POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 4/13

Huckabee on Tape

The students at The College of New Jersey who interviewed Mike Huckabee yesterday defended their report that the former presidential candidate compared same sex marriage to drug abuse, incest and polygamy — and they released audioto rebut Huckabee’s complaints that his comments were misquoted or taken out of context.

Palin Contract Found in Trash

California State University students found a portion of Sarah Palin’s confidential speaking contract in a dumpster, the AP reports.

While Palin will not be paid for her appearance at the university, the contract does require “round-trip, first-class airfare for two, a suite and two rooms at a deluxe hotel and transportation via SUVs or black town cars. It also requires that Palin’s lectern be stocked with water bottles and bendable straws.”

Americans Down on Republicans

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds that just 28% of voters across the country say they approve of the current direction of the Republican Party with 51% disapproving.

Among voters who identify with the party, just 54% say they like where it’s headed.

The fact that the party is still likely to do well in the 2010 midterms speaks to the bad mood of the country and the poor view of the Democratic leadership.

Bloomberg Seen as Best New York City Mayor

A new Marist Poll finds 38% of New Yorkers think Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the most effective New York City mayor in three decades. Rudy Giuliani takes second place with 31%, Ed Koch was third at 15% and David Dinkins came in at just 9%.

Democrats Retake Lead in Generic Ballot

A new CNN/Opinion Research poll shows Democrats actually retaking the lead over Republicans in the generic congressional ballot by four points, 50% to 46%.

Two weeks ago, the same survey found Republicans leading by four points.

Gallup survey released earlier today showed the opposite trend.

Was Obama Really at a Soccer Game?

American Thinker doesn’t buy the story that President Obama ditched the press corps to attend his daughter’s soccer game on Saturday.

The reason? There wasn’t a soccer game scheduled.

Democrats Still Undecided About Burr Challenger

A new Public Policy Polling survey in North Carolina finds Elaine Marshall (D) leading the Democratic race to challenge Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) this fall.

Marshall leads with 23%, followed by Cal Cunningham (D) at 17% and Kenneth Lewis at 9%. However, there are still 45% undecided so it’s too early to count anyone out yet.

Troubling Picture of Massa’s Office Emerges

Internal documents provided to the Washington Post show that just three months after Eric Massa (D) was elected to Congress, “his young male employees on Capitol Hill began complaining to supervisors that the lawmaker was making aggressive, sexual overtures toward them.”

“Beginning in March 2009 and over the next several months, male staffers complained that their boss had touched them in a sexual manner, came up with reasons to have staffers travel alone with him on overnight trips, and expressed a desire to have sex with the men in the office.”

The Short List

NBC News reports there are now eight people on President Obama’s short list to fill the upcoming vacancy on the Supreme Court — six women, two men.

The names: U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Diane Wood of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Merrick Garland of the DC Court of Appeals, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Judge Leah Ward Sears, Sidney Thomas of the 9th Circuit, and Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow.

“Of these names, people outside the government but familiar with White House thinking say the serious contenders are Kagan, Wood, Garland, Napolitano, and Granholm… Many of the new additions are about interest group appeasement.”

Americans Fail Politics Quiz

On a 12 question political news quiz, Pew Research found that the average American answered just 5.3 questions correctly.

Lieberman Glad Momentum is with Republicans

Even though he caucuses with the Democrats, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) told Newsmax he is happy the political momentum has shifted to Republicans.

Said Lieberman: “There were a lot of people, particularly Democrats, who were declaring after the 2008 election that we were beginning a period of Democratic dominance that would go on for decades. Now, all of a sudden, the momentum is with the Republicans. And that’s — thank God — that’s the way people have spoken, you know? That’s our democracy.”

Lieberman also suggested he’s likely to run for re-election as an independent in 2012.

Republicans Lead in Generic Ballot

The latest Gallup poll shows Republicans slightly ahead of Democrats in the generic congressional ballot among registered voters, 48% to 44%.

The results — when based on likely voters shortly before Election Day — have proved, historically, to be a highly accurate predictor of the national two-party vote. Though Gallup will not formally  begin identifying likely voters until later this year, their early polling suggests Republicans are much more likely to vote this year than Democrats.

Book Reveals Interviews with Jacqueline Kennedy

Nearly seven hours of previously unreleased interviews with Jacqueline Kennedy, recorded just months after the death of President John F. Kennedy, will be released as a book, the New York Times reports.

Caroline Kennedy is editing the book, which is planned for publication in September 2011.

Palin Pulls in Big Money

When Sarah Palin stepped down as Alaska governor last summer, I suggested she made a simple calculation: She had perhaps a 5% chance of being elected President of the United States but a 100% chance she could make $25 million.

ABC News reports she’s more than halfway there.

“Since leaving office at the end of July 2009, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee has brought in at least 100 times her old salary — a haul now estimated at more than $12 million — through television and book deals and a heavy schedule of speaking appearances worth five and six figures.”

In fact, the actual number “is probably much higher, but is hard to quantify because Palin does not publicize her earnings, and has managed to keep a lid on reliable figures for her earnings from a multi-year contract with Fox News and a second book deal with HarperCollins.”

Cuomo is His Own Image Man

“In a way that is rare in an age of publicists, communications staff members and strategists,” the New York Times notes that New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) “is his own image shaper, relentlessly working the news media in a way that is unseen by the public and that is challenging for those trying to pin him down on any issue. His approach, and success at attracting favorable coverage, is about to be tested in coming weeks, as he announces his campaign for governor and confronts tougher scrutiny from an increasingly frustrated press corps.”

Gibbs Eyeing New Post?

The Washington Post runs an interesting profile of White House press secretary Robert Gibbs noting that he “is considered, along with Obama’s presidential campaign manager, David Plouffe, a top candidate to take the place of senior strategist David Axelrod when the Washington-weary keeper of the Obama message leaves to focus on the 2012 reelection.”

However, that “isn’t happening anytime soon, which means Gibbs is stuck on double duty.”

Special Election Today in Florida

Voters head to the polls today in Florida’s 19th congressional district to pick a replacement for former Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL), who resigned in January to lead a Middle East think tank.

Ted Deutch (D), who has Wexler’s endorsement and is favored, faces Ed Lynch (R).

The AP notes Lynch hopes to make the election a referendum on President Obama’s health care reform bill “in a district where seniors make up about 40 percent of the electorate. Lynch says they’re dissatisfied with the bill, but Deutch says it brings immediate relief.”

Spitzer’s Call Girl Bares All

“Ashley Dupre has gone from call girl to cover girl,” the New York Daily News reports.

“Dupre, the woman who’s best known as Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s former high-priced call girl, graces the cover of the May issue of Playboy magazine, due to hit newsstands April 16.”

Said Dupre: “Some people call me the girl who brought down the governor of New York, but in reality he brought me down. I was an escort. As much as I wish I could make that go away, I can’t.”

Quote of the Day

“You don’t go ahead and accommodate every behavioral pattern that is against the ideal…That would be like saying, well, there are a lot of people who like to use drugs, so let’s go ahead and accommodate those who want to use drugs. There are some people who believe in incest, so we should accommodate them. There are people who believe in polygamy, so we should accommodate them.”

— Mike Huckabee, in an interview with The Perspective, a student publication at The College of New Jersey, explaining his opposition to same-sex marriage.

Cuomo Crushes Little Known Republicans

A new Quinnipiac poll in New York finds Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) has a 74% job approval rating and commanding leads of 2-1 or more against the little-known Republican contenders in the gubernatorial race.

Cuomo beats Rick Lazio (R), 55% to 26%, tops Carl Paladino (R), 60% to 24%, and beats Steve Levy (R), 57% to 24%. In each matchup, Cuomo gets at least 80% of the Democratic vote, plus 20% or more of the Republican vote and 50% or more of the independent vote.

Pataki Seems to be Gillibrand’s Last Threat

A new Quinnipiac poll in New York finds that if former Gov. George Pataki (R) jumps into the U.S. Senate race, he would beat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D), 45% to 40%.

Gillibrand beats the only announced Republican candidate, Bruce Blakeman (R), 47% to 25%.

Notes pollster Maurice Carroll: “The threat to Gillibrand always has been from the Democratic left, but that seems to have evaporated. On the Republican side, former Gov. George Pataki could give her a run. IF he decides to run, that is.”

Gillibrand now has a 47% job approval rating — her highest score since she was appopinted Senator last year.

Stern to Resign from SEIU

Ben Smith breaks the news that Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern, a prominent labor leader and a key player in the Democratic party, will resign from the organization he helped build after 14 years at the helm.

The news came as a shock to many, though those close to Stern “had expected him to resign during the first term of the president he helped elect, and after the achievement he’d spent years focusing on, widening access to health care.”

Oklahoma Lawmakers Envision Tea Party Militia

“Frustrated by recent political setbacks, tea party leaders and some conservative members of the Oklahoma Legislature say they would like to create a new volunteer militia to help defend against what they believe are improper federal infringements on state sovereignty,” the AP reports.

“Tea party movement leaders say they’ve discussed the idea with several supportive lawmakers and hope to get legislation next year to recognize a new volunteer force.”

Has the Budget Deficit Peaked?

“The federal deficit is running significantly lower than it did last year, with the budget gap for the first half of fiscal 2010 down 8 percent over the same period a year ago,” the Washington Post reports.

“The officials attributed the results to higher tax revenue and to lower spending than projected on bailing out the financial system. If the trend continues for the rest of the year, it would mean the annual deficit would be $1.3 trillion — about $300 billion less than the administration’s projection two months ago for 2010.”

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