POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 8/2

Bonus Quote of the Day

“This is going to result in the largest tax increase in U.S. history and again it’s idiotic. My palm isn’t large enough to write all my notes down on what this tax increase will result in.”

— Sarah Palin, in an interview on Fox News Sunday, referencing words written on her hand with a black marker.

Bennet’s Poll Shows Him with Small Lead

An internal poll from Sen. Michael Bennet (D) finds him leading challenger Andrew Romanoff (D) by just four points, according to Politico.

In conjunction with the public poll released earlier today that showed Romanoff surging into the lead, it’s clear Bennet is in real jeopardy of losing the August 10 primary.

Classic Greenspan

Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, “famous for his murky pronouncements on the U.S. economy,” did not disappoint in an interview on Meet the Press, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Greenspan said the country is in the midst of “a pause” in a “modest recovery” that feels like a “quasi-recession.”

Asked whether the economy would get worse before it gets better, Greenspan responded, “Maybe, but not necessarily.”

Sandoval Still Way Up in Nevada

Mason-Dixon poll in Nevada finds Brian Sandoval (R) way ahead of Rory Reid (D) in the race for governor, 50% to 31%.

The poll shows Sandoval with a double-digit lead in every demographic group other than Democrats. And even among Democrats Reid has work to do: 18 percent of Reid’s fellow party members chose Sandoval. In turn, Reid got support from just 3 percent of Republicans.

Maes Moves Ahead of McInnis in Colorado Primary

A new Denver Post poll in Colorado shows the likely impact of a series of storiesregarding plagiarism by Scott McInnis (R) has damaged his campaign for governor. Dan Maes (R) now leads McInnis among likely primary voters, 43% to 39%, with 18% still undecided with a little over two weeks to go before the election.

In general election match ups, John Hickenlooper (D) holds commanding leads in the race three way race for governor against Tom Tancredo (I) and either potential Republican rival.

Paul Maintains Edge in Kentucky

A new WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll in Kentucky finds Rand Paul (R) leading Jack Conway (D) for the U.S. Senate, 51% to 43%.

Democrats’ Campaign Trail Paradox

“Three months before the midterm elections, the president is stepping up his involvement in the fight to preserve the Democratic Party’s control of Congress. But advisers said he would concentrate largely on delivering a message, raising money and motivating voters from afar, rather than on racing from district to district,” reports the New York Times.

“Yet at the same time, many Democrats continue to demand more help from Mr. Obama and his team, and question whether the White House is as committed to their fates this year as it is to the president’s re-election in 2012.”

Meanwhile, Maggie Haberman notes that keeping his distance “also has a plus for the president, which the piece alludes to toward the end – it keeps him from getting tagged with other people’s losses (see Corzine, Jon; Coakley, Martha, etc.) as the major ramp-up for his 2012 re-election draws near.”

Romanoff Pulls Ahead of Bennet

Andrew Romanoff (D) literally bet the house on his Senate primary challenge of Sen. Michael Bennet (D) and a new Denver Post poll suggests it might be paying off.

Romanoff has closed a double-digit deficit and is now leading Bennet (D), 48% to 45%.

In the Republican primary, Ken Buck (R) leads Jane Norton (R) by 9 points, 50% to 41%.

A Bible for the Tea Party

Ken Vogel notes that a three-year old book, The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, has become a bible for the Tea Party movement.

The thesis: “Poorly funded groups and companies loosely organized around basic shared ideas can change society, often by outmaneuvering governments or mega-corporations.”

“The title is based on the contrasting biology of spiders, which die when their heads are chopped off, and starfish, which can multiply when any given piece is severed — a trait the book’s authors posit is shared by decentralized entities ranging from Alcoholics Anonymous to Al Qaeda to Wikipedia.”

Ensign Staffers May Testify

The Senate last week cleared a path for staff members to testify before a federal grand jury investigating criminal misconduct allegations against Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), the Las Vegas Review Journal reports.

“It was another sign that the Justice Department is moving along in its probe of Ensign’s extramarital affair with his former political aide Cindy Hampton and allegations he violated lobbying law and other statutes in attempting to cover it up.”

The Senate ethics committee is conducting a parallel investigation.

A Major Ethics Headache for Democrats

A House panel is preparing to accuse Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) of at least one ethics violation in her efforts to help a bank with ties to her husband and plans to fight the charges in a House trial, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The findings of the investigation into Waters are expected to be made public on Monday.

The New York Times says the expected trial, coming just after the start of a similar proceeding for Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) “would be a modern-day precedent for the House… At no time in at least the last two decades have two sitting House members faced a public hearing detailing allegations against them.”

It would also be a major embarrassment for Democrats as the two trials would likely start in September — just two months before the midterm elections.

One More Poll Shows Crist Leading in Florida

A new Florida Poll shows confirms other recent surveys and shows Gov. Charlie Crist (I) leading the three-way U.S. Senate race with 41%, followed by Marco Rubio (R) at 30% and Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) at 12%.

If Jeff Greene (D) is the Democratic nominee, Crist gets 37% to Rubio’s 29% and Greene gets 16%.

Pawlenty Makes Trip to Iowa

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) is making his first “multi-stop trip” to Iowa, the Des Moines Register reports.

“The weekend Iowa trip can help Pawlenty cut into the 53% of Iowa Republicans who said in The Des Moines Register‘s Iowa Poll in June that they were too unfamiliar with him to say whether they viewed him favorably. It’s an improvement from November, when 73% said they knew too little about him… Pawlenty’s Iowa swing – his fourth stop in Iowa since the 2008 election – also gives him the chance to begin building relationships with Republican activists closer to the grass roots in Iowa.”

Lessons for Romney

The Hotline notes that the primary campaigns of gubernatorial hopefuls Rick Snyder (R) in Michigan and Bill Haslam (R) in Tennessee provide three takeaways that could be used as a playbook for a Mitt Romney presidential bid in 2012.

Exploit your funding advantage: “Like Romney, both Snyder and Haslam also have been running on their business backgrounds, and have spent plenty of their own money into the races to propel them into the lead. Romney, likewise, has an early and sizable fundraising edge and can also self-fund.”

Run as a businessman: “Snyder’s boasting of being a turnaround specialist is almost identical to Romney’s expected message, one that will be more business-focused than in ’08. The economic recession has hit Michigan as hard as any state, and for Republicans to have a shot at defeating Obama in 2012 (with an economic contrast message), they’ll need to put it in play.”

Split the base, consolidate moderates: “The GOP base is fired up across the country, but in these races, support is split up between multiple conservative candidates (Wamp/Ramsey in TN,Cox/Hoekstra/Bouchard in MI). Looking ahead, Romney could benefit from a similar scenario, facing a slew of conservatives (Daniels/Thune/Santorum) splitting up attention and the activist vote.”

The latest polls show Snyder and Haslam with leads going into their respective primaries on Tuesday.

Prosecutors Will Not Pursue Case Against Gore

Prosecutors said they “will not pursue a criminal case against former Vice President Al Gore for allegedly groping a Portland massage therapist in 2006, citing a ‘lack of credible evidence,'” the Portland Oregonian reports.

Prosecutors said they declined to pursue the case for several reasons including: the woman failed a polygraph test, hotel workers provided conflicting information about that evening and Hagerty appears to have been paid by the National Enquirer for the story.

McConnell Sees Presidential Bid by Thune

Political Wire reader says Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told congressional interns at a closed meeting this week that Sen. John Thune (R-SD) was “the member of my caucus most likely to run” for president in 2012.

Reprimand Recommended for Rangel

The ethics subcommittee that investigated Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) has recommended that the embattled lawmaker face just a “reprimand,” a mild form of punishment similar to that given to Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA) when he was rebuked in 1997, the Washington Post reports.

It’s up to the full committee to make the final decision based on evidence but it’s now clear the reported plea deal with Rangel was never in place.

Quote of the Day

“If you believe this is a bad idea to provide health care — then vote no! But don’t give me the cowardly view that ‘Oh if it was a different procedure…'”

— Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), in a dramatic speech on the House floor, excoriating Republicans for opposing a bill that provided health care to 9/11 first responders because of their inability to offer amendments to it.

See more…

Gingrich Predicts Palin Will Run

Newt Gingrich said that he expects Sarah Palin to be among the crowd of Republican presidential candidates in 2012, according to The Hill.

Other on the list: “There are going to be lots of Republicans running — Gov. Romney clearly, Gov. Palin, Gov. Huckabee, Gov. Mitch Daniels, Gov. Haley Barbour, Gov. Tim Pawlenty. I think John Thune, the senator from South Dakota, is probably going to get in. Ron Paul’s probably going to run again. I think it’s going to be a lively campaign, there’ll be a lot of good candidates.”

Conservative Email Addresses

Michael Reagan, eldest son of former president Ronald Reagan, is selling @reagan.com e-mail addresses, CBS News reports, “with an appeal to conservatives to stop giving their money to companies he casts as tied to liberalism.”

The pitch: “Well, every time you use your email from companies like Google, AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail, Apple and others, you are helping the liberals. These companies are, and will continue, to be huge supporters financially and with technology of those that are hurting our country.”

Elizabeth Warren and the Democratic Base

Paul Krugman makes the political case for picking Elizabeth Warren as the head the new consumer financial protection agency.

“Mr. Obama’s attempts to avoid confrontation have been counterproductive. His opponents remain filled with a passionate intensity, while his supporters, having received no respect, lack all conviction. And in a midterm election, where turnout is crucial, the ‘enthusiasm gap’ between Republicans and Democrats could spell catastrophe for the Obama agenda.”

“Which brings me back to Ms. Warren… protecting consumers, ensuring that they aren’t the victims of predatory financial practices, is something voters can relate to. And choosing a high-profile consumer advocate to lead the agency providing that protection — someone whose scholarship and advocacy were largely responsible for the agency’s creation — is the natural move, both substantively and politically. Meanwhile, the alternative — disappointing supporters yet again by choosing some little-known technocrat — seems like an obvious error.”

Palin Endorsement Tracker

Sarah Palin has endorsed more than two dozen candidates, a mixture of Tea Party favorites and more established Republicans. The Washington Post has a great chart that shows how they’ve done.

Has the Republican Wave Crested?

For two straight weeks, Democrats have maintained a lead in the Gallup generic congressional ballot.

Charlie Cook: “One interpretation of recent results is that the momentum in this critical midterm election has shifted and the Republican wave has subsided. Another interpretation is that it’s too soon to tell whether much has changed at all.”

Economic Growth Slows

The U.S. economy slowed in the second quarter and the government now says the recession was deeper than earlier believed, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The Commerce Department says the nation’s gross domestic product rose at an annualized seasonally adjusted rate of 2.4% in April to June, less than most economists were expecting.

The Washington Post notes the recovery “has been losing power for two straight quarters. That raises concerns about whether it will fizzle out. Or worse, tip back into a ‘double-dip’ recession.”

Palin’s Book Gets a Cover

The cover of Sarah Palin’s forthcoming book, America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag, was unveiled. The book is due out just after the midterm elections.

Dead Heat in Nevada

A new Mason-Dixon poll in Nevada shows Sen. Harry Reid (D) and challenger Sharron Angle (R) neck and neck.

Reid barely edges Angle among likely voters, 43% to 42%. Two weeks ago, he had aseven point lead.

Said pollster Brad Coker: “At least for the moment, Angle seems to have stopped the bleeding. Reid had the airwaves to himself for a while, and he drove her numbers down with the advertising. But that didn’t necessarily drive his numbers up. There hasn’t been a lot of good news to hang his hat on.”

Crist Maintains Lead in Florida Senate Race

A new Quinnipiac poll in Florida finds Gov. Charlie Crist (I) leading the three-way race for U.S. Senate with 37%, followed by Marco Rubio (R) at 32% and Jeff Greene (D) at 17%.

If Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) wins the Democratic primary, Crist’s lead would be 39%, followed by Rubio at 33% and Meek at 13%.

Key finding: Crist’s lead is based on getting half the independent voters, about 20% of Republicans and about 40% of Democrats. He also has a 53% to 37% job approval rating.

Very Tight Race for Florida Governor

A new Quinnipiac poll in Florida finds a very close three-way race for governor between Alex Sink (D), and either of the Republican candidates Rick Scott (R) or Bill McCollum (R), and the independent Bud Chiles (I).

With Scott as the GOP nominee, he leads with 29%, followed by Sink at 27% and Chiles 14%.

If McCollum wins the Republican primary, he would lead with 27%, followed by Sink at 26%, and Chiles at 14%.

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