POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/19

Crist Agrees to Debate Rubio

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) agreed to two nationally-televised debates with Marco Rubio (R) hosted by Meet The Press on March 7h and Fox News Sunday on March 28th.

Obama Preps Health Care Bill

Democratic officials tell the New York Times that President Obama’s health care proposal “was being written so that it could be attached to a budget bill as a way of averting a Republican filibuster in the Senate. The procedure, known as budget reconciliation, would let Democrats advance the bill with a simple majority rather than a 60-vote supermajority.”

The bill will be posted online Monday in advance of the president’s bipartisan health care summit on Thursday.

Said a Democratic aide: “It will be a reconciliation bill. If Republicans don’t come with any substantial offers, this is what we would do.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I sort of reject the notion that there is a communications problem with President Obama. I think it’s just fundamental, total miscalculations from the very, very beginning. Of proportions comparable to President George W. Bush’s decision to go into Iraq.”

— Charlie Cook, in an interview with the National Journal.

Democrats Losing Young Voters

A new Pew Research poll finds young voters “played a big role in the resurgence of the Democratic Party in the 2006 and 2008 elections, but their attachment to the Democratic Party weakened markedly over the course of 2009.”

The Democratic advantage over the Republicans in party affiliation among young voters “reached a whopping 62% to 30% margin in 2008. But by the end of 2009 this 32-point margin had shrunk to just 14 points: 54% Democrat, 40% Republican.”

Pence Embraces “No”

Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) “made no apologies for trying to stop President Obama’s agenda in Congress, telling conservative activists he proudly wears the ‘Party of No’ label that Democrats have tried to pin on Republicans,” CNN reports.

Said Pence: “Some folks like to call us the ‘Party of No.’ Well, I say ‘No’ is way underrated here in Washington, D.C. Sometimes ‘No’ is just what this town needs to hear.”

Ellsworth Confirms He’ll Seek Bayh’s Seat

Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN) confirmed reports to WFIE-TV that he has decided to run for U.S. Senate.

First Read: “It’s worth noting that Senate Democrats have now been able to find good replacement candidates in Connecticut (after Chris Dodd decided not to run), Delaware (after Beau Biden didn’t get in the race), and now Indiana (with Bayh’s upcoming retirement).”

However, as we pointed out earlier, though Ellsworth is the clear favorite, Indiana Democrats cannot officially choose their nominee until after the May 18th primaries.

Lautenberg Has Cancer

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) was diagnosed with “treatable stomach cancer” and will begin chemotherapy today, the Newark Star Ledger reports.

The 86 year old Democrat “still plans to finish out his current term — his fifth in the Senate — and seek re-election in 2014.”

With tight votes expected in the Senate in the coming months, it will be interesting to see if Lautenberg’s treatment schedule impacts his ability to vote.

Romney Fight Was With Rapper

TMZ reports the man involved in the altercation with Mitt Romney on a plane coming from Winter Olympics was rapper Sky Blu of LMFAO.

“Sky Blu claims Romney then reached forward and grabbed his shoulder … so he slapped the Presidential wannabeen’s hand away. Shortly after, authorities boarded the plane and escorted Sky Blu off the flight … and the other member of LMFAO got it all on tape.”

Jindal Sounds Like He’s Running

A description of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R) forthcoming book, On Solid Ground: Returning to America’s Core Values, makes it sound like he’s seriously considering a presidential bid.

The AP notes the book “will be more than just an autobiography of the Louisiana governor” and will include “a political treatise on his vision for the Republican Party.”

The book is due out in July.

Quote of the Day

“It’s like Tiger Woods’ wife, we should take a nine iron to the back windshield of big government spending and smash it out.”

— Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), quoted by Minnesota Public radio, speaking at the CPAC conference.

Whitman Way Ahead in Primary Race

Political Wire has learned that a prominent GOP polling firm conducted a poll in California for a corporate client that showed Meg Whitman (R) crushing Steve Poizner (R) in the Republican gubernatorial primary, 55% to 16%.

As a courtesy, the numbers were given to both campaigns.

Sestak Says He Was Offered Job to End Challenge

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) claims the White House “offered him a federal job in an effort to dissuade him from challenging Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) in the state’s Democratic primary.”

Said Sestak: “I’m not going to say who or how and what was offered. I don’t feel it’s appropriate to go beyond what I said.”

The White House denied the story.

Another Surprise for Democrats in Indiana

The Indianapolis Star reports Democrats will now have to wait until after the May 4 primary to officially pick their nominee to replace Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN).

Party leaders “had hoped to call a meeting of the Democratic Party’s state central committee’s 32 voting members as early as next week. But after party attorneys researched state law, they discovered they could not fill the ballot vacancy until after the primary.”

However, the delay “complicates the Democrats’ scenario considerably.”

Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN) and Rep. Baron Hill (D-IN) — who have both said they’re considering a Senate bid — “will be on the primary ballot for re-election to their congressional seats, but at the same time perhaps signaling to voters that they’d rather be in the Senate.”

A Wave is Building But How Big?

The universe of House seats that Republicans could conceivably flip into their column is expanding and the number of seats that Democrats would wrest from the GOP is dwindling, according to a new CQ Politics analysis.

Of the 49 House races that CQ Politics now envisions as the most competitive, Democrats are the defending party in 42 districts and Republicans are the defending party in just seven.

Similarly, the Cook Political Report rates 60 House seats as having at least a reasonable chance of switching hands, of which 54 are held by Democrats and just six are held by Republicans.

However, the Crystal Ball notes “there is still no convincing evidence that a GOP wave will deliver Republicans the majority in the House… The average pick-up in a midterm year (since 1946) is 22 seats and Republicans should exceed that, but the magic number of 40 still seems out of reach, as of February.”

How Democrats Can Avoid a Repeat of 1994

Stan Greenberg: “President Obama and the Democratic Party need to urgently revisit 1994. By paying close attention to the lessons of that year — lessons about presidential leadership, the consequences of congressional melodrama, the need for an economic narrative and for a defining choice in the election — the worst can be avoided.”

“Most importantly, Democrats must explain this election’s stakes and frame the choice that voters face. This is something we failed to get right in 1994.”

Grassley Looks Safe in Iowa

A new KCCI-TV Iowa Poll finds Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) way ahead in his re-election bid over Roxanner Conlin (D), 56% to 35%.

Paterson Seen as Increasingly Remote

The New York Times runs an unflattering profile of New York Gov. David Paterson (D) that portrays him as disengaged from his job.

“A review of several months of Mr. Paterson’s private schedules shows that his days were not long; he often arrived at his office in Manhattan or Albany after 10 a.m. and departed by 4:30 or 5 p.m.”

Ben Smith: “There’s no bombshell, but if Paterson’s re-election looked hopeless before, this sure doesn’t help.”

Brown-Waite May Announce Retirement

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL) issued a brief statement that hinted at a “major announcement” tonight, prompting speculation that she’ll announce her retirement, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

College Makes You Liberal

Fox News reports on a new study that shows a college degree skews a person’s political beliefs and can turn you into a liberal.

Read more…

Paulson Blasts Republicans in Memoir

Newsweek reviews former Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s memoir, On the Brink, which is a “continual and biting critique of Republicans.”

Right out of the gate, he takes a swipe at Sarah Palin, saying that while he encourages everyone he works with to call him Hank, when she did it over the phone during the campaign, “for some reason, the way she said it over the phone like that, even though we’d never met, rubbed me the wrong way” (page 15)… Meetings with Senate Republicans were “a complete waste of time for us, when time was more precious than anything” (page 275). Ideas that Republicans do add are “unformed,” like Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor’s plan to replace TARP with an insurance program. In a rare moment of sarcasm, Paulson goes off on the minority Whip: “I got a better idea. I’m going to go with Eric Cantor’s insurance program. That’s the idea to save the day” (page 285).

Hatch Says Tea Party Threatens to Split GOP

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said the Tea Party movement must learn to work with Republicans or they’ll see conservatives lose more ground, the Salt Lake Tribune.

Said Hatch: “If we fractionalize the Republican Party, we are going to see more liberals elected.”

He also defended Republican use of the filibuster in the Senate.

Hatch: “To pass anything they want in the Senate, they have to get 60 votes, and that is how we stop a lot of crap.”

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