Sure-Fire Ways to Rile Up the Republican Base This Year

A series of rotating Republican frontrunners has made clear which issues make their party's base squeal like tweens at a Justin Bieber concert.

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A series of rotating Republican frontrunners has made clear which issues make their party's base squeal like tweens at a Justin Bieber concert. Rick Perry, one of those poor souls embraced by voters only to be discarded for the next big thing, Herman Cain, is trying to make a comeback by adopting all of them. Our tally of the top issues that have riled up the Republican base thus far:

Birtherism and Transcriptism: In April, Donald Trump was at the top of some polls after demanding President Obama show his long form birth certificate. Obama eventually did, and Trump backed down, only to move on to another conspiracy theory related to Obama's illegitimacy: that he wasn't academically gifted enough to get into Harvard without the help of affirmative action. "The word is, according to what I’ve read, that he was a terrible student when he went to Occidental. He then gets to Columbia; he then gets to Harvard ... How do you get into Harvard if you're not a good student?" Trump said. This week, Perry is in the news bringing back birtherism and trsncriptism, saying:
"Look I haven't seen his, I haven't seen his grades. My grades ended up on the front page of the newspaper, so let's you know, if we're going to show stuff, let's show stuff, but look that's all a distraction, I mean I get it. I'm really not worried about the president's birth certificate. It's fun to poke at him a little bit and say, 'Hey, how about let's see your grades and your birth certificate.'"
Repealing Obamacare: Michele Bachmann rose to the top of polls in June with her strong debate performances in which she vowed to get rid of Obama's health care law. "I was the very first member of Congress to introduce a full-scale repeal of Obamacare," Bachmann said at a CNN debate. And I want to make a promise to everyone watching tonight: As president of the United States, I will not rest until I repeal Obamacare. It's a promise. Take it to the bank. Cash the check. I'll make sure that that happens." Bachmann, a member of Congress, is a little more realistic about how to go about getting rid of Obamacare than Perry , who says he'll use an executive order: "If I'm so fortunate to be elected the president of the United States, on Day One, when I walk into the Oval Office, there will be an executive order on that desk that eliminates as much of ObamaCare that I can have done with an executive order."
Not Raising the Debt Ceiling: Bachmann also proudly voted against raising the debt limit, which, if the rest of Congress had voted with her, would have caused economic catastrophe, economists said. "The motion does not go far enough in fundamentally restructuring the way Washington spends taxpayer dollars," Bachmann said of the bill to raise the limit. "Along with cutting spending, putting in place enforceable spending caps that put us on a path to balance and passing a balanced budget amendment, we must also repeal and defund ObamaCare." Perry's new tax plan is called the Cut, Balance, and Grow plan. He calls for a balanced budget amendment and cuts to federal spending.
Swag: This is what propelled Perry to the top of polls in August. Every single story written about him included references to Texas, shooting things, southern accents, or cowboy boots. Perry is keeping this, of course. Republican strategist Alex Castellanos told Politico, "Perry won't just go negative. He'll make your television bleed and beg for mercy."
Simple Tax Plans: And now Herman Cain is topping polls. Cain's 9-9-9 plan is catchy and memorable; it also would either raise taxes in the middle class or grow the deficit, or both.  “My plan starts with throw out the Tax Code. It’s bold because this economy is on life support. And then pass my 9-9-9 plan: a 9 percent business flat tax, a 9 percent personal tax and a 9 percent national sales tax. It will replace the payroll tax, corporate and personal income taxes, the capital gains tax, and it will also replace the death tax," Cain says. Perry, too, now wants to throw out the tax code, sort of. Taxpayers would have the option of paying a 20 percent flat income tax. At The Washington Post, Jonathan Bernstein notes that Perry's plan beats Cains in one way. He writes, "My favorite thing about Perry's plan is that not only would it shift the tax burden from the rich to middle-class and poorer taxpayers, but it would also shift the burden of tax preparation away from the rich. It is, after all, presumably wealthy Americans who would opt for the 'flat' choice."
Issues that haven't caught on so far? Social conservative standards like abortion and gay marriage have not gotten Rick Santorum much response. Newt Gingrich nearly killed his campaign by calling a Republican plan to overhaul Medicare "right-wing social engineering." Tim Pawlenty's apologies for believing in global warming did not save his candidacy.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.