POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 5/17

The Dick Morris Battle Plan

2010: Take Back America by political consultant Dick Morris and his wife, Eileen McGann, breaks in on the New York Times political bestseller list this month.

The authors “point out the targets — the incumbent Democrats who are most vulnerable. They identify the races we must win and offer ammunition to do so. They examine the records of Harry Reid, Blanche Lincoln, Arlen Specter, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Barbara Boxer — the key incumbent targets for 2010. And they tell you all the secrets these incumbents hope you won’t find out.”

Backchannel to Murdoch

Ben Smith has another good nugget from Jonathan Alter’s The Promise noting that even as the White House “waged war” on Fox News last fall, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel “kept a backchannel open to News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch, telling him the White House “welcomed his ideas.”

“The goal of the calls: To maintain warm relations with the Wall Street Journal.”

White House Bracing for Specter Loss

We noted earlier that President Obama declined over the weekend to make a last minute campaign appearance for Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) in his tough primary fight against Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA).

In an interview with WKYW-TV, CBS News anchor Bob Schieffer said, “I have been told on background that the White House is preparing for a Specter loss here, and that the president doesn’t want to be associated with that.”

Greg Sargent: “I’ve also learned that Veep Joe Biden will not be doing any campaign events for Specter in the final stretch, though it’s not immediately clear how significant this is. Last week Biden said he’d be doing events for Specter ‘as needed.'”

However, an unnamed senior White House aide tells the Daily Beast, that Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell “says Specter will win and win comfortably. And I never bet against Rendell.”

Rubio Regains Lead in Florida Senate Race

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (I) received a bounce in the polls when he left the Republican Party to run for the U.S. Senate as an independent. But a newRasmussen survey suggests the bounce is over.

Marco Rubio leads the Senate race with 39%, followed by Crist at 31% and Rep. Kendrick Meek at 18%. Twelve percent are undecided.

Just two weeks ago, Crist held a four point lead over Rubio.

Perry Holds Double-Digit Lead in Texas

While many thought Texas might have a competitive race for governor this year, a new Ramussen survey suggests Gov. Rick Perry (R) is in good shape as he seeks a third term.

Perry leads challenger Bill White (D) by 13 points, 51% to 38%.

Inside Obama’s War Room

“It may be hard to find an optimist inside the West Wing about the Democrats’ chances in November’s midterm elections,” the Daily Beast reports.

“But there is a growing consensus among Obama’s senior staff that the best strategy for the fall is to argue Republicans should be just as worried as the Democrats are.”

Said one senior Obama aide: “I think a lot of it is going to be hand-to-hand combat. It’s a weird environment. The real divide isn’t between Republicans and Democrats. It’s America and Washington. This is a continuation of the last election. But as the party in power, we are more vulnerable.”

Giuliani Wants to be a Player in 2012

Rudy Giuliani (R) is making a trip to New Hampshire next month and Politico notes it “leaves little doubt that he wants to be in the national mix. What’s less clear is what Giuliani is looking for in his next act.”

Said former adviser Fred Siegel: “He wants to be part of the game in 2012. As a presidential candidate? Not necessarily.”

Giannoulias Claims He’s Back in the Race

An internal poll in Illinois released by Alexi Giannoulias (D) shows him even with Republican U.S. Senate rival Mark Kirk (R), 44% to 44%, “making up for ground lost after the failure of the Giannoulias family-owned Broadway Bank.”

Two weeks ago, the campaign’s internal numbers found Kirk leading by six points, 43% to 37%.

Kagan Filibuster Not Likely

Senate Republicans are unlikely to filibuster Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, “but they do plan to pepper her with tough questions about her legal positions, policies and practices during her upcoming confirmation hearings,” the AP reports.

Said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ): “The filibuster should be relegated to the extreme circumstances, and I don’t think Elena Kagan represents that.”

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe notes that if Kagan is confirmed, President Obama “will have something that has become increasingly rare for presidents: a personal friend on the court.”

“Indeed, when Obama introduced Kagan at the White House as his court nominee, it sounded almost as if he were talking about himself: a former Chicago law professor, Harvard graduate, and White Sox fan who eschewed the lucrative world of corporate law to focus on academia and public service.”

No Final Visit From Obama

First Read: “It’s worth noting, by the way, that the Specter campaign was indeed hoping for a last-minute visit by the president to help fire up base voters. It didn’t happen. And to add insult to injury, the president is traveling tomorrow, on Election Day, and he’s literally FLYING OVER Pennsylvania to stump in Youngstown, OH, a town JUST ACROSS the border.”

Final Vote Coming on Financial Reform Bill

Senate Democrats hope to win approval this week of major legislation enacting new rules for the financial industry, the New York Times reports.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) could move as early as today “to end debate on the proposed overhaul of regulations governing Wall Street and the banking industry, setting up a mid-week showdown on finishing the measure.”

The Washington Post notes the bill “largely reflects the administration’s initial blueprint, despite the fervent efforts of lobbyists and lawmakers of all stripes to alter it.”

From the administration’s viewpoint, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said, “this bill has got to be an out-of-the-park home run.”

Politico: “The Wall Street reform bill is taking that rarest of paths through the Senate — actually gaining tougher provisions against the industry as it proceeds, not being watered down to win votes as health care reform was. And that’s put Republicans in a difficult spot. They like the bill less with each passing day but know they risk looking like they’re siding with Wall Street if they vote no.”

Best Political Ad Yet?

Dale Peterson (R), running for the GOP nomination for Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture, has one of the more memorable political ads of recent years.

It’s today’s must-watch video.

Read more…

Down to the Wire in Pennsylvania

A new Quinnipiac poll in Pennsylvania finds Rep. Joe Sestak (D) barely edging Sen. Arlen Specter (D) by one point in the Democratic Senate primary, 42% to 41%.

With 16% undecided and 25% of those who do back a candidate saying they might change their mind, the race is too close to call.

Last week’s Q-Poll had Specter with a two point lead.

Quote of the Day

“You can win an election on screaming and anger but you cannot hold and govern for a significant period of time on screaming and anger.”

— Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT), in an interview with ABC News, on being defeated for the Republican Senate nomination in Utah last week.

Democrats Retake Lead in Congressional Ballot

A new Associated Press-GfK poll shows Democrats now leading the generic congressional ballot, 45% to 40%, a reversal from last month when Republicans led by three points.

“The new readout came as the economy continued showing signs of improvement and the tumultuous battle over the health care law that President Obama finally signed in March faded into the background.”

Congressional Democrats approval is at just 37%, however, Republicans are rated even lower at 31%. Just 36% want their own member of Congress re-election this fall.

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