Bayh Gets Challenger

Former Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN) announced that he will challenge Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) next year, Politico reports.

“Hostettler’s 12-year House career ended in 2006 in a crushing loss against now-Rep. Brad Ellsworth. During his time in Congress, Hostettler ranked among the most conservative members, and often proved to be a thorn in the side of House Republican leadership.”

Crist Recording Sends Callers to Sex Line

Palm Beach Post: “In a message callers hear when they get put on hold after calling Gov. Charlie Crist, Crist transposes a couple of numbers and turns the phone number for Florida KidCare into the number you’d call for ‘hot, horny girls.'”

Hoyer Not Worried About Repeat of 1994

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said that Democrats “know 2010 will be a tough election year. But unlike 1994 when they were swept out of power for the first time in 40 years, they’re ready this time,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Said Hoyer: “In November 1993 nobody was discussing that we may have tough races coming up in the election year of 1994. We were pretty cocksure that what was, would be. As a result, we weren’t as on guard as we should have been. That is definitively not the case in 2009.”

Hoyer also noted that only 11 House Democrats have announced their retirement so far, compared with 13 Republicans.

Castle Maintains Lead in Delaware

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Delaware finds Rep. Mike Castle (R) leading Beau Biden (D) in a possible U.S. Senate race, 45% to 39%.

Key finding: “Two major trends have shown up in both polls to give Castle the early advantage. The first is an overwhelming 52-23 lead with independents. That mirrors a national trend of strong Republican performance with that group, although Castle’s edge is particularly large. The second is that he wins over far more Democrats than Biden does Republicans.”

Obama Approval Stays High Among Young Voters

A new national poll by Harvard’s Institute of Politics finds 58% of America’s 18-29 year-olds approve of President Obama’s job performance generally but disapprove of his handling of specific issues including the economy (52% disapprove), health care (52% disapprove) and Afghanistan (55% disapprove).

Quote of the Day

“I’m not sure of her future politically, and I’m really not sure of mine either.”

— Mike Huckabee, in an interview with Christianity Today, about Sarah Palin.

Justice Department’s Number Two Steps Down

Deputy Attorney General David Ogden “is stepping aside to return to private law practice in Washington after less than a year of service,” the Washington Post reports.

The Katrina Effect on Redistricting in Louisiana

The Rose Institute has a very detailed analysis of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on 2011 redistricting in Louisiana and how it may change the state’s congressional delegation for the next decade.

At issue: Louisiana’s population has declined by nearly 1.3% since 2000, meaning the state may lose one of its seven House seats, raising the stakes for both parties.

Coleman Mulls Run for Governor

Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) has emerged back in the political arena, much to the delight of Minnesota Republicans, reports Politico.

It’s a move “that some insiders in Washington and Minnesota view as a precursor to a 2010 gubernatorial bid. Five months after the conclusion of his bitter, protracted Senate battle against Democrat Al Franken, Coleman is beginning to cut a higher profile, increasingly voicing his opinions in carefully chosen interviews and public appearances.”

Said Coleman confidant Vin Weber: “I think he’s certainly thinking about it, and he’s certainly getting a lot of people telling him he ought to do it. If you had asked me two months ago, I would have said, ‘No.’ Now, I would say, ‘Question mark.'”

Isolationism on the Rise

Politics Daily reports on a new poll that shows just as President Obama “outlined his broad strategy for Afghanistan and is pushing ahead with other global initiatives, the percentage of Americans who believe the U.S. should mind its own business and let other countries get along on their own has reached an all-time high.”

The survey found 49% of Americans holding that view. The previous highs were 41% in both 1995 and 1976.

Can Obama Sell America on this War?

Joe Klein: “The president made the best possible argument for a rather iffy proposition: the expansion of a war that is 51 percent necessary and 49 percent futile (or vice versa). But you can’t argue a people into war, especially one that seems so indistinct and perplexing. Once you have made the decision to go, or to redouble your efforts, you must lead the charge — passionately and, yes, with a touch of anger. Obama’s attempt to do that, his peroration about the ideals that cause us to fight, was lovely but abstract… And that is the high drama that has been unfolding this autumn: the struggles of a highly intelligent, dispassionate man to find a rationale for a mission that is crucial but slightly crazy, a decision that will define his presidency.”

The GOP Battle in Texas

The New York Times Magazine has a must-read piece on the fierce primary battle in Texas between Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R).

“The Texas Republican gubernatorial primary is thus shaping up to be a public airing of that national party’s internal discontents. The issues and cultural references in the race are unmistakably Texan. But the contest’s central question — whether a highly popular general-election Republican (Hutchison) can defeat a less-popular Republican (Perry) who nonetheless knows how to excite conservative primary voters — goes to the heart of the party’s overall vitality. In an effort to reclaim Reagan’s scepter, both campaigns are aggressively ignoring the Gipper’s 11th Commandment to not speak ill of fellow Republicans.”

Sanders Seeks to Block Bernanke

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will place a hold on the renomination of Ben Bernanke as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, according to the New York Times. Under Senate rules, lawmakers would need 60 votes to override Sanders and proceed with a vote.

Though Bernanke is not in serious danger of losing his post, Sanders is voicing his opposition to what he feels are burdensome corporate bailouts that have ignored the struggles of regular people.

Bernanke’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee is later today.

Study on Obama Cabinet Experience False

Politifact looks at the recent study that claimed President Obama’s cabinet had less private sector experience than any administration since 1900 and concludes it’s wrong.

They even tracked down the author, J.P. Morgan analyst, Michael Cembalest, who now admits he made a mistake.

Said Cembalest: “This is the one time I stepped out into making judgment calls, and I assure you I won’t do it again… The frightening thing about the Internet is that people copy one chart from what you write and then it goes viral. So I’ve learned a lesson here that these kinds of issues are best left addressed by the people who practice them day in and day out.”

DeMint Wishes He Said “You Lie”

Sen. James DeMint (R-SC) — who riled Democrats earlier this year declaring health care reform would be President Obama’s “Waterloo” — said he was initially worried when he heard Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) yell “You Lie!” during Obama’s address to Congress in September that everyone thought it was him, Politico reports.

But days later when he learned Wilson had raised several million dollars from it, “I was thinking ‘Why didn’t I say that?'”

Obama Firm on Troop Withdrawal

Chip Reid asked White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs if senators were correct calling the July 2011 date for beginning to withdrawal troops from Afghanistan a “target,” meaning there was some wiggle room.

Writes Reid: “After the briefing, Gibbs went to the president for clarification. Gibbs then called me to his office to relate what the president said. The president told him it IS locked in — there is no flexibility. Troops WILL start coming home in July 2011. Period. It’s etched in stone. Gibbs said he even had the chisel.”

Ten Ways to Cut the Deficit

Since it seems neither major party has much credibility left on fiscal responsibility, Kennedy School professor Jeff Frankels outlines ten proposals “to move the budget back to a sustainable path (like the one it was on until January 2001).”

Five of them would raise taxes, five of them would cut spending and none of them are being seriously considered by Congress.

Tactics to Block Health Care Bill

An interesting memo from Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) outlines 15 parliamentary measures Senate Republicans can use to block President Obama’s health care reform legislation.

TPM notes most of the steps “don’t serve any substantive purpose at all, but simply cause the debate proceedings to grind to a halt.”

Ezra Klein: “There are a couple of points you could make on this, but the main one is that this is a completely insane way to run the government.”

Republicans on a Roll

The Hotline: “Two big story lines are emerging on the national landscape, though they send mixed messages for the GOP: First, the NRCC is doing a better job than Dems in putting seats in play. But the seats they are missing are seats the party needs to win to take back the Speaker’s gavel.”

Number Of Contractors Rising In Afghanistan

The Obama administration is increasing more than just troop levels in Afghanistan, according the Wall Street Journal. A Defense Department census shows that “the number of contractors increased about 40% between the end of June and the end of September, for a total of 104,101” present in Afghanistan.

Defense Department officials say this will allow U.S. troops to focus “on combating insurgents, not on the nuts and bolts” of maintaining a military presence abroad.


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