POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 3/30

Murkowski Viewed More Favorably Than Palin

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is in a strong position should Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) try to challenge her in a Republican primary in 2010, according to a new Hays Research Group poll.

A stunningly high 72% of Alaska residents view Murkowski favorably while 60% view Palin the same way.

Poll Tracker: “The two lawmakers are up for re-election to their respective offices in 2010. Palin, widely regarded as a potential 2012 presidential candidate, has yet to officially confirm whether she will run for a second term as governor in 2010. Political observers in the state continue to speculate on whether Palin will challenge Murkowski in the GOP primary in the hopes of winning a seat that will boost her profile in Washington.”

Seeking a Comeback… in a Different District

With the news over the weekend that Rep. Ed Case (D-HI) is attempting a congressional comeback in a different district than he previously represented, Greg Giroux looks at others who have done the same.

Obama Heads to Europe

USA Today calls President Obama’s upcoming trip to Europe this week “one of the most anticipated presidential trips since John Kennedy went to Berlin in 1963.”

“Still new on the world stage at 47, Obama will meet privately with at least six presidents, prime ministers and a king in London, then five more as he travels on to France, Germany, the Czech Republic and Turkey. He’ll attend three summits, deliver two major addresses and hold a roundtable with students in Istanbul. He’ll take time out to see Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace and sightsee from Strasbourg to Istanbul.”

Meanwhile, Obama gave an interview to the Financial Times over the weekend in which he “played down talk of a split between the US and the leading continental European economies, notably Germany and France.”

Effort to Bypass Electoral College Gains Ground

The National Popular Vote initiative — which aims to make the Electoral College irrelevant without going through the arduous process of amending the Constitution — “is making slow but steady progress across the country,” the Wall Street Journalreports.

“States are asked to enact laws pledging their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, no matter who wins the state. The pledge takes effect only when states holding at least 270 electoral votes — a decisive margin in the Electoral College — agree to participate. That would ensure that the winner of the popular vote would take the election.”

“So far, four states representing 50 electoral votes have adopted the pledge: Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland and Hawaii.”

What Happened in New Hampshire?

For polling junkies, a new report explores the misleading polling in the run-up to last year’s New Hampshire primary where Sen. Hillary Clinton pulled out a victory despite all indications that Barack Obama was leading.

Mark Blumenthal summarizes: “In other words, what happened in New Hampshire wasn’t one thing, it was a likely lot of small things, all introducing errors in the same direction. Various methodological challenges or shortcomings that might ordinarily produce offsetting variation in polls instead combined to throw them all off in the same direction.”

Hoekstra Will Run for Michigan Governor

Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) announced he’s running for Michigan governor in 2010, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) can’t run for re-election because of term limits.

Geithner Survives for Another Day

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner — after a very rough start to his tenure — did a very good job yesterday on the Sunday talk shows. He appeared on both Meet the Pressand This Week and was in command of all the issues.

For those still calling for his head, Al Hunt gives some perspective: 

“In two months, he has unveiled sweeping initiatives — a stress test for big banks, a small-business lending program, a housing plan, a public-private toxic-asset investment program, and a massive financial-reregulation proposal. He meets with Summers daily and the president almost every day, talks to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke multiple times a day, testifies before Congress on average about twice a week and has been the administration’s lead person on the Group of Seven and G-20 deliberations. All with a department where the White House has failed to fill top posts.”

Obamas Paying for White House Renovations

Though new presidents “are allotted $100,000 to overhaul the White House residence and the Oval Office,” New York magazine reports “the First Couple isn’t spending that money.”

Said a spokeswoman: “They are not using public funds or accepting donations of goods for redecorating their private quarters.”

“The White House declined to disclose the budget, saying that all expenses would remain private as a result of the Obamas’ decision to absorb the cost.”

Cornyn Says Coleman Challenge Could Take Years

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) is threatening “World War III” if Democrats try to seat Al Franken (D) in the Senate before Norm Coleman (R) can pursue his case through the federal courts, Politico reports.

Cornyn, the head of the NRSC, takes this position even as he “acknowledges that a federal challenge to November’s elections could take ‘years; to resolve. But he’s adamant that Coleman deserves that chance — even if it means Minnesota is short a senator for the duration.”

A three-judge panel is expected to rule any day now on legal challenges to the November election. 

Special Election Will Hinge on Local Issues

CQ Politics previews tomorrow’s special election in New York’s 20th congressional district.

“National issues are being debated in New York’s special election Tuesday, but the outcome will be determined by purely local factors.”

First Read: “The race will be one of those over-read Washington-political stories — no matter who wins… Obama cut a TV ad… Michael Steele has staked his early reputation on it as well… A Dem loss and there will be lots of Republicans crowing about them on the comeback…  A Dem win and there will be a lot of second-guessing among Republicans about their ability to win; if they can’t win this one, how are they going to start being a competitive national party again?”

Obama’s Traveling Companions

The Guardian notes President Obama will not be traveling light when he arrives in London this week.

“More than 500 officials and staff will accompany the president on his tour this week — along with a mass of high-tech security equipment, including the $300,000 presidential limousine, known as The Beast. Fitted with night-vision camera, reinforced steel plating, tear- gas cannon and oxygen tanks, the vehicle is the ultimate in heavy armoured transport.”

“In addition, a team from the White House kitchen will travel with the president to prepare his food. As one official put it: ‘When the president travels, the White House travels with him, right down to the car he drives, the water he drinks, the gasoline he uses, the food he eats. America is still the sole superpower and the president must have the ability to handle any crisis, anywhere, any time.'”

Cheney Undermined Obama After Election

According to the New Yorker, former Vice President Cheney late last year portrayed then President-elect Obama to Israel’s leaders as a “pro-Palestinian,” who would not support Israeli efforts in Gaza.

In private comments, Cheney also referred to Obama as someone who would “never make it in the major leagues.”

McCain Will Not Say He’ll Support Palin

Sen. John McCain “isn’t committing to supporting his vice presidential pick, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, if she runs for president in 2012,” the AP reports.

McCain “says he wants to see who the other candidates are and what the situation might be.”

Steele “Done” with Bipartisanship

In a CNN interview, RNC Chairman Michael Steele announced he’s finished with efforts to reach out to President Obama.

Steele: Look, I like the president personally, even though I think he has got a little thing about me, that I haven’t quite figured out what that is.

CNN: You haven’t spoken to him?
Steele: No.

CNN: You’ve reach out?
Steele: Several times, and I’m done.

CNN: So there is no bipartisanship going on there?
Steele: Not, not that I know of.

CNN: Is there any professional jealousy?
Steele: Not on my part. What would I be jealous of?

CNN: He’s the president of the United States.
Steele: I’m chairman of the RNC, so, what’s your point? We both have leadership responsibilities and roles. I’m not equating the two. My point is: you are on your track. I’m on my track. You do your thing. I do my thing.

Murphy Has Momentum in NY-20

A new internal DCCC poll shows Scott Murphy (D) edging Jim Tedisco (R) 43% to 41% just days before Tuesday’s special election in NY-20. With a Siena poll also showing Murphy taking the lead, Fred Lebrun notes Murphy has the momentum.

“Tedisco’s last gasp chance is for the finely tuned Republican machinery in the several counties comprising the 20th to get out the faithful on Election Day. That’s what is supposed to differentiate special elections like Tuesday’s from ordinary primaries or general elections. They are usually determined by a tiny hard-core of partisans and special interests. Turnout is usually low in special elections otherwise, and as a result can be manipulated.”

The Albany Times Union reports Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who held the NY-20 seat before being appointed to the Senate, will campaign for Murphy.

McCain Says Public Financing is Dead

Sen. John McCain, “an architect of sweeping campaign-finance reform who got walloped by a presidential candidate armed with more than $750 million, predicts that no one will ever again accept federal matching funds to run for the nation’s highest office,” the Washington Times reports.

Said McCain: “No Republican in his or her right mind is going to agree to public financing. I mean, that’s dead. That is over. The last candidate for president of the United States from a major party that will take public financing was me.”

Republicans Rip Palin’s Staff

Politico: “A seemingly unending series of public relations gaffes has Sarah Palin loyalists frustrated and worried she is diminishing her stature. And they blame an inner circle they say is composed of not-ready-for-primetime players.”

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