Carly Fiorina

The Constitution The Republicans Can't Stand

This post was written by PFAW President Michael B. Keegan and originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

If you are running for office as a Republican today, you have to mention your reverence for the Constitution at least as much as you mention your love for Ronald Reagan.

The Second Amendment-- every word should be taken literally because it was literally ordained by God! The First Amendment protects my right to discriminate against gay people! Neither the Constitution nor the Bible contains the word "Obamacare"!

But Republican politicians have a few glaring blind spots when it comes to the Constitution. One of those is the 14th Amendment, a pillar of our inclusive democracy, a key component of which Republican presidential candidates are now asking us to ignore or change.

In its infamous Dred Scott decision in 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the descendants of enslaved people were disqualified from U.S. citizenship. After we fought a civil war, the U.S. ratified the 14th Amendment to the Constitution in 1868, which overturned Dred Scott in its opening lines, declaring, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

During the congressional debate over the 14th Amendment, both its supporters and detractors recognized that this birthright citizenship clause would apply to everyone born on U.S. soil, not just the descendants of slaves. In 1898, the Supreme Court ruled that even after the passage of the discriminatory Chinese Exclusion Act, the U.S.could not deny citizenship to Wong Kim Ark, a California-born son of Chinese immigrants, because the 14th Amendment guaranteed him citizenship.

Yet, anti-immigrant activists and their allies in the GOP are now fighting against this most American of constitutional principles.

In an immigration plan released this week, GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump called for ending birthright citizenship. No matter that he didn't say how he would do that(while most people acknowledge that it would take a constitutional amendment to change the policy, some claim it was never included in the 14th Amendment in the first place). His Republican rivals started jumping to join him. Scott Walker told reporters that he "absolutely" wanted to change the Constitution's definition of citizenship, adding, paradoxically, that "to me it's about enforcing the laws in this country." Ben Carson said it "doesn't make any sense" to allow "anchor babies." Bobby Jindal joined the fray. So did Lindsey Graham. Rand Paul and Rick Santorum had already expressed their support for undoing the citizenship provision, with Paul sponsoring a constitutional amendment to do so and Santorum saying the 14th Amendment doesn't even say what it says.

Jeb Bush has been getting unearned credit for acknowledging that birthright citizenship is a "constitutional right" that we shouldn't "take away" -- just a few days after implying that if he had a "magic wand" to change the Constitution he would use it to do just that. Similarly, John Kasich has renounced his previous support for repealing birthright citizenship, but now says he doesn't want to "dwell on it." Carly Fiorina's and Rick Perry's passionate defense of the 14th Amendment is that it would take too much work to change it. This is what now passes for moderation. What ever happened to defending basic constitutional rights?

The Republican presidential contenders' rush to badmouth a basic constitutional right -- in an apparent attempt to appeal to their supposedly Constitution-loving far-right base -- speaks volumes about what they really mean when they talk about constitutionalism. They use their pocket Constitutions for the parts that come in handy. The rest of it? Not so much.

PFAW

'What's Wrong With Slavery?' And Jan Mickelson's Other Worst Pro-Confederacy, Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Gay Moments

If you are a presidential candidate, you spend a lot of time talking to people in Iowa. And if you’re a Republican, that means a lot of time on Iowa conservative radio, including popular programs hosted by right-wing activists Steve Deace and Jan Mickelson.

The fact that Deace and Mickelson have long histories of extreme rhetoric has not dissuaded Republican candidates from joining their shows. But Mickelson just upped the ante with comments he made on his program today.

Media Matters caught Mickelson proposing that undocumented immigrants in Iowa become “property of the state” and pressed into hard labor. When a listener called in to point out that Mickelson’s proposal “sounds like slavery,” Mickelson asked, “Well, what’s wrong with slavery?” Undocumented immigrants, he went on to say, are the ones who are enslaving American citizens:

It will be interesting to see if any of the GOP candidates who have been on Mickelson’s radio program recently — which, according to Media Matters’ count, includes Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal — repudiate his remarks.

But the fact is that if these candidates were concerned about Mickelson’s rhetoric, they should have stopped going on his show long ago.

When Graham appeared on his program in June, Mickelson declared his allegiance to the Confederacy, as Graham scrambled to distance himself:

Mickelson has also backed Jim Crow-type voting laws.

Today’s comments are hardly Mickelson’s first foray into anti-immigrant extremism either. He has proposed barring undocumented children from public schools and said that if someone has a Hispanic name and is involved with the police, “I assume you’re not here legally.” After an interview with anti-immigrant activist Ann Corcoran, Mickelson promised to press every candidate he had on his show to oppose the U.S. resettlement of refugees from war-torn Muslim countries, which he said was an “act of jihad.” When he asked Rand Paul about it, Paul said the U.S. shouldn’t resettle Iraqi refugees because “we won the war.”

Mickelson’s anti-gay activism includes calling AIDS an “invention” of God to punish homosexuality and agreeing with former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad on the issue of homosexuality.

The Iowa talk radio host also enjoys promoting fringe right-wing conspiracy theories. Mickelson helped to bring the Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theory into the GOP mainstream, asking Paul on his program about the supposed federal plan to take over Texas .

And just last week, Mickelson was getting Rep. Steve King to entertain the conspiracy theory that a botched EPA mine cleanup in Colorado was a deliberate plan to pollute a river to create a Superfund site:

Republican candidates may try to avoid Mickelson’s show after today. But given their track record, we somehow doubt that they will.

2016 Republican Candidates Report

As the GOP embraces the reactionary politics and anti-government zealotry of the Tea Party, it is steadily purging “moderates” and empowering extremists. Nothing shows this trend more clearly than the lineup of Republican presidential candidates.

John Kasich Kicks Off Presidential Bid By Addressing Religious Right Gathering

The Faith and Freedom Coalition, the Religious Right group led by disgraced right-wing lobbyist Ralph Reed, is holding its annual “Road to Majority” conference next week. Nearly every Republican presidential candidate has signed up for the event, and today, the FFC announced that Ohio Gov. John Kasich will be addressing the conservative summit.

Kasich recently made waves by tapping John Weaver and Fred Davis, two veterans of John McCain’s 2008 campaign, to work for his increasingly likely campaign for president.

The conference is cosponsored by radical right-wing groups such as Concerned Women for America, the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family & Property and the World Congress of Families, and will feature speeches from Religious Right favorites such as Reps. Steve King and Louie Gohmert, Fox News pundit Todd Starnes, Christian Broadcasting Network “reporter” David Brody, pastor Jim Garlow, rabbi Daniel Lapin and activists like Phyllis Schlafly, Lila Rose and Gary Bauer.

Clearly, no right-wing activist is too radical or corrupt for Republican presidential candidates to embrace, which is why Kasich, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham and Carly Fiorina have no qualms about attending this event organized by someone like Reed.

Reed is best known for his involvement in the Jack Abramoff scandal, where he organized a Christian Coalition anti-gambling campaign in Alabama with the help of secretive funding from Mississippi tribes that owned casinos – who just so happened to be Abramoff’s clients that didn’t want business competition from the neighboring state. Reed denied knowing the source of the funding, even though investigators uncovered emails from Abramoff asking Reed to send invoices for approval from a Mississippi tribe which controlled major gaming interests. Abramoff later said that Reed “didn't want it out that he was getting gambling money,” adding that Reed was “a tap dancer and constantly just asking for money.”

Fiorina Comes Out Against Federal Marriage Amendment

In an interview with the Iowa conservative blog Caffeinated Thoughts this weekend, GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina said that she would oppose any effort to amend the Constitution to reverse a Supreme Court decision striking down bans on marriage equality. Fiorina, who said this year that she doesn’t think the Supreme Court should “shortcut” the conversation about marriage by ruling in favor of marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples, said in a 2010 Christian Coalition candidate survey that she would support a Federal Marriage Amendment banning gay marriage.

Fiorina quickly pivoted to talking about “religious liberty” being under threat from LGBT rights, a strategy she also took in a recent interview with National Journal.

Carly Fiorina: Falling Upwards To The White House

Carly Fiorina may have lost her post at the McCain-Palin campaign and her race in a closely watched U.S. Senate election in California, but now the former Hewlett-Packard CEO is planning on another foray into the political field by running for president.

Sandy Rios: The Clintons' May Run A Charitable Foundation, But Hamas And Hezbollah Do Charity Work Too

Potential GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina stopped by “Sandy Rios In The Morning” on Friday at CPAC, where she and Rios discussed reports that the Clinton family’s charitable foundation received donations from foreign countries. Fiorina, who has close ties to the foundation, dedicated part of the interview to attacking Hillary Clinton over the contributions.

Towards the end of the interview, Rios told Fiorina to “remember that Hamas and Hezbollah does [sic] charity work too, I’m not talking about yours, but you said that the Clinton Foundation does good work, that’s the way the left always operates, they do some good stuff.”

Fiorina said that she will at least credit the foundation for doing “some good work in Haiti,” but “now we see that there is a corruption in that foundation that is truly problematic.”

“Very dangerous, actually,” Rios added.

PFAW And Allies Call On GOP Presidential Candidates To Distance Themselves From CPAC’s White Nationalist Sponsor

Today, People For the American Way, America’s Voice and ColorOfChange.org called on GOP presidential candidates to distance themselves from Conservative Political Action Conference’s ties to ProEnglish, a group led by white nationalist Robert Vandervoort.

As we reported last week, ProEnglish is sponsoring a booth in the event’s exhibit hall, which costs $4,000. ProEnglish has been allowed to sponsor the event for the past several years, despite Vandervoort’s well documented ties with white nationalist groups. Nearly every major Republican presidential contender is scheduled to speak at the event this weekend.

Here is the full text of the open letter from PFAW, America’s Voice and ColorOfChange.org:

Dear Gov. Jeb Bush, Dr. Ben Carson, Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. Rand Paul, Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Rick Santorum, and Gov. Scott Walker:

We understand that you are scheduled to speak at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference, an event which is being partially sponsored by ProEnglish, a group led by white nationalist Bob Vandervoort. We urge you to decline to speak at CPAC unless it cuts ties with ProEnglish and Vandervoort.

ProEnglish has sponsored CPAC for the past several years, despite Vandervoort’s well documented ties to the white nationalist movement. As the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights has reported, Vandervoort is the former leader of Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance, a group dedicated to supporting the ideals of the infamous white nationalist publication American Renaissance. One member of the group described its mission as encouraging “white survival and maintaining white majorities.”

Vandervoort’s own writings reflect these views. He has expressed concern about the need to “halt the cultural and racial dispossession of the West's historic people” and expounded on “racial differences” in “intelligence and temperament.” He has wondered how “race realists and pro-Western Civ nationalists” like himself can counter historical comparisons to the Holocaust and slavery.

CPAC has a troubling history of welcoming white nationalists. In 2012, the conference hosted a panel on race featuring Vandervoort and fellow white nationalist writer Peter Brimelow. And ProEnglish has continued to be allowed to sponsor the event even after civil rights groups have raised concerns.

Clearly, Robert Vandervoort and his group should have no place as a financial sponsor of the nation’s largest convention of conservatives. We urge you to distance yourself from Vandervoort’s views and refuse to speak at CPAC unless ProEnglish’s sponsorship is withdrawn.

Sincerely,

Michael Keegan, President

People For the American Way

Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director

America’s Voice

Rashad Robinson, Executive Director

ColorOfChange.org

Civil Rights Groups to GOP Presidential Candidates: Distance Yourself from CPAC’s White Nationalist Ties

Today, People For the American Way, America’s Voice, and ColorOfChange.org released an open letter to Republican presidential candidates urging them to make clear that they don’t support CPAC’s ongoing relationship with ProEnglish, a group led by white nationalist Bob Vandervoot. Despite CPAC’s troubling history of welcoming white nationalists as participants and sponsors, Republican leaders continue to headline the conference. CPAC has included ProEnglish as a sponsor in the past, and in 2012, CPAC hosted a panel on race featuring Vandervoot and infamous racist writer Peter Brimelow. This year, ProEnglish is again participating as a sponsor of the conference.

“Anyone who aspires to our nation’s highest office has a responsibility to be clear about what they stand for and what they stand against,” said  Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “These candidates need to make it perfectly clear that they won’t truck with white nationalists and that they reject intolerance and bigotry.”

Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director of America’s Voice, stated, “The GOP strategy of winning support from their base by cozying up to extremists on the right is sure to backfire, as it did in 2012.  Latino, Asian Pacific Islander American and immigrant voters are watching these 2016 hopefuls closely, and any candidate that aligns with anti-immigrant extremists doesn’t stand a chance.”

“As Republican leaders and activists gather at CPAC to discuss the future of their party, GOP Presidential hopefuls have to decide whether they're going to be the type of leaders that confront racism in their ranks or cravenly shrink from that responsibility in order to exploit hatred for political gain," said ColorOfChange.org Executive Director Rashad Robinson. “The clearest signal the GOP could send that they are interested in changing course and opening an honest dialogue with Black voters would be removing Representative Steve Scalise from the #3 House leadership position for his association with David Duke and extremist hate groups.”

Read the letter here:

Dear Gov. Jeb Bush, Dr. Ben Carson, Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. Rand Paul, Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Rick Santorum, and Gov. Scott Walker:

We understand that you are scheduled to speak at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference, an event which is being partially sponsored by ProEnglish, a group led by white nationalist Bob Vandervoort. We urge you to decline to speak at CPAC unless it cuts ties with ProEnglish and Vandervoort.

ProEnglish has sponsored CPAC for the past several years, despite Vandervoort’s well documented ties to the white nationalist movement. As the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights has reported, Vandervoort is the former leader of Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance, a group dedicated to supporting the ideals of the infamous white nationalist publication American Renaissance.  One member of the group described its mission as encouraging “white survival and maintaining white majorities.”

Vandervoort’s own writings reflect these views. He has expressed concern about the need to “halt the cultural and racial dispossession of the West's historic people” and expounded on “racial differences” in “intelligence and temperament.” He has wondered how “race realists and pro-Western Civ nationalists” like himself can counter historical comparisons to the Holocaust and slavery.

CPAC has a troubling history of welcoming white nationalists. In 2012, the conference hosted a panel on race featuring Vandervoort and fellow white nationalist writer Peter Brimelow. And ProEnglish has continued to be allowed to sponsor the event even after civil rights groups have raised concerns.

Clearly, Robert Vandervoort and his group should have no place as a financial sponsor of the nation’s largest convention of conservatives. We urge you to distance yourself from Vandervoort’s views and refuse to speak at CPAC unless ProEnglish’s sponsorship is withdrawn.

Sincerely,

Michael Keegan, President
People For the American Way

Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director
America’s Voice

Rashad Robinson, Executive Director
ColorOfChange.org

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“Rogues’ Gallery” Report Profiles Far-Right Senate Candidates

People For the American Way today released “The Rogues’ Gallery,” profiling 15 far-right Republican nominees for Congress. The report makes clear that the Republican slate of nominees is everything the Tea Party or the Religious Right could want.

The Rogues' Gallery

In our latest report, PFAW takes an in-depth look at 15 of the far right's most extreme candidates for Senate, and it isn't pretty.
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