POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/9

Obama Threatens Recess Appointments

President Obama “is calling on lawmakers to stop blocking the confirmation of government appointees in the Senate by raising objections not related to their qualifications.” the AP reports.

Obama said “he will consider making recess appointments” if the Senate fails to confirm the nominees.

Most See Republicans as Unwilling to Compromise

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that nearly six in 10 Americans say the Republicans aren’t doing enough to forge compromise with President Obama on important issues; more than four in 10 see Obama as doing too little to get GOP support.

In addition, nearly two-thirds of Americans say they want Congress to keep working to pass comprehensive health-care reform.

Palin’s Soundbite Strategy

While Sarah Palin does poorly in extended interviews, last weekend’s speechshowed she has mastered the art of the soundbite. More important, she has used it to maintain a very high political profile even though she holds no public office.

Chris Cillizza: “From a raw political perspective, Palin’s soundbite strategy is extremely effective — handing her supporters a single line (or two) around which to rally in opposition to the President’s agenda.”

Marc Ambinder: “Palin speaks in 140-word epigrams: fragments that are icky to the ears of more polished speakers but convey meta-data — she understands this.”

Strickland Still Trails in Ohio

A new Rasmussen survey in Ohio shows little improvement for Gov. Ted Strickland (D), who trails challenger John Kasich (R), 47% to 41%.

This reflects a two point increase since December, but Strickland still has a fair amount of ground to make up.

Steele Blames Criticism on Racism

In an interview with Washingtonian, RNC Chairman Michael Steele talks about “a double standard that he believes has been applied by his critics” and suggests it’s race-related.

Said Steele: “I don’t see stories about the internal operations of the DNC that I see about this operation. Why? Is it because Michael Steele is the chairman, or is it because a black man is chairman?”

The Tea Party in Context

Matt Yglesias puts yesterday’s poll which showed 33% of Iowans support the “tea party” movement into context, noting that “38% of Americans have a favorable view of Cuba and 36% are favorably disposed toward socialism, but I don’t see anyone writing newspaper articles about how a populist wave of socialism is sweeping the country.”

“The number of Iowans who like the tea party movement is smaller than the number of Americans who want marijuana legalized or the number of Americans who believe the government has had secret contact with extra-terrestrials.”

Hickenlooper Takes Lead in Colorado

John Hickenlooper (D) leads Scott McInnis (R) by four points in the Colorado race for governor, 49% to 45%, according to a new Rasmussen poll.

Last month’s poll found McInnis leading by three points.

Prospects for Democratic retention of the governorship have improved dramatically since incumbent Gov. Bill Ritter (D) announced unexpectedly that he would not run for re-election.

Stimulus Foes Seek Money for Projects

The Washington Times reports that “more than a dozen Republican lawmakers, while denouncing the stimulus to the media and their constituents, privately sent letters to just one of the federal government’s many agencies seeking stimulus money for home-state pork projects.”

McAuliffe Insists Investment Not About Politics

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Terry McAuliffe (D) is seeking to buy a paper factory in Virginia but he says the proposal “is not tied to a possible repeat bid for governor in 2013; that he is only doing as a private investor what he emphasized during his run for the Democratic nomination last June: focusing on creating so-called green jobs.”

Said McAuliffe: “I would be doing this, governor or no governor. There’s no political implication.”

On Using Satire

In a very funny clip, Stephen Colbert looks at the subtle difference between Rahm Emanuel using the word “retard” as a slur and Rush Limbaugh using the same word as satire.

Read more…

Texas Race Could Be Headed to a Runoff

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds the Republican primary for Texas governor on a path to a runoff. Surprisingly, however, the runoff could be between Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Debra Medina (R), leaving Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) as the odd-woman out.

Perry currently leads with 39%, followed by Hutchison at 28% and Medina at 24%.

Analysis: “Medina supporters say their second choice is Perry by a 43-39 margin over Hutchison, suggesting that if Perry does win by ten points but still end up in a runoff Hutchison’s prospects for gaining ground on him are not that strong.”

The primary is in three weeks.

Special Election for Murtha’s Seat

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell says he’ll “soon decide” whether to have a special election to fill Rep. John Murtha’s (D-PA) seat or if he’ll just hold the election on primary day, May 18, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

However, Rendell said his “inclination is to save the state money by holding the special election on primary day in May.”

First Read notes the race “will be a real test for the National Republican Congressional Committee. In the last two years, the NRCC has had an abysmal record in special elections, losing in places from Mississippi and Louisiana to Upstate New York (NY-20 and NY-23). Make no mistake, this special has the potential to be VERY competitive. Murtha held his seat since 1974. But John McCain narrowly won the district in 2008; in fact, Murtha’s district in Western Pennsylvania was the only one in the country that voted for John Kerry in ’04 and for McCain in ’08. This is a hugely important contest for the NRCC; the early pressure is on them – especially after losing both New York specials in this political environment.”

The Cook Political Report calls the race a Toss Up.

Ryan Will Not Run for President

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), “who has recently been under attack by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and lavished with praise by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), is ruling out a 2012 run for president,” ABC News reports.

Said Ryan: “I’ll give you as Shermanesque a quote as I can. I am not going to run for president. I’m just not going to do it. My head’s not that big, and my kids are too small.”

Quote of the Day

“There is an accountability that should exist in the media. How do I get my reputation back? Because I don’t believe I have done anything to deserve this kind of bashing.”

— New York Gov. David Paterson (D), in an interview with the AP, on rumors swirlingabout his personal conduct.

Secret Spending Sends Florida GOP into Crisis

Florida Republicans “are livid over newly revealed records that suggest outgoing chairman Jim Greer used the party as a personal slush fund for lavish travel and entertainment,” the St. Petersburg Times reports.

Records also show that the party’s executive director “padded his $103,000 salary with a secret, $260,000 fundraising contract and another $42,000 for expenses — at the same time the once mighty Florida GOP was having to lay off employees amid anemic fundraising.”

Another sign of trouble: “House Speaker Dean Cannon transferred $665,000 of party money in the days surrounding Greer’s resignation to a separate political committee called the Florida Liberty Fund, suggesting lack of confidence in the party election machine.”

Surgical Mistake Caused Murtha’s Death

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), who passed away yesterday, was hospitalized after gall bladder surgery when complications developed. According to a source close to Murtha, “doctors inadvertently cut Mr. Murtha’s intestine during the laparoscopic surgery, causing an infection.”

Republicans on Wrong Side of Public Opinion

Nate Silver looks at 25 issues that President Obama has “made an affirmative effort to push forward since taking office a year ago” and and summarized public opinion data on each of them.

Of the 25 issues, Obama’s position appears to be on the right side of public opinion on 14, it’s on the wrong side of public opinion on five issues and for the remaining six the polling “is probably too ambiguous to render a clear verdict.”

Republicans, however, have overwhelmingly opposed almost all of these measures with the exception of three.

Republicans Threaten Boycott of Health Care Summit

House Republican leaders raised the prospect “that they might refuse to participate in President Obama’s proposed health care summit if the White House chooses not to scrap the existing reform bills and start over,” the Washington Post reports.

New York Times: “It is not clear that Republicans and the White House are willing to negotiate seriously with each other, and Mr. Obama has rejected Republican demands that he start from scratch in developing health care legislation.”

Republican advantage: A new Gallup poll finds just 36% of Americans approve of the way the president is handling health care policy.

Democratic advantage: Obama dominated House Republicans when he took questions at their retreat last month.

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