POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 3/2

Whitman Welcomes Brown to the Race

Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman (R) responded to Jerry Brown’s (D) announcement that he would run for governor with an opposition research dumpdisguised as a “voter’s guide.”

Only Pataki Can Beat Gillibrand

A new Marist Poll finds former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) is the only Republican who leads in a U.S. Senate match up against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

Pataki would edge Gillibrand, 48% to 45%.

However, Gillibrand would crush Mort Zuckerman (R), 59% to 26%, and dominate Bruce Blakeman, 58% to 28%.

Another interesting finding: One possible reason Harold Ford (D) declined to challenge Gillibrand in a Democratic primary is that she opened up a 31 point lead over him in recent weeks.

Obama Will Include Republican Ideas in Health Care Bill

In a letter to congressional leaders, President Obama said he wants to incorporate Republican ideas on medical malpractice reform and trying to rid the health care system of waste and abuse in a revised proposal for health care reform.

Read more…

Spinning Health Care Reform

The Hotline: “As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi searches for votes and the WH hunts for compromises on health care reform, party strategists on both sides remain convinced that a legislative overhaul will pass. Quietly, both parties are preparing talking points to define the final product on their own terms.”

Romney Ready to Begin Book Tour

Mitt Romney’s long-awaited book, No Apologies: The Case for American Greatness, is out tomorrow.

Romney kicks off publicity for the book with appearances on NBC’s Today ShowABC’s The View, Fox’s Sean Hannity, and CBS’s Late Show with David Letterman.

His book signing tour takes him to each his three “home states” — Massachusetts, Michigan and Utah — as well as the early presidential contest states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Chafee Leading in Rhode Island

A new Rasmussen survey in Rhode Island finds Lincoln Chafee (I) leading the field for governor.

Chafee leads with 38%, followed by Patrick Lynch (D) at 24% and John Robitaille (R) at 22%.

With Frank Caprio (D) as the Democratic nominee, it’s Chafee in front with 37%, followed by Caprio at 27% and Robitaille at 19%.

Most Don’t Want Paterson to Quit

In the wake of a political scandal that ended New York Gov. David Paterson’s campaign, a new Marist Poll finds 66% of registered voters in the state say they want him to finish out his term in office. Only 28% are calling for Paterson’s resignation and 6% are unsure.

Of course, the poll was taken before last night’s blockbuster story that said Paterson improperly intervened in an assault case involving a close aide.

Good Not to be from Washington, DC

Just a year ago, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) held a 25 point lead over Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Now the only question seems to be whether Hutchison can keep Perry under 50% to force a run off.

Tom Jensen: “Hutchison’s fall shows the perils of being a Washington politician in 2010, and Democrats are lucky to have two open Senate races this year in Missouri and Ohio where they have a candidate who’s been successful in state government running against a Republican who’s a consummate Washington insider. Roy Blunt and Rob Portman have the early poll leads but it could be a very different story come November once their roles in the Washington culture that voters despise have been fully communicated.”

Quote of the Day

“I have great interest in who the president is going to be in 2012. It won’t be me. I have no interest in going to Washington, D.C.”

— Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), quoted by the Texas Tribune, denying any interest in a White House bid.

Health Care Reform by Easter Recess

Ben Smith points to a Democratic memo suggesting a possible timeline for the health care bill:

“Step one: The House passes the Senate’s health reform bill by March 19. The bill then goes to the president for signature without going through conference….After the Senate bill becomes law, the House then amends the Senate bill through a reconciliation bill, to be passed by March 21. That bill would be the only opportunity to amend, add or strike provisions in the Senate bill. Step three: The Senate begins debate on the reconciliation bill by March 23. Debate is limited to 30 hours. Votes begin March 26, the first day of Easter recess.”

Does Ford’s Exit Mean Zuckerman Will Run?

Politico notes Harold Ford’s departure from the U.S. Senate race in New York signals just how serious Mort Zuckerman is about making the race.

“Zuckerman, who parlayed a fortune in real estate into a mixed bag of media holdings and a prominent role in American Jewish life, has been encouraged by the reaction to the trial balloon he floated a few weeks ago in The New York Times… And he seems to have shut down the former Tennessee Congressman’s attempt to enter New York politics before it ever got off the ground.”

Said one New York Democrat: “A lot of donors were telling [Ford] that if Mort ran, they would be with Mort.”

Is Obama Still Listening to Rahm?

The Washington Post today runs a front-page story suggesting that White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and other top White House advisers don’t agree on basic strategy.

“In the search for what has gone wrong, influential Democrats are — in unusually frank terms — blaming Obama and his closest campaign aides for not listening to Emanuel.”

First Read: “Of course, internal dissent can be a good thing. But what may irritate the president and the campaign-era brain trust is what this Post story implies: Rahm shared his personal dissent on KSM and health care with others outside “the family.” Remember, we never saw these types of stories about Team Obama during the presidential campaign; it was something we expected from Teams Clinton and McCain. Then again, Rahm was never part of that Obama campaign team; he cut his teeth in the Clinton era, when that president seemed to handle or even embrace the public dissent. What the president and other White House staffers might find particularly frustrating is that — regardless whether this perception is true or not — they can’t make a chief of staff change right now. Emanuel is too important in getting health-care done.”

Bunning Complicates Republican Strategy

Sen. Jim Bunning’s (R-KY) “unilateral decision to block an extension of federally funded unemployment benefits and other popular provisions has united Democrats and sent Republicans hiding from the political backlash,” Politico reports.

“Making matters worse for the GOP: Bunning is opposing the $10 billion aid package on the grounds that it isn’t paid for — effectively forcing his Republican colleagues to join him or risk undercutting their own efforts to make Democrats’ deficit spending a centerpiece of their 2010 campaign.”

Brown to Officially Announce Bid Today

California Attorney General Jerry Brown (D) “is expected to formally announce Tuesday morning that he is running for governor, a job he last held nearly three decades ago,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

Brown, “who faces no serious primary election opposition, is expected to make his announcement online” at around 11 a.m. via his website.

“Brown spent eight years as California’s governor, from 1975 until 1983, but is eligible to hold the office again because today’s two-term limit was not in effect when he first occupied the Capitol.”

Specter Pushes Ahead of Toomey

A new Quinnipiac poll in Pennsylvania finds Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) has retaken the lead over challenger Pat Toomey (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 49% to 42%.

In the Democratic primary, Specter is crushing challenger Joe Sestak (D), 53% to 29%.

Said pollster Peter Brown: “Sen. Arlen Specter seems to be having a good winter politically. He is back ahead of Republican Pat Toomey after having been essentially tied with him since last summer, and there remains no evidence that his primary challenger, Congressman Joe Sestak, has made much progress as we get within three months of the May primary.”

Primary Day in Texas

Texas voters head to the polls today and the race most watched is the Republican gubernatorial primary between Gov. Rick Perry (R), Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) and Debra Medina (R).

The Dallas Morning News notes the “unprecedented battle between the two-term governor and three-term senator has stretched more than a year and consumed tens of millions of dollars. But for all the TV ads and attacks on each other, the dynamic appears little changed in months. Perry, riding a wave of anti-Washington sentiment, appears to have a comfortable lead, while Hutchison is trying to keep her bid alive for a few more weeks with a runoff.”

At one point Medina “appeared to be battling Hutchison for second place but may have slipped in recent days because of a lack of money for television ads and a failure to quickly disavow a possible government conspiracy in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.”

Austin American Statesman: “If early voting in the state’s big counties was any indication, turnout for today’s election will be high. About 306,000 people voted early in the Republican primary this year in the state’s 15 largest counties, more than doubling early vote turnout in those counties compared with the 2006 Republican primary for governor.”

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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