Posted March 21, 2013 by fvmoore
Categories: Uncategorized

A Party at War with Itself

Stu Rothenberg: “The Republican Party continues to fracture more seriously than I expected following last year’s re-election of President Obama.”

“Instead of uniting the GOP’s various constituencies against the president’s agenda, Obama’s re-election seems to have encouraged Republicans to spend much of their time harping on their internal disagreements and fighting over how the party should be positioned for 2016 and beyond.”

Obama Caught on Open Mic Disparaging Congress

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked if President Obama was counting on some rest and relaxation during his trip to Israel, the president quickly said, “It’s good to get away from Congress.”

David Hawkings: “The jape was caught on an open mic and appeared in no official transcripts, underscroring the perception that Obama is never more candid than when he’s lamenting his troubles back home in conversations abroad — and doing so with a foreign leader on the curious assumption that no one’s listening in.”

See more…

Senate Faces Politically Tough Votes

Roll Call: “The first vote-a-rama on a Senate budget resolution in four years offers each party a chance to force the other to cast politically treacherous votes, and both sides are lining up for the opportunity, which could begin as early as Friday.”

Obama Considers Foxx for Transportation

President Obama is considering appointing Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx (D) for secretary of transportation, Bloomberg reports.

“Obama also is considering Deborah Hersman, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board, for the position… The president is considering candidates from within the transportation department as well.”

Quick Change in Support for Gay Marriage

A new Pew Research survey the rise in support for same-sex marriage over the past decade is among the largest changes in opinion on any policy issue over this time period.

The survey finds that “much of the shift is attributable to the arrival of a large cohort of young adults – the Millennial generation – who are far more open to gay rights than previous generations. Equally important, however, is that 14% of all Americans – and 28% of gay marriage supporters – say they have changed their minds on this issue, often because they have a family member or friend who is gay.”

Political Parties Rarely Make Big Shifts

Seth Masket: “The Democrats’ shift from being the party of white supremacy to the party of civil rights was pretty much a singular act in American political history. Parties rarely pull off a major shift on a hot-button issue (that’s what killed the Whigs in the 1850s), and indeed it was a very costly shift for the Democrats, breaking their electoral lock on the southern states and ultimately ending their four-decade run of controlling the House of Representatives. To be sure, parties do evolve slowly on some issues, but the parties are much better defined by consistency than change.”

Big Majority Supports Public Spending for Jobs

A new Gallup poll finds that public support for new federal spending to create jobs is, asGreg Sargent puts it, “simply overwhelming.”

Key findings: 72% support federal spending “to put people to work on urgent infrastructure repairs” and 72% support a “federal jobs creation law that would spend government money for a program designed to create more than 1 million new jobs.”

The Worst Memory in American Politics

After comparing his past statements to his current ones, Steve Benen gives the award to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

(“Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory.” John Kenneth Galbraith  fvm)

Two Very Different Budgets on Track for Approval

USA Today: “Congress is on track to approve competing party-line budget blueprints as well as legislation to fund the government and prevent a shutdown March 27, but new found fiscal momentum on Capitol Hill is a temporary reprieve from the budget battles that will renew this year. The Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate will approve respective ten-year budget plans with vastly different views on spending, taxes and entitlement programs before adjourning for a two-week spring recess.”

GOP Opposition to Immigration Reform Weakens

“Republican opposition to legalizing the status of millions of illegal immigrants is crumbling in the nation’s capital as leading lawmakers in the party scramble to halt eroding support among Hispanic voters — a shift that is providing strong momentum for an overhaul of immigration laws,” the New York Times reports.

Wonk Wire: Prospect for immigration reform brighten.

Democrat Could Win if Sanford is Nominee

John Fund says that many believe former Gov. Mark Sanford (R) could lose the congressional special election — assuming he wins an upcoming runoff — “to a Democrat — especially a business-oriented woman such as Colbert Busch. Her platform is pitched perfectly toward moderates: protecting retirement benefits, an expansion of engineering and science education and reducing the deficit by eliminating waste.”

Said pollster Pat Caddell: “If Sanford is the final GOP candidate he could lose a 58 percent Romney district based on his weakness with women voters over the affair he had while governor.”

The Week: Is Mark Sanford vs. Stephen Colbert’s sister political gold?

Religious Right Snubbed by RNC Report

McKay Coppins: “Some leaders of the religious right are openly worried this week after a sprawling 98-page report released by the Republican National Committee on how the party can rebuild after its 2012 implosion made no mention of the GOP’s historic alliance with grassroots Christian ‘value voters.'”

“Specifically, the word ‘Christian’ does not appear once in the party’s 50,000-word blueprint for renewed electoral success. Nor does the word ‘church.’ Abortion and marriage, the two issues that most animate social conservatives, are nowhere to be found. There is nothing about the need to protect religious liberty, or promote Judeo-Christian values in society. And the few fleeting suggestions that the party coordinate with ‘faith-based communities’ — mostly in the context of minority outreach — receive roughly as much space as the need to become more “inclusive” of gays.”

Obama Asks Budget Director to Stay On

President Obama has asked Jeff Zients to stay on as acting budget director, “a move that takes him out of the running to become trade chief,” Reuters reports.

“Zients would stay in his current role until the confirmation of Sylvia Mathews Burwell, whom Obama has nominated to lead OMB.”

Rand Paul Won’t Help GOP Win Younger Voters

Nate Cohn: “While some might interpret his strength among younger voters as a sign that the GOP could benefit from a more libertarian tone, 59 percent of young voters believe that the government ‘should do more.’ Young voters are libertarian on cultural issues, but Paul is pro-life and against gay marriage. Even if young voters were libertarian on economic issues, the GOP’s small-government message attracts many of the same voters persuaded by economic libertarianism, without the cost of questionable ideas like ending the Fed. If Paul’s proposals for restraint abroad and marijuana at home would help Republicans, the party would be best served by attaching those proposals to a more traditional conservative, not Rand Paul.”

Obama Turns to Executive Power

President Obama “came into office four years ago skeptical of pushing the power of the White House to the limit, especially if it appeared to be circumventing Congress,”McClatchy reports.

“Now, as he launches his second term, Obama has grown more comfortable wielding power to try to move his own agenda forward, particularly when a deeply fractured, often-hostile Congress gets in his way.”

Crist Holds Big Lead Over Scott in Florida

A new Quinnipiac poll in Florida shows former Gov. Charlie Crist (D) tops current Gov. Rick Scott (R) by 16 points, 50% to 34% among registered voters if the 2014 election were today.

A PPP poll released yesterday found Crist with a 12 point lead.

First Read calls Scott “the most endangered governor in the country as we head into next year’s midterms.”



Posted March 20, 2013 by fvmoore
Categories: Candidates, National, Politics

Are Paul Ryan’s 15 Minutes Over?

A new Rasmussen poll finds Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) approval rating has plummeted since the November election to 35% to 54% — a stunning reversal from last August, when his approval rate was 50% to 32%.

The Week: So what happened to Ryan’s once-shining star?


The End of Power

Just published: The End of Power: Why Being In Charge Isn’t What It Used to Be by Moises Naim.

“We know that power is shifting: From West to East and North to South, from presidential palaces to public squares, from once formidable corporate behemoths to nimble startups and, slowly but surely, from men to women. But power is not merely shifting and dispersing. It is also decaying. Those in power today are more constrained in what they can do with it and more at risk of losing it than ever before.”


Send Bush a Message

On the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war, Gawker published former President George W. Bush’s private email address.


Lawmakers See Little Fallout from Sequester

Roll Call: “At the White House and in the Capitol, sequestration has nearly faded from view as an issue, with no compromise in sight to roll back automatic spending cuts that were supposed to bring a doomsday scenario but so far have been met by shrugs across the country.”

Wonk Wire: The invisible hand of sequestration.


Warren Shopping a Book Proposal

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) “plans to start shopping a book proposal to publishers, seeking to enhance her national political stature while promoting what she considers the cause of her public and legal career: protecting the middle class from abusive financial practices,” the Boston Globe reports.

“The book’s working title is Rigged… and she expects it to offer a first-hand account of her battles in Washington to rein in the sorts of predatory lending and Wall Street excess that victimized everyday Americans.”


Prominent Democrats Seek Alternative to Ashley Judd

“Democratic heavy-hitters — including Bill Clinton — are quietly trying to woo a new candidate to jump into the race to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, even as actress Ashley Judd is taking steps toward launching a star-studded campaign of her own,” Politico reports.

“With fears growing in some Democratic quarters over Judd’s potential candidacy, some prominent Democrats in the Bluegrass State are beginning to set their sights on 34-year-old Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky secretary of state. Among Grimes’ attributes: She lacks political baggage since she’s served barely a year in office, and she hails from a well-connected family influential in Kentucky Democratic politics. But it’s not at all certain if she’ll jump into the race.”


Crist Leads for Florida Governor

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds former Gov. Charlie Crist (D) leads current Gov. Rick Scott (R) by 12 points in a possible 2014 match up, 52% to 40%.

Key finding: Scott’s approval numbers have seen no improvement over the last two months, even after his decision to allow Medicaid expansion in Florida. 33% of voters continue to approve of the job he’s doing to 57% who disapprove.

We’ll have another poll from Florida in the morning.


President Boehner for 20 Minutes?

As President Obama departs for Israel tonight and Vice President Biden returns from Rome, “there will be about a 20-minute window when the nation’s two highest-ranking elected officials will not be on U.S. soil,” the Washington Post reports.

“Luckily, there is no reason to panic. This brief gap does not trigger a succession crisis, as White House officials are quick to point out.”

And Speaker John Boehner’s office “declined to comment on the fact that he might spend a quarter of an hour as the top American official on U.S. soil, or how he might take advantage of that brief home court advantage.”


Assault Weapons Ban Not Included in Senate Bill

Senate Democrats are preparing to move ahead with a gun control bill that doesn’t include a ban on hundreds of specific assault weapons and parts, the Washington Post reports.

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) told Roll Call that the ban will not pass but that Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) has promised her an up-or-down vote on the measure.


Is the House in Play?

Larry Sabato and Kyle Kondik: “Obama’s greatest setback to date has been the 2010 midterm elections. Gains that Republicans scored in the House and Senate still circumscribe his agenda. It is no surprise, then, that the Obama White House wants to achieve something no other president has ever done: Retake full control of Congress in a midterm… Yet as next year’s battle for Congress begins to intensify, the odds favor the Republicans holding the House and getting yet another shot at the Senate.”

Stu Rothenberg: ” At this point in the cycle, Democrats probably need to put at least another two dozen additional districts into play… and hold most of their own vulnerable seats to have a chance of netting 17 seats in the midterm elections. It’s a very tall order.”


Two Paths for the Republican Party

Charlie Cook: “It may not be too melodramatic to say that over the next couple of years, the Republican Party faces a fork in the road. Following one path, the GOP can seek to address what has gone wrong, the narrowness of the party’s appeal, and the intolerance that has alienated so many minority, female, young, and moderate voters that Republicans have a hard time prevailing in federal races outside of carefully drawn conservative enclaves. Taking the other road could lead the party over a cliff in 2016, in much the same way Barry Goldwater led Republicans to disaster in 1964.”


Iowa Caucuses Appear Safe in Wake of RNC Report

Even though the RNC autopsy report clearly favored primaries over caucuses, the Des Moines Register doesn’t see any problems for the Iowa caucuses.

“The report… seems to bode well for the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses. It doesn’t specifically call for keeping Iowa first, but it gives a nod to tradition.” It then cites the actual language: “Recognizing the traditions of several states that have early nominating contests, the newly organized primaries would begin only after the ‘carve-out’ states have held their individual elections.”

But the Boston Globe notes that if Iowa “switches to a primary, it would disrupt a sort of gentlemen’s agreement with New Hampshire that has allowed the two states to operate in relative harmony.”


Iran Tops Obama Agenda in Israel

The New York Times reports the issue of Iran will top President Obama’s agenda when he meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Public disagreements between Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu over how to deal with Iran have waned in recent months. This comes from a combination of the president’s repeated warnings to Tehran; Iran’s strategy of not crossing Israel’s red lines while continuing to build its nuclear program; and changes in Israel’s political landscape, which have weakened Mr. Netanyahu and made a unilateral military strike less likely.”


Huge Shift on Same-Sex Marriage

National Journal: “Back in 2004, it was a given that a presidential candidate couldn’t win the Democratic nomination — let alone the general election — while supporting gay marriage. Less than decade later, Democrats understand they have no chance at winning without supporting gay marriage.”


How Republicans Kept the House With Less Votes

Bloomberg has an excellent series on the GOP’s lock on the House of Representatives.

“One big reason the Republicans have this edge: their district boundaries are drawn so carefully that the only votes that often matter come from fellow Republicans.”

“The 2010 elections, in which Republicans won the House majority and gained more than 700 state legislative seats across the nation, gave the party the upper-hand in the process of redistricting, the once-a-decade redrawing of congressional seats. The advantage helped them design safer partisan districts and maintain their House majority in 2012 — even as they lost the presidential race by about 5 million votes.”


Limbaugh Says GOP Doesn’t Need Changes

Rush Limbaugh dismissed the new RNC autopsy report that encouraged the party to modernize and argued instead that the party is not conservative enough, the Huffington Post reports.

Said Limbaugh: “The Republicans are just getting totally bamboozled right now. And they are entirely lacking in confidence. Which is what happens to every political party after an election in which they think they got shellacked.”


Paul Backs Immigration Reform

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) “is endorsing a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants, a significant move for a favorite of tea party Republicans who are sometimes hostile to such an approach,” the AP reports.

In a speech to be delivered later this morning, the potential 2016 presidential candidate will say, “If you wish to live and work in America, then we will find a place for you.”


DesJarlais Is No Pariah Despite Scandal

Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) “has been in political trouble since news reports revealed hepressured a former patient of his to get an abortion after they had an affair, details that emerged during divorce proceedings. Later, after he won reelection, reports showed he and his wife had agreed to have two abortions before their divorce,” National Journalreports.

“But unlike some other scandal-wracked politicians like Anthony Weiner, Eric Massa, or Eliot Spitzer, DesJarlais hasn’t become an outcast at all. Republican leaders haven’t punished him. He still holds positions on the Agriculture and, yes, the Oversight and Government Reform committees. Even more glaring: He’s getting fundraising assistance on Tuesday from six influential colleagues, including three committee chairmen (GOP Reps. Darrell Issa of California, John Kline of Minnesota, and Frank Lucas of Oklahoma) and two potential Senate candidates (Kline and Rep. Tom Price of Georgia).”


Americans Have Few Connections to Iraq War

A new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds that just 12% of Americans said that they or someone they know was wounded in the Iraq war and only 6% said they know someone who was killed in the Iraq War.

While 52% of Americans said they at least know someone who served in combat in Iraq, 44% reported no personal connection at all to those who did the fighting and dying there.


The GOP’s Risky Fight Over Perez

“Senate Republicans have a thorny dilemma regarding President Barack Obama’s nomination of Thomas Perez as Labor secretary, especially now that the GOP apparatus has begun to redouble its efforts to reach out to minorities,” Roll Call reports.

“If Republicans block Perez, they risk undercutting the Republican National Committee’s brand-new diversity push and getting mired in fights over voting rights and immigration. But if they allow his nomination to go through, they risk blowback from their base.”


Posted March 19, 2013 by fvmoore
Categories: Candidates, National, Politics

RNC Recommendations Favor Deep-Pocketed Candidate

Tucked in near the end of the 97-page autopsy “are less than four pages that amount to a political bombshell: the five-member panel urges halving the number of presidential primary debates in 2016 from 2012, creating a regional primary cluster after the traditional early states and holding primaries rather than caucuses or conventions,” Politico reports.

“Each of those steps would benefit a deep-pocketed candidate in the mold of Mitt Romney. That is, someone who doesn’t need the benefit of televised debates to get attention because he or she can afford TV ads; has the cash to air commercials and do other forms of voter contact in multiple big states at one time; and has more appeal with a broader swath of voters than the sort of ideologically-driven activists who typically attend caucuses and conventions.”

Roll Call: Three takeaways from the GOP’s autopsy report.

GOP Policies are Behind Their Brand Problem

First Read: “The party wants to spend millions on minority outreach. But you could also argue that the GOP’s past opposition to Obamacare and immigration reform, as well as its pursuit of voting laws that impact minority communities, has been just as significant to its performance with these voters. The party wants to limit the number of debates. But was the number the problem in 2012, or was it more the substance and policies being discussed (for example, all the candidates rejecting a 10-to-1 deal on cuts to revenues)? And the party wants to change the perception that it’s the party of the rich. But just this week, the GOP-controlled House is expected to vote on the Ryan budget plan, which gives the wealthy a significant tax cut while cutting programs that benefit the poor.”

“And we have one final question: How much of this is fighting the last war? Sure, limiting the number of debates and holding a convention in July seems smart after what happened in 2012. But don’t forget, John Kerry and the Democrats in ’04 still lost after holding few debates and a July convention.”

Officials Knew Iraq Had No Weapons of Mass Destruction

British and U.S. intelligence agencies “were informed by top sources months before the invasion that Iraq had no active WMD programme, and that the information was not passed to subsequent inquiries,” according to the Guardian.

Colbert Steps Out of Character

Comedian Stephen Colbert is dropping his right-wing pundit act to help his sister’s congressional campaign in South Carolina, telling CNN he’s happy to make an exception for her.

Said Colbert: “She’s my sister, and I’m willing to, you know, break the jewel of my own creation to try to do something for her. I’m not worried what it would do to me or my show to try to help her as myself, not as my character, and to help her as myself.”

Support for Same-Sex Marriage Hits New High

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds support for gay marriage is now 58%, a new high, “marking a dramatic change in public attitudes on the subject across the past decade.”

“That number has grown sharply… from a low of 32 percent in a 2004 survey of registered voters, advancing to a narrow majority for the first time only two years ago, and now up again to a significant majority for the first time.”

Women Were Paid to Say They Had Sex with Menendez

Police in the Dominican Republic say they have determined that three women who said they had sex with Sen. Robert Menendez (R-NJ) for money were in fact paid to make false claims by an attorney in the Caribbean country, the AP reports.

Backing Immigration Reform Could Help Republicans

A new Latino Decisions poll finds that 32% of Latinos would more likely to vote Republican if the GOP backs a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. If they do not, 39% said they would be less likely to back Republican candidates.

However, 48% said they’re unlikely to change their view of the Republican Party either way.

All in the Family

USA Today: “Thirty-two members of Congress dispensed more than $2 million in campaign funds to pay relatives’ salaries during the 2012 election cycle.”

Officials Uncover First Known Election Cyberattack

“An attempt to illegally obtain absentee ballots in Florida last year is the first known case in the U.S. of a cyberattack against an online election system,” NBC News reports.

“The case involved more than 2,500 ‘phantom requests’ for absentee ballots, apparently sent to the Miami-Dade County elections website using a computer program, according to a grand jury report on problems in the Aug. 14 primary election. It is not clear whether the bogus requests were an attempt to influence a specific race, test the system or simply interfere with the voting.”

Clinton Backs Same-Sex Marriage

Hillary Clinton endorsed gay marriage in a new video saying “that her views on the issue have evolved as a result of her experiences personally and as secretary of state,” Politicoreports.

Said Clinton: “I support it personally and as a matter of policy and law. Marriage is a fundamental building block of our society – a great joy and, yes, a great responsibility … To deny the opportunity to any of our daughters and sons solely on the basis of who they are and who they love is to deny them the chance to live up to their own God-given abilities.”

See more…

Businesses Seek Obama Campaign Talent

Suzy Khimm: “The president raised a billion dollars for his reelection campaign, but the staffers who engineered his victory may be worth even more to corporations and other groups that are eager to unlock the trade secrets that made the Obama brand so successful.”

“While it’s virtually a rite of passage for political veterans to hit the speaking circuit or hang out a shingle as a ‘strategic consultant,’ it isn’t the political horse race or the Washington game that intrigues many audiences and prospective employers so much as the analytics and tools used on the campaign trail that could have a commercial impact well beyond the Beltway.”

Sanford’s Comeback Test

Roll Call reports that Tuesday’s primary will be the first, but not final, test of whether South Carolina Republicans are ready to forgive former Gov. Mark Sanford (R).

“Sanford, a staunch conservative attempting to shake off his infamous ‘Appalachian Trail‘ legacy, faces 15 other Republicans on the primary ballot for the special election to represent the coastal, GOP-leaning seat. He is all but certain to come in first, but taking less than 50 percent of votes cast. That will send Sanford, a former three-term congressman, to an April runoff with another Republican.”

Why Iraq is Important to American Politics

First Read notes the effect of the Iraq war on American politics “can’t be understated, even 10 years later.”

“Without Iraq, there would be no President Obama. He rode Iraq to the nomination, making it the most important distinction he had with Hillary Clinton. Shoot, John Kerry isn’t the nominee in 2004 were it not for Iraq and the Democrats’ urgency at the time to find someone with war credentials as their standard-bearer. Iraq changed a lot in American politics. And that’s why the anniversary is important.”

RNC Calls for Sweeping Reforms to Party

The Republican National Committee “released an audacious set of recommendations on Monday aimed at revitalizing the party following the drubbing suffered by GOP candidates last November, calling for sweeping changes to the party’s infrastructure, outreach and nominating process to contend for the White House in 2016,” NBC News reports.

The report “calls for drastic changes to almost every major element of the modern Republican Party.”

The Wall Street Journal calls it a “scathing self-analysis” that “describes the party as ideologically ossified, unable to speak to a wider electorate and increasingly seen as representing the rich and the old.”

See more…

Rand Paul Planning 2016 Bid

An adviser tells CBS News that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) “is already laying the groundwork for a potential bid — his team has ‘already had two meetings’ about 2016, and Paul’s recent trip to Israel is further evidence of his aspiration.”

Said the adviser: “You don’t go to Israel like he did unless you’re already exploring some of that territory.”

GOP to Create New Digital Platform

Wall Street Journal: “The Republican Party is working with Silicon Valley investors on a venture, backed by political strategist Karl Rove, to create a digital platform for targeting voters and donors, an effort that is adding to tensions between the party’s establishment and its insurgent wings.”

Plouffe Says Clinton is Strongest in 2016

Former White House adviser David Plouffe told Jeff Greenfield that Hillary Clinton is “probably the strongest” candidate in either party among potential 2016 presidential contenders, Politico reports.

Said Plouffe: “She is in both parties right now by far I think the most interesting candidate, probably the strongest candidate. But she has right now the opportunity to take some well deserved and rare time for her with her family and figure things out.”

See more…

Majority Say Iraq War Was a Mistake

A new Gallup poll finds that 53% of Americans believe the United States “made a mistake sending troops to fight in Iraq” while 42% say it was not a mistake.

Obama Seeks to Repair Israeli Relations

As he embarks this week on his first presidential trip to Israel, President Obama “will seek to clarify his support for the Jewish state’s theory of its historical roots — addressing one of several subtle, but essential, missteps he is attempting to fix in his second term. The trip is a mission of remedial diplomacy, rather than the kind of specific peace initiative common for previous presidential visits,” the Washington Post reports.

“Obama will also travel to the West Bank city of Ramallah during his four-day trip for air-clearing meetings with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other leaders, who are deeply disappointed by Obama and his staunch opposition to their diplomatic push for statehood through the United Nations.”

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds Americans by a wide margin sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinian Authority when it comes to thorny Middle East politics, 55^ to 9%.


Posted March 18, 2013 by fvmoore
Categories: Candidates, National, Politics

Conservatives Blame Consultants Not the Candidates

Byron York: “If there was any villain at the just-completed Conservative Political Action Conference, it was the generic figure of the Republican political consultant. Overpaid, unprincipled, always on the lookout for the next client — or easy mark — the consultants, to listen to a number of CPAC speakers, have helped bring the Republican Party to its current low state.”

“The two non-candidates most mentioned in the consultant hall of shame were Karl Rove, the former Bush White House aide who has recently formed a group that he says will find more electable Republican candidates, and Stuart Stevens, the top adviser to the Romney campaign.”

RNC Says No More August Conventions

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told CBS News that he wants the party hold its presidential nominating convention earlier, preferably in June or July.

Said Priebus: “I’m calling for a convention in June or July. We are going to set up a commission that’s going to make that decision. I’m going to be a part of that, I’m going to chair that commission But no more August conventions.”

The Cloakroom: 3 things Republicans will change so they can win again.

Democrats Step Aside for Crist

“Possible Democratic gubernatorial candidates this week closed the door on challenging Gov. Rick Scott in 2014, leaving more room for former Gov. Charlie Crist,” Sunshine State News reports.

RNC Announces Minority Outreach Effort

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus announced a $10 million outreach initiative to better convey the party’s message to voters, particularly minorities, Roll Call reports.

Priebus said the GOP’s “unprecedented” self-evaluation has shown that it has a “quality of context” problem with relating to voters, largely because of “parachuting” into communities months before an election rather than building grass-roots support.

Boehner Digs in on Taxes

House Speaker John Boehner told ABC News that talk of including revenue as part of an effort to strike a so-called “grand bargain” was “over.”

Said Boehner: “The president believes that we have to have more taxes from the American people. We’re not going to get very far. The president got his tax hikes on January 1. The talk about raising revenue is over. It’s time to deal with the spending problem.”

Most Think Iraq War Was Not Worth It

Ten years after the start of the Iraq war, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds nearly six in 10 Americans say the war was not worth fighting. Nearly as many say the same about the war in Afghanistan.

A key reason: “A substantial sense that neither war did much to achieve their goals of enhancing U.S. security. Only about half of Americans say either war contributed to the long-term security of the United States, and just two in 10 say either contributed “a great deal” to U.S. security – clearly insufficient, in the minds of most, to justify their costs in lives and lucre.”

Window Open for a Grand Bargain?

“Two weeks of bipartisan meals, closed-door meetings and dueling budget proposals have opened perhaps one last window for the White House and Congress to reach a deficit-reduction deal before a likely fight over the debt ceiling this summer,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Lawmakers say they now see a small opportunity to forge a comprehensive fiscal plan between now and July or August. That’s because the dynamics in recent days have changed, with a slow, steady process replacing repeated crisis-driven fights.”

Rand Paul Wins CPAC Straw Poll

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) won the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll, edging out fellow Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), 25% to 23%, Roll Call reports.

Other top finishers: Rick Santorum at 8%, Chris Christie at 7%, Paul Ryan at 6% and Scott Walker at 5%.

Walker Admits He’d Consider Presidential Bid

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) acknowledged to Politico that “he’s open to a presidential bid and pointedly declined to pledge to serve a full four-year term if he’s reelected next year.”

Said Walker: “For me, it’s really a measure of what I’ve accomplished and what more I could accomplish if I was in a different position.”

Christie Seeks Teacher’s Union Nod

Politicker NJ reports that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) was at the New Jersey Teacher’s Association for their screening process, apparently in search of their endorsement.

Christie has been a “political enemy” of the group and has generated national attention over his previous attacks on the union.

Anti-Drug Lawmaker Arrested for Marijuana Possession

New York State assemblyman Steve Katz (R), who “has railed against illegal drugs and voted against the legalization of medical marijuana last year,” was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of marijuana after being pulled over for a traffic stop, Journal News reports.

Boehner Says He Can’t Imagine Flipping on Gay Marriage

Hours after Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) came out in support of gay marriage, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) reaffirmed his position against it telling ABC News “that he could not envision a situation where his views would shift on same-sex marriage – even if one of his children came out as gay.”


Posted March 15, 2013 by fvmoore
Categories: Candidates, National, Politics

Paul Says GOP is “Stale and Moss Covered”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) had tough words for his own party at the Conservative Political Action Conference, NBC News reports.

Said Paul: “The Republican Party has to change by going forward to the classical and timeless ideas enshrined in our Constitution. We need a Republican Party that shows up on the Southside of Chicago and shouts at the top of our lungs ‘We are the party of jobs and opportunity. The GOP is the ticket to the middle class.’ The GOP of old has grown stale and moss-covered. I don’t think we need to name any names here, do we?”


Stalemate Persists Despite Obama Efforts to Break Ice

President Obama “has broken the ice with suspicious and distrustful Republicans on Capitol Hill during the past two weeks, but it hasn’t yet yielded any immediate breakthroughs on the budget stalemate that threatens to lead to yet another partisan debt showdown in a few months,” Roll Call reports.

“Obama’s meetings with the four congressional caucuses, and particularly with the GOP, were notable for just how rare they have been. And, at least on tone, he won plaudits in both chambers for engaging with Republicans instead of heading out to the stump and slamming them as defenders of the rich.”


Feinstein Blasts Cruz at Gun Control Hearing

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) let loose on Sen.Ted Cruz (R-TX) at a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting today on gun control legislation. It’s worth watching.

David Hawkings notes the hearing will be remembered “as a milestone in the education of an unrepentant Ted Cruz.”

See more…


Obama Tells GOP He’s Not Setting a Trap

President Obama pledged in a private meeting with Senate Republicans on “to challenge his own party on entitlement reform,” The Hill reports.

“He also asked Republicans not to believe conspiracy theories that he is pushing a deficit deal as part of a strategy to help Democrats capture the House.”


Boehner Says Election Won’t Effect Budget Stance

Speaker John Boehner suggested that “candidates and personalities – not Republican proposals on Medicare and spending cuts – contributed to Republican losses in November, as he vowed to press forward with a House budget plan that renews the push to shrink the government,” the New York Times reports.

In short, Boehner said “the election losses would not deter his party from pressing its vision of reducing the size of government and turning government health care programs largely over to the private sector.”

Said Boehner: “There are a lot of things that decide an election, especially the two candidates that you have, the personalities that they have, positions they have taken.”


Why Gun Makers Fear the NRA

Businessweek: “First, there’s intimidation. The lobby group has incited potentially ruinous consumer boycotts against firearm makers that fail to follow the NRA line with sufficient zeal. Second, regardless of some executives’ concerns about civil discourse, gun companies benefit financially from the NRA’s hype. Alarms about imminent gun confiscation–an NRA staple, despite its implausibility–reliably send firearm owners back to retail counters. Sales are booming.”


Bartender Behind Hidden Video Had Met Romney Before

The bartender who secretly filmed Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” remarks told theHuffington Post he had actually met the candidate at a fundraiser two months earlier and “shared a typical bartender-to-patron moment.”

Said the bartender: “I handed him a diet Coke with lemon on it, because I was told that that’s what he drank… He took it and turned and didn’t say anything. I presented him the exact right drink that he wanted… Had it there, sitting there on a napkin. He took it out of my hand and turned his back without a ‘thank you’ or anything else.”


Stark Choices in Dueling Budgets

“The two budget proposals now in Congress present Americans with a choice even starker than the one between the presidential candidates last year,” the Los Angeles Timesreports.

“Under the 10-year budget plan released by House Republicans this week, tax rates would fall for high-income Americans and corporations, defense spending would be bolstered, and more than 30 million uninsured people would lose access to government-backed healthcare. Food stamps, student loans and free school lunches for children would be cut.”

“The Senate Democrats’ plan, released Wednesday, would increase taxes on the wealthy and some corporations, cut the Pentagon budget and add $100 billion in highway and school construction spending. Their plan would make modest reductions in healthcare and other domestic programs.”

Wonk Wire‘s “chart of the day” highlights the differences between the two budgets.


Boehner Rejects Obama’s Charm Offensive

Speaker John Boehner: “So it was a good meeting. House Republicans welcomed the chance for a frank exchange of ideas with President Obama on Wednesday. Outreach is always positive, and more Republicans in this town need the opportunity to have an open dialogue with our president. I hope these discussions continue.”

“Yet, while this may have been the first time some of my colleagues have heard the president’s arguments so personally and directly, I’ve heard them all many times before. If we’re going to find bipartisan solutions, the president will have to move beyond the same proposals and Democratic dogma. For all of Washington’s focus on the president’s outreach to Republicans, it’s his engagement with members of his own party that will determine whether we succeed in dealing with the challenges facing our economy.”


Top Lawmaker Says Obama Spends More Time on Brackets

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) hit back at President Obama for saying hedoesn’t put a priority on achieving a balanced budget, The Hill reports.

Said McCarthy: “How can a president not want to balance the budget? How does he forgot what he said? One of his first goals in the first four years was to cut the deficit in half. Now he doesn’t care. He doesn’t even produce a budget. I’ll bet you this. I bet you he spends more time filling out his March Madness brackets than he does writing a budget.”


Paul Says Tax Code Should Not Mention Marriage

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told National Review that the federal tax code should be reformed in a way to not exclude same-sex marriage.

Said Paul: “I’m an old-fashioned traditionalist. I believe in the historic and religious definition of marriage. That being said, I’m not for eliminating contracts between adults. I think there are ways to make the tax code more neutral, so it doesn’t mention marriage. Then we don’t have to redefine what marriage is; we just don’t have marriage in the tax code.”


Obama Defends Setting Up Outside Advocacy Group

President Obama admitted that Organizing for Action, the nonprofit group born from his reelection campaign, was a way to combat the pivotal “mistake” of his first term — allowing the populist enthusiasm behind his policy objectives to fade amid tough negotiations with Congress, The Hill reports.

Said Obama: “I think here in Washington, this idea has been viewed with some suspicion and people have been puzzled about what it is we’re trying to do, because the usual idea is this must be a mechanism to try to win the next election in 2014. What we’ve tried to explain to people is, no, I just actually want to govern — at least for a couple years. But I also want to make sure the voices of the people are actually heard in the debates that are going to be taking place.”


Snubbed at CPAC

Politico notes that neither New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) or Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) was invited to speak at CPAC this week, “one of the premier showcase events for national Republicans. The snub of Christie was more heavily covered –perceived as punishment for his post-Hurricane Sandy embrace of Obama — but both governors have run afoul of CPAC organizers in related ways.”

“Officials with the American Conservative Union, which hosts CPAC, caution not to draw any dramatic conclusions from the fact that Christie and McDonnell didn’t make the cut this year… But in an age when conservative advocacy groups, right-leaning media and a white-hot Republican base tend to reward the most confrontational and theatrical politicians, neither Christie nor McDonnell appears to be in the GOP sweet spot anymore.”


Hopes for Budget Deal Fade Again

President Obama’s meeting “with a restive and resistant House Republican majority on Wednesday underscored their deep divisions over fiscal policy as both sides acknowledged that an overarching budget compromise was in doubt despite a new push by the White House,” the New York Times reports.

“The hourlong discussion at the Capitol, and the release of a new budget by Senate Democrats on Wednesday that adds $100 billion in new stimulus spending and would impose higher taxes on large corporations and wealthy Americans, illustrated anew just how difficult it will be to resolve the issues that have split the Congress for years and created a perpetual cycle of deadline-driven short-term fiscal policy.”

Roll Call notes a key reason: “GOP leaders immediately shut the door on any compromises that would include new taxes.”

The Washington Post notes another: “While Democratic leaders are offering quiet support for Obama’s renewed campaign to strike a grand bargain with Republicans that would include cuts to Social Security and Medicare, a significant number of Democratic lawmakers are digging in their heels and vowing to protest any reduction in promised benefits.”


Posted March 14, 2013 by fvmoore
Categories: Candidates, National, Politics

Obama Tells GOP His Priority is Not a Balanced Budget

President Obama told House Republicans “that balancing the budget is not his top priority,”Roll Call reports.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) reported that the president “diplomatically said ‘no’ to a balanced budget, explaining that eliminating the deficit is not his priority. Instead, the president said he is worried that the deep spending cuts that would be required to balance the budget would slow the nation’s economic recovery.”

Wonk Wire: The failure of austerity.

The GOP’s Real Agenda

Tim Dickinson: “After watching voters punish the GOP in the 2012 elections, Republican elites have been talking a brave game about reforms that would make the party less repulsive to Latinos, women and gay-friendly millennials…”

“Don’t be fooled. On the ground, a very different reality is unfolding: In the Republican-led Congress, GOP-dominated statehouses and even before the nation’s highest court, the reactionary impulses of the Republican Party appear unbowed. Across the nation, the GOP’s severely conservative agenda – which seeks to impose job-killing austerity, to roll back voting and reproductive rights, to deprive the working poor of health care, and to destroy agencies that protect the environment from industry and consumers from predatory banks – is moving forward under full steam.”

Obama Wastes Big Opportunity

Jill Lawrence says President Obama squandered an opportunity in his ABC News interviewbecause he “talked almost entirely in the cerebral, inside-Washington policy and strategy terms befitting two cerebral, inside-Washington strategists and policy wonks. In other words, Obama talked to Stephanopoulos instead of his audience.”

“Analogies and connections and details were missing. The human impact was missing. Even talking points seemed to be missing. I’d also take issue with Obama’s downbeat assessment of whether a grand fiscal bargain is achievable. Don’t we need a little presidential optimism and encouragement at this point? Where’s that yes-we-can spirit?”

Another Poll Confirms Obama Losing His Edge

If President Obama “had piled up political capital with his impressive re-election, it’s largely gone. His approval rating has dropped to the lowest level in more than a year, with more voters now turning thumbs down on his performance than thumbs up,” according to a newMcClatchy-Marist poll.

“The measure of how much people like him also has dropped. He’s still vastly more popular than Congress, particularly congressional Republicans. But in the biggest political clash of the year – over the federal budget and how to curb deficits – voters split 44 percent to 42 percent between preferring Congress or Obama. At least some of the president’s fall to Earth lies in the fact that voters no longer see him in the context of an election. He has to stand alone in the eyes of voters again and doesn’t benefit from the comparison with Republican rival Mitt Romney.”

Which State Has the Highest Turnout?

Politico: “Minnesota topped the turnout list for the eighth time in the last nine presidential and midterm elections, with 76.1 percent turnout. Hawaii came in last, with turnout at a mere 44.1 percent. Overall turnout was down from 62 percent in 2008, when the possibility of the nation’s first black president caused a surge at the polls, to 59 percent in 2012. Low turnout in the nation’s three most populous states — Texas, New York and California — contributed to the drop. All saw declines of nine percent or higher.”

Florida Lt. Governor Resigns Unexpectedly

Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll (R) “abruptly resigned amid law enforcement questions about a Florida Internet sweepstakes company at the center of a nationwide criminal investigation,” the Miami Herald reports.

“It’s unclear if Carroll is the target of any criminal charges. Attorney General Pam Bondi and law enforcement officials have scheduled a 2:30 p.m. press conference in Orlando to discuss the case. Gov. Rick Scott also has announced an afternoon press conference.”

Gaming the Electoral College

270 to Win has a very nice interactive map that lets you test some of the alternative scenarios to the ‘winner-take-all’ electoral vote allocation that are being considered by several state legislatures.

More Buy Guns for Protection

A new Pew Research survey of gun owners finds that 48% said they own them for protection, while 32% said they own a firearm mainly for hunting purposes.

That’s a large shift from 1999 when 26% of those surveyed said they owned a gun for protection, while 49% said they used it mainly for hunting.

Still Waiting on Obama’s Budget

David Hawkings reports that “never before in the history of the modern budget process (which dates to 1975) has the president submitted a budget after the House and Senate have produced budget resolutions of their own.”

“That’s what’s happening this year. President Obama’s proposal looks likely for a rollout on April 8, the Monday Congress returns from its spring break. And he’s not likely to offer any specifics about it during his meetings with the four congressional caucuses during the next three days.”

Obama Keeps Pushing for Elusive Grand Bargain

President Obama “pushed Senate Democrats to support a grand budget bargain, even as the prospects for such a deal seemed as distant as ever,” Roll Call reports.

“Seeking to unite his party during the first of three expected sojourns to Capitol Hill this week, the president again vowed not to negotiate over the expiring debt ceiling later this year — even as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was telling reporters that he hopes the debt ceiling brings the president to the table to cut entitlements without securing new taxes.”

David Drucker: “Republicans remain skeptical of President Obama’s charm offensive — very, very, very skeptical.”

Romney Brother Declines Senate Bid

Scott Romney told the Michigan Information & Research Service that he will not run for the open U.S. Senate seat in Michigan in 2014.

Roll Call notes Romney “would have kicked off the primary in the strongest position in the field.”

Obama Miscalculated on Taxes

President Obama “faces huge, and probably insurmountable, obstacles to reviving a grand bargain — none higher and more difficult to overcome than his decision to increase taxes by $600 billion in December,” Politico reports.

“Obama thought he would be able to stare down Republicans over the sequester, and get them to double the size of his tax increase to avoid heavy defense cuts. He was wrong. Once Republicans swallowed the $600 billion in hikes, they made plain they were done raising taxes for this Congress. And they really are done, Republicans say.”

Corbett Trails All Likely Challengers

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Pennsylvania finds Gov. Tom Corbett (R) with a dismal 33% job approval rating and trailing five potential Democratic challengers — some by double-digits.

Corbett is down by 11 points each to Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D), Joe Sestak (D), and Rob McCord (D) all by margins of 45% to 34%. Tom Wolf (D) leads by 9 points at 42% to 33% and John Hanger (D) is up by 7 at 41% to 34%.

A new Quinnipiac poll shows Corbett doing slightly better but still in jeopardy of losing his re-election bid.

Obama Loses Edge Over Republicans

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds the afterglow of President Obama’s reelection “appears to have vanished as increasingly negative views among Americans about his stewardship of the economy have forced his public approval rating back down to the 50 percent mark.”

“In December, just after he won a second term, Obama held an 18-percentage-point advantage over congressional Republicans on the question of whom the public trusted more to deal with the economy. Now, it’s a far more even split — 44% to 40%, with a slight edge for the president — but the share of those saying they have confidence in “neither” has ticked up into double digits.”

Meanwhile, Obama’s approval rate has dropped five points in the last month to 50%.

How Kwame Kilpatrick Went Bad

Daily Beast: “On one fateful night in Boston, two dynamic speakers made waves at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Both men, young, black, and products of hardscrabble Midwestern cities, were considered rising stars and were getting major exposure on one of the country’s biggest stages. One of those men was a first-term state senator from Illinois named Barack Obama. The other was the charismatic first-term mayor of Detroit: Kwame Kilpatrick.”

“To say that the fortunes of those two men have gone in opposite directions is an understatement. Obama’s DNC speech, which followed Kilpatrick’s that night, helped propel him to national stardom, a seat in the U.S. Senate, and eventually the presidency. On the other hand, Kilpatrick, who narrowly won re-election in 2005 before a sex scandal and perjury conviction cost him the job in September 2008, was convicted on 24 counts including federal racketeering, extortion, mail fraud, and tax evasion on Monday. He was later sent to prison to await sentencing. He is one of 35 former city employees, including other elected officials, to be convicted by the federal government in the past eight years.”

Palin’s Next Book

Sarah Palin is writing a her next book about Christmas, the AP reports.

The former Alaska governor has a deal with HarperCollins for A Happy Holiday IS a Merry Christmas and will criticize the “over-commercialism” and “homogenization” of the holiday and call for a renewed emphasis on the religious importance.

Andrew Sullivan: “Well, if anyone’s an expert on miraculous births…”


Posted March 13, 2013 by fvmoore
Categories: Candidates, National, Politics

Another Bush Runs for Office

George Prescott Bush filed the official paperwork to run for Texas land commissioner next year — and put out a campaign video — “hoping to use a little-known but powerful post to continue his family’s political dynasty in one of the country’s most-conservative states,” theDallas Morning News reports.

See more…

Copy and Paste Campaign Website

Michael Sullivan (R) claims he’s a “tested and trusted” leader with experience that makes him the best GOP candidate in the Republican U.S. Senate primary in Massachusetts.

But the Boston Globe finds that Sullivan’s newly launched website ­borrows heavily from thedormant site of Richard Tisei (R), the Republican who lost in his congressional bid last year.

Rove Still Sore About Election Night

Karl Rove is apparently still upset that Fox News called the presidential election too soon, the Washington Post reports.

“When asked about the papal conclave’s quest to rack up enough votes behind a successor to Pope Benedict XVI, Rove — inexplicably, un-self-awaredly — steered the discussion into the vicinity of the moment when he balked at calling the state of Ohio — and the whole presidential election — for Barack Obama back in November.”

Said Rove: “They do it the right way. They get to the final vote and the decision and then they let the smoke get it… Maybe there’s a message there for American media Maybe we better wait, rather than try to call it, let the election go to its final conclusion and let the results speak for themselves.”

10 Things You Need to Know About the Ryan Budget

Roll Call has the highlights from Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget proposal.

Wonk Wire looks at what’s missing from the Ryan budget.

NRA May Not Oppose Background Checks

“Senators negotiating a bill mandating background checks for all gun buyers are privately expecting the National Rifle Association not to fight the measure — provided the legislation does not require private gun sellers to maintain records of the checks,” NBC News has learned.

“If that requirement is met and key Republican negotiator Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma signs on, the powerful gun lobby has signaled to lawmakers that they would not actively oppose the bill — and not count votes in favor of it as part of its highly influential NRA lawmaker ratings — according to Senate aides familiar with the stalled negotiations.”

Ashley Judd’s Long Odds

Steve Kornacki: “There are remarkably few recent examples of Senate incumbents losing in states where their party enjoys the kind of edge Republicans now have in Kentucky. And Judd figures to be a particularly ripe target for the GOP, given the very liberal views she’s already staked out. It would probably take a huge Democratic tide or an indictment of McConnell (or maybe both?) to propel her to victory in ’14. And that’s a lot to hope for.”

Four Districts Where Democrats Must Recruit Better Candidates

Stuart Rothenberg: “If Democrats are going to have any chance of netting 17 seats during the 2014 midterms — and taking back control of the House — they are going to have to do a much better job in a handful of districts where their recruiting fell far short in 2012.”

Filibusters Hurting Federal Courts

Jeffrey Toobin: “Judicial appointments represent one of the great missed opportunities of the Obama Presidency. In his first term, especially in the first two years, Obama himself bore much of the blame for this. When Democrats controlled sixty Senate seats, Obama was slow to nominate lower-court judges, and his moment of greatest leverage passed. But, since the 2010 midterm elections, Republicans have been at fault, almost entirely. Most nominees are not formally stopped, as Halligan was, but rather are delayed and delayed. Bush’s nominees got votes within weeks; Obama’s take months, even for uncontroversial selections”

What it Costs to Win a Congressional Election

The Week: “To become a United States senator, you must be at least 30 years old, have nine or more years of citizenship to your name, and live in the state you wish to represent. You also need, on average, $10.5 million.”

“In general, House races were far cheaper than Senate contests, with victorious candidates raising an average of about $1.7 million.”

Next Fight Over Labor Secretary?

If President Obama names Thomas Perez as his next secretary of Labor, Senate Republicans “will have a lengthy and contentious Washington track record to examine as they decide whether, or how strongly, to object to his nomination,” Roll Call reports.

“His three-and-a-half-year tenure at the Justice Department is likely to be the subject of much scrutiny if he is nominated to lead the Labor Department — a job that itself could prove contentious as ongoing debates over the National Labor Relations Board, the federal minimum wage, immigration and other workplace-related issues begin to heat up.”

Obama Kicks Off Organizing for Action

President Obama will formally kick off Organizing for Action, his newly-formed independent advocacy group, with a big speech Wednesday night.

ABC News reports it will be Obama’s “first in-person with the group’s core team of advisers, donors and grassroots organizers since its formation following the 2012 election. It comes as Obama seeks to re-energize his expansive grassroots campaign infrastructure around top second-term priorities — from new gun-control measures to comprehensive immigration reform and a plan to replace sequester — and cement the foundation for his presidential legacy.”

War on Women Heads to Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) “once said women who didn’t want to view images of a fetus they were seeking to abort could simply close their eyes. His potential 2014 opponent, Democratic Rep. Allyson Schwartz, worked for a family planning clinic for more than a dozen years,” Politico reports.

“No other gubernatorial race in the country could provide a clearer test of the staying power of one of 2012’s fiercest messaging duels.”

Hagel Still Finding His Way

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel returns from a three-day visit to Afghanistan that was “marred by a suicide bombing and security threats, a canceled news conference that was expected to highlight progress in the war, and heated accusations by Afghan President Hamid Karzai that the U.S. military was colluding with the Taliban to prolong the American troop presence,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“Even worse, Hagel returns to an in-box full of troubles in Washington. First on the list: how to absorb $47 billion in budget cuts mandated by Congress this year, with more trims to come.”

“Hagel has seemed low-key and at times unsure of himself since he won a bitter Senate confirmation battle Feb. 27. His reaction to his early burdens is tough to gauge, but he has yet to show the sparks that earned him maverick status when he served as a Republican senator from Nebraska who took controversial positions and issued blunt assessments, no matter the consequences.”

Republicans Prepare Digital Push

“Republicans will embark upon a major restructuring of their digital strategy as part of the Republican National Committee’s new autopsy of the 2012 elections,” NBC News has learned.

RNC chief of staff Mark Shields “was reluctant to divulge any specifics of the RNC’s new commitment to digital efforts, but said it would be far broader than any simple social media campaign.”

House and Senate Work on Budgets at the Same Time

New York Times: “In the Senate, Democrats were putting the finishing touches on a budget they plan to introduce on Wednesday, their first in four years, while House Republicans were preparing to introduce a spending plan of their own on Tuesday morning.”

“The two proposals, which would set spending targets for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, will be miles apart ideologically and difficult to merge… But the fact that both houses of Congress are working on their budgets simultaneously after years of impasse raised some measure of hope — albeit slight — that Democrats and Republicans might be able to work out some sort of compromise.”

Americans Hate Congress But Lamakers Love Their Jobs

“Congress has some of the lowest approval ratings in recent history, but it hasn’t stopped House lawmakers from disproportionately loving their jobs,” Roll Call reports.

According to a new Congressional Management Foundation study, 89% of House members said they felt satisfaction that they were “performing an important public service.” When asked whether they were satisfied with their understanding of how their “job contributes to society as a whole,” 90% answered in the affirmative. In response to the statement, “my work gives me a sense of personal accomplishment,” 95% agreed.

Democrats Also An Obstacle to Grand Bargain

President Obama “has spent the past week urging Republicans to reopen talks to reach a broad deficit-reduction deal, a so-called grand bargain. When he travels to Capitol Hill this week, he likely will find he has work to do to move his own party toward an agreement as well,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Some Democrats say they are worried that Mr. Obama will make concessions they dislike on entitlement programs such as Social Security or Medicare to build momentum for the talks, which likely would consider changes to other federal spending as well as taxes.”

Conservatives Threaten Rebellion Over Hastert Rule

Conservative House lawmakers are threatening to torpedo bills that violate the so-calledHastert Rule, according to The Hill.

“The warning, delivered Monday by two right-leaning rank-and-file members, puts more pressure on Speaker Boehner (R-OH) and his lieutenants to only pass bills that attract the support of ‘the majority of the majority.'”

Politico: “If it seems like inside-the-Beltway legislative wonkery, it’s not. Voting against the rule, as it’s called, is a loud statement that members disagree with leadership’s priorities. And since Democrats almost always oppose the rule — the measure that sets parameters for floor debate — GOP leadership has to have 218 Republicans on board to get it passed. If a rule fails, the House cannot debate the underlying bill, and the legislative process is ground to a halt.”