Patrick Caldwell

Patrick Caldwell is a writing fellow at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Republican Hopefuls Focus on the Family

The country's shaky economic condition has dominated the Republican presidential primary conversation, but social issues will still rule the day for a portion of the GOP's base. This voting bloc may sway the outcome in two of the first three nominating states—Iowa and South Carolina—and poses the greatest threat to Mitt Romney's cakewalk path to gaining the nomination. Social conservatives finally got their first moment in the spotlight at a forum in Iowa over the weekend. The Thanksgiving Family Forum was hosted by Bob Vander Plaats, a major player in Iowa's evangelical scene who played an important role in organizing Mike Huckabee's winning 2008 campaign. All of the major figures of the campaign were in attendance except for Romney and Jon Huntsman. Abortion rights got their first true airing of the campaign, and, to no one's surprise, the candidates jumped out do one another in their opposition to women's rights (of course ignoring that, according to current Supreme Court precedent...

The Elephant in the Room

AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari
Mike Huckabee may have taken a pass on a second presidential run, but the 2008 Iowa winner turned Fox News televangelist still wants to have his say in this year's race. He's returning to Iowa—the state that defined him as more than just the Southern governor who lost all the weight—to co-host a forum with Citizens United next month. According to Politico , they have invited the eight major 2012 candidates, with abortion slotted as the primary topic of the event. Debates around choice have been strangely absent thus far in this year's presidential race. "Most of the candidates have addressed [abortion] in generic terms, but not real specific terms," says Steve Scheffler, president of the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition. "So I think a forum of this nature is a good thing, get them tied down a bit more." It was a major wedge issue in 2008, one that turned Iowa's social conservatives against Mitt Romney and derailed his entire campaign. Take this moment from an Iowa debate in 2007,...

Fixing the Courts

Rick Perry introduced a disastrous congressional reform plan earlier this week that has been rightfully ripped to shreds . Perry's plan would rewrite the constitution to turn Congress into a part-time body, opening the path to far more corruption, increasing the influence of lobbyists and money. We don't often praise the Texas governor here on Vox Pop, but he should be given credit where it is due, and somehow mixed in Perry's plan, which would be Jack Abramoff's dream government, was the most sensible policy proposal from a Republican candidate this year. Perry suggested a constitutional amendment that would end lifetime appointments for federal judges, including the nine justices on the Supreme Court. Here's how his plan puts it : There are a number of proposals which might be considered—one would be a Constitutional Amendment creating 18-year terms staggered every 2 years, so that each of the nine justices would be replaced in order of seniority every other year. This would be a...

Stick a Fork in Him

He's stumbled his way through nearly every debate, including one of the most uncomfortable moments ever seen in a modern debate. He started his campaign leading the polls, only to drop to the bottom of the field. He learned that religious moralizing doesn't forgive a slight divergence from the Tea Party line on immigration. Despite Mitt Romney's inability to win over social conservatives and the clownish makeup of the rest of the field, there is little reason to believe Rick Perry can still win the Republican nomination. Perry's only hope for a comeback was his massive fundraising apparatus, which was expected to easily dwarf any of the other candidates, save possibly Mitt Romney. He began using those funds to full effect after his "oops" hiccup at the debate last week, purchasing nearly $1 million in ads to run on Fox News nationally, and flooding the key early states with ads and mailers. But that advantage has now disappeared alongside his drop in the poll numbers. The Houston...

The Danger of Skipping an Early State

Terry Branstad and Bob Vander Plaats are two Iowans who rarely find themselves in agreement. They faced off in a bitter gubernatorial primary last year, essentially dividing the states' Republican Party into two competing camps. Branstad won that primary and later the general election, while Vander Plaats turned to judicial politics and has now crafted himself into a conservative rabble-rouser for the 2012 caucuses. Yet both found common cause in attacking Mitt Romney this week, criticizing the front-runner's decision to mostly avoid their home state. “Mitt Romney has dissed this base in Iowa and this diss will not stay in Iowa,” Vander Plaats said . “This has national tentacles. … This might prove that he is not smart enough to be president.” As the state's sitting governor, Branstad wasn't quite as direct, but expressed the same idea to Huffington Post . "I think he's going to have to put a real effort in here or he's going to be embarrassed," Branstad said . "He's trying to...

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