POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 7/23

Novak Says He May Have Been Used

Robert Novak told Fox News that his report yesterday about Sen. John McCain naming his running mate this week may have been “a dodge” by the campaign to steal some attention from Sen. Barack Obama.

Novak said he got the tip from a “very senior McCain aide” and that the campaign “suggested I put it out.” Now he feels he’s been used and that it’s “pretty reprehensible.”

Does Targeting Age Groups in Swing States Make Sense?

Michael Barone has some interesting analysis on whether Sen. Barack Obama should target swing states with large under 30 year old populations. He concludes “the pickings are a little slim for the Obama campaign: among the states with unusually high percentages of under-30s, only North Dakota (3 electoral votes) and New Mexico (5 electoral votes) are likely to be target states.”

As for a strategy of Sen. John McCain focusing on states with large numbers of over 60 years old voters, Barone concludes there are many more targets: Florida (27 electoral votes), Pennsylvania (21 electoral votes), Iowa (7 electoral votes), South Dakota (3 electoral votes), Montana (3 electoral votes), and North Dakota (3 electoral votes). The caveat, of course, is that over-60 voters already turn out to vote in decent numbers, so there’s not likely as much to gain.

Another Gift for Obama

Just days in advance of Sen. Barack Obama’s stop in London, the Guardian reports that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown “today paved the way for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, promising a ‘fundamental change’ of mission in the first half of 2009.”

 

Is it Really a Close Race?

Michael Grunwald: “The media will try to preserve the illusion of a toss-up; you’ll keep seeing ‘Obama Leads, But Voters Have Concerns’ headlines. But when Democrats are winning blood-red congressional districts in Mississippi and Louisiana, when the Republican president is down to 28 percent, when the economy is tanking and world affairs keep breaking Obama’s way, it shouldn’t be heresy to recognize that McCain needs an improbable series of breaks. Analysts get paid to analyze, and cable news has airtime to fill, so pundits have an incentive to make politics seem complicated. In the end, though, it’s usually pretty simple.”

Romney’s $45 Million Gamble

Mitt Romney wrote off the $45 million he loaned his failed presidential campaign, according to the Boston Globe.

“Romney’s decision to formally reclassify his loans as contributions — a seemingly small bureaucratic gesture — removes a deceptively large obstacle to his vice presidential nomination. Had he become McCain’s veep without giving up hope of retrieving the cash, Romney might have wasted a lot of time at fund-raisers trying to retire his personal debt. McCain, obviously, would prefer a vice president who’s free to do other things and willing to use his fund-raising time to help the party. So Romney is signaling to McCain that he’s willing to join the ticket free and clear.”

Battleground Stretches West

“Western Republican states that mostly were ignored by Democrats until Sen. Barack Obama ‘showed up’ are turning into political battlegrounds in the 2008 election,” according to the Washington Times

Obama “is aggressively challenging Sen. John McCain in at least six of them, including Republican strongholds New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Montana and North and South Dakota, where polls show the race between the two rivals is close or in a dead heat.”

His strategy has two parts: “First and foremost, these states have been trending Democratic in the past decade and are ripe for the taking. Second, the closeness of the presidential race demands picking up additional electoral votes in Republican territory to offset potential losses in major tossup states like Florida and Ohio.”

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports Obama “is using his fundraising advantage over McCain to build a network of campaign workers in states Republicans have dominated for decades.”

Obama Winning Over Clinton Donors

The Washington Post “has now conducted its own analysis of how Clinton supporters directed their money in June. More than 2,200 Clinton donors became first-time Obama donors, giving him $1.8 million of the $52 million he raised last month. Of those, 355 contributed at least $2,000, for a total of $1 million.”

Begich Pulls Away in Alaska Senate Race

A new Rasmussen Reports survey in Alaska finds Mark Begich (D) now leading Sen. Ted Stevens, 52% to 44%.

The poll comes after Begich began running his first television ads in the race.

McCain Fuels Veep Rumors

With rumors swirling that Sen. John McCain might name his running mate this week, his campaign seems intent on keeping the intrigue going.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a reporter asked McCain “outright if he would be announcing his running mate in New Hampshire on Tuesday. McCain responded with a mischievous grin and silently backed away.”

Aide Mark Salter added, “I’m not denying, I’m not confirming.”

Meanwhile, the McCain campaign said they will hold a previously undisclosed event in Louisiana on Thursday designed to “capture some of the attention” from Obama on the day he will make a big speech in Berlin. Could it be the unveiling of his running mate?

The Washington Post confirms McCain will meet with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, widely believed to be on McCain’s short list.

First Read: “Are the McCain folks throwing shiny metal objects into the air as the political world fixates on Obama?”

Obama’s Trip a Success

The early reviews of Sen. Barack Obama’s foreign trip conclude he’s executed it flawlessly and has been helped out by a bit of good luck as well.

“After a day spent meeting Iraqi leaders and American military commanders,” theNew York Times notes Obama “seemed to have navigated one of the riskiest parts of a weeklong international trip without a noticeable hitch and to have gained a new opportunity to blunt attacks on his national security credentials by his Republican rival in the presidential race, Senator John McCain.”

The Washington Post focuses on the news that the Iraqi leader backs Obama’s withdrawal plan for U.S. troops saying “the curious turn of events made for an unexpected opening act…demonstrating anew the combination of agility and good fortune that has marked his campaign.”

The trip has also been a public relations bonanza for Obama with him dominating all news coverage for the week. All three television news anchors traveled abroad to interview him and he’ll be on Meet the Press with Tom Brokaw on Sunday.

Udall Has Edge in Colorado

“With a hefty war chest and a lead in the polls,” CQ Politics notes that Rep. Mark Udall’s (D-CO) “prospects of taking over the Senate seat of retiring Republican Sen. Wayne Allard appear to be brightening.”

As a result, CQ is changing its rating of the high-profile Colorado Senate race to reflect a slight edge for Udall, who is facing Republican former Rep. Bob Schaffer. The race is now rated Leans Democratic.

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