February 23, 2009

Why Matthews Didn’t Run

Chuck Todd on why Chris Matthews ultimately didn’t run for U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania: “Because [Chris] had a really good friend of his say to him, ‘What are you going to do when you get there?’ and he couldn’t answer the question and he realized that, and that’s why he didn’t run. It was a childhood dream to be a senator, but he didn’t know what he was going to do if he got there.”

Bush’s Next Gig

Former President George W. Bush is now represented by the Washington Speakers Bureau:

“President during a momentous period in American history, George W. Bush offers his thoughts on eight years in the Oval Office, the challenges facing our nation in the 21st century, the power of freedom, the role of faith, and other pressing issues.”

Bunning Apologizes

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) issued the following apology for his remarks about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg over the weekend:

“I apologize if my comments offended Justice Ginsberg. That certainly was not my intent. It is great to see her back at the Supreme Court today and I hope she recovers quickly. My thoughts and prayers are with her and her family.”

The statement did misspell Ginsburg’s name, however.

Greenberg vs. Penn

Dispatches from the War Room: In the Trenches with Five Extraordinary LeadersMark Blumenthal: “Of the many stories in Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg’s new book, Dispatches from the War Room, the most newsworthy may be his slashing condemnation of Mark Penn, the pollster that displaced him within the inner circles of both President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.”

Key accusation: Greenberg says Penn’s polling methods are “rigged.”

Ginsburg Goes Back to Work

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is expected to be in attendance when the Supreme Court returns from a three-week break today, the AP reports.

Ginsburg had surgery for pancreatic cancer on Feb. 5.

Obama’s Auto Team Drives Imports

The Detroit News reports that “vehicles owned by the Obama administration’s auto team could reflect one reason why Detroit’s Big Three automakers are in trouble: The list includes few new American cars.”

“Among the eight members named Friday to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and the 10 senior policy aides who will assist them in their work, two own American models.”

Obama Approval Slightly Lower

President Obama “remains highly popular among the U.S. public at the end of his first month in office,” according to the latest Gallup poll

“However, the 63% of Americans currently approving of his job performance is down slightly from his initial 68% rating in January. The percentage disapproving has doubled, from 12% to 24%.”

Like several other polls have shown, the slippage is almost entirely attributable to Republican voters.

Republicans Follow Newt’s Playbook

“Republicans are hatching a political comeback by dusting off a strategic playbook written nearly two decades ago,” Politico reports.

Three key themes: “Unite against Democrats’ economic policy, block and counter health care reform and tar them with spending scandals.”

In 1994, Republicans used this same strategy to complete a historic takeover of Congress.

Burris Consultant Distances Himself

Political consultant Bud Jackson, who has advised Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) in the past, sent out a memo early this morning making clear he was not advising Burris in handling his current problems.

Wrote Jackson: “His team’s public relations efforts have been less than stellar. Turns out that, because my business is political communication, I need to let folks know that I have not been involved in the decisions that have led to the public relations fiasco over the past week. In fact, I actively counseled his team to take very different actions, to no avail.”

Meanwhile, Politico looks at “how Burris blew it.”

Shelby Backs Off, Newspaper Stands By Story

Though Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) backed away from his comments questioningPresident Obama’s citizenship, Cullman Times editor Derek Price emailed Ben Smithto say that his reporter affirmed to him that “we reported Shelby’s comments on Obama’s birth certificate accurately and completely… We stand by our story.”

Democrats Defending More Governor’s Seats

The 38 elections for governors in the current election cycle — two in 2009 and 36 in 2010 — “will provide a big test of whether the presumed advantages of incumbency can survive troubled times,” CQ Politics reports.

“The Democrats, who have been on a national roll since the 2006 elections, are defending a 28-22 advantage in governor’s seats, and have slightly more seats, 21 to the Republicans’ 17, in this election cycle. And of those 21, five are in states — Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Wyoming — that normally are Republican strongholds… Yet the list of states where Republicans are trying to hold onto governorships, though shorter than the Democrats’ list, is even more purple.”

House Democrats Target 12 Republicans on Stimulus Vote

A dozen House Republicans are targeted in a new House Democratic political campaign that criticizes the GOP lawmakers for opposing President Obama’s economic stimulus package, CNN reports.

February 22, 2009

Bunning Predicts Ginsburg Will Die Within Nine Months

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) “predicted over the weekend that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would likely be dead from pancreatic cancer within nine months,” the Louisville Courier-Journal reports.

Bunning said Ginsburg has “bad cancer. The kind that you don’t get better from.”

Palin Mends Fences at Home

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) “is uncharacteristically shunning the spotlight this week in an apparent effort to repair damage to her political stature back home,” according to The Hill

“Even though just about every big-name governor and leading conservative will be in Washington this week, the former vice presidential candidate skipped this weekend’s National Governors Association meeting and will be absent from the Conservative Political Action Conference later this week.”

RelatedCQ Politics has a good round up of other governors on the Sunday shows.

Sebelius Hasn’t Spoken with Obama About HHS

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) says she has had no conversations with President Obama about possibly joining his Cabinet as health secretary, the APreports.

Quote of the Day

“Well, Governor Sanford says that he does not want to take the money, the federal stimulus package money. And I want to say to him: I’ll take it. I’m more than happy to take his money or any other governor in this country that doesn’t want to take this money.”

— California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), interviewed on This Week, about some Republican governors saying they will not take money from the recently passed economic stimulus package.

Obama Accused of Running Perpetual Campaign

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), a former RNC chairman, told CNN that President Obama’s recent travel is an indication that the new president is already running for reelection.

Said Barbour: “He’s going to those places for a reason. I mean David Axelrod, who’s his campaign consultant/manager/guru really is one of the brightest, most capable people in American politics. And so this is what we’ve become accustomed to, the perpetual campaign.”

Shelby Doubts Obama Citizenship

Alan Keyes isn’t the only one keeping alive rumors that Barack Obama isn’t a natural born citizen. 

At an event last week in Alabama, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) answered a question from a constituent in a way that indicates he still holds doubts, according to theCullman Times.

Said Shelby: “Well his father was Kenyan and they said he was born in Hawaii, but I haven’t seen any birth certificate. You have to be born in America to be president.”

Meanwhile, Ben Smith emailed a Shelby staffer for clarification of the senator’s position.

New Jobs Elude Bush Appointees

“The jobless rate is hanging high — for many of the roughly 3,000 political appointees who served President George W. Bush. Finding work has proved a far tougher task than those appointees expected,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Only 25% to 30% of ex-Bush officials seeking full-time jobs have succeeded… That is much, much worse than when Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton left the White House.”

Emanuel on the Job

Ryan Lizza’s profile in the New Yorker is today’s must read piece:

“Unlike recent chiefs of staff from the Bush and Clinton eras, who tended to be relatively quiet inside players, Emanuel is a former congressional leader, a Democratic Party power, and one of the more colorful Beltway celebrities. He is a political John McEnroe, known for both his mercurial temperament and his tactical brilliance. In the same conversation, he can be wonkish and thoughtful, blunt and profane… And, like McEnroe, Emanuel seems to employ his volcanic moments for effect, intimidating opponents and referees alike but never quite losing himself in the midst of battle.”

Paterson Brings Back Former Aide

A former top aide to New York Gov. David Paterson, who resigned amid a tax scandal last year, “will return to help oversee the governor’s 2010 re-election campaign,” the New York Times reports.

Charles O’Byrne’s “new role will be as an outside unpaid political adviser… a setup that will allow Mr. O’Byrne to continue to work on behalf of private clients as a consultant.”

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