POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 9/27

GOP Leadership Ignores Ryan

John Batchelor notes Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) — the Republican party’s “fiscal star” — skipped last week’s “Pledge to America” rollout.

“Why was Ryan a no-show? Ryan’s flacks claim his absence was a scheduling problem, which is a deliberately uncreative excuse. Ryan’s allies say he skipped the event because he’s genuinely stumped about why the leadership ignored his celebrated “Roadmap” that lays out a utopia in which America would solve health care, Social Security, taxes and jobs with Leprechaun dust and diligence. Nothing of Ryan’s years of homework is to be found in the “Pledge,” and the absence is so obvious that the whispering is that Ryan is either in fresh disfavor or worse, self-exile.”

Many Want Health Care Law to Do More

A new Associated Press poll finds that Americans who think President Obama’s health care law should have gone further outnumber the ones who think the government should stay out of health care by 2 to 1.

Roughly four in 10 adults think the new law did not go far enough to change the health care system, regardless of whether they support it, while just one in five say they oppose the law because they think the federal government should not be involved in health care at all.

While the results are no endorsement for Obama’s plan, they indicate a deep-seated desire for change that could pose a problem for Republicans who want to repeal the new law.

Obama Administration Seeks Greater Wiretap Authority

Federal law enforcement and national security officials “are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is ‘going dark’ as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone,” the New York Times reports.

“Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct ‘peer to peer’ messaging like Skype — to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.”

Really Obama’s War

President Obama “grew so frustrated with his own administration’s deliberations over the war in Afghanistan that he wound up writing his own strategy, dictating a six-page, single-spaced ‘terms sheet’ that sought to define the military mission and prevent his commanders from further escalating the war, according to a new book by journalist Bob Woodward,” ABC News reports.

Said Woodward: “This is Obama’s war. He really became the strategist-in-chief.”

Obama Approval Hits New Low

A new CNN poll finds President Obama’s approval rating has hit an all-time low with just 42% of Americans now approving of how he’s handling his job as president.

Meanwhile, a new Politico/GWU Battleground Poll finds that only 38% of Americans believe Obama deserves to be reelected in 2012, even though a majority of voters hold a favorable view of him on a personal level. Forty-four percent said they will vote to oust him, and 13% said they will consider voting for someone else.

Grassley Headed for Big Win

A new Des Moines Register poll in Iowa shows Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) well on his way to re-election and leading challenger Roxanne Conlin (D), 61% to 30%.

Very Close in Massachusetts

A new Boston Globe poll in Massachusetts finds Gov. Deval Patrick edging Charlie Baker (R) in the race for governor, 35% to 34%, with Tim Cahill (I) at 11% and Jill Stein (G) at 4%.

“The poll indicates that voter turnout on Election Day will be key. The current trend favors Baker, because Republicans are much more enthusiastic about the election than Democrats. Some 78 percent of likely GOP voters say they are excited about the race, compared with only 37 percent of likely Democratic voters.”

Said pollster Andrew Smith: “The energy in this election is certainly on the Republican side. That spells trouble for Patrick.”

Sanford Will Not Rule Out Return to Politics

The Wall Street Journal interviews South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R), noting that he “chose love over politics.”

“Mr. Sanford was coy about his relationship with Maria Belen Chapur, the woman who started what he calls the storm of the past 15 months. But he acknowledged the two have seen each other, over a long weekend in May in the Florida Keys. And a person close to him said the two also met in New York. She has yet to visit South Carolina, this person said.”

Said Sanford: “I’ve discussed my emotions way more than I ever wanted or needed to. Let me just say I’m quite content where I am right now and hopeful of things to come.”

As for running for office again, all Sanford will say, “Never say never.”

Quote of the Day

“I shaved that off a year ago. Are you blind?”

— New York Gov. David Paterson (D), appearing on Saturday Night Live, mocking impersonator Fred Armisen for still having a beard when he portrays the governor. It’s Paterson, of course, who is blind.

Dayton Leads Three-Way Minnesota Race

A new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll finds Mark Dayton (D) leading Tom Emmer (R) among likely voters in the race for governor, 39% to 30%, with Independence Party candidate Tom Horner gaining ground at 18%.

“The poll suggests that little has changed in voters’ minds since the last Minnesota Poll in July, despite two intensive months of harsh advertising, almost daily debates and new details from all the candidates on how they plan to address the state’s daunting budget deficit.”

Conway Closes Gap in Kentucky

The latest Courier-Journal/WHAS11 Bluegrass Poll in Kentucky shows Rand Paul (R) edging Jack Conway (D) in the race for U.S. Senate, 49% to 47% with four percent still undecided.

The previous survey found Paul with a 15 point lead.

Said pollster Jay Leve: “Whether that is a result of genuine traction for (Conway), second thoughts about his opponent, or a newly raised consciousness among voters who a month ago were not focused on the contest, I am not sure.”

Perry Continues to Lead in Texas

A new Dallas Morning News poll in Texas finds Gov. Rick Perry (R) has “a solid but not insurmountable lead” over Bill White (D) in the race for governor, 46% to 39%.

“In an anti-incumbent year, Perry’s 10 years as governor doesn’t seem to bother Texans. He leads among whites, older voters and Republicans, groups that traditionally turn out heavily on Election Day. He’s also attracting more women, is far ahead in rural Texas and is dividing the vote in urban areas. Perry leads in Dallas-Fort Worth and is drawing about even with White in the challenger’s hometown of Houston, where he was mayor.”

Said pollster Mickey Blum: “He certainly looks like he’s headed for another term.”

Portman Leads by Double-Digits in Ohio

A new Cincinnati Enquirer/Ohio Newspaper Poll of likely voters finds Rob Portman (R) with a 15 point lead over the Lee Fisher (D) in the race for U.S. Senate, 55% to 40%.

Said pollster Eric Rademacher: “All this shows that Lee Fisher has a very steep hill to climb if he is to get back into this race.”

Kasich Has Edge for Ohio Governor

A new Cincinnati Enquirer/Ohio Newspaper Poll of likely voters shows John Kasich (R) holds a four point lead over Gov. Ted Strickland (D) in the race for governor., 49% to 45%.

Said pollster Eric Rademacher: “Gov. Strickland would probably be pleased to be behind by only four percent after some of the polls that showed him much farther behind. But, the fact is, for an incumbent governor, it’s a little bit late in the year to be under 50 percent support… Kasich’s support seems solid; Strickland’s, a little more soft.”

Branstad Holds Huge Lead in Iowa

A new Des Moines Register Iowa Poll shows shows former Gov. Terry Branstad (R) leads incumbent Gov. Chet Culver (D) by 19 points in the race for governor, 52% to 33%.

Key finding: “At the heart of Culver’s problems is a stubborn low job approval: Only 35% of Iowans approve of Culver’s performance in office, about the same as in February’s Iowa Poll and down 15 percentage points from a year ago.”

Patrick Still Leads in Massachusetts

A new Western New England College poll in Massachusetts shows Gov. Deval Patrick (D) leading Charlie Baker (R), 39% to 33%, with independent Tim Cahill (I) at 16% and Green candidate Jill Stein (G) at 3%.

Boxer Leads in California by Eight Points

A new Los Angeles Times/USC poll in California finds Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) leading challenger Carly Fiorina (R) in the U.S. Senate race by eight points among likely voters, 51% to 43%.

Key finding: “But the major headwind against Fiorina may be the president. Fiorina has vowed if elected to work against the president’s agenda, yet California voters were unequivocal about their desire for a supportive senator. Among likely voters, 56% wanted Obama supported, and only 34% wanted a senator who would be an opponent.”

Brown Leads for California Governor

A new Los Angeles Times/USC poll in California finds Jerry Brown (D) leading Meg Whitman (R) in the race for governor by five points among likely voters, 49% to 44%.

Key point: “Brown has withstood Whitman’s fusillade of negative advertising over the summer; the poll began only one week after Brown started airing his first television ads of the campaign.”

Crist Fades in Florida Senate Race

A new Mason-Dixon poll in Florida shows Marco Rubio (R) with building lead over Charlie Crist (I) in the U.S. Senate race, 40% to 28%, while Kendrick Meek (D) appears to be closing in on Crist with 23%.

Said pollster Brad Coker: “Rubio seems to be in a solid position to win, while Crist is fading. Crist is bleeding Democrats to Meek and independents to both Meek and Rubio… Rubio, in fact, only needs to gain 2-3 points to wrap up the race. The only way Rubio could lose is if the support for Crist or Meek dropped under 15 percent. That could happen, but it would require an almost total abandonment by Democrats from Crist to Meek, or vice-versa.”

Thune Moves Toward Presidential Bid

Weekly Standard: “John Thune is likely to run for president in 2012. If he wins the nomination, it will be because he is an exceptionally skilled retail politician who can communicate a kind of midwestern, common sense conservatism that is ascendant in reaction to liberal profligacy… It also helps that he’s cultivated the nationwide donor base that gave him $14.5 million to defeat Tom Daschle in 2004. And that South Dakota borders Iowa. And that he’s good on television. And that he’s a devout Christian who can quote Scripture without seeming to proselytize.”

“But there are many obstacles. He has virtually no national profile. He worked briefly as a lobbyist. He voted for TARP. He is a defender of earmarks. He would be running against Washington from Washington.”

Sandoval Keeps Double-Digit Lead

A new Mason-Dixon poll in Nevada finds Brian Sandoval (R) leading Rory Reid (D) in the race for governor by 14 points among likely voters, 51% to 37%.

Public Opinion Strategies survey released yesterday had Sandoval’s lead at just six points.

O’Donnell on Evolution

Sticking to his promise to keep releasing tapes of Delaware U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell (R), Bill Maher showed a video clip last night from his show in 1998 in which O’Donnell argued that evolution is a “myth.”

O’Donnell explained: “Well then why aren’t monkeys still evolving into humans?”

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