POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 8/3

Bonus Quote of the Day

“The bottom line is: I’m not an expert, so don’t give me the power in Washington to be making rules.”

— Kentucky U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul (R), in an interview with Details magazine.

Obama Using Reagan Playbook

“The White House and congressional Democrats are looking at an unorthodox model to fashion their strategies for the upcoming midterm elections and President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign,” Washington Whispers notes.

“Remember when Ronald Reagan, up for re-election in 1984, repeated his winning 1980 campaign question ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?’ while warning that Democrats would return the nation to Jimmy Carter’s disastrous economic days? Well, get ready for top Democrats and the president to pick up that theme as they fight to keep the Republicans at the door.”

Said one Democratic aide: “In 1984, Reagan was still blaming Jimmy Carter and it worked. We’ll not just blame [Bush] but point out that the best indication of what they’ll do is what they’ve done.”

Democrats Will Keep Superdelegates

The DNC rules committee has “quietly nixed” a proposed change in the voting powers of superdelegates that would have required them to vote the same way as their states at the Democratic nominating convention, Newsweek reports.

However, the committee has kept recommendations to dilute the inlfuence of superdelegates, mostly by increasing the number of ordinary delegates.

“As a practical matter, the changes are unlikely to mean much, at least for 2012, when President Obama will presumably not face a serious nomination challenge. Extremely close, protracted primary contests like the one in 2008 are rare events, and even in that race the superdelegates didn’t change the outcome.”

Quote of the Day

“They have not come up with a single, solitary new idea to address the challenges of the American people. They don’t have a single idea that’s different from George Bush’s ideas, not one. Instead, they’re betting on amnesia.”

–President Obama, quoted by ABC News at a DNC fundraiser, arguing that the choice in November’s election is between moving forward or going backward.

Stockman Blames GOP Policies

Writing in the New York Times, Reagan budget director David Stockman says America’s current economic woes are the fault of the Republican party.

“Republicans used to believe that prosperity depended upon the regular balancing of accounts — in government, in international trade, on the ledgers of central banks and in the financial affairs of private households and businesses, too. But the new catechism, as practiced by Republican policymakers for decades now, has amounted to little more than money printing and deficit finance — vulgar Keynesianism robed in the ideological vestments of the prosperous classes.”

“This approach has not simply made a mockery of traditional party ideals. It has also led to the serial financial bubbles and Wall Street depredations that have crippled our economy. More specifically, the new policy doctrines have caused four great deformations of the national economy, and modern Republicans have turned a blind eye to each one.”

Handel Leads in Georgia Run Off

In the Republican gubernatorial run off, a new Landmark poll finds Karen Handel (R) holds a nine-point lead over Nathan Deal (R) 46% to 37%, with another 17% undecided.

The run off is on August 10.

Republicans Take Back Lead in Generic Ballot

Republicans have taken back the lead in the Gallup generic congressional ballot, 48% to 43%. This follows two weeks when the numbers were nearly reversed.

Key point: “While the five-percentage-point edge for Republicans is not statistically significant, it represents a return to the prevailing 2010 pattern, seen since mid-March, whereby Republicans were tied or held a slight advantage over Democrats in most Gallup Daily tracking weekly averages. If sustained through Election Day, this competitive positioning for the Republicans among registered voters would point to major seat gains for that party in November given the usual Republican advantage in turnout.”

Steele Says He’ll Seek Another Term

RNC Chairman Michael Steele told Evan Gahr that he will seek a second term as head of the Republican party and brushed aside speculation about a potential challenge from former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN).

Said Steele: “Norm is an old friend. Norm is not going to challenge me for RNC chairman. If he does I’ll put my record up against anyone who comes after to me. I feel confident we’ll get re-elected. I’m not worried about that part of it.”

Obama Sets Ratings Record for “The View”

President Obama’s visit to ABC’s The View set a new ratings record for the daytime show with an audience of 6.59 million viewers, according to David Zurawik.

That’s significantly more viewers than he’d get doing a full Ginsburg.

The previous high for the show was 6.17 million viewers on the morning after the 2008 presidential election that brought Obama into office.

Burr Approval Sinks Lower

Teasing its upcoming poll in North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race, Public Policy Polling notes Sen. Richard Burr’s (R-NC) approval rating has hit a new record low at 32% with 44% of voters disapproving of him.

The full poll results are out tomorrow.

Nelson Not Considering a Party Switch

Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D-NE) staff “is pushing back against a bit of juicy speculation that the Nebraska Democrat would be willing to switch parties if Republicans take control of the Senate in the 2010 elections,” the Huffington Post reports.

Joe Klein noted over the weekend that “if the Republicans make substantial gains in the midterm elections, Nelson could be up for grabs next fall — it certainly would be easier for him to get reelected in Nebraska as a Republican and, if the Democrats’ Senate advantage is cut to one or two seats, he could be offered the moon by the Republicans to switch.”

Asked for comment, however, Nelson’s office “stressed that the senator remains a committed Democrat who, despite bucking the party on a host of political fronts (most recently, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s confirmation), is not interested in a party switch.”

Shuler Deadlocked in Re-Election Bid

A new SurveyUSA poll in North Carolina’s 11th congressional district finds Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) barely edging challenger Jeff Miller (R), 45% to 44%.

Why Democrats are Still Talking About Bush

He’s been out of the White House for less than two years, but Greg Sargent notes that a new polling memo by the centrist group Third Way suggests that “only 25% of Americans believe that if Republicans return to power in Congress their economic agenda will mean a return to former President Bush’s economic policies. 65% say that a Republican Congress will promote a ‘new economic agenda that is different from George W. Bush’s policies.'”

Furthermore, moderates and Independents “have completely divorced congressional Republicans from the economic philosophy and failed policies of President Bush.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I’m very much in favor of tax cuts but not with borrowed money and the problem that we have gotten into in recent years is spending programs with borrowed money, tax cuts with borrowed money. And at the end of the day that proves disastrous.”

— Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, in an interview on Meet the Press.

Reading About the Senate

If you loved the New Yorker piece on the U.S. Senate highlighted earlier — and still don’t have a good book to read on your summer vacation — you really should pick up Robert Caro’s Master of the Senate. It’s one of the best political books ever written.

Bush Breaks His Silence

Former President Bush will do his first interview since leaving the presidency on November 8 with NBC News — the day before his book, Decision Points, is set to be published.

However, even though the book and interview don’t come until after the midterm elections, Republicans are still worried Bush might hurt the party this fall.

From Neocons to Crazy-cons

David Klinghoffer: “With its descent to baiting blacks, Mexicans and Muslims, its accommodation of conspiracy theories and an increasing nastiness and vulgarity, the conservative movement has undergone a shift toward demagoguery and hucksterism. Once the talk was of ‘neocons’ versus ‘paleocons.’ Now we observe the rule of the crazy-cons.”

Self-Financed Campaigns Rarely Win

A new study shows that super-rich candidates who personally bankroll their own campaigns almost always lose.

Sam Pizzigati: “The study identifies 6,171 campaigns for state office where candidates received over half their campaign contributions from themselves or their immediate families. These candidates, from 2000 through last year, gave their campaigns $700.6 million of their own money. In the end, they won only 11 percent of their races.” The study also found that, “candidates who collected and spent more campaign cash than their rivals, won 87 percent of their races.”

A Very Busy August

A quick look at the congressional primary calendar shows a packed August.

First Read: “By the way, if you’re a longtime political junkie and wondering are, ‘Since when did the August primary calendar get so crowded?’ you can thank the Florida recount in 2000. As a result of the voting reforms implemented after the 2000 debacle, states have to make sure they get absentee and overseas ballots out by a certain date and in order to meet PRIMARY vote certification deadlines, many states have to move their primaries out of the month of September. A few states have exemptions this year, but that will continue to fade. Look at this cycle: A slew of former September primary states are now in August — AZ, FL, WA, MN, and VT.”

Campaign Promise Kept

President Obama will address an upcoming milestone later today — the end of combat operations in Iraq on August 31 and a shift by the U.S. military to a “transitional” support role — and the fulfillment of one of his major campaign promises.

New York Times: “The high-level public focus on Iraq appears aimed at least in part at blunting some of the growing frustration, particularly among his liberal base, over the struggling war in Afghanistan. The president essentially is arguing to skeptics in the public and in Congress that he is bringing at least one war to a conclusion and can do so with another eventually as well.”

However, the Washington Post notes White House officials “are very wary of echoing President Bush’s pronouncement of: ‘mission accomplished,’ especially given the ongoing political turmoil and potential for violence in Iraq. Instead, in his speech, Obama will remind Americans that thousands of troops will remain in the country as a ‘transitional force’ for years, and will likely face danger.”

How the Public Views the Political Parties

A new CNN/Opinion Research survey finds Democrats hold a 46% to 39% advantage over the Republican party “on the question of which party cares more about the needs of people like you, with the Democrats and the GOP tied on which party can bring the kind of change the country needs.”

But the poll indicates that the Republicans are “slightly ahead when it comes to which party agrees with you on the issues (a two point advantage) and on which party can improve the economy (a three point advantage). The Republicans hold an eight point margin over the Democrats on which party shares your view of the government and which party can effectively manage the government.”

The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body?

In a must-read New Yorker piece on the often dysfunctional U.S. Senate, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Dashle (D) “sketched a portrait of the contemporary senator who is too busy to think.”

Said Daschle: “Sometimes, you’re dialing for dollars, you get the call, you’ve got to get over to vote, you’ve got fifteen minutes. You don’t have a clue what’s on the floor, your staff is whispering in your ears, you’re running onto the floor, then you check with your leader — you double check — but, just to make triple sure, there’s a little sheet of paper on the clerk’s table: The leader recommends an aye vote, or a no vote. So you’ve got all these checks just to make sure you don’t screw up, but even then you screw up sometimes. But, if you’re ever pressed, ‘Why did you vote that way?’ — you just walk out thinking, Oh, my God, I hope nobody asks, because I don’t have a clue.”

Most Conservative, Most Liberal

A new Gallup survey identifies Wyoming, Mississippi, Utah, South Dakota and Alabama as the most conservative places in the country while the Washington, DC, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont and Massachusetts are the most liberal.

Dayton Leading Primary Race in Minnesota

A new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll finds Mark Dayton (D) leading the Democratic primary race for governor among likely voters with 40%, followed by Margaret Anderson Kelliher (D) at 30% and Matt Entenza (D) at 17%.

The DFLers will face of in August 10 primary to determine which of the three will run against Tom Emmer (R) in the November election.

In general election match ups, Dayton and Kelliher both hold significant leads over Emmer, thanks to third party candidate Tom Horner (I) who draws significant GOP support away from Emmer.

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