NOT SO HILARIOUS
Alas, “Operation Hilarity” was not so hilarious. The expensive, expansive effort to persuade Democrats to vote for Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum in the Michigan primary included everyone from Michael Moore and Moveon.org to the Michigan Democratic Party. To their chagrin, Mitt Romney won anyway. His nimble campaign already has made choice observations about Democratic frustration. But they also expect the shenanigans to continue.
“Now that Mitt Romney has won in Michigan and Arizona, the Obama campaign will bring its ‘Kill Romney’ strategy to the next level,” predicts Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg.
There’s some strong sentiment out there.
“This GOP circus isn’t over yet, but you can bet on this: The nominee will be an extremist and out of touch,” says Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, in a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraising message. “He will oppose birth control. He will give tax breaks to multibillionaires. ... These right-wing Republicans need to lose, and lose badly.”
“A victory in Michigan for Rick Santorum would have emboldened many Democrats. And if their strategy didn’t work this time, there efforts will likely be diminished. But there’s always some of them left who will still try the same tactics,” Republican strategist Ron Bonjean tells Inside the Beltway. Thursday when the Senate votes on a motion to table Sen. Roy Blunt’s “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act.” The Missouri Republican’s legislation would exempt religiously affiliated employers from offering health insurance plans that include birth control. Things will be particularly complicated in the wake of conflicting press rumors that Mitt Romney does not support Mr. Blunt’s bill. The answer: He does support it.
Meanwhile, Democrats frame the legislation as a prime example of the “Republican attack on women.” Republicans counter that Mr. Obama’s mandate is an attack on First Amendment rights. A battalion of conservatives, meanwhile, are ready to rumble, and now say they “will not rest until the mandate is rescinded.”
Among the many ready for battle: Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America; Brian Burch, president of Catholicvote.org; Carrie Severino, chief counsel of the Judicial Crisis Network; former Reagan administration heavyweight Edwin Meese III, and Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
“We are here to advocate for basic religious freedom. I don’t give a rip what gender is speaking about religious freedom, as long as somebody is talking about it,” says Maggie Karner, director of health ministries for the Lutheran Church of Missouri.
“This debate is not about contraception. Nobody is advocating for denial of access. Nobody is threatening women’s health. Nobody is outlawing anything for the general population,” she continues. “This debate is simply about us being forced to pay for products and services contrary to our religious beliefs. We cannot be expected to check our faith at the door.”
Sen. Roy Blunt