Obama Will Hold Third Primetime News Conference

President Obama will appear at his third primetime news conference at 8:00 pm ET next Wednesday — his 100th day as president.

Half of Texas Republicans Support Secession

A new DailyKos/Research 2000 poll finds that 48% of Texas Republicans think their state should be an independent nation while 48% think it should remain part of the United States.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) raised the idea of secession at a recent tax protest.

Among all Texans, 61% want their state to remain part of the Union while 35% prefer an independent nation.

The 2010 Texas gubernatorial race is no contest for Democrats, with either Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) easily beating Tom Schieffer (D). 

100 Days of No

As the Obama administration works overtime to spin media coverage of their first 100 days in office, the DNC works overtime trying to define the opposition party in a new video.

Republicans Stall Vote on Sebelius

Senate Republicans refused today to allow a confirmation vote on his health secretary nominee Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, the Washington Post reports. 

She is the last Cabinet member awaiting Senate approval.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) objected, “arguing that lawmakers needed more time to consider her ‘fairly contentious’ selection. A handful of Republicans have complained about Sebelius’ support for abortion rights and her failure to report the full extent of campaign contributions she received from a physician who performs abortions.”

Ensign Testing Waters for 2012?

When asked by The Fix about an upcoming trip to Iowa and his possible presidential ambitions, Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) said that it’s “not something I would ever rule out.”

Many Republicans Would Vote for Obama Over Palin

A new Public Policy Polling survey has some interesting findings concerning Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R): While 76% of Republican voters have a favorable opinion of her, 21% say they would rather vote for President Obama if she became the Republican party presidential nominee in 2012.

In a head-to-head match up, Obama would beat Palin, 53% to 41%.

The survey also shows Obama beating Mike Huckabee, 49% to 42%, Newt Gingrich, 52% to 39%, and Mitt Romney, 50% to 39%.

Toomey Told Party Chairman He Didn’t Want Senate Seat

The Pennsylvania Republican Party chairman said in an interview that former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-PA) told him he was not interested in being a U.S. Senator. But less than two months later, Toomey launched a primary challenge against Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA). 

Toomey’s reasoning: He said he didn’t want to be in the Senate and “be number 100 and vote ‘no’ on everything.”

Legal Action Threatened Over Palin Grandson

The father of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s grandson told Larry King he would be willing to go to court for custody of the child, but he hoped it wouldn’t come to that.

Said Levi Johnston: “I can go over there and see him. But it’s, now you know, it’s kind of an uncomfortable thing for me to go over there. You know, I want to be able to take him and that kind of thing, go do the father thing with him and I can’t.”

CNN: “Johnston, his mother, and his sister acknowledged that they have a lawyer and are contemplating taking legal action to protect Johnston’s parental rights.”

Obama Continues With High Approval Rate

A new Pew Research poll finds President Obama’s favorability and job approval ratings are higher than those of his most recent predecessors. 

“Fully 73% of Americans — including as many as 46% of Republicans — hold a favorable view of Obama as a person. Fewer people held favorable impressions of George W. Bush (61%) and Bill Clinton (60%) early in their first years.”

Meanwhile, Obama’s job approval stands at 63%, while just 26% disapprove.

Get Ready for 100 Day Stories

Prepare yourself for a week of “early verdict” stories on President Obama as we approach his 100th day in office. Ever since the early days of the New Deal, when FDR took major actions to pull the nation out of the Great Depression, reporters can’t help themselves in celebrating this meaningless milestone.

However, Politico notes “senior White House aides are playing the game with relish, doling out made-to-order anecdotes and what-it-means analytical insights to help reporters write their 100 days pieces. You can already see the results in a spate of stories that — thanks to competitive pressures — editors are deciding to publish before the actual 100th day.”

The Return of Hillary

Yesterday’s slap down of former Vice President Dick Cheney by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was a reminder of how useful it is for President Obama to have a star in his cabinet. 

The Washington Post: “It wasn’t the most stirring defense, but a defense it was, and it served as a reminder of Clinton’s relatively low-profile in the first months of her tenure. To an extent, that makes sense; it’s not the job of any Cabinet secretary to overshadow her boss, Obama has generally preferred to make major public announcements himself, and the White House is surely relieved that the Obama vs. Clinton storyline has been largely dormant since the Inauguration. But Clinton is a bona fide celebrity, the only one in the administration — apologies to Hilda Solis and Shaun Donovan — other than Obama. So when the president needs a surrogate to step up and help deliver his message, and rebut the criticism of a major figure like Cheney, Clinton is the obvious choice.”

New Jersey Voters Back Gay Marriage

By a 49% to 43% margin, New Jersey voters support a law that would allow same-sex couples to marry, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.

Americans Say Obama is on Right Track

For the first time in nearly five years, a new Associated Press/GfK poll finds more Americans than not say the country is headed in the right direction, 48% to 44%.

Though most Americans are still “intensely worried about their personal finances and medical expenses,” they nonetheless appear realistic about the time President Obama might need to turn things around. They also view their new president as “a strong, ethical and empathetic leader who is working to change Washington.”

Obama’s approval rate is 64%, according to the survey.

Education of a President

Time magazine is a bit early with a cover story on President Obama’s first hundred days. Today is actually day number 94.

Joe Klein: “Whether you agree with him or not — whether you think he is too ambitious or just plain wrong — his is as serious and challenging a presidency as we have had in quite some time… Obama won’t stand up to everyone, always; he is, after all, a politician. But the quality of fights he does choose will determine whether he builds his legacy on rock instead of sand. He has had a brilliant time announcing his intentions, but the real game of governing is about to begin.”

Meanwhile, a photo essay documents a Obama’s historic start — and provides a behind-the-scenes look at his life in the White House.

Murphy’s Lead Grows Again in NY-20

The official vote tally in the NY-20 special election now shows a 365 vote lead for Scott Murphy (D) over Jim Tedisco (R) as 250 ballots that were set aside were counted today, according to Politicker NY.

Meanwhile, Republican strategist Mike Murphy is the latest to say he believes Democrats will ultimately hold this seat.

Maloney Staffs for Possible Challenge to Gillibrand

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), who has been considering a Democratic primary challenge against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), has hired a statewide finance director, according to the New York Observer.

Ballot Counting Will Continue in NY-20

The recount in NY-20 “will likely go on for a long time,” Politicker NY reports, in light of a new court ruling which said that considerations of absentee voter residency will be considered on a case by case basis. 

Scott Murphy (D) leads Jim Tedisco (R) by 273 votes according to the latest tally but there are some 1,800 votes left uncounted. 

Bottom line: “This ruling favors the Tedisco camp — or at least buys them time.”

Garamendi Reverses Course to Run for Congress

California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi (D), the first Democrat to formally enter the 2010 governor’s race, is now expected to announce that he’s planning a run for Congress in CA-10, CQ Politics reports.

The seat is now held by Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), who has been tapped for a job in the Obama Administration state department. A special election will be called if she’s confirmed for the post.

Remembering Iowa

From the press gaggle on Air Force One with White House press secretary Robert Gibbs:

Q: One last Iowa question. What does it mean for the President coming back here for the first time since being sworn in, the state that sort of started it all for him?

GIBBS: Yes. Well, I mean, look, Iowa will always be a special place for the President and a special place for those that spent, I think we figured, one out of every three or four days in 2007 here. The President and I were joking that we had no idea you could come to Iowa and just do one stop and go home. A normal day for most of 2007 —
[Read more…]

Bonus Quote of the Day

“We’re not even the loyal opposition at this point. Tedisco appears not able to pull out a victory in an overwhelmingly Republican district; to me that’s the final indignancy.”

— Manhattan Attorney Dan Isaacs, quoted by the New York Daily News, making his case for being the new GOP party chairman in New York.

Bennet’s Standing Shaky in Colorado

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) has some work to do to get elected in his own right next year. 

Key findings: “41% of voters say they disapprove of Bennet’s performance so far, with just 34% saying they approve. He has more Democrats (16%) who disapprove than there are Republicans (11%) who express support for his work. He also has negative numbers (32/43) with independents.”

However, “the good news for Bennet is that none of his most likely opponents are particularly well known or well liked either.”

Cornyn Says Democrats Likely to Get 60 Seats

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the man in charge of electing more Republicans to the Senate, “said it will be difficult to stop the Democrats from winning a 60-seat majority in 2010,” according to The Hill.

Said Cornyn: “That’s going to be real hard, to be honest with you. Everybody who runs could be the potential tipping point to get Democrats to 60. We’ve not only got to play defense; we’ve got to claw our way back in 2010. It’ll be a huge challenge.”

“So far this cycle, Republicans have been faced with retirements in four swing states, emerging primaries against at least three of their members and a map that, after two cycles of big GOP losses, continues to favor Democrats.”

Cantor Emerges as Dominant House Republican

House Republican Whip Eric Cantor’s monster first-quarter campaign finance report is no more remarkable for its impressive bottom line — $963,900 — than for what it says about his exploding share of Republican fundraising clout, CQ Politics reports.

While the fifth-term Virginian more than doubled his take from the comparable first quarter of the last non-election year — 2007 — the other six members of the House Republican leadership combined to produce $25,900 less in the first three months of 2009 than they had two years earlier. Together, those six raised $1,031,100 for the first quarter of 2009 — only $67,200 more than Cantor.

Democrats Embrace “New GOP Leaders”

Politico: “The Democratic Party is seizing on the current high profile of past GOP figures — from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to former Vice President Dick Cheney — to diminish the present Republican Party. Those two will be cast, along with former Bush aide Karl Rove, as the party’s leaders in a multimedia Democratic National Committee campaign opening Wednesday with a web video.”

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post reports another Republican congressman has apologized to Rush Limbaugh for calling him merely an “entertainer.” Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) now calls the talk show host “a great leader.”

Quote of the Day

“I don’t consider him a particularly reliable source of information.”

— Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, at a House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting, on former Vice President Dick Cheney.

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