POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 7/21

Just Asking

On CNN last night, Lou Dobbs once again raised the question of President Obama’s citizenship.

Seriously, if this were a valid issue, don’t you think Hillary Clinton or John McCain would have raised this during the primary and presidential campaigns last year?


Republicans Give Obama an Enemy

First Read: “You can mark yesterday as perhaps a key turning point in the fight over health-care reform. Why? Because President Obama and the White House found apolitical enemy in South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint (R), who earlier said that health care could be Obama’s ‘Waterloo’ and could ‘break’ him politically. Obama replied yesterday: ‘Think about that. This isn’t about me. This isn’t about politics. This is about a health-care system that is breaking America’s families.'”

“As it turns out, Obama is much more comfortable when he has someone to run against. He hasn’t really had that… until now. Will Republicans regret turning this into a political fight? Polls, including yesterday’s Washington Post/ABC survey, show that the public trusts Obama more than Republicans on health care. And that means they’re more likely to side with the president in a political fight, even if they aren’t convinced his plan is the right one.”


Cheney’s Secret Service Protection Extended

Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s Secret Service protection “has been extended for at least another six months,” the New York Daily News reports.

“Normally, ex-veeps only get six months of protection at taxpayer expense. But Cheney asked for an extension, and President Obama — whom Cheney has excoriated in several interviews since leaving office — recently signed off.”

“If the Obama administration hadn’t gone along with Cheney’s request, he would have been forced to hire his own security agents — or go without. Cheney’s friends have said he has become more concerned about his privacy and personal safety in recent years.”


Daily Pulse on Health Care Politics

“Emboldened by divided Democrats and polls that show rising public anxiety about President Obama’s handling of health care and the economy,” Republicans “launched an aggressive effort to link the two, comparing the health-care bills moving through Congress to what they labeled as a failed economic stimulus bill,” the Washington Post reports.


“And the news that the Obama administration would delayrelease of a congressionally mandated report on the nation’s economic conditions only stoked the rhetoric, spawning GOP speculation that the White House is trying to avoid bad news amid the health-care debate.”

Meanwhile, Roll Call notes President Obama and his aides “for the first time are directly targeting the GOP and specific Republicans, characterizing them as spoilers hoping to delay and sink the legislation for their own political gain.”

But they are also backing off their original deadline of having bills passed in the Senate and House by the August recess.

The New York Times says Democratic Congressional leaders “signaled a retreat from their ambitious timetable” and “it was increasingly clear the Senate would not be ready to vote on its bill before its recess begins on Aug. 8, and that House Democrats seemed unwilling to vote to raise taxes without knowing where the Senate stood.”

Read more…


Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Race Still Fluid

A new Quinnipiac poll in Pennsylvania finds Attorney General Tom Corbett (R) leads the Republican race for governor with 38% while Rep. Jim Gerlach (R) gets 15% and Pat Meehan (R) has 9%.

The Democratic race, however, is a toss up with Dan Onorato (D) and Jack Wagner (D) at 16% and Tom Knox (D) at 13% with 54% undecided.

Baucus Pulls in Contributions from Health Care Firms

As the Senate Finance Committee takes center stage in the battle over health-care reform, Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) “has emerged as a leading recipient of Senate campaign contributions from the hospitals, insurers and other medical interest groups hoping to shape the legislation to their advantage,” the Washington Post reports.

“To avoid any appearance of favoritism, his aides say, Baucus quietly began refusing contributions from health-care political action committees after June 1. But the policy does not apply to lobbyists or corporate executives, who continued to make donations, disclosure records show.”


Public Losing Trust in Obama

Trust in President Obama and his Democratic allies “to identify the right solutions to problems facing the country has dropped off significantly since March,” according to a new Public Strategies/Politico poll

“Just as Obama intensifies his efforts to fulfill a campaign promise and reach an agreement with Congress on health care reform, the number of Americans who say they trust the president has fallen from 66% to 54%. At the same time, the percentage of those who say they do not trust the president has jumped from 31 to 42.”

Ensign Staffer Reunion Cancelled

The Las Vegas Review Journal finds another casualty of Sen. John Ensign’s sex scandal: “It’s forced the cancellation of a rockin’ party.”

“An ‘Ensign Reunion’ of the senator’s former staffers had just been scheduled when Ensign went before the cameras last month to declare that he’d had an extramarital affair with a woman who worked for his campaign, Cindy Hampton.”

Not known: whether the Hamptons had been invited.”


Kirk’s Seat Ripe for Takeover

Rep. Mark Kirk’s (R-IL) decision to run for U.S. Senate from Illinois moves the state’s 10th congressional district House seat to the top of Democrats’ list of open seat takeover opportunities. 

Cook Political Report: “One of only six remaining Republican-held districts won by John Kerry in 2004, the North Shore seat has been trending towards Democrats quickly. Still, it would be premature to count this seat in the Democratic column. Democrats could well host a competitive primary if either state Sens. Susan Garrett or Michael Bond faces 2006 and 2008 nominee Dan Seals, and Republicans retain a bench of local officeholders who share Kirk’s moderate views. The race to succeed Kirk starts out as a Tossup.”


Specter Blasts Sestak’s Voting Record

The Pennsylvania Democratic primary for U.S. Senate has already turned nasty. 

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) unleashed a blistering web ad attacking Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) for having the “worst voting record in Pennsylvania.” He also accused the former Naval officer of being “AWOL” for Pennsylvanians.

Read more…

Still in the Middle of the Fight

Nate Silver: “I’m not about to go out on a limb with some sort of prediction that health care is going to pass this year. It could very easily fail. But it’s not going to fail without the White House fighting like mad for it, and with most or all of its options being exhausted. The fundamental weakness of the White House press corps is that they can rarely see beyond the current 24-hour news cycle — there are still a lot of news cycles ahead before ObamaCare can be put to rest.”

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