Odds Favor Begich in Alaska

Fifty six percent of the 41,000 votes yet to be counted in Alaska’s U.S. Senate race come from areas of the state that backed Mark Begich (D) over Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) on Election Day, according to analysis by the Anchorage Daily News.

Begich currently holds an 814 vote lead.

The state will count about 40% of remaining ballots today and the rest early next week.

Borrow and Spend

How big is our national debt? Really big.

Quote of the Day

“First of all, I hope Senator Stevens is successful in being re-elected. And assuming that he is, I intend to support any motion to remove him.”

— Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), quoted by Roll Call, on the still unresolved race of convicted Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK).

Obama’s Favorite Book

The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin is clearly the book of the day.

With Sen. Barack Obama considering former rival Sen. Hillary Clinton for a post in his administration, it’s useful to remember that President-elect Obama told CBS News during the campaign that Goodwin’s book was the one “essential” book other than the Bible he would want to guide him in his administration.

Said Obama: “It was a biography of Lincoln. And she talks about Lincoln’s capacity to bring opponents of his and people who have run against him in his cabinet. And he was confident enough to be willing to have these dissenting voices and confident enough to listen to the American people and push them outside of their comfort zone. And I think that part of what I want to do as president is push Americans a little bit outside of their comfort zone. It’s a remarkable study in leadership.”

Obama to Pay Bonuses to Campaign Staff

Sen. Barack Obama “ended his campaign so flush with cash he’s telling staffers to keep the change — and then some,” according to the New York Daily News.

“Long-suffering political footsoldiers who toiled tirelessly, at least since September, to put Obama in the White House recently learned they will be getting extra paychecks worth a month’s salary.”

Vote Fluctuations in Minnesota Not Unusual

Despite the legal saber-rattling as the campaigns gear up for a recount in Minnesota,WCCO-TV notes the changing vote totals “may look suspicious” but “it’s really not that unusual.”

“The night that Sen. Norm Coleman defeated former Vice President Walter Mondale in the 2002 U.S. Senate race he piled up more than 1,062,000 votes. But when all the ballots were certified two weeks later, Coleman had 54,000 more votes… Between election night voting numbers, and two weeks later when the State Canvassing Board certified official results, Coleman gained 54,429 votes. Mondale’s vote total also went up 63,192 votes, but not enough to beat Coleman.”

“It’s what happens in Minnesota elections. We just don’t pay attention when the race isn’t close.”

Why Obama Wants Clinton in Cabinet

First Read: “The best reason for Obama to be looking for a place in his cabinet for Clinton is simple: to get her out of the Senate. Just ask George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter what it was like to have a once or future presidential rival in the Senate serving as a one-person Roman tribunal. Remember how easily the press gravitated to John McCain in ’01 or Bob Kerrey in ’93 or Ted Kennedy in ’77 to allow them to be one-senator judge/juries on Administration proposals? The upside for Obama putting Clinton at State (or even the Pentagon) is that it gets her out of the Senate and gets her out of the domestic policy debates. Also, one other thing to keep in mind if Clinton does end up at State, she’ll be off the political circuit; it’s considered unseemly to practice politics while serving in one of the big cabinet posts, especially at State or Defense. So this would mean no more Hillary on the stump for candidates, no more Hillary raising money, no more Hillary collecting chits.”

Did Clinton Meet With Obama?

Though Sen. Hillary Clinton was in Chicago yesterday — at the same time buzz of her consideration for Secretary of State escalated — there’s no proof she actually met with President-elect Obama.

However, there is this hint from the pool report: “Several minutes before President-elect Obama’s motorcade emerged from the basement garage beneath his transition headquarters, another unidentified motorcade of approximately three SUVs left the garage.”

UpdateMarc Ambinder has sources that confirm Clinton met with Obama mid-afternoon yesterday and that Rahm Emanuel sat in on at least parts of the meeting.

Obama to Meet With McCain

President-elect Obama’s transition office released this statement:

“On Monday, President-elect Barack Obama and Senator John McCain will meet in Chicago at transition headquarters. It’s well known that they share an important belief that Americans want and deserve a more effective and efficient government, and will discuss ways to work together to make that a reality. They will be joined in the meeting by Senator Lindsey Graham and Congressman Rahm Emanuel.”

Life in a Bubble

“Life for the newly chosen president and his family has changed forever,” the New York Times reports. 

“Even the constraints and security of the campaign trail do not compare to the bubble that has enveloped him in the 10 days since his election. Renegade, as the Secret Service calls him, now lives within the strict limits that come with the most powerful office on the planet.”

EBay Bans Tickets to Obama’s Swearing-In

The Washington Post reports eBay is banning sales of tickets to the swearing in of President-elect Obama “after a U.S. senator said she was crafting a bill to make the sales a federal crime.”

“The 240,000 or so tickets, which will be available for free, have not been distributed by members of Congress or the yet-to-be created presidential inaugural committee. But that did not stop people from offering them on eBay and other Web sites, promising they would secure the tickets if they were paid up to $40,000 apiece.”

Clinton Eyed for State

Two Obama advisers have told NBC News that Sen. Hillary Clinton is under consideration to be secretary of state. She was seen taking a flight to Chicago today, though an aide claimed it was for “personal business.”

The Washington Post hears the same chatter and notes the pick “would go a long way toward healing any remaining divisions within the Democratic Party after the divisive primaries. Also, Clinton has long been known for her work on international women’s issues and human rights. The former first lady could also enhance Obama’s efforts to restore U.S. standing amongst allies worldwide.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“It unfortunately sent a message that she was the de facto leader of the party.”

— A Republican governor, quoted by CNN, on Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s three minute press conference earlier today.

Health Care Could Be Part of Stimulus Package

Greg Sargent hears that Democratic Senate staffers “involved in planning health care reform are starting to mull an interesting solution: Paying for reform as part of the big economic stimulus package that the lame-duck Congress is debating.”

Dean Not Contender for Health Secretary

DNC Chairman Howard Dean “is not a serious contender to be secretary of health and human services in the new Obama administration,” Politico reports.

“Dean’s name has appeared on short lists for the Cabinet post circulating throughout Washington, based largely on his party chairmanship and career as a doctor.”

“But the chief attributes President-elect Barack Obama is seeking in his HHS secretary will be an ability to work with members of Congress and shepherd reform legislation through the House and Senate. That job description has turned out to be a particularly ill-suited one for Dean, given his partisan background and lack of congressional experience.”





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