, I’m just about at the elevator up to the family quarters. But bear with me for just a minute more as I confirm who I am. It’s obvious; I’m the president of the United States of America!"

The memoir, due out next week from Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, takes Cain from his childhood in Georgia through his career and his battle with Stage Four cancer to his hoped-for triumphant arrival in Washington, D.C., and imagined first term in office.

It's not rare for a candidate to have a book. In fact, Michele Bachmann has her own book coming out in November. But most -- like Perry's and Romney's -- deal with policy positions and political philosophy. Cain takes it a step further by, according to Politico, even discussing the first lady plans of his wife of 43 years, Gloria.

Cain also takes on the assertion that he is not knowledgeable about foreign policy, a charge that could also be leveled at his fellow candidates, former governors Rick Perry and Mitt Romney (and, for that matter, at former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter -- governors all, plus Obama).

This particular issue stuck in the craw of Fox News Channel host Bill O'Reilly, who challenged recently announced Cain supporter Dennis Miller on Wednesday's "The O'Reilly Factor."

"I like Herman Cain," said O'Reilly. "I like his spirit. I think he presents himself very well. But when he came on 'The Factor' a few weeks ago, he had no clue about foreign affairs. None.'"

Miller responded with a reference to President Obama, saying: "Oh, like the guy in there now does?"

O'Reilly countered with: "Aren't we supposed to improve upon that?"

Take a look at the whole exchange:

Cain also caused some controversy elsewhere on Wednesday, while talking to anchor Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "The Situation Room" (click here for the full transcript).

First, Cain addressed the issue of why most African Americans won't vote Republican, saying: "Because many African Americans have been brainwashed into not being open-minded, not even considering a conservative point of view. I have received some of that same vitriol simply because I am running for the Republican nomination as a conservative."

Cain also said he believes a third to 50% of black Americans are "open-minded," saying: "More and more black Americans are thinking for themselves. And that's a good thing."

It's a position Cain also discussed during a Monday appearance on Fox News Channel's "On the Record With Greta Van Susteren," saying:

"And because the unemployment rate for black people is nearly 17%, instead of the 9%, they're looking for something that's going to boost this economy. And they see that possibility in my 9-9-9 plan.

"That's what's going to peel off the black vote: results, not rhetoric."

(Click here for the full transcript and video.)

Also addressed during the CNN interview was the issue of Perry's support, along with the Texas legislature, for giving in-state tuition discounts to children of illegal immigrants.

This policy got the Texas governor in some hot water in the last GOP debate -- in which he characterized those who disagreed with him as "heartless" -- and earned him a rebuke from his fellow Republican, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, during his speech at the Reagan Library on Tuesday.

In opposing Perry's use of taxpayer funds to subsidize the lower tuition rates, Christie said: "Let me be very clear. From my perspective, that is not a heartless position. That is a common sense position."

Perry even had to do a bit of backpedaling on his "heartless" claim. He told Newsmax in an exclusive video interview posted on Wednesday, that, "I was probably a bit over-passionate by using that word, and it was inappropriate."

Asked on CNN if he agreed with Perry's position, Cain said: "No, absolutely not. Because I happen to believe that that puts children of illegals in front of citizens, in front of soldiers. I don't agree with that. We must first secure the border for real. That's the real problem we need to make sure that we solve. Then, decide later.

"Now, I do agree that it's a state's issue. It's a state's decision. But I don't believe in putting children of illegals, because of compassion, in front of citizens."

Cain also said that, as of right now, that position would prevent him from supporting Perry if he becomes the GOP's eventual nominee:

"Today, I could not support Rick Perry as the nominee for a host of reasons. Him being soft on securing the border is one of the reasons. I feel very strongly about the need to secure the border for real, the need to enforce the laws that are already there, the need to promote the path to citizenship that's already there.

"But, more importantly, empower the states to enforce the national federal immigration laws because the federal government didn't do it, can't do it, and they never will do it. So, that's where I think he and I have a basic fundamental difference of opinion."

Cain did say though, that while he does not support the individual mandate put in place by Mitt Romney in his Massachusetts healthcare bill, he could support Romney as the nominee so long as he vowed to repeal Obamacare.

A new Fox News phone poll is out, placing Cain in third place now with 17%, trailing Romney, who has 23%, and Perry, who has 19%.

(Click here for the full poll results.)

Cain is even making the apparently obligatory visit to New York City to talk with businessman and reality show star Donald Trump on Oct. 3, following the lead of fellow hopefuls Perry, Romney and Bachmann.


Herman Cain handily wins Florida GOP straw poll

Chris Christie won't run but doesn't mind being asked

GOP debate: Rick Perry vs. Mitt Romney, plus Gary Johnson and some dogs

-- Kate O'Hare

Photo: Herman Cain addresses Florida GOP activists in Orlando last Saturday. Credit: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

This week's GOP debate: Rick Perry vs everyone else

CNN Tea party debate 9-12-11

As a former Air Force pilot, Rick Perry knows what happens to the leading plane in any dogfight. It's the target for the ones behind.

And so it was Monday night in Tampa as the unlikely partnership of CNN and the Tea Party Express produced another early Republican primary debate.

It was a good debate for moderator Wolf Blitzer, who kept the pace brisk and worked hard to get everyone involved with 30-second rebuttals.

It was also a good debate for beleaguered President Obama, who sent his doomed jobs bill to Congress in the morning with yet another Rose Garden photo op. Obamacare came in for the usual bashing. Just about everyone in the GOP field will repeal the legislative abomination as soon as they walk into the Oval Office after the parade on Jan. 20, 2013.

Perry wondered last week if he'd become the pinata. But this debate the forceful Mitt Romney, the game Jon Huntsman, the irascible Ron Paul, the earnest son of an Italian immigrant Rick Santorum and the increasingly aggressive Michele Bachmann aimed their fire at the tall Texan whose 30 short days in the race have changed everything and vaulted him into a substantial lead.

Which maintains the appearance of an ongoing race but means absolutely nothing this early. just ask Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson, who lead at this time four years ago.

Bachmann, who rode her tea party leadership to victory in the Ames Straw Poll, was virtually invisible in last week's Reagan Library debate, rhetorically and sartorially. This time she came back in red and went after fellow tea party fave Perry at every chance, mainly over his admitted and aborted mistake of seeking to vaccinate sixth grade girls against the human papilloma virus.

Santorum hit Perry's government mandated vaccination too. And they hit Perry for championing in-state college tuition for children of illegal immigrants and for opposing a border fence with Mexico as not realistic.

Perry, as usual did not back down, but he needs to get smoother in his answers, whose pauses suggest uncertainty. "We were clearly sending a message to young people regardless of what the sound of their last name is that we believe in you," the governor said, adding it's the American way.

Marc Antony, oh, no, it was Mitt Romney actually, was full of praise for Perry's job creation record that grew employment just like his predecessors Democrat Ann Richards and Republican George W. Bush, only fewer, and with the help of oil reserves, Republican courts and Republican legislators.

Asked what he would bring to the White House, pizza exec Herman Cain said a sense of humor, which brought the evening's lone laughter. Along, of course, with his 9-9-9 plan--9% business, income and national sales taxes.

Newt Gingrich kept his criticism aimed at Obama, the main target in previous GOP debates.

Ron Paul again showed why his disciples love him and why he can never win this party's nomination. He is very consistent and firm in his strict constitutionalism themes and isolationism, which earned him boos from the audience of 1,000 conservatives. As he did with Giuliani last cycle, Paul lured Santorum into a fight by suggesting the United States invited the 9/11 attacks by aggression against other lands.

Romney pursued Perry like a prosecutor on Social Security, calling the Texan's Ponzi scheme comment over the top. Bachmann was relentless. She's seized on the inoculation of "little girls" as a violation of freedoms, parental rights and suggested a connection among a drug company, a former Perry aide there, campaign contributions and Perry's executive order.

It's a theme she carried into the post-debate interviews and a somewhat puzzling fundraising email immediately after titled "I'm offended."

Bachmann may also have set a modern debate record for mixed metaphors, talking about the Federal Reserve Bank:"They have got to be shrunk back down to such a tight leash that they're going to squeak."

There are some signs of desperation in the Bachmann camp since Perry's entry and her poll slump. She's cutting back South Carolina campaigning to focus on Iowa and her email solicitation asked for "a special emergency donation" without explaining what the emergency is. Money?

Earlier in the day, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal endorsed Perry and ex-candidate Tim Pawlenty endorsed Romney. Coincidentally, Romney will help pay down Pawlenty's campaign debts.

Speaking of campaign dropouts, the GOP field will winnow in coming weeks from the surviving eight. The next Republican set-to isn't for another nine days, which is about how long it will take you to read Monday's full CNN transcript over here.


Perry's debate debut gives MSNBC top ratings so far

The Reagan debate: The most awkward, unexpected and weirdest moments

Mitt Romney: 'We can't lead the world by hoping our enemies will hate us less'

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images

Sunday shows: Cheney, Huntsman, DeMint, Trumka

ABC's "This Week" with Christiane Amanpour: Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) with Dana Loesch, Jon Karl, Clarence Page, Michael Gerson, Carol Lee, Jared Bernstein and Douglas Holtz-Eakinformer vice president Dick Cheney Book In My Time

Bloomberg's "Political Capital with Al Hunt:" AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

CBS' "Face the Nation" with Bob Schieffer: Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a Republican, and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)

CNN Fareed Zakaria "GPS": Frank Gehry, Heather Knight, Zanab Salbi, Sheryl WuDunn and husband Nicholas Kristof, and Platon

CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley: DeMint, James Hoffa of the Teamsters, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), Michael Duffy and Peter Baker

Fox News Channel "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace: Dick Cheney with Ed Gillespie, Bill Kristol, Kirsten Powers and Mara Liasson

NBC's "Meet the Press" with David Gregory: Doris Kearns Goodwin, Paul Gigot, Mark McKinnon and Tom Friedman

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Gov. Jon Huntsman's jobs plan: 'Straightforward and common sense'

gov jon Huntsman Campaigning 6-11

If you collect job plans, this is your time.

On Wednesday Republican former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman jumped to the front of the line and issued his jobs plan. (See excerpts and full text below.)

Another former \governor, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, will soon be issuing his. And after some fumbled negotiations in public, House Speaker John Boehner and the Obama White House agreed last evening that 137 weeks into his administration, the president will speak to a joint session of Congress with his latest plan to create jobs.

If the past nearly 32 months are any indication, none of them will pass, work or matter. Unemployment, which was supposed to stay beneath 8% if we threw $787 billion in stimnulus money at it, is now 9.1%. Consumer confidence has tanked. Economic growth is virtually stagnant.

Except for jobs plan speechwriters. They are in huge demand. This morning we have here first some excerpts from Huntsman's speech Wednesday. After the excerpts we have the full text of his jobs plan remarks.

And we will be doing the same for the upcoming plans with cross-referencing links to each, so Ticket readers can compare. First, Huntsman:

We have an economic crisis in this country. The marketplace is crying out for predictability, competitiveness and signs of confidence. Above all, people need jobs.

There is no more urgent priority at this point in our nation’s history than creating jobs and strengthening our economic core; everything else revolves around it....

Washington has never suffered from a vacuum of ideas; it suffers from a vacuum of leadership. I’m not running for president to promise solutions. I’m running to deliver solutions....

Let me start by saying that debt is a cancer that if left untreated will destroy our economy from within....

One of the most indefensible examples is the National Labor Relations Board’s ongoing....

Continue reading »

Rick Perry broadens national lead over Romney, Bachmann, Palin

Texas Republican governor Rick Perry demonstrates his brand of intense campaigning 8-15-11

Fourteen days after announcing his Republican presidential candidacy, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has expanded his lead in a new national poll, while both Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin slide slightly and Michele Bachmann is in single digits.

A new CNN/ORC International Poll of Republicans out today shows Perry now holds the support of more than one-in-four (27%), up significantly from the 15% he had before his Aug. 13 announcement at the Redstate Gathering of conservative writers in South Carolina.

Romney, who had 17% then, now has 14%. Sarah Palin, who's expected to make her candidacy plans or lack thereof known at an Iowa tea party rally Saturday, has slipped from 12% to  10%.

Bachmann, the Iowa native and early tea party favorite, has the support of 9%, down from 12% in mid-July. The congresswoman's win at the Ames Straw Poll seems to have provided a short-lived bump.

In a poll that removes Palin and non-candidate Rudy Giuliani from the race, Perry's support jumps to 32% and Romney's to 18%.

The latest poll numbers reveal the tectonic shifts caused by Perry's energetic entry as the nation's longest-serving governor. Perry's support is strongest among tea party supporters but crosses a broad swath of the GOP and appears to be drawing support away from Bachmann and even perennial candidate Ron Paul.Rick Perry campaign Logo

The numbers also highlight the potential dangers of Romney's strategy so far of focusing heavily on New Hampshire and attacking President Obama while largely ceding Iowa and South Carolina to other GOP hopefuls.

His strategy is based on the belief that, in the end, Republican primary voters will eschew the excitement of the moment and choose someone, anyone, they believe can defeat the Democratic incumbent on Nov. 6, 2012.

The new CNN/ORC Pollalso shows that despite his dedicated disciples' determination, Paul's national standing has faded by half from early August, from 12% down to 6%.

A recent Gallup Poll of Republicans found a similar commanding lead for the Texan with a broad base of support among GOP incomes, gender and educations. And a new Rasmussen Reports survey found 38% of likely U.S. voters agree with Perry's professed goal of making Washington as inconsequential as possible in Americans' lives.

Even further changes in allegiance are likely in coming days as Labor Day and the fall campaign season arrive.

In addition to  Palin's long-teased decision Saturday, this weekend features a tea party candidate forum in South Carolina run by Sen. Jim DeMint where for the first time Perry will mix it up with GOP competitors like Bachmann and persistent critic and fellow Texan Paul. Romney is taking a pass on that event.

Then comes a flurry of debates including one at the Reagan Presidential Library on Sept. 7 and another in Tampa, Fla.

The same CNN/ORC poll found that fewer that three out of four Democrats favor Obama's renomination. The 72% who do is statistically about the same as the 70% who said that in early August but down from the 81% who liked that idea in early June. Likewise, those favoring a different Democrat as presidential nominee has surged from 18% in June to 27%.


Rick Perry: Use Predators to track illegal border drug traffic

Gov. Rick Perry bills Obama for $350 million in illegal immigration costs

Rick Perry: 'We cannot afford 4 more years of this rudderless leadership'

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Rick Perry shows his intense campaign style. Perry's campaign logo.

Credits: Jim Young / Reuters; Andrew Malcolm/Los Angeles Times

How a hurricane becomes a political opportunity

Tropical Storm Irene New York City is Still Standing 8-28-11

For the vast majority of Americans who could give a seagull's tail feather about Tropical Storm/Hurricane Irene, good luck trying to find something else interesting on television over the weekend.

The storm story had everything America's East Coast-centric media loves, especially on a slow-news August weekend: UnpredictaNew Jersey Gov Chris Christie and Lt Gov Kim Guadagno talk with storm evacuees Irenebility, the possibility of death and destruction and an East Coast location.

Which makes it by definition important.

Like it or not, Americans living thousands of miles away were going to see network reporters leaning into driving winds and rains like people who didn't know enough to come in out of the rain. CNN International even went full time with the U.S. East Coast storm although it had a ready-made Asian typhoon blasting through the Philippines and Taiwan too.

The storm had a little New York mayor ordering a big evacuation, a big New Jersey governor halting  gambling in Atlantic City -- gasp! -- and a White House chief executive who acted as if there's a presidential election next year. All bipartisan instincts.

On one hand, the ubiquitous responses of Eastern governments provided a stark contrast to the pathetic incompetence of the Louisiana governor and New Orleans mayor during Katrina's devastation and aftermath a few years back.

As bad as it was in pockets, this storm didn't meet a week of hype; can you say carmageddon?PaulJRichardsAFPGty

But it did offer elected and appointed officials a golden opportunity to show how really ready they were to respond to an emergency.

That's not such a bad thing, actually, when the federal government has been in such steady ill repute the last couple of years for its inability to handle most anything, except over-spending to little effect.

Prime weapon in these political PR offensives are so-called briefings, which can actually get quite long. They provide a must-cover photo op showing an elected official on top of an emergency situation, learning, ordering. And then he/she can in turn authoritatively brief the news media and voters on where things stand. Someone is in charge.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was everywhere in recent days, checking preparations, consoling evacuees, briefing the state. Once he tore himself away from Martha's Vineyard, President Obama, who missed the earthquake during another golf game, showed he's learned his lesson from being a week late to recognize the import of the Gulf oil spill last year.

Their government agencies released copious notes on preparations, conference calls and the developing situation. And Obama hailed governments' response in a brief Rose Garden appearance Sunday.Irene New York Gov andrew Cuomo makes the rounds of a Long Island fire station 8-28-11

None of this prevented millions from losing power, millions of dollars in damages and about 20 somehow related deaths.

And, yes, such a show of government presence is self-serving for elected officials, who show up, shake hands and talk at the cameras, having done none of the dirty work all night.

But for more than two years now many Americans have grown cynical, fearful and angry watching their federal government incapable of producing even a basic budget while suing state governments acting to do what the feds haven't. And state governments suing the feds for doing things they and some federal courts regard as unconstitutional.

So, yes, there may have been more revving of engines than actual operations. But, all in all, not a bad national civics lesson for the country to see its governments actually prepared and able to act in concert to perform their most basic duties, protect the citizenry in the face of some threat, natural or otherwise.


Obama hails governments' storm response

What's a hurricane actually look like from space?

Golfing Obama oblivious to East Coast earthquake but gets briefed later

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Eduardo Munoz / Reuters (New York City is still standing); Julio Cortez / Associated Press (New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno talk with storm evacuees); Paul J. Richards / AFP / Getty Images (Obama gets a briefing at FEMA headquarters, Aug. 27); Kathy Kmonicek / Associated Press (N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo makes the rounds of a Long Island fire station, Aug 28).

Jon Huntsman smacks fellow GOP hopefuls on 'This Week'

In an interview set to air Sunday on ABC's "This Week," current GOP presidential contender Jon Huntsman Jr. -- a former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador in Asia for two presidents -- reacted to the rise of candidates Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann by taking swings at his fellow Republicans.

In conversation with Jake Tapper, Huntsman -- who didn't focus on Iowa and finished ninth out of 10 contenders in the recent Ames straw poll -- appeared to be laying claim to the "centrist" label by embracing some points of view more common to Democrats.

Here are a few excerpts:

Regarding Perry's skepticism about anthropogenic global warming: "When we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Science ... Sciences, has said about what is causing climate change and man's contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and therefore, in a losing position."

On whether he would trust a President Bachmann after characterizing her stand against the debt-ceiling deal as a "crash and burn" approach: "Well, I wouldn't necessarily trust any of my opponents right now, who were on the recent debate stage with me, when every single one would have allowed this country to default. ... So I have to say there was zero leadership on display in terms of my opponents."

On Perry's comments about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's efforts to "print more money" as "almost treasonous": "I'm not sure that the average voter out there is going to hear that treasonous remark and say that sounds like a presidential candidate, that sounds like someone who is serious on the issues."


The Ames Republican debate transcript

Sunday shows: Huntsman, Santorum, Rove, O'Malley

FBN's Stuart Varney goes primetime with market meltdowns, Perry vs. Bernanke, and his reasons for hope

-- Kate O'Hare

Media critic Kate O’Hare is a regular Ticket contributor. She also blogs about TV at Hot Cuppa TV and is a frequent contributor at entertainment news site Zap2it. Also follow O'Hare on Twitter @KateOH.

Speaking of 2012, follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: Jon Huntsman Jr. in China. Credit: ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images AsiaPac

Pawlenty's gone, so who's the next Republican to fold?


Rick Santorum waits to speak at Lincoln Day Dinner Black Hawk County Iowa 8-14-11

Most of the attention on the Black Hawk County Lincoln Dinner Sunday night was focused on two speakers -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the newest entrant in the Republican presidential race, and Rep. Michele Bachmann, the Waterloo native who felt the need to appear too once Perry's attendance was confirmed.

Perry, who's now surged to a double-digit lead in the GOP field in one new poll, came early, schmoozed from table to table, took his turn with the microphone and listened to all the other speakers, including an interminable presentation by a Lincoln lookalike.

Bachmann, who won the Ames Straw Poll, came late, demanded different lighting, missed her entrance cue and talked briefly with attendees.

But there was another candidate in the Electric Park Ballroom, former two-term Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, the Rodney Dangerfield of the GOP field so far in 2011.

When his turn arrived, Santorum ignited audience laughter when he said that as the evening's undercard, he was expected to speak briefly.

So he did.

Will he be the next GOP campaign dropout? Santorum finished fourth at Ames, worse even than Pawlenty, who said he needed a strong showing to maintain sufficient donor interest. The Minnesotan didn't get it and pulled the plug the next day on his substantial Iowa ground operation.

But Santorum had much less invested in Iowa, other than miles and time. And fourth place for him seemed better than expected. So he postponed his return to Pennsylvania and went to the Waterloo dinner to continue his quiet guerrilla struggle for support as a conservative alternative to Mitt Romney in hopes that Perry and Bachmann somehow knock each other off.

Santorum pecks away at Bachmann much as Pawlenty did, for her alleged lack of congressional accomplishments, and at Perry for his seemingly diffident same-sex marriage stance.

Or what about Herman Cain, the pizza godfather? Probably not, not yet anyway.

Gallup compiles what it calls a Positive Intensity Score, a measure of a candidate's strength of support. Although he regularly polls down in the pack, Cain's intensity is the highest among Republicans, 25. Next already is Perry's at 23 followed by Bachmann at 20 and usual poll leader and top moneyraiser Romney stuck at 15. The undeclared Sarah Palin also has 15 and Rudy Giuliani has 20.

Ron Paul finished a close second at Ames and his devoted disciples wouldn't let him quit even if he was discouraged by his disappointing intensity score of 11.

According to the same score, the weakest remaining GOP candidate now is Newt Gingrich at only three. But his debate appearances help his other business, selling books, DVDs and maintaining his speaking fees.

Jon Huntsman's intensity score is only four and Santorum's isn't much better at six. So, watch for one of them to fade, especially if Santorum's fundraising stalls back home.


Could Ron Paul win the Iowa caucuses?

Americans downgrade Congress to historic low 13% job approval

For Perry, Bachmann and Romney, it's all about the hands -- and eyes

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images (Santorum, the one without a hat, waits to speak at the Black Hawk County Lincoln Dinner, Aug. 14).

Rick Perry: Use Predators to track illegal drug traffic on U.S. border

Predator Drone flight over Southern California

Two themes have already emerged in the still-early 2012 presidential contest:

Republicans are running against Washington and President Obama is running against part of Washington, the Congress that gave him his early legislative achievements.

The newest entrant to the GOP race is Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who touched on one of the most emotional and volatile issues sitting on the nation's debate table: border security, illegal drugs from Mexico and illegal immigrants.

In his announcement speech in South Carolina on Saturday, Perry said:

America’s standing in the world is in peril, not only because of disastrous economic policies, but from the incoherent muddle that they call foreign policy. Our president has insulted our friends and he’s encouraged our enemies, thumbing his nose at traditional allies like Israel.

He seeks to dictate new borders for the Middle East and the oldest democracy there, Israel, while he is an abject failure in his constitutional duty to protect our borders in the United States.

And the nation's longest-serving governor waved his right hand toward Mexico as he said it before a national TV audience and an enthusiastic crowd of conservative online writers at the RedState Gathering.

Now comes word that the border-state governor thinks as long as the U.S. is using unmanned aircraft so effectively in Afghanistan and Pakistan, why not use the same Air Force surveillance assets to protect the homeland?

The feds, former Air Force pilot Perry told a campaign gathering in New Hampshire, should use unarmed Predator drones to monitor the flow of illegal drugs coming from Mexico. Predators can fly for up to 20 hours undetected and are equipped with sophisticated video and tracking technology.

We know that there are Predator drones being flown for practice every day because we're seeing them; we're preparing these young people to fly missions in these war zones that we have. But some of those, they have all the equipment, they're obviously unarmed, they've got the downward-looking radar, they've got the ability to do night work and through clouds.

Why not be flying those missions and using (that) real-time information to help our law enforcement?

Such double use of military assets is not unprecedented, using training flight hours for real-time law enforcement work.

National Guard helicopter pilots, who need to log regular flight hours each month to maintain proficiency, were for a time tasked to do that over national parks. There, they'd scout for illegal drug operations using pockets of those vast public acreages as free farm land for marijuana growing. Some were well-guarded and even mined against poachers and authorities.

The Customs and Border Protection arm of the Department of Homeland Security says on its website it has been using unmanned aerial craft for several years, although the agency is vague on the crafts' specific missions other than "support of disaster relief efforts."


Tim Pawlenty's farewell message

Could Ron Paul win the Iowa caucuses now?

Rick Perry is all in: 'We cannot afford 4 more years of this rudderless leadership'

-- Andrew Malcolm

For unpredictable commentary on politics, follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times (A California National Guard chase plane monitors a Predator  flight over populous Southern California.)

C-SPAN and The Ticket discuss the latest politics

For a summer weekend in a non-national election year, it was a busy time.

Michele Bachmann won the Ames Straw Poll, but not by much over the loyal legions of Ron Paul. Tim Pawlenty finished a distant third and dropped out. (Scroll down for related links.)

And Texas Gov. Rick Perry jumped into the Republican race, stealing some of the media thunder from Ames by announcing his candidacy at the RedState Gathering, an annual meeting of conservative online writers, in South Carolina, the first Southern primary state.

We joined C-SPAN's Steve Scully Sunday morning on 'Washington Journal' to talk about the unfolding events. Watch the video below.


Michele Bachmann tops the Ames Straw Poll

Rick Perry joins the GOP fray: 'This is gonna be a fun ride'

Rick Perry is all in: 'We cannot afford 4 more years of this rudderless leadership"

For refreshing commentary on politics, follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle.Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Video courtesy of C-SPAN, 'Washington Journal.'


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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