POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 3/27

Reid Tried to Get Specter to Flip

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) acknowledged that he had reached out to Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) in recent weeks to try to convince him to abandon the Republican party, reports CQ Politics

But Reid said Specter effectively answered the question by announcing he wouldvote against limiting debate on a major Democratic priority — so-called “card check” legislation that would ease union organizing rules.

Said Reid: “Yes, I’ve talked to him. But I think he — in coming out against card check — kind of stopped everyone from being able to help him.”

Nonetheless, Reid was hopeful Democrats would get their 60-seat filibuster-proof majority in the 2010 elections.

Exchange of the Day

At yesterday’s Senate Budget Committee markup of the fiscal year 2010 budget resolution:

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND): “Oh, you are good.”

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA): “Well, your wife said the same thing.”

According to the Huffington Post, the exchange came after Grassley, the ranking Republican on the committee, pressed Chairman Conrad to include an amendment of his.

Lawmakers Flood FEC with New Filings

Heard in the CQ newsroom:

Since the beginning of March, at least 100 members of Congress have made new or amended filings with the Federal Election Commission to reveal or clarify their connections to so-called Leadership PACs, as required by a 2007 law. As a result, the public will for the first time soon be able to get more complete information — and a clearer understanding — about fundraising vehicles used by House and Senate members.

Cheney, Limbaugh Make Obama’s Job Easier

“One of the reasons why Barack Obama’s political team is so confident,” Marc Ambinder observes, “is that even while some of Obama’s signature policies are viewed with healthy skepticism, Republicans are still splashing around in a fetid wading pool. Obama has room to maneuver because Republicans are giving him room. And while Rove was a master at strategic communications, his lessons didn’t seem to stick. Take the appearances in the public square of Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh…”

“Limbaugh’s ratings have surged since the White House made him the subject of their derision, which is exactly what the White House wanted. The more Republicans identify with Limbaugh, the better; the more Republicans apologize for Limbaugh, the better… So as Democrats focus on Limbaugh, Cheney and Rove, the result is a twofer; remind independents of why they voted for change and continue to perpetuate the Republican identity crisis.”

Obama Faces the Nation

In his first Sunday show interview, President Obama will be on Face the Nation this weekend, according to CBS News.

Host Bob Schieffer hinted at the questions he’ll ask: “The economic crisis continues to dominate the news, but there are so many other issues which are getting less attention… We’ll ask the president to weigh in on those issues he has not discussed as much in addition to the economy.”

Carnahan Leads Both Potential Rivals

A new Wilson Research Strategies (R) poll in Missouri finds Robin Carnahan (D) leading both of her potential Republican opponents in the 2010 U.S. Senate race.

Carnahan edges Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), 47% to 44%, and tops Sarah Steelman (R), 47% to 39%. The survey’s margin of error is four points.

Murphy Takes Lead in NY-20

As the NY-20 special election enters the final weekend, Scott Murphy (D) has reversed a four-point deficit and turned it into a four-point lead over Jim Tedisco (R), according to a new Siena Research poll

Murphy now leads 47% to 43% among likely voters, having trailed two weeks ago by a 45% to 41% margin.

Key findings: Tedisco’s campaign is viewed by voters as more negative by a 44% to 25% percent margin, while Murphy’s campaign is seen as more positive. Nonetheless, the conventional wisdom in the district is that Tedisco will win the election.

House Republicans Flub Budget Roll Out

“Days after being chided by President Obama for offering no alternative to his $3.6 trillion budget, House Republicans on Thursday released their own spending plan that proved light on numbers and specific policy proposals,” the Washington Timesreports.

The AP notes the “glossy pamphlet, short on detail, promises to cut domestic spending below current levels but makes it impossible to determine what deficit the GOP is projecting based on its numbers.”

First Read: “Let’s be honest: Yesterday’s House Republican budget rollout was a P.R. disaster for the GOP… now we learn that Reps. Eric Cantor and Paul Ryanobjected to unveiling yesterday’s ‘blueprint’ but were overruled by Reps. John Boehner and Mike Pence. But bigger than any internal disagreements or any criticism about a lack of details is the fact that yesterday’s GOP non-announcement moved the attention away from the Obama-vs.-congressional Democrat storyline to the GOP’s lack of a budget. In fact, after yesterday, the White House and congressional Democrats can agree on one thing: The GOP — at least until next week — is the ‘Party of No.’ What’s more, it puts more pressure on Ryan to truly put out a comprehensive budget alternative; Also, this episode could end up creating a rift in the GOP over how to combat the Obama White House. After all, Senate Republicans wanted nothing to do with an alternative, and now Mitch McConnell, et al are either laughing at their House GOP colleagues, furious at them, or both.”

Fighting Bad Press with Google

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is using Google Ad Words to respond to an unfavorable New York Times story this morning on her history of defending tobacco companies as a young lawyer. 

If you enter “gillibrand tobacco” or even just “gillibrand” into Google you’ll get an ad at the top of the search results proclaiming, “Gillibrand Fights Tobacco.” The ad links to a page on her campaign website highlighting her anti-tobacco record.

Phil Singer: “This is the future of rapid response.”

Bennett Might Face GOP Challenge

There’s probably no more Republican state in the union than Utah — a state which has not voted for a Democrat for governor since 1980, a senator since 1970 and for president since 1964.

So when the buzz began that three-term incumbent Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT) might be challenged for his seat in the Republican convention by state Attorney General Mark Shurtleff (R), it reminded people of how unusual the state’s Republican Party election process is and how it is the ultimate system for party activists.

Shurtleff told CQ Politics that he is “definitely considering” running against Bennett in 2010 but will not decide until around May 1. Utah’s unique system for culling candidate fields could be the difference.

New Poll in NY-20

Update: The new Siena Research poll shows Murphy taking the lead by four points.

Coleman Donor Ordered Payments

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that a former CFO of a Texas company controlled by a close friend of Norm Coleman said in a deposition last week that he was ordered to pay $100,000 to a Minneapolis insurance agency where Coleman’s wife was employed — even though their was no indication of any services received.

House Democrats Track Who’s Helping Party

“It’s never too early in election cycle to start fundraising — or to shame your colleagues into contributing,” CQ Poltics reports.

“The campaign arm of Democrats serving in the House is privately circulating a tally showing members of that caucus where they stack up in fundraising for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).”

“With a quarterly filing period coming to an end next week, the internal list provides an early look at which members of the majority are looking to flex fundraising muscle within the party — and earn favor with the leadership while they’re at it.”

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