POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 12/14

Bonus Quote of the Day

“There has to be a certain decorum and civility. And that was just smashed. I thought, ‘How low have we gotten here?'”

— Former President George H.W. Bush, in an interview with Parade, noting he was “deeply offended” by Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R-SC) outburst during President Obama’s September speech to Congress.

Too Close for Comfort?

With another Democrat announcing his retirement today, the updated Cook Political Report race ratings show Democrats have just 218 seats in the “Likely Democrat” and “Solid Democrat” columns — exactly the number they need to retain control of the House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, The Hotline notes Democratic leaders “will meet tonight to discuss the troubling trend of retiring members.”

Armey Likes Pawlenty, Barbour

Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) told CBS News that while there is “no consensus” on who is leading the Republican Party right now, he sees Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) as “becoming emergent.”

Said Armey: “I think there are people vying and becoming emergent as who can be the most effective voice. My own view is that Pawlenty is the person standing on the safest ground. He has no major disappointments behind him. He has the chance to create a fresh new public understanding of who he is and what he stands for. Right now you have to put him there… Haley Barbour is a person with an extremely solid track record of performance who can stand on that ground comfortably.”

Congressional Democrats as Unpopular as Republicans

The latest Public Policy Polling survey finds Democrats barely holding on to a lead in the generic congressional ballot test, 44% to 42%.

Key findings: 59% of voters now disapprove of Congressional Democrats compared to just 28% who think they’re doing a good job. The Republicans are still slightly more unpopular, with 61% disapproving and 24% approving.

Another Vulnerable House Democrat Retires

The Nashville Post reports that Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN) has announced that he will retire from Congress at the end of this term.

The Hotline: “Gordon leaves open a seat Dems could have trouble defending. Sen. John McCain won the district in ’08 by a 62%-37% margin, and national GOPers instantly characterized it as a lean-GOP seat that is likely to eventually fall into their hands”

Update: The Cook Political Report moves TN-6 from Lean Democrat to Likely Republican.

Giannoulias, Kirk Lead in Illinois

A new Chicago Tribune poll in Illinois finds Alexi Giannoulias (D) leading the Democratic field for U.S. Senate with 31%, followed by Cheryle Jackson (D) at 17% and David Hoffman at 9% with 35% still undecided.

On the GOP side, Rep. Mark Kirk has 41% support but there are still 46% undecided.

The primary elections are on February 2.

Paterson Inches Up

For the second month in a row, New York Gov. David Paterson (D) has seen a modest bump in his approval ratings, a new Siena poll finds, with 36% of voters having a favorable view of him as compared to just 27% in the spring.

However, in a Democratic primary match up with Andrew Cuomo (D), Paterson still loses by 44 points.

Campbell Weighs Switch to Senate Race

What do you do when you’re the odd man out in California’s battle of the multi-millionaires running for governor? You consider a more winnable fight.

The Fix reports that Tom Campbell (R) is “weighing a possible switch from the governor’s race to a Senate bid, according to sources familiar with his thinking. Campbell consultant James Fifsis confirmed to the Fix that several Republican officials have approached the former congressman about making the switch but that no final decision had been made. Campbell has long been the odd man out in the governor’s race — outshined by Whitman and Poizner. If Campbell makes the move, it will mark his third race for Senate in the last two decades.”

Lieberman Tortures Liberals

Ezra Klein says Sen. Joe Lieberman’s most recent ultimatum on the health care reform bill is all about avenging his loss in the 2006 Democratic primary.

“To put this in context, Lieberman was invited to participate in the process that led to the Medicare buy-in. His opposition would have killed it before liberals invested in the idea. Instead, he skipped the meetings and is forcing liberals to give up yet another compromise. Each time he does that, he increases the chances of the bill’s failure that much more. And if there’s a policy rationale here, it’s not apparent to me, or to others who’ve interviewed him. At this point, Lieberman seems primarily motivated by torturing liberals. That is to say, he seems willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score.”

Romney Hopes for 10,000 at Book Signing

Mitt Romney apparently is looking for Palin-like numbers when promoting his forthcoming book, No Apology: The Case for America’s Greatness.

Mitt Romney Central says one of Romney’s first book signings will take place on March 13, 2010 at the University of Utah and “expects 10,000 attendees, all of which will receive a signed copy of the new book.”

Ask Ashley

“Sure, she’s made some mistakes. But now Ashley Dupre, the former escort who brought down Gov. Eliot Spitzer, is sharing what she’s learned in her new sex, love and relationship column — exclusively in the New York Post.”

McCain Gets Angrier

The New York Times runs a fascinating piece on Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on how “has cut back his dealings with many of the people who were at his side while he was running for president” and is escalating his attacks on the White House.

“If Mr. McCain has had a history of being a happy warrior, that is not the phrase used by many of his friends to describe his demeanor these days. There are few glimpses of the winks, wry smiles and one-liners that were once an integral part of his character. More typically, his remarks are tinged with sarcasm or anger, delivered with a wave of the arm or both hands chopping through the air…”

Said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “His presidential aspirations are over — he knows he’s never going to be president. Most people in that position have a hard time re-engaging, but he’s really engaged. I’ve never seen him like this before. He’s really going down there, he’s really making it tough for them.”

Quote of the Day

“I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street.”

— President Obama, in an interview on 60 Minutes.

The Wall Street Journal notes Obama is scheduled to meet with bankers this morning “to exchange ideas on ways to increase lending; to review the financial-industry regulatory bill moving through Congress; and to discuss bankers’ compensation.”

Read more…

Supreme Court Leaves Everyone Waiting

The Supreme Court “has put off until next year a ruling that could remake the political landscape for the 2010 midterm elections, and that’s making things tricky for those eagerly awaiting the decision, including political professionals, regulators, advocacy groups and even the White House,” reports Politico.

The case under review “challenges decades of law limiting corporate and union spending on elections. It could fundamentally reshape how money gets raised and spent, and spur a renewed effort to limit the flow of money into politics.”

Obama Gives Himself a B-Plus

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, President Obama was asked to grade himself for the year.

Said Obama: “A good solid B-plus. I think we have inherited the biggest set of challenges of any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. We stabilized the economy… We are on our way out of Iraq. I think we’ve got the best possible plan for Afghanistan. We have reset our image around the world.”

Why only B-plus?

“B-plus because of the things that are undone. Health care is not yet signed. If I get health care passed we tip into A minus.”

Read more…

Lieberman Will Still Filibuster Bill

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) formally notified Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that he would filibuster the health care reform bill if it includes a Medicare “buy-in” provision, Roll Call reports.

“Lieberman’s position came as a surprise to Reid, considering the self-described Independent Democrat was among the first people Reid spoke to about the Medicare provision when it was discussed by a Democratic group of centrists and liberals attempting to craft a compromise that could secure the votes of all 60 Members of the Democratic Conference. At the time, Lieberman ‘voiced support’ for the plan, according to a Senate Democratic leadership aide.”

Sole GOP Candidate Drops Out in Rhode Island

The only Republican candidate running in the 2010 Rhode Island governor’s race has dropped out, the Providence Journal reports.

Riordan Smith (R) had filed for the race less than two months ago, but cited his lack of competitiveness as the reason why he was ending his candidacy. This leaves Republican-turned-Independent Lincoln Chafee in the race, along with General Treasurer Frank Caprio and Attorney General Patrick Lynch, both Democrats.

Republicans are hoping that former Cranston mayor Steve Laffey (R) will throw his hat in the ring, although no decision has been made yet. The candidates are running to replace term-limited Gov. Don Carcieri (R).

Blagojevich Wants FBI Interview with Obama

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s lawyers “want the FBI to give up details of interviews conducted last year of President Obama, his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, White House adviser Valerie Jarrett and others as part of the investigation into the former governor,” the Chicago Sun Times reports.

“Then-President-elect Obama, Emanuel and Jarrett sat down with the FBI about a year ago — just after Blagojevich was arrested on charges of trying to sell Obama’s recently vacated Senate seat to the highest bidder.”

Waiting on the CBO Score

Roll Call notes growing threats from some Senate Democrats to oppose the health care bill if the forthcoming CBO scoring shows the bill does not reduce health costs or is not deficit neutral.

Huffington Post: “There is, currently, a nightmare scenario afflicting Democrats on Capitol Hill with regards to health care reform. And it goes like this: Sometime early next week, leadership gets word from the Congressional Budget Office on their latest outline of reform. The legislative language on which they’ve settled — the one with the clearest promise yet of getting the votes needed to cut off a Republican filibuster — has actually scored quite poorly, saving less money over time and covering fewer people than earlier versions of the bill.”


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