POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 7/7

Reid Tells Baucus to Stop Chasing Republican Votes

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)  “strongly urged” Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) “to drop a proposal to tax health benefits and stop chasing Republican votes on a massive health care reform bill,” Roll Call reports.

Reid “told Baucus that taxing health benefits and failing to include a strong government-run insurance option of some sort in his bill would cost 10 to 15 Democratic votes; Reid told Baucus that several in the Conference had serious concerns and that it wasn’t worth securing the support of Grassley and at best a few additional Republicans.”



Specter Proves to be Loyal Democrat

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) is showing himself to be a loyal Democrat, CQ Politics reports.

CQ data show that Specter, since bolting the Republican Party at the end of April, has sided with Democrats on 17 of 20 votes that have pitted most Democrats against most Republicans. CQ refers to these party-line or near-party-line votes as ‘party unity’ votes.


Corzine Goes on the Attack

The latest sign that New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) is worried about his re-election prospects comes from the man himself. He’s out with a new ad going right after challenger Chris Christie’s (R) supposed strength.

First Read: “It’s part of the physics of politics: When you’re trailing in a race, you go negative.”

Read more…



Purdum on Palin

Todd Purdum discussed his blockbuster Vanity Fair article about Alaksa Gov. Sarah Palin on Air America today, touching on “her unpredictability, her lack of curiosity and her ‘casual’ relationship with the truth.”

Said Purdum: “She really is willing to say that black is white and day is night.”



Allen Making a Comeback?

Former Sen. George Allen (R-VA) “has signed a contract to publish a book drawing parallels between politics and sports,” the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

The book, The Triumph of Character: What Washington Can Learn from the World of Sports, is scheduled to be released by Regnery Publishing next June.

Ben Smith wonders if this is the start of Allen’s “road back” into politics.



Palin Builds Political List

A Google source tells Marc Ambinder that searches for Gov. Sarah Palin “have spiked dramatically since her announcement last week, indeed, to their highest levels since the election.” 

Furthermore, if you search for “Sarah Palin,” you’ll see an advertisement for her PAC, which is collecting thousands of e-mail addresses and donations. 

Said the source: “Intentional or not, her team is capitalizing on her interest to build a (potentially) enormous list of supporters.”



Republicans Get Top Candidate in New Hampshire

New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte (R) announced she will be resigning her post to pursue a campaign for the Senate, landing Republicans a top-tier recruit to run against Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH), according to Politico.

“A recently-released Granite State poll confirms that she’d be the strongest Republican candidate for the seat held by retiring Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH). Of all the potential GOP candidates, she held the highest approval ratings and led Hodes in a head-to-head matchup.”

Washington Post: “Ayotte was appointed to her current position by Democratic Gov. John Lynch in 2005 and re-appointed a few months ago for a second four year term. Some controversy has erupted of late over the question of whether Ayotte pledge to serve out her term when she accepted the re-appointment.”


Public Option, or Not?

“As I’ve said before, that one of the best ways to bring down costs, provide more choices, and assure quality is a public option that will force the insurance companies to compete and keep them honest. I look forward to a final product that achieves these very important goals.”

— President Obama, in a statement earlier today.

“The goal is to have a means and a mechanism to keep the private insurers honest. The goal is non-negotiable; the path is negotiable.”

— White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, quoted by the Wall Street Journal, suggesting the administration is flexible on the public option.



Palin’s Pay Day?

The Daily Beast estimates Gov. Sarah Palin could make up to $20 million next year by resigning as governor. 

“She’s already got a book deal, agents in both New York and Los Angeles are scrambling to line up some sort of talk show for her, and you can bet if the journalism major-turned-governor decides to write a column, that thing would practically syndicate itself.”



McDonnell Takes Back Lead in Virginia

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Virginia finds that Creigh Deeds’ (D) post-primary bounce appears to have worn out and Bob McDonnell (R) now holds a 49% to 43% lead in this fall’s gubernatorial race.

Key finding: “We’re detecting little interest in the race right now from black voters or young voters, both groups that were overwhelmingly supportive of Barack Obama and key to his success in the state last year. We currently project black turnout at 16% of the electorate, down from 20% last year, and voters under 30 at 8%, down from 21% last year. Getting those groups excited about his candidacy and out to the polls will be key to Deeds’ prospects.”



Steele Says Palin Can’t Run for President

In a Fox News interview, RNC Chairman Michael Steele doesn’t think it’s possible for Gov. Sarah Palin to run for president in 2012.

Said Steele: “Not having talked to the governor, I take 2012 off the table right now simply because given everything she’s going through personally, dealing with the financial mess that all these ludicrous investigations have put her and Todd in, at the moment, I think she’s trying to focus on getting her house in order, her personal house in order.”

A new Rasmussen Reports survey finds that 40% of Americans think Palin hurt her chances of getting the GOP nomination by resigning as governor. However, 61% of Republicans still think she’ll run.



Bunning Insists He’s Running

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) said “he doubts that his campaign fund-raising for the second quarter of the year will match Secretary of State Trey Grayson’s (R), but he still plans to stay in the 2010 race for U.S Senate,” the Lexington Herald Leader reports.

“Bunning, who has been in the Senate since 1999, also said he does not think fellow Republican Grayson will run for his job if he stays in the race.”

Grayson’s exploratory committee reported that it has raised $602,699 since May 6. Bunning raised just $262,980 in the first quarter of this year and has until July 15 to file his campaign finance report with the FEC.



Democrats Get 60 Votes

At 12:15 p.m. when Al Franken is sworn in by Vice President Biden, Democrats will have — at least in theory — a filibuster-proof 60 Senate seats.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee marks the occasion with a must-see new ad: “The Democrats have total control. No checks. No balances… In 2010, you can hold them accountable.”

Read more…


Bonus Quote of the Day

“You know, this is part of American culture. Michael Jackson, like Elvis, like Sinatra, when somebody whose captivated the imagination of the country for that long passes away, people pay attention. And I assume at some point people will start focusing again on things like nuclear weapons.”

— President Obama, in an interview with ABC News, trying not to be irritated with the media attention given to the Michael Jackson funeral.

Republicans Censure Sanford

“After nearly four hours of discussion Monday evening, leaders of the South Carolina Republican Party voted to censure Gov. Mark Sanford, reprimanding him for secretly leaving the state to visit his lover in Argentina,” according to The State.

“While the vote reveals how the state’s GOP leadership feels about the scandal, it has no practical effect on whether the governor remains in office.”

Politico notes it’s “an outcome that makes it likely the GOP governor will be able to weather the storm surrounding his extramarital affair and remain in office.”



Quote of the Day

“You know, politically speaking, if I die, I die. So be it.”

— Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, in an interview on ABC News.



Democrats Hold Edge in Ohio Senate Race

A new Quinnipiac poll in Ohio finds that in the U.S. Senate race, Lee Fisher (D) and Jennifer Brunner (D) remain neck-and-neck for the Democratic nomination and both would defeat any of the GOP candidates if the election were today.

Fisher edges Brunner, 24% to 21%, but there are still 51% undecided. 

In the GOP race, Rob Portman (R) holds a 33% to 10% lead over Tom Ganley (R) with 55% undecided. 

In general election trial heats, Brunner would defeat Ganley 35% to 31% and get 35% to Portman’s 34%. Fisher leads Ganley 36% to 30% and Portman 37% to 33%.



Daily Pulse on Health Care Politics

As Congress gets back to work, it’s looking like a daunting task to get a health care reform bill to President Obama by October 15.

There are five committees in Congress working on the bill — three in the House, two in the Senate — and not one of them has finished a version yet. NBC News notes “draft language is being circulated, but the most significant and controversial parts of the legislation — the so-called “public option” and how to pay for it — remain unresolved.”

“The challenge will be even harder in the Senate. While the three House committees are moving together on a single track, the two Senate panels are miles apart at this point. And any hope of truly bipartisan bill appears to rest exclusively within the Senate Finance Committee.”

Thing to watch: If the Senate Finance committee gives up its efforts for a bipartisan bill, Democratic leaders will push the bill through as part of budget reconciliation that would bypass GOP attempts to filibuster.

Meanwhile, Greg Sargent notes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is “so determined to get health care passed before Congress adjourns on recess in August that he’s contemplating the unthinkable, his spokesperson tells me: Making Senators work on weekends.”

The House is aiming to vote on its health care bill during the week of July 27.



Palin Calls Ethics Probes “Paralyzing”

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), “three days after abruptly announcing she would resign as governor, said that she did it because ethics complaints and politically ambitious state legislators would have been paralyzing,” the Anchorage Daily News reports.

Said Palin: “Especially when all these lawmakers are lining up for office. Their desire would be to clobber the administration left and right so that they can position themselves for office. I’m not going to put Alaskans through that.”

Asked whether she planned to run for president, Palin “squinted and shook her head, but then indicated she might.”

Palin’s lawyer told CNN there’s no scandal coming: “There is no bombshell. There is no shoe to drop. There are no investigations of any type that I’m aware of — no IRS audit, no federal investigation, no state investigation. There is no legal reason in terms of a legal problem that compelled the governor to resign.”



Palin Surprised Her Own Family

We weren’t the only ones taken by surprise at Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s sudden, seemingly-rushed resignation last week.

Jim Palin, the governor’s father-in-law, tells People magazine he was just as shocked: “We had no idea it was coming. Nobody seemed to know; they’re extremely private people.”

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