POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 8/12

Kucinich Will Not Challenge Obama

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) told George Stephanopoulos that he will not challenge President Obama in a Democratic presidential primary and instead called for party unity.

Said Kucinich: “I think what we have to do is focus on coming together for the purposes of getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Quote of the Day

“He’s not saying the world’s going to be full of butterscotch sundaes. He’s saying: ‘Eat your broccoli. And then maybe you don’t get to eat at all for a few days. You don’t get steak — ever.'”

— Jeb Bush, quoted by the New York Times, describing the budget proposals of GOP rising star Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

Lugar Will Run Again

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) said that he plans on seeking a seventh term in 2012, theSouth Bend Tribune reports, though he will not yet formally declare his candidacy.

Said Lugar: “I suppose there will be a place and a time to do that, to rally the forces, to get the fundraisers going and all of that type of thing. But that’s my intent day by day. Most people in the Senate know I will be around, therefore they have to deal with me on that basis.”

Maes Gets Silent Treatment

The Denver Post notes that “not one national or local GOP-backed group or individual” sent out a news release congratulating Dan Maes (R) for winning the Republican nomination for governor in Colorado on Tuesday.

Majority Backs Gay Marriage for First Time

A new CNN/Opinion Research poll found that 52% of Americans think gays and lesbians should have a constitutional right to get married and have their marriage recognized by law, while 46% did not.

It’s the first time a national poll found majority support for gay marriage.

Nate Silver: “Polls, of course, have a margin of error, and needless to say it is not yet safe to say that support for marriage equity has become the plurality, let alone the majority, position. At the same time, it is probably also no longer safe to say that opposition to same-sex marriage is the majority position, and it is becoming dubious to call it the plurality position. Opinion on the issue, instead, is close to evenly divided, with results varying somewhat depending on things like question wording.”

Rangel’s Birthday Bash

Walter Shapiro crashed Rep. Charlie Rangel’s (D-NY) 80th birthday party last night and notes it was “the antithesis of Chelsea Clinton’s wedding — a glittering social event on the New York political calendar that many prominent politicians wished (very privately) they did not have to attend and hoped (very secretly) would somehow be canceled.”

The New York Times reports the evening started with former New York City Mayor David Dinkins getting out of his car when a man yelled, “You know you are attending a party for a crook.”

“At that, Mr. Dinkins, a paragon of statesmanship and dignity, raised his middle finger at the man, displaying it for all to see, according to witnesses, whose accounts were confirmed by the former mayor.”

Will Offbeat Candidates Hurt GOP Chances?

“A former professional wrestling executive, a libertarian ophthalmologist and a man who thinks bicycle use could empower the United Nations filed to run in elections. That’s not the start of a joke: that’s a sampling of the deeply unusual pool of candidates running — and actually being nominated — for high office this year,”Politico reports.

“Primary voters are again and again choosing offbeat candidates shunned by national party strategists, and imperiling potential Republican gains this November in the process.”

Grim Electorate Gets Ready to Vote

“Americans are growing more pessimistic about the economy and the war in Afghanistan, and are losing faith that Democrats have better solutions than Republicans,” according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

“Underpinning the gloom: Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the economy has yet to hit bottom, a sharply higher percentage than the 53% who felt that way in January.”

“The sour national mood appears all-encompassing and is dragging down ratings for the GOP too, suggesting voters above all are disenchanted with the political establishment in Washington. Just 24% express positive feelings about the Republican Party, a new low in the 21-year history of the Journal’s survey. Democrats are only slightly more popular, but also near an all-time low.”

Blagojevich Jury Deadlocked on Some Counts

The judge in the corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced that the jury is deadlocked on some counts in the case, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The judge said that “he needs further clarification from the jury before deciding the next step” and sent them home for the day.

Edwards Wants Restrictions on Sex Tape Deposition

In court documents obtained by WTVD-TV, John Edwards “is trying to set rules for his deposition in the now notorious lawsuit over a video that purportedly shows him having sex with his mistress.”

“Edwards’ attorney is asking that if his deposition is videotaped that it not be released to the media unless it is shown in court and becomes public record. He’s also asking that questioning be limited to custody of the videotape.”

Unauthorized Immigrants Account for 8% of Births

As the calls to eliminate birthright citizenship grow louder in the Republican party, a new Pew Hispanic Center study finds that 8% of babies born in the United States belong to undocumented immigrants.

Interestingly, a new CNN/Opinion Research poll finds the public is split on modifying the U.S. Constitution to eliminate this right with 49% in favor and 51% opposed.

Hickenlooper Way Ahead in Colorado

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Colorado finds John Hickenlooper (D) leads Dan Maes (R) in the race for governor, 50% to 38%.

When you add Tom Tancredo (I) as a third party candidate, Hickenlooper’s lead becomes even wider. He’s in front with 48%, followed by Tancredo at 23% and Maes at 22%.

Woman Says Paul Did Not Kidnap Her

The woman who described Kentucky U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul’s “youthful indiscretions” clarifies her account to Greg Sargent: “She says she was not kidnapped nor forced to do drugs by Paul.”

“But she reiterated other odd aspects of her earlier story, including her claim that Paul and another college friend blindfolded her, tied her up, and told her to smoke pot and worship the ‘Aqua Buddha,’ even if they didn’t physically force her to do these things.”

Blagojevich Jury Wants Clarification

After 11 days of deliberations, the jurors in former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s corruption trial “are about to break their long silence, but aren’t quite ready to render a verdict. A hearing has been called for this afternoon. According to defense attorneys, jurors have a question,” the Chicago News Cooperative reports.

Americans Fed Up with Congress

Even though it has accomplished more than any other recent Congress, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds 60% of Americans say that the Congress “is either below average or one of the worst in history — the highest percentage here in the history of the poll.”

For comparison, just 31% say it has been average and only 6% believe it has been above average or one of the best.

Meanwhile, a new Gallup survey finds just 19% of Americans approve of the overall job Congress is doing while 75% disapprove.

Rostenkowski is Dead

Former Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-IL) has died at age 82.

The Chicago Sun Times notes he was “the most important congressman ever to represent Chicago, ‘Mr. Chairman’ of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, confidante of presidents, pride of the Polish community and bringer of millions upon millions of dollars in federal pork home to Illinois, until it all came crashing down in a scandal over minor expenses — postage stamps and office chairs — that tarnished his legacy and sent him to prison.”

Highly recommended book on his rise and fall: Rostenkowski: The Pursuit of Power and the End of the Old Politics by Richard E. Cohen.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“Our place, in terms of being considered one of the most corrupt states in terms of politics, is pretty secure. It’s almost like we’ve kind of relegated New Jersey to second place, and Louisiana’s kind of like on injured reserve or something.”

— Former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar (R), quoted by the AP, on being the last elected governor in the state not to face criminal charges.

Santorum Cultivating Donors, Staff for White House Bid

In an interview with the Daily Caller, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) says he’s “actively cultivating donors, staff and supporters so he’ll be in a position to run for president in 2012 as a Republican if he decides to do so by early next year.”

Said Santorum: “I’m going through the process of what someone who is seriously considering running would do, in order for when the time comes to decide, I’m in a position that I have a choice.”

Vitter Still Leads in Louisiana

A new Southern Media & Opinion Research poll in Louisiana “conducted for a group of businessmen” finds Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) leading challenger Charlie Melancon (D), 46% to 28%.

In the GOP primary, Vitter leads challenger Chet Traylor (R) by an astonishing 78% to 4%.

Caveat: “The sample design provided for an over sample of Republican voters to ensure that at least 300 Republicans voters would have been interviewed.”

Obama Called Worst President in History

Arizona House candidate Ben Quayle (R), the son of former Vice President Dan Quayle, released a must-see new campaign ad in which he says Barack Obama is the “worst president in history.”

See more…

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