POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 5/5

The Fall of John Edwards

Ben Smith has today’s must-read piece:

“John Edwards’ decision to keep running turned an ordinary, private drama into a public spectacle that consumed a presidential campaign, destroyed Edwards’ political career, and left an long trail of embittered former staffer and longtime supporters…

“Edwards’ campaign appears in hindsight to have been doomed from the start… Its implosion now raises questions that echo in the stories of many talented, self-destructive politicians: When, and how, should their family and staff try to stop them? Were spouse and staff both enablers?”


Ridge Listed Residence in Maryland

Political Wire has learned that former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge (R) listed his residence as Chevy Chase, MD on a recent foreign agents registration filing with the U. S. Department of Justice. He reported he was representing the Government of Albania.

If Ridge chooses to run for U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania, expect this to be a big issue in the Republican primary. 

The latest reports suggested he would make a decision in two weeks.


No SCOTUS Nominee This Week
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters today not to expect a Supreme Court nominee by week’s end as Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) suggested might happen.


Castle Would Crush Biden in Senate Race

A new Susquehanna Polling and Research poll in Delaware shows Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) soundly beating Attorney General Beau Biden (D) in a possible match up for U.S. Senate in 2010.

Castle leads Biden, 55% to 34% with only 8% undecided.

A few weeks ago, Castle said he was more likely to run for Senate than for re-election, but he is also considering retirement.


Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

“Do you realize that under our dynamic leadership of our leader, we have gone from 55 and probably to 40 (Senate seats) in two election cycles, and if the tea leaves that I read are correct, we will wind up with about 36 after this election cycle. So if leadership means anything, it means you don’t lose… approximately 19 seats in three election cycles with good leadership.”

— Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY), quoted by the Louisville Courier-Journal, blasting fellow Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY).


Bonus Quote of the Day

“I’ve seen a picture of the baby. I have no idea. It doesn’t look like my children but I don’t have any idea.”

— Elizabeth Edwards, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, on whether John Edwards fathered Rielle Hunter’s baby.


Bunning Insists He’s Still Running

Despite sending signals he was considering retirement, Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) insisted to reporters that he still plans to run for re-election in 2010, Roll Call reports. 

Bunning said “that the only way he would abandon his re-election effort would be if he did not meet his fundraising goals later this year.”

“Bunning’s anemic early fundraising has been a major reason why some party officials have hoped he would opt for retirement and give someone else the opportunity to try to hold the Senate seat next year. Some senior GOP officials on Capitol Hill have even described the irascible 77-year-old Senator as a political dead man walking.”


McAuliffe Pulls Away in Virginia

After three months of polling showing the Democratic race for Virginia Governor in a dead heat, Terry McAuliffe has broken out from the pack, taking a ten point lead over Brian Moran, according to a new Public Policy Polling survey.

McAuliffe is now at 30%, followed by Moran at 20%, and Creigh Deeds at 14%. Another 36% are still undecided.

Key findings: “McAuliffe has done a very good job of building up support in areas where none of the candidates have an inherent regional base. He is polling over 35% and has a lead of at least 20 points in the Tidewater region, greater Richmond, and Southside. He’s also built a strong lead with African Americans.”

A recent SurveyUSA poll also showed McAuliffe leading the pack by double digits.


Plouffe Worried Most About Huntsman

While no Republican presidential candidate yet makes President Obama’s team “shake in their shoes,” Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe tells the ABC 4 News that Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) makes him, a “wee bit queasy… I think he’s really out there speaking a lot of truth about the direction of the party.”

Huntsman has been consulting with GOP strategist Frank Luntz, who himself isfrustrated with the state of the Republican party today.

Interestingly, a recent KSL-TV/Deseret News poll found that Utah voters actually prefer Mitt Romney over Huntsman as their 2012 candidate by a 55% to 32% margin.


Sessions Was Blocked by Judiciary Commitee in 1986

Here’s an interesting fact about Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the new ranking memberof the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee: His own nomination by President Reagan in 1986 to become a federal judge was killed in the same committee when Democrats accused him of “gross insensitivity” on racial issues.

It will be interesting to watch him handle President Obama’s first nomination for the Supreme Court.


Ridge Will Decide in Two Weeks

The Washington Post reports that former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge (R) will decide in the next two weeks if he’ll run for Senate next year. 

“If he ran, he would almost certainly face primary opposition from former congressman Pat Toomey, a conservative who came within two points of knocking off Specter in the 2004 Republican primary. Toomey has made it clear that he is in the race regardless of whether Ridge, who is considered to be a moderate, runs.”

However, two polls came out yesterday — from Susquehanna and Quinnipiac — that suggest Ridge would be more competitive than Toomey against Specter.


Kennedy Pushed Caroline to Make Senate Bid

Vanity Fair runs an excerpt from the new book, Ted Kennedy: The Dream That Never Died by Edward Klein.

Most interesting: Klein reports that Sen. Ted Kennedy felt it was very important to have a Kennedy in the Senate after he was gone, so when Sen. Hillary Clinton’s seat became available, “he put it to Caroline almost like a last wish, and Caroline felt that she couldn’t let her uncle Teddy down.” 

Klein says “it honestly never occurred” to Caroline “that the seat wouldn’t be given to her immediately.” So when Governor Paterson “failed to react, and made her wait, she seethed.”

The book also claims it was Caroline’s children who ultimately convinced her to take her name out of the running for the Senate because they “felt that she was becoming a different person — one that they didn’t much like.”


Eight Mayoral Elections This Week

Though the national media generally ignores mayoral elections, voters in eight of the nation’s sixty-five most populous cities will elect new mayors over the next week. 

Josh Goodman has a good rundown of the action.


LaHood Admits He Knows Little About Transportation

In a New York Times profile, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood doesn’t hide “how limited his transportation résumé is, how little excitement he exudes on the subject… and how little he seems to care who knows it.”

Said LaHood: “I don’t think they picked me because they thought I’d be that great a transportation person… They picked me because of the bipartisan thing and the Congressional thing, and the friendship thing.”


When John Told Elizabeth

Time runs an excerpt from Elizabeth Edwards’ new book, Resilience, in which she first learns of her husband’s affair with a campaign staffer.


Rubio Will Run for Senate in Florida

Former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio (R) will announce later this morning that he will run for U.S. Senate — and will stay in even if Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) enters the race.

Rubio has been a strong fundraiser since launching his exploratory bid in March.

Read more…


Quote of the Day

“This is like getting interview lessons from Sarah Palin.”

— Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, quoted by Politico, to Karl Rove who said that President Obama “is failing to fulfill his bipartisan promise in Congress.”


Ridge Could Beat Specter in Pennsylvania

A new Susquehanna Polling & Research poll found that former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge (R) would edge Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), 39% to 38%, in a match up for U.S. Senate.

The poll also shows Specter would defeat former Rep. Pat Toomey (R), 42% to 36%.

Said pollster James Lee: “Arlen Specter — not surprisingly — is a strong candidate despite the party switch. He is not, however, invincible. A right-of-center Republican who is well liked in Southeastern Pennsylvania — Tom Ridge or someone very much like him — could win.”

Earlier today, a new Quinnipiac poll also found Ridge to be competitive with Specter. 

Meanwhile, DailyKos/Research 2000 currently has a poll in the field testing the same match ups.


Senator Sees Supreme Court Nominee Soon

After talking to President Obama on the phone today, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) says he “believes the White House will move swiftly on its Supreme Court nominee, perhaps making an announcement by the end of this week,” Politico reports.

Said Hatch: “I’d be surprised if it went beyond this week… I would think by the end of this week or over the weekend, he’ll nominate somebody. I’m sure they’ve discussed this internally, back and forth for months now.”


Sununu Leads Hodes in New Hampshire

A new Granite State poll finds former Sen. John Sununu (R-NH) leading Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH) in a hypothetical Senate matchup, 46% to 41%.

Both candidates have the full support of their partisans, and Sununu holds a narrow 38% to 31% lead among Independents. 

However, Sununu hasn’t yet indicated that he’ll run for the seat currently held by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH).


Republicans Stuck to Religious Right

In an interview with the Huffington Post, James Carville said that it’s impossible for the Republican Party to abandon — or even soften — its alliance with the Christian Right.

Said Carville: “I don’t think they can do that because their party would crumble… That is not an option really available to them. They can talk about other issues and do other things, but once you have a Republican nominee, or serious Republican leaders who are pro-choice or pro-gay marriage, they are going to lose a lot of their voting base. These people will break off. And I don’t think that’s a real open discussion among people that really know what is going on in the Republican Party.”

Carville also appeared on The View today to promote his new book, 40 More Years.


Strickland Approval Remains Steady

A new Ohio Poll finds Gov. Ted Strickland’s (D-OH) approval rating at a respectable 56% with an additional 34% disapproving.

If Strickland’s new challenger in next year’s election has an opening, it will be on the economy. Ohioans are closely divided, with 48% of Ohio adults approving of the way Strickland is handling Ohio’s economy and 45% disapproving.

As a side note, President Obama’s approval rating is 63% in the Buckeye State.


Gillibrand Weak as She Faces Voters Next Year

A new Marist Poll finds that appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is far from guaranteed to be the Democratic party nominee in 2010 if Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) challenges her. 

When pitted against Maloney in a Democratic primary, Gillibrand edges out Maloney, 36% to 31%. However, a whopping 33% are still undecided, meaning the race is still very much a toss up.

In general election matchups, Gillibrand has lost ground in the poll to both former Gov. George Pataki (R) and Rep. Peter King (D-NY) in the last month. Gillibrand trails Pataki, 38% to 46%, but beats King, 42% to 31%.

Poll Tracker highlights another issue for Gillibrand: Fully 43% of respondents in the poll couldn’t rate her job performance.

Bunning Skips Kentucky Derby

One more sign Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) isn’t likely to run for re-election next year:Politico reports he skipped the Kentucky Derby this year to stay in Washington, D.C. instead.

Bunning could announce his retirement as soon as Saturday, when the state Republican Party holds its annual dinner.

Obama Dines with Krugman, Stiglitz

Newsweek: “Mindful of his predecessor, Barack Obama seems to be trying harder to make sure he hears all sides. On the night of April 27, for instance, the president invited to the White House some of his administration’s sharpest critics on the economy, including New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and Columbia University economist Joseph Stiglitz. Over a roast-beef dinner, Obama listened and questioned while Krugman and Stiglitz, both Nobel Prize winners, pushed for more aggressive government intervention in the banking system.”

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