“The debate is over about whether people are out there that are non U.S. citizens who registered to vote. They have. There’s no debate about whether they’ve voted. They have. There’s no debate that they can impact elections. They can.”
-- Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla., on “Your World with Neil Cavuto”
Even as Attorney General Eric Holder was pleading with Senate Republicans for a compromise on a looming contempt of Congress vote over an alleged cover-up of a botched gunrunning sting, he was preparing to open a new front in his battle with the GOP.
Holder’s agency moved Tuesday to block Florida from an ongoing effort to purge voter rolls of dead people and non-citizens. The federal lawsuit warns of voter disenfranchisement from Florida’s effort to crosscheck a list of more than 2,600 potentially ineligible registered voters produced by public safety officials against county registration records.
This is just the latest effort by Holder to stop Republican governors and state lawmakers from cracking down on voter fraud, warning that the efforts in states like Texas and South Carolina to require voters to show identification could wipe out significant gains of the civil rights movement against “Jim Crow.”
But President Obama isn’t going to win Texas or South Carolina. Holder’s interventions against those states and insistence that southern states still need special restrictions and supervision by his agency 47 years after the Voting Rights Act was passed, has a limited political currency.
The value of these lawsuits and of Holder’s heated rhetoric is mostly related to re-energizing black and Hispanic voters, especially older ones who have misgivings about Obama’s social liberalism but can still recall the era of segregation.
But when the discussion moves to a swing state like Florida, the stakes go way up.
No state is better known for close elections and voter shenanigans than the Sunshine State, having been host to the matter of Bush v. Gore. Consider this: the number of voters on the Florida list of potential ineligibles is about 5 times as many ballots as separated George W. Bush and Al Gore 12 years ago.
Florida has tilted right since Obama’s 2008 victory there, electing conservative Republican Rick Scott as governor and giving the GOP majorities in both houses of the state legislature. And like most conservatives, the new GOP majority was interested in zapping voter fraud.
Whatever the philosophical views behind the moves in Florida and elsewhere, there’s a practical consideration for Republicans: Democrats are typically the ones who benefit from ineligible voters.
In Wisconsin, where a voter ID law is stuck in the courts, Republicans warn about out-of-state union members showing up and taking advantage of the state’s permissive same-day registration rules. In states like Virginia and Pennsylvania, the worry is over heavily Democratic inner-city precincts where ballot-box stuffing has been alleged.
In Florida, Republicans have long complained that Democrats get a boost from illicit ballots cast by illegal immigrants, especially in the state’s large and growing Haitian community.
Indeed, the Miami Herald found that 87 percent of those on the potential purge list were minorities. While Democrats say that this is evidence of Scott’s discriminatory aims, it is certainly evidence that if all those folks went to the polls, Democrats would be better off.
President Obama won nearly 60 percent of Florida’s Hispanic vote and 96 percent of the state’s black vote in 2008. Assuming he maintains similar numbers, there could be more than 1,000 potential Obama voters on Scott’s purge list.
Holder is already facing a growing chorus of calls for his resignation over a refusal to comply with subpoenas from House Republicans and is under increasing pressure for his handling of a torrent of national security leaks.
It might seem an inconvenient time to wade into a swing-state election battle on the side that would benefit his boss, but Holder is not one to back down to the GOP. It’s that tenacity that has made him a doyenne of the left and the most controversial member of Obama’s cabinet.
While the attorney general was publicly pleading for comity and compromise with Republican Senators, his actions later that sent a very different message: bring it on.
The Day in Quotes
"This notion that somehow we caused the deficits is just wrong. It's just not true. Anybody who looks at the math will tell you it's not true. If they start trying to give you a bunch of facts and figures suggesting that it's true, what they're not telling you is they baked all this stuff into the cake with those tax cuts and a prescription drug plan that they didn't pay for and the wars."
-- President Obama speaking to donors at a Baltimore fundraiser, blaming Republicans for high deficits during his term.
“We have confronted the Russians about stopping their continued arms shipments to Syria. They have, from time to time, said that we shouldn’t worry; everything they’re shipping is unrelated to their actions internally. That’s patently untrue.”
-- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a joint appearance with Israeli President Shimon Peres accusing Russia of supplying attack helicopters to the Assad regime in Syria.
“I want to make it very clear that I am offering – I myself – to sit down with the speaker, the chairman, with you, whoever, to try and work our way through this in an attempt to avoid a constitutional crisis, and come up with ways, creative ways, in which to make this material available.”
-- Attorney General Eric Holder to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"It would just seem to me the only logical conclusion is it shows how much respect and influence Gabby Giffords has in that community.”
-- Bruce Merrill, an Arizona political scientist, talking to the Arizona Republic about the reason that an aide to former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., was elected to serve out the final six months of her term, which she resigned after having been shot in the head by a deranged constituent.
“The last thing I'm going to do is advise the person who vanquished me, if you will."
-- Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., on CNN discussing being a potential running mate for Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
And Now, A Word From Charles
“I thought what we heard from the secretary of state was admission of complete impotence on our part in dealing with the Russians. All she can do is complain. Wasn't the administration policy, the reset policy, the much heralded reset policy, which was supposed to undue the drift and the coldness that they had said the Bush administration had introduced into our relations with Russia? Wasn't reset supposed to give us influence?”
-- Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News, and his POWER PLAY column appears Monday-Friday on FoxNews.com.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily "Fox News First" political news note and hosts "Power Play," a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including "The Kelly File," "Special Report with Bret Baier," and "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace." He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.