Quote of the Day

“I think you can be sure I will stick to my principles but I will do it from within the tent and therefore I am not going to dicuss what I will offer as counsel.”

— Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), in an interview on CNBC, discussing his pending nomination as President Obama’s Commerce secretary.

Scarborough Blasts Republican Leaders

Coming in May: The Last Best Hope: Restoring Conservatism and America’s Promise by MSNBC host Joe Scarborough.

statement from the publisher: “The book will offer a searing indictment of the Republican leaders who destroyed their party and crippled our country, while offering a clear path of recovery to conservatives who are ready to take their country back.”

Blumenthal Mulls Challenge to Lieberman in 2012

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D), “who has teased a generation of political watchers with his quadrennial deliberations over whether to run for governor, has opted again to sit out the race,” the Hartford Courant reports.

Instead, The Hill reports Blumenthal is “mulling a challenge against Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) in 2012.”

“Multiple Connecticut Democrats, speaking on condition of anonymity, say Blumenthal has begun informing influential members of the state’s political class that he will prepare for a run against Lieberman.”

Another White House Cocktail Party

President Obama will host congressional leaders at another White House cocktail party tonight, according to Politico.

They did the same thing last week.

Four Cabinet Vacancies Remain

The CQ Cabinet Tracker shows that two Obama picks — Rep. Hilda Solis, for Labor secretary, and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, for trade representative — were announced on December 19 yet remain unconfirmed. We’ve heard very little about the reason for the delay.

The two other openings are at Commerce, where Sen. Judd Gregg was just nominated, and HHS, where Obama now needs to find a replacement for Tom Daschle.

Paterson Leaks Intended to Smear Kennedy

New York Times investigation of the appointment process to fill New York’s vacant U.S. Senate seat finds that “it’s clear” that New York Gov. David Paterson’s (D) administration “released confidential information” about Caroline Kennedy “and misled reporters about its significance as part of an orchestrated effort to discredit her after she withdrew.”

“According to advisers to the governor who were involved in the process, the leaks against Ms. Kennedy were coordinated by Judith A. Smith, a consultant who has been acting as the governor’s top communications strategist.”

Apparently, Fred Dicker was right.

Update: The New York Daily News reports Smith was formerly deputy White House press secretary under President Bush. 

Senate Democrats Don’t Have Votes for Stimulus Package

Washington Post: “Senate Democratic leaders conceded yesterday that they do not have the votes to pass the stimulus bill as currently written and said that to gain bipartisan support, they will seek to cut provisions that would not provide an immediate boost to the economy.”

A Splash of Cold Water

Maureen Dowd: “It took Daschle’s resignation to shake the president out of his arrogant attitude that his charmed circle doesn’t have to abide by the lofty standards he lectured the rest of us about for two years… The Democratic president has been spending so much time trying — and failing — to win over Republicans that he may not have noticed the disillusionment in his own ranks. Betrayed by their bankers and leaders, Americans were desperate to trust someone when they made Barack Obama president. His debut has left them skeptical about his willingness to smack down those who would flout his high standards or waste our money.”

First Read: “When Barack Obama launched his presidential bid in Springfield, IL, here’s what he said: ‘I know I haven’t spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I’ve been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change.’ The irony? The folks that have caused him the most trouble in the last two years have old Washington hands like Jim Johnson, Bill Richardson, and Tom Daschle. If President Obama listened to his own rhetoric, he would have avoided all three embarrassments. He’s been making the case of changing the ways Washington did business, and NOT relying on old Washington hands is one of the ways to avoid old mistakes.”

Life of the Press Secretary

U.S. News and World Report asks White House press secretary Robert Gibbs for an “insider’s look” at working in the White House.

Gibbs: “I’m usually getting here at about 6 in the morning. You have access to the smartest people in the world, and you can ask them whatever questions you want. And it’s a tremendous opportunity to learn and a tremendous opportunity to serve. I’ve got this sort of dual role. I need to go to enough meetings so that I’m informed as to his [Obama’s] thinking so that I can inform you all of that, as well as getting ready. And that’s the interesting sweet spot to try to hit.”

Corzine in Trouble in Re-Election Race

Even though few New Jersey voters know much about him, former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie (R) now leads Gov. Jon Corzine (D), 44% to 38%, in this year’s Governor’s race, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.

Key factor: “Voters disapprove 50% to 41% of the job Corzine is doing, continuing a six-month string of negative ratings.”

Democrats Strong in Ohio Senate Race

A new Quinnipiac poll takes an early look at the 2010 U.S. Senate race in Ohio to replace retiring Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH).

Republican primary: Rob Portman leads State Auditor Mary Taylor, 33% to 11%.

Democratic primary: Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher and Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner are deadlocked with more than half of Democratic voters still undecided.

General election: In trial heats, Fisher leads Portman 42% to 27%, and beats Taylor by 41% to 27%. Brunner prevails by smaller margins, 38% to 28% over Portman and 38% to 26% over Taylor.

Interestingly, Ben Smith notes that Gov. Ted Strickland (D) and other Democratic leaders are “pressing” Brunner to stay in her job and backing Fisher instead.

Plouffe Scores Big Book Deal

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe “has agreed to a seven-figure deal to write a book about last year’s presidential election,” the AP reports.

The title: The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama’s Historic Victory.

According to a statement issued by Viking, the book will offer a unique, high-level account, including “the deliberations about whether to run against long odds, the epic primary battle with Hillary Clinton, the drama of the general election campaign against John McCain and the strategic roads taken — and not taken… The book will also detail the business lessons to be learned from the formation and the functioning of an unprecedented $1 billion start-up — use of technology, crisis management, grass roots, and personnel management.”

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