POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 7/26

Quote of the Day – 3

“The idea of dragging home pork is an old-school measurement of a senator. And right now, with Republicans and Democrats alike doing that, it’s bankrupting America. There’s nothing in the Constitution that says the job of a senator is bringing home pork.”

— Washington U.S. Senate candidate Dino Rossi (R), quoted by the Associated Press.

Boehner Warns of Unseemly Behavior

“Washington is abuzz with rumors of late-night partying and of House Republicans inappropriately hanging out with female lobbyists,” Roll Call notes.

“But not everyone was taken by surprise. Minority Leader John Boehner has been working behind the scenes to address the issue for at least the past year and a half. The Ohio Republican has had private conversations with several lawmakers asking them to curb their inappropriate behavior.”

New York Post: “While there’s no evidence of anything more than friendly flirtatious behavior, the lawmakers have been told to keep partying to a minimum in this midterm election year.”

Will Democrats Abandon Rangel?

Democratic insiders “predict that many top New York Democrats will abandon embattled Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) if the veteran lawmaker doesn’t admit to several ethics violations before the charges against him are outlined on Thursday,” according to the New York Post.

“Similarly, national Democrats are keeping arm’s length from Rangel.”

First Read: “Speaking of distractions, the ethical clouds hovering over Charlie Rangel also aren’t pleasant news for Democrats. But is it harder for Republicans to push this story after Democrats already took away Rangel’s Ways and Means gavel? That’s almost as big as getting kicked out of office — and arguably for Rangel, maybe even bigger.”

Reid Puts Senate into Campaign Mode

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) moves the Senate into campaign mode this week, bringing a mix of bills to the floor designed to highlight differences with the GOP while providing chances for some legislative accomplishments, CQ Politicsreports.

With just three and a half months before the midterm elections, Reid’s strategy appears to be as simple as it is traditional: Use much of the remaining legislative calendar to pursue “message bills” like energy and campaign finance reform, while mixing in just enough doable measures (like a small business jobs bill) to pad Democrats’ stats before the November elections.

Buck Caught Criticizing Tea Party

Colorado U.S. Senate hopeful Ken Buck (R) was caught on tape by a Democratic operative referring to Tea Party supporters as “dumbasses,” the Denver Postreports.

Said Buck: “Will you tell those dumbasses at the Tea Party to stop asking questions about birth certificates while I’m on the camera?”

Buck has positioned himself as the Tea Party candidate, and later said if he had it to do over again, he would not use the negative language.

Obama to Appear on “The View”

President Obama will become the first sitting president to visit a daytime TV talk show when he tapes an interview on Wednesday with ABC’s The View.

However, Obama has appeared on the show twice before: Once as a presidential candidate in 2008 and promoting his book, Dreams of My Father, in 2004.

Republicans Embrace “Party of No” Strategy

The Washington Post notes that even though Republicans “quickly abandoned” Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) in February when he attempted to block an extension of unemployment benefits, they rallied around the same cause this month.

And the barrage of “no” votes from the GOP has not abated. Republicans are nearly unanimous against nearly every legislative initiative brought up by Democrats.

“Republicans say polls suggest that they can oppose all of these initiatives by casting them into a broader critique of Democrats increasing the size of government and the budget deficit, even if their bills are individually popular with the public.”

Said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK): “We’re very comfortable where we’re at; we have very few members who feel endangered. We feel like we are reflecting a broader mood of dissatisfaction. Right now, the American people want us saying no.”

Military Documents Paint Grim Picture of Afghan War

“Americans fighting the war in Afghanistan have long harbored strong suspicions that Pakistan’s military spy service has guided the Afghan insurgency with a hidden hand, even as Pakistan receives more than $1 billion a year from Washington for its help combating the militants,” the New York Times reports.

The documents, made available on WikiLeaks, “suggest that Pakistan, an ostensible ally of the United States, allows representatives of its spy service to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders.”

“Taken together, the reports indicate that American soldiers on the ground are inundated with accounts of a network of Pakistani assets and collaborators that runs from the Pakistani tribal belt along the Afghan border, through southern Afghanistan, and all the way to the capital, Kabul.”

Glenn Greenwald: “The White House has swiftly vowed to continue the war and predictably condemned WikiLeaks rather harshly. It will be most interesting to see how many Democrats — who claim to find Daniel Ellsberg heroic and the Pentagon Papers leak to be unambiguously justified — follow the White House’s lead in that regard.”

Fallin, Edmondson Lead in Oklahoma

A new Oklahoma Poll finds Mary Fallin (R) leading Randy Brogdon (R) in Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary by 38 points, 56% to 18%.

In the Democratic primary, Drew Edmondson (D) leads Lt. Gov. Jari Askins (D), 49% to 33%.

The primary is on Tuesday.

Quote of the Day – 2

“They desperately need some intellectual leadership, and whatever you think of Newt Gingrich, he can supply intellectual leadership. So I hope he does run.”

— Former DNC Chairman Howard Dean, in an interview on Fox News.

Showdown on Taxes

President Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress “are setting the stage for a high-stakes battle over taxes in the final weeks before the November congressional elections, betting that their plan to eliminate tax breaks for the wealthy will resonate with voters who have lost houses and jobs to what many see as an era of Wall Street greed,” the Washington Post reports.

“Raising taxes is usually a perilous move. But Democrats, facing the potential loss of their majorities on Capitol Hill, believe that the strategy will both force Republicans to defend tax breaks for a tiny, wealthy minority and expose GOP hypocrisy on budget deficits.”

The Most Conservative Court in Decades

In the five years under Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court “not only moved to the right but also became the most conservative one in living memory, based on an analysis of four sets of political science data,” the New York Timesreports.

“If the Roberts court continues on the course suggested by its first five years, it is likely to allow a greater role for religion in public life, to permit more participation by unions and corporations in elections and to elaborate further on the scope of the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. Abortion rights are likely to be curtailed, as are affirmative action and protections for people accused of crimes.”

Haslam Leads GOP Field in Tennessee

A new Mason-Dixon poll in Tennessee finds Bill Haslam (R) leads his rivals for the Republican nomination for governor by double digits with 36%, followed by Rep. Zach Wamp (R) at 25%, Ron Ramsey (R) at 20% and another 17% still undecided.

The primary is on August 5.

Coburn Turns Over Emails in Ensign Probe

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has handed over e-mails to authorities investigating criminal misconduct allegations against Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), the Las Vegas Review Journal reports.

“Coburn was a former roommate with Ensign at a Christian group house on Capitol Hill and served as an intermediary for a period in 2008 between the Nevada Republican and Doug Hampton, the husband of Ensign’s mistress at the time… Coburn’s cooperation is the latest sign that the Justice Department’s Office of Public Integrity is moving forward with the investigation, which has darkened Ensign’s reputation and raised questions about his political future.”

Blunt Holds Lead in Missouri

A new St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Mason-Dixon poll in Missouri finds Roy Blunt (R) leading Robin Carnahan (D) in the race for U.S. Senate, 48% to 42%.

Carnahan leads in the more populated St. Louis and Kansas City areas, which tend to vote Democratic. But Blunt leads every other region of the state by a healthy margin.

Said pollster Brad Coker: “Outside of the metro areas, he’s killing her.”

Quote of the Day -1

“Unfortunately, I think some, and I hate to say this, but some want Obama to fail, period. And unfortunately, Obama’s failure would be the country’s failure. In a way, some of them are rooting against the country. They want political power.”

— Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), in an interview with the Washington Post, on the Republican opposition.

Wamp Talks of Secession

Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN) suggested Tennessee and other states “may have to consider seceding from the union if the federal government does not change its ways regarding mandates,” The Hotline reports.

Said Wamp: “I hope that the American people will go to the ballot box in 2010 and 2012 so that states are not forced to consider separation from this government.”

He went on to praise Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) who suggested the same remedy last year.

Vitter Says He’s Way Ahead

Soon after Rep. Charlie Melancon (D) released an internal poll showing he wasdeadlocked with Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) in their  U.S. Senate race, Republicans released their own poll showing Vitter with a 17 point lead, 48% to 31%.

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