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Kudlow Plans Senate Bid Decision by February

Kudlow Plans Senate Bid Decision by February
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By Sunday, 03 January 2016 06:51 PM Current | Bio | Archive

As Connecticut Republicans increasingly hope he will say yes to a U.S. Senate race in 2016, conservative TV and radio host Larry Kudlow told Newsmax he will make a decision on whether to challenge Democrat Sen. Richard Blumenthal "before the end of February."

In an exclusive interview with Newsmax, Redding resident Kudlow, 68, came the closest he has so far to becoming a full-fledged candidate.

Best known as a spirited champion of smaller government and slashing tax rates, the onetime Reagan administration deputy budget director told us that the issue that motivates him the most to run is the war on terror.

"The war against ISIS is the great issue of our time," said Kudlow, widely known for his long-running "The Kudow Report" on CNBC and his nationally-syndicated radio show. "ISIS wants to destroy America and it is in cahoots with the groups that want to destroy Israel. But we must destroy ISIS.

"It burns in me we have a mediocre, left-leaning senator agreeing with Obama that ‘global warming is the issue of our time.' And whatever skills I have, I will use them to run a scathing campaign on this issue."

He said he has interviewed potential media consultants and campaign managers ("lots of 'em") and would be prepared for a full-blown race should he decide next month that he'll throw his hat in the ring.

The genesis of a possible Senate bid was, he recalled, a meeting at the Harvard Club in New York City six months ago that included veteran pollster Kellyanne Conaway, and National Republican Senatorial Committee Executive Director Ward Baker.

According to Kudlow, he had previously considered a possible Senate bid from New York but "we spent about 6½ minutes on that before Ward Baker began discussing the possibility of my running against Blumenthal in Connecticut."

Since that meeting, as word that the conservative commentator might take on Blumenthal, enthusiasm among Republican activists in the Nutmeg State has mushroomed.

"There is considerable talk from Republican legislators and others at the state capitol," State Sen. Tony Guglielmo, GOP dean of the Senate, told me, "and it's all positive—real positive."

Guglielmo's sentiments were echoed by former State Republican Chairman Dick Foley, who told us "if Larry makes the race, he can not only count on money from reliable Republican donors, but on grass-roots activists who know him and are ready to go to war on his behalf."

Foley was referring to the fact that, along with being something of a celebrity from cable television news and talk radio, Kudlow has been a fixture as guest speaker at Lincoln Day dinners throughout Connecticut's 169 towns. He has also been featured at the state party's annual banquet named for the late U.S. Sen. Prescott Bush, a Connecticut Republican and father of former President George H.W. Bush.

To a Republican attempting to unseat a Democratic senator, Connecticut's modern political history is intimidating. Along with Democrats holding every statewide office since 2010 and all five of the U.S. House seats since 2008, the Nutmeg State last elected a Republican senator in '82, when liberal GOP Sen. Lowell Weicker won his third and final term.

The last time a Republican challenger ousted a Democratic senator was 1952, when William Purtell, businessman and conservative outsider, defeated Sen. William Benton. (In 1970, Weicker won the seat of Democratic Sen. Thomas Dodd, but Dodd had bolted the Democratic Party to run as an independent and finished third behind Weicker and Democratic nominee Joseph Duffey).

"But the political history can change because the war on terror is an American issue and not a partisan issue," countered Kudlow, "If I run, I plan to go to Democratic town committee meetings—if I can get in—and just tell them how Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, [the late Washington Sen.] Henry Jackson, and [former Connecticut Sen.] Joe Lieberman would never vote the way Blumenthal is when it came to a threat to the U.S."

The potential GOP candidate specifically pointed to Blumenthal's procedural vote in favor of the Iran nuclear deal and "his hard work in favor of expediting the flow of Syrian refugees to the U.S.—and doing so through the United Nations. He actually argued that one interview with the UN was enough to bring refugees to the U.S.—unbelievable!"

In a state where most winning Republicans have downplayed or even changed their stand on abortion from pro-life to pro-choice, Kudlow, a convert to Roman Catholicism, says he is "strongly pro-life" and "after 28 years of marriage, I favor traditional marriage."

But, he quickly added, "I am for equal rights for all" and he proudly recalled that he was keynote speaker at the 2014 national dinner of the Log Cabin Republicans, which advocates for equal rights for LGBT people.

To no one's surprise, Kudlow said that, if he became a candidate, he would campaign hard on his signature issue of lowering tax rates across the board.

"I would fight to see corporate tax rates lowered to 15 percent and the personal income tax rates lowered to somewhere between 15 and 20 percent for everybody," said Kudlow, who has a book on John Kennedy's tax cuts coming out this summer. "I want the lady who owns a shop in Naugatuck to have the same tax rates as General Electric."

On the issue of tax rates and regulation, Kudlow added, Blumenthal "has always been my opposite number, in Washington and in Connecticut. As senator, he consistently fought for higher taxes and as state attorney general, he was a regulator who was key to driving business from our state."

Kudlow also freely discussed his well-publicized bouts with alcoholism and cocaine addiction, which nearly destroyed his career as well as his marriage two decades ago.

"My life's an open book on those two things," he said. "I hit rock bottom in 1995 and by God's grace and the support of my wife, Judy, and it will be 21 years in '16 that I have been sober and clean."

Given the wide range of issues and political as well as personal matters he discussed,could he be considered an all-but-certain candidate for the Senate?

"Sorry, but you knew very well when you called I wasn't going to give you a scoop — not now, anyway" Kudlow laughed.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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As Connecticut Republicans increasingly hope he will say yes to a U.S. Senate race in 2016, conservative TV and radio host Larry Kudlow told Newsmax he will make a decision on whether to challenge Democrat Sen. Richard Blumenthal before the end of February.
kudlow, close, run, senate
Sunday, 03 January 2016 06:51 PM
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