POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/25

Crist Ready to Leave Republican Party?

The Hill makes the case that Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R), trailing badly in a tough Republican primary, is more and more likely to run for Senate as an independent.

Crist has recently stood up for President Obama on Fox and Friends and is beginning to defend the stimulus once again. He has also “parted ways with some key campaign staff” over the past few weeks.

Whether or not Crist is actually considering mounting a run as an independent, it is clear that his campaign is in trouble and a new direction is needed if he hopes to be elected in 2010.

Castle Holds Big Lead in Delaware

A new Rasmussen survey in Delaware shows Rep. Mike Castle (R) with a big lead over Chris Coons (D) in their likely U.S. Senate match up, 53% to 32%.

Perry Spending for a Knockout

While Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) “is hoarding money for a possible Republican runoff, campaign finance reports show Gov. Rick Perry (R) has increased his spending on television commercials in hopes of winning Tuesday’s primary outright,” the Houston Chronicle reports.

The Myth of the 50% Incumbent Rule

Nate Silver takes apart the conventional wisdom that incumbents polling under 50% are vulnerable this early in the election cycle.

In fact, over the last two congressional elections he notes it is “extremely common for an incumbent come back to win re-election while having less than 50% of the vote in early polls.”

Quote of the Day

“There is a certain irony to this. I have been called in to help the Obama Administration for the very reason that has made some Democrats unhappy with me, which is that I have ongoing, trusting relationships with some of the Republicans.”

— Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), in a Time magazine interview, on being tapped to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Rubio Used Party Credit Card for Personal Expenses

U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio (R) “charged grocery bills, repairs to the family minivan and purchases from a wine store less than a mile from his West Miami home to the Republican Party of Florida while he was speaker of the Florida House,” according to records obtained by the St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald.

Rubio said that “he paid for all personal expenses billed to an American Express card given to him by the party to use from 2005 to 2008, when he left public office. The rest of the charges, he said, were legitimate party expenses.”

Does the White House Have a Fallback Plan?

President Obama will use today’s bipartisan summit “to push for sweeping health-care legislation, but if that fails to generate enough support the White House has prepared the outlines of a more modest plan,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“His leading alternate approach would provide health insurance to perhaps 15 million Americans, about half what the comprehensive bill would cover, according to two people familiar with the planning.”

Jonathan Cohn: “But the politics of the skinny plan aren’t as simple as they might seem. It would give the administration an accomplishment, yes, but nobody would mistake it for success. … Most important of all, though, the skinny bill doesn’t actually fix the broken system.”

Noting this alternative plan “has been around for awhile,” Ezra Klein insists there’s no real Plan B on the table anymore.

“At this point, health-care reform either passes or it dies. Democrats are all in on this one. They know it, Republicans know it, and maybe more importantly, they know the Republicans know it. Letting health-care reform fail is indistinguishable from conceding the 2010 election. There’s no real fallback plan. If Democrats fall back, they fall.”

Americans Tilt Against Health Care Plan

Gallup: “Americans are skeptical that lawmakers will agree on a new healthcare bill at Thursday’s bipartisan healthcare summit in Washington, D.C. If an agreement is not reached, Americans by a 49% to 42% margin oppose rather than favor Congress passing a healthcare bill similar to the one proposed by President Obama and Democrats in the House and Senate. By a larger 52% to 39% margin, Americans also oppose the Democrats in the Senate using a reconciliation procedure to avoid a possible Republican filibuster and pass a bill by a simple majority vote.”

Huckabee Shows No Signs of Running for President

There was little about Mike Huckabee’s visit to Iowa yesterday “to suggest the winner of the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses is staging a second bid for the White House,” the Des Moines Register reports.

“In a state always on the lookout for signs of presidential ambition, Huckabee has sent signal after signal that he might not make another run. That contrasts with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who came in second behind Huckabee, and Iowa caucuses newcomer Tim Pawlenty, governor of Minnesota.”

“Another signal that Huckabee does not appear focused on Iowa: Huckabee has not been in touch with state GOP officials, even though he has visited Iowa four times since the 2008 election.”

Bush Says Charisma is Not Enough

Jeb Bush tells Newsmax what Sarah Palin needs to do if she want to become president:

“My personal belief is that for Governor Palin to be a successful candidate for higher office, she needs to take this charisma she has and also add to it some depth of understanding of the complexity of life that we’re living in today. If she had the combination of that, she would be a formidable candidate.”

Liberal Magazines Suffer Under Obama

Vanity Fair notes that liberal political magazines — “whose circulation soared on the wings of the Bush hatred that swept much of the country” — have not done very well since President Obama took office.

“Ideologically driven magazines tend to thrive on feelings of anger and disenfranchisement, and while liberals were hardly pleased with Obama’s first year in office, the disappointment can’t compare to the emotions that Darth Cheney and Cowboy Bush inspired. It may not be until 2013 and the inauguration of President Palin that left-wing publications attain their former heights.”

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