POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 12/5

Speechwriter Caught in Embrassing Photo

A photo of President-elect Obama’s chief speechwriter, Jon Favreau, groping a cardboard cutout of Sen. Hillary Clinton surfaced online, according to theWashington Post.

Favreau declined comment but a transition official said that Favreau had “reached out to Senator Clinton to offer an apology.”

Sebelius for Agriculture?

The Kansas City Star says the three leading candidates for secretary of agriculture in the Obama administration are Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D), Rep. John Salazar (D-CO) and Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA).

Dean Jokes About Not Getting Rahm’s Job

In a forthcoming interview, DNC Chairman Howard Dean noted that Rep. Rahm Emanuel wasn’t an early fan of his 50-state strategy, which helped put Barack Obama in the White House.

When asked if he felt vindicated, Dean said, “Rahm ended up as chief of staff to Barack Obama, so I don’t feel too vindicated.”

He added, “I might have been right but I’d rather be chief of staff.”

Fastest Transition in Modern History

President-elect Obama “is moving more quickly to fill his administration’s top ranks than any newly elected president in modern times,” the New York Times reports. 

“He has named virtually the entire top echelon of his White House staff and nearly half of his cabinet. Just a month after his election, Mr. Obama has announced his selections for 13 of the 24 most important positions in a new administration.”

“By comparison, Bill Clinton had filled only one of those jobs by this point in his transition, and Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan only two. Even the elder George Bush, who had the advantage of succeeding a fellow Republican, had picked just eight a month after his election. George W. Bush, stalled by the Florida recount, had named a chief of staff at this point in 2000 but was waiting to find out if he would even become president.”

Quote of the Day

“He says we only have one president at a time. I’m afraid that overstates the number of presidents we have. He’s got to remedy that situation.”

— Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), quoted by the Associated Press, urging President-elect Obama to intervene in the auto bailout proposal.

Questioning Palin’s Pregnancy

Andrew Sullivan wants someone to prove him wrong in questioning whether Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is actually the mother of her fifth child, Trig. 

“Please make me look like an idiot for asking these questions,” he writes.

But despite a private meeting with the McCain campaign and interviews with eight of the leading obstetricians in the country, he still wonders whether “we have witnessed one of the biggest frauds in American political history and the biggest failures among the American media in a very, very long time.”

Lessons from LBJ?

CQ Politics: “When it comes to ex-presidents and governing, some of the most pertinent lessons for President-elect Obama might be drawn from Lyndon B. Johnson, the sometimes boorish, often bullying ex-Senate majority leader, who managed to enact an ambitious and controversial agenda by alternately cultivating, cajoling and browbeating Congress.”

There are no better books than those by Robert Caro on Lyndon Johnson, but we’re still waiting for Caro’s final book of the series that deals with LBJ’s presidency. I can’t wait.

Caroline Kennedy Weighs Senate Appointment

“Another Senator Kennedy? The crazy speculation about Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat may not be so crazy after all. A Democrat who would know tells ABC News that New York governor David Paterson has talked to Caroline Kennedy about taking the seat, which was once held by her uncle, Robert F. Kennedy. It’s not exactly shocking that Paterson would reach out to one of the most highly respected public figures in New York, but this is: Sources say Kennedy is considering it, and has not ruled out coming to Washington to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate.”

Supreme Court Considers Obama Citizenship

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide today “whether to take up a case over president-elect Barack Obama’s citizenship — one of a few around the country seeking to nullify his election, but this one has an interesting lineage,” Politico notes. “It was referred to the high court by Justice Clarence Thomas, the court’s only African-American justice.”

“Maybe Thomas is just returning the favor — putting through a case that questions whether Obama should be president, after Obama said he wouldn’t have picked Thomas for the high court.”

Biden Asks Donors to Retire Clinton Debt

Early this morning, the Obama campaign sent out a fundraising email on behalf of Sen. Hillary Clinton to help reduce her campaign debt. 

The email came from Vice President-elect Joe Biden and asked their massive list of supporters to help Clinton “retire her campaign debt. That’s the money her campaign owes to the vendors across the country that make our political process possible.”

Rangel Steered Campaign Money to Son

Embattled Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) steered nearly $80,000 in campaign cash to a company run by his son to develop web sites, according to Politico.

The sites were “so poorly designed an expert estimated one should have cost no more than $100 to create.”

Obama Had a $400 Million Edge

The final presidential fundraising reports are in and Barack Obama’s campaign raised roughly $745 million for his 2008 presidential campaign, ABC News reports. 

By comparison, Sen. John McCain raised roughly $320 million, including the $84 million from entering into the public financing system.

However, when money raised by the national parties is taken into account, the Democrats likely raised closer to one billion dollars, compared to roughly $630 million for the Republicans. Which means Obama had, approximately, a $400 million advantage over McCain.

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