POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 11/12

Lieberman Likely Saved By Obama

“With President-elect Obama’s fingerprints seemingly everywhere, momentum appears to be building among Senate Democrats to let Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) keep his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee,” according to Roll Call.

“However, Democrats still say they are exploring options for penalizing Lieberman in other ways for his disloyalty to the party during the 2008 election cycle. Those options might include stripping him of two plum subcommittee chairmanships, or taking away his membership on either the Armed Services or Environment and Public Works panels.”

Biden Picks Klain for Chief of Staff

Vice President-elect Biden has asked former White House staffer Ron Klain to be his chief of staff in the White House, Roll Call reports.

“Klain, who served in the same position for former Vice President Gore, also worked from 1989-1992 for Biden when Biden was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and is known to be close to the vice president-elect.”

Begich Closes Gap with Stevens

Early results from this afternoon’s ballot counting in the Alaska U.S. Senate race show Mark Begich (D) gaining ground against Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), according to the Anchorage Daily News.

There are still tens of thousands of ballots left to count “and even more next week, but the latest numbers show Stevens’ lead is down to 971 votes.” 

On Election night, Stevens led the Begich by about 3,000 votes.

Update: The Anchorage Daily News reports the official tally now has Begich leading by three votes. There are still “10,000 ballots left to count today and thousands more through next week.”

The First Family

The Obama family is on the cover of People magazine with a spread about how they will adjust to living in the White House.

Palin Matters

Andrew Sullivan: “Some readers think my continuing attempt to expose all the lies and flim-flam and bizarre behavior of Sarah Palin is now moot. She’s history — they argue. Move on. I think she probably is history. Even Bill Kristol and his minions in the McCain-Palin campaign may not be able to resuscitate her political viability now. But even if she is history, she is history that matters.”

The Power of Nancy Pelosi

One of the most fascinating political stories of our generation is the rise of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. A must-read Politico piece shows how she wields her considerable power.

“As Pelosi enters her third year as speaker, by any measure, she has become the most powerful woman in U.S. political history and is now preparing to wield her gavel in a way that few, if any, recent speakers could match. Even former Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, the architect of the 1994 Republican Revolution, pales in comparison. Pelosi is being mentioned by observers in the same breath as the legendary Sam Rayburn and Tip O’Neill, although she has yet to assemble a legislative record to match theirs…”

“From top to bottom, she is a controlling presence in the House — Pelosi forbids her staff to use the word ‘I’ in speeches. Pelosi has called politics ‘a free hedge-clipping service,’ meaning that any pols who seek too much attention will get their head handed to them.”

The Plum Book

The latest edition of the Plum Book — a compilation of all of the political jobs in the Bush Administration — is out today. 

It’s a must read for anyone interested in working in the Obama administration. The book includes who currently holds each position along with salary information.

The Bush Factor

First Read: “Many have attributed Obama’s win to his organization, his performance among minorities and young voters, his nearly unlimited campaign cash, and his response to the economic meltdown — and all deservedly so. But don’t forget how big of a role Bush’s unpopularity played in this election. With the single exception of Missouri (which barely went for McCain after a delayed call from NBC News), Obama won every state where Bush’s approval rating was below 35% in the exit polls, and he lost every state where Bush’s approval rating was over 35%. The state with the highest Bush rating? Utah, at 47%, which supported McCain by a 29-point margin. The place with the lowest? Washington DC, at 8%, where McCain got just 7% of the vote.”

Edwards Didn’t Mention Affair

John Edwards “didn’t have to dodge tough questions from an Indiana University audience Tuesday, when the former presidential candidate returned to the stage three months after admitting to an extramarital affair,” the AP reports.

The reason: “The half-hour question-and-answer period featured only written queries that had been submitted before his speech — and the affair he has acknowledged with filmmaker Rielle Hunter didn’t surface.”

Foley Breaks Silence

“Even today, two years after Mark Foley’s very public fall from grace, the former congressman can’t explain why he sent lurid, sexually explicit computer messages to male teens who had worked as Capitol Hill pages,” according to an AP interview.

Said Foley: “It’s not what I had hoped would be my lasting legacy.”

Key Senator Prepares for Health Care Push

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, “will release a sweeping proposal to overhaul the health-care system that largely reflects President-elect Barack Obama’s vision, increasing the chances for action next year,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“There is one important difference between the initiative coming from” Baucus and the plan Obama “laid out during his presidential campaign: Mr. Baucus would require all Americans to have health insurance, while Mr. Obama has rejected the idea of a mandate.”

Said Baucus: “I believe — very strongly — that every American has a right to high-quality health care…and I believe Americans cannot wait any longer.”

UpdatePaul Krugman says “this looks very good for the reformers. There’s now a reasonable chance that universal health care will be enacted next year!”

Quote of the Day

“Our party has a lot of work to do. We just got back from the woodshed.”

— Sen. John McCain, in an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno

Richardson, Kerry Vie for Secretary of State

The Wall Street Journal covers the intense jockeying of several politicians to become President-elect Obama’s Secretary of State.

Among those mentioned: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Sen. John Kerry, Richard Holbrooke, Sen. Chuck Hagel and Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Sen. Richard Lugar is also mentioned, and he did take a call from Obama this week, but a spokesman says he’s not interested in the job.

Vilsack Seen for Agriculture Post

Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) “has emerged as the frontrunner for the post of Agriculture secretary in the Obama administration,” CQ Politics reports.

Capitol Hill aides, agriculture interest groups and people close to the transition all say Vilsack is the clear favorite for the position, though Obama is not believed to have interviewed anybody for the job yet.” 

Jackson Leads Field of Obama Replacements

A new Zogby poll in Illinois finds Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) is the favorite among possible replacements to fill the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

“The survey shows that, given a choice of 10 possible candidates, 21% think Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) should appoint Jackson to the seat when Obama leaves it vacant to ascend to the presidency, far more than the rest of the field. Tammy Duckworth (D), a former congressional candidate from a suburban Chicago district, is the only other potential candidate to win double-digit support — 14% said she should be appointed.”

UpdateRoger Simon notes the poll also provides some interesting ammunition for Duckworth. 

“Jackson has a 43 percent favorable rating and a 22 percent unfavorable rating, which gives him a net favorable of 21. Duckworth has a favorable rating of 31 and an unfavorable rating of 9, which gives her a net favorable of 22, a point higher than Jackson.

“Many more people know Jackson than know Duckworth. Only 35 percent of those polled were not familiar with or not sure about him, compared with 60 percent who were not familiar with or not sure about Duckworth. So her net favorable could shrink. Or grow.”

Jindal Never Vetted By McCain

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) “was approached by McCain forces to gauge his interest in the vice presidency and told them he was not interested in being vetted due to his desire to continue on with his current job, to which he was elected just one year ago,” the Washington Post reports.

That was the official reason. However, “there was also real trepidation within his political inner circle that Jindal might wind up as the pick… and be caught up in what they believed to be a less-than-stellar campaign that could pin a loss on Jindal without much ability to change or control the direction of the contest.”

“The end result — intentional or not — is that Jindal, should he run in 2012, will be free of any taint of President George W. Bush or McCain.”8

Specter Leads in Potential Matchup with Matthews

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Pennsylvania shows Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) leading Hardball host Chris Matthews (D), 40% to 27%, in a potential 2010 U.S. Senate race.

The good news for Matthews: “People are at least open to the possibility of voting for him, hence Specter’s standing well below 50%, usually not good news for an incumbent.” Also, there’s “an indication that his celebrity could help bring him some crossover support. Specter is carrying only 50% of the Republican vote.”

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