Category: Newfront

March 15, 2018 Lawrence Polaski 0 Comments

The French government on Monday awarded its highest honor to a 100-year-old Kentucky man who fought in World War II.

Retired Lt. Col. William Pollard was awarded the French Legion of Honor during a ceremony at the Kentucky Capitol. Consul General of France Guillaume Lacroix pinned the medal on Pollard, calling him “a true French hero.”

“You owe so much to America’s greatest generation,” Lacroix said. “The American people changed everything … Without this gentleman, my flag would not be flying. It’s as simple as that.”

Pollard was 25 in 1944 when he landed on Omaha Beach, the code name for a portion of shoreline during the Allied invasion of German-occupied France. As was one of the first soldiers to arrive, his job was to deploy concrete caissons that would form a temporary harbor to help soldiers rapidly load cargo onto the beach.

Pollard’s son, William Pollard Jr., said his father helped rescue 14 soldiers from a caisson after it was hit by enemy fire. Pollard said his father and a sergeant got the men safely to shore, having to coax some soldiers who were frozen with fear at the prospect of jumping into the 40-feet-deep (12-meter-deep) water.

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said her office assisted Pollard in receiving the award. She noted his career included advancing into Germany with Gen. George Patton. She said his career included a scalp wound, which was later patched by a nurse.

“You represent the best of Kentucky,” Grimes said.

In a written statement read by his son, Pollard Sr. said he was honored to receive the award, thanking his late wife and the soldiers he served with.

“Today I am both happy and sad,” he said. “My thoughts today are with her and with my comrades from many years ago.”

The Legion of Honor was founded in 1802 by Napoleon, the French emperor. Today, Guillaume said it can only be awarded by the country’s elected president.

Pollard was born and raised in Lockport, Kentucky, a small town along the banks of the Kentucky River. He had an extensive military career, which also included running an orphanage in Korea near the end of the Korean War. Pollard Jr. said his father never spoke much about his war experience until 1994, during a trip to France to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Normandy invasion.

He said several people who knew his father said he should be nominated for the French Legion of Honor. He said it took about 15 months to get it approved.

“It’s a wonderful culmination of a lot of my questioning,” Pollard Jr. said.

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February 8, 2018 Lawrence Polaski 0 Comments

Digital advertising played a key role in midterm battleground races, offering a lesson for potential presidential contenders in 2020, according to one of the largest outside Democratic groups.

“You’re going to have to have an organization that speaks directly to voters on their phones and their computers,” said Guy Cecil, chairman of Priorities USA, which spearheaded much of the party’s digital effort during the recent midterm elections. “If the presidential candidates do not have that as a central part of their operation, they will not win.”

Democrats are trying to draw in new voters who are young, diverse, and college educated. But at a time when cord-cutting millennials and their parents alike are spending more time online, the party remains disproportionately committed to TV advertising, strategists say, a dynamic that could complicate those efforts.

“Who is watching broadcast television, who is watching Wheel of Fortune, who is watching Jeopardy? They are older, white and they tend to not be Democratic voters,” said Tim Lim, who worked on the campaigns of former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and is now a fellow at Georgetown’s Institute of Politics. “By focusing so much on broadcast TV ads, we are missing crucial audiences to talk to.”

But it is not just about how much is spent online; it is about how that money is spent.

While Democrats have been wildly successful at using online advertising to rake in millions in donations and build email contact lists from their base, they have lagged behind Republicans when it comes to winning over new or on-the-fence voters in the digital space, operatives in both parties say.

A spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee did not respond to a request for comment. However, there are signs the party is making improvements.

One bright spot for Democrats was Priorities’ $6.3-million digital effort that supported Senator-elect Kyrsten Sinema’s victory over GOP Rep. Martha McSally in Arizona, a red state that has shown signs of trending toward Democrats.

The goal was driving up overall turnout, with an additional focus on several key demographic groups, including Latinos and whites without a college degree. One set of slickly produced “social pressure” and motivational ads featured a diverse group of actors making the argument for why voting matters.

At the same time, a separate prong of the campaign was aimed at reducing support for a Green Party candidate who later dropped out and endorsed Sinema — a late-breaking development that was highlighted in online ads.

As evidence the campaign helped, Priorities noted in a memo provided to The Associated Press that turnout was up overall and Sinema performed better than Democrats in the recent past with the groups that were targeted.

“We have definitely closed the gap from the previous cycle, but it doesn’t mean we’re entirely there yet,” said Cecil, whose group spent roughly $50 million overall on digital advertising during the midterms.

Though Democrats are behind when it comes to online advertising, an aversion to big spending on digital is not entirely unique to them when compared to the corporate world. While hard numbers are difficult to come by, both parties tend to spend vastly less than is common among corporate advertising clients, where digital spending averages around 40 percent — more than what is normally spent on TV.

It is also hard to tell how the parties are spending their online advertising dollars because much of the publicly available data does not differentiate between ads geared toward fundraising and email list building versus ads aimed at winning over voters.

Still, there are some broader trends that can be looked at.

After being outspent by Republicans on Facebook in 2016, Democratic campaigns and aligned outside groups had outspent Republicans by more than a 2-to-1 margin on the platform as of last month, according to Facebook data compiled by Democratic digital advertising firm Bully Pulpit International.

“Facebook is the best platform for lead generation and digital fundraising, which explains why Democrats are using it to channel the outrage of their base into email addresses and donations,” said Michael Duncan, a partner and digital strategist at the Republican firm Cavalry LLC. “But when it comes to persuasion (of undecided voters), video overall — and Google specifically — are better platforms.”

That’s where Republicans have outspent Democrats.

A late onslaught of digital spending by a slew of outside progressive groups during the closing weeks of the midterms narrowed Republicans’ spending advantage on Google from 1.65-to-1 down to 1.18, according to data compiled by Bully Pulpit.

But Democrat’s online spending figures are also skewed by the candidacy of Beto O’Rourke, a West Texas congressman who unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Ted Cruz. O’Rourke shattered records, raising more than $70 million. He spent more than $8 million on Facebook ads and $1.8 million on Google, according to disclosures by both companies.

Republicans say they used to be where Democrats are now. Then, after the GOP lost the 2012 presidential race, the Republican National Committee mandated that the party devote serious resources to digital advertising.

Now they sit atop a sophisticated, data-driven digital enterprise that is updated in real time and can micro-target voters based on specific issues.

“We’re getting to the point where digital has the scale of television with the targeting of direct mail,” said Duncan, the Republican strategist. “There are all sorts of ways you can slice and dice a voter file, match it to profiles online and serve ads.”

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January 2, 2018 Lawrence Polaski 0 Comments

Even before they announce their White House intentions, New Hampshire’s ambitious neighbors are in the midst of a shadow campaign to shape the nation’s first presidential primary election of the 2020 season.

Democrats on the ground expect a rush of presidential announcements soon after New Year’s. That could include as many as five high-profile candidates from neighboring states, a historically large contingent of New Englanders led by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Both have quietly begun courting potential staff, top activists and elected officials.

At the same time, outsiders like New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker are fighting for a foothold in the state, which will hold tremendous power in the selection of the next Democratic presidential nominee.

He has not publicly declared his intention to run, but Booker already has the backing of former President Barack Obama’s New Hampshire co-chairman Jim Demers, who raised concerns about the home-turf advantage for several prospective Democratic contenders already jockeying for position from neighboring states.

“I do think that it is an obstacle for other candidates,” Demers said. “History is on the side of the neighbors.”

Leading New Hampshire Democrats have already raised the possibility of dual winners emerging in the all-important expectations game over the coming year — one for the New Englanders and another for the many outsiders in what is expected to be a massive group of Democrats running for the chance to deny President Donald Trump a second term.

Historically, no state has played a more important role in culling the presidential field than New Hampshire, which traditionally holds the nation’s first primary contest following the Iowa caucuses. Typically, a candidate must win — or, just as important, exceed expectations — to earn the necessary political support and fundraising to sustain the grueling state-by-state primary trek ahead.

“This may break into two primaries: the fight between the next-door neighbors and the others,” said Terry Shumaker, a prominent backer of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s New Hampshire campaigns.

History suggests that geography matters.

Virtually every time a New Englander has run in a New Hampshire Democratic primary dating back to John F. Kennedy in 1960, a New Englander has won. All but two have gone on to win the party’s presidential nomination.

The primary winners include Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis; Massachusetts Sen. Paul Tsongas, who beat Bill Clinton in 1992; Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry; and Sanders, who defeated Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire’s 2016 contest. Only Tsongas and Sanders failed to win the party nomination.

Kerry, who served as secretary of state in the Obama administration, has not ruled out a 2020 run. Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Massachusetts congressman Seth Moulton are more actively considering bids.

Aides to all five prospects, speaking on condition of anonymity to share internal discussions, conceded that presidential runs were possible, if not likely.

Sanders, 77, is considering a 2020 bid, a senior aide said. He is expected to make a final decision before Christmas, though an announcement is not expected until after New Year’s.

Sanders’ team has been in regular contact with former staff and its broad base of supporters in New Hampshire and elsewhere, in addition to reaching out to some former Clinton backers. Should he run, the team sees Sanders with the biggest head start in New Hampshire of any candidate.

Warren did not visit New Hampshire ahead of the midterms, but she quietly dispatched staff to help Democrats there while hosting at least one private fundraiser for the New Hampshire Democratic Party in Boston. She made close to 150 calls to top Democratic candidates in recent days, both midterm winners and losers, including several in New Hampshire.

Like other 2020 prospects in the Senate, Warren, 69, is unlikely to make any announcements before Congress passes a new spending bill to avoid a government shutdown in early December. And while she hasn’t made any formal staffing moves yet, former chief of staff Dan Geldon and former Massachusetts state director Roger Lau, who is well-versed in New Hampshire, are expected to be part of her presidential team should she run.

Patrick, who served as Massachusetts’ governor from 2007 to 2015, has few formal political connections to New Hampshire, but he enjoys greater name recognition than most because New Hampshire’s most populous regions share the Boston television market.

Former Obama aides including Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod have encouraged a Patrick 2020 bid from afar. The 62-year-old African-American former governor ramped up political travel in the final weeks of the midterm elections, making appearances in South Carolina, Florida and Mississippi.

Two former Patrick aides have independently launched the “Reason to Believe” political action committee and begun courting prospective staff in early voting states.

Two-term Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, whose district borders New Hampshire, is also seriously contemplating a run. While he may lack the renown of some of his rivals, the 40-year-old former Marine captain has shown little deference to his political elders, emerging as a leading critic of top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi.

Closing out the list, Kerry has repeatedly refused to rule out a second bid when asked publicly. He is wrapping up a national book tour, but there is no sign he is taking steps to lay the groundwork for a serious run.

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley issued a warning, as New Hampshire officials often do, for any candidate who may be thinking about skipping New Hampshire and focusing on other early-voting states. Top Democrats in the state have noticed, for example, that California Sen. Kamala Harris has been active in Iowa and South Carolina, but has largely ignored New Hampshire so far.

“People have tried that before and it’s never worked,” Buckley said.

Liz Purdy, who led Clinton’s New Hampshire efforts, offered a simple solution for non-New Englanders concerned about their competitors’ geographic advantage.

“One thing that New Hampshire rewards is that hard work of meeting people, listening to them, answering questions, and anyone can do that,” she said. “As long as they’re willing to put in the work, anyone can win here.”

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