Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

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Tim Murphy is a senior reporter at Mother Jones. Email him with tips and insights at tmurphy@motherjones.com.

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Gun Owners Take On Newt Gingrich

| Mon Dec. 5, 2011 11:31 AM EST
Gingrich in the 1980s.

Now that's he's the front-runner in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, Newt Gingrich's 33-year-record is officially open for scrutiny. There are plenty of reasons why conservatives might reject the former Speaker of the House, but here's another one: guns. Georgia Gun Owners, a grassroots gun rights group from his home state, is now blasting Gingrich for "his more than two-decade history of supporting gun control." The group has asked its 6,000 members to call Gingrich's new Iowa headquarters and make their complaints known.

Per the release the group blasted out this morning:

While Newt used the institutional gun lobby as a mouthpiece to convince millions of gun owners nationwide that "as long as he is Speaker, no gun-control legislation is going to move in committee or on the House floor," he was working behind the scenes to pass gun control.

In 1996, Newt Gingrich turned his back on gun owners and voted for the anti-gun Brady Campaign's Lautenberg Gun Ban, which strips the Second Amendment rights of citizens involved in misdemeanor domestic violence charges or temporary protection orders -- in some cases for actions as minor as spanking a child.

Gingrich also stood shoulder to shoulder with Nancy Pelosi to pass the "Criminal Safezones Act" which prevents armed citizens from defending themselves in certain arbitrary locations. Virtually all Americans know that Criminal Safezones don't protect law-abiding citizens, but actually protect the criminals who ignore them.

One of the problems with having a 33-year political career is that you accumulate a really long record of positions. It doesn't help Gingrich that he made his biggest impact in the '90s, when gun control and crime were much higher-profile issues than they are today. And as Elizabeth Drew recounts in her book Showdown, Gingrich viewed the gun lobby as a group that must be appeased, but it wasn't exactly his core constituency as Speaker.

An important caveat, though: If Gingrich is unappealing on guns, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is hardly a palatable alternative. A similar group in New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Firearms Coalition, has been handing out anti-Romney literature in the Granite State, touting (among other things) his support for a ban on assault weapons. If you're a hard-core Second Amendment rights activist, you likely cast your lot with Ron Paul a long time ago.

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Reporter Remembers the Most Awkward Mitt Romney Interview of All Time

| Sun Dec. 4, 2011 11:52 AM EST

This clip of then-Senate candidate Mitt Romney being interviewed by Medfield (Mass.) Cable 8 back in 1994 has been making the rounds. It's classic Romney, right down to his preferences for music: "I like music of almost any kind, including this." Boy, aren't bass lines great? I love tempo.

Take a look:

If you're wondering, "What ever happened to that Ken Cole kid?" we can report that he seems to have recovered completely from the awkwardness of this interview, as well as the supreme boredom of growing up in Medfield (incidentally, also my hometown). His first directing credit, Tornado Glory, tracked the antics of two Midwestern twister chasers for PBS, and he just completed his second project, a Bourne Supremacy-style mockumentary about IT workers. I sent him the clip; here's his reaction:

Herman Cain Suspends Presidential Campaign, Finally

| Sat Dec. 3, 2011 3:15 PM EST
Former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain.

So that happened.

Former restaurant industry lobbyist, talk-show host, motivational speaker, and Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain dropped out of the GOP presidential race at a rally in Atlanta on Saturday, citing "false" attacks on his character that prevented him from getting his message out. Cain, in a noticeably less caffeinated speech than has been his custom, alleged that "elites" and political reporters had conspired to take down his reputation. Cain's not exiting politics, though; he's moving on to what he repeatedly referred to as "Plan B"—a new website devoted to sharing his solutions for fixing America. 

The site, "Cain Solutions," is currently empty.

In the end, despite demonstrating a total lack of interest in the rest of the world, the intricacies of politics, or basic Constitutional principles, Cain was undone not by ignorance or even a parade of sexual harassment complaints, but by alleged infidelity. For many, the main question wasn't whether Cain would drop out today, but whether Gloria Cain would stand by her husband's side when he did it—she did, taking the stage to chants of "Gloria! Gloria!" from the crowd.

After spending much of his address chiding the political establishment for not taking him seriously, Cain closed the speech with an extended quote from the theme song to the Pokemon movie: "Life can be a challenge. Life can seem impossible. It’s never easy when there’s so much on the line. But you and I can make a difference. There’s a mission just for you and me." Sometimes you just can't catch 'em all.

The dream is dead. But what a journey it's been. Here's a guide to some of Cain's greatest (or not) hits:

Herman Cain's Latest Attempt at Damage Control is Amazing

| Fri Dec. 2, 2011 12:48 PM EST

Herman Cain's presidential campaign is all but over. The latest Des Moines Register poll puts his support in the critical early caucus state at just 8 percent—down 15 points from last month. Also: He's been accused of various forms of misconduct by a bipartisan coalition of five different women, ranging from alleged sexual assault to an alleged 13-year extramarital affair, somehow managing to make Newt Gingrich look like a family man in the process.

On Thursday night, Cain told Sean Hannity that he would decide whether or not to quit the race by Monday. On Friday, he decided the timing was perfect to launch a new website, "Women for Herman Cain." This is the logo:

What is this I don't even.What is this I don't even.If that seems like some sort of stock image, it's because it is. Here's the exact same shot in an ad for a South African sugar company ("pure sweetness," I'm told, was a rejected Cain campaign slogan). Here are those four women, in a photo titled "four happy young women with many colorful balloons." Here are those four same women, with balloons, but without birthday presents:

Courtesy of ShutterstockCourtesy of ShutterstockThe fact that these women can summon such enthusiasm for multicollored balloons sort of puts their energetic support for Cain in perspective.

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