Sarah Palin Reality Check

Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of Sarah Palin’s announcement that she would quit in the middle of her first term as Alaska governor. The AP notes she’s since “evolved into an enduring political personality writ large — and now the talk, growing louder, is of her own run for the White House in 2012.”

First Read: “But here’s the political reality: Outside of Republicans, she’s not popular at all. According to ourNBC/WSJ poll, just 29% view her favorably, compared with 43% who view her unfavorably (not far from George W. Bush’s 29%-50% score). In addition, the poll shows that 52% have problems with a candidate who has been endorsed by Palin, versus only 25% who are comfortable with that attribute. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Palin is more of a political celebrity than a political figure.”
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White House Releases Staff Salaries

The White House released salary data for White House employees which ranged from $0 for three aides to $172,200 for the most senior officials.

See more…

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Unemployment Rate Drops to 9.5%

Even though the economy lost 125,000 jobs last month — mainly because U.S. Census workers lost their temporary jobs — the national unemployment rate dropped to 9.5%. The private sector added 83,000 jobs last month.

Let the spinning begin…
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Republican Enthusiasm Hits Record High

A new Pew Research poll finds Republicans “are much more engaged in the coming election and more inclined to say they are certain to vote than are Democrats. This could translate into a sizable turnout advantage for the GOP in November that could transform an even race among registered voters into a solid victory for the Republicans.”

“Fully 56% of Republican voters say they are more enthusiastic about voting this year than in previous elections — the highest percentage of GOP voters expressing increased enthusiasm about voting in midterms dating back to 1994… The Republican Party now holds about the same advantage in enthusiasm among its party’s voters that the Democratic Party held in June 2006 and the GOP had late in the 1994 campaign.”

Quote of the Day

“I think the prospect of a Republican takeover — while not likely, but plausible — will be very much part of the dynamic in October, and I think that will help us with turnout and some of this enthusiasm gap.”

— David Plouffe, quoted by the Washington Post, in a must-read story on the Democratic midterm election strategy.
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Skip the August Recess?

Democratic strategist Robert Shrum says that instead of heading home to campaign Democrats should keep Congress in session this August to highlight their differences with the Republicans on jobless benefits, financial reform and energy policy.

“As they face the midterms, Democrats and the President plainly need something more than rallies, emails, fundraising appeals and television ads. Perhaps the best way out of the political swamp that threatens them would be staying in the Washington swamp this August. It also has the additional virtue, often rare in election year politics, of being right on the merits.”
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Harsh Words Can Pull in Campaign Cash

USA Today notes that of the top 10 fundraisers for House seats this election season, three have come under fire for their controversial comments, including Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).
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Who are the Tea Partiers?

USA Today/Gallup poll finds that three of 10 Americans describe themselves as Tea Party supporters — equal to the number who call themselves Republicans — “though many of them acknowledge they aren’t exactly sure what that allegiance means.”

In fact, the Tea Party “is less a classic political movement than a frustrated state of mind.”

“What unites Tea Party supporters is less their geography or demography than their policy views: a firm conviction that the federal government has gotten too big and too powerful and a fear that the nation faces great peril. Nine in 10 are unhappy with the country’s direction and see the federal debt as an ominous threat to its future. Almost as many say neither President Obama nor most members of Congress deserve re-election.”

Cantwell Will Support Bank Reform Bill

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) announced that “she will switch her position on a major financial regulatory overhaul and help her party get to the filibuster-proof majority needed to advance it,” Roll Call reports.

Politico: “With the addition of Cantwell and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Democrats are just two votes shy of the 60 they need to move the bill forward – presuming the senator chosen to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) also is a “yes” vote.”

All eyes are now on Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA).
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Waiting for the Bad Jobs Number

Marc Ambinder: “The White House is girding itself for the release of May employment figures, which will show a relative paucity of private sector jobs created. In a way, the impact of this number has been blunted by expectation-setting and headlines that suggest the recovery might be fizzling. There will be a vigorous presidential response designed to show how engaged the president is. Reporters have been given a 12:01 a.m. embargo regarding its contents, but suffice it to say, it’s a little like putting lipstick on a … bad jobs number.”

However, David Leonhardt notes that whatever number is released tomorrow morning “it’s worth keeping something in mind: The official government statistics are probably understating job growth right now.”
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Bonus Quote of the Day

“We don’t have a lot of Reagan-type leaders in our party. Remember Ronald Reagan Democrats? I want a Republican that can attract Democrats. Ronald Reagan would have a hard time getting elected as a Republican today.”

— Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), in an interview with the New York Times Magazine, in which he also said the Tea Party is “just unsustainable” and “will die out.”
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Romney Spends in New Hampshire

John DiStaso reports Mitt Romney gave $35,000 to the New Hampshire Republican party in recent days making party chairman John Sununu “extremely grateful.”

Romney continues to spend freely in other states that will vote early in the 2012 Republican presidential campaign, “notably sending $42,000 to Nikki Haley in South Carolina and $10,000 to Terry Branstad in Iowa.”
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Blagojevich Spent Lavishly on Clothes

More from the corruption trial: Daniel Libit reports Rod and Patti Blagojevich spent $400,000 in clothing expenses between 2002 and 2008.

The AP reports prosecutors “are plainly suggesting that the staggering mound of debt facing the impeached Illinois governor and his wife could explain his alleged plan to get a Cabinet post or high-paying labor union or foundation job in exchange for filling the U.S. Senate seat Barack Obama was leaving to become president.”

Huckabee to Host New Talk Show

Twentieth Television will test a six-week preview of The Huckabee Show on the Fox Television Stations in seven markets, including New York, Dallas and Boston, reportsTV News Check.

Huckabee will continue to host his Fox News weekend program, Huckabee.

New York Times: “There has been speculation that Mr. Huckabee’s weekend show on Fox was a test for a bigger television presence. He started the show in the fall of 2008 after an unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination.”

However, with television shows to do six days a week — if it works out — it’s hard to see how he’ll run for president in 2012.
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October Surprise in Florida?

As if Florida’s U.S. Senate race couldn’t get more interesting, the St. Petersburg Times reports a judge set an October trial date for Jim Greer, the ousted former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida who was handpicked by Gov. Charlie Crist.

First Read notes the trial will begin just two weeks before Election Day setting up a possible October Surprise if damaging information comes out in testimony.
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Tight Race for Oregon Governor

A new Magellan Strategies poll in Oregon shows a very close race for governor with Chris Dudley (R) just edging John Kitzhaber (D), 41% to 40%.
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Nelson Will Run for Re-Election

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) told KLIN-AM this morning that he will run for re-election in 2012.

Said Nelson: “I’m raising money and at this point in time I think I’d have to say that I’m going to run.”
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December Could be the Busiest Political Month

Mark Halperin: “Several of Washington’s key debates are stacking up like reindeer over O’Hare during the winter holiday rush. December is the month President Obama is expecting to get the results of a crucial review of the war in Afghanistan and a report from a blue-ribbon commission on deficit reduction, two issues vexing enough that the deadlines were deliberately kicked past November’s elections. White House staffers will be writing both a budget and a State of the Union address that will set the tone for the second half of Obama’s term. And whether or not they maintain their majorities, Democrats on Capitol Hill will be dealing with reverberations from dozens of midterm contests.”
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Lawsuit Filed Against Pollster

Greg Sargent has a copy of the lawsuit that DailyKos just filed against Research 2000 and notes “this is going to get nastier than you thought.”
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Lamest Spy Story Ever?

Daniel Drezner: “There are many things that confuse me in life — Manhattan parking rituals, the proliferation of rotaries in Massachusetts, the appeal of most reality television, and so forth. I think I’m going to have to add the Russian spy ring to this list… Seriously, this story is the most bizarre foreign policy/international relations episode I’ve seen since the Sandy-Berger-let’s-stuff–classified-documents-down-my-pants episode.”
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Rove Group Bounces Back with Big Month

After an embarrassing report that they had raised just $200 in May, the new political group started by Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie “had its first big fundraising month in June, raising millions and also spawning a new partner outfit,” reports Politico.

American Crossroads combined with a newer offshoot called American Crossroads GPS to pull in nearly $8.5 million in last month.

The new GPS division “was incorporated about four weeks ago under section 501(c)4 of the IRS code. That section of the code requires far less disclosure and allows groups to withhold information on individual donors” which a spokesman “conceded was appealing for some of GPS’s donors.”
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Hitchens Has Cancer

Writer Christopher Hitchens announced that he is being treated for esophagus cancer after abruptly canceling the remainder of his book tour promoting his well-received memoir, Hitch-22.

Vanity Fair has his statement: “I have been advised by my physician that I must undergo a course of chemotherapy on my esophagus. This advice seems persuasive to me. I regret having had to cancel so many engagements at such short notice.”
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No Plans to Change Law for Byrd’s Replacement

Speculation that West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D) “will call a special session to correct a discrepancy in state election law, in order to allow a special election this fall for Robert C. Byrd’s U.S. Senate seat, is apparently just that — speculation,” theCharleston Gazette reports.

Manchin has said he will wait until after Byrd’s funeral to appoint a successor.

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