POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 9/22

Book Portrays White House Torn Over Afghanistan

The New York Times is first to get a copy of Bob Woodward’s latest book, Obama’s Wars, which claims “some of the critical players in President Obama’s national security team doubt his strategy in Afghanistan will succeed and have spent much of the last 20 months quarreling with one another over policy, personalities and turf.”

The book “depicts an administration deeply torn over the war in Afghanistan even as the president agreed to triple troop levels there amid suspicion that he was being boxed in by the military. Mr. Obama’s top White House adviser on Afghanistan and his special envoy for the region are described as believing the strategy will not work.”

The book is due out next week.

Rahm Ahead in Internal Polling

Ward Room reports that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, widely believed to be considering a run for Mayor of Chicago, has conducted internal polls that “have him ahead of all-comers by up to 14 points,” making a run increasingly likely.

“The big question is can he afford to wait until after the November 2nd mid-term electons. Other challengers are already collecting signatures, holding fundraisers and gathering media attention in Chicago while Emanuel is preoccupied in Washington DC.”

Murkowski Campaign Misspells its Candidate’s Name

Given that Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) hopes thousands of Alaskans will write her name onto their ballots, she can’t be happy that her campaign pulled an ad after urging voters to go to “LisaMurkwski.com”, the Washington Post notes.

Ironically, the ad aimed to inform voters how to correctly file a write-in ballot.

Summers Will Leave After the Election

Apparently, Obama was hinting: White House officials tell Bloomberg that Lawrence Summers is expected to leave his job as the president’s National Economic Council director after November’s congressional elections.

Jackson Apologizes for “Social Acquaintance”

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) said he is “deeply sorry” for having “disappointed some supporters” regarding his relationship with a female “social acquaintance,” theChicago Sun Times reports.

At issue are allegations that Jackson was behind a scheme to raise money for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich in return for an appointment to the U.S. Senate. The person making the allegations also said Jackson asked him to fly a “social acquaintance” to Chicago for visits.

Said Jackson: “The reference to a social acquaintance is a private and personal matter between me and my wife that was handled some time ago. I ask that you respect our privacy.”

The news comes as Jackson explores a Chicago mayoral run. He wasn’t kidding when he called it a “heavyweight fight.” They play hardball in the Windy City.

Senate Blocks Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

“The Senate — leery of being steamrolled into a pre-election vote on abolishing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ before the Pentagon completes its study on the impact of its repeal — decided Tuesday against lifting the 17-year-old law,” Time reports.

“Senators voted 56-43, failing to get the 60 votes needed to end a Republican filibuster and allow an actual vote on ending the ban. Repeal supporters believe it will be years before another plausible effort can be mounted to allow openly gay men and women serve in the U.S. military.”

Snyder Up Big in Michigan

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Michigan finds what most other polls have shown: Rick Snyder (R) is crushing Virg Bernero (D), 52% to 31%.

Key finding: “Most remarkable are his numbers with independents. In a political climate where they look down on most all politicians they see Snyder favorably by more than a 3:1 margin, 53/17. There’s no candidate anywhere of either party we’ve seen with those kinds of numbers in 2010.”

Clinton Not Getting in the Way

Predictions of Bill Clinton’s interference in foreign policy while his wife was Secretary of State have just not come true, Ben Smith wisely observes.

“Bill Clinton has done a couple high profile international missions — a World Cup pitch, the North Korea hostage trip — but his international work has been almost entirely without incident or negative publicity.”

In fact, when was asked last night for his views on the Middle East peace process, Clinton responded, “I wouldn’t say too much if Hillary were not leading negotiations but I’m darn sure not going to say much about this now.”

Feingold Trails in Wisconsin

The new DailyKos/Public Policy Polling survey in Wisconsin — which we noted was coming yesterday — shows Ron Johnson (R) leading Sen. Russ Feingold (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 52% to 41%.

Key finding: “Wisconsin is seeing one of the most severe enthusiasm gaps in the country. If turnout matched 2008 Johnson would be leading Feingold only 47-46.”

Brown Has the Edge in California

A new Public Policy Polling survey in California finds Jerry Brown (D) leading Meg Whitman (R) in the race for governor, 47% to 42%.

Despite spending over $120 million on the race — or perhaps because of it? — Whitman is very unpopular. Just 35% of voters view her in a positive light with 49% seeing her negatively.

Meanwhile, a Fox News poll has the race tied at 45%.

Quote of the Day

“We’re in a fact free world.”

— Bill Clinton, at a policy discussion last night in New York City, explaining some of the more extreme candidates running for office this year.

Griftopia

This promises to be a must-read book: Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America by Matt Taibbi, which is billed as the “dramatic story behind the most audacious power grab in American history.”

“The financial crisis that exploded in 2008 isn’t past but prologue. The stunning rise, fall, and rescue of Wall Street in the bubble-and-bailout era was the coming-out party for the network of looters who sit at the nexus of American political and economic power. The grifter class — made up of the largest players in the financial industry and the politicians who do their bidding — has been growing in power for a generation, transferring wealth upward through increasingly complex financial mechanisms and political maneuvers. The crisis was only one terrifying manifestation of how they’ve hijacked America’s political and economic life.”

Raese Leads in West Virginia

A new Public Policy Polling survey in West Virginia shows John Raese (R) leading Gov. Joe Manchin (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 46% to 43%.

“These poll numbers show a much more favorable race for Raese than anything that’s been released publicly to date so I’d suggest caution in declaring too much momentum for the Republicans in West Virginia before other data confirms it. But one thing is definitely clear: this race is not going to be a slam dunk for Democrats as might have been hoped at one time.”

Miller Holds Wide Lead in Alaska

A new Rasmussen survey in Alaska shows Joe Miller (R) leading the U.S. Senate race with 42%, followed by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (I) at 27% and Scott McAdams (D) at 25%.

Coons Holds Big Lead in Delaware

A new Fox News poll in Delaware shows Chris Coons (D) leading Christine O’Donnell (R) in the U.S. Senate race among likely voters, 54% to 39%.

Interesting: If Rep. Mike Castle (R) had won the Republican nomination, he would lead Coons by the same margin, 48% to 33%.

Clinton Warns of Republican Investigations

clinton2.jpgAt last night’s policy discussion, Bill Clinton was asked what Democrats can do to channel voter anger and try to close the enthusiasm gap seen in so many polls.

Clinton noted that of the fundamental economic issues facing the country, “no one is talking about this in ways that people can understand. We just say ‘oh, people are just too mad to think.’ That’s insulting to people. ‘They’re too apathetic to care.’ That’s insulting.”

Said Clinton: “You’ve got to paint a picture for people.”

He also said that Americans have to realize that by not voting, “there’s an 80% chance you’ll get what you don’t want.”

One thing he believes voters don’t want is Republican-led congressional investigations. If Republicans take control of the House, he warned they are prepared to “reward” President Obama for not investigating Bush administration abuses with “two years of unrelenting investigations.”

“That might shake up all these apathetic Democrats and get them to vote again.”

Cuomo Gets Angry

The New York Daily News reports that “an angry Andrew Cuomo summoned his war council to figure out how to fight back against his slash-and-burn GOP rival” Carl Paladino (R) in the race for New York Governor.<br /><br />

“The counterattack planning session came after Paladino issued a taunting letter that questioned Cuomo’s manhood, ripped his pop’s performance as governor – and taunted him to ‘for the first time in your life be a man.'” <br /><br />

Cuomo’s money quote: “If a guy says you have no cojones, how do you punch him back, call him an asshole?”

Miller Admits Getting Farm Subsidies

Alaska U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller (R), who opposes federal spending on agriculture, “is acknowledging receiving farm subsidies during the 1990’s from land that he owned in Kansas,” the Anchorage Daily News reports.

A spokesman said Miller “purchased the farmland in 1990 when he was in the Army and essentially rented it out to be farmed, finally selling the last of the 140 acres that was being farmed in 1998.”

Clinton on the Tea Party

clinton.jpgAt an intimate policy discussion on the eve of the Clinton Global Initiative meetings in New York City, former President Bill Clinton was asked if he saw similarities between today’s Tea Party movement and the supporters of Ross Perot during his presidency.

While Clinton noted both are middle class and right-of-center, the Perot movement was embodied by one man while the tea partiers are more diffuse and the movement has been hijacked by “ultra-right, corporate interests… whose real goal is to dismantle the government and empower the most ideological private economic forces.”

Nonetheless, the anger they feel is very real. Clinton made the point that “big business has done well and people who caused the financial turmoil are already back in the saddle — they’re doing fine. And the government that gave them the TARP bailout — you’re doing fine; you’ve got a job, you can send your kid to college, you’ve got healthcare. The middle class squeeze is basically occurring to non-government private sector workers… They’ve been squeezed by both big business and government.”

In short, Clinton said, “I’m sympathetic with these Tea Party folks. American public and private systems need to be modernized and changed so they’re more accountable to people and they help the middle class more. I 100% agree with that. They’re right.”

Patrick Maintains Lead in Massachusetts

A new Suffolk University poll in Massachusetts finds Gov. Deval Patrick (D) leading Charlie Baker (R) in the race for governor, 41% to 34%, with Tim Cahill (I) in third place at 14%.

Key finding: Nearly half of all voters don’t know Baker or haven’t made up their minds yet about him. Among those who know Baker, he actually beats Patrick 39% to 38%.

Said pollster David Paleologos: “Charlie Baker doesn’t need Tim Cahill (to exit the race) to win this. Charlie Baker needs Charlie Baker to win this.”

Prosecutors Told Jackson was Behind Scheme

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) “directed a major political fundraiser to offer former Gov. Rod Blagojevich millions of dollars in campaign cash in return for an appointment to the U.S. Senate, sources said the fundraiser has told federal authorities,” the Chicago Sun Times reports.

Jackson, who is considering a bid for Chicago mayor, challenged federal prosecutors to “bring it on” in a radio interview if they have evidence he was a conspirator in Blagojevich’s corruption case.

Reid Calls Gillibrand “Hottest Member”

Politico reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) gave Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) “an unusual form of praise” at a closed-door fundraiser.

Said Reid: “We in the Senate refer to Sen. Gillibrand as the hottest member.”

“The comment prompted Gillibrand to turn red… and created a bit of stir among the small crowd there.”

Incidentally, The Hill had Gillibrand as the third “most beautiful” on Capitol Hill.

Corbett Well Ahead in Pennsylvania

A new Quinnipiac poll in Pennsylvania finds Tom Corbett (R) with a fifteen point lead over Dan Onorato (D) in the race for governor, 54% to 39%.

Said pollster Peter Brown: “Corbett is in strong position to be Pennsylvania’s next governor. Not only is his lead substantial, but his supporters are slightly less likely to say they might change their minds than are Onorato’s. Only 7 percent of voters are undecided. So Onorato must win all of those voters and convert Corbett supporters as well.”

Blunt Continues to Lead in Missouri

A new Global Strategy Group poll in Missouri finds Roy Blunt (R) leading Robin Carnahan (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 43% to 39%.

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