Quote of the Day

“Michael Steele’s days are numbered. Fortunately for us, his days are numbered.”

— Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D), quoted by Politico.

Blackwell Rips Steele

Former rival Ken Blackwell joins the parade of Republicans blasting RNC chief Michael Steele:

From an interview with Townhall: “Chairman Steele, as the leader of America’s Pro-Life conservative party, needs to re-read the Bible, the U.S. Constitution, and the 2008 GOP Platform. He then needs to get to work — or get out of the way.”

Important point: In their race to head the GOP, it was Blackwell’s surprise 4th round endorsement that helped push Steele to victory.

Obama Approval Remains High

A new McClatchy-Ipsos poll found that 65% of Americans approve of the way President Obama is doing his job while 29% disapprove.

Other interesting tidbit: Just 30% of Americans have a favorable opinion of talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

Pelosi Backs Away from Second Stimulus

According to CQ Politics, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who opened the door to a possible second stimulus package, said that she wanted to see how the first $787 billion stimulus package and the $410 omnibus spending law signed Wednesday play out before moving toward a new stimulus.

Weiner Steps Back from Mayoral Bid

After delivering “seemingly ironclad vows” that he would run for New York City mayor, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) “cast serious doubt on his candidacy… telling supporters that he would not decide whether to enter the race until late spring,” theNew York Times reports.

“If he leaves the field, what many had expected to be a spirited Democratic primary could dissolve into a placid affair, with William C. Thompson Jr., the city comptroller, easily winning the nomination in the fall.”

Polls suggest incumbent mayor Michael Bloomberg would crush either Weiner or Thompson in a head-to-head race.

Huckabee Rips Steele

In a statement, Mike Huckabee says the recent comments RNC Chairman Michael Steele made about abortion “are very troubling and despite his clarification today the party stands to lose many of its members and a great deal of its support in the trenches of grassroots politics.”

Meanwhile, Marc Ambinder reports Steele is meeting with former rival Katon Dawson today “to make nice.”

Murphy Gains on Tedisco in NY-20

With less than three weeks until the NY-20 special election, Scott Murphy (D) has cut James Tedisco’s 12 point lead to just 4 points, according to a new Siena Research Institute poll

Tedisco now leads the race 45% to 41%. 

Key factor: “While two weeks ago, voters said Tedisco would do a better job than Murphy representing them on six issues, Murphy now leads on two of those issues, including the most important issue for 20th C.D. voters: the economy.”

A Democratic poll yesterday also showed the race tightening.

Meanwhile, Stuart Rothenberg is calling the race a “pure tossup.”

Corzine Falls Behind Christie

Christopher Christie (R) leads New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) 46% to 37%, “even though 61 percent of voters don’t know enough about the former U.S. Attorney to form an opinion of him,” according to a new Quinnipiac poll

Said pollster Clay Richards: “There are no good numbers for Gov. Jon Corzine in this poll, and since it was taken before his Draconian budget was released, his numbers could be even worse today.”

Congressional Approval Jumps Again

Gallup Poll: “Americans’ job approval rating of Congress is up an additional 8 points this month, after a 12-point increase last month, and now stands at 39% — the most positive assessment of Congress since February 2005.”

Lieberman Supports Dodd for Re-election

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) is backing Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) “in his reelection bid even though Dodd endorsed anti-war activist Ned Lamont in 2006,” The Hill reports.

Said Lieberman: “Oh yes, I’m going to support him. I think he’s been a great senator and a great colleague. We haven’t agreed on everything, but nobody does.”

poll released earlier this week showed Dodd vulnerable in his re-election race.

Steele Backs Away from Abortion Comments

RNC Chairman Michael Steele said that despite telling an interviewer he supports “individual choice” on abortion, he in fact opposes abortion and supports a Constitutional ban, Ben Smith reports.

Steele “has also been reaching out to anti-abortion leaders to damp down the controversy.”

First Read: “The interview might serve to create more room for Steele critics inside the GOP to, well, push him aside — either physically from his position, or like some Dems did with Howard Dean (to be the excuse to start up rival or alternative party building organizations).”

The Inside Man

Margaret Carlson says Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is “at his most impressive when the cameras are off.”

“Here’s Geithner’s problem: He’s an Inside Man. Inside Man has the brain of Einstein and the presence of a flea. Inside Man can’t catch a break in our telegenic age.”

Defense Lobbyist, Relatives Gave Lawmakers $1.5 Million

CQ Politics: “A defense lobbyist and his family made $1.5 million in political contributions from 2000 through 2008 as the lobbyist’s now-embattled firm helped clients win billions of dollars in federal contracts. A sizable chunk of those campaign dollars went to the House members who control Pentagon spending.”

TSA to Investigate Vitter

The Transportation Security Administration “is examining Sen. David Vitter’s much-reported decision to open the closed gateway door to his plane — even though he was warned against it by an airline worker,” reports The Hotline.

Steele Talks Abortion, Homosexuality

In an interview with GQ, RNC Chairman Michael Steele made some statements that will likely be controversial with many of his Republican constituents.

On if women have the right to choose an abortion: “Yeah. I mean, again, I think that’s an individual choice.” 

On whether homosexuality is a choice: “Oh, no. I don’t think I’ve ever really subscribed to that view, that you can turn it on and off like a water tap. Um, you know, I think that there’s a whole lot that goes into the makeup of an individual that, uh, you just can’t simply say, oh, like, ‘Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being gay.’ It’s like saying, ‘Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being black.'”

Obama, Geithner Get Low Marks from Economists

President Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner received failing grades for their efforts to revive the economy from participants in the latest Wall Street Journal forecasting survey.”

“On average, they gave the president a grade of 59 out of 100, and although there was a broad range of marks, 42% of respondents rated Mr. Obama below 60. Mr. Geithner received an average grade of 51. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke scored better, with an average 71.”

Dawson Says He’s Not Seeking No Confidence Vote

Katon Dawson insists to the National Review that he’s not agitating for a no-confidence vote on the RNC Chairman as some GOP insiders claim

I support Michael Steele. Our Committee elected him knowing that he can lead us during this critical time for our Party. The people behind this anonymous rumor are clearly intent on dividing the Republican National Committee and our Party at a time when we need to be united.”

Nonetheless, Jim Geraghty is hearing the same rumors from “former RNC staffers.”

Steele Likens Republican Critics to “Scurrying Mice”

Cal Thomas quotes RNC Chairman Michael Steele ripping into his Republican critics while explaining “he is in stage two of a two-stage process to reform and transform the Republican Party.” 

Said Steele: “The mice who are scurrying about the Hill are upset because they no longer have access to the cheese, so they don’t know what’s going on.”

John Aravosis: “Sounds like stage two of a two-stage process to get himself fired… The man seems to have a political death wish. We’ll see if he survives this one.”

Limbaugh Drags Down GOP

A new Democracy Corps poll shows that talk radio host Rush Limbaugh “weighs down heavily on an already weakened Republican Party — putting Republican leaders and their party’s conservative base voters out of sync with not only Democrats and independents, but even the bloc of moderate Republicans.”

“Remarkably, voters view Limbaugh negatively by a two-to-one ratio (53 to 26 percent), with nearly half the country, 45 percent, viewing him very, very negatively. Among independents, the ratio rises to three-to-one.”

NY-20 Race Tightening

Benenson Strategy Group (D) poll shows the NY-20 special election race getting closer with Jim Tedisco (R) holding a seven point lead, 44% to 37%, over Scott Murphy (D).

One potential problem for Tedisco: Libertarian Eric Sundwall, who the Schenectady Daily Gazette reports petitioned to get on the ballot, received 4% support in the poll.

Vitter Blows Top at Airport

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) made quite a scene at Washington’s Dulles airport last week when trying to catch a flight home, reports Roll Call

The Louisiana senator arrived at his gate to find it already closed and then “opened the door, setting off a security alarm and prompting an airline worker to warn him that entering the gate was forbidden.” Vitter “gave the airline worker an earful, employing the timeworn ‘do-you-know-who-I-am’ tirade that apparently grew quite heated.” 

However, when the worker left to find a security guard, Vitter “turned tail and simply fled the scene.” 

Update: Vitter told the New Orleans Times Picayune that he “accidently” went through the wrong door which set off the alarm and dismissed the rest of the account as “silly gossip.”

Mayoral Candidate Fudges Education Record

Detroit mayoral candidate and former NBA great Dave Bing “has retracted his claim that he earned a master’s degree in business administration but says he doesn’t see it as a ‘big issue,'” the AP reports.

But the Detroit Free Press finds more false claims: “Bing, who has claimed he completed college in four years, actually took nearly three decades to get his degree from Syracuse University.”

Demographics Tilt Against Specter

According to election data tabulated by Roll Call, Sen. Arlen Specter’s (R-PA) suburban Philadelphia base “has seen the sharpest drop in Republican registrations in the state — numbers that collectively exceed his margin of victory over Pat Toomey in the 2004 Republican primary.”

“A simultaneous spike in Democratic enrollment likely means that moderate Republicans switched their registrations over the past four years. The result is bad math for Specter, who will likely face a more conservative GOP electorate in the 2010 primary than he did in 2004.”

Edwards Talks, But Not About Affair

John Edwards “took another tentative step into the public spotlight,” the Raleigh News and Observer reports, “speaking at Brown University about extreme poverty around the world and urging Americans to get involved in what he called a ‘fundamental moral issue.'” 

Edwards “has struggled to get his message heard since a scandal about an affair he had with a former campaign staffer enveloped his personal life.” 

Meanwhile, the National Enquirer, which broke the story about the Edwards affair, says the former senator has admitted to his wife that he’s the father of the baby born to his former mistress.

Becoming McCain

Great observation from First Read: “When it comes to today’s topic du jour — legislative earmarks — it’s fascinating how the political world turned President Obama into… John McCain. That’s right, for those of us who followed the two-year-long presidential campaign, it was McCain who crusaded against earmarks, not Obama (who instead said he would work to reform the process and make it more transparent). In fact, had earmarks been the public’s top concern in November, the Arizona senator probably would have won the election. But, as we all know, it wasn’t.” 

Nonetheless, later this morning Obama “will make an announcement on earmark reform, which comes after the Senate last night passed its $410 billion omnibus spending bill that contains $7.7 billion (or less than 2%) in earmarks.” 

But CQ Politics notes congressional Republicans face an important obstacle in the earmark fight: themselves.

Former Aides Keep Boosting Bush

Even though former President Bush “is keeping quiet in Texas before heading out on a lucrative speaking tour,” Politicoreports that “an informal network of former aides is keeping his views in the political bloodstream, defending his legacy in TV appearances and backgrounding reporters about his record.”

Pelosi Says Second Stimulus Plan May Be Needed

CQ Politics: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi opened the door to the possibility of another stimulus plan — or bank rescue — following a Tuesday meeting with dozens of Democratic members that was attended by a panel of four prominent economists.”

One reason: House Democrats fear the recovery may take too long.

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