POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 5/29

Wicker Faces Tough Senate Race in Mississippi

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), appointed to fill the seat of retired Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), “finds himself in a very tight election battle” with former Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove (D) “to win the job on his own,” according to a new Rasmussen Reports survey

Musgrove (D) edges Wicker, 47% to 46%.

Obama, McCain in Tight National Race

A new Pew Research survey shows Sen. Barack Obama edging Sen. John McCain, 47% to 44%, in a general election match up.

“The tightening general election matchup between Obama and McCain shows some sullying of Obama’s personal image over the past three months, despite his primary victories. Over this period, unfavorable views of McCain have risen as well.”

Key finding: “Obama’s slipping image is in some measure a negative reaction from frustrated Clinton supporters. Currently, just 46% of those who support Clinton for the nomination say the party will unite behind Obama if he is the nominee.”

A new Democracy Corps survey shows Obama leading McCain, 47% to 45%.

“This is a real race. Obama’s vote has not risen above 48% and the intensity of support and opposition for each candidate is very similar.”

Clyburn Will Endorse on Tuesday

Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), the majority whip and third-highest ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, will announce his endorsement for president “at 11 a.m. Tuesday, when the last two primaries in Montana and South Dakota are under way,” according to the Stamford Advocate.

However, Clyburn noted that he already voted in South Carolina’s primary, adding, “I’m not undecided, just unpledged.”

Clinton Campaign Still Making Travel Plans

NBC News notes that Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign is taking travel arrangements for members of the traveling press corps past June 3, the date of the last primaries.

When asked if this was a sign the campaign would continue, a spokesman said, “Sign up and see.”

McClellan, Right and Wrong

Matt Cooper, who was “somewhat infamously” involved in the C.I.A. leak case, writes about his dealings with White House press secretary Scott McClellan and the reactions to his new book, What Happened.

“In a way, both McClellan and his critics are right. Certainly everything McClellan says about the rush to war and the incompetence of the administration has held up over time. He now finds himself with the nearly three quarters of Americans who disapprove of the president’s job performance. But the Bushies do have a point when they note that McClellan did not raise these objections while he was in the White House. There is something unsettling when a George Stephanopoulos or Scott McClellan rides a presidential candidate and then a White House to fame, and then dumps a critical memoir out there.”

EPIC/MRA: McCain Edges Obama in Michigan

A new EPIC-MRA poll in Michigan shows Sen. John McCain leading Sen. Barack Obama, 44% to 40%, in a general election match up.

But the most interesting finding is that when you add running mates — Obama/Clinton vs. McCain/Romney — the Democratic ticket wins 51% to 44%. Considering Romney claims roots to Michigan, it would seem to seriously undermine his case to be McCain’s candidate for vice president.

The survey’s margin of error is +/- 4%.

McClellan, McClellan, McClellan

Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of DeceptionFirst Read notes that coverage of Scott McClellan’s White House memoir, What Happened, continues to dominate the news and “the White House has done nothing to try to push this story out of the headlines.” 

“McClellan will appear on Olbermann tonight, as well as on Meet the Press on Sunday. This is turning into a five-day news story — minimum. And that’s not just unhelpful to Bush as he attempts to repair his image even a little, but also to John McCain, who doesn’t need White House Bush drama eating into his coverage. Also, nevermind how McClellan has stepped on Clinton’s final attempt to bring attention to the Florida-Michigan process.”

In an interview on the Today Show, McClellan indicated it was his use as a “pawn” in the Valerie Plame case that caused him to become disillusioned with the White House.

The Top Pollsters

Poblano updates his rankings of pollsters. The most interesting finding is that two of the top three firms — SurveyUSA and Rasmussen — use automated polls which are typically shunned by the national media.

Murdoch Predicts Landslide for Democrats

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch “predicted a Democratic landslide in the U.S. presidential election against a gloomy economic backdrop over the next 18 months,” according to Reuters.

Said Murdoch: “You have got the Obama phenomenon. You have got, undoubtedly, a recession… The average American is really getting hurt financially and that all bodes well for him… You have probably the making of a complete phenomenon in this country.”

Meanwhile, Politico quotes Murdoch on McCain, saying he “has been in Congress a long time, and you have to make a lot of compromises. So what’s he really stand for?… I think he has a lot of problems.”

McCain Still Trying to Build Campaign

“Fall campaigns for President require massive organizations,” Time magazineobserves. “What’s more, McCain is likely to face the biggest, baddest team on the block. Barack Obama has been running the equivalent of a national campaign for almost six months now. He spends more than twice as much every 30 days as McCain has been able to raise in the same period. Obama has a campaign staff that numbers about 700 and already blankets most of the swing states. His organization ticks like a clock, has had an unwavering message and has kept a firmly fixed inner circle.” 

“McCain, meanwhile, is still formulating his general-election pitch and struggling to build his core team. He is also trying, for the second time in as many years, to create a campaign that can win on a big scale.”

Obama Says General Election Will Begin Next Week

In a discussion with reporters on a plane to Chicago, Sen. Barack Obama said he would be the Democratic Party presidential nominee on Tuesday and that the general election would finally begin.

Said Obama: “After Tuesday we will. I think Saturday will be important, put the Michigan, Florida issue behind us. We’ve got three contests in succession. And at that point, all the information will be in. There will be no more questions answered. I suspect that you know whatever remaining superdelegates will make their decisions pretty quickly after that.”

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle reports House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “says she will step in if necessary to make sure the presidential nomination fight between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama does not reach the Democratic National Convention.”

Quote of the Day

“The White House would prefer that I not talk openly about my experiences… I have a higher loyalty than my loyalty necessary to my past work. That’s a loyalty to the truth.”

— Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, quoted by Politico, on why he wrote What Happened.

Electoral College Outlook Shows Competitive Race

The latest Evans-Novak Political Report runs some electoral vote calculations and finds Sen. John McCain narrowly beating Sen. Barack Obama, 270 to 268.

“The electoral map looks nearly identical to 2004, with Iowa and Colorado swinging into the Democratic camp. Beneath the surface, however, we see Michigan and Pennsylvania becoming more competitive for Republicans.”

Clinton Holds Big Lead in Puerto Rico

A new El Vocero/Univision poll in Puerto Rico shows Sen. Hillary Clinton leading Sen. Barack Obama by 13 points, 51% to 38%, in advance of Sunday’s primary.

Rendell Doesn’t Think Clinton Can Win

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who supports Sen. Hillary Clinton for president, now says it’s unlikely she’ll win the nomination, ABC News reports.

Said Rendell: “I’m a realist, and I think most likely the superdelegates will give Sen. Obama the votes he needs. I don’t think the DNC is going to fairly adjust what happened in Florida… I don’t think they’re going to fairly adjust it. So I think it’s very unlikely that Senator Clinton can prevail. I think that means we’re not going to field our strongest candidate.”

Historical Quotes of the Day

“It appears to be more about trying to justify personal views and opinions than it does about looking at the results that we are achieving on behalf of the American people.”

— White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, speaking about former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill’s memoir, The Price of Loyalty, in 2004.

“Well, why, all of a sudden, if he had all these grave concerns, did he not raise these sooner? This is one-and-a-half years after he left the administration. And now, all of a sudden, he’s raising these grave concerns that he claims he had.”

— McClellan, speaking about former White House counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke’s book, Against All Enemies, in 2004.

Another Team of Rivals?

The Political Genius of Abraham LincolnNBC News notes that Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell thinks Sen. Barack Obama might pick Sen. Hillary Clinton as his running mate — and that she should accept.

He also suggested the Illinois senator’s recent mention of Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin might have been a hint into his thinking.

Said Rendell: “I’ve said it before. I think when Sen. Obama was asked the question, he went out of his way to mention Team of Rivals, and if you read that book, Lincoln did a great thing by bringing his strongest rivals, who were the most competent people in America, into the government. I don’t think he said it — I know Sen. Obama — He doesn’t say anything by accident.”

Gallup Poll: Clinton Stronger in Swing States

Gallup Poll: “In the 20 states where Hillary Clinton has claimed victory in the 2008 Democratic primary and caucus elections (winning the popular vote), she has led John McCain in Gallup Poll Daily trial heats for the general election over the past two weeks of Gallup Poll Daily tracking by 50% to 43%. In those same states, Barack Obama is about tied with McCain among national registered voters, 45% to 46%.

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