Tag Archives: presidential

Corker tells Trump ‘no, thanks’ on potential VP nomination

CINCINNATI (AP) — Celebrating new success in fundraising, Donald Trump says he took in $51 million for his campaign and allied Republicans in recent weeks, a huge jump from his previously lackluster figures though still well shy of Hillary Clinton’s money machine.

Trump also appeared to be moving closer to choosing a vice presidential running mate Wednesday, though two senators who had been under consideration said, “No, thanks.”

Bob Corker of Tennessee and Joni Ernst of Iowa dropped out of the running, Corker telling The Associated Press that “there are better ways for me to serve” and that he cherished his position as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Yet another potential running mate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, appeared with Trump Wednesday night in Ohio.

Trump celebrated his campaign fundraising even before announcing it, tweeting Tuesday night: “Raised a lot of money for the Republican Party. There will be a big gasp when the figures are announced in the morning. Lots of support! Win.”
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Duncan sees success soon for bill requiring disclosure of donors to presidential libraries

U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. has been on a crusade since 1999 to force presidential libraries to make public their lists of private donors, reports Michael Collins, but this year he thinks his legislation is actually likely to become law.

Indications the Knoxville Republican’s luck may be about to change:

-The foundation that has been planning President Barack Obama’s library, museum and presidential center is set to announce Tuesday that the complex will be built on the South Side of Chicago, the city the 44th president calls home. Construction is expected to cost $380 million and will be financed by private donations.

-Recent reports the Clinton Foundation accepted foreign donations while Hillary Rodham Clinton was secretary of state — and questions about whether the Clintons lived up to their promise to avoid conflicts of interest between the foundation and her government post — have underscored what government watchdog groups say is the need for public disclosure of such donors.

-Duncan’s legislation requiring the disclosure of donations to presidential libraries has passed the U.S. House three times — in 2002, 2007 and 2009 — only to die in the Senate. But this year, identical legislation in the Senate has already won the approval of a key committee and is heading to the Senate floor for a possible vote.

…“I’m hopeful and optimistic that we can pass it and really complete it this time around,” Duncan said. “It’s a good-government bill. It’s something that should have been done a long time ago, and it has really been subject to abuse and will continue to be subject to abuse if we don’t do something about it.”

If the bill finally becomes law, fundraising organizations for presidential libraries will be required to submit quarterly reports to the National Archives detailing all donations of $200 or more and could face criminal penalties for falsified information. The National Archives would be required to make the reports public via a searchable database.

Duncan introduced the legislation in 1999 after learning an organization raising money for President Bill Clinton’s library had received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Middle Eastern countries while Clinton was still in office.

Michelle Obama visits St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis (with transcript)

By Adrian Sainz, Associated Press
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — First lady Michelle Obama visited with young patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis on Wednesday, telling them she was inspired by their focus and courage as they battle life-threatening diseases.

Mrs. Obama was making her first visit to St. Jude as first lady, following in the footsteps of Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton. She chatted with the patients in an activity room and participated in a question and answer session.

The first lady’s plane was delayed by about 1 ½ hours due to a maintenance issue, but the children patiently waited for her, working on an art project.

St. Jude is considered a leading researcher of cancer and other life-threatening diseases that affect children. The hospital says it is working to increase the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90 percent in the next decade.

Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing and food. Celebrities pass through the hospital on a regular basis to meet with patients.

Mrs. Obama said she was invited to St. Jude by actress Marlo Thomas, whose father, actor Danny Thomas, founded St. Jude.

The first lady sat at tables with the children, some of whom had shaved heads. She asked them how they were feeling, if they were being treated well at the hospital and if they liked sports.

She then took a seat at the front of the room and took questions from the curious kids, such as what is the best place she has visited: “That’s hard. I enjoyed meeting the Pope, visiting the Vatican”; what is her favorite sports team: “I love all of the Chicago teams”; and who is her favorite musical artist: “Everybody on the planet probably knows that Stevie Wonder is my favorite artist.”

One patient asked if she would take “selfies” with them.

“I don’t like selfies, but I’m going to do selfies for you guys,” she said. The children took pictures with her after the Q&A session.

Mrs. Obama said it felt special for her to be able to meet with the kids at St. Jude.

“Sometimes, living in the White House, and being married to the president, and trying to live a life like that, it can be hard,” she said. “But when I meet you guys, I am so inspired … You all are smart and you’re focused and you’re just so courageous.”

Note: The White House transcript of the the discussion is below.
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Rand Paul rides into Nashville, talks walking horses

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said on a swing through Nashville that he may co-sponsor U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s proposal to regulate Tennessee Walking Horses, adding that an alternative plan by a fellow Kentucky lawmaker is too intrusive, reports The Tennessean.

The first-term Republican senator from Bowling Green, Ky., said in an interview Monday that he has ruled out backing a bill filed by U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., that would step up federal inspections of walking horses. He added that he still is studying legislation put forward by Blackburn, R-Brentwood, that would increase scientific testing of walking horses but not the frequency of manual inspections.

Blackburn’s bill, House Resolution 4098, is favored by Walking Horse trainers and has been co-sponsored by nine members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including the six other Republicans from Tennessee.

…“I think government can go too far, even for a good purpose,” Paul said. “No one wants to see horses tortured or mistreated in any way, but I think the Tennessee Walking Horse (industry) has come a long way in self-policing.”

Paul spoke to reporters after appearing with Blackburn at a private event held in the offices of the Waller law firm in downtown Nashville. A potential candidate for president in 2016, Paul said he did not hold any fund-raisers in the city while passing through.

Instead, he said came to talk with business executives about his efforts to strengthen privacy laws as governments and corporations collect more and more data on individuals. Blackburn has become involved in the issue through her role as co-chair of a bipartisan task force on privacy put together by the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

That group has had to cancel about half of the 10 meetings it has scheduled since August, in part because of bad weather this winter and the federal shutdown last fall, and Blackburn told Politico recently that it may not produce any legislation.

Blackburn and Paul are scheduled to appear together again in New Hampshire next month, when they’ll both be speakers at a “Freedom Summit” organized by Citizens United and Americans for Prosperity. The engagement has fueled chatter that Paul will run for president in 2016 and put Blackburn’s name on lists of potential candidates.

Haslam says he would welcome Christie to TN — maybe later this year

Excerpt from a post on CNN’s politics blog:

Two Republican governors up for re-election this year said Monday they would appear publicly with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie if he came to their states and helped them campaign.

Gov. Nikki Haley, who lives in the crucial presidential primary state of South Carolina, said there are no plans in the books for Christie–the chairman of the Republican Governors Association–to come to her state, but added she expects a visit “at some point.”

“I would be incredibly proud to let everybody know that he supports (me), as well as say he’s my friend,” Haley said a press conference for the RGA at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, adding that she would be happy to appear with any of her fellow Republican governors.

The RGA chairman usually speaks at the RGA press conference, but Christie left Washington early to celebrate his daughter’s birthday and prepare for his major budget address Tuesday. His lack of presence, however, fueled speculation that he didn’t want to face questions about the traffic scandal that has roiled his administration.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam also said he would appear with Christie.

“If Chris made it down, we would love to have him,” he said. “He’s actually talked about coming to Tennessee sometime this summer or fall, but there’s no definite plan now.”

Haslam ‘a long way’ from endorsing Chris Christie for president

Gov. Bill Haslam sees a lot to like about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who takes over as head of the Republican Governor’s Association this week, reports WPLN. At the group’s annual meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., many governors have been questioned about the potential 2016 presidential contender.

Asked whether he’s cut from the same cloth as the New Jersey moderate, the trim and athletic Haslam responded with a weight joke, saying Christie’s “is cut a little larger than mine.”

Aside from Christie’s much larger waistline, Haslam also points to his penchant for sparring with opponents.

The mild-mannered Haslam calls Christie “very much a New Jersey guy.” But he sees someone who is primarily interested in results and not partisanship.

“Chris is smart and tough and has been effective. But if you’re asking me if I’m endorsing him for president, no, we’re a long way from that point. But do I think Chris is a good governor? I do.”

Santorum visits Chattanooga, criticizes Obamacare and federal government shutdown

Rick Santorum, who won Tennessee’s Republican presidential primary in 2012, visited to promote a movie release Thursday and talked some politics while there, reports the Chattanooga TFP.

The current and expected future problems with Obamacare are why the strategy by conservative Republicans to defund the law last month — ultimately resulting in a 16-day partial government shutdown — was the wrong thing to do, Santorum said.

“It was the right thing [to oppose it],” he said “but the wrong time. They should have let the government fund it, let it roll out” and then let it crash on its own merits.

Santorum said he does not disagree with the aims of conservative Republicans, but takes issue with how to accomplish those goals.
“You don’t need to go full frontal on every issue you have,” he said.

Santorum, 55, won pluralities in Hamilton County and Tennessee in the 2012 GOP presidential primary, but ultimately lost to Mitt Romney.

While he is “happy” and enjoys his work as CEO of Dallas-based EchoLight, he is “open to looking at [another presidential run in] 2016 as a possibility” if things fall into place as they did in 2012, he said.

…Santorum was in Chattanooga to promote “The Christmas Candle,” a film released by Echo-Light Studios, of which he is chief executive officer.

The movie, based on a book by Max Lucado and featuring the acting debut of British singing sensation Susan Boyle, dwells on Christmas miracles that occur every 25 years in a small Victorian English village.

“It’s a Christmas movie about Christmas” in a time when most holiday releases focus on anything but, Santorum said. “It’s a beautiful film, a beautiful story.”
One of the film’s most touching aspects is that it deals with people struggling with their faith, he said.

TN GOP Welcomes President with Obama-bashing ad; Demos Bash GOP

Tennessee Republicans have a greeting for Democratic President Barack Obama’s visit to Chattanooga on Tuesday, reports the Chattanooga TFP — an ad touting what they say are the state’s strides under GOP leadership.

“Welcome to Chattanooga, Mr. President — welcome to America,” says the ad, which the state Republican Party says it plans to run on local television stations starting today. “We’re succeeding in Tennessee, not because of your liberal policies but in spite of them.”

Over images of Tennessee, including an aerial shot of the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, a narrator says the state was fourth in job creation nationwide, in the top five for business and the third “freest,” “thanks to Republican leadership.”

“We’re a right-to-work state relying on the hard work of individuals, not unions,” the narrator continues. “Unlike Washington, we’ve got the lowest debt of any state in the nation.”

Obama is scheduled to speak Tuesday at Amazon’s giant distribution center in the Enterprise South industrial park, near the VW plant.

State Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, noted the state’s successful recruitment of both Amazon and Volkswagen came from a collaborative effort between then-Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, and local officials, including then-Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey, a Republican. The state, county and Chattanooga all put up substantial cash and tax incentives.

Favors said she’s “elated” over Obama’s visit and criticized both the state GOP and U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., who on Friday put out a mock postcard welcoming Obama to Chattanooga and criticizing him.

“The president has a lot of courage to come to this hostile environment,” Favors said. “But the majority of people are pleased about it.”

She said some of the criticism “gives us a reputation for being a racist state and that’s wrong.” The narration concludes over a shot of downtown Chattanooga with Lookout Mountain in the background.
“Maybe you can learn a thing or two while you’re here, Mr. President. This is what America should look like,” the narrator says.

Party Executive Director Brent Leatherwood wouldn’t say how much Republicans plan to spend on running the ad.

Tennessee Democratic Party spokesman Brandon Puttbrese took aim at Republicans Sunday.
“The real record of [Gov.] Bill Haslam and the Republican majority is soaring unemployment, falling workers’ wages and multimillion-dollar state contracts for old business partners and well-connected cronies,” he said. “I doubt the millions of Tennesseans who work multiple jobs and still struggle to get by are impressed by this phony attempt to sell Republicans’ failed top-down agenda.”

Presidential Pardon Not Enough for Tennessean to Buy Guns

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — An Athens man, who was pardoned by President Barack Obama of a petty crime committed more than a half-century ago still can’t own handguns.
Roy Grimes received word on March 1 that the president had pardoned him for altering a $41 money order in December 1960 and depositing it. The 72-year-old Grimes had asked for the pardon, partly because he likes classic Western heroes and wanted to collect the weapons they used.
According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/11gwE0r), Grimes’ attorney, Patrick Noel, checked with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and was told there is no provision for restoring the handgun ownership rights of someone convicted of a crime. Not even a presidential pardon changes that.
The TBI said the Tennessee Code Annotated, 39-17-1307(c)(1), states “A person commits an offense who possesses a handgun and has been convicted of a felony.”
The statute says nothing about restoring gun ownership rights, by pardon or by any other means.
There is disagreement on the issue.
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney General Walter Dellinger wrote on the same issue in 1995 that a state cannot deny someone’s right to own a firearm if the president has pardoned that person. Dellinger wrote that the U.S. Constitution allows presidents the right to pardon people who have been convicted and the Supremacy Clause declares states cannot override the federal government.
The TBI, however, cites a state statute passed in 2008 — 26-0 in the Senate and 87-3 in the House — that opposes the opinion.
“The state law changed since the opinion was rendered in 1995,” TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm wrote in an email. “Mr. Grimes received his pardon after that law was passed.”
The conclusion astounded Margaret Love, the U.S. pardon attorney from 1990-97.
“How could that possibly make any difference?” Love asked. “The holding of the opinion is that a presidential pardon removes automatic disabilities imposed by state law based on the pardoned conviction. Period.”
A similar case id now before the Tennessee Court of Appeals. It involves the 1989 conviction in Georgia of David Blackwell on three felony drug offenses. He was later pardoned by a Georgia governor and moved to Tennessee, where he also found he couldn’t get a handgun.
Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper weighed in with a 2009 opinion that a felon can’t have a handgun in Tennessee, pardon or not.
Blackwell’s attorney, David Raybin, asks what’s the point of a pardon?
“They’re saying it’s worthless,” Raybin said. “They’re saying it’s just a piece of paper. That’s it.”

Athens Man Tells About Presidential Pardon

A money order for $40.83 cost Roy Grimes more than he could have ever imagined, reports the News Sentinel..
After living 52 years as a felon for altering the payee’s name and then cashing a money order he and a friend came across back in 1960, Grimes feels that his debt has been paid. Now, he has the documentation to prove it.
On March 1, Grimes was in his Athens, Tenn., home when he received a phone call from his lawyer, Patrick Noel, who informed him that his request for a presidential pardon had been approved.
“I told him, ‘Hallelujah!’ ” said a smiling Grimes on Friday after getting his first look at the pardon. “It’s been a real albatross for me.”
Grimes, 72, has lived his entire adult life under the impression that he would never be able to vote or buy a gun because of the conviction he received as a 20-year-old. That was until three years ago, when he came across the possibility of getting a presidential pardon.
He began recounting his life’s journey in the 20-page application that eventually turned into 40 pages.
“He was very meticulous about his pardon application, which really showed and helped,” Noel said of his client. “He, if anybody, deserves a pardon.”
Unfortunately for Grimes, the decision wasn’t Noel’s to make. So after six months of perfecting his application Grimes mailed it to President Barack Obama’s Office of Pardon Attorney in August 2010.
There was no word on the status for more than 2½ years. Then came the March 1 phone call.