POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 1/11

Fallin Leads for Oklahoma Governor

A new Sooner Poll in Oklahoma finds Rep. Mary Fallin (R-OK) with health leads over both Democrats running for governor.

Fallin beats Drew Edmondson (D), 51% to 39%, and tops Jari Askins (D), 52% to 36%.

Blago Apologizes for Remarks

Rod Blagojevich apologized for controversial comments in an interview saying he was “blacker than Barack Obama,” WGN-TV reports.

Said Blagojevich: “What I said was stupid, stupid, stupid. I deeply apologize for the way that was said and having said it.”

Reid’s Talking Points

First Read has the talking points Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office is passing around to blunt the fallout from the private remarks that were quoted in Game Change that have put Reid on the defensive.

Crazy Things Can Happen in Special Elections

Tom Jensen: “Obviously a Scott Brown victory would be about as big a political upset as there’s ever been, but it wouldn’t be that much more amazing than some of the special elections Democrats have won on the House side in the last six years. In the 2004 and 2008 election cycles Democrats won four House seats in districts that ended up going for the Republican Presidential nominee by 16 points or more.”

Take Five?

Former Rep. Mike Sodrel (R-IN) will challenge Rep. Baron Hill (D-IN), The Hillreports.

If Sodrel survives a Republican primary, this will be the fifth match up between the two men: Hill defeated Sodren in 2002, before being unseated in 2004. Hill reclaimed his seat in 2006, and held on in his fourth match up in 2008.

Ford Now Backs Same Sex Marriage

Here’s the clearest sign yet that Harold Ford Jr. is going to challenge Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in a Democratic primary: The New York Post reports Ford “publicly said for the first time that he was in favor of same-sex marriage.”

When asked on the Today Show, “So you’re now in favor of same sex marriage?”

Ford responded: “Civil unions and same-sex marriage, yes.”

As a congressman from Tennessee, Ford advocated a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Congress Backed Obama in Record Way

President Obama set a new record last year for getting Congress to vote his way, according to an annual study by Congressional Quarterly.

In his first year in office, Obama won 96.7% of the votes on which he had clearly staked a position. That was a bit less than 4 points higher than the previous record, set by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965.

Quote of the Day

“There were numerous instances that she said things that were — that were not accurate that ultimately, the campaign had to deal with. And that opened the door to criticism that she was being untruthful and inaccurate. And I think that is something that continues to this day.”

— McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt, in an interview on 60 Minutes, on Sarah Palin.

Game Change Hits #1

Game Change is now the bestselling book at Amazon after a weekend frenzy of leaks from the book.

Here are a few, in case you missed them:

John and Elizabeth Edwards have an amazingly dysfunctional and destructive relationship.

Sen. Harry Reid urged Obama to run for president noting in private conversations he was “light skinned” and spoke “with no Negro dialect.”

comment from Bill Clinton about Obama was the source of his strained relationship with Sen. Ted Kennedy.

In interview preparations just after being picked as Sen. John McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin thought Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The Obama kept Joe Biden off campaign conference calls in an attempt to control him.

Is Reid Finished?

Chuck Todd: “I think so. I do — absolutely. If you look at the history of incumbent senators polling this far behind, … they lose. The only winner I can of in a generation who was down by more than this to come back win was Jesse Helms in ’84 against Jim Hunt, North Carolina, and that was on the back of the Reagan landslide. Well, Harry Reid is running in a midterm… There is no upward coattail that can drag him across the finish line.”

Meanwhile, Nate Silver notes Reid’s favorability ratings “are quite similar to those of former New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, who like Reid had an enormous monetary advantage, a good turnout operation, and a somewhat underwhelming Republican opponent, but could ultimately gather no more than 45 percent of the vote.”

Gilllibrand Confronts Ford Threat

As Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) “allies have elbowed out her would-be Democratic challengers one by one,” the New York Times reports “they emphasized what was perhaps her most formidable weapon: her fund-raising muscle.”

“But it is not clear that the senator’s knack for amassing cash will be enough to scare off Harold E. Ford Jr., the former Tennessee congressman who said last week that he was considering a primary campaign against her this fall. Mr. Ford is quickly gaining attention and showing moxie where other challengers had not, saying he would run regardless of whether ‘party bosses’ like the state’s senior senator, Charles E. Schumer, want him to.”

Said one Gillibrand insider: “They are going into overdrive. There is an intense focus on this threat.”

The Hillary Effect

“There are 25 female ambassadors posted in Washington — the highest number ever,” the Washington Post reports.

“Women remain a distinct minority — there are 182 accredited ambassadors in Washington — but their rise from a cadre of five in the late 1990s to five times that is opening up what had been an elite’s men club for more than a century.”

Blacker Than Obama

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich sits for an interview with Esquire magazine and outdoes himself in a comparison to President Obama.

Said Blagojevich: “It’s such a cynical business, and most of the people in the business are full of shit and phonies, but I was real, man — and am real. This guy, he was catapulted in on hope and change, what we hope the guy is. What the f….? Everything he’s saying’s on the teleprompter. I’m blacker than Barack Obama. I shined shoes. I grew up in a five-room apartment. My father had a little laundromat in a black community not far from where we lived. I saw it all growing up.”

Blagojevich even claims David Axelrod called the day after Sen. John Kerry lost the election in 2004 to convince him to make a White House bid:

“You need to think about running for president in 2008. A new face from the Midwest to challenge Hillary Clinton. He used to work for me. He had Obama in his stable already — he’s a consultant, so he’s just gathering potential talents. That’s what these guys do — it’s all about picking winners.”

Sandoval Edges Goodman in Nevada Poll

A new Las Vegas Review Journal poll in Nevada finds Brian Sandoval (R) leading the governor’s race with 35%, followed closely by Oscar Goodman (I) at 33% and Rory Reid (D) at 20%.

Republicans Call for Reid’s Ouster

RNC Chairman Michael Steele called for Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) to step down as U.S. Senate majority leader “in the wake of revelations of Mr. Reid’s remarks in 2008 about Barack Obama’s skin color and dialect,” the New York Times reports.

Said Steele: “There’s a big double standard here. When Democrats get caught saying racist things, you know an apology is enough.

However, Roll Call notes Reid “is rebuffing GOP calls to give up his leadership post” and noted in a statement that Republicans “having a poor track record on issues important to the black community.”

“No, it’s God’s plan.”

— Sarah Palin when asked if she was nervous being picked as Sen. John McCain’s running mate, as recounted on 60 Minutes by McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt.

Spitzer Weighs in on Gillibrand Appointment

Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) told WAMC radio that he wouldn’t have appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to replace Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) because her “views on issues are either wrong or too malleable.”

Spitzer added that Gillibrand has failed to speak her mind and “make tough decisions on critical issues relating to the economy, civil rights, issues of crime and punishment, guns, same-sex marriage.”

Three Very Different Polls

Nate Silver looks closely at the three most recent Massachusetts polls — Rasmussen has Coakley leading by nine points, the Boston Globe has her ahead by 15 pointsand PPP has Brown up by one point — and concludes: “All of the polls have positives and negatives. And any of them could be right.”

“This probably won’t be a very satisfying answer to those of you who come to me looking for some kind of certitude. But part of being a good forecaster is knowing when to make a bold forecast and knowing when to proceed with more caution; the Massachusetts race calls for a heavy dose of the latter.”

Mark Blumenthal: “Do we have a clear picture today of who will win on January 19 and by how much? Probably not, but we do have a sense of the dynamics that will ultimately determine the outcome.”

Perry for President?

Texas Monthly has a nice profile of Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), whose “fortunes have gone in opposite direction” of his primary challenger, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX).

“Perry has held a lead, typically in the low double digits, in almost every poll taken since early summer, and now it is Hutchison’s political career that is in peril: Her Senate term expires on January 1, 2012, and she has said she will not seek reelection. Meanwhile, Perry’s prospects have never been rosier. Just a year after it appeared that he was on the brink of his last race, he is poised to become one of the leaders of his party. His travel schedule, speaking engagements, and television appearances in recent months give every indication that he and his team of advisers are looking beyond Texas to national politics.”

“If Perry defeats Hutchison in the March 2 Republican primary and goes on to win a third full term in November, he will immediately join the crowd of potential presidential aspirants in 2012 — if he hasn’t done so already.”

Emanuel Backs Daley for Another Term

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel praised Chicago Mayor Richard Daley “and urged him to run for re-election in 2011 in a statement designed to quashgossip that Emanuel is considering a City Hall bid,” the Chicago Sun Times reports.

Palin Thought Saddam was Behind 9/11

One more item, this time about Sarah Palin, from the soon-to-be-released book,Game Change:

The New York Times notes that “in the days leading up to an interview with ABC News’ Charlie Gibson, aides were worried with Ms. Palin’s grasp of facts. She couldn’t explain why North and South Korea were separate nations and she did not know what the Federal Reserve did. She also said she believed Saddam Hussein attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.”

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