Political lesson of the week: Comparing poor people to wild animals is probably not a good idea.
Republican Gabriela Saucedo Mercer, challenging Democratic incumbent Raúl Grijalva in the new Congressional District 3, found that out after a post titled, "A lesson in Irony," appeared on her campaign Facebook page.
"The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is actually proud of the fact it is distributing the greatest amount of free meals and food stamps ever," the post says. "Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us to 'Please Do Not Feed the Animals.' Their stated reason for the policy is because the animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves. This ends today's lesson."
A day later, Saucedo Mercer removed it from her Facebook page and issued a non-apology apology on Monday, accusing the "left" of making a big deal out of it.
"I removed the post because I wanted the focus to get back on the real issue: The need for jobs to decrease dependency on government programs," Saucedo Mercer wrote.
The American dream is about success and independent achievements, she wrote, and if half the population is dependent on government entitlements the cycle of poverty will continue.
"It is ironic that the left go on a 'feeding frenzy' when they see a comment that they can spin and put their own analogy into it," Saucedo Mercer wrote. "The comment does not compare people on food stamps to wild animals. As I read it, it addresses an issue in which we need to focus on, instead of useless rhetoric."
Maybe Saucedo Mercer should have been paying closer attention last March when fellow Republican Minnesota state Rep. Mary Franson elevated herself to national attention, and not the good kind, for using the exact same "lesson in irony."
The source of this pearl of wisdom that landed the two GOPers in the soup?
Saucedo Mercer doesn't know where it came from. She posted a picture of a newspaper clipping with the "lesson" on her Facebook page, and with the note: "Below is the 'quote' that created all the 'negative comments,' " she wrote, adding, "I am sorry, I don't know who wrote it, so I cannot give the proper credit."
term limits? what term limits?
Old sound bites tend to live on forever for politicians, as Republican U.S. candidate Jeff Flake is realizing once again this summer.
GOP challenger, wealthy Mesa businessman Wil Cardon, is doing his best to make sure voters know about Flake's promise during his first run for Congress in 2000 he would only serve three terms. Flake stayed for six terms.
A Cardon TV ad features a video clip of Flake being asked about breaking the term limit and joking, "I lied. … I don't know what else to say."
The ad cites other issues Flake has flip-flopped on and argues that Flake is a "career politician we can't trust."
A chagrined Flake is not dodging questions about the broken pledge or video footage. At an event in SaddleBrooke this week, Flake explained the term-limit movement was still alive when he took office and was the "thing to do."
But, he said he quickly realized that it would take longer to get things done, and limiting his time in office was a mistake. His lengthy battle to end earmarks wouldn't have been effective had he left Congress in 2006, he said as an example.
He said the "I lied" footage is from an event where there were earlier jokes about politicians lying.
"I just played along with the joke, and it looks awful," Flake acknowledged.
When it comes to how long a politician should serve, he said, "I think it's best just to leave it to the voters."
If he wins the U.S. Senate seat, Flake will likely refrain from any term-limit talk. After all, it's a century-old tradition for Arizona senators to stay in office for a long, long time.
Only two of 10 U.S. senators in state history have served less than 12 years, and four have served for at least 24 years.
special election was pricey
The final totals are in on the big-money CD8 special election - nearly $4.6 million was spent on the truncated four-month race.
That includes money spent by Democrat Ron Barber; the man he defeated, Republican Jesse Kelly; and outside political committees such as the National Republican Congressional Committee. Barber and Kelly's spending figures were revealed this week in new reports with the Federal Election Commission.
The total nearly matches the $5.2 million spent during the full-blown 2010 CD8 campaign between U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Kelly, which included two years of fundraising and a year of spending.
It shows just how much was at stake in this special election in the Republican-leaning district.