POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 12/12

Franken Wins Decision on Absentee Ballots

Minnesota elections officials unanimously voted to require local election boards to count approximately 1,600 absentee ballots that were disqualified by clerical error, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

The move could significantly boost Al Franken’s (D) prospects of catching Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) in the recount of their U.S. Senate race.

Emanuel Gave Blagojevich List of Names

Law enforcement sources tell Fox News Chicago that Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel had multiple conversations with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and gave him a list of “acceptable names” for filling Sen. Barack Obama’s Senate seat.

The conversations between Emanuel and Blogojevich were reportedly taped. Those would be tapes worth hearing — without the bleeps.

Blagojevich Chief of Staff Quits

John Harris resigned today as Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s chief of staff, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Harris was also arrested on Tuesday morning for his role in the pay-to-play scheme for filling the state’s vacant Senate seat, among other things.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I’m getting regular death threats. You’ve put my home address on national television. I’m pissed at the networks. You’ve intruded too much.”

— White House chief of staff-designate Rahm Emanuel, quoted by ABC News, to reporters at his house wanting to ask him about his contacts with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Madigan Moves to Push Blagojevich From Office

Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan (D) “filed a motion with the Illinois Supreme Court today aimed at removing Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office,” the Chicago Tribunereports.

“In the motion, Madigan argues that given the nature and severity of the allegations against Blagojevich, the Supreme Court should stop the governor from performing his duties. She asks the court to allow Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn to temporarily assume those duties under the Governor Succession Act in state law.”

Ranking the Scandals

While the Blagojevich pay-to-play scandal is getting the headlines, The Fix only ranks it seventh among recent political scandals.

Is Emanuel the Obama Advisor on Tape?

President-elect Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, “refused to take questions from reporters this morning about whether he was the ‘Obama advisor’ named in the criminal complaint against Gov. Rod Blagojevich,” the Chicago Sun Times reports.

Blagojevch “was caught on tape saying that he wanted the Obama advisor in question to know what Blagojevich wanted in exchange” for appointing Senate Candidate 1 — believed to be Obama friend Valerie Jarrett — to the U.S. Senate.

Emanuel was also “uncharacteristically absent” from Obama’s news conference yesterday morning.

McCain Appears on Letterman

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) made a very funny appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman last night. McCain said he met with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich soon after the 2002 election.

A brief excerpt:

John McCain: I don’t want to talk about the bleeping campaign. Understand? If you think I’m going to go back to that bleeping situation, then bleep you.

David Letterman: OK. Whoa. Do you know this guy, the governor of Illinois?

McCain: He came to my office one time after he was elected governor, at his request. And told me he was going to be a great reformer.

Letterman: Really? Is that right?

McCain: I’m not making it up. That he wanted to do like I had done in the Senate and have all these reforms. I really must have impressed the guy.

Letterman: Now, John, in your experience, and this is what everybody is saying — the guy is either stupid or he’s nuts. What do you think?

McCain: I think a rare combination of both.

Why McCain Didn’t Use Wright as an Issue

Sen. John McCain’s top pollster, Bill McInturff, explained yesterday that “attacking Barack Obama over his relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright would not have helped McCain’s campaign and could have destroyed his presidency, had he been elected,” Politico reports.

Said McInturff:  “I said ‘Look, if we do win we’ll win with about 273 electoral votes and we’ll lose the popular vote by 3 million.’ If [McCain] had used that issue that way, you’d already be delegitimized as a president. You couldn’t function as government.”

Quote of the Day

“Thankfully, a long time ago.”

— Obama adviser David Axelrod, quoted by ABC News, on the last time he spoke with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Jackson Will Talk to Prosecutors Today

Time notes that Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) later today “is scheduled to explain to federal prosecutors his efforts to win President-elect Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat.”

Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune quotes sources claiming people close to Jackson were actively raising campaign cash for Blagojevich to secure the Senate appointment for him.

Obama Sought Distance from Blagojevich Early On

The Washington Post highlights that long before federal prosecutors charged Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich with bribery this week, President-elect Obama “had worked to distance himself from his home-state governor. The two men have not talked for more than a year, colleagues said, save for a requisite handshake at a funeral or public event. Blagojevich rarely campaigned for Obama and never stumped with him.”

More proof: At the Democratic convention last summer, Obama’s campaign even “made speaking offers to the Illinois treasurer, the comptroller, the attorney general and a Chicago city clerk” leaving Blagojevich to joke that he got a speaking slot at 4 am in the men’s room.

But did Obama’s aides — particularly those rooted in Chicago politics — feel the same way?

Doyle McManus sounds a warning: “The question is, when the tapes and transcripts of their conversations are released, will there be something that makes us cringe? In short, when Obama’s team talked with the governor, were they operating under Obama’s rules — or Chicago rules? More important: How will Obama react if someone on his team made a misstep?”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“Politics is a contact sport. Only those on the sidelines have clean uniforms.”

— The Rev. Jesse Jackson, quoted by ABC News.

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