POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 10/13

Specter Holds Narrow Lead Over Toomey

A new GrassrootsPA poll in Pennsylvania finds Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) barely leading Pat Toomey (R) in their U.S. Senate race, 46% to 43%.

If Rep. Joe Sestak (D) is the Democratic nominee, he would beat Toomey, 43% to 38%.


Snowe Will Back Baucus Bill

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) announced today she will vote for the health care reform bill in the Senate Finance Committee today.

Said Snowe: “When history calls, history calls.”

However, she added: “My vote today, is my vote today. It doesn’t forecast what it will be tomorrow.”

More important: Snowe’s vote is an almost certain guarantee the final bill on the Senate floor will look very much like the Finance committee bill.


50 Most Powerful in Washington, D.C.

GQ profiles the 50 most powerful people in Washington, D.C. with White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel topping the list.

“More, much more, than just the gatekeeper to the president. In addition to his five years as senior adviser in the Clinton White House, Rahm served six years in the House and, more importantly, engineered the Democratic takeover of Congress in ’06. He knows procedure, he’s ruthlessly pragmatic about what is politically achievable, and he knows how and when to twist arms and call in the many favors he’s owed. All of which has helped him wrangle fence-sitters when it came to ponying up for the stimulus package, negotiate with the Senate Finance Committee on health care, and keep the liberal and conservative elements of his own party in line. Obstruct the White House and at some point Rahm will come calling.”

Auditor Backs Away from Insurance Industry Report

PricewaterhouseCoopers, who authored an insurance industry report that said health care costs would escalate if Democratic reforms were enacted, put out a statement last night, according to Politico, that basically said, “Hey, we weren’t paid to evaluate the effects of the entire bill, but rather a small slice of it.”

“The statement only seems to reinforce critics’ view that the report is skewed precisely because it doesn’t take into account the totality of reform.”

Ben Smith: “It’s quite unusual for a consultant to proactively undermine its client like this, and another reflection of the massive pressure the White House and its allies are bringing to bear.”


New Jersey is a Toss Up

After trailing by 9 points last month, a new Public Policy Polling survey in New Jersey finds that Gov. Jon Corzine (D) has now pulled within one point of challenger Chris Christie (R), 40% to 39%, with independent candidate Chris Daggett drawing 13% support.

Analysis: “It was thought that Corzine’s only chance at winning was to make voters dislike Christie even more than him, but he actually has seen a gain in his favorability over the last month. While a majority of voters still don’t care for him the 37/55 spread is a whole lot better than the 32/60 of a month ago.”


CNN Taken to Task

On the Daily Show last night, Jon Stewart absolutely destroyed CNN for “fact-checking” a recent Saturday Night Live skit

It’s so well done it makes you never want to watch cable television news again.

Read more…


Kirk Poll Shows Him Leading in Illinois

A new internal poll conducted for Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) shows him beating Alexi Giannoulias (D) in the Illinois U.S. Senate race, 42% to 35%.


Obama is Most-Traveled First Year President

President Obama “has now visited more countries in his first year in office than any other president did,” McClatchy reports.

He’s been to 16 countries so far this year and it’s only mid-October.


Cheney Starts New Group

Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, continues her march into politics by launching “a new group aimed at rallying opposition to the ‘radical’ foreign policy of the Obama administration,” reports Politico.

“Keep America Safe will focus on issues like troop levels, missile defense, detainees, and interrogation, according to Liz Cheney, who is heading the group along with Weekly Standard editor William Kristol and Debra Burlingame, the hawkish sister of an American Airlines pilot killed in the September 11 attacks.”

Update: The DNC emails this statement: “Last fall, the American people overwhelming rejected a radical foreign policy authored by Dick Cheney that alienated our allies, emboldened our enemies, depleted our resources, distracted our focus and made the nation less secure. The Cheneys lost that debate and their approach was deemed a failure. The Cheneys can continue to focus on securing their sullied legacy if they want to. But, the President will continue to focus on securing the country.”


Steele Blogs

RNC Chairman Michael Steele starts a new blog today on the redesigned GOP website called, “What Up?”

Meanwhile, Ben Smith points out that the “future leaders” page on the new site is blank.


Clinton, Gates are Key to Afghanistan Policy

When it comes to changing the war strategy Afghanistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates “constitute a critical voting bloc,” theNew York Times reports, making the case “for a middle ground between a huge influx of soldiers and a narrow focus aimed at killing terrorists from Al Qaeda, according to several administration officials.”

“That swing vote would put them at odds with the bare-bones approach still being pushed by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., as well as the most aggressive military buildup recommended by the American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal.”

“All of them have chosen to play their cards close to the vest, even holding back in the marathon meetings of recent weeks of the National Security Council, according to officials who attended the sessions.”


How Will Snowe Vote?

With Republicans apparently playing hardball with Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) before’s today’s Senate Finance Committee vote on health care reform, George Stephanopoulos gives his odds on how she will vote.

  • YES: 45% — “Voting yes keeps Snowe at the table and keeps Dems from moving immediately to reconciliation.”
  • NO: 40% — “Snowe is a Republican and she has to think about her base (Closed primaries in Maine).”
  • PASS: 15% — “The best way to keep your options open is to keep your options open.”

First Read: “Nothing will put a damper on the expected passage of the Senate Finance Committee health care reform bill other than a result that does NOT include Snowe voting in the affirmative. She’s the cover the White House needs, NOT for bipartisanship, but for wooing Democrats like Ben Nelson and Tom Carper and Blanche Lincoln and Evan Bayh. Snowe is today’s most powerful politician in Washington when it comes to health care.”


Many Republicans May Skip Iowa in 2012

The Des Moines Register notes that the “relative quiet” among prospective 2012 presidential candidates “could signal a fateful shift for Iowa: Republicans less identified with the right wing of the party might think they can win the nomination without betting it all on the Iowa caucuses.”

“The traffic is far lighter than in 2005, when a half-dozen Republicans made multiple trips to the state, meeting with advisers and planning 2008 strategy.”

Daily Pulse: All Eyes on the Senate Finance Committee

The Senate Finance Committee will vote today on its version of the health care reform bill. The action starts at 10 a.m. when senators question CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf before voting.

Washington Post: “The finance panel’s vote marks a watershed in the quest to overhaul the country’s health-care system. Not since Theodore Roosevelt proposed universal health care during the 1912 presidential campaign has any such bill come this far. “

Republicans continue to play hardball, according to The Hill, telling Sen. Olympia Snowe (M-ME) they will deny her a shot at becoming the ranking Republican on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee if she backs the bill. 

A Senate Democrat on the panel “said Republicans on the panel are threatening to vote against Snowe, who is in line for the senior GOP post that is about to come open.”

Meanwhile, Democrats are moving ahead as if they have no GOP support and “have already begun their own internal negotiations aimed at reconciling the various measures passed by House and Senate committees. As part of that exercise, lawmakers are reviving ideas that had been discarded, including a new approach to a government insurance plan that appears to be gaining support with party moderates.”

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