POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 4/14

Blagojevich Pleads Not Guilty

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) “pleaded not guilty this morning to 16 charges of criminal corruption including racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud,” theChicago Tribune reports.

“Blagojevich was charged with essentially running state government as a criminal enterprise, scheming to use his position to make money for himself and a close group of insiders.”

Cornyn Backs Specter

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), head of the Senate Republican campaign effort, “issued his firm support of Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) today in a letter affirming the senator’s conservative credentials,” according to The Hotline

Specter faces a tough primary challenge from former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-PA). Recent polls show Specter trailing Toomey.

Said Cornyn: “As I survey the political landscape of the upcoming 2010 elections, it’s clear we need more candidates that fit their states. While I doubt Arlen could win an election in my home state of Texas, I am certain that I could not get elected in Pennsylvania. I believe that Senator Specter is our best bet to keep this Senate seat in the GOP column. A vote for Arlen Specter is a vote for denying Harry Reid and the Democrats a filibuster-proof Senate.”

UpdateRoll Call reports Toomey made official his campaign to challenge Specter in a primary.

Update on NY-20

According to the official tally, Scott Murphy (D) has increased his lead to 56 votes over Jim Tedisco (R) in the NY-20 special election as officials slowly count absentee ballots.

Saratoga County, a Tedisco stronghold, is expected to release its results today.

A Message to Norm Coleman?

First Read notes that while the DNC and DSCC released statements last night “congratulating Al Franken and ratcheting up the pressure for Norm Coleman to bow out, we haven’t heard a peep from national Republicans.”

“The silence is pretty deafening…”

Paterson Seeks to Legalize Gay Marriage in New York

New York Gov. David Paterson (D) will announce on Thursday plans to introduce legislation to legalize same-sex marriage, the New York Times reports.

Mr. Paterson’s move “reflects the governor’s desire to press the issue with lawmakers in Albany as other states move ahead with efforts to grant more civil rights to homosexuals.”

Bush Officials Face Indictment in Spain

According to the Daily Beast, Spanish prosecutors will soon indict six former members of the Bush administration for sanctioning torture at the Guantánamo prison camp, including former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Their decision is expected to be announced today before the Spanish central criminal court in Madrid.

Bernanke’s Fortunes Tied to the President

Here’s an interesting anomaly in the latest Gallup poll: Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke has the confidence of 64% of Democrats, 44% of independents and 36% of Republicans.

However, just a few months ago — before President Obama took office — the partisan ratings of Bernanke were quite different. At that time, the Fed chairman received a 61% confidence rating from Republicans, 43% from independents, and just a 40% rating from Democrats.

Apparently, despite the political independence of the Federal Reserve Board, Americans associate Bernanke with the particular president he happens to be serving under. It’s another sign of the great partisan divide in the country.

Believing the Stereotypes

First Read: “It’s been pretty impressive how Franken has been so disciplined during this recount period. Indeed, until last night, when had we heard from him? Clearly, the GOP thought they were dealing with the stereotype that was Al Franken — not the guy who proved to be a candidate who, well, got more votes than Norm Coleman. In fact, this has been a problem for the GOP in general the last few years when it comes with dealing with Democrats: They believe their own stereotypes about their opponents, rather than actually dealing with their opponents at face value.”

HBO Readies 2008 Election Film

According to Variety, HBO Films “has optioned Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime, an in-the-works Harper Collins book by political writers Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.”

“They decided to do a book that focused more on the characters than the pollsters and campaign teams. Heilemann knew Barack Obama from their Harvard days, Halperin had become acquainted with Sarah Palin, and they both knew Joe Biden, McCain and the Clintons.”

Republican Base Fading in California?

The emerging consensus in California, according to Politico, is that “a highly gerrymandered state that rarely sees tightly contested House races is about to see a surge of them in 2010, largely because of erosion in the Republican base.”

“Democrats say that after largely ignoring the state in recent years, they are taking a close look at eight Republican-held House districts Barack Obama won in November.”

Related: CQ Politics has a chart that lists the House seats held by Republicans in districts won by Obama.

Americans Trust Obama on Economy

A majority of Americans say they have confidence in President Obama’s ability to steer the nation’s fortunes in the right direction, according to a new Gallup Poll.

The survey found that 71% of those interviewed said they placed “a great deal or a fair amount” of confidence in the president to bring about an economic recovery. Just 38% felt that way about Republican leaders.

Similarly, a new Public Strategies/Politico poll finds Obama “stands out as perhaps the most trusted figure in American politics.”

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports Obama “will discuss economic challenges to the U.S. in a major speech on the economy, following remarks last week in which he cited signs of progress.”

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