POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 9/1

Republicans Hold Edge on Nearly Every Issue

A new USA Today/Gallup poll finds Americans believe Republicans in Congress would do a better job than Democrats in handling seven of nine key election issues. The parties are essentially tied on healthcare, with the environment being the lone Democratic strength.

Blair’s Memoir Released

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s much anticipated memoir, A Journey: My Political Life, is out this morning and sending shockwaves through the country.

For the first time, Blair has given a candid account of his relationship with Gordon Brown, his successor as prime minister.

The Guardian: “We knew that their relationship, particularly after 2004, was often dire. But Blair has now written about it at length. He confirms that he considered sacking Brown and he says that he predicted Brown’s premiership would be a disaster.”

But perhaps most damaging is his claim that Brown lacked “practical, on the ground, everyday-life conviction”. Blair writes: “At this utterly crucial epicentre of political destiny, I discovered there was a lacuna — not the wrong instinct, but no instinct at the human, gut level. Political calculation, yes. Political feelings, no. Analytical intelligence, absolutely. Emotional intelligence, zero.”

Trio Takes on Their Own Party

The Washington Post obtained an early copy of Young Guns by Reps. Eric Cantor (R-VA), Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Paul Ryan (R-WI) which casts the Republican congressional leaders who preceded them as a group that “betrayed its principles” and was plagued by “failures from high-profile ethics lapses to the inability to rein in spending or even slow the growth of government.”

“The book is in some ways similar to one written by then-Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-L) in 2006, when he was trying to lead his party to control of the House. Like Emanuel’sbook, which was not written with Nancy Pelosi, who was the Democrats’ top leader, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) did not participate formally in this project.”

Cuomo Headed Towards a Landslide

A new Quinnipiac poll in New York finds Andrew Cuomo (D) leads either of his Republican rivals for governor by more than 2-1. He tops Rick Lazio (R), 57% to 25%, and leads Carl Paladino (R), 60% to 23%.

Key finding: New York State voters approve of the job Cuomo is doing as Attorney General by a 69% to 20% margin.

Murkowski Concedes Senate Primary

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has conceded to challenger Joe Miller (R) in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, the Anchorage Daily News reports.

Said Murkowski: “Based on where we are right now, I don’t see a scenario where the primary will turn out in my favor.”

The concession come after a day of counting absentee ballots in which Murkowski gained little ground on Miller.

Palin Sought Iowa Speaking Event

The Des Moines Register notes that Sarah Palin — “after playing hard to get for the past year” — approached Iowa Republicans recently to speak next month’s Iowa Republican Party annual fall fundraiser.

Her “recent overtures to Iowa reveal a change in posture that puts her in a position — like other 2012 presidential prospects already laying campaign groundwork in Iowa — to build goodwill and relationships with influential activists.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“Let me violate my own rule about never talking what we talk about. We did not talk about 2012 or anybody that would run, and certainly not about me. I have 1,218 days left to go in this job and I plan to serve them all out, and I’m looking forward to every single one of them.”

— New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, quoted by the New York Daily News, on playing golf with President Obama in Martha’s Vineyard last week.

Chiles Expected to Drop Bid in Florida

The St. Petersburg Times reports that Bud Chiles (I) is calling supporters to tell them he is ending his independent bid for Florida governor. An announcement is likely to come Thursday.

Tom Jensen: “Chiles was a landing spot for folks who didn’t like Scott or the Democrats. With him out those folks are going to have to make a lesser of two evils choice- does it bother us more to vote for a guy we dislike or to vote for a Democrat? My guess is it ends up being a wash and having no real effect on the race.”

Getting Worse for Democrats

Tom Jensen teases a forthcoming Public Policy Polling survey in Ohio by noting “there’s one finding on the poll that pretty much sums it up: by a 50% to 42% margin voters there say they’d rather have George W. Bush in the White House right now than Barack Obama.”

“There’s not much doubt things are getting worse for Democrats — and they were already pretty bad. Somehow the party base needs to get reinvigorated over the next two months or there’s going to be a very, very steep price to pay.”

Hickenlooper Leads Big in Colorado

A new Magellan poll in Colorado shows John Hickenlooper (D) leading Dan Maes (R) by 19 points among likely voters in the race for governor, 46% to 27%, with Tom Tancredo (I) in third at 17%.

Whitman’s Good Excuse

Meg Whitman (R) reported for jury duty yesterday “after she got the notice most of us dread,” NBC Bay Area reports.

“She made it into a courtroom as part of an actual jury pool. When the judge asked if anyone had a scheduling issue or hardship that he should know about, Whitman piped up and said she was quite busy right now running for governor.”

Two Polls Give Toomey Lead in Pennsylvania

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll in Pennsylvania shows Pat Toomey (R) with a ten points lead among likely voters over Rep. Joe Sestak (D) in the race for U.S. Senate, 47% to 37%.

A new Rasmussen survey shows Toomey leading by six points, 45% to 39%.

Corbett Holds Big Lead in Pennsylvania

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll in Pennsylvania shows Tom Corbett (R) way ahead of Dan Onorato (D) among likely voters in the race for governor, 49% to 34%.

When Metaphors Don’t Work

Scott Walker (R) has begun running ads in which he dons boxing gloves and vows to “go the distance” against Tom Barrett (D) in the Wisconsin race for governor, the APreports.

The problem with the fighting metaphor? Barrett “was viciously beaten outside a fairground last year and left with serious injuries” when he “tried to help a screaming woman struggling to protect her 1-year-old granddaughter from being taken by her drunk, belligerent father.”

Oval Office Makeover

When President Obama addresses the nation on Iraq tonight, “he will do so from newly redecorated digs,” the New York Times reports.

“The new look, including new and reupholstered furniture, new paint and wallpaper, is more modern, and tends toward neutral hues of browns and taupe, rather than the gold and yellow tones favored by his predecessor, former President George W. Bush.”

“The White House is not saying on how much the redesign cost, except to say that it was ‘in line with’ what Mr. Obama’s two most recent predecessors had spent… But given the economic hard times facing the nation, Mr. Obama is bound to face questions about the redo. When he arrived for work at the White House in January of last year, he said he thought the office was fine, and saw no need to redecorate.”

Burr Maintains Edge Despite Low Approval

A new Public Policy Polling survey in North Carolina finds Sen. Richard Burr (R) leading challenger Elaine Marshall (D) for U.S. Senate among likely voters, 43% to 38%, with Libertarian Michael Beitler pulling 6% and 13% still undecided.

“The basic contours of the race remain unchanged. Burr is unpopular, while Marshall is unknown. For the seventh month in a row PPP finds more North Carolinians disapproving of Burr’s work than giving him good marks — this month’s spread is 38/42. Marshall’s anonymity is limiting her ability to take full advantage of Burr’s unpopularity.”

Meanwhile, Burr is out with a new ad that makes clear he’s “home nearly every weekend,” unlike Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) who was defeated in 2008 because many though she rarely left Washington, D.C.

See more…

Lawmaker Gave Relatives Scholarship Money

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) “awarded eight scholarships last year to her grandsons and a top aide’s children – bringing to 23 the number of awards she handed out since 2005 in violation of Congressional Black Caucus Foundation eligibility rules,” the Dallas Morning News reports.

Said Johnson: “While I am not ashamed of helping, I did not intentionally mean to violate any rules in the process. To rectify this matter immediately, I will reimburse the funds by the end of this week.”

Meghan McCain Speaks Out on Palin

In her new book, Dirty Sexy Politics, Sen. John McCain’s daughter Meghan McCain breaks her silence about Sarah Palin, writing that she brought “drama, stress, complications, panic and loads of uncertainty” to the losing campaign.

She writes: “I had learned a few things on the campaign already, and knew that change always brought complications and chaos and sometimes a little entertainment. Drama was inevitable on a campaign and created almost out of thin air. Tempers were always flying, and feelings were always being hurt. There was no question that a running mate would add to the confusion and upset. There would be less time for fun. But I couldn’t have predicted just how serious it was going to get.”

McCain admits that she wanted her father to pick Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) as his running mate, though she told ABC News that she doesn’t think Palin was the reason her father lost.

Most Attuned Voters Tilt Republican

A new AP-GfK Poll finds that Americans “with the strongest opinions about the country’s most divisive issues are largely unhappy with how President Obama is handling them, an ominous sign for Democrats hoping to retain control of Congress in the fall elections.”

In nine of 15 issues examined, “more Americans who expressed intense interest in a problem voiced strong opposition to Obama’s work on it, including the economy, unemployment, federal deficits and terrorism.”

These people also say they will vote for the Republican candidate in their local House race this fall. Only those highly interested in the environment lean toward the Democrats.

Vote Count Begins Again in Alaska

We should have a much better sense later tonight of whether Joe Miller (R) has actually pulled an upset of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) in Alaska’s Republican U.S. Senate primary.

State elections officials resume counting the remaining 23,472 ballots today, with Miller holding a 1,668 vote lead. First Read notes that 13,740 are absentee ballots, while 9,069 are “questioned” ballots, many of which will likely be thrown out. There are also 663 “early” votes to be counted.

If Murkowski does close the gap, however, the Anchorage Daily News notes Miller is already alleging vote tampering.

One sign establishment Republicans are ready to move past Murkowski: The NRSC spent money on a poll to prove Miller can win the general election against Scott McAdams (D). A new Basewood Research survey conducted for the party committee finds Miller leading by 16 points, 52% to 36%.

Quote of the Day

“There’s going to be a government shutdown, just like in ’95 and ’96 but we’re going to win it this time and I’ll be fightin’ on your side.”

— Political strategist Dick Morris, quoted by TPM, predicting a repeat of how Republicans forced a government shutdown under President Clinton after they won control of Congress in 1994.

From “Shock and Awe” to a Whimper

“For only the second time since he took office, President Obama will speak to the nation from the Oval Office on Tuesday night, in an address meant to convey that he has kept one of the central promises of his campaign: withdrawing American combat troops from Iraq,” the New York Times reports.

First Read: “From 2003 to 2008, the Iraq war unquestionably drove American politics. It was a central issue in the 2004 presidential election; it helped Democrats recapture control of Congress in 2006; and it catapulted Barack Obama to win the Democratic presidential nomination. But as now-President Obama officially marks the end of combat operations in Iraq in an Oval Office address at 8:00 pm ET, it’s striking how it has mostly disappeared as a political issue.”

Furthermore, The Hotline notes “it’s worth remembering that many Dems across the country view this as a distraction. Democrats argue that any day not focused on the economy is a wasted day in their efforts to retain House and Senate majorities. Count today as one of those days.”

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