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Former Texas Governor Rick Perry picked to head Energy Department

Perry will lead agency he pledged to abolish during his presidential campaigns

♦By Rich Shumate, Chicken Fried Politics.com editor

texas mugWASHINGTON (CFP) — Former Texas Governor Rick Perry has been nominated to head the U.S. Department of Energy, despite his scathing criticism of President-elect Donald Trump when the two men battled for the Republican presidential nomination.

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry

Perry had also pledged to eliminate the department during his two presidential campaigns, most notably in his infamous “ooops” moment during a 2011 debate when he was unable to remember Energy as one of the three departments he had pledged to abolish.

In a December 14 statement announcing Perry’s nomination, Trump said that Perry “created a business climate that produced millions of new jobs and lower energy prices in his state, and he will bring that same approach to our entire country.”

“My administration is going to make sure we take advantage of our huge natural resource deposits to make America energy independent and create vast new wealth for our nation, and Rick Perry is going to do an amazing job as the leader of that process,” Trump said.

In the same statement, Perry said he was “deeply humbled” to be nominated for the energy post.

“As the former governor of the nation’s largest energy producing state, I know American energy is critical to our economy and our security,” he said. “I look forward to engaging in a conversation about the development, stewardship and regulation of our energy resources, safeguarding our nuclear arsenal, and promoting an American energy policy that creates jobs and puts America first.”

Perry, 66, served 14 years as governor of Texas from 2000 to 2014, the longest tenure of any governor in state history. But he was unable to parlay that experience into a successful run for the White House in either 2012 or 2016.

During his campaign against Trump for the 2016 nomination, Perry called him a “cancer on conservatism” and said his campaign would lead the GOP to “perdition.” But last May, as Trump was poised to capture the nomination, Perry endorsed him, and he later campaigned for Trump.

As energy secretary, Perry would oversee a vast bureaucracy that runs the nation’s nuclear programs, markets power from federal hydroelectric projects and regulates the nation’s electric grid and natural gas pipelines.

The agency also has a research arm that, among other things, has conducted studies regarding climate change. Perry has said he does not think the science used by proponents of climate change to make their case that human activity is warming the planet is “settled,” and he has rejected the idea that carbon dioxide — a naturally occurring compound fundamental to human life — should be considered a pollutant.

Perry is also a supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that proponents of climate change have been fighting. President Obama stopped the final phase of that project in 2015; Trump has vowed to reverse that decision and let construction proceed.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham ends bid for GOP presidential nomination

Graham’s decision opens up political space for the February 20 South Carolina primary

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com

south-carolina mugCOLUMBIA, South Carolina (CFP) — Mired in single digits in the polls and relegated to the undercard in the Republican debates, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has ended his bid for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham

But Graham, who made national security and the battle against ISIS the centerpiece of his White House run, said his campaign has changed the conversation within the Republican field on those issues, pushing the party toward a more hawkish stance.

“I got into this race to put forward a plan to win a war we cannot afford to lose and to turn back the tide of isolationism that was rising in our party,” he said in a YouTube video posted December 22 announcing his departure. “I believe we made enormous progress in this effort.”

Graham said most the Republican candidates have come around to his thinking on one issue in particular–the need to use American ground forces to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Graham’s departure allows him to take his name off the ballot for the South Carolina primary, avoiding what could have been an embarrassing defeat in his home state.

South Carolina will hold its pivotal presidential primary on February 20, less than two weeks after the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary. The vote in the Palmetto State will be the first test of strength in the South.

After his withdrawal announcement, Graham told CNN that he has no plans to endorse any of the other candidates in the field. However, his departure could free up Graham supporters in South Carolina to sign on with other candidates.

During the campaign, Graham has been a strong critic of GOP front-runner Donald Trump, which could give him a strong incentive to back another candidate who could defeat the real-estate magnate.

Graham, 60, won his third term in the Senate in 2014. He is one of the Senate’s strongest hawks on military and national security issues, but he has also run afoul of some conservatives in his party for supporting immigration reform and crossing the aisle to make bi-partisan deals with Democrats.

He is the third Southern Republican presidential candidate to exit the race so far, after former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

The remaining Southern GOP candidates are U.S. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and former governors Jeb Bush of Florida, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Jim Gilmore of Virginia.

 

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal ends campaign for GOP presidential nomination

Jindal’s decision comes after he was unable to gain traction in the polls or a place in the top-tier debates

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

louisiana mugWASHINGTON (CFP) — Saying it was “not my time,” Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has ended his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

“We spend a lot of time developing detailed policy papers, and given this crazy, unpredictable election season, clearly there just wasn’t a lot of interest in those policy papers,” Jindal said in a November 17 appearance on Fox News, where he announced he was suspending his campaign.

“Certainly, we thought it would end differently, but the reality is, this is not my time.”

Jindal, 44, whose term as Louisiana’s chief executive ends in January, said he will return to the think tank he founded, America Next, after he leaves office.

When he was elected in 2007, Jindal, a former congressman and official in the George W. Bush administration, was one of America’s youngest governors and was considered to be a rising star in the GOP.

But amid a budget crisis in Baton Rouge, Jindal saw his approval ratings back home plunge, and he was unable to get out of the low single digits in polling of the crowded Republican presidential field.

Jindal had been relegated to the second tier in the first three GOP debates.

Jindal becomes the second Southern Republican to exit the race, joining former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who left in September.

The remaining candidates are U.S. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and former governors Jeb Bush of Florida, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Jim Gilmore of Virginia.

Rick Perry bows out of 2016 White House race with veiled shot at Trump

Former Texas governor says “no room” for “nativist appeals” in GOP race

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

texas mugST. LOUIS (CFP) — Four months before the first vote is cast, former Texas Governor Rick Perry has suspended his campaign for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination — but not before taking a veiled blast at front-runner Donald Trump over his negative comments about Latino immigrants.

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry

“We cannot indulge nativist appeals that divide the nation further,” Perry said, without mentioning Trump by name. “There is no room for debate that denigrates certain people based on their heritage or their origin.”

“We can secure the border of this country and reform our immigration system without inflammatory rhetoric … Demeaning people of Hispanic heritage is not just ignorant, it betrays the example of Christ.”

Perry, who has languished near the bottom of the polls in the crowded GOP field, announced the end of his campaign September 11 in an appearance before the Eagle Forum, a conservative women’s group. The decision to drop out came after news reports that his campaign no longer had enough money to pay staff.

Saying “some things have become clear to me,” Perry went on to laud what he termed “a tremendous field of candidates.”

“I step aside knowing our party’s in good hands as long as we listen to the grassroots, listen to the cause of conservatism,” he said.

Perry, 65, a former Air Force officer who was a cotton farmer in West Texas before getting into politics, left office in January after serving 14 years as governor, the longest tenure in the state’s history.

This was his second try for the White House. He ran in 2012, entering the campaign as one of the favorites only to see his stock plummet after a series of of gaffes, including a moment in a debate when he could not remember the name of a federal agency he had previously pledged to abolish. He later blamed his faltering performance on lack of preparation and the aftereffects of back surgery.

Perry had hoped for political redemption in the 2016 race, but his candidacy never caught fire in the polls. He was one of the most outspoken critics of Trump, particularly over his assertions that many illegal migrants from Mexico were  criminals.

Perry was one of nine Southern Republicans seeking the nomination. The other candidates are U.S. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina; former governors Jeb Bush of Florida, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Jim Gilmore of Virginia; and Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

The lone Southern seeking the Democratic nomination is former U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia.

Watch video of Perry’s withdrawal announcement:

Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb enters 2016 Democratic race with shot at Hillary Clinton

Webb, who left the Senate in 2012, says Americans “need to shake the hold” of political elites

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

virginia mugRICHMOND (CFP) — Saying the United States “needs a fresh approach to solving the problems that confront us and too often unnecessarily divide us,” former U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia has announced that he will seek the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb

Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb

“I understand the odds, particularly in today’s political climate where fair debate is so often drowned out by huge sums of money,” Webb said in a message announcing his candidacy posted on his campaign website July 2. “Our fellow Americans need proven, experience leadership that can be trusted to move us forward.”

In his opening campaign salvo, Webb positioned himself as an outsider in the race, noting that “more than one candidate in this process intends to raise at least a billion dollars.”

“Highly paid political consultants are working to shape the ‘messaging’ of every major candidate,” he said. “We need to shake the hold of these shadow elites on our political process.”

Webb also took a direct swipe at the Democratic frontrunner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for her initial support of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which Webb publicly opposed.

“Let me assure you, as president, I would not have urged an invasion of Iraq,” Webb said. “I warned in writing five months before that invasion that we do not belong as an occupying power in that part of the world and that this invasion would be a strategic blunder of historic proportions.”

When she ran for president in 2008, Clinton defended her vote authorizing the use of military force in Iraq — a vote which was used against her with great effect by Barack Obama. But in a 2014 book, she conceded that her vote was a mistake.

Webb also said he would have opposed military intervention in Libya in 2011 — which Obama authorized and Clinton supported as secretary of state — and that the subsequent terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi on her watch “was inevitable.”

Webb, 69, is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who served in Vietnam and was the secretary of the Navy during the Reagan administration. In 2006, he won a surprise victory to the Senate, narrowly ousting incumbent Republican George Allen in an election in which anti-war sentiment lifted Democratic fortunes.

In the Senate, Webb was considered a centrist who frequently bucked the party line, including an assertion that Obamacare would be a “disaster” for the Democratic Party. In 2012, facing the prospect of a contentious rematch with Allen, he decided not to run for re-election and left the Senate after a single term.

More recently, Webb sounded a cautionary note on the renewed drive to remove the Confederate battle emblem in the wake of the Charleston church shootings, saying in a Facebook post that “we all need to think through these issues with a care that recognizes the need for change but also respects the complicated history of the Civil War.”

“The Confederate Battle Flag has wrongly been used for racist and other purposes in recent decades. It should not be used in any way as a political symbol that divides us.”

Recent national polls have shown Webb’s support for the Democratic nomination in single digits, well behind Clinton and second-place U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

In the message launching his campaign, Webb touted his sponsorship in the Senate of a GI Bill providing benefits to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan and his support for reform of the criminal justice system.

“It’s costing us billions of dollars. It’s wasting lives, often beginning at a very early age, creating career criminals rather than curing them. It’s not making our neighborhoods safer,” he said.

Like a number of other presidential contenders in both parties, Webb also sounded a note of economic populism.

“Let’s work to restore true economic fairness in this great country, starting with finding the right formula for growing our national economy while making our tax laws more balanced and increasing the negotiating leverage of our working people,” he said. “Our goal will be to increase the financial stability of the American workforce.”

Webb also said he would “work toward bringing the complex issue of immigration reform to a solution that respects the integrity of our legal traditions, while also recognizing the practical realities of a system that has been paralyzed by partisan debate.”

Webb is the only Southerner among the five candidates seeking the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, although Clinton was a resident of Arkansas before moving to New York to run for the Senate in 2000.

Eight Southerners are seeking the Republican nomination: U.S. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina; former governors Jeb Bush of Florida, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Rick Perry of Texas; and Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal opens White House bid pledging “never to lead from behind”

Jindal touts his record, says Republicans “must stop being afraid to lose”

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

louisiana mugKENNER, Louisiana (CFP) — Taking a swipe at both Democratic “socialism” and a Republican Party that he says has been “beaten into submission,” Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal launched his campaign for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination by calling himself a “doer,” not a “talker.”

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

“There are a lot of great talkers running for president. But none of them — not one — can match our record of actually shrinking the size of government,” Jindal said in his June 24 kickoff rally in Kenner, a New Orleans suburb. “I’m not running for president to be somebody. I’m running for president to do something.”

“If you want somebody who’s just going to pretend that everything is fine, just make some small tweaks, then you want somebody else. I’ll make this promise to you. I will never lead from behind.”

Jindal, 44, is in the last year of his second term as the Pelican State’s chief executive. He touted his record as governor in his opening address, noting that he took office just two years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.

“Our economy was locked in a downward spiral. Our biggest city was reeling. For 25 straight years, more people had left this state than had moved into it,” he said. “Louisiana was in big trouble, so we had to make big changes.”

Among the achievements Jindal cited were education reform, particularly in New Orleans where the entire school system was converted into charter schools, and a 26 percent reduction in the state’s budget.

“It wasn’t easy. The big government crowd fought us every step of the way,” he said. “But in the end, we won.”

However, Jindal had to delay his widely anticipated presidential campaign while Louisiana’s legislature struggled to close a massive budget deficit that the governor’s critics blame on his refusal to consider tax increases to offset sharp declines in revenues from oil production.

Those budget problems have taken a toll on Jindal’s popularity, with a poll in March putting his approval rating at just 27 percent.

Jindal, a Rhodes scholar, was something of a wunderkind in Louisiana politics, becoming head of the state health department at the tender age of 24 and president of the University of Louisiana System at just 28. He was appointed assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the administration of President George W. Bush.

Jindal left the Bush administration to run unsuccessfully for governor in 2003. In 2004, he was elected to the U.S. House, representing a suburban New Orleans district until his election as governor in 2007.

In the opening speech of his presidential campaigns, Jindal signaled that he plans to run as an unvarnished conservative who would cut the size of government and defend religious liberty.

“Republicans must stop being afraid to lose,” he said. “If we try to hide who we are again, we will lose again.”

Jindal took a direct shot at one of his chief GOP rivals, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, by lampooning Bush’s assertion that GOP candidates “need to be willing to lose the primary in order to win the general election.”

“We’re going to help him do that,” Jindal said. “What Jeb Bush is saying is we need to hide our conservative ideals … Let’s do something new. Let’s endorse our own principles for a change. Let’s boldly speak the truth without fear.”

In recent months, Jindal, the son of Indian immigrants who converted to Roman Catholicism as a teenager, has been courting religious conservatives, particularly with his outspoken opposition to same-sex marriage. In his campaign kickoff, he charged that Christianity “is under assault today in America.”

“I want to say this slowly so that even Hillary Clinton can understand this — America did not create religious liberty. Religious liberty created the United States of America,” he said.

Jindal — whose given name is Piyush and who, if elected, would be the nation’s first Indian-American president — also lashed out at “all this talk about hyphenated Americans.”

“We are not Indian-Americans, African-Americans, Irish-Americans, rich Americans or poor Americans. We are all Americans.”

Jindal also leveled a broadside against President Obama, saying “this president and his apprentice-in-waiting, Hillary Clinton, are leading America down the path to destruction economically, culturally and internationally.”

“The simple fact is they are trying to turn the American dream into socialism.”

Jindal said his four main objectives as president would be to secure the border, replace Obamacare with a market-based health care system, cut the size of government and improve “America’s defenses.”

Jindal is one of eight Southern Republicans seeking the presidency in 2016. In addition to Bush and Jindal, the other Southern candidates are former governors Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Rick Perry of Texas and U.S. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

The Southern GOP field is divided equally between senators and governors. Two of the last three Republicans elected president — George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan — served as governor, while the last GOP senator elected to the presidency was Warren Harding in 1920.

On the Democratic side, former U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia has launched an exploratory committee for the 2016 Democratic nomination — a race that’s expected to be dominated by former Secretary of State Clinton, a former first lady of Arkansas who went on to be elected to the Senate from New York.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush kicks off 2016 presidential campaign

The brother and son of former presidents says no one deserves White House “by right”

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

florida mugMIAMI (CFP) — Arguing that the United States is “on a very bad course,” former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has announced his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, saying Democrats are trying “to hold on to power, to slog on with the same agenda under another name.”

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush

“We will take command of our future once again in this country. We will lift our sights again, make opportunity common again, get events in the world moving our way again,” Bush said at a June 15 rally at Miami-Dade Community College.

“We will take Washington — the static capital of this dynamic country — out of the business of causing problems. We will get back on the side of free enterprise and free people.”

Bush, the son and brother of presidents, also tried to put a bit of distance between himself and his famous family name, saying “not a one of us deserves the job by right of resume, party, seniority, family or family narrative.”

“It’s nobody’s turn. It’s everybody’s test, and it’s wide open — exactly as a contest for president should be,” he said. “The outcome is entirely up to you, the voters.”

At the rally, the Bush campaign unveiled its logo, which features the word “Jeb” followed by an exclamation point — with no mention of his last name.

Bush also delivered part of his opening speech in Spanish, and his campaign website is in both English and Spanish — nods to Latino voters who in recent elections have trended Democratic.

Bush’s wife, Columba, whom he married in 1974, was born in Mexico, which he jokingly described as part of his “cross-border outreach.”

Bush, 62, served two terms as governor of the Sunshine State from 1999 to 2007. He was mentioned as a candidate for president in 2012 but opted not to run.

In his opening address, he touted his record as governor, noting that during his time in Tallahassee, Florida topped the nation in job creation and taxes were cut every year he was in office.

“A self-serving attitude can take hold in any capital, just as it once did in Tallahassee,” he said. “I was a governor who refused to accept that as the normal or right way of conducting the people’s business. I will not accept it as the standard in Washington. We don’t need another president who merely holds the top spot among the pampered elites of Washington.”

While not mentioning any of his Republican opponents by name, Bush took a strong swipe at Democrats, attacking the “phone-it-in foreign policy” of the “Obama-Clinton-Kerry team” and saying the opposition has “offered a progressive agenda that includes everything but progress.”

“They are responsible for the slowest economic recovery ever, the biggest debt increases ever, a massive tax increase on the middle class, the relentless buildup of the regulatory state and the swift, mindless downturn of a military that was generations in the making,” he said.

And in a remark that drew strong applause from Cuban-American Republicans in the audience, he criticized Obama for considering making a state visit to Communist Cuba.

“We don’t need a glorified tourist to go to Havana in support of a failed Cuba,” he said. “We need an American president to go to Havana in solidarity with a free Cuban people, and I am ready to be that president.”

Bush also steered clear of two issues that have caused him heartburn with the GOP’s Tea Party base — immigration reform and the Common Core educational standards, both of which he supports.

Bush is one of eight Southern Republicans who have launched, or are expected to launch, presidential bids in 2016.

Those already in the race include former governors Mike Huckabee and Rick Perry of Texas and U.S. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana expected to announce his candidacy soon, now that his state’s legislature has adjourned for the year.

The Southern GOP field is divided equally between senators and governors. Two of the last three Republicans elected president — George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan — served as governor, while the last GOP senator elected to the presidency was Warren Harding in 1920.

On the Democratic side, former U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia has already launched an exploratory committee for the 2016 Democratic nomination — a race that’s expected to be dominated by former Secretary of State Clinton, a former first lady of Arkansas who went on to be elected to the Senate from New York.

Watch the video of Bush’s campaign kickoff:

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