Former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) want the 2016 presidential pack to make some promises about bipartisanship — and they’ve gotten several takers.
No Labels was founded in 2010 and championed bipartisan seating at the State of the Union, leading to annual anticipation about bipartisan seat buddies at the traditionally divided address. The bipartisan Congressional Problem Solver Caucus was launched in 2014, and now Lieberman and Huntsman have turned their attention to the presidential race with the Problem Solver Promise Pledge.
That pledge says the candidate vows to work with both parties to arrive at solutions if elected to the highest office in the land. It also entails candidates committing to begin work on one of four No Labels agenda items within 30 days of inauguration. Those are: create 25 million new jobs over the next 10 years, secure Social Security and Medicare for another 75 years, balance the federal budget by 2030, and make America energy secure by 2024.
“If elected, I will gather House and Senate leaders from both parties within my first 30 days to begin work on at least one of the four goals in the National Strategic Agenda and to commit to a bipartisan process to achieve the agreed upon goal or goals,” states the text of the promise.
“During the election, it will be the voters themselves holding the candidates accountable and deciding if a candidates’ statements and positions are consistent with keeping the promise,” No Labels said. “If our next president enters office having made the Problem Solver Promise, No Labels will focus all of its resources on ensuring he or she keeps that promise.”
So far, six candidates have signed the pledge: Dr. Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and businessman Donald Trump.
But O’Malley has accused No Labels of “dumbing down” their brand by having Trump on the list.
“I appreciate receiving the No Labels problem solver seal but I want to challenge all of you in the room,” O’Malley told a No Labels Problem Solver event via video link today. “Because one of the key aspects about being able to bring people together and solve problems — I mean, marriage equality it took us three tries and we only got that done with some Republican support. Repealing the death penalty. We were only able to do that with some Republican support.”
“But what we have to ask one another as we look for a new leader, as we look for a new president, is which of us can actually bring people together. And quite honestly, I think that you are watering down and dumbing down your Problem Solver label when you bestow it on someone like Donald Trump,” he continued. “When Donald Trump says things like all Mexicans are rapists and murderers, that’s not being a leader. That’s not solving problems. There’s other adjectives for that — one of them being racist. When Donald Trump says things like we should issue ID cards to all American Muslims, that’s not bringing people together. That’s not solving problems. That’s making a fascist appeal. So I would encourage you not to dumb down this label.”
Eight presidential candidates spoke at last October’s No Labels Problem Solver convention in New Hampshire: Christie, Kasich, Trump, O’Malley, former New York Gov. George Pataki, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.).
Lieberman told CNN today that he’d be happy to see Sanders or Hillary Clinton take the pledge, but they haven’t jumped forward to do so yet.
The group stresses that being certified as having taken the pledge doesn’t signify an endorsement. “The Promise represents a commitment made by the candidates to the American people, and the candidates endorsing the No Labels approach to governing.”
Candidates will be able to take the pledge through the end of the election cycle.